Vendor News

Corsair Finds Buyer?

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Corsair Finds Buyer?

According to Reuters PC peripheral and component maker Corsair has found a buyer-- "advanced discussions" on the matter are going on with EagleTree Capital, a middle market private equity firm.

The story comes from anonymous sources, and neither Corsair nor EagleTree has commented on the matter.

Founded in 1994 by current CEO and owner Andy Paul, Corsair makes high performance gaming hardware such as keyboards, mice and headsets. It also owns the PC gaming brand Raptor Gaming. The company was set to go public in 2013, but scrapped such plans after it received a $75 million investment from Francisco Partners.

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Logitech Buys Astro Gaming

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Logitech Buys Astro Gaming

Logitech acquires the means of producing another piece of gaming hardware with Astro Gaming, maker of the highly rated A-Series headsets and Mixamp console peripherals.

The deal cost Logitech $85 million in cash and is the second acquisition for the company in little more than a year, following the September 2016 purchase of British joystick maker Saitek from Mad Catz. Post-acquisition Astro Gaming will be folded into the Logitech G gaming peripheral brand.

"Astro is the leading player for premium console headsets and is the preferred headset for console esports athletes," Logitech says. "It's a perfect complement to Logitech G's focus on PC gaming and we couldn't be more excited; we love the team, the brand and the products. Together, we want to make game play even more fun for gamers everywhere."

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EU Considers More Durable, Repairable Devices

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EU Considers More Durable, Repairable Devices

The European Parliament is discussing how to encourage the creation of more durable and repairable devices-- with measures including "minimum resistance criteria" and labels showing how easy devices are to repair.

According to a 2014 Eurobarometer survey, 77% of EU consumers would rather repair goods than buy new ones. As such, MEPs are suggesting ways to tackle built-in obsolescence, which forces users to replace or discard products. For instance, companies can get incentives for making durable and repairable products, boosting repairs and 2nd hand sales. Meanwhile essential components such as batteries and LEDs should not be fixed into products, and spare parts should be available “at a price commensurate with the nature and life-time of the product.”

The Parliament is also asking the European Commission to consider a "voluntary European label" giving products a score based on durability, eco-design features, upgradeability and repairability, as well as a "usage meter" for large electrical appliances.

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Apple Pay Expands Further in Europe

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Apple Pay Expands Further in Europe

An update of the Apple regional websites shows Apple Pay is available in more banks in France, Italy and Spain, increasing the coverage of the iPhone maker's mobile payment system.

In France, Apple Pay will be available at three regional federations of Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne, Crédit Mutuel du Sud-Ouest and Crédit Mutuel Massif Central. It is also coming to Crédit Mutuel Arkéa online banking subsidiary Fortuneo and Max.

In Italy Apple Pay is available at Banca Mediolanum for Mediolanum Card debit cards, which are based on the Mastercard Maestro network.

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And the Buyer of the Toshiba Memory Unit is...

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And the Buyer of the Toshiba Memory Unit is...

Toshiba names a preferred bidder for the sale of its much wanted memory chip business-- a consortium bringing together the Japanese government and interests from the US and S. Korea.

The group consists of the state-backed Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ) fund, the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) and US private equity firm Bain Capital. Also involved in financing are S. Korean chipmaker SK Hynix and the core banking unit of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. It promises to offer at least $18 billion, the minimum Toshiba is asking for the unit, and should automatically receive the Japanese government's seal of approval.

“Toshiba has determined that the consortium has presented the best proposal, not only in terms of valuation, but also in respect to certainty of closing, retention of employees, and maintenance of sensitive technology within Japan,” a company statement reads.

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Withings Becomes Nokia Body

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Withings Becomes Nokia Body

Nokia finalises its April 2016 purchase of Withings-- the French health and wearables company now bears the name Nokia Body, while Withings products get a Nokia rebranding.

As a result, the Withings Body scale has been renamed to "Nokia Body Plus", the Withings Body Cardio is the "Nokia Body Cardio" and the Steel HR fitness-tracking watch is now known being sold as the "Nokia Steel HR." On the other hand the Aura sleep tracker is no more, since the company says it has been "on the market for a while" (having launched since 2014).

