TOP 10 MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS IN THE INTERNET OF THINGS SPACE 2014

Top 10 merges

Google & Nest Labs

In its second-largest acquisition ever, Google paid $3.2bn to buy Nest Labs, a maker of smart smoke alarms and thermostats for homes, back in January.

The search giant, which already had a 12% interest in the company, said the buyout would bolster its collection of smart products, while giving Nest Labs the opportunity to create more smart appliances and grow in other countries.

Sylvain Fabre, research director and analyst at analyst firm Gartner, told CBR in February that the acquisition signalled a landmark moment for information privacy as Google competes for a presence in the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) market

“There is the risk of hacking and misuse of machines…and if Google or other providers hold some information, we now know that there is a definite possibility that government entities may also access and use that information.”

At Munich’s DLD Conference in January, Nest CEO Tony Fadell said that any data collected from users is used for improving its range of products.

Last month, hackers gained root access into a Nest Thermostat at the Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas within 15 seconds.

Zebra Technologies & Motorola

Zebra Technologies, a manufacturer of barcode, receipt, kiosk and RFID printers, agreed to buy a unit of Motorola for $3.45bn.

Both companies offer bar-code scanning and radio-frequency identification, which they hope to combine to create a larger company that would specialise in tracking applications for everything from groceries to car parts.

The deal, announced in April, leaves Motorola, once a giant of the wireless business, with only its government and public safety business, and some leftover network technology, called iDEN.

Cisco & Tail-F Systems

Cisco is paying out $175m for a Swedish firm called Tail-f, which it hopes will boost its network-management tools for the IoT.

Tail-f, headquartered in Stockholm, provides tools to help companies install, manage and maintain networks and applications running on top of the network.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter of 2014.

Additionally, the San Jose-based networking firm agreed to buy Assemblage, a Danish developer of cloud-based collaboration tools, in June for an undisclosed amount.

Cisco’s head of business development Hilton Romanski said in a blog at the time that Assemblage will “help us capture the ongoing market transitions of mobility, cloud and the Internet of Everything (IoE)”.

Google’s Nest labs & Dropcam

Google’s Nest Labs also acquired Wi-Fi video monitoring startup Dropcam for $555m in efforts to further expand the search giant’s home automation products.

The San Francisco-based company, which has been making Wi-Fi enabled, home-monitoring cameras for the past five years, last year raised $30m in funding for them. Using a special app, users can use them to see live feeds, zoom and record footage.

Dropcam will adopt Nest’s privacy policy, so that the data from the monitoring service won’t be shared with Google or any other company without a customer’s permission.

Microchip Technology & ISSC

Microchip Technology, which makes memory and analog chips, signed a deal to buy Taiwan-based wireless products maker ISSC Technologies for $328.5m back in May.

The deal is the first major overseas acquisition by the Chandler-based company, which it hopes will expand its Bluetooth and wireless products for IoT growth.

Atmel & NewPort Media

Atmel agreed to buy Newport Media, a provider of low-power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth systems, for $140m in July, as the chip maker puts part of its efforts into the Internet of Things market.

The San Jose-based company, which makes microcontrollers and touchscreen chips, said the deal will allow it to develop a variety of IoT products, including home and building automation equipment and consumer devices that require longer battery life.

“This acquisition immediately adds 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to our offerings and will accelerate our introduction of low-energy Bluetooth products,” Atmel’s President and CEO Steve Laub had said.

The deal, expected to be completed in the third quarter of the year, includes an additional earn-out of up to $30m to be paid out if future revenue targets are achieved over the next two years.

PTC & Axeda

Data management firm PTC announced plans to buy Axeda, a Massachusetts-based provider of cloud services, in July for approximately $170m.

PTC said that Axeda’s Connected Machine Management application set, which allows companies to remotely monitor and service products and deliver over-the-air software updates, will help PTC expand its footprint in the IoT space .

PTC’s CEO Jim Heppelmann added that the buyout will complement ThingWorx and “accelerate PTC’s ability to deliver best-in-class solutions across the entire Internet of Things technology stack.”

Samsung & SmartThings

Back in July, Samsung took steps to acquire Internet of Things experts SmartThings.

