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Sprint Picks Chicago To Roll Out Advanced LTE Network

April 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint plans to add more than 540 jobs and 115 retail locations in the Chicago area along with its first LTE-Advanced upgrade in the nation. LTE Advanced has the potential of delivering 100 Mbps wireless download speeds.

The impact on the city of Chicago proper will be 300 new jobs by the end of 2015. Sprint will also install hundreds of new cellular sites in the city at an expected cost of $45 million by the end of 2016, Sprint said in a statement.

LTE Advanced has become more common around the globe in the past year and is being used in more than 30 countries, including the U.S., according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association. In some countries, LTE Advanced offers wireless download data speeds of up to 300 Mbps — potentially 30 times faster than basic LTE, which has download speeds of 10Mbps to 20Mbps.

LTE Advanced uses different technologies to enhance speeds, but the earliest approach uses carrier aggregation. That lets operators treat two or three radio channels in different frequency bands as if they were one to send data at higher speeds.

AT&T has upgraded its network in several cities to LTE Advanced, including Chicago.

Sprint has the potential to reach 100Mbps in the Chicago upgrade by using channel aggregation, as well as MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) antennas and 8T8R (eight transmitters, eight receivers on a single radio), according to a spokeswoman. That 100Mbps would be about double the current Sprint LTE peak speeds of 50Mbps to 60Mbps.

New technology from companies such as Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm and Intel has made the expansion of LTE Advanced possible.

Sprint said faster speeds will support video and other bandwidth-rich apps such as online games, virtual reality and cloud services.

In Chicago, new cell towers and cellular equipment placed on buildings and other structures will include areas around the Rush University Medical Center and along Chicago Transit Authority subway routes as well as the area surrounding Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side.

 

 

 

Toshiba And SanDisk To Launch 48-Layer 3D Flash Chip

March 31, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Toshiba has announced the world’s first 48-layer Bit Cost Scalable (BiCS) flash memory chip.

The BiCS is a two-bit-per-cell, 128Gb (16GB) device with a 3D-stacked cell structure flash that improves density and significantly reduces the overall size of the chip.

Toshiba is already using 15nm dies so, despite the layering, the finished product will be competitively thin.

24 hours after the first announcement, SanDisk made one of its own regarding the announcement. The two companies share a fabrication plant and usually make such announcements in close succession.

“We are very pleased to announce our second-generation 3D NAND, which is a 48-layer architecture developed with our partner Toshiba,” said Dr Siva Sivaram, executive vice president of memory technology at SanDisk.

“We used our first generation 3D NAND technology as a learning vehicle, enabling us to develop our commercial second-generation 3D NAND, which we believe will deliver compelling storage solutions for our customers.”

Samsung has been working on its own 3D stacked memory for some time and has released a number of iterations. Production began last May, following a 10-year research cycle.

Moving away from the more traditional design process, the BiCS uses a ‘charge trap’ which stops electrons leaking between layers, improving the reliability of the product.

The chips are aimed primarily at the solid state drive market, as the 48-layer stacking process is said to enhance reliability, write speed and read/write endurance. However, the BiCS is said to be adaptable to a number of other uses.

All storage manufacturers are facing a move to 3D because, unless you want your flash drives very long and flat, real estate on chips is getting more expensive per square inch than a bedsit in Soho.

Micron has been talking in terms of 3D NAND since an interview with The INQUIRER in 2013 and, after signing a deal with Intel, has predicted 10TB in a 2mm chip by the end of this year.

Production of the chips will roll out initially from Fab 5 before moving in early 2016 to Fab 2 at the firm’s Yokkaichi Operations plant.

This is in stark contrast to Intel, which mothballed its Fab 42 chip fabrication plant in Chandler, Arizona before it even opened, as the semiconductors for computers it was due to produce have fallen in demand by such a degree.

The Toshiba and Sandisk BiCS chips are available for sampling from today.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Alibaba, BMG Sign Music Distribution Deal

March 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Germany’s BMG music rights company announced that it has signed a music digital distribution deal with China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, as the world’s largest e-commerce giant firms up its bid to become a digital media empire.

The deal, one of the first in China made by a major music publisher rather than a label, will bring more than 2.5 million copyrights to Alibaba, whose music platforms already had many of the songs from artists including Kylie Minogue, the Rolling Stones and Jean-Michael Jarre, an Alibaba spokeswoman said.

