Stories for Dec. 4, 2013

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In Brief

Just days after clearing the U.S. Department of Justice, Microsoft’s plan to purchase Nokia’s Devices and Services business for $7.2 billion got the European Commission’s stamp of approval. On Wednesday, the EU body outlined three main reasons to let the deal happen, including Microsoft’s low Windows Phone market share, saying that Apple and Samsung will continue to compete with the merged entity. The Commission also saw no risk to Microsoft holding back Windows Phone from handset makers other than Nokia, nor Skype or Office from other platforms.

On The Web

Since the start of 2012, home automation startups have raised $468M across 56 deals. Surprisingly, most of those have not been the recent flurry of smaller rounds for SmartThings ($12.5 million), Zonoff ($3.8 million) or Revolv ($4 million), but from companies like Alarm.com ($136 million) and Nest ($80 million) raising really large rounds. Check out the CB Insights story for a nifty chart!

In Brief

After a Cyber Monday snafu, the Moto X went on sale again this morning at 9AM PT. But it appears that Motorola underestimated demand, as the allocated supply of discounted phones has already run out. The sale requires you to register with your name and email address at Motorola’s site to get a $150 discount code on an off-contract Moto X ordered through Moto Maker. But if you go there now, you’ll only see a message that says “We’ve sold all the phones we allotted for this promotion.” If you missed out you can try again on December 9, though. Same time, same place.

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In Brief

highlandforrest
Yesterday I wrote about Intel’s great big telecommunications market takeover plan, and on Wednesday the chip giant unleashed a networking chip that can offer some pretty intense competition for the network processors from the established vendors. Highland Forest is the third generation of Intel’s networking processors and can process up to 255 million packets per second. Rose Schooler, a VP and GM in Intel’s Data Center Group, says Intel currently has 17 pilots in the telecommunications space with seven of those being public today.

In Brief

London-based early-stage venture capital firm Hoxton Ventures officially revealed itself on Wednesday, despite having already made some quiet investments into startups Campanja and (according to TechCrunch) Tizaro. The firm will make 4 to 6 investments a year from its $40 million fund, which will apparently soon close at $50 million. Europe may be experiencing a much-needed boom in early-stage investment — Hoxton Ventures’ rivals include the likes of London’s Balderton Capital, Wellington Partners and MMC Ventures, and Berlin’s Earlybird and Point Nine Capital.

In Brief

People have the right to protect the use of our name and likeness, but what do we do about technology that can sense the shape of our face? The Hill reports that the Obama administration and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) will hold the first of a series of monthly meetings in February to discuss “a voluntary, enforceable code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies to facial recognition technology,” according to the NTIA. The proposed policy comes as more companies are building facial recognition technology into their features.

In Brief

One big advantage of Apple’s Lightning connectors over industry-standard Micro-USB (technically “Micro-B”) connectors is that they can go either way up – you don’t need to look first to see which way to insert it. Perhaps with that in mind, as well as the rise of thinner devices, the USB Implementors Forum said (PDF) on Tuesday that a new Type-C connector will offer the same benefit and more. It will be agnostic not only about orientation but also cable direction, and will be around the same size as today’s Micro-B connectors – prepare to say goodbye to the existing USB plug form factor after the specification is finalised in mid-2014.

Stories for Dec. 3, 2013
In Brief

It’s been a while since 1996, so Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, said Tuesday that it’s time to rewrite the Communications Act. The plan is to start generating hearings, white papers and the discussions necessary to start this process in 2015. This is a law that governs how communications infrastructure operates, and has its roots in railroad legislation from the 1800s. Since we’re moving beyond the dial-up modems of ’96 and into gigabit connections, an update makes sense. For those who want to follow the legislative action there’s a hashtag (#commsactupdate). Of course.

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