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.
The US is hungry for blood over the MegaUpload debacle, and now US prosecutors have filed papers that seek the extradition of Kim Dotcom, founder of MegaUpload, along with three colleagues, who are charged in the US with allegedly running a criminal enterprise responsible for online piracy of copyrighted goods.
The extradition papers jumped over the pond on Friday and found themselves on the desk of the North Shore District Court in Auckland, New Zealand, confirmed by the country's Ministry of Justice's spokeswoman said on Monday, according to PCWorld. It was decided on Wednesday by the High Court of New Zealand, Auckland Registry that Dotcom could stay free on bail, after government prosecutors acting on behalf of US authorities appealed a February 22 decision of the District Court to grant Dotcom bail.
The judge has said that he understands the extradition hearing won't take place until August, and also observed that for Dotcom "to be incarcerated for another six months awaiting the extradition hearing, the risk of flight has to be a real one". Dotcom has an electronic monitoring device monitoring his every move, which was one of his bail conditions, which has reduced the risk of flight, he said. He added:
Just three years after spinning its semiconductor manufacturing arm into a separate entity called GlobalFoundries (or, GloFo), AMD is now giving up the remaining shares they hold of the company to Abu Dhabi-based Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC).
The deal was announced late-Sunday, which includes a $425 million payment by AMD to GloFo over two years, as well as a renegotiated wafer pricing deal. This year, both firms have agreed on a fixed water pricing under a "take or pay" arrangements. On top of this, they've also established a framework for wafter pricing in 2013, as well as agreeing that AMD's additional 2012 quarterly payment obligations specified in the 2011 amendment, totalling $430 million, will be waived.
Still, AMD continues to be one of GlobalFoundries' key customers, with the breakup giving AMD more flexibility in sourcing its chips. It also gives GloFo a better position to diversify its customer base. One of the first things to come from this newly-formed deal, is that AMD are now no longer bound by an exclusive arrangement to manufacture their 28nm-based APUs at GlobalFoundries, something that has been rumored since November due to a slow, low-yield production ramp.
Kodak have just recently entered into an agreement with Shutterfly, where they'll sell their online photo sharing service to them for $23.8 million. The deal includes Kodak transferring more than 75 million Gallery customer accounts and associated images in the US and Canada, on top of Kodak overseeing the deal to ensure a smooth transition.
Kodak Gallery is similar to Shutterfly, where it manages online photo galleries and allows customers to print photo books and stationary. When the sale is fully complete, Kodak customers that do not wish to have their photos and personal data handed over to Shutterfly do have options. They can opt to download all of their saved content, or have Kodak make their data available for purchase via DVD.
The deal is not 100-percent yet, as Shutterfly have entered into a stalking horse bid with Kodak for the online gallery. A stalking horse agreement, has the debtor (Kodak) essentially testing the market in advance of an auction to maximize the value of an asset. This allows other companies to submit competing bids for Kodak Gallery before the company seeks Bankruptcy Court approval for sale and auction by late-March.
Ever wanted to buy a car with an 'Intel Inside' sticker on it? Well, soon you'll be able to. Intel is creating a new venture fund to invest in companies that develop technologies used in cars and other powered vehicles.
Intel is planning on putting $100 million into the fund over the next four-to-five years, promising research for automotive hardware, software, and services. The investments could be for a range of things, from navigation to in-car entertainment systems.
Intel is wanting to bust out of the bubble they've created for themselves with a market of processors for laptops and PCs. We can see this as they want to get into the smartphone and tablet market, but now cars? Sales of computing products is expected to decline over time as domestic and global markets become saturated. This should be translated to "because people don't need faster upon faster desktop processors as their dual- or quad-core smartphones and tablets are more than powerful enough'.
Blizzard have reportedly axed 600 positions from their global workforce, they announced earlier today. The layoffs reportedly come as a result of reviews of the company's organizational structure, with the press release stating:
Approximately 90% of the affected employees will come from departments not related to game development. The World of Warcraft development team will not be impacted.
An ex-Blizzard employee who is familiar with the organizational issues explained to Vox Games that the layoffs are predominately from customer service. This is because over the years Blizzard have automated some of these positions, such as the reclaiming of compromised accounts, has now led to increased efficiency of each customer service representative.
Western Digital has just announced they've reached an agreement with Toshiba Corporation to divest certain hard drive manufacturing assets in order to meet the requirements of regulatory agencies reviewing the company's close-but-not-quite-there acquisition of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST).
Within the deal itself, Toshiba will acquire manufacturing and released IP from WD for 3.5-inch hard drives, as well as the firm's near-line storage unit for server application use. WD has also announced they've agreed, subject to completion of the divestiture transaction, to purchase Toshiba Storage Device Thailand (TSDT), a hard drive manufacturing facility that has not resumed operations since the 2011 Thailand floods.
WD plan to slide TSDT facilities and employees into existing operations in Thailand. Financially, nothing is known from these agreements, yet.
AMD is entering what they're calling a 'disruptive server strategy', where they've just acquired an Intel micro-server partner, SeaMicro. Until now, SeaMicro had been building micro-servers using Intel's Sandy Bridge, or Atom-based processors.
AMD have reportedly paid $344 million for SeaMicro, and is set to use them to push itself into the server market as a component, and also, hardware supplier. This is a setback for Intel, as SeaMicro's server designs were flexible enough to accommodate up to 786 Atom processors in one server.
