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Researchers Create Battery-Free Mobile Phone

August 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Researchers have emerged from their smoke-filled labs with a prototype of a battery-free mobile phone.

The phone is the work of a group of researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and works by harvesting tiny amounts of power from radio signals, known as radio frequency or ‘RF’ waves.

Team member Vamsi Talla told Reuters that ambient RF waves are all around us so, as an example, your FM station broadcasts radio waves,TV stations, mobile phone towers. They all are transmitting RF waves.

The phone is a first prototype and its operation is basic – at first glance it looks little more than a circuit board with a few parts attached and the caller must wear headphones and press a button to switch between talking and listening.

But the boffins say there are plans to develop further prototypes, featuring a low-power screen for texting and even a basic camera. They also plan a version of the battery-free phone that uses a tiny solar cell to provide power.

The researchers plan to release a product in eight to nine months’ time, thought they would not give further details. One team member however, was prepared to give a glimpse of how their work will impact the future of cellphone technology.

“In the future every smartphone will come with a battery-free mode where you can at least make a voice call when your battery’s dead.”

Meanwhile Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Surrey in Britain, are developing supercapacitors, which they believe will eventually allow devices to charge in a period of a few minutes.

Courtesy-Fud

Bitcoin Keeps Soaring, Surpasses $4000 Threshold

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Bitcoin has passed another major milestone, easily reaching beyond the $4,000 threshold on Sunday. The cryptocurrency, which has only been in existence for seven years, reached a high of $4,224 (equivalent to £3,244 or AU$5,343) shortly after 9 a.m. UTC on Sunday.

It’s been a swift rise for bitcoin, which only passed the $3,000 marker for the first time at the start of the month. The rise also comes fresh off the heels of the so-called “hard fork” in bitcoin which saw a new virtual currency called Bitcoin Cash split off from bitcoin proper on August 1.

The split was designed to deal with the growing popularity of bitcoin, which was struggling to support an increasing number of transactions using existing blockchain technology, though the move left many wondering whether market values would fall.

But bitcoin seems to have defied expectations, pushing through the $4,000 barrier with ease, though there’s no certainty on where values are headed — particularly as we push closer toward the day when every bitcoin is mined.

Still, this is for sure: Purchasing 1 bitcoin for 8 cents back in 2010 would have netted you a 52,800-fold return today.

Amazon Issues Recall For Solar Eclipse Glasses

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon has issued a recall to consumers who purchased eclipse glasses that may not have come from a recommended manufacturer.

The internet retailer began notifying buyers of the unverified glasses on Saturday, warning them not to use the product for viewing the much-anticipated total solar eclipse later this month. Customers who didn’t receive a recall email are safe to use the ones they purchased.

“We recommend that you DO NOT use this product to view the sun or the eclipse,” the email said.

Sales of eclipse glasses have been hot ahead of the Aug. 21 event, when the moon will pass in front of the sun, completely blotting it out for those along a 70-mile-wide corridor stretching across the contiguous United States.

Amazon said it issued the recall over concerns with the quality of the glasses.

“Safety is among our highest priorities. Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively reached out to customers and provided refunds for eclipse glasses that may not comply with industry standards,” Amazon said in a statement. ” We want customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon.com and eclipse glasses sold on Amazon.com are required to comply with the relevant ISO standard.”

The American Astronomical Society has information on how to make sure you are purchasing effective glasses for viewing the solar eclipse.

IBM Improves Deep Learning

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Big Blue Boffins claim to have developed technology that dramatically cuts the time it takes to crunch massive amounts of data and then come up with useful insights.

If it is all true then it could mean that deep learning, the technique used by IBM, is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that mimics how the human brain works could be set to take off.

IBM wanted to reduce the time it takes for deep learning systems to digest data from days to hours.

The improvements could help radiologists get faster, more accurate reads of anomalies and masses on medical images,.

Hillery Hunter, an IBM Fellow and director of systems acceleration and memory at IBM Research, said that, until now, deep learning has largely run on single server because of the complexity of moving huge amounts of data between different computers.

