SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:17:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Battle of the flagships: OnePlus 2 vs. iPhone 6 Plus Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:17:20 +0000 On Monday, OnePlus, the company behind last year’s OnePlus One, unveiled the new OnePlus 2, touting it as a “flagship killer.”

Although the company is of the opinion that “a great product should make its users forget about specs,” many will still want to know how the OnePlus 2 stacks up against other flagships.

With a 5.5-inch screen size, the OnePlus 2 is comfortably in phablet territory, therefore we compare it to that other flagship phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus, below.


OnePlus 2: At the outset, the OnePlus 2’s looks really do impress with an aluminum-magnesium alloy frame and a soft Sandstone Black rear cover. It also offers some customization options thanks to a selection of swappable rear covers available in Kevlar, Black Apricot, Rosewood, and Bamboo.

iPhone 6 Plus: Apple is known for its design prowess and attention to detail.  The iPhone 6 Plus does not disappoint in this category with its ion-strengthened cover glass that is rounded on the edges and curves to seamlessly connect with the anodized aluminum enclosure on the back. You cannot customize it by swapping covers, but it is available in Apple’s stylish gold, silver and space gray colors.


OnePlus 2: The phablet-sized screen is a 1080 x 1920 HD LCD at 401 ppi, measuring in at 5.5-inches. It’s very bright and the company claims it offers excellent visibility at any angle or in any light.

iPhone 6 Plus: Sporting a 5.5-inch LED-backlit widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution at 401 ppi, the iPhone 6 Plus more than holds its own against the OnePlus 2 and offers one of the best smartphone viewing experiences around.

Internal Components

OnePlus 2: Two versions are available: a 16GB model with 3GB of RAM and a 64GB model with 4GB of RAM. Both feature a 64-bit 1.8GHz octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor, more than justifying the OnePlus 2’s flagship label. Power is provided by a 3300mAh battery.

iPhone 6 Plus: Available in 16/64/128GB models, the iPhone 6 Plus sports Apple’s A8 chip with 64-bit architecture, M8 motion sensor and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a standby time of 384 hours.

Neither phone offers a microSD card slot.

Operating system

OnePlus 2: OnePlus’s latest offering runs OxygenOS, the company’s tweaked version of Android 5.1 Lollipop. The interface is much the same as the standard Android version, but does add a few tricks, including new Camera and Audio Tuner apps and support for gesture controls.

iPhone 6 Plus: If you buy one today, you’ll get it with iOS 8.4, the very latest version which now includes Apple Music. In Apple’s favor is its popular App Store and the fact that iOS 9 is due out in just a few months.


OnePlus 2: The rear camera is a 13-megapixel unit with optical image stabilization, a dual-LED flash and a low light sensor. It’s capable of 4K video or slow-mo 720p video and can also save images in RAW format. The front camera is a 5-megapixel unit.

iPhone 6 Plus: The rear camera is a 8-magapixel unit with autofocus, true tone flash, optical image stabilization, HD and slo-mo video capability and uses the phone’s gyroscope for better image stabilization and faster focusing.  The front FaceTime camera is a 1.2-megapixel unit capable of 720p HD video and burst mode.

Other features

OnePlus 2: The handset features a fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C charging port, dual-SIM card slot, but no NFC – a pity considering the rising popularity of contactless payments services.

iPhone 6 Plus: The iPhone 6 Plus has an NFC chip and supports Apple Pay. In addition, it has Touch ID for security, Siri, a barometer, three-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor.

Price & availability

OnePlus 2: $329 for the 16 GB model and $389 for the 64GB model. The OnePlus 2 goes on sale August 11, but you have to rely on OnePlus’ invite system or attend a launch event.

iPhone 6 Plus: $299 for the 16GB, $399 for the 64GB and $499 for the 128GB, although prices vary in different markets; available now.

