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Samsung Still Facing Challenges Recovering Galaxy Note 7 Phones

December 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung’s recall of Galaxy Note7 smartphones because of exploding batteries remains a challenging task, and some users, for example, in Canada, are still not exchanging their devices for a refund or a different phone.

The South Korean company has decided to cut these phones from the network, adopting similar measures to those taken last month in New Zealand and earlier this month in Australia.

The company said Wednesday that starting Dec. 12, functional limitations on Note7 phones, including curbs on the battery charge, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disablement will be introduced in Canada.

From Dec. 15, customers still using the Note7 will no longer be able to connect to any Canadian mobile network service to make calls, use data or send text messages. Samsung said it had been able to secure nearly 90 percent of the Note7 devices that were brought into the Canadian market.

When Samsung announced in September a recall of the Note7 in tandem with Health Canada, a Canadian federal government department, it was said that about 22,000 of the recalled smartphones were sold in the country.

Samsung announced a global recall of the Note7 in early September after it found a “battery cell issue.” The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Sept. 15 announced a recall in the U.S. of about 1 million Note7 phones as it found that the lithium-ion batteries in the devices could overheat and catch fire. By Oct. 13, the CPSC expanded the recall to include replacement Note7 phones that Samsung had supplied to customers under the first recall as they too were found to have the battery problem.

The company also stopped production of the phones. It has yet to explain in detail what caused the batteries to explode. A recent report suggested that the phone design could compress the battery even during normal operation.

Samsung said on Dec. 1 that it was working with local carriers to disconnect from Dec. 15 Note7 phones that were still being used by customers in Australia. Note7 owners in the country responded well to the recall, but a small number of affected devices are still with them, the company said. Customers in New Zealand were to be disconnected from Nov. 18.

The Note7 recall has been both a public relations and financial debacle for Samsung. The company has reported that the third quarter revenue of its IT and Mobile Communications division was down 15 percent from the same period last year to 22.5 trillion Korean won (US$19.8 billion) while operating profit fell 95 percent to 100 billion won, as a result of the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note7.

Is FitBit King Of Wearables?

December 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

You might not be aware of it, because the Tame Apple Press is going on an offensive, but Apple is losing the wearable’s market to Fitbit.

Today the tech press was full if a bizarre story claiming that Apple was going to clean up this Christmas with its iWatch. This is news to use because we knew that sales in the iWatch were falling. Nevertheless, Tim Cook was being quoted on Reuters as saying this would be the best Christmas ever for Jobs’ Mob’s iWatch.

We wondered how the story even got printed but it turned out it was because another report came out from IDC which revealed that not only were Smartwatch shipments down 51.6 percent in the third quarter of 2016 but Apple’s iWatch sales had fallen by 71 percent.

The IDC report show that the overall wearables market is up 3.1 percent year over year, but the winner is Fitbit and not Apple.

Fitbit saw a year on year growth of 11 percent. It shipped 5.3 million units in Q3 2016, representing a 23 percent share of the market. The company looks set to acquire Pebble and eventually offer a true smartwatch of its own, cementing its position at the top of the pile.

Chinese giant Xiaomi sits in second place with a 16.5 percent market share and 3.8 million units shipped in Q3, while fitness brand Garmin is in third position with a 5.7 percent market share and device shipment volumes of 1.3 million.

Apple is in fourth place and Samsung is the last manufacturer on the list. It may only have a 4.5 percent market share thanks to its 1 million shipped units, but that still represents YoY growth of almost 90 percent.

Courtesy-Fud

Sony Plans To Release Six Smartphone Games Next Year

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

sony-smartphone-games-150x150Japan’s Sony Corp  will release as many as six mobile phone games in the next year, looking to build on its own gaming franchises success off of console rival Nintendo Co’s Pokemon GO.

The upcoming titles will free up some of Sony’s popular gaming franchises, such as Everybody’s Golf, from PlayStation consoles to make them available on Apple Inc’s  iOS and Google’s Android mobile platforms.

