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November 2018

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Your device will be bound to carriers no more

In a move that is sure to appease many smartphone fans, Samsung Electronic (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) has just announced that it will now be selling unlocked units of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge flagship smartphones in the United States. The unlocked devices support all major US carriers including the ones which operate on CDMA. There are plenty of channels to purchase the devices from, such as Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Ebay and more. As for the price, the S7 will cost you $669.99, while the S7 Edge should set you back $769.99. 

One of the main complains that numerous reviewers shared regarding the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smarthphones was the amount of carrier bloatware loaded into the device by almost all of the carriers in the USA. This is a problem which you won’t need to worry about if you purchase the unlocked version, since these devices will be completely free of all carrier bloatware, and you’ll be able to use them with your carrier of choice.

Another thing which shows that Samsung has been listening to the consumers is how the users will now be given the choice of whether to have Samsung’s suite of applications installed on their devices. Due to Samsung’s app suite, there is a lot of redundancy when it comes to applications since two or three applications are present in devices for a single purpose. 

The unlocked variants feature the same hardware set, which includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with 4GB of RAM and a 12-megapixel camera. Samsung Pay will also be supported as well as the manufacturer warranties.  

Even though this move will appease the small portion of users who prefer purchasing unlocked phones, the vast majority of users still purchase their device via the carrier contracts. And due to this, Samsung isn’t likely to switch from the carrier contract selling strategy. However, more options are always better for the consumers and that’s what Samsung is giving them right now.

AT&T announced launch of its roaming services in Cuba to expand its market share in the region

While expanding its network operations, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) launched its roaming services in Cuba through which customers can text, talk, and use internet while remaining on the network and traveling to Cuba. With the launch of current services, the telecom giant remains bullish and stated to continue to expand its international network and global coverage.

Review of the news release reveals that the customers will be charged $3 per minute for voice calls. Internet will be charged $2.05 per one MB while SMS/MMS will be charged $0.50/$1.3 respectively. This is not the first time that the company expanded its international network coverage; it has been previously looking into options to come to competition overseas.

Not only internationally, the telecom company also plans to expand its local operations as it is expected to spend millions to renovate its headquarter located in Dallas, which would create jobs for 1,300 more employees. Through this expansion in its operations, the company aims to remain the market leader by generating growth in its operating revenues.

The company is slated to report its third quarter fiscal year 2016 earnings release this week as well for which investors are concerned because it impacts its stock performance. Through its hard efforts and keeping its market share, AT&T has been able to generate growth in its stock price that soared 16.35% over past 12 months.

The stock slumped 8.14% during past three months, but industry analysts remain confident that the company will recover from the current slump by reporting a beat on its revenue and earnings per share estimates for third quarter 2016. Furthermore, the current expansion of roaming services in Cuba will also allow AT&T to boost its fourth quarter fiscal year 2016 earnings, as the current services would add to the company revenues.

AT&T Global Connection Management executive vice president Bill Hague remains confident with the launch of the roaming services to Cuba. He believed that the new services further solidifies position as having best coverage of any US wireless service provider in the region.

Chinese firms manufacturing mobile devices contain components from Qualcomm according to its patent’s complain

Qualcomm, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:QCOM) patents have filed a complaint against firms in China that might have infringed, or illegally used, components manufactured by the company. The chip maker has demanded an investigation to verify if these Chinese firms have violated hardware and software copyrights patented by the company. The complaint is filed in the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, against Meizu. Components, such as cameras, circuits, and chips, that are found in devices manufactured by Zhuhai Meizu Technology Co, Ltd., Dest Technology Limited, Zhuhai Meizu Telecom Equipment Co. Ltd. And LGYD Limited will be investigated.

The chip maker attempted to make negotiations with Meizu, which is a sign of goodwill. It intended to sign a patent license that meets the terms and conditions of Qualcomm and is accepted by the China National Development and NDRC. The complaint would not have been filed if Meizu had agreed to the negotiations and signed a license agreement. Allegedly, Meizu illegally uses the products of the chip maker without giving any credit.

Reportedly, Meizu has uses products by Qualcomm unlawfully, which is not just unfair to the company but also to other firms that have signed the agreement proposed by the tech giant. This seriously damages consumers, markets, and ecosystem, said Executive Vice President, Don Rosenberg.

The chip maker has had a strong foothold in China, while suppliers and consumers around the world benefit from its business. This is not the first time the tech organization has expressed concerns about patent infringement by Meizu. Previously, a complaint was filed in June, which requested to issue a patent license in China for 3G and 4G wireless communications. The recent complaint is in relation to the complaint that were filed in June, to a certain extent.

