Archive

November 2022

Browsing

Calix has been one of the major success stories in the highly competitive technology communications sector over the past several years. While it’s a company few consumers will immediately recognize by name, Calyx cloud and software platforms empower Internet service providers of all categories and sizes to transform and electrify their businesses.

On a more practical level, Calyx’s capabilities and tools allow business service providers (BSPs) to support and promote their customers through compelling experiences, which we’ll explain in more detail. For BSPs, this translates into building a stronger, stickier bond with customers through more substantial customer acquisition, increased loyalty and long-term revenue potential.

Calix’s strategy of focusing on BSP, in an almost manic way, has paid off with business results. The company recently reported record revenue of US$236.2 million for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2022, despite challenging supply chain issues. Calyx is on track to exceed its 2021 revenue to $679.4 million, a 25.5% improvement over fiscal 2021.

SMB and MDU market opportunity

Calyx announces new solutions on November 16 specifically designed to help BSPs expand their footprint in the SMB (small and medium-sized business) and MDU (multi-dwelling unit) markets .

Built on a foundation of Calyx’s proven appeal in the single-family home market, these new products will leverage use cases that solve real connectivity problems in small businesses, apartment complexes, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and mixed-use properties .

Calyx has good reason to believe that its managed Wi-Fi strategy, which has enjoyed strong appeal in the single-family home market, will experience significant traction in the SMB and MDU markets.

There’s a healthy demand for ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage in these markets as well, and the management aspects are often the same pain points as single-family homeowners. Said slightly differently, most SMB and MDU customers do not like to deal with the hassle of managing the technical complexity of router setup, maintenance, and upgrades.

The SMB and MDU markets are not small. The US Small Business Administration reports 32.5 million small companies – broadly defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees – operating in 2021, a remarkable 99.6% of all businesses. In addition, it is estimated that there will be 126.7 million multi-family dwellings at the end of 2022, up from 68.8 million in 2019.

New Wi-Fi systems meet connectivity needs

Calyx introduces two new systems, the GigaPro GPR8802x and the GigaSpire Blast u4g. Both products are explicitly designed to meet the wireless connectivity needs of the SMB and MDU markets.

The GigaPro GPR8802x is a “purpose-built” switch designed for use by SMB and MDU customers. At a technical level, it is an Ethernet-based managed switch/ONT (Optical Network Terminal, aka modem) solution that provides seamless WAN integration, leveraging the ability of BSPs to manage it as a single system. makes it easy.

This aspect is important because it provides end-to-end visibility and management to the BSP with the Calyx Support Cloud and the Calyx Operations Cloud. With eight configurable Ethernet ports, eight analog voice ports, and automated service provisioning, this switch can open up new markets for BSPs who wish to grow their value proposition within their local communities.

The Calyx Family of Gigaspire Blast U4 Wi-Fi Systems

The Calyx Family of Gigaspire Blast U4 Systems | Image credit: Calyx


The appeal of Calyx’s managed services gets a shot of adrenaline with the Gigaspire Blast U4G, an integrated GPON (Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network) with residential gateway capability. Calyx designed this product with an “aesthetic shelf appeal” that homeowners and renters will find fresh and cool. The product supports fast Wi-Fi 6 wireless connectivity, making it ideal for apartment or condo dwellers in large properties or buildings.

benefit to BSP

From a business perspective, the Gigaspire Blast u4g could potentially optimize the opportunity for BSPs to attract the residential market as it can provide formidable and highly secure Wi-Fi to MDUs. Most importantly, the product integrates well into the Calyx Revenue Edge platform to reliably transport the company’s growing list of managed services.

The following examples come to mind that outline what the business impact can be:

  • BSPs can use these solutions to help provide apartment owners with the ability to provide highly secure surveillance services in their units, for example, smart door lock control and video surveillance.
  • From an SMB perspective, BSPs can use these products to provide retailers with the ability to provide guest Internet services with interesting e-commerce and advertising implications.
  • Calyx’s ability to provide BSPs with a customized mobile app — not to mention BSP co-branding possibilities with SMB and MDU customers — sets it apart from larger, institutional Internet providers like Comcast and Spectrum.

These solutions set the stage for Calyx to perfect its “SmartTown” concept, which will allow BSPs to support continuous, seamless Wi-Fi to homes, businesses and schools in local communities.

analyst view

It’s hard to deny the momentum behind Calyx’s strategy, which has been under way for the past several years. Clearly, the favorable market winds are in favor of what the company is trying to accomplish in the communication and connectivity sectors.

Interview with Michael Wenning, CEO and President of Calyx


First, consumers are tired of the seemingly endless parade of new “alphabet soup” wireless topologies that hit the market every 18 months or so.

Even though new wireless topologies offer substantial speed and latency advantages for consumers in gaming, working from home, videoconferencing, and video streaming, many users resist upgrading their wireless routers themselves to avoid the hassle .

Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E are rolling out now, and yet, many consumers won’t upgrade if the complexity is bothersome and the benefits of upgrading aren’t made clear and compelling.

Second, Calyx finds that SMB and MDU customers are just as interested in the new wireless capabilities as single-family homeowners.

Renters, in particular, want to enjoy the speed and latency benefits of a faster router but don’t want to invest in their own hardware. In addition, there are significant incremental revenue opportunities for landlords who can offer their tenants bundled value-added wireless services that are fast, secure and easily managed.

SMB customers depend on fast, operational and reliable wireless connectivity at the “guest client” level. Unlike enterprises, SMBs often lack the dedicated IT staff and necessary resources that a local BSP can provide to manage the small business’s wireless system and support any value-added services offered by the BSP. Can do.

marketing priorities

It cannot be overstated that the broadband market is highly competitive. Calix is ​​acutely aware of this and is taking significant steps to differentiate itself with platforms and solutions that allow BSPs to reduce operating expenses, provide more value-based “sticky” services to their customers, and allowing them the ability to customize their offerings.

Going forward, Calyx should continue to create examples of unique, compelling and highly extensible use models that BSPs can adapt and convey to their customers.

Creating and delivering new, easy-to-understand marketing content (especially videos), including subscriber testimonials, that homeowners, SMBs and MDU residents can wrap their heads around should continue to be a priority for the Calyx marketing team.

The company’s relative anonymity with consumers hasn’t deterred Calyx as it is clear in its view that its success is highly dependent on the success of its BSPs.

From a business outcome perspective, this has proven to be highly effective as Calyx happily plays a behind-the-scenes role that allows BSP to build solid and sustainable relationships with its customers.

With this backdrop, there’s little reason to believe the Calyx PlayBook won’t work in the SMB and MDU markets, given the similarities of challenges, needs and long-term desires shared with the single-family homeowner market.

Amazon doesn’t develop smartphones or PCs, and its tablets lack the widely used Google apps. Nonetheless, the company has built one of the most powerful consumer device ecosystems.

Under the banner of creating personalized, intuitive and active ambient experiences, its technology has begun to enter our lives, starting with smart speakers and delivering Alexa across a wide range of products from its own and other companies.

Over the past few years, such category-stretching products have been included as the wall clock that counts down to Alexa reminders, the Echo Loop Ring, and the recently revived Echo Auto. Even for Big Tech companies, such fights and over-doing are inevitable when trying to create new product categories.

For example, before launching its device on the Pixel smartphone, Google introduced a new type of AI-infused home camera for capturing spontaneous moments called Clips but discontinued it.

At its most recent device launch, however, Amazon demonstrated three approaches to redefining the boundaries of a tech category, each with implications for its market potential.

