Friday, February 5, 2016

MSFT Wants More

Microsoft Corp. wants people to have even more broadband connectivity in flight—and could be positioning itself to expand its cloud and Internet of Things offerings to service the airline industry, according to a recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

Microsoft asked the FCC to allow unlicensed devices to operate on high-frequency spectrum airwaves in the 60 gigahertz (GHz) band as part of the commission's “spectrum frontiers” proceeding (GN Docket No. 14-177), which is looking at ways to open up more spectrum for commercial use to support the next generation of mobile networks, known as 5G.

Powerful data processing and cloud computing are expected to be part of the underlying structure of the next wave of networks. Microsoft is among the top three providers of cloud and data storage solutions in the U.S. along with Amazon Inc. and Apple Inc., according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

If the FCC approves a notice of proposed rulemaking to make four bands of millimeter airwaves above 24 GHz available to private companies to operate in, it could provide a chance for Microsoft to supply airlines in the same way AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless Inc. compete to provide connectivity to automobile manufacturers .

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Sony MILC

Sony used an elaborate event in New York Wednesday to unveil its A6300 4K Ultra HD mirrorless camera as a replacement for the popular A6000, and introduced a new G Master series of E-mount lenses developed for full-frame cameras, higher resolutions of 4K Video and high dynamic range (HDR).

The A6300 features a newly developed 24.2MP APS-C sensor and uses Sony’s ultra-fast 4D Auto Focus system capable of performing adjustments in as little as 0.05 seconds.

Other standout features include: 425 phase detection AF points covering the entire image area; burst still shooting at up to 11 frames per second with continuous AF, and continuous shooting at up to 8fps with continuous AF and exposure tracking with full live view capability.

The A6300 will be available in March 2016 for a $1,000 retail price for the body only, or $1,150 for a kit including the camera and 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. Pre-orders begin on February 10th.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IBM Buys The Weather Company

IBM acquired The Weather Company's B2B, mobile and cloud-based web properties, including WSI,, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand. The TV segment, The Weather Channel, was not acquired by IBM, but will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract. The combination of technology and expertise from the two companies will serve as the foundation for the Watson IoT Cloud platform, building on a $3B commitment made by IBM in March 2015, to invest in the Internet of Things.

The Weather Company's dynamic cloud data platform, which powers the fourth most-used mobile app daily in the United States and handles up to 26 billion inquiries to its cloud-based services each day, will run across IBM Cloud data centers globally and serve as the technology backbone of IBM's data services and Watson IoT businesses.

IBM is dedicating more than 2500 developers worldwide to help its clients and partners collect, analyze and act upon entirely new forms of IoT data resulting from the proliferation of automobile and airplane telematics, building and environmental sensors, wearable devices, medical implants, weather stations, smartphones, social media, manufacturing lines and supply chains, among others.

Google Passes Apple

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) surpassed Apple Inc (AAPL.O) as the most valuable company in the United States in after-hours trading on Monday, knocking the iPhone maker from the top spot that it has held for the better part of four years.

The change may signal the passing of the technology baton to Alphabet - formerly known as Google - from Apple, which surged past Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) in market value in 2010. Microsoft in turn eclipsed International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) two decades ago.

It is not without piquancy for Apple and Alphabet, which worked hand-in-hand to develop mobile computing, but fell out bitterly after Google launched its own Android mobile operating system in 2008. Google's then-CEO Eric Schmidt left Apple's board the following year.

The two companies' operating systems and apps are in direct competition with each other and Apple is still in litigation with Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), the biggest Android smartphone maker.

Alphabet shares jumped 6 percent on Monday after reporting strong quarterly earnings after the bell, making its combined share classes worth $554 billion, compared with Apple, which had a value of about $534 billion. Apple shares dipped last week after reporting the slowest-ever increase in iPhone shipments and forecasting its first revenue drop in 13 years.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2-in-1 Sales

The saving grace for the declining tablet market is detachable devices, also called 2-in-1s, that can serve as both a laptop and a separate slate-style tablet.

But the initial successes of detachables by all vendors were not enough to make up for the precipitous decline in tablets. All types of tablets declined 10% in 2015, with pure slate standalone tablets declining by 21%, according to market research firm IDC.

IDC reported Monday that Apple's iPad Pro was the top-selling detachable for the fourth quarter of 2015 with about 2 million sold. Apple was the clear winner even though the company saw an overall decline of 25% in tablet shipments for the quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

Detachables, however, finished with an all-time high of 8 million devices shipped in the fourth quarter, more than doubling their total over the fourth quarter of 2014, which reached 3.1 million, IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in an interview.

Monday, February 1, 2016

GameStop News

As digital sales of video games take a bite out of its bottom line, GameStop is dipping its toes into potential new revenue streams that are a bit outside its comfort zone.
The retailer announced Thursday it will act as the publisher for the new title from storied game developer Insomniac Games, creators of the "Ratchet and Clank" series and "Sunset Overdrive." In practical terms, that means it will be the exclusive brick-and-mortar retailer for "Songs of the Deep," though players will be able to purchase digital copies through PC distribution services, the Xbox Marketplace and the PlayStation Store. GameStop will receive a portion of those digital sales as well.

Friday, January 29, 2016

TV Viewing

TV-viewing habits continue to change.

More consumers are dropping traditional pay-TV subscriptions, and half of online consumers using such devices as smartphones and tablets to augment what they see on TV, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) found in a consumer survey.

Eleven percent of the online consumers surveyed said they canceled their cable-, satellite-, or telco-delivered pay-TV service in the past year. Of those, 27 percent cited alternatives available at a lower cost.

In addition, 21 percent of consumers say they haven't had a subscription to a traditional pay-TV provider for more than a year, and 32 percent of them said they did not watch enough TV programming to justify subscription costs.

While pay-TV watching is down, more consumers are getting video content through paid video-streaming services, rising to 46 percent from a year-ago 39 percent, CTA found.

Nonetheless, traditional pay-TV providers remain the most-used resource for consuming content for 61 percent of the online population.