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Philadelphia Passes Ban on Cashless Stores; Amazon Go Plans Said to Be in Jeopardy

Amazon plans to open a chain of cashierless convenience stores across the country, but don’t expect them in Philadelphia: the city has just signed off on legislation banning cashless stores. While the convenience of technology has convinced many retailers to shift to credit cards and mobile payments only, Philly’s leaders opted for the opposite, citing their 26-percent poverty rate and poor consumers, some of whom do not even have bank accounts.

Nearly 6 percent of residents in the Philadelphia region do not have access to credit or bank accounts in 2017 and roughly 22 percent were considered "underbanked," according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Amazon warned Philadelphia officials behind closed doors that a ban on cashless stores would force it to reconsider its potential plans for Amazon Go stores in Philadelphia. Emails obtained by the Inquirer showed that the web giant also lobbied city officials to try to carve itself out of the cash requirement.

Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 1:05 PM (CST)

Phil Spencer Comments on Developer Acquisitions and PC Gaming Plans

Microsoft recently acquired the long-running RPG developers Obsidian and inXile, and, given Microsoft's track record with acquisitions and PC titles in general, many fans were justifiably worried about what that means for either studio. But, in a recent interview with PC Gamer, Microsoft's Phil Spencer not only seemed cognizant of these concerns, but did his best to quell them. He said that it's "up to the studios to decide what platforms to make games for," and that he doesn't expect either developer to shift their focus away from PCs. Overall, it looks like both developers have plenty of leeway to make whatever they want, which mirriors what both studios have been loudly telling the public ever since they were acquired by Microsoft. Additionally, PC Gamer asked if gamers can expect Xbox games to show up on Windows, or if Microsoft Store games will ever show up on Steam. He said "It's a good question and something we've spent a lot of time thinking through. I expect us to share more details on our plans here soon." As they often have in the past, Microsoft repeatedly promised to do right by PC gamers this time around, but only time will tell if they follow up on that promise.

"While we are proud of our PC gaming heritage, we've made some mistakes along our journey. We know we have to move forward, informed by our past, with the unique wants, needs and challenges of the PC player at the center of decisions we make. I know we've talked quite a bit over time about what we want to deliver for the player on PC, but at E3 this year, and throughout 2019, you'll begin to see where we've been investing to deliver across Store, services, in Windows and in great games. It's just the beginning."

Posted by alphaatlas February 27, 2019 9:52 AM (CST)

Apple Plans on Combining iPhone, iPad, Mac Apps by 2021

Things are about to get a lot easier for iDevelopers in the coming years: Apple is currently working on a new software development kit allowing coders to create a single app that works on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac (alternate source sans paywall). The initiative, dubbed "Marzipan," will be fully realized by 2021: "developers won’t have to submit their work to different Apple App Stores, allowing iOS apps to be downloaded directly from Mac computers -- effectively combining the stores."

The work coincides with the company’s preparations to merge more of the underpinnings of its hardware. Currently, iPhones and iPads are powered by Apple processors, while Macs use Intel Corp. chips. Apple plans to start transitioning some Macs to its own chips as early as 2020, Bloomberg News reported last year. Despite the app merger plan, Apple has said it won’t combine iOS and macOS into a single operating system.

Posted by Megalith February 24, 2019 10:05 AM (CST)

Plans for First Chinese Solar Power Station in Space Revealed

The Chinese are reportedly working on experimental solar power stations that would be launched into space to generate electricity. Planned for launch as early as 2021, they will provide "an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans," reliably supplying energy "99 percent of the time, at six-times the intensity of solar farms on earth." The final plan is a Megawatt-level space solar power station for 2030.

Pang said technical challenges to be overcome include the weight of a power station, expected to be 1000 tonnes, greater than 400 tonnes of the International Space Station. Researchers are examining whether a space factory using robots and 3D printing technology could construct the power station in space, avoiding the need to launch a heavy structure from earth. Solar energy would be converted to electricity and a microwave or laser beam would transmit the energy to earth.

Posted by Megalith February 16, 2019 3:40 PM (CST)

Amazon Abandons Plans to Build a Headquarters in New York

Amazon has announced that it has abandoned plans to build a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. This decision was due to a lack of cooperation from "a number of state and local politicians" who "have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City." Amazon says it is disappointed to have reached this conclusion. Amazon will not reopen the H2 search at this time and will proceed with its planned expansion in Northern Virginia and Nashville.

After much thought and deliberation, we've decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens. For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.

Posted by cageymaru February 14, 2019 7:44 PM (CST)

Activision Plans to Cut Hundreds of Jobs Next Week

With plummeting stocks driven by waning interest in key titles such as Overwatch and Destiny 2, Activision Blizzard is already drowning in bad news, but things are about to get a whole lot worse for the gaming giant: Bloomberg has learned hundreds of employees will lose their jobs on Tuesday as part of a restructuring attempt aimed at centralizing functions and boosting profit. Many of these layoffs will reportedly be in non-game-development departments, such as publishing, marketing, and sales. "Analysts expect Activision’s sales to decline by about 2 percent this year, to $7.28 billion."

In January, developer Bungie announced that it was parting ways with Activision and ending its development contract early, putting the bow on a long-doomed relationship. Bungie would hang onto the Destiny franchise as a result. The business angle is that Activision is now missing one of its biggest tentpoles, but the human angle is that the split leaves people in danger of losing their jobs. Activision employed an entire team full of Destiny support staff -- PR, marketing, social media, business, and so on -- who now have no work.

