Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

Cisco Commits To IoT With Jasper Technologies Acquisition

February 5, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Cisco Systems Inc announced that it will acquire Technologies Inc, a startup that connects devices like cars and medical devices to the Internet, for $1.4 billion in cash and equity awards, its largest acquisition since 2013.

Legacy technology companies like Cisco have been trying to find paths for growth while new technology developments, such as the rise of cloud computing, threaten their core businesses. The emerging field dubbed Internet of Things, offers Cisco, known for networking equipment, a chance to offer cutting-edge technology to its current customers.

In addition to connecting devices to the Internet, Jasper makes a software platform that helps monitor these devices once they are online.

Rob Salvagno, Cisco’s vice president of corporate development, said in an interview that the Internet of Things has been a priority for Cisco for the past few years.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on this market and what we noticed was that Jasper represented a unique asset. We believe they are the largest Internet of Things service platform of scale today,” he said.

Connecting myriad objects to the Internet is in its infancy today, said Gaurav Garg, a Jasper board member and a partner at Wing Venture Capital who compared the potential of the technology to the early days of the electrical grid.

“Who thought we’d be plugging computers and all sorts of things into it?” he asked, assigning similar possibilities to the Internet of Things.

Cisco, which has acquired dozens of smaller companies over the years, is shifting its business toward high-end switches and routers and investing in new products such as data analytics software and cloud-based tools for data centers.

Jasper is the largest deal for Cisco since it acquired security company Sourcefire for $2.7 billion in 2013.

Jasper had been planning an initial public offering and had banks to help it prepare. Its investors, such as Singapore’s Temasek, Sequoia Capital and Benchmark Capital, will now get a chance to cash out without having to brave the rocky equity markets, which have seen no technology IPOs this year.

Jasper’s chief executive, Jahangir Mohammed, will stay on with Cisco and run a new Internet of Things Software Business unit once the deal closes in the third quarter.

 

Evernote Officially Exits E-commerce

February 3, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A little more than two years after Evernote announced that it would offer a suite of branded products through its own online retail store, the productivity company is walking away from the business of selling products like socks, messenger bags and wallets.

As foreshadowed by a series of sales and app changes last year, the current incarnation of the Evernote Market — a hub for people to buy branded swag and connected tools for the popular note-taking software — will no longer exist as of today.

In its place will be a page that directs people to a handful of products made by partner companies that are tightly integrated with Evernote’s service and were previously sold through the Market. Users will still be able to buy the ScanSnap Evernote Edition scanner, Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition stylus and Evernote-branded Moleskine notebooks that are designed to work with the notetaking software.

The companies that make those items will be in charge of selling them and handling distribution, allowing Evernote to get out of the business of holding inventory and fulfilling orders. That means all of the Market’s non-integrated items, like business card holders and the company’s infamous socks, will be unavailable after after tonight.

In some ways, the Market experiment was a fairly successful one. 40% of people who purchased goods from the Market were subscribers to Evernote’s free tier, meaning that the company was able to monetize people who weren’t paying for the premium version of its service. In the first year of its existence, Market made a little more than $12 million, though it’s not clear how it continued to fare after that.

It’s a move that illustrates Evernote’s current strategy of winnowing down the products and services it’s providing to just focus on a core set of experiences that can make the startup money.

 

 

Yahoo To Slash 15% Of Workforce

February 3, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer announced cost-cutting measures that include slashing 15 percent of the company’s workforce, or roughly 1,600 jobs, and closing several business units, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The plans were announced after Yahoo’s fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.  It did not specify which business units might be closed.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said the company could not comment during its quiet period before releasing earnings.

Activist investors have pressed Yahoo to sell its core business rather than spin it off, even though a sale would likely incur more taxes.

It is unclear whether the plan Mayer is expected to announce would satisfy their demands, but cutting costs could make Yahoo more attractive to buyers.

Verizon has said it is interested in acquiring Yahoo if it were up for sale. Other potential buyers would include media and private equity firms, analysts said.

