Budget bookseller Jeff Bezos has been telling the world that the Fire Phone disaster was good for the company.
Amazon’s wizard idea to start flogging a smartphone, the Fire Phone, was a major flop that cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.
But according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the Fire Phone was a “tiny little blip” compared to some of the larger experiments his company is working on now.
“If you think that’s a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now. And I am not kidding. And some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip,” Bezos said.
He said that the size of mistakes needed to grow along with the company, Bezos said. “If it doesn’t, you’re not going to be inventing at scale that can actually move the needle.”
The great thing is when you take this approach, a small number of winners pay for dozens, hundreds of failures. And so every single important thing that we have done has taken a lot of risk taking, perseverance, guts, and some of them have worked out, most of them have not, he said.
Other failed projects included the hotel-booking site, Amazon Destinations, and auction site, Amazon Auction. But it’s also led to massive successes, such as its Amazon Web Services and the Amazon Echo, which is why Bezos likes to call the company “the best place in the world to fail”.
Apple is expected to report its first bad results in ages later today and the Tame Apple Press is trying to put its best spin on it.
Apple’s favourite news agency Reuters is talking about iPhone sales rising a whole percent but even it admits that it is far from the double-digit growth investors have come to expect.
The fact that there is any growth at all is a plus as we would have through that growth would have fallen by a lot more than that. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus which according to Reuters “experienced record sales when they were launched” are now facing weak demand. What they are not saying is that the only reason they saw record sales in the first place was that they launched in China at the same time as the US rather than delaying the China launch until this quarter.
However analysts say that the iPhone 6s is basically the same as the other iPhones and gave few reasons to upgrade.
China, the company’s fastest-growing market, may also have weighed on first-quarter results, as a slowdown in the country’s economy forced consumers to tighten their purse strings.
Reuters thinks Apple sold 75.5 million iPhones in the October-December quarter, a 1.3 percent increase from a year earlier. This compares with a nearly 46 percent year-over-year jump in iPhone sales in the first quarter of 2015. The slowest growth in quarterly iPhone sales so far has been 6.8 percent, in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, according to data from Statista.
Apple is expected to forecast a drop in iPhone sales for the March quarter – the first time that sales will fall since the iPhone was launched in 2007.
This was foreshadowed by disappointing March-quarter forecasts from the company’s Asian suppliers .
Apple is expected to sell 54.6 million iPhones in the March 2016 quarter, according to FactSet. The company sold 61.2 million iPhones between January and March, 2015 – a 40 percent year-over-year increase.
Reuters is hoping that iPhone 7, expected later this year, will pull Apple’s nadgers out of the fire.
Apple shares are continuing to fall. They have fallen nearly 10 percent since the start of October.
With wireless internet, mobile phones and TVs all jostling for radio wave spectrum space, researchers in Italy have taken a new twist on easing congestion.
Spectrum is continually being fought over from a variety of sources, with certain bands of wavelengths getting switched from one use to another. For example, the UK’s 4G wireless connectivity is dependent on giving the old analogue TV signal the elbow.
Now, a team of Italian and Swedish scientists has cooked up a novel way of allowing different signals to occupy the same frequency, with a nod to the local cuisine.
The team opened the door for an infinite number of channels to be received and broadcast in an experiment across the waters of Venice, aptly taking their cue from an Italian favourite – fusilli pasta.
By twisting two radio waves together it is possible to allow waves to hold more than one channel of information at a time. As a wave can twist about its axis a certain number of times, moving in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction, there are many configurations it can take.
According to the scientists, in three dimensions the waves take the form of a “fusillli-pasta-shaped beam”.
To demonstrate how the system works, the researchers transmitted radio waves in the 2.4 GHz band over 442 metres from a lighthouse in the waters around Venice to the mainland. The demonstration showed that it was possible to pick up both twisted radio wave channels.
According to the researchers, this could mean that increasing amounts of information could easily be sent around the world, and could also help throw some light onto mysteries further out into space.
Apparently, the pasta shaped waves could help understand black holes which constantly rotate as waves pass them. Analysing the waves from a supermassive blackhole found in our galaxy could allow astronomers a key insight into how the black hole itself twists.
It seems that the scientific community still can’t make its mind up over whether using a mobile phone will turn your brain into a cancerous lump.
A while back we had World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) deciding mobiles should be classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” and using a mobile phone would result in brain cells being fried and served in a white wine sauce.
