The UpStream

Zynga Posts Quartly Loss, Fires Staff

posted Wednesday Oct 24, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Zynga Posts Quartly Loss, Fires Staff

It would appear that Zynga is trying to beat their employees to the punch and have started letting them go. In all, Zynga let go of 5% of their workforce yesterday, probably in a cost savings measure. It all stems from a rapid decline in profit, detailed in today's SEC filing for Quarter 3 2012. While their revenue numbers were up over estimates, the $316 million was not enough to keep them from losing almost $53 million for the quarter. This brings their total to $160 million in losses for the year so far.

This loss is the culmination of lackluster game announcements and copyright lawsuits, plus employees who need to be bribed to stay, though leaving may have been the better option. Even with all of these problems, somehow the market did not respond accordingly. In fact, the stock price went the other direction from last quarter, and went up. When your price is in the $2 price range, however, it isn't that big of a swing.

Zynga's CEO and founder, Mark Pincus, said in the investor release,

While the last several months have been challenging for us, Zynga remains well positioned to capitalize on the growth of social gaming.

We're implementing a number of steps to drive long-term growth and profitability. The successful launches of FarmVille 2 and ChefVille in the third quarter demonstrate that when we develop great games, our large player audience engages. It's more clear than ever that along with search, shop, and share, play is a fundamental pillar of the Internet, and Zynga continues to be the leader.

Maybe, at some point, their purchase of OMGPOP, or the possibly upcoming Draw Something TV show, will help them get back on track. They have their work cut out for them with EA gunning for them, plus Stan Lee's entry into mobile gaming.

What do you think? Can Zynga, the former kings of social gaming, turn it around and compete in the now fast-paced mobile and social gaming industry? Let us know in the comments section.

Major Security Vulnerability in Android Apps, Could Affect 185 Million Users

posted Wednesday Oct 24, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Major Security Vulnerability in Android Apps, Could Affect 185 Million Users

With any open platform, risks are abundant. Outages, breaches and of course, malware built into applications can run rampant without any sort of check and balance system. It is one of the reasons the Google Play store can be as dangerous as a minefield, and we've been reporting on the problems that have been plaguing the Google app store for over a year. Android devices have been hijacked by innocent-looking apps, with security attacks growing each quarter and the problems have even shown up on Chromebooks. Now, researchers have reported that the applications from the Android marketplace have put banking account information, social network and email passwords at risk. It is estimated that the problems affect as many as 185 million people, assuming each person downloaded only one of the affected apps one time.

Germany's research teams at Leibniz University of Hannover and Philipps University of Marburg found that 41 apps that were available in the Play store last week are leaking your private information as the data moves from your smartphone to the servers. The group was able to remake a scenario using a local area network and already-known exploits to prove their findings. They said,

We could gather bank account information, payment credentials for PayPal, American Express and others. Furthermore, Facebook, email and cloud storage credentials and messages were leaked, access to IP cameras was gained and control channels for apps and remote servers could be subverted.

We have more on this major issue and examples of the vulnerabilities after the break.

3 Year Old Makes You Look Foolish for Thinking Windows 8 is Difficult to Use

posted Sunday Oct 21, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

3 Year Old Makes You Look Foolish for Thinking Windows 8 is Difficult to Use

Microsoft should have launched Windows 8 with the tagline: So easy, a three-year-old could do it. With every PC purchase, you'd save another 15 percent on your car insurance, even. It all makes sense, right?

The tech world has been ablaze ever since Windows 8 was announced, bashing the operating system for one reason or another. Whether it be the removal of a start menu that, minus the quick search feature (which is now your Start Screen), hasn't proved useful since Windows XP, or Gabe Newell claiming that Windows 8 "isn't for gamers," it appears everyone wants to take a shot at the revolutionary operating system. One main reason these tech journalists are quick to fire off a round at Microsoft is because they claim the elderly may not get adjusted to the new user interface. What most do not realize is that the problem is slowly ending, as more and more of the older generations transition into technology or simply refuse to accept the change, because let's face it: people hate change. Microsoft has forced this on us like they did with Windows Vista and everybody eventually accepted. However, nobody seems to point out how simple the OS really is. So simple, in fact, that a three-year-old can actually accomplish ordinary Windows 8 tasks without much coaching.

This is exactly what's happened with YouTuber Adam Derosiers' three-year-old son, Julian. He blazes around the new Windows 8 without much trouble at all. Of course, he gets the occasional coaching from his father, but anyone with a toddler knows that their focus will shift every six seconds or so. Sure enough, however, Julian shows us how to get to the Start Screen, open and close apps, pin them, shrink the size by sliding and much more. He even showed me an easier swipe method of closing apps. How great!

We have the video after the break. This really poses the question: Is Windows 8 really that bad or have we as a whole have given into the Linux-based fruit technology so much that we refuse to accept anything from the competitor, regardless of quality and consistency? Leave your comments below and check out the video.