Yahoo had about 11,000 employees as of June 30, according to its website, down from a Dec. 31, 2014 total of about 12,500 full-time employees and what it called fixed term contractors.

Separately, a former Yahoo employee filed a lawsuit against the company Monday challenging its “quarterly performance review” process, on grounds it assigned numerical ratings to workers that in some cases were used to fire those at the bottom of the scale.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, California, said the plaintiff was terminated in 2014, despite being previously praised, as a result of the QPR process.

The filing said Yahoo’s use of the QPR process to terminate large numbers of employees violates federal and California laws that require employers to disclose mass layoffs above a certain threshold.

 

 

Is Samsung Going To Starting A Rental Phone Service?

February 2, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung  is rolling out a rental phone service which will replace a phone that is been used for a year with the latest model.

The system is similar to the rental model which was introduced by Apple in September of last year. Samsung will bring the service out in March in South Korea but it is also in talks with  Bright Star, which is a business that specializes in distribution of mobile in the US so it is pretty likely to be tried over the pond too.  We have not heard about it talking to any EU distributor but it is also fairly likely.

Under the deal you replace your old phone with a new phone every year if you make a two year contract and pa a year worth of instalments. The company then makes a bit of dosh flogging the used phones.

The first phone to be rented will be the Galaxy S7 that happens to be being released in March. It will also have a higher resale value as a used model.

Officially Samsung is saying nothing as the Galaxy S7 is not even in the shops yet.

Mobile telecommunication businesses such as SK Telecom, LG Uplus and others are also preparing to release similar services. This is not the first time they have had a crack at programs likes this there were operations like Zero Club, Free Club and others in the past which operated in a similar way. It should make the introduction of the rental phone service using Apple’s model a doddle.

If it takes off it could be a change in distribution model for phones. As mobile markets are saturated and as subsidies for mobiles disappear, rental phones are seen as an alternatives that will create new demand.  Much of the success however depends on the resale value of the older phones.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Harvard Study Refutes Arguments Against Encrypted Devices

February 2, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A new study from Harvard largely debunks claims that wider use of encryption by indivduals will hamper investigations into terrorism and crime.

The study predicts that the continued expansion of Internet-connected devices — such as smart TVs and vehicles, IP video cameras and more — will offer fresh opportunities for tracking targets.

“Law enforcement or intelligence agencies may start to seek orders compelling Samsung, Google, Mattel, Nest or vendors of other networked devices to push an update or flip a digital switch to intercept the ambient communications of a target,” it said. “These are real products now.”

The study comes from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet Society and was signed by well-known figures, including security expert Bruce Schneier, Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard Law School and Matthew G. Olsen, former director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center.

All are members of the Berkman Center’s Berklett Cybersecurity Project, which studies surveillance and cybersecurity issues.

The technology industry has come under increasing pressure from some government officials in the U.S. and U.K., who contend that bolstering data security, primarily through encryption, will diminish their capabilities to fight terrorism and crime, and will result in those sources “going dark.”

While law enforcement can gain access to data held by service providers through warrants, some systems have been designed in a way that the service providers can’t provide any information at all.

These so-called end-to-end encryption systems leave users in sole possession of the decryption keys. Without a password, law enforcement would have to use other means to try to decrypt data.

The study, titled ”Don’t Panic: Making progress on the encryption debate,” does acknowledge encryption will poses challenges in some instances but by no means will dictate the landscape of future technology products.

“To be sure, encryption and provider-opaque services make surveillance more difficult in certain cases, but the landscape is far more variegated than the metaphor suggests,” it said. “There are and will always be pockets of dimness and some dark spots — communications channels resistant to surveillance — but this does not mean we are completely ‘going dark’.”

 

 

 

LG Release Patch For Android Devices Data Theft Bug

February 1, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

LG has issued a fix for a security flaw in an application preinstalled on millions of its Android G3 smartphones that researchers found could be used to steal a variety of data.

