Saturday, March 15, 2014

Social Media Weibo's in China plans an IPO in America

Weibo, the Twitter of China, is planning an IPO in the United States, letting American investors jump on the Chinese social media bandwagon.
Here’s the IPO filing, with plenty of detail worth reading.
One point that really sticks out is listed among the risk factors facing the company. To be fair, companies are inclined to throw in the entire kitchen sink of imaginable risks when listing these factors — Chipotle recently cited global warming as a potential threat to its guacamole supply — but they always make for a revealing read.
In this case, it’s as straightforward a description of Chinese internet censorship as you’re likely to get from a major Chinese company. Here it is, emphasis ours:
Regulation and censorship of information disseminated over the internet in China may adversely affect our business and subject us to liability for information displayed on our platform.
The PRC government has adopted regulations governing internet access and the distribution of information over the internet. Under these regulations, internet content providers and internet publishers are prohibited from posting or displaying over the internet content that, among other things, impairs the national dignity of China, is reactionary, obscene, superstitious, fraudulent or defamatory, or otherwise violates PRC laws and regulations. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the revocation of licenses to provide internet content and other licenses and the closure of the concerned websites. The website operator may also be held liable for such censored information displayed on or linked to the website.
In addition, the MIIT has published regulations that subject website operators to potential liability for content displayed on their websites and for the actions of users and others using their systems, including liability for violations of PRC laws prohibiting the dissemination of content deemed to be socially destabilizing. The Ministry of Public Security has the authority to order any local internet service provider to block any internet website at its sole discretion. From time to time, the Ministry of Public Security has stopped the dissemination over the internet of information which it believes to be socially destabilizing. The State Administration for the Protection of State Secrets is also authorized to block any website it deems to be leaking state secrets or failing to meet the relevant regulations relating to the protection of state secrets in the dissemination of online information.
Although we attempt to monitor the content posted by users on our platform, we are not able to effectively control or restrict content (including comments as well as pictures, videos and other multimedia content) generated or placed on our platform by our users. In March 2012, we had to disable the Comment feature on our platform for three days to clean up feeds related to certain rumors. To the extent that PRC regulatory authorities find any content displayed on our platform objectionable, they may require us to limit or eliminate the dissemination of such information on our platform. Failure to do so may subject us to liabilities and penalties and may even result in the temporary blockage or complete shutdown of our online operations.
In addition, the Judicial Interpretation on the Application of Law in Trial of Online Defamation and Other Online Crimes jointly promulgated by the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate, which became effective on September 10, 2013, imposes up to a three-year prison sentence on internet users who fabricate or knowingly share defamatory false information online. The implementation of this newly promulgated judicial interpretation may have a significant and adverse effect on the traffic of our platform and discourage the creation of user generated content, which in turn may impact the results of our operations and ultimately the trading price of our ADSs.
Although our active user base has increased over the past several years, regulation and censorship of information disseminated over the internet in China may adversely affect our user experience and reduce users’ engagement and activities on our platform as well as adversely affect our ability to attract new users to our platform. Any and all of these adverse impacts may ultimately materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Android Powered Nokia Mobile in Windows Clothing Coming Soon

Reports about Finnish multinational communications corporation Nokia entering Android market with their Android Phones have been doing rounds for quite some time. Recently the topic about Nokia launching an Android powered phone with Windows theme became even more talked about, when the Wall Street Journal confirmed that Nokia would unveil an Android powered phone at Mobile World Congress tradeshow at the end of the month.

According to the sources, the Android powered Nokia phones would come preloaded with Microsoft and Nokia services. An interesting feature to watch out is the Nokia Android app store, rather than the conventional Google software and Google’s Play store. This would be the first step towards challenging the supremacy of Google pay store. Newspaper sources have confirmed that the handset is going to be unveiled later this month at Barcelona Mobile World Congress tradeshow and speculations about the price remain a mystery.

