India has squashed a plan by Apple Inc to import used iPhones, according to a government official, dealing a blow to the U.S. tech giant that has been seeking to revive waning sales of its flagship smartphones.
Apple sells what it calls refurbished iPhones at a discount in some countries, including the United States. Extending this practice to India would have likely helped it increase its share in one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets against competitors with much cheaper offerings.
But India, which is pushing a ‘Make in India’ initiative to boost the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector, rejected the proposal citing rules against importing used electronics.
“India does not encourage dumping or recycling of hazardous materials,” NN Kaul, a spokesman for the telecom ministry said.
Apple’s proposal was opposed by domestic phone makers who claim selling refurbished iPhones – devices that have been returned by buyers or repaired to factory condition after damage – would breach India’s anti-dumping rules. The Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association had written to India’s telecom ministry to stall the move.
An Apple spokeswoman in Singapore did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The news comes at a time when Apple posted its first-ever drop in iPhone sales amid weakness in China, its most important market after the United States.
In India, Apple only has about a 2 percent market share but its sales there surged 56 percent in the first three months, driven mainly by cheaper older-generation devices such as the iPhone 5S while demand for the new iPhone SE disappointed.
“The 5S’ success in India has more to do with affordability of a premium brand than a preference for smaller phones, and the move to the more expensive SE will discourage budget buyers,” said Wilmer Ang, an analyst at research firm Canalys.
The newly launched iPhone SE retails at 39,000 rupees ($585) in India – almost $200 higher than its U.S. price.
Alexa is the cloud-based system that controls the Amazon Echo, a speaker system launched by Amazon in 2014 that has emerged as a surprise hit. “Alexa” is the name the device responds to when users make requests, such as “turn on radio.”
Amazon and TrackR declined to comment on the size of the investment.
Like Apple Inc’s Siri and Google’s Google Now, Alexa is designed to answer questions or take other actions in response to simple voice queries.
Unlike its rivals, Amazon allows non-Amazon devices to integrate Alexa technology. The investment in TrackR came through Amazon’s $100 million “Alexa Fund,” which invests in and supports technologies that broaden Alexa’s abilities.
Santa Barbara, California-based TrackR uses Bluetooth technology to help track lost items. Users put a small chip on an item, such as a wallet or TV remote, and can order those products to make a sound through their phone so that they can be found.
If a TrackR customer loses an item out of Bluetooth reach, any TrackR user can connect to the device using the company’s network to alert the owner of the lost item.
The Alexa partnership will give the TrackR service a voice response capability and will also integrate in the other direction and enable people to find their lost items via the Echo.
“The ability to bring on more partners and realize that you are building an entire ecosystem – I think that is what was really important for us,” said Chris Herbert, who co-founded TrackR with friend Christian Smith in 2009.
TrackR raised $8.7 million last year in a Series A round led by Foundry Group.
Amazon has made roughly 15 investments so far through the Alexa Fund, including The Orange Chef, which helps connect kitchen prep devices, and Garageio, which makes a connected garage door opener.
The smartphone market has hit a bit of a lull. Sure, they’ve got bigger and faster (that’s what she said) but it’s been hard to get really excited about new phones recently beyond the fact that, well, they’re new.
The iPhone 7 may – or may not – change this, but it’s more likely to be a new design, a slightly faster processor and maybe a new iOS version.
But what if we look further into the future, say 2020 or 2021, and devices like the iPhone 9 or Galaxy S9? What will hit the market then to get excited about? Mind-control text capabilities? Full 360-degree video filming? Bendable screens? Week-long battery life?
Well, let’s start with the battery. Sadly, week-long battery life on a smartphone seems unlikely even by 2020, as Dr Kevin Curran, reader in Computer Science at Ulster University and a senior member of the IEEE, explained to the INQUIRER.
“On average, we only see improvements in capacity of six per cent per annum. So by 2020 we can only really expect a 25 per cent improvement in battery life,” he said.
