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Tech News: Instagram Invites Advertisers Into the Picture, and Sony Launches Competitor to Apple TV


Plus, Nissan unveils its own smartwatch, Carl Icahn bows out of of the Dell deal, and BlackBerry's stock is up on news of a possible rescue buy.

Advertisers Are Finally Coming to Instagram

The popular picture and video social media app Instagram, acquired by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) earlier this year, announced today that it has reached 150 million active users. To monetize that growth, Instagram will begin to introduce advertising on its platform. According to Emily White, the company's Director of Business Operations, who spoke with the Wall Street Journal, the Instagram ad service will begin within the next year.

Facebook had actually already confirmed plans to monetize its prime photo and video sharing app, but today's news is the first explicit mention of ads from Instagram itself. Reportedly, White met with representatives of Ford (NYSE:F), Williams-Sonoma (NYSE:WSM), and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) last week to discuss brand relationships and how advertising for those companies might play out on Instagram.

Said White to the Wall Street Journal, "We want to make money in the long term, but we don't have any short-term pressure."

Sony Announces PlayStation Vita TV, a Mini Console Designed to Compete Against Apple TV

Sony's (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation Vita TV is tiny; at a mere 6 x 10 centimeters, the new console has been designed to compete head-to-head with streaming media players like Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV hardware, Roku, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chromecast. For $95, the new mini gaming and TV console will also play games for Sony's handheld systems Vita and PSP, as well as classic games from the company's original PlayStation.

The device was announced in Japan, where the company said that PlayStation Vita TV will support Japan-specific content providers like Hulu, Nico Nico Douga, Tsutaya TV, and Sony's Video Unlimited. If Sony can set up a comparable lineup of American content providers, it will likely be a realistic competitor to Apple TV, particularly for the gaming crowd. In fact, at Apple's big event tomorrow, the company may announce the expansion of functionality for Apple TV, and that may include gaming.

The new system will also feature cross-functionality with the imminent PlayStation 4. For example, gamers will be able to use the device as an extender for PlayStation 4, which will allow them to play on another TV screen with only one PlayStation 4 and one PlayStation Vita TV.

Nissan's Nismo Smartwatch

Joining the coming wave of wrist tech led by Apple's supposed iWatch and Samsung's (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy Gear, Japanese car maker Nissan (OTCMKTS:NSANY) has announced that it will be launching its own smartwatch, the Nismo, later this month at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The device will show the car's average speed and fuel consumption, and provide biometric data on the driver. For example, the smartwatch will measure heart rate data, and Nissan has hinted that it may also take ECG, EEG, and skin temperature measurements, all for the sake of keeping track of user's ability to drive safely. An ECG reading could help identify early fatigue, an EEG measurement could help measure levels of concentration, and a skin temperature reading could help measure hydration levels.

It's a fine idea to keep track of driver health and concentration while on the road, but having real-time information come up on your wrist while you're driving sounds like a big distraction. More details on how the Nismo will work can be expected soon, as the Frankfurt Motor Show runs from September 10-22.

Carl Icahn Backs Out of Dell Deal

After a heated and dramatic battle to block the proposed buyback of Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) by founder Michael Dell, the billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn is bowing out. In a letter to shareholders, Icahn wrote that the battle for the future of the company "would be almost impossible to win," citing a change of record date for stockholders allowed to vote on Dell's proposed takeover. Since Icahn sued the company and its board on August 2 in an attempt to derail the buyout, he and Southeastern Asset Management have opposed Dell's $25 billion takeover bid, which is being organized in conjunction with private equity firm Silver Lake.

Icahn has been arguing that a $25 billion takeover bid simply undervalues the company. As he said in his letter to investors, "The Dell board, like so many boards in this country, reminds me of Clark Gable's last words in Gone With the Wind; they simply 'don't give a damn.'"

BlackBerry Shares Up on News That a Canadian Investor is Closing in on a Rescue Deal

BlackBerry's (NASDAQ:BBRY) stock is up 5.07% today because the so-called "Warren Buffett of Canada," Prem Watsa, is supposedly closing in on a rescue deal to acquire the struggling smartphone company. Watsa has already amassed billions of dollars in backing from some of Canada's largest pension funds in order to make the BlackBerry deal.

Last month, Watsa stepped down from BlackBerry's board when it announced it would be exploring strategic alternatives such as acquisition. At the time, he cited a "potential conflict that may arise during the process."

Watsa's company, Fairfax Financial Holdings (OTCMKTS:FRFHF), has a 10% stake in BlackBerry, making it the company's largest shareholder.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville

Disclosure: Minyanville Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.
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