Rabu, 30 April 2008

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), the worlds top maker of memory chips, beat forecasts with a 37 percent rise in quarterly profit on stellar performances in flat screens and mobile phones, sending its shares 4 percent higher.

Samsungs outlook remains solid thanks to its strength in TV screens and handsets, lifted by a softer Korean won and robust demand, while a long-suffering chip division is expected to turn the corner by the second half.

Hynix Semiconductor (000660.KS), the worlds second-biggest memory chip maker, disappointed the market on Friday with a net loss that was almost 50 percent bigger than consensus.

Japans Toshiba Corp (6502.T), which makes NAND-type flash memory chips widely used in portable electronic devices, posted a 95 percent drop in quarterly profit as chip prices tumbled, and forecast flat earnings growth. Third-ranked memory chip maker Elpida (6665.T) swung to a net loss from a profit last year.

"Samsungs competitiveness in memory chips and LCD reached a level that none of its rivals can aim to match. Samsung will continue to post outstanding results," said Park Hyun, analyst at Prudential Investment & Securities . "Hynix on the contrary is entering a slump. Insufficient investment so far is taking its toll."


Makers of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) worldwide are hoping that spending cutbacks from cash-starved chip makers and improving demand ahead of the back-to-school and gift-giving seasons later in the year will help them back into profit.

Supporting those recovery hopes, market research firm iSuppli upgraded its rating on the DRAM market to "neutral" from "negative," citing indications that the worst was over.

Samsung, also the worlds top maker of large liquid crystal display (LCD) screens and flat TV sets, posted January-March net profit of 2.19 trillion won (2.2 billion), beating a 2.01 trillion won forecast from 10 analysts polled by Reuters.

The technology powerhouse, flagship of the Samsung Group, whose chairman resigned this week over a tax scandal, earned a 1.6 trillion won net profit a year ago and 2.2 trillion won in the fourth quarter.

Shares in Samsung, valued at more than 100 billion, gained 4.4 percent on Friday, hitting their highest close in two years and outpacing the wider markets (.KS11) 1.4 percent gain.

"Second-quarter earnings will be in line with the level seen in the first quarter," said Chu Woo-sik, Samsungs executive vice president of investor relations, during an earnings conference.

"A meaningful recovery will come in the second half," Chu said, referring to the memory chip market.

In 2008, Samsung is expected to earn 9.27 trillion won, up from 7.4 trillion won last year, according to Reuters Estimates.

Samsung said it expected "very little" price decline for DRAM chips in the second quarter, after a 15-month downward spiral during which prices of some chips lost 90 percent of their value.

Samsung also said it expected prices of NAND flash memory chips to fall by only a low single-digit percent.


Samsungs LCD and mobile communications units posted better-than-expected results that easily outweighed the weakness in chips.

The display division posted another strong quarter, fuelled by a shortage of flat screens amid surging demand for sleek TVs ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.

Samsung said a total of 2.74 trillion won would be invested in a new LCD line by Samsung and Japans Sony (6758.T).

It also said it would respond "case by case" to Sonys TV price cuts as another round of cuts was seen in the fourth quarter.

Samsung, which trails only Finlands Nokia (NOK1V.HE) in the handset market, sold 46.3 million phones in the first quarter, equaling the record number sold in the fourth.

"It depends on how Motorola (MOT.N) and Sony Ericsson (ERICb.ST) react to the current situation they are in, but because Samsung is doing fine in both the high-end and mid-price handsets, I believe there wont be any immediate changes in its good performance," said An Sung-ho, an analyst at Hannuri Sec.

Samsung shares rose 12 percent in the first quarter, against the KOSPIs 10 percent loss, on expectations of strong earnings.

(Additional reporting by Mayumi Negishi in TOKYO and Kim Yeon-hee, Miyoung Kim, Cheon Jong-woo, Lee Jiyeon and Park Ju-min in SEOUL; Editing by Keiron Henderson and Jean Yoon)
Aside from its PPS2, USBfever has added two other products to its lineup for Apple portables. The first of these is an infrared remote (right), which operates at distances of up to 32.8 feet, and controls basic iPhone/iPod functions such as play/pause, skipping forward and backward, and adjusting volume. To work, users must plug the remote's included dongle into a player's dock connector; supported devices include everything from the third generation iPod onwards, with the exception of Shuffles and the first-generation Nano. The remote package costs $20.

Second from the company is combination case and kickstand for the third-generation Nano. The case is appropriately apple-shaped, and is meant to let Nanos double as digital photo frames. All ports and buttons are exposed, and the cases come in clear, pink, black and green colors. Each one is $14.

DLO has updated its TransDock line of FM transmitters, which stream iPod audio through a car's stereo deck while keeping the player's battery charged. The focus of the lineup is on the standard TransDock, which cradles iPods while allowing repositioning through a flexible neck. Although the dock has been redesigned to match the aesthetics of newer iPods such as the Touch, the major new feature is "IntelliTune" technology, which automatically seeks the clearest frequency and prompts the listener to tune into it. Owners can additionally output video to an in-car display, or connect various other audio players via an auxiliary input jack. The TransDock costs $100, and is compatible with any iPod featuring a color screen.

The TransDock micro is effectively similar to its siblings, but omits both the cradle and its extra connections, leaving users to tune through a remote integrated into the power jack. The Micro costs $60.

The TransDock Classic is based on DLO's earlier TransPod, but like the other TransDocks, has been updated with both IntelliTune and modern iPod compatibility. The Classic differs from the regular TransDock by omitting a neck, and substituting the AV output for an audio-only option. It is priced at $80.


TransDock micro

TransDock Classic

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Wireless equipment maker LM Ericsson AB on Friday said its first-quarter profit fell 55 percent, which was better than expected, and the company's shares soared more than 25 percent.

Net profit in the first three months of 2008 was to 2.7 billion kronor ($460 million), compared with 5.8 billion kronor a year ago.

Sales rose to 44 billion kronor ($7.4 billion), from 42 billion kronor in the year-ago quarter.

Ericsson reported higher costs in the quarter, related to recent acquisitions, restructuring charges and research and development investments. A 48 percent drop in profits at mobile phone joint venture Sony Ericsson also weighed on results.

Ericsson's shares that have been battered since a profit warning last year rose sharply to 15.64 kronor ($2.65) in midday trading.

"This was a really nice surprise," said eQ Bank analyst Jari Honko. "This shows that Ericsson is a shining star in the network industry."

Honko said Ericsson's operating profit beat the market consensus by about 16 percent. Despite Ericsson's results, he cautioned that the network infrastructure industry was in a "difficult phase."

Ericsson Chief Executive Carl-Henric Svanberg said his company "developed well in the quarter, considering the present market environment and the declining U.S. dollar."

A weak dollar makes exports more expensive.

Still, he said, Ericsson continues "to plan for a flattish development in the mobile infrastructure market" in 2008, but that the professional services market "is expected to show good growth.

Jacob Pedersen, an analyst at Sydbank, said the report was very pleasing in relation to the market's forecasts, but said "the question now is whether this is just a one-timer?"

"Are revenues just being pushed around between quarters or is Ericsson able to gain market share?," he asked.

The numbers alone, and without comparing them with analyst expecations, actually showed a "pretty disappointing earnings development compared to the same quarter last year," he said, adding consensus have come down a fair bit since the Ericsson share started its downward tumble last year.

Since the second half of last year, shares in the Stockholm-based company have plunged on the back of a surprise profit warning as well as turmoil in the world's financial markets.

"The big test will be the half-year report," Pedersen said, pointing to fairly downbeat magagement comments given for the coming quarters.

"They indicated that a larger portion of revenues could come from network rollouts rather than from software product upgrades," he said, adding that the margins are greater on the latter.

Ericsson in February announced a cost-cutting plan that would lead to thousands of layoffs worldwide.


On the Net:

iStyles has begun shipping the latest version of its Crystal Case iPod protectors, now tailored for the third-generation iPod nano. The cases conform specifically to the dimensions of Apple's latest Nano, and are made of translucent polycarbonate, with colors tinted to the shade of each different Nano model. Exposed areas of a player include the clickwheel and the headphone jack; the screen, Hold switch and dock connector remain covered most of the time, but a door allows access to the latter two components as needed.

The case uses a two-part design, which snaps together to form its seal. Colors on sale include clear, pink, green, "shady" and "cool blue" variants, with each model selling for $10.

Sabtu, 26 April 2008

The 3G iPhone will be announced June 9, the likely date of Apple CEO Steve Jobs keynote at the companys Worldwide Developers Conference, analysts said in research notes on Thursday.

The 3G iPhone will be the "first of an impressive wave of new products" from Apple, wrote Citi analysts Richard Gardner and Yeechang Lee. They also expect an updated Mac laptop and iPod lines. The Apple conference is scheduled for June 9-13 in San Francisco.

