Thursday, February 28, 2013

Commercializing flexible display screens: New R&D

USA: Research and development of flexible display screens has been a growing trend amongst consumer electronics manufacturers attempting to commercialize the technology. The market prospects look promising for the prospective players in the flexible display screen devices ecosystem.

While the flexible display screens market has yet to establish itself, the first devices based on flexible display technology will be launched in the latter part of 2013. Companies like Samsung are planning to capitalize on this new technology by being the first to market with the introduction of a mobile device equipped with a flexible display screen.

While flexible display screens are still a very new technology expect this industry to flourish over the next five years. According to Visiongain's new report, "Global Flexible Display Screens Market 2013-2018 Bendable Screens for Smartphones, Tablets, E-readers/E-Paper, TV's and PC's" the global flexible display screens market will reach $260.3 million in 2013. Although still in the early phase compared to other technologies which have been tried and tested, flexible display screens will become the benchmark technology for mobile devices and TVs by the end of the forecast period in 2018.

Not just for mobile phones, LED flexible displays also represent an exciting future in curtain and drapery walls. However, the light emitting diode (LED) market, despite exciting innovative devices driven by technological advances and ecological/energy-saving concerns, still face challenges in overcoming performance/price limitations and in attracting widespread consumption.

The use of HB-LED Driver ICs in general lighting, as well as several other applications discussed in Electronicast's report "High Brightness LED Driver Integrated Circuits Global Market Forecast and Analysis (2012-2019)", is increasing. For example, in the general lighting application, the increase in consumption is initially driven from government-based retrofitting projects - then to commercial/business - and eventually to the consumer-level.

According to ElectroniCast, the worldwide total consumption value of HB-LED Driver ICs reached $1.79 billion in 2012. During the 2012-2019 timeline, the consumption value will grow at an average annual rate of 27 percent to $9.59 billion in the year 2019.

Meanwhile, as transparent conductive film markets continue to leverage the expanding market opportunities related to mobile communication and media devices of smart phones and tablets among others, demand for more flexible film is increasing. According to a new report, "Touch Panel Transparent Conductive Film Market Shares, Strategy, and Forecasts, Worldwide, Nanotechnology, 2013 to 2019" the Touch Panel Transparent Conductive Film TCF market posted $956 million in 2012 and is expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2019.

ITO is an entrenched technology for displays manufacturing. Indium tin oxide (ITO) has been the transparent conductive film technology for touch screens. Newer technology will erode ITO and provide improved functionality as lower prices. Transparent conductive film supports electronic device usability.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Skyworks unveils power-optimized backlight drivers for smartphones and tablets

Mobile World Congress 2013, SPAIN: Skyworks Solutions Inc. has introduced several new backlight LED drivers supporting next-generation smartphones and tablets.

Skyworks’ family of highly efficient, integrated, multi-channel products are tailored to support display panels ranging in size from 4 to 12 inches, significantly enhancing image quality and resolution while maximizing battery life. The multi-channel architecture and highly efficient, DC/DC boost-technology enable LED backlight driver efficiencies exceeding 90 percent and facilitate superior dimming performance.

“Skyworks is excited to be offering smartphone and tablet providers a broad range of analog power management and lighting solutions,” said John O’Neill, VP and GM of power, lighting and display at Skyworks.

“The need for increasingly complex solutions to help meet consumers’ insatiable desire for longer battery life and better image quality from their mobile devices represents a strategic growth opportunity for Skyworks. Given our broad product portfolio and in-house, RF and analog systems design expertise, Skyworks is uniquely positioned to address these needs particularly as our customers seek highly integrated architectures that deliver best-in-class performance.”

According to IHS iSuppli, shipments of smartphones with screens 5 inches or larger will more than double this year to over 60 million units in 2013 as consumers are increasingly attracted to larger screen sizes. Currently, large-screen phones represent approximately 7 percent of the overall smartphone market.

Through its power management portfolio which includes LED flash and backlight drivers, discrete voltage regulators, PMICs and battery management devices, Skyworks is increasing its dollar content per platform in some of the fastest growing market segments. With customers placing greater value on total solutions, Skyworks is creating highly integrated solutions and shortening development cycles for next-generation products.

Google music streaming could dent Spotify growth

Mark Little, consumer analyst at Ovum

SPAIN: Google’s new music streaming service is reportedly expected to launch in the Autumn this year, an event that is sure to cause a major stir in the offices of Spotify and Apple.

If Google can negotiate a deal that embeds the new service in Android and fully leverages other assets most importantly You Tube, then the Internet prime has the potential to take a significant slice of the $5.6bn digital music market as well as make a dent in Spotify and Apple iTunes growth.

Whilst the possibilities are exciting, there are still a few barriers it must work hard to resolve; record labels will be concerned about controlling Google strategically, they won’t want another Apple with significant market power and negotiating advantage, capable of killing off  smaller music players; choices of business model will also be strictly limited to prevent Google undercutting the market with over-generous free services; the mountain view company is still to resolve disagreements with the RIAA regards infringers of music copyright in search rankings; and it remains to be seen how a Google branded subscription service will be viewed by a digital population increasingly wary of the company’s handling of its personal data.

Given the length of past negotiations with Apple and Spotify, the launch of a fully thought through Google music streaming proposition in September might be a little optimistic.

19.5”W to be new focus for monitor brands

TAIWAN: According to the shipment survey by WitsView, the display research division of the global intelligence provider TrendForce, the global top 10 LCD monitor brands held a total shipment volume of 10.61 million units in January 2013 surging 11 percent from December last year and growing 6.5 percent from the same period last year.

The significant growth can mainly be contributed to the following factors:
1. The previous shipment basis period was lower as December 2012 was the relative bottom in Q4 for most brands;
2. Certain February demands were advanced to January as during the Lunar New Year holidays in February, most brands distributed some February demands to retail channels in advance;
3. Brands boosted sales for the financial year-end as January was the financial year-end for Dell and quarter-end for some brands who wished to achieve excellent results.
As most brands shipped some February demands in advance, with fewer working days in February, the February shipment is expected to decline 15-20 percent from January. The January shipment showed positive growth from the same period last year, but the reason for the growth was that the Lunar New Year fell in January in 2012, if the combined shipment of January and February 2012 is compared to that of this year, the decline is projected to be 8 percent, showing no sign of rebounding at the demand end.
WitsView projects that the global monitor brands’ shipment in Q1 2013 will drop trim 6.4 percent QoQ. The AIO shipment in Q1 will benefit from Apple’s delayed timing for large distribution of new models from Q4 last year to Q1 this year, which will boost the overall AIO shipment as much as 15-20 percent QoQ. If the AIO shipment is included, the LCD monitor shipment will decline only 4.4 percent in 1Q13.

WitsView’s research assistant manager Anita Wang indicates that the new size 19.5”W LCD monitor is the new bright spot focused by all brand vendors in 2013, the product pricing depends on brands’ strategic concerns, which range from expanding market share to lifting revenue and determine the selling prices, and the reasonable price will be set between 19”W and 20”W.

The five brands, Acer, AOC, Philips, ViewSonic, and ASUS have led the way to mass-produce the 19.5”W LCD monitors in Q4 2012. The remaining brands have to enter the 19.5”W market later mainly on concern of the single panel source or relations with panel suppliers.
Most brands’ retail selling price of the 19.5”W LCD monitor is similar to that of 20”W mainly because the current 19.5”W panel supply is limited. On the other hand, panel makers are gradually trimming the 20”W panel supply, and brands have no needs to set too low prices at the beginning as the new product aims at profits.

However, some brands adopt reverse pricing strategy by targeting China for trial and sell at a comparable retail price as that of the 18.5”W low-priced model, adding a major uncertainty to all brands’ strategy manipulations.

Evernote hits 1 million users in India

INDIA: Evernote, the company that is helping the world remember everything, has crossed 1 million users in India.

The Evernote service was launched in 2008 and has been adding a number of features since. It allows users to capture, organize, and find information across multiple platforms. Users can take notes, clip webpages, snap photos using their mobile phones, create to-dos, and record audio.

All data is synchronized with the Evernote web service and made available to clients on Windows, Mac, Web, and mobile devices. Additionally, the Evernote service performs indexing on incoming notes, making printed or handwritten text in images searchable.

“User adoption for Evernote in India started slowly, but picked up at a rapid pace in the last two years. The global user base of Evernote is more than 50 million today and in India now we’ve hit a million,” said Linda Kozlowski, director of Market Development, APAC for Evernote.

“Like our CEO, Phil, always says, we built Evernote for ourselves, it was something we wanted to use and now we love and rely on it. We quickly realized that there were many more like us who really appreciate the product. Having a million users in India is evidence of Evernote’s value across regions and cultures.”

India is one of the priority markets for Evernote today, and this milestone is a foundation for the company to further penetrate the market. Enclosed below are a few statistics tracking Evernote’s growth in India.

* On an average, Evernote added 92,000 users per month in India over the last three months.
* Growth is accelerating. Evernote has three times as many users as 12 months ago and 12 times as many users as two years ago.
* Evernote has the most users on Android, followed by Evernote Web and Evernote Windows, respectively.
* The most notes in India have been created on Windows , closely followed by Android.

DMTF standards gain global recognition

USA: Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), the organization bringing the IT industry together to collaborate on systems management standards development, validation, promotion and adoption, announced that its Platform Management and Web Services Management standards have been adopted as national and international standards respectively.

The Platform Management standard was adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), while the Web Services Management standard was adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). These achievements mark a significant step forward for the organization in enabling interoperable IT management standards worldwide.

“ANSI and ISO standardization are important benchmarks for many organizations and government bodies when determining which technologies to implement,” said Hemal Shah, DMTF VP of Technology. “Adoption and recognition of the Platform Management and Web Services Management standards by these organizations provide additional credibility, while increasing the accessibility of these solutions to IT managers.”

