"It has been a wonderful success for us," says Daniel Graf about Google Maps for iOS. Originally from Switzerland, Graf worked for Leica and Philips, and went on to co-found video service Kyte before landing at Google in 2011. There, he ran the mobile apps lab before taking the role of director of Google Maps for mobile, where he oversees the Android and iOS versions of the iconic mapping app. We recently got the chance to spend a few minutes with Graf at Google's Mountain View headquarters to discuss the iOS app, which launched last December. He's clearly passionate and proud of his work: "It has been an interesting project, because we got the opportunity to start from scratch." Graf explains that the Android version "is actually seven years of history, seven years of product, [...] seven years of user experience. On iOS, we didn't have those seven years so that gave us a chance to take a step back and say. 'Hey, what would be the next-generation mobile mapping experience?'" Read on after the break.
It's not just Google Maps for iOS that's been revamped. Over the past nine months, the company's been busy updating its mobile apps across the board with a more cohesive look and feel. It all started with Google Now -- launched alongside Jelly Bean at Google I/O -- followed by Google+ on both platforms, and more recently GMail and Google Maps on iOS. Interestingly, the Android version has not (yet) been updated to reflect the new design language. The iOS app makes extensive use of info sheets similar to those used in Google Now. "Given the feedback we have gotten from our audience about the user experience here, I would say this is kind of the direction we want to move forward," says Graf. "It's way more use-case driven ... It should actually happen based on your actions."
We asked Graf what challenges his team encountered while building Google Maps for iOS. "With a mapping app, it's actually similar to a gaming app because the map you see here, the 3D rendering we have here, so you need a 3D renderer; you need an engine for that, and that was new for us -- a 3D renderer for iOS." The iOS app is written in Objective C (versus Java on Android) and required fine-tuning: "To get that to a performance [level] where we have it now, that was definitely a technical challenge." But there was another hurdle on iOS: "There's no common login infrastructure like we have on Android -- hopefully that's coming." When pressed whether this is a political issue (related to Apple's stringent app requirements) Graf mentions that "it's a business decision, but it's a technical challenge as well."
Despite being more polished than its Android counterpart, Google Maps for iOS lacks some features, such as Latitude (it's a separate app). Graf admits that "it would be quite interesting to see your friends on the map within Google Maps for mobile." For this version, however, it was important to simplify: "We obviously wanted this app out before the holidays, which we managed to do in December, so there was a lot of time pressure to get it out but we didn't want to make compromises so we said is let's focus on the key use cases which I think we nailed." We inquired about how much Google Maps development is cross-platform. "Of course we have an Android team; we have an iOS team; we have different platform teams and they work very closely together," says Graf. "You do want basically the best experience possible for a platform, so you probably have to develop native." Watch the full video interview above.
It feels like we've been talking about Office 2013 for a while now -- we first previewed the software back in July, and it's been available as a free beta download ever since. Today, though, it's launching in a more formal way: the final version of Office 2013 is now on sale, as is Office 365 Home Premium, which lets you purchase a subscription to Office 2013 and then install it on up to five computers.
Though you can still buy the software outright, Microsoft has gone out of its way to make subscribing seem like the more attractive option: buying a one-year subscription costs $100 a year and nets you five installs, while the purchase cost is $139 for a single user. To sweeten the deal, Microsoft is giving Office 365 subscribers 60 Skype minutes per month and 20GB of extra SkyDrive storage. Naturally, too, subscribing to the service means you always get the latest software -- a particularly important point for Apple fans still waiting on a new version of Office for Mac. Either way, though, Office 2013 now has an app store, and you can poke around even if you're not a subscriber.
As it is, we've already given you an in-depth walk-through of all the major new features in Office, but we haven't yet gotten to experience it as a subscription, with all our settings following us from one PC to another. But we're still wondering: is it worth shelling out a hundred bones a year for a subscription?Getting started
Though Office 2013 and Office 365 will both be available to purchase in stores, you won't actually find an installation CD in the box. Even if you buy it from a brick-and-mortar kind of place, you'll only really see a written product key when you tear open the packaging. So, regardless of whether you purchase in stores or online, you'll eventually need to head over to office.com, enter your license number and then proceed to download the software.
As ever, the system requirements are fairly modest: so long as you have 3.5GB of free disk space and an x86 or x64 system clocked at 1GHz or higher, you'll be good to go. DirectX10 graphics are required, along with a minimum resolution of 1,024 x 576. Microsoft also recommends 1GB of RAM for 32-bit systems and 2GB for 64-bit machines.
In any case, once you enter your product key it's smooth sailing. Just sign in with your Microsoft account (you'll have a chance to create one if you're a new user) and verify your country and language. So far so good, right? From that home screen on office.com, you can see how many of your five installations you've used. You can view your payment method, expiration date, billing history and automatic renewal information, if applicable. And, of course, there's a big "install" button, which you'll need to click since you haven't actually downloaded the software yet.
While Office sets itself up for the first time, you can choose to page through a few introductory slides. All told, it's not unlike how Windows 8 loads a primer on new gestures while the OS readies itself for the first time. Naturally, once they're fully installed the various Office apps appear as Live Tiles on the Start Screen, not as desktop shortcuts.
Once you've installed Office, you can sign in to your Microsoft account (or not -- in which case it's just a local copy). You can also choose the border that will appear on new Word documents and other files. In all, there are 14 of these themes, though there's also a "no background option" for people who find doodles of circles and circuits offensive. Not that we're pressuring you or anything, but they're really very subtle: they only take up a small patch of space on the fringe of the screen, and don't actually call much attention to themselves.Office 2013
As crazy as this might sound, we don't plan on dwelling too much on the actual Office suite, just because we already wrote thousands of words on the subject back when it was first released. For a full run-down of the new features (plus dozens of screenshots), we'll direct you back to our preview, first published six months ago. For those of you who lack the attention span, though, we'll humor you with a quick recap. Notable new features in the suite include PDF editing in Word, a full-screen Reading Mode (great for tablets) and a behind-the-scenes Presenter View in PowerPoint. Touch Mode is exactly what it sounds like, which is to say it makes all the UI elements a little bigger and more touch-friendly -- not that it magically makes Excel convenient to use without a keyboard, per se. Resume Reading remembers exactly where you were in a document the last time you opened it, which is useful if you've been charged with editing a 40-page patent infringement brief or something equally tedious.Even when the software was still in development we found it to be fast and stable, while the features themselves were intuitive to use.
By default, the various Office apps now save to SkyDrive, and you can always send someone a link to your work so they can read it in a browser. Adding online video to Word and PowerPoint files is much easier than it had been, and it's now possible to reply to comments in Track Changes. Flash Fill in Excel can predict what information should go in blank cells if the data is repetitive and follows a pattern. Finally, Outlook gets a feature called Peeks, which lets you hover to view your calendar and such without leaving the inbox. Meanwhile, so-called Social Connectors are plug-ins from services like LinkedIn.
For the most part, the software is the same as when we last tested it. And that's a good thing: even when the software was still in development we found it to be fast and stable, while the features themselves were intuitive to use. The only point of controversy might be the carryover of the Ribbon UI, which debuted all the way back in Office 2007, and which some people still haven't warmed up to.
