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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 10

Google offers $1 million prize for designing a better power inverter

Google is offering a new prize for anyone who can build a better power inverter. The price is a cool $1 million and it is being offered as part of the little box challenge. To win designers need to build a better small-scale power inverter than is available today.

 

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What Google and the other firms backing the prize are looking for is a kW-scale power inverter with a density of at least 50W per cubic inch. Some believe that a power inverter of this type will allow the unlocking of billions of dollars of commercial value from the electric grid.

 

Google says, "We believe that inverters will become increasingly important to our economy and environment as solar PV, batteries, and similar power sources continue their rapid growth. More broadly, similar forms of power electronics are everywhere: in laptops, phones, motors drives, electric vehicles, wind turbines, to give just a few examples. We expect that the innovations inspired by this prize will have wide applicability across these areas, increasing efficiency, driving down costs, and opening up new uses cases that we can't imagine today. It also doesn't hurt that many of these improvements could make our data centers run more safely and efficiently."

Continue reading 'Google offers $1 million prize for designing a better power inverter' (full post)

EA's revenue climbs 8% this quarter to $1.21 billion

Electronic Arts posted its results for the first quarter of the fiscal 2015 year (the three-month period that ended on June 30) where the company saw a net revenue of $1.21 billion. This is an 8% increase compared to EA's revenue in the previous quarter, which was $1.12 billion.

 

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When comparing to year-over-year results, it's an increase of 27.9%. The company has also increased its digital revenue by a little over 9% in the last three months too, increasing this revenue from $491 million to $536 million. EA's net income dropped 8.7% for the last quarter, dropping from $367 million in Q4 of fiscal 2014 to $335 million.

 

If we compare it to the same quarter of last year, EA's net income has increased by a whopping 50.9%. The company took the time to announce two delays for two of its biggest franchises, with Dragon Age: Inquisition being pushed back a month into November, and delaying Battlefield: Hardline into 2015.

Britain decriminalizes online game, music and movie piracy

Starting next year, the British government will decriminalize online video game, music and movie piracy, as well as totally removing harsher punishment plans after it has considered them unworkable. In 2015, file sharers will be sent four warning letters telling them of their activity being illegal, but after the fourth letter, no more correspondence will take place.

 

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The British government has called this new scheme the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), and has arrived after many years of discussions between ISPs, British politicians, and the movie and music industries. This has involved the UK's biggest providers - BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky - with each of them signing up for VCAP, leading the way for the smaller providers to soon join them.

 

The newly installed scheme will replace anti-piracy measures that are already in place across the country, which included cutting users' Internet connections, as well as creating an ever-growing database of known file sharers. Chief Executive of the BPI, Geoff Taylor talked about VCAP, where he said that: "persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection". He added: "VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It's about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice".

Apple posts hefty profits thanks to iPhone sales, growth in China

That infamous hawker of hype and high-price handsets, Apple Corporation, has just posted its quarterly profits - of 7.75 billion dollars, up a very respectable 12 percent compared to the same time last year.

 

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It claimed the runaway success of its latest iPhone models is to thank for the strong growth, as well as a swelling of its business in China, where revenue was boosted 28 percent to reach 5.9 billion dollars. The company brought in over 10.3 billion in operational cash flow, it said. "Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters," Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said in a statement. "We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can't wait to introduce."

 

For now it looks like the hype train is showing no signs of stopping, as the entire blogosphere speculates on what's next for the iconic iPhone. What's a little less on everyone's lips, though, is the iPad - sales of which happened to plummet for a second quarter in a row, down by a pretty substantial nine percent to 13.3 million.

Microsoft revenues do well, but Q4 profit hit by Nokia handset buyout

Microsoft has announced its fiscal fourth quarter earnings, and although it's in profit, the company claims it took a hit from Nokia's handset business.

 

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Quarterly profit was $4.61 billion, down from $4.96 billion for the same quarter last year. That leaves it at 55 cents per share, quite a touch short of Wall Street's expectations of 60 cents per share on average. And while the acquisition of Nokia's handset business may have impacted on Microsoft's quarterly profits, revenues reached $23.38 billion, beating estimates of $23 billion, with the company largely having Nokia sales to thank for this. Enterprise also performed well.