The problem is in keeping data synchronized between lots of different servers and processors

In its announcement IBM says it has come up with software that can divide those tasks among 64 servers running up to 256 processors total, and still reap huge benefits in speed. The company is making that technology available to customers using IBM Power System servers and to other techies who want to test it.

IBM used 64 of its own Power 8 servers—each of which links IBM Power microprocessors with Nvidia graphical processors with a fast NVLink interconnection to facilitate fast data flow between the two types of chips..

It developed clustering technology that manages the multiple processors in a given server as well as to the processors in the other 63 servers. If that traffic management is done incorrectly, some processors sit idle, waiting for something to do.

Each processor has its own data set that it knows, also needs data from the other processors to get the bigger picture. If the processors get out of sync they can’t learn anything, explained Hunter.

Courtesy-Fud

Will The U.S. ITC Really Investigate Apple

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The International Trade Commission has announced that it will launch an investigation into Apple following allegations from Qualcomm that its devices violate six of its patents.

The move, arguably procedural, means that the ITC will formally investigate Qualcomm’s complaint, rather than dismiss it outright.

“The US International Trade Commission has voted to institute an investigation of certain mobile electronic devices and radio frequency and processing components thereof,” the ITC said.

“The products at issue in the investigation are mobile electronic devices – such as the iPhone 7, and specific components for such

Qualcomm’s complaint alleges that iPhones, which are made in China, should not be allowed to be brought into the United States if they infringe on its patents, and if the chipmaker has its way, the ITC would ban imports and sales of Apple’s handsets.

At the heart of the matter is Apple’s use of cellular baseband processors made by Intel, with Qualcomm arguing that iPhones Intel’s 4G wireless chips are effectively using six Qualcomm patents “unfairly” and “unlawfully”.

Unsurprisingly, Qualcomm said it is “pleased” with the ITC’s decision to investigate Apple.

“Qualcomm is pleased with the ITC’s decision to investigate Apple’s unfair trade practices and the unauthorized importation of products using Qualcomm’s patents,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm.

“We look forward to the ITC’s expeditious investigation of Apple’s ongoing infringement of our intellectual property and the accelerated relief that the Commission can provide.'”

Apple, when asked for comment, pointed to this prior statement from June: “Qualcomm’s illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry.

“They supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products – effectively taxing Apple’s innovation.”

Last month, Intel filed its own statement with the ITC, claiming that Qualcomm’s request for the regulatory agency to intervene was “a transparent effort to stave off lawful competition from Qualcomm’s only remaining rival.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Intel Gives More Details On Its Core X Processors

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has announced the availability of its Core X-series processor family, which will compete with AMD’s Threadripper high-end desktop (HEDT) CPUs.

The devices, which will be marketed as Core i5, Core i7 and Core i9 models, have a higher than usual TDP, enabling Intel to boost their base clock speed. They also offer what Intel calls Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, pushing clock speeds on at least one of the multiple cores to 4.5GHz, in the case of the $999 Core i9-7900X.  

That 10-core, 10-thread device, will compete against AMD’s top-of-the-range Threadripper 1950X, which boasts 16-cores and 32-threads for the same price, which AMD has released this month.

The first of the new microprocessors out of the traps will be the 12-core, 24-thread Core i9-7920X, available from 28 August, with the 14-core Core i9-7940X and the top-of-the-range 18-core, 36-thread Core i9-7980XE available from 25 September.

The four and ten core microprocessors – the Core i5-7640X, the Core i7-7740X and the Core i9-7900X – are already available.

The parts were announced at Computex 2017 in Taiwan this year, at the same time that AMD unveiled its Threadripper HEDT microprocessor line – trumping Intel in terms raw features, pound for pound (or should that be dollar for dollar?).

For example, if you want four-channel DDR4 memory combined with 44 PCIe lanes for fast bandwidth and storage, you’ll have to pay out at least $999. For the same price, AMD’s Threadripper parts offer 64 PCIe lanes and a level 3 cache of 32MB on the Threadripper 1920X and 1950X – with the promise of more parts on the way.

