Tag: apple

US leans on Indonesia over smartphone law

page_detail_zoom_3315The US government is leaning on Indonesia to daring to set up laws that forbid foreign smartphone makers from coming into the country.

The country is one of the few where smartphone makers have not been able to penetrate, and Indonesia has insisted that companies make 40 percent of their phones locally.

This of course destroys the US model of making cheap phones in China and having them shipped to foreign parts.

From January 1, 2017, smartphone makers that sell smartphones and tablets in the fast-growing economy of 250 million people to produce 40 percent of their content locally.

We are not sure why the US Trade Representative (USTR), is involved in strong arming Indonesia to have a change of heart. If he wins, it is not as if he is protecting US jobs.  He is in fact protecting Chinese jobs and the bottom lines of big multinationals who do not pay much tax in the US.

Apparently critics of the “made in Indonesia” rule, including an influential US business group, say it could increase costs and restrict access to technology.

“The United States shares these concerns, and strongly supports ensuring that information and communications technology, which can be instrumental to economic development, be openly available in Indonesia,” said a USTR spokesman in Washington.

Less than a third of Indonesians own a smartphone, a much lower rate than China’s almost 80 percent, according to figures from research firm Canalys.

Samsung has already begun producing phones in Indonesia after opening a factory near Jakarta last year, but Apple’s supplier Foxconn has been dragging its feet as it negotiates with the Indonesian government over a proposed investment that would include manufacturing smartphones.

Apple Air gets Broadwell

27151_1_intel_rejects_the_idea_that_they_are_going_bga_only_fullIntel’s disappointingly delayed Broadwell chips have found a customer in the fruity cargo cult in the shape of Apple’s MacBook Air.

From Intel’s perspective this is great news.  Not only will it get a customer for its silicon, the Tame Apple Press will start chanting that the chips are brilliant, innovative and state of the art.

Sure enough ITPro talks about how the “silicon giant’s fifth Generation Core processor” promises 90 minutes extra battery life compared to Intel’s fourth generation.

What appears to be happening is that Apple will use Intel’s new Broadwell-Y Core M processors. Apple thinks that the fact they have 4.5W performance and fanless.

However Apple is not the only one to use this chip. Panasonic is also set to use the chipmaker’s latest release, revealing that the Broadwell processor powers its Toughbook 54 laptop, so has HP.  Toshiba has used the fifth generation Broadwell processors to improve the battery life of its Kira Ultrabook laptops, claiming they now have a 13 hour battery life.

What is a little odd is that the Core M is more of a business chip, being designed for Intel’s wireless offices rather than Apple’s normal consumer users.

It is also very late into the shops as Intel wrestled with the production process.  Apparently, the process took ages to fix the yields. But Intel is into high yields now, and in production on more than one product, with many more to come later this year.

 

Apple blows money on two data centres

Apple's CEO Tim Cook - shot from WikimediaApple has so much money swilling around in its bank account that it can easily afford to spend $2 billion on data centres in Europe.

And that’s just what it’s doing, according to a report from Reuters.

The centres will be based in Denmark and Ireland and will be powered by renewable energy and offer several hundred jobs.

The data centres will be used to support Apple’s online services such as iTunes and its App Store, and will open in 2017.

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said in a statement that the investment is the company’s biggest in Europe to date.

The Irish centre will be based in Galway and will hire 300 people. Ireland is a favourite spot for US tech multinationals, largely because of the tax breaks it gives the company.

Mobile market set to change

smartphones-genericThe Mobile World Congress starts in Barcelona at the beginning of next month and Gartner has decided to give us its thoughts on changes that are afoot in this ever changing business.

What’s apparent is that it’s hard for the vendors to continue releasing phones that are very different from the competition. Gartner thinks that the smartphone manufacturers will continue to concentrate on the quality of photographs and video.

Apple, in particular, will find it hard to come up with anything that’s radically new, while so called “white box” vendors in mainland China will continue to undercut the market.

And the incumbents have more to contend with too – Wiko has entered the European market and is doing particularly well in Germany and Framce, selling its products at between 100 and 150 Euro.

Other players could well be Kodak which introduced an Android phone at a trade show in January. Kodak has expertise in the camera market, of course, but may find it hard to contend with other mid range vendors. Polaroid, too, is apparently venturing into the smartphone market.

 

Apple might troll its way into VR control

apple-disney-dreams-snow-white-Favim.com-142405Famous for operating its reality distortion shield, Apple might have taken control of the Virtual Reality market with an ancient patent application.

