Sony and Ericsson now split, Ericsson keeps the cars, Sony takes the house and renames it Sony Mobile Communications
Sony and Ericsson's split is now finalized, with Sony taking over Ericsson's 50-percent stake in the former joint venture. This move has reportedly cost $1.37 billion to complete and with it now being fully Sony-owned, Sony have renamed Sony Ericsson to "Sony Mobile Communications".
The agreement was completed today, and has Sony absorbing the broad IP cross-licensing agreement, among others, which now makes Sony Ericsson a "wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony". Not that this news is exciting, but it'll be interesting to see where Sony takes their Sony Mobile Communications to, from here.
Will they try to compete much harder against Apple, Samsung, and others? Will they choose to continue with their Android-based products, or will they diversify and move onto Windows Phone 7 in the future, or Windows 8 devices? Time will tell, I guess.
Apple awarded patent for the design of the MacBook Air, this could spell trouble for Ultrabook makers
Sigh. Apple have been quite active on the patent front this week, and were just now awarded another 19 patents, one of those for the design of the MacBook Air. Apple could, in theory, use this patent on the MBA to try and block manufacturers marketing their Ultrabook, or ultra-thin/light notebooks in the US.
The patent in question, No. D654,072, refers to an "ornamental design for an electronic device" and actually lists Steve Jobs as one of its creators. The term "MacBook Air" isn't used, but there are drawings of a laptop, where you can clearly see it's a MBA. The patent was awarded on Valentines's Day, and could see Apple use it for evil.
If Apple decide to use the patent as a weapon of mass destruction, they could stop most manufacturers from pushing their Ultrabook, or thin/light/portable notebooks. This could mean serious trouble for the entire consumer PC industry. Intel have a considerable amount of time, money and effort poured into Ultrabooks, and having to duke it out in court with Apple would spell more than one headache for most companies.
If I were Samsung, I'd be changing my design, now.
A picture truly is worth a thousand words, and that picture is Apple being patent trolls. Not only have the Cupertino-based company gone after Samsung multiple times, and even recently against their Galaxy Nexus, but they've gone after several other companies and now the bankrupt company Kodak.
Kodak only filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy a few weeks ago now, but now Apple are seeking approval to sue Kodak in a New York court based on an alleged patent infringement. Kodak are now awaiting a decision from a bankruptcy judge who might give Apple permission to file a patent complain over technologies used in printers, digital cameras and digital picture frames.
'Oh snapz!' is something our VGA editor, Shane Baxtor likes to say when something like this happens - so, it felt oh so appropriate to use it in this news. The Pirate Bay have just posted on their blog informing their loyal users that Magnet links are now default when wanting to download something, here's the quote:
Quite some time ago we decided to not host torrent files anymore. In following with that decision, we decided to make Magnet links the default option for the Download buttons!
We've just changed places on the links. Magnet is now default, Download torrent is now where the magnet links used to be. The reason is the same as always: Magnets are now good enough to use, and it's not as easy to block as .torrent files. Also it saves us a huge amount of bandwidth!
So go ahead, magnet away!
Do you know what this means? The current court proceedings against The Pirate Bay just got that much harder. This means that the 'illegal' files that are downloaded, are distributed amongst the downloaders. This makes the target turn away from The Pirate Bay and onto tens of millions of downloaders around the world.
So, unless the MPAA and RIAA want to start arresting millions of people around the world, they're kinda stuck. In shark infested waters, without a life jacket, or a flare gun, while a pirate ship sails around them, laughing manically.
If we look back to the beginning of 2011, Apple were worth in excess of $300 billion. Fast forward to the same time this year, and they posted record first-quarter results, with all-time record iPhone, iPad and Mac sales. Just 24 hours ago, Apple shares closed at $500, with a market capitalization of almost $470 billion.
As big as PayPal are, they can be much bigger. Vice President and General Manager of Retail and Prepaid, Don Kingsborough, has said that he's wanting to move PayPal into physical retail stores, and hopes that this retail push will give them some power against Visa and MasterCard.
