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Bose Headphones Accused Of Spying On Users

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Bose Corp spies on its wireless headphone owners by using an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, and violates their privacy rights by selling such data without permission, a lawsuit charged.

The complaint filed by Kyle Zak in federal court in Chicago seeks an injunction to stop Bose’s “wholesale disregard” for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app from Apple Inc or Google Play stores to their smartphones.

“People should be uncomfortable with it,” Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, said in an interview. “People put headphones on their head because they think it’s private, but they can be giving out information they don’t want to share.”

Bose did not respond on Wednesday to requests for comment on the proposed class action case. The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company has said annual sales top $3.5 billion.

Zak’s lawsuit was the latest to accuse companies of trying to boost profit by quietly amassing customer information, and then selling it or using it to solicit more business.

After paying $350 for his QuietComfort 35 headphones, Zak said he took Bose’s suggestion to “get the most out of your headphones” by downloading its app, and providing his name, email address and headphone serial number in the process.

But the Illinois resident said he was surprised to learn that Bose sent “all available media information” from his smartphone to third parties such as Segment.io, whose website promises to collect customer data and “send it anywhere.”

Audio choices offer “an incredible amount of insight” into customers’ personalities, behavior, politics and religious views, citing as an example that a person who listens to Muslim prayers might “very likely” be a Muslim, the complaint said.

“Defendants’ conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights,” the complaint said.

Zak is seeking millions of dollars of damages for buyers of headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.

He also wants a halt to the data collection, which he said violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.

Dore, a partner at Edelson PC, said customers do not see the Bose app’s user service and privacy agreements when signing up, and the privacy agreement says nothing about data collection.

Edelson specializes in suing technology companies over alleged privacy violations.

New York City May Force Tipping Feature To Be Added To Uber Service

April 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ride-services company Uber Technologies Inc may be forced to provide riders a way to tip their drivers, despite its longstanding resistance, if a plan by New York City’s taxi regulator is implemented.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has announced intentions to propose a rule no later than July that would require all for-hire vehicles to allow passengers to tip drivers using the same method they use to pay for the ride. In Uber’s case, this would involve adding a tipping feature within the its smartphone app.

The commission said its proposal is a response to driver concerns over falling wages, as Uber has reduced fares in New York City and across the country. Tips could help boost drivers’ income.

Uber has said previously it opposed tipping because it was an inconvenience to passengers and slowed the transaction between rider and driver.

“I found myself having to work longer hours away from my family to earn the same money,” Luiny Tavares, who has driven for Uber for five years, said on a call with reporters that was organized by the Independent Drivers Guild.

The guild, set up last year to advocate for drivers, started a campaign last summer to pressure Uber to add a tipping feature in its app. Uber was “unable to move on the option,” said guild founder Jim Conigliaro, so the guild brought the issue to the taxi commission.

Any tipping proposal faces a protracted process before it becomes a rule Uber must follow. The taxi commission has the authority to initiate rulemaking on its own, but rules must be certified by city legal authorities. There is also 30-day public comment period and public hearing, and a board of commissioners votes on the final rule.

“We have not seen the proposal and look forward to reviewing it,” said Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang. “Uber is always striving to offer the best earning opportunity for drivers and we are constantly working to improve the driver experience.”

Adding a tipping feature to Uber’s app would remove one significant difference between Uber and its chief U.S. competitor, Lyft. Lyft has a smaller market share but is the preferred service of many drivers because it allows tipping through the smartphone app. Lyft said in March that its drivers have earned more than $200 million in tips since the company’s founding.

Are Macs Virus Free

April 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The myth that Macs are somehow more secure than other operating systems appears to be a myth according to a Threat Report by McAfee Labs.

Attacks on Macs have risen by 744 percent in 2016 and there are more than 460,000 malware samples on Mac machines found. Although this is not a particularly high number you have to acknowledge that this is one security company and on a single machine.

It appears that after years of leaving Macs alone, virus writers are suddenly taking an interest in knocking them over and the security by obscurity measures, along with faith-based defences are not working.

