<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Tech News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:27:29 -0800 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:27:29 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Reports Say Google Fiber Coming to Raleigh-Durham]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 10:19:12 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/tlmd_googleempleos.jpg

After spending months debating where it would place its high-speed Internet service Google Fiber, Google apparently has chosen North Carolina, reports said.

Google first started Google Fiber in Kansas City before expanding it into Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah. Last year, Google said it was considering and additional nine metro areas including Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte. The seven other cities were Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; San Antonio, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Jose, California; and Portland, Oregon.

San Jose was apparently ruled out last month when Google said it was still undecided if it wanted to expand in the Silicon Valley.

Google's choice of North Carolina is being announced after a report on WRAL's TechWire, which reported the tech titan was having events in both Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, N.C. this week and is expected to start Google Fiber construction in April, according to unnamed sources. Neither Google nor the cities involved had comments for the press about the report. One Raleigh city official said she could not comment because of a non-disclosure agreement.

It's disappointing that Google didn't choose its home turf to create high-speed Internet and instead chose one of Silicon Valley's rivals.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[China Buys More iPhones Than United States]]> Sun, 25 Jan 2015 22:57:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/100286633-apple-store-logo-outside-morning-gettyp.240x160.jpg

Apple is expected to announce that China bought more iPhones than the United States for the first time last year, according to reports.

Apparently Apple's China sales rose when it partnered with China Mobile, "the country's largest network operator" after the iPhone 6 release in October, the Financial Times reported. Previously, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook said he expected Chinese sales to overshadow U.S sales -- the iPhone itself is more than half of Apple's sales and profits.

Analysts estimate that 36 percent of shipments are sent to China, compared to 24 percent to the United States. Last year, China had only 22 percent.

"It’s already been a good year, building up to the climax of this quarter,” Ben Bajarin, analyst at Creative Strategies, told Financial Times “It leads to a lot more optimism for China . . . Their potential headroom in China is higher than it is here [in the US].”

Apple's way in China has been impeded some by the Chinese government and regulatory processes, but it looks as if it has a rosy future with plenty of growth. But China isn't all about Apple or the iPhone. Despite the rising sales of iPhones, Android phones still dominate the Chinese market mainly because of  their cheaper prices.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DreamWorks Animation Cutting 500 Jobs]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:56:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/106730288.jpg

DreamWorks Animation said Thursday it is reducing the number of films it produces each year from three to two and cutting 500 jobs as it tries to improve its profitability.

The company, known for animated movies such as "Shrek" and "Kung Fu Panda," said it is narrowing its focus to one original film and one sequel each year.

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said that the company's film plans had grown too ambitious and led to inconsistent performance.

The company has struggled with a weaker-than-expected performance from some films, such as "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," which contributed to a loss in its most recent quarter.

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. will take a $290 million pre-tax charge in connection with the restructuring. It expects the moves will save $30 million in 2015, growing to roughly $60 million by 2017.

The job cuts represent 18 percent of its workforce. They are expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The company says some of the employees at its Redwood City facility will be offered jobs at its Southern California headquarters.

DreamWorks also announced a number of management departures, including Vice Chairman Lewis Coleman, Chief Operating Officer Mark Zoradi and Dawn Taubin, who is primarily responsible for the company's marketing activities.

Movies remaining on its slate include "Home," which is set for release in March, followed by 2016 releases of "Kung Fu Panda 3," and "Trolls." In 2017, it plans to release "Boss Baby" and "The Croods 2," followed in 2018 by "Larrikins," and "How to Train Your Dragon 3." The company said that "Captain Underpants" will be produced outside of its pipeline at a significantly lower cost.

Shares of the Glendale, California, company rose 3 percent to $22 in extended trading following the announcement.



Photo Credit: WireImage]]>
<![CDATA["Room" – Inside a Tesla – Offered on Airbnb]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:44:23 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/164*120/teslamain.JPG

Not every hotel room can claim to be zero emissions. 

Then again, not every hotel room is actually a car.

But, thanks to the Silicon Valley creations of Tesla and Airbnb, you can now sleep inside a car for $85 a night. Specifically, you can rent out the inside of a Tesla Model S for $85 a night on Airbnb.

