Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Social-networking company's stock will be added to stock market's collection of largest companies on December 12.

Facebook's stock might be getting another boost soon, thanks to Nasdaq.
The social-networking company is set to replace Infosys on the Nasdaq 100, the collection of the largest 100 nonfinancial companies trading on the stock exchange. The company will be added to the index on December 12, according to CNBC, roughly seven months after its difficult IPO.
In addition to being an apparent nod toward the company's growing influence in the tech community, the move is also expected to lead to a stock price uptick as index fund managers snap up the stock to ensure that their fund reflects the makeup of the Nasdaq 100.A Facebook representative declined to comment on the move.
After going public in May at $38 a share, the company's stock was stuck on a largely downward trajectory, trading below $18 in early September. Since early November, the shares have experienced revived interest from investors, closing today up 42 cents at $27.46.
The stock got a boost in late October when the company reported that third-quarter earnings had come in slightly above Wall Street's estimates and that 14 percent of its ad revenue was now coming from mobile devices.

As supply chain issues come under control and unlocked models of the device are available, the tech giant lets customers buy more than just two iPhone 5 smartphones at a time.

The "limit two per customer" rule became conspicuously absent from the iPhone 5 order form on Apple's Web store today.
It seems that supply has finally met up with demand and the tech giant is letting people order the device willy-nilly.
Not only has the two-per-customer limit been removed, but the 10-phone per lifetime limit has also been lifted, according to MacRumors. Now, MacRumors reports, customers are limited to ten devices for each transaction and no lifetime limit.
Apple started selling unlocked iPhone 5 smartphones last week, which frees users from being tethered to a network. Users can instead insert a nano-SIM card from any supported carrier into the smartphone and it will be ready for use anywhere around the world.It's likely that many of the customers who will be buying the iPhone 5 in bulk are resellers who ship the device overseas where it isn't yet offered. However, it's looking like Apple is getting a grip on that market too. The company announced yesterday that the iPhone 5 would be available in South Korea on Friday and more than 50 additional countrieswill be getting the smartphone later this month.
Apple has been struggling with supply chain issues since the iPhone 5 first launched in September. It seems that it's now finally under control. As of today, ship times in the U.S. have gone from nearly a month-long delay toonly a two-to-four day wait time.
 Apple for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.
Buyout of five-person company appears to be geared toward beefing up the Web pioneer's engineering ranks rather than getting a hold of the startup's technology.

Continuing CEO Marissa Mayer's march toward all things mobile, Yahoo has acquired tiny mobile video-chat startup OnTheAir.
Yahoo snapped up the San Francisco-based startup today, the five-employee companyannounced on its Web site. Yahoo confirmed the acquisition, its second since Mayer took over as chief executive this past July.
"When we first met with the team at Yahoo, it was clear that everybody there is committed to making mobile products the backbone for the world's daily habits," the company wrote.
The mobile market is growing rapidly, and Mayer has said the space is integral to Yahoo's future growth.Our top priority is a focused, coherent mobile strategy," she said during a quarterly earnings conference call, adding that one-half of the company's technical work force will one day be working on mobile.
Neither company revealed the financial terms for the acquisition of OnTheAir, which lets users conduct video chats in talk show format. Yahoo also did not say whether it would discontinue the service, as it did withStamped, a recommendations engine built by former Google colleagues of Mayer that Yahoo acquired in October.
Like its "acqu-hire" of Stamped, this acquisition appears to be geared more toward snagging engineering talent than technology. In addition to one former Google employee, OnTheAir's team includes former employees of Apple and instant messaging service Meebo.
"Hiring the most talented mobile product thinkers and engineers is a big priority for us moving forward," Adam Cahan, Yahoo's senior vice president of emerging products and technology, said in a statement.

