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Patent Disputes Putting Xiaomi Smartphone Growth Plans In Jeopardy

December 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Patent wars have become commonplace with smartphone vendors across the world, and now Xiaomi is no exception. The Chinese company announced it had halted its product sales in India, due to a patent dispute with Swedish network equipment vendor Ericsson.

The legal troubles throw a wrench in Xiaomi’s international expansion, and could open the company to even more lawsuits from other patent holders, analysts warn.

In Ericsson’s case, the company said it had spent more than three years complaining to Xiaomi about the alleged patent infringement, which relates to the telecommunications technology used in the company’s phones.

“Ericsson, as a last resort, had to take legal action,” the company said in an email, which claimed that Xiaomi had declined to pay a fair licensing fee for the technology.

In response, Xiaomi said it was working with Ericsson to resolve the matter, without elaborating. But doing so will probably come at some financial cost.

Xiaomi has enjoyed an almost meteoric rise, becoming China’s top smartphone maker this year. However, the company was only founded in 2010, and doesn’t possess an extensive patent portfolio that so many older technology firms like Ericsson wield.

Although Xiaomi declined to comment on its patent activities, analysts expected that the company would eventually run into intellectual property matters at some point in its international expansion.

“It’s possible lawsuits will be filed in other countries, and not just from Ericsson, but other vendors that want to use patents as a weapon against Xiaomi,” said Wang Jingwen, an analyst with research firm Canalys.

Xiaomi, which still sells most of its phones in China, made India a focus of its international efforts. The company still has a small market share in the country, but its phones have been selling like hot cakes there.

It could simply end up paying Ericsson and other companies for access to their patents, but that could mean paying a hefty price.

“If Xiaomi is willing to pay for the licensing fees to Ericsson, the issue can be resolved,” said Xiaohan Tay, an analyst with research firm IDC. “But the higher cost for smartphones may be passed on to consumers, and Xiaomi may not be able to offer phones at such a low cost to consumers anymore.”

 

 

Instagram Still Gaining Users, Surpassed Twitter

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Photo-sharing site Instagram is reporting  that its active monthly user base reached 300 million, a dramatic 50% increase in the past nine months.

Instagram, which launched in 2010, edged past 8-year-old Twitter and its reported 284 million monthly active users.

Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, has nothing to worry about. In September, the social network reported that its own active monthly user base had hit 1.35 billion.

“Over the past four years, what began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day,” wrote Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom in a blog post. “We’re thrilled to watch this community thrive and witness the amazing connections people make over shared passions and journeys.”

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said Instagram’s impressive growth stems from its popularity with millennials, who have a strong connection with social networking, selfies and images.

“The younger generation, in particular, is a very visually oriented group that loves selfies,” Kerravala said. “Pictures just say more — they’re fast and easy. Instead of saying, ‘What a great view of the Grand Canyon,’ snap a photo and upload it.”

He noted that Twitter users can upload photos and short videos to the micro-blogging site, but the site is mainly used for its 140-character or less messages.

“I think Twitter is more for information dissemination, where Instagram is more about sharing content,” Kerravala said.

 

 

Amazon Considering Expansion Of Same Day Delivery Service

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The No. 1 U.S. online retailer is also exploring adding a same-day delivery option on all items sold by third-party merchants on its site, a move that some logistics experts said may help offset the high costs of speedy, last-mile delivery.

The company’s global ambitions for same-day delivery were echoed in at least seven listings for senior product and marketing jobs based at the company’s headquarters in Seattle, including three posted online this week.

“Our long-term vision is that customers can order and receive a sellers’ product the same day anywhere in the world,” according to one job listing posted in late October.

It is not clear when Amazon hopes to meet its goals and how it would extend same-day delivery to more third-party sellers, who account for 40 percent of items sold on Amazon’s website and pay fees between 8 percent and 20 percent in most categories.

An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.

Amazon offers same-day delivery in just over a dozen U.S. cities, charging $5.99 for members of its Prime program while non-members pay $8.99. In October, the company launched a same-day delivery service in the United Kingdom with newspaper delivery company Connect Group PLC.

A senior product manager role advertised on Tuesday called for a candidate to shape the future of same-day delivery and “drive large worldwide projects with huge customer-facing and financial impact.”

Offering fast shipping is a key piece of Amazon’s strategy to compete with brick-and-mortar stores. But the effort is costly – during the first nine months of 2014, Amazon’s shipping costs were more than double its shipping revenue.

