Internet radio pioneer Pandora reached a major milestone this week, announcing Tuesday that it has surpassed 200 million registered users. At just under 2 years since reaching 100 million users, the achievement came at an accelerated pace compared to the company's first 100 million users, which took six years to amass. In a blog post, Pandora founder Tim Westergren applauded the milestone. In addition to signing up more than 200 million users, Pandora is also streaming songs at an impressive rate, delivering more than 1.5 billion hours of music in March alone. Those songs were from more than 100,000 different artists and over a million unique songs were streamed.
Google revealed on Tuesday the next community to be given access to its ultra-fast Fiber Internet service, prompting shudders of anticipation in the heart of Texas. Following Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, Austin will be the third US city to enjoy Google's high-speed network, which the tech giant says delivers speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, or about 100 times faster than the average Internet speed across the country. With the network in place, Google will also offer Fiber TV, an all-HD television service that allows users to record as many as eight shows at a time and store 500 hours of programming online. Users can then access the video from the cloud on any device including computers, tablets and smartphones.
Microsoft Inc announced on Tuesday that sales of its Windows 8 operating system hit 40 million this week, matching the initial success of its predecessor, Windows 7. The revamped Windows product was launched October 26th, just prior to the beginning of the all-important holiday shopping period, and the Redmond, Washington based tech giant said it sold its 40 millionth license for the software earlier this week. Perhaps even better news for Microsoft, upgrades to Windows 8 from earlier versions are being sold faster than with any previous version. Of course, that's not all that surprising, given Microsoft's promotional offer giving Windows XP, Vista or 7 users a chance to upgrade for just $40. That promotion runs through January 31st, and applies to online upgrades only.
Tech giant Microsoft will be searching for a new heir apparent for CEO Steve Ballmer after Steven Sinofsky, head of the company's Windows unit, stepped down on Tuesday after 23 years with the company. Sinofsky had long been considered the obvious choice to replace Ballmer to run the Redmond, Washington-based firm. Neither Sinofsky nor a Microsoft spokesman offered an explanation for the abrupt departure, but an anonymous source described the decision as “mutual,” adding that Sinofsky won't likely be taking a position with another company any time soon.
Apple's smartphone market dominating iPhone has shown the first chink in its armor, as its sales total was outpaced in the third quarter by Samsung's Galaxy S III, according to a research from a data tracking firm called Strategy Analytics. According to the report, Samsung moved a whopping 18 million Galaxy S III units between July and September, surpassing Apple's total of 16.2 million iPhone 4S units. Combined, the two phones accounted for over 10 percent of the entire smartphone market for the period. The Galaxy S III, which hit the market in May, is equipped with the capability of accessing 4G networks, the main deficiency cited for the iPhone 4S. The Galaxy also features a longer-lasting battery and a larger screen than the 4S, prompting a number of consumer electronics reviewers to rate it the best on the market.
In an effort to cut costs and to stop the bleeding from a streak of declining earnings, Zynga has closed their office in Boston and trimmed 5% of its workforce. The gaming giant may also close locations in Japan and the UK if business continues to worsen. These are the first layoffs for the San Francisco-based company, who employs over 3000 people.
Zynga Chief Exec Mark Pincus stated in a published memo that the company will make 'significant cuts' and will ultimatley cancel up to thirteen game titles.
"This is the most painful part of an overall cost reduction plan that also includes significant cuts in spending on data hosting, advertising and outside services, primarily contractors," Pincus added.
Zynga admitted this month that the acquisition of gaming studio OMGPOP, purchased in March for $180 million, failed miserably, leading to a $90 million writedown.
On the upside, Zynga still has five out of the top ten most popular games on Facebook and accounted for 7% of Facebook's total revenue. The downside is the numbers have dropped 10% when compared to the 2Q and 12% when compared to the 3Q of 2011. After going public, in December 2011, shares debuted at $10 per share, peaking at nearly $16 per share. Since then shares have tanked, losing more than 80% of its value.
Apple Loses Appeal over Samsung Tablet
Apple's UK appeal, over whether Samsung copied tablet designs from Apple, has been denied. One of the reason given was that Samsung products were 'not as cool' as Apple's. Seriously. The two tech giants have been embattled worldwide over several patents for smartphones and tablets. The UK court acknowledged similarities but ultimately decided that Samsung did not infringe Apple's designs.
S. Korea's Samsung released a statement saying they continue “to believe that Apple was not the first to design a tablet with a rectangular shape and rounded corners.”
Samsung also referred to Apple's claims as 'excessive' and that they could limit innovation, "Should Apple continue to make excessive legal claims in other countries based on such generic designs, innovation in the industry could be harmed and consumer choice unduly limited,” the company said.
Apple could still appeal to the Supreme Court but there has been no indication that they will do so.
According to a report issued Tuesday by McAfee, cybercrime is on the rise as more than 8 million new types of malware were found in the second quarter, a 23 percent increase from the first three months of the year. The company's quarterly “Threats Report” showed that there are now more than 90 million viruses, trojans and other types of malware wreaking havoc across the web. Computers running Microsoft's Windows platform are still the most at risk of being targeted, but Apple's Macintosh PCs have also come under fire, as have tablet computers and smartphones running various operating systems.
Despite having already taken a number of pre-orders for its Nexus Q, tech titan Google announced on Wednesday it was delaying shipment the media streaming device to make improvements based on feedback from a beta testers requesting more functionality. Industry writers who got their hands on the Q were not kind in their initial assessments, deriding the device's price tag, limited functionality and compatibility with only Android devices.
New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has begun the likely difficult task of returning the former search giant to a state of health. Mayer's first order of business, ironically, looks a little like turning Yahoo into Google, in an attempt to lure more talent to the Sunnyvale, California tech power. Mayer has instituted a new, weekly all-hands-on-deck meeting for Yahoo staff and has ordered the company's campus cafe, URLs, to stop charging for food, a move that many Silicon Valley companies, not just Google, have done. Even Facebook and Twiiter offer free meals for staffers.