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Yelp Settles FTC With FTC Over Child Privacy Violation Charges

September 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yelp has agreed to pay $450,000 to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to settle charges that the firm accepted registrations to its services from children under 13 through its apps.

The FTC had earlier on Tuesday lodged a complaint against the service that connects people with local businesses, stating that it had violated a number of rules, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Before 2009, users could only register through the website, where Yelp had a screening mechanism to prohibit users under the age of 13 from registering. However, in 2009, Yelp introduced a registration feature in its app, allowing users to register for new accounts through the application but failed to implement a working age-screen mechanism in the feature, according to the FTC complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

As a result, both the iOS and Android versions of the app accepted registrations and collected information from users who entered dates of birth indicating that they were underaged, the complaint added. This went on until April 2013.

Yelp said in a blog post earlier this week that it had reached a settlement with the FTC regarding the bug in the mobile registration process that failed to disallow registrations from individuals under 13. Birth dates on Yelp are optional in the first place, so users are always free to register without one, it noted.

The FTC charged Yelp with violating the COPPA Rule by failing to provide notice to parents of its information practices, and to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children.

Under the proposed settlement, Yelp has to destroy the personal information of children under 13 who registered with the service within 30 days of the entry of the order, in most cases.

Yelp said that only about 0.02% of users who actually completed the registration process during the time period provided an underage birth date, “and we have good reason to believe that many of them were actually adults.”

The company had an average of about 138 million monthly unique visitors in the second quarter of this year.

 

 

Amazon Expands Kindle Lineup, Increases Pricing

September 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc continued its push into hardware with the debut of six new or upgraded devices, including a high-end $199 e-reader called the Kindle Voyage and its cheapest-ever touch-screen tablet.

The No. 1 U.S. online retailer also revamped its basic Kindle e-reader to include a touch screen. It will cost $79, about 15 percent more than the current basic model.

Other new devices unveiled on Wednesday are a $99 Kindle Fire HD tablet, which includes a smaller, six-inch screen as well as a tablet designed for kids that starts at $149. Amazon also upgraded its 7-inch and 8.9 inch Fire tablets.

All the upgraded and new devices start shipping in October.

The expanding Kindle lineup underscores Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ commitment to developing devices as a way to retain users and bolster its core business of retail and shopping.

This year alone, Amazon has launched a set-top box, a grocery ordering wand and a Fire smart phone, which debuted in July to lackluster reviews.

Amazon, which entered the hardware sector with the 2007 launch of the Kindle, has adopted a strategy of selling the devices at cost, and it profits when users buy content or goods.

It has been investing heavily in content, inking a deal this year to stream some HBO shows including “The Sopranos” and “The Wire” to members of its Prime subscription program.

“The vast majority of people are still using the tablets,” David Limp, vice president of devices for Amazon, said during a briefing with reporters in New York.

Executives touted the Kindle Voyage as the thinnest device Amazon has ever made. The company hopes heavy readers might adopt the device, which more closely mimic a paper book.

 

 

Ericsson Exiting Modem Business

September 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ericsson, the world’s largest mobile network equipment manufacturer, is shutting down its modem business, shutting a loss-making unit with the departure of about 1,000 staff.

The decision comes amid falling prices of modems, rising demands on research and development and a shrinking market as more smartphone makers buy modems and processors, which Ericsson does not make, together.

The Swedish company had said it would evaluate the future of the business within 18 to 24 months of taking it on in 2013 when joint venture partner STMicroelectronics pulled out.

Ericsson’s chief executive said on Thursday the rapidly changing market meant the company had concluded it would be too expensive for the business to succeed.

“In addition, we believe we can use this money in a better way,” Hans Vestberg told Reuters.

The Swedish company said the decision to end the development of modems would mean it could shift resources to developing radio networks.

Ericsson had targeted a top three market position for its modems business, which employs around 1,600 people, alongside U.S. firms Qualcomm and Intel.

The move to stop developing new modems would mean around 1,000 staff leaving Ericsson, Vestberg said.

Some of the other employees would find work at a new research and development unit within Ericsson’s core radio networks business that will be set up in Sweden’s Lund and employ 500 in total.

Some would also continue working with the M7450 modem which was launched in August, Vestberg said, although it was hard to say for how long Ericsson would go on making it as that would depend on the success of the smartphones in which it sits.

