Thursday, October 23, 2014

Amazon reports big losses from failed Fire Phone experiment

Amazon reports big losses from failed Fire Phone experiment

After a flopping Fire Phone performance Amazon is deep in the red.

According to the company's third quarter earnings report the Amazon losses have increased to $544 million (about £339, AU$621). Compared to last year's $25 million (about £12m, AU$22m) operating loss, there has been a dramatic increase of 20 times.

Of course the major contributing factor for all this is undoubtedly Amazon's recent unsuccessful experiments with Fire Phone. Amazon Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak noted that the company took a $170 million (about £106m, AU$194m) hit stocking and selling the unpopular phone.

Amazon also has a $83 million (about £51m, AU$94m) worth in Fire Phone inventory in its warehouses.

Amazon has also invested into the development of new products including the Fire TV and Kindle Voyage and a new Amazon Dash barcode reader. Not to mention that giant load of cash Amazon dropped on its recent acquisition of Twitch for $970 million (about £605m, AU$1.1b).

Sales are up to little effect

Despite this massive operating loss, Amazon's net sales saw a 20% increase with revenue amounting to $20.58 billion (about £12,83b, AU$23.49b) in this third quarter. Despite these good numbers they were still less than investors were expecting.

The big take away from all this is you should put your hopes too high up for a Fire Phone 2. Given that critics panned the handset and consumers were lukewarm on the device, the likelihood of another Amazon Phone isn't looking very good.

  • Will Amazon's next big thing be wearables and smart home gadgets

Apple continues eyeing sapphire screens despite losing its main supplier

Apple continues eyeing sapphire screens despite losing its main supplier

Despite losing its primary manufacturing partner, Apple is adamant on producing sapphire screen for its mobile devices.

Reuters reports Apple is currently reviewing its options to continue producing sapphire screens. The Cupertino company is even purportedly considering teaming up again with GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), Apple's former primary sapphire screen producing partner who recently filed for bankruptcy.

"We're going to continue evaluating GTAT's progress on larger sapphire boule (raw cylinders of artificially created sapphire) development, as well as consider other options for the facility," spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said

Between the sapphire screens used in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus' TouchID sensor and a sapphire laden Apple Watch still on its way, there are many reason for Apple to continue its production of the scratch resistant material.

Call it a separation phase

Earlier today a settlement between the two companies revealed GTAT was backing out of its current sapphire production business.

As part of the deal the advanced materials company was allowed to walk away with all its intellectual property. GTAT also agreed to pay back the $439 million Apple had prepaid the company as an investment.

While GTAT will stop making sapphire materials, it plans to focus on supplying the equipment companies need to make sapphire materials. The two companies also agreed to continue in a technical exchange, sharing information on the development new processes to grow next generation sapphire.

So although they're broken up, Apple is strongly interested in getting back together with GTAT to produce more sapphire screens in the future.

  • Check out the latest products to get a tiny sliver of sapphire, the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3

Google IO 2015: what we want to see

Google IO 2015: what we want to see

In the months since the less-than-thrilling IO 2014, Google has unleashed a number of tantalizing products and intriguing concepts that have us looking forward it its 2015 conference.

With Android L releasing into the wild, the revelation of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, Android Wear smartwatches winding up on wrists everywhere, and experimental devices like Project Ara and Project Tango teasing us with possibilities, Google is setting itself up for even more innovation in 2015.

Unlike last year's IO, which was short on exciting announcements, we expect Google to rebound with a thrilling event, one loaded with breakthroughs, surprises and products we can't wait to use.

At least we hope that's what G-town delivers during Google IO 2015. Read on for what we want to see during the annual developer confab, and tell us know in the comments what showstoppers - or showsleepers - you think Google whips out next IO.

Pull out your Google Wallet

Now that 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Pay (or any service) is the silver bullet to the anti-credit card conundrum. Despite that - or maybe because of it - we want Google to swing for the fences with a revamped Google Wallet.

Where the heck is Google Glass?

OK, Google. The Explorer program is several years old, more apps have found their way onto your loved/loathed wearable and you've made Glass available to the general US public, but when are we going to see the final consumer version and its (hopefully) significantly cheaper price?

Yes, Google Glass is part of completely new device category and there's desire to get it right, but there's a feeling we can't shake that now that Android Wear has shown its face, Google has relegated its first wearable to the basement, at least for now.

Google Glass
Does Glass still make sense for Google?

IO 2015 would be the perfect come back party for Glass. It received nary a mention during IO 2014, and with other head-worn devices like Oculus Rift gaining more visibility, Glass is in danger of losing more ground than it already has in the public imagination.

We expect Google to place lots of emphasis on apps made for Glass, especially since its Glass Development Kit will be around a year old by then, plus show us hardware that's vastly improved and/or vastly cheaper than what one sees bobbing on heads around Silicon Valley these days.

When Google met VR

Speaking of things you put on your face, Google's DIY Cardboard VR headset was a fun yet potentially telling surprise during last year's IO.

Google handed out the headset as a little something extra at the end of its Day 1 keynote, but you didn't need to be in attendance to get one because you can build the "no frills" viewer with a few acquired materials.

Could Google flush out putting a smartphone into a basic viewer to create a VR experience during IO 2015? We think so, especially since Samsung's Gear VR does virtually the same thing with more premium materials.

Cardboard
Nothing is sexier than cardboard

Whether this means Google delivers a more durable headset, reveals apps and games developed for Cardboard as-is, or introduces some virtual reality features to Glass, we don't know, but we can say the VR market is too hot for Google to pass up.