A roundup of items making news this weekend …

Add Epic Games to the growing roster of tech companies opening offices in Seattle and competing for the region’s technical talent. The company behind the Gears of War franchise for Xbox 360 is creating a studio in the city that will focus initially on developing Unreal Engine 4, the new version of the game engine used in hundreds of video games. Epic lists seven open positions for the Seattle studio. No word yet on the specific location.

Microsoft Bing will be the default search engine in Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD under a deal struck between the companies just this past week. It’s a potential boon for Microsoft and aligns the two Seattle-area companies against Google in the search business, even as Microsoft and Amazon prepare to compete in the tablet market. See our live coverage from the Amazon event in Santa Monica for a recap of all the Kindle news.

On the subject of Kindle Fire HD, Amazon now says customers will be able to opt-out of the sponsored screensavers and ads for a $15 fee after buying the device.

A judge this week approved a settlement between the Justice Department and three publishers over allegations of conspiring with Apple to fix the prices of digital books. It’s a victory for Amazon, but the LA Times reports that the publishing industry is concerned that it will give the e-commerce giant even more clout. The case is continuing against Apple and two other publishers that didn’t settle.

Which category of Kickstarter project pulls in the most money these days? Games. Officials with the crowdfunding site say games have received more than $50 million in pledges so far this year. Sci-fi author Neal Stephenson’s swordfighting project Clang and game designer Jordan Weisman’s Shadowrun Returns have been among the standouts.

Turning to the week ahead, the biggest date on the calendar is Wednesday, Sept. 12, when Apple is expected to introduce the new iPhone. Whatever it looks like, it’s probably safe to say the hardware won’t change size on the fly, but this concept video from the animation gurus at Aatma Studio is pretty incredible, particularly the “rubberband” feature at the 1:05 mark. (Via AllThingsD)

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  • guest

    MS’s search business is an epic disaster. First they said they would catch Google in a year. More than half a decade later they haven’t gained a single point of share vs Google. On the profitability side, they blamed their initial inability to make money on the requirement for upfront investments in infrastructure. Not completely plausible, but okay. When that was completed and they continued to lose billions, they argued it wasn’t just a set infrastructure that was required but also a set volume, and that they couldn’t get to that volume organically short of decades. Again not completely plausible, but okay. So they tried the Yahoo bid, which thankfully failed, ended up with the very expensive Yahoo partnership, and relaunched Bing. The result? They’re still losing billions and still haven’t gained any share against Google, just against Yahoo. How in the world is adding potentially more eyeballs via Kindle going to be a potential boon when they have been completely unable to adequately monetize the eyeballs they already have?

    Google management must be laughing their butts off. MS has lost more than $8b chasing Google in search with no success. Meanwhile Google has usurped MS’s smartphone business model and, despite MS’s decade head start, now dominate that OS market. They’re well positioned to do the same in tablets, and they have made major inroads against Office, Hotmail, etc.
    Fire Ballmer. Fire the board. Start over. If it’s not already too late.

    • Guest

      You know, if you were half as committed to your work as you are to your former boss, our product would have shipped by now. As it stands, we’re in a day-for-day slip and my money is being Ballmered away whilst you leave your IDE in the background.

      Fire guest. Fire guest’s manager. Get back to work. If it’s not already too late.

      • guest

        An ad hominem attack? Impressive.

    • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

      Bing has gained market share, so what are you talking about? If search was a complete failure for Microsoft, then they would have dropped it. Something tells me that you are trolling…

      • guest

        Bing’s US gains have come almost exclusively at the expense of Yahoo. Google’s share of the US market has actually increased since the partnership, reaching a record new high in May of this year. And don’t bother looking outside the US, because there Google’s gains have been even more pronounced. MS has been plugging away at search in one form or another and under one name or another since 1999. They have lost at least $8b operationally that can be verified. That doesn’t include items like the recent $6.2b aQuantive write-down, several other failed acquisitions made in the pursuit of building this business, or monies not declared as operational losses and instead hidden under general R&D or other. What do they have to show for it? A deeply unprofitable search engine that has had no success against Google and whose best showing in any country is its low double digit share in the US. That it’s been a complete failure is undeniable. If you want to debate these facts, do so. But please refrain from calling me a troll just because you don’t like me listing them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/scottmoore.seattle Scott Moore

      In this case I hope Microsoft pulls it together. Google is a monopolistic disaster. As a small business owner I can say their pay per click ad scheme is wildly expensive and they intentionally jack the bid price. Google needs some solid competition and I home Microsoft gives it to them. Microsoft is the only player capable of doing that.

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