Microsoft opened up four new physical retail store locations in the last few days, with two of them in New York on Friday, and the other two in New Hampshire and Delaware on Saturday.
The retail stores will show off the Redmond-based company's hardware and software offerings running on their Windows platform. These new stores add to Microsoft's retail store tally, pushing them up to having 45 retail stores open.
There were cheering crowds at the Microsoft store openings at all four locations, where the company gave out free prizes including a Samsung Series 9 notebook, Xbox 360 console and other goodies. Microsoft are looking to open up stores in Puerto Rico and Canada in 2013.
If reports from Japanese site Macotakara are to be beleived, Apple and Foxconn have been trying to source unknown parts from a company who deals in carbon fiber materials:
According to my source, some engineer of Apple and Foxconn Technology came on Japanese company, which has carbon production in mid-March, and they requested to develop some sample.
I don't have information which is ordered by Apple, source told the number of parts is too large to be called "sample".
Apple have been toying with the idea of carbon fiber-based products for a while, with rumors a few years ago we could've seen, or could still see, a carbon fiber-based MacBook Air. With carbon fiber being stronger material, while weighing less, it would make sense for Apple to build a MacBook Air with carbon fiber.
We all know about Kickstarter, but there's another crowdfunding kid on the block - Indiegogo. Indiegogo, along with Matthew "The Oatmeal" Inman, launched an Indiegogo campaign that aimed at buying some land for a Nikola Tesla dedicated museum.
Inman raised $850,000 within a week, which was his funding target, and within less than a day to go, $1.35 million has been raised. Danae Ringelmann, Indiegogo's co-founder, has said that the "Operation Let's Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum" is the largest campaign in Indiegogo's history.
Just how much money is thrown around on these crowdfunding sites? Well, Kickstarter has said that its users have pledged an amazing $350 million since April 28, 2009 - which is around $2 million per week on average. I'm looking forward to seeing the Tesla Museum built, and would eventually like to go and check it out once it has been completed.
The Thailand floods were a tragic event, hitting hard drive manufacturers Seagate and Western Digital pretty hard. At the time, hard drive prices went up quite significantly, and are only returning close to pre-flood levels now. How are things business-wise for HDD manufacturers? Well, in a word - great.
Some new numbers from IHS iSuppli have said that the HDD market for PCs has fully recovered, and is set to hit an all-time high. IHS iSuppli expect internal hard drives to smash through 524 million units shipped this year, beating the previous record by 4.3%.
Where is this increased demand coming from? The firm thinks that the boost in shipment numbers is thanks to the impending release of Windows 8, as well as Ultrabooks. While we're close to pre-flood HDD prices, we're still not there yet but IHS iSuppli have said that HDD prices aren't expected to drop below pre-flood levels until, wait for it, 2014. By 2016, if IHS iSuppli's predictions become reality, we're looking at HDD shipments reaching 575.1 million by 2016.
I'm sure all of our readers know of the patent wars going on between Samsung and Apple. In case you don't, a brief history: Apple sued Samsung saying their patents were being infringed upon by Samsung products. Judge Koh granted a sales ban of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 at the start of the trial. A jury found Samsung guilty to the tune of just over $1 billion. However, they found that the Tab 10.1 didn't infringe on a single patent.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is still banned from being sold in the United States. Judge Koh had previously felt that overturning the ban fell out of her jurisdiction as Samsung had appealed to a higher federal court. That court has now ruled that Judge Koh can rule on the sales ban, either reversing it or keeping it in place.
Theoretically, the device should no longer have been banned, or even banned in the first place as the jury found it to not infringe. The sales ban is expected to be lifted as soon as Judge Koh rules on the matter. Samsung was quick to jump onto the court, filing a request to have the ban dissolved:
T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom (DT) has sold rights to 7,200 of it's US cell towers. The idea here is that the company who is buying the rights to the towers will be able to then lease space on those towers to other companies (think: AT&T, Verizon, and others) to bring in income. For T-Mobile to manage that would be a lot of extra work.
So, it's easier for T-Mobile to sell the rights to these 7,200 towers, which is a small portion of their 51,000 total, to a company that only manages leasing tower space to companies. Part of the $2.4 billion will be used to pay off some of DT's debt and some of it will be used to fund T-Mobile's network upgrades and LTE rollout.
