Wednesday, February 29, 2012
It looks like the rumors were true. Apple is officially sending out invites for what blatantly appears to be an iPad 3 event. Scheduled for 10AM PST on March 7th and taking place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
HP has laid off more than 270 employees from its webOS division as it "no longer needs many of the engineering and other related positions that it required before." This follows just behind the departure of former webOS head Jon Rubinstein, a restructuring, and a previous round of layoffs in September. We have a full statement from the company below:
As webOS continues the transition from making mobile devices to open source software, it no longer needs many of the engineering and other related positions that it required before. This creates a smaller and more nimble team that is well-equipped to deliver an open source webOS and sustain HP’s commitment to the software over the long term.HP is working to redeploy employees affected by these changes to other roles at the company.
This isn't exactly a surprise, as the company recently moved the software into an open source stage of development, and dedicated resources at HP are likely far less necessary. It also appears that many of the cuts were focused on hardware-related positions. This does cast a shadow over CEO Meg Whitman's statements that the Palo Alto-based PC-maker was still interested in producing webOS hardware — particularly tablets.
Upon the arrival of picking up Apple’s “magical” device, many of these individuals also got their first taste of Apple’s sterile ecosystem. As welcomed as a near-vanilla operating system free of bloatware may sound to some, there’s a select group of people that are missing Sprint’s pre-installed application suite.
Among the few beloved in-house apps was Sprint TV, which is now available for the iPhone. This free application allows users to view select live and on-demand programming from such partners as ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, The Disney Channel, MTV and Comedy Central. If Sprint TV’s free programming isn’t enough to meet your mobile entertainment needs, you can purchase additional premium programming, with packages ranging from $4.99 – $9.99 per month.
The shakeup continues at LightSquared. Just days after the would-be LTE wholesaler confirmed that it would be cutting its staff by 45 percent, it's now announced that CEO Sanjiv Ahuja has resigned from his position, although he will continue to serve as chairman of the board. Chief network officer Doug Smitand and chief financial officer Marc Montagner will serve as co-chief operating officers as the company searches for a new CEO. What's more, LightSquared has also announced that billionaire backer Philip A. Falcone has been appointed to the company's board of directors, and he himself has reiterated the company's intent to build out its wireless network, noting that it is "committed to working with the appropriate entities to find a solution to the recent regulatory issues."
Friday, February 24, 2012
Things just don't look too good for Clearwire. Even though the HTC EVO 4G was America's first 4G phone, and made use of Clearwire's 4G network, WiMAX never really seemed to catch on. To make matters worse, as Clear's finances became murkier, the 4G rollout came to a screeching halt and left lots of EVO users behind on Sprint's sometimes-awesome-sometimes-terrible 3G network.
And now, the latest news is that Google is selling its ownership stake in the company and will take around a $453 million loss. (Google originally invested about $500 million in the company, and is selling its shares for $47 million.) And Google's lack of confidence in the company is obviously affecting others' confidence in the company, as it closed down almost 7% Friday afternoon.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Google’s latest update to its Maps application took place just a few days ago. We did not see much of a change, as it only brought some bug fixes and improved battery life, but Google had sneaked in a very pleasant surprise. Latitude check-ins now earn you points, which affect your social score in a Google+ leaderboard.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
AT&T has made no bones about its need for more wireless spectrum, and now that it can't acquire T-Mobile, it's considering a myriad of options to fill in the gaps. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company is in the midst of talks with Leap Wireless, which owns the more well-known brand Cricket, saying that the two sides "have been engaged in talks about a potential deal." The talks are apparently the result of a rapport the two companies built up when AT&T was considering selling Leap some spectrum to make the T-Mobile acquisition more palatable. Though any potential deal is reportedly months away, it could remove one of the more successful smaller carriers from the marketplace.
It's no surprise that AT&T is looking at all options, including possible deals with MetroPCS and even Dish Network, which recently tussled with AT&T in FCC filings over its own wireless plans. Dish might not be interested in selling, the WSJ reports, and MetroPCS is also apparently not looking like a likely partner.
While AT&T's spectrum crunch is a problem, it has to be said that the company is still managing to roll out LTE fairly well in the short term. Compared to T-Mobile (which hasyet to detail any clear LTE plans) and Sprint (which has to now manage without LightSquared's network), the situation could certainly be worse.
