Monday, February 28, 2011

PlayStation 3 banned in Europe

European customs officers have been ordered to seize shipments of PlayStation 3s after LG won a preliminary injunction against Sony in an acrimonious patent battle between the two Asian electronics giants. The ruling by the civil court of justice in the Hague means that all new PS3s have to be confiscated as they are imported into the UK and the rest of Europe for at least 10 days. If the injunction was extended it could mean consoles disappearing from high street shelves. It is understood that Sony and computer games retailers typically have about two to three weeks' worth of PS3s in stock across the continent. Tens of thousands of PS3s were seized by customs officers last week in the Netherlands, the Guardian has learnt, in a dispute that centers on Sony's allegedly infringing use of Blu-ray technology belonging to LG.

 Not to long ago Sony was sued by LG for patent violation relating to the PS3's Blu-ray system. As LG pushed to get the popular gaming system removed from store shelves in the US, they did not have to push in Europe. Europe has issued a 10 day ban on the game system's imports and sales, this ban is subject to a pending extension. This is devastating news for the Japan based company Sony, prior to the ban around 100,000 PS3 consoles were imported into Europe every week. This massive loss of profit for the company could spell trouble, and if the product is not removed from US stores, and this patent case is not completed within a short amount of time we can expect to see a price increase in all of Sony's products to compensate for the reduction of the available market. However being this company has such a large supply of other products from Tv's, portable game systems, and mobile devices it will not cause the company to go out, it will just cause it to have to cope with reduced profits for the next few days, weeks, or even months.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Motorola sues Tivo

So in this case, Motorola is suing Tivo over their DVR patents. DVR stands for digital video recording by the way. This just one of the many cases that has to deal with DVR suits. Tivo has done the same against Dishnetwork and EchoStar which are also big name companies. Let's put it this way, it's all about money to these big companies, their revenue is never enough and so they find as many ways to increase it, suing over patents seems to be the battleground of the tech world. Basically if any of these companies ever do win, their cases it's going to be a big hit in their revenue stream. In actuality its going do more bad then good. Sure one company wins the money and will spend it hopefully, but the other company that loses will most definitely have to make cuts and possibly close down depending on the suit. This will just increase the unemployment rate. Not frictional unemployment but rather cyclical where the demand for let's say Tivo is nearly as high as before and therefore they will have to lay off people. I mean the demand isn't as high because they lost their case for the DVR and will most likely cannot sell that set up box with said DVR, ergo their main revenue stream is gone.

Friday, February 25, 2011

PIrates at it Again

Pirates attacked a leisure vessel this week. This got me thinking about how much a modern day pirate could impact the price of any commodity transported by water. Then I found that recently, pirates hijacked a US bound oil tanker off of the coast of Somalia. The Oil, being as valuable a product as it is will make the ransom for the tanker astronomical. Especially for the vast quantity that was on the tanker. Pirate attacks and hijackings cost the global economy over $12 billion a year. All that can do is cost us more at the pump.

Because of the danger of sailing through the area, the shipping companies have to pay the seamen more money to sail. They also pay increased insurance rates on ships that move through pirate infested water. The increase in cost because of the pirates impacts us directly through higher costs for anything imported to the US from the Middle East and India. That includes oil, cotton and many other highly used items.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Verizon Xoom

In an earlier post I talked about the new tablets being created that run on the Android OS, and as of then prices had not been announced. Well the first tablet, the Verizon Xoom, has had its price announced as well as how you will be able to get your hands on it. The Xoom will use Verizon's 3G network, cost $600 with a contract, and will require a $20 data plan.

This device seems to be a good competitor for the iPad if, of course, you are planning on getting a tablet that uses 3G. The iPad that has access to 3G is $629 which is only a bit more than this tablet, but the iPad doesn't require a contract. If you want to get your hands on the Xoom without a contract it'll cost you an extra $200 bringing the price up to $800. Some would stop right there simply because of not wanting to get roped into a contract, but if you're going to use a 3G network anyway then the contract isn't much of a big deal. One thing that will make the tablet better than the iPad is the fact that it will be given access to Verizon's 4G network sometime later this year for free. I think that the price point of this product is good to compete with the iPad, but I also think the contract is going to scare people away and really limit the amount of units sold. Even though this tablet will more than likely not be more popular than the iPad, it does take some business away from Apple and makes it so Apple can't charge whatever they want for their product. Apple can't charge whatever they want for their product anymore because they have to make sure they can still beat out these new tablets for consumer attention. This means that Apple will have to keep its prices at or around the Xoom's which is good for us consumers because if anything all the prices will do are fall allowing people to spend less of their overall income. However, for Apple this means that they will most likely start making less money, maybe not much but the amount of money they lose will grow as more and more tablets are introduced into the market because there will be more competition. For a first attempt by Android this is a very strong entry, but if they can't break Apple's hold on the market then this product will fall by the wayside.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

iPad 2 soon?