An aggressive push into the rapidly growing segment is seen as a necessity for Sony as its games unit has emerged as the group’s largest profit contributor following an overhaul of the group’s consumer electronics business.

Sony revealed on Wednesday a total of 10 mobile gaming titles it is working on, including those to be released in the financial year starting in April. The 10 titles include PaRappa the Rapper and Arc The Lad.

They will be available initially in Japan and eventually in other Asian countries, Tomoki Kawaguchi, executive director of Sony’s mobile gaming unit, told reporters.

The announcement comes before Nintendo debuts its game franchise Super Mario Bros on Apple’s iPhone next week.

While disappointing sales of Wii U consoles helped push Nintendo into mobile gaming, Sony has been a decisive winner in console gaming with over 40 million PlayStation 4 sales, almost double the sales of Microsoft Corp’s XBox One.

But Sony is facing the increasing threat from mobile in countries such as Japan, the world’s third largest game market where mobile gaming accounts for more than half of the $12.4 billion market, according to games research firm Newzoo.

Sony has launched some games for smartphones through its music entertainment unit but failed to fully introduce mobile gaming to its PlayStation business.

Analysts doubt Sony’s chances of major success in mobile gaming, citing a lack of powerful characters like Nintendo’s Super Mario and Donkey Kong, which have achieved widespread appeal globally.

Apple Watch Sales Off To A Strong Start During Holiday Season

December 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

apple-watch-2-150x150Sales of the Apple Watch to consumers racked up an impressive record during the first week of holiday shopping, and the current quarter is on track to be the best ever for the product, Apple Inc  Chief Executive Tim Cook told Reuters.

Cook said the gadget’s sell-through – a measure of how many units are sold to consumers, rather than simply stocked on retailers’ shelves – reached a new high.

Cook’s comments followed a report on Monday from technology research firm IDC estimating that the tech giant sold 1.1 million units of the Apple Watch during the third quarter of 2016, down 71 percent from the year-ago quarter. The comments offer a glimpse of the gadget’s performance during the holiday quarter, which is typically Apple’s strongest.

 “Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year,” Cook wrote.

“Sales growth is off the charts. In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history. And as we expected, we’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch,” he said.

Cook did not respond to a request for specific sales figures for the gadget.

Apple has disclosed few details about the performance of the Apple Watch, its first new product released under Cook. The company has not broken out sales of the gadget in its earnings, instead lumping it into an “other products” category that includes devices such as the iPod and Apple TV.

Strong sales of the Apple Watch are to be expected during the holiday quarter as the gadget is a more natural gift than some of the company’s other products such as the iPhone or Mac computer, said analyst Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research. Apple also lowered the price of the gadget this year, potentially helping the holiday sales comparison, O’Donnell noted.

 

Mozilla’s Search Deal With Yahoo Appears To Be Paying Off

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mozilla-logo-2-150x150Mozilla has reported that revenue for 2015 was up 28% over the year before, the biggest increase in three years.

Nearly all the $421 million booked by the Mozilla Foundation came from royalty payments, the bulk of which originated, as always, from search deals that set defaults in the Firefox browser.

Mozilla Foundation is the nonprofit organization that oversees Mozilla Corp., the commercial arm which builds and maintains Firefox for personal computers and smartphones.

According to a financial statement, $417 million, or 99% of all revenue, came from royalty payments. The percentage of revenue derived from royalties has never dipped below 91% — Mozilla’s fortunes have always been tightly linked to the Firefox search deals — but 2015’s portion was the highest since 2010.

 Although Mozilla has tried to diversify its revenue sources, notably in early 2014 when it experimented with in-browser advertising, those attempts have not succeeded. Mozilla dropped the in-Firefox ad idea in December 2015, for example.

Nor has it been able to monetize mobile to any extent: Its Android and iOS versions of Firefox — the latter is actually just a wrapper around Apple’s Safari browser — have never been able to collect more than a minuscule portion of the market. Mozilla’s revenues, then, largely rely on the desktop Firefox, which runs on Windows, macOS and Linux.