The rebranding also brings new products-- the Body smart scale, BPM+ blood pressure monitor and a Health mate app. The Body is connected scale able to solely tracky body weight, with no BMI or other functionality. Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity allows users to easily sync weight data with the companion app, and it is the lowest-cost smart scale offered by Nokia.

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Nikkei: Apple, Amazon, Foxconn Team up for Toshiba Memory Unit

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Nikkei: Apple, Amazon, Foxconn Team up for Toshiba Memory Unit

A Nikkei interview with Foxconn chairman Terry Gou reveals the key iPhone assembler has "financial support" from Apple and Amazon in a bid to buy the memory unit of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba.

The report confirms an April 2017 story by Japanese broadcaster NHK stating Apple was planning to join Foxconn to invest in the Toshiba semiconductor business. Meanwhile the Nikkei story is confirmed Reuters, with a Foxconn statement reading "Foxconn can confirm that we have submitted a bid for Toshiba's chip business with a number of strategic partners."

According to the interview with Gou, the Foxconn offer for the Toshiba unit is worth over $18.2 billion. Gou does not state how much Apple and Amazon are putting on the table, but seeing how both companies are key Foxconn customers one can assume they will be pulling their financial weight in the matter.

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Apple Working on Dedicated AI Chip?

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Apple Working on Dedicated AI Chip?

According to Bloomberg future iDevices might get a processor dedicated entirely to AI-related tasks-- an "Apple Neural Engine" handling voice commands and speech recognition.

Artificial Intelligence has long been a topic relevant to Apple interests. After all, it was the first company to integrate a voice-controlled assistant in both its mobile device and computer operating systems. However, as of late rivals have been more aggressive in their AI products, as both Amazon and Google are busy pushing their Echo and Home digital assistants.

As Bloomberg puts it, "an AI-enabled processor would help Apple integrate more advanced capabilities into devices, particularly cars that drive themselves and gadgets that run augmented reality, the technology that superimposes graphics and other information onto a person’s view of the world."

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Apple Buys... Sleep Tracker Maker?

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Apple Buys... Sleep Tracker Maker?

A privacy policy update reveals Apple has bought Beddit, a Finnish maker of sleep-track devices users can connect with iOS and Apple Watch apps.

"Beddit has been acquired by Apple," the policy reads. "Your personal data will be collected, used and disclosed in accordance with the Apple Privacy Policy."

The latest Beddit product is the Beddit 3 Sleep Monitor-- a sensor-equipped strip users install under the bed sheets. It tracks movements using "ballistocardiography," with no need for users to wear an activity tracker (or even remember to switch it on). Once the night is over it pushes collected data to iDevices, with HealthKit compatibility.

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iPhone Sales Down in Apple's Q2

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iPhone Sales Down in Apple's Q2

Apple claims a "strong" fiscal Q2 2017 (ending 1 April 2017), with revenues reaching $52.9 billion and net profit of $11.0bn-- even if it also reports a surprise drop in iPhone sales reaching 50.8 million.

The previous quarter saw iPhone sales reach 51.1m, perhaps a sign of customers holding Apple smartphone purchases back in anticipation of the 10th anniversary model the company should reveal later this year. And while the dip might appear slight it did lead to share prices falling (specifically by -1.9%), although that might be in part due to shareholders wanting more of the company's $250bn-plus cash and investments hoard.

"There is a general softening in phone demand to contend with as well as expectations of a big upgrade, all of which softens the blow of this quarter's miss," Forrester Research tells Reuters. "If we see Apple downplaying expectations before the next upgrade cycle, it might mean that the company isn't confident it will beat those expectations."

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Apple to Invest "Several Billion Dollars" in Toshiba?

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Apple to Invest

According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK Apple might team up with Foxconn to invest in the Toshiba semiconductor business-- specifically by a 20% stake in the company worth "at least several billion dollars."

The broadcaster adds such a plan allays Japanese government concern over the transfer of sensitive technology to investers deemed a "potential risk to national security." It also keeps Toshiba under US and Japanese control, since the Japanese company would maintain a partial stake in the unit.

Bloomberg adds to the story, saying Foxconn (aka Hon Hai) could control as much as 30% of the semiconductor unit should the bid be accepted. Foxconn reportedly already offered $27bn for the company, but its ties with China can sour the deal due to security concerns.

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