DMTF’s Platform Management standard provides a comprehensive, common architecture for improved communication between management subsystem components. Use of the standard allows hardware and software developers, equipment providers and device manufacturers to quickly and cost-effectively develop and deploy management subsystems.

The Web Services Management specification addresses the cost and complexity of IT management by providing a common way for systems to access and exchange management information across the entire IT infrastructure. Deployments that support the specification enable managers in a variety of IT environments to access devices on their networks remotely. Both specifications provide sufficient efficiency and cost savings advantages for IT managers industry-wide.

With the increasing need for flexibility, availability and performance in today's organizations, standards-based management solutions for IT professionals are becoming progressively more important throughout the industry. The additional accreditation of ISO/IEC and ANSI/INCITS helps to ensure that products and solutions based on standards meet the necessary requirements and will perform adequately.

AVer launches digital whiteboard with live interactive video and more for iPad

USA:  AVer Information Inc., a leading provider of visual collaboration solutions, announced the launch of two products - TabCam and TabSync - that maximize the iPad's potential in the classroom.

AVer's new TabCam allows educators to create and present lessons that are interactive, dynamic and engaging while turning the lessons into video resources that students can revisit anywhere, anytime. TabSync is one of the most cost-effective solutions to easily charge, store and move iPads.

TabCam is the first solution that combines a lightweight and portable wireless camera with an iPad app that not only receives live video from the TabCam, but also allows educators to fully customize and record the video with digital ink, narration and photos to share with students or even the world.

TabSync is the only under $2,000 sync and charge cart for 32 iPads with LED status indicators and dividers that fit almost any iPad case.  

"From eTextbooks, apps and more, there is a fundamental difference today in how curriculum is being presented and understood, with iPads leading the way," says Kris Rangarajan , marketing director, AVer. "The AVer TabCam solves a missing and critical element by allowing educators to transport their live classroom environment into their iPad lessons. From demonstrations, experiments, presentations and more, nothing is as simple as hitting record while performing, handwriting thoughts with digital ink and sharing instantly - perfect for the Flipped or Blended classroom."

TabCam is a completely wireless solution that communicates to its App via a standard 802.11 b/g/n WiFi access point. As long as TabCam and the iPad App are on the same network, the camera will push live video to the App from anywhere within the network no matter the distance. The App, available in the Apple App store:

* Displays and records live broadcasts wirelessly.
* Enables educators to write notes and highlight key elements on an iPad screen during live video.
* Includes an editable digital whiteboard from which users can flip back-and-forth to live video while recording the entire screen.
* Allows instant sharing of the video via YouTube, Dropbox, Facebook and more.

TabSync is a portable, easy-to-use cart that can simultaneously sync, charge, transport and securely store up to 32 iPads in padded, numbered slots. The .96" slot was designed specifically to fit almost any iPad case. Whenever an iPad is placed in a slot and connected to a dock connector cable, charging and synching begins. LED lights that correlate with the numbered slots indicate when an iPad is ready for use again.

The cart has slot-in double doors with a three-point latching mechanism along with a wall mount attachment for added security. It also features full 2.1 amp charging power from a single power cord as well as three outlets on top of the unit that's perfect to power a Mac, document camera and more.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

VEFXi joins International 3D Society

USA: In late 2012 VEFXi Corp., a leader in 2D to 3D conversion products and software was invited to join the International 3D Society (I3DS). VEFXi’s founder and CEO, Craig Peterson now sits on the I3DS Board of Governors beside Grant Anderson of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Ron Geller of Dolby Laboratories, Bob Whitehill of PIXAR amongst others.

In February 2013, part of the VEFXi team attended the fourth annual 3D Creative Arts Awards Ceremony hosted by the I3DS in Beverly Hills, CA.

“We’re very excited and proud to be serving alongside the likes of such influential colleagues and look forward to playing an even more prominent role in the industry,” said Craig Peterson. VEFXi’s ambition and current successes of disrupting the 3D industry with breakthrough products and software correlate with the International 3D Society’s goals in advancing the art and technologies of stereoscopic 3D content.

Although the society deals primarily with those professionals dealing with stereoscopic 3D, VEFXi has game changing products coming down the pipeline involving auto-stereoscopic 3D (glasses-free 3D) and was interviewed at the awards show about the glasses-free 3D LED walls that VEFXi is working on.

Professional boundary-scan toolset smashes price threshold

Embedded World, GERMANY: JTAGLive Studio is a comprehensive package of JTAG/boundary-scan tools that enable designers and manufacturing test engineers alike to develop complete test and programming applications - at an unprecedented [low] price level.

The benefits offered by the JTAG Technology for debugging, testing and in-system programming are not limited to complex designs with many JTAG devices. Designs with only a few, even just one or two, JTAG devices can also greatly benefit from this technology during all stages of the life cycle. A toolset capable of handling even the most (very) complex boundary-scan designs, however, often is not economically feasible for a company that only uses a few JTAG devices in its designs.

JTAGLive Studio establishes a new class of test and device-programming tool-set that dramatically lowers the cost of entry for test and hardware engineers, while still offering the many traditional benefits of JTAG/boundary-scan alongside newer technologies like processor-controlled test.

JTAGLive Studio works with or without design netlist data and can be used to test interconnects (from individual nets to an entire board), logic clusters, memories and more. Studio also includes device programming features that support JAM/STAPL and SVF data formats for CPLD and [FPGA] configuration PROM programming.

It can be further used to program flash and serial PROMs. Low-cost options for accessing the debug modes of ’processor cores allows cut-price access to techniques known variously as Processor Controlled Test and JTAG Emulation Test. A dedicated, USB-powered, TAP interface/controller with programmable thresholds is also supplied as part of the Studio system.

Many of the cluster test and memory programming features are provided through high-level easy-to-use Python language JTAG script routines, called through Studio’s embedded API. Moreover, Python power can again be used to construct stand-alone test sequences in conjunction with 3rd party, open source libraries such as the tkinter graphics set.

Hover-Davis announces appointment of AdoptSMT as its distributor in Austria and Switzerland

AUSTRIA: Hover-Davis, a global leader in the design and manufacture of SMT component delivery solutions, announced the expansion of AdoptSMT Europe GmbH sales and support distribution adding the countries of Austria and Switzerland to its territory that already includes the UK, Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Greece and Malta.

AdoptSMT Group has successfully distributed Hover-Davis products throughout Europe since 2006.   In this expansion of its relationship with AdoptSMT Group Hover-Davis is pleased to include full Austrian and Swiss sales and support and distribution authority to AdoptSMT Europe offices in Grödig (near Salzburg) Austria and Teufen, Switzerland. Customers in Austria and Switzerland may now purchase Hover-Davis tape and label feeders from directly through AdoptSMT exclusive of a pick and place equipment investment.

Mike Cyr, Hover-Davis GM, said: “AdoptSMT has continued to expand sales, service and support coverage throughout Europe in recent years adding regionally focused service centers, staffing and offices that provide cost effective and expedited expert knowledge. In that respect we are very excited to offer our Hover-Davis customers direct access to AdoptSMT in their home market. With headquarters in Grödig and an established office in Switzerland, AdoptSMT is uniquely positioned to service the SiPlace replacement market as well as service the growing demands for label feeding along with our other feeder products.

"The replacement feeder market is increasingly affected by obsolescence, longer lead-times and availability. These are all challenges that AdoptSMT successfully overcomes for it’s customers through their focus into this market and our mutual cooperation. Customers in the Austria and Switzerland may now enjoy this expanded support through AdoptSMT."

Erhard Hofmann, MD, AdoptSMT Europe GmbH, notes: “Our sales team is very excited that we are recognized for our ongoing successes including expansion of services and offices, staffing and also the success of the 2011 Feeder Trade-In program. Austria and Switzerland are very important markets for us. We are very excited to directly support our local customers with new Hover-Davis tape and label feeders. Now we can also better approach and support customers with headquarters in Austria or Switzerland and factories in the neighbouring Central and Eastern European countries.”

SPIRIT DSP releases VideoMost 2.5

SPAIN: SPIRIT DSP has announced a new version of its multipoint web videoconferencing software, VideoMost 2.5.

The new version allows 50 simultaneous interactive videoconferencing participants in one conference room, and additional broadcasting of the conference to up to 500 people who can view and listen to the discussion in real-time or recorded. VideoMost 2.5 enables telcos and service providers to launch SaaS multipoint videoconferencing under their own brand and billing in a matter of days, allowing them to quickly build new revenue streams and customer loyalty against OTT videoconferencing providers such as Microsoft and Webex.

“VideoMost 2.5 allows for massively multipoint, interactive speakers' participation and real-time conversation with up to 50 people participating in a roundtable discussion, and each person can speak at any time ― while our global competitors only offer a maximum of nine interactive video participants," said Andrew Sviridenko, SPIRIT DSP chairman.

"VideoMost 2.5 includes the added ability to broadcast, allowing 500 other people to view and listen to the discussion in real time or recorded. It's a great tool for collaboration engagements, such as interactive virtual sales meetings or product training for up to 50 professionals that can also be viewed by 500 additional remote employees or partners. The number of conference rooms is limited only by the service providers' hardware server farm capacity.”

VideoMost 2.5 multipoint videoconferences are designed for enterprise collaboration, social enterprise networks, round table discussions, interactive educational workshops, and other activities that involve active participation of speakers. VideoMost 2.5 reveals opportunities for remote broadcasting to a wide audience and conference recording ― features highly demanded by today's businesses and government organizations.

VideoMost software server supports an unprecedented 1000 concurrent video channels per each $4000 PC hardware server, dramatically cutting down service providers' costs for a hardware video server infrastructure. VideoMost is targeted at enterprise customers in partnership with telcos and service providers as a SAAS under the telcos' own brand and billing.

Lunar new year sales surged 9.4 percent YoY in China and restocking momentum for May 1st will continue

TAIWAN: According to the survey of WitsView, the display research division of TrendForce, and its Chinese partnerΣintell, the LCD TV sales for Chinese Lunar New Year in 2013 during 24th December-6th January and 28th January-10th February attained 5.705 million units, growing 9.4 percent YoY.