Search-based revenue was approximately $410 million, representing 98% of all royalty income and 97% of Mozilla’s total revenue. The $410 million was $119 million more than in 2014, representing a 41% increase.

Mozilla was able to squeeze more out of its Firefox search deals because of two decisions it made in late 2014. First, it dumped the global arrangement it had with Google — whereby Google’s search engine was the default for virtually all copies of Firefox — and instead struck country-specific or regional deals with a dozen different search and information providers. Secondly, it negotiated a lucrative deal with Yahoo, which was made the default search provider for U.S. Firefox users.

The second deal was the more important of the two. Yahoo paid Mozilla about $375 million in 2015 — and is contracted to continue payments of that size until 2019 — or approximately $100 million more than Google laid out in 2013, the last full year of its Firefox arrangement. Other search contracts contributed $35 million to Mozilla’s coffers, Computerworldcalculated from the organization’s financial statement and tax return.

Mozilla trumpeted the change in search strategy even as it declined to point out the positive impact to its bottom line. “We decided that one global default search partner was no longer the right choice for our users or the web,” the organization said in a “State of Mozilla” report. “Instead, we adopted a more local and flexible approach by country to control our own destiny and to diversify the user experience and competitive landscape of web search globally.”

Panasonic Explores ZKW Group Acquisition, Push Into Automotive Electronics

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

panasonic-logo-150x150Japan’s Panasonic Corp  is holding discussions to acquire European automotive light maker ZKW Group, accelerating its push into the automotive electronics market, a person familiar with the matter said.

The deal could be worth up to $1 billion and the two companies could reach a basic agreement as early as this month, the Nikkei business daily reported Monday.

An acquisition of ZKW would expand Panasonic’s automotive lineup, which currently centers on batteries and navigation systems, as it shifts its focus to corporate clients to escape price competition from lower-margin consumer electronics manufacturers.

 Panasonic said in a statement the reported deal was not something it had announced, and declined to comment further.

Austria-based ZKW declined to comment. It employed more than 5,900 staff at the end of last year and has plants in Austria, India, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, China, the United States and Mexico, according to its website.

Privately held ZKW supplies light-emitting diode headlights and lighting modules to U.S. and European automakers such as General Motors Co and BMW. It forecasts sales of about 900 million euros ($949.59 million) in 2016.

“ZKW is among various deals that Panasonic is considering,” said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and asked not to be named.

“But no details have been decided and the deal could fall through,” he said.

Panasonic has earmarked 1 trillion yen ($8.80 billion) for strategic investments including mergers and acquisitions for the four years through March 2019. Of that amount, 70 percent has been already completed or allocated for specific deals, the company has said.

The possible acquisition comes at a time when rival electronics makers are also pushing into the automotive industry. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd agreed in November to buy Harman International Industries in an $8 billion deal.

Panasonic is targeting annual sales of 2 trillion yen for its automotive business in the year ending in March 2019, up from 1.3 trillion yen in the last financial year that ended in March.

PC Shipments Expected To Finally Rise In 2017

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

While PC shipments are set to decline in 2016, beancounters at IDC think that the drop will be better than expected and there will be an improvement in 2017.

IDC expects PC vendors to ship a total of 258.2 million units this year, a figure which would be 6.4 percent lower than last year. It had been expected that there would be a 7.2 percent fall. Now IDC is saying that growth will still be negative in 2017, but shipments are expected to decrease by just 2.6 percent compared to this year.

Commercial shipments of notebooks will grow this year, while desktops should stay flat in terms of growth. The pressure from mobile devices is said to decrease as the markets mature. The tablet market in particular is not as big of a concern or threat to PCs as it is declining too.

IDC Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research vice president Loren Loverde said that the PC market continues to perform close to expectations.

