Thursday, May 31, 2012

RIM sinks, but patents, network have value

WATERLOO, Ontario (AP) â€" Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry, is in steep decline. The company, once the crown jewel of the Canadian technology industry, is now worth 1 percent of Apple's market capitalization. One way for RIM to stop the downward tailspin: It could sell itself to a competitor or financial firm. But who would step up to buy RIM â€"and why?

Late Tuesday, the company said it expects to post an operating loss for the current quarter, a sign that BlackBerry sales are falling even faster than analysts expected. On Wednesday, the company's stock hit its lowest level since 2003, the year RIM went from making two-way e-mail pagers to smartphones.

The stock has fallen 93 percent since their peak in 2008. Since then, the BlackBerry's dominance as the smartphone for on-the-go business people has been eviscerated by Apple Inc.'s iPhone, and more recently, by phones running Google Inc.'s Android software. Research firm IDC says BlackBerrys now account for 6.4 percent of the global smartphone market, a third of what they had two years ago.

In that time, the company's financial performance has suffered. RIM reported a 25 percent revenue decline in the latest fiscal quarter, to $4.2 billion from $5.6 billion. For the full fiscal year that ended on March 3, it earned $1.2 billion, or $2.22 per share, on revenue of $18.4 billion. That's down from net income of $3.4 billion, or $6.34 a share, on revenue of $19.9 billion in fiscal 2011.

RIM issued the dire warning about its business Tuesday, adding that it will lay off a "significant" number of employees.

Still, the company is defiant. Chief executive, Thorsten Heins, says he can turn things around with the help of fresh smartphone software. Heins joined RIM four years ago and was most recently its chief operating officer. He replaced co-CEOs Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in January after the company lost tens of billions in market value.

"My charter from the board of directors is very clear: long-term value creation with RIM," Heins told The Associated Press in an interview at the company's headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, earlier this month.

Analysts give RIM only a slight chance of coming out of the crisis. To hedge its bets, the company has hired bankers to look at its options. It's not actively looking to sell itself, Heins said, but it wants to be prepared.

"We are prudent because we know the situation is somewhat challenging," Heins said. "So we are just looking at everything that could be an option. That doesn't mean we are pulling on those options. But we need to understand ... what is our field of action that we could take in case we need to?"

As RIM's prospects worsened, last year marked a turning point in the way analysts assess RIMs value. Instead of treating it like a company with a future, they started looking at it as a collection of parts that could be split up and sold separately to the highest bidder.

Michael Walkley at Canaccord Genuity believes most of the company's value lies in the monthly fees it gets from phone companies in exchange for running the systems that deliver email and Web pages to BlackBerrys.

RIM has 78 million users connected to this system, but Walkley estimates that only 20 million are corporate and government users who are likely to stick around because of the communications security RIM provides. The rest are consumers who will jump to competing phones, he believes. That business is worth about $2.75 billion to a competitor, Walkley wrote in a research report Wednesday.

The other major component of RIM's value is its patent portfolio. The company had an early scare in U.S. patent courts in 2006, when it was forced to pay $612.5 million to a small company founded by an inventor who had patents on wireless e-mail delivery. Since then, it's filed for thousands of patents to use as a defense against future suits.

Patents on wireless technologies exploded in value last year, as Apple and Microsoft Corp. started suing makers of phones that run Google's Android software. Countersuits followed. A consortium that included Apple and RIM bought the patents of a defunct Canadian maker of telecommunications gear, Nortel, for $4.5 billion last year. That compares with the $1.13 billion Nortel's once-prominent wireless networks business fetched in 2009.

As a counter-move, Google bolstered its own patent portfolio by buying Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., a U.S. phone maker with only slightly better prospects than RIM, for $12.5 billion.

Where does that leave RIM? Christopher Marlett, the CEO of MDB Capital, said RIM's patents are worth more than $1 billion, and could be worth as much as $4 billion if a bidding war develops between Apple, Google, Microsoft Corp. and perhaps Samsung Electronics Co.

"It's a question of how aggressive they get," Marlett said. His firm is an investment bank that focuses on intellectual property, including patents.

Walkley puts the value of RIM's portfolio at $2.5 billion, excluding the patents RIM bought from Nortel and shares with Apple, Microsoft and other buyers.

RIM has $2.1 billion in cash, but Walkley discounts this completely, since the phone business will likely start using up cash soon, and downsizing will require severance payments. That means the email network and the patents comprise RIM's entire value at $5.25 billion, by his estimate.

That's very close to RIM's current market capitalization, at $5.4 billion, though a buyer could be expected to pay a premium.

The cash cushion also means that RIM is in no imminent danger of going bankrupt. But as the shares decline, RIM is likely to face increasing pressure from shareholders to unlock the company's value through a sale, and to abandon the comeback plan.

A possible middle ground would be to sell the patent portfolio while keeping the rest of the company. Two months ago, AOL, once a pioneering Internet service provider, sold and licensed its patents â€"which are more modest than RIM's for $1 billionâ€" to Microsoft.

Microsoft is one company that's been suggested as a potential RIM buyer. The software juggernaut is trying to get back into smartphone software, but its Windows Phones haven't been popular so far. Buying RIM could give it a chance to establish itself as a provider of trusted wireless email services, though moving subscribers from BlackBerry to Windows could be challenging.


AP Technology Writer Peter Svensson contributed from New York.

ASUS launches new Intel Xeon server lineup

Press Release: ASUS announced today a new range of server systems and boards with Intel Xeon E5-4600, Xeon E5-2400, and Xeon E3-1200 v2 processors. All provide extreme processing power and features that enable convenient expandability, remote supervision, and detailed node management for diverse applications in the cloud and on the ground, including data centers, enterprises with a focus on ERP, and HPC.

Accommodating up to four processors for high end computing power, the RS926-E7/RS8 offers enhanced expandability with seven expansion slots. It supports two double-deck GPUs for equally potent graphics processing and genuine CPU/GPU hybrid computing, and can take up to 1TB in main memory. The system also uses 56Gb/s InfiniBand interconnection alongside quad LAN to ensure the fastest available networking capabilities, making it an ideal choice for data center, HPC, and enterprise applications, with particular emphasis on enterprise resource planning (ERP).

The RS500-E7/PS4 server offers users an optimized thermal design, employing a 1U rack front parallel processor and memory layout to improve air flow. Its 2+1 expansion logic consists of two PCI Express 3.0 slots plus an ASUS PIKE slot, and to ensure smooth networking and virtualization it offers quad LAN.

The Z9NH-D12 and Z9NH-D12/FDR server boards combine high density operation with considerable flexibility. They support 12 DIMM slots for up to 384GB of LRDIMM (load-reducing) memory. ASUS Node Manager offers power monitoring and control, with extra features to support supervision of large server clusters. InfiniBand® FDR at up to 56Gb/s is included on the Z9NH-D12/FDR SKU. The Z9NR -D12 upgrades cooling with a lean rack design, integrating ASUS PIKE (6Gb/s), an Intel® Platform Controller Hub (PCH) with SATA 6Gb/s, and four additional SATA 6Gb/s ports. Its power efficiency reaches 91%.

The Z9NA-D6 and Z9NA-D6C server boards bring server-grade performance to standard ATX desktops, at the same time maintaining compatibility with rack and tower chassis. As such, they support both normal ATX power supplies and Server System Infrastructure (SSI) PSUs. Storage comes in the form of SAS 6Gb/s (an upgrade via ASUS PIKE cards), with onboard Intel® PCH support for SATA 6Gb/s and SATA Disk on Module (DOM). These boards use extremely durable components and materials, and are 91% energy efficient (up to 85% under heavy load).

ASUS has added support for the Intel® Xeon® E3-1200 v2 processor family on existing server systems and boards, incorporating effortless CPU performance boosts as needed by users. Up to DDR3 1600 memory offers higher bandwidth, while PCI Express 3.0 compatibility drives better and faster component interconnectivity.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Battered BlackBerry maker weighs options

TORONTO (AP) â€" BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion has hired a team of bankers to help it weigh its options as its business erodes in the face of an exodus to the iPhone and Android smartphones.

RIM issued a dire warning about its business Tuesday, saying it is losing money for the second-consecutive quarter and will lay off a "significant" number of employees.

The company based in Waterloo, Ontario said it has hired J.P. Morgan and RBC Capital Markets to help it evaluate its options. Those including partnering with other companies, licensing software and overhauling its business, it said.

RIM made no mention of selling of the company. But new Chief Executive Thorsten Heins did not rule that out after RIM's last earnings report in late March.

Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Financial, said the company is in a downward slide that's not slowing. He said he doesn't see any buyers for RIM coming forward soon.

"Unfortunately, it falls into the too little, too late category," Gillis said. "It doesn't mean somebody won't try it. It doesn't mean it's going to be a savior for the company either."

The statement from RIM did not detail the coming layoffs, other than to say the company expects "significant spending reductions and headcount reductions in some areas throughout the remainder of the year."

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said he expects RIM to announce as many as 5,000 layoffs soon. The company has about 16,500 employees now after cutting 2,000 jobs in July.

RIM said the company looks to save $1 billion â€" even as it transitions to its much-delayed "BlackBerry 10" software platform expected out later this year.

RIM's stock fell 7 percent, or 80 cents, to $10.43 in extended trading following the release of the company's statement. Before Tuesday's announcement, the stock had lost almost 75 percent in the last year.

The company that pioneered the smartphone market with its BlackBerry phones is facing the most difficult period in its history. RIM's U.S. share of smartphones dropped from 44 percent in 2009 to 10 percent in 2011, according to market researcher NPD Group.

