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Source: HTC to unveil smartwatch with Under Armour fitness service integration and flagship M9 phone with Snapdragon 810, 20MP rear camera in March…

HTC Corp. (2498) plans to unveil a marquee phone in March with improved camera and audio features, and its first smartwatch, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the Taiwanese company tries to stem three years of falling sales. Shares rose. Code-named M9, the phone features a 20-megapixel rear camera and an HTC UltraPixel front camera, the person said, asking not to be identified because the details aren’t public. The smartwatch will link with Under Armour Inc.’s (UA) fitness service , building on a partnership announced earlier this month, the person said. HTC will release the products around the time of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where the world’s biggest smartphone makers, including Samsung Electronics Co. and Huawei Technologies Co. , will showcase their models. The smartwatch represents HTC’s latest effort to move beyond the slowing smartphone market after last year’s introduction of the “Re” action camera. HTC doesn’t comment on unreleased products, it said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News today. HTC shares climbed 5.4 percent to NT$155.50 at the close of trading in Taipei, the highest since May 30. Taiwan’s Taiex (TWSE) gauge rose 0.4 percent. Its new phone resembles last year’s M8 in size and design, with gold, gray and silver options, and features Qualcomm Inc.’s eight-core Snapdragon 810 processor, which has advanced video capabilities, the person said.

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AT&T demos LTE Broadcast technology to efficiently deliver video streams in crowded places (Edgar Alvarez/Engadget)

During the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship , AT&T showed off a working demo of a new version of its Long-Term Evolution network: LTE Broadcast . With this, the wireless carrier is hoping to alleviate the congestion problems consumers face when they are in highly crowded places -- such as professional sports stadiums. AT&T's been working on LTE Broadcast for years, but until now has shared few details about it . In 2013, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the company was "all about architecting networks to deliver video," pointing out that the technology would be "mature in scale within the three-year time horizon." We're not quite there yet, but what I saw on Monday leaves me hopeful for the future of smooth, buffer-free television over LTE . Gallery | 14 Photos A look at AT&T's LTE Broadcast For this particular demo, AT&T decided to build a mobile application that streamed two different live feeds related to the College Football Playoff championship game. Channel 1 consisted of the Spidercam angle, which gave you an overhead view at the action, while Channel 2 let you watch and listen to experts and analysts who were on an ESPN set. The video looked great and there were no buffering or stuttering issues to speak of -- AT&T says the demo was sending the connection at a 1 Mbps rate, allowing the stream to be relatively sharp, similar to what you would see over WiFi. In general, LTE Broadcast can deliver data in the same speed range as LTE, since the service uses that same network to fulfill its purpose. The idea here, though, is to maintain a quality consistency regardless of how many people are watching at the same time. On LTE Broadcast, AT&T says it allocates a portion of its spectrum resources to deliver specific content to users, without any compromises (read: crappy video quality). And it can do that by sending the same stream of content to multiple devices all at once, rather than on a one-to-one basis, which is how the current LTE network works. Simply put, you're not sending any data back to AT&T's servers, only receiving it; since LTE Broadcast is designed to push out clear-cut content, AT&T doesn't have to worry about tailoring the experience for every single user. At a place like AT&T Stadium , home of the Dallas Cowboys, this also helps by taking the load off the major network, since those who decide to use LTE Broadcast would be connected to a different cell site. When there are more than 80,000 people with smartphones in one place, that's even better

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N.S.A. Tapped Into North Korean Networks Before Sony Attack, Officials Say (New York Times)

Photo Kim Heung-kwang, a defector, said that in the early 1990s, North Korean computer experts had an idea: Use the Internet to attack the nation’s foes. Credit Jean Chung for The New York Times Continue reading the main story Share This Page Continue reading the main story WASHINGTON — The trail that led American officials to blame North Korea for the destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November winds back to 2010, when the National Security Agency scrambled to break into the computer systems of a country considered one of the most impenetrable targets on earth. Spurred by growing concern about North Korea’s maturing capabilities, the American spy agency drilled into the Chinese networks that connect North Korea to the outside world, picked through connections in Malaysia favored by North Korean hackers and penetrated directly into the North with the help of South Korea and other American allies, according to former United States and foreign officials, computer experts later briefed on the operations and a newly disclosed N.S.A. document . Continue reading the main story Related Coverage Prominent North Korean Defector Recants Parts of His Story of Captivity JAN. 18, 2015 F.B.I. Says Little Doubt North Korea Hit Sony JAN. 7, 2015 U.S. Said to Find North Korea Ordered Cyberattack on Sony DEC. 17, 2014 North Korea Denies Role in Sony Pictures Hacking DEC. 7, 2014 U.S. Weighs Response to Sony Cyberattack, With North Korea Confrontation Possible DEC. 18, 2014 A classified security agency program expanded into an ambitious effort, officials said, to place malware that could track the internal workings of many of the computers and networks used by the North’s hackers, a force that South Korea’s military recently said numbers roughly 6,000 people

