LG Display Co., the world's second-largest flat-panel maker has had six naughty employees charged over the theft of technology from Samsung Mobile Display Co. The six employees of LG leaked, or stole Samsung Mobile's OLED technology and business secrets.
This is all according to an indictment filed with Suwon District Court in South Korea. Two of the six accused include two former Samsung Mobile employees. Samsung Mobile have requested that LG Display formally apologize, as well as take the necessary steps to prevent reoccurrence. LG Display also merged with Samsung Display Co. this month.
In an e-mail sent out yesterday, Samsung Display Co. said that LG Display systematically took Samsung's OLED technology, and core staff to overcome its own shortcomings. LG said in a separate e-mail that the information obtained is widely known in the industry and isn't considered a trade secret. LG Display are also taking legal action against Samsung Display, a unit of Samsung Electronics Co. for defamation.
It looks like Samsung just armed themselves nicely in the global patent war against Apple, by acquiring British chipmaker CSR's mobile business in a deal worth $310 million. CSR specialize in producing Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi and other chips.
The company announced yesterday that they had entered into an agreement to sell off the business. The deal is all-cash, and will see the mobile connectivity division become part of Samsung's component division. This is the group that, funnily enough, supplies electronics to customers such as... Apple.
Samsung will also buy a 4.9-percent share of CSR in a deal worth an additional $35 million, a move which will see Samsung gain access to CSR's intellectual property and ownership of 21 crucial U.S. patents. The deal will also see roughly 300 staff move over to Samsung. CSR chief Joep van Beurden said in a statement:
I believe that under Samsung's ownership the handset operations will be in a better position to prosper in the global handset market. I would like to thank all our colleagues who will be transferring to Samsung for their outstanding service to CSR over many years.
The company behind that very popular digital video recorder, TiVo, announced that they have agreed to acquire media marketing an analytics software company, TRA. The deal will see TiVo pay approximately $20 million for TRA.
TRA offers a platform that matches 2 million households of TV-tuning data with consumer purchase data, which enables its clients to find the program audience that actually buys the advertised products. In a nut shell, they improve TV advertising effectiveness, which is why TiVo is very interested in them, and plonking down $20 million for them.
Once the acquisition is complete, TiVo have said they will create a new unit called 'TiVo Research and Analytics' (TRA). Works out well, don't you think? This new unit should be opened later this month, when the deal is closed.
Nielsen, an analyst firm, have their latest numbers for the U.S. smartphone market in Q2 2012, with numbers showing that for Q2, smartphone adoption continues to increase with 2 in 3 new customers grabbing a smartphone.
But, the Windows Phone 7 numbers are the most interesting bit of this new data, where the mobile OS holds just 1.3-percent of the market. Nokia itself has only 1.2-percent of smartphone owners, and that's considering the amount of marketing that Nokia have pushed with their Lumia series of devices.
We have RIM's BlackBerry handsets having a nice 9-percent of the US smartphone market, with Motorola, HTC and Samsung enjoying 11-, 14- and 17-percent, respectively. Apple takes the crown by enjoying a nice 34-percent of the US smartphone market pie. If we look at operating systems, Android takes the crown, with a hefty 51.8-percent of the market, and 54.6-percent of new customers taking an Android-based handset.
Marissa Mayer was a top executive and employee number 20 at Google, so she was pretty close to that top of that Googleicious (is that a word, if not, it is now) tree. Mayer was the Vice President of Local, Maps and Location Services and has just jumped ships.
She's jumped over to Yahoo, and will serve as the CEO of Yahoo. Quite the jump. Mayer joined Google back in June of 1999, and was Google's first female engineer, where she remained employed until her resignation earlier today.
Mayer's move to Yahoo spells good things for the company, as she sports a degree in computer science, and all that time at Google. But, compared to the competition, Yahoo has been struggling lately. Can Mayer swing it around?
Spool, a mobile social bookmarking company have been acquired by social networking giant, Facebook. The Spool team informed their users via the company's blog, announcing that they were joining forces with Facebook.
