The top U.S. telecommunications regulator wants to make it more difficult for telemarketers and other businesses to robocall and text messages consumers under changes to autodialing rules being proposed.
The Federal Communications Commission plans to vote on June 18 on the proposal, which would give legal cover to telephone companies to offer consumers technologies that would block robocalls, regardless of where they originate.
“The FCC wants to make it clear: Telephone companies can – and in fact should – offer consumers robocall-blocking tools,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a blog post.
The wireless carriers have worried that blocking automated calls could be construed as violations of the law that requires them to ensure that all calls placed over their networks reach their intended recipients.
The proposal would also reassert that consumers have to agree to receive automated calls and texts and clarify that they can revoke their consent in any “reasonable” way, including a simple request for calls to stop, without the need to file convoluted paperwork.
Robocalls and robotexts are by far the most common cause of consumer complaints at the FCC, topping 215,000 in the last year alone. Consumer advocates and the majority of U.S. states attorneys general had pressed the FCC to clarify the robocall rules.
Numerous business associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have also pushed for clarifications, facing a growing number of lawsuits prompted by violations such as calling cellphone users whose numbers used to belong to someone else.
The FCC’s proposal would reassert that companies should try to avoid numbers reassigned to consumers who have not agreed to receive their calls. If they do not know that a number has been reassigned, they are allowed one call to find out.
The business community had also complained that some lawsuits unfairly target them for using dialing technologies that could be modified to become autodialers. FCC officials said any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers qualifies as an autodialer, even if it would require modification.
U.S. law prohibits telemarketing calls to both landline and cellphones of consumers who have not given written consent.
At Sony’s 2015 Investor Relations Day today, Sony Computer Entertainment president and global CEO Andrew House detailed the company’s strategy for the coming year, including how it will address some shortcomings.
House began his presentation on a positive note, talking up PlayStation 4 as “the fastest selling hardware platform in our history,” showing better-than expected growth and pushing PlayStation Plus subscriptions to twice what they were in fiscal year 2013. He said the company has a competitive advantage for the moment, and laid out three ways it hopes to maintain that. In addition to next year’s launch of the Project Morpheus virtual reality headset and continued cost reduction efforts, House said the company needs quality software.
“We are working very hard to continue very strong support from third-party pubs and devs,” House said. “Our first-party lineup is a little sparse this year, so I think this places even greater emphasis on getting good third-party support.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean exclusive third-party support. To date, House said Sony has been primarily trying to get multiplatform developers to simply take advantage of features the PS4 has over the competition, like SharePlay, or maybe include extra content in the PS4 version or give players early access to add-on content. Third-party exclusives are still an option, just not a frequently used one.
“I will admit that these are, in the current publishing landscape, few and far between, but we were able to announce a full exclusive around a franchise like Street Fighter so that Street Fighter 5 is a complete exclusive for PlayStation 4,” House said, adding, “Although given publishing dynamics and development costs, those are increasingly difficult to secure.”
House also talked about the decline in Sony’s other platforms. As much as the PS4′s growth has exceeded expectations, so too has the PlayStation 3′s decline. House said the system’s price simply isn’t as competitive in the market as the PlayStation 2 and PSone were after their successors launched, and added that the shift toward more connected console experiences has also made less capable offerings less attractive.
House also cast a dim view of the company’s handheld business. While he noted that the Vita platform remains “strong and vibrant” in Asia and Japan, his outlook for the current fiscal year included declines in the US and Europe. Additionally, he referred to the PlayStation Vita and its microconsole counterpart the PlayStation TV as “legacy platforms” when discussing a write-off of hardware components for the two.
“I would characterize 2015 as the beginning of a harvest period for the PlayStation 4 platform,” House said. “The beginning of a harvest period. That being said, we are also undertaking to invest in the future, and 2015 will also be a year of investment.”
That investment will be focused on a few areas. There’s the Morpheus, of course, as well as continued spend on original PlayStation entertainment content like the TV show Powers (which was recently greenlit for a second season). On top of that, House said Sony would be investing in the expansion of its PlayStation Vue television streaming platform and a continued re-architecture of its PlayStation Network with an eye toward increasing stability and reducing maintenance downtime.
