Remember when competition wasn't a bad word?

Subject: Editorial | October 2, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: google, chromecast, AT&T, apple tv, amd, amazon

There is more discouraging news out of AMD as another 5% of their workforce, around 10,000 employees, will be let go by the end of 2016.  That move will hurt their bottom line before the end of this year, $42 million in severance, benefit payouts and other costs associated with restructuring but should save around $60-70 million in costs by the end of next year.  This is on top of the 8% cut to their workforce which occurred earlier this year and shows just how deep AMD needs to cut to stay alive, unfortunately reducing costs is not as effective as raising revenue.  Before you laugh, point fingers or otherwise disparage AMD; consider for a moment a world in which Intel has absolutely no competition selling high powered desktop and laptop parts.  Do you really think the already slow product refreshes will speed up or prices remain the same?

Consider the case of AT&T, who have claimed numerous times that they provide the best broadband service to their customers that they are capable of and at the lowest price they can sustain.  It seems that if you live in a city which has been blessed with Google Fibre somehow AT&T is able to afford to charge $40/month less than in a city which only has the supposed competition of Comcast or Time Warner Cable.  Interesting how the presence of Google in a market has an effect that the other two supposed competitors do not.

There is of course another way to deal with the competition and both Amazon and Apple have that one down pat.  Apple removed the iFixit app that showed you the insides of your phone and had the temerity to actually show you possible ways to fix hardware issues.  Today Amazon have started to kick both Apple TV and Chromecast devices off of their online store.  As of today no new items can be added to the virtual inventory and as of the 29th of this month anything not sold will disappear.  Apparently not enough people are choosing Amazon's Prime Video streaming and so instead of making the service compatible with Apple or Google's products, Amazon has opted to attempt to prevent, or at least hinder, the sale of those products.

The topics of competition, liquidity and other market forces are far too complex to be dealt with in a short post such as this but it is worth asking yourself; do you as a customer feel like competition is still working in your favour?

The Hand

The Hand

"AMD has unveiled a belt-tightening plan that the struggling chipmaker hopes will get its finances back on track to profitability."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Details about a possible upcoming Intel TV service, Intel Media

Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2013 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: tv, intel tv, intel media, Intel, google tv, CES, apple tv

How's this to set off your 2013 tech news?  According to multiple reports and this rather lengthy one from GigaOm, Intel has a new division called Intel Media that is planning on launching a TV service this year.  While it apparently will not be ready to show off at CES next week, "knowledgeable sources" make the GigaOm author quite confident that it will happen in the March time frame.

Running much like a stealth startup rather than the multi-billion dollar corporate entity that it is, a new division called Intel Media has been working on an Intel TV service that aims to beat Google and Apple to the goal of an on-demand, a-la-carte video.  Running under a separate board of directors headed by Intel CEO Paul Otellini and content lead Eric Free among others, Intel Media has lofty goals.


Intel CEO Paul Otellini is pushing services on his way out

The base for this service will be an Intel produced and branded set top box that will be sold online and through retailers like Best Buy.  Maybe something like the Intel Next Unit of Computing we tested in December?  But Intel also plans to have access to the service on any screen including PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. The GigaOm story didn't mention if this would run on iOS and Android devices but if the service is to stand a chance, it had better. 

Building hardware is easy; the real challenge is in convincing content creators and owners to license the video for an "access anywhere" mindset.  Even Apple hasn't been able to accomplish that and I would dare say they have more industry clout with media companies than Intel. 

That will likely include an ambitious licensing play to secure content across all of these devices. Intel’s set-top box will offer access to third-party apps, but also TV content licensed by Intel — something that has been one of the key challenges of the project. Reuters and the Wall Street Journal detailed earlier this year how the company wanted to secure the right to stream individual TV channels over the internet, and Forbes reported this weekend that it will offer consumers the ability to subscribe to individual channels, as opposed to a big and expensive cable bundle.

Intel's desire to develop this service area isn't unexpected as the company has been wanting to get away from being known only as a "chip manufacturer" and move to a "platform provider."  It's just hard to see what Intel will be able to do so much better than what Apple has done with the Apple TV or what Google did with the Google TV platforms.  Intel has no successful operating system and would either have to go with a Windows platform (expensive), Android (what would stop other people for duplicating it) or something custom (not a good track record). 


There are a lot more questions about what Intel Media is or could become than we have information to address.  But Intel is hoping that the executive team they have assembled will have those answers.  Personnel includes Erik Huggers who led the BBC iPlayer, Sean Ludick from Jawbone, Courtnee Westendorf who handled global marketing for Apple and several more.  Intel wants to be prepared for a world that cares less about the silicon that powers devices and more about the software and services on those devices.

The goal of getting individual channels of live television and on-demand content without the need for huge cable and satellite bills is the goal of a modern media consumption society but there are very large organizations that would like to prevent it from happening.  If Intel does in fact have the answer then I will be among the first to stand up and applaud (and pre-order).  If we are merely getting an Android powered version of the AppleTV with Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming video, I'll pass.


Google TV had a lot of lofty goals and promise as well...

There is a lot more information and speculation on this Intel Media directive on the source GigaOm article, and I encourage you all to check it out.  Personally I don't see how this could be successful without a dramatic shift from the other software moves that Intel has made in recent years.  Remember AppUp?  How about MeeGo?  Exactly my point.  It is understandable for a company as large as Intel to want to branch out and look for new growth opportunities but they have yet to prove they are capable of doing so successfully.  And many would implore Intel to stay focused on the technology...

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Source: GigaOm

Fruit flavoured TV or DIY HTPC?

Subject: Systems | April 27, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: htpc, apple tv

Missing Remote, masters of all things HTPC, had a chance to try a product similar to many they have reviewed in the past, only this one bears a silver fruit symbol on it.  Right from the start there were obvious deficiencies as well as good features, the power wiring was designed not to block more than one power outlet but there was no HDMI cabling.  On the software side there were exhaustive controls for colour space, but no support for the wireless WPS standard and apparently the box forgot their WPA key on occasion.  They ended by recommending this $100 device for anyone looking for a better NetFlix experience but caution that iTunes is no replacement for BluRay.


"In our first look at the new 2012 Apple TV it was clear that the form factor and basic function was consistent with many of the other over the top (OTT) media streamers on the market, but it was the visual appealing user interface (UI) that really shines compared to similar devices which became apparent in the video walkthrough. What was not clear, given the brief time with the Apple TV, was how it performs after the first-impression sheen has worn off or how the recently upgraded 1080p iTunes content stacks up against established OTT services like Netflix and VUDU, or the current top-end option, Blu-ray. Having spent the focused energy to really get to know the device it is time to come back with answers to those questions, as well as provide a fuller picture of what is provided by Apple’s OTT streamer refresh."

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