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Report: Xbox 720 Scheduled To Hit Market in Next Year’s Holiday Season

The latest edition of the Xbox gaming platform series will likely hit the market during next year’s Holiday season. Xbox 720 is reportedly scheduled to be released in the late fourth quarter of 2013, a source close to situation disclosed Thursday.

The Xbox 720, which is tabbed to succeed its seven-year-old predecessor Xbox 360, could be presented for the first time at the 2013 E3 show or a separate event in June.

Microsoft has been silent during the development of their next generation gaming platform but significant information have been leaked in the last months backing up the existence of the new Xbox.

Microsoft Xbox spokesman David Dennis hasn’t spoken a single word yet about the latest product. Nevertheless, gamers have already been given a sneak of peak of what to expect in Xbox 720 after UK-based magazine Xbox World unveiled the hardware of the new console.

An upgraded version of motion sensing input device Kinect (2.0), a Blu-ray drive, and enhanced controllers, and an A/V specially designed for recording broadcast TV shows and watching are some of the new features in Xbox 720.

Once launched, Xbox 720 will have a very big shoe to fill in after Xbox 360 solidified its status as the most dominant gaming console in the U.S market over the last four or five years. Xbox 360 remains a top-seller among consoles for 15th consecutive month and has sold over 70 million units worldwide. Moreover, the console is still posting strong sales up to now with 270,000 units sold in October and 750,000 units during the Black Friday shopping spree.

Nevertheless, Microsoft is aware that sales will eventually slow down in the coming months due to competition from Sony’s PlayStation 3. The rise of mobile gaming and rapid decline video gaming industry has also prompted Microsoft to start working on its next Xbox.

China plans to grow vegetation on Mars and the Moon

China takes its ambitious space exploration program to a brand new level after it announced its goal of cultivating fresh vegetables to provide their astronauts with sufficient food on Mars and the Moon.

China said it has already completed its initial test in Beijing this week and it so far yields positive result. According to Chinese media, four kinds of vegetables were grown in a 300 cubic meter ecological support system, which enables astronauts to produce their own supply of air, water and food during long space missions.

The ecological support system will depend on plants and different kinds of oxygen-producing algae. These vegetation will be used in China’s extraterrestrial bases likely on the Moon and perhaps on the Red Planet.

Beijing’s Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Centre research Deng Yibing said the vegetables inside the cabin are guaranteed fresh and healthy, participants could event harvest vegetables for their meals.

“Chinese astronauts may get fresh vegetables and oxygen supplies by gardening in extra-terrestrial bases in the future,” the report said, adding that the experiment was the first of its kind in China.

China has already scheduled an exploratory mission to the Moon next year, leading up to launching its first manned vehicle to the moon. The Asian powerhouse has been making key steps in attaining superiority in space exploration, which has symbolically been relinquished by the United States after the retirement of its shuttle mission and the tightening of budget for NASA.

According to reports, China is aiming to become the first nation since the United States in 1972 to land a man on the moon. Moreover, the Chinese mission is also planning to expand its political influence in the space by establishing a branch of its ruling Communist Party on the moon.

“If we establish a party branch in space, it would also be the ‘highest’ of its kind in the world,” Xinhua quoted Mr Yang as saying.

Nokia hammers deal with China Mobile; Lumia 620 to feature brighter colors

In an attempt to regain its old place in the world’s largest mobile market, Nokia is reportedly planning to make a joint business venture with the mobile operator giant China Mobile, a reliable insider reported Wednesday.

China Mobile will start selling Nokia’s flagship phone Lumia 920 to its over 700 million subscribers. Apple, who plans to bring in the iPhone 5 weeks from now, has surprisingly no contract with China Mobile – the world biggest carrier.

The landmark deal with China Mobile immediately paid off for Nokia, whose shares jumped by 8.7 percent at 2.75 Euros on the Helsinki stock market.

