The UpStream

Could a $100 Xbox 360 Revitalize Hardware Sales?

posted Sunday May 6, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Could a $100 Xbox 360 Revitalize Hardware Sales?

It is no secret that gaming hardware sales are down. Nintendo posted its first ever loss this quarter but, in large part, to lackluster hardware sales. They sold just under 10 million Wii consoles compared to 15 million this time last year; that is a 33% drop in hardware sales. The sales numbers on the 3DS are, at this point, legendary, and it is difficult to recover from.

In addition to Nintendo's sales problems, Sony's PS Vita has not had the sales that executives expected. A large part of the problem for handheld gaming is the proliferation of smartphones and the amount and quality of gaming available on those platforms. For example, the Asphalt 6 that came with with the BlackBerry PlayBook OS2 upgrade is on par with any racing game available on the 3DS or Vita.

While sales for dedicated gaming hardware seem to be slipping, and Nintendo and Sony seem caught off guard by this slip, Microsoft seems to have had a plan in place to deal with it. Their plan has been to emphasize the media aspects of the console. In fact, they affected statistics for consoles with this strategy.

While it has been a winning strategy until now, it won't last forever. Will a cheaper console be their next move? Hit the break to find out.

AT&T Helps You Protect Your Phone from Theft, Lockdowns Coming Soon

posted Sunday May 6, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

AT&T Helps You Protect Your Phone from Theft, Lockdowns Coming Soon

AT&T decided this week that it's a good idea to help eliminate cell phone theft. The company has launched a new section of their website that not only helped customers be better informed on protecting their devices, but will also, in time, be able to shut down the stolen device. The site, att.com/stolenphone first tells all users to put a password on your mobile device and change it often. It also has information on the security apps available and features a tutorial on how to back up contacts on a SIM card.

The AT&T Stolen Phone program launched shortly after the FCC came together with the wireless providers to work on building a list of all stolen devices. For more on the program and what this list will do, check after the break.

Arianna Huffington Steps Aside as Czar of AOL Media

posted Saturday May 5, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Arianna Huffington Steps Aside as Czar of AOL Media

A little over a year ago, AOL agreed to purchase The Huffington Post, which made Arianna Huffington the Editor-in-Chief of AOL media. This decision was controversial all over the Internet, but most famously through the TechCrunch space, who lost their founder, Mike Arrington, followed by an exodus of employees following behind him. Obviously the decision to make Huffington Czar of AOL has turned out well for the company, so long as their goal was to make all of their brands as irrelevant as AOL itself.

AOL's management seems to be a little less ostrich-like this week, pulling their head out of the sand long enough to scale Arianna's role in the company back. In fact, management has brought in former Time Inc. executive Ned Desmond to oversee everything that Arianna has ruined, including Engadget, Joystiq, TechCrunch and The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW). While Arianna has tried to make it sound like it was her decision, it is clear to anyone with a brain that it was not; this might be why she thinks it is her decision. She has been banished back to the obscurity of HuffPo, where she can continue to oversee insanity and feel right at home.

AOL's management seems excited about this transition. Hit the break to hear what they have to say about it and what it could mean for some of the biggest tech blogs on the web.

Google's Next FTC Fine May be Huge

posted Saturday May 5, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Google's Next FTC Fine May be Huge

Google and the government have a very sketchy relationship. They recently received a $25,000 fine for the StreetView debacle, plus the impending anti-trust case, but that isn't their only current problem. They have also been under investigation over a violation of Internet privacy, overriding security settings on Apple's Safari web browser, and this fine won't be a slap on the wrist.

The issue revolves around Google planting cookies on the users computer, which allowed Google to bypass Safari's privacy settings. The cookies allowed Google to target ads to users on all platforms using Safari, including desktops, laptops, iPads and iPhones. As with the StreetView issue, they claimed it was an accident and that they removed the files. According to an anonymous source familiar with the issue, Google and the FTC are currently in discussions over the size of the fine for this breach of public trust. The numbers are currently topping out in the $10 million range.

Why is this breach of privacy going to cost so much more than the last? Hit the break for the details.

Sprint Lands $2 Billion Multi-Year, Multi-State Contract

posted Saturday May 5, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Sprint Lands $2 Billion Multi-Year, Multi-State Contract

Sprint's 2012 has not quite been what they had hoped it would be, with the termination of the LightSquared deal and having to dump piles of cash into Clearwire to keep their current 4G network alive. They have also had trouble in recent years with their government contracts - there was once a time when every government agent had a Nextel phone, but with the antique nature of the network, that has not lasted. This week, Sprint announced a partnership that will help with both of these situations.

The Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA), a combination of 15 states who have pooled their purchasing power to get better rates for services, has signed a 4 year, $2 billion deal with Sprint to provide wireless services to healthcare, education, safety, utilities and non-profits across those 15 states. This deal marks one of Sprint's largest deals of the year, something they certainly need with all of the partner problems they have had.

Why did they choose Sprint and what does this mean for the company? Find out after the break.

Facebook's IPO to Happen May 16th, Talks May Start Next Week

posted Friday May 4, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Facebook's IPO to Happen May 16th, Talks May Start Next Week

Normally, before a company will start an initial public offering (IPO) they will go into a dark room and lock themselves in for a very long time. This is prevent statements intended to influence potential investors and valuation changes, as it is difficult for investors to hit a moving target. Facebook's rumored IPO felt like it was going to happen any time now but then the company went ahead and purchased Instagram for $1 billion and then right after that spent $550 million on patents from Microsoft. You'd think they would have to take some time after these major purchases and restructure their offering.

Not Facebook. Reports have been flying all over the Internet this week that the company might be starting its rounds to investors as early as next week and will be scheduling their IPO around May 16th.

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