Dutch company Philips has been trying to sell its lighting business for some time but has found its proposals blocked by antitrust objections.
So its lighting division is pressing on and has just announced an addition to its Hue smart light range
Hue white ambiance are lamps that can be adjusted to vary depending on the time of day.
The kit comes with two Philips Hue ambiance bulbs, a bridge for Apple HomeKit and also a dimmer switch.
The kit is not cheap – with a started kit starting at £100 and individual single bulbs costing £26.
You can control the lights using apps on your smart device but can also control them using Apple Siri.
Dutch maker of LED lights and medical scanners, Philips has announced results which were much better than the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street predicted.
However the outfit also issued a cautious prediction for 2016 which will have many a little worried.
The company, which is trying to flog of its lighting operations to anyone who wants it, forecast “modest” sales growth of around 2 percent this year, and said it expects improvement only in the second half.
Earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization, came in at $913 million, compared with $806 million in the same period a year earlier.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast EBITA of $867 million.
Comparable sales increased by 2 percent to $7.7 billion, Philips said.
CEO Frans van Houten said in a statement that the company expects “modest comparable sales growth” this year.
“Taking into account ongoing macroeconomic headwinds and the phasing of costs and sales, we expect improvements in the year to be back-end loaded,” he said.
The company reported a net loss of $42.36 million for the fourth quarter.
IBM is branching into the health business with its Watson technology and has hired the CEO of Philips Healthcare to set up its Watson Health Cloud.
Deborah DiSanzo will run the business for Big Blue and has been given the task of expanding the business globally and look after a number of customers and partners including Johnson & Johnson, Apple, Medtronic, Epic and CVS Health.
IBM said it has expanded its portfolio with Watson Health Cloud for Life Sciences Compliance and Watson Care Manager.
The first of these is aimed biomedical companies to bring medical inventions to market more efficiently using a Cloud compliant infrastructure and applications.
Watson Care Manager integrates capabilities from Watson Health, Apple’s Healthkit and ResearchKit letting researchers use iPhones for a range of purposes.
IBM claimed that Watson has made significant inroads into the market since its introduction five months ago.
The semiconductor industry is undergoing a period of mergers and acquisitions but the path to unify companies is not always strewn with roses.
NXP Semiconductor – a Dutch firm which was spun off from Philips – wants to buy US competitor Freescale for $11.8 billion. A combined company would be worth over $40 billion.
But before it can snap up Freescale, NXP has to ask the European Union for approval – something it did last week.
The deal could pose some antitrust questions so the European Union regulator has to weigh up what effect the megamerger will have on the competitive landscape.
NXP and Freescale now compete, but if the merger gets the green light from the EU, there are still two companies that operate in the same sectors – Infineon and Japanese firm Renesas.
Cathode ray tubes (CRTs) are over 100 years old but it seems they still have the ability to stir the hearts and minds of people.
That much is clear after five of the biggest display companies in the world agreed to pay over half a billion dollars to settle a US class action.
Samsung, Philips, Panasonic, Hitachi and Toshiba all agreed to pay a total of $528 million.
The companies had conspired to price fix CRTs in the marketplace. Four years ago, antitrust authorities looked into the price fixing allegations.
Samsung put its hands up in the air then and pleaded guilty to the charges.
Samsung’s share of the bill amounts to $225 million, which will be doled out to people in the USA who joined the class action.
General Electric has teamed up with Qualcomm and Apple to build digital technology and the growing appetite for data to reinvigorate its 130 year old lighting business.
GE wants retailers a way to connect with shoppers’ smartphones through technology embedded in LED light bulbs, the company said. One use of the “indoor positioning” technology could be to transmit customised coupons to shoppers depending on their store location.
GE also said it will produce an LED bulb compatible with Apple’s yet-to-launch connected-device platform HomeKit. The bulb can change colours to align with the natural rhythms of the body.
The tie-ups underscore GE’s plans to dive into the emerging and increasingly competitive market for connected lighting that integrates with smart devices.
From GE’s view it can flog more energy-efficient LED bulbs, and use sensors and other technology embedded in LEDs to the advantage of consumers, businesses and cities.
However the news is interesting as some analysts had speculated GE would dump lighting after deciding last year to sell its appliances segment and moves by Siemens and Philips to hive off lighting units. GE Lighting made about $2.5 billion last year, 2.3 percent of the company’s overall industrial sales.