Extension: Kindle Scribe

In my last column, I wrote about a class of full-featured e-paper tablets that include extensive Android app compatibility. However, there is a group of products that look a lot like these e-paper tablets but that focus more on reading and note-taking.

Last year, for example, Rakuten introduced the Kobo Ellipsa, expanding the e-reader brand with a larger device and enhanced stylus functionality for marking up PDFs or taking notes. Amazon has now followed suit with the Kindle Scribe, expanding its popular e-reader line to become a tablet-sized note-taking device.

In expanding a familiar product line, Amazon gives Kindle fans more reason to keep the Kindle around. Amazon’s devices chief described its new use of Scribe as a replacement for legal pads.

A man journaling on a Kindle Scribe

Journaling on Kindle Scribe | Image Credits: Amazon


Neither the Scribe nor the Ellipsa offer the advanced note-taking features that the Onyx Book line or the best iPad apps can provide. However, they’re simpler to use, a bit less expensive, and extend the distraction-free appeal of e-readers to note-taking and annotation.

While the Kobo Ellipsa proved the concept, Amazon’s incredible distribution prowess and the Kindle’s brand recognition should help popularize this significant expansion of the venerable e-reader’s features.

The Swap: Echo Show 15 and Fire TV Omni

Speaking of product line expansions that include a diversion, Amazon also traded in on two of its bigger and newer display-based devices.

The Echo Show 15 is the newest and largest member of the company’s smart display line, marketed as keeping families organized. But its suitability for highly viewable areas within the home prompted the company to add the Fire TV video portal from its TVs and Streaming Stick to the device.

The Echo Show line will also give back to Amazon’s Fire TV product line, and Amazon will be bringing an Echo Show-like Ambient Mode to its high-end Fire TV Omni sets.

Fire TV Omni QLED Series Ambient Experience Widget

Fire TV Omni QLED Series Ambient Experience | Image Credits: Amazon


Amazon isn’t the first company to bring a streaming portal-like experience that isn’t TV. Earlier this year, Samsung brought its streaming portal to its M7 and M8 PC monitors. But with their TV-like 43″ display and 4K resolution, that wasn’t such a stretch.

Samsung has also equipped its TVs with more limited surround experiences, most notably its Frame TV, which displays artwork when movies and shows aren’t being streamed. Coincidentally, that TV looks like a bigger version of the Echo Show 15

The added features won’t be a game changer for the established TV category or the growing smart display category. However, borrowing Amazon’s feature set shows how the company can improve on the Echo Show line’s weak point (streaming channel diversity) while furthering its ambient approach mission in the typically immersive activity of TV watching.

The Splinter: Halo Rise

Amazon’s Halo product line, which focuses on wellness, is the new kid on the company’s device block; The first Halo wearable fitness tracker was launched late last year. However, it didn’t take long for the product line to take a different direction.

While many smartwatches and other wearables track sleep, Amazon has skipped the wrist for its entry into the sleep-tracking market. Halo Rise is placed on a bedside table and uses a mix of ambient radar and machine learning to detect different stages of sleep. This product avoids one of the main drawbacks of tracking sleep with wearable devices, namely, when should you charge them if you’re up all night?

Although sleep tracking may provide insight into improved health, any device placed in the bedroom deserves additional scrutiny in terms of how privacy is protected. Amazon cites several privacy-protecting benefits of its approach. These include keeping the camera and microphone out of the bedroom and a sensing method accurate enough to capture the sleep habits of the person closest to the device.

Halo Rise also includes a gradually brightening light to make waking up easier. However, this isn’t Amazon’s first bedside device. The company has released several smaller Echo Show products, including versions with 5″ and 8″ displays, which follow the closed circular Echo Spot, which act as smart alarm clocks. Lenovo also offers a smartwatch model that integrates with Alexa and others using the Google Assistant.

So, if you want the full functionality of an Echo Show and the Hello Rises to greet you in the morning, things might get a little crowded on your nightstand. In fact, Amazon showed only this combination at the launch presentation. So why weren’t the Echo Show’s features integrated into the Halo Rise?

hello rise and echo show sleep data

Echo Show Sleep Data (L) and Hello Rise | Image Credits: Amazon


Pricing, functionality and target customer factors present challenges to this. The radar-equipped Halo Rise will cost $140; That’s quite a premium over, say, the $35 that the Echo Show 5 usually commands. While the Echo Show represents a more information-rich take on the classic alarm clock, the Halo Rise is geared toward people who want to actively monitor their sleep activity and eventually see enough value to pay for a service subscription. Huh.

Also, returning to the privacy mandate, Amazon has taken laudable measures to keep Halo-tracked health information out of the Alexa knowledge graph. While this would still be possible in a combined device, it is easier to express conceptually in separate devices.

Alexa hasn’t been completely turned off from Halo Rise. For example, you can pull up your sleep report on an Echo Show or have an Alexa device play a wake-up song based on Halo Rise’s ideal wake-up time. You can also trigger Alexa bedtime routines, such as going to bed next to Halo Rise and dimming the lights. At some point, though, Amazon may find a way to make the one wake-up alarm ring to rule them all.

Rubin’s Review: Neat Frame

The explosion in hybrid work has prompted many companies to rethink their facilities and many home workers to rethink their setups. The endless barrage of video meetings has shown the value of dedicating a display—preferably the one hosting the webcam—for apps like Zoom or Teams, while the other monitor hosts the content shared on the call.

The Neat Frame is a roughly $2,500 dedicated video call device that runs Team Rooms or Zoom Rooms. According to the rules set by the conferencing software vendors, you must restart to switch between them.

Unlike most displays, its 15.6″ screen is fixed in portrait orientation, which brings the webcam down to eye level, so there’s no need to use a stand to prop it up, as is the case with many laptops Is. Neat includes an upgraded speaker for loud, clear audio that reverberates across the room and a microphone that the company has enhanced with noise-canceling intelligence.

neat frame

neat frame | Image credits: Neat


As a dedicated device, the frame provides better reliability, readiness, and security than using a single PC. The product’s audiovisual features and face-framing orientation make it ideal for face-to-face video calls; It is especially suitable for use in in-office phone booths for taking private calls.

However, while portrait orientation reduces desktop footprint, it is not suitable for sharing screen content, which typically has landscape orientation. Speaking of which, since it’s a standalone device, fetching content from another PC involves a different step versus the native PC client.

Neat says that Microsoft has integrated integration with the desktop version of Teams that enables it; However, an organizational account is required to use any Team Room device such as the Neat Frame. Free accounts are not supported.

Accepting video input so it can serve as a second display will also make it more versatile for home users, as will the ability to pivot the device from landscape to portrait orientation – even if the camera is only on top in portrait orientation are.

The Neat Frame is an example of a great purpose-built device that brings a more natural feel to the often-awkward ergonomics of video calling. Still, most home users would be better served by a more generalized second screen.

With a harsh COVID lockdown and work disruptions at an iPhone factory in China, Apple may be in for some fun this holiday season.

Labor unrest at the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory could slash production of up to six million iPhones just as the holiday season is about to head home, according to a Bloomberg report on Monday.

Foxconn’s situation has been further complicated by protests spreading in China over its zero-Covid policy, resulting in residential lockdowns and business closures in several major cities, including Zhengzhou.

According to guidance from Counterpoint Research, production delays have pushed the delivery time for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max to 37 days. However, the delivery time for the iPhone 14 is three days.

Meanwhile, Wedbush Securities estimates iPhone production is down 5% to 10% during the quarter.

“If an iPhone 14 Pro model were a holiday gift, you can pretty much write off the holiday at this point,” said Gene Munster, co-founder of Loop Ventures, a venture capital firm in Minneapolis.

