Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report Highlights Gaming’s Cultural Influence

 

Venture capitalist Mary Meeker released on Wednesday her highly anticipated annual report on Internet trends, capturing the tech world’s state of play. This year’s biggest insights include: the sprawling growth of the gaming industry, slowing mobile phone shipments, and online ad dollars surpassing that of TV.

Meeker considers gaming the most engaging form of social media, and suggests that early interactive gaming paved the way for much of the contemporary web. She points to how notable features of gaming, including interactive storytelling, messaging, and novel camera angles have been adopted by other forms of popular media and technology. Mobile messaging apps, car companies, streaming services, and sports media have all taken a page from the world of video games. Perhaps, she said, gaming has helped prime society for the development of human-computer interaction.

She tallies the global revenue for interactive gaming at $100 billion (6,44,962 crores) globally, with a 9 percent increase from 2015. And when gaming is compared to other digital media, it beats out other popular platforms in the amount of time users spend with it. People spend an average of 51 minutes playing console games every day, edging out Facebook (50 minutes), Snapchat ( 30 minutes), and Instagram (21 minutes), according to her report.

Like many other industries with an international presence, tech faces a shifting political landscape. Meeker seized on the national debate over immigration, where many of technology’s biggest names have clashed with the Trump administration over the president’s travel ban and broader immigration policy. Attracting talent from overseas is key to job creation in the tech industry, Meeker said. According to the report, 60 percent of the most highly valued tech companies in the US were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. In 2016, those companies staffed 1.5 million employees.Mary Meeker's Internet Trends Report Highlights Gaming's Cultural Influence

One notable first for the report came in the advertising section. The money spent on US mobile advertising has eclipsed that of the desktop, marking the flow of ad dollars and attention toward phones. Online advertising in general, which combines phones and computers, is up 22 percent from last year, totaling $73 billion (roughly Rs. 4,70,862 crores). The report pins the growth of online ads on improved methods to measure their efficacy, and more dollars chasing the rapid rise in phone usage.
Just as mobile has finally bested the desktop in advertising cash, Meeker predicts that in the next six months, the amount of money spent on online ads globally will surpass that of TV advertising. In 2016, TV and Internet advertising each totaled just under $200 billion.

Google and Facebook continue to dominate the US market for Internet advertising. Their combined revenue and growth tower above the rest of the industry. Google’s revenue for 2016 was over $35 billion (roughly Rs. 2,25,807 crores) and is up 22 percent from last year, the report said. Facebook took in roughly $14 billion (roughly Rs. 90,296 crores) from online ads in the US and saw a whopping 62 percent boost from 2015. Meanwhile, every other online advertiser, which Meeker lumped into a category called “others”, took in more than $20 billion, with a 9 percent increase, compared to last year. The report attributed the growth in Internet advertising to firms finding better ways of targeting audiences and measuring their engagement.

And while more of the world is coming online, something approaching universal connectivity remains elusive. The number of Internet users around the world, now at around 3.4 billion, continues to climb, but the level of growth remains flat, at 10 percent.

More smartphones are being shipped too, but growth is slowing down. Whereas global smartphone shipment numbers jumped by 24 percent in 2014, and 10 percent in 2015, that figure dwindled to 3 percent in 2016.

 

LG V30 Launch to Be Held Ahead of IFA 2017: Report

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The phone has been tipped to pack Snapdragon 835 SoC
  • LG has been tipped to hold pre-order sales for smartphone
  • LG V30 is expected to come with IP68 water and dust resistance

Last month, leaked LG V30 mockups suggested that the smartphone could possibly feature a secondary slide-out display and now the handset has been tipped to launch in September this year. The LG V30 will reportedly be unveiled right ahead of IFA 2017 event, which will kick off in Berlin on September 1.

According to a report by South Korean news website ETNews, for the first time for a handset in its V-Series, LGwill be launching the V30 smartphone ahead of IFA 2017 event in Germany. Apart from this, LG is also planning to hold pre-order sales for V30 in South Korea, which will also be a first for any phone from V-Series, in an attempt to promote V30, as per the report.

