Microsoft has been making some headway in the generation eight console battle, with the Xbox One celebrating a third month running as the best-selling console in the US. The combined sales of the original One and the new S model also put it at the head of the pack in the UK in September.
US figures come from the NPD group and UK numbers from GfK, although no actual unit values were given. The full US sales report from NPD is due next week.
It’s likely that some of that recent lead is a result of a dip in PS4 sales thanks to the imminent launch of the PlayStation Pro, but the One has also been building momentum too, with sales up across many territories.
“Xbox One was the only gen eight console to see year-over-year growth in September in the U.S., Australia, the U.K and many other countries worldwide,” said corporate VP of Xbox marketing Mike Nichols. “This success was driven by our fans and their support for Xbox One S, which is the only console available this holiday with built-in UHD 4K Blu-ray, 4K video streaming and HDR for gaming and video.”
Since it did not come with some of the latest AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver packages, the guys over at Wccftech.com contacted AMD which gave them an official response that since September 12th, AMD is no longer bundling the AMD Gaming Evolved App by Raptr with its Radeon Software and will not provide any official support for it, including compatibility testing, install support or general technical support.
Those that still want to use it can get the Gaming Evolved App directly from Raptr or with previous builds of Radeon Software drivers package.
AMD is either making a new in-house app that will replace the one from Raptr or is simply now focusing on hardware and drivers. Unfortunately, this leaves it without any competition for the Nvidia’s Geforce Experience app which recently got completely overhauled and looks quite good.
The U.S. government has issued an emergency ban of Samsung’s exploding Galaxy Note7 devices from all flights, strongly urging device owners to take advantage of the company’s exchange and refund offers.
Owners of Galaxy Note7s may not transport the devices on their person, in carry-on baggage, or in checked luggage, Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration said. The smartphones also cannot be shipped as air cargo under the ban, which goes into effect Saturday at noon Eastern Time.
Passengers who attempt to evade the ban by packing their phone in checked luggage are “increasing the risk of a catastrophic incident,” the agencies said in a press release. Anyone violating the ban could face criminal prosecution and fines.
Samsung said it is cooperating with the ban. The company is working with airlines to communicate the ban, a spokeswoman said by email. “Any Galaxy Note7 owner should visit their carrier and retail store to participate in the U.S. Note7 refund and exchange program now,” she added by email. “We realize this is an inconvenience but your safety has to remain our top priority.”
Samsung started selling the phone in the U.S. in August, and users almost immediately reported exploding devices. In early September, the FAA advised owners not to turn on or charge their devices on flights.
Samsung has twice recalled the devices, but some replaced phones have caught fire as well. The company stopped selling the phone earlier this week. Some owners have hung onto their devices, however.
“The fire hazard with the original Note7 and with the replacement Note7 is simply too great for anyone to risk it and not respond to this official recall,” Elliot Kaye, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a press release. “I would like to remind consumers once again to take advantage of the remedies offered, including a full refund. It’s the right thing to do and the safest thing to do.”
In a week’s time, what is arguably the first truly great commercial experiment of the new VR age will begin. For the first time, consumers will be able to go out and buy a VR headset that’s (relatively) inexpensive, that doesn’t require a costly hobbyist PC to operate, and that provides a “good enough” VR experience for gaming and other applications. If there’s to be a sweet spot in the virtual reality market, Sony will be planting its flag firmly in it next Thursday.
Reviews of the device have started to appear and are pretty much what you’d expect. It’s good; we’ve known that from the countless demos and trade show appearances PSVR has made this year. It’s not as technically accomplished as the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift, but it’s a far more comfortable, well-designed piece of hardware, and its technical shortfalls are far fewer and less noticeable than you’d expect from such a cheap device running on such comparatively low-powered hardware. It’s certainly an entirely different class of experience than any of the “toy” VR experiences currently offered by mobile tech like Samsung’s Gear VR, a situation which Google’s newly announced Daydream headset seems unlikely to change.