In total, Ericsson employed slightly more than 115,000 at the end of the second quarter.

Ericsson said it expected the move to lead to significant cost savings, without specifying. In the three quarters since the modems business was integrated in Ericsson, it had racked up 1.7 billion Swedish crowns (238 million) in operating losses.

 

 

Will Intel Debut NUC This Year?

September 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Everyone is not too happy with Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) brand that the company came up with for its small form factor desktop replacements at IDF 2012. Intel started shipping these small desktops in early 2013.

NUC started off with Sandy Bridge-based parts codenamed Ski Lake (DCP847SK) and with the Celeron 847 it got quite a lot of attention thanks to more affordable pricing. A year after Intel launched multiple Core i3 based SKUs with Ivy Bridge and this year it introduced models based on Wilson Canyon platform and Haswell CPUs. Affordable Bay Trail models appeared as well.

The latest Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK measures tiny 116.6mm x 112mm x 34.5mm and sells for about 370 USD in states and 300 Euro in Germany or £278 in the UK. Back at IDF 2014, Intel’s biggest developer conference some people close to NUC projects told us that since the launch the project has been success.

It started with 250,000 shipped units in the first generation and grew to half a million units with second generation products. There is a chance that this year Intel might sell as many as one million units as an ultimate goal but shipments in the 750,000 to 1 million range might be more realistic. Even if Intel sells around 750,000 units, it will mean that they managed to triple the market within rather short time.

There will be Braswell and Broadwell fourth generation NUCs coming in 2015, but Intel needs to launch 15W TDP part Broadwell and this happens in Q2 2015 as far as we know. We don’t know if the Braswell NUC comes as soon as Broadwell-U or a bit later, but it is in the works.

This Braswell NUC should be really affordable and should replace the Bay-Trail M based DN2820FYKH powered by the Celeron N2820. Have in mind that this entry level Celeron costs a mere $144 at press time and only needs some RAM and an HDD to work. At its lowest spec 2GB SODIMM sell for as low as $10 and Toshiba has MSATA 62GB drive for as low as $24.95.

This means a small, power efficient machine that can run Windows goes as low as $179. No wonder that they are so popular.

Courtesy-Fud

Sharp To Manufacture Low-power Mobile Displays

September 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sharp has targeted 2017 for mass production of a new display it says will reduce power consumption in mobile phones and tablets.

The MEMS-IGZO display, being developed under a 2012 tie-up with Qualcomm subsidiary Pixtronix, could be used in smartphones and tablets as well as larger displays.

Compared to current LCDs, MEMS-IGZO technology can operate without blurring the image in temperatures as low as -30 C (-32 F), offers better color purity and gamut, and has ultra-low power consumption.

Depending on usage, devices could run for twice as long using the new displays instead of LCD, said Pixtronix President Greg Heinzinger.

The “programmable display” can change power usage depending on whether the user is looking at a video or an e-book, for instance, Heinzinger said, adding that most display technologies use the same power regardless of the content. Color gamut, depth and fidelity can also be modified depending on use.

Power efficiency will become a crucial feature of next-generation displays because resolution has basically reached the limits of perception of the human eye, Sharp Devices Group Chief Officer Norikazu Hohshi told the briefing.

The company is licensing MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology from Pixtronix. Qualcomm has long been trying to make the technology popular, and commercialized its related Mirasol low-power display in its Toq smartwatch last year.

MEMS displays work in a fundamentally different way than LCDs. Thousands of miniature shutters, as tiny as one per pixel, modulate light emitted from RGB LEDs to produce different colors. It takes only 100 microseconds for the shutters to move and the system has a faster reaction time than LCD pixels, which are each paired with a color filter to allow either red, blue or green light to pass.

IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) refers to Sharp’s semiconductor technology used with the MEMS shutters. The MEMS-IGZO displays can be built using existing LCD manufacturing infrastructure, which would be a cost benefit.

 

 

Google Launches Android One Program

September 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google Inc rolled out in India on Monday the first smartphones under its Android One project, pricing them at around 6,399 rupees ($105) to capture the low-cost segment of the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.

The Mountain View-Based company tied up with Indian mobile players Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles to launch the affordable phones, which are powered by its operating system and aimed at emerging markets.

After launching in India, Google said it plans to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015.

Google outlined the pricing and expansion details in a marketing document seen by Reuters. The company is due to host an official media event later on Monday.

