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AfterDawn: News

Analysts: Have iPad sales peaked?

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 21:13

Analysts: Have iPad sales peaked? As a group, analysts appear to have called for the peak in iPad sales.

Consensus for the Q1 2014 is that iPad sales will fall year-over-year (YoY) by 0.7 percent.

Such a drop would be surprising for Apple, which saw over 20 percent growth in the last quarter for its refreshed iPad line.

Across the industry, the consensus is 19.3 million units sold, compared to 19.5 million YoY. Noted Apple enthusiasts Horace Dediu, Peter Misek and Gene Munster all had estimates at the high end of the range, above 21 million. Braeburn Group's Matt Lew came in with the low print at 15 million, although that is likely to get more visibility to the firm rather than a real estimation.

Unless Apple blows away these estimates, growth will have slowed significantly. Customers are likely waiting for the updated iPad Air and Mini with Retina models to be released in the Q3.

We will learn more this week following Apple's earnings report.

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AfterDawn: News

Toshiba shows off 'world's fastest' microSD cards

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 15:19

Toshiba shows off 'world's fastest' microSD cards Toshiba has just unveiled the world's fastest microSD cards, cards that the company claims can handle 4K video.

Available initially in 32GB and 64GB versions, the cards are rated at UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) and they are the first to use the new UHS-II interface standard.

Notes Toshiba: UHS-II with U3 means support for "high-quality 4K video capture at constant minimum write speed of 30MB/S. This means that 4K2K video, live broadcast, and content can be recorded on high-performance cameras."

The new announcement is of great significance to the industry, given that product makers will no longer have to sacrifice valuable space to accommodate bigger cards, like full sized SD.

Toshiba claims the 64GB card has a max read speed of 260MB per second and write speed of 240MB/s while the 32GB has 145MB/s and 130MB/s, respectively. Compared to previous cards, the new specs "represents an 8x write speed improvement and 2.7x read speed improvement when compared to Toshiba's current 32GB MicroSD UHS-1 card."

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AfterDawn: News

LinkedIn reaches 300 million users

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 14:32

LinkedIn reaches 300 million users LinkedIn has announced this week that the professional social network now has 300 million registered users, with 100 million residing in the U.S.

Reads the blog post: "We are excited to announce that we reached a big milestone today: there are now more than 300 million LinkedIn members in the world! More than half of these members come from outside of the U.S., while there are 100 million members in the U.S. While this is an exciting moment, we still have a long way to go to realize our vision of creating economic opportunity for every one of the 3.3 billion people in the global workforce."

The company has plans for major expansions into Asia and mobile devices, with the ultimate goal of expanding their user base into the billions.

Of course, the registered userbase is much higher than the active users, with uniques totaling 187 million last quarter.

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AfterDawn: News

Samsung fixes Smart TV app, website outages following fire

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 13:49

Samsung fixes Smart TV app, website outages following fire Yesterday, Samsung device owners had many of their services unavailable for some time, with even Samsung.com down for a time.

Apps were unavailable on Samsung Smart TVs, as well, thanks to a large fire at a Samsung SDS building in Gwacheon, South Korea.

Earlier this morning, access was restored and Samsung confirmed the fire as the culprit.

There were no fatalities.

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AfterDawn: News

Pew research: Americans are still wary of drones, robots, wearables

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 13:02

Pew research: Americans are still wary of drones, robots, wearables According to a new Pew research survey, Americans remain wary of technology that could power the future, including drones, robots and even wearable devices like Google Glass.

1,000 US adults were surveyed, and 59 percent expressed optimism that upcoming tech would positively benefit society and their lives, while a full 30 percent believed society would be worse off.

There were some mixed results in other areas. 80 percent believe lab-grown organs will be a mainstay, while 50 percent believe that computers will be able to produce art on the same quality as humans.

One worrying figure was that 39 percent of those surveyed believe scientists will be able to teleport objects within the next 50 years. There have been no breakthroughs in such an endeavor, and many believe teleportation is hundreds of years away, if it is possible at all.

53 percent of respondents were worried about wearables and think society will be worse off if "most people wear implants or other devices that constantly show them information about the world around them." 37 percent believed society would be better off. Only 48 percent of respondents would take a ride in a driverless car. 63 percent are concerned society will be worse off if drones are allowed to operate in commercial airspace. 65 percent are against robots as caregivers for the eldery and 66 percent are against DNA alteration for babies to include specific traits. The largest number, 78 percent, had no interest in eating lab-grown meats.

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AfterDawn: News

AT&T increases data for free on no-contract GoPhone plans

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 12:28

AT&T increases data for free on no-contract GoPhone plans Starting next week, AT&T will boost their pre-paid GoPhone plans with additional data, with no additional change in price.

The base GoPhone plan will still cost $40 per month for 500 minutes and unlimited texting (including international for certain countries), but data will be bumped to 500MB from the current 250MB.

