Ericsson Shutters Modem Unit, Cuts Jobs

Telecommunications technology and service provider Ericsson has announced it will close its modem-manufacturing unit, cutting 1,000 employees. The company said that the falling price of modems, the expenses associated with continued operations, and technology trends, such as the increasing integration of modems with processors, were among the factors leading to the decision. Ericsson will now focus on developing radio infrastructure technologies, small cells – also known as mini-mobile networks --, and machine-to-machine technologies, according to Reuters. The unit had employed about 1,600 people in Sweden, India, Germany, China, and Finland. The company’s new R&D unit in Lund, Sweden, will absorb employees not laid off. (Reuters)(PC World)(Bloomberg)

 

Cray Awarded $13 Million Supercomputing Contract

The PTC Center for High Performance Computing at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, has awarded Cray a $13 million contract to provide it with a next-generation Cray XC supercomputer system and services later this year. This will be one of the first petascale supercomputers in Scandinavia. The KTH institute plans to use the new system for simulations in areas such as fluid dynamics, climate modeling, neuroscience, and plasma physics. The institute will also make the supercomputer available to external researchers though the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing and the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe. This is the latest contract of its type for Cray, which will also provide next-generation Cray XC machines to the Korea Meteorological Association and the US National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. (GeekWire)(MarketWatch)

New Panasonic Hybrid Devices Combines Smartphone, High-End Camera Functions

Panasonic has debuted a product that combines the features of a smartphone and an expensive, stand-alone camera. The Android-based Lumix DMC-CM1 has a 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor—typically found on stand-alone cameras—that enables users to take photos in low light and high-definition video. The lens, made with Leica optics, lets users manually set variables such as shutter speed, aperture, and focus. Limited quantities of the CM1 will be available in Germany and France starting in November 2014 for €899. Panasonic did not indicate whether the product will be available in other markets later. (BBC)(PC World)

Smart Locket Keeps Loved Ones Close

The locket—a piece of jewelry, worn on a necklace, that holds treasured photos—seems like something from Victorian England. However, a new locket uses technology to store and display treasured photos and messages. The Purple prototype locket—which Startefact, the Artefact product design firm’s innovation and incubation program created —has a tiny display and touch screen. With a smartphone application, users can choose the photos they want to access and transfers them via Bluetooth. Users can also utilize Purple to send a photo or message to loved ones by text or via services such as Facebook or Instagram. “Purple is designed to be an heirloom piece of jewelry,” explains Artefact on its website < http://www.artefactgroup.com/content/work/purple-a-wearable-locket-for-the-21st-century/>. ”Materials like platinum, silver, gold and even brushed brass, together with pure smooth lines make it stand out in the sea of wearable gadgets.” The company is seeking partners to commercialize the locket. (Geek Wire)(WIRED)(Purple @ Artefact Group)

Microsoft Purchases Minecraft Maker for $2.5 Billion

Microsoft has bought Mojang, the Swedish firm behind the popular video game Minecraft, for $2.5 billion. The popular console and mobile game lets players build structures with Lego-style blocks, explore the area, and battle other players within the worlds created. The three founding members of Mojang, the game’s developer, are leaving the company as well. Mojang’s 40 employees will join the Microsoft game studio, but the three founding members will leave the company.  On social networking websites, Minecraft users have expressed differing opinions of whether the Microsoft acquisition will help or hurt their community. One reason Mojang’s owners sold the company to Microsoft is that Minecraft had gotten so big that managing it created too much pressure, according to Markus “Notch” Persson, one of the game’s creators. “Minecraft has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance,” stated Mojang on its blog. “Though we’re massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big.” (Geek Wire)(BBC)(Mojang)

Apple iPhone 6 Pre-Orders Set Record

The 4 million pre-orders for Apple’s recently announced iPhone 6 established a first-day record 12 September 2014 for the first 24-hour sales of an iPhone, doubling the previous record set by the iPhone 5. Apple will probably sell 9 to 10 million phones during the first weekend of sales, according to market analysts; however, Apple has yet to release its sales figures. Apple says demand for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is outpacing supply, meaning some customers must wait until October for the devices. Deliveries of pre-ordered phones will begin 19 September. “We believe significant demand will even spill into the March and June quarters [of 2015],” Barclays analysts wrote. (Reuters)(Bloomberg)(Computerworld)

