Valve Found Guilty of Breaking Australian Consumer Law

Valve is known for creating the popular digital sales platform Steam, which does everything hardware to regular sales on video games. One thing they’ve been keen to improve on for a while has been their refund policy, something which saw the original policy replaced with one that could offer full refunds to people who purchased a game on the platform. The problem is that the original policy wasn’t in place when the court case against Valve was raised, a case which has now ended with Valve being found guilty of breaking Consumer Law in Australia.

In the court case, that was started back in 2014 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Valve was taken to court because it lacked a refund policy, something that is required by Australian consumer law. In their defence they stated that it doesn’t “officially” conduct business, instead offering a portal to video games through clients.

Overlooking the case, Justice Edelman stated that Valve was doing business in Australia and must, therefore, follow Australian law. This is the first time that the term “goods” has been applied to computer software in Australia, something that is bound to have far-reaching impacts in Australia in regards to their legal statement.

With a hearing set for the 15th April to see how much Valve will have to pay in “relief”, including the likely outcome that they will pay the ACCC’s legal fees, it would seem that initial attempts to resolve this matter and follow the law will still cost the company.

WhatsApp to End Support For Older Operating Systems

WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging client which allows users to exchange text messages, images, video content, location details and audio files. As of February 2016, WhatsApp has a user base of up to one billion which makes it the most popular messaging application in the world! Back in February 2014, Facebook acquired the company for an estimated $19.3 billion and clearly sees the application growing at an impressive rate. Recently, Facebook made an announcement regarding its new focus on the latest mobile operating systems to provide a better user experience. The statement reads:

“When we started WhatsApp in 2009, people’s use of mobile devices looked very different from today,”. 

“The Apple App Store was only a few months old. About 70 percent of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia. Mobile operating systems offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft – which account for 99.5 percent of sales today – were on less than 25 percent of mobile devices sold at the time. As we look ahead to our next seven years, we want to focus our efforts on the mobile platforms the vast majority of people use.

“While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future,”

“This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp.”

By the end of 2016, WhatsApp will no longer be supported on:

  • Blackberry, including Blackberry 10
  • Nokia S40
  • Nokia Symbian S60
  • Android 2.1 and Android 2.2
  • Windows Phone 7

This makes sense because Blackberry’s current smart phone position is very weak, and they are trying to encourage handset sales via the Android operating system. On another note, when WhatsApp was first introduced, around 70 percent of smartphones utilized operating systems by Blackberry and Nokia. In today’s market, iOS and Android account for 99.5 percent of sales. This demonstrates the dramatic shift, and struggles faced by anyone trying to gain a foothold in the smart phone sector.

BlackBerry Lays Off 200 Employees in Restructuring Programme

BlackBerry’s position in the global smartphone market has been extremely fragile due to the rise of iOS and Android devices. Additionally, the BlackBerry 10 operating system was a commercial failure and struggled to entice app developers to the platform. Personally, I quite like Blackberry 10 but it’s difficult to make users migrate if their favourite apps are missing. This is a similar problem faced on Windows mobile handsets. Thankfully, Blackberry’s management finally realized the operating system was limiting the appeal of their devices, and decided to create a brand new model using Android. The Blackberry Priv has a sliding keyboard, gorgeous touch screen, and premium feel backing. It’s quite uncommon for modern handsets to include a keyboard, which makes it a great choice for business users writing long e-mails.

Whether or not the move to Android will reinvigorate Blackberry’s mobile sales is unknown. I don’t think the Priv name did them any favours because it doesn’t evoke any kind of enthusiasm for the product. This is a shame because the Priv is a fantastic device and well worth checking out! Sadly, BlackBerry’s turbulent financial situation means they have to make some pretty tough decisions. Recently, the company laid off around 200 employees in Canada and Florida. The official statement reads:

“As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce,”  

“As a result, approximately 200 employees have been impacted in Canada and Florida.”

BlackBerry also laid off 75 manufacturing workers at its Sunrise, Florida office between February 4th and February 26th according to a notice filed with the State of Florida. In theory, BlackBerry is working on two new handsets sporting the Android operating system. Although, it’s unclear if a BlackBerry 10 powered device will ever be released again. At the current time, BlackBerry could exit the smart phone sector unless efficiencies are made or there’s an upturn in profit margins.

Image courtesy of CrackBerry.com

UK Market Gaming Stats Revealed For 2015

The games industry is the same as any other market when it comes to analysing the performance of titles, consoles and revenue with the aim of finding trends in consumer preferences and company performance. GfK Entertainment has made a wide range of information available concerning the shape of the UK gaming scene in 2015 via trade paper MCV, the results are quite interesting and I have conveyed a snapshot below,

First up is the total revenue for 2015, as you can see below it shows there has been a slight decrease in all categories except that of gaming accessories, which have seen a rise in overall revenue.

