FILE PHOTO: The Samsung Galaxy Fold phone is shown on a screen at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Unpacked event in San Francisco, California, U.S., Feb. 20, 2019 REUTERS/Stephen Nellis/File Photo
April 22, 2019
SEOUL (Reuters) – Smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has postponed media events for its Galaxy Fold planned for this week in Hong Kong and Shanghai, a company official said, days after reviewers of the foldable handset reported defective samples.
The official did not elaborate on reasons or rescheduling.
Instead of plaudits ahead of the phone’s launch on April 26 in the United States, the South Korean conglomerate has been blighted by technology journalists reporting breaks, bulges and blinking screens after using their samples for as little as a day.
Samsung said it received “a few” reports of damage to the displays of samples of the $1,980 handset, raising the specter of the combustible Galaxy Note 7 three years ago which the firm ultimately pulled from shelves at massive cost.
The reviewers’ reports of broken screens went viral online and prompted the creation of hashtag #foldgate on Twitter.
Samsung has hailed the folding design as the future in a field that has seen few surprises since Apple Inc’s iPhone in 2007. Chinese rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has also announced a folding handset, the Mate X.
The Samsung official on Monday said it had no change to its previously announced release date in the United States.
It plans to begin South Korean and European sales in May, and Chinese sales from an undisclosed date.
(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
The logo of Toyota is seen on a car during the Prague Autoshow in Prague, Czech Republic, April 13, 2019. REUTERS/David W Cerny
April 21, 2019
By Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING (Reuters) – Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp said on Sunday it was setting up a research institute in Beijing in partnership with Tsinghua University to study car technology using hydrogen power and other green technologies that could ease environmental problems in China.
The initiative, outlined by Toyota’s President and Chief Executive Akio Toyoda in a speech at Tsinghua University, is part of the Japanese carmaker’s efforts to share more technology with China as it seeks to expand its business in the country by beefing up manufacturing capacity and distribution channels, a source close to Toyota said.
The Tsinghua-Toyota Joint Research Institute will conduct research into cars and new technology to solve environmental problems in China, including reducing traffic accidents, Toyota said in a statement.
The institute will “cooperate in research not only related to cars for Chinese consumers, but also in research related to active utilization of hydrogen energy that can help solve China’s energy problems,” the company said.
The move dovetails with Toyota’s announcement this month that it would offer carmakers and suppliers around the world free access to nearly 24,000 patents for electric vehicle technologies.
Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi told Reuters earlier this month that the automaker intended to become a tier 2 supplier of hybrid systems and that it had already received enquiries from more than 50 companies.
(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; Editing by Susan Fenton)
FILE PHOTO – A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft sits on launch pad 39A prior to the uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
April 21, 2019
(Reuters) – Elon Musk’s SpaceX suffered an anomaly in one of its Crew Dragon capsules while conducting engine tests at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Saturday, the company said.
“The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand,” the company said in a statement.
The issue was earlier reported by Florida Today, which said orange smoke was seen rising above SpaceX’s facilities, and that the anomaly was contained with no injuries.
SpaceX said its teams are investigating and are working closely with U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) partners.
“NASA has been notified about the results of the SpaceX Static Fire Test and the anomaly that occurred during the final test,” its administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a tweet https://twitter.com/JimBridenstine/status/1119754804258062337.
“This is why we test. We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our Commercial Crew Program,” he added.
NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co a total of $6.8 billion to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil.
In March, the privately owned SpaceX successfully completed its mission of sending an unmanned capsule to the International Space Station and returned safely to Earth, a mission seen as crucial to NASA’s plans to resume human space flight from U.S. soil.
SpaceX’s first crewed test flight is slated to launch in July with U.S. astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
People play online games at an internet cafe in Fuyang, Anhui province, China August 20, 2018. Picture taken August 20, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
April 20, 2019
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s press and publication regulator has issued new rules on applications for publishing online games in China, signaling a possible acceleration in the handing out of formal approvals.
China stopped granting licenses to monetize online games in March 2018, hurting the industry and developers such as Tencent Holdings Ltd and NetEase Inc. It started up approvals again in December, only to ask local governments to pause on submitting applications in February.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television released the new rules late on Friday.
Under the guidelines, games will undergo content vetting and the number of games allowed on to the market will be controlled.
Gaming market research and consulting firm Niko said the administration had explained the new rules to industry insiders earlier in the month, saying it was grinding through a backlog of applications submitted last year.
