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Facebook Continues To Lose Younger Users To Snapchat, Instagram

October 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

facebook-teens-150x150Facebook has been having a hard time attracting  younger users for several years now and it looks like the problem is getting worse.

According to Piper Jaffray Companies, a recent survey of 10,000 U.S. teenagers showed that 52% used Facebook at least once a month this fall, compared to 60% who used it monthly in the spring.

“Factoring out shifts in the population surveyed, core Facebook usage likely declined by three basis points, which indicates Facebook is gradually becoming less relevant versus Instagram and Snapchat,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note to investors.

The same survey, however, showed that teen use of Facebook-owned Instagram has gone from 70% to 74% in the same time frame — and rose from 75% to 80% for rival Snapchat.

When asked what their favorite social network was this fall, 35% said Snapchat; 24% said Instagram; and 13% said Twitter and Facebook (which tied for third place).

While older users – say anywhere from 35 to 65 years old – have shown to be loyal Facebook users, the site isn’t pulling in enough users 24 and younger to offset losses as older users die off.

“Well, think about it,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “If Facebook just lost 8% of all teens, that’s millions of users…. Over time, they need to keep the funnel of users coming in on the younger side. I think it creates a huge issue down the road. It’s not likely they can add users that are of older generations. They probably have all they will get from anyone 30 and older.”

Facebook certainly has been working to draw in younger users.

In August, Facebook unveiled its Lifestage stand-alone app. Designed for iOS devices, the app enables teen users to share videos with other people in their schools.

Lifestage was born as a rival to Snapchat and basically a video version of an early stage Facebook.

Also, in March, the company bought face-swapping app Masquerade or MSQRD. The app enables users to dress up their photos and selfies with an Iron Man helmet or a panda outfit.

Facebook hoped that by being able to add special effects to their pics, teens and young adults would be pulled onto Facebook — or at least one of the apps. But so far, at least, those efforts don’t appear to be panning out.

Qualcomm Plans To Ship 5G Modems In 2018

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

qualcom-bldg-150x1505G networks will be five times as fast as the quickest LTE technology by taking advantage of the highest cellular frequencies ever, according to Qualcomm.

The X50 modem won’t ship until the first half of 2018, and 5G networks aren’t expected to go commercial until 2020. But Qualcomm will have a lot to say about the new technology at its 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong. At the same event, it’s announcing plans around its gigabit-speed X16 LTE modem.

The X50 will offer download speeds as high as 5Gbps (bits per second), where networks support them, using millimeter-wave frequencies and futuristic techniques for beaming signals to devices, according to slides prepared for the 4G/5G Summit. Qualcomm shared the materials in advance.

The X50 initially will use the 28GHz band, which is also the focus of 5G development work at the Verizon 5G Technology Forum and Korea Telecom 5G Special Interest Group. It’s one of several millimeter-wave bands that are widely expected to be used for 5G.

Cellular networks up to now have stayed below 6GHz, because higher frequencies don’t naturally travel as far or go through objects as easily. But a lot more bandwidth is expected to become available in millimeter-wave bands in the coming years. Qualcomm says the X50 will be able to use a combined 800MHz of spectrum, compared with up to 80MHz for the X16.

The future modem will use several emerging techniques to make this work. Key tools are beam-forming and beam-tracking, in which a cell can focus its signal to reach a specific mobile device and then follow that device as it moves around. The X50 will even be able to bounce its signal off hard surfaces in order to get around objects between the cell and the user.

Qualcomm expects the X50 modem to ship to system makers in sample quantities starting in the second half of next year. Combined with a gigabit-speed LTE modem, the X50 will form the basis of dual-mode 4G/5G devices. LTE and 5G are expected to coexist for many years.

Meanwhile, the X16 LTE modem will be coming out in a consumer device in the next few months. The NetGear Mobile Router MR1100, a mobile hotspot that provides a Wi-Fi connection on the go, will be sold by Australian carrier Telstra, Qualcomm announced Tuesday.

Is Qualcomm Moving Toward Iris And Retina World?

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm’s Sy Choundhury, Senior Director of Product Management, talked to the media audience in Hong Kong at the 4G and 5G summit about the security mechanisms and machine learning capabilities of Snapdragon processors. 

He came up with a nice reference when talking about security, saying it is comparable with talking about hygiene. You don’t know where it starts and where it stops and this topic doesn’t get a lot of traffic unless one gets hacked / compromised.

