Apple held its annual meeting yesterday, where CEO Tim Cook had some interesting things to say about the company, its products, and its competitors. Investors and Silicon Valley executives are wondering if Apple is able to transform the technology world with a new device, with rivals taking big pieces of its market share away.
Cook said during Apple's annual meeting: "We're working on some things that are extensions of things you can see and some that you can't see". Cook was referring to the 32% increase in research and development spending in 2013. Cook was hit with a question regarding Apple's innovation, but said that the company preferred to not talk about products that are in development, as it didn't want to tip off the competition.
Cook said: "you an see we're getting ripped off left, right and sideways". Cook took some jabs at Google, saying that most Android users are still using older versions of Google's mobile OS, which poses a security threat. Maybe Cook forgot about the hotpot of disaster iOS has been in recently with security. He did compare it to iOS, where the Apple CEO stated that 89% of users on iOS-based devices have the most recent version of the software.
Sony has been having a fire sale of sorts lately in an effort to make up for recent financial losses, and today a new report has surfaced that says the company is in talks with an unnamed buyer with the intent of selling off its old headquarters located in Tokyo. This is the same building where Sony's founders, Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka worked on Walkman and Trinitron prototypes that made the company the electronics giant it is today.
The sell could net sony about $145 million to add to the funds it earned last year from selling buildings in New York City and Osaka Japan, but the move is not popular with Tokyo locals who think that the company should remain in its birth city. This sell off comes just after the company sold its VAIO PC business just weeks ago, and the one thing we should all take from this is that Sony is hurting and this is most likely not the last part of its business we will see sold this year.
We take a grilling seriously here in Texas. Some people prefer charcoal, some prefer gas, whatever you use you need to amok sure you have enough of it. It's easy enough to look in the bag and see if you have charcoal and shake the lighter fluid bottle. It's not so easy to tell if you have enough propane left in your tank.
That means that more than a few grillers end up running out of propane mid cookout and cursing the fact that most grills and tanks have no way to tell how much fuel is left. A new propane tank system called Refuel has turned up that will prevent you from ever running out again.
The tank system is app enabled and the app will tell you how much gas is left in the tank. The system has a waterproof scale that sits under the propane tank and sends data to the Wink mobile app. The app will tell you how full the tank is and how long you can keep cooking based on how much you used in the past.
Mt.Gox was the third largest Bitcoin exchange in the world, and was also the most controversial as well. A few weeks ago the service suspended all withdrawal transactions citing a known bug in the system as the culprit, and just a week later announced that all trading and transactions would return to normal soon. Unfortunately that last statement proved to be noting more than hot air, when the service completely went down a few days ago.
Today Mt. Gox, a Japanese-based company, filed for bankruptcy protection and announced that it is more than $60 million in debt. Today in a Tokyo court, officials from the company said that it has lost more than 750,000 bitcoins stored in its system owned by customers and that 100,000 of its own were gone as well. At the current going rate for a single bitcoin ($574.79 via Coinbase.) the a coins lost value at almost $450 million for customers and more than half a billion dollars total.
In the last few days Bitcoin prices have fallen several percent due to the news of Mt. Gox failing. During the court appearance Mt. Gox founder Mark KarpelÃ¨s said: "There was some weakness in the system, and the bitcoins have disappeared. I apologize for causing trouble." Unfortunately for thousands of customers, simple apologies will not return the millions they lost because Mt. Gox failed to acknowledge a bug in the system that had existed for years. Bankruptcy will save the company from debt, but there should be negligence charges filed in my opinion. To let a devistating software bug exist for that long while making hundreds of millions in revenue is simply unacceptable.
Netflix is one of the most popular subscription streaming services on the planet with a huge number of users. The company has a bunch of TV shows and movies from Hollywood and other places and it has original programs. Netflix's House of Cards is one of its most popular programs.
Netflix recently held its announced Netflix Hack Day. The company says that the Hack Day gives its engineers a creative outlet. Hack Day lets engineers start hacking on Thursday morning and work through the night. On Friday morning, they present their projects to their peers. Netflix says that it often sees good ideas from the Hack Day.
The Hack Day last week brought with it what Netflix calls "spectacular work." The projects this time out ranged from data visualizations, to product feature ideas. Netflix has offered up some videos looking at its favorite hacks that were presented last week.
