Author: Staff Writer

UK MPs to get free iPads

new-ipadMembers of Parliament are to be given iPad Air 2s worth around £500 apiece after the general election in May.

The Times reports that parliament’s administrative body, the House of Commons Commission, thinks that the 650 members having an Apple device “will save money”.

The total bill of £1 million will be paid for by taxpayers.

MPs without ministerial jobs get paid £67,000 a year.

In addition to the iPads, MPs will also get spanking new laptops although it’s not clear which lucky vendor will get the order.

The iPad Air 2s come with 16GB of memory, wi-fi and Cellular iPad Air 2.

But an opposition cabinet officer, Chi Onwurah, said MPs should not use Apple iOS. Most of his constituents can’t afford the luxury of an Apple iPad, he said.

 

Robots drive the AI market

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 11.52.02Softbank sold 300 Pepper robots in February and that’s going to drive the artificial intelligence and app market to develop faster than most people think.

According to market research company Trendforce, while the Pepper robot (pictured) is primarily available now to the commercial market, later this year Softbank and French startup Aldebaran will sell it to the general public, fuelled by third party apps people are currently creating.

Pepper is a versatile robot and it’s claimed it can recognise peoples’ emotions, something that some people have trouble doing. The machine costs Y198,000 but coupled to that is a cloud service that costs Y24,600 per month. The inventors, Aldebaran, describe Pepper as the first social robot.

Application developers can be programmed with extra emotions and as it does so, it will react faster to its owner’s desires.

Trendforce is really bullish about this because it imagines that the arrival of Pepper the robot to the marketplace will create a market comparable to computers, to the internet and to smartphones.

The market size for service robots has already exceeded five million units and will grow by 20 percent this year, the analysts think.

 

BT makes a play for mobile phone market

btlogoTelco giant BT is to enter the mainstream smartphone market again this year and will offer 4G services at an aggressive £5 SIM only rate.

But the move is likely to prompt investigation by UK regulators as the number of providers has now sunk to just three companies.

BT is attempting to buy EE but also has spectrum it can use itself. It isn’t yet ready to offer handsets itself, just SIM cards.

BT formerly owned O2, but sold it to Spanish telco Telefonica in 2005.

The company is likely to offer its sports service to people who sign up to its tariff, and that may be attractive to some people.

Paolo Pescatore, a director at CSS isnight, described BT Mobile’s launch as “more aggressive than many anticipated. He said: “BT has made the right decision to offer a range of of simple and transparent packages as part of its return to the consumer mobile market. The £5 SIM only deal for existing BT broadband households is probably the best value 4G SIM only deal in the market.”

He said BT is able to bring something different to the party by offering BT Sport and BT Wi-Fi.

Samsung to regain smartphone lead

samsung-hqA research company believes that Samsung will be the number one smartphone vendor in 2015, taking the lead over Apple.

Digitimes Research (DR) said the top 10 vendors this year will be Samsung, Apple, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Huawei, Xiaomi, Microsoft, TC, Coolpad and Oppo.

HTC, which only a few years ago was top of the smartphone pops, doesn’t appear to get a lookin at all. Last week, Cher Wang, chairman of HTC, took on the CEO duties too, displacing former CEO Peter Chou to head up a new products division at the Taiwanese firm.

DR estimates that Samsung will ship over 330 million units and Apple will manage to ship 230 million.

But Lenovo appears to be edging upwards in the smartphone league. This year it will ship 64 million units, while LG will ship 67 million units, just ahead of Huawei.

DR estimates that Android phones supplied by the top 10 Android smartphone vendors willl represent over 70 percent of the total units shipped this year.

 

UK teams up with Israel over security

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 14.56.43Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office in matters of cyber security, said that the UK and Israel have established three collaboration ventures to get government funding for cyber security.

The governments will contribute £1.2 million of funding to create a bilateral cyber research programme, he said.

The Universities of Bristol and University College London will team up with Bar Ilan University, while the University of Kent will tie up with the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology.

The groups will work on six topics including identity management; governance; privacy assirance; mobile and cloud security; human aspects of security; and cryptography.

