As the memory market can attest, it's become a tough proposition to try and sell computer components for a profit. But it's not just memory; motherboards and videocards have been on the decline since Q3 2008, and according to Henry Lu, VP of products at MSI, the market won't see any further expansion.
It gets even worse. Lu contends that a top four motherboard maker -- Asus, Gigabyte, ECS, or MSI -- will drop out of the market within the next few years due to the inability of the market to support the growth of all four. It may seem inconceivable that one of the industry's stalwarts should ultimately exit stage left, but one only need look back at Abit's recent fall from grace as a grim reminder of how quickly the game can change.
And speaking of Abit, it's because of them and other second-tier mobo makers exiting the market that the big four can scrape by for the next three years, Lu says, but then something has to give. If Lu's prediction comes true, the question is, who will be the one to leave? Ironically, it's MSI who seems poised to fall if looking strictly at motherboard shipments. In 2008, Asus shipped around 21 million mobos, the same amount as ECS. Gigabyte trailed slightly behind at 19 million, and MSI was the least active shipping around 16 million.
Ever since Amazon launched its music store back in September 2007, everyone assumed its discounted prices and DRM free catalog was a result of the music industries dissatisfaction with Apples dominance. With iTunes being the primary management software for the most popular MP3 player on the planet, Amazon knew it would need an edge to stay competitive. The 10 cent per track discount was a nice touch, but techies and audio enthusiasts alike were eager to switch if it meant we could free our music. Most of us assumed the DRM restrictions on iTunes would remain for the forcible future, but now that this has turned out not to be the case what else wasn’t true?
Well, according to unnamed sources cited by CNET, everybody selling downloadable music is also paying the same wholesale price. Though it has never been confirmed, many believe Apple makes but a few pennies per .99 cent download. If this is indeed true, anything else sold below this price might actually be a loss leader. Now with iTunes discounting its back catalog of tracks to a mere .69 cents, and at comparable bit rates, it’s well positioned to steal back business from Amazon. NPD senior industry analyst Russ Crupnick claims the two services don’t impact each other as much as we might think, but at the very least it certainly makes switching from iTunes to a separate web store much less desirable then it used to be.
Now that iTunes has gone DRM free, and has begun to discount its back catalog of tracks, can Amazon still compete?
The runaway train wreck of memory lawsuits started by Rambus may finally be coming to an end. In a U.S. District Court, Judge Sue L. Robinson has ruled that Rambus’s patent suit against Micron Technologies is “unenforceable”. In her ruling she specifically cites “spoliation”, which is defined as the “destruction or alteration of evidence”. Essentially Rambus has been accused of failing to preserve documents that could be admitted as evidence. This news comes as an incredible relief to Micron Technologies, the single largest U.S. manufacturer of memory chips. Though this ruling is specific to the Micron case, if it holds up in the inevitable appeal, several other companies facing Rambus lawsuits such as Nvidia, Samsung, Hitachi, and Hynix may also be spared.
Judge Robinson also voiced her disapproval for Rambus’s aggressive tactics by using lawsuits against competitors. In her ruling she quotes a specific email from September 29th 1999 whereby the author declares the “need to sue a dram company to set an example”. The email also specifically states that they should attempt to publicize the patents and lawsuits to “put all dram/controller companies that use sdram/ddr….on notice.”
Rambus has publically denounced the ruling and according to senior vice president Tom Lavelle, “"We respectfully, but strongly, disagree with this opinion, and at the appropriate juncture plan to appeal." "This opinion is highly inconsistent with the findings of the Court in the Northern District of California which looked at the same conduct and found there was nothing improper with our document retention practices. We are confident in the strength of our position and will continue to vigorously pursue fair compensation for the use of our patented inventions."
If you’re in to RSS feeds to help capture your news, then you’re more than likely already using Google Reader. Alternatives to the popular RSS aggregator exist, but as one of the best cloud based solutions out there it enjoys one of the largest and most robust user bases. Since it appears as though RSS has peaked as a technology, the creative minds at Google are hoping to bring in fresh blood by offering video tutorials to help get new users over the learning curve. These videos attempt to teach everything from the basics, to the more advanced features. They are no doubt hoping this will help push up adoption rate.
Unofficial how to clips have been around on You Tube for awhile now. In fact, last year’s help video challenge spawned a great many of them. This however, is the first official series offered by the company and even covers off some of the newest features that were just added during December’s redesign. As an avid user of Google reader I can defiantly recommend the advanced tutorials. You are almost guaranteed to pick up something you didn’t know. Want to try out Google Reader with some of the Maximum PC RSS feeds? Look no further.
Do you use Google's Reader? If not what is your RSS reader of choice?
Ever since the Windows 7 public beta went live yesterday, Microsoft servers have been buckling under the demand. The much coveted ISO files and CD keys have had somewhat sporadic availability, but as always can be had if you know where to look. Luckily for you, we’ve kicked over every stone to bring you everything you’ll need to get started.
I recommend when surfing through the links that you fire up Internet Explorer, as you will likely run into the same problems I did using Firefox or Chrome. If you manage to use the official beta site in fact, you will require an IE specific ActiveX control to be installed. So if you’re looking for a copy of Windows 7, and are ready to begin, follow along below.
