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EA shuts down Maxis, the developer behind SimCity

Electronic Arts has been going through some serious tectonic shifts because of the issues that plagued SimCity since launch, where it has led to this moment: shutting the doors of Maxis, the developer who built the game.

 

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EA has confirmed the news with Polygon, after reports surfaced from now-former employees of Maxis. Development on SimCity and The Sims will continue, but it'll happen in Redwood Shores, California; Salt Lake City; Helsinki; and Melbourne, Australia. The Maxis offices in Emeryville, California are being closed.

 

The company hasn't said how many employees will be let go, but longtime Maxis employee Guillaume Perre tweeted today that "it's time to turn off the lights and put the key under the door #RIPMaxisEmeryville".

Round 2 - Smartflash is suing Apple after their previous $533m win

In more extremely ironic news and fresh off their $533 million lawsuit win against the tech giant, Texas-based company Smartflash is taking Apple into round two of hearings with attorney Bradley W. Caldwell stating "Apple has released new products that came out too late for inclusion in Smartflash's previous action against Apple."

 

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This new case is based around allegations that Apple has infringed on seven of Smartflash's patents through their release of the "iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad mini 3, and iPad Air 2 devices containing any version of iTunes that can access the iTunes Store or any version of the App Store app," as reported by PC World.

 

Smartflash also alleges that Apple has infringed on their patents titled "Data Storage and Access Systems." We haven't been told exactly how much Smartflash are chasing with this lawsuit, but expect it to be in the hundreds of millions yet again.

Mobile payment market is up for grabs among companies pushing services

The development and adoption stage of mobile payments is still relatively new, and it's anyone's game for companies putting effort into the market, according to a new Harris Poll.

 

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At least four in five smartphone owners in the US are familiar with some type of mobile payment offering - and one in three have embraced a solution. Apple Pay has driven interest, nurturing a booming ecosystem being utilized by banks, retailers, and a growing number of iPhone owners.

 

"Consumers are clearly ready for mobile payments," said Kathryn Koegel, chief of insights and communications at Steampunkt Collaborative, in a statement published by USA Today. "People are using their phones to conduct research, get discounts and deals, compare prices, find elusive items and navigate around stores. We are only a short step away from completing that circle by finishing the actual transaction with a mobile wallet."

Barnes & Noble is keeping the NOOK Media digital business, for now

Bookstore chain Barnes & Noble won't separate its retail business from its NOOK Digital Business, though said the company's college business will be spun off. It was previously believed the NOOK and college book store businesses would become a single entity independent of the retail operation.

 

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"Retail and the NOOK Digital Business will be able to leverage a more integrated technology infrastructure for improved efficiency and to better serve digital customers," said Michael Huseby, CEO of Barnes & Noble. B&N invested more resources into its NOOK reader and e-book library, but has fought for profitability.

 

B&N has faced increased pressure from online businesses, and is looking for ways to improve retail and online sales. The company still has 649 retail stores, but needs new methods to keep up with Amazon, while also adapting as more consumers read content on mobile devices.

Lytro receives $50 million investment, will put it into VR and video

Lytro is a name that is usually associated with premium cameras, but the company has just secured itself $50 million in funding from GSV Capital, that it will use to push into the worlds of VR and video.

 

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The company will lay off around 25 to 50 of its 130 employees, but it will be acquiring new talent with knowledge in VR and video. With Lytro concentrating, at least before this investment, on tubelike, selective-focus cameras, it would make sense for the company to make a splash in the world of virtual reality, and video.

 

VR video from a company with an eye for detail like Lytro feels like a match made in Heaven, where we could see the real-world captured in stunning 360-degree goodness. Lytro is still working on its third-generation camera for 2016, which the company teases "should be pretty intriguing".

YouTube isn't making money, even with those countless views on videos

Google isn't seeing any profits out of YouTube, according to The Wall Street Journal. The video streaming giant that Google has pushing out billions of views of cat videos, DC Toy Collector unwrapping various toys and chocolates, and more pulled $4 billion of revenues in 2014. This is up from $3 billion in 2013.

