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  1. PlayStation fans hoping for the next generation of console will have to wait quite a bit longer for a new installment in the console series. President of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Tsuyoshi Kodera has stated that the next PlayStation is three years off, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Playstation 4 was released in 2013, meaning there will be an eight-year-long span between the two consoles. The reason behind this extended development period is, primarily, predicated on the company's desire to shift its focus from hardware to online services. "We're no longer in a time when you can think just about the console or just about the network like they're two different things," Kodera said during a press event. Broadening the functionality of the Playstation does seem to be a likely possibility. Kodera also mentioned that the new generation of Playstation won't be limited to a single, stationary, device. Kodera also made mention of Sony's continued expansion of Playstation Plus, Sony's online distribution platform for the Playstation 4. Plus offers a variety of products and subscriptions to its users, which reached roughly 34 million as of March. The added focus on user mobility and online subscription services will likely mean the next Playstation console will be widely different from its previous generations. With the rise of digital distribution platforms like Steam, mobile gaming, and the portability of the Nintendo Switch the habits of gamers today vary widely from the way console developers traditionally viewed the market. Kodera seems confident in Playstation's future, and claimed the delay of its next console will let the company "prepare [for] the next step, to crouch down so that we can jump higher in the future." Source
  2. TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp (6758.T) said on Tuesday it would pay about $2.3 billion to gain control of EMI, becoming the world’s largest music publisher in an industry that has found new life on the back of streaming services. The acquisition is the biggest strategic move yet by new CEO Kenichiro Yoshida and gives Sony a catalogue of more than 2 million songs from artists such as Kanye West, Sam Smith and Sia. The deal is part of Yoshida’s mission to make revenue streams more stable with rights to entertainment content - a strategy that follows a major revamp by his predecessor which shifted Sony’s focus away from low-margin consumer electronics. “This investment in content intellectual property is a key stepping stone for our long-term growth,” he told a news conference. The spread of the internet led to a shrinking of the music market from around 1999 to 2014, Yoshida said, but added that has turned around with the growth of fixed-price music streaming services. “The rise in digital streaming is also expanding songwriter royalty revenues, with Sony capturing value as manager of the copyrights backed by direct deals with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, SoundCloud and YouTube,” Macquarie analyst Damian Thong said in a report. The deal values EMI Music Publishing at $4.75 billion including debt, more than double the $2.2 billion value given in 2011 when a consortium led by Sony won bidding rights for the company. Sony, which has run the business since then, will buy a 60 percent stake owned by Mubadala Investment Company, lifting its ownership to around 90 percent from 30 percent currently. PEANUTS AND SENSORS EMI currently commands 15 percent of the music publishing industry which combined with its Sony ATV business would make the Japanese giant the industry leader with market share of 26 percent, a company spokesman said. Other major players include Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group although their market share figures were not immediately available. Yoshida, who took the helm in April, also beefed up Sony’s content offerings this month with a $185 million deal to take a 39 percent stake in Peanuts Holdings, the company behind Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Also unveiling a new three-year business plan on Tuesday, Yoshida said on Tuesday that his strategy was to prioritize stable cash flow while minimizing the impact of volatile sales cycles of game consoles and other electronics gadgets. The company said it aims to generate a total of 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) or more in cash flow over the next three years, up by at least a third from the previous three years. Image sensors, a pillar of growth for Sony as it restructured in recent years, as well as gaming are set to be biggest profit contributors. Operating profit at its semiconductor business, which includes image sensors, is expected to grow to 160-200 billion yen in the financial year ending March 2021, compared with a prediction of 100 billion yen for this year. Extending the sensors’ applications beyond smartphones into automotive areas would be key, Yoshida said, adding that investment in sensors will account for the biggest proportion of a planned 1 trillion yen in capital expenditure over three years. But operating profit at its video games unit is expected to fall to between 130 billion yen and 170 billion yen, down from 190 billion yen forecast for this financial year. At that time, its PlayStation 4 would be nearing the end of a game console’s typical life cycle. Sony’s shares finished 2 percent lower, hurt in part by the expected decline in profits for its gaming business. Source
