Author: Mike Magee

Micron snaps up rest of Inotera

Samsung DRAMUS memory maker Micron has bought the rest of Inotera, strengthening its position in the DRAM market.

Micron already owned a third of Inotera and it will pay $3.2 billion to buy a majority share.

The situation is a little complicated, according to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, because Formosa Group, which owns its own memory company Nanya, has 32 percent of the shares of Inotera.

But it’s understood that Formosa will vote in favour of the acquisition. At the same time, Micron said it has made a contract to give Nanya an option to license its new technology.

Micron already has a deal with Nanya to license its 20 nanometre technology.

All in all, this gives Micron a far stronger position in a market largely dominated by South Korean giants Samsung and Hynix. Earlier this year, Tsinghua – a mainland China state-backed comglomerate, made a failed bid to buy Micron..

Tsinghua targets two more chip firms

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsThe Chinese state backed company Tsinghua Unigroup wants to buy shares in two Taiwanese chip companies.

The two targets are Siliconware Precision Industry and ChipMOS – it wants to take 25 percent in each of these firms, with the first costing $1.7 billion and the ChipMOS share $347 million, according to Electronics Weekly.

Tsinghua already has a chunk of hard drive firm Western Digital and has attempted to buy US DRAM manufacturer Micron, as well as Taiwanese firms MediaTek and Powertech. The US and Taiwanese governments are believed to have put a spanner in the works for all these three.

According to Electronics Weekly, the Taiwanese government is unlukely to block the investments because they will be minority shares.

The Chinese government has pledged to grow its semiconductor industry over the next five years.

Apple faces more cyber attacks

Apple blossom, Mike MageeA report said that malware aimed at Apple devices has doubled this year, and will face further attacks in 2016.

The BBC reported that Symantec and FireEye are predicting that Apple will face increased threats in 2016.

The Apple operating system – OS X – is subject to way fewer attacks than Windows, Symantec said, but the number was seven times greater this year and last.

Attacks on Apple’s iOS operating system, used in iPads and iPhones is also increasing.

Apple notebooks have shown steady growth during 2015 while Windows notebook sales have been flat.

That may be the reason for hackers taking time to devise methods involving Apple users.

Alibaba buys newspaper

Aubrey Beardsley's Ali BabaAsian giant Alibaba said it has bought the South China Morning Post and the other media assets it owns.

The reason for the acquisition is because it can use the editorial team to provide reading for people in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba said he has a vision – to expand the newspaper’s readership globally through digital distribution and easier access to content.

Alibaba didn’t say how much it would pay for the assets of the newspaper, which include Hong Kong editions of Esquire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, The Peak, and Harper’s Bazaar.

The CEO of the newspaper group, Robin Hu, said he expected Alibaba to put more money into the titles.

Solar panels set to become cheaper

Solar farm in Arizona - Wikimedia CommonsInstallations of photo voltaic systems rocketed in 2015 amounting to a 20 percent year on year growth.

But, warns Trendforce division EnergyTrend, next year is only likely to see an 11 percent upturn.

Installed capacity for 2015 amounted to 53GW, and will top out at 59GW in 2016.

EnergyTrend analyst Patrick Lin estimates that there will be strong growth up to next October, as there’s a rush to install PV panels in the USA. China, Japan and the US will account for as much as 61 percent next year.

Solar spread 2015

But, said Lin, manufacturers are headed for “massive” capacity expansion and he fears that may the hurt the industry.

But it is also likely to make panels cheaper.

Lie detecting software pretty much works

GavelResearchers at the University of Michigan claim that lie detecting software they developed is pretty efficient.

A prototype the scientists have built looks at peoples’ words and gestures and doesn’t need to be wired to a person.

The University of Michigan claims that the software was up to 75 percent accurate, using real word data.

The researchers said there are characteristics that show when people are fibbing. They tend to move their hands more, attempt to sound more certain and look their questioners in the eye in an attempt to convince them they’re telling the truth.

The software uses machine learning techniques trained on 120 video clips from coverage of actual trials. The videos include testimony from defendants and witnesses and then compared their results with trial verdicts.

Facebook readies business version

FacebookFacebook is close to launching its professional version of Facebook – Facebook at Work (FaW).

That’s according to Reuters, which spoke to a Facebook executive who said that the “professional” version will look very much like Facebook Ordinaire.

Which prompts the question of why Facebook wants to have a professional version, seeing as practically every company on the world has now got its own FB page.

Apparently FaW will have better security, and will have different profiles for “professionals”.

FaW will find itself competing against Linkedin but apparently a number of companies including the Royal Bank of Scotland and Heineken are beta testing it, Reuters added.

Component makers fined for price cartels

Taiwan scene - pic Mike MageeThe Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission (FTC) fined 10 manufacturers making aluminium and tantalum capacitors for fixing prices between themselves.

The FTC doled out fines amounting to $175.5 million after it found the companies had been colluding on pricing.

According to the Taipei Times, the FTC, in collaboration with international antitrust authorities, started the investigation last year and procured evidence showing the firms had broken laws between 2005 and January last year.

Some companies owned up to their misdeeds in order to get a lighter fine.

The companies are Nippon Chemi-Con, Rubycon, Sanyo, Nichicon, NEC Tokin, Matsuo Electric and Vishay Polyptych.

Internet of things to become a trillion dollar business

internet of thingsAsia Pacific will lead the drive to widespread adoption of the internet of things (IoT), with a report estimated that spending will hit $1.3 trillion in 2019.

IDC said that represents a CAGR of 17 percent, with worldwide spending accounting for a not insignificant $698.6 billion this year.

Over 40 percent of the spend comes from Asia Pacific, followed by North America and Western Europe.

Part of the reason Asia Pacific is so buoyant is because in some countries IT infrastructure isn’t fully developed, meaning it’s easier to implement IoT technology.

Manufacturing and transportation represented the biggest spenders of IoT tech, with totals of $165.6 billion and $78.7 billion respectively.

Other sectors rapidly implementing the tech are insurance, healthcare and domestic implements, IDC said.

EU proposes cross-border portability

European flagThe European Commission has made a set of proposals that would allow European Union citizens to use online subscriptions wherever they travel in the bloc.

The proposals, which would have to be voted on by the European Parliament would let people use their online subscriptions such as films, music and e-books they’ve legally bought.

As examples, the Commission said that a French user of the MyTFI film service can’t rent a new film if she or he is in the UK, while a subscriber trying to use his HBO from Scandinavia gets a message in Italy saying the service is not availale.

Savvy people generally use VPNs to access content across borders, and a recent study suggests 20 percent of the people surveyed do just that.

The EU believes that its proposals won’t make subscriptions more expensive and will encourage more revenues for the creative sector.