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Regardless Of The Rhetoric Windows Tablets Doing Ok

February 4, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

For years Microsoft held a torch for the tablet even while everyone else mocked them. When Apple turned the concept into a gimmick and everyone bought one, Microsoft was mocked for not really understanding the tablet.

Now it seems that Redmond is the only one making tablets that people want again, as the market slowly shrinks to the point before Jobs claimed “his” invention was a “game changer.”

Strategy Analytics said that final quarter of 2015 witnessing the worst year-on-year decline for a product that it has seen.

The company’s ‘Preliminary Global Tablet Shipments and Market Share by Operating System: Q4 2015′ report estimates that tablet shipment numbers fell to 69.9 million units in Q4, which is a record drop of 11 per cent. Over the full year of 2015, shipments reached 224 million units which represented a drop of 8 per cent.

TrendForce estimated a bigger drop over the course of the full year with a 12.2 per cent decline compared to 2014′s shipment numbers.

However Strategy Analytics said that the only one to do well was Microsoft. Windows tablets witnessed growth of 59 per cent in Q4 compared to the previous year.

Part of this is because 2-in-1 PCs are doing well and expected to do better. Strategy Analytics observed a huge 379 per cent  leap in year-on-year growth in Q4 2015.

Eric Smith, Senior Analyst, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, said: “2-in-1 Detachable Tablets have reached an inflection point in 2015 as computing needs continue to trend more and more mobile and Tablets with Windows 10 can compete against iOS in the premium and high price bands and equally well against Android in the mid and lower price bands.

“The Q4 2015 launch of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book was met with many ‘Surface clones’ by Microsoft’s OEM partners at lower price points. This variety of devices will bolster momentum of Windows Tablets going forward.”

Apple is still the top tablet vendor with a share of 23.1 per cent in Q4 of last year. But it fell heavily from 27.3 per cent the previous year. Cupertino’s shipment numbers dropped from 21.4 million units to 16.1 million units this year.

Samsung was in second place with a 12.9 per cent market share, down from 13.9 per cent the previous year. Lenovo saw slight growth in third place with an increase from 4.7 per cent to a 5.7 per cent share in Q4 2015, with Amazon slipping to fourth place, dropping from 4.9 per cent to 4.4 per cent.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft Giving Yammer To All Office 365 Subscribers

February 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft is ramping up its efforts to expand the reach of its Yammer work social network — and better compete with other workplace collaboration tools – announcing that any organization with an Office 365 subscription will gain access to the service and have it automatically activated.

The service will start rolling out to users in waves. The automatic activation will allow businesses to quickly spin up online communities for their workers.

Microsoft will also let users sign in to Yammer with the same username and password they use to access all of their other Office 365 apps and services. System administrators will, however, have the ability to prevent users from accessing Yammer.

The first Yammer rollout will target businesses with fewer than 150 licenses and that have an Office 365 subscription that includes Yammer.

Microsoft bought Yammer in 2012 for $1.2 billion. At the time, it was a high-flying technology startup in the hot enterprise social network space, althought it hasn’t been taken up widely. Microsoft said that more than 500,000 businesses are using it, up from 200,000 at the time of its acquisition.

Yammer faces increased competition in the workplace collaboration space. Rival Slack’s real-time chat capabilities have made it a popular choice, though that software doesn’t replicate the message board and information feed aspects of Yammer’s product. However, when Facebook for Work becomes publicly available — it’s in a closed beta test — that offering will more closely compete with Yammer’s core functionality.

 

Amazon Plans On Opening Up To 400 Bookstores

February 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc will open up to 400 physical bookstores, according to a major U.S. mall operator with knowledge of the proposal.

Amazon recently experimented with brick-and-mortar stores with the opening of a bookstore in its home city of Seattle in November. An expansion of bookstores, which the company has not confirmed, would be a surprise reversal from the online retailer credited with driving physical booksellers out of business.

“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores,” Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of General Growth Properties Inc, said on Tuesday, responding to an analyst’s question after it reported earnings.

On the call, Mathrani compared Amazon’s plans to similar moves by eyeware company Warby Parker or men’s clothing retailer Bonobos, both of which opened physical stores after finding success online.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does not comment on “rumors and speculation.”

Before branching out to offer everything from fresh groceries to original TV programming, Amazon got its start as a bookseller 20 years ago. It has since revolutionized the publishing industry by introducing its popular e-reader, the Kindle.