There are a few new features, however, many of them subtle fit-and-finish sort of things. The icon for switching to Touch Mode has changed, and when you tap it you now get a pop-up menu that briefly explains the difference between that and mouse mode (the gist being that in Touch Mode there's no Ribbon menu, and the various UI elements are spaced farther apart). There's also a rotating group of templates, which vary depending on region and also the time of year. For instance, you won't see any Valentine's Day-related options in August, and you also won't see any sample Fourth of July party invites if you live outside the US. It's a smart idea, making these things timely and region-specific. We're not sure how many people actually use templates to begin with, but if you do, knock yourself out.
PowerPoint, meanwhile, has gotten a new transitions category called "Exciting," which includes some new animations. As you might have guessed, they're flashy transitions, sequences with names like "Curtains," "Origami" and "Paper Airplane" (they all are exactly what they sound like). What can we say? They're playful and call lots of attention to themselves, which is to say they probably won't be especially welcome at a board meeting. But just like with the templates, we're glad they're there for people who require a few more resources to truly express themselves.Office Store
Now that Microsoft has dragged Office kicking and screaming into the cloud-computing era, it's doing something else to bring the software up to date: it's giving the suite its very own app store. The Office Store lives on office.com, and is accessible even to folks who don't have a subscription to Office 365 (meaning, it's fine if you just own Office 2013). So far, the store includes apps for Word, Excel, Outlook, Project and SharePoint (but not PowerPoint, strangely). If you like, you can sort apps by any of the above programs, which is how we prefer to go about it. Alternatively, though, you can browse through a page of features apps, too. Similar to the Windows Store, you can read user reviews and click through to see detailed system requirements. Installing an app is as easy as hitting an "Add" button, though you'll need to go through an extra step to make sure it appears in the Ribbon of whatever Office application uses the add-on.
What's interesting about browsing the store is that because no one really expected or asked for Office applications, it doesn't matter so much how many there are, or whether you've heard of any of them. (In other words, this isn't like demanding Instagram on Windows Phone 8 and accepting no substitutes.) In fact, there are some big names represented, including LinkedIn, which has a plug-in for Outlook, and Merriam-Webster, whose dictionary works across Word and Excel. We also found some other apps we could see ourselves using, like Bing News for Word and "Random Generator" for Excel.
Most of these are free, which creates a nice incentive for downloading a bunch and seeing what sticks. (As you can see, "nice and inoffensive" seems to be a running theme here, at least as far as the new features go.) A few of the apps do cost money, however, particularly some of the more sophisticated programs designed for enterprise users. If you're a developer reading this, Microsoft takes a 20 percent cut from application purchases, which matches the revenue split already in place for Windows applications.
To use the apps, just click the Insert in the Ribbon, followed by "Office Apps." Each one shows up as a pane along the right-hand side, which you can easily close by tapping an "X" button. You can open more than one app at once (as evidenced in the screenshot above) but be warned: for every app you open, you'll have less space to actually do your work. The apps in Word, for instance, line up side by side, causing the actual document to narrow. If you only open up one application, you'll still be able to type in Word without having to do any extra scrolling from side to side; that changes once you open a second app, though. All told, it's a minor inconvenience: just decide whether you need to be using Bing News at the moment, or if Merriam-Webster is more vital.
As for the apps themselves, they're exactly what they sound like, and that's a good thing. Bing News has a search bar into which you can type queries. Ditto for the dictionary app we tried, and LinguLab WordCloud. Web searches, definitions and everything else shows up in the same box where you performed the search so that you don't have to toggle over to IE 10 -- or any other program, for that matter. That alone makes these apps useful, though it helps that the information itself is clearly presented and comes from reliable sources.Wrap-up
- Microsoft Office 2013 preview
- Microsoft Office 2013, Office 365 Home Premium available now; 365 for business coming later
- Microsoft launches four-year, $80 Office 365 University subscription for students
What can we say? Office 2013 is a top-notch product: fast, intuitive and feature-rich. All of the new features work as promised, and are easy to get the hang of. At the same time, since the UI is similar to the previous version, it should be easy to master if you're upgrading from Office 2010. Now it's true, there are various free alternatives out there, including cloud-based ones like Google Docs. Still, we're wary of steering all our readers there, because we know lots of folks are already comfortable using Office, or have come to rely on some of the more advanced features you can't get elsewhere. Assuming you don't have any interest in switching to a more basic suite, then, the real question is: does it make more sense to buy Office once for $139 and make do with one license? Or is it wiser in the long run to pay $100 every year for a subscription in exchange for five installations and ongoing software updates?
Obviously, the more computers you own, the more it makes sense to pay $100 a year for five activations. For example, buying five individual copies would cost $695 up front, as opposed to $600 for six years of service. Basically, you'd be saving money until that seventh year rolls around, and that's a long enough stretch that you'd get upgraded to Office 2017 in the interim. That said, the subscription model isn't for everyone. Many of the perks -- Skype minutes, extra SkyDrive storage -- seem like weak reasons to go with Office 365 if you're on the fence. Meanwhile, the Office Store is useful but it's not like you need a subscription to enjoy it. With all that in mind, if you own just one machine it might make sense to shell out $139 for a single license and not have to pay $100 on an annual basis. In short, then, Office itself is a polished product, but your decision on whether to get 2013 or 365 should mainly come down to how many computers you own. Almost everything else is beside the point.
Microsoft Office 2013, Office 365 Home Premium available now; 365 for business coming later (updated)
Until now, we've known almost all there is to know about Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365: we got hands-on with the new features last summer, and the company has even confirmed pricing. The only thing we weren't sure of was the exact on-sale date, but even that got leaked when a Canadian retailer put up a pre-order page indicating the two products would ship January 29th. Well, what do you know? Today is January 29th and sure enough, Office 2013 is on sale, along with the subscription service Office 365. To be clear, while every version of the boxed software is now out, 365 is only being offered to consumers; the business version will arrive later, on February 27th.
For now, Office 365 Home Premium is priced at $99.99 for an annual subscription, with permission to install the suite on up to five PCs and Macs. There's also a "University" version for college students and faculty, which costs $79.99 for a four-year plan. Either way, the sub includes 20GB of SkyDrive storage on top of whatever plan you already have which is to say if you previously only had 7GB of space, your limit will now get bumped to 20 gigs. (In other words, people grandfathered into 25GB don't get an additional 20 gigabytes.). Of course, you can always deactivate a particular machine through Office.com if you need to free up a license. Naturally, too, as a part of the subscription you'll always have the most recent version. That means Office 2013 for Windows users; Office for Mac 2011 if you're on OS X. That last piece is a bit of a bummer, for sure, but for what it's worth Microsoft has said a new Mac product is in the works, and that subscribers will get it as part of a future software update.
If you'd rather buy the software outright, you can do that today too. At the low end, there's Office 2013 Home and Student 2013 ($139), which comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Home and Business adds Outlook for $219, while the top-of-the-line Professional package includes all of the above along with Access and Publisher for $399. Remember, though: these come with only one user license, and you don't get any complimentary cloud storage or upgrades to future versions. It's your money, obviously, but it seems clear to us that Microsoft has gone out of its way to make its Office 365 service the more attractive option. So, you might want to think long and hard about how much owning your software really means to you before going the old-fashioned route.
