Thursday, October 15, 2015

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Surface Pro is a sell out

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 02:27 AM PDT

Microsoft-Surface-Pro-42The latest version of Microsoft's Surface Pro has sold out in five days after it was listed for pre-orders on Vole's online store.

The new device will be launched in the US on 26 October. Microsoft thinks that initial stocks were sold out because of “strong demand” but the Tame Apple Press insists that they did not make enough in the first place.

Microsoft never revealed the number of units that were available for pre-ordering.

A company spokesman said it will have limited quantities of Surface Books available in store on October 26 and will be updating online availability with new product ship dates soon.

The new Pro is an interesting product because Apple cloned the old model leaving Microsoft free to produce something that cleaned its clock.

The Surface is a hybrid device that works as a tablet and a laptop and has a starting price of $1,499. It runs on the newly-released Windows 10.

In comparison to the latest MacBook Pro lineup, the Surface Book has a 13.5in display with 3000×2000 resolution and comes preloaded with the PixelSense touchscreen technology.

It comes with a Surface Pen and battery life of up to 12 hours. Also, there are features such as facial recognition through Windows Hello and Cortana integration.

Netflix has daft excuse for poor sign ups

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 01:06 AM PDT

netflix_3038088bInternet video streaming outfit Nexflx has come up with a truly daft reason for not adding as many subscribers as Wall Street expected.

Netflix said it only added 0.88 million U.S. subscribers in the third quarter ended September 30, compared with its forecast of 1.15 million.

The outfit blamed a move in the US to chip based cards. US credit and debit card companies have been shifting to chip-enabled cards ahead of the October 1 deadline.

Netflix claimed that the switch meant that many of the older cards on its file no longer worked as the companies gave new cards to their customers.

Chief Executive Reed Hastings made the claim in a letter to shareholders, but the statement was widely condemned.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter went on record saying it was the "just the dumbest thing I’ve heard".

Other analysts thought that given that the cards have been around for a bit the statement created more questions than it answered.

Netflix increased the subscription rate for some new members earlier this month by $1.00 a month to $9.99 in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Internationally, Netflix added 2.74 million subscribers, compared with its projection of 2.40 million.

Netflix, which is also battling competition from streaming services such as Amazon.com Prime Video service and Hulu, has been aggressively building its overseas presence.

Netflix forecast adding about 1.65 million customers in the United States in the current quarter. It also said it expected to add about 3.50 million subscribers worldwide.

Analog bids for Maxim to boost analogue position

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 01:04 AM PDT

Analog_Computing_Machine_GPN-2000-000354Analogue chipmaker Analog Devices wants to buy its smaller rival Maxim Integrated Products.

Apparently Maxim was working with a bank on a strategic review when it was approached by Analog Devices, with an offer it has the option of refusing. It is not clear if Analog bought flowers.

Analog had a market value of about $17.58 billion while Maxim had a market value of $9.88 billion so a deal like that is possible.

A likely deal would be the latest in consolidation in the global semiconductor industry this year as companies look to cut costs and expand their offerings. Intel agreed in June to buy Altera  for $16.7 billion, while Avago said in May that it would buy Broadcom  for $37 billion.

Massachusetts-based Analog makes signal converters and amplifiers. Maxim, based in California, sells most of its chips for consumer devices. They both compete with Texas Instruments and each other.   Texas Instruments extended its market share leadership in that type of chip with the 2011 acquisition of National Semiconductor.

Smart payments are a dead end

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 01:03 AM PDT

Dead-End-286While mobile tech companies, including Apple and Samsung, are getting all enthusiastic about mobile payments, they are almost certain to be a dead end.

Market Platform Dynamics Chief Executive Karen Webster told the Code/Mobile conference in California that mobile payments have been slow to catch on with the world's consumers.

The reason is fairly obvious. They are not solving any real consumer problem. Shoppers don't have any difficulty pulling a credit card out of their wallets.

Rather, they're most concerned about whether they're getting the best deal for the item they've just purchased.

Adding technology at this end of the transaction is pointless, she said.

If she is correct then there are a lot of companies and banks which are going to end up with egg all over their face. They have effectively conspired to bring in tech that no one really needs to and requires a lot of up-front investment.

But thinking about it, the tech industry has been doing a lot of that lately. The smartwatch concept was based on the fact that people would not want to pull their phones out of their pocket. Anyone who wants to spend $450 to avoid using that much energy has serious problems – they don't need technology they need counselling.

The only way the mobile companies, such as Apple and its ilk, make any sales at all is by making the act look cooler than it actually is. Opening your smartphone and waving it at a screen does look way cooler than waving a piece of plastic, but it is not more or less convent.

Technology companies, particularly in the more desperate mobile world, are just re-inventing the wheel with some increasingly silly ideas. In Apple's case it pays off. Its fan base will queue for a dog turd if it had an Apple logo on it. Its fans have been screaming at their banks threatening to take their overdrafts elsewhere if they do not adopt Apple Pay.

However, if Webster is correct and the majority of saner users are not going to bother, particularly once the novelty has worn off.

Smartphone shipments grow in third quarter

Posted: 14 Oct 2015 08:20 AM PDT

samsung-galaxy-note-5Global sales of smartphones reached 332 million in the third quarter, a 9.1 percent increase over the second calendar quarter this year.

