Tech News: The AP's Twitter Handle Returns, Syrian Electronic Army Takes Credit for Hack

By Josh Wolonick  APR 24, 2013 5:00 PM

Plus,T-Mobile and MetroPCS are merging, iTunes turns 10, Google begins construction of its new campus, and Google Glass has a Japanese competitor.

 


The AP's Twitter Handle Returns, Missing a Majority of Its 2 Million Followers

Yesterday, the AP's Twitter account published a tweet that read, "Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured." At the time of the hacking, the AP had 1,903,821 followers. The account was suspended until this morning. At 9:30 a.m., the number had decreased to 85,454. As of now, the account is up to 889,557, so it can be expected to make up many of the users who fled after the false tweet.

The Syrian Electronic Army, a group of young, pro-Syria hackers, has taken responsibility for the hacking. On its website, the group says of itself, "We are a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths who could not stay passive towards the massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria." The group also claims to have attacked websites belonging to the BBC, CBS News, NPR, Columbia University, Human Rights Watch, and the Twitter accounts of FIFA President Sepp Blatter (the head of world soccer), and FIFA's 2014 World Cup in Brazil Twitter account.

The big question: Is the group supported by Bashar al-Assad and his regime? The domain name of the group's website is registered with the Syrian Computer Society, which was headed by al-Assad in the 1990s. Tacit support seems to be evident.


T-Mobile and MetroPCS Will Merge on May 1

Following today's vote by MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) shareholders, a long process of approvals has come to its conclusion, and the company will officially merge with T-Mobile, which is a fully-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom (PINK:DTEGY). The deal will unite the country's smallest nationwide carrier (T-Mobile, fourth largest carrier in US) with its largest regional carrier (MetroPCS, fifth largest carrier in US). The new company, which will be called T-Mobile USA, will have 42.5 million wireless customers.

Despite the name of the new company, and despite the fact that Deutsche Telekom is the company making the buyout offer, T-Mobile will become a part of the current MetroPCS. T-Mobile will keep MetroPCS as a brand of the company, and will also incorporate Metro's licensed spectrum into the ongoing overhaul of its nationwide network, with the end result being a very fast, high-capacity LTE network for competing against the big three, Verizon (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T), and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S).


Apple's iTunes Turns 10 Years Old

This coming Sunday, April 28, 2013, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) game-changing iTunes store will turn 10 years old. The digital store, which has heavily influenced online music and app stores and beyond, launched on April 28, 2003, with 200,000 songs available for download. Since then, Apple has sold more than 25 billion songs through iTunes.

The iTunes store now features a timeline called "A Decade of iTunes," allowing users to trace landmark events in the digital store's history and its huge growth.  For example in 2006, iTunes sold its billionth song on February 23 and began offering movies on September 12. The top selling song of the year was "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter, with the highest selling album being How to Save a Life by The Fray.


Google Begins Construction of New Campus

Google (NADAQ:GOOG) has begun construction of its new 1.1 million square foot headquarters, just minutes away from the old one, in Mountain View, California. The 42-acre site, called Bay View, is a complex of nine buildings between three and five stories and with lots of windows letting in unprecedented amounts of sunlight into a tech workplace. Some of the buildings will feature roofs with turf, where employees can pitch a tent and sleep under the stars.

The nine buildings of the complex will be linked by raised pedestrian and bicycle bridges that cross over courtyards and restored salt marshes. Said David Bennett, the head of Google's Green Team Operations and Innovations, the new complex's primary goal is "to provide the healthiest environment possible."


Details on Google Glass' Japanese Rival

At an event held last night in New York City, Japanese entrepreneur Takahito Iguchi and his team touted two prototypes of a device called Telepathy One: It's the closest thing to a competitor that Google's controversial Glass has. The app that was shown to media is called Manga Camera, an already popular app that has been downloaded 6 million times in Japan. For smartphones, the app takes pictures and video and imposes Manga-style animation over them (for those who don't know, Manga is a distinctly Japanese style of comic books and animation). On the Telepathy One device, the headset does the Manga rendering in real time, making one's line of vision into a comic book.

Iguchi's venture, formed in January 2013, has eight people working on the device and is aiming for a release of Christmas 2013. At this point, this device poses little to no threat to Google Glass, which is beginning its first phase of public use with the Explorer Program. In the long run though, who knows?

For more on Google Glass, see the following stories:

With Glass, Google Steals 'Control Freak' Label From Apple

If an iPhone Can Be a Cash Register, What Can Google Glass Be?

Will Consumers Accept Google Glass and the Privacy Issues It Raises?


Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville

No positions in stocks mentioned.