Among these, the two weeks for the New Year holidays and two weeks for the Lunar New Year holidays held YoY growths of 5.9 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively, meeting and better than expectations.
WitsView’s research director Burrell Liu indicates that there were three reasons for the sales growth. Firstly, China’s economic situation and indicators stabilized; secondly, the weather during the Lunar New Year holidays was better than last year, supporting consumers’ purchases; thirdly, the promotion period during the New Year holidays was extended and closely followed by the Lunar New Year promotions.

Based on the related statistics on the Lunar New Year sales, the sales results for China top six brands climbed 18 percent YoY, higher than expected, the inventory after holidays dropped 2.2 weeks to 5.9 weeks, and the sales penetration rates for 3D and above 50” lifted to 42 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

The MoM growth for the 42”- 49” sales was 2.1 percent, while the LCD TVs conforming to energy-saving regulations controlled a penetration rate surging to 91 percent from 43 percent, showing the energy-saving subsidy policy took traction.

Σintell projects the TV volume subsidized by the policy from January to May 2013 will reach 15.59 million units, and the subsidy amount is also expected to climb from RMB295 to RMB333 per unit. The following restocking for May 1st will be activated again and mark the first promotional battle of high resolution TVs (4K2K) in China.

Top six brands all devote to developments, Innolux and CSOT are relatively active while Innolux develops high resolution 39” products to respond.
According to WitsView, the sales results for Lunar New Year in China meet or are better than expectations, and the positive news will stir the restocking momentum before May 1st.

The atmosphere in China will lead prices of certain panel sizes to stabilize in March, but the structural inventory issue may surface again after May 1st on the end of the subsidy policy and the coming of the slow season. The unstable panel prices will show again if panel makers can not adjust capacity appropriately.

CommVault Simpana 10 delivers an exponential leap in data and information management

DUBAI: CommVault is enabling enterprises to take an exponential leap forward in protecting and managing their data at scale, creating value from information and improving access with the latest release of the company’s singular data management software platform, Simpana 10.

Simpana 10 extends CommVault’s data protection and archiving leadership to deliver secure, self-service access from mobile devices, speed the adoption of cloud computing and extract value from Big Data. For the first time, employees across the enterprise – not just IT managers -- can easily repurpose data under management and quickly search, access, create information to enable better decision making and collaboration.

More than 300 new features in Simpana 10 combine to reduce risk, slash costs by up to half, reduce administrative overhead by up to 80 percent and lower aggregate support costs by up to 35 percent.

CommVault also launched new enterprise consulting and professional services, educational offerings, including new predictive analytics support. CommVault will showcase Simpana 10 innovations worldwide starting today at its “Power of 10” event in New York City.

Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI 4.0 accelerates VDI adoption

USA: At the VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) 2013, Atlantis Computing, the award-winning leader in data center storage optimization solutions, released Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI 4.0.

The new release is the first solution that enables Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View customers to run persistent virtual desktops In-Memory using RAM as primary storage, making persistent virtual desktops cheaper and faster than physical PCs. The solution delivers a better-than-PC user experience at an infrastructure cost that is less than $300 per desktop, while at the same time fully automating the deployment for thousands of users.

Most IT organizations would prefer to deploy persistent virtual desktops because that deployment model is the least disruptive to an IT organization. It uses the same desktop images already deployed on PCs, as well as the existing tools and processes already in place and perfected over the last several years to maintain and upgrade those images.

However, without Atlantis ILIO, persistent desktops require so much storage to achieve the same level of performance as a PC that most organization cannot afford to deploy them. The cost of storage typically drives up the combined CAPEX and OPEX cost of the infrastructure (server, storage and network) to $1,000-$2,000 per desktop in order to deliver equal-to-PC performance.

CSR brings quality Bluetooth audio to entry-level portable music speakers

Mobile World Congress 2013. SPAIN: CSR plc introduced the BlueCore CSR8605 single-chip ROM Bluetooth music streaming device, a cost-optimised, highly configurable solution that delivers a quality audio experience to the extremely price-sensitive entry-level market for wireless portable music speakers.

Bluetooth 4.0 qualified, the highly integrated CSR8605 device builds upon the tremendous success CSR has already achieved in this market with a next-generation design offering rich music enhancement capabilities usually found only in much higher-featured products.

Key features include five-band music equalisation, volume boost and remote control (AVRCP) support to enable users to Play/Pause and Forward/Rewind streaming music from buttons on their portable music speaker.

“Bluetooth technology has captured the market for shared listening as the connectivity choice for streaming music from smartphones and tablets to wireless portable speakers,” said Chris Havell, senior director of Audio at CSR. “The CSR8605 device embodies CSR’s pedigree for Bluetooth audio quality to deliver a cost-optimised solution specifically tailored for differentiated entry-level portable music speaker products.”

The device is already shipping in volume to ODMs and OEMs, and a variety of wireless portable speaker products will be available this year under popular brand names.

The CSR8605 device is a low-power mono A2DP sink solution that enables a new class of quality, low-cost portable wireless music speakers. This low-power solution integrates a Bluetooth radio, baseband, an enhanced Kalimba DSP co-processor, mono audio DAC and ADC, battery charger, application software and an extensive array of I/O interfaces, including I2C, three LED drivers and plenty of general purpose PIOs in a single chip.

The integrated peripherals in the QFN packaged device reduce the number of external components required, including no requirement for external codec, battery charger, SMPS, LDOs or balun, to ensure minimum system and manufacturing costs.

As the latest addition to CSR’s Bluetooth audio ROM solutions, the CSR8605 offers the ability to customise many of the software features to achieve a particular sound and ambience, and create a quality portable experience. The CSR Configuration Tool offers ease of design with the flexibility to differentiate, and can be used to adjust Bluetooth 4.0 specification features, reconnection policies (like reconnect on power-on), a variety of audio features including five-band equalisation with up to six banks of user selectable presets, button events, voice prompts, LED indications, event tones, battery divider ratios, advanced multipoint settings for connecting to up to two A2DP sources, and more.

The CSR8605 also supports CSR proximity pairing and CSR proximity connection for fast and easy wireless music sharing enjoyment.

The BlueCore CSR8605 Bluetooth music streaming device is available now in production quantities.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sony launches Xperia Tablet Z

SPAIN: Off the back of its launch of the Xperia Z at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Sony has chosen Mobile World Congress to launch its partner product, the Xperia Tablet Z. As with its stablemate, the Tablet Z is aimed at the premium market and is an exquisite-looking device that also uses the company’s unique “OmniBalance” design. Also, the Xperia Tablet Z will launch on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean).

Billed as the world's thinnest tablet at just 6.9 mm and lightweight at 495g, the Tablet Z sports a 10.1in HD screen and is dust and water resistant. It will appear only as a 16GB device with the ability to add further memory through micro SD. The device will come in black-and-white, and LTE and Wi-Fi-only versions.

The device is packed with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and S-Force Front Surround 3D. It features an 8MP rear camera and 2MP HD front camera plus, as with most Sony products, it also comes with Near Field Communication (NFC).

With this latest tablet, Sony brings together both a quality physical aspect and a superior entertainment experience to bear on the product, manifested through its precision engineering and high-end components. Although intended as additional proof of the company’s desire to be as a lead player in the premium Android device market, the new Tablet Z will undoubtedly go head-to-head with Apple’s iPad.

Many have tried and failed to compete with the iPad in the premium 10in tablet space and, at first glance, it is difficult to see how Sony expects to achieve this. However, once consumers get to touch and feel the device, notably for its incredible thinness, light weight and gorgeous styling, it should stand out as a serious competitor with tangible points of differentiation.

Having only one 16GB model, albeit with varying options for add-ons and colour, also helps as it will make the choice for the consumer much easier. They will not be bemused by any major upticks in price owing to the addition of cellular connectivity and increments of on-board memory. But pricing will be crucial to the success of the device, as will the channels to market.

It will be interesting to see whether Sony positions the Tablet Z closer to its smartphone partner, or more towards its TV business as a companion device. Either way, there is no doubt that, at the right price, the Tablet Z will be a sure-fire hit with consumers in the premium segment, it’s just whether the brand still has a significant presence in this target market.

SymTA/S 3.3 features significant new timing analysis and design capabilities

GERMANY: Symtavision has launched SymTA/S 3.3, a major new version of its award-winning system-level tool suite for planning, optimizing and verifying embedded real-time systems.

SymTA/S 3.3 features significant new timing analyses including support for FlexRay System Distribution, the new CAN-FD standard, Buffer Fill Level analysis for COM and Gateways, as well as enhanced Gantt chart customization. Major improvements to the design features of SymTA/S 3.3 include a new Customizable Wizard Framework and improved drag-and-drop functionality providing resolution of dependencies.

At the same time, Symtavision has announced TraceAnalyzer 3.3, a new version of its powerful solution for visualizing and analyzing timing data from both measurements and simulations which seamlessly integrates with SymTA/S.

Commenting on the launch of SymTA/S 3.3, Dr. Marek Jersak, CEO of Symtavision said: “The launch of SymTA/S 3.3 and TraceAnalyzer 3.3 represent a significant step forward for timing design and timing verification of embedded real-time systems.

"The new analyses and further improved design features address the market trend for timing-aware system design, as well as specific requirements of our customers who need to create high performance, reliable and safe embedded systems in the automotive, aerospace and industrial automation markets.”

Zenterio’s first commercial launch together with a global system integrator partner

SWEDEN: Zenterio, which develops an independent software platform for interactive TV, has launched its first commercial system together with a global system integrator partner. The launch was made together with a Mexican TV operator and marks the first reference case in North America.

Swedish software company Zenterio announced today a large sales and licensing agreement with a global leading System Integrator and a Mexican TV operator. The TV operator has rolled out a green field IPTV hybrid service together with Zenterio OS supporting broadcast IPTV, ATSC terrestrial, VoD and interactive content via IP.
The service will be rolled out to 100,000 to 200,000 new users per year. This is an important milestone for Zenterio’s collaboration with global system integrator partners and also to get the first reference case in North America.

