Acer had a disastrous third quarter this year, with the firm announcing a worse than expected loss on Tuesday, along with the sudden resignation of its CEO.
Less than a day after Thorsten Heins announced that he was leaving Blackberry, Acer had some similarly dramatic news. The firm posted its third quarter financial results, revealing a worse than predicted NT$13.1bn (around $445m) loss for the three month period.
Despite remaining the fourth largest PC maker, Acer blamed slowing PC sales for its loss, while the top three PC makers – Lenovo, Dell and HP – scraped by with slight growth in the third quarter. These results echo recent figures from Gartner, with the market research outfit having reported that Acer’s PC shipments fell almost 50 percent year on year globally and 25 percent in the UK.
Acer said in a statement, “[The third quarter's] operating loss was mainly due to the gross margin impact of gearing up for the Windows 8.1 sell-in and the related management of inventory.”
As well as posting drastic losses, Acer also revealed that it’s out with the Wang and in with the Wong . Acer has announced that its CEO JT Wang will be replaced by president Jim Wong on 1 January 2014, and will continue to serve as a chairman at the company until the second quarter of next year.
Wang said in a statement, “It is time for me to hand over the responsibility to a new leadership team to path the way for a new era.”
As well as the departure of Wang, Acer announced that it will slash seven percent of jobs at the company, which it hopes will save the company $100m over the next year.
Acer hasn’t said what it expects from the upcoming quarter, but it’s likely that the firm will reduce its reliance on Microsoft’s Windows 8 PC operating system to try to return to profitability. Earlier this year, Acer said that it planned to take a “more cautious approach” to Windows 8, and with its losses on PC sales worsening, it might be time to put that plan into action.
Chrome’s current “Canary” build — the label for very-early versions of the browser, earlier than even Chrome’s Dev channel — will post a warning at the bottom of the window when it detects an attempted download of malicious code.
Features added to the Canary build usually, although not always, eventually make it into the Dev channel — the roughest-edged of the three distributed to users — and from there into the Beta and Stable channels. Google did not spell out a timetable for the expanded malware blocking.
Chrome has included malware blocking for more than two years, since version 12 launched in June 2011, and the functionality was extended in February 2012with Chrome 17.
Chrome is now at version 30.
Canary’s blocking, however, is more aggressive on two fronts: It is more assertive in its alerts and detects more malware forms, including threats that pose as legitimate software and monkey with the browser’s settings.
“Content.exe is malicious, and Chrome has blocked it,” the message in Canary reads. The sole visible option is to click the “Dismiss” button, which makes the warning vanish. The only additional option, and that only after another click, is to “Learn more,” which leads to yet another warning.
In Canary, there is no way for the user to contradict the malware blocking.
That’s different than in the current Stable build of Chrome, which relies on a message that says, “This file is malicious. Are you sure you want to continue?” and gives the user a choice between tossing the downloaded file or saving it anyway.
As it has for some time, Chrome will show such warnings on select file extensions, primarily “.exe,” which in Windows denotes an executable file, and “.msi,” an installation package for Windows applications. Canary’s expansion, said Google, also warns when the user tries to download some less obvious threats, including payloads masquerading as legitimate software — it cited screen savers and video plug-ins in a blog posting — that hijack browser settings to silently change the home page or insert ads into websites to monetize the malware.
Google’s malware blocking is part of its Safe Browsing API (application programming interface) and service, which Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox all access to warn customers of potentially dangerous websites before they reach them.
In Chrome’s case, the malware warning stems not only from the Safe Browsing “blacklist” of dodgy websites, but according to NSS Labs, a security software testing company, also from the Content Agnostic Malware Protection (CAMP) technology that Google has baked into its implementation of Safe Browsing.
Qualcomm’s Adreno 330 GPU will be replaced by new Adreno 400-series parts and naturally the new generation will be faster than the one that sits inside the Snapdragon 800.
Our sources are telling us that Adreno 400 is expected with the new version of Snapdragon that is set to debut in early 2014. Traditionally Qualcomm uses CES to showcase its new chips and CES 2014 starts on January 7th, so it sounds like the right time for it.
The only key detail that we learned about Adreno 400 is that despite a significant increase in GPU performance the chip won’t have a compute part and it doesn’t support OpenCL. Many will see this as a handicap, but to be honest we see limited uses for OpenCL in mobile chips, at least for now.
Nvidia’s Logan comes with Open CL 1.1 as well as Open GL 4.4 support. Adreno 330 can push 3.6 Gigapixels a second making it one of the fastest GPUs in mobile market, capable of going head to head with the Tegra 4. Adreno 400 naturally ends up faster.