Crown Castle, the company who is buying the rights to these towers, will own and/or manage 30,000 towers in 50 U.S. cities after the deal is complete. Crown Castle will have the option to buy the towers after about 28 years. For now, they can only manage them. T-Mobile will be a tenant at those towers for a minimum of 10 years.
Tim Cook has taken a moment to step down from his high horse and issue a letter to Apple customers saying, "We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better." What??? Apple is apologizing for something they did? I thought everything they did was always perfect.
As Cook suggests, the Maps app will get better as more customers use the app as it will help to crowdsource bugs, locations, and some of the other issues that people have experienced with the new mapping app. In his letter, Cook details an interesting statistic: "In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations."
No doubt half of those searches were people looking for mistakes! If you're interested in reading the full-text of the letter, it is below for your enjoyment:
With everything that Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has gone through, you'd think there'd be an apology thrown at him before now. But, better late than never, right? New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, has apologized to the Megaupload founder over an "unacceptable" stuff up by the NZ government spies leading up to the arrest of Dotcom.
The PM also ordered Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) agents to review their cases going back three years, where they'll have to check whether there were other instances of communications being intercepted unlawfully. Dotcom's apology arrived as a report into the illegal monitoring on the Megaupload founder, which blamed the GCSB agents for not knowing New Zealand immigration laws, and relying on incorrect information from the police. Mr Key told reporters:
I'm pretty appalled by what I've seen. The organisation should be able to get this right. Of course I apologise to Mr Dotcom. I apologise to New Zealand.
Sharp have confirmed that they have closed an agreement which will see $4.6 billion in financing to help bail the Japanese company out of some serious financial problems. Sharp's investor site details the "working capital loan" will have Mizuho Corporate Bank and Bank of Toyota-Mitsubishi UFJ lend Sharp 180 billion yen.
This is all part of a contract that ends on June 30 2013, including an equal sum in credit. Sharp was in dire need of this plan to move forward, who produces parts for Apple's iPhone 5, as well as many other products. Sharp are also still trying to ink an investment deal with Hon Hai that would see the Foxconn parent company take up a 9.9% stake in the company.
Sharp are still waiting for the Hon Hai deal to happen, and in the meantime have mortgaged nearly all of their Japanese factories, generating $1.92 billion in credit. By getting rid of their assets, Sharp hopes to generate around $2.74 billion by March 2013. On top of this, they have already culled 5,000 jobs, and are looking to get rid of another 11,000 staff soon.
Samsung have been busy dodging Apple shaped bullets for a while now, but it looks like LG are now joining in on the fight. LG Display, who are the second largest maker of LCD panels in the world, have filed a lawsuit against Samsung over patent violations.
LG announced the lawsuit during a press conference in Seoul, where they've claimed that Samsung are infringing on no less than seven patents in relation to organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology. LG said that they've filed a damage suit in order to protect technologies that took a very long time/man power to develop, as well as to promote fair competition.
LG's lawsuit orders Samsung Electronics and Samsung Mobile Display to halt the use of the patents in question, and on top, pay damages for products already on the market that use the infringed patents. We don't know how much LG is asking for in terms of damages, but the company have named five products in the suit including the Galaxy S line of smartphones, and the Galaxy Tab 7.7 tablet.
Renewable energy for huge data centers is the in-thing right now, as it should be, with companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google all striving to push for renewable energy. Mountain View-based Google are looking to pump 48MW of wind power into their data center in Oklahoma.
Google want to supply their Mayes County location with 48MW of wind energy from Apex's Canadian Hills Wind Project, but they're not buying power directly at the source - instead, they're striking a deal with the Grand River Dam Authority. The Grand River Dam Authority is a utility, where Google will purchase the wind power on top of what is already supposed from the GRDA at present.
This new deal should see the data center continue on its green path of energy, while giving the site room to grow. Wind power will crank up in Google's data center once the Canadian Hills effort it up and running later on in the year.
Even though EA hasn't been doing so well financially lately, they've managed to scrape some cash together to acquire the online gaming studio ESN. ESN is the developers of the Planet web-based games framework. ESN announced the acquisition on their blog and declined to disclose the purchase price.
The two companies had worked together previously, most notably on Battlefield's Battlelog.
