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One of the big selling points for the Google Chromebook Pixel notebook was the fact that the machine had free data from Verizon Wireless. The free data pool was small from the get go with only 100MB of free data each month for two years.
I'm sure that Verizon had hoped some of the Chromebook users would see the need for more data and buy upgrades. Verizon made many owners of that Pixel notebook very angry when it cut the free data off early. Verizon began to turn off the free data only a year into the two-year agreement. Some users began threatening Google with a lawsuit over the cut off.
Google has now stepped in and is looking to sooth some of the ruffled feathers of users with a gift card with $150 of free money to spend. The money can be used to pay for additional data to cover the second year of ownership or other items. Verizon sells 3GB of data that can be used over 90 days for $20 meaning that $150 will more than pay for an extra year.
The fortunes of Foxconn, the maker of most of the Apple gadgets on the market, are directly tied to the fortunes of the companies it manufactures goods for. That means as sales slow for the companies it builds products for, its sales slow as well. Foxconn chairman Terry Gou is urging shareholders to be patient and allow the company time to invest in new businesses as sales slow.
The new businesses that Gou and Foxconn are hoping to invest in include car electronics and cloud computing among others. Gou said during an annual meeting, "Please be patient, don't be in a hurry. I'm also the biggest shareholder, so if it's bad for Hon Hai it's also bad for me."
Foxconn also plans to increase its investments in robotics and add additional skilled jobs as the company seeks to meet its 10% growth projections. Gou has met with other companies seeking expansion and those companies include Tesla and SoftBank Corp among others.
Carbon Design Group, the company that helped make the Xbox 360 controller (and its transforming d-pad) and the Kinect for Microsoft, has been acquired by Oculus VR. Better yet, Oculus VR has said that it has been working with Carbon "for nearly a year on multiple unannounced projects".
Oculus VR said on its website: "We're thrilled to announce that we've agreed to acquire the Carbon Design team, one of the premier industrial design and product engineering teams in the country, with over 50 awards to their name. As part of the deal, the team will officially become a key component of the product engineering group at Oculus, operating from the Carbon studio in the Seattle area. They'll also be working closely with the Oculus R&D team based out of Redmond".
Carbon Design Group has been in business for over 20 years, and in that time has been a product design and development consultancy firm that has developed consumer, industrial and medical products for companies all across the world. Carbon hasn't just been working on video game consumer electronics, it has helped design computer mice, air purifiers, medical imaging equipment and much more.
AT&T and DirecTV executives appeared to discuss the blockbuster acquisition, but lawmakers seem frustrated that AT&T couldn't say if the deal will lead to reduced prices for customers. House and Senate antitrust panels are currently discussing the AT&T-DirecTV merger - and whether or not it should be allowed.
Although AT&T and DirecTV are involved in programs to help promote the communities they serve, not everyone is happy about what could happen. Public Knowledge senior staff lawyer John Bergmayer said the deal "fails the antitrust test" and "fails the public interest test," with consumers losing out.
"No sir, I can't," said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, when asked if the acquisition will lead AT&T to commit to lower prices for customers. "one would have to believe in the market and the market pressures, and that market pressures will compete margins away and cost savings will find their way into prices."
A campaign group is seeking to turn the island of Jersey, just off the coast of Normandy, into the most welcoming location for Bitcoin in the world.
Although it's already possible to use the cryptocurrency in a smattering of places around the web and in the physical realm, it's not quite widespread yet. Now bit.coin.je, a new industry body, is hoping to turn Jersey into a "Bitcoin Isle". Jersey is famous as a hotspot for offshore banking, and in a blog post, the group said it is now working with the Channel Islands Information Security Forum to explore how the cryptocurrency can augment this.
In a statement, the CIISF's chairman Matt Palmer said: "Cryptocurrencies are much misunderstood but have the potential to revolutionize the financial system," before adding that currencies such as Bitcoin "could well underpin the future of offshore finance centers."
Google is currently testing a new domain registration service called Google Domains. Google is very early in the testing process for the new service and Google Domains is reportedly an invite only beta service for now. People familiar with the product say that Google has no plans to provide web hosting.
Once Google Domains launches to all users it will support the buying and selling of domain names. Each domain sold by Google will support up to 100 email addresses and up to 100 customized sub-domains.
Sprint has been rolling out HD Voice in markets around the US for months now and has recently announced that HD Voice is now nationwide. Sprint's HD Voice service is currently supported on 28 smartphones on the postpaid side of the network and on 33 devices on the pre-paid side. About 16 million Sprint customers have access to HD Voice enabled devices at this time.
HD Voice uses tech to minimize background noise allowing calls to be clearer. Along with nationwide HD Voice service, Sprint has also announced that it has activated new LTE networks in 28 markets Sprint now covers 471 cities with LTE.
Right now 225 million people are covered by Sprint LTE service with the carrier expecting to cover 250 million people in the US with LTE by the middle of 2014. Sprint Spark service is turned on in three new markets including St. Louis, Winston-Salem and Greensboro, N.C.
A tweet from a developer evangelist at Mozilla named Christian Heilmann sparked some debate recently. In the photo, Heilmann is holding a TV dongle that looks like a small flash drive similar to the Chromecast device from Google.
Along with the image, Heilmann wrote "A fully open TV casting prototype device running #FirefoxOS. Open boot loader and all." Since Heilmann works for Mozilla, many assumed that Mozilla was working on their own TV dongle. Mozilla has now stepped up and said it has nothing to do with this project, but admits that a partner might.
Chicago plans to put an array of sensors onto some of the light poles around the city in an effort to understand more about pollution, traffic, and the number of people on the streets. The sensor suites will go up on some light poles along Michigan Avenue this summer and are hidden behind what appear to be sculptures made of metal.
Behind those curved sheets of metal hide sensors for measuring light intensity, air quality, sound, heat, precipitation, and wind. Sensors can also count people using cell phone traffic. Officials overseeing the project are fast to point out that the sensors are only able to count cellular signals, not listen in on texts or conversations.
A new rumor was making the rounds late last week that has to do with Google Nest Labs and the purchase of Dropcam. Dropcam is a company that sold Wi-Fi enabled streaming cameras that could be used for surveillance. Both Google and Dropcam acknowledged that the purchase had been made on Friday.
Rumors circulating around the web suggest that Google paid $555 million to purchase Dropcam. If the $555 million rumor is true, it means that combined with the purchase of Skybox for $500 million, Google has spent over a billion dollars in recent weeks on acquisitions.