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September 2018

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Blackberry released new BBM features for all mobile operating systems, laid emphasis on enhancing privacy

Blackberry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) announced the release of an updated version of its Blackberry Messenger (BBM) on all operating systems of smartphones, including iOS, Android and Blackberry itself. The company says that it has laid immense emphasis on enhancing the privacy for the users of its application.

While the latest version of BBM is released with upgraded privacy and authoritative features, the users are enabled to have a control on the texts and content including pictures, videos and contact cards, which they send to any of their contacts without paying a penny as subscription fees.

BBM users are now allowed to “Retract” their texts and media from the recipients. This feature enables them to take pull back the pictures, videos or texts from the recipient’s phone if the content was sent by mistake. The users can also pull back the content if they no longer want it to be seen.

In addition to this, via the updated BBM application, users can also set a timer through which they will be able to control how long the contacts can have access to the messages and pictures which have been shared. Moreover, the users also have an option to share their location to any recipient for as much duration as they want.

Senior Vice President of BBM department at Blackberry, Matthew Talbot stated that the new app is not only going to help the BBM users to communicate in a secure space, but also enjoy such privacy measures by the company free of cost.

The company’s official also added that holding an authority over the content the users share, BBM application users on all mobile platforms can be guaranteed that whatever they share will always be under their control.

The Waterloo based telecommunication company has been struggling in recent years, with its sales dropping rapidly. However, on Friday, the tech company reported a stronger than expected quarterly earnings for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016 (4QFY16).

The company reported Earnings per Share (EPS) of about $0.03, against the Wall Street analysts’ consensus estimate of $0.09 loss per share. On the other hand, the company choked on revenues as it posted sales of $487 million for the recent quarter. The Canadian giant missed the consensus estimate by a significant margin, a projection for Blackberry to report $563 million in revenues.

Currently, Blackberry Ltd stock price stands at $7.30, down about 2.47% as of 12:14 PM EDT. So far this year, the stock has shed 22.51% of its value, underperforming the S&P 500 Index’s gain of 0.26% over the same time period.

NetApp reiterated as Outperform by Baird

Analyst Jayson Noland at Baird maintained his Outperform rating for the stock of NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP) following company’s Insight conference in 2016. The company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Kurian mentioned a Keynote address earlier on Monday’s evening and emphasized the shift to Flash from HDD, and also to scale out the silos.

The company’s CEO mentioned that it’s recent move up to No. 2 in All-Flash array market and stated it expects to move upward to No. 1 and hence, would require substantial gain in market share as compared to Dell and EMC.

The company had spent sufficient amount of time in discussion on Data Fabric. The company is essentially focusing on building a data management platform which would result in allowing the customer to manage the data on premise in the corporate data center, or at off-premise public cloud. The company is also adding on services which sit on Data Fabric, however, the management stated that determining pricing is of key importance.

The company also presented its optimism of the ongoing success of its All-Flash FAS and also its ramp of SolidFire. The company included some new product announcements, such as Ontap Cloud. NetApp announced its expanded support for deployments related to software-only related to its ONTAP operating system on its Amazon Web Service public cloud, which serves to be an addition to its existing Microsoft Azure Support.

Also, it included Flash Solutions. The company introduced several of its new arrays in its flash lineup which promises some radical improvements in its cost base and density, along with a 15 TB SSD support. Also, it results in a much higher performance throughout its hybrid NVMe caching. The new arrays from the company would provide support to its both, 40 GB Ethernet SAN Connectivity and 32 GB Fiber Channel.

Moreover, it also included amendments in Cloud Sync. The new Cloud Synced data management solution facilities from the company are expected to facilitate a much seamless synchronization between its Amazon Web Service Cloud storage and On-Prem Systems.

The analyst increased the Price Target for the stock from $32 to $37, on back of a 13x multiple of its FY17 Expected Earnings per Share (EPS) which gives NetApp a credit of 50% for its net cash position.

Tesla acquired an InfiniBox with mininum capacity of two petabytes to collect more autonomous data for the new Autopilot program

Last month, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) announced a fully self-driving hardware suite with plans to work on software by collecting data through global fleet of Tesla cars to reach full autonomy. With production and demand increasing, the automaker requires a robust infrastructure for data storage to support its fleet learning capability.

Electrek reported that Tesla recently invested in a new data storage system for its new Autopilot program and collecting more autonomous data through it. Moreover, a data storage company, INFINIDAT, is Tesla’s supplier for this project.

The publication quoted a source close to the matter which said the acquisition was done to store and analyze its growing data from the vehicle fleet. Tesla recently acquired a new InfiniBox system from its new supplier, founded by Moshe Yanai, who invented IBM’s XIV and EMC’s Symmetrix systems.

