FitBit Has A Surprising And High Profile New Fan

FItBit’s range of smart fitness products has catapulted the company onto bigger and better avenues over the last year or so, the new breed of small, light yet powerful wearable pieces of tech has captured the imagination. It now looks as if the company has another fan that is rather more powerful than your average consumer.

That consumer in question is 44th US president and a fan of tech Mr Barrack Obama who was seen sporting what looks to be a FitBit Surge while being interviewed by comic legend Jerry Seinfeld. Below is a snap that was taken of Mr Obama wearing the device, it seems the president has been looking forward to test driving the watch since last year. There has also been a humorous take concerning Mr Obama’s preference for FitBit considering both Apple and Samsung smart watches have a recording function built-in which might be slightly dodgy for the president.

According to research that was conducted by IDC, FitBit is the world’s highest selling wearable device and leads Apple. It conveys the paradox that many government officials find themselves in, on one hand they attempt to clamp down and pursue tech companies over surveillance and various laws, yet they also use the gadgets that have been created by that industry.

Image courtesy of kaiserkiwi

Rovio to Cut Over a Third of the Workforce

Why is it, when I think of Rovio and cutbacks, I imagine the big bosses sitting on their perch and throwing stuffed birds at the workforce to determine who leaves? Just me? Okay!

The studio of the massive mobile gaming hit, Angry Birds, has announced their huge cut of 260 of 700 jobs from the team. This follows poor revenue for the 2014 business year, which could be pinned on anything from less interest in the game or even the toys, which was stated by the current CEO, Pekka Rantala “The year on year decline of consumer product licensing revenues impacted revenue and profit.”

This cut follows a previous cut back in October 2014 of 130 jobs, which was again linked to falling profits. Rovio has failed to disclose any profit information for 2014, but for the financial year 2013 to 2014, profits were  down to $34 million from the previous years $70.2 million.

I personally never liked the game, but with well over 2 billion downloads of Angry Birds alone, I doubt we will see the end of Rovio anytime soon.

Do you currently own any Angry Birds products (T-Shirt, plush toy, board game, etc…)? Have you made any in-app purchases or even bought the game? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Get Ready for a Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge Discount

If you were looking to buy a Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge, you might consider waiting until next month. Samsung may be dropping their prices for the latest flashgrips soon, so hang in there for a month and get it at a discount.

All facts point to the company trying to get out of their Q2 sticky situation. Their profits fell four percent this year compared to the same time last year and as Apple is getting ready to reveal their latest iPhones, things are not looking so good. The predictions don’t look so good either, falling 3 million smartphone sales prediction short by the end of the year. Oh year, they have teased an event planned for mid August where they plan on announcing a bigger and better S6 Edge, but will they be able to make up for the demands this time?

The whole things started after they announced the S6 and S6 Edge, who had a bigger than anticipated success. This led to a short supply and high demand, thus the company missing their targets right now. However, with this kind of pressure on them, the only practical solution is to make ‘adjustments’ to their latest handsets on the market. This means that the S6 and S6 Edge will see a price drop in the near future, something that Samsung thinks will get them back in the high-end smartphone game by the end of this year.

In the end, people could get to buy their long-awaited S6 or S6 Edge at a lower price and Samsung could see more numbers of smartphone sales added by the end of the year. However, let’s just see how much Samsung is willing to slash off the latter handsets’ price tags. Excited? I know I am!

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

In Profit and Mobile Gaming, Could Nintendo Be Back?

Nintendo recently announced their first year in profit in four years, celebrating the continued success of the Wii U and the 3DS. But does the future look as bright as the present for Nintendo?

Launched alongside one of their trademark games for the Wii U, Super Smash Bros Melee, Nintendo got into the collectible miniature market. The Amiibo’s can be used in certain games, and will continue to be supported in future games, and with a reported sales of approximately 10.5 million figures sold, its clear to see why Nintendo has reacted well to the sales of their Amiibo’s. They did admit that people have been inconvenienced by the shortages on certain models, so much so that Nintendo have vowed to increase production of the models that have sold out or are “indispensable to play a certain game”. With approximately 66% of Amiibo sales sold in the US and Canada, with a further 20% in Europe and 11% sold in Japan there are clear regions where the Amiibo’s have been received better.

Future plans for the Amiibo’s include the release of a 3DS NFC Reader/Writer, allowing users of the original 3DS to use Amiibos, without having to buy the new model. A new selection of Amiibo’s will be released, including Yarn based Yoshi’s and card-type Amiibo’s, expanding on the figurine based collection that is currently available.