The application, called Smart Notice, is a kind of multifunctional widget, managing contacts, notifications, and weather and traffic alerts.

Researchers from BugSec and Cynet, two computer security companies, found that they could attack a person’s phone by sending them a contact with malicious JavaScript contained in the name field, according to avideo.

Once the code was on the phone, any information stored on its SD card, such as private images and chat logs, could be stolen.

“The root cause for the security problem is the fact that Smart Notice does not validate the data presented to the users,” BugSec and Cynet wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

The researchers found a variety of ways to trigger their malicious code and carry out actions, such as opening a phishing site that tries to steal a person’s Gmail credentials or prompt a person to download a remote access trojan.

“With a little tweak, we were able to load external scripts from a remote host and ‘refresh’ our code every few seconds, giving us the ability to have active command and control over the LG phone and send new payloads,” the companies wrote.

It was also possible to conduct a denial-of-service attack that could only be stopped by doing a hard reset of the phone, they wrote.

 

 

Wireless Charging Finally Coming To iPhones

February 1, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

As wireless charging adoption rate continues to grow by double-digits annually, industry analysts have openly wondered when Apple’s iPhone would finally take the plunge.

This month, market research firm IHS predicted that Apple would introduce some form of wireless charging on the iPhone 7 expected to arrive in September; that move seems more likely given that Apple introduced an inductive, proprietary charging solution in 2015 on the Apple Watch.

Adding fuel to the wireless charging fire, Bloomberg has reported that Apple is working with partners in the U.S. and Asia to develop new wireless charging technology that could be deployed on its mobile devices in 2017.

“We still expect [wireless charging with the iPhone 7], but this latest rumor suggests a longer term look at much greater spatial freedom — claiming to take away the charging pad altogether,” David Green, a research manager at IHS Technology, said.

Two years ago, the Windows Phone 8-based Lumia 920 smartphone introduced wireless charging. Then Samsung launched dual-mode wireless charging on its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones. Now, the focus is on Apple to see whether it will also add wireless charging to the iPhone, Green said.

Wireless charging is proving to be very popular with those who have used it, and the market tripled in size last year compared to 2014, with more than 160 million wireless charging receivers shipped across all markets.

The three major wireless charging industry groups have adopted a form of resonant wireless charging, which allows a more “loosely coupled” approach where handsets can be several centimeters away from a charger or placed at any angle on a charging pad.

For example, AirFuel Alliance’s Rezence-specification, which allows charging from across several centimeters, includes the ability to use a charging bowl or charging through a desktop.

There’s also uncoupled charging technology, where powering up devices through Wi-Fi, for example, sends low levels of power (typically less than 1 watt) across a room.

Ossia, Energous and uBeam all demonstrated uncoupled charging technology at CES earlier this month.

 

 

 

 

iOS Developers Warned About Taking Shortcuts

February 1, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Slapdash developers have been advised not to use the open source JSPatch method of updating their wares because it is as vulnerable as a soft boiled egg, for various reasons.

It’s FireEye that is giving JSPatch the stink eye and providing the warning that it has rendered over 1,000 applications open to copy and paste theft of photos and other information. And it doesn’t end there.

FireEye’s report said that Remote Hot Patching may sound like a good idea at the time, but it really isn’t. It is so widely used that is has opened up a 1,220-wide iOS application hole in Apple users’ security. A better option, according to the security firm, is to stick with the Apple method, which should provide adequate and timely protection.

“Within the realm of Apple-provided technologies, the way to remediate this situation is to rebuild the application with updated code to fix the bug and submit the newly built app to the App Store for approval,” said FireEye.

“While the review process for updated apps often takes less time than the initial submission review, the process can still be time-consuming and unpredictable, and can cause loss of business if app fixes are not delivered in a timely and controlled manner.

