We Americans like to think of ourselves as No. 1 at everything but there’s at least one area where multiple studies have shown that we’re lagging far behind: In broadband speeds. The newest numbers from Netflix once again paint the United States as a land of mediocrity when it comes to broadband service, as the average connection speed for American Netflix users trails far behind the average connection speed for European users in several countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and all of Scandinavia. With an average connection speed of just 1.9Mbps, U.S. Netflix users still fare better than their counterparts in Ireland (1.79Mbps average connection) and Mexico (1.77Mbps average connection). Netflix regularly releases data on which ISPs deliver the fastest speeds as a way of letting its users know which of their options are best for video streaming.
Who would have thought that having buttons on the back of your smartphone wouldn’t be a killer feature after all. 9to5Google points us to a report from Asia Today claiming that LG’s newest G2 flagship smartphone has sold around 2.3 million units so far, well below the company’s expectations. As 9to5Google notes, LG thought that it would sell around 3 million in just the third quarter of 2013 alone so it looks like the company has become only the latest to have trouble meeting sales expectations in the over-saturated high-end smartphone market. BGR reviewed the G2 this past fall and found that it was a big step backward for LG, which had previously released the very impressive Optimus G flagship smartphone back in 2012.
Telltale Games, the maker of the TV show-based “The Walking Dead” video game, has confirmed that it’s working with HBO to launch a “Game of Thrones” series of games starting in 2014, Polygon reports. “We’ll be taking advantage of all the fiction to make something great,” Telltale Games CEO Dan Conners said.” We’re just really getting into it right now and thinking about characters – who has the most at stake, who has the biggest impact on the world.”
Employees at the National Security Agency aren’t happy that we now know to look out for their trash-talking elves that they’ve created in World of Warcraft. The Washington Post reports that officials at the NSA are feeling depressed and demoralized by the constant stream of revelations being leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden and are also feeling hung out to dry by a White House that has spent most of its time trying to contain political damage caused by the Snowden leaks. Essentially, the Post’s sources say that the NSA thinks that it’s providing some of the most valuable intelligence in the United States’ battle against terrorism and that it deserves recognition for its efforts instead of calls for more restraint.
As soon as the first Google Glass Explorer was ticketed for driving under the influence of augmented reality, we were primed for the inevitable fallout. According to the Daily Herald, Illinois is already taking steps to outlaw Google Glass in motor vehicles. Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein filed a bill last week to ban drivers from wearing Google’s wearable device, following New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia, where legislators have also introduced bills to the same effect.
Samsung is willing to go for five years without suing competitors in Europe, to discuss licensing fees with rivals for a year, and to allow an arbitrator appointed by the European Commission to decide on them in case an agreement isn’t reached. But that may not be enough for the Commission, Reuters reported. Apparently, Samsung rivals in the region are not happy with the company’s concessions. “We will take account of the feedback when we discuss with Samsung possible improvements to their commitments in the coming weeks,” European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said at a patent conference organized by Premier Cercle.
The idea of owning a modular phone with affordable, replaceable parts was nothing more than a pipe dream just months ago, but Motorola’s Project Ara might make that dream come true in the not-too-distant future. In an interview with YouTube personality Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside said he doesn’t know if Motorola will be able to have a product on the market in the next 12 months, but the prototype is already “pretty close” to what Dave Hakkens imagined in his Phonebloks concept video.
Calm down, Windows 8 haters: You may not have to rush out to scoop up Windows 7 after all. Microsoft caused a stir last week when it announced that it had already stopped selling box copies of Windows 7 and that it had instructed its manufacturing partners to stop using Windows 7 on new PCs by October 30th, 2014. Now Network World has noticed that Microsoft has backtracked on its Windows life cycle page and now says that sales of both Windows 7 and new Windows 7 PCs will only end at a date “to be determined.” Windows 7 extended support is still scheduled to last through January 14th, 2020.
If you were wondering how the people at Motorola got away with releasing a smartphone for $199 without a contract while still retaining decent profit margins… well, they didn’t. The Wall Street Journal shares data from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Mark Newman who estimates that the Moto G is generating “an operating profit margin of less than 5%,” as opposed to the 20% margins generated by Samsung’s Galaxy S3 Mini and 28% margins generated by the Galaxy S4. The profit margins on the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s are higher than 30%.
There never was any real doubt about European Union officials signing off on Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s handset unit. But suddenly, the European Commission’s Vice President in charge of competition policy has issued a surprisingly harsh warning about the transaction. It seems that it is beginning to dawn on the EC that the sale of its phone division frees Nokia to pursue its patent claims more aggressively than ever. Since Nokia no longer needs to make peace with other handset vendors to create cross-licensing agreements, it could in theory unleash its patent lawyers to harry a host of major and minor handset vendors.
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