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Lenovo Return To Profit, Despite Losses In Mobile Business

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

China’s Lenovo Group Ltd, the world’s largest personal computer (PC) manufacturer, has returned to profitability, but said rising component prices may put pressure on its bottom line this year as supply shortages extend to batteries.

Profit reached $535 million in the year to March on revenue that fell 4 percent, just missing analyst estimates. The news sent Lenovo shares up as much as 6 percent in Hong Kong trade.

The result comes as Lenovo navigates a PC market that has shrunk markedly since the advent of tablet computers. According to researcher Gartner, global PC shipments fell for the 10th consecutive quarter in January-March, dipping below 63 million units for the first time since 2007.

Lenovo’s annual shipments fell 1 percent versus a market decline of 3 percent, with its share rising 0.4 percentage point to a record 21.4 percent. Revenue in its PC and smart devices unit – which makes up 70 percent of the total – fell 2 percent.

The company blamed the declines on transition in its smartphone and data center businesses, as well as on a difficult macro environment and component supply constraints.

Memory shortage is likely to continue this year, particularly solid-state drives (SSD), pushing up parts costs, said Corporate President and Chief Executive Officer Gianfranco Lanci at an earnings briefing.

“We are starting to see shortage in batteries,” Lanci added. “That is mainly because of cars consuming many more batteries than before.”

Lanci said it could take a year for battery suppliers to catch up with demand and for prices to normalize, having risen by a single digit percent so far this year.

Lenovo’s mobile business, which accounts for 18 percent of revenue, booked a loss which widened somewhat to $566 million, though the firm said it was enjoying strong growth in Latin America and Western Europe.

T-Mobile Offers To Pay For Your Verzion iPhone, Google Pixel Device

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile has upped the ante regarding Verizon Wireless customers.

The company announced that it will cover the payments left on your Apple iPhone or Google Pixel if you bring it over from Verizon. Since they work equally well on both networks, the hope is that customers will just keep their phones when using T-Mobile service. The offer is a limited promotion that starts on May 31.

It’s the latest push by T-Mobile to extend its lead over rivals by getting you to make the jump. The competition has heated up with every carrier offering an unlimited plan, but T-Mobile has continually shaken things up with new offers. The carrier teased that this was the first of three announcements as it rolls into summer.

Initially, you will still have to pay off the balance of what you owe on the phone before you switch. After 15 days on T-Mobile’s service, the carrier will send you a digital prepaid MasterCard for that same value. If you have an early termination fee, T-Mobile said it will cover that as well. To ward off scammers, T-Mobile will only accept Verizon customers who have an established account for at least 60 days.

Families of up to five will be able to take advantage of this deal.

“We want all phones on all carriers to have complete freedom,” said Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert. “We think it’s the start of a trend.”

The offer only works with iPhones and Pixels. Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said he is working with other manufacturers to ensure their phones are easily switchable, “but we’re not there yet.”

AT&T and Sprint customers aren’t completely left out. T-Mobile will likewise cover the cost of your phone if you switch, but you’ll have to buy a new device on T-Mobile. Sievert said that it takes a longer time to port a phone from those two carriers over to T-Mobile, so there isn’t an instant switch like with Verizon devices. Those customers will be able to sell that phone or use it for another account once it’s paid off. T-Mobile had previously required that customers trade in that device.

Apple And Nokia Resolve Patent Dispute, Sees Future Collaboration

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has resolved a patent fight with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia and agreed to purchase more of its network products and services.

The deal means Nokia will get bigger royalties from Apple for using its mobile phone patents, helping offset the impact of waning demand for its mobile network hardware.

Such legal battles are common in the industry but can drag on for years and analysts had not been expecting such a quick resolution to the dispute that started in December.

Under the deal announced in a joint statement from the companies on Tuesday, Nokia will also supply network infrastructure products to Apple, and Apple will resume sales of Nokia’s digital health products in retail and online stores and look at further collaboration in health.

Digital health is one of the areas Nokia is targeting as it tries to develop new businesses to offset the industry-wide slump in demand for network equipment. Last year, Nokia bought France’s Withings S.A., a small firm with products such as activity trackers and baby monitors built on digital platforms.