“Some volatility in emerging regions is being offset by incremental gains in larger mature markets while the interaction with tablets and phones is stabilizing. We continue to see steady progression toward smaller desktops and notebooks as replacement buying helps stabilize overall shipments in the coming years”.

Looking towards 2020, IDC claims that the market will still face a decline in terms of unit shipments, but only a small one at 0.8 percent. In 2020, PC vendors are expected to move 250 million units.

IDC Devices and Displays senior research analyst Neha Mahajan said:

“Despite continued weakness in the consumer segment, the US PC market is showing some signs of stability in the near future with some sources of optimism for the long haul. Backed by early Windows 10 transitions that are expected to boost commercial PC shipments in the next couple of years, and steady growth of PCaaS (PC as a Service) which should help shorten refresh cycles of commercial systems in the long-term, the overall US PC market sentiment certainly seems to be improving”.

Courtesy-Fud

Is There A Need For A Mobile Netflix?

December 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

hatchA former Rovio exec has formed a new firm that hopes to revolutionize the way mobile games are played with Hatch, a new cloud-based streaming platform for smartphones.

Unveiled during this week’s Slush Festival in Finland, the venture is headed up by CEO Juhani Honkala, previously SVP of Rovio Entertainment, and centers around an instant game collection that players will be able to access without the need for downloads, installations or updates.

The service is planned for soft launch on Android in 2017, with iOS and other platforms to follow. There will be around 100 games available at launch, with Honkala promising Slush attendees that users can “start playing any game as easily as watching a movie on Netflix”. The cloud-based server technology has been run in partnership with Huawei Technologies.

Major partners already on board range from Bandai Namco, Taito and Ubisoft to notable independent developers such as Ustwo Games and Double Fine Productions. Titles already on the way will include Badland, Broken Age, Cut The Rope 2, Leo’s Fortune, Monument Valley, Pac-Man CE DX, Rayman Fiesta Run, République, Space Invaders Infinity Gene and more.

“I’d like to invite you all to be part of this journey,” Honkala said, addressing the developers in the audience, before giving an overview of Hatch’s new business model.

Honkala’s firm will handle the monetization of games on Hatch so developers can focus on the creation process without having to think about how to get users spending. Games will be monetized with “integrated, unobtrusive advertising and brand storytelling, as well as optional paid subscription that unlocks additional features and content”, according to the official release. There will be no in-app purchases, with Hatch’s library focusing on “full-featured, premium experiences”.

The service will also eventually feature exclusive games known as Hatch Originals, for which Honkala and his team are currently seeking investors.

The CEO pointed to how Spotify and Netflix has changed how people enjoy music and movies respectively, as well as how the rise of YouTube, Instagram and easily-shared content has “created a completely new generation of superstars”.

“There hasn’t been that kind of disruption in the mobile gaming industry,” he said. “We are playing mobile games exactly the same way as we used to play them five years ago. There has been no real innovation.”

In addition to its role as a games-streaming platform, Hatch’s built-in social functionality is designed to get more players connecting. Users will be able to rewind their gameplay and select video clips that can instantly be shared via Hatch or more established social media platforms.

There will also be multiplayer capabilities, and not just in the way you might expect. Recalling his childhood of playing single-player games together with friends and family, Honkala said Hatch will allow users to work together on titles such as Cut The Rope – even if they’re in different locations. Connected players will be able to share the game’s controls and chat about their next move or strategy.

“It’s not only about gaming,” he said. “It’s a new way to spend quality time with the people you love.”

He added: “The mobile has become the major gaming platform on the planet and mobile games bring joy to millions and millions of people around the world. But somehow I feel something very important got lost in the process.

“The numbers show that yes, we are playing more than ever but we are not really communicating, we are not sharing and we are not really playing together any more. When was the last time you really played together with your friends and family?”