The Tame Apple Press has rushed to say that “despite the dramatic increase in macOS malware attacks, Mac owners need not be too alarmed”.

One newspaper even said that the attacks were just irritating and not like the “true malware attacks” that Windows users have to suffer.

Most of the attacks were just adware which automatically generates and displays advertising material, including banners or pop-ups, whenever a user is online, the Tame Apple Press  tried to reassure Apple fanboys.

Last summer, Mac owners were warned about a new malware dubbed Backdoor.MAC.Elanor – a nasty piece of code that infects the OS X operating system and gives hackers complete access to the files on the computer.

Courtesy-Fud

Microft Sets Retirement Date For First Windows 10 Release

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

True to form, Microsoft has announced May 9 as the date it will issue the final updates for the debut edition of Windows 10 that launched in 2015.

Two months ago, Microsoft had extended support for Windows 10 version 1507 — Microsoft labels feature upgrades by year and month — from March to May, but did not specify the date in the latter month.

The May 9 retirement was quietly announced on several support documents, including the “Windows lifecycle fact sheet,” which lists several kinds of deadlines for various versions of the operating system.

Another document put it plainly. “The time has now come to end servicing for version 1507,” the support document read.

Stopping support for Windows 10 editions — Microsoft released the fourth on Tuesday — is an important part of the company’s software-as-a-service model. The company has pledged to support an individual edition, such as 1507, not for 10 years, as policy required for, say, Windows 7 or 8.1, but only for 18 months or so. That mandate insured Microsoft would not need to craft security patches, fix other bugs or add new features for an increasing number of versions.

By the time Windows 10 1507 slips off the list, it will have been supported for about 21 months. Part of the reason it lasted longer than Microsoft’s stated norm was because the firm issued just one feature upgrade — v. 1607 — in 2016.

The next Windows 10 edition, v. 1511, could be purged from support as soon as early October. That’s because Microsoft has committed to simultaneously supporting just two Current Branch for Business (CBB) builds. At the release of N+2 onto CBB, the company starts a 60-day-or-so countdown. At the end of the 60 days, N drops off the support list. N+1 then becomes N and N+2 morphs into N+1.

Under that policy, N would be 1511, N+1 version 1607 (released in August 2016) and N+2 1703 (this month’s feature upgrade). Version 1703 will likely be promoted to the CBB in four months, or August; two months more would put 1511’s support demise in October.

Users running 1507 must have upgraded to 1511, 1607 or 1703 by May 10 to receive future security patches, and other fixes or enhancements. Windows 10 1507 will not suddenly fail to boot, however, or degrade, as do copies that have not been activated with a product key.

The only exceptions will be customers whose devices are running v. 1507 from the Long-term Servicing Branch (LTSB), a special release track available only to organizations using Windows 10 Enterprise.

Netflix Expansion Talks Include Indonesian Telecom Giant

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. video streaming service provider Netflix is engaged in negotiations with Indonesia’s top telecom firm PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk (Telkom) to offer its service in the country, a spokesman at the Indonesian company said.

The U.S. company has made an aggressive push globally, but faced problems such as tough local competition and regulatory hurdles in several major Asian markets. In Indonesia, a country of 250 million people, Netflix ran afoul of the film censorship board last year for carrying content deemed inappropriately violent or sexual.

The communications ministry of Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, had also demanded that Netflix set up a office in the country and pay local taxes.

While state-controlled Telkom had blocked Netflix, the service was still available in Indonesia via WiFi connections and other carriers.

Telkom is now negotiating a partnership agreement with Netflix and hopes to complete the process next month, Arif Prabowo, vice president for corporate communication at Telkom, said in a text message.

Telkom was previously concerned that Netflix carried “content that has a negative element”, Prabowo said.

“If we work together, that means we would know and can be responsible for the content broadcast by Netflix.”

Teaming up with Netflix would expand Telkom’s content offering, Prabowo added. “The choices for our customers will be more varied.”

A Netflix spokeswoman declined to comment.