“There could emerge big future value from this as Apple could become an important distribution channel,” said Handelsbanken analyst Daniel Djurberg, who has an “accumulate” recommendation for Nokia shares.

“I have not given any value so far for Nokia’s digital health business, but might apply an option value to it.”

Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri told the company’s annual general meeting later on Tuesday that the deal would help expand network sales beyond telecom operators to global internet and technology giants.

“(The deal) involves a business collaboration … in particular in areas of IP and optical equipment, which is quite key to webscale players when they build their data centers,” he said. “It’s a good deal, a multi-year licensing deal, and I love it that it has an industrial deal and aspect to it.”

Under the patent license agreement, Nokia will receive a “significant” upfront cash payment and additional revenues from Apple starting from the current quarter. The companies did not give further details but analysts said the revenue was likely to be far higher than a previous deal.

Inge Heydorn, fund manager at Sentat Asset Management, said it was a smart move to collaborate on digital health products.

“It’s interesting for Nokia in a five- to 10-year perspective since I think it will be hard to be profitable within mobile infrastructure,” said Heydorn, whose firm does not hold any shares in Nokia.

Microsoft To Acquire Cyber Security Firm Hexadite

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has made a deal to purchase cyber security firm Hexadite for $100 million, according to Israeli financial news website Calcalist.

Hexadite, headquartered in Boston with its research and development center in Israel, provides technology to automate responses to cyber attacks that it says increases productivity and reduces costs for businesses.

Microsoft officials declined to comment. Officials at Hexadite could not immediately be reach for comment.

Investors in Hexadite include Hewlett Packard Ventures, and venture capital firms TenEleven and YL Ventures.

Microsoft said in January it plans to continue to invest more than $1 billion annually on cyber security research and development in the coming years. Israel has already benefited from that investment.

Apple Update Now Allows Mac Users To Install Windows 10 Creators Version

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple has updated macOS Sierra to version 10.12.5 with more than three dozen security patches, and a change that allows users install Microsoft’s latest version of Windows 10 on their Macs.

Sierra 10.12.5 “adds support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp,” the update’s brief release notes read. Creators Update was the name Microsoft assigned to Windows 10 1703, the upgrade issued last month.

Boot Camp, which is baked into macOS, lets Mac owners run Windows on their machines. A Windows license is required. Boot Camp, while not virtualization software like VMware’s Fusion or Parallels International’s Parallels Desktop, serves the same purpose: Running Windows applications, including custom or mission-critical corporate software, on a Mac personal computer.

Previously, Mac users were forced onto a circuitous road to put Windows 10 Creators Update into Boot Camp. According to a Microsoft support document published before the upgrade was released, Mac owners first had to install an .iso of 2016’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka 1607, to Boot Camp. Once 1607 was in place, they could then upgrade Windows 10 to 1703 from within Boot Camp.

Monday’s macOS update voids that workaround: Mac owners may instead directly install a disk image — in .iso format — of Windows 10 1703 into Boot Camp.

Sierra 10.12.5 also patched 37 vulnerabilities in macOS. Apple also released security updates for Sierra’s two predecessors, 2015’s macOS El Capitan and 2014’s macOS Yosemite.

India Woos Apple Expansion, Offers Tax Concessions

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

India has proposed letting Apple Inc import mobile handset components intended for use in local manufacturing tax free, a top government official said.

The tax concessions will be subject to the condition of increasing local value addition over a period of time.

Apple Inc wants to expand its contract manufacturer’s facility in the southern Indian tech hub of Bengaluru, a federal minister said , as the iPhone maker seeks a bigger share in one of the world’s biggest smartphone markets.

Cupertino, California-based Apple last week started making iPhone SE at its Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron’s plant in Bengaluru..

Apple, which sold over 50 million iPhones in the March quarter, down 1 percent year-on-year, is looking for new markets as its sales in China have weakened.

Among a set of tax concessions, Apple had initially sought a 15-years tax holiday for all components that it would import for setting up a manufacturing facility in India.

A panel of ministries rejected that demand and has offered a phased program to increase the share of local production in the manufacturing, Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary at the Ministry of Electronics and IT said.

“We have offered them tax exemptions on those components which could not be manufactured in India,” Sundararajan told Reuters, adding that local manufacturing component would have to be increased gradually.

