Tag Archive: Home Entertainment

Intel’s more than two decade reign as king of the silicon-based semiconductor ended Thursday when Samsung Electronics surpassed the US manufacturer to become the leading maker of the computer chips that are a 21st century staple much as oil was in the past.

Samsung reported record-high profit and sales in its earnings report for the April-June quarter, and while Intel’s reported earnings beat forecasts, the US company’s entire revenue was smaller than sales from Samsung’s chip division.

Samsung said its semiconductor business recorded 8 trillion ($7.2 billion) in operating income on revenue of KRW 17.6 trillion ($15.8 billion) in the quarter.

Intel said it earned $2.8 billion (roughly Rs. 17,960 crores) on sales of $14.8 billion (roughly Rs. 94,927 crores). Analysts had expected the US chipmaker to report $14.4 billion (roughly Rs. 92,359 crores) in quarterly revenue.

“Given Samsung’s strength today in flash memory, I am not surprised Samsung surpassed Intel in semiconductor revenue,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, adding that Intel may be able to catch up Samsung when Intel’s memory output is at full production capacity in about six months. “I think we will see a lot of back and forth between the two companies.”

On an annual basis, Samsung’s semiconductor division is widely expected to overtake Intel’s sales this year, analysts at brokerages and market research firms say.

Mobile devices and data are the keys to understanding Samsung’s ascent as the new industry leader, even as its de facto chief is jailed, battling corruption charges, and it recovers from the fiasco last year over the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.

Manufacturers are packing more and more memory storage capacity into ever smaller mobile gadgets, as increased use of mobile applications, connected devices and cloud computing services drive up demand and consequently prices for memory chips, an area dominated by Samsung.

Just as Saudi Arabia dominates in oil output, Samsung leads in manufacturing the high-tech commodity of memory chips, which enable the world to store the data that fuels the digital economy.

“Data is the new crude oil,” said Marcello Ahn, a Seoul, South Korea-based fund manager at Quad Investment Management.

For over a decade, Samsung and Intel each ruled the market in its own category of semiconductor.

Intel, the dominant supplier of the processors that serve as brains for personal computers, has been the world’s largest semiconductor company by revenue since 1992 when it overtook Japan’s NEC.

Samsung is reaping the rewards of dominating in the memory chip market that is growing much faster than the market for computers that rely on processing units dominated by Intel, said Chung Chang Won, a senior analyst at Nomura Securities.

“Greater use of smartphones and tablet PCs instead of computers is driving the rise of companies like Samsung,” Chung said.

Since 2002, Samsung Electronics has been the largest supplier of memory chips, called DRAMs and NANDs. But for years demand for memory chips was vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles depending on output and on demand from the consumer electronics industry. At times, competition was brutal as supply gluts arose.

That changed in 2012 when Japan’s Elpida filed for bankruptcy and was sold to Micron Technology, leaving only three major suppliers of DRAM, a type of memory chip used in servers, computers and handsets: Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and Micron.

Tight supplies coupled with rock solid demand have pushed prices of memory chips higher, with average selling prices of DRAMs and flash memory chips doubling over the past year, bringing South Korea’s memory chip makers record wide profit margins. Both Samsung and SK Hynix are expected to report all-time high profits this year.

Amid this boom that analysts call a memory chip “super cycle,” global semiconductor revenue is forecast to jump 52 percent this year, reaching $400 billion (roughly Rs. 25,65,531 crores) for the first time, according to market research firm Gartner.

For the full year, Intel is expected to post $60 billion (roughly Rs. 3,84,829 crores) in annual sales, according to a market consensus polled by FactSet, a financial data provider. Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor business is expected to report KRW 71.9 trillion ($62.6 billion) in full-year revenues.

Looking ahead, Samsung and SK Hynix, which control more than three quarters of the global DRAM sales, are raising their spending on semiconductor capacity and development in anticipation of robust future demand. SK Hynix raised its capital spending to KRW 9.6 trillion ($8.6 billion) this year, up more than 50 percent from last year. Samsung has said it plans to spend $18 billion in the next four years to expand memory chip production capacity at its South Korean plants.