Popular Mechanics reports this "boundlessly optimistic" arrangement is available in Phoenix, Arizona, but it doesn't appear that the keys are included with the rental.

But, as host Steve Sasman notes, "How often do you get to sleep in a $118,000 Electric Car?" The answer could be "every night," depending on your financial plan (or lack thereof).

Sasman is also the author of the book, "How Anyone Can Afford a Tesla," in which he talks about the five best ways to make money owning a Tesla.

On the Airbnb website, Sasman touts the amenities that come with renting the "world's first Tesla hotel": An airbed that accommodates two in climate-controlled comfort all night, clean sheets, pillows and blankets, and remote-controlled candles to "help set a fun camping mood in the Tesla."

"Sorry, NO NBA Players allowed. Despite my love for basketball, the Tesla is just too small for anyone over 6' 6". Please...stop asking," Sasman writes.

He says the car is securely parked in his garage and that guests also get access to the kitchen, living room, TV, and private bathroom and shower in his condo.

"As the Tesla is of course my transportation, I would request that you are up by 8 a.m. so I can get to work," Sasman notes, adding, "however, this is very flexible and we can agree on a time the night before of course! You are free to hang out in the condo and even sleep-in longer on the big comfy couch if you like."

House rules: No smoking or pets in the Tesla or condo. "It's a pretty quiet condo unit so expect the same from quests (sic)," Sasman adds.



Photo Credit: www.airbnb.com]]>
<![CDATA[Ford Opens Silicon Valley Research Center]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:26:48 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000009951329_1200x675_388013123983.jpg American car giant Ford wants to put more technology into its cars so it's opening a research center here in the Bay Area. The center is in Palo Alto, just south of Stanford. Scott Budman reports.]]> <![CDATA[Uber Numbers Reveal Drivers' Earnings]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:19:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/uber-safety.jpg

Uber drivers appear to be earning more than cab drivers, according to new numbers released by the San Francisco-based company.

The numbers show Uber drivers make an average of about $6 per hour more than the average taxi or limo driver.

But the numbers don't take into account what Uber drivers have to pay out of pocket: gas, insurance, maintenance, and the depreciation of their car's value. By one estimate, that adds up about $7.20 an hour for New York drivers who work a 40-hour week.

]]>
<![CDATA[Study: Twitter Better Predictor Of Heart Disease Than Smoking, Diabetes]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 07:09:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/press-here-twitter-logos.jpg

Ditch the doctor and plug into Twitter to figure out if you'll come down with heart disease.

The social media network is a better indicator for heart disease than other better-known factors, a group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found.

According to findings published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers can geo-tag tweets and sort them by topics.

Angry tweets correlate with higher rates of heart disease, the Washington Post reported. Ergo, places with frequent tweets of the "f-bomb" are good indicators of stress -- and thus, heart disease.

But since people who use Twitter trend a little younger than people who die of heat disease, the research is instead an indicator of general goodwill -- or lack thereof -- in communities.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Big Tech Firms All Upped Their Lobbying Dollars in 2014]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 22:24:21 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/182*120/New+Image19.JPG

Silicon Valley made its presence felt in Washington in 2014 the old-fashioned way.

Burying lobbyists in a cavalcade of cash.

Google spent more than ever before in Washington, shelling out $16.83 million in 2014, almost $3 million more than in 2013, according to PandoDaily.

That might not seem like a lot for a company the size of Google. It's more than the $9.34 million, $4.74 million, and $4.1 million spent by Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, respectively, the Web site reported.

All of those spending figures were double-digit increases in lobbyist spending for those firms.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lyft to Abandon Pink Mustaches]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 20:39:32 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/450502210.jpg

The era of the pink mustache is over.

Lyft is ending the practice of having its drivers hang the signature pink "furry" mustaches from the front of their vehicles, according to Wired.

With $300 million in funding raised compared to Uber's $3 billion, Lyft has had its vehicles identified by the enormous pink mustaches attached to cars' front bumpers or grilles since 2012, the website reported.

Company officials are now admitting that a pink furry thing may not be the best way to advertise yourself on the way into a big business meeting, and are declaring the age of the stache over.

The pink mustache is still part of the company's identity, however, so it's not gone entirely: it has just moved indoors.

