Steam May Soon Accept Bitcoins

When it comes to PC gaming, everyone knows the feeling that happens when the Steam sales come on. Your bank account starts to hate you and you wish you didn’t save your card details as you click and drain your funds for games you won’t get to play for a few months if you are lucky. Now it looks like Steam may soon be accepting Bitcoins, draining both your physical and digital money with each sale.

Posted on a Reddit feed, the post appears to come from the Steamworks Development group, a private group for the platforms developers. The post teases that the company is looking to use an external payment provider to help accept bitcoins.

The post makes clear that the calculations will be done all via the external processor, with you still being charged the same amount and the processor acting as the middle man who takes your bitcoins and pays Valve the appropriate amount of traditional currency. Given the unstable nature of digital currency, this means that at no time does Valve hold the bitcoins, making sure they avoid any sudden drops or spikes in prices for the currency.

This process would make sense, but with concerns about the legality of people’s bitcoins and their stability, what happens if people make large purchases with “bad bitcoins”? With no effort on the side of developers or anyone who makes a purchase using the new system, I’m sure many will accept and enjoy the new option for buying all those games you want.

AMD Releases Lacklustre Q1 Results

Nearing the end of the cycle for their current generation products, its not surprising to see poor financial results come out from AMD. Last year was a terrible one and it looks like 2016 won’t be much better, at least for Q1. For the first quarter of 2016, AMD posted a net loss of  $109 million from an operating revenue of $832 million. Unsurprisingly, it is better than 2015 as that year was arguably the worst ever.

AMD blames the revenue drop of 13% sequentially and 19% year-over-year as lower semi-custom sales. This is somewhat expected as we continue the PS4 and Xbox One lifecycle. The bright side is that Sony is set to release the PlayStation 4 Neo and even the Xbox One will see new revisions if not a full upgrade. Combined with the Nintendo NX, those should bounce back the semi-custom segment as consumers buy more consoles again.

Even though margins improved slightly to 32% (Intel posts around 60%), the increase in expenses led to the loss. This is reportedly due to increased R&D for upcoming products, which in my mind are due to Vega/Navi and Zen+ since Zen and Polaris are all set in stone by now. With Polaris 10 and Zen coming this year and even an Apple deal in the works, AMD has a good chance to turn things around as long as they can execute and head back to the black.

Intel Q1 Results Revealed – 12,000 Job Cuts Planned

Three days ago, word came out from Intel about a series of massive layoffs in the works. Today, Intel has officially revealed just how deep the cuts are going to be and they are deep. Around 11% of their global workforce of nearly 107,000 workers will be let go in either voluntary or involuntary layoffs. This means as many as 12,000 employees of Intel may soon be entering the job market.

The cuts are set to be part of the transition from being a “PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices”. This change comes as the PC business continues of soften and 40% of company revenue have come from the data center and Internet of Things segments. Compared to Q1 2015, Q1 2016 was slightly worse, with a 1.2% drop in gross margins though revenue was up 7%.

Platform sales volume (processors and chipsets) fell 15% but revenue was up 19% due to the higher selling prices. We can all see that with how much Skylake cost compared to Haswell. overall, the costs of restructuring will come to $1.2 billion, but Intel expects to save $750 million in 2017 and $1.4 billion every year after that. It will be interesting to see where most of the cuts land and if they will impact the fabs and R&D budgets.

Toshiba Doubles Layoffs to Over 14000 Positions

The past few years haven’t been good for Japanese conglomerates and the it appears things are getting even worse at Toshiba. After a massive accounting scandal popped up last year, the Japanese firm ended up losing a massive $4.5 billion USD for the 2015 fiscal year. That led to planned cuts of 7,800 positions worldwide as an effort to cut costs. Things appear to have gotten worse though as Toshiba is now reported to cut over 14,000 positions in this round of layoffs.

At 14,000, this is double the initial estimates for cuts. 7,610 positions or around half are to come from the consumer electronics and PC business segments. Another 4,590 jobs were trimmed from the semiconductor business as well. Finally, 3,449 workers were offered early retirement packages. In total, this is about 7% of Toshiba global workforce of 198,741 people worldwide.

