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RumorTT: Google could acquire WhatsApp for $1 billion

If the latest rumors are correct, Google is looking at acquiring WhatsApp in a deal that could be worth around $1 billion. The deal reportedly started out four or five weeks ago, where Digital Trends' source said that WhatsApp is "playing hardball" and are pushing for a higher acquisition price. This price is being pushed "close to" $1 billion right now.


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With WhatsApp's immense popularity, and Google's soon big push into a possible unified messaging system - acquiring WhatsApp might be yet another smart billion-dollar acquisition by Google. We should hear more about this in the coming weeks.

Could Austin, TX be getting Google Fiber? We'll find out April 9

It looks as though the Austin, Texas could be getting Google Fiber. Google and the City of Austin have an announcement planned for this Tuesday, April 9. Sources in the city seem to think that the announcement relates to broadband, most likely meaning Austin will be getting Google Fiber.


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You are a leader here in Austin. Every day, your work and contributions help make our community better and stronger. That's why we want you to be one of the first to hear about something new coming to Austin. Please join Google and the City of Austin for an announcement on Tuesday.


There are definitely other explanations than Google Fiber. Google could be planning to test out same-day delivery, open a new office, or any number of things. But Google Fiber is somewhat likely. Austin did fairly well in the original contest for Google Fiber and Google has contemplated expanding outside of Kansas City.


We'll know more April 9 and will let you know the full details.

LOLTT: Copyright holders asking Google to take down their takedown notices

Every now and then a story comes along that makes you laugh out loud. For me, this is certainly one of those stories. Google has started receiving takedown requests of pages that contain a copyright holder's original takedown request. These robotically-generated requests are submitted because the original takedown request features the URL that was originally taken down.


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It's rather hilarious and also ironic. In the picture above, you can see one of the takedown requests submitted by Fox asking for a link to be removed. That link points to a previous Fox takedown request.


The system is clearly broken. Google is now handling over 20 million takedown requests per month and it shows no sign of slowing down. But just how we fix the DMCA isn't clear. Both Google and the movie studios have their own ideas and they are, of course, mostly contrary to each other.

ITC judge issues ruling that Samsung infringes upon key part of Apple patent

An International Trade Commission judge has ruled that Samsung infringes upon a key part of an Apple patent that deals with text-selection on smartphones and tablets. The ITC judge also ruled that Samsung did not infringe upon parts of a second patent owned by Apple dealing with detecting if a microphone is plugged into the microphone jack.


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Now that a ruling has been issued, the full ITC commission will convene and decide whether or not to uphold the judge's ruling. We are told to expect the final decision sometime in August. If the decision is upheld, it will not work out well for Samsung. The ITC can decide to bar importation of any device found to be infringing on the patent.

Tech giants descend on Washington to talk patent trolls with the FTC and DoJ

Four of the tech industries largest companies are in Washington today to appeal to the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice in an effort to put a stop to patent trolling from firms like Lodsys and Intellectual Ventures.


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Patent trolling has become a sort of industry all of its own in the last few years with firms headed up by lawyers buying up tech patents from failing companies or sell-offs. These firms have no original IP of their own and only exist to extort exorbitant licensing fees and lawsuit wins over everything from individual app developers to giants, such as Google.


The "patent assertion industry" has gotten so big that in 2012 it ate up roughly $30 billion in funds from large tech companies. Google has teamed up with BlackBerry, EarthLink and Red Hat and compiled a 22-page report explaining how Patent Assertion Entities have slowed innovation, decreased jobs, and overall hurt the US economy in the last decade.


The report noted that since 2007, these so called PAE lawsuits have made up over 65-percent of all patent lawsuits in the country.

Samsung expecting $7.7B in profits for Q1, up 53%

Samsung has announced an expected first-quarter profit of $7.7 billion, an impressive feat to say the least. While this estimate is higher than analyst predictions, it breaks Samsung's string of five quarters of record profits. This projection is down slightly from Q4 of 2012 when Samsung posted $8.3 billion in profit.


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Part of the explanation of lower profits comes from the fact Samsung is on the cusp of releasing the next Galaxy device. Similar to how Apple always suffers the quarter before a new iPhone, Samsung has customers who are likely waiting for the latest and greatest to come out.


We'll know the actual numbers for the first quarter on April 26. That happens to be three days before Apple reports its earnings.

Nokia closes flagship store in Shanghai

Nokia has announced that it will be closing its flagship store in Shanghai, China. Nokia is working on saving money and shutting down its failing retail stores should be a good way for the company to conserve its limited cash.


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Nokia posted the closure announcement on Sina Weibo and only garnered 938 reposts in three days. The store originally opened in 2007 and outlived Nokia's London store, which closed in 2009. On the other hand, Apple continues to open Apple Stores across China, with three in Shanghai alone.

Apple's 'Spaceship' campus over budget by 66%, price tag now sits at $5B

Apple's new Campus 2, also known as the "Spaceship" campus, is an expensive and complex undertaking. When the project was first announced, Apple budgeted around $3 billion. On a project of this magnitude, cost overruns are to be expected, but maybe not as large as Apple's.


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New estimates put the cost of the new Spaceship campus at around $5 billion. That's around 66 percent more than what was originally budgeted. Adding insult to injury, the projected move-in date has been pushed back from 2015 to 2016. But Apple can't cancel the project as it is a monument to the late Steve Jobs.


However, Apple is looking to save some cash. They want to reduce the cost by around $1 billion by reducing the fit and finish of the building. This means being less detail oriented and not building it to the same iPhone-level quality standards.


The question is should Apple be focusing its energy on building new products rather than a new campus? After all, stock price has suffered in the past year.

Verizon happy to follow T-Mobile if consumers don't want contracts

Verizon's CEO has said that the company would be happy to follow in T-Mobile's footsteps and become a no-contract carrier if that is what consumers want. He noted that it's not too difficult to change to a no-contract model and the company is waiting to see how consumers react to T-Mobile's move.


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Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam:

I'm happy when I see something different tried. We can react quickly to consumers' shifting needs.


Dropping contracts isn't unheard of. Portions of Europe already operate without contracts and consumers don't seem to mind paying the full price for devices. Whether American consumers will be open to the idea remains to be seen. T-Mobile argues that consumers save money due to decreased monthly service fees.


AT&T has also expressed interest in dropping smartphone subsidies in exchange for lower monthly rates.

DEA complains they can't tap iMessage due to encryption

CNET obtained a copy of an internal memo sent by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that complained about their inability to intercept iMessage messages. This is just the latest of law enforcement complaints that new technologies make tapping communication more difficult.


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Apple's iMessage utilizes end-to-end encryption making it near impossible for DEA to obtain copies of the message. They were able to discover the iMessage issue after requesting a record of text messages from Verizon. When they received the copies, they realized that the user had utilized iMessage. "It became apparent that not all text messages were being captured."


FBI director Mueller:

There is a growing and dangerous gap between law enforcement's legal authority to conduct electronic surveillance, and its actual ability to conduct such surveillance. We must ensure that the laws by which we operate and which provide protection to individual privacy rights keep pace with new threats and new technology.


Should Apple be required to implement a method to allow federal agents legal access to iMessage communications?

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