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Indie developer of podcast app Overcast details sales stats, reports $15.6K average monthly revenue (Marco Arment/Marco.org)

Overcast’s 2014 sales numbers – Marco.org January 15, 2015 • ∞ http://www.marco.org/2015/01/15/overcast-sales-numbers Nobody ever wants to talk about money. But current and prospective indie app developers could really use more information on the subject. I’ve seen some very informative and helpful posts from developers revealing their revenue numbers, including: Unread Dash for Mac Monument Valley I’ve decided that the potential educational and market-research benefits to others of adding Overcast to the mix will be greater than the risk of people thinking I’m an asshole for doing so. I hope this is helpful to anyone researching the indie iOS market or thinking about entering it. Overcast is a podcast player for iOS that I launched on July 16, 2014 after working on it full-time for about 15 months. It’s a free download with a single non-consumable in-app purchase, “Unlock Everything”, at the $5 tier. It had a perfect launch that far exceeded my expectations — it was the best launch an indie developer could possibly hope for, with tons of great press, a mid-level App Store feature, and thousands of tweets on launch day. For calendar year 2014: 318,996 total downloads. Approximately 200,000 launched the app and got far enough to create an account. 46,940 in-app purchases (14.7%). $164,134 total revenue after Apple’s 30% 1 but before any taxes or expenses. 2 $85,715 received in the first month alone. Per month, excluding the launch month (since it’s an extreme outlier): 27,952 average monthly downloads. 4,569 average monthly in-app purchases (16.3%). $15,684 average monthly revenue

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Genius is beta testing a feature allowing users to annotate any web page (Peter Sterne/Capital New York)

Genius, the Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup that made headlines earlier this week when it poached pop music critic Sasha Frere-Jones from The New Yorker  and hired  New Yorker contributor Christopher Glazek, has quietly made major changes in the last month—bringing on two well-connected millennials to handle P.R. and branding and testing a new feature, currently in beta, that promises to fundamentally transform the service. The company recently hired Emily Segal as creative director and retained Audrey Gelman as a spokeswoman. Segal is a cofounder of the “trend forecasting group” K-Hole, which has among other things the distinction of coining the term “normcore” ( read more here if you must ). Gelman, who has been profiled by The New York Times and The New York Observer , handled the press for Scott Stringer’s successful comptroller campaign two years ago, and inspired Allison Williams’ character on HBO’s “Girls,” now heads the “Millennial Strategy” division at strategic communications firm SKDKnickerbocker, where she is a senior vice president. The company has often received bad press in the past—both as a result of the antics of cofounder Mahbod Moghadam (who was finally ousted from the company last May) and the site's early reputation as a place where white people mock rap lyrics . Genius could certainly use a rebrand and a better media strategy, especially as it prepares to introduce its new web annotation feature to the public—but its next moves could prove much bigger even than that. Genius (formerly Rap Genius, and before that, Rap Exegesis) started life as a lyrics annotation site that let people upload the lyrics to rap songs and then leave notes explaining their meanings. The site soon expanded to other genres of music and then other types of text, such as poetry, speeches, and the like. In May 2013, it launched News Genius , a section of the site in which the text of major news stories could be posted and annotated. Last July, it added the ability to embed annotatable text into other websites. Earlier this month, though, the company quietly introduced what could become its most significant feature—the ability to annotate any page on the web. Currently in beta testing, the new functionality lets users add genius.com/ to the beginning of any URL to access a version of the page on Genius. The page is fully annotatable, so users can highlight and annotate any text on the page and view others’ annotations

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was the top selling game of 2014 as industry sales grew just 1% (Brian Crecente/Polygon)

