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Report of layoff plans at Activision Blizzard, Call of Duty publisher

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Spectators and fans react during the Activision Blizzard Overwatch League Grand Finals in New York on July 27, 2018.

Christopher Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Spectators and fans react during the Activision Blizzard Overwatch League Grand Finals in New York on July 27, 2018.

The misery continues to pile on for the video game industry after its top stocks suffered double-digit declines last Wednesday.

Bloomberg reported on Friday that Activision Blizzard, the video game publisher of blockbuster franchises such as “Call of Duty,” “Diablo” and “Warcraft,” plans to announce on Tuesday a round of jobs cuts “which could number in the hundreds.”

The layoffs would be part of a restructuring effort as the company faces sluggish sales, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment on Bloomberg’s report sent outside regular office hours.

Earlier in January, Activision’s stock was sent tumbling 7 percent in after-market hours after it announced a split from game studio Bungie, which developed the popular “Destiny” game franchise.

Activision had employed “an entire team full of Destiny support staff” across functions such as public relations, marketing and social media, according to a report by gaming news site Kotaku.

Citing two people close to the company, the Kotaku report said there have been limited opportunities for those staff members formerly tied to Destiny to shift to other teams, and members from that division are “perhaps the most worried about their job security.”

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Why Apple had to settle its dispute with Qualcomm

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In the end, Apple had to choose the lesser of all evils:

Option one: Settle with Qualcomm, the leader in 5G chips. Qualcomm’s 5G chips are already shipping in some devices today, with more expected as the year rolls on.

But Apple has seen Qualcomm’s business model as detrimental to the entire industry since it uses its dominant position to squeeze large fees out of each company that uses its chips and patents. Hence that nasty lawsuit. Apple CEO Tim Cook made his disdain for Qualcomm’s practices known in a January interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, and even blasted Qualcomm’s decision to hire a PR firm to write fake news stories about Apple, which Business Insider reported.

Option two: Wait for Intel to catch up in 5G. Even before Intel announced Tuesday night that it would abandon its plans to make 5G modems, there was speculation that the company was running behind to deliver the chips on time. Apple has been exclusively using Intel’s 4G modems in its latest iPhones as its dispute with Qualcomm raged on. If that dispute continued, a 5G iPhone might not have been possible until 2020 or even 2021.

Option three: Choose Huawei. In an interview that ran on CNBC this week, Huawei’s CEO said the company was “open” to talks with Apple about bringing its 5G chips to the iPhone. But a partnership with Huawei would’ve looked bad for Apple, given the stink of political and security concerns around the company. (Huawei’s CEO has denied spying allegations.)

Option four: Apple could make its own 5G chips. Apple is thought to be working on its own modems after opening an office in San Diego, Qualcomm’s hometown, and posting job listings for modem chip designers. But it would likely take Apple several years to develop its own 5G chip, putting it several years behind its rivals.

None of those options were ideal for Apple. It could’ve waited an extra year or two for Intel to get its 5G chips up to snuff. It could’ve waited several more years to develop a 5G chip of its own as competitors like Google and Samsung push out their 5G devices and market themselves as more innovative than Apple. It could’ve worked with Huawei, a company that still can’t sell products in the U.S. over security concerns.

Or it could’ve ended its dispute with Qualcomm, even if Cook is allergic to its business practices. Unfortunately for Apple, Qualcomm was the best bet.

Tuesday’s settlement could result in a 5G iPhone as soon as this fall, when Apple is expected to release its next iPhone. (For what it’s worth, timing on a 5G iPhone is still unclear. Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said in an interview Wednesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he couldn’t comment on Apple’s product plans that include Qualcomm chips.)

Qualcomm gets to take a victory lap this week. Its lead in 5G forced a settlement with Apple and added a massive boost to its stock. Qualcomm shares was up 12% Wednesday, adding to its 23% gain Tuesday. Intel was up about 4%. Apple was up just 1%.

The market agrees. Apple was the loser in this fight.

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Subaru launches next generation Outback at New York auto show

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The original Subaru Outback was a definite oddity, basically a Legacy on steroids with a full 7.3 inches of ground clearance. Of course, it didn’t hurt for the then-struggling automaker to have signed up Paul Hogan, the Australian actor who was then reaching the height of his fame in the “Crocodile Dundee” film franchise.

The gen-six Outback has grown even larger than the original, and it now boasts a full 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

The familial similarities to the Legacy is immediately apparent, though Subaru has tried to put a bit more room, at least from a styling perspective, between the two nameplates. There’s a vertical array of LED lamps along the Outback’s lower fascia, according to the teaser image released by the automaker, a different layout than on the new Legacy. And there’s plenty of black cladding on bumpers, fenders and sills that you don’t see on the sedan.

Like the 1994 model, all Outbacks have shared their underpinnings with the more conventional Subaru Legacy family. This time, that starts with the brand’s new global architecture — which will underpin the majority of other Subaru models going forward. The platform is said to be stiffer, offering better ride dynamics, and it is expected to have a better layout for future moves into electrification.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold screen breaking and flickering

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Samsung’s $1,980 Galaxy Fold phone is breaking for some users after a day or two of use. A review unit given to CNBC by Samsung is also completely unusable after just two days of use.

The phone has only been given to gadget reviewers, but some of the screens appear to be disconnecting and permanently flashing on or off.

The Verge‘s Dieter Bohn posted earlier on Wednesday that his phone appears to have a defective hinge with a “small bulge” that he can feel that’s causing the screen to “slightly distort.” Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says his “review unit is completely broken just two days in,” but noted he accidentally removed a protective film on the screen.

YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee also removed the film and experienced a broken display. A Samsung spokesperson had warned on Wednesday not to remove the protective layer.

However, CNBC didn’t remove that layer, and our screen is now also failing to work properly. When opened, the left side of the flexible display, which makes up a large 7.3-inch screen, flickers consistently. It looks like this:

Samsung started taking pre-orders for the Galaxy Fold last weekend, but quickly ran out of availability, suggesting supply is constrained at least until its retail launch on April 26. Folks who ordered it might want to reconsider at this point.

Samsung decline to comment.

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