Will Google Grow From Mobile?

July 28, 2014 by admin  
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Google Inc  is the more properly positioned than any company to benefit from the shift to mobile, increased local advertising and wearables, analysts said after the search giant posted its 18th straight quarter of 20 percent-plus revenue growth.

At least eight brokerages raised their price targets on the stock on Friday by as much as $75, to a high of $745.

The company, which is also set to benefit from the so-called “internet of things”, said that second-quarter revenue rose 22 percent to $15.96 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $15.61 billion.

Growth was driven by the company’s core search business, YouTube and product-listing ads, which combined to drive three times as much mobile traffic for merchants compared with last year, Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.

Brokerage Jefferies maintained its “buy” rating and $700 price target on the stock.

Of the 46 analysts covering Google, 36 have a “buy” or a higher rating on the stock and 10 have a “hold”. There are no “sell” ratings, according to StarMine data.

Google earns most of its revenue from advertising.

The number of “paid clicks” by consumers on ads serviced by Google increased 25 percent year-on-year in the quarter.

However, the average price of the ads declined 6 percent as ad rates on mobile phones are typically cheaper than traditional online ads because of their smaller screens.

“Google is successfully transitioning its business from PC to mobile, and is arguably in a more favorable position in mobile than it was in PC, which should eventually be reflected in a higher multiple,” Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler wrote in a client note.

Google also owns Android, the world’s most-used mobile software, and YouTube, the most popular video-streaming service.

Other online companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc  are also revamping their advertising businesses to take advantage of the shift to mobile devices.

But Google has established unusually deep competitive “moats” around its business through scale, aggressive product innovation and substantial investment, RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a research note.

Google’s capital investment budget has topped $17 billion over the past five years, and the company has spent about $13 billion on research, according to analysts.

The company is also spending big to push into new markets with innovations such as wearable computers, ultra high-speed internet access and home automation – the “internet of things.”

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Verizon Wins Top Honors

July 23, 2014 by admin  
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RootMetrics awarded Verizon Wireless its seal of approval in its latest biannual ranking of wireless network performance in cities across the U.S.

Verizon ranked first or was tied for first in 115 of 125 cities for overall network performance during the first half of 2014, leading all three other national carriers — AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Sprint didn’t finish first in any of the cities, while Verizon tied with either AT&T or T-Mobile, or both, in 56. That meant that AT&T was the only first place finisher in 59 cities, including major cities such as Cincinnati, Colorado Springs, Colo., Daytona Beach, Fla., Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Seattle.

RootMetrics found that Verizon finished first in 23 of 50 airport network evaluations for the first half of the year and tied for first in seven out of 50 airports. Verizon won or tied at four major airports: Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver.

Verizon has its 4G LTE network in 500 U.S. cities, providing access to 97% of the U.S. population. RootMetrics used devices capable of connecting to Verizon’s XLTE network, now operating in 300 cities.

XLTE uses AWS spectrum.

RootMetrics is an independent research company that uses testers driving in cars and in stationary locations, both indoors and outdoors, to conduct thousands of tests in each city to evaluate reliability and speed of connections and call, data and text performance. The company uses unmodified smartphones purchased off-the-shelf from operator stores.

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Is Apple Now Copying Google

June 25, 2014 by admin  
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PC Advisor has been going through Apple’s latest iOS 8 operating system and is finding features which appear to be a direct lift from Google. Of course it has to say that Apple is being brilliant and original about stealing the ideas. After it points out that Apple did not invent the music player but it did steal it better than anyone else.

The top 5 iOS 8 features Apple stole from Android include:

Typing suggestions: Start typing and suggested words will appear letter by letter. Hit the correct word and you save the time it would have taken to type the while word and it is a pretty intelligent selection process.

Okay Google: Hotword detection is also the basis of the Google Now Launcher that shipped with the Nexus 5. As long as your phone is awake, saying ‘Okay Google’ wakes up the voice assistant. In iOS 8 Apple has added something similar in the guise of ‘Hey Siri’, the ability to immediately engage Siri simply via a voice command.

Third-party keyboards: Google has long given Android users the opportunity to explore the world outside its own platform. Apple is allowing the same thing on its system now.

Widgets: Widgets have always been part of Android and Apple finally is letting it happen. Of course Apple is not entirely prepared to let you have full control of your device’s desktop. iOS 8 widgets are small app extensions that take up a spot in the Notification Center. Not as good as Android but better than a poke in the eye with a short stick.

Useful notifications: Android has long allowed developers to add up to two action buttons to a notification. So when the message pops up telling you that you have a message you can reply right from the notification, the relevant app opening as required. Now Apple can do that.

While it is accepted that ideas are copied, at least until one of the sides turns into a Patent Troll, what is strange about Apple is that it markets itself as the innovation hub that others follow. It appears that if this was ever true it is not the case now.

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Broadcom Going Smart Devices

June 19, 2014 by admin  
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Broadcom has come out with a new “smart” chip which it hopes will be at the cutting edge of wearable PCs, such as smartwatches, heart and blood-pressure monitor.