Apple has agreed to increase local share in production over a period of time, but there was a difference between the plans of the two sides, she said.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

India wants Apple to raise value addition share in phases of 3,5,7 and 10 years as the local capacity builds up, part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to boost manufacturing.

Industry estimates the phased manufacturing program could increase local value addition in mobile phones manufacturing to 40-50 percent in the next three years.

Earlier, Ravi Shankar Prasad, the federal minister for Electronics and IT said government officials were in touch with Apple and other mobile phone manufacturers about expanding facilities and setting up new plants.

“It will be a little early to say that India and Apple have agreed on the common ground,” said the official, adding India was ready to work out a roadmap to encourage manufacturing.

Industry estimates total value of mobile phones produced in India touched near 900 billion Indian rupees ($13.90 billion) compared with 540 billion rupees in the previous year.

“We are waiting for Apple to come back,” said Sundararajan.

Is Nintendo’s Zelda Going Mobile?

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Zelda will be the next Nintendo IP to get the mobile treatment, according to sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal, with the new title expected to follow the Animal Crossing later this year.

The WSJ’s sources indicated that Animal Crossing is expected to launch in the second half of calendar 2017, with The Legend of Zelda to follow. However, the sources said that the order of the releases could still change, with Zelda arriving first.

With games based on Fire Emblem and Super Mario Bros. already released and Animal Crossing on the way, a version of Zelda was arguably inevitable. However, the success of Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch has bolstered public interest in the IP; in its recent financial results, Nintendo said that Breath of the Wild had sold 2.76 million units on Switch by March 31, despite the console only selling 2.74 million units.

One crucial detail that remains unclear is how the Zelda mobile game will be sold. Nintendo has talked openly about its reluctance to implement a traditional free-to-play model with its iconic franchises, opting for a free-to-try approach with Super Mario Run that ultimately carried a $10 in-app purchase to unlock the full game.

However, in March this year Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said the company was disappointed with the revenue earned from Super Mario Run. Fire Emblem Heroes uses a more typical version of the free-to-play model, but a Nintendo representative described it as “an outlier.”

“We honestly prefer the Super Mario Run model,” the company said. Whether that holds true for Zelda on mobile remains to be seen.

Nintendo and DeNA, which is involved with the game’s development, both resisted the WSJ’s request for comment.

Courtesy-Fud

Angry Birds Movie To Get A Sequel, Says Rovio Entertainment

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Finnish mobile games and animation studio Rovio Entertainment approved plans to proceed with a sequel to its Angry Birds movie, it said on Monday, aiming for release in September 2019.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 will be produced with Columbia Pictures and distributed by Sony Pictures, Rovio said.

The first Angry Birds movie, released last year, earned about $350 million at the box office and gave a boost to Rovio’s game sales, helping the company to swing to an annual profit after years of falling earnings, job cuts and divestments.

Rovio said the new movie will be directed by Thurop Van Orman, the creator of animated TV series “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack”.

The original Angry Birds game — in which smartphone players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs — became a phenomenon in 2009, but the franchise faltered in the following years amid tough competition.

Alongside the movie plan, Rovio is looking to reduce its dependence on Angry Birds — earlier this month it launched “Battle Bay”, the firm’s first multiplayer game which does not carry the Angry Birds name.

Square Enix Is Giving IO Interactive The Boot

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Square Enix is dropping IO Interactive, the Danish studio behind the long-running Hitman franchise.

In a statement released today, the Japanese publisher said the decision was part of a strategy to “focus our resources and energies on key franchises and studios.”

The withdrawal was in effect as of the end of the last financial year, on March 31, 2017, and resulted in a ¥4.9 billion ($43 million) extraordinary loss on the company’s balance sheet.

Square Enix has already started discussion with potential new investors, the company said. “Whilst there can be no guarantees that the negotiations will be concluded successfully, they are being explored since this is in the best interests of our shareholders, the studio and the industry as a whole.”

IO Interactive was acquired by Eidos in 2003, just before it launched Hitman: Contracts, the third game in what was already its signature franchise. Eidos was acquired by Square Enix in 2009, and it has launched four games in the time since: Mini Ninjas, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, Hitman: Absolution, and Hitman, last year’s episodic take on its most celebrated IP.

