MediaFile

Tech wrap: AT&T/T-Mobile a done deal?

Reflections are seen in the window of an AT&T store in New York March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidAT&T’s planned buy of T-Mobile USA is ultimately expected to get regulatory approval, combining the second and fourth largest wireless operators to create a new leader that will control around 43 percent of the U.S. wireless market. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson suggested he had little choice but to do it as AT&T is in dire need of more wireless airwaves to increase network capacity for mobile Web services.

Google announced that it’s partnering with Sprint to integrate the free calling and texting service Google Voice with the carrier’s feature phones and smartphones. Sprint customers will be able to use their existing Sprint mobile number as their Google Voice number.

Nokia’s strategy for entering the tablet computer market may not include Microsoft, its recently announced partner for smartphones, according to a person with knowledge of the company’s thinking.

Microsoft widened its legal assault on devices running on Google’s Android system, filing lawsuits for patent infringement against bookseller Barnes & Noble over its Nook electronic book reader.

Facebook’s creation of a mobile payment subsidiary and registration of it in a number of states could signal the social network’s intent to get more broadly involved in the payments business, writes VentureBeat’s Owen Thomas. Bypassing credit-card processing fees from its Facebook Credits business and the possible creation of an ad network to rival Google’s AdSense were seen as potential driving factors.

The web isn’t dead: Newspaper edition

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For all the talk about whether apps could be the salvation for newspapers, one little question has been glossed over: Are apps actually a disservice to readers of what, for lack of a better description, we still call newspapers?

The key advantage of the internet over radio or TV is immediacy. Stories fly straight from pocket-sized devices to a great discussion in the sky with no friction being heard. Short bursts of information — as much or even less data than traders on the exchange floor use to make snap, million-dollar decisions — are what drive the conversation now.

Newspapers all have, or could have, vibrant web sites. Web sites are exciting because they are immediate, hamstrung only by the stupidity of servers, how much traffic they can handle and how fast the Internet is working today. You share a story, and BOOM, there it is: Waiting to be discovered by random travelers, spotlighted by RSS, Tweets, Facebook updates and shared by a geometrical progression of friends you didn’t know you had.

Firefox 4 rounds out action-packed Web browser season

Apparently March is Web browser season.Firefox4

On Monday, Microsoft unveiled Internet Explorer 9, the latest update of its browser, and trumpeted its 2.3 million downloads in the first 24 hours of availability. Earlier this month, Google unveiled the newest version of its browser, Chrome 10.

Now it’s Mozilla’s turn. More than a year in the making, Firefox 4 will be make its debut on Tuesday, bringing faster performance and a handful of new features.

And in a few weeks, the folks at Mozilla say they will release the first full-fledged version of Firefox for smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system (don’t expect an iPhone version of Firefox anytime soon, as Mozilla executives say that Apple’s terms of service prohibit third-party apps that boast standalone browser engines).

Tech wrap: Nokia starts work on Windows phone

A girl tests out the new Nokia N8 mobile phone at the Nokia Flagship store in Helsinki September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Markku Ulander/LehtikuvaWork has begun on the first Nokia smartphones based on Microsoft software following the partnership announced by the companies last month, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told Reuters.

RIM is battling wireless carriers over control of where key data related to mobile payments will reside in upcoming BlackBerry devices equipped with near field communication (NFC) technology, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Phred Dvorak and Stuart Weinberg.

A letter that had prompted Mark Hurd’s abrupt exit as chief of Hewlett-Packard Co was ordered unsealed by a Delaware judge, potentially revealing more details of his dramatic exit last year.

Tech wrap: Another brick in the paywall

Vehicles drive past the New York Times headquarters in New York March 1, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas JacksonThe New York Times will start charging for full access to its articles on phones, tablet computers and the Web from March 28. You’ll still be able to access as many articles as you want through Facebook and Twitter, writes Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff. Felix Salmon thinks readers will go elsewhere.

Toshiba said an assembly line in Japan making liquid crystal displays would be closed for a month, and PC maker Lenovo voiced worries over parts in the latest threats to electronics supply chains from Japan’s devastating earthquake.

