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Technology US

Google completes purchase of Fitbit

Google has completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit, the company announced today. The news follows the EU’s announcement late last year that it had approved the deal, after Google made a series of commitments about its planned operation of Fitbit and use of the its health data.

In its announcement, Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh said the acquisition was “about devices, not data.” Emphasizing this point, he reiterated Google’s commitments about how it will handle the acquisition in markets around the world. These pledges include not using Fitbit users’ health and wellness data for Google’s ad tracking.

Osterloh also said the deal won’t affect how third-party fitness trackers work with Android, or how Fitbit works with other non-Google services.

In a statement, Fitbit’s CEO James Park welcomed the news, and said the acquisition would let the company “innovate faster, provide more choices, and make even better products.” However, he added emphasized that Fitbit’s products and services would continue to work across both iOS and Android.

“We will maintain strong data privacy and security protections, giving you control of your data and staying transparent about what we collect and why,” Park said.

It was data concerns like these that have prompted regulators around the world to investigate the deal. Late last year, EU regulators gave the deal their approval, completing an investigation they began back in August.

The approval came with a number of conditions, including that Google cannot use Fitbit data from users in the European Economic Area (EEA) such as GPS and health data for ad targeting. As part of the approval, EEA users must also be able to opt-out of having their health and wellness data shared with other Google services, and Google has agreed to continue to support third-party wearables with Android.

Google’s announcement appears to have been made prior to the Australia’s Competition & Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) final decision on the acquisition. In late December, The Guardian reported that Google risked a $400 million fine if it proceeded with the deal without the regulator’s approval.

At the time, the ACCC rejected Google’s proposed conditions for the deal over data concerns as well as fears that it could force Fitbit’s rivals out of the wearables market because of their reliance on Google’s Android. Although ACCC Chair Rod Sims acknowledged the concessions Google had offered, he expressed concerns that they could not be “effectively monitored and enforced in Australia.” The Australian regulator said its investigation would continue, ahead of a new decision date of March 25th, 2021. We’ve reached out to Google for more clarity on the ACCC’s pending approval.

Google announced its acquisition of Fitbit over a year ago in November 2019, when Osterloh called it “an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market.”

In his letter announcing the acquisition, Park said Fitbit has now sold more than 120 million devices across over 100 countries.

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The Buzz

Serum Institute gets ‘Covishield’ purchase order from Centre


Pune, January 11

The Serum Institute on India on Monday said it has received the purchase order from the Centre for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have received the (purchase) order from the Government of India on Monday afternoon,” a senior SII official told PTI.

The government has already announced that the process of administering the vaccine will start on on January 16.

The SII vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca was cleared for emergency use along with Bharat Biotech’s indigenous “Covaxin” earlier this month.

— PTI





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California Headline USA

Dolph Lundgren and his fiancée Emma Krokdal purchase cat toys for their newest addition on Christmas

Dolph Lundgren, 63, and his fiancée Emma Krokdal, 24, look happy as they purchase cat toys for their latest furry addition on Christmas Day

Dolph Lundgren and his fiancée Emma Krokdal are already spoiling their new kitten, Bello, who they welcomed home with catnip toys and treats on Christmas Day.

After the 63-year-old Swedish actor surprised his love, 24, with a fluffy white Persian cat, the couple stocked up on essentials like a litter box and a travel carrier at Petco on Saturday. 

As he exited the pet retailer in Beverly Hills, the Rocky star sported a white Puma zip-up, black joggers and a metallic face mask as COVID-19 surges across California.

New addition: Dolph Lundgren and his fiancée Emma Krokdal are already spoiling their new kitten, Bello, who they welcomed home with catnip toys and treats on Christmas Day

Meanwhile, the personal trainer showed off her sensational physique in a pair of skin-tight patterned grey leggings as she toted a red pet bed and a classic cat wand.  

She styled her sporty ensemble with a black long sleeve, matching sneakers and her bright blonde hair styled in loose waves. 

Krokdal debuted their adorable feline on Saturday with multiple posts of the kitten sitting on her man’s lap as he sat on the couch.   

