Category Archives: Finance

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Is The Biggest Worldwide Debut Ever with $476M

Warner Bros. Pictures released the following statement on the record-breaking worldwide debut of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2:

With an astounding estimated worldwide box office total of more than $476 million, Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” shattered multiple domestic and international box office records in a history-making opening weekend. The announcement was made today by Warner Bros. Pictures President of Domestic Distribution, Dan Fellman, and President of International Distribution, Veronika Kwan-Rubinek.

The finale of the globally beloved film series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” earned a stunning $168.5 million at the domestic box office, which not only is the biggest Harry Potter opening weekend but also obliterated the industry’s opening weekend record, including holiday weekends. Among the other records broken were single-day box office (Friday at $92.1 million), Friday box office, and opening day box office.

Opening day-and-date in 59 territories, the international box office take was a staggering $307 million, making it the biggest international weekend of all time. Led by record-breaking grosses in the UK ($36.6 million) and Australia ($26.7 million), all markets have performed exceedingly well, including Germany ($25.7 million), France ($23.9 million) and Japan ($21.5 million).

Globally, it also broke the IMAX opening weekend record with a worldwide gross of $23.5 million, which includes setting a new record in North America with $15.5 million.

The film began breaking records even before its opening, as unprecedented advance ticket sales gave the first indication of just how huge the box office bow would be. Midnight opening screenings not only met but exceeded those expectations, with $43.5 million at the domestic box office alone.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” is the final adventure in the Harry Potter film series. In the epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war. The stakes have never been higher and no one is safe. But it is Harry Potter who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as he draws closer to the climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort. It all ends here.

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Square Payment System

 

Square is a simple and easy payment platform created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey that lets anyone process credit cards with the aid of a tiny free magnetic card reader that attaches to a iPhone or iPad.

Simply swipe a credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express and Discover), let customers sign directly on the screen and send them an email or text message receipt. Customers can even add a tip as they sign. The app provides full reports on sales patterns and inventory.

There are no complicated contracts, monthly fees or merchant account necessary. With each swipe there is just one fee: 2.75%. Download the free app from the iTunes App Store.

Square obsoletes cash registers and credit card terminals with this groundbreaking payment system transforming everyday transactions between buyers and sellers.

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Google Wallet

Google Wallet (Free) connects your credit card (Citi MasterCards or Google Prepaid cards) with your NFC-capable Android phone to let you pay at any PayPass-capable terminal, and also lets you take advantage of exclusive Google Offers. Money is so out of style, use your smartphone to pay for transactions at stores like CVS, 7-11, Rite Aid and Office Depot.

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Microsoft To Acquire Skype For $8.5 Billion

Microsoft has announced that it has entered into an agreement with Skype Global to acquire VoIP service provider Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. According to the announcement, the agreement has already been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and “will increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications, bringing benefits to both consumers and enterprise users and generating significant new business and revenue opportunities.” With 170 million users, Skype will be integrated into Microsoft devices like Xbox, Windows Phone, and Windows, while Microsoft will in turn connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities, and will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on other, non-Microsoft platforms. “Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”

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Which Borders Book Stores Are Closing?

Borders Group Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection Wednesday and said it will close about 30% of its stores nationwide in the coming weeks. HERE is the full list of stores closing. Click on the column headers to sort.

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Verizon Offering $200 Credit To Recent Phone Buyers Upgrading To iPhone 4

Verizon’s iPhone 4 FAQ page indicates that it will offer a $200 credit to recent phone purchasers who would like to buy an iPhone instead. “Current Verizon customers who purchased and activated new smartphones, feature phones or certified pre-owned phones between 11/26/2010, and 01/10/2011, are eligible to receive up to a $200 Visa debit card when they purchase an iPhone 4 at full retail price by 02/28/2011 and return their existing phone,” reads the page. It also notes that the offer will only be available on consumer accounts with five of less lines, and to be eligible the customer must purchase the iPhone 4 through Verizon Wireless stores, telesales, or from the company’s website. Verizon Wireless will launch the iPhone 4 on February 10.

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EBay’s Instant Sale Offers Cash for Old Electronics

Have a dead cell phone kicking around in your electronics drawer? No more excuses to keep it there. Auction giant eBay just made it easy to ditch such items in a sustainable manner with Instant Sale, a tool that allows users to almost instantly swap gadgets for money.

Here’s how it works: type in the name, make, and model of a device, answer a few questions about its condition, and eBay makes a cash offer. If you decide to accept the offer, the site generates a shipping label and slips cash in your Paypal account once eBay receives the device for recycling.

