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Apple’s Beats Music Deal Seen as Key to Bolstering Declining iTunes Revenue Momentum

Apple reportedly is close to inking a deal with Beats Electronics for $3 billion, an acquisition that Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty believes is important if Apple wants to further monetize its 800 million iTunes user base and boost revenue in its increasingly important online services division.

Apple’s online services segment, which includes iTunes, is often overlooked because it contributes so little to the company’s overall revenue. But as Huberty points out in a recent message to investors, online services shouldn’t be so casually tossed aside as the segment “is an underappreciated growth and margin lever for Apple.” It may be small, but online services revenue is expected to grow and margins are predicted to increase in 2014, driven primarily by rising App Store revenue.

Online services hold promise, but Apple needs to address iTunes, which is losing ground to rival music services. While App Store revenue is increasing, Huberty notes that iTunes revenue is falling as users turn to streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify to meet their music needs. This decline “raises concerns about Apple’s ability to monetize the new base of emerging market customers,” writes Huberty. According to Huberty’s calculations, each iTunes account spent an average of $3.29 in the first quarter of this year, down 24% year-over-year.

Huberty believes Apple could reverse this trend and improve monetization with the introduction of a subscription music service. One of the quickest ways to launch a subscription music service under the iTunes umbrella would be to acquire an existing service, something Apple appears to be doing with Beats Electronics and its Beats Music service.

Press reports, including the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, suggest Apple is considering the purchase of Beats Electronics, which would give Apple an accessories business focused on headphones and a music streaming service. Apple has not commented and we have no knowledge of any pending deals. However, a subscription music service — whether organically built or acquired — is a logical extension of iTunes.

Spotify, which is generally viewed as the leader in streaming music, has 10M paying subscribers or about 25 % of its over 40M active user base (MAU). If Apple charges $10 per month, same as Spotify, every 1% penetration of Apple’s 800M user base, equates to $960M revenue annually, adding 8 pts of growth to online services and half a point to total company growth.

Apple’s acquisition of Beats would bring not only a streaming music service, but also veteran music producer Jimmy Iovine and musician Dr. Dre to Apple. The pair are considered to be the “big prizes” of the acquisition and could help Apple negotiate favorable music deals for a streaming music service.

Looking beyond Beats, Huberty argues that Apple also could bolster its online services with the introduction of a mobile payments option, an area of opportunity recently acknowledged by CEO Tim Cook. The launch of the rumored iWatch also may contribute to Apple’s online services as customers bolster App Store revenue by purchasing apps compatible with the new device.


AT&T to sell $200 Asus PadFone X on June 6


AT&T on Wednesday detailed the upcoming availability for the Asus PadFone X. The smartphone and tablet hybrid experience will be sold for $200 with a two-year service agreement when it arrives on June 6. Customers can also purchase the device on for $22.92 per month with AT&T Next 18, or $29.80 per month with AT&T Next 12. Yes, for the money, customers get both the 5-inch Android-powered smartphone and the 9-inch PadFone Station dock/table.

The PadFone X runs Android 4.4 KitKat and features a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 16GB internal storage, and a 13-megapixel rear camera.


The post AT&T to sell $200 Asus PadFone X on June 6 appeared first on AndroidGuys.


LG G Flex 2 and Vu 4 confirmed for second half of 2014

LG G Flex 2The LG G3 wasn’t the only thing that LG announced today. While announcement events for the LG G3 took centre stage around the world, LG held a press conference in its native country of Korea to answer a few questions, one of which was when we would be seeing the LG G Flex 2. According to previous rumours, the follow-up to the LG G Flex would be coming in early 2015, however it was announced at today’s conference that the LG G Flex 2 and the Vu 4 would be released in the latter half of 2014.

While we weren’t expecting an announcement like that so soon, LG was predictably coy about leaking any details about the two devices. The original LG G Flex was one of the first devices to make use of flexible display technology, allowing it to have a curved screen. That wasn’t it’s only party trick however as it also incorporated some clever self-healing technology, something that the LG G Flex 2 is allegedly going to one-up with something even more unique. As for predictions for the Vu 4, there’s not much to go on, but it will likely continue along the lines of its predecessor with a 4:3 ratio display.

What do you think about the LG G Flex 2 and Vu 4 coming at the end of this year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source: via Phone Arena

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Apple’s iWatch Said to Feature Round Design, Production May Start This Summer

Based on Taiwanese supply chain sources, analyst Brian Blair of Rosenblatt Securities believes Apple’s iWatch will feature a round face, similar to a traditional watch (via Business Insider). The iWatch design will resemble Motorola’s Moto 360 smart watch, with the Apple version shipping with a slimmer profile.

Balogh-iwatchTraditional watch-style iWatch concept by Gábor Balogh
Apple may begin production of the iWatch in late July, with the goal of producing up to 21 million units in the second half of 2014, claims Blair in a research note to investors. AppleInsider also highlights Blair’s claim that Apple may partner with Quanta Computer to produce the smart watch device, instead of Foxconn which may be busy manufacturing the iPhone 6. Quanta’s involvement in iWatch production has been rumored since last August.

Blair’s sources also believe Apple may be producing multiple models of the iWatch, including one that features a sapphire display cover. This information echoes an earlier report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who claimed the iWatch may ship at various price points and in a variety of materials that allow the smart watch to compete with both low- and high-end watches.

Apple’s iWatch is currently expected to arrive near the end of 2014, with a fashionable design and biometrics that provide basic health monitoring features. It likely will sync with an iOS device sharing data with iOS apps, including the new Healthbook app that is expected to debut in iOS 8. Though an iWatch announcement is not expected for WWDC, Apple will likely unveil some of the early details on iOS 8 at the developer conference next week.


