The Mozilla Foundation has confirmed details of its shift in strategy for Firefox OS which will see it abandon future phone development in favour of using the software as (yet another) IoT platform.
In an announcement to the developer community by John Bernard, director of collaboration for Connected Devices at Mozilla, and George Roter, head of core contributors, it was confirmed that Firefox OS for smartphones will be canned at version 2.6.
“The circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up, and the conditions were not there for Mozilla to win on commercial smartphones,” they said in a statement.
Meh. Could have told you that one two years ago.
In addition, the Firefox OS Marketplace will no longer accept submissions for Android, desktop and tablet apps. Apps for Firefox OS itself will remain accepted until sometime in 2017.
At the moment, the new emphasis on connected devices is in the internal testing phase with three products ‘past the first gate’ and more in the pipeline. It is expected that this process will be opened to outsiders before the end of the second quarter.
The foxfooding (think dogfooding, or insider programme) will continue, turning its focus to connected products, and by the end of March, Mozilla intends to identify how the existing Sony Z3 Compact devices used for testing so far will figure going forwards.
The statement continued “Obviously, these decisions are substantial. The main reason they are being made is to ensure we are focusing our energies and resources on bringing the power of the web to IoT. And let’s remember why we’re doing this: we’re entering this exciting, fragmented space to ensure users have choice through interoperable, open solutions, and for us to act as their advocates for data privacy and security.”
This seems to suggest that Mozilla wants to help the fragmentation issue by fragmenting it further. This is the ongoing problem with connected devices – everyone wants to be the one to end the fragmentation with their solution.
One of the solutions through the internal tests early doors is the Firefox Smart TV platform, an already fragmented market that should still be licking its wounds from the Matchstick debacle.
Roter adds, “Our push into the Connected Devices space will absolutely necessitate strong community support for our initiatives to be successful – and that means hacking on and testing new product innovations coming through the pipeline.”
According to several metrics sources, Edge’s share of the global Windows 10user base was significantly lower in January than was Internet Explorer’s (IE) share of all Windows users, signaling that Microsoft has not been able to maintain the historical — or even current — percentages of Windows customers on its newest browser.
Last month, Edge’s share of all Windows 10 users was 26% in U.S.-based analytics firm Net Applications’ estimate. That was a decrease of two percentage points from December, and 10 points lower than in September.
In comparison, Net Applications’ IE-only share of all Windows users was a much more substantial 48%, or nearly double that of Edge on Windows 10. In other words, almost half of all Windows users ran a version of IE last month, while just over one-fourth of Windows 10 users ran Edge.
Because Edge works only on Windows 10, and IE only on Windows, it’s relatively easy to calculate the percentages. That’s not the case with other browsers, including Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox, which run on multiple editions of Windows and on rival operating systems, such as Apple’s OS X.
Other measurement sources portrayed the same situation: Edge has not held up its side of the bargain for Microsoft.
Irish vendor StatCounter, for example, pegged January’s Edge global share of Windows 10 at 13%, while IE’s share of all Windows was a more substantial 19%.
A third source, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), tagged Edge’s share of Windows 10 for January at 24%, up one point from December. According to DAP, the IE-only share of all Windows traffic was 40%.
The kit from Seeed Studios ships with separate modules that can be pieced together to create a 2G phone with a 1.54-in. LCD screen. Icons on the display can be used to make phone calls or send text messages.
There’s more to RePhone than being a fun device. The kit also is a small development board to make wearable and IoT devices with cellular communication capabilities.
The $59 kit is now shipping, and comes with a small battery and modules for a SIM card — that’s how you connect to a carrier’s network — as well as speaker, GSM, NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy. It also ships with craft paper that can be the skin of the phone.
By October, the company hopes to upgrade RePhone Kit Create with a 4G communications module, said Wells Tu, marketing director at Seeed Studio in an e-mail.
Seeed Studio, which is in Shenzhen, China, received $276,865 from 3,399 backers on Kickstarter to make the RePhone Kit Create. More than 10,000 kits have been sold so far, Tu said.
The kit has spawned interesting wearable and IoT ideas, Tu said. One project involves a homegrown traceable dog tracker, with a RePhone kit in the collar tracking and calling dogs back home through voice commands.
Another idea floated in RePhone’s forums is a simple tracking device for things not expected to move, like a parked car. The goal with RePhone is to have a basic device to allow new IoT applications to be explored, Tu said.
