HTC M7 Could Land in the US on March 22

In today’s mobile news roundup: HTC M7 lands in the US on March 22; BlackBerry co-founder no longer part of company; Opera acquires Skyfire Labs for $155M; and Chubby Checker sues HP and Palm for dead app.

HTC M7 lands in the US on March 22

Earlier this week, HTC launched a countdown timer for its February 19 event on its site, hinting at another HTC One product.  Sources claim that it’s the much talked about M7 that features a 4.7-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution display, 32GB of internal storage, 2GB of RAM, 13MP rear camera, a 2MP front-facing camera for video calling, and uses a new camera sensor that produces Ultrapixels.

The M7 is rumored to go on sale in Europe on March 8 and now, sources claimed that it will land in US retail stores on March 22.

The M7 will launch in the US under the HTC One banner on AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.  Price starts at $199.99 for a 32GB version with a two-year contract, and $299.99 for the 64GB version.  Sources also claimed that the HTC One will come in a metal casing with front-facing stereo speakers, and will be available in black and silver/white.

BlackBerry co-founder no longer part of company

BlackBerry co-founder Jim Balsillie, who, together with Mike Lazaridis stepped down as the company’s co-CEOs last year, no longer holds a stake in the company.

According to a US regulatory filing, as of December 31, 2012, Balsillie owns zero BlackBerry shares.  He previously owned 5.1 percent and was one of the company’s largest shareholders.

“It’s another tie severed,” said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners in New York. “When there’s so much turmoil in his effort to turn the company around, it’s not unreasonable for someone to sell his stake and move on.”

Lazaridis now has a 5.7 percent stake in the company.  The disclosure caused BlackBerry’s shares to stumble as much as 7.5 percent, but was able to recover and gained 7.7 percent to $15.07.

Opera acquires Skyfire Labs for $155M

Opera announced that it will acquire Skyfire Labs, a mobile video optimization specialist and fellow mobile browser maker, for $155 million in cash and stock with an upfront consideration of $50 million and performance-based payments over the next three years.
The deal is expected to close by March 15, 2013 and Skyfire CEO Jeffrey Glueck will join Opera and serve as EVP of operator business and will head joint efforts on the Opera Mini mobile browser, and overseeing Skyfire’s services.

“Opera and Skyfire are a natural fit,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. “Both companies have evolved far beyond their browser roots. Skyfire adds capabilities to our portfolio around video, app optimization, smartphones and tablets, and strength in North America. With video expected to consume over two-thirds of global mobile bandwidth by 2015, and as time spent on Android and iOS apps explodes, we are excited to extend Opera’s solutions for operators.”

Opera recently announced that it will be transitioning from a browser engine to one based on WebKit, used by the open-source Chromium browser.

Chubby Checker sues HP and Palm for dead app

Chubby Checker, the singer who popularized the twist dance style with his 1960 hit cover of Hank Ballard’s R&B hit “The Twist,” is suing Hewlett-Packard and Palm for a wang measuring app that used to be available for Palm OS devices.

The Chubby Checker app measures a man’s genitalia based on show size, and the singer is pissed that his name was used in association to to the app.  The app was only downloaded 84 times and was quickly removed in September 2012 after Chubby’s lawyers filed a “cease and desist” order.

Chubby Checker’s lawyers are seeking for $500,000 compensation.

“He’s hurt,” his lawyer Willie Gary said.  “He worked hard to build his name and reputation over the years.  We cannot sit idly and watch as technology giants, or anyone else, exploits the name or likeness of an innocent person with the goal of making millions of dollars.”

The funny thing is, Chubby and his lawyers are asking way too much for an app that people barely knew existed.  Another thing is, instead of going after the app developer who created the app, they’re going after HP and Palm.