Update: An Office 365 subscription includes 20GB of SkyDrive storage in addition to whatever plan you already have. So, if you were grandfathered into 25 gigs of storage, you'll end up with 45GB in total.Show full PR text
Microsoft Releases Office 365 Home Premium
Jan. 29, 2013
New consumer cloud service works across devices to help busy people simplify their lives and get more done.
NEW YORK - Jan. 29, 2013 - Microsoft Corp. today announced worldwide availability of Office 365 Home Premium, a reinvention of the company's flagship Office product line for consumers. Office 365 Home Premium is a cloud service designed for busy households and people juggling ever-increasing work and family responsibilities. The new offering includes the latest and most complete set of Office applications; works across up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs and Macs; and comes with extra SkyDrive storage and Skype calling - all for US$99.99 for an annual subscription, the equivalent of US$8.34 per month.
"Today's launch of Office 365 Home Premium marks the next big step in Microsoft's transformation to a devices and services business," said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. "This is so much more than just another release of Office. This is Office reinvented as a consumer cloud service with all the full-featured Office applications people know and love, together with impressive new cloud and social benefits."
Microsoft also announced it will now deliver many new features and services to the cloud first, transforming the company's traditional three-year release cycle. Now, new features and services stream to subscribers as soon as they are ready, keeping subscribers always up to date while eliminating the hassles of upgrading.
"This is a major leap forward," said Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division. "People's needs change rapidly, and Office 365 Home Premium will change with them."
Simultaneously, Microsoft today released Office 365 University for college or university students, faculty and staff at a price of just US$79.99 for a four-year subscription - the equivalent of US$1.67 per month. Globally, the company also released updated versions of the traditional Office suite: Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013 and Office Professional 2013. Office 365 for businesses will be released globally with new capabilities on Feb. 27.
Time to Do the Things You Want
In a recent global survey,* nearly 60 percent of people said they don't have the time to do the things they want to do, and more than 80 percent said they could save one or more hours a day if they were better organized. Office 365 Home Premium is designed to help people be more productive from virtually anywhere and find the flexibility to do the things they want.
"Between kids and career, I'm never completely at home or completely at work - and thanks to technology, that suits me just fine," said Jen Singer, an author, blogger and mom of two teen boys. "With Office 365 Home Premium, I can work around my kids' schedules, so I can drive the soccer carpool, coordinate errands while at a doctor's office and still hit my deadlines at work. And, with one subscription for everyone in my family, it's an absolute steal."
To help people find more time to do the things they want, Microsoft is introducing Time to 365 (http://www.office.com/timeto365), a new crowd-sourced website where people can find and share tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration from around the world. Contributors include experts such as "techorating" pro Janna Robinson (http://www.jannarobinson.com) and everyday working parents who have found ways to simplify their lives. Tips on the site include, for example, an idea for organizing your grocery list with OneNote on your phone, a pointer on how to pick the right-sized TV for your living room, and ways to use Office applications to help plan a child's birthday party.
About Office 365 Home Premium
Office 365 Home Premium is available in 162 markets in 21 languages and includes the following:
o. The latest and most complete set of Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access
o. One license for the entire household to use Office on up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs or Macs, and Office on Demand available from any Internet-connected PC**
o. An additional 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage, nearly three times the amount available with a free SkyDrive account
o. 60 free Skype world calling minutes per month to call mobile phones, landlines or PCs around the world***
o. Future upgrades, so you always use the latest time-saving technology
People can learn more about Office 365 Home Premium or try it free for 30 days at http://www.office.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
* Microsoft surveyed more than 10,000 people in over 20 countries.
** App availability varies by operating system, device and language.
*** Skype world minutes not available in all countries. Calls to select countries.
Apple's iPad line has topped out at 64GB since it was born. That perennial ceiling has been smashed: the company is hiking the capacity of the fourth-generation iPad to a whopping (and only recently rumored) 128GB. The hardware hasn't otherwise changed and preserves both the performance and dimensions that we already know. The WiFi and cellular versions get equal treatment, although we'll pay dearly for the increase at $799 for the base WiFi version and $929 for the cellular edition. Both of the extra-capacious tablets will be available February 5th.
Update: Not that there was much doubt, but Sprint has confirmed that it will be stocking 128GB cellular iPads. AT&T and Verizon haven't chimed in, although it's safe to presume they won't let Sprint have the new storage option all to itself.Show full PR text
Apple Increases iPad with Retina Display to 128GB
Offers Twice the Storage Capacity to Create & Enjoy Even More Incredible Content
CUPERTINO, Calif., Jan 29, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Apple(R) today announced a 128GB* version of the fourth generation iPad(R) with Retina(R) display. The 128GB iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular models provide twice the storage capacity of the 64GB models to hold even more valuable content including photos, documents, projects, presentations, books, movies, TV shows, music and apps.
"With more than 120 million iPads sold, it's clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and everyday they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs."
iPad continues to have a significant impact on business with virtually all of the Fortune 500 and over 85 percent of the Global 500 currently deploying or testing iPad. Companies regularly utilizing large amounts of data such as 3D CAD files, X-rays, film edits, music tracks, project blueprints, training videos and service manuals all benefit from having a greater choice of storage options for iPad. The over 10 million iWork(R) users, and customers who rely on other incredible apps like Global Apptitude for analyzing team film and creating digital playbooks, Auria for an incredible 48 track recording system, or AutoCAD for drafting architectural and engineering drawings, also benefit greatly from having the choice of an iPad with more storage capacity.
"Our AutoCAD WS app for iOS was designed to give customers seamless access to their designs anywhere, anytime," said Amy Bunszel, vice president of AutoCAD products for Autodesk. "These files are often large and highly detailed so having the thin and light iPad with its Multitouch display, integrated camera and all-day battery life, is a real advantage for iPad users to view, edit and share their AutoCAD data."
"The features and capabilities of iPad give us the ability to set a new standard for multitrack recording and editing on a mobile device," said Rim Buntinas, WaveMachine Labs' CEO. "Users of the Auria app can play 48 mono or stereo 24bit/96 kHz tracks simultaneously, record up to 24 of those tracks simultaneously, and also edit and mix with familiar tools. With its portability and all-day battery life, iPad has revolutionized recording for audio professionals allowing artists to record anywhere."
"The bottom line for our customers is winning football games, and iPad running our GamePlan solution unquestionably helps players be as prepared as possible," said Randall Fusee, Global Apptitude Co-Founder. "The iPad's unbeatable combination of security, being thin and light, having an incredible Retina display and also being powerful enough to handle large amounts of data enables us to deliver a product that takes film study to a new level and ultimately gives our users the best opportunity to prepare, execute and win."
The fourth generation iPad features a gorgeous 9.7-inch Retina display, Apple-designed A6X chip, FaceTime(R) HD camera, iOS 6.1 and ultrafast wireless performance**. iOS 6.1 includes support for additional LTE networks around the world***, and iTunes Match(SM) subscribers can download individual songs to their iOS devices from iCloud(R).
iPad runs over 800,000 apps available on the App Store(SM), including more than 300,000 apps designed specifically for iPad, from a wide range of categories including books, games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel. iPad also supports the more than 5,000 newspapers and magazines offered in Newsstand, and the more than 1.5 million books available on the iBookstore(SM).
