French carrier Iliad has made a surprise bid for U.S. carrier T-Mobile US, throwing its hat into the ring against Sprint and its owner SoftBank who have been working on an official bid for over six months.
The company offered $15 billion in cash for a majority 56.6 percent stake in the upstart carrier, which has been growing its subscribers at an impressive clip since starting its Uncarrier programs last year.
While the French bid appears to be inferior, it most likely has a better chance of succeeding than Sprint's, which will face heavy regulatory hurdles. "The U.S. mobile market is large and attractive," Iliad said. "T-Mobile US has successfully established a disruptive position, which in many ways, is similar to the one Iliad has built in France."
Of course, there are questions about the bid. Iliad has a market value of $16 billion, and T-Mobile has a value of about $27 billion so it is unclear how the financing will work although Iliad says the bid will be funded by debt and equity.
The highly-anticipated public beta of the PlayStation Now game streaming service is now available to gamers in North America.
Currently, the beta is only for PlayStation 4 users, although Sony confirmed that it will reach the PS3, PS Vita and PS TV in the coming months.
At launch, there are over 100 titles available to rent, and Sony says the prices will be based on how long your rental is for. A speedy 4-hour rental will cost $2.99, a week rental will cost $5.99, a month rental costs $7.99 and a three-month rental will set you back $14.99.
After reading numerous complaints and feedbacks, the company is also considering an unlimited subscription plan. "We've heard you loud and clear for an update on a PS Now subscription option and want to reassure you that we are working on it," said Jack Buser, Senior Director for PlayStation Now.
Google has made its 64-bit Chrome browser for Windows available via beta channels after first appearing in alpha for Dev/Canary users.
To use it you need a Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 machine and the 64-bit version of the OS.
"To try it out, download the 64-bit installer from our Beta download pages. The new version replaces the existing version while preserving all your settings and bookmarks, so there's no need to uninstall a current installation of Chrome," explains the search giant.
Besides better utilizing 64-bit operating systems, the 64-bit Chrome promises speedier performance and less frequent crashes.
Sony has issued yet another warning, following slow sales of its smartphones, now claiming that the company will not make a profit on its smartphone division for the year.
For the quarter ended June 30th, total operating profit doubled, thanks mainly to strong PlayStation sales and asset sales, but its smartphone sales forecast dropped severely, with the company now expecting to break even rather than its previous $250 million profit forecast.
"It is possible the (smartphone strategy) review might result in an impairment charge against various assets in the mobile communications segment," said new CFO Kenichiro Yoshida. "We are also discussing whether to change the number of phones in our line-up and adjust their lifecycle."
For the year, Sony says it now forecasts a 140 billion yen operating profit but a large 50 billion yen net loss ($486 million USD). For phones, the company expects to sell 43 million smartphones for the year, down from 50 million.
In better news, the company expects to be profitable for its TV division for the first time in a decade thanks to cost cutting that includes 5000 layoffs and a smaller product line.
EA and Microsoft have announced a new subscription game service for Xbox One gamers.
The new service, EA Access, will cost $5 per month or $30 per year and give access to downloadable games through "The Vault," a small but growing collection of EA games.
At launch, EA Access will have just four games: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4, with the promise of more being added in the near future.
In addition to the cheap gaming on older games, EA Access members also get 10 percent off EA games and other content including DLC and free trials of new EA games up to five days before their retail dates.
You can buy passes to EA Access on Amazon and at GameStop.
Rhapsody has announced that its music streaming services now have over 2 million paying subscribers.
The company owns Rhapsody, Napster and the newer unRadio services.
Altogether, the services are available in 32 countries but growth has been notably slow. The company announced 1 million paying subscribers back in 2011.
In its efforts to strengthen growth, the company is expanding further into Europe, using the assets it acquired in the UK, France and Germany from Napster in 2012.
"We are very satisfied with the development of Napster in France and the successful co-operation with SFR," said Thorsten Schliesche, Napster SVP and GM for Europe, noted in a statement. "France is one of the fastest growing markets in Europe. The success of our service proves that customers are eager for a blend of on-demand and mobile data bundles."
Apple has received European clearance for its $3 billion acquisition of premium headphone maker Beats Electronics.
The European Commission says the merger "did not raise concerns because the combined (headphone) market share of Apple and Beats Electronics is low."