So yes, this is the sweet spot, if such a thing exists. Good enough to actually want to use, unlike current mobile VR devices, cheap enough to be accessible to a wider audience of gamers and enthusiasts, and with common sense (if occasionally frustrating) trade offs between complexity of setup and physical arrangement, and accuracy of control. If a VR headset is to rescue this putative Year of VR from the somewhat disappointing launches of HTC and Oculus’ consumer devices – both of which saw interest plateau in the post-launch period – then it’s going to be PlayStation VR.
Is that what Sony has in mind, though? One peculiarity of the PSVR launch is that beyond the specialist press, it’s something of a non-event. Marketing support for the launch is minimal; there’s far less hype and visibility around the product than there would be around, for example, the launch of a major game. Here in Japan, PSVR barely warrants a mention in Sony’s current barrage of advertising, which is promoting PlayStation 4 with TV and streaming site commercials that highlight the launch of games like Persona 5 and Yakuza 6, the arrival of new console hardware, and oh yeah, PSVR is a thing too.
One could argue that Sony would be foolish to push PSVR too hard given that pretty much the entirety of its early shipments are spoken for by pre-orders. We still don’t know how many units of PSVR will ship for launch, or how many are projected to ship by year-end, but every indication is that the numbers are relatively small, at least by comparison with the PS4’s installed base. It’s not unreasonable to expect that PSVR will be for all intents and purposes supply-constrained through into early 2017, making it comfortably the most commercially successful of the tethered VR platforms – regardless of whether the company spends a single cent on further marketing.
However, the slightest glance back over the history of hardware launches in the games business and beyond would demonstrate that companies generally do not row back their marketing budgets just because of being supply-constrained; if anything, this encourages them to redouble their efforts. That’s because supply constraints act as a multiplier on marketing budgets. When demand is outstripping supply, every extra notch that you can ratchet up that demand through your marketing efforts guarantees more media coverage, more word of mouth and more visibility for your product, creating a halo of desirability around the platform which can give a long-term boost to sales that lasts for months or even years after the initial supply constraints are lifted.
That Sony has seemingly decided to eschew that strategy for PSVR is interesting, but probably speaks to a confluence of a number of different factors. For a start, it’s rare for a platform holder to be putting not one but two major new pieces of hardware on the market at once, which is what Sony is doing with PSVR in October and PS4 Pro in November. A huge marketing push, widespread coverage of shortages and the resulting desirability halo that would build around PSVR would be great for the VR headset, but might negatively impact the now overshadowed PS4 Pro. That would hurt all the more if, as is likely, PS4 Pro is not supply constrained while PSVR is. That’s definitely a factor playing into Sony’s decision making here.
There’s something else in play too, though. Lots of software is on the way for PSVR, and there’s actually a pretty respectable line-up at the outset – but reviews of the system are fairly blunt about the extent to which much of it feels more like it’s demoing the hardware, and the concept of VR itself, rather than being a proper, full-strength VR game experience. The games aren’t just short, they expose kinks in the PS Move control system (which may be fixable or may be an innate problem PSVR just has to work around forever) and sidestep major issues instead of tackling them – for example, the Batman VR title’s decision to make the player jump from location to location, rather than walking between them, to avoid motion sickness.
In short, while there’s interesting and even accomplished stuff in there, it all sounds rather like the kind of thing that you play to show off a new system’s capabilities, rather than the kind of thing that makes you say, “you’ve got to go out and get PSVR so you can play this game”. The enthusiasts and the VR faithful don’t need a killer app – they just need enough of a taster to convince themselves that the killer apps will come, given time – but the general public absolutely does. It’s easy for enthusiasts – a category which, if you’re reading this, probably encompasses you – to underestimate the psychological barrier VR needs to overcome. For many consumers, the prospect of strapping on a headset that looks like a Daft Punk cosplay prop, isolating themselves from the world around them and potentially looking like a complete tool as they flail around with objects nobody else in the room can see is a pretty big ask.
