HTC looks to introduce low-cost handsets, slash costs in hope of finding profit

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Poor HTC, they just can’t catch a financial break as the company warned its fourth quarter revenue will fall up to 15 percent below analyst estimates. The company briefed investors earlier today as it struggles to increase its estimated 2.6 percent of the global smartphone market.

HTC says they will look at releasing a broader product line, including more low-cost handsets as it aims for higher profitability into next year. “We’re looking at broader products in this quarter…we aim for higher volume into 2014 that will give better profitability,” company financial chief Chialin Chang said in the briefing, referring to more affordable smartphones. That move would be a sharp turnaround from HTC’s previous strategy of attempting to capture 20 percent of the high-end smartphone market in China.

Let’s be honest about HTC’s future and say that among other problems are marketing misfires that have cost the company mindshare. “Perhaps in the past we have not marketed ourselves that well,” Ben Ho, HTC’s chief of marketing, told Reuters in an October interview.

Is there anyone who ran out to purchase a HTC device based on the fact that Robert Downey Jr was peddling their products? I mean a tinfoil catamaran doesn’t exactly strike me as a winning formula for increasing sales. Ho would not rule out an increase to the marketing budget however, currently set around $1 billion. “We are in the process of tightening up and revamping a lot of things that we used to do.”

Unfortunately with the fourth quarter not looking to make things any better, HTC will need to explore more than just low-cost handset sales to try to win back the hearts and minds of customers flocking to Samsung products in droves. I’m not quite sure Iron Man is up to the challenge.

via Reuters

Google’s London HQ delayed by a year as the company asks for re-design

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Building Design Online reports that the opening of Google’s new London headquarters will be delayed by a year after the company asked the architects to come up with new designs – after the development had already been granted planning approval.

It has asked the architect to draw up a new design within the original floor plan that will push the boundaries of office design and better fit the needs of the local community […]

A decision to overhaul the project is thought to have been made within the last week. As a result of the change in plans, the building’s completion date is thought to have been moved back from 2016 to 2017 …  Read more

Google launches Helpouts, paid one-on-one Hangouts that put you in touch with experts

As we reported previously, Google has just publicly launched a new platform for getting real-time help with any problem you might be facing. Helpouts is a new video chat service that lets you talk one-on-one with experts in a variety of fields such as art, fashion, healthcare, and gardening.

Some of the Helpouts are free while others will cost per session or per minute, depending on the topic and the expert. The chats are powered by Hangouts, but only involve two parties—you and your instructor. The instructors can set times that they are available for a Helpout, and users can book a session in advance. Instructors credentials, certifications, and experience are listed right on the booking page and users can leave reviews of their sessions.

It appears Google will at least partly be allowing providers on Helpouts manage their own experts. For example, TakeLessons, one of Google’s partners providing music lessons on Helpouts explained out it will offer services by tapping into the experts already using its own service:

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BlackBerry ditches its CEO as potential buyer falls through

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While Google may have been among a lengthy list of rumored suitors for BlackBerry, it appears its latest attempt to sell the company has failed. In fact, the collapse of the deal with Fairfax has led to the ousting of CEO Thorstein Heins and the raising $1 billion in convertible debt. So, you win some you lose some, eh?

The “new” BlackBerry will be led by John S. Chen who will be appointed Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors and is now responsible for the strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals for BlackBerry. We wish John the very, very best of luck in this difficult climate.

“Today’s announcement represents a significant vote of confidence in BlackBerry and its future by this group of preeminent, long-term investors,” said Barbara Stymiest, Chair of BlackBerry’s Board. “The BlackBerry Board conducted a thorough review of strategic alternatives and pursued the course of action that it concluded is in the best interests of BlackBerry and its constituents, including its shareholders. This financing provides an immediate cash injection on terms favorable to BlackBerry, enhancing our substantial cash position. Some of the most important customers in the world rely on BlackBerry and we are implementing the changes necessary to strengthen the company and ensure we remain a strong and innovative partner for their needs.”

