Friday, 31 August 2012

Inside Assassin's Creed III: Part Two

The second episode in this four part series focusses on the combat, weapons and tactics of Assassin's Creed III. Discover the brutal realities of warfare during the American Revolution and find out why the guerrilla tactics used by the Americans would turn the tides of war. Finally, uncover the real world inspiration and gameplay innovation behind Connor's all-new weaponry and combat system.
The developers and creative team behindAssassin’s Creed III talks about how they tried to replicate the real world fights of the American Revolution into the game.
The lead protagonist of the game, Connor, has a completely new fighting style and has new animations. Players can now wield dual weapons, something that wasn't possible in the past Assassin’s Creed games. His moves are more close and aggressive as well. Connor also has some new weapons as a part of his arsenal such as a bow and arrow and a rope dart very similar to Scorpions “get over here move”.
Connor’s movements can essentially be defined as guerrilla warfare – swift kills and escapes.
If you missed Inside Assassin’s Creed III Part One you can take a look at it here.
A gameplay video has been released that shows some of the new combat, assassination and traversing movies. You can take a look at the video here.

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zero revealed

Kojima Production showed off a demo of the next Metal Gear Solid game called Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. The game was showcased on the 25th Anniversary of the franchise and the game was demoed using the new Fox Engine.
No images or videos of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zero were released when the demo was showcased but those that attended the event say that the demo started with a real-time cutscene that went straight into gameplay.
The game featured Naked Snake, not Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4. This adventure belongs to Big Boss. The demo showed off an open world level in which Snake kills guards, evades searchlights by crawling and riding around in a jeep. The demo was reportedly running on a PC rather than the PS3.
What remains to be seen is whether this is just a tech demo for the new Fox Engine or is this part of a new Metal Gear Solid game.
The demo was 20-minutes long and the highlight was the open world structure of the game. Up till now, the most basic way to describe a Metal Gear Solid game is to guide Snake from point A to point B either by stealth or by taking down the enemies.
In the image that has been revealed, Snake seems to be packing some new gear that makes him look a lot like Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell. The gear that is evident from the image is night vision goggles, right eye patch (that's how we know that its Big Boss and not Solid Snake), camouflage suit and a big gun.

Nokia partners with JBL to unveil NFC-enabled MD-PlayUp Portable speakers


Nokia and HARMAN Wednesday announced a new partnership to develop wireless consumer audio technologies exclusively for the Nokia Lumia range.

Nokia and HARMAN's JBL brand will jointly develop and co-brand the exclusive line of products which will include a range of speakers. Wireless connectivity from mobile device to speaker will be facilitated through Bluetooth technology capable of connecting any existing Lumia phone, or by tapping to connect with NFC for next generation Lumia phone based on Windows Phone 8.

JBL and Nokia unveiled the first fruits of their collaboration, the JBL PlayUp Portable Wireless Speaker for Nokia, at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. (See: Full coverage from IFA, Berlin)

The PlayUp Portable has a maximum output of 89dB, making it suitable for use outdoors or in any modern indoor interior. The speaker connects easily and wirelessly to any existing Lumia phone via Bluetooth and for next generation Lumia phones based on Windows Phone 8, by tapping to connect with NFC. It also comes with a standard 3.5mm headphone standard audio connector to connect with any mobile phone, computer or MP3 player.

Building on the design of the Nokia Play 360 Wireless Speaker, the PlayUp Portable will be available in a range of colours including cyan, white, black - and the all new bright yellow - its body is built using double-shot plastic for durability. Featuring more than 10 hours of continuous music with a single charge, the PlayUp Portable features a replaceable battery that's tucked away at its base. Additional accessories include a carrying pouch, a micro USB charger and a 3.5mm audio cable.

"The JBL PlayUp Portable Wireless Speaker for Nokia is testimony to our long-term strategy of working with the industry's best to create unbeatable products for consumers, "said Hans Henrik Lund, Vice President and head of Nokia Gear. "With our joint passion for innovation and technology, Nokia and JBL have created a portable speaker for people who really love music and take it with them wherever they go."

The JBL PlayUp Portable Wireless Speaker for Nokia will start shipping before the end of the year, and is priced at Euro 149.

Samsung introduces ATIV series of Windows 8 devices

Samsung-ATIV-Smart-PC-pc-pro.jpgSamsung has announced its brand new ATIV devices based on Windows 8 operating system. Introducing the new sub-brand for Windows-based devices, Samsung has unveiled ATIV Smart PC, ATIV Smart PC Pro convertible laptops and Windows RT running ATIV Tab.
Starting with ATIV Smart PC, this notebook comes with a detachable keyboard docking system, which allows users to switch between a tablet and traditional laptop. ATIV Smart PC also features 11.6-inch touchscreen full-HD LCD, S-Pen, Intel Atom processor, and USB 2.0.
On the other hand, ATIV Smart PC Pro, which uses the same form- factor as ATIV Smart PC, features Intel Core i5 processor, USB 3.0, S-Pen, and an 11.6-inch touchscreen full-HD LCD.
According to Samsung, both Smart PC and Smart PC Pro come with Windows 8 on-board, however they are also fully Windows 7 compatible.
The Korean manufacturer has also revealed its first Windows RT tablet along with Windows 8 devices. Dubbed as ATIV Tab, it features 10.1-inch display, Office Home and Student 2013 RT, 8200 mAh battery, USB port and 1.5 GHz dual-core processor.
"Samsung is delighted to introduce a wide portfolio of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8-powered devices. With our leadership in design and technology and Microsoft's leadership in operating systems, together we are able to provide customers with a full range of ATIV devices for cross-category convergence," said Seong Woo Nam, Executive Vice President of IT Solutions Business at Samsung Electronics.

