iPad 5 back plate leaks, looks like an iPad mini

The 9.7 inch iPad was always a big and beefy device, and when Apple released the 7.9 inch iPad mini, with practically zero bezels, it made the large iPad look morbidly obese. Rumors about an iPad 5 redesign that make the device look like an iPad mini have been around for months, but now, thanks to FanaticFone, we finally have pictures of what the rear aluminum shell looks like.

According to the source, the new iPad will measure roughly 240 mm by 168 mm. The current iPad, to give you a comparison, is 241.2 mm by 185.7 mm. In other words, Apple has managed to make is almost 18 millimeters narrower!

When will Apple actually announce the new jumbo iPad? That’s a good question. Something tells us it’ll be during the same event where the announce the retina iPad mini.

iOS 7 reveals iPhone 5S’ A7 Chip will include Samsung components

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Developer, Nick Frey (via 9to5Mac) has discovered code references in the latest iOS 7 beta, which suggests that Apple is developing the next generation A-series chip, most likely to be called A7, that could be used in iPhone 5S.

Frey has discovered a reference to an S5L8960x application processor, which appears to be a new version of the A-series chip. The A6 chip which powers the iPhone 5 is codenamed s5l8950x and the A6X chip which powers the iPad 4 is codenamed S5l8955x.

9to5Mac reports that Apple’s new system-on-chip will include some Samsung components:

Interestingly, it appears that Apple will again work with Samsung for this new chip. The main system-on-a-chip will include some Samsung components- at least to power the display, according to analysis of the above code by a person familiar with Apple’s chip design process. This contrasts with a rumor from earlier this year (like every year) claiming that Apple will switch to TSMC on the A7 processor.

This source also says that over the past couple of years, Apple has hit roadblocks (in relation to processing speed) with both the upcoming A7 and A8 chip, but it appears those that issues have been resolved.

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Back in June, leaked photos of iPhone 5S revealed the new iPhone chip has a K1A0062 identifier, which indicated the chip may be made by TSMC instead of Samsung, as chips manufactured by Samsung typically start with an “N”.

There have been rumors and speculations that Apple is working on reducing its reliance on Samsung by shifting its chip manufacturing business to TSMC, but it doesn’t look like it is happening anytime soon.

It is also possible that Apple will use both Samsung and TSMC to produce the A7 chip, to reduce the risk of depending on just one company to manufacture its chips.

So what do we know about the A7 chip? So far not much, but the leaked iPhone 5S photo revealed it may come with only 1GB RAM (same as the iPhone 5 and iPad 4).

[Nick Frey via 9to5Mac]

Michael Dell Is “At Peace” With Whatever His Shareholders Decide

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Asa Mathat | D: All Things Digital

Michael Dell made what reads like his final appeal to shareholders of the computing company that bears his name, seeking their approval of a $24.6 billion leveraged buyout he has proposed with the private equity firm Silver Lake.

“The decision is now yours. I am at peace either way and I will honor your decision,” Dell wrote in an open letter filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission early this morning.

The letter came after a day of significant developments in the ongoing drama surrounding the fate of what was once the world’s largest supplier of personal computers. Dell and Silver Lake raised their bid by a dime to $13.75 a share in the hope of convincing the company’s board to change some of the rules governing the shareholder vote. Naturally, that didn’t sit well with Carl Icahn, the activist investor stalking the company with a competing shareholder proposal of his own. He resorted to writing verse on Twitter to make his case.

Without mentioning him by name, Dell criticized some of the proposals floated by Icahn, including the sale of assets and a leveraged recapitalization, saying they would be “destructive to the company.” Should the buyout be rejected by shareholders, he said he won’t support any of Icahn’s proposals. Dell remains the company’s largest single shareholder, with about 14 percent to 15 percent of the shares outstanding.

Dell also reiterated the case he and Silver Lake made in a joint letter yesterday, saying the “non-vote-equals-no-vote” provision of the shareholder vote process is unfair. “Currently, over 25 percent of the unaffiliated shares have not voted,” he wrote. “This means that even if a majority of the unaffiliated shares that vote on the transaction want to accept our offer, the will of the majority may be defeated by the shares that do not vote. I think this is clearly unfair.”

The special committee of Dell’s board hasn’t yet formally responded to the latest offer.

Dell’s full letter is below:

Dear Fellow Shareholders,

You have undoubtedly read many stories about our efforts to take Dell private. I wanted you to hear directly from me.

I believe that taking Dell private is the right thing to do for the company. We need to transform, and we need to do it quickly. The transformation is not without risks and challenges, and I believe that we can do what we need to do better as a private company than a public company.

