Microsoft Corp that it will hand over its display advertising business to AOL Inc and sell some map-generating technology to ride-hailing app company Uber, as it scales back on unprofitable operations.
The moves mean Microsoft will focus on its growing search advertising business based on its Bing search engine, and displaying maps on its Windows devices rather than generating the maps themselves.
Microsoft, which employs hundreds of people in its display ad business around the world, said those employees would be offered the chance to transfer to AOL and that it was not making any layoffs.
The world’s largest software company no longer breaks out results for its online operations, chiefly its MSN web portal and Bing, but they have lost more than $10 billion over the past five years. Chief Executive Satya Nadella has said Bing will turn a profit next fiscal year.
“Today’s news is evidence of Microsoft’s increased focus on our strengths: in this case, search and search advertising and building great content and consumer services,” saidMicrosoft in a statement.
Under a 10-year deal struck with AOL, now a unit of Verizon Communications Inc ,AOL will sell display ads on MSN, Outlook.com, Xbox, Skype and in some apps in major countries. As part of the deal, Bing will become the search engine behind web searches onAOL starting next year.
Microsoft also struck a multi-year extension to its existing deal with AppNexus, which provides the tech platform for buyers to purchase online ads.
Microsoft and Uber did not disclose financial terms of their deal, under which Uber will take over the part of Microsoft’s mapping unit that works on imagery acquisition and map data processing. Uber will offer jobs to the 100 or so Microsoft employees working in that area, according to a source familiar with the deal.
Behemoth smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to roll out more handsets running on its own Tizen operating system later this year, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.
Samsung will launch several Tizen smartphones at varying prices, the person said without disclosing other specifications.
The person declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
A spokeswoman for the South Korean firm declined to comment.
Samsung aims to build its own ecosystem through Tizen, which powers its smartwatches and premium television sets. But the firm needs more handsets running on the system to expand its user base and attract third-party developers, analysts say.
The company launched its first Tizen smartphone, the Z1, in India in January and has since been selling the device in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It has sold 1 million Z1s so far in India, the world’s third-biggest smartphone market.
The Z1 was the best-selling smartphone in Bangladesh in January-March, researcher Counterpoint said in a May report.
Samsung agreed to stop disabling Windows Update on its PCs and tablets, bowing to a chorus of complaints — including Microsoft’s — that it had interfered with the way users intended the patch service to work on their devices.
“We will be issuing a patch through the Samsung Software Update notification process to revert back to the recommended automatic Windows Update settings within a few days,” a Samsung spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon.
Samsung’s pledge put an apparent end to the week’s kerfuffle, which began when Patrick Barker, a crash-debugging and reverse-engineering expert, and a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), charged the Korean company with silently changing how Windows Update delivers bug fixes and security patches to customers.
Samsung’s own SW Update — a tool used to update its branded personal computers and tablets with new drivers and refresh third-party, pre-installed software — changed Windows Update’s settings to prevent it from automatically downloading and installing updates, the default setting that Microsoft recommends. Instead, SW Update switched the setting to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them.”
Microsoft didn’t care for that one bit. “We do not recommend disabling or modifying Windows Update in any way as this could expose a customer to increased security risks,” the company said Wednesday. “We are in contact with Samsung to address this issue.”
Samsung first said it was, like Microsoft, looking into Barker’s findings, but subsequently denied that it had blocked a Windows 8.1 update — a red herring, since that had never been alleged — and at the same time admitted it manipulated Windows Update.
By Friday, whatever conversations occurred between Microsoft and Samsung made the latter change its mind on messing with the former’s patch service. “Samsung has a commitment to security and we continue to value our partnership with Microsoft,” the Samsung statement read.
IBM and BOX have signed a global agreement to combine their strengths into a cloud powerhouse.
The star-crossed ones said in a joint statement: “The integration of IBM and Box technologies, combined with our global cloud capabilities and the ability to enrich content with analytics, will help unlock actionable insights for use across the enterprise.”
