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A new report has been published by TechCrunch that suggest that Facebook is in acquisition talks with solar-powered drone manufacturer, Titan Aerospace. Facebook is considering the acquisition as an affordable way to bring internet to countries with little useful infrastructure and would be part of its Internet.org initiative.
Titan Aerospace makes small aerial drones that are capable of up to five years of non-stop flight thanks to their extreme efficiency and solar power source. The report says that Facebook would used these drones to blanket the world with free Wi-Fi and would start with 11,000 of the Solara 60 models flying high over Africa to bring internet access to those with no hope of having access anytime soon. The deal is reportedly worth about $60 million, which is pocket change when you consider that Facebook just recently purchased WhatsApp for $16 billion.
One interesting aspect that I could see the drones being used in is inside countries where the government has restricted access to the internet, or where the countries infrastructure has been compromised due to rioting, fighting or war. With the smaller Solara 60 drones being cheaper, there is no reason that a company with deep pockets such as Facebook could not deploy 100,000 of them within just a few years, and give the entire world cheap or free internet access.
U.S. electronics store RadioShack announced it plans to close up to 1,100 of its stores in the United States, as the company continues to struggle in a fight for survival.
RadioShack has a large retail footprint in the United States, with 90 percent of US shoppers located within a few minutes of at least one store.
"Our focus on the brand, our operations, and the in-store experience has been unfolding in parallel with a strategic review of our store footprint," said Joseph Magnacca, RadioShack CEO, in a press statement. "Over the past few months, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our portfolio from many angles - location, area demographics, lease life and financial performance - in order to consolidate our store base into fewer locations while maintaining a strong presence in each market."
Information about which stores - and how many jobs will be lost - still hasn't been disclosed by RadioShack.
If you have been around long enough to remember a world when most people didn't have mobile phones and we relied on a home phone and an answering machine to stay in contact, you will appreciate a new patent Apple has been granted. One of the things that people liked about answering machines is that you can listen to the messages being left as a way to screen calls. That is one thing you can't do on a smartphone.
Apple has been granted patent by the USPTO that is a patent acquired via the Rockstar Consortium when it purchased Nortel patents a while back. The patent shows a way that the smartphone user can listen in to a caller leaving them a voice mail in real-time.
The system covered in the patent shows a way that a conference call is set up on-the-fly between the caller, voice mail server, and the phone owner. The user's phone mic is muted to keep the listening in on the down low.
One of the hottest categories in the tech world today is wearable devices. There are a number of wearables on the market ranging from smartwatches to glasses like Google Glass. With wearables set to grow significantly, a new rumor is circulating that Intel has made a big purchase to get more wearable tech in its portfolio.
Intel is rumored to have purchased a company called Basis. Basis makes wearable watches that record fitness activities for the user. Basis was rumored to have been shopping itself around with Apple and Google among the interested firms.
The purchase has reportedly been made by Intel with one source saying the deal was worth $100 million. A different source claims that Intel paid closer to $150 million for Basis. Basis currently has about 7% of the wearable fitness device market.
Today Kickstarter announced that it has surpassed over $1 billion in crowd-funding pledges since the site first launched on the 28th April of 2009. Speaking of that date, users pledged a mere $1084 to just 7 featured projects in the first 24 hours the site was live. Fast forward to March 13th, 2013, just 4 years later, and more than 54,187 backers committed to more than $4,029,585 to 1,985 projects in a single day.
To celebrate this milestone in Kickstarter's history, the company released a nifty micro-site that unveils some interesting facts about the crowd-funding websites biggest and best days as well as its most popular backers. Wednesday has been the most popular day of the week to back a project with more than $160 million pledged. Sunday seems to be the least popular day to back projects with just over $100 million pledged. $619 million of the $1 billion was pledged by returning backers, and 1,689,979 people have backed more than one project. Interestingly enough 15,932 people have backed more than 50 projects on Kickstarter.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has a strong stance on people who don't believe in climate change, so much so that he recommends you "get out of the stock" if you don't believe in human-made climate problems.
During Apple's annual shareholder meeting on Friday, not only did the Apple CEO claim that its competitors "getting ripped off left, right and sideways", but he pushed that Apple is concerned about the environment. Cook rejected the suggestion from a conservative, Washington D.C.-based think tank that the company has given up on environmental initiatives that don't contribute to Apple's bottom line.
