Tag: mobile

Dell denies pulling out of the PC business

Tinman Michael Dell has denied a rumour that he wants to take the company private so he can get out of making PCs and get into mobile phones and tablets instead.

It is truly bizarre because it is based on a fallacy that PCs are being replaced by tablets rather than the industry is in the doledrums because of the economy.  When Dell has tried to do anything mobile it has usually ended in tears.

Just to make sure that everyone got the message Dell stated in no uncertain terms at the Dell Solutions Summit in Beijing, China, that Dell will continue to build and sell PCs and the reason is that he sees large growth potential in emerging markets.

While the first quarter was a rough one for the PC industry, which as a whole saw sales decline, Dell saw market share gains. Dell pointed out that meant that things were taking off, and there are some areas where sales never slumped at all. China and India still want PCs.

Michael Dell concluded that there is no reason why the company shouldn’t continue to invest in PCs and tablets. 

Mobile phone loss keeps Brits terrified

Half of the UK’s grown adult population have been fearful that they will lose phone signal, run out of battery, or misplace their phone, according to a survey.

One poll asked 1,000 men and women in the UK if they had ever experienced ‘nomophobia’. 42 percent of respondents said they would take their phones to the beach with them on holiday, and 28 percent of those surveyed said they check work email while abroad.

A fifth said they had checked their email in bed, while a quarter admitted they’d check texts and emails even while on a date.

Security company App River commissioned the survey. Analyst Fred Touchette said it’s clear Brits are totally reliant on mobile devices, for personal and business use – so it’s handy to have the ability to remotely wipe your data.

Say, would that be from a company like App River..? 

Ubuntu Edge hits crowd funding block

An ambitious crowd funded campaign to create a smartphone which transforms into a PC is running aground, nearly $20 million below its target.

The Ubuntu Edge has raised $11.3 million at the time of publication, which is very impressive for crowdfunding – but it still has $22 million to go. The money has been raised on Indiegogo, and the money will only go into the Edge if it reaches its goal. There are just days left.

All this suggests that there is a limit to the amount of cash you can raise on crowdfunding sites. The previous record holder, smartwatch maker Pebble, topped out at $10.3 million on Kickstarter.

The idea of a superphone was rather nice. It would run both Ubuntu mobile OS and Android, and convert into a desktop PC via a monitor.

However, according to All things Digital, it does not appear that Canonical actually expected to reach its goal.

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth went on record as saying he was surprised at the level of interest. He indicated that it was possible that the campaign would be extended, or that large manufacturers might help. 

Ambient backscatter threatens end of batteries

A team of researchers at the University of Washington have emerged from their smoke filled labs with a new wireless communication system that allows devices to interact with each other without relying on batteries or wires.

The gear uses ambient backscatter technology to interact with users and communicate with each other without using batteries. They exchange information by reflecting or absorbing pre-existing radio signals.

This takes advantage of the TV and mobile transmissions that already surround us. The two devices piggy back on the existing signals using built small, battery-free devices. They need antennas that can detect, harness and reflect a TV signal and that is all.

It means that it could be possible to have a network of devices and sensors to communicate with no power source or human attention.

Lead researcher Shyam Gollakota, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering, said that it is possible to repurpose wireless signals that are already around us into both a source of power and for communication.

This will be important in areas like wearable computing, smart homes and self-sustaining sensor networks.

The team published their results at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communication 2013 shindig in Hong Kong, MIT Technology Review reports.

They received the conference’s best-paper award for their research.

Everyday objects could also be enabled with battery-free tags to communicate with each other. One example is a sofa which could use ambient backscatter to let the user know where they left a set of keys.

The receiving devices picked up a signal from their transmitting counterparts at a rate of 1 kilobit per second when up to 2.5 feet apart outdoors and 1.5 feet apart indoors. This is enough to send information such as a sensor reading, text messages and contact information. 

Fox steals smartphone, sends SMS

At last a Fox story which is probably true – a Norwegian fox pinched a smartphone and used it to send an SMS.

According to Live Leak,  Lars Andreas Bjercke, 16 downloaded an application on his smartphone which aims to attract nearby foxes.

Apparently the phone app attracted foxes by imitating rabbit sounds. This is opposed to the rabbit app which attracts bunnies by making the sound of a lettuce.

The application worked so well that the fox circled around Lars’s yard for several nights looking for the tasty sounding bunny boomer.

Then Lars hit on the idea of putting the phone in the middle of the road.

