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What Caused the Galaxy Note 7 Fires?

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What Caused the Galaxy Note 7 Fires?

Samsung details why the Galaxy Note 7 phablet shipped with the unfortunate tendency to catch fire-- an investigation explains the reason boils down to two distinct battery flaws, not a hardware or software issue.

According to the company the batteries had two major flaws. The first is a casing too small to actually fit the electrode assembly, leading to short circuits. Samsung suppliers realised the problem and replaced the batteries with a safer version, only in their haste they brought about welding defects that also lead to short circuits. Either way, the smartphones started overheating, and catching fire.

Samsung insists it built a stand-alone testing lab to look into all potential causes of overheating, including wired and wireless charging, the USB-C port and the iris-scanning functionality. TUV Rheinland was also hired to check if storage or transport processes affected the batteries.

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Apple, TV Show Producer?

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Apple, TV Show Producer?

Apple sets to rival the likes of Netflix and HBO, the Wall Street Journal reports-- the iPhone maker apparently plans to start producing original TV series and possibly even movies.

The WSJ adds such content will be available by end 2017 via Apple Music. As to the genres of such shows, unnamed sources point out HBO's Westworld and Netflix's Stranger Things as comparisons, and say they "don't have any particular relationship to music."

Mind, Apple already confirmed it is working on video content, mind-- last year it announced its music streaming service will be hosting a season of Carpool Karaoke and Vital Signs, a drama starring Beats co-founder turned Apple exec Dr. Dre.

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Intel Demos Cannon Lake, VR at CES

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Intel Demos Cannon Lake, VR at CES

Intel's CES keynote is all about virtual reality-- so much so the company handed attendees VR headsets to experience a series of pre-recorded and live experiences narrated by CEO Brian Krzanich.

The VR experiences featured 360-degree 4K video of scenes such as the inspection of a solar power plant in the Moapa River Indian Reservation, with footage sent live from a drone equipped with Orah 4i cameras and low-power, high-latency processing technology. Another demo had the first showing of a VOKE VR immersive live sports streaming.

The Intel all-in-one VR technology seen at the show, dubbed Project Alloy, includes collaboration with HypeVR, a computer vision company working on live action VR capture and playback with 6 degrees of freedom. Intel adds OEMs should start producing Project Alloy-based VR headsets by Q4 2017.

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Fitbit Confirms Pebble Acquisition

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Fitbit Confirms Pebble Acquisition

Fitbit confirms last week's rumours as it announces the acquisition of former Kickstarter darling Pebble. The deal does not include Pebble products, meaning the company's smartwatch story is officially dead.

Financial details are not available, but the grapevine put the price paid for Pebble to around $40 million, a fraction of its previous estimated worth. After all, in 2015 Citizen offered $740m for the company! As for why Fitbit acquired Pebble, the announcement press release cites an interest in "key personnel" and the software powering Pebble devices, a sentiment echoed by a post on the official Pebble blog.

“With basic wearables getting smarter and smartwatches adding health and fitness capabilities, we see an opportunity to build on our strengths and extend our leadership position in the wearables category,” Fitbit adds. “With this acquisition, we’re well positioned to accelerate the expansion of our platform and ecosystem to make Fitbit a vital part of daily life for a wider set of consumers, as well as build the tools healthcare providers, insurers and employers need to more meaningfully integrate wearable technology into preventative and chronic care.”

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Fitbit to Buy Pebble?

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Fitbit to Buy Pebble?

Kickstarter darling Pebble is reportedly looking for a buyer-- according to The Information rival Fitbit is "near a deal" to acquire the little smartwatch maker that previously could.

Apparently Pebble is going through hard times, as declining sales have lead to a slashed workforce and growing debts. In fact, TechCrunch claims Pebble will go for $34-40 million, a "small mount" described as "barely covering their debts." To think just a year ago the smartwatch maker had reportedly received an offer worth $740 million by Japanese watch maker Citizen!

In the beginning Pebble was a crowdfunding success story-- on May 2012 its first smartwatch, the Pebble ePaper Watch, made over $10m on a Kickstarter campaign, the highest amount ever raised on the Platform. This year the company returned to Kickstarter to fund the Pebble Time Round, but at the time the company reportedly layed off 40 employees and started looking for investors in order to "stay afloat."

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Broadcom Buys Brocade

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Broadcom Buys Brocade

Broadcom sets to expand its chip making business with the $5.9 billion all-cash acquisition of Brocade Communications Systems, consolidating its position within the networking industry.

Formerly known as Avago Technologies, Singapore-based Broadcom is known for connectivity chips used in devices ranging from smartphones to servers. Meanwhile Broadcom makes networking switches, software and storage products. As such, the acquisition can be seen as a move by Broadcom to shift from reliance on smartphone market, especially following the declining sales faced by its biggest customer, Apple.

However Broadcom will not retain the entirety of Brocade-- Broadcom plans to sell the Brocade networking hardware business in order to avoid competition with its top customers, such as Cisco.

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The Next VR Contender: Microsoft

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The Next VR Contender: Microsoft

Microsoft quietly announced virtual reality plans at the tail end of its recent Surface event, as a number of partners will be selling headsets taking advantage of the VR and holographic capabilities of Windows 10.

The partners in question include HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer. Very little is known about the actual headsets, but Microsoft says the devices  feature "inside-out" tracking sensors able to handle 6 degrees of movement freedom, eliminating the need for the external cameras or laser systems used by the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.

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Apple Sees First Decline After 15 Years

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Apple Sees First Decline After 15 Years

Falling iPhone sales continue to hurt Apple's bottom line as the company sees a first decline in annual sales and profit in 15 years-- fiscal 2016 hardware sales are down by -8% to $215.6 billion, leading to profits falling by -14% to $45.7bn.

Sales are also down by -9% Y-o-Y to reach $46.85bn for the quarter ending 24 September 2016, while fiscal Q4 profits total $9bn, a -19% Y-o-Y drop. According to analyst this is the result of "peak Apple," or a world where nearly everyone with an interest in iDevices already owns an iPhone or an iPad (if not both), and proof can be seen in the -5% drop in Q4 iPhone sales reaching 45.5 million units.

Then again, one has to keep in mind the iPhone 7 has been on the market for just a few weeks into fiscal Q4, meaning it probably didn't affect iPhone sales too much during the period. The true proof of the iPhone 7's worth has to be seen during the holiday period, where Apple can take proper advantage of Samsung's recent Galaxy Note 7 misfortunes.

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Intel Rises in Q3 But Expects Q4 Decline

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Intel Rises in Q3 But Expects Q4 Decline

Intel reports record revenues of $15.8 billion for fiscal Q3 2016-- a 9% Y-o-Y increase-- while profits are up by 6% Y-o-Y to $4.5bn, but despite such results Chipzilla expects declines for the coming quarter.

"It was an outstanding quarter, and we set a number of new records across the business," CEO Brian Krzanich says. "In addition to strong financials, we delivered exciting new technologies while continuing to align our people and products to our strategy. We're executing well, and these results show Intel’s continuing transformation to a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected devices."

The Intel Client Computing Group still accounts for the lion's share (over 50%) of revenues to make $8.9bn, a 4.5% Y-o-Y increase driven by growing shipment volumes and incrasing notebook chip ASPs. Meanwhile the datacentre group sees revenues increase by 10% Y-o-Y to $4.6bn thanks to higher spending by cloud computing services.

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