Blake Fuller has developed a lighter battery pack for the Pikes Peaks race in his Tesla Motors Model S

Blake Fuller, founder and one time CEO at Braille Battery and founder of Go Puck, a startup which makes wearable batteries, has created a racing mod for his Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S’ battery. The entrepreneur will be taking part in the 100th edition of Pikes Peak’s hill climb competition with his vehicle in the Electric Production class.

For Fuller, the recipe for a 13 minute record in the Electric Production class of the Pikes Peak race meant dipping into his background in creating batteries to make one which was just 20% the weight of the standard factory model in his Tesla Model S. Braille Battery specializes in creating ultra-light lithium ion batteries with high performance and supplies to many racing series such as the well-known NASCAR. Fuller’s battery for the Model S, while lighter, understandably trades off capacity but is custom built for races like the one he is taking part in. The battery will have not only be capable of helping his Model S in the hill climbing competition but will also allow the car the power to outperform and beat the 13 minute record; if, Fuller is to succeed in his venture. Considering the 80% weight cut, the battery is probably around 960 lbs. but the exact weight is unknown since the Model S ships with battery packs ranging in weight from 4600-4900 lbs. This significant weight cut will help the car in the climb but the question to whether it will have enough power is still to be tested at Pikes Peak.

The Model S is only the second Tesla vehicle to compete in the race. An older model, the Tesla Roadster, was used in the competition in 2014.

The debut of “The Grand Tour” episode on Amazon Prime has broken former viewing records of the platform, driving in more customers to sign up for the service

Speculations confirm that Amazon.com, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) decision to bag exclusive rights for the latest show, The Grand Tour, has been one of its smartest decisions to date. Following the debut of pilot episode on the Prime platform, Geek Wire reports that the former Top Gear’s casts appearance in a new show helped Amazon beat its all-time viewership records.

Amazon’s Prime platform continues to thrive in markets as one of its dominant “pillars.” The company’s subscription service offers a wide range of benefits, including free two-day shipments, access to music and video content, and much more. By securing The Grand Tour for its Prime platform, it is evident that Amazon’s game-plan has been a downright success.

Considering there was immense hype prior to the latest series’ roll out, it is evident that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May having a reunion on screen is enough to drive views from loyal fans. However, the news was disappointing for “The Man in the High Castle,” which no longer holds the viewership record.

Given that Amazon offered discount on Prime subscription prior to the show’s roll out, it appears that the company had already realized the series’ market value; the discounted offer worked well for both, e-commerce titan and the show. Considering the launch success of the show, it is likely that Amazon will continue with this strategy to expand its number of Prime users. With just 49.5 million users solely in the US, it already seems that the show’s weekly roll out will help the retail giant drive more views, whilst also working as a subtle marketing strategy for the Prime platform itself. Furthermore, speculations confirm that the series will be launched worldwide at some point in December.

Since the show marks itself as one of Amazon’s biggest premieres, we believe that there is a high possibility that the company will consider snagging rights to the show’s future seasons as well. With users in the US, Germany, Japan, Austria, and the UK already accessing Prime urgently to watch the show, it is evident that Amazon’s $250 million investment has been a good call.

So far the San Francisco-based maker of XTANDI has received an offer from Pfizer and an improved offer from Sanofi

According to a person familiar with the matter, Medivation Inc (NASDAQ:MDVN) has stepped into the final stages of its competitive bidding process. Sources reveal that the San Francisco based biopharmaceutical company has received offers from both Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE).

According to the source having in-depth knowledge of the matter, the offer made by Sanofi is improved compared to that of Pfizer. The person also disclosed that a Germany based drug company has entered the bidding battle and plans to make an offer ahead of the deadline. At this point in time, the name of the bidder was not disclosed.

However, the source didn’t discuss the status of potential bids made by Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) and Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG), whose interest in the bidding process was mentioned in earlier media reports. Today is the deadline to submit an interest indication for the bidding process.

Shares of Medivation gained 2.52% in Thursday’s trading session to close at $65.60. The company has a total market capitalization of $10.98 billion. The stock has a 52-week high of $65.98 and a 52-week low of $26.41. The XTANDI maker reported second quarter earnings on Tuesday, which clearly exhibited why pharmaceutical giants have a keen interest in acquiring the company.

As of the Q2 report, Medivation’s prostate cancer therapy, Xtandi sales were $595 million. This was majorly due to the longer period consumption of the drug as the patients are taking it for 9 months at an average. The trend is expected to continue further, which hints toward a long term boost in Xtandi sales. Overall, Medivation revenue grew 17% year-on-year. Moreover, the company reaffirmed its 2016 guidance, which suggests nearly 35% earnings growth and 56% revenue growth.

