Tesla's first recall displays public relations prowess
Plus, after much ado, Softbank is oh-so-close to acquiring Sprint.
Electric car company Tesla Motors (TSLA) announced its first ever recall early Wednesday, due to a potentially weak mounting bracket in the left-hand latch of the back row of seats. The company emphasized that the voluntary recall, which affects 1,228 Model S vehicles made between May 10 and June 8, does not come after any customer complaints, injuries or litigation.
Tesla has offered to pick up the recalled cars and return them within a few hours with the new seat bracket in place.
Additionally, the company will provide a loaner Model S if needed. Many analysts and consumers approve of the way Elon Musk's Tesla is handling the recall, especially when compared with other bigger car companies that struggle with recalls: Chrysler is currently under scrutiny for issuing a rather late recall for millions of Jeep Grand Cherokees and Libertys that are at risk of catching fire. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into the problem began in 2010.
It's safe to bet that Jeep won't come to your house and pick up your car for you. Tesla is a small company yet; it still has that luxury.
Softbank closes in on acquisition of Sprint with Dish out of the picture, for now
The Japanese telecommunications and Internet company Softbank (SFTBF) has been vying to acquire Sprint Nextel (S) for months now, and after increasing its offer to $21.6 billion last week, rival bidder Dish Network (DISH) has declined to make its own new offer. And so, the takeover contention that began in October 2012 is almost over.
The news represents a reversal for both bidders: Softbank's Chief Executive Masayoshi Son has rarely taken major risks, while Dish's Chairman Charlie Ergen is notorious for aggressive acquisition attempts.
Softbank is one of Japan's top mobile operators -- and has argued that it could help Sprint save money on smartphones via bulk purchases discounts from vendors. The company also offers Sprint its wireless tech expertise, an area in which Dish is not as adept.
Both Softbank and Sprint are the third-ranked providers in their respective countries.
Netflix will launch in the Netherlands this year, its 41st country
The streaming video company announced Wednesday it will be expanding into the Netherlands, its 41st country, later this year. Netflix (NFLX) did not detail the cost of subscription for Dutch consumers, but said there would be a "low monthly price."
The vast majority of Netflix users are American: As of March 31, the company had 29.2 million subscribers in the US, with 7.1 million in international markets. That being said, Netflix has run in the US since 2007, expanded to Canada in 2010, Latin America in 2011, and to several European countries including the UK, Ireland, and Denmark, only last year.
Battle of the next-gen game systems on Jimmy Fallon
The battle for the supremacy of the next video game console generation continues to escalate, with both Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE) stopping by for "Video Game Week" on Jimmy Fallon's Late Night, and Sony may have taken a small victory. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
On Monday, Microsoft stopped by to demo the multimedia features of the Xbox One, as well as the games Killer Instinct and Forza Motorsport 5. And on Tuesday night, Sony demoed its system, but also part of the presentation was further criticism of the Xbox One's much-maligned used games and online policies.
As Fallon said of the PS4, "The big story that everyone's talking about is that this system is the only one where you can still play used games."
Mark Cerny, the lead architect of the PlayStation 4, responded, "We support used games, we don't require an Internet connection." The exchange ended with lots of applause from the audience. Like Fallon said, the used games and Internet connectivity problems have become "the big story," and that is bad news for Microsoft.
Of course, the Late Show hoopla is not exactly accurate: Xbox One games will actually be able to be transferred and played as used games, under certain conditions. Moreover, Sony is leaving decisions concerning the ability to play used games without a fee, up to publishers.
Overblown or not, Fallon's "Video Game Week" thus far has revealed that Microsoft has a pretty major public relations problem on its hand, and it will have to be up front about its policies, and the reasons behind them, to compete with Sony and the PS4.
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