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Starting next year, the British government will decriminalize online video game, music and movie piracy, as well as totally removing harsher punishment plans after it has considered them unworkable. In 2015, file sharers will be sent four warning letters telling them of their activity being illegal, but after the fourth letter, no more correspondence will take place.
The British government has called this new scheme the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), and has arrived after many years of discussions between ISPs, British politicians, and the movie and music industries. This has involved the UK's biggest providers - BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky - with each of them signing up for VCAP, leading the way for the smaller providers to soon join them.
The newly installed scheme will replace anti-piracy measures that are already in place across the country, which included cutting users' Internet connections, as well as creating an ever-growing database of known file sharers. Chief Executive of the BPI, Geoff Taylor talked about VCAP, where he said that: "persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection". He added: "VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It's about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice".
That infamous hawker of hype and high-price handsets, Apple Corporation, has just posted its quarterly profits - of 7.75 billion dollars, up a very respectable 12 percent compared to the same time last year.
It claimed the runaway success of its latest iPhone models is to thank for the strong growth, as well as a swelling of its business in China, where revenue was boosted 28 percent to reach 5.9 billion dollars. The company brought in over 10.3 billion in operational cash flow, it said. "Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters," Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said in a statement. "We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can't wait to introduce."
For now it looks like the hype train is showing no signs of stopping, as the entire blogosphere speculates on what's next for the iconic iPhone. What's a little less on everyone's lips, though, is the iPad - sales of which happened to plummet for a second quarter in a row, down by a pretty substantial nine percent to 13.3 million.
Microsoft has announced its fiscal fourth quarter earnings, and although it's in profit, the company claims it took a hit from Nokia's handset business.
Quarterly profit was $4.61 billion, down from $4.96 billion for the same quarter last year. That leaves it at 55 cents per share, quite a touch short of Wall Street's expectations of 60 cents per share on average. And while the acquisition of Nokia's handset business may have impacted on Microsoft's quarterly profits, revenues reached $23.38 billion, beating estimates of $23 billion, with the company largely having Nokia sales to thank for this. Enterprise also performed well.
"We are driving growth with disciplined decisions, bold innovation, and focused execution," Satya Nadella, new-ish Microsoft CEO said. "I'm proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off - our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate." Executive veep Amy Hood said in a statement that as the company enters fiscal 2015, it's "focused on aligning" its resources towards strategic investments - perhaps referring to Microsoft's recent decision to make one of the largest job cuts in the history of the tech industry - of a staggering 18,000 people.
Consumers for electronic goods outside America pay hundreds more than their US counterparts, according to a new report.
British consumer rights magazine Which? found that manufacturers and stores are pushing up the price for tech in the country, including almost 1,000 dollars more for a Samsung TV. Americans buying an Apple Macbook Pro 13in will get their models 600 dollars cheaper than on the other side of the Atlantic, the report claims. Sony's PS4 or Microsoft's Xbox One were 160 dollars cheaper in the States.
Which exec director Richard Lloyd pushed manufacturers to explain why their prices are hiked so much abroad. "UK consumers are getting a raw deal by paying up to hundreds of pounds more for the same tech products on sale in the US," he said. "Manufacturers should play fair and explain why consumers are paying more for buying in the UK."
Gift cards are the go to gifts for many people around the world for birthdays and holidays. Gift cards might be impersonal, but many people like to get and give them. Word has surfaced that Netflix is gearing up to sell gift cards in stores in 40 different countries around the world where it operates.
The gift cards will be available in select stores in the US, Germany, Mexico, Canada, and other places. The gift cards will allow users to pay for Netflix service without having to use a credit card for sign up. A note from Netflix about its gift card plans included an image of a $30 gift card; the service starts at $7.99 monthly.
"In mature markets, gift cards will extend our brand presence and make it easier to access Netflix," the company said in its letter. "In newer markets, gift cards help build the brand and provide an easier alternative for consumers to join Netflix in markets with developing online payments."
Sources are reporting that Yahoo has made a significant purchase spending over $200 million to purchase mobile analytics company Flurry. Flurry is more than a mobile analytics firm and has its hand in mobile advertising. Sources claim that the price paid for Flurry could be in the $200 to $300 million range.
Rumors had been swirling that Flurry was on the market with one source indicating it was looking for $700 to $800 million. If the sources in the Yahoo purchase are correct, the purchase price came nowhere near that price.
So far, no official confirmation from Yahoo or Flurry has been made on the deal. Flurry was founded in 2005 and is one of the largest firms in mobile app analytics.
Audiophiles are willing to spend extra money to get products that better reproduce the music they love to hear. We see this all the time with some folks willing to fork out hundreds and hundreds of dollars for things like headphones and music players. Most of us think of the iPod when shopping for a music player, but audiophiles have another device they are buying in Japan.
Sony launched the thick Walkman ZX1 in Japan a while back. The ZX1 is a niche product and sells for a lot more than your typical iPod. Despite having a price of $700 in Japan, it is said to be selling very well. The secret to success for the ZX1 is its support for a high-end, high-resolution audio format.
That audio format is 24-bit 192kHz FLAC audio files. Sony will have some competition in the market for supporting this format with the Kickstarter backed PonoPlayer due to land in October supporting the same format. As of now, the Sony ZX1 is available in Japan and a few other locations in Asia, no word on rolling the device out to the US or other countries has been offered.
Verizon has launched a new rewards program to help encourage users to do things like pay bills and sign up for new Verizon services. The idea is that each time you pay your bill on time or up your data plan, you will be given a specific number of reward points that can later be redeemed for gift cards.
On the surface, this sounds like a pretty good deal, but reports indicate that in the fine print Verizon Smart Rewards also requires users to opt into Verizon Selects. If users don't realize that opt in is required, they may not realize that by default location data and web surfing data is tracked by Verizon.
Verizon uses that data to target the ads people see on their smartphones. The good news is that you can leave Verizon Selects and still use Smart Rewards after signing up, but you will lose the extra rewards points you get for enrolling in Verizon Selects.
If you happen to live in an area where Verizon has its fast FiOS internet connectivity, Verizon has some good news about an upgrade you may like to hear. Verizon has announced that it is boosting the upload speeds of its FiOS service for almost all of the connections on the FiOS network to match the download speed.
That means users will get a synchronous connection that makes it much faster to upload content to the internet. This will be particularly nice for users who upload lots of large video files to sharing sites like YouTube.
The lowest cost FiOS plan will offer 25Mbps upload and download speeds, which is a boost from 15Mbps down and 5Mbps up. Current subscribers will see their speeds increase over the coming months. With the 25Mbps upload speed, customers would be able to upload a 3GB HD video in 16 minutes.
When Facebook announced it was acquiring Oculus VR back in March, it had the entire world up in arms - myself included. Time has passed, and those worries have all but died down, with the news that the acquisition is now final, with an update issued by both of the companies.
Facebook and Oculus VR said in a joint statement: "We're looking forward to an exciting future together, building the next computing platform and reimagining the way people communicate". Back in March, Facebook said it was going to acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion, in a deal that would include $400 million in cash, and 23.1 million shares in Facebook valued at $1.6 billion.
At the time, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook said: "Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate". In April, the Federal Trade Commission approved the deal. Right now, people are waiting for their Development Kit 2 (DK2) units to arrive, sporting a 1080p low-persistence screen, and much more.