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Health Insurer Aetna To Offer Discount On Apple Smartwatches

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

aetna-and-apple-150x150Health insurer Aetna Inc said it would provide some customers discounts on Apple Inc’s smartwatch, marking the first deal made by the tech giant with an insurer for its devices.

Aetna, which has about 23 million members in the United States, will also give away the Apple Watch for free to its nearly 50,000 employees, Aetna said in a statement on Tuesday.

The deal could help Apple boost the appeal of its Watch to potential customers as the company looks to target health and fitness conscious users with its new device.

Aetna will discount a significant portion of the cost, and will offer users monthly payment options to pay off the remaining amount.

The discounts on the devices will vary for customers, according to Aetna spokesman Ethan Slavin.

However, reaction to the second edition of the Apple Watch has been muted since its launch earlier this month with the device likely to remain a niche offering, according to some analysts.

Apple shipped 1.6 million units of the original Apple Watch, in the second quarter, down by 56.7 percent from last year, according to research firm IDC.

In comparison, Fitbit Inc shipped 5.7 million units in that period.

Aetna is also developing health applications for Apple’s devices that will remind users to take their medications, order refills for prescriptions and message or call their doctor.

The applications, which will use Apple Wallet to allow customers to pay their bills, will be available early next year.

Samsung Says Over 60% Of Defective Samsung Note 7 Phones Have Been Recovered

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung Electronics Co announced it has received back more than 60 percent of recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold in South Korea and the United States, suggesting it is making progress in its attempts to recover from the crisis.

In a statement, Samsung said it was focused on replacing all affected devices “as quickly and efficiently” as possible and reiterated its request that customers affected by the current recall should power off their device and turn them in.

The world’s top smartphone maker announced on Sept. 2 a global recall of at least 2.5 million Note 7 smartphones in 10 markets due to faulty batteries causing some phones to catch fire. The company says replacement devices it began issuing in mid-September use safe batteries.

Samsung hopes to take the faulty products off the market as soon as possible in order to limit further damage to its reputation and resume sales of the flagship device ahead of the key holiday shopping season in major markets such as the United States.

But the nearly month-long recall process has provided additional stumbles and embarrassment for the firm. Reports of Note 7 fires and damages have continued after the recall announcement, while aviation authorities around the world issued warnings or outright bans on the use or charging of the Note 7 on aircraft.

Samsung was also forced to push back the start of Note 7 sales in South Korea by three days to Oct. 1 due to relatively slow progress in the recall in its home market.

Some analysts say the cost of the recall and lost sales could wipe off nearly $5 billion in revenues for Samsung this year. Samsung said around 90 percent of customers who turned in their device through the exchange program have opted for a replacement Note 7, but it remains unclear how strong demand from new customers would be when sales resume.

Samsung Delays Re-start Of Galaxy Note 7 Sales

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has announced that it will be delaying the start of new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone sales in South Korea by three days to Oct. 1, a move it says is needed for speedy completion of the ongoing recall in the country.

Samsung announced on Sept. 2 a recall of at least 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in 10 markets, including South Korea, due to a faulty battery causing the phones to catch fire, offering refunds or replacement devices using safe batteries.

The firm hopes to complete the recall quickly and restart sales in the fourth quarter to salvage earnings, but the latest hitch in South Korea underscore continuing challenges in those efforts.

Though product exchanges in South Korea began on Monday, only about 200,000 affected customers have turned in their devices – which Samsung says represents half of affected customers and a recall pace that is much slower than other markets such as Singapore and the United States.

“The recall rate will likely fall sharply should new sales have resumed on Sept. 28,” the company said. Affected customers would no longer be able to exchange their devices through domestic carriers starting on Oct. 1, making the process more difficult.

Samsung hopes to restart new sales in affected markets once it makes enough progress with the recalls, having announced plans to restart sales in Australia and Singapore in October, but the nearly month-long recall process has provided additional stumbles and embarrassment for the firm.

Continued reports of Note 7 fires and damages after the recall announcement, along with warnings or outright bans from aviation authorities on the use or charging of the Note 7 on aircraft, forced Samsung to ask affected customers to immediately turn off their phones to prevent further damage.