Cat mom: The 24-year-old personal trainer showed off her sensational physique in a pair of skintight patterned grey leggings as she toted a red pet bed and a classic cat wand

Cat mom: The 24-year-old personal trainer showed off her sensational physique in a pair of skintight patterned grey leggings as she toted a red pet bed and a classic cat wand

Stocking up: As he exited the pet retailer in Beverly Hills, the Rocky star sported a white Puma zip-up, black joggers and a metallic face mask as COVID-19 surges across California

Stocking up: As he exited the pet retailer in Beverly Hills, the Rocky star sported a white Puma zip-up, black joggers and a metallic face mask as COVID-19 surges across California

‘Merry Christmas to us,’ she captioned one adorable image on her Instagram Story of their cat looking sleepy as he adjusted to his new surroundings. 

Later, Krokdal revealed they named their latest furry addition Bello, which translates to ‘handsome’ from Italian.

While the couple’s ring fingers were not visible on their latest outing, they’ve recently sparked marriage rumors for appearing to wear wedding bands around town. 

'Merry Christmas to us,' Krokdal captioned one adorable snap on her Instagram Story of their cat looking sleepy as he adjusted to his new family

‘Merry Christmas to us,’ Krokdal captioned one adorable snap on her Instagram Story of their cat looking sleepy as he adjusted to his new family

The pair, who have a nearly 40-year age gap, were first linked in 2019 after they met at the gym.  

Their romance was confirmed in January 2020, when they were seen together at a film festival in the Dominican Republic. 

He slipped an engagement ring on the Norwegian-born beauty’s finger on June 16 as he wrote, ‘Something very special happened here in Sweden.’ 

Later, she revealed they named their latest furry addition Bello, which translates to 'handsome' from Italian

Later, she revealed they named their latest furry addition Bello, which translates to ‘handsome’ from Italian

After announcing the engagement, Lundgren was met with criticism online as people flooded the post and said that she ‘looks like his daughter,’ who is the same age as his fiancée and bears a striking resemble to her dad’s bride-to-be.

Speaking about how Emma ‘changed his life,’ to Muscle and Health World, he said, ‘I’m very lucky to have someone like Emma at this age. It changed my life.’ 

He added that their training styles are ‘perfect’ for each other as he said, ‘Emma trains me with her specialty weights and I train her with boxing. We are a perfect match.’ 

Perfect match: The pair, who have a nearly 40-year age gap, were first linked in 2019 after they met at the gym and became engaged in June

Perfect match: The pair, who have a nearly 40-year age gap, were first linked in 2019 after they met at the gym and became engaged in June

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Headline USA

Where to return an online purchase and get your refund faster? | The State

Amazon customers can make free returns at Whole Foods Market and UPS locations.

Photo:
Cindy Ord / Getty Images

This year the increase in online purchases During the coronavirus pandemic it turned out to be the salvation for retailers, but its price was high. Buyers are expected return twice as many items as last year when you shop online what it could cost companies $ 1.1 billion According to a calculation made by Navar, a specialized software company that manages the returns of hundreds of brands according to a report by the AP.

Another report prepared by the real estate firm CBRE estimated that the 30% of what we buy online during the Christmas holidays will be returned. This season, returns from e-commerce could amount to a total of $ 70.5 billion of products, an increase in 73 percent compared to the previous 5 years attributed to the historic number of online sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In its report, the consulting firm CBRE warns that the supply chain is not yet ready to return all products in a timely manner.

The forecast he obtained from based on data from the National Retail Federation estimates that online purchases during November and December will reach $ 234.9 billion with an annual profit of 40 percent, which will originate a greater number of returns compared to previous years.

“Online returns remain a challenge and this year, return logistics operations could be more stressed than ever,” he said. John morris, CBRE’s industrial, logistics and retail director in a press release. “With fewer in-store sales this holiday season, retailers will have to shift much of their focus to returns processing and their distribution networks to recover as much value as possible.”

Related: How much does Christmas cost in the United States?

Where to make a return and get your refund faster?

Most retailers bear the costs of returning a product because they want consumers who don’t feel safe visiting stores to feel comfortable shopping for items online.

Many companies are offering a large number of places where customers they can make returns, which reduces shipping costs and buyers can get a refund quickly.

Last year Kohl’s allowed Amazon to allow its customers to return their orders in their more than 1,000 branches for free.