SeaMicro won't even need to have any special configurations to support AMD's x86-based chips and are flexible enough to accept ARM-based chips as well as MIPS-based processors. SeaMicro and Intel were quite close, where SeaMicro had been Intel's main partner in the burgeoning micro-server market, which has been forecasted to take 10-percent of the total server market by 2015.
AMD CEO Rory Read has said:
We are accelerating AMD's transformation into an agile, disruptive innovator capable of staking a data center leadership position. The unmatched combination of AMD's processing capabilities, SeaMicro's system and fabric technology, and our ambidextrous technology approach uniquely positions AMD with a compelling, differentiated position to attack the fastest growing segment of the server market.
HP have just bought down the layoff hammer to approximately 275 of the 500 webOS employees, most of them from engineering (those that make webOS work with actual physical hardware). HP have nearly 350,000 employees, so most of these men and women from the webOS department should find jobs within HP easily.
This is, of course, if HP decide to keep these people within the company. This decision to get rid of 275 webOS-based employees leaves webOS with roughly 225 employees. The decision follows HP's plan to move the webOS group out of the old 1000-employee Palm campus and over to the smaller Cupertino-based campus that HP acquired when they purchased ArcSight in 2010.
HP's official statement on the matter:
As webOS continues the transition from making mobile devices to open source software, it no longer needs many of the engineering and other related positions that it required before. This creates a smaller and more nimble team that is well-equipped to deliver an open source webOS and sustain HP's commitment to the software over the long term.
HP is working to redeploy employees affected by these changes to other roles at the company.
Just over a month ago now, PayPal announced a small five-store pilot with The Home Depot in order to test out PayPal's in-store payment system. PayPal are now proud to announce that The Home Depot are now starting a national roll-out that will let customers pay for goods with PayPal in all of its nearly 2,000 locations nationwide.
Within the fortnight, every The Home Depot store in the U.S. will allow payments from customers using a PayPal card, or mobile phone number and PIN combination. Here's some details on the rollout, and cities:
Starting on February 27th
South - Austin, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, New Orleans, Oklahoma, Tampa/St. Petersburg
North Plains - Minneapolis, Omaha, Wisconsin, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
Starting on March 2nd
West - Bay Area, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle
NY Metro - New York City, Long Island
North - Boston, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia
Starting on March 7th
Mid-West - Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Ohio Valley, Pittsburgh
Mid-Atlantic - Washington D.C., Baltimore
South Atlantic - Louisville, Charlotte, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Nashville
Starting on March 8th
Central - Chicago, St. Louis
Did you feel that? Yeah, that. You know, that breath of fresh air? Oh, it was just Samsung's Product Strategy Executive, Hankil Yoon, talking the truth and not marketing spin or lies. Yoon revealed some interesting facts about Samsung's experience so far, in the tablet market by saying "honestly, we're not doing very well in the tablet market" according to a report from CNET.
They are some strong, harsh, yet refreshingly honest words coming from an executive of a company who seems to be the David in this David vs. Goliath battle with Apple in the tablet market. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress, Yoon added that "the best thing to survive in the market is to kill your products, we want to stay competitive in the market". This is why we're seeing Samsung pushing their Galaxy Note, which sports a Stylus pen.
Samsung struggling in the traditional tablet market is making them think outside of the square, with Yoon stating that he no longer carries around physical notepads or pens, and does all of his jotting down onto his 5-inch Galaxy Note. He adds "even if the design is smaller, how you use the (Note) is totally different". Yoon also dismissed early criticism of the Galaxy Note, saying it would take some education for consumers to begin to get comfortable with the larger screen.
Semiconductor maker, Elpida Memory Inc. have filed for bankruptcy protection according to the Japan Times. After receiving some Government-backed funding, with efforts of a rebuild failing, they've given up. Japan's sole manufacturer of DRAM had liabilities of $5.5 billion.
President of the company, Yukio Sakamoto is said to resign because of this, as they file for protection with the Tokyo District Court. Elpida was founded in 1999 as NEC Hitachi Memory Inc. and have since produced DRAM products since 2000. The company also founded three wholly-owned subsidiaries, Tera Probe, which conducted wafter probe testing, Akita Elpida Memory Inc. which handled the back-end processes of DRAM production and finally, Rexchip Electronics Corp, which handled the front-end.
A fall in prices and the global recession of 2006 is said to have pushed them up against the wall, where they required a Government-backed loan of around $372 million. This injection of cash was used for investment and research and development, but with the strong Yen and the Thailand flooding last year, they were forced to come clean about their finances, and now the dirty laundry has aired.
I can't quite wrap my head around these numbers... Google announced today that they are seeing an astounding 850,000 activations every single day, and have now passed the 300,000,000 mark. 300 million Android-based devices in the wild, that is some impressive work. 850,000 activations every day though, that's insane.
At last year's Mobile World Congress, Google were chuffed to have more than 150,000 apps on their Android Market. Those numbers today? They've eclipsed 450,000, and have experienced over one billion app downloads per month for a while now. To celebrate these numbers, Google have installed "app pods" into their Android stands at MWC.
Most of the featured apps demonstrate the latest Android innovations, such as Android Beam, which lets you share content like web pages, videos, directions and apps - by just tapping two Android-based phones back-to-back. Google are proud to boast there are over 100-plus Android devices on show at MWC on the conveyer belt bar, which is just a small part of the 800-plus Android devices that Google have launched to-date.