Dish Network spends $13.3B on spectrum licenses, Verizon $10.4B
The latest spectrum auction conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has raised $44.9 billion. Of the bidders looking to acquire what has been termed AWS-3 spectrum, the FCC revealed AT&T spent more than any other carrier or organization, using $18.2 billion to acquire almost half the total number of licenses up for grabs in the auction.
Companies agree to make in-app purchase systems more visible
Major app store operators Amazon, Apple, and Google -- as well as French publisher Gameloft -- have reached a deal with Italy's Antitrust and Competition Authority that will let them avoid fines for misleading people about so-called "free-to-play" or "freemium" apps. The Wall Street Journal reports that the companies have agreed to remove the word "free" from apps that may require in-app payments to be useful. The parties have also committed to making it clearer when a person is about to make an in-app purchase. All of the changes will be applied across the European Union.
AOL expected to fire some 150 people
[Updated with UK rumors] Later today, AOL will announce the closure of two of its best-known websites, Joystiq and TUAW, reports say. Both publications are expected to be folded into Engadget in some fashion. Another site, AOL Autos, is being merged into Autoblog. In the process, AOL will allegedly fire some 150 people, most of them in sales.
RunKeeper adds Spotify integration to iOS app
RunKeeper has added Spotify integration to its iOS app. The fitness app will now offer access to Spotify playlists, created both by the user and by Spotify, and stream music while a workout is underway. Both Spotify and Runkeeper have to be installed on the same device with RunKeeper connected to the Spotify account in order to function, and though it is only on iOS for the moment, a similar update to the Android app may also happen in the future.
CRTC rules data caps can't be used to give an unfair advantage to carriers' own services
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced a decision on Thursday, acting on a complaint regarding data caps and preferred traffic. Wireless carriers Bell Mobility and Videotron both have their own subscription mobile television services, neither of which count towards the data caps written into subscribers' contracts, while competitor's services -- such as Netflix -- do, providing the carriers with incentive to sell larger data plans or favor their own offerings. With today's ruling, that practice must end.
Invest in Transportation Act seeks to raise money for US Highway fund
Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer from California, Barbra Boxer, and Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky have jointly announced a proposed bi-partisan bill titled the "Invest in Transportation Act of 2015" in Washington today. The bill would provide funds for the US Highway Trust Fund by encouraging the "repatriation" of funds held by US businesses overseas.
Largest switch rate in company's record-keeping happened for iPhone 6
During its conference call with analysts on Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook noted that "the current iPhone lineup experienced the highest Android switcher rate in any of the last three launches," which he later clarified was how long the company has been measuring the metric rather than that switching rates were higher in 2011. Further analysis by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners suggests that most of the switching is happening overseas rather in the US.
Net income of $4.76B up year-on-year, fails to meet Wall Street expectations
Google managed to bring in gross consolidated revenues of $18.1 billion for the last quarter, a year-on-year increase of 15 percent and up from the previous quarter's $16.52 billion, according to its latest financial results. Increased traffic acquisition costs (TAC) of $3.62 billion bringing the ex-TAC revenues down to $14 billion. Net income also increased to $4.76 billion from $3.38 billion the same period last year, but the search company failed to meet analyst expectations.
Sales up 15 percent to $29.3 billion, Amazon Prime boost credited
Amazon released its fourth quarter and annual numbers today, through a its investor relations site and a web cast conference call. Prime service membership was called out as a key contributing factor towards increases in Q4 and full year 2014 numbers, with new Prime membership growing slightly faster in markets outside North America.
Vote of FCC commissioners to change broadband definition passes 3-2
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has changed its definition of broadband, after commissioners voted 3-2 in favor. The previous definition of 4Mbps download, 1Mbps upload minimum speeds have been increased to 25Mbps down, 3 Mbps up, a move which pushes higher the proportion of households in the United States declared to be incapable of receiving broadband Internet access.
US, Japan, South Korea generate most app revenue
Google Play is vastly outpacing the iOS App Store in terms of downloads, but the latter is generating more revenue, according to analytics company App Annie. Google saw about 60 percent more downloads than Apple during 2014, but the App Store produced 70 percent more revenue. This includes both initial and in-app purchases.
Giants cross paths with different trajectories
The timing of Apple's surge during the last quarter and Samsung's respective slump has put the two corporations in a dead heat in terms of smartphone marketshare, according to Strategy Analytics. The research firm estimates that the companies each shipped about 74.5 million smartphones worldwide; while only Apple has announced that figure specifically, Samsung says that of the 95 million handsets it shipped in total, the number of smartphones went into the "high 70 percent range." That could mean anything between 71 and 75 million units.