This year Amazon customers can also return their orders at more than 500 stores Whole Foods Market, plus some UPS branches creating a supply chain.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced earlier this week that it will pick up items shipped and sold on its site for free. Walmart.com from customers’ homes through a new partnership with FedEx. Service will continue after the holiday shopping season.

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California Headline USA Los Angeles New York Politics

Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen purchase exclusive Florida mansion for more than $17M

Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen purchase exclusive Florida mansion for more than $17M … where neighbors will include Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen have plunked down $17 million for a home on Florida’s Indian Creek Island.

The Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback, 43, and the supermodel 40, according to Page Six, have plans to tear down the current structure on the premises and erect an eco-friendly mansion built like the one they formerly owned in Brentwood, California (before selling it to Dr. Dre).

‘They like to build from the ground up,’ a source said of Brady and Bundchen, who are parents to son Benjamin, 11, and daughter Vivian, eight; while Brady is father to 13-year-old son John Edward Thomas with actress Bridget Moynahan, 49.

The latest: Tom Brady, 43, and Gisele Bündchen, 40, have plunked down $17 million for a home on Florida’s Indian Creek Island. They were snapped last year at the Met Ball in NYC

The six-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots is currently renting a Tampa mansion owned by MLB Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter.

The NFL icon was recently spotted near the area in his Viva a Vida superyacht, which spans 40 feet.

The couple is making changes to their real estate portfolio, as they’re on the verge of selling a Manhattan apartment for $40 million and also seeking to purchase a mansion in Los Angeles.

Their neighbors will include Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump who paid $31 million for land on the island. Other notable residents in the luxe area include Julio Iglesias, supermodel Adriana Lima and billionaires such as Carl Icahn and Jeff Soffer.

The area is well-guarded, according to the outlet, as it has 13 full-time police for 29 residences

The area is well-guarded, according to the outlet, as it has 13 full-time police for 29 residences 

The exclusive locale is home to other notable residents like Julio Iglesias, supermodel Adriana Lima and billionaires such as Carl Icahn and Jeff Soffer

The exclusive locale is home to other notable residents like Julio Iglesias, supermodel Adriana Lima and billionaires such as Carl Icahn and Jeff Soffer 

Kushner and Trump, snapped last month at the White House, paid $31 million for land on the island

Kushner and Trump, snapped last month at the White House, paid $31 million for land on the island 

The area is well-guarded, according to the outlet, as it has 13 full-time police for 29 residences.

Miami Beach’s top realtor Nelson Gonzalez, who is the Sr. Vice President of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty, told the outlet that South Florida remains a destination for luxury home buyers.

‘Everyone wants to be in Miami – they’re coming from New York and California,’ Gonzalez said. ‘The market is crazy right now, there are a lot of hedge fund managers and Silicon Valley buyers who have moved down here and with Goldman Sachs looking to set up shop it’s only going to get busier.’

New beginning: Brady is in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New beginning: Brady is in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

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Technology US

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT review roundup: a niche purchase

AMD has released the newest member of its Radeon RX 6000 series: the Radeon RX 6900 XT. The card is based on the same Navi 21 silicon as the rest of the RX 6000 series so far and is being billed as the fastest Radeon card yet. According to reviews, it’s a step up from previous generations when it comes to performance, but not worth its $1,000 price tag for most consumers.

Reviews agree that this card is a racehorse. “This is one blistering-fast GPU,” concludes Brad Chacos of PCWorld, while Hot Hardware’s Marco Chiappetta dubbed it “the most powerful Radeon ever.” In Tom’s Hardware’s testing, the RX 6900 XT averaged 85fps across its 13-game testing suite at 4K resolution and ultra settings and 136.1fps at 1440p.

Image: AMD

Reviewers also largely agree that the Radeon RX 6900 XT is a better purchase than Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3090 for most gamers. The way hardware performs will always vary by game, but PCWorld and Hilbert Hagedoorn of Guru3D report that the 6900 XT and the RTX 3090 achieved comparable frame rates at lower resolutions, while Nvidia pulled ahead at higher resolutions. Due to the 6900 XT’s lower price, both publications recommend it as the better-value purchase.