Alibaba has set its eyes on becoming an online-media powerhouse, with music, film and television. The $210-billion firm has touted the potential for selling digital products as well as physical products in China, despite the country’s track record of users not paying for media content.

In the process, it is vying with Tencent Holdings Ltd, China’s biggest social networking and online entertainment firm, and search leader Baidu Inc and its online video unit, iQiyi.

For BMG, the tie-up is both a chance to boost earnings by its artists in China and part of its attempt to “grow the legitimate music market in China”, the company said.

BMG last November linked up with Chinese independent company Giant Jump to manage publishing and recording rights both at home and overseas.

Alibaba’s Digital Entertainment arm will “promote BMG writers and artists through channels such as its streaming apps Xiami and TTPod” and “monitor and take action against digital and mobile services who may infringe the rights of BMG clients,” the subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG, Europe’s largest media company, said in a statement.

“Internet and particular mobile media are quickly providing an answer to the music industry’s long-time challenge of how to monetize the vast untapped potential of the Chinese market,” BMG Chief Executive Hartwig Masuch said in Monday’s statement.

 

Amazon Unleashes Unlimited Storage For $5 A Month

March 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon upped the ante: Unlimited cloud storage for individuals for $5 a month ($59.99 per year).

Amazon’s Unlimited Everything Plan allows users to store an infinite number of  photos, videos, files, documents, movies and music in its Cloud Drive.

The site also announced a separate $12 per year plan for unlimited photos. People who subscribe to Amazon Prime already get unlimited capacity for photos. Both the Unlimited Everything Plan and the Photos Plan have three-month free trial periods.

Online storage and file sharing service providers, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud, have been engaged in a pricing war over the past year. Last fall, Dropbox dropped its Pro plan pricing for individuals to $9.99 per month for 1TB of capacity. Dropbox offers 2GB of capacity for free.

Dropbox also offers members 500MB of storage each time they get a friend to sign up; there’s a 16GB max on referrals, though. With Dropbox Pro, members can get 1GB instead of 500MB each time they refer someone.

Google Drive offers 15GB of capacity for free and charges $1.99 per month for 100GB and $9.99 per month for 1TB.

Apple’s iCloud offers 5GB of capacity for free, and charges 99 cents per month for 20GB, $3.99 per month for 200GB and $9.99 per month for 1TB.

Microsoft’s OneDrive offers 15GB of capacity for free, and charges $1.99 per month for 100GB, $3.99 per month for 200GB and $6.99 per month for 1TB.

While Amazon offers unlimited file size uploads for desktop users, it limits file sizes to 2GB for mobile devices.

 

 

Verizon To Bolster 100G Metro Fiber-optic Network

March 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Verizon has announced new technology to bolster its super-fast 100 Gbps fiber-optic network serving metro areas, but didn’t reveal where the work will be done or other details.

The vague announcement raised the question of whether Verizon is simply trying to show its competitive value against Google and AT&T, which have both announced fiber Internet services in a number of cities.

“I think Verizon is trying to play catch up to the others without saying it that way,” said independent analyst Jeff Kagan. “The only question I still have is will Verizon be a real competitor or is this mostly just talk to cover their butts in the rapidly changing marketplace?”

What Verizon did disclose in a news release was that it will be modernizing undisclosed portions of its so-called 100G (for 100 Gbps) metro optical network using packet-optimized networking gear from Ciena and Cisco. Testing and deployment of the Ciena 6500 optical switch and Cisco’s Network Covergence System will happen this year, with plans to go live in 2016. /

“We are not announcing specific geographies at this time,” Verizon spokeswoman Lynn Staggs said in an email. She said the new equipment is not directly related to fiber connections to the premises of homes or businesses. By comparison, both Google Fiber and AT&T GigaPower are designed with 1 Gbps connections to homes, schools and businesses in mind.

Staggs said Verizon is upgrading connectivity between central Verizon offices and the backbone network. On top of that service, there is generally an “access” network for the last mile to connect the customer and the metro network, she added.

