Lack of infrastructure information, planning issues makes Google wary of Fiber expansion
Cities wanting to have Google Fiber's Gigabit Internet service will need to simplify the bureaucratic process as much as possible before it will be considered, the search company has warned. Vice President of Access Services at Google Fiber Milo Medin advised to an audience earlier this week that "If you make it easy, we will come. If you make it hard, enjoy your Time Warner Cable."
Fight likely to continue in House, Senate over depth of FCC power
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the net neutrality rules, including Title II regulation of Internet Service Providers as proposed by FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, with minor modifications. The vote wasn't unanimous, nor was it expected to be, and predictably split across party lines. The two Democratic members and the Chair voted to approve the contentious policy, and the two Republican members voted against it.
Android Pay rumor comes as Softcard pulls support for Windows Phone
Google will be launching a new payments API at its Google I/O developer conference in May, a report claims, potentially giving Apple Pay some stiff competition. Android Pay will allow developers to not only add mobile payments to their apps, but to also facilitate in-store purchases via smartphone over NFC. The news comes as Softcard reveals it is starting to pull support for its apps, following the purchase of its intellectual property by the search company.
Cisco, Citrix also banned; government cites security concerns
A weekend move by China has stricken Apple, Intel, Cisco, Citrix, and McAfee from approved vendors for governmental purchase. Ostentibly to protect national security interests, the move appears to be more about giving state run and other Chinese companies a leg up on procurements in the country, similar to regulations inside the US government that does the same.
Google Play Music expands track storage to 50,000 songs
Google Play Music has received an upgrade to its music storage component, allowing customers to keep more songs on its servers for streaming to computers and mobile devices. The music locker has increased its upper limit of 20,000 tracks to 50,000, double that of the paid iTunes Match service. Despite vastly increasing its storage capacity, the digital locker is still a completely free service.
Samsung grabs lion's share of shipments, but Apple takes 90 percent of profits
Based on shipment data, analyst firm IDC has determined that Apple and Samsung have effectively gained full control of the smartphone market, splitting 96.3 percent of all smartphones shipped -- up nearly a full percentage point from the same period last year. All Android phones combined account for 81.5 percent in 2014, a slight increase from 2013. The percentages flip, however, when talking about money rather than units -- with Apple said to get 90 percent of the profits in the industry.
Visits with German Chancellor, Israeli President for former president
Fresh from his trip to Germany, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple VP of Hardware Technology Johny Srugi -- the latter a graduate of Israel's Technion Institute of Technology -- have made their way to Israel for meetings and to attend the opening of a new set of Apple R&D offices in Herzliya. Along with the announcement of a nearly $2 billion investment in two new data centers to be located in Europe, Cook and Srugi met with various Israeli officials, including President Rueven Rivlin and former president Shimon Peres.
CEO comments, job advertisements point to future Wi-FI phone service
Comcast may be exploring the possibility of creating its own wireless service, using its collection of Wi-Fi hotspots. While comments made during a conference call with analysts may hint at the cable company's potential mobile phone service, a report claims Comcast has placed multiple job advertisements, looking for staff to create the mobile service.
Patent troll owns patent, Apple claims patent too broad and covered by others
Apple has been handed a rare loss in a patent licensing trial. The Cupertino manufacturer has been ordered to pay patent aggregation company Smartflash, a non-practicing entity, $532.9 million for willful infringement of the company's patents in iTunes and in-app purchase processing. The trial was held in Tyler, TX, the "rocket docket" and notably friendly to patent trolls.
New proposals may weaken 'paid prioritization' ban, throttling restrictions
One of the three Federal Communications Commission board members previously expected to vote in favor of Chair Tom Wheeler's Title II net neutrality proposal has thrown a spanner in the works by suggesting some changes that could possibly dilute the effectiveness of the proposal. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has asked Wheeler for some changes that wouldn't challenge the overall concept of the proposal, but could weaken FCC enforcement of some key aspects.