The iPad 2 will be revealed to the public next week, says The Wall Street Journal.

According to "multiple sources," the next iteration of Apple's popular tablet device will be revealed next Wednesday. The WSJ's report falls in line with similar rumors we've heard over the last few weeks, not to mention Apple's annual release schedules.

Last year the company introduced the iPad in late January and planned on shipping the device in late March, due to unspecified issues, however, the release was delayed until early April. If rumors and The WSJ's report prove true, Apple is expected to ship the next iPad around the same time this year.

With the announcement of the iPad 2 seemingly on the horizon, Apple seems to be moving faster to finish its new model. The original iPad was a huge success for Apple, which raked in huge profits on its release. With every kid wanting one, the product is still in high demand even today. So did Apple jump to soon with their new iteration, or will they hit the sweet spot again? Apple has a history of improving upon its technology within months of first putting it on the market. Given the consumer feedback Apple gets, it seems likely that it will already have improved features planned and ready to retail early every year. So has Apple released its new tablet too soon, or is the right time now?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Navy Breaks World Laser Record

The Navy's Laser Sytem
The Navy just set a new world record, a test blast from a new type of laser that can shoot cruise missiles from the sky in seconds with a deadly accuracy that simply doesn't exist in the military’s vast arsenal today. And that new record moved them one step closer to proving the "holy grail" of laser guns is real.To create incredible power requires incredible energy. After all, the more power one puts into a laser accelerator, the more powerful and precise the light beam that comes out on the other end. During a private tour of the Jefferson Lab in Newport News, VA., on Friday, saw scientists blast unprecedented levels of power into a prototype accelerator, producing a supercharged electron beam that can burn through 20 feet of steel per second.

 This new Laser constructed by the US Navy might just seem like something cool or make you think we can just point a light at something and watch it be vaporised. Well the second half of that is true, which means that this laser can replace and cause many of the current highly expensive military equipment used for both offensive and defensive purposes. Even as you read this the Navy is working on a modified Boeing 747 that will carry this type of laser in the nose to shoot down enemy aircraft, missiles or even attack ground targets. Now that we have a highly effective means of protection the need for many of our anti-missile defense stations and the amount of Air-to-Air missiles we have can be reduced saving the Navy millions in production and maintenance costs annually. This very large and powerful laser will impact not only our military but will assist all our armed forces and help reduce overall budget costs in this current time of economic difficulties. You can expect to see this take its effect starting in 2012. In addition to reducing material costs, this will save lives of Americans. Now that we do not need to send in our special forces to take out a enemy missile, or to disable a highly sensitive enemy installation we can use a precise laser system without having to worry about collateral damage. Saving money in terms of man power, the time to execute the operation, and costs of supplies needed to run the operation.

The contract to finalize and perfect this laser for the mobile airborne use on the nose of the 747 cost the Navy $163 million. Is this cost justified? is spending all of this money on a new weapon system going to help or hurt the economy? the answer is a matter of individual opinion. The cost of this system should be deemed justified, being that this will replace older and outdated technology that currently costs massive amounts of money to maintain and operate. In addition it will bring about the first variant of this weapon system, and with a existing, working system you can modify it easier then it would be to create a new system all together. In relation to this helping or hurting the economy, the answer is both. It will help out the companies and industries involved in this products creation being they will receive funds from this contract and it will hurt those that are used to work on the current systems. However this is nothing new, it is the impact of advancing technology and change in consumer interest. It is the current, expected economic cycle. The companies with the older products will have to create something new or will go bankrupt and fail. It is the way of modern economics.

