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DirecTV Deal Catapults AT&T Into The Top Pay-TV Slot

AT&T’s $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV added 20 million U.S. video subscribers to its subscriber rolls, giving the company a total base of 26 million, plus another 19 million in Latin America, creating a pay-TV behemoth with 45 million customers. This is almost twice as large as the next players (Liberty Global with 24 million video subscribers in 14 countries) and Comcast (22 million video subscribers in the U.S.). This scale will no doubt improve content deal negotiations and have some benefit in reduced churn, Futuresource Consulting believes.

What it may also do is revive all the potential wireless mergers that fell apart in recent years. While Sprint’s 2014 play for T-Mobile failed, Comcast, Verizon and even Dish Network are rumored to be looking at the company. And perhaps Dish Network itself is vulnerable? A merger with DirectTV was rumored for several years but never progressed. Verizon quashed any rumours of a possible takeover of Dish in 2014, but could it be back on the table in light of the AT&T/DirecTV deal? Quite possibly.

Intel, Micron Claim Chip Breakthrough

Intel and Micron Technology have teamed up to develop a new breed of memory chips, dubbed 3D Xpoint, that will process data up to 1,000 times faster than the NAND flash memory chips now used in most mobile devices, while storing 10 times more data than the DRAM chips that are another mainstay of electronics hardware. The companies aren’t revealing many details of 3D Xpoint, but described what they said is a unique way to store data, using vertical columns of circuitry linked by a grid of microscopic wires.

The chips are expected to reach the market in 2016.

Samsung Q2 Disappointing

Samsung reported disappointing Q2 results attributed to weaker than expected Galaxy 6 smartphone sales. Operating profit for the company’s mobile and IT unit was down 37.6 percent year on year, with revenue declining 8.4 percent. Mobile sales make up 98 percent of the division’s total.

The company acknowledged on a conference call that sales of its flagship Galaxy S6 line had been “below expectations,” and the company did not have enough supplies of it premium Galaxy S6 Edge device to meet demand. Samsung said those issues have since been resolved. The company shipped 89 million handsets in the second quarter and told analysts it expects to increase smartphone shipments with new model launches in Q3, and it will make strategic adjustments to its handset pricing.

On the bright side, Samsung’s components business saw operating profits jump 85.2 percent year on year, with revenue up 10 percent.

Intellectual Property Tax Relief Bill Draws Praise

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are praising a draft bill from Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany that would cut corporate taxes on income from intellectual property. The measure, known as the “Innovation Box” bill could be significant for technology parking profits overseas. Bloomberg reported in March that American companies hold $2.1 trillion offshore to avoid U.S. taxes. Just eight tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Google, were responsible for more than a fifth of that amount. Several other countries and the European Union already have tax plans similar to Boustany’s in place.

Profit from intellectual property is currently taxed at 35 percent in the U.S.

According to Politico, the proposal earned nods from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as well as the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Richard Neal. Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, co-chairs of the Senate’s working group on international tax reform, also hailed it as a way for companies to keep money and jobs in the United States.

Toshiba Scandal Claims 9th Exec

The $1.2 billion accounting scandal at Toshiba claimed the job of a ninth executive and the Japanese company’s interim chief executive was hit with a 90 percent pay cut, a week after half of its 16-member board resigned. Masaaki Oosumi, an executive who was formerly head of Toshiba’s visual products division, is the latest to resign after an independent panel found he had a role in improper accounting practices at the company’s PC and television businesses. The purge leaves Toshiba grappling with big gaps in executive talent, after the departures included the resignations of Hisao Tanaka, former chief executive, and Norio Sasaki, former vice-chairman.

Display Panel Revenues To Fall 2%

Despite a sharp spike in OLED shipments, falling LCD sales, declining PC panel demand, and ongoing price erosion is expected to send global flat-panel display revenue down by 2 percent this year, IHS reported. Total industry revenue is projected to hit $129 billion, down from last year’s $131.4 billion take, the market research firm said.

Only OLED is expected to grow in 2015, with AMOLED display revenue expected to grow 36 percent, to $11.8 billion, and revenues for PMOLED growing and projected 22 percent, to $450 million.

HP: Beware Smart-Watch Security Flaws

Smart watches have significant security flaws, HP found in testing 10 devices. All of them “contain significant vulnerabilities, including insufficient authentication, lack of encryption and privacy concerns,” the company’s HP Fortify security group said. The security issues could enable hackers to get unauthorized access to a smart watch’s stored health data and deliver unauthorized access to connected homes and cars, HP warned.

“Smart watches have only just started to become a part of our lives, but they deliver a new level of functionality that could potentially open the door to new threats to sensitive information and activities,” said Jason Schmitt, general manager of HP Fortify. “As the adoption of smart watches accelerates, the platform will become vastly more attractive to those who would abuse that access, making it critical that we take precautions when transmitting personal data or connecting smart watches into corporate networks.”

Top 10 Apple & Android Apps (as July 30)

Apple (paid)

1. Minecraft: Pocket Edition
2. Heads Up!
3. Goat Simulator
4. Facetune
5. Mods for Minecraft
6. Prune
7. Plague Inc.
8. Afterlight
9. The Game of Life
10. Akinator the Genie

Android (Google Play)

1. Minecraft: Pocket Edition
2. Age of Zombies
3. NBA Jam by EA Sports
4. Tomb Raider
5. Monument Valley
6. Need for Speed
7. Goat Simulator
8. Limbo
9. Duck Tales: Remastered
10. GTA: Chinatown

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