Upcoming 28nm AMD APU will adapt to voltage fluctuations
AMD has issued more details about its Carrizo accelerated processing unit (APU). Revealed at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference and building on the announcement from last year, the chip manufacturer claims the new chip will have 3.1 billion transistors, 29 percent more than current Kaveri APUs in the same die area, with a 3.5x improvement on transcode performance and a 40-percent power saving also promised.
Republican commissioners ask for special treatment, delay on historic vote
Following the lead of Republicans in Congress, the two GOP commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are doing their bit to try to stop or at least slow down a planned vote this week on FCC Chair Tom Wheeler's net neutrality proposal, which fixes the current hodge-podge of neutrality exceptions and violations by removing the power to "gatekeep" the Internet from big Internet Service Providers (ISPs) through Title II "public utility" regulation.
Current boost to stock may render estimates irrelevant even as they are published
A number of analysts revised their expectations for Apple's stock last week -- only to watch those year-end estimates melt in the face of the stock's current performance, which ended trading on Monday at yet another all-time high of $133 per share. The combination of much better-than-expected sales in the holiday quarter and the increasing interest in Apple's other initiatives -- ranging from Apple Pay to forthcoming products like the Apple Watch and a possible-but-far-off car design -- has sent the stock skyrocketing.
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile to pre-install Google Wallet on new smartphones
Google is preparing to compete more intensely against Apple Pay, by acquiring mobile payments technology from Softcard. At the same time, Google has struck a deal with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless to have Google Wallet pre-installed on sold devices, the same group of carriers who backed the Softcard payments system in the first place.
Apple tempting Samsung staff with greater independence, benefits
Apple has been accused of poaching employees from rival technology companies for the second time in a week, this time from Samsung. Unnamed officials at the electronics producer apparently claim Apple has headhunted engineers working in signal processing and visual processing management, bolstering its staff with experts in chip production and battery technology, potentially for its rumored electric car project.
Data centers in Ireland, Denmark to run on renewable energy
Apple is expanding its data center collection and improving its online services in Europe, by creating two more "state-of-the-art" facilities on the continent. New constructions based in County Galway, Ireland and Jutland, Denmark will both run completely on renewable energy, with the total investment expected to cost 1.7 billion euro ($1.9 billion) when completed.
Verizon installing 400 small cells to improve San Francisco LTE coverage
Verizon subscribers in San Francisco will be seeing improvements in 4G service in some areas before the end of the year, thanks to a new project to install small cells. Typically used in high-demand locations and previously used in New York and Chicago, GigaOM reports that 400 LTE-equipped transmitters will be added to utility and light poles in the SOMA, Financial District, Market Street, and North Beach neighborhoods as part of the project, with the miniature masts said to cover a radius of 250 to 500 feet each, smaller than macro cells usually used.
Sony aiming for $4.2B annual profit within three years
Sony's survival could involve Sony pulling out of more business areas, in order to concentrate on its imaging and entertainment divisions. Seemingly confirming earlier reports, CEO Kazou Hirai's new strategy will now depend on its camera sensor sales and the success of the PlayStation gaming arm to increase its operating profit 25-fold within the next three years, at a cost of minimizing its other businesses.
Bloomberg, citing sources, points to six-year development timetable
Adding more fuel to the fire, reports are circulating today that Apple is aiming for a 2020 delivery of its rumored electric car. The six-year timetable for commencement of work to delivery is about par for experienced manufacturers, but industry analysts say that Apple may be jumping the gun on release a bit, with them expecting that a newcomer to the industry generally takes up to 10 years for the first models to roll off the production line. It is worth noting that all reports on the matter -- and subsequent quotes from others -- are speculative in nature, as the company has not confirmed anything.