It still has 78 million active subscribers across the globe, but Apple Inc.'s iPhone and smartphones from companies including Samsung and HTC that use Google Inc.'s Android software are gobbling up market share.

"The on-going competitive environment is impacting our business in the form of lower volumes and highly competitive pricing dynamics in the marketplace," Heins said in Tuesday's statement. He said the company will likely post an operating loss when it reports its fiscal first quarter results on June 28.

Heins, formerly a little known chief operating officer at RIM, took over in January after RIM founder Mike Lazaridis and longtime executive Jim Balsillie stepped down as co-CEOs after the company lost tens of billions in market value.

RIM has tried to make phones with touchscreens that resemble the iPhone, but those offerings have largely flopped. And so has RIM's tablet, the PlayBook, which uses the very software that will be in the new BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

The company is following the same trajectory as struggling Finnish handset maker Nokia and California-based Palm, both of which attracted consumers with trend-setting phones and technologies in their heyday, only to be outmaneuvered by competitors. In Canada, there is fear that the nation's biggest technology company could go the way of former Canadian tech giant Nortel, which declared bankruptcy in 2009 and was picked over for its patents.

RIM was "the leader and this is what happens in the technology cycle of creation and destruction," Gillis said. "They rode the first wave of the smartphone revolution and Apple is riding the next one."

RIM loses second executive this week

Things don’t seem to be looking up for Research in Motion this week. First the head of global sales said goodbye to the company. Then the company announced that it would cut around 2,000 jobs worldwide in a desperate attempt to cut costs and streamline its various departments.

Today the company announced that its chief legal officer was also going to step down. Karima Bawa has been with the handset manufacturer for the past 12 years, however the company has known of his departure for a while and has already started looking for a replacement. Karima has been a tireless advocate for RIM’s business during more than a decade of hyper growth and she continues to actively support our business in her chief legal officer role on a daily basis,” RIM president and chief executive Thorsten Heins said in a press statement.

RIM has been struggling to regain market share amidst market leaders Apple and Android. Currently the company is gearing up for its Blackberry 10 release, however many remain skeptical if the new OS is enough to boost dwindling Blackberry sales.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Facebook stock pounded, hovers around $30

NEW YORK (AP) â€" Facebook's stock is dropping again, hovering around $30 after it hit a new low in morning trading.

Shares of Facebook Inc. are down $1.72, or 5.4 percent, to $30.19 as of late morning on Tuesday. Earlier, the stock hit $30.03, its lowest since Facebook began publicly trading more than a week ago.

The social networking company's stock priced at $38 in its initial public offering on May 18. Rather than a seeing a big first-day-pop, it closed just 23 cents higher on the following day. Now, it's about 20 percent below the IPO price.

The stock's public debut was marred by technical glitches at the Nasdaq Stock Market that delayed trading. The company and the investment banks that led the IPO face shareholder lawsuits, which Facebook say are without merit.

ASUS launches new Intel Xeon server lineup

Press Release: ASUS announced today a new range of server systems and boards with Intel Xeon E5-4600, Xeon E5-2400, and Xeon E3-1200 v2 processors. All provide extreme processing power and features that enable convenient expandability, remote supervision, and detailed node management for diverse applications in the cloud and on the ground, including data centers, enterprises with a focus on ERP, and HPC.

Accommodating up to four processors for high end computing power, the RS926-E7/RS8 offers enhanced expandability with seven expansion slots. It supports two double-deck GPUs for equally potent graphics processing and genuine CPU/GPU hybrid computing, and can take up to 1TB in main memory. The system also uses 56Gb/s InfiniBand interconnection alongside quad LAN to ensure the fastest available networking capabilities, making it an ideal choice for data center, HPC, and enterprise applications, with particular emphasis on enterprise resource planning (ERP).

The RS500-E7/PS4 server offers users an optimized thermal design, employing a 1U rack front parallel processor and memory layout to improve air flow. Its 2+1 expansion logic consists of two PCI Express 3.0 slots plus an ASUS PIKE slot, and to ensure smooth networking and virtualization it offers quad LAN.

The Z9NH-D12 and Z9NH-D12/FDR server boards combine high density operation with considerable flexibility. They support 12 DIMM slots for up to 384GB of LRDIMM (load-reducing) memory. ASUS Node Manager offers power monitoring and control, with extra features to support supervision of large server clusters. InfiniBand® FDR at up to 56Gb/s is included on the Z9NH-D12/FDR SKU. The Z9NR -D12 upgrades cooling with a lean rack design, integrating ASUS PIKE (6Gb/s), an Intel® Platform Controller Hub (PCH) with SATA 6Gb/s, and four additional SATA 6Gb/s ports. Its power efficiency reaches 91%.

The Z9NA-D6 and Z9NA-D6C server boards bring server-grade performance to standard ATX desktops, at the same time maintaining compatibility with rack and tower chassis. As such, they support both normal ATX power supplies and Server System Infrastructure (SSI) PSUs. Storage comes in the form of SAS 6Gb/s (an upgrade via ASUS PIKE cards), with onboard Intel® PCH support for SATA 6Gb/s and SATA Disk on Module (DOM). These boards use extremely durable components and materials, and are 91% energy efficient (up to 85% under heavy load).

ASUS has added support for the Intel® Xeon® E3-1200 v2 processor family on existing server systems and boards, incorporating effortless CPU performance boosts as needed by users. Up to DDR3 1600 memory offers higher bandwidth, while PCI Express 3.0 compatibility drives better and faster component interconnectivity.

Monday, May 28, 2012

New telescope to be in South Africa, Australia

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) â€" Australia and South Africa will share hosting of a giant radio telescope made up of thousands of separate dishes and intended to help scientists figure out the make-up of the universe, the international consortium overseeing the project announced.

South Africa led an African consortium that included Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia, and telescopes will be erected in all its partners. In South Africa, dishes will be added to a remote site in the arid Karoo desert where a smaller radio telescope project already is underway.

South Africa and Australia, which partnered with New Zealand in bidding for the project, had competed fiercely. South Africa claimed victory Friday, saying it got two of the projects three major components.

"We may feel slightly disappointed that we didn't get the whole thing. But I think one should emphasize that we did get most of it," said Justin Jonas, the chief South African scientist on the project. "Two-thirds of the biggest instrument in the world is still the biggest instrument in the world."

South Africa's science minister Naledi Pandor and scientists who had prepared the country's bid celebrated with an Africa-shaped cake at a news conference in South Africa's capital.

"This marks a real turning point in Africa, where we are becoming a destination for science and engineering, and not just a place where there are resources and tourism opportunities," Jonas added.

Australia also welcomed the split decision.

"It is an outstanding result for the Australia-New Zealand bid after many years of preparation and an intensive international process," said Sen. Chris Evans, Australia's science minister.

The Square Kilometer Array telescope will be 50 times more sensitive and scan the sky 10,000 times faster than any existing telescope. It requires huge open spaces with very few humans.

John Womersley, chair of the consortium's board, said the telescope will help scientists answer key questions: "Where do we come from? Where are we going? What is this universe we live in?"

"We don't understand what 96 percent of our universe is made of," he said.

The organization said dividing construction of the telescope will "maximize on investments already made by both Australia and South Africa."

Womersley said that splitting construction between the two nations will likely add around 10 percent to the €350 million ($439 million) cost of the first phase of building the giant telescope. But he said there would be a payoff for astronomers.

"It delivers more science in phase one. The capabilities of this instrument are greater than the original design," Womersley said.


Associated Press writer Mike Corder contributed from Amsterdam.

Silicon Images introduces next version of MHL

Although the MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) standard has been around for a while and implemented in phones like Samsung’s Galaxy SII. it hasn’t made much a name for itself. Basically MHL lets you connect your mobile device (phone or tablet) to your TV’s HML supported HDMI port and along with sending video signals, charges your device at the same time. Now, Silicon Images has announced the next next generation of MHL which adds faster charging and and 60Hz video vs the original’s 30Hz.

Press Release: Silicon Image Introduces Low Power Dual-Mode Transmitter IP Core Supporting Both HDMI® and MHL™ Connectivity Standards

SUNNYVALE, Calif., May 22, 2012 â€" Silicon Image (NASDAQ: SIMG), a leading provider of wireless and wired HD connectivity solutions, today announced the availability of a low power dual-mode transmitter intellectual property (IP) core that supports both the HDMI® (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) 1.4b and MHLâ„¢ (Mobile High-Definition Link) 2.0 standards. Silicon Image’s dual-mode HDMI/MHL transmitter IP core architecture reduces semiconductor development and manufacturing cost by sharing die area for both HDMI and MHL functionalities-offering mobile device application processor vendors the flexibility to design a single-chip solution that is configurable for both HDMI and MHL mobile devices.

MHL technology delivers 1080p 60Hz uncompressed video with up to eight channels of digital audio while charging the mobile device-enabling consumers to enhance their mobile experience by displaying content including HD video entertainment, photos, applications, and games on the big screen.

With the explosive growth of MHL-enabled products in 2011 and 2012, mobile phone and tablet manufacturers are now adding MHL functionality to their new device platforms, allowing consumers to ‘plug and play’ their HD content from the small to big screen,” said Ron Richter, senior director of worldwide IP core licensing at Silicon Image. Silicon Image’s dual-mode HDMI/MHL transmitter IP core allows SoC providers to quickly integrate MHL technology into their next-generation mobile devices, enabling a single SoC to support both HDMI and MHL technology without adding significant die area or pin count.”

