Tag: apple

Major Apple supplier to slash jobs

foxconn-tvTaiwanese megacompany Foxconn will slash jobs because of falling demand for Apple gear.
That’s according to Reuters, which has spoken to a company representative who confirmed the cuts will come.
The representative who works to the chairman of the board, said labour costs had doubled since 2010.
Foxconn currently hires 1.3 million people and came under fire in 2010 after a number of its workers killed themselves.
The Reuters report said revenue growth for Foxconn fell to 1.3 percent in 2013.
Analysts are predicting that the massive growth in sales of smartphones and tablets is bound to decline as saturation levels increase.
Both Apple and Samsung now face intense competition from own brand Chinese smartphone vendors offering units at rock bottom prices and with rock bottom margins.

Apple’s paws in pie stopped Nexus fingerprint sensor

6a00d8341c630a53ef01348199b317970c-600wiA buyout deal by Apple effectively nixed Motorola’s chance to put a fingerprint sensor under the bonnet of its Nexus 6.

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside said that the dimple at the back of the Nexus 6 was originally intended to play host to a fingerprint sensor. After all it had all the technology – it was a pioneer in bringing fingerprint recognition to its Atrix 4G smartphone.

At the time Motorola used Authentec which was purchased by Apple a year later for a price of $356 million.

Authentec was the best supplier around, “the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry, and they weren’t there yet”.

Apple’s buy out effectively meant that the Nexus 6 was left without biometric authentication and the world was given the impression that Apple was the first to put the technology on a mainstream phone.

It looks like Motorola made the right move. The HTC One max had the slow and buggy experience that puts users off trying to use the feature.


Samsung confirmed as Apple’s main chip supplier

samsung-hqApple and Samsung appear to have buried any hatchets they might have had during the legal battle over the shape of the smartphone.

While the legal battle raised over such crucial matters as whether or not Steve Jobs invented the rounded rectangle, Apple moved away from Samsung as its main producer of chips.  In fact analysts believed that in the long term Samsung would lose any Apple production completely.

According to the Maeil Business Newspaper it seems that Apple has changed its mind and Samsung  is back to being the main supplier of processors powering Apple iPhones.

It looks like Samsung will be responsible for around 75 percent of the chip production for the next iPhone, the South Korean newspaper said.

The newspaper did not say how much the contract is worth and what other company will be supplying Apple. Samsung will make the chips from its factory in Austin, Texas, according to the report.

What appears to have happened is that not only has the row between Samsung and Apple cooled, Jobs’ Mob discovered that Samsung’s rivals, such as TSMC were not up to snuff or had capacity problems.

Apple CEO gets wage rise

Apple's Tim CookThe CEO of Apple’s salary rose by 43 percent last year, the company said.
Tim Cook, a Brit, now only earns $2 million a year, up from a measly $1.4 million before his salary was raised in February 2014.
If you count Cook’s total remuneration it amounts to $9.2 million a year.
Apple also raised other executives’ salary by over 14 percent, the company said.
The executives got their wage increased because Apple compared their salaries to other peoples’ salaries in comparable industries.
If executives at Apple hit their targets, they can earn bonuses worth ip to 400 percent of their salary.
Cook is judged by the company to have hit his targets since he became CEO in August 2011.


Blackberry recruits politicos for market share

Samsung Browses BlackberryBlackberry is fighting back against its competitors by asking politicians to step into the apps business.
The company’s CEO John Chen has written to members of the US Congress and is trying to persuade them to force competitors to make their apps available for his company’s own products.
The Canadian company has made its unusual appeal under the banner of net neutrality – a contentious matter in the United States.
Chen wants the politicians to force firms using Apple or Android operations to make their services available to Blackberry users.
Chen believes that the dominance of Apple and Samsung in the mobile market “has created a two tiered wireless broadband” system.
People using iPhones or Android devices can access more content than people using other operating systems, Chen claimed.
“These are precisely the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticised at the carrier level,” he wrote on his company’s blog.


Samsung, Apple, take top semi spots

Samsung HQ Silicon Valley - MM picApple and Samsung were the biggest buyers of semiconductors in 2014.
Together, they bought $57.9 billion worth of chips last year, up by $3.9 billion in 2013, according to Gartner.
In terms of the total market for semiconductor, both companies’ accounted for 17 percent of the total market.
Gartner said the two firms have been top of the semiconductor consumption market for four years in a row.
That, said analyst Masatsune Yamajo, means decisions they make “have considerable technology and pricing implications for the whole semiconductor industry”.
Samsung was still top buyer but its decision to withdraw from some parts of the PC market as well as losing market share to other vendors meant its growth rate wasn’t as great as in the past.
Gartner estimates that the top 10 companies bought $125.6 billion of semiconductors, accounting for 36.4 percent of the whole market in 2014.
After Samsung and Apple, the remaining eight top ten buyers were HP, Lenovo, Dell, Sony, Huawei, Cisco, LG Electronics and Toshiba.
The entire semiconductor market worldwide amounted to $339.9 billions last year.