PayPal's plan is to reach a public goal of 20 major retailers using the point-of-sales (POS) system by the end of this year. This POS system works when a customer checks out, and the POS card-swiping terminal offers a new orange button saying, "Pay with PayPal". From there, customers can select this option, confirm the total, and type in their cell phone number and a PIN number that was determined before going into the store.
Kingsborough has been quoted:
We are going to do it with the greatest brands in the world -- Home Depot and every other top 100 retailer. There isn't a major brand we haven't talked to.
The eBay-owned company is already testing out their POS system in Home Depot, with Office Depot the next step in this grand new plan. PayPal have refused to comment on the names of other planned retailers.
Talk about cashing in. Sony have officially apologised for hiking up the prices on two of Whitney Houston's albums on Apple's U.K. iTunes store, the day after the singer had died.
On Sunday, Sony had introduced new wholesale price changes that bumped the retail price of Whitney Houston's "The Ultimate Collection" from 4.99 pounds to 7.99. On top of this crazyness, Sony increased the price of "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" from 7.99 pounds up to 9.99.
Sony then moved the prices back to their original price later in the day. Of course, the Internet exploded with criticism, where Sony didn't bother to comment until later this afternoon. Sony's apology statement, as reported by AllThingsD:
Whitney Houston product was mistakenly mispriced on the UK iTunes store on Sunday. When discovered, the mistake was immediately corrected. We apologize for any offense caused.
Team Red have just lost another player, after a few resignations and changes within the company throughout 2011 and even this year, news has hit the Internet that AMD's Corporate Vice President & CTO, Graphics Division, Eric Demers, is leaving the company. He has hung up his Team Red shirt for good.
AnandTech have reported that he isn't leaving for Intel, or Team Green (NVIDIA), but suspect that Eric's talents will continue to be seen within the industry. Considering AMD's current success within the GPU industry, it's hard to see Eric out of work for a long period of time.
Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola has not only been approved by the European Commission, but the United States Department of Justice. Google is now edging closer to the deal being completely approved, but they're still waiting on approval of China, Taiwan and Israel, before the transaction can officially be completed.
The DoJ's Anti-trust Division, who conducted the investigation, said the purchase was "not likely to significantly change existing market dynamics" or "substantially lessen competition". Of course, there are still concerns and they will have eyes on them to make sure they don't abuse patents, like other companies do. Reuters have reported that the DoJ "would not hesitate to take enforcement action", if Google were to manipulate the licensing of standard essential patents to their own advantage.
Google have whipped out their [Google] wallet and are paying more than $120 million for construction projects at their Mountain View HQ, including work on a series of new or previously secret hardware testing labs, that are hinting at Google expanding interest in making consumer objects to combat rivals Apple, Microsoft, and more.
Included in these new secret labs, is a reported new secret consumer product under the brand name "@home", that is said to wireless stream music or data to other household devices. Google are also said to be modifying a lab for their "Project X", which seems to involve precision optical technology and be part of the secret technology projects that Google co-founder, Sergey Brin is heading.
The biggest project in this expansion is said to be a "Google Experience Center", which is at the core of the Googleplex. The 120,000-square-foot center is said to be a kind of private museum for Google's most importan clients and partners, where they plan to "to share visionary ideas, and explore new ways of working" with up to 900 VIPs and other important guests.
I'd love to have a tour through these new facilities, it sounds super exciting. I really just want a pair of those Intersect glasses (Chuck fans, unite!). Well, not Intersect glasses, but Google's augmented reality glasses.
Apple shares closed above the $500 mark today, ending the day at $502.60. Impressive. Being the world's most valuable company must feel good, but being able to boast a market capitalization of almost $470 billion, must feel better.
This means they're up 9 points from yesterday's close, and up more than 80 from the day Apple released their numbers for their super-impressive quarter on January 24th. This $500 mark is said to be a 'psychological milestone', with the market cap the most important. $470 billion may sound like a lot, but during the 1990s boom, Microsoft, Cisco and GE also reached that height.
Considering Apple also hold close to $100 billion in cash, this goes to expand those numbers that little bit more. The question I have is, just like all companies, and empires, they fall. Will Apple continuously expand and hit $1000 per share? Or will they fall? What could do that? A true market crash? It seems nothing can stop this freight train that is Apple.
