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Only a few months after closing a Series B round of $60 million that valued the ephemeral messaging company at $800 million, Snapchat has been in talks for another funding that values it at up to $3.6 billion, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources also added that the funding itself would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars and that the lead investor might be a strategic party from Asia.

Such a deal could still fall apart, of course, but the effort has become well known among several Silicon Valley venture firms, who have considered investing.

A spokeswoman for Snapchat declined to comment.

The investor is neither China’s Alibaba Group nor Japan’s Rakuten, which has put a lot of money in Silicon Valley startups of late, said sources. One interesting possibility would be China’s Internet giant Tencent, which makes money from in-app transactions.

The move by the Los Angeles-based company comes on the heels of another massive funding round raised by social scrapbooking company Pinterest, which announced earlier this week that it just raised $225 million at a $3.8 billion valuation.

Besides the huge piles of investment dough being poured into them, here’s what else the pair have in common: Little to no revenue.

That does not seem to have stopped a panoply of venture and other investors from jumping in and ponying up with huge amounts of cash for the privilege of investing in several fast-growing startups, hoping to grab ahold of the next Twitter or Facebook early.

Launched in 2011, Snapchat has grown wildly popular in a relatively short span of time, effectively creating an entirely new genre of messaging category with its “ephemeral” pictures and videos that last for only a matter of seconds.

Snapchat’s last round – which it called a “scaling round” for infrastructure improvements – was announced in late June, led by Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from General Catalyst Partners and SV Angel. Previous investors Benchmark Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners also participated. With that round, the company had raised around $75 million in total.

Snapchat's Evan Spiegel

Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel

All the fervor has been due to Snapchat’s fast growth and younger demographic. Only a few months ago, co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel boasted that the service had more than 200 million snapped pictures and video taken by its users on a daily basis, up from 150 million just months before. Then in September at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, he said that the number had grown to 350 million self-destructing messages daily.

At the time, there was also an additional $20 million in a secondary offering just four months ago.

At the time of the June funding, in an interview with AllThingsD, Spiegel noted: “We’re excited about in-app transactions because of what we’ve seen in the Asian markets.”

A clue!

Snapchat has clearly been a phenom of late.

Indeed, the app has proved so popular – and potentially worrisome to established social players – that sources said when Spiegel continually rebuffed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s acquisition offers, Zuckerberg cloned the app outright with a service called Poke. Zuckerberg’s offering famously flopped, while Snapchat continues to grow.

Most recently, Snapchat has begun to experiment with features outside of its core ephemeral messaging service. The company launched its Stories product last month, essentially a long-form play on Facebook’s status update in the form of a picture or video. And recently, Spiegel has grown more keen on the idea of monetization, experimenting with bands and listening to music inside the app.

The company, however, has not been without its problems. Early on in its history, Snapchat had to fight the perception that it was a “sexting service” for tweens, a fly-by-night app used to easily spread lewd photos. And it is still involved in ongoing litigation with Frank Brown, a collaborator from the service’s early days, who is suing the company he was pushed out of.

137780863 520x245 Japans Docomo prepares upgrade to bring 150Mpbs downlink speeds to its Xi LTE network

NTT Docomo, the largest mobile network operators in Japan, announced today that it will be starting prelaunch operations for an upgrade to its Xi LTE network, offering downlink speeds of up to 150 Mbps – similar to speeds being offered by South Korean operators SK Telecom and LG Uplus for their LTE-Advanced services.

Docomo will start verifying its 150 Mbps LTE service in Japan’s Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture from July 30 onward, prior to the planned launch of the service in parts of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya this October.

Docomo says it has been upgrading its LTE coverage and data transmission speeds consistently, most recently expanding its 112.5 Mbps downlink service to more than 130 cities as of this month. Its latest move has not been termed as LTE-A by the operator, so this is probably an appetizer to the final LTE-A rollout (which is expected to arrive in 2015). In February, Docomo selected Nokia Siemens and Panasonic to upgrade its network with certain LTE-A features like carrier aggregation.

The 150 Mbps service boasts double the speeds of the first LTE network that Docomo rolled out in 2010, though the operator notes it is a theoretical maximum as speeds may vary depending on network traffic or transmission environments.

With its latest move, Docomo has become the first operator outside of South Korea to roll out such high download speeds. Docomo notes that its 150 Mbps LTE network will be compatible with selected handsets introduced from October onward.

