As the end of the month rolls around again, it’s time to take a brief look at some vaguely mobile-related news you may have missed in our monthly roundup series.
January was chock-a-block full of exciting announcements, industry changes and innovations, so just what did you miss?
1. Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES as it’s known by most, was pretty hard to miss as is the case most years, but there’s a chance that some of the announcements and products unveiled there may have escaped your attention.
How about the Chinese personal drone called the EHang 184, a concept vehicle that looks like a consumer hobby drone until you realise that it’s actually intended to carry several people and is controlled by an in-drone tablet.
A friend of mine used to joke (in a mock-Yorkshire accent, for some reason) that “by the year 2020 we’ll all have our own personal hovercraft”, and substituting hovercraft for quadcopter/drone, we’re not far off that assertion.
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Drones were aplenty at CES. Parrot also unveiled a new prototype hobbyist model called the Disco, a kind of cross between a drone and a remote controlled aircraft.
But besides drones, smart home technology was also just about everywhere, as well as many of the major car companies showing off in-car tech.
Of course, wearables, mobile phones and virtual reality were also the main draws, with companies such as HTC showing off their new latest devices such as the HTC One A9, and Oculus demonstrating once again that virtual reality is set to take off in a big way especially where gamers are concerned.
Roll on CES 2017…
RELATED: British companies to watch at CES
2. EE and BT merger approved
After a six month probe, UK telco BT’s £12.5 billion merger with mobile operator EE Limited was approved by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), creating a new super operator that will provide mobile, broadband, fixed-lines and television to more than 35 million UK customers.
The head honcho at BT, Gavin Patterson, said the decision was “great news”, adding that “The combined BT and EE will be a digital champion for the UK, providing high levels of investment and driving innovation in a highly competitive market”.
“I have no doubt that consumers, businesses and communities will benefit as we combine the power of fibre broadband with the convenience of leading edge mobile service”, said Patterson.
Perhaps the new company should change its name to BTee…?
You can read more official information and findings regarding the inquiry here.
3. Microsoft says Windows 10 Mobile coming “soon”
For anyone that’s been stuck using Windows Phone 8.1 on their devices (and lets be honest, there aren’t that many Windows Phone users out there), it’s been an agonising wait as Windows 10 Mobile was originally supposed to be available before Christmas but was delayed until the start of 2016.
There’s still no official release date, and the “expected” date of January 12th has long since gone. The mobile OS is currently only available on a couple of smartphones – the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL. Nobody really knows the reasons for the delay, but it was rumoured that there have been various issues related to software updates. Like any new version of a mobile OS, there are bound to be delays – it’s just a shame that Microsoft has kept its loyal user base waiting for so long.
4. Google agreed to pay £130 million in back taxes
Everyone’s favourite search engine Google forged a deal with the UK’s tax authorities earlier this month when it agreed to pay £130 million in back taxes, after a six-year investigation by the government and attempts to clamp down on large companies avoiding paying tax by exploiting legal loopholes.
The seemingly low figure of just £130 million was settled on after Google agreed to change its accounting practices to funnel more sales via Britain instead of Ireland, which has lower corporate tax rates.
The arrangement is said to cover earnings from 2005 until 2015, and Google also said it will pay more taxes in the future. To put things in perspective, in 2013 Google accrued £3.8 billion in revenue but only paid £20.4 million in taxes, or just over 0.5% of revenue.
Now that Google has agreed to pay more taxes in future, attention is also turning to other mobile and tech companies, such as Apple…2016 could be a year where billions are paid back by some of the world’s largest corporations.
5. Netflix launches in 130 new countries
One of the world’s most popular streaming video services, Netflix, maker of hits such as The House of Cards, Narcos and Daredevil, added another 130 countries to its roster (such as India, Vietnam, Poland, Russia and many more) in January bringing the total to over 190.
The company also announced a partnership with DreamWorks to create more original content. It was also reported in the tech press that Netflix will launch more 4K ultra high-res content across Asia, Europe and the Middle East this year.
In 2015 Netflix had a user base of around 70 million households and delivered over 12 billion hours of video in the last three months of the year, an increase from 8.25 billion the year before. The total for the year was 42.5 billion hours of video.
As Internet traffic increasingly comprises video traffic, let’s hope that Internet Service Providers can keep up with the rapid upturn in web and mobile video services.