Pricing & Availability
The new 128GB versions of the fourth generation iPad will be available starting Tuesday, February 5, in black or white, for a suggested retail price of $799 (US) for the iPad with Wi-Fi model and $929 (US) for the iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular model. All versions of the 128GB iPad will be sold through the Apple Online Store ( www.apple.com ), Apple retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers.
You might have figured Canon's 2013 PowerShot lineup was diverse enough to satisfy just about any point-and-shoot craving. Well, no matter -- we're about to see a trio of compacts added to the mix. The ELPH 330 HS is the company's premium model for CP+, Japan's up-and-coming digital imaging trade show, which kicks off later this week in Yokohama. The 330 is similar to the 130 IS, which we first saw at CES, boosting the focal range from 8x to 10x, with a 24mm wide-angle lens. There's also an upgraded 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor with a Digic 5 processor, a 461k-dot 3-inch LCD and built-in WiFi. The next higher-end offering is the ELPH 115 IS, which packs specs more in line with the 130 IS, including the same 16-megapixel CCD sensor and 8x 28mm lens. There's no WiFi to speak of, however, and the display drops to a 2.7-inch 230k-dot panel. It can shoot 720p video and offers the same Eco Mode bundled with all of Canon's 2013 compacts.
Finally, for photogs on an even tighter budget, there's the PowerShot A2500. The specs are similar to the 115 IS, including a 16-megapixel CCD chip, a 2.7-inch 230k-dot display and 720p video shooting. Despite the reduced 5x 28-140mm lens, this flavor is a bit heftier, though it's a step up from most other A-series Canons. If you have the cash to spare, the $230 ELPH 330 HS is clearly the most compelling option launching this week -- it ships in March with black, pink or silver finishes. The slightly less capable 115 IS will be available in March for $170, in black, blue, pink and silver, while the A2500 will hit stores in April for $130, in black, silver and red. Catch a few more details in the PR just past the break.Show full PR text
CANON U.S.A. INTRODUCES THREE NEW STYLISH POWERSHOT DIGITAL CAMERAS PROVIDING WIDE-ANGLE AND LONG TELEPHOTO LENSES IN COMPACT DESIGNS
New Lineup Includes the Wireless-Enabled PowerShot ELPH 330 HS Digital Camera With a Powerful 10x Optical Zoom Lens
LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., January 28, 2013 - Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced the addition of three stylish, feature-packed PowerShot Digital Cameras: the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS, ELPH 115 IS and A2500. These new models are ideal for photography enthusiasts of all levels looking for great photo quality and excellent video performance in compact, powerful point-and-shoot designs.
The new PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera provides advanced wireless connectivity for easy sharing. Providing great performance in dimly lit situations, the ELPH 330 HS digital camera includes the Company's HS SYSTEM that delivers clear images with minimal noise and maximum detail even when shooting in low-light. The new cameras offer great features such as Canon's Smart AUTO, enabling even novice users to get optimal camera performance automatically, so whether photographing a running child or a solo recital on stage the cameras deliver spectacular images with ease. Smart AUTO allows the cameras to detect up to 58 scenes for the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera and up to 32 scenes for the PowerShot ELPH 115 IS digital camera and PowerShot A2500 digital camera. All three models also feature ECO Mode, an advanced new method that manages power consumption and extends battery life by approximately 30 percent, when enabled, allowing you to shoot more photos for a longer amount of time.
"With the introduction of these sleek, new models to our family of PowerShot digital cameras, we are able to provide our customers with a range of imaging options including more models with wireless connectivity to upload and share their amazing creative images," said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies and Communications Group, Canon U.S.A.
PowerShot ELPH 330 HS Digital Camera
Photography today is as much about image quality as it is about sharing, whether through prints or online communities. With this in mind, the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera builds upon the success of the PowerShot line with built-in advanced wireless capabilities to easily share high-quality images captured with an impressive 10x optical zoom lens and 12.1-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor. After an initial one-time set-up, the camera can connect to both iOS(R) or AndroidTM smartphones and tabletsi for quick and easy sharing. Users launch Canon's free CameraWindow application [i]i, available on both the iOS(R) and AndroidTM operating systemsi, to wirelessly transfer photos and videos from the camera to their device. Frequently used devices and accounts are conveniently stored in the camera's wireless history menu for quick one-touch access.
With these enhanced wireless capabilities, users now have the ability to comment on their uploaded photos directly from the camera - so being part of conversations taking place on social networking sites is easy and convenient. In addition, individuals can control the destination of Facebook uploads - choosing to share content with everyone, or post photos only to selected Facebook groups. Users can also instantly upload images wirelessly from the camera to Canon iMAGE GATEWAYiii, and automatically upload them to a computer remotely. Photos can also be printed wirelessly using Wireless PictBridgeiv on select Canon wireless inkjet printers, including the new PIXMA MG6320 Photo All-In-One printer, so special moments can be preserved and cherished.
A fantastic multipurpose lens: the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera provides a 10x optical zoom lens taking images from 24mm wide, up to 240mm at the telephoto end, able to capture that group shot, or zoom in for a dynamic close-up. Great even in low light, the camera's 12.1-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor and DIGIC 5 image processor combine and deliver on Canon's HS SYSTEM helping ensure detail is captured even in dark or shadowed areas at a maximum ISO speed of up to 6400. For capturing memorable moments on video, at the touch of a dedicated movie-record button, the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera shoots beautiful 1080p Full HD video and includes a built-in stereo microphone for great sound. Helping document vacations with your own personal highlight reel, the camera's new Hybrid AUTO mode utilizes a combination of Smart AUTO and Intelligent IS to create a beautiful and steady HD video clip (up to approximately 4 seconds) in Movie Digest mode every time you shoot a still image. Helping ensure you don't miss those magic moments, the camera features both High Speed AF for fast focusing speed and High‐Speed Burst for continuous capture at up to 6.2 frames per second while maintaining superb image quality. The combination of features, including wireless connectivity, Canon's Intelligent IS system and ECO Mode, help make the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera a great imaging companion for vacations, all-day sporting events, or family parties.
Expected to hit store shelves in March, the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera will be available in three modern colors: black, silver and pink for an estimated retail price of $229.99.
PowerShot ELPH 115 IS Digital Camera
The new pocket-able PowerShot ELPH 115 IS digital camera features an 8x optical zoom lens (28-224mm), which provides a focal range to capture most any situation. The PowerShot ELPH 115 IS digital camera includes a 16-megapixel image sensor and DIGIC 4 image processor for exceptional image quality. For those photographers who "shoot it all" and seamlessly move from scene to scene, the PowerShot ELPH 115 IS digital camera provides Canon's Smart AUTO mode that intelligently selects the proper camera settings based on up to 32 predefined shooting situations for capturing spectacular images in a variety of settings with ease. For creative video capture, users can record HD video with a built-in microphone for great sound. The PowerShot ELPH 115 IS digital camera also includes Canon's unique Intelligent IS system technology, matching the lens movement with one of six stabilization modes for smooth video and sharp still images. The camera also includes Canon's new ECO Mode allowing you to shoot more photos for a longer amount of time.
