? All Tech Radio Episode 399
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  • Microsoft reportedly is headed for a major organizational restructuring as the company continues its march toward becoming a devices-and-services company. If the latest rumors are any indication, Microsoft will focus on at least three major categories in the coming years: cloud-connected services, online communications, and all things Xbox. AllThingsD reported on Monday that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is hard at work on a significant reorganization for the company that will boost at least three execs into "more prominent roles." The reorganization report comes on the heels of the news that Microsoft CIO Tony Scott has left the company. Ballmer last October famously said in his annual letter to shareholders that Microsoft was transitioning from a traditional software company into a devices-and-services business. "This is a significant shift, both in what we do and how we see ourselves-as a devices-and-services company," Ballmer wrote. "It impacts how we run the company, how we develop new experiences, and how we take products to market for both consumers and businesses."
  • Password tattoos or the mark of the beast? The technology, which aims to remove the need to enter passwords and replace them simply with a phone being close to a user's body, was one of the suggestions Dennis Woodside, Motorola's chief executive, California's D11 conference yesterday. The tattoos have been developed by Massachusetts-based engineering firm MC10, and contain flexible electronic circuits that are attached to the wearer's skin using a rubber stamp. By simply waving the phone, tablet or computer near the tattoo the user will be authnitcaed and the device will let you access it. Motorola is also investigating the Proteus Digital Health pill, which has already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and was given European regulatory approval in 2010. Its computer chip is powered by a battery using the acid in a user's stomach. The pill creates a unique signal like an ECG trace that can be picked up by devices outside the body and which could be used to verify a user's identity
  • The United States government and Apple are set to face off this Monday in a federal court in Manhattan over allegations that Apple conspired with book publishers to make consumers pay more for electronic books. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote will be the one hearing the case. This trial stems from the Justice Department antitrust lawsuit filed last year which accused Apple of meeting with book publishers in 2009 to come up with the price fixing scheme. This happened before the launching of the iPad. The scheme was planned to force Amazon to raise the prices of their popular e-book titles which was set at $9.99. This cost tens of millions of dollars to consumers who paid an additional of $2 to $5 for the price of each e-book. Here's the weird part: The United States government is not seeking any damages but instead just an order prohibiting Apple from engaging in similar conduct. If the company is found liable in this case then they could still face damages in a separate class action suit from consumers.
  • Beleaguered game maker Zynga zapped 520 jobs today in a deep cost-cutting move that deepens questions about its future. The company, based here, said it will lay off 18% of its workforce worldwide and shutter offices. It did not say where, but sources said they are in Los Angeles, Dallas and New York. Zynga says the move, which should be completed by August, will save it $70 million to $80 million. Zynga on Monday said it anticipates a second-quarter loss of $28.5 million to $39 million. The news sent Zynga shares tumbling 12%, to $2.99.
  • Apple devices, from Macs to iPhones, have always been able to boast of advanced safety from viruses, spam and the like. Now, apparently, not even your phone charger is safe. A team of researchers from Georgia Tech say they've discovered, and can demonstrate, a way to hack into an iPhone or iPad in less than a minute using a "malicious charger." The team plans to demonstrate its findings at the Black Hat computer security conference, which begins July 27 in Las Vegas. In a preview of its presentation, the team acknowledges Apple's "plethora of defense mechanisms in iOS." Historically, Mac users have been able to boast of being largely malware free, in part because spammers, scammers and hackers preferred to target the larger number of Windows computers in the world.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple Inc. has signed a licensing deal with Warner Music Group for the rights to its recorded music and music publishing, consenting to terms on the publishing side that other big music publishers have been trying to get, according to people familiar with the matter. According to the deal, Apple will offer Warner Music Group's publishing group 10% of ad revenue, which is double what Pandora Media Inc. gives to major music publishers. The WSJ reports: "Apple has signed a deal with Universal Music Group for its recorded music rights but not its publishing rights, while Apple remains far apart on negotiations with both Sony Music Entertainment and Sony's separate publishing arm, Sony/ATV, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple is unlikely to launch the product without striking these deals." There is speculation that Apple is preparing to announce its new streaming music service on June 10 at its annual developers conference in San Francisco.
  • The US Department of Justice accused the technology giant of "knowingly and intentionally" corralling publishers to raise the price of ebooks from the $9.99 Amazon had established as standard, and to force Amazon to follow suit by withholding key titles if it refused to comply. The government agency cited scores of emails and handwritten memos from Apple and five different publishers - Hachette, Harper Collins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan - in which they spoke openly about a plan to push prices up to $12.99 or $14.99 across the entire industry. On Monday, as proceedings got under way in room 15b of the austere Manhattan court, Apple lawyers fought to be able to disregard that evidence, unless the Department of Justice was willing to nominate a ?sponsor? for each message used, who was willing to be cross-examined.
  • Microsoft's Windows Phone is still an underdog in the smartphone market, but it's starting to put up a decent fight. Windows Phone accounted for 5.6 percent of all U.S. smartphone sales over the three-month period that ending April 13, according to Kantar Worldpanel . That's up from 3.8 percent a year earlier. Kantar's data is based on continuous surveys of more than 240,000 consumers.
  • Acer's Computex press conference can be summed up in a single word: touch. Acer announced several new products including what it billed as the industry's first 8-inch Windows 8 tablet, a 6-inch phablet and updates to its Aspire S3 and S7 laptops-all equipped with touchscreens. This comes on the heels of a recent event in New York where Acer announced several products with touchscreens including the unusual Aspire R7 15.6-inch convertible. Acer CEO JT Wang said that Acer is squarely focused on developing the best tablets and touch-enabled laptops. "Users are becoming smarter and demand a significant improvement in the user experience," he said. "If you don't do that, they won't buy." The biggest news was the Iconia W3 Windows 8 tablet. Both Intel and Microsoft have talk extensively about the need for smaller, lower-priced Windows devices to compete with Apple's iPad Mini and inexpensive Android tablets. The Iconia W3-810 has an 8.1-inch display (1280x800), Intel's 1.8GHz Atom Z2760 dual-core processor (Clover Trail), 2GB of memory, and either 32- or 64GB of storage. It also has a microSD slot for expansion as well as micro- HDMI and USB.
  • Bloomberg reports that Microsoft Corp. is reducing the cost of its Windows software for tablets, hoping to strengthen its position to combat Apple Inc. in the mobile-computing market, according to people having knowledge of the matter. Microsoft is applying the changes in an attempt to have more manufacturers take up Windows RT, a version of its flagship software for tablets. Microsoft has found it difficult to lessen Apple and Google Inc.'s stronghold in the $64 billion tablet market, a year since launching the first Windows RT machines

email from listeners:

  • Jodi from Illinois asks "What will I be able to replace in my living room with the next Xbox release?"