Saturday, April 30, 2011
It seems bananas to limit supply on the 3DS' most anticipated title to date, but Sinobi suggests this could be a reaction to the overstocking of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, which ended up in Japanese bargain bins faster than the franchise is likely used to. If that's the case, then Nintendo is forgetting one very important factor: Spirit Tracks is a pretty okay game, while Ocarina of Time is the best game ever made.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The RIAA believes it is on the cusp of victory in its lawsuit against Limewire, thanks mainly to its large selection of damaging charts. However, it seems to be expecting the worst, if these leaked documents are any indication. All evidence below indicates that the RIAA will be willing to settle for only $15 billion (out of a possible $55 billion). Not only that, but it already has plans in place for the dispersal of the Limewire settlement.
First and foremost, the legal war chest must be refilled. It never sleeps and it is always hungry. Copyright won't protect itself and every battle to secure these rights has become long, uphill and against the wind.
A $15 billion payout doesn't come around every day and our executives are justly entitled to a large chunk of that ($3.15 bil.). As an added bonus (to the bonuses), all executives will be treated to a celebratory blimp ride ($2.25 bil.). This dollar amount seems high until you consider that each executive will be requiring their own blimp. Previously, the executives had shared one blimp, but in the post-Napster environment, "sharing" is obviously no longer a legal option.
Other line items include the ongoing efforts in Washington to impose the RIAA's will on the internet, research and development and the opaquely-named "Other Expenditures."
(1) Other Expenditures
Having run the "Stealing a Song = Stealing a Car" analogy into the ground, we need a new "go to" catchphrase. Hence, $1.05 billion should be earmarked for development of a new anti-piracy metaphor. Suggestions include:
- Stealing a song is like stealing a yacht.
- You wouldn't steal popcorn, would you?
- There's no such thing as a free lunch, free song or an infinite good.
- File sharing is as un-American as immigration, outsourcing and opium production.
- You wouldn't steal a blimp, would you?
- Stealing a song is like kidnapping an artist's children and is punishable by a sentence of 25 years to life.
Other incidental expenditures include a much-needed re-upholstering of the executive suites and a celebratory hot tub full of money to splash around in with various members of the escort community, each of whom will be paid in full for their services, including any fees due for public performance.
(2) Research and Development
A lion's share of the payout will go towards the ongoing development of a time machine/wormhole to 1991 ($450 million). Many recent efforts have come close but the RIAA has yet to reach the pre-Napster days and develop a parallel timeline in which CD sales increase forever. On the plus side, it did manage to get our mom to hook up with our dad, thus ensuring our continued existence.
Other products/services on the way:
- A computer-unfriendly music delivery system, much needed in this time of digital theft. Wax cylinders have been discussed as well as a partnership with RealPlayer, whose clumsy, bug-ridden software would likely prevent music from being enjoyed on a wide variety of operating systems.
- "Lost Sales" calculation improvements, which should allow the RIAA to seek even larger damages from various file sharing services. It is hoped that we will finally reach the trillion dollar mark within the next decade. In addition, breakthroughs should also be sought in the "Shocking Graph" field, what with the recent success of the "Napster Ruined Everything" line graphs.
- A partnership with the developers of The Club to prevent music from being stolen. A possible route would be some sort of clamp that could be tightened around an ethernet cable to prevent uploading. In other words, not so much "throttling" as "strangling."
- Domain seizure technology, via the RIAA's partnership with ICE, which has already proven its ability to take thousands of sites offline despite lack of evidence or proper investigative techniques. On the front burner: cooperating with ICE's takedown of many large pharmaceutical companies who continue to make themselves rich off various anti-seizure remedies, including the weirdly-named Antivan and Dilantin.
Royalty disbursements, as expected, will be delivered in a "top down" fashion. Those artists with the most sales will receive a disproportionately large share of the proceeds. After the "Big 3" are taken care of (and a chunk of money thrown towards Paul McGuiness in hopes that some of it lands in his mouth), the remaining funds will be dispersed to yet more lawyers and an appreciable amount ($300,000 ) put towards the ongoing health of Jon Bon Jovi's remaining hair. It is hoped that he will be able to put off his eventual "Trump Hair" for another 7-10 years, thus ensuring his continued success in the field of "fairly attractive frontmen." See footnotes for royalty dispersals.