“This landmark deal of Zenterio’s first commercial launch together with a global system integrator partner and the fact that we now can contribute to the most advanced TV hybrid solution in the rapidly growing Mexican market is a huge step forward during this exciting expansion period for us,” said Per Skyttvall, CEO of Zenterio.

Marking a new phase for Zenterio, the North American deal is one of several large deals in the works and comes on the heels of the company’s announcement that it is strengthening its leadership with the addition of Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo as board chairman and Mats Lindoff as CTO.

SPB TV enriches multi-screen TV solution with UI and second screen app

SPAIN: SPB TV, a provider of technology solutions for mobile, IP and OTT (over-the-top) TV brings to Barcelona the next generation of its end-to-end multi-screen TV solution.

SPB TV will showcase at the MWC 2013 new user-friendly TV apps dedicated for iOS, Android, Symbian and Windows 8, as well an OTT web-based interface available on all devices. Other updates include the SPB TV second-screen application, bringing augmented TV viewing experience to the subscribers, and new SPB TV Media Platform 5.0 with increased reliability and sustainability.

SPB TV is introducing new user interfaces (UI) perfectly tailored for each of the major mobile operating systems: iOS, Android, and Symbian, as well as existing clients for all other mobile platforms. Windows 8 fans will be excited to see a brand new app for Windows 8, designed in a genuine Metro style.

A new OTT/desktop version makes SPB TV service available on all devices supporting Internet browsers. The new UI is fun to use and easy to navigate and has a clean, well-organized design.

An exciting new second-screen mobile application is also being launched, enriching the in-home TV viewing experience with social sharing features and augmented reality elements. The app makes TV interactive, giving viewers additional useful information such as actor or director trivia, sport players’ and athletes’ bios and statistics, detailed recipes used in cooking shows, or even alternative movie endings.

The new SPB TV Media Platform 5.0 features a revolutionary technology for creating a sustainable CDN (Content Delivery Network) and transferring live and VoD TV channels to all video-enabled devices (Mobile, Desktop and TV) across large distances. The dedicated FEC (Forward Error Correction) technology prevents package loss even on RTSP video protocol. The other Platform enhancements include:

1. New Business Intelligence and reporting engine.
2. New CMS.
3. Updated advertising platform.
4. Encoders and Streamers v.2.

Second vector signal transceiver from NI extends innovative software-designed instrumentation platform

USA: National Instruments announced its second vector signal transceiver, the NI PXIe-5645R, which is built on a software-designed architecture that engineers can modify with LabVIEW to meet their specific needs.

The new vector signal transceiver adds a high-performance, differential or single-ended I/Q interface to test both the RF and baseband signals of a device with a single instrument for faster test times using the latest PC and FPGA technologies.

“The software-designed architecture of the new NI PXIe-5645R vector signal transceiver provides users with unprecedented flexibility for applications such as RF transceiver baseband test,” said Jin Bains, NI vice president of RF R&D.

Friday, February 22, 2013

WHIPTAIL taps NEI to handle manufacturing of all-flash arrays

USA: WHIPTAIL, the data storage-industry innovator powering faster and more energy-efficient computing for today’s global businesses via its innovative flash storage arrays, has partnered with global manufacturer NEI to meet demand for WHIPTAIL’s family of products.

NEI provides application platforms, deployment solutions and lifecycle support services for software technology developers and OEMs worldwide. It is known for its expertise in storage, security and communications. WHIPTAIL chose NEI as its manufacturing partner because the company has extensive experience in solution design, manufacture, global logistics and lifecycle management.

By leveraging NEI’s qualified procedures and process, WHIPTAIL has been able to speed time to market for its storage arrays while minimizing the effort and resources that WHIPTAIL would otherwise expend, enabling it to concentrate on its core business.

“We’ve been shipping product for a little more than two years now, and have broken the 200 customer threshold,” said WHIPTAIL CEO Dan Crain. “When we were a small company, we could handle our own manufacturing, but that’s not the case anymore. NEI has a commitment to quality workmanship and very efficient business operations. They take pride in delivering and supporting a high-quality, reliable product, and that’s what our customers expect.”

For NEI, adding WHIPTAIL is another validation of its LEAD (Lifecycle Engine for Application Deployment) System, which includes all steps from design, integration, management, logistics and more. NEI’s LEAD model is perfectly suited to help software developers like WHIPTAIL deliver and support powerful, affordable appliance solutions to meet their schedules and competitive performance criteria.

“We have a unique skill set in this industry that enables young companies to economically and efficiently bring their products to market and compete with established players on a level playing field,” said Jeff Hudgins, VP of marketing at NEI. “Our customers range from startups to Fortune 500 enterprises, and each benefits from our engineering expertise and manufacturing capabilities to solve the numerous challenges involved in getting an application to market.”

NEI manufactures WHIPTAIL’s full range of all-flash storage arrays, including the ACCELA and the hyperscale INVICTA for customers worldwide.

PayPal expands PayPal Here to other markets

AUSTRALIA: PayPal says the swipe based version of PayPal Here has been well received in the US, and it makes sense for it to develop a chip and pin version that can be pitched in Europe and other markets that use this technology.

According to Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum, “The UK is the logical place to start as it is PayPal’s second biggest market outside of the US with some 18 million active users.

“PayPal has taken pains over the PayPal chip and pin device, which was designed and built in the UK and over a year in the making.  But it will come with a price tag and this will need to be competitive given the solution is meant for small businesses. PayPal says this will be the case – it is not looking to make money from the device itself.

"Mobile credit card reader solutions appear to address a genuine need in the market - an easy and convenient way for small businesses to accept card payments without having to invest in costly credit/debit card processing equipment.

"The market for these solutions is becoming increasingly competitive and PayPal Here is not the first of its kind in Europe, where the likes of iZettle, Payleven and mPowa have already launched. But  PayPal has an advantage in being an established, trusted payment provider with a high profile global brand.”  

No reason to be pessimistic! A come back for 9.7” iPad in H2

TAIWAN: Today, when low-priced tablets crowd the market, the 9.7” iPad, massively controlling more than 90 percent of the market two years ago, seems to lose ground under the price-cutting gun fires from its rivals and shows no Sales King’s luster as old days.

Apple’s launch of smaller and good-looking 7.85” iPad mini even aggravates the situation for the chubby iPad, further taking consumers’ attention away from it, and the recent sales can be described as gloomy and dime.

WitsView, the research division of the global market intelligence provider TrendForce, indicates that although the 9.7” iPad is in a defending position but, with the new generation product showcase in Q3, is likely to recover its reputation and regain the long-gone competitiveness advantages.

According to WitsView’s research director Eric Chiou, the 9.7” iPad seems to hobble, but if the new iPad’s competitiveness is analyzed from the four reasonable aspects, including industrial design, product positioning, costs and prices, and market segmentation, the following development is not pessimistic.

Firstly, for the improvement on product design itself, the next generation of iPad will apply the thin GF2 touch module of the same level as iPad mini and use the narrow bezel panel design to solve the issue of larger volume, thickness, and weight that have been criticized to gain a better balance for consumers in mobility and visual experiences.

Secondly, it is to underline the product positioning, the long-beloved iPad 2 is expected to retire with honor with the reveal of new iPad. Without the interference from the product of the same size and similarity, the new iPad will more easily perform its market uniqueness and at the same time diminish the factors that confuse consumers’ purchase decision as many as possible.      

Chiou believes that the third point is placed on the costs and prices as the new iPad has no plan to upgrade the resolution, to maintain the spec. of 2048x1536 is not new, but this spec. is not outdated when comparing to rival products of the same level. At the same time, it gains effective controls on panel yields and costs, and once the cost advantage is reflected to the selling price, iPad has more chances to revive consumers’ desire to buy with its more affordable price.

The last key point depends on the market segmentation, after the weary bombing of low-priced products one after another, the 7”-8” tablet market has only ashes that remained. Contrarily, in the segment of larger 9.7”-10.6”, in addition to that Android products’ price war hasn’t spread to this area, the previously highly- anticipated Microsoft’s Windows tablets have only poor sales on several factors such as prices and efficiency.

For iPad, as long as the product design and pricing strategy are carried out appropriately, iPad can easily gain the right to serve the ball in the “Eden” of the large-sized tablet market.

Based on WitsView’s estimates, as the small-sized tablets remain mainstream, along with iPad facing its production transition, the iPad shipment in H1 2013 will clearly lower than iPad mini while the two hold a ratio of 35 percent to 65 percent. However, the situation will change in the second half of the year as the new iPad will modify the competitiveness for the 9.7” product, and the shipment proportions between iPad and iPad will come to 50 percent to 50 percent.

WitsView indicates that although the iPad family runs into some turbulence, there is no reason to be pessimistic for this year’s shipment. It is expected to see an overall shipment volume as high as 82.1 million units, and in addition to the great performance of a 25 percent annual growth, it will reclaim the half of the brand tablet market.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Smart TVs represent over 25 percent of TV market in 2012

USA: More than one of every four television sets shipped worldwide in 2012 was a smart TV, with the rapid sales growth of these Internet-connected sets paving the way for them to account for more than half of the market by 2015.

Worldwide shipments of smart TVs amounted to 66 million units in 2012, up 27 percent from 52 million in 2011, according to the IHS Screen Digest TV Technology Service. This impressive growth gave smart TVs a 27 percent share of the total television market for the year.

By 2015, shipments are expected to rise to 141 million units and account for 55 percent of global television shipments, the first time they will make up more than half the market. The following year, shipments will expand to 173 million units, amounting to nearly two-thirds of the worldwide television total.

“Despite a decline in global television shipments in 2012, consumer demand for Internet-connected televisions soared during the year—and the surge in sales shows no signs of abating,” said Veronica Thayer, TV systems analyst at IHS. “Smart TVs are rapidly joining the mainstream as manufacturers refine their products to add new features and to make them easier to use.”

Smart TVs get smarter
Smart TVs are sets that have integrated Internet features. In addition to traditional broadcast media, smart TVs are designed to accommodate Internet-based television, over-the-top content and streaming video.

Smart TVs have come a long way from the first models introduced a few years ago. TV manufacturers have been continuously improving the user interface and features to make them more user friendly, creating multiple and innovating ways as well to control and interact with the TV set.

Some companies, including LG, Samsung and Sony, have focused on developing their own smart TV platforms. By doing so, these manufacturers are seeking ways to differentiate themselves from the competition and to add new hardware and software features that enhance the consumer experience.

Some of these features include content discovery, personalization of the home screen, recommendation engines, advanced controls—i.e., gesture, motion, and voice—and multiscreen capabilities.

Smart TV meets pay TV
One of the most promising features that can drive consumers to the purchase and use of smart TVs is partnership by a smart TV brand with pay-TV operators. Using smart TVs as a client device in a pay-TV household can help TV manufacturers distinguish their products in the marketplace, reduce customer premises equipment costs for operators and ultimately benefit consumers.

Proprietary impropriety
Even so, the proliferation of proprietary smart TV platforms has caused fragmentation and created problems for the developers of television apps.

TV manufacturers LG Electronics, TP Vision—for Philips TVs—and Toshiba founded the Smart TV Alliance in June 2012, to allow developers to create apps using open standard systems that can successfully run on all the platforms supported by the alliance. Panasonic joined the alliance in January 2013, and more companies are expected to sign up in the future.

Smart ideas
An emerging trend of “smart-ready” TV models has come about through the partnership announced by Roku during the Consumer Electronics Show in January with several TV manufacturers, including Coby, Hisense, TCL and Westinghouse. Using the smart-ready approach, any television enabled with a mobile high-definition link (MHL) can be turned into a smart TV using a Roku Streaming Stick.

These types of partnerships are highly valuable to second- and third-tier brands that wish to compete in the smart TV market.
For its part, Google TV has made some improvements since it was first launched in the market, more recently adding voice search and a new TV guide called “PrimeTime.” However, this has yet to resonate with consumers.

Sony released the first Google TV set in 2010, but now only sells it as a separate box, similar to the Vizio Co-Star and the Hisense Pulse. LG Electronics continues to offer smart TVs with Google TV, first introduced in 2012, on screen sizes ranging from 42 inches to 60 inches.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Top notebook manufacturers start 2013 on a weak note

USA: The world’s leading notebook PC original design manufacturers (ODM) will endure a bleak first quarter and slow first half in 2013, before ultrathin PC sales help revive the market later in the year, according to an IHS iSuppli PC Dynamics Market Brief.

Notebook PC shipments from the Top 5 ODMs are forecast to amount to 35.2 million units during the first quarter, down 15 percent from 41.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. While shipments commonly decline in the first quarter compared to the fourth, the drop this year is expected to be particularly sharp.

“Notebook ODMs in early 2013 are feeling the pain from the combined impacts of uncertain economic conditions and slower-than-expected sales of Ultrabook PCs,” said Peter Lin, senior analyst for compute platforms at IHS.

“Consumers are remaining wary as uncertainties linger in the global economy, and a slowing in the markets of Europe, China and the United States further depresses sales. More importantly, smartphones and tablets have been outselling notebook computers, and demand for Ultrabooks and other ultrathin PCs so far has not taken off as expected. However, an expected increase in demand for Ultrabooks and other ultrathins will help reignite notebook PC shipments from ODMs to their client OEMs in the second half.”

Taiwan on top
All based in Taiwan, the Top 5 notebook ODMs are employed by original equipment manufacturers (OEM), which use them on an outsourced or contract manufacturing basis in order to make computers that are then branded by the OEM to sell to the public. The key strengths of Taiwanese notebook ODMs include low manufacturing cost, flexibility, quick response and high vertical integration—qualities that most major notebook OEMs are keen to leverage in the design and manufacture of their own branded products.

Among OEMs, Hewlett-Packard last year outsourced its notebook PCs to Taiwanese-based ODMs like Quanta Computer, Compal, Wistron, Inventec, Pegatron and Hon Hai. Lenovo did the same, contracting out to Quanta, Compal, Wistron and Pegatron.

Meanwhile, the ODM Quanta had its hands full with orders from computer makers such as HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer, Asus, Toshiba, Apple, Sony and Fujitsu.

Within the ODM circle, No. 1 Quanta will suffer a decline of more than 10 percent in the first quarter, although its perch at the top will not be threatened as the giant manufacturer continues to be the biggest notebook ODM. In comparison, second-place Compal will see a drop of 5 to 10 percent, while No. 3 Wistron will also be down 10 percent on the quarter.

Ultrabooks to the rescue
After a shaky start, the notebook ODMs will start picking up steam as the year unfolds, IHS iSuppli believes.

Though not performing as expected last year, ultrathins are being given a new lease on life in 2013 in light of new features, including improved battery power, a form factor that lets the display be detached for use as a tablet, a higher-performance central processing unit in the form of Intel’s Haswell chip, and the gradual uptake of the recently released Windows 8 operating system.

The ODM market will recover starting in the second half of the year. And at the close of 2013, notebook shipments from ODMs to client OEMs will rise 5 percent from their 2012 level of 156.9 million units, IHS iSuppli estimates.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

LCD TV market scores super bowl touchdown, as giant sets drive double-digit growth in January

USA: American football fans rushed to buy gigantic television sets during the countdown to the Super Bowl, spurring a double-digit percentage surge in US shipments of liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs in January, according to the IHS Screen Digest Television Service.

Approximately 2.0 million LCD TVs shipped in the United States in January 2013, up 15 percent from about 1.8 million during the same month in 2012. In comparison, shipments in January 2012 contracted compared to one year earlier.

January is one of the most important months of the year for the US television market, when brands and retailers offer promotional prices on larger-sized sets to attract viewers during the run up to the Super Bowl, which took place on Feb. 3 this year. However, the allure of large-sized televisions to US consumers was also enhanced this time by a protracted decline in pricing.

“The cost of LCD TVs sized 50-inches and larger has been plunging since the second half of 2012 as television brands introduced new models,” said Jusy Hong, senior analyst, television, for IHS. “This rise in competition helped propel strong growth for large-sized LCD TV sales during the Super Bowl sales season in January. Shipments of LCD TVs sized 60-inches and larger showed particularly strong gains, with their penetration of the market tripling in January compared to the same month in 2012.”

Among the top 4 LCD TV brands in the United States, 50-inch and larger LCD TVs accounted for 30 percent of total shipments in January, up from 19 percent during the same month in 2012. Meanwhile, 60-inch and larger sets made up 12 percent, up from 3 percent one year earlier, as presented in the table attached.

The top 4 LCD TV brands in the US in January in alphabetical order were LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio, together accounting for more than 50 percent of shipments in the country.

The 60-inch offense
Japanese brand Sharp initiated the 60-inch LCD TV market in 2010, nearly monopolizing sales with its low-priced sets. However, as other brands also introduced similar-sized models during the intervening years, price competition started and the market began to expand.

By Black Friday in November 2012, the price war reached a crescendo, with Vizio and Best Buy jointly promoting a 60-inch LCD TV priced at $699—$300 off the original price. Pricing for the Vizio set then climbed to $899 during the Super Bowl promotion, but even at that rate it was still $100 less than the initial starting price.

The same-sized model from Sharp was priced at $899 for the Super Bowl, also $100 off its original price. For its part, Samsung offered a high-end 60-inch set at $1,699, which represented a $1,100 discount. Promotional pricing of 60-inch sets for lesser-known, second-tier brands was even lower.

The market share of super-large-sized televisions is bound to grow. Such sets are likely to become even more popular in March when television vendors launch new 2013 models in time for another major sporting event: the NCAA basketball’s March madness.

LED shines—while plasma bleeds
Also in January, LCD TVs featuring light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting technology exceeded 75 percent penetration in the US market. That rate is likely to reach 100 percent this year.

While large LCD and LED-backlit TVs are on the rise, sales of plasma sets plunged during the pre-Super Bowl period. Plasma sales are facing a tough pricing battle with LCD TVs in the large-sized segment. For 60-inch LCD TVs, pricing for second-tier brands was actually cheaper than for first-tier brands’ price for the 60-inch plasma models.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Adesto announces distribution network

USA: Adesto Technologies, a memory solutions provider delivering innovative products for code and data storage applications, today announced an expanded sales distribution network for its recently acquired Serial Flash product lines.

The primary channel for sales of Adesto’s DataFlash® and BIOS Flash products is a worldwide network of distributors and manufacturer’s sales representatives. To assist with key customer accounts and complement these channels, Adesto has also added internal sales representatives in strategic geographic locations.

“We are committed to providing our customers with easy and comprehensive access to all of our products,” said Narbeh Derhacobian, CEO of Adesto Technologies. “Our sales network includes the leading electronics supply channel partners in the world. This will ensure that electronics designers, engineers, purchasing and production managers will have the Adesto devices they need to meet their design and production requirements.”

Adesto’s Serial Flash devices are used in a broad range of industrial, computer, communications and consumer electronics. Applications include code shadow, code storage and data storage, with significant adoption in applications requiring fast-access storage of digital voice, images and text.

With its distribution and customer network in place, Adesto continues to pave the way for its line of Conductive Bridging RAM (CBRAM) devices for embedded applications, which began shipping last year.

January large-sized panel shipment dropped 10.4 percent MoM

TAIWAN: According to the latest large-sized panel shipment survey by WitsView, the display research division of the global market intelligence provider TrendForce, the total large-sized panel shipment volume attained 65.16 million units in January 2013, declining 10.4 percent MoM and jumping 27 percent YoY.

