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Microsoft Looks to Gain More Marketshare with Intro of Lumia 521

posted Sunday May 5, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Microsoft Looks to Gain More Marketshare with Intro of Lumia 521

Microsoft's innovative Windows Phone 8 has been in the market for a while now, and while results haven't been exponentially overwhelming, there has been steady growth in the market share category. So far, flagship devices from Nokia, as well as great smartphones from HTC and Samsung have proven well worth it for those who have spent the $200+ on the handset, however, Microsoft is looking to further take some share from Apple by getting their operating system into as many hands as possible. How? By offering a less expensive option.

Coming in at under $150 and being available at Wal-Mart, the Nokia Lumia 521 will have a ton of exposure at a retail establishment that doesn't necessarily tout "high-end." Head of Windows Phone, Terry Myerson, said,

There is an opportunity for us to offer a very high quality device in the mainstream. That's where we've made progress in the last couple of months and it's a strategy we'll continue to explore in the United States.

The Home Shopping Network has already launched the Lumia 521 and it sold out in hours, proving the phone is hitting the exact demographic Microsoft has set it out for. On specs, it's got real 4G, a 4" touch screen, 5MP camera and HD resolution. Running on T-Mobile, the key reason it is being highlighted is because it won't require a long-term contract for you to acquire one at the sub-$150 pricepoint. All you'll need is a $30 unlimited data and text plan - just keep an eye on how much 4G data you're using, as it will be heavily throttled.

In the end though, Microsoft is sitting at 3.2 percent marketshare, with Apple having 39 percent and Android with 52 percent. Given that sales of Nokia WinPho 8 handsets are up 27 percent quarter-to-quarter, moving 5.6 million of the devices total, one could surely see sales rising even more after the rollout of the 521 into Wal-Mart. As a side note, WinPho has 20 percent market share overseas and has about 7 percent in the UK.

On the move to go with T-Mobile for this smartphone instead of the other big companies, who haven't chosen to go with a non-subsidized option, Myerson said,

It (subsidization) is a compelling business model for them. If you are Samsung, Apple, AT&T or Verizon, it's where everything's working, you are growing share, you are growing profits. If you are an incumbent with a successful business model, you're not going to be jumping to throw it out.

Are you in the market for a new phone and are with T-Mobile? Are you looking at the Lumia 521? Tell us that, plus all of your thoughts on Microsoft getting into the lower-end of the smartphone market in the comments below.

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Nintendo Steps Up and Offers Refurbished Devices Directly From Their Site

posted Sunday May 5, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Nintendo Steps Up and Offers Refurbished Devices Directly From Their Site

Here's something GameStop isn't going to appreciate, and no, it isn't another exec robbing them of millions. Instead, another company has decided that it has had enough of GameStop taking billions of dollars from console manufacturers and game development studios. Nintendo has rolled out a new way to get a hold of refurbished hardware and you won't have to go to the used games store to do it. Now you can buy Nintendo-certified refurbished 3DS and DSi XL devices directly from Nintendo via their new "Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products" website and program.

On the site, Nintendo talks about ensuring you get a great device when you buy refurbished, instead of the crapshoot that can sometimes be the GameStop second-hand products.

Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products are the only refurbished products in the market that have been cleaned, tested, and inspected to meet Nintendo's high standards. They come with a one year warranty - the same warranty we offer on our new products. These products are only available directly from Nintendo. Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products are guaranteed to be fully functional, but may have minor cosmetic blemishes.

As we've been saying for years, GameStop has been responsible for a good portion of the argued downfall of the gaming industry. With Nintendo stepping in and selling used products directly from their site, it might cause a little bit of tension and loss and sleep within the exec circle of GameStop. Even better, Nintendo's units come with a one year manufacturer warranty and are around $30 cheaper than what you'd find at that other store.

So, could this slowly be the decline of GameStop after years of forcing developers to implement things like online passes? Will you buy directly from Nintendo instead? Let us know in the comments below.

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Qi Charging Comes to Ikea - Kind Of

posted Saturday May 4, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Qi Charging Comes to Ikea - Kind Of

Since we first brought you information about the Qi wireless charging standard, the hope of a wireless world has been in the back of my mind. While we saw creative uses like a fully Qi countertop that can run a skillet anywhere, instead of needing a dedicated cooktop, what we have not seen is any of these cool uses come to market.

We have, luckily, seen a number of devices implement the technology, such as the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X, but only the Verizon version. The closest we have gotten to accessories, however, is the Palm Touchstone-style charging pads - no counters, desks or nightstands. That is, until now.

Thanks to a DIY project found on YouTube, you can turn an inexpensive Ikea nightstand, or any piece of furniture you're willing to cut into, into a charging surface with just a Nokia charging pad and a little time. A pair of videos explains both how to create the modification, as well as discusses any health-related inquiries, such as the effects of having an inductive charger so close to your head (for the record, there is nothing unsafe about it).

If you are the kind of person who enjoys projects and wants to give this great one a shot, hit the break and check out the videos. Make sure to let us know how your project has gone. I'll update on my process as well, as I intend to give it a shot.