Broadcom’s new chip lets your phone use any wireless charging standard

Broadcom BCM59350 wireless charging chip

Wonder why only a handful of mobile devices support wireless charging? It’s partly because the standards are horribly fragmented: companies have to choose between technologies like PMA, Rezence and Qi, and it’s not clear which of those will last. Broadcom might put the issue to bed with its new (and awkwardly titled) BCM59350 chip, though. The hardware lets gadgets charge using any existing wireless technology — you won’t have to hunt for specific charging pads. It can also handle up to 7.5W of power instead of the usual 5W, so your gear might charge faster than it would using old-fashioned wires.

Broadcom isn’t naming customers or estimating release dates, but test samples have already gone out to “select” partners. It’s doubtful that the chip will resolve confusion over standards; that’s going to require fewer standards or greater compatibility, either of which could take much longer. However, device makers may now be more comfortable including wireless power in their products. It won’t be shocking if it’s much easier to get cable-free charging in your next phone or smartwatch.

Filed under: Cellphones, Peripherals, Mobile


Source: Broadcom


BBC’s major iPlayer update comes to iOS and Android

Incredibly, Windows Phone users were the first to see the BBC’s big mobile iPlayer refresh, but platform parity has now been restored. Continuing its ongoing iPlayer revamp, the Beeb has launched updated versions of its iOS and Android apps, bringing with them up-to-date channel pages, themed programme collections and clearer categories. Both apps now sport a fresh new UI, making it easier to browse and find programmes, and displays subtitles on downloaded shows for the first time. Other sections of the app like Favourites, Downloads and Search remain unchanged, but the BBC says it intends to deliver new features “at regular intervals,” including options like Live Rewind and continuous play. However, the most notable upcoming feature is likely to be Netflix-like cross-platform playback, allowing you to play, stop and pick up where you left off on any device.

Filed under: Mobile


Via: BBC Media Centre

Source: BBC iPlayer (App Store), (Google Play), Windows Phone


Robotics kit steers kids away from complex code, toward fun projects

You”ve likely come into contact with one of the many wondrous robots with an Arduino brain, but actually building one yourself? That’s hard enough for adults, let alone young kids. BirdBrain Technologies, the brains behind the Hummingbird Arduino Kickstarter project (along with Carnegie Mellon University) feels the same way and has just launched the Hummingbird Duo, a robotics Kickstarter project for kids “10 to 110.” It’s designed to ease the robotics learning curve with two boards: the original Hummingbird kit to help younger kids start making projects, and a “Leonardo” board for when they’ve gathered some experience. You’ll get the same building blocks like LEDs, vibration motors, servers and sensors from the original kit, along with an integrated motor/servo shield and improved connectors on the second board.

Luckily, it’s not just boards. There’s free software like the Create visual lab programmer that uses a simple “storyboarding” interface to create the control code. You can also purchase a base kit with hardware to create simple robots, a premium kit with more sensors and motors, and a classroom kit that helps 16-24 students build projects like animatronic puppet shows. That’s far from the gearhead reputation of robots and gives kids a chance to be creative as well as technical. The Hummingbird Duo board starts at $69, while the Base, Premium and Classroom kits run at $129, $225 and $1,500 for early backers, respectively. To sign up, hit Kickstarter here or at the source.

Filed under: Robots, Science


Source: Hummingbird


Samsung will let you swap your DSLR for a free NX30 on June 4th in NYC

If you like free stuff, you’re gonna want to make your way to Times Square on Wednesday, June 4th. Samsung’s hosting a “Ditch Day” event from noon to 6PM, letting you trade in a digital SLR (any DSLR) for a brand-new NX30 mirrorless camera, “while supplies last.” Samsung reps were unable to confirm the number of cams on hand, so if you want the best chance of getting $1,000 worth of free loot, you might want to queue up early. Alternatively, if you can’t get your hands on a DSLR worth “ditching,” you’ll still be able to walk away with a coupon for 50 bucks off a Samsung cam, such as the NX Mini or Galaxy Camera 2, both of which will be on hand for you to try out at the event in NYC.

Filed under: Cameras, Samsung



Amazon welcomes numismatists with new collectible coin store

Amazon’s well known as the one-stop online shop for practically anything you might want, but apparently it has, until now, regretfully underserved numismatists — that’s coin collectors to the uninitiated. According to the company, rare and collectible coinage is one of the most popular product categories people search for on its collectibles and fine art portal. As such, Amazon’s thought it necessary to open a dedicated page (in the US, at least) showcasing such items from “highly regarded dealers.” The Collectible Coins store is now live for your perusal, through which you can even buy a 1907 Saint Gaudens Ultra High Relief Pattern $20 coin — provided you have $3.75 million to hand. Not the best exchange rate, but the shipping’s free, at least.

Filed under: Internet, Amazon


Source: Amazon (1), (2)


Facebook pokes the EU to help push through its WhatsApp purchase

Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp is a done deal in the US, but in Europe, it still has a few more hoops to jump through. In a bid to move things along, the Wall Street Journal reports that the social networking giant is taking the unusual step of actively seeking an investigation into the deal by the European Commission. As it stands, the company will be probed by regulators across Europe, but if the Commission gets involved, Facebook would no longer need to gain approval from each European member state. That could possibly push the deal through a little bit faster. Facebook’s decision to go direct likely stems from opposition it currently faces from European carriers, which are worried that the social network would dominate the text and photo messaging market (read: kill SMS revenues). For the Commission to get involved, Facebook needs proof that it’s already under review in at least three EU countries. It isn’t clear if that’s the case, but if it is, a Facebook-owned WhatsApp would likely become a reality a lot sooner than is currently expected.

Filed under: Internet, Software, Facebook


Source: The Wall Street Journal

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