We reported a little earlier on that Apple had taken one of Samsung's chip designers, but now news has arrived from AllThingsD that the iDevice maker has hired major Amazon executive and president search technologist, William Stasior.
Stasior will take over their Siri unit, according to their sources, and up until now Stasior has been in charge of Amazon's search and search advertising unit, A9. Stasior, a former AltaVista executive co-founded the independent company and has run it since Udi Manber left for Google.
With Stasior now at the wheel of Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant should get some much-needed guidance. Siri has lost some of the talent who created it, with Adam Cheyer leaving. Cheyer co-founded the voice recognition company prior to their acquisition by Apple in 2008, and CEO Dag Kittlaus left in October 2011.
Apple are looking to expand their retail arm prowess in China, with the third store in Beijing opening this week. Apple will also open up a sixth store in China on Saturday, on the historic Wangfujing Street.
Wangfujing has over 100 years of history and has been labeled in the some in China as "China's No. 1 street". Apple's first retail store in China opened up in Beijing in the busy Sanlitun area of the city. A second store was opened in 2010 on the west side of town in Xidan. Earlier this year CEO Tim Cook was spotted in the Xidan Joy City store during a business trip in Beijing.
China has over 1.3 billion residents, so it would make perfect sense to start ramping up their retail presence in the country. Apple had actually planned on opening 25 stores in China by the end of 2012, but this has been more difficult than expected for the Cupertino-based iDevice maker.
Apple are looking to make a shift on their reliance on South Korean firms, such as Samsung, with news arriving that they could partner up with TMSC on their 20nm process.
J.T. Hsu of Citigroup reportedly told the China Economic News that Apple have been looking at TMSC, researching the possible use of the manufacturing arm's 20nm process for future quad-core processors. Hsu also teased that preliminary production may begin as soon as next month, with volume production expected to begin near the end of 2013.
Apple need to rely on Samsung for a lot of their chip production, even though the company's are involved in patent lawsuits. Business has to continue, chips need to be created and money needs to be made.
ZTE, the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker is set to post a loss of $279.2 million for the first nine months of 2012. This is according to preliminary results announcement ZTE made on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Sunday.
ZTE's revenues have been slammed by a bad economy, and the Chinese company's money has not been helped by their constant problems with legislators and regulators both in the US and EU. ZTE's preliminary results announcement predicts that its loss will be somewhere between $263.3 and $279.2 million.
ZTE's operating revenue for the quarter ending September 30 is down 13% year-over-year. The company also reported lower overall gross profit margins for the first nine months of 2012 leading up to September 30. The company also noted that they were currently under investigation by the US Department of Commerse and Department of Justice over their dealings with Iran.
CNBC are reporting that Softbank are looking to take a 70% stake in Sprint, which will cost them a hefty $20 billion. Citing people familiar with the matter, Softbank will purchase $8 billion in shares directly from Sprint.
The additional $12 billion will come from stock at $5.25 per share from other shareholders. The firm will net Sprint $3 billion which the telco could use to regain control of Clearwire.
Softbank's cash could also go toward Sprint's ongoing LTE rollout, which is set to speed up 20 markets in the near future. We should hear more details on the mammoth deal tomorrow.
Microsoft's ongoing patent infringement lawsuit against Motorola just got a whole lot more interesting, where they've added Google to the case. This will now be very interesting here on out, as Google are the ones making Android that go in their competitors phones.
Microsoft have claimed that adding Google to their existing lawsuit is because they are relying partly on data that Motorola says rests in the hands of Google, who recently acquired the phone maker.
The claims from Microsoft state that there's a method for mobile devices to obtain a map from a database and location data from a separate database before overlaying both sets of information. Microsoft claim that the Google Maps app on Motorola's Android-based devices violates a patent that the Redmond-based company holds on this particular function.
Google replied to the expansion of Microsoft's patent lawsuit saying that while it would like to "focus on innovation, not litigation", the Mountain View-based company are prepared to "vigorously defend against any amended complaint Microsoft files". Game on, in other words.
Apple settle with Swiss Federal Railways SBB over the use of the railway station clock on the iPad and iPhone
Apple have reached an agreement with the Swiss Federal Railways SBB, where the Cupertino-based company will have the right to use the SBB station clock on iOS-based devices. The two company's have reached a license agreement over the iconic clock.
