Qualcomm President Derek Aberle Quits Amid Legal Battle With Apple

Qualcomm President Derek Aberle, who was closely fighting a legal battle with Apple, has quit after a successful 17-year career.

According to a Qualcomm statement late on Thursday, Aberle has decided to quit after he helped drive the company’s overall global strategy and vision as a member of the company’s Executive Committee.

Aberle will stay till December 31 for a smooth transition.

“On behalf of the Executive Team, I want to thank Derek for the vision, creativity, dedication, and judgment he brought to the company and wish him all the best in the future,” said Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf.

Over the past 30 years, Qualcomm has invented the core technologies that have enabled the mobile revolution and made all modern smartphones possible.

“I am very proud to have been a part of that tradition of innovation, and of all that we’ve been able to accomplish during my tenure,” added Aberle.

Executive Vice President Alex Rogers would now report directly to Qualcomm CEO Mollenkopf.

Qualcomm President Derek Aberle Quits Amid Legal Battle With AppleTo find a solution to the protracted legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) was set to start a probe into the chip-maker’s claims that Apple violated its patents in devices like the iPhone 7.

Qualcomm has asked the ITC to stop further sales of iPhones equipped with cellular baseband modem processors made by rival chip-producer Intel.

The mobile-phone chip-maker claimed that Apple violated potentially six of its patents in how it uses the Intel modems.

Apple began using Intel cellular modems for some versions of the iPhone 7 launched last year, with the remaining supplied by Qualcomm.

Apple continues to reassert claims it made in its lawsuit against Qualcomm, saying “the chipmaker supplies Apple with a single connectivity component, but for years has been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products – effectively taxing Apple’s innovation”.

Apple to Build Iowa Data Centre, Get $207.8 Million in Incentives

Apple Inc will build a $1.375 billion (roughly Rs. 8,813 crores) data centre in Waukee, Iowa, Apple and state officials said on Thursday, with $207.8 million (roughly Rs. 1,332 crores) in incentives approved by the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Waukee city council.

Apple will purchase 2,000 acres (8.09 square km) of land in Waukee, about 20 miles (32km) west of Des Moines, to build two data centres. The company will receive a $19.65 million (roughly Rs. 126 crores) investment tax credit for creating 50 jobs.

Apple said the project will generate more than 550 jobs in construction and operations, but did not specify how many of those jobs would be long-term positions.

Speaking alongside Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said the facility “will create hundreds of jobs for people in Iowa from construction to engineering.”

Cook said Apple will contribute up to $100 million (roughly Rs. 641 crores) towards a “public improvement fund” for the city of Waukee, adding the first project supported by the fund will be a youth sports complex that “will be open to all.”

The bulk of the subsidy is a planned $188.2 million (roughly Rs. 1,206 crores) property tax abatement of 71 percent over 20 years provided by the city of Waukee, according to economic development officials.

Apple to Build Iowa Data Centre, Get $207.8 Million in IncentivesState subsidies to technology employers have become a key issue in Midwestern states such as Wisconsin, where Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, is seeking $3 billion in subsidies for a $10 billion (roughly Rs. 64,090 crores) LCD panel plant. The incentive package passed Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled state Assembly last week by a 59-30 margin.

Foxconn is a major Apple supplier, but is not expected to make any Apple products at its proposed US plant.

The Iowa data centre will join Apple facilities in California, Nevada, Oregon and North Carolina, which also host services such as iCloud, Apple Music and the App Store.

“This new data centre will play a very important role in the App Store’s continued success,” Cook said. “As the App Store grows, we look forward to growing in Iowa.”

Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Microsoft Corp also maintain data centres in Iowa.

Apple will spend $110 million (roughly Rs. 705 crores) to acquire and prepare the land for its data centres in Iowa, according to economic development officials.

The bulk of the costs, $620 million (roughly Rs. 39,74 crores), will go towards construction. Apple will spend $600 million (roughly Rs. 3,845 crores) on computer equipment, with $45 million (roughly Rs. 288 crores) going towards other equipment.

Apple to Spend $1 Billion on TV Programming: Report

The potential move of Apple into streaming video could reshape an industry which is already feeling the impact from new players like Netflix.

While Apple has not revealed any plans publicly, a report that the iPhone maker could spend a billion dollars on its own shows suggested more disruption for a sector seeing rapid changes.

The move by deep-pocketed Apple would challenge entrenched services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime, which have been increasingly challenging the established media-entertainment world of Hollywood.

Apple declined to comment on a Wall Street journal report on its billion-dollar budget for new content.