No matter how Verizon describes the ultimate purpose of its metro network, it is clear to analysts and others that Verizon’s metro upgrades could be used to prepare for last-mile fiber connections to businesses, schools and even homes to take on Google and AT&T directly. “Deploying a new coherent, optimized and highly scalable metro network means Verizon stays ahead of the growth trajectory while providing an even more robust network infrastructure for future demand,” said Lee Hicks, vice president of Verizon network planning, in a statement.

 

 

Intel’s Broadwell Spec Apparently Leaked

March 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

People working for the Chinese VR Zone  have found evidence that Intel will only be launching two Broadwell desktop processors in Q2 2015.

The new Broadwell Desktop CPUs are based on the LGA1150 pin layout and will be compatible with the current Z97 motherboards.

ASUS and ASRock recently announced that their motherboards will be able to handle the new 14nm Broadwell processors with a BIOS update. The two new CPUs will be the Intel Core i7-5775C and Core i5-5675C.

There are some odd things on this list. It is not clear what the C stands for in the product names. Our local AMD fanboy says it stands for C*ap while others have suggested, camel or caramel, depending on how hungry they are. The processors are unlocked for overclocking like the previous K models were and it could the K has somehow become a C.

The new i7 has four cores and eight threads running at a base frequency of 3.3GHz and with a turbo to 3.7GHz while the i5 has a base speed of 3.1GHz and a Turbo of 3.6GHz on its four cores, four threads base. The i7 comes with 6MB cache while the i5 only has 4MB and both are powered by the Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 iGPU.

Courtesy-Fud

Vessel Launches Early Access, Paid Subcription Video Service

March 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Online video platform Vessel officially debuted its paid subscription service on Tuesday, offering programming at least three days before other websites in a bid to reshape an industry dominated by free content on Google Inc’s YouTube.

Vessel, which costs viewers $3 a month, was founded by former Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar and Chief Technology Officer Richard Tom. They aim to create an early window for a selection of web video, similar to the way movies are released in theaters before they arrive on cable TV or the Internet.

“Early access is very valuable,” Kilar said in an interview. “There are a lot of consumers who would love to see something early.”

More than 130 creators will provide early access to content on Vessel. After the exclusive period ends, videos can go to YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo or other free, ad-supported sites, and are free on Vessel.

YouTube stars such as Ingrid Nilsen, Rhett & Link and Shane Dawson are among creators whose videos will make their debut on Vessel. Other programming comes from online networks such as food-oriented Tastemade and celebrities such as Alec Baldwin.

Video creators on Vessel keep 70 percent of ad revenue, compared with 55 percent that is typical on YouTube, plus 60 percent of Vessel subscription revenue.

With those incentives, the new service will be an easier sell to creators than offering viewers who are used to watching videos for free, said Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates.

“Vessel must rely on content creators’ popularity and self-marketing to entice their loyal viewers into paying a monthly fee,” he said.

The service is free for one year for viewers who sign up within the first three days.

It is unlikely YouTube will lose significant revenue from a migration to Vessel, Sappington said. YouTube made its debut a decade ago and has more than 1 billion users.

 

 

FAA Speeding Up Process To Define Commercial Drone Use

March 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration plans to announcel new rules soon to make it easier for companies to use drone aircraft for specific business operations, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Commercial drone flights are generally banned in the United States, except in a small number of cases where the FAA has granted an exemption. The has agency received more than 750 requests for exemptions to the ban, but has awarded only 48.

Now the U.S. aviation regulator intends to streamline the process by no longer requiring companies with exemptions to obtain a new certificate of authority for each new use of a drone, the people familiar with the matter said.

The FAA could announce the change this week, ahead of a congressional hearing on drones scheduled for today, these people added.

The FAA had no immediate comment. The agency has been taking measured steps to ease restrictions on commercial use of drones.

The change in policy could be a positive signal to a wide swath of companies that are pushing for federal regulators to remove barriers to commercial uses of automated aircraft, and help foster growth of an emerging sector of manufacturers and service providers built around drone technology.

The rule changes also would be a boost for companies that already have exemptions from the commercial drone ban, such as Chevron , Berkshire Hathaway’s BNSF Railway Co , State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co, and a number of film and media companies. Those companies could get more flexibility to use pilotless aircraft for rail and pipeline inspections, crop surveys and aerial photography for commercials or movies.

Companies awaiting exemptions from the overall ban could also benefit, including Amazon.com Inc and Yamaha Motor Co.