With the PC division set to be sold off eventually, the cuts there probably won’t mean much. The much bigger concern comes from the semiconductor business. Toshiba and partner SanDisk are one of the few NAND manufacturers, along with IMFT, SK Hynix and Samsung. Both companies have faced serve financial trouble and SanDisk recently sold itself to Western Digital. If WD is unable to revive SanDisk and Toshiba continues its downwards trend, we may lose a NAND producer, something no consumer wants.

iTunes Allowance to Shutdown Next Month

iTunes allowance is a service that allowed parents to place money into their child’s iTunes account on a monthly basis. No need to allow them to borrow your card or even for you to type into or access their account, preventing you from hundreds of pounds of charges to your card you never expected. Come next month though and the service will be shut down.

In an announcement, Apple has stated that after April 13th users aren’t able to create new iTunes allowance setups, with all current allowance setups being shut down as of May 25th. If you are one of the many who already has a system in place, don’t worry any unused allowance will remain in the account until it has been used, while Apple is keen to stress that similar effects can be achieved using different schemes they provide.

If you are looking to provide for your family, you can share your purchases through the family sharing feature while if you are looking to take sole control of the system then using the  iTunes gift system would be ideal. With no reasoning behind the removal of the feature, people are left wondering if the new systems will teach the same values about money and the consequences of spending an allowance.

Seagate Revises Earnings Forecast Down

 

With each year, the decline of hard drives continues on its inexorable course, bringing down the fortunes of the companies that manufacture them. In light of this, both Seagate and Western Digital have sought to diversify their portfolio to include NAND and other flash storage technologies. For Seagate though, the transition appears to have hit them heavily.The firm has cut their revenue projections for the quarter by $100 million.

In addition to the reduced revenue, the more important margins have also shrunk by 4%, though they are still respectable at 23%. Revenue has been dropping steadily over time as well, down 22% year over year. Much of the decline comes from the weakening PC market but some of it also comes from Seagate own market position. In order to boost margins, Seagate has chosen to leave the low capacity HDD market, read 500GB and below, as they aren’t cost competitive against SSDs. This is because it is nigh impossible for a HDD to drop below $40 due to part cost, making low capacity HDDs a bad bargain against SSDs of the same capacity.

The big holdout for HDDs remains high-capacity drives which offer untouchable GB/$. Still, Seagate can’t rely on those forever so the hope is that their own SSDs gain a foot hold in the market. Another consideration is when will their SandForce purchase finally pay off with new SSD controllers. I love SMI, Phison and Marvell as much as the next guy, but give me some SandForce compression magic!

Android Pay Is Coming To The UK

These days your phone can replace a lot of things, from your contact list to your camera, they do it all. With thanks to Android, you may get to tick another thing off your list with several major banks in the UK starting to accept Android Pay.

Currently, the financial institutes that support Android Pay are the following:

  • Bank of Scotland
  • First Direct
  • Halifax
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Bank
  • M&S Bank
  • MBNA
  • Nationwide

It won’t stop there with Android’s blog posting that the list will grow thanks to “new banks being added all the time”. Android pay will be accepted anywhere in the UK that supports contactless payments, meaning your weekly shopping trip or even your lunch treat could soon be provided by your mobile phone.

If that wasn’t enough the feature will also be supported in several apps, such as Kickstarter, JD Sports and Deliveroo while other the API that lets developers add the feature has been adjusted to make it easier to include the feature in any app’s that want you to pay for with your phone.

With 1.5 million registrations happening in the US each month for Android Pay, the success of the system could only grow by adding it to other countries and it looks like Apple Pay and other contactless systems may have a fight on their hands for which phone you use to pay your lunch bill.

AMD Reports Dismal 2015 Financials

AMD just can’t seem to catch a break these days. After seeing Nvidia surging ahead in GPU shipments for the past year and Intel continuing its dominance, we are now seeing it effects on AMD’s 2015 financials. Compared to 2014, 2015 was dismal, with a 28% drop in revenue from $5.5 billion to $3.99 billion this year. More importantly, gross margins fell a few percentage points leading to $419 million loss for the year.

