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Spotify launches in Australia and New Zealand

Spotify says "G'day" to Australia. In other words, Spotify is now available for use in Australia. This should make a good number of Australians happy, including our very own Anthony Garreffa. Spotify is launching three versions including Spotify Free, Spotify Unlimited, and Spotify Premium.

 

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"Spotify is a game changer," says Kate Vale, Spotify's Managing Director Australia and New Zealand. "This is a revolutionary new music service that's free, simple, and provides lightning-fast access to one of the world's biggest music libraries. We hope Australian music fans will love Spotify as much as they do across Europe and the US."

 

Spotify Free is, as the name suggests free, and is ad supported. Spotify Unlimited costs $6.99 a month and gives users ad free access to Spotify a user's PC. Spotify Premium is $11.99 a month and provides the same features as the two prior and also allows users to listen to Spotify on the go on a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device.

Continue reading 'Spotify launches in Australia and New Zealand ' (full post)

Dish Network gets a warning from Discovery CEO about skipping ads

Discovery's CEO is not one bit happy with Dish Network's new ad skipping technology in the Hopper DVR. Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav has let Dish Network know that skipping ads could damage the industry as content creators lose one of their revenue streams. As a result, subscription fees would likely skyrocket.

 

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"Charlie Ergen and Dish are a distributor of content," he said. "They need us to reach homes with our content. And if there is not going to be advertising fees, then there needs to be a lot higher subscriber fees." With increasingly expensive shows and production costs, quality content needs to money offered by advertisers to keep subscription costs low.

 

As of right now, the Hopper DVR's technology only works on broadcast TV, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be used on premium channels such as Discovery. Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt agrees that the technology could easily destroy TV. "The dual stream of advertising and subscription revenue has been great for content creators," he said. "We have more TV than we could have ever imagined. I don't think we want to destroy one of those revenue streams."

 

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong opinion differs: "The video and cable industry needs to think of advertising differently," he said. "The reality is that consumers today are super-engaged. So how what would you put around that program or in program that doesn't look like traditional advertising? How do you make more engaging advertising?"

Microsoft: Windows Phone is beating the iPhone in China

Microsoft's Windows Phone stepped through the doors of China just two months ago, and in that time the Redmond-based company has already secured 7-percent of the smartphone market share.

 

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Apple's iPhone has just 6-percent of the market share in China, which means in two months time, Microsoft are doing quite well for themselves overseas. Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer for the Greater China Region (wouldn't that look good on your resume?), Michel van der Bel, sees the market ghrowing further, saying "we've only just begun".

 

He notes that the combination of smartphones and Windows PC tablets will boost Microsoft's traction among both Chinese individuals, and businesses. Microsoft do face continued competition from Android, who has an astonishing 69-percent market share in China. Microsoft currently employs 2,500 or so people in its R&D department in China, but Bel says that Microsoft needs to, and will have to invest much more into the country.

HP to slash up to 30,000 jobs

Hewlett-Packard (HP) are set to slash up to 30,000 jobs in order to restructure themselves in the competitive business that is IT, thanks to the huge numbers smart devices have been pulling lately.

 

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HP have nearly 350,000 employees, so we're looking at a reduction of 10-percent (or so) of their entire staff. Anonymous sources have said that HP would cut between 25,000 and 30,000 jobs. HP are expected to announce the cuts this week in their quarterly earnings call, where it's expected HP won't fare so well.

 

Cutting just 18,000 jobs would save HP nearly $1 billion per year according to Brian Marshall, an analyst for ISI Group. But, HP are expected to lose $5 billion of its annual revenue this year, down from $127 billion to $127 billion. New CEO Meg Whitman has said she wants to spend more money on research and development in order to stir up innovation.

Continue reading 'HP to slash up to 30,000 jobs' (full post)

ARM CEO expects 20% of notebook PC market

ARM's CEO has some hefty expectations when it comes to the future of the notebook PC market, where he predicts the company will have processors inside between 10- to 20-percent of the notebook PCs by 2015.

 

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Warren East spoke to The Wall Street Journal, where he said that ARM will have a bigger impact on the PC market than rival Intel will have, as it attemps to enter the smartphone market.

 

East may expect up to 20-percent market share for ARM-based notebooks by 2014-2015, but he believes Intel-powered smartphones will only take between 5- and 10-percent of the smartphone market. Intel-powered smartphones have just begun their roll-out, with many more over the coming months.

Facebook completes first post-public acquisition, acquires Karma

There's been a lot of news today about Facebook and its IPO and here is another. Facebook has just completed its first acquisition after becoming a publicly traded company. The mobile commerce startup Karma has been acquired by Facebook. Karma specializes in apps for gifting friends and family. The acquisition sees 16 employees joining Facebook.

 

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The terms of the deal are undisclosed as of now. The acquisition should help Facebook monetize its app and mobile offerings, something its admittedly weak in. Facebook said in a statement: "We've been really impressed with the Karma team and all they accomplished in such a short time. This acquisition combines Karma's passion and innovative mobile app with Facebook's platform to help people connect and share in new and meaningful ways."

