Sony drops after taking $1 billion writedown in movie business

Sony drops after taking $1 billion writedown in movie business

The shares fell as much as 4 percent to 3,362 yen in early Tokyo trading on Tuesday, the biggest intraday decline since Nov. 9. To offset part of the loss, the company also said it would sell shares in the medical web service M3 Inc. to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Japan unit, in a deal worth 52 billion yen. M3 shares slipped as much as 6.4 percent.

The writedown, the most recent in a series of blows to Sony’s balance sheet that has included charges related to image sensors, batteries and earthquake damage, contrasts with improving consumer electronics operations and growth in the games segment. In June, Sony warned the movie division was at a risk of posting more losses. The studio has struggled recently, including with last year’s Ghostbusters sequel and a movie based on the Angry Birds video game. The writedown announcement comes two weeks after Sony said the chief executive officer of Sony Entertainment, Michael Lynton, is stepping down after a 13-year run.

“There are many investors who have not forgotten how Sony in past repeatedly over-promised and under-delivered,” Atul Goyal, an analyst at Jefferies Group, wrote in a report. He reiterated his buy rating on the stock. “We think this is the new management owning up the mistakes of Sony’s past.”

After Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida took over in 2014, he said Sony had revised earnings forecast more than a dozen times in seven years. Since then, he has led a restructuring to focus on games, financial services and content that has included the company exiting personal computers and separating its TV manufacturing unit into a new division. The company said it would book the latest charge in the fiscal third quarter and is examining how that will affect its forecasts.

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Google employees rally in thousands against Trump immigration ban

Google employees rally in thousands against Trump immigration ban

Google

Thousand of Google employees staged protests on Monday over President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, revealing rising tension between the technology industry and new administration.

More than two thousand employees of Google parent Alphabet Inc. participated across several offices. At Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai and co-Founder Sergey Brin — both immigrants — spoke to the crowd, voicing concerns over Trump’s order that limits travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Many tech companies criticized the order, which was signed late Friday. Pichai sent a note to Google staff that day, saying 187 employees were potentially affected. Google asked those employees overseas to return immediately, pledging to help with the logistics and handle the costs.

Pichai told the assembled employees on Monday that the issue is “at the core of the founding of this company,” according to a Google employee there. “We spent two hours this morning talking about all of this. There is large work that remains to be done.”

Brin talked about his refugee past. Part of a Russian Jewish family, he emigrated to the U.S. because of anti-Semitism in that country.

Some of the Google employees affected by the immigration order also addressed the crowd. Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, a Google product manager, was one of them. An Iranian-born Canadian who has lived in the U.S. for 15 years, she was preparing to travel from Switzerland to the U.S. when news of the coming executive order first arrived.

She contacted Google’s internet immigration team to check if she should end her trip early. The team got back in touch and explained her dire situation. Based on the way the executive order was phrased, they advised Esmaeilzadeh not to return to the U.S because she might be instantly deported.

Then, at 4 a.m. Swiss time on Saturday, Google’s lawyers called Esmaeilzadeh again in Switzerland and told her to fly to San Francisco. A federal judge had temporarily blocked the executive order, allowing her to return on Sunday, she told her co-workers at Monday’s protest.

Google booked her on what it deemed was the safest route, with layovers in Dublin and Boston. She got home on Sunday.

Several people at Google had raised concerns about the company’s response to Trump’s policy at a company-wide meeting on Thursday, a day before the order was signed, according to people familiar with the matter. At the time, some employees underestimated the severity of the order, thinking it would only impact new visa applications, one of these people said.

The disruption comes at a delicate time for Google. The company, which had close ties to the Obama Administration, is determining its broader policy approach to Trump on a myriad of issues, including net neutrality, taxes and competition law.

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‘How to protect telecoms sector’s $68billion investments’

‘How to protect telecoms sector’s $68billion investments’

ATCON President, Mr Olusola Teniola

To cement the over 15-year gains of telecommunications revolution in Nigeria, occasioned by the liberalisation of the sector in 2001, stakeholders have canvassed a better regulatory environment in 2017 that is devoid of rancor.

According to industry experts, the sector’s investments put at about $68 billion need to be adequately protected against bad policies.Considering the importance of the sector to the economy, market observers believed that should there be any adverse policies on the sector, the effect will be spiral, as information and communications technology (ICT) have become the infrastructure of infrastructures, not only in Nigeria, but globally.

Speaking to The Guardian, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, said the operating landscape in Nigeria was extremely tough in 2016, considering the issues and headwinds that confronted the industry.

