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And for weeks now it is that apparent that social mapping software company Waze would be acquired by one of the Silicon Valley giants. Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft were all tossing their hats into the ring to acquire Waze, but only one can emerge victorious.
This morning Google has announced that it has acquired the Israeli company for a reported $1.3 billion. Google says that the Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for the time being and added "We'll also work closely with the vibrant Waze community, who are the DNA of this app, to ensure they have what's needed to grow and prosper."
For those unfamiliar with Waze, it is a social traffic and navigation app that is based on a large community of tens of millions of drivers around the world who share real-time road and traffic info with other Waze users. The app has just under 50 million users which is up over 10 million since February.
Google do countless things, but did you know that one of them is predicting just how much money a new blockbuster movie will make at the box office up to four weeks from its release? A new study from the Mountain View-based giant called "Quantifying Movie Magic with Google Search" has found that by using data from Google's search engine, they can predict a film's opening weekend box office results with up to 94% accuracy.
Google puts them down to search volume for a movie's trailer a month before release, and as the release of the movie gets closer, the predictions become slightly less accurate. Just a week before a movie is released, Google uses search volume for a film's title rather than the trailer, combining this with theater availability to make predictions that are still around 92% accurace.
The company notes that if a movie receives 250,000 more searches than another movie that opens in the same week, it will make an average of $4.3 million more during its opening weekend.
If the current reports are true, it looks like Google could be gunning to acquire crowdsourced navigation app Waze for $1.3 billion. The deal isn't final yet, but according to reports, Google agreed to keep Waze workers at their Israel-based development center, and will allow the company to continue their development in Israel "for at least three years".
The deal will reportedly see Waze CEO Noam Bardin continue his top dog position, while Waze will also keep their brand and won't be integrated into Google. There was a bidding war between social network giants Facebook and Google, with Google reportedly getting the +1.
Sony has reportedly signed on with Apple for Apple's rumored iRadio service. Many believe that iRadio will launch at this year's WWDC, so it's important for Apple to have deals with all three major music labels in hand ahead of the announcement.
It's still possible that Apple has other issues barring it from a full launch, but they could still announce the upcoming product on Monday. It's quite likely that it would be announced during the keynote that takes place on Monday. We'll have coverage if iRadio does end up launching.
iRadio is believed to function much like Pandora, with the added abilities of instantly buying and downloading a song from iTunes should you discover you like it. Expect it to feature targeted ads to support a free version, with a possible premium version doing away with those ads.
Sky satellite TV customers could soon be able to pick up a subsidized Xbox One with new contract. Reports have surfaced that Sky and Microsoft are currently in talks to provide subsidized Xbox Ones with a Sky subscription package in the UK. These would likely come with a standard two-year contract.
The reports say that we could get confirmation of this as early as June 10 at Microsoft's pre-E3 press conference. It's worth noting that the Xbox One isn't a cable or satellite box. Users would still need to connect in their old equipment into the Xbox One, or at least in the US this would be required.
A subsidy could help boost sales of the next-gen console. Even though the price is still unknown, Amazon has it listed for sale for over $900. Using a subsidy to bring the price down to something a bit more reasonable would aid adoption.
We'll be in attendance of the Microsoft Press Conference on Monday and will bring you the full details as they happen.
Apple will reportedly start an iPhone trade-in program in stores this month. Apple hopes that the trade-in program would result in an increase in sales of new models. According to people with knowledge of the plans, Apple has teamed up with Brightstar Corp. to run the trade-in program.
Brightstar is the company who handles trade-ins for AT&T and T-Mobile. Apple will offer money for older model iPhones, boosting sales of new models in the United States and producing a supply of older devices that can then be sold in emerging markets for a profit.
The full details of the program aren't public yet, but the program will reportedly launch this month. Prices paid for working iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S devices are unknown, but could be as high as $200.
Reports of Apple planning to sell ads for an upcoming iRadio music streaming service have surfaced. Some expect Apple to unveil what many are dubbing iRadio as soon as next week at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference. These ads would likely be extremely targeted, making them valuable to advertisers and Apple.
Highly targeted advertising would fetch higher prices for Apple and would be in demand by marketers. if this is the case, it could be all doom and gloom for the already-struggling Pandora. According to a former Apple executive, the ads will be sold via Apple's existing iAd mobile ad network.
As Apple has access to more than just a user's listening tastes, ads could be even more targeted than those provided by Pandora. Pandora is only able to target ads based upon music listening preferences, gender, and zip code.
Of course, all of this is just speculation up until Apple actually unveils the service. If it makes an appearance at next week's WWDC, you'll be able to read about it here on TweakTown.
Relating to a story published earlier, Intel's push for perceptual computing has led the company to create a $100M investment fund through its Intel Capital subsidiary. The $100M will be used to fund perceptual computing projects, such as the 3D-depth camera we reported about earlier today.
Intel Capital typically invests in up-and-coming technologies, basically ensuring that Intel's PC chips will continue to be in demand. This announcement was made during Intel's keynote speech at Computex Taipei 2013:
Devices with human-like senses--the ability to see, hear and feel much like people do--has long been a subject of science fiction but is now within reach given recent innovations in compute power and camera technology. This new fund will invest in start-ups and companies enabling these experiences, helping them with the business development support, global business network and technology expertise needed to scale for worldwide use.
Intel has previously used Intel Capital to create a $300 million fund to push Ultrabook development. Intel Capital has been investing since 1991 and has spread $10.8 billion across 1,284 companies in 54 countries.
Most people are unaware of Amazon's grocery business that it runs in its home base of Seattle. More people are about to become aware, if a report by Reuters is accurate. According to their sources who are familiar with the situation, Amazon is preparing to expand its grocery business to Los Angeles as soon as this week and San Fransisco later this year.
Amazon's current grocery business utilizes their own fleet of trucks to deliver fresh produce--eggs, strawberries, and meat--to residents of Seattle. The current business, AmazonFresh, has been operating for a least five years. These sources say that the business could expand to 20 aditional urban areas in 2014, provided the two new markets said to be launching this year go well.
Grocery experts feel Amazon faces a major challenge with AmazonFresh. However, if successful, it could pave the way for Amazon to start delivering their own products via the same trucks used to deliver the groceries.
Apple believes Campus 2 will add 7K new employees, $32M in property tax, 9K construction jobs, $66M in public improvements
Apple has released a study detailing the economic benefits they expect to see from the new Campus 2 project in Cupertino. This report details new jobs, revenues, and other benefits the city can expect from the project that was originally started under Steve Jobs' leadership.
Apple expects to add 7,400 new employees in the new campus, bringing more spending money for the shops that rely on Apple employees. Apple is already the largest employer in Cupertino with around 16,000 employees. With the new campus, that number would swell to 23,400. Apple also expects to create 9,000 construction jobs for people working on the building of the new campus.
Apple estimates that they will pay roughly $32 million more--on top of the $25 million paid in 2012--in property tax. Apple will also pay $15.4 million annually to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. A one-time additional payment of $38.1 million will be provided for construction fees and taxes.
The report also states Apple will provide $66 million in local public improvements, including $2.5 million for affordable housing. $35 million of that will be used on a "transportation demand management program."