Facebook won't be bringing any of the Spool name to their services just yet, with the Spool service shutting down, and the company also send out e-mails to Spool users this afternoon informing them how to move their bookmarks to another service.
It was only earlier this year that Spool raised $1 million in funding from SV Angel, Felicis Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Vivi Nevo and other funders. The company was founded in 2010 by a former Google product manager.
Apple's sharp exit, but swift return to EPEAT has been a whirlwind of random behavior for the usually straight-shooter company. But, it seems that the pullout, and return to EPEAT could've been from a dispute over the status that had been given to the Retina MacBook Pro.
The two 15-inch models may have been threatened with a lower-than-top ranking, which would've been a first for Apple. The Retina-powered models now appear on the EPEAT website, this time with Gold rankings. Considering that critics have complained that the Retina models are less "repairable" than other notebooks, and that the fusion of the display to the casing itself, as well as the gluing of the battery make both components more difficult to recycle than models that don't sport those features.
The scoring is now identical for non-Retina and Retina models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Within this scoring, Apple loses points for "materials selection" as well as "energy conservation", without EPEAT explaining what these could mean, or how Apple could improve them. But, there is some light at the end of this Apple and EPEAT tunnel, in the way that the Retina MBP gets full points for "product longevity/life cycle extension", an acknowledgement that Apple's use of custom batteries, and the rMBP's new fused display is likely to decrease the chances of a defect, which could offset the new machines' lack of easy interior repair.
After the strange exit from EPEAT, it looks as though iPad maker, Apple, are back on-board. The decision was announced just before the weekend by Bob Mansfield, Apple's Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering. Mansfield had an open letter, which said:
We've recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.
What made Apple have a sudden change of heart? Could it have been the sudden loss of government purchases, or the back lash it would've received not just a few weeks from now, but months, or years from now? Why the decision to pull out of EPEAT in the first place? Tim Cook, would you kindly fly me out to the Apple offices for a one-on-one interview? My shout for lunch.
If RIM weren't already having enough troubles from sticking their fingers in the constant holes popping up in their ship, today is yet another day for the company. Bloomberg are reporting that RIM are looking to hand over $147.2 million to a New Jersey-based mobile device management firm, Mformation.
Back in 2008, Mformation filed a suit against RIM claiming that the company had infringed on two of their patents. Mformation alleges that RIM included patented functionality into their own product after preliminary talks didn't work. The jury sided with Mformation, and now Research in Motion are looking to shell out $8 for each of the 18.4 million devices in question, a bill of around $147.2 million.
But, RIM aren't looking to just hand over the cash, with their legal team already moving to have the verdict reversed. Is there anything else that can go wrong for RIM right now?
Apple is staring down the barrel of a record-breaking sales for their iPad, with sales of 20 million in the June quarter, according to one analyst. Charlie Wolf with Needham & Company issued a note to investors on Thursday, where he has increased his June iPad shipment forecast.
His previous forecast was 13.5 million units, and he's increased this to a significant 20 million. Wolf does admit that his initial estimate in April was "hastily formulated", which is why his latest prediction is so much bigger. Wolf says:
In our view, it's only a matter of time before iPad shipments exceed iPhone shipments. The iPad is invading the business market at a much faster pace than the iPhone. In addition, the iPad will launch in China on July 20th. This should provide a significant boost in sales now that Apple is providing Chinese languages and services on its iOS platform.
If Wolf is correct, or even close, with his 20 million iPads sold prediction, it would be quite the achievement for Apple. Considering the same quarter last year they sold just 9.25 million, it would be a new record for iPad sales of any quarter, even beating the 15 million iPads Apple sold in the holiday shopping season of 2011.
Research firm Gartner released their preliminary personal computer shipment data for Q2 2012, which shows the increases, or decreases from various companies. Apple only had a very small year-over-year growth of 4.3-percent in the U.S., but they were the only company that saw year-over-year growth.