However, now another review claims that it does no such thing.
This review of previously published research, by a committee of experts from Britain, the United States and Sweden, concluded there was no convincing evidence of any cancer connection.
It also found a lack of biological mechanisms by which radio signals from mobile phones might do the damage.
The research, which was published by Environmental Health Perspectives, which we get for the interesting horoscopes, said that everything was uncertain. We guess that if certainty is uncertain too then the universe is in a bad way.
The experts penned that the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly “against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults.”
Anthony Swerdlow of Britain’s Institute of Cancer Research, who led the new review, told Reuters the two positions were “not necessarily contradictory”, although we would have thought that reaching opposite conclusions was a little contradictory.
He said that the IARC needed to put mobile phones into a pre-defined risk category whereas his report said in plain English what he believes the relationship is.
Swerdlow pointed out that in the past the IARC has said that pickled vegetables and coffee could cause cancer, too.
One of humanities’ oldest discoveries might help power one of its newest.
When Neanderthals literally set the world on fire, they would not have considered that their invention would be helping mobile phone users with flat batteries.
A team of Japanese scientists has come up with a new way to charge your mobile phone after a natural disaster or in the great outdoors.
The Hatsuden-Nabe thermo-electric cookpot turns heat from boiling water into electricity that feeds via a USB port into digital devices such as smartphones, music players and global positioning systems.
According to AP, the idea of powering your mobile using a fire came from boffins in TES NewEnergy, based in the western city of Osaka.
They are selling it for 24,150 yen, or $280, which is the price of a hamburger in Tokyo.
The plan is to market it in developing countries with dodgy power.
Chief executive Kazuhiro Fujita said the invention was inspired by Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
He said that when he saw TV footage of the quake victims making a fire to keep themselves warm, he also had the notion of helping them to charge their mobile phones at the same time.
Of course the fact that mobile phone masts would also be without power and therefore also down did not matter much. At least modern Neanderthals will have a charged phone even if they can’t call someone.
The charging pot features strips of ceramic thermoelectric material that generates electricity between the 550 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the pot and the water boiling inside at 100 degrees.
It takes three to five hours to charge an iPhone and you can heat up your lunch at the same time.
Ofcom has highlighted its concerns that arrival of 4G services in the UK could cause problems for digital TV signals.
When the next generation of mobile phones arrive using faster speed internet in 2013 the watchdog is worried that unless firms act 760,000 homes tuning into Freeview services could be affected.
This means that there will be potential interference from mobile base stations that could affect the ability of some people to receive DTT.
It is thought that in some cases it will be necessary to fit a filter to TV sets in order to block interfering signals.
However it is expected that mobile operators lining their pockets with cash raked in from the 4G service will be footing the bill for any expenses incurred according to Ofcom.
In some extreme cases it will be necessary for digital viewers to switch to satellite services where the filters are unable to work.
The fears arise around the 800 MHz spectrum used by mobile operators using 4G or LTE services, with an expectation from Ofcom that if nothing is done up to three per cent of viewers could see problems.
Ofcom says that as the spectrum is close to that used by digital TV it means “that there will be potential interference from mobile base stations that could affect the ability of some people to receive digital terrestrial television (DTT).”
Proposals set forth following research by the watchdog include setting up an implementation body to provide information to the public and broadcasters, as well as receiving feedback, with the new body being funded by money generated by 800MHz licenses.
Ofcom will also look at alternate methods for avoiding signal disruption, such as “filters for mobile base stations”, and “changes to aerials including reorientation and cross polarisation”.
A consultation will now be carried out by Ofcom, with an expectation to publish results during the autumn.
Computer Science geeks at the University of Portsmouth have found a way of making smartphones show a disaster unfolding in real-time on phone screens.
They’ve developed an application and prototype, which currently allows a range of different uses such as allowing docs to monitor heart patients’ ECG right through to helping coppers in the central control unit to see where each PC plod is in an emergency.
Dr Mohamed Gaber, of the University of Portsmouth’s School of Computing, and geeks from Monash University have also said that the app can also be used in a natural disaster. One example given was to help those co-ordinating rescue efforts to use an electronic map on their phone screens with clusters showing which areas are worst affected.
They said that because such information would constantly update as the disaster unfolds, the clusters would adjust automatically in size and scale as new clusters formed to stop the phone screen becoming over-crowded with information.