“It is not a surprise, but it still means a giant opportunity for Nokia, maybe one of the best opportunities for its smartphones right now. This market has a lot of piled-up demand for high-end smartphones,” Nordea Markets analyst Sami Sarkamies said.

Nokia seems to start turn things around after losing its grip to Apple in several key mobile markets in the world. In fact, the company will be releasing a much cheaper phone next year to cover all possible markets.

Nokia provided some key insights about its much anticipated a budget-friendly Windows 8-powered phone to be released in early 2013.

The Nokia Lumia 620 will reportedly feature smooth rounded corners and bright colors, hoping these exterior designs will help draw more customers when the lower-end phone is launched in January 2013.

The Initial pricing of Lumia 620 is pegged at only $249, though the 3G model phone offers a wide variety of great features, including 3.8-inch screen, back camera capable of shooting 720p video, IGHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, a 5-megapixel front camera with video chat, loudspeakers, and near-field communications (NFC) technology.

“With the 620, we wanted to introduce some bold blends,” Ahtisaari said. “We use a technique called dual-shot application of color, with an opaque layer underneath then a translucent layer above.” A yellow base becomes lime green with a cyan cover and orange with a red cover, for example.

The Lumia 620 is scheduled to be shipped first in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa before it hits the North American market.

AT&T Sells 6.4 million smartphones in third quarter of 2012

Leading wireless service provider AT&T reportedly sold 6.4 million units of smartphone in the third quarter and is on pace of breaking its projected sales by the end of the year, the company announced this week.

AT&T’s mobility arm CEO Ralph De La Vega said the carrier is experiencing a solid year in business as it expected to sell 1 million more than the projected sales of 25 million smartphones in 2012.

“What we’re seeing is tremendous response in the marketplace,” Vega said at an investor conference on Tuesday. “Excitement is at all time high. I feel very good about momentum going into December.”

De La Vega is expecting sales to further skyrocket up in the succeeding weeks, especially on key dates during the Holiday season. The AT&T executive said it has already sufficient supply of iPhones and improved its inventory of Nokia Lumia 920 and LG Optimus G.

The carrier is also anticipating its tablet sales to go up with its recent $100 promotions and mobie data share plan. Moreover, it has all three operating systems on their tablets: Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Windows RT, Kindle Fire HD, and Apple’s iPad.

“I can’t fathom how many tablets will be under the Christmas tree,” said an optimistic De La Vega about AT&T potentially big sales of tablets this Holiday season.

Aside from its mobile arm, De la Vega also tackled growth in other business areas such home security and mobile payments. The carrier is set to release its home security and automation service in 2013. These products will be available at its stores and selected distribution outlets.

AT&T home security business values roughly $18 million with operating margings of 35 to 40 percent range. De la Vega added that more profits are expected from this industry due to the company’s lower cost structure.

“We like what we see,” he said. “But we’re still in the early stages of development.”

Sony’s ex-CEO Stringer announces plan to retire in June

StringerHoward Stringer, who was relieved from his duty as the Chief Executive Officer of Sony last year, announced his plan to step down from the board of directors in June during the company’s annual general shareholders meeting.

According to the Financial Times, Stringer will formally cut his tie with one of the leading consumer electronic company after seeing his role slowly reduced over the last few year of his tenure.

Stringer served as Sony’s top honcho for seven years, which saw the company losing its grip on several markets – including the game console industry.

Under Stringer, Sony’s market value took a plunge while some of its major business segments like the PlayStation and HDTV’s suffered big losses.

Kazuo Hirai, who served as the head of Sony Computer Entertainment, became the new company CEO but Stringer stays with the board and later replaced former chairman Yotaro Kobayashi in June of 2012.

Stringer announced his looming retirement from Sony’s board of directors during a Japan Society lecture in New York, saying it’s time for him to find new opportunities elsewhere.

Kobayashi expressed his appreciation to Stringer and his works during his stay at Sony.