Nintedo celebrated, for the third year in a row, the increased digital sales, increasing by about 30% reaching a total of 31.3 billion yen (Approximately £1.69 billion).

One of the biggest announcements was the development of games on smart devices using Nintendo IP. What this actually means long-term is you can expect to see Nintendo characters and games making their way onto smartphones and tablets, with a focus on combining all of their services together to create a unified background for all the different systems.

Alongside their new mobile games and Amiibo’s Universal Park and Resorts will be using Nintendo IP to create a selection of new rides and theme part attractions.

Out of all of this I take one thing away, Pokemon may be coming to smartphones and tablets! We can dream, right? I mean, the Smart boy, was originally announced as an April Fools joke, Hyperkin have announced that they will be creating a device that will turn the iPhone 6 Plus (and maybe other smart phones) into a Gameboy colour, letting those who are old enough to remember the device to own one and enjoy classics such as Pokemon Red and Blue with an original feeling controller.

Information courtesy of Nintendo.

Nintendo Makes First Profit in 4 Years

For the first time since 2011, Nintendo has recorded a profit. From business year April 1st 2014 to March 31st 2015, the company revealed a $4.6 billion revenue with an operating profit of £207 million. That’s not an ideal profit margin, but a profit is a profit at the end of the day and it’s a good sign of how Nintendo is progressing after a rough 4 years. The last 3 months have been extremely tough, with the newly revised 3DS not making much of a splash and the Wii U laying dormant in comparison to the PS4 and Xbox One rivals.

Nintendo bosses seem to set themselves very tough targets, which is good for companies to do, but even some know they are unachievable. They predicted sales of the Wii U to be around 3.6 million units, they sold just under at 3.38 million; of which 340,000 sold in the last quarter. A similar story for the 3DS, 9 million revised target, with sales of just 8.73 million and 1.7 million in the last quarter.

Some of the estimations are good though, on the software side; things have picked up for the Wii U thanks to the massive release of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. They set themselves a revised target of 25 million and achieved 24.4 million, but for 3DS smashed the revised target of 61 million to sell 63 million units.

It looks a like a rough road ahead for Nintendo; they predict a drop in 3DS sales and a small uplift in Wii U sales thanks to the upcoming Zelda release. Let’s hope the new venture with mobile gaming company DeNA and the extremely popular Amiibo line take off and push Nintendo back into the race with the top two.

How do you feel about the recent losses that Nintendo has made? Do you think that the new figures are a sign of things to come, or is this just a blip? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to engadget for providing us with this information.

YouTube Plans to Introduce a New Paid Subscription Service

There have been rumours of YouTube working on introducing a new paid subscription service for some time now, but there hasn’t been anything concrete until now. The streaming service looks to add a monthly subscription that would allow users to watch videos without ads, having the revenue split between YouTube and content creators.

The paid subscription service aims to boost revenue for both YouTube and content creators alike after CPM rates have dropped this year. Aside from the latter, a lot of people are using AdBlock nowadays and that significantly reduces the money income for those who are making a living from YouTube.

There have been no subscription fees detailed just yet, but notifications have been sent out to content creators regarding the upcoming changes. The move seems to come after it was revealed that while the streaming service has an enormous pool of users, it is not making any profit at all.

Thank you KitGuru for providing us with this information

Super Smash Bros Reach 1.5 Million Sales, Amiibo Sitting at 3.5 Million

For those of you who thought Nintendo stopped making profits, prepare to be amazed. Wii U’s mega hit, Super Smash Bros, is making a lot of buzz in the United States with a sales figure of 1.5 million. The rate is based on worldwide sales of the Wii U, but given that the console has around 9.2 million units sold worldwide, Nintendo’s title is able to get a decent attachment rate.

Even Amiibo has had its fair share of success, even if Nintendo gambled a bit with the figurine. It is said that Amiibo sold 3.5 million figurines throughout the United States, making the company a huge profit. This is why Nintendo is now keen on launching another wave of figurines, including the Mario and Mario Party 10 cast.

Thank you TechnoBuffalo for providing us with this information

Apple Posts Largest Quarterly Profit of Any Company in History

Apple has posted its Q1 earnings and, as expected, they’re big. But what wasn’t expected, was just how big. Their earnings over the past 3 months were the largest of any company ever. Apple made $18 Billion, largely thanks to an incredible 74.5 million iPhones sold.

