Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

By no later than July 2018, Facebook plans to introduce two smart speakers with 15-inch touchscreens. Code-named Aloha and Fiona, the two smart speakers, say sources, are aimed to let family and friends stay in touch with video chat and other social features. With the launch, Facebook joins Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Google and Microsoft, all of which have debuted smart speakers into the global marketplace. According to Canalys, smart speaker sales are on track to double to over 50 million units in 2018. Continue reading Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Google is stepping up its competition with Apple in the smartphone market. The company inked a $1.1 billion deal with Taiwan-based HTC, which added more than 2,000 smartphone specialists. Google will now be able to design more of its own hardware and may position itself to manufacture more custom silicon chips. Up until now, Google has focused on software, and purchased hardware from Samsung Electronics and HTC. Newly added HTC staff will help Google control more of the design and production. Continue reading Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Apple Looks to Other Chip Suppliers Amid Qualcomm Dispute

In the midst of its legal battle with Qualcomm, Apple is designing next year’s products with modem chips from Intel or MediaTek. According to sources, Apple has taken this step because San Diego-based Qualcomm has not supplied the software necessary to test its chips in the Silicon Valley company’s iPhone and iPad prototypes. However, Qualcomm argues this point and is now suing Apple for failing to abide by the terms of its software license. Apple filed a federal suit against Qualcomm in January, claiming it unfairly blocks rivals and charges excessively steep patent royalties. Continue reading Apple Looks to Other Chip Suppliers Amid Qualcomm Dispute

Insiders Say Amazon Close to Launching its Own Sportswear

Amazon is reportedly getting ready to enter the private-label sportswear business, through initial deals with Taiwanese vendors including Makalot Industrial Co. and Eclat Textile Co., say people familiar with the matter. Makalot produces clothing for popular retailers such as The Gap, Kohl’s and Uniqlo, while Eclat makes apparel for Lululemon Athletica, Nike and Under Armour. Insiders suggest that no long-term contracts have been signed yet, since the project is so new and the manufacturers have thus far only produced small amounts as part of a trial.

Continue reading Insiders Say Amazon Close to Launching its Own Sportswear

LINE’s New Clova Wave Smart Speaker Is Available in Japan

LINE, known for its popular WhatsApp-style mobile messaging platform, has released a $125 smart speaker in Japan named Clova Wave, beating Amazon and Google to market. LINE has more than 220 million messaging users in the region. The company first announced the speaker device at a conference in June, after unveiling its new digital assistant, Clova. LINE also earlier announced a smart speaker called Champ, based on the LINE Friends characters, but no release date was revealed. LINE is a subsidiary of Naver Corp., South Korea’s largest web operator and search portal. Continue reading LINE’s New Clova Wave Smart Speaker Is Available in Japan

Tencent Signs Deal With NFL to Livestream Games in China

The National Football League and China’s Tencent Holdings have signed a deal to give the latter exclusive rights to livestream games and other NFL content online for three years. Tencent will stream the games and other content for free on its flagship social media app, WeChat, as well as other mobile and desktop platforms. WeChat has more than 960 million monthly active users. The NFL first made a move into China in 2009 when it produced a 16-episode reality TV series in which a Taiwanese pop band explored football culture. Continue reading Tencent Signs Deal With NFL to Livestream Games in China

Apple’s Unexpectedly Strong Quarter Led by iPad, Mac Sales

Although the June quarter is typically Apple’s weakest, the company’s revenue was up 7.2 percent from a year earlier, mainly due to increased sales of iPads and Macs. The growth was the best in seven consecutive quarters, also in part due to 1.6 percent growth in Apple iPhone sales, representing 41.03 million devices. The growth in sales of iPads and Macs was unanticipated since consumers have focused more on smartphone purchases, with 1.9 percent growth for the former and 6.7 percent growth for the latter. Continue reading Apple’s Unexpectedly Strong Quarter Led by iPad, Mac Sales

Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Verizon completed its $4.48 billion purchase of Yahoo’s Internet business, which it will combine with Internet pioneer AOL. The two merged companies form Oath, a new division led by AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong that will serve about 1.3 billion monthly users. Verizon executive Marni Walden says the strategy is to place the same content in multiple locales to reach the biggest audience possible. “There is a tremendous opportunity to increase viewership of some of these brands,” she said.  Continue reading Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Apple Siri-Run Speaker to Rival Amazon Echo, Google Home

