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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 107

Sharp to slash 5,000 jobs will refocus on smartphone displays, large HDTVs and 4K TVs

Sharp will reportedly announce a three-year recovery plan next week, and will slash 5,000 jobs as part of this recovery plan in order to turn the struggling Japanese company around.

 

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The Asahi Shimbun has reported that the number of directors and advisory positions will be slashed in half, with the number of positions at Sharp's main office in Osaka, Japan to be reduced by 50%. There will be layoffs in China and Malaysia, also. In order to increase profits, Sharp will refocus their efforts to producing more smartphone screens, big HDTVs and 4K TVs.

Activision CEO warns PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 sales might start slow like Wii U

During Activision's recent earnings call, CEO Bobby Kotick warned that the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 might suffer slow sales, much like the Wii U has been experiencing since its launch last November. Kotick adds that new competition from smartphones and tablets could play into customer demand.

 

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We continue to face the uncertainties of the console transition. There are still many unknown factors, such as pricing, launch dates and quantities, the level of first-party support and, importantly, consumer purchase intent in a world where consoles are no longer just competing with each other, but also with new platforms, such as smartphones and tablets.

 

In addition, the newest console, the Wii U, has had a very slow start. All of these factors further heighten our concerns heading into the back half of the year, particularly during the very competitive fourth quarter.

 

It's worth noting that NVIDIA's upcoming Tegra 4 is capable of running games with graphics similar to those that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 launched with. And with NVIDIA's Grid technology, those graphics can be improved to levels higher than the next-generation consoles are believed to be capable of.

 

Ultimately, the consoles' success depends on launch games and customer reception. Sony and Microsoft need to provide features that aren't available on alternatives at a price where consumers don't have to think too much about their budget.

Canalys' reports that Android has 75% of smartphone shipments in Q1 2013

Canalys' latest report states that Android made up 75.6% of all smartphone shipments during Q1 2013, an increase from the 69.2% for the previous quarter.

 

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Canalys estimates that 216.3 million smartphones were shipped in the three-month period, which is around the same number shipped for the previous three-month period ending 2012. Samsung leads the shipment, making up around one-third of all smartphone shipments, with Apple making up 17% of the lot. Huawei, LG and ZTE are all next, with less than 5% of the market each.

Department of Defense forces 3D-printed gun plans off the Internet

The Liberator, the world's first 3D-printed guns has had its plans of construction removed from the Internet. The Department of Defense (DoD) had the plans removed from Defense Distributed.

 

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Defense Distributed, founded by Cody Wilson, had plans for The Liberator on his website, allowing anyone to access the plans and if they owned a 3D printer, to make the firearm from plastic. Over 100,000 copies of the plans were downloaded before the DoD slammed the ban hammer down. A banner on the website says:

 

[Defense Distributed's] files are being removed from public access at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.

Continue reading 'Department of Defense forces 3D-printed gun plans off the Internet' (full post)

Judge rules Google must turn over documents to Apple in Samsung case

A judge has ruled that Google must turn over information about how it searched its documents to Apple. Judge Paul S. Grewal ruled in the latest Samsung and Apple fight that Google's argument of the discovery being too burdensome was not the case and ordered Google to turn over the requested documents within 48 hours. Google had previously argued Apple was not entitled to the documents.

 

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He also noted the irony of Google's argument: "The court cannot help but note the irony that Google, a pioneer in searching the Internet, is arguing that it would be unduly burdened by producing a list of how it searched its own files." Documents must be provided to Apple within 48 hours.

 

Grewal argues that the documents will aid in discovering whether or not Google's production was sufficient. The latest lawsuit is between Apple and Samsung and does not directly involve Google. Google, however, is being brought into it by Apple who asserts that most of the infringing functions are part of Android.

NVIDIA's Q1 earnings better than expected, stock climbs in after-hours trading

NVIDIA has announced its first-quarter earnings. The earnings ended up beating out expectations, but still aren't as good as last quarters. NVIDIA pulled in a total of $77.9 million in profit, which is down 55 percent from last quarter. It is, however, up 29 percent year-over-year.