Apple's iTunes and iCloud chief has sold off a healthy chunk of stock, but he's still got plenty of shares tucked away.
Eddy Cue, Apple's iCloud and music chief at Apple's iPhone 5 event earlier this year.
Apple's iTunes, iCloud, and Maps chief, Eddy Cue, let go of a portion of company stock last Friday, a new filing shows.
According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this afternoon, Cue sold off 15,000 shares last week, worth just under $584 apiece on average.
The total sale was worth just less than $8.76 million.
Cue was promoted to senior vice president last September, a month after Tim Cook took the helm as CEO. As part of the promotion Cue oversaw iTunes, iCloud, iAd, and Apple's iBookstore. With an executive shuffle in November, Cue was also given responsibility of Apple's Siri voice assistant product, as well as its homegrown mapping service as part of an "online services" group.
Before making too much out of last week's sale, consider that Cue was given a hearty bonus of 100,000 restricted stock units last November, designed to keep him and others there for the long haul. The first bunch of those shares vests on September 21, 2014, reliant on Cue continuing to work at Apple.
Cue's sell-off comes a day after a sale of 35,000 shares by fellow Apple SVP Bob Mansfield, who pulled in around $20 million from the sale.

Microsoft's first PC product is expected to see sales of more than 1 million units in the fourth quarter
Microsoft Surface RT tablet.

Microsoft's Surface RT tablet is expected to see sales of more than a million units in the fourth quarter, IHS iSuppli told CNET today.
"We see estimated sales of 1.3 million" in the quarter, Rhoda Alexander, an analyst at IHS iSuppli, said in a phone interview today. The fourth quarter still has a few weeks left.
"I would be surprised to see it much above that," she added as a qualifier.
The Surface RT version of Microsoft's tablet first went on sale October 26, well into the fourth quarter, so sales of over a million would have occurred in roughly two months.
By comparison, Google's Nexus 7 tablet, which went on sale in June, started at a pace of about 500,000 units a month and is now selling at close to 1 million per month. The Nexus 7 has an entry-level price of $199, whereas the Surface RT tablet -- which runs a limited version ofWindows 8 -- starts at $499.
Market-leading Apple sold 14 million iPads in the third quarter.
But other analyst estimates that came out today for Surface RT sales put the number below 1 million.
A Boston-based brokerage firm, Detwiler Fenton, claimed in a research note today that Microsoft is likely to sell less than a million units in the December quarter.Initial Surface RT orders that came to Asia suppliers a month back "were really aggressive," Alexander said, but those numbers weren't "borne out."
Ballpark estimates for those initial numbers were recently brought up in an Asia-basedreport, which cited much higher numbers than iSuppli is seeing now.
The Surface RT tablet has a relatively restricted sales channel via physical stores. It is sold only through 31 Microsoft stores and 34 smaller holiday specialty stores.
It is also available through Microsoft's online store in eight markets including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.
Microsoft has not disclosed sales figures for the Surface RT tablet. A company representative declined comment.

Do you enjoy Netflix at home? Chances are good you're watching the streaming video service through a PlayStation 3.

Three years after Sony introduced Netflix for the PlayStation 3, the two companies jointly announced today that the gaming system stands as the most popular option for delivering the service to the living room.
"PS3 is our largest TV-connected platform in terms of Netflix viewing, and this year, at times, even surpassed the PC in hours of Netflix enjoyment to become our number one platform overall," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said. "PS3 is a natural fit for Netflix in terms of developing and first deploying our most advanced features. We can transparently update our application with new features on a daily basis."Netflix often uses the PlayStation 3 as a test bed for advanced features. In the past, the PS3 was the first gaming console to deliver 1080p video with 5.1-channel Dolby Digital Plus surround sound from Netflix, as well as other features including post play, second screen controls, and subtitles. To this day, the PS3 provides next-generation Netflix options, such as the recent addition of a voice assistant (Max) that asks the user a series of questions to assist with the selection process.
The shift in favored devices comes a year and a half after Nielsen Research announced thatcomputers and the Nintendo Wii held the top spot as a Netflix streaming device at home. According to Nielsen's 2011 research, more than 42 percent of those surveyed used a computer, 25 percent streamed through a Wii, and only 13 percent utilized a PS3 to view the service during that period. Things can sure change in a year.

