Test limited to Rogers, AR; no immediate plans for expansion
Wal-Mart is in the process of testing an iPhone checkout system. The technology allows shoppers to scan items using their iPhones and pay at a self-checkout counter, a procedure that could reduce checkout times and reduce associated labor costs. A Wal-Mart super center in Rogers, AR near the company's headquarters was selected for employees to participate in the test. Wal-Mart is hoping that the move could save a portion of the $12 million spent in cashier wages every second at its US stores.
Shell, Exxon, Wal-Mart take top three spots
Apple has slotted into 55th place in an annual update of Fortune's Global 500 list. The ranking is based on data from the 2011 fiscal year, which in Apple's case includes $108.249 billion in revenue, with a profit of $25.922 billion. Notably Apple has risen a massive 56 spots, having held 111th place last year. Apple is also said to have achieved $116.371 billion in assets, and $76.615 billion in stockholder equity.
Major retailers drop price Wii with "specials"
This week, major retailers including Best Buy, Toys Us and Amazon are selling Nintendo Wii bundles for $170. The going price for these packages had been $200 at retail stores. In most instances, this new price is touted as a “special”, however, given rumors of a more permanent price drop to $150, it may remain at this level, especially if other retailers jump in to match this price.
Best Buy promises Blue Sky video downloads
Electronics retailer giant Best Buy announced on its Twitter page that it will offer a video-on-demand service dubbed Blue Sky for its Reward Zone Premium Silver members. Unlike a similar promised service that was announced last year, this one will be offered to the store chain's Reward Zone Premium Silver members. These members will be able to rent one movie every month.
MPEG LA sues Haier
Key digital video architect MPEG LA has filed a lawsuit against Haier America for allegedly infringing on patents it holds for technology used in digital TVs. The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and maintains Haier's TVs in the US are sold without the needed patent licenses for the country.
Everex shuts US operations
PC maker Everex has ceased business operations in North America, and is now in the process of liquidating its assets, according to a Tuesday report. The company's US website simply states "Everex US now closed" and doesn't provide an immediate reason for the closure. Japanese and Taiwanese domains appear to be fully operational, however. Company officials haven't commented on the shutdown to, which came with no advance warning to Laptop and others that noticed the change.
Walmart iPhone ads
A day after the leak of alleged internal Walmart memo detailing its iPhone 3G launch, an image has surfaced that suggests the company has begun marketing the device ahead of schedule, according to AppleInsider. The poster appears to be wrapped around an anti-theft sensor and reads simply "iPhone 3G. Now at Walmart." The memo suggested that a pilot program would allow Wal-Mart employees to purchase the phones at 488 stores.
99 dollar iPhone
Amidst the rumors of a $99 4GB iPhone that might be sold after the holidays at Wal-Mart, analyst firm Kaufman Brothers has reported that a $99 device is inevitable. The exact timing of the discount remains unclear, although Apple could be developing a strategy to expand the range of iPhone products to include a low-end, mid-range, and high-end device. The new products are likely to offer feature differences beyond the current availability of several flash storage capacities.
Wal-Mart sells G1 cheaper
Wal-Mart on Tuesday confirmed earlier rumors that it would undercut T-Mobile's price for the Android-powered G1 by $30, according to confirmation obtained by Reuters. The news arrives one day before the retail chain will sell the device at 550 stores throughout the country, priced at $149 with a two-year contract. The T-Mobile G1 was launched last week for $179 when purchased directly from the wireless carrier.
Wal-Mart May Get T-Mo G1
Wal-Mart may soon carry T-Mobile's G1 at a significantly lower price than T-Mobile itself, a slip to Engadget shows. The Android-powered smartphone is reportedly set to ship to the retailer about a month after its official debut and would cost just under $149 on a two-year contract, or at least $30 below the official $179 price point. It's not clear whether Wal-Mart would carry all colors, though the existing black and brown are likely candidates.
Walmart to carry iPhone?
As Apple continues to expand the retail distribution of the iPhone 3G, a new report indicates that Walmart may be the next retailer to begin selling the quickly=growing smartphone. While previous rumors have suggested that Radio Shack may also carry the device, BGR indicates that Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, may start carrying it as soon as November 15th. Rumors that Radio Shack would begin selling the iPhone surfaced just before the iPhone 3G launch in July, and subsequent trials for Apple-like designer stores bolstered their credibility; however, the report indicates that talks with the electronics company may be faltering.
Wal-Mart DRM Servers Stay
Wal-Mart issued a last-minute reprieve to customers potentially affected by its DRM server shutdown. Citing feedback from customers, the retailer now says it will keep alive the servers that hand out licenses for its now-obsolete Windows Media protected music rather than close them down. The move had originally been scheduled for Thursday but has been postponed indefinitely; the servers will stay up for "the present time," according to Wal-Mart. This will also include support for any problems with the files themselves.