Box will bring its collaboration and productivity tools to the party, while IBM brings social, analytic, infrastructure and security services.
The move is described as a strategic alliance and will see the two companies jointly market products under a co-banner.
IBM will enable the use of Box APIs in enterprise apps and web services to make a whole new playground for developers.
The deal will see Box integrate IBM’s content management, including content capture, extraction, analytics, case management and governance. Also aboard will be Watson Analytics to study in depth the content being stored in Box.
Box will also be integrated into IBM Verse and IBM Connections to allow full integration for email and social.
IBM’s security and consulting services will be part of the deal, and the companies will work together to create mobile apps for industries under the IBM MobileFirst programme.
Finally, the APIs for Box will be enabled in Bluemix meaning that anyone working on rich apps in the cloud can make Box a part of their creation.
Box seems to be the Nick Clegg to IBM’s ham-faced posh-boy robot in this relationship, but is in fact bringing more than you’d think to the party with innovations delivered by its acquisition of 3D modelling company Verold.
What’s more, the results of these collaborations should allow another major player to join Microsoft and Google in the wars over productivity platforms.
It was announced today that Red Hat and Samsung are forming their own coalition to bring enterprise mobile out of the hands of the likes of IBM and Apple which already have a cool thing going on with MobileFirst.
Honeywell’s Process Solutions (HPS) division announced on Thursday that it is integrating Intel Security’s McAfee technologies with its Industrial Cyber Security Solutions (ICSS) so that thermostat customers are better secured against threats from malware targeting IoT devices that could make homes too hot to handle.
“The collaboration between Intel Security and HPS will combine the latest advances in cyber security technology with Honeywell’s unique industrial process domain knowledge to provide tailored security solutions for the industrial environment,” Honeywell said, stating that the move was a response to the recent growth in cyber attacks on industrial and critical infrastructure.
“Our collaboration with Intel Security will enable integrated, validated solutions for our industrial process customers to more rapidly deploy and better protect their investment,” said Jeff Zindel, global business leader for Honeywell’s ICSS group.
“This approach is critical to enable the productivity potential of Honeywell automation solutions and the Industrial Internet of Things.”
The deal means Honeywell will take on board Intel Security’s Application Whitelisting and Device Control with its own proprietary cyber security for its Experion Process Knowledge System. This is said to provide a stronger solution designed to increase security without sacrificing reliability.
Honeywell will also offer Intel Security’s Enterprise Security Manager and Next Generation Firewall to its customers as part of the partnership, with the products supporting Honeywell’s Industrial Cyber Security Risk Manager, which apparently provides a continuous evaluation of cyber security risks within industrial environments.
The main benefits of the integration include: protection from known and unknown malware threats against systems using Experion Process Knowledge System; protection for connected systems with no additional need for signature updates; and integrated management and analysis of cyber security risk using Honeywell Industrial Cyber Security Risk Manager.
The solutions are therefore designed to work without having access to the internet or any other network, Honeywell said.
The changes will apply to Yahoo search on the mobile web in the U.S., in browsers such as Safari and Chrome. Yahoo’s mobile app and desktop site already provide some additional content within results.
A search on the mobile web for Barack Obama, for instance, displays information about him from Wikipedia, such as his height and birth date, as well as links to news, images and YouTube videos. In one search Thursday, the videos included some curious choices, including “Barack Obama is Illuminati.”
Google already highlights a variety of content related to search queries, including news and related tweets, as well as links to other services like Maps. Microsoft’s Bing does something similar.
Because Yahoo is playing catch-up, the changes might not attract many new users, but they could help it retain people who use Yahoo for mobile searches today.
In the last quarter of 2014, mobile accounted for half of Yahoo’s search traffic in North America, up from 32 percent during the same period in 2013, according to research firm eMarketer.
Premium cable network HBO said it would make available the premiere episodes of two new comedy series on Facebook, underlining the growing popularity of the social networking site as a video platform.
