Archive for July 24th, 2012

Red, white and silver limited edition PS3s now out in the UK

Back in April, retailer listings for a Scarlet Red PS3 surfaced on Amazon and Play. Today, the console launches in the UK, and is joined by two other console colors previously exclusive to Japan: Classic White and Satin Silver. Each console comes sporting a DualShock 3 controller, a 320 GB hard drive and about six years of games to catch up on.

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Guillemot: Ubisoft ‘doesn’t have a huge investment’ in Wii U

At a recent investor call, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot revealed that Ubisoft “doesn’t have a huge investment” in the Wii U, the only next-gen console so far announced from any of the major competitors. Guillemot pointed out that most of the games Ubisoft is developing for the Wii U aren’t new, but are ports of existing Xbox 360 or PS3 titles.

Building Wii U ports cost Ubisoft just over $1.2 million, Guillemot said. Rayman Legends and ZombiU, Ubisoft’s “original” Wii U titles, “are much smaller of cost” than developing major titles for the current generation.

“Because, as we’ve always said when there is such an innovation, the need is not to have big production value but to concentrate on the innovation,” Guillemot said. “This is what we are trying on Rayman and ZombiU.”

Earlier today we mentioned Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot’s thoughts on the current generation’s lifespan, noting his opinion that a lack of new consoles stifles creativity. New consoles spur developers to create new IPs and “are important for the entire industry,” Guillemot said.

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Portabliss: Tumble Pop (3DS eShop)

Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That’s amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy — and that’s where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we’ll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Tumble Pop. When I started playing my review copy of Tumble Pop, I went in completely fresh. I had barely heard of it, paid little attention to it, and knew almost nothing besides having been published by Data East. And now I have a pleasant little pastime sitting on my 3DS, ready to provide me a few minutes of idle, low-stress entertainment whenever.

Tumble Pop sort of follows the Bubble Bobble school of platforming. Each level is a series of vertically stacked platforms in which various monsters wander left and right. There’s a variety of cute ghosts, invisible men (or walking hats and gloves), some … fire sprite things, a couple of clowns ? your basic assortment. Your job is to patrol each enclosed stage and suck up all the monsters with your backpack-mounted vacuum cleaner. They’ll respawn out of gates a few times, and the stage ends once you’ve picked up all the monsters the stage has to offer.

After you pick up a monster, your vacuum will spit out a star that rolls across the level and becomes a power-up when it hits the wall. You collect these and activate them from a menu, choosing from temporary invincibility, a wider vortex from your vacuum, faster movement, and more. If it’s not a power-up, it’s a letter ? the stage abruptly ends and you get thrown into a bonus game when you spell “TUMBLEPOP” in full.

What I really like about Tumble Pop is the illusion of depth it provides. There are multiple Super Mario

World-style map screens full of levels, with freely accessible bonus game levels and certain boss areas in which you fire projectiles back at a large enemy. However, the gameplay is still comfortingly simple inside any of these levels.

Having now experienced the Game Boy game, I have to seek out the arcade version to see this same bouncy little experience in bright, cartoony color. I love these rare cases of being introduced to a retro game I wasn’t originally familiar with via the Virtual Console. Most people prefer to relive the classics they love, but I enjoy these discoveries.

Tumble Pop is available for $2.99 on the 3DS eShop.

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Apple, Samsung chiefs disagree on patent values: Source

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook and top Samsung Electronic Co Ltd executives disagreed last week on the value of each other’s patents at a settlement conference ahead of a high profile U.S. trial, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Apple and Samsung, the world’s largest consumer electronics corporations, are waging legal war in several countries, accusing each other of patent violations as they vie for supremacy in the fast-growing market for mobile devices.

The trial is scheduled to begin July 30 in a San Jose, Calif. federal court. Cook participated in mediation with Samsung’s Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung and mobile chief Shin Jong-Kyun last Monday in the San Francisco area to see if the two sides could resolve the dispute, several separate sources said.