  3. The FTC says that if companies don't change their warranty practices, it may take 'legal action.' The Federal Trade Commission put six companies on notice in early April for illegally telling customers that getting third-party repairs voids the warranty on their electronics. You’ve seen the stickers before and read the messages buried in end user license agreements. Plastered on the back of my PlayStation 4 is a little sticker that says “warranty void if removed.” That’s illegal. Motherboard has obtained copies of the letters via a Freedom of Information Act request and has learned the names of the six companies that were warned. They are Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Hyundai, HTC, and computer hardware manufacturer ASUS. The letters were sent by Lois Greisman, the FTC’s associate director of marketing practices, on April 9; the FTC has given each company 30 days to change its official warranty policies and says that it may take legal action against the companies. “This letter places you on notice that violations of the Warranty and FTC Acts may result in legal action,” the letters state in bold, adding that the FTC had reviewed warranty language on each manufacturers’ websites and found it to be infringing. “ FTC investigators have copied and preserved the online pages in question, and we plan to review your company's written warranty and promotional materials after 30 days. You should review the Warranty and FTC Acts and if necessary, revise your practices to comply with the Acts' requirements. By sending this letter, we do not waive the FTC's right to take law enforcement action and seek appropriate injunctive and monetary remedies against [company name] based on past or future violations.” The FTC believes all six companies are violating the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which states that no manufacturer charging more than $5 for a product may put repair restrictions on a device its offering a warranty on. Despite being illegal, many companies have such restrictions. Apple, noticeably absent in this round of of warning letters, often steers customers away from third-party repair services. “Warranty language that implies to a consumer acting reasonably under the circumstances that warranty coverage requires the consumer to purchase an article or service identified by brand, trade or corporate name is similarly deceptive and prohibited,” the FTC letters said. The only difference between the letters is that each calls out the specific language from each manufacturer that violates federal law, for example, Microsoft’s Xbox One warranty states “Microsoft is not responsible and this warranty does not apply if your Xbox One or Accessory is...repaired by anyone other than Microsoft.” The FTC letter specifically states that this type of language is illegal. In three cases, the letters also specifically say that the use of warranty-void-if-removed stickers or “seals” break the law; language in the Playstation 4, HTC, and Asus warranties mention that the warranties are void if a seal is removed, something that the FTC mentioned it is “particularly concerned” about. Nintendo, HTC, Microsoft, HTC, ASUS, Hyundai, and the FTC did not immediately respond to our request for comment. Full Document By the FTC Source
  4. MWC 2018 was jam-packed with exciting tech, which we had a lot of fun experiencing and reporting on. Hopefully you took just as much enjoyment reading our coverage and hands-on impressions. Just in case you missed something from the busy schedule, we have prepared a quick rundown of all the highlights of the Barcelona venue. And just in case you prefer the more retro approach to things, here are some key points in writing as well: alcatel In keeping with its track record, the TCL company unleashed a slew of new devices complete with some confusing and open-to-change-upon-order specs sheets. To be fair, this year's lineup is a bit more premium than usual, with devices like the flagship alcatel 5 likely to end up in users hands even without a carrier contract deal. Joining its ranks are four alcatel 3 variants - the basic one, 3X, 3V and 3C, all rocking trendy new 18:9 panels. Even the entry-level actatel 1X gets to participate in the extra-tall display fun. Alcatel at MWC 2018 Huawei No real mobile announcements from the Chinese giant this year. Well, that does depend on your definition of mobile, since a new MediaPad M5 tablet did make an appearance, alongside a gorgeous, ultra-light MateBook X Pro laptop. ZTE ZTE's new additions to the