India is seen as a lucrative market for low-cost smartphones because many people are buying the devices for the first time. Just 10 percent of the India’s population currently owns a smartphone, brokerage Nomura said in a recent research note, and that figure is likely to double over the next four years.

Google, however, is not the only company jostling for a share of the Indian market.

There are at least 80 smartphone brands in India and analysts say the Android One phones must offer customers more than just affordability if it wants to compete with similarly priced devices made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Motorola and China’s Xiaomi.

“The initial pricing never sticks but it’ll be tough for them to compete if they don’t come down further,” said Neil Shah, research director for devices and ecosystems at Hong Kong-based technology research agency Counterpoint Research.

In June, Google had announced the launch of the Android One project, which aims to boost demand for low-end Android smartphones by vastly improving their quality.

 

Ericsson Acquires Fabrix Systems For $95M

September 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The distinctions between TV and mobile services continues to merge and in many cases that occurs in the cloud.

That’s the logic behind Ericsson’s planned $95 million acquisition of Fabrix Systems, which sells a cloud-based platform for delivering DVR (digital video recorder), video on demand and other services.

The acquisition is intended to help service providers deliver what Ericsson calls TV Anywhere, for viewing on multiple devices with high-quality and relevant content for each user. Cable operators, telecommunications carriers and other service providers are seeing rapid growth in video streaming and want to reach consumers on multiple screens. That content increasingly is hosted in cloud data centers and delivered via Internet Protocol networks.

Fabrix, which has 103 employees in the U.S. and Israel, sells an integrated platform for media storage, processing and delivery. Ericsson said the acquisition will make new services possible on Ericsson MediaFirst and Mediaroom as well as other TV platforms.

Stockholm-based Ericsson expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter. Fabrix Systems will become part of Ericsson’s Business Unit Support Solutions.

Other players usually associated with data networks are also moving into the once-specialized realm of TV. At last year’s CES, Cisco Systems introduced Videoscape Unity, a system for providing unified video services across multiple screens, and at this year’s show it unveiled Videoscape Cloud, an OpenStack-based video delivery platform that can be run on service providers’ cloud infrastructure instead of on specialized hardware.

 

 

Twitter Wading Into Online Shopping Market With ‘Buy’ Button

September 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is trying out a new way for its users to purchase digital music and other products through the social networking application, with the goal of making mobile shopping easier, the company said in a blog post.

A “small percentage” of U.S. Twitter users will soon begin to see tweets that will include a “buy” button from some of the company’s partners, group product manager Tarun Jain wrote in the blog post published Monday. The percentage of Twitter users seeing the marketing tweets will grow over time, Jain wrote.

“This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile phones convenient and easy, hopefully even fun,” Jain wrote.

Twitter’s partners in the e-commerce effort include digital marketing companies Musictoday, Gumroad, Fancy and Stripe, Jain said.

The e-commerce test will include products from several musicians, including Brad Paisley, Eminem, Keith Urban, Megadeth, Pharrell Williams and Soundgarden. Other organizations featured will including Burberry, the Home Depot, the Nature Conservancy and DonorsChoose.

 

 

Microsoft Unveils A Re-designed MSN

September 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has unveiled its complete makeover of the MSN portal that now combines easy access to personal productivity tools and content from a large number of providers.

As the company tries to revive MSN, the focus this time is also on top content from the Web instead of offering original content. For the relaunch, the company has signed up with over 1,300 publishers worldwide including The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalYomiuri, CNN and The Guardian.

A “Services Stripe” at the top of the MSN homepage gives users easy access to personal services including Outlook.com email, OneDrive, Office 365 and Skype, as well as popular third-party sites like Twitter and Facebook, according to an online preview launched by Microsoft on Sunday.

The new MSN also provides “actionable information” and content and personal productivity tools such as shopping lists, a savings calculator, a symptom checker, and a 3D body explorer. Readers will have access to content from 11 sections including sports, news, health and fitness, money, travel and video, wrote Frank Holland, corporate vice president of Microsoft Advertising, in a blog post.

The company said it has rebuilt MSN from the ground up for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. The new MSN helps people complete their key digital tasks across all of their devices, wrote Brian MacDonald, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for information and content experiences, in a blog post.

“Information and personalized settings are roamed through the cloud to keep users in the know wherever they are,” MacDonald added. Users worldwide can try out the new MSN preview.

