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When Facebook announced it was acquiring Oculus VR back in March, it had the entire world up in arms - myself included. Time has passed, and those worries have all but died down, with the news that the acquisition is now final, with an update issued by both of the companies.
Facebook and Oculus VR said in a joint statement: "We're looking forward to an exciting future together, building the next computing platform and reimagining the way people communicate". Back in March, Facebook said it was going to acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion, in a deal that would include $400 million in cash, and 23.1 million shares in Facebook valued at $1.6 billion.
At the time, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook said: "Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate". In April, the Federal Trade Commission approved the deal. Right now, people are waiting for their Development Kit 2 (DK2) units to arrive, sporting a 1080p low-persistence screen, and much more.
Smartphone makers and other firms know that one of the biggest emerging markets for all electronics products is China. Smartphone firms are working hard to get into the Chinese market where business is growing while sales in other more developed markets are slowing.
China has a homegrown brand that is giving firms from other countries a big run for their money, that Chinese brand is Huawei. Huawei has announced that it has had a 19% sales increase in the first half of 2014. The company says that it expects profit margins in the area of 18.3% for the first half of the year.
Those numbers make it one of the most successful smartphones makers in the world. IDC shows that Huawei has shipped 13.7 million smartphones in Q1 2014 making it the third largest smartphone vendor in the world.
If you haven't noticed, consumers don't care for DRM. We like to buy books and music once and then put them on any of the devices we own that we want to. DRM will often keep you from installing your legally purchased content on all of your devices. A new report has been published looking at indie books on Amazon comparing the sales success of DRM laden titles to those lacking DRM.
The report has found that independent books being sold on Amazon without DRM are selling at a 2:1 rate compared to those with DRM. Digital books from the big five publishers almost all use DRM. When it comes to indie books, only about 50% of the titles are published with DRM.
At the end of the day, the report found that independent books selling without DRM installed significantly out-earned titles that had DRM. The only price point where DRM titles from independent authors outsold titles without DRM was at $6.99, where two books from a single author are outliers.
The lure of bitcoins has potential suitors interested in learning about the cryptocurrency, but after losing 45 percent of value in 2013, the slide will continue in 2014, Bloomberg Global Poll respondents noted. The value peaked at $1,100, but dropped, with some financial analysts wondering if the bitcoin bubble popped already.
Over half of survey respondents (55 percent) said bitcoins and other virtual cryptocurrencies have unsustainable currency trades, with 14 percent also saying bitcoin is closing in on a bubble - while 6 percent are optimistic and say no financial bubble is currently forming. The last 25 percent said they are unsure of what's going to happen with the currency.
An assortment of businesses and retailers accept bitcoin for payment, but some financial specialists and government officials aren't drinking the Kool-Aid just yet. It's difficult because bitcoin values have varied in 2014, from a low of $341 up to $900, while currently valued at $623 per bitcoin - and headlines find bitcoin more during controversies than victories.
PC manufacturer Dell is the latest major company to join the bitcoin cryptocurrency bandwagon, with CEO Michael Dell confirming the announcement. Dell has partnered with Coinbase to help process payments, and the cryptocurrency receives a 1 percent processing fee following $1 million in sales.
"We've fostered a close partnership with the Dell team and that's been instrumental in getting the Coinbase integration up and running in such a short timeframe," said Fred Ehrsam, Coinbase co-founder, in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to support the team as they explore other ways to offer even more functionality when it comes to bitcoin payments."
The updated Dell 'Terms and Conditions' portion of the website indicates if a customer wants a refund from a bitcoin payment, they will receive a check in U.S. dollars.
Twitter has announced that it has purchased a new company called CardSpring that it will use to power ecommerce sales in tweets that users and companies share. CardSpring allows companies to build card-linked offers, electronic coupons, loyalty cards, virtual money, and more that works with credit cards.
Twitter has no plans to shutter the service and use the technology for itself at this time.
CardSpring writes, "At Twitter, we will continue to grow the adoption of our platform and work with our publisher, financial, and retail partners to create new, innovative commerce experiences for consumers."
One way that Twitter can use the CardSpring tech is to enable things like discounts offered via a tweet where you would enter your credit card details on Twitter and then pay with the same card at the local store to get the discount. Merchants would get analytics allowing them to see how effective their purchases are.
Rumors have been swirling all week that Microsoft was set to make some significant cuts to its workforce. The rumors suggested that the layoffs could slash more workers from the Microsoft payroll than has been cut in years with many predicting over 5,000 jobs lost. Today Microsoft has made the job cuts official, and the numbers are huge.
Microsoft has announced that it is eliminating 18,000 jobs over the next year. Microsoft plans to strengthen its core video game business and is shedding things that aren't beneficial to that focus. Among the cuts is the entire staff of the Xbox Entertainment Studios that would have been responsible for original TV shows.
Reports indicate that the majority of the 200 people who work for the studio will be let go, exactly how many will remain is unknown. The upside is that the Halo series based on the incredibly popular Microsoft game lives on.
New York has become the first state to create regulations regarding bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, hoping to cut down on money laundering and other illegal activities. If implemented properly, legislators hope to better safeguard investors, especially with Wall Street firms and other businesses embracing bitcoin.
The Bitcoin Foundation is hesitant regarding the news, worried about whether or not separate regulations are necessary. However, other financial companies and bitcoin backers said they will comply with any official regulations.
"It's a comprehensive framework," said Benjamin Lawsky, the top financial regulator in the State of New York. "It's trying to get at the whole virtual currency ecosystem. We've tried to build some flexibility into these rules, so as these technologies change, we can bend to allow those innovations to continue."
Mobile phone providers want to have all the wireless spectrum they can get their hands-on. The catch is that wireless spectrum is very expensive making it hard to come up with the cash to get hands-on all the spectrum many firms want. That fact results in some odd bedfellows.
Such is the case with a planned partnership with Sprint and T-Mobile for the upcoming wireless spectrum auctions. The two are teaming up, despite being rivals in the wireless industry, to raise $10 billion that can be used to purchase wireless spectrum according to sources.
The spectrum that the two are eyeing is currently used by TV broadcasters. The auction will be held sometime in 2015. The funds that will be used in the spectrum purchase are part of the $45 billion SoftBank has put together to finance the Sprint purchase of T-Mobile, if the deal gets approved.
Google has announced that it has a new way to make money off its aerial images that you see on Google maps. The search giant is now offering to sell the images to businesses that want to see their assets on a map. Google is selling the images directly to users looking to use them for public service projects.
Those projects can include things like property evaluation, environmental impact studies, and others. These images were previously available to users via the Maps API, but users could only view the images and were unable to manipulate them.
"We hear from organizations that they want to own and have access to aerial imagery for their business," said a Google spokesperson. Satellite images are still not available for purchase, only the aerial images Google offers.