There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered, and everyone is really confused about few questions making rounds in everyone’s mind. Most unpredictable part is the Nokia-Microsoft $7.2 Billion deal. Reports about Microsoft acquiring Nokia for $7.2 Billion were earlier protected by small shareholder, but with 99.7% investors voting in favor, the deal was set. The question that arises is that why would the Microsoft, which has its own mobile platform, sanction its soon to be mobile making division to build an Android-powered device?

Finland based Nokia, reported losses of more than 5 billion euros over nine quarters as Elop’s comeback efforts failed to eat into the dominance of Apple (AAPL) and Google’s Android platform in the Smartphone market. It is important to note that the stock has lost more than 80 percent in the five years through yesterday. Nokia Lumia with record sales of 8.8 million Lumia Smartphone in the third quarter of the year and 30 million Lumia devices during in the whole of 2013 is the 90 contributor to the Nokia’s earnings.

Recently Google announced that they have a recorder 900M active Android activations in May last year and expected to break the billion mark by the end of this year as the platform continues to expand to a new device types to fuel further growth. Keeping in mind such figures, it is difficult to understand the strategy of Microsoft.

With the announcement of an Android Operating System phone in windows skin, Nokia has created quite a buzz in the market. No doubt Windows phone are good enough to dominate the market, but there is a need for better growth strategy. However, packing Windows skin with Android operating system is really intelligent move. It would be really interesting to watch out for the device to be released by the end of this month and to check out if the phone will live up to the expectations and hype generated.

Source: Tech Crunch

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Miley Cyrus Laywers Cuts off "Flying Cyrus" Wings

Flying Cyrus – Wrecking Ballgame is one of the most popular iOS games of the recent times. Currently, ranking as the fifth most popular free iPhone application in the U.S., from the iTunes App Store, it is very similar to the irritatingly difficult and yet very popular “Flappy Bird” app. According to the latest reports Israeli App designer company Talo Games has been asked to remove the game Flying Cyrus by Miley’s legal team for unauthorized use of celebrity’s name and trademarks.

Flying Cyrus closely resembles the viral hit maker Flappy Bird that was pulled off by its creator. Ever since the Flappy Bird was pulled off the App store, several clone Apps have hit the App store’s top charts filling the market with the alternatives for the frustrating addictive game. Making use of the popular Flappy bird concept, Talo Game’s introduced Flying Cyrus in which the flying bird was replaced by a floating head resembling Miley, bouncing between the wrecking balls instead of green pipes in the case of Flappy Bird app.

According to official sources Flying Cyrus App has reached almost 5 million downloads since its release in the mid of February and efforts are on to resolve the complaint from Miley’s lawyers and reach a settlement. Talo Games has denied the claims and emphasizing on freedom of expression Talo Game’s legal representative has termed it as a parody and urged Miley’s legal team that there is nothing to be upset about. In the past, we have witnessed several such parodies that at times went un-noticed, but most of thee times there was a controversy adding on to the business. Ever since the reports of legal action became public, Flying Cyrus has witnessed a tremendous increase in number of downloads and is gaining tremendous popularity.

Concept of the game is same as that of Flappy Bird with the small bird being replaced by a floating blonde head and green pipes with wrecking balls. User has to move past these wrecking balls which are not very easy to achieve and the game is high on frustration level and difficulty also. Yet, people seem to like the game with added celebrity effect. As for now, efforts are on to reach a mutual understanding, but the result is still to be determined. Meanwhile, the game is topping charts being on the top spot as the lawyers try to sort out the situation. However, if the game is put off the App store or drawn away just like Flappy Bird, there are still plenty of options available for the games to choose from.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Apple Inc. after Steve Jobs

