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Samsung To Recycle Rare Metals From Old Galaxy Note 7s

July 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd announced plans to recover 157 tons worth of rare metals from recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in a bid to minimize the environmental impact of the fire-prone devices.

Samsung said in a statement it planned to reuse components such as camera modules, chips and displays as replacement parts on devices sent in for repairs or sell them. It would also recover metals such as cobalt, copper, gold and silver from components that would not be reused.

The world’s top smartphone maker is trying to move on from the withdrawal of the Note 7 premium devices last year due to safety concerns, a failure which cost the firm $5.4 billion in operating profit.

Sales of the flagship Galaxy S8 launched in April have been healthy, analysts say, suggesting a recovery is underway. The firm had sold 3.06 million Note 7s to consumers before its second and final recall in October, roughly 2 months after launch.

Environmental activists such as Greenpeace have called on Samsung to recycle or recover the rare materials contained in the devices.

The South Korean firm launched a modified version of the Note 7 in its domestic market earlier this month as part of the recycling effort.

Only 3 Out Of The Top 500 Online Merchants Accept Bitcoins

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

 

If you’ve somehow amassed cache of bitcoins and want to do some online shopping, the bad news is you probably won’t be buying much.

This year, the cryptocurrency is only accepted by three out of the top 500 online merchants, reports Bloomberg. That’s down from five from last year, making using Bitcoin to buy things from merchants a lot tougher.

The lack of merchants is puzzling, given the gains from bitcoins recently — one bitcoin is worth more than an ounce of gold — and may be a sign that the cryptocurrency is better off as an asset than currency.

The Bloomberg report also mentioned that transaction fees could be an issue why the crytocurrency is not widely accepted. With fees climbing, smaller transactions aren’t worth it compared to using other payment methods.

 

Linux Debuts Hyberledger 1.0 Blockchain Software

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project officially rolled out the Fabric 1.0, a collaboration tool for building blockchain distributed ledger business networks  such as smart contract technology.

The Hyperledger project, a collaborative cross-industry effort created to advance blockchain technology, said the Hyperledger Fabric framework can be a foundation for developing blockchain applications, products or customized business solutions

Under development for the past 16 months, Hyberledger Fabric 1.0 is ready to be used to create an immutable, secure electronic ledger in industries such as financial services for completing transactions, including clearance and settlement, and healthcare, as a way to validate where electronic patient records exist and who has  access to them.

“Fabric 1.0 will help substantially in both those use cases,” said Hyperledger’s executive director, Brian Behlendorf.

Blockchains can be encrypted or unencrypted, depending on the level of security required, but in both cases the records are auditable because the data in the database cannot be changed and is tied to each authorized participant in the chain. A blockchain, for example, could be used during the clearance and settlement process between Wall Street traders and the banks that support the transactions to verify in real time when each party has received data and agreed to the exchange of funds.

Fabric 1.0 offers a modular architecture allowing components, such as consensus and membership services, to be plug-and-play. It leverages container technology to host smart contracts called “chaincode” that comprise the application logic of the system.

Fabric has been through several release cycles or pilots with 28 of Hyperledger’s member organizations. The include The Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. (DTCC), Fujitsu, GE, Hitachi, Huawei Technologies, State Street Bank, SecureKey, IBM, SAP, and Wanda Group.

There were also contributions from 35 unaffiliated individuals. In total, 159 developers contributed to Hyperledger Fabric, Behlendorf said.

“We had to push this out and encourage companies to start using them in proof-of-concepts and pilots, and some even were happy with the data code at that time and pushed them into production,” Behlendorf said.

“After over a year of public collaboration, testing, and validation… Fabric 1.0 is a true milestone for our community,” Behlendorf said. “Fabric can now advance to production deployment and operations. I look forward to seeing even more products and services being powered by Hyperledger Fabric in the next year and beyond.”

Will The EU Fine Canon

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

EU regulators said they might fine Canon up to 10 percent of annual revenue for jumping the gun in its acquisition of Toshiba Medical unit.

