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Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, and Skype have been hit with a complaint in the European Union over data protection issues in relation to the recently revealed NSA spying program Prism. THe complaint has been brought by the same group that ran the Europe v Facebook campaign. Through this latest complaint, they hope to gain clarification on the laws regarding foreign data passing to US agencies.
These five companies have been selected specifically because of their corporate structure. Each has a subsidiary in the European Union, which should be required to follow EU data protection rights and policies. The question becomes a bit less straightforward when these companies have US headquarters, possibly making them be required to comply with US laws that are in conflict with EU laws. They have an excellent explanation:
If a European subsidiary sends user data to the American parent company, this is considered an "export" of personal data. Under EU law, an export of data is only allowed if the European subsidiary can ensure an "adequate level or protection" in the foreign country. After the recent disclosures on the "PRISM" program such trust in an "adequate level of protection" by the involved companies can hardly be upheld.
There can in no way be an adequate level of protection if they cooperate with the NSA on the other end of the line. Right now an export of data to the US must be seen as illegal if the involved companies cannot disprove the reports on the PRISM program.
Things might not be perfect for everyone's favorite fruit company. Oppenheimer analyst Ittai Kidron has cut his expectations for Apple's third-quarter earnings. He notes that iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S sales are "stable," but iPhone 5 sell-through has been "mixed." He notes that with expectations that Apple will launch a new iPhone in September, sales will be lower ahead of the rumored launch.
Kidron expects Apple to see earnings-per-share of $7.23 on $35 billion in revenue for the June quarter. For Apple's fourth quarter, Kidron expects Apple to see EPS of $8.84 on $38.9 billion in revenue. He also expects it to be a decent amount of time before something comes along to boost Apple's share price. iTV is what he believes to be the best chance for Apple's share price to increase.
Apple's stock briefly dropped below the $400 mark before bouncing back up to close at $402.63.
Snapchat founders Evan Spiegel, 22, and Bobby Murphy, 24, have reportedly each pocketed $10 million a piece through a secondary offering. A secondary offering is one in which the founders of the company offer up some of their shares to be sold to investors. This usually only occurs with a hot property, such as Snapchat, and allows the founders a bit of liquidity, since they likely won't be making money off of Snapchat for a while.
Yesterday we reported that Snapchat raised $60 million during a funding round, however, other reports have surfaced that that the company raised a total of $80 million through the two funding rounds, with the secondary funding round being done by the founders. Snapchat has not yet disclosed the secondary funding round that others have reported.
It looks as though Snapchat could be poised to become the next Instagram and investors clearly don't want to miss out on the opportunity.
Everyone's favorite self-destructing picture messaging service has finally developed a plan to generate revenue. As of right now, the company doesn't have any source of income other than investors, who recently gave the company $60 million in investment funds. The development, server, and operating costs have all been paid for by investment funds.
In order to become a viable company, Snapchat needs to start making money. CEO Evan Spiegel has detailed Snapchat's plans to start making money. The first part of the plan, and the one likely to be implemented first, makes use of in-app purchases. The Snapchat team has been investigating various customization options that people might be willing to pay for. This could include more photo editing tools, like Instagram's filters, the ability to modify font size, color, etc, and interface customizations. The company notes that they haven't considered allowing people to pay to save snaps.
Eventually Snapchat would like to introduce native advertising. It's worth noting that Snapchat already advertises to its own users on holidays, usually by way of an animated video with the Snapchat Ghost. Snapchat says brands can already do this provided they are friends with other users or know the handle of the users they are trying to reach.
Reuters is reporting this morning that Samsung is in preliminary discussions with European Union regulators regarding a possible settlement that relates to charges that it abused its market dominance when it blocked Apple from fairly using their patents in various ongoing lawsuits. This news comes from sources who are said to be close to the matter but declined to have their identity disclosed.