Key features of Silicon Image’s dual-mode HDMI/MHL transmitter IP core include:
Single digital and analog design supporting both HDMI Version 1.4b & MHL 2.0
Low power design (1080p/60fps @ 30mW)
Configurable IP core design, with MHL implementation saving up to 10 pins in SoC package

With MHL technology, manufacturers can deliver next-generation products that:
Support 1080p 60Hz full HD video
Use established connectors for mobile and CE products, such as micro USB and HDMI
Enable faster charging of the latest smartphones and tablets when connected to MHL-enabled DTVs or monitors
Control the mobile device using the DTV’s remote control

Over 50 million MHL-enabled products shipped during 2011, and a steady release of new products continues to expand the MHL ecosystem, which already includes smartphones, tablets, DTVs, monitors, home theater products and accessories.

Silicon Image’s family of IP cores includes a broad range of HDMI and MHL technology solutions, image signal processor (ISP) camera cores, H.264, MPEG-1/2 and VC-1 video decoders up to 4Kx2K resolution, Serial ATA (SATA) storage and RAID controllers.

For more information about Silicon Image’s complete IP core product offering, visit our website at

Silicon Image Unveils Next-Generation MHLâ„¢ Products

MHL Transmitter and MHL-to-HDMI® Bridge ICs Provide 1080p60Hz Full HD Resolution for Mobile Products, DTVs, and Monitors

SUNNYVALE, Calif., May 15, 2012 â€" Silicon Image (NASDAQ: SIMG), a leading provider of wireless and wired HD connectivity solutions, today announced its next-generation MHLâ„¢ products, the SiI8240 MHL transmitter for mobile devices and the SiI9617 MHL-to-HDMI® bridge for DTVs and PC displays, which are also MHL 2.0 compliant. Both semiconductor products support 1080p60Hz full HD and the latest MHL specification features that include native 3D formats, alpha-numeric key codes for advanced remote control functions, and increased power charging from the display to enable faster charging of the latest smartphones and tablets.

Mobile devices continue to integrate higher performance processors and higher resolution HD displays. Silicon Image’s SiI8240 is the first MHL transmitter to output 1080p60Hz full HD, enabling mobile devices to drive today’s high-resolution DTVs and monitors at 60 frames per second. To enable Silicon Image’s MHL customers to seamlessly and quickly upgrade their MHL-enabled products to deliver higher resolutions, faster frame rates, and enhanced features, the SiI8240 has been designed to be pin compatible to the currently shipping SiI9244 MHL transmitter.

Today’s smartphones and tablets are increasingly transforming from traditional communication devices to mobile set-top-boxes, gaming consoles, and PCs. With this transformation, consumers are more often connecting their smartphone to a larger display to enjoy new interactive applications-from digital entertainment and office productivity to gaming. With the SiI9617 MHL-to-HDMI bridge, consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers can design their latest 1080p60Hz DTVs and monitors to seamlessly include the latest MHL capabilities. When a consumer connects an MHL-enabled mobile device to an MHL display, that display will charge and provide control for the mobile device, while showing video, productivity applications and games in 1080p60Hz full HD quality. With MHL 2.0 compliant products, the latest smartphones and tablets will charge up to twice as fast when connected to an MHL 2.0-enabled display.

Silicon Image’s new products offer an end-to-end MHL 1080p60Hz connectivity solution for our global mobile, CE, and PC customers,” said Tim Vehling, vice president of product marketing at Silicon Image, Inc. With these latest products from Silicon Image â€" including a drop-in pin-compatible version â€" manufacturers can quickly develop and roll-out their next-generation MHL 2.0-enabled products.”

MHL technology continues to gain broad industry adoption with over 50 million MHL-enabled products shipped globally during 2011. Silicon Image anticipates that MHL-enabled product shipments worldwide will more than double in 2012. The growing ecosystem of MHL devices includes smartphones, tablets, DTVs, monitors, home theater products and accessories.

Silicon Image offers a comprehensive portfolio of production-proven MHL semiconductor and IP solutions for mobile, DTV and home theater applications. For more information about Silicon Image’s MHL product portfolio, please visit:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

RIM set to lay off 2,000 staff worldwide

Research In Motion is set to lay off at least 2,000 staff worldwide as part of an aggressive plan to revitalize the company. The layoffs will encompass various departments, from HR, finance, sales, as well as other senior positions in the company.

It’s been a while coming, but RIM CEO Thorstein Heins looks to finally be coming to his senses and realizes that a company-wide shake up is what RIM really needs. But it remains to be seen if the company will be able to compete with the likes of Apple and Android devices which are currently dominating the market. While the company is putting everything into the launch of its Blackberry 10 OS and devices, some argue that it might not be enough to make an impression on consumers.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Facebook launches own photo-sharing app

Instagrammers beware! Facebook today debuted its own photo-sharing app on iOS, which allows users to capture, edit, filter, and upload multiple photos directly to Facebook.

Users can also flip through photos that their friends are sharing, and comment or ‘like’ them directly from the app.

Facebook Camera is currently available in the Apple Store, and rumors are Facebook will be looking at other mobile platforms to launch the app.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Apple CEO Cook gives up $75M in stock dividends

NEW YORK (AP) â€" Apple says CEO Tim Cook is giving up $75 million in dividends on restricted stock.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, Apple Inc. says Cook requested that his restricted stock units not receive dividends.

Assuming the company pays dividends of $2.65 over the vesting period of Cook's shares, the company says he will give up about $75 million in value.

Cook's total compensation was valued at $378 million when he became CEO in August. That was almost entirely in stock awards. Half of the stock won't be redeemable until 2016 and the rest won't be redeemable until 2021. Over that time the value of the shares could change dramatically.

Get the Samsung S III experience on S II

The Samsung S III may be the most talked about phone after the rumored iPhone 5. It’s sleek, classy, packs a lot of performance, and just makes you quiver at the knees. And while the device is already available here a whole week before it officially launches, there might be those amongst us who haven’t been saving up for an eternity to buy this new gem.

Well if you currently own a Samsung S II, you can be really cheeky and fool people into thinking you have an S III. Okay technically you might not fool a lot of people, but at least you get to experience the awesome interface and launcher of the S III. Thanks to the folks at the xda developers forums, a port is available of the S III launcher which you can install on your S II as long as you’re running the default Samsung ROM. Bear in mind that the port is just a visual overlay, so don’t expect anything else to run fast or as great as it would on the S III.

Check out details on how to make the magic happen here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Facebook shares stabilizing, but probes mount

NEW YORK (AP) â€" Facebook's initial public offering is the subject of two congressional inquiries and mounting lawsuits as the social network enters its fifth day of public trading.

The shares regained some ground Wednesday, rising $1, or 3.2 percent, to close at $32. They were up another 50 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $32.50 in early premarket trading Thursday. But they are still more than 14 percent below their $38 per share IPO price last week.

The stock's rocky inaugural trading day last Friday was followed by a two-day decline.

The launch was held up by a half-hour delay, caused by glitches on the Nasdaq Stock Market. It was marred further this week as investors began accusing the banks that arranged the IPO of sharing important information about Facebook's business prospects with some clients and not others.

Several shareholders who bought stock in the IPO have filed lawsuits against Facebook, its executives and Morgan Stanley, the IPO's lead underwriter. At question is whether analysts at the big underwriter investment banks cut their second-quarter and full-year forecasts for Facebook just before the IPO, and told only a handful of clients about it.

One lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, claims Facebook's IPO documents contained untrue statements and omitted important facts, such as a "severe reduction in revenue growth" that Facebook was experiencing at the time of the offering. The suit's three plaintiffs, who bought Facebook stock on its first day of trading May 18, claim they were damaged in the process.

Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Facebook said the lawsuit is without merit.

Another lawsuit, filed in San Mateo County Superior Court in California, claims Facebook and underwriters misled investors in Facebook's IPO documents. Both lawsuits seek class action status on behalf of investors who bought Facebook stock and lost money on Friday.

"No one gets it perfect, as far as saying what the financial results are," said Anthony Michael Sabino, professor at St. John's University's Peter J. Tobin College of Business. The bottom line, he added, is whether Facebook or the underwriter had material information about Facebook's finances that was not disclosed publicly.

"At this moment, it's still too early to say," Sabino said. "We don't know enough, but this could turn out to be an issue."

What is known is that, in March, Facebook began meeting with analysts at the underwriting firms. The gatherings are a customary part of the IPO process and are designed to help analysts understand the company's business so they can make accurate financial projections.

On May 9, the third day of Facebook's pre-IPO roadshow to meet with prospective investors, the company filed an amended IPO document that said its number of mobile users was growing faster than its revenue.

According to a person familiar with the matter, Facebook then had another meeting with analysts and told them that based on the new information in the filings, the analysts' forecasts should be at the low end of the range that the company gave them in April. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not publicly authorized to discuss the matter.

Adding to Wednesday's events, Facebook was in talks with the New York Stock Exchange to move its stock from the Nasdaq Stock Market after the botched offering, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The news of the talks was first reported by Reuters.

NYSE spokesman Rich Adamonis said: "There have been no discussions with Facebook regarding switching their listing in light of the events of the last week, nor do we think a discussion along those lines would be appropriate at this time."

A Nasdaq spokesman declined to comment.

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said late Wednesday that his panel wants to learn more about the social network's initial offering. The committee seeks briefings with Facebook representatives, regulatory agencies and others.

After the briefings, Johnson said, he will determine whether a hearing should be held.

Also gathering information about Facebook's IPO is the House Financial Services Committee. An aide to that panel said its staff is getting briefings.

