The European Commission isn't happy with LG Electronics, Panasonic, Phillips, Samsung, Technicolor, and Toshiba. They allege that representatives of the companies met regularly in places like Amsterdam, Paris, and Rome for "green meetings." These meetings normally involved a round of golf.
The EC say that the representatives met up to engage in price fixing on televisions and computer monitors that made use of cathode-ray tubes. The EC claims that the companies basically ran cartels from 1996 to 2006. Phillips saw the largest fine, having to pay 313.4 million euros, with LG having to come up with 295.6 million euros.
Panasonic is only on the hook for 157.5 million euros, and Samsung will be paying 150.8 million euros. Toshiba and Technicolor managed to get through without much damage, having to only shell out 28 million and 38.6 million euros, respectively. Of course, Phillips has said they will challenge the ruling and others will likely follow the lead.
Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, was again offered a position in the president's cabinet, with him being offered a position as either the Treasury or Commerce Secretary. Again, Schmidt turned down the opportunity and said that Google was his "home." How sweet.
Schmidt supported Obama's election bid and reelection bid with monetary donations, so he could be trying to make sure claims of corruption don't tarnish the White House. Google, as a company, sent $700,000 to Obama and Google's Super PAC saw $2.1 million going to the Democrats and $715,000 going to the Republicans.
One anonymous Democrat has said that a position in the cabinet would be found if he changed his mind sometime in the future. It does sound a bit suspicious, doesn't it?
Come December 12, Facebook are set to replace Infosys as part of the NASDAQ 100 Index. The shift for the social network should see a surge in stock purchases as index funds and others pick up its share to balance out their portfolios.
Facebook went public with their IPO in May, and seven months later they'll finally be added to the NASDAQ 100 Index. Since Facebook's IPO they've lost some serious value, but they have stabilized over the last few months, and at their current market capitilization is around $59.5 billion.
Facebook have been given a great place in the stock market universe here, with other Internet companies not having the same power that Facebook enjoys - Zynga, Groupon, Pandora and LinkedIn all haven't made the NASDAQ cut - even with all of the power they have.
Verizon has just filed a very creepy patent, which is for a DVR that would be capable of recording what happens in your living room. Not just audio, but video, too. Verizon say that the technology could help provide targeted ads for whatever you might be doing in your living room.
So, if you were jumping around doing Zumba for example, the DVR would provide ads for fitness. If you were sitting down talking to a friend about your latest Johnnie Walker Blue Label, it would serve up ads on alcohol or other related areas. The other problem is that Verizon aren't the only ones who are looking at doing this, or who have already filed patents for this type of creepy DVR tech.
Comcast patented a similar technology back in 2008, which recommended content based on people that it recognized in the room, and Google proposed a patent for Google TV that would feature audio and video recorders that would work out how many people were in the room watching TV. Verizon's patent was published just last week, but was filed in May 2011. It gets worse: Verizon provides two examples of the context-sensitive DVR's use in a couple's living room - where sounds of an argument would throw up ads for marriage counselling, while sounds of "cuddling" would provide ads for contraceptives.
Nokia still isn't doing well when it comes to cash. Their new line of Lumia Windows 8 Phones are selling well, but the company is still burning through cash. The company has decided to sell its headquarters in Finland to Exillion for around 170 million euros. Nokia will then lease the property back from the company.
Timo Ihamuotila, Nokia's CFO:
We had a comprehensive sales process with both Finnish and foreign investors and we are very pleased with this outcome. As we have said before, owning real estate is not part of Nokia's core business and when good opportunities arise we are willing to exit these types of non-core assets. We are naturally continuing to operate in our head office building on a long-term basis.
Nokia is interested in focusing on core parts of its business, which, apparently, doesn't include owning land. The move is one of cost cutting, and in this case, they will be getting an inflow of cash, but will have to pay to lease the property back from the company. There is good news on the horizon, though, as it appears that Windows Phone is picking up steam as a platform.
ACT executive director Reed Morgan: "We need to follow the law, and look at the upside of the law. [The next generation of mobile apps will] deal with your financial information, your educational information, your health care. Being transparent about your data will win you contracts."
John McAfee is currently on the run from police, who suspect him as the person who murdered his neighbor. We had previously reported on this issue. Yesterday, McAfee said that he wasn't in Guatemala and that the meta-data on a picture taken by Vice Magazine had been faked. Today, he has come out and recanted that statement.
Guess what? He actually IS in Guatemala: "I apologize for all of the misdirections over the past few days. It was not easy to exit Belize and required many supporters in many countries. I am in Guatemala and will be meeting with Guatemalan officials this morning. If all goes well I will do a press conference tomorrow."
McAfee has said that he plans to provide more information later today, so we'll be vigilant in making sure that it gets disseminated to you all if it is anything of consequence. McAfee went on the run on November 12, 2012, when Belize police said he was a person of interest in the murder of Gregory Viant Faull, his neighbor on Ambergris Caye island.