  • 2015 total revenue – £2,112,750,781   (2014: £2.3bn)
  • Entertainment Software – £927,663,843 (2014: £948 Million)
  • Console Hardware – £689,473,076 (2014: £915 Million)
  • Gaming Accessories – £495,613,862 (2014: £431 Million)

Next up is the software market percentage share by console (units) stats, these convey a picture of the PS4 dominating the UK scene with a market share of 36.3%, Microsoft’s Xbox One is second while the ageing last gen Xbox 360 is third, not surprisingly, the PlayStation Vita does not fare as well.

  1. PlayStation 4 – 36.3%
  2. Microsoft Xbox One – 29.7%
  3. Microsoft Xbox 360 – 12.5%
  4. PlayStation 3 – 7.1%
  5. Nintendo 3DS – 4.8%
  6. PC – 3.6%
  7. Nintendo Wii U – 3.5%
  8. Nintendo Wii – 1.0%
  9. Nintendo DS – 0.7%
  10. PlayStation Vita – 0.7%
  11. Others – 0.1%

Next is the software market share by console (Revenue). As you can see, the PlayStation 4 is again the winner with a substantial slice of 41.6%, second is again not surprisingly the Xbox One followed by the Xbox 360 in third.

  1. PlayStation 4 – 41.6%
  2. Microsoft Xbox One – 34.1%
  3. Microsoft Xbox 360 – 9.0%
  4. PlayStation 3 – 4.9%
  5. Nintendo 3DS – 3.7%
  6. Nintendo Wii U – 3.2%
  7. PC – 2.3%
  8. Nintendo Wii – 0.5%
  9. PlayStation Vita – 0.4%
  10. Nintendo DS – 0.2%
  11. Others – 0.1%

Next up is the software market share by publisher (revenue) top 10, as you can see Electronic Arts (EA) is not far off having twice the market share from second place; Activision Blizzard.

  1. Electronic Arts – 23.3%
  2. Activision Blizzard – 14.0%
  3. Warner Bros – 9.9%
  4. Take – Two 7.4%
  5. Bethesda – 7.1%
  6. Ubisoft – 6.7%
  7. Nintendo – 5.7%
  8. Microsoft – 5.2%
  9. Sony Computer Entertainment – 4.9%
  10. Bandai Namco Entertainment – 3.5%

Next up is a combined look at the top-selling games for all formats within 2015, this shows that FIFA 16 is the number one selling title on the PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360. This is what you would expect when you consider the release date of this title compared to that of say Fallout 4. It makes me chuckle to think that the highest selling game in terms of units for the PC is The Sims 4 followed by Football Manager 2016 and 2015.

Last up is the top 20 physical games of 2015 for all formats, the list is 50, but, I did not want to go on forever.

  1.  FIFA 16 (EA)
    2.  Call Of Duty: Black Ops III (Activision Blizzard)
    3.  Fallout 4 (Bethesda)
    4.  Star Wars: Battlefront (EA)
    5.  Grand Theft Auto V (Take-Two)
    6.  Batman: Arkham Knight (Warner Bros.)
    7.  FIFA 15 (EA)
    8.  Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Activision Blizzard)
    9.  Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (Ubisoft)
    10. Lego Jurassic World (Warner Bros.)
    11. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Bandai Namco)
    12. Battlefield Hardline (EA)
    13. Minecraft: Xbox 360 and Xbox One Edition (Microsoft)
    14. Minecraft: Story Mode (Telltale Games)
    15. Halo 5: Guardians (Microsoft)
    16. Minecraft: PlayStation 3, 4, and Vita Edition (Sony)
    17. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Konami)
    18. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (Sony)
    19. Dying Light (Warner Bros.)
    20. The Elder Scrolls Online (Bethesda)

2015 Saw Biggest Ever Decline in PC Sales

PC sales in 2015 were the lowest since 2008 – shipping below 300 million units – and the on-year decline of 10.6% is the largest decline ever experienced, beating a previous drop of 9.8% in 2013, IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker announced in a press release on DigiTimes.

“The PC market continued to face persistent challenges from longer-PC lifecycles and competition from mobile phones and tablets, despite the slowing growth in those markets,” IDC reports. “However, economic issues like falling commodity prices and weak international currencies, as well as social disruptions in EMEA and Asia Pacific that disrupted foreign markets were a larger factor for 2015.”

The industry is confident that, despite a steady decline over the last few years, the PC market is set to level out in the coming years.

“The PC market remains competitive and the economic environment weakened further with the recent drop in the China stock market,” Loren Loverde, Vice President of IDC, said. “However, PC replacements should pick up again in 2016, particularly later in the year. Commercial adoption of Windows 10 is expected to accelerate, and consumer buying should also stabilize by the second half of the year. Most PC users have delayed an upgrade, but can only maintain this for so long before facing security and performance issues. We continue to believe that a majority of these users will purchase another PC, motivated by new products and attractive pricing.”