Samsung issued an apology for the confusion caused by the delay and said it would do its best to resolve the current Note 7 situation quickly.

Yahoo Hacking Takes Top Spot As Biggest Breach

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

yahoo-hacking-150x150When Yahoo confirmed that data from at least 500 million user accounts had been hacked, it wasn’t just admitting to a huge failing in data security — it was admitting to the biggest hack the world has ever seen.

Until  last Thursday, the previous largest known hack was the 2008 breach that hit almost 360 million MySpace accounts, according to a ranking by the “Have I been pwned” website. Like the Yahoo breach, the hack was only publicly disclosed this year after data was offered on a hacker forum.

And only three breaches had ranked above the 100 million level:

LinkedIn reported a loss of 167 million email addresses and passwords. They were originally stolen in 2012 but not publicly disclosed until 2016, again after the data was offered on an underground “dark market” site.

A 2013 hack of Adobe saw 153 million account details lost. They included user names, email addresses, and encrypted passwords, but the encryption was poorly implemented and reversed on some accounts.

And there’s been a reported but unverified hack of dating website Badoo. Data including email addresses, names, and passwords for about 112 million members was found online.

The LinkedIn and MySpace data sets, along with 200 million Yahoo records, were put up for sale by the same hacker, peace_of_mind.

Major hacks can turn out to be a headache for users, even if the data is old and the account in question is no longer used. That’s because many people use the same password or a similar password across services, so a successful hack of Yahoo could expose an email address and password that would work on other sites.

Is Twitter About To Go On The Auction Block?

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-buy-button-150x150Twitter Inc has initiated discussions with several technology companies to explore putting itself up for sale, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, signaling the start of what is likely to be a slow-rolling auction of the high-profile but profit-challenged social media company.

A sale of Twitter has been the subject of on-again, off-again rumors for many months as the company grapples with stagnant user growth, soft advertising sales and losses running at hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The company’s business struggles have come even as the 10-year-old service has evolved into a potent global source of news, entertainment and social commentary.

CNBC, citing anonymous sources, reported on Friday that Twitter is in talks with companies including Google and may receive a formal bid soon. A source told Reuters that Salesforce.com is also in pursuit.

Twitter and Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company did not respond to a request for comment. Salesforce declined to comment.

Verizon, another company mentioned in media reports on Friday as a possible suitor, said it did not comment on M&A rumors but that it had not submitted a bid for the company.

Twitter shares jumped more than 19 percent to $22.22 per share on Friday, marking the largest one-day rise since their first day of trading in 2013. The company now has a market value of around $16 billion.

Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said Alphabet would be the best acquirer for Twitter since it has not yet been able to crack social media on its own despite several efforts.

“From a strategic standpoint, we think it would be more beneficial for Alphabet as opposed to Salesforce,” Mogharabi said. Former Google executive Omid Kordestani is executive chairman of Twitter.

Morningstar estimates Twitter could be bought for $22 per share. Twitter is working with investment banks Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co in considering possible transactions, sources familiar with the situation said.

Notebook Sells Spike In August

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Figures just in for August show that there has been a spike in the sales of notebooks.

Beancounters at Digitimes research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and come to the conclusion that the top-5 notebook vendors and top-3 notebook ODMs saw their shipments rise 27 percent  and 31 percent a month in August.

While it could mean that the notebook recession is over, the beancounters think that the spike is due to inventory preparation for the year-end holidays in Europe and North America, Windows 10’s annual upgrade, and mass shipments of Intel’s Kaby Lake processors.

The winner on the notebook front is HP which released some new products in August that successfully widened the vendor’s shipment gap by nearly 700,000 units. The number two was Lenovo. HP stayed firmly as the largest notebook vendor in the month. Dell turned its focus to the consumer sector in August, but its shipments only grew a single-digit percentage on month.

Digitimes Research said that Asustek Computer and Acer both saw boosts of 10 percent  on-month growths in August.

With HP’s significant shipment growth in August, the top three ODMs, which are all suppliers of HP, together achieved higher on-month growth than the top five vendors combined, while ODM’s combined on-year shipment growth turned positive for the first time in the past 16 months.

Quanta benefited from HP’s orders the most in the month, growing nearly 40 per cent from July.

