Displaying items by tag: market

US tech giant announces recruitment cutback

Written on Tuesday, 22 January 2019 06:26

US technology giant Apple has announced that it will impose a recruitment cutback - which has been primarily forced due to weak sales on the company’s iPhone devices in the lucrative Chinese market.

Bloomberg has reported that Apple CEO, Tim Cook, announced the recruitment cutbacks just a day after he sent a letter to Apple investors that warned the company was bracing itself for a year-on-year decline in revenue for its fiscal Q1, which would shave $5bn from its guidance. 

In a series of meetings that were held following the disclosure, it was reported that Cook informed some staff that a number of divisions would reduce hiring, but stated that he didn’t think a complete freeze in recruitment would be an appropriate solution to take.

In addition to this, it has been further disclosed that the CEO is also yet to determine which divisions will face hiring cutbacks. However, it is believed that divisions such as Apple’s AI team will not be affected due to the leverage of investment made by the US tech company into the emerging technology.

The move will also not affect plans to open a state-of-the-art new office in Austin, Texas or its expansion plans in Los Angeles, where the company is fleshing out its original video content ambitions.

Bloomberg also pointed out that Apple has hired new staff at a significant rate over the past decade. The company recruited 9,000 workers in its most recent fiscal year, taking the total up to 132,000, while adding 7,000 a year earlier.

Published in Devices

US tech giant signs content agreement with Samsung

Written on Tuesday, 08 January 2019 09:22

US technology behemoth Apple has signed a new agreement with Samsung in relation to its streaming and content services in an effort to offset a decline in iPhone sales. The deal brokered between Apple and the South Korean conglomerate will enable the use of iTunes streaming services on Samsung smart TVs.

Published in Telecom Vendors

To support the accelerated build out of 5G in the United States, European telecommunications vendor Ericsson will increase its investment in the market. This series of strategic initiatives will allow Ericsson to operate even closer to its customers, meeting the growing demand for 5G globally and in the region.

The investments will fall into two categories: 1) increase research and development work done close to customers in the US and 2) increase flexibility to shorten the timeline for new product introduction and product delivery to customers. This will enable Ericsson to recruit new expertise from the US, complementing the company’s existing highly-skilled employees in the region.

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson, says: “The United States is our largest market, accounting for a quarter of Ericsson’s business over the last seven years. To serve the demand of these fast-moving service providers, we are strengthening our investment in the US to be even closer to our customers and meet their accelerated 5G deployment plans.”

Ericsson predicts that 5G subscriptions will reach the 150 million-mark, accounting for 48 percent of all mobile subscriptions in North America by the end of 2023.

Increase R&D in the US:

In late 2017, Ericsson opened the Austin ASIC Design Center in Austin, Texas, to focus on core microelectronics of 5G radio base stations to accelerate the path to 5G commercialization. The 1,400-square-meter facility (15,000-square-feet) will have 80 employees once fully staffed.

Ericsson will also open a new software development center with baseband focus in 2018, employing more than 200 software engineers once fully operational. This facility and its employees will further strengthen Ericsson’s 5G software development. Baseband provides intelligence to the radio access network. It is also the interface between the core network and radio units, processing and forwarding voice calls and internet data to end users.

Beginning in 2019, both of these facilities will introduce 5G products and software features into the Ericsson portfolio, and will be available for customers globally, including in the US.

Additionally, Ericsson will increase its investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, employing around 100 specialists in North America by the end of 2018. This team will work on utilizing AI technologies to accelerate automation, examine product road maps and explore new business opportunities. They will focus on boosting the company’s current portfolio, strengthening customer engagements and promote innovation of new disruptive business opportunities.

New product introduction and manufacturing in the US:

To increase flexibility in bringing new products into the market, Ericsson will recruit a dedicated team to work specifically on introducing products for the US market, conducting production engineering, testing/integration and supply preparations on early prototypes. This will be done in close collaboration with US-based R&D resources.

To make 5G products available to customers as fast as possible, Ericsson will also begin manufacturing in the US in the fourth quarter of 2018. This will enable Ericsson to operate closer to customers -- providing volume production of next-generation radios and the fast introduction of new products into the US market. Initially, Ericsson will work with a production partner and the first radios for the US will be produced before the end of 2018.