But the potential payoff could be big, analysts say. According to a September survey by RBC Capital Markets, just 4 percent of Amazon customers used same-day delivery, but they spent 15 percent more than others.

 

 

 

Disk Storage Market Shows Strong Improvement

December 9, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Disk storage sales experienced stronger growth in the third quarter, aided by sales of non-branded storage gear sold directly to datacenters.

Third-quarter disk storage sales jumped 5.1 percent year over year, reaching $8.8 billion, according to research firm IDC. This was a change from the anemic growth the market saw earlier this year, brought on by falling demand in mature markets.

Sales of server-based storage with high capacity were up 10 percent in the third quarter. But the big bright spot was the influx of storage systems from original design manufacturers (ODMs) which design and produce hardware to other companies’ specifications. In the storage market, these manufacturers are bypassing traditional brands, selling directly to cloud service providers that put the equipment to use in hyperscale datacenters.

Similar trends appeared in an analysis of server market share published earlier by Gartner. It found that server purchases from ODMs by Google and Facebook were driving the market in the third quarter.

For the first time in its analysis of the storage market, IDC included ODMs’ sales. In the third quarter, ODMs collectively posted the highest level of growth, with their storage sales up 22 percent year over year.

Although the ODMs’ market share was only at 11.6 percent, the sales accounted for 43 percent of all storage capacity in the quarter.

IDC didn’t identify the ODMs, but the prominent ones are based in Taiwan and include Quanta Computer, Wistron Group and Inventec among others. The ODMs typically offer unbranded products, and they’ve been steadily growing in the server and storage market by selling directly to Google, Facebook and Amazon Web Services.

 

Increasingly Web services and cloud providers are tapping ODMs to design and build new storage architectures, “with limited or no involvement from traditional IT original equipment manufacturers,” IDC said.

 

 

Cisco Files Suit Against Rivals For Infringement

December 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc filed several lawsuits on Friday against Arista Networks Inc, alleging the smaller rival of copying its networking technologies.

The lawsuits, filed in a federal court in California, accuse Arista of infringing on 14 patents on networks and also on related copyrights, Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler said in a blog post.

Arista was formed by former Cisco employees, including Chief Development Officer Andreas Bechtolsheim, Chief Technology Officer Kenneth Duda, and Chief Executive Officer Jayshree Ullal.

“Rather than building its products and services based on new technologies developed by Arista, however, and providing legitimate competition to Cisco, Arista took a shortcut by blatantly and extensively copying the innovative networking technologies designed and developed by Cisco,” one of the complaints said.

Cisco is a leader in the networking world, with revenue of $12.2 billion in the third quarter. Arista, in contrast, reported sales of $155.5 million for the period, although it is growing fast.

Arista said it had not yet been able to evaluate the lawsuits.

“While we have respect for Cisco as a fierce competitor and the dominant player in the market, we are disappointed that they have to resort to litigation rather than simply compete with us in products,” Arista said in an emailed statement.

Cisco filed the lawsuits on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a $64 million patent infringement verdict that Commil USA LLC won against the company.

 

 

 

Will Dell Launch A Super Sleek Tablet At CES?

December 5, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Dell got back to us about the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet following our recent article, in which we pointed up that it has yet to ship. The company said the tablet will officially launch at CES 2015.

This is the tablet that Michael Dell held in his hand at IDF 2014 in September and later Jim Parsons promoted the sleek device in a commercial that aired less than two weeks ago.

Dell said-

“The Venue 8 7000 – the world’s thinnest at 6mm, with the world’s best display (2560 x 1600 OLED) and the first RealSense depth camera integrated into such a small form factor – is going to be officially announced with pricing and availability at CES.”

It cannot be clearer than that, but we would be a tad happier to know what sort of SoC Intel uses in this tablet is and it would be great to know the price. There is still a chance that this will be the thinnest tablet by the time it actually launches, although we don’t think that Dell will be the only brand launching new products at CES.

The competition never sleeps and after a lot of digging around the most serious candidate for the SoC inside the ultrathin tablet is the Intel Atom Z3580, a 22nm processor previously codenamed Moorefield. This SoC is a quad-core clocked at up to 2.33GHz and based on the Silvermont architecture. The prototype that Dell showed back at IDF 2014 and Dell World was running Android 4.4 and Morefield Atom Z35xx has been confirmed as the SoC of choice.