Image via OnePlus
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Amazon proposes dedicated airspace for commercial drones Wed, 29 Jul 2015 07:10:17 +0000 Far from being a joke, or some astute marketing ploy, Inc. is deadly serious about its audacious plan to create “delivery drones”, and has drafted new proposals to regulate commercial UAVs in the U.S. According to The Guardian, the company has suggested that U.S. officials designate a 200-foot high stretch of airspace especially for drones.

Amazon presented its plan at a NASA-hosted conference in San Francisco yesterday, saying the meausre would see all airspace at an altitude of between 200 and 400 feet dedicated for use by drones alone. The plan also calls for a no-fly buffer between 400 and 500 feet, with helicopters and aircraft forced to fly at altitudes of at least 500 feet. Meanwhile, regular consumer drones would be allowed to fly at altitudes of 200 feet or less.

Amazon’s plan also calls for a central tracking system to monitor all commercial drones in U.S. airspace.

“Under our proposal everybody has to be collaborative — vehicles must be able to talk to each other and avoid each other as the airspace gets denser at low altitudes,” said Gur Kimchi, head of Amazon’s delivery drone program, in an interview with The Guardian.

Amazon’s proposal indicates that the company is deadly serious about getting its “Prime Air” delivery drones into the sky. Amazon believes that drones can deliver products to consumers far faster than conventional methods, but it isn’t the only player banking on U.S. officials opening up the nation’s skies. Sony recently laid out its own plans for drones in the enterprise, while the U.S. postal service is also looking at their potential for deliveries. Numerous drone startups are also looking to employ drones for a variety of industrial purposes, such as taking photos of real estate, surveying pipelines, oil facilities and farmland, and even shooting movie scenes.

Should Amazon’s proposal be accepted, it’s likely that drones would become a much more common site in U.S. skies. Nevertheless, that could still be several years off, for The Guardian says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been laboriously slow at creating a framework that would legalize commercial drone use. The FAA drew up original proposals last February, but these came with highly restrictive demands that drones always remain in the line of sight of operators, essentially barring drones from being able to deliver goods or carry out distant surveys.

But even if the FAA does agree with Amazon’s proposals for dedicated drone space, the company faces many other challenges before Prime Air can take off. For one thing, the company will need to demonstrate its delivery drones can fly above U.S. skies safely without any mishaps. Nevertheless, if anyone has enough power and clout to make it happen, it’ll be a company like Amazon – the only question is when.

Image credit: heimkinothx via
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A rumored 10M signed up for Apple Music free trial, but will they stick around and pay? Wed, 29 Jul 2015 05:38:07 +0000 Apple Music is slightly less than a month old and seemingly off to a great start – at least according to the folks from Hits Daily Double (via 9to5Mac) and their “inside sources at some of the major labels.” Apple has not made the numbers public but has purportedly shared subscriber numbers with music labels under non-disclosure agreements. And how many have signed up for Apple Music? As many as 10 million says the sources.

This puts a finer point on what little information Apple CEO Tim Cook was willing to divulge during the company’s latest earnings call. According to Cook, “Millions and millions are using the trial period; the numbers grow substantially every day.”

The sources also added that streaming numbers on some albums are so high as to be competitive with Spotify – especially when it comes to “a couple of cutting-edge hip-hop titles.”

Notably, all 10 million of these Apple Music subscribers are currently almost a month into their three-month free trial period. It remains to be seen how many will remain once that free trial period runs out and they have to start paying at least $9.99 per month.

Rival Spotify touts 75 million users of which only 20 million are paid subscribers. Apple Music does not offer a free plan, although some limited functionality is available for non-subscribers signed in with their Apple ID, so it stands to reason its conversion rate may be higher as users really have no other options other than to pay up or leave.

This writer would certainly like to see statistics on how many Apple Music trial members have turned off Apple Music auto-renewal in iOS and iTunes after realizing that Apple would automatically charge them at the end of the trial. That may give us some indication of what the Apple Music’s conversion rate may be.

