AOL buys SpeechWorks

AOL buys SpeechWorks

America Online (AOL) has bought a major slice of SpeechWorks, a company focused on converting online content into speech for access by telephone.

AOL has purchased five-million dollars of SpeechWorks stock, as well as rights to its software, marketing and professional services.

SpeechWorks has licencing agreements with Sprint, BellSouth and Net2Phone.

French Mac sales climb 37% in 2005

French Mac sales climb 37% in 2005

Apple has seen significant market share gains in France.

Mac sales in the territory climbed an astonishing 37 per cent in 2005, claims French Mac website, MacGeneration.

These sharply rising sales mean Apple now holds 2.6 per cent of the French computer market – up from 2.2 per cent in 2004. It also means Apple is now rated eighth in France.

Apple’s desktop products saw sales climb 54 per cent, while its notebook sales climbed 20 per cent during the year, the report explains.

These successes have been driven by a positive French response to Apple’s new Mac mini and iMac computers. But it’s the education market that has really propelled the company’s gains: Apple now holds 15.4 per cent of the French education market – the largest slice of that sector among any computer manufacturer there.

This is partially because the French government has launched a special scheme that lets students buy a notebook computer for the price of a cup of coffee each day, and students are choosing Macs.

Here's Why Scalebound, Quantum Break And Crackdown 3 Are Not Coming To Windows 10 PC

Here’s Why Scalebound, Quantum Break And Crackdown 3 Are Not Coming To Windows 10 PC

Phil Spencer has explained in a recent interview with Gamespot why Scalebound, Crackdown 3 and Quantum Break are not coming to Windows 10 PC. Even though Microsoft is focusing on PC gaming, there’s still some obstacle to make these games run on platforms other than Xbox One, and this is why.


Xbox Head has said that when these games started the development process at their respective studios, Microsoft hadn’t already brought its focus on the PC platform, so it would take some more time and resources now to add it to the Xbox One core game.

“In the case of things like Scalebound or Crackdown or Quantum Break, you know, just to be completely honest with you, we started those games before we really looked at expanding into Windows in the way that I wanted to bring as part of becoming head of Xbox.

Going to those teams mid-cycle and saying: ‘Hey, by the way, I want to add a platform,’ didn’t really feel like necessarily the best way to end up with the best result for the game. They had a path that they were on. It’s not to say those games could never come to Windows, but right now we’re on the path to finish the great games that they’ve started, and I want that to be the case. These games are on a path, whereas with, like, Halo Wars 2 I had the opportunity from the beginning, when we’re sitting down with the studio, to say, ‘Here’s the target. Here’s what we wanna go do.’

Even with Gears, like the Gears 1 remake, we thought about framerate, we thought about multiplayer. The opportunity to bring it to Windows in a refreshed way felt like a great opportunity from the beginning. I’m trying to be more deliberate in the choices that we make.”

So it’s just a matter of time and quality, and Spencer isn’t even saying Quantum Break is never going to happen on PC. He’s just explaining why it hasn’t happened yet, same as Scalebound or Crackdown 3.

Would you like to see these games running on your high-end, Windows 10 PC? Let us know in the comments below.


Q relaunches for ‘iPod generation’

Q relaunches for ‘iPod generation’

Q magazine is relaunching itself as a title that’s appropriate to the new generation of digital music fan.

The new issue offers readers an introduction to MP3 players and downloading from the Internet. It’s a strategy designed to reverse the title’s falling circulation.

Q Editor Paul Rees told The Guardian: “People swapped vinyl for CDs and we think that shift is about to happen again, transferring CD for digital. This is the iPod generation.”

The relaunched title promises to move away from slavish devotion to genres in favour of catering for a wide breadth of tastes, along with a “guide element”.

Readers can expect to find celebrity iPod Playlists, and comedian Al Murray this month burns his favourite 20 drinking songs. The Guardian reveals that each review has a ‘Like this? Buy this” section and bands name their favourite tracks after interviews.

Rees said: “We’re not saying the iPod is the only thing that exists, but I don’t think the advance of digital music is going to stop. It is only going to progress.”

Publishing house Emap is spending £600,000 promoting the relaunch with print, TV and online advertising.

The move also shows the fast rate-of-change that is taking place in the digital distribution market. Reports about the business of online music reflected an industry at its beginnings.

Now, Q’s relaunch, magazines like iPod User and clubs like London’s soon-to-launch Playlist reflect an industry that’s generating a new consumer vision, an industry-watcher said.

