Skype Reaches Nokia Distribution Deal


Internet telephony VoIP company Skype has just announced a new partnership with Nokia to bring Skype preinstalled on the Nokia N97. Skype will also be available on the other N series Nokia handsets. “With more than 400 million Skype users worldwide, the integration of Skype on Nokia Nseries mobile computers is a significant step in bringing converged Internet experiences from the desktop to the world’s most advanced mobile computer,” said Jose-Luis Martinez, Vice President, Nokia Nseries.

Sirius XM Radio Saved As $172M Debt Deadline Approaches


siriusSirius XP Radio was close to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a $172 million debt deadline was approaching. Today, Liberty Media struck a $430 million with Sirius. Under the deal, Sirius XM will receive $280 million, $250 million of which today, at 15% with a December 2012 maturity. In the second and final phase of the plan, Sirius will receive $150 million, in exchange for 12.5 million preferred convertible 40% common stock shares. Liberty Media has also agreed to purchase up to $100 million of existing Sirius outstanding debt. Liberty Media will get two seats on the Sirius board part of the deal. The newly raised capital will be used to pay the current $172 million debt and to support continuing operations.

Obama to Unveil Foreclosure Plan, Banks Halt Foreclosures


bank-of-americaThe Obama Administration is getting ready to unveil a new $50 billion+ plan to halt home foreclosures and to help struggling home owners get lower monthly payments to avoid foreclosure. In 2008, foreclosures were up 81% over 2007, with 2.3 million foreclosed. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday the plan would be designed to help “the 10,000 Americans each day that have their homes foreclosed on, ” The Bank of America along with JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley have agreed to halt foreclosures until March 6, 2009.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said, “We stand ready to work with you…to reduce the incidence of foreclosure and to encourage long-term, sustainable home mortgages,”

Importantly, in 2009 so far, 13 banks have failed in the U.S., including Corn Belt Bank, Riverside Bank, Sherman County Bank, Pinnacle Bank, among others, amid the global financial credit crisis.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Takes on $250M Tiffany & Co Debt


Billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has just purchased $125 million of eight-year bond notes and an additional $125 million in ten-year bond notes from luxury jewelry maker Tiffany & CO., meaning Berkshire Hathaway has effectively taken on $250 million of debt from the company. Both bonds are structured to yield Berkshire 10% According to Merrill Lynch, the average U.S. bond yielded 7.37% in 2008/ Tiffany & Co. says the new proceeds will be used to fund continuing operations and to refinance current debt.

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Apple Introduces File Sharing on MobileMe


mobile-me

Apple has just added the ability to share files on its MobileMe service. File sharing on MobileMe was initially promised by Apple in July 2008, and has now finally arrived. You simply log into your Me.com account, and then you can easily upload and share any file stored on iDisk. You can also set an expiration date for your files and protect select files with a password. You can check out the Apple video tutorial that shows you how easy it is to share your files via e-mail and so on.

BlackBerry Internet Service 2.6 Coming March, BES 5.0 Coming Q2


rimBlackberry Internet Service 2.6 is set to launch in March and will bring many new updates. BIS 2.6 is expected to have better Gmail integration and the ability to use Gmail through IMAP as well. Unfortunately, only one-way sync of your Gmail account is still expected. Blackberry emails accounts (@carrier.blackberry.net) are still going to be capped at 32kb, and there will still be no attachments or HTML support. BIS 2.6 will cost less at $5 per month.

BlackBerry Enterprise Service 5.0 will be released in Q2 2009. Probably the most important new feature in BES 5.0 is the Mobile Voice System, which lets subscribers make cheap calls. Other features include the ability to change folders from your desktop email client from your BlackBerry, and save both emails and attachments to your external storage. BES 5.0 will also include push over-the-air updates for IT administrators.

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Facebook to Revamp Mobile App, Values itself at $3.7 billion


facebookFacebook says 13% of its users use the service from their mobile phones. Facebook is getting ready to launch a significantly revamped mobile app to better accommodate mobile users. One of the most significant features will be the ability to easily sync your Facebook contacts with your mobile phone book and add Facebook profile pictures as your caller ID. However, recently, tech blogger Robert Scoble tried to use Plaxo to export his 5,000 Facebook contacts to Outlook, only to have his account disabled for apparent terms of service violations. Now, this certainly raises ethical questions here, especially because not all people on Scoble’s friend list would want their personal information stored, especially because they don’t even personally know him. Should data portability on the social web be really open? What are the implications for Twitter accounts that have 55,000+ followers (including Robert Scoble with 58,000+ followers), should they be able to mine the data out? Continue Reading

Facebook Paid $65M to ConnectU That Alleged Zuckerberg Stole Idea


Harvard grads Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra originally hired Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, to program their ConnectU social network. They allege Zuckerberg stole the code to create his own social network, Facebook. The law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oilver & Hedges represented ConnectU, and now, the law firm leaked the settlement price with Facebook to have been $65 million in cash and Facebook stock options. The law firm now apparently regrets the release. Facebook did not comment.

Certicom Agrees to RIM Takeover


rimCerticom Board of Directors has now approved RIM’s takeover bid, agreeing to a CND $131 million cash takeover. RIM initially offered Ceritcom $1.50 per share (a 76.5% premium over Certicom’s December 3, 2008 stock price) or about $66 million cash, but the company declined the offer after winning an Ontairo Court injunction on the basis RIM used confidential information in its bid. California based Verisign later offered $2.10 per share, only to be trumped by RIM’s latest $3 winning bid. Certicom still retains the right to cancel the RIM takeover if another company offers another higher bid.

World’s Largest Platinum Maker Anglo Platinum Announces 10,000 Job Cuts


The world’s biggest platinum producer Anglo Platinum has announced staggering job cuts. The company CEO Neville Nicolau said Anglo Platinum would cut up to 8,000 jobs in the first half of 2009, with up to an additional 2,000 jobs by the end of the year thanks to falling prices. The job cuts are mainly coming from mining positions. The company is doing fairly well with record earnings up to $1.7 billion in 2008 from 2007. See the chart below for earnings since 2004. The company said it would maintain expected production platinum levels to about 2.4 million ounces in 2009. Despite keeping production leveled with previous years to about 2.4 million ounces, Platinum demand has fallen because of slower consumer spending in this recession period so it is possible to see 2009 revenue dip for Anglo Platinum.

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