Vendor News

EU Fines Qualcomm for Position Abuse

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EU Fines Qualcomm for Position Abuse

Qualcomm is the latest company to face the ire of the European Union-- following the €2.42 billion fine slapped at Google, the European Commission orders the chipmaker to pay €997 million for "abusing its market dominance."

"Qualcomm illegally shut out rivals from the market for LTE baseband chipsets for over five years, thereby cementing its market dominance." European commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager says. "Qualcomm paid billions of US Dollars to a key customer, Apple, so that it would not buy from rivals. These payments were not just reductions in price-- they were made on the condition that Apple would exclusively use Qualcomm's baseband chipsets in all its iPhones and iPads."

Technically monopolies are not against EU policy, but according to the EC Qualcomm got to dominate the market through means deemed abusive. How so? In 2011 Qualcomm started making "significant payments" to ensure the exclusive use of its LTE baseband chips in iPhones and iPads. If Apple started using chipsets supplied by a rival (such as Intel) the payments would not only stop, but the agreement dictated the iPhone maker would have to return "a large part" of payments received.

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HTC Intros Vive Pro Headset

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HTC Intros Vive Pro Headset

HTC presents an update of the Vive headset at CES 2018-- the Vive Pro, a VR offering featuring higher resolution 2880 x 1600 (1400 x 1600 per eye) dual-OLED displays, a 78% increase over the original Vive.

According to the company, the Vive Pro is aimed at "VR enthusiasts and enterprise users who want the best display and audio for their VR experiences." As such, the headset also features improved audio through integrated headphones with built-in amplifiers promising "overall richer sound." Further additions include dual microphones complete with active noise cancellation and dual front-facing cameras.

On the ergonomic side the headset should be more comfortable to wear, thanks to a redesigned headstrap, decreased weight on the front of the headset and a redesigned face cushion. The nose pad is also improved to block off more light.

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Karma Leads to GoPro Drone Exit

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Karma Leads to GoPro Drone Exit

Business is not going too well for GoPro-- the action camera maker announces it is slashing nearly 300 jobs (or over 20% of its global workforce), citing the difficulty of making a profit in an "extremely competitive" market.

In addition, the company says it is quitting the drone business following the non-success that was Karma. Announced back in September 2016, the Karma was GoPro's first (and last) drone. Supposed to be a great profit driver, the Karma proved to be the exact opposite. A fault causing random power losses during operation led to a November 2016 mass recall, while the specialist press compared the drone unfavourably to rivals from the likes of DJI.

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The Top Apple Stories of 2017

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The Top Apple Stories of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close-- a most tumultuous of years, by any standard imaginable-- it is time to look back at the biggest stories surrounding Apple and its ecosystem, which range from iPhone revamps to the company showing its industry clout...

  • The iPhone X: An unsurprising choice for biggest story, but then again the iPhone X remains big news, even 3 months after it was used to inaugurate Apple's new, purpose-built Steve Jobs Theatre. At first glance the iPhone X does look like, well, a regular iPhone, but with its 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED display, lack of Home button, wireless charging and quietly clever "Face ID" camera, it remains "the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone."
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EU Rejects US Intervention in Apple Tax Case

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EU Rejects US Intervention in Apple Tax Case

The European Union's General Court refuses US government intervention in the Apple appeal the 2016 European Commission ruling, Reuters reports-- the one with the tax bill worth up to €13 billion (plus interest).

The intervention in question was filed in April. It insists EU actions will impact US tax revenues, as well as hurt tax treaties with other EU member states and even affect global tax reform efforts. In turn, the court simply says "The United States of America has failed to establish the existence of a direct interest in the result of the case.”

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Apple to Boost Music With Shazam Buy?

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Apple to Boost Music With Shazam Buy?

Apple has a plan to further improve the Music streaming service, TechCrunch reports-- it is "close" to buying Shazam, the app allowing users to identify any song by listening to an audio clip.

Shazam uses machine learning to identify audio clips from songs, TV shows and more. Launched back in 1999 (when it was available as a service accessed via SMS code), it currently offers a standalone app for iOS, macOS and watchOS device. In turn it integrates with other services, such as Snapchat, Siri and music apps including Spotify and Apple Music.

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Sony Trials PlayStation VR In-Home

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Sony Trials PlayStation VR In-Home

Sony sets to convince customers of the potential of virtual reality through an interesting promotion-- a 14-day in-home PlayStation VR trial sent to select PlayStation Plus subscribers.

The trial consists of a demo kit complete with headset, PlayStation Camera, two Move controllers and a copy of Skyrim VR. Should the user be impressed enough to want to buy the kit, they can keep it for the price of $300, a discount over the regular $450 retail pricetag of the Skyrim PSVR bundle.

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LG Realigns Mobile Business

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LG Realigns Mobile Business

LG announces a "sweeping realignment" across its various business, including the appointment of a new CEO for its mobile division-- Hwang Jeong-hwan, who replaces current chief Juno Cho.

Jeong-hwan is a long-time LG employee, having been involvied in the development of one of the first LG smartphones in 2009 as head of the CTO's multimedia R&D lab. In the meantime Juno Cho gets a new role within the LG parent company.

Another leadership change comes in the shape of a new CTO-- LG Software Centre head Dr. Park Il-pyung replaces current CTO Dr. Skott Ahn. Prior to joining LG, Dr. Park was CTO at the now Samsung-owned Harman International, as well as head of the Samsung Intelligent Computing Lab. Dr. Park also holds a number of computing patents, together with a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

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Apple Buys AR Headset Maker Vrvana

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Apple Buys AR Headset Maker Vrvana

TechCrunch reports Apple has quietly acquired another small startup-- Vrvana, a augmented reality specialist and maker of the unreleased Totem headset. The price for the company is reportedly $30 million.

Apple has no comment on the story, but does not deny it either. Vrvana similarly has no comment on the story, but TechCrunch says it has "sources close to the deal" confirm the acquisition. The news site also says a number of Vrvana employees are now working with Apple in California, and while the Vrvana website is still running it stopped updating any social media accounts and news on August 2017.

Vrvana's AR offering is the Totem, a headset combining AR and VR technology through pass-through cameras able to project real world images into a built-in 1440p OLED display. The cameras track the position of the user in both real and virtual space, while additional IR cameras detect the user's hands.

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Apple Irish Datacentre Gets Approval

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Apple Irish Datacentre Gets Approval

The Irish High Court has a decision on Apple's plan to build a datacentre in the country, Reuters reports-- construction can go ahead, bringing relief for both the iPhone maker and the Irish government.

Apple announced it was going to invest €850 million in a datacentre in Derrydonnell, Galway county back in February 2015. The local council gave planning permission 6 months later but a series of appeals blocked the works for over 2 years.

Most recently residents attempted to stop the construction on November 2016, as they insisted the permission granted by the An Bord Pleanála planning authority was invailid. According to the allegations, the authority failed to do a proper impact assessment. This lead to Apple (successfully) asking the High Court to fast-track the case.

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Microsoft Confirms End of Windows Phone

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Microsoft Confirms End of Windows Phone

Microsoft OS designer Joe Belfiore takes to Twitter to confirm what many already suspected-- work on Windows Mobile is officially over, bringing an end to the Microsoft-powered smartphone.

Belfiore does say existing support phones will continue to receive bug fixes and security updates, but Microsoft is not working on new software features or hardware. This was to be expected, considering how new development builds of the mobile OS stopped appearing earlier this year.

One also has to keep in mind Windows Phone user volumes remained all too low, leading to developers dropping support for the platform even as Microsoft offered financial incentives.

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