Sharp Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., and six other makers of LCD panels have agreed to pay $388 million to settle price-fixing claims by direct purchasers of the products. Sharp, Japan's largest panel maker paid $105 million, Samsung, who are the world's largest TV maker, paid $82.7 million and then we have Chimei Innolux Corp who are Taiwan's largest maker of display panels, paying $78 million.
The price-fixing isn't just for a few years, according to a class action, or group lawsuit filed in 2007, this has been going on from 1999 to 2006. Where the companies allegedly fixed prices of the panels, driving up prices for purchasers who bought the screens or goods containing them.
The U.S. Justice Department investigation ended in guilty please from LG Display Co., Chunghwa Picture Tubes and Sharp. The companies agreed in 2008 and 2009 to pay $585 million in criminal fines.
This is something that should develop into 2012, but early reports are that the European Commission just announced a few hours ago that they have opened a formal antitrust proceeding to investigate whether a number of international e-book publishers have engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of e-books in Europe, "possibly with the help of Apple."
Publishers that were identified in the antitrust investigation include Hachette Livre (Lagardčre Publishing, France), Harper Collins (News Corp., USA), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., USA), Penguin (Pearson Group, United Kingdom) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany).
The Commission says it will investigate whether these publishers and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would "have the object or the effect of restricting competition" in the European Union or in the European Economic Area (EEA). The Commission isn't stopping there, either. They're also looking into "agency agreements" between the publishers and e-book retailers, in collaboration with the UK Office of Fair Trading.
Facebook are moving to some new [evil?] headquarters with a most interesting address. Apple have 1 Infinite Loop, Genentech have 1 DNA Way, Microsoft have 1 Microsoft Way and now Facebook have joined the club with 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, 94025.
As seen above on a new business card from a Facebook employee, the new address is baldly displayed. Facebook were looking at a name of 1 Social Circle, but that is pretty close to Google+ with its Circle friends list, which obviously led to Facebook choosing a different name.
Facebook are in the process of transitioning between their current Palo Alto buildings to the new Menlo Park HQ.
Apple and Samsung have butted heads once again, but this time, on U.S. soil. More precisely, a San Jose, Ca. court at the end of last week. In April of this year, Apple sued Samsung for "copying the look and feel" of its iPhone and iPad in its Galaxy range of phones and tablets.
Apple then expanded the suit to include another 13 models, such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Nexus S and Droid Charge. The full trial is set to go ahead on July 30, 2012, but Apple were pushing for a temporary sales injunction on the contested Samsung devices in the U.S. as that date arrived. It seems Apple are scared of Samsung, and so they should be.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh refused Apple's request, stating it was an "extraordinary remedy." She was unconvinced that Apple would suffer irreparable harm should Samsung continue to sell their devices pending the court case, where she continued:
Given the evidence Samsung presented, it seems likely that a major beneficiary of an injunction would be other smartphone manufacturers.
It looks like Apple retail stores are in for some competition from the fun-sounding creation from Google and Telstra: Androidland. Androidland was unveiled at Telstra's retail outlet in Bourke St, Melbourne, where its based in the 154 square metre space which brings together interactive technology, games and on-site experts to explain the features of Google's Android OS.
Executive Director of Telstra Mobile, Warwick Bray, said that its the first time a mobile carrier had teamed up with Google to create an Android-dedicated retail presence. He added:
Over the past 12 months we've seen a huge growth in the number of customers coming in-store and asking us about Android phones and tablets. With Androidland we wanted to create a retail environment like no other that helps us to answer customer questions in a fun, interactive way. The result is a world-first collaboration that goes beyond conventional product displays by allowing visitors to get hands on with a range of popular mobile services and apps found on Android devices.
Google is reportedly shopping around with multiple retailers and shipping couriers in an effort to create a service that would compete with Amazon's Prime one-day shipping option. Google could even offer same-day delivery on certain items, which would actually be better than Amazon's offering.
The way it differs to Amazon, is Google's service would not have them selling items directly to the customer, but rather allow them to handle the delivery process through deals and companies such as UPS and local couriers. When a customer is checking out at a particular retailer, Google's system would kick in and offer expedited delivery services.
WebOS, it's gone. WebOS, it's back. Now HP is set to announce the fate of WebOS within the fortnight, according to CEO Mig Whitman in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro.