Sy talked about security beyond fingerprint and predicts that eye-based security will happen with a lot of OEM devices next year.

Fingerprint sounds secure and it is good enough for most customers, but it looks like eye-based technologies will take over in more devices over the next year.

Microsoft and HP launched rather low volume Windows-based phones, first with iris-based recognition last year. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was the high volume phone that got positive reviews on iris recognition and security performance.

Unfortunately, Samsung canned the Note 7 due the battery issues but there will be more phones with iris security in the near future. Some companies chose to use the retina recognition, which is interesting as it doesn’t require any additional hardware. While iris recognition needs additional hardware that adds a few dollars to the Bill of Materials (BOM), retina scanning uses the RGB camera that you already have on your phone.

The downside is that you need a lot of computation power on both the CPU and GPU side, but since the SoCs are getting better and faster this should be a matter of software optimization to really make good use of the mobile chipsets.

Iris scanning seems to be an industry leader, and it will coexist with retina scanning, but it can take up to 4 years for both iris and retina sensors to be as widely used as fingerprint sensors are used now. Not to mention, security experts will love the fact that with iris and fingerprint sensors, you can get a two-factor authentication.

Companies like AliPay are investing a lot of money and they acquired EyeVerify, the company that was working on a retina-based verification solution. AliPay naturally works on a secured payment and as many of you know Apple Pay, along with Android Pay and Samsung Pay do rely on a fingerprint and with that authentication they do quite a good job.

Face recognition is also something that might be used by some devices and there is a lot of research about it as apparently your face has enough distinctive features to make it work reliably.

The future will bring some additional ways of security, and should be viewed as a good thing. Despite the whole fuss, most computers still use passwords, and most homes still use a physical key to unlock.


Qualcomm’s First 5G Modem Coming In 2017

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Qualcomm has surprised the audience at the 4G/5G summit this week in Hong Kong by launching the world’s first 5G modem. The Snapdragon X50, as it is called, supports operations in the millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28GHz band.

It will employ Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques. Before we get you any additional details, we want to let you know that with 800 MHz bandwidth support, you get to peak download speeds of 5Gbps. That translates to about  625MB/s maximum download speed.

Qualcomm’s X16 modem is the world’s first gigabit-class modem that can theoretically get you to 1000Mbps, or 125MB/s maximal speed.

One of the limitations of the mmWave spectrum is that it doesn’t really penetrate walls, but with the help of beam forming and beam tracking the signal can propagate off walls and get you the desired speeds.

Snapdragon X50, on the other hand, is a chip that works together with Snapdragon 4G modems. Since Snapdragon X50 is launching in the second part of 2017, it should launch in devices in 2018. Fudzilla wrote before that 2018 is the year when real life trials of 5G networks will start around the world. The real deployment is expected by 2020 by at least major telecoms, but you got to start somewhere.

“The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase,” says Cristiano Amon, Executive Vice President, QTI and President, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “Utilizing our long history of LTE and Wi-Fi leadership, we are thrilled to deliver a product that will help play a critical role in bringing 5G devices and networks to reality. This shows that we’re not just talking about 5G, we’re truly committed to it.”

The 5G modem will need a 4G modem to use the standard LTE 1 Gbps class services. The Snapdragon X80 is designed to be used for multi-mode 4G/5G mobile broadband via dual connectivity.

The Snapdragon X50 will provide 5G services while Snapdragon X16 will provide traditional 4G LTE-A services. Naturally with times we can see that the 4G part will get integrated in the 5G modem, but this is a bit down the road from now.

If you have any doubts that 5Gbps peak speeds are too much, you think about 360 videos, 4K and 8K video, virtual reality streaming, and you will quickly realize that we will one again be able to eat up the data.

The data caps will largely increase, but just give it some time. T-Mobile in the US has a sort of unlimited data plan today, and things will only get better from this point.


Did AMD Kill Gaming Evolved?

October 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-amd-evolvedAMD has apparently decided to discontinue support for Raptr’s Gaming Evolved App which will no longer be bundled with Radeon Software drivers package.

Since it did not come with some of the latest AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver packages, the guys over at contacted AMD which gave them an official response that since September 12th, AMD is no longer bundling the AMD Gaming Evolved App by Raptr with its Radeon Software and will not provide any official support for it, including compatibility testing, install support or general technical support.

Those that still want to use it can get the Gaming Evolved App directly from Raptr or with previous builds of Radeon Software drivers package.

