MediaFile

Tesla close to selling out of Model S Signature Edition

Tesla hasn’t even made them available to customers yet, but the electric carmaker is almost out of the most elite version of its already-elite sedan– the Model S Signature Edition.

A spokesman says that the company is “pretty close to selling out” on the Signature Edition, on which it has said it will only take 1,000 orders. The company declined to say how close it was to that limit, but the spokesman said he expected that the release of its pricing and options packages yesterday would spur more customers to choose the Signature.

Tesla said the Model S would start at $49,900 after a $7,500 tax break. But at that price, customers will have to wait until the end of next year before dazzling onlookers with their new wheels.

Availability comes faster for customers who opt for higher-end vehicles like the Signature Edition, with a post-tax rebate base price starting at $87,900, and the Performance edition, at $79,900. Those come with 85 kilowatt hour batteries– meaning they can go up to 300 miles on a charge– and start delivery in the summer.

The company’s Tesla Roadster, which hit highways in 2007, had a 100-vehicle Signature edition. It sold out in three weeks.

Glimpses of Carol Bartz legacy in Yahoo’s rollout of expanded Facebook integration

Yahoo is expanding its Facebook “frictionless sharing” capabilities, letting users of its entertainment websites automatically broadcast their reading habits across Facebook’s social network.

Yahoo websites including Yahoo Movies, Yahoo TV and omg! – Yahoo’s celebrity gossip site – will now offer the type of Facebook integration that Yahoo introduced for Yahoo News earlier this year.

If you opt-in and choose to use the social sharing feature, every time you read an article on one of those websites, the name of the article and a link is instantly beamed into the newsfeed of all your Facebook friends.

The value of Google’s Firefox browser deal

Google has thrown the creators of the Firefox Web browser a lifeline.

On Tuesday, Firefox-maker Mozilla announced that it had renewed a “mutually beneficial revenue agreement” with Google for at least three more years.

The deal basically means that Google remains the default search engine built-in to the Firefox Web browser, a privilege for which Google pays Mozilla an unspecified fee.

Since Google signed the original deal in 2004, the search giant has introduced its own Web browser, dubbed Google Chrome. And with Chrome now used by one in four Web surfers, speculation had grown that Google might not renew the Firefox licensing deal, depriving the non-profit Mozilla of a vital revenue source (according to AllThingsD, which broke the news of Tuesday’s deal renewal, Google contributed 84 percent of Mozilla’s $123 million in 2010 revenue).

In Super Bowl streaming deal, Verizon scores again

What a delightful week this is turning out to be for Verizon. First, archrival AT&T decides it will ditch its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile USA (as if they weren’t grinning madly in the halls of Verizon’s Art Deco building down on West Street) and then they get a piece of this NBC deal to stream the Super Bowl.  No doubt, in the greater scheme of things the AT&T news trumps the streaming deal — but every little thing helps in the crazy competitive telecoms world.

Here’s the upshot: For the first time NFL postseason games — including the Super Bowl — will be streamed live online over NFL.com and NBCSports.com and over mobile devices through an app supplied by Verizon.  This is NBC’s deal;  Fox tells us they have “no similar plans” while we’re CBS declined to comment on whether they would do a streaming deal..

The advantage for Verizon is clear: It’s just one more differentiator. (Verizon has really been on a roll lately. Beyond the events mentioned above, they swooped in to buy a ton of cable spectrum for $3.6 billion and made headlines with their plans to take on Netflix with a streaming service).

Tech wrap: D.Telekom may be forced to play with Sprint

Deutsche Telekom may be forced into a tie-up of its sub-scale U.S. wireless unit with Sprint Nextel after a $39 billion deal with AT&T collapsed.

AT&T said on Monday it had dropped its bid for T-Mobile USA, bowing to fierce regulatory opposition and leaving both companies scrambling for alternatives.

The collapse of AT&T’s deal to buy D.Telekom’s U.S. wireless unit may be welcome news for network equipment makers, as money earmarked for the merger will be freed up for investments.

Facebook: home (at last) for the holidays

Courtesy: Facebook

Since it was created in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, Facebook has moved its homebase around many times, relocating to the West coast and bouncing from building to building in Silicon Valley as its ranks have grown.

Now the company has finally settled down. Facebook said it had completed the move into its new corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, with the final wave of employees reporting for duty at the new office Monday morning.