The bold new structure implemented in Hitman saw the game’s missions being separately on digital platforms, with various live events and challenges taking place between the release of each one. Square Enix originally planned to give the entire series a boxed retail release, but that never materialised. It has never disclosed official numbers regarding the sales figures for Hitman, either as a series or for individual episodes.

However, the series’ ámbition was widely appreciated within the games press – it was named 11th best game of 2016 by Eurogamer, for example, and was Giant Bomb’s overall Game of the Year. When we talked to IO studio head Hannes Seifert last year, he described the pride his team felt at the “new feeling” the game created, and made it clear that plans for Hitman extended far beyond a single season of epsiodes.

“When we say an ever expanding world of assassination, it means we don’t have to take everything that’s out there, throw it away and make a new game,” he said. “We can actually build on that. Just imagine after two or three seasons, you enter at that point in time, the amount of content will just blow your mind. That’s where we want to be.”

Seifert stepped down as IO’s studio head in February this year. He was replaced by Hakan Abrak, IO’s former studio production director.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will HTC Ever Return To Profitability

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

HTC, the original equipment manufacturer that designs its own mobile devices and Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, has announced net losses of $66.12 million for the first quarter of 2017. The company’s latest financials are the latest in a series – it’s had eight consecutive losses over the past two years.

Like many smartphone and VR headset manufacturing companies, HTC had hoped that 2017 would turn out to be a much better year than 2016. The Taiwanese company’s earnings report for Q1 2017 gives mixed results this quarter. Revenues were $NT14.5 billion ($480.2 million), which is down 33 percent from the NT$22.2 billion ($720.7 million) it posted in Q4 2016. However, losses of NT$2 billion ($66.2 million) aren’t as bad as the NT$3.09 billion ($102.4 million) it posted the previous quarter, or about 55 percent. These are also up from NT$2.61 billion ($86.5 million) in the previous year.

HTC plans to streamline operations, reduce operating losses

In Q1 2017, HTC says it continued to realign its organizational structure to help reduce overhead expenses by nearly 20 percent. This is similar to what Sprint has been doing since October 2015, when it announced a $2.5 billion cost cutting plan to streamline company operations. HTC’s gross margins climbed to 16.3 percent versus 10.45 percent in Q4 2016, and 9.36 percent year-over-year.

The company worked to lower its operating costs to $NT12.2 billion ($403 million) from NT$13.4 billion ($444.9 million) a year earlier. Given that the company has not turned a profit in over a year, the plan is to continue lowering operating costs to reduce its operating losses. HTC launched two smartphones in the first quarter – the HTC U Ultra and the HTC U Play – but only the first device is available in the US. Then there was a report in February stating the company plans to exit the entry-level smartphone business in 2017 as it begins to focus on “high-margin” and “high-profit” devices. The company has been notorious for announcing products at its own events that aren’t necessarily in line with usual CES and MWC unveils from manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Huawei, Motorola and others. While this strategy can work well in some circumstances, it only works when people are made aware of the announcements.

Opinion: HTC U 11, Pixel shipments may return profitability for second half of 2017

The company now wants to introduce an additional four to five high margin smartphone devices over the course of the next year, starting with the long-awaited HTC U 11 that will be announced on May 16th. The device’s flagship feature, Sense Touch, is a new concept that allows using the side frame as an input method. However, it is unclear whether the HTC U 11 will be available in the second or third quarter, and whether it will be available internationally.

Within six weeks of the HTC U Ultra’s release in the US, the company slashed its price from $749 down to $599 after reviewing outlets had a hard time recommending the device over similar Android Nougat counterparts. This move did not speak well of the device’s sales, though it has been able to make some profit from Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL sales since their October debut from much higher consumer demand. Google managed to sell an estimated 552,000 units before the end of 2016, and FierceWireless reported those devices accounting for 9.5 percent of smartphone sales at Verizon in January.

Google is not expected to announce refreshed Pixel devices until later this fall, but those sales will certainly aide HTC’s path to becoming a premium-focused smartphone brand and hopefully reduce its operating losses.

Courtesy-Fud

Companies Look To Kidnap Insurance Policies To Cover Ransomware Attacks

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Companies lacking cyber insurance are beginning to rely on policies covering kidnap, ransom and extortion in the world’s political hotspots to recoup losses caused by ransomware viruses such as “WannaCry”, insurers say.