In the coming months, Microsoft plans to release MSN apps across iOS and Android to complement its corresponding Windows and Windows Phone apps. “You only need to set your favorites once, and your preferences will be connected across MSN, Cortana, Bing and other Microsoft experiences,” MacDonald wrote.

Microsoft claims an audience of more than 437 million people across 50 countries for MSN.

MSN.com ranks number 26 among the top sites in the U.S., behind Microsoft’s own Bing site, Google’s search site, YouTube, Facebook and Yahoo’s portal, according to traffic estimates by Alexa.

 

 

NTT Experimenting With 400Gbps Optical Technology For Internet Backbone

September 9, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

NTT has successfully tested technology for optical Internet backbone connections capable of transmitting 400Gbps on a single wavelength.

Working with Fujitsu and NEC, the Japanese telecommunications giant verified the digital coherent optical transmission technology for distances of several thousand kilometers to 10,000 km. With it, a single wavelength of light can carry 400 Gbps, four times the capacity of previous systems. Each fiber can carry multiple wavelengths, and many fibers can be bundled into one cable.

The approach could more than double existing capacity to meet ever-increasing bandwidth demand, especially by heavy data users.

The technology could be used in the next generation of backbone links, which aggregate calls and data streams and send them over the high-capacity links that go across oceans and continents. The fiber in the network would stay the same, and only the equipment at either end would need to change.

While the current capacity on such links is up to 8Tbps (terabits per second) per fiber, the new technology would make a capacity of 24Tbps per fiber possible, according to NTT.

“As an example of the data size, 24 Tbps corresponds to sending information contained in 600 DVDs (4.7 GB per DVD) within a second,” an NTT spokesman wrote in an email. “The verification was done using algorithms which are ready to be implemented in CMOS circuits to show that these technologies are practically feasible.”

To compensate for distortions along the optical fiber, researchers from the consortium developed digital backward propagation signal processing with an optimized algorithm. The result of this and other research is that the amount of equipment required for transmissions over long distances can be reduced, meaning the network could consume less electricity.

“We are extremely excited to show this groundbreaking performance surpassing 100 Gbps coherent optical transmission systems,” Masahito Tomizawa, executive manager of consortium leader NTT Network Innovation Labs, wrote in an email. “This new technology maintains the stability and reliability of our current 100 Gbps solutions while at the same time dramatically improving performance.”

The consortium said it is taking steps toward commercialization of the technology on a global scale but would not say when that might happen.

 

 

Wireless Charging For PCs, Tablets Expected Next Year

September 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Wireless charging will reach PCs in 2015, and laptops will be able to recharge when placed on tables, pads or surfaces supporting power delivery, according to an Intel executive.

In other words, laptop users won’t have to carry power bricks, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s PC Client Group. Skaugen spoke during a webcast keynote Friday at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

In a few years, wireless charging will be common in PCs, much like wireless communications are today, Skaugen said, adding that users will be able to charge mobile devices and PCs at the same time.

“This is a big, big deal. In the next several years you will see hundreds of thousands of charge stations,” Skaugen said. “Intel’s desire is that wireless charging evolve from wearable to the phone to the tablet to the PC.”

Intel is developing circuitry required for wireless charging in laptops. PC makers like Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Panasonic are backing the idea, and more are expected to offer wireless charging in PCs, Skaugen said.

Intel is backing wireless technology from a standards organization called A4WP (Alliance for Wireless Power), whose magnetic resonance technology turns surfaces like tables into wireless charging stations. Intel is developing circuitry for 20 watt to 50 watt wireless charging, which won’t be enough to recharge power hungry large-screen and gaming laptops but will suffice for general-use computers.

A4WP has more than 100 members, with some prominent names among them, including Qualcomm and Samsung.

Wireless charging is part of Intel’s larger plan to free PCs of wire clutter. Intel is working on technologies to eliminate cables for keyboards, mice, monitors and external hard drives.

For example, Intel next year will ship a docking station based on WiGig wireless technology, which will be able to stream 4K images wirelessly to high-definition displays. WiGig is 10 times faster in wireless data transfers than 802.11n, and three times faster than the latest 802.11ac, according to Skaugen.

The WiGig dock could eliminate the need to plug HDMI or DisplayPort cables into laptops. The dock will provide USB 3.0-like data transfer speeds to external storage devices.