However, while 25 per cent may sound good, Curran warned that these improvements tend to be offset by the fact the battery has to work harder as devices get more powerful and have higher density pixel displays.
Headlines proclaim major breakthroughs with battery technology, but Curran believes it’s unlikely that battery life will improve significantly, although there is work being done to change this.
“There are promising breakthroughs with regards to lithium-sulphur, supercapacitors, hydrogen fuel cells, solid state batteries and others, but history should tell us to be cautious about any new dramatic claims in having solved the problem of packing energy into a battery,” he said.
OK, so forget battery life. Surely there must be other new and exciting features to look forward to? Well, one technology is thermal imaging.
This was actually unveiled recently on the Cat S60 (pictured below), and Curran believes that other manufacturers will add this to their phones in time.
“This allows for a multitude of use cases, including detecting heat loss around windows and doors, spotting moisture and missing insulation, identifying over-heating electrical appliances and circuitry, and seeing in complete darkness,” he explained.
“This additional sensor allows much better control and depth in the photos you can take,” Curran added.
Meanwhile, analyst house CCS Insight has predicted that wireless charging will be standard by 2020, given that Apple is likely to include this technology in the iPhone 7. That should save scrabbling around for charging points.
Google’s attempts to safeguard the Android app store — Google Play — are far from perfect, with malicious apps routinely slipping through its review process. Such was the case for multiple phishing applications this year that posed as client apps for popular online payment services.
Researchers from security firm PhishLabs claim that they’ve found 11 such applications since the beginning of 2016 hosted on Google Play, most of them created by the same group of attackers.
The apps are simple, yet effective. They load Web pages containing log-in forms that look like the target companies’ websites. These pages are loaded from domain names registered by the attackers, but because they are loaded inside the apps, users don’t see their actual location.
In some cases attackers registered domain names that are similar to those of the impersonated online payment services, PhishLab Security Threat Analyst Joshua Shilko said in a blog post.
More recently, attackers used domain names similar to those of cryptocurrency companies, suggesting that the cryptocurrency industry is also targeted.
PhishLabs did not name the exact payment card companies and online payment services whose users were targeted by these fake apps. However, most of those companies provide links to their official mobile applications on their websites and users should always use those links instead of manually searching for them on the Play store.
“In one case, a targeted company explicitly states on their website that no mobile application exists for their company and that users should be wary of any mobile application using their brand,” Shilko said.
The danger is that if phishers manage to routinely bypass Google’s review process and upload such apps to the Google Play store, their attacks might extend to other industries in the future.
Another problem is that even when these apps are detected by third-parties and reported, it can take several days for Google to remove them from the app store, leaving a sufficiently large window of opportunity for attackers. It’s not clear how attackers promote these fake apps or if they rely only on users finding them themselves, but in general phishing attacks are most effective during the first several hours after they’re launched.
Vevo might be the new MTV for millennials, who might not know MTV that played music a few decades ago. Vevo CEO Erik Huggers had an interview at a Hunter Walk blog talking about YouTube, subscription base and the future.
Vevo CEO, ex Intel and ex BBC executive Erik Huggers mentioned that the Vevo will get a subscription based service but for the time being the company will stay with add supported content. Huggers first worked first on the iBBC player and later at Intel OnCue, then Verizon before getting the Vevo CEO.
The company has announced a new Apple TV, iOS and Android applications for people who like to watch the content on the TV console or their tablets and phones. Huggers mentioned that Vevo was getting 17 billion unique views per month. He said that if you are musician you will prefer Spotify for audio streaming and Vevo to YouTube, and here is why.
Peter Mensch, the manager of bands including Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse told a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the music business:
“YouTube, they’re the devil. We don’t get paid at all.”
The BBC quoted him saying that YouTube was killing the record industry.
There is now way you can say it better than this, Mensch obviously knows what he is talking about. When we dug a bit deeper into the issue, bands have issues with complete albums being uploaded to YouTube. The big bands don’t get paid at all, at least according to Peter Mensch.
