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.
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.
The service, dubbed Snapcash, allows Snapchat users to link their debit cards to their account and quickly send money to a contact by starting a chat on a smartphone, typing in a dollar sign and an amount and hitting a green button, Snapchat explained in a post on its official blog.
The move marks the latest sign of expansion plans for Los Angeles-based Snapchat, which lets users exchange photos that automatically disappear after a few seconds. The company has been valued at $10 billion in its most recent fundraising effort, according to media reports, and is considered a growing threat to Web companies including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.
“We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you’re dealing with money,” Snapchat said in the post.
The company said that debit card information will be stored by Square and that Square will process the payments, transferring money between bank accounts. Snapchat said that Snapcash is available in the United States for users aged 18 and above.
The world’s No.1 Internet social network with 1.35 billion monthly users has been quietly testing a version of its website aimed at workplace collaboration. The service, dubbed Facebook at Work, allows users to exchange messages and share documents using Facebook’s scrolling news feed and other familiar features from the consumer version of Facebook.
The professional version of Facebook, which could compete with services such as LinkedIn Corp, as well as Salesforce.com Inc and Microsoft Corp, would allow users to maintain special profiles that are distinct from their existing Facebook profiles, the person said. Work activities would not be shared on a user’s personal profile, and the baby photos, videos and general banter popular in the consumer version of Facebook would not encroach into the professional version.
A Facebook team in London is leading the effort and a small number of companies are currently running a pilot version of the service, the person said.
It is still unclear how Facebook plans to make money from the professional service. Facebook is not currently charging a subscription fee for the version being tested, according to a report in the Financial Times, which first reported news of the service. Facebook currently generates the bulk of its revenue from ads that appear on its existing service.
Rocket Internet, whose shares have had a bumpy ride since listing last month, said its 12 most successful companies saw average growth in gross merchandise volume — a measure of sales made through online marketplaces — of 104 percent in the six months to June 30.
It also announced a global agreement with Facebook, which will involve the U.S. company helping Rocket with advertising strategy and automation of ads and giving it access to tests of new advertising features.
Rocket Internet shares, which have rebounded to above the offer price of 42.50 euros after positive broker notes in recent days.
Investors who bought shares in Europe’s largest tech listing since 2000 were hoping to ride a wave of euphoria which culminated in Alibaba’s bumper New York flotation. However, the shares came under pressure over concerns about how long it might take the Rocket start-ups to turn a profit.
Among Rocket’s top performers were Russian fashion site Lamoda and Indian online store Jabong, which saw first-half revenue grow 112 percent and 187 percent respectively.
Founded in 2007 by brothers Oliver, Alexander and Marc Samwer, Rocket has set up dozens of e-commerce and online marketplaces for everything from taxis to meal deliveries, aiming to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba in new markets like Africa, Latin America and Russia.
“We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told investors on a conference call earlier this week.
“We think it is prudent to just pause and make sure we have line of sight and understanding as to what those rules will look like,” Stephenson added.
His comments came just two days after President Obama urged federal regulators to invoke rules banning Internet Service Providers such as AT&T from requiring payments from content providers like Netflix to get higher network priority.
AT&T has promoted its U-verse GigaPower service in recent months to bring 1Gbps service to cities and has heard from 100 different cities who are candidates for the rollouts. In an online promotional video, AT&T notes that it already has 16.5 million broadband connections and has laid more than 1 million miles of fiber optic cable.
Google, meanwhile, has connected several U.S. cities with its Google Fiber 1 Gbps connections and has plans to serve dozens more cities.
The delay in AT&T’s fiber optic investment could be vast, given AT&T’s estimate in 2013 that it would spend $14 billion over three years for wired and wireless broadband infrastructure in what it called Project Velocity.
AT&T didn’t respond when asked how long the delay in its fiber rollouts could be. But the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday said it won’t create new rules in its open Internet deliberations until 2015.
The FCC’s delay came shortly after President Obama on Monday called for far-reaching rules to affect cable and phone companies, including AT&T and other wireless carriers, that operate as ISPs. Obama made it clear he opposes any attempt by ISPs to prioritize Internet traffic in exchange for a higher payment by a content provider.
