Archive for June 14th, 2012
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HELSINKI/NEW DELHI: Mobile handset firm Nokia today said it will sell its luxury mobile brand Vertu to private equity firm EQT VI for an undisclosed amount.
The move is a part of Nokia’s strategy to dispose of its non-core assets.
“Nokia has agreed terms for EQT VI, part of the leading private equity group in Northern Europe, to acquire Vertu, the global leader in luxury mobile phones from Nokia,” the company said in a statement.
Nokia said it would retain a minority shareholding of 10 per cent in Vertu.
However, the company has not disclosed financial details of the transaction but according to media reports the deal size could be around USD 250 million.
“This is a logical next step in the evolution of Vertu as the world leader in luxury mobile products,” Vertu President Perry Oosting said.
“Since Vertu began in 1998, our business has grown every year, due to the efforts of our talented workforce and the unique products and services we offer to our customers. We believe that EQT VI will position Vertu to continue to grow and lead in our marketplace,” Oosting added.
Finnish mobile maker, which has been witnessing a tough competition from rivals Samsung and Apple Inc in the smartphone category, said the deal is expected to close during the second half of the year.
EQT VI said Vertu fits well the firms investment strategy and plans to develop the brand as a standalone company.
“With its strong brand, undisputed category leadership and attractive growth outlook, Vertu fits well with EQT VI’s investment strategy.
“EQT VI is excited about the opportunity to develop Vertu as a standalone company and plans to drive the development of the luxury mobile phone category through significant investments in retail expansion, marketing and product development,” Investment Advisor to EQT VI Jan Stahlberg said.
In a separate announcement, Nokia today announced slashing of 10,000 jobs worldwide by end of 2013. Besides, it also made changes in senior management following the resignation of three officials including Chief Marketing Officer Jerri DeVard.
SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter added Wednesday to the array of online content people could preview in messages without having to click on links included in tweets.
People who access the one-to-many text messaging service online at twitter.com or mobile.twitter.com were provided more opportunities to “expand tweets” with looks at pictures, videos, news article headlines or other content.
“You’ve probably expanded tweets before to play videos from YouTube or see photos from Instagram,” Twitter product team director Michael Sippey said in a blog post.
“Now, a diverse and growing group of new partners like the The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC’s Breaking News, and TIME also deliver rich content inside tweets containing a link to those websites.”
Expanded links to articles posted in participating publications such as Der Spiegel or the San Francisco Chronicle will show headlines and story introductions, and sometimes the Twitter accounts of the writers or publishers.
Previews will also be available for links to video from Twitter partners such as Lifetime television network and French video-sharing website Dailymotion, according to Sippey.
Twitter said expanded tweets available at the service through Web browsers would be “coming soon” to its applications for iPhones and Android-powered smartphones.
Eliminating the need for Twitter users to navigate away to other websites gives the San Francisco-based firm more opportunities to make revenue with “promoted tweets.”
Time Inc, once the magazine industry’s most ardent opponent of selling subscriptions through Apple, will make all of its magazines available via Apple’s newsstand, the two companies said Wednesday. Laura Lang, Time Inc’s chief executive, and Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for Internet software and services, said in a phone interview that they had reached an agreement that would allow readers to subscribe to 20 Time Inc magazines, including People, Sports Illustrated, InStyle and Entertainment Weekly, through the newsstand section of Apple’s App Store. The move is a significant shift for Time Inc, the largest magazine publisher in the United States. Even as competitors like Conde Nast and Hearst quickly struck deals to sell subscriptions through Apple, Time Inc approached the Apple newsstand with caution, chafing at some of the restrictions Apple wanted to impose. Although it was one of the earliest publishers to introduce digital and tablet editions of its magazines, Time Inc had until now sold only the app version of single issues of its magazines through Apple. Print subscribers could use an “authentication” process to gain access to iPad and tablet editions at no additional cost. The deal is the first major initiative by Lang, who took over Time Inc. in January after serving as chief executive of the digital ad agency Digitas. She said the deal with Apple was a top priority. “For a magazine or brand like People or Time, a tablet will become an increasingly important part of the experience,” Lang said. “Our goal is to offer content where our consumers want to read it.” The agreement also signals an evolution for Apple, which has slowly backed away from some of its initial restrictions. Facing competition from Amazon, which sells magazine subscriptions for its Kindle, and Google, which has Android software, Apple has become a more agreeable partner, publishing executives have said. Neither Apple nor Time Inc would discuss the exact financial terms of the agreement, but Cue said Time Inc’s heft did not influence them. “We offer the same terms to everyone no matter how big or how small,” he said. The Apple newsstand sells more than 5,000 magazines and newspapers. The majority of the more than 5 million newsstand customers buy subscriptions rather than single issues, Cue said. Adding magazines like People, Sports Illustrated and Time, three of the top five magazines overall in circulation revenue in 2011, was essential, he added. The agreement also moves Apple further along in its strategy of expanding its App Store beyond popular games like Angry Birds and making it more of a destination for news, information and videos. Last fall, when Apple’s newsstand began, publishers criticized the tech company for not releasing subscriber data, which