Most IoT development boards today have only Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities. Wearable development boards like MIPS’ Creator Ci40 don’t have cellular capabilities.
The RePhone has two connectors so other modules for motion control and GPS can be attached. It has standard ports found on developer boards to attach cameras and other external devices.
Intel is looking at tunneling transistors and spintronics and slowly rejecting the need for speed.
According to the Intel’s William Holt, who leads the company’s technology and manufacturing group, Intel will soon have to start using fundamentally new technologies.
He named tunnelling transistors and spintronics as good candidates, but both would require changes in how chips are designed and manufactured, and would likely be used alongside silicon transistors.
Holt said that the technology will not offer speed benefits over silicon transistors and chips may stop getting faster. Instead the tech would improve the energy efficiency of chips, something important for many leading uses of computing today, such as cloud computing, mobile devices, and robotics.
Speaking at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco said: “We’re going to see major transitions… The new technology will be fundamentally different.”
Holt said that the status quo can only continue for two more generations, just four or five years, by which time silicon transistors will be only seven nanometres in size.
Tunnelling transistors are far from commercialization. They take advantage of quantum mechanical properties of electrons that harm the performance of conventional transistors and that have become more problematic as transistors have got smaller.
Spintronic devices could hit the market next year. They represent digital bits by switching between two different states encoded into a quantum mechanical property of particles such as electrons known as spin.
Spintronics will appear in some low-power memory chips in the next year or so, perhaps in high-powered graphics cards.
“Particularly as we look at the Internet of things, the focus will move from speed improvements to dramatic reductions in power. Power is a problem across the computing spectrum. The carbon footprint of data centres operated by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies is growing at an alarming rate. And the chips needed to connect many more household, commercial, and industrial objects from toasters to cars to the Internet will need to draw as little power as possible to be viable,” Holt said.
BlackBerry Ltd plans to cut 200 jobs at its hometown headquarters in Ontario and in Florida in order to trim costs, as the smartphone maker moves to turn around its fortunes and put more emphasis on its enterprise software business.
“As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce,” the company said in an emailed statement.
The company declined to comment on what percentage of its workforce is affected by the cuts. According to a filing, the company had 6,225 employees as of Feb. 28, 2015.
The layoffs will affect 75 manufacturing jobs in Sunrise, Florida, a state government website showed.
The company also confirmed that Gary Klassen is one of the people who has departed in the latest round of cuts. Klassen was one of its longest-tenured employees and the inventor of its BBM messaging service.
One source familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, said many of the Canadian cuts were people working on its BB10 handset software at its Waterloo, Ontario, headquarters.
A spokeswoman for BlackBerry declined to comment on which divisions will be affected by the cuts, but said the company stood by its commitment to release further updates on its BB10 software.
Last September, the company laid off roughly 200 staff, who had worked on the hardware and design of the BB10 devices. The company began releasing the BB10-based devices in January 2013, but despite positive reviews the smartphones failed to win back market share from Apple Inc’s iPhone, and the slew of Android-based devices that dominate the global market.
In a final attempt to revive its handset business BlackBerry released its first Android-based device in November. It has stated it plans to release at least one more Android-based phone this year.
BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has said he will make a decision on whether the company’s handset business is viable in the financial year beginning in late February.
Firefox OS for smartphones will be retired once Mozilla wraps up version 2.6, George Roter, who leads Mozilla’s Participation Lab, said in a long message posted to the company’s website.
Firefox OS 2.6 is currently slated for a May 30 release.
Nearly two months ago, Mozilla confirmed that it wascalling it quits on Firefox OS in its current incarnation, ending more than four years of work building a browser-based, smartphone operating system.
Instead, Mozilla said that it would use the resources freed up by the shuttering of Firefox OS on smartphones to pivot toward an operating system for connected devices, the category dubbed “Internet of things,” or IoT.
“The main reason [these decisions] are being made is to ensure we are focusing our energies and resources on bringing the power of the Web to IoT,” said Roter.
Roter was more direct in explaining the reasoning for turning off Firefox OS’s spigot than were Mozilla executives in December.
“The circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up, and the conditions were not there for Mozilla to win on commercial smartphones,” Roter acknowledged. “We have decided that in order to succeed in the new area of connected devices we must focus our energy completely on prototyping the future and exploring how we can make the biggest impact in IoT.”
Ari Jaaksi, the executive who runs Mozilla’s Connected Devices group, was just as candid. “We could not create a compelling and differentiating end-user value proposition and we failed to build the full ecosystem,” he wrote on a company blog, referring to Firefox OS for smartphones.
