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The Chancellor of the Exchequer (say that ten times fast), who is kind of equal to the US Secretary of the Treasury announced that the government would make tex credits available to UK-based video game developers in the next budget. Andrew Eades, CEO of UK developer Relentless Software, said in a statement released by The Independent Game Developers Association (TIGA):
UK developers have been competing on an uneven global playfield. Today's decision by the government to back TIGA's tax break campaign will help ensure that we can remain competitive in the global market.
We were nearly here before, back in 2010, when the current UK government cancelled plans for gaming industry tax breaks when they came into power in 2010. Critics have said that the cancellations of these tax breaks were pretty catastrophic for the UK gaming industry, where they caused studio closures, impeded the nation's ability to compete internationally, and have caused a brain drain of talent seeking better jobs in countries like Canada.
OK. I admit it: since I purchased the new iPad, I've been obsessed about 'Draw Something', the Pictionary-like drawing game which is just insanely addictive. Most of the people around me, family and friends, have been playing it too, which makes it great. Today I wake up to the news that the maker of Draw Something, OMGPOP, has been acquired by social gaming powerhouse Zynga.
What price did Zynga draw on Draw Something's cheque? A very cool $210 million. TechCrunch has heard they were offered $180 million upfront, plus a $30 million earnout. OMGPOP chief executive, Dan Porter, now becomes a general manager and vice president of Zynga New York, with OMGPOP's employees joining Zynga. OMGPOP had not hit great success with titles up until Draw Something, when they bought the game to iOS and Android just over a month ago, they saw the title explode: racking up 35 million downloads, and 1 billion drawings.
It has also been reported that OMGPOP could have been worth more... a lot more. Simon Khalaf, the chief executive of mobile analytics company Flurry, said to TechCrunch's Kim-Mai Cutler, as well a Business Insider's Henry Blodget that OMGPOP effectively left $800 million on the tablet by selling to Zynga. The reason behind this is that Draw Something could've branched out into different areas, the same way that Rovio took the Angry Birds franchise and made it flourish.
Several job hunters were taken aback recently when applying for a job because of something the interviewer did. The interviewer pulled out a computer, and pulled up the applicant's FaceBook profile. When the interviewer found the profile was private, she did the unthinkable: she asked the applicant for his/her login information to the site. The scary part is that this seems as if its becoming the normal practice; employers checking FaceBook and the Internet to try to find the best applicant.
But what do they do when it's private? Apparently, they just ask the applicant. But, is this legal? Can they do this? Obviously, one can refuse, but they run the risk of not getting the job. Or, in the case of Justin Basset, he chose to withdraw his entire application, citing that he did not want to work for a company that requested such private information.
"It's akin to requiring someone's house keys," said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former Federal prosecutor who labeled it "an egregious privacy violation." However, some people don't have a choice, such as Robert Collins of Baltimore who complied with the request citing he felt he needed the job to provide for his family and had no choice.
It seems as though Apple is on track to pass Intel as the world's largest mobile device chip provider, if all things continue as they are, before the end of 2012. This is according to technology research firm, In-Stat. The continued success is thanks to Apple's amazingly popular mobile devices, as well as the selective use of manufacturing partners such as ARM and Samsung.
The study done by In-Stat included what are commonly thought of as "mobile" devices, this includes notebooks, smartphones, tablets, handheld gaming systems, e-readers and the iPod Touch. It completely excludes desktop computers and servers. By the end of 2011, Apple were already in second place, where they sat behind Intel, shy of 5 million processor shipments. Apple had a total of 176 million mobile processors shipped, compared to Intel's 181 million. This provided Apple with a 13.5-percent share of the mobile device market versus Intel's 13.9-percent.
Bit of a strange one here, but I guess it can make sense, too. According to a leaked e-mail from Alain Crozier, the chief financial officer of Microsoft's Sales, Marketing, Services, IT, & Operations Group (SMSG), Microsoft may install a policy that prevents employees from using corporate funds to purchase Macs and iPads.
The e-mail was passed onto a ZDNet writer, in its entirety below:
From: Alain Crozier
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:17 PM
Subject: Apple Purchases
Within SMSG we are putting in place a new policy that says that Apple products (Mac & iPad) should not be purchased with company funds.
In the US we will be turning off the Apple products from the Zones Catalog next week, which is the standard purchasing mechanism for these products.
Outside of the US - we will work with your finance and procurement teams to send the right message and put the right processes in place.
The current purchase levels are low, however we recognize there will be a bit of transition work associated with this. Details of historical purchases in the US are provided in the attachment to help understand the changes that will be needed.Thank you for your support and leadership on this...
This is just getting ridiculous. First, Apple sues for its "Slide-to-unlock" patent, and now Varia Holdings Inc. sues for a patent regarding using a menu to select an emoticon instead of typing it character-by-character. I mean, really? How did this even get a patent in the first place? Take a look at the picture below. "It is known that for many users, their email and instant messaging communications... often involve the use of emoticons, such as the 'smiling face' or the 'sad face,'" the patent says. "However, few email or instant messaging applications offer any assistance to a user to enter and use emoticons in their communications."
If this patent is true, they need to be suing more than just Samsung and RIM. Microsoft Live Messenger, AIM, and Skype all have menus for emoticon selection. So why just these two companies? It appears they have the most infringing devices. The lawsuit claims a long list of Samsung phones infringe along with Blackberry's Bold, Curve, Pearl, and Storm. If you would like to read the patent for yourself, you can view it here.
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.