Apple, Samsung 'tablet war' overshadows IFA 2012

The repercussions of Apple's billion-dollar patent victory over Samsung were still being felt at Europe's biggest consumer electronics show, as the South Korean firm launched a host of new gadgets.
After losing the biggest patent case in decades, Samsung came out fighting at the IFA show in Berlin which opens on Friday, with a sweeping media launch of smartphones, tablets, a "smart PC" and a voice-controlled camera.
But as Samsung made every effort to shrug off the defeat with a dazzling array of new toys, there were concerns the court case could stifle innovation as firms fear to launch new products that could be the target of patent suits.
"Behind closed doors, you can be sure that there will be serious discussions taking place, device makers talking to different platforms makers," said Florian Mueller, an intellectual property expert.
"There will be private meetings in which it will be a big issue," he added.
"An overprotected market can stall innovation and infringe competition ... We are not there yet, but we have to keep an eye on this," he said.
"For the moment, I don't fear a lack of competition," said Mueller, although he believed high-tech manufacturers would be wary of the power of the patent courts in future.
Juergen Boyny, from consumer affairs think tank GfK, said the "tablet war" between Apple and Samsung -- which forced the South Korean firm to pull one of its products out of last year's show -- was a "limited conflict."
"It will not stop the development of innovation, nor will it stop smartphone or tablet sales," he told AFP.
"Everyone at the moment is developing tablets."
Indeed, IFA organisers say the global market for consumer electronics is poised to defy the economic slowdown and post a two-percent gain this year to around $1.1 trillion.
"It's innovation that drives growth," said Rainer Hecker, the president of the German federation that organises the IFA.

Samsung wins over Apple in Japan patent case

apple-samsung.jpgA Tokyo court ruled on Friday that Samsung Electronics' mobile devices did not violate an Apple Inc patent involved in synching mobile devices and computers, awarding the South Korean maker a victory a week after it lost a bruising landmark patent case in the United States.In rejecting Apple's suit, Tokyo District Court Judge Tamotsu Shoji said Samsung's products did not infringe on the U.S. firm's technological scope.
A U.S. federal jury found last week that Apple did not infringe on any of Samsung's patents, while the South Korean firm had copied key features of iPhone.
The same jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages and it is now seeking speedy bans on the sale of eight Samsung phones in the U.S. market.
"We welcome the court's decision, which confirmed our long-held position that our products do not infringe Apple's intellectual property," Samsung said in a statement following the verdict from the Tokyo court.
A representative for Apple in Japan declined to comment.
In Seoul, Samsung shares were up 0.7 percent in a flat market.
A spokesman for NTT Docomo Inc declined to comment, while a KDDI Corp spokeswoman said she did not see any major impact from the decision. Both Japanese mobile carriers sell the popular Samsung Galaxy series.
Shares in NTT Docomo last traded down 1.8 percent at a 2-week low, while KDDI was down 1.2 percent. Shares in local rival Softbank Corp <9984.T>, the first Japanese carrier to sell the iPhone and which doesn't sell the Samsung Galaxy line, were down 1.1 percent.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Google, Apple CEOs in secret patent talks


Google Inc Chief Executive Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook have been conducting behind-the-scenes talks about a range of intellectual property matters, including the mobile patent disputes between the companies, people familiar with the matter said.The two executives had a phone conversation last week, the sources said. Discussions involving lower-level officials of the two companies are also ongoing.
Page and Cook are expected to talk again in the coming weeks, though no firm date has been set, the sources said on Thursday. One of the sources told Reuters that a meeting had been scheduled for this Friday, but had been delayed for reasons that were unclear.
The two companies are keeping lines of communication open at a high level against the backdrop of Apple's legal victory in a patent infringement case against Samsung, which uses Google's Android software.
Last Friday, a jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages and set the stage for a possible ban on sales of some Samsung products in a case that has been widely viewed as a "proxy war" between Apple and Google.
One possible scenario under consideration could be a truce involving disputes over basic features and functions in Google's Android mobile software, one source said. But it was unclear whether Page and Cook were discussing a broad settlement of the various disputes between the two companies, most of which involve the burgeoning mobile computing area, or are focused on a more limited set of issues.
Competition between Google and Apple has heated up in recent years with the shift from PCs to mobile devices. Google's Android software, which Apple's late founder Steve Jobs denounced as a "stolen product," has become the world's No.1 smartphone operating system. The popularity of the software has been in tandem with patent infringement lawsuits involving various hardware vendors who use it, including Samsung and HTC.
The latest complaint was filed by Motorola Mobility, now a unit of Google, against Apple at the U.S. International Trade Commission claiming some features of Apple's devices infringe on its patents. A previous lawsuit between the two in a Chicago court was thrown out by a federal judge, who said neither side could prove damages.
Apple in recent months has moved to lessen its reliance on Google's products. Apple recently unveiled its own mobile mapping software, replacing the Google product used in the iPhone, and said it would no longer offer Google's YouTube as a pre-loaded app in future versions of its iPhone.
Cook took the helm at Apple a year ago, and Page stepped into the top job at Google a few months before that.
The conversation between Page and Cook last week did not result in any formal agreement, but the two executives agreed to continue talking, according to one source.
Google's Larry Page, who sat out several public speaking engagements earlier this summer because of an unspecified medical condition affecting his voice, has continued to run Google's business.
Apple and Google declined to comment on any discussions.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Samsung unveils Galaxy Camera with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean


Samsung has unveiled a voice-controlled camera as part of a fall lineup of consumer gadgets aimed at setting itself apart from rival Apple.The South Korean electronics giant presented the 16-megapixel Galaxy Camera at the IFA tech show in Berlin on Wednesday.
It comes days after Samsung suffered a costly defeat in a patent dispute with Apple in the United States.
Samsung's Galaxy Camera runs Google's popular Android operating system, giving it features previously restricted to smartphones or tablet computers such as photo organizing, photo sharing and voice-control.
The company also announced two new phones, the Galaxy Note II and the ATIV S running Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system.
Samsung says the devices will be available in many countries from the end of October.
Samsung Galaxy Camera key specs
  • Image Sensor: 16.3 effective megapixel 1/2.3" BSI CMOS
  • Lens: F2.8, 23 mm, 21x super long zoom
  • Display: 121.2 mm (4.8"), 308 ppi, HD Super Clear Touch Display
  • ISO: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
  • Processor: 1.4GHz Quad-Core processor
  • OS: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • Memory: 8GB, memory slot : micro SDSC, micro SDHC, micro SDXC
  • Smart Pro : 10 modes (Macro, Rich Tone, Action Freeze, Waterfall Trace, Light Trace,Beautiful Sunset, Blue Sky, Natural Green, Silhouette, Vivid Fireworks)
  • Share shot, Auto Cloud Back-up
  • Smart Content Manager, Photo Wizard, Movie Wizard
  • Voice Control, Slow Motion Video, S Planner, S Suggest
  • AllShare Play, Family Story, Drop box
  • Connectivity: WiFi a/b/g/n, WiFi HT40, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 1,650 mAh
  • Dimension (WxHxD): 128.7 x 70.8 x 19.1 mm
  • Weight: 305g

''IT park at Dona Paula is not feasible’ - SmartLinks vice-president Mr Nitin Kunkolienkar

It would be advisable for the government to establish IT parks in different parts of Goa to encourage rural employment and IT development, suggests SmartLinks vice-president Mr Nitin Kunkolienkar in an interview with MICHAEL FISHER on the state’s IT policy.

Q: Do you think the special treatment envisaged for major IT players in the bracket of ` 50 crore and above will lure them to Goa?
A: We need to define what the government means by special treatment. Considering the real estate demand and its location, an IT Park at Dona Paula is not the ideal place. In my opinion, an IT Park at Dona Paula should be scrapped and the government should take possession of the land. Today, the market value of that land is worth around ` 1,000 crore to ` 1,500 crore and the three lakh sqm land could be used by the government for some other purpose.
Q: What do you suggest the government should do to acquire land?
A: Goa needs to create more growth centres at different locations. I would prefer IT parks located between Panaji and Pernem; Panaji and Ponda or Shiroda; near Canacona, Margao and Quepem. We have to accept the fact that 75 per cent of the manpower would come from non-urban areas.
What’s the logic behind this?
A: The logic that was followed by the Charles Correa committee is the same logic that applies to the Dona Paula IT Park. Now the future is not just on IT development. But for the next ten years, the focus of the government would be to encourage hardcore manufacturing of electronics and IT products which also involves R&D. Design engineering is going to grow. There aren’t many takers for IT parks in Goa. Rather, the government should focus on world class infrastructure and promote electronics and IT hardware manufacturing.

Q: How fast is the IT industry in Goa moving?
A: The current size of the electronic trade in this country is around $50 billion and is expected to grow up to $400 billion by 2020. This means the input of electronic hardware in the country will overtake outputs. Besides this, there are also major security concerns as 75 per cent of the electronic hardware comes from China. This is a major threat to the security of India as the entire China-nation makes electronics and hackers will be controlled by Chinese.

Q: The state government intends to give ` 15,000 per employee for two years as salary subsidy, is this a good idea?
A: I am against salary subsidies for employees. Instead, this money can be used to enhance skills and for training in engineering and other development fields. The government should give incentives instead of subsidies. The focus should be on value chain (manufacturing to finish products) and earmark a subsidy for training and development. Goa has to worry about employment as of today we have 2.45 lakh people in the age group of 10 to 20 years old and they would be entering the job market.