In addition to a 3G iPhone release in early June, the 2.5G model could have a "minor casing change" and a price drop to between US$299 and $349, compared to the current $399, wrote Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research, in a research report.

Those predictions are consistent with a February prediction Gardner made that 3G iPhones will be announced by midyear. The 3G iPhone release will help Apple meet its target of shipping 10 million iPhones in 2008, Gardner wrote at the time.

Apple is confident it will sell 10 million iPhones this year, officials said during a conference call on Wednesday to discuss the companys second-quarter earnings.

When asked about the possible release of a 3G iPhone, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer declined comment. Apple has new products in the pipeline that the company is excited about, Oppenheimer said.

Apple sold more iPhones than expected during the quarter and iPhone inventories were not enough to meet the strong demand, company officials said. Apple acknowledged that aggregate iPhone inventories were low in the U.S. and Europe, which in the past has led to speculation that Apple is reducing current iPhone supplies to prepare for the release of the 3G iPhone.

The iPhone shortage is consistent with Apples "tendency to wind down inventory ahead of an update," Wu wrote in his note. Predicting unit shipment of around 11 million iPhones in 2008, Wu said that iPhone adoption could be driven by the acceleration of iPhone 2.0 software, which was released in March as a beta and will be delivered to iPhone users by the end of June.

The iPhone 2.0 software provides enterprise applications to iPhones, including push e-mail support through the Microsoft Exchange mail server. It also includes an SDK (software developer kit) for developers to write iPhone applications.

Native Exchange support on the iPhone could boost its adoption, Wu said. The iPhone SDK should deliver many third-party applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch by the end of this year, the Citi analysts wrote. The SDK has already been downloaded 200,000 times and is being used in one-third of Fortune 500 companies to develop applications for the iPhone, according to Apple.

In the end, the 3G iPhone will be as good as the network it operates on, and AT&T needs to broaden the rollout of its 3G network in the U.S. to handle data traffic, Wu wrote. The current iPhones are putting a strain on AT&Ts 2.5G EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Environment) network, Wu wrote.

AT&Ts 3G broadband network is available in many U.S. metropolitan areas, and the carrier intends to expand it. The network uses HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology.

"Timing of a broad 3G roll-out at AT&T is unclear to us and in our experience, these types of significant network roll-outs tend to take longer than consensus thinking," Wu wrote.
SEOUL, South Korea - Samsung Electronics said Friday its profit rose 37 percent in the first quarter as strength in mobile phones and liquid crystal displays offset weakness in semiconductors.

But Japanese electronics maker Toshiba Corp. said its profit plummeted 95 percent in the January-March quarter due to costs of its exit from next-generation video HD DVD business.

And Samung memory chip rival Hynix Semiconductor Inc. said it swung to a quarterly loss on a sharp decline in chip prices amid oversupply in the industry.

Samsung, the world's second-largest producer of mobile phones after Nokia Corp., earned 2.19 trillion won ($2.2 billion) in the January-March period compared with 1.6 trillion won a year earlier. Sales rose 19 percent to 17.11 trillion won ($17.19 billion).

"Strong growth in emerging markets was balanced by the more difficult economic situation in both North America and Europe," said David Steel, vice president of Samsung's telecommunications business.

Steel said handset sales rose 33 percent to 46.3 million in the quarter versus the previous year and matched Samsung's record total in the fourth quarter. That came amid a 13 percent contraction in the global handset market in the traditionally slow first three months of the year.

Samsung said its sales of liquid crystal displays rose 53 percent from a year ago while semiconductor revenues declined 2 percent amid traditionally slow seasonal demand and weak pricing.

The company is the world's largest producer of both products.

Investors pushed Samsung shares up 4.4 percent to close at 690,000 won ($694).

Hynix Semiconductor, the world's second-largest manufacturer of memory chips after Samsung, posted a net loss of 674.79 billion won ($678.43 million) for the quarter versus a profit of 418.11 billion won a year earlier.

Sales fell 35 percent to 1.573 trillion won ($1.58 billion).

Hynix shares fell 1.4 percent to 28,100 won ($28).

In Japan, Toshiba said its profit fell to 1.25 billion yen ($12 million) in the January-March quarter from 26.17 billion yen a year earlier. Revenue fell 3 percent from a year earlier to 2.09 trillion yen ($20 billion).

"Our net profit sharply fell due to the end of (the) HD DVD business," Toshiba spokeswoman Hiroko Mochida said.

Most of the decline came from shutting down assembly lines and dealing with inventory, according to Toshiba.

Toshiba announced the end of its HD DVD business in February. The technology had been competing against Blu-ray disc technology, backed by Sony Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic brand products, five major Hollywood movie studios and others.

For the year through March, Toshiba's net profit declined 7 percent to 127.4 billion yen ($1.2 billion).

Toshiba's shares fell 2 percent to 848 yen ($8.15) in trading Friday.

Sharp Corp., meanwhile, said its profit edged up 0.2 percent in the fiscal year ended March 31, as solid demand for its liquid crystal display panels offset sliding prices for other products.

Osaka-based Sharp, known for its Aquos LCD TVs, said net profit for fiscal 2007 was 101.9 billion yen ($977.6 million), up from 101.7 billion yen a year ago. The company didn't disclose details of fourth-quarter results.

Sharp shares rose 1.1 percent to 1,797 yen ($17).

Separately, Samsung and Japan's Sony Corp. announced they have signed a contract to expand production of LCDs at their joint-venture manufacturing facility in South Korea to meet global demand for televisions.

Production is targeted to begin in the second quarter of 2009, the companies said in a statement released by Samsung.


Associated Press writers Shino Yuasa, Yuri Kageyama and Joseph Coleman in Tokyo contributed to this report.
Fennec, the mobile version of the Firefox browser, will simplify and enhance Web browsing on cell phones and usher in an era of intense developer innovation, the chairman of the Mozilla Foundation and of Mozillla Corp. said Thursday.

Access to data, sites and applications on the Internet shouldnt be limited by the type of device being used, and Fennec will make that possible, said Mitchell Baker during a keynote speech at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

"The key to the Internet should be the same. The core is information: What can I get to and what can I do with it?" she said.

While technical constraints affect mobile browsing, psychological constraints affect the experience on the PC, caused by usage habits formed over decades, Baker said.

Shed rather have technical barriers to overcome than psychological ones, so shes hopeful for what Fennec can accomplish.

"Because its a new area, mental constraints of what we can do... are much less," she said. "Mental constraints are often the hardest to get past."

Fennec will provide a totally open development platform, making Firefox the platform that is most likely to lead to the vision of full access to the Web via mobile devices, she said.

While Fennec is still at a very early stage, Baker encouraged developers in the audience to join the effort, which will generate the type of intense innovation that has been seen in the Web 2.0 space, she said.
NEW YORK - NextWave Wireless Inc. is looking to sell its vast holdings of licenses for U.S. airwaves, which are worth billions of dollars and could allow a new market entrant to create a nearly nationwide wireless network.

The San Diego-based company said late Wednesday that it had hired Deutsche Bank and UBS to assist in the sale of its spectrum holdings, which cover 85 percent of the U.S. population. That includes major markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.

If valued according to the average price in the recent airwaves auction conducted by the Federal Communications Commission, NextWave's licenses are worth $6 billion. However, it is unlikely it would get that much, since the radio characteristics of its spectrum make it more expensive to put to use, at least initially.

The company paid about $500 million for the airwaves, according to George Alex, the company's chief financial officer.

NextWave shares rose $1.95, or 41 percent, to close at $6.70 Thursday.

The FCC auction for licenses in the 700 megahertz band, which concluded in March, is one of the reasons NextWave has chosen to sell, Alex said in an interview.

"The 700 megahertz auction was exceptional in the prices that they achieved," Alex said. "We've had a lot of inbound inquiry ... A lot of people were unfulfilled in their needs by 700. They'd amassed the business plans and the money they needed to participate in that auction, so now they're looking for other alternatives."

The spectrum is unused now, but a large swath of it is tied up in FCC proceedings to sort out interference issues with satellite radio transmissions. The holdings are in three different bands, which makes it more complicated for a single buyer to put all of them to use, but Alex said NextWave makes equipment that could allow a service provider to stitch them together.

NextWave started out with a plan to use the airwaves with its own equipment, but it now focuses on making and selling the gear and letting others operate the networks. Among other things, it makes chips for WiMax, a next-generation wireless standard being deployed by Sprint Nextel Corp. Some of the licenses now up for sale are in the 2.5 gigahertz band that Sprint plans to use for WiMax, a wireless data networking technology.

Alex said the money from the spectrum sale will be used to retire debt and invest in the company's products. No special dividend for shareholders is planned.

NextWave has a problematic history in the wireless business. In 1996, it bid $4.74 billion to buy the rights to 95 spectrum licenses, big enough to cover nearly 94 million people. But the company couldn't make its payments and filed for bankruptcy protection.

