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SoftBank to Acquire 70% Of Sprint

posted Friday Oct 19, 2012 by Scott Ertz

SoftBank to Acquire 70% Of Sprint

Last week's discussions apparently paid off and Sprint has announced that SoftBank will purchase 70% of Sprint for a total of $20.1 billion. This purchase now values Sprint at $28.7 billion, far below AT&T's offer of $39 billion for T-Mobile, the next smaller network. $12.1 billion of the total will be distributed to stockholders, while the remaining $8 billion will go directly into the new company to help capitalize expenses. The new corporation will be known as New Sprint.

There has been a lot of concern over Sprint's financial health, driven primarily by the amount of cash they have sunk into their failing WiMax partner Clearwire. This $8 billion in cash could help them finally buy Clearwire out of the partnership, as well as help finance their own LTE expansion. This could be accomplished through standard network expansion or through a buyout of MetroPCS.

Clearly SoftBank is thinking LTE when it comes to this merger. Hit the break to see what their CEO has to say about the future of Sprint.

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Zune Dies, but Xbox Music Makes Us Feel so Much Better About It

posted Wednesday Oct 17, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Zune Dies, but Xbox Music Makes Us Feel so Much Better About It

In February, Microsoft formally informed us we'd be seeing the end of Zune. Rumors swirled before E3 about the company launching a new streaming service, which turned out to be Xbox Music. Then in late August we saw the beginning of Zune's shutdown, starting with some social aspects and other things being removed. Now, it is sad to say, but finally we have seen the official end of Zune, at least in any future operating system. Xbox Music will take its place, however, the software is a little different than expected.

Microsoft has put Xbox Music into full effect and the software is now available on Xbox LIVE and will be expanded even further once Windows 8 launches in less than two weeks. The most important thing to note is that Microsoft has made this the one and only all-in-one music service. Free-streaming radio, music subscription services and music purchasing options are all available in what Microsoft's corporate VP Yusuf Mehdi calls "one elegant package." Here's the scenario Mehdi uses to explain what he means:

You're listening to an Internet radio station at work, say Pandora, and you hear a new song you love. You quickly stop what you're doing and bookmark the song before it stops playing. Later, in the car, you open Pandora to look up the name of the bookmarked song, then you open Spotify so you can use your subscription to listen to it again. Two weeks later, you're thoroughly in love with the song, and decide you want to buy it so you can burn it to a mix CD you're making a friend, so you purchase the MP3 on Amazon or iTunes.

Subtracting the false idea of people making CDs anymore, he's got a point. How does Microsoft accomplish all of this for only $9.99 per month? We have even more details after the break.

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Microsoft Surface RT Pricing Set and Pre-Orders Begin

posted Tuesday Oct 16, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft Surface RT Pricing Set and Pre-Orders Begin

Ever since Microsoft Surface was first announced, the question that remained was "How much will it cost?" There were some massively different ideas, ranging from Kindle Fire range ($200) to iPad range ($830). I always assumed that they would premiere the RT version of the tablet somewhere in the middle trying to find the balance between the glorified eReader and the overpriced.

Today Microsoft finally answered that question when the Surface with Windows RT officially went on pre-order. As I suspected, the RT models, which are identical in look and feel to the full Windows 8 models without the ability to run standard desktop software, started at $499 and go up to $699 for the top storage model. Let's break down the 3 available models. For $499 you will receive the standard tablet with 32GB of storage, but without the sleek keyboard cover. If you are interested in the cover you can purchase it separately for $119, or you can bundle it with the 32GB model for a total of $599. That takes care of the second price-point. Finally, coming in at $699 is the 64GB model, also complete with the Touch Cover keyboard.

As for the pre-orders, there appears to be no way to purchase the 64GB model without the keyboard, or to bundle the keyboard in any color other than black. What is nice about the RT tablets is the inclusion of Office. For no extra charge, Surface RT will include Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which is a pretty nice inclusion. You know the $499 iPad model doesn't have Office on it. For full details on the device you can check out our announcement article or head over to the pre-order page and pick yours up now.

So, are you pre-ordering the Surface RT or are you waiting for the Pro model? Let us know in the comments.

