The UpStream

Another Kidney for Apple Products

posted Saturday Aug 11, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Another Kidney for Apple Products

I cannot believe I am writing about this again, but here we are. Another Chinese teenager, a 17-year-old boy, sold his kidney on the black market for about $3,500 US, which he then used to purchase an iPad and an iPhone. Yes, this kid underwent surgery in order to purchase a couple of meh consumer electronic devices. As I mentioned, this is not the first time I have written about this. There was the first kidney harvest and the virginity auction, both for Apple products in China last year.

So, what is going on here? Why are people willing to give up their virginity or organs in return for Apple products in China? There are a couple of problems. First, with 1.5 million organ transplants needed in China and only about 10,000 donations, that leaves a HUGE black market open. In fact, this kid's kidney fetched about $35,000 US, most of which was split between the surgeon, hospital official and the Internet troll who found the boy in a chatroom. The fact that even the hospitals are in on the racket is a sign that something is going wrong in the culture or in the government (no kidding, right?).

The other major factor is the social impact of Apple products in the Chinese culture. Since Apple products are so unbelievably expensive, it is a status symbol for a Chinese citizen to own one. Because of the status and the fact that a round of golf is beyond most Chinese budgets, people are willing to do all kinds of crazy things to prove they are important with an iPhone. For example, the boy in question here is currently suffering renal failure and is so weak he is unable to attend the trial in which he is trying to get $350,000 US in damages from the perpetrators of this crime.

Despite the common nature of the harvesting, the practice is obviously illegal, and the people involved are currently facing 10 years in prison, which is not something anyone wants in China. The fact that it is as common as it is, suggests that generally China doesn't prosecute the crime, though they have begun to as of late with 137 recent arrests.

So, now that we have talked about this a couple of times, I need to know: is there anything you would be willing to sell a part of yourself for? Let us know in the comments.

Acer Thinks Surface Tablet is Bad for Business, Threatens Microsoft to Reconsider

posted Wednesday Aug 8, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Acer Thinks Surface Tablet is Bad for Business, Threatens Microsoft to Reconsider

I didn't think anybody but Apple fans would be upset when the Microsoft Surface was announced along with the stunning new accessories. Microsoft beat the first wave of apprehension when they said they welcomed other manufacturers to step their games up against the Surface, and Samsung was quick to announce they'd be launching a Windows 8 RT tablet. All is not well in the Microsoft manufacturer world, though. The last company in my mind that would seem to have an issue, however, would be Acer, but that's exactly who is causing a stir in the tech industry this week as they have told Microsoft to "think twice" about the upcoming flagship Surface tablet.

What's happening here and why is Acer upset? Are they just being childish in the whole matter? Is Microsoft going to put them out of business? We have the answers to all of these questions after the break.

Sony Posts $300 Million Loss for FY Q1, Overall Revenue Slightly Up

posted Saturday Aug 4, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Sony Posts $300 Million Loss for FY Q1, Overall Revenue Slightly Up

Sony's new CEO Kaz Hirai has said countless times that the company's revival plan will right the ship. Since that July 1st meeting and discussion to reassure investors, Sony has purchased Gaikai for $380 million and is readying its third generation of the PlayStation 3. We had to assume that all of this would cost Sony some money but at least would justify the job cuts in a way. At the very least, we'd hoped there wouldn't be another disastrous loss.

I don't know if "disastrous" would be used to cover their sales numbers they posted this week, but it certainly isn't good. Sony said that the economy was still tough and that "the trend toward appreciation of the yen (took) hold." The company also reconsidered its forecast on the fiscal year and estimated a "severe operating environment" for Q2. Unfortunately their gaming division was severely impacted by the losses and Sony had to lower its sales outlook for PlayStation consoles/handhelds that will be sold this year, which will end up making this division perform "significantly below" the original forecast.

So how bad did Sony do? We have the painful numbers after the break.

EA Sues Zynga Over Sims Social Look-a-like, The Ville

posted Saturday Aug 4, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

EA Sues Zynga Over <i>Sims Social</i> Look-a-like, <i>The Ville</i>

As discussed last week on our show, Zynga's slumping performance as of late has led them to be a little bit desperate to hold on to their quickly diminishing userbase; some games have lost half of their 15 million users. They held a massively unimpressive press event to show off uninteresting games and are now grasping at straws with their new social game, The Ville. If you've played the game or even looked at the screen shots, you'd think you were playing The Sims Social, right down to some of the icons!

It didn't take Electronic Arts very long to notice the almost identical game style and design and because of that, the company has sued Zynga, citing direct copying of key features and other important aspects of the game. For Zynga, the company has faced several lawsuits lately that they've just let slide and not paid much attention to, however I think they will make an exception for EA. The stature of the opponent combined with their dismal sales numbers should make for an interesting case in court.

EA says that when The Ville's avatars dance around, talk to one another and do other Sim-y things that they look identical to EA's star social game. EA also said that The Ville's eight levels of player types, from villain to athlete, are just like the scoundrel to jock set in The Sims, except different names. Zynga is also being sued for the color scheme it has used for selecting the player's skin tone. Even the naming of the game is a direct copy: single out the distinctive word from your game series. SimCity, SimTower, SimFarm, etc became The Sims; FarmVille, CityVille and CastleVille became The Ville.

They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I think a cease-and-desist is a fitting return gesture, no?

Amazon Secures Four Major Music Labels for Their Revamped Cloud Music Player

posted Saturday Aug 4, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Amazon Secures Four Major Music Labels for Their Revamped Cloud Music Player

We knew Amazon has been bringing more and more value to its Amazon Prime Instant Video service for some time now, however we've known for a while that they also wanted to start up a "better than Google" music service. Until this week, not much has been heard of the new project, as they were working on securing the music labels, similar to how Spotify had to go through its motions. Sure, the Cloud Drive was up and running, letting you load up 5GB of music, but there wasn't a diverse enough list of songs to choose from and you had to buy their music to get their 20GB service. Plus, it launched without consent from the music labels, which meant the app couldn't have lasted very long if they didn't take action fast.

What labels are on board and what will it cost you, you ask? Luckily we have the answers for you after the break.

An Olympic Gold Medal for Konami Employee

posted Saturday Aug 4, 2012 by Scott Ertz

An Olympic Gold Medal for Konami Employee

This is probably the last Olympic story I thought I would ever write. The gold medalist in the men's individual all-around gymnastics competition in London, Kohei Uchimura, works for Konami. Yes, you read that right: an Olympic gold winner works for a videogame company. Uchimura, however, is not alone. He is actually one of three Konami employees to be competing in London: Koji Yamamuro, Yusuke Tanaka and Kohei Uchimura, all representing the company's home country, Japan.

Konami Sports & Life Co., the division of Konami that Uchimura works for, aims at "providing you an enjoyable and valuable time within your daily life through health and fitness." It would appear that having a gold medalist working for the division they will be closer to being able to accomplishing that lofty goal.

Konami posted on their website,

Konami Sports & Life Co., Ltd. would like to congratulate Uchimura on this great accomplishment, and extend appreciation to his many supporters and fans. Konami will continue to aid in the further development and popularization of sports.

We, too, congratulate him on something seemingly no gamer would have ever expected: an Olympic medal. Thank you for proving to the world that not all gamers are fat and live in the parents' basement. You can see all of his gold medal performances after the break.

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