 

 

Intel’s Core M Chip Headed To 20 Windows Tablets And Hybrids

September 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Intel’s new Core M chips — which bring PC-like performance to slim design tablets — will initially be in many Windows 8.1 tablets, but no Android devices are yet on the radar.

The chips will be in five to seven detachable tablets and hybrids by year end, and the number of devices could balloon to 20 next year, said Andy Cummins, mobile platform marketing manager at Intel.

Core M chips, announced at the IFA trade show in Berlin on Friday, are the first based on the new Broadwell architecture. The processors will pave the way for a new class of thin, large-screen tablets with long battery life, and also crank up performance to run full PC applications, Intel executives said in interviews.

“It’s about getting PC-type performance in this small design,” Cummins said. “[Core M] is much more optimized for thin, fanless systems.”

Tablets with Core M could be priced as low as US$699, but the initial batch of detachable tablets introduced at IFA are priced much higher. Lenovo’s 11.6-inch ThinkPad Helix 2 starts at $999, Dell’s 13.3-inch Latitude 13 7000 starts at $1,199, and Hewlett-Packard’s 13.3-inch Envy X2 starts at $1,049.99. The products are expected to ship in September or October.

Core M was also shown in paper-thin prototype tablets running Windows and Android at the Computex trade show in June. PC makers have not expressed interest in building Android tablets with Core M, but the OS can be adapted for the chips, Cummins said.

The dual-core chips draw as little as 4.5 watts, making it the lowest-power Core processor ever made by Intel. The clock speeds start at 800MHz when running in tablet mode, and scales up to 2.6GHz when running PC applications.

The power and performance characteristics make Core M relevant primarily for tablets. The chips are not designed for use in full-fledged PCs, Cummins said.

“If you are interested in the highest-performing parts, Core M probably isn’t the exact right choice. But if you are interested in that mix of tablet form factor, detachable/superthin form factor, this is where the Core M comes into play,” Cummins said.

For full-fledged laptops, users could opt for the upcoming fifth-generation Core processor, also based on Broadwell, Cummins said. Those chips are faster and will draw 15 watts of power or more, and be in laptops and desktops early next year.

New features in Core M curbed power consumption, and Intel is claiming performance gains compared to chips based on the older Haswell architecture. Tablets could offer around two more hours of battery life with Core M.

 

 

Facebook Wants The Whole World On The Internet

September 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is prepared to invest billions of dollars to reach its goal of bringing the Internet to everyone on the planet, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview on Friday.

“What we really care about is connecting everyone in the world,” Zuckerberg said at an event in Mexico City hosted by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

“Even if it means that Facebook has to spend billions of dollars over the next decade making this happen, I believe that over the long term its gonna be a good thing for us and for the world.”

Around 3 billion people will have access to the Internet by the end of 2014, according to International Telecommunications Union (ITU) statistics. Almost half that, 1.3 billion people, use Facebook.

Facebook, the world’s largest social networking company, launched its Internet.org project last year to connect billions of people without Internet access in places such as Africa and Asia by working with phone operators.

“I believe that … when everyone is on the Internet all of our businesses and economies will be better,” Zuckerberg said.

 

 

Lenovo Adds More Features To It’s $199 Tablet

September 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Lenovo has decided to upgrade the features in low-cost Android tablets with the Tab S8 tablet, which will start selling this month for $199.

The tablet, which runs on Google’s Android 4.4 OS, has Intel’s quad-core Atom chip, code-named Bay Trail. The chip is capable of running PC-class applications and rendering high-definition video.

The 8-inch S8 offers 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution, which is also on Google’s 7-inch Nexus 7. The S8 is priced lower than the Nexus 7, which sells for $229.

The Tab S8 is 7.87 millimeters thick, weighs 294 grams, and runs for seven hours on a single battery charge. It has a 1.6-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel back camera. Other features include 16GB of storage, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. LTE is optional.

The Tab S8 will ship in multiple countries. Most of Lenovo’s tablets worldwide with screen sizes under 10 inches run on Android.

Lenovo also announced its largest gaming laptop. The Y70 Touch has a 17.3-inch touchscreen, and can be configured with Intel’s Core i7 processors and Nvidia’s GTX-860M graphics card. It is 25.9 millimeters thick and is priced starting at $1,299. It will begin shipping next month.