Mr. Yanai described the InfiniBox as a “high-performance enterprise data storage, eliminates performance, availability and scalability issues to accelerate critical business applications.”

The source said that Tesla acquired just one box with a minimum capacity of two petabytes of data and average cost of $1 million. The system is being promoted for applications that require top reliability and it includes triple-redundant data and power paths, including triple-redundant hardware that allows less than three seconds of downtime per year.

Tesla’s InfiniBox could be operational soon as the company could deliver about 15,000 vehicles with Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving Capability hardware suite by the end of 2016 to start storage of data with the new system.

The need for such a system is essential as the automaker plans to increase its annual vehicle production by over 10 times in 2018. The company has already collected hundreds of millions of miles of data through its existing Autopilot.

Electrek later reported that another source said the new InfiniBox is not for the Autopilot program. However, the automaker does not have any other initiatives that require such massive data storage other than the Autopilot program.

No financial details of the transaction have been disclosed as of yet

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) announced today that it has bought HiAlgo Inc., a company that specializes in the development of advanced PC gaming technologies. The company has developed certain technologies that complement Radeon RX Series GPU in redefining the overall gaming experience for users. These technologies enhance the overall effeceincy of the GPU in turn giving the user a significantly improved experience.

“Software is an integral part of advancing the science of graphics, enabling us to best harness the silicon of the GPU to maximize performance and deliver outstanding experiences in games and applications,” commented senior VP Raja Koduri of the company. HiAlgo shares the same ‘passion’ for the overall gaming experience for users as AMD does, adding that the former has delivered several unique solutions in the realm of gaming. He further noted that HiAlgo is instrumental in taking GPU to the next level.

Already, Radeon Software has the capacity to allow the user to fully utlize the performance of the Radeon graphics leading to a worthwhile gaming experience. This is said to provide users with higher control over their respective computing gaming experience. 

AMD stock has been racing up in the market as of late. Today, the stock jumped by 2.33% after having plunged during the past few trading sessions as a result of the Brexit scare. The stock during the past six months has surged by more than 74% while the NASDAQ has dipped by 5.50% during the same timeframe.

The Cupertino-based tech giant might just be making an extremely controversial design change to their next-generation smartphone

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is gearing up to launch its next generation iPhone which, based on its numbering trends, has been dubbed the iPhone 7 both by the general public as well as various media houses. It is important to note that the tech giant is increasingly hounded by various press giants. With various partners in terms of hardware and software, some leaks are inevitable, but the recent buzz in the market tends to indicate that there might be a significant change incoming to the next iteration of the iPhone which is also in-line with its cosmetic facelift that occurs every 2 years.

The headphone jack is essentially something that most smartphone consumers take for granted; it is present in every device from the low-end smartphones to the highest-end flagships. According to a leak by Apple’s manufacturing partner, Catcher Technology, Apple might be considering removing the jack altogether in the next iteration of the iPhone. The general rationale is based on the fact that it prevents the iPhone from getting slimmer than it is right now in addition to the fact that it could allow the Cupertino-based tech giant to sell custom adapters for customers needing to gain that functionality back, a lucrative & high-margins market for Apple to say the least.

It must also be noted that all renders to date and leaks continue along with the story that the next generation iPhone may not have a headphone jack. Should this be true, one can anticipate confirmation via various accessories manufacturers and Apple partners that regularly jump the gun in the months to come and reveal significant cosmetic information about the devices themselves. It must be noted however that nothing is finalized or confirmed until Apple actually reveals the device, but given the sheer amount of supporting evidence, even if indirect, it may not be a bad idea to hedge bets according to this revelation in the coming days. Other aspects of the iPhone 7 upgrade anticipated include significant CPU/GPU overhauls, screen resolution, reduced bezel size as well as a slimmer profile than the current iPhone 6S.

In many ways, the iPhone SE speaks volumes about the iPhone 7’s long term goals. We predict that the iPhone 7 could very well become a premium device with a tendency to move even higher along the “premium” market with both a price raise and significant hardware improvements in the near future further differentiating an iPhone line-up where the SE leads the bottom line and the iPhone 7 moves higher up the high-end food chain. As always, rumors, no matter how credible they seem should be taken with a pinch of salt given that Apple could very well have multiple design prototypes for their devices that may not be anywhere close to the final product.

Some high level of creativity has been seen in these recreations

The internet is a wonderful place to express your creative self and specifically the MMO community has a great drive for creativity. One of the popular MMO games, Activision Blizzard Inc.’s (NASDAQ:ATVI) Destiny, has a vast player base despite being console exclusive and it looks like players of the game have managed to take the game’s levels and designs to the next level with their creativity.

