This was a big week for huge corporate profits. Microsoft and Nintendo reported healthy business growth to start off the latest earnings season. Amazon announced that it will be bumping the subscription cost for Prime by 20 percent. And a knockoff Mark Zuckerberg separated a number of fools from their hard earned money. Numbers, because how else are you supposed to calculate your net worth, acts of altruism?
32 percent: Looks like the computer-buying public is finally fed up with Apple’s recent spate of hardware “upgrades,” given that Microsoft announced its third-quarter earnings, totaling $1.1 billion in revenue. That’s a huge jump over last year’s paltry figure of just $831 million.
$120: Amazon Prime subscribers are in for a rude awakening come May. The company announced this week that it will be increasing the price of its annual subscription by 20 percent, from $100 to $120, for its US customers. Sounds like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is gearing up to finally start shopping at Whole Foods.
25 percent: Out of the more than 200 fake Zuckerberg Facebook and Instagram accounts that The New York Times discovered during a recent expose, 51 of them were running lottery scams. To be fair though, its your own fault if you fell for one of these. Zuck doesn’t want your money, he wants your data.
17.79 million units: Nintendo seemed to be on the ropes for a while there, its Wii game system getting absolutely pummeled by console heavyweights Microsoft and Sony. But with a spectacular reversal, Nintendo is fighting back. The company announced this week that it had sold 2.93 million Switch consoles in the first three months of 2018, down from the 7.23 million it sold in the previous three but still more than the Wii did during its entire production run.
$15: Got an online grievance but are short on cash? Fear not, for less than the cost of a night at the movies you too can hire a 19-year-old Serbian guy to DDoS your internet rival back to the stone age. Or at least you could up until the point that he got nabbed by the cops.
$155,000: No, seriously, that’s what Volvo actually expects you to spend for its upcoming luxury hybrid named after a stripper, the Polestar 1, through its new subscription service.
$61 million: We really are living in the Upside Down. Twitter announced this week that it turned a profit last quarter, the second time in a row that’s happened.
After years of on-again, off-again talks, it’s official: T-Mobile and Sprint have announced plans to merge. The all-stock, $26 billion deal values Sprint at $59 billion (the combined company would be worth $146 billion) and will give T-Mobile the reins, with the carrier’s John Legere serving as CEO and Mike Sievert continuing to operate as COO. Sprint chief Marcelo Claure will serve on the board of directors alongside Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Sprint’s parent company SoftBank. As for the ostensible reason for the merger? If you ask the networks, it’s all about 5G.
The two claim they can roll out a “broad and deep” 5G network faster together than they would by themselves. They also try to head off concerns about reduced competition by claiming that the 5G landscape involves a lot more than just mobile, as you primarily saw with LTE and earlier technologies. As 5G is becoming useful for fixed broadband, the unified T-Mobile and Sprint would ostensibly compete against cable providers like Comcast and Charter in addition to wireless giants AT&T and Verizon.
There’s a degree of truth to these claims. In addition to varying coverage maps, the two have wide swaths of wireless spectrum that only sometimes overlap (Sprint has the 800MHz and 2.5GHz bands, for example, while T-Mobile has 600MHz and 700MHz). You could see more comprehensive coverage. And there’s no question that 5G’s gigabit-class bandwidth and low lag make it more of a viable option for fixed internet access. The first 5G deployments are focused on replacing broadband, not upgrading the smartphone in your hands.
It’s not yet clear how this would affect sub-brands like MetroPCS, Boost, Mobile and Virgin Mobile.
If regulators clear the deal, it should close “no later than” sometime in the first half of 2019. However, that’s a big “if.” While the current US government is typically anti-regulation, it hasn’t exactly been kind to telecom-related mergers — just ask AT&T how its Time Warner merger is going. And it’s hard to escape flashbacks to 2011, when officials shot down AT&T’s attempt to buy T-Mobile amid widespread fears of reduced wireless competition. T-Mobile and Sprint have maintained that their unified company will actually produce more jobs (T-Mobile points to the wake of its MetroPCS acquisition as evidence), but large companies always claim this. Regulators will want to see proof that the combined entity won’t promptly slash thousands of jobs in the name of eliminating overhead.