Courtesy-Fud

Super Carmaker McClaren Denies Rumors Of Apple Takeover

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mclaren-and-apple-150x150McLaren shot down a reports that Apple Inc had made an approach for the British Formula One team owner and supercar maker.

“We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment,” a McLaren spokesman said.

“As you would expect, the nature of our brand means we regularly have confidential conversations with a wide range of parties, but we keep them confidential.”

The Financial Times newspaper, citing three sources it said had been briefed on negotiations, had reported that Apple had made an approach for a strategic investment or a potential buyout.

It reported that the automotive group could be valued at between 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) and 1.5 billion pounds.

Reports have suggested that Apple, which had no immediate response to the Financial Times story, is working on a self-driving car. The iPhone maker has hired dozens of automotive experts over the past year and is exploring making charging stations for electric cars. Apple also invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing earlier this year.

The McLaren Formula One team is partnered by Honda, who provide the power units. The team is the second most successful after Ferrari in terms of race wins and titles but has not won a grand prix since 2012.

New Orders For Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Resume In U.S.

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-150x150U.S. mobile carrier Verizon Communications Inc has resumed taking orders for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, after having stopped sales of the device earlier due to fire-prone batteries.

Samsung has recalled about 1 million Note 7 smartphones in the United States, offering to replace or refund the flagship phones. Their susceptibility to catching fire – with more than 100 cases reported across the globe – has damaged the image of the South Korean company.

Globally, the world’s top smartphone maker has recalled at least 2.5 million handsets, in a major setback for the company that is looking to claw back market share from rivals, including Apple Inc  that recently released its latest iPhones.

Samsung halted new sales ahead of the recall as it prepared replacement Note 7 devices with safe batteries.

The new Note 7 phones have been approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for all purchases and exchanges, Verizon said on its website, adding it has the Samsung device available for sale starting Wednesday.

The largest U.S. wireless carrier warned that initial quantities could be limited.

Samsung said in a statement on Tuesday that it had shipped more than 500,000 new Note 7s to U.S. carriers and retailers and that affected users will be able to exchange their recalled phones starting by Wednesday at the latest. The statement did not specify when new sales would start.

Rival carrier Sprint Corp’s website also showed the Note 7 available for order, providing a list of stores where customers can pick up a new handset by appointment.

Samsung did not immediately comment on the U.S. sales plans.

The firm previously said it will resume new sales in South Korea starting Sept. 28 and that sales in Australia and Singapore would resume sometime in October.

 

Nissan, Renault Team Up To Purchase French Mobility App Developer

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

nissan-and-renault-150x150Renault SA  and Nissan Motor Co announced that they will acquire French software development company Sylpheo as they compete with global automakers and tech firms to develop new services including ride hailing and car sharing.

The French and Japanese automakers said that the acquisition, under which they would absorb Sylpheo’s 40 engineers and consultants, would boost their software development and cloud engineering expertise.

“The Sylpheo team of software developers and cloud engineers joining the Alliance will have a unique opportunity to work on our next generation of connected cars and other advanced technologies,” said Ogi Redzic, Renault-Nissan’s senior vice president of Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services.

“They will be playing a critical role in this new era of tremendous change for the global auto industry.”

Automakers from Toyota Motor Corp to General Motors have been investing in software firms and mobility start-ups to position themselves for the rise of autonomous driving, ride-sharing and other connected services which threaten the traditional vehicle ownership model that has dominated the past century.

Sylpheo will develop the applications for the alliance’s connected car service platform, a Renault spokeswoman said. She said the acquisition was part of the alliance’s recruitment push to hire 300 technology experts to better compete in the fast-growing mobility services sector.

These services will be integrated with autonomous driving technologies. In July, Nissan launched a suite of semi-autonomous driving functions in one of its Japanese minivan models which enables the vehicle to drive on single lane motorways and navigate congestion.

The two companies plan to launch more than 10 vehicles with autonomous drive technology by 2020. Nissan is aiming to develop autonomous multiple-lane driving functions, including lane changes, by 2018, and functions for full urban driving, including intersection turns, by 2020.

Did Apple Really Drop The HeadPhone Jack To Gain Space?

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

It seems that Apple did not remove the headphone jack to allow it to provide more space after all.