Published in Telecom Vendors

WhatsApp, which is one of the world’s most popular messaging applications - has finally announced a strategy for the monetization of its service in an effort to address issues regarding its ‘sustainability’. Concerns have long been raised over its sustainability, but now the application which was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $22 billion has revealed its plans.

WhatsApp published a blog post in which it outlined its plans to launch a new innovative service that specifically targets large businesses, with green tick verification badges and a host of other communications tools. In addition to this, it also plans to introduce a ‘free app’ for SME’s.

A spokesperson for the messaging platform said, “Over a billion people use WhatsApp every day to stay connected with their family and friends, and over time, more people are using the app to communicate with businesses they care about too.”

Analysts have claimed that WhatsApp have identified a gaping hole in the market for businesses all over the world, especially those located in Asia, where the platform is a staple, use the service as a free way of connecting merchants and consumers. On the company’s blog post it highlighted information gathered from a survey it conducted, which indicated that users prefer when businesses use WhatsApp as it makes them feel more comfortable buying from a retailer that establishes a connection between the invisible sides of a digital transaction.

The blog post added, “We’ve heard stories of shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone, and from people who are unsure about whether or not a business on WhatsApp is authentic.”

The issue of monetization has always been an issue for technology products as companies have to engage in an education process in order to convince users to get past the notion that digital services are ephemeral enough to not warrant a cost. That’s fine, but tech firms have overheads and employees to pay, which makes it extremely challenging in the sense that one of the biggest problems in the industry are its most integral.

WhatsApp COO, Matt Idema confirmed that the firm does plan on introducing fees for businesses, but claimed that he didn’t yet have the details of what services would be monetized. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said: “We do intend on charging businesses in the future. Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no.”

The COO also disclosed that WhatsApp will commence tests on tools that enable users to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. This could for example allow you to communicate with financial institutions such as a bank over a recent transaction which you believe to be fraudulent - or with an airline over a cancellation or a delay.

WhatsApp continues to appear reluctant to want to go down the advertising route, which is in stark contrast to its parent company, Facebook, whose entire business is funded by huge advertising revenues. Facebook began introducing sponsored posts in its Messenger app in July of this year as it seeks new ways to engage users of its messaging service with advertising clients. However, it’s plain to see that Facebook is now pushing for WhatsApp to make its acquisition worthwhile.

Published in Apps

Mobile Klinik, Canada’s fastest growing professional smartphone and tablet repair chain, today announced completion of an acquisition of mobilFIX and Dr. Mobile smartphone repair businesses for an undisclosed amount. The chain has nine smartphone repair outlets, with seven established locations in the Edmonton area and two other stores opening soon, also in Alberta.

“This acquisition both accelerates our profitable growth and will anchor our growth strategy in Western Canada,” said Rob Bruce, Founding Partner and CEO, Mobile Klinik. “We are excited to work with the talented team at mobilFIX and Dr. Mobile to serve Albertans with while-you-wait, fully warrantied professional smartphone and tablet repair.

Sunil Goel, former CEO of mobilFIX and Dr. Mobile (www.mobilfix.ca) will take on a new national role at Mobile Klinik. He said: “Joining forces with Mobile Klinik gives us access to growth capital, experienced leadership, and an opportunity for our team to join the most professional smartphone repair company in Canada.”

mobilFIX and Dr. Mobile, established in 2013, operate two locations each in West Edmonton Mall. mobilFIX operates another three locations in the Edmonton area. All seven current locations will remain open to serve customers as they transition to the Mobile Klinik brand. The other two locations will open shortly as Mobile Klinik.

Mobile Klinik offers dedicated professional smartphone and tablet repair, most times in less than 60 minutes. Expert technicians offer immediate, on-site diagnosis and quote to repair a broken smartphone or tablet with premium quality parts and a lifetime warranty on parts and labour.

Mobile Klinik’s concept of while you wait professional smartphone repair was introduced to Canada by four Canadian wireless and retail industry leaders: Rob Bruce, former President, Rogers Communications; Ken Campbell, former CEO, WIND Mobile; and Alain Adam and Naaman Zorub, entrepreneurs who operate a number of wireless retail stores and other businesses in Ottawa and Gatineau. Since opening the first store in Ottawa in September 2015, and including today’s announced acquisition, Mobile Klinik operates 20 locations in major shopping malls and other high-traffic retail locations in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. More locations will open soon.

Published in Devices

Chinese telecommunications conglomerate ZTE has increased its market share in the US smartphone industry. Analysts have suggested that its success is down to a combination of aggressive marketing and its manufacturing of cheap and affordable devices.