“However, if the original app is embedded with the JSPatch engine, its behaviour can be changed according to the JavaScript code loaded at runtime. This JavaScript file is remotely controlled by the app developer. It is delivered to the app through network communication.”

Let’s not all make this JSPatch’s problem, because presumably it’s developers who are lacking.

FireEye spoke up for the open source security gear while looking down its nose at hackers. “JSPatch is a boon to iOS developers. In the right hands, it can be used to quickly and effectively deploy patches and code updates. But in a non-utopian world like ours, we need to assume that bad actors will leverage this technology for unintended purposes,” the firm said.

“Specifically, if an attacker is able to tamper with the content of a JavaScript file that is eventually loaded by the app, a range of attacks can be successfully performed against an App Store application.

Courteys-TheInq

 

Samsung Profits Hit By Weak Demand For Smartphones

January 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Weak demand for smartphones and display panels weighed down Samsung’s profits last quarter, and the company doesn’t expect much improvement this year.

Revenue for the fourth quarter was 53.3 trillion won (US$45.5 billion), up just 1 percent from a year earlier, Samsung announced Thursday in Seoul. Net profit plummeted 40 percent to 3.2 trillion won.

A day earlier, Samsung’s biggest rival, Apple, said it too was seeing weaker than expected demand for handsets. The Cupertino company reported iPhone sales that were almost flat and forecast its first quarterly revenue drop since 2003.

Samsung isn’t expecting much better. It sees a difficult environment in 2016 characterized by slowing IT demand.

“It would be a challenge to maintain 2016 operating profit levels,” said Kim Sang Hyo, Samsung’s vice president of investor relations, in a conference call with analysts.

A weak macro economy around the world will hurt business in the first half, but things should get better in the second half, the company said.

Sales in Samsung’s key mobile division fell 10 percent in the quarter to 24 trillion won. That was the result of an earlier pile up of unsold phones at retailers, and the fact that Samsung sold fewer high-end phones and more that were lower priced.

Samsung doesn’t divulge the number of smartphones it sells, preferring to announce total sales of all phone types. That figure was 97 million last quarter, with smartphones accounting for around 85 percent.

For 2016, it expects the mobile business will see single-digit growth due to tepid demand for new smartphones and tablet PCs.

Samsung’s semiconductor and display panel operations — it’s second-biggest business area — was the only good performer last quarter. Sales rose 11 percent year-on-year to 19.7 trillion won thanks to healthy demand for flash memory chips and continued demand for mobile and server DRAM.

 

 

 

 

 

Movidius Chip To Bring Deep Learning To Android Phones

January 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Android mobile devices could get a whole lot smarter soon, thanks to a new partnership between Google and chip maker Movidius that promises to bring machine intelligence directly into smarphones.

Movidius specializes in machine vision, and it has already worked with Google on the Project Tango computer-vision platform. Now, through the new collaboration, Google will use Movidius’ flagship MA2450 chip to bring deep learning to Android handsets.

Deep learning is a branch of machine learning often applied to image recognition that uses algorithms to learn in multiple levels corresponding to different levels of abstraction. It typically relies on complex neural networks.

Movidius’ MA2450 chip is built for extreme power efficiency, making it eminently well-suited for running neural-network computations locally on smartphones. By deploying its advanced neural computation engine on those chips, Google could give devices the ability to recognize images such as faces and street signs in real time, without relying on an Internet connection and algorithms in the cloud.

Such capabilities could be particularly valuable for vision-impaired users, for example.

“Our collaboration with Movidius is enabling new categories of products to be built that people haven’t seen before,” said Blaise Agϋera y Arcas, head of Google’s machine intelligence group.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, nor were details about any specific product plans.

“Google is rapidly expanding their smartphone business into new areas — this is just one of them,” said wireless and telecom analyst Jeff Kagan.

The potential is exciting, but “Google typically throws ideas against the wall all the time,” Kagan added. “They wait to see what sticks and then build on that.

Everything Google does is not successful.”

