MediaFile

How Bobby Kotick ended up alongside Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

 

How did Bobby Kotick, the CEO of the largest video game company in the United States, end up with a speaking role alongside Brad Pitt in the upcoming movie Moneyball?

In the baseball-meets-math flick based on the bestseller by Michael Lewis, Kotick plays a convincing owner of the Oakland Athletics, at least for the three seconds he is seen in the trailer (see clip above starting at 17 seconds).

When Brad Pitt, playing general manager Billy Beane, comes into his office asking him for a bigger budget to buy players, Kotick says, “we’re not in New York. Find players with the money we do have.”

Sounds a bit like the real-life Kotick who trimmed down Activision Blizzard – known for popular games like Black Ops — into a leaner organization focused on its top games.

Turns out Kotick is a friend of director Bennett Miller (who also directed Capote) and was trying to get him to direct a short film for his company’s non-profit, The Call Of Duty Endowment, which helps soldiers adapt to civilian careers after military service.

Sony: Our tablets are coming… eventually

Sony teased out a few more details about its new Android tablets — codenamed S1 and S2 — and let reporters briefly handle prototypes.

AT&T will be the exclusive U.S. carrier for the S2, a double-screened device that bears a close resemblance to Nintendo’s DS  handheld gaming device. Sony showed off how users could turn it into a book.

Executives stressed that the tablets can connect to other Sony products, such as Blu-Ray players, TVs and PlayStation content, something Apple can’t offer. Like the Sony Ericsson Experia Play AKA, “the PlayStation phone,” the Adobe-Flash enabled tablets will come pre-loaded with the retro game“Crash Bandicoot”.

Tech wrap: Spain makes Sony attack arrests

Spanish police arrested three men suspected to be members of the hacker group Anonymous, charging them with organizing cyber attacks against the websites of Sony, Spanish banks BBVA and Bankia, and Italian energy group Enel SpA– but not the recent massive hacking of PlayStation gamers. Anonymous responded by threatening to retaliate for the arrests: “We are Legion, so EXPECT US,” the group said on its official Twitter feed.

EU countries agreed on tougher sanctions against people conducting cyber attacks. Under the new rules, which have to be agreed by the European Parliament, hackers would face a sentence of at least five years if found guilty of causing serious damage to IT systems.

Nokia was expected to report a loss for this quarter and next as it cuts prices to try to prevent more customers defecting to rivals’ smartphones, a Reuters poll found. Analysts also forecast a meager profit in the normally buoyant fourth quarter, as the once-undisputed leader in mobile phones loses the initiative to smartphones like Apple’s iPhone and devices based on Google’s Android software.

Tech wrap: Nintendo debuts Wii U

Nintendo took the wraps off a high-definition version of its hit Wii, with a 6.2-inch touchscreen-equipped controller that the leading videogame hardware maker hopes will appeal to a more hardcore audience. Early reviews of the Wii U were mixed, with analysts saying the device stopped short of being game-changing. But some liked the innovation in the controller, a device slightly larger than Apple’s iPhone and whose touchscreen, video-call capability and extra functions may appeal to gamers who play longer and more intensely.

The new device will go on sale between April and December 2012, the company told reporters in LA without saying how much it would cost.

Data storage firm EMC offered to replace millions of potentially compromised “SecurID” electronic keys after hackers used data stolen from its RSA security division to break into Lockheed Martin’s network. RSA, which makes the SecurID keys, said in a letter published on its website that it had confirmed information taken from it in March was used in the attack on Lockheed Martin.

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.

Activision’s brainy toys take over

At E3, the huge video game trade show that kicks off in LA on Tuesday, the main attention usually falls on first-person shooter titles aimed at teens or young male gamers. Games targeted at children can easily get lost under the bright lights.

Activision Blizzard, known for “Call of Duty” and ”World of Warcraft” is trying to change this by backing its new kids game, “Skylanders” with a hefty marketing push at E3.

“It’s getting the full triple-A treatment,” said Laird Malamed, a senior vice president of development at Activision.

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: 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 carts out Mango phone OS

Microsoft announced an update of its Windows phone software, code-named Mango, hoping a host of new features will help it close the gap on smartphone leaders Google and Apple. The update involves 500 new features, including IE 9 as the mobile browser, integrated Twitter and LinkedIn feeds, automated Facebook check-ins, and access to more than 17,000 downloadable applications.

The updated software will appear on new Windows phones beginning this fall, and be available for existing Windows phone users before that, although Microsoft has not set a timetable for making the update available.

Nokia said in statement that their first Windows Phone devices will be powered by the Mango OS.

Tech wrap: Sony takes a $3.2 billion beating

Sony will post its third straight annual net loss for the year that ended in March after writing off tax credits in the wake of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, the latest in a string of grim headlines on the consumer electronics giant. The firm, which previously forecast a net profit of 70 billion yen for 2010/11, surprised markets on Monday by declaring the need to update investors with revised estimates ahead of its official earnings report on Thursday. Sony said it now expected to post a net loss of 260 billion yen ($3.2 billion). The annual net loss would be Sony’s second-largest ever.

IBM surged past old rival Microsoft in market value for the first time since April 1996, marking the latest twist in the fluctuating fortunes of two of the world’s most storied tech companies. Microsoft’s stock has been stagnant since the tech bubble burst in 2000, as investors doubt its ability to move beyond its Windows operating system and Office suite of software. In the meantime, “Big Blue” has refashioned itself as a specialist in business software, servers and consulting, jettisoning its PC business along the way.

Shares of Apple regrouped after Wall Street brushed off the impact of an explosion last week that shut a Foxconn factory in China producing its iPad.