Amazon’s bookstore in Seattle carries books selected based on customer ratings and popularity on Amazon.com. The storefront also provides a space for visitors to test-drive Amazon’s Kindle, Fire TV and other devices.

Any move by Amazon to expand stores would further antagonize long-time rivals like Barnes & Noble Inc, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, which operated 640 bookstores across the United States as of January. Shares of Barnes & Noble fell more than 5 percent on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Mathrani’s comments on Tuesday.

Kevin Berry, vice president of investor relations at General Growth Properties, declined to comment beyond what was said during the conference call.

 

Evernote Officially Exits E-commerce

February 3, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A little more than two years after Evernote announced that it would offer a suite of branded products through its own online retail store, the productivity company is walking away from the business of selling products like socks, messenger bags and wallets.

As foreshadowed by a series of sales and app changes last year, the current incarnation of the Evernote Market — a hub for people to buy branded swag and connected tools for the popular note-taking software — will no longer exist as of today.

In its place will be a page that directs people to a handful of products made by partner companies that are tightly integrated with Evernote’s service and were previously sold through the Market. Users will still be able to buy the ScanSnap Evernote Edition scanner, Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition stylus and Evernote-branded Moleskine notebooks that are designed to work with the notetaking software.

The companies that make those items will be in charge of selling them and handling distribution, allowing Evernote to get out of the business of holding inventory and fulfilling orders. That means all of the Market’s non-integrated items, like business card holders and the company’s infamous socks, will be unavailable after after tonight.

In some ways, the Market experiment was a fairly successful one. 40% of people who purchased goods from the Market were subscribers to Evernote’s free tier, meaning that the company was able to monetize people who weren’t paying for the premium version of its service. In the first year of its existence, Market made a little more than $12 million, though it’s not clear how it continued to fare after that.

It’s a move that illustrates Evernote’s current strategy of winnowing down the products and services it’s providing to just focus on a core set of experiences that can make the startup money.

 

 

Yahoo To Slash 15% Of Workforce

February 3, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer announced cost-cutting measures that include slashing 15 percent of the company’s workforce, or roughly 1,600 jobs, and closing several business units, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The plans were announced after Yahoo’s fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.  It did not specify which business units might be closed.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said the company could not comment during its quiet period before releasing earnings.

Activist investors have pressed Yahoo to sell its core business rather than spin it off, even though a sale would likely incur more taxes.

It is unclear whether the plan Mayer is expected to announce would satisfy their demands, but cutting costs could make Yahoo more attractive to buyers.

Verizon has said it is interested in acquiring Yahoo if it were up for sale. Other potential buyers would include media and private equity firms, analysts said.

Yahoo had about 11,000 employees as of June 30, according to its website, down from a Dec. 31, 2014 total of about 12,500 full-time employees and what it called fixed term contractors.

Separately, a former Yahoo employee filed a lawsuit against the company Monday challenging its “quarterly performance review” process, on grounds it assigned numerical ratings to workers that in some cases were used to fire those at the bottom of the scale.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, California, said the plaintiff was terminated in 2014, despite being previously praised, as a result of the QPR process.

The filing said Yahoo’s use of the QPR process to terminate large numbers of employees violates federal and California laws that require employers to disclose mass layoffs above a certain threshold.

 

 

Is Samsung Going To Starting A Rental Phone Service?

February 2, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung  is rolling out a rental phone service which will replace a phone that is been used for a year with the latest model.

The system is similar to the rental model which was introduced by Apple in September of last year. Samsung will bring the service out in March in South Korea but it is also in talks with  Bright Star, which is a business that specializes in distribution of mobile in the US so it is pretty likely to be tried over the pond too.  We have not heard about it talking to any EU distributor but it is also fairly likely.

Under the deal you replace your old phone with a new phone every year if you make a two year contract and pa a year worth of instalments. The company then makes a bit of dosh flogging the used phones.

The first phone to be rented will be the Galaxy S7 that happens to be being released in March. It will also have a higher resale value as a used model.

Officially Samsung is saying nothing as the Galaxy S7 is not even in the shops yet.

Mobile telecommunication businesses such as SK Telecom, LG Uplus and others are also preparing to release similar services. This is not the first time they have had a crack at programs likes this there were operations like Zero Club, Free Club and others in the past which operated in a similar way. It should make the introduction of the rental phone service using Apple’s model a doddle.

