Google opens up Android in Russia

Google will open up Android  to Russian rival search engines as part of a deal to settle a two year dispute with Russian competition authorities.

The deal sets a new precedent for the tech giant, which faces multiple complaints worldwide that it is abusing its dominant position by imposing restrictions on manufacturers of Android-based devices in order to protect its share of the online search market.

Russia’s competition watchdog, FAS, ruled in 2015 that Google was breaking the law by requiring the pre-installation of applications, including its own search tool, on mobile devices using Android, following a complaint by Russia’s Yandex.

Google will no longer demand exclusivity of its applications on Android-based devices in Russia and will not restrict the pre-installation of rival search engines and other applications, as part of a deal with FAS, the regulator said on Monday.

It will also develop a tool allowing users to choose a default search engine on their Android devices.

“Users will be able to change settings at any time and choose the default search engine which suits their needs,” FAS said.

Google confirmed the deal, saying it met the interests of all parties. It also said it had reached a commercial agreement with Yandex that “provides new opportunities for Yandex to promote its search service within Chrome”.

The deal is for a term of six years and nine months and  Google will  have to pay $7.85 million in fines.

Another buyer is kicking Toshiba’s tyres

The state-backed fund Innovation Network of Japan is looking at the auction of Toshiba’s chip unit.

NCJ Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga said the outfit said that it did not participate in first-round bidding, but according to Reuters it might seek to invest in the business as a minority partner.

This is all part of a plan to help the government blocking a sale to bidders it deems risky to national security.

INCJ has confirmed it has set up a team to look at publicly available information regarding the deal but is not conducting due diligence and that it would be unable to bid by itself.

The auction of Toshiba’s prized chips asset is essential to the company’s plans to cover multi-billion dollar write-downs at its US nuclear unit Westinghouse.

Toshiba has narrowed the field of bidders for its chip unit to four suitors, Broadcom partnered with private equity firm Silver Lake; SK Hynix; Western Digital and Foxconn.

Broadcom has put in the highest first-round offer of $23 billion and Taiwan’s Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer, offered $18.37 billion.

Intel IDF is No More

Intel has decided to end its annual Intel Developer Forum, including IDF 17 expected in August this year.

Intel posted the following on its webpage;

“Intel has evolved its event portfolio and decided to retire the IDF program moving forward. Thank you for nearly 20 great years with the Intel Developer Forum! Intel has a number of resources available on intel.com, including a Resource and Design Center with documentation, software, and tools for designers, engineers, and developers. As always, our customers, partners, and developers should reach out to their Intel representative with questions.”

Intel announced earlier that it would not be sponsoring an IDF event in China this year. It was still expected in the US with a “new format”.  Prior to today’s announcement, Intel’s IDF page stated:

“We are making changes to the Intel Developer Forum. This fall the event in San Francisco will have a new format and we will not be hosting an event in China. More details to come soon.”

It added to “keep checking this page in the middle of March for updates”.  No update was made in the middle of March, in fact, “keep checking this page” disappeared with today’s announcement permanently cancelling IDF.

IDF was nearly 20 years old and had its origins in the early 1990s as a quarterly update as a service to its PC customers run by sales staff until 1995 when Intel Corporate decided to pick up the venue as an annual industry wide event.

Intel’s business has grown into separate and distinct segments whose management felt that IDF no longer served them as a direct means of communicating their message. The rise of AI, FPGAs, Optane, automotive, IoT, and wireless communications diminished the delivery of any direct message emanating from any one group.

Intel is now deciding how to find new ways of disseminating information to their respective audiences (media, developers and customers). How the company works through this process is still to be determined.

TechEye Take

The fact that Intel’s Data Center Group was not happy over the amount of support it provided to other disparate groups at Intel has been an open secret for a least the last couple of years. It is somewhat of a surprise that the separation did not occur sooner.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that much of what made up IDF is considered to be necessary for the industry financial and strategic technology analysts to understand the company’s Data Center Group’s direction in the Enterprise and Cloud Market segments. But that’s Diane Bryant’s problem now.

What is not clear is what Intel has planned to replace something that was working but not in all the right ways to satisfy certain marketing types in messaging their customers, their investors and the industry at large. Now the entire world+dog is left in the lurch of the wonder gap of what will happen next…,

Woz predicts dystopian future with Apple still there

The founder of Apple is predicting a dystopian future where Jobs’ Mob, Google and Facebook rule a world which lives in deserts.

The theme of next weekend’s Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC), “The Future of Humanity: Where Will We Be in 2075?” Woz, who predicted the rise of portable laptops said that in 58 years, Apple will be still around.

“Apple will be around a long time, like IBM (which was founded in 1911). Look at Apple’s cash ($246.1 billion, as of the end of its last fiscal quarter). It can invest in anything. It would be ridiculous to not expect them to be around (in 2075). The same goes for Google and Facebook.”