Microsoft opening new retail stores soon, will step over the border to Canada by the end of the year
Microsoft have laid down some plans where they will open up four new retail stores over the next few months, with the first international stores opening up later this year.
This is all according to at least one person familiar with Microsoft's plans, says The Verge. The plans would see the Redmond-based company open up a brand new store in Palo Alto, California, and another in Austin, Texas. The funny thing about two of these stores? They will be opening during April, and they'll be quite close to Apple retail store locations in popular malls.
The same plans are said to include two new stores in the state of New Jersey, the first in Bridgewater, the second in Freehold. The New Jersey stores are said to be located in malls that also have Apple stores, and are expected to open up shop before the end of June.
Microsoft's Kevin Turner said last July that Microsoft plan to open up 75 new stores over the next two years, but at the time didn't mention any non-domestic stores. Canada is on the list to receive a store, which should be located in Toronto and will open up just before the holidays. It's said to expect at least one international store at the same time as the Toronto-based store opening.
We reported last year about the Steam hack, but it has now been reported that the hack was actually quite a lot worse than previously thought. The server hacked did contain data such as usernames, hashed passwords, game purchases, e-mail addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card numbers, but Valve didn't find any evidence that led them to believe that any personal information was stolen, until now.
Valve have completed further investigation into the matter, and have stated that their preliminary conclusion was, incorrect. Newell has now said he believes the hackers obtained a copy of a backup file with data about Steam transactions made between 2004 and 2008. This backup file is said to contain usernames, e-mail addresses, encrypted billing addresses and encrypted credit card numbers. One of the good things to come from this news is that no passwords were included in this file.
Yozma Venture Capital is looking to sell their shares in Israel-based Conduit, a company who creates user engagement tools. Yozma could receive more than $200 million if they sold their shares, Globe reported yesterday.
The buyer is Silver Lake, a U.S. private equity firm, who is looking to pay between $200 and $250 million for the stake in Conduit. Globes describes the firm as a:
large foreign investment firm that has tens of billions of dollars in assets under management.
Yozma originally invested $1.5 million in the company back in 2006 for a 9-percent stake. If this deal continues, Yozma would see a very impressive 200-times its initial investment, or 20,000-percent. This is an insane deal for Yozma, and shows they invested their money very wisely.
What do Conduit offer? They offer three services, first, a community toolbar that boosts traffic and grows website communities, a mobile service that creates apps, and the Wibaya Bar, which promotes social engagement.
We've reported on the various Samsung vs. Apple lawsuits around the world, with a few successful wins for Samsung, and Apple not so happy with the outcomes. Today is a victorious day for Samsung, as a Duesseldorf court has just cleared the modified Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1N for sale in Germany.
Several rulings were against Samsung in a never-ending battle of patent suits, where Apple succeeded in blocking the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 in September, as well as the smaller 8.9-inch Galaxy Tab 8.9 in January. It was determined that they both "resembled the iPad too closely".
Samsung had prepared a tweaked version of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 dubbed Galaxy Tab 10.1N, which features a more pronounced metallic rim, relocated speakers, as well as some minor adjustments to change both the look, and feel of the device. Apple were unsurprisingly unsatisfied with the changes, and were quick to file additional injunctions to ban the updated Galaxy Tab 10.1N. Their demand? Rejected.
The world's largest BitTorrent site, The Pirate Bay, as reported previously, will stop linking to .torrent files shortly and replace them with magnet links. Magnet links have a pretty big advantage over .torrent files, where they're much more portable, and easier to copy. On top of this, a new torrent link on TPB lists all titles and magnet links, where the public can download a copy that would fit onto even the smallest USB flash drive, or if you're still rocking those floppies, a few of them, too.
TPB told TorrentFreak that one of the advantages to a "magnet site" is that it requires little bandwidth to host a proxy site. A proxy site is required as TPB is blocked in many countries, and is of course, going to increase. Think it can't happen? Well, Pirate Bay user "allisfine" was intrigued by this idea, and has decided to find out just how small a copy of TPB would be. He told TorrentFreak:
I did a complete snapshot of ALL the Pirate Bay torrents, in case somebody wants to close it or something similarly crazy.
