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HBO GO Might Go Stand-alone

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

HBO GO Might Go Stand-alone

In a world where appointment television is giving way to services like Hulu and Netflix, HBO GO lives in a weird middle-ground. While HBO GO is a service that allows people to watch HBO programming over the Internet on devices or via browser, it also requires its users to already be subscribed to HBO's cable service to get the service. This alienates a lot of people who are cutting the cord on traditional cable service in favor of these services, not to be augmented by them.

HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler said,

Right now we have the right model. Maybe HBO GO, with our broadband partners, could evolve.

He suggested that the service could be packaged with Internet packages instead of cable services, allowing non-cable subscribers to access HBO's content. While the existing setup is profitable for HBO, which is not something other cable stations have been able to say, so circumventing a working model is something that is a scary prospect for the company, but knowing that there is a market that will watch their shows only online is a start.

Seeing companies like Hulu and Netflix launching direct-to-customer original programming over the Internet, such as Hulu's successful series Battleground, is certainly another cause for concern at HBO. The challenge, however, is one that is making the company consider its options, not jump to a hasty decision, like we have seen from other companies in the past.

My personal hope is that we will see HBO GO offered as a stand-alone service that I can subscribe to without having to have HBO's TV service, but not if it causes HBO to stop its original programming over financial issues. How about you? Would you subscribe to HBO GO if it were a Hulu/Netflix/Amazon style service? Let me know in the comments.

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Apple Flaw Allowed Easy Account Hijicking

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Apple Flaw Allowed Easy Account Hijicking

This series of articles is quickly becoming my favorite and least favorite to write: Apple security flaws. As a developer and media person who has always known Apple software was written in an incredibly lazy and insecure way, it is a lot of fun to see others realize it. As a consumer, it is incredibly disheartening to know that Apple cares so little about their customers and their security that issues like this have been come a weekly occurrence.

This week's major security flaw from the company rated #1 by JD Power again involves the incredible ease with which Apple's iCloud accounts could be hijacked. The only thing needed to reset an iCloud account password was an email address and date of birth.

While this may seem like enough information to uniquely identify an individual, it is also information available on a number of Facebook or Twitter profiles. So, with that said, the only real information needed to steal someone's information from Apple is a Facebook or Twitter profile, both of which are mostly public. This harkens back to the "game" that was going around Twitter at one point encouraging people to find their porn name, combining the street you grew up on with your mother's maiden name. A lot of people played and a lot of bank, email and other accounts were hijacked because of it.

This, however, has less to do with coordinated online phishing and more to do with Apple making it easy to change a password with information already available online. It's not like the hackers have a lot of work to do to get ahold of this information: just browse the Internet and collect it. Impressive.

Now, Apple has "patched" this flaw by requiring a 2-stage authentication system for password resets, similar to what Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others have had implemented for a while. While always late to the party, at least Apple has finally shown up.

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EA CEO John Riccitiello Steps Down, Possibly Opening New Doors for Next-Gen

posted Wednesday Mar 20, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

EA CEO John Riccitiello Steps Down, Possibly Opening New Doors for Next-Gen

It seems like just last week we were discussing all the heads of the major mobile players have left their respective companies lately. That's because it was last week. And now this week, we have yet another departure, and it's just as impactful. On March 30th, Electronic Arts CEO, John Riccitiello, will resign from his executive position with the company, as EA continues to bleed money and shift to a new focus.

On the reasons for the transition, Riccitiello said,

EA is an outstanding company with creative and talented employees, and it has been an honor to serve as the Company's CEO. I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and after six years I feel it is the right time for me pass the baton and let new leadership take the Company into its next phase of innovation and growth... My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.

So while it sounds a lot like the Groupon firing, his resignation could also have a lot to do with the SimCity disaster, the outlash from consumers over EA's massive support for micro transactions and DLC, or both. A lot has changed since Riccitiello took over in 2007 up to now, with major shifts to mobile gaming and a high consumer demand for non-broken games at launch.

At any rate, while Electronic Arts looks for a new CEO, former CEO, Larry Probst, will take over in the interim. Probst ran the game studio and publisher from 1991 to 2007. He also spoke on Riccitiello's stepping down, as well as give some insight into his plan moving forward until a new CEO is found.

John has worked hard to lead the Company through challenging transitions in our industry, and was instrumental in driving our very significant growth in digital revenues... EA's strategy and future are rock solid. Our business is built on more than a dozen powerful, globally recognized brands. We are clear leaders in the fastest growing category in games - mobile - and we are positioned to lead on the next generation of consoles.

A lot of people are upset with Probst back in the picture, claiming he sunk EA into a big mess during his tenure. However, with the EA's stock now at just under $20 when it was over $60 back in 2007 when Riccitiello took over, I'm not so sure I agree. Ever since the inception of the Xbox 360 and PS3, along with the new CEO at EA, we saw the studio take their foot off the pedal and refuse to innovate their products. We saw, and still see, broken sports titles, released year after year with merely a roster update, less than stellar performances in their racing games and a lackluster showing in the mobile division. All of that goes in line with the failed stock price and definitely justifies the resignation. To that point, I commend Riccitiello for stepping down and taking responsibility as leader of a large company like this. I look forward to seeing a new CEO step in and hopefully take EA back to its old glory days, when there was integrity and respect behind each product put into the consumer market. The next generation of consoles is right around the corner, and, so long as the lack of success and poor company culture hasn't consumed the developers yet, they should be ready to show the world what they can do.