The funds go to will go to philanthropic organizations tackling big global programs using novel applications of technology.Scott Harrison, CEO of charity: water, onstage today at LeWeb 2012.Google today announced a new charitable grant program designed to help solve big problems using technology.
Today the company announced its first round of Global Impact Awards, granting $23 million to seven organizations it says are changing the world.
"Technology has dramatically improved our lives -- from the speed at which we get things done to how we connect with others," said Jacqueline Fuller, director of giving at Google, in a blog post. "Yet innovations in medicine, business and communications have far outpaced tech-enabled advances in the nonprofit sector."
The awards attempt to change that. The beneficiaries are:
  • charity: water. The organization that promotes access to clean water got $5 million to install remote sensors at 4,000 water points across Africa, monitoring and recording water flows to improve access for more than 1 million people. 
  •  Consortium for the Barcode of Life. The organization received $3 million to create an easier way to identify and protect endangered wildlife as traders attempt to smuggle it into other countries.
  • Received $5 million to create 500 new AP science and math courses. 
  • Equal Opportunity Schools: Received $1.8 million to identify 6,000 high-performing low-income students and move them into advanced courses. 
  • GiveDirectly: Received $2.4 million to build its organization, which enables direct cash transfers to the poor via their cellphones. 
Google this year made $100 million in total grants to nonprofits, donating $1 billion in technology and 50,000 hours of employee volunteering, the company said.

Disney said today that it has signed an exclusive film distribution deal with Netflix starting in 2016.

Netflix is finally getting access to movies directly from a top Hollywood studio. Here are some frequently asked questions to help understand what the deal means.

Netflix will become the only U.S. subscription TV service to offer films from Pixar, Marvel, Walt Disney Animation and Disneynature. Wall Street seemed overjoyed by the news. Netflix shares rose 14 percent following the announcement.
To help readers better understand the deal, CNET has put together this FAQ.
Why is this agreement special? 
It's the first time that Netflix has acquired access to relatively newer movies from one of Hollywood's top six film studios. Netflix has plenty of titles produced by the major studios, but they're decades old. In three years, Netflix's streaming service will offer access to movies from Disney right after they're made available for sale and rental. This is a period when Hollywood typically makes new releases available to pay-TV services, such as Starz, Epix, and HBO.
In this case, however, Netflix has exclusive access to Disney's movies during the so-called pay-TV window.
Why does Netflix have to wait three years for Disney's films?
Many of the titles are currently locked up in a licensing agreement with Starz, but that deal runs out in 2016 and Netflix outbid Starz for the future rights.
Doesn't Netflix already offer some Disney content and hasn't Netflix offered Disney films in the past?
Yes to both questions. Netflix has licensing agreements for television shows from ABC and other Disney properties. As for movies, Netflix obtained Internet rights from Starz in 2008 to hundreds of movies from Disney and Sony Pictures. Netflix's contract with Starz expired earlier this year and the titles were pulled from Netflix.What did Netflix pay Disney for this latest agreement? 
Financial terms weren't disclosed but, The Los Angeles Times, citing an anonymous source, reported that the agreement is for three years and that Netflix could "ultimately pay more than $300 million annually."
Break it down for me: who are the winners and who are the losers?
Netflix users are winners, at least three years from now when the deal kicks in. One of the biggest gripes from Netflix subscribers is that the streaming service lacks enough newer titles. Netflix's leadership is showing that it will pay big to improve the selection.
But Netflix investors may be the losers if the company over paid or if it turns out that managers there could have acquired many of the same Disney titles -- in addition to those from Sony Pictures -- for the same amount that they paid for just Disney's fare.
Didn't Netflix CEO Reed Hastings say last year, after Netflix lost the Starz deal, that Disney and Sony's movies weren't that popular with his subscribers?
Right again. Today, Netflix called Disney's movies "the highest-quality, most imaginative family films being made today." In October 2011, after Starz announced that the deal with Netflix would not be renewed, Hastings downplayed the impact that the loss of titles from Disney and Sony Pictures would have on his streaming service.
He said the content acquired from Starz accounted for only about 10 percent of the service's total viewing hours. In a letter to investors, Hastings wrote: "Netflix has about 10 times the streaming content selection of ...Starz in terms of what consumers actually choose to watch."
Looking to hone its advertising savvy, the Web giant acquires a startup with know-how on online ad targeting and retargeting.