“Changes in the OS market also had a significant impact with the end of support for Windows XP and promotions of low-cost PCs driving a surge in replacements in 2014 that combined with the launch of Windows 10 and a free upgrade program to delay new system purchases in 2015,” the IDC press release continues.

“Lastly, while some very attractive new PCs have been launched, the market is taking some time to respond to new OS and hardware configurations – deciding when to upgrade and evaluating slim, convertible, detachable, and touch variations versus more traditional PCs. Nevertheless, many of these products have received positive reviews and there’s potential for a faster commercial transition to Windows 10 in 2016 than we saw for prior versions of Windows.”

The market saw substantial growth with detachable tablets, which are counted as separate to PCs, with sales up 3% in 2015.

Image courtesy of PC Advisor.

Apple’s Stock Drops by Over $160 Billion

The smartphone market is expected to stagnate as sales grow at a slower pace in major western territories. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule such as India where the introduction of affordable handsets increases the ownership rate by a significant margin. However, it can be argued that smartphone users are less likely to upgrade considering the capabilities of their current handsets. According to data acquired by USA Today, Apple’s stock value dropped by over $160 billion and showcases the challenges in the smartphone market. Here we can see the effects of this downturn and some critics have argued this trend will continue in the near future:

Apple could become a victim of its own success, as it’s extraordinarily difficult to keep increasing sales figures while being at the top. It’s plausible for a downturn to occur as consumers become content with the current offerings or simply look for alternatives. In an era where there’s powerful yet affordable smartphones out there, it’s possible that the iPhone’s price might alienate a section of the market. On the other hand, Apple’s recent iPhone launch set new sales records and did remarkably well. Currently, the smartphone decline appears to be a result of the Chinese market not posting the kind of sales figures many companies hoped for.

Amazon Accounts For 39.3 Percent of E-commerce Spending in The USA During November

Online retail giant, Amazon is a popular choice for consumers wanting to purchase goods at reasonable prices while relying on a proven track record in customer service. When compared to other stores, Amazon’s buying power is difficult to match and provides a huge array of items from electrical products to digital novels. According to research firm, Slice Intelligence, Amazon made up 39.3 percent of sales between November 1st and December 6th in the US market. This marks a significant increase from the 37.9 percent share last year during the same period.  Ken Cassar, Vice President of analytics solutions at Slice provided an explanation for this success and said:

“Jeff Bezos was beaten up for a long time about the infrastructure investments he made and the drain on profitability it caused,”

“He is seeing the payoff on those investments.”

The chart shows Amazon’s astounding sales figures in the US market, and showcases how far behind many of the competing stores are. Amazon’s investment into infrastructure and their recognizable brand helps to encourage shoppers to spend money while remaining a loyal customers. Obviously, this is during the Thanksgiving and Christmas period so the data might favour Amazon at this time compared to other months. Whatever the case, this is an extraordinary achievement and emphasizes how important Amazon is as an etailer in the USA.

Mobile Gaming Revenue Will Exceed $25 Billion by The End of 2015

The rise of mobile gaming has been pretty dramatic in the last few years and attracted a casual audience to the industry. As a result, free-to-play mobile games like Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds have become a huge commercial success. This stems from the business model which entices micro-payments through regular gameplay. According to the research firm, EEDAR, the mobile gaming market is on track to reach a total revenue in excess of $25 billion by the end of this year.

Here we can see financial success and market size by geographical region. Mobile gaming is already massive in China, and Japan. There’s been a revolution in the Japanese gaming sector as the general population spends a huge amount of time playing mobile puzzle games. On another note, the USA just reaches the top revenue figure and this illustrates how mainstream mobile gaming is worldwide.

Other statistics provide information about the type of devices used. As expected, Android is way ahead in the Chinese market, where ultra-cheap handsets are required. Although, iOS continues to make up a substantial part of the gaming market in Japan. If you want to read the report in full, please visit this link to download the research. Please note, accessing the report requires you to set up a free account.

iPhone 6s Clone Costs a Mere $37 And Works Surprisingly Well!

The launch of Apple’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus resulted in record operating sales figures despite implementing only a few iterative changes from the previous generation. However, Apple products incur a hefty price premium in countries with fairly decent wages, which makes people in poorer nations unable to purchase expensive handsets. As always, there’s a huge array of clones on the market to suit customers on a budget which fairly reflects their wage. Although, many of these have suffered from an atrocious battery life, poor user-interface and suspect call quality.

Only a few years ago, I decided to test a Sciphone which resembled an iPhone 3GS. Thankfully, it only cost £25 because its performance was nothing short of unbearable. In the last few years, copies have improved at an exponential rate due to the affordability of budget hardware and the Android operating system.