It appears the only thing people like to do more in video games than run around shooting each other, is to play football or run around on planets shooting Hive scum, and sometimes each other. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was the top selling game of 2014, with Bungie's Destiny taking the number three spot. Both are Activision published titles. Madden NFL 15 was the second most popular, according to NPD's year end report. The sales only include physical sales of games for console, portable and PC. Total video game industry sales, not including digital sales, hit $13.1 billion for the year, up about one percent from 2013's $12.94 billion, according to NPD. While NPD didn't release per console sales for 2014, group analyst Liam Callahan said that "after 14 months on the market, cumulative sales of PS4 and Xbox One exceed the Xbox 360 and PS3 cumulative 14 month total by 65 percent." He added that bundles were a major driver of hardware sales this December. December's top selling game was also Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare , followed by Grand Theft Auto 5 and Madden NFL 15 . Destiny took the number nine spot. The full list of 2014's top games, in order, is below: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Madden NFL 15 Destiny Grand Theft Auto 5 Minecraft Super Smash Bros (for 3DS and Wii U) NBA 2K15 Watch Dogs FIFA 15 Call of Duty Ghosts

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Hutchison owner of mobile operator Three in talks to buy UK’s O2 from Telefonica for $13.6B (Amy Thomson/Bloomberg)

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (13) , the conglomerate controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing , is in early talks to bid for U.K. mobile operator O2, the Sunday Times reported, citing sources it didn’t name. Hutchison, which owns the Three mobile network in the U.K., may pay O2’s owner Telefonica SA (TEF) as much as 9 billion pounds ($13.6 billion) for the carrier, the newspaper said. Telefonica has hired investment bank UBS AG to explore options for O2, according to the Times. The company, which is looking for ways to exit the U.K. to help pay off debts, may also consider selling shares of O2 to the public. Hutchison has hired Moelis & Co (MC) to look for possible deals in the U.K., the newspaper said. The U.K. is primed for more deals as mobile operator EE holds talks to merge with BT Group Plc, the largest fixed-line company, leaving smaller carriers looking for ways to compete. O2 had also been in talks about a combination with BT, and was left out after the former U.K. phone monopoly chose its bigger rival. Li is consolidating his holdings, which range from Asian real estate to telecommunications businesses across Europe, and is making more acquisitions outside of his home market. He bought Telefonica’s Irish unit for as much as 850 million euros ($980 million) to combine with Three Ireland. Spokesmen for Hutchison and O2 didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg calls and e-mails seeking comment.

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Hutchinson, owner of mobile operator Three in talks to buy UK’s O2 from Telefonica for $13.6B (Amy Thomson/Bloomberg)

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (13) , the conglomerate controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing , is in early talks to bid for U.K. mobile operator O2, the Sunday Times reported, citing sources it didn’t name. Hutchison, which owns the Three mobile network in the U.K., may pay O2’s owner Telefonica SA (TEF) as much as 9 billion pounds ($13.6 billion) for the carrier, the newspaper said. Telefonica has hired investment bank UBS AG to explore options for O2, according to the Times. The company, which is looking for ways to exit the U.K. to help pay off debts, may also consider selling shares of O2 to the public. Hutchison has hired Moelis & Co (MC) to look for possible deals in the U.K., the newspaper said. The U.K. is primed for more deals as mobile operator EE holds talks to merge with BT Group Plc, the largest fixed-line company, leaving smaller carriers looking for ways to compete.

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Uber Wants to Create 50,000 Jobs, Take 400,000 Cars Off the Road in Europe This Year (Ina Fried/Re/code)

Uber chief Travis Kalanick said he wants to expand operations in Europe and, in the process, create 50,000 jobs and take 400,000 personal vehicles off the road. Kalanick said the ride-sharing service isn’t opposed to regulation, but wants “progressive regulation” that promotes safe and affordable rides and generates tax revenue without limiting competition. Cities around the globe have been going after Uber and other services, using a mix of existing regulations and new laws. “We want to make 2015 the year where we establish a new partnership with (European Union) cities,” Kalanick said, speaking Sunday at the DLD Conference in Munich. Uber is coming under increased scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators around the globe . The company was hit with a cease and desist in Madrid, Spain; a shutdown order in Bangkok, Thailand; a ban on unlicensed taxi drivers in Beijing, China;  and a ban in Delhi, India, where an Uber driver was arrested and charged with rape, kidnapping and intimidation of a 25-year-old passenger . Just last week South Carolina issued a cease and desist order, ordering the company to halt operations. Antiquated laws around the globe are preventing safe, affordable rides, Kalanick said, highlighting a few particularly egregious statutes, such as one in South Korea that allows foreigners only to take a chauffeured car. “If you are a Kroean, it is illegal for you to have a nice ride that you paid a fair price for.” Instead, Kalanick argued in favor of more modern regulations that still promote safety, competition and tax revenue. Kalanick shared some new stats, noting that 1.6 million people have taken an Uber in its four and a half years of operation, creating the equivalent of 7,500 full-time jobs. In New York, the company has served 1.9 million riders in three years and created the equivalent of 13,750 jobs. In London, there have been more than 900,000 riders and the creation of the equivalent of 7,800 jobs. Kalanick said that the company can now meet with cities and promise to create the equivalent of 10,000 jobs in four years. “We’re starting to hit that inflection point,” he said. Kalanick began his talk, sharing the story of how Uber was born.

