When the Informer saw the news this week that a Californian artist had created a model of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs out of his own waste he naturally jumped to the wrong conclusion; namely that an art school flunky had made some sort of jobbie-Jobs. Of course we cannot rule out the possibility that, at this very moment, somebody, somewhere is meticulously bent on just such a project, in the middle of their living room, with all the manic concentration of Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters. But the story centred in fact on an artist that had created a Jobs figurine from Jobs’ own domestic rubbish, gathered over a period of months from his bins, before he passed away.
This, it has to be said, is only a little less weird than the wrong conclusion to which the Informer initially jumped. The artist, known as XVALA, was apparently motivated to create the sculpture by Jobs’ “Einstein-like achievements…and the recent riot at Apple’s Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn”.
Foxconn was in fact forced to close its 79,000-employee plant in Taiyuan in the wake of the dormitory fight that eventually involved some 2,000 workers. The plant re-opened this week.
A fresh view on Apple’s decision to launch its own mapping application with iOS6 emerged this week as users and reviewers continued to heap scorn on Maps. Although the software now has turn-by-turn voice directions, and a fancy 3D flyover feature which works intermittently, the company has pulled public transport routes as part of the functionality.
It is understood that Apple still had a year’s worth of licensing for Google Maps, but chose to pull the plug on the deal early. All Things Digital claimed a bit of inside knowledge this week, quoting sources that claimed the fall-out was over turn-by-turn voice. Apparently, turn-by-turn voice was never part of Apple’s licensing contract of Google Maps for iOS. It’s a feature that has become increasingly popular on the Android platform and Apple wanted a piece of the action. But in return for extending the licence, Google asked for extra branding inside the app and the addition of certain Google layers like Latitude.
Now Apple likes to keep control over its features and functionality as tight as a gnat’s wotsit and it also doesn’t like others to be calling the shots, especially not a big rival like Google. The Informer has heard there were also concerns at Cupertino that Google was collecting insight into Apple user behaviour through Google Maps, and the increasingly fragile relationship eventually collapsed.
The Maps fiasco somewhat overshadowed the LTE compatibility of the iPhone 5 that had been so much anticipated. This will be of little interest to the people of Vietnam, where the regulator has decided to delay LTE spectrum allocation until 2015 in the face of weak uptake for 3G services. While five Vietnamese operators have been trialling LTE technology over the last two years, a spokesperson from the regulatory body quoted in the local press said that 3G demand was lower than in other areas of the world, meaning that “it was not a good time to provide the next generation technology.”
The spokesperson added that 3G subscriber growth would have to be maintained at 100 per cent annually if LTE licences are to be awarded in 2015.
There are no such concerns in South Africa, where MTN announced plans this week to light three cities with commercial LTE before the end of the year. Re-farming 1800MHz spectrum for the purpose, the firm initially plans to deploy LTE in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. Cape Town offers more challenges in terms of re-farming, the firm said, meaning that residents in that city will have to wait. The firm said that mobile data consumption is up 200 per cent year on year.
Meanwhile Nokia Siemens Networks trumpeted the first commercial LTE services in Slovenia this week, with Si.mobil deploying the tech in three cities of its own country, Ljubijana, Brnik and Bled.
Here in the UK there are suggestions that MVNO Virgin is in talks with host network EE to get in on the LTE action. If successful Virgin would beat incumbent operators O2 and Vodafone and 3UK to the market with LTE, which would be a big score (and possibly a world first) for a virtual operator. The rumours might have been fuelled by an announcement from sister company Virgin Media Business that it had completed a trial of LTE-ready small cells in two UK cities, delivering speeds of up to 90Mbps.
Dubbed Small Cells as a Service (SCaaS) by the company, the er, service, is designed to address some of the mobile operators’ key concerns about small cell deployments – in particular with regard to site acquisition and backhaul. But the UK cable provider admits that its talks with potential operator customers still have some way to go before any contracts are likely to be inked.
Virgin wants to facilitate the roll out of metrocell networks in urban centres by providing access to key locations such as street furniture, which can then be used as a platform for operators’ small cell installations. An important added benefit for the MNOs is access to Virgin Media’s high-capacity fibre optic network for backhauling their traffic.
The industry chip shop was serving up plenty of freshly cooked produce this week. US giant Intel was showing off its next generation mobile silicon, targeted at slightly larger screen devices like tablets. The Clover Trail Z2760 is a dual core, quad threaded unit clocked to 1.8GHz, with support for 2GB of RAM and 3D graphics acceleration provided by PowerVR SGX545 core. The chipset is an updated version of the Medfield smartphone platform with improved power management. It’s widely expected to find its way into Windows 8 tablet devices soon.
Silicon heavyweight Qualcomm also released three Snapdragons, with the MSM8225Q and MSM8625Q S4 Play processors offering OEMs both dual core and quad core CPUs and performance for entry-level smartphones, with the more advanced version featuring higher bus bandwidth, larger screen resolution support, HD video and enhanced user experiences. The S4 Plus MSM8930 is targeted towards the Chinese market and will support all China operators with UMTS, CDMA and TD-SCDMA.
The Big Q’s latest wares are designed specifically for high volume smartphones, providing device manufacturers the ability to migrate their existing Snapdragon S1-based designs to S4 dual- and quad-core CPU-based designs. Processors will be ready for customer sampling by end of 2012 and are expected to be shipping in commercial devices in the first quarter of 2013.
The Informer’s catching up with Rob Chandhok, SVP of Qualcomm’s semiconductor unit, as well as president of the internet services division, in a couple of weeks, so watch this space for some more insight.
There was an interesting development from Intel’s arch rival AMD too, which has been investing in, and working with an application framework from BlueStacks. The result is that AMD-based PCs and laptops can now run native Android applications within Microsoft Windows.
BlueStacks does all of the magic which takes apps originally designed for phones and tablets and pretties them up for a big screen, high resolution experience. It also syncs the apps and messages between the PC and an Android mobile device. Smart.
As part of the Informer’s newfound interest in finance, courtesy of his new chums on Banking Technology magazine, he’s been following the trials and tribulations of digital currency BitCoin. You may remember that a small New York-based BitCoin exchange, BitFloor, was recently hacked and $250,000 worth of gold coins were nicked. Now rather than shut down the exchange, BitFloor has apparently received loads of support from the BitCoin community and its owners somehow intend to repay the victims of the theft.
Now BitCoin transactions are mostly anonymous and very secure – if you have the keys, you are in control of the money unless you relinquish those keys. Now the transactional movements of actual BitCoins are publically recorded, so it’s known that the thief hasn’t performed any transactions, and it seems unlikely that they will any time soon. So the stolen BitCoins have effectively been removed from circulation and as the BitCoin ecosystem is based on a finite number of coins, hasn’t this theft just boosted the value of all the other BitCoins still in circulation? Every cloud and all that…
Speaking of clouds, Steely Kneelie, the European Commission’s vice president for the digital agenda, this week unveiled the EC’s cloud computing strategy. Actually, that’s not strictly true. In fact she “unleashed” it. The Commission’s plan for EU-wide cloud services is called “Unleashing the potential for cloud computing in Europe” and the Ec claims that it will create 2.5 million jobs and boost EU GDP to the tune of €160bn annually by 2020.
“Cloud computing is a game-changer for our economy,” said Kroes in a statement. “Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains. We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe. We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head-on.”
The Commission believes that the absence of common standards and contracts is dissuading enterprises from embracing cloud services, with fears around the safety of internal and customer data paramount. A proposed European Strategy for Cyber Security is to be put forward “in the coming months”, the Commission said.
Which gives us all something to look forward to.