One of the biggest-ever cyber attacks just got a whole lot bigger. That and more top money stories you need to know Wednesday.
The massive security breach at Adobe Systems (ADBE) was far more extensive than the company disclosed earlier this month. It now says the cyber-attack resulted in the theft of data from more than 38 million customer accounts. That's up from the earlier estimate of 3 million. The company says the hackers stole credit-card information, passwords and other data on Adobe customers. To limit the damage, Adobe has reset passwords and notified all of the affected users.
Keep an eye on the market around 2 p.m. Eastern time today. No policy changes are expected when the Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day meeting, but you never know. And whenever Chairman Ben Bernanke issues a statement about the economy, it reminds me of the old E.F. Hutton slogan: "When Ben Bernanke talks, people listen."
More records fell on Wall Street on Tuesday, with both the Dow the S&P 500 reaching new highs. For the S&P, it's the seventh straight all-time high. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) jumped 111 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 9 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) gained 12.
More and more people are connecting via LinkedIn. The social-network for professionals says the number of users on LinkedIn (LNKD) is up a whopping 38 percent from a year ago, to nearly 260 million. However, the company did post a loss and it warns the pace of growth in the current quarter will slow.
Things might be getting fun again for video-game makers. Shares of Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO) are set to take off after a big jump in earnings due to huge sales of the fifth version of its "Grand Theft Auto" series.
Rival Electronic Arts (EA) also posted blowout results, mostly because of its football, soccer and other sports-themed games. And both companies issued upbeat outlooks for the holiday shopping season, as new Xbox and PlayStation consoles are set to debut next month.
And Barnes & Noble (BKS) releases an updated version of its black and white Nook e-book reader today. It's lighter, has a sharper display, better battery life and a backlit screen.
When Google (GOOG) released Google Maps Navigation for Android it knocked 20% off the value of big turn-by-turn navigation players TomTom (TMOAF) and Garmin (GRMN) in a single day. Since then, Google Maps has spread to other mobile platforms like iOS, and its accuracy and usability has improved.
So we ask, why would someone pay hundreds of dollars for something we all can get for free? Sure, there are weaknesses with Google Maps, such as the need for cellular service, but it is now possible to load up a map and directions before a journey. Standalone GPS devices simply don't offer enough extras to make them a worthwhile buy anymore.
The point-and-shoot compact camera industry is another victim of the smartphone revolution. As a separate device, you've got to remember to bring your compact camera along if you want to use it. Moreover, most cameras require users to plug into a computer to upload and access photos, although there are a few wireless options now. And above all, basic compact cameras no longer offer better specs over smartphone cameras: the Nokia Lumia 1020 32GB Windows Smartphone ($149.99 with free shipping, a low by $49; 2-year contract required) boasts a 41-megapixel camera, and it's easy to share photos because it's connected to the Internet.
The cloud is here to stay and there's an impressive wealth of free cloud storage out there. Set up multiple accounts and you can store everything you need on remote servers that you can access from anywhere. And while a flash drive might seem like an easy solution for transmitting files to friends, many services offer such a utility without having even having to hand out your password.
Most of us have already left a physical music collection behind (see VHS player). We traded our CDs and tape decks for MP3 players, but these too will be redundant soon. It's so easy now to maintain a digital collection online; all we need is a device that can access it whether it be a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or speaker system.
Generally speaking, sales of the latest handheld gaming consoles are pitiful. The dedicated portable gaming industry has tanked, perhaps because handheld consoles and the accompanying games are expensive and their battery life is poor. And beyond employing better graphics, there simply isn't enough innovation or creativity in the industry: most people are content to play casual games and ports of old classics on their phones and tablets. Free-to-play games have made gaming on-the-go cheap and accessible for the masses; while the PC and console game industries cater to the more serious gamer.
Video camera manufacturers have tried in vain to keep up with the digital revolution. For the everyday user, there's very little incentive to buy an expensive video camera. The mass market for home videos is well-served already: many smartphones and tablets have HD recording capabilities, and built-in software makes video easy to edit and share.
That's right, even the humble alarm clock isn't safe. Why buy a standalone device that tells the time and plays the radio, when you already own one? You can set your smartphone to operate as an alarm clock and more! No more random wake-up calls from that radio song that gets stuck in your head all day; instead, you can set a tune to wake up to from your own library. Even most TVs have alarm functions now. These days, the only reason to buy an alarm clock is for the gimmick or décor factor.
Keep in mind that, despite our griping, there will still be reasons to purchase some of these items. But for the average tech Joe, avoiding them might be easier than you think -- resulting in some extra cash in your bank account to spend elsewhere.