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Google's semi-annual Transparency Report has been updated today and the new data shows that requests for data from the search giant continue to increase. The US government leads the way in requesting data from Google. In fact, the amount of data requests as increased by more than 70 percent since 2009.
For the period from July to December, Google received 21,389 requests for information about 33,634 users. The United States government led the charge with over 8,000 requests for information that encompassed almost 15,000 user accounts. 88 percent of these requests had at least some data produced.
India was the next highest on the list, but only requested about 25 percent of what the US did. They made 2,400 requests about roughly 4,000 users. France, Germany, UK, and Brazil round out the list of governments who put in more than 1,000 user data requests.
Google has pushed on other companies to put forth similar data sets. Facebook would be a really important report, if they were to issue one. However, they say that "We do not have any immediate plans to release a report, however, we have been working diligently on meaningful transparency such as the Law Enforcement Guidelines in the Help Center and our work with the Digital Due Process coalition to ensure the privacy of our users. While we will continue to evaluate our plans in this area, we devote our primary efforts to auditing every request we receive to ensure the strictest compliance with law."
Some bad news, at least for the companies involved, has come out thanks to a court case brought against Apple and Google by five workers. The case alleges that they are due lost wages as the companies involved tried keeping wages down by agreeing to not poach employees from each other.
Apparently, this non-poaching agreement extends beyond Google and Apple to the likes of Intel, Adobe, Pixar, and others. Judge Koh, made famous by the on-going Apple vs Samsung battle, is overseeing this court battle. This could end up being very bad for the companies involved, with the plaintiffs arguing that the damages could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
For instance, an e-mail sent to Eric Schmidt by Steve Jobs: "Eric, I am told that Googles new cell phone software group is relentlessly recruiting in our iPod group. If this is indeed true, can you put a stop to it? Thanks, Steve." Another e-mail, this one sent by Paul Otellini of Intel, reads, "we have nothing signed. We have a handshake 'no-recruit' between eric and myself. I would not like this broadly known."
Apple, Adobe, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar all settled with the Justice Department in 2010 over these non-poaching agreements by agreeing to end them. This should be interesting to keep your eyes on over the next few weeks and months and we'll be sure to keep you updated on any breaking news.
Gaming studio THQ announced in open court today that the company is being broken apart and its major gaming titles will be getting sold off to other studios. While the bankruptcy hearing hasn't officially been accepted by the judge, the ruling seems like it should be accepted, if the judge's comments are anything to go off of.
"I wasn't sure it was going to work, but I'm glad it did" Judge Marry F. Walrath said. The proposed sales are as follows:
- Sega will purchase Relic for $26.6 million, with Zenimax acting as a back-up bidder at $26.3 million.
- Koch Media will purchase Volition and the Metro franchise for $22.3 million and $5.8 million respectively.
- Crytek will purchase Homefront for $500,000.
- Take 2 will purchase Evolve for $10.8 million, outbidding the game's developer Turtle Rock.
- Ubisoft will purchase THQ Montreal for $2.5 million and South Park: The Stick of Truth for $3.265 million.
Not all of THQ's assets have been sold yet, but THQ is continuing to look for buyers. If approved, the sales should close this week. Farrell and Rubin expect that most employees will be employed by the new owners, but wouldn't go as far as to promise anything.
Netflix's Q4 performance results are out and the results are looking pretty good for the company. In the US, Netflix is streaming to 27 million customers. Outside the US the numbers aren't so great with Netflix only seeing 6 million subscribers. All total, Netflix has more than 33 million subscribers worldwide.
Netflix also turned an $8 million profit off of $945 million in revenue. I have a feeling that with Arrested Development and House of Cards coming to the company, subscribers will increase. I know that I am excited for Arrested Development and most of the viewers had an almost cult-like love for the show.
The graphic above shows that Netflix believes they are the best when compared to the competition. These stats are based upon its 200 most popular TV shows and movies, of which the competition reportedly doesn't offer more than 73 of.
Well, this was a little unexpected, but could also turn out quite amazing for Microsoft. The latest talk is that the Redmond-based software giant is in discussions with Silver Lake Partners and Dell's CEO to invest between $1 billion and $3 billion in a leveraged buyout of Dell.
The news comes from "sources close to the matter" talking with CNBC. The rumor does make sense as Microsoft is slowly transitioning toward a hardware company after being a full-on software company for all these years. This move could see Microsoft directly compete with Apple in both hardware and software, without having to build it from the ground up, they'd have a huge start acquiring Dell.
