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  1. Tablet sales are in massive decline, and, when compared to smartphone sales, the smartphone’s larger brother isn’t fairing well. This is expected in the economy, when one considers that most tablets are unsubsidized with carriers worldwide and that many individuals desire a competitive $199 price tag out of pocket for the latest tablets – something that is not common nowadays in most places. By the time tablet prices drop to prices that consumers deem reasonable, tablets are often two years old and simply too old to buy at that point. Apple finds itself in the same position with its iPad Mini and iPad Air lineup currently, but Apple isn’t done with the iPad. The company that started both the smartphone and tablet revolutions with the iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010) isn’t finished with its revolutionary tablet. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple looks to revolutionize and grow iPad sales once more with some new products down the pipeline. Tim Cook hasn’t said anything about new iPads, but the company’s current commitment to the iPad Mini and iPad Air indicates that we’ll see new iPads with each passing year. Apple owns 28% market share in the mobile tablet arena, followed by Samsung at 18% – and other Android competitors register in the single digits when it comes to tablet market share. Both Samsung and Apple dominate in smartphones as well, with Samsung and Apple taking near 100% of smartphone sales in 2013. Apple and Samsung struck a truce recently that halts all worldwide lawsuits the American tech company had against the Korean manufacturer. Samsung is also a display maker for Apple, and despite Apple’s efforts to “wean†itself from Samsung dependence, the American tech giant finds itself relying on Samsung for iPhone part production once more. We shouldn’t forget about the iPad, but we know that Apple’s iPhone sales are the company’s greatest asset. The iPhone 6, due for arrival next month, looks to bring a 13MP camera to the iPhone 6 experience, in addition to two display sizes (4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays) and iOS 8, the company’s imminent upgrade to what Apple calls the world’s most advanced operating system. iOS 8 will also appear on both the iPad Mini and iPad Air, both Apple’s larger and smaller tablets that now feature Retina displays. Evidence from within Apple logs show that the company will increase its screen resolution on its new iPhone 6 models, but there’s been no word on whether or not Apple will increase the screen resolution of the iPad Mini 3 and iPad Air 2.
  2. Platinum Games' sequel scores a perfect ten, but is dwarfed in the charts. Bayonetta 2, the Wii U-exclusive hack-and-slash developed at Platinum Games, has failed to ignite the market in Japan as week one sales show poor uptake. Week one Bayonetta 2 sales in Japan, as shown on the 4Gamer website, suggests the game managed to sell about 39,000 copies. By comparison, the 2009 original was reported at the time to have sold 138,000 copies during its first week in Japan, split between 93,000 on PS3 and 45,000 on Xbox 360. Despite this, early critic reviews for the game suggest the Wii U title is masterfully put together. Earlier in September, Japan publication Famitsu scored the game a 38/40, while UK publication Edge has given the game a rare ten. The latest Japan sales chart shows that Super Smash Bros. for 3DS remains the frontrunner. After surpassing one million total sales in less than two days in Japan, the handheld brawler picked up another 321,000 units in its second week. Publisher Nintendo has set a Bayonetta 2 release date for October 24 across Europe and the US. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  3. A survey from CIRP finds almost all Prime members will renew their subscriptions despite the recent bump to $99 a year. Most Amazon Prime subscribers aren't sweating the recent $20 price increase, at least among those questioned in a recent poll. Surveying 500 shoppers who recently made a purchase at the site, research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found that 44 percent subscribed Amazon's $99 Prime shipping and content services. Extrapolating that percentage led CIRP to come up with a figure of 27 million Prime members in total. Among the Prime subscribers polled, a full 95 percent said they would "definitely" or "probably" renew their membership. Amazon Prime is a mixed but appealing bag of features that the Seattle-based company often tries to enhance. The service offers free two-day shipping on most products, an online selection of more than 40,000 streaming videos, and a Kindle