BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has been forced to quit, according to reports. The news comes as one of the beleaguered Canadian smartphone manufacturer's main backers, Fairfax Financial Holdings, failed to fund a $4.7 billion (£2.95 billion) buyout bid, and has instead acquired $1 billion (£627 million) from various investors to attempt to bring the company back to profitability. It had tentatively agreed in September to sell itself to Fairfax, but the money just wasn't there. Now, after "a thorough review of strategic alternatives," the company has decided to raise money by selling debentures, or convertible debt, to its major shareholder. The news has stunned commentators, and BlackBerry's shares have plummeted 18 per cent since the first reports.
The UK government has reportedly banned iPads and other mobile devices from cabinet meetings due to concerns that foreign powers might hack them and use them as surveillance devices. Following a presentation last week by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and Mike Bracken, head of the Government Digital Service, the No. 10 security team moved in to remove all the iPads from the room, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday. Security services apparently fear that China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan are able to bug mobile devices using a Trojan computer virus that turns them into microphones and transmitters without the owner's knowledge.
Nokia and Samsung have extended a patent license agreement for a further five years with the binding agreement lasting until 1 January 2019 as a result. The terms of the contract means that Samsung will pay additional compensation to Nokia from 1 January 2014 onwards with the final amount being agreed upon in a binding arbitration that will be reached at some point in 2015. "This extension and agreement to arbitrate represent a hallmark of constructive resolution of licensing disputes, and are expected to save significant transaction costs for both parties", said Paul Melin, Chief Intellectual Property Officer of Nokia. Financial details have not been disclosed due to the strict NDAs in place and backs up the strength that Nokia's patent division has even though the devices part of the company has been sold.
Tesco has announced the installation of hi-tech screens capable of targeting ads to customers in all 450 of its petrol stations across the UK. The OptimEyes scanners developed by Amscreen will be able to determine a customer's age and gender, as well as the time of day and date, in order to tailor ads to individuals from particular demographics. Simon Sugar, the son of Sir Alan Sugar and Amscreen CEO, said, "For potential advertisers, this means we can now offer various digital advertising solutions to reach the sought after Tesco shopper." Privacy concerns have already surfaced amongst civil liberties groups, with Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch telling the Daily Telegraph that people would never accept such a degree of surveillance if it was for law enforcement purposes.