LG’s second banana phone will be more than just a banana phone. We have already discussed why the first round of smartphones that utilize flexible displays isn’t terribly impressive, but LG’s second phone with a flexible panel will reportedly be a completely different story. According to a report from ZDNet Korea, LG is currently developing a sequel to its G Flex smartphone that won’t just sport a slight curve, the entire device will be bendable. The report states that LG’s upcoming flexible phone will bend up to 90 degrees without breaking, and it will represent an important step on the road to smartphones that are completely foldable. LG’s bendable G Flex sequel will debut sometime in 2014 ahead of any similar offering Samsung might be working on, according to the report.
Like a good exorcist, the Federal Communications Commission looks set to drive back the merger sent from hell. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai says that the FCC is very unlikely to sign off on any proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable because the Obama administration has shown itself much less likely to approve major telecom mergers — such as the blocked AT&T-T-Mobile merger — than a Republican administration might be. A merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast, which are the two largest cable providers in the United States, would further consolidate an industry that is already uncompetitive in many major markets. In addition to Comcast, smaller cable provider Charter has also been rumored to be interested in buying up Time Warner Cable.
Smartwatches are the future… or something like that. As growth in the smartphone market slows, especially at the high end where companies have been making a killing, consumer electronics giants need to look elsewhere to bolster earnings growth. For Samsung, Microsoft, Google, Sony, LG and maybe even Apple, that “elsewhere” is wearable computing.
The wearables category definitely has legs but know one knows where it will end up going. Are fitness bands the future? Will consumers clamor for connected eyewear? Or will top companies dump enough marketing dollars into smartwatches that we all forget how geeky they are and ditch our Tags, Fossils, Rolexes, Tissots, Seikos, Citizens, Bulovas, Breitlings, Weils, Cartiers, IWCs, Panerais, Jaegers, Omegas, Hamiltons, Ebels and Hublots in favor of a digital watch tied to a smartphone? More →
A popular flashlight Android app with an installed base of between 50 million and 100 million users has also been collecting personal data including location and device ID and sharing it with advertisers even for users who had opted out, the Federal Trade Commission found. GoldenShores Technologies, LLC, the developer behind the “Brightest Flashlight Free” app that currently enjoys a 4.8-star rating from over 1 million reviews, on Thursday settled a case with the FTC, Fast Company reports. More →
The holiday season is one of the most important times of the year for electronics companies, but a few might have overstepped their boundaries this time around. Bloomberg reports that Samsung, Philips and retailer Media-Saturn “were among companies raided by European Union antitrust officials as part of a probe into suspected online-sales restrictions.” The EU commission believes that these companies might have put restrictions on online sales of their products, which could cause prices to artificially increase and online availability of some products to cease entirely. Each of the three companies named in the Bloomberg article stated that they were cooperating fully with the EU commission, although none would go into any further detail.
What goes up must come down and on Wall Street, billions are made and lost betting on which direction companies are headed. Apple is the most valuable technology company in America by a huge margin so needless to say, it gets plenty of attention on the Street. At some point, be it sometime in the next few years or sometime in the next few decades, Apple will no longer be on top. It is inevitable. The question countless industry watchers try to answer, of course, is when. More →
Apple’s new iBeacon technology has tremendous potential in the retail space. Retailers can use the technology, which allows for the creation of a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon that emit signals iOS 7-powered devices will automatically react to, for a variety of important functions ranging from discount notifications to tracking consumer habits. There’s also a darker side to iBeacons, should the technology be misused. While a handful of companies have already begun adopting the technology in their stores, The Associated Press on Friday reported that Apple itself will now be rolling iBeacons out in its 256 U.S. retail stores beginning immediately. To coincide with the move, the Apple Store app for iOS has been updated to support iBeacons and related notifications. Screenshots of the new iBeacon alert configuration screens from 9to5Mac follow below. More →
The early returns on smartphones with curved displays such as the Samsung Galaxy Round and the LG G Flex have been pretty underwhelming so far. But as AndroidCentral reports, LG doesn’t see flexible displays as a mere gimmick and is predicting that they will take up a sizable chunk of the market by the end of the decade. Speaking during a press gathering in San Francisco this week, LG executive Ramchan Woo estimated that 40% of smartphones in 2020 will ship with some sort of curved or flexible display as more consumers will be drawn toward wearable devices that fit naturally on their bodies. More →
Spotify is apparently interested in expanding its mobile music services by offering users free (ad-supported) on-demand access to streaming music. The company’s current offer lets users stream unlimited music on their smartphones and tablets from a catalog of over 20 million tracks for $10 per month, or stream Pandora-like radio with ads for free. According to The Wall Street Journal, Spotify has inked deals with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group for an enhancement to its ad-based services that will allow on-demand music streaming. More →
Cable companies have shown no signs of concern over cord cutting so far and it’s easy to see why: Even customers who ditch their home video services will keep paying cable companies for broadband access. But TechHive notes that the cord cutting trend might finally be showing up on cable companies’ radars now that it’s growing to a more substantial size. A quick rundown of the numbers: Comcast has added 917,000 broadband subscribers this year but has lost 348,000 pay TV customers; Charter added 86,000 broadband subscribers but lost 27,000 pay TV subscribers; and Time Warner Cable saw its broadband subscriber numbers rise by 1.7% while seeing its pay TV subscriber numbers shrink by 6%. More →
Just how deep does the NSA rabbit hole go? The Washington Post reports that the NSA is “gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” This enables the agency to track an individual user throughout the day, virtually mapping out every location that the cellphone owner has visited. According to the NSA, the location tracking is an incidental side effect of data collection, although U.S. officials have deemed the practice lawful as the data could assist in the development of the country’s intelligence regarding foreign threats. More →
Patent trolls are so widely disliked that they’ve actually inspired Congress to do something to crack down on them. The Washington Post reports that the United States House of Representatives on Thursday passed the Innovation Act by a margin of 325 to 91, a huge win for legislation aimed at reining in purportedly frivolous tech patent lawsuits. More →
Google is letting Glass Explorers swap in their first-generation wearable device for a newer model if they want to try out a faster, more durable device that also works with prescription glasses and comes with new accessories. While Explorers won’t have to pay anything on top of what they already paid for Google Glass to make the switch, only those Explorers who bought their units before October 28th can apply. The hardware upgrade is not mandatory though, Engadget reports, although in its notification Google warns Explorers that future features and accessories may not work with first-generation Glass units.
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