Google on Thursday announced the availability of a new feature that allows users to block specific domains from appearing in their search results. Google has taken several measures lately in an effort to improve the quality of its search results, which can often become devalued by “content farms” and other sites that make it their business to game Google by churning out low-quality search friendly content. Beyond changes that Google has made to its algorithms, users can now take it upon themselves to weed out the junk that Google misses. When users click on a search result and then return to Google, they will now see an option to block domain that was clicked. The result is a customized search experience that will continue to improve over time as users block more domains. Google is currently in the process of rolling out the new feature, which should be available to all users soon. More →
WiMAX network operator Clearwire is the target of a new lawsuit that has been filed out of a Seattle district court. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs allege that Clearwire “throttles down the speed of its Internet service to speeds similar to dial-up telephone modem speeds,” and likens the company’s business practices to “a bandwidth Ponzi scheme.” Customers who are not satisfied with the speeds provided by Clearwire’s self-proclaimed high-speed internet are forced to pay early termination fees. “Clearwire made materially false, misleading, and/or deceptive representations and omissions about the speed and capacity of its Internet service,” reads the court filing. “Rather than limiting its subscribers to a number that its broadband infrastructure can accommodate — such that Clearwire can make good on its representations regarding high-speed service and capacity — Clearwire signed up many more subscribers than it could handle so as to maximize revenue and profit.” The embattled network operator now faces false advertising claims from fifteen plaintiffs seeking class action status. Clearwire has been in news headlines over the past several months as it tries to negotiate a usage agreement with WiMAX network partner Sprint.
A new rumor suggests HP may have considered selling its PC business, with Samsung lined up as the most likely buyer. The report comes from DigiTimes and is sourced from an article in the Chinese financial paper Commercial Times. DigiTimes claims that rumors to this effect have been circulating in Taiwan since last year, however, and suggests that a sale is no longer on the table. Citing sources from upstream component makers, the report claims “the deal was called off due to an unknown reason, and there has not been any follow up since then.” The original report also noted that Lenovo was a possible buyer and even suggests Foxconn might have shown interest in the business. HP has aggressive plans to include webOS on every PC it sells beginning next year. With such an incredible in-road to users, it would seem odd for HP to even briefly consider selling off its PC business.
UPDATE: HP issued the following statement on Thursday regarding the Commercial Times report: “Irresponsible reporting by Taiwan’s Commercial Times, suggesting that HP might sell its PC business, should be dismissed as market rumor and speculation. HP runs the world’s largest PC business and it is core to HP’s strategy for the connected world.”
For this week’s installation of Throwback Thursday, we’re going to journey back to the year 1987. A time when the Iran-Contra Affair was front page news, the term “Black Monday” was coined, and Double Dragon was the most popular game in your local arcade. Developed by Technos Japan, Double Dragon tells the tale of two brothers, Hammer and Spike, who are trying to navigate through gang-turf dominated by the Black Warriors (anyone else noticing some racial undertones twenty years post facto?). The brothers are skilled fighters, and determined to accomplish their goal, saving a common love interest Marian (it’s getting weirder). In the arcade version of the game, Hammer and Spike have to complete four levels – beating four different foes wielding a variety of weapons — in order to rescue their damsel in distress. If both brothers survive the trials and tribulations in multiplayer mode, they then must fight each other to determine who will be the winner of Marian’s love. The game was later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System and, in 1994, made into a movie (which currently has rating of 1.5 out of 5 starts on IMDB). Was anyone a Double Dragon master? More →
Yesterday, we told you about VeriFone’s unprovoked, online vendetta waged against mobile-payments startup Square. VeriFone CEO, Douglas G. Bergeron, wrote and open letter to humanity and created a YouTube video declaring that consumers were in “dire risk” because of Square’s card reader. Although the accused company did not respond to requests for comment yesterday, Square’s CEO has published a letter of his own, downplaying VeriFone’s concerns, while taking the proverbial high-road.
“Any technology—an encrypted card reader, phone camera, or plain old pen and paper—can be used to ‘skim’ or copy numbers from a credit card,” writes Jack Dorsey, Square’s CEO. “The waiter you hand your credit card to at a restaurant, for example, could easily steal your card details if he wanted to—no technology required.”
