The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

Category: Cloud computing

MegaUpload was a 'mega conspiracy,' Justice Department alleges [Updated]

MegaUpload, one of the world's largest file-sharing websites, was shut down Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice, which accused it of violating piracy and copyright laws.

  In an indictment, the Justice Department alleged that MegaUpload was a "mega conspiracy" and a global criminal organization "whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale."

The Justice Department said MegaUpload, which had about 150 million users, tallied up harm to copyright holders in excess of $500 million by allowing users to illegally share movies, music and other files. Prosecutors said in the indictment that the site's operators raked in an income from it that topped $175 million.

Justice Department indictment of MegaUpload DOCUMENT: Read the indictment against MegaUpload

MegaUpload was just one of the many services that allow for the easy sharing of large files online. Others include sites such as Mediafire and Rapidshare and cloud storage services that allow for shared folders such as and Dropbox.

One way MegaUpload differentiated itself was with its online marketing campaign that featured celebrities such as rapper/producers Kanye West, Lil' Jon, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Swizz Beats stating in YouTube videos why they loved using the site. Other videos feature tennis star Serena Williams, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons and director Brett Ratner testifying to their use of MegaUpload.

The release of the Justice Department indictment came after dozens of websites, led by tech heavyweights Wikipedia, Craigslist, Mozilla and Google, altered their websites to protest two anti-piracy bills under consideration on Capitol Hill: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

Critics of the bills say the proposed laws would give the Justice Department the ability to censor the Internet by giving the agency clearance to shut down a site without having to get court approval of an indictment, as it did with MegaUpload. Although the indictment was unsealed Thursday, it was issued by a federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 5, the agency said.

In a statement issued with the indictment,the Justice Department said "this action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime."

The Justice Department said that at its request, authorities arrested three MegaUpload executives -- officially employed by two companies, Megaupload Ltd. and Vestor Ltd. -- in New Zealand, including the site's founder, Kim Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz. The agency is also looking to arrest two additional executives.

The indictment charges the two companies with running a "racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement."

According to the Associated Press, before the MegaUpload site was shut down Thursday, a statement was posted on the site saying the allegations made against it were "grotesquely overblown" and that "the vast majority of Mega's Internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay. If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch."

Visits to on Thursday showed the website as unable to load. The Justice Department had ordered the seizure of 18 domain names it linked to the alleged wrongdoing.

[Updated at 3:42 p.m.: As noted by Times reporter Ben Fritz on our sister blog Company Town, the hacker group Anonymous has allegedly lobbed a denial-of-service attack that has temporarily taken down the websites for the Department of Justice and Universal Music as a move in retaliation for the shutdown of MegaUpload. Forbes is reporting that the same attack has struck the sites for the Recording Industry of America and the Motion Picture Assn. of America.]

[Updated at 3:50 p.m.: The Twitter accounts @YourAnonNews and @AnonOps are taking credit on behalf of Anonymous for the web attacks on the websites of the Justice Department, Recording Industry of America, Motion Picture Assn. of America and Universal Music.]


SOPA blackouts inspired protest around the world

Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author: Bids to own publishing's future

Wikipedia: SOPA protest led 8 million to look up reps in Congress

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author: Bids to own publishing's future

Apple's new iBooks 2, iBooks Author and iTunes U apps are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing

NEWS ANALYSIS: Alongside Apple stating that iBooks 2 and textbooks on the iPad would reinvent the textbook as we know it, the iPad-maker announced Thursday that it would also attempt to reinvent book-making by way of an app called iBooks Author.

The Apple-developed app, available as a free download from the Mac App Store, (ideally) makes it easy to make books for the iPad. But together, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing, and to continue to build on the success Apple had under the late Steve Jobs.

If you've ever used Apple's Keynote or Pages (or Microsoft's PowerPoint or Word) apps, then you should be able to hit the ground running in iBooks Author. There are templates for different types of book layouts, and adding the interactive 3-D models, photos, videos and diagrams that Apple demoed iBooks 2 textbooks on Thursday is as easy as clicking and dragging a built-in widget -- provided you've already produced the video, photos, diagrams and models you want to use.

Apple has even built into iBook Author HTML5 and Javascript support for programmers looking to take their books beyond what the app can do itself; multi-touch interactions for pinch and zoom views of photos and swiping gestures are also included.