The firm, snapped up for a reported $200m, lets people sync their devices and IoT gadgets with a standalone smartphone application.

SmartThings, founded in 2012, has some 5,000 developers building devices that connect to its open platform, and will now be relocating to Samsung’s Open Innovation Center in Palo Alto.

Samsung has also been touting its Tizen OS around town as a potential IoT operating system.

Samsung & Quietside

Samsung also announced plans within a week later to buy air conditioner firm Quietside for an undisclosed amount, in further efforts to strengthen its smart home business.

The company said it had acquired 100% of Quietside, which also manufacturers heaters andother HVAC appliances, but declined to comment of the price or other details.

“Because air conditioning products are a necessity in all buildings, including homes and offices, this acquisition is expected to be of help to our future smart home business,” Samsung Electronics said in a statement.

Vodafone & Cobra Automotive

The UK mobile operator bought the Italian car technology group for £115m in June, taking further steps in becoming a provider of IoT car services.

Cobra provides security and telematics software, which collects and analyses data from computer-controlled car systems, such as steering and brakes, to the automotive and insurance industries.

Vodafone said the acquisition will expand its IoT growth strategy beyond connectivity by providing services on top of it.

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TOP 10 MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS IN THE INTERNET OF THINGS SPACE 2014

Top 10 merges

Google & Nest Labs

In its second-largest acquisition ever, Google paid $3.2bn to buy Nest Labs, a maker of smart smoke alarms and thermostats for homes, back in January.

The search giant, which already had a 12% interest in the company, said the buyout would bolster its collection of smart products, while giving Nest Labs the opportunity to create more smart appliances and grow in other countries.

Sylvain Fabre, research director and analyst at analyst firm Gartner, told CBR in February that the acquisition signalled a landmark moment for information privacy as Google competes for a presence in the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) market

“There is the risk of hacking and misuse of machines…and if Google or other providers hold some information, we now know that there is a definite possibility that government entities may also access and use that information.”

At Munich’s DLD Conference in January, Nest CEO Tony Fadell said that any data collected from users is used for improving its range of products.

Last month, hackers gained root access into a Nest Thermostat at the Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas within 15 seconds.

Zebra Technologies & Motorola

Zebra Technologies, a manufacturer of barcode, receipt, kiosk and RFID printers, agreed to buy a unit of Motorola for $3.45bn.

Both companies offer bar-code scanning and radio-frequency identification, which they hope to combine to create a larger company that would specialise in tracking applications for everything from groceries to car parts.

The deal, announced in April, leaves Motorola, once a giant of the wireless business, with only its government and public safety business, and some leftover network technology, called iDEN.

Cisco & Tail-F Systems

Cisco is paying out $175m for a Swedish firm called Tail-f, which it hopes will boost its network-management tools for the IoT.

Tail-f, headquartered in Stockholm, provides tools to help companies install, manage and maintain networks and applications running on top of the network.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter of 2014.

Additionally, the San Jose-based networking firm agreed to buy Assemblage, a Danish developer of cloud-based collaboration tools, in June for an undisclosed amount.

Cisco’s head of business development Hilton Romanski said in a blog at the time that Assemblage will “help us capture the ongoing market transitions of mobility, cloud and the Internet of Everything (IoE)”.

Google’s Nest labs & Dropcam

Google’s Nest Labs also acquired Wi-Fi video monitoring startup Dropcam for $555m in efforts to further expand the search giant’s home automation products.

The San Francisco-based company, which has been making Wi-Fi enabled, home-monitoring cameras for the past five years, last year raised $30m in funding for them. Using a special app, users can use them to see live feeds, zoom and record footage.

Dropcam will adopt Nest’s privacy policy, so that the data from the monitoring service won’t be shared with Google or any other company without a customer’s permission.

Microchip Technology & ISSC

Microchip Technology, which makes memory and analog chips, signed a deal to buy Taiwan-based wireless products maker ISSC Technologies for $328.5m back in May.

The deal is the first major overseas acquisition by the Chandler-based company, which it hopes will expand its Bluetooth and wireless products for IoT growth.

Atmel & NewPort Media

Atmel agreed to buy Newport Media, a provider of low-power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth systems, for $140m in July, as the chip maker puts part of its efforts into the Internet of Things market.