Dubbed Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) smart chip, Broadcom’s designs are supposed to support wireless charging for devices that are too small to connect via a power cord. The devices run an ARM Cortex M3 applications processor that reduces size and cost for OEMs and supports A4WP wireless charging and enhanced data security modes in addition to secure over-the-air firmware updates.

This is an integrated ARM CM3 microcontroller unit with radio frequency and Embedded Bluetooth Smart Stack, all on a single chip. Brian Bedrosian, Broadcom senior director of Embedded Wireless and Wireless Connectivity said that his outfit wanted to push the boundaries on what wearables are capable of with our new smart chip. Broadcom competes in the marketplace with companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor, Marvell and Xilinx.

The Broadcom WICED Smart chip is currently sampling with evaluation boards and SDKs. It is expected to become available sometime in 2014.

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Microsoft Updates Office Online

April 28, 2014 by admin  
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Microsoft is updating its Web-based Office Online suite, closing the features gap with the main Office 365 and Office 2013 suites installed on users’ devices.

“We know you want features that allow you to move as seamlessly as possible between Office Online and the desktop,” wrote Kaberi Chowdhury, an Office Online technical product manager, in a blog post Monday.

Improvements to Excel Online include the ability to insert new comments, edit and delete existing comments, and properly open and edit spreadsheets that contain Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code.

Meanwhile, Word Online has a new “pane” where users can see all comments in a document, and reply to them or mark them as completed. It also has a refined lists feature that is better able to recognize whether users are continuing a list or starting one. In addition, footnotes and end notes can now be added more conveniently inline.

PowerPoint Online has a revamped text editor that offers a layout view that more closely resembles the look of finished slides, according to Microsoft. It also has improved performance and video functionality, including the ability to play back embedded YouTube videos.

For users of OneNote Online, Microsoft is now adding the ability to print out the notes they’ve created with the application.

Microsoft is also making Word Online, PowerPoint Online and OneNote Online available via Google’s Chrome Web Store so that Chrome browser users can add them to their Chrome App launcher. Excel Online will be added later.

The improvements in Office Online will be rolled out to users this week, starting Monday.

Office Online, which used to be called Office Web Apps, competes directly against Google Docs and other browser-based office productivity suites. It’s meant to offer users a free, lightweight, Web-based version of these four applications if they don’t have the desktop editions on the device they’re using at that moment.

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Microsoft Issues New Policies

April 11, 2014 by admin  
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Microsoft Corp, under fire for accessing an employee’s private Hotmail account to prove he was illegally passing computer code to a blogger, has said it will now refer all suspicious activity on its email services to law enforcement.

The decision, announced by head lawyer Brad Smith on Friday, reverses Microsoft’s initial reaction to complaints last week, when it laid out a plan to refer such cases to an unidentified former federal judge, and proceed to open a suspect email account only if that person saw evidence to justify it.

“Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves,” said Smith, in a blog post on the software company’s website. “Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.”

Microsoft – which has recently cast itself as a defender of customer privacy – was harshly criticized last week by civil liberties groups after court documents made public in the prosecution of Alex Kibkalo in Seattle federal court for leaking trade secrets showed that Microsoft had accessed the defendant’s email account before taking the matter to legal authorities.

The company said last week its actions were within its legal rights under the terms of use of its email services, but has now acknowledged that its actions raised concerns about customer privacy.

The issue is poignant for Microsoft, which routinely criticizes Google Inc for serving up ads based on the content of users’ Gmail correspondence.

It has also been campaigning for more transparency in the legal process through which U.S. intelligence agencies can get access to email accounts following the revelations of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

“While our own search was clearly within our legal rights, it seems apparent that we should apply a similar principle and rely on formal legal processes for our own investigations involving people who we suspect are stealing from us,” said Smith in his blog. “Therefore, rather than inspect the private content of customers ourselves in these instances, we should turn to law enforcement and their legal procedures.”

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Virtru Goes Office 365

April 8, 2014 by admin  
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Virtru has added Microsoft’s Office 365 and Outlook Desktop services to its growing list of compatible email platforms available on its encryption product.

The company, headquartered in Washington, D.C. and launched in January, is targeting people using major email providers who want stronger privacy controls for more secure communication.

The service is designed to be easy to use for end users who may not have the technical gumption to set up PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), a standard for signing and encrypting content.

Virtru is compatible with most major webmail providers, including Google’s Gmail, Yahoo’s Mail and Microsoft’s Outlook webmail, which replaced Hotmail.

Emails sent using Virtru through those services would look like gibberish, providing a greater degree of privacy. Law enforcement or other entities would not be able to read the content unless they could obtain the key.

Virtru uses a browser extension to encrypt email on a person’s computer or mobile device. The content is decrypted after recipients receive a key, which is distributed by Virtru’s centralized key management server.

Although Virtru handles key management, the company is working on a product that would allow that task to be managed on-site for users, as some administrators would be uncomfortable with another entity managing their keys.

Virtru has said it put aside funds to contest government orders such as a National Security Letter or law enforcement request that are not based on a standard of probable cause.

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Do Chip Makers Have Cold Feet?