2015 stands out in particular as AMD had managed to earn a few million in 2013 and even earn a hundred or so million in 2014, one of their past years in a while. Those successes were driven by the console royalties from Sony and Microsoft and strong GPU sales. This past year has seen console sales continue to slow as their lifecycle grows older, while AMD has released many new GPUs of their own. The GPU side had long been the major income earner and Nvidia hit that hard with their popular GTX 970 and 980 cards with the 970, in particular, being exceptionally well selling. AMD did note that they gained back some market share late in the year with their new Fury lineup.

Lack of new CPUs and GPUS led to a 42% drop in Computing and Graphics revenue, largely accounting for the year’s loss. 2016 should prove to be much better as expenses are expected to stay the same while new products like Zen and Polaris should drive up revenue. Polaris should help bring AMD back into balance with Nvidia while Zen will finally revive the ailing CPU side. With results as bad as this, it can only get better given what’s coming down the pipeline.

Micron Forecasts Surprise Loss In Current Quarter

Being one of the biggest DRAM and NAND manufacturers in the market, Micron have chugged along steadily, with the rise of smartphones and tablets helping offset the losses on the PC side. This is set to change very soon though with them forecasting a loss in the current quarter (Q4 2015), the first in a long while. The loss comes due to the naturally weak first quarter of the year, increased investments, pricing pressure and low demand.

Overall, they are expecting to lose between $50 to $120 million, or about 5-12 cents per share. This comes as revenues are expected to fall about $200 million short of analysts expectations. This comes after the company have made a number of acquisitions including Tidal Systems for their SSD controller and Inotera for their DRAM business. Micron is also investing heavily into TLC NAND, 3D XPoint and 3D NAND so it’s not as bad as it first may seem as the investments will hamper their fiscal results, but ultimately should pay off if the investments go as expected.

Coupled with the expected low PC demand, they are also facing heavy pricing pressure from competitors that has led huge price drops for both SSDs and DDR4 over the past few months. This is great news for consumers making DDR4 based systems much more affordable and open to a mini price-war involving Micron and their competitors. With increasing expenses in a time of falling revenues, it’s not surprising that Micron is facing some immediate trouble. The incoming investments though should help bump Micron back into the black soon enough and we will be monitoring this story closely as it develops in the near future.

Do you own any Micron products yourself? The company portfolio includes Crucial for consumer based memory and storage, Micron themselves for enterprise and business class products and Lexar Media who manufacturer flash memory for cameras and recording equipment.

YouTube is Now Offering Content Creators Business Loans

YouTube is a phenomenon which has revolutionized people’s viewing habits and provided a legitimate rival to broadcast Television. The service has progressed at a rapid rate and helped forge the careers of internet celebrities like PewDiePie. Initially, the website was created as a networking tool to bring communities together and share hobbies. Although, my viewpoint is a little idealistic. Google’s acquisition of YouTube contained a long-term plan to make the service profitable. Currently, this isn’t the case but it’s certainly turned into a professional organization where serious money can be made from content creators.

Youtube has decided to enter a business relationship with Lending Club to provide the funds to make a professional YouTube channel or take it to the next level. The announcement reads:

“We’ve partnered with Lending Club to provide YouTube Creators a limited finance offer you can put toward building your channel:

  • Personal & business loans
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Funds in your bank account quickly

YouTube exclusive perks:

  • Rebate for any origination fees: YouTube will pay back the origination fee, which will be rebated to you by Lending Club.

  • Qualify for a 5% loan rebate: If you increase either your channel’s average upload frequency or watch time, in the 12 months after you take out your loan, you’ll get a 5% rebate on the original total loan amount. Find out more.

This is a terrible move on Google’s part and I’m not convinced a cash injection will help YouTube channels to become successful. Additionally, the revenue streams from smaller channels are tiny, so the length of repayment could be extremely long. I feel a lot of people will just ignore this measure, and proceed without relying on loans. However, it’s concerning because people in desperate situations could take out a loan they cannot pay back. As a result, certain vulnerable individuals might end up in hardship, or being sued by the loan company.

If you want to read more information about this loan scheme, please visit here.

