Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Xbox One Update

Microsoft is trying to help Xbox One owners discover new TV shows and more courtesy of the upcoming November update.
In an Xbox Wire blog posted on Monday, Microsoft's Larry Hyrb, aka Major Nelson, described in details all the features headed to Xbox One users in next month's update. Through a variety of enhancements are due up, one batch focuses specifically on those who watch live TV via their consoles.
A new tab will appear in the Xbox One's OneGuide that shows you the top 20 most watched TV shows, with the list designed to display only those shows available to you. You can easily jump to a specific show by pressing the A button on your controller. Further, you can see what shows are popular on the Twittersphere by catching which ones people are talking about on Twitter. The tab will show you what your fellow Xbox One owners are watching as well.
You'll also be able to tweak your Xbox One background. Dubbed the "No. 1 fan-requested feature" by Hyrb, this enhancement allows you to choose your own color or achievement art for your background. Hyrb promised more customization options in the future. Further, you'll be able to share your location and bio in your profile so that your fellow gamers can more easily learn more about you.
The update also moves the navigation buttons for the Store pages so that you can more quickly find games, add-ons, and other items. There's also a new section specifically for apps. Internet Explorer users will be able to more easily jump back and forth between full-screen mode.
Finally, the November update adds a leaderboard feature that displays how you rank among your friends based on the number of points you've earned.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Candy Crush is Getting Crushed

Candy Crush Saga is still one of the highest grossing games on mobile, but the stock market doesn’t find this all that impressive anymore. And even double-dipping on the Candy Crush name might not help the social-gaming publisher.

King Digital’s stock is currently trading at around $11.60. That’s just a few percentage points better than its record low of $10.93, which it hit last week. King’s share price is actually down 1.7 percent today despite the company releasing Candy Crush Soda Saga, a followup to its most popular and lucrative game, on Facebook. Investors don’t seem to care that King has another Candy Crush game, as many worry that the original has peaked and the publisher won’t ever have another game to replace it.

King remains a successful company. Candy Crush Saga is still the highest-grossing game in nearly 23 countries. It is in the top 10 highest grossing in more than 100 different markets. It’s maintained its popularity since its release in late 2012. But everything that goes up and makes a ton of money on mobile must eventually come down. And the market is positioning itself for that — and rightly so.

While Candy Crush Saga is almost always one of the top-grossing games, King’s player numbers have started to plateau and even drop in recent months. In August, the company reported its Q2 financial results, and it revealed that its daily average players (DAUs) were down from 143 million in Q1 to 138 million in Q2. Meanwhile, its monthly active users only increased from 481 million in Q1 to 485 million in Q2. Similarly, King’s unique gamers dropped from 352 million in Q1 to 345 million in Q2.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Nobody Ever Got Fired for Buying IBM

There used to be a time when an IT leader could sign one purchasing and support contract with a single vendor, and have all the computing hardware and software needed to conduct enterprise computing for the foreseeable future.

"Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" was regarded as an axiom, and IT purchasers could get everything from mainframes, rack servers, thinkpads, and thinkcentres for corporate desktop needs, and everything in between.

It was an era where it made sense for those supplying computer equipment to integrate and upsell customers on as many products as they could manage.

Thus, we ended up in a place where it was conceivable, and often the reality, that a single IT vendor would not only sell hardware for datacentre, desktop, and laptop computers, but also have its own matching portfolio of software that included mail servers, office programs, communications software, and even operating systems and programming languages.

Enterprise computing was at the forefront of innovation, and it consequently set the tone for how the industry was viewed.

Then, as we all know, consumersation changed the way that computing was approached, and it turned out that those highly integrated corporate vendors that ponderously upgraded their hardware fleets at times of their own choosing were far from the be-all and end-all that customers wanted, or, more importantly, desired.

New brands with shiny hardware appeared on enterprise desktops, and, in parallel, open-source software and internet services were pushing aside the proprietary and expensive software that increasingly lacked features that users found outside of the workplace. Why wrestle with software like Lotus Notes and its associated baggage for email and calendaring when using a service such as Gmail was easy by comparison?