One particular example which caught my attention is based on the iPhone 6s and comes in a variety of luxurious colours. In terms of its specification, the handset features a Spreadtrum SC7731 Quad-core ARM Cortex-A7, 512MB RAM, 4GB ROM, expandable flash storage, and 5-inch QHD display. Unlike many smartphones these days, you can remove the back cover and swap out the internal battery. While it’s not the most impressive specification, it seems to run the operating system smoothly and costs an astonishingly low, $37. As the video rightly proclaims:

“Who wants to buy a $1000 iPhone in China? Nobody! People just buy copies.”

Furthermore, once you’ve purchased the handset, it’s incredibly easy to have the Apple credentials engraved. I’m not advocating this, but Apple really needs to rethink its pricing model in poorer countries. In the wider scheme of things, I have to commend the ultra cheap handsets which provide a usable phone for the less fortunate.

“2G Tuesdays” Arrives For Facebook Employees.

Facebook is launching a new initiative by the name of 2G Tuesdays, sounds like a tech version of TFI Friday, which will give all employees a taste of a super slow connection to better emphasize the current speeds in countries including the developing market place of India. While this implementation is certainly essential to a better understanding of the parameters for designing and testing the Facebook App in areas that offer atrocious speeds, I can see a text-book example of slow connection rage.

Surely the speeds cannot be that slow, well engineering director Tom Alison remembers the first time he opened Facebook on a phone with a 2G connection, he exclaimed that “It definitely tested my patience — it felt like parts of the product were just broken”. While US citizens are accustomed to a faster 3G or even 4G, millions of people are accessing the World Wide Web with 2G where a single webpage can take around 2 minutes to load, or as western audiences would say $@%$@.

This is why Facebook’s team of “emerging market engineers”, yes, apparently they have a division dedicated to this, have spent an extensive amount of time re working Facebook’s News Feed for slow connections.

So, how will 2G Tuesday work? Well, when a Facebook employee logs into the app on a Tuesday of every week, “they’ll see a prompt at the top of their News Feed asking whether they want to try out the slower connection for an hour”. For that hour their computer experience will be akin to a person residing in India or any other slow connected country.

A better understanding of varying speeds throughout the world has led to some fascinating projects including an Open-Sourced Network Connection Class System, (sounds like a citizen reviewed social class status), that lets Facebook and its app figure out how fast your connection is with the aim of then conveying a different news feed depending on the speed.

Facebook reckons a large proportion of employees will opt into this experiment, what mood they will be in by the end is another matter. On a side note, while many tech employees enjoy the freedom to develop with a comparable connection for their area, they may fall into the mindset that the whole world is the same, by slowing them down it speeds up a unique process with the aim of benefiting consumers who suffer from appalling speeds to the web.

PC Gaming and Hardware Market Predicted to Reach $30 Billion by 2018

PC gaming has been growing at an exponential rate and the eSports scene continues to attract huge viewing figures. In 2015, the PC gaming and hardware market is estimated to be worth a staggering $24 billion. Additionally, the PC peripherals sector is expected to gross $3.6 billion this year. Even more astonishing, a research report by JPR predicts the PC gaming and hardware market will reach $30 billion by the end of 2018.  President of JPR, Jon Peddie discussed the research and hardware required to meet the latest display demands:

“In addition to the cost of the new display technology (27 inch and larger 4K/UHD displays are reaching mass market pricing levels), gamers are going to need the computing muscle to drive Triple A game engines at over 60 frames per second, and that horsepower comes at a premium. Sixty frames per second is considered the gold standard in PC gaming and many prefer even faster speeds, at least twice that number if VR is involved. ”

By 2018, 4K monitors should relatively affordable to the average user, and games will be more accessible due to improved graphics technology. Currently, 4K requires a 980 Ti as a bare minimum to achieve 60 frames-per-second at high details. Problems can arise on many demanding games if you opt for 4K with a single card. Although, with Pascal around the corner, there’s no reason why 4K gaming won’t become a viable option by 2018. As a result, this should bring more consumers to the platform especially if the consoles are struggling.

IBM Sinking at a Staggering Rate as Customers Transition to the Cloud

IBM are losing shares rapidly as customers transition to cloud computing, it seems the only escape may be a process called “Mergers and Acquisitions”  FBR Capital Markets Daniel Ives said the following:

“It really comes down to M&A. If they went big on big data, cyber security, cloud that’s the only — in our opinion — solution to put fuel in the tank for growth. It’s not going to happen organically,” FBR’s senior analyst told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

IBM shares fell more than 5 percent since after-hours trading on Monday and continues to decline! IBM has now had to lower its full-year profit forecast and it seems IBM is going to need to re-think its business plan in a dramatic restructure to be in with a chance of salvaging some value back. IBM is having to shift from making hardware to cloud computing with their main aim is to be established in internet-based software and services sales to compete with companies such as Salesforce.com and Amazon.com’s web software units.

