The government shutdown continued in Washington this week, but the tech sector was up and running as new products rolled out ahead of the holiday shopping season.
On Tuesday, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Round smartphone, which it boasts is the world’s first with a curved display. The device packs a 5.7 inch full-HD super AMOLED flexible display, and will launch in Korea. No word yet on when the phone will be available stateside.
Google (GOOG) launched its latest Chromebook, the HP Chromebook 11, also on Tuesday at a retail price of $279.99. The device runs on Chrome OS, charges via micro-USB and comes with a suite of extras such as 100 gigabytes of free Google Drive cloud storage and 12 free passes for Gogo In-Flight Wi-Fi. The HP Chromebook 11 went on sale online at Amazon.com, Google Play and Best Buy on Tuesday.
Another twist in the story of troubled smartphone-maker BlackBerry (BBRY) emerged this week, as original co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin filed a form with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, disclosing the fact that they are exploring a possible takeover bid. The co-founders hold an 8% stake in the Canadian firm, which has already received an offer from its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial. Fairfax, which holds a 9.9% stake in BlackBerry, has offered $4.7 billion for its outstanding shares. Shares of BlackBerry rose nearly 5% this week.
Facebook (FB) announced the termination of one of its privacy features that allowed users to hide their profiles from search, meaning all profiles will be searchable by name. Facebook said a small percentage of users utilized the function, and the social network warned the feature would be removed earlier this year.
On Friday major television broadcasters filed a petition with the Supreme Court against Aereo, the startup backed by media mogul Barry Diller that uses antennas to enable its paid subscribers to watch and record network programming on mobile devices and PCs.
Networks ABC (DIS), CBS (CBS), NBCUniversal (CMCSA) and Fox Television Stations Inc.* (NWS) claim that Aereo, which is currently available in New York and Boston and with plans to roll out to other cities soon, violates their copyrights on programming and threatens revenue from cable networks. Similar cases filed by the broadcasters in lower courts have been largely unsuccessful. Aereo argues that since the signals broadcast free over the air, they are not a direct assault on revenue the networks receive from cable networks, which pay broadcasting fees.
*Fox Television Stations Inc. is a property of News Corporation, the parent company of this network.