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Mobile Ads Generate A Signficant Chunk Of Facebook’s Revenue

April 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook continued expanding its business with ads placed on small screens last quarter, when it generated 73 percent of its sales from mobile ads.

Facebook’s total first-quarter revenue was US$3.54 billion, up more than 40 percent from a year earlier, the company reported Wednesday. That was a bit less than the consensus analyst estimate of $3.56 billion, as polled by Thomson Reuters.

With a bounty of personal data on its billion-plus members — many of whom now log in from their smartphones — Facebook’s mobile ad business has become a juggernaut.

During the quarter, which ended March 31, Facebook grew its mobile ad sales by 59 percent to $2.59 billion. After going public in mid-2012, Facebook faced questions from investors over its ability to grow its business on mobile, but the company eventually dispelled those doubts.

Net income came in at $512 million, down 20 percent, while earnings per share dropped 28 percent to $0.18.

On a pro forma basis, which excludes certain costs, such as share-based compensation and related payroll tax expenses, Facebook had earnings per share of $0.42, up from $0.35 last year, and beating the analyst consensus estimate of $0.40.

“This was a strong start to the year,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.

The company’s costs and expenses rose by more than 80 percent from a year earlier, to $2.61 billion.

The number of people who log in monthly to Facebook grew by 13 percent, to 1.44 billion. And the number of those people who log in from a mobile device grew faster, by 24 percent to 1.25 billion.

In addition to its primary mobile app, Facebook now operates a suite of apps including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. But its flagship app generates by far the most mobile ad sales.

Facebook began placing ads in Instagram in 2013, but by its own admission has done so slowly and gradually. Neither Messenger nor WhatsApp carry ads yet.

 

 

Some Apple Watches To Arrive Ahead Of Schedule

April 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Some Apple Watch buyers who were told that they would have to wait until June to receive their new gadgets will get them sooner, according to a statement made by Apple.

When online pre-orders for Apple’s first smartwatch started on April 10, many customers were surprised to see delivery times as far out as June instead of on April 24, when the devices officially go on sale.

On Wednesday, Apple notified some buyers that they would not have to wait so long after all.

“Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on the available supply and the order in which they were received,” Apple said in a statement.

An Apple spokesman declined to say how soon the company would ship the watches or how many customers would be affected.

The Cupertino, California company previously predicted that demand would exceed supply at product launch. It has not said how many watches its customers have pre-ordered.

In a note to clients on Wednesday, FDR analyst Daniel Ives estimated Apple would take over 2 million pre-orders for the watch and ship 20 million of them in 2015.

“The longer-term consumer adoption curve for the Apple Watch remains a major ‘hot button’ question among tech investors as broad customer feedback is yet to be seen,” Ives wrote.

 

Will IoT Help The Semiconductor Industry Grow?

April 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Internet of Things (IoT) will be the semiconductor industry’s next growth driver, according to TSMC president and co-CEO CC Wei.

Wei believes that the healthcare chip market will reach US$6.8 billion in production value in 2017, said Wei. Meanwhile a family home could feature more than 500 smart devices by 2020.

He said that mobile devices have already replaced PCs as the major growth driver of the semiconductor market and in 2014, about 1.88 billion mobile phones were shipped with 1.2 billion of them being smartphones.

Technology is also enabling devices to progress. Taking PC as an example, the penetration rate of the devices has been pushed up thanks to more advanced chip-making technologies, Wei said.

Worldwide semiconductor R&D expenditures were as high as US$56 billion in 2013, with the US semiconductor industry contributing the most at US$33 billion. Taiwan’s R&D expenditures for the year came to about an impressive US$5 billion, Wei noted.

Among the industry’s top-10 R&D spenders in 2014, two Taiwan-based companies were listed, Wei disclosed. TSMC’s R&D spending for the year came to US$1.87 billion allowing the company to climb to fifth place in the ranking, while MediaTek moved up to ninth with total R&D expenditures of US$1.43 billion.

Courtesy-Fud

PayPal Is Going Biometric

April 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

PayPal has detailed a number of biometric security solutions that it believes could replace the conventional password.

The biometric solutions include embedded chip tattoos, vein recognition and even ingestible technology that would mean people no longer need to worry about fraudsters nicking their sensitive information or digital dosh.