Do you think Google are wrong to partner with a loan company?

AMD Loses Corporate Fellow Phil Rogers to Nvidia

AMD has been making the corporate news lately and much of it has not been great to say the least. Today, AMD lost a member of their corporate team, Phil Rogers. Rogers has spent 21 years working with AMD/ATi so his departure is quite surprising. What must be more galling to AMD and their fans is that he left to join Nvidia to be their Chief Software Architect – Compute Server.

Rogers was one of the main driving forces behind AMD’s compute efforts. This was quite evident as he was in charge of System Architecture and Performance at AMD and managing the HSA initiative. He also was part of the HSA Foundation as a vice-president, an area which AMD has been pushing hard on with their APUs. With his departure to Nvidia, it looks like the green team may be looking for his compute experience in general than HSA as Nvidia doesn’t have a CPU heavy focus.

AMD has been bleeding quite a lot of staff lately with some other notable departures, among them Jim Keller. In line with the 5% cut in staff, AMD may have simply cut salaries too deep and Nvidia may have offered more. With Zen and Greenland largely complete, AMD will need to execute their upcoming products in order to survive. Only then will the firm likely have the resources to bring back the talent they have lost.

Thank you ComputerBase for providing us with this information 

Dell to Acquire EMC for $50 Billion

In what is expected to be one of the largest tech takeovers ever, Dell is set to wholly acquire enterprise giant EMC on Monday. This follows up a string of other storage-related acquisitions and purchases as well as others relating to computing as a whole. Dell itself was also taken over not too long ago by founder Michael Dell who took the company private with help from Silver Lake.

Dell managed to regain control of his namesake company back in 2013 with a $25 billion investment. At double that amount, EMC may prove a tough pill to swallow. No one knows the pains of acquiring a company valued over twice of their own than AMD, who suffered massive issues in the wake of their relatively miniscule $5.6 billion takeover of ATI. At double its value, the EMC purchase will rely heavily on bonds, something that may be risky given the current financial situation.

The move to acquire Dell does make a whole lot of sense as firm pivots away from a consumer focus and towards the more lucrative enterprise market. EMC either owns or holds a stake in a wide range of enterprise business with names like VMware, RSA Security, Iomega and Syncplicity. It will be interesting to see how these two tech giants merge and manage their huge portfolio.

Thank you re/code for providing us with this information 

AMD Announces Restructuring Plan to Cut 5% of Workforce

When the Silver Lake investment talks broke down, AMD spoke of exploring other strategic options. Today, we’re finding out that one of these options being adopted is a new restructuring plan. In an effort to cut costs and realign resources, AMD will be cutting 5% of their global workforce among other cost-saving measures. Other major savings are expected to come from outsourcing IT, consolidating real estate and reorganizing its many divisions.

With a 5% staff cut, it will bring AMD’s workforce down from about 9700 to 9200. This is coming from a firm which once boasted about 20,000 employees. Savings start off small with only $9 million saved for 2015 but it jumps to $58 million by the end of 2016. Of course, this is due to various costs associated with cutting staff, with $31 million coming from severance costs and about $10 million more from various other charges.

While $67 million saved over 2 years is quite a bit, it won’t do much when AMD is expected to post losses in the range of 100’s of millions. With the recent departure of various executives and Jim Keller and the separation of the graphics division into RTG, things are not looking up. Hopefully, the launch of the new 16nm GPU lineup in 2016 will help revitalize the firm.

Thank you StreetInsider for providing us with this information 

Chinese Firm takes up 15% Stake in Western Digital

In a move that is sure to surprise some, Unisplendour Corporation Limited (Unis), a Chinese firm, is taking up a 15% stake in Western Digital. With an investment of $3.775 billion, Unis will be the largest single shareholder, though the shares come with a 30% premium and do not give it any control over the second largest HDD manufacturer.

In exchange for their 15% stake, Unis does get to appoint a member to the board of directors for WD. Given that Unis is controlled by the Chinese government and WD does have sensitive matter it has to deal with at times, the Unis board member will not participate in those discussions. Unis will also not get access to any WD IP. Interestingly, Unis is closely tied to Tsinghua Holdings, an investment firm that has made some moves to acquire the NAND and memory manufacturer Micron.