“You might get lucky through a carrier. They have some inventory,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It appears that Apple is giving away more inventory to carriers than in its own stores.”

Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City, pointed out that carriers’ iPhone inventory was produced before the problems in China escalated.

“Those problems could have a greater impact on carriers as we head toward Christmas,” Rubin told TechNewsWorld.

Munster said inventory at Apple and other stores may pop up from time to time, but it tends to sell out quickly.

sophisticated supply chain

Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in San Jose, California, cautioned that Apple has not confirmed whether the current conditions will affect its holiday sales, but acknowledged that sources close to the Foxconn factory are suggesting that there are production problems. facility due to workers’ compensation issues.

“The big problem, though, is the COVID lockdown,” Bajarin told TechNewsWorld. “Taken together, there is a real possibility that Apple will reduce the number of iPhones projected for this quarter.”

Chart showing iPhone 13 Pro vs iPhone Pro wait times in the US, week 10 from launch: Chart

Chart courtesy of Counterpoint Research


Mark N., president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif. “Apple has an extraordinarily sophisticated supply chain capability and is undoubtedly factoring the Chinese factory protests into their ability to deliver products before Christmas,” Vena said.

“There will be some impact, although it will vary from product to product. It is quite possible that some popular products – such as AirPods – could see deliveries beyond Christmas,” Vena told TechNewsWorld.

While the iPhone 14 Pro and Max models may be harder to find, other Apple products are not affected. “We’re not seeing any supply chain issues with iPads, watches, or Macs,” Bajarin said.

Although this may change. “Today, the problems affect the iPhone, but because 50% of Apple’s revenue comes from products produced or assembled in China, other products may also be affected,” Munster said.

earnings call hesitates

Apple’s concerns about potential production problems were reflected during its last earnings call when it declined to give clear revenue guidance for the December quarter “due to macro uncertainty”.

“Apple’s performance in any given quarter is tied to the supply they can access. To the extent that these problems affect production, their financial results could be impacted,” Rubin explained.

“The iPhone is the most important product they make from a revenue perspective,” he continued. “In the past, when there was supply-chain disruption, they have played down the hit to their revenue or claimed that they could have done even better if they had been able to use or produce more product.”

“But they also have a much stronger track record than the industry of ensuring good supply availability,” he added.

Bajarin said that Apple is very concerned about what is happening in China and its impact on its supply chain. “They have already taken strong steps to move parts of their supply chain from China to India and elsewhere,” he added.

“Apple has been working with India for over 10 years, however it is only in the last four years that India has changed some of its policies on foreign investment and foreign controls, allowing Apple to expand there rapidly. permission to do so,” he continued.

He added that Apple is also concerned with President Xi Jinping’s overall approach to China, which is less open to outside markets and more controlled about inside markets, potentially affecting Apple in the long term. .

Apple Diversifying Supply Chain

Bajarin indicated that Apple is working behind the scenes in a number of different ways to diversify its supply chain.

“They haven’t said how aggressive they’re going to be, but we’ve already seen the seeds of that, especially when you look at what they’re doing in India,” he said.

There were also signs of this in 2021, when Apple announced 150 new production locations – 80% outside China.

“I have to believe that Apple has a solid backup plan in the works that is going to allow them to accelerate their detachment from China for at least the next few years,” he added.

A substantial overhaul, however, would take more than a few years, Munster maintained. “It is a slow process. It will take five to 10 years,” he said. “It is a difficult supply chain to rebuild in different countries.”

Vena predicted that, eventually, 50% of Apple’s production would be pushed outside China. “Taiwan, in particular, is under scrutiny especially because of the threat of an invasion by China, which would be devastating if it happened within the next 12 to 24 months,” he said.

Apple isn’t alone in its desire to reduce production in China. “All the electronics manufacturers that are heavily dependent on China are diversifying,” Rubin said. “Covid restrictions have been a contributor, but there is a larger set of issues including historical barriers to sales, technology sharing requirements and how capitalism reigns.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Thanks largely to Nvidia, GPUs have almost eclipsed CPUs as a technology driving advancement. When it comes to AI, especially on the training side, GPUs reign supreme. In general, GPUs make our games and even the most advanced photo and video editing tools work better — and with social media, many people are becoming creation experts.

But while AMD, Nvidia, and, more recently, Intel have played in this highly competitive space, all three have come to market recently with distinct strategies, each with unique benefits, risks, and opportunities. As we here in the US recover from our Thanksgiving food coma, let’s explore these strategies.

Then we’ll close with our product of the week: Microsoft’s new Arm-based Surface Pro 9 that could point to the near future of PC advancement.

Marketing Strategies: The Apple Example

My first degree was in merchandising, which deals with branding, shelving, product placement, and product strategy. As a result, I’m a little fascinated with how different companies approach the PC market.

For example, Apple is old school, vertically integrated, and uses lock-in to mine its base for money. This strategy resulted in massive profits, but the company was no longer able to lead the market with innovation. Granted, public companies are measured by profits, not innovation, and if you had to choose one over the other as a CEO who wants to keep your job, profits would also be your focus.

Except for the Microsoft Surface, other PC companies are more liberal, have higher interoperability, no lock-in, and enjoy far more innovation but face less customer loyalty and smaller margins. But they are also less likely to fail catastrophically because they are not mining their customers for money.

IBM’s near collapse in the early 1990s was largely due to a strategy similar to that of Apple. This happened because the clients usually do not like to stake money or do mining for money for extreme profits. Eventually, a company using this approach goes too far, and its customers leave the platform. This is roughly what happened with IBM and it prejudged the strategy Apple still uses.

For now, the strategy still works for Apple. However, this probably won’t work for Dell, HP, or Lenovo, because none of those companies can afford the Microsoft part of the solution individually and because their enterprise buyers are aware of the tactics used by Apple and have common Normally try to avoid it. Plague – Because it reduces customer power and corporations love buyer power a lot.

Having said that, while Apple’s marketing efforts have declined significantly since the departure of Steve Jobs in both magnitude and execution, Apple still leads the PC market in marketing, indicating that it once was under Jobs. How much was ahead, even though the company was far less profitable. Then.

Marketing goes to the core of the GPU strategies that we will be discussing.

NVIDIA

Nvidia is arguably the segment leader and displays with it’s deepest line, and it’s the only one of the three with a Halo product. It’s interesting because on the CPU side, AMD’s Threadripper spun that market on its ear and allowed AMD to move aggressively on Intel’s workstation opportunity. It usurped key leadership positions for AMD and Lenovo, using it in part to gain segment dominance.

On the GPU side, the closest thing to AMD’s Threadripper is Nvidia’s 4090 RTX card, which is a beast. It performs more than most need and draws so much power that it’s melting power connectors and forcing power supply upgrades to run the part. But, in terms of raw performance, now no one in its segment can touch it.

A halo strategy uses an expensive showcase product to attract people to the brand and, if done correctly, can lead to increased sales of more affordable products that will sell in higher volumes. In the automobile market, it’s like having a Mercedes-Maybach or a supercar (Ford most recently used the Ford GT) to drive people to the dealership.

Since there is no such thing as an Nvidia store, the traffic aspect of the 4090 RTX remains untested and untapped. However, it still gives Nvidia performance bragging rights and solidifies its perceived market leadership, even though most buyers will be buying more affordable and underpowered alternatives.

amd

As mentioned, it’s interesting that, given AMD’s success with Threadripper, it hasn’t come up with a similar strategy, which would be a Threadripper CPU and Threadripper-like GPU in a killer workstation or gaming rig. For now, it’s the Nvidia 4090 RTX card.