“Stringer has a unique capacity to inspire people, to build teams, to make the tough decisions, and to think with clarity and foresight about the challenges we face and how to surmount them,” Kobayashi said of Stinger, who worked for Sony for 15 years and mentored some of the company’s top executives – including Sony’s current CEO.

Sony has been dealt with a myriad of financial problems ever since losing the consumer electronic market to Korean cheabol Samsung and American juggernaut Apple. The company has suffered losses over the last four years but their latest financial report proves to be the biggest fall since the company was founded 67 years ago.

Apple to announce plan with massive stash of cash

AppleAmerican tech firm Apple is reportedly set to make an announcement regarding its next business move after profiting remarkably from the sales of their products last year, a corporate insider reported on Monday.

Apple, who achieved record-breaking gains due to the popularity of iPhone and iPad, is ready to unveil its next plan to reallocate its immense stash of cash.

According to a New York base investment company, the leading smartphone maker will likely make an announcement by the end of March. If the speculation is true, Apple would be making such move for the second time in two years.

Shareholders have been pushing Apple to use the cash-pile with larger reinvestments or a dividend program, which Apple announced last year along with a $10 billion stock buyback.

Still, investors believe the company could have initiated bolder steps to use 2/3 of its cash-pile stored outside the country into money-generating ventures. However, the possibility of paying enormous tax prompted Apple to stay privy with that issue.

David Einhorn, the owner of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, recently filed a law suit against Apple for its failure to share more of its cash with investors.

“Apple is a phenomenal company … but Apple has a problem,” Einhorn said. “It has sort of a mentality of a depression. In other words, people who have gone through traumas — and Apple’s gone through a couple traumas in its history — they sometimes feel they can never have enough cash.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook called Einhorn’s lawsuit a ‘silly slideshow,’ insisting the company is considering all possible options to keep its investors happy and its profits growing.

Einhorn successful prevented a vote on the issue of preferred shares at the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Nevertheless, executives promised to look over the issue once the company made a decision.

Printable Organ Could Be Available In Future

dishA potential breakthrough in the field of medicine could change the course of time and give patients with serious diseases a second chance at life by transplanting an exact copycat of their organs.

A research project at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland in partnership with stem cell technology company Roslin Cellab are trying to find a way to produce an exact copy of organs through a 3-D printing process with the use of stem cells.

The printer works by creating 3D spheroids using embryonic cell cultures contained in a ‘bio ink’ medium, which appears as little bubble but each droplet has five or more stem cells. The process allows the copying of the traits of the patient’s organs, creating an exact duplicate of it.

“In the longer term, we envisage the technology being further developed to create viable 3D organs for medical implantation from a patient’s own cells, eliminating the need for organ donation, immune suppression, and the problem of transplant rejection,” said Dr. Will Shu, who is one of the members of the ambitious research project.

The best thing about it is the stem cells used in previous bio printing are viable again for future use after surviving the process.

“This confirms that this printing process did not appear to damage the cells or affect the viability of the vast majority of dispensed cells,” stated in a research released by the team.

For the first time in human civilization, human embryonic stem cells have successfully been printed and could be a precursor to printing out organs in years to come. Moreover, the process could also help printing out human tissue for drug testing.

The groundbreaking findings have recently been published in Biofabrication with the title “Development of a valve-based cell printer for the formation of human embryonic stem cell spheroid aggregates.”

Google Play Surges, Apple App Store Still Lords Over Mobile App Market

Google-PlayGoogle Play recorded a big surge in its sales of mobile applications but it is still Apple’s App Store that reigned supreme after garnering the largest share in the pie, Mobile analytics Distimo released Wednesday.

Google Play has been on a tear in the mobile app market over the last four months, recording a 43 percent jump in its daily sales across 20 countries as reported by Distimo.

Then again, the figure was not enough to topple the App store from its thrown as Apple’s app distributor also registered a decent surge in its sales after gaining a 21 percent increase on a daily basis.

The App store also benefited from its strong performance in the first months of 2012, especially in January when it chalked up 51 percent on daily sales.

