Barnes & Nobles (BKS) announced on Friday that Pearson (PSO) will invest $89.5 million in cash in its NOOK Media business, giving the company a 5% equity stake. Earlier this year, Microsoft (MSFT) dropped $300 million for a 17.6% stake in NOOK Media. Pearson’s investment now leaves Barnes & Noble with 78.2% of the company while Microsoft holds a 16.8% stake. More →
The Nubia Z5 isn’t the only feature-packed smartphone ZTE plans to release. The company is preparing to show off its Grand S, a 6.9-millimeter thick smartphone with a 5-inch full-HD display and a 13-megapixel camera rear camera. ZTE claims the Grand S will be the world’s thinnest 5-inch smartphone. According to UnwiredView the ZTE Grand S is also rumored to have a 1.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (APQ8064) processor, 2GB of RAM and a 2,500 mAh battery – slightly larger than the Nubia Z5’s 2,300 mAh battery. ZTE plans to reveal the Grand S’s full specs and price at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. One thing is for sure, the company is embracing large-screened smartphones like no other. Aside from the Nubia Z5 and Grand S, the company also recently teased a monstrous 5.9-inch Windows Phone 8-powered ‘phablet.”
The Ouya console is no longer vaporware. The company announced on its blog on Friday that 1,200 Ouya console developer kits are boxed up and ready to be shipped out to awaiting programmers. Each kit includes a frosted translucent Ouya console that is about the size of a coffee mug, two frosted translucent controllers with batteries, an HDMI cable, a power cable and a Micro USB cable. As Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman explains in the unboxing video below, the console’s design might still be tweaked and the feel of the controller will undergo a few minor changes before it ships to consumers in March.
Despite a “soft” launch with few lines and seemingly abundant availability, China is going crazy for the iPad mini according Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White. His checks in China and Hong Kong reveal consumers are snapping up iPad minis at rapid rates, causing short supply, even with Apple (AAPL) opening two new retail stores in Hong Kong and three in China. White wrote in a research note on Friday that the iPad mini was sold-out at virtually all Apple Stores in both regions this week and is already more popular than the fourth-generation iPad thanks to the tablet’s smaller size and lower price.
In a country where Internet addiction is a growing concern and playing StarCraft is considered a sport, South Korea is taking the necessary measures to curb “illegal [and] harmful information” according to NEWSis. The South Korean government is reportedly preparing to block profanity and pornography on smartphones owned by teenagers by installing special software on their devices. The plans, meant to crack down on cyber-bullying, will run the gamut from Twitter to Facebook (FB) – basically everything. It’s unclear if South Korea will implement the ban on tablets as well.
Motorola’s DROID RAZR M is arguably one of the best Android smartphones with a display under 4.5-inches. Its edge-to-edge screen might not be as sharp as the 720p and 1080p resolution displays other smartphones tout, but its combination of its superior battery life coupled with Smart Actions optimization clearly give it an edge for road warriors. Now, PhoneArena is reporting that the company is planning to release an “HD” version of the RAZR M with a 4.5-inch screen featuring 1280 x 720-pixel resolution and 326 ppi. The RAZR M HD is rumored to have a Snapdragon S4 Plus chip with a 1.5GHz dual-core Krait processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot and a huge 3,300 mAh battery. PhoneArena has not confirmed any of the specs or vetted its anonymous source.
Five-year-old Brandon Giles must have been excited to receive a Nintendo 3DS for Christmas — at least, he was until he turned it on. According to 9News, Giles’ father bought a refurbished 3DS from GameStop (GME) in Colorado for his son. However, when his son turned it on and started poking around, he found nine pornographic images of two people in a bed and asked his brother to help him erase them. That’s when the father gave GameStop a call. GameStop’s response was that the images were most likely left over from its previous owner and an employee failed to properly wipe out the data on the 3DS before re-stocking it. More →
The Galaxy S III isn’t the only device getting new software features. Samsung (005930) confirmed on its website that the original Galaxy Note will be updated to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which should mean it’ll run faster thanks to UI enhancements from “Project Butter.” Samsung-specific features including multi-window view for true multitasking, pop-up apps, photo frame mode, enhanced S Note and Google Now will also be available in the “Premium Suite” update. Essentially, the Galaxy Note will gain many of the features already available in the Galaxy Note II. The company didn’t provide any firm details on when the update will be released, but it should be any day now.
Earlier this year, BlueStacks App Player made headlines by allowing Android apps run on Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows 8 platform. The company announced on Thursday its App Player is now available in beta form for free on Mac, giving OS X users access to 750,000 Android apps normally reserved for smartphones and tablets. More →
Good news: there’s a workaround to fix the issues related to the bug where Google Music’s music-matching service replaced explicit versions of songs with clean ones. Droid-Life reports that users who are seeing the issue should do click on the arrow next to each song or album title. Then select “Fix incorrect match” from the drop down menu. That should then upload the correct version of the song from your library into the Google (GOOG) cloud and replace the wrong one. Google’s music-matching service launched on December 18th in the U.S. as a free alternative to Apple’s (AAPL) $25 iTunes Match service and Amazon’s (AMZN) $25 Cloud Player.
In a survey of more than 24,000 customers, Apple’s (AAPL) online customer satisfaction during the Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping seasons was found to be at its lowest in the past four years according to Forsee, an industry analyst firm. Apple slipped out of the top five for highest online customer satisfaction during the holiday shopping season, falling to a score of 80/100 – a drop of three points from 2011. Meanwhile, Amazon (AMZN) maintained its spot at the top with a score of 88/100. Forsee’s survey based the scores on “appeal of merchandise, website functionality, and the quality of website content.” The survey’s full findings are available below. More →
Cramming more megapixels into a smartphone with the thickness of a pencil is not the future of mobile picture-taking. Smartphones have hit a threshold where 8-megapixels is more than enough for taking crisp still shots and 1080p HD video. Many smartphones even perform decent under low-light conditions. But according to the Asahi Shimbun, Toshiba (TOSBF) has a new camera module that could change the way we take photos on smartphones anda tablets, forever. More →
Another week, another batch of purported leaks for Research In Motion’s (RIMM) first BlackBerry 10-powered Z10. BBin claims to have most of the Z10’s final specs confirmed and it is shaping up to be a powerful device. Rumored specs for the Z10 include a TI OMAP 4470 1.5GHz dual-core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 for the U.S. and Canada), a 4.2-inch display (1,280 x 768 resolution), quad-band LTE, 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, a 2-megapixel front camera, a microSD card slot, and an 1,800 mAh removable battery. On the connectivity side, the Z10 is also rumored to have NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi, A-GPS, a Micro USB port and a Micro HDMI-out port. BlackBerry 10’s January 30th unveiling in New York City can’t come soon enough.