|Tech News: Steve Wozniak Doesn't Want New iPad Air and Amazon Delays Its Set-Top Box|
By Josh Wolonick OCT 24, 2013 4:35 PM
Plus, NQ Mobile sees major sell-off after Muddy Waters calls it a "massive fraud." Time Warner will cary Al Jazeera, and Google puts more investment in a Finnish data center.
Amazon Is Delaying Its Set-Top Box
In April, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), in an effort to expand its video offerings and digital content, would be introducing a television set-top box this fall. The new device would compete with Roku and Apple (NASAQ:AAPL) TV, as well as video game systems like the upcoming PlayStation 4 from Sony (NYSE:SNE) and the Xbox One from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), both of which boast broad digital content features beyond gaming. The box would also bring the company's Video on Demand store, free for subscribers to Amazon Prime, directly to consumers' televisions. Bloomberg reported that the device was being designed by Lab 126, a Cupertino, California-based subsidiary of Amazon that was responsible for developing the Kindle e-reader.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the box would be pushed back further into the fall with a release before the holidays. Now, The Verge has reported that the device will be delayed even further and will possibly be released after the holiday season, which would have been, of course, a prime time for Amazon to debut its Apple TV and Roku killer.
Sources have said that the device will be based on a derivative of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android OS, just like the Kindle Fire. Moreover, the device will allow third party apps in addition to offering its own services.
Given Amazon's history of competitive pricing, the device could have been a major holiday shopping item this year. If the reports are true, Amazon will have to wait just a bit longer to take a bite out of the set-top box space.
The Woz Doesn't Dig the New iPad Air
Yesterday, Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple, took the stage at Apps World in London and announced that the new iPad Air is just not for him. As he said, "Yes it's thinner, but I wanted storage. I don't have broadband at home, so I carry all my personal media in the iPad. So I was hoping Apple has a 256GB iPad. So I emailed my wife and said I didn't want one of those."
Perhaps the oddest part of this story is that the Woz, of all gurus, does not have broadband Internet. "I can't order a movie from iTunes and watch it straight away. I could wait for it but I get bored by then. It's because of my lousy phone company, but that is life," he said.
Google Increases Its Stake in a Finnish Data Center
In 2009, Google bought an old paper mill in Hamina, Finland, from the Finnish paper company Sora Enso. With an initial investment of 200 million euros, or $275.65 million, Google transformed the mill, which used a sea water cooling system, into a data center.
In August of this year, the company announced an additional $150 million in spending on the data center, and now sources have told Reuters that the company plans to announce another round of investments in early November. Giving credence to the sources, the Prime Minister of Finland, Jyrki Katinen, has confirmed that he will attend a special event at the Hamina date center on November 4.
Because of their access to vast amounts of hydro power, Northern European countries like Finland have been popular locations for data centers. Moreover, the cooler climate of Scandinavia helps to reduce cooling costs. In fact, Microsoft has said recently that it has plans to invest over $250 million in a new data center in Finland. Notedly, Microsoft is planning to acquire Nokia (NYSE:NOK), which is a Finnish company.
Time Warner Cable Will Carry Al Jazeera America
After dropping the channel earlier this year, Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) has announced that it will again carry Al Jazeera America. According to a statement the company made today, Al Jazeera America, owned by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Satellite Network, will be available to digital basic cable subscribers in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas within the next six months.
Back in Janaury of 2013, Time Warner said it would be dropping Al Jazeera only hours after the Qatar-based news network announced it was buying Current TV, the troubled cable company founded by Al Gore.
Other major telecom companies like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), and Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) FiOS carry the channel. AT&T (NYSE:T) still does not carry the channel on its U-verse TV service; Al Jazeera has sued AT&T because of this.
Worldwide, Al Jazeera is available in 260 million home in 130 countries, and with Time Warner picking up the channel again, it will be seen in 55 million US homes (as compared to the 100 million homes that have access to CNN). Since its launch on August 20, Al Jazeera America has not done well in viewership ratings: In the first week of October, the channel's flagship show, America Tonight, had an incredibly paltry average viewership of 18,600 people.
Chinese Internet Company NQ Mobile Sees Major Sell-Off After Muddy Waters Calls It a "Massive Fraud"
This afternoon, the investment research firm Muddy Waters began coverage of the Chinese Internet company NQ Mobile (NYSE:NQ), calling the company a "massive fraud" and giving it a price target of below $1. As such, shares of the company have fallen almost 50% since today's open, from above $22 per share to $12.09 at the time of this writing.
The firm claimed that at least 72% of the company's revenue of $32.2 million is fraudulent, and that as much as $20.2 million of it came from a shell company called Yidatong. (Muddy Waters went looking for the offices of Yidatong and said they were "either non-existent of completely empty.")
According to the firm's report, NQ Mobile holds only 1.4% of the the Chinese security app market, rather than its claimed 55%. Qihoo 360 Technology (NYSE:QIHU) has a legitimate 73.5% market share of Internet security apps.
For more info on NQ Mobile, see the report from Muddy Waters.
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