The FCC took back and re-auctioned the licenses, but NextWave argued that bankruptcy law protected it from seizure of its assets. It took the fight all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided with it. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2005, a year after it reached a settlement with the FCC.

NextWave sold some of the licenses from the 1996 auction to Verizon Wireless, Cingular (now AT&T Inc.), and MetroPCS Communications Inc. It returned others to the FCC.

NextWave's current spectrum holdings derive from another FCC auction in 2005, in which it spent $115.5 million, and from acquisitions from other companies.


On the Net:



AP Business Writer Barbara Ortutay contributed to this report.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Filmmaker Spike Lee has linked up with Nokia to direct a movie made with cell phone footage from everyday people in what he calls the democratization of film.

The film by Nokia Productions will consist of three acts. An "assignment" for each act will be announced online and people will then have four weeks to produce their submission.

"You are seeing first hand the democratization of film," Lee said in a statement on Thursday. "Aspiring filmmakers no longer have to go to film school to make great work. With a simple mobile phone, almost anyone can now become a filmmaker."

Lee was nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay for "Do the Right Thing" in 1990 and for best documentary for "4 Little Girls" in 1998.

The films theme will evolve around the way music tells the story of humanity, and people can submit text, music, video or images at certain times between now and August 21 to http://www.nokiaproductions.com.

Nokia will choose 25 submissions, then people can vote online for their favorite for a top 10 from which Spike Lee will then choose the winning submission from each act.

Lee will direct the film through the Web site.

The final film with the three winning submissions and other contributed content will premiere later this year in Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
WASHINGTON - Monique Blake won't be shopping for new clothes. William Acosta got rid of his cell phone. Paula Rockwell put off buying a home.

In ways both large and small, Americans are doing without. Squeezed by lofty prices for gasoline, food and other products, worried about their jobs and rattled by talk of a recession, people are hunkering down.

Each person's decision to give up something and trim spending can collectively carry crucial implications for the economy.

Personal spending accounts for the single-biggest chunk of gross domestic product, which measures national economic activity. Because of that, people's behavior is important in determining whether the country will survive the economic turmoil or fall victim to it.

Sixty percent of the public say they are now less comfortable about making a a big-ticket financial commitment, such as buying a home or a car, than they were just six months ago, underscoring their more circumspect behavior, according to the RBC Cash poll conducted by Ipsos, an international polling firm, in early April. A year ago, 48 percent said they were less comfortable about making a major purchase.

"I'm feeling more cautious about buying a house. We were thinking about that, but we'll be waiting a little bit longer than we otherwise would have," says Rockwell, 53, a homemaker in Baltimore, Md. She described the current economic climate as being fraught with insecurity. "A larger number of people are really hurting and even people fairly well off are feeling insecure," she says.

BIGresearch, a firm that tracks consumer behavior, said 53.6 percent of people they polled focused more on what they needed, rather than what they wanted, during their shopping trips over the last six months.

"It's more about cutting back rather than cutting out. Like taking your family to Pizza Hut versus Applebees," says Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at NPD Group, a consumer and retail research firm.

Clothing stores, furniture and home furnishing retailers, electronics and appliance stores, building materials and garden supply places, and health and beauty shops were among the merchants who saw their sales drop in March, according to a recent government report on retail sales around the country.

"I don't shop for clothes and other stuff. I just wear what I have," says Blake, 27, of Clanton, Ala.

Pam Goodfellow, a senior analyst at BIGresearch, says the frugality has put more of a focus on "smart shopping and bargain hunting. People are picking up fewer items to complement what they already have."

Shoppers are tightening the belt in the face of a number of negative forces.

Employment conditions are deteriorating. Job losses for the first three months of this year are nearing the staggering quarter-million mark and the unemployment rate has climbed to 5.1 percent, the highest since the aftermath of the devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes in 2005.

Rising prices for food, energy and other goods and services are taking a bite out of paychecks. Workers' average weekly earnings -- adjusted for inflation -- fell to $279.80 in March, a 1 percent drop from the same month last year. With gasoline prices, marching toward $4 a gallon, people are left with less money to spend on other things.

Meanwhile, those who own homes are watching what is often their single-biggest asset fall in value, making them feel less wealthy and less inclined to spend. And, harder-to-get credit has made it more difficult for people to finance pricey, big-ticket purchases.

The housing crisis and expensive gasoline prices are things shoppers can't control. So, they're taking power in other ways, "by controlling the little things ... filling up the cart and putting things back at the check out," says Candace Corlett, principal at consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail. "I'm going to put it back. They are learning restraint and that is deadly for commerce," she says.

As people tighten belts, so are many companies. Some are cutting back on production and many are reluctant to hire. High prices for energy and other raw materials are squeezing profit margins. The more cautious behavior by people and businesses is rippling through the economy and making for weaker activity.

Research by WSL Strategic Retail found that fashion accessories, home decor items, premium brands or food and specialty coffees, eating at restaurants and take-out foods, and tickets to entertainment, are the top areas where people are trimming their spending.

Starbucks Corp., the world's largest coffee retailer, warned Wednesday that its second-quarter earnings would be weaker than expected and lowered its earnings forecast for the year as the economy's slowdown hit sales, especially in California and Florida -- two markets hard hit by the housing market's collapse.

Far fewer people, meanwhile, are willing to cut back on things like medications, cell phone service and cable TV service, Corlett says. Cable TV and cell phones have become kind of like the "new essentials," Corlett says.

Don't tell that to Acosta, 38, of Jefferson County, Mo. He has given up his cell phone as he struggles to make ends meet while studying to become a nurse and working at a remodeling company. "I can barely afford my utility bills," he says.

With the high price of gas and groceries, Acosta says he no longer can afford little treats like going out to eat or taking in a movie.

Blake, who is not employed, says she and her husband, who is working, are cutting back on these things, too. They also don't plan to take a fancy vacation. "We don't have the money or the extra money," she says. And, she's considering cutting off their cell phone service or moving to a prepaid plan, to reduce expenses.

BIGresearch says 35.2 percent of people polled are scaling back vacation plans.

Even though Blake, Acosta and others say they are eating out less, the government's recent report showed that sales at bars and restaurants posted a modest increase in March from the previous month. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, meanwhile, showed a solid rise in sales.

Cohen's research says video games, toys and skin care products are three areas he believes are least likely to see spending cuts.

For now, there are some things that Blake and Rockwell don't want to give up: health-club memberships. "It's important to be healthy," Blake says.
Generic dealer USBfever has released a second Portable Power Station intended for the iPhone. The device serves as a backup battery, temporarily recharging the internal one when connecting to wall socket is impractical; it attaches directly to an iPhone's dock connector, and starts the recharge process immediately. A second port at the base of the PPS2 lets users charge both the internal and external batteries simultaneously, or alternately sync with a computer as usual.

Unlike the standard PPS, the new version is only rated at 800mAh, and cannot fully charge an iPhone; it is however considerably more compact, and is also able to recharge third-generation iPod nanos. USBfever has priced the PPS2 at $28.

If your fingers are too slow for you to easily search for local info on your mobile devices, Tellme is offering a solution. Your voice.

On Wednesday, the Microsoft subsidiary announced it was adding local "on-the-go" information to its mobile voice portal, beginning with some BlackBerry models. Instead of typing or looking through menus, a user who has downloaded the software just holds the "talk" button and says a keyword. The results are shown on the screen.


After the BlackBerry, the service is expected to be available on future Helio, Windows Mobile, and Apple iPhone devices. According to news reports, it was launched on BlackBerry first, rather than devices with Microsofts own Windows Mobile, because of BlackBerrys support for Java.

Mike McCue, TellMes founder and general manager, said the service not only uses a voice interface, but it provides a specific answer to a specific question -- "like a movie show time, local weather info or driving directions."

Users also do not need to type in their location, as Tellme uses global positioning system (GPS) technology to gauge a users position.

Some of the uses for the service include a Business Finder, Movies, Traffic, Weather, Maps, or Driving Directions. As one example, a user can say a business name or a business category, such as "coffee" or "hardware," and results from Microsofts Live Search will provide the business address, driving directions, and options to call the business or to share with a friend.

Similarly, saying the name of a movie theater will result in theaters closest to you, movie show times, driving directions, and, via Fandango, the ability to buy tickets. "Traffic" will result in a map of current traffic conditions, "weather" will show a five-day forecast, and "driving directions" followed by saying or typing the destination yields turn-by-turn directions.

There were no details about costs to the user, but there are news reports that the service will eventually include ads.


Lewis Ward, an analyst with industry research firm IDC, said that Tellmes approach acknowledges that "mobile devices are not the Web," and that every keystroke counts.