If you pay up for the unlimited talk and text plan at $60 per month, data will be boosted to 2.5GB from 2GB and Wi-Fi hotspot capability is added for free.

For new customers, and available exclusively at Walmart, there is a third plan with unlimited text and talk with 1GB data for $45 per month, a stronger value than the base plan as long as the $5 isn't a deal breaker.

"We're giving customers more for less, and making it even easier for them to enjoy their smartphones the way they want - all on a superior, reliable network," said Mark Collins, AT&T Mobility senior vice president of data and voice products.

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AfterDawn: News

Heartbleed fallout: If you signed up for Obamacare, it's time to change your password

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 11:50

Heartbleed fallout: If you signed up for Obamacare, it's time to change your password Government officials have confirmed that the HealthCare.gov website is indeed vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, and those that have signed up for Obamacare should change their passwords.

There was no indication that the site had been compromised, but officials still recommend changing the password to be safe. Other government sites may have been vulnerable, as well, but a full review is still ongoing, say the officials.

Heartbleed, which is a massive flaw in the OpenSSL website encryption technology used by a major portion of the Web, has been dominating headlines recently as major companies rush to patch their services and recommend to users that their passwords and other info be changed.

"While there's no indication that any personal information has ever been at risk, we have taken steps to address Heartbleed issues and reset consumers' passwords out of an abundance of caution," reads the website.

Phyllis Schneck, Department of Homeland Security deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity and communications also added: "We will continue to focus on this issue until government agencies have mitigated the vulnerability in their systems. And we will continue to adapt our response if we learn about additional issues created by the vulnerability."

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AfterDawn: News

Beats Music adds ability to purchase subscription through iOS app

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 11:32

Beats Music adds ability to purchase subscription through iOS app Beats Music has bitten the bullet and has added in-app purchasing for subscriptions of the streaming service through the iOS app.

The service launched in January and has been modestly successful due to its high reviews.

Apple takes 30 percent of all in-app purchase revenue, which is significant but should also open up the service to more users. Beats Music costs $10 per month.

Beats Music is available in the U.S. on iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android, PC and Mac. The headphone company, run by music industry exec Jimmy Iovine and famous producer Dr. Dre, says all U.S. consumers can try the service for free for 30 days and can download or stream unlimited music for $10 per month afterwards. For $15 a month, a family of five can access the service through a deal will AT&T. The charge will be part of your regular monthly bill.

Unlimited downloads will allow you to listen to music offline, but the downloads expire and disappear when your membership ends.

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AfterDawn: News

High fidelity PonoPlayer closes Kickstarter campaign at $6.2 million

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Apr 2014 17:37

High fidelity PonoPlayer closes Kickstarter campaign at $6.2 million The Kickstarter-funded high-fidelity music player, Pono, has closed its campaign at $6.2 million raised, good for the third best campaign on the crowdfunding site, ever.

Launched by musician Neil Young, the device was offered in 31 different options, including players with artist's signatures laser engraved on the side and pre-loaded with the artist's music.

Still in prototype form, the device is expected to launch in October in its final retail form. "The art of engineering is the art of compromise," Pono said recently. "And when you have a chance to listen to the PonoPlayer, we promise that you will be more than happy with the choices we have made."

Pono Players will cost $399 when they launch at retail in October, but 100 lucky backers got it for $199 and all other Kickstarter backers could purchase it for $299.

What is Pono?

Pono's mission is to provide the best possible listening experience of your favorite music. We want to be very clear that PonoMusic is not a new audio file format or standard. PonoMusic is an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio. We offer PonoMusic customers the highest resolution digital music available. PonoMusic is more than just a high-resolution music store and player; it is a grassroots movement to keep the heart of music beating. PonoMusic aims to preserve the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings.

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AfterDawn: News

Study: 20 percent of Hulu and Netflix subscribers have cut the cord

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Apr 2014 17:14

Study: 20 percent of Hulu and Netflix subscribers have cut the cord According to a new Experian Marketing Services study, cord cutting is definitely on the rise, especially among those with popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

The study reveals that 6.5 percent of U.S. households cut the cord in 2013, leaving their cable TV service for good, up from 4.5 percent in 2010. This amounts to almost 8 million.

If you are a subscriber to Netflix or Hulu, that figure jumps significantly, with 18 percent of Americans using those services having effectively cut the cord.

Perhaps most dramatically, in the 18-34 age range, the number is closer to 12.5 percent of all households. "The young millennials who are just getting started on their own may never pay for television," said John Fetto, a senior analyst at Experian Marketing Services. "Pay TV is definitely declining."

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AfterDawn: News

Nike denies it's shutting down FuelBand, but confirms layoffs

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Apr 2014 16:46

Nike denies it's shutting down FuelBand, but confirms layoffs Following a report that the company was shutting down its FuelBand digital sports division and laying employees off, Nike has confirmed a "small number" of layoffs but denied the division was being ended.

