Monday, May 2, 2016

Intel is Cutting More Chips

Intel could be on the verge of exiting the market for smartphones and standalone tablets, wasting billions of dollars it spent trying to expand in those markets.

The company is immediately canceling Atom chips, code-named Sofia and Broxton, for mobile devices, an Intel spokeswoman confirmed.

These are the first products on the chopping block as part of Intel's plan to reshape operations after announcing plans this month to cut 12,000 jobs.

The news of the chip cuts was first reported by analyst Patrick Moorhead in an article on Forbes' website.

Resources originally dedicated to Broxton and Sofia chips will be moved to "products that deliver higher returns and advance our strategy," Intel's spokeswoman said in an email.

Intel's mobile chip roadmap now has a giant hole after the cancellation of the chips. Intel's existing smartphone and tablet-only chips are aging and due for upgrades, and no major replacements are in sight. Sofia is already shipping, and Broxton was due to ship this year but had been delayed.

Intel is also phasing out its Atom X5 line of tablet chips code-named Cherry Trail, which is being replaced by Pentium and Celeron chips code-named Apollo Lake, aimed more at hybrids than pure tablets. Many PC makers are already choosing Intel's Skylake Core M processors over Cherry Trail for hybrids and PC-like tablets.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Powermat Problems

When he started Powermat Technologies Inc. in 2006, Ran Poliakine envisioned a cordless future where millions of consumers would watch television, charge their phones and power up their kids’ toys without plugging into a wall socket.

A decade on, Poliakine’s vision is a long way off. While Powermat’s charging technology is increasingly being used in phones, cars and Starbucks cafes, widespread adoption remains elusive. It doesn’t help that the Israeli company is being roiled by management infighting, dividing the board and prompting Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins to offer his resignation.

The last thing Powermat needs right now is a distraction. Competition is intensifying with a rival technology called Qi, and Apple is said to be cooking up its own version. Consumers, having waited years to be freed from pesky charging cords, increasingly say they want someone -- anyone -- to provide a simple way they can wirelessly charge their phones, tablets and laptops.

Jim McGregor, the principal analyst at TIRIAS Research, says wireless charging won’t become mainstream until a widely available service lets people power-up on the go. “If you have to go around to multiple places, you don’t want to carry a charging mat with you,” he said. “You want to charge where you are.”

McGregor says it’s striking that wireless charging hasn’t taken off despite the concept’s appeal. Powermat’s struggle to become ubiquitous is emblematic.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Samsung Smartphone Sales

Samsung saw a slight dip in smartphone shipments last quarter but was still top dog thanks to demand for its Galaxy S7 lineup.

For the first quarter of 2016, Samsung shipped 81.9 million phones, down slightly from 82.4 million in the same quarter last year, research firm IDC said on Wednesday. The decline would've been larger if not for the success of Samsung's new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The new Galaxy phones "sold vigorously" during March, according to IDC, helped by promotions from wireless carriers.

Apple saw a larger drop in smartphone sales, to 51.2 million last quarter from 61.2 million in the same period in 2015. The iPhone maker was hit by its first year-over-year descent in smartphone shipments as the lack of new features on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus may have dissuaded many iPhone owners from upgrading.

Smartphone ownership has reached a saturation point in key markets across the world. With only small improvements in each new generation of phones, the major players are finding it more difficult to tempt smartphone owners to jump to new models.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Apple Is In Decline

From the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad, Apple created more than a decade’s worth of new gadgets to fuel its historic growth.

But the technology company’s dazzling 13-year run of quarterly revenue growth ended on Tuesday — a casualty of Apple’s already immense size, weakness in key global markets like China and the lack of another hot product to pry open the wallets of customers.

Apple, the Silicon Valley giant that has spent much of the last five years as the world’s most valuable company, said on Tuesday that revenue for its second fiscal quarter, which ended in March, declined 13 percent to $50.6 billion as sales of its flagship product, the iPhone, fell, with little else to take its place.

Nearly half of the smartphones sold in the United States are iPhones, and Apple may be reaching the saturation point among potential customers in other developed countries. Rival smartphone makers using Google’s Android operating system continue to challenge the company with powerful, less expensive devices.

Over all, Apple sold 16 percent fewer iPhones in the quarter compared with the same quarter last year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

OneDrive Notice

Microsoft has given users of its OneDrive cloud storage service a 90-day notice that their free allowance will be scaled back from 15GB to 5GB in late July, according to emails and reports from customers.

The 67% reduction in free storage space will take effect July 27. On the same day, Microsoft will also eliminate the 15GB free "Camera Roll" bonus it once gave to anyone who asked. The result: Users who formerly had 30GB of free storage will have just 5GB.

Those reductions were announced in early November, when Microsoft said it was retreating from its prior promise of unlimited storage for the consumer-grade Office 365 subscriptions, the $70 Personal and the $100 Home plans. Office 365 subscribers will instead have 1TB of storage space for each user. (Office 365 Home allows up to five users; Personal only one.)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Apple Watch Apps

Apple Inc. sold twice as many Watches as iPhones in each device's debut year. Yet the smartwatch is dogged by a perception that seems premature given the history of Apple's most popular devices: disappointment.

As the Watch marks its first anniversary on Sunday—two days before Apple's quarterly earnings announcement—the product's fate is critical to the company. It is Apple's first all-new product since the iPad and a test of its ability to innovate under Chief Executive Tim Cook, when sales of iPhones are slowing.

​So far, the numbers appear solid. Apple doesn't disclose sales, but analysts estimate about 12 million Watches were sold in year one. At an estimated average price of $500, that is a $6 billion business—three times the annual revenue of activity tracker Fitbit Inc.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Offline Streaming

Amazon has it already, so Netflix should too.
Offline streaming might be a future option for Netflix. CEO Reed Hastings said Tuesday in an earnings interview that he's okay with leaving the door open to the possibility of letting users download movies and TV shows.
"We should keep an open mind on this," Hastings said during the earnings interview (at the 22:30 mark). "We've been so focused on click-and-watch and the beauty and simplicity of streaming. But as we expand around the world, where we see an uneven set of networks, it's something we should keep an open mind about."
Although Hastings isn't promising anything, this comment is still noteworthy since the company is considering changing a longstanding policy. Last year, the company said that offline streaming was "not gonna happen" because it was too complex.