Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who was recently arrested and charged with racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering, may be able to reclaim his seized assets due to a botched court order, according to a report from the New Zealand Herald. Police raided Dotcom’s home on January 19th and seized, among other valuable assets, his cash, cars and mansion. New Zealand police have admitted to making a “procedural error” when filing documents to seize Dotcom’s property, however. A court has ruled that the incorrect restraining order is “null and void” and has “no legal effect.” The publication states there is no guarantee Dotcom will get his assets back though, as his lawyers must first prove a lack of good faith when the procedural error was made. More →
It’s more like a pre-prenuptial agreement, but you get the idea. T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telecom, has confirmed that it stands to receive a $6 billion settlement from AT&T should the companies’ proposed merger fall through. According to DT, a $3 billion cash payment would be made along with additional spectrum and a national roaming agreement. While the exact valuation of the spectrum and roaming agreement was not disclosed, Reuters appraises the two intangibles at close to $3 billion. Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice are all scrutinizing the proposed deal, which would make AT&T the largest wireless provider in the United States. There are sure to be plenty of twists and turns along the way, but once thing is certain: a large sum of money is going to be debited from AT&T’s coffers no matter the regulatory outcome. More →
Analytics company Flurry has published an interesting study involving Android, iOS, and the U.S. video game market. Following up on a report from 2009, the company notes that the two mobile operating systems accounted for 8% of all U.S. video game sales in 2010 when calculated by revenue. What’s even more interesting is where both Android and iOS are taking their share from: portable gaming players. Console software revenues grew by 5% from 2009 to 2010 — 71% to 75% respectively — with portable gaming systems (e.g. Sony PSP, Nintendo DS) revenue falling nearly 8% in during the same period. Combined, Android and iOS accounted for 34% of all U.S. portable gaming software revenues — behind the Nintendo DS with 57% and ahead of Sony’s PSP with just 9%. Portable game software was a $2.4 billion business in 2010, with overall U.S. video game software revenues hovering around $10.7 billion. “Over 2011, we expect to see continued and significant smart-device game growth fueled by the recent launch of iPad 2, iPhone coming into distribution on Verizon, the expected release of iPhone 5, a relentless expansion of Android devices by leading OEMs across all major U.S. carriers, and Google’s enablement of in-app purchase billing, a proven key driver in iOS game revenue,” reads Flurry’s report. Smartphones and tablets may not be immersive enough for the most hardcore mobile gamers, but they seem to be more than adequate for most. More →
Charges have been filed by federal prosecutors in Seattle against a Microsoft employee accused of wire fraud. Robert D. Curry was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with stealing $515,000 from Microsoft using a series of wire transfers sent from Microsoft to Curry’s bank account. According to Curry, the transfers were payments for services rendered but prosecutors contend that Curry provided no such services. According to the charges, Curry created a shell company and used one of Microsoft’s vendors, which was unaware of Curry’s actions, to funnel money into his account between April and November last year. The FBI claims Curry collected a series of fraudulent payments from Microsoft, having misled the company by claiming the payments were being made to Microsoft vendor Pentad Solutions. Prosecutors say Curry used the stolen funds to pay for high-end audio equipment, credit card bills and a ski vacation. More →
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 →
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that U.S. wireless providers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are working on a joint project that aims to bring a mobile-phone payment system Stateside. Purportedly, the effort is being headed by General Electric executive Michael Abbott and will be financed by Barclays PLC and Discover Financial Services.
“The rare showing of cooperation between three of the four national carriers creates a potentially large base of users for its mobile-payment system,” writes the Journal. “The carriers are eager to move into mobile transactions because it represents a new revenue stream and another feature that gets subscribers spending more time on their phone.”
The report goes on to note that the announcement of the new service’s existence could come as early as today. Mobile payments systems have been in use in Canada and Europe for several years. More →
Digital Daily has published an interesting report about the profitability of Apple retail stores. The report states that in Apple’s last quarter — Q3 for Apple — the fruit company’s retail arm brought in $2.58 billion, a 72.8% jump from Q2 of 2009. In a retrospective comparison, Digital Daily notes that $2.58 billion is, “greater than the company’s total quarterly revenue from the second quarter of fiscal 1996 through the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004.” The iPad is being given credit for much of the retail success, the launch has, “generated a 38.7 percent increase in visitors per store, a 52.9 percent increase in same-store revenues, and a stunning 106.3 percent increase in non-Mac revenues.” We’ve heard that Apple retail stores gross more than double (per square foot) than high-end retailer Tiffany’s, and with numbers like this, we aren’t having a hard time believing it. More →
We are thinking some of you may have entirely forgot about Sony Ericsson’s XPERIA X10 Android handset — we know we pretty much have. That’s not stopping it from making an official, carrier appearance in the US, however. We have been told that the Sony Ericsson X10 has finally passed through AT&T’s technical acceptance process and should be available in the “coming weeks.” We don’t have any sort of pricing, but we’d wager a $149-$199 price point with a two year agreement. Lastly, the other SE handset, the Vivaz (codenamed Monet) should be hitting the Death Star carrier as early as September.
