BlackBerry teams up with Foxconn for budget smartphones as sales continue to plunge – Blackberry’s new interim chief John Chen has just got a rude wake-up call: the company sold only 1.9 million smartphones in Q1 compared to 3.7 million last quarter, and lost $4.4 billion. Much of that can be chalked up to a massive $2.6 billion loss on BlackBerry 10 devices and other associated BB10 charges.
Google sees more government takedown requests than ever, especially in Turkey – Government requests to remove content from Google continued to rise in the first half of this year, the company’s transparency report shows. Data covering January to June of 2013 shows a total of 3,846 orders or requests from governments to remove information, covering 24,737 pieces of data worldwide. Numbers have been growing steadily since Google started publishing the report in 2010; in the last half of 2012, it received 2,289 requests to remove 24,191 blogs, videos, or other pieces of information.
New leaks show NSA spying on European regulators and charities – New leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal an unexpected list of surveillance targets for the agency, including European economic regulators with no obvious connection to US national security. European Commission vice president Joaquín Almunia was one such target, who was surveilled his tenure overseeing the European Union’s economic, financial and monetary affairs. After Alumnia took authority over the commission’s antitrust office, he would go on to lead antitrust cases against Microsoft, Intel, and Google.
YotaPhone review: LCD on the front, E Ink on the back, unique all over – We’ve long pondered the possibility of an e-ink phone. One that offers enough battery life to get us to the end of the day, or maybe even the End of Days, simply by being less reliant on the power-draining frivolity of an LCD or AMOLED panel. What we didn’t envision, though, was that the first mass-produced attempt at such an idea would come from a Russian company we’d never heard of, or that it would take the particularly unusual form of the YotaPhone — a device that does many things differently, not least in having a curved E Ink panel on its rear side. As you’re about to see, a lot of these two-faced ideas have potential, but some of them need some work — a lot of work, in fact — before they’re ready for prime time.
‘Star Wars’ launches official Tumblr, promises no cat videos – Disney’s huge marketing push in the run-up to Episode VII, due out in December 2015, is still chugging along. According to an announcement on Twitter, Star Wars now lives on Tumblr. The currently sparse page promises to include content such as concept art, comic strips, behind-the-scenes footage, and obviously GIFs. There won’t be any cat videos, but there may be “a nexu or two.” The new account joins the Star Wars Instagram, which went live earlier this month, in providing fans content delving deep into the franchise’s history.
WhatsApp now has over 400 million monthly users – Messaging apps have exploded in popularity this year, and few are growing faster than WhatsApp. The global messaging phenomenon announced today that it has reached a significant milestone: 400 million active users each month, with 100 million of them joining in the last four months alone. “We’ve arrived at this point without spending a dollar on targeted ads or big marketing campaigns,” co-founder Jan Koum crowed in a blog post. “We’re here because of all the people who share their WhatsApp stories with co-workers, friends, and loved ones.”
HP Chromebook 11 now ships with an all-new charger after official recall – A month after HP and Google put the kibosh on Chromebook 11 sales due to overheating chargers, and the laptop is now available with a brand new power adapter. According to 9to5Google, it looks like a smaller version of the one for the Pixel except it has a micro-USB tip instead.
J.K. Rowling is working on a play about Harry Potter’s early life – If seven books and eight films aren’t enough to satiate Harry Potter fans, author J.K. Rowling has some good news: she’s working on a play that will explore the early life of the titular boy wizard. The project — which will see Rowling partner with veteran stage producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender — is still in the early stages, with no writer or director on board. Rowling will serve as co-producer (she won’t be writing the script) with development expected to begin next year.
New York City adds e-cigarettes to public smoking ban – New York’s city council has decided that vaping around others is as unacceptable as smoking, The Wall Street Journal reports. In a 43-8 vote, the council passed a bill expanding the city’s public smoking ban to e-cigarettes, meaning that they won’t be allowed in public places like bars, subways, or parks. The council has been debating the measure since late November, with e-cigarette opponents saying they just wanted to close a loophole in New York’s stringent anti-smoking laws.
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