The smartphone company in Waterloo, Ontario, said in a statement over the weekend that it had decided to consolidate its device software, hardware and applications business, “impacting a number of employees around the world.”
The company said that as it moves into the next stage of its turnaround, it aims to reallocate resources in ways that will “best enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities while driving toward sustainable profitability across all facets of our business.”
The company had 6,225 full-time employees as of Feb. 28 this year, the end of its last fiscal year.
BlackBerry launched in the fiscal year four new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, including the Classic, Passport, Z3 and the Porsche Design P’9983, but the share of the BlackBerry OS has been on the decline, and was 0.3 percent of the market in the first quarter of this year, according to research firm IDC.
The company is trying to expand in new businesses beyond devices, such as enterprise markets and security. It launched, for example, BES12, a cross-platform enterprise mobility management technology, and announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics to integrate BES12 with Galaxy smartphones and tablets that are embedded with Samsung’s Knox security technology. It also unveiled the BlackBerry IoT Platform, initially targeting the automotive and asset tracking industries, in a bid to get a share of the market for small wirelessly-connected devices.
BlackBerry said in March it was completing its transition to an operating unit organizational structure consisting of the device business, enterprise services, business technology and messaging, as it builds its higher margin businesses.
Red Hat’s community arm, has announced the arrival of Fedora 22, the latest version of its open source Linux OS.
Coming in three editions, Fedora Cloud, Fedora Server and Fedora Workstation, the release, which first appeared in beta a month ago, marks the first biannual release since the major upgrade work that proceeded Fedora 21.
As well as the cross-edition basics of the kernel, RPM, systems and Anaconda, there is an updated package manager, with speedier results for DNF and continued command line compatibility with Yum.
The Cloud edition adds Atomic Command, a centralized hub for containers and hosts, with rp-ostree, Cockpit, Docker and Kubernetes all getting the upgrade treatment.
There are also Vagrant boxes for the Cloud edition and Atomic host, making it easier to spin up Fedora Vagrant boxes for development and testing.
The server edition, with its Rolekit Linux daemon, adds support for Database Server Role based on PostgreSQL. The system now defaults to the more efficient XFS file system which means fewer crashes and better recovery without downtime.
The Workstation version has an enhanced UI, with better bug notification, and desktop theming for Gnome. There’s an improved software finder, and enhancements to the remote machine and visualization apps. Plus there’s Vagrant compatibility with no extra runtimes of software needed.
Matthew Miller, Fedora Project leader, commented: “Fedora 22 continues the great groundwork laid by Fedora 21 and the Fedora.next initiative, delivering three unique editions of Fedora 22 while retaining the commitment to open source innovation for which Fedora is known.
“From the usability and developer enhancements in Fedora 22 Workstation to the expansion of Linux container and Docker support within Fedora 22 Cloud, Fedora remains a leader within the Linux vanguard, answering user needs above and beyond the desktop.”
Canadian wearable tech company Recon is on the verge of being bought by Intel.
The dark satanic rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which suggests that Intel wants the Vancouver-based startup, which builds heads-up displays and other sports products.
In 2013 Intel Capital, made a “significant investment” in the company which supported Recon’s product development, marketing, and global sales expansion.
At the time Mike Bell Intel’s Vice President and General Manager of the New Devices Group said that Recon Instruments had compelling technology and a solid strategy to capitalize on the wearable revolution.
It looks like he was right. Recon has been quietly cornered the sport and outdoor wearable HUD market since its first product launch in 2010.
Now it seems that all the risk has gone out of it, and the outfit has some sensible tech, Intel can set about writing a check for the firm.
The OS will be in the spotlight at Google’s massive I/O conference in San Francisco later this week. As well as pushing into home appliances, it could also be extended to play a deeper role in virtual reality, allowing Android developers to build apps for smartphones or VR headsets.
Google hasn’t confirmed any of those plans yet, but as usual, the rumor mill has been in motion. Extending Android to even more devices could help Google draw more people to its online services, and by putting the software in home appliances, Google could gather further valuable insights into people’s behavior.