The payments firm is flogging the idea via a presentation at various technology conferences entitled Kill all Passwords, where it claims that the rise of hacking and phishing targeting online banking services will lead people to use tighter security.

This next step, PayPal says, includes inserting security devices into the body to allow the use of unique internal characteristics to log-in to accounts.

It sounds a little far-fetched, but PayPal’s global head of developer advocacy, Jonathan LeBlanc, who is currently giving these presentations, doesn’t seem to think so.

He listed the most frequently used passwords, including ’123456′, ‘password’, ’12345678′, ‘qwerty’ and ‘abc123′, stating that a huge 40 percent of people have a password included in the top 100 passwords list and 14 percent have a password from the most used 10.

“As long as passwords remain the standard method for identifying your users on the web, people will still continue to use ‘letmein’ or ‘password123′ for their secure log-in, and will continue to be shocked when their accounts become compromised,” he said.

LeBlanc said that, after working with developers to uncover and trial new forms of secure account log-in, embeddable, injectable and ingestible devices are the future for mobile payments.

Devices that use some of this technology already exist, such as those used for medical applications including glucose detection, blood pressure monitoring and digestive health.

LeBlanc even went as far as to say that more recently developed online interactions using external bodily methods, such as fingerprints, used by the likes of Apple for its iPhones and iPads, are “antiquated” and will be phased out before services like PayPal will consider using them.

Sounding like something from a sci-fi film, another idea of PayPal’s is that a brain chip implant could allow humans to authenticate themselves online.

PayPal, which at the moment is still owned by auction site eBay, will become its own business again at some point this year following news of a split in 2014.

The numbers from eBay’s fourth-quarter and full-year financial statements last year explained that there will be a cull of about seven percent of staffers in the first quarter of 2015.

Meanwhile, PayPal faces challenges from established players and new entrants like Apple, which offers some kind of phone-based option.

Courtesy-TheInq

BlackBerry To Offer Security Function For IoT

April 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

BlackBerry Ltd announced that it will be offering a new certificate service that will help bring the security level it offers on smartphones to a slew of devices from cars to smart meters.

Certicom, a subsidiary of BlackBerry and an industry pioneer in elliptic curve cryptography, announced a new offering that it contends will secure millions of devices, expected to be part of the growing Internet of Things (IoT) sphere.

The company said it has already won a contract in Britain to issue certificates for the smart meter initiative there with more than 104 million smart meters and home energy management devices.

The service will make it much easier for companies rolling out such devices to authenticate and secure them, the company said.

Separately, BlackBerry also outlined a plan to expand its research and development efforts on innovation and improvement in computer security.

The initiative is being dubbed BlackBerry Center for High Assurance Computing Excellence (CHACE).

Increased network and device security has become a huge focus for large North American corporations in the face of costly and damaging security breaches.

U.S. retailer Target Corp is still recovering from a major breach in 2013 in which 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data such as email addresses and phone numbers were stolen.

Michaels Stores, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, said last year it had suffered a security breach that may have affected about 2.6 million payment cards.

BlackBerry said the fail-then-patch approach to managing security risk has become a widely accepted practice, but through CHACE it plans to develop tools and techniques that deliver a far higher level of protection than is currently available.

 

Samsung Projecting 70M Galaxy S6, Edge Phones To Be Sold

April 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has recently described the first week of Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge sales as “impressive” and predicted overall sales for both devices will break a record, passing 70 million globally for both.

That projection, offered by an unnamed Samsung executive in a recent Korea Times report from Seoul, would be welcome, indeed, after the company’s problems selling the Galaxy S5.

A Samsung spokeswoman could not immediately confirm the sales estimate. Both phones went on sale April 10 in the U.S. and other major markets.

The 70 million in sales for both phones would compare to reported sales of 70 million for each of the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 phones. The Galaxy S5′s sales fell 40% below expectations, as measured last November, leading to an executive shakeup.

Samsung has been using the Edge device as a kind of promotion for both phones, which are reportedly sold to carriers in a ratio deal: When a carrier buys 10 Galaxy S6 phones to resell, the carrier gets the right to buy five Edge phones to resell.

