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Facebook, as a way to remain relevant and continue collecting data, has launched the Facebook Card, which is essentially a reusable gift card that can hold balances at multiple different retailers. Facebook benefits from this by being able to collect real-world purchase information about users.
Instead of just featuring a single balance that can be deducted from at the different retailers, the card will store separate amounts for each location. For instance, you can have $10 at Target, $5 at Jamba Juice, and $25 at Olive Garden on the card at one time.
"We're starting this early rollout as another way for people to instantly send their friends gifts through Facebook," a company spokesperson told CNET. "Each gift is a set value at a particular retailer, chosen by the sender."
Currently, only Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora, and Target are supported by the card, though that will likely change fairly quickly. The Facebook Card is a natural extension to Facebook's whole Gifts product, which allows users to send friends and family real-world gifts on birthdays and other occasions, rather than just writing on their wall.
The Mac Pro will no longer be sold in Europe after March 1. The issue apparently stems from new regulatory standards that Apple's Mac Pro fails to meet. It's not clear which standard isn't met by the machine, but Apple apparently doesn't want to update it to meet the standards.
Resellers will be able to continue selling the Mac Pro beyond March 1, though stock will not be replenished. Final orders for Mac Pro units must be placed with Apple before February 18 so that they can be delivered before March 1. The following letter was sent to retailers:
As of March 1, 2013, Apple will no longer sell Mac Pro in EU, EU candidate and EFTA countries because these systems are not compliant with Amendment 1 of regulation IEC 60950-1, Second Edition which becomes effective on this date. Apple resellers can continue to sell any remaining inventory of Mac Pro after March 1. Apple will take final orders for Mac Pro from resellers up until February 18th for shipment before March 1 2013. Countries outside of the EU are not impacted and Mac Pro will continue to be available in those areas.
Apple will likely make sure the promised refresh of the Mac Pro, coming later this year, will meet the European Union's new standards. It's likely not cost effective to redesign the current machine to meet the specifications, as the Mac Pro doesn't sell in high quantities.
According to the latest research from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, 59% of iPhone users spend over $100 a month on their wireless bills. This is the biggest percentage of any other group of smartphone users.
Windows Phone users' bills are nearly as much, but 56% of Windows Phoners (is that a thing? well, it is now) spend more than $100 per month. Android numbers see 53% of users spending more than $100 per month. This brings us to BlackBerry - and not RIM, remember? - who have the lowest average monthly smartphone bill, where just 40% spend more than $100 per month, and 10% spend under $25 per month.
Apple has posted up a job listing for a Plastics Design Engineer, and that has, of course, sparked questions about whether or not Apple is planning to produce a budget iPhone using a plastic case. The job listing is looking for a Manufacturing Design Engineer with a focus in Advanced Plastic Tooling and Process.
Identify, develop and launch new tooling and process capabilities in support of new Apple product developments. Areas of focus will be "non-traditional" Apple plastic processing such as thermoforming, foam molding, blow molding, etc., and their application to new Apple products. The successful candidate will have demonstrated history of bringing new process and tooling technologies through a full development cycle and launch into high volume production.
Of course, an engineer hired at this late date would be unlikely to be working on a device rumored to launch later this year, though they could be working on future designs. Most of Apple's products have utilized aluminum, though plastic is still used in keyboards, Apple TV, Airport Extreme, and other accessories.
If you happen to be a Manufacturing Design Engineer, you can find the job listing on Apple's website.
Facebook reported their fourth quarter financial results today. For the fourth quarter, Facebook saw increased revenues, yet experienced decreased profits. Part of the reason profits were down is the amount of investing that Facebook is doing to build an empire and plan for the long-run.
Revenue was up to $1.59 billion, a 40 percent increase from last year. Wall Street estimates had placed revenue at $1.52 billion, so Facebook performed better-than-expected. Revenue, however, was down 79 percent from last year as a result of increased investment spending.
"2012 was a big year for us," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO on Wednesday's earnings call with analysts and journalists. "There are now more people using Facebook on mobile every day than on desktop."
Facebook's monthly active users climbed to 1.06 billion by the end of 2012. Facebook drew in an average of 618 million daily active users in December 2012. Costs and expenses were up 82 percent from Q4 2011 to $1.06 billion.
Since 1993, California has had a tax deduction that allowed startup investors who invested in small businesses to not pay taxes on the money made from selling stock, as long as they reinvested that money in more small businesses. This deduction was aimed at encouraging angel investors and others to invest in small businesses.
Well, the tax break has been ruled unconstitutional because it benefits companies based in California over other states. This ruling came about when Frank Cutler sued back in 1998. The Franchise Tax Board has agreed to honor the ruling, and removed the deduction this past December, applying it retroactively back to 2008.
This means investors who sold their stock in a small business after 2008 will have to pay up taxes that they never thought they would. It's a bit unfair to apply the change retroactively, at least in my opinion, and it should have some consequences and ramifications that extend beyond just this $120 million in back taxes.
Users of Microsoft products and Google's online calendar and contact services can breathe a sigh of relief. Google has agreed to Microsoft's six-month extension request, meaning the Exchange ActiveSync protocol will continue to function until July 31, rather than being phased out today.
During this time period, Microsoft will be working on a confirmed fix. In other words, Microsoft has decided to support CalDAV and CardDAV, Google's new method of syncing data from their online services. Microsoft has said they will "enable Windows Phone users to continue to connect to Google services after July 31, 2013."
Microsoft had tried to move users to their Outlook.com product, saying that it would continue working without a hitch. It's good to see two tech giants working together for the better of the consumer.
LG have released their quarterly and year-end earnings, and we're seeing the South Korean electronics giant post a net profit of $80.75 million. Revenues overall saw a decline of 6% from last year, but operating profit soared from $342.06 million for 2011, to $1.01 billion last year.
LG's TV division saw record sales and a full-year profit of over $480 million, while their cellphone division revenue for Q4 was the highest throughout 2012, where they shipped 8.6 million smartphones.
I'm sure that can be contributed toward the Optimus G and Nexus 4 handsets, which are both stellar devices.
The Apple versus Samsung lawsuit just got more interesting, with Judge Lucy Koh handing down some of the first rulings in the case's post-trial proceedings. Koh granted an Apple motion to invalidate some claims of a Samsung patent, but denied five others.
Koh found th at Samsung did not act willfully in infringing on Apple's patents, which means Apple's chance of getting triple damages associated with the suit are now gone. Koh rejected Samsung's request for a new trial, too. What happens from here is anyone's guess, but we could see a reduction in the $1.049 billion infringement verdict, but she hasn't offered any rulings on that just yet.
You can read much, much more on it here.
When you've got nothing nice to say, the rule is to say nothing nice at all, so it looks like Amazon are playing this game with Kindle sales, as their lips are still sealed shut. On the flip side, their e-book business is churning through money like it's nothing.
Amazon's e-book business is now a very tidy "multi-billion dollar category" for the US-based retail giant. Amazon had sold out of their e-reader last year, with Amazon's CFO, Tom Szkutak, saying during their earnings call yesterday that if they didn't sell out of their Kindle's, they would've had much higher sales numbers - all without unveiling just how many they sold.
Szkutak was pushed by an analyst who wondered why the company's revenue was lower than expected for Q4, where the CFO cited a number of reasons - sales of consumer electronics fell short of expectations, as well as the shortages of the Kindle Paperwhite. He said:
We are thrilled to have Paperwhite in our lineup - it's the best e-reader out there, but we couldn't keep up with demand. We would have had more sales in Q4 if we could keep up with demand. The team is working hard to have good stock going forward on that product.