According to Digitimes, heading into the second quarter of 2015, Taiwan touch panel makers have sudden got conservative outlooks and some are even predicting that their revenues will drop another 15-20 per cent.
he reason is that consumers don’t want game changing tablets and despite the claim that they are moving over to phablets instead the smartphone market is still pretty pants.
While Taiwan’s overall shipments are expected to grow in the second quarter, with makers expected to ship 41.579 million smartphone-use touch panels, increasing 23.5 per cent on quarter but decreasing 22.3 per cent on year. The 8.941 million tablet-use units, are up 7.2 per cent on quarter but down 15 per cent on year.
Tablet makers are hurting the most. Those who focus on the application such as TPK are expected to see a 15-20 per cent decline in revenues during the second quarter before rebounding in the second half of the year when product mixes are adjusted and new orders from customers arrive.
Young Fast Optoelectronics company chairman Pai Chih-chiang said that they were also having to face price competition and this will get worse.
Young Fast aims to reduce spending and cut costs in order to react to this trend, which arose largely due to competition from China. The company will also focus on developing larger-size products in addition to wearable solutions while increasing utilization rates, said Pai, adding it will lower its emphasis on consumer-based products.
Intel is just about to release a new version of Thunderbolt, just as its most major customer – Apple, has dropped the technology from its 12-inch MacBook.
Intel has hinted that it will reveal the “next generation of Thunderbolt” at a press event to be held next month at the Computex trade show in Taipei.
The latest version of Thunderbolt, version 2.0, can transfer data at speeds up to 20Mbps (bits per second), which is twice as fast as the latest USB 3.1.
Chipzilla has been working on a new chipset with more integrated components and we are expecting to see some new toys that will plug into it at the June 1 event.
Intel has been trying to speed up Thunderbolt data transfers, and has said data transfers could reach up to 50Gbps with the help of its emerging silicon photonics technology.
The driving force for a faster Thunderbolt connector could emerge with 8K video. This will appear in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 OS. Consumer electronics makers are backing the development of a new connector technology called SuperMHL, which will run through USB cables and could kill off any chance that Thunderbolt has.
Thunderbolt peripherals cost a bomb, and many PC makers have passed on the technology particularly for Windows PCs where people tend to be a little more practical. It seems that even the Apple market, where you can charge $1000 for a turd with an Apple logo on it is also shying away from Thunderbolt.
Computex will also have Intel showing off its USB Type-C 3.1, which is considered primary competition to Thunderbolt. The technology is more versatility than Thunderbolt as it can recharge laptops and be a connector for a wide variety of peripherals. The Type-C cables also look the same on both ends, so users don’t have to worry about plug orientation.
Reform Government Surveillance, an organization that represents technology giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft, is pushing the U.S. Senate not to delay reform of National Security Agency surveillance by extending expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.
The House of Representatives voted 338-88 last week to approve the USA Freedom Act that would, among other things, stop the controversial bulk collection of phone records of Americans by the NSA, including by placing restrictions on the search terms used to retrieve the records.
The bill has run into opposition in the Senate from some Republican members who are backing renewal of the current Section 215 of the Patriot Act that provides the legal framework for the phone data collection.
The urgency for Congress to pass legislation comes from the upcoming expiration on June 1 of certain parts of the Patriot Act, including Section 215. Under a so-called “sunset” clause, the provisions will lapse unless reauthorized in the same or modified form by legislation.
A bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month would extend the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act until 2020. To apparently buy time as pressure builds for reform, another bill has been placed on the Senate calendar to extend Section 215 and other expiring provisions in the current form up to July 31.
The technology companies said that the USA Freedom Act prevents the bulk collection of Internet metadata under various authorities, and provides for transparency about government demands for user information from technology companies, besides assuring that the appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms are in place.
Dropbox previously released its cloud storage service on Windows phones and tablets, and on Tuesday the company followed up with a universal app that expands the feature sets for both types of devices.
The update automatically adapts to the user’s screen size and delivers a number of new features, including the ability for Windows Phone users to upload videos directly from their devices.
In the interests of multitasking, Windows Phone users can also now upload multiple files at once. And they can download files straight to their device or SD card, making the information available for offline access; there’s a way to mark files as favorites for offline use as well.
The new update also brings the ability to save and open files to and from Dropbox while working within other apps.
On Windows tablets, Dropbox users can now invite new members to a shared folder from their contacts list and manage folder settings from their device. New keyboard shortcuts for selecting and searching enable a faster workflow.
