Category: Business

Verizon thinking of buying Yahoo

marissa_new4The dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that the US telco Verizon is thinking of buying the very troubled search outfit Yahoo.

Verizon wrote a cheque for the supplier of beer mats during the 90s AOL last year and according to Bloomberg, the wireless telecom giant has tasked AOL CEO Tim Armstrong with figuring out how to buy Yahoo.

Yahoo is currently working out how to spin off its core businesses and keep the original company as a holding entity for the Alibaba shares. The company explained that the tax climate for spinning off Alibaba holdings was simply unfavourable for investors.

CEO Marissa Mayer also noted that the move would give more “transparency” to the operations of Yahoo’s core businesses, and analysts believed that implied Yahoo would be selling itself off bit by bit.

Verizon’s huge user base and mobile video ads would likely bring in quite a lot of revenue if it bought the company. It also needs to get its feet under the table of the online video scene.

Apple sued for creating bricks in its wall

pink-floyd-the-wall-alan-parkerThe fruity cargo cult Apple is facing a class action for bricking the phones of naughty users who dared not to use its genii to repair their phones.

Apple issued an update which bricked iPhone 6 devices that have been repaired by third parties. The so-called “Error 53” problem appeared after an iOS software update and seemed to affect devices with replaced or damaged home buttons and Touch ID sensors.

Basically this means that anyone dumb enough to buy an iPhone 6 but shrewd enough to realise that it did not have to be repaired by Apple is facing an expensive problem. They have to get their phone re-repaired by Apple for the original fault and the one that Jobs’ Mob created.

Apple claims that it has done no such thing and the error is the result of a “security feature.” The iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor matches your device’s other components during an update or restore. This check keeps your device and the iOS features related to Touch ID secure.”

We are not sure if they ran that particular excuse through the common sense department of the company for checking. Why would Touch ID need to do that?

The idea is similar to one which Microsoft uses to check that you are not installing multiple copies of Windows onto your PC and with a similar but less drastic result. To say that Apple was unware that this would be the result of its “security feature” suggests that either its software people are so stupid that they did not know that would happen, or the company was trying to weed out those who had “unauthorised components”.

PCVA, the Seattle-based law firm considering a class action lawsuit thinks the latter. On its website it said: “We believe that Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third-party repair shops.”

Foxconn buying Sharp for $5 billion

sharp2Foxconn is now only awaiting finalised details between the two parties, before buying the troubled Japanese display maker Sharp.

Foxconn’s lead zookeeper CEO Terry Gou said Foxconn has been given preferred negotiating rights, and is aiming to lock up a deal by the end of February.

The two companies are said to have reached a consensus on most matters, with what’s remaining being mostly legal and regulatory issues.

“The rest is a process…I don’t see a problem completing this process,” Gou said.

Sharp’s CEO Kozo Takahashi had previously denied that his company had given Foxconn exclusive negotiating rights. It’s not clear what changed to sway the situation.

Foxconn’s bid is believed to be worth at least $5 billion twice what the Japanese government was offering.

The Tame Apple Press thinks that if the Sharp deal is completed, it should further strengthen Foxconn’s links with Apple, giving it the ability to not just assemble Apple products like the iPhone but manufacture displays too. However it is unlikely that Foxconn would want to depend much more on Apple’s slowly failing business, it is more likely that it wants to take a bigger slice of smartphone and other mobile gadget production.

Software portal sued over bad review

fef78e0cc21705723179c3a85d917f2bBleeping Computer has been sued by Enigma Software Group after posting a bad review of their core product SpyHunter in 2014.

Enigma Software claims the review was false, disparaging, and defamatory. A court case is going to be interesting the review provides links to support each claim. What Enigma seems to be hoping is that the jury will be influenced by the fact that Bleeping Computer participates in a number of affiliate programs, including run by its sworn rival Malwarebytes.

The lawsuit says, “Bleeping has a direct financial interest in driving traffic and sales to Malwarebytes and driving traffic and sales away from ESG.”

“Bleeping not only has unlawfully benefited from its spear campaign to the detriment of ESG, it has damaged the reputation of ESG by refusing to take down its false and misleading statements which have been reposted numerous times on the other anti-spyware related forums and websites.”

Bleeping Computer use affiliate links for a number of vendors, not just Malwarebytes. Then there is the small matter that Enigma Software and SpyHunter has a poor reputation because of its spam and er questionable detection rates.

One of the more common complaints about SpyHunter and Enigma Software is that the product is promoted as free, when it really isn’t.

Its free version offers a scanner but if you want the malware removed you have to pay for the full version.