AT&T is part of a large group of carriers, including the CTIA industry group, opposed to Obama’s approach. Members have argued that regulating ISPs like traditional phone companies under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, as Obama prefers, won’t hold up in court.
Groups that favor expanding Internet service to underserved populations in inner cities and rural U.S. areas have largely welcomed fiber optic expansion by both Google and AT&T. The impact of AT&T’s delay on their efforts isn’t clear.
Twitter Inc is exploring the creation of additional mobile applications beyond its core messaging service and ways of making it easier for newbies to use its service, as it competes with Facebook Inc and other social media for smartphone users.
Chief Executive Dick Costolo said Twitter also planned to speed up the pace of changes to its product and to add more functions to its private messaging service.
“I strongly believe private messaging virality is important to our long term growth,” Costolo said, a reference to when online content goes viral or is popularly shared. He noted that some of the new private messaging features would be introduced in the current quarter.
Executives said the company needed to do a better job helping new users understand how to use the service. An upcoming “instant timeline” will quickly provide new users with content without requiring them to search Twitter for individual users to follow.
Twitter, whose main service allows users to broadcast 140-character messages, appeared to be taking a page from rival Facebook, which in recent years has taken the approach of creating individual apps centered on news, for instance, and also recently beefed up its private messaging.
Twitter has been searching for ways to arrest dwindling user engagement and drive growth. It currently counts 284 million users, compared with Facebook’s 1.3 billion.
In October, Twitter reported that timeline views per user, a key measure of engagement, slid 7 percent globally in the third quarter.
Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp is mulling over M&A deals to bolster its presence in the European home appliance market, its chief executive said on Monday, as it shifts its focus to growth following years of restructuring.
“We need a partner who understands the European market in the white goods segment,” CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga, credited with leading the company’s turnaround since his appointment in 2012, told Reuters in an interview.
Panasonic returned to a positive net cash position last quarter for the first time in five years, a year and a half ahead of schedule, after exiting unprofitable product lines in smartphones, plasma TVs and semiconductor chips.
In contrast to Sony Corp, another Japanese consumer electronics icon struggling with deep losses in TVs, smartphones and other consumer electronics, Panasonic has been turning to new growth areas such as advanced driver assistance systems that look into blind spots or aid in parking. It is also supplying batteries to electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc.
While Panasonic’s transformation has shifted its focus to the automotive sector and other industrial clients, it also sees home appliances – unlike smartphones and other gadgets it has quit or pared back – as a potentially profitable area where it could tap its expertise in power-saving technologies.
Panasonic is aiming for 10 trillion yen ($90 billion) in revenue in the 2018/19 financial year compared with a target of 7.75 trillion yen in the current year to March, and has said this could be achieved in part through acquisitions.
Tsuga said Panasonic had room to expand in home appliances, particularly in Europe where it is a minority shareholder in Slovenian appliance maker Gorenje under an alliance that includes joint manufacturing and sales.
“We could deepen this partnership, or pursue other alliances,” Tsuga said. Asked whether that could include an acquisition, he said: “I wouldn’t rule that out. That’s currently under consideration.”
Dell customers who are exploring Windows 10 believe that the new OS takes care of some issues that Windows 8 failed to address, said Neil Hand, vice president of tablets at Dell.
The biggest advantage of Windows 10 is the ability to run programs across devices, be they mobile or desktop, Hand said.
“The ability to create applications that are super-scalable from phone to tablet to PC is the big step in a lot of ways,” Hand said.
Dell is in the early stages of testing Windows 10 with its customers and Hand said it’s premature to say whether the OS will succeed. Dell runs Windows on most of its PCs and will likely adopt Windows 10 for its tablets and PCs next year.
Microsoft previously offered different versions of the Windows OS for mobile phones, desktops and servers, but Windows 10 is designed to unite all those editions.
Microsoft also offers separate versions of Windows 8 for its Surface 2 and Surface Pro tablets, which run on different instruction sets. Programs written for Surface 2, which is based on ARM, won’t run on Surface Pro 3, which is based on an Intel chipset. Windows 10 will eliminate any such incompatibilities and also make it easier to write and export programs from one device to another.
“Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices — from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens — some have 80 inch screens — and some don’t have screens at all,” said Terry Myerson , executive vice president at Microsoft’s Operating Systems group, in a blog entry.
