Facebook to build S$1.4b data centre in Singapore

Hot on the heels of Google’s announcement last month that it will build its third data centre in Singapore is Facebook, which declared today that it will be establishing its first Asia data centre in the country.

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Google Pixel 3 coming on October 9

The Google Pixel 2 is expected to welcome its new sibling soon.

The rumour mills are spinning at top speed as smartphone launch season gets ready to kick off. With Samsung having announced the Note 9, and Apple expected to respond with a new iPhone next month, Google looks to be getting into the act too with the Pixel 3 slated for an October 9 introduction, according to Bloomberg.

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Google faces massive fine over Android

It happened to Microsoft in 2013 and it looks like history is repeating itself, albeit with Google being the one under the spotlight. The European Union (EU) is expected to decide on a record fine for forcing Android smartphone makers to pre-install its search and web browsing tools and use them by default unless they want to lose access to the Play Store.

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HTC to slice 1,500 from workforce

Even the Vive wasn't enough to keep HTC intact.
Even the Vive wasn’t enough to keep HTC intact.

Taiwan smartphone maker HTC is making a cut of the most painful kind — by slicing 20 percent of its workforce. The decision to swallow the bitter pill comes in the wake of heavy losses and strong competition.

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Smartwatch market heading towards steady growth

The Fitbit Versa has been well-received by the market.
The Fitbit Versa has been well-received by the market.

The worldwide wearables market is adjusting as smartwatches continue to come to the forefront. In the coming years, smartwatches will encompass more features and functionalities.

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Google moves to top of smart speaker market in Q1

Google has ousted Amazon from the perch of the global smart speaker market. According to Canalys, Google shipped 3.2 million units with its Google Home and Google Home mini series , surpassing the 2.5 million units of the Amazon Echo series for the first time in Q1.

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Alibaba and Google drive SEA transportation initiatives

Kuala Lumpur trafficMost Southeast Asian capitals and major cities are notorious for its traffic congestion. In separate developments, Alibaba and Google have taken steps to be more involved in the transportation industries in Malaysia and Indonesia respectively.

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Smart speaker adoption to rise in 2018

Google Home Mini is competing against Amazon Echo Dot.
Google Home Mini is competing against Amazon Echo Dot.

Amazon and Google went head to head in the smart speaker market last year and the battle is expected to be more intense in the coming days with more players joining the fray.

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Google sets up online Singapore store

Hurray, Google has finally set up an online store for Singapore! Amid the flurry of announcements made yesterday, this is probably the most significant for those in Singapore. After all, what’s the point of reading and hearing about all the launches in recent years without being able to buy the products anywhere in the country.

The bad news, however, is that only three products were listed on the Google Wifi, Google Chromecast and the newly-launched Google Pixel 2 XL.

Google’s latest smartphone sports front-facing stereo speakers, and front and rear cameras capable of producing amazing shots using fused image stabilisation of optical and digital zoom. Though the headphone jack is gone, Google has introduced Pixel Buds that can translate up to 40 languages on the fly. Continue reading “Google sets up online Singapore store”

Google snares HTC hardware talents

Google is flexing its muscles in the hardware business with the acquisition of a team of hardware talents from HTC.

The move marks another milestone in a decade-long relationship between the two companies.

“These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property,” blogged Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google.

 

ICML: Gathering of the brightest in AI

“I’m amazed at the quality of the papers presented. The project teams’ line of thinking and breakthrough concepts are refreshing,” exclaimed a leading artificial intelligence (AI) scientist at the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) in Sydney.

International Convention Centre Sydney was a massive hive of activities as 3,000 of the world’s top researchers, developers and students in AI gathered for ICML. The participants moved rapidly from one workshop to another and took great interest in the exhibition booths of top deep learning proponents such as NVIDIA, Google and Facebook.

With so many bright young talents. the event proved to be a good fishing ground for vendors as they held recruitment interviews at their booths, as well as posted openings on the board.

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AI to fuel next wave of cloud growth

The cloud infrastructure services market is continuing to grow strongly, up 47 percent year on year in Q2 to reach US$14 billion, according to Canalys. Growth was driven by demand for primary cloud infrastructure services, such as on-demand computing and storage, across all customer segments and industries.

However, future growth is expected to be fueled by customers using the artificial intelligence (AI) platforms cloud service providers are building to develop new applications, processes, services, and user experiences.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) maintained its leadership position, growing 42 percent on an annual basis and accounting for more than 30 percent of total spend. But its growth rate was lower than those of its main rivals, Microsoft (up 97 percent growth) and Google (up 92 percent), but higher than fourth-placed IBM (up 23 percent). Overall, the top four cloud services providers represented 55 percent of the cloud infrastructure services market, which includes IaaS and PaaS.

