The MPAA has won a 3-year long lawsuit against Hotfile, a file sharing service that payed users to upload and share various files including pirated movies. Today the two parties agreed on an $80 million settlement, and Hotfile was ordered to cease all operations unless it implement's digital fingerprinting of files.
"This judgment by the court is another important step toward protecting an Internet that works for everyone. Sites like Hotfile that illegally profit off of the creativity and hard work of others do a serious disservice to audiences, who deserve high-quality, legitimate viewing experiences online," said MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd.
This is yet another big win for the MPAA against online piracy, and even though only a fraction of the $500 million the MPAA was seeking was ordered, Hotfile may not survive this outcome. At the current time, Hotfile has removed all premium offerings from its service, and it is unclear if any future payments will be made to it users.
Spotify has just launched a new set of tools that artists, managers and others can use to track the popularity of their music on the music streaming service. Spotify continues to focus on communicating to the music industry that its service is great for artists, and that all of the bad words you hear about music streaming isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
Spotify provides an analytics dashboard, which allows artists a real-time look at just how much their content is being listened to. Also included in this, are details on listeners, such as age, gender, location of their listeners and more. Spotify one-ups this though, providing details on just how the royalties are paid out from Spotify.
It also shows other avenues where Spotify exposes artists to the public, with the music streaming company saying that it pays "more than two times more" than ad-supported services like YouTube, and "significantly" more than traditional and online radio services. Spotify holds just 30% of the profits, giving the remaining 70% to its artists.
If unlocking your iPhone via your fingerprint was not easy enough, Apple has been granted a patent on yet another unlocking method. The new method would all you to unlock your phone by simply looking at it. This time Apple wants not only your fingerprint to be saved on the device, but for your face to be digitized and saved as well.
Apple says that in addition to simply unlocking the device, this facial recognition could be used to launch or open up specific apps on the device. Android has had this functionality for a while now, and so has Apple. About two years ago, Apple was awarded a similar patent that used different control methods for facial recognition. With the companies recent purchase of PrimeSense, they could take this patent very far.
In what is certainly one of the last pages in the OCZ saga, the company announced this afternoon that it has signed an asset purchase agreement with Toshiba Corporation to acquire substantially all of OCZ's assets in a chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding for $35 million.
The acquisition will land Toshiba access to OCZ's proprietary controller, firmware, and softeare and well as the engineering teams responsible for these technologies. OCZ will continue to operate and server existing and future customers during a transition phase, and Toshiba will provide the company with the capital to operate during this period. The sale is expected to finalize within the next 60-days.
You would think that if you walked into the Google HQ, that you'd see Chromebooks sprawled everywhere, but that is not the case. Google's OS of choice, is Apple's Mac OS X platform, with the company imposing Mac use to all its employees.
The company supports most operating systems, including Windows, Linux and its own Chrome OS. Google System Engineer, Clay Caviness, says: "There was a time when Macs were a small part of the Google fleet, but as of now if you start at Google and want to use a platform other than Mac you have to make a business case."
I can see where Google is coming from, Macs are great, and overall, more 'stable' than Windows. I think this is in part to Macs being more secure, and its user base is nowhere near the size of Windows' user base. But, everyone has their preferences. Google's Chairman, Eric Schmidt, had some interesting things to say about the 'superiority' of Macs versus PCs, where he compared Android devices with Macs.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Foxconn has hired more workers, and thanks to its high volume production capabilities, iPhone 5S availability is improving and is now able to meet consumers' demand.
Apple has a 3-5 business day shipping time on the iPhone 5S, which is much better than the 2-3 week wait from last month. Foxconn hires around 300,000 workers at its Zhengzhou site, which is dedicated to manufacturing the iPhone 5S, and some of its most key components. The Journal's source, who was an "executive who declined to be named", said: "we have been churning out about 500,000 iPhone 5Ss everyday, the highest daily output ever."
Bitcoins are massive business right now, with the value of the digital currency passing $1000 for the first time ever. This is a gigantic milestone for the digital currency, and represents a 4000% year-over-year increase in value.
People who have sold their Bitcoins early would be feeling quite ill right now, with an early Bitcoin owner purchasing 10,000 Bitcoins for just $50. He ended up giving his Bitcoins away, but if he had held onto those 10,000 Bitcoins, it would be worth a very swift $10 million today. The Winklevoss twins purchased $11 million worth if Bitcoins back in April, which cost them $120 a piece - an investment that has turned into $90 million or so right now.
I was so close to getting into Bitcoin when it first launched, but backed off - even a small investment back then would be worth magnitudes more now, which makes me a sad man.
We all know how harsh the US government is on piracy and illegal activities, and while we have Vice President Joe Biden saying things like "piracy is theft, clean and simple", the same government he works for was doing just that: stealing.
The US government has been in a multi-million dispute with Apptricity, a software company that makes enterprise software that manages the US Army's troops and supply movements. The deal struck between Apptricity and the US government was signed in 2004, and allowed the US government to use Apptricity's software on five servers and 150 standalone devices.
