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Behind Apple's Sapphire Screen Debacle

timothy posted 48 minutes ago | from the creative-managment dept.

Businesses 27

Frankie70 (803801) writes Apple invested more than $1 billion in an effort to make sapphire one of iPhone 6's selling point. But the iPhone 6 was released without the sapphire screen. GT Advanced Technologies, the small company chosen to supply Apple with enormous quantities of cheap sapphire, declared bankruptcy a month later. Recent documents from GT's bankruptcy proceedings, and conversations with people familiar with operations at Apple and GT, provide several clues as to what went wrong. GT said that to save costs, Apple decided not to install backup power supplies, and multiple outages ruined whole batches of sapphire. The terms Apple negotiated committed GT to supplying a huge amount of sapphire, but put Apple under no obligation to buy it. In its bankruptcy documents, GT would later accuse Apple of using "bait-and-switch" tactics, and said the terms of the deal were "onerous and massively one-sided."

Apple and Amazon Launch Black Friday Price War

timothy posted 2 hours ago | from the you-can-win-the-race-to-the-bottom dept.

Handhelds 21

An anonymous reader writes Forbes magazine points out that tablet computers are receiving some of the biggest discounts for this year's day-after-Thanksgiving sales. "With slowing growth in the tablet market and an increasing array of choices, some of the strongest bargains will come in that sector," they report, noting that Target is giving away a $140 gift card with purcahses of an iPad Air 2 (and a $100 gift card with the iPad Mini or first-generation iPad Air). But Amazon has already launched a counter-strike, posting big discounts online on Thanksgiving day for their entire line of Kindles, including a black-and-white Kindle for just $49, and their 6-inch color/high-definition HD6 for just $79.

BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the please-buy-our-phone dept.

Blackberry 117

mpicpp points out that BlackBerry is hoping to get iPhone owners to switch to Passport smartphones by promising up to $550 to trade in their phones. "The promotion, which starts Monday, promises as much as $550 to iPhone owners who trade in their handsets in favor of BlackBerry's Passport. The actual trade-in value depends on the iPhone, with the iPhone 4S worth up to $90 and the iPhone 6 worth up to $400. (The iPhone 6 Plus is not eligible.) BlackBerry then sweetens the deal by kicking in an additional $150 as a topper for each iPhone. The deal will run through February 13, but it's good only in North America. Customers must buy the $599 to $699 unlocked Passport phone through either BlackBerry's website or Amazon. The trade-in amount comes in the form of a Visa prepaid card."

About 40% of World Population Online, 90% of Offliners In Developing Countries

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the working-to-end-eternal-september dept.

The Internet 45

New submitter lx76 writes: The International Telecommunications Union does research on telecommunications in society worldwide, from cellphones to internet use. Since 2009, on a yearly basis, they've released their research findings in a report called the Measuring Information Society Report. This year's report is over 200 pages long, illustrated with abundant graphs and tables (PDF). It's not a light read. But one of the interesting numbers is an index showing the divide in global connectivity. From the report: "Over the past year, the world witnessed continued growth in the uptake of ICT [Information and Communication Technology] and, by end 2014, almost 3 billion people will be using the Internet, up from 2.7 billion at end 2013..... Despite this encouraging progress, there are important digital divides that need to be addressed: 4.3 billion people are still not online, and 90 per cent of them live in the developing world."

The report continues, "As this report finds, ICT performance is better in countries with higher shares of the population living in urban areas, where access to ICT infrastructure, usage and skills is more favorable. Yet it is precisely in poor and rural areas where ICTs can make a particularly significant impact." Projects like Google's Project Loon have their work cut out for them."

Bidding In Government Auction of Airwaves Reaches $34 Billion

samzenpus posted 3 days ago | from the more-money-more-spectrums dept.

Government 82

An anonymous reader sends word that the 2014 wireless spectrum license auction has surpassed $34 billion. "A government auction of airwaves for use in mobile broadband has blown through presale estimates, becoming the biggest auction in the Federal Communications Commission's history and signaling that wireless companies expect demand for Internet access by smartphones to continue to soar. And it's not over yet. Companies bid more than $34 billion as of Friday afternoon for six blocks of airwaves, totaling 65 megahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum, being sold by the F.C.C. That total is more than three times the $10.5 billion reserve price that the commission put on the sale, the first offering of previously unavailable airwaves in six years."

Some Early Nexus 6 Units Returned Over Startup Bug

timothy posted 5 days ago | from the radiation-from-the-offworld-colonies dept.