The arrival of a genuinely competitive microprocessor architecture from AMD has suddenly forced Intel not only to up its game, but also to offer customers more microprocessor power for their money.

Unlike previous resurgences in AMD, though, the company’s fab-less status means that, potentially, it could scale up production to far greater levels, far more quickly, than it has done in the past via deals with Samsung and TSMC – not just Globalfoundries, the fab AMD floated off just under 10 years ago.

Courtesy-TheInq

Microsoft’s Surface Tablets Not So Reliable, Says Consumer Reports

August 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The breakage rate for Microsoft Corp’s Surface devices significantly outpaces that of other manufacturers’ laptops and tablets, Consumer Reports said, adding that it was removing its “recommended” designation for Surface products.

The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday.

“If you are very concerned about how long your products are going to last, it might be better for you to go with a brand that has a higher predicted reliability,” Jerry Beilinson, electronics editor at the consumer goods testing publication, said in an interview.

Microsoft disputed the study, saying the company’s return and support rates differ significantly from the Consumer Reports study.

“We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation,” the company said in a statement.

According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said.

Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said.

Microsoft entered the hardware market with its first Surface tablet in 2012. Since then, the company has released a series of new Surface tablets and laptops, including the well-reviewed Surface Pro, which launched in May.

The Surface devices serve as a face for the company and exemplify how Microsoft’s manufacturing partners can build hardware around the Windows 10 operating system. However, Surface is a small part of Microsoft’s overall revenue, and Surface revenue has declined year-over-year for the past two quarters.

Will Desktop Computers Grow Next Quarter?

August 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

While desktop demand was rubbish in the first half of 2017, it expected to start growing in the third quarter driven by new products from AMD and Intel for the gaming and high-end desktop markets.

Digitimes researchers, talking to suppliers, said that AMD and Intel will kick off a surge in buying. AMD’s new top-end 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and 12-core 1920X will hit the shops on August 10, while its 8-core 1900X is scheduled to be released at the end of August.

Several vendors have already begun accepting pre-orders for desktop models using AMD’s latest top-end CPU processors since the end of July, including the Alienware Area-51 Threadripper from Dell.

AMD recently announced its new Vega-based GPUs including the Radeon RX Vega 64, using liquid or air cooling modules, and Radeon RX Vega’s prices start from US$399. AMD offers free games and discounts on hardware including Samsung’s CF791 monitor as well as price-cuts on CPU/motherboard bundles to help consumers save up to US$300.

Intel is releasing its next-generation 14nm Coffee Lake processors in the near future and will initially launch products such as the Core i7 8700K. Coffee Lake will also force users to buy a nice new motherboard.

AMD and Intel are also seeing growing sales in the server segment. AMD’s EPYC 7000 series processors were unveiled at the end of June. Although the processor series currently only accounts for less than one percent of the server market, orders for related server makers have been picking up recently and are expected to stay strong in the second half of 2017 with players including Microsoft, Baidu, Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Supermicro, Inventec, Wistron, Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology and Tyan eagerly promoting their systems.

Intel debuted its Purley server platform in July which is seeing strong orders from enterprises looking to replace their existing server systems. Some market watchers believe the replacement trend will last for a whole year and shore up Intel’s profitability and revenues.

Courtesy-Fud

Hotspot Shield VPN Provider Accused Of Privacy Violations

August 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The free virtual private networking service Hotspot Shield has been accused of violating its own privacy rules by the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a nonprofit advocacy group for consumer privacy rights.

In a 14-page filing, the CDT has requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate Hotspot for engaging in “unfair and deceptive trade practices” by interfering with web traffic and redirecting it to partner websites like advertising companies.

One reason that consumers sign up for VPN services like Hotspot is to shield their browsing habits from internet service providers and other online entities that broker user data, or to access services that ISPs — or host nations — otherwise block. But the VPN effectively has access to the same data that it’s shielding from the outside web.

As noted in the filing, Hotspot Shield CEO David Gorodyansky previously stated to the Huffington Post that the company’s policy was to “never log or store user data.”