Talks between Silver Lake Partners and the special committee for Dell's shareholders are set to continue, and we should hear of a deal being reached by the end of the week.
Apple are continuing to crank out the huge numbers on US smartphone market share, according to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech who have monitored American smartphone sales for the past three months ending on December 23.
With 51.2% of sales being iPhone's, they still enjoy just over half the US smartphone market share, for now. This is a drop from the previous 12-week total which saw the Cupertino-based company enjoying 53.3% of the market. The percentage is reportedly part of a "moving average" of the previous 12 weeks, but the reports are actually issued monthly.
In November, Apple enjoyed an all-time high share against Android-based smartphones, which saw them take 53.3% for the 12-week period ending in November just as the iPhone 5 began rolling out in better numbers. In the November quarter, the Android market share in the US took a huge dive, dropping to just 41.9% - a huge year-over-year drop of 11%. In December, however, Android market share numbers jumped back up in the US to take 44.2%.
Q4 is usually good for most companies, as the holidays are an extremely busy time of the year for most businesses. Verizon have had a stellar Q4, where they've announced they activated 9.8 million smartphones during the quarter.
Better yet, out of those 9.8 million, 7.3 million of them were LTE-capable. Breaking the numbers down once more, we find that 6.2 million activations were iPhone's and around half of them were LTE-capable meaning they were the latest iPhone 5.
In the same three-month period, Verizon added 2.2 million more subscribers, 144,000 new FiOS Internet subscribers and 134,000 FiOS video subscribers. Revenues were hitting $30 billion for the quarter, which is up 5.7% from twelve months ago and $115.8 billion for the entire fiscal year. Verizon were able to achieve a total return of 13.2% to shareholders last year.
Google had their Q4 2012 earnings call earlier today, with Google executives diving into the Motorola situation. With the current state of Motorola's financials being the subject at hand, we saw Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette answer a few questions.
When asked about the current situation of Motorola's financial position, Pichette said that when Google acquired Motorola, they also acquired their 12- to 18-month product pipeline that isn't easily changeable. When Google purchased Motorola, they also purchased their future product line up that has been promised to customers.
Pichette explained that while there have been improvements made within the company in regards to selling the home division of Motorola as well as rejigging their finances, that Google are still only 6 months post-acquisition, and these changes do take a while to happen. Pichette said "it's jsut the nature of the beast when you're reinventing a business".
South Park Studios not happy with THQ auctioning off rights to 'South Park: The Stick of Truth' game
At least one company isn't happy with THQ auctioning off their assets as part of the bankruptcy process. Specifically, South Park Studios is unhappy that THQ is attempting to sell its rights to the South Park: The Stick of Truth game that is currently in production by Obsidian.
South Park Studios asserts that THQ doesn't have the right to sell the contract off. THQ would be required to first pay the $2.3 million it currently owes South Park Studios. South Park Studios is also required to sign off on any transfer of the contract and the purchasing company is required to abide by the contract.
THQ, of course, denies what South Park Studios is claiming. THQ also says they do not owe $2.3 million to South Park Studios, though are investigating if they owe any debts. If they do, they plan to pay them accordingly. THQ also plans to find a buyer who would see the game through to the end.
There will be plenty more news from the THQ bankruptcy and we will be sure to keep on top of it.
Today is a popular day for companies to report their fourth quarter financial results and Google certainly didn't want to be left out. Google performed quite well during the fourth quarter with revenue and profit both increasing, though cost-per-click has continued to decline.
Google recorded a revenue result of $11.34 billion, which doesn't include results from Motorola Home. This figure is up from $8.13 billion in 2011, so nearly 50 percent higher. Non-GAAP profit is up to $3.57 billion, which is up from $3.13 billion year-over-year.
Cost-per-click prices are down 6 percent year-over-year, though they recovered 2 percent from the third quarter of 2012.
For the fiscal year 2012, Google managed to bring in $50 billion in revenue. This is up from 2011, where they only managed to bring in $38 billion.
"We ended 2012 with a strong quarter," said Larry Page, CEO of Google. "Revenues were up 36% year-on-year, and 8% quarter-on-quarter. And we hit $50 billion in revenues for the first time last year - not a bad achievement in just a decade and a half."