AOL upped its advertising cache today by announcing that it bought Buysight, an ad company that focuses on retargeted and intent-based targeted advertising.
Buysight will be folded into AOL's Group. This group works on ad technology for desktop, mobile, tablets, and Internet connected televisions.
"We strongly believe that both brand and performance display, as well as mobile and video campaigns benefit from dynamic, targeted creatives and messaging," Group CEO Ned Brody said in a statement. "The acquisition of Buysight brings proven Dynamic Creative Optimization and machine learning capabilities which will further enhance AdLearn, our market-leading optimization engine."Buysight was founded four years ago in Sunnyvale, Calif. The goal of the company was to use online data and make tailored ads that would drive consumers to buy retail items. Buysight would do this by retargeting previous site visitors and targeting new shoppers that fit into the company's data profiles for various products.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Petition posted to the White House's We The People platform advocates construction of the universe's ultimate weapon as a way to boost the economy.

In the off-chance that during their deep-space explorations, the Voyager spacecrafts encounter an Alderaan-like planet that the U.S. government deems ripe for destruction, a petition has been created that advocates the construction of a Death Star.
With the U.S. approaching the "fiscal cliff," backers suggest that creation of the universe's ultimate weapon might give the economy a much-needed boost, according to the petition hosted on the White House's We The People platform.
 By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.
The petition offers no estimates on how much it will cost or how long it will take to construct a moon-size military battlestation armed with a planet-destroying superlaser, but the backers hope to begin construction by 2016. (A study earlier this year by economics students at Lehigh University estimated that construction would require more than a quadrillion tons of steel, which would take roughly 800,000 years to manufacture.)
But backers are going to need more than The Force to get this one off the ground. The petition, which was launched November 14, has 10 days left to achieve its goal of attracting 25,000 signatures; as of this writing, it has a little more than 2,500 signatures, only about 10 percent of its target.
Also, they will have to persuade the emperor -- err, the president -- that there is another peaceful planet without weapons out there somewhere that is in need of destruction. Come to think of it, maybe it's time to ramp up funding for SETI efforts as well.

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited serves up kids books, games, apps, movies and TV shows to Prime members for $2.99 a month -- or $6.99 per Family.

In a bold experiment to differentiate its tablets from the competition, Amazon has launched a new service called Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, which is geared towards 3-8 year-olds and allows kids to access a wide assortment of books, games, apps, and video content after parents ante up a monthly fee.
Amazon is initially offering FreeTime Unlimited, which costs Prime members $2.99 per month per child -- or $6.99 per family -- on the Kindle Fire (2012), Kindle Fire HD, and Kindle Fire Fire HD 8.9. If you're not a Prime member, the monthly fee jumps to $4.99 and $10.99 respectively.
The name of the service is a bit oblique. FreeTime is a parental-control feature on the latest Kindle tablets that allows parents to manage how much time their children spend on Kindle tablets and what content they interact with (you can opt to turn off the Web browser, for instance). With the "Unlimited" version Amazon is offering up access to "thousands of popular kids titles" on an all-you-can-eat basis.
Looking at it another way, the service is similar to what Amazon is serving up to Prime members in terms of free video streaming of select videos and once-a-month borrowing of titles from the company's Kindle Lending Library -- but FreeTime Unlimited extends into the realm of apps and games and has no restrictions on how many books kids can read per month.
Earlier today I got a short demo of the service in New York and the amount of content available seemed pretty impressive. Amazon lists Andrews McMeel Publishing, Chronicle Books, DC Comics, Disney, HIT Entertainment, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Marvel, Nickelodeon, PBS and Sesame Workshop among its launch partners.
Peter Larsen, Vice President, Amazon Kindle, said that Amazon would add content "practically daily" after the service launched. A free over-the-air software update will get pushed out in the coming weeks that includes the new service, but Amazon didn't commit to a specific day for its roll out.
Larsen highlighted that apps would have all in-app payments, advertisements and social media removed. He also said that not only would videos be available for streaming, but they could be downloaded for on-the-go-use as well, when a WiFi connection wasn't available. It's unclear what, if any videos, are already available for free streaming to Prime members.

