purchase

Google announced this week that it has indeed bought Waze, the social mapping company based in Israel. The unconfirmed price tag is $1bn and both Apple and Facebook have previously been following the startup, monitoring the situation. Waze is essentially a traffic service, which updates in real time by incorporating users' driving times with feedback on accidents and traffic problems.

If you're one to get stuck in traffic jams frequently, Waze is a handy tool that enables you to check out issues on the road ahead and plan accordingly or view more efficient routes other users are taking. We previously looked at the purchase before it went ahead and noted that Apple really had a lot to gain if the technology company went ahead with a check to further distance itself from Google maps. 

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Rumors are circulating that Facebook is looking to purchase instant messaging mavens WhatsApp. No pricing of the acquisition or even confirmation of talks have been revealed, but TechCrunch seems convinced that something is brewing between the two companies.

Facebook famously bought Instagram for $1B not too long ago, although that number is mostly reflected in now devalued stock options. It’s not clear why Facebook would buy WhatsApp but there are a few possibilities, including augmenting or even gutting the unreliable Facebook Chat and there is of course the legion of WhatsApps users (who never fail to tell us there is an update for the app on Windows Phone, more on the below).

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The Home Shopping Network (HSN) has two Gateway Windows 8 laptops for sale, and at an attractive price too. One can pick up a 15.6" model for just $649.95, or $699.95 for the 17.3" version. Both laptops sport an Intel Core i5 processor, and come with 4GB RAM accompanied by a 500GB hard drive. While both are identical with regards to specifications, neither sports a touch screen. 

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On June 14th, rumors were circulating that Microsoft was poised to buy Yammer, a social-network and messaging service for enterprise, for at least $1 billion dollars. Speculation cooled down a bit as Microsoft intended to focus on the Surface and Windows Phone 8 announcements but a new week is upon us and so the deal is now official.

Microsoft has now purchased Yammer (www.yammer.com) for a massive $1.2 billion in cash and it will be folded into the Microsoft Office Division, led by division President Kurt DelBene. The team will continue to report to current CEO David Sacks to maintain continuity, at least for the near future.

A statement from Microsoft on the acquisition states

“The acquisition of Yammer underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love. Yammer adds a best-in-class enterprise social networking service to Microsoft’s growing portfolio of complementary cloud services.”

Yammer is only four years old but has nearly 5 million users including employees at 85 percent of the Fortune 500, making it an interesting and strategic purchase. So why the acquisition even though Microsoft has Lync and Sharepoint already? Mary Jo Foley (ZDNet) ruminates that Microsoft "...needed a cooler brand and wanted the cross-platform support" which sounds about right to us.

Here's to hopefully seeing Yammer built into Windows Phone 8.

Full press release after the break...

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We wrote up quite a lengthy article the other day detailing the possibility of a Facebook smartphone, or "FacePhone" for giggles, so we wont go into too much detail here to save your eyes some repetition. According to a report over at Computerworld, a mobile marketing expert based in Paris has predicted such hardware will emerge in 18 months. Yep, we know what you're thinking. Take this with a truck-load of salt.

Paul Amsellem, managing director of Mobile Network Group and the soul who believes such a device will become reality, also states that Facebook could buy Nokia with the state the manufacturer is in, which would give the social network an easy opportunity to get into the mobile market. This in itself is a wild prediction.

"Facebook will launch the FacePhone. And whether it has a blue color and a logo with a big F on it, it will definitely be disruptive. Even at this moment, Facebook doesn't know what it will look like, but they need to do it. Facebook needs somebody with an understanding of networking, technology, carrier relationships and logistics. They can acquire one of these two players [Nokia / RIM] for not a lot of money." 

Amsellem goes onto say that the company needs to do something, which everyone will agree with. Facebook has found itself in a hole with stocks, revenue streams and innovations for the service itself. For the time being, the social network hangs on as an integrated service or app for current mobile operating systems. This will have a negative impact on advertisement revenues with more and more computer users moving to / adopting portable devices.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, hits the Facebook situation nail on the head though.

"Facebook appears to be trying to emulate Google, much like Google tried to emulate Apple. A copy of a copy likely won't end up well, given how powerful both of the primary iOS and Android platforms are."

It boils down to the fact that Facebook really is just a place to communicate with friends, and occasionally water the crops. Is there space for Facebook as an ecosystem with a mobile platform to compete with Microsoft, Apple, RIM and Google? Probably not, but then again this is just an analyst's prediction, and we all know first-hand how inaccurate these can be.

What do you guys think? Would Facebook be punching above its weight?

Source: Computerworld

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The Prepaid App Card program

Thinking of buying a Windows Phone but not too sure when weighing pros and cons with competitor platforms? Will a free $25 prepaid app card sway your mind? That's correct, we have come across a prepaid app card program from Microsoft that will see customers who purchase a Windows Phone receive a prepaid card to kick-start their app collection for free. 

The offer will be started on November 18th. If you have purchased a handset between November 2nd and December 31st then you'll be eligible for the card. To redeem, you'll need a copy of the receipt and proof of purchase on the phone box. This is U.S. only.

Source: App Prepaid Card Program, thanks @burnethanol and @schweetzeke for the tip!

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Just as we were lamenting Motorola Mobility's position on using Windows Phone (and their stock situation), Google comes out of nowhere and buys them up out for $12.5 billion. From the press release they mention how they want to "...supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open."

Although Motorola is a dedicated manufacturer of Android devices, they also happen to have something that Google really wants--namely a large patent portfolio. Remember, Moto for all intents and purposes invented the cell phone back in the day resulting in a large arsenal of patents that Google can finally wield in defense of Android (seeing as that OS is evidently build on stolen IP). That's something that they will have to do a lot of as Microsoft is currently suing Motorola Mobility over patent infringement, meaning now they are suing Google over the same issue. That court case should get interesting, to say the least.

Google's Andy Rubin states that they remain committed to still working with other partners, although this obviously puts HTC in an odd position--they're not Microsoft's exclusive partner anymore and neither are they Google's. Various OEM partners have publicly come out in support of the deal, notably LG, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson even HTC paying lip-service with the same paraphrase of "We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.” although you wonder what they have to be saying privately about the deal.

The big question is what does this actually mean? Too early to tell though clearly Google is stepping up things against Apple and to a lesser extent Microsoft. Apple already has the hardware thing down and Microsoft now has Nokia in their corner. As to our thoughts? We'll gladly take our Nokia deal over Motorola any day.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Official Google Blog; via AndroidCentral 1, 2

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