Wal-Mart done with DRM
Wal-Mart is following the actions of Microsoft, Yahoo and Virgin, shutting down its DRM (Digital Rights Management) servers on October 9. The move will render any Wal-Mart-purchased, copy protected WMA music files inert if not burned to CD prior to the server shutdown. Boing Boing is reporting that Wal-Mart has emailed customers warning them of the impending server shutdown and its effect on their collections.
The major music labels and SanDisk today tried to revive physical music with slotMusic. The concept is aimed at music phone users who want quick access to music as though it were a CD, but also to users who prefer to have a physical backup of digital music: each 1GB microSD card comes with an album's worth of music in 320Kbps MP3 files, enabling the music to be played right away or transferred to any computer through a bundled USB adapter. The extra space allows special features such as videos and can be used as storage space of its own.
HP 'green' notebook bag
HP says it has found a way to reduce notebook packaging materials by 97 percent, and cut transportation costs by 31 percent. The computer giant has won Walmart's "green" Home Entertainment Design Challenge, by packaging a Pavillion dv6929 in a messenger bag capable of doubling as a shipping container. As a result, less styrofoam and cardboard are consumed, and a bulk shipment can occupy less space in ships and trucks, in theory resulting in less fuel expenses.
Studios back Sony DRM
A Tuesday report has the majority of the big movie studios and distributors supporting a plan put forth by Sony Pictures that would decrease the restrictions Digital Rights Management (DRM) imposes on users' ability to enjoy their purchased videos and movies. Last year, Sony Pictures proposed a set of policies and software and service framework it called Open Market that would allow larger flexibility of DRM content and let customers enjoy content on various devices they must first register.
iTunes controls US music
Apple's iTunes Store continues to control the US music market, a new batch of surveys suggests. Following several polls of Americans 13 and older, conducted between January and June of this year, the NPD Group says that iTunes maintained an existing lead, despite competition from major, firmly established corporations. The results are are also notable in that they reflect all forms of music sales, including not just iTunes' digital specialty but online and retail CD sales. Excluded are non-permanent options like the subscription services offered by Rhapsody and Napster.
Verizon picks up Blitz
Verizon Wireless has picked up a new UTStarcom phone, reports say. Previously unavailable in the US, and known elsewhere as the TXT8010, it is being imported by Verizon and renamed the Blitz, with an initial launch scheduled through Wal-Mart stores on August 8th. People wanting to avoid Wal-Mart for whatever reason may have to wait until September 28th, when it should become available through Best Buy stores. Pricing is unannounced but should be relatively low, as it is set to be an INpulse prepaid phone.
Yahoo Q2 2008 Results
Yahoo this afternoon reported mixed results for its spring quarter that it blames in part on Microsoft's attempts to buy out the search engine firm. Although its pure revenue climbed six percent to approximately $1.79 billion between April and June with profits climbing slightly to $1.03 billion, the company says its actual operating income dropped a significant 45 percent to $101 million; nearly one quarter of this, or $22 million, was associated with the legal costs both with Microsoft's initial takeover and the recently-ended proxy takeover threat from billionaire Carl Icahn, who had boosted his stake in the company to nearly five percent in an attempt to help vote out Yahoo's board of directors.
Apple Fortune 500 ranking
For the third year in a row, Apple has continued a slow escalation up the ranks of Fortune's Global 500. The list ranks the world's biggest 500 corporations in terms of revenues and profits; in the 2008 list Apple now sits at 337th, with revenues of over $24 billion, and profits nearing $3.5 billion. It is flanked by Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia, and France's Alstom. In the 2007 list Apple took 367th place, while in 2006 it barely managed to break in at 492nd.
PS3 40GB May Exit in Aug
Sony could be replacing its baseline 40GB PlayStation 3 model with a new version as early as next month, according to a Wal-Mart data sheet obtained by Joystiq. The large retailer lists the Blu-ray game console as being replaced with a new version in early August but doesn't provide the new model or illustrate exact changes. Sony has yet to update the 40GB system with the Dual Shock 3 rumble controller or release an anticipated white PS3.
Yahoo rebuffs Icahn
As aggravations rise over the controversial $2.1 billion severance plan, Yahoo insists that talks are ongoing with Microsoft, rebutting against criticism from investor Carl Icahn, who recently wrote Yahoo's chairman a disparaging letter. Yahoo highlighted its recent ad partnerships with Wal-Mart and several others, but president Susan Decker said that an arrangement with Microsoft could still occur. Icahn recently blasted the search giant, calling Yahoo's board "deceitful".
Napster MP3 Store
Napster today launched what it says is the world's largest MP3-based music store. Effectively turning away from its reliance on protected Windows Media files, the company is offering about 6 million unguarded MP3 songs through a web-based store accessible from any computer and playable through virtually any device -- including the iPhone and iPod, Napster is keen to note. Users with iTunes can auto-sync their Napster downloads to the jukebox software. Prices for tracks remain unchanged at 99 cents each, with most full albums selling for $10.