The ESN team is extremely happy to announce that we now are a part of the Electronic Arts family. During the past few years we have been working closely together with EA and DICE to build Battlelog for Battlefield 3. We couldn't be more excited about this opportunity and the team is looking forward to focus all of its energy on DICE, Battlelog and the Battlefield series.
Now that they have had an influx of cash, due to the acquisition, they are also looking to hire more talented developers and designers:
As we're teaming up with EA and DICE, we are looking for more talented developers and designers to join our studio and help create some of the best online game services out there. Find out more on the Careers section.
It's likely that EA will use ESN's online experience and IP to continue to position itself in a location that is more in-line with where the market is moving. As more and more gamers are switching to social gaming, EA has been left out in the cold. This acquisition is likely just a small move in its bigger overall plan to adjust t
Apple made the decision to jump ship to its own Maps creation over a year before the contract between the two companies was set to expire, according to The Verge, who cites two independent sources familiar with the matter. The decision came sometime before Apple's WWDC event last June and sent Google off to the races to develop an iOS Google Maps App.
The sources say that the app is incomplete and not set to be released for several more months, but there is one coming. Apple appears to have decided to go with their own Maps app mainly because they felt that the older Google Maps in iOS were falling behind Android, namely the fact they lacked turn-by-turn directions.
Google's CEO has been quoted as saying, "what were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call." He added that Google has "not done anything yet" in regards to an iOS Maps app. Besides, any app would still have to be approved by Apple. Google Maps VP Brian McClendon has stated that he's committed to offering Google Maps on all platforms, a sign that an iOS app should be forthcoming.
If for whatever reason a Google Maps app doesn't end up on iOS, I'm going to be rather disappointed. Apple's mapping system is not very good, and is much worse than what Google had provided.
Google play is seeing quite the acceleration in app downloads, thanks in part to all of the Android activations they are now seeing every day. Google would like to celebrate this occasion and has decided to offer collections of apps from popular developers at a discounted rate of on $0.25. I wonder if the price will be $0.50 at 50 billion downloads.
Users will see apps from developers such as Gameloft, Electronic Arts, Rovio, Runtastic, Full Fat and others, as well as collections of movies, books, music albums, and magazines. The discounts will start later today, so it's highly encouraged to take a look at Google Play today so that you can take advantage of cheap apps.
Android is still behind Apple and iOS in this one metric. The App Store managed to hit 25 billion downloads in March of this year, so Google Play isn't too far behind. Thanks to Android's significant market share, it shouldn't be too long before the Google Play Store catches, and surpasses, the Apple App Store in downloads.
Facebook has been hit with around 50 lawsuits that all relate back to their flopped IPO. In addition to these 50 lawsuits, securities lawyers who are representing Facebook investors are expecting hundreds of arbitration claims against brokers and securities firms who sold shares of Facebook for the IPO.
"IPOs are the most attractive kind of suit for the plaintiff's bar," said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University. Coffee estimates that at least one-third are thrown out, but many of the rest conclude in settlements that amount to around 2 to 3 percent of the alleged losses. It appears Facebook could be shelling out quite a bit of money.
The main issue in most of these cases centers on the allegation that investors weren't warned enough in disclosures that Facebook's growth and revenue was taking a hit from users switching to mobile devices. Both Facebook, its underwriters, and the Nasdaq are facing quite a bit of legal exposure in these lawsuits. We'll be sure to keep you updated on how they are progressing.
Groupon has decided to launch their mobile payment system, Groupon Payments, across the United States after a successful pilot program for Groupon in the San Francisco Bay Area earlier this year. Groupon Payments is baked into the latest version of the Groupon Merchants application for the iPhone and iPod touch, and will let merchants run credit card payments as well as the ability to scan and redeem Groupons.
Groupon have specific rates for swiped transactions using the required audio jack accessory, or the case-based reader. MasterCard, Visa and Discover all get slapped with 1.8% plus a $0.15 fee per transaction. American Express, as usual, is more expensive at 3% plus the same $0.15 per transaction fee.
The company have stated that there are no hidden costs, or monthly fees, and that merchants will have their credit card payments deposited into their bank accounts overnight, versus the competitions way of making them wait it out for a few days. In order to lock in the low transaction rates, merchants will need to run deals with Groupon, which is a bit of a hassle.
Dallas-based air carrier, American Airlines, are offering their entire crew of 17,000 flight attendants free Samsung Galaxy Notes. American Airlines' roll out will begin later in the year, and will continue into the middle of 2013.
