AT&T to Acquire Wireless Provider Iusacell in Mexico

LogoIusacell.3The second largest carrier in the United States is making a move to acquire Mexico’s Grupo Iusacell SA for $2.5 Billion, expanding their customer network by 8 million subscribers and pushing farther into Latin America.

The deal will include covering $800 Million of Iusacell debt, and should make Mexico’s third largest more competitive, especially as Mexico is building out more middle class services for consumers.

“Our acquisition of Iusacell is a direct result of the reforms put in place by President Peña Nieto to encourage more competition and more investment in Mexico. Those reforms together with the country’s strong economic outlook, growing population and growing middle class make Mexico an attractive place to invest,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Iusacell gives us a unique opportunity to create the first-ever North American Mobile Service area covering over 400 million consumers and businesses in Mexico and the United States. It won’t matter which country you’re in or which country you’re calling – it will all be one network, one customer experience.”

Full PR is below. Continue reading “AT&T to Acquire Wireless Provider Iusacell in Mexico”

Amazon To Buy Twitch for $970 Million

twitch logoWe’ve been watching this sale unfold over the last several weeks, as Google/Youtube initially pushed forward with an offer, and now Amazon has swooped in to seal the deal. Twitch will be under the Amazon umbrella of services by end of year.

Twitch is a relatively young, but insanely popular video game broadcasting service, where people can share game play and host video game content. As it was starting to struggle under the weight of its own popularity, it made sense that it would eventually get swallowed up by a larger entity. Youtube seemed likely, as it already pushes a mind boggling amount of video every day, but Amazon’s cloud services and servers should also be a huge shot in the arm for Twitch’s stability as a platform.

What should be interesting to watch is the continued battle over Copyright. Recently Youtube started muting videos of game play over music rights issues. Twitch also recently implemented a music ID scan which can mute portions of a broadcast if it detects Copyrighted audio, and whether Twitch sold to Google or Amazon, the deal probably depended in part on their plans to enforce Copyright. As Amazon is an incredibly popular media distribution service, yet they didn’t have a Youtube-like service constantly in lawyer’s sights, moving forward many gamers will be watching to see if Amazon’s approach is stricter than Google’s might have been.

You can read Amazon’s full PR below.

Continue reading “Amazon To Buy Twitch for $970 Million”

Google Buying Satellite Manufacturer Skybox Imaging for $500 Million

Google_logoAP breaking news today that Google is pushing into the space business.

Skybox-ImagingTheir purchase of Skybox Imaging for $500 million will first be utilized for improving map data in Google Maps and Earth. Eventually however, we could be looking at numerous satellites being used to provide data and broadband services around the globe.

Google’s optioned drone manufacturers, consumer and home automation products, location and in-door mapping services, they’re working on AI, and now they’re launching into space. I’m avoiding making the obvious dystopian sci-fi joke here….

Full AP story below: Continue reading “Google Buying Satellite Manufacturer Skybox Imaging for $500 Million”

Facebook to acquire Oculus VR Inc. for $2 Billion

Oculus 3Insert “FarmVille gaming in 3D” joke here.

In a surprising announcement today, Facebook has announced their plans to acquire Oculus VR, makers of the Rift VR gaming headset, for $400 million in cash and $1.6 billion in stock.

Oculus is the indie sweetheart gaming company pushing virtual and augmented reality hardware back into the gaming industry’s focus almost single handedly. Building so much momentum and fan good will that Sony recently announced plans to move into the space with their Morpheus headset, a similar style VR wearable display.

Facebook is taking a gamble in moving VR beyond gaming and into social media, but even if that strategy fails, it’ll give them a unique opportunity to push the Facebook brand further into entertainment.

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

The buy out should be completed by end of second quarter 2014. What do you think will happen to the Oculus brand? How do you think VR will be incorporated into business and social media applications? Drop us some comments below!

Your New Reality Is Ready

Full Facebook PR below.
Continue reading “Facebook to acquire Oculus VR Inc. for $2 Billion”

Updated: Lenovo to buy Motorola from Google for $3 Billion!

lenovo-logo-1Well now that the dust has settled a bit, we can actually take a closer look at some of the details of this proposed deal. Though it was kind of funny how many corporate experts came flocking out of various corners of the internet following the freakish suddenness of this announcement.

The Motorola that Lenovo will acquire will be a very different animal than the one that Google purchased for $12.5 Billion. Firstly, there’s no set-top division. That was sold to Arris Group for $2.35 Billion.

We also know that the experimental division of Motorola responsible for the modular Project Ara will be staying with Google. As will most of the patents they acquired in buying Moto. Lenovo will receive all of the Motorola branding and trademarks. Not too shabby as they’ll instantly become the number three Android manufacturer.

Lenovo will also receive a patent licensing deal. The timing on this makes perfect sense when placed next to the deal Samsung and Google hammered out recently. Google is making a tremendous amount of patent material available to the top Android manufacturer, and the number one PC manufacturer (who also happens to be making a play for more of the mobile market). Lenovo and Samsung get more IP weapons, and Google gets a Samsung less focused on altering Android and a new home for Moto for them to keep stave off any perception of impropriety. Lenovo gets a great brand with a lot of history, and like IBM’s Thinkpads, Lenovo is proving itself very capable of reviving old brands. My histrionic speculation below doesn’t feel like it was TOO far off the mark…

So why aren’t I happier about this? Rationally I know this is probably the best possible move for all parties involved. I think I’m somewhat disappointed on Motorola’s behalf. It takes a long time to incorporate a company following a buy out. We were just starting to see the fruits of a newer, leaner, meaner Moto. The Moto X was a terrific handset, and Moto G was the best possible Android answer to the onslaught of low cost Windows Phones like the Lumia 520.