$300,000 will be divided evenly among those artists currently in the Top 40 at the point of dispersal. If said artist happen to include any of the "Big 3," well, I suppose the rest of you should just write better hits, right? There's no crying in the music industry, especially if you're unrecouped.
The remainder of the RIAA's roster will split $150,000. To qualify for payment, bands/musicians must have a viable Wikipedia page (stubs and pages slated for deletion do not count) and a web presence that includes more than just a long-abandoned MySpace page. (Try Facebook.)
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Angela Belcher's research group at MIT has made a name for itself by using viruses—the biological kind—as a key part in a variety of nanoscale construction projects. So far, the work has focused on batteries, but this week a paper came out that indicated Belcher has turned her attention to photovoltaic devices. The work uses a virus to prepare carbon nanotubes for incorporation into a solar device, and sees a big boost in conversion efficiency.
One of the limiting factors in solar cell efficiency is the ability to shuffle electrons around. Once a photon knocks an electron off the active material of the solar cell, the electrons need to be moved away quickly and converted into current—otherwise, they'll simply recombine with the material they've been set loose from, and the photon's energy will be lost.
This story ran in the print edition of The Seattle Times on April 27, 2011. -Sharon Pian Chan
For Microsoft's third-quarter earnings report Thursday, Wall Street is expecting more of the same.
The company is expected to report that it had $16 billion in sales over the past three months. Analysts think it made a higher profit than predicted.
And then the stock price will likely drop, if it follows the pattern set by recent Microsoft financial reports. This drop will be followed by bitter shareholder complaints that Microsoft stock has moved little over the past 10 years while Apple's stock has skyrocketed.
"I am expecting them to put up a strong quarter," said Yun Kim, research analyst at Gleacher and Co. in New York. "Just remember they've been putting up five straight quarters of strong beat, but the stock has not reacted positively."
Kim has a "buy" rating on Microsoft stock. "At this point it's more of a sentiment story than anything else," he said.
Analysts are expecting earnings per share of 56 cents and $16.2 billion in sales for third quarter of fiscal 2011 third, which ended March 31.
"There are two sizable overhangs on the stock," Kim said. "One is the overall negative trend happening on the consumer PC side. Their Windows business is heavily driven by the PC market. And the other is their lack of traction in the mobile and smartphone area."
Sid Parakh, analyst at McAdams Wright Ragen, said the Apple iPad is depressing PC sales in mature markets like the U.S. He will be watching to see how the company performs with selling Windows to consumers.
"If you look at where the weaknesses in the PC market are, a lot of it is consumer-driven weakness in mature markets or developed markets and those are exactly the same markets where the iPad has done well," he said. "You cannot simply extrapolate that and say iPad is taking a lot of share away from the PC. There is a lot of weaker mix in consumer electronics. For instance, TV sales have been down. But there's clearly some cannibalization going on" with the iPad.
Parakh has a "buy" rating on Microsoft stock.
Gleacher's Kim is optimistic about Microsoft's ability to come back in the tablet market. The company is building the next version of Windows to run on chip sets designed by ARM, a designer known for making chips for mobile devices. He thinks Microsoft could come out with the first such mobile device by the holidays this year.
Microsoft has not disclosed when the next version of Windows will be ready. At Microsoft MIX in Las Vegas earlier this month, Windows President Steven Sinofsky said the company would share more news with developers at a conference in September.
Neither analyst thinks the pay raises Microsoft announced last week would have any impact on third-quarter earnings. The raises are not expected to take effect until fiscal 2012, which begins July 1, 2011.
Microsoft, which declined to say how much it would spend on the across-the-board raises, said it is paying employees more to attract and retain the best talent.
Analyst Mike Cherry at independent research firm Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland wondered whether the pay raise will be enough to keep employees courted by Google and Facebook.