Along with the demise of Firefox OS, on March 29 Mozilla will stop accepting submissions to its app store for Web apps that run in Firefox on Android as well as the desktop- and tablet-centric versions of the browser. Apps for those platforms now in the store will be removed on that same day; in other words, Mozilla will kill the small app ecosystem it had struggled to create.
After March 29, only apps for Firefox OS on smartphones will be available on the store. Mozilla is also dead-ending the store’s payment support, meaning that developers will have to scramble to find another payment provider or make their paid apps free.
Intel has released its annual report for 2015-16 and it contains some surprising stats.
The company has always peppered its report with juicy numbers which give us a good snapshot of the state of all the things it controls, and this year is no exception. Looking at Intel’s figures also gives us a snapshot of what the industry looks like at a wider level.
Intel CIO Kim Stevenson said: “Looking ahead, I see extraordinary opportunities for IT leaders in every industry to contribute their unique point of view, in the back room and the boardroom. We invite you to take a look inside this report at how Intel IT is seizing new opportunities to meet ever-changing market demands around the world.”
Intel’s storage capacity jumped from 106PB in 2014 to 143PB in 2015, the equivalent of over nine billion MP3 files in the space of a year.
The average number of servers in Intel data centers went up to 144,040 from 84,379 last year. That’s a phenomenal jump reflecting the sheer number of projects on the go, or moving to the cloud. A recent survey by Suse found that 80 percent of respondents intend to move their business to the cloud.
Data analytics projects using an integrated analytics platform have saved Intel an estimated $170,000 a quarter. Another area of constant advance, the mass of data we create every day, is useless if it isn’t interpreted. Data analytics looks for patterns at a rate that humans couldn’t possibly hope to match to show ways to be more economical, productive and streamlined.
The rollout of Intel’s IoT program has progressed and engineers can now perform analyses that used to take four hours in just 30 seconds. This has increased modelling capability and is expected to save 160 hours every quarter and reduce spending by $160m by 2017.
The consequence is that inventory optimization, i.e. controlling the amount of stock in hand, is expected to save the company $37m across 2015-16.
Intel security systems have successfully blocked 225 million malware events, logged over 13 billion security events every day and applied 12.2 million system patches.
Cisco Systems Inc announced that it will acquire Technologies Inc, a startup that connects devices like cars and medical devices to the Internet, for $1.4 billion in cash and equity awards, its largest acquisition since 2013.
Legacy technology companies like Cisco have been trying to find paths for growth while new technology developments, such as the rise of cloud computing, threaten their core businesses. The emerging field dubbed Internet of Things, offers Cisco, known for networking equipment, a chance to offer cutting-edge technology to its current customers.
In addition to connecting devices to the Internet, Jasper makes a software platform that helps monitor these devices once they are online.
Rob Salvagno, Cisco’s vice president of corporate development, said in an interview that the Internet of Things has been a priority for Cisco for the past few years.
“We’ve been keeping an eye on this market and what we noticed was that Jasper represented a unique asset. We believe they are the largest Internet of Things service platform of scale today,” he said.
Connecting myriad objects to the Internet is in its infancy today, said Gaurav Garg, a Jasper board member and a partner at Wing Venture Capital who compared the potential of the technology to the early days of the electrical grid.
“Who thought we’d be plugging computers and all sorts of things into it?” he asked, assigning similar possibilities to the Internet of Things.
Cisco, which has acquired dozens of smaller companies over the years, is shifting its business toward high-end switches and routers and investing in new products such as data analytics software and cloud-based tools for data centers.
Jasper is the largest deal for Cisco since it acquired security company Sourcefire for $2.7 billion in 2013.
Jasper had been planning an initial public offering and had banks to help it prepare. Its investors, such as Singapore’s Temasek, Sequoia Capital and Benchmark Capital, will now get a chance to cash out without having to brave the rocky equity markets, which have seen no technology IPOs this year.
Jasper’s chief executive, Jahangir Mohammed, will stay on with Cisco and run a new Internet of Things Software Business unit once the deal closes in the third quarter.
A little more than two years after Evernote announced that it would offer a suite of branded products through its own online retail store, the productivity company is walking away from the business of selling products like socks, messenger bags and wallets.
As foreshadowed by a series of sales and app changes last year, the current incarnation of the Evernote Market — a hub for people to buy branded swag and connected tools for the popular note-taking software — will no longer exist as of today.