AT&T 39

The Register reports that Motorola has issued a recall for an early batch of its hotly anticipated new Nexus 6 smartphones that were sold through U.S. mobile carrier AT&T, owing to a software glitch that can reportedly causes the devices to boot to a black screen. ... AT&T retail stores have reportedly been told to return their existing inventory of the Nexus 6 and wait for new units to arrive from Motorola, which has already corrected the problem on its assembly line. Any customer who brings a defective unit into an AT&T store will receive a replacement. Motorola's memo to stores says that only initial shipments were affected, and that the problem has been identified. However, as the article mentions, there's thus far less luck for those like me who've found that at least some original Nexus 7 tablets do not play nicely with Lollipop. (The effects look nice, but it's never a good sign to see "System UI isn't responding. Do you want to close it?" on a tablet's screen.)

Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer

timothy posted 5 days ago | from the first-they-said-you-were-crazy dept.

Communications 114

An anonymous reader writes Google [Thursday] shared an update from Project Loon, the company's initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas of the world via hot air balloons. Google says it now has the ability to launch up to 20 of these balloons per day. This is in part possible because the company has improved its autofill equipment to a point where it can fill a balloon in under five minutes. This is a major achievement, given that Google says filling a Project Loon balloon with enough air so that it is ready for flight is the equivalent of inflating 7,000 party balloons.

Indian Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Snub Android One Phones

timothy posted 5 days ago | from the but-fellas-our-plans-changed dept.

Android 53

oyenamit writes Online shopping in India is still in its infancy but is growing tremendously to reach the mostly untapped market of 1.2 billion people. Invariably, the conflict between pure online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart and brick and mortar stores was bound to emerge. Unfortunately for Google's Android One, it has been on the receiving end of this friction. Leading brick and mortar retailers in India have refused to sell Android One handsets ever since the US company chose to launch its products exclusively online. The three Android One makers in India — Micromax, Karbonn and Spice — launched their handsets exclusively online in mid-September. When sales did not meet their expectations, they decided to release their products via the brick and mortar store channel. However, smaller retailer and mom-n-pop shops have decided to show their displeasure at having being left out of the launch by deciding not to stock Android One. The Android One phones, announced at the most recent Google I/O, are Google's attempt to bring stock Android (as on Google's Nexus devices) to emerging markets, with competent but not high-end phones.

Apple Swaps "Get" Button For "Free" To Avoid Confusion Over In-App Purchases

timothy posted about a week ago | from the for-the-low-low-price dept.

Advertising 103

New submitter lazarus (2879) writes Apple is falling in line with the European Commission's request that app sellers do more to stop inadvertent in-app purchases. Following Google's lead, Cupertino has removed all instances of the word "free" within its iOS and Mac app stores (with the exception of its own apps, like iMovie), and replaced them with the term "Get." The new label clarifies what users can expect when downloading an app. Apps previously labeled as "Free" will now have a "Get" label. If those apps include in-app purchases, a small gray "In-App Purchase" label will appear below the "Get" button.

Jolla Crowdfunds Its First Tablet

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the pitching-in-for-portable-tux dept.

Handhelds 56

SmartAboutThings writes: Jolla is another rising star in the tech world, having recently expanded its smartphone sales into more countries across the globe. Jolla's Sailfish OS is based on the Linux kernel, and considered by many to be a direct successor to Nokia and Intel's MeeGo and the N9 mobile phone. Its software is based on the open-sourced components of MeeGo. Now, the company is ready to start production of its first tablet. They're crowdfunding it, and they blew past their $380,000 goal in about two hours.

The tablet has a 7.9-inch screen with a resolution of 2048 x 1536. It's powered by a 1.8GHz 64-bit quad-core Intel processor, comes with a 32GB of storage, an SD card slot, 2GB of RAM and a 5MP rear camera. Judging by its size, we can see this will rival the iPad Mini the new Nokia N1. While there aren't too many Sailfish-specific apps available, as with the phone, Jolla's tablet will be compatible with Android apps.

Nokia's N1 Android Tablet Is Actually a Foxconn Tablet

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the why-build-a-tablet-when-you-could-not-build-a-tablet dept.

Portables 109

sfcrazy writes: "Nokia surprised everyone when it announced the N1 Android tablet during the Slush conference in Finland, today. This story has a twist, though: the N1 is not a Nokia device. Nokia doesn't have a device unit anymore: it sold its Devices and Services business to Microsoft in 2013. The N1 is made by Taiwanese contract manufacturing company Foxconn, which also manufactures the iPhone and the iPad.

But Nokia's relationship with Foxconn is different from Apple's. You buy iDevices from Apple, not Foxconn; you call Apple for support, not Foxconn. You never deal with Foxconn. In the case of N1, Foxconn will be handling the sales, distribution, and customer care for the device. Nokia is licensing the brand, the industrial design, the Z Launcher software layer, and the IP on a running royalty basis to Foxconn.

Intel Announces Major Reorg To Combine Mobile and PC Divisions

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the goes-together-like-peanut-butter-and-motor-oil dept.