"The Nike+ FuelBand SE remains an important part of our business," says the company. "We will continue to improve the Nike+ FuelBand App, launch new METALUXE colors, and we will sell and support the Nike+ FuelBand SE for the foreseeable future."

To that end, Nike could be suggesting that there will be no future FuelBand bracelets in the future, and other sources claim Nike is just waiting to wind down its remaining inventory while it decides on the future of the unit.

The bracelets have high expenses, low margins and sales have been moderate. Sources also claim Nike has had issues attracting the engineering talent it would need for future devices. The device also lacks an Android app, alienating a huge portion of the population.

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AfterDawn: News

Report: Google building a $100 Nexus smartphone

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Apr 2014 16:22

Report: Google building a $100 Nexus smartphone According to supply chain sources, Google is working on a $100 Nexus smartphone for budget-conscious consumers.

There is very little to go on, but the reports claim that Google will join up with chip maker MediaTek to build the phone. MediaTek offers SoC with high-end specs, but for lower priced devices.

Such a device could certainly disrupt the industry, especially if it is serviceable, given that Apple's iPhones sell for over $600 unlocked, and at least $199 on contract, and the Galaxy line sells for the same price. Samsung and Apple are the only two profitable smartphone makers and it is clear that margins on a $100 phone would be non-existent.

Most likely, Google would be losing money on each device (like Amazon normally does), to ensure the Android OS and Google ecosystem are in as many hands as possible, where they can sell more content.

On the high-end, Google is expected to launch their Nexus 6 later this year.

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AfterDawn: News

Chromebooks may soon be unlocked with smartphones

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Apr 2014 7:33

Chromebooks may soon be unlocked with smartphones A feature spotted in the Chrome OS dev channel may indicate that Chromebooks will soon be unlocked using asmartphone.

The unfinished feature is called "Easy Unlock" and it can be enabled manually, but it doesn't really do anything as of yet.

Trying to use the feature brings up a three-step process. The first page explains that your phone can "Easy Unlock" all your devices. "You can instantly unlock your Chromebook when you and your phone are nearby, no password necessary."

The first of the three steps is to "Find your phone", but it does absolutely nothing as of yet. It appears to search for something but it is likely looking for an app that hasn't been released yet.




Sources and Recommended Reading
Unfinished 'Easy Unlock' Feature Creeps Into Chrome OS Dev: www.androidpolice.com (Image Source)




AfterDawn: News

Android tops activations in U.S. during Q1

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Apr 2014 7:19

Android tops activations in U.S. during Q1 Google's Android operating system rose above Apple's iOS with 53 percent of activations in the United States during Q1 of this year.

In the final quarter of 2013, Apple's iOS accounted for the largest share of activations in the U.S. at 48 percent, ahead of Android at 46 percent. Now iOS has fallen to second place with 42 percent of activations, behind Android's 53 percent total.

Both Windows Phone and BlackBerry could only manage around 1 percent of activations each, while non-smartphones accounted for the rest.

The data comes from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP).

"In a quarter without any significant phone launch, more buyers chose Android phones than iOS," said Josh Lowitz, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP.

"It increased its share considerably over the previous quarter, when it had only 46% of activations. iOS share of activations fell from 48% in the previous quarter, the first full quarter with iPhone 5S and 5C sales."

Apple's iOS did grow slightly faster than Android however when you take into account new phone purchases that replaced older non-smartphones or devices made by rivals. Both BlackBerry and Windows Phone lost users, though the biggest loser was basic feature phones, and that certainly will do no harm.

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AfterDawn: News

Google, Facebook becoming 'too powerful', German media boss says in open letter

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Apr 2014 6:54

Google, Facebook becoming 'too powerful', German media boss says in open letter Google and Facebook have come under fire from a powerful source in Europe concerning their business practices and treatment of Internet users' privacy.

Axel Springer chief executive Mathias Dopfner wrote an open letter to Google chairman Eric Schmidt in which he described the company as a monopoly, and its top brass as seeking to operate in a 'legal vacuum' without the hassles of anti-trust and privacy, a kind of 'superstate.'

Dopfner's open letter was published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, which is not one of the 200 newspapers and magazines that Axel Springer publishes. It came after a column written by Eric Schmidt said the relationship between both companies was challenging, but that they had managed a multi-year deal regardless.

On that relationship, Dopfner said he admired Google's entrepreneurial success and was happy to have a relationship with the firm, but that it wasn't like there was much of an alternative for Axel Springer to choose from.

The letter cautioned Google that monopolies do not survive long throughout the history of economics.

Technology companies are becoming too powerful

The open letter argued that tech firms like Google and Facebook are becoming too powerful, more than most people are aware.

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