A great killer app game that gets the world gushing will overcome that barrier. That may be on the way; all eyes are on January’s Resident Evil 7, which could potentially be VR’s first truly huge AAA title. Until that kind of game is available, though, Sony may be well advised to focus on the VR faithful and keep its marketing powder dry. That’s certainly what seems to have happened so far; this is entirely anecdotal, but I’ve been surprised at just how few people have asked whether I’m getting a PSVR (and if they can bring an offering of beer around in order to have a go on it). Far fewer people have asked me about PSVR than have asked about PS4 Pro, or even Xbox One S. Enthusiasts know about it; the average gamer simply doesn’t seem to care yet.
Given the hurdles facing mainstream VR adoption, that may be for the best. It’s important that when the majority of consumers start to experience VR, their experience of it is fantastic, not just a demo or a proof of concept but a game that makes them want to own this technology right now. Saving the marketing blitz and letting PSVR’s software library mature first could be the best way to prevent the so-called Year of VR from ending with the Winter of VR Discontent.
The rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which claims that the maker of the Thinkpad, Lenovo, is about to swallow up Fujitsu.
Nikkei Asian Review claims Lenovo is in talks with Fujitsu to acquire its PC division, which would make the largest computer maker worldwide even bigger.
The two companies aim to reach a deal this month. One proposal would have the Fujitsu group transfer its PC design, development and manufacturing operations to a Lenovo-led joint venture. Another option involves Lenovo taking a majority stake in Fujitsu’s PC subsidiary. About 2,000 Fujitsu employees likely would shelter under Lenovo’s umbrella.
Japan-based Fujitsu shipped four million PCs worldwide in its last fiscal year, but that division of the company also lost $96.5 million during that time period as well. A proposal to merge Fujitsu’s PC business with Vaio and Toshiba’s computer division fell apart earlier this year.
The court said that there was substantial evidence for the jury verdict related to Samsung’s infringement of Apple patents on its slide-to-unlock and auto-correct features, as well as quick links, which automatically turn information like addresses and phone numbers into links.
Friday’s decision was made by the full slate of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. In an 8-3 ruling, the judges said that a previous panel of the same court should not have overturned the verdict last February.
The three-judge panel did not follow U.S. Supreme Court limits on the scope of its review, because it examined evidence outside the record of the case, the decision said.
Representatives for Samsung and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.
The appeal stems from a May 2014 verdict from a federal court in San Jose, California, which ordered Samsung to pay $119.6 million for using the Apple features without permission.
Infringement of the quick links feature accounted for nearly $99 million of the damages.
The jury had also found that Apple infringed a Samsung patent on digital photo technology and awarded $158,400 in damages. Friday’s decision upholds that award.
The two companies have been battling over mobile device technology patents for years, with Apple mostly prevailing.
In December, Samsung paid Apple $548.2 million stemming from a separate patent case. Part of that dispute has been appealed to the Supreme Court, which will hear it on Tuesday.
The case is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 15-1171.
Verizon should push for a large price reduction on its pending $4.8 billion deal to acquire Yahoo, given Yahoo’s recent data breach and reported questionable security practices, several analysts said Friday.
“Verizon should certainly pay less for Yahoo at this point,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “Unfortunately, the property is damaged goods, particularly after the acknowledged security breach.”
A report on Thursday in the New York Post, quoting unnamed sources, said Verizon pushed Yahoo for a $1 billion discount on the purchase deal.
The discount is being sought because of Yahoo’s enormous data breach revealed two weeks ago and, more recently, reports that Yahoo was under a court order to scan emails for terrorist chatter, according to Post report.
Neither Yahoo nor Verizon would confirm the discount is being actively sought when asked by Computerworld. However, three Verizon officials who asked not to be named said that Verizon is very concerned about Yahoo’s recent data hack and security practices.
Verizon said it only learned about the hack of at least 500 million user accounts two days before Yahoo’s disclosure to the public on Sept. 22. At that time, Verizon said it would evaluate its future direction with Yahoo “through the lens of overall Verizon interests, including consumers, customers, shareholders and related communities.”