With anticipated in-store availability in March, the PowerShot ELPH 115 IS digital camera will be available in four sleek colors: blue, silver, black and pink at an estimated retail price of $169.99.
PowerShot A2500 Digital Camera
Rounding out Canon's new PowerShot lineup is the PowerShot A2500 digital camera, which includes a 16-megapixel image sensor and DIGIC 4 Image Processor, as well as a 28mm wide-angle lens with 5x optical zoom that can extend out to 140mm at the telephoto end. The camera also features Canon's Smart AUTO mode that analyzes each scene to intelligently select camera settings based on 32 predefined shooting scenarios to help capture stunning images with ease. The PowerShot A2500 digital camera can also capture great video, recording HD through a dedicated movie button. Helping ensure crisp images, Canon's Digital IS reduces the effect of camera shake and subject movement. For travelers and those on the go, Canon's new ECO Mode conserves battery life, allowing you to shoot more photos over a longer period of time. For those photographers looking to be a little more creative, the camera also features various Scene Modes such as Fisheye Effect, Toy Camera Effect and Monochrome to help provide additional creative freedom when capturing your photos. And for those just learning the art of photography, a Help Button will provide simple explanations of camera settings and functions.
Expected for sale in April, the PowerShot A2500 digital camera will be available in silver, red and black for an estimated retail price of $129.99.
Philips has decided that there just isn't any money in home entertainment, and as such is flogging off the remainder of its interests to Funai for $201 million. It had already sold its North American TV and DVD operations to the Japanese company back in 2008, but will now package off its whole Lifestyle Entertainment division, which includes global disc players and its Fidelio high-end audio outfit. Instead, Philips will concentrate on profitable sectors such as lighting and healthcare -- so the sooner it can develop a bulb that can kill the sniffles, the better.Show full PR text
Amsterdam, the Netherlands - Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) today announced that it has signed an agreement regarding the transfer of its Lifestyle Entertainment business (Audio, Video, Multimedia and Accessories) to Funai Electric Co., Ltd (TSE/OSE 6839). Under the terms, Funai will pay a cash consideration of EUR 150 million and a brand license fee, relating to a license agreement for an initial period of five and a half years, with an optional renewal of five years. The deal for the Audio, Multimedia and Accessories businesses is expected to close in the second half of 2013. The Video business will transfer in 2017, related to existing intellectual property licensing arrangements. The gain on the transaction will be recorded at the closing date.
The transaction is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory filings and works council procedures. The Remote Control activities, which are predominantly business-to-business, are excluded.
"With this transaction we are taking another step in reshaping the Consumer Lifestyle portfolio and transforming Philips into the leading technology company in Health and Well-being," said Philips Chief Executive Officer Frans van Houten. "I am confident that today's agreement with Funai, our partner for over 25 years, will create a promising future for Philips Audio, Video and Entertainment, and continuity for our customers. It will leverage Philips' strong brand, strength in innovation, and leadership position in these businesses, with Funai's strong presence in North and Central America - and Japan, and its supply and manufacturing expertise."
"This is truly an exciting time for us at Funai," said Funai President and CEO, Tomonori Hayashi. "This transaction will allow us to continue moving forward and grow as a global company. We will benefit from Philips' legendary know-how and innovation, as well as the excellent talent they have in place around the world, allowing us to work as a team to leverage and grow the Philips brand in Audio, Video and Entertainment. Additionally, this will give Funai the opportunity to meet our goal of expanding our business into markets including Brazil, Russia, India and China."
"With this agreement and the joint venture for Philips Television, the Consumer Lifestyle sector will further focus on Health and Well-being. The portfolio, consisting of Personal Care, Health & Wellness, Domestic Appliances and Coffee, delivered high single-digit growth in 2012," said Philips Consumer Lifestyle Chief Executive Officer Pieter Nota. "Philips has a proud heritage in Audio, Video, Multimedia and Accessories, and today's agreement with Funai ensures that this business can continue to deliver great Philips-branded innovations to consumers around the world."
Philips Audio, Video, Multimedia and Accessories make up the Lifestyle Entertainment business group within Philips Consumer Lifestyle. This business group is headquartered in Hong Kong and employs approximately 2,000 people worldwide.
Today's agreement does not impact any of Funai's existing brand licensing agreements with Philips.
Via: BBC News
Source: Philips (PDF)
Despite the raves that recent micro four-thirds and Sony E-Mount cameras have received of late, there's still a dearth of lenses for the fledgeling systems compared to their more entrenched counterparts. Luckily, Sigma's just added to the pool of autofocus-equipped models for each system: updated 19mm F2.8 DN and 30mm F2.8 DN models along with an all-new 60mm F2.8 DN telephoto lens. Each Japan-made model has a "telecentric" optical design to minimize CMOS color issues, a metal exterior with silver or black color options, and a linear autofocus motor that Sigma claims is quiet enough to use for video. Meanwhile, the imaging outfit also announced an updated 30mm, F1.4 DC HSM model for Canon APS-C, Nikon DX and its own Sigma mount. All that's great news, though we're still waiting for an AF/electronic F1.4 or faster lens for E-Mount (there's only one on MFT as well) -- though this might tide us over, in the meantime. See the PR after the break for more info.Show full PR text
Sigma Corporation announces four new lenses at CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging Show 2013
January 29, 2013
Sigma Corporation announces four new lenses at CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging Show 2013
APS-C format, E-Mount and Micro Four Thirds lenses feature sleek new 'Art' product line design
YOKOHAMA, Japan - Jan. 29, 2013-Sigma Corporation of America a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of some of the world's most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, today announced the release of four new lenses for the ART product line, including three lenses for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and one lens for DSLR cameras with APS-C size sensors. This announcement comes at the start of the CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging Show 2013 this week in Yokohama, Japan.
The new and updated Sigma lenses include the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM, which will be available in Sigma, Canon and Nikon mounts, and the 30mm F2.8 DN, 19mm F2.8 DN and 60mm F2.8 DN lenses, which are available for both Micro Four Thirds and Sony E-Mount camera systems. Pricing and availability on all of these lenses has yet to be announced.
The 60mm F2.8 DN lens is entirely new to the Sigma lineup, while the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM and the 30mm F2.8 DN and 19mm F2.8 DN lenses are existing focal lengths that have been redesigned with enhanced optical performance and included as part of Sigma's new Global Vision category restructuring. All three DN lenses incorporate telecentric optical designs and a linear, auto focusing motor that ensures accurate and quiet focusing for video recording. They also boast metal exteriors and a simply shaped focus ring, with varying textures to distinguish each part of the lens. In addition, DN users can choose between a black or silver finish to match their favorite equipment.
"We're really proud of the super sharp lenses we've produced in the past year and these new Art lenses will continue to impress our fans and critics alike. They're ideal for the landscape, portrait, still-life, close-up and casual photographer who values creative, dramatic outcomes above compactness and multifunction," said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. "The lenses are entirely made in Japan and they boast the new product line's sleek design and enhanced quality control. We're quite proud of these changes - and additions - to our lens lineup; they're further evidence of Sigma's forethought in this fast-moving industry."