Want to see what your book looks like before you publish it to iBooks? Just connect your Mac to an iPad by way of a USB cable and you can preview the book on the tablet.

The aim of the iBooks Author app is to make it easy to get these impressive multimedia elements, as well as questionnaires and other educational materials, into a page of text and published as a book on the iPad as easy as possible -- whether you're a self-publisher looking to write your first book, a teacher whipping up something quick for a special class, or a publishing powerhouse like the textbook trifecta of McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Before his death, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed Apple could disrupt the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry. Jobs said in Isaacson's book, titled simply "Steve Jobs," that the iPad was the tool to make transformation in the textbook business a reality.

According to the book, Jobs' idea "was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple."

Jobs told Isaacson "the process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt ... but if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don't have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money."

In announcing the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author products, Apple is beginning to bring a piece of Jobs' long-term vision to fruition. The company also noted Thursday that there are currently about 1.5 million iPads being used in schools and more than 20,000 education apps sitting in its iOS App Store.

But make no mistake, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author aren't just about textbooks. The two new apps are working together to entice students, teachers, educational institutions to embrace and buy the iPad in bigger numbers than they already have.

On Thursday, in announcing the new products, Apple made no mention of new discounts on iPads for students or schools -- though Apple has offered such discounts in the past on Macs and even created special versions of the iMac for schools. Apple even built the now-defunct eMac line specifically to sell to schools.

Apple wants us to ditch the paperback and hardcover textbooks in favor of an iPad and digital downloads, that much is obvious. But the company also wants the iPad and Macs to become to go-to devices for educational institutions and publishing houses.

Although Apple's iTunes is the world's most popular online music storefront, Amazon is the world's largest seller of e-books. By adding a level of interactivity to books that Amazon and others simply can't match, and by making it easier to publish a book and sell it in the iBooks app directly from iBooks Author, Apple has made a move to challenge Amazon and its Kindle e-reader and Kindle Touch tablet as the preferred platform for self-publishers and digital textbooks.

In a statement announcing iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, Apple said as much (without naming Amazon and other e-book rivals such as Google and Barnes & Noble).

"iBooks Author is also available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple's iBookstore," Apple said.

The apps are also a challenge to Adobe, a company Apple has been known to partner with and feud with from time to time. Adobe's Creative Suite, Digital Publishing Suite and Touch Apps, available on both Windows PCs and Macs, are some of the most popular tools used by publishing houses and self-publishers looking to create a book, whether an e-book or a book before it heads to print.

Though capable of producing many different types of content for a broader range of devices, Adobe's software can cost thousands of dollars, while Apple's iBooks Author app is free.

Apple on Thursday also released an iTunes U app, which allows teachers from kindergarten to the university level to stream video of their lectures and post class notes, handouts, reading lists, etc., all within the app.

Previously, iTunes U was a podcasting service for college professors who wanted to put up video or audio of their lectures. Now it is one more reason for a teacher to consider an iPad and a Mac as tools to reach students at any grade level. And like iBooks Author, the app is free.

In my opinion, Apple is one of the best companies out there at providing lower-cost products that pull consumers into an ecosystem of apps and gadgets. It's one of the reason the company has so many cult-like followers.

For many Apple fans, their first purchase was an iPod or iPhone. With those purchases comes buying apps, music, movies and TV shows from iTunes. And for many, later comes a MacBook or an iMac computer. This strategy is repeating itself with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author.

First, get students and teachers to use more iPads in school by offering affordable and engaging digital textbooks. With iBook textbooks capped at a price of $14.99, I have to wonder whether or not textbooks will become shorter and more narrow, and thus students and teachers we'll have to buy more of them. Second, make it easy for anybody to produce their own iBooks (textbooks or otherwise) and then sell those books in the iBooks app, luring in aspiring authors. When those students, teachers and authors go to download music or a movie, set up a cloud storage service or buy a laptop, a phone, a new tablet -- maybe someday a TV -- what brand will be at the top of minds? Apple.

iBooks, iBooks Author and iTunes U, together are a move to fend off Google, Amazon, Adobe and other competitors in determining the future of education, publishing and book reading. Together, the launch of these apps is an attempt to not only maintain but also expand Apple's current success into the company's post-Jobs future.


