Should Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp. manage to purchase a controlling stake in its smaller rival Sanyo Electric, Panasonic, who is already the world's largest plasma TV maker, could become Japan's biggest electronics firm as well. For that to happen, the company would have to come to an agreement with Goldman Sachs, Daiwa Securities SMBC, and Sumitomo Misui Banking Corp, all of whom are major shareholders in Sanyo.
The acquisition would put Panasonic ahead of the pack in the global market for rechargeable batteries, a market that is expected to see significant growth amid increased sales in portable electronics and hybrid vehicles.
"This appears to be the kind of deal where you add one and one and get three, instead of two," said Masayoshi Okamoto, head of trading at Jujiya Securities. "Their battery operations would truly be world-class."
Sanyo is currently the world's largest supplier of lithium-ion batteries, ahead of both Sony and Panasonic. The company can also boast being the seventh largest solar cell producer world-wide, another increasingly popular market sector that would benefit Panasonic should the acquisition come to fruition.
Netbook manufacturers like Asus, MSI, Acer, and all the rest aren't the only ones benefiting from the recent craze in low power, ultraportable notebooks. Underneath the vast majority of netbooks and low-cost desktops sits an Intel Atom processor, demand for which has contributed to record growth in the processor market in Q3 2008.
According to a new report by the IDC, overall CPU shipments for PCs and servers jumped nearly 16 percent in the third quarter compared to one year ago, just over half of which is directly attributable to Intel Atom processor shipments. Without the demand for Intel's Atom processor, IDC says the market would have only grown 7.5 percent.
Whether or not the numbers present a wake-up call to AMD remains to be seen. Intel's rival chip maker has previously stated it would take a wait-and-see approach to the low-cost netbook market, saying "we are watching that segment rather than playing in it, but as it matures we'll see where it goes." But AMD might not want to wait too long. Helped in part by demand for the Atom processor, Intel increased its market share in processor vendor shares by 1.1 percent earning 80.8 percent of the market, while AMD finished with 18.5 percent, representing a loss of 1.2 percent.
Hit the jump and tell us if you think AMD should be paying more attention to the netbook market, or continuing to focus on being competitive on the desktop front.
Tech news site Engadget got the early scoop on a new Dell 23-inch LCD monitor courtesy of an anonymous tip, one in which our neighbors to the north can already purchase. Available for $419 on Dell's Canadian portal, the SP2309W widescreen display packs a pretty impressive spec sheet.
Dell's billing the monitor as an out of the box "video conferencing solution with excellent functionality and convenience," and towards that end the 23-inch LCD comes with an integrated 2.0 megapixel webcam. Other notable specs include a max resolution of 2048 x 1152, a 2ms response time, 1000:1 dynamic image contrast ratio, a 160-degree viewing angle, a 98 percent color gamut, and VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI inputs.
No word yet on when Dell plans to make the display available in the U.S.
As hardware junkies, we have little trouble justifying our desire for netbooks. Microsoft on the other hand, is having a huge problem trying to figure out how to cash in on the craze.According to new research conducted by Bloomberg, Microsoft’s historic stock plunge of over 40 percent this year alone can be tied in part to the success of netbooks. These sub $500 PC’s are by far the fastest growing segment in the computing industry. And unfortunately for Microsoft, many of these devices don’t ship with Windows.
Internally, Microsoft estimates that around 70 percent of netbooks run at least some version of Windows. This is a far cry from the over 90 percent market penetration they enjoy in the notebook and desktop segments. Additionally, since the vast majority of netbooks run older versions of Windows, margins are much thinner. The OEM licensing fee of $40/$50 for Windows XP is a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the $100 or more they expect for Vista. Bridging the revenue gap isn’t as easy as raising the price for XP either. Especially when you consider that it only costs around $5 to deploy a version of Linux. The Microsoft tax is widely debated by netbook manufacturers who are scrambling to keep sticker prices low. As a result, Microsoft has cut projections for Windows growth in Q4 to as little as 2 percent. Earlier in the year they were estimating growth of around 9 to 10 percent.
While Microsoft might suffer in the short term, it appears the long term strategy is to address netbooks with the upcoming release of Windows 7. During PDC last week, Steven Sinofsky showed off a $399 netbook running the new OS.And according to Senior Vice President Jon DeVaan, “People will be pleasantly surprised and excited by how Windows 7 runs on low-cost machines”.The over arching question here is if Linux will gain any long term momentum as a result of its new found market penetration. I guess only time will tell.
So would you rather a faster netbook running Linux, or a slightly slower machine with Windows?
Ever heard the expression,” if you can’t beat them, join them”? It turns out this is an attitude shared by the executives over at Sensis, the advertising and directories arm of Australia’s largest telecommunications company Telstra. Starting in Q1 2009, all of the Sensis business listings will be incorporated into Google’s mapping service. Google will then be implemented to power the native search and mapping functionality on the site. Sensis’s decision has been widely criticized as an admission that could not compete with Google, but I would argue it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Many larger and deeper pocketed rivals have attempted to duplicate Google’s success over the years with arguably little to no lasting success. Yahoo and Live search aside anyone else remember Cuil?
The announcement was made at Google’s headquarters and Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst said the deal would allow them to focus on their yellow pages business listings. Both parties have openly denied that any talks are taking place with regards to a merger, and according to Sensis the deal is only intended as a means to share revenue. Neither party is revealing any specifics as to the terms or financial agreements, but presumably Sensis determined it was the best way to save market share. According to Nielsen NetRatings, Google Maps serves just over 2.5 million Australian visitors, with a mere 1.2 million using the Sensis Wherels service. Even more dramatic are the search numbers with 9.3 million Australians using Google, and only 184,000 users choosing Sensis.