The EU Commission said Canon breached rules by using a so-called “warehousing” two-step transaction structure involving an interim buyer to buy the company prior to obtaining relevant approvals.

Ten percent of Canon’s annual revenue would be roughly equivalent to $2.9 billion.

The $6 billion deal, completed late last year, raised eyebrows at the time due to the unorthodox method which allowed Toshiba, which was struggling for cash after an accounting scandal, to book proceeds in time for the financial year-end in March.

Rival bidder Fujifilm slammed the deal as a “mockery of the law”.

Canon said in a statement that it would respond appropriately, but declined further comment before regulators make their final decision.

Last month, EU antitrust regulators hit Google with a record 2.4-billion-euro fine for favouring its own shopping service so it is proving a lucrative month.

Courtesy-Fud

Password Sharing A Revenue Nuisance For TV Streaming Services

July 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Streaming TV services grapple with password sharing. More than one-fifth of young adults who stream shows like “Game of Thrones” or “Stranger Things” borrow passwords from people who do not live with them, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, a finding that suggests media companies are missing out on significant revenue as digital viewership explodes.

Twenty-one percent of streaming viewers ages 18 to 24 said they had accessed at least one digital video service such as Netflix Inc, HBO Now or Hulu by using log-in credentials from someone outside their household at some time. Overall, 12 percent of adults said they did the same thing.

 Subscription revenue is likely to come under scrutiny starting next week when TV industry players begin reporting quarterly earnings. Netflix, the dominant streaming service, releases its results on Monday.

Up to now, Netflix and other streaming networks have accepted some password-sharing, but they may face pressure from investors to change course if new sign-ups slow substantially, Wall Street analysts said. Revenue growth at Netflix is projected to drop from 31 percent in this year’s second quarter to 19 percent in the second quarter of next year, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“If Netflix goes from a 30 percent revenue growth story to a 10 percent story, there is absolutely going to be more focus on their leaving money on the table,” said Justin Patterson, an analyst with Raymond James.

Spotify Inks Licensing Deal With Sony Music

July 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Spotify has pulled together a licensing deal with a second major label, Sony Music Entertainment, according to media reports, setting the stage for a U.S. stock market listing by the music streaming leader.

Recently valued at $13 billion, Sweden’s Spotify is planning a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange later this year or in early 2018, sources told Reuters in May.

Sony agreed to reduce royalties that Spotify must pay in return for the streaming service restricting new albums to paying subscribers for two weeks before offering access to free users, the Financial Times reported, citing a single source.

Sony’s top artists include Adele, Beyonce and Shakira.

Spotify is also in talks with Warner Music Group , Billboard reported.

Favorable royalty terms are crucial for Spotify to attain profitability and to make it a viable long-term holding for investors.

The company reported a 349 million euro ($400 million) operating loss, a 47 percent increase on a year earlier, even as revenue grew 50 percent to 2.93 billion euros.

In April, it signed a multi-year licensing deal with Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, with a similar two-week release window for new albums and a break on the royalties Spotify pays Universal.

It also signed up digital agency Merlin, on behalf of more than 20,000 independent labels.

Last year, Universal held a 28.9 percent share of global music label revenue, Sony Music generated 22.4 percent and Warner 17.4 percent. Independent labels made up the remaining 31.3 percent, MIDiA Research data showed.

Spotify has fended off competition from rival Apple Music, with nearly double the number of paying subscribers.

In March, Spotify said it had more than 50 million paying subscribers and 140 million active users, including free listeners. Apple reported 27 million music subscribers last month, up from 20 million in December.

The company has faced boycotts from some top music artists who have complained its free services undercut the value of their work but the major label licensing deals have gone some way toward easing these tensions, according to analysts.

Spotify declined to comment. Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group did not respond to requests for immediate comment.

Is Comcast Being Malicious

July 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A small Texas cable minnow is suing giant rival Comcast for allegedly sabotaging it out of business.