Apple says iBooks 2 app reinvents textbooks

Apple iPad 3: Launching in February, March, or later?

Apple looms large over the Consumer Electronics Show, despite not showing up

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Photo: Apple's iBook Author app on an iMac, and an iBook and an iPad. Credit: Apple

Cloud computing traffic to grow fast in coming years, Cisco says


Cisco Systems Inc. sees a cloudy future.

By 2015, cloud computing will account for nearly 34% of traffic at the world's data centers, the huge computing stations that now process and distribute most of the Internet's information. Last year the cloud accounted for only about 11% of data center traffic.

The trend comes as data centers become an ever larger part of the way the Internet works, acting as the digital jet engines for the Internet's most-used services: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple's iCloud and many others. 

Cisco's first "Cloud Index" report says that overall traffic at data centers will more than triple by 2015, to 4.8 zettabytes from about 1.5 zettabytes in 2011. Cisco is one of the world's largest vendors of the networking hardware that sends data around the Internet and between servers in a given data center.

A zettabyte is an astronomical amount of data, equal to 1 billion terabytes. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes. Many current PCs contain about 500 gigabytes of storage. So the amount of data that will be processed by the world's data centers by 2015 is roughly what you could fit on 2 billion modern PCs.

None of that may be very surprising, as the benefits of cloud computing -- including the substantially lower cost of storing and retrieving data to consumers and businesses -- have been widely extolled in recent years. Cisco differentiates between "traditional" services and cloud servers; the latter is a more elastic type of computing that can grow or shrink depending on the number of active users or the types of tasks it is performing.

That can make for economic and energy efficiency gains by reducing the number of data center servers that sit idle while, for instance, people in North America are asleep. With cloud systems, those otherwise unused servers can be shifted over to perform needed functions -- often for different companies on other continents.

The rapid movement of data that goes along with cloud computing has raised a number of concerns about online security, including whether consumers and businesses can know precisely where their private data is located and the extent to which cloud data is vulnerable to hackers or accidental disclosure.


Apple prepping movie cloud service

Amazon sweetens its deal for cloud music service apologizes for multi-day cloud computing outage

-- David Sarno

Image: An artist's rendering of Facebook's newest data center in Lulea, Sweden, on the edge of the Arctic Circle.  Facebook picked the location because the cold climate allows it to keep its servers cool more cheaply. Credit: Associated Press

Apple's iTunes Match now available; feature costs $24.99 a year


After delays, Apple's iTunes Match is now live.

For $24.99 a year, users can add music not purchased from iTunes -- such as songs imported from a CD or downloaded from other sources -- to his or her iCloud music collection. Music can then be played on any iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac or PC "whenever you want and wherever you are, without syncing," Apple said.

Here's the company's description of how it works:

"ITunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to iCloud for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 20 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are, your music is already in iCloud. And for the few songs that aren't, iTunes has to upload only what it can't match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. Once your music is in iCloud, you can stream and store it to any of your devices. Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality -- even if your original copy was of lower quality."

As we reported previously, matching a user's iTunes library in the cloud takes just minutes, Apple says. By contrast, Google's Music Beta and Amazon's Cloud Player services require users to upload song files to "cloud lockers" themselves and offer no matching options.

In order to pull all this off, Apple reached large contracts with major record labels, agreeing to give them a share of the revenue from iTunes Match subscriptions. If iTunes Match users let their subscriptions run out and don't pay to re-up, their iCloud libraries would revert to just the songs they've bought from iTunes.


ICloud website now live for software developers

Apple WWDC: iCloud is free, iTunes Match is $25 a year

Apple WWDC: Steve Jobs announced iCloud in San Francisco

-- Andrea Chang

Image: ITunes Match will enable subscribers to access their music on multiple devices through iCloud. Credit: Apple

Google+ opens to Google Apps users

Google+ Hangouts with extras

Google+ is now open to users of Google Apps, the tech giant's suite of cloud-based business applications that are challenging Microsoft Office for workplace dominance.

But Google's new social network, itself a challenger to Facebook, will work a bit differently for those using Google+ with a Google Apps account versus a personal Google account. 

For one, Google Apps users will be using email addresses that are tied to their workplace -- whether a business or an educational institution -- to get onto Google+. As such, Google is allowing businesses to have administrative control over all Google+ accounts integrated with Google App accounts.