In its place will be a page that directs people to a handful of products made by partner companies that are tightly integrated with Evernote’s service and were previously sold through the Market. Users will still be able to buy the ScanSnap Evernote Edition scanner, Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition stylus and Evernote-branded Moleskine notebooks that are designed to work with the notetaking software.
The companies that make those items will be in charge of selling them and handling distribution, allowing Evernote to get out of the business of holding inventory and fulfilling orders. That means all of the Market’s non-integrated items, like business card holders and the company’s infamous socks, will be unavailable after after tonight.
In some ways, the Market experiment was a fairly successful one. 40% of people who purchased goods from the Market were subscribers to Evernote’s free tier, meaning that the company was able to monetize people who weren’t paying for the premium version of its service. In the first year of its existence, Market made a little more than $12 million, though it’s not clear how it continued to fare after that.
It’s a move that illustrates Evernote’s current strategy of winnowing down the products and services it’s providing to just focus on a core set of experiences that can make the startup money.
Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer announced cost-cutting measures that include slashing 15 percent of the company’s workforce, or roughly 1,600 jobs, and closing several business units, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
The plans were announced after Yahoo’s fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. It did not specify which business units might be closed.
A Yahoo spokeswoman said the company could not comment during its quiet period before releasing earnings.
Activist investors have pressed Yahoo to sell its core business rather than spin it off, even though a sale would likely incur more taxes.
It is unclear whether the plan Mayer is expected to announce would satisfy their demands, but cutting costs could make Yahoo more attractive to buyers.
Verizon has said it is interested in acquiring Yahoo if it were up for sale. Other potential buyers would include media and private equity firms, analysts said.
Yahoo had about 11,000 employees as of June 30, according to its website, down from a Dec. 31, 2014 total of about 12,500 full-time employees and what it called fixed term contractors.
Separately, a former Yahoo employee filed a lawsuit against the company Monday challenging its “quarterly performance review” process, on grounds it assigned numerical ratings to workers that in some cases were used to fire those at the bottom of the scale.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, California, said the plaintiff was terminated in 2014, despite being previously praised, as a result of the QPR process.
The filing said Yahoo’s use of the QPR process to terminate large numbers of employees violates federal and California laws that require employers to disclose mass layoffs above a certain threshold.
Samsung is rolling out a rental phone service which will replace a phone that is been used for a year with the latest model.
The system is similar to the rental model which was introduced by Apple in September of last year. Samsung will bring the service out in March in South Korea but it is also in talks with Bright Star, which is a business that specializes in distribution of mobile in the US so it is pretty likely to be tried over the pond too. We have not heard about it talking to any EU distributor but it is also fairly likely.
Under the deal you replace your old phone with a new phone every year if you make a two year contract and pa a year worth of instalments. The company then makes a bit of dosh flogging the used phones.
The first phone to be rented will be the Galaxy S7 that happens to be being released in March. It will also have a higher resale value as a used model.
Officially Samsung is saying nothing as the Galaxy S7 is not even in the shops yet.
Mobile telecommunication businesses such as SK Telecom, LG Uplus and others are also preparing to release similar services. This is not the first time they have had a crack at programs likes this there were operations like Zero Club, Free Club and others in the past which operated in a similar way. It should make the introduction of the rental phone service using Apple’s model a doddle.
If it takes off it could be a change in distribution model for phones. As mobile markets are saturated and as subsidies for mobiles disappear, rental phones are seen as an alternatives that will create new demand. Much of the success however depends on the resale value of the older phones.
In a sweeping change of course directed at a tightly controlled television industry, cable and satellite operators in the United States will now be obligated to let their customers freely choose which set-top boxes they can use, according to a proposal announced by the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday.
The move is expected to have wide-ranging implications for large technology companies looking to get their brand names into every consumer’s living room. For example, under the new rules, Google, Amazon and Apple would now be allowed to create entertainment room devices that blend Internet and cable programming in a way the television industry has until now resisted. Next-generation media players, including the Chromecast, Fire TV and Apple TV, would now be granted permission to line the backs of their devices with coaxial inputs and internal “smart access card” equivalents integrated right into device firmware with a simple subscription activation process.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut investigated the cable set-top box market last summer and found that the cable industry generates roughly $19.1 billion in annual revenue from cable box rentals alone.