 

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YouTube's revenues were up $1 billion last year most likely because of Google introducing premium ads in the form of "Google Preferred". Business Insider reports that YouTube's main problem is that "people generally only watch its videos when they're embedded in other sites", but I don't know if that claim is really what happens out in the real-world.

 

Google now wants people to begin visiting YouTube's homepage in the same fashion that they turn the TV on, expecting to view high-quality content across various channels, again, in the same way they would on TV. This is a big part of the reason it has been signing over big checks to original content creators, in the hopes it will pull over more viewers.

Apple to pay $533 million due to iTunes patent infringements

Apple has just been ordered to pay $532.9 million by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas due to their iTunes service infringing on three different patents owned by Smartflash.

 

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This Texas-based company holds patents "relating to digital rights management, data storage and managing access through payment systems," as reported by Gizmodo. Claiming that they were used without permission, Smartflash first took Apple to court in May 2013 claiming that the tech giant was infringing on their patents related to Apple's song, video and game download services.

 

Apple claimed that these patents are too basic and general to be legally enforced, however US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap and the jury disagree. Smartflash started the claim by asking for $582 million in damages, however the final figure has molded to a slightly-smaller $532.9 million total.

Continue reading 'Apple to pay $533 million due to iTunes patent infringements' (full post)

Woolworths now allowing eBay parcel pickup, Australia Post unfazed

I certainly didn't see this coming - popular online auction service eBay has partnered with the Australian supermarket Woolworths for the power of good, allowing users to pick up their online purchases from a store closest to them.

 

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Announced yesterday, Australian residents in the states of New South Wales and Tasmania can have their precious goods sent to a collection of 90 Woolworths and Big W shopfronts where they can drop in and pick up their orders. eBay isn't looking to stop here, with plans set in place to expand to 250 merchants within the next two months alongside Woolworths claiming to be researching up to 12,000 web retailers for future possible partnerships.

 

Australia Post is reportedly not worried about this partnership, although it is already "facing its first full-year loss in its 30 year history as a statutory business" as reported by iTnews. A spokeswoman has informed media that this company will play "an integral part of the new eBay/Woolworths partnership," adding that "we will still pick up the parcels from the different eBay merchants and deliver the articles as addressed to Woolworths collection sites."

 

Is this a service that you would like to take advantage of? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook or in the comment section below.

Chinese government relying more on home grown hardware, technology

China has turned its back on Cisco, Apple, McAfee, and other major US technology companies, dropping the companies from its approved purchase lists. Instead, Beijing has approved thousands of Chinese-made hardware and software vendors, in an effort to boost the Chinese technology industry.

 

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One-third of foreign tech brands were cut from China's approved list, as domestic brands increased to almost 5,000.

 

"The Snowden incident, it's become a real concern, especially for top leaders," said Tu Xinquan, associate director for the China Institute of WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics, in a statement to Reuters. "In some sense the American government has some responsibility for that; (China's) concerns have some legitimacy."

Continue reading 'Chinese government relying more on home grown hardware, technology' (full post)

Apple spending big dollars investing in two new Euro data centres

Ireland and Denmark are in Apple's sights, with the tech giant announcing that we will see an environmentally sustainable data center constructed in each which country - set to cost them €1.7 billion ($1.93 billion US).

 

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These centers will be 166,000 square meters in size each and used for Apple online and cloud services for European customers. These fully renewable energy supplied facilities will be supporting Apple's iTunes, App store, iMessage, Maps and Siri applications.

 

No details have been provided just yet of exactly how this renewable energy will be generated and when asked by iTnews "on the design for power usage efficiency, total rack space capacity and server hardware choice for the data centers" no answer was given.

 

The Danish facility is set for construction in Viborg, Jutland and is located next to one of the largest electric substations. It's worth noting that excess heat produced by this data center will be used as part of the Viborg district central heating system.

Continue reading 'Apple spending big dollars investing in two new Euro data centres' (full post)

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