 

 

 

Verizon, Samsung Partner Up On Indoor Wireless Technology

January 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon and Samsung jointly announced 4G small-cell LTE technology to improve in-building wireless coverage for business customers.

Verizon’s 4G LTE Network Extender for Enterprise relies on Samsung’s small-cell technology to provide voice over LTE and data service.

These small-cell units would be installed in weak coverage areas to help workers keep their wireless connections via smartphone and tablets.

The companies said in a joint statement that the technology is ideal for mid-sized offices and other company spaces of 10,000 to 100,000 square feet. While they described the technology as affordable, no price was announced.

A single small cell will support 42 concurrent users in an area of about 31,500 square feet. 4G LTE speeds are typically 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps on downloads, but the throughput for the Network Extender was not announced.

 

 

Will eSport Grow To One Half Billion Dollar Market This Year?

January 28, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

According to Newzoo’s 2016 Global eSports Market Report, this year is expected to be a “pivotal” one for the eSports sector. The firm said that last year’s tally for worldwide eSports revenues came to $325 million, and this year the full eSports economy should grow 43 percent to $463 million; Newzoo said this correlates with an audience of 131 million eSports enthusiasts and another 125 million “occasional viewers who tune in mainly for the big international events.” Overall, Newzoo’s report states that global and local eSports markets should jointly generate $1.1 billion in 2019.

Looking a bit deeper, Newzoo found that investment into and advertising associated with eSports continue to grow at a rapid clip. “This year has been dominated by the amount of investors getting involved in eSports. An increasing amount of traditional media companies have become aware of the value of the eSports sphere and have launched their first eSports initiatives. With these parties getting involved, there will be an increased focus on content and media rights. All major publishers have increased their investment into the space, realizing that convergence of video, live events and the game itself are providing consumers the cross-screen entertainment they desire from their favorite franchises,” Newzoo commented.

Online advertising in particular is the fastest growing revenue segment within eSports, jumping up 99.6 percent on a global scale compared to 2014. North America is expected to lead the charge worldwide.

“In 2016, North America will strengthen its lead in terms of revenues with an anticipated $175 million generated through merchandise, event tickets, sponsorships, online advertising and media rights. A significant part of these revenues flows back to the game publisher, but across all publishers, more money is invested into the eSports economy than is directly recouped by their eSports activities,” said Newzoo’s eSports Analyst, Pieter van den Heuvel.

“China and Korea together will represent 23 percent of global esports revenues, totalling $106 million in 2016. Audience-wise, the situation is different, with Asia contributing 44 percent of global eSports enthusiasts. Growth in this region is, for a large part, fuelled by an explosive uptake in Southeast Asia.”

While eSports is certainly on a good path for growth, game companies would be wise to not get too caught up by the hype. The average annual revenue per eSports enthusiast was $2.83 in 2015 and is expected to grow to $3.53 this year, Newzoo said, but that’s still a factor four lower than a mainstream sport such as basketball, which generates revenues of $15 per fan per year.

Peter Warman, CEO at Newzoo added, “The initial buzz will settle down and the way forward on several key factors, such as regulations, content rights and involvement of traditional media, will become more clear. The collapse of MLG was a reminder that this market still has a long road to maturity and we need to be realistic about the opportunities it provides. In that respect, it is in nobody’s interest that current market estimates differ so strongly. Luckily, when zooming in on the highest market estimates of more than $700 million, the difference is explainable by an in-depth look. This estimate only differs in the revenues generated in Asia (Korea in particular), and by taking betting revenues into account. At Newzoo, we believe betting on eSports should not be mixed into direct eSports revenues as the money does not flow into the eSports economy. Similarly, sports betting is not reported in sports market reports.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Samsung Announces Global Launch Of Gear S2 Classic Smartwatches

January 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung has announced the global launch of its Gear S2 Classic New Edition smartwatches, which first appeared at CES 2016 with 18K rose gold and platinum finishes.