It was only a month ago that we reported THQ were having financial difficulties, and just a few days ago we told you about the Humble THQ Bundle, which saw some seriously great deals for games.
Well, since THQ unveiled that deal, their stock prices have seen a huge surge. THQ's shares were $1.07 a piece on November 28, and when the bundle was released on the 29th, shares spiked at $1.60 - an increase of 37.96%.
By Friday, the shares slumped back down to $1.45 - but this still represents a huge improvement from $1.07. The bundle saw $3 million raised with 576,117 copies sold and has contributions from THQ executives like Brian Farrell and Jason Rubin. We could see this as a change to the way companies look at selling games, with a 'pay what you like' take on things.
Australian telco, Telstra, offer Android users the ability to charge Google Play content to their phone bills
Australia's leading telco, Telstra, have just announced that they have a new way that customers can purchase Google Play store content on their Android-based devices, including apps, games, movies, magazines and books.
Starting today, Telstra customers can now purchase Google Play content and charge it to their mobile phone bills at a value of up to $20 per transaction, with a monthly limit of $100. This $100 monthly limit can be changed, so you're not locked in - it just requires a quick phone call to Telstra. The new way of purchasing content is also available to pre-paid customers, too - they just need the credit on their accounts.
Telstra have teamed up with Google for the launch of this new service, where they've offered a heap of games and apps at half price! This promotion runs until December 25 and includes:
- HD Widgets
- SoundHound ∞
- Smart Tools
- Ocean HD
- World of Goo
- Star Chart
- SwiftKey 3 Keyboard : Phone, Tablet
- Paper Camera
- Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro
- Mini Motor Racing
- Sketchbook Mobile
The police have asked that Congress consider adding a requirement that wireless service providers keep copies of text messages for two years. Because, after all, you never know when you may need to data mine them during a future criminal investigation. There are a few problems with a requirement of this length, however.
Consider, for a moment, the sheer number of text messages sent every single day. Got a number? 6 billion. Last year more than 2 TRILLION messages were sent, so storing that many text messages would take up a huge amount of storage. Carriers would be required to save text messages for two years, so they would be storing upwards of 4 trillion text messages.
That would be roughly 500 terabytes of data storage. Not an unheard of amount, but certainly a burden on a company. The police would like this new requirement to be added into an update of a 1986 privacy law that is currently being discussed. A new draft of the bill sees it being updated for the cloud computing era with a requirement that police obtain a warrant to read e-mails.
"These data retention policies serve one purpose: to require companies to keep databases on their customers so law enforcement can fish for evidence," Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said. "And this would seem to be done against the wishes of the providers, presumably, since...some of the providers don't keep SMS messages at all."
Sharp and Qualcomm are joining forces to develop and manufacture an energy-efficient LCD panel, which will be used in smartphones. They will take Sharp's existing technology and bolster it with input from Qualcomm. The joint venture is likely an attempt by Sharp to stay relevant in the quickly changing market.
Sharp will provide its indium-gallium-zinc oxide technology in exchange for $61 million from Qualcomm. Once significant progress has been made, Sharp will receive another $61 million. The payments will be made in exchange for stock and Qualcomm will end up with roughly a 5 percent stake in Sharp.
Full details are expected to be released soon, with the earliest estimate placing tomorrow as the day all will be told.
It looks as though Apple may be bringing back some of its manufacturing to the United States. On some of the new iteration of iMacs users are finding that the label says "Assembled in the USA." To earn that tag, the FTC requires a product to undergo its last "substantial transformation" in the United States.
These means that the system can't just have a part screwed on, such as a stand, in the United States to earn that label. So, Apple is either stretching the truth, in which case they could be sued by the FTC, or Apple is actually doing a large portion of the iMac's manufacturing in the United States.
DigitalTrends points out that Apple could be doing a limited run here in the United States and will be sending what it learns over to China for mass production. However, some will remember that Tim Cook said, back in May, that Apple wants more Apple products to be made in America. "We will do as many of these things [in America] as we can do and you can bet that we'll use the whole of our influence to do this."
Considering how popular the iPhone is, it has taken Apple a very long time to get here - but, it has now happened. For both smartphone and non-smartphone, Apple has overtaken LG to become to the second-largest US mobile phone maker.
The latest data comes from comScore, and shows that Samsung still have a huge dominance in the country with 26.3% of the market, Apple enjoying 17.8% and LG sliding to 17.6%. Motorola is still hanging in there with 11% and HTC is scraping by with 6%. Year-on-year, Samsung are up 0.7%, Apple are up 1.5% and the rest are all down with LG, Motorola and HTC down 0.8%, 0.2% and 0.4$, respectively.
It was only in April that Apple took over Motorola's position at number three on the list - and have taken another 6 months to claw up to number two. The fight is on - and you can now see why Apple is so persistent in suing their biggest competitor, Samsung.
Google's in a bit of hot water as both the European Union and the United States have probes into the company over allegations that Google used it's large search market share to promote its products to the detriment of others. This has traditionally been a big no-no and has gotten other companies in trouble before.