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KGI: Apple likely to launch simple stylus to enhance upcoming 12.9-inch iPad user experience (Blastdoor/AppleInsider)

Breaking By Katie Marsal Sunday, January 18, 2015, 06:04 am PT (09:04 am ET) Apple is likely to launch a hardware stylus to enhance its upcoming 12.9-inch iPad user experience, according one well-place industry analyst with a strong track record in predicting the company's next product placements. The iPad Air is currently Apple's largest tablet with a 9.7-inch display. In a report issued last week and obtained for the first time Sunday by AppleInsider , well-regard analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said numerous stylus-related patents filed by the Cupertino-based company lead him to believe it will launch a stylus in the second quarter of this year to improve the user experience of its much rumored 12.9-inch iPad. "Given that it's more precise than a person's fingers, a stylus can be more convenient to use than the combination of keyboard and mouse in some cases," said Kuo. "Therefore, we believe Apple's stylus will improve the user experience of 12.9-inch iPad." Kuo, who has a fairly reliable track record in predicting Apple's future product directions did not cite any particular source for the rumor outside of Apple's patent filings, which is a bit unusual for the analyst, known to have close ties to people familiar with Apple's manufacturing partners. As most users likely won't need a stylus initially, the analyst believes Apple could launch the accessory as an optional add on at first: "Coupled with its unfavorable cost structure, high selling prices may turn consumers off if the 12.9-inch iPad is always bundled with it. We therefore expect the stylus to be an optional accessory before sufficient user feedback is received." He also does not expect the stylus to feature many bells and whistles this year, such as a built-in gyroscope accelerometer. However, he said 3D handwriting will be enabled in future models. "The addition of a gyroscope accelerometer to a stylus allows users to write not only on the display, but also on other hard surfaces and even in the air," he said. "While this is a fantastic application for a stylus, we think the required software and hardware is not fully developed yet. Hence, we don't expect Apple's stylus to support 3D handwriting in 2015." Similarly, Kuo said that while wireless charging would be convenient, he see little likelihood of it being implemented for the forthcoming stylus given the higher cost and difficult antenna design

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KGI: Apple likely to launch simple stylus to enhance upcoming 12.9-inch iPad user experience (Katie Marsal/AppleInsider)

Breaking By Katie Marsal Sunday, January 18, 2015, 06:04 am PT (09:04 am ET) Apple is likely to launch a hardware stylus to enhance its upcoming 12.9-inch iPad user experience, according one well-place industry analyst with a strong track record in predicting the company's next product placements. The iPad Air is currently Apple's largest tablet with a 9.7-inch display. In a report issued last week and obtained for the first time Sunday by AppleInsider , well-regard analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said numerous stylus-related patents filed by the Cupertino-based company lead him to believe it will launch a stylus in the second quarter of this year to improve the user experience of its much rumored 12.9-inch iPad. "Given that it's more precise than a person's fingers, a stylus can be more convenient to use than the combination of keyboard and mouse in some cases," said Kuo. "Therefore, we believe Apple's stylus will improve the user experience of 12.9-inch iPad." Kuo, who has a fairly reliable track record in predicting Apple's future product directions did not cite any particular source for the rumor outside of Apple's patent filings, which is a bit unusual for the analyst, known to have close ties to people familiar with Apple's manufacturing partners. As most users likely won't need a stylus initially, the analyst believes Apple could launch the accessory as an optional add on at first: "Coupled with its unfavorable cost structure, high selling prices may turn consumers off if the 12.9-inch iPad is always bundled with it. We therefore expect the stylus to be an optional accessory before sufficient user feedback is received." He also does not expect the stylus to feature many bells and whistles this year, such as a built-in gyroscope accelerometer. However, he said 3D handwriting will be enabled in future models. "The addition of a gyroscope accelerometer to a stylus allows users to write not only on the display, but also on other hard surfaces and even in the air," he said. "While this is a fantastic application for a stylus, we think the required software and hardware is not fully developed yet.

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