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.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Streaming Video

Though Roku players, Amazon Fire TV boxes and the new Apple TV device remain popular, smart TVs beat them all when it comes to which platform consumers prefer for streaming video.

That’s according to a new survey from The Diffusion Group that queried 2,000 U.S. adult broadband users, of which 60% use an over-the-top streaming service on their home TVs.

Smart TVs, at 32.1%, was the most preferred platform (see chart), followed by game consoles (25.1%), Internet set-top boxes (16.8%), Internet sticks (9.9%), connected Blu-ray players (9.7%), and DVRs (2.4%). Just over 4% had no preference.

TDG noted that the preference figure lines up with the penetration of smart TVs. But why did smart TVs outrank the other options?

Simplicity is key, per the theory of TDG director of research Michael Greeson: "With smart TVs, viewers are not required to manually switch inputs from the TV to another device or pick up a different remote in order to access their favorite streaming apps and programs."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

iPhone Sales

The iPhone fueled Apple’s ascendance into the world’s most valuable company. But even iPhone sales have their limits.

Apple on Tuesday reported results for its fiscal first quarter that showed iPhone sales rose less than 1 percent from a year earlier, the slowest year-over-year growth rate ever for the device, which accounts for about two-thirds of the company’s revenue. Apple also issued a sales forecast that signaled that the sluggishness would continue, with the company projecting its first revenue decline in more than a decade.

The results and guidance reflect how Apple, under its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, is grappling with becoming a maturing tech company and is now entering a period of slow growth. While Apple once delivered high double-digit revenue gains on the back of soaring sales of the iPhone and other devices, that has decelerated as the iPhone has begun saturating the market and the company has not introduced a new blockbuster device.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New Palm-size Drone

The palm-sized ONAGOfly is an affordable GPS-enabled drone that automatically takes photos using smile and obstacle recognition technology.

Normally the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires registration for unmanned aircraft systems. Nearly 300,000 drone owners have registered since the government introduced this rule in early January. However, this bite-sized flying camera is so small (0.3 lbs) it doesn’t need to be on the books.

According to the FAA rules, only drones weighing more than 0.55 lbs or 250 grams must register but because the ONAGOfly is so small, it flies right under the regulation.

This little drone goes for $199 on Indiegogo right now ($299 after campaign ends) and comes with built-in obstacle avoidance sensors, as well as some other features usually reserved for larger, more expensive drones like 15 MP camera, 1080p HD video, throw and fly capability (you throw it up and it automatically starts to fly), resistant to wind speeds up to1.6-3.3 m/s, peer-to-peer live streaming, and can be controlled from either an Android or iOS device using WiFi for up to 66 feet in distance.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Google Play Games News

Google has changed the way the Android operating system handles permissions for game players so that it becomes a lot easier to sign players up for transactions.

The company (which is changing its formal name to Alphabet) said today it is changing permissions for Google Play games by altering the model for games applications programming interfaces. The company is addressing “friction,” a common complaint from developers about how it takes too many steps to sign players up and handle transactions.

Google also announced on Monday new features for its player analytics. With the improvements, developers will be able to use predictive analytics to engage players before they quit a game.
Apple has an advantage on this front because it has signed customers up for more than a decade to iTunes accounts. Those users have their own sign-ins and credit cards on file, so they can immediately start making in-app purchases in games. Google’s own direct history with users is shorter, and that’s why it has more friction.

Under the new model, players will be prompted to sign in once per account, rather than once per game. Players no longer need their account upgraded to Google+ to use Play Games services. Once players have signed in for the first time, they will no longer need to sign in for any future games. They will be automatically signed in. (If they wish, players can turn off auto-sign-in in the Play Games apps settings.)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Networking Problem in Denver

Microsoft's tablet partnership with the National Football League has not always been smooth.

After Microsoft struck a reported $400 million deal in 2013 with the NFL to have its Surfaces exclusively on team sidelines for reviewing plays, TV commentators kept referring to them as "iPads." At the time, it was said that networks were constantly reminding their talkers that the Surface looks nothing like an iPad and should therefore be referred to by its actual name.

Microsoft suffered another public black eye during the AFC championship game Sunday between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots when the tablets on the Patriots' sidelines apparently failed.

"They're having some trouble with their Microsoft Surface tablets, CBS' sideline reporter Evan Washburn reported during the game. "On the last defensive possession the Patriots' coaches did not have access to those tablets to show pictures to their players. NFL officials have been working at it. Some of those tablets are back in use, but not all of them. A lot of frustration that they didn't have them on that last possession."

The Patriots' tablets were soon restored to working order after the brief interruption, which a Microsoft spokesman blamed on a network connectivity issue.