"Because you're signing up for Google+ with your corporate email address, your Google Apps administrator retains the right to access your Google+ data and modify or delete it at any time," Google said in a suggestion of text to send out via email that Google Apps users who want to use Google+ for work too. Google does advise that businesses "edit based on your organization's policies," so it's up to a business as to how they handle this ability. 

Social networks are, of course, about sharing, among other things. And Google is also advising businesses to tell their employees to keep that in mind when using Google+ with a Google Apps account and to not share stuff that only the company itself should see -- something a Google employee recently did.

"Google Apps users will have access to the same set of features that are available to every Google+ user, and more," Ronald Ho, a Google product manager, said in a blog post. "In addition to sharing publicly or with your circles, you'll also have the option to share with everyone in your organization, even if you haven't added all of those people to a circle."

One new tool added for Google Apps users in Google+ is Hangouts with extras, "which combines multi-person video chat with screen sharing and collaboration in Google Docs."

Google also said that it would soon roll out a migration tool that will allow users with a personal Google+ account to move them over to a Google Apps integrated Google+ account.

"With this tool, you won't have to rebuild your circles, and people who've already added you to their circles will automatically be connected to your new profile," Ho said. "We expect this migration option to be ready in a few weeks, so if you'd like, you can go ahead and get started with your Apps account today and merge your connections once the tool is available."


Pseudonyms, brands coming soon to Google+

Google engineer goofs, tells whole world that Google doesn't get it

Google+ has Circles, Sparks and Hangouts, but will it nab Facebook users? [Video]

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: A screen shot of Google+ Hangouts with extras, which combines video chatting with Google Doc sharing. Credit: Google

Consumer group slams L.A. for use, promotion of Google Apps [Updated]


Consumer Watchdog has long been a vocal and sometimes over-the-top critic of Google and with questions rising over the implementation of Google Apps in Los Angeles' government, the Santa Monica-based group is at it again.

This time the group is complaining about Google to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the City Council and City Controller Wendy Greuel, going so far as to call Google Apps "dangerous" in a letter to the public officials written by Consumer Watchdog's president, Jamie Court, and project director John Simpson.

Google and L.A. City officials weren't available for comment on the letter on Monday night.

In their letter, Court and Simpson said that schools near Cupertino, Calif.,  that were using Google Apps were unable to send a mass email to parents in the aftermath of a recent shooting in Cupertino -- leading the group to use the heavy discriptor of "dangerous."

"Some schools in the region were locked down to protect students as authorities sought the gunman," the letter said. "However, schools in the Los Gatos Unified School District did not have the ability to send group emails to parents about the situation because they use Google Apps."

But the group doesn't just complain about Google in its letter. It also criticizes the L.A. city government for taking part in a promotional video in which city employees talk about the many advantages they saw in Google Apps that lead L.A. to move into Google's cloud.

L.A.'s City Council greenlighted the move to Google Apps in 2009 in a 12-0 vote. But some council members are now grumbling that the transition to Google Apps hasn't moved fast enough.

Consumer Watchdog said the transition so far has been a failure and took issue with a promotional video pitching L.A.'s move to Google Apps in a positive light.

"City employees should never allow themselves to be involved in a marketing campaign for one specific company's product," the letter said. "The inappropriate activity is even more egregious when the marketing campaign misstates the true situation. Google is actively misrepresenting the Los Angeles project as a success story when it clearly is not. After two years, Google hasn't delivered on its promises."

In the video, which was produced and released by Google in 2009, city officials said they expected Google Apps would allow for a savings of about $5 million over five years.

[Updated Oct. 25, 5:50 p.m.: Diana Abbati, the superintendent of the Los Gatos Unified School District, said in an emailed statement that she was unhappy with the way the Consumer Watchdog letter used her note to parents in support of the group's claims that Google Apps are "dangerous."

Abbati's statement:

I was disappointed to see my letter quoted, out of context, in an inappropriate and sensational manner. We've had a great experience using Google Apps and we appreciate Google's support along the way.

Abbati was unavailable on Wednesday to explain how her words were taken out of context, or why the school's Google-based email system was unable to send a mass email to parents regarding informing a shooting in nearby Cupertino.

