With Facebook expected to go public on May 17 or 18, we have finally heard what the expected stock price range will be. Ranging between $28 and $35, the IPO could potentially bring in $13.6 billion in profit, with $1 billion going straight to Zuckerberg. Along with this profit, the IPO will value Facebook at the most valuable US technology company at the time of an IPO.
The IPO will value the company somewhere between $77 billion and $96 billion which well outpaces the current record holder Google who managed $23 billion. Zuckerberg is expected to personally sell 30.2 million shares which could net him the above $1 billion. But don't worry, he'll retain 57.3% voting power, so changes like Timeline will continue to happen.
In the lead up to the IPO, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Chief Financial Officer David Eberseman will spend just over a week out and about convincing potential investors of the value of investing in Facebook. Zuckerberg will make selected appearances, but also appears in a video presentation talking about his history with the company. I hope it's a good video as $1 billion is riding on it.
Microsoft and Dolby have just inked a new deal which will see Dolby Digital Plus' audio technology introduced to Windows 8 tablets and PCs. This will allow Windows 8-based devices to play Dolby-encoded content without an issue.
Microsoft have previously used Dolby encoding since Windows Vista in 2007, but in 2008, Dolby raised the possibility that we might not see Windows 8 with Dolby technology. It's incredibly exciting as Dolby Digital Plus 5.1-channel decoding and two-channel encoding will now be incorporated into all PCs and tablets that are licensed to run Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 RT.
This new partnership also allows for both x86- and ARM-based Windows 8 machines to access Dolby's high-quality audio standard.
We all know Samsung and Apple pretty much dominate the smartphone industry, but just how much have they been dominating it in the last year or so? Quite well, it seems. Apple and Samsung secure 99-percent of the profits, according to Asymco's Horace Dediu and his recently released data.
Out of this 99-percent, Apple take 73-percent, with Samsung taking 26-percent in Q1 2012. Comparing the previous quarter, Q4 2011, Apple were enjoying a nice 75-percent, with Samsung having 16-percent. This means that Samsung has pretty much absorbed the rest of the market share from the other mobile phone vendors such as HTC, Research in Motion, LG, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia.
What's more surprising is the 1-percent that is left. HTC managed to scoop that up, leaving the other vendors RIM, LG, SE, Motorola and Nokia failing to make a profit on their handset businesses. Surprising to say the least, and quite shocking. I wonder what 2012 has in store for the eight vendors.
PC gaming hardware market is going well, predicted to generate $23.6 billion in sales by the end of this year
According to the latest reports and numbers from Jon Peddie Research, predictions are being made for PC gaming hardware sales, where the research group are predicting total sales of $23.6 billion and by the end of 2015, this should grow to $32 billion.
They cite strong demand which will fuel growth over the coming years, especially in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries where systems, accessories and upgrades are expected to get close to $4.7 billion this year, and $7.7 billion by 2015.
JPR also expects to see the average selling price for some components to drop in 2013, as competition heats up. This is always good news for end users, with unit shipments expected to rise, which will smash any dip that would otherwise show up as a result of the lowered prices. These numbers should have confidence in them, as this year we're expecting some truly kick-ass titles such as Diablo III, Max Payne 3, and more.
By next year, we should have Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, and Borderlands 2. We shouldn't forget Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, either.
Microsoft scooped up well-known social network researcher Duncan Watts over the weekend, but he wasn't the only one Microsoft had their sights on. Microsoft have scooped up 13 other Yahoo researchers to kick-start a new New York research lab.
From these 13 people Microsoft have acquired brings David Pennock who is an algorithmic economist and will over see day-to-day lab operations. Microsoft also scored machine learning expert John Langford. Microsoft aren't new to research organizations, where they have budgets in the billions, and 850 PhDs. NYC will be Microsoft's 13th global office according to Jennifer Chayes, who manages Microsoft Research New England, as well as the New York Group.
Microsoft were fortunate enough to grab these people as Yahoo made cuts to their research organization last month. Chayes adds that the Yahoo researchers didn't necessarily come as a package, where she elaborates:
I don't feel like we hired a group; I feel like we hired 15 amazing individuals, some of which became available because there were some problems at Yahoo.
Social networking site, Facebook, are said to be preparing to launch an IPO (initial public offering) roadshow. The roadshow is expected to start on May 7, with a projected start of share trading two weeks later on May 18.
Zuckerberg is expected to play a role within the IPO roadshow, but what role exactly is unknown. Zuckerberg has reportedly skipped all the pre-roadshow meetings in April, and will not attend the roadshow in any capacity.
Typically, IPO roadshows are scheduled for company management to present business strategies to prospective investors, and usually span across two weeks over multiple venues. We should hear more about the IPO roadshow over the coming fortnight or so.
