Steve Jobs biopic falls far short of opening weekend success of the iPhone 5

19 Aug 2013

The highly anticipated Steve Jobs biopic has had a somewhat disastrous week, failing to achieve the box office success it expected, taking just $6.7m after being played in 2,381 locations.

The figure was revealed by Cinema news website Box Office Mojo, which also gave the movie a middling B-rating for its "deification of Steve Jobs".

The sentiment was mirrored by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who made a similar criticism, arguing that Ashton Kutcher was overly kind in his portrayal of Jobs, in a public review he posted on Gizmodo.

"I saw the movie tonight. I thought the acting throughout was good. I was attentive and entertained but not greatly enough to recommend the movie. One friend who is in the movie said he didn't want to watch fiction so he wasn't interested in seeing it. I suspect a lot of what was wrong with the film came from Ashton's own image of Jobs," he said.

"I felt bad for many people I know well who were portrayed wrongly in their interactions with Jobs and the company. The movie ends pretty much where the great Jobs finally found product success (the iPod) and changed so many of our lives. I'm grateful to Steve for his excellence in the i-era, and his contribution to my own life of enjoying great products, but this movie portrays him having had those skills in earlier times."

With this in mind, it's unsurprising that the film failed to meet its $8m to $9m opening week sales projections and did not match the performance of Jobs' creations such as the iPhone 5, which broke the five-million sales mark in its opening weekend. Still, considering how interesting Jobs was and what great insights the original 2011 biography book by Walter Isaacson gave into his life, this still feels like a missed opportunity for cinema gold.

Here's hoping we get a better look at Jobs the second time round when the Wozniak-approved biopic comes out later this year.

Written by V3's Alastair Stevenson

China said to be mulling lift on game console ban

12 Jul 2013

china-flag-webFor more than a decade, one of the largest untapped electronics markets in the world has been sealed off from game console developers.

Now, however, China could be opening itself up to console vendors, bringing a massive new crowd of potential customers. A government plan would allow for a limited lift of a ban that had forbidden console sales.

According to a report form the South China Morning Post, authorities would allow for sales of consoles within the Shanghai free trade zone. Vendors who would meet with country's “cultural” standard requirements would be allowed to sell consoles within the limited zone.

The move comes at a particularly advantageous time for hardware vendors. With a new generation of expensive consoles on the way from both Sony and Microsoft, expanding into China can help boost what is already expected to be higher margins on more expensive consoles.

The opening of the Chinese market could also help to boost what vendors hope will be a growing usage case for the consoles. Microsoft has already expressed hope that its Xbox One will be able to leverage its video-conferencing features to serve as a unified communications device in the enterprise sector.

Between the prospect of a move into China and the possibility of an expansion into the business market, the new-gen consoles could see a much smoother and more successful launch than their predecessors.

Apple chief Tim Cook fetches big bucks in charity auction

26 Apr 2013

Apple chief executive Tim Cook

CharityBuzz is offering bidders the chance to have a cup of coffee with Apple chief executive Tim Cook. Bids are currently at $210,000 for the once and a lifetime chance to drink coffee with the guy who introduced the iPhone 5.

So far, 58 bidders have jumped on the chance to spend quality time with Cook. Those interested in the having a cup of Joe with Cook have until 14 May to make their dreams come true.

For those bidders who may try to milk their time with Cook, be warned that the coffee chat will last no longer than an hour. According to the auctions terms, Cook will not have coffee with anymore than two people and the winning bidder must supply their own travel to Apple HQ.

The auction brings up an obvious question. What would you talk about with the leader of Apple? Would you ask him about Steve Jobs? Whether the iWatch is for real? Can you have tea instead of coffee? There are just so many topics to cover and so little time.

No matter what the winning bidder talks about, the winning funds go to a good cause. All proceeds from the auction will go to the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. The group works to increase human rights around the globe.

Hopefully, Tim Cook's charitable nature extends to other past and present Apple executives. V3 looks forward to the day when former Apple chief executive John Sculley offers charitable souls the chance to spend a weekend with him.

Sculley is well renowned for firing Steve Jobs and selling sugar water. Perhaps Sculley could offer someone the chance to hang out for a total of two days in his derelict mansion.