In order for Apple to use the SBB station clock on iOS-based devices, the Swiss Federal Railways SBB and Apple reached, agreed and signed a license agreement. The iconic Railway station clock was built in 1944 by engineer and designer Hand Hilfiker.
Hilfiker designed the clock for the SBB, and is iconic for both the Railway, and the country. Apple have agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to the SBB for the use of the clock, where we'll probably never know just how much the Cupertino-based company paid to copy someone else's design. Clocks do have a rounded design...
AMD didn't report strong earnings in the last quarter, and now sources are telling AllThingsD that the CPU and GPU maker could reduce their workforce by as much as 30%. AllThingsD cite sources familiar with the company's plans that AMD will announce next week that they would slice between 20-30% of their employees, which could see up to 3,300 jobs disappear.
The sources have said that the cuts would affect employees in the engineering and sales departments, which have until now, been unaffected by previous rounds of cuts. The AllThingsD's sources also state something a little frightening for the company, that these cuts in the engineering and sales departments could be bad enough that it would force AMD to scale back some of their product offerings.
AMD are set to announce their quarterly earnings on October 18, but the announcement of the employee cuts could be announced a week later on October 25. AMD CEO Rory Read is rumored to have bought in a team of business consultants from McKinsey & Company and BCG to advice the struggling chipmaker. AllThingsD's sources claims that the mood over at team red is not great right now, with employees having feared cuts for a while now, with the source saying "there are a lot of nervous people, and not a lot of getting done right now".
The numbers were not nice to the gaming industry for the month of September. Research firm NPD Group released numbers that showed the industry slumped as a whole by 24 percent, when compared to the same period last year. Total sales for September, including game discs, consoles, and accessories, amounted to $848.3 million, a far cry from the $1.1 billion during the same period last year.
Looking component by component, the hardware sector suffered the biggest decline compared to last year. Sales of consoles declined roughly 39 percent to $210.9 million. Software, which makes up the largest component of gaming industry sales, declined 18 percent to $497.4 million, down from $609.7 million year-over-year.
Accessories were the least affected, declining only 11 percent. They totaled $139.9 million for the month of September. Microsoft wouldn't let this new bring them down, however, as they announced that the Xbox 360 is still the top selling console for the 21st month in a row.
The WiiU, due out in November, might be able to boost slumping sales. "In mid-September, Nintendo revealed launch details regarding the Wii U," NPD analyst Liam Callahan said yesterday in a statement. "The new console will launch on November 18 and has the potential to reinvigorate retail sales of hardware."
It's important to note that NPD's numbers do not include digital sales.
It's not exactly a pretty scene over at OCZ Technology Group Inc right now as their stock continues to plunge towards being worthless. On Wednesday morning, the stock plunged a massive 42 percent to $1.88, down from a close of $3.15 the day prior. Today, the stock has taken another dive, though not quite as large.
At the beginning of today's trading, OCZ's stock was valued at $1.84. It has now dived nearly 22 percent to $1.46, at the time of writing. But why is OCZ's stock in the toilet all of a sudden? Well, it stems from OCZ delaying the filing of its financial results for the second quarter for fiscal year 2013.
In the press release detailing the delay, OCZ warned investors that the second quarter revenue would be "materially lower" than the guidance released on September 5, 2012. This decrease is blamed upon "the impact of customer incentive programs." The company now expects to report a "significant net loss."
How come nobody saw this coming? Well, some did. If you look to the previous quarter, OCZ claimed they were making 30 percent margins, though there was basically no way this was possible, considering they were selling drives much cheaper than the competition when all rebates and customer incentives were factored in.
If the current estimates are true, there are over seven billion people on Earth. According to the UN telecom agency, there are around 6 billion cell phone subscriptions, which works out to around one for 86 of every 100 people.
The International Telecommunication Union said on Thursday that China takes a huge chunk out of those users, representing 1 billion subscribers alone. India is close in second place, where they're expected to cross the 1 billion milestone later this year.
The Geneva-based agency says that 2.3 billion people, or roughly one third of the estimated 7 billion on Earth, were using the Internet by the end of 2011. The ITU has also said that 70% of people who use the Internet live in wealthier, industrialized countries, compared to just 24% who live in poorer, developing nations.
DigiTimes is reporting that upstream component makers are concerned that the PC replacement trend that is expected to spark when Windows 8 drops in two weeks time may not actually happen this year at all.