Then again we expect that Logan Tegra 5 has what it takes to dominate the mobile GPU market in 2014. Let’s not forget about PowerVR 6-series parts, ARM’s recently announced Mali 700-series or Vivante’s upcoming mobile GPU designs, either.
Unlike the AMD-Nvidia duopoly in the PC GPU market, right now there are five players vying for the top spot in the mobile space and things are bound to get interesting.
Sinclair ZX80 and runaway success story, the Raspberry Pi might be about to get its own monitor after a Kickstarter campaign to create a low cost 9in screen for it has exceeded its $90,000 goal in a single weekend.
The HDMIPi monitor from startup Raspi.tv presently stands at $100,996 on Kickstarter, an increase of $8,000 in just the last four hours. The concept behind the monitor is to create something small and affordable but with maximum 1920×1080 resolution. Even though the project has had to scale down its ambitions to 1200×800 resolution to fit the business plan, Raspberry Pi fans have flocked to crowdfund the device.
Put in perspective, that’s higher than HD 720p resolution, or as they describe it, “slightly better resolution than the 720p HD footage on BBC iPlayer”.
Monitor cases will be available in a variety of colours, designed by none other than Paul Beech, who designed the original Raspberry Pi logo.
Although primarily designed for the Raspberry Pi, the HDMIPi is a standard HDMI monitor and can be used for other devices – Android sticks, video cameras, games consoles and beyond.
Raspi.tv has pledged to ship orders in February 2014, delays permitting, and is already working on enhancements. It has described touch functionality as something that might become available as a bolt-on at a later date, saying that “enough people have mentioned it that we are sitting up and taking notice”.
As ever with the Raspberry Pi ecosystem, everything is a bit Ryanair, and power supplies, surrounds and so on are not automatically included, though of course, in the true DIY spirit, you can always make your own.
Apple’s once-dominant lead in the ever-expanding tablet market is fading as consumers move to Android tablets, which are cheaper and available in different sizes, according to separate research released by IHS and IDC on Wednesday.
Tablet shipments during the third quarter this year totaled 47.6 million units, growing by 36.7% compared to the same quarter last year, according to IDC. Android tablets drove the growth, while Apple’s iPad shipments were flat and Windows tablets continued to struggle.
Apple maintained the top spot in tablet shipments, totaling 14.1 million iPads during the quarter, growing by just 0.6% compared to the previous year. The company’s tablet market share fell to 29.6% during the third quarter, down from 40.2% a year ago.
The current tablet market share of 29.6% is Apple’s lowest to date, IDC said. Research firm IHS pegged Apple’s third-quarter market share at 29.7%.
Apple’s tablet shipments slowed due to a delay in product launches to the fourth quarter from earlier in the year. But the company is poised to regain market share with the new iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina display, which will start shipping in November.
“With two 7.9-inch [iPad Mini] models starting at $299 and $399, and two 9.7-inch models starting at $399 and $499, Apple is taking steps to appeal to multiple segments,” said Jitesh Ubrani, IDC research analyst, in a statement.
Samsung was the biggest beneficiary of the growth in Android tablets, holding 20.4% market share during the third quarter, up from 12.4% a year ago. The South Korean company’s tablet shipments totaled 9.7 million units, growing by 123% compared to last year. Asustek was in third place with shipments up 53.9% to 3.5 million. Lenovo was in the fourth spot, with tablet shipments of 2.3 million, growing by a whopping 420.7%. Acer was in fifth place, with quarterly shipments growing by 346.3%.
While Apple is the solo tablet vendor with iOS, the sheer volume and spate of sub-$250 tablets has made Android a leading tablet OS, said Rhoda Alexander, director of tablet research at IHS.
PCs are becoming increasingly integrated, with SoC parts, quasi-tablet form factors, AIOs and a bunch of other trends conceived to reduce the fat. While PCs are becoming more like smartphones, Motorola thinks we need smartphones that will allow us to mix and replace components.
Project Ara is the name of project, led by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group, effectively Motrola’s equivalent of Lockheed’s Skunk Works. Motorola says it wants to do for hardware what Android did for software, but instead of creating a software ecosystem, it hopes to foster development of a third-party hardware ecosystem.
We must admit the first designs look rather impressive, although we’re not sure we’ll see Ara phones anytime soon. It also raises questions about cost and software compatibility – building a completely modular phone sounds rather expensive.
However, it also sounds insanely cool. Many users are still lamenting the lack of user-replaceable batteries and microSD slots on new smartphones, yet Ara could allow users to change practically everything. Motorola says users could swap out the screen, install an extra battery, keyboard, camera or just about anything else you can imagine.