1.167 billion smartphones sold last year

smartphones-genericChinese vendors managed to sell 453.4 million smartphones in 2014 – and total global shipments of the devices amounted to 1.167 billion units.
That’s a growth rate of 25.9 percent, according to market intelligence company Trendforce.
Samsung continued to be the global leader in smartphone market share in 2014, although its growth rate fell, eroded by the Chinese manufacturers at the lower and mid end of the market, and at the high end of the market by Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus.
Apple managed to grow by 24.5 percent in 2014, shipping a total of 191.3 million units.
Combined, Apple and Samsung shipped 518 million units.
Apple’s success is attributed to the large size smartphone, the iPhone 6 Plus.
LG was the “dark horse”, making progress with its flagship smartphone the G3.

Apple’s Siri in data heist

tim-cook-glareApple’s voice activated personal assistant Siri is being used to steal sensitive information from iOS based smartphones.

Luca Caviglione of the National Research Council of Italy and Wojciech Mazurczy of the Warsaw University of Technology warn that “malicious actors” could use Siri for stealthy data exfiltration by using a method that’s based on steganography, the practice of hiding information.

Clearly the malicious actors are hacked off that people have been stealing their pictures from the iCloud and posting them online and have taken Siri hostage.

iOS malware is also increasingly common, as the popularity of the iPhone is matched by the company’s misplaced belief in its own security vulnerability.

Mazurczy and Caviglione have demonstrated that iOS malware could become difficult to detect.

When users talk to Siri, their voice is processed with the Speex Codec, and the data is transmitted to Apple’s servers where the voice input is translated to text.

Using an attack method called iStegSiri, the “shape” of this traffic embeds sensitive data from the device. This covert channel could be used to send credit card numbers, Apple IDs, passwords, and other sensitive information from the phone to the criminals.

First, a secret message is converted into an audio sequence based on voice and silence alternation. Then, the sound pattern is provided to Siri as input through the internal microphone. Finally, the recipient of the secret message inspects the traffic going to Apple’s servers and extracts the information based on a decoding scheme..

In their experiments, Mazurczy and Caviglione managed to use this method to exfiltrate data at a rate of 0.5 bytes per second. At this speed, it would take roughly 2 minutes to send a 16-digit payment card number to the attacker.

It only works on jail broken devices and attackers somehow need to be able to intercept the modified Siri traffic. However, the researchers highlighted that the purpose of iStegSiri is to help the security community with the detection of malware on the iOS platform.

The researchers told IEEE Spectrum that they have not made specific details on iStegSiri public to prevent cybercriminals from using their work. We guess that Apple have not modified anything in the iOS to stop it happening if someone works it out.

Google to buy Softcard

google-IC Google is having a quiet word with the mobile-payments company Softcard with a view to buying the outfit.

The move would link  Google with the largest US wireless carriers to battle Apple and its much hyped but mostly ignored Apple Pay service.

The deal may be valued below $100 million, the report said citing sources.

Softcard is jointly owned by AT&T, Verizon Communication, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US.

So far it is seen as rumour and speculation and no one is commenting on the record about it.  However, if Google does buy the outfit it will give it significant clout in the payment markets.  However, at the moment most of the focus is on the bigger retailers coming up with payment systems of their own.

The fear with Google or Apple getting their paws on transaction data is that you can be bothered by advertising based on your buying  history, which could be embarrassing if you went to a stripper club once.



TSMC reports record profits

tsmcTSMC has reported record quarterly net profit and revenue thanks to strong sales of smartphones from its clients.

TSMC earned about $3 billion in net profit in October-December which doubles the results posted at the same time last year and slightly more than the last quarter.

Demand for increasingly feature-rich gadgets has led to a burst in growth for companies such as TSMC and local peer United Microelectronics, whose chips power features from fingerprint sensors to fourth-generation (4G) LTE receivers.

In the fourth quarter, TSMC’s profit margin decreased to 35.9 percent from 40.4 percent in the third quarter in October-December revenue.

However, things are not looking that good for TSMC’s future. Analysts are divided about whether Apple will select TSMC to produce chips for its next-generation smartphones. There are questions as to whether it can create the next generation chips Apple wants .

Samsung, which is TSMC’s main competitor for Apple custom, has previously said it is seeing increased demand for chips made with 14 nanometre technology, the likes of which could power the successor to the iPhone 6.

Now that the war between Apple and Samsung is cooling, it appears that Jobs’ Mob might return to its old chipmaker ally and leave TSMC high and dry.