The company also announced Erazer X315 gaming desktop with Advanced Micro Devices processors code-named Kaveri. It can be configured with up to 32GB of DDR3 DRAM and 4TB of hard drive storage or 2TB of hybrid solid-state/hard drive storage. It will ship in November in the U.S. with prices starting at $599.

The products were announced ahead of the IFA trade show in Berlin. Lenovo is holding a press conference at IFA where it is expected to announce more products.

 

 

Will Activision Buy Take-Two?

September 4, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Take-Two’s share price rose nearly five per cent to 23.66 last week as rumours circulated that the publisher may be the target of a potential takeover by Activision.

Mike Hickey, an equity researcher for the Benchmark Company, penned a note which fuelled the trading, claiming that the two companies were engaged on an “emerging romance”.

“For Activision, acquiring Take-Two Interactive would be a no-brainer, in our view, circling some of the strongest development talent and owned IP in the world, within a company that has nearly $1 billion in cash and trades at a comparably lower multiple,” Hickey’s report reads. “With the acquisition of Take-Two Interactive, Activision would have arguably the three strongest development studios in the world with Rockstar Games, Bungie and Blizzard.”

By acquiring Take Two’s portfolio, Hickey believes that Activision could offer a rolling catalogue of massively high-profile AAA console titles, capitalising massively on the tremendous performance of the current generation of new machines.

Mike Hickey, Equity Researcher, The Benchmark Company LLC

“While Activision has historically managed their performance profile around franchises they can annualize, their $500 million investment in Bungie seems to be a departure from that philosophy, as we suspect the venture will prove difficult to annualize. The opportunity for Activision to intelligently layer future releases from Rockstar, Bungie and Blizzard, could in-part enable Activision to annualize future performance from what today is arguably a less linear performance profile.

“We would also note that Activision’s mega performance foundation with World of Warcraft is trapped within a life cycle decline, their Skylanders franchise will face considerable pressure from Disney and Call of Duty is vulnerable to franchise fatigue from consistent annual iterations. Therefore, acquiring GTA, Red Dead, Borderlands, NBA 2K, BioShock… etc. Along with the potential performance opportunity from a new MMO and movie adoption of GTA from Rockstar Games… Acquiring Take-Two Interactive would seem like a very smart move for Activision.”

Hickey doesn’t see the potential deal being motivated entirely by a desire for direct growth, however. He points to shared cinematic ambitions as the key factor in any merger. Activision has close ties to Hollywood, and its attention, as evinced by the recruitment of superstar Kevin Spacey for the latest Call of Duty title. Take Two is rumoured, not for the first time, to be shopping around for a potential film adaptation of Grand Theft Auto, something which Activision’s capital and connections could make a great deal easier.

Piers Harding-Rolls, Director, Head of Games, IHS

“We suspect that Activision’s strategic alignment into the movie business, could in-part be related to an emerging romance wrinkle between the two companies and the Houser’s, leading toward a possible Take-Two acquisition,” Hickey continues.

Some other analysts are more cautious, however. Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at major analyst IHS, doesn’t necessarily see the move making sense for the larger company.

“I would file this rumour under unlikely at this point,” he told GamesIndustry.biz in an exclusive statement. “Activision’s MO is relatively anti-risk and it has a calculated long-term growth strategy based on establishing and developing billion dollar franchises that unlock large amounts of value for the company. Activision is well placed to deliver that once again following the Skylanders success with Destiny and I don’t believe acquiring Take Two and its stable of IP fits with this strategy.

“Having said that, Activision is likely to be looking for further growth opportunities – it has yet to build a substantial games apps business and a number of its franchises are longer in the tooth or more competitively challenged than before. As such, I think we can expect Activision to be more rigorously examining adjacent markets – the movie opportunity makes sense in this context – as well as planning for the development of new franchises within its portfolio.”

True or not, the note was enough to light a fire under the imaginations of traders. Take Two’s stock actually reached a six year high on July 28, at 23.67, but dropped soon after. Friday’s news pushed it up 4.67 per cent, with Activision’s stock also rising 0.81 per cent to 23.54.

Were Kotick and Hirshberg to take the plunge, they’d have to put a more convincing offer on the table than EA managed in 2008, the last time a public offer was made for Take Two. Then, a deal worth $2 billion wasn’t enough to convince Take Two shareholders, who felt that the company was being undervalued, rejecting the offer.

Courtesy-GI.biz