MWC 2014 - Industry body GSMA named LG the Most Innovative Device Manufacturer of the Year at the Global Mobile Awards this week. LG has unveiled quite a few devices at this year's Mobile World Congress, which has pushed it into award territory.
LG unveiled the G Pro 2, G Flex, G2 mini, F70, F Series and L Series. LG's market share is under 5%, so it's great to see the South Korean device maker making waves in the market with various devices. Last year, LG's G2 smartphone beat Apple's iPhone to be named smartphone of 2013 by Stuff magazine. And with 2014 just beginning, and MWC closing up, the year is only starting for LG.
Vice President of LG, Chris Yie, said: "We are incredibly humbled that GSMA selected LG from among the many capable companies in the mobile industry to honour with this award. Innovation has been the key to LG's success. This recognition, in addition to last year's Best Smartphone of MWC 2013 award, is clear proof that our hard work and effort is paying off".
The best smartphone of the year award went to HTC with its One smartphone, Nokia's Lumia 520 was named Best Low-Cost Smartphone, while Apple's iPad Air took the Best Mobile Tablet award.
Fortune's latest list of the world's most admired companies sees that Apple, Amazon and Google continue to take top spots. The survey asks corporate executives to name the companies they admired the most.
Apple, Amazon and Google took out the top three spots, while Samsung, Microsoft and Facebook also found their way into the list. Apple continues to take out the number one spot, a position the company has held of seven consecutive years. Fortune does mention that investors are getting nervous waiting for the company to unveil its "next big thing".
Fortune says that Amazon has used both its "consumer-centric culture and super convenience" to "gobble up brick-and-mortar stores left and right". Fortune continues to gush over Amazon by saying that the company's "ambitions show no signs of abating: it recently jumped into the art market, and has started producing video, music, and literary content".
When it came to Google, Fortune wrote that the company "continues to find ways to make life easier (sometimes creepily so) via mind-blowing Internet products". Fortune also mentioned that Google spends considerable amounts of resources on "moonshot" projects, which has led to self-driving cars, Google Glass, and more.
The Japanese government believes bitcoin regulation needs to be a global endeavor among U.S., European and Asian governments, which will keep it more secure from possible money laundering. Meanwhile, US Congress should look at effective manners to regulate bitcoin and other virtual currencies, said Janet Yellen, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wants to see how Mt. Gox and other bitcoin businesses or exchanges dealt with cyberattacks, which is a major security concern.
Since the bitcoin currency is unregulated, and no regular financial institutions are involved, there is concern over transactions - and taxes. Bitcoin owner identities also are not public information, so there is a certain underground feel to the still volatile currency.
"It's not just the Ministry of Finance; many other agencies are related," said Jiro Aichi, Japanese Vice Finance Minister, speaking during a recent news conference. "As for its legal position, a currency (under Japan's jurisdiction) would be coins or notes issued by the Bank of Japan. At the very least, we can say bitcoin is not a currency."
A new report from analytics firm Strategy Analytics has been published that looks at the number of Wi-Fi devices that are in use around the world today. According to the report, there are about 4 billion Wi-Fi devices in use globally.
The research firm expects that number to grow to over 7 billion devices by 2017. A more interesting statistic is that Wi-Fi capability is now embedded in 68% of all consumer electronics devices sold in the US. If you look at the number of products with Wi-Fi sold around the world, 57% of all CE devices have Wi-Fi.
The biggest product category for Wi-Fi devices is mobile phones and tablets. Strategy analytics says that 59% of all Wi-Fi enabled devices fall into the mobile phone and tablet category. The second most common category for Wi-Fi devices is in the mobile computer (notebook) category.
Just over a month ago Candy Crush Saga developer King secured the rights to the word 'Candy', which sent the world into a spin. King has now abandoned these efforts, according to documents posted by the US Trademark Office.
A document signed on February 24 states "the applicant hereby expressly abandons the application for trademark registration made". King filed the trademark all the way back in February of 2013, which was approved on January 15, 2014. The trademark would've allowed King to use the word 'Candy' in apparel, video games, computer hardware and much more.
A spokesperson for King has said: "King has withdrawn its trademark application for Candy in the U.S., which we applied for in February 2013 before we acquired the early rights to Candy Crusher. Each market that King operates in is different with regard to IP. We feel that having the rights to Candy Crusher is the best option for protecting Candy Crush in the U.S. market. This does not affect our E.U. trademark for Candy and we continue to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP".