Given the close ties Unis has with the Chinese government, the HGST-WD merger which has been held up by Chinese regulator MOFCOM should now get approval. Western Digital has been attempting to diversify their business away from pure HDDs with inroads made in hybrid disks and enterprise SSDs. With $3.775 billion extra, WD can go around acquiring all the technology and IP they need to remain relevant in the post-HDD world.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

AMD Investment Talks Break Down

Remember that rumour about AMD getting a major investment from Silver Lake? It turns out now that talks between the two parties have broken down and are going nowhere right now. According to the source, the talks broke down after disagreements on price and strategy could not be resolved. AMD is still looking at other options though in order to bring in some much-needed cash flow tide them over 2016; Silver Lake was rumoured to take over 20% of the firm.

AMD has had somewhat of a bad month so far. Rumoured reports about a Microsoft acquisition did not pan out, driving share prices back down. Some notable members have also left, with CPU wiz Jim Keller as well as other executives taking their leave. Combined with breaking off the graphics lineup into a separate division; AMD is either cutting costs heavily or undergoing a major restructuring.

Given the breakdown in talks, it looks like either Silver Lake wanted too much control in return for their cash or the current leadership was unwilling to give up any power. Despite the launch of the new Fury and Nano GPUs, AMD is set for record low revenues and the firm is in serious need of cash. Hopefully, AMD will be able to find an investor till the next generation of GPUs and CPUs kick in.

Thank you Bloomberg for providing us with this information

Private Investment Firm Silver Lake May Take 20% Stake in AMD

Big changes are happening down at AMD with the creation of the new Radeon Technologies Group announced earlier. While such a move will probably pay dividends in the future, it does nothing to solve current issues. In the short-term, AMD looks to be getting a major investor to tide them over till their 2016 products launch. What is interesting is that it’s a private investment firm known for acquiring companies and taking them private.

According to a report, Silver Lake, the same firm that helped Michael Dell take back his company, is set to take a 20% stake in AMD. At this point, it is unknown how Silver Lake will be acquiring those share, with purchases either from other investors, on the open market or from AMD. AMD itself only owns 18.9% of their shares so the new 20% stake will probably come from a variety of sources. If AMD does issue new shares or sell their own shares, that will raise some much-needed cash to boost R&D as well as other expenses.

If Silver Lake does invest in AMD, it will join the likes of Alibaba, Avago, GoDaddy, Motorola Solutions and Opera Solutions as firms which Silver Lake has invested in. With a 20% stake, Silver Lake may get a seat on the board of directors and more restructuring will probably occur as AMD struggles in the face of stiff competition.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information

Microsoft Rumored to Buyout AMD

It seems that not a day goes by without another rumour or report about someone looking to buy out AMD. According to sources, Microsoft is in talks with AMD about an acquisition which isn’t the first time we’ve heard. A little over 2 months ago, rumours were also abounding that Microsoft was in talks to acquire AMD, but nothing has come out of it yet. This time around, it is very much more of the same so don’t expect anything unless we get more concrete information.

Given Microsoft’s relatively massive expenditures already to acquire Minecraft, and Nokia, spending another few billion (AMD market capitalization is $1.6 Billion) wouldn’t be too much. With AMD under their control, Microsoft would be able to guarantee supply for their consoles and data center business as well as produce custom chips. It would also give the Xbox an edge against the next PlayStation in potentially both performance and cost. With promising 16nm products and Zen in the pipeline, a cash infusion and new organizing structure might be just what AMD needs to become competitive in the long run.

A big hurdle would likely be regulatory approval as a software giant moving into the hardware space as well might prove problematic. Locking out competitors like Sony from custom chips or tailoring Windows to run better on AMD hardware (or vice versa) might be considered anti-competitive or monopolistic. Even if Microsoft won’t use such tactics, sheer concern might prevent an acquisition from occurring. This only leaves acquiring AMD but letting it operate independently as the sole option. The biggest question is whether or not Microsoft sees acquiring AMD as a good move and given CEO Nadella’s focus on services, it remains to be seen if Microsoft wants to take on even more hardware business.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information

Former Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpelès Arrested Over Lost 650,000 Bitcoins

More than a year after troubled Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox folded, authorities have finally moved against the beleaguered firm. Japanese police have arrested former CEO Mark Karpelès for his involvement in the collapse of the exchange. Leading up to the collapse, the exchange reportedly lost 750,000 Bitcoins belonging to customers as well as 100,000 held by Mt. Gox itself.