Q: Please comment on the additional FAR for buildings housing IT firms. Won’t this be misused by builders?
A: High FAR is given to offset the high cost of land. But I would prefer the government reconsider its decision and give better amenities. In a place like Dona Paula, a high FAR is not justified at today’s market price. In my opinion, 100 per cent FAR is sufficient in Dona Paula. When compared with residential plot it is 250
per cent more. If a residential plot is costing ` 15,000 a sqm, then an IT Park building will be 250 more or 2.5 times more. This is likely to create lot of disparities.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Samsung to launch Galaxy Note 2 today


Samsung Electronics Co unveils the second generation of its popular Galaxy Note phone cum-tablet at Europe's biggest electronics show in Berlin later on Wednesday, as the South Korean firm comes under pressure to innovate after losing a U.S. patent battle with Apple Inc.A U.S. federal jury last week found Samsung had copied critical features of the iPhone and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages. Apple is now seeking speedy bans on the sale of eight Samsung phones, moving swiftly to turn legal victory into tangible business gain.
The Galaxy Note phablet, Samsung's second most popular smartphone after its flagship Galaxy S, is not included in the list of the potential U.S. sales ban, and Samsung hopes the phablet upgrade will lift any post Apple gloom at the South Korean group.
"There won't be huge innovative changes in design, but the Note 2 will feature quite a few improvements and enable Samsung to carry on its strong sales momentum in the category," said Lee Sun-tae, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities. "With the launch, Samsung will also be trying to turn around downbeat sentiment after the U.S. legal defeat."
The new version of the Note is expected to feature a thinner and slightly bigger 5.5-inch screen, powerful quad-core processor, the latest version of Google's Android operating system called Jellybean, and improved stylus function.
It's the latest product to illustrate Samsung's attempts to make bold design changes as it comes increasingly under pressure to differentiate its line-up from the iPhone, whose simple and large touchscreen-based design revolutionised the mobile industry and is still considered the gold standard of design.
Flexi screen
Samsung is also working to introduce smartphones with bendable screens later this year as it seeks to cement its lead in the $200 billion plus global smartphone market and challenge Apple, which is expected to launch its new iPhone on September 12.
The new Note comes just three months after Samsung released the third generation of its Galaxy S smartphone, which has already sold more than 10 million, and succeeds the original 5.3-inch Note, which was introduced in late-October and was a surprise hit, selling more than 10 million within 9 months.
Other firms that offer so called phablets include LG Electronics and HTC. ABI Research has predicted phablet shipments could reach 208 million by 2015.
Unlike Apple, Samsung depends on various line-ups, offering a range of models in different sizes and with different software, and keeps its product cycle shorter. Later this year, it is expected to launch a new model running Microsoft's upgraded Windows operating system.
Samsung shares rose 2.9 percent to 1.23 million won in Seoul on Wednesday in a broader Korean market that closed up 0.6 percent - and are now down just 3.5 percent from their levels before last Friday's U.S. ruling. The shares slumped 7.5 percent on Monday, wiping $12 billion off the company's market value.
A U.S. judge on Tuesday set a December 6 court date to hear Apple's request for a permanent injunction against Samsung smartphones, which could delay the potential impact of Apple's legal victory. Also, ratings agency Standard & Poor's said Apple's bruising legal win had not affected the agency's ratings on Samsung.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Evernote looks to the enterprise with new Business offering


Popular note-taking application Evernote further enhanced its portfolio by introducing Evernote Business, targeting small and medium businesses.

The app, which is designed exclusive for business users, will be available beginning December 2012 in select countries. U.S. pricing is $10 per user per month for the first 50 users and $5 per user per month for each additional user.

Announced by the company's CEO, Phil Libin at its second Trunk Conference in San Francisco, Evernote Business brings along a host of features offering a powerful solution to all types of businesses.

With this app each employee's Evernote Business account can be linked to their personal account, which will automatically be upgraded to Evernote Premium. Any data created in an employee's personal notebooks will be restricted to them, while anything created in a shared company or team notebook belongs to the company. Evernote Business also includes phone support and each business customer will have a dedicated "Customer Success Manager."

Employees will also be able to pay for the entire organisation using a single credit card or invoice. A centralised console for Admins will allow control to easily review and manage user access and permissions for the whole company. As far as business sharing is concerned, employees will be able to publish a directory viewable by everyone in the company allowing for greater transparency and smarter business solutions.

Speaking about Evernote Business in his keynote speech, Phil said,"As we grew from a small start-up into a global, 200-employee business, we realised we needed to develop a product that allowed us to more easily share information with groups, improve the on-boarding process and ensure that business data ownership was clearly defined. Evernote Business is a powerful solution fit for businesses of all sizes. We're excited to share the tools we use with companies like ours around the world."

Evernote has announced a partnership with popular analog sketchbook maker Moleskine to introduce the Evernote Smart Notebook.

Source :

Nokia Belle Refresh update rolling out, hits N8 in India


Nokia has started rolling out a new Symbian update for Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Nokia C7, Nokia C6-01, Nokia X7 and Nokia Oro phones. Dubbed as Nokia Belle Refresh, this update will also be released for Nokia E6 and Nokia 500 in the days to come.
Coming to India, The Nokia N8 customers are the first to get this update, while other devices should get it soon. The update for Nokia N8 is 11MB in size and is available over-the-air as well as via Nokia Software Updater and Nokia Suite.
The update version number 111.040.1511 brings several new features to the Nokia Symbian smartphones including the following:
  • A new browser with HTML5 web apps support
  • New set of home-screen widgets
  • Microsoft Office Mobile App
  • Nokia Maps Suite 2.0 in one package
  • Nokia N8 will have some extra apps for imaging
According to Nokia, the Belle Refresh update will be rolling out in phases with basic software variants first followed by country/carrier based customisations.