Not just tech companies but also transport, retail, tourism, food and other industries are seeking ways to better use or manage data, to gain insights on trends or customer preferences and otherwise make money from “big data.” The rising use of vehicle connectivity and the “internet of things” is expected to drive still further demand for the chips that have helped Samsung move ahead, at least for now.



Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Earlier this month, Samsung was reported to be making an Amazon Echo competitor, but a fresh report seems to refute those claims. A new report now claims that Samsung feels that competitors in the market like Amazon Echo are way ahead in the game, and the tech giant wants to still indulge in the waiting game before launching a product in the smart speaker space. Korean site The Korea Herald reports that Samsung is not so enthusiastic about the smart speaker market as of now, and is not looking to launch one anytime soon.

“Samsung currently does not view Al speakers as marketable, as the global market is already dominated by unbeatable Amazon and the Korean market is too small to make profits. More importantly, Samsung cannot afford to focus on the uncertain market, as most of its AI specialists — whose number is much less than that of the US tech giants — are currently going all out to develop the Bixby version in English,” an anonymous source told the publication.

Amazon Echo currently enjoys 70 percent of the market share in smart speakers, with Google Home market share on the rise. The Korean market, where Samsung has dominance, also has SK Telecom’s NUGU which is quite famous already. Samsung, presumably, prefers to wait it out and see how the market for smart speakers shapes up before taking the plunge.

Also, its Bixby AI’s English version, which was delayed for months due to several technical glitches, has finally been released for Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users in the US. It still needs to be rolled out in other markets where the smartphones have been made available. All of this suggests that Samsung would be making a smart move by not venturing into smart speakers for now, given how advanced Alexa and Google Assistant are.

In any case, Samsung has confirmed that Bixby is arriving on the Family Hub 2.0 smart fridge, indicating that it’s not completely ruling out the AI assistant’s integration in its smart products line after all.



Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

The Freedom 251 smartphone manufacturer Ringing Bells has now announced that it is launching a high-definition television set in the market. The company is holding an event in Delhi on July 7 where it is set to launch the Freedom HD LED TV. Alongside, Ringing Bells says it will will also be unveiling new ‘range’ of smartphones at the event.



Ringing Bells has sent out media invites for the event, however no pricing and availability details have been revealed. If the Freedom 251 smartphone is to be any testimony, the HD LED TV will also be ultra-cheap. The company’s general manager Anmol Goel had earlier mentioned that the TV would be less than Rs. 10,000. Presumably, the company will take pre-orders before beginning to ship the product to the buyers. The high definition LED TV is expected to sport a 32-inch display, but there may be other variants as well.

As for unveiling a new range of smartphones, this news comes as a surprise as the company has not managed to deliver its Freedom 251 smartphone to the buyers yet. The invite also claims that the company’s Managing Director Mohit Goel will update the media on developments related to the Freedom 251 smartphone.

With the vision to put a smartphone in every Indian’s hands, the world’s cheapest smartphone Freedom 251 was launched in February. The Noida-based startup is making headlines since then for its inability to handle volume pre-bookings, and delivering handsets on time. Ringing Bells was to begin delivering handsets on June 30, but was delayed to July 6.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

The US space agency has released its popular Nasa app for a new platform – the fourth-generation Apple TV – that will provide you access to Nasa TV on your TV as well live views from the International Space Station (ISS).



This version joins the app’s other versions available for iOS in iPhone and iPad versions, Android and Fire OS.

The Nasa app, available for free in the App Store on Apple TV, has been downloaded more than 17 million times across all platforms.

“The Nasa app has been a fantastic way for the public to experience the excitement of space exploration from their mobile devices,” said David Weaver, Nasa associate administrator for Communications.

“Now, users with the latest Apple TV can explore and enjoy our remarkable images, videos, mission information, Nasa Television and more on the big screen with the whole family,” he added in a statement.

The Nasa app for Apple TV offers several features for users.

You can watch live streaming Nasa TV and get a real-time view of the Earth from the space station.

The users can view more than 15,000 images individually or as a continuous slideshow and play “on demand” Nasa videos.

