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Jack Tretton, the current President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) is stepping down from his position on April 1, 2014. Replacing him will be the current Sony Network Entertainment International (SNEI) VP and COO, Shawn Layden.
Tretton has been with the company for quite a long time - 19 years - and has said that it has been the most rewarding experience of his career. Tretton added that he'll miss the talented team he has been working with all this time, and the passion of Sony's fans. It's not all sad news, as he is excited about what comes next in his career.
Since SCEA's opening in 1995, Tretton has been with the company, serving as a founding member of the executive team. He was involved with every launch of the PlayStation platform in the US, a big task on its own. Sony said in a statement that it didn't renew its contract with Tretton as a mutual decision between the two. No exact reason was given for his departure from the position.
It should place at least a small cloud of doubt over Sony, as it is seeing great early success with its PlayStation 4.
This morning office supply retail giant, Staples, announced that it plans to close 225 of its retail locations by the end of 2015. Staples says that amidst poor fourth quarter results deriving from what it calls "soft" consumer demand for electronics, the company has no choice but to close up many of its stores to starve off mounting losses. Staples operates 1500 stores in the US, which equates to it closing nearly 1/4 of its in-store retail business.
"With nearly half our sales generated online today, we're meeting the changing needs of business customers and taking aggressive action to reduce costs and improve efficiency," Staples CEO Ron Sargent said. The closings are expected to save the company nearly $500 million by the end of 2015. Staples will focus more of its resources into generating online sales, but with the PC market dwindling and more consumers turning to Amazon, Newegg and Tigerdirect for their electronics these days, this could just be the beginning of more hard times for Staples.
Back in January, we mentioned that IBM had sold its low-end x86 server business to Lenovo. As part of the deal, Lenovo would get a facility in China where the servers were made and the staff working at that facility. It seems that the workers at the IBM International System Technology Company factory in Shenzhen aren't happy about the deal.
About 1000 workers at that factory have been on strike and the factory has stopped manufacturing for at least four days. One of the striking workers says that the strike will continue. The worker noted that so far the company had ignored the demands of the workers.
As you can guess, the strike has to do with money. The workers want better pay to move to Lenovo or they want better severance packages if they choose to leave the company. An IBM spokesperson says that the deals offered to these workers are on par with what they have now.
BlackBerry's CEO, John Chen, has been very honest about the problems his company faces coming back into a now very tightly controlled smartphone market. Chen talked about it previously, where he compared it to a sick patient in desperate need of emergency surgery.
During a recent interview with The Financial Times, Chen said that BlackBerry's odds of making a comeback sit at around 50%, with everything coming down to how well he, and his team execute it all. The CEO said that losing key corporate and government clients hurt the company, but he has always had a goal of keeping new customers by providing superior services and products that focus on "our heritage and roots - delivering enterprise-grade, end-to-end mobile solutions".
Chen's plan to turn things around involves multiple parts: selling low-end smartphones, where it will leverage its partnership with Foxconn, monetizing its BBM messaging platform, and becoming a much bigger player in the cross-platform corporate mobile device management market. Company finances are expected to be stabilized by 2015, with Chen hoping that the company is profitable after that.
Things are not looking up for Bitcoins much these days and the cryptocurrency was dealt yet another blow today when Flexcoin announced that it has ceased operations and closed its doors for ever. Flexcoin was the first Bitcoin "bank" that operated much in the same manner as traditional banks do. Flexcoin announced today that on Sunday, March 2nd hackers breached the company's security and managed to steal 896 Bitcoins, valued at more than $620,000 USD.
Not all accounts at Flexcoin were compromised though, and it appears that only the hot wallet was breached, leaving thousands of bitcoins in cold storage untouched and safe due to them not being connected to the network. Customer's who chose to store their coins in cold storage payed an additional 0.5-percent for the added security and it looks like it paid off.
Bitcoin's disappearing or being stolen is quickly becoming the norm these days. Another firm named Polonix has also announced that 12.5-percent of its stored bitcoins were stolen by hackers, but said that it would be replacing the coins with those from its own reserve. With major failures of big names in Bitcoin, can the cryptocurrency remain a viable and trustworthy digital currency solution? If it were me with millions tied up in bitcoins, I would sell the majority of them as fast as possible and run far away from Bitcoins as possible.