Moorefield is ready for 64-bit Android 5.0 and this might be the reason behind the slight delay. Let’s face it, Lollipop is the biggest Android refresh in years and it’s a big selling point.

There is no doubt that Airmont, the 14nm follow up architecture for mobile Atom has been delayed. In September 2013, Intel’s Hermann Eul, VP GM mobile communication group announced that Airmont 14nm Atom is coming in 2014. Well it didn’t show up and it won’t as 2014 is coming to an end.

The 14nm Airmont based Cherry Trail product has been pushed to 2015, so if all goes well Dell might be launching an updated Venue tablet later in 2015, powered with a new and improved Atom processor.

Courtesy-Fud

AT&T Changes Its Mind Again On Fiber Roll Out

December 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

AT&T now says it will continue its already-announced fiber optic network expansion to 100 cities, moving away from comments by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson after President Obama voiced support for net neutrality last month.

The move brought a strong response from critics who say the carrier’s fiber optic plans are mostly bogus and were designed as a competitive play against the ongoing Google Fiber rollout. The purported delay in AT&T’s investments was quickly seen as an empty threat.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sent Nov. 25, AT&T said won’t limit future fiber-to-the-premises deployments to 2 million homes as part of its $49 billion deal to acquire DirecTV. That contrasts with what Stephenson said Nov. 12.

“To the contrary, AT&T still plans to complete the major initiative we announced in April to expand our ultrafast GigaPower fiber network in 25 major metropolitan areas nationwide.” Robert Quinn, AT&T senior vice president for regulatory matters, said in the letter.

In his Nov. 12 appearance at a Wells Fargo investors conference, Stephenson had said AT&T would stop fiber rollouts beyond the 2 million for the DirecTV deal: adding: “We can’t go out and just invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities other than these 2 million not knowing under what rules that investment will be governed.” The 100 cities are included in the 25 metro areas AT&T cited in its letter to the FCC. Stephenson later said to Fox Business Network that it might be two to three years before AT&T starts investing again in fiber optic network rollouts to 100 cities.

Since it won’t limit its fiber deployment to 2 million homes, AT&T also told the FCC that it didn’t need to provide documents surrounding any decision to delay. AT&T also redacted from public view any details on its fiber rollout in the letter.

 

 

Yahoo Mail Finally Back In Europe

December 3, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Mail is back up and running after 11 days of downtime, although the service is unlikely to have many users left.

Yahoo confirmed that the service had returned to life in a statement, noting that the severed underwater cable to blame for the outage had been put back together.

A spokesperson for the company said: “The underwater fibre cable has been repaired and Yahoo Mail performance has returned to normal levels.”

Yahoo Mail has bounced back to life after a whopping 11 days of downtime. The firm first confirmed the problem on 20 November.

“We are aware that Yahoo Mail is slow or inaccessible for some of our users,” the firm elaborated in a statement sent to The INQUIRER last week.

“The issues were a result of an underwater fibre cable cut, caused by a third party while fixing a separate cable.

“The engineering team has rerouted email traffic to mitigate accessibility issues. A cable repair ship has been mobilised to fix the issue.

“We apologise for the inconvenience as we certainly understand email is a critical service for our customers.”

The length of the outage makes it unlikely that Yahoo Mail has a lot of users left hanging around, as many threatened to switch to Gmail or Outlook.

Several took to a forum on the downdetector.com site to voice their wrath.

On 26 November, Patti Wood complained: “My issues are 1) can’t use the email 2) I was never notified there was an issue. They should have posted it somewhere such as the log in page. Still waiting. Then they give you the phone number which refers you back to where you started and it goes round and round.”

Karen Dermody added, “Yet again, can’t get into Yahoo email. This is getting really ridiculous. Also third time this week for me.”

Many of the posters say they’ve already switched to Gmail owing to the downtime, or plan to move across shortly.

Typically, Yahoo Mail users have flocked to Twitter about the outage. One complains: “If Yahoo was #RBS they’d be fined £56m for locking us out of our accounts. How am I expected to run my business with #yahoomaildown?”

Another adds: “Nobody panic, @yahoomail are confident they will have the problem fixed by Christmas.”

Yahoo Mail’s downtime came just days after the company inked a deal with Mozilla to become the default search engine for Firefox in the US.