New reports have surfaced that indicated that Google is actively trying to stop states from enacting anti-Glass driving laws, and has its own lobbyist leading the charge in Delaware, Illinois, and Missouri. Google's stance on the matter is that the technology is still in its infancy and not in widespread use, and therefor does not garner special legislation restricting its use.
"I'm not against Google or Google Glass. It may have a place in society," said Delaware state representative Joseph Miro, primary sponsor of a bill banning texting while driving and Google Glass behind the wheel. "My issue is that while you are driving, you should have nothing that is going to impede the concentration of the driver."
While Google is certainly correct in that statement for the moment, Google Glass is becoming more poplar and more people are being invited to purchase the product every day. Before the end of the year, Google Glass will be in hundreds of thousands of users hands, and we will begin to hear stories of how the wearable technology distracted drivers and caused accidents, but how many of those claims will actually be true? How many of them will be falsely over-hyped by the mainstream media who has no clue how the devices even work? It's only a matter of time before anti-glass campaigns kick off similar to those against cellphone use in vehicles, and unfortunately the majority of the public will bite hook, line and sinker.
Since his first day on the job, BlackBerry's new CEO, John Chen, has been focused on rebuilding the company from the ashes left over from his predecessors tenure with the company. That does not mean that he would not sell off key components of the company if the right offer was made. During an interview with CNBC, Chen told reporters that he would sell off BlackBerry Messenger, the company's widely popular messaging service, if the price was right.
"If somebody comes to me with $19 billion I would definitely sell it," Chen said. "I mean, I would recommend to the board to take it." He was of course referring to the total selling price that Facebook acquired WhatsApp for earlier this week. Unfortunately it seems that the greatly inflated acquisition of WhatsApp has set a false precedence or "bar" if you will at what companies value their messaging services at.
Unfortunately what I feel is happening is that another .com bubble is inflating, and eventually the market will not be able to sustain all of these $1 billion, $3 billion, and $19 billion valuations, causing the bubble to burst the same way it did in the late 90s. It feels like every tech company, start-up, and company fork is being valued at $1 billion plus these days, and that trend does not seem to be slowing at all. Eventually something will have to give, and the aftermath will not be pretty if history is any indication.
T-Mobile might be the smallest of the four major carriers in the US, but it is putting pressure on other carriers to match its offers. AT&T has announced a move that is likely in response to pressure from T-Mobile that anyone with friends or family outside the US will appreciate.
Starting on February 28, anyone on an AT&T Mobile Share plan will be able to send unlimited text messages from the US to just about any other country at no cost. The change also makes voice calls placed to other countries like Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean with a monthly plans selling for $5 per month.
The minutes on that plan are a penny each. AT&T previously charged people $10 per month for international texting and a higher per minute rate for calls to other countries.
Samsung and PayPal have announced that they have teamed up to allow users of the Samsung Galaxy S5 announced this week to make more use of that fingerprint scanner the smartphone offers. PayPal will allow the S5 user to use the fingerprint scanner to login and shop at any merchant that takes PayPal.
That includes online and in-stores that accept PayPal. The use of the fingerprint scanner means that the user won't need to memorize a password or login info for multiple websites. PayPal says that is provides a secure wallet in the sky and no personal details are stored on the device.
The S5 has FIDO Ready software that can communicate securely between the fingerprint sensor on the device and the PayPal service in the cloud. The only information shared between the device and PayPal is a unique encrypted key that verifies the user's identity. The fingerprint authentication service will launch on the Galaxy S5 in April and will be offered in 26 markets.
When Facebook pushed its offer of $16 billion onto the table to acquire WhatsApp, the company's founders would've had their hearts drop - in utter surprise because its last funding round had them pegged at a value of around $1.5 billion.
In WhatsApp final round of funding, which took place in July last year, it secured $52 million from a valuation of around $1.5 billion. WhatsApp grew exponentially between July 2013 and just a few days ago when it was acquired by Facebook for $16 billion in stocks and cash. The sole investor in WhatsApp, Sequoia, owned around 20% of the company, which is now worth a cool $3 billion.
At $3 billion, Sequoia has seen an amazing 50x return in its investment in WhatsApp... something that nobody could complain about, that's for sure.