AMD is either making a new in-house app that will replace the one from Raptr or is simply now focusing on hardware and drivers. Unfortunately, this leaves it without any competition for the Nvidia’s Geforce Experience app which recently got completely overhauled and looks quite good.


Will Apple Benefit By Leaps And Bounds Off The Note 7 Disaster?

October 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0note7Samsung is going to lose a few customers over its Note 7 fiasco, but not as many as the Apple fanboys have speculated.

The Tame Apple Press has been claiming that almost all the Galaxy Note 7 customers would defect to Apple’s iPhone 7, but a new survey suggests that less than 12 percent  of them are thinking like this, and that number is shrinking by the day.

Branding Brand conducted a second survey of 1,000 Samsung smartphone owners from October 11-12 to compare consumer confidence to its earlier study, conducted on September 23.

It seems that only 40 percent of Note7 users have had enough of Samsung and want to go somewhere else. Given what has happened, this is a rather small figure and of that 40 percent, less than a third are moving to something Applish. This figure is down from an earlier survey which was conducted after the first recall.

As expected most Samsung users  will go with another Android phone (up to 62 percent from 57 percent) and eight percent thought they would buy a Google Pixel. Given that is not really out yet we are not even sure why this option was in the survey. The Pixel is another Android device that means that Apple is going to get only 12 percent of the total Samsung users. More than 88 per cent of Note 7 users will either stay wilt Samsung or Android.

Chris Mason, co-founder and CEO of Branding Brand said:

“As we’ve watched the Galaxy Note7 recall and discontinuation play out, even more people say they will switch their smartphone brand. Consumers want to be confident in their personal safety and will choose a new smartphone accordingly. Only a week after Google’s smartphone launch, many already have their sights set on the Pixel.”


Your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Is Not Welcomed On Any U.S. Flight

October 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-fires-150x150The U.S. government has issued an emergency ban of Samsung’s exploding Galaxy Note7 devices from all flights, strongly urging device owners to take advantage of the company’s exchange and refund offers.

Owners of Galaxy Note7s may not transport the devices on their person, in carry-on baggage, or in checked luggage, Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration said. The smartphones also cannot be shipped as air cargo under the ban, which goes into effect Saturday at noon Eastern Time.

Passengers who attempt to evade the ban by packing their phone in checked luggage are “increasing the risk of a catastrophic incident,” the agencies said in a press release. Anyone violating the ban could face criminal prosecution and fines.

Samsung said it is cooperating with the ban. The company is working with airlines to communicate the ban, a spokeswoman said by email. “Any Galaxy Note7 owner should visit their carrier and retail store to participate in the U.S. Note7 refund and exchange program now,” she added by email. “We realize this is an inconvenience but your safety has to remain our top priority.”

Samsung started selling the phone in the U.S. in August, and users almost immediately reported exploding devices. In early September, the FAA advised owners not to turn on or charge their devices on flights.

Samsung has twice recalled the devices, but some replaced phones have caught fire as well. The company stopped selling the phone earlier this week. Some owners have hung onto their devices, however.

“The fire hazard with the original Note7 and with the replacement Note7 is simply too great for anyone to risk it and not respond to this official recall,” Elliot Kaye, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a press release. “I would like to remind consumers once again to take advantage of the remedies offered, including a full refund.  It’s the right thing to do and the safest thing to do.”

HTC Releases New Virtual Reality Gadgets

October 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-vr-gadgetsHTC has been showing off the prototype of its VR controller and position-tracking modules for its virtual reality headsets.

The assorted throngs at Valve’s Steam Dev Days developer conference had a chance to play with the new gear although the press were banned from taking photos. Apparently some members of the great unwashed who were not showing their press cards managed to tweet pictures of them playing with the new controllers before HTC bouncers could stop them.

The controller is smaller than the current Vive controller and it strap to the player’s palm, so users can open their hands without dropping them. HTC said there are 21 sensors on the current prototype but was managing to keep all other technical details under wraps.

Personally we are not impressed with this line of technology. Strapping on armour to play a game, or do anything important is not really the way VR should work.  These remind us a little too much like handcuffs, and while that is great for watching sometime of VR porn, it will not be useful for the rest of the time.

It would be much better if they did everything with external cameras which track your every movement and limit the number of censors you have to wear. Making the user look like an idiot will always be a big handicap for VR and this sort of thing does not help.    