The new Tellme service, he said, "sounds quite similar to Yahoos oneSearch 2.0 product," which also works for some BlackBerry models and uses voice. He said he saw the Yahoo service demonstrated at the recent CTIA trade show, where a user can say "pizza" and a zip code, and can then view a listing of every pizza parlor in that area.

Someday, will pizza parlors be only a verbal request away on every phone? Ward said it was too early to tell, and that it will take six months or more to see what the adoption rate is. Among other things, he said, it could remain a service only on higher-end devices.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Motorola Incs (MOT.N) quarterly loss widened on weak cell phone sales, signaling further market share losses, especially in North America, to rivals such as LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS), and sending shares down as much as 5 percent.

Motorola, which plans to spin off its mobile devices business next year after more than a year of losses, also missed Wall Street estimates on first quarter revenue and forecast a deeper-than-expected second-quarter loss.

"Theyre stuck. Theyre in quicksand now. Theyre not going to get out," said Charter Equity Research analyst Ed Snyder, adding that Motorolas survival in cell phones becomes more difficult if it keeps losing market share as expected.

Motorola, the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider, said on Thursday its share of the global mobile market fell to 9.5 percent, about one-fourth the share of market leader Nokia (NOK1V.HE), and less than half its own market share of 23.3 percent at the end of 2006.

Motorola has failed to come up with a strong line up of high-end handsets since launching the Razr in late 2004, even as it faces new competition from the likes of Apple Incs (AAPL.O) popular media-playing iPhone.

"We didnt expect much and we didnt get much," said American Technology Research analyst Mark McKechnie.

Motorola blamed the sharp market share drop from 12.4 percent in the fourth quarter on a weak line-up of phones with high-speed Web links primarily in North America, its top market where its biggest rivals are LG and Samsung Electronics (005930.KS).

Analysts said Motorola was likely to lose even more market share in the second quarter, based on its own forecasts that show cell phone revenue could be flat despite an expected small increase for the overall market.

Motorolas first-quarter loss widened to 194 million, or 9 cents per share from 181 million, or 8 cents a share a year ago. Before a charge of 4 cents a share for job cuts and other items, its loss was 5 cents a share, a penny better than the average analyst forecast, according to Reuters Estimates.

The worlds third biggest mobile phone maker said net sales fell to 7.45 billion from 9.43 billion. Analysts on average had expected revenue of 7.85 billion.


Motorola recently ended a proxy fight with major shareholder Carl Icahn after it agreed to allow two of his proposed slate of directors onto the board, but still faces investor pressure to turn its businesses around.

Chief Executive Greg Brown, who has been publicly criticized by Icahn, stopped short of saying the worst was over for the mobile device unit but forecast a second quarter operating loss comparable to the first quarter.

"Its all about building momentum," Brown said in a conference call with analysts, where he promised three new phones with high-speed Web links in the second quarter.

"We have a very limited portfolio globally as well as here," in North America Brown said in an interview referring to high-end phones. He said he was "optimistic about the prospects for restoring" the unit but gave no timeframe.

Motorola forecast a second-quarter loss from continuing operations of 2 cents to 4 cents per share, excluding any charges related to cost-cutting efforts, compared with analyst expectations for a loss of 1 cent per share.

The Schaumburg, Illinois-based company sold 27.4 million phones in the quarter compared with 45.4 million a year ago. Seven analysts polled by Reuters had phone sale estimates ranging from 25 million to 33 million.

The mobile device units first-quarter operating loss widened to 418 million from 233 million in the year-ago quarter on revenue that fell 39 percent to 3.3 billion.

Its set-top boxes and wireless network gear unit posted a 2 percent rise in revenue to 2.4 billion compared with the year-ago quarter, below McKechnies estimate for 2.5 billion.

The enterprise unit, which sells to enterprise clients like retailers, rose 5 percent to 1.8 billion, below McKechnies 1.9 billion estimate.

Shares of Motorola, which has lost 65 percent of its market value since results first started to disappoint investors in October 2006. fell 31 cents to 9.24 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Derek Caney and Dave Zimmerman)
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Shares in telecom equipment maker Ericsson (ERICb.ST) rocketed by more than a quarter on Friday, their biggest gain in five years, after the company unveiled surprisingly strong first-quarter profits.

Earnings, still well adrift from a year ago, beat a set of gloomy forecasts set in train by repeated bad news which followed a dismal third quarter from the worlds largest mobile network builder.

"Im very happy with the numbers. Theyre better than my forecasts and better than consensus," said Nicolas von Stackelberg at Sal. Oppenheim.

Ericsson made an operating profit of 4.3 billion Swedish crowns (729 million) in the quarter, a sharp drop from 8.2 billion a year earlier but better than the 3.95 billion average forecast when stripping out assumptions for restructuring costs.

Ericsson, which announced plans in February for sweeping cost savings, said it was taking an 800 million crown charge for restructuring cuts made during the quarter, but that was not included in the main profit and margin figures.

By 1434 GMT, Ericssons shares, which saw 50 percent of their value stripped away since an earnings shortfall in October, were up 18.5 percent at 14.75 crowns, buoying the broader Stockholm index.

It was the biggest intraday rise since April 2003. Shares in rival Alcatel-Lucent (ALUA.PA) rose 8 percent and the news lifted Europes technology index (.SX8P) 5.1 percent.

Investors have been worried about the direction of Ericssons main market, mobile network infrastructure, as telecoms operators have been holding back on capital spending.

And even though Ericsson stuck to a view that the infrastructure market would be flat this year, strong sales numbers signaled conditions may not be as weak as feared.

"I think the big issue, considering what has happened in the last six to nine months, is that you can see at least from Ericssons perspective that its a little more stable," said Greger Johansson, analyst at Redeye.


Group gross margin was 38.6 percent excluding the restructuring charges, compared with 43 percent a year earlier.

"It was a great quarter. The gross margin was especially better than I had forecast," said Hannu Rauhala, analyst at Pohjola. "Even in this very difficult environment for network sales, the figures were quite good."

North America, a relatively small market for the firm, had the strongest increase with a 39 percent rise to 4.3 billion.

Carl-Henric Svanberg, Ericssons chief executive, said in the statement that business had developed well considering market conditions and a falling dollar.

"We still find it prudent to plan for a flattish mobile infrastructure market in 2008," he said, adding cost reductions were running according to plan. Ericsson said in February it would cut its cost base by 4 billion crowns a year.

Ericssons key network division logged 30 billion crowns in sales, up 2 percent from a year earlier and exceeding forecasts.

Networks had an operating margin of 9 percent excluding restructuring costs, although Svanberg said the proportion of new network rollouts was still putting pressure on margins.

A higher share of network rollouts -- which have slimmer margins than the more lucrative upgrades and network expansions -- was the main culprit behind the third-quarter shortfall.

Johansson of Redeye said one encouraging sign was that price pressures were showing signs of easing a little. Chinese players and Ericssons large rivals Nokia Simens Networks (NSN.UL) and Alcatel-Lucent appeared to be taking a less aggressive stance.

Svanberg, in a teleconference with analysts, said: "We would expect the price competition at least not to get worse going forward, now that we have fewer, stronger players."

In addition to its 50 percent interest in handset maker Sony Ericsson (6758.T), which also has had profit troubles of late, Ericsson has divisions in professional services and multimedia.

Professional services revenues grew 20 percent to 10.3 billion crowns. Multimedia climbed 16 percent to 3.9 billion.

Ericsson repeated it expected good growth in the professional services market in 2008, while it has long touted multimedia as a potential future growth engine.

"Ericsson has quite a good product portfolio, they have a wider product offering for fixed-line networks and the products are quite good, said Pohjolas Rauhala. He said once cost cuts were in place, the foundation would be set for better profits.

(Additional reporting by Georgina Prodhan in Frankfurt, Tarmo Virki in Helsinki, Sven Nordenstam, Anna Ringstrom and Sarah Edmonds in Stockholm; Editing by Quentin Bryar)
Pioneer has started the week today with introductions for three high-end AVIC navigators. The DVD-equipped F900BT and Premier F90BT, as well as the CD-only F700BT, all offer in-dash mapping on a 5.8-inch wide touchscreen and support comparatively advanced GPS features such as Traffic Message Channel and support, an advanced voice command system, and text-to-speech to read out street names. Each, however, is built just as much for media playback: any can read discs with DivX, and MPEG-4 video as well as AAC, MP3, and WMA audio, while 2GB of built-in memory as well as slots for both SD cards and USB that provide both audio and video support from flash storage. Both connect to most iPods and support not just playback but also direct control of the Apple players.

The AVICs are also uniquely extendable for mapping through simple text: users can add custom addresses through Comma Separated Value (CSV) files that mark out special locations without the need for an official update. The all-in-one devices further add support for other common car functions, including Bluetooth for hands-free cell calls, the options of HD Radio, SIRIUS, or XM tuners, and video connections for a rear-view parking camera.

