Apple, Sony and Google better watch out -- the Xbox is pushing hard to become king of the living room.
On Monday, Microsoft (MSFT) kicked off the Electronic Entertainment Expo with a bang, unveiling a bevy of new products intended to transform your home entertainment system into a totally immersive experience. It now looks like Microsoft and the Xbox are "winning the living room war," says David M. Ewalt at Forbes, leaving rivals like Sony (SNEJF), Apple (AAPL), and Google (GOOG) in the dust. (Microsoft owns and publishes TechBiz, an MSN Money site.)
What sort of breakthroughs are on the way? Here, a brief roundup of the announcements.
The iPhone is finally available without a contract -- and for $55 a month. Of course, there is a not-so-small one-time fee.
Last week, Leap Wireless made waves when it announced that its Cricket prepaid service would become the first U.S. cellular provider to offer Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on a month-to-month plan. Beginning June 22, customers can opt for a no-contract option with "unlimited" calls, texts, and data for just $55 a month — about half the monthly rate of AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ).
The catch? A much higher fee upfront. The cheapest Cricket option begins at $400 for an 8GB iPhone 4, while a 16GB iPhone 4S will run you $500. AT&T and Verizon typically charge at least $100 (and sometimes much more) for those phones -- and require a two-year contract. Of course, despite Cricket's higher fee, over the course of two years, it offers huge savings, and consumers can stop paying their phone bill at any time, no questions asked.
Is Cricket's plan the way to go?
The chirpy assistant reacts sluggishly, stumbles with voice-recognition and often lacks the right answers.
If you're not Zooey Deschanel, Siri probably doesn't work that well for you. Some insiders have called the iPhone 4S assistant's well-documented unresponsiveness an embarrassment to Apple (AAPL), and several industry insiders have said that late founder Steve Jobs would never have let such a flawed product reach consumer hands. Yet earlier last week, chief executive Tim Cook publicly declared that Apple was "doubling down" on Siri because "consumers love it," raising more than a few eyebrows.
Given the increasingly noisy backlash, is it finally safe to say that Siri's a dud?
Aging console cycle, cloudy outlook makes stocks 'absurdly cheap.'
By Dan Gallagher
As the video game industry kicks off its annual E3 conference this week, investors have taken a particularly dim view of the sector, as the aging console cycle and slumping retail sales have hit the stocks hard.
It is unclear whether this year's show will do much to boost enthusiasm for the group, as it has in years past. Only Nintendo is expected to showcase new gaming hardware -- the Wii-U console that was previewed last year and is expected to launch this fall. No new Xbox or PlayStation hardware is expected at the event, and most of the big game releases expected to be on display will be sequels to long-established franchises such as "Call of Duty," "Halo" and "Madden NFL."
"What's happening is that everyone expects this year's E3 to be a dud, so why buy the stocks ahead of the show?" said Doug Creutz of Cowen & Co. in an interview.
Company monitors, scans and organizes open web for clients like AOL.
By Ben Popper
Diffbot is a machine learning system that can read any web page and extract useful, structured data from it. Thursday, it announced a $2 million series A round of funding from an impressive list of names, including the founders of Earthlink and Sun Microsystems alongside executives from Twitter, Facebook (FB) and AOL (AOL).
The main function of Diffbot is to turn the open web into an easily digestible API. So for example, AOL is one of Diffbot's clients. It has numerous online media properties using different content management systems. Rather than trying to figure out how to organize all of that, it uses Diffbot to read new articles from all of those properties and extract that data into one simple API. That way its new tablet magazine app, Editions, can pull stories from across all AOL properties and display them on the iPad in real time.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages ended modestly lower with the S&P 500 shedding 0.3%.
The benchmark average saw an opening loss of 1.2% after Japan's Nikkei tumbled 7.3%. Japanese stocks sold off amid continued volatility in Japanese Government Bond futures as the 10-yr yield spiked almost 16 basis points to 1.002 before the Bank of Japan's JPY2 trillion liquidity injection caused yields to retrace their gains.
Adding insult to injury was news out of China where the HSBC ... More
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