Palm European Release – “Not The Centro”

It's Not The Palm Centro!Blimey. Palm have managed to confound us again.

First founder Jeff Hawkins decides to ditch the ‘smartphone companion’ Foleo only a few months after declaring it to his bestest idea evah in the whole world, and now his outfit are saying that the new phone being announced next week isn’t going to be the Centro as widely expected.
Continue reading Palm European Release – “Not The Centro”

Are They/ Aren’t They? – Pixar/Disney

(Digg this!)

Are They, Aren't They - Pixar/DisneyOver the last couple of weeks there’s been a lot of speculation that Disney are going to be bidding to buy Pixar, the digital animation studio that’s supplied the majority of Disney’s successful computer-generated animation successes.

The Telegraph got very excited over the weekend and jumped the gun on the purchase, to announce that Pixar had in-fact already been bought by Disney. The poor dears, obviously embarrassed about their blunder, have replaced the story (without mention of the cockup) on the original URL to say that Jobs _would_ receive about $3.5Bn for his share of Pixar. The whole deal is rumored to be worth $7.5Bn, achieved through a stock swap.

Jobs hasn’t done too badly with the $10m that he paid for the computer animations division of Lucasfilm in 1986, that he then turned into Pixar as we know and love it now. It is thought that if the deal were to complete, Jobs would become the largest single Disney shareholder.

As it is now understood, negotiation between the two parties have taken place, but the boards of both companies have yet to make their decisions.

With mutterings abounding that Jobs may become the Chair of Disney, they’d gain a huge boost with the personal PR ranking that Jobs has fashioned for himself to become the darling of all things Digital.

(Digg this!)

eBay To Buy Skype? $5Bn Alleged

EBay To Buy Skype? $5Bn AllegedRumours hotter than a double strength vindaloo are circulating major news organisations like the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the Web that online auctioneers eBay are in talks to acquire the Internet-telephony company Skype.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the world’s largest online auction site could be heading for a major shift in strategy in a deal involving truly stratospheric figures of $2 billion to $3 billion. If you think that’s high, the New York Post are quoting $5 Bn as the price.

The paper reports that the talks are in a “sensitive stage” and – mindful of Skype’s earlier failures to close deals with other technology companies – could “fall apart” at any given moment.

(Simon Perry – The very fact that eBay could be getting around the table with Skype either reflects the company’s quest for new product categories and international markets, or they could integrate Skype into the service, offering purchaser and seller to talk to each other. Another option could be to use Skype’s ability to host group discussions as a way of strengthening communities with the same interests.

Although they still rule the roost for online auctions, their core business is maturing, leading the company to diversify into new markets such as rental-property listings, online classified-ad listings and comparison shopping.

Despite other online leaders such as Yahoo and Google ramping up the feature set and expanding into new territories, eBay has remained focussed on the task of acting as middleman between individual buyers and sellers. EBay To Buy Skype? $5Bn Alleged

Their acquisition of the electronic-payment processing service PayPal in 2002 echoed their aim to simplify the business of buying and selling goods online, and an integrated VoIP service could provide a key element of that strategy.

Such a deal would also massively increase Skype’s presence, with eBay’s huge user base of 157 million technology-literate subscribers likely to be keen to adopt.)

Although market leader Skype currently enjoys huge popularity, their Big Cheese position is coming under considerable pressure as Google (Google Talk) and Microsoft (after recent Teleo VoIP purchase) tool up with their own VoIP offerings.

Optimistically, we gave Skype a call for their opinion (on Skype naturally) and got the expected, “Skype doesn’t comment on rumours” answer.

The ‘Skype for sale’ rumours are unlikely to go away after it was recently reported that they had hired investment banking firm Morgan Stanley & Co. to examine their options – including floating an IPO.

Back then Skype flatly denied that the company was for sale. Today, they didn’t confirm or deny this.

As Apple know, this is the best way to get written about, isn’t it?

We’ll see.


Nokia N91 with iTunes – Yes/No

Nokia N91 with iTunes - Yes/NoSpeculation about Reuters reported than Kari Tuutti, spokesman for Nokia’s multimedia division said, “There is no commercial agreement between Nokia and Apple to integrate iTunes into the N-series devices.”

Nokia N91 with iTunes - Yes/NoIn a making-the-most-out-of-a-difficult-situation way, Kari went on to say, “But since this is based on a computer platform, anybody — including Apple if they so wish — can very easily develop this kind of application and offer it to consumers, via the Internet for example.”

Apple have publicly been working with Motorola to take iTunes to some of their new phones, including the E680i and E725.

As you’d imagine with any story attached to iTunes, there’s been a lot of excitement and words written about the now long promised beauties from Motorola. As yet, they haven’t been seen in public – which we feel must be pretty embarrassing for them. Reuters reports that one of them should be with US operators by the end of September.


Apple/TiVo Bid Rumours Considered

TiVo jumps on Apple bid rumoursRumours pointing at Apple as a potential bidder for TiVo have given the digital video recorder company’s shares a healthy boost – and got people wondering whether the deal would be a good fit.

TiVo’s technology which allows viewers to skip ads breaks and to pause and rewind live television made it a must-have gadget, although some of the competition is catching up.

As of 31 January this year, TiVo had a subscription base of 3 million (the majority of them from DirecTV), and said it’d added around 698,000 subscriptions during its fourth quarter. And the company has said it is not for sale.

But for some, a tie-up between Apple and TiVo would be a marriage made in gadget heaven, bringing together some of the coolest gadgets – and brands – the industry has thought up in the last few years. And it is possible to see a few areas where it would make sense.