SCO plays legal waiting game

SCO plays legal waiting game

Citing delays in the discovery process of its $5 billion lawsuit with IBM, SCO has asked a Utah court to move back the trial date in the case by five months, to mid-September 2005.

The case has been “effectively stayed for four months,” SCO said in a motion filed Monday. The company placed blame for the delays squarely on IBM. “IBM’s untimely responses to discovery have hindered orderly prosecution of the case,” SCO’s lawyers wrote.

“We disagree with that and we’ll respond to SCO’s motion in court,” said IBM Spokesman Mike Darcy, who declined to comment further on the motion.

In December, the judge presiding over the case, Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells, ordered SCO to provide more details about the intellectual property violations IBM is alleged to have committed by contributing Unix code to the Linux operating system. That ruling helped delay the discovery process, SCO said.

The case is presently scheduled to go to trial in April 2005, but SCO’s motion asks that the date be changed to “approximately September 15, 2005.”

The move to delay the trial came as no surprise to open source advocate Bruce Perens, who believes that SCO intends to drag out the lawsuit as long as possible. “From day one, everything they’ve been doing has been to delay this case,” he said. “Swift resolution of the case is not to SCO’s advantage because they’re going to lose.”

The delay in discovery came about because SCO has made unreasonable demands of IBM, Perens argued. “SCO is asking for things that were either impossible for IBM to provide or basically what SCO should not have been asking for,” he said. “SCO asked for quite literally every version of Unix that IBM has made.”

Facebook event speculation turns to phones, mobile, search

Facebook event speculation turns to phones, mobile, search

With Facebook preparing for its mysterious press conference on Tuesday, speculation is surging that the announcement could be about anything from a new smartphone, a new mobile plan to a new search feature.

Last week, Facebook invited members of the press to a news event at its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters. “Come and see what we’re building,” the invitation read.

While rumors are swirling that the social network will throw its hat into the smartphone ring, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said repeatedly that he has no intention of coming out with a Facebook phone.

During an on-stage interview last September, Zuckerberg said he couldn’t emphasize enough that there will be no Facebook phone.

“That’s always been the wrong strategy for us,” he said at the time. “We’ll have 950 million users soon. Let’s say we built a phone, theoretically — we’re not — but we get 10 million people to use it. That doesn’t move the needle for us…. The phone just doesn’t make any sense.”

However, at the same event, he did talk about the importance of mobile and the company’s plans for search.

When asked about his interest in getting into search and how much Google’s entrance into the world of social networking annoyed him, Zuckerberg said, “We do on the order of a billion queries a day now and we’re not even trying… I think there’s a lot of opportunity there and we’ll have to some day go after that.”

Today, industry analysts were betting on an announcement on a possible mobile ad strategy or search over a Facebook entry into the crowded and competitive phone market.

“Facebook has been wise to distance itself from the mobile device business, and I expect them to stick to that strategy,” said IDC analyst Hadley Reynolds, who is betting more on Facebook’s making a mobile app or search announcement. “There are more downsides than you can list there, with no redeeming opportunity, in my view,” he said, referring to a Facebook smartphone.

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, said he’s expecting Facebook to introduce more, and better, mobile software supporting a wider range of devices, possibly focusing on real-time communications across Android, iOS and possible Windows 8 devices.

“Facebook has been both late to market and limited in demonstrating an understanding of the importance of mobility,” Shimmin said. “Even with its recently introduced native applications for Android, Facebook has revealed the comparative immaturity of its engineering efforts. The new Android client, for example, has been shown to consume excessive system resources while running in the background. But the company can and most certainly will overcome such missteps.”

Other analysts, including Patrick Moorhead with Moor Insights & Strategy, and Jack Gold with J. Gold Associates, said they view talk of a Facebook smartphone as a tired, old rumor that resurfaces every time the company is going to make another announcement.

“In my opinion, it would be a mistake for them to offer a phone,” said Gold. “They don’t have the ecosystem that an Amazon has for releasing its own devices… How do you make any significant revenues? Will existing users really switch to a Facebook-branded phone? I just can’t see Facebook being successful with its own branded devices.”

Computerworld Senior Editor Matt Hamblen contributed to this report.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon’s RSS feed. Her email address is [email protected].

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Read more about social media in Computerworld’s Social Media Topic Center.

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Car Bomb Threat Handled at Gearbox HQ Parking Lot

Car Bomb Threat Handled at Gearbox HQ Parking Lot

The bomb squad was called in for a car bomb threat in the Gearbox HQ parking lot, and the president filled us in on all the details.