Larsen noted that file sizes for videos could be pretty large, so parents would have to manage just how much video content they would store on a device at one time (movies can be deleted then downloaded again later).
Barnes and Noble is also touting its new multi-profile creation option on its Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets, so various family members can share a single device and create personal libraries of content. The feature works well, so it's not surprising Amazon is bulking up with personalization options, including a "Characters" tab in FreeTime that allows kids to search for content based on their favorite characters.
As for Amazon launching a premium subscription service for adult-oriented content, Larsen said nothing was in the works but anything was possible.
"We want to see how this goes," he said. "But we think it's a compelling offering for very affordable price."
Alas, Kindle FreeTime Unlimited won't be available to owners of the original Kindle Fire (2011), but Larsen didn't rule it out coming to that device in the future. Owners of the latest Kindle tablets will get a chance to sample the new service for free for a month -- and we'll take a closer look at it as soon as it hits devices.
In the meantime, you can get more info about Kindle FreeTime Unlimited here.
Touch-screen WIndows 8 PCs are in demand. In fact, PC makers can't get enough supply of some models.
HP Envy x2 11.6-inch tablet-laptop 'convertible.'

Demand for Windows 8 touch-screen PCs is strong, according to two analysts who spoke with CNET.
"Touch machines are actually selling above expectations," said Bob O'Donnell, a program vice president at IDC.
And that means supply shortages. "Some vendors are actually facing shortages because touch panels are in limited supply. Vendors are saying they can't get as many touch-based machines as they would like to meet the demand that they're seeing."
Rhoda Alexander, an analyst at IHS iSuppli, echoed O'Donnell's comments. "We've talked to a number of PC makers that are having trouble obtaining touch panels and some of the vendors I've talked to said they can't keep them on the shelf," she said.
And Microsoft has said as much. Tami Reller, chief marketing and financial officer for Windows,said last week that there are "not enough" touch devices on store shelves.Touch PCs include standard clamshell laptops with touch screens, hybrid laptop-tablets, and stand-alone tablets. Generally, touch-screen PCs are more expensive than standard non-touch laptops.
Microsoft's online store lists a number of tablets and hybrids (so-called convertibles) for sale, including the $499 Acer Iconia W510, $799 Asus VivoTab, and $849 HP Envy x2.
Touch-screen laptops include the $699 Asus VivoBook, $1,299 Acer Aspire S7, $899 Sony Vaio T13, and $1,349 HP Spectre XT TouchSmart.
IDC's O'Donnell added, however, that non-touch Windows 8 PCs are not doing so well. "The non-touch machines are selling below expectations," he said. "If high-end machines are selling better than expected. Great. But that doesn't make up for low-end volume machines."
The Acer Aspire S7 touch-screen laptop has been in demand at Microsoft stores.
Microsoft could be readying the next Xbox for this time next year, 3D printing comes to Staples, and we say goodbye to Nintendo Power.

Microsoft might have a new Xbox for the 2013 holiday season.