They can view other Nasa satellites pass overhead, based on their location and discover the latest Nasa mission information.

“The users can listen to Nasa’s online radio station “Third Rock” and view the Earth as art image gallery,” Nasa said.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Government on Monday relaxed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms in a host of sectors including civil aviation, single-brand retail, defence, e-commerce, and pharma by permitting more investments under automatic route.



Other sectors in which FDI norms have been relaxed include e-commerce in food products, broadcasting carriage services, private security agencies and animal husbandry.

“Now most of the sectors would be under automatic approval route, except a small negative list. With these changes, India is now the most open economy in the world for FDI,” said an official statement.

The decision to further liberalise FDI regime with the objective of “providing major impetus to employment and job creation in India” was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.

This is the second major reform in the FDI space. The Centre in last November had significantly relaxed the foreign investment regime.

In the tech sector, perhaps the most important announcement was relaxation of the FDI norms for single brand retail, in context of the planned entry into the India’s retail space by Apple, LeEco, and Xiaomi.

In its statement, the government said, “It has now been decided to relax local sourcing norms up to three years and a relaxed sourcing regime for another five years for entities undertaking Single Brand Retail Trading of products having ‘state-of-art’ and ‘cutting edge’ technology. ”

As for e-commerce in food products, the government’s statement said, “It has now been decided to permit 100% FDI under government approval route for trading, including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured or produced in India.”


Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

When Jessa Jones found out her kids had submerged her iPhone in her toilet, causing a clog, she thought her phone was a lost cause. It powered on but didn’t seem to be taking a charge anymore. The Apple store warns against water damage, which is not covered by warranty.



It wasn’t until Jones started poking around on online forums that the mother of four discovered that the phone didn’t charge because the charging chip was ruined. After two years of tinkering with the device, Jones finally got the phone to start working again.

“I didn’t want to abandon the phone just because it wouldn’t take a charge. It seemed like such a solvable problem,” she said.

She didn’t know that her journey to fix a phone would lead her to become one of the most innovative iPhone repair experts in the game, and drive her to a world of black market electronics and leaked iPhone blueprints that spans the globe.

Jones is part of a group of independent device repair technicians who are dedicated to fixing and extracting data from damaged phones, tablets and computers. These fixers can rescue phone photos and prolong the life of the device. Yet their practice exists in a legal gray zone. Due to Apple’s tight grip on the repair services of its products, many repair technicians must rely on questionable electronic pieces from factories in China, as well as re-created design guides. The tech giant forbids official parts or device blueprints from being used outside of their Apple Genius bars or authorized third-party shops.

And Apple isn’t the only company with these strict repair guidelines. While Jones’s vocation is perfectly legal, she is sometimes forced to utilize not-quite-legitimate sources.

“For a cracked iPhone, the best quality screen that I can possibly source I’m technically not allowed to have,” said Jones. She risks confiscation every time she ships Apple parts from China, where she buys from sellers who could be sending her factory rejects, backdoor inventory or shoddy fakes, depending on her luck, she said. Then there are the design guides, or schematics, which she finds on unofficial websites and forums.

“It feels very much like we’re doing something wrong. It feels unsupported and illegitimate.”

A New York bill called the Fair Repair Act would help give Jones the legitimacy she desires. The bill requires that hardware manufacturers make repair instructions and parts available to the public. If passed by state lawmkers, the bill could open up independent access to repairs across the nation; its legality in one state would free up information and distribution flow to the rest of the country.

The impact of this right-to-repair legislation would extend beyond independent technicians like Jones. If the bill becomes law, it could be a big positive for the environment, cutting down on manufacturing costs and e-waste generated from disposed phones. That’s a major reason that New York state Sen. Phil Boyle decided to sponsor the bill, citing the destructive consumer cycle of buying new devices because minor repairs are too expensive to afford through official stores. These phones typically end up in landfills. Even recycling these devices properly relies on access to Apple device designs so that they can be easily disassembled and processed.

