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Tech Check

  Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 | 5:31 PM ET

Warning: Lily Collins may destroy your computer

Posted By: Helen A.S. Popkin, NBC News
Actress Lily Collins
Imeh Akpanudosen | Getty Images
Actress Lily Collins

Harry Potter star Emma Watson is a has-been!

The girl we watched grow up as Hermione Granger may have a bright future as an actress and fashion icon, but her dubious distinction as "Most Dangerous Cyber Celebrity" has been usurped by the female star of the latest supernatural series to hit the big screen, "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" star Lily Collins.

Collins, daughter of musician Phil Collins and No. 4 on People's "Most Beautiful Women" in 2012, is McAfee's No. 1 celebrity most likely to lead to a computer virus for 2013. According to the Internet security firm, searching for the latest Lily Collins pictures and downloads yields a nearly one-in-seven chance of "landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware."

More from NBC News:
Teen fight over sexting won't help Snapchat's reputation
Your heartbeat is a password: Medical implants could get newsecurity feature
FTC busts text spammers for conning people in gift card scams

»Read more
  Tuesday, 26 Feb 2013 | 3:55 AM ET

Sony CEO: Why the Yen Decline Isn't Helping Us

Posted By: Reported by Kelly Evans, Written by Ansuya Harjani
Sony CEO: Concentrating On Core Business
Kuzuo Hirai, CEO of Sony talks to CNBC about his strategy for the company since becoming chief executive last April.

The weakness in the Japanese yen - which has depreciated 12 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past three months - has had almost no impact on Sony's businesses thus far, according to, Kazuo Hirai, CEO of the electronics giant.

»Read more
  Thursday, 20 Dec 2012 | 6:30 PM ET

Cramer: Unexpected Gainer Has Room to Run

Posted By: Lee Brodie
Jabil Circuit CEO: Market For Handsets Is Growing
Jabil Circuit's CEO Tim Main says he feels good about the direction his company is headed, and discusses the market for handsets.

By Thursday's close shares of this stock shot 7% higher, making it one of the best gainers on the NYSE. And Cramer thinks there's more where that came from.

The stock that's grabbed the attention of the Mad Money host is Jabil Circuit TICKER: JBL.

As leading providers of electronic manufacturing services, when other companies outsource their manufacturing operations, they go to Jabil.

(Having trouble viewing the video? Click here!)

»Read more
  Tuesday, 4 Dec 2012 | 11:46 AM ET

How did Fortt rate in 2012?

Posted By: Jon Fortt

OVERALL GRADE: B

Amazon: B

I said Amazon would expand its touchscreen line, but I predicted both a larger tablet and a phone. No phone (yet).

Acquisitions: A

I said there would be lots of acquisitions in cloud and big data. Boy, were there. Oracle, Salesforce, IBM and Microsoft all paid up.

Android: A-

I said the Android ecosystem would suffer as Amazon-driven fragmentation intensifies. That's happening, but no crisis so far.

Windows 8: C

In my most controversial call, I said Windows 8 would be so polarizing that it would either wildly succeed or fail, resulting in a leadership shakeup and Bill Gates taking a more active role. It launched too late for a verdict, but the leadership shakeup already happened with Stephen Sinofksy out.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 2 May 2012 | 12:25 AM ET

Consumer Electronic Show 2012

The Consumer Electronics Show is the world’s largest consumer technology trade show. See some of the highlights of this year's show. »Read more
  Thursday, 2 Feb 2012 | 1:43 PM ET

Hidden in Facebook's S-1, a Massive Shift in 2011

Posted By: Jon Fortt

Facebook underwent two massive shifts in 2011, the details of which are hidden in the company's S-1 filing.

»Read more
  Thursday, 2 Feb 2012 | 1:35 PM ET

Troubled Times at Game Maker THQ

Posted By: Chris Morris
Darksiders II
Facebook
Darksiders II

Five years ago THQ was one of the videogame industry's biggest publishers. Today, the company is struggling to stay afloat.