The Edge is the first smartphone with two curved front display edges on either side, something Samsung expected would be a crowd pleaser. Some reports have said there were a record high 20 million pre-orders for both new phones and that some retailers sold out within a day of availability.

Samsung is apparently seeing good early sales despite user complaints of a problem with the auto-rotate feature on some Edge devices. Some images and apps remain stuck in the portrait mode (vertical) and won’t rotate as they should to landscape mode (horizontal), according to dozens of users in forums.

Samsung and U.S. carriers have offered no public explanation for the problem or its fix, nor have they said how many units are affected. Some customers have returned an Edge device only to have a second one fail. Sprint referred all queries on the matter to Samsung, while Verizon and AT&T have not commented.

 

Google’s Loon Close To Launching

April 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google says its Project Loon is nearing the capability to produce and launch thousands of balloons to provide Internet access from the sky.

Such a number would be required to provide reliable Internet access to users in remote areas that are currently unserved by terrestrial networks, said Mike Cassidy, the Google engineer in charge of the project, in a video post.

The ambitious project has been under way for a couple of years and involves beaming down LTE cellular signals to handsets on the ground from balloons thousands of feet in the air, well above the altitude that passenger jets fly.

“At first it would take us 3 or 4 days to tape together a balloon,” Cassidy says in the video. “Today, through our own manufacturing facility, the automated systems can get a balloon produced in just a few hours. We’re getting close to the point where we can roll out thousands of balloons.”

Trials are currently underway with Telstra in Australia, Telefonica in Latin America and with Vodafone in New Zealand, where the video appears to have been largely shot. Maps tracking the path of balloons over the country are seen at several points in the video.

At a European conference in March, a Google executive said the balloons were staying aloft for up to 6 months at a time.

At some point they do come down, and Cassidy says the company has developed a system to predict where they will land and to retrieve them.

It has also worked on a reliable launching system.

Google hasn’t provided any details about what a commercial roll-out of the technology might look like.

 

 

 

Mozilla’s Firefox Coming To iPhone

April 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mozilla will offer Firefox for Apple’s iPhone “soon,” according to a company announcement of an open marketing position.

As the senior mobile marketing manager, the candidate will “lead marketing for Firefox on both Android and iOS,” the listing stated, adding that “a new Firefox for iOS application [will be] arriving soon.”

Mozilla, which had previously staunchly declined to create a version of its iconic browser for iOS, changed its tune last December, when a company manager said that the open-source developer would “get Firefox on iOS.”

Although Mozilla confirmed that it was working on Firefox for iOS, at the time it gave no hint of a timeline. “We are in the early stages of experimenting with something that allows iOS users to be able to choose a Firefox-like experience,” Mozilla said in a Dec. 2 blog.

The phrase “Firefox-like experience” was crucial: Apple allows only those browsers into the App Store that are built atop its own rendering and JavaScript engines, WebKit and Nitro, which power Safari. Mozilla relies on its own technologies for both. Firefox on iOS, then, will be a user interface (UI) layer atop WebKit and Nitro.

Mozilla’s Github repository for iOS Firefox confirmed that.

The reasons for Mozilla’s renewed interest in iOS likely stemmed from Firefox’s decline in browser user share. Over the last 12 months, Firefox has shed 31% of its desktop user share by metrics vendors’ Net Applications count, and now has less than half the share of Google’s Chrome.

Mozilla has put its shoulder behind other mobile initiatives. But Firefox OS, an open-source mobile operating system based on the browser, has not yet gained significant traction and its Firefox browser for Android hasn’t moved the needle. According to Net Applications, Firefox’s usage share on mobile was just 0.7% last month, or about one sixty-sixth that of Safari.

 

 

 

Sony Unveils New Xperia Smartphone

April 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sony Corp on Monday announced a new high-end Xperia smartphone featuring an aluminium frame and a 5.2-inch screen, showing it is still in the phone race even as it scales down its struggling mobile operations.

The launch of the new flagship model comes amid a painful restructuring at the Japanese consumer electronics giant which has thrown the future of its smartphone division into doubt, with top executives saying an exit cannot be ruled out.