As the computing world shifted and left behind its old masters, those integrated multinationals found themselves increasingly irrelevant, and took to buying companies that offered a chance to reinvigorate and remake the parent corporation — but the theory rarely matched the reality, and often new and exciting companies became crushed with the weight of the parent corporation and its culture.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wearable Technology - Part One

By George Harding

One of the fastest growing segments of the technology industry is that of wearable items. These involve hardware/software combinations that sense and display information about your body and your performance.

At CES 2014, there were many vendors showing their products measuring your pulse, temperature, oximetry, steps, sleep time and even keeping track of your diet and efforts to lose weight.

Since that time, only 8 months, this field has exploded with more companies and more products examining ever deeper into you and your activities. Many of these products involve a wristband with the usual features of a watch, but are enhanced with features relating to your health.

One such is a watch by Casio that not only has all the usual features of a multi-function watch, but also measures heartbeat, notifies you of calls and email, keeps track of your workout data and more. No info yet on price.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Apple Announcements

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is ready to tackle the holiday season with a full product array including new iPads. His challenge now is luring the hordes of buyers that analysts are projecting.

Apple this week unveiled refreshed iPads and Macintosh computers at an event at its Cupertino, California-based headquarters. The iPads are thinner and include fingerprint sensors, with the Macs boasting features such as sharper displays and faster processors. The devices follow Apple’s introduction last month of larger-screen iPhones, a smartwatch and a mobile-payments system.

The lineup is ratcheting up Wall Street’s projections that Apple is entering a high growth phase, which Cook will now have to meet. The CEO is also facing calls by activist investor Carl Icahn to increase Apple’s value. Investors will get a taste of how Cook’s latest gambits are performing next week, when Apple reports fiscal fourth-quarter results on Oct. 20.

Friday, October 17, 2014

HBO Web-only Version

HBO says it’s finally ready: Sometime in the next year the pay-TV service will be selling a Web-only offering.

HBO CEO Richard Plepler, speaking at an investor presentation hosted by HBO parent company Time Warner, said the company will start selling in 2015 a digital version of its service that won’t require a pay-TV subscription.

Plepler said the company will go “beyond the wall” and launch a “stand-alone, over the top” version of HBO in the U.S. next year, and would work with “current partners,” and may work with others as well. But he wouldn’t provide any other detail.

Even that vague statement is a milestone for HBO, Time Warner and the TV business in general. For years, Time Warner and HBO have said they’re happy with the existing system, where HBO is sold to consumers by TV providers, and is usually only available to customers who are already buying another bundle of TV networks.

That arrangement helped generate $4.9 billion in revenue for HBO last year, and also kept pay-TV providers like Comcast* happy.

But now, under pressure from investors to show that Time Warner can extract more value from HBO, Plepler and Time Warner seem willing to risk upsetting that structure. The move will also be seen as a response to the rise of Netflix, which has more than 50 million subscribers for its Web video service, and may generate more revenue than HBO this year.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Google Tablets

Google's Nexus family keeps on getting bigger.
The Internet giant on Wednesday introduced the Nexus 9, a tablet with an 8.9-inch display manufactured by Taiwanese hardware maker HTC, the Nexus 6, a smartphone with a 6-inch display made by Motorola Mobility, and the Nexus Player, a streaming media player by Asus and the first device running Android TV. As with past Nexus launches, the devices serve as a showcase for the latest version of Google's Android mobile operating system, dubbed Lollipop, but previously referred to as "L."
The Nexus 9 and Nexus Player will be available for preorder on October 17, and will hit stores on November 3. The 16GB version of the Nexus 9 will cost $399, the 32GB version will cost $479 and the 32GB version with LTE will cost $599. The Nexus Player and remote control will cost $99 with an optional controller for $40.

The Nexus 6 will be available for preorder on October 29 and available in November, sold unlocked or through carriers. Sprint, US Cellular, AT&T and T-Mobile will sell the Nexus 6 in the US. The 32GB version of the Nexus 6 will cost $649 unlocked, while the 64GB version will cost $699.