Friday, January 22, 2016

1 inch to 2 feet predicted

Our offices will be closed today due to the massive Blizzard of 2016.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

IBM Wants to Buy UStream

IBM is in advanced talks to acquire live video platform UStream, according to multiple sources familiar with the deal. The acquisition is expected to be valued at around $130 million in cash, plus possible earn-outs and employee retention packages.

The relationship between IBM and UStream dates back to at least April 2014, when Ustream was the only video service included in the launch of IBM’s cloud marketplace. Later that year, the two companies announced that Ustream technology would be used to incorporate video streaming capabilities into Bluemix, IBM’s open cloud development platform. A formal acquisition may make it easier for developers to build live video streaming features—such as enterprise collaboration—on the IBM cloud. There also could be Watson applications.

Silicon Valley-based Ustream has raised nearly $50 million in venture capital, although its latest funding round was in late 2011. Investors include DCM, Eastward Capital Partners, Labrador Ventures, KT Corp., SoftTech VC, SoftBank, Recruit Strategic Partners, Wasabi Ventures, and Western Technology Investment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

iOS Li-Fi

Beginning with iOS 9.1, the operating system's library cache file makes mention of "LiFiCapability" alongside other hardware and software capability declarations. The change was spotted by Twitter user Chase Fromm and independently confirmed by AppleInsider.

Li-Fi works in a way not entirely unlike a traditional infrared remote control. Data is transmitted by rapidly modulating a light source, and received with a light sensor before being reassembled into an electronic signal.

Unlike your television remote, Li-Fi uses visible light and the modulation happens in a manner imperceptible to the human eye: that means the same bulb that lights your hallway can act as a data access point. It's also much faster, with theoretical throughput capacity of up to 224 gigabits per second.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Great... More Big Government

Tech groups are looking to the federal government to jump start the young but potentially lucrative market for self-driving cars.

Without intervention,they fear a patchwork of state laws could develop and keep so-called autonomous vehicles from ever hitting the road.

“Transportation is a national issue,” said Jamie Boone, director of government relations at the Consumer Technology Association. “And if you’re going to deploy an entirely new type of vehicle and technology, crossing state lines and having different rules is a huge inhibitor to that."

Monday, January 18, 2016

Affordable VR?

When Frank Azor, the cofounder of Dell’s Alienware gamer PC division and the general manager of XPS, saw a demo of Oculus VR’s virtual reality headset for the first time, his first question was, “How can we help?” That was awhile ago, and at the recent 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas, Alienware showed how it would help.

During CES, Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, had to apologize for saying that the newly announced price for the Rift, which goes on sale formally on March 28, was “cheap” — even though, at $600, it costs more than Oculus originally expected.

Dell, meanwhile, said that it would price its VR-ready Alienware machines at $1,000, or about $100 or $200 below the usual price of its gamer PCs. Alienware also made it easy to order an Oculus-ready PC from its website. VR on the PC isn’t going to be cheap, and a very small percentage of PC owners will be able to run VR on their machines. But over time, Luckey and Azor are confident that VR will reach the masses.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Analog Still Matters

Forget hoverboards, fridges that talk to the Internet, and self-driving cars. Three of the most popular items at this month's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas -- a cine camera, a record turntable and a new Polaroid snapper -- suggest there's a back-from-the-future movement gaining ground that reflects a growing fatigue with the virtual world of digital products, and a renewed enthusiasm for the old-fashioned analog experience.

It's a debate that rages in my house. My partner sniffs books as she opens them; she says it conjures up memories of childhood library visits that promised to make all of the world's knowledge and literary entertainment available. For her, the latest adventures of Bridget Jones in paperback, have all of the evocative power of Proust's madeleine cakes. Me, I've owned a Kindle since they first became available almost a decade ago; I can't remember the last time I bought an actual physical book.

It's the same with music. I consigned my CDs to posterity as soon as I'd spent the hours required to load them into iTunes and transfer them to an iPod; my partner's record collection sits on a shelf, sacrosanct even though neglected. But in Vegas, Panasonic revealed a revamped Technics SL-1200 direct drive turntable -- a record player that disappeared in 2010, and yet was so vital to the rise of the superstar DJ that the London Science Museum has a pair on display.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

CES Security

Are you kidding me?

I recently returned from the Consumer Electronics (CES) trade show in Las Vegas, and that question has been on my mind. The question doesn’t refer to any of the technologies vying to be the next big thing — although I do wonder how many Bluetooth controlled vibrators does one really need? No, what has me wondering is the big announcement ahead of CES about much tighter security restrictions. I wrote before the show that it would be a disaster with never-ending lines and disgruntled attendees, but that wasn’t exactly how it turned out. It was certainly chaotic, but it was a general surrender even before the event opened.