The subject is likely to be raised in hearings by the committee in the coming weeks, even though no hearings are planned specifically on the Facebook IPO, the aide said. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the House committee's planned inquiry hasn't been publicly announced.

Shareholders sue Facebook for withholding pre-IPO information

Once Facebook shares started tumbling down immediately after launch, many shareholders questioned the reason behind one of the most troubled IPO launches in history. The main reasons being pointed out are the technical glitches by NASDAQ themselves wherein Facebook shares could not be traded for some time on the day of launch. Then came the inflated price from a previous $28 to $34 per share to the actual launch price of $38. Last but not least, investors soon questioned the actual value of Facebook Inc. being $100 billion because of how poorly their current business profits from their massive user base.

Yesterday a class-action lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of Manhattan against Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays Plc and Goldman Sachs Group for hiding ”a severe and pronounced reduction” in forecast revenue. Furthermore bank underwriters were told to ”materially lower” their forecasts for Facebook after a May 9th prospectus told investors that most of their user base is moving to mobile platforms, where they earn a very small revenue stream.

The main underwriters in the middle of the road show reduced their estimates and didn’t tell everyone,” said Samuel Rudman, a partner at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, which brought the lawsuit on Wednesday. I don’t think any investor in Facebook wouldn’t have wanted to know that information,” he told Reuters.

If Facebook told analysts to materially lower their forecasts, it should have told the entire market,” said Antony Page, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. We need to know what exactly was said to the analysts, and determine how different Facebook’s public story was from its private story.”

The handling of Facebook’s IPO is being looked into by the US Securities & Exchange Commission, the US Senate Banking Committee and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesman, said: We believe the lawsuit is without merit and will defend ourselves vigorously.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Japanese video game author wins Spanish prize

MADRID (AP) â€" Japan's Shigeru Miyamoto, considered the father of the modern video game, has been awarded Spain's Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities.

Miyamoto, 59, is the author of the Mario Bros. series that has become one of the most marketed video game sagas in history.

Asturias award organizers praised Miyamoto, saying he converted "the video game into a social revolution and has managed to popularize it among a sector of the population that had not previously accessed this kind of entertainment, while also making it a medium capable of bringing people together regardless of sex, age or social or cultural status."

Wednesday's award is one of eight handed out yearly by a foundation named for Spain's Crown Prince Felipe. Others categories include arts, sports and scientific research.

Kinect for Windows v1.5 SDK launching in June

In March, Kinect for Windows announced that an update to the software development kit (SDK) would be coming, which would feature enhanced voice and gesture capabilities for developers, businesses and organizations to create new innovations with the magic of Kinect in Windows environments. Today, v1.5 of the Kinect for Windows SDK is now available for download.

Some of the new features include:
- Kinect Studio, a new tool that allows developers to record and playback Kinect data.
- A set of Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) to guide developers on best practices for the creation of Natural User Interfaces using Kinect.
- The Face Tracking SDK, which provides a real-time 3D mesh of facial features, tracking the head position, location of eyebrows and shape of the mouth.
- “Seated” or “10-joint” skeletal tracking, which provides the capability to track the head, neck and arms of either a seated or standing user.
- New samples in both C++ and C#, plus a “Basics” series of samples with language coverage in C++, C# and Visual Basic.
- Four new languages for speech recognition, including French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese.
- New language packs to enable speech recognition with the way a language is spoken in different regions, including English/Great Britain, English/Ireland, English/Australia, English/New Zealand, English/Canada, French/France, French/Canada, Italian/Italy, Japanese/Japan, Spanish/Spain and Spanish/Mexico.

Kinect for Windows will also be available four additional countries, including Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. Beginning June 1, the Kinect for Windows sensor will be available in 15 additional countries, including Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

The system combines hardware, software and licensing that enables developers to create a new class of Windows-based applications using gesture and voice, and encourage companies and organizations worldwide to enhance their operations and relationships with customers. The release of the Kinect for Windows commercial product is only the beginning. Kinect gives thought leaders the tools to reimagine and transform the way we do things with new Kinect-enabled tools.

The Kinect for Windows commercial license and purchasable hardware will be available in the UAE at a suggested retail price of AED 915. The price includes a one-year warranty and access to ongoing software updates for both speech and human tracking.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UK virtual orchestra puts you in conductor's stand

LONDON (AP) â€" A London museum is putting the conductor's baton in visitors' hands, allowing guests to direct a virtual orchestra using three-dimensional motion sensors.

The "Universe of Sound" installation at the British capital's Science Museum uses Microsoft's Kinect technology to capture the hand movements of visitors who stand in specially made pods.

Raise your left hand and the orchestra â€" which appears on a set of television screens â€" plays louder. Speed your right hand and the tempo of the music increases.

The pods are part of the Science Museum's effort to pick apart the traditional orchestra, using specially shot film footage, immersive sound, and electronic instruments to give an unusually close-up view of how classical music is made.

"Universe of Sound" opens Wednesday. Entry is free.

ASUS launches first Intel Thunderbolt-certified motherboard

ASUS has announced the launch of its P8Z77-V PREMIUM motherboard â€" the flagship of the P8Z77 Series and the first Intel certified motherboard in the market to offer the latest Thunderbolt connection interface. In addition to the onboard Thunderbolt connection on the P8Z77-V PREMIUM, ASUS also offers the same technology on the P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT to give consumers a wider range of choices.

“Intel and Asus have worked closely on the implementation of Thunderbolt™ technology onto their motherboards”, said Jason Ziller, Intel’s Director of Thunderbolt Marketing. “It is our pleasure to state the P8Z77-V PREMIUM is the first Thunderbolt certified motherboard in the industry, a testament to its solid design and compatibility.”

The ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM is the first Thunderbolt motherboard to be certified by Intel – Thunderbolt is a new, high-speed I/O technology designed for performance, simplicity and flexibility, with lightning fast transfer speeds that are twice that of USB 3.0 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. It offers simultaneous bi-directional, 10 Gbps transfer speeds over a single cable, with the flexibility to daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt devices with a single connection for a clutter-free computing experience. Users can connect multiple Thunderbolt-enabled external storage drives to a Thunderbolt-enabled display and transfer files while watching HD movies, all without experiencing any lag.

The P8Z77-V PREMIUM motherboard boasts several new features, such as true 4-way NVIDIA SLI and 4-way AMD CrossFireX on the latest PCIe Gen 3.0 slots for maximum graphics performance. Also introduced is advanced SSD Caching II, allowing users to cache additional frequently used programs and files using multiple SSDs to instantly upgrade system performance. A 32GB mSATA based SSD is also onboard, enabling Intel Smart Response and Rapid Start Technology for super-fast boot up and resume times. Network traffic is expertly handled by a pair of Gigabit Intel LAN ports, ensuring lag free transfers and streaming entertainment.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Yahoo to sell half of its Alibaba stake for $7.1B

HONG KONG (AP) â€" Struggling Internet company Yahoo Inc. has secured a lifeline after agreeing to sell half of its prized stake in Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba for about $7.1 billion, with most of the cash going to shareholders.

The deal, announced Sunday in the U.S., calls for Alibaba Group to buy back half of the 40 percent stake that Yahoo owns in the Chinese company for $6.3 billion cash and up to $800 million of Alibaba preferred shares.

After paying taxes, Yahoo expects to pocket about $4.2 billion.

Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse told analysts in a Monday conference call that the company still hasn't determined how it will distribute the Alibaba proceeds after the deal closes within the next six months. For now, the company is stepping up its commitment to buy back its own slumping stock. Yahoo now intends to buy up to $5.5 billion of its shares over an unspecified period of time, up from $500 million previously.

The announcement comes after more than two years of talks held under four different CEOs as Yahoo tried to sell the Alibaba stake to raise money for its turnaround effort. Money from the sale will give Yahoo the financial firepower to return cash to disgruntled shareholders, many of whom are still upset after it squandered an opportunity to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. in May 2008 for $33 per share, or $47.5 billion. Yahoo's stock hasn't traded above $20 since September 2008.

The Alibaba agreement gives Yahoo the rare chance to crow about something that went right after years of management missteps and corporate disarray that has depressed its financial results and stock price. Yahoo's latest crisis cropped up earlier this month when it was revealed the official biography of recently hired CEO Scott Thompson included misinformation about his academic background. The discrepancy culminated in Thompson's abrupt departure last week.

Yahoo is reaping a huge return from the $1 billion investment that it made in Alibaba in 2005. Billions more in cash is expected to flow to Yahoo when it sells another 10 percent of its stake in Alibaba's IPO â€" an event likely to occur by the end of 2015 under the terms of the agreement between the two companies.

"This investment has been a home run to date and our objective is to maximize its value for Yahoo shareholders," Morse said during Monday's conference call.

Yahoo shares gained 18 cents to $15.60 in morning trading on Monday.

The deal, which closes in six months, is good for Yahoo because the company gets a "wad of cash" but still has exposure to fast-growing China, said Napoleon Biggs, head of digital integration at public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard Asia Pacific.

"China for them was like a sore tooth," said Biggs, who has worked in the China Internet and media industry since 1997.

Yahoo's interim CEO Ross Levinsohn said the stake sale provides clarity for Yahoo shareholders. Levinsohn stepped into the CEO role after Thompson stepped down.

Thompson and Morse had been working on a complex deal earlier this year that would have allowed Yahoo to escape taxes, but it fell apart.

Under the new deal, Alibaba Group will have to buy back another 10 percent of Yahoo's stake when it goes public or help Yahoo sell those shares in its IPO. Once Alibaba is public, Yahoo could then sell the rest of its stake in the open market.

