MediaFile

Tech wrap: New Apple iMacs built for speed

Apple refreshed its lineup of iMac computers with new Intel processors that it says are up to 70 percent faster and with USB-like ports that are up to 20 times as fast. Thunderbolt ports support displays and devices. The new iMacs also feature a new HD Web camera. Apple said the iMacs are on sale online and at its retail stores starting at $1,199.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer faced harsh criticism of his leadership after the company revealed hackers may have stolen the data of another 25 million accounts in a second massive security breach. The breach of the Sony Online Entertainment PC games network may also have led to the theft of 10,700 direct debit records from customers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain and 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers, Sony said. Investors said Sony and Stringer had botched the data security crisis. “The way Sony handled the whole thing goes to show that it lacks the ability to manage crises,” Michael On of Beyond Asset Management in Taipei said.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that RIM will use Microsoft’s Bing search engine and maps as default options on its new BlackBerry devices. RIM’s move, coupled with its close partnership with Adobe Systems, sketches out a strategy of cooperation in a mobile market now dominated by Apple and Google. The strategy illustrates that the mobile market is entering a new phase that focuses on feature consolidation and “co-opetition,” writes GigaOM’s Kevin Tofel. The old strategy, which lasted from 2007 until recently, focused on new platforms, user interfaces and the emergence of the mobile app economy, Tofel adds.

Google is violating the spirit of the open access it bid $4.6 billion to protect by making tethering apps unavailable at its Android Market, writes Chris Ziegler. DroidLife’s Kellex wrote last week that tethering apps were unavailable for all of his phones running on AT&T’s network. Engadget yesterday found no tethering apps available on the Android Market for phone networks running on AT&T and T-Mobile and only one on Verizon. Tethering apps make it easier for users to circumvent the official tethering capabilities offered on smartphones that carry a plan surcharge.

Twitter made an offer to acquire TweetDeck, the popular third-party software application for Twitter and other social networking services, for up to $50 million, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The deal would give Twitter an application that has won praise among sophisticated users for its slick interface and enhanced capabilities, while closing out a potential threat to Twitter’s fast-growing service.

Tech wrap: How bold is the new BlackBerry?

RIM showed off a new version of its BlackBerry Bold phone with upgraded software, aiming to regain its stride after last week’s profit warning and other recent stumbles. RIM also said it will manage corporate and government communications sent using Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and devices running Google’s Android software, through its secure BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

The BlackBerry Bold Touch, the model most geared toward the business market, has a 2.8-inch screen and retains the company’s trademark physical qwerty keyboard with a 1.2 GHz processor. It will ship with a near-field communication (NFC) chip, allowing the phone to be used as a mobile wallet, executives said at the annual BlackBerry World conference in Orlando. The Bold Touch running on Blackberry OS 7 will be released sometime this summer. The new OS won’t be supported on older devices, the company said.

Sohaib Athar, a resident of Abbottabad, the Pakistani city where Osama bin Laden was holed up in a fortified mansion, “liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it”, setting off a firestorm of activity on Twitter.

In the Playstation debacle, Sony plays a serious game

There is a truism in business, and politics: it’s never the offense that gets you into trouble, it’s how you handle the aftermath. “Watergate” would not have become shorthand for corruption if the massive criminal cover up of political dirty tricks hadn’t unraveled. “Tylenol” might just have been a trivia answer had Johnson & Johnson not rebounded from the seven tragic deaths of people who took their tainted pain killers into a case study of pitch-perfect crisis management.

Apple and Google both had some explaining to do in recent days about how they collect, store and use tracking information on the smartphones which, combined, account for nearly two thirds of the market. But Sony might have an even bigger challenge on its hands.

Sometime between April 16 and 19 hackers gained access to private information about some 77 million Playstation customers, including logins, passwords, e-mail addresses, home addresses, and possibly account history and credit card information. It took Sony nearly a week to disclose this, even though it shaped up to be one of the biggest data breaches in history.

from Reuters Money:

Sony PlayStation users: How to fight a data breach

If you've ever lost a credit card, had your identity stolen or even lost your wallet, you know what a pain it is and what worry is attached. For an estimated 77 million Sony PlayStation subscribers, today is that day.

With the risk that their credit card data has been pilfered along with all other information they entrusted to Sony when signing up (name, address and phone number, etc.), it's time to start acting like victims.

That means considering canceling credit cards, planning to systematically— one every four months — order credit reports (you are entitled to one a year free from each of the three major credit agencies from this site) to see if someone has taken credit in your name. That means closely monitoring all your bills to make sure that no extra charges are lopped on.

