Broadcom unveils new SoCs that could bring LTE to mid-range phones

Charles Gantt | Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Feb 10, 2014 4:00 PM CST

For the most part, LTE connectivity has widely been reserved for the high-end smartphone market which is generally comprised of phones in the >$400 price range. Broadcom says that with the release of its new M320 and M340 system-on-chip processors, LTE could finally come to the low to mid-range smartphone market segment.

"We project that the LTE baseband market will register about 64 percent year-on-year growth in 2014 to reach over 500 million units," said Sravan Kundojjala, Senior Analyst, Handset Component Technologies service at Strategy Analytics. "Broadcom is one of the only players with a mature carrier-ready multimode LTE SoC, the engineering expertise and the worldwide scale required to deploy complete LTE platforms. The new Broadcom turnkey design will help accelerate the adoption of LTE worldwide and make high-performance, yet affordable devices available to the broader market."

The new M320 and M340 chips feature dual and quad-core processors respectively as well as 150Mb/s LTE radios built on board and Broadcom says that it has already integrated the processors with Android 4.4 KitKat, so OEMs will not have to worry about software support. While no mention was made of which OEMs might be utilizing the chips in upcoming phones, it did say that it has sent out sample units to "leading" manufacturers, so one would expect that to mean Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and Nokia have all gotten samples.

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iPhone 5's loaded with Flappy Bird auctioning for $100k on eBay

Charles Gantt | Software & Apps | Feb 10, 2014 9:36 AM CST

While Flappy Bird may be gone from the App Store, its still available on thousands of iPhones around the world. With Flappy Birds quick rise in popularity combined with its abrupt end, there is no doubt that there are those who are willing to pay handsomely for a copy of the game they never got to download.

After the game was pulled from both marketplaces yesterday, iPhone's began popping up on eBay with the game installed. Surprisingly many of these phones quickly sold for anywhere between $400 to upwards of $2000, but the biggest surprise came when one phone quickly climbed to $10,000 and continued to rise from there. At the time of this writing, the price is sitting at $99,000 with 74 bids in total and over six days left on its auction clock.

I have bid on some crazy stupid stuff on eBay before, but spending $100,000 on an iPhone to be able to play a simple game that amounts to noting more than a rip-off of a rip-off takes the cake. In my town, $100k will buy you a fairly new 1500 square foot home, with enough left over for an economy-class car. On a side note, if anyone is looking for a slightly used HTC One with Flappy Bird installed, I know where one might be for sale for a cool $98,000.

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HTC to concentrate on $150-$300 smartphones this year

HTC had some bad times last year, but the Taiwanese smartphone maker is looking to right wrongs in 2014. HTC will make more mid-range smartphones this year, selling them for a cheaper price than its current models.

HTC's Chief Financial Officer, Chang Chia-Lin, said that the company will sell products in the $150-$300 price range in both existing and developing market. HTC hopes this will turn the company around from its problems from last year, where in saw its global market share drop to just 2%, its stock price dive 80%, and its profits slide 83% in Q2 of 2013, from the previous year. HTC co-founder and chairperson Cher Wang, when speaking with Reuters, said that HTC's "problem" last year was "concentrating on [its] flagship".

Out of HTC's entire range in China, just two of them retail for under $150 - where 21 of its handsets retail for over $500. Wang said that with HTC focusing on higher-end models, it saw the company miss "a huge chunk of the mid-tier markets" in 2013.

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Dyson wants to see 'advanced household androids' in every home

You might have heard of the brand Dyson - which makes some of the best-engineered vacuum cleaners and hand dryers - with British entrepreneur, Sir James Dyson, outlining his latest vision for what he sees as the future of households: advanced household androids.

Dyson envisions a future where this autonomous robots will clean your house, guard your property, and as the technology improves, many more household tasks. Dyson has announced a new $8.2 million robotics center at Imperial College London, where the inventor says the technological revolution is coming, and he sees a future where every home in Britain is filled with "robots that understand the world around them".

Dyson's team of engineers are now working on the first multi-purpose household android with scientists in Japan, where researchers at Waseda University have just unveiled their Twendy-One robot, which is capable of obeying voice commands, cooking, and providing nursing care. Dyson employs close to 2,000 engineers and scientists, with his plans involving the new center to overcome the problem with robotic "vision", so that the androids could see, and react to everything around them.

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Twitter, social media play an important role in 2014 Olympics

Michael Hatamoto | Internet & Websites | Feb 9, 2014 5:24 PM CST

Social media plays an important role for viewers, businesses, and sponsors of major international events, with the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, providing a great opportunity for Twitter and Facebook. Twitter gives smaller countries and lesser known Olympic athletes a way to share their love and passion for their sports with new fans - and give sponsors additional return-on-investment.