The popularity of web videos have led to U.S. networks experiment with new platforms to attract new viewers. With about 1.44 billion monthly active users, Facebook has become a sough-after outlet for companies looking to market their products via online videos, the fastest growing category of Internet ads.
Last week, Amazon.com Inc released the pilot episode of its show “Catastrophe” for a limited time on the social media network, instead of its own Prime Instant Video streaming service.
HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc, said on Wednesday viewers would be able to access the premiere episodes of Dwayne Johnson-starrer “Ballers” and “The Brink” on Facebook for a limited period. The two new original series premiered this past Sunday.
Turner Broadcasting, another Time Warner network, said in April it granted exclusive video-on-demand rights to its Cartoon Network and Adult Swim programs to video streaming service Hulu.
On Tuesday Hulu said it would soon allow users to add CBS Corp’s TV network Showtime to their subscriptions.
The three apps are free for consumers, who may use them only for non-commercial purposes; in other words, not for work- or business-related tasks.
Microsoft kicked off previews last month, wrapping up the release of the suite’s apps for the OSes maintained by rivals Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). The gradual rollout began in March 2014 with the surprise debut of Office on the iPad less than two months after Satya Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO.
Previously, Microsoft released betas of Office for Windows 10 Mobile — the operating system that will launch before the end of this year for smartphones and smaller tablets — and for Windows 10 on desktops, 2-in-1s and larger tablets. Neither of those collections have been completed.
Microsoft’s change in tenor and pivot in strategy have been clearest over the last 17 months as it crafted and then released touch-based Office apps for every major operating system except Windows, turning a decades-long practice of protecting its own OS on its head.
As with the Office apps on other devices, Excel, PowerPoint and Word on Android can be used by consumers free of charge for basic tasks, including viewing, creating and editing documents. A Microsoft Account — the credentials used to access Microsoft’s services, such as Outlook.com and Skype — is required for all but viewing documents, and on larger Android devices, for everything but viewing and printing.
Business customers and anyone who wants to utilize advanced features, however, require a current Office 365 subscription.
Facebook Inc has begun allowing users without an account to sign up for its Messenger app with a phone number, the social media company said on Wednesday, in another move to broaden the app’s reach and make it a standalone platform.
Earlier this year, Facebook opened up Messenger to developers, and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to connect users directly with retailers, restaurants and other businesses.
With the latest update, users will be prompted by an option that says “Not on Facebook?” when they open the app. They can then sign up with their name, phone number and a photo.
The mobile messaging service, which has 600 million users, has added a number of new features in recent months, including games and video calling.
Facebook’s flagship social network has 1.4 billion users.
Google Play Music has offered a $9.99 per month subscription service for two years but Tuesday’s launch is the first free version of the streaming service. It is available online and will be available on Android and iOS by the end of the week, Elias Roman, Google product manager, said.
Apple said earlier this month it would launch a music streaming service on June 30 for $9.99 per month along with a $14.99 per month family plan, with a free three-month trial.
As with other streaming services, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, Google Play Music curates playlists. Users can tailor playlists based on genre, artist or even activity, such as hosting a pool party or “having fun at work.”
“We believe this is a play that will expose a lot of people to the service,” Roman said in an interview.
Unlike Google’s subscription music service, the free service will carry ads, be unavailable offline and exclude certain songs.
Roman said millions of people look at Google Play Music each month but are not ready to pay for a subscription. By offering a free version of the service, he said, the search engine hopes more people will be compelled to pay for an upgraded version.
Ted Cohen, managing partner of TAG Strategic, a digital entertainment consultancy, said the timing of Google’s launch was strategic.
“It’s a smart time to do it with all the attention around Apple,” Cohen said. “If they did it absent the Apple service, it wouldn’t be the same story.”
