Apple expands buybacks by $30 billion, OKs 7-for-1 stock split
By Edwin Chan SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has approved another $30 billion in share buybacks till the end of 2015 and authorized a rarely seen seven-for-one stock split, addressing calls to share more of its cash hoard while broadening the stock's appeal to individual investors. Activist investor Carl Icahn, who had famously called on the iPhone maker to boost its buyback program, tweeted his approval of the move on Wednesday. On Wednesday, Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, far outpacing the roughly 38 million that Wall Street had predicted. But whether Apple can again produce a revolutionary new product remains the central question in investors' and Silicon Valley executives' minds.
Apple resets the clock as investors await next big thing
By Edwin Chan SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc just bought itself some much-needed time. On Wednesday, the company surprised Wall Street with news that it sold more iPhones in the March quarter than even the most bullish analysts had expected. To top it all off, Apple unveiled a 7-for-1 stock split that should go down well with individuals who want a piece of a household name but could not afford to fork over $500 a share. The litany of positive numbers sent Apple's long-stagnant shares up 8 percent.
U.S. judge denies Apple's move to hold off e-book antitrust trial
A U.S. federal judge denied a bid by Apple Inc on Wednesday to hold off a trial in a case brought by state attorneys general accusing the company of conspiring with five major publishers to fix e-book prices. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in a brief order said the July 14 trial had already been postponed once and should go forward, paving the way for more than two dozen states to pursue hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Following a non-jury trial last year, Cote found that Apple from 2009 to 2010 conspired with the publishers to raise e-book prices and impede competitors such as Amazon.com Inc. The trial to assign damages was supposed to be held in May but it was pushed back two months to allow adequate time for class notification, Cote's order said. Apple later on Wednesday asked a federal appeals court to intervene and halt the trial.
Facebook first-quarter revenue grows 72 percent on rising mobile ads
By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's mobile advertising business accelerated in the first three months of the year, helping the Internet social networking company top Wall Street's financial targets. Shares of Facebook were up nearly 3 percent at $63.05 in after-hours trading on Wednesday. Facebook said that mobile ads represented 59 percent of its ad revenue in the first quarter, up from 30 percent in the year-ago period. Facebook's overall revenue grew 72 percent year-on-year to $2.5 billion in the first quarter, above the $2.36 billion expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. "They've got the right products for what advertisers are looking for and that's manifesting itself in the results you're seeing," said JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey.
Qualcomm's quarterly revenue growth dwindles, shares fall
By Noel Randewich SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc on Wednesday posted its smallest quarterly revenue increase since 2010 as it wrestles with a smartphone market that is losing steam and shifting to China, sending its shares lower. With expansion in the smartphone industry moving away from wealthy markets such as the United States and toward China and other developing countries, where consumers favor less expensive devices, Qualcomm's once-impressive revenue growth is tapering off and it is focusing on costs to preserve its profitability. It was far lower than the quarterly growth rates of over 20 percent that Qualcomm investors until recently have been accustomed to. Less growth than expected in recent months in China, where China Mobile is preparing to launch a new, faster network with 4G, or LTE, technology, hurt Qualcomm's results in the quarter, Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf told Reuters.
All at sea: global shipping fleet exposed to hacking threat
By Jeremy Wagstaff SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The next hacker playground: the open seas - and the oil tankers and container vessels that ship 90 percent of the goods moved around the planet. Somali pirates help choose their targets by viewing navigational data online, prompting ships to either turn off their navigational devices, or fake the data so it looks like they're somewhere else; While data on the extent of the maritime industry's exposure to cyber crime is hard to come by, a study of the related energy sector by insurance brokers Willis this month found that the industry "may be sitting on an uninsured time bomb". Globally, it estimated that cyber attacks against oil and gas infrastructure will cost energy companies close to $1.9 billion by 2018.