"The talks came after the European Commission, which acts as EU competition regulator, told Samsung in December that it was acting unfairly by seeking injunctions against Apple over use of the essential patents. Samsung has been involved in settlement discussions for several months now. Samsung wants to settle," said one of the sources, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
If Samsung does settle the case, the company could avoid fines as high as $17.3 billion . On the flipside, it would have to agree to license patents on fair terms, which could impact many of the company's current cases related to the European Union's 3G UMTS standard.
One of the things I don't like about Samsung's Galaxy range of devices, is that they feel 'plasticy' - mainly because, well, they're made from plastic. But, the South Korean's materials arm, Samsung Petrochemical, have just signed up for a joint venture with carbon fiber specialist SGL Group.
The joint venture will see the two aim to "develop new industrial and electronic applications with carbon composite materials for Samsung and the Korean market." The company will operate under the name Samsung SGL Carbon Composite Materials, and be 50% owned by Samsung. According to the companies' recent joint announcement, Samsung SGL Carbon Composite Materials will look to "provide a stable long-term supply of carbon fiber materials for Samsung and promote its use in various Samsung products and applications such as consumer electronics, medical devices and engineering applications."
This will only be a good thing for us consumers, who will receive better-made, and better-quality devices from Samsung.
Zynga used to have a $1 billion unsecured, revolving line of credit, but has had a limit slapped right on top of that to just $200 million. The amount of time to pay it back has been increased, though, from four to five years, but it continues to be unsecured.
Since Zynga went public, they've been faced with nothing but issues, taking away chunks of their value. The once-invincible company is now in troubled times, while they continue to restore their user base and release a new smash hit title which will get them out of the black. The company recently cut 18% of their workforce, and then they took another blow - investors cut their market valuation by a double-digit percentage.
At the prime of Zynga, they acquired the at-the-time gigantic OMGPOP, the company known for Draw Something, for $200 million. Well, that division has been closed, and Zynga have been left crying in the corner looking at that cheque they wrote. Zynga do have $1.3 billion in cash and short term investments, so they're not down and out just yet, folks.
Only hours ago did we report that Samsung could possibly be leaving the desktop PC business, where they would put full force into their portable devices, but the South Korean company have now issued a statement denying such things:
The rumor that Samsung is withdrawing from the PC desktop business is groundless. Samsung will continue to offer diverse PC products according to consumer and market needs.
I'm glad to see Samsung reacting to this so quickly, and so they should. They're one of the stronger companies at the moment and they need to show that the PC market is still something worth doing business in, let's just hope Windows 8.1 can change things around, and quick.
Western Digital, a company known for their magnetic hard drives, has signed a deal to acquire sTec, a company known for their solid state drives. Specifically, Western Digital has announced that HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, will make the acquisition for $340 million, allowing Western Digital to enter into the solid state market.
Solid state storage in the enterprise will play an increasingly strategic role in the future of Western Digital. This acquisition is one more building block in our strategy to capitalize on the dramatic changes within the storage industry by investing in SSDs and other high-growth storage products.
The deal is expected to close in the third or fourth quarter of 2013, allowing Western Digital to hopefully enter the solid state market with the new technology sometime in 2014. Western Digital wants to add SSDs to its enterprise line-up at a time when big companies are ready to start implementing the technology.
Samsung is reportedly intensifying its focus on mobile devices by ending desktop PC production. According to the Korea Times, a Samsung executive was quoted as saying that desktops will not be produced any longer so that the company can focus on portable devices, something Samsung has been exceptionally strong at.
"Tablets, all-in-one and hybrid PCs are Samsung's current focus. Samsung is speeding up its restructuring of its PC business via product realignment toward profitable variants," the executive is quoted as saying. This makes good sense as the desktop PC market continues to shrink quarter-over-quarter.
Samsung apparently believes there is still a market for the all-in-one desktop variety machine, though this could also be shrinking in the coming years as devices continue to get smaller, faster, and better. We'll keep our eye on Samsung's PC division and let you know of any changes to this course.