Here are more details on these new lenses from Sigma:
· 30mm F1.4 DC HSM Sigma's new USB Dock, which will enable firmware updates and focusing adjustments, is expected to be available in coming months.- Sigma pioneered the large-aperture, APS-C format, standard lens category with its 30mm F1.4 lens in 2005. With new optical configurations of nine elements in eight groups, as well as rounded aperture blades, this updated lens delivers pleasing sharpness and a beautiful bokeh background. Its angle of view is equivalent to 45mm on a 35mm camera (which is similar to that of human vision), its minimum focusing distance is 11.8 inches and its maximum magnification ratio is 1:6.8. The lens' optimized power distribution helps to minimize field curvature, prevent a loss of image quality at the edges of photographs and produce outstanding image quality. Its double-aspheric lens minimizes spherical distortion, astigmatism and coma, and its rear focus system prevents focus-dependent variation in aberration. Together, the new optimized auto focus (AF) algorithm and rear focusing system ensure smooth and accurate focusing. The new 30mm F1.4 is also compatible with Sigma's new USB Dock, which will enable firmware updates and focusing adjustments, is expected to be available in coming months.
· 60mm F2.8 DN- Featuring the natural perspective of mid-range telephoto lenses, together with a shallow depth of field, this lens allows the photographer to capture a single part of a subject with great bokeh effects. It has an angle of view equivalent to 120mm on the Micro Four Thirds system and 90mm on the E-mount system (35mm equivalent focal length). The minimum focusing distance is 19.7 inches; the maximum magnification is 1:7.2. This lens also contains Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass, which helps minimize axial and transverse chromatic aberration.
· Sigma 19mm F2.8 DN - This high-performance, wide-angle telephoto lens has an angle of view equivalent to 38mm on the Micro Four Thirds system and 28.5mm on the E-mount system (35mm equivalent focal length). As a wide-angle lens with excellent mobility, it is ideal for studio photography, architecture and starry skies. Its minimum focusing distance is 7.9 inches and its maximum magnification is 1:7.4.
· Sigma 30mm F2.8 DN - This high-performance, standard telephoto lens has an angle of view equivalent to 60mm on the Micro Four Thirds system and 45mm on the E-mount system (35mm equivalent focal length). This lens, which is perfect for casual and formal portraiture, documentary photography, travelogues and everyday shooting, includes a double-sided aspherical lens that enhances its optical performance. Its minimum focusing distance of 11.8 inches and its maximum magnification is 1:8.1.
For information about Sigma Corporation of America, visit www.sigmaphoto.com. For the full press releases for each of these new lenses, visit Sigma's news section at www.sigmaphoto.com/sigma-news.
About Sigma Corporation
For more than 50 years, Sigma Corporation's expertise and innovation has driven the company's core philosophy of "knowledge, plus experience, plus imagination,"with anemphasis on producing high-quality, high-performance photographic technology. This family-owned organization is the largest, independent SLR lens manufacturer in the world, producing more than more than 45 lenses that are compatible with most manufacturers, including Sigma, Canon, Sony, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax. Sigma Corporation also produces digital SLR cameras and high-definition digital compact cameras. The company is headquartered in Japan, with offices strategically located throughout Europe, Asia and North America. For information, please visit www.sigmaphoto.com.
Filed under: Cameras
Via: Sony Alpha Rumors
Today's the day that your cost-free tweeting about red signals comes to end, as Virgin Media begins charging for its WiFi service on the London Underground. If you're a Virgin, Vodafone or EE customer, then you just need to sign up to continue getting access as part of your mobile plan. For everyone else, avoiding getting your fingers sticky on that day's issue of Metro will cost you £2 a day, £5 per seven-day week or £15 a month. If you take up the latter option at any point in February, you'll be given an additional sweetener: three months for the price of one. The company has also announced that Hampstead, Tooting Broadway and Great Portland Street are among 11 more stations that are due to come online this week.Show full PR text
Virgin Media WiFi on London Underground - update more stations coming online
As you're probably aware, free WiFi on London Underground is coming to an end this month. But, from 29th January, millions of Virgin Media, Vodafone, EE, T-Mobile and Orange customers can stay connected at no extra cost thanks to wholesale agreements announced in November.
All Tube passengers will continue to have free access to Virgin Media's comprehensive WiFi portal, with up-to-the-minute Transport for London (TfL) travel updates and great London entertainment and news, alongside a choice of Virgin Media WiFi Passes to keep everyone connected:
Virgin Media WiFi Pass Cost
And, throughout February, passengers taking up the monthly WiFi pass will enjoy three months access for the price of one!
Another 11 stations are coming online this week, including Hampstead, Tooting Broadway and Great Portland Street, joining the 92 London Underground stations already WiFi enabled. We continue to work with TfL to install more stations throughout London, with around 120 stations due to be connected by the end of March 2013.
Virgin Media's WiFi service on London Underground was launched ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games and made available to all Tube passengers for free throughout 2012. Virgin Media confirmed plans to wholesale the service in June 2012 and announced EE and Vodafone as wholesale partners in November 2012.
If you're anxious for all this talk about graphene to materialize into products that can be tucked away in your shoulder bag, you're certainly not alone. A consortium dubbed the Graphene Flagship, which includes heavyweights such as Nokia and the University of Cambridge, has been selected by the European Union to participate in a program that'll endow it with 1 billion euros over 10 years to make that happen. The hope is that pairing up researchers and businesses will hasten the development of material and component manufacturing processes for the carbon-based substance, and make it possible for graphene to find its way into products such as flexible electronics, batteries and faster processors. During the first 30 months of the program, 126 academic and industrial research groups spread throughout 17 European countries will be coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology and have their collective pockets filled with an initial 54 million euro budget to kick things off. It's a long haul, but here's hoping Espoo's Morph concept inches a little closer to reality.
[Image credit: Nokia]
Via: Nokia Conversations
Source: Graphene Flagship (PDF)
NASA believes our return to the Moon could be sustained by extracting water from the lunar soil to produce air and even fuel. But how to get large amounts of that soil without bringing heavy, failure-prone machinery? The agency's RASSOR (pronounced "razor") excavator robot might do the trick. Rather than wield big scoops, it has a pair of arm-mounted drums that can change the robot's profile and dig with far more efficiency than RASSOR's 100-pound weight would usually allow, using one drum as a grip. The robot's sheer flexibility is also key to its working for the estimated five years of NASA's plans: if the crawler ever overturns or gets caught, it can flip over and keep the main treads out of the ground while clearing out soil-related jams. There's enough refinement needed that a RASSOR 2 follow-up should be in testing around early 2014, but the sequel will be close enough to the ideal design that long-term Moon missions could have the little hauler as a passenger.
Filed under: Robots
Not that a view over the Thames ever gets old, but commuters should soon find it a bit easier to check their inboxes while they're on or next to the water. Californian WiFi specialist Ruckus says that its wireless steering technology -- which increases network range by up to 4x by directing signals around obstacles and interference -- has just been picked for an upgrade to BT's Thames WiFi service. The new "carrier-grade" equipment should be activated within the next couple of months and will stretch out along the full 27 meandering miles of river that are already covered by traditional antennas. With better hotspot access spreading across the Tube network, black cabs and now the water, EE's central London LTE service will have even more to prove in terms of raw speed.