Vevo might turn its back to YouTube, despite its current business model where the company uses YouTube to distribute its videos. We see a big change coming. Artists are obviously not happy as people are ripping their stuff and not paying.
Online publishing was an area where big mistakes were made 20 + years ago. Online magazines usually rely on marketing, same as YouTube, but it seems that YouTube, Facebook and other big social based website make a lot of money and giving YouTubers and artists pennies.
Huggers believes Vevo can offer a tailored experience which is personalised for individuals who love music videos via various channels including Apple TV or mobile applications. Imagine if Vevo starts offering exclusive concert footage of your favourite bands, this would probably be worth of a few bucks a month, wouldn’t it?
Billionaire activist investor and Apple cheerleader Carl Icahn has dumped his entire stake in Apple because he thinks the writing is on the wall for the tech company.
Icahn has been a big fan of Apple since he started investing three years ago. He has also made a fortune out of his investment. But he said that Apple’s glory days could be over because the company has become too dependent on the whims of the Chinese government.
Icahn, who owned 45.8 million Apple shares at the end of last year, said China’s economic slowdown and worries about how China could become more prohibitive in doing business triggered his decision to exit his position entirely.
He said that there was nothing wrong with Apple’s management and it was still a great company, “but you worry a little bit, maybe more than a little, about China’s attitude.”
He said that the Chinese government could “come in and make it very difficult for Apple to sell there,” Icahn said.
Earlier this month, China shut down Apple’s iTunes movies and iBooks stores within the country, following Beijing’s introduction of regulations in March imposing strict curbs on online publishing, particularly for foreign firms.
Icahn said that Apple stock is still pretty cheap but China could be a shadow for it. He would have to look closely at what was happening in China before he bought another Apple share.
To be fair Icahn said that he had made $2 billion off the Apple trade and got a 48 percent to 50 percent total return which is not bad.
Apple shares have now declined more than 10 percent this week.
There more evidence that tablets were never the game-changer that Steve Jobs tried to peddle them as, and were just the keyboardless netbooks we said they were.
IDC siad that for the first quarter of 2016, overall worldwide tablet shipments fell to 39.6 million, a 14.7 percent drop from the same period a year ago, However the only part of the segment which did ok were tablets with keyboards – or as we used to call them, netbooks.
IDC said that the decline of ordinary tablets was partly due to traditional first-quarter slumps but also a complete lack of interest on the part of customers.
Traditional tablets accounted for 87.6 percent of all tablet shipments. But tablets that come with detachable keyboards increased of more than 4.9 million units last quarter. That was a gain of 120 percent from the same period last year and an all-time high for tablets with detachable keyboards.
Tablets are dying because more people are buying big-screened phones as an alternative. You remember Fablets? They were what Steve Jobs claimed would never work because they prefered smaller smartphones or bigger tablets. In fact he was talking rubbish and was trying to keep his keyboardless netbook idea going.
IDC said that the newer tablets don’t offer enough new features to entice people to upgrade. After all tablets were always looking for an app which made them useful, which never arrived.
To counteract the downturn, more manufacturers are turning to tablets with detachable keyboards that can thus serve as laptops – on otherwords returning to the netbooks that the Tablets were said to replace.
“With the PC industry in decline, the detachable market stands to benefit as consumers and enterprises seek to replace their aging PCs with detachables,” IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in a statement.
Apple saw its shipments and market share drop but remained in first place. Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the new 256GB storage option for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro are “healthy additions” to the lineup, IDC said. Samsung also saw its shipments and market share decline. Though the Samsung Galaxy Tab lineup is still popular, its detachable TabPro S is dead in the water thanks to its $900 price tag.
Amazon has found success with its starting-at-$49 Fire, showing that consumers will still buy bargain-priced tablets. Missing from the list was Microsoft in spite of the popularity of its Surface Pro products, which start at $900.