T-Mobile And Dish Networks Score Most In FCC’s Wireless Spectrum Bids

April 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile US Inc bid $8 billion and Dish Network Corp $6.2 billion to acquirethe bulk of broadcast airwaves spectrum for sale in a government auction, according to a statement from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The two carriers accounted for most of the $19.8 billion in winning bids, the FCC said. Comcast Corp agreed to acquire $1.7 billion in spectrum, AT&T Inc bid $910 million and investment firm Columbia Capital offered $1 billion.

The FCC said 175 broadcast stations were selling airwaves to 50 wireless and other telecommunications companies. Companies plan to use the spectrum to build new networks or improve existing coverage.

The spectrum auction’s end is widely expected to kick off a wave of deal-making in the telecom industry. Until now, companies participating in the auction have been restrained by a quiet period, but that will end after April 27, when down payments are due from auction winners.

T-Mobile said its $8 billion winning bid would enable it “to compete in every single corner of he country.” The company, controlled by Deutsche Telekom AG , said the investment will quadruple its low-band holdings.

Verizon Communications Inc and Sprint Corp opted not to bid.

“What is most interesting to us was (Verizon) was nowhere to be found,” Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst at Wells Fargo, said in a research note, adding that “we continue to believe Verizon’s interests lay in the higher band spectrum assets.”

Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said in an email that there were three surprises in the results: “Comcast bought less than expected, Dish Network bought more, and Verizon bought nothing at all.”

Moffett said Dish’s spectrum spending underscored “the growing importance of the company’s valuation as it relates to their spectrum holdings.”

Comcast sold spectrum from three of its NBCUniversal owned stations in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago for $481.6 million.

The FCC also announced new channel assignments for 957 non-winning stations that must change channels to clear the new wireless airwaves for use.

Of the $19.8 billion bid, more than $7 billion will go to reduce the U.S. deficit and $10.05 billion to broadcasters relinquishing spectrum. Up to $1.75 billion will go to broadcasters that incur costs in changing channels.

Sellers had initially sought $86.4 billion for 126 megahertz. Many analysts had expected broadcasters to earn more and sell more spectrum.

Samsung’s Bixby Digital Voice Assistant Being Delayed

April 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung’s highly promoted Bixby voice assistant will not be available for the Galaxy S8 smartphone on April 21, as previously announced.

The company released a statement that said Bixby will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 “later in the spring.” Samsung didn’t explain the delay.

The Bixby will join a pack of artificial intelligence assistants that includes Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant that are changing the way people interact with their devices.

Some U.S.-based reviewers and analysts had noticed that the Bixby feature wasn’t fully demonstrated when the S8 was announced March 29.

Also, some news reports said Bixby encountered voice recognition problems in English compared to its performance with the Korean language.

The shipment delay applies only to the voice feature in Bixby, while Samsung said other key features of Bixby, like Vision, Home and Reminder will be available in the global launch of Galaxy S8 on April 21.

Samsung went out of its way to promote Bixby well in advance of the Galaxy S8 launch. It was announced in a blog on March 20, nine days before the phone’s launch, by Injong Rhee, executive vice president of software and services for Samsung Electronics.

Rhee pointed out a physical button on the side of the phone that would activate Bixby, differentiating it from Alexa or  Siri and others that are activated by a spoken trigger word. Bixby would offer a “deeper experience” than some others, including support for touch commands. Also, Bixby is designed to know the current state of an app to allow users to carry out work in progress without further explanation. Rhee said the Bixby interface is “much more natural and easier to use.”

Bixby was already two years behind those digital assistants as well as Google Assistant, analysts said. “Bixby is going to be playing catch up,” said Gartner analyst Werner Goertz in March.

One analyst forgave the Bixby delay. “I commend Samsung for trying to get it right rather than just launching and hoping for the best,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.

“It’s never a good idea to put out less than great software on a consumer device. So in this case, if Samsung can delay a few weeks and get a better product, it makes sense to do so. That said, voice recognition generally is not all that easy to do. It’s not just the recognition software itself, but the whole voice chain that has to be tailored. That includes everything from the microphone through the audio channel on the phone to the recognition algorithms and the user interface. If they tested and it wasn’t at their expected level of accuracy, then it’s better to get it right than to get it out fast.”