They outperformed the overall industry and its 5.7-percent decline. Apple's share rose from 10.8-percent this time last year, to 12-percent for this year. This quarters improvement was a return to form, after two straight quarters of decline. It let Apple hold onto its third position after HP and Dell in the United States. It was Apple's second best performance over the years, following a 12.9-percent share in Q3 2011.
Q3 is usually a great quarter for Apple, as its includes those great back-to-school purchases in Apple's strongest markets, and is usually their best-performing quarter. Apple didn't reach the top five vendors in the world, so it's good to see them at least enjoying some growth in the United States.
Back in 1996, Microsoft invested a hefty $220 million for a 50-percent stake in MSNBC, which launched in the same year. Microsoft sold most of their control in 2005, which left NBC with an 82-percent stake in the network, with an option of claiming the remaining 18-percent after two years.
NBC Universal has announced plans to buy back Microsoft's remaining control of the MSNBC.com site, which will put an end to the partnership between the companies. NBC Universal will rebrand the web site, dropping Microsoft's "MS", which will create NBCNews.com, unnamed sources told the Beast.
NBC Universal is expected to announce the deal "within days", but an NBC representative told the news site that no deal has been struck yet. The report does note that the site's employees have been told. We should hear more of the deal early next week.
NPD Group's June figures are out, with Microsoft and Nintendo both faring well, and having something to brag about to the competition. Nintendo should be happy that their 3DS has reached five million total sales in the U.S..
Nintendo sold 155,000 3DS units in the month of June alone, but Microsoft have their own achievement (unlocked?) to talk of. Microsoft shipped 257,000 Xbox 360 units in June, and they've also had the lead against all U.S. consoles for the last 18 months.
Nintendo sold 90,000 Wii units in June, and that Wii U will be here shortly and should give Nintendo a very big injection of sale numbers. Sadly, there aren't any Sony numbers to talk about, which is unfortunate.
MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom seems to be positioning himself on the chess board that is his legal troubles right now, in a move that is right out of the left field. Dotcom has agreed to voluntarily travel to the United States where he'll face piracy charges, but has only agreed to do so if the Justice Department unfreezes his assets to help him cover living expenses and pay for legal representation.
Dotcom gave the proposal over Twitter, of all places. Dotcom's statement was delivered just a day after a New Zealand court postponed his extradition hearing due to the raid on his mansion being ruled illegal. The evidence collected was therefore obtained illegally, and the case has been postponed until 2013.
Kim Dotcom appears to be totally calm with his proposal to the DoJ, one would imagine he has a trick or two up his sleeve? What are your thoughts on this?
Back a few decades ago, you signed expensive (or inexpensive) contracts with pens. If you've watched Mad Men, I've always thought expensive contracts involved lots of paper work, a few signatures and celebratory glasses of your given poison.
But, there are now people signing near-$100 million contracts with their fingers, on an iPad. NBA team Brooklyn Nets' latest player, Deron Williams signed his new five-year, $98 million contract on an iPad using the SignNow app. Yes, $98 million, using his finger, on an iPad.
Williams' took to Twitter to capture the moment:
Microsoft talked of retail stores earlier this year, and those plans are now coming to fruition. The Redmond-based company behind Windows and Office plans to open up a Microsoft Store in Toronto, Canada later this year, as well as another store in Puerto Rico, according to Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner, where he spoke at the Worldwide Partner Conference.
Microsoft currently have 20 stores open across the United States, with 9 more coming this year. Microsoft is opening an Orlando-based store on August 18, and its Boston Prudential Center on August 23. The Canadian and Puerto Rican stores will be the first time Microsoft have stepped outside of the U.S. with a Microsoft-branded store.
The company also has plans to extend across the pond to the U.K. with a store in London in 2013. Microsoft hopes to have a tally of 44 retail stores open by June 2013. Comparing them to Apple, they are small fries for now, with Apple having 364 stores in 13 countries, with a whopping 246 of those in the U.S..