According to Daniel Ives, IBM should consider picking up big data firms like Splunk and Tableau, cybersecurity outfits like Fortinet and CyberArk, and enterprise software companies like Workday and NetSuite. Daniel Ives followed with:

“Big cap tech is in a horse and buggy in the right lane and all these companies are passing them in the Maseratis and Ferraris in the left lane,”

He then made the example regarding Dell’s announced takeover last week of EMC, saying EMC CEO Joseph M. Tucci would not have had to sell had he made acquisitions sooner. Daniel continued on and said the legacy tech companies have become accustomed to blaming their results on currency headwinds, but in the end, earnings come down to core execution and mature products offerings.

IBM’s shares have been declining quite rapidly since April 2013 but nothing in comparison to this scale, despite what IBM is doing to counteract this it clearly has had little effect. Whatever has gone wrong at IBM has gone drastically wrong and IBM needs to be sharp on their toes with a solution before it’s too late.

This is pretty drastic news for the 104-year-old tech giant, one of the first computers I ever used was made by IBM. what are your thoughts on the subject? let us know in the comments below.

PC Sales Continue to Decline Despite Windows 10 Launch

The uptake of Windows 10 has been extraordinary thanks to the free-upgrade promotion and already been installed on more than 110 million devices. This was achieved within a 2-month period and exceeded Microsoft’s most-optimistic expectations. However, this resounding success story doesn’t indicate a sudden upturn in PC sales figures. According to data from Gartner, PC sales declined 7.7 percent during the third quarter.

This isn’t a shocking revelation as PCs are more than powerful enough for the average end-user to last a considerable amount of time. Additionally, the Windows 10 figures relate to existing computers being upgraded. Unlike other operating system launches, consumers don’t feel the need to purchase a new system just to access Microsoft’s latest software. Whatever the case, it seems the declining PC trend will continue for some time as vendors try to make other sectors more profitable.

On another note, Windows 10 is being used on more than traditional PCs. The operating system is being embedded into mobile devices and even the Xbox One. It’s interesting to see the impact of tablets and discussion regarding their usefulness. Can they replace PCs, or only act a supplementary device?

Do you think the future of traditional PCs is very bleak?

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information. 

Amazon Scraps In Flames Fire Phone

Amazon attempted to enter a marketplace which is saturated by established Smartphone makers which include juggernauts Apple and Samsung. The Fire phone was launched onto the market with its fair share of pomp and circumstance around 15 months ago, its hope was to piggyback onto the name of Amazon with the aim of enticing consumers with an alternative. Turns out this idea has ended in flames as Amazon has announced that it “has no plans” to replenish a product which is currently “Out Of Stock”

This follows a recent report which stated that there have been lay-offs at the US companies Silicon Valley research-and-development lab after the phone failed to resonate with consumers. So where did it all go wrong? Part of the reason was a lack of features which really failed to capture the imagination of consumers. The primary selling point of the Fire phone was the “Dynamic Perspective” camera which was able to track the movements of the user with the aim of offering an illusion of 3D. The problem lies with the trend of consumers which have been disinterested with this type of tech. This has been seen for example with broadcaster Sky and their failed 3D channel experiment and also lacklustre sales of television sets which offer the 3D experience.

In October 2014, the company revealed it had suffered a $170m (£110.5m) write-down which was attributed to below expectation sales for the gadget. Unless you wow consumers with an amazing product which offers a completely new experience to consumers, this product was always destined to self destruct. As a spectator it will be interesting to note the direction which Amazon decides to go after such a failure, I do envisage Amazon will think twice before attempting to challenge a market which has seen substantial growth from innovative companies which offers tech that is cutting edge.

Thank you bbc for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of macobserver

5 Shocking Facts About the Growth of Online Gaming

While it is common knowledge that online gaming represents a growing market, the nature of this growth is hard to summarise. After all, the remote gaming sector is a large and diverse marketplace, and one that includes multiple platforms such as smartphones, laptops and desktop computers. The pace at which the market continues to evolve also makes it difficult to identify specific patterns and trends, while this also drives considerable change on an annual basis.

With this in mind, here are five online and remote gaming statistics that will change the way in which your perceive the marketplace.

The size of the global, online gaming market has trebled since 2005

Perhaps the most shocking statistic of all, the projected size of the online gaming market will reach $41.4 billion by the end of 2015. While this is impressive enough by itself, it is even more staggering when you consider that the cumulative value in this sector was just $13.8 billion back in 2005. This represents a three-fold increase in just ten years, and if the trend was to continue the value of the remote gaming sector will exceed $82 billion in 2025.

Global online software sales reached $24 billion in 2012

Online sales are also on the rise, with global virtual games software sales having risen from $9 billion in 2008 to $24 billion just four years later. Once again, this equates to just short of a three-fold increase within four years, while further forecasts suggest that the total sales in this sector will exceed $40 billion by the end of 2017. Freemium mobile and social games are expected to drive this trend, where online casinos platforms offering a range of games including Pokies in Australia, are growing in popularity on an annual basis.