Samsung Offers Financial Incentive For Return Of Galaxy Note 7 Phones

October 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung Electronics has begun offering financial incentives for U.S. and South Korea customers who turn in their Note 7s for other products or refund them, as the tech giant scrambles to shore up its reputation in the wake of a damaging safety crisis.

The consumer electronics company is also expanding a U.S. recall of the fire-prone model to a total 1.9 million Note 7 phones, which includes the 1 million Galaxy Note 7s it recalled on Sept. 15.

The South Korean giant is in damage-control mode as rivals like Apple Inc and LG Electronics try to steal market share from the global smartphone leader after it was forced to scrap its latest high-end device.

Samsung is boosting its marketing and promotional efforts around other Galaxy-series smartphones to cushion the blow from the demise of the premium Note 7, which it finally abandoned this week after failing to resolve overheating problems which caused some of the phones to ignite.

Samsung said on Thursday it is offering up to $100 in bill credit to consumers who exchange their Note 7s for any Samsung smartphone in the U.S.

U.S. customers who exchange their Note 7s for a refund or other branded smartphone will receive $25 in bill credit.

“We appreciate the patience of our consumers, carriers and retail partners for carrying the burden during these challenging times,” said Tim Baxter, president and chief operating officer, Samsung Electronics America.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to make this right.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Thursday the Note 7’s “battery can overheat and catch fire, posing serious fire and burn hazard to consumers.”

It added that Samsung has received 96 reports of batteries in Note 7 phones overheating in the U.S., including 23 new reports since the Sept. 15 recall announcement.

In the U.S., Samsung began sending fireproof boxes and protective gloves to customers returning potentially explosive Note 7s, drawing humorous barbs from social media commentators.

The company has commenced offering similar financial incentives in its home market of South Korea, which it says would compensate consumers for their “big inconvenience.”

After days of heavy losses, Samsung’s shares ended 1.4 percent higher on Thursday while the broader market fell 0.9 percent.

On Wednesday, the firm slashed its quarterly profit estimate by $2.3 billion to reflect the impact of the Note 7 withdrawal, giving some investors hope that the financial cost of the debacle had been largely accounted for.

“We are confident the 3Q 16 re-statement puts to bed the direct financial impact of the Note 7 recall and termination,” UBS said in a report.

“In the near-term, we believe investors will re-focus on shareholders returns ahead of full 3Q results Oct 27th.”

Is Gears Of War 4 Appease The Harsh Critics?

October 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-gears-4For game critics, loving Gears of War has been problematic since the very beginning. The rippling, testosterone drenched surface of Epic’s franchise served as a distraction from its abundant qualities. Looking back, it’s clear that the first game, released in 2006, provided the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era with the kind of moment that arguably still hasn’t arrived for the current generation. It was a new visual benchmark, its sense of weight and physical force was entirely distinct, and – a year before the launch of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – it introduced the most credible new multiplayer experience since Halo. For those who based their professional integrity on distinguishing good games from bad, to notice and appreciate any of this was to miss the square-jaws and lumpen dialogue that comprised its story.

Looking back now, it’s clear that Gears of War was one of the defining series of the last console generation, influencing the creative direction of a large proportion of action games, driving the development community towards the Unreal Engine in droves, and with Horde mode in Gears of War 2, introducing a multiplayer concept that would be adopted by everything from Uncharted to Mass Effect. Even its marketing was influential: Gears of War’s popular “Mad World” trailer might well be the origin of action games using pained, acoustic covers of popular songs to score their artfully spliced carnage.

Despite this estimable legacy, however, the reviews of Gears of War 4 are shot through with an almost apologetic tone; a need to address the (arguably misplaced) perception of Gears as nothing more than a dude-bro power fantasy. Polygon, which awards the game an impressive 9 out of 10, spends a full third of its review on story and characterisation, opening with a declaration that, “Gears of War 4 is about home and family.”

“Gears of War as a series has dealt with accusations of hyper-masculine excess and an emphasis on gore and violence since it was first announced more than ten years ago. And it’s not that those observations are wrong, exactly – the characters have always been larger than life, the men in particular wide and heavy, and the violence of the series has always been extreme and enthusiastic. But beneath or even in parallel to that aspect, there’s always been consistent themes of friendship, of relationships of support and camaraderie that would seem corny in most other games but, somehow, work in Gears of War for a passionate fanbase.”

