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Microsoft may have made its Yahoo buyout offer public as part of a threat to push Yahoo into a deal, says tech journalist Kara Swisher of the Wall Street Journal. While Microsoft has characterized its discussions with Yahoo as "off and on" and suggested only that Yahoo turned down an offer roughly a year earlier, sources inside Yahoo claim that Microsoft publicly proposed the now $44.6 billion buyout immediately after the company's underperforming earnings report on Tuesday; the public statement fulfilled a threat to make the offer public if Yahoo did not respond within two days, the insiders report.
The Kindle handheld is doing extremely well, claims Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. Speaking in a quarterly earnings call, Bezos has described the e-book reader as "outpacing our expectations," doing so well in fact that it is causing manufacturing problems. The company is scrambling to increase the number of Kindles produced each week, with the eventual goal of having a Kindle ready for immediate shipment after ordering. Customers must currently enter a waiting line.
Sony on Friday removed more of the mystery surrounding its 24.8-megapixel pro digital SLR by showcasing a prototype model that reveals some additional information about the camera. The Japanese firm refers to the new top-end model only as the "flagship" Alpha but notes that the actual camera will shoot at a slightly lower 24.6 effective megapixels due to sensor limits. Like other Sony Alpha cameras, it should still use Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lenses; it will have at least the option of a lens with a minimum f2.8 aperture and a manual focus override toggle built into the lens.
Intel on Friday said it had already begun dropping its older performance 65-nanometer processors only shortly after the unveiling of its complete 45-nanometer line. The change will start with the company's more affordable workstation processors, including dual-core Xeon 3000-series workstation chipsets ranging from 1.86GHz to 2.66GHz; a better-equipped 2.66GHz chip and a 3GHz equivalent will remain intact as will three quad-core Xeon 3200 processors using the older archtecture. High-end Xeons in the 5000-series also remain untouched for now, Intel says.
The Italian parliament may be on the verge of legalizing peer-to-peer music sharing, local paper La Repubblica reports. Already approved by both houses of the legislature, a new law allows open sharing of any images and music on the Internet, so long as the material is degraded and used solely in non-profit scientific or educational contexts. The problem, says Italian lawyer Andrea Monti, is that "degraded" has specific connotations which could include any form of MP3, given that the format is by definition affected by compression, even if listeners cannot tell.
Blu-Ray is continuing to grow its stranglehold on the HD movie format, a new Nielsen study suggests. Contained in Nielsen's latest VideoScan First Alert is word that in the week ending January 27th, Blu-Ray accounted for 82 percent of HD disc sales, leaving HD DVD with a mere 18 percent. Similarly, all of the ten best-selling HD movies were for Blu-Ray, led by Saw IV, and followed by The Game Plan and 3:10 to Yuma.
Dell is working on a complete replacement for its Latitude professional notebooks that will compete in design with Apple and Sony models while catering to a business audience, if a leak through Engadget proves accurate. The platform, known so far as the Latitude E-series, would switch out the simple look of the existing D-series models with brushed metal and a one-piece hinge design; 14- and 15.4-inch models should be thinner than past versions thanks to LED backlighting. Smaller 12- and 13.3-inch systems will also exist; neither has been confirmed as using LEDs, but one report has indicated Dell ordering 12-inch LED panels for a future system.
Prices for flash memory have dropped steeply enough in recent months that they should drop the price of solid-state drives (SSDs) at the same time as they increase capacity, according to new statistics collected from DRAMeXchange. Prices for a four gigabit (1 gigabyte) memory chipset have dropped by approximately 75 percent over just five months, dropping as low as $2.23 for a shorter-lived, multi-level cell chip. Even relatively expensive, recently introduced 32 gigabit memory (4GB) chips cost as little as $12.30, the company notes. The drops are linked primarily to continued oversupply despite an increasingly heavy demand for flash-based devices, such as portable media players.
A Portugese website claims to have acquired an advance version of Windows Mobile 6.1, a revision of Microsoft's portable operating system due sometime early this year, possibly as soon as the 3GSM conference in Barcelona on February 11th. Version 6.1 is reportedly better optimized than v6.0, resulting in faster menu loading, a common complaint with the OS. The mobile version of Internet Explorer has meanwhile been altered with a new "Zoom" function, which mimics the iPhone in that users fit a page to the screen, and then select a particular area to view.