A lawsuit filed in Harris County District Court by Telecom Cable LLC claims that contractors working for Comcast had ‘destroyed’ his underground cabling over a six week period.

Anthony Luna, the owner of the now-defunct company, had just 230 homes in his network, and in common with most cable companies had been working with exclusivity to his region until Comcast decided to expand to the Weston Lakes region which he served.

In an attempt to prevent any issues with the cable laying, Luna claims he marked his underground lines in orange paint and “buried cable” markers. He also says he emailed Comcast a map of the system.

However, the suit claims that Comcast’s contractors, Aspen Utility Company, LLC and A&A Cable Contractors Inc ignored (or didn’t receive) the warnings, and ripped up his cable network in the process of planting the Comcast lines.

It is alleged that Mr Luna was offered a purchase of his telecoms system at below market value, and when he refused, Comcast began planting its own system and then went rogue.

Luna is seeking compensation for the destruction of his entire business. He relocated his family to New York and “the best paying job he could find” but is earning less than he made from the cable network.

The suit claims, “Telecom attempted to keep up with this campaign of destruction and used over 4000 feet of cable repairing what Defendants had destroyed, but there was no way to obtain replacement cable and re-install its entire system in time to keep its customer base. As Comcast well knows, cable television and Internet customers will not wait indefinitely for resumption of their service.”

It is believed that the vast majority of Luna’s customers switched to the newly installed Comcast service. Comcast, already widely seen as a villain in tech circles, is accused of counts of various types of negligence, including gross negligence, aiding and abetting and civil conspiracy. It is denying all charges and has confirmed that it intends to fight Mr Luna all the way.

At a time when cable companies are already the bad guys because of the expected abolishing of net neutrality in the coming weeks, stories of supposed corporate bullying of mom and pop businesses are not a welcome sign of the shape of things to come.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is The High-End PC Market The Most Profitable

July 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Acer has been focuing on flogging high-margin PCs including gaming notebooks, ultra-thin models and 2-in-1s, and it appears to be paying off.

Acer CEO Jason Chen said that each segment has been doing well this year. Acer’s revenues from its gaming PC business reached $300 million in 2016 and Acer has been outperforming the market average in many product lines.

Chen said that during the first five months of 2017, Acer’s gaming PC sales went up 80 per cent  from the same period a year ago, while the market’s average was only around 30 per cent. Acer is also seeing the same trend for its Chromebook business with first-five-month sales growing 80 per cent from a year ago. In this case the market’s average growth was only 20 per cent.

Acer’s strategy since falling from the peak of its operations three and half years ago, has been focusing on maintaining its profitability. Currently, Acer’s product ASP is up 14 per cent from before and gross margins reached 10 per cent in 2016, the highest in the past 10 years, Chen detailed.

Acer also sees gold in  virtual reality (VR), content and artificial intelligence (AI). Acer has partnered with Starbreeze to establish a joint venture for VR applications and has started seeing profits since the second half of 2016. The company’s high-performance PC for AI applications also recently acquired procurement orders from Thailand, and the company has already received a total of seven related procurement projects for 2017.

Acer’s VR arm is  focusing on gaming- and movie-related content and is also looking to merge the two concepts. Acer recently partnered with ZeroLight to develop high definition car VR solutions. The company has also been pushing its VR technologies into industries such as real estate, aerospace and training.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Announces Return Of ‘Prime Day’ Sales Bonanza

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

If you missed last year’s sales extravaganza, Amazon has good news for you.

The e-commerce titan has officially announced its third annual Prime Day will be July 11. The sales day will include hundreds of thousands of deals worldwide and run for 30 hours, starting at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on July 10. As usual, these deals will be available only to Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year in the US and can sign up for £59 in the UK until July 3, for unlimited two-day shipping and other perks.

The sale will also expand to more countries to include Mexico, China and India, where Amazon launched its Prime membership program over the past year. The US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium and Austria are also included.