Apple expected to shoulder $1.7 billion construction cost of new facility
Manufacturer Japan Display is reportedly in advanced discussions with Apple to bring more of its screens to Apple devices, beyond the 50,000 raw-material panels it supplies now. As part of the deal, the Japanese company is asking Apple to bear most of the $1.7 billion it would take to build a new plant, with a requirement of screen production in 2016. The iPhone maker may be a little gunshy on the deal, given how badly its financing arrangement for the GT Advanced sapphire-producing plant turned out.
Spectrum auction in 2016 in danger of being dominated by AT&T, Verizon
The Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) needs to improve its auction rules ahead of another 600MHz spectrum auction set to take place next year, the CEO of T-Mobile has urged. John Legere warns that the next auction could be dominated by larger carriers AT&T and Verizon, and that "If the government wants a competitive wireless market, they need to establish action rules to reflect that."
Fortune ranking follows others, achieves top score in all scoring categories
For the eighth year running, Apple has again captured the title of "World's Most Admired Company," according to the annual survey from Fortune. The magazine had previously also honored Apple by naming it the world's most valuable brand; competitor Barron's had recently named it the world's most respected company. The award reflects the voting of some 4,104 executives, directors, and securities analysts.
Beats headphones, iOS devices, MacBook all leaders in their respective categories
A new survey measuring customer loyalty and engagement has picked several categories of Apple products as the best in their field, at least in the minds of consumers. Beats headphones were the top most-liked headphone brand, the combined MacBook lines took best laptop, and the iPhone and iPad unsurprisingly won best smartphone and tablet, respectively. The Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index measures how well a product meets -- or exceeds -- consumer expectations.
Utility classification accompanied by calls to improve speeds, digital skills education
Internet access must be classified as a public utility, a report from the upper house of the United Kingdom parliament has declared, with speeds and the teaching of "digital skills" also a priority. Echoing the similar Title II discussion in the United States, the UK's House of Lords calls for the government to "define the Internet as a utility service, available for all to access and use," citing the prevalence of the Internet in everyday life.
Reported addition of subscription comes amid unskippable advertising expansion
YouTube will soon be launching a subscription service that will allow users to turn off advertising, a report claims. Working as a separate offering to the current Music Key subscription, which removes ads from music videos and also includes access to Google Play Music All Access, the new subscription would apply to all videos on the YouTube service.
Top battery-tech workers defect, may have violated anti-compete agreements
According to a new lawsuit filed against Apple, the iPhone maker has been poaching employees from a vehicle-oriented "advanced energy" technology company called A123 Systems over the past eight months for a new, unannounced battery division at the iPhone maker. The latter company says that Apple and its former employees may have violated anti-compete agreements, and have left A123 without qualified leaders for key projects.
Cross-platform LoopPay PIN-based; data stored locally, not in the cloud
Samsung Electronics today confirmed that it has agreed to acquire LoopPay, the mobile wallet solutions provider that turns existing magnetic stripe readers into contactless receivers. LoopPay's technology has the potential to work in approximately 90 percent of existing point-of-sale (POS) terminals, according to Samsung research, with no investment in new infrastructure required by merchants.
High-speed delivery of Amazon orders reaches more NYC Prime subscribers
Amazon is making its Prime Now one-hour delivery service available to more people in New York City. The retailer's initial service, launched in December, will now expand from its original small single-ZIP-code operating area to cover all of Manhattan, bringing the high-speed online delivery service to all Prime subscribers located within the borough.
Company's iPhone 6 lineup took country by storm, reflecting other markets
Research firm IDC has reported that the established order of dominance in the Chinese smartphone market has crumbled, with Apple's iPhone 6 lineup pushing the Cupertino manufacturer into second place in the market, a doubling of its position from 2013. Low-cost Chinese maker Xiaomi took first place with just slightly better performance than Apple, while Samsung -- previously the unchallenged top seller -- fell to fifth place in marketshare.
Russian search engine captures 60 percent of the business in Russia
Russian search engine Yandex has demanded that antitrust authorities investigate Google. Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has been instructed to look into Mountain View's bundling of services with mobile operating system Android, and how it impacts the market share of other companies' services in the country.