Overcoming what it says is a key obstacle to getting Internet access into public transit, Wi-Fi Rail today revealed that it has finished installing and deploying one of the first truly functional underground Wi-Fi systems for trains. In testing since the summer, a system deployed at four stops along the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) network in San Francisco has been providing 802.11g wireless access in between the stations regardless of the station or the trains' moving speed. A combination of strategically placed transmitters, amplifiers, and receivers (including some inside the rail cars) keeps the signal strong even along bends in the track; it also provides enough overlap that the connection remains uninterrupted even at 65 miles an hour, Wi-Fi Rail says.
Motorola has introduced a new two-way radio, the T9650R Camo. The device is specifically meant for hunting, and as such uses Realtree's APG camouflage pattern. Additionally, beyond five standard ringtones, five more simulate calls for elk, ducks, geese, turkeys and coyotes. While stalking, a radio can be set to vibrate instead. To track weather, users have the option of seven NOAA weather channels, plus four belonging to Environment Canada.
The iPhone is just the "first of a whole generation of products" that will exploit search technology, says Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The phone is already getting more traffic from the iPhone than any other mobile device, a fact commonly attributed to the direct integration of Google Maps and YouTube, as well as an easier interface and the availability of unlimited data plans wherever the iPhone is sold. Speaking to investors and others in an earnings conference call, Schmidt noted that ultimately, the point of spreading search functions is ad revenue.
Acer has successfully finalized its plans to buy control of Packard Bell, according to an update provided by the former company. First begun in August, the deal will give Acer a 75 percent stake in Packard Bell, handing control of the smaller, Europe-based PC maker to the larger firm. The deal was said to have been helped by Acer's recent acquisition Gateway, which reserved the right to counter-offer any potential bidders on Packard Bell.
Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson is contemplating buying a spun-off Motorola mobile business if it becomes available, company chief Carl-Henric Svanberg said today at an investment analyst conference. The official, whose company forms half of cellphone giant Sony-Ericsson, explained that it would be "cautious" about buying any mobile division that would split from Motorola but that the company would nonetheless watch any services that might be made available. Ericsson has historically avoided buying out other companies because it often believes it would be "better off" improving on its own, claims Svanberg.
TiVo is in the midst of discontinuing production of its high-end Series 3 DVR box, the company has confirmed. A message from TiVo explains that a $200 rebate for the HD-capable video recorder during the holidays was more successful than expected and has left TiVo with a supply shortage. Without necessary parts to make the Series 3, it will be more economical to phase out the Series 3 ahead of its initial schedule than to continue to sell a hard to manufacture product, the company says. Instead, the brunt of the focus will be on the TiVo HD, which holds less storage and fewer features but also costs less than half the Series 3's normal price.
Sony may already have a redesigned PlayStation 3 in the cards for later this year, says tech magazine T3. Based on discussions with an alleged insider on the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show, the publication believes that a much thinner and lighter version of the system is in the works for as early as fall of this year. Most details are uncertain, though the design would take advantage of improved, smaller processor and graphics chipsets to accomplish the feat. The reworked system may ultimately be the widely rumored 120GB PS3 that crosses the 80GB barrier set by the old system, the magazine suggests.
Microsoft has been discussing the possibility of buying out Yahoo for a year and a half, the company has confirmed during a conference call discussing its proposed $44.6 billion deal. Confirming longstanding rumors, company PSD president Kevin Johnson says that Microsoft has been in an "off and on" discussion with Yahoo for 18 months. The search engine giant simply said roughly a year ago that it was not a good time to discuss an acquisition, Microsoft claims. The latter says it continues to believe a deal would be important to boosting the importance of search and expanding social platforms. Search is not just about "ten blue links" anymore, Johnson explains. Notably, Microsoft has recently invested in Facebook as part of these efforts.
Intel and Micron today announced a new, extra-quick variant on NAND flash memory that should significantly alter the landscape for mass storage. By using the new ONFI 2.0 (Open NAND Flash Interface) spec combined with higher clock speeds and a four-level cell process, the unnamed technology transfers data up to five times faster than conventional technology. Where even normally quick single-level cell memory reads data at 40 megabytes per second and writes at 20 megabytes per second or less, the new technology reads and writes at 200 and 100 megabytes per second respectively, eliminating one of the final barriers to outperforming rotating hard drives.
Microsoft on Friday startled the industry by offering to buy Yahoo, potentially creating a major shift in online business. The proposal would see Microsoft pay $31 per share in a deal worth a total of $44.6 billion. This is 62 percent higher than Yahoo's closing stock price on Thursday, Microsoft observes. The latter argues that an acquisition would help both companies compete in web services and that about $1 billion per year could be saved between the two by eliminating overhead.
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