According to sources in the Post report, Verizon’s AOL Division chief Tim Armstrong flew to the West Coast to meet with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in recent days to seek the price reduction. The sources said Yahoo officials pushed back hard, saying that a deal is a deal, and that Verizon had no legal recourse to change the terms.
But analysts said that deals such as the one between Yahoo and Verizon would certainly include provisions for changing the final purchase price, depending on discovery of new information after the deal was first reached.
“Undoubtedly there are clauses in deals like this,” Moorhead said. “In this case, it could be extraordinary, given the size of the breach and the newer, unverified, revelations on the U.S. government scanning emails.”
Diffie-Hellman is a key exchange protocol that is slowly replacing the widely used RSA key agreement for the TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol. Unlike RSA, Diffie-Hellman can be used with TLS’s ephemeral modes, which provide forward secrecy — a property that prevents the decryption of previously captured traffic if the key is cracked at a later time.
However, in May 2015, a team of researchers devised a downgrade attack that could compromise the encryption connection between browsers and servers if those servers supported DHE_EXPORT, a version of Diffie-Hellman key exchange imposed on exported cryptographic systems by the National Security Agency in the 1990s and which limited the key size to 512 bits. In May 2015 around 7 percent of websites on the internet were vulnerable to the attack, which was dubbed LogJam.
“In response to recent developments attacking Diffie-Hellman key exchange and to protect the privacy of Firefox users, we have increased the minimum key size for TLS handshakes using Diffie-Hellman key exchange to 1023 bits,” David Keeler, a Mozilla security engineer, said in a blog post Friday.
A small number of servers are still not configured to use strong enough keys and Firefox users trying to access them will receive an error called “ssl_error_weak_server_ephemeral_dh_key,” Keeler said.
According to a recent survey of the top 140,000 HTTPS websites on the internet by traffic, around 5 percent of them used keys smaller than 1024 bits. The currently recommended size is 2048 bits and more than 67 percent of these sites conform to that.
A federal judge has ruled that four national credit-card companies may have improperly conspired “in lockstep” to set a deadline of Oct. 1, 2015 for requiring retailers to upgrade their technology to accept embedded chip cards for credit and debit card purchases.
U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup agreed with two small Florida businesses — B & R Supermarket and Grove Liquors — which brought the lawsuit in March.
Alsup’s ruling also allows the antitrust case against Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover Financial Services to move forward in federal court for the Northern District of California.
The two retailers are seeking to create a class-action case involving millions of small retailers who have been required under the Oct. 1, 2015 deadline to assume liability for fraudulent card charges if they haven’t upgraded to the more-secure chip card technology instead of magnetic-stripe cards. The retailers believe there was industry conspiracy over creation of the deadline that violates fair trade practices.
In the same ruling, the judge allowed two other retailers — Los Angeles-based gourmet food chain Monsieur Marcel and New York-based grocery story chain Fine Fare — to intervene in the case.
Significantly, the judge dismissed the role of nine major banks, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, in any conspiracy over setting the chip card deadline, but ordered the banks to retain records pertinent to the case.
“This order concludes that plaintiffs plausibly allege an impermissible conspiracy” by Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover, the judge said.
“We are disappointed that the court denied our motion,” said Mastercard spokesman Seth Eisen, in an email. “As we move into the next phase of the process, we believe we have a strong case that will allow us to put this matter behind us and focus on driving our business and relationships with customers.”
American Express, Visa and Discover declined to comment on the ruling.
Lawyers for the retailers have said a class-action lawsuit could include 8 million U.S. small businesses. They would seek repayment of the cost of upgrading to chip card readers and related software, estimated at $6 billion. However, the National Retail Federation has recently estimated the total cost of the conversion in the U.S. at up to $35 billion.
TSMC has said it will prop up Moore’s Law and will innovate to keep it going.
TSMC co-CEO Mark Liu told the assorted throngs at a recent event in Hsinchu that his outfit has been mass producing 16nm chips, and is looking to enter volume production of 10nm chips by the end of 2016.