If it takes off it could be a change in distribution model for phones. As mobile markets are saturated and as subsidies for mobiles disappear, rental phones are seen as an alternatives that will create new demand.  Much of the success however depends on the resale value of the older phones.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Wireless Charging Finally Coming To iPhones

February 1, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

As wireless charging adoption rate continues to grow by double-digits annually, industry analysts have openly wondered when Apple’s iPhone would finally take the plunge.

This month, market research firm IHS predicted that Apple would introduce some form of wireless charging on the iPhone 7 expected to arrive in September; that move seems more likely given that Apple introduced an inductive, proprietary charging solution in 2015 on the Apple Watch.

Adding fuel to the wireless charging fire, Bloomberg has reported that Apple is working with partners in the U.S. and Asia to develop new wireless charging technology that could be deployed on its mobile devices in 2017.

“We still expect [wireless charging with the iPhone 7], but this latest rumor suggests a longer term look at much greater spatial freedom — claiming to take away the charging pad altogether,” David Green, a research manager at IHS Technology, said.

Two years ago, the Windows Phone 8-based Lumia 920 smartphone introduced wireless charging. Then Samsung launched dual-mode wireless charging on its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones. Now, the focus is on Apple to see whether it will also add wireless charging to the iPhone, Green said.

Wireless charging is proving to be very popular with those who have used it, and the market tripled in size last year compared to 2014, with more than 160 million wireless charging receivers shipped across all markets.

The three major wireless charging industry groups have adopted a form of resonant wireless charging, which allows a more “loosely coupled” approach where handsets can be several centimeters away from a charger or placed at any angle on a charging pad.

For example, AirFuel Alliance’s Rezence-specification, which allows charging from across several centimeters, includes the ability to use a charging bowl or charging through a desktop.

There’s also uncoupled charging technology, where powering up devices through Wi-Fi, for example, sends low levels of power (typically less than 1 watt) across a room.

Ossia, Energous and uBeam all demonstrated uncoupled charging technology at CES earlier this month.

 

 

 

 

Facebook Prohibiting Sale Of Guns On Its Sites

February 1, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc has banned global users from coordinating person-to-person private sales of firearms on its online social network and its Instagram photo-sharing service, countering concerns that it was increasingly being used to circumvent background checks on gun purchases.

The move comes as the United States debates the issue of access to guns after a string of mass shootings. U.S. President Barack Obama has urged social media companies to clamp down on gun sales organized on their platforms.

It updates Facebook’s regulated goods policy, introduced in March 2014, that banned people from selling marijuana, pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs.

Facebook already prohibited private firearms sellers from advertising “no background check required,” or offering transactions across U.S. state lines without a licensed dealer because the company said such posts indicated a willingness to evade the law.

Licensed retailers will still be able to advertise firearms on Facebook that lead to transactions outside of Facebook’s service, the spokeswoman said.

“Over the last two years, more and more people have been using Facebook to discover products and to buy and sell things to one another,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy, said in a statement.

“We are continuing to develop, test, and launch new products to make this experience even better for people and are updating our regulated goods policies to reflect this evolution,” Bickert said.

Facebook is the world’s most popular online social network, with 1.59 billion users across the globe, 219 million of them in the United States and Canada.

The National Rifle Association, a lobbying group opposed to limits on U.S. gun ownership rights, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Groups advocating increased gun control applauded the new policy.

“Moms are grateful for the leadership shown by Facebook today,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of the Everytown for Gun Safety campaign group. “Our continued relationship with Facebook resulted in today’s even stronger stance, which will prevent dangerous people from getting guns and save American lives.”

 

Samsung Profits Hit By Weak Demand For Smartphones

January 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Weak demand for smartphones and display panels weighed down Samsung’s profits last quarter, and the company doesn’t expect much improvement this year.

Revenue for the fourth quarter was 53.3 trillion won (US$45.5 billion), up just 1 percent from a year earlier, Samsung announced Thursday in Seoul. Net profit plummeted 40 percent to 3.2 trillion won.

A day earlier, Samsung’s biggest rival, Apple, said it too was seeing weaker than expected demand for handsets. The Cupertino company reported iPhone sales that were almost flat and forecast its first quarterly revenue drop since 2003.

