Besides being terrible, nobody benefits besides Sony from The Interview
To much fanfare, and terrible reviews, Sony Pictures finally released The Interview -- a contentious, and some say trite, light comedy vehicle where a pair of bumbling reporters are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Conventional media, and governmental figures, have put this forth as a victory for the US' right to freedom of expression, and a defiant Sony agrees. However, viewing the picture isn't the act of defiance and patriotism that Sony wants you to think it is - in fact, viewers are now supporting a company that has called for censorship of journalists and US citizens alike, in the interest of corporate secrets.
Last same-day delivery by Amazon before Christmas 3 cases of energy drink
In a release today, Amazon claims that the company's 20th holiday season has brought "record growth" to the Amazon Prime subscription service, despite a price hike to $100 per year earlier in 2014. Amazon reports that more than 10 million new members worldwide tried Prime for the first time, with nearly 60 percent of customers shopping on a mobile device.
Kim Dotcom bribe halted attacks on gaming company servers
Over Christmas Eve and well into Christmas Day, gaming services Xbox Live and the Playstation Network were under assault from the Lizard Squad group. The attack rendered the services mostly useless, with an assortment of problems from inability to connect, and culminating in the login services for both not accepting connections. The assault only ended with Internet personality Kim Dotcom offering the members of the group lifetime memberships to his new file locker Mega Privacy.
Google, Sony, Microsoft all hosting the movie for purchase or rent
Sony and others have unveiled a massive effort to make the Sony Pictures title The Interview available online. Google's YouTube Movies paid service paved the way with its announcement a bit earlier today, with Google Play, Xbox Videos, and a special Sony website all having declared that the movie would be available at 1PM Eastern Time. The picture will cost $6 to rent, and $15 to own in HD.
Flagship Westfield Stratford location closed, slow sales and costs to blame
One of the ten Samsung Experience stores run by Carphone Warehouse has closed. London's location, in the Westfield Stratford City mall has shuttered with little warning to customers or employees. Today, a sign posted on the entry of the store directs shoppers to a Samsung support center in the nearby Surrey Quays shopping district, or a similar Experience store.
South Korea latest market to object to Uber business practices
South Korea has become the latest country to fight against the rise of ride-hailing service Uber, by indicting the local subsidiary and CEO Travis Kalanick shortly after launch. The company is said to be "violating a law prohibiting individuals or firms without appropriate licenses from providing or facilitating transport services," a legal challenge previously arising in a number of other markets around the world.
'We're not even close to where we need to be,' President says
Last Friday, at President Barak Obama's year-end press conference, Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico asked the first question. Her inquiry was whether Sony had done the right thing in canceling the release of the Seth Rogan comedy The Interview, and what a "proportional" US response to the North Korean-led cyber-attack on Sony would look like. While discussing the answers to those questions, President Obama called on Congress to help create stronger cyber-security laws.
No exploits were utilized in the hacking of the bank's network
Back in July, five bank networks were hacked, the most notable of which was JP Morgan Chase, which resulted in more than 76 million households' information being leaked. At first, it was suspected that a "zero-day" exploit had been utilized to gain access, but an unidentified source has indicated the real story is somewhat more mundane.
Apple modifies language on official roster
Several app and retail partners for Apple Pay will likely miss an initial 2014 deadline, a change on Apple's website suggests. The company has tweaked the headers for its lists of upcoming partners to read "Coming soon" instead of "Coming later this year." The retail businesses include ACME, Albertsons, Anthropologie, Free People, Urban Outfitters, and Walt Disney World; the last is mentioned only because it's slated to launch support tomorrow.
New LPDDR4 modules will be used for 4GB RAM modules for smartphones next year
Samsung is paving the way for smartphones to have higher capacities of RAM, by starting the mass production of 8-gigabit low-power DDR4 (LPDDR4) mobile DRAM. Originally hinted at by the manufacturer this time last year, the new mobile DRAM production is being used for the creation of mobile DRAM modules of up to 4GB in capacity.
Links worth to stock performance
Apple's Tim Cook has been chosen as CNN Money's CEO of the Year for 2014. The site explains this is because "Apple is the apple of Wall Street's eye again;" the company's shares are noted to be up 40 percent this year, and close to an all-time peak. CNN in turn links that stock performance to the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and "excitement" about the Apple Watch, due to ship early next year.