According to the Japanese police, Karpelès faces allegations that he manipulated the balance of company accounts as well as those of customers. Claims were also made that some of the missing Bitcoins may have never existed at all and that he falsified data to inflate the company’s assets. At the time, Mt. Gox blamed the loss of the Bitcoins on a bug and later hackers as well as simply losing them. Before filing for bankruptcy, the firm announced it had “found” 200,000 of the missing coins.

At the time of its closure, Mt. Gox was the biggest and most well-known Bitcoin exchange. When the coins were lost, they were worth almost $500 million, though that has since dropped to about $184 million. Karpelès denies any wrong doing at this point and blames the loss of Bitcoins on hackers and weak cyber security.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information 

Qualcomm Cuts Staff and Mulls Break Up after Profits Drop 50%

After years of dominating the mobile SoC industry, Qualcomm has suffered a pretty bad quarter. Compared to the same time last year in 2014, the firm has earned 47% less profit which means they made about half as much as they did the year before. Interestingly, the stock market has not taken the news badly, only falling 1.46% so far though they have been trading down over the past while.

Qualcomm has had a rough start to the year so far. Last quarter, the firm took a $1 billion fine due to an antitrust lawsuit with the Chinese government. Despite, not being burdened with a fine this past quarter, profit did not noticeably improve, only posting $1.2 billion, down from $2.2 billion last year. Revenues also fell sharply, down about $1 billion which is not a good sign. In an effort to cut costs, Qualcomm is planning on cutting 15% of its staff and is even considering a split.

Much of the trouble can likely be traced to the underperforming Snapdragon 810. That chip has been suffering from performance and thermal issues, leading some OEMs to avoid it. Samsung, the largest Android OEM, has also shipped their own Exynos SoCs in their Galaxy S6 globally, removing a major customer. Much of the focus for mobile devices have also been on the budget side, where margins are thinner. With both MediaTek and Intel looking to make inroads, Qualcomm needs to get their newer chips out that will hopefully be more competitive.

Failed Bitcoin Loan Must Be Paid Ruled Judge

Bitcoin is a digital currency, this means that we can get into some problems that paper currency can’t. The other problem with digital currency is that its price is extremely volatile, being able to skyrocket one day and then plummet the next.

A man in Breathitt County, Kentucky has found this problem after being ordered by a judge to repay a loan of bitcoins that he received in December 2013 (including interest). With the initial loan of 11.95 bitcoins the cost to repay would now come in at $67,800 (£42,680 approximately), the price to repay is quite a large one. At the time of the loan, the bitcoins came in at around $10,000, with the promise of a 20% return within a year to his lender, a man from Brazil.

The initial plan was to buy Bitcoin miners unfortunately that didn’t work out. After failing to repay the loan within 90 days of the initial deadline, legal action was taken and was awarded a total of 67.74 bitcoins.

This didn’t get paid and resulted in a US lawyer based in Kentucky who then filed a lawsuit in March 2015.  While legally being ordered to repay the bitcoins, there is very little that can be done given the digital currency and laws in Kentucky that protect homeowners with deceased spouses who owe money.

While digital currency can help solve some problems paper currency has, without borders and proper legal oversight problems like this will come around more and more in the future.

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Image courtesy of CanBike.

AMD Could Spin Off Server Division

Despite the successful launch of the Rx 300 series this week and Fury later this month, AMD is still considering all options. According to three people familiar with the matter, nothing is off the table as AMD seeks to turn its finances around. Two notable options being considered are to split the firm in two or spin off the server division. Of course, these options are still in the deliberation stage and it’s unlikely that AMD would take such a dramatic move as splitting the entire company in two straight away.