In the letter quoted by Consumer Watchdog, Abbati wrote that "we have recently learned that Google no longer supports the use of sending large group emails to our parents. As a result, the District and school sites have been experiencing technical difficulties over the past week that may be interfering with your ability to receive email updates and announcements. The technology department is working to find an alternative solution to address our needs both at the site level and district-wide."

Google declined to comment on the school district or Consumer Watchdog's letter.

As the Times has noted, Consumer Watchdog is waging a campaign against Google. The group has regularly resorted to attention-seeking antics to make its case against the company. The group also has a blog specifically created to criticize Google.]


L.A. adopts Google e-mail system for 30,000 city employees

L.A. councilman: Google 'unable to meet' security needs of city email

Cartoon of outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt's 'creepy' lines hits D.C. streets

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: An employee of Los Angeles uses Gmail at work. Credit: City of Los Angeles/Google Inc. via YouTube

L.A. councilman: Google 'unable to meet' security needs of city email


A Los Angeles city councilman is demanding answers about Google Inc.'s $7.2-million contract to provide 30,000 city employees with email — and why after two years nearly half of those employees still haven't moved to Google's system.

Google and its contractors have "been unable to meet the security requirements of the city and
LAPD for all data and information," according to a public motion by Councilman Dennis Zine. Zine has requested that city attorneys provide a status report on the contract, which has run into a long series of obstacles centered on whether Google can legally house sensitive city law enforcement information, such as criminal histories.

Google has argued that cloud computing, in which data is stored in large corporate data centers rather than on businesses' local servers, is so new that the legal requirements around data protection are still evolving — and that some of those regulations came to light only after the contract was signed in late 2009.

In April The Times noted the bumpy road that Google has had in its efforts to become a widely used email provider to businesses and governments. The issues have to do with convincing clients that the company can safely and legally store critical data and sensitive communications.

Because the LAPD has been unable to move to Google's system, the department has stayed on the older Novell email software — and the city has complained that running two email programs simultaneously has created a number of unwieldy productivity problems. Google is paying for the LAPD and related agencies to use the older system.

Updated, 4:00 p.m.: Google responded with the following statement: "The City has acknowledged Google Apps is more secure than its current system.  Along the way they’ve also introduced new requirements which require work to implement in a cloud computing environment, and we’ve presented a plan to meet them at no additional cost.”


L.A. adopts Google e-mail system for 30,000 city employees

Google product doesn't really have security credential, DOJ says

Google sues the U.S. government in its ongoing 'cloud' battle with Microsoft

-- David Sarno

Photo: LAPD officers and detectives study a laptop computer at a makeshift booking area inside the garage at the LAPD's 77th Street station.  Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Apple iPhone 4S: More than 4 million sold on launch weekend

Apple's iPhone 4S topped 4 million units sold worldwide over its launch weekend
Apple's iPhone 4S topped 4 million units sold worldwide over its launch weekend.

That staggering sales figure is the highest of any iPhone to date after that initial three-day period, said Apple Inc., which announced the numbers Monday morning in a statement on its website.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant also said more than 25 million people have downloaded iOS 5 to their iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches in the five days since its release.

In addition, the company said, more than 20 million people have signed up for iCloud, Apple's free service that syncs data such as calendars, contacts and photos wirelessly across a user's computer and portable Apple gadgets. It also launched just five days ago.

The iPhone 4S' sales figure is "the most ever for a phone and more than double the iPhone 4 launch during its first three days," Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in the company announcement. "iPhone 4S is a hit with customers around the world, and together with iOS 5 and iCloud, is the best iPhone ever."

The previous-generation iPhone 4, launched in June 2010, is Apple's best-selling product; more of the devices have been sold than all earlier versions of the iPhone combined.

On the first day of in-store iPhone 4S sales, Sprint said the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S resulted in its best sales day for any product line it has ever carried. A few analysts weighed in on Friday, projecting that by Sunday night 2 million to 4 million of the new iPhones would have be sold.

More than 1 million iPhone 4S handsets were pre-ordered in the first 24 hours the early orders began, about a week before the device's in-store launch.

The iPhone 4S failed to wow many analysts and pundits when it was revealed on Oct. 4, a day before Apple co-founder and tech icon Steve Jobs died, but it seems that consumers are flocking to the device.