By the middle of next year, the air carrier will put Notes in the hands of each of their 17,000 cabin crew members, where they'll use the phablets to manage fligiht manifests, track premium passenger meal preferences and monitor weather and gate information, all in real-time, on WiFi-equipped flights. The Notes will also sport the flight attendant manual, as well as features such as processing for in-flight meal and drink purchases.
#firstworldproblems would be in the fact that the crew are only getting Notes, and note the Note IIs, but you can't really complain when its free, can you? Another thing is that this news is great, for the crew that will still be employed by American Airlines come mid-2013, as the air carrier announced that 11,000 American mechanics and ground workers would be out of jobs by November.
Apple sure knows how to turn a profit. A preliminary virtual teardown by IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service tries to take a stab at what the individual parts cost and how that all adds up. This preliminary teardown found that the estimated cost for materials that go into the iPhone 5 16GB is $199.
Apple sells that same iPhone 5 16GB, which costs $207 after adding manufacturing costs, for $649. Of course, this bill of materials doesn't include any software costs or research and development costs. Moving up the ladder, the 32GB iPhone runs $217 and the 64GB costs Apple $238. The only difference between these models is the NAND memory.
"With the base model carrying a $199.00 BOM, the iPhone 5's components are expected to be slightly more expensive compared to the iPhone 4S model," said Andrew Rassweiler, senior principal analyst, teardown services, for IHS. "The low-end iPhone 4S with the same memory density as the base-model iPhone 5 carried a BOM of $188.00, according to a preliminary estimate issued by IHS in October 2011. While the price of some components, such as NAND flash, has fallen during the past year, the iPhone 5's overall BOM has increased mainly because its display and wireless subsystems are more expensive compared to the iPhone 4S."
I'm sure everyone remembers where they were on that fateful day when Apple was awarded $1 billion for Samsung infringing on their patents. Well, in a case like that, the plaintiff can request that the judge triple the damages awarded and, according to an unnamed source cited by The Korea Times, it looks like Apple is planning to do just that.
As if the $1 billion wasn't enough, Apple could very well be planning on going for $3 billion. The Korea Times believes that this is "when the world sees the American technology giant turn into a patent monster." And it's very likely. As of late, Apple has been increasingly litigious and it shows no signs of stopping.
However, there are signs that the judgement could be overturned during an appeal by Samsung. For starters, the jury foreman has been doing too much speaking to the media proudly proclaiming, "We wanted to make sure the message we sent was not just a slap on the wrist ...We wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable."
The jury instructions specifically said this was not the point of the damages, but he has also said that they were able to come to the decision without reading the 700 pages of jury instructions. Apple will be hard-pressed to get awarded triple damages and it looks like Samsung has a good chance on appeal.
Samsung is trying to take away some of the press from the new Apple iPhone 5 by releasing a new advertisement on YouTube. The new 90 second clip compares the two devices and draws attention to the features that the Galaxy S III has that the iPhone 5 doesn't. They also call attention to Apple being behind the times. Take a look for yourself:
The ad probably isn't exactly fair to both sides--it was produced by Samsung after all--but it does have some good, valid points to make. More importantly, it's trying to bring fresh attention to the device ahead of the ever important holiday shopping period. The device will be five or six months old by the time that rolls around.
Of course, this ad probably won't do very much to the demand of the iPhone 5. People were lined up as the device was announced in San Francisco last week and they'll likely do the same thing next year. It's worth taking a look at the comments on YouTube, they're always good for a hearty laugh.
AMD can't hold an executive if they tried. They've been leaving one after another and even sometimes two or more at a time. Yesterday, AMD announced that CFO Thomas Seifert was resigning and now, it's coming out from the Wall Street Journal that AMD's Client Division chief, Chris Cloran, is leaving the company.
Chris Cloran was in charge of all of the client products, such as the CPUs that are used in consumer desktops, and reportedly was responsible for "about 80percent of AMD's revenue." AMD has said Lisa Su will take over as Interim Client Division chief. She hasn't been with the company very long, only joining last December.
In other news, Thomas Seifert's resignation has come with a bit of new information. It has been reported that he is looking for a CEO position elsewhere after he spent time as AMD's Interim CEO in the wake of Dirk Meyer getting canned in January, 2011. He served until August, 2011 when Rory Read took over.