Chinese gaming publishers were being encouraged to develop titles with China’s “core social values” in mind, including games that promote traditional culture, Niko said.
Niko said the administration would take new submissions from Monday, April 22, under the new application process.
“With a new more transparent approval process set to go live soon, we have a positive outlook for China’s digital games market in 2019,” it said.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch and Li Pei; Editing by Nick Macfie)
CEO of Russian National Payment Card System (NSPK) Vladimir Komlev attends an interview with Reuters in NSPK office in Moscow, Russia March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
April 19, 2019
By Tatiana Voronova and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
MOSCOW (Reuters) – After Western sanctions gutted Russia’s financial system five years ago, a new bank card began appearing in the wallets of many Russians.
Now the country is hoping to introduce its cards, known as Mir cards, to foreign markets where Russian nationals live and travel, Vladimir Komlev, the head of Russia’s National Card Payment System (NSPK), told Reuters in an interview.
“In the next three years we want Mir cards to be operational in countries where Russians are used to traveling,” Komlev said. “It’s the hardest task in terms of returns on investment.”
Russia created its own card payment system in 2014 because it feared U.S. and European sanctions against some Russian banks and businesspeople over the annexation of Crimea could block transactions made with U.S.-based Mastercard and Visa.
NSPK said Turkey’s Isbank had started accepting Mir cards as of Thursday. Russians made 5.7 million trips to Turkey last year, according to state statistics agency Rosstat.
Komlev projected Mir cards would be operational at some banks in 12 foreign countries by the end of the year. He would not, however, disclose which countries those might be.
NSPK is not subject to Western sanctions, but some foreign companies are wary of doing business with Russian firms in case further restrictions are put in place.
EXPANDING AT HOME
More than 56 million Mir cards have been issued and they currently make up more than 20 percent of Russia’s bank card market, Komlev said.
Mir means “World” or “Peace” in Russian.
NSPK, which was created by the central bank, has received a boost from legislation obliging civil servants to receive their salaries on Mir cards. It aims for Mir cards’ share of the market to reach 30 percent over the next couple of years.
Starting next year, pension payments, as well as child and unemployment benefits, will only be paid on the cards.
These measures have made Mir a rival to Mastercard and Visa in Russia. But its shortcomings – its incompatibility with many international shopping platforms and its limited use outside Russia – have prompted Russian officials to call for more support to help it to take on U.S. competitors.
“At this time, it’s difficult for Mir to compete with Visa and Mastercard,” Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, said this month. “We need to develop its functionality, its social orientation.”
Mastercard, which operates a co-branded card with Mir, said it “supported the development of the payment industry and fair competition.” Visa did not reply to a request for comment.
Mir has develop its own “Mir Pay” smartphone application and is available on Samsung Pay. Komlev said NSPK had not reached an agreement with Apple to make Mir cards available on its mobile payment platform.
Komlev said another of NSPK’s priorities was to get major international online booking services for airline tickets and accommodation to accept Mir cards.
“Business and geopolitics have mixed here, so it’s not as easy to implement as we would like,” he said.
(Reporting by Tatiana Voronova and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Additional reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Mark Potter)
FILE PHOTO – The Nintendo booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2017. REUTERS/ Mike Blake
April 19, 2019
By Sam Nussey
TOKYO (Reuters) – Nintendo Co Ltd shares jumped 17 percent in morning Tokyo trade on Friday, a day after China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd won a key approval to begin selling Nintendo’s Switch console in the world’s largest video games market.
That is the biggest percentage gain since July 2016, when enthusiasm for Nintendo-backed smartphone game Pokemon Go sent the stock rocketing. Friday’s jump sent the shares to their highest price since October and pushed the year-to-date gain to 32 percent.
Nintendo’s U.S.-listed shares rose 12 percent overnight after the Chinese province of Guangdong allowed Tencent to distribute the Switch console with a test version of the “New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe” game.
It remains unknown when the console may go on sale in China, with games needing to clear a separate approval process.
Gaming industry leader Tencent is trying to recover from a lengthy game approval freeze in China last year. The firm is listed in Hong Kong, where financial markets are closed on Friday for a public holiday.
The freeze resulted in a backlog which “means it is uncertain whether a strong line-up of launch titles can coincide with the hardware launch,” said market analyst Gu Tianyi at gaming industry analytics firm Newzoo.
Tencent is likely to release its own popular titles such as Honor of Kings on the Switch in China, he said. The international version of the game, Arena of Valor, is available overseas on the Switch.