Windows 8, with its all-new tablet user interface, presented a radical transition at the time of its release two years ago and enterprise customers preferred to go with the older Windows 7. Business users, who are Dell’s target base, have mostly skipped Windows 8 and are still upgrading PCs to Windows 7.
However, Microsoft had the right idea in mind with Windows 8, which was to prepare customers for mobile, Hand said.
A new report by Juniper Research found that shipments and adoption of smart glasses were slower than expected due to fewer ending up in the market.
The report, Smart Glasses: Consumer, Enterprise and Healthcare Strategies and Forecasts 2014-2019, estimated that shipments were unlikely to exceed 10 million per annum until 2018.
Juniper Research expects sales to be buoyed slightly by fresh releases by several key players in 2015-2016, including Samsung, Recon Instruments and the Microsoft-owned Osterhout Design Group.
The report thinks that greater utility within the enterprise and healthcare segments is likely to spur development until the devices catch on outside these markets.
Smart glasses continue to raise privacy and safety concerns from many consumers and government bodies. It argued that these need to be addressed or assuaged before the devices become accepted, although prices and their status as supplementary devices mean that smart glasses will remain niche for the medium-term.
According to the report, smart glasses development is at a comparable stage to smartphones in the early 2000s, primarily focused on the enterprise sector. As workplaces are likely to share devices between users, rather than purchase devices in bulk for all their employees, this will result in high investment but low shipment volumes to the enterprise for the next five years.
Some analysts had predicted Sprint would fall to fourth place behind T-Mobile, which has 53 million wireless customers, due to Sprint’s losses of postpaid phone subscribers. Those customers pay monthly bills after using a wireless service, as opposed to paying in advance.
In the company’s earnings call late Monday, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure announced a loss of 500,000 postpaid phone connections during the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That’s down from a loss of 620,000 in the second quarter and 693,000 in the first quarter. For the first nine months of the year, Sprint has lost about 1.8 million postpaid customers.
Still, Claure said that Sprint has worked to stabilize is subscriber base with new family service plans and special pricing for the iPhone 6, which he said has been the best iPhone launch by Sprint ever. He cited record sales, but did not disclose any numbers.
“I have now completed 85 days [as CEO], and couldn’t be more excited about the progress made in those short weeks…,” Claure said. “We have started a transformation, while the company faces headwinds. ”
The biggest determining factor in a carrier’s success is postpaid phone customer growth, Claure noted.
Sprint’s wireless customer base includes 29.9 million postpaid connections (for all devices, not just smartphones); 15.1 million prepaid connections; and another 9.9 million connections made from Sprint affiliates, wholesale customers and devices of various types.
In contrast, T-Mobile said last week it had added 2.3 million subscribers in the same quarter, giving it 52.89 million customers.
With the benefit of wholesale and affiliate connections, “we still have the third most [connections],” Sprint spokesman Scott Sloat noted in an email.
Remaining in third place gives Sprint bragging rights, but it wasn’t something anyone at Sprint highlighted, given T-Mobile’s strong surge in recent quarters and Sprint’s problems.
Despite the overall third quarter customer losses, both September and October saw year-over-year improvements — the first such improvements in 2014, Claure said.
The banks would be major competitors to handset makers Apple and Google because unlike others pushing mobile wallet technology, such as mobile phone carriers and retailers, they already have an intimate relationship with consumers and know their spending habits.
“Banks all around the world are working on this right now,” said James Anderson, senior vice president for mobile and emerging payments at MasterCard.
Anderson didn’t name any of the banks, but said MasterCard is already in conversations with them on how to add mobile payment capability to the existing apps that millions of consumers already have on their phones.
The most likely way will be through a technology called host card emulation, that was introduced in Android 4.4 “KitKat” and allows software apps to emulate the secure element chip found on some bank cards and the iPhone 6. Using software means wider compatibility with phones than if a dedicated chip was required.
The mobile payments market had been relatively quiet until recently. Google Wallet and Softcard, a competitor backed by cellular carriers, were in the market but consumer awareness and interest appeared to be low.
That changed with the launch of Apple Pay on Oct. 20. A million cards were activated in the first three days of use and early adopters have praised its ease of use: users just need to hold their thumb over the iPhone 6 fingerprint reader and bring the device near a terminal for payment to be made.
