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AfterDawn: News

Yahoo search market share falls to 'all-time low'

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Jul 2014 19:31

Yahoo search market share falls to 'all-time low' According to the latest comScore data, Yahoo's search market share has reached an all-time low, at just below 10 percent.

Overall, desktop search declined for the fifth month in a row, as mobile continued to grow at a fast pace.

Yahoo's fall has been anticipated since its "search alliance" deal with Microsoft has led to a combined 29 percent for Bing and Yahoo but has made Bing the priority.

Google remained the clear leader for desktop search, at 67.6 percent, followed by Bing at 19.2 percent and Yahoo at 9.8 percent. All others accounted for 3.4 percent.

The report does not include mobile figures but Google is said to have about 85 percent share of the quickly growing mobile market.


AfterDawn: News

Ruling: Aereo is not a cable company

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Jul 2014 18:55

Ruling: Aereo is not a cable company Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled against online TV broadcast and DVR startup Aereo, effectively killing the company.

In its efforts to regain its status, Aereo asked to be reconsidered as a "cable company" under copyright law, allowing it to continue operating but with official re-transmission licenses from the major media companies.

This week, US copyright officials have told Aereo executives that they will not consider the startup a cable company under current copyright law. "In the view of the Copyright Office, internet retransmissions of broadcast television fall outside the scope of the Section 111 license," the Copyright Office wrote in its letter to Aereo.

Aereo's filings will not be declined outright, since Aereo has appealed to a lower court and the case is still being heard. The Copyright Office has therefore provisionally accepted the application.

Read more about the Supreme Court decision here.


AfterDawn: News

Google will no longer call games with in-app purchases 'free'

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Jul 2014 18:35

Google will no longer call games with in-app purchases 'free' As part of their resolution of a European Commission concern, Google has announced that it will no longer call free games that also include in-app purchases "free."

The EU asked both Google and Apple to change the way they market such apps in their app stores, including informing customers about how payments work and adding game developer's contact info.

Besides ending "free" as a term, Google will also create "targeted guidelines" for the games that prevent encouraging kids to buy in-app items.

While Apple disagrees, the EC also says the iPhone and iPad maker has "regrettably" not provided any solutions for the same concerns but has promised to.

Apple responded quickly to the remarks: "Apple takes great pride in leading the industry in parental controls that are incredibly easy to use and help ensure a great experience for parents and children on the App Store. The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customizable. And over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked. We've also created a Kids Section on the App Store with even stronger protections to cover apps designed for children younger than 13.


AfterDawn: News

Leaked: HTC's upcoming Android Wear-based smartwatch

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 18 Jul 2014 23:51

Leaked: HTC's upcoming Android Wear-based smartwatch Prolific leaker @Evleaks has released an artist reproduction of what the upcoming HTC Android Wear-based smartwatch will look like, including a render of the UI (just for kicks).

Although it is a reproduction, the render is said to be identical to the original source, although it is unclear why the original could not be posted.

If accurate, the watch will be rectangular just like the other two Android Wear watches on the market, the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, but it will include a metal band.

HTC has confirmed they are looking into an Android Wear device, but has never given much confirmation past that.

Larger image here:

AfterDawn: News

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited ebook service is official

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 18 Jul 2014 23:19

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited ebook service is official As leaked two days ago, Amazon's Kindle Unlimited ebook service is now official and live.

The monthly subscription service costs $9.99 and gives you access to over 600,000 ebooks and over 2000 audiobooks. You can read as many books as you want while paying for the service, but the access disappears if you ever cancel.

Amazon will immediately be the biggest player on the block, taking on little known Oyster (500,000 titles for $9.95 a month) and Scribd (400,000 titles for $8.99 per month).

A few of the featured titles are best sellers like the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games series, the Lord of the Rings series and Michael Lewis' latest, 'Flash Boys.' There are also plenty of classics like Animal Farm and even a large amount of books from the For Dummies series. Unlimited also includes Kindle Singles, popular short titles under 100 pages.

"With Kindle Unlimited, you won't have to think twice before you try a new author or genre--you can just start reading and listening," Russ Grandinetti, senior vice president of Kindle, said in a statement.

All books have Whispersync, Popular Highlights, X-Ray, customer reviews, and Goodreads integration.

AfterDawn: News

NPD: PlayStation 4 still outselling Xbox One even at equal pricing

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 18 Jul 2014 22:37

NPD: PlayStation 4 still outselling Xbox One even at equal pricing Console sales remained hot in June, with gamers spending $736.4 million during the month in the U.S.

The NPD Group says the figure is up 24 percent year-over-year, thanks again to strong sales of the Sony PlayStation 4. Hardware was the leading driver of the gains, at $292.7 million, up 106 percent year-over-year.

Software was down 3 percent to $286.8 million (YoY), mainly because last June saw the release of hit 'The Last of Us.' "Sales of launch titles in June 2014 did not compare favorably to those launched in June 2013, which included the PS3 exclusive The Last of Us, along with Nintendo's Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and a retail version of Minecraft for the Xbox 360," said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.