Apple Music’s launch has not been without hiccups and its share of bad press. As 9to5Mac points out, early adopters experienced a slew of issues early on and the service was also hampered by iTunes outages at one point.

Jim Dalrymple, a self-professed lover of Apple, called Apple Music a “nightmare” in a blog post. Meanwhile, a poll run by 9to5Mac shows that 53 percent of respondents think Apple Music is “too buggy” and should have been released as a beta.

Apple is reportedly planning a big Apple Music marketing push, starting with a number of TV spots in conjunction with the upcoming MTV Music Awards.

Image credit: Fe Ilya, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
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Strong finish for #UncarrierAmped as T-Mobile adds Apple Music to Music Freedom, offers free upgrades to next iPhone Wed, 29 Jul 2015 04:23:30 +0000 T-Mobile has been riding the wave of summer with its Un-carrier Amped promotion and on Tuesday announced a strong finish to the campaign. In what the company says is its “last move” for Un-carrier Amped, T-Mobile CEO John Legere revealed that, starting immediately, Apple Music will be available to subscribers of the company’s Music Freedom music streaming plan and anyone buying an iPhone 6 before the end of summer will automatically qualify to get the new iPhone 6 due out later this year. (via 9to5Mac)

Free Apple Music streaming

According to T-Mobile, Music Freedom sees the company’s customers streaming 131 million songs per day – all without having to pay for the data it would normally require. The company has 33 popular and niche streaming services taking part in Music Freedom, including Pandora, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, Spotify, Rdio, Songza, SoundCloud, Google Music, and more.

Legere says 80 percent of Music Freedom requests have been for Apple Music. T-Mobile has taken note, and now Apple Music has been added to Music Freedom, replacing iTunes Radio, which was already included.

Free upgrade to next iPhone

In an effort to get people to buy new iPhones during a time when everyone is waiting for the next iPhone, T-Mobile will let customers who buy a new iPhone 6 before Labor Day upgrade to the next iPhone for free, provided they upgrade before the end of the year.

Here’s how Legere explains it:

This time of year, everyone’s waiting to make a move, waiting to see which devices are coming next. “Will the next one be better?” “Should I go for it or wait?” Today, we’re solving all that and ending the wait—in a big way. Now, every single customer who gets a new iPhone 6 this summer as part of this deal can simply swap it for the next iPhone, if they upgrade before the end of the year. Yeah, that’s what I said. Just swap it out and pay NOTHING more—nothing up front and no change to your monthly payment. No deposit. No fees. Nothing. You get the next iPhone guaranteed.

The deal is also valid for anyone who has bought an iPhone 6 on the JUMP! On Demand program since its launch.

Those buying an iPhone 6 with Jump! On Demand before the end of summer will also be given first dibs on getting their hands on the newest iPhone. Provided they place their order within the first 48 hours of it going on sale, their order will be given priority and shipped first.

Legere also did an entertaining video blog to accompany the announcement:

Image via T-Mobile
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Slashdot, SourceForge for sale as owner DHI’s plans for both don’t pan out Wed, 29 Jul 2015 03:47:30 +0000 DHI Group, Inc. announced as part of its quarterly earnings report Tuesday that it intends to sell off old-school tech forum Slashdot, and open source applications and software directory SourceForge.

The company acquired both properties from Geeknet, Inc. (the company previously known as both VALinux, Inc. and SourceForge, Inc.) for $20 million in 2012, in an effort by DHI (then known as to give their digital recruitment business a broader reach by tapping into Slashdot’s user community base and to extend the business outside North America “by engaging with SourceForge’s significant international technology user community.”

Given both are now on the market, it probably goes without saying that those plans didn’t work out so well, with DHI saying that they had not successfully leveraged the Slashdot user base, and that the anticipated value to the Company of the SourceForge traffic outside North America had not materialized.

“While Slashdot Media has an established and solid position in the Open Source community with iconic brands and an incredibly loyal and passionate following of tech professionals, it is no longer a core strategic business for DHI,” President and Chief Executive Officer of DHI Michael Durney said in a statement.