As a result, competitors are planning their attack. Next year CurrentC, backed by some of the biggest retailers in the U.S., will launch and companies like PayPal are also hoping to expand their footprint in stores.
But an app from a bank might have an edge because it removes a potential hurdle to adoption: unease among consumers that at a third-party is getting access to details of purchases they make.
Apple has stressed that it doesn’t see any of the purchases made by its users but Google’s system is set up so that all payments run through the company’s servers — giving the company an additional layer of information into the lives of its users.
A bank already has access to this information because of its nature and is presumably trusted by its customers. If a customer has a banking app on their phone, it would suggest they also have faith in the bank’s online security system.
That accounts for 16 percent of all transactions at its coffee shops and, the company says, meant it transacted 90 percent of all of mobile payments in the entire U.S. in 2013.
The company’s slice of the national mobile payments market is sure to dip in the years ahead as other retailers start catching up to Starbucks, in part thanks to the recent launch of Apple Pay, but Starbucks says it sees no slow down in consumer adoption of its mobile payments technology.
Starbucks has integrated payments into its its own app, which allows customers to keep a prepaid Starbucks card on their phone, enabled with automatic refills when it gets low on cash, and keep a list of favorite drinks to make ordering easier.
Starbucks has apps for both Apple iOS and Android devices. On iOS, the prepaid Starbucks card is integrated with the phone’s Passbook digital wallet app.
“What you’re going to see in the years ahead will be a rapid acceleration in mobile device purchases and a continued significant migration away from bricks-and-mortar commerce,” said Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, in a conference call with investors.
Schultz said mobile users represented “a huge prize” for retailers and financial services companies and that’s why there is so much interest in the sector.
“That’s why every tech and financial service company in the world is today chasing the mobile payment opportunity,” he said. But he said that while Starbucks doesn’t have the hardware and software expertise of competitors, it has managed to do something that its competitors, so far, haven’t: change consumer behavior.
“We’ve accomplished this by integrating the convenience of mobile payment to a compelling and enjoyable program that gives our customers rewards,” he said.
According to Techeye, IDC said that the worldwide tablet market grew by 11.5 percent in the third quarter of 2014 and shipments totalled 53.8 million units.
Sales were boosted by the “back to school” season and the fact that Americans wanted to them.
It is not clear where this boost is happening. Apple is still the leader in tablets, but is continuing to see a decline in its sales. It shipped 12.3 million units in the third quarter, while Samsung shipped 9.9 million units and despite being second has an 18.3 percent market share. Asus displaced Lenovo from number three.
Asus, followed by Lenovo and in number five position is RCA, which got to its worldwide position by shipping 2.6 million tablets in the USA.
It would be a risky company which based its views entirely on what happens in the US. Everyone in Europe knows that if there is something crazy or strange happening in the world it will always be happening in the US. Our bet is that phones are getting bigger and are making tablets pretty useless.
Video game maker Nintendo Co Ltd will develop a device to monitor a user’s fatigue and map their sleep, Chief Executive Satoru Iwata said on Thursday, the first offering from the company’s newly created healthcare division.
The device will be co-created with U.S. firm ResMed Inc, which currently makes products to treat sleep disorders, and will be available in the financial year ending March 2016.
“By using our know-how in gaming… to analyse sleep and fatigue, we can create something fun,” Iwata said.
Nintendo, better known for its Mario video game franchise and Wii and Wii U consoles, has said it expects its healthcare division to turn a profit in 2015/2016. The company already offers fitness games on its Wii console, played with a motion sensor controller.
According to an image Iwata shared at a media conference, the device will be about the size of a hand and can be placed on a user’s bedside table. It will use microwave transmission sensors to track sleep, with the data collected used to help users cultivate healthy sleeping habits.
Iwata refused to discuss the company’s sales expectations for the new device beyond saying that it may be offered via a subscription service rather than a one-off purchase.
“We only start something new if we think we will be able to create a big market, but as I’m not able to discuss pricing plans and other details today I don’t think there’s much point in giving a figure for our projected scale,” he said.
The device was launched a day after Nintendo reported an unexpected quarterly profit, after hit games gave a boost to sales of its Wii U console.