budget-friendly Blade family can potentially make a big market splash, given their aggressive sub-$300 pricing. The Blade V9 and Blade V9 VITA promise premium looks, strong mid-ranger specs and a solid camera experience. ZTE also showcased the Tempo GO as a part of the Android Go initiative. ZTE Blade V9 and Blade V9 VITA hands-on Nokia HMD brought a full and rich roster of new devices to Barcelona. The nostalgia train is running on full steam, as the Finnish company officially resurrected the Sirocco branding, in its shiny new Nokia 8 Sirocco flagship. Surprisingly, it was not the only flagship product to appear on stage. Well, a bit debatable, since the Nokia 7 Plus is based on a Snapdragon 660, but they've packaged that in an exquisitely crafted aluminum body with ceramic-like finish. The same overall praise for build quality and bill of materials applies to the new Nokia 6 (2018) as well, refreshed for 2018. HMD has an Android Go offer as well in the retro-infused Nokia 1, complete with Xpress-on covers - another old-school Nokia branding brought back from the glorious days of yore. But all the exchangeable cases in the world pale in retro-coolness compared to the 2018 Nokia 8110 4G - reborn in Matrix-worthy black and banana yellow. Nokia 8 Sirocco, 7 Plus, and 8110 4G hands-on review Samsung As expected, after an avalanche of leaks, Samsung launched the S9 pair at this year's MWC. Design-wise, the Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy S9 are more of a refinement on their predecessors than anything else, but with a lot of extra features and goodies hiding underneath. Some highlights include a dual-aperture main camera for both phones, aided by a secondary snapper on the bigger S9+. [email protected] video recording and slow motion [email protected] are now possible with the new generation of chipsets from Qualcomm and Samsung themselves. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ hands-on review Sony A pair of exciting new flagships from the Japanese giant. Pretty controversial ones at that. The Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact feature a fresh new "Ambient Flow" design, a lot curvier than before, complete with 18:9 displays. Underneath, both are true powerhouses, built around the Snapdragon 845 and a refined version of Sony's familiar 19MP Motion Eye camera system. HDR recording and display panels are some of the other highlights in the new Xperia XZ2 pair. The Dynamic Vibration system is a peculiar novelty as well. Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact hands-on review Vivo Vivo managed to soak up quite a lot of the spotlight at this year's MWC with the APEX concept phone. It’s a unique device, or rather a unique tech demo (because it's what it is), for more than a few reasons. Thanks to new advancements in OLED technology, the APEX's 5.99-inch panel spans nearly the entirety of its front and also doubles as a speaker and earpiece. Plus, the company's next generation under-display fingerprint technology now spans the entire bottom half of the screen. To top it all off, the selfie camera pops-up when needed via a small motorized dome. If you haven't done so already, you need to check the vivo APEX out. Vivo APEX concept hands-on: a half-screen fingerprint scanner and a periscope camera Asus Asus also brought a full bag of new handsets to Barcelona, namely a fresh new Zenfone 5 line (not to be confused with the 2014 original). Asus is clearly shooting for feature-rich flagships on a budget with the Zenfone 5 and 5z. Both come with tall 19:9 panels, complete with an iPhone X-style notch, live animated emojis and a generous amount of AI sprinkled all over - a recipe worthy for 2018. With a notch less and some downgrades in internals here and there, the Zenfone 5 Lite still promises to deliver all the software goodies and revamped experience of its bigger sibling. And last, but not least, there is the slightly more traditional Zenfone Max (M1) - no AI treatment for this one, but plenty of juice from the 4,000 mAh battery. Asus Zenfone 5, 5z, 5 Lite hands-on review LG LG jumped hard on the AI bandwagon as well, releasing a new and ambitious in scope ThinkQ platform. To go along with it - a pair of devices, or should we say memory options for the V30, descriptively titled the LG V30S ThinQ and V30S+ ThinkQ, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage, respectively. The only other change is the duo of new colors. There wasn't really any new hardware to speak of in LG's "K" lineup either, although, technically, these were refreshed with 2018 versions as well. LG K10/K10+ (2018) and LG K8 (2018) hands-on at MWC So there you have it - the MWC 2018 at a glance. We're looking forward to a few other exciting announcements scheduled for later this month so consider this just the start of an exciting season. Gsmarena.com