“We believe Slashdot Media will have greater opportunity to capitalize on its brand equity and unique assets as part of a business that is focused primarily on media and software solutions and, at the same time, divestiture of the businesses will allow us to allocate resources to our core strategies.”

Shuffled around

It may be a slight exaggeration to say that Slashdot has had too many owners, but the site has changed hands, along with SourceForge a number of times over the years.

Although perhaps not as well known to younger techies, Slashdot, providing technology related news with a heavy slant towards Linux and Open Source issues, is one of the longest running tech forums and news site on the web, having been founded back in the pre-first tech bubble days of 1997.

The site still remains influential today, but the glory days, which created the term “the Slashdot Effect” which could crash sites linked to by it due to the sheer volume of traffic, are long behind it, although it still plods along with both an active, and engaged userbase.

Like Slashdot, SourceForge has also seen better days, although the blame lies with DHI, who for all intents and purposes has driven the once hugely popular service into the ground through trying to monetize the business by forcibly bundling adware into open source packages; a new owner might be able to revive the business, but given its name is now mud in the open source community, it would be a huge ask of anyone.

KeyBanc Capital Markets, Inc. has been hired to find a buyer, and both sites are officially on the market, although it’s not clear whether DHI is looking to sell them together, or would be happy to sell each property individually.

Image credit: crincon/Flickr/CC by 2.0
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Vacation home rentals site raises $16m Series B Wed, 29 Jul 2015 03:12:27 +0000 Vacation home rentals site has raised $16 million Series B in a round led by Steadfast Venture Capital that also included a diverse range of institutional and individual investors including 7 Seas Venture Partners, Enspire Capital, Azure Capital, former Expedia Chief Executive Officer Erik Blachford, Fritz Demopoulos, Monte Koch, Drew Goldman, Brendan Wallace and former NFL player for the 49ers and Raiders Shawntae Spencer.

Founded in 2010, claims to be the world’s largest vacation home rental site. and boasts of having over five million listings spanning 100,000 destinations worldwide.

Best described as a meta-search engine, the site pulls in listings from partner sites including HomeAway, VRBO, TripAdvisor, and dozens more, providing users a single platform to find vacation properties they may wish to rent.

Although perhaps not a household name quite yet,’s numbers show the site is growing rapidly, with a staggering 2,390 per growth in monthly revenues compared to 2014, 2,918 percent growth in traffic to over 2 million unique visitors per month, and in comparison, a far more modest 158 percent growth in listings year-on-year.

The company claims that its services a sticky as well, with over one-third of users returning to the site to book rentals.

“Before, travelers would spend hours searching for vacation rentals across an average of five sites,” Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Jen O’Neal said in a statement. “Now they simply come to to browse millions of properties with a single click.”

All that is old is new again

Meta-search engines are nothing even remotely close to being a new idea in the startup space, and yet seemingly no one has done it well before in the vacation rentals space prior to

The numbers speak for themselves, they’re clearly doing something right with what they’re bringing to market, and the new round is simply validation of this.

It’s not clear exactly how much has raised to-date as they didn’t officially disclose the amount of their Series A round, although it was rumored to be in the $5-$10 million range, meaning total funding to-date would be in the vicinity of $22-$27 million.

The company said the new round would allow them to “fuel our growth, expand aggressively into international markets and enhance our mobile offering.”

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Disruption: Amazon Launchpad offers startups launch, market and distribution support Wed, 29 Jul 2015 02:46:39 +0000, Inc. launched a new service Tuesday that offers a disruptive service for hardware startups that provides those companies support to launch, market, and distribute their products, all wrapped with a neat bow of marketing support.

Called Amazon Launchpad, the new program delivers a streamlined onboarding experience, complete with custom product pages, a marketing package, and (perhaps most importantly) access to Amazon’s global fulfillment network.

The product is said to be geared toward helping startups successfully launch their products while communicating the message they want to spread to a wider audience.