Amazon has found huge success creating the sales holiday in 2015 to mark its 20th anniversary. The company even broke its single-day sales record during Prime Day last year. But, as Amazon’s dominance continues to grow, Prime Day serves as another example of the online seller gobbling up more market share as traditional retailers file for bankruptcy or close stores. The company last year accounted for 43 percent of all online sales in the US, according to researcher Slice Intelligence.

Perhaps aware of its increased influence, Amazon mentioned in its announcement Wednesday that 40 percent of its “Lightning Deals” promotions on Prime Day will come from small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Since its first year, Prime Day has also gotten knocked for offering undesirable deals along with low inventories of the most popular items. Responding to that criticism, the company increased its stocks of big-name items last year and decided to embrace the sometimes oddball or unexpected nature of the deals offered. These changed seemed to work, with Adobe Digital Insights reporting that customer sentiments on social media was more positive last year than during the first Prime Day.

The company is also doing more this year to better organize deals and make it easier for customers to track and shop for sales.

Amazon will be continuing its “countdown deals” in the run-up to Prime Day, offering sales starting today. Those include discounts on memberships for Amazon Music Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited and Audible.

Ericcson Re-commits Focus On Mobile Networks

June 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Ericsson has decided to squash its goal of winning more clients beyond the telecoms industry to refocus on selling networks to mobile phone firms in a move to cut costs and halt a dramatic fall in its share price.

The Swedish firm’s clients in its core business include Vodafone and Verizon but profits have plunged due to competition from Nokia and China’s Huawei and as telecoms companies make savings. Its shares have fallen 30 percent in two years.

Ericsson said in 2014 it would diversify so that by 2020 up to 25 percent of revenue would come from industries beyond telecoms, such as media, utilities and transport, from an estimated 10 percent in 2013.

But the plan has not worked and the company will drop the target as new chief executive Borje Ekholm repositions to focus on the core business of mobile networks.

“We will focus on telco clients and networks exclusively for now,” Ericsson’s new head of Digital Services Ulf Ewaldsson told Reuters in a recent interview.

The U-turn comes at a challenging time for Ekholm, who after only five months in the top job is being pressed by activist investor Cevian Capital, which has a $1 billion stake in the company, to make faster changes.

Ekholm unveiled a cost-cutting plan in March and announced up to $1.7 billion in provisions, writedowns and restructuring costs. He said this would include exploring options for its loss-making media arm and turning its managed services business around.

Investors welcomed the greater focus after years of disappointing investments from Ericsson, but they worry the new plan will not generate growth. Moody’s cut the company’s credit rating to junk in May, partly due to worries that the cost-cutting could hamper innovation.

Increasing dependence on telecoms operators could be risky as they are struggling to grow revenue due to fierce competition and so are unwilling to spend more on networks even as they prepare for 5G fifth-generation wireless broadband technology.

Ericsson has to prove it can remain relevant in an industry that has gone from over 10 major players to three in 20 years. Investors question whether it can do this under Ekholm who has been on the board for a decade while Ericsson lost ground.

Continental Joins Self-driving Platform Led By BMW, Intel

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Continental  announced that it will be joining a self-driving platform developed by BMW, Intel  and Mobileye with the German auto parts and tire maker handling integration of components and software.

The costs to integrate hardware, software and data and the accelerating pace of development of self-driving vehicles has sparked a growing number of alliances between automakers and suppliers.

Continental, the world’s second-biggest supplier to carmakers by sales, said it would play a key role in commercializing the new platform, which is to be sold to other auto manufacturers.

“We can meet the steep demands in autonomous driving through an industry-wide collaboration more comprehensively, rapidly and at lower costs than by going alone,” Chief Executive Elmar Degenhart said in an emailed statement.

BMW already last year joined forces with U.S. chipmaker Intel and Mobileye, the Israeli vision system and mapping expert on the self-driving platform, which is targeted for production in 2021. U.S. parts maker Delphi Automotive  has since joined the tie-up.

