MediaFile

Tech wrap: Apple changes course on iAd

The WSJ.com reports that Apple is softening its approach to its iAd mobile advertising service due to the tepid response as it loses ground to Google in the fast-growing mobile-ad market.

Marketers say they have been turned off by iAd’s high price tag as well as Apple’s hard-charging sales tactics and its stringent control over the creative process which has forced Apple to make some changes.

Facebook is probably not the first place that comes to mind when contemplating new career opportunities.

But Monster.com, the career search website, hopes to change that with BeKnown, a professional networking app that allows users to build their professional identities within Facebook.

Staying with Facebook, Bloomberg reports that the social networking site is planning its first push into mobile advertising by the end of March, giving the company a fresh source of revenue ahead of a possible initial public offering, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Verizon vs Apple: A royal battle

By Aaron Pressman
The opinions expressed are his own.

Last week’s tiff over the Google Wallet app at Verizon Wireless may seem like just another minor dust-up among hardcore phone geeks. But the debate is an opening skirmish in a potentially huge battle, particularly if, as expected, a new iPhone model arrives that runs on Verizon’s high-speed “LTE” Internet service.

At stake is whether seemingly pro-consumer “open platform” rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission to promote choice and innovation on Verizon’s LTE network have any meaning at all.

The rules were supposed to let customers, not carriers, decide which devices and applications they could use on the LTE network. That would seemingly mean that customers who wanted to use the Google Wallet payment app on the Verizon network via the upcoming Galaxy Nexus phone would be allowed to do so.

Tech wrap: Twitter sings about new site

Twitter revamped its website to make the microblogging service easier to use and to help companies better showcase their brands. The new version of Twitter features a redesigned look that the company hopes will make it easier to find interesting content on the service, as well as technological improvements that it said will speed up the service. It also features a revamped profile page, in which a company can highlight specific feature, such as videos or photos. Previously, the profile pages displayed a chronological list of the company’s most recent Tweets.

Apple’s next iPad will be available in February, Business Insider’s Jay Yarrow writes, citing Citi analyst Richard Gardner. The new iPad will feature a screen with twice the resolution of the current model, Yarrow adds.

Verizon Wireless blamed technical problems for an outage on its recently launched high-speed, 4G network, which prevented some U.S. customers from accessing the Internet for about 24 hours. It is at least the second outage since Verizon launched its 4G data service. Trade publication FierceWireless said the company had a major service disruption in April.

Great artists steal, tablet edition

By Aaron Presssman
The opinions expressed are his own.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso via 1994 Steve Jobs

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet seems like the anti-iPad to many. With its chunky design, smaller low resolution screen and occasionally stuttering software interface, the Fire has been blasted by some of the iPad’s biggest fans. And they’ve predicted it too will end up on the growing trash heap of previous iPad competitors that arrived with high expectations only to be found selling on Woot for 75 percent off six months later.

But a lot of people seem to have missed that while this latest creation from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos does not copy the iPad, it flat out steals more than a few of Steve Jobs best ideas. And those pilfered ideas will — pardon the pun — ignite sales of the Fire well past the ranks of the earlier crash and burn crowd and their slavish copies of the iPad’s look and feel.

WebOS: Are we there yet?

It looks like the 600 employees in Hewlett-Packard’s WebOS division will only have to wait a bit longer to know their fate.

New Chief Executive Meg Whitman told French newspaper Le Figaro that she plans to announce her decision on the operating system in the next two weeks.

“This is not an easy decision, because we have a team of 600 people which is in limbo,” she was quoted as saying in French, as per the translation by Google Translate.

Tech wrap: “DingleBerry” rings RIM’s security bell

Three hackers said they had exploited a vulnerability in Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet to gain root access to the device, a claim that could damage the BlackBerry maker’s hard-won reputation for security. The hackers plan to release their data within a week as a tool called DingleBerry. In a response to queries, RIM said it is investigating the claim, and if a jailbreak is confirmed will release a patch to plug the hole. The PlayBook runs on a different operating system than RIM’s current BlackBerry smartphones. However, the QNX system will be incorporated into its smartphones starting next year. The PlayBook in July became the first tablet device to win a security certification approving it for U.S. government use.

Samsung is set to resume selling its Galaxy tablet computer in Australia as early as Friday, after it won a rare legal victory in a long-running global patent war with Apple. An Australian federal court unanimously decided to lift a preliminary injunction, imposed by a lower court, on sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 — but granted Apple a stay on lifting the sales ban until Friday afternoon.