Analysts consider original, exclusive content imperative for fielding a viable video streaming service, something that Apple has yet to do despite being early to market with an Apple TV set-top box linked to the Internet.

“If Apple wants to stay relevant they have to go into the subscription streaming space, and that means original content,” said Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson.

Analyst Paul Verna at eMarketer said video fits nicely into Apple’s business strategy: “Content is a vital missing link that could help Apple complete a powerful ecosystem of programming, devices and services,” he said.

Global streaming television king Netflix is expected to spend about $7 billion this year on content, with slightly less than half of that money going to making its shows it can distribute how and where it wishes.

‘Kick-Ass’
Netflix recently ordered a new animated adult comedy from The Simpsons mastermind Matt Groening.

The Silicon Valley-based company is also buying comic book publisher Millarworld, creator of popular series including Kick-Ass and Kingsman.

Netflix said in a statement the deal was part of the company’s effort “to work directly with prolific and skilled creators and to acquire intellectual property and ownership of stories featuring compelling characters and timeless, interwoven fictional worlds.”

Netflix describes itself as the world’s leading internet television network, with 104 million members in more than 190 countries.

During a recent quarterly earnings call, Amazon executives once again vowed to ramp spending on original shows this year as the internet giant chases after Netflix with is Prime service.

While Amazon doesn’t reveal exact figures, its budget for shows is said to be in the billions of dollars.

Google continues to make a priority of content for YouTube, which features a subscription service along with free shared video posts.

Facebook too is rolling out a new video service offering professionally produced shows in a challenge to rivals such as YouTube, and potentially to streaming providers like Netflix.

The Facebook service called Watch will include a range of shows, from reality to comedy to live sports. Facebook has funded some of the creators to get the service going.

Apple to Spend $1 Billion on TV Programming: ReportMoney to burn
These moves comes as viewers in the US and other markets increasingly turn to on-demand internet platforms instead of “linear” television.

Hollywood powerhouse Walt Disney Company this month announced plans to launch a “multi-sport” streaming service under its ESPN brand in early 2018 and a Disney branded direct-to-consumer service in 2019.

HBO and CBS also have standalone streaming options.

Entering a market late and succeeding would be nothing new for Apple, Dawson said while discussing unconfirmed talk of the company investing in original shows.

An Apple Music service launched in a streaming radio market with dominant players, but is now second only to Spotify, the analyst noted.

Apple could get the same kind of results in streaming video, not overtaking Netflix over the short term but quickly becoming a force to be reconned with in the market, Dawson said.

While Apple has about a quarter of a trillion dollars in cash stockpiled, providing ample cash to spend on original content, such a move could distract it from the devices on which the company’s fortune rests, according to analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.

Entertainment is also a very different industry than making iPhones, and comes with film talent to manage and other challenges likely new to Apple, Enderle said.

“Entertainment is no cheap date; it is a very hands-on business,” Enderle said.

“I think that because Apple is having so much difficulty coming up with innovation in their core area, they are starting to panic and come up with ‘Hail Mary’ passes in other areas.”

Apple’s Search for a Talented Engineer Revealed in Secret Job Posting

A secret job posting from Apple has been discovered that confirms that the company is looking for a “talented engineer.” The job posting, located on a hidden Applepage, was first reported by ZDNet’s Zach Whittaker. Finding the page appears to be part of the eligibility, and the listing clearly indicates that the company is looking for analytic capabilities. The job posting said, “Hey there! You found us. We are looking for a talented engineer to develop a critical infrastructure component that is to be a key part of the Apple ecosystem.”

The job listing says that the Cupertino-based giant is looking for computer skills that can deal with “critical infrastructure component.” At the moment, it isn’t clear why Apple hid the new job posting on its website. It is being said that whoever managed to find the hidden job listing on the website could land a job at Apple. For those unaware, Apple has a dedicated job listing page where it lists all kinds of job.

Apple's Search for a Talented Engineer Revealed in Secret Job PostingIt explains that the engineer will have to deal with exabytes of data capacity, look tens of thousands of servers, and millions of disks. Notably, the secret job listing has been pulled now. Apart from explaining importance of the job role, the secret job listing also talks about the type of employee Apple is looking for.

Under key qualifications, Apple describes the type of skill it requires from the new engineer. The listing writes, “Experience designing, implementing, and supporting highly scalable applications, and web services. Comfortable working with Java 8. Familiarity with modern server technologies, and familiarity with distributed system ideas.”