Google declined to say how many subscribers it has but said they more than doubled in 2014 from the previous year. But rivals Pandora, Spotify and Beats Music had far more mobile downloads than Google Play Music in 2014, according to data from analytics firm App Annie
You know a company has had a particularly miserable E3 when, before the show is even over, one senior executive finds himself having to officially deny that another senior executive has apologized for the state of their E3 offerings. That’s exactly the situation Reggie Fils-Aime found himself in earlier this week, as the disappointment at Nintendo’s extremely weak showing crystallized around a single tweet sent by company president Satoru Iwata. The tweet was in Japanese; various translations floated around, some more accurate than others, and the media gleefully seized on an interpretation which had Iwata promising to “do better” at E3 in future. It was the perfect stick with which to beat Nintendo for failing to live up to the standards accomplished by Microsoft and, even more spectacularly, by Sony on the previous day; look, even the company’s own president thinks it was rubbish!
As it happens, Fils-Aime is quite right; Iwata did not apologize for Nintendo’s conference. He said that the company was listening closely to feedback and would work hard, in future, to meet the expectations of even more people. This was prefaced with a comment related to the extremely late hour at which the show was broadcast in Japan (it didn’t start until 1am JST; the Sony conference the previous day was at a rather more comfortable 10am JST, and nobody in Japan really cares about the Microsoft conference). In context (and context is king in the Japanese language), Iwata’s comment is clearly a generic “thanks for your feedback, we’ll work hard in future too”, coupled with a tacit promise to try not to mess up the scheduling for Japanese viewers in future.
Iwata didn’t apologize. Of course he bloody didn’t; the Nintendo boss is often frank and refreshingly direct in his manner, but the content of his statements is always, always on-message. The idea that he was going to take to Twitter to say “sorry, that was a load of old bollocks wasn’t it?” after his company’s event is ludicrous. Yet, at the same time, the fact that it seemed plausible to so many people is a reflection of something troubling; Nintendo’s event was genuinely bad enough to make an apology from Iwata himself seem, if not realistic, then at least not ridiculous.
Nintendo, or at least a part of Nintendo – perhaps the Japanese part – didn’t want to be at E3. That’s partially related to NX; the company is the only platform holder which has acknowledged that it’s working on future hardware, but isn’t going to say anything further about it until 2016. It’s also too early to talk about its mobile titles (and E3 probably isn’t the venue for that anyway), and Iwata confirmed prior to the event that it wouldn’t talk about its health, lifestyle and education related projects at a purely gaming event like E3. Nonetheless, there’s plenty that Nintendo could have talked about but didn’t. The choice to reveal only games that are locked in for release within the next 10 months or so isn’t confirmation of a time-of-death being decided for Wii U (they did the same thing for 3DS, which has an installed base twice the size of the PS4 and isn’t going anywhere any time soon), it’s a decision which was taken, along with the decision to do an online broadcast rather than a live event – cutting out the whooping crowds and the spectacle that usually defines an E3 conference.
These are decisions which say, “we’re not playing your game” – the game in question being E3 itself. Nintendo doesn’t feel like it fits well with E3 right now. It’s not just troubled by the dismal sales of the Wii U, it’s also deeply uncomfortable with being the only major company in the industry that’s still seriously committed to family entertainment. It knows that no matter how wonderful its software and franchises are – and I maintain that Nintendo is in a genuine golden age regarding the quality of its games – they make problematic bedfellows for the mainstream of distinctly adult-focused games and the monetization of violent nostalgia for thirty-somethings. I think it’s genuinely wonderful that the games industry’s wings are spread so wide, even in the AAA space, that it can accommodate both the charming, gentle fun of Yoshi’s Wooly World and the gut-wrenching, visceral violence of the Doom reboot; at the same time, I can understand why the creators of the former don’t see much value in investing heavily in promoting it alongside the latter. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong audience. It’s no accident that one of the very few third-party games to appear in the Nintendo event was Skylanders, a hugely successful franchise that’s equally uncomfortable standing shoulder to shoulder with Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed.
