Microsoft’s PR machine has sprung a couple of leaks on the eve of the E3 video game mega-conference in Los Angeles: A USA Today report that seems to have since been taken down identified the motion and voice controller previously known as Project Natal as the Kinect. Microsoft later confirmed the moniker. Also, a quickly pulled Italian ad identified a slimmed-down Xbox 360 with a 250gb hard drive.
Walmart has dropped the price of the iPhone 3GS to $97, which is $2 less than Apple charges for the older 3G model. The move has fueled speculation that Apple plans to announce the next-generation iPhone at its developers conference next month. They may as well. It’s not like anybody’s going to be surprised to see it.
Gaming blog VG247 sleuthed a couple of tidbits of Sony’s plans to grab some more money from loyal customers. According to the site’s sources, the company wants to institute a $50 a year premium online service, possibly giving subscribers a downloadable game a month if they pay a monthly fee. Thankfully Sony won’t go the Xbox Live route and gouge players to play online.
This minute’s latest rumor is that the can you hear me now guy could be put to work testing iPhones soon. DigiTimes reports that Apple has placed an order with Taiwan-based Pegatron for CDMA iPhone that could reach up to 10 million units. CDMA devices don’t work on AT&T’s GSM network. Verizon’s network is CDMA.
A store in New York City called Oh Nuts, which apparently sells nuts and nut-based goods, told the blog Search Engine Land that someone from Google showed up and took a series of photos of the interior as part of an upcoming “Google Store Views” service. Google has officially said no comment, so I guess now it’s a waiting game to see if this shows up as an offshoot of Google’s street view offering, or if Oh Nuts reports in the next few days that they’ve had their entire inventory stolen by nut fiends who knew the layout suspiciously well.
You’ve probably seen Google Finance, where each company has its own page made up of content scraped from all over the web. Google is about to launch a similar service for musicians, says the Hollywood Reporter: “The music pages will package images of musicians and bands, album artwork, links to news, lyrics and song previews, along with a way to buy songs.”
For a while now, there have been rumors and speculation that AT&T was considering reducing its data plan by $10 per month in an attempt to be more competitive with other carriers. Today AT&T officially put the kibosh on that scuttlebutt, which is how I write once the cocktail hour kicks in on Friday. Says an AT&T spokesman, “We’ve been very happy with our pricing.”
Leaked photos have surfaced showing off the iPhone’s new firmware upgrades, which include:
- multimedia messaging
- horizontal typing
- video and voice recording an
- a camera autofocus that lets you select your point of focus by tapping your finger on the touch screen
More photos at the Apple 2.0. blog.
All the outrage over Sling Media’s iPhone app—which would have only worked with the latest Slingbox models—may have been moot. Boy Genius Report says they’ve received a tip that AT&T asked Apple to kill the app due to concerns about potential bandwidth drain. Update: JosephFinn points out that the tip is likely fake, as the IP address came from a prison. [IntoMobile]
The iPhone blog says that AT&T is going to start contacting iPhone owners who aren’t using an official iPhone data plan and force them to sign up for one. The crackdown supposedly starts tomorrow in the Atlanta and Austin markets, and expands nationwide by the end of the month.
Yesterday’s post about Borders closing down its unprofitable CD and DVD sections prompted a tip from the owner of a small music label. He says his distributor has already cut off shipments to Borders once for nonpayment (in November 2008), and on Monday the distributor warned labels that they’ll have to agree not to hold him “liable on any future shipments to Borders in case they file for bankruptcy.” Borders’ CFO left in January, which is rarely a good sign for a troubled company. And this morning, the Detroit Free Press notes that the bookseller is facing being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. We may not have to wait long to find out; CEO Ron Marshall is hosting a conference call with analysts and investors next week.
We received this tip from an alleged Borders employee today. According to this person, if you saw some yellow discount tags of 30% off DVDs and CDs in your local Borders store this weekend, it’s a sign that they’re closing out those sections except for top sellers. Expect to see much steeper discounts in the coming weeks. The full tip is copied below.
TechCrunch has published a damning rumor accusing the social music site Last.fm of helping the RIAA find users who downloaded leaked copies of U2’s new album. Relying on a tip, TechCrunch claims that the Last.fm, a subsidiary of CBS, handed over a “giant dump of user data to track down people who are scrobbling unreleased tracks.”
IntoMobile says that there’s a leaked screenshot going around that suggests new pricing due March 1st from T-Mobile. Among the new plans: $50/month for unlimited anytime minutes, and family plans starting at $90/month with additional lines at $40/month. There’s also a rumored $135 credit if you add a line and move a number over from another carrier. Is it true? We’ll know in about a week.
This is rumor only, folks, but a tipster tells us that JC Penney plans on closing 11 stores this year, and that they’re freezing salaries on all employees. The retailer isn’t doing as badly as some of its competitors—it has no debt maturing in 2009, for example, and plans to have $2 billion in cash on hand at the end of this month—but considering CEO Mike Ullman has said he’s planning business conservatively for 2009, it wouldn’t be that surprising if it turns out to be true.