Apple have reached a deal with local governments to finalize its plans for a data center to be built in Prineville, Oregon. According to The Associated Press' report, Apple have agreed to invest $250 million in facilities on its 160-acre property, and will offer an annual $150,000 "project fee" in lieu of property taxes over the next fifteen years.
Apple have also guaranteed some decent job numbers, where there'll be 35 jobs introduced to the center at 150-percent of the average wage in the country. The Associated Press continues:
The $150,000 project fee in part of an agreement with Apple that was made public this week. Prineville City Manager Steve Forrester called it a common arrangement. The Oregonian reports that the value of the tax break will depend on how much Apple winds up investing. Similar tax breaks on Google's $1.3 billion data center in The Dalles are worth more than $24 million to the company annually.
Do you currently own stock? If not, is it because of all the fees and difficulties associated with buying and selling it? Well, it appears that shortly after Facebook goes public, you could be able to purchase stock in companies straight from their respective Facebook page without any fees or brokers. The minimum amount would be $10, so it's not like you have to spend a fortune to start.
All of this is according to former Facebook executive and current director at Loyal3 Chris Kelly. Loyal3 would like to point out that only 18% of American families own stock, a number which they hope to change with this CSOP, or customer stock ownership plan. Direct purchase isn't new, but few companies use it since it isn't cost efficient to oversee millions of tiny share holders.
Loyal3 hopes that by making ownership easy and without fees the average person will be more inclined to purchase stock. CEO Barry Schneider points out that ownership changes a persons point-of-view regarding an item. People usually care more about something they care than something they don't. Think about it, have you ever washed a rental car?
The ability to buy stock is believed to be available as early as June, but there will be a $2500 cap to discourage people from being daily traders. The idea looks good on the face. I mean, I would buy stock in companies if I didn't have to pay fees.
Facebook and IPO, we've heard these two words so many times over the last year or more, and we're inching closer to that magical day. Facebook's recent acquisition of Instagram is sure to go a decent way to help them expand their value, and we could see them eyeing IPO on May 17. This is pends on whether the SEC agrees that all of the paperwork is in order.
Earlier reports have pegged Facebook of hitting NASDAQ during the third week of May, with another source over at CNBC saying that Facebook could go public either on the 17th or 24th of May. Facebook is valued at around $100 billion, right now. Other reports are pointing toward the company wanting to raise $10 billion at a $100 billion valuation.
The only problem with this, is something that I would've said anyway, but TechCrunch points it out: a lot can happen in four weeks. TC cites that the European economy could crash, another oil crisis, etc - and whilst it may be tongue-in-cheek, anything can happen. We'll see how we go between now and then, but it looks like Facebook are going public, and it's not too far away now, folks.
AMD reported its first quarter financial results today and it's not quite as bad as was expected. AMD beat expectations, but they still posted a loss of $590 million. AMD has a strong product line-up in both the CPU and GPU markets, but it's pretty hard to compete against the chip giant that is Intel.
The loss, however, is not due to operations but rather an accounting charge. Revenue for the quarter was $1.59 billion which was higher than the expected $1.56 billion Including the accounting charge, the loss of $590 million amount to 80 cents a share. If we take out the accounting charge, AMD had a good quarter, with a non-GAAP profit of 12 cents a share, or $92 million. Analysts predicted only 9 cents a share with the accounting charge taken out.
"AMD delivered solid results in the first quarter as we remain focused on improving our execution, delivering innovative products, and building a company around a strategy to deliver strong cash flow and earnings growth," said Rory Read, AMD president and CEO. "A complete top-to-bottom introduction of new APU offerings, combined with ample product supply resulting from continued progress with our manufacturing partners, positions us to win and grow."
Which cyberlocker service will get busted next? RapidShare, MediaFire distance themselves from MegaUpload
RapidShare and MediaFire certainly don't want to be the next cyberlocker services to be taken down, but it's a fear that they are having to deal with after the US government took down MegaUpload back on January 19, 2012. They are now trying to distance themselves from MegaUpload in order to prevent being shut down on similar complaints.
All of the online cyberlocker services have fear that they could be next, and they are now publicly trying to show that they are different from the now defunct MegaUpload. Danny Raimer, who is RapidShare's general counsel, told U.S. News & World Report that Megaupload's approach to piracy was "so far from what we're doing and what we want to stand for."
RapidShare continues to deny that they are or have violated copyright laws publicly released a "responsible practices" manifesto for cyberlocker and cloud storage companies. This includes practices like including in the TOS that the company reserves the right to go through repeat offender's lockers.
Langridge, of MediaFire, wrote: "MediaFire cooperates fully with the MPAA, RIAA, and various other organizations who work to identify and prohibit the distribution of copyrighted content."