Research from Counterpoint Technology has indicated that the Chinese firm has enjoyed a rise of 36% in the shipment of its smartphones to the US. ZTE sold 4.8 million units in the second quarter of this year. However, the launch of another big-screen, budget-friendly smartphone in the US is estimated to bring more success for the Chinese vendor.

ZTE is already the fourth largest smartphone vendor in the US, and is increasing the pressure on its rivals which include LG, Samsung and Apple. ZTE has formally announced that it will launch the Blade Z Max after it agreed to enter a partnership with Metro-PCS. It has been disclosed that the new device will retail at $129, which is the same price point as the ZTE Max XL.

ZTE strategy is quite clear, and it is also evident that it is proving to be a very successful one. CEO of ZTE’s mobile devices, Lixin Cheng said the firm’s latest device focuses on high-end specifications at an affordable price in order to make it available for the masses.

ZTE’s new device does boast a number of premium features, which include a six-inch full HD IPS LCD display with a scratch resistant screen. When compared with its much more expensive counterparts such as the iPhone 7 and the OnePlus 5, it has many of the same features and capabilities as those devices. The Blaze Z Max has dual rear cameras at 16 megapixels.

It has been announced that Metro-PCS will begin taking pre-orders for the Blade Z Max online, whilst it will also be available in some selected Metro-PCS stores from August 28th. In addition to being the fourth-largest smartphone vendor in the US, ZTE has also established itself as the second-largest vendor in the no-contract market sector.

The encouraging latest figures released show that ZTE’s US strategy is having the desired effect, and with this latest device launch, which is expected to be a massive success, the future looks bright for the Chinese conglomerate as its aims to accelerate its growth in the US market in 2018.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Chinese e-commerce colossus Alibaba has taken its first venture into developing artificial intelligence home devices by launching its voice assistant speaker, which has drawn comparisons to Amazon’s ‘Echo’.

Alibaba’s voice assistant which will be a low-cost device has been named ‘The T-mall Genie’ after its e-commerce platform T-mall. It will retail at $73.42 which is significantly less than that of its US competitors Amazon and Google’s Alphabet which range between $120-$180 dollars. 

The ‘smart home’ voice assistants are activated by voice commands to perform daily tasks such as searching for weather reports, changing music, using AI to control other ‘smart home’ devices. China’s top technology firms have all expressed their ambitions to become global leaders in relation to AI – which has been evidenced by companies like Amazon and Alibaba increasingly competing in the same markets.

China’s search engine colossus Baidu, has also invested heavily in emerging technologies, and recently announced its investment with the Chinese government for an artificial intelligence lab, whilst it recently launched its own device which was based on its own Siri-like ‘Duer OS system’.

Alibaba’s ‘T-mall Genie has been specifically programmed to use Mandarin as its language and will only be available in China. It is activated when a user recognized by the system utters the words ‘T-mall Genie’ in Chinese. In a demonstration which was streamed live, engineers ordered the device to perform a series of tasks such as order some Coco-Cola, play music, add credit to a phone and activate a smart humidifier and TV.

In addition to its foray into AI devices, Alibaba has continued to invest heavily in offline stores and big data capabilities in an effort to capitalize on the entire supply chain as part of its retail strategy. Analysts have claimed it has striking similarities to strategies already adopted by Amazon.

Published in Internet of Things

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has unveiled its newest flagship smartphone – and the organization is confident the device can have a positive impact in the saturated smartphone industry. Xiaomi CEO conceded that the company had suffered a significant sales slump last year, and that it was going through somewhat of a ‘transitional period’.

However, that pessimism has been replaced with optimism with the launch of the ‘Mi 6’ smartphone. Management at Xiaomi believe the new device can serve as a catalyst that will see them make up for lost ground on rivals, after a disappointing 2016. The Chinese conglomerate launched the ‘Mi 6’ at an event in Beijing, having shelved plans to launch it at MWC in Barcelona, earlier this year.

Well what is so different about this product that has Xiaomi representatives believing it will provide a pathway back to challenge the titans of the smartphone sector? The first striking feature is the similarity to that of the iPhone 7, but the price isn’t one of them. The entry model — featuring 64 GB of storage — comes in at 2499 RMB, that’s around $360, with a 128 GB option (2899 RMB, $420) and ceramic edition (2999 RMB, $435) completing the range. All three are far cheaper than iPhone equivalents, but, interestingly for Xiaomi, the range is more expensive than the company’s usual flagship prices.