Instead, AMD has pulled out two cards in the performance sweet spot. Unlike what Ford did with the Ford GT, GM did with the Corvette, specifically with the new C8. It provides most of the performance advantages that the Ford GT offers in a far more useful and affordable fashion, allowing the Corvette to massively outperform the Ford GT while costing a fraction of what the Ford costs.

The idea of ​​performance at a price you can afford resonates with buyers and doesn’t create some of the image problems that a halo product can create, such as excessive cost and excessive power use, resulting in negative coverage It is possible sustainability.

Buyers love the values, and while you don’t get the same performance bragging rights or visibility as with a Halo product, you also don’t have a problem with a part that’s pushing performance boundaries resulting in meltdowns. There may be problems like connectors (which Nvidia reports are still few in number and may be the result of assembly errors).

intel

Intel is new to this market and has two big problems. The first is that people know and trust GPU parts from AMD and Nvidia, and the second is that those two companies are chasing each other so hard that it’s hard for another firm to catch them from behind. Almost impossible. Intel needs to build market share and performance isn’t up to the top end, but it can deliver on features.

This approach is closer to how Honda entered the car market by creating an affordable part that offers features beyond its price class and where the real volume is, especially during a tight financial market where consumers are more willing to spend their money. are looking.

Right now, people are becoming very frugal, and Intel is working hard for the frugal buyer who only has the budget for an entry-level part. Intel’s cards aren’t performing competitively with Nvidia’s and AMD’s top offerings, but they’re a fraction of the price and have many of the same features typically not in cards in Intel’s sub-$300 price bracket.

Wrapping Up: The Best Strategy

The plan of action that best reflects the seller’s capabilities is the one to implement. The halo product strategy works for Nvidia as it must maintain its mark of the performance leader in the segment.

Given the success of AMD’s Threadripper, I’m surprised AMD hasn’t employed a similar strategy. Still, its approach to providing all the performance you need and creating an impression of superior performance value is in line with the historical brand image AMD has built against Intel, where it was historically the value play.

Intel doesn’t yet have the performance to compete with AMD or Nvidia at the high end, but it has a similar feature set, and the idea of ​​providing value play is the only way it’s open. The timing was fortunate for Intel as the market is looking for higher valuations given current economic conditions, providing a significant boost to Intel’s outlook.

So, Intel’s approach isn’t the only one the company can currently execute. Luckily, it was incredibly well timed, suggesting it will be far more successful this year than it otherwise would have been.

tech product of the week

surface pro 9

The Surface was built to compete with Apple and has many of the same features: a limited, focused line, a design-forward configuration that’s as much art as it is function, and a premium experience.

Microsoft missed out by making its stores Microsoft stores instead of Surface stores, so the stores tend to underperform their Apple counterparts. But Microsoft is a fundamentally different company and needs to keep Dell, Lenovo, HP and others happy, I understand how this decision came about. I think it was wrong, given its aim.

That said, the Surface Tablet was the primary weapon it had, when it first came to market, against the threat the iPad represented: a tablet that had long battery life, was extremely light, and at the time, effectively Was positioned as a laptop killer.

Steve Jobs, who piloted that product, died and since then Apple has decided not to replace the laptop with the iPad. Instead, it wants people to buy both, stalling the replacement effort.

But Microsoft didn’t get that memo. The initial surface was somewhat patchy. It would run Office, but its battery life was poor for a tablet. Over the years, both performance and battery life have improved.

This most recent Surface Pro 9 Arm Edition is the ultimate tablet. It does the best job of providing an iPad-like experience while still delivering PC-level performance. In fact, in some cases, it outperforms PC performance due to its unique AI NPU (Neural Processing Unit).

Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Surface Pro 9 | Image credit: Microsoft


I initially noticed a drop in performance in Microsoft Hello’s facial recognition capability. Normally, it takes a few seconds for a typical PC to recognize you, and this new Arm-based Surface Pro 9 does it almost instantly. My desktop PCs with specialized cameras are not as fast.

The video game I play most often is City of Heroes. On low performing PCs, it has to be scaled back to run on an arm machine, and it crashes or fails to load. However, on this new Surface Pro 9, it loaded and ran and even gave me advanced graphics options that I usually don’t get unless I’m running a discrete GPU (although, I hope , if I turn them on, the frame rate will be unplayable). Still, the fact that the game even loaded and was playable was a first with such a tablet, especially a running arm.

Another interesting aspect of this latest Surface Pro 9 tablet is that it accepts not only the proprietary magnetic Surface charger but also a generic USB-C charger. I really like the magnetic charger because I trip over the power cord, and if you pull on it the cable detaches and doesn’t cause the laptop to fall to the floor. On the other hand, a USB-C charger is much more useful as you can use a third-party charger, borrow a charger or even use it to charge your phone.

The optional pen and keyboard are now nicely nested together (I’m forever losing the pen). While I generally prefer a larger screen and a notebook form factor, this latest Surface was surprisingly usable and incredibly portable. At less than two pounds, with up to 19 hours of battery life, 5G WAN capability, and vastly improved video conferencing camera features (thanks to that NPU), I think the Surface Pro 9 is the future of ultra-portable products.

When Microsoft’s Surface Pro 9 launched, I knew it would be very different, and it is. It’s the first Arm-based product I’ve tested that not only feels compromised but outperforms its x86 counterpart in battery life, connectivity, and conferencing, which begs the question: What will the next generation do?

Ultimately, I think the Surface Pro 9 arm product is a milestone for the next generation of PCs, and it’s my product of the week. Let’s hope Microsoft does the same for the Surface Laptop!

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

Streaming video content from non-mainstream providers can unwittingly make you a victim of content piracy. At first you may not care if you get a bargain pricing offer. But you have a chance to become a victim of scammers and hackers, lose personal data and have your financial assets stolen. This is a huge financial loss for consumers and legitimate creative content providers.

Paying a low-balled sign-up fee is often the first sign that you’re dealing with an illegitimate media operation. What most people don’t realize is that bad actors can just as easily steal legitimate creative content to make piles of money. The piracy occurs by using content operators’ mobile apps or content delivery systems against them.

This process turns participating consumers into a weapon that can dramatically hurt businesses’ profits and drive away less legit customers, says CEO of Verimetrics, a longtime security expert for the media and entertainment industry. Asaf warns Ashkenazi.

This digital piracy operation is becoming widespread in the video content space. Its new weapon is harmful to legitimate retailers and advertisers and a growing threat to Hollywood and other sectors like sports and entertainment.

“It is very difficult to measure the extent of piracy today. But it’s much broader than people think,” Ashkenazi told TechNewsWorld.

video piracy mitigation

Verimatrix is ​​a cyber security company based in California, with offices in Europe, that tracks application streams and website traffic. Its dual mission is to protect enterprise applications in mobile phones and provide anti-piracy services to businesses.

The insights Ashkenazi shared about this new approach to video piracy come from unexpected discoveries of digital traffic patterns when monitoring customers’ networks.

His company monitors what hackers do online with developed tools that can identify patterns that indicate an attack is imminent, so it can be minimized or thwarted.

Specialized cyber security protects automotive firms, banks and enterprises from data loss through their apps. Ashkenazi said the customer base is about 300 customers worldwide.

insider view

The cyber firm’s CEO articulated a philosophy that’s a bit unique to Digital Spy. He openly professes the belief that you can never completely prevent digital content from leaking.

Instead, Verimatrix developed proprietary technology services that disrupted the pirates’ business model. The goal is to eliminate a rogue service fast. When possible, they work to remove intrusions from video distribution pipelines.

“If we can make it more difficult for pirates to grab customer data and force them to spend more money to keep operating, they won’t make enough money. Then they don’t go after our customers,” he explained.

