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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 5

YouTube buys Directr mobile video app, absorbs employees

YouTube has announced that it has purchased a new video startup called Directr. Directr is a company that makes a mobile video app that allows small businesses to create marketing videos to help push their wares to customers. It's unclear how much the deal cost YouTube.

 

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Directr has an app for the iOS platform that is aimed at making it easy to shoot, edit, and upload short videos to the internet. Google is currently planning to add all the employees of Directr to its staff on the video-ads team.

 

Currently the Directr app has a cost associated with it, but Google plans to offer free versions of the app once the company joins YouTube. Google made another purchase this week buying a startup called Emu offering a mobile messaging service.

Chinese government removes Apple devices from its procurement list

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple devices have been removed from the Chinese governments purchasing list, for security reasons. The devices that are banned total an amount of ten items, including the iPad, iPad Mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

 

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Back in June, these devices were on the list, among devices from competitors like Dell and HP. The list is set to be reviewed next by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which is China's premier planning body, and the Ministry of Finance, in January of 2015. The Chinese government has been on a spree of limiting the use of US-owned technology after the Snowden leaks, as well as the constant escalating claims of hacking and cyber spying.

 

It was only last week that the Chinese government removed Symantec and Kaspersky from their procurement list, too. A few weeks ago, China's state-run broadcaster China Central Television said that the location tracking abilities in Apple's iOS are a national security concern. Apple refuted this claim, saying that all location data is secured solely within the iPhone, and not on Apple services, reiterating that the company doesn't work with government agencies to spy on its users.

Sony is being sued for falsely advertising Killzone running at 1080p

Douglas Ladore has submitted a complaint with the California Northern District federal court, where he is claiming that Sony promised 1080p single and multiplayer graphics in its advertisements and interviews for Killzone: Shadow Fall before the game was released in November 2013.

 

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On Killzone: Shadow Fall's packaging, it clearly shows a "1080p HD video output" logo on the back. Killzone's multiplayer renders the game at 960x1080, which is half of the 1920x1080 that "1080p" or "Full HD" is. In order to output the full 1920x1080 resolution, this source image has something called "temporal upscale" applied to it, something that fills the gaps with a horizontal interlace containing pixels from the previous frame. The result is graphical performance that the lawsuit, and reviewers across the world claim call "blurry to the point of distraction".

 

Guerrilla Games, the developer behind Killzone, along with Sony, took to a blog post to address the concerns of this "temporal projection" method. The companies said that it provides "subjectively similar results" to rendering at the full 1080p resolution. Ladore's lawsuit wasn't happy with this, where he argues: "While this reconstruction technique might be novel, it is decidedly not the 'native 1080p' Sony promised". But was anyone hurt from the result of this resolution downgrade in Killzone? Not directly.

Continue reading 'Sony is being sued for falsely advertising Killzone running at 1080p' (full post)

Activision is seeing industry-wide drops in pre-order numbers

During its investor relations conference call yesterday, Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg was asked about game pre-orders, and how they are going with the slew of games Activision has coming out this year. This includes some of the biggest titles coming, including Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Destiny.

 

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Hirshberg said that pre-order numbers were down, but not just with his company, but across the entire industry. Hirshberg attributed this drop to increased digital consumption, especially on the Xbox One and PS4. Another reason is that games are made available widely when they are released, so there's not much of an incentive to pre-order. These two factors, along with the fact that a decline overall for the last generation of consoles means that pre-orders are down.

 

Activision is now looking at other ways it can determine how popular its upcoming games will be, as it used to judge this by pre-order numbers. new methods could include "purchase intent" and "awareness" of a title, with Hirshberg saying: "It's important to note that pre-orders are just one data point that we look at when determining the momentum of a franchise". When it comes to Destiny, Hirshberg says Destiny's awareness is "at an all-time high and climbing when compared to any other new game intellectual property this distance from launch. Purchase intent is also at an all-time high and rising compared to any other intellectual property. The hugely successful open beta, which saw 4.6m players, probably had something to do with that. So all of those add to our sense of momentum for the launch".

Continue reading 'Activision is seeing industry-wide drops in pre-order numbers' (full post)

Surface tablets continue to be a money loser for Microsoft

Things are continuing to look bleak for Microsoft and its surface tablet business. Microsoft lost money again on surface tablets in its recently wrapped fiscal 2014 year with losses totaling $1.7 billion. Microsoft announced that its Surface revenue was $409 million for the quarter ending June 30.