All sources could not be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The executives from Apple and Samsung participated as part of the court directed mediation process, these sources said. While a settlement is always possible, it is unlikely to come ahead of the California trial, they said.

Apple on Monday declined to comment on the case. A Samsung spokesman declined to provide details on any discussions, saying “this is an ongoing legal matter.”

The U.S. case, taking place a few miles away from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, is being closely-watched given the lucrative American smartphone and tablet market.

Among the major issues in dispute between Apple and Samsung is how to value so-called standard essential patents. These are patents which Samsung agreed to license to competitors on fair and reasonable terms, in exchange for having the technology be adopted as an industry standard.

Some judges are reluctant to issue injunctions over such patents.

Apple believes those patents should be valued lower due to those dynamics, one of the sources said. Additionally, Samsung believes it has a stronger patent portfolio than Apple when it comes to next-generation technology like 4G, the source said.

The mediation last week was at least the second between top executives. A previous session in May did not produce any settlements.

While both the companies are arch-rivals in the smartphone and tablet marketplace, the case is complicated by the fact that Apple is one of Samsung’s largest component customers.

The trial will feature both utility and design patents. Apple utility patents in the case include those that cover how touch-screen devices discriminate between one finger on the screen, or more, and respond accordingly. Apple design patents include those that relate to the black front surface of a phone.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, 11-1846.

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Dell wins US antitrust approval to buy Quest Software

WASHINGTON: Dell Inc has won US antitrust approval to buy IT management company Quest Software Inc, the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

Dell had said in early July that it would buy Quest for $2.4 billion to expand its software business and reduce dependence on the declining personal computer market.

The FTC put the transaction on a list of deals that it and the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division have been able to approve quickly. The list is issued several times a week.

Dell sparked a bidding war in June when it offered $25.50 per share for Quest, an enterprise management software maker, topping an initial offer by private investment firm Insight Venture Partners in March of $23 per share.

Dell has been diversifying recently, giving up low-margin sales to consumers and moving into higher-margin areas, such as catering to the technology needs of small and medium-sized businesses in the public sector and the healthcare industry.

duttavishal321: the story headline read – Delhi-based IFCA appointed consultant for Alcock Ashdown selloff — instead of IFCA it should be IFCI.

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Amazon.com plans to expand its mobile platform

FRANCISCO: Amazon.com Inc plans to expand its mobile platform and broaden its offering of devices beyond e-readers and the Kindle Fire tablet, analysts, developers and retail partners said ahead of results next week from the world’s largest Internet retailer.

Amazon is to introduce up to five or six tablet SKUs, or stock-keeping units, according Demos Parneros, president of US Retail for Staples Inc, which sells the Fire.

The tablets will be different sizes, including a 10-inch model, Parneros said. Amazon spokespeople declined to comment on the company’s plans.

Amazon is making its own tablets to help the company sell more digital goods, such as MP3s, movies, TV shows, apps and games. Physical versions of these products, such as CDs and DVDs, were a big business for Amazon, but they are now in decline.

Having its own devices sitting atop a software platform that offers digital content to more than 100 million, credit-card-wielding customers already programmed to buy, could help Amazon become a major mobile platform player, challenging Apple Inc, Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc.

“You’re seeing the Apple play book recreated by everyone else who wants to play in the mobile device ecosystem. Amazon is the latest entrant,” said Niccolo de Masi, chief executive of Glu Mobile Inc, which develops mobile games for the Fire.

“The Kindle Fire is off to a great start,” he added. “We will be supporting all new devices that have promise. They are trying to build on the foundations they have.”

Data = Smart Phone?

Amazon launched the seven-inch Fire in September, so the company has almost a year of data on the spending habits of these tablet owners. If they have increased purchases of digital goods through the device, that may embolden Amazon to introduce other devices, such as a larger, more expensive tablet and even a smart phone, analysts and others said.