Hot Hardware hedges a bit more, noting that “the Radeon RX 6900 XT and the GeForce RTX 3090 are fairly nip and tuck, and trade victories depending on the title, though the RTX 3090 does have the overall edge.” While the review notes that AMD’s card is “well-positioned relative to competing offerings from Nvidia,” Chiappetta also concludes that it “doesn’t definitively beat competition.”

But AMD’s card is at a significant disadvantage when it comes to ray tracing. Reviewers are split on how important this is. Guru3D suggests not everyone cares about ray tracing, and as long as you don’t, AMD’s card is a better buy. Jarred Walton of Tom’s Hardware counters that people considering cards that are this expensive shouldn’t overlook ray tracing; Walton doesn’t recommend the card for general gaming.

But reviews also agree that anyone who really cares about value might as well buy the 6800 XT instead — a more affordable card that Verge senior editor Tom Warren found quite capable of 4K and 1440p gaming. PCWorld emphasizes that the 6900 XT is really intended for content creation professionals. And Tom’s Hardware laments that the 6900 XT is only “4 to 7 percent faster” than the 6800 XT — “such an incremental bump in performance that it hardly seems worth the trouble.”

Overall, it seems like the 6900 XT is a fairly niche purchase for folks who are willing to drop $1,000 on a seriously powerful GPU but don’t mind a disadvantage when it comes to ray tracing. To be clear, though, this is all a theoretical discussion at this point: these cards are available in quite limited quantities, and the first batch of Radeon RX 6900 XT cards sold out in minutes this morning. But hey, it’s good to keep in mind for the future.

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Entertainment UK

Phil Collins’ ex-wife flaunts pricey purchase as she poses with £190k Bentley


Phil Collins ‘ ex-wife Orianne Cevey wasn’t shy about flaunting her wealth as she posed up with the £190,000 Bentley she’d just bought.

The 46-year-old dressed for the occasion in a black leather floor-length gown.

Posing with one hand on her hip, Orianne, who has been locked in a legal battle with her ex over his Miami beach house, looked sassy and confident as she stood next to her prized possession.

She captioned the snap of herself and her brand new sleek black motor: “Me and my little Choupette!”

Orianne also shared a behind the scenes photo of a shoot she posed up for with her car.

She penned: Photoshoot yesterday with my Bentley Continental GT Coupé… Thank you @holmanmotorcars and Brett for this very nice event.”

Orianne is clearly very pleased with her new car

And it seems she’s already given her car a nickname.

“Me and Big Bear,” she captioned a picture of herself next to the car holding up a “sold” sign.

While many of her fans left gushing comments on her post, some took the opportunity to tell her she was wrong for what she’d done to the Genesis star.

It’s thought they were referring to the legal battle between the exes over his $40 million Miami mansion.

“Sold, sorry”

Phil, 69, sued his former wife and her new husband Thomas Bates, 31, to kick them out of the property.

They have now agreed to move out after Phil said they had no right to live in his expensive waterfront property.

They’ve agreed to leave by mid-January.

Phil and ex-wife Orianne

Jeffrey Fisher, attorney for Phil Collins, said in a statement to Mirror Online: “Mr and Mrs Bates’ plan to hold Phil Collins’ house as hostage to leverage a settlement during a protracted court case was upended by the new judge’s bold decision to complete the injunction hearing next week.

“With the delay tactic failing, they agreed to vacate by mid-January and to allow Phil’s realtor to market and sell the property between now and the date they leave.

“Further, Phil Collins’ priceless collection of music memorabilia and artifacts from the Alamo will be retrieved within days.

Orianne has agreed to move out of Phil’s Miami mansion with her new husband

“Mrs Bates’ lawsuit claiming a 50% percent interest in the house based upon an alleged oral agreement will continue, but we have no doubt that it too will come to a quick and conclusive end once the judge hears the true facts about what occurred.”

Jewellery designer Orianne had claimed that the Miami house was just as much hers as the singer’s, despite the fact that they’d divorced and she’d remarried.





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Headline USA Los Angeles New York

New York Mets fans rejoice as Steve Cohen completes his $2.4 billion purchase


Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen completed his $2.4 billion purchase of the New York Mets on Friday, ending the Wilpon family’s control of the franchise after 34 mostly frustrating years.

Cohen became chief executive officer and hired former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson as team president in his first move. The sale ended Jeff Wilpon’s tenure as chief operating officer.