Another giant manufacturer is following Dutch company Philips by spinning off its lights and LED lamps divisions.
Osram Licht AG, formerly a division of Siemens until it was spun off a few years ago, will retain its semiconductor, speciality lighting units, and luminaires unit.
The divisions it’s selling off represent 40 percent of revenues but according to market research company Trendforce, the LED division is being hit by prices falling by 30 percent yearly while margins on the lights don’t deliver what the board expects of successful divisions.
The Philips LED division is being acquired by a consortium of Chinese investors, and Trendforce predicts other investors will step in. There is a possibility, however, that large global technology companies not in the lighting business may want to have a share of the smart home internet of things bonanza that’s widely predicted over the next five years.
This Trendforce graph shows how the prices of a 60W equivalent bulb have fallen over the years.
GO Scale Capital, a group of largely Chinese investors, have paid $3.3 billion to pick up an 80.1 percent stake in Philips car and lighting subsidiary, Lumileds. Philips will keep 19.8 percent of the company although it will gradually divest itself of that share too.
The deal is expected to go through in the third quarter of this year, with the company operating under the name of Lumileds.
According to market research company Trendforce, Lumileds is the leader in high power LED products using flip chip technology.
High power LEDs face competition from many Asian LED manufacturers. Analyst Roger Chu at Trendforce believes Philips divested itself of the lighting division because revenues were steadily falling.
Chu added that Lumileds is in the top five intellectual property owners in the LED industry, and Philips will turn over 600 patents to the Lumileds consortium. He said that the major investors are Chinese and that will give Lumileds a clear advantage.
GO Scale Capital has already invested in a number of other LED companies, putting it in a strong position for the future.
EU watchdogs are about to bite the rump of Philips, Samsung and Infineon for fixing prices of chips used in mobile SIM cards.
The three were subjected to dawn raids in October 2008 and the European Union charged them last year with taking part in a cartel.
SIM chips are used in passports, bank cards, identity cards and television systems and the technology has been universally adopted.
The companies may be fined in late July or possibly September but a decision has already been made, according to tremors in the force at Brussels.
So far there has been no official comment from either the commission, Philips, Infineon or Samsung. Philips said last year that the EU charges covered the period 2003 to 2004 and involved its semiconductor business which it has since sold.
Renesas was apparently given a “Get out of Jail Free Card” by the Commission because it grassed up the others. Renesas has not publically admitted its role in the affair and was unaware that the other companies would be fined.
As Intel found out to its cost, companies that breach EU rules can be fined up to 10 percent of their global turnover. Dutch company Philips’s 2013 turnover was $31.72 billion.
Talks between the EU and the three companies broke down last year.
The chipmakers had initially sought to settle the case, which means admitting guilt in return for a 10 percent cut in the fines.
While Intel and its ilk talk up the Internet of Things idea, it turns out that some of the early moves into the field are completely insecure.
Philips created a Hue LED lighting system, a smart lightbulb which uses wi-fi to connect to the net. Users can use their smartphones or computers connected to the web or local networks to turn lights on and off and control the colour of ambient lighting. Unfortunately it is so insecure a hacker can get in and turn your lights off.
Nitesh Dhanjani, the researcher who discovered the weaknesses and developed proof-of-concept attacks that exploit them, wrote in his blog that smart lightbulb systems are likely to be deployed in current and new residential and corporate constructions.
The flaw means an intruder can remotely shut off lighting in locations such as hospitals and other public venues.
The Philips wireless controller has an authentication controller which consists of a security token containing the device’s unique media access control identifier, that has been cryptographically hashed using a known algorithm.
These hardware addresses are trivial to detect by anyone on the same network or often by people within radio range of a device, making them unsuitable for authentication.
Dhanjani’s hack uses Java which is delivered when browsing compromised websites or websites dedicated to serving attack pages.
It combs through the address resolution protocol cache of a local network to find all connected devices.
The hack runs the MAC address of each discovered device through the MD5 hash algorithm and includes the output in a security token used to send commands to the light controller.
If a command is successfully executed, the hack will repeat it. If a command doesn’t succeed, the malware will register a new token every second or so using a different MAC address until a valid one is found.
It is just as well the lighting system is not that popular yet. Dhanjani said that a remote botnet system could cause a perpetual blackout of millions of consumer lightbulbs.
The other problem is that Philips has not really worked out how to deal with security problems yet. Dhanjani found it impossible to notify the company of its problems.