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Tech News: As Apple Inc. Hires Former Yves Saint Laurent CEO, All Signs Point to an iWatch


Plus, Samsung's Galaxy S4 is keeping up with the iPhone, Xbox One is getting a new project leader, and Sony offers new mobile billing option.

All Signs Point to an Apple iWatch

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hired Paul Deneve, the former CEO of fashion house Yves Saint Laurent (EPA:KER), yesterday.

With Deneve in charge of "special projects" and his background in the fashion industry, all signs point toward an Apple foray into wearable tech.

For Apple, functionality alone has never been enough. The sleek and unique (at one time at least) design of its devices plays a large part in making an Apple product a social statement as well as a technological device.

While this attention to style has always been one of Apple's calling cards, creating a phone with aesthetic appeal isn't necessarily the same thing as making a device that deserves to become part of a customer's everyday wardrobe.

This, of course, is where it seems Deneve is expected to shine. Given the vague title of his position, the still unannounced but much discussed iWatch could be the first of his special projects.

Apple's hiring decision also seems to be another sign of increasing confidence in wearable tech as the future.

Though the practicality of Google Glass (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been questioned, it seems Apple is confident that Deneve can make any iWearables seem like a natural accessory.

The Galaxy S4 Is Shipping at iPhone-Like Rates

In just 68 days since it launched the Galaxy S4, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) shipped over 20 million of the devices, reports The Verge, making it the fastest-selling Android device to date.

In the first 68 days following the launch of the iPhone 4S, 21.47 million units are believed to have shipped. In the same time period after its launch, the iPhone 5 shipped roughly 23.62 million.

While the S4 still can't boast the impressive claim of surpassing Apple in sales, this is a vast narrowing of the competition over past iterations of the Galaxy device, with Samsung shipping 12.59 million S3s and 4.65 million S2s just 68 days after they launched.

Despite the S4 competing in ways that none of its predecessors have, grand expectations following the announcement of the Samsung device have left analysts disappointed in its performance thus far.

When Samsung announced the newest iteration of the Galaxy, many foresaw it outselling Apple and Android phones alike. After opinion on the device went sour on June 5, forecasters across the board cut earnings expectations, sending shares down $80 in less than two weeks.

Apple's throne may not be as out of reach as was once thought, but competing with the tech giant and beating it are still two very different things.

Exit Mattrick, Enter Larson-Green for the Xbox One

Don Mattrick's numerous public relations blunders in handling controversial Xbox One policies for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) didn't stop Zynga, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:ZNGA) shares from bouncing when it announced that Mattrick would be the new CEO of the troubled gaming company.

Mattrick's mishaps did, however, leave Microsoft with a leadership hole to fill and questions to answer after a botched Electronic Entertainment Expo handed Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) a head start going into the new generation of video game consoles.

Microsoft reportedly plans to fill the gap left by Mattrick with Julie Larson-Green, who currently heads the Windows department for the tech company.

While Mattrick essentially served as the head of Xbox operations, Larson-Green is expected to focus on both the Xbox One and Surface tablets.

At a minimum, it is encouraging to see a woman captaining the video game ship for a big company like Microsoft, considering the fraught history between women gamers and some men (or boys) in the gaming world. Now, it just remains to be seen if Larson-Green can steer the Xbox One out of the storm Mattrick piloted it into.

Sony and Boku Partnership Allows PSN Users to Defer Charges to Mobile Bill

Boku, a mobile billing and payment company, enables users to provide a mobile phone number as a means of payment.

Sony joins Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) in partnering with Boku.

This alliance offers users in the PlayStation Store and the Sony Entertainment Network a new payment method. By selecting the "mobile" option and confirming their purchase via an SMS message sent to their phone, Sony store users on major UK mobile networks will be able to simply add charges to their mobile bill.

"We are always looking at new ways to give our customers more choice in terms of content, accessibility, and payment methods, and are pleased to be able to offer the option of mobile operator billing, which are becoming more and more popular," said Gordon Thornton, vice president of Sony Network Entertainment Europe.

While the use of Boku for Sony isn't yet available in the Americas, the ability to place charges on a mobile bill offers a simple alternative to the traditional credit card charge that could very well gain traction.
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