"Are you being hired to maintain a product that's 20 years old or are you being hired to work on a new, exciting technology that's potentially industry changing?" he said. "For a lot of technology people that's more important than anything else."
Asked whether Microsoft should have spent its money instead on increasing shareholder dividend -- as some investors have demanded -- both said they think the quarterly dividend is fine where it is, at 16 cents per share.
"It's not an awfully low number but it's not awfully high either," Parakh said. "It's in line with peers."
Microsoft stock rose 58 cents, or 2.26 percent, on Tuesday and closed at $26.19 per share.
Samsung has launched another counterattack against Apple's patent, trademark, and trade dress lawsuit in the form of a US patent suit filed in California this week. The lawsuit comes after three patent suits were filed in Europe and Asia last Friday, in counter to Apple's lawsuit filed earlier this month.
Apple targeted Samsung with a major lawsuit on April 18. The company claimed that Samsung's Galaxy-series of Android-based smartphones and tablets infringe on Apple's iOS-related software, hardware, and design patents, as well as iOS-related trademarks and trade dress. In addition to claiming Samsung copied the iPhone's physical design, Apple noted that the TouchWiz interface violated design patents and trademarks, and even copied the iPhone trade dress down to its box design.
"Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple's technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products," Apple wrote in its complaint.
Later that week, Apple COO Tim Cook explained that while Apple enjoys a good relationship with Samsung as a component supplier, its mobile communication division had "crossed the line" with the Galaxy S, Galaxy Tab, and its TouchWiz Android mod. "After trying for some time to work on the issue, we decided we needed to rely on the courts," Cook told analysts during the company's most recent quarterly earnings call.
Days later, Samsung filed three separate patent infringement lawsuits in South Korea, Japan, and Germany. Those lawsuits allege that Apple's iPhone uses Samsung intellectual property to connect to and improve communications with cell towers. Samsung implied that Apple was trying to bully a successful competitor, with company chairman Lee Kun-hee telling the press that "[w]hen a nail sticks out, [people] try to pound it down."
Samsung's US lawsuit targets the iPhone, which allegedly violates 10 Samsung patents that "relate to fundamental innovations that increase mobile device reliability, efficiency, and quality, and improve user interface in mobile handsets and other products." Though Apple has an extensive patent portfolio of its own, Bloomberg News noted that Samsung was awarded the second largest number of US patents in 2010 (IBM was at the top of the list).
Apple is no stranger to smartphone-related patent fights; the company is currently involved in lawsuits with HTC, Nokia, and Motorola, following through on its January 2010 warning to handset makers that it was prepared to file lawsuits over iPhone-related IP.
UPDATE: Former IP attorney Nilay Patel got his hands on Samsung's complaint and looked at the patents it is asserting against Apple. Seven are UMTS/W-CMDA "3G" related, while three are UI-related. Patel's analysis suggests that the seven 3G patents could be trumped by FRAND requirements if "essential" to 3G technology, or otherwise difficult to prove that the iPhone infringes. The UI-related patents seem fairly weak and "anti-climatic" compared to Apple's lawsuit, Patel wrote.
Filed under: Podcasts
Also, these stories aren't big deals or anything, but all PSN users' personal information has been compromised, and the next Nintendo console will be officially unveiled and playable at E3. Y'know, it's been a totally normal news week.
[Thanks to Alan Black for the photoshop of the boys going blue]
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See all of this week's links after the break.Permalink | Email this | Comments
In the period of July to September 2010, consumers looking for a new smartphone overwhelmingly wanted iOS, with 33 percent saying they would get an iPhone. 26 percent wanted an Android and 13 percent wanted a BlackBerry.
That has changed, however. For the period of January to March 2011, 31 percent would-be buyers said they wanted an Android phone, compared to 30 percent for iOS and only 11 percent for BlackBerry. The remaining were unsure or wanted Windows.
Many of those surveyed were already Android phone owners and it was now their preferred OS.
By market share, Android is leading the way at 37 percent followed by iOS at 27 percent and BlackBerry at 22 percent.