Is this a good deal? It’s hard to say at this early stage. While this would unfortunately reduce the US to just three major cell carriers, the existing situation wasn’t exactly utopian. T-Mobile has been growing briskly in the past five years, more than doubling its subscriber base, but it still has ‘just’ 39 million total customers to AT&T’s 89.3 million consumers and Verizon’s 116.2 million connections (this includes some fixed wireless users). And while Sprint has been recovering from its worst days, it’s still growing slowly and bleeding cash with 54.6 million users across its various brands. A merger could create a third company on the same scale as AT&T and Verizon, forcing the incumbents to offer more competitive pricing… that is, assuming T-Mobile and Sprint don’t use the merger as an opportunity to rest on their laurels.
Source: T-Mobile, Sprint
Android is the go-to operating system for those that aren’t into iOS, but that may not be the case forever. Samsung has been developing its own Tizen OS for some time now, even using it on some smartphones. Now it could be Huawei’s turn: The South China Morning Post says Huawei has been working on an Android alternative.
There are a few reasons an Android alternative might be important for Huawei. For starters, trade and security tensions between the U.S. and China have placed ZTE under threat of losing its Android license from Google. Huawei, another Chinese company, could be under the same threat.
Even without U.S.-China tensions, there are plenty of reasons Huawei might want to explore its own technology. For example, the company may be looking to reduce its dependence on other companies in general — as it has done in the mobile processor business. While it does still use third-party processors, many of its devices use chips built by the company itself.
According to the report, the plan to build a new operating system was set in motion by Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, and was really a failsafe in case of a “worst-case scenario.” The operating system hasn’t seen the light of day yet because it simply isn’t as good as Android — but another problem with it could be that it doesn’t have enough third-party support. Even if it is developing its own operating system, it’s possible that Google’s apps and services will still be available on it — though that will depend on the operating system itself.
The company isn’t being all that public about the new operating system just yet. According to a statement from the company, it has “no plans to release its own OS in the foreseeable future.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard reports of Huawei building its own operating system. In 2012, it was reported that the company was developing an operating system in case it could no longer use Android or Windows Mobile. Since then, Microsoft’s focus has shifted away from Windows Mobile, really leaving only one option — Android.
- Here’s everything you need to know about the Huawei P20
- Report: Best Buy has broken ties with Huawei and will no longer sell its phones
- Huawei to refocus its efforts on other markets in the face of U.S. roadblocks
- Huawei P20 Pro vs Google Pixel 2 XL: Can the P20 Pro dethrone Android royalty?
- Apple releases an iOS update to fix infamous Telegu text bug
The iPhone X launched to stellar reviews and equally strong sales, but Fast Company is reporting that demand has slowed considerably. A source within Apple’s supply chains has said that the company plans to make a mere eight million units for the second quarter of this year.
Part of the problem stems from the simple fact that the rush of holiday sales convinced Apple to produce too many iPhone X units and now needs to “burn off” its supply. In total, Apple sold more than 77 million iPhones during the 2017 holiday season. Tim Cook has said that the iPhone X outsold all other models every week of the first quarter since its release. This tracks with Above Avalon analyst Neil Cybart’s estimate that the iPhone X accounted for about 35 percent of all smartphone sales during the holiday season.
Demand for the device has slowed down considerably since then, however, and Apple’s supply chain reflects this new reality. TSMC, which produces many of the chips used in the iPhone X, warned investors of falling demand for its chips. Analysts expected TSMC to earn about $8.8 billion, but the company’s quarterly guidance reports say that number is closed to $7.8 to $7.9 billion.
Australia-based AMS, which makes some of the components used in Apple’s facial recognition system, warned that it expects its second-quarter revenue to be half what it was in the first.