Another quite obvious iPhone comparison that stands out is that there is no headphone jack on Xiaomi’s new device, just as Apple elected to do with last year’s iPhone 7. The Chinese firm has seemingly followed that trend, or is doing what makes sense for itself in this instance, that is already ammo for Xiaomi skeptics.

With the Mi 6, Xiaomi has bumped up its RAM to 6GB, the most it has ever offered in a smartphone. The device is powered by a Snapdragon 835 10nm processor with a 64-bit, octa-core CPU with a whopping 3350 mAh battery that the company said will last a day thanks to “optimization” controls built into its MIUI operating system. 

The device will go on sale from a number of selected stores in China in the next few days, expansion into international markets carefully selected by executives will commence at a later date, Xiaomi declined to provide a specific date it plans to initiate this launch. Xiaomi suffered a huge blow when the dynamic face of the organization, Hugo Barra decided to quit the company to lead Facebook’s VR department.

Xiaomi revealed it cleared $1 billion in revenue in India, its second largest market behind China, last year, while Lei Jun added that it ranks second in the country, but nothing has been said of its performance in the other 20-odd countries where its phones are sold.

Published in Gadget

China’s No.1 mobile wallet app, Ant Financial, which is an affiliate of Alibaba Group, has made its move to penetrate the South Korean payment platform market with a $200m investment. However, it’s just the latest in a number of significant overseas investments the Chinese company has made in recent months.

Earlier this week it was announced that Ant Financial had agreed a deal to take a stake in a fin-tech company in the Philippines – the details of the deal were not disclosed, but in a joint statement issued to the press at the time it was outlined that the Chinese web giants would be taking a ‘substantial minority interest’ in Globe Telecom’s Mynt organization.

That deal came just three months after its initial foray into the Southeast Asia market with an investment in Thailand. Now, Ant Financial, which is also a spin-off from Jack Ma’s online shopping empire will invest $200m into South Korea’s Kakao Pay.

Kakao Pay will launch soon and is a subsidiary of messaging app KakaoTalk which will enable people to make cashless payments through their phones for both purchases on the web and in stores. The company was launched in 2010 and has enjoyed great success in South Korea. The chat app is ubiquitous in the country and boasts claims that 97% of the smartphone owners in Korea are active users of the social networking application.

It’s backed up by an array of companion apps, like Kakao Music, Kakao TV, and Kakao Taxi. The upcoming Kakao Pay will be the latest addition. Ant Financial have identified the lucrative potential in Kakao Pay – its own Alipay has over 450 million active users – and is China’s top app for online and in-store payments, and features a whole host of financial services – such as personal investment fund and loans.

Ant’s Korea deal sees Jack Ma’s firm, valued at an estimated US$60 billion ahead of a possible IPO this year, “offer its wide range of digital financial services through Kakao Pay in South Korea,” said the statement.

“South Korea is an important market for Ant Financial in its global expansion, and we see many opportunities in the market for innovative services and growth in mobile payments,” said Douglas Feagin, president of Ant Financial International. South Korea has the world’s highest ownership of smartphones as a percentage of population – 88 percent.

Published in Finance

A leading telecommunications provider has introduced a number of cutting-edge products it has developed which will provide a smooth transition from 4G to 5G. Infinera Corporation, a multinational organization which is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, is a market leader in providing Intelligent Transport Networks.

The organization officially announced via a statement issued to the press that it has expanded its Mobile Fronthaul and Mobile Backhaul Solutions in an effort to support mobile operators as their networks prepare to evolve in order to become 5G ready.

Some of the new products introduced by Infinera include a range of Fronthaul Flexponders and a new addition to their Mobile Backhaul portfolio. However, Infinera also packaged existing equipment that they are able to use in a pre 5G testing environment. Jon Baldry, Marketing Director of Infinera’s Metro Business Unit, explained the benefits and value proposition of the new products developed by the company.

Baldry said: “The value proposition is built around three main attributes of these products - which are flexibility, high performance and openness. The underlying benefit for mobile or wholesale operators of these attributes is protection investment as they bid to enjoy a smooth evolution to 5G. This enables them to build 4G infrastructure today and enjoy a smooth evolution to 5G avoiding rip and replace 4G hardware when they make the move to 5G.”