“The manufacturing impact of the electronic sector is huge,” said Kyle Wiens, a repair advocate and founder of iFixit, an online wiki of repair guides and electronic parts store. “If you’re gonna go to all the effort and environmental impact to make a phone, let’s make it last for seven or 10 years. And it’s okay if it’s not necessarily used by the first owner for all that long, but let’s make it so that somebody can use it.”

Studies have shown that the average American keeps their phone for around 1.5 to 2.5 years before moving on to a new one.

But New York’s right-to-repair legislation has made little progress toward passage. It’s still in its early stages of the state’s congress and will die if it isn’t passed by the end of the month. Documents in public government filings reviewed by the Huffington Post earlier this month show that Apple lobbied to kill the bill.

“Apple in particular has been really vocal about how environmentally friendly they are, but then, behind the scenes, they’re subverting every possible technique that people could have to make their products last longer,” said Wiens. Apple removed the iFixit app, created by Wiens’ repair community/company, from the app store last year when iFixit posted instructions on how to tear down the Apple TV.

Responding to questions from The Washington Post, Apple pointed to a company environmental report that demonstrates its e-waste efforts, including the development of a robot that helps take apart and recycle Apple products. The company also emphasized that it wants Apple devices to be repaired with genuine parts and verified technical know-how to preserve the integrity of the products. When pressed about Apple’s lobbying efforts to kill the bill, Apple declined to comment.

Wiens is also concerned that Apple’s tactics are quashing innovation. He uses Jones, the homemaker turned fixer guru, as an example. “She’s able to do much more sophisticated repairs than even Apple does,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of innovation that kind of starts at the grass-roots community. She’s hanging out on the online forums, starts tinkering, starts doing some of it on her own. And now she’s at the forefront of data recovery.”

Jones, who now owns her own corner repair shop in her hometown of Honeoye Falls, N.Y., hosts training courses to teach others how to extract vacation photos from a phone with water damage. She said that experts from well-known, well-established data recovery companies have shown up at her board repair course to learn her techniques.

Louis Rossmann, who owns a local electronic repair shop in Manhattan’s East Village, is another DIY fixer who turned his know-how into a small brick-and-mortar business. Rossmann, who didn’t go to college, has taught himself almost everything that he knows about electronics. His day typically consists of a flood of nearby New York University or New School students who have fried their computers and anxious that they won’t be able to access their notes or their thesis in time.

The Apple website is cagey in terms of what a fried motherboard would cost to repair, saying that it depends on the damage, but forums suggest around $750 to $1,000, not including shipping/handling. The cost is nearly the price of a new computer, and there’s no guarantee that the data will be saved.

Rossmann, who has been tinkering with computers for nine years, is able to repair the laptop and save the customer’s data for half the price. On his YouTube channel, which mixes detailed tutorials on device repair and motivational videos barked through a thick Staten Island accent, Rossmann advocates for right-to-repair laws.

“Think back to a time when the back panel of a television set had schematics and diagrams posted on it,” he said. “This was not thousands of years ago. This is how society was, but it was slowly taken away from us piece by piece over the last decade. This is important because we will eventually live in a world where everything is disposable if the precedent continues — where you do not own a device, you’re renting it until it breaks.”

In his videos, Rossmann focuses the camera on a motherboard, walking viewers step-by-step through the repairs. “I believe in the good that repair can do for society,” he said.


Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Oracle Corp filed a multibillion-dollar copyright lawsuit against Google because Oracle failed in its own attempts to enter the smartphone market, a Google attorney said in closing arguments on Monday.

The Oracle logo is seen on its campus in Redwood City, California June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The Oracle logo is seen on its campus in Redwood City, California June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

However, an Oracle attorney accused Google of taking its intellectual property without permission and reaping huge profits as a result.

In a retrial at US District Court in San Francisco, Oracle Corp has claimed Google’s Android smartphone operating system violated its copyright on parts of Java, a development platform. Alphabet Inc’s Google unit said it should be able to use Java without paying a fee under the fair-use provision of copyright law.

A trial in 2012 ended in a deadlocked jury, and if the current jury rules against Google on fair use, then it would consider Oracle’s request for about $9 billion in damages.