Destimo pointed out that the decline of App Store’s sales is caused by an already higher revenues, leaving Apple with limited room to generate more money. A good example for this is the Apple’s huge sales November, when it surpassed the $15 million threshold while Google Play only registered $3.5 million across 20 countries.

According to Destimo, the United States was the biggest market for Apple’s App store in 2012, while Japan, the United Kingdom, and Australia rounded up the Big 4. On the other hand, the United States and Japan are the largest markets for Google Play while Android-heavy using country Korea ranked third.

Naver’s Line Pop is the most successful game on any app store recently, recording 1.75 downloads three days from its release. It already racked up a cool $1 million in sales within its first 12 days.

However, the mobile app market is not always a mine of gold as an influx of new applications continued to crowd the market daily, hurting in the process start-up developers.

“And a small number of apps still account for a disproportionate share of overall usage. In November, just seven apps grabbed 10 percent of all sales for the App Store for the iPhone. That number was down from January when 11 apps took in those 10 percent of sales. And just 31 apps generated 10 percent of all free apps downloaded,” Distimo released Thursday.

Xiaomi Technology — China’s Next Big Thing in Mobile Industry

With high-quality products, solid marketing strategy and charismatic leader, Xiaomi Technology developed into a $4 billion worth company and on its way to become China’s dominant phone maker three years from its creation.

Xiaomi Technology has become a leading brand in the world’s largest mobile market, offering a plethora of smartphone models that drew instant attention from consumers because of its quality and stylishness.

The people in the mobile industry even tabbed Xiaomi as the next big thing and a Chinese Apple in the making. Ironically, Xiaomi Technology is also run by an zealous Steve Job follower in Lei Jun. Like the Apple founder, Xiaomi top honcho appeared in public sporting jeans and a black top.

Moreover, his approach in business was also taken from Steve Jobs’ school of hardknocks, always looking for simple solutions to every complex problem.

Lei, who founded the Xiaomi Technology in 2009, said comparing him to Steve Job would be awesome but admitted the title is quite a big shoe to fill in.

“China’s media say I am China’s Steve Jobs,” Lei told Reuters in an interview published today, according to CNET.com Friday. “I will take this as a compliment but such kind of comparison brings us huge pressure.”

Unlike other tech manufacturers, Xiaomi is only producing smartphones with majority of them are sold online in small quantities. However, Xiaomi pinned their success on the nice combination of short supply and their high-quality products.

For example, the Xiaomi MI-Two is very much similar to the leading smartphone brands Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 and yet it only cost 50 percent cheaper than Apple’s phone in the Chinese market. The model also boasts better graphic performance, thanks to MI-Two’s combination of a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU and Adreno 320 GPU.

Xiaomi has so far sold 300,000 units of MI-Two smartphones, though the company intentionally limit production of the device to capitalize on the consumers’ wants and monitor surpluses.

In an interview with Reuters.com, Lei forecasted seven million smartphones to be sold by the end of the year.

Apple Shares Plummet Anew

Apple suffered another major blow on the trading floor after its stocks plummeted anew, but this time the i-Phone and i-Pad maker lost four percent and closed down 6.4 percent to $538.79 on Thursday’s result on the stock exchange market.

After reaching its highest point ever since Apple started offering stocks, the Silicon Valley-based company saw its stock value declining fast and it now cost a fifth of its market value since its mid-September peak.

There have been lots of uncertainty over the last few months about Apple’s capability to stay profitable on the trading floor despite the emergence of Android-powered phones like that of Samsung and other tech companies.

However, the lessening profit margins also made investors a little bit concerned about the current performance of the company on the mobile market, especially with the introduction of new products such as the i-Pad Mini and the fourth-generation iPad.

Nevertheless, many analysts called it just a ‘temporary hiccups’ and believe Apple will recapture its old place on the trading game sooner than later.