By going digital rather than having a staged event, by replacing its executives with loveable puppets, by giving developers lengthy, meandering videos to chat about their creative process after showing off their new trailers, by refusing to talk about anything but the immediate future of its software line-up – by all these decisions and more, Nintendo said “we’re not playing the E3 game” and attempted to dodge the inevitably negative contrasts with Sony and Microsoft.
It didn’t work. It didn’t work because it’s an intrinsically dishonest approach, one which not only failed to establish a “Nintendo difference” that denied negative contrasts, but which also robbed the company of the chance to make a decent fist out of its showing. Nintendo hobbled its own event, making it even more disappointing than it needed to be, and all it achieved was to make itself look even weaker, even more troubled, next to the might of Sony and Microsoft.
Here’s what Nintendo should have done – should have had the courage to do – nothing. They should have held no digital event. Some of Nintendo of America’s activities, like the entertaining and light-hearted Nintendo World Championships, fit nicely with the week, but the digital event shouldn’t have happened at all. The company is absolutely correct to think that its approach and its products don’t fit E3 as it stands, but absolutely wrong to think that it can avoid the resulting negativity by just down-scaling its involvement. Pick a lane and stick with it; given the choice to go big or go home, Nintendo’s decision ought to have been “go home”, not “can’t we just go a bit small and hope for the best?”
This would not be unprecedented. Faced with a similar disconnect between their games and much of the rest of the industry’s direction, Nintendo – by far the largest games company in Japan – has spurned involvement in the Tokyo Game Show for many, many years. Being at TGS makes no sense for the company. It can achieve better exposure for its games in a more positive environment by holding its own event, digital or otherwise, at a different time; a month or two before the show, or after the show. This decision has never hurt Nintendo one jot – not in the way that a rubbish, half-hearted TGS conference every year would have.
Precisely the same logic applies to E3. Imagine if Nintendo had skipped E3 entirely; sure, there would have been a bit of hand-wringing and pearl-clutching in the media over it, but it would have been over soon, and a few people writing “Nintendo were conspicuous by their absence” in their show reports is hardly the end of the world. Then this week’s digital event could have been held as an ordinary digital event a month or six weeks later; call it “Nintendo’s preview of the next six months”, or whatever. In that context, it would actually have been a pretty great show. Tack on a few seconds of new footage from the upcoming open-world Zelda game and one of Miyamoto’s work-in-progress Gamepad titles, and you’d have a digital event that everyone would consider pretty strong, instead of an E3 show that everyone considered awful and weak.
To make this work, though, Nintendo needs to commit to the strategy. This year, it tried to have its cake and eat it; to participate in E3 without committing to it, without making a big deal of it. It failed so miserably that the Internet spent a few hours genuinely believing that Iwata had apologized for the whole sorry affair. Skipping E3 entirely – or at the very least, dropping all pretense of holding a conference during E3 week – would have been preferable, and ought to be the company’s strategy for the future.
SoftBank Robotics Corp., an international company based in Japan, put 1,000 personal robots, priced at $1,600, on sale last Saturday. Within one minute, they were sold out. Customers also must pay a $120 per month cloud connection fee and and monthly insurance of $80.
It was the first time that SoftBank had allowed people to put in orders for the robot, dubbed Pepper.
There has been high interest in the robot’s launch because its creators say Pepper not only can read and respond to human emotions but it will have its own emotions. According to SoftBank, the robot can autonomously generate emotions by processing information from its cameras and sensors.
SoftBank said more sales will be announced next month.
“With this emotion function, Pepper’s emotions are influenced by people’s facial expressions and words, as well as his surroundings, which in turn affects Pepper’s words and actions,” the company said in a statement. “For example, Pepper is at ease when he is around people he knows, happy when he is praised, and gets scared when the lights go down.”
The robot is designed to raise its voice or can sigh depending on its emotions at the moment. Pepper also will show its emotions – based on different colors and motions – on a chest display.
The robot also has an ecosystem of more than 200 apps.