The troubled game maker is facing a possible delisting from the Nasdaq stock exchange, announced the layoff of 240 employees Wednesday and slashed its CEO's salary in half for the next year as sales have plummeted. Further, last week the company announced plans to abandon the once lucrative children's licensed games business to focus on titles for a core audience.

It's a turbulent period of change for THQ and while Wall Street analysts aren't yet cutting their ratings, they're showing signs of skepticism about the company's future.

"We believe THQ continues to lack a critical mass of high quality games with multi-million unit sales status and has yet to show any ability to execute this console cycle," says Eric Handler of MKM Partners. "While we recognize the need to get smaller before growing again, we lack conviction in when (or if) that upturn may come."

THQ president and CEO Brian Farrell will be taking a 50 percent cut to his base salary, from $718,500 to $359,250, for a one-year period beginning February 13, 2012. Additionally, Farrell agreed to reduce the payment he will receive if he resigns or is terminated without cause to one-third of the previous amount.

The company hopes its restructuring, which it plans to detail on its earnings call with analysts Thursday, will help reverse its fortunes. This, however, is hardly the company's first effort to turn things around.

In 2008, for example, the company shut down 5 studios and cut 250 jobs, saying it had a new goal of "fewer, higher quality titles".

A year later, it said it planned to shift its aim away from the children's games it was best known for to focus on core gamers.

"We know how to do this," said CEO Brian Farrell at the time.

Months later, however, THQ signed a licensing deal with Dreamworks for a series of titles that failed to connect with the mass market audience.

And as recently as last August, the company reduced its headcount by 200 people and shut down two studios as part of a plan to once again move away from licensed games and focus on properties it owned. The language was similar (though less direct) to what the company announced last week. (At the time, THQ said it was "reducing" the number of licensed kids' games. The January restructuring did away with them altogether.)

Licensed games, historically, were one of the easiest ways to have a reliable stream of income. And THQ made a fortune through titles based on SpongeBob and anything attached to a Pixar release. That gravy train dried up, though — a victim of poor production quality and the explosion of dirt-cheap kids games on mobile devices.

The loss of that income has hit the company's stock hard. It's been under the $1 mark since December 8, 2011 (which led to the delisting warning) — and hasn't seen the the north side of $5 per share since March 2011. (Five years ago, shares were trading in the $34 range.)

The loss of income from kids' games certainly plays into that, but investors are also tired of the company's string of core titles that have shown initial promise, but fallen flat when they hit retail — games like "Red Faction," "Homefront" and "UFC Undisputed".

The most recent flop has been "uDraw". In early December, THQ lowered its Q3 revenue guidance nearly 25 percent due to weak sales of the drawing tablet and its related games for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony'sPlayStation 3. That same game had been a success for the company on the Nintendo Wii.

The lack of a breakaway hit has led to plenty of skepticism about THQ's future. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities, in December, wrote he believed "THQ is at risk of running out of cash by the June 2012 quarter" after the company's reduced guidance.

"With another unprofitable year expected in FY:12 (its fourth unprofitable year in the last five years), we expect the company’s cash balance to become an issue if it is unable to turn a profit in the first half of FY:13," he said. "Given its declining licensed and core properties (apart from 'Saints Row'), and an uncertain release schedule next year, we remain unconvinced that FY:13 will be profitable."

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

»Read more
  Sunday, 22 Jan 2012 | 9:20 PM ET

RIM Has a New CEO, But Does It Have a New Game Plan?

Posted By: Jon Fortt
RIM Headquarters
Getty Images
RIM Headquarters

After a year marked by market share losses, a plunging stock price, and embarrassing network outages, embattled Research in Motion co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have stepped down from their operating roles at the company. Still, the BlackBerry maker's new CEO, recent Chief Operating Officer Thorsten Heins, is their handpicked successor; Balsillie and Lazaridis will remain actively involved in strategy at the board level.