The LCD TV market entered the slow season for restocking in January 2013, and TV brand clients reduced panel procurement instead to lower inventory in hands, leading to a MoM drop of 5.9 percent in January TV panel shipment and a shipment volume of 18.64 million units. IT panel market also entered the slow season for purchase, and certain demands had been reflected in advance in Q4 2012, along with year-end financial settlement and stock taking, extending panel procurement adjustment and obviously dragging down the IT panel shipment.

Among these, the monitor panel shipment declined 14.4 percent MoM to a total volume of 12.64 million units. The overall above 10.1” NB panel, including Netbook panels, declined 32.9 percent MoM to a total volume of 12.61 million units. The tablet shipment continued to grow to 21.26 million units. Although Apple had largely lifted the 9.7” panel procurement at the end of last year and resulted in a huge drop in January orders, Apple held continuously growing demands for 7.9” panels. With the lifting yield at the panel supply chain, the 7.9” panel shipment surged 10 percent from the previous month.

WitsView’s senior research manager Jeffy Chen further indicates that the tablet application shows diversity, and in addition to being widely used as personal entertainment device, it can combine cloud computing services and enter business and education markets in the future. In addition to the best known brands Apple and Samsung who aggressively attack the tablet market, the demand in the white-box market is also quite active.

The reason why the white-box tablet brands can open the market rapidly is to adopt the strategy of the affordable prices and highly mimicking industrial design of best-selling branded products, which is similar to the rise of the knock-off mobile phones.  

Of course, a white-box tablet priced at only $50-$60 shows big differences in panel spec. from brand vendors. Taking the 7” tablet for example, the Google-ASUS Nexus 7 carries a panel resolution spec. of WXGA (1280 * 800) and the IPS/FFS wide viewing angle technology at the same time, with a BLU brightness of 400nits.
White-box products, on concern of selling prices and costs, turn to use the panels that were previously equipped to GPS, car devices, and consumer electronics products (electronic photo frame, portable DVD player, etc.). This kind of products most carry panels with resolution of WVGA(800*480), SVGA(800 *600), and WSVGA(1024 * 600) and mainly apply TN panel technology, with BLU brightness mostly between 250-350nits.

The emergence of the white-box market means the opening of another wide market for Taiwanese and Chinese panel makers. Previously, Korean-based LG Display and Samsung Display held a combined tablet panel market share as high as 60-70 percent, mainly because Korean makers have cultivated deeply in IPS wide viewing technology for a long time and showed stable mass-production yield, attracting Apple as their major client and fully supporting tablet developments of their respective brands in the groups.

But, based on WitsView’s statistics data, Korean makers’ combined tablet panel shipment dropped to around 40 percent in January mainly on Apple’s significant reduction in the panel demand. Taiwanese and Chinese makers’ combined market shares attained 42 percent and 15 percent, respectively, mainly on the gains in the white-box tablet market, largely lifting the market shares.

WitsView’s latest global tablet panel shipment data for January shows that TN panels accounted for 40 percent of the overall tablet panel shipment. And among the overall TN tablet panels, the 7” product remained the mainstream and accounted for 75-80 percent of the market, with 8”, 9”, 9.7”, and 10.1” on the side. For the panel resolution, WVGA (800 * 480) held a large portion of the market, controlling a penetration rate of 60 percent.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Worldwide BI software revenue to grow 7 percent in 2013

USA: Worldwide business intelligence (BI) software revenue will reach $13.8 billion in 2013, a 7 percent increase from 2012, according to Gartner Inc. The market is forecast to reach $17.1 billion by 2016.

"BI and analytics have grown to become the fourth-largest application software segment as end users continue to prioritize BI and information-centric projects and spending to improve decision making and analysis," said Dan Sommer, principal research analyst at Gartner. "As more and more information is generated, business models need reinvention, and it's increasingly clear that mastering analytics on big data will be a key driver for the next economic cycle."

CIO appetite for BI is complemented by more-tactical buying in business units for departmental and workgroup analysis, as well as for personal BI, enabled by the Nexus of Forces (cloud, mobile, social and information). These are fundamental drivers. However, in the near term, growth will be hampered by sluggish macro indicators, as well as by slowing sales cycles of multimillion-dollar end-to-end BI deals. Compared with 2011 growth of 16 percent, 2013 and the coming years are expected to be slower, with growth in the high single digits.

"Although this is a mature market and has been a top CIO priority for years, there is still a lot of unmet demand. Every company has numerous subject areas — such as HR, marketing, social and so on — that have yet to even start with BI and analytics," said Kurt Schlegel, research VP at Gartner.

"The descriptive analytics have largely been completed for most large companies in traditional subject areas, such as finance and sales, but there is still a lot of growth expected for diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive deployments. Since many midsize enterprises have yet to even start their BI and analytic initiatives, we expect the market for BI and analytics platforms will remain one of the fastest-growing software markets."

The emerging data-as-a-service trend could significantly grow the market for BI and analytics platforms. Today, the business model is largely "build" driven in that organizations license software capabilities to build analytic applications.

However, organizations increasingly will subscribe to industry-specific data services that bundle a narrow set of data with BI and analytic capabilities embedded. In time, most companies, regardless of their business model, will need to provide a data-as-a-service offering. Therefore, this trend has the potential to grow the market significantly as a range of vendors look to embed a BI and analytic platform provider's software capabilities into their data-as-a-service offerings.

Livedrive enables companies to start their own cloud storage business

ENGLAND: Livedrive, an award winning cloud storage company, has re-released its reseller product. The new cloud storage offering introduces a 30 day money back guarantee for all reseller consumer and business accounts in addition to the unlimited free backup accounts the company already provides to resellers.

Livedrive delivers unlimited online backup and 2,000GB+ cloud sync storage to more than 1 million customers across the globe. The company’s Reseller accounts enable businesses to provide their own cloud storage with a very low start-up cost.

To make the product more personalised Livedrive also provides a complete white label package enabling businesses to edit the desktop software, apps and online dashboard to fit their brand. This includes full text and image customisation and the ability to change the software template colours to match the Business’s company colours.

The new 30-day money back guarantee will enable Livedrive resellers to purchase Briefcase, the company’s sync product, or Business accounts and trial them for 30 days. The change in policy also applies to Livedrive account upgrades – including NAS drives, additional storage upgrades, and extra user profiles on business accounts.

Livedrive CEO, Andrew Michael commented: “It has never been easier for companies to start selling cloud storage as a second business. By adding a 30 day money back guarantee to our reseller customer accounts and including unlimited free backup accounts, companies can now start selling cloud storage with very little start-up costs”.

Livedrive Reseller accounts start from £39.95/$59.95 per month with an unlimited amount of free online backup accounts.

STQC certification for Sanovi DRM

INDIA: Sanovi Technologies, the market leader in Disaster Recovery Management (DRM) solutions, has announced that Sanovi DRM 4.2, the latest version of its Disaster Recovery software suite has passed the Application Security test conducted by the Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) Directorate.

Sanovi DRM 4.2 incorporates several enterprise features including seamless interoperability with enterprise applications and data replication technologies.

The STQC Directorate, an office under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Government of India, provides quality assurance services in the area of Electronics and IT through countrywide network of laboratories and centres. Their services include Testing, Calibration, IT & e-Governance, Training and Certification to public and private organizations.

Sanovi DRM is the solution of choice for automating and monitoring Recovery of critical IT applications, with STQC certification for Sanovi DRM, enterprises can now be confident that recovery operations of critical IT applications are free of web application vulnerability.

The new Sanovi DRM 4.2 is engineered so that managers can receive regular reports on their mobile device right after successful installation. This feature, available as part of the base product offering, eliminates the need to login to DRM for status and demonstrates the value of the DRM software.

Some of the new interoperability features supported in the 4.2 release include Microsoft Exchange 2010 along with other Microsoft technologies as well as Network Appliances (NetApp) replication and Oracle ExaData appliance. This release also integrates with leading privileged identity management software’s such as CyberArk to address the increased security concerns prevailing in enterprises today. The new release enables executive reports tailored to be mobile device friendly for viewing.

MAIT recommends growth-oriented measures to boost domestic manufacturing for Union Budget 2013-14

INDIA: MAIT, the apex body representing the interest of IT hardware industry in India , in a memorandum to the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, has emphasized the need for  growth-oriented measures to boost domestic manufacturing in the country.

JV Ramamurthy, president, MAIT said: “The IT Hardware manufacturing industry will provide employment for not-so-lucky people, possessing educational qualifications like ITI and Diploma, besides gender employment. He further said that current internet density and penetration of IT have enough of headroom for growth and India being geographically at a right location in the middle of the Globe, it serves as centre for products and services exports toward African and South Asian countries, besides the Middle East.
"With growing telecom density, growth of Internet and IT, should be easy especially with current large projects’ roll out plan by Government of India and the devices cost tumbling year after year.”

“With manufacturing value addition in India abysmally low, a whopping $320 billion worth of electronics will be imported by 2020, which may exceed the annual oil import bill. Hence, in our recommendations, we have requested the Government to abolish the inverted duty structure on IT components which will help revive the demand and promote manufacturing in the country”, said Anwar Shirpurwala, executive director, MAIT. He stressed the need for a long-term and comprehensive policy framework to encourage manufacturing in the country.

MAIT’s four key recommendations for Union Budget 2013-14 are:

(i) Inverted duty structure for manufacturers of IT products
The impact of inverted duty structure is that it effectively makes direct import by end- customers or trading (i.e. import and sale) of IT products advantageous in comparison to manufacturing of IT products in India.

(ii) Nil rate of CST against Form C purchases of ITA products manufactured in India
It is recommended that sales of ITA bound products manufactured in India for subsequent sale (i.e. resale) against Form C be taxed @ 0 percent so that manufacturing is not placed in a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis trading/direct imports.  For example, if manufacturing units are located in one State, the manufactured products attract a CST at 2 percent in inter-state sales, while traders/direct importers import the goods into the State of consumption and totally avoid the CST cost, thus putting domestic manufacturing at a disadvantage.