Jury declares Samsung infringed on pair of modem patents
Samsung has lost a patent infringement lawsuit over Bluetooth 2.0, to a non-practicing entity called Rembrandt IP. A jury in an East Texas federal court ruled the manufacturer had infringed three claims on two patents, numbers 8,457,228 and 8,023,580, relating to modem compatibility, with Rembrandt being given $15.7 million in compensation and royalties on future Samsung devices using Bluetooth.
ABC sitcom Modern Family to set episode on OS X desktop
An upcoming episode of ABC sitcom Modern Family is going to take place entirely on the Mac. Due to air under the episode title "Connection Lost" on February 25, Recode reports the entire show will be using the OS X desktop to show the episode's action, with the cast using the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 tablets borrowed from Apple for filming. Despite the appearance of being a Yosemite desktop, the post-production team apparently spent months creating a replica that could be tightly controlled and easily readable by television viewers.
Follow-up to Nuclun believed to launch later this year
Samsung may not be the only one trying to compete against Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processor with its own devices, with LG apparently doing something similar. A report claims the electronics manufacturer will be following on from its Nuclun processor with another self-produced processor, this time as a 64-bit octa-core chipset.
Features may return in future versions of Apple Watch
Apple may have fallen short of initial lofty goals for the Apple Watch, unnamed sources say. Initially conceived as an omnibus device, possibly capable of monitoring a wide array of health-related parameters of the wearer, sources familiar with the matter now say that Apple has toned down expectations over a four-year development process, fearing inconsistent results from the device's readings, as well as a concern of attracting the ire of health regulators because of poor performance. For its own part, Apple has not made any specific health promises regarding the watch.
Half of initial production Sport model, one third regular model
According to industry sources familiar with the matter, Apple's first manufacturing order for the forthcoming Apple Watch is between five and six million units. It is also likely to be the most expensive item on Apple's current product list, with the gold watch "likely surpassing the $4,000 Mac Pro computer," but not being the most expensive Apple product ever -- as it is unlikely to beat out the 20th Anniversary Macintosh from 1997 at $10,000.
Launch of AT&T GigaPower in Google Fiber home tainted by privacy issues
AT&T has expanded its U-verse with GigaPower gigabit Internet service to Kansas City, the initial launch city of Google Fiber. While AT&T is trying hard to compete against Google's own service in the city, including offering a voice service that Google lacks, potential customers may feel wary about signing up, as the company is offering some plans at a lower price in exchange for an erosion of privacy.
Mac maker will continue to not share security information with government, however
Apple and Intel are among the US firms that have agreed to sign on to President Obama's new Cybersecurity Framework as a result of a recent summit on the topic held on Friday in Palo Alto, California. The two tech firms are the first in that sector to adopt the measures, which are intended to better coordinate reporting of data and security breaches and the response to them between businesses and the federal government.
The MacNN Podcast for February 16, 2015
The MacNN Podcast hits its second episode and engages on a wide variety of topics! Join this week's hosts, MacNN Editor Charles Martin, alongside staff writer Michelle Elbert, reviewer William Gallagher, and news writer Malcolm Owen as they discuss the events that got our attention, needed further discussion, or just plain tickled our fancy.
Exynos 7420 first release in new Samsung SoC range
Samsung has introduced its newest generation of Exynos 7 Octa processors for mobile devices, designed to take on Qualcomm's current flagship line. This time, Samsung is using a 14nm process with its processor line, which is said to provide a 20-percent performance improvement on the older 20nm manufacturing process, while lowering power consumption by up to 35 percent.
News from the video game industry for the week of February 8
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista collect together a selection of notable items from the world of gaming into one post. In today's Weekly Game Replay, we recount the drama of Curiosity's heavily-delayed prize of being a "God of Gods," Bioware's cancellation of Shadow Realms, the dropping of a content update public beta for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, the expansion of Steam's economy to other games, and the PlayStation 4's return to beating the Xbox One in US hardware sales.
