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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 251

Samsung is planning to open up retail stores, in Canada

Samsung's national head, James Politeski has revealed in an interview that the company is planning to launch their own, fully self-run stores in Canada. He told Canada.com that the company will have dedicated stores at parts across the country, and like Sony and Apple, will have specific designs and train staff itself, but Samsung would outsource the actual management to unnamed companies.

 

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Politeski didn't reveal whether the new Samsung retail stores would have their own service areas, which for Apple, have been very successful. Locations weren't given, either, but hints have suggested the first store would arrive in Yorkdale Mall, West of downtown Toronto. The mall is noteworthy in the way that it was the home of Apple's first retail store in Canada.

 

Samsung will want to have their own stores to push their own branded products, by staff who are trained in only Samsung products. Compared to bigger retailers such as Best Buy where they've been blamed for damaging brands by burying products in large display sections, have employees who don't have much technology experience, or knowledge in that particular brand.

Microsoft adds more than 800 patents from AOL in $1B deal

Not looking to be left out of the fun, Microsoft has acquired more than 800 patents from AOL in a deal worth $1 billion. AOL's stock surged 45% on the news of the deal and the fact that a "significant portion" will go directly into the hands of share holders. Patent advisory firm M-Cam Inc. values AOL's patent portfolio at $290 million.

 

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"Most on the Street viewed $300 million as the likely maximum value," explained Benchmark analyst Clayton Moran. "Relative to this expectation, AOL has created $7.63 per share in stock value." Because of this, the analyst believes a one-time dividend would be in order.

 

The sale will leave AOL with a license to use the patents as well as leave Microsoft with "a nonexclusive license for Microsoft to AOL's remaining portfolio of 300 patents, which include those for advertising, search, content generation, social networking and mapping technology." It will be interesting to see if Microsoft joins in the patent trolling.

RumorTT: Sony to cut 10,000 jobs to return to profitability as new CEO takes over

Sony isn't doing very well. According to one report, they haven't been profitable in 7 years. Another report pegs that number at 4 years. Either way, it paints a bleak picture as to the standing of the once giant company. A new report by Japanese newspaper Nikkei says that Sony is preparing to layoff 10,000 workers.

 

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10,000 workers is 6 percent of Sony's entire workforce. And this isn't the first time that Sony has made large layoffs such as this. Sony previously laid off 10,000 workers in 2005 and killed 8,000 temporary positions in 2008. But even those cuts weren't enough to save its TV business. These forthcoming cuts are expected to address the TV division as well.

 

More news will be forthcoming this Thursday when the new CEO, Kaz Hirai, addresses investors. The plan should include Sony focusing on its core businesses, but it's not exactly clear what those are. This is just a rumor as of right now, but we expect it to be confirmed this Thursday. More as it comes.

Analyst cuts Apple rating on prospect of iPhone subsidy revolt

With all the fanfare that Apple often brings to a financial discussion, it's odd to hear the words "Apple" and "downgrade" in the same sentence. But those two words found themselves together in a sentence released by BTIG Research's Walter Piecyk when he downgraded Apple's rating on the company's shares from "buy" to "neutral."

 

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And why shouldn't he? There is plenty for investors to be worried about in the company. First, they no longer have Steve Jobs. Old news I know, but it still has an effect on the company's future. More importantly, though, is that wireless carriers are getting fed up with the subsidies that they give to new iPhone buyers.

 

Carriers are taking a cut in their profit margins while Apple continually earns larger and larger portions. Take a look at AT&T: in 2010, AT&T's margin was over 44% but now are hovering around only 30%. "We expect post-paid wireless operators to remain firm in their plan to stunt the pace of phone upgrades in 2012 and we expect to see some initial evidence of their success in the current quarter," Piecyk said.

 

This would result in lower sales. But how much lower? Says Piecyk, "We expect Apple's iPhone sales to drop to 27.5 million units in Fiscal Q3, resulting in a revenue estimate that is $1 billion below consensus."

 

Ouch.

Instagram to be acquired by Facebook for $1B cash and shares, service to remain as-is for now

The insanely popular photo app and social sharing site Instagram has been aquired by none other than Facebook for a sum somewhere around $1 billion in cash and shares. CEO Kevin Systrom confirms that the service is not going anywhere and will continue to run as-is for now.

 

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Zuckerberg confirms the acquisition and says that the Facebook team will be "able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests." This purchase comes with some incredible statistics.

 

This deal took place roughly 551 days after Instagram's launch meaning that they made $1B in value in less than 2 years. That's simply incredible. But there's more. This incredible company only has 13 employees! Also, with a valuation of $1 billion, that means each Instagram user is worth approximately $33 a piece.