Shortly after Tim Cook succeeded Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple AAPL -0.27% in August 2011, he told a confidant that he got up every morning reminding himself just to do the right thing—and not to think about what Steve would have done.
But Jobs's ghost loomed everywhere after he died from pancreatic cancer two months later. Obituaries of Apple's visionary founder blanketed the front pages of newspapers and websites. TV stations ran lengthy segments glorifying the changes he brought to the world.
In New York, publisher Simon & Schuster rushed out Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs a month early—with a sleek, Apple-esque cover featuring a photo blessed by the late CEO. Apple chose the same image as the tribute photo on its home page. The photo was so quintessentially Jobsian that his friends and colleagues marveled at how he still seemed to be orchestrating the narrative from beyond the grave.
Even the ritual remembrances unfolded as though Jobs had staged them himself. A memorial service on a Sunday evening at Stanford University was organized by his longtime event planner, and the guest list read like a Who's Who of notables in Jobs's life: Bill GatesLarry PageRupert Murdoch and the Clinton family, among others. Joan Baez, Jobs's onetime girlfriend, sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Bono performed Bob Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand." Yo-Yo Ma brought his cello and played Bach—a personal request from Jobs before his death. Jobs was gone but not gone. Somehow he had transcended death to obsess over the launch of one last product: his own legacy.
Tim Cook, whom Jobs had personally picked as Apple's new CEO, was at the service, but attendees gave the former chief operating officer little thought. Even as he took control of Apple's empire, Cook couldn't escape his boss's shadow. How could anyone compete with a visionary so brilliant that not even death could make him go away?
The genius trap had long been set for Jobs's successor. Apple had been defined by him for more than a decade. Design, product development, marketing strategies and executive appointments—all hinged on his tastes. Apple's accomplishments weren't Jobs's alone, but he had taken credit for most of them, which further fed his legend. One employee even owned a car with the vanity plate "WWSJD": What Would Steve Jobs Do?
The next CEO didn't have the quasi-religious authority that Jobs had radiated. Cook's every decision would be examined by current and former employees and executives, investors, the media and Apple's consumers. He would also have to contend with the sky-high expectations that Jobs had conditioned the public to have for Apple.
Cook was a seasoned businessman and arguably a better manager than Jobs. He was organized, prepared and more realistic about the burdens of running a company of Apple's size. But no one could beat Jobs at being Jobs—especially Cook, his polar opposite.
Tim Cook and Steve Jobs at an Apple news conference in 2007 Corbis
If Jobs was the star, Cook was the stage manager. If Jobs was idealistic, Cook was practical. But without Jobs, Cook had no counterweight to his dogged pragmatism. Who would provide the creative sparks?
The succession was complicated by the fact that no one knew who Cook really was. The new CEO was a mystery. Some colleagues called him a blank slate. As far as anyone could tell, Cook had no close friends, never socialized and rarely talked about his personal life.
The quiet, self-contained Cook grew up as the second of three brothers. In his early years, the family lived in Pensacola, Fla.; his father worked as a shipyard foreman, and his mother was a homemaker. They later moved to Robertsdale, Ala., a small, predominantly white town near the Gulf of Mexico that was quiet, stable and safe. In high school, he was voted "most studious." He represented his town at Boys State, an American Legion mock legislature program, and won an essay contest organized by the Alabama Rural Electric Association on the topic of "Rural Electric Cooperatives—Challengers of Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow." Outside of class, Cook was appointed the business manager of the yearbook because he was meticulous and good with numbers.
Cook began his career at IBM IBM -0.05% after graduating from Auburn University with a degree in industrial engineering. Later he added an M.B.A. from Duke. After 12 years, he moved to a small Colorado computer reseller called Intelligent Electronics Inc., where he nearly doubled the firm's revenues. He was plucked by Compaq and moved to Houston. One day a headhunter called: Apple was looking for a senior vice president of world-wide operations. "Why don't you come and meet Steve Jobs?" the recruiter asked.
Cook joined Apple's executive team in the spring of 1998, while the company was in the throes of restructuring and desperate for a capable executive who could make Apple's manufacturing process more efficient. Unlike his predecessors, who sat with the operations team, Cook asked for a small office cater-cornered to Jobs's on the executive floor. It was a shrewd strategy—staying close to the boss to be attuned to his thinking.
From the start of his Apple tenure, Cook set colossally high expectations. He wanted the best price, the best delivery, the best yield, the best everything. "I want you to act like we are a $20 billion company," he told the procurement team—even though Apple then had only about $6 billion in annual revenues and was barely eking out a profit. They were playing in a new league now.
To some, Cook was a machine; to others, he was riveting. He could strike terror in the hearts of his subordinates, but he could also motivate them to toil from dawn to midnight for just a word of praise.
Those who interacted only passingly with Cook saw him as a gentle Southerner with an aura reminiscent of Mister Rogers. But he wasn't approachable. Over the years, colleagues had tried to engage him in personal conversations, with little success. He worked out at a different gym than the one on Apple's campus and didn't fraternize outside of work.

