Sony Corp.

Nintendo Finally Crashes From Pokemon Go High

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It’s rather surprising that it took financial markets and tech pundits this long to catch on to the whole Pokemon Go phenomenon that’s pushed Nintendo’s valuation up by nearly $12 billion. But now that both sides have gotten their heads around it, that Pokemon high is coming to an end.

After all, for the past week, there has been no shortage of coverage around how Nintendo is now valued above Sony which is ludicrous no matter how you look at it.

FutureBrand’s Ranking of World’s Favorite Companies Released

FutureBrand

Once a year, FutureBrand leads a study where they look at the 100 biggest companies by market capitalization. From there, the study asks 3,000 consumer and industry professionals in 17 different countries about the companies and asks them to rank them

 in terms of perception strength, rather than financial strength 

So where did Sony rank?

Sony Faces Patent Lawsuit Over Battery Technologies

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Companies like Somaltus, LLC are one of the biggest problem the tech industry faces – patent trolls that leech on successful businesses by demanding a ransom for something they themselves have never actually created. Texas, a state that’s more than happy to house an alarming rate of these patent trolls is the scene of yet another lawsuit (over battery technologies) that includes Sony and others like Apple.

Sony’s Recovery Pace Picks Up

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Despite how a majority of us feel about Sony’s mobile ambitions which have been muted at best, the company as a whole is recovering quite nicely. One sign of a healthy company is the ability for it to invest in its future (as opposed to chasing the market) and Sony has been hard at work in that regard:

 Having mostly stemmed losses at its television and other consumer electronics businesses, Sony revealed on Wednesday that it was investing in artificial intelligence technology and developing a robot that can bond emotionally with humans.

Despite an export-denting surge in the yen that has followed the UK’s vote to leave the EU, Sony kept its target of an operating profit exceeding ¥500bn ($4.9bn) for the 2017-18 fiscal year. If achieved, that would be the highest in two decades, improving from a profit of ¥294.2bn in the last financial year. 

10 Million Android Devices Reportedly Infected With Chinese Malware

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Fun times for Android owners. Daniel Van Boom writing for CNET:

 At least 10 million Android devices have been infected by malware called HummingBad, according to cybersecurity software maker Check Point.

Check Point, which has been tracking the malware since it was discovered in February, has released an analysis of the threat. For months, the number of infections were steady but they spiked sharply in mid-May.

What makes HummingBad particularly interesting is the group behind it, which according to Check Point is a team of developers at Yingmob, an otherwise legitimate, multimillion-dollar advertising analytics agency based in Beijing. 

It’s also worth noting that the malware at hand isn’t limited to those living in China.

Sony Outlines Their Plans Moving Forward

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In an earlier piece, I outlined the importance of PlayStation for Sony, which the company sees as their biggest growth driver. But what about their different divisions like Mobile with Xperia and their return to robotics with AIBO? In short, Sony plans to

 provides customers with kando, and inspires and fulfills their curiosity, Sony will continue to target growth by developing the three pillars of its business—electronics, entertainment and financial services—and creating new business opportunities in these business domains. 

So what exactly does that all mean? While Sony obviously won’t detail on their exact plans for the future, the following gives us a roadmap as to what we can expect them to focus on going forward.

Sony Is Bringing AIBO, Its Robotic Dog, Back

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Growing up as a kid (or teen, in my case), there is always that ‘one thing’ you would eye, but could never have – and for me, it was AIBO. Launched in the late 90’s, AIBO, Sony’s robotic dog was a product that was well ahead of its time. Though AIBO (Artificial Intelligence Robot) had some unique tricks and features, the reality of the technology at the time meant a very low ceiling for how much Sony could achieve. Back then, mobile computing with any form of power barely existed and the heavy/barely mobile laptops that were around still mostly came without a wireless card. This of course meant that advanced networks like 4G/LTE and AI were pure science fiction. Of course since then, we’ve come a long way, with our smartphones in our pockets more capable than the most high-end computers during the time AIBO was created.

