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Best Buy to close 50 of its big box stores across the US

Best Buy are set to close 50 of their big box retail stores, as they said they would before the end of its 2013 fiscal year, and that time has come. Just days after Mike Mikan took over as CEO from Brian Dunn, they've listed the stores that will be closing down.

 

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Two locations have already been closed down, with six others to be closed before the end of the year, Best Buy also hope to have the remaining 42 closed by May 12th. Employees were informed of the news over the weekend, and the company is hoping to re-position them within the company, or at least offer some severance packages.

 

Best Buy is also trying to reassure customers that its all OK, and that even though their local Best Buy stores are closing down, they still have other stores in nearby locations. There's no word about the 100 Best Buy Mobile stores the company hopes to open up, but that information should follow through this year.

MegaUpload saga continues: Judge wants MegaUpload user data preserved for now

MegaUpload had a pretty successful day in court: they got most of what they wanted, as far as user data preservation, from a ruling by U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady. In short, the Judge has agreed that the data needs to be preserved, at least for now. He has sent the interested parties back into negotiations to come to a compromise.

 

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Unless the interested parties wanted to hire a mediator, or "special master," the judge will send them to a magistrate judge known for "bringing people together." If you're rooting for MegaUpload, like me, or have data on the service, this ruling is good. If you're rooting for the MPAA, government, or others, you may not be so happy.

 

It appears, from the Judge's demeanor, that he is unlikely to make a ruling which would result in the loss of the data. It seems as though most of the interested parties want the data preserved, they just can't seem to agree on how or who should pay for it. At least for now, the data is safe and Carpathia is still stuck footing the bill.

Wall Street mildly disapproves of Google, stock trading down 4%

I'm not sure what it was Larry Page said that Wall Street didn't approve of, but it could be either that the revenue was below expectations or the announcement of the stock split to create a new class of non-voting stock. The business will effectively run the same after the stock split so it's hard to see investors getting excited about the stock change.

 

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I have a feeling the stock is down due to the revenue being slightly less than expected. That said, profit was higher than expected, so that would seem to me to cancel out any effect of lower revenue. It's probably more due to the continuing trend of decreasing cost-per-click. It has continued to decline and has fallen by 12 percent year-over-year.

 

Google's stock is trading down by 4 percent, and that's a fact. Some of the above is speculation, but I have a feeling it's pretty close to accurate. It will be interesting to see how the stock split affects prices. I imagine the non-voting will be quite a bit less than the voting stock. I may even be able to afford to invest in Google.

Apple defends itself against Feds and Amazon claims

Just two days after the Department of Justice filed antitrust charges against Apple and major book publishers, Apple has responded to the claims. Contrary to the three book publishers who signed settlements immediately, Apple seems to want to fight this to the end. The other two publishers are also fighting the claims.

 

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Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr:

 

The DOJ's accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true. The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we've allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.

 

The response is similar to those of Penguin Group and MacMillan. The pricing of books and apps in Apple's store is set differently from music. The prices for books and apps are set by the publishers whereas the music is set by Apple. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. More as it comes.

Activision Blizzard is the latest casualty in the patent wars, being sued for virtual world infringement

Worlds Inc. has begun a lawsuit against World of Warcraft creator Activision Blizzard. The firm asserts that games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty infringe on its patent regarding a "system and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space." The patent seems extremely broad, but they did manage to use it to get a settlement out of NCSoft for City of Heroes in 2010.

 

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"Technologies created by Worlds have helped the businesses of virtual worlds gaming and the sale of virtual goods to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry," said Worlds CEO Thom Kidrin. "While we are pleased to see that the gaming industry and its rapidly growing customer base have enthusiastically embraced our patented technologies, we deserve fair compensation for their use."

 

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court. If this patent is truly infringed upon by World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, I think many other games would also be considered infringing. That said, I haven't read the patent in full detail. It's scary that a patent can be this broad. It stifles innovation.

RumorTT: Google could get rid of their Motorola hardware division

Google's acquisition of previous powerhouse smartphone maker, Motorola, was approved by the Justice Department in February. There was much talk that Google acquired Motorola for their roughly 17,000 patents they held. Just two months after the acquisition, rumors are circling that Google are looking to dump the entire hardware division.

 

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The Wall Street Journal has tapped the keys on their keyboards and are claiming that Google are already looking to sell their cable set-top box business, and that they've offered the handset division to China's Huawei at a premium. At the moment, Google licenses their Android open-source operating system to 55 manufacturers across the world.