The job listing further also hints that the engineer will have to work with a small team though will be provided with resources of a large company.

Samsung Bixby Voice Support Now Rolling Out to Globally to Over 200 Countries

Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby finally supports voice globally, with the South Korean giant rolling out the update in over 200 countries around the world. The company has confirmed that Bixby’s voice capabilities are now expanding to countries worldwide. This comes a month after it began rolling out in the US for Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users. Bixby still understands voice commands only in English and Korean.

“Starting today, Galaxy S8 and S8+ users can enable Bixby’s voice capabilities by pressing the Bixby button to begin onboarding,” Samsung said in a blog. Bixby’s voice capabilities was first available in South Korea and later rolled out in the US. Starting Tuesday, the feature will be available in countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, and South Africa. The update is yet to roll out in India.

Samsung says that it plans to continue expanding Bixby’s voice capabilities to additional countries, languages, devices, features and third-party applications, which will help improve the AI’s learning process to offer more intelligent and personalised assistance.

Samsung Bixby Voice Support Now Rolling Out to Globally to Over 200 CountriesGalaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users around the world can check whether voice support has rolled out to their devices by tapping the Bixby button to begin onboarding. Bixby voice can be activated by holding the dedicated button on Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphone or by simply saying “Hi, Bixby.”

Samsung’s voice assistant works similar to Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. Users can use Bixby voice to set alarms and send text messages and perform various actions via pre-installed apps and third-party apps that support Bixby. She of the third-party apps that support Bixby as of now include Google Maps, Google Play Music, YouTube, and Facebook.

The global rollout of Bixby voice comes just a day before the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, which is also expected to feature a dedicated Bixby button. This could suggest that the phablet will come with Bixby voice support out-of-the-box once shipping begins.

HTC Vive VR Headset Gets a Price Cut, India Price Slashed to Rs. 76,990

HTC has given its virtual reality headset – the Vive – a Rs. 16,000 price cut in India, which brings the total cost down to Rs. 76,990. This follows on the heels of Monday’s $200 (about Rs. 12,800) price cut in the US, where the Vive now costs $599 (about Rs. 38,400). Even with the price cut, the HTC Vive in India still costs more than double the US price.

With that, HTC is trying to keep up with its biggest competitor, Oculus Rift, which currently retails for $399 (about Rs. 25,600) as part of a summer sale, though its base price is $499 (about Rs. 32,000).

The price drop is also coming into affect in other regions: in the UK, the Vive now costs GBP 599 (about Rs. 49,500), it’s down to EUR 699 (about Rs. 52,700) in rest of Europe, AUD 999 (about Rs. 50,500) in Australia, and USD 859 (Rs. 55,000) in New Zealand.

HTC Vive VR Headset Gets a Price Cut, India Price Slashed to Rs. 76,990If you make a new HTV Vive purchase, you’ll also get a one-month free trial to HTC’s Viveport subscription service, which offers access to a over 200 VR games. You can pick a maximum of five titles in a month.

“We work tirelessly to continue to iterate and improve on Vive to deliver on the promise of VR,” Matthew Gepp, HTC Vive’s senior social media manager, said in the announcement. “Google, Apple, Intel, UPS, Volkswagen, SalesForce and dozens of other global brands have all lined up with Vive for their VR efforts, and there’s more to come in the back half of the year.”

The Vive is also getting triple-A video games later this year, Gepp pointed out, in the likes of Fallout 4 VR, and Doom VFR. Both titles will also be available on PlayStation VR.

Walmart Partners Google to Launch Voice-Activated Shopping

Walmart is diving into voice-activated shopping. But unlike online leader Amazon, it’s not doing it alone.

The world’s largest retailer said Wednesday it’s working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items from laundry detergent to Legos for voice shopping through Google Assistant. The capability will be available in late September.

It’s Google’s biggest retail partnership – and the most personalized shopping experience it offers – as it tries to broaden the reach of its voice-powered assistant Home speaker. And it underscores Walmart’s drive to compete in an area dominated by Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo device.

“Voice shopping is becoming a more important part of everyday shopping behavior,” said Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart’s US e-commerce business.

The voice-activated devices are becoming more mainstream as they become more accessible. Even Apple has one coming out this year. Walmart has said Google’s investment in natural language processing and artificial intelligence will help make voice-activated shopping even more popular.

And Lore said the personalization of the partnership means people can shout out generic items like milk, bread and cheese, and Google Assistant will know exactly the brands and the size that the user wants.

Google introduced shopping to Home in February, letting people use voice to order essentials from more than 40 retailers like Target and Costco under its Google Express program. But that was far behind the Echo, available since late 2014.