Beyond optical drive choices, the GPS devices are separated by Internet and output features. The F900BT and F90BT include MSN Direct tuners for gas prices and other local data, while the F90BT both bundles an iPod-ready cable and includes high-power pre-outs for more advanced car stereos. Every system is ready in June, with prices sitting at $850, $1,100, and $1,200 for the F700BT, F900BT, and F90BT respectively.

The nations major cable TV companies have decided to pull out of Sprints Pivot wireless offering. But they seem to have few wireless alternatives if they want to offer bundles of services to compete with phone companies, so they may have to step up their efforts with Sprint and Clearwire to develop a nationwide WiMax network.

Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable reported Wednesday what had been anticipated for months, ever since Sprint said in November that it would cease expanding the Pivot program: The cable companies said they have stopped marketing Pivot. Existing customers will be given an option of moving service directly to Sprint.

Key Pivot players have also been talking with Sprint and Clearwire about helping fund a nationwide rollout of WiMax, the next generation of Wi-Fi that offers faster speeds and greater coverage. Earlier reports cited meetings among Sprint, Clearwire, Comcast, Time Warner, Intel, and Best Buy as participants working to make WiMax a reality.

Adding credence to the seriousness of the cable companies continued interest in mobile wireless was a report by GigaOM that Comcast has hired wireless expert David Williams, former VP of AT&Ts Cingular Wireless operation and more recently CTO of Telefonica O2 Europe.

Pivot had been crafted by Sprint as an add-on to the triple-play package of cable TV, broadband Internet access, and telephone service offered by cable companies. However, Pivot never met its expectations as cable companies complained it was too cumbersome operationally. In addition, WiMax is beginning to look like a more profitable and effective way to deliver wireless services to cable customers.

"The driver was there but there were operational challenges that made it difficult to sell and bring products to market," a Sprint spokeswoman told The Associated Press. "It just wasnt a long-term solution."

Although the major players in WiMax negotiations have declined to comment on their talks, previous reports said Comcast could contribute $1 billion and Time Warner $500 million to a Sprint-Clearwire WiMax effort.

Sprint has been racked by a series of problems -- most of them related to its disastrous $35 billion acquisition of Nextel -- but it has been rolling out advanced mobile wireless technologies. It has been deploying 3G EV-DO service nationwide and has installed WiMax networks in Chicago and the Baltimore/Washington area in anticipation of funding for a wider WiMax rollout. Sprint also has been in an on-again, off-again business relationship with Clearwire on WiMax.

See original article on InformationWeek.com
There may be another spectrum auction in the offing, albeit a private one not operated by the FCC. NextWave Wireless announced Thursday that it has asked two investment banking firms to explore the possibility of selling its extensive spectrum holdings that cover most of the United States.

"We no longer view our spectrum holdings as critical to reaching our product sales objectives and believe that now is the perfect time for us to sell these valuable assets," said Allen Salmasi, CEO and president of NextWave, in a statement. "Since the completion of the recent 700 MHz auction, we have received multiple offers for our U.S. spectrum assets."

Salmasi said the sale of the spectrum would enable NextWave to improve its financial situation and concentrate on developing its wireless products, including WiMax and radio frequency integrated circuit chipsets, WiMax and LTE base station platforms, and mobile TV systems that the company is working on with mobile phone service providers to bring into commercial deployment.

The NextWave spectrum consists of 154 Advanced Wireless Service licenses, 30 Wireless Communication Service licenses, and additional Educational Broadband Service and Broadband Radio Service licenses. NextWave said its developing systems to tie its disparate spectrum holdings together.

Taken together, the companys spectrum could create a network covering most of the United States. One possible candidate to purchase some of NextWaves spectrum could be T-Mobile, which recently spent $4 billion for a wide swath of AWS licenses. As yet, T-Mobile hasnt unveiled plans for its AWS spectrum.

NextWave said it has hired Deutsche Bank and UBS to work on the sale of its spectrum, although NextWave said theres no guarantee the sale would be successful.

NextWave has had a tortured history with its spectrum. A decade ago it bid more than $4 billion for licenses but filed for bankruptcy protection when it couldnt pay for the spectrum. Later, in litigation that reached all the way to the Supreme Court, NextWave was able to acquire spectrum. A successful spectrum sale now would close the circle on the transaction.

After its announcement, NextWaves stock jumped nearly 30% in early trading Thursday.

See original article on InformationWeek.com
CHICAGO - Struggling cell phone maker Motorola Inc. disappointed investors Thursday when it posted a wider first-quarter loss and failed to meet revenue forecasts.

The report sent shares down more than 5 percent, before they rebounded slightly.

The suburban Chicago company, which is in the midst of a massive reorganization that includes splitting itself into two publicly traded companies, said it lost $194 million, or 9 cents per share, for the quarter that ended March 31.

That's 7 percent more than a year earlier when it lost $181 million, or 8 cents per share. Excluding one-time charges related to massive job cuts, the company would have lost 5 cents per share.

Sales fell about 21 percent to $7.45 billion, down from $9.43 billion a year ago.

The performance fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial predicted, on average, a loss of 7 cents per share on sales of $7.75 billion. Analyst estimates typically exclude one-time charges.

"Motorola's results were not pretty," RBC analyst Mark Sue told investors in a research note Thursday.

The company's poor performance continued to be driven by weak first-quarter cell phone sales, which slid 39 percent compared to a year earlier, continuing a two-year slump.

"As expected, the downside results were attributable to weaker-than-expected performance at the mobile devices unit," Kaufman Bros. analyst Raimundo Archibold Jr. told investors.

Motorola said Thursday that the division lost $418 million during the quarter, nearly 80 percent more than the $233 million it lost during the same period last year. The company shipped about 27 million handsets during the quarter, and its share of the global market fell below 10 percent -- down from 22 percent in 2006.

But Greg Brown, who became president and chief executive this year, said he expected the company's cell phone lineup to improve in the second half of 2008 and in 2009.

"In 2009, as we transition more of our devices to our improved platforms, we will deliver a broader, more innovative and competitive customer-driven product portfolios," he said during a conference call with investors.

And he said the segment's revenue would likely stay the same or increase slightly.

That led some investors to see and end to Motorola's misfortune.

"Looking forward, however, the company guided handset revenue 'flat to up,' better than our expectations and putting on hold 'death spiral' questions for the business," wrote Cowen & Co. analyst Matthew Hoffman. "With restructuring gathering pace and the deterioration of the handset business slowing, we find it easier to look forward with the stock."

Meanwhile, the company's home and networks division, which sells TV set-top boxes and modems, saw its operating profit shrink 8 percent to $153 million.

The lone bright spot in the company's financial performance continued to be its enterprise mobility solutions division, which sells computing and communication equipment to businesses. That unit's operating profits grew 9 percent.

Motorola shares fell 30 cents, or 3.1 percent, to close at $9.25 Thursday.


On the Net:

SEOUL, South Korea - Samsung Electronics said Friday that net profit jumped 37 percent in the first quarter amid strong demand for mobile phones in emerging markets.

Samsung earned 2.19 trillion won ($2.2 billion) in the three months ended March 31, compared with 1.6 trillion won in the same period last year, the company said in a statement to South Korea's financial regulator.

Sales rose 19 percent to 17.11 trillion won ($17.19 billion), the company said.

Samsung said in a separate statement that mobile phone sales "achieved similar volume" to the fourth quarter's record sales of 46.3 million handsets, despite contraction of about 13 percent in the global market.

"Our handset business is growing very strong," Chu Woo-sik, executive vice president for investor relations, told analysts on a conference call.

Chu cited 33 percent growth in handset sales year-over-year. Emerging markets, including China and India "continued to be the main driver of growth," he said.

Samsung's mainstay semiconductor business suffered due to weak pricing due to supply increases and slow seasonality, Chu said. Slow seasonal demand for personal computers hurt sales of dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips, he added.

Samsung is the world's largest manufacturer of computer memory chips and flat screen televisions and is the world's second-largest manufacturer of mobile phones behind Finland's Nokia Corp.

Samsung is the flagship of Samsung Group, the country's biggest industrial conglomerate.

On Tuesday, the group's long-serving chairman announced his resignation over a scandal that led to his indictment on tax evasion and other charges.
Contour Design today unveiled the HardSkin for iPhone, a case based off of its iSee iPhone v3 model that adds a rubberized finish to the outside shell. The hard shell offers protection to the iPhone's features, while the silicone adds to impact resistance, and allows the iPhone to remain safely on a flat surface. The HardSkin case allows for full access to the device's functions, while still offering complete protection. HardSkin for iPhone costs $35.

The case fastens to the iPhone by clipping together, and also includes a slim holster which can hold the device face-in or face-out.