Ara consists of an endoskeleton, which holds everything in place, and a range of replaceable modules. Here’s the kicker – although a completely modular phone could be pricey, it could also have a much longer product cycle, as it could easily be upgraded or repaired. Instead of buying a new phone, users could just upgrade their SoC, camera, or any other component – they could also reuse older modules with a new endoskeleton.
Best of all, it looks rather fun. It reminds us of the good old days, when every PC had a discrete sound card, modem, LAN card, but I guess we’re just old, nostalgic hacks.
However, turning the concept into reality won’t be easy and it will be pricey, although the phrase “shut up and take my money” comes to mind.
The Windows 8.1 launch didn’t get much attention, which probably has something to do with the fact that it’s basically Windows 8 done right. However, users of AMD APUs could have a good reason to celebrate.
According to AMD’s senior marketing manager Clarice Simmons, Windows 8.1 is a lot better than Windows 8 when it comes to harnessing the potential of AMD silicon. Writing in her blog, Simmons said the new OS could deliver performance gains of up to 9.5 percent on some PCs based on AMD APUs.
However, her numbers are for the A10-6800K and the 9.5 percent gain only applies to machines with an outdated video driver. With the same driver, the difference is actually 3.5 percent, which still isn’t bad but it’s not nearly as good as 9.5 percent.
“Our work with Microsoft includes development on the essential operating system “plumbing” that enables Windows to directly leverage AMD technology in order to run more efficiently. The two companies also cooperate on the development and tuning of the latest AMD video drivers,”wrote Simmons.
“Of course AMD’s fast CPU and GPU cores contribute to high performance, but having software that is optimized to take advantage of the AMD hardware architecture is a significant advantage. Tuning our device drivers to simultaneously suit AMD hardware, software applications, and Windows 8.1 makes systems more streamlined.”
Simmons also pointed out that AMD Wireless Display works better on Windows 8.1, due to better architectural implementation and support for Miracast, better ecosystem support and new solutions that enable the OS to tap low latency display encode paths available in Radeons.
The Lumia 1320 and Lumia 1520, revealed at the Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, both have 6-inch screens. The 1520 is the high-end model, with a full HD screen, LTE and a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor. The device has 32GB of storage, which can be expanded by another 64GB using a microSD card slot, something that has been missing from recent Nokia smartphones.
Nokia is leaning on its camera technology to differentiate its products from rivals. The Lumia 1520 has a 20-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. Nokia has also developed a new app called Camera that lets users access settings more easily, the company said.
The Lumia 1520 will start shipping this quarter in Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.S., China, the U.K., France, Germany and Finland. The price will be $749 before taxes and subsidies.
The Lumia 1320 will be cheaper at $339 before taxes and subsidies, but only has a dual-core processor and 720p screen resolution. It also has a simpler 5-megapixel camera, but users can still access the Internet using LTE. Nokia expects to start shipping it in the first quarter of 2014 in China and Vietnam, followed by other Asian markets, India and Europe.
The lower price will make the smartphone a good fit for the Chinese market, according to Pete Cunningham, principal analyst at Canalys.
Both devices will run a new version of Windows Phone 8 called General Distribution Release 3, to which Nokia has added enhancements such as its Camera app. The software will also be offered to users of existing Lumia devices via an update called Black.
Instagram and Vine will soon be available on Lumia devices too, Nokia announced. App availability is still Windows Phone’s Achilles heel, but the availability of those two third-party apps is a step in the right direction.
The tablet has Intel’s quad-core Atom chip code-named Bay Trail. Acer has priced a 64GB model at $379.99.
The tablet is for productivity, web browsing and video, Acer said. The W4 will succeed the Iconia W3, which was announced last year and was the first Windows 8 tablet with a screen size under 10 inches.
The W4 offers eight hours of battery life when watching movies, and 10 hours when browsing the web, Acer said. It weighs 415 grams (14.6 ounces) and is 10.75 millimeters (.42 inches) thick.
The device is slightly heavier and thicker than some Windows 8.1 tablets with 8-inch screens that have already been announced. Dell’s $299 Venue 8 Pro, Lenovo’s $299 Miix2 and Toshiba’s $329.99 Encore are the other announced 8-inch tablets that run on Bay Trail chips.
The Iconia W4 features are similar to other 8-inch tablets. The screen displays images at a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution. The W4 has a two-megapixel front camera and a 5-megapixel back camera. The tablet can be connected to a high-definition TV through an HDMI port.
Microsoft’s Office Home and Student 2013 Edition productivity suite is pre-installed. Acer will offer optional keyboard and cover accessories.