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Best Buy to Match Amazon's Prices to Keep Customers During Holiday Season

posted Sunday Oct 14, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Best Buy to Match Amazon's Prices to Keep Customers During Holiday Season

Back in August, Best Buy had to cut almost 2,500 jobs in order to save costs. This happened on top of the company shrinking to a smaller footprint as well as bringing in Verizon to try and save the company from an inevitable collapse. Online shopping from places like Amazon and CompUSA have put pressure on Best Buy and its associates (who were selling shoes the day before they started working there) to step up and deliver better service to justify its much higher prices, but they have failed at doing so. Because of this, Best Buy will now try a different approach at battling Amazon and will quite literally stoop down to the site's level.

During this holiday season, Best Buy has announced it will match prices that Amazon is advertising in order to keep business in-house. To take it a step further, any product that is out of stock at the physical Best Buy locations will get free delivery to the customer's house. We can also be honest here and say that Best Buy knows a lot of people come into the store to try out the products and then buy them online for sometimes $300 cheaper. This is going to be the company's attempt at keeping the customer in the store to buy, however they may end up losing more money than they gain if they don't get the quantity of sales to justify the new campaign.

It is interesting to note that Best Buy VP of consumer insights, Bill Hoffman, said that the concept of looking and then buying elsewhere, at least for Best Buy, is "material" and the company should "pay attention to it" but said that the number of times that it happens in his stores are "still very low." Perhaps he does not have enough insight about his consumers, because it probably happens hundreds of times a day at my local store alone.

At any rate, this holiday season will be an interesting one for Best Buy, as they are one of the few national chains left still selling out of ridiculously oversized stores. It doesn't help that they have sales associates who know less about the product than the parents of the guy holding a spot for them in the iPhone 5 line. We'll see if this tactic is enough to get them through the holiday season and withstand the next year, but as we've been saying for a while now, it doesn't look good for that big yellow price tag.

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Developers Warned Apple Before Launch that Maps Were not Ready for Public

posted Sunday Oct 14, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Developers Warned Apple Before Launch that Maps Were not Ready for Public

It's that time, again. Time to recap the latest Apple disaster product release, the iPhone 5. Despite the isolated piece of good news, in typical Apple form, the product has been plagued with experience-breaking issues since day one.

All caught up? Great. It is important to note the last story regarding Tim Cook's apology for the new Apple Maps app, which has been a completely broken app since launch, with improvments finally hitting the software this week. It's also important to note the apology because we are finding out this week that developers may have warned Apple ahead of time that Apple Maps wouldn't be ready for the primetime, but Apple rushed along with it anyway.

Learn more on what developers said to Apple after the break.

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FBI Creates Anti-Laser Attack Task Force

posted Sunday Oct 14, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

FBI Creates Anti-Laser Attack Task Force

The FBI sure likes to get their hands involved in a lot of different projects. From raiding accounts of WOW players to seizing your smartphone, they seem to do just about everything. Now, the FBI will make you think twice before ever using your laser pointer for something other than a presentation. The FBI has created a National Anti-Laser Attack Task Force and its purpose is to find, deter and defeat those who like to point their pointers high into the sky from their lawnchair on a random Thursday night.

The FBI says that laser attacks in the United States are actually on the rise and are expected to reach 3,700 cases by the end of the year, compared to only 283 back in 2005, when they first started keeping track of the offenses. Doing some math with those numbers means that the attacks have risen more than 1,100 percent in seven years, and that's for the attacks that are reported only. We know that people getting bored with PowerPoint and buying ridiculously high-powered handheld lasers just to try and blind pilots isn't a new thing, however, the problem is getting so out of hand, that the Bureau has said it has reached "epidemic levels" and must be stopped with this Task Force.

Back in 2008, a Laser Strike Working Group was based in the FBI's Sacramento office, but the FBI has now brought the Task Force to a national level. The good news is that the $250,000 fine and 20 year jail time has been revamped as part of this. Now, idiots pointing these things toward the sky from outside their homes will only receive $11,000 fines and up to five years in prison. The difference is that now more people will be watching. George Johnson, a federal air marshal and liaison with the FBI said,

Use a laser pointer for what it's made for. Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is dangerous and reckless. Just don't do it.

Letting go of the almost perfect environment that must be in place for most lasers to actually blind aviation pilots, this means that ten people are being reported of doing something dumb like this each and every night of the year. You'd think there would be hundreds of other dumb things people could do when they're bored with their friends, but I guess not. What should you do if you witness something being overly bored? First, show them the thing called the Interwebz. Then, the FBI says to call 911, email the FAA or contact your local FBI office. Until then, I expect the sales report to be ready by our 5PM meeting tonight, laser pointer in-hand.

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