Displaying items by tag: USA
Gadget sales expected to reach new heights, despite consumer mistrust
A catalogue of exciting products are set to the hit the American market in the new year but experts warn that 2019 could bring trust-related challenges for the tech industry.
US retail revenue is expected to climb to a record high of $398 billion this year, with upcoming releases such as 8K TVs, Alexa-controlled pianos and motion-detecting drones. The trade group behind The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) predicts sales of gadgets will be unaffected despite the privacy scandals and ongoing geopolitical tensions.
"There are so many cool things happening in the consumer electronics industry right now," said CTA vice president of market research Steve Koenig. "We are fast approaching a new era of consumer technology."
The Las Vegas trade fair will showcase an array of futuristic innovations; including foldable phones, super high resolution 8K televisions, driverless cars, gunfire-blocking drones, and will even demonstrate child-monitoring Lovot robots.
The 2019 event will focus on artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, smart homes, smart cities, and health wearables. They will feature 4,500 exhibitors across 2.75 million square feet of exhibit space, with 182,000 trade professionals expected to attend.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) predict revenue growth in the US for smart phones, speakers, homes and watches along with televisions, drones, 'in-vehicle tech,' and streaming services, despite an array of 2018 scandals involving technology giants.
Last year, Amazon was forced to explain how virtual assistant Alexa recorded a private conversation and sent it to an Echo user without their knowledge. Facebook have also seen their shares plummet in the wake of privacy issues and face lawsuits in regards to their lax security of user data.
US Congress pass bill to protect customer data
Fifteen Democratic senators have proposed a new bill for protecting online information.
The Data Care Act creates new rules around how companies handle the data of customers. Data collectors would be required to ‘reasonably secure’ information and to ‘not use individual identifying data in ways that harm users’. It requires data collectors to give adequate notice to consumers about breaches of sensitive information.
If data collectors share or sell data with a third party, it would give the FTC the authority to fine companies that act deceptively.
It is just one of many proposals that members of Congress have put forward to regulate the tech industry. Earlier this year, Sen. Ron Wyden proposed a bill that would send executives who mishandle data to prison.
Privacy activists have welcomed the bill, believing online personal data should be handled in the same regard as bank or medical records. EFF legislative analyst India McKinney said in a statement that the organization will “look forward to working with the Senator to improve his bill and to advance information fiduciary protections that will meet the needs of Internet users and adequately safeguard consumer data privacy as a part of comprehensive privacy legislation.”
The bill comes after Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before a committee earlier this week. He was questioned on data privacy during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday.
5G hotspot expected for 2019
Verizon will launch its first 5G hotspot device to consumers in 2019, it has been announced. The American telecommunications company collaborated with Inseego and features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chip and Snapdragon X50 5G modem.
Lawmakers demand information about controversial software
Amazon’s facial recognition software Rekognition has come under fresh scrutiny after a group of US lawmakers demanded more information into how the tool is tested and audited.
Facebook’s new app will cover news across 400 US cities
Facebook has announced it is expanding its local news alert to 400 US cities, and is testing the feature in Australia. “Today In” includes previews that link to news websites and relevant government pages about top headlines, current discussions, weather and more. A separate section within the app will allow users to receive local updates.
A decline in the number of local news organizations is said to have inspired Facebook’s “Today In” section. It is understood the social network will monitor the app in a bid to remove fake news and biased sensationalism.
"Earlier this year, we started testing Today In after we did research in which over 50 percent of people told us they wanted to see more local news and community information on Facebook -- more than any other type of content we asked about," said product manager Andrea Watson Strong in a blog post.
"The research showed that people wanted both what might be traditionally understood as local news -- breaking news or information about past events like city council meetings, crime reports and weather updates -- as well as community information that could help them make plans, like bus schedules, road closures and restaurant openings.
The app will also feature a First Responder page which could be used to inform citizens in emergencies such as floods or hurricanes.
"People tell us it is important to receive timely, local updates in situations that directly affect them or that require them to take action, such as major road closures, blackouts or natural disasters," Strong said.
Samsung holds top sales spot in US, but loses share to Apple
Samsung regained the top sales spot in the USA in the three month period ending in May 2017, with market share rising to 36.2 percent, according to the latest smartphone OS data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. But this represents a fall of 1.1 percent over the past year, with Apple holding 34 percent share, up 4.7 percent from the previous year.
Kantar also revealed that iOS performance was strong in the USA, Australia and Japan, with Android making gains in the UK, Germany and France. In urban China, there was little year-on-year movement, with Android capturing 80.5 percent of smartphone sales, up one percent from the previous year.