With China dominated by PC and mobile gaming, analysts hope the news may lead to Tencent and Nintendo teaming up in mobile, where Nintendo has been expanding its range of partnerships.
The Kyoto-based games maker has previously been hampered by Chinese regulations and the search for a partner in its efforts to bring the hybrid home-portable Switch console to China, holding back the development of console gaming there.
Nintendo shares sold off toward the end of last year over concerns about weakness in its Switch games pipeline. Media reports saying Nintendo will launch a low-price Switch version have helped bolster sentiment in recent weeks.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Additional reporting by Pei Li; Editing by Paul Tait and Christopher Cushing)
FILE PHOTO: Bitcoin.com buttons are seen displayed on the floor of the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City, New York, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
April 18, 2019
By Tom Wilson
LONDON (Reuters) – Major finance and tech firms are pouring money into startups building technology to develop the crypto market, even though they’re steering clear of the volatile currencies themselves.
Venture capital investments in crypto and blockchain startups that included funds from corporates have raced to $850 million so far this year, data compiled by PitchBook for Reuters shows. The 13 deals put the flows on track for a second straight annual record.
Such bets, by companies including London Stock Exchange Group and Microsoft Corp, spiked over five-fold to a record $2.4 billion over 117 investments in 2018. This suggests large companies see promise in the nascent technology, even as it struggles for acceptance.
They have mostly given digital coins, including bitcoin, a wide berth, avoiding direct investment because of worries over tightening regulation, frequent security lapses and high volatility.
The lack of mainstream embrace has sown serious doubts over the potential of cryptocurrencies to evolve from speculative tokens to means of payment capable of rivaling fiat money.
Bitcoin slumped by three-quarters last year after nearing a record of $20,000 in its frenzied 2017 bubble. It’s still prone to wild price moves, underscored by a recent 20 percent jump that caused puzzlement among traders and analysts.
And though blockchain has found some use in sectors such as trade finance, its application has been relatively narrow.
Firms are looking at how, and if, blockchain and related technologies can be used in ways that could spark deeper change, said Richard Hay, UK head of fintech at law firm Linklaters.
“There are two dynamics at play,” he said. “We can get something up and running and achieve cost savings, and also look longer term at ways of deploying the technology in more transformative ways.”
Recent examples include a $20 million investment involving the London Stock Exchange and Banco Santander in a London startup whose platform can be used to issue debt on blockchain, the technology that underpins most digital coins. Graphic: Corporate bets on crypto and blockchain soar png, click https://tmsnrt.rs/2XcNzmw
The investments span startups from makers of cryptocurrency mining gear and exchanges, the PitchBook data to April 8 shows.
One key driver is a growing expectation that the “tokenisation” of assets from stocks to oil – essentially digitizing them and allowing them to be traded on blockchain – will upend markets, lawyers and consultants working with fintech firms said.
“People are really enamored by tokenisation – the ability to produce coins or other forms of value – so that’s where we see all of the action at the moment,” said Anton Ruddenklau, global co-head of fintech at KPMG.
“They are investing as a technological hedge as much as anything.”
Bets involving corporate venture capital are usually small, the data shows. Deals this year had a median value of $6.5 million, a notch below the $8 million of last year.
Others are much bigger.
Bakkt, a cryptocurrency trading platform founded last year by New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc, raised in December over $180 million from investors including M12, Microsoft’s venture capital arm.
The rush of corporate venture money comes as traditional venture capital (VC) investments also pour into the sector. Last year 617 deals totaled a record $5.6 billion worldwide, the data shows, as venture capitalists assess how the technologies will impact the online economy.
“There is a huge experimentation in effectively the basic plumbing for a native economic layer to the web,” said Jamie Burke, CEO of Outlier Ventures, a fund that has led investment in around eight blockchain-related projects.
But with that experimentation has come examples of failure.
In December, cryptocurrency project Basis said it would shut down and return funds to its backers including Google owner Alphabet’s venture arm GV and Bain Capital Ventures because of concerns over regulation.
Cryptocurrency miners and exchanges make up the four biggest VC-backed firms by valuation, according to the PitchBook data.
Some have struggled amid the slump in bitcoin prices. The $12 billion-valued Bitmain Technologies, for example, last month shelved a planned initial public offering in Hong Kong.
Others have fared better. San Francisco-based exchange Coinbase, valued at $8 billion, saw non-U.S. revenue grow 20 percent last year to 153 million euros ($173 million), a filing to Britain’s corporate registry last week showed.
