Archive | April, 2012

Sorry, Guys: No More Free Verizon Phone Upgrades: $30 Fee Starts April 22

11 Apr

On April 22nd, Verizon will begin charging a$30 upgrade fee when existing customers buy a new phone on a new contract. It’s the sad end of the free upgrade era.

Right now, Verizon is the last major carrier to skip the fee. AT&T and Sprint both charge $36, and T-Mobile charges $18. Verizon says the fees will go toward providing “Wireless Workshops, online educational tools, and consultations with experts” for customers—and who says they won’t? But there’s always been a slime factor to giving folks a discount on a phone for signing a new contract, then charging a fee for taking the discount. Verizon ain’t alone on this, but it’s still a sorrowful thing that we’ve got one more universal, idiotic fee. [Verizon via BGR]

No More Free Phone Upgrades: Verizon’s $30 Fee Starts April 22nd.

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10 Apr

Hoppit Launches The World’s First Ambience Search Engine For Restaurants | TechCrunch

10 Apr

Hoppit_logo

Finding a good restaurant – even in a city you’ve never been to – has never been easier. Thanks to Yelp, Urbanspoon and its various brethren, a good place to eat is generally just a few clicks away. What if you want to find a restaurant with a very specific atmosphere, though? Say you’re in the mood for a pizza at a relaxed place where the noise level is just right for a good conversation? Chances are, Yelp won’t be of much help there, but the newly redesigned Hoppit is putting these kinds of searches at the core of its service. The New York-based startup describes itself as the “world’s first ambience search engine for restaurants and bars.”

The service is now available in 25 cities and offers desktop and mobile web apps. Its apps for Android and iPhone should launch in early May.

To get started, you simply tell Hoppit where you are and what you are looking for. You can use keywords to search for specific places and dishes, but you can also just tell the service what kind of atmosphere you are looking for (classy and upscale, hipster, romantic, swanky and posh, etc.). From there, you can restrict your searches by cuisine, neighborhood, atmosphere (fireplace, dimly lit, view) and noise level. The site also aggregates food and beverage deals from Groupon and Gilt City.

To aggregate all this data about these restaurants, Hoppit uses what it calls “state-of-the-art natural language processing technology and related algorithms [that] take into account a consumer’s preferences and provide personalized search results.” For the most part, this works really well, though I noticed that while Hoppit will happily show you search results for virtually any town and zip code in the U.S., its filters don’t actually work in most of these places (the full-blown service is only live in 25 major cities, after all).

So if you are looking for that perfect French restaurant with a wine bar and exposed brick for your next date, give Hoppit a try.

Hoppit Launches The World’s First Ambience Search Engine For Restaurants | TechCrunch.

FINALLY! AT&T and Other Major U.S. Carriers Will Start Tracking Stolen Mobile Phones to Reduce Theft!

10 Apr

The Wall Street Journal reports that the four major U.S. wireless carriers have reached an agreement with the Federal Communications Commission to work toward a centralized database to track and disable stolen mobile phones.

The database, which the wireless companies will build and maintain, will be designed to track phones that are reported as lost or stolen and deny them voice and data service. The idea is to reduce crime by making it difficult or impossible to actually use a stolen device, reducing resale value.

Currently, Verizon Communications Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp. block phones that are reported stolen from being reactivated. AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA don’t. All four have agreed to be part of the new database.

The report cites a study from the New York Police Department showing that electronics are now the most commonly stolen type of property, with mobile phones accounting for over 80% of thefts in that category.

According to the plan, the major carriers will develop individual databases within six months, integrating them over the following 12 months. Smaller carriers will also join the database after that point. The database will also be interoperable with similar efforts in other countries to allow for international tracking of stolen phones, although many countries have yet to develop such databases.

As noted by ifoAppleStore, Apple has typically taken a hands-off approach when it comes to stolen phones, with Genius Bar staff routinely offering free warranty replacements in exchange for stolen phones. Apple’s policies reportedly stem from a lack of centralized tracking of stolen devices and a desire to not become involved in potential confrontations over the stolen merchandise, but an official database supported by the carriers could help Apple become more proactive about handling stolen iPhones.

via Major U.S. Carriers Agree to Develop Centralized Database to Track Stolen Mobile Phones – Mac Rumors.

Facebook To Acquire Instagram For $1 Billion

9 Apr

Facebook To Acquire Instagram For $1 Billion | TechCrunch.

Facebook To Acquire Instagram For  Billion | TechCrunch

Facebook has just finished a deal to acquire Instagram. The compensation will be approximately $1 billion in cash and stock.

Mark Zuckerberg posted the following letter to his Timeline about the purchase:


I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.

WHAT?!?! Analysts Look Toward $1000 Share Price, $1 Trillion Market Cap for Apple

3 Apr

Analysts Look Toward $1000 Share Price, $1 Trillion Market Cap for Apple – Mac Rumors.

Over the past two days, a couple of high-profile research analysts have issued reports predicting that Apple’s stock will reach the $1000/share milestone within the next year or two, a move that would see that company’s market capitalization push toward an unprecedented trillion-dollar market capitalization. 

Yesterday, analyst Brian White issued his first research note on Apple in his new position with Topeka Capital Markets. White had previously worked at Ticonderoga Securities, which ceased operations earlier this year. In his initiation report for Topeka, White offers a 12-month price target of $1001 for Apple, citing the appeal of 4G LTE, booming growth in China, and an expected Apple television set as drivers for the company’s growth.

We are initiating coverage of Apple with a Buy rating and a 12-month price target of $1,001.00. Driven by an ever expanding portfolio of innovative products, a growing integrated digital grid, unmatched aesthetics and a brand that is able to touch the soul of consumers of all backgrounds, Apple fever is spreading like a wildfire around the world and we see no end in sight to this trend. As such, we believe the Apple story still has a long way to play out in the coming years and we expect the next 12-18 months to be particularly exciting for the Company on multiple fronts.

White also points to Apple’s dividend and share repurchase program, with growth of that program in the future, as an additional driver for investor interest in Apple’s stock. 

Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster weighed in with his own report early today, and while his official 12-month price target for Apple moves from $718 to $910, he believes that the stock will roll on to reach $1000 in 2014.

While our 12-month price target is $910, we believe shares of AAPL can reach $1,000 beyond our one year price target window, specifically in 2014 when we believe investors will begin to factor in CY15 numbers. Even conservatively applying the 12x forward year EPS multiple (CY13) that Apple is currently trading at to our CY15 estimate of $80.18, we reach a $960 share price. Furthermore, we believe factoring in an Apple Television could add more than $4 in EPS (5%) by CY15, which could yield over a $1,000 share price (12 * ~$84).

Munster estimates that half of the predicted $400 billion growth in Apple’s market cap will come at the expense of its competitors, while the other half will come from new money entering the tech sector. 

Given Apple’s current share count of roughly 930 million, a $1000 price would see the company pushing toward a market capitalization of $1 trillion. As we noted last month, Microsoft set the standard for highest market capitalization for a publicly-traded company back in 1999 at $604 billion. Apple is roughly $20 billion short of that number as of today, but when adjusted for inflation, Microsoft’s peak market cap would have corresponded to over $800 billion in today’s dollars.

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