Apple was granted a patent for a Gear VR-like mobile headset which would use a portable device (like a smartphone) as the primary display. However the patent is similar to Samsung’s Gear VR and a swath of VR smartphone adapters out there like Google Cardboard.

According to patent attorney, Eric Greenbaum the patent could kill off all competition for mobile VR headsets and patent troll the market to oblivion.

In 2008  Apple filed a patent for a “Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display.”

The patent describes a device which sounds an awful lot like Gear VR and other VR smartphone adapters. Eric Greenbaum, told Road to VR  that the Apple patent may have broad ramifications for mobile-device based head mounted displays.” Which I take to mean, Apple could have a case on their hands if they wanted to challenge Gear VR or similar devices in court.

He thinks that Jobs’ Mob may have pressed to get the patent through the system after Gear VR was announced.

Greenbaum  warned that Apple has not yet announced a plan to build any VR products. However their patent filings indicate a strong interest in the field and I would expect them to be planning something.

This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD.

There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it in forming strategic partnerships.

In other words, Apple without actually inventing anything could take control of the entire market.  It could cherry pick the best technology out there and then release its own product.

 

Apple poaches staff to get new tech

How-to-Poach-Eggs_725x408After years of enforcing an illegal cartel which forced staff to stay with it, Apple is now going the other way and poaching staff in a way to get new technology, a court was told.

Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems has sued Apple for poaching top engineers to build a large-scale battery division.

The Tame Apple Press does not question the legality of the move, but just has become all moist about the fact that the iPhone maker may be developing a car.

The court heart how around June 2014, Apple began aggressively poaching A123 engineers tasked with leading some of the company’s most critical projects, the lawsuit said. The engineers jumped ship to pursue similar programs at Apple, in violation of their employment agreements.

These agreements are in place to stop big companies like Apple from gaining access to technology they have not developed.

“Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123,” the lawsuit read.

A123 Systems has not been doing very well. It filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and has been selling off assets.

The engineers who left were of such calibre that the projects they had been working on had to be abandoned. One of the five defendants, Mujeeb Ijaz, of helping Apple recruit among its ranks.

“It appears that Apple, with the assistance of defendant Ijaz, is systematically hiring away A123’s high-tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123,” according to the lawsuit.

They are doing so in an effort to support Apple’s apparent plans to establish a battery division that is similar if not identical to A123’s, in competition with A123.”

Apple has been carrying out similar programmes at LG Chem, Samsung SDI, Panasonic, Toshiba  and Johnson Controls Inc.

A123 presented evidence from one of its partners SiNode Systems that “confirms that his work on behalf of Apple is at least substantially similar (if not identical) to his work at A123.”

 

 

Samsung starts mobile payments

Samsung advertising in TaipeiSamsung has bought US mobile wallet startup LoopPay, which is seen as an  intention to launch a smartphone payments service.

Mobile payments have been slow to catch on in the United States and elsewhere, despite strong backing. Apple, Google, and eBay PayPal have all launched services to allow users to pay in stores via smartphones and the stores themselves are expected to release a new standard of their own.

Most of the problem is that retailers have been reluctant to adopt the hardware and software infrastructure required for these new mobile payment options to work before a standard is sorted out.  There was no point in investing in BetaMax when VHS kills it.

LoopPay’s technology differs because it works off existing magnetic stripe card readers at checkout, changing them into contactless receivers, they said. About 90 percent of checkout counters already support magnetic swiping.

“If you can’t solve the problem of merchant acceptance…, of being able to use the vast majority of your cards, then it can’t really be your wallet,” said David Eun, head of Samsung’s Global Innovation Center.

Injong Rhee, who is leading Samsung’s as-yet-unannounced payments project, said the Asian giant will soon reveal more details of its envisioned service. He would not be drawn on speculation the company may do so during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

He said new phones such as the new Galaxy would support the service.

Samsung had invested in LoopPay, along with Visa and Synchrony Financial, before its acquisition.

Rhee said in an interview that the company intends to roll out accompanying services that go beyond merely turning the smartphone into a wallet, such as by allowing users access to information such as spending.

Top hedge funds trim Apple

hedge

Despite claims by the Tame Apple Press that the fruity cargo cult is at the top of its game after the launch of its new bendy iphone 6, Wall Street hedge funds do not agree.

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital and Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management, have been selling their stakes in Apple during the last few months in a sign that they are predicting a slump.

To be fair, Apple did well in 2014 with its shares rising nearly 38 percent. This year the company’s stock is up more than 16 percent year to date and reached an intraday record high of $129.45 per share.