Apple has begun manufacturing of a Siri-controlled smart speaker, say sources, which could debut as early as its June developer conference. The same sources say the new device, which will ship later in the year, will offer virtual surround sound and integration with Apple’s other products, distinguishing it from Amazon, with its Echo, and Alphabet, with its Google Home. Such a device would not only help Apple compete with those rivals, but would create a hub to automate lights and appliances with Apple’s HomeKit. Continue reading Apple Siri-Run Speaker to Rival Amazon Echo, Google Home

Major Cyberattack Hits 150 Countries, Could Keep Spreading

A cyberattack impacted computer systems in more than 150 countries over the weekend. The weapon used to initiate the attack is believed to be based on recently published vulnerabilities stolen from the National Security Agency. The attack, one of the largest ever, took over computers, encrypted their files and demanded payment in Bitcoin of $300 or more. Among the major institutions and government agencies impacted were FedEx in the U.S., the Russian Interior Ministry and Britain’s National Health Service. The attack also hit smaller venues, such as a car manufacturing factory in Romania owned by Renault. Continue reading Major Cyberattack Hits 150 Countries, Could Keep Spreading

Apple Stops Licensing Payments to Chip Provider Qualcomm

After a period of growing tension over their contract, Apple finally told Qualcomm, which provides the iPhone’s main components, that it will no longer pay licensing revenue to iPhone contract manufacturers. Apple is Qualcomm’s main source of profit, and a permanent end to this technology licensing revenue would be damaging to the chip manufacturer. This contract has been in force since Apple debuted the iPhone in 2007. As a result of Apple’s move, Qualcomm has downgraded its recently released forecasts. Continue reading Apple Stops Licensing Payments to Chip Provider Qualcomm

HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has rolled out its anticipated monthly subscription service for virtual reality content, including video games and short interactive films. For a $7 per month fee, users can download up to five VR titles a month from the online Viveport store. HTC is positioning the new service as a way for customers to try out an app before they decide to purchase it. The service is only available to owners of the HTC Vive VR headset. Among the titles initially available are “Everest VR” and “Mars Odyssey.” Continue reading HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Wearables on the Rise: Innovators Show Disruptive Products

As part of the FitnessTech Summit at CES 2017, FitWell founder/chief executive Ted Vickey brought together a small group of “disrupters” in the fitness industry to show applications that can and do make a difference in peoples’ lives. Vickey is bullish on the possibilities. “By far, there are more users of fitness apps than there are members of health clubs,” he said. “And close to 73 percent of users say they feel healthier because of their app.” The disrupters showed a wide array of use cases. Continue reading Wearables on the Rise: Innovators Show Disruptive Products

Foxconn to Build Flat Panel Factory and Make Advanced LCDs

Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn Technology Group, announced plans to build an $8.8 billion flat panel TV factory in Guangzhou, China, where the Taiwanese company will manufacture advanced liquid-crystal displays with tech from Sharp Corp. (Foxconn acquired the Japanese electronics brand in 2016). The investment “will be made by Sakai Display Products Corp., which is mostly owned by Gou personally,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Gou has sometimes taken on riskier investments for Foxconn under his personal portfolio, saying it was safer for Foxconn shareholders. The new Guangzhou facility is expected to begin production of 10.5-generation 8K displays, smart TVs and electronic whiteboards in 2019.” Continue reading Foxconn to Build Flat Panel Factory and Make Advanced LCDs

Google to Offer its Own Smartphone, Secure Future Services

By the end of the year Google plans to release its own smartphone, which will compete directly with the Apple iPhone and extend the company’s reach into hardware. Google is presently in talks with carriers about the branded phone. Its Android operating system already powers 80 percent of smartphones sold around the world in phones made by, among others, Samsung, LG and Huawei’s Google Nexus brand. With its new smartphone, Google will take charge of design and manufacturing as well as software. Continue reading Google to Offer its Own Smartphone, Secure Future Services

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