Gene Munster, a senior market analyst in Piper Jaffray, believes the decline in stocks might be triggered by an article posted on Digitimes, which reported a nosedive in demand from Apple since the launching of their new products. Munster insisted it’s inaccurate to judge Apple’s market performance on the stock market since the decline in demand is expected after the launch of a new product.

Moreover, the recent pact between Nokia and China Mobile has some investors thinking about how Apple would fare in the largest mobile market in the world. China Mobile is expected to start selling the Lumia 920T, which is way cheaper than iPhone 5.

China Unicom is Apple’s carrier in China so far but China Mobile could begin offering iPhones and iPad probably early next year.

Dish-owned Blockbuster Could Sell Mobile Phones Soon

Blockbuster could soon be selling mobile phones at its retails stores after its mother company Dish recently announced its plan to provide phone services along with internet and videos.

Dish continues to diversify its business by updating its technology and providing new services other than their cables business. Obviously, Blockbuster also needs to make a shift to stay profitable amid struggles in the entertainment industry.

Dish’s owner Charlie Ergen recently launched Blockbuster Mobile, which main business is to sell various smartphones online. Blockbuster Mobile works with carriers Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. It also offers devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy S3.

Insiders believe Dish is planning to bring its online retail business to its Blockbuster stores soon. Dish bought Blockbuster Inc. in a bankruptcy auction in New York last year after agreeing to buy the home video and video game rental service provide for $320 million and cover $87 million in liabilities.

Dish previously promised to keep 1,500 Blockbuster and 15,000 employees across the United States, but the struggling movie and console game industry heavily hit hundreds of its stores and eventually forced Dish to lessen it to 850 locations. According to Bloomberg, Dish could soon be selling not only phones but its mobile services offering as soon as they get permission from Federal Communications Commission.

“Wireless will complement all of our technologies and allow us to be in more places and offer more of our services on one bill,” Dish chairman and co-founder Charlie Ergen told Bloomberg in October, according to CNET.com.

Dish is having a hard time hammering a deal with FCC to start its mobile service business due to objections from Sprint Nextel, which is demanding FCC to restrict Dish’s spectrum that would protect the H Block. The FCC is making sure it gets much money from selling that the H Block in a spectrum auction.

NASA Sending 1.5 billion Worth Rover to Mars in 2020

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced on Wednesday its plan to send another ‘buggy’ to the moon in 2020. NASA said the next unmanned vehicle to be sent to the Red Planet will be hugely based on the concept behind curiosity.

After a highly successful launching of Curiosity, NASA said its next Mars rover mission will cost around $1.5 billion which is very much within the budget threshold following a big budget cuts announced earlier this year.

“The challenge to restructure the Mars Exploration Program has turned from the seven minutes of terror for the Curiosity landing to the start of seven years of innovation,” John Grunsfeld, NASA’s science chief, said in a statement on CNET.com Tuesday.

Grunsfeld said the imminent restructuring of the Mars exploration program has not entirely halted NASA’s main objective of discovering more on the red planet, but instead it would be a stepping stone for the development of a new technology designed for space exploration.

NASA explained that the current technologies incorporated into curiosity – like the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent system that helped the nuclear-powered vehicle to have a safe landing – will be used again along with other spare parts from the successful rover mission, thus reducing the amount of expenditures.

“This mission concept fits within the current and projected Mars exploration budget, builds on the exciting discoveries of Curiosity, and takes advantage of a favorable launch opportunity,” Grunsfeld said after announcing the new mission at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in San Francisco.

In addition, Grunsfeld assured that the man and woman behind the success of curiosity will continue to work together towards achieving another milestone for human kind.

“This whole team…is still together and we’re going to leverage that to build on the Mars 2020 rover. That’s what enables us to do the whole plan within the current budget.”

So far, NASA’s next Martian venture is getting key support from scientist to politicians, including Californian congressman Adam Schiff, who believes launching the next rover will be much more ideal in 2018.