Last Thursday, Amazon got FAA clearance to experiment with drones at an outdoor facility in Washington state under a different set of federal rules. Amazon hopes to develop drones capable of delivering packages to customer doorsteps.

Industry lobbyists have criticized the current process as too slow. Companies with approval to fly unmanned aircraft must obtain government permission each time they intend to use drones for a new project. They must fill out and get FAA approval for a two-page “certificate of authority” before each flight specifying where, when and how long the drone will fly.

The process of authorizing specific flights has bogged down, said Mark Dombroff, a partner in the drone practice of McKenna, Long and Aldridge. In one case, Dombroff said, applicants sought permission to fly over an area of land, but the FAA ”wanted us to apply for every farm individually.”

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told industry representatives at a recent meeting that his agency was moving to streamline the process, the sources added.

 

Intel And Cadence Design Show 14nm In Foundry

March 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Cadence Design and Intel announced that the two companies have hammered out a 14nm (nanometer) library characterization reference flow for customers of Intel Custom Foundry.

The library characterization reference flow is centered on the Cadence Virtuoso Liberate Characterization solution and Spectre Circuit Simulator and enables accurate 14nm logic libraries.

The reference flow for 14nm logic libraries enables the creation of Liberty libraries, AOCV de-rating tables, library validation and reliability views.

The reference flow was developed using Virtuoso Liberate, Virtuoso Liberate LV, Virtuoso Variety characterization solutions and Spectre Circuit Simulator to deliver accurate logic libraries, including advanced timing models (ECSM, CCS), advanced noise models (ECSMN, CCSN), and advanced power models (ECSMP, CCSP).

The reference flow enables Intel Custom Foundry customers to re-characterize the logic libraries for custom process, voltage or temperature corners or to characterize custom cells following a similar characterization methodology.

Intel Custom Foundry has an extensive design platform on Intel’s 14nm Tri-gate process technology for systems-on-chip (SoCs) targeted at cloud infrastructure and mobile applications.

Intel’s 14nm platform is the second generation to use 3D Tri-gate transistors that enable chips to operate at lower voltage with lower leakage, providing an unprecedented combination of improved performance and energy efficiency compared to previous state-of-the-art transistors.

Ali Farhang, vice president, Design and Ennoblement Services, Intel Custom Foundry said that accurate logic libraries were required to enable customers to implement and verify differentiated SoCs on Intel’s 14nm design platform.

“Intel Custom Foundry’s 14nm characterization reference flow includes best characterization practices jointly developed by Intel Custom Foundry and Cadence and can accelerate the ramp-up time for customers who need to re-characterize libraries,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

eBay Teams Up With Sotheby’s, Launches New Online Auction Service

March 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

eBay has created a new platform that will stream Sotheby’s New York auctions live beginning next month.

The new live auctions platform – ebay.com/sothebys – that launched on Tuesday pairs Sotheby’s 270 years of experience selling art and antiques with eBay’s digital expertise and 155 million active users worldwide to meet the demand for online bidding.

The first auctions on the platform will begin on April 1 with photographs and a themed New York sale that will include the 13 letters of the 1970s Yankee Stadium sign that could fetch up to $600,000 from the collection of baseball great Reggie Jackson.

Online art sales are not new. Sotheby’s and its rival Christie’s conduct them. But the platform will bring Sotheby’s vast inventory to a new audience in the hopes of boosting sales and prices.

“What this partnership is about is leveraging eBay’s audience and ability to target that audience and find clients that have the means to participate in a Sotheby’s auction,” Josh Pullan, senior vice president, director of e-commerce at Sotheby’s, said.

Online sales of art and antiques are estimated to have reached 3.3 billion euros ($3.5 billion) or about 6 percent of global sales in 2014, according to a report commissioned by the Netherlands-based European Fine Art Foundation.

The majority of online sales, it added, was in the $1,000 to $50,000 range.

Most of Sotheby’s New York auctions will be streamed on the platform except for high-priced evening sales of contemporary, modern and Impressionist art and other specialist categories.

Sotheby’s has seen a nearly 25 percent rise in online bidding in 2014 over the previous year. In an auction of Picasso Ceramics, 75 percent of the lots offered attracted online bids.

The is designed to emulate the auction catalog in a digital format and to replicate the experience of seeing art in a museum before taking bidders to the live auction where they can bid in real time.