Jumat, 25 April 2008

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia (NOK1V.HE), the worlds biggest mobile phones maker, said on Thursday it would co-brand a limited edition of Renault (RENA.PA) Sandero cars in Brazil, fully equipped with Nokias navigation system and car add-ons.

Renault will sell the Sandero Nokia, including the Nokia N95 multimedia phone with an integrated GPS system, for prices from 17,650 euros (27,810). Only 1,000 cars will be manufactured, the company said in a statement.

Navigation is seen as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the technology industry. Nokia last year bid 8.1 billion for U.S.-based digital map supplier Navteq (NVT.N) in its largest takeover to get a stronghold in the industry.

Nokia partnered with Renault last year to provide a navigation system and hands-free equipment for a set of Twingo cars and has teamed up with Ferrari to produce a limited edition of 60 luxury Ferrari phones, sold for about 18,000 euros.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by David Hulmes)
Vettro plans to introduce at Interop next week a mobile workforce application that makes the process of locating underground utility equipment, such as pipes and cables, more efficient.

Interop Online Stay on top of breaking news and blog coverage from Internet in Las Vegas,
April 27 to May 2, 2008 >> Interop Coverage
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Handset makers sold 14 percent more phones in January-March than a year ago, growing at the fastest pace in five quarters, research firms said on Friday.

In 2006, market growth was at over 20 percent level throughout the year.

"Global handset volume continues to increase at a healthy pace. Recent annual growth rates have actually gone up, not down. Emerging markets continue to surge," said Neil Mawston, analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The worlds largest phone maker Nokia (NOK1V.HE), and Korean vendors Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and LG Electronics (066570.KS), won further share of the market, helped by attractive designs and wide offerings.

The worlds two largest vendors, Nokia and Samsung grew twice as fast as the market, research firms IDC and Strategy Analytics said.

Struggling Motorola (MOT.N), Swedish-Japanese Sony Ericsson (6758.T) (ERICb.ST) and Apple (AAPL.O), a newcomer to the industry, could not keep up with continuing fast growth on the market.

Sony Ericsson saw its profits halved in the quarter and its fourth spot in the market lost to LG, as demand slowed for its more expensive camera and music handsets.

"We see that the demand on the high end has softened," Sony Ericsson sales chief Anders Runevad told a conference call, adding that consumers were becoming more cautious.

However, the 14 percent growth shows the market has been relatively little hurt by worries over global economy, so far.

"Disposable income is being eroded by rising food and fuel prices and worries about global financial markets and slow economic growth are creating a cautious outlook for the months ahead," IDC analyst Ramon T. Llamas, said in a statement.

(Editing By Ovais Subhani)
SEOUL, South Korea - Samsung Electronics said Friday that net profit jumped 37 percent in the first quarter amid strong demand for mobile phones in emerging markets.

Samsung earned 2.19 trillion won ($2.2 billion) in the three months ended March 31, compared with 1.6 trillion won in the same period last year, the company said in a statement to South Korea's financial regulator.

Sales rose 19 percent to 17.11 trillion won ($17.19 billion), the company said.

Samsung said in a separate statement that mobile phone sales "achieved similar volume" to the fourth quarter's record sales of 46.3 million handsets, despite contraction of about 13 percent in the global market.

"Our handset business is growing very strong," Chu Woo-sik, executive vice president for investor relations, told analysts on a conference call.

Chu cited 33 percent growth in handset sales year-over-year. Emerging markets, including China and India "continued to be the main driver of growth," he said.

Samsung's mainstay semiconductor business suffered due to weak pricing due to supply increases and slow seasonality, Chu said. Slow seasonal demand for personal computers hurt sales of dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips, he added.

Samsung is the world's largest manufacturer of computer memory chips and flat screen televisions and is the world's second-largest manufacturer of mobile phones behind Finland's Nokia Corp.

Samsung is the flagship of Samsung Group, the country's biggest industrial conglomerate.

On Tuesday, the group's long-serving chairman announced his resignation over a scandal that led to his indictment on tax evasion and other charges.

(This version CLARIFIES in headline that Samsung profits rose 37 percent. Sales rose 19 percent.)
Apple is working to greatly expand the reach of its iTunes trademark, a filing at the European Trademark Office reveals. While Apple already owns multiple trademarks related to its combination music and video software, the new application would see the number of applicable categories jump from four to 19, making it extremely difficult for other companies to poach the name. Apple has in the past encountered conflicts with names such as "iPhone" or "iTV," due to other companies laying early claim. Problems with the latter resulted in the Apple TV.

Many of the categories do not directly relate to Apple's field of expertise; Class 11 covers items such as lighting, heating and cooking appliances, while Class 18 covers leather goods, and Class 25 applies to clothing. The largest category is Class 35, which covers the sort of online retail services available through the iTunes Store.
Programming from several TV networks has been added to iTunes Stores in Canada and the UK. ITV has signed a deal to bring a variety of "classic" TV shows to the UK iTunes Store, among them international hits such as The Prisoner and The Saint, along with more locally famous series such as Captain Scarlet and Brideshead Revisited. Downloads are priced at an average of �1.89 per episode, but not all shows and seasons are currently available.

At the Canadian iTunes Store, several Nickelodeon shows have been added, which are also duplicated via YTV and Treehouse. Besides Avatar: The Last Airbender, shoppers can find episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer, Drake & Josh and Wonder Pets. Episodes are priced at $1.99 CAD each.
For one week only, Apple's Japan stores are selling limited-edition cases for the iPod touch and nano, a Japanese site writes. Each case is made of hardened polycarbonate and coated in black rubber, featuring a special golden etching on the back, belonging to the shopping district it was bought from. People can buy Ginza, Shibuya, Nagoya, Sendai, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Shinsaibashi models of the cases.

These etchings also include art in a traditional Japanese style, with subjects like fish, temples and samurai. The Nano case costs 2,280 yen ($22), while the Touch case is 2,680 yen ($26).

In an unusual deal, Apple has announced a decision to buy PA Semi, a microprocessor design company. An Apple spokesman, Steve Dowling, has declined to elaborate on the reasons or terms of the deal, except to say that Apple "buys smaller technology companies from time to time," and it does not comment on "purposes and plans." It is atypical however for the company to buy hardware firms, particularly as it has come to rely on ready-made components from a variety of manufacturers such as Intel, Samsung and Infineon. A source cited by Forbes claims the deal cost $278 million in cash.

PA Semi is 150-person company that designs low-power chips, and was founded in 2003 by Dan Dobberpuhl, formerly a lead designer on the Alpha and StrongARM chips created by Digital Equipment. The acquisition has thus fueled speculation that Apple intends to design custom processors for devices like the iPhone or the iPod, possibly as a means of distinguishing its platform, but potentially in order to retain high margins on the sale of each unit.

The connection between PA and Apple runs back several years, as at one point Dobberpuhl intended to design a chip based on PowerPC architecture; the switch to Intel CPUs for Macs ultimately ended any talks, but Apple is said to have watched the company closely ever since.

Forbes notes that it will likely be at least a year before Apple products with PA Semi chips are released. It is also rumored that while Apple is promising to support its acquisition's current customers, the company will eventually make PA Semi technology exclusive.
Having finally overcome some unexpected obstacles, an early Windows version of the Mac's PwnageTool hacking software has been released. Dubbed WinPwn, the software is in a v0.99.1 beta version, and does not currently support the creation of IPSW files based on iPhone 2.0 firmware. Users can, however, flash their iPhones/iPod touches with v2.0 IPSWs created by PwnageTool. Other temporarily missing features include the ability to unlock a baseband receiver.

WinPwn's developer cautions that because the software is in beta, installing and using it may be risky, potentially forcing a complete restore of an iPhone or Touch during which user content could be deleted. The software also requires iTunesMobileDevice.dll, and a pre-existing installation of Apple's v1.1.4 firmware.
Generic dealer USBfever has released a second Portable Power Station intended for the iPhone. The device serves as a backup battery, temporarily recharging the internal one when connecting to wall socket is impractical; it attaches directly to an iPhone's dock connector, and starts the recharge process immediately. A second port at the base of the PPS2 lets users charge both the internal and external batteries simultaneously, or alternately sync with a computer as usual.

Unlike the standard PPS, the new version is only rated at 800mAh, and cannot fully charge an iPhone; it is however considerably more compact, and is also able to recharge third-generation iPod nanos. USBfever has priced the PPS2 at $28.

The US Patent and Trademark Office today published several of Apple's patent approvals, all of which relate to different aspects of the iPhone's functionality. The first deals with organization of the iPhone's interface as to reduce the clutter of adding too many visual elements to a document. The patent seems to indicate the use of nested interface elements, such as clicking a button to summon a menu detailing operations that the user can perform.

The second patent demonstrates user input on the software keyboard and how the iPhone highlights the letter that was pressed, as well as how much time the button stays highlighted.