NVIDIA and Rambus have been fighting it out for a while now, with four years of lawsuits and fighting, have resolved the matter privately. They've inked a new deal that is valid for the next five years, but other than that, no other details are provided.
The PR statement is vague, just pointing out that the two companies have settled, and that there's a five-year agreement now:
The agreement covers the use of Rambus patented innovations in a broad range of integrated circuit (IC) products offered by NVIDIA. In addition, the two companies have settled all outstanding claims, including resolution of past use of Rambus' patented innovations. The term of this agreement is five years; other details are confidential.
"This is an important license agreement as it settles our differences and allows us to move forward with NVIDIA, the leader in visual and parallel computing," said Harold Hughes, president and chief executive officer at Rambus. "Looking forward, we have the opportunity to focus on developing innovative solutions in concert with our licensees to help bring compelling, innovative products to market."
It's good to see the issues resolved, now they can get back to business.
Paradox CEO, Fred Wester, is a man of important words. He has revealed the amazing growth of his companies digital distribution revenue. In his own words, he has said:
My own experience of digital distribution is that we made 1.5 percent of our revenue from digital distribution in 2006, while the digital number in 2011 was over 95%.
Did you see that? From 1.5-percent of their revenue, to a whopping 95-percent, in just 5 short years. In these 5 years we've seen retailers go from selling tonnes of retail boxed games, to the App Store opening, the Android Market arriving and more. Steam is generating more and more income, and other digital distribution methods such as GOG, and Origin.
Motorola is currently fighting Microsoft in a German court over some patents, where the court is inclined to side with Motorola. This could see Microsoft pay Motorola royalties of 2.25-percent in sales of Windows 7, and Xbox 360, among other products. The news comes from Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst who tracks worldwide patent disputes in his Foss Patents blog.
Mueller is quoted:
A short summary of today's trial (technically four trials, but organized as one because of overlapping issues) is that the court is inclined to rule, with a decision scheduled for April 17, 2012, that Microsoft Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9, the Windows Media Player and the Xbox 360 infringe on those two patents.
The two patents in question relate to a video compression and decompression technology, covering methods for reducing the amount of bandwidth required for video that is streamed online. It is said that Microsoft violated the patents which are used in its technologies and software including Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9, Windows Media Player and the Xbox 360.
We all know AMD has and still is, going through some troubling times, but there is hopefully some light at the end of that bulldozed tunnel. The bad news continues today with the exit door opening for its chief sales officer, Emilio Ghilardi.
AMD announced the departure just after the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, where current CEO Rory Read will take over Ghilardi's sales responsibilities in the meantime, there is a search for a replacement. Ghilardi had worked for AMD since 2008, and started as senior vice president and general manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Just a year later he was promoted to chief sales officer.
It's not known what move is next for AMD, when they're set to adopt an "ambidextrous" strategy when it comes to using chips from other companies. The next few months should be some interesting times from the underdog, whether we see them move into areas where they aren't fighting the big bad, Intel. It could be a smart move, where you can't win, go into a market where you have more chance, and less competition. Sounds good to me.
Considering LimeWire has been dead for quite sometime now, after the RIAA settled with LimeWire last year to the sweet tune of $105 million, Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom, Disney, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. now want some of that tasty LimeWire blood.
First up, we need to consider, its not like LimeWire had $105 million in cash laying around, so these lawsuits are nothing but praise for the MPAA/RIAA to show off "we sued a company for pirating!" but what actually gets done about it? People are sued, but its like taking blood from a stone. The stone has no blood, LimeWire has no cash. Why sue?
The complaint, published by Courthouse News reads:
The illegality of LimeWire has been fully and finally adjudicated by the Court. In a related case, Arista Records LLC v. Lime Group LLC ...the court found defendants liable for engaging in and facilitating massive copyright infringement.
The complaint lists 53 infringed works including shows such as South Park and Family Guy, as well as movies such as Avatar, Shrek and Harry Potter.