But as the company focuses on cutting costs rather than growing its mobile market, the division still needs investment in new products and marketing to maintain Sony’s brand and hold off a more rapid deterioration.

Sony said the Xperia Z4 would be available in Japan around the middle of the year, though it did not provide a launch date, details on carrier partners or price. The handset would be available in four colours and was slightly thinner than the previous Z3.

Hiroki Totoki, who was appointed last year to turn around the mobile unit, said Sony was targeting the upper end of the market where rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc dominate.

“There’s a broad variety in the prices of smartphones, from around $100 to $1,400 at the upper end,” he told a news conference. “We want to focus in the upper half of that.”

Sony’s mobile division has fallen far behind high-end rivals such as Samsung and Apple, while at the low end it is battling pricing pressure from Asian manufacturers such as China’s Xiaomi Inc.

The company whose Walkman and Trinitron TV once played a critical role in the global entertainment industry has struggled in recent years to come up with trend-setting gadgets.

Sony announced in February that it would scale down its weaker operations such as TVs and mobile phones to focus instead on more successful products such as video games and camera sensors.

 

Apple Pay Headed To Canada

April 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc is gearing up to launch its electronic payments service in Canada in November, the first international expansion of Apple Pay, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The iPhone maker is in talks with Canada’s six biggest banks, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank , Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada, the people told the Journal.

The banks are open to an agreement, but are not happy with Apple’s fee proposals and are worried about security vulnerabilities like the ones that U.S. banks experienced, the Journal said, citing the people.

It was still unclear if all six Canadian banks would launch Apple Pay at the same time, the Journal said.

Apple launched the service, a mobile payment app that allows consumers to buy things by holding their iPhone6 and 6 Plus devices up to a reader, in the United States in October.

 

Qualcomm Gives Snapdragon More Umph

April 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has released a new Trepn Profiler app for Android which will profile Snapdragon processors and tinker with them.

The Trepn Profiler app identifies apps that overwork the CPU or are eating too much data. The app will pinpoint which of the apps drain the battery faster.

All data that will be obtained by this app can provide information you need to know which program is slowing down your phone.

Most Android phone users will not give a damn, but developers will find it useful. Those who are interested in testing roms, custom kernels, and their own apps can use the data gathered by the Trepn Profiler.

Developers can measure optimisation and performance on Snapdragon-powered mobile devices. Data are real-time include network usage, battery power, GPU frequency load, and CPU cores’ load. Key features also include six fast-loading profiling presets, and an advanced mode to manually select data points and save for analysis.

The Advanced Mode allows profiling a single app or device, offline data analysis, and increasing of data collection interval. This special mode also allows longer profiling sessions, displaying two data point in one overlay, and viewing of profile data.

All up this should enable developers to come up with more Snapdragon friendly apps.

Courtesy-Fud

IKEA Launches Wireless Charging Furniture Collection

April 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

IKEA has rolled out its Wireless Charging collection of furniture, which has built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers for compatible mobile phones.

In addition to offering bedside tables, floor- and table lamps, desks and simple charging pads, IKEA is also selling a DIY kit that lets users embed wireless chargers into furniture of their choice.

The furniture, and other items in IKEA’s wireless charging collection, ranges in price from $9.99 to $119.

The Wireless Charging collection will be rolled out globally, with U.S. stores seeing availability beginning in late spring, IKEA said today in a statement.

“With smartphones becoming such a natural part of our lives, we wanted the charging part to become a natural part of our homes,” Holly Harraway, IKEA’s lighting sales leader, said.

The furniture uses the most popular wireless charging specification, Qi, which is supported by brands such as Samsung and Energizer and has gotten an extension to its specification allowing it to charge devices at short distances

Users can check whether their mobile phone is compatible with the Qi standard at the Wireless Power Consortium’s this website.

The WPC with its Qi specification is up against two other industry organizations with their own wireless charging protocols: the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP.

The Qi spec transfers 5 watts of power for enabled mobile devices, such as the Galaxy S4 and S3, Nokia Lumia 1020, LG G2, Motorola Droid Maxx and Mini and the Google Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet.

If a smartphone does not have native wireless charging capability, such as an iPhone, users can purchase a VITAHULT charging cover (for Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy only), or other Qi-enabled covers for use with the IKEA wireless charging furniture.