“With Amazon Launchpad, startups can overcome many of the challenges associated with launching new products by using Amazon’s retail expertise and infrastructure to create awareness and drive sales” the pitch from the company reads.

Participating startups receive three core feature: brand development, that offers custom product pages that along with a traditional sales pitch also allows founders to share the story behind the idea, and communicate with those interested in the product; customer reach provides Amazon’s cross-site marketing tools that include placements and recommendations to users to give products from the startups visibility across Amazon itself; and last, Launchpad offers global expansion opportunities from the get-go, although this is limited to those countries in which Amazon offers fulfillment centers, currently limited to 10 global marketplaces.

For those interested in seeking out startup products, Launchpad will also offer its own marketplace which consumers can visit to seek out the new and even occasionally exotic products offered by the startups that participate in the program.


Launchpad sounds upfront like a combination of services provided by a number of companies, Shopify, Inc. for selling, any number of companies for shipping, and even the likes Kickstarter for promotion (although without the crowdfunding aspect naturally,) and that’s because it is.

The program disrupts existing players catering to these hardware startups by bringing the power of Amazon’s e-commerce reach in a one-stop shop of services, meaning that hardware startups will no longer need to work with different companies for the various aspects of sales, marketing, and distribution; it probably goes without saying that Amazon is literally the 500 pound gorilla in the room with this play, and their involvement alone, given their market reach and world-class fulfillment services makes Launchpad extremely appealing, particularly compared to smaller, part players catering to hardware startups.

It’s all good, in theory, to say that it’s appealing on paper, but it turns out Amazon had another rabbit in their Launchpad launch hat: they’ve already signed dozens of startups up to the service.

Products available from Launchpad at launch include Bluesmart Smart Carry-On Luggage, eero Home Wi-Fi System, Cuff DVB Smart Sport Band, Fenugreen FreshPaper Produce Saver Sheets, Electric Objects EO1 Digital Art Panel, Soma Sustainable Pitcher & Plant-Based Water Filter, Thync Mood-Changing Wearable System, and Casper Mattress, among others.

Amazon claims to be further working with more than 25 venture capital firms, startup accelerators, and crowdfunding platforms to bring startups to Launchpad, with firms on board including Andreessen Horowitz ,Y Combinator, TechStars, 500 Startups, and Highland Capital Partners to name but a few.

“As the pace of innovation continues to increase within the startup community, we want to help customers discover these unique products and learn the inspiration behind them. We also know from talking to startups that bringing a new product to market successfully can be just as challenging as building it,” Amazon Vice President Jim Adkins said in a statement.

“Launchpad makes Amazon an ideal partner for the most innovative young tech companies,” Co-Founder and General Partner of  Andreessen Horowitz Marc Andreessen added. “It’s yet another way Amazon fosters a real ecosystem of invention and creativity.”

Service provider killer?

While there’s zero question that Amazon Launchpad is going to seriously disrupt the services market catering to hardware startups, the question going forward is just how much it will impinge on other companies providing services to this market.

Shopify is the obvious company to look at, and while it’s hard to say with certainty, it’s a reasonable prediction to say that it will, at the very least, affect Shopify’s growth prospects going forward.

It may not be an either-or proposition as there is no mention that Launchpad users were restricted to using Launchpad exclusively to hawk their wares, but likewise a small startup looking to get ahead is going to find the one-stop shop of services, combined with Amazon’s unbeatable reach, as provided by Launchpad, to be far more appealing than engaging with various other companies that provide parts of the service separately, and without Amazon’s customer reach.

Here’s hoping that Amazon truly delivers on the promise of Launchpad going forward, as it’s good for the hardware startup spaces, and that’s good for broadscale innovation.