Will collect royalties from parties such as Cisco and Google
(Updated with correct purchase price, lawsuit settlements) A subsidiary of San Francisco-based RPX Corporation, RPX Clearinghouse, is buying patent assets held by the Apple-led Rockstar Consortium, according to an announcement. Rockstar was formed by Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony in 2011 in order to buy some 6,000 patents in the wake of Nortel's bankruptcy. Although roughly 2,000 of the patents have already been separately distributed, RPX has entered into a deal in which it will receive license payments from a syndicate of over 30 companies, such as Cisco and Google. "The RPX Clearinghouse syndicate includes a broad range of software and media providers, semi-conductor manufacturers, wireless carriers and wireline network operators, Multiple System Operators (MSOs), and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)," the announcement reads.
A very merry un-holiday to you from CEO Legere, who only curses a little bit
Earlier today, T-Mobile CEO John Legere -- with typical modesty and reserve -- tweeted that he would be using his "soothing voice" to tell the best holiday story of all time. The tweet linked to a video on T-Mobile's YouTube channel -- in which a pipe-sporting Legere, bedecked in a maroon smoking jacket and pink Batman shirt, sits in a big wing-back chair and reads from an oversized story book in front of a roaring fire, with almost none of his characteristic frank language, but still offering a big bag of coal for his competitors.
Needs more time to review and approve, but 'pleading cycle' remains unaffected
In spite of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts' assertions earlier this month that the merger with Time Warner Cable (TWC) is going along smoothly, the FCC has paused the informal 180-day clock on its investigation into the merger, due to a total of roughly 38,000 documents submitted by TWC beyond its deadline, and after the FCC had believed it was finished with that part of its investigation into the merger.
Claims strict training, safety measures
Apple supplier Pegatron has issued a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange, promising to investigate and fix labor abuses uncovered through a recently-aired BBC documentary. The company states that worker safety is its top priority, and that it runs strict training for both regular workers and management. It also notes the use of external inspectors in audits -- presumably referring to the teams used by Apple -- and says that it offers many ways for workers to submit feedback. During 2014, the company has allegedly resolved 94 percent of complaints within three days.
One of Apple's first announced partners arrives late
Walt Disney World in Florida will start accepting Apple Pay at bars, kiosks, stores, and other locations beginning on December 24, Disney has announced. The move comes as a part of the company's MyMagic+ program, which is supporting more wireless payment options -- such as Google Wallet and special credit cards -- as NFC and RFID infrastructure expands. While a wide variety of outlets will support Apple Pay, places that use portable payment terminals (such as table service restaurants) will have to wait.
Discussions over licensing fees stall, Fox News, Fox Business dropped from Dish
A stand-off between Dish Network and 21st Century Fox has led to two channels being dropped from Dish customers' program guides. Fox News and Fox Business are no longer being offered for viewing by the satellite TV broadcaster, with the two companies apparently failing to agree on the terms of a new distribution contract.
Debenture payoff forces loss for the quarter, CEO promises profit in FY 2016
Cellphone manufacturer BlackBerry has published its most recent quarterly results. While the company is trumpeting a return to profitability, it still incurred a fair value debenture charge, forcing the company to post a $148 million loss on the quarter, or $0.28 per share. Without the debenture, it would have posted a modest profit of $2 million. While it appears that the cost-cutting measures are starting to pay off, given the improvement in the loss numbers, the company showed a 34 percent drop in revenue over the year-ago-quarter, suggesting that the road ahead for the company is still challenging.
Judge concerned for class members' rights, kills deal approved by counsel
A US district judge in San Francisco has outright rejected HP's settlement offer to settle the Autonomy acquisition class action suit in the US. Saying that "the shareholders appear to be relinquishing a whole universe of potential claims regarding HP governance and practices," Judge Charles Breyer has kicked the settlement back to the plaintiffs without suggestions for recovery. The matter is now likely to head to trial sometime in the summer of 2015.
Jim Hood claims MPAA has no sway, despite taking MPAA funds
Google has launched its own legal effort to stop Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood's effort with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to pin the search engine as the cause of the world's piracy problem. Google claims in the court filing in Mississippi's district court that Hood has filed a "burdensome, retaliatory" subpoena against it, which would require a massive financial and labor effort to comply, for no real gain other than extra-judiciary punishment. Hood has responded, and is "calling a time out, so that cooler heads may prevail."