Cyber insurance can be expensive to buy and is not widely used outside the United States, with one insurer previously describing the cost as $100,000 for $10 million in data breach insurance.

Some companies do not even consider it because they do not think they are targets.

The kidnap policies, known as K&R coverage, are typically used by multinational companies looking to protect their staff in areas where violence related to oil and mining operations is common, such as parts of Africa and Latin America.

Companies could also tap them to cover losses following the WannaCry attack, which used malicious software, known as ransomware, to lock up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries, and demand payments to free them up.

Pay-outs on K&R for ransomware attacks may be lower and the policies less suitable than those offered by traditional cyber insurance, insurers say.

“There will be some creative forensic lawyers who will be looking at policies,” said Patrick Gage, chief underwriting officer at CNA Hardy, a specialist commercial insurer, in London.

He added, however, that given that K&R policies are geared towards a threat to lives, “our absolute preference is that people buy specific cover, rather than relying on insurance coverage that is not specific”.

American International Group Inc, Hiscox Ltd and the Travelers Companies Inc have been receiving ransomware claims from some customers with K&R policies as ransomware attacks become more common, the companies said.

The insurers declined to comment on total claims, citing confidentiality and client security concerns.

“We are seeing claims (over the past 18 months) but not a huge uptick,” a Hiscox spokeswoman said. “These are within expectations and entirely manageable.”

She declined to say whether the firm had seen any such claims from the WannaCry attacks though Tom Harvey, an expert in cyber risk management at catastrophe modeling firm RMS, said “insurers with kidnap and ransom books will want to look closely at their policy wordings to see whether they are exposed.”

A sharp rise in ransomware attacks in the past 18 months has driven companies to use K&R policies to cover some of their damages if they do not have direct cyber coverage or cannot meet initial cyber policy deductible costs, insurers said.

Symantec Corp, a cyber security firm based in Mountain View in California, observed over 460,000 ransomware attempts in 2016, up 36 percent from 2015, the company said. The average payment demand ballooned from $294 to $1,077, a 266 percent increase.

But as the threat mounts, K&R insurers are at risk from steeper claims than they had anticipated. They are responding by making changes to their policies, which were not designed around ransomware, insurance brokers said.

Ford To Use Over-the-air Updates For Vehicle Software

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co announced that it would enter into the growing arena of “over-the-air” software updates, adding Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to its Sync 3-equipped 2016 vehicles for the first time via a wireless software update.

The latest upgrade to Sync 3, Ford’s interactive touch-screen system, will be accomplished through an over-the-air (OTA) update using Wi-Fi, not unlike how new software gets uploaded to smartphones by manufacturers.

After Tesla Inc’s early lead in 2015 introducing OTAs, traditional automakers are slowly beginning to embrace the new technology, within limits. Concerns about security and resistance from dealers worried about losing service revenue have hampered its adoption.

Thus far, established automakers have not used OTAs for safety systems, only for non-critical systems like infotainment.

Customers can also get the update via the traditional means of visiting their dealer or using a USB drive, Ford said.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are operating systems from Alphabet’s Google and Apple Inc that allow drivers to connect their smartphones to their vehicles’ dashboard.

Ford’s first use of OTAs comes about two months after it said it would hire 400 engineers to work on connectivity, mostly from Blackberry Ltd’s shuttered phone handset business. Blackberry QNX powers Ford’s Sync 3 system.

Besides being more convenient for customers, OTAs can bring automakers cost savings, as a substantial percentage of warranty repair issues and recalls can be corrected through OTAs.

 

Is Intel Worried About McAfee

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel is fuming that MGT Capital Investments went ahead with the announcement of the “John McAfee Privacy Phone” when it previously said that it did not plan to launch products and services under the McAfee mark.

For those who came in late MGT Capital Investments is owned by John McAfee who sold the trademark and which ended up in the claws of Intel. Intel, which once claimed to own the letter i, is now insisting that McAfee can’t use his name on products.

The federal court had earlier refused John McAfee and MGT Capital a preliminary injunction until the resolution of the dispute on Intel’s transfer of marks and related assets containing the word McAfee as part of the spin-out.