The fox walked up to the phone. At first, he was afraid of it, but soon dared to get closer and smell it. Then it grabbed the phone and ran into the bushes.

Later, looking for his phone, Lars called his number and was answered by the Fox. Since one person was a teenager and could not speak more than a few grunts, and the other one was a fox it was not a great conversation.

Then the next day his mate cornered him and asked him why he had been sending him odd SMS’s.

The message said: “I FRY o a0ab 34348tu åaugjoi zølbmosdji jsøg ijio sjiw.” Tragically no one spoke Fox.

Lars still has not found his phone although he has seen the fox hanging around. Clearly he must have removed the sim or sold it on. 

Intel aims at losing fans

Fashion bag maker Intel appears to be focusing its Haswell chip into fanless thinner gear.

Intel wants to have the power envelope of Haswell down to a rating of 4.5 watts.

We have known since June that Intel would be pushing Haswell down to six watts but it appears that its research teams are pushing the power down still further.

A Chipzilla spokesperson told CNET that the company wants to make Haswell a fanless Core processor. At the moment the growing market is fanless portables.

This puts Intel in an interesting position. Most of its market is made selling laptops which need a fan. The fanless consumer gear is mostly thinner, lighter laptops and hybrid laptop-tablets.

So far there are no indications that PC makers would use the low-power Haswell chip in a pure tablet design, but it could happen.

But this means that Haswell will be eating into Intel’s Bay Trail Atom chip. Bay Trail was supposed to target fanless devices like tablets and smartphones. However, its performance will be much lower than Haswell, if Intel can get the power levels down to 4.5 watts.

It seems that whatever Intel does, it will be canablising one aspect of its business. Both these new chips will be eating into laptops, and Haswell will munch on Bay Trail.

In many ways Intel, with its wide control of the market, is damned whatever it does. Still, we will see what happens when the low-power Haswell chip hits the shops later this year. 

Intel releases low power server chips

Fashion bag designer Intel will launch a low power version of its server processors based around a tweaked version of its Xeon chips.

Intel announced a new product in its Xeon product family, a 14-nanometer Xeon E3 processor, which the company’s vice chairman Andy Bryant said was Intel’s “first SoC based on a high-performance core”.

The unnamed chip will incorporate Intel’s next-generation, 14nm “Broadwell” processor architecture for the company’s flagship Xeon and Core product lines. Unlike other high-performance products in the upcoming Broadwell offering, this chip will have integrated I/O, fabric, and accelerators on the same die as the CPU, making it a true SoC with more in common with Intel’s low-power Atom products for the data centre.

The announcement is being seen as Intel taking on ARM in the server room by offering a low-power version of Xeon with built in connectivity and memory.

ARM has already announced that it wants to put its lower power chips into data centres and take on Intel’s 95 percent share of the market.

Diane Bryant, in charge of Intel’s data centre business, said the new component will be based on the upcoming Broadwell version of Intel’s Xeon high-performance chips. She said it will be in the shops next year.

The new version of Broadwell is part of Intel’s move to integrate more features onto its chips, like memory and graphics.

While such SoCs are already used in smartphones and tablets they have not been seen much in the data centre.

Speaking at Intel’s Datacentre Day, Bryant said Intel would lead the way in driving key changes to how servers, networking, and storage are utilised to deliver better efficiencies, quicker service delivery, and lower costs. 

Super cheap Nokia Lumia 625 leaked

Troubled former rubber-boot maker Nokia has had details of a new phone, tipped to be the biggest on the market, leaked – and it’s going to be cheap as chips.

The Lumia 625 specifications have been leaked by Finnish website puhelinvertailu.com.

It’s rumoured to have a 4.7-inch LCD display with 800x480p resolution and pixel density of 201ppi. Layered with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 for resistance against scratches, this screen will feature the super sensitive touch technology that has been seen in other Lumia phones. It will run on Windows Phone 8 and have a 1.2GHz dual-core processor under the bonnet and 512MB RAM

The Lumia 625 is expected to have a 5MP camera with LED flash on the back, but no front unit.

There will be 8GB internal storage and microSD support of up to 64GB. Connectivity options include 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It will be powered by 2,000mAh battery and weigh 159gram. Going by the leaked images of the handset, it will come in green, yellow, white, black and red.

While the official price of the phone has not been leaked there are rumours that Nokia is going to have a crack at making it fairly cheap. The company has to do something to restore confidence in its range.

This will be the fourth smartphone released in as many months, after the Lumia 925, Lumia 928 and Lumia 1020.

Other handsets launched by the company during this period include feature phones like the 208, 207, Asha 501 and Asha 210. 

