Business briefs: Microsoft to offer Kinect-less Xbox at $399

  • Updated: May 13, 2014 - 9:41 PM

Microsoft to offer Kinect-less Xbox at $399

Microsoft Corp. said it would introduce a new, entry-level Xbox One console without the Kinect, at $100 less than the current version that includes the sensor. The less-expensive console, to be released in June for $399, will match the price of Sony’s PlayStation 4, which has been beating the Xbox One in sales since the two devices went on sale in November. The move appears to be an acknowledgment by Microsoft that its original vision for Xbox One was too ambitious for many gamers. With Kinect, Microsoft could boast that dance games on its system could be controlled with footwork and a swishing of the hips. But the vast majority of games are played with the more conventional controller.

Shoppers’ spring fling moderated in April

U.S. retail sales growth slowed in April, with consumers shopping less online and cutting back on purchases of furniture and electronics. The Commerce Department said that seasonally adjusted retail sales rose just 0.1 percent last month, after surging 1.5 percent in March following a harsh winter that had curtailed shopping. Several economists said the April figures might have been depressed because of seasonal adjustments connected to a later than usual Easter. Still, the modest sales suggest that consumers may remain cautious during the still-slow economic recovery. Auto sales increased 0.6 percent in April, and purchases at clothing stores were up 1.2 percent. But most of those gains were offset by declines in spending at restaurants, online retailers and furniture and electronics stores.

Sallie Mae to pay $60M to settle military case

Student lender Sallie Mae has reached a $60 million settlement with the Justice Department to resolve allegations that it charged members of the military excessive interest rates on their student loans, the federal government said. The deal settles a government lawsuit that asserted the student loan giant violated the rights of service members by imposing interest rates above the 6 percent permitted by federal law and by improperly seeking default judgments against them. Separately, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced a settlement of $30 million in restitution arising from allegations that the company maximized consumer late fee charges, as well as $6.6 million in civil penalties.

Motorola offers new, lower-cost smartphone

Motorola is trying to lower the cost of entry for smartphone buyers around the world with its latest device: the $129 Moto E. The company said the gadget will be available at its low price without requiring a service contract. By comparison, a 16-gigabyte iPhone 5s with no contract costs $649. Currently, the average price of a smartphone is $337. As a result, 70 percent of cellphone users still own feature phones, which can connect to the Web but cannot run mobile apps, according to Motorola. The Moto E’s 4.3-inch screen features 540 by 960 pixel-resolution with 256 pixel per inch density. The device runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the latest version of Google’s mobile software, and has a 5-megapixel rear camera.

Business inventories rose further in March

U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles in March, and sales increased by the largest amount in 10 months. Stockpiles rose 0.4 percent after a 0.5 percent rise in February, the Commerce Department said. Sales in March jumped 1 percent, the largest advance since May, after a 0.9 percent increase in February. Both months represented a solid rebound after a 0.9 percent sales decline in January that was blamed in part on the harsh winter weather. The two months of sizable gains in sales should encourage businesses to keep restocking to meet rising demand. That would mean increased orders to factories and rising production, which would lead to stronger economic growth.

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