Technology Now
The business and culture of our digital lives
Ahead of blockbuster IPO, Alibaba raises price range to $66-$68 a share

Alibaba is seeing huge demand for its initial public offering and has raised the price range of its shares to $66 to $68. The Chinese Internet behemoth is expected to go public on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. 

The company disclosed the higher range in an amended filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. 

Its previous range, announced Sept. 5, was $60 to $66 a share. It expects to offer 320.1 million American depositary shares. 

At $68 a share, Alibaba would raise $25.03 billion at a valuation of $170 billion, which would make it the biggest IPO ever. In comparison, Facebook raised $16 billion at a market value of $104 billion when it went public in 2012. 

Alibaba is currently in the middle of a two-week international road show during which it has been pitching the deal to institutional investors. 

According to PrivCo, at least 50 institutional investors have submitted share allocation requests of $1 billion or more. 

The final price will be nailed...

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Apple says iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus orders broke record

Pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus topped a record-breaking 4 million in the first 24 hours the phones were on sale, according to Apple

The first iPhones will be delivered to some customers Friday, but many who pre-ordered will have to wait until next month to get their hands on the new devices. People who wait in the now-traditional epic lines at Apple stores on Friday also may be able to snag a new phone, but supplies there will not be endless either. 

In comparison, Apple reported in 2012 that the iPhone 5 sold at a pace of about 2 million in 24 hours. The record-breaking sales last week also spurred myriad complaints of problems.

The new iPhones were supposed to be available for pre-order online Friday at midnight, but once the clock struck 12 and customers around the U.S. refreshed their Web browsers, nothing happened. Many continued seeing Apple's standard "We'll be back" message for hours.

Apple and the wireless carriers have routinely sold out of their first-day...

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PewDiePie, YouTube's most popular star, to premiere videos on MLG.tv

PewDiePie, whose nearly 31 million subscribers on YouTube have made him the video website's most-watched star, will begin uploading some videos on a competing website before they appear on YouTube.

New episodes of "BroKen," a recently created online show dedicated to discussions about video games and pop culture, will air initially on MLG.tv starting Monday night. Episodes won't be available on YouTube until 24 hours later. Many consider MLG.tv the ESPN of the online gaming world, and PewDiePie is among the biggest personalities in gaming commentary.

“Our vision for MLG.tv is to make it the home for premium content and producers like PewDiePie and his show ‘BroKen,'” said Ryan Wyatt, Major League Gaming's vice president of programming. “This type of programming deal with PewDiePie, one of the biggest stars in digital media, is a great example of the premier talent we have joining the growing MLG.tv lineup."

The deal ought to be a lucrative one for Felix Kjellberg, a 24-year-old Swede...

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Microsoft agrees to $2.5-billion deal to purchase 'Minecraft'

Microsoft Corp. plans to spend $2.5 billion to buy what it called the most popular online game on Xbox, the building adventure title "Minecraft."

“Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft," Satya Nadella, Microsoft's chief executive, said in a statement Monday.

The purchase of the game maker Stockholm, Sweden-based Mojang is expected to close late this year. Compared with Microsoft's blockbuster "Halo" franchise, "Minecraft" should give the company a younger audience to which it could introduce other Microsoft products and services, analysts said. It also establishes another Microsoft-branded product on competing operating systems, which is among the chief goals for Nadella.

Addressing one of the main concerns of Minecraft players responding to rumors of a deal, Microsoft said it plans to continue making Minecraft available across...

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Netropolitan.club: A Facebook for rich people

Busy? Loaded? “Seeking a place to talk about fine wine, fancy cars and lucrative business decisions without judgment”? Netropolitan.club may be looking for you.

Netropolitan.club is no mere social network. It’s an “exclusive online country club” for “busy individuals, hungry for a place to communicate with like-minded people,” according to its public relations firm, Media Minefield.

“Just like all the best country clubs, Netropolitan members will pay $9,000 to join and $3,000 each year after.”

It launches Tuesday.

Netropolitan.club is the brainchild of James Touchi-Peters, a music composer, performer and former conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra.

“James and others have mentioned feeling judged for talking about certain topics on other social media outlets. Like they were bragging and met with a little ill will,” messaging specialist Michelle Lawless at Media Minefield told the Los Angeles Times. “Netropolitan is designed to be the place to talk about your last European...

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Apple bungles iPhone 6 and 6 Plus pre-orders

It was a rough night for a lot of Apple fans.

The new iPhones were supposed to be available for pre-order online Friday at midnight, but once the clock struck 12 and customers around the U.S. refreshed their Web browsers, nothing happened. Many continued seeing Apple's standard "We'll be back" message for hours.

Apple and the wireless carriers have routinely sold out of their first-day supplies of the latest iPhones in the past, but the pre-order process this time around seemed particularly inept.

The fury was swift, as scores of hopeful iPhone buyers rushed onto Twitter to vent their frustrations. The #BadApple and #fail hashtags were popular. Some joked that the company wouldn't have missed the midnight mark if it had used an Apple Watch. Others compared the botched pre-order process to Apple's shoddy livestream from its launch event on Tuesday.