The deal gives Alibaba an incentive to complete its IPO before 2016.

Alibaba Chairman and CEO Jack Ma said the deal establishes a "balanced ownership structure that enables Alibaba to take our business to the next level as a public company in the future."

Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba started out as a business-to-business website linking factories in China to buyers around the world. It also operates, the country's version of eBay, and TMall, which brand owners can use to sell directly to consumers.

The relationship between Yahoo and Alibaba began amicably but deteriorated as the Yahoo went through successive CEOs trying to engineer a deal. They also feuded last year after Alibaba spun off its payment service, Alipay, but failed to disclose it right away, rattling Yahoo investors.

Yahoo said at the time the change was necessary because Beijing would only license an electronic payment service wholly owned by Chinese citizens.

By eventually reducing Alibaba's foreign ownership to a minority level, that could help the company if it plans to expand further into e-payments, Biggs said.

Biggs said Ma may be thinking that "I've got the businesses, the consumers, I've got the brands. All I need now is to grow my payment mechanisms."

After the $7.1 billion transaction is completed, Yahoo and Japan's Softbank, which owns about 30 percent of Alibaba, will hold about 50 percent of Alibaba. But the two companies have agreed to cap their collective shareholder voting rights at less than 50 percent, according to the Alizila blog post.

That means Ma will be in the driving seat for any company decisions.

Yahoo and Alibaba also agreed to modify their technology and intellectual property licensing agreements.

Under the changes, Yahoo will grant Alibaba a license to continue using the Yahoo China brand for up to four years. Alibaba will pay Yahoo $550 million and make royalty payments over that period. Yahoo will no longer be restricted from making other investments in China.

Alibaba is in the process of taking Hong Kong-listed unit private. Shareholders will vote Friday on whether the company should buy back the 27 percent it doesn't already own.



Alibaba Group:

Follow Kelvin Chan at

Philips launches new wide screen Full HD LED Monitor

MMD (Multimedia Displays) is a wholly-owned company of TPV established in 2009 through a brand license agreement with Philips, today announced the launch of its new monitor from E-Line series, 273E3LHSB, a 27” wide screen, Full HD with touch control LED monitor in the Middle East region.

Philips 273E3LHSB is equipped with state-of-the-art LED screen technology that offers Full High-Definition widescreen resolution of 1920 x 1080p that allows the best possible picture quality from any format of HD input signal. The new monitor is powered by Philips SmartImage Lite technology that analyzes the content displayed on the screen. Based on a scenario selection, SmartImage Lite dynamically enhances the contrast, color saturation and sharpness of images and videos for ultimate display performance. The monitor’s Touch controls are intelligent, touch sensitive icons that replace protruding buttons that lets the user adjust the monitor to their requirement.

Wing Wang, Product Manager – MEA & Central Asia, MMD, said, “The new 27” wide screen Full HD LED monitor with HDMI, touch control offers unique user experience especially for gamers who demand exceptional graphic quality display and flicker-free pictures. This monitor is a wholesome entertainment package with build-in stereophonic speakers, sharp picture quality, vibrant colours and dynamic contrast and excellent resolution.”

Key features for Philips 273E3LHSB:
- Panel Size: 27 inch / 68.6 cm
- Effective viewing area: 597.6(H) x 336.2(V) mm
- Aspect ratio: 16:9
- SmartResponse (typical): 1 ms (Gray to Gray)
- Response time (typical): 3.5 ms
- Brightness: 300 cd/m²
- Contrast ratio (typical): 1200:1
- SmartContrast: 20,000,000:1
- Pixel pitch: 0.311 x 0.311 mm
- Viewing angle: 178° (H) / 170° (V), @ C/R > 5
- Display colors: 16.7 M
- Signal Input: VGA (Analog ), DVI-D (digital, HDCP), HDMI
- Sync Input: Separate Sync, Sync on Green
- Audio In/Out: Headphone out, PC audio-in
- Color: Carbonite black
- Finish: Texture
- Weight: 6.5 Kg (without stand)

The price for the Philips 273E3LHSB wide screen LED monitor is US$ 349 and it comes with 3 years local warranty. The monitor is available across the Middle East and Africa region.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day after historic IPO, Facebook's Zuckerberg weds

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â€" For Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it was quite a week â€" from birthday, to IPO, to I DO.

A day after the historic Facebook stock offering, Zuckerberg on Saturday wed 27-year-old Priscilla Chan, his girlfriend of nearly a decade, according to a guest authorized to speak for the couple. The person spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

Zuckerberg gave his new bride a ring he had designed with a "very simple ruby" to end an incredibly eventful week, according to the guest.

The couple married at his Palo Alto, Calif. home in front of fewer than 100 stunned guests who thought they would be attending a party to celebrate Chan's graduation from medical school.

On Monday, Zuckerberg turned 28 and Chan graduated from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where she'd studied pediatrics.

Then on Friday, Zuckerberg took his blue-and-white web behemoth public in one of the most anticipated IPOs in Wall Street history.

The seemingly well-coordinated timing was largely a coincidence, the guest said. The wedding had been planned for months and the couple was waiting for Chan to finish medical school, but the date of the IPO was a "moving target" not known when the wedding was set.

Attendees, including Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, were told after they arrived that they were not mere party guests but wedding guests.

"Everybody was shocked," the guest said.

The person would not discuss the names of others who attended to protect their privacy.

Ditching his trademark hoodie and sneakers, Zuckerberg sported a dark blue suit and tie with a white shirt for the ceremony, while Chan wore a traditional white wedding dress with veil and lace.

Food was served family-style and included dishes from the couple's favorite Palo Alto sushi restaurant.

Zuckerberg met Chan at Harvard, where he founded Facebook in a dorm room in 2004, and have been together for more than nine years.

Chan's own Facebook page, which now lists her as married to the founder, said she is a native of Braintree, Mass., and attended high school in nearby Quincy.

She graduated Harvard in 2007 then taught science to fourth and fifth graders at the Harker School in San Jose for two years before starting medical school, according to her profile.

Her page also says she "loves cooking and soft things."

Even after the IPO, Zuckerberg, who grew up in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., remains Facebook's single largest shareholder, with 503.6 million shares, and he controls the company with 56 percent of its voting stock.

The site has grown into a worldwide network of almost a billion people and made its founder, Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2010, one of the most famous businessmen of the Internet age.


Associated Press Writer Andrew Dalton contributed to this story from Los Angeles.

Saudi Arabia has largest smartphone usage in the world

In a recent press release by Saudi Telecom, it was announced that the company has recently launched 68 new smartphones for the kingdom.  Each handset will be part of a ‘commitment contract’ which will allw customers to chose from various packages, focusing on talk time, messages and data services.

What has also come to light from the press release is the result of a recent study conducted by UN which reports that Saudi Arabia has the highest smartphone adoption rate in the world, at 188%.

Press Release

STC Group has crowned its relationship with its subscriber base â€" the largest in the Kingdom â€"by launching a new variety of choices of smartphones, thereby exposing them to the latest of what’s on offer in the world of technology, via smart packages which meet their personal demands and choices on both practical and purchasing power fronts.

A report issued by the United Nations (UNCTAD) positions Saudi Arabia as the number one worldwide in the use of mobile phones, with penetration levels reaching 188%. STC’s leadership in the smartphone category is embodied by its provision of a platform of exclusive and exceptional offers which have gained the satisfaction of both existing and potential subscribers, in equal measure, deepening their confidence in the integrated solutions offered by STC, and continuing its successful journey  in mobilizing its huge resources to achieve international partnerships with the largest and most famous smartphone manufacturers in the world, as well as attracting new partners to share in its success, locally, regionally and globally.

Your Smart Choice with STC… Always

STC’s design of smartphone packages is a ‘commitment contract’ which offers its subscribers smartphones of their choice, in addition to what each bundle offers exclusively, per segment, whether it be a number of call minutes, monthly internet data bundles, or other benefits which allow them to arrange their demands of services according to their daily schedules, either at work, while travelling or even studying.

STC has also offered a number of outstanding packages to their subscribers, including postpaid packages offering free smartphones or at discounted and attractive prices, while enjoying technical applications and call minutes, video, SMS, MMS as well as internet service.

STC’s offices and sales channels have become  non-stop ‘beehives’, devoting all efforts to gain customer satisfaction and instilling confidence in them for an easier life with modern technology, setting up 299 offices working on providing mobile electronic devices of broadband, as well as the latest smartphones from the 10 top companies worldwide (Blackberry, Motorola, Apple, Sony, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, Huawei, Nokia and Acer), and through sixty-eight types of advanced devices  available at STC” offices and outlets in the year 2012.

Smartphones currently represent 34% of the total devices on the STC network; with an increase of 200% in Android operating system devices. STC first deployed premium smartphones through the BlackBerry Porsche. The Group was also the first to launch the 4th generation technology, with growing coverage throughout the Middle East and North Africa. STC was also exclusively the first in enable its subscribers to purchase from the Nokia OVI Store, and adding their purchases on to their monthly bill. In addition, it was the first to provide the Windows operating system in the Saudi market through HTC.

STC Packages” Adapt to subscribers’ changing choices

STC’s unique flexible packages vary in subscription price as per the smartphone device type chosen by subscribers, thus determining the price of the smartphone for each package. Subscribers can select the appropriate device to enjoy a selection of integrated and economical offers to suit their own financial situation. Postpaid packages devices has one package only, and every subscriber can have five devices at a maximum, (for example; a subscriber who has 8 numbers is able to subscribe for only five devices and each of them with one package only).