After much debate of which device would be Sprint’s first smartphone to carry Android 4.0, it appears the burning question has been answered. Our pals over at AndroidPolice have gotten hold of an internal screenshot which pegs the highly anticipated Nexus S 4G Ice Cream Sandwich update for a February 16th release. Like most software updates, this will most likely hit over a matter of days. If you’re among the lucky ducks that happen to get hold of the software push during its first wave, be sure to share your experience with us via the comment section.
Former eBay CEO, 2010 California gubernatorial candidate and current president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Meg Whitman took the stage at HP's Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas today. She had some reassuring things to say about webOS and its open-source future, saying HP is committed and that we should expect it to take some time (2 to 5 years worth) to fully play out what impact this will have on mobile's growing "ecosystem." We're right there with you Meg. We want webOS to stay relevant, and we love the open-source aspect. Bravo, and I could just hug you for doing the right thing.
Then something happened. We weren't there, but we expect the lights went dim and eerie music started playing in the background as Meg went on to say that Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility could lead to Android becoming closed-source and force OEM's to adopt webOS. We can't make this stuff up, kids.
I hate to break it to ya Meg, but it ain't gonna happen. It's against Google's business model with Android, which is to maintain a rich mobile operating system that anyone can install and use for free. This, in turn, puts plenty of eyes on Google products and services, which leads to piles of money. Google doesn't sell Android -- it sells ads. Google makes a ton of money every time a mobile device uses the Internet, because frankly, it's hard to get away from Google. No matter what smartphone brand you're using, Google is making money. Google will make money from an open-source webOS, just like it does from a closed-source iOS. It makes even more money keeping an Android open-source OS available for partners to use.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
HTC announced on Thursday that an Ice Cream Sandwich update will be available for select devices by the end of March. The announcement came through the company’s Facebook page and states that the first devices to receive the update will be the Sensation, Sensation 4G and Sensation XE, followed shortly after by the Sensation XL. The Rezound, Vivid, Amaze 4G, EVO 3D, EVO Design 4G, Incredible S, Desire S and Desire HD will all be updated “later this year,” as previously reported. HTC is expected to launch multiple new Android 4.0-powered smartphones later this month at Mobile World Congress, including the HTC Ville and HTC Edge.
When the HP TouchPad was released in the summer of 2011 it did little to impress consumers, leading to the tablet being discontinued after a mere 49 days on the market. Remaining TouchPad stock received substantial price reductions, dropping to as low as $99 dollars during a huge fire sale. Shortly after inventory ran dry, crafty hackers had announced their intention to run the Android operating system in replace of WebOS on the TouchPad, and progress thus far has been slow, with alpha versions being released that are fairly stable but have serious bugs. In an act of good will, HP has now released an Android kernel source code to the hacking community.
The source code appears to have been developed separately from webOS, and was last changed in March 2011, three months before the TouchPad’s release, RootzWiki reports. The code will not help with any major fixes, however, and will instead help with minor bugs. “Kernel source from HP would have been more helpful earlier in development. Don’t expect huge gains from this source,” said Erik Hardesty, a member of the CyanogenMod team, on Twitter. “It will help with things like serial console and Bluetooth. Most other areas it *might* with will be minor.”
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Monday, February 6, 2012
Rental kiosk service Redbox is apparently trying to move in on the streaming video market. The company has just announced a joint venture with Verizon that will combine the Redbox DVD and Blu-Ray rental business with "video on demand streaming and download service." The service is expected to launch in the second half of 2012, and more information will be forthcoming. So far, we haven't been given any details about how the service will work, but the announcement hints that Verizon will be managing the streaming content, possibly leveraging the well-known Redbox brand to build loyalty. Despite being provided by Verizon, the streaming apparently isn't tied to using the company's mobile or broadband service. We'll have to wait and see whether the move to streaming places Redbox, which recently broke with Warner Bros. over rental policies, under the same negotiating constraints as competitors like Netflix.
Android Central member seanmacanally got an OTA notification on his rooted Verizon Galaxy Nexus, and with a little help from the great crew in the forums got the package pulled and uploaded for everyone to play with. A few caveats:
- This is only for the Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus
- It's Android 4.0.4 IMM30B
- You will need to be completely stock with stock recovery to install it as-is
This doesn't seem to be an OTA that's going out in full force, so it very well could be some sort of internal testing version. Keep that in mind if you flash it -- things may not be working as well as you would hope.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Stories have steadily flowed in over the past day about the death of the Peek, an unusual gadget resembling a portrait QWERTY smartphone (think BlackBerry) sold in various forms between 2008 and 2010. It wasn't a phone, though — in fact, it was originally designed to handle email alone using T-Mobile's 2G data network. Service ran $19.95 a month, but the device could occasionally be purchased for $299.95 bundled with "lifetime" service, which meant you had no monthly bill. For smartphone owners, Peek was obviously a tough sell, but it found its niches among the hard of hearing and those without the need for a smartphone (and the pricey smartphone data plan to match).