The case has been closely watched by software developers, who fear an Oracle victory could spur more software copyright lawsuits.

However, investors see little risk for Google because the company could afford to pay a onetime fine, and the possibility of an injunction that would force Google to pay ongoing royalties to Oracle appears remote.

In court on Monday, Google attorney Robert Van Nest played a video of a speech by Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison praising “our friends at Google” for building devices that use Java. Ellison then suggested Oracle should also build similar hardware.

But Oracle was never able to build a smartphone of its own, Van Nest said, so it decided to accuse Google of unfair copying instead.

“They now want all the credit and a whole lot of money,” Van Nest said. “That’s not fair.”

But Oracle attorney Peter Bicks said it was Google that needed a quick way to build a viable smartphone, and purposefully decided to use Java without a license.

Bicks presented internal Google documents, in which company executives contemplated being “out of business in 10 years” if they did not quickly enter the mobile market.

“They knew they were breaking the rules, they knew they were taking short cuts, and they knew it was wrong,” Bicks said.


Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Lots of people yell things at their televisions. Nowadays, however, it’s a lot more likely that your television is going to talk right back.



Amazon on Tuesday announced that it is adding new features to its voice-activated app, Alexa, as it works with its Fire TV set-top box empowering the assistant to start videos, search for particular movies or television shows. You can even look up local restaurants if you need dinner after your binge-watching session ate up your lunch.

The company said that those features and others such as being able to have Alexa read you your Kindle e-books through your Fire TV would come in the “coming weeks.” (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post.)

It’s also adding YouTube’s catalog of 4K content for streaming on the Fire TV.

Amazon’s clearly taking video more and more seriously over time, particularly with is recent announcement that it will take on Google’s YouTube by encouraging Amazon users to submit their own videos to its new Amazon Direct video platform.

But the retailing giant’s also got its eye on a much wider picture. This Alexa addition to the Fire TV actually pulls a few of the firm’s threads together its push into artificial intelligence through Alexa, its video expansion and its attempt to take a foothold in the smart home market. That sharpens a competition with two opponents, Google and Apple, which are also actively pursuing each of those areas.

None of them have woven it all together quite yet. A truly killer piece of hardware might have to successfully bring all three areas entertainment, smart appliances and voice control together, and make them compatible with a wide variety of products. Amazon’s Tuesday announcement, for example, didn’t include any mention of bringing Alexa’s smart-home control capabilities to Fire TV. Apple has meanwhile expanded its Apple TV set-top box to work with Siri and its own smart appliance operating system, HomeKit but there aren’t that many HomeKit compatible devices. Google is expected to go a slightly different route, by skipping the television (for now) and introducing an Amazon Echo-like speaker and voice-controlled home hub currently codenamed as “Chirp.”

Amazon’s latest announcement takes a tiny step forward for consumers looking to buy a Star Trek-esque voice-control system for their very own homes but, for most, it’s probably still not quite time to open those wallets.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Virtual reality specialist Oculus is trying to dazzle consumers by adding more entertainment and educational options to the Samsung Gear headset in hopes of transforming the technological curiosity into a cultural phenomenon.



The new selections announced Wednesday include “Nomads,” a three-dimensional video series from Felix & Paul Studios that examines wayfaring lifestyles in remote parts of the world. There’s also an upcoming video game called “Tactera” that requires players to plot a battlefield strategy on a holographic tabletop, and another 360-degree video called “6X9” providing a grim look of what it’s like to be stuck in a prison’s solitary confinement cell.
They join a menu of more than 250 apps designed for the Gear VR since its consumer model was released nearly six months ago. That’s a meager amount compared to the millions of apps available for the iPhone and devices running on the Android operating system.

Devices that build an arsenal of compelling apps usually are easier to sell to consumers. Programmers, though, put a lower priority on designing apps for devices until they have amassed a large audience.

(Also see: VR is Confusing, Isolating, and Incredibly Fun)

That hasn’t happened yet with the Gear, though Oculus says it is winning over fans faster than it anticipated when the headset hit the market just before last year’s holiday shopping season. About 1 million people used the Gear VR last month for an average of 25 minutes per day, according to Oculus. About 80 percent of that time was spent watching video.