Another search engine bites the dust, can anyone take on Google? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
A small group of Maximum PC readers (and editors) tend to glaze over at the mere mention of the Eee PC. For those of you that fall into this category, I’ll do my best to keep it interesting and you’ll be glad to know, this isn’t an ordinary netbook announcement. The now household name that spawned a generation of inexpensive PC’s have unveiled a new form factor that brings the Eee product line closer to being a desktop solution than ever before. First impressions of the product are obvious, it is clearly intended to appeal to the budget conscious crowd who can’t afford an iMac, or simply don’t care to pay the Apple tax. Asus isn’t the first to take on the iMac, but the Eee brand name, and touch screen interface gives it an interesting advantage over its competitors.
The Eee Top will come in two variations, the ET1602 and the ET1603. Both models feature a 15.6” touch screen display, a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of Ram, and a 160GB Hard Drive. Other less critical features include 802.11n networking as well as a built in card reader and web cam. The two models are almost completely identical with the one exception being the ET1603’s inclusion of the ATI Mobility Radeon HD3450 for graphics. The ET1602 by comparison will only sport Intel integrated. No pricing has yet been announced for either model, and both systems will feature Windows XP Home with a custom touch screen GUI.
So, is this the form factor of Eee PC you were waiting for?
Election Day wasn't the only event to make history on November 4th - the FCC made its own kind of history on Tuesday in approving the development of wireless devices that can use "white space" (the unused broadcast TV spectrum between broadcast TV channels, which ranges from 512MHz to 698 MHz). Unlike the close race between fellow senators for the US Presidency, the FCC decision to open up unused TV spectrum was unanimous, ZDNet's Sean Portnoy reports, despite lobbying against the rule by 50 members of Congress and a variety of recording artists worried about the effects of the decision on their live performances.
The decision (available here in PDF format) balances the hopes of companies like Microsoft and Google to make wireless Internet-enabled devices even more ubiquitous than now with the fears of the theater industry that exploiting white space will interfere with wireless microphones that use the same spectrum, and the concerns of the National Association of Broadcasters that using "white space" will interfere with TV viewing.
To find out how the FCC plans to make everybody happy in wirelessland, join us after the jump.
As it turns out, YouTube’s recent addition of their theater mode will be used for not only longer high-def videos, but full-length feature films as well. One of Hollywood’s biggest (and still unnamed) movie studios could be adding content to the site as early as next month.
Google has been in talks with major film companies for months about launching ad-supported movies on YouTube, and two unnamed executives stated that the deal wouldn’t be sealed immediately, “But it's going to happen. I would say you can expect to see it, if all goes well, sometime within the next 30 to 90 days.”
Currently Hulu is the leader in online hi-def video and YouTube is hoping to take a shot at the throne. Hulu has found an honorable halfway point between ads and content, but it remains unclear that YouTube will be able to replicate that. Google has yet to disclose any specifics, but a spokeswoman commented, “We are in negotiations with a variety of entertainment companies. Our goal is to offer maximum choice for our users, partners, and advertisers.” While blanket statements are fun, they leave much to be desired.
I suppose, with most deals like this one, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
While the solid state drive market might seem like it’s sprawling, Seagate politely disagrees… for now. The world’s largest hard drive maker is planning to get into the SSD game in mid-2009, when there will be more possibilities to make money.
Seagate’s CEO Bill Watkins recently said in an interview, “The problem is you can't make money out of it [mobile flash memory]… I don't need to get into a market I can't make money out of. I can get into that market any time - all I have to do is show up with a product and price it. The problem is, I can't show up with a product that's any better or significantly better than what they're getting now so I have to match their price.” And, according to Watkins both Micron and Samsung (big names in the current SSD industry) are selling at a loss. “To do the product is not a big deal but to make money at it - it's important to us.”
Aside from mentioning Seagate’s will to do well financially in the flash market, some plans were finally outlined by Watkins as to just how they’ll break onto the scene. They plan to do so with a “combo” drive. The Seagate drive will feature both single layer chips and multilayer chips of flash memory. The combination of these two technologies will offset the pros and cons of each, providing both a reliable and reasonably priced drive.
Your eyes are great tools. Currently they’re reading these words on this screen (hi!), and they’re used to watch everything from paint drying to glorious movies. And while the movies are more fun to watch than paint drying, the latter of the two actually provides richer color.
The reason that movies aren’t giving your eyes the rich color that they so desperately crave is because of the range of color produced by current technology. The best digital theaters can only provide 50 percent of the range of color that your eyes can perceive (technical term: the gamut). While traditional film can give 60 percent, its decay makes it less desirable.
But, your eyes are on the verge of feasting on something fresh. New digital cinema projectors based on lasers offer the possibility of providing up to 80 percent of the gamut to your eyes. This is all thanks to a group of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and a firm named Phoebus Vision OptoElectronics Technology.
While the concept of lasers being used as a projection source dates all the way back to the 1960’s, the bulk and expense of lasers made them impractical. Laser light of yesteryear also “speckled,” meaning that it would scatter off any rough surface, creating a shimmering and sparkling pattern. Or, in laymen’s terms, it would create a dull image.
Lasers still have a pretty sizeable cost; currently one of these projectors will cost 20 times as much as a normal digital projector. But, as the cost of lasers continues to drop, so will these prices.