If you live in a country that doesn't have a Microsoft Store, you may be able to head to a local electronics store soon to check out the Surface RT tablet. Rumor has it that Microsoft is planning to roll out its Surface tablets to third-party retailers soon than it originally had planned to.
If the rumor is to be believed, the Microsoft-made tablet will first see its way into third-party retailers in countries that don't have Microsoft Stores. This part of the roll out is reported to be happening within days. The second part of the roll out will be in January 2013, where upon third-party retailers, such as Best Buy and Staples, will be able to sell the Surface tablets.
This pushed up or expanded roll out schedule could be due to Microsoft not selling as many Surface tablets as they had originally planned to do. Rumors that Microsoft's sales have been soft are running rampant around the web. Microsoft may be hoping to increase sales with wider availability.
Apple's patents are key to their legal successes against Samsung and other companies. But what happens when one of those patents is ruled invalid? Well, not only does Apple lose the right to sue over that patent, any patents based upon that patent could also be ruled invalid.
The patent that Steve Jobs is best known for, 7,479,949, has been preliminarily ruled invalid. The patent covers a touchscreen device and input derived from apply heuristics. The patent, if you speak legal and engineering, probably does a better job explaining than I can:
A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command, a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command, and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.
This is a story that could completely wreck Yelp's business, if the company isn't careful. A women in Virginia is facing a lawsuit from a contractor over allegations that her negative Yelp review caused him to lose work. Sound a bit ridiculous? We thought so too, until we found out a bit more.
In the review, Jane Perez listed out a bunch of accusations, which included damage the contractor reportedly did to her home, an invoice for work that was reportedly not done, and missing jewelry. She finished out the post by saying, "Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor."
The contractor, Christopher Dietz, has now filed a $750,000 Internet defamation lawsuit against her, claiming that the Yelp post, along with some Angi's List postings, were false and caused him to lose business. He's also seeking a preliminary injunction to keep her from writing even more reviews.
Some argue that Perez should be protected by free speech, and often the juries side with this argument. However, it still costs a lot of money to defend yourself from a lawsuit. In the end, you have to ask yourself if the review is fair because sites like Yelp don't provide any legal protection for you.
I've said that Apple should bring their production to the US, and it looks like they read my posts here at TweakTown - probably not, but this is great to see. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the news during an interview with Rock Center, that they will be indeed bringing some Mac production to the United States:
At the moment it's not known which Mac products will be manufactured in the US, but there have been rumbles of it being the iMac as some of the current iMacs have "Assembled in USA" inscribed in the back of them.
During the interview with Brian Williams, Cook said "we've been working for years on doing more and more in the United States". Cook noted during the interview that Apple are spending around $100 million in the US production adventure:
It's not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported-the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We've been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We're really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it's broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we'll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn't mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we'll be working with people, and we'll be investing our money.
Social networks can be dangerous for powerful people, with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings possibly facing the Securities and Exchange Commission over a statement he posted to social networking site, Facebook.
Rewinding back to July, Hastings' Facebook page announced that Netflix passed a billion hours of streaming for the month of June - the first time that Netflix has ever done that, ever. This simple post from Hastings could have violated regulations in regards to fair disclosure, the SEC has reportedly told Netflix.
Bloomberg has reported that Hastings' post could've been seen by his 200,000 followers. The SEC has said that the post could constitute selective disclosure of material information, which could justify a civil claim. Netflix said in a statement that the fact that they had previously stated they were closing in on a billion hours of streaming in June. On top of this, they've said that the billion-hour total is not "material" to investors. Netflix remains "optimistic that this can be cleared up quickly through the SEC's review process".
I'm an Australian, but keep up as much as I can with the fringe areas of US politics and the debt that the world has. We know that the US is in over their heads in debt, but just how much? Sure, $1 billion sounds like a lot - but I think most people have lost sight of just how much these billions, and trillions mean.