Others weighed in with advice, which included going through the Apple Store app to purchase, toggling between different iPhone sizes to...

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U.S. threatened Yahoo with big fines for not divulging user data

The federal government once threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day for not complying with a national security-related request to hand over user data, the company said Thursday.

The announcement, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as part of a larger revelation: About 1,500 pages of documents related to Yahoo's 2007-08 case challenging U.S. surveillance law are being released, the company's general counsel, Ron Bell, said on Tumblr.

Cases in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which reviews government requests to spy on individuals, are classified.

"The released documents underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the U.S. government’s surveillance efforts," Bell said. 

The Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also announced the declassification of the documents Thursday.

Yahoo, they said in a statement, was required “to assist the U.S. government in acquiring foreign intelligence information...

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Apple fans in China disappointed: No iPhone 6 for now

Over the years, Apple has faced a variety of challenges in bringing its products to Chinese consumers. For its soon-to-be-released iPhone 6, the company may be running up against the Chinese government’s determination to push forward the nation’s homegrown 4G standard.

Apple disappointed millions of Chinese fans this week when it said that its latest iPhone would not go on sale in mainland China on Sept. 19, the date it is to hit stores in the U.S. and nine other territories.

The Cupertino, Calif., company has not said when the new phone will be available on the mainland. When Apple released the iPhone 5s last year, the device went on sale in China at the same time as in the rest of the world. So the situation with the iPhone 6 has led to rampant speculation in the Chinese press. 

One of the most popular theories: Apple got caught up in the Chinese government’s plan to build a 4G network dominated by the indigenous TD LTE standard. Most of the rest of the world’s 4G networks run on a...

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T-Mobile rolls out new Wi-Fi calling and personal cell spots

T-Mobile held a media event Wednesday ostensibly to announce a slew of new Wi-Fi initiatives. But Chief Executive John Legere couldn't resist getting in a few jabs at rivals Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

The outspoken Legere opened the event, held in a bar below one of its San Francisco stores, by mocking the three biggest wireless carriers.

"I want to thank the three stooges for helping us deliver the biggest month ever," Legere, wearing his usual hot pink T-Mobile T-shirt, told the crowd of reporters and T-Mobile employees. In August, the Bellevue, Wash., carrier had 2.75 million gross additions -- the most new customers it has ever added in a single month. 

But he said T-Mobile is just getting started and would continue to "drag the industry kicking and screaming into the future."

As part of that plan, T-Mobile unveiled the latest moves to disrupt the wireless industry. 

With Wi-Fi Unleashed, the company is giving all of its customers the ability to call and text over any Wi-Fi...

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For Internet Slowdown Day, tech companies display mock 'loading' icons

If you see the “spinning wheel of death” on some of your favorite sites Wednesday, don’t worry -- your Internet connection probably isn’t any slower.

But a whole host of tech companies displaying the iconic “loading” symbol Wednesday as a form of protest say it could be something to worry about if federal regulators pass new rules that change how Internet companies treat speeds.

Dozens of Internet-based companies such as Netflix, Reddit, Kickstarter and Etsy are participating in Internet Slowdown Day, a protest in support of net neutrality.

That doesn’t actually mean the sites will load any slower, but many are featuring the “loading” symbol as part of a campaign to urge users to contact lawmakers and the FCC.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering setting new rules for online traffic that could allow Internet service providers charge companies to deliver their content at higher speeds.

That doesn’t sit well with firms such as Netflix, which rely on speedy connections to...

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Apple Watch: Battery life, iPhone dependence, other troubling issues

The Apple Watch, which is to go on sale early next year with more than 20 different looks and a minimum price of $349, has its share of innovations: A screen made out of sapphire glass on some versions to increase its scratch-resistance. A "digital touch" feature that allows people to give their contacts physical taps on the wrist via the Internet. And an invention Apple compared to the iPod’s click wheel – a watch crown that can be pressed or rotated to scroll, access Siri and return to the main screen.
 
There were some details, though, that Apple didn’t discuss much Tuesday that could become troublesome for Apple Watch’s success.
 
Battery life

In announcing Apple Watch, the company made no mention of the word "battery." You charge the watch by slapping a magnetic connector onto its back, a solution that came out of a goal “to make Apple Watch easy to charge in the dark without looking while being only partially awake,” Apple said.

Turns out that process might have to happen every...

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Deezer, the French Spotify, targets high end in U.S. with Sonos

San Francisco-based Listen.com launched Rhapsody, the first online music subscription service, late in 2001, long before Netflix had a single customer for its streaming videos. Today, Netflix has more subscribers in the U.S. alone -- 36 million -- than there are paying subscribers to on-demand music services around the world -- an estimated 30 million.

A pessimist might say U.S. consumers, whose appetite for CDs has declined sharply since 2001, aren't enthusiastic about on-demand services, either. But an optimist might argue that the consumers just haven't been given the right offer yet.

Tyler Goldman falls into the latter camp.

Goldman is head of North American operations for Deezer, the world's second-most popular music subscription service. The French company, which has about 5 million paid subscribers in 182 countries, announced Wednesday that it plans to enter the U.S. market with a new service called Deezer Elite, whose distinguishing feature is extremely high-quality audio...

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