“The Surface line is great. But it’s tough to drive volume in the first quarter. Prices of Surface products are fairly high, but Microsoft is in the top five list for tablets with detachable keyboards. The top five for tablets as a whole is a tougher nut to crack given the large slate volumes compared to detachables.”
Television stations have agreed to sell off 126MHz of premium wireless spectrum to mobile carriers in an ongoing U.S. Federal Communications Commission auction, potentially bringing higher speeds and more reliable networks to customers.
The 126MHz of spectrum was the highest amount anticipated by the FCC in the so-called incentive auction, agency officials said Friday. In most areas of the country, the agency will be able to auction 10 blocks of 10MHz to mobile carriers and other interested bidders.
This low-band spectrum, in the 600MHz band, is highly coveted by mobile carriers because it can cover long distances and penetrate walls and other obstacles. Mobile carriers have pushed for more spectrum as their customers’ network use keeps growing, and the low-band spectrum will help carriers roll out faster 5G service, supporters say.
FCC officials didn’t release the number of TV stations that agreed to give up their spectrum, but they said the number was significant. Participating TV stations can either move their over-the-air signals to other spectrum or go off the air in exchange for a share of the auction proceeds. The auction could raise $60 billion, according to some estimates.
“Robust broadcaster participation is key to the success” of the auction, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “Today’s announcement reflects the voluntary decision by many broadcasters that this auction truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The auction will lead to “vast economic and consumer benefits,” Wheeler added.
Mobile trade group CTIA applauded the amount of spectrum that will be available. The trade group is “is encouraged to see so much interest in the FCC’s incentive auction, which will play a critical role in making spectrum available for 4G LTE and 5G technologies,” CTIA president and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement.
The reverse-auction phase, in which TV stations will solicit bids for their available spectrum, begins May 31.
Lenovo owned Motorola has been slapped with a $5m class action lawsuit over allegations of shoddy customer service and not honoring warranty policies.
News of the lawsuit comes via Trusted Reviews, which learned this week that the complaint was filed against Motorola on 21 April in Illinois, accusing the company of “unfair, unscrupulous, immoral and oppressive” business practices.
The lawsuit’s main plaintiff, Douglas Lynch, decided to take legal action after a long-drawn out battle over a Moto 360 repair. He contacted Motorola for a replacement after the backplate of his smartwatch cracked, and was informed that a replacement would take four days to reach him.
The replacement failed to arrive, and Lynch was eventually sent a Moto 360 two months later that was a cheaper model than the one he had purchased.
Lynch isn’t alone in having a bad experience with Motorola. Girard Gibbs LLP, one of the law firms handling the case, told Trusted Reviews that Motorola owes “thousands of people” compensation.
This is evident on Reddit, where pissed off Motorola customers have flocked to tell similar stories.
One Redditor said: ”I have had some of the worst support from them on my Moto G 3rd gen I bought last year.
“I tried to buy an extended warranty plan they supposedly offered, but their website was so jankedy that even after a few escalations over a FEW MONTHS to various higher ups in their support department with no resolution to the problem I finally just gave up and decided to never buy a Motorola phone again.”
Another added: “Wish someone would do the same in the UK as they wouldn’t replace my 6 month old 360 and I ended up having to pay about £120 to get it fixed when it was a hardware problem.”
Esfand Nafisi, an attorney at Girard Gibbs LLP, explained that the actual compensation owed is “likely higher” than the $5m referred to in the original filing, adding: “We want these issues to be resolved for all consumers.”
Motorola said in a statement: “Motorola has a long history of providing exceptional products and services to its customers. We are aware of the lawsuit, and are investigating the claims, which we believe to be without merit.”
Intel this week unveiled plans to make an upgraded USB Type-C connector that would enable audio input and output, potentially replacing the long-standard 3.5 millimeter headphone jack used in today’s electronic devices.
Intel, which revealed its plans during a lecture at its Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in Shenzhen, China, also believes USB Type-C would simplify connections of multi-channel audio equipment to various devices.