Other areas will not be great either. There will be new cities in deserts which could be ideal locations for cities of the future, designed and built from scratch. People will shuttle among domed structures. Special wearable suits will allow people to venture outside, he said.

AI will be ubiquitous, Wozniak says. Like a scene straight from the movie Minority Report, consumers will interact with smart walls and other surfaces to shop, communicate and be entertained. Medical devices will enable self-diagnosis and doctor-free prescriptions, he says. “The question will be ethical, on whether we can eliminate the need for physicians,” he says.

Woz is convinced a colony will exist on the Red Planet. Echoing the sentiments of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose Blue Origin start-up has designs on traveling to Mars, Wozniak envisions Earth zoned for residential use and Mars for heavy industry.

Wozniak says there is a “random chance” that Earthlings will communicate with another race. “It’s worth trying,” he says, “but I don’t have high hopes”.

Headless AI bots making huge leaps in productivity

The CTO of Textio claims that AI is already disrupting life and no one has noticed.

Jensen Harris said that voice-activated assistants are “just one small part of what AI is about – and not the part that will matter the most for the enterprise companies that actually buy almost $4 trillion in software and services each year”.

Harris said that the “the less-flashy flavour” of AI that is changing the nature of work itself.

Headless AI which is the application of artificial intelligence to vastly improve internal business processes is transforming the crucial machinery of business.

“Processes like hiring, lead generation, financial modelling, and information security. Legacy software has become a commodity in these areas, and purpose-built AI solutions will get a larger and larger wallet share of these huge enterprise cost centres,” Harris said.

Combining machine intelligence with learning loops, these constantly-evolving algorithms are “where the money is.”

Headless AI “doesn’t try to replace people; it gives them superpowers” — for example, predicting the future.

Harris said Headless AI is delivering radical productivity leaps that they haven’t seen from software in decades.

In the near future, AI will have transformed every core business function — hiring, sales, security, marketing, finance, manufacturing.

“Legacy software will get squeezed down into a smaller portion of the IT wallet as the most valuable services become the native AI platforms — just as form-based desktop software got squeezed out by the cloud in the last generation… the real enterprise revolution is happening in the companies that are using headless AI to transform their core businesses.”

Oracle forced to pay back taxes

Multinational tech giant Oracle has been charged $293 million for corporate tax evasion in South Korea.

The $293 million charge is made up of back taxes, as well as a punitive charge from the government tax agency.

Oracle was told of the tax debt in January last year, when the National Tax Service charged Oracle with evasion of corporate tax payments from 2008-2014.

The outfit was accused of funnelling revenues to Ireland to avoid paying taxes in South Korea. In an audit of the company’s books, the tax authority found that Oracle had channelled profits generated in South Korea to an Irish subsidiary.

It was found that those funds profited the company’s headquarters in the United States.

Because of this, the NTS figured out that Oracle should have paid taxes on profits generated in South Korea to the South Korean government.

 

EFF sues Aussie patent troll

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has sued an Australian patent troll which it previously awarded the  “Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer.”

Last year Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove the post, but the EFF told the court to sod off.

In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still did not comply.

Instead it filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, and asks that the American court declare the Australian ruling unenforceable in the US, because the Australian ruling runs afoul of free speech protections granted under the United States Constitution.

GEMSA attorneys have threatened to take this Australian court order to American search engine companies to deindex the blog post, making the post harder to find online.

The EFF’s Stupid Patent of the Month campaign began back in August of 2014.  GEMSA won the title with US Patent No. 6,690,400 (the ’400 patent), claims the idea of using “virtual cabinets” to graphically represent data storage and organisation.

GEMSA is incorporated in Australia and appears to have no business other than patent litigation. The patent began its life with a company called Flash VOS. This company once offered a product that allowed users to run multiple operating systems on personal computers with x86-compatible processors.

In the past year, GEMSA has sued dozens of companies, ranging from Airbnb to Zillow. In each case, it makes the assertion that the defendant’s website infringes the ’400 patent. For example, it simply states that “AIRBNB maintains, controls and/or operates a website with a graphical user interface (“GUI”) at www.airbnb.com that infringes one or more claims of the ‘400 patent”.

In his initial letter to EFF dated August 26, 2016, Mehr dubbed the blog post as “defamatory, false, and malicious slander”.

By October 2016, GEMSA’s director, Schumann Rafizadeh said that if the article was not immediately removed from EFF.ORG, and the defendant otherwise publishes or broadcasts the statements, GEMSA will sustain irreparable damage to its reputation and credibility.