As always, NPD's figures do not include digital downloads, mobile games or used game sales. Those numbers are likely to have grown since last year. Watch Dogs, Mario Kart 8 and Minecraft were three top hits for June. Watch Dogs has seen over 8 million copies sold around the globe and is Ubisoft's biggest hit in quite some time, if ever. Mario Kart continued to impress, taking its total sales to 885,000 in a month on just one console, compared to four consoles for most of the rest of the list.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft shuts down Xbox Entertainment Studios after two years and just one completed project

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 17 Jul 2014 23:43

Microsoft shuts down Xbox Entertainment Studios after two years and just one completed project In addition to their announced 18,000 layoffs, Microsoft will also be shutting down their Xbox Entertainment Studios, which so far has been a major failure for the company.

The studio was supposed to bring original content to the Xbox, but so far in two years there has only been one completed project. The Atari documentary will be released, and the much-awaited Halo series will be completed, as well.

Xbox head Phil Spencer is looking to keep with CEO Satya Nadella's move towards focusing and building the core of Microsoft (gaming, mobile and cloud).

Original and premium content was a slam dunk from Microsoft's perspective, especially given the large Xbox Live userbase. The company hired CBS TV head Nancy Tellem to run the studio, and quickly signed up major scripts like Halo. It just never happened.

Microsoft will continue to look for original programming but will not develop it in-house, like HBO, Netflix and Hulu do.


AfterDawn: News

Stephen Elop writes email to Nokia employees following layoffs

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 17 Jul 2014 22:38

Stephen Elop writes email to Nokia employees following layoffs Former Nokia CEO and current Microsoft exec Stephen Elop has written a long email to employees explaining the newly announced 18,000 layoffs and the future of the company.

Microsoft announced that 12,500 of the layoffs would be from Nokia, whose handset division was just acquired for nearly $8 billion.

Here is the email in its entirety (it's a long one):

Microsoft's strategy is focused on productivity and our desire to help people "do more." As the Microsoft Devices Group, our role is to light up this strategy for people. We are the team creating the hardware that showcases the finest of Microsoft's digital work and digital life experiences, and we will be the confluence of the best of Microsoft's applications, operating systems and cloud services.

To align with Microsoft's strategy, we plan to focus our efforts. Given the wide range of device experiences, we must concentrate on the areas where we can add the most value. The roots of this company and our future are in productivity and helping people get things done. Our fundamental focus for phones, Surface, for meetings with devices like PPI, Xbox hardware and new areas of innovation -- is to build on that strength. While our direction in the majority of our teams is largely unchanging, we have had an opportunity to plan carefully about the alignment of phones within Microsoft as the transferring Nokia team continues with its integration process.


AfterDawn: News

Ouch: Microsoft slashing up to 18,000 jobs

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 17 Jul 2014 22:07

Ouch: Microsoft slashing up to 18,000 jobs As expected, Microsoft announced a round of layoffs today although the number was well beyond all expectations.

New CEO Satya Nadella announced the company will eliminate up to 18,000 jobs, far and away the largest in its history at 14 percent of the total workforce.

Most of the layoffs will come from the newly acquired Nokia, at 12,500 factory and professional positions being released. At Microsoft itself, all the layoffs will come from sales, marketing and engineering. Microsoft says it will take up to a $1.6 billion charge for the layoffs in the 2015 fiscal year.

13,000 of the cuts were made today and the rest will be done before June 30th, 2015. Additionally, Microsoft's infamous layers of management will be reduced, allowing for quicker decisions.

Reads Nadella's post: "The first step to building the right organization for our ambitions is to realign our workforce...It's important to note that while we are eliminating roles in some areas, we are adding roles in certain other strategic areas. My promise to you is that we will go through this process in the most thoughtful and transparent way possible. We will offer severance to all employees impacted by these changes, as well as job transition help in many locations, and everyone can expect to be treated with the respect they deserve for their contributions to this company."


AfterDawn: News

Rupert Murdoch gets rejected with $80 billion bid for Time Warner

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 16 Jul 2014 22:14

Rupert Murdoch gets rejected with $80 billion bid for Time Warner The media industry went berserk today when it was discovered that Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox had bid $80 billion for Time Warner and its prized possession: HBO.

Time Warner turned down the proposal but many say the saga is nowhere near over. Murdoch is said to be determined and higher bids are likely coming.

A merger of the two companies would create a behemoth. Besides HBO, the companies would control Fox broadcasting, Warner Bros. studios, and 20th Century Fox. One notable takeaway from the reports is that Fox planned to sell CNN if it acquired Time Warner, which it hopes would allay some anti-trust fears.

The industry is ripe for mergers, especially as cable companies head towards mergers and better leverage in content negotiations. Before the Time Warner bid, Fox had been considering buying Scripps, the owner of HGTV and Food Network, and Univision, the largest Spanish language cable network.

In addition, the takeover would give Fox major broadcasting rights for NBA, NCAA and MLB sports, on top of their current NASCAR and other rights.