Megan Ford, director, emerging verticals and live auctions at eBay, said technology is changing and people have become more comfortable purchasing high-ticket items online in the past few years.

 

 

 

Is Nintendo Going Mobile?

March 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Nintendo has formed a comprehensive new alliance with DeNA that will make every one of the company’s famous IPs available for mobile development.

The bedrock of the deal is a dual stock purchase, with each company buying ¥22 billion ($181 million) of the other’s treasury shares. That’s equivalent to 10 per cent of DeNA’s stock, and 1.24 per cent of Nintendo. The payments will complete on April 2, 2015.

What this will ultimately mean for the consumer is Nintendo IP on mobile, “extending Nintendo’s reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide.” There will be no ports of existing Nintendo games, according to information released today, but, “all Nintendo IP will be eligible for development and exploration by the alliance.” That includes the “iconic characters” that the company has guarded for so long.

No details on the business model that these games and apps will be released under were offered, though Nintendo may well be reluctant to adopt free-to-play at first. The information provided to the press emphasised the “premium” experiences Nintendo currently offers on platforms like Wii U and 3DS. Admittedly, that could be interpreted in either direction.

However, Nintendo and DeNA are planning an online membership service that will span Nintendo consoles, PC and smart devices. That will launch in the autumn this year.

This marks a significant change in strategy for Nintendo, which has been the subject of reports about plans to take its famous IPs to mobile for at least a year. Indeed, the company has denied the suggestion on several occasions, even as it indicated that it did have plans to make mobile a part of its core strategy in other ways.

Analysts have been offering their reflections on the deal, with the response from most being largely positive.

“Nintendo’s decision to partner with DeNA is a recognition of the importance of the games app audience to the future of its business,” said IHS head of gaming Piers Harding-Rolls. “Not only is there significant revenue to be made directly from smartphone and tablet consumers for Nintendo, app ecosystems are also very important in reaching new customers to make them aware of the Nintendo brand and to drive a new and broader audience to its dedicated console business. Last year IHS data shows that games apps were worth $26 billion in consumer spending globally, with handheld console games worth only 13 per cent of that total at $3.3 billion.

“The Nintendo-DeNA alliance is a good fit and offers up a number of important synergies for two companies that are no longer leaders in their respective segments.

“DeNA remains one of the leading mobile games company’s in Japan and, we believe, shares cultural similarities with Nintendo, especially across its most popular big-brand content. The alliance gives Nintendo access to a large audience in its home market, which remains very important to its overall financial performance. Japanese consumers spend significantly more per capita on mobile games than in any other country and it remains the biggest market for both smartphone and handheld gaming. While the partnership gives Nintendo immediate potential to grow its domestic revenues through this audience, gaining access to DeNA’s mobile expertise is important too to realise this potential.

“This alliance makes commercial sense on many levels – the main challenge will be knitting together the cultures of both companies and aligning the speed of development and iteration that is needed in the mobile space with Nintendo’s more patient and systematic approach to games content production. How the new games are monetised may also provide a challenge considering the general differences in models used in retail for Nintendo and through in-app purchases for DeNA.”

In a livestreamed press conference regarding the DeNA deal, Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata reassured those in attendance that the company was still committed to “dedicated video game systems” as its core business. To do that, he confirmed that the company was working on a new console, codenamed “NX”.

“As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand new concept under the development codename NX,” he said.

“It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project but we hope to share more information with you next year.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

 

Apple Holding Discussions With Broadcasters To Launch TV Service

March 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc’s frequently mentioned TV service may soon become a reality as the iPhone maker is having discussions with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks this fall, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The service would have about 25 channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox, and be available across all devices powered by Apple’s iOS operating system, including iPhones, iPads and Apple TV set-top boxes, the newspaper said.

Apple has been talking to Walt Disney Co, CBS Corp, and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc and other media companies to offer a “skinny” bundle with well-known channels like CBS, ESPN and FX, leaving out the many smaller networks in the standard cable TV package, the Journal said.

Apple, which is aiming to price the new service at about $30 to $40 a month, plans to announce the service in June and launch it in September, the newspaper said.

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said the company does not comment on rumor and speculation. Fox and CBS declined to comment.