Intel results show blurry vision

Over the last few months, Intel has been getting a warm response from analysts who think it has been making all the right moves in the mobile arena. As a result, its second quarter results were greeted with utter shock by the markets.

Intel reported overnight that its net profit for the second quarter fell 29 percent from a year earlier to US$2 billion. Its sales for the same period stood at $12.8 billion, down 5.1 percent year-on-year, and the figure fell below a previous market estimate of $12.9 billion.

Sales of its PC chip division fell 7.5 percent from a year earlier. As the PC chip operations accounted for 30 percent of Intel’s total sales, its bottom line was gutted.

Intel said its sales for the third quarter are likely to stand at $13.5 billion but the market had previously anticipated that the chip maker’s revenue would hit $13.7 billion.

The question is, if Chipzilla is making all the right moves into mobile, why is its balance sheet starting to look rotten?

The answer is that the whole mobile push is based on a fallacy that the world is moving to mobile computing rather than the PC. This weird idea was first pushed by Apple and since taken up by some of the press, ending up as gospel among analysts.

Pundits saw falling PC sales while tablet and mobile sales increased, they bought Apple’s dream of a mobile world and the death of the PC.

While it was true that PC sales were falling, that wasn’t solely thanks to mobile. It had everything to do with a recession which was not going away.  Intel’s bread and butter was PC and server chips, and companies simply sat on their old models rather than upgrading.

Chipzilla was not helped by the fact that Windows 7 and 8 did not really need as much in the way of processing power of its rivals so there was no immediate need to upgrade.

While Intel pushed into mobile chips (and fashion bags) its underlying problem was not going away. Consumers were too broke to buy a new PC when their current model either worked well or well enough.  While they might have splashed out on a new phone or tablet, they were not going to replace a PC.

Intel wasted its R&D money pushing into a mobile market just as it was revealed to have major limitations and sales were drying up. True, it cut itself a small share, but it still has to face the fact that until people start buying PCs again it is stuffed.

Rather than pushing into mobile, Intel and its hardware and software chums would have been better off encouraging PC sales.

For example, Intel could have come up with a chip for Windows 8.1 which meant users were stuck with Windows 8 or lower if they did not buy it. If it wanted to push its Ultrabooks, it could have cut the price of the chips expected to run them. 

In fact dropping the price of anything hasn’t seemed to have occurred to Intel, which carried on blindly pinning its hopes on Apple’s marketing dream.

It appears to have taken hardware makers with it. 

Asustek gave its weaker notebook computer shipment estimate in late June. Asustek said it expects that due to weakening demand in the global PC market, its notebook computer shipments for 2013 are unlikely to hit 20 million units, down about 10 percent from the 22 million recorded in 2012.

Intel’s results have made investing in hardware companies a risky business.

Quad-core ARM PC to hit the shops

Fanless Tech has discovered a quad core ARM PC which actually could give the traditional Intel concept a run for its money.

It is not difficult to find cheap ARM boxes but they are usually glorified TV dongles.

However, Compulab will be selling a fully integrated ARM / Ubuntu PC for less than $100 from next month.

Compulab, which makes the MintBox, Fit-PC, and Tegra-based Trim Slice claims that the box can deliver “rich multimedia and PC-like user experience”.

Utilite will be available in single, dual, and quad core versions starting at $99.

The chip is pretty slow. In fact it is about half the speed of what is popular amongst x86 users. It is built around a Freescale i.MX6 single / dual / quad core Cortex-A9 MPCore. As you might expect that can only managed 1.2GHz on a good day.

The spec has up to 4GB DDR3-1066, mSATA SSD, up to 512GB, Micro-SD SDXC, up to 128GB and supports OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0, OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP.

It can also manage a multi-stream 1080p H.264, VC1, RV10, DivX HW decoding, HDMI 1.4 up to 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz and DVI-D up to 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz.

It also only needs 3W – 8W power consumption.

Utilite will be available through CompuLab’s worldwide distribution channel and through direct sales. CompuLab expects to start accepting orders for Utilite in August 2013.

While we do not know what the final price tag for business ready Utilites will be, this sort of device threatens to be a problem for Intel and AMD.

Both these companies had been praying that when Microsoft kills off Windows XP support that companies would be forced to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 machines, which would require a better hardware spec.

But if a company can move their desktops to Linux they can keep them running at a spec just as fast as their current set up for about a third of the price. 1.2GHz is slow but is probably all the processing power that companies have been getting out of their elderly XP machines.