Apple may work on a TV

Let's face it Apple could make their own brand of TV if they wanted to and again make it innovative and destroy the competition. With Apple fast pace in growth and putting their hands in every media market imaginable, a TV in the future is highly probable at some point in time. According to CNET they might. If they were to put their hands in the TV market. The most innovative thing they could do is work on the power consumption aspect. Apple already has Apple TV built into the computers so it may not be a huge stretch for the company to do this. It's just more people they'll be competing against nowadays. Then again who can they not compete against. With the recession that we're in at the moment a high quality energy saving TV from Apple is probably what most people will want at this point in time. Saving money and energy is the highest priority on anyone's list, but more so seeing we're in the trough or slowly rising out of it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

China's Shifting Needs

According to USA Today China will have an increased demand for the US's agricultural resources. China is already the number one importer of US agricultural products, but due to China's rapid growth and a severe drought in northern China, their need for commodities like grain and meat from other countries has soared. The countries expanding middle class has also increased their need for imported foods because of the rising incomes. As increasingly well-off consumers get fewer of their calories from rice and wheat, they will demand more from high-value products such as meat, fish, dairy and fruit. China plans to use this demand to garner as much economic growth as possible. China's goal of course is to be as self sufficient as possible so they've increased the quantity of the staple foods like rice.

China's rapid urbanization has created a scarcity of land more so than a scarcity of labor. Because of the scarcity of labor China imports land intensive crops and exports labor extensive products. One example of that trend is China's purchases of raw soybeans to be crushed in China for oil. These shifts are obviously more in line with China's comparative advantage.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Testing Your Signal Before You Buy

According to cnn there is a new application out for the Android Market that allows users to give feedback on where they get the best, worst, and total lack of signal for their smart phones. This app will send information without you having to do anything at all since the program runs in the background. There is even an option to remove your fingerprint from any and all data that is being transmitted, in case you are worried about having your name attached to something that is publicly viewable. All this data is taken from every person with the app allowing the app to design maps showing what areas have the best signal strength for all the carriers. The idea is to let people make sure their phone would work in the places they are most often without them having to personally test it by purchasing the phone and then finding out it doesn't work. This is an easy way for people to get an unbiased view on which provider would be best for them.

Now that something like this is out, I expect it will become quite popular and could cause certain companies to loose quite a bit of business. If Verizon doesn't work in half of Austin, for example, then companies like AT&T and T-Mobile could rope in a lot more customers allowing their revenue to grow. I think this could cause a company to become a lot more popular than they are right now or end up causing the company to lose a lot of their customers and possibly shutting down. This would cause the market to get smaller, which would cause prices to grow because there would be less competition. With less competition companies could begin to start charging more money for their services and if only one or two of the companies work in your area then you may end up getting stuck with a plan that is a lot more expensive. On the other hand, apps like this could cause companies to be forced to improve their signal quality or face bankruptcy, which would be very good for the consumer because we would get the benefit of better overall coverage as well as prices similar to the ones we see now. No matter the outcome, this app will definitely have weight in the cell phone business.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How much for the NGP?

We had
quite the interview with Sony's Jack Tretton, but we certainly didn't corner the market on hot new NGP details -- Eurogamer and Game Informer quizzed the company's Andrew House and Shuhei Yoshida, respectively, and came out with some important tidbits about the quad-core gaming handheld, particularly regarding pricing. Though Tretton seemed to suggest we'll see a price somewhere northward of the Nintendo 3DS's $250, Yoshida was quoted as saying "It's not going to be $599," laughing off the idea that the system would cost as much as the PlayStation 3's infamous appraisal at launch, and House said that Sony "will shoot for an affordable price that's appropriate for the handheld gaming space."

How much would you pay for a next generation portable? With new technology pushing gaming to its limits every day, how will consumers adjust to rising prices? Every generation of consoles has brought with it a new price tag for consumers in the video game market. Not until this generation, however, have we seen such a dramatic rise in the cost of how much we pay for portable gaming. Back when the gameboy was the only real hand held gaming system on the market, consumers were able to bye each successive advance in the product at a low more affordable price. With the competition between Sony and Nintendo, both the playstation portable and the nintendo ds raised the prices of portable gaming. As the next generation of portable gaming is set to arrive many are predicting prices of each individual unit to be as much as three to four hundred dollars. Compare that to the launch of the current generation home consoles and we can see that portable gaming has almost reached the same price points as its powerhouse home systems. What has caused portable gaming to become so expensive? Is it the cost of innovative new technologies? Is it the competitive nature of the market? Regardless, it is costing more for gamers who want to play on the go.