For those unaware, Sculley's mansion is known as a design oddity that puts aesthetics over functionality. Architecture Digest called Sculley's mansion, "the architectural equivalent of the Apple III" and "the worst piece of design they have ever seen".

During your stay with Sculley you could be delighted with stories of the Newton PDA, Macintosh Portable, and what it's like to yell at Steve Jobs.

Michael Dell faces uphill battle in bid to go private

10 Apr 2013

Dell headquarters at Round Rock Texas

The road to privatisation was never going to be an easy one. Michael Dell was going to face a slew of investors wanting top dollar for an under ,,performing company, even if he didn't have other bidders.

Dell intended to pay $24bn for the company he's run since day one. That price just got raised by two other investors with deeper pockets. Blackstone and Carl Ichan have the potential to offer better packages for investors by way of a public equity stub, a way to keep them invested while being a private company.

Following the offers, Michael Dell and his investment group will most likely have to up their bid for Dell. They'll also need to offer a stub, which is something they don't want to do.

Nothing quite worked out like it was suppose to. Dell investors were suppose to take their measly $24bn, so Michael Dell could ride off into the sunset and get his company right. That hasn't yet happened.

Instead, the infighting and business politics have won out. Investors want to get paid and don't care about Dell's future strategies. Yet, despite not caring some investors still want a piece of Dell's future.

One theory is that Dell won't be private forever. Once Dell gets its business in order it's possible that the firm will reopen to Wall Street. Current investors know this and they don't want to be left out in the cold when it happens.

They want to hitch their dollars to the private Dell and let things shake out as they may. They could do it with Michael Dell, Carl Ichan, or Blackstone. It doesn't really matter to investors who has the company, just that they have a piece of the action.

It's the type of motivation that Michael Dell was hoping to avoid by going private. Dell had hoped to get his company doing things that were good for the company. He wanted a brief reprieve from quarterly progress reports so he could allow his company to play the long game.

Unfortunately, for Dell that seems unlikely. With the stub that's expected to be included in any deal for the company, a truly private Dell seems out of reach.

Dell was aiming to go private and turn itself into an enterprise solutions powerhouse. The company knows their options in the PC market are inconsequential and it wanted to get prepped for the future by removing quarter-obsessed investors.

Now, instead of a private Dell, the company will have to answer to some sort of investor. Whether a private or public one.

Removable smartphone batteries could be making a comeback

26 Mar 2013

Solwise Net 3G A10 battery

In a recent teardown report iFixit praised BlackBerry's z10 for having a removable battery. BlackBerry's decision went against many competitors choice to bake in a battery into their smartphones.

The Apples and HTCs of the world don't offer consumers the option to remove their smartphone's battery. Apple's iPhones ditched the effort from the outset, while HTC recently made the decision to ditch the removable battery in its latest flagship the One handsets.

In part, the decision to move away from removable batteries was made to slim down devices and lower the need for battery doors which can break. The added benefit for companies is also that when a battery dies a consumer will just buy a new phone.

However, the move should bother many smartphone power users. If you are the type of person that streams video and constantly stares at their smartphone than even the Galaxy Note 2's massive (removable) battery is not enough.

The need for a removable battery also becomes much more important when you start to consider the massive screens taking over the smartphone landscape. As phone screens begin to surpass the 5in mark they require a major power supply.

One OEM to realise massive screens could really use a removable battery is Samsung. The original phablet maker has opted to put swappable batteries into its flagship phones. BlackBerry is following the Note maker by offering the z10 with the same feature.

While BlackBerry's z10 screen is not a giant, the smartphone still offers consumers the option to swap batteries. The business-focused handset maker made the smart move and realised a replaceable battery is something their customers would want in a smartphone.

The death of removable batteries may be on its way but the option is still something users are interested in. At the end of the day many phone makers may eschew the removable battery but hopefully some brands will hold out.

In the next couple of years hopefully more companies join BlackBerry and Samsung and by creating phones with removable batteries. It may not be an option everyone uses, but for power users and phablet owners out their swappable batteries are still appealing.