With Apple’s stock running at such a high price and TiVo’s suffering, the purchase of TiVo (the whole company is currently valued at under $400m), could be easy – almost a rounding error.

TiVo jumps on Apple bid rumoursNearly every media and technology company is aiming at the living room now, either with Media Centre-style PCs or other digital hubs to spread content such as video and music around the home.

For Apple, bringing video to its massively popular iPod would certainly be an understandable step, perhaps allowing users to dock the iPod with the TiVo and download favourite shows. But it is hard to see how popular this would be in the short term.

Neither TiVo nor Apple are commenting on the rumours. Other media giants have been floated as potential buyers for TiVo as well, and financial analysts remain split on whether any deal is on the cards.


JFK Reloaded Described as ‘Despicable’

JFK ReloadedOn the eve of the 41st anniversary of John F Kennedy’s murder, a dramatic new ‘docu-game’ brought the tragic assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald to life for a whole new generation. However, a spokesman for the president’s brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, called the game ‘despicable’, but has not commented on whether the family was taking any action to stop the game’s release.

JFKReloaded ($9.99, ~€7.70, ~£5.40), recreates the last few moments of the President’s life and challenges participants to help disprove any conspiracy theory by recreating the three shots that Lee Harvey Oswald made from the infamous sixth floor of the Dallas book depository.

The game promises to accurately recreate the surroundings and events of 22nd November 1963 in downtown Dallas, using information from the Warren Commission report, and has taken a ten-man team seven months to research and six months to program. The reconstruction enables players to examine the challenges that faced Oswald.

‘This new form of interactive entertainment brings history to life and will stimulate a younger generation of players to take an interest in this fascinating episode of American history,’ commented Kirk Ewing, managing director of Traffic and the creator of JFKReloaded. ‘We’ve created the game in the belief that Oswald was the only person that fired the shots on that day, although this recreation proves how immensely difficult his task was.’

Regardless of the continued passion in the US surrounding the death of one of America’s greatest heroes, Traffic is determined to promote the title respectfully whilst encouraging as many people to play the game as possible. The company has also offered an incentive of up to $100,000 (~€77,000 ~£54,000) for the first person to most accurately recreate the three shots made by Lee Harvey Oswald. A cash reward of this size is the first of its type for a game.

“We genuinely believe that if we get enough people playing the game we’ll be able to disprove once and for all any notion that someone else was involved in the assassination. The computer ballistics model says it’s possible, but players will discover just how hard it is to place those three bullets in exactly the same way that Oswald did.” The site goes live at midnight on the 22nd November 2004 and will run for 3 months.

It’s more than likely that this game will raise the issue in the press of video games containing violence, as was last seen with ‘Manhunt’. Last time the press got the wrong end of the stick and blamed a killer’s obsession with the violent computer game ‘Manhunt’ for the death of a schoolboy, although it actually turned out that the game was present in the victim’s home, not the killer’s. Some are wondering if the release of JFK game around the anniversary of the incident was a calculated move by the development company, Traffic, after watching the sales of Manhunt go through the roof during the last press frenzy.

Apple’s Colour Screen iPod by Christmas

Rumours of a new iPod are appearing – fuelled by a report on macintosh rumour site Think Secret. The new iPod is said to be built around a 60Gb drive and have a 2.2” high resolution colour screen. Users will also be able to view album artwork on the screen whilst listening to their music libraries, so let’s hope Apple have done something about the battery capacity then, because that sounds like about two hours of play time right there.

Better still, the screen is intended to display colour pictures from digital cameras copied to the the iPod – an extension of the photo storage facility introduced in a recent software update. Additional rumours state that the new player will be able to display pictures on a TV, perhaps even set to music.

As far as looks go, the casing for the new iPod will follow the design of its predecessors, although 2mm thicker… possibly to accomodate a new, higher-capacity battery.

There is no official confirmation about the new iPod from Apple, and nor will there be – the company never make statements about forthcoming products. Though some claim they do have a tendency to drop rumours here and there to stoke interest.

Several factors have combined to add a note of authenticity to the latest rumours: the new PP5020 processor from iPod chipmaker PortalPlayer features support for a colour display and TV output – whilst playing music. Toshiba, disk supplier for Apple’s iPod, has also just announced a new 1.8” 60Gb drive – and let slip that Apple had ordered a large quantity of them.

If a new colour screen iPod is on its way, then the timing is sure to lead to shortages as fans try to ensure they get on in time for Christmas, particularly at the rumoured price of US$499 (€402).

Think Secret

Five May Buy Flextech

Jane Lightning, speaking at a Royal Television Society event last night, dropped an unsubtle hint that Five are considering buying Flextech, the content arm of Telewest.

While the rest of the industry is still speculating about the proposed merger with Channel 4, Lightning, Five’s chief executive said “Flextech could be one of the options we are looking at.”

Well, it either is one of the options they’re looking at or it isn’t. I’ll fetch my deerstalker, pipe and magnifying glass for a second and say that they most definitely are looking at it, otherwise she wouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place. Oh, and it’s rumoured that Five execs paid a visit to Bill Huff, the fund manager who holds 20% of Telewest, in March.

Flextech would bring Bravo, Challenge, Living, Trouble and the half of UKTV that isn’t owned by BBC Worldwide.

With C4, Sony US and Disney also sniffing after Flextech, they’d better get a move on.

Telewest are keen to sell the company to get out of debt and concentrate on its upcoming marriage to NTL, and are looking for about UK£750 million (€1.1 billion) for it.