In their rejection of the offer, CEO Jeff Bewkes says "our business plans will create significantly more value for the company and our shareholders, and that's superior to any proposal that Fox is in a position to offer." Also, other potential partners like Comcast and AT&T are in the middle of consolidations that may or may not go through, so Time Warner believes it is not a great time to take a takeover offer.


AfterDawn: News

Amazon starts testing $9.99 ebook subscription service

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 16 Jul 2014 18:37

Amazon starts testing $9.99 ebook subscription service Amazon has begun testing a new "Kindle Unlimited" subscription service for $9.99, allowing users to read or listen to over 600,000 ebooks and audiobooks at a flat price.

While the test is not public, some pages popped up on the Kindle message boards and were promptly taken down after users noticed.

Such a service would compete directly with Scribd and Oyster, although neither of those companies offer audiobooks.

From what can be surmised from the pages, Algonquin, Bloomsbury, Harvard University Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Open Road Media, W.W. Norton and Workman are all publishers that are participating. The majors do not appear to be participating yet. Many of the titles were also older titles already available in the Kindle Owners Lending Library, which gives $99/year Prime subscribers one free book per month.

In the audiobook section, Amazon says there are 7351 "Whispersync for Voice" titles available.


AfterDawn: News

Apple conditionally settles ebook price fixing suit for $450 million

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 16 Jul 2014 17:28

Apple conditionally settles ebook price fixing suit for $450 million Apple has conditionally agreed to pay $450 million to settle claims that it fixed e-book prices in conspiracy with the major book publishers.

$400 million will go to consumers, with the rest going to state and federal agencies.

The settlement is conditioned on an appeal in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York where the settlement could be entirely reversed. "While we cannot predict the outcome of the appeal with certainty, we are confident in the case we made against Apple at trial," Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said.

Apple reached the settlement last month, but the terms were not disclosed. The tech giant avoided a trial in which they were facing over $800 million in claims.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple and five of the largest book publishers claiming that the companies conspired to break Amazon's dominance of the ebook market and its wholesale pricing. At the time, Amazon would buy the rights to the books at wholesale prices and then priced them at whatever they chose, often times underpricing hit books to get traffic to their site and get more people to buy the Kindle hardware. Apple, who was launching its own bookstore with the launch of the iPad, changed the game to the "agency model" in which Apple sells the books at the prices dictated by the publisher but takes a 30 percent cut. This pushed the average price of ebooks from $9.99 to $12-14 or even higher in many cases.


AfterDawn: News

Unlocking your phone is cool again following passing of Senate bill

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 16 Jul 2014 13:47

Unlocking your phone is cool again following passing of Senate bill The Senate has passed bill S. 517, allowing consumers to unlock their phones when it is time to switch carriers.

S. 517 aka the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, will make it once again legal to unlock your phones when your contract is up. The right had been an exemption in the DMCA, but it was revoked when the Library of Congress ruled phone software is protected by copyright and that unlocking could potentially be a copyright violation.

"This straightforward restoring bill is about promoting consumer rights," says Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) "When consumers finish the terms of their contract, they should be able to keep their phones and make their own decision about which wireless provider to use."

The Senate passed the bill unanimously and it now goes to the House.


AfterDawn: News

Gamers, devs to soon get early access to PS4, Xbox One games to test?

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 16 Jul 2014 13:26

Gamers, devs to soon get early access to PS4, Xbox One games to test? It appears the console makers are now looking into ways to let gamers, devs test out unfinished games before their final launch, similar to how some PC game publishers do.

PlayStation VP of Publisher and Developer Relations Adam Boyes says that putting out PS4 games before final release is "one of the massive conversations we have internally."

"We're figuring out what's ok," Boyes continued. "We obviously have our tech requirement checklist that people have to adhere to. So we're internally discussing, what does that list look like this? What are the caveats? Stuff like this. So it's still a project that a lot of minds are considering. No details yet, but it's something on the top of my mind every day."

Microsoft is also looking into giving developers early access to Xbox One titles. ID@Xbox director Chris Charla noted: "Right now on Xbox One and Xbox 360, you can do betas. When we talk about early access, it typically means a game that you buy and it evolves over time to become 1.0, so you're buying it before it's 1.0 Minecraft on PC is a perfect example."


AfterDawn: News

Intel has another great quarter thanks to "improved" PC market

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 16 Jul 2014 12:52

Intel has another great quarter thanks to "improved" PC market Giant semi Intel announced their quarterly earnings last night, reporting another strong quarter thanks to an 'improved' PC market.

The company earned $2.8 billion on revenue of $13.8 billion and even raised their fiscal year revenue outlook. The company will buyback up to $20 billion in stock, which will increase the value of the company's share.

"This change in our capital structure is the continuation of a multi-year focus on creating value and returning cash to our shareholders, and reinforces our confidence in the business," CFO Stacy J. Smith said during the report.

Most impressively, gross margins remained flat at 66 percent and revenue for the upcoming quarter should improve to $14.4 billion.

Intel continues its foray into the mobile world and has set a lofty goal of powering 40 million tablets by the end of the year, despite missing out on the first three years, literally, of tablet growth enjoyed by Qualcomm and to a lesser extent, Nvidia. Intel powers both Windows and Android tablets.

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