According to recent reports, it looks like a player has managed to recreate a good chunk of Destiny and its locations in Minecraft. The project has been coming along pretty well as of right now and he has managed to create some of the memorable locations in the game, including the Cosmodrome from the Steppes to the Divide. The creator has managed to make everything in the area, including the Devil’s Lair and the breach. However, the Mothyards and beyond have not been made. What is more interesting is that the Tower, The Reef and the mentioned parts of the Cosmodrome have been made with great attention to detail and in their entirety, while the Moon is still there as a proof of concept only with no underground areas. You can check out the full project here.

Another player has recreated the King’s Fall raid in DOOM’s content creation suite and this project has had a bit of tweaking. Firstly, you might not immediately recognize it as the assets used in DOOM are vastly different than those used in Destiny and while Destiny’s Raid is a six-man coordinated activity, the DOOM’s version has been tweaked for the single player experience, for obvious reasons.

It is worth noting that while these may not be exact replicas and may have their imperfections, the work done by these players is certainly commendable. The creativity used while recreating these levels is certainly very impressive and it shows how far the power of simple tools can go. That being said, you can expect minor imperfections and inaccuracies while checking out these creations but they are still.

Tesla introduces its all-electric SUV, the Model X in the Japanese market and releases an ad based on Model S owners

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) plans to post strong quarterly results for this quarter on the back of strong deliveries, after reporting disappointing numbers in the first half of 2016.  Meanwhile, the automaker is introducing its all-electric sedan in newer markets, among which Japan is the latest one.

Electrek reported that the electric vehicle (EV) launched the falcon-wing-door vehicle over the last weekend at its standalone retail location in Aoyama, a neighborhood in Minato, Tokyo. Ahead of the debut of its arguably the best creation, Tesla strengthened its Supercharger network in the country. It plans to cover the entire Japanese market before the launch of its first mass market vehicle, the Model 3.

Tesla has 11 of its fast DC charging stations, dubbed as Superchargers, in Japan, as well as 53 Destination Charging locations. However, its store and service presence has been somewhat limited in the region. While it has a standalone dealership in Tokyo and Osaka, there is just one store with service center in Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama.

According to Electrek, Tesla poached Nicolas Villeger, former President and CEO of Asian operations of the US luxury fashion company Coach, Inc, as VP of Japan and North Asia at the beginning of this year. Mr. Villeger is responsible for Tesla’s brand and business development in the markets.

In its early days, the company faced several obstacles in the country and could not even provide navigational services. However, the issues have been solved under Mr. Villeger’s leadership. Tesla doesn’t publish its delivery number per country, though former Tesla Chief Information Officer, Jay Vijayan, said in 2014 that the company had received more than 2,000 orders for the Model S in Japan.

The automaker sold around 614 sedans in Japan in 2015 and 150 sedans in the first half of 2016, according to data collected by EV-Sales Blog Spot. When Elon Musk, CEO at Tesla, visited Japan, he told Japanese buyers, who usually buy domestic brands like Honda and Toyota, that Tesla cars involve a lot of Japanese manufacturing and engineering.

The automaker’s strategic and sole battery suppliers for cars Panasonic is also based in Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture in Japan. Additionally, Tesla is also taking part in marketing and released a new promo ad which includes Japanese Model S owners giving their view about the electric vehicles:

 

The rumors are getting stronger as we move closer to Vega’s launch time frame

We know that Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) is busy prepping Vega for a release next year and it is expected that Radeon RX-490 will be the first GPU to be announced in the architecture lineup. Since a couple of days, the rumors surrounding RX-490 seem to have resurfaced and they suggest AMD may announce it sometime this month, possibly during the New Horizon event on December 13.

Ashes of the Singularity’s benchmark has become an interesting addition for unearthing unannounced GPUs. The online benchmark database was the same place where we learned about Radeon RX-480. Now, another unknown device ID has popped up in the benchmark, and judging by the rumors floating around, it is assumingly the upcoming RX-490.

The user has tested the GPU on multiple occasions and the most recent test using the Standard 1080p present in DX12 has resulted a score of 8,400 – that’s in the same zone as the GeForce GTX 1080. It should be noted that the GPU is not likely to be using final drivers which should improve performance.

There has been speculation that RX-490 might be a dual-GPU card, but that is very unlikely. In high possibility, it is based on Vega architecture. RX-490 is a high-end entry in AMD’s Radeon lineup, and Vega GPU family is built to feature high-end members – it’s a perfect match. RX-490 will sit in the Vega 10 segment, and according to previous reports, Vega 10 will feature 4096 Stream Processors, 64 Compute Units, 16GB HBM2 and 512 GB/s memory bandwidth.

AMD’s Polaris GPU lineup features only entry-level and mid-range GPUs; the high-end segment is still unoccupied. First Vega-based GPU is confirmed to release sometime in the first half of 2017, and in all likelihood, it will release in the first quarter.