The San Jose-based company, which makes microcontrollers and touchscreen chips, said the deal will allow it to develop a variety of IoT products, including home and building automation equipment and consumer devices that require longer battery life.

“This acquisition immediately adds 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to our offerings and will accelerate our introduction of low-energy Bluetooth products,” Atmel’s President and CEO Steve Laub had said.

The deal, expected to be completed in the third quarter of the year, includes an additional earn-out of up to $30m to be paid out if future revenue targets are achieved over the next two years.

PTC & Axeda

Data management firm PTC announced plans to buy Axeda, a Massachusetts-based provider of cloud services, in July for approximately $170m.

PTC said that Axeda’s Connected Machine Management application set, which allows companies to remotely monitor and service products and deliver over-the-air software updates, will help PTC expand its footprint in the IoT space .

PTC’s CEO Jim Heppelmann added that the buyout will complement ThingWorx and “accelerate PTC’s ability to deliver best-in-class solutions across the entire Internet of Things technology stack.”

Samsung & SmartThings

Back in July, Samsung took steps to acquire Internet of Things experts SmartThings.

The firm, snapped up for a reported $200m, lets people sync their devices and IoT gadgets with a standalone smartphone application.

SmartThings, founded in 2012, has some 5,000 developers building devices that connect to its open platform, and will now be relocating to Samsung’s Open Innovation Center in Palo Alto.

Samsung has also been touting its Tizen OS around town as a potential IoT operating system.

Samsung & Quietside

Samsung also announced plans within a week later to buy air conditioner firm Quietside for an undisclosed amount, in further efforts to strengthen its smart home business.

The company said it had acquired 100% of Quietside, which also manufacturers heaters andother HVAC appliances, but declined to comment of the price or other details.

“Because air conditioning products are a necessity in all buildings, including homes and offices, this acquisition is expected to be of help to our future smart home business,” Samsung Electronics said in a statement.

Vodafone & Cobra Automotive

The UK mobile operator bought the Italian car technology group for £115m in June, taking further steps in becoming a provider of IoT car services.

Cobra provides security and telematics software, which collects and analyses data from computer-controlled car systems, such as steering and brakes, to the automotive and insurance industries.

Vodafone said the acquisition will expand its IoT growth strategy beyond connectivity by providing services on top of it.

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Oops! Microsoft accidentally teases Windows 9 ‘coming soon’ on social media

windows-9-wallpaper-teaser-640x426

Microsoft’s internal censors seem to be sleeping on the job this year. In June, the Surface Pro 3 manual included several references to a small-screen Surface Mini despite the fact that a small-screen Surface Mini was never actually released. And now, as rumors of Windows 9 swirl, Microsoft China appears to have confirmed the impending reveal.

Posting to Weibo—a Chinese social media site—Microsoft China posed its followers a question: “Microsoft’s latest OS Windows 9 is coming soon, do you think the start menu at the left bottom will make a comeback?” 

Oops. And not just because Microsoft has already announced the return of the Start menu.

The post was accompanied by a screenshot of a Windows 9 logo mock-up by Shy Designs. Microsoft China appears to have quickly realized the error of its ways, as the Weibo message has since been removed, though not before Cnbeta noticed and first reported it.

Several reports from oft-reliable sources say Microsoft is prepared to announce Windows 9 in “technical preview” form at the end of September or early in October, just before Windows 7 PCs disappear from store shelves, though Microsoft itself has yet to confirm it. Leaks suggest Windows 9 will better let a PC be a PC and a tablet be a tablet, bringing several mouse-friendly changes to the desktop and possibly killing the desktop completely in tablets and phones powered by mobile ARM processors.

If Windows 9 is indeed incoming—and Microsoft China’s slip-up suggests it is—we have some suggestions for features we’d want to see. But one of the most crucial improvements Microsoft needs to make ASAP has nothing to do with the core operating system itself: The company needs to clean up the Windows Store pronto if it ever hopes to make Metro apps viable on the desktop. Fortunately, Microsoft’s already taking its first tentative steps towards fixing the mess.

