SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:06:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 IBM unloads money-losing chip business, shocks investors with Q3 earnings surprise Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:06:23 +0000 Continue reading ]]> IBM CEO Ginni Rometty at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in 2011After many months of wrangling, IBM  finally managed to convince Globalfoundries Inc. to take over its unprofitable chip-making operations in a deal that will see Big Blue pay its long-time semiconductor supplier for the trouble rather than the other way around. The costly transaction marks a much-needed high point in the enterprise technology stalwart’s push to refocus on more lucrative markets such as cloud computing and analytics, a plan that CEO Virginia Rometty (right) is struggling to execute amid faltering revenue from legacy businesses.

That stagnation has made its mark on IBM’s third quarter sales, which tanked 4 percent to $22.4 billion in the tenth consecutive quarterly drop, sending the company’s share price plunging more than seven percent to a four-year low of $169. The poor performance is attributed to a 15 percent erosion in hardware income and reduced demand from emerging markets, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China, where Big Blue faces unusually stiff competition from government-endorsed local firms.

In stark contrast to its struggling legacy units, the vendor saw mobile revenue double – growth more reminiscent of a startup than a multi-billion dollar incumbent – while sales of cloud services rose a respectable 50 percent. Somewhat surprisingly, IBM’s analytics business, which the company has pushed heavily this year, grew only 9 percent. That’s not good news for Rometty, who has reportedly set a goal to grow the firm’s Watson cognitive computing 100-fold to 10 billion in within four years from $100 million in 2013.

Overall, however , Big Blue is making fast progress in its plans to transition into new growth areas. But the company will have to step up its efforts even further to truly become independent of its older businesses, which still make up roughly three-quarters of overall revenues. Rometty is attacking the problem from multiple angles, investing aggressively in promising divisions such the Watson group while scaling back on lower-profit areas, most notably hardware.

IBM’s commodity server business was the first to go. In January, the company revealed that it’s handing over its commodity machines to Lenovo Group Ltd., which had previously acquired its consumer devices group in 2005, for $2.3 billion. Eight months and a close run with US regulators later, the deal passed $200 million short of the original target price.

The newly revealed transfer of its semiconductor business to Globalfoundries ends an even more turbulent chapter in the company’s history. Following a month of speculation about a potential transaction, a report emerged in July suggesting that the deal fell through due to a refusal on IBM’s behalf to raise the price. It appears that IBM was just bargaining hard, however.

Under the newly signed agreement, which was revealed alongside Big Blue’s quarterly earnings, Globalfoundries will absorb the IT giant’s two chip manufacturing facilities in New York and Vermont along with its microelectronics unit in exchange for $1.5 billion to be paid over three years. Most employees will be given the option to stay in their current positions.

Taken together with the costs of discontinuing operations, the deal requires IBM to take a pre-tax charge of $4.7 billion in the third quarter, reducing net profits to a meager $18 million. But one-time expenses that carry long-term strategic value are easily excused on Wall Street. The much bigger concern for Rometty will be steering the firm into the era of cloud computing and analytics, which should prove slightly easier now that it’s one unprofitable semiconductor business lighter.

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Selfie distraction claims another victim Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:54:22 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Man falls off dock while taking selfieDigital distraction has been known to pose a serious health risk for less cautious pedestrians, and today it took another victim when a man fell into the sea while taking a selfie.

While the man may have only had his pride dampened, other people haven’t been so lucky. Some past examples have included a 16-year-old boy who sustained a concussion from walking into a telephone pole and a 14-year-old boy who fell 8 feet off a bridge into a rocky ditch.

A study conducted by Ohio State University found that cell-phone related injuries more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, and it was expected to double again by 2015. Jack Nasar, a co-author of the study, said:

The role of phones in distracted driving injuries and deaths gets a lot of attention and rightly so, but we need to also consider the danger phone use poses to pedestrians.

Earlier in the year, a Chinese city started doing just that by creating a special sidewalk lane specifically for cellphone-distracted pedestrians. Hopefully that lane will be free of open manhole covers.

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OpenStack landmark: Mirantis closes record-breaking $100 million funding round Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:50:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]> RasterMirantisLogo_HiRes_Standard_invertedMirantis Inc. has snagged $100 million in funding to step up its campaign for OpenStack dominance amid increasing competition from both fellow startups and larger incumbent vendors vying for a slice of the hottest trend in the cloud. The record-breaking round, the company’s second, marks the biggest venture capital infusion in the history of the ecosystem.