According to Teniola, these challenges included the foreign exchange issues, which resulted into steep devaluation of Naira versus the USD$ and impacted negatively on the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) program of many operators in the telecoms industry.

He added that the threat of further taxes being imposed on the industry in the form of Communications Services Tax (CST) and other problems, including reduced Foreign Direct Investment into the telecommunications sector and then the contraction of revenue accrued to the industry versus previous years’ astronomical growth are instances that should be avoided in 2017.

The ATCON President said the last quarter in 2016, was fueled by the realisation that predatory pricing has crept into the industry and the Nigerian Communications Commission needed to deal with this in terms of wholesale price determination interventionary measures.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and National Assembly finally sought oversight on one of our members and this has caused confusion and uncertainty in the investment community about the sincerity of Nigeria in respecting repatriation of profits made in the past and has halted further investments much needed to expand and upgrade network capacity to achieve the requisite QoS – the investment community is generally in a ‘let’s wait and see’ mode at the moment concerning significant investments in Nigeria,” he stressed.

But to the President, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, government agencies are not most times transparent, reason searchlight are always beamed on them and this extend to the corporate world.

Ogunbanjo, who said though nothing seems to have come out from cries of the Senate over what it described as the illegal repartriation of funds by MTN, he however, stressed that the NCC and the CBN should ensure there is transparency in the operations of telecoms operators in the country.

According to him, all the operators include MTN, Airtel, Globacom, Etisalat and even nTel operations should be looked into critically to ensure they are not violating rules and regulations guiding their operations in the country. He said a sector without transparency is capable of hindering economic growth.

To the Association of Licenced Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), operators are responsible corporate body that governments should treat well.ALTON Secretary and Head of Operations, Gbolahan Awonuga, said nothing came out of the Senate brohaha that MTN illegally repartriated funds.

Awonuga said it will be better for the NASS to come out with better policies that will attract investments to the telecoms sector and the economy as a whole.

ALTON chief said government should be proactive, especially now that the economy is in recess, government should come out with waivers to encourage growth.

Already, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, while speaking to Reuters, wants Nigerians to encourage MTN and others, and not scare them away from the country.

Shittu said MTN is important to Nigeria and the presumption is that they are innocent of the latest allegations leveled against the company.“Nobody will say that MTN is not important to Nigeria – we must encourage them, we must not scare them away from Nigeria,” Shittu told Reuters in an interview.“The presumption is that they are innocent and we pray they remain innocent. They must stay,” he stated.

MTN has said it did not break Nigeria’s currency transfer rules.Shittu’s comments are similar to those he made when MTN was initially fined $5.2 billion in 2015 — equal to more than two years of its Nigerian profits — for failing to cut off unregistered SIM cards. The fine was reduced last June to 330 billion naira ($1.1 billion).

The crux of the allegation into illegal money transfers is that MTN did not obtain certificates declaring it had invested foreign currency in Nigeria within a 24-hour deadline stipulated in a 1995 law, and so the repatriation of returns on those investments was illegal.

“They have a right to repatriate their profits as long as it is legitimately done,” said Shittu, adding that any time MTN is suspected of breaking the law, it will be investigated, though the “facts against them must be established beyond reasonable doubt.”

“Everyone who is in business will have ups and downs. You don’t throw away the baby with the bathwater.”Shittu said the investigation was an issue for financial regulators and did not fall within his “constitutional responsibility.”

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Snapchat parent to offer shares on NYSE: reports

Snapchat parent to offer shares on NYSE: reports

The parent company of hit mobile-messaging service Snapchat is expected to make its debut as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal and news website TechCrunch each reported that Snap Inc. chose to make its initial public offering of shares on the NYSE instead of on the tech-heavy Nasdaq where Apple, Amazon and Google-parent Alphabet are traded.

The IPO move by California-based Snap would build on a trend of the Nasdaq no longer being the preference of private tech companies looking to go public.

Popular one-to-many messaging platform Twitter and Chinese online commerce powerhouse Alibaba both opted for the NYSE in recent years.

Snap declined an AFP request for comment.

Snap is expected to file IPO paperwork later this week, with a possible valuation between $20 billion and $25 billion which could make it the biggest-ticket Wall Street debut since Alibaba in 2014.

The IPO is keenly anticipated by investors, especially if it could serve as a bellwether on how stock market debuts might go for other hot startups such as Airbnb, Spotify or Uber.

Snap Inc. began the IPO process late last year under regulations that allow early stages to be kept confidential.

This exempted it from disclosing its financial information until 21 days before the start of a “roadshow” presentation tour to court potential investors

Entering that phase this week would put Snap on schedule to go public in March.