Hotspot Shield could not be reached for comment. However, Gorodyansky told ZDNet that CDT’s allegations were “unfounded,” and that Hotspot “protect[s] user personally identifiable information from both third parties and from ourselves.”

Google’s Chrome Exploring Strengthen Of Ad-blocking In Browser

August 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has included a built-in ad blocker to earlier version of Chrome, signaling that it will assume responsibility for barring some online ads in the polished product as early as October.

The ad blocker appeared in some users’ copies of the “Canary” build of Chrome last week; Canary is the name Google gives to the preliminary version of the browser, one that is updated nightly and precedes the three-step release process of “Dev,” “Beta” and finally “Stable” code.

Chrome’s ad blocker was present only in Windows’ Canary build; it was AWOL from the macOS edition.

Reports of Google’s ad-blocking plans first surfaced in April, shortly after the Coalition for Better Ads announced a set of online ad types that users in the U.S. and Europe said were the most annoying and disruptive. Google was a founding member of the coalition. Two months ago, Google confirmed that it would introduce ad blocking to Chrome, saying then that the target timetable was next year.

“We plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018,” Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, a product management executive, wrote in the Google post.

On the desktop, Chrome will block pop-up advertisements; ads that automatically begin playing both video and audio; “prestitial” ads accompanied by a countdown clock that appear before content is shown; and what the coalition dubbed “large sticky ads,” those that account for more than 30% of the screen space and which remain in place no matter how much the user scrolls.

Those and other types of ads will also be blocked by Chrome on Android- and iOS-powered mobile devices.

Ads will be blocked by site, not by individual advertisement. In other words, Google will craft a list of websites it contends “tend to show intrusive ads,” and then block the ad categories that violate the coalition’s “standards.” A stray “bad” ad displayed by a site not on the list, however, will not be blocked.

While Google has pegged 2018 as the launch of the baked-in ad blocker, the tool may debut sooner. The current Canary of Chrome is version 62, which according to the release schedule, will release in final form as the Stable build on Oct. 17 for personal computers, Oct. 24 for mobile.

Does Intel’s Coffee Lake Need A New Motherboard

August 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

ASRock tweeted from its official account that Intel’s forthcoming Coffee Lake processors will not work with existing 200-series motherboards.

Toms Hardware  has confirmed that the tweet was true and it wasn’t just a Donald Trump-like exec on the Twitter account.

This means that if you want Intel’s Coffee Lake you will have to shell out for a new motherboard too and probably a new cooler.  

Intel’s forthcoming Coffee Lake processors are built on the 14nm++ process and this will be the third revision of Intel’s 14nm process technology. It will allow more cores to bear and six-core mainstream models.

Intel showed off Coffee Lake chips in a laptop earlier this year at Computex, Chipzilla claims to have 30 percent more performance over the seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors.

 It will be Intel’s attempt to fend off AMD’s Ryzen competition a task which might be a bit trickier. After all you will have to scrap most of your PC for what should be a minor upgrade. 

AMD remains committed to Socket AM4 for all processors until 2020. That equates to easier and cheaper upgrades in the future which means Chipzilla will be looking less viable against AMD. Of course there will be legions of comments below disagreeing.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Google Really A Racist Company

August 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A senior software engineer at Google has opened a can of worms by calling for the company to abandon it diversity initiatives in favor of “ideological diversity,”

In a document titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” the 10 page rant argues that the gender gaps at Google are the result of biological differences between men and women, and that the company shouldn’t offer programs that help under-represented groups.

The author also alleged that politically conservative employees are discriminated against, and that achieving “ideological equality” should be a priority. He feels that conservative political feelings should be a protected class because they are not looked after by anti-discrimination laws like race, religion, age, sex, citizenship, familial status, or one’s disability, or veteran status are.

Numerous Google employees voiced their outrage over the existence of the document, and indicated that the author’s management chain and HR have been made aware of it.

“I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes.” The author goes on to speak to perceived biases within Google, and how that is detrimental to the company.