Samsung Pleased As Galaxy S8 Pre-orders Surpass S7 Launch

April 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Pre-orders for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone have surpassed those of its predecessor S7, the firm’s mobile chief said on Thursday, which suggests many consumers are undeterred by last year’s Galaxy Note 7 fires.

Strong initial demand for the S8 will be encouraging for a firm recovering from one of the worst product safety failures in tech history, which ended in the Note 7’s swift withdrawal.

The new smartphone has received favorable reviews ahead of the start of sales in South Korea, the United States and Canada on April 21. Some investors and analysts have even predicted a first-year sales record for the South Korean company.

“It’s still a bit early, but initial response to the pre-orders that have begun at various places across the world have been better than expected,” mobile chief Koh Dong-jin said at an S8 media briefing.

He said the S8 will be the safest Galaxy smartphone to date due to measures implemented to avoid the battery failures that caused some Note 7s to spontaneously combust.

Analysts said strong S8 sales are likely to help Samsung to its best-ever quarterly profit in April-June, along with a booming memory chip market that is widely expected to deliver record revenue this year for the industry as a whole.

Samsung has been working to restore investor trust as well as its reputation since the Note 7’s withdrawal in October within two months of being on the market, losing out on $5.4 billion in profit.

Senior executives told foreign media on the sidelines of the briefing that it will take time for Samsung’s brand image to recover. They also said Samsung has seen a rebound in consumer sentiment toward the firm since announcing the results of a probe into the fires and preventative measures on Jan. 23.

Blizzard Entertainment Wins Cheating Lawsuit

April 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Blizzard Entertainment has asked for $8.5 million in damages from Bossland, a German company that makes and sells cheats and hacks for its most popular games.

This is the latest and probably final step in a legal complaint Blizzard filed in July 2016, which accused Bossland of copyright infringement and millions of dollars in lost sales, among other charges. Cheat software like Bossland’s Honorbuddy and Demonbuddy, Blizzard argued, ruins the experience of its products for other players.

According to Torrent Freak, Bossland’s attempt to have the case dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction failed, after which it became unresponsive. It also failed to respond to a 24-hour ultimatum to respond from the court, and so Blizzard has filed a motion for default judgement.

The $8.5 million payment was calculated based on Blizzard’s sales projections for the infringing products. Bossland had previously admitted to selling 118,939 products to people in the United States since July 2013, of which Blizzard believes a minimum of 36% related to its games.

“In this case, Blizzard is only seeking the minimum statutory damages of $200 per infringement, for a total of $8,563,600.00,” the motion document stated. “While Blizzard would surely be entitled to seek a larger amount, Blizzard seeks only minimum statutory damages.

“Notably, $200 approximates the cost of a one-year license for the Bossland Hacks. So, it is very likely that Bossland actually received far more than $8 million in connection with its sale of the Bossland Hacks.”

Update: The court has granted Blizzard’s motion for default judgement, ordering Bossland to pay $8.56 million in damages.

That number was calculated based on 42,818 sales of Bossland’s products in the US. The court ruled that the German company should not be allowed to sell Honornuddy, Demonbuddy, Stormbuddy, Hearthbuddy and Watchover Tyrant in the country from now on, as well as any future products that exploit Blizzard’s games. Bossland will also have to pay $174,872 in attorneys’ fees.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Can Apple Succeed Without Imagination?

April 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Imagination Technologies, the leading graphics processing unit supplier for Apple, issued a press statement on Monday saying that the fruit-themed gadget maker will no longer use the group’s intellectual property in new products manufactured 15 months to two years from now.

The development is a major hurdle for Imagination, the British chip designer that has provided PowerVR graphics processors for iPhones, iPads, iPods, Apple TVs and Apple Watches since 2007. The company’s partnership with Apple accounted for roughly half of its annual revenues, in addition to the royalties it had been receiving on account of iPhone and iPad devices. Those royalties, which totaled £60.7 million ($75.8 million) for the year ending April 2016 and £65 million ($81.2 million) for 2017, are set to expire roughly 15 months to two years from now, before Q2 2019.