Last month, SK Telecom took the wraps off the world’s first LTE-A network offering speeds of up to 150 Mbps, which is now operational in Seoul and a further 42 cities across the Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong-do districts. Subsequently, LG Uplus introduced a rival service earlier this month, which is currently available in Seoul and a few other major cities, but will be made available across South Korea during the third quarter of this year.

Consumers have been quick on the uptake as they display their eagerness for higher speeds – more than 150,000 subscribers signed up for SK Telecom’s LTE-A service just 14 days after its launch, making for a take-up rate of more than 10,000 new subscribers a day.

So far, only Samsung’s Galaxy S4 LTE-A handset – which launched on the same day as SK Telecom’s LTE-A network – runs on the service, though LG and Pantech are reportedly planning to release LTE-A smartphones soon.

US carriers have also been keen to push ahead with their LTE-A plans, with T-Mobile reportedly saying it will roll out LTE-A features later this year and Verizon talking about next-generation speeds.

Image Credit: Yoshikazu Tsuno via AFP/Getty Images

MGSL PS3 Beauty shot_sm v2

How much Metal Gear Solid can Konami fit into one package? We’re going to find out with the Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection. Crammed into two blu-ray discs will be the ultimate Metal Gear fan’s dream line-up: Metal Gear Solid, MGS2, MGS3, MGS4, MGS: Peace Walker, MGS: VR Missions (all HD’d up), the original MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 and two Ashley Wood digital comics. Also featured will be an expansive 100 page art book covering the 25 years the franchise has been captivating gamers.

The PS3 exclusive set is now officially set to drop on July 9th for $49.99. Quite a bargain when you consider how many Metal Gear games you get and all the trophies you can acquire! Stay tuned as this Metal Gear geek is craving some Legacy.

Ultimate Line-Up of Fan Favorites Available in PlayStation 3 Package

Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. today announced METAL GEAR SOLID: THE LEGACY COLLECTION will be available in North America and South America on July 9, 2013.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the METAL GEAR SOLID franchise, this PlayStation 3 exclusive package will include METAL GEAR SOLID, METAL GEAR SOLID 2: HD Edition, METAL GEAR SOLID 3: HD Edition (which includes the original MSX versions of METAL GEAR and METAL GEAR 2), METAL GEAR SOLID: Peace Walker HD Edition, METAL GEAR SOLID: VR MISSIONS, METAL GEAR SOLID 4: Trophy Edition and two Ashley Wood digital graphic novels which will be released for the first time in North America. In addition, the collection will include an all-new 100 page art book highlighting marketing art from across the globe, spanning the profound 25 year history of the esteemed franchise.

The METAL GEAR SOLID series is the seminal work of Hideo Kojima, Japan’s master game creator, and the progenitor of the stealth action game genre. With more than 33 million units sold to date, the METAL GEAR series has become a global phenomenon. The player controls a secret agent from an elite special forces unit who is sent on solo stealth missions through enemy installations, vast jungles, and sometimes even the thick of battle. Alone and surrounded by the enemy, even a special forces agent will find it tough to come out alive. But that is the secret behind the series’ popularity-the cerebral challenge of figuring out how to avoid combat, and the thrill of sneaking through enemy territory undetected.

METAL GEAR SOLID: THE LEGACY COLLECTION will be available on July 9 for $49.99 for the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system.

While Japan’s ailing consumer-electronics sector struggles to regain momentum, it turns out that Sony Corp. actually climbed to the No. 3 position in the global smartphone market in the third quarter. Sony, which was the No. 6 player in the same quarter a year earlier, came only behind Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc., according to the latest data from research firm IDC.

Does this signal a comeback for Sony, the brand once synonymous with the coolest gadgets?

Probably not.

Read the rest of this post on the original site

“The iPhone 5 went on sale in 22 more countries on Friday, making it now available in a total of 31 nations around the world, in Apple’s most aggressive launch schedule ever,” AppleInsider reports.

“The list of countries where the iPhone 5 launched on Friday is: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland,” AppleInsider reports. “They join the 9 countries where the iPhone 5 debuted a week ago: the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

AppleInsider reports, “As can be seen in the included videos [in the full article], customers queued up around the world to be among the first to get their hands on the iPhone 5.”

Read more and see the videos in the full article here.

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