Courtesy-TheInq

Samsung Sheds Fiber Optics Unit

December 3, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd agreed to sell its fiber optics operations to U.S. specialty glass maker Corning Inc, shutting the door on another non-core business to focus on shoring up underperforming key areas like smartphones.

Terms of the sale, including plants in China and South Korea, weren’t disclosed. Announced by both parties on Tuesday, the South Korean firm’s second exit from a business line this quarter comes as it braces for its lowest annual profit in three years, squeezed by stiff competition.

The world’s top maker of smartphones has been caught between Chinese rivals like Xiaomi Technology Co Ltd  at the low end and Apple Inc’s iPhones at the top. Samsung Electronics’ share of the global smartphone industry has shrunk year-on-year for the last three quarters.

“We have decided to sell our fibre optics business, in order to focus on our core business areas,” a Samsung Electronics spokeswoman said. The company declined to comment on how much revenue the division generates.

The firm also said in October it will halt its light emitting diode lighting business outside of its home country, which was also considered a non-core business.

 

 

Samsung To Decides To Launch Tizen Smartphone In India

December 2, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd had decided to launch a new sub-$100 smartphone running on its own Tizen operating system in India later this month, South Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper is reporting.

The paper, a local business daily, said Samsung will hold a press conference on Dec. 10 to launch its first Tizen smartphone, to be called the Z1. A Samsung Electronics spokeswoman declined to comment.

Samsung had initially planned to launch a Tizen smartphone in Russia in the third quarter but scrapped the plan. The firm said at the time that it wanted to further enhance the ecosystem behind Tizen. Only a handful of devices, including the firm’s smartwatch products, currently run on the platform.

The majority of Samsung’s mobile devices are based on Google’s Android platform. The South Korean firm’s push to develop its own operating system is part of efforts to reduce dependence on the U.S. firm, but delays in product launches have undercut expectations.

 

 

 

 

Amazon Rolls Out Kiva Robots Just In Time For Holiday Shopping

December 2, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc has installed more than 15,000 robots across 10 U.S. warehouses, a move that looks to reduce operating costs by one-fifth and get packages out the door more quickly in the run-up to Christmas.

The orange 320-pound (145 kg) robots, which scoot around the floor on wheels, show how Amazon has adopted technology developed by Kiva Systems, a robotics company it bought for $775 million in 2012. Amazon showed off the robots ahead of Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year.

The robots are designed to help the leading U.S. online retailer speed the time it takes to deliver items to customers and better compete with brick-and-mortar stores, where the bulk of Americans still do their shopping.

The robots also may help Amazon avoid the mishaps of last year’s holiday season, when a surge of packages overwhelmed shipping and logistics company UPS and delayed the arrival of Christmas presents around the globe. Amazon offered shipping refunds and $20 gift cards to compensate customers.

Amazon deployed the robots this summer, ahead of the key holiday quarter, when the company typically books about one-third of its annual revenue. The updated warehouses are in five states — California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Washington.

The move comes at a cost. Amazon estimated in June 2013 that it would spend about $46 million to install Kiva robots at its warehouse in Ruskin, Florida, including $26.1 million for the equipment, according to company filings to local government.

The Kiva robots have allowed Amazon to hold about 50 percent more items and shorten the time it takes to offer same-day delivery in several areas, said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations and customer services.

 

 

Amazon Cuts Fire Phone Price Again

December 1, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Amazon has dropped the price for its unlocked Fire smartphone by 69% just four months after the phone first went on sale.

The company also just deleted thousands of negative online customer reviews of the smartphone on its website.

The latest discount first appeared on Amazon.com last week, dropping the unlocked 32GB price from its original $649 to $199; the price still includes one year of Prime service, worth $99, and is good through Cyber Monday (Dec. 1).

In addition to the price cut, Amazon deleted thousands of customer reviews of the product, leaving up only reviews posted since the price cut went into effect.

Just one review appeared as of noon ET Wednesday: “Dan” gave the Fire four stars out five and called the $199 price “awesome,” adding that he wished it ran pure Android. (It runs the Fire OS, an Android variant.)

An Amazon spokeswoman said there weren’t more reviews because the revised unlocked version just launched on its Web site. She said it has been upgraded with added features such as text translation, a secure corporate VPN and user interface and performance improvements; those added features will be rolled out to existing Fire customers over-the-air in coming weeks, she added.

By comparison, customer reviews back in late October scored the device with just 2.4 stars out of five, based on nearly 4,000 reviews.