Book Publishers Inflate E-Book Prices, Amazon Rewards Customers with Refunds

posted Saturday Oct 20, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Book Publishers Inflate E-Book Prices, Amazon Rewards Customers with Refunds

When it comes to Amazon, we usually have very good things to say about their audio and video offerings. Occasionally the company will mess up big time, like in the instance of their weekend AWS outage. However this is one of those times where Amazon will end up looking like heroes without even having to try.

Considering that e-books are a penny business, where every cent literally does count, a lawsuit is the last thing a content provider or publisher could need. Three book publishers are on the paying end of one of these messy settlements, to the tune of 30 cents to $1.32 per e-book purchased between April 2010 and May 2012 from the Amazon Kindle store. Amazon, among other e-book stores, claim that Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, conspired to "fix and raise" the prices of their e-books in order to make more profit. The settlement should be finalized and approved when the trial begins in June 2013 and will place limitations on a publisher's ability to set e-book prices. Amazon customers will receive credits to their accounts but can also request a check be cut if they are eligible.

It should be noted that the settling publishers have denied they did anything wrong but still have agreed to settle outside of court, for $69 million. That's a high price for innocence. Also, Amazon customers aren't the only ones affecting but were the only ones we could find a payout for each e-book. From what the settlement website says (source link below), all e-book stores are eligible for a credit, including Sony, Apple, Kobo, Google and Barnes & Noble's marketplaces.

Here's the email that affected Amazon customers should have received this week.

Dear Kindle Customer,

We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours. You do not need to do anything to receive this credit. We will contact you when the credit is applied to your account if the Court approves the settlements in February 2013.

Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster have settled an antitrust lawsuit about e-book prices. Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books. While we will not know the amount of your credit until the Court approves the settlements, the Attorneys General estimate that it will range from $0.30 to $1.32 for every eligible Kindle book that you purchased between April 2010 and May 2012. Alternatively, you may request a check in the amount of your credit by following the instructions included in the formal notice of the settlements, set forth below. You can learn more about the settlements here:

In addition to the account credit, the settlements impose limitations on the publishers' ability to set e-book prices. We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future.

Thank you for being a Kindle customer.

The Amazon Kindle Team

League of Legends Flys Under Radar, is Now Most Played Video Game in the World

posted Saturday Oct 20, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

League of Legends Flys Under Radar, is Now Most Played Video Game in the World

Either I have been living under a rock or color me one who is not a fan of things that look like World of Warcraft but until last month, I did not know the online, free-to-play game League of Legends existed. It may be a combination of both because the game is apparently the largest game in the world, at least statistically. The two-teamed online battle arena video game has been popular since it's release three years ago and has taken the world by storm with its dueling gameplay, despite my incorrect notions of level 90 Paladins that I imagined roaming through the game. In fact, the game is so big that Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, posted an infographic with some interesting figures, which they seem to like to do annually.

The studio used many different sources to gather its stats and said that the real-time strategy game hit an average of 3 million users who were online at the same time in July, which smoked the peak count of 1.4 million players from the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Riot Games also noted that 12 million players will roll through the game's servers each and every day, and 32 million players sign in every month. To put that into perspective, during World of Warcraft's best month, it only had a total of 12 million players. Currently, League of Legends has 70 million registrations, but to be fair I must reiterate that it is a free-to-play game.

We have a couple more notable statistics and the complete infographic after the break.

Windows Phone 8 Event on Heels of Windows 8 Launch

posted Friday Oct 19, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Windows Phone 8 Event on Heels of Windows 8 Launch

Microsoft is making October a month to remember. This week marked the official debut of Xbox Music on the Xbox 360. The launch comes along with the release of the Fall update to the Xbox LIVE dashboard, introducing Internet Explorer, among others, to the console. October 26th will bring the launch of Windows 8 as well as their entry into computer hardware, Microsoft Surface, complete with Office 2012. This launch also comes along with Xbox Smartglass, Microsoft's Xbox companion for windows 8.

In an attempt to ensure every major Microsoft property is represented this month, three days after the official launch of Windows 8, Microsoft will be holding a press event to show off more of what we can expect for Windows Phone 8. We are expected to really get our hands on the much anticipated Nokia and HTC Windows Phones, as well as hopefully see what Samsung and other have planned.

What I am hoping for is a demonstration of the new Xbox Music for Windows Phone as well as the integrations with Windows 8. I also desperately want to hear a date - any date - mentioned. It could be a pre-order date or the official launch date. I want to see handsets on all 4 major networks (we know of Nokias for both AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as rumor of a Lumia 822 for Verizon), with a better selection than those of the initial launch of Windows Phone 7. If Microsoft and their partners are smart, they will have at least one handset from each manufacturer on each network to ensure no one is left out.

What are you hoping to see from Microsoft at the event? Let us know in the comments section.

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