‘This is a significant milestone in the history of this storied franchise,’ Cohen said in a statement. ‘The 2021 season is right around the corner and we’ve got a lot of work to do, so I’m excited to get started.’

Cohen outbid several high-profile investors, including a group led by Alex Rodriguez and his fiancée Jennifer Lopez, as well as Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris. 

Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen (above) completed his $2.4 billion purchase of the New York Mets on Friday, ending the Wilpon family’s control of the franchise

New York Mets mascot Mr. Met is seen in a file photo. Cohen became chief executive officer and hired former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson as team president in his first move

New York Mets mascot Mr. Met is seen in a file photo. Cohen became chief executive officer and hired former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson as team president in his first move

The purchase, approved 26-4 by baseball owners on October 30, is worth $2.4 billion to $2.45 billion. It is a record price for a baseball team, topping the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt to Guggenheim Baseball Management in 2012.

An entity controlled by Cohen owns 95 percent of the franchise, and the Wilpon and Katz families retain 5 percent of the team.

Cohen pledged to inject about $9.5 million in additional payments this offseason for pandemic-hit employees.

The 64-year-old Cohen is CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management. He first bought an 8% limited partnership stake in the Mets in 2012 for $40 million.

The publisher Doubleday & Co. bought the Mets on Jan. 24, 1980, from the family of founding owner Joan Payson for $21.1 million, with the company owning 95 percent of the team and Fred Wilpon controlling 5 percent.

When Doubleday & Co. was sold to Bertelsmann AG, the publisher sold its shares of the team on November 14, 1986, for $80.75 million to Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, who became 50-50 owners. That sale happened weeks after the Mets won their second World Series title following the surprise championship by the 1969 Miracle Mets.

The Mets are coming off a disappointing 26-34 season in which they tied for last place in the National League East for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season

The Mets are coming off a disappointing 26-34 season in which they tied for last place in the National League East for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season

Outgoing New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon (left), general manager Brodie Van Wagenen (center), and now-minority owner Fred Wilpon pose for a picture back in October of 2018

Outgoing New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon (left), general manager Brodie Van Wagenen (center), and now-minority owner Fred Wilpon pose for a picture back in October of 2018

Fred Wilpon and his Sterling Equities partners headed by brother-in-law Saul Katz completed his buyout of Doubleday on Aug. 23, 2002, ending what had become an acrimonious partnership. Under the original appraisal, Doubleday would have received $137.9 million – half the team´s $391 million value after accounting for debt. Wilpon sued, and the sides then settled.

Jeff Wilpon, Fred’s son, became chief operating officer. The Mets failed to win any titles under the Wilpons´ time of sole control and their final dozen years were hampered by financial losses from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Cohen controlled SAC Capital Advisors, which in 2013 pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. SAC agreed to pay a $900 million fine and forfeit another $900 million to the federal government, though $616 million that SAC companies had already agreed to pay to settle parallel actions by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was to be deducted from the $1.8 billion.

The Long Island native and lifelong Mets fan had long been considered the favorite to buy the team, given his immense wealth, believed to be over $14 billion, according to Forbes, which gave the club a $2.4 billion valuation last year.

The Mets may not have the most successful team, but they do attract major celebrities, like longtime fan Jerry Seinfeld (left) and his former writing partner Larry David (right)

The Mets may not have the most successful team, but they do attract major celebrities, like longtime fan Jerry Seinfeld (left) and his former writing partner Larry David (right) 

He offered $2.6 billion in late 2019, according to the Post. However that deal fell apart amid reported disagreements over the five-year transfer of the club to Cohen and the future role of Jeff Wilpon, the team’s COO.

Cohen outbid several high-profile investors, like a group led by Alex Rodriguez (left) and his fiancée Jennifer Lopez (right)

Cohen outbid several high-profile investors, like a group led by Alex Rodriguez (left) and his fiancée Jennifer Lopez (right)

During the stalemate, Rodriguez and Lopez quickly added several high-profile investors to their group’s $2 billion offer, including retired NFL legends Brian Urlacher, Joe Thomas, DeMarco Murray, and two-time NBA All-Star Bradley Beal, according to ESPN.

Ultimately Cohen, the CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management, received 8 percent of the team for $40 million.