Google already has its Works with Nest program, which lets appliances talk to its thermostat and smoke alarm for certain energy-related tasks. But according to a report last week in The Information, Google is developing new technology called Brillo that will run on low-powered devices independent of Nest with as little as 64MB or 32MB of memory.
That means just about any appliance around the home — the lights, the air conditioner, a Crock-Pot — could be running Brillo and hooked up to the Web, so you could control them remotely from a smartphone or a PC. It’s a well-worn path that Microsoft and many other vendors also are treading, as they try to provide software and connectivity for tomorrow’s Internet of Things.
At I/O, Google may also push Android deeper into virtual reality. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was developing a VR version of Android.
There will likely be a version of Android that runs virtual reality applications. Such a system could make it easier for developers to use the sensors and other capabilities in smartphones to create VR apps, or else support multiple displays for an immersive experience. The Google I/O schedule lists some sessions focused on designing and developing VR apps.
For years people have been moaning that Firefox keeps taking their RAM and refusing to give it back, well now it appears that Chrome suffers from a similar problem.
Chrome creates a new process for each tab and instance of the browser opened. This can make the browser sluggish on some machines and a battery life nightmare for mobile users.
However Google is aware of the problem and is coming up with a fix, Speaking during a Reddit AMA session a Chrome for Android engineer said: “We are actively working on reducing battery usage and we are looking into when Chrome is in the foreground and in the background.”
“Since its inception Chrome has been focusing on security and performance of the web across all supported platforms. Performance sometimes has come at the cost of resource usage, but given the importance of the mobile platform this is one of the top things we are looking into.”
On the desktop side, Google is currently trying to fight memory leaks: “We are profiling Chrome to improve our start-up speed and proactively fighting memory bloat and memory leaks. For example, this year the first gesture latency and mean input latency has decreased steadily.”
According to Digitimes, heading into the second quarter of 2015, Taiwan touch panel makers have sudden got conservative outlooks and some are even predicting that their revenues will drop another 15-20 per cent.
he reason is that consumers don’t want game changing tablets and despite the claim that they are moving over to phablets instead the smartphone market is still pretty pants.
While Taiwan’s overall shipments are expected to grow in the second quarter, with makers expected to ship 41.579 million smartphone-use touch panels, increasing 23.5 per cent on quarter but decreasing 22.3 per cent on year. The 8.941 million tablet-use units, are up 7.2 per cent on quarter but down 15 per cent on year.
Tablet makers are hurting the most. Those who focus on the application such as TPK are expected to see a 15-20 per cent decline in revenues during the second quarter before rebounding in the second half of the year when product mixes are adjusted and new orders from customers arrive.
Young Fast Optoelectronics company chairman Pai Chih-chiang said that they were also having to face price competition and this will get worse.
Young Fast aims to reduce spending and cut costs in order to react to this trend, which arose largely due to competition from China. The company will also focus on developing larger-size products in addition to wearable solutions while increasing utilization rates, said Pai, adding it will lower its emphasis on consumer-based products.
Intel is just about to release a new version of Thunderbolt, just as its most major customer – Apple, has dropped the technology from its 12-inch MacBook.
Intel has hinted that it will reveal the “next generation of Thunderbolt” at a press event to be held next month at the Computex trade show in Taipei.
The latest version of Thunderbolt, version 2.0, can transfer data at speeds up to 20Mbps (bits per second), which is twice as fast as the latest USB 3.1.
Chipzilla has been working on a new chipset with more integrated components and we are expecting to see some new toys that will plug into it at the June 1 event.
Intel has been trying to speed up Thunderbolt data transfers, and has said data transfers could reach up to 50Gbps with the help of its emerging silicon photonics technology.
The driving force for a faster Thunderbolt connector could emerge with 8K video. This will appear in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 OS. Consumer electronics makers are backing the development of a new connector technology called SuperMHL, which will run through USB cables and could kill off any chance that Thunderbolt has.
Thunderbolt peripherals cost a bomb, and many PC makers have passed on the technology particularly for Windows PCs where people tend to be a little more practical. It seems that even the Apple market, where you can charge $1000 for a turd with an Apple logo on it is also shying away from Thunderbolt.
