Monthly Archives: August 2011

Google to Buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 Billion!

In a bid to strengthen its mobile business, Google announced on Monday that it would acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings, the cellphone business that was split from Motorola, for $40 a share in cash, or $12.5 billion.

The offer — by far Google’s largest ever for an acquisition — is 63 percent above the closing price of Motorola Mobility shares on Friday. Motorola manufactures phones that run on Google’s Android software.

Android has become an increasingly important platform for Google, as global smartphone adoption accelerates. The platform, launched in 2007, is now used in more than 150 million devices, with 39 manufacturers.

The acquisition would turn Google, which makes the Android mobile operating system, into a full-fledged cellphone manufacturer, in direct competition with Apple.

It appears that this is clearly a defensive deal, they were backed in a corner and they had to protect the Android platform. The deal answers a big question about Google’s next strategic step in wireless. Google has also been battling with Apple and Microsoft over patents.

Last month, Apple and Microsoft led a consortium of technology companies in a $4.5 billion purchase of roughly 6,000 patents from, now defunct, Nortel Networks, the Canadian telecommunications maker that filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Google, which lost out in the bidding, criticized the deal as an anticompetitive strategy. Several weeks later, Google acquired more than 1,000 patents from I.B.M.

Motorola holds more than 17,000 patents.

While the acquisition will move Google directly into the telecommunications hardware business, Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, said in a blog post that “this acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform. Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business.”

Still, the deal is certain to attract significant antitrust scrutiny. The Federal Trade Commission is already investigating Google’s dominance in several areas of its business. The company has agreed to pay a $2.5 billion reverse termination fee, if it walks away, and Motorola will pay a $375 million break-up fee if it takes another offer, according to a person close to the transaction, who was not authorized to speak.

In a conference call on Monday morning, Google said it was confident that it will be able to win regulatory approval, since the deal will ultimately improve competition in the smart phone market.

The acquisition of a major handset maker may still pose a significant challenge to the search giant, which has not specialized in manufacturing or marketing of smartphones. Last year, it closed down the online store for its first Google-branded phone, the Nexus One, citing the store’s underwhelming performance. A Motorola tie-up may also irk other phone manufacturers, like Samsung and HTC, which will now be competing directly with Google.

And while Google has made dozens of acquisitions in recent years, most of them have been for less than $1 billion — despite a current war chest of some $40 billion in cash. On the company’s official blog, Mr. Page said Google was purchasing the handset maker to bolster its Android mobile operating system and increase the number of patents it owned.

Android accounted for 43.4 percent of smartphone sales in the second quarter, according to Gartner Research, a major increase from the year ago period, when it made up about 17 percent of sales. The acquisition has been approved by both boards.

Carl C. Icahn, Motorola Mobility’s second-largest shareholder, had urged the company last month to “explore alternatives regarding its patent portfolio to enhance shareholder value.” Mr. Icahn owns 9.03 percent of Motorola Mobility. On Monday, he applauded the transaction, calling it “a great outcome for all shareholders of Motorola Mobility, especially in light of today’s markets. His 9.03 percent equates to over 33 million shares….. Monday was a VERY GOOD day for Mr. Icahn.

Getting What You Pay For!!!

This is not one of my regular Tech Tip posts and really has nothing at all to do with technology. It does have to do with another business process that I feel is the most important thing of all – Exellent Customer Service or in this case, the lack of it.

 I’ve been an avid fan and subscriber of a magazine called “Birds and Blooms” for many years. Pam and I enjoy the backyard articles and especially the high resolution pictures of flowers and birds from around our great country.

I’m not writing this article to try and convince you to subscribe to the magazine – my intent is to share with you what I consider a failing of customer service and relationship building that Birds and Blooms seems to think is not a problem.

In this month’s plastic encased edition of the magazine, there were the normal “blow in” postcards trying to get you to re-subscribe, buy something extra and any number of promotional offers that always seem to fall out and just get in the way. I guess this is a proven marketing program otherwise why would so many magazine publishers continue to utilize it. Personally, this stuff is simply a pain and gets recycled with little fanfare.

In this issue there was also a 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper that started off with:

“Dear Subscriber,

“We are pleased to present you with this very special, bigger-than-ever September issue.

Each issue of Birds and Blooms we create is a labor of love. And the magazine you hold right now is no exception. We’ve had more fun than ever putting this greatly expanded “Fall Gardening” edition just for subscribers like you.”  blah, blah, blah…..

Sounds like just another, all too common, marketing letter unless you read the whole thing. Perhaps I was bored or something as I would normally have already sent this piece to the recycling bin. Instead I continued to read it through to the end.

To my surprise, a few more paragraphs in, here’s the “reason” for the letter. 

“This edition is so big, in fact, that we are treating is as a special issue that will count toward two of your subscriber issues, so the duration of your subscription will be adjusted accordingly.”

WHAT – did I actually just read that because they made this month’s issue larger, my paid in full subscription period was going to be cut back by one issue???

I wonder – is this even legal? In my opinion, it shouldn’t be and it’s most certainly not an ethical way to treat loyal subscribers of their magazine. How would this type situation play out in other industries? I wonder how MY clients would react if I attempted the same thing with their monthly ProWatch subscription?

To that end, it appears that Birds and Blooms also had some reservations with this action because they added this line:

“We hope you’ll agree that it is well worth it. But, if for any reason you are not completely satisfied, please call us at xxx-xxx-xxx, email us at customercare@, or write us at Birds and Blooms Customer Service…..” and we’ll be happy to credit your subscription. Thank you. Its loyal customers like you who make our magazine so successful.”