Samsung designed the Gear for its most recent smartphones with the help of Oculus, a little-known startup until online social networking leader Facebook bought it for $2 billion two years ago to help introduce virtual reality to the masses.

“Oculus can help people experience anything, anywhere,” boasted Max Cohen, the company’s head of mobile. “We think this (technology) can actually change people’s lives.”

The concept of virtual reality, a technology that immerses people in an artificial world, has been around for years, but has never taken off.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is convinced it is destined to become technology’s next big breakthrough, and other influential trendsetters Google and Apple are now scrambling to catch up in the still-nascent field. Google is widely expected to unveil a virtual-reality device next week at its annual developers conference in the next step beyond its rudimentary product called “Cardboard” that works with smartphones.

The Gear was a forerunner to a more advanced virtual-reality headset called the Rift that costs $600 and requires a connection to a high-powered computer. The Rift began shipping nearly two months ago, although many buyers still haven’t received the headset yet because of delays that Oculus has blamed on parts shortages.

In contrast, users of the Gear only need a set of headphones and one of these Samsung phones: the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus or Note 5. As part of its attempt to make it easier to find stuff to watch and play on the Gear, Oculus plans to release a new version of its app for the device next month.

The Gear VR is turning into an assembly line of apps for the Rift. More than 20 of the games originally designed for the Gear are also compatible with the Rift.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.


Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Music streaming service Spotify has seen a faster pace of growth since the launch in June last year of rival Apple Music, a top executive said on Monday.



Spotify, which was created in Stockholm 10 years ago, now boasts of having close to 100 million users in more than 59 markets, despite increasing competition and, so far, a lack of profits.

“It’s great that Apple is in the game. They are definitely raising the profile of streaming. It is hard to build an industry on your own,” Jonathan Forster, a vice president and one of its first employees, told Reuters in an interview.

“Since Apple Music started we’ve been growing quicker and adding more users than before.”

“It would be terrible if we were just taking each other’s users or to learn there was just a ceiling of 100 million users – I don’t think that is the case,” said Forster, who had just returned to Stockholm from the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California.

Spotify now has 30 million paying users, making it the market leader in music streaming, while Apple Music has reported having 13 million paying subscribers since its launch last year in over 100 countries.

But the company is facing competition on more fronts than just Apple, from players such as Pandora Media Inc and newer rivals such as German start-up SoundCloud and US music producer and rapper Jay Z’s Tidal. Meanwhile Alphabet Inc’s Google is competing with both YouTube and Google Play Music.

Forster said having multiple streaming services was not sustainable in the long run.

“My Internet history would tell me that there’s probably not going to be that many significant players, and then maybe smaller niche cases … maybe there could be a classical music streaming service,” he said. “It’s a hard business.”

Asked about acquisition possibilities, Forster said future purchases would be on a similar scale to its recent deals in order to bring on new teams and technology.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spotify continue to invest in areas that are relevant or adjacent to our business,” he said.

Revenues will continue to come largely from subscriptions but Spotify will also hunt for other income in areas such as concerts, merchandising and video, though Forster was quick to add that the company was “not trying to be a Netflix”.

The company on Monday launched a new video offering which will include exclusive content, like short, behind-the-scenes videos of artists.

And Spotify has no intention of slowing its pace of expansion, having said in March that it had raised $1 billion in convertible debt from US firms TPG Capital and Dragoneer Investment Group.

Forster said that it was reassuring that the company’s conversion rate for turning new users of the advertising-based service into subscribers, had held up at 25 to 30 percent, despite its user growth.

“That should have a negative effect on the conversion rate but it hasn’t,” he said.

Asked whether Spotify could be an acquisition target for a larger technology company like Google or Facebook, Forster said: “I’ve always felt Spotify likes being Spotify. We have fought to get to where we are today and we are quite happy and it would be emotionally hard not to be us, but who knows?”

“I think that people have really woken up to the opportunity of streaming. We can see that it is just the beginning. We’ve never grown quicker than we have.”

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)