Google brand beats Apple
Google remains the number one company in the world in terms of estimated brand value, says the research group Millward Brown Optimor. Google has held its spot for a third consecutive year, with a recent valuation of $86.1 billion, an increase of 30 percent over earlier results. General Electric holds second place in the current survey at $71.4 billion, while Microsoft is valued at $70.9 billion. The results are based on interviews with over a million people worldwide.
NPD on Amazon vs iTunes
Amazon's highly-touted MP3 store has had little to no effect on the success of iTunes, according to a new analysis by The NPD Group. A study conducted by the group reveals that just 10 percent of all purchasers at Amazon MP3 are converts from Apple's service, with the rest either switching from other stores or else are new to direct-download music. This comparatively new audience is a "healthy indication" that other stores don't necessarily have to draw customers away from iTunes to grow, says NPD entertainment analyst Russ Crupnick.
Wal-Mart HD DVD refund
Bargain retailer Wal-Mart has joined the ranks of corporations attempting to appease buyers of HD DVD players, which are now obsolete and faced with an increasingly dwindling movie supply. The company is offering refunds to anyone who bought an HD DVD player on or following November 1st of last year, with or without original packaging. People must, however, return the player by April 30th, and bring with them their original receipt.
Ipsos: Hard grip by iTunes
Research firm Ipsos has released a new study on the digital music industry, the results of which position Apple as the leader. Some 82 percent of American music downloaders are familiar with iTunes, versus a next-best figure of 76 percent for Napster. Some 38 percent of downloaders think of iTunes first when it comes to digital music, and while most major online outlets have had their name recognition increase during 2007, only iTunes showed a substantial growth in use past the first 30 days, up to 24 percent last year from 18 percent in 2006. Services such as Rhapsody and Walmart.com saw their 30-day-plus use decrease.
iTunes tops music retail
Earlier reports of the iTunes Store's success are true; Apple has officially said that NPD discovered the media store's dominance over industry giant Wal-Mart during a study. The report states that Apple's 50 million customers have moved over four billion songs from the world's largest music catalogue of over 6 million songs. The study accounts for individual tracks under the assumption that a typical CD contains 12 music tracks, and based over sales in January and February.
MySpace Music Today
MySpace's frequently rumored music download store could launch as early as today, according to a rumor put forward by CNET. The publication claims to know sources who say that an initial announcement is planned that will expand the site's currently hands-off music section into a service that offers a combination of downloads and streams. Mirroring past stories, the feature would allegedly let users either pay to download full MP3 songs and ringtones or else stream songs for free on the web. Users could also buy their concert tickets directly from the site.
iTunes Tops Wal-Mart
iTunes for at least a short while has been single largest outlet for music sales in the US, according to new data collected by The NPD Group's MusicWatch Survey conducted in January. The digital store at the time accounted for 19 percent of all music bought in the country versus 15 percent for Wal-Mart's combined in-store and online sales. Best Buy managed 13 percent, while Amazon sat further back at 6 percent despite offering the second-largest digital store in the US. RealNetworks' Rhapsody was the second digital-only store in the market but commands just 1 percent of the US marketplace.
Amazon MP3 at Number 2
Amazon MP3 is quickly catching up to iTunes despite having been on the market for only a fraction of the time, according to new data. Launched in September, the web-based music store is now ranked second in the US only to Apple's service and is the highest-ranked store to offer all its tracks without digital rights management (DRM). The success is credited largely to the lack of copy protection, which allows songs to be played in nearly any modern operating system as well as any portable devices, including historically locked-down devices such as the iPod or the Zune.
Electronics spending crash
American spending on electronics is about to take a sharp slide, suggests a study by ChangeWave Research. In a survey of over 4,400 Americans conducted between February 18th and the 25th, a full 33 percent said they would be spending less on electronics in the next 90 days, versus only 19 percent who said they would spend more. Although "spending less" responses tend to dominate in most months of the year except for the run-up to Christmas, the gap is now the largest it has been since 2002, a factor which may both reflect and harm an already damaged US economy.
iTunes to beat Wal-Mart?
Music sales from the iTunes Store will likely surpass those of budget retailer Wal-Mart by the end of 2008, says the president of NPD Group's Music division. The research firm yesterday released a report indicating that iTunes has already achieved the number-two position in the United States, surpassing even Best Buy and Target. NPD's Russ Crupnick now says, though, Wal-Mart does not pose any serious obstacle in an increasingly digital music market. "Digital sales were up close to 50 percent and CD sales were down 20 percent last year," says Crupnick. "Even at half that growth rate in digital sales, Apple will in all likelihood catch Wal-Mart this year."