Marketing Director of Infinera’s Metro Business unit, outlined some of the big changes that will occur when 5G is adopted, although conceded it was difficult to predict when 5G will be fully integrated across the board.

Baldry said: “One of the big things that will happen with 5G compared to 4G is a massive increase in bandwidth. Low Latency is always important in mobile networks and in 5G it is driven by new applications and things like mobile edge computing and similar trends. Fronthaul becomes more pervasive in 5G. Both 5G and 4G are open in the sense of being RAN vendor agnostic, but there will be a much bigger drive in openness in terms of SDN control.”

One of the really big changes is if you look at 2G to 3G – 3G to 4G – typically that kind of migration is simply replacing one network with another – the move to 5G will be using the current 4G infrastructure.

Baldry continued: “The move to 5G will see the continued use of the 4G infrastructure, so there will be new 5G infrastructure that will be put out in the field, the LTE specifications will continue to evolve - in fact the 3GPP is starting work on 5G and anticipates that LTE will continue to mature alongside the 5G standardization. 4G infrastructure needs to coexist with 5G infrastructure, and subsequently there will be a lot of new 5G infrastructure – but the 4G infrastructure will be a key part of how you build a 56 network.”

Principal Analyst, Mobile Networks and 5G at Heavy Reading, Gabriel Brown expects the new technology provided by Infinera to play a key in 5G – but he pointed out some of the challenges faced by operators, pointing to the uncertainty about the functional split in the 5G RAN. Brown said: “Among the challengers operators face are diverse implementation options and uncertainty about the functional split in the 5G RAN, making it critical that high performance fronthaul transport solutions are sufficiently flexible that they can be upgraded, in software, to meet future requirements.”

Jon Baldry said the next big step for Infinera in the transport space is the jump to 5G, but the key thing is while operators are looking at the options for a move to fronthaul now - they’re going to need that flexibility today in order to migrate to 5G without having to rip and replace that transport network.

CTO Metro Business Group at Infinera, Sten Nordell, stated that the radio network requires radical transformation to new 5G infrastructure. “The mobile industry is on the cusp of a step change to 5G, while the radio network needs to radically transform to the new 5G infrastructure and services, the underlying transport network requires a seamless evolution that protects operator investment now.”

He added the organization has begun working with key industry players in order to enable pre-5G networks to be tested against high-performance transport networks and will demonstrate this at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month.

To address these challenges, Infinera has introduced fully open and flexible solutions to extend mobile transport evolution to 5G and Baldry believes the new products launched by Infinera - offer a level of flexibility that none of their competition can compete with. He concluded by saying: “To the best of our knowledge from what we’ve seen in the market nobody else has this level of flexibility that we can offer.”

About the New Open Mobile Transport Solutions launched by Infinera

  • Infinera 5G-ready Mobile Fronthaul Solution 

Adding a new range of flexponders for mobile fronthaul provides mobile operators with deployment flexibility via rack-mounted unit, hardened access unit and hardened clamshell options. Mobile operators also benefit from functional flexibility in which all units are fully reconfigurable to operate as transponders, as muxponders, or in hybrid mode, a level of flexibility that Infinera believes is unique to the industry.

The flexponders enable service flexibility with support for Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) and Open Base Station Architecture Initiative (OBSAI) mobile fronthaul protocols and Ethernet in both 4G and 5G environments. The flexponder features are coupled with the high-performance capabilities required for mobile fronthaul, such as low latency, superior synchronization and new fronthaul-specific capabilities including real-time delay compensation that enables better support for RAN in fiber protection scenarios.

  • Infinera Packet-Optical Mobile Backhaul Solution

Infinera’s Mobile Backhaul Solution now includes a new EMXP Access Unit that extends Infinera’s range of packet-optical transport switches to hardened environments such as street and cell site cabinets. The new unit supports a common software and feature set with the rest of the EMXP range, which includes Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) services, low latency, superior Synchronous Ethernet and 1588v2 synchronization and sophisticated network resilience options. 

  • Infinera Open Architecture

Infinera’s Mobile Fronthaul and Backhaul Solutions are designed to be fully open to support SDN control by any orchestrator and offer the ability to transport any radio vendor’s equipment. For mobile backhaul, the full range of Infinera’s EMXP units now also supports a direct Openflow interface, controlled by Infinera’s Xceed Software Suite. This provides a multi-layer SDN control platform and SDN applications.

 

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