Now available free for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.0 or 8.1, the software promises better performance as well, according to Dropbox.
Separately Tuesday, Dropbox rolled out new features for its main service that target designers and others who work frequently with images. Specifically, it debuted a new image viewer for better online previews as well as better support for Photoshop, Illustrator and scalable vector graphic files. Users can now also preview PostScript images in their browser rather than having to download them first.
China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, known for its telecom equipment, became the latest tech giant to present its own take on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), centered on an operating system designed to allow household and business appliances to communicate with each other online.
At an event in Beijing, Huawei executives showcased its “Agile IoT” architecture, including an operating system called LiteOS to control basic devices. This marks the firm’s most significant push into a sector that has lured heavyweights from Google Inc to Intel Corp and IBM into pushing their own standards and communication protocols.
Huawei executives touted Agile architecture as a free and open standard that would allow hardware designers to easily make connectable devices. Aside from its operating system, Huawei also showed off fully customizable wireless equipment that could be installed in business settings.
“Standardizing infrastructure will foster the development of Internet applications, including ‘IoT’ applications,” said Huawei’s chief strategy and marketing officer William Xu.
Huawei’s latest expansion comes at a time when consumer-oriented firms such as Xiaomi Inc and Apple Inc, anticipating an explosion of Internet-connected home appliances and consumer devices, have sought to build ecosystems around their popular handsets.
Last month, Tencent Holdings Ltd unveiled its own operating system for Internet-connected devices such as TVs and watches that is open to all developers, taking on domestic rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, JD.com Inc and Xiaomi Inc in the smart hardware space.
The Zenfone 2, which has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, starts at $199. It will began shipping on Tuesday with Google’s Android 5.0 mobile operating system.
A model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage goes for $299, while the $199 model has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The smartphone is shipping as an unlocked device, meaning it will work with multiple carriers.
It has an Intel 64-bit Atom Z3580 processor code-named Moorefield and a PowerVR G6430 graphics processor, which is capable of handling 1080p video rendering.
The Zenfone 2 has a 5-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as two SIM slots.
Asus wants to make a mark in the U.S, and with this smartphone it hopes to find an audience, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, during a press event in New York.
The ZenFone 2 is already shipping in 15 countries worldwide. For the U.S. market, Asus has tweaked the smartphone with some new features including a better LTE modem.
Other features include 802.11ac wireless and LTE-Advanced capabilities. The device supports carrier aggregation, and LTE data transfers can touch up to 250M bps (bits per second).
This is also a big product release for Intel. The Zenfone is the second smartphone in the U.S. that uses one of its chips. It’s also Intel’s first smartphone in the U.S. with the XMM 7260 LTE modem. An Intel chip is already being used on Asus’s Padfone X Mini, which is primarily a 4.5-inch smartphone that turns into a 7-inch tablet with an accessory.
Analyst at IDC have consulted their tarot cards and are predicting that tablets will survive in the business area.
The overall tablet market in Western Europe remained challenged in the first quarter of 2015, declining 10.5 percent on year with shipments totaling 8.5 million units. The contraction, was the result of consumers realising that tablets were a fad and had no actually use at all.
But IDC sees a feature for the technology in the commercial space with volumes increasing 51.3per cent from the same period in 2014. This is particularly in the area of 2-in-1s which are essentially a re-incarnation of netbooks with a touch screen.
In terms of product category, the share of 2-in-1s, albeit growing, remains in single-digit territory at 5.9 per cent. Nevertheless, the popularity of these devices continued to increase among consumers as well as enterprises, driving shipments up 44.4 per cent.
Chrystelle Labesque, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing said that the fact there were no major product launches, the beginning of 2015 failed to stimulate stronger consumer demand.
“Growth opportunity, however, clearly continues to come from enterprises and professional segments. Vendors have significantly expanded their product portfolio with devices optimized for business usage. Demand for 2-in-1 devices is gathering momentum driven by improved hardware offers as well as adjusted price points that are attracting private users as well as professionals,” she said,
Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing claimed that tablet usage for professional purposes was a reality.
“Deployment is no longer limited to a few early adopting countries or businesses. Adoption is far from being mainstream but we now see companies of all sizes choosing tablets and 2-in-1s to support their normal business activities.
The UK, France, Germany, and Northern Europe countries remain at the forefront of this trend as tablet adoption has become part of mobility and digital strategies in the private as much as public sector.
Windows 10 is likely to resolve most of the infrastructure legacy and integration problems that have so far hindered tablet and 2-in-1 adoption in some existing enterprises. The growth of the commercial segment is therefore expected to continue in the coming quarters, supporting overall market volumes in 2015 and beyond.”
