The UpStream

Samsung to Hold Own Developer Conference

posted Sunday Jul 28, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Samsung to Hold Own Developer Conference

Samsung has been becoming a major player in the mobile space for some time now. Over the past few years, more and more people are picking up Samsung products and the company has created a very loyal following of both consumers and developers. That being said, Samsung has finally decided it wants to fit in with the rest of the big boys and host its own developer conference in order to appeal to the mass amount of developers who support their products.

Following the footsteps of Microsoft, Google, AT&T and Apple, the Samsung Developer Conference will take place for the first time this year. Announced this week, the event will be held in, sadly, San Francisco from October 27 to the 29th at the Westin St. Francis. As of right now, registration is not available but you can sign up for an email alert to be notified when it will go live, which will be sometime later this summer. Also, there's no details on what to expect of the conference yet, at least to the public. Samsung says they will announce sessions, guests and other details in the near future and that all of Samsung's products will be covered at the event, so it won't be just focused on phones and tablets. I'd love to know the one developer who signs up to learn about the Samsung washer and dryer SDK.

In comparison to the rest of the popular crowd, Apple and Google usually get about 5,000 attendees each year and Microsoft sees far more than that at Build. The Westin St. Francis has 34 rooms for conferences and a Grand Ballroom with capacity for 1,100 people, so we'll have to see how many developers Samsung can pack into that hotel for their event.

All things considered, it's probably a good idea for Samsung to be starting a conference of their own, as they do have a wide variety of products and services. However, seeing as though they don't own their own dominant operating system, and instead simply provide their services on other interfaces, I'm not sure if the turnout will be what they expect. While Bada is their own operating system, it really doesn't have the attention nor marketshare to deserve its own conference. With Windows and Android being the only two main interfaces to discuss, it seems a little redundant that they would host an event to cover them a second time.

Comparatively, AT&T hosts their own conference and tends to attract both the attention and respect to make it a worthwhile event. Perhaps it is the fact that it occurs at the same time as CES. At any rate, I think a lot of people will become confused as to what the purpose of the conference is for, and fans and loyalist will get mad that they can't attend. Sort of like E3. Perhaps it'll all work out in the end though, and I do have high hopes for the event as a whole, as it'll bring more awareness to Samsung's offerings that aren't Galaxy-named.

Yahoo Buys Admovate, Motivated to Regain Respect and Marketshare

posted Sunday Jul 28, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Yahoo Buys Admovate, Motivated to Regain Respect and Marketshare

Ever since Yahoo's new CEO Marissa Mayer took over in October, several things have drastically changed. First, Mayer completely changed the company's focus and mentality. Then, there's been several rounds of closing non-profitable projects while also improving some and even spending billions to acquire new brands. Yahoo has continued to push forward as the company has picked up yet another startup.

Admovate has been purchased by Yahoo to help them grow their mobile advertising sales, as well as expand their targets ads. As of now, we're unsure of the terms of the deal, but we do know that four employees over at Admovate's HQ in Mountain View, CA will be heading four miles west to Sunnyvale to join Yahoo's ad team. Admovate says that are able to allow advertisers the ability to not only create ads, but then be able to pinpoint the "hyper-local" ad to customers in the mobile space.

Scott Burke, SVP of display advertising and ad technology, said in a blog post (which was posted on Tumblr, by the way) on the acquisition,

Today, we're excited to announce the acquisition of Admovate, an advanced mobile ad technology startup. Admovate has created sophisticated technology that helps marketers reach their desired audience at the right time and place.This is especially important for mobile ad experiences that engage consumers on smaller screens.

This acquisition is part of our efforts to invest further in our ad tech platforms-Apt, Genome, and Right Media-and make buying easier for advertisers and agencies. Admovate's personalization technology accelerates our capabilities in mobile advertising, and we gain an exceptionally talented technical team. Admovate's engineers will join our Yahoo! display advertising team in Sunnyvale.

This is important move for Yahoo, as their ad revenue dropped by over 11 percent last quarter, per their earnings report last week. Interestingly enough, this acquisitions doesn't come too far after Yahoo partnered with Google back in February, to bring more ads to Yahoo's Internet brands. Now with a mobile partner, we should expect to see some new, creative ways for Yahoo to try and gain back some relevancy. This also makes sense as Yahoo owns Right Media Exchange, which is an ad-buying program for companies looking to get their message out across the Web.

Mayer has also been very upfront about her mission to make Yahoo competitive again, saying that they would "continue the pack of doing these smaller deals" in the future. Those smaller deals include acquisitions throughout the year of Xobni, Tumblr, GoPollGo and Astrid, among others.

Michael Dells Raises Bid to Retake His Namesake

posted Saturday Jul 27, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Michael Dells Raises Bid to Retake His Namesake

Michael Dell's plans to buy back his public namesake have had a series of problems since it was initially announced in February. Several of Dell's major investors have taken issue with Michael's plans, believing that it could spell the end for the company.

The loudest of these investors is Carl Icahn, who has urged fellow investors to vote against the purchase. Because of this, Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners have raised their bid from $13.65 to $13.75 per share. This increase ten cent, being split between the two, has had a couple of planned side effects.

First, the planned shareholder meeting has been postponed until next week. This gives Michael and partners time to find and persuade previous abstaining shareholders to vote with them. This will be a challenge, as about 27% of voting shares did not return a vote.

This leads to the second side effect: a change in abstained votes. Originally, an unreturned vote was counted as a no, but instead, under the new rules, they will not be counted at all. This will help the pair to swing the votes in their favor even more. Icahn is no happier with this offer and is still suggesting people vote against it and oust Michael Dell from the company completely.