Sony’s PlayStation chief: We’ll get iPod game dabblers

So what happens when the Apple suggests your handheld game device is sub-par? Out of touch? Passe? ‘Dems fighting words, right?******That’s what I asked Sony’s PlayStation boss Jack Tretton during a recent interview. His response? Keep talking, Apple — you’re only creating more future PlayStation users.******A little background: Earlier this month, Apple’s Phil Schiller said this about Sony’s PlayStations Portable (PSP) and the Nintendo DS, which have together sold more than 150 million units around the globe:***

When these things came out they seemed so cool. But once you play a game on the iPod touch, they don’t really stack up anymore. They don’t have this amazing multi-touch user interface. The game are kind of expensive. they don’t even have anything like the Apps Store to find great games and titles. And they certainly don’t deliver a media experience like the iPod that is built into the iPod touch.******But worst is the buying experience. Having to go to the store and trying to find a hot new title is not a lot of fun.

***Not long after, Apple CEO Steve Jobs piled on to the New York Times, saying that the new lower price for the iPod Touch would draw in gamers.******Tretton, whose full title is CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, counterpunched:***

The gaming heritage and the home of gaming is PlayStation. Dabbling in gaming is nice and ‘thank you’ for getting people interested in gaming — because they are going to end up with us.******Its sort of like saying, I got my drivers license and my first car was a beat up Subaru, but if you are ultimately going to be on the track, you are going to be driving a race car, and not something that’s basic transportation. So if you are going to be seriously interested in gaming you are going to end up a PlayStation consumer.

***Tough talk between two consumer electronics giants.******Personally, I have played games on all three devices — but not the same games — so I can’t testify to an apples-to-apples comparison. But I’ll say this: Poker and Tetris on the iPod Touch? Fun. Super Mario Bros on the DS? Cool. FIFA Soccer on the PSP? Wicked.******(Photo: Sony’s Jack Tretten at E3; Reuters)

Microsoft’s Bach jumps around with Natal

Watch Microsoft’s Robbie Bach getting out of breath playing a wall-demolition game using Xbox’s new Natal technology, which works entirely on body gestures rather than a hand-held controller. (Click on the video and scroll onto 23:30)

Bach, head of entertainment and devices, demoed the new system at Microsoft’s annual financial analyst meeting in Redmond, Washington. There is still no date set for its commercial release.

The company hopes the new technology will vault it past Nintendo’s all-conquering Wii and rival Sony’s PlayStation.

What do analysts want from E3? How about a PS3 price-cut…

This week marks the kick off the video game industry’s biggest event – Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, which opens on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Usually this is where the best new consoles and multi-level games make their debuts with all the attendant excitement and drama.

But this year the beaten-up economy might have more of a starring role as we note in our preview here.  As the economy splutters along, video game sales are doing okay; they’re up 13 percent in the fiscal year to $28.7 billion, according to Hudson Square Research. However, to keep that going in the year ahead analysts suggest that price cuts on some of game consoles might be in order. Actually that would be just one game console: Sony’s Playstation 3, currently priced around $400. As Billy Pidgeon, analyst at Game Changer Research said:

The thing that would really boost the industry in this traditionally slow period would be a Sony price cut, That would really help right now.

from DealZone:

Shane Kim’s crystal ball: videogame deals, new content

Microsoft's videogame chief Shane Kim came by our New York office this morning for the Reuters Media Summit and shared his thoughts on XBox 360 sales ("cautiously optimistic") and the outlook for the gaming industry amid the economic doom-and-gloom ("Who knows, maybe flat performance will be considered a remarkable achievement").

He also gazed into his crystal ball and served up some insights on the trends shaping the gaming business.

Consolidation is going to continue, he thinks, especially among the smaller videogame publishers as they search for hit games while keeping costs in check.

Sony offers big PS3 price cut, if you can get the credit

With Black Friday only a few days away and projections for the holiday shopping season bleak, it’s not surprising that Sony is making a price cut move on its PlayStation 3 video game console to lure cash-strapped shoppers.

Now, you can get a hearty $150 price cut on the PlayStation 3 console. The caveat: you’ve got to sign up for a shiny new PlayStation credit card first.

There’s two ways to take advantage of the deal, it just depends how badly you want the PS3.

Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime: “Very Optimistic”

Wouldn’t you like to be Reggie Fils-Aime right now. Things probably couldn’t be better for the President of Nintendo of America — largely the face behind the popular “Wii” phenomenon — despite the global economic troubles.

While other executives speaking at the BMO Capital Markets Interactive Entertainment Conference today sprinkled words of concern into their otherwise upbeat addresses, Fils-Aime plainly and confidently said Nintendo is doing just fine, thank you very much.

Reuters talked to Fils-Aime about Wii availability, the DS handheld game, the future of ‘packaged’ games versus online games, and price cuts.