Unlike the traditional 3.5mm analogue audio jack, a USB Type-C interface could charge a device in addition to transmitting sound and data. For example, it could transfer health and fitness data from a mobile device.
The USB Type-C connectors are reversible, so orientation isn’t an issue when plugging something into a device. The USB 3.1 Gen1 specification offers up to 5Gbps of data throughput; the Gen2 specification offers up to 10Gbps.
USB Type-C cables and connectors would replace the last analog receptacles on computers and mobile devices. Intel’s strategy was first reported by AnandTech.
In Intel’s presentation, it described USB C-Type connectors as being able to support both analog and digital musical content. But the upgraded connector would “promote” a changeover from analog to digital as users would see “improved digital headset features.”
A USB Type-C connector that supports audio feeds would also enable new form-factors, improve user experience and “provide a future path for USB technologies,” Intel said in the presentation.
The Gear 360 will initially be available only in South Korea and Singapore, a company representative said. A U.S. shipping date hasn’t been announced. In Korea, it will cost 399,000 won (US$347).
The camera, a bit larger than a golf ball, is Samsung’s bid to get consumers involved in creating virtual-reality content instead of just consuming it.
“We think 2016 is shaping up to be the year of VR,” said Andrew Dickerson, director of software engineering for Samsung VR, in a keynote presentation at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco.
The camera will have two 180-degree fisheye lenses back to back and will stitch together the video from each for a 360-degree view. With a total of 30 megapixels of resolution, it will provide 4K video quality. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones will link directly to the Gear 360 to act as live viewfinders.
VR is a key part of Samsung’s combined hardware, software and services strategy. The Gear 360 will join the Gear VR viewer and the recently announced Milk VR service for authoring and sharing content as part of the company’s plan to expand in this area.
In the next few years, Samsung expects to deliver a “holodeck” experience, said Injong Rhee, executive vice president and head of R&D for software and services. He was referring to the virtual environment used on the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
That experience will be truly immersive and allow users to roam around a physical space. It will make use of capabilities like gesture tracking to allow users to feel they are touching virtual objects, he said. To do this, the company is working to overcome problems including poor image quality, insufficient computing power, the heavy weight and restricted mobility of VR headsets, and the dizziness some users experience, Rhee said.
Nintendo has confirmed that its next-gen console, the Nintendo NX, will launch in March 2017.
Causing many to screw up their Christmas lists, the company told shareholders during its earnings call on Tuesday: “For our dedicated video game platform business, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed ‘NX’ with a brand-new concept. NX will be launched in March 2017 globally.”
Probably also causing some to cancel a trip to Los Angeles, Nintendo said that the NX will not be demonstrated at the upcoming E3 video games conference in June, despite speculation that Sony plans to show off its so-called PlayStation 4.5 console.
Nintendo’s keynote at the games show will focus instead on the next Legend of Zelda game, which will launch simultaneously on the Wii U and Nintendo NX in 2017. Rumour has it that Smash Bros 4, Splatoon and Super Mario Maker are all set to receive an NX makeover too.
A launch is now less than a year away, but we still don’t know much about the Nintendo NX, which Nintendo confirmed this week is just a codename for the incoming console. However, rumour claims that it will arrive as a hybrid between a home console and a mobile games console to sit alongside the New Nintendo 3DS.
Nintendo president and CEO Tatsumi Kimishima reiterated in December last year that the company is “not building the next version of Wii or Wii U” and that the device will be something “unique and different”.
News of the Nintendo NX’s launch date no doubt came as the firm looked to play down the fact that its profits fell 61 per cent year over year. Worked, didn’t it?
After experiencing its first-ever drop in iPhone sales, Apple Inc sought to reassure investors by saying its latest and cheapest model was in strong demand after being launched in late March. Some retailers and suppliers in Asia aren’t so sure.
In a Reuters survey of 10 retailers in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, seven – including four Apple Stores – reported solid early demand, but three third-party retailers said sales were weak. Two suppliers of components for Apple phones, including the new iPhone SE, said they were seeing lower orders.