President Obama plays soccer with a Japanese robot
President Obama is in Japan on a state visit right now, and he's been making some high-tech new friends. Honda's humanoid robot Asimo was on hand at Tokyo's Miraikan science museum — previously host to the colossal Kuratas mech — to demonstrate its soccer abilities. After offering a bow and exchanging a few words with Asimo, Obama said its ball skills were "pretty impressive," according to The Wall Street Journal. But the robot might have done its job too well; Obama later told students that "the robots were a little scary.
Indonesia smartphone sales could fall 50 percent under tax plan: association
By Fathiya Dahrul and Randy Fabi JAKARTA (Reuters) - The Indonesian representatives of Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and other members of a local industry group said smartphone sales could fall by as much as 50 percent if the government imposes a tax on luxury models. The government is considering a 20 percent tax for smartphones retailing at or above 5 million rupiah ($430), which would make Indonesia the most expensive country in Asia to buy an Apple iPhone 5s. The tax would be part of efforts to protect domestic brands such as Evercoss Mobile Phone and MITO Mobile, and slow a surge in imports that has caused a deficit in the country's current account. The tax would likely be voted on after a new government takes office in October, officials said, and would follow similar action in the auto industry where this month the tax for some luxury cars rose to 125 percent from 75 percent.
Tarantino's $1 million 'The Hateful Eight' script leak lawsuit thrown out of court
The first round of Quentin Tarantino's $1 million copyright case against Gawker Media has been dismissed by a US judge. The director sued the company in January, claiming that its Defamer channel had demonstrated "blatant" infringement of copyright by linking to a leaked version of his script for ensemble western The Hateful Eight. But, speaking in court on Wednesday, the Californian district judge hearing the lawsuit said Tarantino's case did not show "direct infringement" as the script was already online. Tarantino's lawyers had accused Gawker Media of "predatory journalism," and said that although the script itself was hosted on anonymous file upload site AnonFiles, they said that Gawker Media had "crossed the journalistic line by promoting itself to the public as the first source to read the entire screenplay illegally." But judge John F. Walter ruled that Tarantino's case was lacking in evidence.
U.S. regulators to propose new net neutrality rules in May
By Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are expected to vote on May 15 on a new set of so-called "net neutrality" rules aimed at making certain that broadband providers do not slow down or block consumers' access to legal Internet content. The rules from the Federal Communications Commission, which released its framework in February, are expected to ensure network operators disclose how they manage Internet traffic and do not block any content on the Web. The proposed rules are also expected to allow Internet providers to negotiate agreements with content providers on delivery of traffic to users as long as the deals they strike are "commercially reasonable," according to an FCC spokesman. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has also said he planned to review the practices adopted by Internet providers on a case-by-case basis.
FDA moves to regulate e-cigarettes for the first time
The Food and Drug Administration is to propose its first regulations on e-cigarettes today in a move with sweeping implications for the nascent market. The administration plans to ban the sale of the nicotine vapor dispensers to people under 18 and mandate photo ID for purchases, but there won't be any restrictions on marketing or flavors at first. Manufacturers would, however, be required to secure FDA approval of their products, and print warnings on packaging that e-cigarettes contain addictive nicotine. An FDA spokesperson tells The New York Times that the proposals do not reflect a decision on the ultimate safety of e-cigarettes;
The occultist who co-founded NASA's JPL
Jack Whiteside Parsons was an unusual man. He co-founded both the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Aerojet Engineering Corporation, created pyrotechnics for the film industry, wrote a book of poems and masturbated onto "magical tablets" in an attempt to conjure a lover. At Wired UK, Olivia Solon intertwines her interview with biographer George Pendle with a look into the rocket engineer's occult-tinted history. ...
How Google completely botched the Google Glass rollout
Google Glass has had a rough year in the court of public opinion. Not only has the device become the fodder of jokes for late-night comedians, but even some of its high-profile early adopters have started bashing it with gleeful abandon. Forbes has written a good autopsy of all the mistakes that Google has made when rolling out Glass to the general public and it gives some pretty convincing answers about why something that generated massive media hype when it was first teased two years ago is now seen as the next Segway. One thing that immediately stands out in the Forbes piece is that Google probably shouldn’t have released Glass on a limited basis for a whopping $1,500 per device.