Following the standard script for Web company “new office” announcements, Facebook proudly catalogued the various perks and cool design motifs on offer at its new digs in a blog post. Among the highlights: “micro kitchens;” exposed ductwork; breakaway “cozie” spaces with couches; and hallways coated in special chalkboard paint (one imagines engineers abruptly stopping mid-walk to passionately scrawl some cryptic formula on the wall, a la Goodwill Hunting).

Tech wrap: AT&T, T-Mobile pull plug on mega-merger

AT&T said it had agreed with Deutsche Telekom to drop its $39 billion bid to buy the German company’s U.S. wireless unit amid increasing regulatory obstacles to the planned deal. AT&T said in a statement on Monday that it will enter a roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom. AT&T’s plan to buy T-Mobile USA, first announced in March, has met with opposition from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.

The upstart wireless company that is being bankrolled by Philip Falcone’s $5 billion Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund could run out of money during the second quarter of 2012, according to the company’s financial statement. LightSquared, which registered a $427 million net loss during the first nine months of this year, may not be able to “continue as a going concern” unless it can raise additional capital and financing, the statement reviewed by Reuters said.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire and an investor in some of the world’s top companies, has bought a stake in microblogging site Twitter for $300 million, gaining another foothold in the global media industry. The Twitter stake, bought jointly by Alwaleed and his Kingdom Holding Co investment firm, was a secondary market transaction, meaning that Alwaleed and Kingdom bought the Twitter shares from existing shareholders, rather than making a direct investment, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Cablevision also joins Time Warner Cable with HBO Go offer

True Blood actors Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin (Photo: Reuters)

After months of speculation we now know ad nauseum that cable markets of New York and Los Angeles will soon have HBO Go, HBO’s much acclaimed online video service. New York cable operator Cablevision said on Monday it will start offering HBO Go to its HBO subscribers in the next few months. Time Warner Cable, which dominates the New York City and Los Angeles markets, made a similar announcement late on Friday.

It’s worth repeating that HBO Go’s slick Web service and extensive library of exclusive TV shows and movies is only available to verified paying HBO cable subscribers and not as a standalone service. But even then it is significant for the strategy of HBO parent — Time Warner — to counter Netflix’s rise by offering a more flexible and mobile HBO service wherever and whenever subscribers want it.

The delays to offering the service to Time Warner Cable and Cablevision subscribers, was down to money (Quelle surprise!). While cable operators recognize the importance of offering additional value to programming packages by putting authenticated programming online — beyond the traditional TV package — they don’t always feel they need to pay too much extra over what they already pay.

If Spotify fails, blame the Internet’s grim economics

If anyone has a serious beef with the music labels, it’s Michael Robertson. Robertson took MP3.com public in 1999, only to later to pay tens of millions of dollars to labels that sued the startup, claiming storing songs on servers infringed their copyrights. Fast forward to today: A new wave of music startups like Spotify, MOG and Rdio stream songs from servers with the labels’ blessings. It might all be above board now, but the labels are still bleeding the digital-music services dry.

That was Robertson’s claim in an detailed and elegant jeremiad against the big labels. He claims that Spotify and its peers will never make a profit because of secret, onerous terms that act as a financial straightjacket for the startups, snoop on their users’ data and border on collision. Others were quick to suggest that it’s the music-streaming services that are being stingy. After all, by some calculations, an artist could have a song streamed 4 million times on Spotify and make just $1,200

So who is right? Both. And that’s bad for everyone. Music labels, being greedy music labels, want a profit. Desperate for a piece of a music-streaming market that isn’t going away, they are asking for everything they can in the name of rewarding artists (and investors). But the digital music services like Spotify need a low subscription fee – usually $10 to $15 a month for an all-you-can-eat plan – to build a critical mass of subscribers.

‘Sherlock Holmes’ sequel leads slower box office

Action adventure film “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” led a trio of sequels at the box office over another underwhelming weekend that saw ticket sales fall from last year.

Robert Downey Jr.’s follow-up to the 2009 hit “Sherlock Holmes” pulled in an estimated $54.7 million around the world, distributor Warner Bros. said on Sunday.  

That included $40 million from the United States and Canada, where the movie topped the domestic charts, plus $14.7 million from six international markets.