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Deeper into AI

The keynote address at Google I/O yesterday showed that Google is much more than just a search company. It is becoming more artificial intelligence (AI). Google is specifically using deep learning to help in many areas of everyday life.

 

Here are some as shared on Google’s blog post:

Google Assistant can help answer your questions and find information—but it can also help you get all kinds of useful things done. Today we’re adding a few more:

  • Schedule new calendar appointments and create reminders. Starting today on Google Home, you can schedule appointments and soon you’ll also be able to add reminders. Since it’s the same Google Assistant across devices, you’ll be able to get a reminder at home or on the go.
  • Make your home smarter. We now have 70+ smart home partners supporting the Google Assistant across Google Home and Android phones, including August locks, TP-Link, Honeywell, Logitech, and LG.

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Battle for the cloud

The battle for cloud dominance has intensified with key players all growing significantly in Q1. The worldwide cloud infrastructure services market grew 42 percent year on year to reach US$11.4 billion, according to Canalys.

Amazon’s AWS maintained its leadership, holding a stable global market share of 31 percent. It was followed by Microsoft, Google and IBM.

In terms of growth, Microsoft led with 93 percent while Google was up 74 percent, AWS 43 percent, and IBM 38 percent.

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Rise of accelerated computing in data centres

Can’t say this was unexpected as NVIDIA retorts Google’s claim that its custom ASIC Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) was up to 30 times faster than CPUs and NVIDIA’s K80 G for inferencing workloads.

NVIDIA pointed out that Google’s  TPU paper has drawn a clear conclusion – without accelerated computing, the scale-out of AI is simply not practical.

The role of data centres has changed considerably in today’s economy. Instead of just serving web pages, advertising and video content, data centres are now recognising voices, detecting images in video streams and connecting users with information they need when they need it.

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Tablet market to drop 8% in 2015

IDCThe year’s looking bad for tablets as worldwide demand is expected to slide 8.1-percent to just 211.3 million units, according to IDC.

The new forecast follows three consecutive quarters of declining worldwide tablet shipments in 2015. Despite the challenges facing the overall market, IDC expects detachable tablets will continue to represent a growing portion of total shipments.

“We’re witnessing a real market transition as end users shift their demand towards detachables and more broadly towards a productivity-based value proposition. The proliferation of detachable offerings from hardware vendors continues to help drive this switch. We’re starting to see the impact of competition within this space as the major platform vendors – Apple, Google and Microsoft – now have physical product offerings. With attractive price points, including the introduction of sub-US$100 detachables, and platform innovation being driven by competition, IDC is confident that the detachables segment will nearly double in size in the next year, recording more than 75 percent growth compared to 2015,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard , Research Director, Tablets, IDC.

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Australia tablet and 2-in-1 market takes massive hit

IDCThe numbers for the tablet and 2-in-1 market for Q1 in Australia look grim — total shipment was 770,772 units, representing a massive 40 percent quarter-on-quarter decline.

According to IDC, while the seasonal slump is customary, the magnitude of this decline is steeper than expected. Shipment decline of 25 percent year-on-year further reinforced the reality of a slow-down in demand for this product category.

However, drilling down into the segments reveals some positive signs. Whilst consumer shipments declined by 27 percent year-on-year, commercial shipments increased by a modest 1.2 percent.

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Global PC shipment down 7% in Q1

CanalysApple held on to its top spot despite a 16 percent drop in PC shipment in Q1. It shipped 17.2 million units, taking a 15 percent market share while Lenovo and HP came in second and third place respectively. Samsung was next with 9.5 million units shipped with Dell just behind with 9.4 million units.

Overall, the global PC market, including tablets, declined seven percent, according to Canalys.

“The growth drivers that previously helped the market through 2014 will have little effect this year. Vendors are struggling with exchange rate fluctuations which is making financial planning more difficult and forcing price increases. These challenges, combined with a softening of demand as Windows 10 draws nearer along with Microsoft’s free upgrade plans, means PC market declines will be greater in the second quarter than they were in the first,” said Tim Coulling, Senior Analyst of Canalys.

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HTC debuts Vive VR headset

HTC ViveThrough a strategic partnership with Valve, HTC has introduced HTC Vive, which aims to transform the way consumers interact with technology and the world around them. If you’re planning to go out and grab one, hold steady because the consumer edition will only be available at end 2015.

HTC and Valve have introduced a full room scale 360-degree solution with tracked controllers so users can get up, walk around and explore virtual space, inspect objects from every angle and truly interact with surroundings. The headset features high quality graphics, 90 frames per second video and great audio fidelity.

HTC is also introducing new wireless VR controllers that will make users feel as one with the virtual environment. The new HTC VR Controllers come in a pair and are designed to work with a wide range of VR experiences.

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Global smartphone shipment soars past 300m units in Q2

DIDCemand for smartphones are on the rise with more 301.3 million units shipped worldwide in Q2, up 25.3 percent from the 240.5 million units shipped in the corresponding quarter last year, according to IDC.