Depending on the country, Microsoft is shipping Windows 8.1 to consumers on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18. Users of the Iconia W3 tablet will be able to upgrade from Windows 8 to 8.1 through a free upgrade that will pushed to the tablet.
Imagination Technologies has unveiled its first CPU core based on a MIPS chip architecture, which the firm claims is 30 percent more efficient than rival Intel and ARM chips, with plans to deliver it to device makers by the end of the year.
Codenamed “Warrior”, Imagination’s P5600 chip is a 32-bit CPU and takes advantage of the MIPS Series 5 architecture, which is designed to accelerate compute-intensive applications, making it more efficient. It is designed for consumer electronics with an aim to challenge companies in the embedded and mobile markets.
Aimed at making the lives of code developers easier, some of the P5600 chip’s key features include 128-bit single instruction multiple data (SIMD) technology designed “for high performance on data parallel operations such as DSP, imaging and media”, hardware virtualisation and support for up to six cores per cluster.
The chip also offers some advanced addressing features, including “Extended Physical Addressing” (XPA), which allows a 32-bit system to access physical memory beyond the 32-bit limit, up to 1TB, or a 40-bit address space.
MIPS refers to a “Microprocessor without Interlocked Pipeline Stages” made by a company of the same name, MIPS Technologies, which was bought by Imagination Technologies in February.
Once upon a time, MIPS was the first port of call for those looking for a high performance chip architecture and featured in high-end consumer devices such as the PSOne and the PS2. The architecture lost favour over the last five or ten years, and is typically used in routers, cable modems, and smartcards. However, Imagination Technologies’ graphics chips are already used in many smartphones and tablets, including the iPhone and iPad, so its expected that the firm will help rekindle the use of MIPS in its fresh Warrior P-class – “P” for performance – CPU.
Imagination Technologies doesn’t manufacture the chip hardware. Like ARM, it develops the designs and licenses them to other chipmakers. Speaking to Imagination Technologies today, the firm told us that the integration of MIPS in the P5600 will not only bring a more efficient chip architecture to the market, but being licensable it will also give users more CPU choices, with a plan to grow “considerably” in the market in the coming years.
Imagination said the P5600 CPU is the first of a family of chips and will be available for licensing this quarter, which means that it should appear in consumer products in about 18 months. There are 64-bit chips to follow over the next 18 months or so, Imagination added.
Georg Lukas has penned a detailed post claiming that Google is using what he calls ‘horribly broken’ RC4 and MD5 as the default cipher on all SSL connections of Android devices.
He said that both both are extremely insecure as they are both broken and can be easily compromised, but what is odd is that Android used to use a pretty strong DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA ciphers till Android version 2.2.1. During the release of Android 2.3.4 when RC4 and MD5 were elevated as the default cipher and they are still being used on latest Android versions.
But it seems it was neither NSA spooks nor Google’s intention to weaken Android that was the reason for the dodgy promotion of RC4 and MD5. Lucas found that it was all Oracle’s fault. Google engineers were simply implementing what Java’s Reference Implementation (RI 6) were recommending.
Lucas further said the cipher order on the vast majority of Android devices was defined by Sun in 2002 and taken over into the Android project in 2010 as an attempt to improve compatibility. Question is how soon will it take Google to fix the problem, or will its chums in the NSA say that it can’t.
Microsoft detailed the improvements at an event it held in San Francisco for Yammer customers that kicks off its Working Social Tour, scheduled to land in up to 200 cities worldwide, including New York City, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo and Tokyo.
“It’s part of our push to connect with Yammer customers,” said Jared Spataro, general manager, Microsoft Office, in an interview. Attendees are expected to be both Yammer customers as well as those who are using Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud email and collaboration suite, which includes online versions of Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and Office.
Microsoft bought Yammer in mid-2012 for $1.2 billion in order to extend the enterprise social networking (ESN) capabilities of its SharePoint collaboration server and of other products in the Office family and beyond. Microsoft is in the process of integrating Yammer’s cloud suite with those products now.
The mobile improvements include a revamped iPad application and tweaks to the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 applications. The overhaul of the iPad app is supposed to simplify the user experience, while the Windows apps got improvements to live tiles and a better inbox.
Microsoft also deepened the interoperability between Yammer and email systems, making it possible for people to participate in Yammer group discussions through email messaging and without necessarily having a Yammer account.
Establishing bridges between Yammer and email is important because many customers are still trying to figure out the best way to use the ESN suite with email, according to Spataro.
“They’re looking for a mental model for how to use email and Yammer and how to think about those two worlds coming together because not everyone jumps on Yammer or enterprise social networking at the same time,” he said.