Yet Wall Street’s cleverest money men do not think it is going to get much better. Although Apple is the biggest position in Coatue Management’s portfolio, the firm sold 1.7 million shares at the end of the quarter, or more than 15 percent of its stake, leaving it with 8.9 million shares.

Greenlight said it cut Apple holdings by 6.2 percent to 8.6 million shares during the quarter.
Eric Mandelblatt’s Soroban Capital Partners sold 4.3 million Apple call options, liquidating the fund’s position. And David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management hedge fund said it had dissolved its stake in Apple, while Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors sold 808,000 Apple shares to own 383,790 shares at the end of the fourth quarter.

Last week, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn tried to talk up his technology company’s shares claiming that they should be trading at $216 apiece.

It seems that few others agree.

 

Sony starts to sell smart glasses

glassesWhile Google is sitting back and having a think about the smart glass project it initiated, it appears that Sony is pressing ahead with its SmartEyeglass, a product that will set you back a not so very cool £600 or so.

The glasses come with a software development kit (SDK) so you can sit down and code away to your hearts content, and supports the Android operating system.

The glass include a three megapixel camera, a microphone, weigh 77 grammes, and include a number of features familiar to smartphone users such as gyroscopes, compass, image and brightness sensors, according to the BBC, which adds they come with a controller, to be worn on the body, with loudspeaker, a touch sensor and a battery.

You’ll also be able to see text on the lenses in green.

The CEO of Apple doesn’t think much of smart glasses, according to the New Yorker. He told that magazine that people wouldn’t want to wear them.

 

2015 brings is crunch time for smart watches

Swiss Watches the BrandApple releases its watches this year and that’s led CCS Insight to propose that this year is make or break time for the relatively new category.

It estimates that shipments of wearables will reach 75 million in 2015, a 158 percent increase compared to last year.

And the Apple watch will account for over a quarter of wearables that ship this year, it believes.

Analysts at the company believe that Apple will sell about 20 million watches by the end of this year. But if Apple is wrong – and the jury is still very much out on the future of such devices, it’s likely to hurt the entire wearables category of technology.

Right now, it’s fitness bands that are driving growth with products from companies like Fitbit and Jawbone.

It thinks that sales of these devices will double in 2015 to 40 million units.

It also says action cameras was the second biggest category in 2014, with six million of them selling in 2014.

 

Tablet shipments set to slump

gala_appleApple is likely to hit a pothole for sales of its iPad this year with one report estimating shipments will slump by 40 percent in this calendar quarter.

But it won’t just be Apple that will be hit by the slump, according to a report in Taiwanese wire Digitimes.

All manufacturers are likely to see a fall as shipments of large screen smartphones – so called phablets – start to erode the tablet market.

Digitimes quotes its own intelligence unit saying that shipments of tablets worldwide will be 244 million this year, a drop on last year of something like 11.8 percent.

The tablet market also faces competition from low end notebooks which are to some extent being subsidised by Microsoft and other vendors.

Tablets are not generally seen by people as products that need upgrading. Apple will have to rethink its strategy on the sector as it prepares to launch more iPad models this year.

Apple wants to build legendary nightmare

Titans were nightmare monsters from Greek legend.

Titans were nightmare monsters from Greek legend.

The dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell of a yarn which claims that Apple wants to get into the automotive industry and make self-driving cars named after legendary nightmares. 

Apparently, the numbers people have looked up the numbers and concluded that there is a gap in the market for outrageously priced cars which need to be replaced every year because some ridiculously trivial “update” has been added.

Of course the news has not come from Apple,  it is leaving that announcement to its unpaid press officers – or journalists, as they like to call themselves.  Steve Jobs wanted an iCar so apparently it will happen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has hundreds of people working on a top secret project: an electric minivan.   Apparently, this job is “massive” and is codenamed Titan – named after the godlike beings who tried to destroy the world.

The project is expected to last years, and it’s entirely possible that Apple will say “sod this for a game of soldiers” lets go back to making expensive toys.

However for the next 20 years you can expect lots of sittings of cars which the Tame Apple Press will try to convince you are the prototype.  Gizmodo, for example said

“Recently, a janky-looking Dodge Caravan outfitted with what appears to be self-driving car technology has been spotted around the Bay Area. However, it’s worth noting that that minivan might just be doing work for Apple Maps.”

So in other words, every souped up van a reporter sees for the next 20 years might be Apple’s self-driving van.  We are not sure that we can put up with it.

Icahn tries to talk up Apple shares

Carl_IcahnThe Tame Apple Press has teamed up with Apple shareholder Carl Ichan to see if they can talk up the price of Jobs’ Mob shares.