This could turn into a long winded whinge session about not only the state of the US political system, but the entire world's financial system. Instead, we'll show you a visualization from Demonocracyinfo of the current US debt. Currently, the money owed by the US government is larger than the size of the economy itself. The current debt ceiling is set at $16.394 trillion and the US are getting close to that mark with just a few weeks until they hit the "fiscal cliff" I'm sure you've heard about.
What did you think of the video? At first, I thought - oh that's not too bad, millions don't look like that much - then the billions begin. Once that's over and the shock sets in, you see the entire federal debt, and it's a scary number.
"Losing your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is," said Attorney General Harris. "California law is clear that mobile apps collecting personal information need privacy policies, and that the users of those apps deserve to know what is being done with their personal information."
Christopher Weatherhead has been found guilty along with Jake Birchall, Ashley Rhodes, and Peter Gibson, who pleaded guilty earlier on. The charges? Conspiring to impair the operation of computers. The four took part in the Anonymous operation that targeted PayPal and Mastercard.
"Weatherhead is a cyber-criminal who waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks on the computer systems of several major companies," said Russell Tyner, a lawyer from the prosecutors' organized crime division.
The attacks reportedly cost the companies targeted more than $5.6 million in software, sales losses, and extra staffing. Recently, the British police have been investigating hacking collectives Anonymous and LulzSec. We're sure to see more people brought before a judge over similar charges.
The punishment has not yet been dolled out by the judge.
T-Mobile customers will be excited to hear that they will soon have the option of picking up an Apple device to use with the network. Today, T-Mobile and Apple announced that they had entered into an agreement to begin selling products next year. Details regarding the agreement have been somewhat slim.
Apple and T-Mobile have both declined to provide further details regarding the agreement, so it will be a bit before we know what devices will be available on the network. PCMag's Sascha Segan is reporting that T-Mobile's CEO, John Legere, "is implying that the carrier will launch an as-yet-unannounced iPhone model."
The launch of Apple devices on the network will likely coincide with the launch of T-Mobile's LTE network, which is set to go live sometime next year.
John McAfee seems as though he might be in a bit of trouble because of his decision to publicize his escape into Guatemala. The country is not happy with his illegal entry into the country and has detained him with the intent of expelling him back into Belize, where he is wanted as a person of interest in the murder of his neighbor.
"He entered the country illegally and we are going to seek his expulsion for this crime," Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said. Immediate deportation has been ruled out by the country and the police in Belize say that he isn't a prime suspect. His lawyer is seeking an injunction to get him released.
McAfee was seeking political asylum in Guatemala. He believes he is being persecuted by the ruling party since he refused to pay out $2 million to it. "The misunderstanding of the severity of their request for money was my big mistake," McAfee said. "Had I known that, I would maybe have said $2 million is way too much. Let's negotiate something, just don't rape me for the next seven months. Writing a check would have been a lot easier."
T-Mobile announced today that they are planning on offering only Value Plans in 2013. A Value Plan offers a cheaper per-month rate, but a customer loses the subsidy that would otherwise discount cellular devices. For instance, my iPhone was $299 with a 2-year contract. On a T-Mobile plan, that would have set me back $749.
In exchange for this, I pay less each month. It's a great option for people who have a device they love and want to keep or for those who don't mind paying full sticker price. With other companies now offering unlocked smartphones (read: Google with its $300 Nexus 4), this could end up being the way of the future.
Would you prefer to pay full price for your phone if you were required to pay less each month to use it?
It's not looking like Pandora will be coming to Europe anytime soon. Unlike in the United States where Pandora was able to take advantage of a statutory licensing provision, in order for Pandora to come to Europe, they would have to negotiate with every record label, something that is both costly and inefficient.
We've seen the results of these direct negotiations in the form of Netflix, YouTube and others all attempting to get Disney and other premium content. Pandora has already said they are losing money in the United States, so they won't do any costly expansion until they can get that under control.