LG has been tipped to hold pre-order sales for “about a week or two” via three South Korean mobile network providers after the launch event of V30. ETNews has suggested that the smartphone will be officially released in South Korea during September. Notably, the report has not mentioned whether there will be pre-order sales for other markets as well.LG V30 Launch to Be Held Ahead of IFA 2017: Report

The South Korean news website says that LG V30 is expected to be priced by the company around “latter end of KRW 800,000 (roughly Rs. 45,200).” As per the report, LG V30 comes with a near bezel-less design just like the company’s current flagship LG G6 and will feature a dual-camera setup at the back just like its predecessor LG V20. The smartphone has been suggested to house a 3200mAh battery as well. It has been tipped to be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC and come with IP68 water and dust resistance rating.

In audio department, LG V30 has been suggested to come with ESS’ new Quad DAC, which should allow it to deliver impressive performance. Notably, the phone has been tipped to retain the 3.5mm audio jack as well. Finally, LG V30 is expected to be offered in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage options.

To recall, LG has previously been tipped to use OLED display on LG V30 and “old-ish” mockups have suggested that the early designs of the smartphone included a slide-out secondary display as well.

As these are just leaks, we would advise you to take this information with a pinch of salt on the side and wait for the official information from the company.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Launch Set for August 23: Report

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Galaxy Note 8 launch could happen on August 23
  • Samsung executive said to confirm a launch late next month
  • Galaxy S8 sales to be blamed for earlier than expected launch of Note 8

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, the next phablet flagship from the South Korean-based consumer electronics giant, could launch late next month, claims a new report. The Bell, a South Korea-based publication, says that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 may launch on August 23. It’s however worth pointing it out that we are yet to hear a confirmation from Samsung.

Another report corroborates the launch event late next month with a confirmation by a Samsung executive. However, the executive declined to confirm August 23 launch date, reports The Investor.

The earlier than expected launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will reportedly make the smartphone broadly available in global markets by September. The company this way could also take on its biggest rival, Apple, which is likely to launch the iPhone 8 in September.

 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Launch Set for August 23: Report

There have been reports doing the rounds of the Internet that claim the Samsung Galaxy S8 is selling 20 percent less than its predecessor. The Bell cites brokerage analysts to claim Samsung managed to sell 9.8 million units in the first two months of the launch, which was roughly 20 percent less than the Samsung Galaxy S7’s 12 million units last year. This slowdown is said to be one of the reasons for the early launch of the Galaxy Note 8.

Samsung has already dropped hints during the company’s quarterly results for the quarter ended March 31 that it will announce a “new flagship smartphone in the second half [of 2017]”, and even before that, had revealed the Galaxy Note 8 is indeed on the cards, and will be safer than its predecessor that was infamously recalled.

It will be really interesting to see how well the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is received in worldwide markets especially after the Galaxy Note 7 debacle last year that forced the company to discontinue the phone. With frequent cases of fire on the Note 7, Samsung was last year reported considering killing its Galaxy Note series forever due to the bad name associated with it.

Samsung may launch Note 8 on August 23: Report

Samsung is rumoured to be launching its upcoming flagship phone Galaxy Note 8 on August 23. The news has been reported by a South-Korean publication, though an official confirmation is still awaited.

Originally slated to be launched in September this year, Samsung advanced the launch to August not only to counter Apple, which is expected to launch its flagship device iPhone 8 in September, but also because its last offering, Samsung S8, received a lukewarm response from the market.

Samsung is also betting heavily on Note 8 as it is the successor of the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 which arguably could be the most unsuccessful flagship model ever released by Samsung.

 Samsung may launch Note 8 on August 23: Report

Launched in 2016, Note 7 was involved in a battery-exploding fiasco eventually costing Samsung pole position in the market, and Chinese handset makers took advantage of the gap.

With Note 8, Samsung is hoping to revive the old Samsung magic in the Indian markets and reclaim top slot.

LG G6 to get LG Pay, facial recognition tech in June Report

 

LG G6 will get LG Pay and facial recognition technology in June to rival Samsung Galaxy S8 that comes with iris scanner and Samsung Pay built-in, according to a media report.