Image credit: msimdottv/Flickr/CC by 2.0


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Tape is not dead! | #HPDiscover Tue, 28 Jul 2015 22:00:16 +0000 “LTFS [Linear Tape File System] is a real game changer for active archives,” according to Simon Watkins, Worldwide Tape Product Marketing Manager, HP Storage at Hewlett-Packard Co. Watkins joined theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s Media team, to discuss the future of tape storage during HP Discover Las Vegas 2015.

Watkins sees modern tape data storage as a less expensive, higher performance medium than disk drives. Addressing the idea that tape is an outdated medium, he noted: “Just because a technology is mature doesn’t mean that there aren’t any opportunities, and it certainly doesn’t mean that there isn’t any innovation.”

Centralized storage that provides accessibility

Joining Watkins on theCUBE was Tim Heit, a photographer at Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. Heit spoke about how Barrett-Jackson is using HP’s tape technology for storage of the company’s media files. With more than 18 years of live TV footage archived in various formats, Barrett-Jackson needed cost-effective, centralized digital storage that provided longevity and security, as well as the ability to access footage for use in future productions.

“Being able to retrieve it if we need it, and when we need it, was what we were looking for,” Heit told theCUBE.

With the ability to store 6.25 TB on a single cartridge, a sustained transfer rate of 1.44 TB per hour, and LTFS allowing Tape as NAS, tape storage now provides the “performance benefits of flash with long-term cost and reliability benefits of tape,” Watkins said.

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of HP Discover Las Vegas 2015.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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Ouya reportedly not paying ‘Free the Games’ developers, Razer denies responsibility Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:15:25 +0000 Yesterday, gaming peripheral maker Razer Inc announced that it would be buying the software assets to the Ouya microconsole, but despite that deal it looks like Ouya Inc will be unable to fulfill some of its financial obligations.

In particular, Ouya is apparently not paying the debt owed to independent game developers as part of the company’s “Free the Games” fund, which promised to match contributions on games for Ouya that were successfully funded through Kickstarter.

“[Ouya] paid the first installment when we submitted our beta,” one developer told Motherboard. “I’ve been working on bringing the game to release expecting to attain the remaining two installments but that won’t happen now. A lot of hard work went into controller support and UI elements just for OUYA. It’s hard to ask for additional artwork to finish a game when the tail end of your budget just disappears, much less advertise upon release.”

Some developers are looking at Razer to honor the micro console maker’s previous agreements because it is the new owner of the Ouya name, but Razer has stated that the Free the Games fund was not part of the assets it acquired.

“The Free the Games initiative was put forth by the original OUYA and that program was NOT part of the acquisition by Razer (the main asset acquired by Razer was the Android store while many of the other original OUYA assets such as the hardware and other programs were not part of the acquisition),” Razer said in a statement.

This obviously does not sit very well with some of the indie developers who were counting on that money, and while Razer may not be legally responsible for the money owed, some developers are still holding them accountable.

“Claiming Ouya no longer exists as a company to get out of funding commitments, while continuing to use the name in the announcements today as if they still are a company that exists, or that they’ve somehow transformed the company into a product or service, just stinks,” a developer told Motherboard. “I think Razer will have trouble ahead if this is the level of respect they continue to show indie devs.”

Photo by pcutler 
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Federation is key to Big SQL on Hadoop | #HadoopSummit Tue, 28 Jul 2015 20:00:08 +0000 “I don’t think that warehouses are going to go anywhere anytime soon,” Adriana Zubiri, program director of BigData Development at IBM, told theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s Media team, at Hadoop Summit 2015. “Having the opinion that all the data will move into one place is naïve.”

According to Zubiri, having federation for Big SQL (which makes Big Data SQL accessible) on Hadoop is the big differentiator for business customers, allowing them to access data from multiple data warehouses.

“When you’re querying you don’t want to move the data around; you just want to do the query and let the data live where it is,” Zubiri said.

IBM believes in sharing

“We think that Hadoop is an open-data system where we need to share,” said Zubiri, discussing IBM’s commitment for SQL on Hadoop to be 100 percent open. “We play nice.”

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of Hadoop Summit 2015.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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