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Android Head Andy Rubin Departs from Company After 10 Years

posted Sunday Mar 17, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Android Head Andy Rubin Departs from Company After 10 Years

It seems like every major mobile player is shifting gears, or at least shifting in leadership. Microsoft has recently ended ties with former President of Windows, Stephen Sinofsky and Apple has also let Scott Forstall walk away from the company after the whole Maps disaster. Now, Google is looking in a new direction as well.

Google, amidst being the most vulnerable operating system and going through ongoing antitrust hearings, has chosen to replace Andy Rubin, the head of Android. Chrome's leader, Sundar Pichai will take his place while also handling his current obligations, like, I don't know, removing the 400 vulnerabilities from his browser and trying to explain why a Chromebook and an Android tablet are different.

To the majority of the tech space, this move looks to be quite a surprise, as things appeared to be all roses with Android. The Galaxy S IV has been announced, and Android couldn't be a more popular and successful OS if you asked most people. However, to us here at this publication, this shift only further proves why jumping off the Android ship now might not be such a bad idea. Nobody has said who left who in the Google camp just yet, but my guess is that Rubin may have seen the writing on the wall, at least on the larger scale. Google has been on a slippery slope into a lot of trouble for quite some time, and maybe Rubin departed before his value dropped along with a stack of new lawsuits.

Larry Page had a few words to say about Andy Rubin in a blog post.

Most people thought he was nuts. But his insight immediately struck a chord because at the time it was extremely painful developing services for mobile devices. We had a closet full of more than 100 phones and were building our software pretty much device by device. It was nearly impossible for us to make truly great mobile experiences.

Rubin was with Android as a co-founder back in 2003, making this his tenth year that he would have run the entire operation. With now over 750 million smartphones and tablets running Android, plus 25 billion apps downloaded off of Google Play, it's quite an accomplishment, given where he started with the company. What do you think happened to have Rubin step to the side and let someone else take his position in the mobile space? We want your thoughts in the comments below.

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One Million BlackBerry Devices Sold to Buyer with No Name

posted Sunday Mar 17, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

One Million BlackBerry Devices Sold to Buyer with No Name

With BlackBerry's new focus on both OS 10 and the new Z and Q10 smartphones, a lot is riding on these next few months. For the company to gain back any sort of relevancy like what it had in its hey-day, BlackBerry needs to get this new device in as many hands as possible. This week, a buyer has stepped up to help them do just that.

BlackBerry released a press statement that points out one of its big partners have placed an order for one million BlackBerry 10 devices, and they also said shipments were needed immediately. For BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion), this is their largest order in the history of the company.

In the very short statement, Rick Costanzo, EVP of Global Sales, said,

An order for one million devices is a tremendous vote of confidence in BlackBerry 10. Consumers are ready for a new user experience, and BlackBerry 10 delivers. With strong partner support, coupled with this truly re-invented new platform, we have a powerful recipe for success.

Now, the question remains of who exactly bought that many phones. A couple of guesses come to mind, specifically in the government and other agencies, as some have discovered switching to Apple wasn't the best decision some of those groups have made. That would also be one of the safer options. It means that group or agency has decided BlackBerry is the way to go, and those devices would be put right into the hands of those using them.

We can also guess that one of the major carriers, like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon have put in an order for that many, but more problems lie in that notion. First, Sprint isn't even on the initial carrier list on BlackBerry's site. So, putting them aside, another carrier might be willing to drop that much on a million devices. However, a carrier would still need to sell that many handsets to customers, which means if a carrier put in the order, they have extreme confidence in this brand new operating system and revival of BlackBerry.

Obviously, whichever is the case, it is amazing news for BlackBerry as a company, especially since the Z10 is not too far away from launching here in the States. Who do you think bought one million new BlackBerry 10 smartphones? Give us your best guesses in the comments below.

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Former GameStop VP to Serve Four Years in Prison for Stealing $1.7 Million from Company

posted Saturday Mar 16, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Former GameStop VP to Serve Four Years in Prison for Stealing $1.7 Million from Company

GameStop does a lot of things with all of the profit it makes by stealing money from the actual developers of games. Sometimes it's used for entering new markets and sometimes it's used as incentive for up and coming developers. At any rate, the last thing the board of directors and shareholders want the money to go to is a sneaky Vice President's pockets.

Former GameStop VP of corporate communications, Frank Christopher Olivera, was charged and sentenced to over four years behind bars for taking over $1.7 million from the used game retailer. How? The Texan native formed a fake company, Cloud Communications LLC, that he used as a middle man to move funds to his account from GameStop's. Olivera even went as far as to come up with a phony employee who would assist in the transactions between the Cloud and GameStop.

The US Attorney's Office said in a statement,

Olivera defrauded Gamestop by submitting false and fraudulent invoices for vendor services from a fictitious company, 'Cloud Communications LLC,' which he owned and controlled... In addition to creating a fictitious company, Olivera also created a fictitious person, 'Jennifer Miller,' to serve as the point of contact at Cloud Communications. Upon receipt of payments from GameStop, Olivera would deposit the checks into a bank account held by Cloud Communications and then would transfer the fraudulently obtained funds into his personal bank account.

Obviously the FBI got wind of this, caught Olivera and arrested him. The ex-VP quickly pled guilty and now has to repay the $1.7 million, plus an additional $134,651 for court costs. Sources say he's returned "most" of the original stolen funds. I guess we'll have to find another way to cease GameStop's evil ways. Stealing the money probably wasn't a good idea to begin with. Perhaps we can start with not buying used games.

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