Basically after starting out by saying “I am not a misogynist or racist” the writer then goes into a rant about how inferior women are and then says white men are vulnerable. The writer thought that women were unsuited for tech because they like people, whilst men like things.

However what is more alarming, is that while the document is angering women and minorities working at Google there is a small vocal section of the company, lets call them white backward males who think that women should be at home and in the kitchen rather than programming who agree.

This has put Google’s new VP of Diversity, Danielle Brown, on the spot. She has sent a memo to Google employees, saying that she “found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender,” and that it’s not a “viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.”

She went on to write that a diverse workplace is a central part of the company’s culture.

Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul, she wrote.

Courtesy-Fud

Online ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Comes To Britain

August 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Citizens in Britain will be able to make social media platforms like Facebook  delete information, including content published in their childhood, under government proposals that will bring data laws into line with new European regulations.

Individuals will have more control over their data by having “the right to be forgotten” and ask for their personal data to be erased in the measures announced by Digital Minister Matt Hancock on Monday.

Companies will also have to ask people for permission to collect personal data rather than rely on pre-selected tick boxes, which are largely ignored, he said.

The new rules will bring British law into line with the European Union’s general data protection regulation (GDPR), which tightens and extends the scope of data protection law.

The GDPR becomes enforceable from May 2018.

Lawyers and tech industry experts have said Britain will have to continue complying with GDPR after Britain leaves the European Union in 2019 to avoid disruption to the data traffic that is essential to international business.

Hancock said the rules would give Britain one of the most robust, yet dynamic, set of data laws in the world.

“It will give people more control over their data, require more consent for its use and prepare Britain for Brexit,” he said.

The data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), will be given the power to issue higher fines, of up to 17 million pounds ($22.2 million) or 4 per cent of global turnover, in cases of very serious data breaches, he said.

Is Zynga Making A Comeback

August 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Quick, somebody pop the cork on that champagne bottle! After a grueling year with a $108 million loss, Zynga is now profitable in its second quarter of the 2017 fiscal year, with $5.1m in net income. The company started its fiscal year off on the right foot with a significantly narrowed loss in Q1, and at the time CEO Frank Gibeau promised us that profitability is around the corner.

In a phone call with GamesIndustry.biz earlier today, Gibeau explained, “Q2 we beat on the top and the bottom. We posted our best revenue and bookings performance in four years. We saw some of the things that we’ve been investing in really take hold, like CSR and our mobile momentum. In mobile, we’ve really been focusing in on live ops, and in trying to drive higher quality experiences there and we saw a big lift in our audience and in our revenue there. Our audience was up 28% y-o-y, which is pretty awesome. Our in-app purchase revenues were up 33% y-o-y. 90% of our audience now is on mobile, which if you think of just a few years ago how much Zynga was ‘The Facebook Company,’ now that…is quite a sea change for the company.”

Total revenues for Zynga were up 15% to $209.2m and bookings came to the same total, representing a 20% jump. Furthermore, the company’s operating cash flow came to $37.8m, which was its best quarterly performance in five years. Importantly, Zynga’s mobile transition is nearly complete. Not only is 90% of the audience there, but the company saw 86% of revenues and 87% of bookings come from mobile. Its mobile base now stands at 19m average daily active users, which is up 28% year-over-year and represents the strongest year-over-year growth since Q4 2014. Apart from its Social Slots offering, the big driver for Zynga in Q2 was racing sequel CSR2.

“CSR was strong,” Gibeau said. “We had really good partnerships with Fast and The Furious, and with Universal. We did some cool stuff with Lamborghini. As you know, I’ve been working on racing games a lot in my career. It’s a lot of fun to have such a high quality experience to play around with. Its mobile revenue was up 14% quarter-over-quarter, and up 18% on bookings level. The audience was up almost 10% and it’s the number one racing game in the App Store. And we’ve had over 1.1 million five-star reviews.

“So CSR, and our mobile momentum, it’s resulting in this portfolio which is the strongest mobile portfolio the company has ever had. You’ve got Poker, Words with Friends, CSR, our Casino products, and in addition to that our Match 3 business is coming on and we’ve still got a lot of growth in front of us, particularly in places like Invest Express and Action Strategy. But in general I feel really good about the portfolio and where it’s at in our life cycle.”

