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At some point in our lives, almost every American has owned a Nokia branded phone, and it was not that long ago that Nokia was considered king of the handset. Today that long standing legacy has finally come to an end as 99.7-percent of Nokia's shareholders voted to approve Microsoft acquiring Nokia's Devices and Services business for $7.2 billion.
Not all shareholders were so eager to sell, with reports of some being quite upset that an American company would be allowed to purchase a Finnish brand with such a long history. None-the-less, Microsoft is the new owner of Nokia's Devices and services division and we have most likely seen the last Nokia-branded mobile devices to be released. Todays conformation also gives Stephen Elop yet more momentum in his drive to replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft's next CEO.
Personally I am still sticking to my theory that Ballmer, Elop and Gates all planned this entire chain of events out back in 2009 or 2010. I think that everyone knew Ballmer wanted to retire, and that Microsoft needed its own handset to compete with Apple. A plan was hatched that would see Elop being ushered in as CEO of Nokia, who would then closely collaborate with Microsoft to develop the next-generation of Nokia Windows Phones. At the same time, Elop would help Nokia's stock tank and earn himself a big bonus for selling Nokia to Microsoft when things looked really bad. The buyout would be confirmed and Elop would be given Ballmer's seat at the helm as a thank you for his efforts. Call me crazy, but much more shady plots have been hatched in the big business world.
2014 is shaping up to be an interesting year for consumer devices, where I think we'll see a powerful change from smartphones to wearable devices, like Glass, and tablets do a little better, for some companies at least.
One of those companies would be Samsung, which is looking to double its tablet output next year, from this year's 40 million tablets. This is double the number of slates the South Korean giant shipped last year, but it is looking to really up the ante going into 2014. Samsung is hoping to sell as much as 100 million tablets in 2014, a large increase over 2013's numbers, that's for sure.
Bitcoin has a long history of being on the wrong side of the law, and was even at the center of the largest online illegal drug market place in history. Today, as US officials took to the Senate to testify on the virtual currency's validity and legitimacy, new information has been released that tie Bitcoins to a new "Crowdfunded Assassination Market."
The site cleverly named "Assassination Market" is offering bounties for the assassination of President Obama, Federal Reserve Chair, Ben Bernake, and many more government officials all over the world, with some bids going as high as 124 bitcoins. At current market value, that equates to over $70,000. Unfortunately this type of marketplace has been tried in the past. Back in the 1990's a group called cypherpunks poised a similar model that never got off the ground. It is still unclear who started the site, but I am willing to bet that law enforcement agencies worldwide are keeping a close eye on this new market.
Google had a similar incident last year which they paid $22.5 million in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The lawsuit says users specified they did not want to be followed and Google was still tracking them.
New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman: "Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them. By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust."
In the past 9 days or so Bitcoin prices have soared to levels no one expected to see after the shutdown of Silk Road. The surge is most likely the result of senate hearings that begin today in which several US agencies will testify to the legitimacy of Bitcoin, and the impact it is having on the global economy.
Today the value of a single Bitcoin soard past $650 and while it has since declined a little, the fact still stands that the digital currency was sitting at a value of just $85 a few months ago. The increase in value can also be attributed to the fact that Ben Bernake, Chairman of the Federal Reserve said that his agency has no intentions of attempting to regulate Bitcoin anytime soon.
"The FBI's approach to virtual currencies is guided by a recognition that online payment systems, both centralized and decentralized, offer legitimate financial services," said Peter Kadzik, principal deputy assistant attorney general, in a letter ahead of the Senate hearing. "Like any financial service, virtual currency system[s] of either type can be exploited by malicious actors, but centralized and decentralized online payment systems can vary significantly in the types and degrees of illicit financial risk they pose."
An interesting move by Apple, which has reportedly acquired PrimeSense, the motion sensing technology company that was behind the first Kinect sensor. PrimeSense helped Microsoft design the original Kinect, and has reportedly been scooped up by Apple for a nice $345 million over the weekend.
PrimeSense told TheNextWeb, that it refers to the report as a "recycled rumor," adding that it "does not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing." Apple is reportedly after the motion sensing tech for its Apple TV, but I think we might see it gel between its TV set, and maybe a new form of touchscreen tech. Apple might not push touchscreens onto its MacBook line of products, but a motion sensing tech? Possibly.
Well, the small number of PS4s that are experiencing issues could be the result of interns at the Foxconn manufacturing plant in Yantai, China, sabotaging it. Yes, sabotage!
The news broke on the IGN forums, but the forum was eventually locked. This particular manufacturing plant has hit the news headlines before, from the mistreatment of staff, and more. The intern notes that because Foxconn didn't treat them well, they sabotage the manufacturing of the PS4. The intern said: "The ps4 console we assemble can be turned on at best."
This would explain some of the issues some owners are experiencing, but if this is true, those interns are going to be in quite a lot of trouble with Foxconn.
HTC continues to hit road bumps, but the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer is hoping to swing things around, as it looks into its global public relation efforts.
The news is coming from a report by the Advertising Age, who says that HTC is looking into some of the world's largest PR firms, including Waggener Edstrom, and more. The company is looking to better position itself in the market in the mindset of its customers. This should be big news, considering the company saw its head of global public relations retire.
Once its head of global PR retired, HTC's chief marketing officer filled his shoes, which is where we saw the Robert Downey Jr.-starring ads begin to roll out. It should be interesting to see where this leads the company, and whether it will help stem the losses it has posted lately.
Just how many people play Candy Crush? Over 500 million... yes, half a billion people are playing Candy Crush, a mind-blowing number. Then we have an upcoming IPO that will reportedly hit soon from developer King.
With those 500 million users, how many games of Candy Crush have been played? A massive 150 billion individual games to date - just mammoth numbers. King sees over 1 billion gameplays daily, which is gigantic for a game that has been out for a year - and because of this - King is celebrating Candy Crush's first birthday.
Rewind back to February, and King was seeing 9 billion gameplays per month across all of its titles, including games like Bubble Witch Saga and Pet Rescue. So putting things into perspective, King has moved from 9 billion gameplays per month across all its titles, to 1 billion gameplays daily of Candy Crush alone.
It was only a few days ago that we reported that Snapchat refused a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook, but now unnamed sources of Valleywag have said that Google offered the company $4 billion, which it also turned down.
The same sources say that Snapchat is going to wait until next year to raise funds, because it wants to increase the number of photos its users share each day to more than the number of photos shared through Facebook each day. If this does happen, the valuation will be exponentially more, which will make the current $3 and $4 billion offers feel like nothing. If it were me, I'd be happy with $4 billion...