From now on, you will know your Lyft by the "glowstache," a small "banana"-sized bit of ersatz facial hair, attached to the interior of windshields or on top of dashboards.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Launched Rocket Features Silicon Valley Tech]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:52:23 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0120-2015-Rocket.jpg A rocket blasted into space Tuesday carrying a satellite that was built in the Bay Area. American soldiers are about to get safer because of the Silicon Valley technology on board. NBC Bay Area business and tech reporter Scott Budman provides an exclusive inside look.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA["He Was My Hero": Newlywed Remembers Husband Deputies Say Was Killed by Ex]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 19:16:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0119-mattison.jpg

Denise Mattison called her husband, Corey, her hero. He was her protector long before a terrible night last week, when Corey was shot and killed, deputies say, by Denise's ex-husband.

Investigators believe Corey Mattison died outside, behind the Ashburn townhome he shared with Denise.

He may have been leading suspected gunman Minh Nguyen, 38, away from his wife and two children, the Mattison family said.

Nguyen -- the high-profile founder of a Silicon Valley-based, pre-Facebook social network -- was captured by his own mother. Search warrants reveal that when deputies responded to the town home, they found Nguyen in the garage, being held down by his mother.

The two were struggling over control of the firearm, the warrants showed. Nguyen's mother told deputies to take the gun, and Nguyen was arrested.

"He was my hero way before a few nights ago," Denise Mattison said. "They just don't come like him. It was a kind of thing when every single one of my friends or family members met him, they would think, it was just kind of like, he's just kind of too perfect... and the truth is that he was. He was the greatest man I've ever known."

Corey and Denise married three months ago and lived with their five children. She said he was good at everything he tried, from cooking to helping raise their children together. He was an athlete in high school and college. 

"He came into our lives and stayed when no one else would have," Denise said. "Every morning... he would say, 'Lord I'm so thankful for this day that I can live in this beautiful world you've created.' That was every single morning. That was the way he lived. He was always just thankful for everything." 

She wanted to share one of the first things Corey said to her early on in their relationship. 

"[He would say,] 'I love you for everything that you are and I don't spend a second thinking about anything that you're not,'" she said.

For Denise's brother, the marriage was a dream come true -- his sister had a protector.

"To see the way he loved Denise on a consistent basis, to see the way he treated her... there's nothing more that a brother could ask for," Aaron Fox said.

Now, Denise's family is on an emotional roller coaster, bound together by their faith.

"There isn't any regret other than the fact that my sweet husband isn't here anymore," Denise said.

Nguyen, a one-time social media tech pioneer, is facing a first-degree murder charge. He's behind bars without bond.

A family friend organized a GoFundMe page to help Denise and her family with expenses

]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Police Hold Public Meeting on Drones]]> Sat, 17 Jan 2015 23:12:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/san_jose_drone_meeting.jpg

The San Jose Police Department held a public meeting Saturday to get feedback on drones, and if they should be allowed within city limits.

Some people have already expressed concern about an invasion of privacy, but police said they would only use the drones for specific crime purposes.

"We would use it if there's an explosive device that we wanted to get a real-time view of," San Jose police spokesman Dave Hober said. "Our second suggested use would be that if we have a situation where someone's life is in danger, such as a hostage situation."

One drone supporter said he would not mind them flying around if used for fighting a specific crime.

"I think it would be good if they had reasonable cause," Steve Ling said. "I don't know if that's the right wording, but if they had a reason to use a drone. They're not just flying around looking for trouble. They suspect something is going on would be when a drone would come out and be used."

The police department still needs FAA approval and would test the drones under a one-year pilot program.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Elon Musk Donates $10M To Keep Computers Honest]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 19:55:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/show-de-autos-2015-en-detroit-michigan-habla-sobre-carros.jpg

Elon Musk loves technology. As long as the technology is honest.

Musk donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, the mission of which is to keep computers from going evil, according to Wired.

In other words, Musk wants to prevent a real-life Skynet.

The charismatic tech-savvy founder of Tesla and private space exploration startup SpaceX has expressed concerns about artificial intelligence losing its moral compass before, the magazine reports.

Musk says the donation will "support research aimed at keeping AI beneficial for humanity."

With driverless cars from Google a reality within the not-too-distant future, maybe Musk is onto something.