The New Edition rose gold version incorporates gold plating atop stainless steel, not solid gold, according to Samsung.

That distinction would explain a price of 480€ (about $520 US), as seen as available for pre-order on the DutchCool Blue retail website.

Samsung hasn’t listed official pricing or availability by countries other than to say China was the first country where the device was released.

A solid gold Apple Watch, by contrast, could cost a buyer as much as $17,000, although Apple sells many variations at much lower prices.

While Samsung described its newest watches as “merging fashion with technology,” there is a debate in the industry over how much high fashion and rich materials will matter in achieving mass market acceptance of smartwatches.

Market research firm IDC said that 21 million smartwatches shipped in 2015, well below projections of many analysts. That number included the Apple Watch, launched in April, which some had predicted would sell 40 million units in its first year.

“People don’t really see the value in smartwatches,” said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani in a January interview. He added that women aren’t heavily interested in fashion smartwatches, despite attempts by Apple and now Samsung to attract women buyers.

Samsung provides about 1,400 apps for use with the Tizen OS on its Gear 2 smartwatches. The devices will also have the ability to connect to Android smartphones and, later in 2016, to iOS devices.

The future for smartwatches used in business settings is unclear, analysts have said, although there is greater interest in providing enterprise apps for a range of wearables that include smart glasses and devices worn on other parts of the body.

 

 

 

Sony Pivots Towards IoT With Altair Acquisition

January 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony has signed a deal to purchase chip company Altair Semiconductor for $212 million in a bid to strengthen its offering for the Internet of Things market.

Altair, based in Israel, is a developer of modem chip technology and software relating to the LTE (Long Term Evolution) 4G cellular standard for mobile phones and data terminals. Sony aims to combine Altair’s work with its sensing technologies such as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and image sensors to develop new cellular-connected, sensing devices.

Sony expects LTE, which is already used in data communication for mobile phones, to play a key role in IoT as more small devices or “things” are expected to be equipped with cellular chipsets and access network services that take advantage of cloud computing.

LTE is increasingly seen as a cellular technology that could be relevant for IoT, and carriers are preparing to offer it. Verizon announced last year the U.S. availability of chipsets for IoT devices that can connect to its LTE network at speeds up to 10Mbps.

Sony said in October it was acquiring Softkinetic Systems, a developer in Brussels of range image sensor technology that uses the time-of-flight (ToF) range method for arriving at the distance of an object. Sony said it would use the technology not only in the field of imaging but for broader sensing-related applications as well.

Altair claims on its website that its chipset already powers millions of LTE-connected devices worldwide. The company’s LTE chipsets provide varying speeds, standby current of microamps to milliamps, and package sizes ranging from small footprint modules to miniature, low-profile SiPs (system in package), the company said.

Sony expects to close the deal early next month. The consumer electronics company has been increasingly focusing on its components business, including a deal announced in December to acquire Toshiba’s CMOS image sensors and memory controller fabrication facility in Oita Prefecture in Japan.

 

 

Is Apple’s Alleged 4″ iPhone Headed For Disaster

January 27, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

An analyst has cut his estimate of projected sales of the rumored new 4-inch iPhone, reportedly called the “iPhone 5se,” in half, from 18-20 million down to 10-12 million units.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo  said that the new 4-inch iPhone, as little new to offer, despite getting a lot of media attention.

“We don’t regard the product as innovative, either in terms of form factor … or hardware specs.”

Kuo said that Apple will ship 43 million units, a decline of 44 per cent quarter-over-quarter and 29 per cent year-over-year.

The smaller iPhone will likely include an all-metal design but is otherwise as silly a move as the 5c, which had a plastic body but tanked.

“We see MacBook as a stronger candidate for becoming a theme given solid growth in the business segment, as well as a potential upgrade to hit the market in 1H16,” Kuo said.

In other words Apple is starting to regress to the days when all it had was its PCs and was so desperate for money it had to borrow off Microsoft.

Courtesy-Fud