Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), the second-largest U.S. phone company, is "very serious" about a bid to acquire online movie provider Netflix Inc. (NFLX), an investment banker said. Verizon may kick off a bidding war for streaming-video pioneer Netflix that could result in a sale by Easter for about $4.6 billion, said Porter Bibb, managing partner at Mediatech Capital, in a television interview on "Bloomberg West," citing unnamed people within Verizon. "I am hearing rumblings from inside Verizon that they are very serious about either Netflix or something similar," Bibb said. Chief Executive Officer Lowell McAdam told an investor conference on Dec. 7 that the company aims to move beyond its Fios TV service into the streaming-video business.
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) elevated two executives to key positions overseeing projects related to mobile operating systems, a move that comes as the software giant races to gain relevancy in the smartphone and tablet spaces. Andrew Lees has been elevated to a new position overseeing the development of the Windows Phone software and Windows 8, the combined computer-and-tablet operating system the company expects to release in 2012. Lees had previously been in charge of the unit developing Windows Phone. Terry Myerson will assume the vacancy created by Lees's promotion. Myerson had been a corporate vice president in charge of engineering for Windows Phone. The changes, announced in an email to Microsoft staff by Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, come as the Redmond, Wash.-based company struggles to gain traction in the fast-growing mobile market. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system for smartphones received critical praise, but hasn't gained traction with consumers, who prefer phones running Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android system or Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone device. Microsoft has almost no presence in the tablet computer market.
There's good reason for tablet and personal computer manufacturers to be afraid of the Amazon Kindle Fire: it's zippy, it's lightweight, it supports Android apps and direct streaming of Amazon's Instant Videos. Oh and it's really cheap too, making it one heck of a deal this holiday season... and why online and local retailers are having a hard time keeping units in stock. If anything, the Kindle Fire -- not to mention HP's TouchPad which sold out again on Sunday in just twenty minutes -- indicates that consumers want a powerful handheld for surfing, playing games, consuming media and socializing without having to pay laptop and desktop-sized fees. That said, there's a dark side to the Kindle Fire phenomena. Consumers lucky enough to get their hands on a unit before Christmas might actually want to test the device first before wrapping it all up in a pretty bow and sticking it under the tree. Based on first-hand experience, the device can brick itself after installing the initial firmware update.
The game's publisher, Activision Blizzard, announced that the latest release in the first-person shooting series surpassed the $1 billion mark in just 16 days since its Nov. 8 debut. By comparison, last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops did not exceed $1 billion in sales until about a month after its release. That game went on to become the top-selling video game of all time, with more than 25 million copies sold.
A patent fight between Apple Inc. and HTC Corp. over smartphone technology awaits decisions this week from a U.S. trade agency that may lead to a ban on imports of some HTC devices. The International Trade Commission commission is scheduled to announce tomorrow whether HTC infringed patents owned by Apple. A decision in Apple's favor may result in limits on imports of some HTC phones that run on Google Inc.'s Android operating system. On Dec. 16, the commission is scheduled to say whether it will review a judge's finding that cleared Apple of claims it infringed some HTC patents. Each company has accused the other of using its technology without permission in a broader global fight over the smartphone market pitting Apple against makers of Android phones. Tomorrow's decision, postponed from last week, would mark the first definitive ruling from a judicial entity in Apple's patent war against HTC and fellow Android-phone makers Samsung Electronics Co. and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.
Angry Birds celebrated its second birthday on December 11, and marked the occasion with an update to version 2.0 of the game. Rovio, the creator of the incredibly popular casual gaming phenomenon, has got plenty to celebrate too, boasting 500 million game downloads, the sale of 10 million toys and a company value of more than $1 billion. Angry Birds 2.0 is available through the iTunes App Store as a free update right now, and it contains 15 special birthday-themed new levels plus all 300 existing levels have been unlocked, allowing any players stuck on a particularly cunning stage to advance unimpeded. As it has become so much more than just another mobile game, it's fitting that "birdday" should be commemorated elsewhere too, and sure enough several retailers will be putting on special events and promotions this week. In the USA, Toys 'R' Us will be offering 25 percent off their Angry Birds plush toys, while selected Barnes & Noble stores held scavenger hunts on Sunday and will offer a Red Bird cookie in their coffee shops. In the UK, Forbidden Planet will be carrying Angry Birds products previously unavailable in the country.
In case you're questioning reports of a tablet epidemic in healthcare, take a look at stats from a QuantiaMD survey. Thirty percent of doctors use a tablet device, compared with just 5% of U.S. consumers, the online physicians' forum said. Of tablet-using physicians, two-thirds, equivalent to 19% of all physicians, use their tablet in a clinical setting. Another 35% of doctors surveyed say they're "extremely likely" to use a tablet in the next few years to help their practice. That sounds like a fever to me. It's probably no surprise to most health IT managers to hear that Apple's iPad tops the list of tablets that clinicians want to use. But if your clinicians are hot for an iPad, my advice is take two aspirins and call me in the morning.
On Sunday evening, HP put the (allegedly) final batch of its discontinued TouchPad tablets on sale for cheap on its eBay store. Less than 30 minutes later, they were all sold out, and I was left slate-less, yet again. HP entered into its great tumult of 2011 in August--a drama that has been covered in great detail on CNET--and one of the final stages of the corporate carnage came when the company began selling warehouses full of TouchPads for as low as $99. What ensued was a digital crush of bargain-hunting nearly as ugly as a Wal-Mart on Black Friday, but without the pepper spray.
Motorola is taking another shot at the tablet game with the Droid Xyboard, the company's latest Android device to hit Verizon stores. After getting our hands on one this afternoon, we found that it's a solid, well-performing slate that's easy on the eyes. Too bad it has such a stupid name. The 4G Xyboard is Motorola's follow-up to its pricey, not terribly popular Xoom tablet, which was released in February. Available in 8.2-inch and 10.1-inch versions, the Honeycomb-powered Xyboard enters the market hot on the heels of the super-hot Kindle Fire. It's on sale today for $430 (for the 8.2-inch) or $530 (for the 10.1-inch) with a two-year contract from Verizon, with options for 16GB or 32GB of memory on the smaller version, and up to 64GB on the larger one. The first thing that struck me about the Xyboard is its industrial design. Rather than being perfectly rectangular in shape, the 8.2-inch slate has clipped corners, which actually makes it fit more comfortably when you hold it one-handed. The back, too, shows some stylistic creativity. A rubberized outer rim houses a power button and volume rocker, while centered in the back of the tablet is a sheet of dark gray brushed metal held in place by six visible screws. Think robot chic.
Today's electronics-themed Google Doodle celebrates the life of Robert Noyce, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel who came to be known to many as the "Mayor of Silicon Valley." The new doodle is a return to more tech-focused Google Doodles in a year that's seen doodles for music artists like Les Paul and Freddy Mercury. Noyce's best known accomplishment is his work as a co-creator of the microchip, so the doodle is the Google logo imprinted on one of the chips that Noyce helped create.
email from listeners:
Kim from Portland asks "Can I add more memory to a tablet if I run out of space?"