CES is among the world’s biggest conferences, with 170,000 people shuffling into Las Vegas for a week. This year, attendees were warned that new security practices would be in place. Among the guidelines were: “Bags will be searched. We suggest you use clear bags (mesh, plastic, vinyl, etc.) to expedite this process”; “Bags and backpacks with many pockets are not helpful. Pockets slow search time”; and “Everyone will be subject to metal detector screening and body pat downs upon entering show premises.”

Many of us wondered how these new security measures would accommodate our usual trade show behavior. Was there any hope of making appointments on time? I and my journalism colleagues were particularly pessimistic, because we’re expected to file stories from the press room, which means carting along a laptop computer and supporting electronics. And we hustle from venue to venue to meet people at appointed times. How would any of that work out when we had to stand in long queues wherever we went?

As it turned out, CES — whose success has derived in no small measure from publicity — saw the light regarding us journalists and relaxed its new rules for members of the press. That was an orderly retreat. But it still intended to treat the unwashed masses to a full dose of security theater. From what I could see, though, those plans disintegrated in a most disorderly fashion.

And in the end, the illusion of safety provided by security theater really fell away on our way home.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

PC Sales Stay Flat

Analyst Gartner has charted the fifth consecutive quarter of PC shipment declines, reporting today that holiday sales of full-fat computers fell by 8.3 per cent in Q4 2015 — and by 8 per cent for the year overall.

Shipments decreased in all regions, with the analyst suggesting interest in other consumer electronics devices, such as TVs and wearables, contributed to depressing PC sales over the holiday period.

All tracked PC vendors saw declines, according to the analyst, with the exception of Apple which bucked the trend — with Gartner charting a 2.8 per cent rise in Mac sales in Q4 compared to the same quarter in 2014; and a 5.8 per cent growth rate for 2015 vs 2014.

Apple shipped around 20.7 million Macs in total last year, according to Gartner’s figures, and almost 5.7 million in Q4. Although even the Mac maker’s Q4 growth was down on the same quarter in the previous year; Gartner recorded an 11.5 per cent rise for Apple Mac sales in Q4 2014 vs Q4 2013.

Meanwhile Lenovo, the largest PC vendor, saw a 4.2 per cent decline in shipments in Q4 last year, with its shipments dropping 3.1 per cent in 2015 overall. Gartner notes these declines were less bad than the industry average, allowing Lenovo to extend its PC market lead. The vendor shipped 57.1 million PCs in 2015, with 15.3 million of those in the Q4 holiday quarter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

CES Breaks Records

CES 2016 ended its four-day run on Saturday as the tech show’s most expansive one yet, breaking records across the board.

According to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA),  
the show’s producer, more than 3,800 exhibitors touching every major global industry filled nearly 2.5 million net square feet of exhibit space last week at multiple locations in and around Las Vegas.

The event drew more than 170,000 industry professionals, including more than 50,000 from outside the U.S., representing over 150 countries and more than 100 official delegations, including the first Cuban delegation organized by the Cuban Embassy of the U.S.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Wearables at CES

Hundreds of companies flock to Las Vegas each January to make their mark on the tech industry in a given year, but one company remains absent. Apple doesn't attend CES, at least not officially, but the company's influence looms over the annual tech convention at nearly every turn, particularly the wearable segment.

While it was rarely mentioned by name, nearly every booth I visited included an Apple Watch reference. Fitbit highlighted how its new fitness tracker, the Fitbit Blaze, was different than other devices on the market. "It's puts fitness first," explained CEO James Park during the company's press event.

Apple wasn't the only major wearable player absent: most of Google's Android Wear platform was a non-factor at this year's show. A few companies like Casio showed off new Android Wear watches, but the news at CES wasn't about smartwatches: it was about fitness, once again. Fitness is still what sells wearable tech, and the electronics industry knows it. Also, the New Year's resolution timing couldn't be better.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

CES News

CES was a wonderful show and we’ll have a ton of exciting news coming in the next few days. 

I’m sorry we didn’t post more while we were there, we were just too busy!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Storage Visions

Well. CES for 2016 has started. Most of our team has arrived and we're starting our event coverage. Right now we're at Storage Visions, this year it's at the Luxor since the Riv is no more.

Keep your eyes on this blog for the latest news from CES!!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

CES 2016

We'll be leaving shortly for Las Vegas to begin our coverage of CES2016. Notice that we did not call it the Consumer Electronics Show or the International CES. Both of those terms are now forbidden by the hosts of the show, CTA or the Consumer Technology Association (formerly the CEA or Consumer Electronics Association).

Are you confused yet? So are we.