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Windows 9 news recap: Modern UI 2.0, Tech Preview to be updated frequently, and more

startmenuwindows9_r1_c1_0[1]_0

It’s been a busy week here at WinBeta with lots and lots of Windows Threshold news breaking ground. We learned about an updated Modern UI, a new rapid release cycle for the preview, when the preview will launch and what it will be called.

On Monday, WinBeta exclusively revealed new changes and features coming to the Modern UI-side of Windows Threshold. These new changes include brand new interactive live tiles, a notification center which is familiar to that on Windows Phone and live folders which are also similar to its Windows Phone counterpart. These new changes won’t be seen in the upcoming preview in September, however they’ll be available in a second preview coming later.

Speaking about the second preview, it was revealed this week that Windows Threshold would see an ARM specific preview launch in the beginning of 2015, which will include all the new updated Modern UI features and functionality. This preview will run on ARM devices like the Surface (RT) and Surface 2 (and Surface 3 if Microsoft release a new Surface in October). It will also run on phones, too.

This second preview won’t be months newer than the first preview, as it was revealed recently that Windows Threshold has a new built-in functionality which allows the operating system to upgrade builds without the need to reinstall the operating system. We revealed that Microsoft aims to update the Threshold Preview with new builds twice (or more) times a month, meaning by the time the second preview for ARM launches, any under the hood changes made in that second preview should be available as an update in the first preview too. Both previews should be up-to-date by the time the second preview is launched.

This week we also learned about the previews name, being “Windows Technical Preview for Enterprise”. This name obviously means the upcoming preview is to show businesses that Windows is still a viable option, with the new Start Menu and windowed-apps, along with virtual desktops and other desktop-focused features. The preview is said to be coming this September 30th, if not on that precise date, it’ll definitely launch sometime around then.

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97,000 Bugzilla email addresses and passwords exposed in another Mozilla leak

Around 97,000 early testers of the Bugzilla bug tracking software have been warned that their email addresses and encrypted passwords were exposed for three months.

The accidental exposure is the second disclosed by the Mozilla Foundation this month – on 1 August, the organisation revealed that around 76,000 Mozilla Developer Network email addresses and 4,000 hashed and salted passwords had been left on a public-facing server for 30 days.

The new breach started during a server migration, Mark Cote, assistant project lead for Bugzilla, explained.

One of our developers discovered that, starting on about May 4th, 2014, for a period of around 3 months, during the migration of our testing server for test builds of the Bugzilla software, database dump files containing email addresses and encrypted passwords of roughly 97,000 users of the test build were posted on a publicly accessible server. As soon as we became aware, the database dump files were removed from the server immediately, and we’ve modified the testing process to not require database dumps.

We do not know whether or not the leaked database dumps have been picked up by anyone with ill-intent, or whether the passwords were hashed and salted, but Mozilla said it would like to think that developers who use test builds are aware of their insecure nature.

That said, passwords do still get reused. For that reason Mozilla has contacted everyone who is affected by the leak, urging them to change their passwords if they have used them for other additional sites or accounts.

So, if you use the Bugzilla tracking software, you need to change your password right now. And even if you don’t, you can still learn from this incident by ensuring that you don’t use the same password more than once.

We suggest using long non-dictionary passwords made up from a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

If you have a tough time remembering all your complex passwords you may want to consider using a password manager such as LastPass or KeePass.

Meanwhile Mozilla, which is no stranger to leaking passwords, said it is “deeply sorry for any inconvenience or concern this incident may cause” and is undertaking a review of its data practices in the hope that it will minimize the likelihood of such incidents happening again in the future.

mozilla-firefox-

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Will Windows 9 go free to tempt us into an upgrade?

windows-9-design-concept

Windows 9 news is coming at a faster clip now that we’re drawing closer to its likely September 30 debut, and the latest concerns the new OS’s price.

According to Russian leaker  Microsoft is planning some nice incentives to get folks to upgrade to Windows 9.

For Windows 8.1 users who want to make the jump, Windows 9 will either come free or be available through a special offer. We’d put our money on it going the free route since Windows 8.1 arrived at no charge for Windows 8 users.

If you bought a retail or OEM flavor of the Windows 8, Microsoft will apparently throw you a Windows 9 upgrade for around $20 (about £12, AU$21).

