The UpStream

RadioShack Upgrades From 3G+ to 4G LTE

posted Wednesday Jul 27, 2011 by Scott Ertz

RadioShack Upgrades From 3G+ to 4G LTE

As regular readers of The UpStream know, many of us here are RadioShack alumni. Over the years, we have seen a lot of changes, particularly in the wireless business. In my tenure with the company, I had the opportunity to interact with all of the major networks but always in smaller, odd pairings. The largest, and possibly strangest pairing, is the current 3 that The Shack offers - Sprint, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile.

This week, however, RadioShack announced that they plan to oust T-Mobile and replace them with Verizon Wireless. This is a surprising move considering remarks that RadioShack leaders have made about the smallest national carrier's interactions with the retailer. At one point during the 4th quarter earnings call for 2010, there was even a comment about T-Mobile breaching their contract with the corporation. With all of that said, I don't think anyone is surprised that the new CEO, James F. Gooch, is ready to be done with them.

How does this impact the wireless-buying populace? Hit the break to find out.

Facebook Wants Mobile Money

posted Wednesday Jul 27, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Facebook Wants Mobile Money

Before 2011 this year Facebook Credits were merely an option for game developers and it was a nice option to have. If they chose not to manage their own virtual currency but wanted the option to sell virtual goods, Facebook took care of it for a fee. Then in January this year, Facebook announced a new policy, effective July 1st 2011, that would make it mandatory for game developers to use Facebook Credits should they want to sell virtual goods to users through Facebook. Basically, they were leveraging their then 500 million plus user base to get mega social game developers like Zynga to concede to the 30% Facebook takes off the top. To be fair, there are advantages to having one universal currency and Facebook has offered targeted ad campaigns as part of the deal.

What Facebook has been missing out on is the revenue generated by smartphone and tablet users who take advantage of the mobile apps and mobile browsers for the various platforms. They are asking developers to start building apps with HTML 5 standards which might put them in a better position to take advantage of the revenue slipping through their fingers. ThinkEquity LLC estimates the virtual goods market to be around $20 billion by 2014 and, with the growing popularity of mobile gaming, Facebook could be missing out on a lot of revenue right now. Undisclosed sources told reporters at Bloomberg that Facebook might include something like a news feed in apps that is dedicated to displaying your friends in-game activities in an effort to get game developers more recognition.

With a possible Facebook IPO early next year, hit the break to find out why they need to take advantage of these revenues.

Chinese Parents Sell Their Three Children to Pay for Video Gaming

posted Tuesday Jul 26, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Chinese Parents Sell Their Three Children to Pay for Video Gaming

There are some things in life that you hear about and think are simply weird or strange. Other times, there are things that are confusing. This is one of those cases that go beyond the bizarre line and enter the "just plain wrong" category. Forget about selling your kidney for an iPad or your virginity for an iPhone, this week parents Li Lin and Li Juan have been accused of selling all three of their children to solve their need to play video games at several Internet lounges. I promise you, this is something even the best fake Apple store can't make up.

Ironically enough, the couple, both under 21 years old, met each other inside one of these web cafes in 2001. Only a year after that, they had their first son, which they left at home by himself days after birth so they could go play video games at a cafe nearly 20 miles away.

They then decided in 2009 to sell their second of their three kids, their infant daughter, for just $500 USD in order to pay for their gaming addiction. When funds ran tight again, they decided to sell their first son, who apparently was worth more at $4,600 USD. Then once their third son was born, they sold him and got almost another $4,600 USD.

How did they finally stop? Li Lin's mother reported them to the Chinese authorities when she learned what her son had done to her grandchildren.

"We don't want to raise them, we just want to sell them for some money," was the reply when asked if they missed their kids and they claim that they didn't know selling their own flesh and blood was against the law. Did they not realize it was morally wrong as well? This really takes video game addiction to a whole new level.

Dish Network Keeps Open Over 1,500 Blockbuster Locations

posted Sunday Jul 24, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Dish Network Keeps Open Over 1,500 Blockbuster Locations

Since the Blockbuster auction earlier this year, we were curious to see what Dish Network was going to do with all the stores they ended up with. On the show, we had several speculations, like branding purposes, or that they would keep open a select number of the stores to sell their Dish Network TV service. Call us crazy, but we were hoping they would do something with the $320 million purchase.

Well, some of our predictions came true, as this week, Dish Network and Blockbuster, LLC announced that "despite our efforts to reach reasonable terms, some property owners have closed stores." However, Dish will keep open over 1,500 of the locations and retain 15,000 employees. To compare, when Blockbuster went into bankruptcy, they had around 3,000 stores, and when Dish acquired them they were left with over 1,700.

For more on the story and the press release, click the break.

Facebook Stalking Will Get You Four Years in Prison

posted Sunday Jul 24, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Facebook Stalking Will Get You Four Years in Prison

We all know California was a little bit off the rocker and that their citizens were a touch on the nutty side, but this one definitely goes over the top. Not only is the offense out there but the sentence is, too. A guy from California spent time on Facebook, stalking women's Facebook pages, looking for items that would let him get into their email accounts.

The information he gathered would then lead him to get into the accounts via the security questions. Investigator Robert Mogester said,

The victims we went to said "I had very robust passwords." But it didn't matter how robust the password was if the recovery question is easy. Lost your password? What's your favorite color or what high school did you go to? Or what's your dog's name? And he was able to glean that information from social media.

So what happened here? We have the full story after the break.

Guitar Hero: The Band is Getting Back Together

posted Saturday Jul 23, 2011 by Jon Wurm

 <i>Guitar Hero</i>: The Band is Getting Back Together

Activision pulled an Apple by announcing one thing and doing the opposite. Of course I'm talking about the Guitar Hero franchise being disbanded due to waning sales caused by releasing titles too frequently and not enough continuous innovation. Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard's CEO made a statement in Forbes about bringing the franchise back, if indeed it was ever really dead.

...we're going to take the products out of the market, and we're not going to tell anybody what we're doing for awhile... we're going to use new studios and reinvent Guitar Hero. And so that's what we're doing with it now.

How they plan on bringing the franchise back better than ever is a mystery but at least we can add the actual death of the Guitar Hero franchise to the list of things that will never actually happen. Whether or not that's a good thing. Only time will tell but I've never heard of a reunion tour being better just because the band got back together.

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