Internally, there are reports that some within Apple are disappointed in the iPhone X sales and have questioned the wisdom of releasing a $1,000 smartphone. This mindset may help determine Apple’s game plan for 2018. The company is expected to release three new iPhones this year, including a 6.1-inch LCD model.
The LCD phone could be priced as low as $550. Some sources within Apple say that the company expects this more affordable iPhone to account for as much as 50 percent of unit sales once it is launched.
None of this means that the iPhone X is a failure. Cybart estimates that, by the time the 2018 iPhones launch, the iPhone X will have sold 60 million units and earned Apple $59 billion in revenue. There are plenty of companies that would love to have that level of “disappointment.”
- Apple will halve iPhone X production after limp holiday sales, report says
- Apple beats revenue forecast in first quarter, but iPhone sales took a hit
- Apple passes Samsung in smartphone sales, as newer models are shunned
- Entry-level MacBooks may make an appearance in June at WWDC 2018
- Apple iPhone X Plus: News, rumors, specs, and more
Earlier this month, a Russian court gave regulators the authority to block Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging app that’s used not only by an estimated 13 million Russian users but Kremlin officials as well.
It was like releasing a bull in a china shop — or a bear in the Russian Tea Room.
As government officials tried to pull the plug on Telegram, the company responded by repeatedly switching IP addresses, encouraging users to rely on VPNs, and moving to American hosts Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. After playing what the New York Times called “whack-a-mole” with thousands of individual IP addresses, the regulatory agency Roskomnadzor ham-handedly began blacking out entire subnets.
The entire Russian internet quickly spiraled into chaos, with hundreds of unrelated businesses unable to access the web. Among those affected was Viber, a Kremlin-approved messaging service, as well as museums, car dealerships, and schools.
Tanya Lokot, an expert on Russian digital media, explained in an interview with Slate that the clumsy nature of enforcement by Roskomnadzor is not unusual. “There have been a lot of complaints against Roskomnadzor because they do a lot of arbitrary blocking,” she said. “In Russia, I don’t think anybody is terrified of Roskomnadzor in terms of the power it has. People are more terrified of its incompetence.”
Telegram is quite popular in Russia because of its encryption. Legislation introduced in 2016 mandated that all messaging services needed to provide back-door access to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).
Maria V. Alyokhina, a member of the band Pussy Riot, which has been a thorn in the Kremlin’s side for several years, spearheaded a public protest against the ban. Demonstrators littered the sidewalk in front of the FSB with paper airplanes, the corporate symbol of Telegram.
The country has previously attempted to make all internet communication companies store their information on Russian servers, and even suggested that Russia might disconnect from the rest of the world and create its own internet.
Some experts fear this could be a warm-up act for blocking even high-profile companies. “The Kremlin could safely move on to block Facebook or Twitter,” Russian intelligence expert Andrei Soldatov wrote in a tweet. “Political costs cannot be higher than now. I hope it was not the plan all along.”
A week like today, and the Kremlin could safely move on to block Facebook or Twitter. Political costs cannot be higher than now. I hope it was not the plan all along.
— Andrei Soldatov (@AndreiSoldatov) April 17, 2018
Lokot agreed. “They’re willing to go this far to basically shut down half of the Russian internet and disrupt the work of so many other companies, including Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and a bunch of Russian companies,” she said.
- Telegram app is a favorite of Kremlin officials, but Russia wants to block it
- Russia bans Popular messenger app Telegram, Kremlin must use new service
- How to block text messages on iOS and Android
- France is making its own WhatsApp clone in response to surveillance fears
- Staff at Russian nuclear facility caught using supercomputer to mine Bitcoins
Arguably the hottest phone of the year, so far, is the Samsung Galaxy S9+, with its 6.2-inch QHD+ Super Amoled screen, Dolby Atmos stereo speakers, dual aperture camera lens, and powerhouse 6GB of RAM. This is the phone for anyone and everyone who loves to watch movies and TV shows on their phone, play games non-stop, and keep productive on the go, thanks to such a large screen.
