Vendor News

Sony Shows Off Future Labs Products at SXSW

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Sony Shows Off Future Labs Products at SXSW

Sony shows off the first results of the recently unveiled Future Lab program at SXSW 2016, with prototypes including a curious wearable device, interactive projectors and an advanced haptic controller.

The Future Lab initiative has Sony fishing for consumer feedback on in-development projects. Should a prototype garner enough interest the finalised product will leverage on input from the user community, making it (hopefully) better.

The first of such prototypes seen at SXSW is "Concept N"-- a wearable device best described as a sort of audio-based Google Glass. Designed for hands-free operation, the N is worn around the neck and features 4 microphones complete with noise-cancelling features. Stating a command phrase ("Listen up Arc!") switches the device on before users ask it for location-based info gathered from a connected smartphone.

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Apple Confirms 21 March Event

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Apple Confirms 21 March Event

Apple confirms earlier rumours as it announces 21 March 2016 as the date for its next event-- one revealed through rose gold-hued press invites bearing the cryptic slogan "let us loop you in."

The event takes place at the Apple 1 Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino, California. It is expected to involve a number of devices, such as a smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro, a 4-inch iPhone (dubbed the SE) and a variety of new Apple Watch band options (rumours suggest a nylon band a Space Black Milanese Loop). Some sources also say Mac refreshes will make a showing, although the grapevine gives no fruit on that regard as yet.

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Samsung Wins Patent Appeal Against Apple

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Samsung Wins Patent Appeal Against Apple

A US appeals court overturns the 2014 decision accusing Samsung of infringing a number of Apple smartphone patents-- meaning the iPhone maker will not receive $119.6 million from the S. Korean giant.

According to the ruling, two Apple patents covering slide-to-unlock and auto-correct features are invalid. To other patents, covering universal search and background syncing, were not actually infringed. As such, Samsung is free to continue including such features in its smartphones, and does not need to change any older models.

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The Week of 21 March for Next Apple Event?

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The Week of 21 March for Next Apple Event?

According to Re/code and BuzzFeed News the next Apple product launch will not take place on 15 March-- instead the company has delayed the event to the week of 21 March 2016.

The date change rumour was actually first suggested by Korean website KG News. If it's actually the case then the choice of date is pretty significant, since 22 March has Apple clash with the US government over whether it should help the FBI unlock the iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

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VTech Buys LeapFrog

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VTech Buys LeapFrog

VTech acquires struggling rival in education toys LeapFrog for around $72 million, following years of declining sales in part caused by more grown competition such as the Apple iPad.

Founded in 1995, Leapfrog was best known for the LeapPad. Initially an interactive digital book, the device was turned into a rugged mini-tablet in 2011, following the launch of the first iPad. The tablet-style LeapPad was popular at first, but sales started waning as Apple and other vendors started launching smaller, lower-cost tablets.

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Zagg Buys Mophie

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Zagg Buys Mophie

In a move bringing the start of a phone accessory making empire Zagg acquires Mophie for $100 million-- creating a "diversified leader" in battery cases, external batteries, screen protectors and tablet keyboards.

Zagg makes products ranging from smartphone cases to keyboards. On the other hand Mophie is best known for iPhone and Android smartphone battery cases and external batteries packs. The deal creates a company with combined 2015 net sales of around $470m, as well as increased product creation capability and expanded global distribution channels.

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Apple: The Next VR Contender?

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Apple: The Next VR Contender?

Apple is looking at the latest technology trends it seeks for ways to bolster growth, the Financial Times reports-- specifically virtual and augmented reality, and the company already has a "large team" working on the technology.

The secret VR research unit is complete with hundreds of staff, the result of "carefully targeted acquisitions." One such recent acquisition mentioned by the FT is Flyby Media, an startup currently on an app allowing users to attach virtual messages to real-world objects viewable via Google's Project Tango depth-sensing smartphone.

In addition the Apple VR team has hires from the likes of Microsoft and "light field" optics developer Lytro, unnamed "people familiar with the initiative" claim.

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Economic Woes Hit "Record" Apple Q1

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Economic Woes Hit

Apple revenues reach a record $75.9 billion with profits worth $18.4bn on fiscal Q1 2016, with international sales accounting for 66% of the quarterly results.

“Our team delivered Apple’s biggest quarter ever, thanks to the world’s most innovative products and all-time record sales of iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV,” CEO Tim Cook says. “The growth of our Services business accelerated during the quarter to produce record results, and our installed base recently crossed a major milestone of one billion active devices.”

However the company does show signs of slowdown, as the aforementioned record revenues reflect an increase of just 2% Y-o-Y-- a distinct decline from the 30% Y-o-Y growth seen back in fiscal Q1 2015. The company attributes such decline to slowing iPhone sales in the mature US and Japanese markets, as well as currency woes and economic slowdown hitting the rest of the world.

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Foxconn to Buy Sharp?

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Foxconn to Buy Sharp?

According to both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Foxconn is bidding around $5.3 billion for struggling Japanese electronics maker Sharp, with a decision to take place by end January 2016.

Such an acquisition would be the biggest for the Taiwanese contract manufacturer since the 2009 $5.3 billion takeover of Innolux, the Chi Mei Optoelectronics display-making unit. Foxconn already offered to invest in Sharp back in 2012, but the two companies failed to agree on management control, leading Sharp to turn to government-backed Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ) for funding.

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Apple Opens European iOS App Development Centre

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Apple Opens European iOS App Development Centre

Apple opens the first European iOS App Development Centre in Italy-- one with a specialised curriculum designed to train students into the next generation of app developers.

Located at a partner institution in Italy, the centre supports teachers and should help prepare future developers to be part of the Apple developer community. In addition it also provides developer training to complement the curriculum and create additional opportunities for students.

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WSJ: "Apple Car" Lead Leaves Apple

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WSJ:

According to the Wall Street Journal, Steve Zadesky-- Apple VP of Product Design and the man reportedly leading the "Project Titan" electric vehicle effort-- plans to leave the company.

A 16-year Apple veteran, Zadesky worked on the iPod and iPhone, and is named on several US patents related to "Liquidmetal," an Apple-owned malleable alloy. Unnamed "people familiar with the matter" say he is quitting due to "personal reasons," but it is not clear whether said reasons are related to work on the electric vehicle.

Sources claim the team is facing problems with setting and meeting "clear goals," while execs push for overly ambitious deadlines. Reportedly Apple hopes to finalise engineering by 2019, but engineers believe it "might take several more years" before an actual vehicle ships.

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