Google has come to the aid of Megaupload and Hotfile, surprisingly, where they filed a brief at a federal court in Florida, defending the file-hosting site Hotfile in its case against the MPAA. Google acuses the movie companies of misleading the court, arguing that Hotfile is protected under the DMCA's safe harbor. Google is also refuting claims being made by the US government in the criminal case against Megaupload.
It was back in February of 2011 that the MPAA announced a lawsuit against Hotfile, where the site's popularity is "a direct result of the massive digital theft that Hotfile promotes", the MPAA said. Two weeks ago, the movie studios asked the court to issue a summary judgement against Hotfile, and to shut down the site. The MPAA argues that Hotfile is a piracy haven, and should not be eligible for DMCA safe harbor protection.
This request did not pass the eyes and ears of Google, who have now filed an amicus brief in support of Hotfile, and according to Google, the movie studios are misleading the court by wrongfully suggesting that Hotfile is not protected by the DMCA. Google has pointed out that YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia are able to thrive thanks to the protection that the DMCA provides. Whereas, if the MPAA has its way, these and more services would be in quite serious trouble.
I'm having quite the laugh at this one. The Pirate Bay posted on their official blog that they are planning to experiment putting servers into low space orbit using radio-controlled drones to avoid being raided by ground-based police. While they will continue to only host the magnet links that they have been hosting terrestrially, this will make raiding and shutting down there servers much more difficult.
The front machines will still be located all over the planet, terrestrially bound, but all these machines do is forward you on to the secret locations of the actual servers hosting the data. These machines don't even have a hard drive. Right now they forward you to machines on the ground, but, if these experiments work, they may be sending your data into the last frontier: space.
Apple has decided just what it wants to do with its near 100 billion in cash reserves. Today, Apple announced that they would being buying back shares of stock to help fight the effects of dilution and start paying dividends of $2.65 a quarter which works out to about 1.8%. Let's put 1.8% in perspective. Intel pays 3%, Microsoft pays 2.5%, Texas Instruments pays 2.1%, and telecom giants like Verizon and AT&T pay out north of 5%.
I highly doubt that Apple is doing this to juice stock prices, but they may be doing it to offload some payroll costs onto stock holders. Most likely, however, they are using it to end the questions that people have been asking endlessly. Think about it, having a 100b cash pile doesn't really help investors and only spurs questions about their future plans.
Google is committed to being environmentally friendly with their data centers. They've been reducing power usage, and now they are using treated waste water instead of fresh water. By using water and evaporative cooling, Google has already reduced their power usage by half, according to Google. Google quickly realized they didn't need to use fresh, drinkable water to cool their servers, so they worked out a deal with the local water district to syphon 30% of the treated waste water that would otherwise flow into the local river.
Now, some of the water leaves the cooling towers as water vapor, and the rest gets sent to an on-site treatment plant where it is filtered and released into that same local river "clean, clear, and safe." The water is treated before going to Google, used to cool the servers and then processed once more before being released. They claim the water is cleaner than if they had never taken the water.
Today may just be Kim Dotcom's lucky day. I'm sure most of us remember that fateful day 8 weeks ago when his mansion was raided by police. Well, apparently, his house was raided on a court order that should have never been granted. A judgment from Justice Judith Potter on Friday declared the restraining order "null and void" and having "no legal effect" which means that the government may be forced to return his assets and property back to him.
Justice Potter has said that after the police found the mistake, they sought to correct the mistake after the raid by applying for the proper order, retrospectively listing assets already seized. This order has been granted temporarily, but Potter has said that she will rule on whether this means Mr. Dotcom should get his property back. The raid left him without any money or means to fight the charges that he was running the biggest criminal copyright operation in history.
Court papers show Akel stating Dotcom's belongings and fortune "must be released" because it was "unlawfully seized and restrained under the order". All of this does not guarantee Mr. Dotcom's property back, however. The law allows for mistakes, and for him to get his property back, his lawyers will need to show a "lack of good faith."
At least something good regarding air travel is finally happening. The FAA has announced plans to re-evaluate the use of electronic devices during taxi, takeoff, and landing. This will be the first time that this has happened since 2006. The unfortunate part of this is that they are only considering devices other than cellphones. So while you may not be making phone calls during takeoff, you may be able to get a few more pages done on the latest thriller novel you happen to be reading on your tablet or e-reader.