In April, Germany’s Daimler  formed a similar alliance with supplier Robert Bosch  to speed development of self-driving vehicles.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Gets August Launch Date

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd  plans to host a launch event in New York City for its next Galaxy Note smartphone in the second half of August, a person familiar with the matter has revealed to Reuters.

The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and so declined to be identified, said the Galaxy Note 8 will sport a curved screen that is marginally larger than the 6.2-inch version of the Galaxy S8 smartphone and feature two rear cameras. The Note 7 was equipped with a 5.7-inch curved screen and one rear camera.

The person did not elaborate further on the phone including pricing. A Samsung Electronics spokesman declined to comment.

Samsung is intent on continuing the premium Note series despite the costly collapse of the Galaxy Note 7, which it was forced to scrap roughly two months from launch in October due to fire-prone batteries. The incident, one of the biggest product safety failures in tech history, cost the firm 6.1 trillion won ($5.4 billion) in operating profit and hurt its credibility.

The firm disclosed its preliminary findings in January that different battery problems from two suppliers caused the fires, which was corroborated by two other independent probes. The firm implemented several steps including a new set of battery safety checks to avoid repeat incidents, which analysts said is helping it win back consumer trust.

Strong initial response for the Galaxy S8 smartphones that began selling in April indicate the firm is recovering quickly, with some analysts forecasting the device to set Samsung’s internal sales records and push the firm towards what is widely expected to be its best-ever profit for April-June. There have been no battery fire incidents reported for the S8.

Counterpoint Research estimates Samsung regained its spot as the top global smartphone maker in the first quarter after ceding the spot to archrival Apple Inc in the previous quarter. Apple is widely expected to unveil its next iPhones by October.

Amazon’s Acquisition Of Slack Could Mean Deeper Enterprise Presence

June 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Online retail giant Amazon is rumored to be interested in purchasing collaboration firm Slack Technologies — a possibility that could give Amazon a more direct entry into the enterprise.

“Bottom line: this could be a good move for Amazon in terms of upping their game in the enterprise collaboration market, but the devil is in the details of staying power and execution versus competitors like Google, Microsoft and Facebook,” said Forrester analyst Art Schoeller.

Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Amazon is considering the move in a deal that could be valued at $9 billion.

A Slack official declined to comment on the report. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Slack has more than 5 million daily users, and has seen widespread adoption since its inception three years ago. More recently, Microsoft was thought to be eyeing the company, but backed away from a deal when it determined the price — possibly as much as $8 billion — was too high, Schoeller said.

Microsoft eventually shifted tactics and formed Microsoft Teams, which launched in November 2016.

The Amazon interest in Slack is noteworthy, given that in February it released a video and audio conference service named Amazon Chime. Schoeller also noted that Amazon’s WorkMail offering has not put much of dent in the popularity of Microsoft’s well-established Exchange/Outlook combo or Google Gmail.

Acquiring Slack would help boost Amazon’s market position, Schoeller said, but it would need to follow through with more investment after any purchase if it hopes to take on the major collaboration rivals. He also noted there could be spillover effects on Amazon’s cloud operations.

“If Amazon continues to add business applications on top of Amazon Web Services, it will give other partners pause because they would now operate on a competitor’s platform,” Schoeller said.

Although Amazon Chime already has a Chat Room capability, Schoeller expects Slack would displace that as instant messaging gives way to similar team messaging apps.

Chime competes with online web conferencing services such as Zoom, Uber Conference and Join.me. Alan Lepofsky, vice president at Constellation Research, noted that besides WorkMail, Amazon also offers Amazon Docs which is a file-sharing service.

“It will be interesting to see if Amazon and Slack make a good combination,” Lepofsky said. “Amazon has been trying to improve their reach inside corporate accounts, outside of just developers. They have their Workspaces virtual desktop, WorkMail and WorkDocs, Chime and Do…, but we don’t hear much about corporate customers adopting these tools.

“Perhaps Slack would provide them a foot in the door, kick starting the opportunity for more of their platform,” he said.