Photo Credit: Foto: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Solar: Where the Jobs Are]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:42:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_energia_solar.jpg

Need a job?

Go up on the roof.

According to The Washington, DC-based Solar Foundation, the solar industry is about as hot as the sun powering it: Growing at a clip twenty times as fast as the rest of the US economy, putting 174,000 people now in the employ of solar companies.

The forecast is good, too. 2015 looks to be a good year to get a job in solar. According to The Foundation's Andrea Luecke, the jobs cover a wide diversity of backgrounds, and pay well: "The average is 22 dollars an hour," Luecke says, "and don't require a high degree of education. Companies want experience."

Meaning, if you can install, you've got a shot.

There is a catch, though. Part of the reason for all the jobs, and all the panels going up on houses, can be traced to government incentives. If those incentives go away (and they expire at the end of 2016), the industry will face, according to SunPower CEO Tom Werner. "Uncertainty. And it's hard to run a business when you're guessing about the future."

For now, if you need a job, no need to guess. Look to the sun.

Scott talks jobs and tech on Twitter: @scottbudman



Photo Credit: Getty Images for TakePart.org]]>
<![CDATA[New Startup Aims to Raise $120M -- For Juice]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 22:16:44 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Fruit-Food-Generic.jpg

The next big thing in Silicon Valley may be juice.

Thanks in part to the promise of the "freshest juice in the world," a startup called Juicero is on its way to collect over $120 million in venture capital, according to Business Insider.

The startup will allow its customers to make juice via a machine similar to the Keurig coffeemakers, according to the report. The machine will use shipped packets of hand-picked fruit that can be then made into juice on-demand.

Juicero has already raised about $20 million, with $10 million coming from the CEO of Campbell's, who reportedly cut a check as soon as he tasted the juice, according to Business Insider.

The report also says Juicero may have its own farms, and customers of the company will have fruit just days from being picked off of the tree or vine.

Founder Doug Evans also declined to talk publicly about his venture.

]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley Not on List of Top Diverse Firms]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 12:29:48 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP171517593095.jpg

There are plenty of good places to work in America if diversity is important to you.

None of them are in Silicon Valley, however.

The perk-packed workplaces of Google, Facebook, Twitter and the like have long been dinged for a lack of racial and gender diversity.

Driving the point home is the recent release of the "40 best companies for diversity" in America, released by Black Enterprise — and among those 40, not a single Silicon Valley company, according to USA Today.

Despite their willingness to be transparent with employee statistics, Silicon Valley firms were probably always doomed to not make the cut: the list focused on "African-American representation."

Just 2 percent of the workforce at Google, Yahoo, and Facebook are black — compared to 12 percent of the overall American population.

Some tech companies refused to participate in the survey conducted by Black Enterprise for the list of the 40 most diverse companies, according to USA Today. Others were "candid," and admitted they weren't diverse.

Companies who did make the list include AT&T, FedEx, and JPMorgan Chase.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Defends MLK Day Employee Policy]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 07:06:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/8-22-2013-MLK-on-MEET-THE-PRESS.jpg

Apple is defending its policy on Martin Luther King Day, which will be observed nationally on Monday Jan. 19, after a Silicon Valley media blog called out the company for not making it a paid holiday.

The suggestion is that Apple is making a misstep, especially as tech companies are striving for greater diversity.

NBC Bay Area reached out to Apple, which confirms, while Monday is not a paid holiday, the company has encouraged employees to volunteer as a way to honor Dr. King. In turn, Apple, through its matching gifts program, is contributing $50 for every employee hour worked.

MLK Day is a federal holiday, which means government workers will have the day off.

In its article, Valleywag notes Bay Area-based companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo all give employees the holiday off.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[The Wearable Drone That Swept CES]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:41:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/drone-wear.jpg

Imagine combining a flying drone, with a wearable device.

And, while you're at it, add a camera, so you can take a selfie. While your wearable drone is flying.

That's the idea behind a small startup called Nixie, that got a ton of buzz at CES this year. Tucked into the Intel booth, Nixie showed off its wearable device, that comes with four bands. Each band has a propeller on it, and when disbanded, the Nixie can fly away for a bit, snap your photo, and then return to you.