That's according to market research firm Trendforce, which also said that Huawei shipped 10 million of its units during the quarter, in line with its own projections.

But Trendforce analyst Avril Wu said that smartphone shipments are expected to be eak until the middle of 2016, due to downturn in the global economy.

She said that emerging markets including Southeast Asia and India are the major "battlegrounds" for the different vendors, as the developed markets reach saturation. And the increasing competition will mean profits will fall.

Trendforce believes that Samsung will show negative results largely due to Chinese competitors, with Apple remaining strong.

While it is still the top smartphone brand in the third quarter, Samsung will see the first ever decline of annual smartphones this year.

The top five vendors by shipments worldwide and the top five Chinese smartphone brands are shown in the Trendforce charts, below.

smartphone shipments Q3 2015

IBM adds more features to Watson

Posted: 14 Oct 2015 07:05 AM PDT

Sherlock Holmes and Dr WatsonBig Blue said it has added two more features to its Watson Analytics package.

The additional features are called Data Discovery and Q&A Power. IBM claims that half a million people are using Watson Analytics in less than a year.

It's certainly got a long list of customers including the universities of Connecticut, West Florida, Iowa and Memphis.

The data discovery module are called "Expert Storybooks", which measure such things as Twitter, Nucleus Research Marketshare and Intangent.

IBM said more data analysis is shifting to a so-called "self service model".

It estimates that by 2018 "smart data discovery" which includes natural language query and search, automated analytics and interactive discovery capabilities will be the most in demand business intelligence service.

It claims that by moving analysis to a cloud based model, enterprises can deliver analytics projects without buying complex IT infrastructure.

Apple faces whopping patent fine

Posted: 14 Oct 2015 06:25 AM PDT

Old Apple logo - Wikimedia CommonsThe University of Wisconsin-Madison has won a court case against Apple for using technology it invented in its iPhone smartphone.

A court in Wisconsin will now rule how much Apple has to pay for using one of the university's patents, and reports said it could be more than $850 million.

A jury decided that Apple's microprocessors, the A7 and A8 series, infringe a patent it filed in 1998. The university sued Apple in January last year.

The university also sued Intel for infringement but that case was settled out of court.

And the university isn't stopping action against Intel. It has just filed another suit claiming the A9 and A9X microprocessors also infringe its patent, used in the iPhone 6S, the 6S Plus and the iPad Pro.

Apple hasn't yet commented on the case but it is expected to appeal the decision.

Apple hates Australian users

Posted: 14 Oct 2015 06:18 AM PDT

crocodile dundeeFruity cargo cult Apple has declared war on its unfortunate Australian customers and demanding from them  a huge premium to use its walled garden of delights.

Overnight Apple jacked up the price of apps in its app store so that everything cost up to 50 per cent more for Australian users making it a clear form of electronic apartheid.

US Price – Old Oz Price – New OZ  Price
$1.00              $1.29                 $1.49
$2.00              $2.49                 $2.99
$3.00             $3.79                  $4.49
$4.00             $4.99                  $5.99
$5.00             $6.49                  $7.99

Apple claims that the move is because of the falling Australian dollar, but with the price changes that Jobs' Mob recently bought in already the price of Apps already matched the currency.

The Australian dollar only trades at 70c against the U.S. – or 30 percent lower which means the prices were right.

There are several explanations as to why Apple is singling out Australian users. The most obvious is that it does not like them that much. After all the drongos actually queued up in the Ozzie heat to buy the iPhone 6S recently so clearly such stupid brand loyal deserves a kick to the Billabongs.

What is more likely is Apple is attacking the Australian government for daring to question its previous price gouging behaviour. The Aussie government noticed that Jobs' Mob was making its customers pay over the odds for hardware and demanded that it drop the price so that it remained at least similar to what it charged its US customers.

Apple claimed it had to increase its already inflated prices in Australian because the phones had just a long way to travel. That would be fine but, given the phones are made in China it should be cheaper to ship them to Australia than it is to send them to the UK.

Clearly unable to gouge the price of the hardware, Apple is insisting that Australians pay more for software which has no shipping cost at all.

In a sane Australia, a company that treated its customers in such a shonky way would be boycotted to oblivion, which is a small town outside Alice Springs. But Australia has gone a bit mental lately and it seems that satisfying itself with shiny expensive consumer goods is a substitute for doing the right thing over issues like boat-people and refugees.

So we guess if you are going to treat the world in an unfair dinkum way, it is only fair that others treat you in the same way.

Capital spending by chip companies to fall

Posted: 14 Oct 2015 06:16 AM PDT

Silicon wafer - Wikimedia Commons -Hot on the heels of Intel's quarterly results last night, Gartner issued a warning that worldwide capital spending on semiconductors is likely to fall by one percent this year.

Gartner said that in 2016, spending will decrease by 3.3 percent.

The reason, according to research VP Takashi Ogawa, is largely down in demand for electronics by people. And he said that next year, Gartner is expecting DRAM manufacturers to make "dramatic" reductions in their investment plans because there will be a glut of available chips.

Intel has again reduced its capital spending but the same will also be true for outsourcing companies including foundries, assembly companies, test companies and integrated device manufacturers.

But the NAND flash sector will escape the cuts because Gartner predicts that many manufacturers will move a lot of their investments from DRAM assembly.

DRAM manufacturers have already slowed investments this year, and will continue to do so in the first part of next year.

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