March 27, 2014 by admin  
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It is starting to look like chip makers are having cold feet about moving to the next technology for chipmaking. Fabricating chips on larger silicon wafers is the latest cycle in a transition, but according to the Wall Street Journal chipmakers are mothballing their plans.

Companies have to make massive upfront outlays for plants and equipment and they are refusing, because the latest change could boost the cost of a single high-volume factory to as much as $10 billion from around $4 billion. Some companies have been reining in their investments, raising fears the equipment needed to produce the new chips might be delayed for a year or more.

ASML, a maker of key machines used to define features on chips, recently said it had “paused” development of gear designed to work with the larger wafers. Intel said it has slowed some payments to the Netherlands-based company under a deal to help develop the technology.

Gary Dickerson, chief executive of Applied Materials said that the move to larger wafers “has definitely been pushed out from a timing standpoint”

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Is Ethernet For Autos?

March 11, 2014 by admin  
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The most ubiquitous local area networking technology used by large companies may be packing its bags for a road trip.

As in-vehicle electronics become more sophisticated to support autonomous driving, cameras, and infotainment systems, Ethernet has become a top contender for connecting them.

For example, the BMW X5 automobile, released last year, used single-pair twisted wire, 100Mbps Ethernet to connect its driver-assistance cameras.

Paris-based Parrot, which supplies mobile accessories to automakers BMW, Hyundai and others, has developed in-car Ethernet. Its first Ethernet-connected systems could hit the market as soon as 2015, says Eric Riyahi, executive vice president of global operations.

Parrot’s new Ethernet-based Audio Video Bridging (AVB) technology uses Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach automotive Ethernet controller chips.

The AVB technology’s network management capabilities allows automakers to control the timing of data streams between specific network nodes in a vehicle and controls the bandwidth in order to manage competing data traffic.

Ethernet’s greater bandwidth could provide drivers with turn-by-turn navigation while a front-seat passenger streams music from the Internet, and each back-seat passenger watches streaming videos on separate displays.

“In-car Ethernet is seen as a very promising way to provide the needed bandwidth for coming new applications within the fields of connectivity, infotainment and safety,” said Hans Alminger, senior manager for Diagnostics & ECU Platform at Volvo, in a statement.

Ethernet was initially used by automakers only for on-board diagnostics. But as automotive electronics advanced, the technology has found a place in advanced driver assistance systems and infotainment platforms.

Many manufacturers also use Ethernet to connect rear vision cameras to a car’s infotainment or safety system, said Patrick Popp, chief technology officer of Automotive at TE Connectivity, a maker of car antennas and other automobile communications parts.

Currently, however, there are as many as nine proprietary auto networking specifications, including LIN, CAN/CAN-FD, MOST and FlexRay. FlexRay, for example, has a 10Mbps transmission rate. Ethernet could increase that 10 fold or more.

The effort to create a single vehicle Ethernet standard is being lead by Open Alliance and the IEEE 802.3 working group. The groups are working to establish 100Mbps and 1Gbps Ethernet as de facto standards.

The first automotive Ethernet standard draft is expected this year.

The Open Alliance claims more than 200 members, including General Motors, Ford, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen. Jaguar Land Rover, Renault, Volvo, Bosch, Freescale and Harman.

Broadcom, which makes electronic control unit chips for automobiles, is a member of the Open Alliance and is working on the effort to standardize automotive Ethernet.

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Does B&N Have A Buyer?

March 6, 2014 by admin  
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Investment firm G Asset Management said on Friday that it had offered to acquire a 51 percent stake in either Barnes & Noble Inc or in the bookseller’s Nook digital business.

The little known firm said the proposal for Barnes & Noble as a whole would be for $22 per share, which would value the top U.S. bookstore chain at $1.32 billion. It comes after earlier proposal in November for $20 per share, its second.

G Asset, which not did detail how it would finance a deal, also made an alternative offer to buy Nook for $5 per share, saying spinning off the digital books and device business would create “substantial shareholder value.”

The latest offer for the whole company would value Barnes & Noble at $1.32 billion, while the proposal for Nook would value that unit at about $300 million.

The firm has previously pressed the company to spin off its Nook unit from Barnes & Noble’s bookstore and college units.

Michael Glickstein, G Asset’s Chief Investment Officer, and the only person listed on the firm’s website, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Barnes & Noble shares were up 5.8 percent at $17.75 in afternoon trading after going as high as $19.12 after the news was released, suggesting Wall Street analysts were doubtful a deal would get done.

A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman declined to comment beyond confirming that the company had received G Asset’s offer.

The original Nook device was launched in 2009 to help Barnes & Noble fend off Amazon.com Inc and allowed the retailer to win as much as 27 percent of the U.S. e-books market.

But the company lost hundreds of millions of dollars trying to keep pace with deep-pocketed rivals such as Amazon, Apple Inc and Google Inc. It has scaled back its Nook business and focusing more on content and software.

Two years ago, Microsoft Corp invested $300 million in the Nook unit for a 17.6 percent stake, valuing the division at $1.7 billion. In late 2012, Pearson PLC took a 5 percent stake in Nook for $89.5 million.

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