The UpStream

FTC Recommends Antitrust Suit Against Google

posted Saturday Oct 13, 2012 by Scott Ertz

FTC Recommends Antitrust Suit Against Google

When the Federal Trade Commission started its antitrust investigation into Google, I don't think there was anyone in the industry that didn't make the immediate decision that the case was inevitable. If they did, they are not aware of the general policies of Google and their tendency to steal others' content and brand it as their own and to promote their own services through their search engine despite relevance.

As an example, Google search shows results on the right column from Google+, whereas Bing shows results from other social networks like Facebook, as well as relevant journalists, not just results from their so.cl service.

All of that being said, the FTC has started to answer the unasked question by circulating a memo throughout the organization. It turns out the FTC investigators are recommending a lawsuit to their commissioners against Google for exactly those reasons. In fact, Yelp representatives have testified to the FTC over these issues as their content was one of the first major issues raised that is bringing this case to a head. CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said last year,

We believe Google has acted anti-competitively in at least two key ways: by misusing Yelp review content in their competing Places product and by favoring their own competing Places product in search results.

Apparently the FTC agrees with you, Jeremy, and we can likely see a case filed against the company within the next few months. So far Google's interactions with the FTC have not worked out for Google, with a $25,000 StreetView fine, as well as a $22.5 million fine for circumventing Safari's privacy settings. If you are a fan of Google, you will probably hope this case goes differently for them. If you dislike Google, you will probably enjoy the beat-down that I predict the FTC will be dishing out in the next 12-16 months.

Early Hulu Investor Sells Stake

posted Saturday Oct 13, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Early Hulu Investor Sells Stake

It is official - the three major media partners are the only remaining owners of media service Hulu. Providence Equity Partners, an early investor in the Netflix-competitor, has sold its 10 percent share in the company to remaining owners, News Corp. (FOX), Comcast (NBC Universal) and Disney (ABC). The initial investment was for $100 million in 2007 and the sale this week was for a whopping $200 million. As an investment firm, a 100% increase in value is not a bad investment at all.

The sale not only puts the content creators in complete charge of the company, it also forces a valuation of the company. With ten percent of the company selling for $200 million, that officially values the company as a whole at $2 billion. Through its more than 2 million paid subscriptions, Hulu earned $420 million in revenue in 2011, meaning it earns almost 25 percent of its value per year. While not the best revenue in the world, it's nothing to be ashamed of.

What does this sale mean for the longevity of Hulu? Hit the break for our analysis.

Sprint Looking for Cash, Possibly to Buy MetroPCS

posted Saturday Oct 13, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Sprint Looking for Cash, Possibly to Buy MetroPCS

Since T-Mobile announced intentions to purchase MetroPCS, Sprint has been considering outbidding the company for the 5th largest US wireless carrier after initially bailing on the idea. The big question everyone asked was where would Sprint get the cash? They have dumped millions into troubled partner Clearwire on several occasions.

This week, Sprint answered that question without mentioning the question. Sprint has confirmed that they are in talks with Softbank for a possible cash infusion. No information is available on the details of the talks, but two things are pretty clear: if Softbank invests, it will change the management scheme of Sprint and the only reason they would be considering it is because they want to throw a large sum of cash at a project. According to Sprint,

Although there can be no assurances that these discussions will result in any transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur, such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint. Sprint does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached.

Either they are superstitious about talking details ahead of time or they do not want the general population to know what they are planning. If I had to guess, I would put my money on the latter. It looks like a Sprint purchase of MetroPCS will end up being a much larger change for the industry that previously anticipated, considering it would probably involve a change in control over Sprint. Only time will tell.

So, do you think it would be better for Sprint to change partial ownership and buy Metro, making a third major player in the 4G market, or is it better for T-Mobile to sweep in and put more pressure on the prepaid market? Let us know in the comments.