“I’ve been dealing with iPhones for five to six years now. This current quarter for Apple feels weak,” said an executive at a Taiwan-based company whose components are used in iPhones including the SE model, which markets for $399. “Our current shipment situation for Apple is not like the last two years. There are more iPhone models, but the total volume of iPhones is falling.”
Such a mixed outlook from Greater China, its most important market after the United States and generator of a quarter of the company’s revenue, could be a major cause of concern for Apple.
The company’s revenue from the region, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, dropped 26 percent in the March quarter, making it the weakest region in the world.
“iPhone is still popular but sales have dropped because… there’s no new model and the SE is similar to 5C. So it doesn’t sell well,” said Zhu You Peng, a salesman at Apple product reseller Xiongyu in Shenzhen. The 5C was Apple’s last attempt to produce a cheaper phone, back in 2013.
Zhu said it sold around 300 iPhones per month last year but the number has dropped to around 100-200 this year.
That view contrasts with upbeat comments about the phone from Apple’s Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri on Tuesday.
“The situation right now around the world is that we are supply-constrained,” he told Reuters, referring to the iPhone SE. “The demand has been very, very strong.”
The iPhone SEs are sold out in Apple’s own stores in mainland China and customers have to wait about three weeks to get the product delivered by Apple, according to Apple’s websites. The size of the original supplies to the stores is unclear.
The give-away will run until May 1, or while supplies last, Microsoft said on its e-store.
Last week, Microsoft told Wall Street that sales of its Lumia devices — virtually the only smartphones powered by Windows 10 Mobile — plummeted 73% in the March quarter compared to the year before, falling from 8.8 million in 2015 to 2.3 million in 2016. Revenue from its phone division fell 47%, to $662 million, in the first three months of this year.
More to the point of the two-for-one sale, on Thursday, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, Amy Hood, said, “Sell-through of our Lumia products was weak, and we exited the quarter with relatively high channel inventory.” Simply put, poor sales left more than the expected number of devices in stores and warehouses.
The buy-one-get-one-free deal may be Microsoft’s way of flushing out the current overstock.
Buyers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico will receive a $549 unlocked Lumia 950 when they purchase an unlocked Lumia 950 XL. The latter is Microsoft’s top-of-the-line Windows 10 Mobile smartphone, which went on sale in November 2015.
The offer is limited to two Lumia pairs per customer.
Microsoft’s smartphone business continued to drag down the Redmond, Wash. firm’s overall revenue outlook. While Hood did not pin a dollar amount to Lumia’s impact on the June quarter, Microsoft’s final in its 2016 fiscal year, she acknowledged that, “We expect year-over-year revenue declines to steepen in Q4 as we work through our Lumia channel position.”
Qualcomm has buried the hatchet with LG after the smartphone vendor agreed to pay more for its chips.
LG said the dispute with Qualcomm has been completely settled, although it did not say how much it had agreed to pay. Earlier it had claimed Qualcomm had overcharged for the chips under a licensing contract.
The news about the lawsuit settlement emerged following Qualcomm’s profit forecast for the second quarter in January, which was below what Wall Street’s tarot readers had predicted.
The company expected its mobile chip shipment to fall by 16-25 per cent in the second quarter. Additionally, it expected 3G and 4G device shipment to decline by 4 to 14 per cent. As for the first quarter of 2016, Qualcomm’s chip shipment fell 10 per cent , with a drop in revenue by 21.6 per cent. Revenue from licensing declined 10.4 per cent, suggests a Reuters report.
An LG spokesperson said that this kind of dispute was “actually nothing” and was similar to the ones that the industries had in the past.
“Qualcomm has lowered its royalty rate to LG in return for LG’s guaranteed purchase of Qualcomm processors, which are currently being used in its flagship handsets and will be used in upcoming flagship models,” added the official.
Qualcomm might have been a little nervy. LG has invested millions to develop its own chipset, in an attempt to cut down its dependency on Qualcomm for mobile processors.