MGT announced last month a privacy phone that will be “as hack proof as humanly possible,” with features such as a bank of switches on the back cover that will allow the user to physically disconnect the battery, the antennas for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and geolocation, the camera and microphone, and would also not allow the phone to connect to a Stingray or any other IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) catcher device.

McAfee wants his phone in the shops by August and has referred to the phone largely as the Privacy Phone.

But in a sentence lower down in the statement on its website it refers to “the John McAfee privacy phone,” which appears to have raised Intel’s concerns about the naming of the phone. John McAfee also referred to “The John McAfee Privacy Phone, by MGT,” in a tweet last month.

Lawyers for Intel and McAfee have also objected to MGT asking for the depositions of McAfee’s CEO, Christopher Young, and Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, “even though Plaintiffs can point to no relevant, unique information that these chief executives possess.”

The companies have moaned that MGT and John McAfee have not produced required documents for discovery and asked for a conference in connection with a motion for a protective order to prevent the “harassing depositions” of the chief executives and another motion to compel MGT and John McAfee to “complete their document production and provide substantive responses to interrogatories about their name change and planned products and services.”

John McAfee has said he had entered in 1991 into an agreement with McAfee Associates, a predecessor to McAfee Inc., to transfer certain assets to it in exchange for stock and a promissory note.

But the security expert has told the court that at no point in the agreement had he assigned the rights to his personal name through an assignment of trademark or otherwise, or agreed to restrict his right to do business using his own name. Like most things involving John McAfee this will run and run and give great copy.

Courtesy-Fud

Qualcomm Previews Wireless Charging For Electric Vehicles

May 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm Inc revealed that it had demonstrated how electric vehicles could be charged wirelessly while driving, a technology some believe will help accelerate the adoption of self-driving cars.

The smartphone chipmaker said a so-called “dynamic charging” test took place on a test track in Versailles, France. It used two Renault Kangoo vehicles driving over embedded pads in the road that transferred a charge to the cars’ batteries at up to 20 kilowatts at highway speeds.

Experts believe that self-driving cars of tomorrow will be electric and require a way to charge themselves without human intervention.

Wireless charging is an important area of research for carmakers, their suppliers and start-ups like xChargepoint, WiTricity and HEVO Power.

Qualcomm, which supplies chips to Android phone makers and Apple Inc, is on track to become the leading supplier to the fast-growing automotive chips market given its pending $38 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductors.

European Union regulators are to rule by June 9 on the deal, which would be the semiconductor industry’s biggest to date.

Electric vehicle charging is one area where Qualcomm could grow as it strives to reduce its dependence on a cooling smartphone market.

Qualcomm Chief Executive Steven Mollenkopf has called automotive technology and Internet of Things – in which household objects like cars and refrigerators communicate – a “tremendous opportunity” for the company.

EU Slaps Big Fine On Facebook Over WhatsApp Purchase

May 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

European Union antitrust regulators levied a fine of 110 million euros ($122 million) against Facebook on Thursday for providing misleading information during a vetting of its deal to acquire messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.

Calling it a “proportionate and deterrent fine”, the European Commission, which acts as the EU’s competition watchdog, said Facebook had said it could not automatically match user accounts on its namesake platform and WhatsApp but two years later launched a service that did exactly that.

“The Commission has found that, contrary to Facebook’s statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users’ identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility,” the Commission said.

Facebook said in a statement the errors made in its 2014 filings were not intentional and that the Commission had confirmed they had not affected the outcome of the merger review.

“Today’s announcement brings this matter to a close,” Facebook said.

The fine would not reverse the Commission’s decision to clear the purchase of WhatsApp and was unrelated to separate investigations into data protection issues, it added.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Facebook was set to be fined.

The Commission could have fined Facebook up to 1 percent of its turnover – which would have been $276 million based on 2016 results – but said that Facebook had cooperated with the proceedings and acknowledged its infringement.

The EU sanction comes after Facebook received a separate 150,000-euro fine on Tuesday by a French data watchdog for failing to prevent its users’ data being accessed by advertisers.

Last week the Italian antitrust authorities levied a 3 million-euro fine on WhatsApp for allegedly obliging users to agree to share their personal data with Facebook.

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