The letter goes on to reassure Square users that the company is “constantly improving the payment experience to enhance security” and that it’s partner bank, JPMorgan Chase, “stands behind every aspect” of the company’s service. Hit the jump to read the full context of the rebuttal. More →
Clearwire on Thursday announced that CEO and director of the board Bill Morrow will resign effective immediately. Morrow cites personal reasons for his resignation and he will continue to serve as an advisor to the company while the interim CEO, chairman of the board John Stanton, transitions into his new role. “I would like to commend Bill for his tremendous leadership in building the first U.S. 4G network, adding more than 5 million subscribers, and raising funds in a challenging economic environment,” Stanton said in a statement. “Bill built a strong leadership team which enables us to promote Erik Prusch and Hope Cochran to new roles. Together, the entire management team at Clearwire remains focused on delivering value to its customers and shareholders.” Two other top Clearwire executives, Chief Information Officer Kevin Hart and Chief Commercial Officer Mike Sievert, will be leaving the company as well. Hit the break for the full press release. More →
During last week’s iPad 2 media event, Apple announced an update to the iOS version of its iMovie video editing application and introduced a new version of its GarageBand audio application for the iPad. Like the iPad 2, GarageBand and the updated iMovie were given a March 11th release date, but like iOS 4.3 the applications have made themselves available a little early. Both apps extend the multimedia capabilities of the iPad, with on-device video and audio viewing, editing, and sharing — the iPhone will not have access to GarageBand 1.0. Both applications are priced at $4.99 and available immediately in the App Store. More →
We’ve just heard from two independent sources that the HTC ThunderBolt is now scheduled to launch on March 21st, following repeated delays. While our tipsters don’t have proven track records in this case, the date lines up with an earlier report that noted a March 21st release date briefly featured on HTC’s Facebook page. We’ll see soon enough!
It’s the company’s first, and we’re guessing it won’t be the last. Apple is constructing a pop-up store in Austin, Texas to coincide with the launch of the iPad 2 and the ever-popular SXSW festival, which is taking place over the next week and a half. It’s being reported that Apple has rented out a 5,000 square foot, empty retail location that it will stock with Apple employees and merchandise for conference goers traveling outside of their normal stomping grounds. No word yet on whether VeriFone’s CEO will create a video demonstrating flaws with Apple’s iPod touch EasyPay system, however. More →
It looks like everyone’s favorite themed, fowl-flinging game — Angry Birds Seasons — has been updated to celebrate the March 17th holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. The game has been updated with fifteen new levels, and although the fledglings aren’t actually packing pig-slaying shillelaghs (don’t worry, they are in our heads), the game is littered with shamrocks, leprechaun hats, and pots o’ gold. The company definitely has a little bit of that “luck of the Irish” this month, as today they announced $42 million in Series A funding — led by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström’s company, Accel Partners. Ina Fried of Mobilized reports that Rovio was a bit hesitant to take on venture partners. “It took a while to convince them of the ways we might be able to help,” said Rich Wong of Accel Partners. “They didn’t really need the capital.” Rovio intends to use the funding to help expand and grow the company. “All of these people have been there to build billion dollar companies,” said Rovio’s Mikael Hed. “While being valued at a billion or several billion dollars isn’t an end goal in itself, it’s an interesting metric.” If you’re interested in helping Rovio reach a billion dollar valuation, you can head on over to your mobile platforms app store and download Angry Birds.
In January 2009, legendary singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder went to the Consumer Electronics Show and asked companies to consider the blind when building their wares. At the time, Wonder had the iPhone in mind — and Apple would answer the call. The company made its popular smartphone much more accessible to the blind in its subsequent software release by adding a great VoiceOver feature. According to recent rumors, the iPhone could soon become even more accessible thanks to the introduction of more robust voice controls. But developers are doing their part as well, and one in particular recently released an application that helps emphasize the kind of power smartphones have to make people’s lives easier. More →
According to new data issued by wireless market intelligence firm Berg Insight on Thursday, the global smartphone market grew by nearly three-quarters in 2010. Global smartphone shipments hit 295 million units for the year, a 74% increase over 2009 totals. The firm anticipates that shipments will hit a staggering 1.2 billion units in 2015, at which time there will be an estimated 2.8 billion smartphone users scattered across the globe. Berg sees the bulk of the growth coming from mid and low-end smartphone sales, which will continue to become more capable moving forward. “Chipset developers and handset vendors are working on technologies that will ensure a good user experience also for low cost smartphones,” said Senior Analyst André Malm in a statement. “The challenge is to develop a handset with enough memory, graphics performance and processing power to run the operating system with multiple applications while ensuring a responsive system with fluid user interface and still keep costs down.” Hit the break for the full press release. More →
Android 3.0 — or “Honeycomb,” as Google lovingly calls it — is not fit for mass consumption. This according to analyst Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research, who calls Google’s tablet-friendly operating system “by the geeks, for the geeks, and of the geeks,” and says it has little chance of mass adoption. In a note to investors on Wednesday, Chowdhry lambasted Honeycomb and said it would fail. In a bizarre twist, however, the analyst also said the failure wouldn’t matter because “Honeycomb is insignificant to Google revenues.” As an ocean of consumer electronics OEMs bet the bank on tablets and Honeycomb (along with future Android builds that will be based on Honeycomb) quickly becomes the platform of choice, we’re pretty sure Google stands to make a buck or two off of the Google services all these potential users will have tossed on their laps. But Chowdry thinks Google should stick to the Web, where consumers won’t complain about buggy products because they’re free. When an $800 Motorola XOOM crashes repeatedly, however, “the consumer is unforgiving.” More →