The introduction of Netflix-style subscriptions is one experts have been predicting, with App Annie’s CMO Al Campa recently telling GamesIndustry.biz he expects to see the model break into the mobile games space soon. While game-streaming has previously been tried – most notably in the form of troubled service OnLive and Sony’s PlayStation Now – the complexities and high production of console-style titles has made it difficult for this concept to take off. The relative simplicity, at least in terms of file size and so on, of mobile games means Hatch could stand a good chance of delivering the cloud-based service the industry has been striving for over the past five years.

Courtesy-GI.biz

BMW To Launch New Version Of i3 Electric Car Next Year

November 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

bmw-i3-150x150German luxury automobile maker BMW plans to roll out a new version of its i3 electric car next year with a longer range and revamped design, German weekly Welt am Sonntag reported, citing company sources.

BMW will rework the front and rear of the i3 and equip the car with a new battery to increase its range substantially beyond the current 300 km maximum, the paper said, adding that the increase would be below 50 percent.

BMW has been torn about whether to accelerate development of new electric cars given its expensive early investment has only resulted in lackluster sales, with 25,000 i3s delivered last year.

 To help improve sales, BMW has already increased the battery range of its i3 city car by 50 percent this year.

BMW was not immediately available for comment on the newspaper report.

 

Is Word-Of-Mouth The Best Way To Advertise Games?

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Last week, over three and a half years after its initial release, Digital Extremes’ free-to-play shooter Warframe broke its concurrent player record with expansion The War Within, hitting Steam’s top three on the weekend of release, recording a maximum of 68,530 players online at once and logging an incredible 1.2 million hours of playtime in a single day. Across PC and the more recent Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game, over 1 million of the 26 million players who have registered since the game’s 2013 launch had played by November’s halfway point, beating all previous monthly unique records with a fortnight to go.

Those are impressive numbers, especially for a game at a point in its lifecycle where it could certainly be forgiven for slowing down – and it’s no anomalous bump. Instead, a quick glance at SteamSpy’s graphs for the game show a steadily increasing number of players for the game, as well as a very healthy schedule of updates, patches and big content drops. Rather than leeching users to other games as it ages, Warframe is going from strength to strength.

Meridith Braun, VP Publishing at Digital Extremes, says that it’s been a tight compromise of strategies – resulting in a success which far exceeds the expectations of a game which was initially seen as something of a make or break exercise. Key to that, she says, has been a careful acquisition process, but not one which has come at the cost of long term curation and engagement of existing players.

“It’s definitely a balancing act between catering development to new players and veterans of the game,” Braun explains, “but after 3.5 years, the core of the game has grown so much that for new players there are literally hundreds of hours of missions, quests, customising and exploring game systems before they catch up to where veteran players are.

“Whilst many of our updates focus on adding new content and improving game systems that our veterans are most interested in, earlier this year we took a fresh look at the new player experience and released an update that refined some of the tutorials, updated the UI, tied quests together to help the lore flow better, and revamped the market for easier functionality. It was not our most played update, like The Second Dream or The War Within, but it served a long-tail purpose of making Warframe more inviting and easier to understand for new players. It helps them navigate to the really intricate depths of the game with the intent to retain them long-term.”

“We spend very little compared to other free-to-play games that focus a large amount of their budgets on acquisition”

Polishing the tip of the spear is a tried and tested acquisition technique, but it’s not usually a way of sidestepping the vast costs which many companies associate with gathering new players. Warframe’s marketing, though, was forged in a crucible of necessity, at a time when budgets were almost non-existent. As a result, the studio has learned to maximise the gain from channels which deliver users without draining revenue, although the financial success of the game has also enabled them to operate in areas previously well beyond their price range.

“We spend very little compared to other free-to-play games that focus a large amount of their budgets on acquisition,” says Braun. “Warframe was a passion project – the studio’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass, if you will. There was barely budget to buy an account server for the game, let alone to spend on marketing at the time. We turned to viral everything to get the word out: live streaming, social media, Reddit, forums, PR, knocking on partner’s doors for promotional opportunities. Once we launched in open beta and more players got a taste of the game, it was clear we had something unique on our hands. Since then our acquisition strategy has focused primarily on our update schedule and community involvement.