52% of all Gamers are female

While this will probably come as a surprise to some, it probably shouldn’t. After all, the corresponding number of female gamers in 2012 was 49%, so the fact that women now account for 52% of market seems more of a natural progression than a staggering statistic. Given our penchant for stereotypes and the fact that we imagine the typical gamer you be a young, adult male, however, the rise of the female gamers is worthy of inclusion on this list.

58% of Social Gamers are over 40 years Old

The emergence of female gamers underlines the level of diversity that now exists within the market, both in terms of available games and platform. This has triggered widespread change, with the result that an impressive 58% of all social gamers are now aged 40 or older. Players of social games such as Candy Crush which you can download for free are also wealthier and more likely to be college educated, creating the potential for in-depth and educational titles to prosper.

The Online Gambling Sector is worth more than £2 billion in the UK

Mobile casinos and remote gambling are key drivers of the online gaming market, with the UK market particularly strong. The fact that this sector was worth a staggering £2 billion in 2012 is startling, however, especially when you consider that this market has growth further in the three years since. Online betting is the most prolific generator of revenues, with sports such as football and boxing particularly popular.

Aqua Blue PS Vita Launching In The US This November

The PS Vita has been somewhat disappointing over its life and so have recent handheld consoles in general, the emergence of mobile phone and tablets have transferred the consumer base onto a more multi-tasking devices. In the US at least, the PS Vita will be launching with a new colour scheme which might entice fans of the handheld to buy into the experience, or more likely it’s just a money shaming gimmick.

The colour in question will be Aqua Blue which will stand out considering US buyers have been limited to either Black or White options up until now. The basic device will be the same, there won’t be any hardware improvements and under the shiny colour will still be the second generation Vita which is currently out on the market. The Recommended Retail Price will be $199.99, so $200 dollars then.

Below is two further screenshots of the handheld, as you can see, it’s quite striking but other than that, it’s the same. Sony have informed fans that it’s better to pre-order the console as of now, as it “won’t be around for long” It will be interesting to note how this device fares within the market considering game developer support is slowly losing interest in the PS Vita, it remains to be seen how sales will fare.

Europe Might Take the Lead in Adopting Electric Vehicles

It’s really surprising to hear something like this, but the fact is that Europeans are more interested in electric vehicles. I know the EV hype has been going on in the US for quite some time, but according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, Europe has seen a 78% rise year over year in Q1 2015. So if you were eyeing these futuristic vehicles, it’s time to get informed because you never know when they might rule the EU roads!

Of course, the majority of people interested in acquiring EVs are found in countries such as France, Germany, UK, but the interesting thing is that developing countries are interested in them as well. It might not be a big number of them, but selling a dozen or more EVs instead of a couple of them is still big progress for a developing country. The report states that there are already a little over 53,000 EVs sold in the EU, with more to come in the near future.

The huge gap between the US and Europe EV sales seems to come from two problems. Fuel prices are about the same amount you get for a full EV recharge in Europe and the distance that a regular individual travels is in the range of what an EV can offer. These two factors are really a game-chager for EV adoption. I myself live in the EU and to be honest, I would definitely choose an EV over a fuel-powered vehicle anytime, should I be given the option to choose between the two.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Komu

Facebook Plans to Send Breaking News Alerts with New App

Facebook has taken an interest in the news business for some time and has pushed to take a piece of the market share since then. We’ve seen it deliver the latest breaking news on the social media platform and from what I’ve seen, the news pushed by the social media giant is really spot-on hot. But now, Facebook wants to send the hottest news straight to your phone.

They are said to be working on a new breaking news standalone app, which is still in its early stages. Once the app is released, Facebook says it will ask you to choose what news sources you like, what topics and get all the hottest news from them through push notifications. All news will link back to the original website on which it was published, but getting a 100 character push notification of your favourite news as it gets published really sounds something of a ‘must-have’ to me.

It is said that the app will have a select number of news websites, which is to be expected, but more may be added after it gets released. Since Facebook wanted to take a bite out of the news market, this new app could really bring them a small fortune. Also, having the ability to select and make deals with news websites will surely increase the social media giant’s capital in the long run, while also making a name for itself in the news market.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information

Games Prices In Europe Set To Be Unified

Europe is looking towards a more technological environment, where companies and countries can operate knowing that there is a standard across the board for everything that may impact that their work. This could soon be the same for games as well thanks to the European Commission.

The Digital Single Market outlines a proposal for a fairer system when it comes to game pricing in the EU. Game prices fluctuate depending on where you buy them from, with companies like GoG trying to level this through their credit system.

Please note that this only applies to digital copies of games, but would be across the board. This means that be it from Xbox Live, PSN, Steam or another digital distributor, you would be asked to pay the same price throughout all EU territories.