The exchange’s UK arm, which books the firm’s non-U.S. revenue, accounts for almost a third of the firm’s overall revenue, said Coinbase UK chief executive Zeeshan Feroz.
That suggests, according to Reuters calculations, worldwide revenue of around $520 million last year – a rare glimpse into the financial health of a cryptocurrency exchange.
Coinbase declined to comment.
(Editing by Anna Willard)
FILE PHOTO: A person holds a smartphone with the Facebook logo in front of displayed “top secret” and “email” words, in this picture illustration taken December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
April 18, 2019
(Reuters) – Facebook Inc said it “unintentionally uploaded” the email contacts of 1.5 million new users since May 2016, Business Insider reported on Wednesday.
The social media company harvested email contacts of the users without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts, the report said.
Facebook told Business Insider that it did not mean to upload these contacts, and is now in the process of deleting them.
Facebook did not respond to Reuters request for comment outside regular business hours.
(Reporting by Ishita Chigilli Palli in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
FILE PHOTO: The Samsung Galaxy Fold phone is shown on a screen at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Unpacked event in San Francisco, California, U.S., February 20, 2019 REUTERS/Stephen Nellis/File Photo
April 18, 2019
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Samsung’s new Galaxy Fold, a splashy $1,980 phone that opens into a tablet, is malfunctioning for some journalist reviewers after only a day or two of use, according to posts on social media on Wednesday.
The problem seems to be related to the unit’s screen either cracking or flickering, according to Twitter posts by technology journalists from Bloomberg, The Verge and CNBC who received the phone this week for review purposes. The Galaxy Fold officially goes on sale on April 26 in the United States.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd did not respond to several requests for comment.
The South Korean company’s Galaxy Fold resembles a conventional smartphone but opens like a book to reveal a second display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm).
Although Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X foldable phones are not expected to be big sellers, the new designs were hailed as framing the future of smartphones this year in a field that has seen few surprises since Apple Inc introduced the screen slab iPhone in 2007.
The problems with the new phone drew comparisons to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phone in 2016. Battery and design flaws in the Note 7 led to some units catching fire or exploding, forcing Samsung to recall and cancel sales of the phone. The recall wiped out nearly all of the profits in Samsung’s mobile division in the third quarter of 2016.
Reviewers of the new Galaxy Fold said they did not know what the problem was and Samsung did not provide answers.
Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman tweeted: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”
According to Gurman’s tweets, he removed a plastic layer on the screen that was not meant to be removed and the phone malfunctioned afterwards.
Dieter Bohn, executive editor of The Verge, said that a “small bulge” appeared on the crease of the phone screen, which appeared to be something pressing from underneath the screen. Bohn said Samsung replaced his test phone but did not offer a reason for the problem.
“It is very troubling,” Bohn told Reuters, adding that he did not remove the plastic screen cover.
Steve Kovach, tech editor at CNBC.com tweeted a video of half of his phone’s screen flickering after using it for just a day.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Kenneth Li and Leslie Adler)
FILE PHOTO: A woman dressed as Marie Antoinette from the video game “Assassin’s Creed: Unity” promotes the game in the Ubisoft booth at the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3, in Los Angeles, California June 10, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian/File Photo
April 17, 2019
By Gwénaëlle Barzic
PARIS (Reuters) – French video game developer Ubisoft said on Wednesday it will offer free access to its “Assassin’s Creed” game, which allows players to roam in a meticulously reconstituted Notre-Dame Cathedral during the French revolution.
The fire that devastated the nine-century old monument on Monday has raised a wave of enthusiasm in France and abroad, pushing people to donate for its reconstruction and pushing Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” novel up the top-selling book charts.
“We stand in solidarity with our fellow Parisians and everyone around the world moved by the devastation the fire caused,” Ubisoft said on its website. “We want to give everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre-Dame the best way we know how,” it added.
During one week, the company will let players download for free the “Unity” version of its game that was released in 2014. The game is set in 1789 Paris and players are part of a secret society of hit men roaming the city chasing victims from a rival group.
The version includes a digital 3-D version of the Notre-Dame cathedral elaborated with real plans, historical documents and pictures of statues and old stones.
The reproduction required 5,000 hours of work and included the reconstitution of 140 stained glasses.
Players can climb on the cathedral’s arches and gargoyles and admire a reconstitution of Paris’s 18th-century skyline. There is, however, a small anachronism: the cathedral includes its spire, which was added only in the mid-19th century.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Dan Grebler)