  5. Sony took the wrapper off its latest flagship pair at the Barcelona venue today, turning quite a few heads in the process. The Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact represent a brand new look for Sony's mobile line and a pretty bold one at that. Curved sides, arching backs and 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5 fronts are at the core of what Sony is calling its "Ambient Flow" design. Symmetry is still a central part of it all, but gone are the sharper corners and edgy forms of the past, replaced by what the Japanese giant believes to be a naturally fitting shape for the human hand. The fingerprint reader is now mounted on the back and comes with the promise of no more legal issues in the US. Both the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact feature a Gorilla Glass 5 front, an anti-twist metal frame and bezel underneath and IP65/68 rating. The back on the bigger one is also Gorilla Glass 5, making for an interesting reflective, but quite slippery and fingerprint-friendly surface. The Compact substitutes that for a polycarbonate blend, with a mat and significantly easier to clean surface. Sony Xperia XZ2 • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact And the potentially polarizing changes don't stop there. Both the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact come with trendy new, extra-tall, 18:9 displays - 5.7-inch and 5.0-inch diagonals, respectively. Both pushing pixels at a native FullHD+ resolution, which represents a step up for the Compact, over its XZ1 Compact predecessor. Sony's new panels are also HDR certified and support the BT.2020 standard, which their cameras can now record in as well. That camera in question is the same 19MP, Motion Eye, 1/2.3" Sony IMX400, f/2.0 unit from the Xperia XZ1 generation, complete with all the familiar added features, like 5-axis stabilization, predictive hybrid laser/phase detection/contrast AF, burst AF, IR sensor for white balance, LED flash, dedicated hardware shutter key. However, through a collaboration with Qualcomm on the Snapdragon 845 ISP and the software to go with it, the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact offer a new generation BIONZ image processing algorithm/architecture. It is said to help with overall color rendition, as well as detail reproduction and noise handling in low-light environments. As for new camera features, both phones can record 4K HDR video - potentially a world first on the smatphone scene. It uses the same BT.2020 color standard, in a HEVC 10-bit container - ideal for watching on Sony's new HDR panels. Slow-motion video has seen a bump up in resolution as well and can now be recorded in [email protected], as well. The only caveat being that the size of Sony's custom ISP RAM buffer hasn’t grown, so you can only record 1080p slow-mo for half the duration of 720p. There are some notable changes in the audio department as well. First up, sadly, there is no 3.5mm audio jack on either phone. Quite the letdown, considering the beefy profile that comes with the new design (153 x 72 x 11.1mm for the XZ2 and 135 x 65 x 12.1mm for the Compact). Stereo speakers, however, are still present and even 20% louder compared to the XZ1. The bigger Xperia XZ2 also has a new Dynamic Vibration system. It leverages an advanced, wide-frequency vibration motor to simulate bass in music and enhance notification vibrations. The presence and intensity of the vibration can be controlled on a per-app basis. Sadly, the XZ2 Compact lacks the Dynamic Vibration system - one of its very few hardware differences, compared to the regular XZ2. Another one being the lack of QI Wireless charging, which is present on its sibling. The only other major difference is LTE connectivity. The regular XZ2 is rated for Cat.18 speeds, while the smaller one has to live with Cat.15. Other than that, the pair are identical in hardware prowess and are based around the new Snapdragon 845 beastly chipset, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of UFS storage, expandable through microSD. The latter is on a hybrid tray, so you do have to choose between two SIM cards, or extra storage. Other shared specs include Wi-Fi ac, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0,GPS and GLONASS and USB 3.1 Type-C. The smaller size of the Compact did slash the battery capacity a bit, bringing it down to 2870mAh, compared to 3180mAh on the regular XZ2. The Xperia XZ2 is available in Liquid Black, Liquid Silver, Deep Green (Petroleum Blue) and Ash Pink colors, while the XZ2 Compact has Black, White Silver, Moss Green and Coral Pink dyes. Both are expected to hit shelves some time in late March or early April, with no world on pricing yet. Joining them at the announcement event were two types of official covers - the Style Cover Touch and Style Cover Stand in a plethora of colors. Also, a new Y-style Type-C adapter for simultaneous charging and audio out, which will be bundled with every XZ2 and XZ2 Compact unit. Other announcements include a pair of headphones- the wired/wireless SBH90C and the STH40D. Also, a WCH20 wireless QI charging dock, with a detachable stand and both horizontal and vertical modes of operation. Gsmarena.com
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