new report from Bloomberg suggests that Microsoft might be readying the successor to the Xbox 360 for the 2013 holiday season. We here at CNET have been speculating the company might do the big unveiling at E3 2013 next summer and then set up a release shortly after. Some of the rumored features of the next Xbox -- aside from an obvious bump in performance -- are a Blu-ray drive and a more precise version of Kinect.
Industry site has discovered some information about the iPhone 5's LTE functionality. Apparently, Apple will not permit LTE to work in the phone until the carrier it resides on is properly vetted. Meaning Apple could essentially prevent the phone from using LTE if the company isn't satisfied with a specific network's performance.
3D printing is coming to a Staples store near you -- if you live in Europe. Beginning next year, select stores in the Netherlands and Belgium will offer customers access to the Iris 3D printer, which uses tightly stacked paper and glue to generate high-resolution 3D color models. Orders can be placed at home and be picked up in store or shipped out. No word yet on pricing or whether or not this will be coming stateside.
Video game publisher THQ may have just debuted the most impressive PC game bundle ever. Best of all, you name the price and some of the money will go to charity. That's right, the THQ Humble Bundle packs in seven games including Saints Row: The Third, Darksiders, Metro 2033, and three Company of Heroes titles. Gamers can direct their donation to either Child's Play or the American Red Cross. It's one thing to get a great bundle of games, but to help out people in need is an incentive everyone can get behind.
Redbox Instant, which is Verizon's attempt to compete with Netflix, might be launching as early as December. Membership costs may go as low as $6 a month with the option to upgrade so that customers can receive DVD rental credits. CNET is waiting for confirmation on this leaked information, but it looks like the service is almost ready to go.
Finally, we're saying goodbye to Nintendo Power this week, which will publish its final issue after an impressive 25-year run. The final cover nearly matches the first-ever cover, featuring a Claymation-style Mario, free poster ad, and similar coloring and styling. People who grew up with an NES has a special place in their hearts for Nintendo Power, it's sad to see you go!
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The video streaming and DVD rental service aiming to compete with Netflix won't be commercially available until next year, however its public beta should be ready within the next month.

It looks like the rumor mill was a little off this time -- Verizon's Redbox Instant won't be launching this month, as was previously speculated but rather in 2013. However, its public beta should be good to go within the next few weeks.
Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam announced today at an investor conference that after public beta testing the commercial launch of the video streaming and DVD rental service should kick off either at the end of 2013's first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter, according to The Hollywood Reporter."We are in the process of internal employee beta testing right now and we are very pleased with the progress," McAdam said at the conference. "I think later this month into the first part of January, we will open it up to customers but in a beta sort of format so that we can shake out any kinks that are left in the process."
Redbox Instant is a joint venture that wasannounced in February between Verizon and Coinstar -- the company that owns the Redbox DVD rental business. The companies have worked on developing an on-demand video streaming service with DVD rentals, much like what Netflix offers. They had originally expected to introduce the new service in the second half of 2012.
Eric Schmidt describes uneven ties between the smartphone rivals and registers surprise at recent Apple decisions governing their relationship.News

Hard to believe that at one time in the not-very-distant past, Apple's board of directors included one Eric Schmidt, at the time the chief executive of Google.Of course, Schmidt's stint as a board member came to an end in 2009 as Google began to more directly compete against Apple. The ensuing war of words between the companies shows little ebb, and in an interview with The Wall Street Journal today, Schmidt, now Google's executive chairman, used the occasion to gob-smack Apple around just a bit, contrasting the way the two companies manage their business decisions.
Alluding to the "on and off" relationship between Apple and Google in the last year, Schmidt expressed surprise at Apple's decision to stop using Google's map app in iOS6, a decision that led to much embarrassment in September after users reported getting wrong location results from Apple's replacement app. Apple subsequently apologized to users.
 Obviously, we would have preferred them to use our maps. They threw YouTube off the home screen [of iPhones and iPads]. I'm not quite sure why they did that. The press would like to write the sort of teenage model of competition, which is, 'I have a gun, you have a gun, who shoots first?'
The adult way to run a business is to run it more like a country. They have disputes, yet they've actually been able to have huge trade with each other. They're not sending bombs at each other. I think both Tim [Cook, Apple's CEO] and Larry [Page, Google's CEO], the sort of successors to Steve [Jobs] and me if you will, have an understanding of this state model. When they and their teams meet, they have just a long list of things to talk about.
Asked whether Apple and Google are discussing a patent-related settlement, Schmidt avoided answering the question but hinted that the companies might be talking, albeit remain far apart.
 Apple and Google are well aware of the legal strategies of each other. Part of the conversations that are going on all the time is to talk about them. It's extremely curious that Apple has chosen to sue Google's partners and not Google itself.
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