Apple under Jobs was a roller coaster, but Cook's operations fief was orderly and disciplined. Cook knew every detail in every step of the operations processes. Weekly operations meetings could last five to six hours as he ground through every single item. His subordinates soon learned to plan for meetings with him as if they were cramming for an exam. Even a small miss of a couple of hundred units was examined closely. "Your numbers," one planner recalled him saying flatly, "make me want to jump out that window over there."
Years earlier, when Apple was about to ship its movie-editing software, iMovie, Jobs wanted his executives to test it out by making home movies. Cook made his about house hunting and how little one got for one's money in the late 1990s in Palo Alto real estate. While amusing, the movie revealed nothing about him.
Cook had made a particular point of tackling Apple's monstrous inventory, which he considered fundamentally evil. He called himself the "Attila the Hun of inventory."
Meetings with Cook could be terrifying. He exuded a Zenlike calm and didn't waste words. "Talk about your numbers. Put your spreadsheet up," he'd say as he nursed a Mountain Dew. (Some staffers wondered why he wasn't bouncing off the walls from the caffeine.) When Cook turned the spotlight on someone, he hammered them with questions until he was satisfied. "Why is that?" "What do you mean?" "I don't understand. Why are you not making it clear?" He was known to ask the same exact question 10 times in a row.
Cook also knew the power of silence. He could do more with a pause than Jobs ever could with an epithet. When someone was unable to answer a question, Cook would sit without a word while people stared at the table and shifted in their seats. The silence would be so intense and uncomfortable that everyone in the room wanted to back away. Unperturbed, Cook didn't move a finger as he focused his eyes on his squirming target. Sometimes he would take an energy bar from his pocket while he waited for an answer, and the hush would be broken only by the crackling of the wrapper.
Even in Apple's unrelenting culture, Cook's meetings stood out as harsh. On one occasion, a manager from another group who was sitting in was shocked to hear Cook tell an underling, "That number is wrong. Get out of here."
Cook's quarterly reviews were especially torturous because Cook would grind through the minutiae as he categorized what worked and what didn't, using yellow Post-its. His managers crossed their fingers in the hopes of emerging unscathed. "We're safe as long as we're not at the back of the pack," they would say to each other.
Cook demonstrated the same level of austerity and discipline in his life as he did in his work. He woke up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. and hit the gym several times a week. He ate protein bars throughout the day and had simple meals like chicken and rice for lunch.
His stamina was inhuman. He could fly to Asia, spend three days there, fly back, land at 7 a.m. at the airport and be in the office by 8:30, interrogating someone about some numbers.
Cook was also relentlessly frugal. For many years, he lived in a rental unit in a dingy ranch-style building with no air conditioning. He said it reminded him of his humble roots. When he finally purchased a house, it was a modest 2,400-square-foot home, built on a half-lot with a single parking spot. His first sports car was a used Porsche Boxster, an entry-level sports car that enthusiasts called the "poor man's Porsche."
Even his hobbies were hard-core: cycling and rock climbing. During vacations, he never ventured far. Among his favorite spots were Yosemite and Utah's Zion National Park.
Cook placed Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. among his heroes, and photos of both men hung in his office. In a statement that hinted at how Cook viewed his relationship with Jobs, he said that he admired the way RFK had been comfortable standing in his brother's shadow. The martyred senator embodied everything that Cook strove to be—hardworking, principled and charitable.