A spokesperson for the top four recording companies released a statement about RapidShare:
The New York Times loves its digital paywall and says that it is a success with consumers, and from the last statistics I saw, it is. However, its digital advertising business is not doing quite as well. Last quarter the business actually receded by 2%, which isn't much, but, considering other advertisers gained, is worrisome.
At the publisher's core News Media Group, advertising fell even further. Overall ad sales were down 6.1 percent. Times CEO Arthur Sulzberberger Jr. blamed "uneven U.S. economic environment and uncertain global conditions" for weak ad sales. The New York Times is expecting similar downward pressure in the second quarter.
People seem happy enough to pay for the paper. Circulation revenue was up 9.7 percent and it has near 500,000 subscribers to its digital service. The New York Times hopes to increase this by shrinking what it provides for free. In related news, the Time's About.com is also having trouble. Its revenue decreased a massive 23.1%.
This is something I definitely wasn't aware of, but I'm the type of person that doesn't usually require phone support - and if I get to the stage where it doesn't work on my smartphone, quick, it gets uninstalled and I go into a fit of internal rage.
But, the Google Play Store actually features 24-hour technical support over the phone. So if you have any problems with purchasing or downloading apps, movies or music, you can fill out an online form and a Google representative will call you during your requested time.
The Play Store 24-hour technical support is only for Play Store-related problems, not handset-related problems. So I'm sure they would be picky on what they would help you out on, which is fair enough. If you want to have a handy link to contact the people at Google Play, try this link. Not bad, huh?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have awarded Nintendo with a patent for emulating older handheld consoles. Which handheld consoles you ask? Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance are being targeted for emulation on external "low capability" computing devices such as airline seat-back displays.
At the moment, it's unclear what Nintendo plan to do with the patent, but it is interesting nonetheless. Backwards compatibility on newer consoles usually uses software or hardware emulation to achieve the playback of older games. This new patent Nintendo hold covers both hardware and software emulation, but is specific to lower-powered devices, rather than modern systems.
The patent covers frame-skipping to enhance performance, as well as requirements that the emulated software have the look and feel greater than, or equal to the original hardware's execution - which is a very good thing. Global handheld emulation developed by Nintendo, which is addressed in the patent, would potentially open up a huge game back-catalog for usage on a wide variety of platforms, interestingly, not just Nintendo-produced ones.
Google wants more money, and who wouldn't? The company sells roughly $38 billion a year in advertising, but wants to go after some of those TV advertising dollars - where there's more than $190 billion per year. Google's new pitch to advertisers is now: think of us like TV! Buy us like TV!
What this means is that Google are going to begin using an old-media metric calling gross rating points, or GRPs, to sell display ads and video ads. These are the two big ideas:
- GRPs are supposed to measure the size of the audience that sees a marketing campaign. Compared to the detailed, click-by-click reporting that digital media provides, they're very crude.
- GRPs are still the preferred currency for most ad buyers and sellers, who find them simple and effective.
Facebook have also joined the GRP game, where they've been pushing metric for a while now, so has ComScore, the Web measurement service. All three companies are trying to move the big dollars that brand marketers spend on TV over to the Web, which is primarily used by search advertisers.
eBay, in the midst of a rather uncertain economy has done very well in the first quarter of 2012. With economies around the world on the brink of destruction, eBay has managed to increase sales and income, much to the delight of Wall Street investors. Stock in the company is up more than 3.5% in after-hours trading.
The first quarter ended March 31, 2012 and the numbers that have come in have pleased investors. Net income rose to $725 million, or 55 cents per share, against $619 million, or 47 cents per share in the same quarter one year ago. Sales have increased a massive 29% to $3.3 billion. A majority of this growth is due to the strength of the company's Marketplace and PayPal businesses.
"We believe that innovation in retail today is technology driven, and consumers are embracing smarter, easier, better ways to shop," CEO John Donahoe said. "We are enabling commerce in this new retail environment, supporting and partnering with sellers of all sizes and giving consumers worldwide the ability to shop anytime, anywhere, for whatever they want."
Apparently selling Windows Phone is not as easy as some people seem to think it is. Maybe this explains why Gavin Kim has left Microsoft just 5 months after he joined in as General Manager of Windows Phone Product Marketing. Before Microsoft, he was a vice president with Samsung.
"We can confirm that Gavin Kim has made a personal decision to leave Microsoft," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail. "We feel very good about the work he has done to set the team, and its new lead Eugene Ho, up for success. We wish him all the best." No actual reasons for his departure have been given.
It will be interesting to watch and see if the marketing strategy of Windows Phone changes now that he is not with the company anymore. I'm sure he found the job difficult to stomach, what with the high expectations and poor results and all. "No one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone," said a European telecom executive quoted in a Reuters report on Tuesday. The executive added, "If the Lumia with the same hardware came with Android in it and not Windows, it would be much easier to sell."
