MediaFile

Tech wrap: Apple taps Eddy Cue to boost iAd, iCloud

Apple promoted veteran exec Eddy Cue to oversee Apple’s advertising service called iAd and iCloud, according to a leaked memo published by 9to5Mac. Cue played a major role in creating the Apple online store in 1998, the iTunes Music Store in 2003 and the App Store in 2008, new CEO Tim Cook said in the email to employees.

An Apple employee once again appeared to have lost an unreleased iPhone in a bar, CNET reported. Last year, a misplaced iPhone 4 pre-production model was bought by Gizmodo. Today, two men pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor theft charges relating to that 2010 incident. The latest missing iPhone prototype, which disappeared in San Francisco in late July of this year,  sparked a scramble by Apple security to recover the device over the next few days, CNET wrote, citing a source familiar with the investigation.

A U.S. judge rejected a jury award of $1.3 billion to Oracle in a copyright infringement lawsuit against SAP, paving the way for a possible new trial in a years-long legal dispute. In a ruling released on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton found that Oracle had proven actual damages of only $272 million. She called for a new trial unless Oracle agreed to accept that amount.

An Ohio judge dismissed antitrust claims in a case against Google, handing the company a victory as it faces a separate federal investigation into its search results. MyTriggers.com, an Ohio-based shopping comparison search website, accused Google of giving preferential treatment in its search results to Google’s own services. It also accused Google of making unfair agreements with other sites to exert control over search advertising.

IBM is buying Toronto-based risk analytics software firm Algorithmics for $387 million in cash to enhance its financial services capabilities. IBM said the deal, expected to close before the end of October, expands its business analytics capabilities by helping clients manage financial risk.

Tech wrap: iPhone 5 coming to Sprint in mid-October?

Loyal Sprint customers keen to finally hop on the iPhone bandwagon could be in luck come this fall. The third-largest U.S. wireless carrier will begin offering the iPhone 5 to customers in mid-October, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources. It will be the first version of the popular Apple smartphone to be sold by the company. AT&T and Verizon, already iPhone vedors, will also start selling the new model around the same time, according to the story.

In other iPhone news, Reuters correspondents Kelvin Soh and Clare Jim report that Apple is planning a cheaper version of its current iPhone 4 model to offer to the masses in developing markets such as China as it seeks to gain lower-end customers from rivals such as Nokia. Apple’s Asian suppliers have already begun production of a new lower-cost version of the handset that will come with a smaller, 8-GB flash drive, as opposed to the the 16-GB and 32-GB versions that were released in June 2010, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. So, just how much cheaper will the discount version be? That’s not entirely clear yet, but Yuanta Securities analyst Bonnie Chang had this to say: “Apple may want to push into the emerging market segment, where customers want to switch to low- to mid-end smartphones from high-end feature phones, which usually cost $150 to $200.”

Facebook unveiled a far-reaching overhaul to its privacy controls on Tuesday that will make it easier for users to control who sees their information and what pictures they are tagged in on the social network. Under the new changes, Facebook users will have the option of modifying and changing their privacy settings each time they post something instead being required to browse through to separate sections of the site.

Tech wrap: Android continues world conquest

Google’s Android platform has taken almost 50 percent of the global smartphone market, dominating in the Asia-Pacific region, research firm Canalys said. It was the number one platform in 35 of the 56 countries Canalys tracks, resulting in a market share of 48 percent, the research firm said. By comparison, Apple, which shipped 20.3 million iPhones, is a distant second with a market share of 19 percent but it overtook ailing handset maker Nokia as the world’s largest individual smartphone vendor.

Apple’s next generation iPhone will be unveiled in October, not September, according to a source, writes John Paczkowski at All Things Digital. Other sources said it will be later in the month, rather than earlier, Paczkowski added.

Samsung has agreed to halt sales of the newest version of its Galaxy tablet in Australia until a patent lawsuit brought by Apple in the country is resolved, Bloomberg reported. Samsung will also provide Apple three samples of a new Australian version of Galaxy at least seven days before it plans to start distributing it so the U.S. company can review it, Bloomberg said, citing Australian court documents.