When Apple killed off the speaker jack its CEO Tim Cook said, “that jack takes up a lot of space in the phone, a lot of space. And there’s a lot of more important things we can provide for the consumer than that jack.”

OK fair enough, so what did Apple do with the extra space? Well it turns out that the latest tear down carried out by iFixit found that Apple was doing nothing with the extra space it gained from getting rid of the headphone jack.

It wrote that in place of the headphone jack, is a component that seems to channel sound from outside the phone into the microphone. In other words, Apple has not put anything into the space at all, just some acoustics holes, which lead nowhere and molded plastic.

We somewhat cynically suggested that the reason that Apple got rid of the headphone jack was nothing to do with providing new functions on the iPhone 7. Instead we see it as a way to prop up its wireless headphone business .

It does appear that the tear down confirms this as it is unlikely that the iPhone 7 needed this fake plastic grill and acoustic holes. It appears to be a rather costly feature for the user who will now have to fork out a fortune for new headphones.

Courtesy-Fud

iPhone 7 Plus Outselling Smaller Version

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

iphone-7-plus-150x150Early data from U.S. sales of Apple’s latest iPhones suggested that the larger 7 Plus was outselling the smaller 7, according to market research data.

Of the iPhone 7 online pre-orders during the initial 48 hours of availability, 55% were for the 5.5-in. iPhone 7 Plus; the remaining 45% were for the 4.7-in. iPhone 7. That was the first-ever flip to the Plus size in the three annual cycles since Apple offered a big-screen iPhone in 2014.

According to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Slice Intelligence, U.S. buyers of the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus two years ago leaned toward the former in a split of 65% to 35%. The gap narrowed last year with the 6S and 6S Plus, when the smaller iPhone 6S accounted for 59% of the total, and the 6S Plus with 41%.

Slice based its data on a sampling of approximately 4 million U.S. consumers. Those people have opted in to Slice’s services or apps — including the same-named shopper’s assistant app for iOS and Android — or those of partners which license the firm’s technology, and so give Slice access to their email inboxes. Slice sniffs through the inboxes, then spots and copies emailed receipts for online orders.

Apple does not disclose the sales splits between iPhone models — or the various versions of its other hardware for that matter — but instead tallies all iPhones into a single number for each quarter.

Slice’s data hinted at a larger gross revenue number for Apple in the U.S. this launch cycle: The iPhone 7 Plus sells for $120 more than the iPhone 7.

Not surprisingly, Slice’s email receipts also showed that the iPhone’s new Black and Jet Black colors were the two most popular for pre-order customers, replacing the now-extinct Space Gray, which had been the top choice for the last two years. Nearly half of all iPhone 7 and 7 Plus orders (46% to be exact) were for the Black, said Slice, with another 23% were for the Jet Black.

Jet Black, a new highly polished finish, has been in short supply, high demand, or both: Apple ran out of that color almost as soon as pre-orders opened on Sept. 9. Currently, a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus will ship to U.S. buyers sometime in November, according to Apple’s e-mart, while a Jet Black iPhone 7 will ship three to five weeks after ordering.

 

PC Market Showing Signs Of Life

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

pcs-150x150The PC market is showing some signs of growth, with Intel boosting its revenue guidance based on improved chip shipments.

The chip maker has raised its revenue guidance for the third quarter to $15.6 billion, plus or minus $300 million, an improvement from $14.9 million, plus or minus $500 million.

That’s due to PC makers replenishing laptop and desktop inventory, which means Intel is shipping out more chips. It’s likely in anticipation of the holiday season, when PC shipments rocket.

“The company is also seeing some signs of improving PC demand,” Intel said in a statement.

In the second quarter of the year, PC makers slowed down chip orders and were clearing out existing stock of laptops and desktops. PC shipments declined by 4.5 percent during that period, according to IDC.

Shipments of gaming PCs, 2-in-1s and Chromebooks are driving PC shipments. Microsoft’s free upgrade offer to Windows 10 has also ended, which means users are more likely to buy new PCs to get Windows 10.

Meanwhile, new laptops with Intel’s Kaby Lake chips are now available. All the top PC makers have announced new 2-in-1s and laptops with Intel’s new chips. New Kaby Lake chips for gaming PCs will be announced in January.