In a statement on Bleeping Computer, owner Lawrence Abrams, says the Enigma Software lawsuit is a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) suit.

“Enigma Software has a history of filing lawsuits to censor and bully people into removing reviews or opinions about their products… If BleepingComputer does not get the help we need and we lose this battle, it will only embolden Enigma Software to try to silence other bloggers, IT technicians, or computer security enthusiasts.”

Bleeping Computer has started a fund to gather donations for their legal costs, one of the first donations made came from Malwarebytes, which sent $5,000 shortly after the campaign started which though helpful financially probably is not that useful tactically.

Trouble at Github

beardieThere is trouble in weirdy beardy land as the $2 billion startup GitHub is suffering from a brain drain because its top beardies don’t like their king.

Business Insider has been attempting to get the inside trouser measurement of the drama. So far 10 executives have cleaned out their desks and taken their action figures and amine posters home.

The problem appears to be that the King Beardy Cofounder CEO Chris Wanstrath (pictured), with support from the board, is radically changing the company’s culture.

In the old days there was a flat structure based purely on meritocracy and now Wanstrath has bought in supervisors and middle managers. He has abandoned the remote-employee culture and forced senior managers to report to the office.

Some longer-term employees feel like there’s a “culture of fear” where people who don’t support all the changes are being ousted.

Kakul Srivastava, vice president of programme management said that Github was getting bigger and it needed to build a new kind of Enterprise Company where the playbooks of old won’t always work.

riVnhnsiSrivastava (left) is a former Yahoo and Flickr exec and is part of Wanstrath’s management team. She joined GitHub in July to revamp its products and she also does not even have a beard.

Wanstrath became CEO in 2014 after GitHub was embroiled in a sexual-harassment scandal by a female employee who quit. GitHub’s own internal investigation determined that no sexual harassment took place, but said there were other leadership issues going on.

Now he is trying to overhaul Github, with full support from the venture capitalists who backed the company.

Foxconn wants to take the Sharp end

sharp2Foxconn Chief Executive Terry “The Zookeeper” Gou is in Osaka to meet executives of Japan’s Sharp.

The move comes a day after Sharp said it was focusing on the Taiwan firm’s takeover bid over a rival offer from a Japanese state-backed fund.

Foxconn wants to invest $5.6 billion in Sharp and Sharp’s board had voted 13-0 to negotiate with Foxconn instead of the state-backed Japanese fund, the Innovation Network Corp of Japan.

No one is saying anything until Gou addresses the media in a coming press conference.

A takeover by Foxconn, which assembles various electronics products such as smartphones and television sets for Apple, Sony Corp and many other major international companies, would vastly expand sales channels for Sharp’s liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.

While a generous Foxconn offer had been predicted, many investors in Japan were surprised to see an overseas firm gain the upper hand over a state fund.

The decision comes after months of uncertainty over the fate of the company, whose display panel business has continued to suffer massive losses despite two major bailouts by its banks in the last four years.

EU allows Sandisk takeover

Sandisk extreme SSDsWestern Digital’s takeover  of Sandisk has been given the thumbs up by the European Union.

Despite fears that the Western Digital buyout might make it a little too powerful, the European Commission concluded that the takeover would not harm competition in the data storage market in Europe.

In October, Western Digital agreed to buy Sandisk in a $19 billion deal that will increase its ability to make flash memory storage chips used in smartphones and tablets.

The deal was announced in October. that Western Digital had announced plans buy chip maker Sandisk for around $19 billion. Flash specialist Sandisk is ranked by IDC as the largest manufacturer of NAND flash memory chips. The market for NAND flash chips was worth $28.9 billion in 2014, according to IDC.

The Commission found that the only overlap between the activities of the hard disk manufacturers is in selling flash memory storage systems and solid-state drives to the enterprise market. In this case, the effects of the merger on competition will be minimal, it has ruled, despite their relatively high combined market share. The presence of Intel, Toshiba, Micron and Samsung in the same market will exert sufficient competitive pressure to prevent the creation of a Western Digital hegemony, the European Commission has ruled.

The Commission also looked at the vertical link between Sandisk’s production of flash memory and the downstream markets for enterprise flash memory storage systems. With flash memory an essential component of solid state drives and other flash memory storage systems the EC investigators have researched whether Western Digital will be in a position to block competitors from access to flash memory.

It also studied the likelihood that competing producers of flash memory might find themselves with an unsustainable customer base. However, SanDisk’s presence on the upstream flash memory market was judged as ‘limited’ and the presence of several active competitors makes this a manageable risk.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said in a statement that she was pleased that the Commission had been able to ensure that this multi-billion dollar deal in a fast-developing industry can go ahead without delay.