This protagonist of this reboot – which was developed by Microsoft’s The Coalition – is J. D. Fenix, the son of the original series’ central character, Marcus Fenix. Both father and son play pivotal roles in the game’s story, which Polygon describes as, “more focused, less sprawling story than the last few entries… A lot of time is spent exploring the strained relationship between Marcus and his son, with a lot of perspective on both sides of the equation.” The game’s various other key characters all have their own emotional journeys, largely relating to those themes of family and friendship. Gears of War 4’s story and character time works as well as it does for several reasons,” Polygon says. “The writing is matter-of-fact, avoiding over-stoicism and also overwrought fluff for the most part.”

If this is an area of weakness that The Coalition sought to address, then the abiding sense from the game’s reviews is that it has made a significant improvement. Whether that’s what the vast majority of Gears of War’s players care about is another matter, of course, but The Coalition hasn’t dropped the ball with the series’ core strengths, either. Polygon praises Gears of War 4 as “simply a joy to play,” and that sentiment echoes throughout the critical discourse.

The Daily Telegraph, which awards four stars, applauds the “muscular and endlessly gratifying thrill” of the gunplay, which carries the game through a slow start that serves, “as an elongated (re)introduction to that well-oiled Gears combat, flashing between cover-to-cover, switching between shotgun and rifle and familiarising yourself with the rattle of an emptying clip and the satisfaction of a well-timed, power-boosting active reload.” There are two new enemy races to fight in place of the original series’ Locust, and “weaponry…as exotic as the bestiary” with which to fight them. The need to switch between distinct weapons to fight equally distinct weapon types has always been central to Gears of War’s appeal. Here, again, The Coalition has honoured its heritage.

The same is true of Gears of War 4 as a spectacle. You won’t find a single review that doesn’t proclaim it to be one of the very best looking games on either Xbox One or PlayStation 4, and the same is true is the PC version. Indeed, PCGamesN calls it “a visual and technical tour de force,” maintaining “searing frame-rates on ‘ultra’ settings during some of the most mind-blowing – if cheesy – set-pieces I’ve seen in games, while also inviting me to appreciate the vivid redness of sycamore leaves lazily billowing on a cracked yellow wall in a medieval town square on some parallel-to-Earth planet.”

That last observation is crucial, because the beauty of Gears 4 goes beyond polygons, framerates and animations, and extends to art direction. “This certainly ain’t the grey-brown Gears of old,” PCGamesN says, before adding, “the diversity of what it shows is stunning… This is a far cry from the game that single-handedly started the stereotype of the ‘murky brown war shooter’, taking us instead on a historical tour of the vestiges of a world parallel to ours, yet still different enough to be mysterious; I almost felt guilty as I stomped around a scenic town as a giant mech, casually calling in airstrikes to smash my way through buildings. Almost.”

Words like “jawdropping,” “stunning,” “incredible” and “breathtaking” are scattered throughout this and many other reviews, to the point where the handful of scores that fall below 8 out of 10 demand close attention. For Jimquisition, the website started by ex-Destructoid personality Jim Sterling, “there’s nothing quite like Gears on the market. The sense of weight, the meaty impact of combat, the gruesomely satisfying way heads pop and bodies burst, any given Gears game has a baseline quality even at its worst thanks to its undeniably unique style.” However, Gears of War 4 relies on that “baseline quality” a little too much, The Coalition happy to make the improvements necessary to maintain relative standards but, “doing very little to rock the boat and making minor improvements and evolving where needed.”

“Such a tactic provides a game that’s decent just because it’s Gears of War, relying on the groundwork established across four older games to maintain the baseline. And that’s most certainly what Gears 4 is. A maintenance of the series as opposed to an injection of fresh blood.”

In a sense, then, the game’s most ardent supporters and most vocal critics are in full agreement: Gears of War 4 absolutely meets the standard set by its forebears, which is either something to praise or lament depending on the individual. One suspects, though, that in the absence of new Gears, the public will be more than happy to settle for more Gears.

Is Samsung Ready For The Galaxy S8

October 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Just moments after Samsung officially confirmed that it is stopping  production of Note 7 and halting all  sales, the first realistic Galaxy S8 rumors have emerged. 

According to a leak on the Weibo social network there will be two variants of the Galaxy S8 – the 5.1-inch and 5.5 inch. We are quite sure that the 5.5-inch version comes with an edge shaped screen and it is likely to be imaginatively called the Samsung Galaxy S8 Edge.