Intel also has started shipping Pentium and Celeron chips, both aimed at low-cost laptops, based on the same architecture and code-named Apollo Lake. Many Chromebooks are based on Apollo Lake chips.

 

Will Samsung Ditch The Headphone Jack Too?

September 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-heaphoneaThe Apple Press is telling the world that Samsung is so impressed with Jobs’ Mob’s “brave move” to purge the headphone jack it is set to copy it.

However the basis of the story is one written by Digital Music News which interviewed some unnamed sources.

“News of Samsung’s strategic planning was supplied to Digital Music News this week from a pair of sources operating out of South Korea, both of whom are involved in the broader supply chain of Samsung’s smartphones. Both requested total confidentiality and limited identifying information, fearing sharp reprisals from Samsung, whose power within the South Korea technology and broader community is considerable and widely feared.”

The sources feared Samsung’s hit men so much that they declined from offering details on the actual proprietary ports and jacks under consideration.

But what they appear to be talking about is something connected to the development of the USB-C jack, which is already present on Motorola’s Moto Z and Moto Z Force devices. Those devices do not have a 3.5mm jack, and are far thinner. They also don’t have the problem of being wireless.

The cunning plan is that Samsung’s proprietary jack would be designed with all Android manufacturers in mind, with easy and cost-free (or extremely low-cost) licensing to encourage adoption.

This claims Digital Music News will kill off Beats and Apple because both would be too proprietary to be useful. Samsung’s phones would be proprietary but would see a greater adoption.The article does not mention that Samsung is going to go all wireless, in fact it does not appear to imply that it is copying Apple at all.

Courtesy-Fud

HP Acquires Samsung’s Printer Business For $1B

September 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

hp-building-150x150HP plans to offset its declining printer revenue by acquiring the printing business of Samsung Electronics.

It hopes the deal, valued at $1.05 billion, will help strengthen its position in the market for photocopiers, which it values at $55 billion annually.

The key to this, HP says, is Samsung’s portfolio of multi-function laser printers, capable of handling A3 paper.

Along with the printers, HP will also acquire a portfolio of 6,500 printing patents and a staff of 6,000, including 1,300 researchers and engineers.

In buying Samsung’s laser printing expertise, HP could be seeking to reduce its reliance on Canon, which today supplies all HP’s laser printer mechanisms and cartridges. Canon and HP said their existing partnership will continue, however.

Samsung is a minnow in the printing business compared to HP: Its printer revenue was less than one-tenth that of HP’s in the last fiscal year.

Printing activities don’t usually get a separate line in Samsung’s annual reports, where they are grouped with its visual display, digital appliances and health and medical equipment businesses as part of its consumer electronics division.

However, on Monday the company said its printer business brought in 2 trillion Korean won (around $1.8 billion) in 2015.

HP reported revenue of $21.2 billion for its printing segment in the year to Oct. 31, 2015, shrinking at 8.5 percent year on year.

Now separated from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HP’s revenue continues to decline. For the three months to July 31, it reported printing revenue of $4.4 billion, down 14 percent, out of total revenue of $11.9 billion.

 

Pandora, Amazon Both To Launch New Music Streaming Service

September 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

amazon-music-150x150Amazon.com Inc and Pandora Media Inc are gearing up to roll out new versions of their streaming music services in coming weeks, the New York Times has reported, citing several anonymous people with knowledge of the matter.

Pandora could announce its plans this to expand its $5-per-month platform this week, with possible features including skipping more songs or storing several hours of playlists, the newspaper said. The company plans to launch a full-fledged on-demand platform by Christmas. Such a platform, priced at $10 a month, would compete with Spotify and Apple Inc’ Apple Music.

Amazon, meanwhile, is expected to reveal a platform with a large catalog of music for $10 per month or about half that amount for customers using its Echo voice-activated speakers, according to the Times.

Both companies are close to completing months of negotiations for deals with record companies and music publishers that will allow them to offer the new services, the Times reported.

Amazon was preparing to launch a standalone music streaming subscription service at $9.99 per month, in line with major rivals, Reuters reported in June, citing sources.

Amazon so far has not responded to a request for comment. Pandora declined to comment.

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