Google on Tuesday unveiled its new “Google Drive” cloud storage solution, taking direct aim at Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Dropbox and other similar services. The new offering includes 5GB of free cloud-based storage and allows users to store, collaborate on, and share documents and other files. At the same time as its new Google Drive service was rolling out across the Web, Google also quietly gave Gmail users a capacity boost of more than 35% according to reports. Gmail launched in 2004 with 1GB of free storage and that figure has been increasing steadily to just over 7GB as of earlier this week. On Tuesday, Gmail’s free storage climbed to 10GB according to a report from Engadget. We haven’t seen the storage boost hit our inboxes yet, but a number of users reportedly have. Google has not formally announced the update. More →
According to a purported T-Mobile memo obtained by TmoNews, the nation’s No.4 carrier may be looking to increase the price of its premium 5GB and ultra 10GB unlimited data packages. The change could go into effect as early as April 4th and would add an additional $5 to the cost each plan. The 5GB plan will jump from $35 to $40 per month and the 10GB plan will increase from $65 to $70. T-Mobile’s Value Plan pricing will remain unchanged. The premium and ultra plan increases will only apply to customers who sign up for service after the effective date, however. The price increase comes as the carrier is looking to restructure and in doing so, will also cut 5% of its workforce and close seven call centers over the next three months. A second leaked T-Mobile image can be found after the break. More →
Foxconn confirmed on Friday that it has raised wages for its factory workers by 16% to 25%, Reuters reports. The original device manufacturer, which is the No.1 maker of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, has raised wages to 1,800 yuan ($285) per month and may again raise them above 2,200 yuan ($349) for workers who pass a technical examination. In comparison, pay three years ago was 900 yuan ($143) per month. “As a top manufacturing company in China, the basic salary of junior workers in all of Foxconn’s China factories is already far higher than the minimum wage set by all local governments,” the company said in a statement. Foxconn has come under fire on numerous occasions due to allegations of poor working conditions, however the company is working to improve. “We will provide more training opportunities and learning time, and will continuously enhance technology, efficiency and salary, so as to set a good example for the Chinese manufacturing industry,” a company spokesperson said. Foxconn’s announcement comes on the heel of the Fair Labor Association’s preliminary assessment of the company’s plants, which are said to have conditions that are better than most.
Consumer technology hardware sales in the United States fell 0.5% percent in 2011, ending the year just shy of $144 billion according to market research firm The NPD Group. Roughly 60% of all sales were from PCs, TVs, tablets, eReaders, mobile phones and video game hardware, NPD said. Computers generated the most revenue with nearly $28 billion or roughly 20% of sales, with tablets and eReaders doubling sales to $15 billion in 2011. For the second year in a row, Apple led all consumer electronics brands and was the only one to increase sales during the holiday quarter, posting a 36% year-over-year increase. The Cupertino-based company accounted for 19% percent of all sales, almost double second-ranked Hewlett-Packard. Best Buy was the top retailer for the second year in a row, followed by Walmart and Apple respectively, with Staples and Amazon tied for fourth place. Online, direct mail and TV shopping channel sales increased 7% and accounted for 24% of all sales, up from 22% in 2010. Read on for NPD’s press release. More →
Global tablet sales reached 67 million units in 2011 and are expected to grow 38.8% annually to 248.6 million by the end of 2015, according to a new market report from Transparency Market Research. Led by Apple’s iPad, tablet sales increased 275.5% in 2011 from 17.8 million units sold in 2010. Smartphone sales in 2011 hit 468.9 million units, a 66.7% increase over 2010 sales of 282 million units, and sales are expected to reach 1.05 billion in 2015 with Asia accounting for 39.5% of the market. Smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2011 beat the combined sales from the full year of 2008, the report notes. The leap in sales was largely driven by consumer and enterprise adoption of the iPhone 4S, which shipped more than 36 million units in the quarter. Read on for Transparency Market Research’s press release. More →
Apple Stores are often busy and with the release of new iPhones and iPads, Apple’s retail locations become bombarded with waves of excited customers. According to Needham & Company analyst Charlie Wolf, the launch of the iPhone 4S sent Apple Store sales to record heights during the holiday quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2011, revenue per store reached $17.08 million, a 42.6% increase over the same quarter in 2010. The average number of visitors per store was up 15.3% annually and sales per square foot reached $2,033 for the quarter — by comparison, the company’s nearest retail rival Tiffany & Co. saw sales of $2,974 per square foot last quarter, Fortune noted. Apple currently has 361 retail locations with 40 more planned for 2012, 30 of which will open overseas. The company currently has five locations in China and is looking to increase that number to 25 within the next three years. More →
Though late to the finish line, it looks like Sprint is finally ready to follow AT&T and Verizon Wireless’ lead and bump its contract termination fee to $350 for “advanced devices.” Sprint confirmed on Wednesday that it will soon increase its early termination fee (ETF) from $200 to $350 beginning in early September. The 75% increase will impact subscribers who purchase subsidized smartphones, tablets, netbooks and notebooks, and the ETF will continue to be prorated as it is currently. The change is set to go into effect on September 9th according to a company spokesperson, and the timing is anything but curious. Sprint is expected to finally begin selling Apple smartphones when the iPhone 5 launches in October, and this big ETF bump is likely an effort to prevent consumers from buying and flying. EBay would likely crumble under the weight of all the new auctions if people were able to purchase the iPhone 5 for as little as $399 with no contract to worry about. More →
A new report recently issued by the security firm McAfee suggests that the number of malware applications targeting Android devices jumped 76% during the second quarter of this year, making Android the “most attacked” mobile operating system. “This year we’ve seen record-breaking numbers of malware, especially on mobile devices, where the uptick is in direct correlation to popularity,” senior vice president of McAfee labs Vincent Weafer said. Android users typically install the malware accidentally and assume the app is from a safe and legitimate developer. The most prevalent malware-infected modified applications were:
- Android/Jmsonez.A - a calendar app that sends SMS texts to a premium rate number.