According to the leak, both versions of the S8 will use Super Amoled screens. The 5.1 version comes with a QHD (2560×1440) while the 5.5 version might have a 4K display.

As we indicated before, there will be two processers powering the Galaxy S8 phones. One is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 while the other is the Exynos 8895. The Snapdragon 830 can be safely called the 10nm successor of Snapdragon 820. The Exynos 8895 will likely use the same processor.

It is likely that Samsung will offer Exynos powered phones in the European market and leave us with a less attractive modem. The US and some other markets will end up with the better Qualcomm variant.

The Galaxy S8 comes with two main cameras, that is the current trend for high end phones and it will incorporate the UFS 2.1 flash storage.

One not so surprising announcement is that the Samsung’s S Voice might be replaced by the Viv assistant. Samsung just bought  Viv – the digital assistant that was created by one of the people who gave the world  Siri.

Most of the leaked information make sense, but again, we will have to wait and see if the information is really accurate. It would make a lot of sense to see Galaxy S8 phones with the specifications mentioned above. Some colleagues are confident that the phone may launch on February 26 2017. We are confident the launch might take place a day or two before the Mobile World Congress 2017, that takes place in Barcelona and starts on 27 February.


The Galaxy Note Fiasco Brings Profit Woes To Samsung

October 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

samsung-building-150x150Samsung Electronics Co cut its quarterly profit estimate by a third on Wednesday, absorbing a $2.3 billion hit from ditching its flagship smartphone in what could be one of the costliest product safety failures in tech history.

Quantifying the financial pain of Tuesday’s move to scrap the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after a global recall and weeks of mounting problems, the world’s top smartphone maker said it expects its July-September operating profit was 5.2 trillion won ($4.7 billion), down from the 7.8 trillion won it estimated five days ago.

Samsung said in a statement the 2.6 trillion won ($2.3 billion) guidance cut reflects the sales and earning impact it currently expects from the decision to permanently halt sales of the $882 Note 7 device. Its third-quarter revenue estimate was also cut to 47 trillion won from 49 trillion won previously.

The new earnings guidance is 30 percent below third-quarter 2015’s operating profit, and left investors and analysts pondering the longer impact on Samsung’s brand and earnings. Rival suppliers of smartphones that use the Android operating system, like Samsung’s, stand to benefit if the Note 7 damage drive consumers elsewhere.

“It’s possible there could be additional profit impact in the fourth quarter but it likely won’t be as large as the third quarter,” said Park Jung-hoon, a fund manager at HDC Asset Management, which owns shares in Samsung. “I think it’s possible for fourth-quarter profits to come in as much as the high 7 trillion won range.”

Samsung shares ended down 0.7 percent on Wednesday, with the Seoul market closing before the earnings guidance cut was announced.

Can Qualcomm Succeed With Two Versions Of The Snapdragon 830?

October 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm appears to be returning to the two high end chips strategy and you can expect to see two variants of what we call Snapdragon 830. They will end up with two different product numbers, one being higher than the other.

Back in 2014, Qualcomm announced Snapdragon 808 and 810 and the company plans to use the same two chip strategy with the latest 10nm SoC. We don’t have definitive information what will be the difference between the two chips and what the final brands are going to be, but we do know that there will be two different SoC chips.

Even the Snapdragon 820 had two versions, something that was not really loudly communicated. Xiaomi launched its entry level Xiaomi Mi5 phone with Snapdragon 820 “lite”, the SoC that used the same internal MSM8996 name but clocked to 1.8GHz for the fast cores and 1.36GHz for two power saving cores. The faster version of Snapdragon 820 ended up with 2.15GHz for two fast cores and 1.56 GHz for the power saving cores.

Apart from the Xiaomi Mi5 32GB / 3GB RAM we are not aware that any other manufacturer used the MSM8996 lite.

The chip that all the press persistently calls the Snapdragon 830, a 10nm FinFET MSM8996 is rumored to have as much as eight Kryo 200 cores, Adreno 540 GPU, support LPDDR4X memory and come with Snapdragon X16, and a 1Gbps capable modem. The Snapdragon X16 modem supports LTE Cat 16 (1000Mbit/s) download and LTE Cat 13 (150Mbit/s) upload speeds.

Qualcomm launched a standalone version of the modem in February 2016 and it looks like that these speeds will be integrated in the Snapdragon 830 SoC.