FDA's new e-cigarette regulations target 'healthier than tobacco' claims
Proposals to officially regulate electronic cigarettes will be announced later today by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the WSJ. The regulations would include a ban on sales to minors and a requirement for health warning labels on packaging. E-cigarettes contain nicotine liquid, which is derived from tobacco -- and that's where the FDA comes in.
Fecal transplants work with frozen feces, too
Ever since the FDA stopped making doctors seek approval to perform fecal transplants on Clostridium difficile patients (C. difficile) in early 2013, the procedure has become more widely accepted. The method, which involves introducing fecal matter from a healthy donor into the gut of an unhealthy donor, has a 90 percent success rate, so its increasing popularity should come as no surprise. Fortunately, a group of researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital have given it the old clinical study try. C. difficile is a serious infection that kills 14,000 people in the US each year.
American kids are more likely to be medicated for behavioral problems if they're in poor or military families
An estimated 7.5 percent of American children age 6-17 were prescribed drugs to treat behavioral and emotional difficulties in 2011, according to a CDC report published today. Furthermore, the CDC reports that nearly 8 percent of children whose parents are members of the US military and 9.2 percent of children from families with incomes below the poverty line take prescription drugs for these same problems. Unfortunately, the report does not state what these medications are. "The survey doesn't ask questions on specific types of medications, so we don't know the types that they are using," says LaJeana Howie, a CDC statistician who worked on the report.
IBM's Watson supercomputer will soon be your personal shopper
Watson had been a doctor, a geneticist, a game show contestant and even a chef in the past. But now IBM's supercomputer has a new career: personal shopping. IBM has partnered with digital commerce firm Fluid to develop a cloud-based app called Expert Personal Shopper (XPS), which uses Watson's brains to answer buyers' highly specific questions.
New crystal material could lead to shape-shifting displays
Scientists at the University of Michigan have developed a type of material that can change its appearance when subjected to light. The material is host to crystals that react to different wavelengths of light, moving into new shapes and patterns on the fly, without the need for an underlying template.
Video: Project CARS looks like the killer racing game Xbox One and PS4 fans have been craving
The market for racing games has been left wide open in the new generation of consoles. Forza Motorsport 5 and Need for Speed: Rivals attempted to fill the gap last fall, but with the extended delay of the PlayStation 4 exclusive Driveclub, Project CARS has taken the reins. Developed by Slightly Mad Studios, Project CARS (Community Assisted Racing Simulator) is an impossibly gorgeous racing game with one of the most interesting development cycles of any title announced for the new consoles. Anyone who purchased a Tool Pack from Slightly Mad Studios during the funding period of the project became a member of the development team, gaining access to private forums, exclusive content and even the ability to attend weekly meetings depending on the chosen
FCC chairman says reports of net neutrality's death are 'flat out wrong'
Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission will propose new net neutrality rules that will reportedly destroy the concept of net neutrality as we know it, making it okay for internet service providers to establish a "fast lane" for preferred customers and charge an additional toll. Needless to say, those who care about net neutrality weren't too happy to hear that an organization that is supposed to protect communications might sell out to corporate interests. However, Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, says that there has been "no turnaround in policy," and calls those reports "flat out wrong." Here's the FCC chairman's full statement:
Dish will reportedly reveal its Internet-TV service this summer
Every company in the market wants to provide its own online TV streaming service, but Dish might be the first to give consumers a real offer. Bloomberg reports that Dish Network is looking to bring an Internet-TV service to the United States this summer, a set of live-streaming channels that will be accessible through connected devices such as smartphones and tablets. Disney signed onto the service last month, and A&E, Turner Broadcasting and CBS have reportedly been in talks with the provider as well. Some content providers have reportedly decided that certain conditions must be met before they will jump on board. For them to join, two of the four major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) must be part of the service, along with
FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes, but enhance scrutiny of such deals so they don't harm competition or limit free speech.