Latest developments in the ongoing Sony Pictures hack investigation
North Korea has verbally fired back at allegations that it is behind the Sony Pictures attack. Calling the recent FBI statement identifying the country as the culprit "groundless slander," the country is demanding a joint investigation into the hack, with the country's experts and US law enforcement working side-by-side. If the US should refuse, North Korea's foreign ministry promised "grave consequences," presumably to US interests. The government of North Korea continues to deny that they hack, which has caused an estimated $100 million of damage to Sony Pictures, not including less tangible problems, can on the country.
Whole Foods, McDonald's, Walgreens seeing biggest jump in usage
A study by research firm ITG suggest that Apple Pay -- introduced in October -- is already accounting for one percent of all digital payments - for comparison purposes, the three-plus-year-old Google Wallet system holds about four percent of digital payments. The firm also noted that those using Apple Pay increased spending using mobile payments, and tended to use the technology frequently -- resulting in a jump in sales at top merchants that accepted Apple Pay, such as Walgreens, Whole Foods and McDonald's.
Williams tells Apple staff that company is improving labor conditions
In a new email memo to the company's UK workforce, Apple's Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams claims that he and CEO Tim Cook were "deeply offended" by a BBC Panorama documentary exposing labor abuses in the company's supply chain. Specifically, Williams and Cook are said to have been "deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain, or mislead our customers in any way;" Williams charges that "Panorama's report implied that Apple isn't improving working conditions. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth."
Portland creates task force to hammer out private for-hire regulatory framework
Uber is putting a stop to its app-based taxi service in Portland, just two weeks after it launched. The Wall Street Journal reports the company made an agreement with the city to put a hold on the service for a three-month period, while the two parties negotiate and create a regulatory framework that allows ridesharing services to coexist with existing cab companies and other transportation options.
Six movie studios, including Sony, provided $500,000 per year for the MPAA's campaign against Google
In the past weeks, quite a lot has been revealed about Sony's role in ongoing anti-piracy efforts due to the leak of emails as part of the fallout of the North Korean-based GOP attack on the studio. In a post on Thursday on the Google Public Policy Blog, Kent Walker, Google SVP and general counsel, outlined even more leaks that describe a combined and carefully planned effort by Sony and five other studios that began this year to provide funding and legal support for the MPAA's efforts to court State Attorney Generals and target Google directly.
Double-talk from industry supports notion that some regulation would benefit consumers
Since President Barack Obama voiced his support for reclassification of ISPs as utilities, there has been much debate back and forth, and back again on the topic of "Title II" regulation of carriers. Would it be the dystopian nightmare anti-government zealots and the carriers proclaim, or would it provide a golden utopia of progress for consumers and American businesses alike?
Judge concerned about 'speculative nature of the damages'
US District Judge Beth L. Freeman ruled on Thursday that she requires the plaintiffs, Gary Feitelson and Daniel McKee, in a lawsuit against Google to submit more details. The two consumers allege that Android-based smartphone prices are being negatively impacted because manufacturers must agree to pre-load apps like the Google search app by default, instead of making deals with, for instance, Bing. The judge has said she would most likely dismiss the lawsuit as it stands, but is giving the plaintiffs a chance to revise it with additional evidence.
Broad proposal gains specifics; Internet penetration in Cuba about five percent
In a fact sheet released on Wednesday, the White House has outlined some of the ways normalization of relations with Cuba will impact trade and travel. The document covers not only how many cigars Americans can bring home with them from trips to the island nation, but encouraged telecommunications companies to improve the Cuban people's connection to the rest of the world.
Lenovo smartphones using Intel processors, LTE radios said to be heading to China, emerging markets
Intel is rumored to be supplying processors for two Lenovo smartphones set to launch next year. A report Lenovo is aiming to announce two new smartphones in the first quarter, possibly at CES or Mobile World Congress, with Intel providing not only its 64-bit Atom processors for the mobile devices, but also LTE-Advanced cellular radios.
Ethics of Pegatron factories, Indonesian tin supply questioned
Ahead of the airing of a Panorama documentary on the subject, the BBC has published a web piece revealing the outcomes of its investigation into Apple's supply chain. The network went undercover, and charges that promises to protect the rights of workers were "routinely broken." In particular, the BBC found violations of standards for work hours, ID cards, dormitories, meetings, and underage labor at Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai.