However, with the bill to reform Net radio fees not seeing much support, this could be a while longer. European users will have to continue using Spotify--not a bad alternative--in the meantime. Spotify can also breathe a sigh of relief as they won't have competition, at least not for a while.
The FTC is widely expected to announce updates to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the coming weeks. For those who don't know, COPPA is a law that requires online companies to gain a parent's permission before obtaining and storing personal information of his or her child.
The law was originally passed in 1998 and implemented in 2000 and the internet has advanced and changed by leaps and bounds since then. Princeton Research Associates International conducted a survey over two weeks in November. It consisted of 2,000 adults being asked questions, and the results highlight the fact that most people support laws like COPPA.
In fact, 90 percent agreed with the COPPA law, when asked. 91 percent believed that advertisers should be prevented from identifying a minor's location via their cellular device. 80 percent of adults were against websites collecting activity reports of children online, even when said reports are anonymous.
"It is clear from these findings that the public supports strong action by the FTC to address the disturbing and widespread practices that threaten the privacy and safety of our nation's children," said Kathryn C. Montgomery, Ph.D, professor of communication at American University.
Spotify is out today talking subscriber and user numbers. Analysts love dealing in these details, trying to predict if a company will survive, etc., but the average consumer doesn't quite care so much. The media, well, we love to blow things out of proportion so that we get more hits.
Spotify has come out and said that they have 5 million subscribers around the world, with 1 million of those subscribers coming from the United States. They also claim to have 20 million worldwide users. Now the part that consumers will be interested in: Metallica joined Spotify at the event to announce that their music is now available on the music streaming service.
"We were ready to jump in as soon as they were ready," Metallica's Lars Ulrich said.
The CEO of Spotify has said that they have paid $500 million to artists, with $250 million of that coming within the last nine months.
Kim Dotcom has been making headlines nearly every week since that January raid on his mansion in New Zealand. It turns out that the Government Communications Security Bureau had illegally spied upon Dotcom and Bram Van der Kolk. The GCSB is not permitted to spy upon New Zealand residents. Oops.
Now, thanks to a High Court ruling, the GCSB is going to be required to share details of their secret and illegal spying upon Dotcom and his co-defendant. The 16-page ruling has a lot of details in it, but the main idea is that the GCSB will become a co-defendant in Dotcom's lawsuit against New Zealand's Attorney General.
The GCSB will also be required to share any info sharing agreements that it had with local police and US authorities. This means that we should find out if the GCSB was passing along information to the US Government or its agencies. "Lets see about US involvement in illegal GCSB spying on New Zealand residents," wrote Dotcom on Twitter. "The truth will come out, in court."
If gambling addicts needed a reason to not visit slot/pokie machines around the world, this would be it. ZYnga have said today that they've filed for an "Application for Preliminary Finding of Suitability" in Nevada. This process is conducted by the state's gaming control board and could take up to 18 months.
If Zynga achieves this, it would be another two to three months before they could apply for a license. Zynga's Chief Revenue Officer, Barry Cottle, said in a statement:
Zynga has filed its Application for a Preliminary Finding of Suitability from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. This filing continues our strategic effort to enter regulated RMG (real-money gaming) markets in a prudent way. As we've said previously, the broader U.S. market is an opportunity that's further out on the horizon based on legislative developments, but we are preparing for a regulated market.
Zynga inked a deal with UK-based bwin.party earlier this year, and will unveil their own real-month gaming experiences in the first half of 2013.
AT&T have been called "America's worst carrier", but sticks and stones may break their bones, and names will never hurt them - in quarterly smartphone sales. The US wireless carrier's top tog, Ralph de la Vega, has been bragging about his company's smartphone sales in Q4 2012.