For example, let’s say cyber security can disconnect illegal distribution network connections after 10 minutes. In that case, illegitimate Pirate users won’t be able to watch the sporting event they paid for, Ashkenazi explained.

“Also, all the advertising revenue and continued subscription payments no longer go to the pirate streaming service. This would put them out of business,” he continued.

From file sharing to outright piracy

Ashkenazi considers the growth of digital piracy to be an interesting development. Criminals migrated from file-sharing exploits to advanced new technologies, and they learned to adjust to the technologies on their way to becoming modern-day content pirates.

“They’re no different than any other thieves. It’s really fascinating how digital criminals have evolved with technology,” he offered.

In the past, it was more organized enterprises that were doing it. A lot of the activity focused on file sharing. Much of it focused on The Pirate Bay, which launched in 2003, but mostly involved people sharing content with their peers.

Ashkenazi submitted that when people used file-sharing networks, they knew they were doing something illegal. Cheated customers of pirated video streaming networks today are not even aware that they are dealing with an illegal operation.

“When we moved into streaming, the pirates went away and became a more organized group that provided services. And what we see is that these services are looking more and more like legitimate services that are offered by legitimate providers. provide a better user experience than what is being provided,” he said.

The robbers are collecting incoming material from various suppliers. They offer a one-stop video shop with a great experience. He said that it is becoming a very lucrative business.

monetize hacked video distribution

It begs the question: How do they make money? They make money in three ways, often maximizing two or all three approaches in a single video streaming event.

The first method is very straightforward. Rogue business looks like a well-fixed legitimate service. The scams involve offering subscription prices that are much lower than what legitimate content streaming services charge. Because thieves don’t have to pay the source for the material, it’s all a profit for them.

Today video pirates access content distribution with very sophisticated high-tech equipment. According to Ashkenazi, initially, they were stealing content and re-streaming it.

Now they have ways to add and inject their content through legitimate suppliers and stream it for free. The pirating operation allows their unsuspecting customers to connect to the same delivery system that honest services use.

Creative content providers use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) of interconnected servers to speed up webpage loading for data-heavy applications. The legitimate content distributor pays the full cost of preparing the content for streaming and cloud services. Content pirates don’t need to do anything to re-route the video feed to their own streaming outlet.

“We found by working with our clients that legal service providers are paying approximately 20% of their costs to stream content to pirates. It is difficult to know the exact amount,” Ashkenazi said.

“Service providers cannot determine a legitimate paying user from a customer connecting to a hijacked video stream. Users are often not even aware they are using a pirated service,” he said.

two more plans

The second monetization method comes from customers who have to install apps that connect to the CDN. They inadvertently grant app permissions that enable piracy operators to grab your personal data.

Pirates sell this data to third parties. Criminals then use the stolen user information to initiate ID theft and make fraudulent credit card purchases and bank account withdrawals.

A third way that video content pirates make money is by injecting their own advertisements and other advertisements that are sold to legitimate retailers and businesses that do not know the deceptive company’s background.

hide and run tactic

The CEO of the cyber firm said that much of the growth in pirated video activity involves sports streaming. Some fake providers entice users for a short term or special event series and then disappear.

In the process, operators create maximum cash flow. They may suddenly stop and set up again with new URLs. Typically, their scams go undetected by victimized users, and businesses have little recourse through legal scrutiny.

“We have seen a large increase in two types of pirated services. These covert operations can be easily hidden because they do not have the infrastructure that can be identified and tracked by law enforcement,” Ashkenazi explained.

From the users point of view, the websites look legitimate. The money collection process takes place through channels that appear legitimate and are difficult to trace back.

Running a business without some cloud support is rare these days. Yet, when crafting a cloud strategy, companies seem to make some common mistakes. There are several of them here.

Making Your Cloud Strategy Only IT Strategy

Gartner said this week at its IT Infrastructure, Operations and Cloud Strategies conference that a successful cloud strategy requires support from IT outsiders.

“Business and IT leaders should avoid the mistake of building an IT-focused strategy and then trying to ‘sell’ it to the rest of the business,” Marco Minardi, vice president analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. “Business and IT must be equal partners in the definition of cloud strategy.”

“Technology for technology’s sake is generally not a good idea,” said David Smith, vice president analyst at Gartner.

“Anytime you do something, you want a clear vision of why you’re doing it, what the business reason is,” Smith told TechNewsWorld.

“People look at it and say, ‘It’s technology. Let the technologists deal with it,'” he continued. “What happens then is that people focus on the adoption phase – which is about how you do things and when – which is different from the strategy part, which focuses on whether you What are you doing and why are you doing it.”

Change in exit strategy

Organizations often do not have an exit strategy in place with a cloud provider because they do not envision leaving the cloud. Furthermore, formulating such a strategy can be difficult. “People don’t like the answers they’re going to get, so they avoid it,” Smith said.

During the early days of the cloud, vendor lock-in was a significant fear, but that’s less the case today, said Tracy Wu, an analyst at Forrester, a national market research company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.

“Some companies will prefer to be locked down with a specific vendor to get to market sooner or take advantage of specific pricing or services,” Wu told TechNewsWorld.

Still, she said, “organizations should always think of a plan B whether it’s the cloud or some other option.”

“That being said,” he continued, “it’s rare to hear of companies that actually pull out of a specific cloud provider completely.”

Confusing cloud strategy planning with cloud implementation planning

Organizations should always have a cloud strategy plan before implementation or adoption. Strategic planning is created during a decision phase in which business and IT leaders determine the role of cloud computing in the organization. Next comes a cloud implementation plan, which puts the cloud strategy into effect.

“If you call something a strategy, and it’s really an adoption plan, you end up with hundreds of pages of details that aren’t of interest to business people, so you scare them away, Smith explained.

“A good cloud strategy should be a short and consumable document, consisting of 10 to 20 pages or slides,” Meinardi said.

Some areas commonly overlooked in cloud strategy planning, as identified by Wu, include key goals, targeted revenue targets, new revenue streams, and the new business or traction the organization wants to build using the cloud.

“Too often, companies get into a rush to adopt the cloud and only think about the implementation aspect without thinking of the higher goals or the larger strategy at hand,” he said.

Comparing a Cloud Strategy to Migrating Everything to the Cloud

Minardi explained that many business and IT leaders shy away from formulating a cloud strategy because it would mean they would be forced to use cloud computing for everything. “Organizations should keep an open mind and partner with a non-cloud technology expert, such as an enterprise architect, who can bring a comprehensive perspective to the definition of your cloud strategy,” he advised.

On the other hand, some organizations believe that moving to the cloud is an easy task.

“One of the biggest challenges companies face is they think they can take what’s going on and move it to the cloud,” said Jack E. Gold, founder and principal analyst at J.Gold Associates ” IT Consulting Company Northborough, Mass.

“To get the best benefits from a cloud implementation, you need to rethink your applications, solutions, architecture and strategy,” Gold told TechNewsWorld.

“They also don’t do a great job of deciding which apps should stay on-premises and which should move to cloud environments,” he added.

“There are a lot of apps that will never go to the cloud,” he continued. “They’ve been around for 10 years. They’re going to be around for another 10 years. Why bother?”

Outsourcing Evolution of Your Cloud Strategy

As tempting as it may be for other business and IT leaders to build a cloud strategy, Gartner doesn’t recommend it. Outsourcing is very important, it said.

“It makes sense to outsource during the adoption phase where you may need outside expertise,” Smith said. “What happens, though, is that it’s all too easy to put yourself in a position where you’re allowing your vendors to define your strategy.”