Android devices account for the majority of the market thanks to the large number of vendors offering tablets running on this OS. The largest vendor, Samsung, under-performed the market in the consumer segment in the first quarter of 2015, but showed strong commercial results.
The rest of the market is represented by Windows devices, which posted strong double-digit growth for the third quarter in a row.
The war of words between Imagination and ARM is starting to become more colourful with the head of Imagination Technologies dubbing his rival a “big gorilla .”
Hossein Yassaie has accused ARM Holdings of exploiting its monopoly for chip designs that power the world’s electronic devices.
What is interesting is that both companies are British and both seem to be headed on a collision course.
Imagination moved into ARM’s heartland of producing central processing units (CPUs) for devices such as smartphones when it bought MIPS, of the United States, two years ago. It is better known for its PowerVR mobile graphics processors which are under the bonnet of the iPhones and MIPSembedded microprocessors.
But Hossein playing the monopoly card appears to be setting his company up as the little guy trying to take on a bigger rival.
Imagination Technologies announced the Warrior architecture in 2013 and was expected to push MIPS’ reach from embedded devices like routers and into smartphones and tablets. Nothing happened and Yassaie thinks it will take a big MIPS design win to get his outfit’s foot in the door.
He said that he had to keep such releases to himself because everytime Imagination makes an announcement ARM tends to focus on it.
Hossein has stated before that that ARM has managed to get where it is because it ran a monopoly but with MIPS it has that.
MIPS is getting traction, particularly from the likes of Google supporting 64-bit MIPS chips in Android L but it still has a long way to go.
ARM dominates the mobile SOC market, and Intel is fast becoming the second player in that market with its x86 designs like its Core M and Cherry Trail Atom. If anything Intel has more monopoly experience than ARM meaning that Imagination has to tackle an actual monopoly and someone who is used to establishing one.
What it will have to do is come up with a decent pricing strategy to kill off the rivals once and for all.
AT&T Inc is preparing to bring connected car users exclusive content such as videos and games that can be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year, AT&T’s senior vice president of emerging devices Chris Penrose said.
“It’s no different than being able to hook onto a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere and get access to content you already subscribe to and get unique content that you could only get in the back of the vehicle,” Penrose said.
AT&T has signed up eight automaker partners, including General Motors Co, Audi AG and Ford Motor Co, to hook up cars with Internet access. The goal is to offer free or paid content exclusively for connected car users and sell more data, Penrose said in a recent interview.
AT&T is talking to its auto industry partners and content companies to bring new content like “special” shows or gaming levels on phones and tablets in connected cars, Penrose said. This would be in addition to subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix that users can already stream on mobile devices.
Most Americans already own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning to connected cars and devices for growth. Besides being the essential pipes that deliver data, telecom players such as AT&T are looking to extract revenue from content.
GM has begun testing new content on its OnStar in-vehicle service best known for connecting drivers to live operators for directions or emergency help.
The subscription-based service, which also sells data to drivers, has special offers and some exclusive content on apps such as Famigo, an educational app for kids, and TumblebooksTV, a children’s digital books app. It also has retail partnerships with Dunkin’ Donuts and travel booking site Priceline.com for location-based deals.
AT&T is exploring business models that include revenue share for data, content and advertising with automakers, content and retail partners, Penrose said without sharing specific details.
AT&T is working with automakers to design a landing page or a portal for users to log in to access content, get vehicle service updates and buy data, he said.
The dumping of Apple shares by top hedge funds is continuing to gather speed and now even the Tame Apple Press is noticing.
Reuters took time out from its busy schedule of promoting Apple producst to report the surprise news that Top US hedge fund management firms, including Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors and Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management, continued to reduce or slash stakes altogether in Apple during the first quarter.
We say surprise news, but we had noticed it when it actually happened.
Coatue cut its holding of Apple by selling 1.2 million shares during the first three months of this year, but it remains the fund’s single biggest U.S. stock investment, with 7.7 million shares. Omega Advisors sold all of its 383,790 shares in Apple during the first quarter, while Rothschild Asset Management cut its stake by 107,953 to 938,693 shares, filings showed on Friday.
David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital also cut its exposure in Apple during the first quarter, slashing its stake by 1.2 million shares to 7.4 million shares.
Reuters cannot understand why the hedge funds are dumping their shares. Apple shares rose 12.7 percent in the first quarter and have continued to increase, it moaned.