Normally, one is considered pregnant after conception, but not so according to a new law in Arizona. The law now states, that women are now legally pregnant two weeks before conception. I've bolded before, as I really need to emphasize this.
The new law named "Women's Health and Safety Act", was signed by Republican Governer Jan Brewer. This new legislation is designed to reduce the amount of time a woman is allowed to have a legal abortion, and is one of the most absolutely insane bills to enter America. The bill was sponsored by Arizona State Rep. Kimberly Yee (pictured above), who last month penned an op-ed titled "No drug test, no welfare", where she wrote:
States have an obligation to hold those on public assistance accountable for their actions. Receiving a public benefit is a privilege, not a right. The debate on drug testing welfare recipients is simply about the responsible use of tax dollars.
Surely there's something in the water in Arizona? Another point, is its two women pushing this... they should really know better, especially on the going ons of a females reproductive system.
Today, Twitter announced something akin to a treaty. The pledge gives employees more control over the inventions that they create and, more importantly, promises the patents will only be used for defensive purposes and not to prevent other companies from innovating. This new pledge comes on the heels of the quarterly "Hack Week," in which employees work on projects that are outside their regular day-to-day work.
"One of the great things about Twitter is working with so many talented folks who dream up and build incredible products day in and day out. Like many companies, we apply for patents on a bunch of these inventions," Adam Messinger, vice president of engineering, wrote in a blog post. "However, we also think a lot about how those patents may be used in the future; we sometimes worry that they may be used to impede the innovation of others. For that reason, we are publishing a draft of the Innovator's Patent Agreement, which we informally call the 'IPA.'"
A group of disgruntled parents have filed a lawsuit claiming that Apple is unfairly profiting from in-app purchases of digital content of free games that specifically target children. The group is claiming that it is far to easy for children using the devices to charge up enormous bills without any sort of authorization from their respective parents.
The way Apple's purchasing system allows credit card information to be saved and accessed with just a password for future purchases makes it so that kids don't have to ask parents for permission. Federal Judge Edward Davila agreed with the group of parents and has granted a hearing for the class action suit on the grounds that enough examples had been provided for the lawsuit to proceed.
The court filing accuses Apple of "inducing" children to make in-app purchases. "These games are highly addictive, designed deliberately to be so, and tend to compel children playing them to purchase large quantities of game currency, amounting to as much as $100 per purchase or more," the suit read, according to the Telegraph.
Apple has asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed on the grounds of its recent updates that change the purchasing system. The updates allow an option to enter an additional password to purchase apps and other items from the store. Additionally, there is an option to turn off the feature completely.
'Google' and 'privacy' probably should never be used in the same sentence, unless of course you are accusing Google of breaking a privacy agreement. Well, the FTC has done that, and will be deciding in the next 30 days whether or not to fine the Web giant for bypassing a Safari setting and placing cookies anyway.
Google, before ceasing the practice, had been using a special code to get around Safari's privacy settings so that they could track users on computers and mobile devices. The FTC is looking into whether this violates a 2011 settlement agreement between the FTC and Google over privacy concerns with the launch of Google Buzz. The fines in this case could be up to $16,000 per day.
Google continues to defend itself and a spokesperson stated that the company's behavior was "[providing] features that signed-in Google users had enabled." "However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser," Google spokesperson Chris Gaither told CNET. "We will of course cooperate with any officials who have questions."
This is not the first time that Google has been in hot water over privacy concerns. The most recent, prior to this one, was the combining of the privacy policies across Google's services. The new policy allowed Google to combine user data from all of the services.
Everyone likes working for Google because of the atmosphere around the campus. One of the neat things at the Google Campus in Mountain View, California is the bikes that are scattered around to facilitate easier moving between campus buildings. Last fall, it became time to replace the bikes and the company knew exactly where to go.
The company turned to its engineers by launching a competition among employees to redesign the 2-year-old fleet of bikes that currently existed. "We've got an entrepreneurial and innovative culture," said Brendon Harrington, Google's transportation operations manager. "We said, 'You tell us what you think is a cool design.'"
There was only 4 design criteria that had to be met by the design. First, it had to be easy to produce. Second, it needed to be affordable. Third, it had to be comfortable and secure. Fourth, the bike had to be Googley, using novel components, structure, and appearance. In response, Google received about 36 entries.
Entries ranged from a BMX-style bike to a modern take on the old Penny-farthing high-wheel bike. Google ended up going with something conservative: a beach cruiser with coaster brakes and hand brakes. It also sports a basket and bell and fenders to keep the spray off of riders' backs during wet weather. It also has a cover over the chain to protect clothing from grease.