The digital single market was first introduced in May 2015 and looks to bring about uniform pricing in 2016. This is alongside a broadband standard that would see 30MBPS internet standard for all citizens, with 50% of European households having 100MBPS internet by 2020.

With all these measures to help not only gamers but everyone in the European union, we could shortly see better internet connections and fairer prices for digital content. How can that be a bad thing?

Thank you European Commission for the information.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Google Glass Might Face Heavy Competition in the Enterprise Market

We haven’t heard much about Google’s Glass Project in a while, but not because it is dying, but more that it is now focusing on the enterprise side of things. Everyone went nuts when Google cancelled the Explorer program earlier this year, thinking that it was the end of Google Glass as well. Fortunately, it wasn’t, but we mere ‘mortals’ won’t be seeing it on the market anytime soon.

Re/Code got word that Google the second edition of Google Glass has been distributed to the Glass at Work enterprise partners. The team is now thinking about how to further improve the wearable and get it at a reasonable price on the market. Rumours are that the next edition of Glass will be well below $1.500, which is not surprising.

Since Google Glass first debuted, the wearable market has been constantly filling with a lot of competition. Google’s main competitors on the market now are ODG, Epson and Vuzix. Even so, Google Glass is still far from perfect. I mean you have Microsoft’s HoloLens for example, which not only displays everything you want right in front of you, but also lets you interact with augmented reality in unimaginable ways.

Looking at the Glass, it has a lot to catch up on. However, this is why Google chose to stick with the enterprise market and is constantly improving it for enterprise AR applications. Google stated that it is “going to take time to get it right”, but will they be able to pull it off in the end? What do you think?

Thank you Re/Code 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.

Hearthstone Mobile Revenue Thrives as PC Version Profits Slump

Blizzard’s thoroughly addicting card caper has been an extraordinary success story and translated superbly onto mobile platforms. Figures released by SuperData Arcade illustrate a massive shift in the financial benefits from PC to mobile. The graph below charts Hearthstone’s revenue stream from 2013-2015 and clearly shows how sharply the PC profits have declined.

During early 2015, the PC edition posted a digital revenue of approximately $17 million, but this has plummeted to around $7 million in only a few months. In contrast, the mobile profits catapulted from an estimated $2 million during early 2015 to over $10 million before mid-2015. This doesn’t necessarily mean the PC player base is dwindling though. Arguably, mobile customers are more inclined to make micropayments because the free-to-play business model is widespread on that platform. PC gamers are accustomed to full price releases and find it hard to justify a constant revenue stream. On another note, tablets and mobile devices cater more to the casual market and provide a gaming experience without the need for expensive hardware. The portability of these devices also means it’s easier to pay for content whilst being distracted by other leisure activities.

There’s no simple reason explaining why the mobile market is so lucrative. Many traditional gamers are opposed to the mobile platform but it seems publishers are relishing the financial benefits from a business model relying on microtransactions.

Thank you MCV for providing us with this information.

Take a Look at a Leaked Version of Cortana for Android

Microsoft announced in May that it will roll out its personal assistant, Cortana, to Android and iOS. As the official launch is getting closer, so are the leaks it seems. Word is that a pre-release version of Cortana has cropped up last weekend on various websites.

It is said that the standalone Cortana app is already running smoothly on devices and is compatible with Android 4.1.2 and later OS versions. There have been some problems with getting it to work on some handsets, but that is bound to happen as it is a leaked version and not the official app. However, you can at least try it out before you decide if you actually want to get it for your Android handset.

People who had a chance to test it out say that it performs “as expected” and if you got a chance to test Windows 10 Preview for PC or Phones, then you most likely are familiar with what Cortana can do on Android or iOS devices too. There are some minor differences, like Cortana not being able to get content from emails or listen for music, but there were bound to be some restrictions in place. Compared to the integrated version on Windows Phones, the standalone Cortana for other OS’ requires permission to get access to pretty much everything, so if you don’t have a way to provide it, the app will not be able to use the external information.

Microsoft plans to launch Cortana for iOS and Android next week. They say it will hit the US, UK, Chinese, French, Italian and Spanish markets at first, followed by Canada and India in the following months and then the rest of the targeted markets by the end of the year. The company chose this approach due to the fact that it also wants to personalize the user interaction with Cortana. For example, the Japanese market will feature Cortana bowing by default to show signs of politeness, while the UK market will house a Cortana that expresses the well-known British humour.

You can download the leaked version of Cortana for Android from APKMirror. I already have a Windows Phone device, so if you have an Android handset and choose to test it out, don’t forget to share your thoughts with a comment below!

