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Rumors are circling that HTC's Beats Audio unit have acquired music subscription service MOG, according to a rumor reported by Business Insider on Monday. One of Business Insider's writers, Matt Rosoff, based his report on a single source, but Gigaom have also heard rumblings from a source that term sheets went back and forth between the two companies just a few weeks ago.
Who is MOG, and what do they do? MOG is a smaller music subscription service that has struggled against larger services like Spotify since launching in the US last year. There have been previous rumors that MOG were up for sale in the last few months, but MOG's CEO, David Hyman, denied news of its sale last month.
Om reported just a month ago that HTC were rumored to be in talks to launch its own music subscription service on its handsets, with Beats Audio founder Jimmy Iovine apparently a key player to these plans, which may have been motivated by the fact of the success wireless operator 'Cricket' has been having with its own Muve music subscription service. Cricket announced earlier in the year that Muve sports over 500,000 paying subscribers.
Google has come to the aid of Megaupload and Hotfile, surprisingly, where they filed a brief at a federal court in Florida, defending the file-hosting site Hotfile in its case against the MPAA. Google acuses the movie companies of misleading the court, arguing that Hotfile is protected under the DMCA's safe harbor. Google is also refuting claims being made by the US government in the criminal case against Megaupload.
It was back in February of 2011 that the MPAA announced a lawsuit against Hotfile, where the site's popularity is "a direct result of the massive digital theft that Hotfile promotes", the MPAA said. Two weeks ago, the movie studios asked the court to issue a summary judgement against Hotfile, and to shut down the site. The MPAA argues that Hotfile is a piracy haven, and should not be eligible for DMCA safe harbor protection.
This request did not pass the eyes and ears of Google, who have now filed an amicus brief in support of Hotfile, and according to Google, the movie studios are misleading the court by wrongfully suggesting that Hotfile is not protected by the DMCA. Google has pointed out that YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia are able to thrive thanks to the protection that the DMCA provides. Whereas, if the MPAA has its way, these and more services would be in quite serious trouble.
I'm having quite the laugh at this one. The Pirate Bay posted on their official blog that they are planning to experiment putting servers into low space orbit using radio-controlled drones to avoid being raided by ground-based police. While they will continue to only host the magnet links that they have been hosting terrestrially, this will make raiding and shutting down there servers much more difficult.
The front machines will still be located all over the planet, terrestrially bound, but all these machines do is forward you on to the secret locations of the actual servers hosting the data. These machines don't even have a hard drive. Right now they forward you to machines on the ground, but, if these experiments work, they may be sending your data into the last frontier: space.
Apple has decided just what it wants to do with its near 100 billion in cash reserves. Today, Apple announced that they would being buying back shares of stock to help fight the effects of dilution and start paying dividends of $2.65 a quarter which works out to about 1.8%. Let's put 1.8% in perspective. Intel pays 3%, Microsoft pays 2.5%, Texas Instruments pays 2.1%, and telecom giants like Verizon and AT&T pay out north of 5%.
I highly doubt that Apple is doing this to juice stock prices, but they may be doing it to offload some payroll costs onto stock holders. Most likely, however, they are using it to end the questions that people have been asking endlessly. Think about it, having a 100b cash pile doesn't really help investors and only spurs questions about their future plans.
Google is committed to being environmentally friendly with their data centers. They've been reducing power usage, and now they are using treated waste water instead of fresh water. By using water and evaporative cooling, Google has already reduced their power usage by half, according to Google. Google quickly realized they didn't need to use fresh, drinkable water to cool their servers, so they worked out a deal with the local water district to syphon 30% of the treated waste water that would otherwise flow into the local river.
Now, some of the water leaves the cooling towers as water vapor, and the rest gets sent to an on-site treatment plant where it is filtered and released into that same local river "clean, clear, and safe." The water is treated before going to Google, used to cool the servers and then processed once more before being released. They claim the water is cleaner than if they had never taken the water.