RIM's board planned to announce the changes Monday morning, including the elevation of veteran board member Barbara Stymiest to chair, and the addition of Fairfax Financial Holdings CEO Prem Watsa to the board as its 11th member. Lazaridis will be vice chair, will head the new "Innovation Committee," and will continue to be a public face of the company.

It is the shuffling of Lazaridis and Balsillie, RIM's leaders for more than 20 years, into non-operating roles that's likely to command investor attention on Monday. In its release about the changes, RIM's board framed the move as an orderly succession that Balsillie and Lazaridis requested.

The move does seem somewhat abrupt, though, in light of Balsillie's statement on the earnings call five weeks ago that he and Lazaridis had just reduced their cash compensation to $1 per year, and that they were in the midst of a large-scale strategic review and "proposed transformation" that "could take some time."

Heins, the new CEO, told CNBC on Sunday night that he doesn't plan any sweeping strategic changes.

"This is not a turnaround company," he said after offering several figures showing that RIM revenues topped $5 billion last quarter, and it retains more than $1 billion in cash. "The company at the moment isn't valued as it should be, if you look at the financials."

In other words: He remains committed to the money-losing PlayBook tablet, which he sees as merely the first step in the rollout of RIM's BlackBerry 10 platform. He won't be embracing Android. He will continue to target both the consumer and enterprise markets. Phones with BlackBerry 10 will still arrive in late 2012. And he won't be selling off key assets like RIM's proprietary network.

"I truly believe — and the board is with me on this assessment — that we are very, very strongly positioned as an integrated, vertical player," Heins said. "There is no plan on my side or the board's side to sell any of these important, constituting elements of our future success."

What would he say to investors who have been clamoring for a significant change in RIM's strategy? Look at BlackBerry 10, due in handsets at the end of 2012.

"I would tell investors that this change already has happened on the product side, and might not be what the public was demanding. But you cannot just fall for public opinion because sometimes the Street is right, sometimes the Street is wrong. We have to do what is right for the company."

What's left, then, is how well RIM makes product deadlines and communicated to Wall Street. "This company has to move to flawless execution, and I think this is what I can bring to the table," Heins said. "A lot of frustration, frankly, is from giving dates to the market that are best intended dates and are aspirations."

Given the flurry of skeptical analyst reports that followed RIM's earnings release last month, Heins will face a tough crowd on the company's call at 8 a.m. ET Monday. Last quarter's revenue was down 6 percent year-over-year, and holiday quarter shipments were projected to be down sequentially.

Want to weigh in? Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter @jonfortt .

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com And you can follow Jon Fortt on Twitter @jonfortt

»Read more
  Thursday, 19 Jan 2012 | 4:41 PM ET

Apple's iBooks 2 Revolution - Not What You Think

Posted By: Natali Morris|Technology Contributor, CNBC

Apple has not revolutionized the textbook. They have revolutionized the textbook distribution model.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 18 Jan 2012 | 12:01 PM ET

12 Twitter Tweaks We’d Like to See in 2012

Posted By: Darren Rovell

1. Weekly Activity Email

An automated email that captures weekly activity, such as tweets, retweets, @ mentions, new followers, new follows and more. It would allow for users to get a weekly snapshot of their interaction with the social media site.

2. Free Bird

Twitter
Twitter

Twitter must make inactive handles available for those people interested in using them.

Acknowledging that Twitter is only as valuable as its users, the social media company should set a date when all accounts that have not been logged into in the last 12 months (not since the last Tweet since some people consume content and do not create content) are made available to the general public.

A handle that fits set criteria can be claimed by visiting the profile and clicking "claim username," which will kick an email to the current owner to give them 72 hours to login and verify that the user still exists. If they fail to respond within 72 hours, the person that claimed the user name is awarded it.

» Read More

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