Users can make a decent amount of cash with eBay’s program. A Droid Eris in good condition, for example, fetches $87. And a first generation 16GB iPod Touch yields $38 (with the charger included). Even products with zero value can still be shipped to eBay for recycling–for free, of course. (Reprinted from Fast Company – Thanks for the tip Don)

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Duel Saving Bank

The Duel Saving Bank ($39) turns saving into a game. How? By throwing a little competition into the mix. Two compartments allow for the user to decide between the options: handbag vs. food, travel vs. restaurant…you choose your dilemma and can change your mind often since this white porcelain can be easily written on and erased over and over again…The red silicone band slides on and off to make cashing a breeze. The middle partition shows in a playful way who is leading or which dream can be fulfilled first. (Thanks for the tip Meredith)

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Paste Magazine Suspends Print Publication

According to a statement on their website, Paste magazine has suspended its print edition after eight years of publication. Its online edition will continue. The award-winning monthly was best known for its music coverage of Americana and indie rock, but also featured writing on film, TV, books, and videogames.

The announcement follows in a sad trend of music magazine closings that includes Blender. Last year, Paste asked for fan donations to help it through financial troubles, but “mounting debt” has “forced a hiatus,” according to the official message.

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Will The iPhone Become Your iWallet?

A collection of recently published patents and a new hire at Apple suggest that future iPhones may carry built-in features to replace your credit cards.

Apple recently hired Benjamin Vigier as a product manager for mobile commerce. He’s an expert in near field communication (NFC), a technology that enables devices to exchange information wirelessly over very short distances. It’s the kind of technology that credit card companies have been touting (without much success) recently, where instead of swiping a credit card, you just wave a card or key fob in front of a reader. According to his LinkedIn profile, Vigier formerly directed and developed mobile payment solutions for PayPal and Starbucks.

In addition, Apple in recent months published several patent applications that portray NFC-based hardware and software features utilizing mobile payments for concerts, sports venues, airline ticketing and more.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

A growing number of businesses have been eyeing mobile payments as an alternative to credit cards. Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile were planning a joint venture to form a mobile payment system competing with Visa and MasterCard. Such a move would presumably reduce costs to merchants, who are typically charged 3 percent of the purchase price when customers pay with a credit card.

However, as Wired.com’s Eliot Van Buskirk earlier reported, a mobile payment system would face difficulty breaking into the mainstream. In order for mobile payments to gain widespread adoption, merchants would have to purchase new readers, estimated at $200 per unit, and they’d have to be convinced that a large number of customers will be using the new payment system.

Also, a new mobile payment system would raise security concerns. A location that frequently performs wireless transactions would become a prime target for hackers and snoopers. One reason credit cards have been so successful is that they rely on leased lines and dedicated networks, which ensure reliability and security, according to Aaron MacPherson, IDC Financial Insights practice director for payments and security.

“Even if you’re using a mobile phone network, you do not want to be in a situation where you can’t pay because there’s no 3G signal … and the internet is susceptible to brownouts and denial-of-service attacks. It’s notoriously insecure,” MacPherson told Wired.com. “I don’t think either of them can substitute for the card networks.” (Reprinted from Wired.com)

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Freakonomics Trailer

Here is the first official trailer for the Magnolia-distributed cinematic adaptation of Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner best-selling pop-econ book Freakonomics.

The film, which was directed by acclaimed documentarians Seth Gordon, Morgan Spurlock, Alex Gibney, Eugene Jarecki, Rachel Grady, and Heidi Ewing, is set to hit iTunes on September 3rd and theaters on October 1st.

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Gold Dispensing ATM

Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace has redefined luxury by adding a gold-dispensing machine. The ATM-style kiosk monitors the daily gold price and offers small 10g bars or customized coins.

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Coming Soon: Use Your Visa By Waving Your iPhone

You’ve probably seen contactless payment terminals before. They’re used in many stores, restaurants, and other locations, with either a smart credit card containing a secure memory card or some sort of fob being used to make the payment. You just wave it at the terminal, and you’ve paid your bill.

Visa and DeviceFidelity are working on a way to let iPhone users make payments by waving their iPhones in front of contactless payment terminals. They’ll be offering an iPhone case with an embedded secure memory card that hosts Visa’s payment application, Visa payWave.

Any place you find a Visa contactless payment terminal, there will also be a potential spot for iPhone users to pay for goods or services using their Visa credit card account. Security is still important: Visa notes that the mobile payment application can be protected with a password, and that users will have to treat the case as if it were a credit card, calling the bank if it gets lost or stolen.

Market trials of this service are expected to start this summer. It’s an interesting proposal, but we’ll have to see what the case looks like.


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The 2010 TIME 100 World’s Most Influential People List

TIME Magazine has just published their 100 world’s most influential people list for 2010.

Some of the people you’ll encounter on this list are influential in the traditional sense — heads of state like Barack Obama, corporate leaders like Robin Li, CEO of the Chinese search-engine company Baidu. But the magazine also sought out people whose ideas and actions are revolutionizing their fields and transforming lives — like Matt Berg, who is using text-messaging technology to improve community health monitoring in Africa, and Rahul Singh, whose organization GlobalMedic was among the first on the ground after January’s Haiti earthquake, providing millions of gallons of water to those most in need. You might not have heard their names before, but their innovations and efforts will help change the world for years to come.