Today may just be Kim Dotcom's lucky day. I'm sure most of us remember that fateful day 8 weeks ago when his mansion was raided by police. Well, apparently, his house was raided on a court order that should have never been granted. A judgment from Justice Judith Potter on Friday declared the restraining order "null and void" and having "no legal effect" which means that the government may be forced to return his assets and property back to him.
Justice Potter has said that after the police found the mistake, they sought to correct the mistake after the raid by applying for the proper order, retrospectively listing assets already seized. This order has been granted temporarily, but Potter has said that she will rule on whether this means Mr. Dotcom should get his property back. The raid left him without any money or means to fight the charges that he was running the biggest criminal copyright operation in history.
Court papers show Akel stating Dotcom's belongings and fortune "must be released" because it was "unlawfully seized and restrained under the order". All of this does not guarantee Mr. Dotcom's property back, however. The law allows for mistakes, and for him to get his property back, his lawyers will need to show a "lack of good faith."
At least something good regarding air travel is finally happening. The FAA has announced plans to re-evaluate the use of electronic devices during taxi, takeoff, and landing. This will be the first time that this has happened since 2006. The unfortunate part of this is that they are only considering devices other than cellphones. So while you may not be making phone calls during takeoff, you may be able to get a few more pages done on the latest thriller novel you happen to be reading on your tablet or e-reader.
Previously to this, testing was an expensive and arduous task. For a device to be approved, it had to be taken up on an empty flight, by itself, on every plane in an airline's fleet on every single airline that wanted to approve the device for use. Clearly, this is an expensive and time consuming process, so the airlines haven't been conducting the tests. The FAA has pledged to work with "manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers" to solve the problem of gaining device approval.
Minority Report fans, check in, please. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has started up a new initiative, Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), where it aims to use sensor technology to detect cues "indicative of mal-intent", as defined by the DHS, as intent or desire to cause real harm, "rapidly, reliably, and remotely". They would use it to, "fight terror".
What is the FAST system capable of? Well, it has the features to monitor physiological and behavioral cues without contact. This means it is capable of capturing data such as your heart rate and steadiness of gaze of passengers that are about to board a plane. With said cues, FAST can then run through algorithms in real-time to compute the probability than an individual is planning to commit a crime.
According to the science journal, Nature, the first round of field tests for the program was completed at an "undisclosed location" in the northeast several months ago, where in lab tests, FAST reported a 70-percent accuracy rate. Not too damn bad for what would be a first-gen attempt/device.
PayPal have had the thirst for business for quite sometime now, and aren't just content with staying online, and so they should be. The company revealed their latest PayPal service: PayPal Here.
With PayPal Here, the service includes a free card processing app, as well as a unique triangle-looking thingo that attaches to most Android and iOS-based devices. From here, you can swipe a credit card at literally any location in the world, as long as you have Internet access.
This isn't something new in itself, but PayPal's transaction fee is: just 2.7-percent with no monthly fees. The 2.7-percent is universal to boot, which means you could use any card you like, including American Express, and you'll be charged just 2.7-percent of the total. At the moment, mobile card processing pioneer, Square, charges a universal 2.75-percent transaction fee.
Apple have a very delicious kitty of nearly $100 billion in cash reserves right now, with $97.6 billion to be precise. Come 9AM Eastern on Monday, March 19, CEO Tim Cook as well as CFO Peter Oppenheimer will discuss the "outcome of the Company's discussions".
Apple will offer this discussion as a phone call and as a live stream with replays available for two weeks afterwards. Apple have actively been discussing what they should do with their cash reserves, where other companies would spend it, or acquire other smaller companies, or start-ups, Apple have just been saving, saving, saving.
Investment analysts have complained more than once that Apple should offer a dividend payout to shareholders despite the stock being the largest in the world, as well as one of the fastest growing, too. Apple have always been careful of its spending, which is at least attributed to the late Steve Jobs. Most believed that Jobs had recognized what happened to Apple previously in his absence from the company, and used it as a sign to build a cash reserve in the event of an unforeseen circumstance such as a sharp market drop, economic crisis, or something along those lines.