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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 12

Activision is seeing industry-wide drops in pre-order numbers

During its investor relations conference call yesterday, Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg was asked about game pre-orders, and how they are going with the slew of games Activision has coming out this year. This includes some of the biggest titles coming, including Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Destiny.

 

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Hirshberg said that pre-order numbers were down, but not just with his company, but across the entire industry. Hirshberg attributed this drop to increased digital consumption, especially on the Xbox One and PS4. Another reason is that games are made available widely when they are released, so there's not much of an incentive to pre-order. These two factors, along with the fact that a decline overall for the last generation of consoles means that pre-orders are down.

 

Activision is now looking at other ways it can determine how popular its upcoming games will be, as it used to judge this by pre-order numbers. new methods could include "purchase intent" and "awareness" of a title, with Hirshberg saying: "It's important to note that pre-orders are just one data point that we look at when determining the momentum of a franchise". When it comes to Destiny, Hirshberg says Destiny's awareness is "at an all-time high and climbing when compared to any other new game intellectual property this distance from launch. Purchase intent is also at an all-time high and rising compared to any other intellectual property. The hugely successful open beta, which saw 4.6m players, probably had something to do with that. So all of those add to our sense of momentum for the launch".

Continue reading 'Activision is seeing industry-wide drops in pre-order numbers' (full post)

Surface tablets continue to be a money loser for Microsoft

Things are continuing to look bleak for Microsoft and its surface tablet business. Microsoft lost money again on surface tablets in its recently wrapped fiscal 2014 year with losses totaling $1.7 billion. Microsoft announced that its Surface revenue was $409 million for the quarter ending June 30.

 

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However, Microsoft failed to announce a crucial piece of information, the cost of the revenue for Surface needed to figure out profit. However, data was given that allows analysts to estimate the costs for Surface. Computerworld figures that Microsoft's Surface costs for the quarter that ended in June were $772 million.

 

That means a loss of $363 million in the quarter for Surface. Some of the money in the cost of revenue calculation was from a write-off to cover the cost of designing and producing an unspecified number of Surface Mini tablets. Microsoft reportedly produced a Surface mini and decided at the last minute to not release the tablet. The number shows that Microsoft lost a total of $676 million for fiscal 2014.

Sprint stops T-Mobile bid, CEO Dan Hesse may be replaced

Sprint has been wooing T-Mobile for a while with Sprint actively looking to purchase the smaller carrier. Regulator opposition was strong since regulators in the US have been clear on several occasions that they like four major US carriers. Tuesday, Sprint announced that it has decided to stop trying to purchase T-Mobile and will move on alone.

 

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Rather than beefing up subscriber numbers by purchasing T-Mobile Sprint will now buckle down and try to add subscribers with better service. Sprint has reported losses every year since 2007. AT&T's bid to purchase T-Mobile was blocked by the FCC and regulators three years ago.

 

People familiar with the goings on at Sprint also say that CEO Dan Hesse will be replaced and that he could be replaced as soon as this week. A purchase offer by a French carrier Iliad was turned down by T-Mobile with execs saying that offer was dead on arrival.

Epic Games UK announced, after the company acquired Pitbull Studio

Epic Games has just acquired UK-based studio Pitbull Studio, which will be known as Epic Games UK from now on. Pitbull Studio was founded in 2009, where it worked with Epic Games as a close partner on Unreal Engine.

 

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Pitbull HQ is found in Sunderland, UK, with the studio still maintaining smaller branches in both Leamington Spa, and Guildford. In Epic's press release, the company has said that James Golding, Epic Games' Lead Programmer, has moved from Epic Games' HQ in Cary, North Carolina, to Guildford. Golding will lead an expansion of that office.

 

Robert Troughton, Pitbull Studio's General Manager, has said: "Becoming Epic Games U.K. was the next logical step in our relationship with Epic. We're looking forward to expanding our amazing team here in the U.K.". Mike Gamble, Epic Games' European Territory Manager added: "Setting up a bespoke Epic presence here and fully utilizing the Pitbull team as part of that enables us to support Unreal Engine 4 developers across Europe on an entirely new level".

Gannett tipped to buy remainder of Cars.com for $1.8 billion

Cars.com is a website where millions of people in the US go when they are looking for a new or used vehicle. A part of Cars.com is owned by the Gannett Company and it looks like Gannett now wants the entire pie. A person familiar with the deal says that Gannett is ready to plunk down $1.8 billion to buy all of Cars.com.