Chip segment strong, but not enough to make up for lagging smartphone segment
Samsung released its Q4 and FY 2014 results today, and as expected, the news was not good. The past three years have resulted in growth for the company, but fiscal 2014 shows an annual earnings decline, in spite of strong performance by the company's chip division. The earnings from smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices fell to 1.96 trillion Korean won ($1.8 billion), a 64.2 percent decline from the year-ago quarter. The news comes on the heels of a record-shattering report from its main rival, Apple.
Source code mandated to be made available for inspection, other onerous rules
At the end of last year, the Chinese government approved a 22-page set of regulations for the sale of computer equipment to Chinese banks, but that will ostensibly apply to all enterprise sales. The rules require foreign companies to turn over source code, submit to audits, and build "back doors" into hardware and software so that the government can monitor devices. The new rules are expected to be the first in a series to be introduced across the next few months.
Apple holds five of the top 10 best quarters ever reported
In addition to being the best quarter in the company's history, Apple's Q1 results also blew away quarterly revenue and profit figures for any company ever, according to credit rating analysts Standard & Poor's. Even more remarkably, CFO Luca Maestri noted repeatedly that fluctuations in major currencies (such as the Russian ruble and the unusually-strong US dollar) actually cost the company a potential five percent -- or $3.73 billion -- in additional revenue.
Code-Name Levitation collects file download data indiscriminately
Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the Canadian equivalent to the US's National Security Agency (NSA), has been collecting data from roughly 15 million file downloads per day according to The Intercept journalists Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald, and CBC News. The surveillance operation, called Levitation, was revealed in a collection of files provided by Edward Snowden.
Carrier must pay $40M in refunds to customers for restricting unlimited data plans
A carrier has settled with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over complaints it offered mobile phone contracts that claim to have "unlimited" data, but turn out do not. TracFone was accused by the FTC of capping and throttling customers on the "unlimited" plans, with the carrier agreeing to pay out $40 million in refunds to consumers as part of its settlement.
Draft law in France would force Google, Facebook to act on hosted terror content
French lawmakers want to hold tech companies accountable for online hate speech. A proposed law, which will apparently be presented next month, will make Google, Facebook, and any company that offers online services to the public "accomplices" to hate-speech crimes, in an attempt to coerce them to monitor their services more closely, and force the removal of terror-related content.
Preceding RM-11737 resolved with public notice against blocking
A petition by Marriott, Hilton, and an association of hotel owners asking for permission to block guests from creating their own Wi-Fi hotspots has been resolved today in a public notice by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Specifically, the blocking of personal Wi-Fi hotspots is prohibited, and will be "aggressively" investigated and acted against, according to the agency.
Now taking two-thirds of mobile payments; cash grows despite payouts
If you are making a contactless mobile payment in the US based on a Visa, MasterCard or American Express account, odds are that you're doing it from an iPhone 6 model. During the conference call with analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company's Apple Pay mobile payments system -- only in its fourth month -- now accounts for more than $2 of every $3 of money paid in that manner. In addition, CFO Luca Maestri updated analysts on the still-growing (but more slowly) cash stockpile Apple has, now at $178 billion.
Analysts believe Apple outsold all others in China, sold more iPhones than US
In the midst of so much good news that came out of Apple in its fiscal Q1 report today, a significant milestore was also noted: the company said it had sold its one billionth iOS device, which it will keep for historical purposes. The device was said to be a 64GB Space Grey iPhone 6 Plus, and was part of the extraordinary 74.6 million iPhone sold worldwide in the holiday quarter. China sales played a major role as well, growing sales 157 percent from the previous quarter.
Adaptive Bitrate support in HTML5 cited as factor in the switch from Flash
YouTube began testing simultaneous support for both Flash and HTML5 video delivery back in 2010, but Flash has continued to be the default in most cases unless users opted into an HTML5 only beta -- until now. YouTube announced today on their developer blog it will now default to utilizing the HTML5 video tag on certain web browsers.
Flagship product gets pushed beyond rumored window
The Apple Watch will ultimately ship in April, the company has confirmed through a quarterly results call hosted by CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri. The company didn't go into any other details, such as a specific release date. April, however, is even later than the March timeframe mentioned in recent rumors, which themselves suggested a delay from February. Until now Apple has only ever promised an "early 2015" date.
Gigabit Internet service construction to commence in new cities in coming months
Just as expected, Google has revealed the next locations it will be launching Google Fiber, following its existing installations in Kansas City, Provo, and Austin. Confirming earlier reports, the high-speed Internet service will be rolling out in Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte in North Carolina.
Failure to investigate issues with rural landlines costs Verizon dearly
Verizon has agreed to settle an investigation with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over complaints that it itself had failed to investigate issues with rural calls. After admitting its failure, Verizon has agreed to pay a fine of $2 million, as well as implementing a "compliance plan" which involves spending an extra $3 million on sorting out rural call completion issues.