Slack could also act as a front end to many of Amazon’s A.I. services, Lepofsky added. The company could wind up with an Echo product line and the Slack platform for software.

Was Apple’s “Planet Of The Apps” A Good Idea

June 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple’s debut into the world of original television programming shows that its self-obsession and lack of self-awareness make for dire telly.

Apple felt that the world was ready for it to show off its skills and make some original content. It had to be “Apple friendly” and still interest those users that it really does not like. What could go wrong?

Well according to even the most sympathetic reviewers in the Tame Apple press, the show is really dire.

The idea is to bring app developers in a competition to try to get mentoring and assistance from hosts Jessica Alba, will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. Now call me odd but I really would not think Gwyneth and Jessica know that much about programming and, try as I may, I have not ever been able to find the point of will.i.am.

Contestants describe their proposals as they ride an escalator down onto a stage where the judges sit, and then fire questions at the app developer.

Variety said the “Planet of the Apps” feels like something that was developed at a cocktail party, and not given much more rigorous thought or attention after the pitcher of mojitos was drained. It’s it’s a bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of ” Shark Tank,” moaned the magazine.

“Apple made its name on game-changing innovations, but this show is decidedly not one of them. The program’s one slick innovation is the escalator pitch,” it added.

The show makes too many assumptions. The first one is that you will know who everyone is, when they are only famous for supporting Apple to the point of naming their own children after the company. The second assuming is that you will care about  Apple’s development process and believe it is a way to make money. Most developers of Apps for the fruity cargo cult would rather be doing something else like gouging their own eyes out with spoons. Apple does not make the creation process that easy and takes a way a big chunk of money for its lack of co-operation.

All up this shows the arrogance and narcissism of Apple in its rotting corpse glory. A sensible outfit would have spent the money having someone who knew what they were doing product a show.  Apple gets more positive publicity from its product placement on shows like Grim than it would ever get for this pile of tosh.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The Wearable Market Growing?

June 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The worldwide market for wearable devices, including smartwatches, smart clothing, and fitness trackers, has increased 17.9 percent from the total number of units shipped in 2016, according to a report from IDC.

Back in December, we wrote that the wearables market in the US was experiencing a significant decline in Q3 due to a lack of new hardware. By the end of 2016, the total number of wearables shipped was 20.9 million units, thanks to a 16.9 percent increase in growth in the fourth quarter that pivoted Fitbit and Xiaomi as top sellers followed by Apple and Garmin. Then, in Q1, another shift happened where Fitbit lost its leadership due to slowing demand for fitness bands and a late entry into the smartwatch market. Apple emerged as a leader at the beginning of 2017 thanks to a relatively solid nine million sales of its Watch Series 2, followed by Xiaomi which shipped 3.4 million total wearables that quarter.

In the final tally, IDC now reports that wearable device shipments totaled 24.7 million units in the first quarter of 2017, a market where Apple and Xaomi are now tied for the top position. Each vendor shipped 3.6 million units and gained a 14.7 percent share each, respectively. For Beijing-based Xiaomi, more than 96 percent of shipments remained within mainland China, with many of those included in smartphone bundles sold at discounted rates. For the Cupertino-based fruity toymaker, a relatively “sustained” demand for both Series 1 and Series 2 smartwatches have resulted in its second highest year-over-year growth among the top global wearable vendors.

Fitbit, on the other hand, has been placed under careful observation for investors since March as market researchers suggest it will need to prepare for a “major recovery this year”. The company’s shipments reached three million units in Q1 2017 as it regained third place at a 12.3 percent share. Since its “mixed” Q3 2016 earnings report, the company has suffered from higher inventory levels as a result of “significantly understated consumer demand.” Company CEO James Park said in a press release yesterday that “while 2017 remains a transition year, we have executed on our restructuring plan”. The company is working on reducing its channel inventory levels in Q2 and hopes to enter the second half of the year with a relatively clean channel.

Courtesy-Fud

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