Reports show changing nature of PC market

13 Mar 2013


ASUS Transformer AiOA pair of reports released this week indicate that we are in the midst of a radical shift in the way vendors design and target their platforms, indicating a move away from conventional design strategies.

According to figures from IDC, tablets are getting smaller as users have expressed a preference for sub-8in form factors. Citing a usage model that focuses on portability and does not require a large screen, researchers see the small-screen tablet space selling strong with consumers.

It's no secret that the growth in tablets has come at the expense of the larger PC market. With customers more interested in buying tablets than notebooks or desktop, vendors have recorded a drop in traditional PC sales.

But in addition to cutting sales, analysts also see tablets helping to change the way PC vendors design and build their systems. Research firm IHS noted that on average, PC makers are putting less DRAM in their systems than they have in years past.

This could indicate a drop in the hardware demands and cloud computing and web-based applications shift the having lifting from the client to the server side.

The primary driver of that model, again, is the tablet. Users with access to mobile networks and preference for portability have shifted the balance between lightweight designs and performance, making the later less of a concern in large part.

While the reports offer just a small fraction of the overall picture, they seem to point towards a larger trend in which portability and efficiency are paramount and the raw horsepower gains which have driven system design in recent years are taking the back seat.

Star Wars Death Star gets Kickstarter campaign

06 Feb 2013

A Kickstarter has been created to build an open source Death Star.

The campaign comes following the US government's refusal to build a Death Star despite calls by the public to do so. The campaign's creators are looking to raise £20,000,000 over the next 54 days to build their Death Star.

Donors who donate more than £10 will also get a droid named after them.

"In November 2012 the people asked for a Death Star. The government said no. In light of continuing threats we should build it ourselves," wrote the campaigns creators on the projects Kickstarter page.

Last month, the tax-paying US public demanded the Obama administration build a Death Star. But the administration declined the idea citing the excessive expense involved in building a destroyer of planets.

However, Joe public is not so easily dissuaded. Following the rejection a Kickstarter was started to build an open source Death Star. Open Source, obviously, may be a bad idea as the blue prints for a Death Star can never land in the hands of the rebels.

The campaign currently has the modest goal of £20,000,000. However, the Kickstarter's stretch goal is for £543,000,000,000,000,000. A goal even the campaign's backers say they will not reach.

"The main challenge is assuring Kickstarter that this is a joke and not a serious project. As proof, the goal has been set high enough to make successful funding almost impossible," said the campaigners on the their Kickstarter page.

CES: The show in pictures

09 Jan 2013

Another year, another CES conference in Las Vegas. This year's show drew upwards of 150,000 people to check out the latest and greatest in gadgets for the home, office and auto. Here are a few choice shots from V3 staff.

CES 2013 crowds

Crowds have become one of CES's trademarks. This photo was taken during a relatively quiet period: you can still see the carpet. Samsung was particularly popular at the show. It did not hurt matters that the company's stand was roughly the size of a small village

CES Samsung Crowds

The star of the keynote address was the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip. The company hopes that the processor will revolutionise tablet gaming and then proceed to usher in a new class of high-powered tablet PCs.

Snapdragon 800 series

Nearly ever major vendor had a 4K television set to exhibit. The ultra-HD screens offer a resolution with four times as many pixels as 1080p sets

Konika 4k HDTV

The most impressive 4k screen was from Panasonic. The company was able to place their screen atop a Windows 8 PC, creating a 20in tablet which was surprisingly lightweight and perfect for creative professionals and designers.

Panasonic 4K tablet

Sharp one-upped its competitors by unveiling a breathtaking 80in 8k set. The company had to source in specially-shot footage just to showcase the full abilities of the set.

Sharp 8k OLED TV

Other vendors were a bit more creative with their CES exhibits. Our colleagues at The Inquirer spotted a rather creative iPad holder. Not sure you would want to have your touchsreen tablet that close to the "splash zone."

iPad potty at CES

Our favourite exhibit, however, was a dual-picture television from Konka. The screen displays two images simultaneously, and by looking through a pair of special filters, viewers can watch two different movies at once.

Dual image TV

Dual TV with filter

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