Unlike other vendors, Microsoft doesn’t see ESN suites as a replacement for email communications. “We believe they’re very complementary tools, that they can and should coexist, and that when used together they provide a very good, rounded experience,” Spataro said.
Microsoft has also started to add features to Yammer so that it can be used as a more structured tool for getting things done and managing tasks, not just as a social conversation meeting place, he said.
In addition, it’s now also possible to launch a Yammer conversation from an Office 365 document stored in SharePoint Online by hitting a “Post to Yammer” button. That way people can have discussions about the document on Yammer.
BlackBerry Ltd sought to reassure its leery customers and partners that it was financially stable and “here to stay,” even though it announced massive layoffs and sources say it is in talks to sell all or part of the company.
In an open letter published in 30 news outlets across nine countries, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company stressed that its customers can continue to count on BlackBerry and its products, despite the challenges it is facing and the changes it is undergoing.
BlackBerry’s products have struggled to compete against the likes of Apple Inc’s iPhone and the numerous devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.
A new line of smartphones that run on the BlackBerry 10 operating system has also failed to re-ignite sales, prompting the company last month to announce that it would slash its global workforce by more than a third.
“Our customers read a lot about BlackBerry these days, as we make the headlines quite often – this has created a lot of noise and confusion” Frank Boulben, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview.
“We want customers to know that they can continue to count on us – we are here to stay. We have substantial cash on our balance sheet and we have no debt. We are restructuring our cost base and this is a very painful transition, but it will make us financially stronger and we want to get that message directly to our customers.”
The open letter is being distributed via social media channels and was published in Tuesday’s edition of newspapers across the globe, including the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal in the United States, and the Globe and Mail and National Post in Canada.
The company’s future was further thrown into question after it announced this summer that it is weighing its options, including an outright sale.
Sources have told Reuters that the company is in talks with Cisco Systems, Google Inc and SAP about selling all or parts of itself. Such a deal would be an alternative to a preliminary, $9-a-share offer by a group being led by BlackBerry’s biggest investor, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
Last week, BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin also said that they are considering a bid to buy the smartphone maker.
Boulben said the uncertainty is the reason why BlackBerry is publishing the letter, which highlights the company’s strengths from its security offering to its device management capabilities and its mobile messaging platform.
“Whoever is interested in BlackBerry understands that the company has world class products and services. These are products and services that customers can continue to count on.”
Microsoft will deliver the new version of Windows Phone 8, called General Distribution Release 3, to existing phones over the coming months, Microsoft wrote in a blog post on Monday.
The first smartphones that can take full advantage of the update are likely to be announced next week at the Nokia World conference. Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Nokia’s phone division, a deal which was first announced at the beginning of September.
The addition of 1080p screens and support for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor should help close the hardware gap between the latest line of Android phones and high-end products based on Microsoft’s OS.
A new generation of Windows Phone-based devices will have 5- and 6-inch touch screens, according to Microsoft. They will compete with products like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the HTC One Max. The latter device has a 5.9-inch screen and was also announced on Monday.
The higher resolution on Windows Phone will leave room for up to six tiles across the Windows Phone start screen instead of four. Other updates include an improved Internet sharing feature; the ability to use customized ring tones for instant messages, emails, voicemails, and reminders; and a new rotation lock option to keep the screen fixed in one place.
Consumers will also be able to close apps from the App switcher and use Driving Mode while on the road, which lets them send automatic replies to people who call or text when sitting behind the wheel, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft also announced the Windows Phone Preview for Developers. The program gives developers early access to Windows Phone updates so they can verify that apps work as expected on the new code, the company said.
When is a blink not a natural blink? For Google the question has such ramifications that it has devoted a supercomputer to solving the puzzle.
Slashgear reports that the internet giant is using its $10 million quantum computer to find out how products like Google Glass can differentiate between a natural blink and a deliberate blink used to trigger functionality.
The supercomputer based at Google’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab is a joint venture with NASA and is being used to refine the algorithms used for new forms of control such as blinking. The supercomputer uses D-Wave chips kept at as near to absolute zero as possible, which makes it somewhat impractical for everyday wear but amazingly fast at solving brainteasers.
A Redditor reported earlier this year that Google Glass is capable of taking pictures by responding to blinking, however the feature is disabled in the software code as the technology had not advanced enough to differentiate between natural impulse and intentional request.
It is easy to see the potential of blink control. Imagine being able to capture your life as you live it, exactly the way you see it, without anyone ever having to stop and ask people to say “cheese”.
Google Glass is due for commercial release next year but for the many beta testers and developers who already have one this research could lead to an even richer seam of touchless functionality.
If nothing else you can almost guarantee that Q will have one ready for Daniel Craig’s next James Bond outing.