Whitman hasn't hinted at what direction HP might take with WebOS, but she has said that HP have a team of roughly 600 people in limbo and that they need to have another operating system. WebOS has been up in the air, which I'm sure most of you all know about. HP's TouchPad tablet had its priced slashed to $99 and enjoyed some huge sales in that time.
HP did acquire Palm in April 2010 for the tidy sum of $1.2 billion, with WebOS a key part of that deal. HP have recently announced plans for Windows 8 tablets, which will arrive next year with Windows 8. More news as it comes.
Social game developer Zynga are set to start talking with potential public investors on Monday ahead of a mid-December IPO. Reuters have some early details, with reports of Zynga wanting to raise around $900 million by selling 10-percent of its stock at a range between $8 and $10 per share, for a valuation of around $10 billion, according to the report.
It was speculated previously that Zynga would be eyeing down the hallway of between $15 and $20 billion, but those estimates are quite off from what we've recently seen. What is contributing to the scale down in valuation? Well, Zynga have concerns over larger economic issues such as the ongoing financial crisis in Europe, and the poor reception that other tech IPOs have had recently.
Super Mario 3D Land hit the Nintendo 3DS and store shelves on November 11, and has since become the fastest-selling Mario game in Nintendo's history by selling more than 500,000 copies since launch.
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword which was released on the Nintendo Wii on November 20 has sold 535,000 copies, which makes it the fastest-selling Zelda game ever. Black Friday is filled with wonderful things, even with the way the world's economies are right now.
The two releases also spiked Nintendo 3DS and Wii systems, with the 3DS sales tripled (by 325-percent) compared with sales the week of November 6th, the week before Super Mario 3D Land launched out of its green pipe. The week of its debut, however, sales rose 49-percent from the previous week.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 may be in its seventh year of its life, but it has just closed the biggest sales week in the history of the console by selling more than 960,000 consoles in the U.S. alone during the week of Black Friday.
More than 960,000 consoles were sold, with 800,000 being sold in a 24 hour period. Kinect also saw a huge boost with more than 750,000 sensors being sold across the U.S. in both standalone packages as well as bundles. Microsoft aren't stopping there, come December 6th, the "next generation of TV entertainment will begin" with the availability of a new Xbox 360 experience, and the launch of the first group of custom entertainment apps on Xbox LIVE.
Black Friday has come and gone, so how did Apple fare? They were the fifth most-trafficked retailer on Black Friday, but were the only individual product brand to reach the top ranks among the major big-box retailers.
Apple were fifth only to some pretty large companies, consisting of Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Amazon. This is according to a comScore report that analyzed online shopping trends the day after Thanksgiving. Andrew Lipsman, an analyst at comScore said:
Apple has not historically been in the top five - in fact, this is the first time I can remember.
Rovio, the team behind the phenomenally successful Angry Birds, allegedly rejected a $2.25 billion acquisition offer from Zynga over the summer. The news comes from a New York Times piece of how Zynga's tough corporate culture may gush talent as soon as unhappy employees with stock make some money on the IPO.
Zynga also reportedly lost out on acquiring PopCap Games also, which it tried to wave a sweet billion dollars under the noses of the company. In the end, Electronic Arts took PopCap under their wing for just $750 million with performance bonuses.
For Zynga to offer PopCap games more money, and still lose out, it says a lot about their employee perception problem. I do like what Joystiq had to say with "At least Zynga execs can dry their tears with thousand dollar bills." Sums it up nicely.
Facebook will reportedly file its long-anticipated IPO between April and June of next year, according to The Wall Street Journal. The initial public offering will value Facebook at more than $100 billion, according to people "familiar with the matter".
Facebook is raising $10 billion in its IPO - which would be one of the largest ever, in a deal that might give Facebook a $100 billion valuation, something that is double when compared to a company such as HP.
Larry Yu, a spokesman for Facebook has said "We're not going to participate in speculation about an IPO". More on the IPO talk is available at the source.
Well, this certainly is something to be careful of! Thailand has warned Facebook users that they could face some serious jail time for charges of lese-majeste, or insults to the kind, queen, heir or regent.
Thailand's Information and Communication Technology Minster, Anudith Nakornthap, says that even though Facebook clicks of 'like' or 'share' are only done to show support for messages, they could actually violate laws that carry sentences of between 3 and 15 years for each charge.
Israel-based CDN startup Cotendo is about to be sold to Akamai to the tune of $300 million. There has been no comment from either Cotendo or Akamai, with Akamai giving the usual response of "our policy is not to respond to rumors".