"It's basically like a boomerang," says Nixie co-founder Christoph Kohstall, "but easier to throw."

It's a lightweight device, alright, one clearly in its early stages. Nixie won a wearable contest at Silicon Valley tech giant Intel, got a slot at CES, and wowed the tech-shellacked crowd. Now, on its website, it's posting job listings.

The goal, in addition to stimulating instant oooohs and aaahs, is to let you continue to be active, while still taking your own picture. According to Kohstall, "Most cameras give you the point of view you have yourself. We want to develop a camera that captures you in the moment."

It's an interesting idea, and because it seems to be their moment, the small staff of Nixie has a bit of a runway to make it work.

Scott flies on Twitter: @scottbudman



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[More Silicon Valley Bus Drivers Want to Unionize]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 18:56:18 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/01-16-2014-google-bus.jpg

The push to unionize tech bus drivers is expanding.

Drivers from Apple, eBay, Genentech, Yahoo and Zynga all want to go union,according to USA Today.

There are about 120 drivers, full-time and part-time, who notified supervisors that they want to join the Teamsters.

So far, the Teamsters have unionized drivers for Facebook.

Neither the tech companies nor the transportation company with which they contract for drivers, Compass Transportation, offered comment on the development.

Officials from the Teamsters Local 853 say that Facebook going union first encouraged other drivers to follow suit.

"Marathon workdays" running 12 to 16 hours – split shifts for drivers, who have no time to go home in between shifts – for $18 to $20 an hour, "ferrying six-figure-earning technology workers to and from work" have helped encourage workers to go union, the newspaper reported.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Google's Mountain View Shuttle Hits the Road]]> Fri, 09 Jan 2015 18:04:12 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tz2+google+errand+okay+-+00000915.jpg

All aboard the Google shuttle.

An electric bus paid for by the search giant is moving people around Mountain View, according to the Mountain View Voice.

The community shuttle is taking people around the city, where Google has its headquarters, for free, the newspaper reported.

Three people boarded the bus for its maiden voyage on Monday, the newspaper reported.

The shuttle runs every 30 minutes during the week between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and from noon to 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays, according to the newspaper.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Behind The Scenes at CES]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 23:27:44 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/184*120/461056784_8.jpg We've seen many of the products from the floor of the biggest tech arena in the world, the Consumer Electronics Show. Business and Tech Reporter Scott Budman takes us back to the show floor with a look at how big the show really is.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chinese Firm Buys Palm From Hewlett Packard]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:47:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/219*120/palm-pre.jpg

Palm may be on its way back into the hands of Silicon Valley smartphone owners.

The once-dominant phone brand -- which is credited with originating the smartphone well before Apple unveiled the iPhone -- was sold by owner Hewlett Packard to Chinese consumer electronics firm TCL, Techspot.com reported.

The website reports that HP, who bought Palm for $1.2 billion in 2010, sold the brand to TCL for an undisclosed sum. TCL plans to resurrect the brand -- and to involve its fans while doing so.

TCL CEO George Guo says that rebuilding Palm will be a "collaborative effort" with input from fans for the "largest crowd-sourced project in the industry," Techspot.com reported.

What kind of phone will the next generation Palm be? Who knows: TCL currently peddles phones running Android, Firefox OS and Windows Phone, Techspot.com noted. 

Other beloved favorite of yesteryear BlackBerry is also trying to make a comeback.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[CES: New Car Technology Focuses on Safety, Convenience]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 14:05:39 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/cartech.JPG Car tech is a huge business because there's more safety, gadgetry and convenience coming your way when you get behind the wheel. Scott Budman reports from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.]]> <![CDATA[Report: MBA Grads Flee Wall Street For Silicon Valley]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 18:48:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/graduation+generic+new.JPG

Pinstripe suits are so last century.

Rather than seeking fortunes on Wall Street with banks and investment firms, more MBA-holders are migrating to Silicon Valley in search of startup riches, according to Yahoo.

The amount of Harvard Business School degree-holders seeking employment in tech increased by 50 percent in 2013, while the number of HBS grads going to Wall Street dropped.

Eighteen percent of HBS grads tried to go into tech that year, compared to 12 percent the year before, Yahoo reported.