The increased investor interest in OpenStack has not come out of the blue but rather as a response to a steadily accelerating wave of adoption that the three-year-old Mirantis is riding with full sail. The firm claims to have signed up over 130 customers – more than any other distributor – for its platform, notably Comcast Corp., PayPal and NASA, the birthplace of the project, along with a sizable portion of the world’s top telecoms.

One reason all those companies are choosing Mirantis over better-established rivals such as Red Hat Inc. and SUSE Linux GmbH is that those companies bundle their operating system flavors into their OpenStack distributions, whereas Mirantis is pursuing a “no lock-in” strategy that centers on allowing customers to use whatever software works best for the use case at hand, even if it’s from competitors.

That approach is almost antithetical to Red Hat’s, which – while staunchly sticking by its stated tradition of providing users with freedom of choice – is assembling a homegrown stack around its OpenStack distro that runs from the underlying operating system to development tools. Mirantis, in contrast, has opted to leave most of the rest of the stack to partners, with the exception of certain strategic functionality that it has mostly released in open-source form.

That includes the FUEL library for OpenStack deployment and, more notably, the Sahara project for integrating with Hadoop, which was bundled into the latest “Juno” release of the cloud platform that launched last Wednesday. It now constitutes the core of Red Hat’s batch processing framework in a rare example of a startup quite literally setting the pace for the incumbents.

The new $100 million from Insight Venture Partners, August Capital and exiting investors is meant to accelerate that momentum. Mirantis said that the funding, which brings its total raised to $120 million, will be used to “double” investments in its flagship distro and managed offering. Another part of the capital will go toward bolstering the firm’s presence in Europe and the Asia-Pacific, both in terms of physical footprint and partner reach.

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Gmail 5.0 is coming and it’s all good news for Android users Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:22:10 +0000 Continue reading ]]> gmail logo on biscuitsIt looks like Lollipop is not the only treat users can expect from Google Inc.’s mobile operating system, Android. The search giant’s Gmail app is likely to get an overhaul with version 5.0.

Google has yet to reveal any details; however, Android Police managed to obtain a video that shows off some of the features of Gmail 5.0 (full video below).

The best feature is revealed at the end of the video, which shows other email accounts like Outlook and Yahoo being supported within the app. Traditionally, Gmail has only supported Google’s own mail service, however this new feature looks like they want to help Android users manage all their mail within the Gmail app. This feature could see the end of having to switch between email apps.

Other features of Gmail 5.0 include updated iconography, rounded avatars and an improved screen for composing mails. Google’s new Material Design aesthetic has been taken across to apps including Newsstand and Hangouts, so it’s not surprising that the same will happen with the Gmail app.

According the The Verge, you can expect to see Gmail 5.0 for Android to arrive, alongside Android Lollipop, in the coming weeks. As for iOS users, no updates have been revealed so far, but it is likely safe to assume that the same updates will make their way across to iOS.

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Anonabox Tor router gets kicked off of Kickstarter Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:40:41 +0000 Continue reading ]]> small__10802197626Kickstarter has suspended donations for Anonabox, its hottest and most controversial project of the moment, following a deluge of claims from netizens that the tiny device isn’t an original design. That means the developers behind it will not be able to collect a dime of the $600,000 pledged so far.

The Anonabox was touted as being the easiest way to connect to the Tor network, which provides anonymous Internet access and encryption, helping people to avoid surveillance and bypass censorship on the web. The idea of plug-in-and-play anonymity was compelling, but the project found itself mired in controversy when it smashed through its funding goal of just $7,500 and quickly drew the attention of critics.

It all started on Reddit, where questions were raised about Anonabox’s “custom-made” hardware. It was pointed out that the tiny box looked suspiciously like a Chinese-made router that’s up for sale on and other websites. If it’s a copy, it means the hardware can’t be“open-source,” as the developers first claimed.

Numerous redditors called for Kickstarter to cancel the Anonabox project, causing dozens of backers to pull out. In desperation, Anonabox developer August Germar attempted to address the criticisms in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, but his evasive responses only angred the community further.