Apple currently holds more than an eight percent share in Imagination, and become a key investor in mid-2009 after raising its stake to 10 percent. At one point last year, Apple was in the process of holding “advanced acquisition talks” but ultimately decided against a full takeover, according to the Financial Times. Following the talks, Chinese state-owned company Tsinghua then took a three percent stake in the British company.

Last February, Imagination also announced that longtime CEO Hossein Yassaie would be stepping down as part of a major business restructuring operation. This was followed by across-the-board operating cuts by £15 million over the next year into April 2017 – including £2 million from its PowerVR product series.

In its press release on Monday, Imagination states that Apple “has not presented any evidence” to claim that it will no longer require [Imagination technologies], “without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information. This evidence has been requested by Imagination but Apple has declined to provide it”.

Imagination: Alternative GPU designs will be impossible without patent infringement

In a serious call against disparagement, the British-based R&D company believes that Apple will not be able to produce any substantive GPU alternatives on its own without violating its patents, intellectual property and confidential information. But with a determination to take its mobile graphics in-house, Apple still confidently insists it has an A-series alternative underway for the next generation of product announcements scheduled for 2018.

The original iPhone featured a low-power ARM RISC CPU with assistance from a PowerVR MBX directly descended from Imagination’s Dreamcast GPU. Nine years later, the iPhone 7 came with a custom six-core PowerVR 7X6 GT7600 Plus with OpenCL 2 support and accelerated computer vision technologies.

Apple has already taken several key employees

Imagination’s rebuttals have not appeared without legitimate grievance, however. Back in October, it was revealed that at least 25 of its employees and management personnel jumped ship to Apple over the past two years. Names include notable ex-COO John Metcalfe, Senior Design Manager Dave Roberts, VP of Hardware Engineering Johnathan Redshaw, and Senior Software Engineering Manager Benjamin Bowman – who is now a GPU architect for the Cupertino company. While the list of grievances prior to today’s breakup is not against the law, it is considered a serious exodus of raw talent that is evidently justified in Imagination’s disconcerted press statement.

Following the statement, Imagination shares plunged by nearly 70 percent, leading to its insistence that it has reason to go to court with the Cupertino company if it finds enough evidence to present a case. This decade, several GPU vendors have taken SoC vendors to court, including Nvidia with Samsung and Qualcomm, and an ongoing AMD case against LG, MediaTek, Sigma and Vizio.

Apple, however, has chosen to remain silent when asked for evidence that its in-house technologies would not violate existing patents. The question is whether Apple will choose to license any needed patents – from Imagination or others – or if it is not talking because GPU development is a lot more competitive now that programs aren’t tied to a specific architecture.

As AnandTech notes, there hasn’t been a new major GPU vendor in nearly a decade aside from Qualcomm’s acquisition of ATI’s Imageon brand (now Adreno) in 2009. It will be interesting to see how this development unfolds and the precautions Apple will need to take in hiding technical details of any upcoming graphics developments. Imagination, on the other hand, now has to work much harder in making up for lost revenues and may have some related announcements over the next few weeks.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Smartphones On The Way Out?

April 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

This is not an extremely late April 1st, and we admit that it is a little early given that its replacement has not shown up yet, but we predict that it will go the way of the dodo, the Norwegian Blue, the bleeper and the Crackberry.

OK it is probably a few years off, but the technology is so persuasive that its death will be longer than the exit of a hero in a South American soap opera.

For a while now smartphone sales have slowed. Basically the structure developed by Nokia and stolen by Apple and copied everywhere has run out of places to go. There is no more innovation in smartphones any longer, despite what is claimed particularly by the Tame Apple Press. Chip speeds have increased slightly and are about as fast as they are going to get. Even if someone gets a chip to the speeds of a PC it is not going to make a hell of a lot of difference.

What is coming next is being sorted out by the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Google along with Elon Musk. Apple of course is waiting for the next biggest thing to be developed by others before it takes a risk.

So what will get rid of it? While the Tame Apple Press think it will be something more like the Amazon Echo, Sony PlayStation VR, and the SmartWatch that is mostly because that is pretty much Apple’s current agenda.