"The social media experience it's all about time and efficiency," said Justin Maas, fishbat Client Relations VP, in a press statement. "By making it easier for users to retrieve the information they want, Twitter has added value to its site. Twitter is essential for gathering news. Adding special pages for Olympics athletes and events was a smart move by the social network."

Journalists and Olympics viewers share stories, results, and interviews with one another - and with mobile content increasing, it's become even easier to share information to Twitter and other social media websites. However, athletes and coaches in Sochi aren't allowed to post audio or video from sporting events or anything happening in the Olympic Village. They can record audio or video for personal reasons, however, it cannot be done with professional recording equipment.

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LG slashes 55-inch OLED TV price by 50 percent in just a few months

Michael Hatamoto | Displays & Projectors | Feb 9, 2014 3:40 PM CST

LG Electronics grabbed headlines when it announced its 55-inch curved OLED HDTV in 2013, which originally sported a $14,999 retail price tag. Early into 2014, LG decided to issue yet another price cut so the TV can be found for $6,999 at major North American electronics e-tailers.

Prior to the 2013 Christmas holiday shopping season, LG cut the TV's retail price from $14,999 down to $8,999 to draw interested buyers with deep pockets. It's no surprise to see the price drop even lower in early 2014, but seeing it slide down to $6,999 in such a short amount of time may be all that is needed to entice some consumers to pull the trigger.

LG's price cut will also make it more competitive with Samsung's rival OLED HDTV that started with a price tag of $8,999.

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Microsoft asks for help migrating people from Windows XP to Windows 8

Michael Hatamoto | Software & Apps | Feb 9, 2014 11:53 AM CST

In less than two months, Microsoft will officially pull the plug on Windows XP after more than 12 years of general availability of the popular OS. XP served as a dependable OS that already surpassed Microsoft's expectations, though the software company is anxious to migrate users to the still struggling Windows 8/8.1 operating system.

Microsoft will officially end support for XP on April 8, and is now urging home users, small and midsize-businesses, and corporations to finally migrate. Consumers that might be more interested in Windows 7 will be discouraged that Microsoft pulled the OS from its retail stores, and stopped selling to OEMs long ago - though many e-tailers still have Windows 7 OS copies - and Windows 7-powered PCs and laptops available.

Despite 8/8.1 frustrating some users, the OS is significantly more secure than XP - and has modern support from hardware and software makers - but XP still controls around 29 percent of the desktop OS market.

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Internet helping giant pizza chains destroy the little guys

Michael Hatamoto | Internet & Websites | Feb 9, 2014 8:34 AM CST

Major pizza chains are able to use customized online ordering systems to woo Internet users, while mom and pop shops are having trouble trying to keep up. Papa John's, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, and other large chains are able to support online ordering using automated systems tested across multiple locations - but smaller local pizza shops traditionally need to use walk-in and telephone orders to handle customer interactions.

Younger customers are more inclined to order delivery through mobile or online services ,with smart TV and game consoles giving customers the chance to easily place orders.

"Most of the small and regional chains who still continue to sell the majority of the pizza in the U.S. simply aren't able to play on these technology platforms with the level of sophistication that we have," said Patrick Doyle, Domino's CEO, during an investor's financial call.

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Cloud computing market to top $121 billion by 2015, report says

Cloud computing is predicted to reach $121.1 billion by 2015, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets, though other analysts guess the market will have a difficult time in 2014. Embracing the cloud gives users the chance to utilize a scalable and cost-effective way to access and share information from any Web-connected device.

For companies trying to sell cloud services to the consumer or B2B markets, it's quickly coming down to service quality. Any company trying to drive innovation in the cloud market must pay attention to good product support, customer support, and clear lines of communication with users.

Companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon tend to get a lot of headlines for their respective cloud efforts, though software providers like Red Hat and CA are expected to have a difficult time growing this year.

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Smart HDTVs, streaming products help drive connected living room

Manufacturers have finally figured out how to attract consumers to connected high-definition TVs (HDTVs), using third-party Web-based apps to draw in users. Smart TVs will capture the "majority of television shipments" this year, and more U.S. consumers will have smart TVs than connected TVs by 2015, according to Business Insider.

Original Web TVs initially seemed appealing, but were wrongly predicted TV viewers would want to use the TV to browse the Internet in a traditional manner. Some companies embrace open platforms, such as LG, Roku and Google Chromecast supporting open source, while Apple, Samsung and other companies rely on closed infrastructures.

Apple TV and Roku set-top boxes lead the market for streaming devices, though Google Chromecast also sold a large number of units. Apple TV racked up 8 million units shipped during all of 2013, while Roku shipped 4.5 million units.

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