Tech wrap: Now in your Twitter stream – ads

Your Twitter stream could be about to get even more cluttered. Twitter announced in a blog post on Thursday that it will now be placing ads from certain brands and companies directly into the message timelines of users who follow those organizations on the microblogging service. The company said it is testing out the new program with a select group of partners – including Dell, Starbucks and HBO among others – for a few weeks before rolling it out to a wider stable of clients. The new initiative is an expansion of the company’s so-called “Promoted Tweets” program, in which ads show up in search results on the Twitter.com website.

What does the new program mean for users? AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka has this take: “”Depends. Marketers will only be able to deliver the ads — which will use the “Promoted Tweet” format the company rolled out more than a year ago — to users who already follow them on the service. And they’ll only appear on Twitter’s main Twitter.com site. So, if you don’t follow any brands/marketers/companies on Twitter, you won’t see the ads. And if you’re checking Twitter on your iPhone, or via clients like TweetDeck, you won’t see them there, either.”

EA received a thumbs up from antitrust regulators for its deal to buy social gaming startup PopCap Games. EA struck the deal, which is estimated to be worth up to $1.3 billion, to step up its competition with Zynga, the social gaming company behind Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

Tech wrap: Fake Apple Store defiant

Customers at an apparent Apple Store in the Chinese city of Kunming berated staff and demanded refunds after the shop was revealed to be an elaborate fake, sparking a media and Internet frenzy. Staff were also angry at the unwanted attention after more than 1,000 media outlets picked up the story and pictures of the store from the BirdAbroad blog. Apple declined to comment on the fake store or others like it dotted around China.

Apple was in early talks to join the bidding for Hulu, the online video site that Walt Disney Co, News Corp and its other owners have put up for sale, Bloomberg cited two unidentified sources as saying.

Verizon Wireless signed up 1.3 million fewer iPhone customers than AT&T and Verizon Wireless customers spent less per month than expected in the second quarter, disappointing Wall Street. While Verizon Wireless added three times more net subscribers in the quarter than AT&T, it only activated 2.3 million Apple iPhones compared with 3.6 million activations at AT&T.

Tech wrap: Microsoft’s Office shines, Windows lacks luster

Microsoft reported a greater-than-expected 30 percent increase in fiscal fourth-quarter profit, helped by sales of its Office software, but profit from its core Windows product fell on soft PC sales. Microsoft posted net profit of $5.87 billion, or 69 cents per share, compared with $4.52 billion, or 51 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. That easily beat Wall Street’s average estimate of 58 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“These are great results given a slower PC environment and it highlights how the company has multiple revenue streams. The $17 billion unearned revenue, which is a forward indicator of business, shows they signed a lot of deals this quarter,” said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis.

AT&T posted better-than-expected subscriber growth for the second quarter, pushing its profits and sales past Wall Street estimates despite the loss of exclusive U.S. rights to sell the Apple iPhone.

Live Coverage: Apple Q3 earnings call

Surprise. Apple is expected to report another dazzling quarter on Tuesday, propelled by strong demand for its bestseller iPhone and the sleeker iPad 2 tablets.

Apple share rose nearly 2.5 percent on Monday to $373.80 in anticipation of better-than-expected results for the fiscal third-quarter, which saw an easing of the supply constraints surrounding iPad2.

The stock, which touched an all time high of $374.65 earlier in the session, appeared to have emerged out of the limbo it has been since Chief Executive Steve Jobs took leave last January for unspecified medical reasons.

Tech wrap: Apple plugs mobile software hole

Users of Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch mobile devices might want to take a minute to do a software update this weekend. Apple rolled out a security fix for its iOS mobile operating software on Friday that plugs a hole that could allow hackers to gain remote access to those devices. The security flaw was discovered last week after a website released code that Apple customers can use to modify the software through a process known as “jail breaking”.