But the reality is that if hedge funds listened to what fanboys wanted they would not be making the huge amounts of dosh they do. Objectively Apple’s markets have peaked, sales of Tablets have slumped, its iPhone market is stable but has no real momentum and above all it has yet to come up with a new idea.
Qualcomm is wedging its foot more firmly in the Internet of Things (IoT) door by announcing a range of moves to secure its position in the market.
The first announcement sees the firm expanding its Internet of Everything (IoE) platform with the addition of six new ecosystem providers: Ayla Networks, Exosite, Kii, Proximetry, Temboo and Xively by LogMeIn.
“This will further simplify the development of devices that use WiFi to connect to the IoE by increasing cloud service flexibility and making these solutions available in a broader global reach,” Qualcomm said.
Qualcomm has also introduced two connectivity solutions, the QCA401x and QCA4531, which bring WiFi capabilities to connect products across development platforms and “give customers an expedited and cost-effective path to deployment”.
The QCA401x is designed to ease manufacturer demand for increased computing and memory while lowering size, cost and power consumption, Qualcomm said.
It features a fully integrated micro controller unit with up to 800KB of on-chip memory and an expanded set of interfaces to directly interconnect with sensors, display and actuators, further reducing system cost, size and complexity.
The QCA401x also includes a suite of communication protocols including Wi-Fi, IPv6, and HTTP, as well as an advanced security feature designed to maximise security in IoT devices.
The QCA4531 is a low-cost turnkey solution that brings high-performance connectivity with a user-programmable Linux/OpenWRT environment.
It is designed to serve as an IoT node taking advantage of the Linux framework and as a hub to enable an IoT Ecosystem.
“As the [IoT] ecosystem expands, the QCA4531 is ideal for multi-protocol bridging and communication, bringing together multiple wireless medium and bridging between different ecosystems,” said Qualcomm.
The QCA4531 can function as an Access Point supporting up to 16 simultaneous devices, and is also power-optimised to enable appliances to meet international standards for energy efficiency.
The firm also banged on about the development of its subsidiaries Qualcomm Technologies, Qualcomm Atheros, Qualcomm Life, and Qualcomm Connected Experiences, and their progress across its range of IoT technologies.
Broadly, this includes an increased focus on providing better connectivity in the smart home with the AllSeen Alliance, as well as the development of more wearables in more countries, deploying more connected cars, more active engagements in smart city developments and partnering with more customers for connected healthcare.
“Driven by the significant growth and diversity of interconnected devices, Qualcomm companies are delivering the solutions and collaborating with technology leaders to empower manufacturers to create the best connected experiences in homes, businesses, cars and cities,” the firm said.
Qualcomm also announced additional features in its AllPlay smart media platform, including Bluetooth to WiFi re-streaming, custom audio settings and optimised synchronisation. The new AllPlay feature combines Bluetooth and WiFi for “whole home streaming”.
This means that all local or cloud-based music on a consumer’s smartphone can be streamed to any Bluetooth-compatible AllPlay speaker and then re-streamed over WiFi to multiple AllPlay speakers, all in sync.
This allows simple wireless connectivity to individual speakers or an entire home audio system over the user’s existing home WiFi network, providing an advantage over Bluetooth-only speakers which are limited to one-to-one streaming.
“The range and capacity of WiFi, coupled with the ubiquity of Bluetooth, is a game-changing combination for manufacturers and consumers alike,” said Sy Choudhury, senior director of product management at Qualcomm.
“AllPlay device manufacturers like Hitachi and Monster can now offer their customers more connectivity options and access to myriad streaming services throughout their home with this new capability.”
Qualcomm announced last month that it has teamed up with Dutch semiconductor maker NXP to bolster its near field communication offering, expanding the technology outside the smartphone and into IoT devices.
NXP’s embedded secure element will be integrated across Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800, 600, 400 and 200 processor-based platforms.
The new offering features a module variant derived from the recently launched NXP PN66T NQ220 module, now named the NQ220.
Struggling display manufacturer Sharp, reeling from cutthroat competition in mobile phones, will push car makers to incorporate vehicle dashboards that have gestural commands, thin bezels and other next-generation features.
It’s hoping cars will be controlled, in part, through high-resolution displays that can fit any two-dimensional surface area, such as dashboard panels with rounded contours.
The company has shown off the wavy screens for cars and consoles in recent months, and has tried to woo automakers to use them. Under the firm’s new medium-term strategy, the push has taken on greater urgency.
Thin-bezel dashboard LCDs, as well as screens that can provide multiple views to different passengers in a car depending on their perspective, could prove to be a lifeline for Sharp, which hasn’t been able to command a dominant market position despite cutting-edge technology.