Monday, February 14, 2011

World's Largest Touch Screen

The University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, has converted a 3D theater into the world’s largest touchscreen, used for teaching mathematics and computer science students interactivity. The screen has a curvature of 135 degrees and is transparent. It can handle over 100 touch points at the same time. One of the great things about this touchscreen is that it doesn’t rely on any fancy new technology. It was basically put together with some PCs, video cameras, projectors and cheap infrared illuminators.   

While this at first might just seem like a cool thing some college kids in the Netherlands made, which it is, it still means more to the world then look what our students can do.  This shows that we don't have to limit touch screens to small phones or computer screens and proves we can have creations such as touch screen walls or tables. If this idea catches and is taken by a company and made into such items, the global market could be in for a large shift. With something as a touch-wall would you still need paint? with touch-tables would you still need magazines and newspapers? Would common building supplies like drywall still be needed as much? and would furniture companies have to or get to create as many coffee tables? This could even potentially remove the need for desktop computers because it is now on your wall. No more sticky notes on the wall to remind you to do things, white boards would soon start to disappear from schools and businesses to be replaced with these high-tech touch-walls or smart-walls. If someone just takes this idea and runs with it they could soon make millions but at the cost of others. With a change in consumer interest from all of the products listed above to these new virtual surfaces it could potentially cause hundreds of companies to go out of business. The overall demand for those products would go down, so if you have no demand why have the supply? so it would drop as well. Soon enough entire lines of products that once were big hits and the must have items would simply disappear. Yet this has happened in the past and businesses did go under, or changed to feature the new items. Yes this will cause some problems but nothing major, it is a step forward and one that could potentially be quite awesome. With this idea that has now been created, the possibilities are endless and only time will tell what will come of this, but I hope some day we all can have walls that are interactive like we have all seen in sci-fi movies for years.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

Another touch screen smart phone hits the market, with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. With all the hype and demand for smart phones, apps and what not, this phone now integrates gaming into the equation. It's more or less the "Playstation Phone" so says CNET. The interface is similar to the dualshock controller from Sony Playstation except with two touch pads instead of joysticks. It's fair to say that this attracts the gaming customer base when Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds just got boring at some point in time. This is just going to be more competition others such as the iPhone and will act as a substitute. I can see this becoming a threat later.
The Xperia Play also has a 5.1-megapixel camera with autofocus, a flash, image stabilization, geotagging, and video recording. Other features include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a personal organizer, a speakerphone, Assisted-GPS, messaging and e-mail, 400MB of internal memory, Sony Ericsson's Timescape interface, a music player, and a full HTML browser with Flash Lite. It also supports the usual Google apps and you can download additional titles from the Android Market.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

According to an article at Usa Today food prices could be on the rise because of natural calamities and congressional mandates. We may not see it on our grocery bill in the US yet but other countries are already feeling the droughts in Russia, China and Argentina, and the flood in Austalia. The US Congress is also contributing a longer term increase of food prices by mandating that 24% of corn grown in the US be used to create ethanol. The mandate combined with a low corn yield this year has put the US field-corn reserve at the lowest it has been in 15 years. The shortage of "eating corn" has caused the price per bushel to almost double from $3.49 in July to $6.10 in January. The price has been predicted by analysts that the price per bushel will continue to rise to $6.90 by the end of the year. The frightening thing is that corn is made into high-fructose corn syrup, our most common sweetener. The corn syrup is found in a huge amount of processed foods, so a shortage of food could cause a widespread increase in prices. So far the Produce companies have been able to hide the shortage of corn by cutting expensives and even making packages smaller. But after earnings reports came in for last quarter a majority of companies have stated that they will raise prices.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is 3D the future of home entertainment?

Least anyone forget, the world is still mired in an economic crisis. The US is still experiencing 10% unemployment overall with some regions much higher. Foreclosures are still rising with no end in sight and retirement investments have yet to recover from being halved in the last 2 years. Yes, we may be climbing out, but with predictions of no new jobs until 2012, and credit card limits trimmed, aside from those getting bonuses from bailed out banks and Wall Street Robber-Barons, where will the cash come from? Or are we supposed to think that consumers will lease their next TV from the ‘Bank of Sony’?