The company explains: "The Army has used Apptricity's integrated transportation logistics and asset management software across the Middle East and other theaters of operation. The Army has also used the software to coordinate emergency management initiatives, including efforts following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti."
Today PayPal announced that it has began supporting prepaid gift cards through PalPal Checkout for online purchases. This is big business for PayPal and many online retailers who do not normally accept prepaid gift cards because they do not have an address attached to them.
PayPal will be collecting a 2.9-percent fee per purchase as well as a $0.30 per transaction fee each time you swipe the gift card. This new offering from PayPal is yet another push to generate even more revenue streams and should prove to be quite profitable over the holiday season. Would you rather receive a gift or a gift card over the holidays? Let us know in the comments.
Back on October 14th TweakTown first heard a rumor that OCZ was entertaining an offer from Toshiba acquire the company. This was a big deal as OCZ's CEO had recently announced that his company had been having issues acquiring NAND flash modules to build its SSDs. The company had also just posted some very bad losses for Q3 2013, and everything looked ripe for Toshiba to pick up the company for a song.
Soon after, the rumors died down and we mostly thought that they had been just that, Rumors. Fast forward a few weeks and on November 4th, I broke a developing story about Toshiba's stock falling by more than 22-percent in just hours after the market opened. I reached out to OCZ to which a reply never came. By the end of the day, the stock had fallen by more than 30-percent to just $0.65 per share, a 52-week low. Upon opening the next day, OCZ saw its stock fall another 30-percent to $0.44 per share.
By November 9th, OCZ's stock was back up to $0.85 per share which was widely attributed to the release of the new SSD that was seeing great reviews across the web including TweakTown. Ten days later on November 19th, TweakTown received word that OCZ had laid off 15-percent of its workforce in an effort to ease its massive $2 million per month cash burn. It appeared as if the SSD manufacturer was attempting to dig itself out of the deep hole it had fallen into. At this point the company's stock had leveled off at around $0.70 per share.
With OCZ's officially announcing that Toshiba has bought the entirety of its assets but not the company as a whole, trading has opened back up and in just the past few minutes we have seen the stock drop by 75-percent. OCZ opened at $0.35 per share and at the time of this writing is trading at just above $0.168 per share.
The death of OCZ is finally here and with no assets left to compete in the industry, the company will most likely be de-listed by the end of the day. The markets have about an hour left before trading closes and in the time it has taken me to write this paragraph, the stock has fell another few points to just $0.162 per share.
Earlier I reported that trading had been suspended on OCZ's stock, and it appears that there may be more to the story than just having its stock trading halted. Unnamed sources have told TweakTown that Toshiba has quietly completed its acquisition of OCZ's assets as the company prepares to file for bankruptcy and that the companies closed escrow on most of OCZ's assets yesterday.
In a call just weeks ago OCZ's CEO, Ralph Schmitt, stated that in-house manufacturing was halted and a third-party had picked up manufacturing. Weeks later TweakTown reported from the rumor mill that OCZ and Toshiba were talking. Last week Storage Review displayed a picture of an OCZ Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller in a Panasonic SSD. Panasonic is another company based in Japan and has close ties to Toshiba. Panasonic wouldn't release a new SSD with a controller from a company headed for bankruptcy without some inside knowledge.
Now the events over the last 30 days make perfect sense. When a major investor pulled out due to OCZ's cash burn issues, Toshiba swooped in and made the company an offer it could not refuse. This explains the lack of statements made to investors when things started turning south.
Today it appears that the ongoing saga of OCZ's roller coaster ride on the stock market has finally came to an end. Earlier this morning, weeks of ups and downs in the company's share price as well as rumors of massive financial troubles finally came to a head when trading was halted on the SSD manufactures stock.
Trading was suspended after shares failed to rebound above $1 over the last 30 days, and solidifies rumors that the company is quickly approaching its end of life. I have reached out to several industry analyst, and the general conscious appears to be that the company will either file bankruptcy very soon, or someone like Toshiba will swoop in and buy OCZ for pennies on the dollar. Personally I am expecting them to be bought out, as that makes the most sense at this point.
A few weeks back, our own Chris Ramseyer all but predicted today's outcome in his review of OCZ Vector 150 120GB SSD. Chris poised a question, asking if OCZ would be around six months from now, and I guess the answer has arrived.
Over the last year or so, a war has been waging in east Texas between Newegg.com and the notorious patent troll Erich Spangenberg, and today the war is finally over. Jurors departed the court room and returned the guilty verdict after just three hours of deliberations.
Newegg.com was found to infringe upon all four of the patent assets owned by TQP Development, a patent firm owned by Spangenberg. The patent is said to cover SSL and TLS encryption combined with the RC4 cipher. These are protocols and safety measures commonly used by online retailers to ensure their customers information is protected.
Newegg was ordered to pay $2.3 million which is less than half of the $5.1 million TQP was claiming in damages. So what does this mean for Newegg? I would suspect that Newegg will enter into a licensing agreement with TQP and will continue using the system that is in place. Alternatively, Newegg could develop an entirely new system that it could release into the public domain and forever invalidate TQPs patent.