e-book lending library. Amazon also recently added access to streaming songs via Prime Music. The program is a central part of Amazon's strategy, which asserts that customers will spend more with unfettered access to products and content. In March, Amazon upped the annual price of its Prime subscription from $79 to $99. Trying to justify the increase, the company said at the time that it had never raised prices on the service despite higher fuel and transportation costs to ship its goods to members. Prime is a key financial driver for the online retailer as it locks in customers with the yearly fee. In light of their membership and free shipping, Amazon contends that Prime subscribers are more than likely to turn to the site first and foremost for their online purchases. Increasing the annual cost of the service could've proved a risky game for Amazon to play. But if the results of CIRP's poll are on the money, then most subscribers will grin and bear the price jump. "Amazon Prime enjoys solid loyalty," CIRP partner and co-founder Josh Lowitz said in a statement. "While renewal intent is not the same as actual renewal, our data on length of membership and lapsed membership generally confirms that Amazon Prime members do renew their membership at rates that resemble the intended renewal." Among the current Prime members polled by CIRP, 85 percent were aware of the price increase. Among the 15 percent who were in the dark, the percentage that said they would "definitely" or "probably" renew their membership dropped to 71 percent. Upon hearing of a price increase, a customer's initial reaction is often to threaten not to renew. But based on CIRP's data, renewal rates tend to recover after that customer considers the benefits of the service. "It's a testament to how well Amazon rolled out the price increase, as well as the relative costs and benefits of Amazon Prime" Lowitz added. "More than 8 out of 10 Amazon Prime members are aware of the increase, and even in light of that increase, over 90 percent intend to renew. Amazon undoubtedly helped by improving the benefits of Prime membership, including adding HBO programs to the Prime Instant Video library and the launch of Prime Music streaming audio service."
  4. In recent years the entertainment industries have pushed hard to get The Pirate Bay blocked in various countries. Despite these efforts the notorious torrent site has managed to double its visitors. The United States remains the most popular traffic source while roughly 9% of all users access the site through a proxy. The Pirate Bay is without doubt one of the most censored websites on the Internet. Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site and this list continues to expand. Denmark was one of the first countries to block The Pirate Bay, but the biggest impact came in 2012 when major ISPs in the UK and the Netherlands were ordered to deny their users access to the site. The entertainment industries have characterized these blockades as a major victory and claim they’re an efficient tool to deter piracy. The question that has thus far remained unanswered, however, is how Pirate Bay’s traffic numbers are being affected. Is the site on the verge of collapsing? As it turns out, The Pirate Bay hasn’t stopped growing at all. On the contrary, The Pirate Bay informs TorrentFreak that visitor numbers have doubled since 2011. The graph below shows the growth in unique visitors and pageviews over the past three years. The Pirate Bay chose not to share actual visitor numbers, but monthly pageviews are believed to run into the hundreds of millions. Pirate Bay traffic These numbers reveal that the torrent site is still doing quite well, but that doesn’t mean that the blockades are not working. After all, the additional traffic could simply come from other countries. A better indication for the effectiveness of the blockades are the number of visitors that access the site through proxies. The Pirate Bay told TorrentFreak that roughly 9% of all visitors use proxies. This percentage doesn’t include sites that cache pages. In other words, a significant percentage of users who don’t have direct access to the site are bypassing court-ordered blockades though proxies. Interestingly, the United States is by far the biggest traffic source for the notorious torrent site. This is somewhat ironic, as American record labels and movie studios are the driving force behind the blockades in other countries. All in all it is safe to conclude that censorship is not the silver bullet to stop The Pirate Bay. While it certainly has some impact, there are still millions of people who simply route around the blockades and continue downloading as usual.