That number is the one most people are talking about too – broken down, that meant during the last three months, Apple sold 30,000 iPhones every hour of every day. It seems that Tim Cook’s prediction of “the mother of all upgrades” was right too; more iPhones sold in the last quarter were sold to new customers and Android switchers than in any quarter before it. The iPhone as a business is potentially more profitable than the whole of Google and Microsoft combined.

Mac sales were also up, with 5.5 Million sold, but iPad sales were down slightly, from 26 million to 21.4 million sold. Those iPad numbers are worth mentioning, as they were one of the few figures that Apple announced yesterday that weren’t on an unstoppable climb, leading many to speculate why. While some are going so far to suggest that tablets were a mistake, others are simply citing it to the gap between upgrades being greater for tablet owners than for smartphone owners. It’s suggested that customers are more likely to upgrade a tablet less often than they would for a phone, potentially explaining the decrease in sales. Others have suggested that the rise in ‘phablets’ is to blame – with Apple’s own iPhone 6 Plus cannibalising the success of the iPad.

Whatever it is, we don’t think Apple is all that bothered after posting such earth-shattering earnings.

Source: Apple

Mario Kart 8 Can’t Save Nintendo from $97 Million Loss

It’s sad news for Nintendo as they agree that they have made a huge loss. They state that their loss was due to the fact that the WiiU just didn’t have enough big titles at launch and quite frankly, it still doesn’t have enough big titles.

Nintendo said:

“The operating loss was 9.4 billion yen because total selling, general and administrative expenses including fixed expenses exceeded gross profit.”

Nintendo are now relying on the new Super Smash Bros title and Pokemon, an all time fan favorite, to carry the sales forward for the WiiU. Wii U console sales have improved in the Americas and Europe: 510,000 units were sold worldwide in the last three months, compared to 160,000 in the same period last year, which shows more and more people are picking up a WiiU but my guess is that this boost was more or less entirely down to the launch of Mario Kart 8.

Skylanders is another title Nintendo are hoping to release for the WiiU after it’s huge success with previous generation consoles, Mario Kart 8, at the time of writing, has sold 2.8 million units worldwide. Let’s hope big titles will bring further boosts in WiiU popularity, for the sake of Nintendo.

Thanks to Engadget for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy NintendoWikia.

Guitar Hero Said to Have Made More Money for Aerosmith than Their Albums’ Sales

The popular American rock band, Aerosmith, also referred to as “The Bad Boys from Boston” and “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, have apparently sold over 150 million albums, estimating each band member’s fortune at over $100 million. However, the most interesting news is that from 2008 onwards, the majority of their profits have apparently rolled in from a video game.

In 2007, the band is said to have licensed 29 songs to Activision, the American video game publisher behind the popular and very successful franchise, Guitar Hero. In one year’s time, namely in June 2008, the Guitar Hero: Aerosmith title went on sale, having said to have brought over $25 million by selling almost 600,000 copies of the game in the first week and reaching an estimated 4 million copies sold to date. In comparison, the band’s 2004 album, Honkin’ on Bobo, sold about 160,000 copies and received only $2 million in the first week of sale.

This is just an example of one band’s profits coming largely from endorsements, cross-promotions, concerts and even video games in this case, compared to their album sales and digital downloads. It is said that last summer, 11 albums had sold 500,000 copies, having only 5 albums doing so well this year. Some musicians are also suggesting a strategy where they should “make high upfront investments in albums, and then set correspondingly high prices on them at retail.” However, given the album sale decline, the latter strategy would only make the decline in sales faster.

All in all, Aerosmith’s strategy might seem to make the most sense. We all live in an era where it’s more or less free to make digital copies of songs, having music itself not being scarce at all. The key appears not to be the artist’s music, but their brand, having bands earning more from it than from their albums.

Thank you Vox for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Vox

Gowex Provides Free WiFi and a 90% False Report

Residents of San Francisco and New York are well aware of a free WiFi option offered in particular areas, with this service being run by a lesser known company named Gowex. Based out of Madrid, this provider has recently admitted in their reports to have doctored their accounts heavily over the last four years.

Previously Gowex had been praised as a major spanish success with top performances in Madrid’s Alternative Equity Market (a stock exchange for smaller companies). However, a few years ago Gotham City Research posted a report claiming that Gowex’s revenue was inflated by 90%.