Snapdragon 820 was definitely a successful product for Qualcomm as it ended up in more than 150 phones and it was even re-released as Snapdragon 821, clocked at 2.34 GHz for the high performance and 2.19 GHz for the power saving Kryo cores. Even the GPU clock jumped from its original 624MHz to 653MHz. The company told us to expect that GPU performance would increase by some 10 percent.  

So far, the new Snapdragon 821 landed up in a few prominent phones, including ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe, Xiaomi Mi 5s, Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus, LeEco Le Pro 3 and the recently  announced Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL.

Semiconductor companies like Intel or Qualcomm can always further optimize the chip a few quarters after a release, but  only choose to do so if a major customer expresses a wish for it, and of course, orders enough SoCs to make it financially viable.

With that in mind, Snapdragon 830 could get a faster version in Q3 2017 that might power some higher end phones launching in Q4 2017 too.


Can Google Sell 4 Million Overpriced Pixels By Years End?

October 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-over-pixelAccording to new estimates from Digitimes Research, the recently announced Google Pixel smartphone is expected to reach 3 to 4 million shipments in the second half of this year, giving a 10 percent increase in HTC’s total smartphone shipments from the first half.

Google’s latest Pixel and Pixel XL devices come in 5-inch and 5.2-inch display sizes and feature a quad-core Snapdragon 821 processor, a 12.3-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front camera and look very similar to Apple’s iPhone from an aesthetic perspective. Pricing is also very similar, as the Pixel starts at $649 for 32GB and the Pixel XL starts at $769, while the iPhone 7 is also $649 for 32GB and the iPhone 7 Plus is $769 for 32GB.

Performance similar to Snapdragon 820 devices

Recently, the performance of the latest Snapdragon 821-powered flagship Android devices has become a recent site of investigation, When averaging the top eight Geekbench 4.0.1 scores sorted by multi-core performance, the results show the Pixel and Pixel XL receiving scores of around 1,603 single-core and 4,106 multi-core, still lower on average than the iPhone 6S (2,506 / 4,320). Meanwhile, the A10-powered iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus manage scores of around 3,473 single-core and 5,707 multi-core.

For the most part, the Pixel and Pixel XL seem more in line with the HTC 10 (1,745 / 3,961) and LG G5 (1,699 / 4,108), both of which feature the Snapdragon 820 with 2.15GHz high-performance cores and 1.6GHz power-efficient cores. The Snapdragon 821 features two 2.4GHz high-performance cores and two 2GHz power-efficient cores, meaning Google’s Pixel smartphones should be at least 10 percent faster than these devices, but this does not seem to be the case in this benchmarking utility for now.

Battery life is another story entirely, and this is where the Snapdragon 821 shows improvement over Snapdragon 820 devices including the previous Nexus 5X and 6P. Internet browsing over LTE improves by 60.2 percent over the Nexus 5X and 30 percent over the 6P, while talk time improves about 30 percent over the Nexus 5X and 13 percent over the 6P, according to a list compiled independently by Reddit user TyGamer125.

Pixel, Pixel XL will be 40 to 50 percent of HTC shipments

Meanwhile, Google’s launch of the HTC-manufactured Pixel smartphones is projected to increase HTC’s total handset shipments to around 6.5 and 7 million units by the end of the year, up from between 5.8 and 6.1 million units in the first half.

According to Luke Lin, a senior analyst at Digitimes Research, Pixel shipments should account for around 40 to 50 percent of HTC’s total smartphone shipments in the second half of this year.


Will Sound Push The Oculus VR To Faster Growth?

October 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Oculus VR has introduced new Oculus Earphones which it claims will give “next-level audio integration,”

The outfit added that they will be a  “new sound solution to satisfy even the most serious audiophiles.” We have grave doubts about that from the outset.

Any audiophile will dismiss earbuds in any shape simply on principle, particularly when they are priced at $49. Earbuds which lost lesst han $50 will be the audiophone equivalent of listening to sound between two bean tins attached with a piece of string. The fact that these are being touted as an improvement on the Company’s Rift VR headset there is now worries me –  it means that the sound is currently as a Justin Beiber concert but you can get an upgrade so that it sounds like a Céline Dion concert held in a rubbish skip.

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, who announced them at the third-annual Oculus Connect developers conference in San Jose, CA.

Oculus Earphones will be available to buy from 6 December, though you can pre-order them starting 10 October on There’s no word yet on pricing or availability outside of the US.


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