Vendor News

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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LeEco-Vizio Merger No More!

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LeEco-Vizio Merger No More!

Internet and CE company LeEco announces its acquisition of TV maker Vizio is no more due to "regulatory headwinds," with rumours suggesting issues with Chinese regulatory authorities.

However, the two companies say they have achieved a new agreement-- one described by LeEco as a "win for both companies," since it involves LeEco bringing Vizio products to China via its content and distribution channels, while Vizio connected appliances get the Le app.

Announced back in August 2016, the $2 billion acquisition of Vizio would have created a combined entity worth $4 billion. Such ambitions were not to be though, since 2016 saw LeEco facing a series of financial woes. Recent examples include failure to pay US employees and lawsuits from multiple vendors accusing the Chinese company of not paying for goods and/or services. This despite an investment worth $2.2 billion from multiple Chinese backers.

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Mad Catz Files Bankruptcy

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Mad Catz Files Bankruptcy

Gaming peripheral maker Mad Catz is out of business, announcing it has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief with plans to liquidate all assets.

All Mad Catz directors and officers have also resigned, effective as of 30 March 2017, and other subsidiaries have filed or will file for liquidation under legislation in their countries of origin.

As CEO Karen McGinnis puts it, “regrettably and notwithstanding that for a significant amount of time the company has been actively pursuing its strategic alternatives, including various near-term financing alternatives such as bank financing and equity infusions, as well as potential sales of certain assets of the company or a sale of the company in its entirety, the company has been unable to find a satisfactory solution to its cash liquidity problems.”

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Apple, Google, Amazon in Bidding War for Toshiba NAND unit?

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Apple, Google, Amazon in Bidding War for Toshiba NAND unit?

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun Daily a number of big names are in a bidding war for the Toshiba NAND memory unit, including the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon.

In total, the Japanese newspaper says, 10 companies are looking to buy the Toshiba semiconductor operation. Among them are US private equity firm Silver Lake, Broadcom (who reportedly offered Toshiba around $18 billion for the unit), Western Digital, SK Hynix, Foxconn and TSMC.

Toshiba accounts for 20% of the NAND market, but apparently plans to sell the lucrative unit to make up for the loss of US nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection.

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Apple Ends Deal With Imagination Tech

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Apple Ends Deal With Imagination Tech

Apple announces it is to stop using graphics technology from British firm Imagination Technologies in consumer devices in up to 2 years' time, since it is working on own graphics processing chips.

Imagination supplies the PowerVR technology behind the GPUs inside all iDevices, be it iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs and the Watch. The royalties received from the sale of each iDevice make around 50% of all Imagination revenues.

"Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information," the company adds. "This evidence has been requested by Imagination but Apple has declined to provide it."

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