Last week, SoftBank announced a deal to team deal to team with Foxconn Technology Group, an Apple manufacturer, and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to build and sell robots for the home and enterprise worldwide.
SoftBank will retain 60% of its company but for an investment of $118 million U.S. each, both Foxconn and Alibaba will receive 20 percent stakes in the robotics maker.
IDC had said two weeks ago that Apple will ship to retailers about 21 million Apple Watches in 2015. That’s in the mid-range of other analyst forecasts of 15 million to 30 million for the new device.
Then last week IDC said that all smartwatches and a small number of other smart wearables will total 33.1 million shipments in 2015, putting Apple Watch at 63% of that total. Smart wearables are defined by IDC as devices capable of running third party apps, such as Apple Watch and Android Wear watches like the Moto 360.
The IDC prediction comes amidst some other striking analyst forecasts for the Apple Watch, but also amid questions about the overall value of smartwatches.
Financial analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald recently declared the Apple Watch will “prove to be the best selling product in Apple’s history (within the first 12 months.)” Various estimates say it took one day of pre-orders to sell 1 million Apple Watches, while it took Apple 74 days to sell 1 million iPhones and 28 days to sell 1 million iPads.
Research firm Slice Intelligence told Reuters that about 2.8 million Apple Watches were sold through mid-June, nearly two months after the device first went on sale. Apple hasn’t reported how many Apple Watches it has sold and is not expected to separately report that number in the future. Slice gets its insights by mining e-mail receipts. The entry-level Apple Watch costs $349 and is the most popular in sales, Slice said.
About 20% of Apple Watch customers are also buying a spare watch band, with the entry-level sports band selling for $49, Slice noted.
The competition for video viewers opens up a new front in the clash between the two web giants that already compete in other types of advertising given their appeal to young and international consumers, Ampere Analysis said in a study.
London-based Ampere predicts a new advertising “arms race” between the two rivals, neck and neck in terms of audience sizes with around 1.4 billion to 1.3 billion monthly active users, respectively for Facebook and YouTube. That means consumers are likely to be forced to see more ads, but also enjoy a richer range of video programming as a result, it said.
The Internet will overtake TV advertising in 12 key markets, representing 28 percent of global ad spending by 2017, separate research by media-buying firm Zenith Optimedia said on Monday. Ad spending is projected to reach $531 billion this year.
Online video is now growing faster than any other digital category or subcategory, rising 33 percent in 2014, and is forecast to grow 29 percent a year through 2017, Zenith said.
The two reports were released as the week-long Cannes Lions international advertising conference opens this week.
Ampere Analysis argues that Facebook is morphing from a platform most advertisers use for building general brand awareness to one that can deliver “pre-roll” advertisements that marketing companies prefer for ensuring their messages are actually viewed.
Currently, YouTube remains a more flexible marketing platform, offering advertisers the full range of video ads which run before, during or after a video program is shown.
“If the social network’s own video ambitions are to be realized, and if it is to convince content owners it is a viable alternative to YouTube, it must deliver comparable returns,” Ampere Research Director Richard Broughton said.
Last week, researchers at NowSecure, a mobile security company, identified the flaw in SwiftKey, a keyboard application that comes preloaded on Galaxy smartphones. The flaw could be exploited even when SwiftKey was not used as the default keyboard, NowSecure said.
On Thursday, Samsung said it would issue a fix that wouldroll out over the coming days to owners of the Galaxy S4, released in 2013, and later models. Those devices have Samsung’s Knox security platform installed by default and can receive over-the-air security policy updates. Users must have automatic updates activated in their phone’s settings, Samsung said on its website.
For earlier Galaxy phones that don’t come with Knox, Samsung said it was working on an expedited firmware update. Availability will vary depending on the model, region and service carrier.
SwiftKey’s app, which predicts words as users type, is also available from the Google Play and Apple App stores. But those versions of the app were not affected by the vulnerability, a SwiftKey spokeswoman said last Thursday.