“We discovered early on that frequent significant updates – updates that added dramatic gameplay changes, enhancements and content, and transparency with our community, brought in droves of new players. Now that we have more wiggle room in our coffers, we work the usual acquisition channels – online CPA-focused advertising, social media, streaming, etc. – but nothing beats age old word-of-mouth between players telling their friends to join in on a game that only gets better and better over time.”

What’s perhaps even more unusual about the current high that Warframe finds itself riding upon is that it comes at a time when the AAA shooter market is crowded with a wide spread of very high quality competitors – many of which are under-performing at retail. The game’s peak numbers come at a point when there are brand new Battlefield and Call of Duty games at market, as well as extremely well reviewed releases like the Titanfall and Dishonored sequels.

“Warframe was a passion project – the studio’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass, if you will. There was barely budget to buy an account server for the game, let alone to spend on marketing at the time”

Braun very much sees free-to-play as playing a significant part in the difficulties which Warframe’s boxed rivals are experiencing.

“I think we’re seeing the F2P model disrupting the standard retail model for larger budget games,” she says. “The continued rise of AAA-quality, free-to-play games coming to market – and their ability to fill the long gaps between large IP releases – is taking a bite out of the big game market. Just this year it was great to see F2P titles like Paragon and Paladins launch to great fanfare and numbers, I’m sure they both had some effect on the big budget FPS games alongside Warframe.

“It’s hard to compete with free. Sure, we want people to eventually pay for the entertainment they’re receiving – but when you have the ability to try out a game for free for as long as you want, a game with equally great production value, and then decide if it’s a game that deserves your money, that’s pretty stiff competition. The larger games also aren’t built to be as agile and reactive to the market after they ship. Free games at their core are made to continually update and improve, offering incredible value and entertainment over a longer period of time.”

Blizzard probably has a few things to say about the notion that free-to-play games offer the best long-term player engagement and responsive improvement, and Braun freely admits that games like Overwatch share that strategy of player curation. Warframe, she says, also offers something else, though. Because it wasn’t a Blizzard game, born almost fully-fledged and slickly functional, early adopters have had the joy of watching it smooth out its rougher edges.

“When Warframe first launched it was a shell of the size of game it has become, and our players have stayed with our growth throughout its life-span. They enjoy taking the ride with us, being a part of the evolution, experiencing game development from the front seat. If you’re not thinking about long-term engagement and game service at the heart of your game design as a good part of the future of gaming, you may have yet to come to grips with the dwindling projections of one-and-done games.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

GoDaddy Holding Talks On Host Europe Acquisition

November 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

godaddy1-150x150U.S. website domain name provider GoDaddy is in exclusive negotiations to acquire peer Host Europe Group (HEG) as it seeks to expand in higher-margin businesses beyond the initial set-up of websites, sources close to the matter said.

Arizona-based GoDaddy, the world’s largest website address registrar, has branched into hosting websites itself for small businesses and consumers.

Founded in 1997, the company became well-known in the United States for its sometimes outrageous TV marketing campaigns with celebrities or during the Super Bowl and other sporting events.

A purchase of HEG would help GoDaddy accelerate its shift into the more profitable web hosting business as well as broaden its customer base in Europe.

HEG, which serves mainly small and medium-sized businesses, is one of Europe’s largest independent web hosting firms and could be valued at about 1.7 billion euros ($1.8 billion), or over 12 times its forecast 2016 core earnings of 140 million euros, people familiar with the matter have said previously.

In 2015, HEG posted like-for-like adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 114 million euros on sales of 280 million.

In 2017, Deutsche Bank estimates GoDaddy can generate nearly $1 billion in revenue from domains, $750 million from hosting and another $325 million from selling applications to help customers run businesses on the sites set up through GoDaddy.