 

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The person claims that the deal could be announced as early as today. If the deal goes through for $1.8 billion, it would value Cars.com at $2.5 billion. Cars.com has been around for 16 years and is one of the biggest online markets for buyers and sellers of cars.

 

The website claims to have 11 million visitors monthly. No official comments have been offered from Cars.com or Gannett at this time.

US DOT may stop plans to allow in-flight cell phone use

Anyone who has flown on a commercial airline knows how annoying it can be when someone near you refuses to put up a gadget when asked to by the crew. I can only imagine how annoying it would be if airlines allowed people to use their mobile phones all they want while on a flight. As airlines are considering allowing phone calls during flights, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering weighing in on the subject.

 

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The DOT is considering the implementation of rules that would enforce a ban on in-flight cell phone calls according to the WSJ. The DOT is seeking comments on whether or not it should adopt a rule that restricts mobile calls on flights to and from the US.

 

The DOT is clear that there are no bans on in-flight calls in the works yet. Many of the major airlines operating in the US have already said they aren't inclined to allow phone calls in-flight. Things like texting or email would probably be allowed even if phone calls are banned.

Comcast offers poor families six months of free internet access

Comcast has revamped its low cost internet program that is in place for poor families to ensure that they have access to the web for education and other uses. The original program that Comcast offered was criticized for being too hard to sign up for. After the criticism, Comcast has revamped the program and is offering up to six months of internet access for free to new subscribers.

 

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The program gives poor families access to Internet Essentials for $10 per month if there are school age children in the house. Comcast is also offering existing customers with unpaid bills an amnesty program where they can be reconnected in some instances.

 

The catch with the amnesty program is that the overdue bills and unreturned equipment has to be over a year old to be eligible. For bills that are less than a year old, Comcast wants the debt settled before the customers can sign up.

Xiaomi outpaces Samsung in China to become first in market share

Xiaomi is a Chinese smartphone vendor that has been offering its wares on the Chinese market and in other places. The company has been fighting to get to the top of the smartphone market and has made a significant increase in sales to overtake Samsung in China. By surpassing Samsung's numbers, Xiaomi has become the largest smartphone vendor in the Chinese market.

 

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The stats for the quarter come from research firm Canalys, and the firm says that Xiaomi saw its market share in Q2 increase to 14%. Behind Xiaomi were three major smartphone manufacturers that all tied for second spot with 12% market share each including Samsung, Lenovo, and Yulong.

 

Xiaomi increased its market share considerably between Q1 and Q2, in Q1 the company held 10.7% of the market while Samsung had 18.3%. In the same quarter a year ago, Xiaomi held only 5% market share. Analysts point to high quality products and aggressive pricing for the impressive growth.

New York hotel fines $500 per bad review, refunds you if its removed

The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York has had couples booking weddings at their venue, but if they, or any of their guests or family leave a bad review on sites like Yelp, they will fine them $500 for every bad review found online.

 

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The hotel's online policy explains: "Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not. If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party".

 

But it's not all doom and gloom, because if you remove your review, the hotel will refund you the $500. For negative reviews on the hotel, employees will come in trolling, saying things like the post was "mean spirited nonsense" and "she made all of this up". The hotel fired back at one of the negative reviews over the rude treatment over a bucket of ice, where the hotel said: "I know you guys wanted to hang out and get drunk for 2 days and that is fine. I was really really sorry that you showed up in the summer when it was 105 degrees . . . I was so so so sorry that our ice maker and fridge were not working and not accessible".

China warns Microsoft not to meddle in antitrust investigation

China has issued a stark warning at Microsoft not to meddle in an ongoing antitrust investigation into the company, following a series raids in four of the company's Chinese offices.

 

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China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce posted a harshly worded warning online, demanding that Microsoft obey the law and "not to interfere with or hinder the investigation in any way," the New York Times reports. The government previously announced it was investigating Microsoft over neglecting to disclose product information and the way that it bundles its services.

 

Microsoft said in a statement that its business practices in the country are "designed to be compliant with Chinese law". But the Chinese government insisted that Microsoft's ending of support for Windows XP - used by 200 million in China - amounts to the company "abusing its dominant market position".

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