“The truth is we can make Tor routers out of a lot of existing hardware, but I thought it would be helpful to have a standardized piece of hardware to do it on,” wrote Germar in one response. In another post, Germar said he was surprised to see “so much fixation on the details of the hardware.” Unsurprisingly, his replies failed to convince either his critics or Kickstarter, which finally suspended funding over the weekend.

Kickstarter announced its decision in an email to those who’d pledged money to the campaign. “A review of the project uncovered evidence that it broke Kickstarter’s rules,” it said. Those rules include “offering purchased items and claiming them as your own invention, presenting someone else’s work as your own, and misrepresenting or failing to disclose revelant facts about the project or its creator.”

All in all, it’s been a bad day for the Anonabox, but that hasn’t stopped its “creators.” Despite all the negative publicity, they insist they’re going to push forward even without Kickstarter, and will soon start selling the device directly from their own website.

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Study says Big Data set to fuel the next Industrial Revolution Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Big Data revolutionA new study from Accenture Plc and General Electric Corp. (GE) has concluded that digital technologies offer a level of opportunity that’s unprecedented in the history of business. So disruptive are these technologies that over 66 percent of executives believe there’s an urgent need to adopt Big Data technologies to avoid losing their market position.

Accenture and GE’s study, How the Industrial Internet is Changing the Competitive Landscape of Industries, focus on how Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are combining to redefine the competitive landscape in a variety of industries. The Industrial Internet is set to become a $500 billion a year market by 2020, according to an earlier study from Wikibon.

The Industrial Internet is compelling because of the opportunities that arise from analytics, cloud, mobile and social media. These technologies disrupt how consumers, employees and organizations interact with each other in numerous ways. For example, businesses can create better experiences for their customers, improve their level of service, increase staff productivity and reduce costs.

Fueling this digital transformation is Big Data. According to the study, some two-thirds of enterprises worldwide have already begun implementing Big Data projects.

More than 1,000 data, financial, marketing, operations and technology leaders were interviewed during the study. Of those, some 90 percent said they’re satisfied with the business outcomes from using Big Data, and that those technologies are a vital part of their digital transformation. Moreover, 88 percent of respondents said Big Data is a “top priority” for their company, while 93 percent admitted seeing rivals in their industry using Big Data to differentiate themselves.

On the downside, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Just 29 percent of execs said they are currently using predictive analytics to optimize their businesses, and just 49 percent have plans to generate new revenue streams from Big Data. Another 40 percent said they weren’t currently looking to use Big Data as a means of improving resource management.

The upshot of this seems to be that while organizations and CIOs see the opportunity in Big Data, many of them are struggling to come up with a viable strategy to take advantage of it.

“To get there, many [organizations] must work through a multitude of issues to use their machine data for more advanced forms of predictive data analytics,” said Matt Reilly, a senior managing director at Accenture. This will require “sourcing the right analytics talent to ensure effective execution and scaling of analytics programs.”

There’s no longer any doubt about whether Big Data will revolutionize industries. Now, it’s just a question of who will get there first. CIOs will need to step up and prioritize their Big Data initiatives or risk ending up on the losing team.

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Motorola Droid Turbo –leaked images ahead of October 28 launch Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:26:38 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The new Droid Turbo from Motorola Inc. is set to launch on October 28; however, details about the device haven’t remained secret for the big day.

Famed technology leaker, Evan Blass, gave us a look at the new device in a recent tweet.

It may not be the most beautiful smartphone, but it’s what is rumored to be inside the handset that’s getting people talking. According to Android Police, the upcoming Droid Turbo comes with a quad HD display, a Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Motorola’s latest is also rumored to launch with wireless (Qi) charging for the 3,900mAh battery and a 21-megapixel rear-mounted camera.

Motorola’s own virtual assistant smartphone app, Moto Assist, will feature on the new device. The app will allow you to use voice commands to activate voicemail, or you can instruct it to ring if you happen to misplace your phone. Moto Assist also adapts to your routine, keeping back all unimportant calls when you are in a meeting or at home in the evenings.

Motorola is focusing on some big innovations in order to make a splash in the highly competitive smartphone market. However, we will have to wait until the 28th to see if all the leaks and rumors are true.

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Amazon’s Kindle Voyage is available for pre-order –if you can justify the price Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:45:05 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Inc’s new e-reader, the Voyage, is their best offering yet, but comes with a hefty price tag. At $199 or, $219 without ads and with 3G, it is a big jump from the $119 backlit Kindle Paperwhite and sits in the same price range as the lowest end tablets.