Tech site "The Verge" confirmed with Peek CEO Amol Sarva today that all versions of the Peek have been decommissioned and will no longer function on the network, including the Peek Classic, Peek Pronto, and the newest model introduced in August of 2010, the Peek 9. Says Sarva, "We have been winding down this group of users since Q4 2010 with these original Peeks. We kept service live and a 'few' people still love their Peeks (flattering!) but the network requirements are changing and we can't keep the network up forever with a handful of people on it."
"We have been sending out emails for like a year saying so, but some folks are always surprised."
"The Verge" asked exactly what network requirements have changed, Sarva says it's a combination of things: "billing interfaces, data gateways, secure tunnels, SMS gateways, IP addresses of these systems, credentials for them." The company had already swapped out users' Peeks to manage changing infrastructure once before, in mid 2010, spending "tons of money" in the process — presumably, there weren't enough users remaining in 2012 to do it again, particularly considering Peek's changing focus as a company. "The devices worked for years, were a great value to start with, and nobody is paying us any new money for anything... did anybody think we were going to somehow offer service untilthey died? That is silly."
Indeed, Peek isn't in the hardware business anymore. Since last year, the company has been selling "the genius cloud," a series of services designed to make inexpensive feature phones smarter. Sarva notes that his product has just been nominated for the GSMA's Best Technology award which will be handed out at MWC later this month. He says that these services are the logical continuation of what Peek has been about since day one — "building smartphone features on ultra low cost platforms" — and that they're making huge inroads with the countless Chinese manufacturers who sell unbranded phones in emerging markets, many of whom are "feeding off Nokia's carcass."
Of course, that's little consolation for the handful of Peek users out there in the US, particularly those who paid $300 or more for "lifetime" service. How can you get a Peek-like device now? "Good question. Not possible. The US market is crazy expensive and you cannot get a cheap easy connected device. You have to pony up $50 or more per month. That sucks, but Peek is too small to change that."
Facebook on Wednesday formally filed documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in its first step toward an upcoming initial public offering. Facebook said it is looking to raise $5 billion with its IPO, which has been eagerly anticipated by the Street and by investors. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and others will underwrite the offering, and Facebook could raise as much as $10 billion following its IPO. Reports surfaced this past Friday stating that Facebook had plans to file for an IPO this week at a valuation of between $75 billion and $100 billion. At $5 billion, Facebook’s IPO would be the biggest Internet IPO in history, besting Google’s $1.9 billion 2004 offering by a huge margin. Facebook’s IPO also has the potential to top Infineon’s $5.9 billion offering, which is currently the biggest global technology IPO on record. In 2011, Facebook recorded sales of $3.71 billion and earnings of $0.43 per share on net income of $1 billion according to its S1 filing. Facebook also noted that it currently has 845 million monthly active users, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg owns 534 million shares, or 28.4% of the company. Zuckerberg’s public letter regarding the IPO follows below in its entirety.
Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us, how we make decisions and why we do the things we do. I will try to outline our approach in this letter.At Facebook, we’re inspired by technologies that have revolutionized how people spread and consume information. We often talk about inventions like the printing press and the television — by simply making communication more efficient, they led to a complete transformation of many important parts of society. They gave more people a voice. They encouraged progress. They changed the way society was organized. They brought us closer together.Today, our society has reached another tipping point. We live at a moment when the majority of people in the world have access to the internet or mobile phones — the raw tools necessary to start sharing what they’re thinking, feeling and doing with whomever they want. Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries.There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future. The scale of the technology and infrastructure that must be built is unprecedented, and we believe this is the most important problem we can focus on.We hope to strengthen how people relate to each other.Even if our mission sounds big, it starts small — with the relationship between two people.Personal relationships are the fundamental unit of our society. Relationships are how we discover new ideas, understand our world and ultimately derive long-term happiness.At Facebook, we build tools to help people connect with the people they want and share what they want, and by doing this we are extending people’s capacity to build and maintain relationships.People sharing more — even if just with their close friends or families — creates a more open culture and leads to a better understanding of the lives and perspectives of others. We believe that this creates a greater number of stronger relationships between people, and that it helps people get exposed to a greater number of diverse perspectives.By helping people form these connections, we hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information. We think the world’s information infrastructure should resemble the social graph — a network built from the bottom up or peer-to-peer, rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date. We also believe that giving people control over what they share is a fundamental principle of this rewiring.We have already helped more than 800 million people map out more than 100 billion connections so far, and our goal is to help this rewiring accelerate.We hope to improve how people connect to businesses and the economy.We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services.As people share more, they have access to more opinions from the people they trust about the products and services they use. This makes it easier to discover the best products and improve the quality and efficiency of their lives.One