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PayPal Considering Accepting Bitcoins

posted Saturday May 4, 2013 by Scott Ertz

PayPal Considering Accepting Bitcoins

Bitcoin has had a strange, seedy and difficult start, with hundreds of thousands of dollars easily stolen from digital wallets in several different thefts. Add to that the relative inability to transfer Bitcoins into real good and services, it has not really been a safe or lucrative place to be.

All of that might be about to change, however, as PayPal CEO John Donahoe has said he is considering implementing Bitcoin as a valid payment option through the service. For people involved in the Bitcoin process, it would mean a way to convert to real money without the need to drive to sketchy places to find one of their currency exchanges.

The biggest problem with Bitcoin, other than its security, is its volatility. Last month, for example, the value ranged from $50 to $266. In addition, the legitimacy of the currency is still a little in question. The US Treasury Department had originally considered declaring the currency invalid has, instead, considered it a money-order, which makes it less a currency and more a transfer method.

That being said, a transfer method with no stability in value can cause a lot of problems. By teaming up with PayPal, however, the value could level out some, with retailers being able to accept the payment without having to know anything about the methods. Once Bitcoins are in actual play, the value would stabilize dramatically.

So, the real question is, does it matter? Would you get involved in the Bitcoin world if PayPal were involved with it? Let us know in the comments.

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An Interesting TV Pilot About Dealing With Cancer

posted Saturday May 4, 2013 by Scott Ertz

An Interesting TV Pilot About Dealing With Cancer

It is Internet pilot season and we are seeing a lot of new series trying to get off the ground. A few weeks ago Amazon launched 14 pilots for you to choose from, but this is not the only way to decide what types of series are made. Crowd-funding has become a popular way for series concepts to be tested out - if you have an idea, you can test it out and get funded.

We have seen a lot of concepts get converted into series, from older shows to blogs. While the most notable being Shatner's series, $#*! My Dad Says, there are a lot of great ideas out there. One idea that was brought to my attention this week is a series from a blog called Cancer is My Reality, a series about one man's struggles with cancer: before, during and after treatment.

Nick Leland, the writer of the blog and creator of the series, has been writing since January 10, 2010. The writing has been a combination of an emotional outlet for himself to help cope with the reality of his life, as well as an outreach to help others who are living through the same issue cope with their own reality. He hopes that the series could expand that outreach, helping a new group of people to feel better about their lives as they cope with the reality of cancer. Leland explains his reasons,

I hope that this will reach the heart of millions and inspire/encourage other cancer patients and survivors to share there story. This I believe will help other survivors/patients/family/friends in so many ways, just knowing that they are not alone and not different.

Here's how you can get involved: Leland has setup an IndieGoGo campaign, with contributions being as low as $5. If you have some money to spare, you should definitely help the project out. If you don't, at least share the campaign to help this great project get off the ground.

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Warner Bros. Refuses to License Copyrighted Material in Games

posted Saturday May 4, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Warner Bros. Refuses to License Copyrighted Material in Games

We have all heard of Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat - if you haven't it might be time to spend some time online. We see these characters all over the Internet - from Facebook photos to videos. They have become some of the best known memes, and definitely some of the longest running.

Because of this, it is no surprise that Warner Bros. wanted to incorporate them into their newest Scribblenauts title, Scribblenauts Unlimited. We saw their inclusion in the game during Nintendo's WiiU E3 2012 event and also New York City launch event. What we didn't know at the time was that Warner Bros. did not have permission to use these characters.

Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat are creations owned by Christopher Torres and Charles Schmidt. The creators love that the characters are used as memes, for non-profit purposes - comedy on the Internet. For-profit purposes, however, are very different; if you are going to make money off of someone else's creations, you pay for that ability. As it turns out, Warner Bros. and studio 5th Cell did not do this. The creator says,

We reached out to the companies in hopes of working out an amicable resolution of the issue, yet were disrespected and snubbed each time as nothing more than nuisances for asking for fair compensation for our intellectual property. That's not right. I have no issues with Nyan Cat being enjoyed by millions of fans as a meme, and I have never tried to prevent people from making creative uses of it that contribute artistically and are not for profit. But this is a commercial use, and these companies themselves are protectors of their own intellectual property. Many other companies have licensed Nyan Cat properly to use commercially.

The creators have, obviously, been forced into filing suit against Warner Bros. and 5th Cell. If the rights aren't protected now, then the copyrights lose almost all of their value. You cannot set a precedent like that or no one will ever license them properly.

Since Warner Bros. and 5th Cell chose to act as if we had no rights in characters we created, filing a lawsuit was the only way we had to protect our intellectual property rights from being used for others' commercial profit without our consent. Too often normal artists like us don't have the means and resources to protect our rights against big media corporations who use our work for their own profit without permission. We are looking here just to be treated fairly and to be fairly compensated for our creative work.

Hopefully, when all is said and done, the artists will receive what they deserve - compensation for the inclusion of their creations in Scribblenauts Unlimited.

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