Amazon has defended the price tag based on the features that the Kindle Voyage offers. The device is 7.6mm thick and is no longer made out of plastic, but rather magnesium. It comes with a higher resolution screen, a 300-pixel e-ink display and like the Kindle Paperwhite; the Voyage is front-lit with the display adjusting depending on the amount of light in your surroundings.

Amazon, with no track record in hardware, launched its first Kindle back in 2007. No one expected this device to survive; its only purpose was to allow you to read books that you purchased from Amazon’s online store. However, Amazon’s Kindle has thrived with roughly 43.7 million Kindle devices been sold by the end of 2013. Each year they slightly improve the hardware and software and increase the price tag and people keep buying them.

If you are an avid reader then the Kindle Voyage is for you, and you can pre-order your device now with stock being available on 22 November for the $199 version. If you are more of a casual reader, then you would probably opt for the cheaper Paperwhite, Barns & Noble Glowlight or the Kobo.

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Microsoft delivers Azure-in-a-box solution for hybrid clouds Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:30:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> small__5422470827Microsoft Corp., held a big cloud press event yesterday where it announced the Azure Marketplace together with a new family of Azure products it hopes will convince customers of its ability to run hyperscale, enterprise-grade and hybrid cloud computing environments.

The Azure Marketplace will serve as a one-stop-shop for offerings from Microsoft’s cloud partners. Users will be able to choose what they need from the marketplace then spin up an app in just a few clicks, using Azure’s cloud resources.

Vendors will be able to create templates for each application that dictate the resources to be provisioned when a new instance is launched. Partners can use a variety of models to monetize their apps, including per-hour charges or a one-time fee. Microsoft says partners will need to go through an on-boarding process first, but it is committed to expanding the number of offerings in its marketplace.

One of the most compelling new products is an Azure appliance built in partnership with Dell Inc. that customers can deploy on premise. Called the Cloud Platform System, it provides a pre-assembled rack of servers running Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack. Microsoft Executive Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise Scott Guthrie said the appliance will run the same APIs, services and hypervisor as Azure, and can connect easily to the Azure public cloud.

Also noteworthy are a couple of new server types. The new G instances have been built to handle Big Data workloads. They pack 32 cores, 450 gigabytes of RAM and 6.5 terabytes of storage. There’s also a new storage offering that can support up to 32 terabytes per virtual machine.

Finally, Microsoft has added support for CoreOS, the lightweight operating system that’s designed especially for Linux containers. This comes just a week after threw its weight behind Docker in a landmark that will bring the most buzzed-about technology in recent memory to Windows.

These are big moves from Microsoft as it bids to keep expanding its cloud business. The company claims it’s adding over 10,000 new customers every week, and it’s clearly hungry for more.

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Lenovo said to be looking at buying BlackBerry – again Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:52:48 +0000 Continue reading ]]> small__9916842185China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. might be close to completing the acquisition of struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry Limited – for real, this time – according to reports.

Canada’s CBC News reports that Lenovo is in talks to snap up the ailing firm for around $15 per share, despite the fact that similar negotiations broke down last year. The deal was apparently derailed last time due to security concerns raised by Canada’s government, which was suspicious of Lenovo’s close ties to the Chinese government.

But fast-forward twelve months and it looks like those fears have been allayed, if the rumors are to be believed.

The sale could be seen as a risky move for Lenovo, which has been spreading itself a bit thin lately. It was recently rumored to be planning a new mobile phone business in China to take on that country’s top dog Xiaomi Inc., whilst still maintaining its own Lenovo-branded smartphone business.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, Lenovo is still waiting for its $2.91 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition to be cleared by US regulators. The deal has been pending since January. If Lenovo snaps up BlackBerry it will have four smartphone businesses in its portfolio.

Of course any deal for BlackBerry would still need to pass a review by Canadian regulators. That means Lenovo would need to persuade lawmakers that the deal provides a “net benefit” to Canada’s economy, as well as address any security concerns.

One possibility is that Lenovo will just buy BlackBerry’s handset business and leave the enterprise software unit in Canadian hands. But that would go against BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s insistence that he has no plans to sell off the mobile business, despite its continuing losses.

BlackBerry’s most recent effort was its rather odd-looking Passport, a unique square-shaped handset that is likely to be an acquired taste for most consumers.

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