No doubt AR and VR could be the way it is going. Certainly some sort of interface which projects detailed 3D images straight into your eyes while you interact with your environment. So instead of typing this on a screen I will be typing it on a nice egonomic bit of rubber while the words are appearing before my eyes. A more portable version would put a keyboard onto any surface.

Microsoft thinks that is the way things will go and the tech will replace the smartphone, the TV, and sex, and anything else with a screen with sounds going in through a headphone.

As artificial intelligence systems like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Samsung’s Bixby, and Microsoft’s Cortana get smarter, there is going to be a rise not just in talking to computers, but having them talk back.

All this makes the smartphone redundant and limited. Sure it will be a good decade before this brave new world takes off and it will be a slow slide rather than anything great, but we are seeing the change start happening now. The world is bored with smartphones and they are just not having the impact they used to.

Courtesy-Fud

Foxconn Said To Be Preparing To Offer $27B For Toshiba’s Chip Business

April 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer made famous as the maker of iPhones and iPads for Apple, is rumored to be preparing a $27 billion bid to acquire Toshiba’s computer chip assets.

Toshiba is most commonly recognized for making NAND flash and memory chips, with all of its factories in Japan. However, chip manufacturing in Japan has slipped as rivals in South Korea and China gain in strength.

The news of the potential offer was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Foxconn is the latest of a number of companies, including SK Hynix and equity investor Silver Lake, interested in acquiring Toshiba’s chip assets.

An acquisition by Foxconn would give Toshiba the scale it needs to advance in the manufacturing of memory and storage. Toshiba is lagging behind Samsung, especially in storage, and hasn’t advanced its manufacturing processes as quickly.

Toshiba storage products can be purchased directly, but it also supplies and makes flash products for other hardware companies. The divestiture of its manufacturing assets could have an impact on SanDisk, which is a part of Toshiba.

In February, Toshiba said it was looking to sell its memory business. The need to sell the assets amplified after its Westinghouse Electric nuclear power unit filed for bankruptcy in late March. Overall, Toshiba is expecting a decline in revenue and profits this financial year.

Foxconn, on the other hand, is gathering up assets around the world, with factories in North America, Asia, Europe, and South America. Foxconn last year targeted another major Japanese company — Sharp — and it acquired a majority stake.

Japan still remains a technology powerhouse despite the dwindling of manufacturing assets. But last year, Japanese company SoftBank acquired ARM Holdings, which provides chip designs that go into many mobile devices.

FCC Won’t Support Move To All In-flight Mobile Calls

April 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has announced that he is proposing to pull the plug on a 2013 regulatory proceeding that had sought to lift the ban on mobile phones on U.S. airlines.

The FCC said in 2013 that it would consider allowing air travelers to make mobile phone calls but never finalized it.

“I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America’s flying public against the FCC’s ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cellphone calls on planes. I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

Pai needs the backing of the two other commissioners for the 2013 proposal to be formally abandoned.

In 2013, the FCC said special equipment could be installed on planes to allow in-flight calls and said it had already been deployed successfully in other countries without incident.

The FCC under then chairman Tom Wheeler said there were “no technical reasons to prohibit such technology to operate” but proposed leaving it to airlines whether to allow mobile phone calls.

In 2013, Pai said Wheeler’s proposal would likely require airlines to become commercial mobile radio station carriers to offer in-flight calling.

The U.S. Transportation Department said in December that it was considering allowing passengers to make in-flight calls using Wi-Fi. The agency also sought comment on whether it should ban all voice calls on all U.S. flights.

Last month, major airlines said the Trump administration should delay action on the in-air mobile call proposal as it reviews other pending regulatory issues.

PC, Mobile Device Prices Expected To Rise This Year

April 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

If you plan to purchase a new PC or mobile device this year, you’ll likely spend more cash than in previous years. Prices are trending upwards, and expensive devices are in demand.

On average, the price of PCs and phones will go up by 2 percent this year, Gartner said in a research report released on Thursday. The calculations are based on U.S. dollars and average market sizes.

Breaking down those numbers, PC prices are expected to go up 1.4 percent this year, while mobile phone prices will go up 4.3 percent.