As tough as Cook was reputed to be, he was also generous. He gave away the frequent-flier miles that he racked up as Christmas gifts, and he volunteered at a soup kitchen during the Thanksgiving holidays. He had also participated in an annual two-day cycling event across Georgia to raise money for multiple sclerosis; Cook had been a supporter since being misdiagnosed with the disease years before. "The doctor said, 'Mr. Cook, you've either had a stroke, or you have MS,' " Cook told the Auburn alumni magazine. He didn't have either. His symptoms had been produced from "lugging a lot of incredibly heavy luggage around."
In August 2011, a few months before Jobs died, Cook sent his first email as CEO to employees. "I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change," he wrote. "Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA." He added, "I am confident our best years lie ahead of us and that together we will continue to make Apple the magical place that it is." He signed the memo simply, "Tim."
After Jobs's death, Apple's employees rallied around Cook. But privately, many were anxious. Employees in departments that had heretofore had little to do with Cook worried about how their jobs might change. The operations team, familiar with his tough management style, worried about life becoming even more intense.
In his first days as CEO, Cook made two key moves. First, he promoted Eddy Cue, Apple's enormously popular vice president for Internet services. Cue had been Jobs's guy, managing the iTunes group and eventually all of Apple's Internet services. He was Jobs's deal maker as well, negotiating with music labels, movie studios, book publishers and media companies. When Cook finally made him senior vice president, it generated goodwill inside and outside the company—and turned an important Jobs loyalist into a key Cook ally.
Cook's second decision was to start a charity program, matching donations of up to $10,000, dollar for dollar annually. This too was widely embraced: The lack of an Apple corporate-matching program had long been a sore point for many employees. Jobs had considered matching programs particularly ineffective because the contributions would never amount to enough to make a difference. Some of his friends believed that Jobs would have taken up some causes once he had more time, but Jobs used to say that he was contributing to society more meaningfully by building a good company and creating jobs. Cook believed firmly in charity. "My objective—one day—is to totally help others," he said. "To me, that's real success, when you can say, 'I don't need it anymore. I'm going to do something else.' "
The moves signaled a shift to a more benevolent regime. Though still shuttered to the outside eye, Apple felt more open internally. The new CEO communicated with employees more frequently via emails and town-hall meetings. Unlike Jobs, who always ate lunch with the design guru Jonathan Ive, Cook went to the cafeteria and introduced himself to employees he didn't know, asking if he could join them. Without Jobs breathing down their necks, the atmosphere was more relaxed. Cook was a more traditional CEO who infused Apple with a healthier work environment.
Cook proved a methodical and efficient CEO. Unlike Jobs, who seemed to operate on gut, Cook demanded hard numbers on projected cost and profits. Whereas Jobs had reveled in divisiveness, Cook valued collegiality and teamwork. Cook was also more visible and transparent with investors.
Not everyone was so enamored. The changes Cook made were perceived as signs of increasing stodginess. The yearning for more subversive days was also palpable. Skeptics soon began expressing doubts about Apple's future, especially after the rocky launch of Siri, its virtual personal-assistant feature.
"Without the arrival of a new charismatic leader, it will move from being a great company to being a good company," George Colony, the CEO of technology research firmForrester ResearchFORR -0.08% wrote in a blog. "Like Sony6758.TO +1.31%Polaroid, Apple circa 1985, and DisneyDIS +0.41% Apple will coast and then decelerate."
Above it all, the specter of Steve Jobs still hovered—somewhere beyond reproach and accountability, beyond the tangle of human fallibility. His successors remained stuck here on Earth.
Ms. Kane is a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal. This piece is adapted from her new book "Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs," which will be published on March 18 by HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins.

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