The U.S.-based company, backed by private equity firms KKR and Silver Lake, trumped rival bids from German Internet service provider United Internet, which had teamed up with private equity firm Warburg Pincus [WP.UL], and a third bid by buyout firm Centerbridge, the sources said.

Deutsche Telekom this month withdrew from the bidding process, as did Permira, which teamed with Interoute, part-owned by investor Aleph Capital.

Cinven, GoDaddy and KKR declined to comment. Silver Lake and HEG were not immediately available to comment.

Cinven bought HEG in 2013 for 438 million pounds and expanded the business with acquisitions.

Banks, expected to include Barclays, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and RBC, are lining up debt financing to back a potential deal between the two parties, totaling around 1.5 billion euros, or 4.5 times combined EBITDA, the sources said.

If a deal is struck, the financing could be launched before the year end. A financing of this size would be welcomed by Europe’s very liquid leveraged loan market, which has been eager for new paper and event-driven deals as demand has far outweighed supply so far this year.

 

In Spite Of The Note 7 Disaster Samsung Still Number 1

November 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics is still the number one global seller of smartphones in spite of the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco.

According to bean counters at the Gartner Group, Samsung sold over 71 million smartphones in the July-September period worldwide, accounting for 19.2 percent of the market.

It did lose market share (23.6 percent) from a year before and sales dropped 14.2 percent year-on-year. It is the company’s worst performance since its 12.3 percent drop in smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Gartner research director Anshul Gupta said:

“The decision to withdraw the Galaxy Note 7 was correct, but the damage to Samsung’s brand will make it harder for the company to increase its smartphone sales in the short term. For Samsung, it is crucial that the Galaxy S8 launches successfully, so partners and customers regain trust in its brand.”

However Apple did not benefit from Samsung’s hardships and its iPhone 7 did not pick up extra sales. Despite the launch of its iPhone 7 Plus, Apple sold 43 million smartphones, a 6.6 percent drop year-on-year.

Its market share declined from 13 percent to 11.5 percent, the lowest since the first quarter of 2009. The company’s sales fell by 8.5 percent in the U.S. and by 31 percent in China.

Gartner research director Roberta Cozza said that the withdrawal of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 may benefit sales of Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus only slightly, as Note 7 users are likely to stay with Samsung or at least with Android.

Google’s Android has captured market shares from Apple’s iOS, dominating nearly 88 percent of the total market in the smartphone operating system market.
The winners have been Chinese smartphone vendors posted significant growth, closing the gap with them.

Three Chinese vendors ? Huawei, Oppo and BBK Communication Equipment ? combined to carve out 21 percent of the global smartphone market. The trio reached 32 million, 24 million and 19 million orders, respectively.

Gartner said only the three among the global top five increased their sales and market shares during the quarter.

Meanwhile, global sales of smartphones tallied 373 million units in the third quarter this year, a 5.4 percent rise from a year earlier, according to Gartner.

Courtesy-Fud

Symantec Agree To $2.3 Billion Acquisition Deal For LifeLock

November 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

symantec-150x150Symantec Corp announced plans to acquire U.S. identity theft protection services company LifeLock Inc  for $2.3 billion, in a deal that it hopes will prop up sales at its Norton cybersecurity unit.

Symantec’s security software often comes bundled with personal computers. As a result, the company has suffered as consumers use mobile devices more than traditional computers. While Norton remains profitable, its sales have been falling.

“(Norton) had been declining with the declines in PC market share. This acquisition brings $660 million in revenue to the consumer business and returns it to longer sustainable growth,” Symantec Chief Executive Greg Clark said in an interview.

Reuters was first to report earlier on Sunday that Symantec was in the lead to acquire LifeLock.

Symantec’s purchase of LifeLock is in line with its efforts to diversify its offerings. In August, it bought Blue Coat Inc, which helps firms maintain security over the internet, in a $4.65 billion deal. Clark previously held the top job at Blue Coat, and made the switch after the deal closed.