Prime customers can pay for one-hour delivery, get two-hour deliveries free
After experimenting with same-day deliveries in a number of cities, Amazon is now increasing the speed of delivery for some customers with the launch of Prime Now. The new service, launching in Manhattan today, will let Prime subscribers place orders for thousands of essential items, and receive the delivery on their doorstep in an hour or less.
Investment pledge by UK carriers to avoid implementing national roaming proposal
A suggestion by the British government has prompted carriers to improve their mobile networks. EE, O2, Vodafone, and Three have all agreed to collectively invest at least £5 billion ($7.8 billion) into a program to improve their mobile networks across the United Kingdom, in order to avoid being forced to implement a proposed "National Roaming" scheme.
Review still under way, sparked by rape allegations and regulatory resistance
In response to the concerns of customers, legal troubles and bans in multiple markets around the world, rideshare/taxi service Uber has begun a study into ways to better screen drivers and improve overall safety. Phillip Cardenas, Uber's head of global safety, outlined the company's plans in a recent blog post today. Cardenas comes from Airbnb where he spearheaded the creation of that company's safety program.
Potential fine of up to $105 million by FCC the latest in a crackdown on 'cramming'
Mobile phone service provider Sprint could be facing a fine of as high as $105 million or other disciplinary actions from the FCC after a study by the agency concluded that the carrier was willfully participating in a practice called "cramming," in which users are often tricked into signing up for "premium" services (such as ringtones or special messages) from a third-party, which then adds monthly charges to the user's bill. Like AT&T and T-Mobile before it, Sprint has run afoul of authorities for taking a cut of these scams, and thus having an incentive to allow them to continue, despite customer complaints.
FBI, diplomats had previously denied direct North Korean involvement
US government officials now believe North Korea is, in fact, behind the attack of Sony Pictures Entertainment's computer system and subsequent data leaks, according to reports. The government is also said to be preparing to make an official statement about its findings, which may arrive as soon as tomorrow, though apparently there is still some internal debate as to what kind of response to make to the insular country. Previously, the FBI had said it had "no evidence" of a direct North Korean connection, though the country was suspected from the outset.
Offline caching a short term fix, claims Netflix executive
Netflix will not be allowing its users to cache television shows and movies from the streaming service for later playback, an executive has advised. In an interview, Director of Corporate Communications and Technology Cliff Edwards denied Netflix would offer offline storage of content, categorically stating "It's never going to happen."
Some material already in hands of Competition Bureau
The Federal Court of Canada has agreed to order Apple's Canadian division to turn over documents to the Competition Bureau, Reuters reports. Apple has already handed over some requested documents, but may not be handing over as much as the Bureau wants or needs. The Chief Justice for the court, Paul Crampton, is due to sign the order later today.
Federal judge rejects move to dismiss
This week Hartz Mountain, a maker of pet toys, requested a federal judge dismiss a lawsuit by Seattle artist Juli Adams regarding the sale of her intellectual property without her permission or knowledge. The case is notable because Adams' designs were the basis of the characters now universally known as "Angry Birds," a name originally suggested by Adams and since used widely by Rovio and Hartz to market both the video game sensation and ancillary merchandise. The judge has refused to dismiss the matter.
Overall smartphone market shows growth, but top two leaders lose share
According to new quarterly figures from industry analysts Gartner, enormous growth by Apple's iPhone has eroded worldwide mobile phone share -- including both smartphones and feature phones -- from top seller Samsung and second-place Nokia, with Apple potentially taking the second spot from Nokia after this quarter's expected record-breaking iPhone sales are announced. For the most recent quarter, Apple was within one percentage point of matching Nokia in a market seeing strong overall growth.
Decision reached in less than 24 hours
The jury for the iPod/iTunes DRM lawsuit has ruled that Apple didn't violate antitrust laws by blocking music from rival storefronts in iTunes software updates, Reuters reports. The verdict was rendered in less than a day, following closing arguments on Monday. Had the jury swung in favor of the plaintiffs, the company could have owed some $350 million in penalties.
Tech appears aimed directly at competing with Apple Pay
Samsung is in talks with a Massachusetts-based startup, LoopPay, with the hope of launching a mobile payment platform in 2015, sources say. Whether or not Samsung has reached a deal is uncertain, and indeed one source says that talks could still break down. A second source claims that a prototype version of the platform is already working on a Samsung phone.