In what can only be seen as a major ruling, German courts have told Microsoft to stop selling its Windows 7 and Xbox 360 products, apparently due to patent infringement. The judgement comes from a lawsuit in which Motorola Mobility alleged that Microsoft's products infringed upon two patents regarding H.264 video coding and playback.
The court has found that Microsoft has used some of Motorola's intellectual property and found that a sales ban will be set in place until the matter can be settled. A settlement in this instant would require vast sums of money to change hands. How perfect for Google who just acquired Motorola Mobility!
It's unlikely that Microsoft will pull its products from store shelves just yet as Microsoft has said they will carry on as normal until an appeal of the decision can be made. The ban also includes Internet Explorer and Windows Media player. Microsoft also has the support of the US where a court has ruled a ban of the ban.
A Microsoft spokesperson speaking about the decision:
This is one step in a long process, and we are confident that Motorola will eventually be held to its promise to make its standard essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms for the benefit of consumers who enjoy video on the web. Motorola is prohibited from acting on today's decision, and our business in Germany will continue as usual while we appeal this decision and pursue the fundamental issue of Motorola's broken promise.
Google and its partner Onix Networking have just won a $35 million contract to run a new cloud-based e-mail and collaboration system for the US Department of the Interior. Incredibly, this wasn't always a definite thing for Google and its partner. Previously in 2010, a contract for the same thing had been awarded to Microsoft for $59.3 million.
Of course, because of the litigious society that we live in, Google and its partner quickly filed suit to block the contract. Google claimed that the selection process for the contract unfairly favored Microsoft and didn't give Google a chance. The lawsuit was withdrawn last September after the Department canceled its plans to use Microsoft due to the fact its original decision was "now stale in light of new developments in technology and entrants into the market."
Microsoft is obviously not the happiest with this decision. As such they have issued a statement:
Microsoft has a positive, longstanding relationship with the Department of Interior and we are working on a number of enterprise-wide initiatives with the agency. Although we are disappointed by this award, we will engage with our partners and DOI to review and understand the reasons for this decision. Microsoft remains committed to providing our customers with the cloud services that have the performance, security, privacy and other capabilities they expect and deserve.
Mobile gaming outfit GREE has acquired US-based social game developer Funzio for a cool $210 million in a bid to increase their appeal in Western countries, and to produce more of their own titles. The Japanese firm who provides both a mobile social gaming platform and developers titles itself, is looking at the North American market and other new growth opportunities as they've already established themselves quite well in their homeland.
The deal is expected to be done by the end of May, with founder Yoshikazu Tanaka saying that it "means a lot to enhancing our global expansion". The mobile gaming scene is heating up, with just weeks ago Zynga purchasing OMGPOP, the guys and gals behind Draw Something. GREE may be a smaller player, but competition is always a good thing.
GREE isn't new to big acquisitions, where back in 2010 they acquired Openfeint for $109 million. That deal boosted their platform, and the new Funzio deal with strengthen its capability to produce titles, and, appeal more to Western gamers. This isn't the end of the good news for FREE, where they're set to unveil their new global gaming platform, which will integrate Openfeint, all within the next few months.
It's been everywhere, and I was even sitting down this morning playing with my gorgeous 13-month-old daughter this morning when I saw people standing behind the Sunrise crew on Channel 7 here in Australia, with black cardboard signs in their hand stating "WAKE UP".
We've heard it was Samsung behind this, as a campaign for their GALAXY S III possibly... but it's not. Research in Motion (RIM) have admitted that they're the company behind the controversial anti-Apple 'Wake Up' campaign. RIM issued a statement this morning through its PR firm, where they've said:
We can confirm that the Australian 'Wake Up' campaign, which involves a series of experimental activities taking place across Sydney and Melbourne, was created by RIM Australia. A reveal will take place on May 7th that will aim to provoke conversation on what 'being in business' means to Australians.
The campaign caught the eyes and ears of people last week when a flashmob of 'protesters' took to an Australian Apple Store to protest the use of the company's products. The group chanted "wake up", held placards that said the same message, where other protesters dressed as a sheep as another dig at Apple, popular products and cult following. The reason behind the campaign is due to be unveiled at 3:00pm on May 6, but what to expect, we don't know.
Researcher Newzoo has gathered some very specific figures in a new study that included the top 200 grossing mobile games and survey results from 17,000 respondents. The study found that the US mobile gaming market has grown considerably, from 75 million to 101 million mobile gamers. Of these 101 million, 69-percent of them play games on smartphones, with 21-percent gaming on a tablet.
