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October 23, 2012

Technology News Briefs — Oct. 23, 2012

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From Blackberry to Apple

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is dropping Blackberry in favor of the iPhone.

The government agency said it will end its contract with Research In Motion and shell out $2.1 million to buy iPhones for its more than 17,600 employees. The decision comes just a few months before RIM’s launch of the new Blackberry.

The ICE, who has had a contract with RIM for eight years, told Reuters the company “can no longer meet the mobile technology needs of the agency.”

The agency said the iPhone will be used by a “variety of agency personnel, including, but not limited to, Homeland Security Investigations, Enforcement and Removal Operations and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor employees.”

Online Research Key in Holiday Shopping, Study Finds

More shoppers will use the Internet to conduct research on products and pricing before making holiday purchases this year, a new survey has found.

A report by PriceGrabber indicated 88 percent of respondents will research their holiday gift purchases online in advance to find the best deals.

Of those respondents, 38 percent plan to spend three to six hours researching holiday gift purchases, 29 percent plan to spend up to two hours, 19 percent said they plan to spend more than 10 hours and 14 percent between seven and 10 hours.

“Our survey findings indicate that consumers are still budget conscience and will continue to do their research to find the best pricing on products when holiday shopping this year,” said PriceGrabber vice-president of marketing and analytics Rojeh Avanesian.

New Skype to Launch With Windows 8

A new Skype will accompany the release of Windows 8 Oct. 26.

Skype, which was purchased by Microsoft last year, will have a new look and deliver a product that “is simpler, faster and easier to use,” the VoIP provider announced Oct. 22.

Skype for Windows 8 “takes advantage of some of the new features and functionality of Windows 8 that put people front and center,” the Microsoft press release reads.

The new version can be fully integrated into Windows 8’s People Hub feature, which will allow users to pin favorite contacts as a tile and view messages and notifications on the Start Screen.

Ancestory.com to be Sold for $1.6B

Ancestory.com, the largest family-history website, is to be purchased by a London-based private equity firm for $1.6 billion, the companies have announced.

Permira Advisers LLP, the joint statement said, will pay $32 a share — 41 percent higher than Ancestry.com’s closing price on June 5, the final day of trading before the company reportedly hired a financial advisor for a possible sale.

Ancestry.com, which recently hit the 2 million-user mark, considered a sale due to concerns the cancellation of a television show featuring the site’s research would quell subscriber growth.

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