Here’s a list we wouldn’t mind being on. A recent Wall Street Journal study found that Larry Ellison, Oracle’s CEO, has received over $1.84 billion in compensation over the last decade, making him the highest paid CEO in the world. The WSJ estimates Ellison’s personal worth at roughly $28 billion. Another notable tech persona on the list is Steve Jobs. While Jobs only grosses $1 annually in salary his compensation package is quite lucrative. The study estimates that Jobs has received over $749 million over the last 10 years, and ranks fourth on the CEO list. The prophet Christopher Wallace once said, “more money, more problems” (I think technically it was “mo money, mo problems” but you get the point)… wouldn’t you love to have a shot at that inconvenience? More →
Sure, this doesn’t exactly fit in with what we normally cover at BGR, but when we saw what the Treasury Department did with the design of the newly unveiled $100 bill we just couldn’t help but whip up this post. To enter into circulation in February 2011, the new $100 bill features a range of new security features that will help the average person discern what’s real from what’s fake. The two features Uncle Sam is most proud about are the 3D Security Ribbon and the Bell in the Inkwell. The 3D Security Ribbon is on the front of the bill, and is laced with images of bells and 100s which shift into one another when the note is tilted. The Bell in the Inkwell, found immediately to the right of the 3D Security Ribbon, changes from copper to green when the bill is moved giving the illusion of the bell disappearing into the inkwell. Other features and items that have been enhanced from the previous design includes a portrait watermark of Benjamin Franklin, a security thread, color-shifting 100, a gold 100, raised printing, and microprinting. If you happen to have a few stacks stacks of $100s lying around, don’t worry about them losing their status as legal tender because the Treasury Department isn’t planning on recalling the any of the existing 6.5 billion bills. If you’re pretty confused about all of this, just click the read link. The ol’ reliable forces of bureaucracy have assembled what looks to be a rather comprehensive (and no doubt expensive) website that’s chock-full of informative goodness. More →
Crazy but true… China’s Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center is offering a monetary reward to online surfers who send in information about pornographic websites. The first person to send in information about a particular website will receive a reward of 1,000 ($146) to 10,000 ($1,460) yuan with the award amount being determined by a committee within the Center. Even though citizens can surmise that the data collected in this government sponsored peep show will be used to censor these websites, the program has been wildly successful. In the first 24 hours of operation, the Centre reportedly received 500 phone call tips and 13,000 online tips. Wow! To maintain our high moral standards, we will reserve further comment on this one and let you, our readers, engage in a stimulating discussion in the comments below. We know it will be good. More →
Remember back in July when a handful of Nokia’s trademark applications were uncovered, launching unending speculation about tidbits such as “C Series”, “X Series” and “Booklet”? Well Booklet ended up being a netbook, as suspected, and we’re still waiting to see how the C and X series end up materializing. One of the trademarks that didn’t receive much attention however, was “Nokia Money”. We all assumed it had to do with a mobile payment platform of some kind and as it turns out, it does. Nokia announced its new Nokia Money platform built on top of Obopay this morning, that will provide a Paypal-like service using mobile phone numbers as identifiers rather than email addresses. From the release:
Nokia Money has been designed to be as simple and convenient as making a voice call or sending an SMS. It will enable consumers to send money to another person just by using the person’s mobile phone number, as well as to pay merchants for goods and services, pay their utility bills, or recharge their prepaid SIM cards (SIM top-up). The services can be accessed 24 hours a day from anywhere, meaning savings in travel costs and time. Nokia is building a wide network of Nokia Money agents, where consumers can deposit money in or withdraw cash from their accounts.
We don’t anticipate seeing the service become available in the US any time soon, if ever. It would be nice to see a company step up to make mobile banking more of a reality in America but considering Nokia’s lack of presence here, we doubt it will be the company to lead the pack. Abroad however, where Paypal isn’t quite the force it is here — the Paypal service isn’t even available in many regions — Nokia is poised to supplement its dwindling mobile revenues with a service that could see big returns initially and bigger returns in the long run. More details will be revealed next week at Nokia World and we’re definitely looking forward to it.