“If you want to go out and get help from someone who knows what they’re doing, that’s fine, but you have to look at what they’re doing,” Gold said. “You don’t want to just throw checks at the wall. You need to be involved in figuring out your strategy, even if someone else is helping you put it together.

Wu agreed. “I wouldn’t say that outsourcing strategy is a bad idea unless the entire strategy is being outsourced, with absolutely no direction from the company,” she said. “It’s really a big part of what leading global systems integrators do when they help design and implement cloud strategy.”

Comparing cloud strategy to ‘cloud first’

Gartner explained that the “cloud first” approach means that when someone wants to create or own new assets, the public cloud is the default place to do so.

“But cloud-first doesn’t mean cloud only,” Mainardi said. “If businesses and IT leaders adopt a cloud-first principle, their strategy must work on exceptions to the default option that will apply elsewhere besides the cloud.”

Wu notes that some of the assets best placed outside of the cloud are data with heavy residency requirements (data cannot leave a specific region or country), data that needs to be physically located outside of the location being processed for latency or performance reasons. Must be relatively close, and where data exits is very expensive, such as in big data applications and AI.

Believes it’s not too late to design a cloud strategy

Gartner argues that it is never too late to develop a cloud strategy. “If organizations drive cloud adoption without a strategy in place, it will ultimately lead to resistance from those who are not aligned on the key drivers and principles of the strategy,” Meinardi said. “As a result, this resistance will slow cloud adoption and potentially jeopardize the entire cloud project.”

Qualcomm announced its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor last week. The key improvement is the enhanced AI that will work behind the scenes to improve the user experience on the phone due to launch in a few weeks.

This AI implementation should significantly improve most tasks, from how well the modem works to optimizing both voice and data connections for image capture, viewing, and improving overall power efficiency.

In short, the next generation of Snapdragon 8 premium smartphones should outperform any previous generation and any phone that doesn’t use Qualcomm technology (like, say, oh, iPhones).

Let’s talk about how AI will exponentially improve your smartphone experience, then close with my product of the week, an AMD-based business notebook from HP that’s the new norm in size and capacity for performance-oriented mobile workers. Could

Qualcomm’s coming AI disruption

2020 is likely to be known as the decade of AI. The vast majority of where artificial intelligence is used today is in externally-focused applications for sales and marketing. The AI ​​we deal with most, such as those from Google and Apple, are not really AI at present, but speech front-ends for existing Internet search engines.

This is the reason why the promised experiences of Siri-like interactions on our phones have fallen short of expectations. But just as AI is evolving in the rest of the tech industry, so are the AI ​​capabilities in our smartphones, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 solution is a significant AI boost.

This AI improvement will initially benefit performance and battery life, both of which received criticism in the first generation of the Snapdragon 8.

For graphics performance, AI can be used to allow for real-time upsampling, resulting in better images for things like video and games, with less processing overhead, up to 25% faster GPU performance, 4.35 Up to times faster AI performance (depending on use case), and more efficient power usage for better battery life.

Now moving on to the feature improvements which are also important.

network, camera, sound

Networking improvements include Wi-Fi 7, the latest Wi-Fi technology, which should offer much faster data rates and potentially greater range. However, testing will have to wait for the availability of Wi-Fi 7 routers that are expected to hit the market soon.

AI improvements to the camera include more accurate face and object recognition, including a sharp increase in processor-intensive features like background blue, which has become popular for video calls since the pandemic (since we all share our offices). don’t keep it neat enough to do).

Expect AI camera features to better provide for automatic picture editing, making the resulting image look more professional and all objects in the frame clearer. The new camera capability should include 8K HDR video encoding, which is coming in time for 8K TVs and monitors to ramp up in 2023 and hopefully cost much less than we have today.

For most of us, it’ll just be premature obsolescence protection, assuring that when we finally do get an 8K display, we’ll have something we can show on it.

Improved image segmentation enables the camera to better capture or block out elements at different depths in the picture, allowing the AI ​​to apply custom lighting and contrast to these elements to make them pop out of the image. want to see and more easily allow you to remove whatever you want from the picture, like your cousin photobombing you.

Hear significantly enhanced sound with levels of active noise cancellation that many of us have only experienced. In the demo, turning on this feature seemed to remove all external noise except for the speaker’s voice, which is important for those of us either calling or doing video conference calls in noisy environments Huh. This technology is potentially applicable to both smartphones and laptops.

futuristic mix of smartphone and laptop

Most of the features showcased with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor will also be available on the laptop. With Microsoft removing the need for emulation from the Arm processor, the performance jump on laptops based on this part should be much greater than it would have been for the newer processors.

This opens the door to a new hybrid product potential that allows a single device to meet the needs of both a laptop and a smartphone with accessories for use cases, creating a unique advantage for this superior Qualcomm technology .

Longer battery life, greater performance, and the vastly improved videoconferencing capability that x86-based systems can exceed will go a long way toward turning Qualcomm-based PCs from niche products to mainstream offerings.

Furthermore, the ever-tighter integration of smartphone and laptop use cases could ultimately result in a hybrid solution that renders both existing platforms obsolete and creates something new that is potentially more capable, less expensive, and less demanding. is complex enough to support very different offerings today. ,

Conclusion: Our AI Future

AI applied to our personalized technology that promises far better pictures and sound Automatic, advanced, and more easy-to-use security features such as biometrics Better network and system performance Longer battery life and longer battery life Is.

However, this is only the beginning of the AI ​​revolution, as the changes to come will edit your video image in real time to make sure you look your best in pictures, movies and especially video calls, and make your device look like the real world. Allow problems to be solved better. — Like real-time foreign language translation.

With improvements in head-mounted displays, mixed reality technologies and the coming metaverse revolution, we are at the tip of the iceberg that new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 solutions are anticipated. As amazing as it is, the best is yet to come.

tech product of the week

HP EliteBook 865 G9

There was a time when there was a huge difference in price and performance between Intel and AMD notebooks. Intel-based systems performed better, especially with regard to battery life in laptops, but they cost more. The AMD notebook performed nearly as well, but took a bigger battery life hit and cost less. Those days are essentially over, as shown by this latest HP EliteBook 865 G9.

It’s an AMD-based, high-performance notebook with good battery life and the first notebook with USB 4, matching Intel’s Thunderbolt technology in terms of performance. As you’d expect, a product with performance that potentially exceeds Intel’s with a larger screen and total security will be expensive, so expect a price tag of around $2,000 when fully configured. The admission price is closer to $1,500, depending on the specials available at the time of purchase.

HP EliteBook 865 G9 Notebook PC

HP EliteBook 865 G9 Notebook PC | Image credit: HP


The 16-inch display works well in a coach seat on a plane for movies and is probably the largest display you can reasonably use while in coach, though not comfortably unless you have Don’t have an extended legroom seat. Otherwise the keyboard is too close.

The HP EliteBook 865 G9 also comes with LTE-A Pro if you want WAN network capability on top of its Wi-Fi 6E capability. It’s got integrated AMD Radeon graphics, so it’s no gaming box, but it plays the games I play mostly just fine, and streamed or downloaded movies and TV shows are amazing, which I used it the most while traveling on an aeroplane. ,

Battery life for video playback is an impressive 20-plus hours, with the only downside being the display, which is an adequate IPS panel but would have been better with a 4K OLED option that wasn’t available this round.

Finally, with HP’s pioneering Wolf security package, which is critically important in this less-secure digital world, the HP EliteBook 865 G9 is the perfect offering for the road warrior who also wants a decent-sized screen — and This is my product of the week.

MediaTek’s brand is often associated with affordable, budget, Android phones. However, the company has made incremental inroads into more premium, high-performance models. The launch of the MediaTek Dimensity 9200 chipset is a powerful step in that direction.