Twitter already sports 140 million users on their social networking service, but we all know that's not enough to combat against Facebook's near-billion users. Twitter announced today, a partnership with chip maker MediaTek.
The new partnership will see Twitter embedded on millions of "smart feature phone" devices across the world. MediaTek will preload the Twitter feature phone application in their MRE middleware, providing a reference design for mobile handsets. From there, vendors can then add Twitter services on their devices with little or no memory impact or requirement for powerful hardware, encouraging Twitter usage no matter what handset it may be.
MediaTek's MT6255 ARM9 chipset will be the first to sport Twitter applications, the chip features a clock speed of 416MHz, and has both SAW and RTC embedded into the chipset in order to avoid external components. The chip features long battery life, supports WVGA display resolutions and can play back most modern video formats. The chip also supports the installation of Opera Mini, allowing users to save data when visiting mobile websites.
Just a few days ago, Apple pulled 39 of their products (old, and new) from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) and it looks like this move is already starting to haunt them. San Francisco will shortly cease purchasing Macs for the city's 50 agencies, and this could just be the tip of the iceberg for Apple.
This is all according to Department of Environment officials who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, with the officials saying that within the next two weeks it will send out letters to agencies explaining that Macs "no longer qualify" for city money. This is all because Apple pulled 39 of their products from EPEAT, and while workers will still be able to buy Macs, they'll have to go through a process described as "long" and "onerous".
While this isn't the death bell ringing for Apple, it could be a sign of things to come. Only 1- to 2-percent of the city's computers are Macs, which amounts to around 500-700 systems. For Apple though, the loss of orders, and the press it receives, as well as the multitudes of other government agencies who pick up on the news could exclude Macs from purchasing departments. Legally, 95-percent of all U.S. federal government purchases must be EPEAT-certified.
Microsoft is looking to fight Apple like they've never fought before, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admits that Microsoft and select partners ceded some of the boundary between hardware and software to Apple in the years gone by, but with Surface, that's a thing of the past.
During an interview with CRN, Ballmer highlights that Microsoft has advantages in productivity, enterprise management and manageability, but Microsoft aren't prepared to let things like the consumer cloud and hardware/software innovation go uncontested to Apple, Ballmer says "not going to happen, not on our watch".
One interesting thing Ballmer let slip during the interview, is that he didn't deny that Microsoft have thought of making their own smartphone hardware. When asked about the subject, Ballmer said right now, they are working extremely hard on Surface. Surface is Microsoft's sole focus and core right now. Ballmer added:
Look, we'll see what happens. We have good partners with Nokia, HDC in the phone space. I love what we've got going on with the Surface. We are going to focus on Surface and our other Windows 8 tablet partners and see if we can go make something happen.
After some intense legal battles, Samsung has gotten a court to side with them for once. Samsung have said that the High Court of England and Wales ruled that its Galaxy Tab didn't infringe on Apple's tablet designs, and found 50 different recognizable traits.
Considering Samsung have just gone through their Galaxy Nexus being banned in the U.S. temporarily, this is a great day for Samsung. Both of the companies are fighting each other in different courts across the world, for different things, and it seems that they're both waiting for a judge to rule so harshly, that the other is forced to sit down and work out an agreement.
The ruling today was in regards to three Samsung Galaxy tablets, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 7.7. The court cited the differences they found were in the thickness of the devices, front and rear surface designs, and the lack of physical buttons.
Just a quick one for Apple, according to an analyst at Moody's Investor Services, Apple are at the very top of the list of technology companies who are hoarding money overseas. It has been reported that the company behind the iPad, iPhone and many other money-makers, has $74 billion overseas.
Twelve months ago, Apple had $64 billion sitting overseas, but in the past year this number has expanded by $10 billion to $74 billion total. Tech companies with $2 billion or more in cash and liquid investments are said to hold around $227.5 billion overseas.
The second company to Apple with money overseas? Microsoft with $50 billion. Cisco comes in third with $42.3 billion, and Oracle in fourth place with $25.1 billion.