result of making it easier to find better products is that businesses will be rewarded for building better products — ones that are personalized and designed around people. We have found that products that are “social by design” tend to be more engaging than their traditional counterparts, and we look forward to seeing more of the world’s products move in this direction.Our developer platform has already enabled hundreds of thousands of businesses to build higher-quality and more social products. We have seen disruptive new approaches in industries like games, music and news, and we expect to see similar disruption in more industries by new approaches that are social by design.In addition to building better products, a more open world will also encourage businesses to engage with their customers directly and authentically. More than four million businesses have Pages on Facebook that they use to have a dialogue with their customers. We expect this trend to grow as well.We hope to change how people relate to their governments and social institutions.We believe building tools to help people share can bring a more honest and transparent dialogue around government that could lead to more direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time.By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible. These voices will increase in number and volume. They cannot be ignored. Over time, we expect governments will become more responsive to issues and concerns raised directly by all their people rather than through intermediaries controlled by a select few.Through this process, we believe that leaders will emerge across all countries who are pro-internet and fight for the rights of their people, including the right to share what they want and the right to access all information that people want to share with them.Finally, as more of the economy moves towards higher-quality products that are personalized, we also expect to see the emergence of new services that are social by design to address the large worldwide problems we face in job creation, education and health care. We look forward to doing what we can to help this progress.Our Mission and Our BusinessAs I said above, Facebook was not originally founded to be a company. We’ve always cared primarily about our social mission, the services we’re building and the people who use them. This is a different approach for a public company to take, so I want to explain why I think it works.I started off by writing the first version of Facebook myself because it was something I wanted to exist. Since then, most of the ideas and code that have gone into Facebook have come from the great people we’ve attracted to our team.Most great people care primarily about building and being a part of great things, but they also want to make money. Through the process of building a team — and also building a developer community, advertising market and investor base — I’ve developed a deep appreciation for how building a strong company with a strong economic engine and strong growth can be the best way to align many people to solve important problems.Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.And we think this is a good way to build something. These days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits.By focusing on our mission and building great services, we believe we will create the most value for our shareholders and partners over the long term — and this in turn will enable us to keep attracting the best people and building more great services. We don’t wake up in the morning with the primary goal of making money, but we understand that the best way to achieve our mission is to build a strong and valuable company.This is how we think about our IPO as well. We’re going public for our employees and our investors. We made a commitment to them when we gave them equity that we’d work hard to make it worth a lot and make it liquid, and this IPO is fulfilling our commitment. As we become a public company, we’re making a similar commitment to our new investors and we will work just as hard to fulfill it.The Hacker WayAs part of building a strong company, we work hard at making Facebook the best place for great people to have a big impact on the world and learn from other great people. We have cultivated a unique culture and management approach that we call the Hacker Way.The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done. Like most things, it can be used for good or bad, but the vast majority of hackers I’ve met tend to be idealistic people who want to have a positive impact on the world.The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.To encourage this approach, every few months we have a hackathon, where everyone builds prototypes for new ideas they have. At the end, the whole team gets together and looks at everything that has been built. Many of our most successful products came out of hackathons, including Timeline, chat, video, our mobile development framework and some of our most important infrastructure like the HipHop compiler.To make sure all our engineers share this approach, we require all new engineers — even managers whose primary job will not be to write code — to go through a program called Bootcamp where they learn our codebase, our tools and our approach. There are a lot of folks in the industry who manage engineers and don’t want to code themselves, but the type of hands-on people we’re looking for are willing and able to go through Bootcamp.The examples above all relate to engineering, but we have distilled these principles into five core values for how we run Facebook:Focus on ImpactIf we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but we think most companies do this poorly and waste a lot of time. We expect everyone at Facebook to be good at finding the biggest problems to work on.Move FastMoving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.Be BoldBuilding great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.Be OpenWe believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact. That goes for running our company as well. We work hard to make sure everyone at Facebook has access to as much information as possible about every part of the company so they can make the best decisions and have the greatest impact.Build Social ValueOnce again, Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do.Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. We believe that we have an opportunity to have an important impact on the world and build a lasting company in the process. I look forward to building something great together.