RadioShack CFO Resigns

Citing personal reasons, RadioShack chief financial officer John Feray has resigned after seven months with the company, which potentially is facing bankruptcy. Radio Shack named Holly D. Etlin as interim chief financial officer. Etlin is also managing director of AlixPartners, the consultancy that has been helping RadioShack orchestrate a turnaround since July 2013. Last week RadioShack said it might have to file for bankruptcy protection if its cash situation worsens and its recovery options don’t pan out. (Reuters)(The Wall Street Journal)

US Hardware Makers Say Added Net-Neutrality Regulation Could Hurt Internet, Economy

The latest salvo in the ongoing US Net neutrality debate is a letter from 33 hardware manufacturers in which they say that regulating ISPs like public utility companies could hurt the Internet and the US economy. The letter to US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, published by various media outlets and released 9 September 2014 by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, was signed by Cisco Systems, Intel, IBM, Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, Panasonic Corp of North America, and other members of the Telecommunications Industry Association and/or the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. The US Federal Communications Commission is taking public comment on Net neutrality, a policy the FCC adopted in the FCC Open Internet Order 2010 that says carriers should provide the same level of service to all Internet traffic, regardless of source, content, or other factors. Supporters say this could let providers sell faster services to richer content providers, putting other providers at a disadvantage. Carriers say they should be able to run their networks as they see fit. A recent court decision said the FCC doesn’t classify Internet access as a telecommunications utility which exempts carriers from regulations such as Net neutrality. The commission is now considering reclassifying Internet access. The recent letter’s signatories say such a step would threaten growth and investment, including new deployments and network upgrades, ultimately affecting jobs and the US economy by creating “unnecessary obstacles.” Rather than devoting resources to building and improving infrastructure, they contend, businesses would be forced to move those resources to insure regulatory compliance. (Reuters)(PC World)(The Hill)

Home Depot Confirms Giant Data Breach

Home Depot confirmed that hackers breached its payment systems at US and Canadian stores, making it the latest victim in a wave of high-profile cybercrimes that have hit large companies since late last year. Experts estimate the attack on the home-improvement giant could be among the largest data breaches to date, with perhaps 60 million payment-card numbers stolen. The retailer, which has 2,200 stores in the US and Canada, has not indicated the number of customers affected. The breach may have affected anyone who shopped at Home Depot stores in the US and Canada from April to September 2014, said company spokesperson Paula Drake. The company is offering free identity protection and credit-monitoring services to these customers. Investigative security journalist Brian Krebs broke   the news about the attack on 2 September. He said he found some of the stolen payment-card data for sale on black market websites. Before Home Depot confirmed the breach, customers in the US state of Georgia filed a class-action lawsuit stating that the company failed to protect customers from fraud and didn’t alert them to the problem in a timely manner. Krebs says the malware used against Home Depot indicates the hackers were the same ones involved in the December 2013 attack on the Target department-store chain, which exposed data for 40 million payment cards. Home Depot says it will begin using systems for using payment cards with embedded chips, which are more secure, by the end of 2014. (BBC)(The New York Times)(Krebs on Security)

T-Mobile USA Files Suit, Alleges Chinese Telecom Stole Phone-Testing Robot Technology

T-Mobile USA has filed a suit in a US District Court alleging that Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in 2012 and 2013  stole designs and parts from T-Mobile’s Tappy cellular-phone testing robot so that it could replicate the system.  The robot—kept in the company’s Bellevue, Washington, labs—simulates a human finger pushing buttons and tests how well devices perform under repeated, heavy use. T-Mobile says it was the first company to use a robot for testing. At the time Huawei allegedly stole information about Tappy, the Chinese company was providing devices for T-Mobile. Huawei officials, according to the technology news service Geek Wire, say they created their own xDeviceRobot for testing with T-Mobile’s knowledge. They contend that the information that T-Mobile says they stole were not used in the Huawei robot. T-Mobile did not specify the damages it hopes to recover. (GeekWire)(The Seattle Times)

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