Groupon’s shares rose after CEO Andrew Mason emerged from the company’s post-IPO quiet period to share holiday sales numbers. Groupon sold more than 650,000 holiday deals between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an increase of 500 percent compared with last year, Mason said in a blog post. Groupon closed the trading day up 9.3 percent $17.50.

Tech wrap: Bargain hunting may hurt retailers

Broader bargain hunting driven by budgetary fears may depress overall holiday spending, mitigating any hefty gains retailers reaped from long lines of shoppers snaked around malls across the U.S.

While Black Friday has been the busiest day for years in terms of traffic at stores, it does not always mean that sales will soar for the season. Despite brisk sales right after Thanksgiving, total holiday season sales fell in both 2008 and 2009 when the recession took its hold on America’s wallets.

Shopper-related injuries were popular topics on social networks such as Twitter. A shopper at a Los Angeles-area Walmart used pepper spray on a throng of shoppers and there was a shooting in a Walmart parking lot in the Oakland area.

Tech wrap: Microsoft allowed looks at Yahoo’s books

Microsoft has signed a confidentiality agreement with Yahoo, allowing the software giant to take a closer look at Yahoo’s business, according to a source familiar with the matter. Microsoft joins several private equity firms that are also poring over Yahoo’s books and operations, as they explore various options for striking a deal with the struggling Internet company. Microsoft’s signing of a nondisclosure agreement with Yahoo occurred “recently,” according to the source.

Shares of Groupon fell for a third day , sinking below the company’s initial public offering price of $20 less than three weeks after the daily deal company went public. Groupon raised more than $700 million in an IPO in early November, making it the biggest IPO by a U.S. Internet company since Google raised $1.7 billion in 2004. Analysts have cited concerns about increased competition, a greater availability of the company’s stock for short-selling, and a sharp reversal of market sentiment that is taking down more speculative companies. Groupon shares ended the day down 15.5 percent at $16.96.

Big-Box retailer Best Buy has no regrets about stocking Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet, despite the product’s poor reception and subsequent sharp discounting. RIM says it has shipped 700,000 PlayBooks since its launch, a figure dwarfed by the millions of iPads Apple sells each quarter. “When a product is less successful, you do what you need to do, and you move to the next thing,” Best Buy’s president for the Americas, Mike Vitelli, told Reuters. “That kind of quick reaction by the suppliers, whether it is BlackBerry or HP with their product, I actually think that is good for consumers too,” Vitelli said.

The bearable lightness of tab-lites

As the old saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

But fixing something seems to be what Amazon and Barnes & Noble are doing with new tablets which burnish their stable of e-readers beyond e-ink and into an entirely new arena still dominated by the iPad.

In recent weeks we saw the unveiling of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, a faster/lighter/smarter version of the discounted, year-old Nook Color. With the high-end becoming even higher it’s now possible to pay as little as $80 for Amazon’s entry-level Kindle e-reader and as much as $250 for a Nook Tablet, with plenty of other options in between.

In other words, e-readers have become so widely accepted that there is room for flavors and price points to be all over the map, just like there are a multitude of iPods when there was once only one.

Tech wrap: Is intellectual property being used to restrict competition?

EU regulators investigating Apple and Samsung over their patents dispute are worried intellectual property rights may be unfairly used by some firms against their rivals, the EU antitrust chief said. “We need to look at this because IP rights can be used as a distortion of competition but we will need to look at the answers,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters. “Apple and Samsung is only one case where IP rights can be used as an instrument to restrict competition,” he said.

Netflix’s shares dropped as much as 7 percent after it warned of a loss for 2012, a move that prompted several Wall Street analysts to cut their price targets for the online video and DVD rental company. Netlfix said that it had recently lost a “significant” number of customers, who objected to Netflix’s decisions to raise its prices and split up its streaming and DVD business — an idea it later dropped. “If we do not reverse the negative consumer sentiment toward our brand, and if we continue to experience significant customer cancellations and a decline in subscriber additions, our results of operations including our cash flow will be adversely impacted,” Netflix said. Netflix shares ended the day down 5.4 percent at $70.45.

Groupon stock slumped on concern about increased competition, leaving shares of the largest daily deal company close to their $20 initial public offering price. LivingSocial, Groupon’s closest rival, announced plans on Monday to offer 20 deals with national merchants on the crucial Black Friday shopping period. Groupon shares ended the trading day down nearly 15 percent.