Previously to this, testing was an expensive and arduous task. For a device to be approved, it had to be taken up on an empty flight, by itself, on every plane in an airline's fleet on every single airline that wanted to approve the device for use. Clearly, this is an expensive and time consuming process, so the airlines haven't been conducting the tests. The FAA has pledged to work with "manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers" to solve the problem of gaining device approval.
Minority Report fans, check in, please. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has started up a new initiative, Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), where it aims to use sensor technology to detect cues "indicative of mal-intent", as defined by the DHS, as intent or desire to cause real harm, "rapidly, reliably, and remotely". They would use it to, "fight terror".
What is the FAST system capable of? Well, it has the features to monitor physiological and behavioral cues without contact. This means it is capable of capturing data such as your heart rate and steadiness of gaze of passengers that are about to board a plane. With said cues, FAST can then run through algorithms in real-time to compute the probability than an individual is planning to commit a crime.
According to the science journal, Nature, the first round of field tests for the program was completed at an "undisclosed location" in the northeast several months ago, where in lab tests, FAST reported a 70-percent accuracy rate. Not too damn bad for what would be a first-gen attempt/device.
PayPal have had the thirst for business for quite sometime now, and aren't just content with staying online, and so they should be. The company revealed their latest PayPal service: PayPal Here.
With PayPal Here, the service includes a free card processing app, as well as a unique triangle-looking thingo that attaches to most Android and iOS-based devices. From here, you can swipe a credit card at literally any location in the world, as long as you have Internet access.
This isn't something new in itself, but PayPal's transaction fee is: just 2.7-percent with no monthly fees. The 2.7-percent is universal to boot, which means you could use any card you like, including American Express, and you'll be charged just 2.7-percent of the total. At the moment, mobile card processing pioneer, Square, charges a universal 2.75-percent transaction fee.
Apple have a very delicious kitty of nearly $100 billion in cash reserves right now, with $97.6 billion to be precise. Come 9AM Eastern on Monday, March 19, CEO Tim Cook as well as CFO Peter Oppenheimer will discuss the "outcome of the Company's discussions".
Apple will offer this discussion as a phone call and as a live stream with replays available for two weeks afterwards. Apple have actively been discussing what they should do with their cash reserves, where other companies would spend it, or acquire other smaller companies, or start-ups, Apple have just been saving, saving, saving.
Investment analysts have complained more than once that Apple should offer a dividend payout to shareholders despite the stock being the largest in the world, as well as one of the fastest growing, too. Apple have always been careful of its spending, which is at least attributed to the late Steve Jobs. Most believed that Jobs had recognized what happened to Apple previously in his absence from the company, and used it as a sign to build a cash reserve in the event of an unforeseen circumstance such as a sharp market drop, economic crisis, or something along those lines.
Here comes another blow to the search giant. Not only are they being investigated by both US and EU regulators, but they are now being sued. A lawsuit has been filed in California Superior Court that is seeking class-action status, damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. The lawsuit names California residents Dodd J. Harris and Stephen Sabatino. Harris is upset because he purchased the app "Learn Chinese Mandarin Pro" for $4.83 in December. He claims that the app did not work as advertised, but he was too late. It was already 20 minutes past his purchase. Google's return policy only allows 15 minutes.
Sabatino, on the other hand, bought "aBTC", a BitTorrent client for Android, for $4.99 in January. The product didn't work, however, he tried tinkering with it for an hour before attempting to unsuccessfully return it. In December 2010, Google lowered the return policy on apps from 24 hours to 15 minutes. They stated this was because "most users who request a refund do so within minutes of purchase."
In addition to the refund policy, the suit is challenging Google's app approval process, or lack there of. Google, unlike Apple, has previously allowed any app to be posted to the market. This has led to many apps on the market which contain malware. In response to this, Google last month added a new layer of security, dubbed Bouncer, which will attempt to scan apps for evidence of malware and bounce them.
US and EU regulators have launched an investigation into Google and the allegations that they bypassed the privacy settings of Safari users on both desktop and mobile iOS users. Google spokeswoman contends that these actions were unintended. She said, "It's important to remember that we didn't anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers." Let's try to understand what happened in a little more detail.
Google has discovered that when they created a temporary link between the user's Safari browser and Google's servers, it allowed other ad cookies to be placed on the browser. Google has since been removing these files, but the damage for Google has already been done. These investigations could have Google on the hook financially for quite a lot. If they are found to have broken a settlement agreement FTC, they could be fined $16,000 per violation, per day. In addition, state attorneys general can levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation. And all of this is only state side.
A lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas earlier this week by 13 individuals alleging that "the defendants -- several of the world's largest and most influential technology and social networking companies -- have unfortunately made, distributed and sold mobile software applications that, once installed on a wireless mobile device, surreptitiously harvest, upload and illegally steal the owner's address book data without the owner's knowledge or consent." The defendants in question are Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Yelp and 14 other companies.
This claim, if true, is pretty worrisome for users of the apps, such as myself. Last month, one of the companies named in the suit was pressured into issuing a public apology after a Singapore-based programmer uncovered the fact in a blog post. An article, Mobile Apps Take Data Without Permission by the New York Times, was cited several times in the 152-page complaint. This lawsuit comes at a time privacy concerns over mobile applications appears to be steadily rising.
According to our source:
Apple, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this week's lawsuit. A Twitter spokesman said the company did not comment on pending litigation.
AU Optronics, you naughty, naughty company. They've had their name thrown through courts before, where in a 2009 group suit they were targeted for LCD price fixing. But, it's not like LCD price fixing is anything new, but it seems that AUO will be getting slapped with the decision process in the US.
A US court found the Taiwanese company guilt in a case, where the fine could be as large as $1 billion. Quite a lot of green, if you ask me. The company was charged as part of an alleged price-fixing group, that operated for quite a while it seems, between 1999 and 2006 to be exact, where they were the only Asian LCD maker in that lot to plead not guilty.
This ruling comes after LG coughing up a $400 million fine in 2008, where Samsung talked themselves into an early deal to sidestep prosecution. A duo of AUO executives were also found guilty, but its former CEO, L.J. Chen, was not. AUO are expected to appeal, which could take a year, but that hasn't stopped their stock price from dropping in the meantime.
We all know what an absolute juggernaut the iPad is, no matter if you're a fan of Apple, or not. But according to analyst Michael Walkley with Canaccord Genuity, Apple are already breaking their pre-order records, surprised? I'm not.
Genuity has checked with Apple's distribution channels, and the orders are already backlogged for weeks. Apple's initial stock of the third-generation iPad sold out in the first 48 hours of going on pre-order, some insane results. New orders are now taking three weeks to ship to the States, with the UK in a similar situation.
Walkley expects that Apple will sell 65.6 million iPads in 2012, which is a projected number exceeding the initial figure by an insane 10 million units. He adds that he expects Apple to sell somewhere around 90.6 million iPads in 2013, which is an increase over his previous estimated shipment total of 79.7 million.
If these figures manifest into reality, we're looking at some serious domination from Apple, where they should capture 60-percent of the overall tablet sales.
Regina Dugan, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is leaving and joining the warm, cuddly arms of Google. Dugan has only been with DARPA for three years, but was "offered and accepted [a] senior executive position" with Google, according to DARPA spokesperson Eric Mazzacone.
Mazzacone also added that Dugan felt she couldn't refuse an offer from such an "innovative company" like Google. Dugan has accepted the offer, and will slide into an unspecified "senior executive position" with Google. Currently there's no word on when exactly she'll join Google, but it should be over the next few weeks.
Considering Dugan worked for a company that worked on shape-shifting robots, Mach 20 missiles and mind-controlled limbs, it would have to be an extraordinary opportunity for her to switch ranks and join Google. Working for DARPA must feel like working for Skynet, so maybe that's what made her change her mind? Maybe she saw some crazy things at DARPA that just made her want to disconnect and have more of a "real" job where she could talk about what she was working on with her loved ones, friends, etc.
It was only a little over 24 hours ago that we reported that game retailer, GAME, had "two weeks to turn its fortune around", but it seems those two weeks were a bit of a stretch. It's now being reported that The Game Group PLC is losing share prices, and fast. Dropping from 62p per share of last year down to a catastrophic 1.28p per share yesterday.
In response to this, the group has now placed their entire business up for sale, desperately looking for a buyer. GAME owns 610 stores in the UK alone, with 6,000 staff, as well as another 4,000 staff and 663 more stores across the world, with brands such as ScoreGames, Centro Mail, GAME, Gameplay, and Gamestation. The board has said:
It is uncertain whether any of the solutions currently being explored by the board will be successful or will result in any value being attribute to the shares of the company ... It has not been possible to source new products from a number of suppliers.