Now little Moto has to move to a new home. I’m very confident Lenovo will be a solid keeper for the beleaguered brand, but I’m bummed seeing anything which might interrupt the little bit of momentum that we’ve started to see.

And while this makes fantastic business sense for Google, both from a revenue standpoint and to maintain good relationships with other manufacturers, it makes me feel like this entire procedure really was a cynical grab for a patent portfolio. The very accusations I defended Google from back in 2012. I don’t like being wrong like that.

More details on the Motorola Blog and Lenovo’s Press Release. My original article below. Continue reading “Updated: Lenovo to buy Motorola from Google for $3 Billion!”

Google Beats Facebook for AI Company DeepMind, Pays $500 Million

Google_logoDoes anyone else think this company missed out on a terrific opportunity to name their AI “Deep Thought”? Anyone? 42? Is this thing on [tap, tap, tap]?

Beating out Facebook with a $500 Million dollar bid, Google is now the proud owner of DeepMind, a company focused on creating algorithms which will help computers learn in a way which resembles human experience. Artificial intelligence. Now, most people are linking this to Google’s recent acquisition of Boston Dynamics as if we’re all on the cusp of a Skynet inspired apocalypse. While I’m sure learning algorithms would be a tremendous boon to the robotics community after watching excerpts from the DARPA Robotics Challenge, it was very clear that we’re a LONG way off from Skynet or Asimov’s robots, there are a number of other projects at Google HQ which could also benefit from some good old fashioned learnin’

Improving the responses of automated, self-driving cars for instance. Making those systems more flexible and adaptable to changing road and traffic conditions.

Watson's_avatarGoogle is first and foremost an information broker.

Search will continue to be an ever increasing issue as we dump more and more info into this giant bucket we call the internet. Google is now facing incredible competition from companies like IBM with their Watson project. A computer system which isn’t self-aware, but is able to adapt, add information, and make sense of casual instructions and commands to deliver meaningful results. If Google doesn’t start working on a similar program, they’ll find themselves disasterously behind. Given a choice between Siri, Google Now, and Watson, I know I’d prefer to send my search query to the computer who spanked the crap out of the top two most winning Jeopardy contestants in that show’s history.

We instantly assume that working on aspects of Artificial Intelligence means that we’ll flip a switch someday and all our machines will have distinct personalities. What will most likely happen first is more likely to be painfully dull for the general populace. Purpose built computing systems which are subtly, but noticeably better at their individual jobs. Think of a WHOLE animal brain, so many different pieces to regulate and control various aspects of an organism’s life. We’re a LONG way off from poorly replicating the human frontal lobe. We’re a LONG way off from building a system which could rival a house cat’s ability to problem solve and learn tricks.

Let’s not forget that Google’ main competition for acquiring DeepMind was Facebook, a company that failed to put out a branded phone. If there were any more reassuring fact that we wont see this AI in some near-future skeletal doomsday robot warrior, it’s the fact that Facebook is most likely looking for better systems to sift through user data, not to operate machinery.

So when Google flips the switch and we all get slightly better turn by turn recommendations, when predictive search results and ads are a little better targeted at our needs, we can all shrug a sigh of relief. However, if I’m wrong, allow me to be the first to welcome our future robot overlords. I’d make a fantastic liaison officer in your new world paradigm where humans are kept like cattle for some unexplainable but dramatic reason.

Flutter acquired by Google. Kinect-like gestures coming to computers soon?

flutter app google acquired gesture controlYou ever go back and watch Minority Report and laugh that Tom Cruise has to wear weird finger gloves thing to control his magic computer screen? Yeah. We’ve already on top of that.

Taking things a step further, Flutter just announced that they’ve been optioned by Google. Flutter uses the webcam built into your computer or laptop to recognize gestures and movement to control various programs installed on your system. It was a quirky little project trying to pull an end-run around products like the LEAP motion controller which requires a special sensor, instead opting for the cameras we already have.

Now with Google’s influx of cash and talent, we could see much more rapid development of this type of control. Now what remain to be seen is what kind of support Goog will continue for Windows and OSX… Could be a killer app for all those Chromebooks out there…

Flutter Blog: We’ve Been Acquired By Google

Google acquires gesture sharing app BUMP

bump acquired by google logoThis one almost flew under the radar.

Posted (quietly) today on Bump’s blog:

We’re excited to announce that the Bump team is joining Google!

Our mission at Bump has always been to build the simplest tools for sharing the information you care about with other people and devices.  We strive to create experiences that feel like magic, enabled behind the scene with innovations in math, data processing, and algorithms.  So we couldn’t be more thrilled to join Google, a company that shares our belief that the application of computing to difficult problems can fundamentally change the way that we interact with one another and the world.

As of right now, no changes are planned in how Bump works, and the same team will still be working on the app, just under the Google umbrella. Hopefully this will mean some cross-pollination of sharing services, as Google’s built in ANdroid offerings, even for NFC, are pretty lame.

No word yet on how much Goog spent on acquiring this popular service.

(via BUMP Blog)