Computex will also have Intel showing off its USB Type-C 3.1, which is considered primary competition to Thunderbolt. The technology is more versatility than Thunderbolt as it can recharge laptops and be a connector for a wide variety of peripherals. The Type-C cables also look the same on both ends, so users don’t have to worry about plug orientation.
China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, known for its telecom equipment, became the latest tech giant to present its own take on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), centered on an operating system designed to allow household and business appliances to communicate with each other online.
At an event in Beijing, Huawei executives showcased its “Agile IoT” architecture, including an operating system called LiteOS to control basic devices. This marks the firm’s most significant push into a sector that has lured heavyweights from Google Inc to Intel Corp and IBM into pushing their own standards and communication protocols.
Huawei executives touted Agile architecture as a free and open standard that would allow hardware designers to easily make connectable devices. Aside from its operating system, Huawei also showed off fully customizable wireless equipment that could be installed in business settings.
“Standardizing infrastructure will foster the development of Internet applications, including ‘IoT’ applications,” said Huawei’s chief strategy and marketing officer William Xu.
Huawei’s latest expansion comes at a time when consumer-oriented firms such as Xiaomi Inc and Apple Inc, anticipating an explosion of Internet-connected home appliances and consumer devices, have sought to build ecosystems around their popular handsets.
Last month, Tencent Holdings Ltd unveiled its own operating system for Internet-connected devices such as TVs and watches that is open to all developers, taking on domestic rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, JD.com Inc and Xiaomi Inc in the smart hardware space.
The Zenfone 2, which has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, starts at $199. It will began shipping on Tuesday with Google’s Android 5.0 mobile operating system.
A model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage goes for $299, while the $199 model has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The smartphone is shipping as an unlocked device, meaning it will work with multiple carriers.
It has an Intel 64-bit Atom Z3580 processor code-named Moorefield and a PowerVR G6430 graphics processor, which is capable of handling 1080p video rendering.
The Zenfone 2 has a 5-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as two SIM slots.
Asus wants to make a mark in the U.S, and with this smartphone it hopes to find an audience, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, during a press event in New York.
The ZenFone 2 is already shipping in 15 countries worldwide. For the U.S. market, Asus has tweaked the smartphone with some new features including a better LTE modem.
Other features include 802.11ac wireless and LTE-Advanced capabilities. The device supports carrier aggregation, and LTE data transfers can touch up to 250M bps (bits per second).
This is also a big product release for Intel. The Zenfone is the second smartphone in the U.S. that uses one of its chips. It’s also Intel’s first smartphone in the U.S. with the XMM 7260 LTE modem. An Intel chip is already being used on Asus’s Padfone X Mini, which is primarily a 4.5-inch smartphone that turns into a 7-inch tablet with an accessory.
Apple, which has been focusing efforts on beefing up its mapping technology since ditching Google Maps in 2012, has acquired Coherent Navigation, a startup offering a high-accuracy GPS navigation service.
Coherent’s navigation system is used in the Iridium satellite network, according to the LinkedIn profile of Paul Lego, who was CEO of the company before going to work for Apple. Coherent, which was founded in 2008 and is based in the San Francisco area, counts the U.S. government as a customer and had been aiming its technology at the mining, construction, energy and agriculture industries. Coherent had fewer than 10 employees, according to its LinkedIn page, which states that the company “has ceased operations.”
Coherent joins a string of businesses Apple has purchased in recent years to beef up its mapping service. Until 2012, Apple’s mapping technology was based on Google Maps. Other mapping and location companies Apple has acquired include PlaceBase, Locationary and BroadMap.
In a statement released to the media, Apple said it occasionally purchases small companies and doesn’t discuss its acquisition plans. The timing, price and terms of the deal, which was first reportedby MacRumors, weren’t disclosed.
However, several former Coherent executives became Apple employees in recent months. Coherent CEO Paul Lego began working at Apple in January while co-founders William Bencze and Brent Ledvina joined the company in April, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Lego is on the Maps Team and Bencze and Ledvina work on location technologies.
The war of words between Imagination and ARM is starting to become more colourful with the head of Imagination Technologies dubbing his rival a “big gorilla .”
Hossein Yassaie has accused ARM Holdings of exploiting its monopoly for chip designs that power the world’s electronic devices.