Latest Java software opens PCs to hackers - experts


Computer security firms are urging PC users to disable Java software in their browsers, saying the widely installed, free software from Oracle Corp opens machines to hacker attacks and there is no way to defend against them.
The warnings, which began emerging over the weekend from Rapid7, AlienVault and other cyber security firms, are likely to unnerve a PC community scrambling to fend off growing security threats from hackers, viruses and malware.
Researchers have identified code that attacks machines by exploiting a newly discovered flaw in the latest version of Java. Once in, a second piece of software called "Poison Ivy" is released that lets hackers gain control of the infected computer, said Jaime Blasco, a research manager with AlienVault Labs.
Several security firms advised users to immediately disable Java software installed in some form on the vast majority of personal computers around the world in their Internet browsers. Oracle says that Java sits on 97 percent of enterprise desktops.
"If exploited, the attacker will be able to perform any action the victim can perform on the victim's machine," said Tod Beardsley, an engineering manager with Rapid7's Metasploit division.
Computers can get infected without their users' knowledge simply by a visit to any website that has been compromised by hackers, said Joshua Drake, a senior research scientist with the security firm Accuvant.
Java is a computer language that enables programmers to write one set of code to run on virtually any type of machine. It is widely used on the Internet so that Web developers can make their sites accessible from multiple browsers running on Microsoft Windows PCs or Macs from Apple Inc.
An Oracle spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment on the matter.
Security experts recommended that users not enable Java for universal use on their browsers. Instead, they said it was safest to allow use of Java browser plug-ins on a case-by-case basis when prompted for permission by trusted programs such as GoToMeeting, a Web-based collaboration tool from Citrix Systems Inc.
Rapid7 has set up a web page that tells users whether their browser has a Java plug-in installed that is vulnerable to attack: 
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Apple's new iPhone unlikely to feature NFC technology - experts


Experts at popular technology blog Anandtech have analysed the leaks related to the new iPhone and come to the conclusion that Apple's upcoming smartphone is "unlikely" to come with NFC technology.

NFC, or Near Field Communication, technology enables devices to communicate with each other over radio frequencies without any physical contact (much like Bluetooth). This means, for example, you can simply swipe your NFC enabled phone to make a payment at a NFC enabled vendor, as an alternative to paying by credit card. Banks around the world have done away with detailed authorization checks for NFC transactions below certain amount, which means the entire transaction is completed much faster.

A NFC connection establishes much faster than Bluetooth (but not Bluetooth Low Energy) and also has a shorter range than Bluetooth, reducing the likelihood of unwanted pairings.

Brian Klug and Anand Shimpi had this to say about the topic:

Given the primarily metal backside of the new iPhone, it's highly unlikely that NFC is in the cards for this generation. In fact, given the very little space at top and bottom dedicated to those glass RF windows, you can almost entirely rule it out.

Noted Apple pundit Jim Dalrymple of The Loop weighed in with a simple "Yep." in agreement with Anandtech's assessment, adding further fuel to the fire.

Flagship smartphones from Samsung, HTC, LG and Nokia, as well as several other mid-to-high-range smartphones have been shipping with NFC technology for around two years, increasing speculation that Apple will follow suit.

Sources: gadgets.ndtv

Apple's victory means soul-searching for Samsung


A U.S. jury's $1 billion verdict against Samsung for what rival Apple claimed was the illegal copying of its iPhone and iPad designs signals a turning point for the South Korean electronics giant known for its prowess in adapting the innovations of others and nimbly executing production.

The verdict not only jolted the world of global gadgetry but also likely sparked some soul-searching in Suwon, South Korea, where the family-run Samsung conglomerate is based.

The world's top seller of smartphones finds itself in the post-iPhone reality, where the decades-long practice of industry mimicry now can mean a bruising legal challenge.

And so Samsung finds itself in a position of having to recreate itself as an innovator, not an imitator. But the switch, experts say, will be much more challenging and time-consuming than the shortcuts Samsung used to take.

"The case shows that Samsung is still inadequate in soft(ware) area, such as designs and patents," M.S. Hwang, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Samsung Securities, said in a commentary.

Samsung Electronics Co. has a top-heavy command structure that centers on the founding family. At the apex is 70-year-old Lee Kun-hee, who inherited the mantle from his father, Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull, in 1987.

The strict hierarchy has enabled speedy and bold investment and swift execution. That, plus the ability to build on the innovations of others, like Sony Corp. -- has helped Samsung become the world's largest maker of televisions, memory chips, liquid crystal display panels and now smartphones.

Its path is reminiscent of many Japanese companies, like Canon Inc. and Nikon Corp., which started out by copying European designs and then became innovators and pace-setters in the 1960s and 70s.