Walmart, which has more stores than any other retailer and the largest share of the U.S. grocery market, is also working hard to close the gulf online between itself and Amazon.

Walmart Partners Google to Launch Voice-Activated ShoppingIt has overhauled its shipping strategy and is expanding store-curb pickup for groceries ordered online. But it’s also had to look beyond itself and form partnerships. Walmart announced Monday that it’s expanding its grocery delivery service with ride-hailing service Uber, and it’s been testing same-day delivery service with Deliv at Sam’s Club in Miami.

Amazon generally has been building its network of services on its own, using its $99-a-year Prime membership with same-day and even one-hour shipping options to develop loyalty.

It’s also been drawing in customers with its Alexa-powered devices. Amazon doesn’t give sales figures for Echo, but Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated that it’s sold more than 10 million Alexa-powered Echo devices in the U.S. since late 2014. That includes the core $179 Echo as well as the less expensive and smaller Echo Dot and the portable Amazon Tap.

To be more competitive with Amazon, Google Express is scrapping the $95-a-year membership starting Wednesday, allowing shoppers to get free delivery within one to three days on orders as long as the purchase is above each store’s minimum.

Walmart is integrating its Easy Reorder feature – which has data on both store and online purchases – into Google Express. Shoppers who want to reorder their favorites have to link their Walmart account to Google Express.

With other Google Express retailers, personalization takes time as the assistant learns shoppers’ preferences, says Brian Elliott, general manager of Google Express. So the quick personalization with Walmart should make voice-activated shopping more attractive, he says.

While one of Walmart’s biggest advantages over Amazon is its massive number of stores, Amazon’s nearly $14 billion offer for Whole Foods could shake up the landscape.

Walmart says it will be tapping its 4,700 U.S. stores and its fulfillment network next year to offer more kinds of customer experiences using voice shopping. For example, shoppers can tell Google Assistant they want to pick up an order in a store. Lore said the company wants to make voice shopping as easy as possible.

“That’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google. We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be,” Lore wrote in a corporate blog post.

Independent internet analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodal, who was unaware of the Google deal at the time of the interview, says Walmart is going in the right direction, though it has a long way to go. She noted that partnerships with companies like Uber enable the discounter to get the business “up and running” and it will be able to learn a lot.

Apple Blames Third-Party Batteries for Case of Exploding Beats Headphones

In a new development, Apple has reportedly refused to grant any compensation to a women whose Beats headphones were said to have exploded mid-flight. Apple claims that the explosion was due to a defect in third-party AAA batteries, and not the headphones.

In February, a woman who wishes to remain anonymous, faced burns on face and hair when her headphones caught fire during a flight from Beijing to Melbourne. The headphones in question were Apple’s Beats headphones running on AAA batteries. When the explosion happened, the woman was asleep, and she managed to burn her face and hair because of this mishap.

She sought to be reimbursed by Apple, but was left disappointed. Apple’s lawyer responded that the fault was in the battery, and not the headphones. “Our investigation indicated the issue was caused by a third-party battery,” an Apple representative told Australian Associated Press.

Apple Blames Third-Party Batteries for Case of Exploding Beats HeadphonesWhile the exact model number of the Beats headphones is unknown, the woman says that she bought it from duty-free in 2014, and bought the batteries from Australia. “The headphones don’t work without batteries, yet nowhere on the headphones – or their packaging – did it specify which brand of batteries should be used,” she told the publication.

No other Beats headphones have been reported to explode, indicating that this is an isolated issue, and could be of no fault of Apple. Apple no longer makes Beats headphones that run on AAA batteries, so this is likely an older model. We recommend you use good quality batteries in your gadgets, and not cheap knock-offs, that could cause such situations. Australian Transport Safety Bureau also warns that batteries should be kept in approved stowage in-flight, unless in use.

Apple’s Siri Speaker Said to Be in Production, Won’t Ship Till Later This Year

Apple is already in your pocket, on your desk and underneath your television. Soon, a device embossed with “Designed by Apple in California” may be on your nightstand or kitchen counter as well.

The iPhone-maker has started manufacturing a long-in-the-works Siri-controlled smart speaker, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple could debut the speaker as soon as its annual developer conference in June, but the device will not be ready to ship until later in the year, the people said.

The device will differ from Amazon’s Echo and Alphabet’s Google Home speakers by offering virtual surround sound technology and deep integration with Apple’s product lineup, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss products that aren’t yet public.