Google said more than 10 million people have now signed up to the company’s new social networking service, Google+. The Internet giant’s CEO Larry Page announced the new user numbers during the company’s second-quarter earnings call on Thursday, remarking that it has been “very well received, because in real life we share different things with different people.” That’s a reference to one of the service’s many features, Circles, which lets users sort friends into different groups (‘circles’)  and share information based on interests or affiliation. The afterglow following Google’s blockbuster results on Thursday extended into Friday, with the company’s shares surging as much as 13.5 percent at one point.

The much-hyped music streaming service Spotify has finally landed on U.S. shores. The UK-based digital music company rolled out its cloud-based service to a limited group in the United States on Thursday. CNN reports that for now the company is only accepting new members to its free service who receive invites from the company, a sponsor or a current user. Spotify has been a huge success with music lovers in Europe for years, but service problems and extended negotiations with record labels have delayed its U.S. launch.  Fortune’s JP Mangalindan explains why he thinks Spotify deserves all the hype.

Tech wrap: Verizon ditches unlimited data plan

Verizon Wireless customers, say goodbye to the days of  unlimited Web surfing for a set fee on your smartphone. The biggest U.S. mobile provider will stop offering its $30 all-you-can-surf  deal later this week, replacing it with a new tiered approach to data pricing. Customers who keep their smartphone use to 2 gigbytes (GB) of data per month or under won’t see a change to their bill, but those who go over that limit will be slapped with an extra $10 charge per GB. Heavy mobile users will have the option of signing up for a 5 GB or 10 GB plan for $50 or $80 respectively. AT&T made a similar move last year, meaning Sprint is now the last major wireless carrier offering unlimited data use. CNET reports that Verizon will also start charging for access to its mobile hot-spot service, which up until this week has been free and without bandwidth restrictions.

Aspiring cord cutters across Latin America and the Caribbean, rejoice. Netflix is on its way. The company, which offers TV shows and movies over the Internet and DVD rentals through the mail, will be expanding its online video streaming service to 43 countries in the regions later this year. Shows and movies will be available to subscribers in Spanish, Portuguese or English on PCs, Macs and other mobile devices that are able to stream from Netflix, the company said in a blog post. The overseas expansion marks the company’s second foray outside the United States. It began offering its services in Canada last year.

You’ve heard it before and now you’ll hear it again – the next iteration of Apple’s iPhone is on its way this September. Supply-side sources told Asian IT industry newspaper DigiTimes that Taiwan-based notebook maker Pegatron Technology has received an order to make 15 million iPhone 5/iPhone 4 handsets that are set to ship sometime in September.  The iPhone 5 is not expected to differ much from the previous model on the surface, according to the report. As AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski points out, the real differences are expected to be “under the hood” where you’ll find a faster processor and better rear camera among other improvements.

Tech wrap: And Myspace goes to . . .

News Corp’s hunt to find a buyer for once-mighty social networking website Myspace has finally ended. Specific Media, an online advertising firm, has agreed to buy the site for about $35 million, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters. News Corp will retain a minority 5 percent stake in the website it purchased six years ago for $580 million. More than half of the site’s 500 employees are expected to be laid off as part of the deal.

Tech watchers will have to wait at least another sleep to find out more about Zynga’s plans for an initial public offering. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the online social gaming firm behind popular Facebook game FarmVille is expected to file for an initial public offering with U.S. regulators on Thursday morning. Earlier reports suggested the company could raise up to $2 billion in the offering and value the firm as high as $20 billion. AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher sizes up how Zynga’s expected IPO fits in with other recent filings from similar companies such as Groupon.

Twitter’s Biz Stone and Evan Williams are leaving the site they co-founded and helped popularize – sort of. Both men will continue to advise Twitter on strategic matters but will spend the bulk of their days working at the newly-revived Obvious, the tech incubator company they started years ago that led to the creation of Twitter. Stone summed up their new plans in a blog posting on his website: “Our plan is to develop new projects and work on solving big problems aligned along a simple mission statement: The Obvious Corporation develops systems that help people work together to improve the world.”