What is interesting is that both companies are British and both seem to be headed on a collision course.
Imagination moved into ARM’s heartland of producing central processing units (CPUs) for devices such as smartphones when it bought MIPS, of the United States, two years ago. It is better known for its PowerVR mobile graphics processors which are under the bonnet of the iPhones and MIPSembedded microprocessors.
But Hossein playing the monopoly card appears to be setting his company up as the little guy trying to take on a bigger rival.
Imagination Technologies announced the Warrior architecture in 2013 and was expected to push MIPS’ reach from embedded devices like routers and into smartphones and tablets. Nothing happened and Yassaie thinks it will take a big MIPS design win to get his outfit’s foot in the door.
He said that he had to keep such releases to himself because everytime Imagination makes an announcement ARM tends to focus on it.
Hossein has stated before that that ARM has managed to get where it is because it ran a monopoly but with MIPS it has that.
MIPS is getting traction, particularly from the likes of Google supporting 64-bit MIPS chips in Android L but it still has a long way to go.
ARM dominates the mobile SOC market, and Intel is fast becoming the second player in that market with its x86 designs like its Core M and Cherry Trail Atom. If anything Intel has more monopoly experience than ARM meaning that Imagination has to tackle an actual monopoly and someone who is used to establishing one.
What it will have to do is come up with a decent pricing strategy to kill off the rivals once and for all.
AT&T Inc is preparing to bring connected car users exclusive content such as videos and games that can be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year, AT&T’s senior vice president of emerging devices Chris Penrose said.
“It’s no different than being able to hook onto a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere and get access to content you already subscribe to and get unique content that you could only get in the back of the vehicle,” Penrose said.
AT&T has signed up eight automaker partners, including General Motors Co, Audi AG and Ford Motor Co, to hook up cars with Internet access. The goal is to offer free or paid content exclusively for connected car users and sell more data, Penrose said in a recent interview.
AT&T is talking to its auto industry partners and content companies to bring new content like “special” shows or gaming levels on phones and tablets in connected cars, Penrose said. This would be in addition to subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix that users can already stream on mobile devices.
Most Americans already own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning to connected cars and devices for growth. Besides being the essential pipes that deliver data, telecom players such as AT&T are looking to extract revenue from content.
GM has begun testing new content on its OnStar in-vehicle service best known for connecting drivers to live operators for directions or emergency help.
The subscription-based service, which also sells data to drivers, has special offers and some exclusive content on apps such as Famigo, an educational app for kids, and TumblebooksTV, a children’s digital books app. It also has retail partnerships with Dunkin’ Donuts and travel booking site Priceline.com for location-based deals.
AT&T is exploring business models that include revenue share for data, content and advertising with automakers, content and retail partners, Penrose said without sharing specific details.
AT&T is working with automakers to design a landing page or a portal for users to log in to access content, get vehicle service updates and buy data, he said.
The dumping of Apple shares by top hedge funds is continuing to gather speed and now even the Tame Apple Press is noticing.
Reuters took time out from its busy schedule of promoting Apple producst to report the surprise news that Top US hedge fund management firms, including Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors and Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management, continued to reduce or slash stakes altogether in Apple during the first quarter.
We say surprise news, but we had noticed it when it actually happened.
Coatue cut its holding of Apple by selling 1.2 million shares during the first three months of this year, but it remains the fund’s single biggest U.S. stock investment, with 7.7 million shares. Omega Advisors sold all of its 383,790 shares in Apple during the first quarter, while Rothschild Asset Management cut its stake by 107,953 to 938,693 shares, filings showed on Friday.
David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital also cut its exposure in Apple during the first quarter, slashing its stake by 1.2 million shares to 7.4 million shares.
Reuters cannot understand why the hedge funds are dumping their shares. Apple shares rose 12.7 percent in the first quarter and have continued to increase, it moaned.
But the reality is that if hedge funds listened to what fanboys wanted they would not be making the huge amounts of dosh they do. Objectively Apple’s markets have peaked, sales of Tablets have slumped, its iPhone market is stable but has no real momentum and above all it has yet to come up with a new idea.