Snap is one of the sector’s most prominent “unicorns” — a term used for venture-backed firms with valuations over $1 billion — along with Uber and Airbnb.

While Snap’s finances are not public, research firm eMarketer has estimated that Snapchat would generate nearly $1 billion this year from advertising.

Snapchat has become widely popular with teenagers and young adults thanks to messages that disappear shortly after being seen by recipients.

The service claims more than 150 million daily users, of which 50 million are in Europe.

The company last year hit the market with camera-equipped sunglasses called “Spectacles” and renamed the company to show it was no longer limited to a single product.

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Nigeria records scientific feat, produces electronic voting machine

Nigeria records scientific feat, produces electronic voting machine

Nigeria has recorded a scientific breakthrough with the local manufacture of an electronic voting machine designed to eliminate all problems associated with existing ones.

Presenting the innovation to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu in Abuja yesterday, the Executive Vice Chairman of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Professor Mohammed Haruna said the device is a solar-powered EMV with cloud-based collation of election results.

According to Haruna, the device does not store data, thus making it useless to anyone who snatches it. He explained: once the device receives data in form of voting, it sends it to the central electronic system of the electoral body from where it can be viewed online.

Haruna said the scientific innovation would make it possible to conduct all elections: from the presidential to local government in a day, with the results available same day, thereby giving no room for electoral manipulation.

He stated that the tamper proof device addresses most of the electoral challenges such as ballot box snatching, multiple thumb printing, failure of card reader and alteration of data.

“It also makes provision for diaspora voting and incorporates facial recognition, radio frequency identification device options of voters identification in addition to thumb print and card reader,” he stated.

Patrick Okwu, the Managing Director of the NASENI-supervised Electronics Development Institute, Awka, where the electronic voting machines were produced, while making the Power Point presentation to the minister, said that the device has dual identification modes, one is facial and the other is the thumbprint.

The minister commended NASENI for taking up the challenge of producing an indigenous electronic voting machine devoid of usual hiccups.According to Onu, he had thrown the challenge to the agency at a previous visit the Institute in Awka. “This is a major contribution to our nation’s growth. It is important that every vote should count. This is what will make democracy very strong and make elections free and fair.”

He called for more research to make the handheld machine even smaller, promising to support the agency with more funds from the ministry, for more research in the areas of nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.

It would be recalled that NASENI is currently producing solar panels and has in recent past, produced hydro electric turbines, LED lights, inverters and farm implements, among others.

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How Trump could wreck the tech world

How Trump could wreck the tech world

Donald Trump’s policies could have a drastic affect on the tech world.

He has only been in office for just over a week, but Donald Trump has stumbled from one controversy to the next, with the latest rumpus being about a travel ban, which will see millions of people from mostly Muslim countries, banned from entering the US  according to a reports by CNN.

How will this affect the tech world you may be asking, well its quite simple actually, many of the greatest tech companies founded in the US have been influenced by immigrants. You only have to look at some of the biggest tech companies in the world to see this; Apple, eBay and Oracle were all created by first or second generation Americans who came from one of the countries that President Trump has included in his ban.

This is only the start of the Trump effect, according to Fin24,  his next executive order will directly affect the tech world as Trump plans to overhaul the work-visa programs which tech companies rely on to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

Silicon Valley is up in arms, with a number of top tech companies in the US coming out in opposition to the ban, with some going as far as sending out messages asking employees who will be affected to cancel their travel plans. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Twitter, AirBnB have all condemned Trumps policy, slamming it as “misguided and Un-American.”

In an industry which relies on collaboration from diverse minds in order to create the right environment for innovation and creativity to thrive, this travel ban could have a very negative effect on the tech world, particularly in the US.

By: Dean Workman

 

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Airbnb offers free housing to refugees affected by Trump's executive order

Airbnb offers free housing to refugees affected by Trump's executive order

President Donald Trump’s executive order, left stranded refugees, students and green card holders in American airports.

The executive order signed by Donald Trump on Friday left many in dismay and stranded. The immigration ban permanently prohibits travellers from seven countries which include Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the USA for 90 days. This travel ban abruptly terminates the 120 days USA refugee programme.

Many, travelling to the USA with visas were detained on arrival while others boarding overseas flights to the USA were turned away.

In his first week as president, Trump aggravated thousands of people who gathered at airports in solidarity of those detained.

According to TechCrunch, Airbnb has taken the initiative to offer free housing to refugees. The offer is for those who have been negatively impacted by the order. The online housing company offers a immigration support platform for refugees to sign up and receive assistance as well as an opportunity for good Samaritans who are willing to offer a helping hand to those in distress.