The third relates to gestures which can select, and consequently delete items using the touch screen. The process recognizes gestures to first edit the list, then select the item for deletion, and finally delete the item.

Rabu, 23 April 2008

With Motorolas prominent competitors such as Nokia, Samsung, and LG Electronics all turning up their noses at the idea of acquiring its ailing mobile handset operation, there appears to be growing interest among smaller Asian telecommunications companies about working with Motorola.

A Web site run by the Financial Times reported this week that unnamed Asian suppliers have been talking with Motorola about forging an alliance. Since Motorolas mobile devices unit lost $1.2 billion last year, Motorolas new CEO Greg Brown continues to predict more gloom and doom for the unit in the next few months.

The unit accounts for about $19 billion of Motorolas $36.62 billion in 2007 sales and will probably require a partner, or partners, with deep pockets to help bail it out. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who has been pressuring Motorola to sell various units for months, also is urging the company to sell the unit or enter into a beneficial financial partnership. Icahn and his investors own more than 6% of Motorolas shares.

Motorola has been talking for months with Chinas ZTE Corporation, which has ambitions to grow its mobile phone market share.

Investment banking analysts have expressed confidence that Brown, who has a telecom background, can fix the handset operation if he gets the time and money to do it. Outgoing CEO Ed Zander, who came from Sun Microsystems, had a computer background and never understood the finer points of the cell phone and telecom business.

Motorolas mobile phone freefall became evident last summer when Samsung pushed Motorola into a third place market-share ranking. Nokia has been in first place for years. Motorola has responded by introducing a brace of new handsets, installing a new management team, lowering inventory, and reducing its workforce. But so far, nothing has turned the tide.

See original article on InformationWeek.com
San Francisco - Texas Instruments, the worlds second-largest maker of chips for mobile phones, Monday lowered its guidance for the first quarter on slumping demand for chips in higher-end mobile phones, including 3G handsets.

"Very recently, we received what I would call a pretty significant downward revision in wireless customer demand," said Ron Slaymaker, a vice president at TI, in a conference call. The decline was concentrated in 3G handsets and base stations, he said, adding that demand for entry-level products in emerging markets has remained consistent with initial expectations at the beginning of the first quarter.

The company cut its revenue forecast for the first quarter to the low end of its original guidance, to a range of $3.21 billion to $3.35 billion compared to its original forecast of $3.27 billion to $3.55 billion. The company also lowered its earnings-per-share (EPS) forecast to a range of $0.41 to $0.45 per share, from $0.43 to $0.49.

Investment bank Credit Suisse had expected the company to revise its first quarter guidance to the midpoint of its earlier prediction, to earnings-per-share of around $0.46 on revenue of around $3.41 billion.

The companys first quarter ends March 31.

TI also dispelled some rumors of reduced demand for handsets in China, at least for mobile phones from major manufacturers. Slaymaker said TI has not seen lower demand from customers, which include Nokia and Motorola, but could not speak for smaller handset manufacturers in China.

The companys reduced forecast comes on the heels of a report by Gartner a day earlier calling for chipmakers to rein in production to control rising inventories. Global inventories of semiconductors, the building blocks of electronic devices, spiked in the fourth quarter due to lackluster fourth-quarter gadget sales and lower expectations for sales in the first quarter, Gartner said. The market researcher blamed fears of a U.S. recession for part of the reduction in demand.

Slaymaker indicated that TI would be able to maintain its gross margins in the quarter in part by cutting orders to contract chipmakers and maintaining its own factories at full production. Around half of the production of TIs high-end chip products is outsourced, he said, while the remainder is done in TI factories. The companys foundry partners include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Chinas Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC).
With Motorolas prominent competitors such as Nokia, Samsung, and LG Electronics all turning up their noses at the idea of acquiring its ailing mobile handset operation, there appears to be growing interest among smaller Asian telecommunications companies about working with Motorola.

A Web site run by the Financial Times reported this week that unnamed Asian suppliers have been talking with Motorola about forging an alliance. Since Motorolas mobile devices unit lost $1.2 billion last year, Motorolas new CEO Greg Brown continues to predict more gloom and doom for the unit in the next few months.

The unit accounts for about $19 billion of Motorolas $36.62 billion in 2007 sales and will probably require a partner, or partners, with deep pockets to help bail it out. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who has been pressuring Motorola to sell various units for months, also is urging the company to sell the unit or enter into a beneficial financial partnership. Icahn and his investors own more than 6% of Motorolas shares.

Motorola has been talking for months with Chinas ZTE Corporation, which has ambitions to grow its mobile phone market share.

Investment banking analysts have expressed confidence that Brown, who has a telecom background, can fix the handset operation if he gets the time and money to do it. Outgoing CEO Ed Zander, who came from Sun Microsystems, had a computer background and never understood the finer points of the cell phone and telecom business.

Motorolas mobile phone freefall became evident last summer when Samsung pushed Motorola into a third place market-share ranking. Nokia has been in first place for years. Motorola has responded by introducing a brace of new handsets, installing a new management team, lowering inventory, and reducing its workforce. But so far, nothing has turned the tide.

See original article on InformationWeek.com

Senin, 21 April 2008

Thousands of Cubans are enjoying their second day with a leading imperialist invention -- cell phones -- but they are finding that the lack of a free enterprise system translates into very high prices, so high even that a simple cell phone can cost six months salary.

With the health of longtime dictator Fidel Castro slipping, Raul Castro, his brother, is loosening the reins in the Caribbean country giving citizens the right to purchase and use DVDs and cell phones. The younger Castro, who took over from his ailing brother in February, also is moving to allow some Cubans to own their houses.

While ordinary Cubans were blocked from owning cell phones, a black market for the devices has thrived for years. Foreigners visited Cuba and left their GSM standard phones behind.

The coveted handsets are selling for nearly double the price the devices can be purchased for in the U.S. A service contract costs about $120 to activate, the Associated Press said. A barebones phone costs about $75 and a more advanced handset with a digital phone typically costs about $280. Calls to the U.S. are $2.70 a minute.

High ranking Cuban officials have been using cell phones since 1991 when the handsets made their first appearance in the Caribbean country.

For years, Fidel Castro, who took over Cuba around 1960, had fought authorizing the imperialistic devices, but his brother has loosened the grip on the country.

One longtime observer of Cuban society said the move toward legalizing cell phones was inevitable, because the mobile phones had been working their way into the island society anyway. "I think it is a sign that the black market was awash with those things for years and there is no way that they can be effectively policed," said Chris McGillion, a senior research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington in a statement. "So the Cuban authorities are, on the one hand, basically just bowing to the inevitable.

See original article on InformationWeek.com
Although it is illegal in some parts of the world, 12 percent of U.S. and U.K. respondents to an Accenture survey have logged on to someone elses unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

Data that is sent via unsecured wireless routers is unencrypted and could theoretically be read by anyone who had the right network sniffing tools, but many people have tried logging on to unsecure Wi-Fi.

Logging on to open Wi-Fi signals is most popular with 18- to 34-year-olds, Accenture said. Nearly a third of them said they had done this at some point.

The practice is apparently more common in the U.S., where one in seven have piggybacked on free Wi-Fi networks, than in the U.K., where Accenture found that it was attempted by one in 11.

In some parts of the world, Wi-Fi piggybacking is considered to be a form of criminal hacking. In August, police arrested a 39-year-old man for using his laptop to connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi connection as he sat on a garden wall in the London suburb of Chiswick. And in a case that was widely publicized in the U.S., Sam Peterson of Sparta, Michigan, was charged after using a cafes wireless connection to check his e-mail.

The Accenture study found that computer users are still engaging in some unsafe computing practices. Nearly half of all respondents said that they used the same password for all of their online accounts, and only a quarter of them have ever encrypted files on their computers.

Most computer users are sensitive to reports of identity theft, the study found, with about 25 percent of respondents saying that they would stop shopping at a retailer that had suffered a security breach. One-third said that they would continue to shop at the store, but would pay in cash rather than using credit or debit cards.

One other finding: People in the U.S. are more likely to keep their security software up-to-date than their U.K. counterparts. One in seven U.K. households never update security software. In the U.S., that ratio is 1-in-20.

Accentures survey was based on telephone interviews with 800 U.S. and U.K. residents.
LONDON (Reuters) - Mobile phone groups O2 and Carphone Warehouse (CPW.L) have cut the price for the most basic version of Apple Incs (AAPL.O) iPhone in Britain by 100 pounds (197) ahead of the expected launch of a new model.

The two groups said the 8 gigabyte phone would be available for 169 pounds until June 1, while the 16GB phone will remain priced at 329 pounds.

O2 said the offer would be available on the original iPhone tariffs which start at 35 pounds per month and the operator expects it to create additional momentum for O2s fastest selling device.