While there are many more players, and increasing amount of them are willing to pay for in-game content. The number of paying players has grown 35-percent to 37 million Americans, or 36-percent of all mobile gamers. Splitting these numbers up, we have 19 million American gamers on an iPhone, 18 million on an iPod touch, and 12.7 million on an iPad, keeping in mind that many people use multiple iOS-based devices.
Nokia currently owns the luxury-focused brand 'Vertu', but with their recent financial troubles are looking to get rid of the brand. Permira, a private equity group who also owns big fashion brands such as New Look, Hugo Boss and Valentino are expected to acquire Vertu, in a deal worth approximately $265 million.
Goldman Sachs have been advising Nokia on how to get out of their current financial problems, where last week Nokia announced a Q1 operating loss of just under $2 billion, which was then followed by credit rating downgrades by both Fitch and Standard & Poor. Nokia are pinning hopes on future with Microsoft and Windows Phone, as well as lowering costs by relocating factories to the Far East.
Vertu is a UK-based company that was set up in 1998 to create prestige phones fit for the super rich who are after top end designer brands. Vertu phones are hand fabricated using precious metals, gems and other artisan materials. Phones can be upward of a quarter million dollars, which is a little out of reach of say an iPhone, or similar.
Not everyone is exactly ecstatic about Blizzard offering real money auctions in the upcoming Diablo III game. I, too, see some issues with it, but that is for another article. Claims that Blizzard is trying to cash in on the game's second hand digital market have run rampant since its announcement of the plan last summer.
Blizzard will charge a flat $1 fee (or a rough local equivalent) for unique equipment like armor, weapons, or accessories. For common "stackable" commodities, Blizzard will charge 15%. This 15% charge even applies for strictly in-game gold transactions. The hope behind that is that it will stem inflation in the in-game economy.
Players will also get hit with another 15% fee when they try to transfer their funds from their Battle.net account to a third party service such as PayPal. The only way to avoid this is to spend the money on other Blizzard items such as a WoW subscription. The move of Blizzard allowing real money trading and taking a part in it will help stem the grey market of other companies doing the exact same thing. It should improve customer service and reduce scams.
Microsoft have just splashed out $300 million on an investment in Barnes & Noble's Nook digital-book business and college-text unit. This investment will see the Redmond-based company take a 17.6-percent stake in a new subsidiary temporarily known as Newco, with Barnes & Noble getting the remaining 82.4-percent while all pending litigation related to Android will be put to rest.
This new deal gives Barnes & Noble more power to fight off shareholders who have agitated for a sale of the Nook e-book business, or the entire company, in addition to relieving concerts that it doesn't have the capital to compete in the e-book business with heavy weight Amazon.com.
At the moment, Barnes & Nobile relies on a customized version of Google's Android OS for products such as the Nook Color and offers Nook reader apps for Android, iOS, OS X and Windows. The deal doesn't state whether this would change, but one of the first things to change would most likely be a Metro-style Nook e-reader app for Windows 8 available to users across the world. At the moment there's also no suggestion on whether we'll end up seeing a future Nook app on Windows Phone.
Both Apple and Motorola have filed motions with the court in Wisconsin asking for a summary judgement in a Apple's lawsuit against Motorola. Apple accuses Motorola of violating FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) patent licensing. The motions filed Friday would have Apple try to have some of its patent claims validated.
On the other hand, Motorola wants most of Apple's patent arguments ruled invalid. Full details of the lawsuit are unknown as the court documents remain sealed. What we gather is that Apple would like to use a summary judgement to solidify its claims of Motorola breaking the FRAND license agreement.
A summary judgement could either find Motorola mostly innocent, which would leave Apple's claims hard to prove in court, or find Motorola guilty, which would make it harder for Motorola, should the case go to trial. Motorola has based large portions of its lawsuits against Apple on standards based patents. While this has worked at the ITC, it hasn't worked in civil trials. Apple denies this and continues to fight it in court. More as it comes.
Big companies have lots of money to spend on accountants. These accountants, in turn, go through the tax law and find the corporation ways to avoid taxes legally through loopholes present in tax codes around the world. The latest company that has been accused of doing this is none other than Apple, a company with more cash than the government.
Thanks to a new report by the New York Times, a spotlight has been shined upon Apple Inc. and shows how Apple avoids a potentially massive tax bill by using subsidiary companies located around the world. These companies are often located in locations where taxes are low or don't exist. This practice is both legal and employed by many other large corporations around the world.
Take, for instance, Apple's subsidiary based in Reno, NV. This office is just 200 miles away from Apple's headquarters. A small staff located there takes and invests Apple's profits. By placing the company/office in Nevada, they avoid paying California's 8.84% income tax, since Reno has a tax rate of zero.