Like all smartphone chips, the Dimensity 9200 is a system on a chip (SoC), meaning it has integrated functionality in a single solution for wireless and cellular connectivity, graphics and system performance, among other capabilities.

Similar to Apple silicon or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon offerings, this integrated approach facilitates the smaller form factor designs that have always been important in mobile devices, longer battery life and increased power efficiency without compromising speed.

MediaTek is promoting this mobile chip to be the first in the industry to use the Armv9 Gen 2 architecture, which requires new cores. A so-called “big” Cortex-X3 core handles the toughest tasks with the help of three Cortex-A715 performance cores.

In addition, the 9200 includes four Cortex-A510 “low-power” cores to optimize battery life. This combination facilitates performance improvements of up to 10% to 12% compared to the legacy Dimension 9000, but is believed to reduce power consumption by a meaningful 25%.

I spoke with MediaTek GM/Corporate Marketing Finbar Moynihan about the Dimensity 9200 at its launch last week. The following video clip highlights that conversation.

better graphics performance

The attractive element of the Dimensity 9200 is the improvement in graphics performance. The solution is one of the first chips in the industry to take advantage of Arm’s new Immortalis-G715 GPU, which provides hardware raytability, one of the most popular gaming technologies in the PC and laptop arena. According to MediaTek, the Dimensity 9200’s implementation is 32% faster than the Dimensity 9200’s CPU while using a remarkable 41% less power.

Given MediaTek’s legacy strengths in Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, it’s not surprising that the Dimensity 9200 shows improvements in those areas. Unlike previous generations of its mobile chips, the Dimensity 9200 includes both millimeter wave 5G and sub-6GHz connectivity, which will benefit consumers who look for faster cellular data in more parts of the world.

The Dimensity 9200 also offers Wi-Fi 7 support. With Wi-Fi 6 and 6e still trending in routers, smart home devices, and smartphones, MediaTek should be commended for future-proofing the Dimensity 9200 with Wi-Fi 7 capability as it delivers potentially game-changing latency and performance. Provides wireless speed advantages.

Another interesting feature of the Dimensity 9200 is that the chip’s Image 890 signal processor is the first to fully support RGBW camera sensors. These sensors not only provide more brightness and detail in images than native RGB, but they can also blur background images in real-time video. A demo showing this capability was one of the highlights of the announcement event.

analyst comments

During its recent analyst event in Sonoma, California, where it launched the Dimensity 9200 among other announcements, the company took great pains to underline that MediaTek is “more than mobile”. This claim isn’t surprising, as the smartphone market has slowed down dramatically over the past few years. After all, the company has a strong presence in the router, smart TV, IoT, and other device categories.

MediaTek isn’t usually a company to talk about in the US smartphone market, given that Apple and Qualcomm dominate the space with their respective silicon and Snapdragon solutions. But this may change soon as MediaTek is increasing its presence in mid and low-end handsets.

Furthermore, if the US economy slips into a recession in 2023, as many economists predict, the high-end segment of the market is likely to come under tremendous pressure. MediaTek’s strategy to push bleeding-edge technology into the more affordable mid-range segment of the market could pay big dividends as consumers find it challenging to pay $1,500 or more for the highest-end Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. looks like.

Leader in Smartphone Chip Shipments

There are definite signs that this strategy is working. MediaTek has been the No. 1 global smartphone chip shipment provider for the past two years. Industry reports indicate that MediaTek accounts for 37% of global smartphone chips, compared to Qualcomm’s 28%.

Of course, MediaTek’s chips don’t appear in the sexier mobile devices people are used to. Nevertheless, they offer the right mix of performance, innovation, and affordability that increasingly appeals to “mainstream” consumers.

To be clear, MediaTek doesn’t want to walk away from the mobile phone space – and shouldn’t. The “More than mobile” moniker is an effective marketing slogan because it correctly suggests that the company is into more products than casual users beyond smartphones. However, it also allows the company to remind people that it is focusing on future markets, such as VR, automotive, Wi-Fi 7 and 5G.

Apple and Qualcomm get much of the media attention when they release a new chip, but with its Dimensity 9200, MediaTek shows it can play with the big boys. Even if it doesn’t grab all the industry headlines, MediaTek appears to be successful – and the company’s leadership team likes it.

If you’re looking to give the gift of privacy this holiday season, you might want to check out the 2022 edition of Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included buyer’s guide, which was released on Wednesday. The annual guide includes privacy reviews of over 75 popular consumer electronics goodies and will be continually updated throughout the season.

Possible gifts in the guide so far include the Apple Watch, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Echo, Garmin fitness trackers, Google Chromecast, Steam Deck, and the Meta Quest Pro.

According to Mozilla researchers, MetaQuest Pro can be especially challenging for privacy seekers. To get the full scoop on privacy for the gadget, a buyer would need to have at least 14 browser tabs open to peruse the privacy documents totaling 37,700 words — which is roughly 6,747 words longer than Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” And very little is interesting to read.

,[T]The question it comes down to is, does Meta/Facebook have your best interests at heart when it collects all the data Quest Pro is capable of collecting? Mozilla asks in its guide. “From Cambridge Analytica to where we are today with Mark Zuckerberg’s hopes for the metaverse, the answer to that question is an overwhelming no.”

Mozilla Privacy Not Involved Holiday Buyers Guide Infographic

Image credit: Mozilla


Meta is not alone in creating prolix privacy policies. The researchers noted that even products like the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Pixel watch come with multiple privacy policies for the hardware, apps and companies with which they share data.

“It sounds like the Rube Goldberg experiment privacy documentation companies are trying to throw at consumers,” Jan Caltrider, the guide’s lead researcher, said in a statement.

“If I am struggling to understand it as a privacy researcher, the situation for consumers is much worse. It’s not right,” he added.

Caveats and Hairsplitting

Jawwad Malik, security awareness advocate for KnowBe4, a security awareness training provider in Clearwater, Fla., stressed that the purpose of privacy policies is to inform users about how their information will be used and for what purposes so they can make informed decisions. Huh.

“When the policies are so complex and prohibitive to read, most people will just click through to use the app or service,” Malik told TechNewsWorld. “This puts them at risk because they may be consenting to have their information used in ways they are not aware or comfortable with.”

“Complex privacy policies make it more difficult than necessary for end users to fully understand the privacy they expect from the company and their rights as a user,” said Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate at Comparitech. consumer protection products.

“The more complex the privacy policy, the more you’ll find exceptions, warnings, hidden terms, and haircuts,” Bischoff told TechNewsWorld.

However, Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a research and public policy organization in Washington, DC, pointed out that privacy policies are often complex because digital products and services are complex.

Plus, he continued, the companies making these products face regulators not only in the 50 states but all over the world. “With these companies facing heavy penalties for any errors or omissions, it’s not surprising that lawyers have started writing these terms,” ​​Castro told TechNewsWorld.

“Many of these privacy policies are often ‘for lawyers, by lawyers’ for consumers,” he added. “These companies are not trying to defraud consumers – they are trying to avoid penalties. But if they oversimplify or generalize, they will face penalties like the nearly $400 million Google settlement.”

Save the Jargon for the TOS

Malik countered that while privacy policies are important to legally protect organizations that use customer data, they should be done in a transparent and easy-to-understand manner so that people can make the right decisions for themselves.

“While complex policies may provide some protection from litigation, they can open up a whole new set of challenges for organizations if they are found to be intentionally vague about how they deal with customers,” he said.

Because tech companies are so concerned about privacy-related litigation with their products or services, they are willing to write complex privacy documents that protect their own interests, often at the expense of the consumer, said Mark, president and principal analyst at SmartTech. Ann Vena of the Research in San Jose, Calif.