The article’s continued publication and circulation through various common web search engines and other such websites is continuing to damage the reputation and credibility of GEMSA, which it critically relies upon for its negotiations and ongoing discussions for the licensing arrangements and our Intellectual Property (IP), including the referenced patent.

In other words ,if EFF says it is just a patent troll it might make it harder to squeeze money from other companies. Indeed, in a second affidavit, Rafizadeh admitted that its business and legal tactics were meeting some resistance for the first time. US Defendants have joined and instated two lnterparte Proceedings against GEMSA in the United States.

As EFF has made no appearance before an Australian court, GEMSA was likely able to be granted the default judgement against the organization—the removal of the purportedly offending blog post. Six months later, the EFF post remains.

Samsung Galaxy S8 pre-orders eclipse S7

Despite outright threats from the Tame Apple Press which imply that the S8 will catch fire like the S7, Samsung says that pre-orders for the S8 have eclipsed the S7.

Apple’s favourite news agency Reuters whinged that the news meant that users did not seem to fear that S8 would catch fire. Given that none of the other Galaxy phones caught fire it does seem rather unlikely. Apple also has reasons for wanting its rival buried, the S8 looks to be far superior than anything that Jobs Mob has now, or has planned.

Mobile business chief Koh Dong-jin said the S8, which begin sales in South Korea, the United States and Canada on April 21. The new device has been well-received, and some investors and analysts said it could set a first-year sales record for the smartphone giant.

“It’s still a bit early, but initial response to the pre-orders that have begun at various places across the world have been better than expected,” Koh said at a media briefing.

The S8 will be the safest Galaxy smartphone to date due to safety measures implemented to avoid the battery failures that caused some Note 7s to spontaneously combust, he said.

Analysts expect Samsung to record its best-ever quarterly profit in April-June, buoyed by strong S8 sales and a memory chip market boom that is widely expected to deliver record revenue for the industry this year.

The new device, equipped with either 5.8-inch or 6.2-inch (14.73 cm or 15.75 cm) curved screens, sports the largest screens to date among all of Samsung’s flagship phones due to a redesign.

Koh also said the firm plans to use the S8 to try to recover in China, where Samsung has been out of the top five vendors in recent years due to heightened competition from local rivals such as Huawei.

Investors fear Samsung might be over stretching itself

While Samsung is set to deliver huge profits this year, some investors are already starting to fret the tech giant will soon become a victim of its own success.

The outfit has a market capitalisation of $293 billion and is Asia’s most valuable company. Its shares have jumped 60 percent since end-2015, hitting a record high in late March.

Wall Street analysts are predicting that high chip prices continuing at least through to the end of this year, and the launch of a new flagship smartphone this month reviving its mobile business after last year’s Galaxy Note 7 fires.

But shareholders are less excited than they should be. The Stock is only up three percent since April and some investors are questioning the company’s long-term growth potential and whether it can maintain the double-digit profit growth expected this year.

Samsung’s operating profit is expected to grow just 5.5 percent next year compared to 61 percent in 2017, according to the average forecast from a Thomson Reuters survey of 16 analysts.

This is because most of Samsung’s growth has been the booming memory chip market, with prices for both DRAM and NAND chips soaring. Researcher IHS expects 2017 memory industry revenues to leap 32 percent to a record $104 billion this year.

But this growth will not be repeated, analysts say, with more production capacity coming online to alleviate the bottleneck. IHS projects 2018 memory industry revenue to grow by just 3 percent to $107 billion.

Microsoft retires security bulletins

Microsoft retired the security bulletins making many security experts lives rather difficult.

Vole announced the demise of bulletins in November, saying then that the last would be posted with January’s Patch Tuesday, and that the new process would debut 14 February.

A searchable database of support documents would replace the bulletins. Accessed through the “Security Updates Guide” (SUG) portal, the database’s content can be sorted and filtered by the affected software, the patch’s release date, its CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) identifier, and the numerical label of the KB, or “knowledge base” support document.

SUG’s forerunners were the web-based bulletins that have been part of Microsoft’s patch disclosure policies since at least 1998.

Vole did such a good job turning out those bulletins that they were considered the aspirational benchmark for all software vendors, so getting rid of them seemed so strange.

In February Microsoft cancelled that month’s Patch Tuesday just hours before the security updates were to reach customers, making the bulletins’ planned demise moot. Microsoft kept the bulletins the following month as well, saying it wanted to give users more time to prepare for the change to SUG.

Finally, when Microsoft yesterday shipped cumulative security updates for Windows, Internet Explorer, Office and other products, it omitted the usual bulletins.

SUG is not so popular, even if analysts say it has great potential.  Many are undecided whether it would be able to deliver the same quantity and quality of information as the bulletins, without burdening administrators with more work.

Most of the information packed into the earlier bulletins remained available through SUG by digging into the numerous online documents, it is not as accessible.