Maude said he wants the UK to be one of the safest places to do business online. “Cyber security is a shared global threat and I’m pleased that we are deepening our research relationship.”

The UK is a founding member of a global network called D5 – founding members also include South Korea, Estonia, Israel and New Zealand.

 

Aussie scientists bend light

aussie minersPhysicists at the Australian National University said they’ve made a material which can put a perfect bend in light.

The device, called a topological insulator, has the potential to aid the telecomms industry to create a computer chip using light.

And Professor Yuri Kivashar, from the university, said the material may also have use in microscopes, aeriel designs and quantum computers.

He said that scientists had searched for similar materials in photonics, but they tended to use large complicated structures.

But his team have used a zig-zag structure to make a prototype of the materials.

The structure makes a coupling that prevents light from travelling through the centre and instead is channelled to the edge of the material. That lets light to be bent around corners without loss of signal.

HP goes Bang. And Olufsen

HPHewlett Packard has decided to strike a deal with Bang & Olufsen to bring its sound systems to its PCs, to its tablets, and to its accessories.

Under the deal, HP said it will custom tune every notebook, desktop and tablet it sells for “precise sound”. Bang & Olufsen kit won’t be in all of the machines it sells, however.

The company said it will create what it describes as a “dedicated audio island” which isolates the sound system from other signals on motherboards. The headphone jack also has a limited amount of metal parts to cut down ground noise.

HP will provide an audio control pane to let people either choose from optimised presets or manually tune the sound.

The first systems with the B&O tech will be available in spring on its Spectre, Omen, Envy and other PCs. The B&O Play brand will be incorporated into HP Pavilion PCs, tablets and some audio accessories.

Mooly Eden quits Intel

Intel Q4_14_ResultsCharismatic Intel executive Mooly Eden said yesterday he had resigned from the company.

Eden, senior VP of Intel International, was renowned for his off the cuff and sometimes pungent remarks. He was one of a few executives who were press friendly, rather than regarding us as the enemy.

He was in charge of the Israeli team who created both the Centrino brand the Intel Pentium M microprocessors.

He said in a press release that he was leaving Intel with a sense of satisfaction, after working with creative people who later became good friends.

Three years ago he went back to Israel from California and became president of Intel Israel, according to the Jewish Business News.

Eden was a member of the so-called “Old School” at Intel. He started working for the semiconductor company in 1982.

It’s unclear what his plans are for the future.

Judges scrap Indian Facebook law

India_flagThe Supreme Court in Delhi has decided that a law which could have people sent to jail for making pretty harmless comments on Twitter and Facebook is unconstitutional.

The judges say section 66A of the Information Technology Act breached the Indian constitution and struck it from the statute book.

The order was made after it was successfully argued that this section of the law violated the principles of freedom of speech and expression.

The law allowed people to be sent to prison for three years for sending emails or other electronic communications that upset or annoyed other people.

Several people have been arrested for posting comments about politicians on Facebook, and for sending tweets that annoyed people.

 

Dell hires ex-AMD man

AMD, SunnyvaleHardware and software vendor Dell said it has hired two people to key positions in its enterprise sales and technology departments.

Rory Read, who was the CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, will be the chief operating offier and president of worldwide commercial sales. He will have overall responsibility for market initiation and all channel sales planning

Paul Perez formerly worked at Cisco where he was VP and genera manager of the firm’s computing systems product group. In his role at Dell, Perez will be the chief technical advisor for its enterprise solutions group.

Perez starts at Dell’s HQ today, while Read will join the company on April 6th next.

Both will report to Marius Haas,who is the chief commercial officer at Dell.

Michael Dell was wheeled out to welcome Read and Perez to the good ship Dell. He said they will add enterprise IT expertise and depth to Dell’s management team.

Read said: “Dell is one of the most exciting companies in the industry right.” He said Dell is the only credible end to end IT company.

Dell hits the high spot

Dell logoEven though terminal clients are in an inexorable decline, thin clients performed quite well in 2014, with growth up 4.6 percent compared to the year before.