Icahn who owns pots of Apple shares thinks that they should be making him pots more cash – and what better way to do that than claim that they are undervalued.

Of course a shareholder thinking he should get more money for his stash is not news, but the Tame Apple Press seems to have decided to give him a leg up while promoting the value of their favourite toymaker.

Reuters, which is set to eclipse the New York Times as Apple’s favourite Public Relations expert, actually ran a story this morning where Ichan claimed that the iPhone maker’s stock should be trading at $216, far above its record high of $124.92 yesterday.

“At $216 per share, Apple – already the world’s most valuable company – would be worth about $1.3 trillion, or about the size of South Korea’s gross domestic product,” Reuters’  breathlessly said.

The company is valued at just over $700 billion currently.

Icahn said Apple should be trading at 20 times earnings per share, which taken together with net cash of $22 per share works out to $216 per share.  He didn’t say why he thought that, other than the fact that if he can convince enough thicko’s out there he is right, the share price will go up and he will be laughing all the way to the bank.

He added that if Apple introduces a TV in FY 2016 or FY 2017, we believe this “20X multiple is conservative.”   Apple TV, the Tame Apple Press had not heard that one.  It is also unlikely to be a big money spinner. The TV market is down the loo at the moment and there are plenty of nice looking Tellies out there sitting on shelves.  Jobs Mob is also yet to come up with a future proof idea since its Tablet fad started to die out.

To be fair Icahn, who is  Apple’s top 10 investors, does not only think he can convince people that the shares are worth more.  He thinks Apple should buy back more shares and raise its dividend.

Apple had cash reserves of about $178 billion as of December 27 and said last April it would return more than $130 billion to shareholders by the end of 2015.

Still Ichan’s alliance with the Tame Apple Press did make him a little richer.  Apple shares closed 2.3 percent higher at $124.88.

ARM does better than expected

ARM-Cortex-A15-chipIt seems that the British chip designer ARM has done a lot better than the cocaine nose-jobs of Wall Street have predicted.

ARM posted a 25 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit, ahead of expectations, helped by a strong year end in companies licensing its technology and growing royalty revenues.

The Tame Apple press  claims that the ARM success has all been down to Apple’s iPhone 6, although ARM powers most of the world’s smartphones.

ARM reported pre-tax profit of 118.9 million pounds on revenue of 225.9 million pounds, up 19 percent.

Licensing revenue was up 27 per cent on the year mainly based on 53 licences signed for processors.

“We anticipate that total group dollar revenues for Q1 will be up about 10 percent year on year, based on strengthening royalty revenue growth, and our expectation of the profile of license revenue through the year,” the company said.

Analysts were predicting pre-tax profit of £113 million, according to a consensus compiled by Thomson Reuters.

 

Dating applications expose businesses

1930s-couple-620x400Big Blue is warning that millions of people using dating apps on company smartphones could be exposing their employers to hacking, spying and theft.

IBM security researchers said 26 of 41 dating apps they analysed on Google Android mobile platform had medium or high severity vulnerabilities.  Curiously the IBM team did not look at dating applications on Apple gear, probably because the company signed a deal to push Apple gear in the workplace.

Unfortunately IBM did not name and shame the vulnerable apps but said it had alerted the app publishers to problems.

Apparently Tinder, OkCupid and Match have become hugely popular in the past few years due to their instant messaging, photo and geolocation services. In 2013 it was estimated that 31 million Americans have used a dating site or app.

IBM found employees used vulnerable dating apps in nearly 50 percent of the companies sampled for its research. By using the same phone for work and play or “bring your own device,” it means that companies are wide open for such attack vectors.

Am IBM report said that while BYOD was seen as a way that companies could save cash by allowing employees to use their home gear on corporate networks , if not managed properly, the organizations might be leaking sensitive corporate data via employee-owned devices.

IBM said the problem is that people on dating apps let their guard down and are not as sensitive to potential security problems as they might be on email or websites.

If an app is compromised, hackers can take advantage of users waiting eagerly to hear back from a potential love interest by sending bogus “phishing” messages to glean sensitive information or install malware, IBM said.

A phone’s camera or microphone could be turned on remotely through a vulnerable app, which IBM warned could be used to eavesdrop on personal conversations or confidential business meetings. Vulnerable GPS data could also lead to stalking, and a user’s billing information could be hacked to purchase things on other apps or websites.

Strangely, despite its dire warnings to Android users, IBM said it had not so far seen a rash of security breaches due to dating apps as opposed to any other kind of social media.

Meanwhile, it recommends that dating app users limit the personal information they divulge, use unique passwords on every online account, apply the latest software patches and keep track of what permissions each app has.