"Setting up an office in Reno is just one of many legal methods Apple uses to reduce its worldwide tax bill by billions of dollars each year," the report revealed. "As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-taxes places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and the British Virgin Islands - some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office - that help cut the taxes it pays around the world."
MegaUpload's Kim Dotcom seems to have struck a bit of luck. A High Court lawyer has ruled that a court-ordered seizure issued in January was not valid, even though an interim order has been in effect for two months. Due to this fact, he is receiving many of his seized assets, including money and a car, back from the government.
Dotcom is said to be receiving NZ$750,000 ($614,000) in cash that had been confiscated. He will also continue to receive his NZ$20,000 ($16,000) monthly living allowance off of the interest of government bonds. His wife Mona will also get her living expenses and medical bills paid as she recently gave birth.
Additionally, Dotcom will get his Mercedes-Benz G55AMG worth NZ$250,000 ($204,000) with the license plate "POLICE" returned to him. His wife will also have use of her seized 2010 Toyota Vellfire, worth NZ$60,000 ($49,000). He has also had use of his mansion since early April with its swimming pool for exercise. He has also been able to use the internet.
Dotcom has also found himself at the center of a political scandal. He claims, according to reports, that he donated NZ$50,000 ($41,000) to John Banks,the head of the ACT New Zealand political party and the current minister for Small Business and Regulatory Reform, for his 2010 Mayoral campaign.
This comes at quite a surprise, but daily US iPhone app downloads have dropped, considerably, with a 30-percent month-over-month drop. This is up from the 6.35 million in February to just 4.45 million in March, according to mobile marketing firm Fiksu.
Fiksu also says that it was the second straight month of decline in the course of their tracking, with a drop in January to February, but no where near as severe. January saw downloads topping 6.79 million, so a drop to 6.35 million is less than 10-percent. But a 30-percent drop the month after? That's something worth noting.
Fiksu also states that the drop is most likely due to two trends: first, the iPhone 4S is no longer a new device, so owners may be less concerned with downloading new apps. And secondly, Apple has decided to crack down on third-party marketers using bots to download apps and inflate chart rankings. This would make sense as with fewer bots, app traffic may now be coming down from its inflated numbers, down to reality.
Being based in Australia is good for a few things, our pay over here for jobs is quite good, public health is amazing, and countless other things. But the things that I like to spend my hard-earned cash on, tech and games, is ridiculously priced compared to the rest of the world.
The Australian government is now going to be looking into this, where all major computer and software publishers will be sent invitations to defend their pricing policies at a Federal Parliament inquiry. MP Ed Husic has been campaigning for fairer local pricing, and welcomed the inquiry, saying:
People here scratch their heads trying to work out why they get fleeced on software downloads. When the Productivity Commission asked IT companies why they charge so much for downloads, even they found the answers were not persuasive.
With the strength of the Australian dollar, most people expected things to drop in price, but, they didn't. No one really seems to care, as I can walk into most retailers in this country (and in particular, my state: South Australia) and electronic and gaming retailers are usually quite busy with customers. But, with the great Aussie dollar, most gamers (like myself) are buying and importing games from overseas.
Apple and Samsung have been at it for a while now, but it's beginning to heat up considerably. Both companies are now being ushered into a room together with their judge mediating settlement talks between the two popular companies.
Both Apple and Samsung, as well as their CEOs and chief counsels, are expected to meet up on the mornings of May 21 and 22 in a San Francisco court rather than the full trials' San Jose venue. Both sides will also have to produce statements by May 9 stating how likely they think their chances are of winning the trial.
But right now, there's absolutely no way one could guess which way this is going to go. Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated that he prefers to settle when he can, but still argues that companies should stop copying, implying that legal action might not stop without a promise of changes from GALAXY-branded maker, Samsung.
A regulatory filing Thursday shows that Fremont-based Corsair Components looks to raise $78 million dollars with an initial public offering (IPO). The company is looking to sell shares at $13 a share, with a range of $12 to $14. The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that the company intends to share 6 million shares during its IPO.
This SEC filing marks the first time that Corsair has specified a potential selling price for its shares. This has been a long time coming. Two years ago is when Corsair originally filed to become publicly traded. Its initial IPO filing in April 2010, Corsair estimated it would seek to raise $86 million.
According to the Mercury News:
During 2011, Corsair earned $19.4 million on sales of $455.2 million. In 2010, the company lost $10.2 million on sale. Compared to the year before, sales in 2011 jumped 20 percent. For the quarter that ended in March, Corsair earned $3.1 million on sales of $132.5 million. Compared to the year-ago quarter, profits fell 37 percent, while sales rose 23 percent, the company's SEC filing showed.
No date has been specified for when they would begin selling shares.