Continue reading 'Facebook completes first post-public acquisition, acquires Karma' (full post)

Facebook IPO is first to trade 500M shares in first day

A lot of the talk today has been about Facebook's IPO which, while successful, did have a few surprises in store for Facebook and onlookers. First, Facebook didn't start trading on time due to a Nasdaq glitch. Apparently Nasdaq had an issue with its message relay system which wasn't sending out confirmations of purchases and sales.

 

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That glitch doesn't seem to have affected total trade volume, however, as the Facebook IPO becomes the first one ever to trade 500M stocks in its first day. Prices for the stocks remained fairly level, spiking up to $42 and closing at $38.37. The stock price was set at $38 to start trading off. Within the first 30 seconds, 82 million shares had been traded.

 

It's a bit surprising that the stock didn't spike above $42 given the hype surrounding the IPO. The fact that it traded pretty level is a good indication that Facebook chose a good opening price. As such, it netted Facebook just about as much money as it possibly could and didn't give the early traders the money instead.

A new study shows BitTorrent piracy leads to higher album sales

BitTorrent may not be all bad for the music industry which is contrary to how they would like to portray it. It seems that piracy could aid album sales, if a new study is to be believed. North Carolina State University assistant professor Robert Hammond examined prerelease albums being BitTorrented and the album sales of said albums.

 

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The investigation netted some interesting results. What he found was that there was a correlation between the two, although it was pretty small. Keep in mind that correlation does not equate to causation. Since this is an observational study rather than an experiment, it's impossible to say with certainty that BitTorrent aids album sales.

 

It is, however, possible to indicate that they seem to. After watching 1095 albums, Hammond noted "The findings suggest that file sharing of an album benefits its sales. I don't find any evidence of a negative effect in any specification using any instrument." The average increase in sales was around 59.6 albums, so its not a landslide increase.

 

This study also does not account for BitTorrent use after the release, nor does it account for singles downloads and sales, which are more likely to occur with a casual pirate. In other news, a similar study has shown similar results in that movie rips don't seem to affect box office revenues.

Facebook sued for $15 billion over alleged privacy violations

It looks as though Facebook may have to sell just a bit more stock to pay for a lawsuit that has been filed in San Jose, California Federal Court. While things may be looking great Wall Street, the courtroom picture is a bit more bleak. Stewarts Law US has combined 21 individual lawsuits into one amended class action suit seeking $15 billion.

 

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The previous lawsuits date back to 2011 and allege that Facebook violated user privacy by tracking web usage. The new class action lawsuit alleges that Facebook violated the US Wiretap Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Stored Communications Act, along with others. The US Wiretap Act grants up to $100 a day per violation up to $10,000.

 

Specifically, the lawsuit makes claims that Facebook tracks users even once they are no longer logged in. "This is not just a damages action, but a groundbreaking digital-privacy rights case that could have wide and significant legal and business implications," David Straite, a Stewarts Law partner told Bloomberg via e-mail.

 

This isn't the first time someone has sued the social media giant over alleged web tracking. Back in 2011, a Mississippi resident filed a lawsuit after 42-year-old Kansas lawyer John Graham did. These aren't the only instances, just the ones that come to mind. At the time of writing, Facebook has not commented on the lawsuit. I imagine they are all sleeping after the all-night hackathon.

Microsoft renews 'buy a PC, get a free Xbox' promotion for students in US, Canada

If you missed out on Microsoft's deal last year, don't fret as they have brought it back again this year. Requirements are similar, though it seems as though Canadian's are getting a slightly better deal than Americans. The promotion? Buy a new PC worth at least some amount at a participating retailer and get a free Xbox360!

 

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Here are the requirements as Microsoft says, so that I won't be held to anything:

 

Starting May 20th in the U.S., students who buy a qualifying Windows PC worth $699 or more at participating retailers can get a 4GB Xbox 360 console for free, just like last year! Starting May 18th in Canada, students who buy a Windows PC worth $599 or more can also get a 4GB Xbox 360 console for free!

 

Participating retailers in the US include Best Buy, Dell.com, Fry's Electronics, HPDirect.com, Microsoft Stores, and NewEgg.com. In Canada, they include Best Buy, Dell.ca, Future Shop, Staples and The Source.

 

Canadians only have to purchase a computer worth $599 whereas Americans have to spend $699. Computers at those price points are pretty nice all-in-all and will net you a free Xbox360 if you can prove you are a student. Sure, most people like either gaming on Xbox OR PC and not really both, but it is still a good deal.

 

If you're a PC gamer, you can just sell the Xbox 360 to a college friend. If you're an Xbox gamer, you probably already have an Xbox.

Continue reading 'Microsoft renews 'buy a PC, get a free Xbox' promotion for students in US, Canada' (full post)

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