And there may be brighter news ahead for thin clients, according to a report from market research company IDC – enterprises are expected to resume projects in 2015 that were delayed by the worldwide slump.

The biggest beneficiary of client devices was Dell, which in the fourth quarter of last year had a 27.2 percent share.

HP took second place, with 25.5 percent of the market, followed by Centerm (10.8%), Igel (5.2%) and NComputing (5.1%).

The total number of units shipped in the quarter amounted to 1,418,402 units, a decline of 12.5 percent from the same period in 2013 – and the decline was due to terminal clients being rather old hat.

Dell did well because it won some key sales in the financial sector, IDC said.

NComputing saw its position in the pecking order drop to the number five positionm for the quarter.

Packing “peanuts” used for batteries

alkaline batteryScientists at Purdue University said that they have converted packing peanuts into high performance carbon electrodes for lithium-ion (Li-on) batteries.

Packing peanuts are not peanuts but fill for boxes to protect goods being shipped. They’re made out of starch.

The researchers said the electrodes will outperform conventional graphite electrodes and is a n environmentally friendly approach.

The Purdue scientists have gone one step further because they have also made carbon nanoparticle anodes from polystyrene.

There’s a mystery here though, because a research assistant said “We were getting a lot of packing peanuts while setting up our new lab”. A professor decided to see if it was feasible to use the packing peanuts in a creative way.

Professor Vilas Pol said that while packing peanuts are used worldwide to ship goods, they’re very hard to break down, and only 10 percent are recycled. That means the majority of them end up in landfills.

Pol said that the method for using these packing peanuts as electrodes is cheap, environmentally friendly, and practical for large scale manufacturing.

 

IBM cosies up to China

ibm-officeThe CEO of IBM said she has a strategy in which her company will share tech with Chinese firms.

Virginia Rometty was speaking in Beijing at a government sponsored conference, according to Reuters.

She said that a country of over one billion people needed its own IT industry and it was unfair of foreign multinationals just to milk the market or use it as a place to manufacture kit.

Many foreign companies have made successful businesses in China by taking a partner in the country – the government makes this something of a condition in order to trade there.

The report said that IBM would let local companies build servers using the Power chip and also use the software for the mainframes.

The first beneficiary of the deal is a Chinese firm called Suzhou Powercore, which will manufacture the Power chips for home grown servers.

Rometty didn’t appear to speak of human rights in China, which remain an obstacle for other firms.

Google “fiddled its figures” – official

330ogleThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) considered taking Google to the cleaners in 2012 for abusing its monopoly position but in the end decided against the move.

That’s according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which said the five FTC commissioners decided not to pursue their findings.

FTC investigators discovered proof that Google abused its monopolistic position and used techniques that harmed competitors such as TripAdvisor.

The reason the FTC did not pursue the case was because it was going to be hard for the poor dears to prove its case. They also felt that Google was “popular”.

Google has a different angle on the findings claiming there was no need for the FTC to take action because it isn’t evil.

The European Commission (EC) doesn’t appear to be shying away from investigating Google, despite a series of high profile spinning events Google organised towards the end of last year.

The FTC discovered that Google interweaved its own products into search results, skewing objective results.

 

PCs face an uphill struggle

A not so mobile X86 PCThe consensus is that the PC might not be dead but it is certainly struggling.

And in the third report of its kind we’ve published today, IDC said that until 2010 PCs had the lion’s share of the total smart connected devices market, accounting for around 52.5 percent of shipments with 44.7 percent for smartphones and only 2.8 percent for tablets.

But, said IDC, in 2014 smartphones represented 73.4 percent of total shipments, PCs slipped to 16. percent and tablets 12.5 percent.

That trend is continuing – by 2019 PCs will only represent 11.6 percent of that market, while tablets will have 10.7 percent.

This must all be deeply troubling for chip giant Intel, with revenues still depending on the good old X86 chip and seemingly unable to make inroads into the tablet and smartphone markets.

Here’s an IDC chart demonstrating the trend between 2014 and 2019.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 15.02.21