The dominant smartphone operating systems (OS), Android and iOS, saw their combined market share swell to 96.4 percent for the quarter, leaving little space for competitors.

Android was the primary driver with its vendor partners shipping a total of 255.3 million Android-based smartphones in Q2, up 33.3 percent year over year. Meanwhile, iOS saw its market share decline despite posting 12.7 percent year-over-year shipment growth. While Android and iOS both realised gains from a year ago, the rest of the market recorded losses.

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NVIDIA Tegra K1 leads Android charge

Epic RivalryGoogle unveiled a host of upcoming technologies running on Android at its annual Google I/O and NVIDIA’s Tegra Ki is a key part of the foray into new mobile computing areas such as gaming, TV, automotive, and robotics.

NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 chip features 192 programmable GPGPU cores and the same Kepler GPU as TITAN. Tegra K1 just brought GPU computing to Google’s new Project Tango tablet devkit, opening the door for developers to work on new apps and use cases for Computer Vision and 3D.

At Google I/O, now on in San Francisco, Tegra K1 featured in many areas, including:

  • Tegra K1 is the first processor to support Google’s Android Extension Pack – new gaming extensions for the upcoming L release, shown on-stage on Epic’s new Unreal Engine 4 demo
  • Google announced that Android L will support 64-bit CPU support – and NVIDIA is already developing L on the 64-bit version of Tegra K1
  • Tegra K1 is the first processor to support Android TV – Google’s new dev platform. A Tegra K1 reference platform is available for set-top box and TV OEMs, while a Tegra Android TV dev platform is available today for app, game, content developers
  • Tegra K1 delivers GPU computing to mobile platforms with Google’s Project Tango tablet devkit, to be showcased at I/O with new developer apps
  • Tegra drives the best in-car Android experience and powers Google’s new Android Auto

Mobile computing is indeed revolutionising areas such as gaming, TV, automotive, and robotics.

Attached rate of factory installed car navigation units to rise to 38% in 2019

abi researchOnce a luxury item, embedded in-car navigation systems are now increasingly becoming less expensive and are offered in mass-market cars. At the same time, more and more car navigation units are becoming connected and multi-functional as they converge with other technologies in the car.

The attachment of embedded in-dash factory installed navigation units is expected to increase from 22 percent at the end of 2013 to 38 percent by 2019, according to ABI Reseach. This represents a compounded annual growth rate of 13.6 percent.

“However, this growth will be eclipsed by the number of smartphone-based navigation devices used in the car, particularly off-board devices, where navigation is performed in the cloud as opposed to on the device,” said Gareth Owen, Principal Analyst of ABI Research, which forecasts that shipment of handset-based navigation services will reach 1.68 billion globally by 2019.

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New alliance formed to bring Android to automobile

A coalition of auto and technology companies have formed a new industry alliance to bring the Android platform to a device that’s always been mobile: the car.

Audi, GM, Google, Honda, Hyundai, and NVIDIA have joined together to form the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), a global alliance of technology and auto industry leaders committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014. OAA is dedicated to a common platform that will drive innovation, and make technology in the car safer and more intuitive for everyone.

OAA is aimed at accelerating auto innovation with an approach that offers openness, customization and scale, key tenets that have already made Android a familiar part of millions of people’s lives. This open development model and common platform will allow automakers to more easily bring cutting-edge technology to their drivers, and create new opportunities for developers to deliver powerful experiences for drivers and passengers in a safe and scalable way.

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Android mobile app revenue to hit US$6.8b this year

AndroidAndroid’s smartphone mobile app revenues are projected to reach almost US$6.8 billion by the end of 2013, nearly doubling its revenues from the previous year, according to ABI Research.

The Android platform has some way to go before catching iOS’s smartphone revenues but the smartphone app market will be Android’s most fruitful hunting ground compared to other devices.

ABI Research estimates that Android smartphone app revenues will increase from 59.1 percent to 65.9 percent when compared to iOS smartphone app revenues over the next 12 months.

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Smart watches poised to take off in 2014

CanalysFancy a new accessory? How about a smart watch? It looks like smart watches are going to be the next “must have” item. According to Canalys, the worldwide smart watch market will exceed five million units in 2014.

Canalys estimates that over 330,000 smart watches were shipped in 2012, led by Sony and Motorola. Kickstarter-backed Pebble Technology has joined Sony as a market leader in 2013. More than half a million units will be shipped this year. Smart watches are then set to explode by the end of 2014, growing tenfold as a new generation of devices from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and others are launched.

Unlike earlier products, these smart watches will provide more sophisticated software and more elegant hardware. Glanceable information, integration across sensors and hooks into web services will be key features. These companion devices will not replace smart phones, but rather complement them as ‘appcessories’.

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