Court Rules DISH Hopper is Likely Legal

posted Saturday Jul 27, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Court Rules DISH Hopper is Likely Legal

Since the initial launch, DISH Network has had trouble with their Hopper, with constant lawsuits from News Corp. NBCUniversal and CBS. At this year's International CES, Cnet, owned by CBS, pulled their Best of CES Award from the Hopper because the parent company's lawyers said they couldn't post a review of the product, let alone give it an award. They have since lost the Best of CES Awards entirely.

This week, the lawsuits, which allege that the Hopper's commercial skipping feature Auto-Hop is tantamount to piracy, hit a roadblock. The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by a lower court that said that the Hopper was likely legal. Because of this, the injunction that the networks were seeking was not granted and the case is likely to go to trial.

Obviously DISH Network is excited about the ruling. R. Stanton Dodge, DISH general counsel, said of the ruling,

This decision is a victory for American consumers, and we are proud to have stood by their side in this important fight over the fundamental rights of consumer choice and control.

A statement from FOX said,

This is not about consumer choice or advances in technology. It is about a company devising an unlicensed, unauthorized service that clearly infringes our copyrights and violates our contract.

As this case continues, it will be a fascinating face-off between two companies approaching the same topic from very different angles. DISH believes this is a battle over consumer choice and technological advances. The Auto-Hop feature gives consumers the choice on when and how to watch television programming.

The networks, on the other hand, believe this is a battle over content and business model control. In the same way that FOX limits Hulu availability because of a fear of business model change, or CBS's lawsuit against Aereo for the same reasons, the networks are afraid of their broadcast business changing.

Just as Aereo has already won over the networks, so has DISH Network. At this point, the networks have 2 choices: adjust their business models to live in the new media world, or make way for companies like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, both of which have found a way to succeed in this new world.

UK Internet Porn Filter Provided by Huawei

posted Saturday Jul 27, 2013 by Scott Ertz

UK Internet Porn Filter Provided by Huawei

It is interesting how two frightening topics can combine to make one super frightening topic. Unfortunately, that is what has happened this week. Let's recap the two individual stories and then where they intersect.

Huawei, a Chinese technology company, has been under investigation by the US government over security concerns of their devices possibly allowing the Chinese government access to phone data. The company has responded to the concerns saying that they have nothing to hide and encourages the investigations, but has also stopped shipping handsets to the States. These concerns have been prevalent within the US dating back to 2008 when they tried to merge with 3Com, and in the UK since 2005 when they bid for the Marconi Company.

In other, ideally unrelated, news, the UK has decided to enforce mandatory opt-out ISP-level content filtering. They have joined great countries like China and North Korea in the forced filtering market. All of the country's major ISPs have agreed to implement these filters, which will filter content such as "pornography," "dating," "games," and "social networking."

So, where do these 2 stories cross? In a UK ISP named TalkTalk, who will be implementing a filtering system called HomeSafe. The United Kingdom's Prime Minister, David Cameron praised the system as an example of "great leadership" in content filtering. As it turns out, HomeSafe is owned and operated by Huawei. Uh oh.

So, the company that will be providing content filtering for the UK's major ISP is run by the company the United States' Congress is convinced is responsible for, essentially, international espionage. If Huawei is actually conducting covert spying on foreign citizens via technology, this seems like the ideal way to make it happen.

Activision Buys Itself Back from Parent for $8.17 Billion

posted Saturday Jul 27, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Activision Buys Itself Back from Parent for $8.17 Billion

Let's file this one under weird business relationships. Vivendi, the majority stake owner of Activision, made a request of the game publisher for a $3 billion dividend. Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, and Brian Kelly, co-chairman, decided that this was an unreasonable request and, instead, decided to purchase majority stake back from Vivendi.

$5.83 billion worth of stock will be purchased by Activision itself. $1.2 billion of that will come from on-hand cash reserves, with the remaining being borrowed from Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. In addition to the stock buyback from Activision, an investment group led by Kotick and Kelly will purchase another $2.34 billion worth of stock, $100 million of which belonging to the two executives. Vivendi will retain the remainder of their stock holdings, amounting to 12%, versus the previous 60%.

Kotick said of the move,

These transactions together represent a tremendous opportunity for Activision Blizzard and all its shareholders, including Vivendi. We should emerge even stronger - an independent company with a best-in-class franchise portfolio and the focus and flexibility to drive long-term shareholder value and expand our leadership position as one of the world's most important entertainment companies...

The transactions announced today will allow us to take advantage of attractive financing markets while still retaining more than $3 billion cash on hand to preserve financial stability. Our successful combination with Blizzard Entertainment five years ago brought together some of the best creative and business talent in the industry and some of the most beloved entertainment franchises in the world, including Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. Since that time, we have generated over $5.4 billion in operating cash flow and returned more than $4 billion of that to shareholders via buybacks and dividends. We are grateful for Vivendi's partnership through this period, and we look forward to their continued support.

This is definitely a huge move for the company, but it could also be a scary decision. Activision is known for milking its franchises until they catch fire, and there is no telling whether Vivendi was involved in this decision at all, or for the better or worse. There is always the possibility that, in the end, their franchises will be even more affected in the future.

Activision's management believes that their earnings per share will increase as much as 30%, indicating that they believe significantly higher profitability without Vivendi. I am going to believe that this indicates they think they can release more unique games that people actually want to play as opposed to minor iterations on existing titles. Activision: prove me right.

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