Based in Tempe, Arizona, LifeLock offers services such as monitoring new account openings and credit-related applications in order to alert consumers about unauthorized use of their identity. It also works with government agencies, merchants and creditors to remediate the impact of identity theft.

Fran Rosch, executive vice president of Norton Business Unit, said that Symantec had dabbled in identity security but had nowhere near Lifelock’s 4.4 million members.

“We had to extend our value proposition. It was a no brainer for us to get back to growth,” Rosch said.

Symantec expects to finance the transaction with cash on balance sheet and $750 million of new debt.

The Mountain View, California-based company has been moving away from what is sees as more commoditized services, selling its data storage business Veritas in January to private equity firm Carlyle Group LP for $7.4 billion. Technology-focused firm Silver Lake Partners has also made a $1 billion investment in the company in two parts this year.

Symantec said the LifeLock deal is not expected to have a material impact on its financial results next year, and reaffirmed its fiscal year 2017 and 2018 guidance. The deal also represents a victory for activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp, which had pushed LifeLock to explore its options.

Walmart To Offer Web Sales Of Cyber Monday Deals Starting Friday

November 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

walmart-ecommerce-150x150Walmart Stores Inc will start offering online deals reserved for Cyber Monday two days earlier this year, joining a growing list of U.S. retailers who offer web promotions over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Walmart’s special web promotions will be available on Black Friday, the retailer said in a statement late on Sunday. Cyber Monday is the biggest day of the year for internet shopping and follows Black Friday, which is the busiest shopping day for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Walmart recently said it will boost its online inventory for Black Friday by more than half this year, as it pulls out all stops to grow online sales this holiday season. The retailer has grown its online inventory to 23 million items from 8 million at the start of the year.

 Walmart’s step to boost online sales comes at a time when Black Friday is losing its importance as early discounts and online shopping keep shoppers away from stores.

The year-end shopping season, which spans November and December, is crucial for many retailers because the two months can account for anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of their annual sales. The National Retail Federation expects industry holiday sales to grow 3.6 percent this year to $655.8 billion.

Walmart said orders that were ordered on the Walmart mobile app and picked up in store, increased more than 75 percent during the first two weeks of November from the same period a year earlier.

AOL Give Workers The Boot

November 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

aolLast week, AOL said it will be laying off five percent of its staff with nearly 500 employees expected to lose their jobs as part of a regrowth strategy for its mobile and video businesses.

Due to AOL’s deals over the past year, the company has decided there are a number of areas that need consolidating in order to “improve operations and limit the amount of hand-offs in our business processes”. According to CEO Tim Armstrong, most cuts will be focused in the company’s corporate units while resources are shifted towards mobile, video and data-related products.

Last October, the company added 1,500 jobs after it acquired Millenial Media for $238 million in a deal to expand its mobile advertising presence. The company is currently split into two major segments consisting of media and platforms. Major news brands such as HuffingtonPost and TechCrunch are included under media while its advertising efforts are part of the platforms group.

 “The layoffs are related to a 2017 strategy where we will add to our business,” he said. “These are super-targeted by area, and we will be re-growing, especially in video and mobile.”

Last May, Verizon agreed to purchase AOL for $4.4 billion, and later in July agreed to purchase Yahoo’s operating business for $4.83 billion with a goal of merging the two acquisitions into a single company that can compete with other digital media brands.

The Yahoo deal is expected to close in Q1 2017, but now Verizon is asking for a $1 billion discount after a dark web sale occurred containing 200 million customer accounts, along with disclosure of a previously unpublicized server breach containing personal information and unencrypted passwords from over 500 million customer accounts.

While Verizon and Yahoo continue discussions, AOL and Yahoo are expected to discuss integration strategies and determine leadership positions for several executives.

“Our planning process was built around [our] strategy and around the best way to operate that strategy,” said Armstrong in a memo to AOL staff. “Each area within the company was reviewed through the lens of our strategy and while we will be reducing some areas for 2017, other areas will add headcount and resources.”

Courtesy-Fud

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