STC is proud that it does not penalize subscribers who wish to migrate between postpaid packages (Easy, Easy Plus, Zero, Zero Plus) subscribed on the devices, as well as the monthly fees subscription selected. The company has enabled subscribers to monitor their bills and related services through the ‘My STC’ App for all smartphones.

As for after sales services, STC Group continues to provide exceptional services to its subscribers through its service centers located throughout of the Kingdom , operated in conjunction with international partners, offering round the clock and advanced technical and maintenance support.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Facebook stock finishes flat in debut

NEW YORK (AP) â€" In the hours before Facebook's stock began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market for the first time, CEO Mark Zuckerberg reminded the company's 3,500 employees not to get caught up in the hoopla surrounding its long-awaited initial public offering.

"Right now this all seems like a big deal," Zuckerberg said before he pushed a button that rang Nasdaq's opening bell from company headquarters at 1 Hacker Way in Menlo Park, Calif. "Going public is an important milestone in our history. But here's the thing, our mission isn't to be a public company. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected."

Facebook's IPO, it turns out, wasn't as big a deal as expected.

One of the most anticipated IPOs in Wall Street history ended on a flat note Friday, with Facebook's stock closing at $38.23, up 23 cents from Thursday night's pricing.

That means the company founded in 2004 in a Harvard dorm room has a market value of about $105 billion, more than, McDonald's and Silicon Valley icons Hewlett-Packard and Cisco.

It also gave 28-year-old Zuckerberg a stake worth $19,252,698,725.50.

But for many seeking a big first-day pop in Facebook's share price, the increase of six-tenths of one percent was a letdown.

"This is like kissing your sister," said John Fitzgibbon, founder of IPO Scoop, a research firm. "With all the drumbeats and hype, I don't think there'll be barroom bragging tonight."

Added Nick Einhorn, an analyst with IPO advisory firm Renaissance Capital: "It wasn't quite as exciting as it could have been. But I don't think we should view it as a failure."

Indeed, the small jump in price could be seen as an indication that Facebook and the investment banks that arranged the IPO priced the stock in an appropriate range.

It was also good for ordinary investors, who are mostly shut out from the IPO price and have to buy the stock in the open market on day one. They got a chance to buy all day at a price not much above $38.

And it was good for early investors in the company, who owned more than half the 421 million shares made available in the IPO. Had the stock shot to $60 Friday morning, those early investors would have felt they hadn't gotten enough money for their stakes.

The 421 million shares that were sold fetched $16 billion and represented 15 percent of the company's stock. Facebook got $7 billion, and the early investors $9 billion. The other 85 percent of Facebook's stock is owned by Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives, employees and early investors. In comparison, Google offered just 7.2 percent of its stock when it went public in 2004. Its stock rose 18 percent on day one.

Here was Facebook's "timeline" Friday, trading under the symbol "FB" on the Nasdaq Stock Market:

The stock opened at 11:30 a.m. at $42.05, but soon dipped to $38.01. It briefly traded as high as $45 and by noon was at $40.40. It fluttered throughout the afternoon and hugged the $38 mark for much of the final hour, before closing at $38.23.

By the end of the day, about 570 million shares had changed hands, a huge trading volume for any company.

TD Ameritrade reported that in the first 45 minutes of trading, Facebook accounted for a record 24 percent of trades executed by its customers.

By comparison, on its first day back on the stock market, in November 2010, General Motors represented 7 percent of trades on the online brokerage.

Steve Quirk, who oversees trading strategy at TD Ameritrade, said that about 60,000 orders were lined up before Facebook opened.

Technical glitches delayed the start of Facebook's trading by a half-hour. The Securities and Exchange Commission also is investigating problems traders encountered in changing and canceling their orders.

Other social media companies, most of which have gone public in the last year, saw their shares plummet when it became clear what kind of reception Facebook was getting in the public market. Shares of game-maker Zynga Inc. and reviews site Yelp Inc. both hit all-time lows.

The stock market will now begin assigning a dollar value to Facebook based primarily on its financial performance. If Facebook can continue to increase its revenue and profit at the rate it has the past few years, the stock should rise. Google reported strong earnings after it became a public company, and its stock price more than tripled the first year, from $85 to $280.

Facebook's stock price will also depend somewhat on broad economic forces, as well as the whims of investors.

Facebook is one of those rare companies whose IPO transcends Wall Street's money lust. Since its start as a scrappy network for college students, Facebook has come to define social networking by getting its 900 million users around the world to share everything from photos of their pets to their deepest thoughts.

Most tech companies going public want a big rise in their debut to show they're "strong, dynamic companies standing out in the crowd," said Francis Gaskins, president of researcher IPOdesktop, but Facebook already has that image, and so may not care.

Few of the Internet companies to go public recently have been profitable. But Facebook had net income of $205 million in the first three months of 2012, on revenue of $1.06 billion. In 2011, it earned $1 billion on revenue of $3.7 billion, up from earnings of $606 million and revenue of $2 billion a year earlier.

That's a far cry from 2007, when it posted a net loss of $138 million and had revenue of $153 million. The company makes most of its money from advertising. It also takes a cut from the money people spend on virtual items in Facebook games such as "FarmVille."

Facebook's public debut marked a milestone in the history of the Internet. In 1995, Netscape Communications' IPO gave people their first chance to invest in a company whose graphical Web browser made the Internet more engaging and easier to navigate. Its hotly anticipated IPO lit the fuse that ignited the dot-com boom. That explosion of entrepreneurial activity and investment culminated five years later in a devastating bust that obliterated the notion that the Internet had hatched a "new economy."

It took Google Inc.'s IPO in 2004 to prove that an Internet company with a revolutionary idea could be profitable. In the process, the Internet search leader is forcing other industries to adapt to a new order where people have come to expect to be able to find just about anything they want by entering a few words into a box on any device with an Internet connection.

Facebook's IPO almost certainly will enrich other up-and-coming entrepreneurs as Zuckerberg uses the company's cash and stock to buy other startups in an effort to bring in other talented engineers and promising technology. That's what Google has been doing for years. Since it went public in 2004, Google has spent $10.2 billion buying nearly 200 other companies. Those figures don't include Google's pending $12.5 billion acquisition of cellphone maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., which is still awaiting regulatory approval in China.

Zuckerberg's biggest deal so far came when he agreed to buy Instagram, a maker of a popular mobile app for photos, for $1 billion in April. Because most of the deal is being paid for in stock, Instagram is already getting richer. Based on Facebook's current share price, Instagram is in line to receive about $1.2 billion.

Friday's debut, though, resulted in deals worth much less.

Alper Aydinoglu, a DePaul University student who got 50 shares via Etrade at $38, said he was "disappointed with the first day of trading."

His gain on paper: $11.50, but that was before Etrade's standard commission of $9.99.

Aydinoglu still called it an excellent learning opportunity.

"On top of everything, I now have the bragging rights that I participated in one of the most popular IPOs of all time."


AP Technology Writers Michael Liedtke in San Francisco and Peter Svensson in New York, Associated Press Writer Marcus Wohlsen in Menlo Park, Calif., and AP Business Writers Bernard Condon, Pallavi Gogoi and Joseph Pisani in New York contributed to this story.

Friday, May 18, 2012

UK surveillance could yield window into lives

LONDON (AP) â€" British officials have given their word: "We won't read your emails."

But experts say that its proposed new surveillance program, unveiled last week as part of the government's annual legislative program, will gather so much data that spooks won't have to read your messages to guess what you're up to.

The U.K. Home Office stresses that it is not seeking to read the content of every Britons' communications, saying the data it was seeking "is NOT the content of any communication." It is, however, seeking information on who's sending the message, whom it's sent to, where it's sent from, and potentially other details including a message's length and its format.

The government's proposal is just a draft bill, so it could be modified or scrapped. But if passed in its current form, it would put a huge amount of personal data at the government's disposal, which it could potentially use to deduce a startling amount about Britons' private life â€" from sleep patterns to driving habits or even infidelity.

"We're really entering a whole new phase of analysis based on the data that we can collect," said Gerald Kane, an information systems expert at Boston College. "There is quite a lot you can learn."

The ocean of information is hard to fathom. Britons generate 4 billion hours of voice calls and 130 billion text messages annually, according to industry figures. In 2008 the BBC put the annual number of U.K.-linked emails at around 1 trillion. Then there are instant messaging services run by companies such as BlackBerry, Internet telephony services such as Skype, chat rooms, and in-game services liked those used by World of Warcraft.

Communications service providers, who would log the details of all that back-and-forth, believe that the government's program would force them to process petabytes (1 quadrillion bytes) of information every day. It's a mind-bogglingly large amount of data on the scale of every book, every movie, and every piece of music ever released.

So even without opening emails, how much can British spooks learn about who's sending them?


Do you know how fast you were going?

Your phone does.

If you sent a first text from London before stepping behind the wheel, and a second one from a service station outside Manchester only three hours later, authorities could infer that you broke the speed limit to cover the roughly 200 miles which separate the two.

Crunching location data and communications patterns gives a remarkable rich view of a person's lives â€" and their misadventures.

Ken Altshuler, of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, raves about the benefits which smartphones and social media have brought to savvy divorce attorneys. Lawyers don't need sophisticated data mining software to spot evidence of infidelity or hints of hidden wealth when they review phone records or text traffic, he said.

"One name, one phone number that's not on our client's radar, and our curiosity is piqued," he said. The more the communication â€" a late-night text sent to a work colleague, an unexplained international phone call â€" is out of character, "the more of a red flag we see."