[Image credit: Getty Images]
Global Reach Technology Selects Ruckus to Bring Smarter, High Capacity Wi-Fi to Users on Land and Water within the UK
Smart Wi-Fi Enables High-Speed Wi-Fi Access for Millions of Passengers Along 27 Miles of the Thames River and Reliable Public Wi-Fi Access in Leeds and Bradford
LONDON, ENGLAND (UK) and SUNNYVALE, CA - January 28, 2013 - Ruckus Wireless, Inc. (NYSE: RKUS) today announced that Global Reach Technology Ltd., an innovative supplier of Wi-Fi, cloud- and IP-based policy management services, has selected its ZoneFlex[TM] Smart Wi-Fi system for a number of high profile Wi-Fi projects in the UK that address the explosive demand for reliable, high-speed data access in densely trafficked areas around the city.
Global Reach has deployed carrier-grade Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi indoor and outdoor ZoneFlex products for its public hotspot infrastructure along 44km (27 miles) of the River Thames and onboard Thames Clippers London River Ferries to support more than 30 million people accessing the river each year. In addition to providing public Wi-Fi access through its own Thames Wi-Fi hot zone branded service, planned for Q1 2013, Global Reach is leveraging its high capacity infrastructure to offer wholesale and international roaming services across the 27 miles of river coverage.
British Telecommunications plc (BT) gives public Wi-Fi access free of charge to all its BT Broadband subscribers via the white-labeled Global Reach service to the Thames River network, while the Transport for London (TFL) authority is using the Wi-Fi infrastructure for private services such as real-time location-based information, tracking boats, network monitoring, timetables, CCTV surveillance and other services.
In addition, Global Reach has selected Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi as the standard underlying technology for the City Wi-Fi services it provides for Virgin Media Business in both Leeds and Bradford.
Carrier-Grade Wi-Fi Solutions with a difference
Global Reach has established a unique position in the market, offering a total managed infrastructure solution coupled with a complete portfolio of value-added network services such as key data on network monitoring, management information systems and customer usage behavior; architecture planning; security; content portal capabilities and gateway functions, and sophisticated policy management.
For mobile network operators and service providers, Global Reach provides bespoke wireless infrastructure and services. Additionally, its policy engine provides seamless and secure 3/4G off load to manage customer's traffic and eCRM, including content filtering, lawful intercept, bandwidth shaping, port and website blocking. Intuitive dashboards allow operators to manage their infrastructure as well as the end user customer experience with complete visibility and precision.
"To effectively deal with the demands and capacity required to deliver service on this scale, we needed a carrier-grade Wi-Fi network in which our customers could have complete confidence," said Nigel Wesley, Chief Executive Officer for Global Reach Technology. "At the end of the day, customers don't really care about how the infrastructure works - they simply want a fast, reliable and affordable Wi-Fi experience that's easy to access and use. That's precisely what we're delivering with Ruckus."
Wesley noted that while providing a reliable Wi-Fi experience in the UK is no easy task, operators are looking for value beyond vanilla connectivity. "Global Reach has developed a different model that not only delivers a carrier-grade Wi-Fi infrastructure at a much lower cost, we are also reducing the time to market for service providers and enterprise customers, allowing them to focus on monetization and bringing value to the subscriber experience."
Smarter Wi-Fi on the Water
Global Reach's Smart Wi-Fi network is one of the world's largest outdoor mesh deployments along a key transport artery weaving through the UK's capital. Four million people travel on the Thames Clippers river ferries every year, with millions more living and working along the riverbank, offices, hotels, cafes and tourist locations.
Global Reach has used new Ruckus ZoneFlex 7782-N, carrier-class 2.4/5 GHz 802.11n outdoor access points (APs) to deploy at main piers crisscrossing the Thames River. 24 Thames Clippers London river ferries are being equipped with ZoneFlex 7363 802.11n indoor dual-band Smart Wi-Fi access points, along with 3G backhaul and ZoneDirector controllers at the Global Reach network operation centers, to provide centralized administration and remote management.
"While we are fundamentally hardware agnostic, we are building carrier-quality Wi-Fi networks that mandate carrier-quality equipment," said Chris Spencer, Chief Technology Officer for Global Reach.
"With its adaptive antenna structure and high-capacity designs, Ruckus has clearly differentiated itself by delivering among the most reliable systems on the market that are distinctly designed for carriers. With the kit we've seen a significant increase in the signal strength as well as the number of concurrent users and sessions we are able to support at any one given time."
City Wi-Fi in Leeds and Bradford for Virgin Media Business
In Leeds and Bradford, Ruckus ZoneFlex 7762 outdoor dual-band 802.11n APs are being deployed on street furniture by Global Reach to provide a completely free City Wi-Fi service that is open to everyone. Global Reach manages and operates the network for Virgin Media Business, building on a partnership that was originally formed for the rollout of the acclaimed London Underground Wi-Fi service.
"There is a massive wireless land grab taking place all over the UK," concludes Wesley. "The super-connected city initiative means a great deal for places like Leeds and Bradford as they focus on growth and regeneration for local businesses, visitors and residents. The Wi-Fi networks we are building are great examples of projects that are making the vision of super-connected cities a reality and enabling future prosperity and innovation."
Sierra Wireless will be a very familiar name to many travelers who've depended on a hotspot or modem to keep their laptop online. Let's hope they aren't overly comfortable with the brand: Netgear just snapped up the assets of Sierra Wireless' AirCard business, which covers many of the portable 3G and 4G devices we hold dear. The $138 million, 160-employee deal gives Netgear the resources it wants to make a big push into LTE access devices. Sierra Wireless, meanwhile, is blunt in describing the handover as a cash grab: the agreement gives it "significant financial resources" for improving its embedded modules and machine-to-machine devices. The deal should thus make sense for both sides as long as it completes in March, although we can't help but feel that it's the end of an era for jet set data users.Show full PR text
NETGEAR ENTERS INTO AGREEMENT TO ACQUIRE SELECT ASSETS OF SIERRA WIRELESS AIRCARD BUSINESS
Acquisition accelerates mobile initiative of NETGEAR service provider business and will be immediately accretive to earnings upon closing
SAN JOSE, Calif. - January 28, 2013 - NETGEAR(R), Inc. (NASDAQGM: NTGR), a global networking company that delivers innovative products to consumers, businesses and service providers, today announced that on January 28, 2013, it entered into an agreement to acquire select assets and operations of the Sierra Wireless, Inc. ("Sierra Wireless") AirCard(R) business. NETGEAR management will hold an investor conference call tomorrow, January 29, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. EST (5:30 a.m. PST) to discuss the agreement.
On January 28, 2013, NETGEAR entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with Sierra Wireless to acquire the operations of the AirCard business, including customer relationships, certain intellectual property, inventory and fixed assets of the Sierra Wireless AirCard business. The purchase price is approximately $138 million in cash. The final purchase price is subject to adjustments to be made after closing. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of necessary regulatory clearances, is expected to close by the end of NETGEAR's fiscal first quarter.