New PlayStation Store Follows New Microsoft Design Guidelines

posted Friday Oct 12, 2012 by Scott Ertz

New PlayStation Store Follows New Microsoft Design Guidelines

Sony has officially announced the design of their new PlayStation Store and boy does it look familiar. The interface is entirely designed around the concept of Live Tiles, the basis of the new Microsoft Modern UI principle. The concept is currently available on the Xbox Dashboard and Windows Phone 7. It started its life in the now retired Zune and will be making its desktop debut with Windows 8 later this month. Sony is not the first company to believe Microsoft really has something with its Modern UI. Google has implemented the concept in its Google Play store as well as YouTube. We have even seen Apple implement it in the iOS6 App Store.

The interface, pictured after the break, is laid out is a way that makes the store actually useful. The current store is nearly impossible to navigate, especially if your intention is to navigate backwards, so a change like this will make life a lot easier for a lot of people. The store is separated into the usual sections, with the addition of media content being available all from the same store. In fact, over 100,000 videos and TV shows will be available from the redesigned store.

Not everything is getting a face lift, however. Hit the break for that and a photo of the new store.

iPhone 5's Purple Flares Found by Apple to be Completely Normal

posted Sunday Oct 7, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

iPhone 5's Purple Flares Found by Apple to be Completely Normal

There comes a time in every journalist's life where he must admit he is wrong. That time has arrived for me. I am wrong about the iPhone 5. While the phone has done a lot of good for the deployment of more 4G LTE, there has been the scratch and dent fiasco and the Apple Maps disaster that has plagued this product since launch day. I was wrong when I said Apple wouldn't blame the customer for a problem with the device. I apologize, as I should have known better.

This week, Apple has essentially blamed customers for holding the iPhone wrong, again. This time, it's when you want to take a picture. You know the purple halos you're seeing when you take a picture with a bright light coming from off-screen? Yeah, Apple says those are normal and completely expected. Instead of owning up to the problem, Apple has said that you hold the phone in a different manner or angle it differently to get a better picture. In fact, they have said that many small cameras have this problem. Looking through pictures from my Palm Pre and even my five-year-old Samsung A920, I've yet to encounter this issue.

Most small cameras, including those in every generation of iPhone, may exhibit some form of flare at the edge of the frame when capturing an image with out-of-scene light sources... Moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens, or shielding the lens with your hand, should minimize or eliminate the effect.

An official response from AppleCare rep Debby says that this purple flare is totally fine.

Our engineering team just gave me this information and we recommend that you angle the camera away from the bright light source when taking pictures. The purple flare in the image provided is considered normal behavior for iPhone 5's camera.

So there you have it. Apple's stance on the matter is based solely on the fact that nobody should ever take pictures when there's a big, giant burning star in the sky called the Sun. I've also heard that there is a new trend forming in Cupertino that involves taking photos by candle light only. This is further proof of my belief that Apple is fully complacent with the state of the company and truly believes (and it has been proven) their customers will buy whatever product they put out, even with the amount of problems that have already been shown with the iPhone 5. It is a sad but true fact.

Does this finally outrage you enough to not buy the iPhone 5? Do you already have one and are now regretting it? Vent your frustrations in the comments below.

Article image courtesy of Gawker Assets.

Bing Recognizes Journalists as Experts

posted Saturday Oct 6, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Bing Recognizes Journalists as Experts

Despite the FCC's feelings, Bing has decided that online journalists can be experts in their particular fields and have decided to add us to the social bar on the right-hand side of your search results. In the future, as you search for topics of importance, in addition to your social network connections and the things they have said about the topic, you will also see high profile journalists and the things they have said on the topic.

This is a great way for Bing to bring together their standard search results, their social results and Bing News into one simple search process. It is also a great way for Bing to continue to grow their marketshare along with the Bing it On challenge and a fairly well-crafted advertising campaign. Microsoft has obviously learned from Google's mistakes of tailoring their search results based on Facebook likes, Twitter tweets and Google+ shares from your friends. Because of their difference in incorporating social results, Bing seems to have emerged as the leader in relevance, something no one ever thought Google would lose.

For more information on the new search feature, hit the break.

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