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According to the latest report from mobile research specialist Juniper Research, global smartphone shipments are expected to swell this year to 1.2 billion units. This number is up 19% over the 985 million smartphones shipped in 2013.
This 19% growth is thanks to the increase in shipments in the emerging markets, where smartphones shipments are driven by low-cost economy ($75-$150) and ultra-economy (sub-$75) smartphones. Developed markets have been seeing a sign of slowing growth for a while now, as everyone has a smartphone, with some having no reason to upgrade.
Juniper Research does note that both Samsung and Apple have a massive 45% chunk of the global smartphone shipment pie, which is a mammoth number. The research specialist has said that the average price of a smartphone will slowly decline by 2019 to around $274, which will be thanks to increased advances in technology, as well as new competition.
If Yahoo refuses to turn over user data to the U.S. government, the company faces a fine up to $250,000 per day. The National Security Agency (NSA) wants Yahoo and other companies to adhere to new surveillance rules they've created, but Yahoo officials said the agency's efforts are unconstitutional.
A federal judge recently unsealed wording relating to the case, which Yahoo hailed as a minor victory for transparency - an ongoing fight that the NSA will continue, likely at the daily expense of Yahoo. For more than half a year, Yahoo said the government's demand to turn over user information regarding non-U.S. citizens living overseas was unconstitutional - breaching the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure.
The ongoing battle between invasive federal monitoring began years before former NSA analyst Edward Snowden outlined widespread and systematic spying operations. Yahoo had to fight every step of the way to challenge the US government's surveillance efforts," according to Ron Bell, Yahoo general counsel.
Oculus VR is pushing for the future of VR to be awesome, so what better way than donating millions of dollars to a University to build a new VR lab? That's exactly what Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR has done, donating $31 million to the University of Maryland.
The money will be used to build a new computer science building that will feature a VR lab. Iribe had the idea of donating the funds after the acquisition made by Facebook in March of this year for $2 billion, after he met with Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, where he walked around the University and noticed that not much had changed around the place.
Iribe met Michael Antonov at the time, who is now the Chief Software Architect of Oculus VR, who will be donating $4 million the university to help with the construction of the building, and establish a scholarship. Iribe spoke with Business Insider, where he said: "It will have a big focus on robotics and computer vision, computer graphics, and human computer interaction. In the past, computers have been used regularly as a tool, so you don't need to bring in psychologists or the biotech side of things to understand how the computer affects the brain in order to make a great operating system. But in VR, you actually do".
The Bank of England is worried bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies could suffer long-term fraud potentially hurting the British economy. There also is a higher level of deflation using the currency, as it's not supported by a banking system - and with more than 1 million bitcoin users across the world - businesses are willing to gamble with the digital currency.
Although volatility and additional fees for transactions are likely with bitcoin, the Bank of England is more concerned about the fixed supply of bitcoins for customers.
"The inability of the money supply to vary in response to demand would likely cause greater volatility in prices and real activity," according to the Bank of England. "A significant risk to digital currencies' sustained use (is) that they will not be able to compete on cost without degenerating... to a monopoly miner, thereby... exposing them to risk of system-wide fraud."
An interesting rumor is emerging, that Microsoft will acquire Mojang, the developer behind the super-successful Minecraft. The Wall Street Journal is behind the report, which gives it some weight, which says that a "person familiar with the matter" has noted that the deal is worth over $2 billion.
Other than that, there's not much to report on now, but you can be sure we'll have more to say if and when this happens.
Ebay announced that Braintree, a former competitor of PayPal and current subsidiary, will begin accepting bitcoins sometime in the next few months. There won't be direct bitcoin integration via PayPal or the Ebay marketplace, as Ebay reportedly was able to answer regulatory questions and other issues that had to be addressed.
"We're announcing PayPal's first foray into bitcoin," said Bill Ready, EBay Braintree unit chief, during a recent conference. "Over the coming months we'll allow our merchants to accept bitcoin. On the consumer side it will be a sleek experience."