Sony Expects Significant Decrease of Camera Sales Due to Earthquake Damage at Kumamoto

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Months after the devastating earthquakes that struck Japan, new reports are still coming to light on how the quakes have affected Sony. Besides the financial cost required to rebuild the factory, the inability for Sony to output sensors from its damaged facility has meant lost business to companies it supplies like Apple and Samsung. Client sales aside, Sony’s own internal divisions are also being affected by the quake.

Investment in Medical Startup M3 Earns Sony $1 Billion in Last 12 Months

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While a majority of us, including yours truly, consider Sony an electronics and entertainment company (lumping music, pictures, and PlayStation under that), the truth is that they’re a lot more. In fact, most mature companies like Sony and Apple have stakes in a lot of businesses that the general public might not be aware of. As an example, Apple more recently invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing. Sony for its part has always had a diverse portfolio which has ranged from being an ISP in Japan with Yahoo as a partner, to offering financial services and loans. Now, one of those investments is paying off in strides.

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai’s Annual Pay More Than Doubled to $4.9 Million

Image: Kazuo Hirai

Mark Schilling writing for Variety:

 Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai received a big raise to $4.9 million for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2016, according to a securities filing to Japanese authorities. Minus stock options but including performance-based pay, this amount is 2.5 times his previous year’s compensation and beats the previous company record of $4.6 million set by former Sony CEO Howard Stringer in March of 2010 — the first time Sony was compelled to disclose top executive pay. 

Samsung is Bringing More Ads to its Smart TVs

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Another reason why I love Samsung products – and by love, I of course mean never trust or use. Daniel Cooper for Engadget writes:

 Samsung wants to be more than just a hardware company, which is why it’s strengthening its longstanding flirtation with the ad business. The Wall Street Journal claims that the manufacturer, struggling to turn a profit in TVs, will increase the number of tile ads that it displays in the menu bar of its smart TVs. These small squares are currently only available in the US, although the paper believes that Europe will be added to the program in the near future. In addition, older models will get the ads delivered to the home screen thanks to a future software update. 

But it gets better.

Kumamoto Earthquake Affecting Sony Clients Like Nikon & Apple

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Sony is already going to lose big business from the Kumamoto earthquakes which struck the company’s image sensor plant. The most notable of the losses has been Apple, which was relying on Sony to deliver dual-lens cameras to power their iPhone 7+ this fall. Now, you can add Nikon to the list of clients being affected by Sony’s production woes.

Sony 22.5-Megapixel Exmor RS Image Sensor (IMX318) With Hybrid Autofocus Announced

Sony IMX318 Image Sensor

Some interesting news out of Sony today that the above headline doesn’t properly convey, due to size limitations. The better headline (which is directly from Sony) should read as:

 Sony Announces a New Type 1/2.6 22.5 Megapixel Exmor RS, the Industry’s First Stacked CMOS Image Sensor with Built-in Hybrid Autofocus and 3-Axis Electronic Image Stabilization 

So what’s all the hoopla about?

Sony Losing Apple as They Fall Behind on Dual-Lens Camera Production for iPhone 7+

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One of the biggest eyebrow raisers from the Sony Q4 FY15 earnings report was the huge drop in Devices – down ¥75.3 billion compared to a year ago. For those unaware, Devices comprises mostly of Sony’s semiconductor business which supplies companies such as Apple and Samsung with components like batteries and camera sensors. At that time, I had heard from:

 a little birdie that Sony may have lost a major customer which could lend credence to the dramatic drop. 

Now it’s looking like my initial sources were spot on.

Sony Invests in AI Startup, Wants Them to Learn From Their Own Experiences

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Mona Lalwani writes for Engadget about a new partnership between Sony and AI startup Cogitai to “build intelligent systems that will learn from their own experiences in the world.” Dr. Satinder Singh, co-founder of Cogitai which Sony has now invested in:

 We have a shared vision for where AI needs to go. The next wave will be ‘continual learning.’ It’s the idea that machine intelligence will continually grow as it interacts with the world. 

So what is continual learning?