- Android/Smsmecap.A – a fake comedy app that sends SMS texts to everyone in the user’s address book.
- Android/DroidKungFu – malware that is capable of installing its own software and updates.
- Android/DrdDreamLite – capable of sending data back to the attacker.
McAfee also noted a number of popular Android Trojans that have been making their way through devices. In addition, the company released compelling figures for how much a hacker can sell stolen email addresses for. In the United States, for example, 10,000,000 addresses can be sold to spammers for roughly $300. Read on for McAffee’s full press release, which includes several data points for PCs, too. More →
Netflix could shed as many as 2.5 million paying customers as a result of its recent move to significantly increase the monthly cost of its DVDs-by-mail rental service. Netflix announced earlier this month that it would be adjusting its monthly rate plans. Whereas subscribers had been able to stream unlimited digital content and receive DVD rentals by mail for as little as $9.99 per month, Netflix’s new combination plans start at $15.98 per month, a 60% increase. Research firm TDG polled 500 Netflix customers who subscribed to DVD and streaming combination plans at the time Netflix announced the price hike. Based on the results of that survey, TDG estimates that Netflix stands to lose between 12% and 15% of combo plan subscribers within the next six months due to the new plan pricing. That would translate to between 2 million and 2.5 million subscribers — or a minimum of nearly $240 million annually. Many subscribers who might stay around also say they intend to switch off of their current combo plans; 34% told TDG they will switch to a streaming-only plan and 44% said they will opt for a DVD-only plan. Netflix warned investors during its earnings call that the rate plan changes could have a negative impact on its business in the near term. More →
Cablevision’s Optimum Wi-Fi service, free for subscribers, has been extremely popular in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut tri-state area, giving customers access to fast Wi-Fi from tens of thousands of locations. Today, Cablevision is announcing that the company has bumped up speeds at all Wi-Fi locations to 15Mbps down and 4Mbps up — the same speeds home subscribers get with entry-level Optimum Online service. Over 500,000 people use Optimum’s free Wi-Fi service, and this move makes Optimum’s Wi-Fi faster than any 3G or 4G network, barring Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network, which we’ve seen trump those numbers from time to time. Additionally, Cablevision previously partnered with Time Warner and Comcast to allow customers of all three providers to roam onto all three provider’s Wi-Fi networks, so this change affects Time Warner and Comcast subscribers as well which is great. The full press release is after the break, and the new download and upload speeds are already available across the tri-state area. More →
AT&T has confirmed to BGR that it has made changes to early upgrade pricing for its smartphones. The changes impact customers who wish to upgrade to a new smartphone but are not yet eligible for an upgrade at fully discounted two-year contract prices. An imminent change to AT&T’s early upgrade pricing for smartphones was first reported on Friday by Android enthusiast blog Android Central. AT&T has now confirmed that off-contract early upgrade pricing has increased by $50 for all smartphones including the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, Windows Phones and Android devices. Pricing has increased by $150 when the aforementioned devices are purchased with a one-year agreement. “We’ve updated our early upgrade and no commitment price points for smartphones and feature phones,” an AT&T spokesperson told BGR. “Only customers who are not yet upgrade eligible or who do not want to sign a contract are impacted. As mobile devices become more sophisticated, their cost goes up. This change reflects the increased costs, while still allowing us to offer customers the latest device before they qualify. We’re happy to discuss individual account and upgrade needs one-on-one with customers.”
Back in November, a leaked email from Apple to record label representatives indicated that 90 second song previews were in the works for the iTunes Music Store. Today, without much fanfare, the Cupertino company has begun to roll out the extended song previews to its digital music store. The site’s current top albums all have received the upgrade treatment, although, most songs still have the original 30 second previews. Apple has yet to issue a press release formally announcing the feature.
What was once rumored is now a reality. Netflix has announced that beginning today the company will offer a new, streaming-only service option for $7.99 per month. The plan, which does not include any by-mail DVD rentals, allows users to stream available titles to their televisions, mobile devices, and computer screens. “Creating the best user experience that we can around watching instantly is how we’re spending the vast majority of our time and resources,” reads the press release.
The second, and less attractive bit of this story, is that the company also plans to increase monthly plan prices by anywhere from $1 to $8. Netflix did not offer any explanation for the increases, but did note that the price of its two most popular plans — one DVD and 2 DVDs — will only rise by $1. Hit the bounce to see how your Netflix plan will be affected. More →