This trend is the result of both the financial crisis of 2008 that decimated well-known Wall Street commodities like Lehman Brothers as well as the ongoing digital gold rush in California, the website reported.

The change is forcing business schools to re-assess their approach: applications to MBA programs fell by 1 percent in 2013, while demand for graduate degrees in computer science or mathematics grew by 11 percent, according to a recent report.

]]>
<![CDATA[Sony Set to Release New High Quality Sound Walkman]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 10:10:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ZX2_close_up.jpg

Is the Walkman back?

Sony has unveiled a new Walkman that it says will deliver a "pure sound quality for a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience." But that experience will cost you.

The new ZX2 Walkman, revealed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will provide an "unparalleled listening experience" at a price of $1,119.99.

How will the device deliver such a high quality sound? The new walkman has an S-Master HX processor that enables it to carry songs in “high resolution,” meaning each song will be around 150MB, according to Time.

Most CD’s and MP3 players carry compressed versions of songs that are a fraction of that size.

The larger size will allow songs to have more detail, and consequently the device will provide “a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience,” Sony said in a statement.

The Android-powered device also features a 4-inch touchscreen and a battery life of up to 60 hours.

It will also be able to reach apps through Google Play, though it isn’t meant to be a competitor of smartphones, according to Business Time.

The first Walkman, a portable cassette player, went on sale on July 1, 1979, and went on to become a defining product for Sony in the pre-Apple iPod and smartphone era. Other Walkman-branded players were later created for CDs, the Mini-Disc and MP3s.

More recently, an '80s-era Walkman was prominently featured in the blockbuster "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Sony's new Walkman ZX2 is set to hit the markets this spring, Time reported. 



Photo Credit: Sony]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Drivers: New Year's Eve Surge Pricing Backfired]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 20:29:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP817194534345.jpg

Uber and Lyft drivers agree: New Year's Eve was a bad night to be a rideshare driver.

And maybe surge pricing is to blame.

Both Uber customers and drivers are not in favor of the company's surge-pricing model, after New Year's Eve turned out to be a dud for taxi alternatives, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

Drivers for Uber and Lyft recorded "stunningly low profits" on what is usually one of the busiest nights of the year, the newspaper reported.

Taxis, meanwhile, fared quite well.

"It was an incredible sight to see all the cabs full and the rideshare cars empty," Lyft driver Kelly Dessaint told the newspaper. "I was laughing and crying at the same time."

It could be consumer confidence: Leading up to the big night, Uber sent a mass e-mail to its customers warning of surge pricing. The cabs, by contrast, went on a "Surge Free NYE" publicity push, with $10 flat rate rides for cabs, the newspaper reported.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[CES 2015: Innovation on Display]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 18:15:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/202*120/2015-01-05_18-07-26.jpg The newest innovations in consumer technology on display at 2015 International CES in Las Vegas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[All About That Bass: Music at CES]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 23:43:09 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/IMG_2038_speaker.JPG

"Hey, Mrs. Carter."

Whoever it is that calls out to Beyonce in the song has never sounded better.

And neither has a ton of bass.

I'm listening to the newest speaker from the French company Devialet, and it's a revelation. In a CES that will no doubt be dominated by drones, and droning on, it's a pleasure to have just a little time alone with some terrific sounding music.

"Billie Jean," for example, is a song I've heard 435,000 times. It's a classic. But today I heard parts of it I never knew existed. Something about a high-end speaker from a company that builds them, and sells them for more than $20,000 a piece.

Devialet chose CES to bring its system to the masses. Well, the well-heeled masses. The "Phantom" is still going to about $2,000. Much less than the high-end model, but it's really made for audiophiles who want a stylish speaker to go with their pumping Bass. (Although, to be fair, it's not just the stuff I listen to that sounds great. Segueing into "The Girl From Ipanema" proves that quiet, smooth music can be improved with a quality system, too).

Devialet boasts dozens of patents to bring you the music. The speaker actually moves as the sound changes, thanks to air being pushed inside. It's cool to watch. But away from the technology, they say music is really about what you feel. Quentin Bernard, Devialet Product Manager, says "by bringing the product to a larger market, people will be able to rediscover the emotion of music. This is our goal."