"It is impossible to be an innovator from the beginning," said Chang Sea-jin, a professor at National University of Singapore. "If you don't have a technology, imitating more advanced companies is the easiest way to catch up."

Samsung has long been regarded as a "fast follower" -- imitating or licensing technologies and then competing by lowering costs, improving quality and adding functions.

It overcame its belated entry into the memory chip business in 1983 with efficient mass production and investments. Today, Samsung supplies about 30 percent of the chips that go into electronic gadgets.

In the early 2000s, Samsung claimed leadership in the global television industry.

But when Apple released its cutting-edge iPhone in 2007, Samsung employees were likely too pressed to catch up to scrutinize possible patent encroachments. South Korea's idea of intellectual property is also less strict than that in the U.S., Chang said, and speedy execution is highly valued at Samsung.

Still, Samsung outsold Apple this year in smartphones by offering more variety, including low-end phones for price-conscious consumers.

Last Friday, a jury in San Jose, California, ruled that Samsung went too far in copying the iPhone and the iPad. It awarded Apple $1.05 billion, while a judge considers whether to ban sales of eight Samsung products in the U.S. Samsung has vowed to appeal.

Samsung's stocks plunged 7.5 percent in Seoul on the first trading day after the verdict, costing $12 billion in market value. Samsung has vowed to appeal, but unsuccessful legal battles against Apple in a host of other countries means that Samsung has few choices other than to create its own design identity.

In the past few years, Samsung has been investing in design, not only in mobile phones, but also in televisions and home appliances. But the results were not near the level of revolutionizing the look and feel of a consumer electronics product or the way consumers interact with technology.

Bill Fischer, a professor at International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, says Samsung still has not breached the divide between itself and consumer electronics companies such as Apple and Sony.

"They tend to take bigger risks regarding products brought to market, and they try to become creators of revolutionary new technologies," such as iPods, smartphones and Sony's Walkman music player, Fischer said in an email to The Associated Press. "This is a different mentality."

The choices that Samsung has made so far "are not choices conducive to growing the sort of design and customer-centricity that has long made Apple unique," he said.

That does not necessarily mean that Samsung must become another Apple. Samsung, which supplies mobile processors that work as a brain in the iPhone and the iPad, as well as displays and memory chips to Apple, reaches far and deep into the areas that Apple does not -- especially in electronics hardware manufacturing.

"Innovation does not necessarily mean an entire change. Doing better than the present and doing better than others are also innovation," said Lee Myoung-woo, who once led Samsung's consumer electronics businesses in the U.S. and is a professor at Hanyang University in Seoul.

"Even if other companies are not breaking away too far from the rules that Apple made with the iPhone, other companies can come up with product innovation in the areas that Apple didn't see," Lee said.

He cited the Galaxy Note as an example, a smartphone with an overblown screen that became popular.

Sources: gadgets.ndtv

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tapbots pulls Tweetbot for Mac alpha, blames Twitter's API changes


Popular iOS developer Tapbots has announced the end of alpha testing program of its much awaited Tweetbot for Mac Twitter client, blaming it on Twitter's API changes.

Making the announcement via a blog post, Tapbots assured that the Tweetbot for Mac would still go on sale "in the near future", but they had to stop the alpha program so as not to run out of their quota of tokens on users who may end up not buying the app.

Tapbots also encouraged users who have installed the Tweetbot for Mac alpha to "Revoke access" to the app, so the unused tokens go back in the pool.

Here's more from the blog post:

With the above rules being in place its easy to see why continuing the public alpha/beta would be problematic. Someone might use the app, decide they don't like it and the token would be gone forever. That being said now would probably be a good time to help 3rd party developers out and Revoke access to any clients that you no longer use.

Just to be perfectly clear, Tweetbot for Mac will still be available for sale in the near future, we are just stopping the public part of the alpha/beta testing. We wish we could continue on but we didn't make the rules, we just have to live within them. Again sorry for the hassle and thank you very much to everyone that has provided valuable feedback during the alpha.

A smartphone case that helps reduce cancer risk

smartphone.jpgA new smartphone case, made up of same material as NASA spacecraft, claims to reduce cellphone radiation and cancer risks as it cuts the exposure by up to 95 percent.
Although it still remains unclear as to exactly how bad the problem of cellphone radiation is, the WHO has already reclassified it as "potentially carcinogenic for humans."
The manufacturer claims to resolve the problems associated with mobile devices of emitting microwave energy as majority of it is absorbed by the heads and bodies of phone users while making calls.
The accessory, which is available for a range of different smartphones, claims to redirect radiation away from the user and reduce exposure by up to 95 percent.
According to the company's Chief Technology Officer, Ryan McCaughey, their invention doesn't make mere empty promises to ward off those deadly radiations, and the case has been rigorously tested to check its effectiveness.
"The scale we base our research is the industry standard of SAR, or specific absorption rate. All cell phones are measured to this standard, and what we do is compare the effect of a cellphone on SAR with and without the Pong case," McCaughey was quoted by as saying.
"Our lab tests, including independent lab tests, which we feel are a very important validation, show that we reduce SAR by up to 95 percent below current safety limits," he said.
But even McCaughey admitted that the smartphone case by Pong isn't a complete solution, because not enough known is yet known about how safe even small levels of radiation are.

