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The OnCE Top 10 for 2015

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The OnCE Top 10 for 2015

As 2015 heads to a close, it is customary to reflect on the year it has been. So join us as we check what we think are the top OnCE-- and CE industry-related-- stories of the past 365-or-so days...

  1. 2015, Year of the Smartwatch: It has been some time coming, but 2015 is the year where the smartwatch became less of a curio and more of an actual device desired by regular consumers. The Apple Watch was, of course, the market's main drivers, but other vendors were quick to follow with similar wrist-worn devices.
  2. Virtual Reality Edges Towards the Mainstream: 2015 did not actually see the release of any big name virtual reality headsets, but news involving the revamped product category came thick and fast. The Facebook-owned Oculus revealed the final version of the Rift, as did Samsung with the smartphone-powered Gear VR. Meanwhile Google presented an update on the View-Master, and even Valve announced a collaboration with HTC in VR headsets.
  3. Tablets Slow Down: The year was not too kind to what was once a top seller, as analysts announce customers are no longer interested in tablets. The result is sales slowdown, with even the mighty Apple feeling at least some iPad related pain. The solution? As Gartner puts it, "unless new compelling innovation or incentives to upgrade tablets are created, the churn of the mature installed base will continue to fall." Continue reading...

Toshiba, Fujitsu, Vaio Consider PC Merger?

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Toshiba, Fujitsu, Vaio Consider PC Merger?

In Japan, Nikkei reports on a deal that could re-shape the face of PC distribution, Toshiba, Fujitsu and Vaio might merge their PC operations creating a "top player" holding around 30% share of the Japanese market and 6% of global market (just under Apple's current global ranking.)

Negotiations on the deal should take place sometime in December, with expectations of a combined company launch in April 2016.

Nikkei adds the companies would unite under the Vaio brand name, with the combined entity integrating domestic and overseas operations, from R&D to production and sales.

Toshiba and Fujitsu already have an interest in Vaio-- the companies fund Japan Industrial Partners, the top Vaio shareholder.

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The iChannels Apple Top 10 for 2015

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The iChannels Apple Top 10 for 2015

So 2015 has come and is very nearly gone, and as is customary it is now time to reflect on the year it has been. So join us as we check what we think are the top Apple-related stories of the past 365-or-so days...

  1. The Apple Take on Wearables: It is safe to say that with the launch of the Apple Watch 2015 is officially the year of the smartwatch. Sure, many might rightly argue the Watch is not an essential a device as the iPhone (at least some of its flaws can be fixed only by inevitable sequels), but it is safe to say the "most personal" Apple device is the smartwatch most desired by customers.
  2. MacBook Goes USB-C Only: The March "Spring Forward" Apple event was not only about the Watch. The company also revealed the next generation of MacBook, one showing Apple's commitment to the future by replacing all ports (including power outlets) with a USB-C connector. The result? Other notebooks following suit (such as the latest Google Chromebook) and a market for USB-C hub accessories.
  3. 3D Touching the iPhone 6s: When Apple revealed the latest iPhone (the 6S and 6S Plus) no one was actually surprised. We're all used to the iDevice annual release schedule, after all. However Apple still managed to surprise with the inclusion of the Watch's "Force Touch" functionality to smartwaches, essentially adding depth (and more interaction possibilities) to touch-based input.
  4. Continue reading...

Samsung Replaces Mobile Head

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Samsung Replaces Mobile Head

Samsung announces on of the biggest leadership changes since de facto leader Jay Y Lee took over, Reuters reports-- Dongjin Koh replaces JK Shin as president of the Samsung mobile communication business.

JK Shin has served as mobile communication head since 2009. He remains head of the Samsung overall mobile division, if with a "focus on long-term strategy and developming new growth business" rather than day-to-day operations, a move some analysts describe as retirement in all but name. JK Shin was the man behind the rise of the Galaxy smartphone line... and its eventual (relative) decline.

"While it's true that Shin delivered remarkable performance in the past, it's indisputable that the Galaxy S6's results fell short of expectations so a new leader was needed," Hansung University economics Professor Kim Sang-jo tells Reuters. "Today's appointments appear to acknowledge the need to develop a management system that can more proactively respond to challenges from Xiaomi and other Chinese companies."

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Apple, GT Advanced Settle Debts

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Apple, GT Advanced Settle Debts

The Wall Street Journal reports Apple settles debts with failed sapphire supplier GT Advanced in a deal absolving GT Advanced of the $439 million it owes to Apple.