They're estimating that it will begin in the first quarter of 2013, according to DigiTimes' "sources from upstream supply chain". They say:
Since an operating system usually needs to have serious debugging after launch, the sources believe consumers may hold back their new PC purchases until some time later and their actions would impact demand for Windows 8-based systems in the fourth quarter.
Component makers do have "high hopes" that Windows 8 will bring increased growth. But I'm sure that if you look at the market, the 'replace your desktop PC' days are over. Throw an SSD into a 2-3 year old machine and it's like new. There have to be some serious changes to the standard desktop PC before I can see huge growth coming from Windows 8. Such as a serious drop in the price of touchscreen-based LCD screens.
Eric Schmidt, Google chairman and former CEO of the company spoke with AllThingsD yesterday where he talked of the Apple vs. Android war, saying that it is the industry's "defining content" and that Google are currently ahead in this David vs. Goliath battle.
The former Google CEO points out that there are four times as many Android-based phones than there are iPhone's, with up to 1.3 million activations per day. With this momentum, the Mountain View-based company are set to reach the enormous one billion mobile devices activated.
Schmidt does state that the resulting fight between Apple and Google will only benefit the consumer, and when talking about Apple Maps he has said that Apple are now discovering that "maps are really hard", and that "Apple should've kept our maps... They're better". The Google chairman also cited something he called the "gang of four" which consists of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google which are "all different, all competitors, [and] all making enormous investments".
Schmidt also kept Microsoft off that list, and called the omission of the Windows maker "deliberate". He added that the Redmond-based company is a "well-run company", but they have not released any "state-of-the-art products" in any market yet.
Apple has s suffered another loss of sorts as one of the post-trial sales bans instituted by Judge Koh has been overturned by an appeals court. The federal appeals court ruled that Apple would not suffer significant harm by the infringement that was found during the trial, and as such removed the sales ban.
The Next Web put it beautifully when they described Samsung's arguments: "Samsung argued, somewhat humiliatingly, that the sales of the Galaxy Nexus were so poor that they didn't pose a threat to Apple's iPhone and that the unified search feature was not essential to the success of its device. The appeals court apparently agrees."
An excerpt of the official order:
…it may very well be that the accused product would sell almost as well without incorporating the patented feature. And in that case, even if the competitive injury that results from selling the accused device is substantial, the harm that flows from the alleged infringement (the only harm that should count) is not.
The ruling that contributed the most to the ban was in regards to patent 8086604, which deals with a unified search method. The idea here is that the Galaxy Nexus would sell nearly as well, if not as well, as it is currently even if it didn't implement the infringing feature. It seems like Samsung keeps getting more and more reason to launch an appeal.
OCZ, a maker of popular solid state drives, lost their CEO recently, but not to fear as the Board of Directors has picked a new replacement from its Board of Directors. Enter Ralph Schmitt, the former CEO of PLX Technologies up until Monday. Tuesday morning, the new OCZ CEO held a conference call and laid out his plans.
"Our actions will be based on innovation, quality, and profitability. Our focus will be to further penetrate OEMs and the enterprise market," he said on the conference call. "OCZ is committed to supporting our customers. We have already made great strides in discontinuing value products and non-core products. Focusing strategy on enterprise. We have lost credibility but we will win it back. We will focus on predictable, sustainable, & profitable results, but this will not happen overnight."
OCZ is planning to trim away at its value offerings as a company of its size just can't have as many as they do. Along with this, OCZ had offered customer incentives that were also too big. The CEO is looking to make the company profitable and work on its image.
In a world completely dominated by smart devices like smartphones and tablets, less and less people are buying traditional PCs. The "post-PC" era has been touted for quite sometime, but the market has been doing well, until now.
ISH iSuppli's numbers for annual PC sales have dropped for the first time in over ten years, since 2001. iSuppli's numbers aren't devastating, representing a drop of only 1.2% from this time last year, but it's the first decline since 2001. Last year saw a 2.2% growth, so a 1.2% drop is actually something to talk about.
Expectations of growth were pushed and relied on the economy recovering somewhat, Intel's huge push of Ultrabooks and more. Manufacturers shipped 348 million PCs so far, down from 352 million of 2011's numbers. iSuppli does ask some questions:
- What impact will Windows 8 have on PC sales Q4 this year?
- Will tablets continue their rise in popularity during the holidays, further displacing PC sales?