AT&T's Q4 2012 smartphone sales are already at 6.4 million, and we still have over three weeks of this month left. De la Vega also said that AT&T will sell 26 million smartphones over the entire year, up 1 million from the company's original expectations. De la Vega told investors at a conference this week:
What we're seeing is tremendous response in the marketplace. Excitement is at all time high. I feel very good about momentum going into December.
There were some that expected AT&T to hurt from the LTE iPhone, but the wireless carrier have expanded their portfolio of smartphones on offer to include the phenomenally popular, and main competitor to the iPhone - Samsung's Galaxy S III - as well as LG's Optimus G and Nokia's Lumia 920.
Most of you would know by now that we've reported on Apple Inc. (AAPL) stock as much as we can - seeing the highs and lows, and now the Cupertino-based iPhone maker has reached a 10-month low in stock prices of just $538.79.
We've seen releases in all categories from the company, with the new iPhone 5, iPad mini, fourth-generation iPad, new iMac's, new iPod's, new MacBook Pro's and more - but their stock is just taking a relentless beating. The 10-month low is a huge sign of dark times for the company - but there are reports of a huge surge in sales for the next quarter - so we'll just have to wait and see.
If releasing all of these new products, with analyst and industry expectations of the iPhone 5 sales being absolutely huge - what could help their stock prices? It seems like nothing short of a miracle, or are we seeing the bubble slowly deflate back to a realistic level of $250-$350 per share? Do you own Apple shares? What are your thoughts?
There is currently a summit going on Dubai, The World Conference on International Telecommunications, to be specific, that is discussing how the internet should move forward. The details of the talks are whether or not governments should take more control over the internet, or if the UN should possibly take it over.
The United States Congress has done at least one thing correctly by passing a resolution opposing both of the options being considered. The House, today, passed the Senate resolution that calls on the US government to oppose UN control. "The 193 member countries of the United Nations are gathered to consider whether to apply to the Internet a regulatory regime that the International Telecommunications Union created in the 1980s for old-fashioned telephone service," Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said on the House floor.
"I think that we are all very, very proud that there is not only bipartisan, but bicameral support underlying this resolution, and there is complete support across the Executive Branch of our government," Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said. "In other words, the United States of America is totally unified on this issue of an open structure, a multi-stakeholder approach that has guided the Internet over the last two decades."
"We need to send a strong message to the world that the Internet has thrived under a decentralized, bottom-up, multi-stakeholder governance model," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
It seems as though Apple's stock just isn't catching a break, and that's caused one trader to get into some hot water. David Miller, a previous trader for Rochdale Securities, Stamford, was just arrested today over claims that he committed wire fraud back in October.
The FBI say that Miller purchased 1.625 million shares of Apple stock, worth roughly $1 billion, on October 25, the day Apple was due to report its quarterly earnings. Now, that's all perfectly legal, except for the fact that he used the brokerage's money. He expected stock prices to increase and was planning to pocket the profit.
As we all know, Apple stock hasn't been doing the best lately, and October 25 was no different. Stock prices decreased and his employer lost roughly $5 million over the trade. He explained it away as an honest mistake, saying he meant to purchase 1,625 shares, not the 1,625,000 shares that were purchased.
The European Commission isn't happy with LG Electronics, Panasonic, Phillips, Samsung, Technicolor, and Toshiba. They allege that representatives of the companies met regularly in places like Amsterdam, Paris, and Rome for "green meetings." These meetings normally involved a round of golf.
The EC say that the representatives met up to engage in price fixing on televisions and computer monitors that made use of cathode-ray tubes. The EC claims that the companies basically ran cartels from 1996 to 2006. Phillips saw the largest fine, having to pay 313.4 million euros, with LG having to come up with 295.6 million euros.
Panasonic is only on the hook for 157.5 million euros, and Samsung will be paying 150.8 million euros. Toshiba and Technicolor managed to get through without much damage, having to only shell out 28 million and 38.6 million euros, respectively. Of course, Phillips has said they will challenge the ruling and others will likely follow the lead.