Sales of e-books in January increased by more than 115 percent compared to the same time the year before, a report released by the Association of American Publishers 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.

Time Warner Cable’s iPad app runs into trouble: the price of popularity

Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 U.S. cable operator, isn’t a fancy company. Ever since its spin-off from Time Warner Inc it has photo 2focused on being a steady-as-she-goes friendly neighborhood telecommunications provider with video just being one of the services it carries through its pipes alongside Internet and voice.

Well, perhaps feeling a bit of cable envy as larger rival Comcast got all the press with its fancy digital businesses and fast growing cable networks — and well, NBC — Time Warner Cable decided to venture a little bit more into the 21st Century with its roll-out of a free iPad app yesterday. The app allowed iPad owners to view 30 channels in their homes, which was well received by most technology bloggers and deemed a success.

However, it just might have been too successful.  The company said the app’s popularity ”unfortunately overwhelmed the system” meaning some customers could not download it Tuesday evening. To make matters worse Time Warner Cable had to “temporarily” reduce the number of channels to just 15 to ease strain on the authentication process used to verify the user as a paying cable subscriber.

from Fan Fare:

Teen girl’s pop video mercilessly dissected by Internet masses

If you have trouble remembering the days of the week, a teen pop starlet named Rebecca Black has come to your rescue with an annoyingly catchy song that has quickly made her the hottest -- and most lampooned -- phenomenon on the Web. Black was a top-trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday, while her video for "Friday" racked up almost eight million page views in a matter of days.

The comments have been savage, ruthless dissections of the girl herself, her bubblegum pop song and the cheesy video. "Not joking. Worst lyrics I have ever heard. Ever. Yet so addictive," was one of the kinder critiques.

The fresh-faced youngster sings over and over in a nasally twang, "It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday. Everybody's looking forward to the weekend ... Fun, fun, fun, fun. Looking forward to the weekend."

Tech wrap: RIM’s PlayBook for fighting Apple, Google

Mike Lazaridis, president and co-chief executive officer of Research in Motion, holds the new Blackberry PlayBook with a screen projection of the device as he speaks at the RIM Blackberry developers conference in San Francisco, California September 27, 2010. REUTERS/Robert GalbraithResearch in Motion is a front runner in the race to convert billions of feature phone users into data-wielding smartphone customers but is seen possessing only a small window of opportunity to reinvigorate itself and match the momentum of rival mobile monarchs Apple and Google in a life-or-death battle for relevance, writes Alastair Sharp.

Prices for key technology components such as computer memory and LCD panels rose, as damage at Japanese plants and infrastructure caused by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami threatened to disrupt the global manufacturing chain longer than expected.

Microsoft introduced its newest browser, Internet Explorer 9, including a do-not-track tool that helps you keep your online habits from being monitored, and is worth checking out, writes Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff.

What’s all this about TV cord cutting?

When media bigwigs argue that they haven’t seen any evidence of real cord-cutting — and, believe us, they love to argue this point –  they can back it up with some new statistics from researchers over at SNL Kagan. For those of you who have fallen behind with industry jargon, cord-cutting is the idea that Americans are canceling cable and satellite television subscriptions because so many movies and TV shows can now be found on the Web — for far less than the cost of pay-TV. Huge issue, obviously, since these subscripti0ns are a pillar of today’s TV business. Not only are they the chief source of revenue for cable and satellite companies, but they help line the pockets of media companies such as Time Warner or  Disney who collect fees for the TV shows they create.

Understandably, industry executives often downplay cord-cutting, attributing subscriber losses to factors like a bad housing market and high unemployment. For sure, it’s hard to know exactly why the industry lost hundreds of thousands of subscribers over the second and third quarters of last year. But SNL Kagan’s figures suggest the picture may not be as bleak as many feared.

The numbers show that while the pay-TV industry — including cable, satellite and telecommunications companies — lost about 335,000 subscribers in the middle of 2010, the losses subsided by the final months of the year. In fact, the industry added 65,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter, the data suggests. In all, the industry ended the quarter with 100.1 million subscribers, up slightly from both the third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2009.