 

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However, Microsoft failed to announce a crucial piece of information, the cost of the revenue for Surface needed to figure out profit. However, data was given that allows analysts to estimate the costs for Surface. Computerworld figures that Microsoft's Surface costs for the quarter that ended in June were $772 million.

 

That means a loss of $363 million in the quarter for Surface. Some of the money in the cost of revenue calculation was from a write-off to cover the cost of designing and producing an unspecified number of Surface Mini tablets. Microsoft reportedly produced a Surface mini and decided at the last minute to not release the tablet. The number shows that Microsoft lost a total of $676 million for fiscal 2014.

Sprint stops T-Mobile bid, CEO Dan Hesse may be replaced

Sprint has been wooing T-Mobile for a while with Sprint actively looking to purchase the smaller carrier. Regulator opposition was strong since regulators in the US have been clear on several occasions that they like four major US carriers. Tuesday, Sprint announced that it has decided to stop trying to purchase T-Mobile and will move on alone.

 

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Rather than beefing up subscriber numbers by purchasing T-Mobile Sprint will now buckle down and try to add subscribers with better service. Sprint has reported losses every year since 2007. AT&T's bid to purchase T-Mobile was blocked by the FCC and regulators three years ago.

 

People familiar with the goings on at Sprint also say that CEO Dan Hesse will be replaced and that he could be replaced as soon as this week. A purchase offer by a French carrier Iliad was turned down by T-Mobile with execs saying that offer was dead on arrival.

Epic Games UK announced, after the company acquired Pitbull Studio

Epic Games has just acquired UK-based studio Pitbull Studio, which will be known as Epic Games UK from now on. Pitbull Studio was founded in 2009, where it worked with Epic Games as a close partner on Unreal Engine.

 

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Pitbull HQ is found in Sunderland, UK, with the studio still maintaining smaller branches in both Leamington Spa, and Guildford. In Epic's press release, the company has said that James Golding, Epic Games' Lead Programmer, has moved from Epic Games' HQ in Cary, North Carolina, to Guildford. Golding will lead an expansion of that office.

 

Robert Troughton, Pitbull Studio's General Manager, has said: "Becoming Epic Games U.K. was the next logical step in our relationship with Epic. We're looking forward to expanding our amazing team here in the U.K.". Mike Gamble, Epic Games' European Territory Manager added: "Setting up a bespoke Epic presence here and fully utilizing the Pitbull team as part of that enables us to support Unreal Engine 4 developers across Europe on an entirely new level".

Gannett tipped to buy remainder of Cars.com for $1.8 billion

Cars.com is a website where millions of people in the US go when they are looking for a new or used vehicle. A part of Cars.com is owned by the Gannett Company and it looks like Gannett now wants the entire pie. A person familiar with the deal says that Gannett is ready to plunk down $1.8 billion to buy all of Cars.com.

 

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The person claims that the deal could be announced as early as today. If the deal goes through for $1.8 billion, it would value Cars.com at $2.5 billion. Cars.com has been around for 16 years and is one of the biggest online markets for buyers and sellers of cars.

 

The website claims to have 11 million visitors monthly. No official comments have been offered from Cars.com or Gannett at this time.

US DOT may stop plans to allow in-flight cell phone use

Anyone who has flown on a commercial airline knows how annoying it can be when someone near you refuses to put up a gadget when asked to by the crew. I can only imagine how annoying it would be if airlines allowed people to use their mobile phones all they want while on a flight. As airlines are considering allowing phone calls during flights, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering weighing in on the subject.

 

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The DOT is considering the implementation of rules that would enforce a ban on in-flight cell phone calls according to the WSJ. The DOT is seeking comments on whether or not it should adopt a rule that restricts mobile calls on flights to and from the US.

 

The DOT is clear that there are no bans on in-flight calls in the works yet. Many of the major airlines operating in the US have already said they aren't inclined to allow phone calls in-flight. Things like texting or email would probably be allowed even if phone calls are banned.

Comcast offers poor families six months of free internet access

Comcast has revamped its low cost internet program that is in place for poor families to ensure that they have access to the web for education and other uses. The original program that Comcast offered was criticized for being too hard to sign up for. After the criticism, Comcast has revamped the program and is offering up to six months of internet access for free to new subscribers.

 

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The program gives poor families access to Internet Essentials for $10 per month if there are school age children in the house. Comcast is also offering existing customers with unpaid bills an amnesty program where they can be reconnected in some instances.

 

The catch with the amnesty program is that the overdue bills and unreturned equipment has to be over a year old to be eligible. For bills that are less than a year old, Comcast wants the debt settled before the customers can sign up.

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