Chip designer SiFive is one of the leading companies producing processors based on the RISC-V instruction set, an open standard that’s designed as an alternative to proprietary chip architectures like x86 and ARM. But a new report suggests that several companies including Intel have expressed interest in buying and/or investing in the company, although nothing is official yet and it’s unclear if any deals will happen.

SiFive HiFive Unmatched

In other news from leak-land, details about Microsoft’s second-gen Surface Duo dual-screen mobile device are starting to appear (honestly I’m a little surprised that Microsoft is working on one at all, given the relatively poor reception for the original). And Facebook may be planning a new hardware product – a smartwatch with detachable cameras.

Facebook’s track record in hardware is a bit hit or miss. The company is a major player in the virtual reality space, but only because it bought Oculus, which was already one of the leaders in that space. And the Facebook Portal smart display isn’t awful. But mobile devices have been iffier – once upon a time, the company partnered with HTC on a Facebook-centric smartphone. There was no sequel, and HTC has largely receded from the smartphone space since then.

Maybe the company’s next hardware will fare better?

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  1. I use Dark Sky on an iPad (have an Android phone) and went to check how Apple Weather would work for me. It turns out it’s only on the iPhone and Apple Watch; they literally don’t make an in-house weather app for iPads.

  2. I’d expect this or maybe next Duo to be detachable. So you have main half, and second one with weak CPU, mid level camera, and BT-type connection when detached.

  3. From the product photo on the linked page, it looks like the stylus on the new Moto Stylus is just a simple capacitive one, and doesn’t support pressure sensitivity or anything. It’s weird to me how they’d build real stylus support into the Moto Z4, but not market that aspect of it, and then go on to actively market stylus phones that only support the capactive ones.

  4. When Intel buys a company, their main motivation is to get more fab business. I wonder if it was an all stock offer with a holding period before the shares can be sold. I think they should take the offer and then do another startup making a similar RISCV chip.

  5. Microsoft is either falling victim to their usual sunken-cost fallacy (Zune, Windows RT, etc), or maybe they have a legit planned roadmap to making the Surface Duo successful.

    However, something tells me that there will still be mass objections to the price tag. I don’t think Microsoft can successfully market a phone in this price range. They just don’t have the distribution channels, promotional efforts, and carrier relationships needed for it.

    Samsung can sell a $1200+ flagship smartphone because they have every single carrier on the planet selling their phones, and they have huge promotions and sales incentives offered to retailers (trade-in offers, free accessories, etc).

    Microsoft has almost nothing established outside of a few carriers in the US only. I’m in Canada, and the Surface Duo is carried by none of our wireless carriers, so theres no hope of ever getting any kind of incentive for buying it. If I want to buy one, I have to order it from the Microsoft Store, or walk into a Best Buy and pay full sticker price. However, I can go buy an S21 on-contract for significantly less than retail price through one of several possible promos available.

    1. I’m not sure if it’s the same situation in Canada but over in the UK buying a phone on contract is typically more expensive than buying outright. It’s a network provider taking out a loan on your behalf to buy the phone after all, there’s a cost to that. I’ve been eyeing up a Samsung galaxy fold z2 and could pay £2400 for it through my network with an effective phone price of £1920 or I could have bought it from amazon Germany back when it cost £950 and got a sim only contract saving myself a grand. Currently there’s no deal on so it’s £1300 on amazon but that’s still a significant saving.

      1. With most carriers here in Canada, you can usually find financing options that have no cost of borrowing. However, it’s not really clear to me if that is perhaps exclusively for some of the flagships that have manufacturer promos.

        But you can find some promotions that actually bring the total cost below MSRP. As an example, currently I can get an S21 5G ($1400 CAD outright from the Carrier, or around $1000 CAD on Amazon) for $35/mo X 24mo = $840.

        Also, Samsung usually offers trade-in promos in Canada around the time of a flagship launch. I’ve done this in the past, and saved $250 off the price of a phone.