Author: Mike Magee

Apple takes swipe at UK plans

Old Apple logo - Wikimedia CommonsA bill proposed by the UK government has come under attack from Apple which believes will compromise peoples’ personal security.

Theresa May, at the Home Office, has proposed that additional online powers were required including a plan to track which websites people have visited.

But Apple said the Investigatory Powers Bill is an attack on individuals’ freedoms.

Apple said in a submission to a parliamentary committee that it considers that the plans will weaken security for the majority of law abiding people.

Microsoft has also weighted into the debate amidst fears that non UK firms will be made to compromise existing US laws.

Apple argues against so-called “back doors” that could be used by crooks and terrorists as well as government departments.

Toshiba to axe 7,000 peoples’ jobs

ToshibaThe long awaited restructuring of Toshiba will put at least 7,000 people out of work, it has emerged.

Toshiba will sell off its TV business, can its PC notebook business and streamline itself by concentrating on making semiconductors and working on nuclear energy.

Toshiba found itself in a $1.3 billion accounting mess and the new management has been forced to make drastic changes.

Toshiba has been in notebook PCs since the very beginning but while it used to be one of the top notebook manufacturers, that position has dwindled over the years.

Earlier this year an independent committee concluded that Toshiba was dysfunctional and treated its employees badly.

The job cuts will be implemented in stages.

Ericsson and Apple kiss and make up

apple queueSwedish firm Ericsson and US firm Apple have ended a dispute after the former accused the latter of breaching its patents.

Ericsson had alleged that Apple breached patents on iPads and iPhones for 2G and 4G connectivity.

Apple hasn’t said how much it has paid Ericsson to stop suing it but will pay an initial amount and then pay it royalties for the next seven years.

Ericsson said it was very pleased that the niggles had come to an end and will work closely with Apple to develop new technologies.

Ericsson took legal action in Apple in several countries and, as usual, Apple retailiated by suing Ericsson.

That’s how these sort of disputes work in the technology industry, with lawyers doing particularly well out of the bickering.

Financial services spent a bundle on new technology

Clouds over the Old Power Station, OxfordA report by market research firm IDC said financial services giants spent around $114 billion on big data, analytics, cloud computing and mobility this year.

IDC describes this market as the “third platform” and said the four pillars of this temple are mobility, cloud, big data and analytics, and social business.

Karen Massey, a senior research analyst at IDC, said these four elements have “caused a fundamental shift in how financial services are consuming and budgeting for IT and applications”.

Mobility includes hardware like smartphones and tablets;mobile software; and mobile services.

Cloud includes software as a service (SaaS); Platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Big data and analytics is important to financial service companies because it helps to optimise business, improves compliance and “engages customers by using data driven deision making”.

DRAM prices will continue to free fall

Samsung DRAMMarket research company Trendforce predicted that prices of DRAM will keep falling in 2016.

Trendforce believes that the DRAM market is an oligopoly and because of this DRAM manufacturers can stay profitable even though they’re continuing to make too many modules.

Avril Wu, a research director at Trendforce, said that demand and supply bit growth rates will be 23 percent and 25 percent respectively.

Average prices will drop and growth will depend on manufacturers shifting their production towards 20 nanometre processes.

SK Hynix and Micron will move to that process next year – Samsung is already producing modules based on that technology.

Wi said that DDR4 will replace DDR3 – that’s already happened in the server market but will shift to new PCs and notebooks next year.

China is attempting to become a player in the DRAM market but the “oligopoly” of Micron, SX Hynix and Samsung will let them maintain their grip on the market.

Blackberry makes smaller loss

BlackberryCanadian firm Blackberry made a smaller loss in its financial third quarter than many people expected.

That’s sent its shares rising by six percent on Wall Street, so far.

Blackberry turned in a loss of $89 million, compared with the same quarter last year when it turned in a loss of $148 million.

While its revenues fell 31 percent compared to the same quarter last year, sales were up 12 percent compared to its second financial quarter.

The company has been focusing on software revenues and that grew to $162 million in the quarter.

Blackberry, formerly the corporate favourite for smartphones, recently released an Android phone called the Priv.

Samsung’s still the smartphone leader

SamsungA market research company said that over 331 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter of this year.

Digitimes Research (DR) said that Samsung accounted for 25.6 percent of the systems, followed by Apple (14.5%), Huawei (7.4%), Lenovo (4.8%), LG (4.5%), Xiaomi (3.8%) followed by a number of other brands.

DR said that the top 15 vendors accounted for 81.4 percent of total shipments with nine Chinese companies in that league.

DR estimates that smartphone shipments in the current quarter will total 396.8 million handsets – meaning that total shipments this year will be 1.326 billion units – a rise of over 10 percent compared to 2014.

Microsoft to set up Chinese joint venture

Windows 10Software king of the castle Microsoft, said it will set up a joint venture with China Electronics Technology Group (CETC).

The two companies already have a relationship with each other but the new joint venture will license and provide technical support for Microsoft Windows 10.

Microsoft has had some local difficulties in China with its operating systems and CETC will give the Seattle company a boost to penetrate the market with legal copies of its operating system.

CETC will supply Windows 10 in a local version not only to businesses and to individuals, but also for military use.

According to Yusuf Mehdi, a senior Microsoft executive, the joint venture needs regulatory support.

Called C&M Information Technologies, the outfit will collect feedback from government customers to guide it in updates to government Window 10 image.

USA invests big time in solar and wind power

David-Cameron-at-the-EU-s-007While the UK appears to be doing a backpedal on the use of solar and wind technology, the USA has extended tax credits for another five years.

The extension means that an additional 20 gigawatts of solar energy will be supported, according to Bloomberg, which estimates that the deal will provide over $73 billion investment and electricity supply to eight million US homes.

The USA is already one of the biggest investors in clean energy and Bloomberg estimates that the size of the investment means further reduction in costs.

British prime minister David Cameron, who once touted himself as the UK’s “greenest” politician and even had an electricity generation system on his roof, is expected to dramatically slash feed back tariffs in the New Year.

Currently there’s an oversupply of photovoltaic panels which is expected to continue into next year.

Hon Hai joins internet of things bandwagon

Robby the Robot - Wikimedia CommonsGiant Asian manufacturer Hon Hai’s chairman has said that the company is to turn its gaze on the internet of things (IoT).

And he also told Chinese media that industrial robots are the key to the future.

The Taipei Times quotes Terry Gou as saying that Hon Hai will cooperate with Alibaba and Japanese company Softbank to offer “robotic services”.

Gou doesn’t think that these industrial robots will replace people any time real soon. Hon Hai is a major employer in mainland China, and makes Apple products and others.

It has already installed 48,000 industrial robotic arms in its factories.

Soft bank’s famous Pepper robot was made by Hon Hai and sold out in minutes when it was launched last June.