The Interview and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

On Christmas eve day, Google wrote a blog post announcing that it will be streaming “The Interview” on YouTube starting at 10 AM PST saying that:

…”we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be)*.”

This is after Sony previously announced that they will not release the movie because of threats from the hackers that has wreaked havoc on the company. The movie was also released in select theaters.

A few things: I lasted about 25 minutes into the movie because as Google ruefully admits, it is silly. James Franco plays a parody of himself and I can only stand a few minutes of toilet humor. More importantly though, the release of “The Interview” will be a study on how important streaming websites could be for big movies and how it could affect clout of movie theaters (major movie theaters pulled out of releasing the movie due to the threats). You don’t have to go and see it but let us definitely sit back and see how the revenue numbers go. As of this writing, “The Interview” is available in the following VODs:

Here are the most relevant news in tech and retail this week:

  1. Android One, Google’s platform for sub-$100 smartphones, to expand in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka after launch in India
  2. Google and Microsoft to fight a petition by Marriott and the American Hospitality & Lodging Association to be allowed to block personal Wi-Fi networks on their properties
  3. North Korea’s Internet went offline on Monday
  4. PlayStation and Xbox networks were riddled with outages on Christmas day; hackers group Lizard Squad takes responsibility
  5. Newly IPOed biotech company Juno Therapeutics soared 17% on Monday; surpasses $3B market cap

In retail:

  1. Alibaba announced that it spent $160M to fight counterfeit goods in its website
  2. American Apparel confirms takeover offer valuing the company at $245M
  3. India’s e-commerce giant Flipkart announced $700M funding; total investor money reaches $2.7B
  4. Chinese fashion site Yetang raises $5M
  5. Lacoste plans to push out athletic wear and become a fashion brand 

    *emphasis is mine

More on the Sony hack and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

Another week passes and the breadth of the Sony hack is further revealed. This week, disparaging emails about actor Angelina Jolie and racist remarks via emails from top executives surfaced. Beyond the embarrassment and the scrambling for public apologies, Sony also has to deal with the consequences from the exposure of its payroll records. Unfortunately, this is only a sliver of the amount of information that was stolen by the group known as Guardians of Peace. The group reportedly stole 100 terabytes of sensitive information and has since issued demands to Sony; these demands are not yet publicly disclosed. Imagine. That. This means that every week, the group can keep exposing sensitive information and Sony will have a public relations disaster and potential financial fallouts for months to come.

The lesson for you and me? As I have said here in the past, the security of any service you use is only as strong as the precautions that you, as a user take. Create strong passwords, change them frequently, use two-factor authentication whenever possible, use different passwords for different sites and so on. Most of us know this. The question is, do we really stick to it.

Here are this week’s most relevant news in tech and retail:

In tech:

  1. File sharing service Pirate Bay was taken down after a raid by police in Sweden
  2. Alibaba-backed social media app, Momo Inc. shares surge in NASDAQ IPO
  3. Adobe Systems reports better-than-expecting earnings of 14 cents a share on revenues of $1.073B; signs a deal to buy stock photo service Fotolia for ~$800M in cash
  4. Uber news: SF and LA files civil suit against company for making “false or misleading statements”; China’s search giant Baidu to invest $600M in Uber
  5. Google replaces Twitter as best tech employer in the US; removes Amazon’s app from the Play Store

In retail:

  1. US retailers report jump in November sales, core November sales up 4.4% from year earlier
  2. Lululemon Athletica shares surge Thursday after delivering mixed Q3 results and lowers full-year sales for 2014 but increases per-share profit for 2014
  3. Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Co double retail sales for the third quarter, fueled by sales from recently acquired Saks Inc.
  4. Teen clothing retailer Delia’s files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; Wet Seal could be next
  5. One of India’s e-commerce sites, Snapdeal acquires recommendation platform, Wishpicker, for an undisclosed amount