Oracle and Google duke it out in court starting today, Oracle is suing Google for $1 billion over patent violations
Beginning today, is one of the biggest court cases in tech history. Oracle are suing Google to the tune of $1 billion, where they're claiming that Google have violated several patents and copyrights. What the fight is over exactly, is due to Oracle acquiring the intellectual properties of Java when they took over Sun Microsystems back in 2009.
Oracle are claiming that Google's mobile OS, Android, infringes on several of its IP rights relating to the program language. Java was released in 1995, and allows software to run on multiple computer platforms, instead of just one type of operating system. Oracle argues that by using their IP (Java), and then giving Android away for free, Google are undermining the possibility of licensing Java to mobile phone makers.
This doesn't mean the end of Android by any means, but what it does mean is we could see a big change in Android in the near future. If Oracle ends up winning, they could force Google to change their Android code, which would make millions of apps for Android, useless. Alternatively, Oracle could force Google to charge for development of apps.
Let's first start this rumor off with a note: EA denies this rumor, however, its statements in regards to it seem to indicate that it is true.
A Mr. Derek Andersen from Startup Grind is claiming that he has confirmed with multiple sources inside Electronic Arts (EA) that the company is planning to layoff somewhere between 500 and 1100 employees. This equates to somewhere between 5% and 11% of the workforce could be on the chopping block. The layoffs were supposedly set for April 9, but have since been pushed back.
However, he claims that they are coming very soon. This year has been rough of EA: Star Wars hasn't matched goals and they were voted 'Worst Company In America' in a poll held by The Consumerist. Additionally, stock prices have fallen from $61 down to the current $16. Zynga has also cleaned out a large portion of EA's management.
EA has released two statements in regards to this rumor which deny it. However, within these denials, the terms 'resize' and 'adjustments' were thrown about. It would appear that EA will mask these layoffs under the camouflage of a 'restructuring.' It will be interesting to see if these layoffs come to fruition. For the employees' sake, I hope that they don't.
If you're a fan of online video, you could be in for a new advertising treat: AOL and Google have announced plans to start selling upfronts. This common practice of television networks is where they sell shows and ad space for the upcoming season. This is a good way to clear advertising inventory and have predictable revenue streams.
Google is set to have these upfronts in May of this year. AOL has since announced that they are getting in on the action. AOL says that they will offer "guaranteed audience delivery for online video advertising campaigns bought across its properties." AOL will host advertisers on April 24 at a Digital Content Newfronts presentation.
Nikesh Arora, chief business officer at Google, highlighted YouTube's brand power. Google hopes to translate that into ad dollars. Arora said:
We're seeing a breakthrough on brands. More than at any point in the last decade of online advertising, we're at a point where major brand advertisers, from movie studios to CPG companies, are finally looking to digital media as a central part of their marketing efforts. We are making huge progress. YouTube has gone from an interesting ad buy to a key buy for brands. In May we'll be hosting our first upfront for brands and agencies showcasing the latest channel content and opportunities for marketers, something television has been doing forever, we will do that for YouTube [in the year].
Friday saw a court hearing in Virginia about what to do with all of the MegaUpload data that is being stored by Carpathia on its own money. Carpathia, along with several other groups including the MPAA, believe that the federal government should pay for the storage and hosting costs of the data.
The government asserts that they had nothing to do with causing these problems to Carpathia. His message was if the cost of doing business with MegaUpload has gone up, the added expenses shouldn't be pushed onto tax payers. The government's lawyer also seemed to place some of the blame for the piracy on Carpathia. For the first time, the blame wasn't solely on MegaUpload's managers.
As reported Friday, the judge has sent everyone back to negotiations to try to figure out what to do with all of this data and how to handle the costs associated with it. The interesting part of this that no one really knows about is that MegaUpload put Carpathia on the map. Before MegaUpload, they were a small, largely unheard of company in 2009.
Microsoft could end up swapping their search engine, Bing, for Facebook shares after the upcoming Facebook IPO. This news comes from a news editor at CNBD where they let details slide that Microsoft could be doing the swap. The source hasn't been revealed, and it is reportedly from the anonymously authored Kindle e-book that has just come out called "The Facebook IPO Pitch".
Just last week Microsoft purchased 800 patents from AOL which could be used to protect its Partner, Facebook, from social networking litigation. We already know that Microsoft and Facebook are in bed together, so this makes sense. On top of that, Facebook and Skype collaboration is playing into this fight, with Microsoft owning Skype and all.
At the moment Microsoft are bleeding cash from Bing, big time: $2.5 billion a year to be exact. Facebook already sports Bing for its results in search, but a full ownership of the search engine could help Facebook integrate Bing much deeper into its social networking site. This year is definitely turning out to be very interesting for both Microsoft and Facebook.