When I came to the Dell board last August to ask if the board would consider the possibility of a going private transaction, I understood that the independent directors would control the process, and I made clear that I was ready to partner with whoever would pay the highest price. I encouraged every interested party to pay the highest price they could.

After one of the most thorough processes in history, the highest price that any of the parties was willing to pay was $13.65 per share. Although no other party has offered to pay more than $13.65 per share, Silver Lake and I have now increased our offer to $13.75 per share, an increase to public shareholders of approximately $150 million, which is our best and final offer.

I believe this offer is in the best interests of the company and our shareholders. Certain other parties have been proposing alternatives such as leveraged recapitalizations, sales of assets and other steps that I believe would be destructive to the company and that I do not and will not support.

The decision is now yours. I am at peace either way and I will honor your decision. Our agreement requires the vote of a majority of the unaffiliated shares – your shares – to approve the transaction. Unfortunately, our agreement also provides that shares that do not vote count as votes against the transaction.

Currently, over 25 percent of the unaffiliated shares have not voted. This means that even if a majority of the unaffiliated shares that vote on the transaction want to accept our offer, the will of the majority may be defeated by the shares that do not vote. I think this is clearly unfair.

When we offered to increase our bid to $13.75 per share, we also asked the Special Committee of the Board to change this unfair vote standard and allow the will of the majority of the unaffiliated shares that vote on the transaction to control the outcome.

Particularly given the efforts of others to promote alternative transactions, and the ability of those parties to vote their shares when my shares do not count, it makes no sense whatsoever to skew the playing field even further by counting shares not voting as if they supported the opposition group.

If the Special Committee agrees to our increased bid of $13.75 per share, and agrees to create a fair and level playing field in which you can decide, I will look forward to your decision.

Sincerely,
Michael S. Dell

Will Amazon’s Unit Growth Bottom Out in Q2?

There’s not a whole lot that Wall Street dislikes right now about Amazon, which is heading into its second-quarter earnings report today after markets close. Investors have pushed the online retailer’s stock price to record heights in recent weeks – more than $309 a share, and a market cap of $140 billion at one point – before backing off slightly to see Amazon close out Wednesday’s after-hours trading at about $300 a share.

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Despite the good vibes, there are problem areas. The company’s year-over-year growth of units sold has been decelerating, for example, which could be worrisome if it continues.

J.P. Morgan’s Doug Anmuth wrote in a research note that he is expecting some stabilization in the decelerating trend, but noted that, “we … believe sub-30% would be concerning to investors.” The launch of the Kindle in some giant new markets, such as India and China, could put the trend of deceleration to an end in the second half of the year.

Wall Street will also be keeping a close eye on the company’s international business, especially after eBay cited macroeconomic softness in Korea and parts of Europe when it reported earnings last week.

Investors will also likely look for some commentary on the same-day and next-day AmazonFresh grocery delivery business, which, after five-plus years of experimentation solely in Seattle, recently started serving the Los Angeles area. If Amazon can figure out how to at least break even on that resource-intensive business, it will likely then load up the delivery vehicles with higher-margin, higher-cost products.

But it will be a costly build-out, and could impact margins negatively in the short term. Similarly, fulfillment-center expansion and price cuts on AWS offerings could also drag down margins.

Amazon is forecasting revenue of $14.5 billion to $16.2 billion, with analysts expecting the company to register earnings per share of four cents to six cents on $15.7 billion in revenue.

Google’s Instant Translators Could Become The Universal Tongue

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Google likes to create things that gather data, which can be used to determine intent and for all kinds of profitable purposes. There’s no bigger fish in that pond than the Babel fish – that invention of Douglas Adams’ in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series that instantly translates one language to another to make communication seamless. That’s because Google would be processing literally everything a person says to another (at least while travelling), which adds up to a lot of mineable data.

Google is working on exactly that kind of invention, according to a report from The Times today. Hugo Barra, Google’s VP of Android Product Management, told The Times that Google plans to make real-time translation devices that will translate language for simple conversation across language barriers. Already the system is “near-perfect” between some languages, Barra says, especially in environments where there is no background noise to confuse the input detection.

Google already offers Google Translate, which offers text translation, as well as entire webpage translation on the web. The goal now is to make instant back-and-forth conversation translation a practical, usable reality that can make it possible for someone to accomplish everything they need to in an unfamiliar language without learning a lick of it. As with most sci-fi staples, however, Google says this is likely still several years away from becoming a shipping product.

For Google, whose efforts include Google Now, the personal assistant and automated digital planner that aspires to anticipate your every need, building an instant human translation engine is not a surprising move. What’s surprising is that it works “perfectly” in certain conditions right now, and that we could all be walking around talking into one in just a few years time, which means it’ll be here before we know it. Time is an illusion, after all; lunchtime doubly so.