The ebb and flow of electronic communication â€"that call to your mother just before bed, that early-morning email to your boss saying you'll be late â€" frames our waking lives.

"You can figure somebody's sleep patterns, their weekly pattern of work," said Tony Jebara, a Columbia University machine learning expert. In 2006, he helped found New York-based Sense Networks, which crunches phone data to do just that.

Jebara said that calls made from the same location between 9 and 5 are a good indication of where a person works; the frequency of email traffic to or from a person's work account is a good hint of his or her work ethic; dramatic changes to a person's electronic routine might suggest a promotion â€" or a redundancy.

"You can quickly figure out when somebody lost their job," Jebara said, adding: "Credit card companies have been interested in that for a while."


Drill down, and communication can reveal remarkably rich information. For example, does office worker A answer office worker B's missives within minutes of the message being sent? Does B often leave colleagues' emails unanswered for hours on end? If so, B probably stands for "boss."

That's an example of what Jebara's Columbia colleagues described as "automated social hierarchy detection," a technique which can infer who gives the orders, who's respected, and who's ignored based purely on whose emails get answered and how quickly. In 2007 four of them analyzed traffic taken from the Enron Corporation's email archive to correctly guess the seniority of several top-level managers.

Intelligence agencies may not need such tools to untangle corporate flowcharts, but identifying ringleaders becomes more important when tracking a suspected terrorist cell.

"If you piece together the chain of influence, then you can find the central authority," he said. "You can figure that out without looking at the content."


Seeing how networks of people communicate isn't just about finding your boss, it's about figuring out who are your friends.

Programs already exist to determine the density of communications â€" something that can identify close groups of friends or family without even knowing who's who. If one user is identified as suspicious, then the users closest to him or her might get a second look as well.

"Let's say we find out somebody in the U.K. is a terrorist," said Kane. "You know exactly who he talks to on almost every channel, so BOOM you know his 10 closest contacts. Knowing that information not only allows you to go to his house, but allows you to go to their houses as well."


Detective work at the stroke of a key is clearly attractive to spy agencies. British officialdom has been pushing for the mass surveillance program for years, but civil libertarians are perturbed, branding the proposal a "snooper's charter."

Kane said that the surveillance regime had to be seen in the context of social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, where hundreds of millions of people were constantly volunteering information about themselves, their friends, their family and their colleagues.

"There's no sense in getting all Big Brother-ish that there are legitimate safeguards in place," he said. "The bottom line is that we're all leaving digital trails, everywhere, all the time. The whole concept of privacy is shifting daily."

Google celebrates birthday of Omar Khayyam

Google today is celebrating Omar Khayyam’s contributions through a doodle that is visible on Persian as well as Middle Eastern domains.

Omar Khayyam is often referred to as a great poet, with his work having been translated into many languages. However, his influence spans far beyond poetry into the fields of mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy. His Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra is considered a key treaty on algebra.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

As Facebook grows, millions say, 'no, thanks'

NEW YORK (AP) â€" Don't try to friend MaLi Arwood on Facebook. You won't find her there.

You won't find Thomas Chin, either. Or Kariann Goldschmitt. Or Jake Edelstein.

More than 900 million people worldwide check their Facebook accounts at least once a month, but millions more are Facebook holdouts.

They say they don't want Facebook. They insist they don't need Facebook. They say they're living life just fine without the long-forgotten acquaintances that the world's largest social network sometimes resurrects.

They are the resisters.

"I'm absolutely in touch with everyone in my life that I want to be in touch with," Arwood says. "I don't need to share triviality with someone that I might have known for six months 12 years ago."

Even without people like Arwood, Facebook is one of the biggest business success stories in history. The site had 1 million users by the end of 2004, the year Mark Zuckerberg started it in his Harvard dorm room. Two years later, it had 12 million. Facebook had 500 million by summer 2010 and 901 million as of March 31, according to the company.

That staggering rise in popularity is one reason why Facebook Inc.'s initial public offering is one of the most hotly anticipated in years. The company's shares are expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on Friday under the ticker symbol "FB". Facebook is likely to have an estimated market valuation of some $100 billion, making it worth more than Kraft Foods, Ford or Disney.

Facebook still has plenty of room to grow, particularly in developing countries where people are only starting to get Internet access. As it is, about 80 percent of its users are outside U.S. and Canada.

But if Facebook is to live up to its pre-IPO hype and reward the investors who are clamoring for its stock this week, it needs to convince some of the resisters to join. Two out of every five American adults have not joined Facebook, according to a recent Associated Press-CNBC poll. Among those who are not on Facebook, a third cited a lack of interest or need.

If all those people continue to shun Facebook, the social network could become akin to a postal system that only delivers mail to houses on one side of the street. The system isn't as useful, and people aren't apt to spend as much time with it. That means fewer opportunities for Facebook to sell ads.

Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, says that new communications channels â€" from the telephone to radio, TV and personal computers â€" often breed a cadre of holdouts in their early days.

"It's disorienting because people have different relationships with others depending on the media they use," Rainie says. "But we've been through this before. As each new communications media comes to prominence, there is a period of adoption."

Len Kleinrock, 77, says Facebook is fine for his grandchildren, but it's not for him.

"I do not want more distractions," he says. "As it is, I am deluged with email. My friends and colleagues have ready access to me and I don't really want another service that I would feel obliged to check into on a frequent basis."

Kleinrock says his resistance is generational, but discomfort with technology isn't a factor.

After all, Kleinrock is arguably the world's first Internet user. The University of California, Los Angeles professor was part of the team that invented the Internet. His lab was where researchers gathered in 1969 to send test data between two bulky computers â€"the beginnings of the Arpanet network, which morphed into the Internet we know today.

"I'm having a 'been-there, done-that' feeling," Kleinrock says. "There's not a need on my part for reaching out and finding new social groups to interact with. I have trouble keeping up with those I'm involved with now."

Thomas Chin, 35, who works at an advertising and media planning company in New York, says he may be missing out on what friends-of-friends-of-friends are doing, but he doesn't need Facebook to connect with family and closer acquaintances.

"If we're going to go out to do stuff, we organize it (outside) of Facebook," he says.

Some people don't join the social network because they don't have a computer or Internet access, are concerned about privacy, or generally dislike Facebook. Those without a college education are less likely to be on Facebook, as are those with lower incomes. Women who choose to skip Facebook are more likely than men to cite privacy issues, while seniors are more likely than those 50-64 years old to cite computer issues, according the AP-CNBC poll.

About three-quarters of seniors are not on Facebook. By contrast, more than half of those under 35 use it every day.

The poll of 1,004 adults nationwide was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications May 3-7 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Steve Jones, a professor who studies online culture and communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says many resisters consider Facebook to be too much of a chore.

"We've added social networking to our lives. We haven't added any hours to our days," Jones says. "The decision to be online on Facebook is simultaneously a decision not to be doing something else."

Jones says many people on Facebook try to overcome that by multitasking, but they end up splitting their attention and engaging with others online only superficially.

Arwood, 47, a restaurant manager in Chicago, says she was surprised when colleagues on an English-teaching program in rural Spain in 2010 opted to spend their breaks checking Facebook.

"I spent my time on break trying to learn more about the Spanish culture, really taking advantage of it," she says. "I went on walks with some of the students and asked them questions."

Kariann Goldschmitt, 32, a music professor at New College of Florida in Sarasota, Fla., was on Facebook not long after its founding in 2004, but she quit in 2010. In part, it was because of growing concerns about her privacy and Facebook's ongoing encouragement of people to share more about themselves with the company, with marketers and with the world.

She says she's been much more productive since leaving.

"I was a typical user, on it once or twice a day," she says. "After a certain point, I sort of resented how it felt like an obligation rather than fun."

Besides Facebook resisters and quitters, there are those who take a break. In some cases, people quit temporarily as they apply for new jobs, so that potential employers won't stumble on photos of their wild nights out drinking. Although Facebook doesn't make it easy to find, it offers options for both deleting and suspending accounts.

Goldschmitt says it takes effort to stay in touch with friends and relatives without Facebook. For instance, she has to make mental notes of when her friends are expecting babies, knowing that they have become so used to Facebook "that they don't engage with us anymore."

"I'm like, 'Hmmm, when is nine months?' I have to remember to contact them since they won't remember to tell me when the baby's born."

Neil Robinson, 54, a government lawyer in Washington, says that when his nephew's son was born, pictures went up on Facebook almost immediately. As a Facebook holdout, he had to wait for someone to email photos.

After years of resisting, Robinson plans to join next month, mostly because he doesn't want to lose touch with younger relatives who choose Facebook as their primary means of communication.

But for every Robinson, there is an Edelstein, who has no desire for Facebook and prefers email and postcards.

"I prefer to keep my communications personal and targeted," says Jake Edelstein, 41, a pharmaceutical consultant in New York. "You're getting a message that's written for you. Clearly someone took the time to sit down to do it."


Associated Press Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius in Washington contributed this report.



Two precious minutes with the Samsung Galaxy SIII

This week I was invited by Samsung to an event where they officially unveiled their latest flagship phone, the Samsung Galaxy SIII. Needless to say, everyone in attendance couldn’t wait to get their hands on this beautiful phone and play around with its new features. I managed to sneak away for a short while and spent a loving two minutes with the phone before I had to surrender it. Here’s a really quick video to preview the Galaxy SIII:

And if that wasn’t enough, here are some quick photos of the phone as well – Samsung have yet to reveal details on pricing or a UAE release date.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Siri still loves Lumia 900, just ask her differently

Apple had rushed to fix an embarrassing goof up by Siri when the voice assistant thought the best smart phone was the Nokia Lumia 900. After Apple’s update, Siri would just reply you’re kidding, right?”, or wait…there are other phones?” when a user would ask what the best smartphone was. But fix Apple how many, Siri still loves the Lumia 900 and would still recommend it you as the best smartphone. You just have to ask her differently…maybe whisper it into her ear so the big angry overlord doesn’t hear it.