“While a 2020 launch would be favorable due to the alignment of Earth and Mars, a launch in 2018 would be even more advantageous as it would allow for an even greater payload to be launched to Mars,” he said. “I will be working with NASA, the White House and my colleagues in Congress to see whether advancing the launch date is possible and what it would entail.”

Dec. 2 Suprasses Black Friday, CyberMonday in Online Sales

e-Business giant eBay said Black Friday and CyberMonday were not as profitable as they had last Sunday, when eBay Marketplaces and Paypal gained most of their dollars since the start of the Holiday shopping spree.

Cyber Monday and Black Friday bargain bonanzas sure are this year’s biggest day for retailers and businesses in sales. However, as far as online dealing is concerned, Dec. 2 proves to be more profitable than any other date since Turkey day.

Paypal and eBay Marketplaces gained higher sales last Sunday and eBay vice president of Mobile Steve Yankovic had a logical answer for that.

“Sunday is typically a day of relaxation,” but because consumers always have their smartphones in hand, it’s easy to shop whenever they feel like it.

“We’re in a paradigm shift,” added Yankovic.

e-commerce catalyst Paypal also reported that mobile payment volume on Sunday surpassed Cyber Monday’s output by over $1 million, making December 2 the biggest mobile shopping day in the history of Paypal.

Moreover, eBay said it’s expecting to reach more than $10 billion in mobile volume from its mobile apps and Paypal for this year. Last September, eBay announced 100 million downloads of their mobile apps since its launching in the last quarter of 2008.

PayPal also released other details from Sunday’s megasale:

*PayPal recorded 44 percent more payment volume on Cyber Monday 2012 than Black Friday 2012.

*12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. PST was the busiest hour for online shopping during Cyber Monday 2012.

*With mobile devices, consumers around the world shopped most frequently between 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. PST on Cyber Monday 2012.

*PayPal recorded 166 percent increase in number of customers shopping with mobile devices on Cyber Monday 2012 as compared to 2011.

*Shoppers in these cities (Houston, Chicago, Miami, New York, and Los Angeles) made the most purchases through PayPal on Cyber Monday.

To make thing short, 2012 has been a big year for mobile business and it is expected to top more records in the coming weeks with the start of the Holiday season. Indeed, the market is experiencing a paradigm shift with ordinary days turning into special dates for mobile enterprises.

Samsung Plans To Release Gadget Goodies Next Year

Korean Cheabol Samsung is currently working on a set of new gadgets to be released in the coming year, including the successor to its flagship phone Galaxy S3. A reliable corporate insider reported Tuesday.

Speculations are already buzzing around the corporate world and the Internet universe about Samsung’s latest set of products as it attempts to further build its edge over Apple in the mobile market.

According to CNET.com, Samsung is now developing its next flagship phone called Samsung S4, which will reportedly feature a quad-core processor and a stunning 13 megapixel camera. The new smartphone will have a much larger screen like that of HTC Droid DNA along with a 5-inch 1080p HD display.

In addition, the S4 phone could run Android 5.0 and have 1.8GHz processors with an ARM Mali 400 MP GPU and 720p display. More leaks and news are expected to come out in the coming months, so tech lovers should better stay tune. A Galaxy Note 2 without a pen is also in the works for the European markets.

Samsung is also set to release it 7-inch smartphone model in 2013. After releasing several 7-inch and 7.7-inch models in the past, the Korean tech firm is at it. Samsung GT-N5110 was already getting DLNA certification two months ago and a GT-N5100 onto NenaMark.

NenaMark stated the new phone will offer a 1280×720 display, 1.6GHz quad-ore duo, with a Mali 400MP GPU and Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean operating system.

For a bonus information, Samsung’s SCH-2960L will be another model to watch out in the coming months. With a Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.5GHz processor, a 1280×720 pixel display, and Android 4.1.2 Jelly, the new Samsung model will present almost the same features as other of smartphones posses.

Samsung has been known for releasing a set of different phone models in the past in an attempt to cover all markets.