Finally, since Windows XP holdouts are still numbering more than Microsoft would like, despite the company ending support earlier this year, the firm is said to be planning an “awesome” incentive to get XP users to cave in to Windows 9.

According to the Russian crew the enterprise version of Windows 9 will leave the Metro interface at the door. Microsoft won’t release a test version of Windows 9 Pro OEM, though there is a Windows 9 Enterprise technical preview out in the wild, apparently.

Despite many calling the death of Windows RT all but complete, Microsoft apparently isn’t ready to give up on its much-maligned OS. Instead, the firm is prepping Windows 9 RT and in fact already has a test build made. As you might expect, Windows 9 RT will arrive on the unannounced Surface 3.

There were also a few rumored Windows 9 features to be had as well. The system will support 3D-mode Ultra HD TVs and allow for cloud data back-up and restoration. Last but not least, Microsoft is said to be creating a feature for virtualizing physical system backups in the cloud. Sounds pretty nifty

.Windows-9

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There’s a lot of speculation that Microsoft will change how Windows is sold and distributed, but a “Windows 365” approach is different than “Windows-as-a-Service.”

Examining Windows

With Windows 9 already on the immediate horizon, there’s increasing speculation that Microsoft may change up the licensing and business model for the flagship OS. Some suggest that Microsoft will just give the OS away, while others think that Microsoft will either offer Windows as a cloud-based service or in a subscription model á la Office 365.

All of those are possibilities. What concerns me is that there’s still so much confusion about Office 365, and that confusion will bleed over into a possible “Windows 365” scenario, creating chaos for users trying to decide what is best for them.

Article by Microsoft  was very confusing and misleading, because the headline made it clear it was related to Windows-as-a-Service — however, in the very first paragraph, the author stated that Windows might soon follow in the footsteps of Office 365. It then went on to claim that those rumors might be true because Microsoft listed a job posting that alluded to “Windows-as-a-Service.”

Make it stop!

That particular article demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about what Office 365 is and how it works. If that isn’t bad enough, it doubled down on that ignorance by linking the misguided understanding of Office 365 to both Windows 365 and Windows-as-a-Service, as if all of those are related or similar. It’s no wonder consumers on the street can’t make sense of Office 365 — the tech press doesn’t get it either and writes things that make it more confusing.

Let’s start by backing up and talking about Office 365 for a minute. Office 365 is NOT a cloud-based Office-as-a-Service offering. Office 365 is the exact same Office as the traditional Office Professional 2013 suite, but it’s sold as a subscription rather than as a one-time purchase. It includes additional cloud-based features and benefits that don’t come with the desktop suite, but the actual Office applications are installed on and run from your Windows or Mac PC literally the same way.

So, now let’s break down the difference between what “Windows 365” might look like as opposed to “Windows-as-a-Service.” If Microsoft chooses to offer Windows the same way it has packaged Office 365, all that means is that rather than charging a one-time fee of $100 or $200 for the OS, it would instead offer it as a subscription for say $25 or $50 per year.

Users would still have the exact same Windows 9 (or whatever they call it) as the users who pay $200 to buy Windows 9 outright, but they’d pay less up front, and they’d have perpetual rights to the latest version. That means, when Windows 10 comes along, the Windows 365 users will just keep paying their subscription fees and install it, while those who purchased Windows 9 outright will have to spend the $200 again if they want to upgrade.

A cloud-based Windows, or “Windows-as-a-Service,” is an entirely different concept. It would likely still include some sort of subscription, or ongoing fees, but with Windows-as-a-Service, Microsoft would install and maintain the Windows OS on its Azure servers in the cloud, and users would need to somehow connect to and login to the cloud-based Windows to run software in a virtualized, streaming fashion over the internet.

I’m not a fan of the idea of Windows-as-a-Service. It seems too much like trying to use a Chromebook — where your ability to use your computer or be productive is tied to your ability to find a reliable internet connection. Windows 365, on the other hand, sounds like an awesome approach that I really hope Microsoft does offer.

Both of these are potential options for Microsoft, and each has pros and cons. It’s important to understand that they are completely different models, though, and to not confuse users and muddy the waters by implying that Office 365 means you’re using some sort of cloud-based Office-as-a-Service.

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