Cotendo has 90 employees and lists Google, Facebook, Microsoft and AOL amongst its customers. In addition to a number of VC funds, Cotendo has Citrix and Juniper as shareholders and strategic partners. Cotendo's revenues for 2011 are expected to reach between $20 and $30 million.
One year ago, MIT and Akamai filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Cotendo, shortly after AT&T announced it will use Cotendo's technology.
er 1000 workers based in Shenzhen, China have gone on strike against their employer Jingmo Electronics Corporation (JEC), which supplies goods for companies such as Apple and IBM.
According to China Labor Watch (CLW), a New York-based watchdog for labor rights in China, and an advocate of ethical consumerism, "the motivation behind the strike was the factory's decision to make workers work nightly overtime."
CLW adds that the workers had been asked to work from 6pm to midnight and sometimes even up to 2am on top of the usual four to four and half day shifts from 7am to 11:30 or 1pm to 5pm. CLW adds "commonly worked anywhere from 100 to 200 hours of overtime a month," but the factory actually refused to let them put the hours in at the weekend because under Chinese labor law JEC would have had to double their wages.
Thanksgiving is a great time for not just consumers, but retailers. IBM reported that online Thanksgiving 2011 sales were up over 39-percent from last Thanksgiving, with mobile shopping on the rise. eBay and PayPal are seeing similar things, with PayPal Mobile announcing a 511-percent increase in global mobile payment volume when compared with the 2010 Thanksgiving.
On Thanksgiving in the U.S., consumers shopping through mobile via PayPal most frequently between 6pm and 7pm PST. Compared to the rest of the world where consumers shopped on mobile most frequently between 1pm and 2pm PST. There was more than a 350-percent increase in the number of global customers shopping through PayPal mobile on Thanksgiving compared to last year. These shoppers were mostly located in New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago.
Microsoft have some pretty decent Black Friday sales, with the Microsoft Store retail site putting up a page teasing their lineup of upcoming Black Friday sales, which start at 12am Pacific time Friday. A few highlights are a Samsung RC512 laptop sporting Windows 7: $499, normally $799!
Xbox Ultimate Gaming Bundle has $200 off, Kinect Sensor Bundle (with Fruit Ninja, Gunslinger and Kinect Adventures) is just $99, down from $149 and also included in the Black Friday sales is a free Windows Phone with a two-year service contract.
Europe has ruled that ISPs can't be forced to block pirate sites, NZBs and torrent users cry pirated tears of joy.nzb
This is some good news for those who are based in Europe, your ISP cannot be forced to monitor or block you from using the Web. A European court has ruled that record labels and film studios can't use the courts to instruct your broadband ISP to track or try to block you.
The European Court of Justice ruled:
EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court which requires an Internet service provider to install a filtering system with a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files.
ISPs have been the magnet of blame shifting from record labels, film studios and other owners of copyrighted music, movies or media, where they've tried to steer governments into making ISPs responsible for piracy. They've tried to argue that ISPs should record what you're doing online, and if they notice you downloading illegally accessed copyrighted material, courts should order the ISP to boot you off the Internet.
China's largest e-commerce firm, Alibaba.com, posted an 11.9-percent rise in quarterly net profit, which is their slowest growth in nearly two years, which has led to Alibaba.com raising conerts due to a weak trade outlook coming from debt worries in Europe and the US.
Alibaba.com's third-quarter results missed analysts forecasts and were attributed to a weak macroeconomic climate that led to a slower pace of customer additions. Dick Wei, an analyst with JPMorgan says:
They are focusing on the quality of suppliers and also improving the overall quality of products that they are offering, such as some of the newer services to help buyers to check the quality of products before they are shipped. If you look at customer growth, there are no new initiatives and growth is not that top priority at this point," Wei said. "Revenue will pick up again later in 2012 or 2013.
Microsoft back in 2008, had a very public failed takeover attempt of Yahoo, where they were willing to dish out $46 billion to purchase Yahoo. It failed, and now according to reports, have signed a confidentiality agreement with Yahoo which allows them to take a closer look at the struggling company's business as they explore various options for striking a deal.
Microsoft are joined by private-equity firms such as TPG Capital and Silver Lake, where they're going line for line over Yahoo's books and operations. Microsoft this time, is not looking for a complete takeover, but is only looking to help finance a bid as part of a consortium and not buy Yahoo outright, in a move to safeguard their ongoing web-search partnership with Yahoo.