Second major specialist to make same leap
Auction site eBay has poached Bora Chung, a woman who until recently worked on global payments technology for Apple's online stores, says SFGate. It's believed that eBay is building up a new payment platform in anticipation of PayPal being spun off into its own firm later this year. Chung has actually worked for PayPal in the past, having once been chief of staff to Dana Stalder (senior VP of global consumer and merchant services) and Dickson Chu (VP of global products and experiences).
Remarkable reversal in Korean maker's fortunes benefitting Apple
On Tuesday, Apple will reveal its latest figures on its overall sales and general health, but analysts will again focus on one key segment -- Apple's best-selling device, the iPhone -- as the only metric that matters. Two key aspects of that metric, however, may have larger implications than just the quarterly revenues, or a temporary change in Apple's stock value. According to analysts, it is now likely that Apple is selling more iPhones to China now than it is in the US market (where it is market leader by a long way) -- and even more remarkably, that Apple is close to rivaling the total smartphones sales of rival Samsung.
'Outpouring of thoughtful and positive comments' came directly from Comcast
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frequently puts out a call for comments as part of their decision-making process, and usually hears back from concerned citizens as well as "astroturf" industry-funded campaigns. In the case of the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC), however, Comcast posted a thank you to the politicians, organizations and businesses that submitted comments in its favor. An investigation of those letters, however, has revealed a number of politicians who's comments were penned by Comcast employees, and simply signed off on, much like the situation where Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood sent a subpoena to Google which was later discovered to have been written by the MPAA's law firm.
Galaxy S6 with curved display named in code for pre-order page
Rather than wait until March for Samsung to introduce it's newest Galaxy phone, Dutch smartphone enthusiasts at Galaxy Club may have discovered an encouraging bit of information while viewing the page source on Vodafone's Dutch website.
Coinbase Exchange looks to improve stability to cryptocurrency
Coinbase.com, an online Bitcoin wallet site founded in 2012, has announced the start of a new federally-regulated exchange for the digital currency. Coinbase Exchange is available in 24 US states, and stores the user's funds in a special, and now insured, wallet.
Plans to combine Nextel Mexico, Iusacell to improve coverage
AT&T has agreed to buy its second carrier in Mexico, a few months after purchasing Iusacell. The pending acquisition of Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings will cost AT&T $1.875 billion, minus any outstanding debt, with the purchase giving AT&T a considerable foothold in the Mexican wireless market, and expanding its reach further outside the United States.
Claimed lack of justification for proposed FCC broadband speed definition
Cable companies do not believe customers need to have connection speeds faster than 25Mbps, according to a letter sent by a cable lobbying group to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The letter from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) asks that the FCC avoids defining broadband as a 25Mbps downstream, 3Mbps upstream connection, due to a lack of justification.
TSMC will presumably fill in remaining 25 percent
Samsung will indeed be the chief supplier of processors for Apple's next iPhone(s), according to South Korea's Maeil Business Newspaper. The company is expected to take about 75 percent of CPU orders. The paper doesn't mention how much the deal is worth, or who else will be producing chips, but Samsung's manufacturing will reportedly take place at its plant in Austin, Texas, the original home of Apple's A-series processors.
Sprint offers T-Mobile customers $200 minimum trade-ins for switching
Sprint is refocusing its trade-in offer directly against main rival T-Mobile. Running until April 9, Sprint will offer T-Mobile customers a minimum instant trade-in value of $200 for their smartphone if they transfer their number over. Sprint is also allowing the offer to work alongside another promotion, granting up to $350 per line to cover early termination fees or installment billing balances.
Penalties of up to $16,000 could be assessed for each call
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided that Dish Network is liable for making 57 million phone calls in flagrant violation of telemarketing laws, including calling members of the "Do Not Call" list established by the US Government. A trial has been set for July in Illinois, with penalties of up to $16,000 possible for each violation. The Department of Justice filed the complaint at the FTC's request in March 2009. The US Department of Justice, on behalf of the FTC, is jointly litigating the case with four state co-plaintiffs -- California, Illinois, Ohio, and North Carolina.
Chipperfield was VP of Digital and Interactive Design, now on 'Special Projects'
Apple has once again lured a top executive from UK fashion retailer Burberry: following the hiring a year ago of former CEO Dame Angela Ahrendts, the company has brought in former Vice President of Digital and Interactive Design Chester Chipperfield from Burberry to work with the "Special Projects" group at Apple, which is likely to involve the forthcoming Apple Watch. The company also recently hired one of Burberry's social media executives, Musa Tariq, as it continues to build a team of expert fashion merchandisers.
Nearly doubles rival Samsung's sales, equals all combined competition
Apple's share of the US mobile phone market has nearly doubled following the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 in October, a new study has revealed. The report, by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, finds that the iPhone went from 28 percent of the market in the July-to-September quarter to just over 50 percent in the final three months of the year, an improvement even over the same time the year before, when the iPhone 5s was released.