Meanwhile, the cost of cable set-top boxes has risen 185 percent since 1995, while the cost of PCs, televisions and smartphones has dropped by 90 percent. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler admits that these economies of scale don’t need to remain so unbalanced any longer.
The FCC says its focus will be primarily on improving day-to-day television experience. In the past, the burdensome requirements of long-term contracts tethered to clunky, unsightly cable and satellite boxes has been a major source of customer complaints.
Wheeler has also said that access to specific video content shouldn’t be frustrating to the average consumer in an age where we are constantly surrounded by a breadth of information to sift through. “Improved search functions [can] lead consumers to a variety of video content that is buried behind guides or available on video services you can’t access with your set-top box today,” Wheeler says.
The FCC is expected to vote on the proposal on Thursday, February 18th. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s full statement on the commission’s new proposal can be found here.
The application, called Smart Notice, is a kind of multifunctional widget, managing contacts, notifications, and weather and traffic alerts.
Once the code was on the phone, any information stored on its SD card, such as private images and chat logs, could be stolen.
“The root cause for the security problem is the fact that Smart Notice does not validate the data presented to the users,” BugSec and Cynet wrote in a blog post on Thursday.
The researchers found a variety of ways to trigger their malicious code and carry out actions, such as opening a phishing site that tries to steal a person’s Gmail credentials or prompt a person to download a remote access trojan.
“With a little tweak, we were able to load external scripts from a remote host and ‘refresh’ our code every few seconds, giving us the ability to have active command and control over the LG phone and send new payloads,” the companies wrote.
It was also possible to conduct a denial-of-service attack that could only be stopped by doing a hard reset of the phone, they wrote.
This month, market research firm IHS predicted that Apple would introduce some form of wireless charging on the iPhone 7 expected to arrive in September; that move seems more likely given that Apple introduced an inductive, proprietary charging solution in 2015 on the Apple Watch.
Adding fuel to the wireless charging fire, Bloomberg has reported that Apple is working with partners in the U.S. and Asia to develop new wireless charging technology that could be deployed on its mobile devices in 2017.
“We still expect [wireless charging with the iPhone 7], but this latest rumor suggests a longer term look at much greater spatial freedom — claiming to take away the charging pad altogether,” David Green, a research manager at IHS Technology, said.
Two years ago, the Windows Phone 8-based Lumia 920 smartphone introduced wireless charging. Then Samsung launched dual-mode wireless charging on its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones. Now, the focus is on Apple to see whether it will also add wireless charging to the iPhone, Green said.
Wireless charging is proving to be very popular with those who have used it, and the market tripled in size last year compared to 2014, with more than 160 million wireless charging receivers shipped across all markets.
The three major wireless charging industry groups have adopted a form of resonant wireless charging, which allows a more “loosely coupled” approach where handsets can be several centimeters away from a charger or placed at any angle on a charging pad.
For example, AirFuel Alliance’s Rezence-specification, which allows charging from across several centimeters, includes the ability to use a charging bowl or charging through a desktop.
There’s also uncoupled charging technology, where powering up devices through Wi-Fi, for example, sends low levels of power (typically less than 1 watt) across a room.
Ossia, Energous and uBeam all demonstrated uncoupled charging technology at CES earlier this month.
Slapdash developers have been advised not to use the open source JSPatch method of updating their wares because it is as vulnerable as a soft boiled egg, for various reasons.
It’s FireEye that is giving JSPatch the stink eye and providing the warning that it has rendered over 1,000 applications open to copy and paste theft of photos and other information. And it doesn’t end there.
FireEye’s report said that Remote Hot Patching may sound like a good idea at the time, but it really isn’t. It is so widely used that is has opened up a 1,220-wide iOS application hole in Apple users’ security. A better option, according to the security firm, is to stick with the Apple method, which should provide adequate and timely protection.
“Within the realm of Apple-provided technologies, the way to remediate this situation is to rebuild the application with updated code to fix the bug and submit the newly built app to the App Store for approval,” said FireEye.
“While the review process for updated apps often takes less time than the initial submission review, the process can still be time-consuming and unpredictable, and can cause loss of business if app fixes are not delivered in a timely and controlled manner.
Let’s not all make this JSPatch’s problem, because presumably it’s developers who are lacking.
FireEye spoke up for the open source security gear while looking down its nose at hackers. “JSPatch is a boon to iOS developers. In the right hands, it can be used to quickly and effectively deploy patches and code updates. But in a non-utopian world like ours, we need to assume that bad actors will leverage this technology for unintended purposes,” the firm said.