Facebook's mobile focus is paying off
It's clear that when Facebook said it was going to be a mobile-first company back in 2013, it meant it. It's now surpassed 1 billion active mobile users a month, which is about a 34 percent increase compared to a year ago. Sure, a lot has happened in the land of likes in the early part of 2014 -- it spent close to $19 billion for WhatsApp and another $2 billion for Oculus VR -- but its primary source of income for the year still comes from good ol' advertising on its core product: Facebook.
Apple slice: Share split makes joining the Dow more likely
Who says Apple does not want to be in the Dow Jones industrial average? The iPhone maker's market value has stood high above most U.S. corporations' for a few years, yet Apple still isn't a component of that blue-chip stock benchmark. That is because the Dow weighs its 30 components by price, so a $500 stock would overwhelm the index. A seven-for-one stock split that will chop the price to about $75 changes the picture.
Android apps vulnerable to Heartbleed have been downloaded 150 million times
Patching up Android to make sure it’s not vulnerable to Heartbleed is one thing. Patching all vulnerable Android apps, on the other hand, is quite another. Re/code draws our attention to a new study from research firm FireEye that claims there have been around 150 million downloads of Android apps that are vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. And to make matters worse, the researchers say that the assorted “Heartbleed detectors” you can now find in the Google Play store will do little to help you root out vulnerable apps you’ve downloaded. “Android apps frequently use native libraries, which either directly or indirectly leverage vulnerable OpenSSL libraries,” the researchers write. “Therefore, even though the Android platform itself is not vulnerable, attackers
Daily Roundup: Samsung's love of plastic, Siri for Apple TV and more!
You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours -- all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.
Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is doling out more of its cash to shareholders and preparing to split its stock for the first time in nine years in an attempt to win back investors fretting about the iPhone maker's slowing sales growth and pace of innovation.
Doctors want to fix you with 3D-printed tissues made from water droplets
Doctors dream of using 3D-printed tissues to patch up injuries, but current techniques tend to kill a lot of the cells used in the process. Thankfully, researchers at Oxford University spin-off OxSyBio have found a gentler way to build these materials. Their technique 3D prints water droplets filled with chemicals that let them change shape and transmit electrical signals like real cells.
Brazil passes an internet bill of rights enshrining net neutrality and privacy
While the world has been deciding who governs the internet, Brazil has been busy establishing internet rules of its own -- and they may just set an example for everyone else. The country has passed a bill of rights that goes some length towards protecting net neutrality and privacy. To start, the law promises equal access to the internet; carriers can't charge more for bandwidth-heavy services like streaming video.
Samsung lures developers to smartwatches with $1.25 million in cash
By all accounts, consumer responses to smartwatches have not exactly been enthusiastic so far. Big gadget makers will continue to push smartwatches and other wearables as growth in the smartphone market continues to slow, but without compelling functionality and solid ecosystems, those efforts will be exceedingly difficult. To address the latter point, Samsung has decided to dangle a pretty massive carrot it hopes developers will chase. As noted by SamMobile on Wednesday, Samsung is now trying to lure developers by offering $1.25 million in prize money as part of a big app contest. Complete details are not yet available, but the contest will aim to encourage developers to make apps for Samsung’s Gear smartwatches. For those interested in the challenge, it looks
Zynga's Pincus withdraws from operations amid turnaround
By Malathi Nayak SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Zynga Inc co-founder Mark Pincus is relinquishing the last of his operational duties at the social gaming company starting on Wednesday and retreating to an advisory role as Chief Executive Officer Don Mattrick pushes through a restructuring plan. Zynga shares were up 5 percent in after-hours trading on Wednesday after closing at $4.42 on the Nasdaq. Pincus, who remains chairman of the board, has decided to move on from day-to-day operations as chief product officer, Zynga said in a statement. He has been stepping back from the company that once dominated gaming on Facebook with "Farmville" and raked in over $1 billion in revenues, but is losing users to mobile game developers.