 

 

 

 

 

Huawei Unveils P8 And P8 Max Smartphones

April 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

China’s Huawei unveiled its flagship P8 and P8 Max mobile phones, devices that stack up against the latest models from Samsung and Apple in technical specifications if not marketing budget.

The P8, which runs Google’s Android operating system, has a 5.2 inch display screen — slightly larger than the Samsung Galaxy S6, unveiled last month, and the iPhone 6 — and an eight-core 64-bit processor.

Made from a single piece of metal, the phone is thinner than its rivals, with a width of 6.4 millimeters, Huawei said at a packed global launch event in London.

Like Apple, the Chinese company also launched a super-size version, the P8 Max, which comes with a 6.8 inch screen.

Huawei, a major player in the telecoms network equipment market, ranked fourth in global smartphone sales last year, shipping 68 million units, giving it a 5.5 percent share, according to research group Gartner.

The market is dominated by Samsung and Apple, which Gartner said had combined sales of nearly 500 million units.

Industry analyst Ben Wood said the P8 ticked all the boxes on design and performance, but it had a mountain to climb to position Huawei as a premium brand.

Seeking to differentiate itself from rivals, Huawei showed it could innovate, with features such as “knuckle sense”, which can differentiate between a knuckle and a finger to select and share content.

It also optimized the devices’ cameras to take “selfies”, including an ability to adjust skin tones, a move consumer device marketing president Shao Yang said would particularly increase its appeal to fashion-conscious young women.

“Huawei didn’t do very well in the past in the female market; this is the big potential market for the P-Series,” he said in an interview after the launch.

Huawei, and fellow Chinese companies Lenovo and Xiaomi, are leading the challenge to the two big players, particularly in their home market.

 

 

Jawbone, Amex Team Up On NFC Enabled Fitness Band

April 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Fitness-band maker Jawbone and charge card company American Express plan to give cardholders the ability to purchase goods using a future fitness band equipped with NFC, according to a report.

Neither company would confirm the new product, said to be announced this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The report said AmEx payments won’t be possible with the coming Jawbone UP3, but will appear on a future product.

Apple Watch, which last Friday went on pre-order, will also support NFC payments. Apple recently said it has more than 700,000 U.S. stores supporting its technology. In addition to American Express, Apple Watch supports MasterCard and Visa.

The use of NFC in wrist-wearable devices for use with in-store payments is expected to grow. In January, a Fitbit representative at the International CES trade show said the company plans to remain open to including mobile payment capabilities in its fitness bands.

However, adding NFC could drive up costs for wearable devices while creating a sense of application bloat. One smartwatch maker, Guess Watch, a subsidiary of Timex, has not included NFC in its Guess Connect smartwatch, which is coming in the fall for about $350. “We don’t think [payment capability] is what a fashion-focused consumer wants,” said Rob Pomponio, senior vice president for creative services at Guess Watches in an interview at CES in January.

What will matter to consumers about mobile payments on a smartwatch or fitness band will be whether the device can be widely used in stores. While Apple Watch can presumably work in payment terminals at 700,000 stores, that is just a fraction of the 12 million payment terminals in the U.S.

 

 

Altera Shareholders Not Too Happy With Intel’s Merger Offer

April 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Several key Altera shareholders have forced the company back to the negotiating table to discuss the merger with Intel.

Talks with Intel broke down over the price, which Alteria management felt was too low. Cadian
Capital Management and TIG Advisors, have told Alteria to stop mucking about and talk turkey with Chipzilla.

In letters to Altera’s management, shareholders have raised concerns about the company’s ability to create value on its own that matches Intel’s offer, Bloomberg reported.

The company has agreed to resume takeover talks with Intel.

Some other large investors also have also sent letters, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Intel’s offered $50 per share range while Altera’s shares are currently worth $43.86 and valued at $13.2 billion. The stock has surged nearly 27 percent since merger talks was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in March.

Cadian was Altera’s 10th-largest shareholder, with a 2.77 percent stake. TIG owns about 1.5 percent of Altera’s outstanding shares, one of the people told Bloomberg.  It looks like what will  be Intel’s biggest buy out is back on again.

Courtesy-Fud