The Investor in a report has said that LG has partnered with Oez facial recognition to develop the new feature which will be made available in June alongside LG Pay.

The report cites News Prime, a local online news outlet which quoted an industry source, “Should LG utilise OezFR to support the payment system, it will be the first time for a facial recognition system to be used for financial transactions in the premium smartphone sector.”LG

Interestingly, both the features can be easily updated on to old flagship phones such as the LG G5 and the V20.

In terms of specifications, the Android 7.0 Nougat-running LG G6 comes with a 5.7-inch QHD+ (1440×2880 pixels) FullVision display with an 18:9 (or 2:1) aspect ratio instead of industry standard (16:9).

In South Korea, the LG G6 is already available for purchase and has been priced starting KRW 899,800 (roughly Rs. 51,200).

 

Samsung Galaxy S8 Facing Random Restart Issues, Some Users Report

 

There seems to be no end to early issues related to Samsung’s latest Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones. Some Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users in the US are reporting random restarts. Additionally the fix for the red tint display issue, which was widely reported by Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users, is now rolling out to more regions.

Several Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users took to the company’s official forum and XDA Developers forum thread to report the issue. One of the users wrote, “I’m getting the same problem on my S8 standard. Randomly, the screen will have some artefacts appear (nearly always on the bottom) then it just restarts. Happens in safe mode too so it doesn’t appear to be an app causing it. Phoned Samsung and they told me to send it back to the retailers and ask for a replacement.”Samsung Galaxy S8 Facing Random Restart Issues, Some Users Report

Notably, the first issue was reported by a user who just took out the Samsung Galaxy S8, and was setting it up for the first time. The user wrote in the community forum, “So I picked up my Galaxy s8 and everything seems to be working well except the phone keeps restarting itself. I have had it for about 10 hours now and it has already restarted 7 times while I was using it. It happens when I’m using an app like the camera or Samsung Themes and it doesn’t matter if the phone is charging or not. All of a sudden the app freezes, the screen shuts off, and a few seconds later it restarts. Is anyone having the same problem or know of any solutions?”

Samsung Galaxy S8+ users are reporting facing the random restart issue as well. One of the temporary fixes making the rounds in threads is to remove the microSD card from the device. Some Galaxy S8 users however claim that they never inserted a microSD card in their units. Unfortunately, Samsung is yet to officially acknowledge the issue.

In separate news, Samsung has started rolling out the fix for red tint display issue reported by Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users. Last week, the software patch fixing the bug that caused red tint issue was being rolled out to users in South Korea. The company, however, now seems to have expand the availability to more markets. According to Sammobile, Samsung Galaxy S8 users in Turkey and the UK are receiving the fix while Galaxy S8+ users in Germany and Turkey are receiving the same fix.

 

 

Siri Far Behind Alexa and Google Assistant, Says Ex-Apple Employee: Report

 

HIGHLIGHTS
Siri reportedly hasn’t mastered many skills that its competitors have
Apple employees feel HomePod is no competition to Amazon Echo
HomePod has been publicised more as a good quality audio speaker
While Siri is one of the oldest voice-based virtual assistants to exist, post WWDC reactions to the voice assistant has been less than enthusiastic, with a report further highlighting reactions by a former Apple employee as well as a developer WWDC attendee. While Amazon and Google have made waves in the home smart speaker space, the newly announced HomePod focuses more on audio quality than intelligence. A former employee blames it on Apple’s culture of prioritising on user privacy, and points out how the HomePod has a long way to go to match Amazon’s Echo and its capabilities.

A WSJ report cites a few Apple ex-employees and a developer who claimed that engineers at the company were dismayed at the launch of Amazon Echo, which showed Amazon had mastered a lot of things that Siri hadn’t yet. “Amazon had figured out how to isolate voices from background noise and have a digital assistant respond to requests from a distance—abilities Siri hadn’t yet mastered. People at Apple’s anxiety level went up a notch,” said a former member of Apple’s Siri team.Siri Far Behind Alexa and Google Assistant, Says Ex-Apple Employee: Report