Braintree customers include Uber and Airbnb, and will be able to accept bitcoins if they choose to opt in. It's a curious move that could lead to bitcoin integration within PayPal and eBay in the future, depending how things with Braintree go.
The lure of bitcoins has led to greater interest from consumers and businesses, as bitcoin ATMs begin to pop up for converting bitcoins to cash or cash to bitcoin savings. If ATMs continue to grow in popularity, bitcoin supporters hope to see a major milestone as cryptocurrencies become mainstream.
"Having these machines in stores, especially quality stores that sell quality items, is really going to raise the profile of bitcoin," said Matt Russell, CMO of PYC, a bitcoin ATM operator in New York. "We'd be fools to not think that marketing is a part of this."
Bitcoin ATMs are being launched in metropolitan areas such as, Seattle, Austin, New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas - and companies want to drive adoption into hotels and other tourist locations. Along with U.S. cities, the ATMs are finding their way to Spain, France, England, and other EU nations - but the ATM industry is hoping to see more industry insight for the blossoming market.
Things just got messy between NVIDIA and Samsung, with NVIDIA suing the South Korean giant over alleged patent infringements. NVIDIA has included Qualcomm in its lawsuit, which has been filed with the US District Court in Delaware, as well as with the International Trade Commission.
Bright Side of News' Anshel Sag reports: "NVIDIA is alleging that Samsung's devices that use Qualcomm's chips are infringing upon NVIDIA's own technologies that have been patented. Not just that, but by filing a complaint with the ITC, NVIDIA is seeking that such devices that infringe upon these patents be banned from importation and sale within the United States." What is worse, is that NVIDIA is claiming that Samsung is infringing on their patents on some of hte most popular handset on the market, and some of which were just announced by Samsung a couple of days ago.
These include the Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, and Galaxy S4 as well as the Galaxy Tab S and Galaxy Note Pro... that's a lot of Galaxies. NVIDIA continues, claiming that Samsung's Exynos processors violated seven different patents, as well as Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors. The Snapdragon processors in question are include the Snapdragon S4 (using the Adreno 225), Snapdragon 400 (using the Adreno 305), Snapdragon 600 (using the Adreno 320), Snapdragon 800 and 801 (using the Adreno 330), and Snapdragon 805 (using the Adreno 420).
Online travel agency CheapAir became the first in its industry to accept bitcoin, and now has opened up Dogecoin and Litecoin payment options. Since embracing bitcoin in November 2013, CheapAir has generated $1.5 million in cryptocurrency sales, which is why the company has decided to support Dogecoin and Litecoin.
When consumers typically think of cryptocurrencies, bitcoin is the first that comes to mind - but Litecoin, Dogecoin, and scores of others are gaining a strong following from consumers and businesses. Customers purchasing via cryptocurrencies can still mix-and-match flights from multiple airlines, and is still supported by the CheapAir Price Drop Payback offering.
"We try to make travel as easy as possible for customers, and letting people pay the way they want to pay is a big part of that," said Jeff Klee, CheapAir CEO, in a statement. "Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin represent promising technologies that can make transacting online faster, easier, less expensive, and more secure. We admire cryptocurrency early adopters and we're thrilled to support them."
Catcher Technology, a company based in Taiwan that operates factories in China for Apple, has been accused of labor rights and workplace violations. Catcher Technology manufactures metal casings for the Apple iPad, and employees worked a large amount of overtime and were forced to handle toxic chemicals without proper safety procedures or training.
Apple pointed out worrisome problems in the factory in April 2013, but the problems have only worsened since then, according to a China Labor Watch report. Apple is planning to send inspectors to the facility, located in the eastern city of Suqian, to ensure workplace laws are enforced.
Companies that use manufacturing facilities based in China used to turn a blind-eye to workplace violations - but increased pressure has called for Apple, Samsung, and other corporations to ensure their partners are operating more fairly. However, reports of illegal workplace behavior continue to surface, sometimes at a startling pace.