The company’s chief executive, Brian Chesky, went as far as posting on twitter saying ” Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US,” he tweeted. “Stay tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing.”

Speaking on the matter, Airbnb spokesperson said, “Our focus is on providing housing to people who have been negatively impacted by President Trump’s executive order, particularly people who were traveling to the U.S. and are now stranded,” a spokesperson said. “We are responding to requests from individuals who have reached out to us directly and we are also working with relief organizations to further identify people in need of temporary housing due to the travel ban.”

Other tech giants executives such as the CEO of Apple, chief executive of Nextflix and chief executive of Facebook are among those who have spoken out disregarding the ban.

Staff Writer

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Introducing the Sony Xperia XZ

Introducing the Sony Xperia XZ

Introducing the Sony Xperia XZ. (Image source: Dean Workman)

The Xperia XZ is Sony’s answer to other high end devices such as the LG G5 and Samsung Galazy S7. The smartphone does have all the features you would expect from a flagship device competing at the top-end of the market.

Although the device is an definitely upgrade, it is however is not too dissimilar to the previous flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z5. There are improvements in areas you would expect such as battery life, camera and design but compared to the Z5 there are few stand out features.

Key features

One of the key feature throughout Sony’s last few devices has been the useful water and dust-resistant design, this has of course been added to the XZ. This gives users peace of mind because the device can be submerged in water to depths of up to 1 meter, although it is not recommended that users do this for a long period of time.

X-reality mode drives up the color contrast and saturation of images and videos which allows for a unique viewing experience.

Another cool function that has returned is the PS4 link, this allows the user to play PS4 games using the device screen. The fingerprint scanner also matches the quality of other high end devices.

DSC_0034

(Image source: Dean Workman)

The design

If you have used a Sony before you will see great similarities with the XZ and previous models. It does however have a new durable metal base and there is a slight curve to the screen giving it a more rounded look and feel even though it has the same boxy design as those that have come before the XZ.

The headphone jack is at the top of the device, the ideal spot if you like listening to music with your phone in your pocket. The charging port is at the base of the handset, sim and microSD slots are on the left hand-side and on the right you will find the power/lock button accompanied by the volume and camera buttons.

In all, the look and feel of the XZ is exactly what you have come to expect from Sony and from a device that is looking to compete against other leading smartphones.

DSC_0043

(Image Source: Dean Workman)

Display

The Sony Xperia XZ sports a 5.2-inch IPS LCD screen with a full HD resolution. The screen is super colorful and really bold as the colors seem to jump off the screen in a vibrant and vivd manner. The lack of QHD on the phone is not noticeable at first glance, but on closer inspection is not quite up to the quality of other high end device, but is by no means dull or dreary.

 Performance

The performance of the XZ ranks up there with the devices it is competing with. Although it only comes with Marshmallow 6 out of the box and the interface looks and feels like Google’s regular Android platform, it still has a unique Sony feel to it.

Other parts of the Sony Xperia XZ are also top-quality. There’s 3GB of DDR4 RAM, and the 32GB of internal storage, with space for an additional 256GB microSD support which results in a pretty fast smartphone.

DSC_0039

(Image Source: Dean Workman)

Camera and battery

The battery in the Xperia XZ is the same size as the previous flagship model the Z5, a 2900mAh cell battery. It will last you about the length of an average full day, about the same as any other top end smartphone would. Sony has however included a fast charge function and the phone also has the ability to track and learn for how long you charge your phone for. How this would work is say for example ,you charge your phone overnight and wake up at 6 30am, the phone will charge up to 90% cut off the power intake and then just before you usually wake up charge the remaining 10%. This is an attempt from Sony to prolong the life of the battery in the XZ.

The Xperia XZ comes with a  23mp rear camera and has a maximum aperture of f/2.0 and an LED flash- all specs that we have seen in previous Sony devices.The difference with this camera comes in the form of the laser auto focus which allows really cool action shots. The phone also sports a 13mp front camera allowing for improved selfies and a wave to capture function which allows you to take a snapshot without touching a button.

DSC_0041

(Image source: Dean Workman)

Verdict

The Sony Xperia XZ most definitely deserves its title as Sony’s flagship device and undoubtedly competes with other high end devices. The phone does however not have any stand out features and while we really do like it, we fully expect Sony’s next iteration to have a little something extra to set it apart from the rest.

By Dean Workman

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Digital Transformation Innovation Dinner Announcement

Digital Transformation Innovation Dinner Announcement

IT News Africa’s next Innovation Dinner will focus on digital transformation (Image Source: Darryl Linington).