Overwatch has received Competitive Play for PC today, and it is due to come out for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 next week

Since it came out, Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI)’s Overwatch has become a phenomenon for gamers all around the world. Overwatch’s competitive play feature has been in the making for a while. Today, it finally released the PC version, and might mark the release of competitive on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next week.

The delayed in release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions has mainly been due to the approval process that the patches have to go through by developers from both Sony and Microsoft respectively. Due to the timing of the patch, Blizzard admits that the first season of competitive will be shorter than usual, lasting only two months instead of three.

“The patch will be going live on PC today, while PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players can expect it sometime next week,” said Blizzard in a blog post. “We don’t have an exact date to share, but we can confirm that the patch is going through approvals right now on both platforms.”

Like many competitive games, you need to reach a certain level in Overwatch before unlocking the feature. For Overwatch, you must have reached level 25 to be able to partake in Competitive Play. This should only take about a few days for regular Overwatch players, during which you can hone your skills and gain experience. You will also receive a skill rating based on your performance which will determine what level of players you face, just as the case is for most other e-sports.

There are other changes included in Competitive Play. First, Control Maps will consist of best of fives, instead of the typical best of three format. On Escort and Assault maps, you will have to play one round of attacking or defending team each. Points will be handed out for accomplishments such as reaching checkpoints and completing objectives. Once two rounds are complete, the team with the most points will win.

Blizzard is also getting rid of the “avoid player” feature, as it was being wrongfully used by players to avoid skilled players in matchmaking. The game is expected to further Blizzard’s push into uncharted territory via MMOs even after its Free to Play (F2P) Heroes of the Storm, despite having decent successes initially failed to rise to the level of Valve’s Dota 2 and Riot Games’ League of Legends. Overwatch, despite being a paid entity, does have the liberty of being more than simply the flavor of the month with a very active user base divided across various platforms. This allows Blizzard to monetize the game via micro transactions as well as via the initial purchase of a game copy by users.

Adding a competitive mode would be a crucial aspect of Activision Blizzard’s plan to push Overwatch as a powerful contender even as the world of Esports continues growing over time. Blizzard is already moving firmly against cheaters, a pattern which is expected to only intensify over time as it moves toward bringing in higher-stake competitive games in the coming months.

Tesla took less than two years to complete stage 1 of the Gigafactory construction where Tesla Energy batteries are being built

Ahead of the Gigafactory site announcement, the Gigafactory had started breaking ground at Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Nevada in July, 2014, while Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) was nearing a deal with Panasonic Corporation. Although it would still take at least four years to be fully-built, the auto maker has been rapidly building the world’s second-largest production facility.

The $5 billion battery plant, which will likely produce more lithium-ion batteries than all other batteries in the world combined, is expected to have total operational space of roughly 13 billion square feet upon completion. Up till now, Tesla has completed the first phase of the facility along with its partner, having a footprint of 800,000 square feet and total space of 1.9 million square feet. The Gigafactory will likely be inaugurated in the coming months. Most of the projects within the Gigafactory have been far ahead of their schedule. Let’s take a look at the time lapse of the Tesla Gigafactory through March 2016:

July ’14 – September ’14: retention basin and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Pond (SWPP) site, retention pounds, and construction of temporary job-site trailers.

October ’14 – December ’14: temporary power project completion, commercial coaches’ installation, temporary construction trailers building, first phase of structural steel erection constructions, and foundation work.

January ’15 – April ’15: 1,600-square-foot shell building, mass grading, installation of a 1.5 million gallon welded steel water tank, modification of the Gigafactory’s initial steel structure, its switchyard concrete for its main substation, and concrete flatwork projection on the site.

May ’15 – July ’15: completion of switchyard structural steel work, fireproofing on the steel structure/factory floors, electrical build-out of a switchyard, under-slab plumbing, mechanical piping work, temporary construction work related to power and light, mezzanine steel and concrete work

August ’15 – December ’15: architectural interiors, siphonic drains, electrical infrastructure, a fire command center, guard shack, first phases of the roofing and civil hardscapes, data centers, and Tesla Energy production.

January ’16 – March ’16: architectural interiors completion, roofing completion, Tesla Energy production ramp-up, Nevadan lawmakers’ visit, and stage 1 completion.

Tesla is expected to start the Gigafactory’s first cell production by the end of this year. It will be the world’s largest lithium-ion cell produced by 2020, with a capacity of 50GWh per year of battery packs and 35GWh per year of cells. Both the battery packs and cells will be the most-advanced technologies in the world. Combined together, they would help Tesla produce the Model 3.

At the Model 3 event, Elon Musk said: “In order to produce half a million cars a year, we would actually need the same battery production, we basically need to absorb the entire world’s lithium-ion production. That is why we are building the Gigafactory.”