- Will the interest in Ultrabooks be quelled by ongoing financial hardship?
Ultrabooks are still quite the rage, even with tablets taking all of the press of late. GBI Research is making the claim that Ultrabook sales will compose nearly half of all notebook sales in the world by 2016, mainly due to dropping costs and increased reliance on cloud computing offerings like Google Drive.
Ultrabooks are a specific marketing name for a class of notebooks which meet strict size, weight, boot speed, and other requirements set forth by Intel. Intel has set aside more than $300 million to advertise Ultrabooks and to help smaller computer manufacturers develop their own versions of the pint-sized powerhouse.
In 2016, GBI Research expects Ultrabook sales to reach an incredible 148.1 million, up from just 1.3 million last year. For this year, the Americas are expected to buy 1.55 million alone, which will make up 42 percent of the global market. Are Ultrabooks your cup of tea? Or do you prefer a tablet? Let us know in the comments!
Google has been in the sights of European regulators for a while now and they have now offered up a concession to avoid going to court to battle anti-trust allegations. EU regulators are upset with Google returning links to its own services when a user searches on Google. Often times, these Google-owned results are returned at the top of the list.
This is what causes the EU regulators to scream anti-trust. While they do have a somewhat legitimate concern, Google has managed to skirt the issue thus far. The latest offering from Google is that they will brand the results that point to services offered by the search giant. Whether or not this will be enough to placate regulators remains to be seen, however.
If this isn't enough to make regulators happy, then Google will likely face a legal battle by the end of the year. EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has recently said that the negotiations can't keep dragging on as they are, and a decision to go to court would be handed down by the end of the year.
What are your thoughts? Is it a problem that Google offers up results to its services ahead of the competition?
If you haven't noticed by now, Microsoft are going through a period of change. This is something I truly applaud the Redmond-based company of doing, as it really is required as the competition has changed, and is constantly changing at every turn.
We've now had Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, on a new letter to shareholders explaining that Microsoft now sees its own devies as crucial to the company as anything else. He adds that there's a "fundamental shift" in how the company's employees works and he says that investors should expect Microsoft to periodically make "specific devices for specific purposes", like Surface, or Xbox.
This new shift in strategy doesn't mean Microsoft are ditching Windows, it is actually looking like it's quite the opposite - they're listening to their customers, and shifting toward a new era of energy that looks to help all areas of Microsoft's business. This includes Windows, Office, tablets, gaming, phones and more. Microsoft are looking to deliver premium hardware experiences on all devices. Ballmer says "it truly is a new era at Microsoft. We see an unprecedented amount of opportunity for both this year and the long term…I couldn't be more excited and optimistic."
Microsoft is making a move that only serves to produce confusion in the marketplace. For Windows 8, Microsoft has confirmed that purchases will be made in local currency. However, they also confirmed that purchases on the Xbox 360 would continue to be made in Microsoft Points, the bane of every gamer's existence.
"Microsoft Points continue to be the currency for purchasing content for the Xbox 360 console," a spokesperson told The Verge. This will surely make some people sad, some people mad, and some people confused. Here's the kicker: Xbox Video or Xbox Music will be available for purchase on Windows 8 and Xbox 360, so you will have to use Windows 8 to make the purchases in cash.
It would be so much easier for everyone if Microsoft were to go to strictly cash transactions in the local currency. While Microsoft Points aren't going away quite yet, they are definitely on their way out.
It's time for another update in the ongoing legal battle between Kim Dotcom, founder of MegaUpload, and the US Government. Kim Dotcom and his lawyers requested that the case against him and his company be dismissed upon the grounds that he does not have a United States-based address at which he could be served.
Of course, the courts didn't exactly let him off this easy. In fact, they went as far to say that the absence of a U.S. address under criminal law "does not require a result so extreme as dismissal" of an indictment. It looks like, for now, Kim Dotcom and his lawyers will have to continue fighting the charges brought by the US Government.
Those charges, for the uninitiated, include criminal copyright charges that claim Kim Dotcom encouraged users to upload pirated content to the service so that he could make money from the advertising and premium subscription fees. Megaupload argues that they fall within the safe harbor provision of the DMCA.
Only time will tell how this case will end. However, it could be a long time off as Kim Dotcom's extradition hearing was pushed off until March 2013, more than a year after the initial raid on his New Zealand mansion.