Orlando Magic's Amway Center begins installing terminals
Apple has today issued a statement confirming the addition of 10 more banks to the list supporting Apple Pay. These include Associated Bank, BB&T, Black Hills FCU, Commerce Bank, Dupaco Community Credit Union, Idaho Central Credit Union, First Tennessee Bank, TD Bank North America, WesBanco, and UW Credit Union. Some of these, such as Commerce, TD, and UW were already quietly announced elsewhere, for instance through a list on Apple's website. The New York Times adds, however, that Amway Center in central Florida -- home to the NBA's Orlando Magic -- will be getting Apple Pay terminals as of Friday.
East coast-based chain adds personal, business debit and credit cards to Apple technology
TD Bank, the US-based subsidiary of Canada's similarly-named financial giant, will "soft launch" support for Apple Pay in the US starting today, in accordance with earlier reports. Customers can now add any TD Bank Visa-branded debit or credit cards to Passbook, and use them to make purchases at supporting merchants with an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. While customers will have to call their branch to verify some details, both consumer and business cards are now supported.
Ad giant has until February to make changes to its data-collection methods
Google doesn't properly inform users in regards to the extent of data collection and collation from all of Google's various products, a Dutch agency says about the search and advertising giant, and is threatening the company with a €15 million ($18.7 million US) fine if it doesn't change its notification to users of everything from its data collection methods to the fact that it owns YouTube by next February. The agency, known as the CBP, says Google's collation of user data is a violation of Dutch law.
Amazon, Google Play, and Apple listed among the former employers of ideal candidates
The Algorithms & Cloud Experiences Group of Bose Corporation has posted an opening this week with the company, seeking a Senior User Experience Designer to work on "Cloud Music Services." It's unclear if the company intended to announce its intention to create a streaming music service or potential music "cloud locker" through the posting, but the move represents another attempt by Bose to compete indirectly against Apple, and to a lesser extent other streaming services.
Apple will get a little less, other creditors more in revised agreement
The judge in the New Hampshire-based bankruptcy court overseeing the legal wrangle between Apple and its former sapphire production partner GT Advanced Technologies has signed off on a revised agreement between the two companies that is intended to stave off additional court proceedings that could tie up the matter for years, from creditors who were concerned that Apple was getting paid first. The new deal doesn't change the fundamental tenets of the agreement, but allows other creditors more funds from the first sales of GT Advance's furnaces.
BT enters acquisition exclusivity agreement with Deutsche Telekom, Orange
British Telecom has confirmed it is looking to acquire a carrier in the United Kingdom, with EE being their primary target. BT has entered into an "exclusivity agreement" with Deutsche Telekom and Orange to acquire EE in its entirety, which if completed will mean that BT will own a mobile phone network for the second time in its lifetime.
Claims Apple was taking on 'predatory pricing' by Amazon
At least one, and possibly two, of the three judges overseeing the appeal of the e-book antitrust verdict against Apple, have expressed strong doubt about the entire basis of the case against the iPhone maker - with Dennis Jacobs, was "openly hostile to the [US] government's case" on the first day of proceedings, says Agence France-Presse. Apple is accused of conspiring with book publishers to artificially inflate the costs of e-books, with a particular aim at undermining Amazon. Jacobs today argued, however that Apple was a "new entrant" into an established e-book world, "breaking the hold of a market by a monopolist who is maintaining its hold by what is arguably predatory pricing."
Carriers may have been discouraged from selling rival phones
More details have emerged on the Canadian Competition Bureau's investigation into Apple's carrier deals, Reuters reports. Most important may be the Bureau's specific goals, which are to learn if Apple has been discouraging carriers from offering discounts or other incentives for competing phones, or even offering those phones at all. "The contractual obligations [with the carriers] may therefore increase the price Canadian consumers have paid, are paying or will pay for handset devices and wireless services," reads an affidavit from Vincent Millette, the head of the Bureau's probe.
Airing Thursday in UK
At 9PM GMT on Thursday, BBC One will be airing a documentary on the working conditions in Apple's extended supply chain. The Panorama piece, titled Apple's Broken Promises, focuses initially on conditions at Chinese factories producing the iPhone 6. It also goes into detail on the sources of materials for Apple products, bringing cameras to an Indonesian tin mine where children are digging out materials by hand.