The settlement involves a November 2015 auction of GT Advanced sapphire-making equipment, with proceeds split between the two companies and unsold equipment going to Apple. One would think this would provide a cheap means of adding sapphire displays to future iDevices, but actually this is not the case.

"While GT intends to hang on to some of the equipment-- as many as 600 sapphire-making furnaces-- it is prepared to auction what it can and abandon what it can't cart off," the WSJ says. "Anything not sold will be handed over to Apple, which has agreed to scrap the equipment and extinguish the loan it made to transform GT from an equipment manufacturer into a supplier of smartphone-screen material."

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Sony to Buy Toshiba Sensor Business?

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Sony to Buy Toshiba Sensor Business?

Sony reportedly plans to take advantage of another company's misfortunes, as Reuters, the Japan Times and Bloomberg report the company plans to buy the Toshiba camera sensor business.

Currently cash-strapped, Toshiba is looking to sell assets in order to help rebuild operations-- such as a CMOS image sensor production line at a plant in Oita prefecture. "People familiar with the negotiations" say Sony plans to cough up 20 billion yen ($165 million) for the plant, gaining further manufacturing facilities (adding 100000 units a month in production capacity) and essentially eliminating a rival from the market. Hitting two birds with one stone, in other words.

"The purchase would be an economical way to flesh out [Sony's] CMOS sensor capacity, currently an area of concern,” analyst SMBC Nikko Securities says.

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Foxconn to Buy Sharp LCD Business With Apple Investment?

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Foxconn to Buy Sharp LCD Business With Apple Investment?

The Nikkei Asian Review reports Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn (aka Hon Hai Precision Industry) is in talks to buy the Sharp LCD business, with part of the investment coming from Apple.

The Sharp LCD business is currently in the red, with operating losses reaching 13.7 billion yen in the April-June quarter. A deal with Foxconn would provide the troubed Japanese company much needed funds, while allowing it to remain involved in the business and retain Japanese staff in domestic production bases.

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WSJ: Amazon (Partly) Gives Up on Hardware

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WSJ: Amazon (Partly) Gives Up on Hardware

Following the failure of the Fire Phone Amazon gives up on mobile devices, the Wall Street Journal reports-- the online retailer turned hardware maker is reportedly killing projects and laying off staff from the secretive Lab126 hardware division.

Lab126 is the facility behind the Fire tablets, STB and phone, as well as the oddball Echo speaker/voice-activated assistant and the Dash product re-ordering button. According to the WSJ unsold Fire Phone inventory lead to a $170 million write down, meaning the creator has to not only scale down in size but also shelve some admittedly interesting-sounding projects.

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The Next Apple Event: 9 September 2015

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The Next Apple Event: 9 September 2015

Apple sends out media invites for the now traditional September launch event, this time around bearing the legend "hey Siri, give us a hint" together with the familiar company logo.

As per the slogan, one can actually ask Siri for hints on the event, if only to get snarky replies such as "I bet you were one of those kids who snuck downstairs to open presents early, weren't you?" and "you're cute when you're desperate for information."

A lot of hearsay surrounds the event, although one can be certain of a few things-- such as the next generation of iPhone, one the grapevine suggests features body construction in stronger 7000 series aluminium, Force Touch capability, A9 processor, 2GB RAM and an improved camera.

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Apple Joins Pentagon Military Wearables Effort?

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Apple Joins Pentagon Military Wearables Effort?

Reuters reports Apple joins a Pentagon-funded consortium in the development of "flexible hybrid electronics," or sensor-packed electronic systems flexible for wearing by soldier or moulding on vehicle skins.

Dubbed the FlexTech Alliance, the consortium is formed by 162 companies, universities and other groups ranging from major names such as Boeing and Harvard to the more obscure Advantest Akron Polymore Systems and the Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

According to Reuters the Pentagon is looking "outside [its] 5-sided box" by looking into partnership with the private sector. Thus it is establishing a Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub in San Jose.

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Microsoft Shutters Finland Phone Site

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Microsoft Shutters Finland Phone Site

Microsoft confirms the closure of the former Nokia handset product development unit in Salo, Finland. The company also plans to slash up to 2300 jobs in the Nordic country, with around 1000 in Salo.

The company will retain Finnish mobile operations in two units, Espoo and Tampere. The Espoo unit will concentrate on high-end smartphone development while the Tampere unit is dedicated to the development of mid-range handsets and key technologies.

Salo housed one of the first Nokia factories, set up back in the 1970s. Until 2005 the factory employed 5000 people, and the closure leads to further resentment among Finns against the American company.

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