Proposals rule out drone-based delivery services
Drones performing deliveries for retailers will not be offered to consumers any time in the near future, if proposals from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are adopted. The initial proposals for "small unmanned aircraft systems" would in theory allow for the commercial use of the remote-controlled aircraft, but not to a point where Amazon's drone delivery service would become a reality in the United States.
JP Morgan, Piper Jaffray, Icahn all call for higher targets in 2015
Thanks to both the recent record-shattering performance of the company as well as known forthcoming debuts, a number of analysts have recently revised their target goals for Apple stock. While pundits are clearly guessing on things like how well the Apple Watch or the next iPad revision will sell, the solid performance of the iPhone, rising Mac sales, and success of other foundational technologies give the company a likely bright future for 2015.
Attempt to offset poor smartphone sales with component sales
Samsung is planning to offset its falling smartphone sales from the last quarter's results by redoubling its efforts in OLED screen production. The South Korean electronics giant's display arm is planning to make an investment of 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion) into OLED production, in the hope that its component sales to other manufacturers will go up in the next few years.
Streaming video service Target Ticket shuttering next month
Target is shutting down its video streaming service next month. Target Ticket has already stopped providing rentals, though existing rentals will be viewable until the service shuts down completely on March 7, according to its support pages. The retailer has already made arrangements for its customers to watch movies through CinemaNow from the same account when Ticket closes, with any UltraViolet purchases viewable through other supported video services automatically.
Facility near Anobit's offices in Israel, purpose of location unknown
Reports are circulating that Apple CEO Tim Cook is headed to Herzliya, Israel early next week. While there is no official confirmation from Apple, the executive is said to be attending the opening of a new Apple office and research facility in the country, an area where Apple has had little corporate presence other than acquisitions in for some time.
Sunrise purchase believed to cost Microsoft at least $100M
Microsoft has confirmed it has acquired calendar app creator Sunrise. Rumored last week, the purchase provides Microsoft with a powerful calendar tool for iOS, Mac, Android, and a web-based version, and when combined with the earlier deal to buy Acompli, appears to show Microsoft is trying to improve its Office suite by incorporating already-successful third-party apps, rather than developing its own solutions.
Progress made on conflict-free smelters, fallback on overtime issues
On Wednesday, Apple updated its annual Supplier Responsibility Report, and for the most part reported continued progress in its struggle to ensure that workers in its Asian factories are not suffering abuse or dangerous conditions. The biggest change in the report is that Apple has barred recruitment firms and employers from charging workers any fee to get jobs on its assembly lines. The iPhone maker also noted that it increased supplier audits by 40 percent in 2014.
Square allegedly working on Android hardware, Google trials Plaso
Square and Google are both said to be working on new payment systems in order to take on Apple Pay and the payments market in general, according to a report. Building upon its existing knowledge of payment hardware, Square is said to be working on its own tablet, while Google is allegedly testing a new payment processing method called "Plaso."
FreedomPop, Ting, Virgin Mobile, more preparing to offer iPhone 6, latest Androids
New reports indicate that Sprint has dropped a previous requirement that resellers of its network -- FreedomPop, Straight Talk, Boost Mobile, Virgin, and some others -- wait more than a year before offering support for the latest models of Android and iOS devices. The change allows the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to immediately begin offering the current iPhone 6 line from Apple, the top-selling smartphone worldwide.
Three-year investment program aims to provide 4G to more than 99 percent of population
British carrier EE has pledged to spend £1.5 billion ($2.3 billion) over the next three years to spread LTE service across the United Kingdom. The carrier plans to flood the country with 4G/LTE coverage, and is aiming to cover more than 99 percent of the population with the higher-speed service by 2017, exceeding its current footprint for its aging 2G service, and blanket 90 percent of the UK geography with the high-speed wireless connection.