What do you think? Do they REALLY appreciate their loyal customers like me pulling a stunt like this? How many other subscribers didn’t take the time to read what looks like just another marketing piece and will suffer a shortened subscription period that’s was already paid in full for the original duration.  How many of you regularily check how many months might be left on your magazine subscriptions. I don’t check the label every month as I know I can count on the publisher to start bugging me with renewal notices 6-7 months prior to the end of my subscription.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you experienced a complete lack of customer care or service from a company you do business with?

By the way – I did send this exact letter to Birds and Bloom Customer Care as I for one do not want my subscription cut back. I’ll let you know if, when and how they respond when I update my blog.

A Powerful Windows Tool Everyone Should Have

We’re always looking for programs that add functionality to a user’s computing environment.  There are a few pre-requisites that need to be met before we’ll test and share our findings and today’s entry meets the muster.

Basically, the application has to “do something” of value that most people would be happy to pay a fee for and the program has to be within the financial reach of the masses. Recuva (pronounced Recover) is one of those applications that I think should live in every PC user’s All Programs group.

File undelete has been a mainstay of the PC utility market since the early days of DOS. As far as I’m concerned, there’s never been a tool that performs file undelete better than Recuva. It’s fast, thorough, and absolutely free.

When you empty the Windows Recycle Bin trash, the files aren’t immediately destroyed; rather, the space they occupy is earmarked as available for new data. Undelete routines scan the many bits and bytes of your hard drive, then put the pieces back together again. As long as you haven’t added new data to a drive, undelete (almost) always works; even if you’ve added data, there’s a good chance you can get most of the deleted stuff back.

Recuva’s repertoire goes well beyond the Windows recycle bin. Use it to undelete data on a USB drive, a camera’s memory card, or even an MP3 player.

Having been personally presented a number of camera cards over the years, with the photographer complaining that all their pictures were gone,… I think this is one of the most important PC utilities a camera owner can have.

To make things even easier, there’s a “thumb nail view that allows you to visually browse deleted images for the specific file you want. Recuva uses a red-yellow-green light metaphor to indicate your chances of fully recovering deleted files. Very easy to understand and use.

Warning: The installer offers to install the Yahoo toolbar but you’re free to eliminate this add-on during the installation routine.

Here’s a link describing  some of the powerful features of Recuva: http://www.piriform.com/recuva/features

This program is brought to you but the makers of CCleaner – a familiar file optimization and cleaning tool – which happens to be another free tool we use and recommend all the time.

Download Recuva here: http://www.piriform.com/recuva
Recuva is available for: Windows 7, Vista, XP; Windows Server 2008, 2003

Top 10 Internet Scams

Anatomy of a Scam:

Scams like this are all over the internet…
1: The hook: Click here to win a new iPad2
2: The frustration: Just one more step to get your FREE iPad
3: The redirect: Oops, looks like you’re not logged in.
4: The folly: Log in here
5: The payoff: Oops. Looks like there was a problem logging you in….. (But thanks for your credentials…)
Here’s the Top 10 List provided by the Massachusetts Better Business Bureau

Job Hunter Scams
Pitch:  We will match you up with a perfect job that’s already and waiting for you.
Target:
Bank account and/or Social Security numbers.
Result: Victims must pay a fee to be considered for a job.  Out of money they don’t have, still no job.

Debt Relief and Settlement Services
Pitch: We will help you eliminate most of all your debt (for a fraction of the amount you owe).
Target:
  Collection of upfront fee(s) in order to “settle your debts.”
Results:  Potentially leave the consumer drowning in even more debt than they started with and completely ruin their credit.

Work from Home Schemes
Pitch: Fire your boss! We can teach you the secrets to making money online, assembling items at home or being a mystery shopper.
Target:
  Employees tired of the same 9-5 routine.  In some cases, they unknowingly work to fence stolen goods.
Result: Instead of getting paid, you can end up losing hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars or in legal trouble.

Timeshare Resellers
Pitch:   We will help you get out from under your costly vacation property and do it fast.
Target:
  Collect several thousand dollars to cover fees.
Result:  After paying the fees, the seller never hears from the company again.

Not So “Free” Trail Offers
Pitch:  Try a free offer and never be charged – unless you want to continue the offer.
Target:
Repeated monthly billings.
Result:   The free trial offers seem easy, the consumer is repeatedly billed every month and is difficult to cancel.

Rogue Home Repair/Roofers
Pitch:   We can get that tree out with half down, and fix your roof for a fraction of what that guy is going to charge you.

Target: Initial upfront fee(s) to get the job started.
Result:  Homeowners are often stuck with either an unfinished or never started project and are out the initial money as well.

Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams
Pitch:  You have won a large lottery or sweepstakes and just have to cover taxes before
receiving your money.
Target:
  Payment under the guise of “covering taxes” or other bogus “fees”.
Result:   The victim wires the money, but the prize or money never arrives.

Advance-Fee Loan Scams
Pitch:   You or your business qualifies for a large loan but you must pay some upfront fees.
Target:
  Initial upfront fee(s) – often more than a thousand dollars.
Result:  The victim wires “the fee” to the scammers but never receives the loan.

Over-Payment Scams
Pitch:  Oops, I accidentally sent you too much money, would you please wire some back?
Target:
Any amount of money that is wired back.
Result:   Transaction is reversed, and the victim is out the money wired back to the scammers.

Identity Theft
Pitch:   Hi, this is a very legitimate business, we need to confirm some information today, is that ok?
Target:
  Gathering personal sensitive information to open lines of credit or just straight stealing money from the victim’s account.
Result:   Victim is left spending countless hours trying to repair all of the damage the thieves have done or are still doing.

For more information on how to protect yourself and your family, visit Microsoft’s Safety and Security Center: http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/phishing-scams.aspx

Special thanks to the Better Business Bureau for this timely information. http://boston.bbb.org

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