2013 has been one heck of a year for BlackBerry. In the span of just eleven months, the company has launched its next-gen OS and devices, almost went out of business, and seen its CEO resign after no one wanted to buy the company. Today it appears that BlackBerry is attempting to make the changes necessary to turn the company around.
This morning, BlackBerry announced that its Chief Operating Officer, Kristian Tear, and Cheif Marketing Officer, Frank Boulben will no longer be part of the company. Additionally, the company's Chief Financial Officer, Brian Bidulka, will be exiting the company and will be replaced by James Yersh, a long time BlackBerry Exec. Finally, the announcement says that Roger Marti, a member of BlackBerry's board of directors, will be resigning from the Canadian smartphone manufacturer as well.
This major shakeup in management is widely seen as something that should have happen many months ago when BlackBerry first began to circle the drain. Following the ousting of CEO Thorsten Heins, today's announcement should do well to restore some investors faith in the company. With a fresh injection of $1 billion from FairFax Financial, BlackBerry just might manage to turn things around in 2014.
Samsung seems to be struggling in Japan against its biggest rival, Apple. The Korea Herald reports that Samsung's share in the Japanese smartphone space dropped again last quarter, which makes four quarters in a row of decline.
In the last quarter, Samsung sold just one million u nits, while Apple sold close to four times that. Rewinding back twelve months, Samsung was pushing around 1.9 million units a quarter, but each quarter it has dropped significantly. The South Korean electronics giant is now placed fourth in the Japanese market, with Sony coming in second. Apple is currently holding the number one spot in the market.
We thought it had happened last week, but now Apple has confirmed it has acquired PrimeSense. The company works on motion control devices, so this should be an interesting next few years for the iPhone maker.
Apple confirmed the acquisition with AllThingsD, where it said that it does buy smaller companies "from time to time". The company reportedly handed over around $360 million for the deal, which should cement Apple's future in the motion control space. I did think that Apple would use the tech for its Mac range of devices, which I think we'll begin to see teased in the first half of 2014.
According to Corrinne Yu's LinkedIn page, the Halo 4 Principal Engine Programmer has left Microsoft's Halo team, and joined the developer of The Last of Us and Uncharted, Naughty Dog.
What makes this more interesting, is that she is really leaving Microsoft, for its key rival in the console space, Sony. Yu worked as the Principal Engine Programmer with 343 Industries for five years, and before that she worked at Gearbox Software as its Director of Technology. Yu has some experience under her belt, including Halo 4, Borderlands and I don't want to mention it, but I have to: Aliens: Colonial Marines.
I'm sure Katie Couric was yelling out 'yahoo' when she received the call from search giant Yahoo, regarding a job offer as the role of "global news anchor" for the company.
Couric will host a high-profile interview show for the company, according to sources of All Things D. The deal has reportedly been months in the making, with Couric and Yahoo in talks since August. ABC apparently owns the rights to Couric's digital output, as per her contract. All Things D's source have said that Couric's show will include exclusive interviews with a bunch of high-profile celebrities, and business executives.
Couric was intrigued by the idea of a web-only show after she attended a Yahoo advertising event in the Caribbean last fall. The bigger bet here is from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, as she continues to provide reasons for people to visit Yahoo. Couric, though, is a big fish, and should bring in a slew of new viewers.
Update: It seems that there wasn't 'someone' or a company that purchased these Bitcoins, but rather a transfer of Bitcoins. It could be that Bitstamp possibly moved its own funds around, which made this look (to a Bitcoin novice like myself) a massive transfer worth $150 million, and thus, major news - but it looks like it was not. Apologies.
Bitcoins have been going up and down in price, where we saw it rise past $600 in value just a few days ago, but now the price is beginning to stabilize. Bitcoin has been making the mainstream headlines quite a lot, but this latest transaction should see much more attention paid to the digital currency.
Someone in Germany must have quite a lot of cash on-hand, as they just acquired over 194,000 Bitcoins... which has a value of approximately $150 million. Yes, $150,000,000 in Bitcoins. Even the richest people around don't just have $150 million in cash to just spend, so are we looking at a central bank or government scooping up all these Bitcoins?
Also remember, that Germany has recently recognized Bitcoins as a "unit of account" which means it can be used for private transactions. This means that the German government can now tax owners of Bitcoins, and this new $150 million transaction will have quite the tax bill, won't it? Whatever has happened, and whoever has bought these Bitcoins, some serious money just changed hands.
A federal judge has awarded Apple with $290 million in patent damages from Samsung, which gives Apple a total of over $900 million that will be sucked out of Samsung's bank accounts.
The patent case saw a six-woman, two-man jury hearing the case last week, where Apple claimed Samsung copied its technologies from the iPad and iPhone. Apple argued that Samsung owed them nearly $380 million in damages from lost profits, and from profits Samsung enjoyed while selling the devices that were infringing on Apple's patents, as well as royalties.
Samsung didn't stand there defenseless, so it bit back, claiming that Apple inflated the value of their patents. The South Korean giant also reiterated the important of consumer choice, concluding that damages should not exceed $52 million. The jury ended up deciding that Samsung was indeed guilty of patent infringement on 13 smartphones and tablets, including features like pinch-to-zoom, and bounce back.