 

Zuckerberg posted about this on his Facebook Wall:

 

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it's the first time we've ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

We're looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we're going to be able to build together.

Teen sells kidney on black market to purchase iPhone and iPad

If this is the kind of stuff that's going on around the planet, I'm pretty sure I don't want to live on it anymore. This is no joke, no April Fools. This is serious. A Chinese teenager sold his kidney on the black market just so he could buy an iPhone and iPad. 5 people have been arrested in relation to the incident.

 

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The 17-year-old received a payment of 22,000 yuan, or about $3,500, to allow the surgical removal of his kidney. Ridiculous as it may sound, this payment only amounted to 10 percent of what the patient receiving the organ paid. This goes to show just how little the donor receives when selling organs on the black market.

 

This is just one of many incidents where youths are valuing electronic gadgets over their own bodies. It's a frightening trend. These kids think nothing of their future and make a quick decision to have a life changing operation just to be able to afford the latest electronic device. Worse yet, if their other kidney fails, they could be spending 10 times what they were paid in order to get a kidney transplant.

Indian government wants to creep, readying BlackBerry snooping system

More and more governments around the world are taking to creeping and snooping on their own citizens. Americans have to watch out for the Patriot Act, and now, citizens of India have to watch out for their government. The Indian government is readying a system to allow them to monitor encrypted BlackBerry e-mail and BBM services.

 

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This plan follows the installation of a BlackBerry server in Mumbai which hosts the data of the one million customers' data. The system is designed to allow "lawful access" to the data by the government if the user is suspected of criminal activity. There are some protections. In order to gain access, law enforcement must gain permission from the Union Home Ministry.

 

The system still requires law enforcement to send a request to the carrier or RIM for the data. Big businesses will not be affected by this because they're data uses a different system and the security authorities say that it is not of "high concern." RIM had no choice but to comply or shut down service after they were given an ultimatum similar to the one given by Saudi Arabia.

Samsung announces record profits

In stark contrast to the bleak news regarding HTC's financials, Samsung has reported record profits today as the first-quarter revenue is reported. Samsung close to doubled its profits from this time last year by bringing in $5.1 billion in profits which is up from $2.95 billion last year.

 

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The figures have been helped along by the sales of the hot Galaxy lines of smartphones and tablets. The two main devices that aided these record profits have been the Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy Note. Sales of TVs, such as my own, have also helped propel the figures into the record setting range. "Sales of new models of smartphones, such as the Note, were better than expected," analyst James Strong told Bloomberg.

 

"They have a good line-up of new products, so they will be able to keep the momentum alive for two or three quarters, at least." Another analyst speculates that Samsung shipped 44 million smartphones during the first 3 months of the year. This would make Samsung the biggest manufacturer in the world for that time period.

 

That figure would be three times as many smartphones as last year, and beat out Apple iPhone sales by a significant margin. With the Galaxy S3 in the works and the hype surrounding it, it would appear that Samsung's profits won't be taking a downward turn for a good while.

HTC's first quarter sales drop by 35% year-over-year

HTC continues down a bumpy road as sales continue to drop. The cell phone manufacturer who used to be the baby of the Android market has seen sales slump starting with the second-half of last year. These numbers, at least, are pretty close to what the company had warned investors to expect.

 

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HTC predicted these numbers in February when they last reported earnings. The company had been seeing sales doubling from year-ago levels until they hit a wall in the second-half of last year. HTC is struggling among competition from Samsung and Apple. Samsung is reporting record profits while HTC is seeing this slump, so it's not the market that is causing this.

 

HTC will be hoping to turn things around with its new line of high-end Android phones dubbed "One." The company has sunk a lot of money into a worldwide ad campaign. Also this week, HTC announced a new Evo-branded phone which is among the first for Sprint's new LTE network.

Twitter files lawsuit against spammers and creators of spamming tools

Twitter has redoubled its effort and commitment to fighting spam on the micro-blogging site by filing a lawsuit in the San Francisco federal court. The lawsuit names 5 of the most prolific spam tool providers, and the people that use them to flood the service with junk messages. The suit alleges that the people have broken the site's rules banning spam.

 

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The 5 named are TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, TweetBuddy, James Lucero and Garland Harris. The total cost of combating these spammers? The suit says Twitter incurred bills of at least $700,000, with an incredible $300,000 of that dedicated to TweetBuddy alone. It's not clear just how much spam Twitter removes each day, but they do say that they now process an incredible 350 million tweets a day from 140 million active users.

 

"With this suit, we're going straight to the source," the company wrote on their blog yesterday. "By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from having these services at their disposal. Further, we hope the suit acts as a deterrent to other spammers, demonstrating the strength of our commitment to keep them off Twitter."

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