A car bomb threat was dealt with by a bomb squad at the Gearbox HQ parking lot in Plano, Texas, late on Friday.

Randy Pitchford, president of Gearbox Software, posted pictures of the event on Twitter. The event happened around 7:30 PM Central time, when most of the staff went home for the day.

Someone is out of control! Bomb disposal unit called to Gearbox HQ parking lot to deal with car bomb threat.

— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) October 4, 2014

Based on the tweets, Pitchford was able to get close enough to photograph a robot from the Plano police department bomb squad that was aiding in the bomb disposal. Due to the seriousness of the situation, not many details were released.

Because Pitchford’s car was so close to the danger area, he wasn’t able to leave until around 10:00 PM Central time when the all clear was given. Naturally, he began thinking of all those movies that featured cars blowing up when the ignition started. Luckily, nothing bad happened!

Just started my car to drive it home and my mind’s eye flashed every film I’ve ever seen where the car blows up when started. Okay now 🙂

— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) October 4, 2014

It might be a good thing that Gearbox is moving their headquarters. Back in mid-June, it was announced that Gearbox was moving from Plano to Frisco (still in Texas). The move will happen in 2015.

Image credit: Platform Nation

Final Fantasy VII Is Getting the Monopoly Treatment

Final Fantasy VII Is Getting the Monopoly Treatment

Take Cloud Strife on a journey around Midgar in the new Final Fantasy VII Monopoly game due in 2017.

Today Merchoid, an online video game merchandise specialist, announced that Final Fantasy VII has been given a Monopoly “make-over” and will be hitting the shelves in April 2017. The board game will feature well-known characters, locations, and lore from the video game, which released originally in 1997 for PlayStation (shortly followed by the Windows release in 1998).

The main principle of the game will be same as all other Monopoly games, but this one will see players playing around the city of Midgar and decide between building up housing or going industrial and building a Mako reactor plant.

“It’s every family’s favourite board game in a Final Fantasy VII theme, so it will feature Cloud, Aeris, Sephiroth and all your favourite characters and locations. Whether your plans are to buy housing for the people or build a Mako reactor plant, you’ll soon discover the real nature of Sephiroth’s evil is the extortionate amount of rent he charges.”

— Jessica Adams, Merchoid’s Community Manager 

Monopoly has a long history of using popular themes for new variations. The Final Fantasy VII version follows on from other video game remakes such as Assassin’s Creed (2014), World of Warcraft (2012), Fallout Collectors Edition (2015), and the Nintendo Collectors Edition, which released in 2006.

Final Fantasy VII Monopoly will only be available from online retailers and can be pre-ordered first from Merchoid and will be retailing at £34.99/€51,99/$49.99.

Your own personal Genius

Your own personal Genius

An Apple plan for extending the Genius Bar services for small businesses and ‘prosumers’ may be on the cards

Electricpig is reporting a rumoured extension to Apple’s support services, including possible home or site visits from an Apple Genius, but more likely to consist of priority telephone and service options.

“Apple Joint Venture will reportedly offer extra support for five Mac users (with the option to add more for a fee),” claims the site. “The $499 annual charge will get you priority service at the Apple Store Genius Bar, phone support from business-minded Geniuses, loan machines if yours has to go in for repair and access to special workshops for Apple Joint Venture members.”

Electricpig backed up the claim with news of a special meeting for Apple retail employees last Sunday: “Apple staffers have been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements…it seems the subject of the meeting may be Joint Venture. Subscribers to the new service will reportedly be able to speak to an Apple Genius by phone (previously verboten) and request on-site visits.”

Photoshop on Intel XP iMac runs faster than PC

Photoshop on Intel XP iMac runs faster than PC

Photoshop actually runs faster on Intel Macs running Windows XP than on PCs, a report claims.

While Photoshop on Mac OS at present suffers from performance anxiety, as the software isn’t optimised to run on an Intel chip on a Mac system, the story isn’t the same when you run Windows XP on the Mac’s Intel processor.

A report on CNet states: “With Windows XP Pro running on a 2.0GHz iMac Core Duo, we ran our Photoshop test in less than half the time it took with the same system running OS X 10.4.5: 2 minutes 49 seconds versus 6 minutes 30 seconds to be exact.”

The report adds that an Intel iMac beat Pentium D PCs from Dell and Gateway when running Photoshop on XP.