There's also a March 25th date of doom floating around for the troubled group, where their second-quarter rental payment is due. If a deal cannot be struck between now and then, the firm may collapse and go into administration. In the words of Hicks from Aliens, "That's it man, game over man, game over!"
It seems game-related retailer, GAME, is having some issues, and according to a new report "has two weeks to turn its fortune around". Senior members of the GAME management have been told that administration is possible. GAME only launched a Spring Clean promotion today, offering games, hardware and accessories at heavily discounted prices.
This is said to be in an effort to keep the company afloat, but is it enough to save them? The bigger problem is GAME has issues sourcing the latest games of late, including the biggest game of 2012 so far: Mass Effect 3. This is said to have cost GAME a huge £2.5 million in lost profit.
It's also rumored that US-based GameStop wants to buy GAME's shops in both Spain and Portugal. Something else rumored is that GAME put its 663 stores that are based overseas up for sale by appointing advisers at Rothschild in January.
As it stands right now, Gartner have revealed to the world that Apple's smartphone marketshare is not that great in China, with Samsung beating them with a huge 24.3-percent of the market, Apple trailing behind with just 7.5-percent.
This is 3x the share that Apple have right now, and the gap has grown twice as big over the summer, said Gartner. The Chinese launch not happening until early-2012, this has resulted in a slumped bunch of numbers. Apple's sales would've been huge had they launched the iPhone 4S earlier.
Apple has overall been enthusiastic about the Chinese market, but are reluctant to support China Mobile's TD-SCDMA 3G network has given Samsung, as well as locals like Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE free rein to thrive on the world's largest cellular carrier. Apple has so far been on second-place China Unicom, and have only recently added China Telecon, sitting at third place.
The latest report from the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) paints a different picture to the "PC gaming is dying/dead" argument, citing record software sales reaching $18.6 billion in 2011, a 15-percent increase over 2010.
This increase in sales, is said to be attributed to China, where they're seeing a growth twice as fast as the global market, generating $6 billion for a 27-percent jump on-year. Surprisingly, no geographical market declined in sales, with the US, UK, Germany, Korea and Japan seeing a nice 11-percent boost to $8 billion in revenue.
PCGA does not that free-to-play games provided a very nice slice of that profit pie, with Zynga alone reporting $1.1 billion in sales. The report reads:
The PC gaming juggernaut continues unabated, across the industry and geographic boundaries. While reports of gaming sales at retail show signs of struggle, the impact hasn't been as great for PC gaming which had an earlier adoption of newer formats, business-models and delivery...
This is something quite surprising, given the state of the economies of the world. People find solace in gaming, instead of going out and spending at retail, on cars, houses, etc. Gaming is an escape from the crumbling world around us. So, PC gaming isn't dying, but it is changing. We've seen a departure from the bleeding-edge graphics, next-gen graphics engines outed every 12 or so months, mod-friendly platforms, "hardcore" gameplay, and so on.
Forbes has a nice article out, where they've stated that Valve co-founder and managing director, Gabe Newell is one of the richest people on the planet, with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion, he ranks in at 854th out of 1,226 global billionaires.
Newell made his debut on Forbes' list of world billionaires, as Valve had a smash-hit 2011. Valve had massive success in both in-house developed games such as Portal 2, but as a game distributor, where Steam doubles its sales for the seventh straight year, and now features over 40 million users.
With the "most conservative estimates", Valve's enterprise value sits at more than $3 billion, and because Newell owns more than 50-percent of the company, he is worth in excess of $1.5 billion. The privately-held Valve Corporation are hush-hush when it comes to revenues, and Newell himself doesn't comment on his personal finances. So, Forbes consulted with video game industry insiders, equity analysts, investment bankers, and technology analysts to figure out just how much Valve is worth.
NVIDIA has had their current GeForce logo for quite a while now, and most of you won't remember how long, so here we go: since the introduction of the GeForce 8800 GTX. Even I forgot how long it had been until now.
Pictured above, is the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX logo, and as we can see, there's some serious capitilization there to emphasize the name itself, so instead of saying "NVIDIA GeForce GTX", it'll be the "NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX". If this were a forum or Reddit, people would be telling NVIDIA to turn off their caps lock, because they're shouting.
The new GEFORCE GTX logo is NVIDIA's new way of pointing out that these graphics cards are for serious gamers, with the GPUs starting at around $150, going all the way up to the dual-GPU GK110 card that we should see in the coming months. I love it, personally. It looks 'new', compared to the older logo, and feels very 2012 for some reason.
Nice job, NVIDIA.