As discovered by WMPowerUser, ask Siri, according to customer satisfaction what’s the best smart phone ever”, and she promptly searches Nokia Lumia 900 for you. Its almost endearing.

We wonder how long before Apple attempts to fix this bug”.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Facebook raises IPO price as offering nears

NEW YORK (AP) â€" Facebook on Tuesday increased the price range at which it plans to sell stock to the public, as investor enthusiasm in the offering continued to mount and boost the potential value of the world's most popular social network.

The Menlo Park, Calif. company said in a regulatory filing that it now expects to sell its stock for between $34 and $38 per share, up from its previous range of $28 to $35. At the upper limit of $38 per share, the sale would raise about $12.8 billion.

The IPO is expected to be completed late Thursday and begin trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on Friday under the ticker symbol "FB."

The increased range is a sign of high demand from investors to own a piece of the world's most popular social network. The initial public offering is the most hotly anticipated in years and would value Facebook at more than $100 billion.

Facebook is selling 180 million of its shares in the IPO. Another 157 million shares are coming from existing stockholders, including the company's earliest investors and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Even after the IPO, Zuckerberg will remain Facebook's single largest shareholder. And he will control the company through 57 percent of its voting stock.

The IPO is expected to be the largest ever for an Internet company. It is expected to raise more than 10 times as much as the $1.67 billion raised in Google Inc.'s 2004 IPO.

At a value of $38 per share, the high end of Facebook's expected range, Facebook would generate $6.84 billion on its shares. Existing stockholders would collectively make $5.98 billion.

Facebook has more than 900 million users who log in at least once a month.

Even at the higher price range, it's going to be tough for the company's fans and everyday investors to get in on the IPO. Most of the shares are expected to go to people with connections to the company or large, active accounts with one of the big banks or brokerage firms directly involved in the stock sale.

Morgan Stanley leads the team of 33 underwriters selected for the Facebook offering, followed by JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

The inclusion of online broker E-Trade Financial Corp. as an underwriter was seen as a glimmer of hope that Facebook might make more shares available than usual for retail investors through discount brokerages. But chances of getting any are very slim regardless.

Analysts say there's so much interest in Facebook's stock that some underwriters are closing their books as early as Tuesday. This means they won't be taking any more orders from potential buyers.

In its Tuesday filing, Facebook also adjusted the timetable for finishing its $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, saying it expects the deal to close sometime in 2012. Previously, it had said it expected to complete the deal in the second quarter.

Some have speculated that the acquisition of the photo-sharing network would come under regulatory scrutiny. If the deal doesn't close by Dec. 10, Facebook could have to pay Instagram a breakup fee of $200 million.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Revolving door: Yahoo ushers out another CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â€" Yahoo still has credibility issues, even after casting aside CEO Scott Thompson because his official biography included a college degree that he never received.

The troubled Internet company's next challenge will be convincing its restless shareholders and demoralized employees that the turnaround work started during Thompson's tumultuous four-month stint as CEO won't be wasted.

It won't be an easy task, given that Yahoo Inc. has now gone through four full-time CEOs in a five-year stretch marked by broken promises of better times ahead. Instead, Yahoo's revenue and stock price have sagged during a time when rivals such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. as advertisers spend more money online.

"Yahoo has been floundering for years and it looks like there is going to be at least several more months of indirection now that another CEO is coming in," said Adam Hanft, who runs a consulting firm that specializes in brand reputation and crisis management.

Yahoo's hopes are now resting on Ross Levinsohn as its interim CEO. Levinsohn had a successful stint running Internet services within Rupert Murdoch's media empire at News Corp. before one of Yahoo's former CEOs, Carol Bartz, hired him in November 2010 to help her in her mostly fruitless attempt to fix the company.

Thompson, who was hired as Yahoo's CEO in January to fill a void created by Bartz's firing, had promoted Levinsohn last month to oversee the company's media and advertising services throughout the world.

"This may seem like a great deal of news to digest, but as you are all keenly aware, Yahoo is a dynamic, global company in a dynamic, global industry, so change â€" sometimes unexpected and sometimes at lightning speed â€" is something we will continue to live with and something we should embrace," Levinsohn wrote in a Sunday memo to employees that was provided to The Associated Press.

Levinsohn, 48, plans to address workers at a companywide meeting Monday afternoon.

Yahoo tried to make Levinsohn's job slightly easier by reaching a truce with dissident shareholder Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund manager who exposed the inaccurate information on Thompson's bio and had made it clear he would continue to publicly skewer the company unless he was given a chance to help develop a turnaround strategy.

To placate Loeb, Yahoo is shaking up its board of directors, which has been in a state of flux for several months.

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock and four other directors who had already announced plans to step down at the company's annual meeting later this year are leaving the board immediately. All five of those directors signed off on the hiring of Thompson, a move that made them all look bad by the recent revelation that they didn't catch an inaccuracy circulating for years about his education.

Three of Yahoo's vacated board seats will be filled by Loeb, and two of his allies, former MTV Networks executive Michael Wolf and turnaround specialist Harry Wilson.

Alfred Amoroso, a veteran technology executive who joined Yahoo's board just three months ago, replaces Bostock as chairman.

The reshuffled board will now try to complete a long-delayed deal to sell part of Yahoo's roughly 40 percent stake in China's Alibaba Group, an investment that investors view as the company's most valuable asset. If a deal can be completed, it could generate billions of dollars that could be returned to Yahoo shareholders and ease some of the pressure on Levinsohn.

Loeb, who controls a 5.8 percent stake in Yahoo though his Third Point hedge fund, had been waging a campaign to gain four seats on the company's board. Loeb settled for a compromise and Thompson's departure. The two had a falling out in late March when Thompson told Loeb he wasn't qualified to be on Yahoo's board.

Although Yahoo gave no official explanation for Thompson's abrupt exit, it was clearly tied to inaccuracies that appeared on Thompson's biography on the company's website and in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The bio listed two degrees â€" in accounting and computer science â€" from Stonehill College, a small school near Boston. After discovering Thompson never received a computer science degree, Loeb exposed the fabrication in a May 3 letter to Yahoo's board. The revelation raised questions about why the accomplishment had periodically appeared on his bio in the years while he was running PayPal, an online payment service owned by eBay Inc.

Yahoo initially stood behind Thompson, brushing off the inclusion of the bogus degree as an "inadvertent error," but harsh criticism from employees, shareholders and corporate governance experts prompted the board to appoint a special committee to investigate how the fabrication occurred.

Thompson, 54, spent much of the past week scrambling to save his job. He sent a memo to employees, apologizing for distractions caused by news of the illusory degree and then sought to assure other Yahoo executives that he wasn't the source of the inaccuracy. He blamed a Chicago headhunting firm, Heidrick & Struggles.

In an internal memo last week, Heidrick & Struggles denied Thompson's accusation. "This allegation is verifiably not true and we have notified Yahoo! to that effect," CEO Kevin Kelly wrote to employees. On Sunday, a spokesman for the firm declined to comment.

In a twist, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Thompson had told the board last week that he has thyroid cancer. The diagnosis contributed to his decision to step down, according to the newspaper's unidentified sources.

The flap over the misleading bio elevated the angst in Yahoo just a month after Thompson laid off 2,000 employees, or 14 percent of the workforce, in the biggest payroll purge in the company's history. In recent weeks, Thompson had been drawing up plans to close or sell about 50 of Yahoo's services while also antagonizing much of Silicon Valley with a lawsuit alleging the rapidly growing social network Facebook stole some of its technology from Yahoo.

"In spite of the very bumpy road we've traveled, we are achieving genuine and meaningful successes in the marketplace every day and heading in the right direction," Levinsohn wrote in his Sunday memo.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan thinks Levinsohn's media background may make him better qualified to be Yahoo's CEO than Thompson, whose experience is rooted in electronic commerce.

"Ross Levinsohn is common-sense executive, a pragmatic operator who people love to work for," Rohan said. "He is the right guy for this job."

Yahoo's stock has been sagging since it squandered an opportunity to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. in May 2008 for $33 per share, or $47.5 billion. Yahoo's stock hasn't traded above $20 since September 2008.

The shares ended last week at $15.19, leaving it with a market value of $18.6 billion. That's slightly less than the individual fortunes of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whose company was still smaller than Yahoo when it went public in 2004.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbeg's wealth also could surpass Yahoo's market value depending on the price set in an initial public offering of stock that is expected to be set Thursday.

Yahoo's struggles center on the company's inability to keep up with Google and Facebook in the race for online advertising. Yahoo's annual revenue has fallen from a peak of $7.2 billion in 2008 to $5 billion last year. Over the same period, Google's annual revenue has climbed from $22 billion in 2008 to $38 billion last year. Facebook's annual revenue has increased from $272 million in 2008 to $3.7 billion last year.

"Yahoo has been embattled for such a long time that there are a lot of people prepared to believe the worst about that company," said Post, who specializes in corporate governance and professional ethics. "When you're angry at the management and the board, when nothing's going right and you're losing money, it's understandable that shareholders would adopt an 'off with their head' attitude."


AP Business Writer Christina Rexrode in New York contributed to this story.