CSR is doing so well that Zynga now considers it one of their “forever franchises.” NaturalMotion’s newer IP, Dawn of Titans, isn’t having that same level of success and was merely a footnote again in the company’s earnings statement. Last quarter Gibeau acknowledged that some games can take a long time to reach their full potential, and he elaborated on Dawn of Titans again this quarter, especially in light of Zynga’s improved operating efficiencies and how it treats projects. The mobile Mafia Wars project, for example, was shut down last month because Zynga did not believe it could become a forever franchise. And if Zynga can’t be near the top in a category, its new philosophy is to not devote the resources to that category.

“We’re a continuous learning organization,” Gibeau remarked. “I’ve had a long career in gaming and you learn everything you can from every launch, whether it’s a success or it doesn’t hit its potential. I think some of the learnings from Dawn of Titans actually informed the decision on Mafia. Dawn of Titans was a game that had been in soft launch for an extraordinarily long time, it had been under development for a very long time, and the key learning from me coming into that project was a sharper decision making tree for how we go through different stages of development.

“On Mafia Wars we really looked at how we went into soft launch, what were our goals, and what did the category look like overall and what did it take to compete? Because we don’t want to be in a category if we can’t be a one or a two. We want to be in that position – otherwise we should use our talent and our dollars in a different way, because mobile games is a tough category. You can’t be everywhere. So when we looked at Mafia Wars, we gave it a healthy soft launch and we just didn’t see the KPIs. When we looked at what it was going to take to get it into position to be a number one or number two game against some of the big competition that’s out there, it didn’t feel like the right decision. It felt like we could redeploy those individuals, those talented people and those dollars on other ideas that would help Zynga grow faster and in a more predictable way.”

Gibeau added that knowing when to scrap a game is actually a very important part of the process for the best mobile companies.

“It’s always hard to stop development,” he continued. “You have to be really sober sometimes and say we have to take hope out. What can we actually achieve? And if we’re not going to get to that level of performance then you make the call. And you want to do it in a way that is timely and that you don’t drag it out, which was the key learning for me on Dawn of Titans; we could have been more decisive earlier in the development process. So that’s what we did. We believe in the Mafia Wars brand as a universe and it’s something that we’ll probably come back to in another time, maybe in a different category with a different design. But we thank the team for their hard work. Honestly, killing a game in soft launch is a strength in a lot of ways of an organization. If you look at some of the developers out there they talk about the number of games that they bring into soft [launch] that they don’t finish.”

All that being said, Gibeau insists that Dawn of Titans isn’t about to get its plug pulled. There’s a lot of potential there, and Zynga is confident that the game will get there.

“If you look at Dawn of Titans, it did have a tremendous amount of expectations over the years,” Gibeau said. “We put it out, and it hit a certain level of performance and it’s kind of leveled out in terms of audience and retention. We’ve been looking at the game very carefully and what we keep coming back to is that we think it’s a high quality experience, we think it’s got great intellectual property and we think the team has the capability of really bringing that potential out. It hasn’t really done it yet, and if it gets to a point where we don’t believe it can reach its full potential then we’ll do something else. But we are not there.

“There is a long track record of mobile games that come out and find there way and eventually have a breakthrough and they leap into the charts. I’ve been on some of those games. We believe in Dawn of Titans, we’re committed to the franchise, we’re making prioritized decisions right now to make sure the features that we’re putting in the game are what the players want most… Candidly, we wish we were further along but it doesn’t change the focus and it doesn’t change the commitment. We just had a review on the product last week and I like the plan that they have going forward so we’re going to stick with it.”

NaturalMotion is a very talented studio, so what is it about Dawn of Titans versus CSR that’s enabling one to thrive while the other just barely keeps its head above water?