Siri’s delayed access to third party apps, and its limited accessibility is also a hindrance for Siri. Furthermore, Apple stresses too much on privacy, and is not so big on using user’s data too much. Amazon and Google, on the other hand, have been very open to third-party integration bringing many new features to its smart speakers in due course of time.
Another ex-employee told WSJ, “In the years since, former Siri team members say, progress has been slowed by a failure to set ambitious goals, shifting strategies and a culture that prioritizes user privacy—making it difficult to personalize and improve the product. The project also has suffered from the departures of key team members, some of whom went to competitors. About a year after Mr. Jobs’s death, Apple hired Bill Stasior, an Amazon search executive, to oversee Siri. Mr. Stasior studied artificial intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but his expertise was in search rather than speech or language. This led some members of the Siri team to believe he didn’t fully appreciate the product’s original vision: to expand beyond the iPhone to third-party apps.”

Speaking of the limited and delayed access of Siri, a developer Brian Roemmele, who attended WWDC said, “People went from being happy and excited to sitting in workshops and realising, I can’t use it. Some went back to that attitude: Siri’s always going to be dumb.”

This all point to an urgent need for Apple to set ambitious goals for Siri, in order to match market competitors. Knowing Apple, it would not enter a space it wasn’t confident about, and we expect it make significant improvements to Siri. One thing Siri is better than the others is that it supports as many as 21 languages, while Alexa speaks only English and German, and Google Home works in seven languages.

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Tags: Apple HomePod, Apple, HomePod Launch, Amazon Echo, Google home, home ENtertainment

 

LG to launch G6 Pro and Plus on June 27: report

 

 LG G6 smartphone

LG will unveil the two models on June 27 in its home market and could later announce them for International markets.

LG will launch two new G6 variants—a G6 Pro and a G6 Plus model by the end of this month, reported a South Korean news website etnews.com. According to the report, LG will unveil the two models on June 27 in its home market and could later announce them for International markets.LG G6 smartphone

The two variants—G6 Pro and G6 Plus would mainly differ in their storage capacities. The G6 Plus model is said to offer 128GB of internal storage and feature wireless charging capabilities under a price tag of 1,000,000 Won (approx. Rs 57,000), while the G6 Pro model would feature less storage space at 32GB at a price of 790,000 Won (approx. Rs 45,000).

Additionally, the report says similar to the standard G6 model, the two will features a 5.7-inch Quad HD + full vision display with an aspect ratio of 18:9, is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC, coupled with 4GB RAM.

However, an official announcement on the launch of two G6 variants is yet to be made by the company.

 

LG planning to launch the LG V30 at IFA 2017 in Berlin: Report

 

A report from ETNews, a Korean news website, claims that LG is planning to announce the LG V30 at IFA 2017 in Berlin. IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung), one of the largest consumer electronic trade shows in the world, is set to be held from September 1, 2017 to September 6, 2017, in Berlin. As per the report, LG will unveil the V30 smartphone a day before the official opening of IFA 2017. If LG does introduce the device at IFA, this will be the first time the company launches a smartphone at the event.

The report also suggests that LG will hold pre-orders for a period of one to two weeks for the V30 in Korea, and that the device is expected to cost $699 (Rs 45,064 approx).

The LG V30 will be the third device in LG’s V-series of smartphones. While the LG V10, the first in the series, did not make its way to India, its successor, the LG V20 was launched in India last year. The V20 was a redemption device for LG, since the modular LG G5 failed to impress consumers. In fact, LG admitted that the modular approach did not yield the kind of interest they were hoping to spark, and the company has since moved away from the modular philosophy.LG planning to launch the LG V30 at IFA 2017 in Berlin: Report

Last year’s LG V20 featured a 5.7-inch LCD display with 513 ppi pixel density. It ran on the Snapdragon 820 platform, and featured 4GB of RAM. In the camera department, it featured a 16MP primary camera and an 8MP front camera. In our review of the LG V20, we noted that it is a good phone for audiophiles, or for those who want a removable back and battery. However, the Google Pixel/Pixel XL or iPhone 7 Plus far surpassed the V20 at the time, and were considered better choices.

As far as the LG V30 is concerned, the smartphone will be LG’s next big flagship and is expected to sport an OLED panel. Initial renders also point to a slide-out secondary display.