It’s an unfortunate day for the folks in Waterloo and while there was an inkling of hope that Google might scoop up the company formerly known as RIM, it appears they are now back at square one in their attempts to knock Android and iOS off their pedestals.

via BlackBerry

AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom arrives Nov. 8 for $199 on contract w/ free Galaxy Tab 3

As rumored earlier this month, AT&T announced today that it will become the first U.S. carrier to offer Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Zoom starting November 8 for $199 on contract or $25 a month on AT&T Next instalment plans. AT&T is also throwing in a free Galaxy Tab 3:

For a limited time, Galaxy S 4 zoom customers can take advantage of two amazing promotional offers. Those purchasing the Galaxy S 4 zoom with a two-year contract or on an AT&T Nextsminstallment agreement and qualified voice and data plans can get a Galaxy Tab™3 for free. The Galaxy Tab 3 requires a new qualified 2-year data plan in order to be eligible. Customers won’t have to choose between a phone and tablet. Now they can get both for the price of one. With AT&T Mobile Share, customers can add the Galaxy Tab 3 to an existing Mobile Share plan for $10 more per month. And with Mobile Share, up to 10 devices can share data without needing to purchase separate plans for each one.

The Galaxy S4 Zoom is a hybrid smartphone/point and shoot that packs in a 16 megapixel camera with 10x optical zoom, a manually adjustable zoom ring, dedicated shutter button, and a built in Xenon flash. Other specs include a 4.3” Super AMOLED display, microSD, a 2330mAh battery, 1.5GB(RAM), and 8GB(eMMC).  Read more

Talking Schmidt: Google Chairman SHOCKED at NSA hacking of Google network, says he told buddy Obama that it is ‘not OK’

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt expressed his shock at reports that the NSA tapped into the internal communications links between Google servers, describing it as “outrageous” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. The claim was made as part of the ongoing PRISM revelations.

It’s really outrageous that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centers, if that’s true. The steps that the organization was willing to do without good judgment to pursue its mission and potentially violate people’s privacy, it’s not OK …  Read more

Google Glass still needs personal talk-through, but now via Hangout chat

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If an existing Google Glass Explorer has sent one of their three invitations to you, the good news is you no longer have to travel to Google’s offices in NY or LA to collect your gadget in person.

For the first round of Explorers, Google had insisted on personal collection so that a member of staff could talk them through the product and assist them with setup. Those accepting invitations now are being offered a 45-minute one-to-one on Google Hangouts …  Read more

More images emerge of Google’s upcoming London headquarters, set to open in 2016

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In 2016, Google plans to open a brand-new one-million-square-foot office in London. We’ve already seen some images of the planned headquarters, but yesterday some fantastic new images were published that detail even more of what Google is planning to do with the massive campus.

The office will house a 20,000-square-foot bike shed, a public promenade, swimming pools, a rock-climbing wall, and more. There’s probably some work space in there, too, but details on that aren’t as plentiful. Quartz describes Google’s goal with the new office as an attempt to “make an office so you never want to leave.” It certainly sounds like Google is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.

You can find more images of the campus plans below.

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That mystery barge in SF is Google’s retail launch, and it’s a Transformer …

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The mysterious barge that appeared in San Francisco Bay has been confirmed by multiple sources to be Google’s first foray into retail space, reports CBS.

First rumored to be a data centerCBS first suggested a week ago that it could be the retail space we’ve been predicting since February, and is now stating this as fact – though suggesting it may be aimed at an exclusive clientele.

Google’s mysterious floating barge on San Francisco Bay will feature luxury showrooms and a party deck for the tech giant to market Google Glass and other gadgets to invitation-only clients, multiple sources told KPIX 5.

It’s not clear whether it’s just the upper entertainment deck that is reserved for VIP guests or the whole structure, but it appears the structure isn’t fixed: it’s a giant Transformer …  Read more

Google, Samsung, and others sued over Nortel search patents

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Google, Samsung, and several other Android handset manufacturers are being sued by Rockstar, a consortium backed by Android competitors Microsoft and Apple, over alleged infringement of several search patents acquired by Rockstar from Nortel in 2011. Last year HTC reached a ten-year agreement with Apple as part of a patent infringement settlement. That deal would result in both companies licensing existing and future patents from one another, but it seems that agreement does not apply in this case.

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Google, Red Hat, Oracle workers enlisted for Obamacare “Tech Surge”

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Bloomberg reports that Google and other Valley companies are contributing “dozens of computer engineers and programmers to help the Obama administration fix the U.S. health-insurance exchange website.”

The help is arriving as the government’s main site to offer health insurance remains plagued by repeated outages a month after its Oct. 1 debut. Among those assisting are Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer on leave from Mountain View, California-based Google, and Greg Gershman, the innovation director for smartphone application maker Mobomo, according to a government official who asked not to be identified because the moves haven’t been made public.

The Google engineers are in for a rude awakening when they see the government cafeterias.  Read more