The organization, the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) hasn't thought highly of Apple's increasing reliance on green energy, or seeing Cook hire the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, to take control of sustainability efforts for Apple. Ahead of meeting, NCPPR General Counsel, Justin Danhof said: "We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards. This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender".
Cook didn't take it nicely, reminding Danhof that even though Apple has plenty of cash reserves, it is not in the business of caving to shareholders demands, especially those driven by politics. Cook said: "We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive. We want to leave the world better than we found it". The Apple CEO said that anyone who finds the company's environmental dedication either ideologically or economically ill-advised, that they can "get out of the stock".
Apple held its annual meeting yesterday, where CEO Tim Cook had some interesting things to say about the company, its products, and its competitors. Investors and Silicon Valley executives are wondering if Apple is able to transform the technology world with a new device, with rivals taking big pieces of its market share away.
Cook said during Apple's annual meeting: "We're working on some things that are extensions of things you can see and some that you can't see". Cook was referring to the 32% increase in research and development spending in 2013. Cook was hit with a question regarding Apple's innovation, but said that the company preferred to not talk about products that are in development, as it didn't want to tip off the competition.
Cook said: "you an see we're getting ripped off left, right and sideways". Cook took some jabs at Google, saying that most Android users are still using older versions of Google's mobile OS, which poses a security threat. Maybe Cook forgot about the hotpot of disaster iOS has been in recently with security. He did compare it to iOS, where the Apple CEO stated that 89% of users on iOS-based devices have the most recent version of the software.
Sony has been having a fire sale of sorts lately in an effort to make up for recent financial losses, and today a new report has surfaced that says the company is in talks with an unnamed buyer with the intent of selling off its old headquarters located in Tokyo. This is the same building where Sony's founders, Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka worked on Walkman and Trinitron prototypes that made the company the electronics giant it is today.
The sell could net sony about $145 million to add to the funds it earned last year from selling buildings in New York City and Osaka Japan, but the move is not popular with Tokyo locals who think that the company should remain in its birth city. This sell off comes just after the company sold its VAIO PC business just weeks ago, and the one thing we should all take from this is that Sony is hurting and this is most likely not the last part of its business we will see sold this year.
We take a grilling seriously here in Texas. Some people prefer charcoal, some prefer gas, whatever you use you need to amok sure you have enough of it. It's easy enough to look in the bag and see if you have charcoal and shake the lighter fluid bottle. It's not so easy to tell if you have enough propane left in your tank.
That means that more than a few grillers end up running out of propane mid cookout and cursing the fact that most grills and tanks have no way to tell how much fuel is left. A new propane tank system called Refuel has turned up that will prevent you from ever running out again.
The tank system is app enabled and the app will tell you how much gas is left in the tank. The system has a waterproof scale that sits under the propane tank and sends data to the Wink mobile app. The app will tell you how full the tank is and how long you can keep cooking based on how much you used in the past.
Mt.Gox was the third largest Bitcoin exchange in the world, and was also the most controversial as well. A few weeks ago the service suspended all withdrawal transactions citing a known bug in the system as the culprit, and just a week later announced that all trading and transactions would return to normal soon. Unfortunately that last statement proved to be noting more than hot air, when the service completely went down a few days ago.
Today Mt. Gox, a Japanese-based company, filed for bankruptcy protection and announced that it is more than $60 million in debt. Today in a Tokyo court, officials from the company said that it has lost more than 750,000 bitcoins stored in its system owned by customers and that 100,000 of its own were gone as well. At the current going rate for a single bitcoin ($574.79 via Coinbase.) the a coins lost value at almost $450 million for customers and more than half a billion dollars total.
In the last few days Bitcoin prices have fallen several percent due to the news of Mt. Gox failing. During the court appearance Mt. Gox founder Mark Karpelès said: "There was some weakness in the system, and the bitcoins have disappeared. I apologize for causing trouble." Unfortunately for thousands of customers, simple apologies will not return the millions they lost because Mt. Gox failed to acknowledge a bug in the system that had existed for years. Bankruptcy will save the company from debt, but there should be negligence charges filed in my opinion. To let a devistating software bug exist for that long while making hundreds of millions in revenue is simply unacceptable.