Sharp is an Apple supplier and is said to be a maker of iPhone 6 screens, along with Japan Display, and LG Display of South Korea.
Apple sources some of its screens from Sharp’s Kameyama plants in central Japan, which produce the maker’s flagship IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) transparent crystalline semiconductor displays. IGZO displays, which Sharp began producing for smartphones in 2013, have smaller pixels than conventional LCD screens and feature low power consumption.
Last month, Sharp showed off a 5.5-inch display with 3860 x 2160 or 4K pixel resolution, which was part of a 12.5-inch IGZO panel. But there were no immediate plans for mass production.
Sharp’s ability to generate dazzling phone graphics hasn’t saved its bottom line. The firm announced a US$1.7 billion bailout from banks this week, its second lifeline in three years, and posted a dismal earnings performance for the year to March 31 with a net loss of ¥222.3 billion ($1.8 billion). It blamed declining prices in small and medium-sized LCDs.
In contrast, Sharp sees prices for automotive and industrial automation displays as more stable because the barriers to market entry are higher due to the technological know-how that’s required. Now it needs to play for time.
Qualcomm had an IoT event in San Francisco yesterday and the company wanted to talk a bit more about IoT, also known as Internet of Things. They started off with a catchy phrase – Internet of Hype to Internet of Everything.
Dave Aberle said that up to a billion dollars in revenue is coming from the non-mobile market. More than 10 pecent of Qualcomm revenue will come from the non-headset market. They call this market Internet of Everything, but we believe that not all of that market should be called IoT.
IoT is not just the wearable market; it is car modems, connected speakers, action cameras, some smart SanDisk storage solutions, home automation kit and more. Aberle mentioned that Qualcomm has 40 car design wins in the market with 15 different OEMs. We saw some names including Audi on the slide, but the list of obviously much longer.
Qualcomm is the leader in connected car and 4G LTE market, while Nvidia is the leader in Infotainment car systems, having some huge customers behind it, including the Volkswagen Group.
Qualcomm wants to expand its presence in IoT, including automotive solutions, and we expect more IoT designs from them in the near future.
The tags transmit data via Bluetooth Low Energy and can be worn as wristbands or location badges on lapels or breast pockets. They could be used by people including hospital patients and infrastructure workers to relay data to supervisors.
The tags can also be attached to objects such as shopping carts or walkers for the elderly. They’re part of a cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) platform from Fujitsu called Ubiquitousware that’s aimed at making IoT applications easier for businesses.
At a Fujitsu technology expo in Tokyo this week the company is showing off the prototype tags. They contain various sensors commonly found in smartphones such as accelerometers, barometers, gyroscopes and microphones. They can also house heart rate sensors and GPS modules.
The sensors are being housed in stand-alone tags to better promote IoT apps, according to Fujitsu.
Algorithms that are part of the platform analyze the sensor data and can automatically send alerts to supervisors when a patient has fallen down, for instance, or if a worker is experiencing a heavy physical load and heat while working on a tower for high-voltage cables.
“These sensors stand out for the many business apps such as medicine or security that are easily incorporated through our cloud solutions,” said Tatsuhiro Ohira, a general manager in Fujitsu’s Ubiquitous Business Strategy Unit.
As an extension of a company’s awareness of its staff, the tags could raise privacy concerns. Fujitsu said the wristbands could also be used to estimate whether the wearer is taking breaks, or to help manage workers’ health.
The sensors are to be rolled out beginning in December but the cost has not been determined yet, Ohira said.
It appears that MediaTek’s move to bring out an octa-core processor has disturbed the mighty Qualcomm.
When the MT6797 SoC came out, there was much mirth amongst MediaTek’s rivals but it turns out that Qualcomm has followed suit after all.
Qualcomm’s version is called the Snapdragon 818, which will probably be a deca-core CPU. Word on the street is that the chip will depend on four low-1.2GHz Cortex-A53 power cores, two middle-range 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores, plus four high-power cores of the 2.0GHz Cortex A72 type. It will supports LPDDR4 RAM and will run the Adreno 532 GPU.
This should mean that it can run LTE Cat-10 when that hits the shops. The chip will use 20nm process technology.
If the rumors are correct then it means that the 818 SoC will be slower than MedaTek’s new chip.
Qualcomm is yet to confirm the existence of this piece of silicone, so it is all just rumors. However if it is true, it does mean that MedaTek’s effort was a lot more important than many of its rivals admitted.