Patrick Lo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NETGEAR, commented, "We are excited to announce that we have entered into an agreement to acquire select assets of the Sierra Wireless AirCard business. We expect this acquisition will accelerate the mobile initiative of our service provider business unit to become a global leader in providing the latest in LTE data networking access devices. We believe that LTE network technology represents a huge market opportunity, especially in emerging markets and rural areas where high speed broadband Internet access is currently limited. This asset acquisition reinforces NETGEAR's commitment to develop innovative products for the next generation of Internet service providers."
Christine Gorjanc, Chief Financial Officer of NETGEAR, said, "We are excited about the opportunities this transaction gives us, and we expect this acquisition to be accretive to non-GAAP earnings in the first full quarter that NETGEAR operates the AirCard business. Based on current information, the business we are acquiring has a 12 month trailing net revenue run rate of approximately $247 million through December 2012."
"We are also taking this opportunity to update NETGEAR's estimates for the recently completed fourth quarter of 2012," Ms. Gorjanc continued. "We currently expect to achieve net revenue of $305 million to $310 million and non-GAAP operating margin within the 11% to 11.5% range, both of which are within the guidance we provided last quarter for net revenue and non-GAAP operating margin, respectively. The non-GAAP tax rate for the fourth quarter of 2012 is currently expected to be approximately 40%, which is higher than the approximately 33% that we had previously estimated. We will provide all the details on our 2012 fourth quarter and year-end results in our normally scheduled earnings release in February."
With the completion of the asset acquisition, approximately 160 employees located primarily in Carlsbad, California and Richmond, British Columbia are expected to be integrated into NETGEAR's service provider business under Michael Clegg, Senior Vice President and General Manager of NETGEAR's service provider business unit.
SIERRA WIRELESS ENTERS INTO AGREEMENT TO SELL ASSETS OF AIRCARD(R) BUSINESS TO NETGEAR
Vancouver, Canada - January 28, 2013
Expected net cash proceeds of approximately $100 million USD
Transaction enables Sierra Wireless to accelerate growth of machine-to-machine (M2M) business
Company provides preliminary fourth quarter and full year 2012 financial highlights
(All amounts included are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.) Sierra Wireless, Inc. (NASDAQ: SWIR) (TSX: SW) today announced it has executed a definitive agreement for the sale of substantially all of the assets and operations related to its AirCard(R) business to NETGEAR(R), Inc. (NASDAQGM: NTGR) for $138 million in cash plus approximately $6.5 million in assumed liabilities as of December 31, 2012. NETGEAR is a global networking company that delivers innovative products to consumers, businesses, and service providers. Sierra Wireless expects to realize net cash proceeds of approximately $100 million from the asset sale, after related taxes, expenses, and funds held in escrow. The transaction is expected to close in March 2013, subject to customary closing conditions.
Under the transaction, NETGEAR will acquire the assets and operations of the AirCard business, including customer relationships, products, intellectual property, inventory, and fixed assets, and assume certain liabilities, including warranty commitments and other customer obligations. Approximately 160 employees, primarily in sales, marketing, and R&D, will be transferred to NETGEAR, as well as certain facilities in Carlsbad, CA and Richmond, BC.
"This transaction is the next step in our transformation into a company focused on enabling the 'Internet of Things' - a strategy we have been pursuing with great success since 2007," said Jason Cohenour, President and CEO of Sierra Wireless. "We are the world leader in this dynamic market, with the industry's broadest product lineup, solutions across the value chain and an extensive, blue-chip customer base. In addition to realizing a solid return for the AirCard business, this transaction will provide significant financial resources and capacity to accelerate our growth in M2M and connected device solutions."
Mr. Cohenour added, "Our AirCard business has become the technology leader in the mobile broadband market, and has earned a global reputation for strong R&D execution and high quality products. The acquisition by NETGEAR offers this product line and superb team a natural home and excellent growth prospects, as the strategy, product line and channel alignment is very strong. Under the ownership of NETGEAR, our AirCard customers can expect continued high service levels and technology innovation."
Upon completion of the transaction, Sierra Wireless's retained business will include its AirPrime[TM] embedded modules for M2M and Mobile Computing, AirLink(R) intelligent gateways and routers, and AirVantage[TM] M2M cloud product lines. Going forward, Sierra Wireless will be an M2M and connected device pure play company, focused on providing innovative hardware, software, and cloud-based solutions that work together to enable customers across a broad range of markets to connect their machines to the "Internet of Things."
Use of funds
Sierra Wireless intends to use net proceeds from the transaction to continue its acquisition strategy in the M2M market, with the objective of accelerating revenue and earnings growth by strengthening its leadership in existing markets and expanding its position in the M2M value chain.
Sierra Wireless is also exploring alternatives to return a portion of the proceeds to shareholders and will seek approval of the Toronto Stock Exchange ("TSX") to undertake a normal course issuer bid ("NCIB"). The terms of the proposed NCIB will be subject to TSX review and approval, and Sierra Wireless expects to provide further details in the coming weeks.
Financial highlights for the fourth quarter and full year 2012
Sierra Wireless expects consolidated fourth quarter 2012 results to be solidly in line with guidance provided on November 1, 2012. Preliminary revenue for the full year is $644 million.
With respect to the retained business, preliminary fourth quarter and full year 2012 revenues were $109 and $397 million, respectively, including $14.0 million and $61.1 million, respectively, in revenue from the sale of AirPrime embedded wireless modules to Mobile Computing customers. Non-GAAP gross margin for the retained business was 33.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 and 31.6 percent for the full year. Non-GAAP earnings from operations for the retained business were modestly positive in the fourth quarter, showing a steady improvement throughout the year.
"Upon closing this transaction, we will be highly focused on driving profitable revenue growth in our M2M business," said David McLennan, Chief Financial Officer of Sierra Wireless. "As a stand-alone business, we will have a cost structure that supports considerably higher revenue levels, which will initially be reflected in modest operating margins. However, because we will be fully invested for growth, as we increase our revenues we expect to see greater operating leverage from the business."
Sierra Wireless will release fourth quarter and fiscal 2012 financial results after market close on February 6, 2013. Management will provide additional financial detail at that time.
BMO Capital Markets is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Sierra Wireless, and Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP and Paul Hastings LLP are acting as legal counsel to Sierra Wireless.
In short order, the Sequoia supercomputer and its 1.57 million processing cores will transition to a life of top-secret analysis at the National Nuclear Security Administration, but until that day comes, researchers are currently working to ensure its seamless operation. Most recently, a team from Stanford took the helm of Sequoia to run computational fluid dynamics simulations -- a process that requires a finely tuned balance of computation, memory and communication components -- in order to better understand engine noise from supersonic jets. As an encouraging sign, the team was able to successfully push the CFD simulation beyond 1 million cores, which is a first of its kind and bodes very well for the scalability of the system. This and other tests are currently being performed on Sequoia as part of its "shakeout" period, which allows its caretakers to better understand the capabilities of the IBM BlueGene/Q computer. Should all go well, Sequoia is scheduled to begin a life of government work in March. In the meantime, you'll find a couple views of the setup after the break.
Filed under: Science