Cohen is believed to be the basis for actor Damian Lewis’s character on the Showtime series, ‘Billions,’ which focuses on a billionaire’s battles with a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.

He’s also one of the world’s most prominent art collectors, having once spent $141.3 million on Alberto Giacometti’s ‘Pointing Man’ sculpture.

Cohen will sit atop the team’s sixth ownership group.

One fan, Doug Bearak, posted a GIF of noted Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld crying tears of joy

One fan, Doug Bearak, posted a GIF of noted Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld crying tears of joy

Many New York Mets fans see billionaire Steve Cohen as something of a savior

Many New York Mets fans see billionaire Steve Cohen as something of a savior 

Mike Piazza, one of the club's most legendary players, was also happy to see the sale approved

Mike Piazza, one of the club’s most legendary players, was also happy to see the sale approved

The Wilpons have been criticized heavily in recent years, with fans often taking aim at their former financial relationship with convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff, as well as their reluctance to buy highly priced free agents.

Despite fan criticism of Wilpon and the long, difficult sales process, Cohen was complimentary to the family patriarch on Friday. 

Some Mets fans have already customized their own Steve Cohen Mets t-shirts

Some Mets fans have already customized their own Steve Cohen Mets t-shirts 

‘I want to thank Fred Wilpon for inviting me to buy into the franchise in 2012,’ Cohen said in a statement. ‘Fred is one of the game’s true gentlemen and I consider it an honor to be the new owner of this iconic franchise.’ 

Fans have responded to the sale with joy on social media.

One fan, Doug Bearak, posted a GIF of noted Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld crying tears of joy. Another posted a picture of a Jesus-like figure with Cohen’s face walking on water to save a drowning man with the head of team mascot Mr. Met.

Mike Piazza, one of the club’s most legendary players, was also happy to see the sale approved.

‘Very Excited for this next chapter in @Mets history,’ Piazza tweeted. ‘This is a special day for all of us. Looking forward to the future with pride and optimism. Mr. Cohen, you have my full support and gratitude. Looking forward to seeing you all at @CitiField next year!’

The Mets are coming off a disappointing 26-34 season in which they tied for last place in the National League East for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.  



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Technology US

PlayStation 5 won’t be available for in-store purchase on launch day, Sony confirms


After a hectic preorder season, Sony today announced that there will be no PlayStation 5 consoles available for walk-in purchases at retail stores on the console’s launch date. The company shared the news via a tweet and blog post and is strongly discouraging eager gamers from lining up outside stores. If you do, it’ll be for nothing. “All day-of launch sales will be conducted through the online stores of our retail partners,” Sony’s Sid Shuman wrote in the blog post.

“No units will be available in-store for purchase on launch day (November 12th or November 19th, depending on your region) — please don’t plan on camping out or lining up at your local retailer on launch day in hopes of finding a PS5 console for purchase. Be safe, stay home, and place your order online,” he added.

Note that this does not impact orders placed for in-store pickup. If you’ve already preordered a PlayStation 5 with Best Buy, GameStop, Target, or another retailer and have been confirmed for launch day pickup, you’ll still be getting your new console without issue. But this is Sony taking steps to prevent unnecessary lines at retailers around the globe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stretch on.

Retailers, including Target in the US, have already been trying to get this online-only message across to consumers. Just last night, Amazon — after a long period of uncertainty — began updating PS5 preorders with estimated delivery dates.



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UAE

UAE residents are pushing timeframes to purchase smartphones


With the pandemic pretty much holding the world to ransom, smartphone users seem to be showing signs of fatigue in the UAE.
Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Indian expat Kevin D’Souza, 32, has owned his iPhone 7 for years now, and sees no reason for changing the device.

“I will only buy another phone when I am convinced that it will give me the same performance and stability which is very important. I have not experienced any other brand or operating system that gives me the same level of satisfaction,” D’Souza, who works as a regional sales manager for a Dubai company, said.

UAE residents have pushed their deadline to purchase smartphones to every three years from previously one to two years. Added to this, with the pandemic pretty much holding the world to ransom, smartphone users seem to be showing signs of fatigue in the UAE.