Intel 75

MojoKid writes: For the past year, Intel has pursued what's known as a "contra-revenue" strategy in its mobile division, where product is deliberately sold at a loss to win market share and compete effectively. This has led to a huge rise in tablet shipments, but heavy losses inside Intel's mobile division. Today, the company announced that it would take steps to fold its mobile and conventional processors into a single operating division. While this helps shield the mobile segment from poor short-term results, it also reflects the reality that computing is something users now do across a wide range of devices and multiple operating systems. Intel may not have hit anything like the mobile targets it set out years ago, but long-term success in laptops, tablets, and smartphones remains integral to the company's finances. Desktops and conventional laptops are just one way people compute today and Intel needs to make certain it has a robust long-term presence in every major computing market.

HTML5: It's Already Everywhere, Even In Mobile

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the it's-behind-you-right-now! dept.

Software 133

electronic convict writes: Tom Dale has never been shy, and in a Q&A with Matt Asay on ReadWrite, the EmberJS co-founder and JavaScript evangelist makes the outspoken claim that open Web technologies are already everywhere, even in native mobile apps, and that it's only a matter of time before they catch up to "all the capabilities of a native, proprietary platform." Take that, Web-is-dead doomsayers.

Dale has plenty more to say, calling Google an "adolescent behemoth" that's belatedly embracing open-Web technologies in mobile, lauding Apple's Nitro JS engine and belittling the idea that Web apps have to look and feel the same as native apps for the open Web to triumph. His bottom line: "[I]t's not hard to see that the future of the Web on mobile is a happy one."

NYC To Replace Most of Its Payphones With Free Gigabit WiFi In 2015

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the gotta-head-to-the-payphone-to-torrent-something dept.

Wireless Networking 106

mrspoonsi writes: New York City announced today it has picked the companies that will deliver the technology behind its deployment of free, gigabit Wi-Fi to pay phone stations throughout the city. The LinkNYC stations will also include charging outlets, touchscreen displays that interface with city services, and free U.S. calling. It will be funded through advertising. Construction will begin in 2015, and officials expect up to 10,000 stations to be installed before it's done.

Ars Dissects Android's Problems With Big Screens -- Including In Lollipop

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the point-fifth-world-problems dept.

Android 103

When it comes to tablets, Google doesn't even follow its own design guidelines." That's the upshot of Ars Technica writer Andew Cunningham's detailed, illustrated look at how Android handles screens much larger than seven inches, going back to the first large Android tablets a few years ago, but including Android 5.0 (Lollipop) on the Nexus 10 and similar sized devices. Cunningham is unimpressed with the use of space for both practical and aesthetic reasons, and says that problems crop up areas that are purely under Google's control, like control panels and default apps, as well as (more understandably) in third party apps. The Nexus 10 took 10-inch tablets back to the "blown-up phone" version of the UI, where buttons and other UI stuff was all put in the center of the screen. This makes using a 10-inch tablet the same as using a 7-inch tablet or a phone, which is good for consistency, but in retrospect it was a big step backward for widescreen tablets. The old interface put everything at the edges of the screen where your thumbs could easily reach them. The new one often requires the pointer finger of one of your hands or some serious thumb-stretching. ... If anything, Lollipop takes another step backward here. You used to be able to swipe down on the left side of the screen to see your notifications and the right side of the screen to see the Quick Settings, and now those two menus have been unified and placed right in the center of the screen. The Nexus 10 is the most comfortable to use if it's lying flat on a table or stand and Lollipop does nothing to help you out there.

Microsoft Aims To Offer Windows 10 Upgrades For All Windows Phone 8 Lumias

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the number-by-any-other-number dept.

Cellphones 77

An anonymous reader writes News suggesting that Microsoft plans to offer Windows 10 upgrades for all its Windows Phone 8 devices broke today. "It's our intention to enable a Windows 10 upgrade for Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones," a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. "At this early stage in the development process, and given the vast portfolio of Windows devices worldwide, we can't predict that all devices will be upgradeable, but it is our intention that the Lumia smartphone line be upgradeable to Windows 10."

Department of Justice Harvests Cell Phone Data Using Planes

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the we-can-hear-you-now dept.

United States 202

Tyketto writes The US Department of Justice has been using fake communications towers installed in airplanes to acquire cellular phone data for tracking down criminals, reports The Wall Street Journal. Using fix-wing Cessnas outfitted with DRT boxes produced by Boeing, the devices mimic cellular towers, fooling cellphones into reporting "unique registration information" to track down "individuals under investigation." The program, used by the U.S. Marshals Service, has been in use since 2007 and deployed around at least five major metropolitan areas, with a flying range that can cover most of the US population. As cellphones are designed to connect to the strongest cell tower signal available, the devices identify themselves as the strongest signal, allowing for the gathering of information on thousands of phones during a single flight. Not even having encryption on one's phone, like found in Apple's iPhone 6, prevents this interception. While the Justice Department would not confirm or deny the existence of such a program, Verizon denies any involvement in this program, and DRT (a subsidiary of Boeing), AT&T, and Sprint have all declined to comment.

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