MediaFile

Tech wrap: Samsung to take smartphone crown

Samsung will become the world’s largest smartphone maker this quarter followed by Apple, overtaking struggling Nokia which has lead the market since 1996, Nomura said. Research firms Gartner and Canalys both said they saw Nokia — which created the smartphone market with its 1996 launch of the Communicator model — losing smartphone volume leadership later this year.

Facebook is preparing to file for an initial public offering as early as October or November that could value the social networking site at more than $100 billion, CNBC reported. Goldman Sachs is leading the chase to manage the offering, which could come in the first quarter of 2012, CNBC said.

The Wall Street Journal’s Shira Ovide sums up what is known about Facebook’s IPO. Perhaps one of the most interesting facts is only a couple dozen U.S. companies, such as Exxon Mobil, GE and J.P. Morgan Chase, have stock-market values above $100 billion.

Google  plans to buy online advertising company AdMeld to grab a larger slice of the market for graphical display ads. Google did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, although TechCrunch reported last week that Google paid roughly $400 million, citing anonymous sources.

Governments, multinational corporations and global institutions are losing the battle against computer hackers and must combine their resources if they are to lock out cyber intruders, experts say. The International Monetary Fund has joined Sony and Google on a growing list of hacking victims but it is hard to identify the culprits who consistently manage to keep one technological step ahead of their pursuers. “This is an example of technology developing faster than the frameworks and sometimes the regulations around that,” said Unilever chief executive Paul Polman on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting in Jakarta.

Apple and Twitter: A New Power Duo?

One big winner coming out of Apple’s developers’ conference on Monday is Twitter.

Apple announced that the Internet microblogging service will be integrated directly into future versions of the iPhone and iPad software.

That means iPhone users can quickly publish information on Twitter by tapping on a photo taken with the iPhone’s camera, or by tapping on a news article in the phone’s Web browser.

Tech wrap: Steve Jobs pitches Apple’s iCloud

Apple CEO Steve Jobs emerged from medical leave to launch an Internet-based service for consumers called the iCloud, which lets users play their music and get access to their data from any Apple device. Jobs walked briskly onstage after James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” blasted over the sound system, but shared the spotlight with other Apple execs who showcased Apple’s enhancements to its PC operating system and mobile platform.

Jobs laid out his vision for the iCloud with the elminiation of MobileMe, a subscription-based collection of online services and software. Jobs said the iCloud will allow people to share book purchases, music and data in general, such as calendar items, across different devices, while backing up and updating information regularly.

Among the new features for Apple’s OS X Lion operating software were an improved email infrastructure and multi-touch features. Early impressions by experts watching the presentations were favorable.

Tech wrap: Apple’s iCloud on the horizon

Apple will pay between $100 million and $150 million to the four major music labels in order to get its music streaming service iCloud started, according to the New York Post.

Besides increasing the consumer appeal of future Apple gadgets because they’ll need less computer memory, the company’s iCloud service will make it more likely that subscribers will stick with Apple products, Robert Cyran writes. If users store data and programs remotely, devices blend together, Cyran argues.

Together with colleagues and analysts, I’ll be covering Steve Jobs’s keynote speech at Apple’s WWDC live on Monday at 10:00 a.m. PT (1:00 p.m. ET). Chime in at: http://live.reuters.com/Event/Apples_2011_WWDC_Keynote_Speech

Tech wrap: Groupon offers itself to the public

Online coupon company Groupon filed for an initial public offering of up to $750 million, the latest in a series of Internet companies to tap the U.S. capital markets. In April, a source told Reuters that Groupon could raise as much as $1 billion in the IPO, which could value the fast-growing daily deals site at $15 billion to $20 billion. The IPO filing did not specify the number of shares to be sold in the IPO, the price range, or the exchange, though it did say the shares would trade under the symbol “GRPN.”

Groupon is losing an astounding amount of money, but generating an equally impressive amount of revenue, writes Silicon Alley Insider’s Jay Yarrow. In the first three months of 2011, it had a net loss of $114 million. For all of 2010, its loss was $414 million. For the first three months this year it generated $645 million in revenue, a 1,366 percent increase from the year prior, when it generated $44 million, adds Yarrow.

The hacker group calling itself Lulz Security said that it broke into servers that run the SonyPictures.com website, and then compromised the personal information of more than 1 million Sony customers. Lulz Security said in a statement posted on its website that it hacked into a database that included unencrypted passwords as well as names, address and birth dates of Sony’s customers.