Kevin D’Souza

“Earlier, when smartphones came out with their releases, there was a big difference in performance and technical specifications from the previous year. Newer apps required phones with updated and advanced hardware. Thus, we were bound and somewhat obliged to change phones to be able to use newer applications and keep up with market trends,” D’Souza said.

However, smartphones produced in the last three years still support applications developed now and many manufacturers guarantee updates and support for phones for a minimum of two to three years to encourage people to buy their brands. “Thus, you now see more people keeping up with their phones for at least two years,” said D’Souza.

Take this: Several mobile operators now offer ‘24 months’ bundle offers which further encourages people to keep using existing devices. The iPhone is one device that revolutionised the mobile phone domain by combining and bringing together a touch screen, good camera, solid and stable operating system and a high performance hardware bundled together all in one device.

Adam Irshaid

Adam Irshaid and Zack Koenig, 17-year old French expat students living in Dubai agreed. “My phone is two years old and I have no plans of changing it anytime soon. All I need my phone for is internet and to make phone calls. The camera has never been important to me,” said Irshaid.

Koenig said: “Phones are a fundamental part of today’s society. I don’t think they have reached their all-time high, considering there is always something that can be improved technologically. As long as it works and has the right technological ability in terms of minimal function glitches, easily downloadable music systems, and good camera quality (just to name a few) I am happy.”

Zack Koenig

The French student said he has not upgraded his phone in the last three years and it is working well. “The last phone I had only lasted a little over two years. This shows an overall improvement in the quality of the smartphone industry.”

Sandesh Patil

Indian expat Sandesh Patil, 35, programmatic director agreed also that smartphone buyers are getting fatigued with the plethora of options. “If you see the screens, we now have phones that are reaching nearly 100 per cent screen-to-body ratio.” Patil said: “Holographic displays, eco-friendly smartphones, educational tools, flexible frames. I imagine the future phones will rely more on integrating our physical lives with our digital lives. They probably won’t resemble the handsets we’re used to now. They’ll be built into other devices and products. Imagine a pair of glasses that can display a digital overlay on top of your physical surroundings.”

No limits

He said his Huawei Mate pro30 is a little over a year old. Patil is considering to switch to iPhone 12. “There is almost no limit to what I do with a smartphone these days. Work, entertainment, listen to productivity podcasts, brush up my skills, learn a new language, declutter your inbox, planning ahead, reading books, learn a new skill, networking — reach out to your industry professionals to make yourself visible. For me, a phone is both functional and fancy.”

Hicham Eid

Lebanese expat Hicham Eid, 30, working as a digital sales manager in Dubai, however said, the word ‘fatigue’ for smart phones was a bit harsh. Sure, the gap has been increasing for people switching phones — and it is now clearly leaning towards three years. “But remember, we are in the era of smartphone brands polishing their products from all angles, i.e., design, technology, speed and more. That’s a good place to be right now as a consumer as these smartphones will accommodate our lives in a much better way,” said Eid.

He said those looking for flying phones will be left disappointed. “People looking to maximise efficiencies around personal, social and career networking will be in for surprises when brands innovate, i.e., flexible screens, dual screens. For me, I’m looking for efficiencies — I care about my battery duration, the speed of my processor, and a smartphone with no limitations,” said Eid, who is enjoying his iPhone X, which he bought two years ago. “I usually upgrade every three years as that is when the wear outs happen. If an innovative model came along, I would be interested, however. My upgrade would be either a new iPhone 12 or the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2.”

Smartphone a utility tool

“The smart phone is a utility tool, completely functional — I use it to connect with my family, my friends and my colleagues through it. With today’s features, I don’t really have expectations beyond the current market norm, but I’m always ready to be surprised.”

Sabrina Maubert

Another French expat Sabrina Maubert, 50, working as a sales and administrative coordinator said: “Ever since I relocated to Dubai from New York, I found myself using the social network even more. It has helped me to remain connected to family and friends. That’s crucial for me as it eases my everyday life. Pictures are very important to me so the camera quality is essential. I use my smartphone to chat, send voice messages, documents, videos, social network and then to call!”

Maubert said as far as fatigue regarding smartphones go, she said it all depended on age of the consumer and point of interest. “My phone is a Samsung 8. I will probably get another one for Christmas maybe the Samsung S20. I am very much interested with the camera set-up and its primary 108MP sensor, it’s one of the best to me.”



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