Various negative complaints included access to too few apps and concerns that the Fire got hot to the touch. Some users called the phone “gimmicky,” pointing to various innovative features like Firefly for instant access to information on products and objects, customer support with Mayday and a sensor system with 3D-like capabilities called Dynamic Perspective.

 

 

Twitter To Track User’s Mobile Apps

December 1, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Twitter Inc has plans to start tracking what third-party apps are installed on users’ mobile devices so the social media company can deliver more tailored content, including ads, the company has revealed.

The feature, called “app graph,” will allow the company to see what other applications users may have installed on phones or other devices.

“To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in,” the company said on its site.

The posting also included instructions on how to turn the feature off. Twitter is not collecting data from within the applications, the posting noted.

Twitter, whose main service allows users to broadcast 140-character messages, has been searching for ways to re-invigorate user engagement and drive growth. As part of that effort, the company is considering creating additional mobile applications beyond its core messaging service.

 

 

 

StoreDot Says It Can Recharge Mobile Phone In 30 Seconds

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

An Israeli firm claims it has developed technology that can charge a mobile phone in a few seconds and an electric car in minutes, advances that could transform two of the world’s most dynamic consumer industries.

Using nano-technology to synthesize artificial molecules, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot says it has developed a battery that can store a much higher charge more quickly, in effect acting like a super-dense sponge to soak up power and retain it.

While the prototype is currently far too bulky for a mobile phone, the company believes it will be ready by 2016 to market a slim battery that can absorb and deliver a day’s power for a smartphone in just 30 seconds.

“These are new materials, they have never been developed before,” said Doron Myersdorf, the founder and chief executive of StoreDot, whose investors include Russian billionaire and Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich.

The innovation is based around the creation of “nanodots”, which StoreDot describes as bio-organic peptide molecules. Nanodots alter the way a battery behaves to allow the rapid absorption and, critically, the retention of power.

The company has raised $48 million from two rounds of funding, including backing from a leading mobile phone maker. Myersdorf declined to name the company, but said it was Asian.

With the number of smartphone users forecast to reach 1.75 billion this year, StoreDot sees a big market, and some experts think that — with more work — it could be on to a winner.

“We live in a power hungry world … people are constantly chasing a power outlet. StoreDot has the potential to solve this real big problem,” said Zack Weisfeld, who has worked with and evaluated ventures in the mobile phone sector globally.

“They still have some way to go, to deal with size of battery and power cycle rounds, but if solvable, it’s a very big breakthrough,” he told Reuters. A power cycle round refers to the number of times a battery can be re-charged in its lifetime.

Myersdorf said a fast-charge phone would cost $100-$150 more than current models and would ultimately be able to handle 1,500 recharge/discharge cycles, giving it about three years of life.

 

 

4K Monitors Fall Below $500

November 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Prices for 4K monitors have fallen below $500, bringing them within the reach of cost-conscious buyers looking to replace 1080p displays.

The prices have been falling steadily from $700 or more earlier this year. 4K monitors are available from Samsung, Sharp, Dell, Asus, Acer, Monoprice and small vendors.

4K gives a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, or four times deeper than conventional 1080p resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

Dell is selling its 28 Ultra HD P2815Q monitor for $449.99, down from $699.99 when the product started shipping earlier this year. Newegg is selling 28-inch monitors from AOC and Planar for $499.99.

Samsung has also dropped the price of its 28-inch 4K monitor, the UD590, which is now selling for $599.99 through retailers like Best Buy and Newegg.

Not all 4K prices have dipped so low. Lenovo’s ThinkVision 28-inch Pro2840m is still selling for $799.99. It was announced in January and started shipping around the middle of the year.

It’s important to check all the features on lower priced monitors. They often have a all the main features and ports but suffer on refresh rates, which affect the display’s ability to cope with fast-moving images. For example, Dell’s P2815Q monitor has been criticized for its 30Hz refresh rate. Samsung’s UD590 has the more desirable 60Hz refresh rate via its DisplayPort 1.2, but it drops to 30Hz when connected to a PC via the HDMI port.

Increased competition is bringing prices down, as monitor makers try to attract buyers. Intel recently predicted that 4K monitor prices will fall to below $400 by the end of this year.

As with the other types of computer hardware, prices will continue to fall quickly over the next couple of years and then more gradually after that, said Jonathan Gaw, a research manager at IDC.