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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."

Apple to soon launch "the new Apple Store"

Apple sure does like this 'new' word, and is using it to push that they're going to open up 'the new Apple Store' shortly, reports Apple Insider. The notice can be found at the top of Apple online stores geared for kindergarten through 12th grade institutions. From here, shoppers are greeted with an alert about 'the new Apple Store". Apple says on its tease:

 

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The new Apple Store

Apple is launching a new online store, which is your tool to shop and place orders with Apple. Proposal creation, order status, and a dramatically simplified user interface will make it easier to do business with Apple - all in a secure and reliable environment.

 

Getting ready

The transition to the new store will be easy. Your current Apple ID and password will continue to work. In the coming weeks you will receive more information about the store's features, benefits, and launch date.

 

So it looks as though it'll be easier for education institutions, but what about the everyday user? Who knows for now. We should expect an overhaul or paint job on the Apple Store in general, but only time will tell. More as it comes.

Thousands of New York sex offenders blocked from online gaming networks

The New York attorney general's office and half a dozen gaming companies teamed up to clean convicted felons from their servers. That's right, there are now 3,580 fewer registered sex offenders playing online games thanks to "Operation: Game Over." New York state law made this possible through the data they require when convicted offenders register.

 

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This information includes e-mail addresses, screen names, and other online aliases. This information was then used by multiple gaming companies, including Microsoft, Sony, Apple, Blizzard, EA, Disney Interactive, and Warner Bros., in order to block the people from using their online services. This came from an announcement by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

 

"By leveraging the online identity information all registered sex offenders are required to provide, we are able to help reduce potentially harmful situations," Microsoft VP and Deputy General Counsel Rich Wallis said in a statement. "We're supportive of Attorney General Schneiderman's efforts to make the Internet, including online gaming environments like Xbox Live, safer for everyone."

Toshiba expanding flash production next year to cope with increasing demand

Citing ever-increasing mobile demand, which we all know is insane right now, Toshiba is planning to build a new NAND flash memory plant to cope with this demand, according to claims by a Japanese business paper. The Nikkan Kogyo understood it would be the second piece of a fifth plant in the Yokkaichi whore future had previously been in doubt over the tough Japanese economy.

 

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Construction is said to start in the summer, with the aim of it being operational by 2013. Right now, NAND memory is in the heart of virtually all smart devices (smartphones and tablets) and even solid-state drives, which the MacBook Air and Ultrabooks use exclusively. High-performance users, and even mid-range users also now use SSDs.

 

Toshiba is a main player in the SSD game, against the bigger competitor Samsung, Toshiba still ranks right up there, with the company sometimes being a source of storage supply for Apple. Toshiba is still considered one of the driving forces of the industry, where they're being quite aggressive in pushing flash technology and are planning 19nm manufacturing that could lead to single-chip 128GB memory which should help boost storage in the tight spaces in smart devices.

RumorTT: Foxconn to hire 18,000 new employees to help build the new iPhone for a June release

A Foxconn recruiter has let slip in an interview with World Business Satellite via TV-Tokyo that Foxconn are hiring 18,000 new employees to help manufacture the next-generation iPhone. The representative continued, saying that he believes the new iPhone could go on sale as early as June this year.

 

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You can actually see the conversation here, (fast-forward to around the 7:10 mark) and although its spoken in Chinese, the translation is said to be in Japanese. The recruiter says it "seems" like it will go on sale in June, not it "will" go on sale in June. But, in the land of Apple, nothing is 100-percent until they say so.

 

Another thing to consider is that the camera in the video is off in the distance, so it is completely possible they didn't know they were being filmed, and was simply talking about the product, or something else, or trying to get new workers in the door. Who knows. A launch in a few months would mean the last release from Apple, the iPhone 4S, has only enjoyed 8 or 9 months on the market, but Apple will need to combat any release from Samsung, like the GALAXY S III, if they don't want to see their market share slowly erode away.

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