Webpass has been providing high-speed Internet to homes and offices for 13 years in the country

Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Fiber has agreed to acquire Internet service provider Webpass, in a plan that should result in expansion of Google Fiber from the five cities that it currently provides its services in.

According to the revealed plans of expansion by the company, Google Fiber is set to make its way to San Francisco and Webpass maintains a major presence in several cities of California, like San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Diego. Apart from any long-term payoffs or progress that Webpass ensures, the minimum it does offer in the short term, and right away, is the assistance and know-how in the region for Google Fiber’s expansion into San Francisco.

As far as any ramifications from the deal for Webpass are concerned, the service dispatched an email to all current customers informing them of the imminent acquisition from Google Fiber, and that no change in operational and business activities will be observed as part of the deal. Moreover, President of Webpass, Charles Barr, also stated in the official blog post regarding the deal that the two companies share the same vision of providing high quality service to the users and that the acquisition will help Webpass achieve the kind of growth in size and stature that it wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the helping hand – and resources – of an industry giant-backed service like Google Fiber.

Google Fiber has been slowly and steadily building its network of high-speed Internet in the county, as the service was recently brought to cities like Dallas and Miami. Plans of introducing Google Fiber to more and more cities across the United States are certainly in the pipeline, and the acquisition of an ISP of Webpass’s expertise will only help further that cause.

Tesla shares gain on CEO Elon Musk’s confidence on SolarCity deal and the upcoming Secret Master Plan

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) saw one of its worst times in recent months, on the back of three key problems: SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) acquisition, first Autopilot fatality leading to regulatory infestation, and quarterly delivery miss. The stock hit a three-month low of $188 but gradually reaccelerated and surpassed $225.

Today, the stock is trading up 1.05% at $227.63 and climbed to an intraday-high of $228.86, up 1.6% from its last closing price.

The positive sentiments revived following comments of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal. The biggest stockholder of both Tesla and SolarCity revealed that “investors are highly supportive” over the $2.8 billion proposed merged to acquire the US solar installer. 

The CEO admitted that most of the investors did not understand if the merger of an electric vehicle (EV) company and a solar company will work; yet, he expects the deal to go through with two-thirds majority.

On the other hand, the boss has been working on the ‘Secret Master’ Plan Part 2. Although he has been late in publishing the plan last week, it will most likely be public later today. Yesterday, Mr. Musk tweeted that he will work on the Model 3 and the Autopilot, and then will pull an all-nighter to complete the ‘Secret Product Plan.’

The upcoming business plan is the extension to the previous Secret Master Plan which entails to build a sportscar (Roadster) and use its sales proceeds to build an affordable vehicle (Model S and Model X) and then to use their proceeds to build an even more affordable vehicle (Model 3).

While most of the people are expecting the CEO to reveal the future plans for the vehicle lineups, the plan would focus a lot on Tesla Energy, the company’s energy storage arm, with the merger of SolarCity on the cards. Additionally, with plans to become an energy company, the plan should shed more light on the objective.

Twitter Inc beat out big tech names for NFL streaming rights but is the investment worth any gains in video driven user engagement strategy

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is working to bump up its active user base; no matter the price is the message the company sent with its acquisition of rights to stream the  NFL. It is reported that the price for rights to stream 10 games was $10 million and big tech companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon and Verizon made a play for the rights.

Twitter is clearly banking on a video play to change the engagement level of its 800 million (online and offline) user strong platform. Colin Sebastion from Baird feels that the NFL deal might be a step in the right direction in coverage and reiterated a Neutral rating on Twitter and $18 price target.

Twitter has failed at various strategies to grow its platform with some like the new timeline feature inflaming its loyal user base and others failing to differentiate the social short format network in any way. However, Twitter is a well-established media company and 400 million active users are not insignificant in anyway. A move into native video is therefore a logical step. Yahoo paid $30 million for the rights to stream the Bill vs. Jaguars last year, according to the Baird analyst translating to 480 million minutes of streaming on its platform. While Twitter does not have exclusive rights like Yahoo did, the event will undoubtedly draw a lot of attention to Twitter’s video platform.

Sebastion however feels that while non-exclusive, the streaming rights provide cost effective bargain and an opportunity to re-engage with certain segments of its user base and attractive new users through the hype surrounding NFL. Twitter apparently wasn’t even the highest bidder so the company must have gotten a good deal and considering that Twitter is still posting a healthy profit this is an opportunity well taken to tutheir news centric platform and introduce live broadcasts to it.