NPD on iTunes 2nd Place
In an environment where users are more likely to turn to piracy, Apple's iTunes Store has climbed to second place among all legal US music stores and is second only to Wal-Mart, according to a new study by The NPD Group. The research firm notes that about 29 million users, or 10 percent of all people acquiring music in the US, turned to paid download services throughout the course of 2007 and more often shopped at iTunes than through any other service. The total figure represented a jump of about five million versus 2006 and saw most sales go to buyers between 36 and 50 years old. This same segment largely drove sales of portable media players like the iPod.
Toshiba Mulls HD DVD Pull
Toshiba is reviewing whether or not it will continue the HD DVD format, the company said Monday morning in a public statement. The Japanese electronics firm neither confirmed nor denied claims by national broadcaster NHK that it would halt HD DVD production outright but has admitted that it is reconsidering its position on the HD movie disc standard. The comment is the first public acknowledgement by Toshiba that it may need to discontinue the format after a succession of key studio and retail losses.
Toshiba to End HD DVD
Previous reports that Toshiba will end its efforts in HD DVD are accurate, according to a report by Japanese broadcaster NHK as well as additional sources. The electronics maker is poised to both stop future development as well as ramp down manufacturing of HD DVD players, recorders, and PC drives. The move will be one of Toshiba's costliest to date and should cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Japan press outlet. Toshiba has not responded to the claims, though sources have suggested an official announcement will be made soon.
Wal-Mart Dropping HD DVD
(Updated with official announcement) Wal-Mart will join a string of major retailers in being the next to drop HD DVD as a format, according to a post by an associate writing on an official company blog. The staffer claims that the store chain will echo the same Warner Bros. plans that triggered the sudden fall of HD DVD and will gradually phase out HD DVD movies and players, leaving only Blu-ray devices and titles on Wal-Mart shelves by June. Prices may also drop on Blu-ray equipment as consolidation around the single standard goes up, the writer speculates.
Wal-Mart exec joins Apple
A prominent Wal-Mart executive will soon be directing important initiatives at Apple, reports suggest. Kevin Swint, the head of Wal-Mart's digital media section, is said to be leaving his current company to join Apple this week. In working for his new host, Swint will be in charge of international movie and TV content, a position that is becoming increasingly important as Apple expands its video efforts to countries outside the US. Currently, Canada and the United Kingdom are the only foreign iTunes Stores with TV shows, and neither rents or sells movies.
Dell Drops Kiosks
Dell today sent word that it will drop its longtime Direct Store practice. All of the Texas PC maker's 140 try-before-buying kiosks currently operating in the US will be shut down; the points of sale are less useful now that the company's computers are already available at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and a handful of other locations, Dell claims. The shift will also help Dell return some of its focus to the direct sales model that formed the backbone of the company's business for most of its existence.
Wal-Mart Axes Videos
Wal-Mart has shut down its fledgling movie service with virtually no announcement, according to user reports. Visitors to the official site are greeted with a message that the site has shut down as of December 21st and redirects users to information about the closure. Videos and other content remain playable but will still include the copy restrictions of before, which prevent the videos from transferring to non-purchasing computers but allow their use on as many as three portable media players that support guarded Windows Media content. No refunds are available and customers will have to visit a Wal-Mart store to buy more videos, the retailer warns.
iPod replaced with book
A little girl in Maryland this Christmas opened a box that was supposed to contain an iPod classic, only to discover a book and a strange note in place of the portable player she thought she had received, according to myfoxdc. The box, which her father purchased at a local Wal-Mart store, contained "Awakening Loving-Kindness" by Pema Chodron accompanied by a strange letter, which reads: "Reclaim your mind from the media's shackles. Read a book and resurrect yourself. To claim your capitalistic garbage go to your nearest Apple Store."
iTunes Movie Price Claim
Apple has made a rare concession to movie studios and will raise the average selling price of a movie at the iTunes Store in a bid to gain extra support for its service, according to a report (membership required) by Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield. The company will reportedly boost the average wholesale price of a movie to $15, only $3 below the average selling price of a DVD. This is a necessary condition to lure in studios such as 20th Century Fox that have been hesitant to embrace iTunes in the past, Greenfield says. Fox in particular would roll out both its latest titles and earlier movies in exchange for the deal.
Blu-Ray takes Black Friday
Blu-Ray remains the format of choice in the HD world, results from the week of Black Friday show. Data from Nielsen VideoScan reveals that of the HD discs bought during last week, 72.6 percent of them were Blu-Ray titles, leaving HD DVD at 27.4 percent. This is despite a massive influx of HD DVD players from Wal-Mart's $99 sale, and the success of particular titles such as Transformers. Simply by itself, the Blu-Ray version of Live Free or Die Hard sold nearly 100,000 copies, according to one Fox Home Entertainment executive.