Samsung isn’t expecting much better. It sees a difficult environment in 2016 characterized by slowing IT demand.

“It would be a challenge to maintain 2016 operating profit levels,” said Kim Sang Hyo, Samsung’s vice president of investor relations, in a conference call with analysts.

A weak macro economy around the world will hurt business in the first half, but things should get better in the second half, the company said.

Sales in Samsung’s key mobile division fell 10 percent in the quarter to 24 trillion won. That was the result of an earlier pile up of unsold phones at retailers, and the fact that Samsung sold fewer high-end phones and more that were lower priced.

Samsung doesn’t divulge the number of smartphones it sells, preferring to announce total sales of all phone types. That figure was 97 million last quarter, with smartphones accounting for around 85 percent.

For 2016, it expects the mobile business will see single-digit growth due to tepid demand for new smartphones and tablet PCs.

Samsung’s semiconductor and display panel operations — it’s second-biggest business area — was the only good performer last quarter. Sales rose 11 percent year-on-year to 19.7 trillion won thanks to healthy demand for flash memory chips and continued demand for mobile and server DRAM.

 

 

 

 

 

VMware Eliminates 800 Jobs As Part Of Transition Strategy

January 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

VMware is eliminating approximately 800 jobs as it transitions from its traditional products to newer, emerging technologies.

The company expects 2016 will be a key transition year as “we expect the effect of our new products to outweigh the decline in our compute products,” CEO Pat Gelsinger said on its latest earnings conference call.

The company has been facing challenges in its software business as its customers are increasingly using public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

“Public cloud providers do provide VMware, but for many of the newer, cloud workloads, many are opting for containers or even OpenStack which doesn’t require what’s considered expensive VMware licenses,” wrote Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in an email.

VMware reported that its total revenue under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for 2015 was $6.57 billion, an increase of 9 percent from 2014, or up 12 percent year-over-year on a constant currency basis. The company expects 2016 revenue will be up to $6.935 billion, an increase of as much as 4 percent from 2015.

The guidance was influenced by concern about business from weakening economies like Russia, Brazil and China.

Gelsinger said during the conference call that the company recognizes that its blockbuster compute products are reaching maturity, and will play a decreasing role in the business. But the company  expects newer emerging products will pick up the slack.

One of the company’s new focus areas is on extending customers’ private cloud workloads into the public cloud via vCloud Air Network and vCloud Air. But Gelsinger clarified that its vCloud Air cloud computing service will have a narrower focus, providing specialized cloud software and services distinct from other public cloud providers, suggesting that the company does not want to take the big players head-on in the commodity cloud business.

 

 

 

Samsung Announces Global Launch Of Gear S2 Classic Smartwatches

January 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung has announced the global launch of its Gear S2 Classic New Edition smartwatches, which first appeared at CES 2016 with 18K rose gold and platinum finishes.

The New Edition rose gold version incorporates gold plating atop stainless steel, not solid gold, according to Samsung.

That distinction would explain a price of 480€ (about $520 US), as seen as available for pre-order on the DutchCool Blue retail website.

Samsung hasn’t listed official pricing or availability by countries other than to say China was the first country where the device was released.

A solid gold Apple Watch, by contrast, could cost a buyer as much as $17,000, although Apple sells many variations at much lower prices.

While Samsung described its newest watches as “merging fashion with technology,” there is a debate in the industry over how much high fashion and rich materials will matter in achieving mass market acceptance of smartwatches.

Market research firm IDC said that 21 million smartwatches shipped in 2015, well below projections of many analysts. That number included the Apple Watch, launched in April, which some had predicted would sell 40 million units in its first year.

“People don’t really see the value in smartwatches,” said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani in a January interview. He added that women aren’t heavily interested in fashion smartwatches, despite attempts by Apple and now Samsung to attract women buyers.

Samsung provides about 1,400 apps for use with the Tizen OS on its Gear 2 smartwatches. The devices will also have the ability to connect to Android smartphones and, later in 2016, to iOS devices.

The future for smartwatches used in business settings is unclear, analysts have said, although there is greater interest in providing enterprise apps for a range of wearables that include smart glasses and devices worn on other parts of the body.

