The UpStream

Sprint Almost Bought MetroPCS [Rumor]

posted Saturday Feb 25, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Sprint Almost Bought MetroPCS [Rumor]

We all know that the wireless industry is a cut-throat business, and with everyone competing on who will get to a wide-spread LTE network first, it is no surprise that national carriers are considering purchasing regional carriers, or even smaller national carriers. We've seen AT&T purchase regional carriers like Dobson Cellular and, of course, Verizon's purchase of Alltel. Most recently, there was the failed attempt at an AT&T/T-Mobile merger, but there are always smaller deals in the works.

This week, one of those deals we didn't even know about fell through. Apparently Sprint Nextel and and MetroPCS have been in talks for months about MetroPCS, a smaller regional carrier, becoming part of the Sprint Nextel family. While the deal did not go through, it took right up to the last minute for it to fail. Apparently, within hours of the final signing, the Sprint board of directors decided to veto the buyout.

The decision, against CEO Dan Hesse's already signing off, seems to be surprising. Sprint has made the commitment to transition to LTE, but their original LTE partner, LightSquared has been hit with FCC issues political and their existing WiMax partner, Clearwire, has had nothing but trouble lately. The addition of MetroPCS to its network would have added MetroPCS's existing LTE footprint, as well as their spectrum, into the fold, giving Sprint their first big win in the LTE process.

Of course, Sprint's response to the rumor was, as always, "we never comment on rumors or speculation."

What do you think? Was killing off the deal a good or a bad move for Sprint Nextel and for MetroPCS? Let us know in the comments section.

Clearwire Needs More Than the $1 Billion in Cash to Operate

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Clearwire Needs More Than the $1 Billion in Cash to Operate

For those who haven't been following along through the Clearwire story, the wireless company has been going through a bit of turmoil as of late. Uncertainty, some changes and some money issues have been troubling the company for more than a year. Let's quickly recap to catch you up to speed.

You should be all caught up now. So this week, more financial issues came up for Clearwire. We have more on that after the break.

The VCR is Dead in Japan

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

The VCR is Dead in Japan

This week, we learned of an interesting story that is on the same strange level as that of Brazil arriving late to the PS2 party. Panasonic has announced that it has stopped producing VCRs in Japan. I had no clue they were still making them, but it is assuring to hear they have halted production of their antiquated effort. I suppose the realization of video content being streamed over the Internet or being stored on a DVR device has finally hit them. There aren't many places that even source the blank tapes anymore.

It should be noted that they have stopped production on the tape-playing machines in the domestic market at the end of 2011. Until inventory depletes, sales will continue on VCRs in Japan. However, Panasonic still does manufacture VCRs in China and Slovakia and they do still have plans to sell VCRs in other smaller countries, depending on the market environment.

This now puts the VCR to rest just like the Walkman and the 8-track. JVC had stopped production of the VCR back in 2006 and stopped selling them altogether shortly thereafter. Panasonic has not released sales numbers for their VCRs, and the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITIA) doesn't even track shipments of the devices, although it does track the car stereo cassette deck sales.

In the end, though, the VCR is now deceased. Rewind In Peace 1977-2012.

Nintendo Wii Gets Hulu Plus Now, 3DS Later This Year

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Nintendo Wii Gets Hulu Plus Now, 3DS Later This Year

First there was Wii Motion Plus and now Hulu Plus. On February 16th, Nintendo inked a partnership with Hulu that will finally allow the Wii to stream movies and TV shows using Hulu Plus through the console. It took a while, but the good news is that the Wii now has the same popular lineup as that of the PS3 and the Xbox 360.

While it may be a little late in the game for the console platform, the 3DS will certainly get a boost with this move as consumers should expect Hulu Plus to hit the devices later this year.

Foxconn's Apple Facility Investigation Could Be Over Before It Starts

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Foxconn's Apple Facility Investigation Could Be Over Before It Starts

What happens after you post record profits and then your production facility's documents were hacked because people are starting to learn about the downright awful working conditions of the employees? If you're Apple, you are investigated and audited to make sure these allegations aren't true, even though reports of suicides and other deaths have been coming out of the Foxconn production plant for almost a year now.

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has taken on the task of auditing Foxconn's Apple manufacturing facility this week. Instead of actually going through a process and conduct a complete investigation, however, the head of the organization has already stated that things are probably fine inside the workplace and the injuries are more than likely due to "boredom" and not anything else.

We have all of the details on the absurdity after the break.

Sony Exec Expects the PS Vita to Dominate in the US

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Jon Wurm

Sony Exec Expects the PS Vita to Dominate in the US

It has been about 9 months since E3 2011 when Sony proudly showed off the new and improved PS Vita but only Japan had yet to see it on store shelves, until this week, and in the hands of core gamers. According to Shuhei Yoshida, who is in charge of all the games produced internally for Sony platforms, the mobile gaming market in Japan is healthy and actually larger than the console market. He also mentioned that sales were good but nothing to get ecstatic over, in an interview with Dean Takahashi of Venture Beat. Sony fans outside of Japan remember the disappointment of having the release date pushed back to February 22nd 2012 (unless you preordered) from an original 2011 holiday season release. So why is Yoshida remaining optimistic about the PS Vita's US launch?

As it turns out, Yoshida believes the success of their US launch will be based on three factors. The first one is at the core of how Sony traditionally looks at improving their devices, add a lot more power and make the graphics look really great. The PS Vita certainly lives up to those expectations, given it's production specs. The second factor plays to the PS Vita's new array of innovations like the touchscreen, back touch, camera, 6 axis, accelerometer and revamped operating system. These additions open up how gamers experience a portable gaming device in a way that is truly unique from the PlayStation 3 and 3DS. At E3 2011 Uncharted: Golden Abyss stole the show when it came to showing off the Vita's new functionality and how it could be implemented in games.

The third thing Yoshida feels will seal the deal for a great US release has to do with ditching the old XCrossMediaBar in favor of a new and improved Android-based operating system. Find out why after the break.

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