Tablet Windows faces uncertain future

windows-10-technical-preview-turquoiseBy 2018, tablet sales will reach 540 million units, despite 2014 being a quiet year for the sector.
CCS Insight introduced its annual look at the marketplace and bullishly predicts the market will grow 28 percent this year to reach 283 million units.
While people in established markets will look to upgrade their existing systems, emerging markets will play an increasing role in buying units.
CCS expects that Android will retain its position as the operating system of choice in tablet sales.  But it also expects Windows to increase share over the next two years.
That’s down to Microsoft spending more on marketing, establishing Surface as a brand, and bundling hardware with its software.
Marina Koytcheva, Director of Forecasting at CCS Insight said: “We expect Android to continue dominating the low end and midrange market, with Apple taking the lion’s share at the high end.  But Windows is gaining a bigger slice of the pie, albeit from a very low level, and should not be overlooked.”
She said that the Microsoft move to scrap charging for licences for Windows devices under nine inches will help Microsoft.
She said that move has encouraged vendors to launch better devices at lower prices.
She warned that Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 10, will “take time to make its mark”.  It will have little impact on sales before the end of 2016.
Enterprises will help Apple, specifically the deal it forged with IBM late last year.


Apple invented Microsoft’s Kinect

t1larg.kinect.video.gamesAccording to the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) the fruity cargo cult Apple invented Microsoft’s Kinect.

The US PTO granted Apple a patent which is so wide you can drive a bus through it sideways. Patent number 8,933,876  covers a “three dimensional user interface session control.”

When Apple bought PrimeSense last year to get its foot in the door of the gesture-control space. Since then, all of PrimeSense’s patents have been reassigned to Apple.

But before it was bought by Apple, PrimeSense developed the Kinect for Microsoft, which made it a central part of its Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles. While the technology is good, it failed to make much impact. There was never a killer app for the Kinect.

The thought is that Apple could do the same thing with the technology that it did with the Tablet – waive it in front of its fanboys and claim it invented it.

But what is worrying is that not only has the PTO given Apple a patent for technology it did not invent, it is far too broad. The patent can be read so any gesture that can be detected by an optical or infrared controller that does anything to an interface is now owned by Apple.  It is just as well that Apple is not the sort of company to stifle innovation by patent trolling its rivals…


Apple takes on Ericsson in phone row

handsetFruity cargo cult Apple has sued the Swedish phone outfit Ericsson in an attempt to break the patent deadlock between the pair.

Apple said that Ericsson’s LTE wireless technology patents are not essential to industry mobile standards and that it is demanding excessive royalties for them.

Jobs’ Mob insists that it has not infringed on the patents and does not owe Ericsson a cent for them.

Ericcson wants cash for the LTE technology calculated as a percentage of the price of the entire smartphone or tablet. However, Apple said that the royalties should be based on the value of the processor chip that includes the technology.

If Ericsson’s patents are deemed essential and the court rules Apple has infringed on them, Apple said it wants the court to assign a reasonable royalty rate.

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said that Apple was always willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in its products. However Apple can’t agree with Ericsson on a fair rate for their patents so, as a last resort, we are asking the courts for help.

Apple and Ericsson currently have a license agreement that covers many of Ericsson’s allegedly standard-essential patents. The agreement was signed in 2008 soon after Apple launched the iPhone, according to the court filing.

12-inch Macbook Air ready to roll

novità-apple-2013Original development manufacturer (ODMs) have begun to make quantities of the 12-inch Macbook Air.
ODMs make machines to specifications created by brand name firms like Apple – and in this case the manufacturer is Taiwanese giant Quanta Computer.
According to a report in Taiwanese wire Digitimes, the 12-inch Macbook Air will be launched in the first quarter of this year, displacing the current 11-inch model.  The 13-inch model will continue to be made and sold.
And Quanta also appears to have won a chunk of the market for Apple’s iWatch, and has hired a large number of workers to make it.
However, there is a labour shortage in mainland China, where the majority of the factories now are, and that position is exacerbated by the advent of the Chinese new year.
There’s no final word on the pricing of the 12 inch Macbook Air, but the screen will be a Retina screen, the wire suggests.


Apple defective motherboard case temporarily thrown out

apple-disney-dreams-snow-white-Favim.com-142405Lawyers from Apple are celebrating after they managed to convince a judge to throw out a case which accused it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained “logic boards” it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.

US District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made “affirmative misrepresentations,” despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops “state of the art” or the “most advanced” on the market.

“Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple’s logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality,” Alsup wrote. “Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively.”

However, Alsup did not chuck out the case completely. He gave the plaintiffs until January 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status. It is not clear how they are going to proceed next.

The plaintiffs claimed that Apple’s sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing.

A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. Still you get what you pay for.