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.

Tech wrap: Microsoft earnings fail to excite

Microsoft reported a dip in quarterly sales of its core Windows operating system, mirroring a recent downturn in personal computers. The world’s largest software company met Wall Street profit estimates, as strong sales of its Office suite of applications and game systems took up the slack. “Microsoft to me is no longer a growth stock but it is a very attractive value stock. They continue to generate tremendous free cash flow. Their balance sheet is really unmatched,” Channing Smith of Capital Advisors said.

Sony could face legal action across the globe after it delayed disclosing a security breach of its popular PlayStation Network, infuriating gamers and sending the firm’s shares down nearly 5 percent in Tokyo Thursday.

Mobile privacy safeguards should also extend to third party application developers, two lawmakers said after reviewing the practices of four major U.S. wireless carriers.

Tech wrap: Privacy storm strikes Sony, passes Apple

Apple denied it is tracking the movements of its iPhone customers, but said it will provide a software update that stores less location information on phones in response to public outcry over privacy issues. Apple plans to release a software update that would cut the size of the wireless hotspot location database stored on its iPhones, and stop backing up that information. The software will be released in the next few weeks, it said.

Users of location-based services like those offered on iPhones have a hard time reconciling the security and privacy implications that come with allowing third parties access to their information, writes Mashable’s Christina Warren.

Sony’s delay in announcing that hackers had stolen names, addresses and possibly credit card details from the 77 million user accounts of its video game online network sparked an online furor from users. Some gamers writing in online forums called for a boycott of Sony products, while shoppers at London video-games stores said they might leave the PSN network, which allows them to play games with other members and buy games online. A Sony spokesman said that after learning of the breach it took “several days of forensic investigation” before the company knew consumers’ data had been compromised.

Tech wrap: Sony admits PlayStation Network privacy breach

A visitor plays with a Playstation at an exhibition stand at the Gamescom 2009 fair in Cologne in this August 22, 2009 file photo. Reuters/Ina Fassbender

An unauthorized person stole names, addresses and other personal data belonging to about 77 million people who have accounts on Sony’s PlayStation Network, Sony said. The person gained access to people’s names, addresses, email address, birthdates, usernames, passwords, logins, security questions and more, Sony said on its U.S. PlayStation blog.

Amazon.com’s quarterly sales beat expectations but earnings fell steeply as it spent heavily on everything from online multimedia services to its Kindle e-reader. Net income for the world’s largest online retailer was $201 million, down 32.8 percent from $299 million, a year earlier. Revenue was $9.86 billion. “This is another investment year…It’s probably not going to be until Q4 that we see some leverage from that,” Lazard Capital Markets’ Colin Sebastian said.

Tech wrap: Netflix gets in the game

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings speaks during the unveiling of the iPhone 4 by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California June 7, 2010. REUTERS/Robert GalbraithOnline video and DVD rental service Netflix is breaking away from its traditional role as a licensor of movies and TV shows , negotiating with actor Kevin Spacey and director David Fincher for the exclusive rights to a two-season, 26-episode remake of British political drama “House of Cards”, a source said.

Media execs who say they haven’t seen evidence of cable or satellite television subscribers canceling because of TV shows and movies available online may not want to break out the champagne, writes Paul Thomasch. The best devices to help cut your household’s dependence on pay TV are an ATSC tuner, digital media receivers Boxee Box and Roku XDR, digital video recorder Tivo Premiere, and small desktop computers Dell Zino and Apple Mac Mini, according to TechCrunch’s Matt Burns.

Electronics manufacturers warned production would be hobbled by further supply and distribution problems as companies struggle with power blackouts after the disaster in Japan. And the impact could be felt in higher prices or shortages of gadgets such as tablets, smartphones and computers for months to come.

Today In Music: Sony Music boss invests in start-up, fuels exit speculation

Doug Morris UMGSony Music Entertainment Rolf Schmidt-Holtz’s personal investment in Hamburg-based entertainment technology company TeVeo has sparked off speculation that his departure is imminent — which it almost certainly is, but not necessarily because of his investment.

As is well known by now, Schmidt-Holtz is very likely to leave Sony Music on March 31st when his contract expires after five years on the hotseat. He will be a partner in TeVeo following an investment, which was cleared by Sony, and is believed to be around 10 percent.  We’ve been told by a source that the investment and his likely departure in March are not linked.

So if he does leave what will that mean for Sony Music, still struggling to present a completely united front to the world since the 2004 merger between Sony Music and BMG Entertainment?

DC Universe Online: Can a Lex Luthor plot get people to pay for Sony’s new MMO?

Holy MMO, Batman! Sony Online Entertainment sure hopes DC Universe Online — the splashy new massively multiplayer online game that hit stores today – won’t share the fate of the caped crusaders’ legions of arch-villains over the past few decades.

Fans willing to shell out $59.99 upfront and then $14.99 a month can create their very own superhero and play — on PCs or Playstation 3s — much-loved characters from Superman to Batman and Wonder Woman, in locales eerily familiar to comic geeks from  Metropolis to Gotham City.

Reuters first reported back in 2008 about the arrival of the  world’s first licensed MMO comic book game. Tuesday’s launch is part of  Warner Bros’ and parent Time Warner Inc’s major push to fully exploit the DC brands in video games.

Universal Music pulls videos off MTV website

Universal Music Group has pulled its music videos off of MTV’s websites  in a dispute over syndication rights for Universal’s co-owned music site Vevo.

With Universal Music’s previous online music video contract with MTV Networks ending on Aug 1, the music company had planned to use Vevo as the distribution platform for its music videos. But the problem for MTV is that would mean adverts around the videos would be sold by Vevo, not MTV,  something the music television business found difficult to agree to.

Vevo was launched in December by co-owners Universal Music and Sony Music Entertainment as a dedicated online venue for premium quality music videos –  an MTV for the digital age if you like. It features music from EMI as well but Warner Music Group is yet to ink a deal.