Some analysts have questioned whether sales could soften at the high end of the handset market, but Carphones Finance Director Roger Taylor told Reuters on Tuesday the company had not seen any signs of this.

While sales of the iPhone may have slowed since the initial launch, the announcement on the price cut is more likely to be linked to Apples expected launch later this quarter of a third-generation high-speed version of the iPhone.

Apple declined to comment on this. T-Mobile reduced the price for the smaller iPhone in Germany earlier this month.

"More and more this is starting to look like they want to clear stock of an older model, with a looming revision to the iPhone which will likely include 3G," CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood told Reuters.

"But also we think the iPhone has slowed down during the first quarter and we think this (a 3G launch) should give sales a bit of a lift."

Mobile operator O2, which is owned by Telefonica (TEF.MC), and retailer Carphone Warehouse secured the deal to sell the iPhone in Britain last year.

But both groups have since been reluctant to divulge any sales figures.

A spokeswoman for Apple said this was an "O2-led promotion" and the price would not change in its retail stores.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Paul Bolding)
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp, Chief Executive Dan Hesse promised on Tuesday to go ahead with plans to build a high-speed wireless network based on WiMax, but made no mention of any plans for a joint venture backed by cable companies in his keynote address at an industry convention.

Recent reports speculated that Hesse could use the keynote to announce a venture with Clearwire Corp that combines their WiMax assets, with funding from Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable Inc, Intel Corp and Google Inc.

Sprint and Clearwire have said they were in talks with each other on roaming agreements. Both have said separately they were looking for outside funding for WiMax.

"We expect to have at least a two year time to market advantage" over rival carriers, said Hesse, referring to Sprints previously announced plans to roll-out WiMax in three months. He spoke at the CTIA annual U.S. wireless show here.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
The British government should tax the sale of media players, a body of the UK music industry is advocating. The Music Business Group is said to have rejected a recent government proposal, which would see people legally able to transfer music from CDs to media players for free; while the practice is widespread and taken for granted by the public and companies like Apple, in the UK it is technically a violation of copyright. The MBG is said to have taken the same position as America's RIAA however, and called for a levy on sale of devices such as iPods.

"We acknowledge that consumers clearly want to format shift and also place enormous value on the transferability of music," reads an MBG statement. "Music fans clearly deserve legal clarity in this area as well as the freedom to enjoy any music they have legitimately obtained.

"But it is not only music lovers who benefit here. Enormous value is derived by those technology companies and manufacturers who enable consumers to copy. UK creators and rights owners are legally entitled to share in this value -- as they hold the exclusive right to reproduce their music -- but are currently excluded from the value chain."

The group's demands, according to The Guardian, are allowed under the European Union's Copyright Directive, which gives countries the room to ban private copying or only allow it with "fair compensation" to copyright holders. Many European countries issue levies on blank recording media.
San Francisco - Freescale Semiconductor has set a goal to turn a big mobile phone maker on to its handset chips this year, to further grab market share and offset the impact of Motorolas woes.

The chipmaker currently sells most of its handset chips to two companies, Motorola and Research in Motion (RIM). But Motorolas falling market share is hurting Freescale, as is the handset makers decision to use wireless chips from other suppliers.

"We have a big problem with our biggest customer. We have to make sure we help Motorola as much as we can to get over this hump," said Henri Richard, chief sales and marketing officer at Freescale, at a meeting with the press in Taipei.

The problem led to his setting a new goal for this year. "I plan to exit 2008 with one other major customer," said Richard. He specified the new customer would be in 3G handset chips.

One target for the company is Nokia, the worlds largest handset maker. Ever since Texas Instruments lowered its sales and net profit forecast for the first quarter due to trouble in wireless chips, analysts have speculated the company may have lost market share at Nokia, or that Nokia may face faltering handset sales.

"Thats a big one to win. It takes a lot of work," he said.

Mobile phone makers have been warming to Freescale ever since Motorola started sourcing handset chips from other chipmakers, he said. Handset makers used to worry that Motorola drove Freescales chip development decisions, but now that Motorola has multiple chip suppliers, that fear is dissipating.

Motorola slipped to third place in global handset market share last year, behind Samsung and top-rated Nokia, according to market researcher IDC. Motorola shipped 159 million mobile phones last year, a decline of nearly 27 percent compared to a year earlier. Samsungs shipments increased almost 42 percent year-over-year to 161.1 million, while Nokias grew 26 percent to 437.1 million.

Richard joined Freescale as chief sales and marketing officer late last year, after stepping down from the same position at microprocessor maker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). He said he was not worried about a change in corporate culture because AMD CEO Hector Ruiz used to head Motorolas chip division, which was spun off as Freescale.

"Ive noticed his influence here," Richard said.

Around 20 percent of Freescales sales are to wireless communications, including handsets and base stations, while 40 percent go to the auto industry. The company hopes to focus more on consumer electronics after its $110 million purchase of chip designer Sigmatel earlier this year. Sigmatel specialized in chips for digital music players, digital TVs, and printers.
VeriSign has raised the registration fee for domain names ending in .com and .net for the second time since the company took control of the top-level domains in 2006.

The security vendor said Thursday that the registry fee for .com would increase to $6.86 from $6.42, and the fee for .net would increase to $4.23 from $3.85. The increases are expected to take effect on Oct. 1, and are in line with VeriSigns agreement with ICANN, the U.S. organization in charge of managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses, the company said.

In justifying the increase, VeriSign said traffic volume continues to increase with the emergence of consumer-driven services, the soaring number of Web-connected wireless devices, and the proliferation of technologies and services using the Domain Name System. The company says it processes a peak of more than 33 billion DNS queries per day, under normal traffic conditions.

In addition, the .com and .net infrastructures are continually being fortified against more sophisticated cyberattacks, VeriSign said. The company is deploying new proprietary security upgrades and monitoring tools to identify, track, and isolate malicious Internet traffic.

VeriSign plans to increase the capacity of its global Internet infrastructure by 10 times its current level by the year 2010, and increase its daily DNS query capacity to more than 4 trillion from 400 billion today, the company said. VeriSign also plans to increase the network bandwidth of its primary resolution centers around the world to more than 200 Gbps second from 20 Gbps.

VeriSigns last increase took effect on Oct. 15. At that time, the registry fee for .com increased to $6.42 from $6, and the fee for .net rose to $3.85 from $3.50.

It was the first registry fee increase for the two domain names since ICANN put the fee structure in place in 1999. Nevertheless, the increases were criticized by some as being unjustified.

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Wireless Dynamics new memory card turns mobile handsets into an RFID reader, and can also be used to store RFID applications and data, the vendor said Wednesday.

The SDiD 1212 plugs into the Secure Digital (SD) slot built into many mobiles, and is the industrys first card with embedded 512 MB SD memory, according to Wireless Dynamics.

"By inserting the SDiD 1212 into the SD slot of a smartphone or PDA, the integrated device can be used for most low frequency RFID applications such as asset tracking, field services, work-flow control, logistics, pet and livestock animal identification," Wireless Dynamics said, in a statement. "RFID tag data transactions can be processed in real time through mobile connections such as Wi-Fi, CDMA, GSM/GPRS, or UMTS associated with the portable device."

More and more organizations are turning to RFID for a wide variety of requirements including Wal-Mart, Airbus, American Apparel, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The SDiD 1212 can query most RFID tag formats in the 125 kHz and 134.2 kHz frequency ranges, including TI TIRIS, NXP Hitag, Q5, EM4100 series, and ISO 11784/11785 half-duplex (HDX) and full-duplex (FDX). A software development kit is also available for running apps on PocketPC 2002/2003, Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 5.0, and Windows Mobile 6.0 operating systems, Wireless Dynamics said.

The card comes in three versions: the s512MB with "commercial grade" memory; the i512MB with "industrial grade" memory; and the SDiD 1210 with no memory at all. Pricing starts at $209 per unit, but is volume dependent.

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The use of touch screens on mobile phones is already soaring, and the introduction of a new line of small computing devices designed to connect people to the Internet is also fueling their use, a manufacturing executive said Thursday.

The touch screen market will grow to a value of US$3.1 billion this year from $2.78 billion last year, said Kevin Chuang, an executive at Swenc Technology, at a conference in Taipei.

Three trends are driving the market, starting with the iPhone craze, he said. But what really boosted volume handset sales was a chip developed by Taiwans MediaTek that made it easy for companies to put touch screens on handsets. MediaTeks main customers are in China, and the chips have been used in scores of handsets there, he said.

A new category of devices is also coming out that is increasing touch screen use, known variously as ultramobile PCs (UMPCs), mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and a growing list of names.

"Most people buying iPhones today are using them more for accessing Internet content than even for phone calls," he said. Thats a sign ultramobile PCs and the like will probably find a place in global markets.

Swenc Technology is a producer of touch screen components. Chuang was speaking at a DisplaySearch conference in Taipei.