Apple and Samsung continue to dominate smartphone sales, each with five models on the top 10 best-selling list, Kantar says. The Galaxy S8 launch helped Samsung regain the top position in the USA, but the bounce from the flagship launch was “less than would be expected from a full product redesign.”
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus occupy the top two spots, with the Samsung Galaxy S7 in third place, just ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S8 in the number four spot. The launch of the LG G6 had minimal impact, with the G6 now in thirteenth position with a 1.3% share in the US, Kantar says.
In urban China, iOS share remained almost flat at 19.2 percent, down 0.4 percent year-over-year, though an improvement from 16.2 percent in the three months ending April 2017. Huawei remained the market leader as its share grew 2.9 percent to 28.3 percent. Xiaomi performance edged up after a challenging few months, with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X coming in as the fourth-best-selling device in the three months ending May 2017.
“Xiaomi managed to regain some momentum with the Note 4X launch, but the brand is making slow progress with its higher-tier devices,” said Tamsin Timpson, Strategic Insight Director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia. “Xiaomi’s average selling price in the three months ending in May was 41 percent below the market ASP at ¥1523, and 33 percent below Huawei’s Honor Brand.”
In EU5 (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain), Android accounted for 79.5 percent of smartphone sales in the three months ending May 2017, increasing 2.8 percentage points from a year earlier, driven by strong performance in the UK, Germany, and France. iOS share edged up across Germany, France, and Spain, though declines in the UK and Italy meant overall iOS EU5 share remained steady, up 0.2 percent year-on-year to 18.4 percent.
“Samsung performed well in France in the three months ending in May 2017,” Sunnebo noted. “The low- and mid-tier Galaxy J series and A series models enabled Samsung to compete more effectively with home-grown upstart Wiko and global challenger Huawei.
“However, the largest contributor to Android’s EU5 growth came from Huawei, which posted strong sales in all EU5 markets except Spain. Huawei continued to produce good sales volumes, but its flagship P10 struggled to make an impact in sales rankings, with share gains attributed to the older, more value-orientated P8 and P9 Lite models.”
Trump admits he discussed prospect of forming cybersecurity unit with Putin at G20
US President Donald Trump has admitted that he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the prospect of forming a cybersecurity unit at the G20 summit which was held last week in Hamburg, Germany. The scrutiny over cybersecurity has intensified following the recent ransomware attack which destabilized hundreds of businesses and institutions like the NHS in the UK.
The attack only served to indicate further that it doesn’t matter what size your organization is, every entity it seems is extremely vulnerable to these cyber-attacks from those in the murky world of hacking. The US presidential race was dogged by allegations that Russia were involved in influencing the election. Hilary Clinton had her e-mail hacked during the campaign and was subsequently investigated by the FBI – and many political analysts believe this interference ultimately cost Clinton the election.
Both the CIA and FBI on the instruction from the Obama administration were asked to investigate the allegations further – in an attempt to establish whether Russia was responsible for the cyber-attack. The CIA later confirmed that it believed Russia was the source of the hack, but incredibly, this was rubbished by the President-elect Trump.
At the G20 Summit in Hamburg, both presidents were meeting for the first time, and Trump tweeted about the future of forming a cybersecurity unit between the two nations to combat fears over election hacking. He said it was time for the US to work constructively with officials in Moscow.
Trump tweeted, “Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cybersecurity unit so that election hacking and many other negative things, will be guarded and safe.” In addition to this, Trump disclosed that he had in fact challenged Putin on the allegations that Russia was responsible for the hacking scandal which embroiled the US presidential election, but said Putin rejected the claims.
Trump tweeted, “I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I've already given my opinion. We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”
Samsung to re-launch refurbished version of Galaxy Note 7 in South Korea
Samsung has announced that it will re-launch its much maligned Galaxy Note 7 after developing a refurbished version of the handset - and plan to introduce it into the South Korean market later this month. Samsung was forced to recall all of its Galaxy Note 7 devices last year, following widespread reports of handsets catching fire - and in some instances self-combusting, due to faulty batteries.
It was a huge blow for Samsung, and it’s been estimated that the faulty devices cost the South Korean conglomerate around $5 billion in operating profit – whilst it also dented its stock price and had an adverse effect on its relationship with stakeholders.
However, Samsung have now refurbished the Galaxy Note 7 by using new batteries and intend on releasing 400,000 phones to the market. The device has now been dubbed the ‘Galaxy Note 7 Fan Edition’ and is priced at around $611, which is about 30% cheaper than the price of the Note 7’s when initially launched last year. In addition to this, it has been revealed that the devices will be made from recalled, unsealed Note 7 handsets and unused Note 7 components.