Intel ready to sacrifice power for energy efficiency

Intel's Gordon Moore and Robert NoyceChipzilla is ready to embrace alternatives to the speed at all cost ethos which has made it so successful.

William Holt, who leads the company’s technology and manufacturing group, said this week that for chips to keep improving, Intel will soon have to start using fundamentally new technologies.

Holt pointed to two possible candidates – tunnelling transistors and spintronics. Both would require big changes in how chips are designed and manufactured, and would likely be used alongside silicon transistors.

What is important is that the technology will not offer speed benefits over silicon transistors and chips may stop getting faster. The new tech would improve the energy efficiency of chips, something important for many leading uses of computing today, such as cloud computing, mobile devices, and robotics.

“We’re going to see major transitions,” said Holt, speaking at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. “The new technology will be fundamentally different.”

Holt said that the status quo can only continue for two more generations, just four or five years, by which time silicon transistors will be only seven nanometres in size.

Tunnelling transistors are far from commercialization, although DARPA and industry consortium Semiconductor Research Corporation are funding research on the devices. They take advantage of quantum mechanical properties of electrons that harm the performance of conventional transistors and that have become more problematic as transistors have got smaller.

Spintronic devices are doable and could hit the market next year. They represent digital bits by switching between two different states encoded into a quantum mechanical property of particles such as electrons known as spin.

Spintronics will appear in some low-power memory chips in the next year or so, perhaps in high-powered graphics cards.

For example, Toshiba announced last year that it had developed an experimental spintronic memory array that consumed 80 percent less power than SRAM, a type of high-speed memory.

Holt claimed that continued gains in energy efficiency, not raw computing power, are most important for the things asked of computers today.

“Particularly as we look at the Internet of things, the focus will move from speed improvements to dramatic reductions in power,” Holt said. Power is a problem across the computing spectrum. The carbon footprint of data centres operated by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies is growing at an alarming rate. And the chips needed to connect many more household, commercial, and industrial objects from toasters to cars to the Internet will need to draw as little power as possible to be viable,” he said.

Google kills popular ad-blocking app

stalin-googleSearch engine outfit Google has pulled a popular ad-blocking app from its Google Store claiming that it violates developer guidelines.

Called Adblock Fast, the plug-in from startup Rocketship Apps worked within Samsung’s mobile browser thanks to a partnership with the phone maker, which opened an API this week allowing third-party developers to build content blocking features for the preinstalled Samsung Internet app.

According to Rocketship developer Brian Kennish, Google says Adblock Fast violates section 4.4 of of its Developer Distribution Agreement, which disallows apps or plugins offered through the Play Store from “interfering” or “disrupting” devices, networks, or services of third parties. In this case it would appear the network involved is Google’s advertising network.

It seems that since the removal of Adblock Fast, two other Android ad blocking plug-ins working with Samsung’s browser have sprouted up: Crystal, the popular iOS ad blocker, and Adblock Plus. It’s unclear if Google simply hasn’t caught on to the competitors, or if Rocketship did something specifically to violate the Play Store guidelines.

Adblock Plus tried in 2013 to put out an Android ad blocker only to run into a similar issue, and the company was only recently allowed to distribute its app again, by bundling it within the company’s own browser.

Firefox allows ad blockers to be installed on its Android browser as plug-ins, but only through the browser itself. Samsung could similarly distribute Adblock Fast through its own preloaded app store on Galaxy devices.


Cisco buys the stairway to internet-of-things heaven

the Cisco kidIn a bid to get into the internet based cars and medical devices market, Cisco has written a $1.4 billion cheque to buy a start-up called Jasper.

Jasper makes a software platform that helps monitor these devices once they are online.

Rob Salvagno, Cisco’s vice president of corporate development, said that the Internet of Things has been a priority for Cisco for the past few years.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on this market and what we noticed was that Jasper represented a unique asset. We believe they are the largest Internet of Things service platform of scale today,” he said.

Cisco, has bought dozens of smaller companies over the years, is shifting its business toward high-end switches and routers and investing in new products such as data analytics software and cloud-based tools for data centres.

Jasper is the largest deal for Cisco since it acquired security company Sourcefire for $2.7 billion in 2013.

Jasper was close to having an IPO. Jasper’s chief executive, Jahangir Mohammed, will stay on with

Cisco and run a new Internet of Things Software Business unit once the deal closes in the third quarter.

Cisco will have to complete with IBM, General Electric and Microsoft.