The next plan is to start risk production of 7nm chips in early 2017, and meanwhile has been engaged in the development of 5nm process technology he said.
While TSMC’s R&D for 5nm process continues, a team of the foundry’s 300-400 engineers has already been involved in R&D for 3nm process, Liu claimed.
The company is apparently chatting to academics about how it can develop 2nm process technology. If all comes to fruition, said Liu Moore’s Law will continue to be relevant.
TMSC said that its cunning plan includes smartphones being its main growth momentum. He thinks that smartphones will arrive with more innovative features and with more ICs and sensors than you can point a stick at.
Chipmakers will have to constantly upgrade their technologies for the manufacture of advanced ICs and sensors for phones, Liu said.
High-performance computing (HPC), Internet of Things (IoT) and system integration are also the applications that will drive TSMC’s future growth, Liu added.
SAP the esoteric business software outfit which makes expensive business software which no one can be certain what it does, has just bought the cloud start-up Altiscale.
SAP said that Altiscale offers cloud based versions of the Hadoop and Spark open source software for storing, processing and analysing different types of data. It is thought that the deal was worth about $125 million but this is mostly guessing.
Altiscale has published a blog post to let its customers know that it will become a part of SAP. Apparently SAP wants to harness its technology:
“Altiscale is a natural fit for SAP, as we share our overall focus of helping enterprises derive business value from data — and successfully use big data. Since Altiscale is a leader in big data-as-a-service based on Hadoop and Spark, it enables SAP to drive end-to-end value in Big Data across the technology, data platform PaaS (platform as a service), analytics, and application stack”.
Raymie Stata, Altiscale cofounder and chief executive, notes that the startup will focus on integrating its technology with SAP and will also work on SAP strategy around data and platform.
Altiscale flogs its stuff to Accel Partners, AME Cloud Ventures, Northgate, General Catalyst Partners, Sequoia Capital and Wildcat Venture Partners.
California will grant more companies more leeway in testing self-driving vehicles on public roads while restricting how the nascent technology is advertised under revised draft regulations released on Friday.
In one of the biggest changes, the new regulations would allow for the absence of a driver in some instances, provided there is two-way communication with the vehicle.
The original draft regulations by the Department of Motor Vehicles were criticized by some tech companies, such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, and carmakers as being overly restrictive and stifling innovation. Moreover, disabled groups complained that the requirement of a driver in the car hurt the very people that autonomous vehicles would most benefit.
California has been at the forefront of the fast-growing autonomous vehicle industry, fueled by technology companies in Silicon Valley, and is one of a handful of states to have passed regulations enabling self-driving car testing on public roads.
Currently, 15 companies have permits to drive autonomous vehicles on public roads in the state provided there is a licensed driver in the car.
Now, carmakers will have to certify that they have met a 15-step safety assessment issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That safety assurance means self-driving cars will no longer be required to be tested by a third-party, as in the original proposal.
The changes also prohibit advertising semi-autonomous systems like enhanced cruise control and lane-assist systems using terms like “autonomous” or “self-driving.” The systems help steer and keep vehicles in lanes but still require a human to remain engaged.
Such partially autonomous systems, which transfer control of the vehicle between the driver and the car and vice versa, have come under scrutiny since a May fatality involving a Tesla Motors Inc driver using the company’s Autopilot semi-autonomous system.
Some consumer groups and others have criticized the Silicon Valley electric car maker for the choice of the name Autopilot, which could suggest that the technology does not require a driver’s intervention.
The draft regulations face a new period of public comment before being finalized.
Mozilla has unveiled three new test features for Firefox, including one that separates YouTube videos from the browser and another that may signal towards a more aggressive ad-blocking strategy by the open-source developer.
“We’re excited to announce the release of three new Test Pilot experiments,” said Nick Nguyen, the vice president of Firefox, in a post to a company blog. “These features will help you share and manage screenshots; keep streaming video front and center; and protect your online privacy.”