Certification process blamed
The first home automation products based on Apple's HomeKit platform probably won't ship until spring, sources say. Reports note, for instance, that specifications weren't issued to chipmakers until October, and that the MFI licensing program for HomeKit only began in November. More recently, chipmaker Broadcom has been working with some customers to develop HomeKit devices using an existing chip design, in lieu of it having fully-certified software ready.
Companies could potentially pull older music to avoid paying
A new lawsuit has targeted Google, Rdio, Sony, and Apple (including Beats Music) over the music royalties associated with pre-1972 recordings, new reports say. Zenbu Magazines, which owns copyrights on many pre-1972 songs, says that the companies have been making money streaming recordings without paying their copyright holders. Within US copyright law, compositions have been protected since 1831, but sound recordings were only added in 1972, meaning that while owners of pre-1972 compositions have been paid for public performances, people holding equally-aged recording rights typically haven't.
Change complies with US sanctions against Russia
Apple has extended its actions against Russia by blocking authorized retailers from selling or shipping products in Crimea in accordance with sanctions, reports say. The measure was first mentioned on Twitter by blogger and consultant Eldar Murtazin, and then picked up by Russian media. The move follows the ">termination of all developer agreements with Apple and software makers located in the region. The measures take effect on February 1.
Full upgrade to Windows 10 not available for Windows RT devices
Owners of the Microsoft Surface will not receive the full upgrade to Windows 10, but will still benefit from some updates, a report claims. While Microsoft will be making the next version of its operating system available to systems running Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, including the Surface Pro range, the Windows RT-based Surface will be missing out.
Initiative will offer cheaper phones to customers with year of bills paid on time
T-Mobile will be making it easier for any of their customers to buy a new smartphone, by helping those with poor credit. A new initiative called Smartphone Equality will allow customers who have successfully paid their bills on time for the previous 12 months to qualify for their device financing deals, regardless of their credit rating.
Videos on Vessel exclusive for 72 hours, offers creators financial incentives
Vessel, a video streaming service set to take on YouTube, has opened itself up to the public in beta. Unlike Google's video site, Vessel aims to offer professional videos from content creators, including web series and TV segments, with users able to pay a subscription price to watch new releases from videographers they follow before anyone else.
Alleged leaked document suggests Samsung considered BlackBerry purchase for months
Samsung is still interested in acquiring BlackBerry, according to rumor. A document allegedly created by investment bank Evercore Partners for Samsung seems to suggest Samsung has been mulling over a purchase of the competing smartphone producer for some time, and according to sources, is still very much interested in the prospect despite denials from both BlackBerry and Samsung.
Forecast for Q1 2015 places Netflix subscribers at over 61M
Netflix has grown its total audience by 4.33 million subscribers globally, the streaming service revealed in its financial results. The faster increase in viewers compared to the last quarter is reflected in additional subscribers for both US and international markets, 1.9 million and 2.43 million respectively, with the total Netflix audience hitting 57.4 million members.
Chen sees threat to net neutrality from app developers more than carriers
Blackberry CEO John Chen appears to be turning to the US government for help in broadening the app ecosystem for the struggling Canadian handset, as well as railing against a US-centric view of net neutrality and possible Title II regulation at the same time. In a blog post taken in part from a letter the CEO wrote to members of Congress, Chen defines not only what he sees as an ideal path for net neutrality, but also complaining about a "two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem" where content providers like Apple and Netflix are free to not develop for all wireless platforms.
Qualcomm chips dropped due to over-heating issues found in testing
A new report citing unnamed sources has claimed that Samsung will discontinue use of the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor in the forthcoming Galaxy S6 due to quality control issues. The Snapdragon 810 reportedly overheated in testing by Samsung, prompting the switch to the company's own Exynos line of processors, which it has used for certain editions of the flagship phone in the past.
Rumors surface of possible deals again, this time with Sprint and T-Mobile
Earlier today, web newsite The Information released statements from several unnamed sources that Google may begin offering wireless services as early as this year by reselling bandwidth from Sprint and T-Mobile. The rumor isn't anything new -- in fact the site posted a similar story last year, indicating Google would be reselling bandwidth from Sprint and Verizon. In spite of the annual speculation, the Wall Street Journal is also reporting on the subject, with additional information from the FCC.
Republicans deny Internet providers have monopoly; Democrats reluctant to strip FCC of power
As reported last week, the US House of Representatives' Energy & Commerce Committee held a hearing titled "Protecting the Internet and Consumers through Congressional Action." The hearing was to discuss the unnamed draft bill introduced by Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan), head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), head of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the Senate, which purports to "draft a new law for this century" and ensure net neutrality, but strips the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of almost all enforcement authority.