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Microsoft is now offering general availability of its Azure cloud service in China, becoming the first multinational company to provide public cloud services in the Middle Kingdom. Microsoft is partnering with 21Vianet, a Chinese data center services provider, a marriage that likely helped appease Beijing officials. Until now, all major cloud providers in China have been Chinese.


Sony has revealed that it will not change its smartwatch strategy in light of the recent announcement of Android Wear, Google’s wearable-specific version of Android. Instead, Sony will continue use its own Smartwatch platform that is also built on Android but hasn’t caught fire in the consumer market.

China Seeks Answers About NSA/Huawei Report

China’s government is asking the U.S. to explain itself — and to knock it off with all the cyberespionage — following reports that the National Security Agency has had its way with Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

The NSA reportedly penetrated Huawei servers to monitor communications among company executives, and to gain access to the dealings of Huawei customers. Huawei does business all over the world, of course, so knowing its ins-and-outs is quite the snooping boon.

Even fervent believers in American exceptionalism will appreciate the double-standard at play. Congress, after all, has long chided Huawei, warning that the company would carry out the sort of surveillance against the U.S. that, lo, the U.S. had been carrying out against the company.

Qik closing down April 30 and pushing users to Skype

Qik, the video calling and messaging service that Skype acquired in 2011, is shutting down next month. Having already replicated the Qik feature set in Skype, there’s no longer a need to maintain the app. Users can continue using Qik until April 30, 2014, but the apps will cease working that day. Videos recorded on Qik will also be deleted, so members must use the dashboard to download their content from the dashboard to save their videos or upload them to YouTube. Videos sent by VideoMail will not be able to be downloaded. Qik says that Premium users will be refunded for service after the cancellation date, and more information can be found at the source link below.

Source: Qik

Pandora One subscription costs will go up in May


Pandora has announced that the costs of doing business have risen “exponentially” since it first began offering premium subscriptions in 2009, and as a result, it must raise prices for its ad-free Pandora One service. Citing a 53 percent increase in costs in the past five years, Pandora says it will increase the costs of its monthly premium listening package to $4.99 for new customers.

Current monthly customers who keep their accounts active will continue to pay $3.99. Annual subscribers who pay $36 per year will be moved to a $3.99 monthly package when their current subscription renews because Pandora is ending its annual plans. What once cost $36 will cost $59.88 as a result of the price shift, but it’s necessary for Pandora to raise prices in light of rising cost of paying royalties for streaming music on its service.

The new rates go into effect in May, so anyone thinking of getting a premium Pandora subscription has six weeks to lock in the smaller price today.


Is an 8GB iPhone 5c really the answer?

Apple iPhone 5c
Apple iPhone 5c


Apple yesterday revealed a cheaper iPhone 5c that obviously looks like an attempt to drum up sales for the struggling phone. Apple has never revealed how many 5c’s have been sold since the phone was introduced last fall, but plenty of anecdotal evidence and reports from analysts have suggested that the numbers aren’t good. Apple’s solution to the problem appears to be to debut a new 8GB model of the iPhone 5c that drops the price by GBP 40 (US $66). Is that really the right move?

On the surface, it would seem that creating a larger price gap between the cheapest iPhone and its most expensive high-end models would make sense if Apple wants to reach more people. The 5c’s price has always been seen as a barrier to ownership. At the original price, someone could spend a little more and get a more powerful iPhone 5s, or spend less and get an iPhone 4s or refurbished iPhone 5. The new price makes it theoretically cheaper to purchase an iPhone, but it’s by no means cheap. It’s still an expensive purchase in Europe, and it makes even less sense in the US, which probably explains why Apple hasn’t yet made the 8GB model available domestically.

The 8GB model makes even less sense when you factor in the experience that iPhone 5c owners can expect from a phone with that little bit of storage space. When I first launched my 16GB iPhone 5s, more than 3GB was already accounted for with iOS 7. Within a few months, I had already used 15 GB, meaning my phone was nearing its limit. I removed my apps and games list to only those that I actively used, and took off all the music that I had stored on the device. Then I deleted Vine and other storage hogs, backed up the hundreds of photos I had taken, and then removed them as well. Considering that I take a lot of photos and consume media, I’ve had to repeat the process once or twice (writing this article reminded me to check and I’m down to 800 MB left).

Someone who owns an 8GB iPhone 5c will have an even tougher time. The phone will likely offer less than 5GB of accessible space, a small sum when you factor in how quickly space can be gobbled by photos, games, and music. An 8GB iPhone 5c owner will not consume as much media by necessity, but he or she will be constantly forced to limit activities because of the small amount of space. For the amount of money spent on the phone, that’s not a good thing. The lack of external storage, and possible limitations of networks for relying on the cloud, makes 8GB a paltry amount of space. I faced the same issue on my original Google Nexus 7, but at least that was a tablet that I only used at home, so reliance on cloud data was more manageable. Getting a discount on price at the expense of usability seems like an unwelcome bargain.