Test Pilot was re-introduced in May when Mozilla resurrected a 2009 moniker and used it on a 2015 project that had fallen into disuse. Test Pilot was designed to collect feedback on proposed new features for Firefox before they were added to the browser.
The three features that debuted today were a screenshot taker, called “Page Shot,” that also includes a search mechanism for finding what has been snapped; “Min Vid,” which plays YouTube and Vimeo videos in a Lilliputian window atop Firefox; and “Tracking Protection,” a tool brought over from Firefox’s already-extant Private Browsing.
The last of the trio — Tracking Protection — had the most significant implications for the browser.
As part of Private Browsing — Firefox’s incognito mode — Tracking Protection has blocked web ads, page analytics measuring tools and the sharing buttons, such as those for Facebook and Twitter, that may record users’ site-to-site travels. Mozilla added Tracking Protection to Private Browsing in November 2015.
“This experiment will help us understand where Tracking Protection breaks the web so that we can improve it for all Firefox users,” Nguyen wrote today.
By testing Tracking Protection, Mozilla signaled that it’s thinking of adding the feature to Firefox, where it would be used — whether by default or as an option — by all users, not just those calling up Private Browsing.
Apple Inc and Deloitte LLP announced a partnership in which the consultant will open a new practice to encourage business clients to work with Apple products, the tech firm’s latest attempt to boost enterprise sales as its key product, the iPhone, shows signs of maturation.
More than 5,000 Deloitte advisers will be included in the Apple initiative, the companies said. The consulting firm also launched EnterpriseNext, a program aimed at helping clients make better use of Apple products and services.
Apple has announced a steady stream of enterprise partnerships in recent years as it aims to draw more revenue from a market that some say it has traditionally overlooked.
A partnership struck with IBM in 2014 signaled Apple’s intentions of getting more serious about corporate clients, or enterprise, and deals with Cisco and SAP have followed.
The deal with Deloitte will ensure that Apple is top of mind as companies think strategically about their practices, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview.
“What’s needed now is more of a focus on transforming the enterprise and helping businesses identify which areas have the highest either return on investment or highest impact on customer satisfaction,” Cook said. “Deloitte is well positioned for this.”
As part of the EnterpriseNext program, customers can meet with designers and engineers who specialize in Apple’s operating system.
“The intent there is to, in one location, bring the best engineers, the best products and the best thinkers to try and address clients’ problems,” Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global, said in an interview.
Apple faces mounting pressure to find new streams of revenue after sales of the iPhone, which drives more than half of its revenue, declined for the first time this year.
Cook said in 2015 that Apple’s enterprise business had reached $25 billion in annual revenue. He declined to provide a new figure on Wednesday but stressed the company is gaining ground.
“The momentum is significant, and we see this as a very important growth vector,” he said.
The Intel backed blockchain project has apparently passed its tests with more than eight finance outfits on their bond transactions.
For those that came in late, blockchain is similar technology which is behind bitcoin and is being looked at by the finance houses as a secure way to carrying out banking translations. Intel has baded a financial innovation start-up R3 to push the tech and it trialed it with eight banks, including HSBC and State Street.
The platform featured advanced smart contract technology that enabled trading, matching, and settlement of U.S. Treasury bonds, as well as automated coupon payments and redemption, R3 said in a statement.
Tim Grant, chief executive officer of R3’s Lab and Research Center said the goal at R3 was to bring our members together with the strongest technology players and work collaboratively to evaluate and accelerate this technology to production using real-world use cases.
R3 is leading a consortium of more than 60 of the world’s largest financial institutions created to develop commercial applications of blockchain technology for the financial services industry. The R3 consortium members involved in U.S. Treasury debt project included CIBC, ING Bank, HSBC, Scotiabank, Societe Generale scgly , State Street stt , UBS ubs , and UniCredit.
The blockchain trial was undertaken at R3’s Lab and Research Center. R3, Intel and each of the banks used physical, “non-cloud-based nodes” hosted across the U.S., Canada, Asia, Australia and Europe to interact and simulate US Treasury trading on the blockchain.