Posted by Megalith February 09, 2019 10:15 AM (CST)

Intel Confirms Oregon Fab Plans

About two weeks ago, Oregon Live published a report claiming that Intel is preparing to spend "billions" on a massive expansion to their D1X research factory. Yesterday, Intel confirmed the report, telling the 50 residents near the research facility's campus that it will "build a third phase," as well as a technology building with generators, utilities, and parking to support the complex. While Intel didn't give out many details, sources in Oregon's construction industry allegedly told the publication that Intel hopes to begin construction "in the first half" of 2019.

Intel announced in December that it will expand production capacity in Oregon, Ireland and Israel beginning in 2019. Monday night's neighborhood meeting is the first time the chipmaker has provided any public details of those plans. Intel's new factory will be the third phase of D1X, a massive factory Intel began in 2010. Each of the first two phases were 1.1. million square feet, creating a combined facility equivalent to 15 Costco warehouse stores. The third phase will apparently increase D1X's manufacturing space by about 50 percent, based on images of the new factory presented Monday night... Intel develops each new class of microprocessor there, then duplicates the manufacturing process at factories around the world. Intel will also add a support building with utilities and other manufacturing services, and more parking.

Posted by alphaatlas February 06, 2019 10:06 AM (CST)

Intel Teases Discrete Graphics Plans on Twitter

The "@IntelGraphics" Twitter account just posted another video, and this time, it features Intel graphics lead Raja Koduri and Intel's now-permanent CEO Bob Swan. The video is an advertisement for graphics engineers more than anything, as Intel appears to be aggressively looking for talent to add to their Core and Visual Computing Group, but in that vein, it does give a glimpse into the progress Intel is making on their discrete GPU. Raja Koduri calls Intel's Graphics Portfolio "incredible" at the transistor, firmware, and software levels, and he says these "lego blocks" are essential for building an end product that performs a particular function well. He also claims he wants to make photorealistic long distance communication and game universes "the size of our universe" a reality.
Bob Swan is similarly optimistic, as he intends for Intel's discrete graphics to be "the leading computer architecture for the future." Given the state of Intel's current IGPs, they're a long way from achieving that goal, but Intel's high-level executives seem very committed to pushing their discrete graphics effort forward. Thanks to Hexus for spotting the tweet. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas January 31, 2019 12:00 PM (CST)

Foxconn is Allegedly Rethinking Wisconson LCD Manufacturing Plans

A report from Reuters suggests that Foxconn Technology Group is "reconsidering" their previously announced plans to manufacture LCD panels in Wisconsin. Instead of hiring factory workers, Foxconn may bring on more researchers and engineers to the Wisconsin Campus, turning it into a "technology hub" instead of a manufacturing center. Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters that "In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S.," and that they "can't compete," pointing to high U.S. labor costs and other factors.

Rather than manufacturing LCD panels in the United States, Woo said it would be more profitable to make them in greater China and Japan, ship them to Mexico for final assembly, and import the finished product to the United States... Currently, to qualify for the tax credits Foxconn must meet certain hiring and capital investment goals. It fell short of the employment goal in 2018 - hiring 178 full-time jobs rather than the 260 targeted - failing to earn a tax credit of up to $9.5 million. The company may be prepared to walk away from future incentives if it is unable to meet Wisconsin's job creation and capital investment requirements, according to the source familiar with the matter.

Posted by alphaatlas January 30, 2019 11:19 AM (CST)

Zuckerberg Plans to Integrate WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger

Three of the world’s largest messaging networks will soon become one: Mark Zuckerberg, who owns WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, has decided to merge the "underlying technical infrastructure" of all three, which boast more than 2.6 billion users combined. Users will be able to communicate across the platforms for the first time, but the services will continue to operate as stand-alone apps.

The plan -- which is in the early stages, with a goal of completion by the end of this year or early 2020 -- requires thousands of Facebook employees to reconfigure how WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger function at their most basic levels, said the people involved in the effort, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is confidential.

Posted by Megalith January 27, 2019 3:45 PM (CST)

LG Plans to Sell TVs That Roll Up like Posters in 2019

2019 could be the year of the flexible OLED: a source with Bloomberg claims that LG will begin selling their long-teased, rollable OLED next year, which was on display at last year’s CES. According to the source, the 65" display will "retract automatically at the touch of a button like a garage door." Others point out it could be "rolled up and stuffed into a box when not in use." Pricing isn’t yet known.

LG is counting on so-called "rollable" and OLED televisions to revive a consumer electronics business that’s grappling with price declines and stiffening Chinese competition. The South Korean conglomerate is shedding workers to streamline and refocus around future technologies, such as flexible displays. A prototype of the television displayed at LG’s research center in Seoul can be rolled up and stuffed into a box when not in use.

Posted by Megalith December 23, 2018 11:05 AM (CST)

Apple Announces Plans for $1 Billion Campus in Austin, Texas

Today, Apple announced plans for a $1 billion dollar campus in Austin, Texas. The 133-acre facility will be less than a mile away from Apple's current Austin campus, and they claim it will initially accommodate about 5,000 employees, "with the capacity to grow to 15,000." The company is quick to point out that it already employs 90,000 people in all 50 states, and that the 6,200 people at the existing Austin campus represents the largest concentration of Apple employees in the U.S. outside of Cupertino. Texas politicians seem to be quite happy with the new campus, to say the least, and Apple also mentioned that it's investing about $4.5 billion dollars in US data centers over the next two years.

"Apple is among the world's most innovative companies and an avid creator of jobs in Texas and across the country," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott. "Their decision to expand operations in our state is a testament to the high-quality workforce and unmatched economic environment that Texas offers. I thank Apple for this tremendous investment in Texas, and I look forward to building upon our strong partnership to create an even brighter future for the Lone Star State." Jobs created at the new campus will include a broad range of functions including engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales and customer support.

Posted by alphaatlas December 13, 2018 9:10 AM (CST)