A new report has been published by TechCrunch that suggest that Facebook is in acquisition talks with solar-powered drone manufacturer, Titan Aerospace. Facebook is considering the acquisition as an affordable way to bring internet to countries with little useful infrastructure and would be part of its Internet.org initiative.
Titan Aerospace makes small aerial drones that are capable of up to five years of non-stop flight thanks to their extreme efficiency and solar power source. The report says that Facebook would used these drones to blanket the world with free Wi-Fi and would start with 11,000 of the Solara 60 models flying high over Africa to bring internet access to those with no hope of having access anytime soon. The deal is reportedly worth about $60 million, which is pocket change when you consider that Facebook just recently purchased WhatsApp for $16 billion.
One interesting aspect that I could see the drones being used in is inside countries where the government has restricted access to the internet, or where the countries infrastructure has been compromised due to rioting, fighting or war. With the smaller Solara 60 drones being cheaper, there is no reason that a company with deep pockets such as Facebook could not deploy 100,000 of them within just a few years, and give the entire world cheap or free internet access.
U.S. electronics store RadioShack announced it plans to close up to 1,100 of its stores in the United States, as the company continues to struggle in a fight for survival.
RadioShack has a large retail footprint in the United States, with 90 percent of US shoppers located within a few minutes of at least one store.
"Our focus on the brand, our operations, and the in-store experience has been unfolding in parallel with a strategic review of our store footprint," said Joseph Magnacca, RadioShack CEO, in a press statement. "Over the past few months, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our portfolio from many angles - location, area demographics, lease life and financial performance - in order to consolidate our store base into fewer locations while maintaining a strong presence in each market."
Information about which stores - and how many jobs will be lost - still hasn't been disclosed by RadioShack.
If you have been around long enough to remember a world when most people didn't have mobile phones and we relied on a home phone and an answering machine to stay in contact, you will appreciate a new patent Apple has been granted. One of the things that people liked about answering machines is that you can listen to the messages being left as a way to screen calls. That is one thing you can't do on a smartphone.
Apple has been granted patent by the USPTO that is a patent acquired via the Rockstar Consortium when it purchased Nortel patents a while back. The patent shows a way that the smartphone user can listen in to a caller leaving them a voice mail in real-time.
The system covered in the patent shows a way that a conference call is set up on-the-fly between the caller, voice mail server, and the phone owner. The user's phone mic is muted to keep the listening in on the down low.
One of the hottest categories in the tech world today is wearable devices. There are a number of wearables on the market ranging from smartwatches to glasses like Google Glass. With wearables set to grow significantly, a new rumor is circulating that Intel has made a big purchase to get more wearable tech in its portfolio.
Intel is rumored to have purchased a company called Basis. Basis makes wearable watches that record fitness activities for the user. Basis was rumored to have been shopping itself around with Apple and Google among the interested firms.
The purchase has reportedly been made by Intel with one source saying the deal was worth $100 million. A different source claims that Intel paid closer to $150 million for Basis. Basis currently has about 7% of the wearable fitness device market.
Today Kickstarter announced that it has surpassed over $1 billion in crowd-funding pledges since the site first launched on the 28th April of 2009. Speaking of that date, users pledged a mere $1084 to just 7 featured projects in the first 24 hours the site was live. Fast forward to March 13th, 2013, just 4 years later, and more than 54,187 backers committed to more than $4,029,585 to 1,985 projects in a single day.
To celebrate this milestone in Kickstarter's history, the company released a nifty micro-site that unveils some interesting facts about the crowd-funding websites biggest and best days as well as its most popular backers. Wednesday has been the most popular day of the week to back a project with more than $160 million pledged. Sunday seems to be the least popular day to back projects with just over $100 million pledged. $619 million of the $1 billion was pledged by returning backers, and 1,689,979 people have backed more than one project. Interestingly enough 15,932 people have backed more than 50 projects on Kickstarter.