 

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Revenue came in at a total of $954.7 million. This follows the same trend as the profit: down from last quarter, up year-over-year. Tegra sales were down as NVIDIA works to transition to the newer Tegra 4. NVIDIA hopes Tegra 4 will power growth for the company this year.

 

Investors are happy with how NVIDIA is performing, along with their $1 billion buyback and dividend program. In after-hours trading, NVIDIA's stock has risen one percent to $14.05.

Sony doesn't expect to lose money on the PlayStation 4 at launch, unlike what happened with PS3

Sony has said that it doesn't expect to lose money when it launches the PlayStation 4. Unlike the PlayStation 3, the new next-generation console features mostly standard PC hardware, making it both cheaper and more readily available. Additionally, Sony didn't have to spend money developing the hardware as someone already did that for them.

 

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According to Sony CFO Masaru Kato, Sony expects to not incur a major loss at launch. On the conference call held earlier today when they announced a profit for the first time in five years, Kato said, "Unlike PS3, we are not planning a major loss to be incurred with the launch of PS4."

 

At the time we developed PS3, we made a lot of in-house investments to develop the chip, the Cell chip. Development of the chip saw the silicon processing and all the facilities invested by us ourselves. But this time, yes we have a team working on chip development, but we already have existing technology to incorporate and also product investment and all the facilities will now be invested by our partners, other foundries, so we don't have to make all the investment in-house.

 

We are still waiting on actual pictures of the console, but from what Ubisoft developers are saying, the console is quite the capable machine. We have yet to see what Microsoft has in store for the next Xbox, but we believe from rumors that it will feature a similar PC-like hardware scheme.

RumorTT: Microsoft considering $1 billion bid to buy Barnes & Noble's Nook business

Microsoft is already a major investor in Barnes & Noble's Nook business, and now rumors are coming in that the Redmond, Washington based giant is considering buying the Nook business outright for a reported $1 billion.

 

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Last year Microsoft invested $300 million in the Nook in exchange for a 16.8% stake. Now with reports that Barnes & Noble is planning to pull out of the hardware business altogether, it only makes sense for Microsoft to swoop in and buy the hardware business outright.

 

This would put Microsoft in direct competition with the likes of Amazon and even Google's Play Books. The big question is whether or not Redmond will keep the device running Android, or will we see a Windows 8 version of the Nook released. Would Microsoft even keep the Nook branding? Only time will tell I guess.

OUYA raises $15 million in new funding, said to help with game development and retail sales

The crowdfunding world was blown away when the OUYA raised more than $8.5 million during its Kickstarter campaign for the tiny Android gaming console.

 

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This morning OUYA announced that it has secured an additional $15 million in funding from investors to help with game development, as well as its upcoming retail launch.

 

Investors include Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. Other investors include the Mayfield Fund, NVIDIA, Shasta Ventures and Occam Partners. The company has also announced that general partner Kleiner Perkins and former EA executive Bing Gordon will be joining OUYA's board of directors.

 

The company is well into the shipment process for all of its Kickstarter backers and is preparing its retail launch in the coming months.

New Zealand government announces that software is no longer patentable

The New Zealand government has passed a bill that prevents software from being patented in the country any more. The New Zealand Institute of IT Professionals praised the decision saying that it would lead to innovation on a large scale.

 

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The new policy was part of an amendment to the existing patent bill, which redefines three basic principles:

 

  1. A computer program is not an invention and not a manner of manufacture for the purposes of this Act.
  2. Subsection (1) prevents anything from being an invention or a manner of manufacture for the purposes of this Act only to the extent that a claim in a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such.
  3. A claim in a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such if the actual contribution made by the alleged invention lies solely in it being a computer program.

 

I see this as a major step forward and I am sure that the folks over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation are ecstatic this morning. However, not all is as it seems.

 

The bill still allows the patenting of software when it can be tied to a specific piece of hardware, such as Apple iOS (iPhone and iPad), or the software that runs your Samsung Smart TV. So, while this is a step in the right direction, there is still much room for improvement.

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