  5. Unlike Comcast, Verizon is unable to quickly set up network connections to Netflix. It’s been 10 weeks since Verizon and Netflix struck a deal in which Netflix will pay the ISP for a direct connection to its network. Yet customers are still complaining about bad performance. The reason is that Verizon and Netflix haven’t set up enough connections to make much of a difference, and Verizon has said work may not be completed until the end of 2014. Instead of remaining quiet while they build out the necessary infrastructure, Netflix and Verizon have taken shots at one another. The latest comes from Verizon VP David Young, who wrote a blog post today that aims to dispel what he calls “the congestion myth.†“A few weeks ago, Verizon received an e-mail from a customer in Los Angeles asking why he was not getting a good experience watching Netflix on his 75Mbps FiOS connection,†Young wrote. “He was understandably confused by some of the misleading public accounts that inaccurately suggest widespread congestion that could affect Netflix traffic on Verizon’s network. Worse still were claims that Verizon is deliberately 'throttling' Netflix traffic. This customer wanted to know what was going on and why his performance wasn’t what he hoped. We, too, wanted to get to the bottom of the problem.†Young went on to say that there is “no congestion anywhere within the Verizon network†but that there is congestion in the links between Netflix’s transit providers and Verizon. Those links, of course, haven't*being upgraded because transit providers such as Cogent refused to pay Verizon to build out extra infrastructure. Instead, Netflix eventually agreed to pay for a direct connection, which should eliminate the transit providers' role in bringing traffic from Netflix to Verizon. Verizon's infrastructure squad moves slowly Netflix also*agreed to pay Comcast for a direct connection, and performance on that network improved almost immediately after the deal was announced. So why, 10 weeks after the Netflix/Verizon deal, is there still congestion at interconnection points? As we reported last month, Comcast was able to establish*the connections quickly because it spent months working with Netflix to prepare*the necessary infrastructure even before the companies*agreed to monetary terms. That includes a few hundred*10 Gigabit Ethernet ports spread across*10 carrier-neutral Internet exchange points. Compared to Comcast, Verizon’s infrastructure team was unprepared for the deal. In June, a Verizon statement said, “we will be incrementally rolling it out starting next month and progressing through the fourth quarter.†At the time, Verizon and Netflix had set up a test connection in Dallas and*were working on setting up peering connections in 13 cities. The connections apparently aren't ready yet, and Young today blamed Netflix for continuing to send*traffic over congested links. It’s customary for Verizon to “negotiate reasonable commercial arrangements with transit providers or content providers to ensure a level of capacity that accommodates their volume of traffic," he wrote. “Such arrangements have been common practice for content delivery networks in the Internet ecosystem for many years, and Netflix is fully capable of taking the necessary and customary steps to ensure that its connections match its traffic volumes." That’s true as far as it goes, but the statement doesn’t mention that Netflix already capitulated to Verizon's terms more*than 10 weeks ago. We asked Verizon spokespeople today how much progress has been made setting up the connections but the company declined comment. Young’s blog post didn’t shed any light on when significant numbers of customers can start seeing improvements. “We are working aggressively with Netflix to establish new, direct connections from Netflix to Verizon’s network,†Young wrote. “The benefit of these direct connections will be two-fold. First, Verizon customers who use Netflix will have a significantly improved experience as Netflix traffic flows over non-congested links. Early tests indicate that this is the case. The other benefit will be that the congestion that we are seeing today on those links between these middleman networks and our L.A. border router will likely go away once the huge volume of Netflix traffic is routed more efficiently. This will improve performance for any other traffic that is currently being affected over those connections.†Netflix has tried to rally customers to its cause, telling people who experience streaming trouble that “The Verizon network is crowded right now.†Today, the company repeated its call for rules that prevent ISPs from charging interconnection fees to content companies. “We'd like to thank Verizon for laying out the issue so nicely,†a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement sent to Ars. “Congestion at the interconnection point is controlled by ISPs like Verizon. When Verizon fails to upgrade those interconnections, consumers get a lousy experience despite paying for more than enough bandwidth to enjoy high-quality Netflix video. That's why Netflix is calling for strong net neutrality that covers the interconnection needed for consumers to get the quality of Internet they pay for.†Netflix did not offer any update on when the peering links with Verizon will be established.