With the economy still recovering and consumers weary to buy expensive things can a market for 3D televisions thrive? The average cost of a 3D set is around 3,000 dollars, which is steep for most consumers. The glasses are also another aspect of 3D that will push consumers away. I already wear glasses and I don't enjoy having to put on two pairs at once. Marketing is another weak point for 3D, as it is very hard to show off 3D to some one on a 2D set. With many families still transitioning to high definition televisions I dont think there will be enough consumers who will want a 3D set in the first place. Until 3D goes glasses free and the market for high definition televisions starts to diminish, I think 3D is stuck.

Monday, February 7, 2011

United States to start off shore wind energy projects

The US government today took a bold step towardperhaps finally getting some offshore wind energy development going with $50 million in investment money and promise of renewed effort to develop the energy source.  
The Department of the Interior and Department of Energy have teamed on what they call the jointNational Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States.  Theplan focuses on overcoming three key challenges that have made offshore wind energy practically non-existent in the US: the relatively high cost of offshore wind energy; technical challenges surrounding installation, operations, and grid interconnection; and the lack of site data and experience with project permitting processes.

 This article that can be found on NetworkWorld talks about how the US is heavily investing in alternative energy sources with this massive campaign for off shore wind energy stations. This will be a great economical boost for the country, by using thousands if not millions more wind turbines our national dependence on coal and when teamed with the rising popularity of electric cars such as the Chevy Volt reduce the overall dependency on foreign oil. This will help to stimulate the national economy because more of our funds as a nation will be spent and used here within the States opposed to being sent to outside nations. In addition to boosting our economy this will also reduce the amount of coal required to burn to produce energy for our energy hungry nation reducing pollution and the demand on coal. This will help conserve a dwindling nonrenewable resource and make the tree huggers out there happy at the same time. I see this also as a change in consumer interest for the country, being more responsible for out actions and repercussion as a nation. Overall this sums up to be an addition to the wind energy use, more economical boosts for the US and a reduced use of the polluting dwindling energy source coal.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tablets Using Android OS

Google just announced that its new tablet computers are going to run off of the Android OS (operating system). The tablets will work the same way that iPads do in the sense that you have to download apps to a computer and then upload them to the tablet, no 3g yet. The new software will supposedly sync the tablets to the computers by themselves wirelessly, downloading the new apps you purchase almost instantaneously. Microsoft's cloud is the main contributor to this new way of downloading apps because it takes all of your data and stores it online that way you can access it anywhere which makes it possible for these tablets to download things without wires or syncing.

This opens up a whole new door for application creators using the Android Market, because now there is a device that has a larger screen which could accommodate better for things like books and movies. There is also a better processor in the tablet than in the phones running Android which makes it possible for games with higher graphics to get good fps (frames per second), opening up the device to more gamers. The fact that this tablet will run off of Android will also draw people in simply because it isn't using Apple's OS. The main thing that worries me is that no price point has been set and the first tablet to come out with this new OS will hit store shelves this month. I'm hoping that the tablet will be priced less than, but no higher than, the iPad less it risk being seen as being overpriced, which would kill its chances. Even with my uncertainty I think with the Android Market backing this product it will do very well against the already established iPad.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

ESPN partners with UT to create network

AUSTIN, Texas -- ESPN and the University of Texas will combine on a 24-hour television network showing Longhorns sports as well as original series, studio shows, historical programming and other academic and cultural events.

There also will be an online component to the network offering content not featured on the linear TV feed.

ESPN will help develop, launch and operate the network. It will also handle distribution of the network, which is unnamed as of now. The deal is worth $300 million over 20 years. The network will launch in September.

With the University of Texas the first such school to get a network deal how many other schools will follow suit? Using a network like this Texas seeks to draw in more student athletes via more media exposure as well as to promote their schools sports to a new level of revenue grabbing. With colleges making millions of dollars off of tv deals with major television networks for bowl games alone will we see a new bevy of associated sports networks dedicated to selling us on a particular college? With college sports creating more and more revenue for huge schools like Texas, I think we will see a trend for colleges who want to produce more programming of their sports to more fans over a longer time. With a 20 year deal it looks like we wont see the end of UT's sports for a long time, will networks like these dominate our televisions for years to come?