“Amazon will keep working on this path of providing mobile devices and tablet devices,” said Giordano Contestabile, an executive at PopCap, a unit of Electronic Arts whose games include: Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled and Peggle on the Fire. “We’re all waiting,” he added.

Purchases of Amazon e-books surged after the company introduce the Kindle e-reader in 2007, Citi Research analyst Mark Mahaney said.

“If a device can do that to their oldest, stodgiest category, imagine what else can benefit from a smart phone,” he said. Mahaney’s Taipei-based colleague Kevin Chang told Citi clients in November that an Amazon smart phone would be launched in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Amazon is expected to report second-quarter results on July 26. During a conference call after first-quarter results in April, Evercore analyst Ken Sena asked what traction the company was getting from the Fire and what the thinking was around a Kindle smart phone.

Amazon Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak dodged the smart phone question, but said the Fire was spurring purchases of “a lot” of digital content.

“We are very pleased with what’s happening,” the CFO added. Since the Fire came out in September, Amazon’s share of the video market has climbed to 13 per cent from 10 per cent, according to The NDP Group. In music downloads, Amazon’s share rose by one per centage point to 14.4 per cent, NPD data show.

“They haven’t grown exponentially but that’s a healthy gain post the Kindle Fire,” said Russ Crupnick, senior entertainment industry analyst at NPD.

LAB 126 GROWS Recent job postings by Amazon’s Lab126 research and design center in Silicon Valley suggest the company is working on new mobile devices that will run on wireless carrier networks.

Gregg Zehr, a former hardware developer from Apple and Palm, heads Lab126, which is based a short drive from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Lab126 had just over 500 employees listed on the LinkedIn professional network in September, when Amazon launched the Fire. That has grown to 865 as of mid-July , including 792 in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to LinkedIn. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment about Lab126.

“Amazon’s Lab126 development center has grown a lot and has a pretty enormous staff now – much more staff than is needed to handle a few e-readers and the Kindle Fire tablet,” said Robert Brunner, founder of Ammunition, which has helped Barnes & Noble

design its Nook devices. “They are there to develop other devices,” said Brunner, who helped develop the first Kindle e-readers. “Knowing what I know about Jeff Bezos and Amazon, it’s likely they are doing a smart phone.”

Seven job postings by Lab126 in recent months sought hardware and software engineers who have experience with cellular products including cell phones and smart phones.

One posting for a Hardware Validation Engineer told candidates they may be responsible for adhering to carrier requirements for Lab126’s products.

Another for a Field Quality Engineer said candidates would coordinate with carriers to fix problems. “Prior wireless or related field test experience that covers smart phones or smart devices a plus,” Lab126 added in the job posting.

“That clearly means they will put out a device that needs to function on carrier networks,” Brunner said. “They are either planning on building that functionality on to tablets or a smart phone.”

‘Watch Out World’

Ed Liljegren, a hardware developer from Apple and Nokia , joined Lab126 in May 2011 and became a manager of Emerging Technology in April, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He described his new job as “Future Concept Development. Watch Out World for what we are doing next!” Liljegren added on LinkedIn.

Amazon also hired two Windows Phone managers from Microsoft in recent months, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Robert Williams is now director of Amazon’s App Store and Brandon Watson is director of product management for Kindle Cross Platform.

In early June, Watson blogged about his first few months at Amazon.

“I’m lucky that I get to work on a product that I really love, and loved before coming on board,” he wrote. “I can’t really say much about some of the things on which I am working. I can say that the goals of some of the teams are huge. Huge.”

Watson then recounted what an Amazon senior vice president told him during the recruitment process.

“He said, ‘the goal of Kindle was to enable a system to allow someone to buy any book ever published, and have it delivered anywhere in the world in 60 seconds. It’s time to think bigger.'”

Neither Liljegren, nor Watson, nor Williams returned calls or emails seeking comment.

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