Stephen Elop, the ex-Nokia CEO, has taken control of Microsoft's Devices and Studios division, which includes a bunch of Microsoft's most important lines of products. This includes Xbox, Surface and the company's game and entertainment studios.
Don Mattick left the post last year for Zynga, where Julie Larson-Green took over. Larson-Green is moving on to another role, leading the "My Life & Work" time in Microsoft's Application and Services Group, where she will serve as its Chief Experience Officer. Larson Green wrote in an internal memo: "I want to thank each and every one of you for welcoming me and supporting me as the leader of Devices & Studios over the past 7 months. I'm very proud of what we have accomplished during such a short timeframe. We launched Xbox One, Surface 2 & Pro 2, blockbuster games like Forza and Ryse, a brand new Xbox Music and Video service, PPI, and some amazing unannounced innovations just to name a few...".
There were rumors that the ex-Nokia CEO would take over as the CEO of Microsoft, but does this position suit him more? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Set-top box maker Roku is reportedly interested in exploring a possible initial public offering (IPO), despite successfully generating $60 million its latest round of funding last May. The company has spoken with several unnamed banks, according to a Bloomberg report, though nothing has been confirmed.
It has been a good time for companies to go public - or seek to sell - as companies have been largely overvalued. If rumors are true, expect to hear Roku pick a lead banker and announce a tentative IPO launch date sometime later this year.
In addition to the appeal of additional funding, with Apple and Amazon both rumored to enter the set-top box market, Roku is going to have an even harder time competing.
While Facebook's $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp was most certainly the biggest tech news of the week, another popular messaging service is making big waves in the tech community as well, although most Americans have likely never heard of it. Korean messaging service Kakao, has announced that it is negotiating with Morgan Stanley as well as Samsung Securities in hopes of filing its first Initial Public Offering.
With more than 133 million users, the app is about 1/5 the size of WhatsApp in its user base, but with more than seven years under its belt, it is a vet when it comes to instant messaging and mobile gaming. Kakao is seeing to raise about $2 billion which is about 1/8th of what Facebook paid for WhatsApp, so in terms of scale, the asking price is technically a deal, but with the app being locked to the Korean market, it is still a bit of a gable. Some industry insiders are suggesting that Kakao could be seeing the capital in an effort to expand its world wide presence, but nothing official has been announced yet.
Typically, when you think about a plug-in hybrid car performance isn't something that comes to mind. The majority of hybrids on the market today are aimed at being green and sipping fuel with no thought of performance at all. Think Toyota Prius or Ford Fusion Hybrid. Volkswagen has unveiled a new plug-in hybrid that offers fuel efficiency and impressive performance.
The Golf GTE isn't going to compete with a sports car, but it is certainly more exciting than a Prius. The GTE is a plug-in hybrid with a battery pack that can recharge from a wall outlet in only 3.5 hours. The car has a 1.4L 148 hp turbo direct-injected engine.
The car also has an electric motor producing 101hp. Combined the car has 201 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That equates to a top speed of 135 mph and a 0-62 mph time of 7.6 seconds. The car can also drive for 31 miles on electricity only and reach a top electric speed of 81 mph.
A company called ART+COM Innovationpool GmbH (ACI) has announced this week that it has filed a patent infringement suit against Google. The suit has to do with Google allegedly infringing on a patent that ACI holds. The patent in question is # RE44,550. The title of that patent is "Method and Device for Pictorial Representation of Space-related Data."
ACI takes issue with how much Google Earth looks like its Terravision service. Terravision is the commercial implementation of the patent at the heart of the case. ACI says that Terravision was developed a decade before Google Earth.
Looking at the image here, it is clear that the Terravision service and Google Earth are very similar in how they look. ACI also says that it has issue with some of the executives at Google, particularly Michael Jones, CTO of Google Earth, and Brian McClendon, VP of engineering for Google Maps.
China Mobile added a huge number of new high-speed data subscribers in January, with over 14 million new customers joining the world's largest wireless carrier. This is mostly thanks to the iPhone, which China Mobile started selling on January 17.
The 14 million new high-speed data subscribers represents a 7.4% growth for the first month of 2014, with the competition - China Unicorn, seeing an additional 3.2% customers for the month. China Mobile was unable to offer the iPhone until late-2013, but it was locked to 3G on the network's TD-SCDMA technology. Now that it has unleashed its TD-LTE 4G network, things are looking up for the world's largest wireless carrier.