Indian app market to grow 23 percent this year: Gartner

apps-privacy.jpgThe application development software market in India is expected to grow 22.6 per cent to reach over USD 227 million in 2012, led by increasing adoption of software delivery through cloud computing platform, research firm Gartner said today.
In its report 'Market Trends: Application Development (AD) Software, Worldwide, 2012-2016', Gartner said cloud is changing the way applications are designed, tested and deployed, resulting in a significant shift in AD priorities.
"The trend is compelling enough to force traditional AD vendors to 'cloud-enable' their existing offerings and position them as a service to be delivered through the cloud," Gartner Principal Research analyst Asheesh Raina said in a statement.
The study further stated 90 per cent of large, mainstream enterprises and government agencies will use some aspect of cloud computing by 2015.
Cloud computing enables storage of data and access to software on a pay-per-use model, helping companies to cut costs as they do not have to invest in infrastructure.
Gartner predicts that mobile AD projects targeting smartphones and tablets will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4:1 by 2015.
"Emerging mobile applications, systems and devices are transforming the AD space rapidly, and are one of the top three CIO priorities at the enterprise level," the study said.
Gartner research found that CIOs expect more than 20 per cent of their employees to use tablets instead of laptops by 2013.
Further, open source software will continue to broaden its presence and create pressure on market leaders during the next three to five years, it said.
It predicts that at least 70 per cent of new enterprise Java applications will be deployed on an open source Java application server by the end of 2017.
"Open source software tools will continue to erode revenue for some AD categories in design, testing and Web development," Raina added.

Supreme Court directs government to complete 2G spectrum auction by Jan 11

supremecourt295.jpgThe Supreme Court today directed the Government to complete fresh auction of cancelled 122 2G spectrum licences by January 11, 2013 and warned that failure to meet the deadline would invite "contempt" action against erring officials with "exemplary" cost.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan, which extended the August 31, 2012 deadline for completing the auction process, made it clear that no court in the country will entertain any plea on this issue of 2G spectrum.
It said existing licencees of the 2G spectrum, who had to shut down the operation by September 7, are "entitled to operate up to January 18 next year." The bench, which expressed its displeasure against the
Centre for not mentioning the "outer limit" for completing the auction process, said "unless it will fix the outer limit the auction process will never happen" and "it is also the fact of the matter that they (Centre) have not complied with the February 2 judgement."
The judges, who were unhappy with the affidavit filed by the Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar, for not mentioning the outer limit for the fresh auction of 2G spectrum, said "the process cannot go for indefinite period."
They said without fixing the outer limit, it was not possible to extend the deadline as the "existing operators will make effort to scuttle the auction and delay the process."
The bench, which made it clear that no more extension would be granted for the purpose, said that it will peruse the development on January 13 "to know whether the Centre has proceeded with auction or not and to go for the future course on the allocation of 2G spectrum."