“I think CSR benefited from the fact that it was a sequel and the racing category has a lot more knowns in terms of design decisions,” Gibeau explained. “It had an approach and a reputation and an audience expectation that they were able to execute upon. That’s why I’m so bullish on NaturalMotion and Dawn of Titans; I see all the goodness of CSR2 and I know we can get there. So from my perspective, it’s a real-time strategy game on mobile that has a very different play mechanic compulsion loop than CSR2. It’s an obviously very different experience, not just a genre difference, but just the core experience. And it was a new team [whereas] the CSR team had been together for a while… If we can get CSR and Dawn of Titans to be operating at the same level of performance that’s going to be great.”

Apart from updates on its portfolio, Gibeau also talked about how his company is striving to get costs down all around. The firm has reduced R&D expenditures, and importantly in the expensive city that is San Francisco, Zynga has managed to find a long-term tenant for its building: AirBnB.

“Our R&D cost is down about 10 points y-o-y as a percentage of revenue, and we’ve been investing in India and some new locations like Finland that’s really starting to come to scale,” Gibeau noted. “And we also are a building owner as you might know, and sometimes part of my job is being a landlord, so we were real fortunate to in sign a 9-year lease with AirBnB. Our footprint in San Francisco is a lot smaller than it was when we IPO’d so bringing in a group like AirBnB to be a partner in the building as a tenant was really a big milestone for us because it helps us get a lot more efficient in terms of how we are as a company.”

Looking forward, Gibeau expressed some interest in the mobile VR/AR trend but Zynga doesn’t have anything to announce yet. High-end VR still isn’t mainstream, but mobile VR is gaining more traction thanks to Samsung Gear and Google Daydream. And now that Apple is getting into the AR mix with its ARkit for iOS, Gibeau is optimistic that the category will yield some opportunities.

“One of the reasons I’m so excited about our potential as a company is that mobile is the most dynamic gaming platform out there,” he said. “It’s the biggest, it’s continuing to grow and I think it has a tremendous amount of innovation in front it as highlighted by the VR/AR stuff but also in chat, and in platform innovations from Google and Apple, and they’re constant. So from my perspective we want to have a very nimble company at this level where we’re not missing out on the next big thing, the next big innovation.

“There’s an old saying that we have, which is ‘Transition is our friend.’ So we want to look forward to those things. And AR is definitely something we’re looking at. I’m less bullish on VR on mobile right now – I’m more bullish on AR, just because of the context and how you use the device… [Pokemon GO developer] Niantic has done a tremendous job in making AR not a gimmick but actually a core part of the experience. I think we’re scratching the surface of what’s going to be possible there.”

For the third quarter, Zynga has provided guidance of $210 million in revenues, net income of $7 million, bookings of $205 million and adjusted EBITDA (including the impact of changes in deferred revenue) of $30 million. Zynga did caution, however, that some of its growth could be “offset by declines in our web and older games, as well as continued softness in advertising.” Zynga also has found that seasonality plays a part, as Q3 has historically had dips in player activity on live services, the company said.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is Google Developing A Snapchat Equivalent?

August 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Alphabet Inc’s Google is working on technology that media companies could use to create stories similar to those found on Snapchat’s “Discover” platform, a person familiar with the plans said on Friday.

Google’s project, dubbed “Stamp,” is in the early stages of testing with publishers, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Tech firms including Google, Snapchat’s owner Snap Inc and Facebook Inc are racing to develop publishing tools for media companies, hoping to fill their own apps with news, entertainment, sports and other content.

The challenge for such tools is making them faster and easier to use than a web browser, while creating an interesting experience for users.

Snapchat’s “Discover” tab is distinct in the way it integrates video clips with text and photos, allowing users to skip to a new story or advertisement with the touch of a finger.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the development of Google Stamp earlier on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Google has been in discussions with several publishers, including Vox Media, Time Warner Inc’s CNN, Mic, the Washington Post and Time Inc to participate in the project, the newspaper said.

Google said in a statement: “We don’t have anything to announce at the moment but look forward to sharing more soon.”

The name Stamp echoes an existing Google product, Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, that allows for faster loading of online news stories. Facebook has a competing product, Instant Articles.

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