“Tech companies should be required to write more simplified privacy documents that consumers can understand,” Vena told TechNewsWorld. “Apple, in particular, is very good about this in its privacy policies which are often written in easy-to-understand language.”

“Privacy policies should be simple and human-readable. Save the legal jargon for terms of service,” Bischoff said.

Too many connections

Researchers at Mozilla noted that their privacy guide has become tighter than ever due to the increase in connected devices on the market.

“We are living through an unprecedented explosion of connected products,” researcher Misha Rykov said in a statement. “Now there are children’s toys, litter boxes, sunglasses and vacuums that connect to the Internet – and then scoop up and share precious personal information.”

Caltrider said what many consumers don’t realize is that every connection from a device to the Internet opens an entry point into their homes. He told TechNewsWorld, “Combine that with the apps you need to control these devices — apps that control microphones and cameras and can access contacts and location information — and it’s about privacy.” Raises a lot of questions.”

“If you try to read the privacy policies of everything you bring into your home, it’s nearly impossible,” she said. “I do this for a living, and it makes my head spin trying to understand Amazon, Meta, or Verizon’s vast network of privacy policies.”

privacy trade-offs

For people who want to protect their privacy and don’t want to read privacy policies, there are measures they can take, although they often require trade-offs.

“It’s possible to prevent unwanted tracking by disabling Wi-Fi connections on devices that don’t require core functionality, such as smart TVs,” explained Chris Clements, vice president of solutions architecture at Cerberus Sentinel, a cybersecurity consulting and penetration consultancy. Testing Company in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Not connecting the TV to a network prevents the manufacturer from collecting tracking data or injecting ads into the interface, but the trade-off is that you may not get any firmware updates that could introduce additional features.” is or can fix known issues,” Clements told TechNewsworld.

“Consumers should be especially wary of cheap no-name devices equipped with microphones or cameras,” he warned. “There are numerous examples of manufacturers recording and sending all sensor data back to overseas servers without the user’s consent or knowledge.”

However, he acknowledged that in practice, it can be challenging to thoroughly understand the privacy implications for any given product. “There are a lot of legal loopholes that can be built into complex confidentiality agreements, as well as few good ways for the average person to confirm whether manufacturers are living up to their end of the agreement,” he added.

A technology forum watchdog group reported Monday that it has found more than 100 Facebook groups, some with thousands of members, where business management accounts are bought and sold, in violation of the social network’s rules.

The accounts can be used to run multiple pages and advertising campaigns, according to an investigation by the Tech Transparency Project, a Washington, D.C.-based information and research organization, creating new opportunities for online scams, misinformation and election interference. Can Impact of major technology platforms on society.

TTP Director Katie Paul told TechNewsWorld, “For years, Facebook has claimed that its artificial intelligence systems can clean its platform, but time and time again, we have found that Facebook’s technology fails to remove harmful content. that violates its policies.” “That’s unfortunately also true for this black market for ad accounts.”

TTP explained that Business Manager accounts allow social media managers and marketers to manage a collection of Facebook ad accounts, Facebook Pages, and Instagram accounts from a single dashboard. It added that Facebook’s parent company Meta promotes them as a “one-stop shop” for advertising and marketing on its platform.

The report notes that accounts are particularly valuable to scammers because business managers can run a range of advertising campaigns and easily add new users and ad accounts to expand their reach.

In Facebook groups examined by TTP, the group found that users often sold accounts for large amounts. Several accounts are linked to someone’s credit cards, it continued, indicating they were hacked or stolen. “It’s obviously a big problem for individual users or small businesses who all of a sudden have an unauthorized person racking up big charges on their card,” Paul said.

The report also found that in some cases, sellers offered approved accounts to advertise political, election and social issues.

facebook act

After being alerted to the situation, Facebook began weeding out the black market. “We removed groups that were flagged to us last week for violating our policies, and we will continue to review additional groups and remove violators.” the company said in a statement provided to TechNewsWorld by spokeswoman Erin McPike.

In addition to deleting the group, the company said it has set up checkpoints for a number of group administrators who are required to provide additional information before they can access their accounts.

Regardless of Facebook’s actions, the report says the black market raises some troubling questions for the company and its parent Meta. Given Facebook’s long-standing scam ad problem and its history with Russian election interference, it’s unclear why Meta isn’t doing more to combat this illegal trade, the report said.

Clearwater, Fla. Jenny Grisdoorn, senior manager of global social media strategy at KnowBe4, a security awareness training provider in the U.S., cited Facebook’s community guidelines as evidence of a lack of concern about fraudulent accounts. Those guidelines state, “If it appears to have been hacked or compromised and we are unable to confirm ownership of the account after one year, we may disable or delete your account.”

“That should be enough to state that Facebook doesn’t care about getting rid of these fake or hacked accounts, so it’s best that anyone who uses the platform does their part,” Grisdoorn told TechNewsworld. Protects personal information as much as possible.”

Fake Accounts, Real Revenue

Some critics of Facebook have suggested that the social network has taken a lighter touch on fraudulent accounts because they generate revenue.

“These black-market Business Manager accounts are approved to advertise on Facebook. This means that Facebook profits whenever the purchasers of these illegal accounts run ads on the platform.

“This raises new questions about how much of Facebook’s advertising revenue is coming from hacked, stolen or smuggled ad accounts,” he added.

While acknowledging that Facebook can make money from fraudulent accounts, Will Duffield, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a Washington, DC think tank, pointed out that fake accounts don’t generate as much revenue as legitimate accounts.

“There’s some incentive not to hit the problem too hard, but on the business side, every black market account means a business customer is dissatisfied because their account has been stolen,” Duffield told TechNewsWorld.

“If legitimate accounts are being stolen and turned into black market accounts, that doesn’t bode well for Facebook,” he said.

platform for election interference

Facebook has a longstanding problem with accounts being hijacked to run scam ads using people’s credit card information, TTP reports. It’s easy to see how Business Manager accounts could be useful to scammers, the report continued, given their ability to run multiple ad campaigns at once.

It said owners of Business Manager accounts have repeatedly described how hackers have taken over their accounts, raising their billing limits by raising thousands of dollars to spend on scam ads that lure people to suspicious e-mail addresses. Commerce leads to websites.

TTP’s investigation also found sellers offering accounts that could run ads on social issues, elections or politics. This raises concerns that they could be used for coordinated unauthentic activity and election interference, the report said.

“Facebook executives often speak of their efforts to prevent election interference, but at the same time, the company is facilitating a black market for accounts that can run election ads in specific countries,” Paul said.

“Facebook is essentially undermining its own election security efforts with its failure to address this issue,” she continued. “The Facebook Business Manager accounts identified by TTP are of particular concern because they can run multiple advertising campaigns at once, increasing the ability of bad actors to spread misinformation.”

Challenging work

Controlling disinformation on Facebook is a challenging problem, said Vincent Reynold, an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Emerson College in Boston.

“It is extremely difficult for Facebook to identify and suppress disinformation because the expression of disinformation continues to evolve on these platforms,” ​​Raynauld told TechNewsWorld.

“If Facebook sets up a filter to catch certain types of misinformation, the creators of misinformation will adjust its structure so that it escapes the filter and impacts public conversation,” he explained.

Issues like hijacked accounts have always been a part of Facebook, he said, but the overall weight of Facebook when it comes to disinformation and its impact on political processes makes these types of issues more important to the public. .

“Social media has become an integral part of people’s daily lives, especially when it comes to accessing information that influences not only consumer decisions but political decisions as well,” he said.