 

 

 

Is Apple’s Alleged 4″ iPhone Headed For Disaster

January 27, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

An analyst has cut his estimate of projected sales of the rumored new 4-inch iPhone, reportedly called the “iPhone 5se,” in half, from 18-20 million down to 10-12 million units.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo  said that the new 4-inch iPhone, as little new to offer, despite getting a lot of media attention.

“We don’t regard the product as innovative, either in terms of form factor … or hardware specs.”

Kuo said that Apple will ship 43 million units, a decline of 44 per cent quarter-over-quarter and 29 per cent year-over-year.

The smaller iPhone will likely include an all-metal design but is otherwise as silly a move as the 5c, which had a plastic body but tanked.

“We see MacBook as a stronger candidate for becoming a theme given solid growth in the business segment, as well as a potential upgrade to hit the market in 1H16,” Kuo said.

In other words Apple is starting to regress to the days when all it had was its PCs and was so desperate for money it had to borrow off Microsoft.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Amazon’s E-mail ‘Share’ Runs Afoul Of German Law

January 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A German court has ruled as unlawful a feature that encourages Amazon customers to share links to products of the online shop with their contacts, confirming the ruling of a lower court.

The Amazon “share” feature invites customers to share a product via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest.

The court said on Monday that sharing by e-mail without approval of the recipient was illegal. It is “unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment,” the regional court in Hamm said, confirming the ruling of a lower court in Arnsberg.

The case was brought against one of Amazon’s resellers by a competitor.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ruling comes after Germany’s highest court ruled earlier this month that a similar feature that encourages Facebook users to market the social media network to their contacts as unlawful.

At the time, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), which brought the Facebook case to court, had said the ruling would have implications for other services in Germany which use similar forms of advertising.

 

Siemens To Spend Nearly $1B To Acquire CD-adapco

January 26, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Siemens AG, Europe’s biggest industrial group, has agreed to acquire CD-adapco, a privately held U.S. engineering software firm, for close to $1 billion in cash, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Melville, New York-based CD-adapco makes computer programs used by engineers to simulate the inner workings of an engine. Those products will complement a business unit of Siemens focused on product lifecycle management software, the person added.

Since taking over Siemens as chief executive two years ago, former finance chief Joe Kaeser has set out to reshape the German company and make it more profitable and less cumbersome by selling off non-core units.

But Siemens has increasingly had to compete with software companies who can develop technology faster because they have a sole focus. Only 5 percent of Siemens’ 350,000 employees are software engineers.

Siemens said in December it would raise its research and development budget as it seeks to maintain an edge in technology innovation over arch-rival General Electric Co.

The sale comes after CD-adapco’s co-founder and CEO Steve MacDonald passed away last September. He was succeeded by his widow, Sharron MacDonald, who was named interim CEO and president.

Established in 1980 and still controlled by its founders, the company has 900 employees in 50 offices and has achieved $200 million in annual revenue and an annual growth rate of 15 percent for the past five years, according to its website. Its main competitor in engine simulation software is Ansys Inc.

NASA hired CD-adapco to help with simulation of structural engineering problems following the Space Challenger disaster in 1986. Car maker Renault SA’s  designers have also used CD-adapco software to simulate engine combustion, cooling and exhaust for Formula One race cars.

 

News Corp Says Rumors Of Twitter Purchase Are False

January 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp said rumors about the company potentially purchasing microblogging site Twitter Inc or building a stake in it were untrue.

The stock rose from a record low after unconfirmed chatter about News Corp’s interest in Twitter circulated on Wednesday. The rumors intensified after a CNBC segment, tech website Re/code said.

The social media site was evaluated as a takeover target because of the company’s shrinking stock price, Re/code said.

In the few months since co-founder Jack Dorsey returned as the chief executive, Twitter has been trying to make the site more engaging. The company said in December it was testing a feature to show ads to people who read tweets without logging in as it tries to monetize non-active users.

“Twitter inside a larger organization definitely makes theoretical sense, whether its another internet company or a media company,” Monness, Crespi, Hardt, & Co Inc analyst James Cakmak said.

A News Corp spokesman said there was no truth to the rumors.

Twitter already has several high-profile investors. Former Microsoft Corp CEO Steve Ballmer reported a 4 percent stake in October, making him the third-biggest shareholder after Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Twitter has been the subject of takeover rumors in the past, including a fake report attributed to Bloomberg that claimed the company had received an offer to be acquired for $31 billion.

Twitter had received bids from Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc, according to reports.