 

This is where Google run into problems: owning the Motorola hardware division means they could risk relationships with these OEMs, if they were to move forward with developing "in-house" hardware. Other manufacturers could see this as a bias toward Google owning the Motorola hardware division. Getting rid of it, would calm the nerves, obviously. Senior vice president of mobile for Google, Andy Rubin, has actually addressed concerns over this at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Continue reading 'RumorTT: Google could get rid of their Motorola hardware division' (full post)

Google announce stock split, lets co-founders maintain control

Google have just announced a plan in which we'll see the company split its stock in an effort to preserve its corporate governance, and still give co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page control of the company. This will create a 2-for-1 stock split, where Google have said it will create a new class of stock, Class C, that won't sport any voting power.

 

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Any share holders of Google with Class A or Class B stock will automatically receive a share of the new Class S stock. This new class of shares will trade under a different ticker symbol. This new deal is said to preserve the voting power of Google co-founders. The stock proposal was announced as Google reported a first-quarter profit of $2.89 billion, or $8.75 a share, from $1.8 billion, or $5.51 a share, twelve months ago.

 

Excluding one-time charges and other items, Google's profits sat at $3.33 billion, or $10.08 per share, compared to last years $2.64 billion or $8.08 per share. Google easily beat Wall Street estimates which pegged them at $9.65 per share. Revenue-wise they were not too bad at all, hitting $10.65 billion, a 24-percent increase over $8.58 billion year-over-year. After backing out traffic acquisition costs, revenue amounted to $8.14 billion, missing Wall Street expectations by a slither, pegged at $8.15 billion.

Continue reading 'Google announce stock split, lets co-founders maintain control' (full post)

"One Sony", a new strategy for Sony from newly-appointed CEO Kaz Hirai

Sony have been struggling over the years, and much more so in the last year or so. We know this, and with newly-appointed CEO Kaz Hirai steering the ship that is Sony, they are now hoping a new set of initiatives designed to revitalize the sluggish business will help. The new strategy is called "One Sony".

 

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One Sony is said to focus on games, mobile and digital imaging in an effort to generate roughly 70-percent of Sony's total sales from these three divisions. Hirai's first big move is One Sony, and from his previous position within the PlayStation division of Sony, he is adding new titles to their downloadable catalog for the PlayStation Vita as well as the PlayStation 3, and will also improve subscription services on the PlayStation Network.

 

On top of this, the company is preparing better games for their tablet lineup and Vaio-based devices, as well as leveraging their accessories and peripherals market. Sony hopes to generate revenue of around $12.4 billion through gaming by fiscal 2014.

 

In the digital imaging market, Sony hopes to reinforce its development of image sensors, signal processing technologies, lenses and other key digital imaging technologies and leverage them in both its consumer products and broadcast/professional equipment. Sony are also talking of restructuring their television industry, and are said to be looking into expanding business into emerging markets like Mexico and India.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg made his offer to purchase Instagram, had deal wrapped up in 48 hours

When Facebook had announced they purchased Instagram for $1 billion, I was shocked, but not so shocked all at the same time. I had realised how popular Instagram was, and would get, but $1 billion from a company as powerful, as influential as Facebook? Just strange. Unless you wanted a ready-made, photo-sharing application and its creators, IP and everything else, so that your competition, Google and Twitter, couldn't scoop the opportunity before you could.

 

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It's being reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had called Instagram co-creator Kevin Systrom just after Instagram had secured $50 million in venture capitalist funding last Thursday, which pegged its value at $500 million. Zuckerberg called Systrom making his offer known, and by the end of the weekend Facebook acquired Instagram for double their pegged value.

 

How did Facebook make the deal so quickly? Well, Zuckerberg has majority voting power, where his Class B shares equate to over 57-percent. This makes his decisions kinda final, and his influence over them quite powerful. Most of his suggested plans would go through, unless he had a change of heart or a deliberate abstention from the voting process itself.

Tumblr is against display ads, CEO says it's 'complete last resort'

It's pretty hard to find a site on the internet these days without some sort of advertising. The larger the site, the more it costs to run and the more income the site needs to have. Tumblr receives and incredible 4.5 billion impressions each week which makes it one of the internet's biggest destinations.

 

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Incredibly, Tumblr has zero ads on it and they plan to keep it that way. Hosting servers for 4.5 billion impressions a week isn't cheap, so the company is trying to find a way to make money and become self-sufficient. Right now they are simply running on investment dollars, something that can't go on forever.

 

CEO David Carp has said in an interview that the site does not want ads. He says that Tumblr is "selling our desks to avoid that, it's a complete last resort." That's some dedication to keeping the site ad free, but can it really work? Karp and Tumblr are hiring a professional revenue executive to help monetize the site.

 

They have started selling highlighted posts for $1, which is basically a form of advertising, but not in the traditional sense. I really hope Tumblr can come up with an ad-free model that can then be copied by other sites across the web. I'm sick of being the 1 millionth visitor to every site I visit.

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