Friend and foe; Samsung, Apple won't want to damage parts deal

samsung-chips-big.jpgWhile Samsung Electronics is reeling from a patent pounding by its smartphone rival Apple Inc, this is unlikely to damage the other part of their relationship where Samsung is the sole supplier of Apple designed chips that power the iPhone and iPad.
At an emergency meeting in Seoul early on Sunday following the damning U.S. legal defeat, the South Korean group's post mortem was led by vice chairman Choi Gee-sung and the head of the mobile business JK Shin, rather than by CEO Kwon Oh-hyun, whose primary role is in charge of the components business.
The clear message from Samsung is that a strict internal firewall between its handset business and its components operations remains intact.
While it plans to appeal the U.S. verdict, and a damages bill for $1.05 billion for copying critical features of Apple's popular mobile devices a sum that could be trebled Samsung will not want to put at risk its Apple supply contract which is worth billions of dollars.
As well as being the only supplier of micro processors for the iPhone and iPad, Samsung also supplies DRAM and NAND-type memory chips and flat screens used in the popular Apple gadgets. Samsung products comprise 26 percent of the component cost of the iPhone, Samsung's lead counsel Charles Verhoeven was quoted as saying in the media.
Samsung's component sales could hit $13 billion next year and bring in $2.2 billion in operating profit, according to a recent estimate by Morgan Stanley. That's nearly 8 percent of estimated group operating profit for next year.
Too important
Experts and analysts said the symbiotic business relationship between Samsung and Apple is too important for either to put at risk.
"Apple needs Samsung to make the iPhone and iPad. Period. Samsung is the sole supplier of Apple's processing chips and without Samsung, they can't make these products," said James Song, an analyst at KDB Daewoo Securities in Seoul. "Samsung might be considering lots of options to leverage its components business' importance and pressure Apple, and Apple could be also well aware of this."
With that in mind, Samsung had sought to resolve the patent dispute with Apple which Apple first brought up shortly after Samsung launched its first Galaxy model in 2010 through negotiation rather than in the courtroom.
"We initially proposed to negotiate with Apple instead of going to court, as they had been one of our most important customers," Samsung said in an internal memo sent to employees and released to the media on Monday. "However, Apple pressed on with a lawsuit, and we have had little choice but to counter sue."
While Samsung has been found to have copied innovative features of the iPhone and iPad, the Korean group's lawyers have emphasized that its own innovative components and wireless technology patents, which the U.S. jury ruled that Apple did not violate, made Apple's products a reality.
"Apple isn't that stupid (to risk its Samsung parts deal). Apple's agreements with Samsung will ensure that Samsung has no choice but to comply and supply," Florian Mueller, an intellectual property consultant, posted on his blog.
"Also, Samsung's other customers would lose faith if it turned out unreliable. And since Apple threatened Samsung with litigation two years ago, it's had plenty of time to identify alternatives."
Sharp sell off
Samsung itself shrugged off market concerns that its component contracts were at risk due to the litigation. Samsung shares tumbled more than 7 percent on Monday, wiping $12 billion off its market value.
"(The) supply contract remains a separate issue from the litigation and there'll be no change to it going forward," said an executive who took part in Sunday's meeting, which was not attended Jay Y. Lee, chief operating offer and heir apparent to Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, according to the executive.
Kwon was promoted to CEO in June, with JK Shin and BK Yoon leading the telecommunications and consumer electronics divisions respectively so as to avoid potential conflicts of interest, as Samsung supplies parts to its main rivals such as Apple, Nokia , HTC Corp and Sony Corp.
As demand for mobile gadgets has soared, Samsung announced just last week a $4 billion investment to boost output at its U.S. chip plant, where it makes chips for the iPhone and iPad. That comes on top of $2 billion of spending Samsung unveiled two months ago to build a new chip plant and the conversion of existing chip lines to make logic chips to power mobile gadgets.
Supply chain
Apple has been looking to spread its supply chain to reduce its reliance on Samsung. The U.S. firm frequently faces a supply crunch when a new product is launched, triggering a consumer stampede that drives demand far in excess of supply and production capability.
Earlier this year, a source told Reuters that Japan's Elpida Memory Inc was selling more than half of its mobile DRAM chips to Apple.
Samsung mainly competes with Toshiba Corp and Korean rival SK Hynix in supplying memory chips for Apple, and LG Display in flat-screen panels.
Samsung has around 70 percent global market share in mobile DRAMs, but Apple sources only 40 percent of its mobile DRAM chip requirement from Samsung, a boon to the likes of Elpida and SK Hynix, analysts say.
Shares in LG Display, which is widely speculated to supply a new and thinner panel for the next iPhone, jumped more than 4 percent on Monday. SK Hynix slipped 0.5 percent in a flat market.
"For its part, Samsung is also diversifying its customer base to reduce its reliance to Apple adding new ones like Qualcomm, and that'll prove to be a good strategy longer term as Apple component margins are generally low due to its huge bargaining power," said Daewoo's Song.
"Other suppliers may benefit from a worsening Apple/Samsung relationship in the short term, but in terms of margins, I'm doubtful they can make good money from any Apple cookie crumbs that Samsung throws away."
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Samsung intros massive Galaxy Player 5.8 PMP, with 5.8-inch display and ICS

Samsung has unveiled a massive portable media player, set to take on the current-generation, and the next generation, Apple iPod Touch. Called the Samsung Galaxy Player 5.8, it features a 5.8-inch 960x540 pixel LCD display, along with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and Samsung TouchWiz UI.
The Galaxy Player 5.8 comes in 16GB or 32GB variants, along with microSD card expandability, up to 32GB. It also features front-facing VGA camera, for video chat. Other specifications include 1GB of RAM, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, Google Playstore access, and a (exceptionally large, for a PMP) 2,500mAh battery, presumably to meet the demands that not-so-small display will make.
For now, Samsung has not revealed all the details about the Galaxy Player 5.8, such as the processor, bundled apps, pricing, or launch schedule. We expect the device to be further showcased at IFA 2012 later in the week, where hopefully, more details will be revealed.
So far, the Korean giant has not brought any of its Galaxy Player PMPs to India, and so it doesn’t seem very likely that Samsung will bring this latest monster to the country. For those who are eagerly looking forward to it, and would like to avoid shipping costs, we can only hope that Samsung’s perception of the Indian market has changed in the meanwhile.
Source: Engadget

No, your Facebook friends don't want to know what you're eating

facebook_food.jpgMundane status updates, posting photos of food and writing about your boring habits are among the top Facebook gripes, a new study has found.

Public displays of affection, wonderful partner and equally brilliant children also make people sick and if you don't stop clogging up others' news feeds with your mundane status, you're likely to get unfollowed, according to the study.

While 59 per cent of the 1000 Aussies surveyed admitted they would delete friends that hogged their news feed, 42 percent named using the social network as a diary as the most annoying Facebook habit, followed closely by posting Instagram photos of their food.

Checking in everywhere you go rated a 38 per cent annoyance rate, and your public fawning over your latest squeeze is causing 29 per cent of your friends to want to never see your name on their screen ever again.

As many as 21 per cent of people want to stop following you if you keep posting photos of your baby '' reported.

About 26 per cent of Aussies simply can't stand annoying quizzes and tests and commercial promotions that claim to increase your chances of winning by inviting everyone on your friends list to join.

The study also found that passive and aggressive updates and self-promotion came in a close second to that at 24 and 22 per cent 'can't stand' rate respectively.