It's a good goal, and the speaker sounds great. It's wifi-enabled, so you can stream your iTunes playlist, or your Spotify. Buy a few of them, and you can wirelessly listen to movies in your home theatre.

And if you can afford it, my advice is: Crank it up. Even fancy speakers are made to blast your "Yonce.

Scott Budman will be cruising CES. Get his updates by following him on Twitter: @scottbudman



Photo Credit: Scott Budman / NBC Bay Area
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[CES 2015: Coming To Your Livingroom]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 23:42:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/010515461031210.jpg

As another mammoth session of The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off, we're reminded that consumer tech, and technology in general, are growing closer together.

The group that puts CES on says we consumers will spend just upward of a trillion dollars this year on technology for our homes. This, when much of what I see at the show consists of drones flying around, appliances that talk to each other (and your smartphone), and ways to measure whatever it is that we're doing when we're awake or sleeping.

Technology has never been so personal - for better or worse. Wearing a band or watch to tell us how much we're exercising or sleeping can be helpful. It can inspire us to hit the gym more, park a little further away from our office or local coffee shop to induce more walking, or give us a nudge when it's time to ask the doctor about something that might be wrong.

Personal tech can also, of course, get too personal. That drone whizzing by could soon whiz by your window. That's not cool. That information you're giving out to make things more convenient could be hacked into, and if you're the victim of a hacking, that's very inconvenient.

But a reminder that your laundry is done? Maybe a quick text that your refirigerator needs fixing? That - if we get used to it - could be helpful, just like the ability to see if someone is stealing your on-the-doorstep presents by checking your smartphone.

CES this year is all about tech getting personal. And it goes beyond all those sticks that let you take better selfies. It's technology creeping into just about every level of your life. Which makes it all the more important that we pay attention.

((Scott will roam CES on Twitter: @scottbudman))



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Lending Club, Zendesk, GoPro On List of Top IPOs]]> Sat, 03 Jan 2015 08:02:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP604453903069.jpg

It was a fine year to be a Silicon Valley investor.

And it was an even better year to be an early employee of some select Bay Area firms who had solid IPOs in 2014.

A total of 35 companies backed by venture capital doubled in value -- or gained even more -- after going public in 2014, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Lending Club, the credit marketplace company, had the biggest IPO at $1 billion, the newspaper reported, for a year-end gain of 69 percent.

Compare that to TubeMogul, which gained 240.4 percent after the video advertising firm went public on July 18.

The other top gains in 2014:

Avalance Biotechnologies, IPO at $17, ended the year at $54 for a gain of 217.6 percent;

Zendesk, IPO at $9, ended the year at $24.37 for a gain of 170.8 percent;

GoPro, IPO at $24, ended the year at $63.22 for a gain of 164.3 percent.

Atara Biotherapeutics, IPO at $11, ended the year at $26.75 for a gain of 143.2 percent.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley Execs are 89% Male]]> Fri, 02 Jan 2015 15:28:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/169137333_8.jpg

Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg are still in the minority.

The slim minority.

Women make up only 11 percent of executive positions at Silicon Valley companies, according to new research, meaning the Yahoo CEO and Facebook COO are some of the very few women in tech firms' corner offices.

Law firm Fenwick & West LLP found that tech firms are even less diverse than already-male-dominated S&P firms, where 16 percent of executives are women.

89 percent of Silicon Valley executives are men. Over 84 percent of the members of boards of directors are men.

And for CEO spots, it's even worse: only 9 percent of Silicon Valley firms have a woman at the helm, according to Business Insider.

"The numbers speak for themselves, and they're pretty dismal," the Web site reported.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pinterest to Start Offering Ads]]> Mon, 29 Dec 2014 20:05:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/169*120/pinterest2.JPG

Pinterest will soon start offering ads, according to the New York Times.

The brand offerings will be posted along with other items in users' feeds, according to the newspaper, and represents the "first major step for Pinterest" toward turning some kind of profit.

The San Francisco-based Pinterest has been ad-free since it launched and boasts 70 million users.

Pinterest will start unveiling ads by posting "promoted pins" from "early partners" like Kraft Foods with the hope users will "re-pin" the ads.

Ads "re-pinned" by users will be seen by about a third more people than other less-social non-native advertising. Pinterest will start "pinning" advertisements on Thursday.

]]>