Since before CEO Lisa Su took the helm, the red team has been looking for a way to return to long-term profitability. AMD has already cut down staff size and reduced R&D but is facing tough competition from Intel and Nvidia. Market share has not been doing well for the GPU segment while the CPU and server segments have been doing worse. In a bid to consider all options, AMD asked a consulting firm to come with scenarios for how each path would play out.

While spinning off divisions can help in the short term, AMD may be losing out on future growth. AMD had previously spun off its mobile GPU business and semiconductor fabs. Qualcomm took on the mobile GPU business and now is the dominant mobile SoC provider. Global Foundries was created from spinning off the fabs and now is somewhat viable on its own. If AMD spins off the server side, the new Zen architecture won’t have a crack at that lucrative market. Breaking up the CPU and GPU divisions would mean giving up on the APU project, HSA and put AMD’s CPU business at a disadvantage without integrated graphics.

There seems to be little AMD can spin off without losing out on their core business. If AMD does decide to spin off something, the server business seems most likely. I would consider a breakup of the core CPU and GPU almost impossible given the investments they made starting with ATI and continuing with the APU and HSA. Nevertheless, AMD has long been in the red and unless they are so desperate and in need of immediate cash, going back to having a server business and most likely, bringing back the ATI brand for their GPU division; spinning off their core business would be in my mind, a bad choice. With 300 series, Fury and eventually Zen kicking in, I don’t doubt AMD will still be around in one piece, but they’ve still got a rough road ahead.

Thank you Reuters for the information

Russian Apple Online Store Reopens

Bloomberg says that Apple has reopened its online store in Russia after those insane fluctuation in the country’s currency. The store now lists products at prices 35% higher.

“An iPhone 6 with 16 gigabytes of memory now costs 53,990 rubles ($956), Apple said today on its Russia website. The previous official price was 39,990 rubles,”

A certain number of economic sanctions have been placed on Russia in the past year following its decision to annex Crimea. This has of course led to a number of issues with the Russian economy, such as the recent and “extreme” fluctuations in the country’s currency. As a result, Apple effectively closed its online store in the country on December 16th.

The company took the decision following what it described in a statement to Bloomberg as “extremely sharp” fluctuations in the currency.

Source: Bloomberg

Russian Apple Online Store Closed Over Ruble Fluctuations

A certain number of economic sanctions have been placed on Russia in the past year following its decision to annex Crimea. This has of course led to a number of issues with the Russian economy, such as the recent and “extreme” fluctuations in the country’s currency. As a result, Apple has effectively closed its online store in the country. The company took the decision yesterday following what it described in a statement to Bloomberg as “extremely sharp” fluctuations in the currency.

“Our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing,” Alan Hely, a spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company, said today in an e-mailed statement. “We apologize to customers for any inconvenience.”

Just before the site was shuttered, Russians could buy and iPhone 6 for 39990 rubles, equivalent to $558. This shows just how extreme the fluctuations have been, with the same device available for $876 in the United States. At time of writing, Apple has not yet re-opened its store, with no indication of when products will again be available for sale.

Source: MacRumors

Facebook at Work to Launch in January

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook’s ‘Facebook at Work’ product will be launching in January.

The report suggests that the product may be available for free without ads at first, in an attempt to expand its user base. The product was revealed last week in a report by the Financial Times, with Facebook aiming to target businesses and workplaces, helping them to collaborate over work projects using real-time chat and Facebook groups.

The rumour that Facebook is to launch a collaborative social media product aimed at businesses comes a time when many other companies, like Microsoft, are also expanding its efforts in workplace collaboration. Just this weekend, we reported on Microsoft’s announcement that chat will be incorporated into Microsoft Office.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Sony Anticipates $2.1B Loss on Smartphone Division

More bad news for Sony – the company has just revised its forecasts for the financial year and things aren’t looking good in its mobile sector. Sony is expecting a loss of $2.1B US – terrible news for the Japanese manufacturer. The company has been haemorrhaging money across the board for a number of years now, and whilst their photography and electronic entertainment divisions have successfully seen a big turnaround in recent years – it’s obvious that there’s still a lot more work to be done.