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Samsung has brought a lot to the table this year, and the Galaxy S9+ features the very best when it comes to the Samsung experience. There are productivity features, like real-time translation through the camera, so you can find you way in foreign lands or translate documents on the fly. There are fun features, like AR emoji and stickies. And best of all, there’s that gorgeous 2960×1440 infinity display.
Even if you’re not looking to upgrade right now, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is an awesome phone for this year and the next, and it could be yours for free. All you have to do it enter at Android Central Digital Offers!
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Step up your audio game.
The AmazonBasics 2.0 Channel Bluetooth Sound Bar is down to $44.78 right now. That’s more than $25 off the average price and $5 better than the last time it went on sale.
This 31-inch sound bar features dual full-range stereo speakers (up to 90dB) and comes with its own remote control, as it’s not compatible with universal or TV remotes. Best suited for televisions less than 42 inches, this product has three sound modes including Standard for TV programs, News for programs filled with mainly dialogue, and Movie for optimized soundtracks. It also features Bluetooth so you can stream sound from your phone, tablet or computer seamlessly.
Amazon offers free tech support for 60 days after delivery with this item, so you can easily get assistance with setup, connection, troubleshooting and more.
See on Amazon
Tiny but powerful.
This yellow AmazonBasics Nano Bluetooth speaker is down to $7.89. It normally sells for $15, so this deal is almost half off its regular price. It has never gone lower than $12 before. Blue is also on sale for $8.03. Both speakers are fluctuating up and down in price but anything under $10 is a steal.
This is a tiny, portable, speaker with a silicon handle. You can carry it or hang it. It has a Bluetooth range of 30 feet and works with any Bluetooth device from any platform. The battery will provide up to six hours of playback. The design is splash-resistant. It also has a built-in mic so you can use it to answer the phone. Users give it 4 stars based on 629 reviews.
See on Amazon
Tesla will be one of the first to tell you not to put too much faith in Autopilot. It’s currently more of an advanced driver assist than a full self-driving system. However, one driver recently ignored that advice in dramatic fashion. Nottingham, UK resident Bhavesh Patel has received an 18-month driving ban after he was caught sitting in the passenger seat of his Model S on the M1 in May 2017. The man said he invoked Autopilot and was betting that its “amazing” semi-autonomous guidance would keep the car rolling at the estimated 40MPH of surrounding traffic.
He didn’t crash, but that obviously didn’t matter. Police noted that what he did was “grossly irresponsible” and was risking not just his life, but those of “other innocent people.” On top of the ban, Patel has to work 100 unpaid hours, conduct 10 days of rehabilitation and pay £1,800 (about $2,480) in prosecution costs.
It almost goes without saying why doing this would be dangerous: Autopilot can keep your car in its lane and maintain a traffic-appropriate speed, but it won’t perform evasive maneuvers or otherwise react well in emergencies. There is a question about how long Patel managed to keep Autopilot going, though. The system requires that you keep your hands on the wheel. Ignore warnings for a minute and Autopilot will not only switch off for the rest of the drive, but (if you continue to ignore it) bring the car to a complete halt. Patel most likely stayed in the passenger’s seat for just a brief period, but it’s slightly disconcerting that he had any time to crawl around the Model S without Autopilot bringing his experiment to a premature end.
Man pleads guilty to dangerous driving after switching on his car’s autopilot and moving over to the passenger seat while travelling along the M1 near #HemelHempstead: https://t.co/GrKppSLVZT pic.twitter.com/JPYgk9eyDM
— Herts Police (@HertsPolice) April 27, 2018
Via: Telegraph, Electrek
Source: Hertfordshire Constabulary (Twitter)
By popular request, Ben is tearing down the retro Sega Saturn games console. Back in the day, the Saturn was Sega’s attempt to compete against Sony’s PlayStation, even though it already had a CD-based console add-on for the Genesis / Mega Drive in the form of the Sega CD. In this episode we check out the internals of the Sega Saturn and what chips and processors were used, including the ubiquitous Motorola 68000. What hardware have you tore down or made portable? Let the team know over on the element14 Community.