Reports are saying that the FTC, the US body responsible for investigating anti-trust issues, and Google are currently involved in settlement talks. Reportedly, CEO Larry Page and FTC officials met earlier this week in Washington, D.C. It's been confirmed that Jon Leibowitz, chairmen of the FTC, will be in Europe next week for several matters.
They declined to confirm the existence of a meeting between the two groups. Sources familiar with the matter say that Mr. Leibowitx and Joaquin Almunia, EU competition chief, are to meet next week regarding their probes. Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich said, "We continue to work cooperatively with the Federal Trade Commission and European Commission and are happy to answer any questions they may have."
Normally this is reserved for the "only in Japan" type of posts - but here we are. I could pretty much just leave it as a title and blank news piece, but let's continue. Tom Nardone of MakerLove wants to be one of the first in to use 3D printing for the adult sex toys business.
Yes - 3D printers and adult sex toys - all in the same sentence. Nardone is an engineer who moved into the sex toy business, and doesn't want to make any generic sex toys - for this salesman, his 3D printed sex toys are a mix of art and science, with a dash of technology and pleasure.
The porn business has been a huge mover in technology in the years gone by, with VCRs, DVDs and now the Internet all being molded and guided by the needs, and requirements of the porn industry. 3D printing is just another factor of this - and where there's money to be made, there will always be someone there to make it.
We had previously reported about a 9-year-old's laptop being confiscated by police after she tried pirating some music. The police in Finland have now decided not to press charges against the girl. "We have decided to end the criminal investigation, because CIAPC has waived the penalty claims," police officer Markku Nisula told Finnish news outlet MTV3.
Reportedly, the father has agreed with CIAPC to pay only 300 euros, half of the original amount demanded of him. This means that the now infamous Winnie the Pooh laptop will be returned to the girl.
If you're looking to get an iTunes gift card for someone special this year, you'll no longer be tied into buying a predetermined denomination. Instead, these variable amount cards will be able to be loaded with any amount ranging from $15 to $500. Previously iTunes cards had only been offered in $15, $25, $50, and $100 denominations.
The new cards are rolling out to at least one supermarket chain and one retailer today, though they will likely come to a store near you. As of right now, there doesn't appear to be a place online where these cards can be procured, so your only option is to find them in store.
When you go to purchase one of the cards, the cashier validates the card and the amount you pay is tied to the card. The new cards are capable of being redeemed using the new iTunes OCR redemption system.
If you're an AT&T, Verizon or Sprint customer, you can go to your store of choice and pick up an iPhone without a second thought, but T-Mobile customers have been left out in the dark as it's currently the only major U.S. carrier that doesn't carry the iPhone. But that could all change if what Merrill Lynch's Scott Craig turns out to be true.
According to Craig, T-Mobile may be announcing the arrival of the iPhone some time next week during their analysts day taking place on December 6 and 7.
Samsung are pretty much the fighting force against the dominant player in the smart device market, Apple, but it looks like their 2012 success has come at a huge cost to the company in terms of their marketing expenditure.
Samsung thus have lower gross margins on their smartphones, with Asymco's Horace Dedieu tapping down on his calculator working out some of the numbers associated with Samsung's profit margins on their smartphones.
It's sitting pretty at 17%, but it is far behind even struggling players like RIM who used to rake in 30% margins, and Nokia used to enjoy a slice of 25%. Dedieu says that Samsung spends more on marketing than every other competitor, pegging their advertising expenditure at an insane $4 billion for 2012 alone. Comparing this to Microsoft, who spent half of that, and even Apple - who surprisingly spent just a quarter of that number.
Sony is probably happy with their sales numbers, though not as happy as Microsoft is with theirs. We reported how Microsoft sold 750,000 Xbox consoles during the week of Black Friday and now Sony has come out with their sales numbers. Sony says they sold 525,000 PlayStation 3 consoles last week.
While not as impressive as Microsoft's sales numbers, they certainly did better than Nintendo, who only moved 400,000 Wii U consoles. However, Nintendo also saw still-strong sales of the Wii, which when combined, make Nintendo a strong performer.
Sony's Vita saw pitiful sales and only managed to move 160,000 units. The Vita, like the PS3, is seen as overpriced. One of the reasons the PS3 is finally doing so well is that Sony has been taking an aggressive approach to pricing the newest PS3 bundles. However, it appears that the Xbox 360 is likely to claim a 23rd month at number one.
Consumer Reports has yet again deemed AT&T the worst U.S. mobile carrier for 2012 in its yearly report taken from its mobile carrier satisfaction survey. Even though it received the worst grades in its voice quality and text services, its 4G LTE network did receive the most praise compared to competing carrier's 4G services.
On the other side of the spectrum, Verizon Wireless once again is deemed the best U.S. mobile carrier in 2012 with Sprint and T-Mobile close behind it.
In the prepaid market, TracFone received the most excellent marks compared to competing services.