Tech wrap: Google reveals Gmail hacking

Google revealed that unknown hackers likely originating from central China tried to hack into the Gmail accounts of hundreds of users, including senior U.S. government officials, Chinese activists and journalists. Google said on its official blog that the hackers, who appeared to originate from Jinan, China, recently tried to crack and monitor email accounts by stealing passwords, but Google detected and “disrupted” the campaign.

More than 80 percent of the companies that advertise on Twitter renew their marketing efforts on the microblogging service, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said. The company counts roughly 600 advertisers, up from 150 advertisers at the end of 2010. And while Twitter has stepped up efforts to build an advertising business, Costolo said Twitter was not under pressure to boost revenue and that the Internet company’s long-term success was not “correlated” to an initial public offering of Twitter’s stock.

Analysts predicted more gloom ahead for Nokia and the struggling phone maker was forced to deny talk it would sell its core business to Microsoft. The company’s stock fell as much as 10 percent but recovered in late trading, sparked by a website report that said its software partner Microsoft would buy out its phones business for $19 billion. Nokia called the report “100 percent baseless.” Microsoft declined to comment.

Tech wrap: Steve Jobs is back, maybe

Apple’s Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who spent months on medical leave, will open an annual developers’ conference on June 6 showcasing the iPad maker’s latest computer software and a new cloud computing service. But it’s unclear if he’s returning from medical leave or simply kicking off the conference.

Jobs and his team plan to unveil a new cloud-based service called iCloud, which will offer remote computing and data over the Internet, and a slew of software upgrades at the conference including Lion, its Mac OS X computer operating system, and iOS 5, the next version of its mobile operating system.

Nokia abandoned hope of meeting key targets just weeks after setting them, raising questions over whether its new boss can deliver on the turnaround he promised in February.  The news sent its shares tumbling 18 percent to their lowest in 13 years, wiping some $5.5 billion off its market value. Investors are worried the company, once the leading force in its industry, is losing so much market share it may never regain its footing.

Tech wrap: EBay sues Google in mobile payment war

EBay and its online payment unit, PayPal, sued Google and two executives for stealing trade secrets related to mobile payment systems, highlighting the growing battle between companies vying for a major stake in what has been described as a $1 trillion opportunity. The two executives, Osama Bedier and Stephanie Tilenius, were formerly with PayPal and led the launch on Thursday of Google’s own mobile payment system in partnership with MasterCard, Citigroup and Sprint.

The personal information of more than 283,000 customers at Honda Canada was breached, the company confirmed on Friday. The company said the stolen data included names, addresses, vehicle identification numbers and in some cases financing account numbers, but was not the type that would typically be used for identity theft or fraud.

Sony said it will start restoring its PlayStation videogame network in Japan and elsewhere in Asia on Saturday, more than a month after a massive security breach leaked personal details on tens of millions of accounts. Sony also said it plans to testify before U.S. lawmakers at a hearing on data security in Washington on June 2 to address the breech.

Tech wrap: Microsoft backs Ballmer

Microsoft’s board stood behind CEO Steve Ballmer, defending its longtime leader after influential hedge fund manager David Einhorn touched off a debate by calling for his dismissal. The fund manager, who made his name warning about the financial health of Lehman Brothers before the investment bank’s collapse, accused Ballmer on Wednesday evening of being stuck in the past, launching the sharpest attack yet by a high-profile investor against the company’s leadership.

Google and four bank and telecom partners unveiled “Google Wallet” and “Google Offers”, taking U.S. shoppers a step closer to paying by waving their mobile phones at the checkout counter. Designed to work as an app on Android phones, it hitches a ride on MasterCard’s “PayPass” technology, which lets shoppers tap cards for payment. Google has signed up retailers including Macy’s, American Eagle Outfitters and Subway to blend the service with loyalty programs and discount offers.

Google, MasterCard, Citigroup, First Data and Sprint will make the service available this summer to people in New York and San Francisco.

Tech wrap: Twitter swallows TweetDeck

Twitter confirmed that it has bought TweetDeck, a popular third-party software application that organizes tweets, the short messages delivered through the online social network. Terms were not disclosed but a source told Reuters earlier this month that a deal for up to $50 million was imminent.

Twitter will seek to notify its users so they can defend themselves before it hands over user information to the authorities, a senior manager said when asked about a privacy dispute in Britain. Users have posted details on Twitter of celebrity scandals, in contravention of so-called super injunctions and could face an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison.

“Platforms should have responsibility not to defend the user, but to protect that user’s right to defend him or herself,” said Tony Wang, general manager of Twitter’s European operations.