IT News Africa has announced the next chapter of its executive dinner series, The Digital Transformation Innovation Dinner. This event will take place on the 22nd of February at the Michelangelo Hotel, Sandton.

Sponsored by Oracle, the dinner will bring together thought leaders and decision makers for an evening of insightful presentations and interactive conversations under the theme Developing a digital eco-system to drive efficiency and effectiveness.

 

The concepts of digitisation and digital transformation have been floated in endless conversations about the future of commerce. However, while we tend to refer to these concepts in abstract terms, the hard realities of digital disruption are starting to hit businesses. Industries are being up-ended almost overnight by the new business models made possible by the convergence of new realms of technology.

This Innovation Dinner will explore how organizations can define a digital strategy to get a jump on their competition, and remain one step ahead of new challengers, by taking an ‘outside-in’ approach to their businesses.

About Oracle:
With over 420,000 customers across 145 countries Oracle looks to accelerate the digital transformation of companies through their comprehensive and fully integrated stack of cloud applications, platform services, and engineered systems. Oracle looks to help their customers meet shifting market demands by accelerating their digital transformation, simplifying their operations and helping them hone their competitive edge.

About the innovation dinner series:
With over 50 Dinners hosted in 3 countries, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, The Innovation Dinner Series continues to provide market access to leading technology companies looking to grow their businesses within Africa’s major business hubs.

This exclusive event is specifically tailored to meet the needs of Africa’s senior executives and offers a valuable opportunity to network and acquire information.

For inquiries regarding the dinner contact:
email: vee@itnewsafrica.com or vardis@itnewsafrica.com
call: +27110260979

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Nokia, Orange Group collaborate to shape the future of 5G

Nokia, Orange Group collaborate to shape the future of 5G

Nokia & Orange Group to collaborate to shape the future of 5G.

Nokia and the Orange Group are all set to collaborate on the development of services that will allow industries and consumers to take advantage of the unprecedented efficiencies and business models made possible by 5G.

5G promises to deliver vast improvements in peak data speeds, network latency and agility, as well as the ability to enable new capabilities such as network slicing. These new developments in 5G technologies will allow operators to support a growing number of customers and potentially billions of connected IoT devices with consistent quality of service, laying the foundation for smarter cities, connected vehicles, smart factories and offices, remote healthcare and many other connected industries.

Nokia and Orange, under a new collaboration agreement, will drive the definition and development of these new services, with a focus on making the transition from 4G to 5G network connectivity in the most efficient way in terms of power, operations, and cost effectiveness, and with the highest level of quality and reliability. Furthermore, the companies will build on existing joint innovation programs, as well as work with other partners, to develop, trial and introduce solutions that will make 5G a commercial reality and drive the digital transformation of vertical industries.

Nokia and Orange will leverage the Nokia Flexi Base Station and 5G-ready AirScale radio access portfolio, the AirFrame data center platform, telco cloud and cybersecurity technologies to create applications making use of 5G’s ultra-low latency and ultra-high reliability.

This work will also include the application of:

  • Ultra-broadband leveraging new frequency bands
  • Cloud RAN and massive MIMO
  • IoT
  • End-to-end network slicing techniques
  • Energy efficiency techniques

Nokia and Orange will leverage the existing research collaboration between Orange Labs and Nokia Bell Labs and establish joint innovation platforms at the Nokia Paris Saclay premises on the outskirts of the French capital, and at the Nokia campus in Lannion, in Western France, in collaboration with two Orange’s research and innovation sites, Orange Gardens in Chatillon and Orange Labs in Lannion. The companies will open up the laboratories to work with their respective innovation partners, including local enterprises, vertical application providers and local start-ups, to accelerate the ecosystem that will be created around 5G.

Alain Maloberti, Senior Vice President, Orange Labs Networks at Orange said: “In line with the Orange Essentials 2020 strategy, Orange places innovation at the heart of its drive to deliver an unmatched customer experience. Working with Nokia, we are preparing the evolution of our networks from 4G to 5G, with multiple services on a single infrastructure to deliver a quality tailored for each service requirement. Our new services will enhance people’s lives and accelerate the digitization of vertical industries.”

Marc Rouanne, chief innovation and operating officer at Nokia, said: “With our breadth of Radio, IP and Optics technologies, and the expertise of Bell Labs, Nokia is proud to be assisting Orange in the introduction of 5G and the application of the Future X Network paradigm. Through this collaboration, we will test 5G applications for different industry segments and measure the benefits of extremely short latency and very high speeds. We are also delighted to be applying our world-class R&D expertise in Paris and Lannion in this project.”

 

Staff writer

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