publishers value because they can use it to customize ads and show advertisers who they are reaching. That friction has eased as Apple has offered readers the ability to “opt in” on sharing data with publishers. Now, 66 per cent of tablet users said they would share personal information in return for advertising that fits their needs, according to a survey from the Association of Magazine Media. Another point of contention for Time Inc’s parent company, Time Warner, was the control Apple wielded over pricing and the 30 per cent commission it demanded for magazine subscriptions bought through its App Store. “The only deal we have not done is with Apple and to cede to their demands to sell digital subscriptions,” Jeffrey L Bewkes, chief executive of Time Warner, said in a November 30 interview, just after announcing Lang’s appointment. “They want you to be subscribing to them, and the last time we looked they weren’t making the magazines,” Bewkes said of Apple. A Time Warner spokesman, Gary Ginsberg, said in an email: “We watched newsstand evolve over the last year and became satisfied they understand our customers and can meet our needs.” Cue said Apple’s relationship with publishers evolved as the iPad became a more common way for people to read. “There was some controversy early on because it was something new and hadn’t been done before,” he said. Subscribers to the print edition of Time Inc magazines can now authenticate their print subscription or buy a subscription through a website and receive the magazine’s newsstand app at no additional charge. Lang did not comment on Time Inc’s previous stance toward Apple. “It’s hard for me to talk about what happened before, but when I joined this was a top priority because this is where our consumers are,” she said. Like the rest of the print publishing business, Time Inc. has in recent years grappled with a decline in print advertising revenue and an uncertain transition to a digital future. Revenue has declined roughly 30 per cent in the last five years, and advertising revenue in the first quarter of this year dropped by 5 per cent, or $19 million.
Google wants love. But so do six other companies. They are after .love, actually, a new “top-level domain” that could catch on as .com, .org and .net did.
Love might not prevail, but chances are, at least one of the domains in 1,930 applications for new extensions will. The domains are the letters that follow the dot in Internet addresses, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, revealed the new requests on Wednesday.
Google proved to be one of the more ambitious applicants. It spent almost $18.7 million applying for more than 100 top-level domains, some expected, some not. Not surprisingly, the search giant wants .google, .youtube, .goog and .plus. It was the only applicant vying for .fly, .new and .eat. But it is going to have to fight Johnson & Johnson for .baby, Microsoft for .docs and .live, and Amazon for 17 top-level domains: .wow, .search, .shop, .drive, .free, .game, .mail, .map, .movie, .music, .play, .shop, .show, .spot, .store, .talk and .you.
Amazon also went after .tunes, .got, .author, .smile, .song, .joy, .bot, .like and .call. It does not appear that Facebook applied for any domain. Apple applied for .apple.
The most sought-after extension is .app, with 13 applicants though not Apple, which popularized the mobile application.
“The Internet is about to change forever,” said Rod Beckstrom, chief executive of ICANN.
ICANN is expected to approve hundreds of these extensions, the first of which should be in use by next year. ICANN set the application fee high, at $185,000 a name, to try to discourage frivolous bids; still, more than 200 terms are being sought by more than one bidder. ICANN decides who gets ownership of the contested top-level domains.
ICANN will evaluate applicants in batches and consider various objections. Among the objections it will consider are those from rights holders. It would have very likely thrown out an application for .microsoft from an entity that is not Microsoft. The most common objection is likely to be the “limited public interest condition.” In those cases, people might object to a profit-making company like Google owning a generic top-level domain name like .love or .fun.
The geographical origin of the applications demonstrates the increasingly international nature of the Internet. While nearly half of the bids are from North America, more than 600 have come from Europe and about 300 from the Asia-Pacific region.
More than 100 of the applications are for extensions in non-Western alphabets. While so-called internationalized domain names have been phased in since 2010, the current expansion could accelerate the globalization of the Internet, Beckstrom said.
“That is going to mean a lot to the people in countries who maybe feel they haven’t benefited fully from the Internet,” he said.
While there are already several hundred dot suffixes, many of these, including country-specific domain names like .co.uk, come with restrictions. There are only a handful of so-called generic top-level domains, including .info, .net, .org and the popular .com – which, according to supporters of the expansion plan, is running out of capacity for accommodating the digital world’s ever-growing addressing needs.
The expansion creates an opportunity for marketers, who will be able to develop websites with addresses ending in their companies’ brand names, or an entire category of products or services, like .music or .insurance.
There is also a lingering question about whether the new suffixes are needed at all. Some top-level domains that ICANN has created in previous, smaller expansion rounds have attracted little interest. Many consumers find websites via search engines, rather than typing in an exact Web address. Others are increasingly using mobile applications, rather than the open Internet.
“This is an opportunity for brands, cities and countries to step out of what was this very limited – in my view – environment in which they could promote their brands,” said Alex Berry, senior vice president for enterprise services at Neustar, an Internet registry service that is working with clients like New York City, which is seeking the .nyc name. “This is a positive, a once-in-a-generation opportunity that we’ll look back on 10 years from now and say, ‘Wow.”‘
The .wow domain, by the way, is sought by Google, Amazon and the online content publisher Demand Media.