Batteries in the newly refurbished Galaxy Note 7 have been subject to strict new testing, but have passed all the new safety measures which Samsung introduced following the recall last year. The batteries will have a lower capacity than those in the original Note 7.
Samsung had announced earlier this year that it planned to re-introduce the phones onto the market following the conclusion of an investigation by Samsung and other independent firm which established that the batteries were the sole responsibility for the fires in the faulty Note 7 devices. The world’s biggest smartphone maker by volume also announced its plan to launch an event for the Note 8 in the second-half of August. Samsung has thus far declined to comment on whether it plans on introducing the refurbished Note 7’s to other markets at a later date, although sources close to company claim they don’t plan on relaunching the refurbished Note 7 in the United States or India.
US government to focus on innovative technologies to drive economic growth
The US government has announced that it is set to refocus its efforts on examining ways in which it can help speed up the process of taking new technologies to the marketplace. The Trump administration has announced its intentions to bring together a group of drone makers, wireless companies and venture capitalists to explore practices that will enable the commercialization of these technologies in a much more streamlined fashion.
It has been confirmed that President Donald Trump will meet with the CEOs of General Electric Co, Honeywell International Incorporated and AT&T. Representatives from major drones industries and venture capitalists will also attend the meeting as part of a combined effort to focus on innovative technology in a bid to kick-start new job growth.
The White House’s deputy chief technology officer, Michael Kratsios has said the primary objective of the discussions is to drive ‘economic growth’. He said: “The goal of the session is to find ways the United States can maintain its leadership, creating and fostering entirely new technologies that will drive our economic growth."
The Trump administration has expressed its desire to promote the development and commercialization of emerging technologies – and has shown a particular interest in the development of unmanned drones and 5G wireless technologies. Some analysts have predicted that the impact of 5G will be similar to that of electricity.
The Obama administration has implemented rules and practices that enabled low-level small drones to be deployed for education, research and routine commercial use. It has been reported that the Trump administration is currently weighing up the option of expanding drone use for purposes such as deliveries where aircraft would fly beyond the sight of an operator. However, security issues would need to be resolved before such legislation could be passed.
The FAA has projected that by 2021 the number of small hobbyist drones will more than triple – whilst the commercial drone fleet will increase tenfold to about 442,000. In addition to this, last year, the FCC cleared the way for 5G - with the race to commercialize the technology underway which is expected to be deployed by 2020.
New 5G networks are expected to provide speeds at least 10 times and maybe 100 times faster than today's 4G networks. The next generation of wireless signals needs to be much faster and far more responsive to allow advanced technologies such as virtual surgery or controlling machines remotely, regulators say. The networks could help wirelessly connect devices such as thermostats or washing machines to facilitate the internet of things.
Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson deny allegations of bribery
Swedish IT telecoms colossus Ericsson is being forced to deny that they paid out tens of millions of dollars in bribes during 1998-2001.
A number of former executives with Ericsson have sensationally claimed that Ericsson engaged in bribery across a wide range of locations including Malaysia and Poland during that three-year period – and in one alleged instance bribed politicians, senior civil servants and the president of Costa Rica to secure a massive state contract in telecoms.
According to reports in Swedish Newspaper Dagens Nyheter, a former executive named Liss-Olof Nenzell has handed the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents relating to the alleged kickbacks.
The newspaper wrote, "Enormous sums were sent via Zurich from the company headquarters in Sweden to secret recipients around the world," - referring to what it called Nenzell's central role in the scheme.
The publication also alleges that the biggest bribes included 1.4 billion kronor (140 million euros, $150 million), sent to bank accounts in Malaysia, and 763 million kronor sent to Poland, via the British offshore banking haven of Jersey.
Swedish public radio station, SR, further claimed that money was sent to politicians and senior civil servants to Costa Rica, including the then president, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, during a period when Ericsson was vying for a major state contract in telecoms.
SR also revealed it had testimony from "several former top executives," who speaking on condition of anonymity "recounted how they were guilty of active corruption in securing contracts in a large number of countries."
Allegations of systematised bribery against Ericsson are nothing new – and allegations of bribery against the company date back to 2010.
However, Ericsson has always vehemently denied and refuted those allegations of bribery made against them.
A spokesperson for the organisation told Dagens Nyheter, that it “never found any evidence that bribes were allegedly paid”
In June, Ericsson said it was being investigated, including in the US, over what the Swedish press said was a case of alleged corruption in China, and in Greece.
Ericsson issued a profit warning in October, and followed this with the announcement of a net loss of 233 million kronor in the third quarter as operators slowed investment in mobile networks.