And the researchers are blowing their own trumpets claiming that this is the first time anyone has managed to develop a “clutter-aware visualisation for mobile data mining that automatically considers the amount of information presented on screen and dynamically adjusts the way this information is presented to avoid confusion and enhance ease of understanding.”
They added that a lot of work had gone into making the application usable and interactive.
“The need for an application that knows when information overload is a threat is very important,” they added.
According to the boffins, clutter on a phone screen is measured in two ways – the percentage of the screen occupied by clusters; and the percentage of clusters that overlap.
Someone using the app can choose to decide the amount of clusters they can visually manage on their phone screen and when a situation becomes more complex, the phone image is automatically scaled down.
If this is too much information for the user, then the clusters change colour so black dots represents a lot of activity or data, grey represents a fair amount, and white represents very little.
Those who don’t want to look at the screen can also opt to have a sound only option so an alert sounds every time a new cluster forms or an existing one grows.
The researchers started developing the application in response to the growth of mobile devices coupled with their increased computational capacity.
Microsoft’s billion dollar agreement with Nokia does not seem to include shoving its Windows Mobile 7 on any of the former rubber boot maker’s coming tablet designs.
Reuters, quoting a deep throat within Nokia, said that its strategy for entering the tablet computer market does not include Vole.
Apparently Nokia is still considering its options for tablets and these include MeeGo, a platform Nokia has been jointly developing with Intel.
Nokia wants to get its first tablet right rather than rushing to join the party late.
It wants to come up with something a little different that will also help it with other cunning plans such as getting into telly.
While the deep throat suggested that Nokia’s tablet plans could include Microsoft, they are not part of the agreement.
Before signing on the dotted line with Redmond Nokia had been betting on MeeGo for high-end smartphones. In the end it felt that the market was too crowded with other software.
Microsoft is not expected to be ready with a true tablet platform before late 2012. It will be based on its forthcoming Windows 8 PC operating system, rather than its Windows Mobile 7.
However it does indicate that CEO Steve Ballmer might have lost a trick when he negotiated the deal with his former employee Stephen Nokia’s Elop. He came up with a clever idea to save Windows Mobile 7, but either didn’t think about using it to solve his tablet problem, or this was rejected by Nokia.
Either way Microsoft will have to think of something different if it wants to get into the Tablet market.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop really is Nokia’s six million dollar man.
Nokia is a company which is barely alive. And Elop is the man who is supposed to rebuild it.
It has the technology, it had the capability to build the world’s first reconstituted phone maker. Nokia will be that phone company. Better than it was before. Better, stronger, faster.
The only problem is that Elop had to leave his former employer Microsoft in a bit of a hurry and so Nokia has had to write him a $6 million cheque to make up for his lost salary.
According to regulatory filings, Elop received a payment of about $3.2 million last October and is due to receive another $US3 million this October.
Quite why Microsoft stopped paying him was unclear. His first move when joining the company was to sign a $1 billion deal with Redmond to replace Symbian with Windows Mobile 7.
Although it remains the world’s leading mobile phone maker, Nokia has been losing market share like crazy of late and has been unable to get a popular smartphone onto the market.
Elop however has so far yet to prove he is anyone’s six million dollar man. He has yet to turn the company around, he has not come up with a new smart phone, has not seen the share price increase and has not even tried to battle big foot yet.
It looks like the shy and retiring CEO of Microsoft Steve “there is a kind of hush” Ballmer has written a cheque for more than a billion greenbacks to secure his deal with Nokia.
According to Bloomberg, Steve will pay Nokia Oyj more than $1 billion to promote and develop Windows-based handsets as part of their smartphone software agreement. In turn Nokia will buy Windows for its phones.
There are other benefits in the glorious five year plan. Nokia will not have to spend cash on R&D and Ballmer has a big customer for his Windows Mobile OS. Nokia’s royalty payments will Ballmer make a profit on the accord even after the payments to Nokia.
It also kept the outfit from moving to Android.
Some of the payment to Nokia would be made before the company starts selling the phones, meaning Microsoft bears some upfront cost in the partnership.
Both sides need the deal to work and many of Nokia’s shareholders think the outfit has signed up to a Ballmer albatross which does not even come with wafers.
Nokia shares dropped 26 percent since the accord was unveiled February 11.
Another interesting thing from the deal is that it gives Redmond Nokia’s patent portfolio. Ballmer gets to use Nokia’s Navteq mapping products for functions such as geolocation services and selling local advertising and coupons tied to a user’s position.