The price increases are largely due to the rising prices of components. Also, more users are upgrading to more expensive and feature-rich mobile handsets.

The days of users preferring to buy the cheapest products are gone, said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

Buyers are less price sensitive and are instead buying devices “that suit their lifestyles,” Atwal said.

Gartner’s forecast is in line with a projection in February by Lenovo’s chief operating officer, Gianfranco Lanci, who said PC prices would go up this year due to a shortage of DRAM, SSDs, batteries and LCDs.

The cost of components like NAND flash have doubled since June, Gartner said.

The overall cost of purchasing components is going up. Moreover, millennials are willing to spend more on devices.

This year is expected to be big for smartphones. Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 smartphones, and Apple is expected to launch its 10th anniversary iPhone later this year. Premium-priced smartphones will go up by roughly 4 percent, Gartner said.

Android phones will suffer the most from the price increases. In emerging markets like China and India, Android phones are popular because of their affordability, but prices are also going up in those countries.

High-end Android smartphones offer more differentiation on features than generic low-end phones, giving a reason for buyers to spend a bit more to upgrade.

A good barometer for mobile phone pricing is the Chinese market. Global pricing of Chinese-branded smartphones will go up to RMB 2,000 (US$290) by the end of this year from RMB 1,700 (US$246) at the end of last year, analyst firm Trendforce said last month. That’s partly because NAND flash supply is tightening.

According to Gartner, smartphone shipments worldwide this year will total 1.9 billion units, up from 1.89 billion last year.

The PC market has slowed and is being driven by high-priced gaming PCs and 2-in-1s. Buyers of those PCs are willing to spend more money on their computers.

That trend is changing the types of computers shipped by PC makers, which are focused on selling higher-priced products that can deliver larger profit margins.

Low-end laptops and desktops will remain available, but PC makers like Dell and HP are slimming down those offerings. Low-cost laptops like Chromebooks typically have aging components, little storage, low-resolution webcams and limited memory.

Gartner estimates 426 million computing devices, including PCs and tablets, will ship this year, dropping from 439 million last year. PC shipments will total 265 million this year, dropping from 270 million last year. Shipment of tablet devices like the iPad will total 161 million, dropping from 169 million last year, the analyst group predicted.

Facebook’s Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Unit Named In Patent Lawsuit

April 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Facebook Inc’s virtual reality unit Oculus VR has been hit with a lawsuit alleging it incorporated without authorization a smaller competitor’s patented technology into its Rift headset.

Techno View IP Inc, a Newport Beach, California-based technology licensing firm, filed suit against Facebook and Oculus for infringing a 3D imaging patent owned by the VR headset maker ImmersiON-VRelia.

According to the complaint filed in federal court in Delaware, ImmersiON-VRelia, which has offices in Spain and California, agreed to let Techno View litigate the patent on its behalf.

The lawsuit comes as Facebook weighs its options following a $500 million verdict in an unrelated lawsuit brought over its VR technology by video game developer ZeniMax Media Inc. A Dallas federal jury in February found Oculus used copyrighted computer code developed by video game designer John Carmack while employed at ZeniMax.

Lawyers for Oculus and Facebook have said they will seek to have the verdict set aside.

ImmersiON-VRelia makes VR headsets similar to the Oculus Rift, as well as a VR device for use with smartphones. Techno View said in its lawsuit ImmersiON-VRelia’s chief executive, Manuel Gutierrez Novelo, attained several patents between 2003 and 2006 on various aspects of VR technology.

Techno View said Oculus and Facebook specifically infringed a patent held by ImmersiON-VRelia on a method of generating left and right perspectives in a 3D video game. Techno View said it may add claims relating to other patents owned ImmersiON-VRelia at a later date.

Facebook acquired Oculus for an estimated $3 billion in 2014. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has predicted that virtual reality “will be part of people’s daily lives,” revolutionizing industries like media, education and medicine.

Facebook and Oculus did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Techno View’s lawsuit.

The case is Techno View IP Inc v. Oculus VR LLC and Facebook Inc, 17cv00386, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

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