The 2010 TIME 100 boasts some innovations too. The issue has multiple covers, wrapping front and back around the magazine. The list is now consolidated into four categories — leaders, artists, thinkers and heroes.

You can see the list HERE.


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HP Buys Palm

HP has just announced that it’s acquiring Palm to the tune of $1.2 billion, which works out to $5.70 per share of Palm common stock. The deal is planned to close by July 31, which marks the end of HP’s third fiscal quarter of the year. Current Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein is “expected to remain with the company,” though it’s not said in what capacity. HERE is the press release.

“Smartphones are a part of the equation but this is really about the Web operating system,” Shane Robison, HP’s chief strategy and technology officer, told Forbes. “It’s a change in our business model to a connected device model.” HP, he said, is assuming a world in which almost everything needs at least the potential to connect to the Internet.

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Who Are The Richest Cartoon Characters of All Time?

One of the staples of cartoons is a character that’s unbelievably rich. The one who’s capable of anything because of their bank account, be it blocking out the sun or sculpting their likeness in the side of a mountain. But of these animated tycoons, who’s the richest? Check it out HERE.

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The Best Times to Buy Anything, All Year Round

You’re always hearing about off-season, post-peak times to save money on purchases and food, but it always arrives too late. Lifehacker has compiled a timeline and lots of best-time-to-buy suggestions into one post to help you plan a more frugal 2010.

They scoured the net for advice from financial sites, gadget bloggers, and other sources on the best times to buy particular items, ranging from little goods you can stock up on (aluminum foil) to big-time purchases you can easily overpay for in the wrong season (boats). Read more HERE.

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Apple Purchases Music Site Lala.com

Apple confirmed yesterday that it has purchased online music retailer Lala.com, a smaller technology company that has developed an as-yet-unreleased application for streaming songs to the iPhone. Though Apple has not provided any further information, such as how much the deal was worth or what it plans to do with this acquisition, Lala’s streaming application promised to give users the right to stream songs to their iPhones an unlimited number of times for $0.10 per song, significantly less than the price of songs on the iTunes Store; the tracks could be purchased thereafter. Apple was said to be interested in Lala’s technical expertise, including its payment and streaming technologies, rather than its specific application. The company was launched in 2006 as an online CD-trading site but relaunched in October 2008 as a music retailer.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Apple may be looking to expand iTunes by offering streaming services in addition to their traditional download model. The source, who asked not to be named, stated that “Apple recognizes that the model is going to evolve into a streaming one and this could probably propel iTunes to the next level.”

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Disney To Acquire Marvel Comics

According to Business Wire, the Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment and its portfolio of 5,000 characters for $4 billion. The deal will be made in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced Monday. The deal will be made final with approval by shareholders. The transaction price will be based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, which was $50 per Marvel share.

“This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories,” said Robert A. Iger, president and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company.

Marvel Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a library of over 5,000 characters featured in a variety of media over 70 years in comic books, animation, television, film and merchandising.

Disney Spidey

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Google In Talks To Acquire Twitter

TechCrunch reports that Google is in late stage negotiations to acquire Twitter, the free social messaging utility. If this is accurate, it’s a brilliant deal for Google – the value of Twitter is only going to go up over time.

And it will be Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone’s second sale to Google – they sold Blogger to them just five years ago.

 

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Shelf Life Guide

How long will your favorite food or beverage stay safe and tasty?  What is the best way to store it? Click HERE to find out.

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Star-Bucks

Mark Brooks wondered what currency might look like in a galaxy ruled by the Empire. Created for the Star Wars Fan Days in 2007, the result is the “Starbuck”.

He says, “As a guest artist and I wanted to do something for the show. There’s a lot of artwork out there most as posters, lithographs or prints so I wanted to do something different. While watching The original Star wars I realized that talk of money is thrown around quite a lot but you never actually see it (other than Han flipping the bartender a coin after shooting Greedo). I thought it would be cool to design a piece of Imperial currency as I saw it. I designed it mostly after American money but used some European influences as well.” … “Darth Vader was used on the 1 credit bill for the same reason the most famous American, George Washington, was used on the one dollar bill. It’s the first standard credit the Empire uses to measure its rate to other currency so I used the most recognizable figure from Star Wars. The Death Star is under construction instead of a completed Death Star to show the growth of the Empire and its ever expanding reach. It’s symbolic more than anything else. Yes, they probably used universal credit cards or something else but I thought this would be cool, nothing more, nothing less.”

starbuck

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Scenes From The Recession

The state of our global economy: foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies, layoffs, abandoned projects, and the people and industries caught in the middle. It can be difficult to capture financial pressures in photographs, but HERE are a few recent glimpses into some of the places and lives affected by what some are calling the “Great Recession”.

 

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Jon Stewart Creams Jim Cramer On The Daily Show

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What Does One Trillion Dollars Look like?

Click HERE to see what bundles of money look like ranging from $10,000 to one trillion dollars.

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