These claims were denied at the time by Gowex:

“The information published today by Gotham City Research LLC has major factual inaccuracies and false statements which the Company considers defamatory.” European Equities

They then went on to claim that:

“The Company confirms that in 2013 it achieved revenues of 182.6 million euros, of which 25.4 million euros correspond to GOWEX Telecom and 157.2 correspond to GOWEX Wireless, equity of 94.4 million euros, net cash position of 54.8 million euros and having accrued 10.5 million euros
in income tax.”

On July the 6th Gowex’s president Jenaro Garcia acknowledged the allegations and resigned from his role. On Twitter, Garcia admitted:

“I made the deposition and confession. I want to collaborate with the justice. I face the consecuencies.” @jero_net

Since this announcement, the company has filed for bankruptcy which puts the free WiFi services of San Francisco and New York up in the air.

Image courtesy of Gowex on Google Plus

Pirate Websites Generate $227 Million A Year From Ad Revenue

Reports show that pirate websites make a fortune out of advertising. The Digital Citizens Alliance is said to have released a detailed report emphasising how much piracy websites are making in ad revenue.

The report is named “Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business” and states that pirate websites having TV shows, music, movies, etc. as content made a staggering $227 million in annual ad revenue in 2013.

The number of ad positions, page views and estimates of the different ad-rates were used to generate the report’s statistics and the websites were divided into three sizes based on the number of unique visitors per month, which are ‘Small’ ( lower than 1 million), ‘Medium’ (between 1 and 5 million) and ‘Large’ (over 5 million). It is also said that sampled websites are the ones for which Google received 25 or more DMCA takedown requests during the third quarter of 2013.

The statistics inside the report were taken from 596 websites, out of which 30 were the largest sites and the top torrent sites which made profits margins of around $6 million a year. Also, profit margins up to 94.1 percent were made by torrent sites, taking up less than 1/4 of the total sample and half of the total ad revenue.

The reports states that a large part of the total ad revenue comes from premium brands like McDonalds, Ford, Dell, Amazon, and others, brands that are not aware of this themselves, but the DCA states that this could damage their reputation.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information

Can Bitcoin Be Taxed? The IRS Seems Clueless

How do we define Bitcoin? Is it a commodity, an asset, a currency? It seems that opinions are different everywhere you look. For example, a federal judge considers Bitcoin as a currency, while the Internal Revenue Service has not decided upon adopting it as an actual currency.

“The IRS is aware of the potential tax-compliance risks posed by virtual currencies,” the tax agency said in a statement to the National Journal . “The IRS continues to study virtual currencies and intends to provide some guidance on the tax consequences of virtual-currency transactions.”

Bitcoin is undoubtedly becoming more and more appreciated by retailers such as Tiger Direct and Overstock.com, and for good reasons too! Take Overstock.com for example and its $126,000 income on the first day of accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. Even hotels from Los Vegas started to embrace the well-known cryptocurrency.

However, the IRS has a massive incentive to create a proper tax regime for the Bitcoin. Without a system in place, the agency would be losing out on potentially millions in tax revenue. Until a proper tax system is put in place, one accountant recommends reporting the earnings of converting Bitcoin to cash as capital gains.

“If you made a best effort, added and documented your process, that if the IRS were to question it, it most likely would be allowable,” said Janet Lee Krochman, a chartered accountant in Southern California, to the National Journal.

As soon as there will be a clear decision on how the IRS will handle Bitcoin profit, other countries are said to be keen on following their decision. It appears that not too long ago, Canadian authorities have declared that Bitcoin is not a legal tender, complicating things for users in a country that is home to the world’s second-largest userbase of the cryptocurrency.

Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information

Artists Can Sell Merchandise For Free On Spotify

A lot of competition exists between music streaming services, given the fact that the market is being populated by a wide variety of services. Spotify has established itself as a major player in this particular market, it boasts over 24 million users and continues to grow. In a bid to attract more artists, which in turn is likely to bring in more listeners, Spotify now lets artists sell their merchandise for free. The music streaming service is not going to charge any commission on sales, so whatever money artists make by selling merchandise, it’s all theirs to keep.

Spotify has made a partnership with a company called Topspin. To start selling merchandise, artists need to create a Topspin ArtistLink account and verify their identity by either linking a social media account or by directly emailing the company. Once verified, they can create listings by adding images, title, description and URL to various items in their existing merchandise store. Each merchandise listing will need approval, but it should show up in Spotify’s artist pages within 28 hours.

While artists from all around the globe can list items, only Spotify users based in English-speaking countries such as U.S., UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland will be able to purchase merchandise for now. Spotify says that it will include additional language support in the future.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information