Several media companies are considering joining streaming-only services, or launching their own like HBO and CBS, to attract young people who do not subscribe to traditional pay TV packages. But programmers also fear the packages could become so popular that they undercut current, more profitable deals with cable companies.

In January, Dish Network Corp unveiled its long-anticipated video streaming service, named Sling TV, targeted at younger consumers who shun pricey cable and satellite subscriptions.

 

Intel Shows Off The Xeon SoC

March 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has announced details of its first Xeon system on chip (SoC) which will become the new the Xeon D 1500 processor family.

Although it is being touted as a server, storage and compute applications chip at the “network edge”, word on the street is that it could be under the bonnet of robots during the next apocalypse.

The Xeon D SoCs use the more useful bits of the E3 and Atom SoCs along with 14nm Broadwell core architecture. The Xeon D chip is expected to bring 3.4x better performance per watt than previous Xeon chips.

Lisa Spelman, Intel’s general manager for the Data Centre Products Group, lifted the kimono on the eight-core 2GHz Xeon D 1540 and the four-core 2.2GHz Xeon D 1520, both running at 45W. It also features integrated I/O and networking to slot into microservers and appliances for networking and storage, the firm said.

The chips are also being touted for industrial automation and may see life powering robots on factory floors. Since simple robots can run on basic, low-power processors, there’s no reason why faster chips can’t be plugged into advanced robots for more complex tasks, according to Intel.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Opens First Retail Store In London

March 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Opening its first store-in-a-store in London this week, Google is looking to raise its global profile.

That’s the word from industry analysts after Google announced that it’s opening what is going to be called the Google Shop in Currys PC World, a well-known electronics store in London.

“This is about marketing, not selling,” said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. “While Apple’s stores are real stores with huge volumes, this is about building the brand and exposing people to Google who don’t know about all the Google offerings.”

The Google shop is set up to offer customers the chance to see and try out Google’s range of Android phones and tablets, Chromebook laptops and Chromecast streaming-media devices, as well as learn about how they work together, according to the company.

Store visitors also will be able to try out Google’s software tools and apps, using a series of immersive features, like a Chromecast Pod that allows users to play movies and YouTube videos, as well as an immersive surround-screen installation called Portal, designed to let users seemingly fly through any part of the planet using Google Earth.

“It’s more an amusement park than a shop, which is what, I think, Google intends,” said Gottheil. “Google is doing a very good job with its brand, but it can always be better. You can’t be too rich, too thin or have good enough marketing.”

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, noted that as popular as Google’s products, like Android, and services, like Google Maps and Google Earth, are, there’s always room for improvement.

“I think that Google sees the need to make their products even more accessible and sees the store as one method to explore,” he added. “However, they have to realize that these are going to be loss leaders. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to measure the actual value of the stores to Google’s bottom line… If I were them, I’d look at store traffic as the major metric. If they’re getting people into the store, then it’s a win.”

 

 

 

Apple Watch Seen Challenging For App Developers

March 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Many software developers agree that it’s a challenge to come up with a “killer app” for Apple Inc’s Watch – few have seen the product and the software is still in test mode.

While app makers are passionate about developing for the Apple Watch, some are skeptical about the prospects of coming up with a big idea for the little computer on a wrist that hits stores on April 24, said Markiyan Matsekh, product manager at software engineering firm Eleks.

A killer app that grabs consumers’ attention will be key to the success of the Apple Watch and could spawn new companies, as the iPhone did. The photo-sharing app Instagram grew into a $1 billion business bought by Facebook Inc, and Snapchat has gone from a mobile messaging app to a company valued at $19 billion.

Apple has blocked some features, such as the gyroscope and accelerometer, on the development kit, and the watch simulator cannot test all functions, developers said. Apple declined to comment on why developers cannot access certain features.

“The limitations are discouraging,” said Matsekh, who helped develop a Watch app to control a Tesla Model S without involvement from the electric carmaker.

App designer Mark Rabo believes Apple is spurring creativity though restraint.

The challenge he believes is “not trying to take a phone app and cram it into a Watch.”

Rabo is developing an app called “Revere,” that ties notes to calendars. The Watch will recognize the wearer is walking into a meeting and pull up previously dictated notes about the attendees, for instance.

Apple listed about 40 apps on its website as it unveiled its smartwatch on Monday with “thousands” more in the works, it said.