From the outside, the iPhone 4S, which sells for about $200 to as much as $600, looks nearly identical to the iPhone 4, but it features upgraded hardware with a dual-core A5 chip (similar to that found in the iPad 2), a new 8-megapixel camera that can shoot up to 1080p high-definition video.

The software with iOS 5 is also new, adding more than 200 features, most notably (and only available on the iPhone 4S so far) Siri, Apple's voice-activated "intelligent assistant" app that can help dictate text, schedule appointments, check the weather and find locations, all done by a user talking into the phone and telling the app what he or she is looking for.

So far, the iPhone 4S is on sale in the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and Britain. Apple said it will be available in 22 more countries on Oct. 28, and more than 70 countries by the end of the year. In the U.S., the iPhone 4 and 4S are being sold by AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.


Sprint: Apple iPhone 4S brings "best ever day of sales"

Apple reports more than 1 million iPhone 4S orders in 24 hours

Apple's iOS 5 is the best iOS so far, once you get it installed [Video]

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: Apple's iPhone 4S displaying iOS 5's new notification center, iMessage and Twitter integration. Credit: Apple Inc.

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet: $199, 7-inch screen, ships Nov. 15

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet was finally introduced Wednesday. It will sell for $199, feature a 7-inch touchscreen and ship on Nov. 15.

Kindle Fire The Fire will run on, as expected, a unique version of Google Android developed by Amazon.

The first tablet from the world's largest online retailer has been anticipated for months as the first device that really might be able to challenge Apple's iPad, given Amazon's ability not only to sell hardware at a low price, but also to offer a full suite of downloadable music, movies, TV shows, eBooks and apps.

A look at the specs of the Kindle Fire reaffirms the idea that the focus of this tablet is consuming media -- and consuming it directly from Amazon.

Amazon has tailored the Android operating system to look unlike any other version of Android out there, with Amazon's media and app store the focus of the user experience.

The tablet has a dual-core processor and eight gigabytes of storage, but no camera or 3G connection, and its screen is just a two-point touchscreen versus the iPad's ability to handle up to 10 points of touch at a time. 

Amazon began taking pre-orders for the Kindle Fire on Wednesday.

Buyers of the Fire will get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, the Seattle online retailer's $79 yearly service that provides free video streaming and free shipping for items purchased from

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, announced the Kindle Fire at an event in New York on Wednesday, after Bloomberg reported details of the specs earlier in the day and released the first official image of the device.

[Updated 8:28 a.m.: Here's a look at Amazon's first Kindle Fire TV commercial, as posted on YouTube, which shows a bit of the tablet in action.]


iPhone 5 launch at Apple on Oct. 4, invite says

Kindle books are at 11,000 libraries -- but any you want to read? could sell 3 million to 5 million tablets in 2011, analyst says

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. Credit: / Bloomberg

Arizona's iCloud Communications drops Apple suit, changes name

Apple iCloud

Arizona's iCloud Communications has pulled out of a legal fight with Apple Inc. over the name iCloud.

The Phoenix-based company, which offers Internet phone services and cloud services, has withdrawn a lawsuit filed in June against the Cupertino tech giant in which iCloud alleged that Apple using the name iCloud for its remote server file storage services was infringing on a trademark, according to a report from the Phoenix New Times.

Not only has iCloud bailed on its legal action against Apple, but it's also changed its name to either Clear Digital Communications, according to a Facebook page for the company, or PhoenixSoft (or maybe both?), the New Times report said.

"On September 1, the company filed a motion for voluntary dismissal with prejudice, meaning the claim can't be refiled once approved by the judge," the New Times said. "It's not even seeking reimbursement for legal fees. Sometime in the past few weeks, the company appears to have quietly changed its name."

An employee who answered the phone at the company confirmed that PhoenixSoft is the firm's new name, but declined to comment further. 


iCloud website now live for software developers

Apple WWDC: iCloud is free, iTunes Match is $25 a year

Apple sued over its use of iCloud name by iCloud Communications

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: A screen shot of iCloud's landing page on Credit: Apple Inc.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


How to Reach Us

To pass on technology-related story tips, ideas and press releases, contact our reporters listed below.

To reach us by phone, call (213) 237-7163


Andrea Chang
Armand Emamdjomeh
Jessica Guynn
Jon Healey
W.J. Hennigan
Tiffany Hsu
Deborah Netburn
Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Alex Pham
David Sarno