(iii) Removal of Basic Customs Duty on IT accessories
Given that such accessories such as adapters, battery, laptop carry bags, speakers form critical parts of the main IT product, imposing custom duties on the same increases the cost in the hands of the manufacturers (and disincentivises manufacturing), which impacts the pricing to end-customers.

(iv) Enhancement of MRP abatement
Considering the prevalent rates of excise duty, sales tax in addition to logistics/transportation costs and dealer margins, we recommend that this anomaly should be corrected by increasing the abatement from existing rate to 40 percent on IT products.

Indian students get chance to code for Windows

INDIA: In less than a week from now, thousands of charged up students in Karnataka will get together at the SJB Institute of Technology, Kengeri, Bengaluru, to develop apps for the Windows platform.

On February 26, more than 10,000 students from across the length and breadth of country will gear up to code applications for a whole day, at more than 50 hub centers like the SJB Institute of Technology. The colleges are currently holding training sessions for students who wish to brush up their coding skills as they register.

On the day of the AppFest, the young developers will code under the supervision of Microsoft mentors, trainers and Microsoft Student Partners (MSPs), and submit theapponline - an opportunity to make it available on the Windows Store after due diligence.

“On one hand, the trends in the IT space have evolved over the past few years, creating greater opportunities for students and budding developers. On the other, the global youth unemployment rate is currently at 12.7 percent— double the overall unemployment rate. These two things clearly indicate a gap in demand and supply – and the obvious answer: Given the right skills and training, there is lot young technology students can achieve today. This is exactly what we are trying to do: bring together the opportunity and those who can utilize it,” said Pratima Amonkar, director, Strategic Audience Marketing. “Obviously, students recognize the opportunity, going by the enthusiastic response we have received across India so far.”

Microsoft will provide students at each of the hubs with free software such as Visual Studio Express for Windows 8, and with free Windows Store registration codes through Microsoft DreamSpark. The focus will be on broad-based consumer applications, incorporating education, games, apps for social good, etc.

In addition to submitting the apps for evaluation for a chance to get on the Microsoft Store, the training and experience received via this program will boost the students’ employability, and create a more capable developer ecosystem in the country.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Leopard Imaging announces hybrid HD network video recorders

USA: Leopard Imaging announced the release of the third-generation video recorder Hybrid High-Definition Network Video Recorder (H2NVR).

The H2NVR allows customers to easily upgrade existing analog surveillance camera to high-definition camera without changing the coaxial cable. Leopard uses advanced technology to stream HD video through more than 500 meters of existing coaxial cable.

The H2NVR embeds a DaVinci video processor from Texas Instruments (TI) and can support 16 channels of 1080p at 30 frames per second (fps). This system is ideal for customers who currently manufacture analog surveillance camera systems and would like to upgrade to high-definition digital surveillance camera systems.

The H2NVR surveillance system includes LNC-H2NVR video recorder and 1-16 LNC-H2CAM cameras. The system:

* Is easy to upgrade from existing DVR.
* Enables transmission distance of more than 500 meters through SYV75-5 or RG59 coaxial cable.
* Offers high resolution: 1080p@30fps.
* Allows better noise immunization compared to analog video transmission.
* Eliminates the need for additional cables for audio, alarm and PTZ control because a single coaxial cable supports all options.
* Includes built-in smart functions such as face recognition and car plate recognition.
* Supports up to 16 channels of H2CAM or up to 4 channels HD IP camera plus 12 channels Coaxial cable camera H2CAM.
* Offers plug and play functionality for the same convenience as DVR.
* Enables remote network monitoring, alarm and query.
* Supports network attached storage (NAS).
* Integrates an HDMI interface for real-time monitoring.
* Offers wide dynamic range, low light sensitivity and low noise options with the H2CAM.

"TI's DaVinci video processor enables Leopard Imaging's H2NVR system to support 16 channels of 1080p30fps, giving customers quality surveillance video in real time," said Jacob Jose , product marketing manager, DaVinci video processors, TI. "With the quality and performance of TI's video processors combined with Leopard Imaging's technology and leadership in embedded cameras, customers now have access to a market-leading solution to migrate from analog to digital surveillance systems."

"We are pleased to announce Leopard's new product H2NVR and bring HD video solution to existing surveillance customers. This system supports up to 16-channel 1080p30 high definition video and transmits more than 500 meter distance, which no other video system can compete with in the current market," said Bill Pu, VP of marketing at Leopard Imaging.

Pantel launches India’s first, EDGE enabled Jelly Bean tablet PC, Penta T-Pad WS707C

INDIA: Pantel Technologies Pvt Ltd, a leading tablet PC maker, has launched India’s first EDGE technology based voice-calling tablet PC Penta T-Pad WS707C with latest, Jelly Bean operating system.

Priced at Rs. 7,999, the Penta T-Pad WS707C is a high performance tablet PC with Cortex A9 1.0 GHz processor, Mali 400 3D Accelerator GPU, 1GB DDRIII RAM, 8GB storage, and an EDGE enabled SIM slot, which gives you a superior data communication services.
It has a 7-inch, multi-touch capacitive touch screen with 3D graphics support, and a high screen resolution of 1024*600 pixels for an amazing visual display. The device also supports a dual screen video operation that allows the user to perform two tasks simultaneously such as surf the internet while watching a movie.

Enhancing user experience, the power packed Penta T-Pad gift pack comes with 3D goggles for 3D video viewing, data cable and a free trendy pouch to keep your tablet safe. Further, the tablet PC supports a wide array of video and audio formats to take care of your entertainment needs and comes with in-built speakers and a microphone.

Penta T-Pad WS707C comes with a dual camera, 0.3 MP front camera enabling you to video call and 2.0MP rear camera for capturing your special moments.

The feature rich Penta T-Pad comes with All-Port Architecture of Pantel Technologies that supports multiple connecting options like USB port, HDMI Port, and a TF card slot. Considering the user’s experience, the tablet PC comes pre-loaded with the Penta Application suite which contains apps such as 'YouTube', 'NexGtv', 'Facebook', 'Skype', and many more.

Penta T-Pad WS707C is not just high on entertainment but a perfect companion for all your professional, education and infotainment needs.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Aegis launches all new FactoryLogix suite

USA: Aegis Software, a global provider of integrated manufacturing solutions, will launch its all new FactoryLogix suite at the APEX show in San Diego CA, February 19-21.

Built from the ground-up using leading-edge technology, FactoryLogix is the first software system designed to support all types of discrete manufacturing. From PCB assembly, to complex box-builds, large system integrations and even high-speed consumer goods processing; this adaptive, multi-market solution redefines the very concept of MES.

Leveraging Aegis’ 16 years of software development experience, FactoryLogix manages the entire manufacturing information environment: from product launch, to material logistics, through manufacturing execution, to operations analytics and real-time dashboard systems.

This holistic solution yields unprecedented product, process, and materials traceability as well as the data fulfillment and visibility manufacturers need for competitive improvement.

“FactoryLogix is the single, elegant solution to the many challenges we’ve learned our customers face from our 16 years of supporting 1200 installed sites. It is also ready for the challenges they will likely face in the future.” commented Aegis CEO, Jason Spera.

“Sometimes a technology leaps ahead so radically and obviously that it changes an entire market. We think manufacturers will soon agree that FactoryLogix is such a product.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Power2sme join hands with Indian Industries Association (IIA) for SME enablement in UP

INDIA: Power2sme, the buying club for SMEs, and Indian Industries Association (IIA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), for fostering co-operation and support for the promotion of SMEs in the state of Uttar Pradesh. This association will be instrumental in helping SMEs overcome challenges and creating an environment favorable to accelerated growth for the SMEs.

Power2sme, India’s leading buying club for SMEs, started its operations in April, 2012. The company’s mission is to increase profits for the Indian SMEs by being a one stop destination for managing purchase requirements for multiple business needs.

Indian Industries Association (IIA) is an apex representative body of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) with a strong membership base of about 5500 MSMEs. IIAs motto is to create an enabling environment for the development of MSMEs in today’s ever changing and extremely competitive industrial scenario.

The agreement was signed in the backdrop of Noida Expo 2013 (3rd Global MSME Expo) by Manish Goel, general secretary of IIA and by R. Narayan, founder and CEO, Power2sme. As a part of the MoU, IIA and Power2sme have mutually agreed for collective purchase of raw materials for the members of IIA.

This project will run for a period of six months and will be covering 34 chapters of IIA in Uttar Pradesh, starting from the Western region (focusing on Noida / Greater Noida / Ghaziabad). Power2sme will be registering all members of IIA in this region on their online platform in the next six months.

Nordson ASYMTEK demos NexJet jetting system

APEX EXPO 2013, USA: Nordson ASYMTEK, a leader in fluid dispensing, coating, and jetting technologies, will demonstrate its new, patent-pending, NexJet jetting system, with the one-piece Genius Jet Cartridge, at IPC APEX 2013 booth #3115.

The Genius Jet Cartridge is the only system part that contains fluid, and therefore the only piece that needs to be changed and cleaned. It is easily removed in seconds without tools. The NexJet system makes jetting faster, easier, and reduces cost-of-ownership by up to 20 percent over other jets.

NexJet system can deliver 300 shots of fluid in one second, an improvement of 50 percent over previous jets. For a more reliable and intelligent dispensing system and process, an RFID transceiver embedded in the dispense system communicates with the stored memory on the cartridge.

This system ensures that the correct cartridge is installed, checks to see if the cartridge is within life expectancy, and alerts the operator when the cartridge needs replacement. A wide breadth of fluids can be used for many applications such as stacked die, precision coating, LEDs, flat panel displays, lab-on-a-chip, MEMS packaging, and others.

Also on display will be Nordson ASYMTEK’s selective conformal coating systems that deliver significant advantages for manufacturers at every level of production from batch to high-volume in-line processing. These flexible, programmable, integrated coating and curing systems provide precise application of conformal coating and IR/convection or UV curing.

