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Tech Retrospect: RadioShack packs up

RadioShack's long decline continued this week thanks to a bankruptcy filing, but there is reason for hope. Also, the latest on the Galaxy S6 and more in your look back at the week in tech.


It's been a long, slow decline for RadioShack, a slide that took another sad turn this week. The company has filed for bankruptcy protection and will sell off roughly half of its 4,000 US stores. Those remaining will be rebranded under a partnership with Sprint.

Once a niche purveyor of obscure electronics, Radio Shack the company boomed in the 1970s and 1980s under the ownership of Tandy Corporation. Tandy became a well-known brand at the dawn of the PC boom. But that success wouldn't last, and since the 1990s, the company has been slipping into obscurity. These days, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a store focused on cheap radio controlled toys.

The smartphone definitely helped keep the retailer kicking for a few more years, but even having the latest wares from multiple wireless providers under one roof couldn't keep the profits flowing.

The company's remaining stores will now pivot into co-branded Sprint locations, nearly doubling that company's retail presence. I'd love to see this new partnership stop the bleeding and keep the brand alive, but Sprint's long-term viability itself is in doubt against ever-increasing competition from the likes of T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon. I'm having a hard time envisioning a great reinvention for the pair.

Samsung teases Galaxy S6

Could these phones all be the Galaxy S6? via CNET Korea

We're but a few weeks away from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where marathon sessions of dueling events on the Sunday before the show will push our laptop batteries to their collective limits. Samsung's could be the biggest, with the company sending out a teaser that says only " what's next" and features a simple, curved line. It looks like little more than a fork, but presumably what we're looking at is a stylized profile view of the next flagship Galaxy. Intriguingly, a recent leak shows that there may not be just one Galaxy S6, but multiples, including an Edge-style version with a curved screen and a more rugged permutations. It certainly wouldn't be the first time Samsung took the "let's see what sticks" approach to product engineering.

Galaxy S5 gets Lollipop on Verizon


Unexpectedly, Verizon this week became the first US carrier to deliver the latest flavor of Android to the Galaxy S5. Verizon typically drags its feet in certifying OS updates, hence our collective surprise, but users of that phone on this carrier would be wise to check for an update. From what I've seen, it's quite stable and quick, and of course offers plenty of new functionality .

Faster Raspberry Pi 2 is faster, runs Windows

The $35 Raspberry Pi 2. Luke Westaway/CNET

Hackers and tinkerers, rejoice. There's a new $35 Raspberry Pi, and it's fast. Raspberry Pi 2 is built around a 900Mhz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor, the sort found in flagship smartphones not that long ago. It also offers 1GB of RAM and plenty of ports for extra storage, network connectivity and video output. The original Pi, which will stay in production, became the brains behind many a wonderful device. The Pi 2 should spawn even more. Interestingly, a version running Windows 10 will be available later this year, and Microsoft will charge no fees, meaning developing on Linux or Windows will purely be a question of personal preference.

Under Armour buys MyFitnessPal

Dan Graziano/CNET

Sports apparel powerhouse Under Armour is flexing its corporate muscles this week with a pair of acquisitions that suddenly give it a strong presence on millions of smartphones and tablets. MyFitnessPal is the first, a calorie- and activity-tracking service that flaunts 80 million users and has hooks into many of the world's most popular activity trackers. Among them, Endomondo, was the second acquisition. Interestingly, Under Armour launched its own fitness tracking app recently at CES, so we'll see how well they can play nice.

Latest fallout from Sony's latest hack

So it turns out that getting hacked isn't so expensive. At least, not as expensive as you might have thought. Sony pinned the price tag of its (most recent) hack at a mere $15 million. Granted, $15 million is a lot for you and me, but for a corporation that looks set to lose $1.45 billion this financial year alone, $15 million is basically nothing.

Former co-chairwoman of Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal stepped down this week. Sony Pictures

In related news, co-chairman Amy Pascal is stepping down. Pascal, as you may recall, was the name in the "From" field on some of the most damaging emails leaked as part of that hack, exposing for many the decidedly unsavory side of Hollywood business. It's hard to imagine this step as doing much to change the perception of the studio. But then, it's also hard to imagine the movie-going public remembering what all the fuss was about in 12 months time.