Step #1 – Get Yourself a Beta Key
- The steps were detailed in a blog entry which allows you to access key’s via http://technet.microsoft.com . Simply follow the link and log in using the sign in option in the top right corner. It will ask you for your tech net user name and password, but I was successfully able to do this using my Windows Live ID.
- Next simply copy and paste the following link into your active window
Windows 7 32-Bit Key: https://www.microsoft.com/betaexperience/scripts/gcs.aspx?Product=tn-win7-32-ww&LCID=1033
Windows 7 64-Bit Key: https://www.microsoft.com/betaexperience/scripts/gcs.aspx?Product=tn-win7-64-ww&LCID=1033
- Finally, just copy down the CD key for use during installation.
Step #2 – Download The Beta
- The official download site seems to come and go, but here are some deep links to the file which seem to be working even through the disruption.
Remember to back up your data before giving this a try and it’s probably not best to run this on your primary machine. The beta key’s are supposedly valid until August 2009 and should give you a good preview of what is to come.
Hit the jump and leave your impressions of Windows 7.
G2 Microsystems has pioneered a new technology that will allow devices like headphones, speakers and other WiFi devices to directly communicate with notebooks Intel Centrino 2 chips. The company’s WiFi networking module can be planted inside consumer devices to allow them to connect to Intel My WiFi-enabled computers without the use of access points.
The technology promises to make tasks “such as wireless printing and synchronization between a digital photo frame and your photo archives” less onerous, according to the company’s founder and CEO Geoff Smith.
With the advent of Intel My WiFi Personal Area Networks, made possible by G2 Microsystems, WiFi has sneaked into Bluetooth’s territory.
PC gaming’s anti-piracy measures seem to be proceeding along a path not unlike the one the games they’re sworn to protect once traveled. First, games (and anti-piracy) were merciless and cruel – prone to punishing players whether they succeeded or tattooed the underside of a tire with their pixilated frog’s surprisingly red guts. But now, times are a changin’. Today’s games are nice and gentle, giving players a gentle pat on the shoulder if they fail, and a big ol’ lie cake if they finish the fight.
Ok, enough with the overwrought metaphor.
See, with companies like Valve – and now Relic – in the picture, anti-piracy measures no longer have to punish gamers. As explained by Dawn of War II lead designer Jonny Ebbert:
“We want to give out steady doses of free downloadable content because we believe in rewarding people who buy the game and the reason we don’t like DRM solutions is because they punish the innocent and they have to jump through all these hoops.”
“We don’t want to do that so we’re going with the approach that Valve pioneered to just reward the people who actually bought the game with cool stuff,” he added. “Free downloadable, regularly accessible stuff that enhances the game and then that’s an incentive for the people who didn’t buy the game to buy it. So we’ve got a really bold, robust strategy for that and we’re going to be revealing more details in about a month, but I think players are going to like it.”
A robust open beta? No DRM? Free goodies on a regular basis? We're only nine days into 2009, and Relic may already have snatched the "Best Developer of 2009" award right out of our hearts. Bravo, guys and gals.
A bit of good news for those forced into a Twilight Zone-esque loop of reliving the Fallout 3 main quest’s final, anticlimactic seconds ad nauseam: the game’s upcoming “Broken Steel” DLC pack will remove its game-halting point-of-no-return.
And, as if the opportunity to spend eternity wandering an irradiated hell weren’t enough, Bethesda also intends to sow some growing room into your character’s jammies. Ten levels of growing room, to be exact.
"We plan on raising [the level cap] to level 30 - but it will be a long, hard climb to get there," Bethesda lead DLC producer Jeff Gardiner told Eurogamer.
The apparent increased leveling time should have many players sighing with relief, as ascending mountains of fallen foes to an absolute peak of level 20 wasn’t exactly difficult in a game of Fallout 3’s scale.
However, we have to ask: Why release the Broken Steel content pack – or at least a few of its features -- in March, after the other two content packs, titled “Operation: Anchorage” and “The Pitt,” have already come and gone? After all, many players have characters mired in save points near the game’s currently inescapable ending, while others hit the level cap long ago. Will they now be forced to resist the DLC’s allure until March if they wish to enjoy it to its fullest?
Palm is trying its best to revive its glory days of yore. To this end, the company is planning to launch the multitouch Palm Pre smartphone. It offered the first glimpse of the Palm Pre at the Consumer Electronics Show. The smartphone features an entirely new operating system called Web OS. It has a 3.1-inch, 480 by 320 pixel display that conceals a keyboard.
The Web OS has been designed to literally keep a low profile while a user is at work. For instance, new alerts don’t impede any ongoing activity. Furthermore, there is a separate gesture area below the screen for you to navigate between applications
It lists all your contact, including email and Facebook contacts, in a single list and, more importantly, ensures that there is no redundancy in the list – a person’s name is listed along with all his available contact details.
The phone offers all the generic connectivity features, including 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth. It has in-built GPS as well. The phone will debut during the first half of 2009 on the Sprint Network. The exact release date and its price are still unknown.