 

"We are driving growth with disciplined decisions, bold innovation, and focused execution," Satya Nadella, new-ish Microsoft CEO said. "I'm proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off - our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate." Executive veep Amy Hood said in a statement that as the company enters fiscal 2015, it's "focused on aligning" its resources towards strategic investments - perhaps referring to Microsoft's recent decision to make one of the largest job cuts in the history of the tech industry - of a staggering 18,000 people.

Tech companies massively jack up prices outside the USA, report finds

Consumers for electronic goods outside America pay hundreds more than their US counterparts, according to a new report.

 

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British consumer rights magazine Which? found that manufacturers and stores are pushing up the price for tech in the country, including almost 1,000 dollars more for a Samsung TV. Americans buying an Apple Macbook Pro 13in will get their models 600 dollars cheaper than on the other side of the Atlantic, the report claims. Sony's PS4 or Microsoft's Xbox One were 160 dollars cheaper in the States.

 

Which exec director Richard Lloyd pushed manufacturers to explain why their prices are hiked so much abroad. "UK consumers are getting a raw deal by paying up to hundreds of pounds more for the same tech products on sale in the US," he said. "Manufacturers should play fair and explain why consumers are paying more for buying in the UK."

Netflix to sell gift cards in some stores in the US and 40 other count

Gift cards are the go to gifts for many people around the world for birthdays and holidays. Gift cards might be impersonal, but many people like to get and give them. Word has surfaced that Netflix is gearing up to sell gift cards in stores in 40 different countries around the world where it operates.

 

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The gift cards will be available in select stores in the US, Germany, Mexico, Canada, and other places. The gift cards will allow users to pay for Netflix service without having to use a credit card for sign up. A note from Netflix about its gift card plans included an image of a $30 gift card; the service starts at $7.99 monthly.

 

"In mature markets, gift cards will extend our brand presence and make it easier to access Netflix," the company said in its letter. "In newer markets, gift cards help build the brand and provide an easier alternative for consumers to join Netflix in markets with developing online payments."

Continue reading 'Netflix to sell gift cards in some stores in the US and 40 other count' (full post)

Yahoo reportedly drops over $200 million to buy analytics firm Flurry

Sources are reporting that Yahoo has made a significant purchase spending over $200 million to purchase mobile analytics company Flurry. Flurry is more than a mobile analytics firm and has its hand in mobile advertising. Sources claim that the price paid for Flurry could be in the $200 to $300 million range.

 

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Rumors had been swirling that Flurry was on the market with one source indicating it was looking for $700 to $800 million. If the sources in the Yahoo purchase are correct, the purchase price came nowhere near that price.

 

So far, no official confirmation from Yahoo or Flurry has been made on the deal. Flurry was founded in 2005 and is one of the largest firms in mobile app analytics.

Sony Walkman ZX1 selling well in Japan despite $700 price

Audiophiles are willing to spend extra money to get products that better reproduce the music they love to hear. We see this all the time with some folks willing to fork out hundreds and hundreds of dollars for things like headphones and music players. Most of us think of the iPod when shopping for a music player, but audiophiles have another device they are buying in Japan.

 

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Sony launched the thick Walkman ZX1 in Japan a while back. The ZX1 is a niche product and sells for a lot more than your typical iPod. Despite having a price of $700 in Japan, it is said to be selling very well. The secret to success for the ZX1 is its support for a high-end, high-resolution audio format.

 

That audio format is 24-bit 192kHz FLAC audio files. Sony will have some competition in the market for supporting this format with the Kickstarter backed PonoPlayer due to land in October supporting the same format. As of now, the Sony ZX1 is available in Japan and a few other locations in Asia, no word on rolling the device out to the US or other countries has been offered.

Verizon Smart Rewards program requires ad tracking opt in

Verizon has launched a new rewards program to help encourage users to do things like pay bills and sign up for new Verizon services. The idea is that each time you pay your bill on time or up your data plan, you will be given a specific number of reward points that can later be redeemed for gift cards.

 

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On the surface, this sounds like a pretty good deal, but reports indicate that in the fine print Verizon Smart Rewards also requires users to opt into Verizon Selects. If users don't realize that opt in is required, they may not realize that by default location data and web surfing data is tracked by Verizon.

 

Verizon uses that data to target the ads people see on their smartphones. The good news is that you can leave Verizon Selects and still use Smart Rewards after signing up, but you will lose the extra rewards points you get for enrolling in Verizon Selects.

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