Thank you Sci-Tech Today for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of PCkoloji

Acer Profits Tumble in Struggling PC Market

Acer, the 5th largest PC manufacturer worldwide has revealed their financial results for the second quarter of 2015. The data shows a downturn in sales of over 30% which is the smallest quarter recorded since 2006. Furthermore, the company only managed to ship approximately 60,000 units in May 2015, down 10,000 from the previous month! This scale of decline is quite evident in the graph below which was provided by Charles Arthur, a freelance technology journalist, on Twitter:

The figures correspond with existing evidence from Gartner which indicate PC shipments declined 9.5% in the second quarter of 2015. Finding the exact cause is difficult and it’s usually a combination of various factors. Firstly, PCs easily perform basic tasks for the average consumer and have a long lifespan providing the hardware doesn’t fail. The rise of cheap smartphones and tablets affected laptop sales as smart devices adopt an intuitive menu design for casual web browsing. Cost is an issue in certain regions due to a sharp appreciation of the U.S dollar compared to local currencies.

Acer are hoping for an upturn in their financial returns based on strong sales of ultra-light Chromebooks and gaming laptops. However, I’m not convinced these areas of the market will bring in anything more than smaller profit yields. Whatever the case, Acer is just another company trying to reverse the downward spiral of PC sales. The evidence is very clear and sales are reducing at a dramatic rate. Perhaps this slump will improve but I can’t see it happening due to the factors mentioned above.

Thank You Engadget for providing us with this information.

Facebook Wants to Roll Out Their Own Music App

Since Apple released the iOS 8.4 update along with their Apple Music feature, we saw a lot of users taking an interest in it. Reports say that iOS 8.4 now has an adoption rate of over 40% and the number keeps rising. And since Apple has settled with the royalty rates paid to the people in the music industry, things are just looking up for their service.

Facebook looks like it took a big interest in this success and seems to have put its smartphone manufacturing plans on hold. Sources say that Facebook is now looking to either acquire or built their own music service from scratch. Music Ally tells that sources talking off the record say Facebook is using an aggressive monetization approach and a lot of intellectual property acquisitions.

The sources also say that Facebook might have the service, or at least a rough version of it, ready in a few months, but an actual commercial app should be ready by next year. If the latter provides to be true, we might see an even bigger competitor in the music streaming market. So we have Apple taking away a lot of customers as of late, and then Facebook seems to make a move and try to take a big chunk of the market too. The reasonable question to ask is, what will Spotify do? Will it come with something radical, or will it radically die out?

Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information

Here Is Why Windows 8.1 Gained a Big Lead Over XP and Why It Matters

I know most people who loved Windows XP still stuck with it, even if Microsoft dropped support for it back in April 2014. The people who upgraded went to Windows 7, which now has the majority shares between all OS’. But why does Windows 8.1 need to be in front of XP?

Ok, the main reason XP needs to be something of the past is linked to its legacy security flaws. Since there is no more support, the remaining security issues can be exploited by everyone out there and you are pretty much using something you know you shouldn’t. But still, people are using it and it may pose a high security threat to anyone on the same network as an XP user (not to mention the user himself).

However, statistics show that Windows 8.1 now has a big lead ahead of XP. Statcounter shows that Windows 8.1 is roughly 5% ahead of XP and Netmarketshare shows only a 1.14% increase in usage. The big gap between the two services is due to their methods of analysing different OS’ and browsers out there, but it still shows promise.

While people are adopting real quick the 60.98% market share is still dominated by Windows 7 users. This is a big thing and the reason this matters is that it shows a view of how many people will adopt Windows 10 once it gets released. While we see a lot of XP users moving towards the newest Windows 8.1 release, the same cannot be said for Windows 7 users.

In my opinion, Windows 10 would bring a lot of features and restructure the user interface to something more familiar that is now found in Windows 7. However, the number of users upgrading to Windows 10 will be quite interesting to view as will mark a big turning point. Windows 10 is designed with a lot of new cloud services and business-oriented software in mind, as well as a lot of new and interesting features for the users themselves. The question is, will it be enough to change people’s minds about new software upgrades?

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

Nokia Plans a Comeback to the Smartphone Market Next Year

If you thought that the famous company who made ‘tough’ phones is out of the smartphone market, think again. Nokia just announced that it plans to make a comeback next year, after Microsoft allows it. It looks like Nokia and Microsoft signed an agreement that prevents Nokia from selling anything phone-wise until 2016.

However, Nokia does not plan on making fully fledged handsets. The company announced that it will start designing smartphones and selling their brand. This means we could be looking at other Nokia Windows Phones next year, but having Microsoft provide the hardware and software, while Nokia provides the designs and its logo. However, Nokia plans on extending its services to other companies too.

This does not mean Nokia is moving away from networking, as they were focusing on the market for quite some time now. Its latest acquisition, Alcatel-Lucent, for $17.8 billion still provides a good understanding that the company wants a chunk of the latter market as well.

In the meantime, its HERE technology is still up for sale. While big companies are eyeing Nokia’s high-definition satellite imagery technology, Nokia says that a ‘good buyer’ for the tech will be someone who can improve it and expand its potential in the long run.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information