Introducing a speaker would serve two main purposes: providing a hub to automate appliances and lights via Apple’s HomeKit system, and establishing a bulwark inside the home to lock customers more tightly into Apple’s network of services. That would help combat the competitive threat from Google’s and Amazon’s connected speakers: the Home and Echo mostly don’t support services from Apple. Without compatible hardware, users may be more likely to opt for the Echo or Home, and therefore use streaming music offerings such as Spotify, Amazon Prime Music or Google Play rather than Apple Music.

“This will be a platform for developing Apple’s services,” says Gene Munster, a co-founder of Loup Ventures and former Apple analyst.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has emphasized Apple’s services businesses over the past 18 months as iPhone sales slowed. He expects service revenue to double by 2020 from last year’s $24 billion. A speaker may help keep customers loyal to service products such as Apple Music, a subscription music streaming offering that costs $10 per month. The speaker would likely be tucked into Apple’s “Other Products” category, which currently includes devices like the Apple Watch, Apple TV and AirPods. That set of products generated $11 billion (roughly Rs. 70,895 crores) in sales last year.

Inventec, the Taipei manufacturer that already makes the AirPod wireless headphones, will add the speaker to its Apple repertoire, the people said. Apple employees have been secretly testing the device in their homes for several months, they said. The Siri speaker reached an advanced prototype stage late last year, Bloomberg News reported at the time. An Inventec representative didn’t respond to a request for comment outside normal business hours in Taiwan.

This year’s developers conference will be the first since 2013 to introduce new hardware. Apple could announce updated iPad tablets at the conference, one of the people said. Apple last updated the 9.7-inch iPad Pro in March 2016 and hasn’t refreshed the larger 12.9-inch model since its November 2015 debut. Planned Mac updates will include refreshed versions of the MacBook and MacBook Pro with faster Intel processors, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

Apple hopes that more advanced acoustics technology will give the speaker an edge over competitors, according to people with knowledge of the product’s development. Along with generating virtual surround sound, the speakers being tested are louder and reproduce sound more crisply than rival offerings, the people said. Apple has also considered including sensors that measure a room’s acoustics and automatically adjust audio levels during use, one of the people said.

Apple will also likely let third-party services build products for the speaker. Last year, Apple opened up Siri on the iPhone to the likes of Uber and Facebook, allowing a user to order a ride or send a WhatsApp message with a voice command.

Apple's Siri Speaker Said to Be in Production, Won't Ship Till Later This YearThe device will be a hub for Apple’s HomeKit home automation system, letting users control devices such as lights, door locks and window blinds. At present, an Apple TV or iPad is required to control that equipment from outside the home or automatically. The Echo and Google Home both support third-party services and smart home appliances.

Ahead of Apple’s launch, the competition has upgraded their speakers with support for making voice calls, while Amazon’s gained a touchscreen. Apple’s speaker won’t include such a screen, according to people who have seen the product.

An Apple-designed speaker with high-end sound quality that fits perfectly into the Apple ecosystem is a familiar pitch. In 2006, Apple unveiled the iPod Hi-Fi, a battery powered speaker designed to cast a shadow over the thriving iPod third-party accessory market. With its bulky size and high price point, the Hi-Fi flopped and was discontinued within 18 months of launching. With Siri and a clear hole in its ecosystem, Apple is banking that its second try at a speaker product will do better.

WWDC 2017: Apple Unveils HomePod, Its Siri-Powered Smart Home Speaker

One of the most anticipated announcements expected from Apple was its Siri-powered home speaker, which the Cupertino-based giant finally unveiled towards the final moments of its WWDC 2017 keynote address. Apple’s newest product is called HomePod, which the company says will “reinvent music in the home”.

The Apple HomePod is a wireless speaker that promises to deliver amazing audio quality. The speaker uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjusts the audio output. The HomePod is designed to work along with Apple Music, so it essentially requires one to have a subscription to music streaming service, which will give access to over 40 million songs. Apple says “the HomePod provides deep knowledge of personal music preferences and tastes and helps users discover new music.”

The cylindrical-shaped HomePod is roughly 7-inches in height and features a large, Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, an array of seven beam-forming tweeters for pure high frequency acoustics with directional control. The HomePod is powered by Apple’s A8 chip and will be available from December in Australia, the UK, and the US, which will be getting the initial batch of speakers in White and Space Grey at $349 (roughly Rs. 22,500).

apple homepod wwdc gadgets360 homepod

“Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a beautiful speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion free music and be a helpful assistant around your home.”