A choice of patented dispensing heads allows systems to be configured to meet specific customer coating requirements. The result is cost savings with increased throughput and productivity. In addition, the elimination of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions delivers a rapid return on investment.

Websense 2013 threat report

USA: Research findings released from Websense Security Labs, the worldwide research team from Websense Inc., report explosive year-over-year growth in global cyberattack trends.

“Year-over-year, the number of malicious web-based attacks increased by nearly 600 percent,” said Charles Renert, VP of the Websense Security Labs.

“These attacks were staged predominantly on legitimate sites and challenge traditional approaches to security and trust. The timed, targeted nature of these advanced threats indicates a new breed of sophisticated attacker who is intent on compromising increasingly higher-yield targets. Only proactive, real-time security techniques, that inspect the entire lifecycle of a threat, can withstand the assault and prevent data theft.”

Below are key Websense 2013 Threat Report findings, based on a year-over-year comparison of web, email, data, mobile and social media threats:

* Each week, organizations faced an average of 1,719 attacks for every 1,000 users.
* Malicious websites increased by nearly 600 percent worldwide.
* North American malicious sites increased by 720 percent and EMEA saw a 531 percent increase.
* Legitimate web hosts were home to 85 percent of those malicious sites.
* Half of web-connected malware downloaded additional executables in the first 60 seconds.
* Only 7.7 percent of malware interacted with the system registry—circumventing many behavioral detection systems and antivirus solutions.
* Thirty-two percent of malicious links in social media used shortened URLs. Once cybercriminals gain access to a host, they typically hide their own malicious pages deep in the directory tree. This process generates very long and complex web links that might tip off a wary user. Link shortening solves that problem.
* The United States of America, Russia and Germany were the top three countries hosting malware. Meanwhile, the Bahamas made its debut into the list of top five countries hosting phishing sites, with a second place ranking.
* China, the United States of America and Russia were the top three countries hosting command and control servers.
* Only one in five emails were legitimate and email spam increased to 76 percent. Worldwide spam volumes reached more than a quarter of a million emails per hour.
* One in 10 malicious mobile applications asked for permission to install other apps, something rarely required by legitimate apps.

Ovum outlines true business value of communications-enabled business processes (CEBPs)

AUSTRALIA: In the current operating environment, organizations need to improve the efficiency of business processes and provide better services and innovative products to customers through both established and emerging channels to ensure competitive advantage in the marketplace, says the global analyst firm, Ovum.

In a new report, the global analysts reveals  that IT is under pressure to combine existing resources and infrastructure with emerging technologies to deliver the desired functionality in the most cost-effective and time-efficient manner.

Communications enablement can reduce the latency associated with human involvement in business processes and provide many benefits such as more efficient resource utilization, faster time-to-value, and more effective collaboration, both within and between enterprises.

“The rapid proliferation of mobility solutions is creating complex integration issues that need new solutions. Lightweight mobile middleware is gaining ground as a suitable approach for integration of mobility solutions with enterprise IT systems and business process,” explains Saurabh Sharma, senior analyst at Ovum and author of the report. “Mobility will drive demand for communications-enabled business process (CEBP) development, to enable person-to-person interactions, as well as application/business process-to-person and person-to-application/business process interactions.”

Many CEBP development platforms are highly proprietary and do not provide all the necessary tools and interfaces to ease the complexity of communications and business process integration. Customization work done by system integrators (SIs) to enable the integration of communications services with specific business processes adds to the total cost of ownership (TCO) of unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions and, for this reason, is not a sustainable approach in the long run.

Sharma adds: “CEBP development should not be approached as a one-off project. Instead, organizations should develop a strategy and roadmap, and prioritize business processes for communications enablement based on their business value. Organizations should focus on leveraging existing integration architecture for the development of CEBPs and to enable integration between disparate applications; service-oriented architecture (SOA) and event-driven architecture (EDA) are architectural prerequisites for CEBPs.”

CEBP development platforms offered by different UCC vendors vary in terms of approach to communications enablement of business processes and applications. UCC vendors such as Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent are offering open standards based APIs and SDKs for the development of CEBPs.

Other vendors such as IBM and Microsoft are using their UCC suites to add communications functionality to business processes and applications. A few vendors (such as IBM and Software AG) facilitate communications and business process integration via their business process management (BPM) suites. Then there are CEBP solutions that cater for specific requirements such as interactive voice response (IVR), automated call distribution (ACD), closed-loop notification services, and workload management.

“Interoperability and integration remain a major barrier to CEBP adoption as only a few CEBP development platforms support a wide range of open standards and protocols such as session initiation protocol (SIP), voice extensible markup language (VoiceXML), asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Ajax), web services description language (WSDL), and extensible messaging and presence protocol (XMPP),” concludes Sharma.

Technology moves to forefront in cinema as digital overtakes film

USA: For the first time, 35mm film in 2012 became the minority cinema format after nearly 90,000 screens went digital worldwide at the end of last year. As a result, cinema has moved from what once was a technology-free zone to one driven by technology, according to the IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Service.

Just a scant six years ago, in 2007, digital cinema was virtually nonexistent with only 5,158 screens worldwide, compared to 107,832 35mm film screens. Starting in 2010, ISO-standard digital screens and 3-D screens began to take hold with 12,743 digital 2-D screens and 22,327 3-D screens. But compared to 82,105 35mm screens, digital was still in the minority.

Nonetheless, digital 2-D screens at the end of 2012 had increased to 43,796, with an additional 45,545 in 3-D—as well as 5,500 lower-end e-cinema systems in India—pushing 35mm screens to the minority with just 35,087 remaining, as shown in the attached figure .

“The first foray into digital technology in cinemas came with sound, and then indirectly with online ticketing, moving afterward onto cinema advertising, then digital cinema, digital 3-D and the use of social media,” said David Hancock, senior principal analyst for cinema at IHS.

“Outside of the films themselves, the industry side of the film business is also dealing with issues such as high and variable frame rates (HFR and VFR), 4K image capture, digital archiving, object-based sound, electronic distribution and a wide range of other issues. Cinemas are now at the nexus of consumer and industrial technologies, and applications and cinema owners will continue to respond to this trend during the year ahead.”

Change is afoot
This change in film format also meant that 35mm is no longer needed in volume for release prints and image capture, which indicates that the old film format more than likely will die out within three years. Fuji is already phasing out film for production purposes beginning in March, although some professionals still prefer film for the look it gives. Films now are distributed on hard drives, or by satellite or fiber directly to the cinema. The industry will continue to see some major developments in this space in 2013.

For image capture, about 70 percent of high-end films now are shot digitally, generating a huge amount of data for each production—between 2 terabytes and 10 TB a day, and anywhere between 100TB to 1 petabyte over the whole shoot. This data all needs to be stored, processed, secured and transported, creating an entirely new workflow for post-production, as well as a new infrastructure for supporting film productions.

HFR on the agenda
The issue of the moment has to be high frame rates. For “The Hobbit,” IHS Screen Digest estimates that approximately 1,200 screens around the world upgraded their technology to play the HFR version—somewhat less than originally envisioned but still a promising start overall.

The jury is still out on whether higher frame rates have any place in cinema, but director Peter Jackson’s move in pushing the technology boundaries forward underlines where the cinema industry is heading and how technology will impact the business in the future.

The second part of the Jackson franchise in 2013, as well as the run-up to “Avatar 2,” will ensure that high frame rates stay on the agenda.

Laser tag
Laser illumination is also a live issue, potentially offering a low cost of ownership to exhibitors with a light source that can last 30,000 hours compared to an average 1,000 hours for traditional lamps. The technology has several hurdles to overcome, not least the issue of speckle and safety parameters. But a transition is likely to begin, starting with the largest and most profitable screens as well as giant screen theaters.

The cost of this technology is currently prohibitive; further research and coordinated development is needed this year in order to offer an economically viable projector for the next generation of digital cinema.

Premium concessions
Premium cinema has been around for some time, but it suffered from focusing solely on comfort and extra snacks. Yet technology, too, is having an impact on this area. Exhibitors now have a palette of options to choose from that give the consumer an enhanced “Cinema Experience.” Here, HFR, 3-D, object-based sound, Imax, and 4-D are all possible options on top of the enhancements that can be achieved with better seating, mobile ticketing, in-theater dining and so on.

The home cinema environment is also moving forward—with lower-cost wide-screen TVs, cheaper and better surround sound systems, 3-D TV, online downloads at narrower windows, as well as video on demand (VoD). Even so, cinema—now with the armory to raise the bar—can maintain the gap between the home-viewing experience and a movie-going event.

Wider demographics sought
Digitized cinema delivery and projection also allows the exhibitor to program their cinemas more flexibly, as it means no expensive 35mm print is needed, allowing exhibitors to respond to the needs of a wider local demographic with more films. The emergence of alternative content or non-film programming, such as opera, ballet or theater, is widening cinema—viewing options while bringing older people back to the cinema.

The number of events is growing every year. For instance, there were 121 events offered in U.K. cinemas in 2012, up from 109 in 2011 and only 44 in 2010, and further growth in this sector will occur during the years to come, IHS Screen Digest believes.

Cinema on Demand, often using social networking technology, is also taking its first steps as part of what the cinema exhibitor can do—offering groups of motivated customers the chance to influence directly the cinema program. Exhibitors will begin to experiment with the concept this year.

A shot in the arm
Movies in 3-D have provided a shot in the arm to the movie business for several years now, with “Avatar” at the very heart of this trend. As 3-D matures, audiences are also increasingly seeking out the best 3-D experiences, especially as the premium price needs to be justified in value on monetary terms.

Several new technologies are helping to elevate the 3-D experience in theaters to make it more desirable, notably higher-frame-rate 3-D, seen after the release of “The Hobbit.”

This year, the format will be more widely adopted across the globe as theaters decide to invest in advance of the second “Hobbit” movie and James Cameron’s HFR “Avatar” follow-up a year later. The development of laser-illuminated projectors as mentioned above, also enables much brighter 3-D presentation, something that audiences are demanding.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.