In early 2014 – the smartphone division was looking positive and upbeat and was expecting to “achieve significant sales growth” – however it’s clear that things haven’t worked out. Sony’s now looking to “revise to reduce risk and volatility”, or in layman terms – simply playing it safer in the mobile space. A smart choice it might turn out to be, as the company looks to turn its focus to concentrating on flagship devices, as well as reducing the number of mid-low end devices. It’s worth noting that it’s recent Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact devices have been well received thus far by critics – so with a bit of luck Sony might successfully turn the ship around. For more on Sony’s revised financial forecasts, visit the official release.

Thanks to Sony for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of LazyGamer.net.

Crisis at Crytek Could Be Over

Over the past weeks we have heard rumours about Cryteks staff not being paid for months as well as employees quitting their job due to that and being swiped up by other companies. Even though the company dismissed the claims as rumours at first, it hasn’t stopped new ones from popping up.

In a new statement to gameindustry.biz on Friday, Crytek has given us the first official statement on the situation since the original denial of the problem. Crytek has been enduring a transitional phase as they are calling it, transforming from a developer to an Online-Publisher. The company also stated that it has secured new capital that should ensure both short and long-term foundation and added “We won’t be communicating further details about our developments and progress.”

In recent weeks, there have been repeated reports and rumors relating to financial problems at Crytek. Having already given an update to staff across all our studios, we are now in a position to share more details with members of the press and public.

Internally, we have acknowledged that the flow of information to employees has not been as good as it should have, however we hope you understand that communicating details of our plans publicly has not always been possible.

Like the games industry as a whole, Crytek has been in a transitional phase. Our evolution from a development studio to an Online-Publisher has required us to refocus our strategies. These challenges go along with an increased demand for capital which we have secured.

We can now concentrate on the long term strategic direction of Crytek and our core competencies. We kindly ask for your understanding, that we won’t be communicating further details about our developments and progress.

Ultimately, with our organization, capitalization, portfolio and technologies we have now laid the foundations for securing Crytek’s future – not just in the short term, but also long term.

Through this period of speculation, we are thankful for the support and encouragement we’ve received from our community and our partners, and for the contribution all of our staff have made. We remain committed to doing what we are best known for and trying to develop the best interactive experiences and technology possible for everyone who loves gaming.

We are confident that we will be able to share more positive news on Crytek’s progress soon.

These are a lot of vague words not really saying much, but they do tell us the future of Crytek and their popular CryEngine might have been secured for another round.

Thank you Gamesindustry for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Crytek.

Michigan Bar Teaches Stock Exchange Principles – Through The Love of Beer

Beer is a globally recognised staple and the price of beer is something that we can all relate to but let’s be honest – we all complain when the price of our chosen brew goes up and cheer when it goes down, but when we see the stock exchange figures scrolling across the bottom of the TV and news channels, generally speaking we have not got a clue what it all means. This is where Kalamazoo, a Michigan beer exchange comes into play with their ever-changing beer prices, all because of the fundamental principles of economics – supply and demand.

Positioned around the bar are a number of monitors giving the drinkers the latest price for their chosen brew and this is where the economics part of it all comes in to play.

The principle behind supply and demand is that as more of one product is consumed, the price will start to rise – this is the demand. The higher price will allow the [hypothetical] supplier to invest more to increase their supply to meet the demand. We can see this from the ‘Arcadia War Craft’ where the price has been driven up to $5.50.

On the other hand, some of the other beers are not consumed as much as others creating a backlog of supply. Bringing the price down step by step will entice people to start consuming that particular product in order to clear the supply backlog.

The same principles as seen in the beer exchange are mirrored in the real world stock exchange and at random intervals the beer market may crash, causing the prices to instantly drop thus giving a great deal on many drinks.

Personally I think that this type of bar is awesome and The Exchange, the people behind the construction of the bar and a few others across the land, should sure has hell get their feet over to the UK so that we can have just as much fun [and subliminal education] as those in the States. If you don’t understand supply and demand now then there is a strong chance you will after drinking there – even if you are slightly inebriated afterwards.

Source: The LAD Bible