There have not been any real concerns about the acquisition, given that Beats has plenty of competition in the industry including Bose, Sony, Sennheiser, and many more.
Apple has no dedicated headphone presence, and the deal is expected to pass in the U.S. in the very near future.
Facebook will be removing messaging functionality from its iPhone and Android apps in the next week, meaning if you want to continue to use the social network to chat you will need to get the standalone Messenger app for your device.
The company first required European users to download Messenger back in April, and the results have been "positive."
If you are accessing Facebook from Windows Phones, iPads, the mobile Web site, Paper or via desktops, you can continue to use the built-in chat without the need for a separate app.
Facebook is sending push notifications that chat is disappearing without the standalone app, and an email will also be sent explaining the move.
Says the social network: "In the next few days, we're continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they'll need to download the Messenger app. As we've said, our goal is to focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences. Messenger is used by more than 200 million people every month, and we'll keep working to make it an even more engaging way to connect with people."
Chinese powerhouse startup Xiaomi has expanded into the fitness tracker market, unveiling the new Mi Band.
The tracker is ridiculously cheap at CN¥79 ($13 USD) although Xiaomi does not sell outside of China yet, so getting a Mi Band in the U.S. will require going through an unlicensed third party.
Mi Bands will track your steps, track your sleeping patterns, work as a smart alarm clock (vibrate to wake you) and can last up to 30 days on a single charge, putting the Fitbit to shame by a huge margin.
In addition, if you have a Xiaomi phone, the band can unlock it wirelessly if close enough.
Xiaomi currently has a value of over $10 billion, especially notable for a three-year old company.
EA has made their old Sims 2 Ultimate Collection available for free via Origin until July 31st.
The game launched in 2004 from original developer Maxis and had expansion packs and other DLC released until 2008. In 2009, there was the release of Sims 3 and later this year will see the release of Sims 4.
If you want the game, EA has provided instructions:
According to a new report, Google and Motorola are working on a new flagship smartphone that will be significantly larger than any previous Nexus device.
The device will be 5.9 inches and include a fingerprint reader, reads the report.
Most of the basis for the report comes from screenshot of Google's issue tracker that references a device running Android L on a Google-built kernel, suggesting a Nexus device although not guaranteeing.
There had been reports that Google was looking to kill off its Nexus program in exchange for the new Android Silver OEM program, but Google later denied those reports, at least for this 2014.
Premium audio hardware maker Bose has sued Beats Electronics over alleged patent infringement related to noise cancelling headphones.
Bose has accused the company of willfully infringing on five of its patents. By claiming the infringement was willful, Bose says it lost profits and sales and will be seeking large damages.
The patents are related to "active noise reduction" technology, which Bose has been using in consumer products since the early 2000s.
In addition, Bose filed a complaint with the U.S. ITC, seeking an injunction on imports of Beat's noise-cancelling headphones into the country. "We are committed to protecting our investment, protecting our customers, and defending the patents we own," said Bose.
Beats was recently acquired by Apple for $3 billion, so the startup's attorney team has seen a significant upgrade.
Pay TV giant BSkyB will pay about $9 billion to purchase 21st Century Fox assets in Germany and Italy, creating an empire that will have over 20 million customers in Europe.
BSkyB will pay in cash, debt, its entire stake in the popular The National Geographic Channel (valued at near $600 million) and also with a stock offering.
The deal adds to Fox's cash hoard as it looks to purchase media giant Time Warner and its prized jewel: HBO. Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch bid $80 billion for Time Warner last month but was rejected in his initial offering.
With the acquisition of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, BSkyB will now operate in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. BSkyB has over 10 million subscribers in Britain, where it offers pay TV, premium sports, movies and even U.S.-based programming.
While Pay TV is a standard in the U.S. and Britain, the rest of Europe has not signed up with similar gusto. Only 30 million of the 97 million households in Germany and Italy currently have Pay TV packages.
Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel decided to have some fun on Hollywood Boulevard with Apple fanboys and the non-techie crowd, showing off the alleged new Apple iTime smartwatch.
The show bought a $20 Casio watch, glued an Apple logo to the back, and went around asking people if they liked features like "being able to tell time and see the date" and if they liked the fact that the watch was "always in airplane mode."
A few Apple fanboys only cared that it was an Apple device, and didn't care that it clearly was not a real smartwatch.
Check the video here and laugh, or cry: