Posts Tagged ‘Consumer



09
Jun
10

Steve Jobs has Wi-Fi woes

NEWS
Steve Jobs has Wi-Fi woes

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It was more iFail than iPhone at the launch of the latest iconic phone – with Apple’s boss walking offstage unable to pick up a wi-fi network for the sleek new device.

Launching the iPhone 4 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, CEO Steve Jobs apparently struggled because of audience wi-fi active devices.

‘We’re having a little problem here. I don’t know what is wrong with our networks,’ Mr Jobs said, as the huge projected image of his iPhone stayed resolutely blank.

Mr. Jobs admitted that the venue was known to be a wi-fi bad spot, before pleading for audience members to switch their devices off.

‘You know you can help me out if you are on wi-fi, you could just get off, I’d appreciate it,’ Jobs said to the crowd.

Having failed to show a website on the phone’s display as it sat alongside an existing iPhone model, Jobs attempted Plan B for the new phone.

‘We going to switch over to some backups here, I have a feeling we might have the same problem,’ he said.

After starting the backup, it gave an error message, ‘Could not activate cellular data network,’ to laughs from the crowd.

Mr. Jobs clicked the error message but another then appeared, ‘Could not open page’, to more laughs.
‘Well, jeez, i don’t like this,’ Mr. Jobs said.

Attempting to revert to the ‘primary’ phone he had been using, Mr. Jobs said: ‘I’m afraid I have a problem and I’m not going to be able to show you much today.’

Mr. Jobs then showed several photos on the high definition display of the new phone before a third attempt to access a network also failed.

‘Well, I’m sorry guys, I don’t know what is going on,’ Jobs said to some jeers from the audience.

Apple’s product unveilings are usually renowned for a lack of technical glitches, however Jobs had to resort to yelling to Scott Forstall, the vice president of iPhone software, for help.

‘Scott, you got any suggestions?’ Jobs pleaded.

Someone in the crowd then yelled out ‘Verizon’ – a dig at Apple for not offering the new phone through America’s biggest mobile service provider.

‘We’re going to hope things get fixed before my next demo here. Thanks,’ Mr Jobs said as he walked offstage.

Features of the new phone include two cameras with an inbuilt flash, wi-fi video conferencing facilities, uprated battery and motion-sensing gyroscope for game usage.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): Apple Inc.
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07
Jun
10

Apple Unveils iPhone 4 for $199, Available June 24th

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Apple Unveils iPhone 4 for $199, Available June 24th

Monday, June 7, 2010

Apple has unveiled a next-generation iPhone that features video chat, can shoot and edit high-definition quality video, and has a crisper resolution screen.

‘We are going to take the biggest leap since the original iPhone,’ Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said as he showed off the iPhone 4 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference here.

The iPhone 4 will go on sale on June 24 in Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States, and will cost $199 for the 16 gigabyte model and $299 for the 32GB version.

The touchscreen smartphone, which comes in black and white versions, will be available in 18 other countries in July and 24 more in August.

The iPhone 4 includes more than 100 new features including a front-facing video camera to allow for video-conferencing between iPhones, a better still camera, an improved battery and a screen with significantly higher resolution.

To demonstrate the video chat program, called FaceTime, Jobs, dressed in his trademark black turtleneck and blue jeans, called up Jonathan Ive, an Apple product designer, and held an iPhone-to-iPhone video conversation.

The iPhone 4 can also shoot and edit HD video. Randy Ubillos, Apple’s chief architect for video applications, displayed an iMovie for iPhone video editing program available from Apple’s App Store for $4.99.

Jobs touted the higher-resolution screen as a major leap forward. ‘There has never been a display like this on a phone,’ he said.

The 3.5-inch screen is the same size as on previous models, but features 326 pixels per square inch, four times more pixels than the earlier iPhones.

‘There is a magic number around 300 pixels per inch that is the limit of the human retina,’ Jobs said. ‘We are over that limit.

‘That’s going to set the standard for display for years to come.’

The improved battery life allows for 40 per cent more talk time, Jobs said, and the iPhone 4 – at 0.37 inch or three-eighths of an inch – is 24 percent thinner than the previous model, iPhone 3GS.

The iPhone 4, which runs on Apple’s A4 processor, features a five-megapixel camera, an improvement on the previous three-megapixel camera.

Users will also have the option to use Microsoft’s Bing as an internet search engine in addition to Google and Yahoo! Google remains the default search engine.

Jobs joked that some of the attendees at the conference may have seen the iPhone 4 previously ‘because there have been a few photos around’.

Technology blog Gizmodo obtained a prototype of the iPhone in April from a 21-year-old man who found it in a California beer garden, where it had been lost by an Apple software engineer, and published details of the device.

Apple launched the iPhone in 2007 and has sold more than 50 million as it battles Google’s Android platform, the Blackberry from Canada’s Research in Motion and others for the fast-growing market.

Before displaying the latest iPhone, Jobs said that more than five million digital books have been downloaded since Apple began selling its iPad tablet computer two months ago.

Jobs, who received a standing ovation as he walked on stage to address the more than 5200 software developers attending the conference, said the 8500 applications developed for the iPad have been downloaded more than 35 million times from Apple’s App Store.

Apple has sold more than two million iPads since it went on sale in the United States in early April and in nine other countries late last month.

Jobs said that 225,000 applications for the iPhone and the iPod Touch were currently available and that five billion applications had been downloaded from the App Store as of last week.

The new iPhone received positive reviews from analysts, although most of the features were known already because of the Gizmodo leak.

Altimeter’s Michael Gartenberg said Apple has ‘raised the bar once again by offering next year’s technology at last year’s prices’.

‘They are the first ones to make video chat easy and that will drive the sales,’ Gartenberg said.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said the iPhone 4 ‘keeps Apple ahead of the competition’ by ‘driving software and hardware innovation hand in hand’.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): Apple Inc.
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06
Jun
10

Steve Jobs to announce iPhone 4G on June 7

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Steve Jobs to announce iPhone 4G on June 7

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Apple’s secrecy about product launches is legendary but when Steve Jobs takes the stage on Monday the world may have already had a glimpse of what’s to come.

Jobs is to be the keynote speaker at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, an annual event during which the gadget maker reveals its latest must-have devices.

This year’s conference, which has attracted more than 5,000 developers of programs for Macintosh computers, the iPhone, the iPod and the iPad, carries less mystery than years past due to an Apple software engineer’s unfortunate evening in a California beer garden a little over two months ago.

The engineer, Robert ‘Gray’ Powell, lost a prototype of the next-generation iPhone while drinking at the Gourmet Haus Staudt near Apple headquarters and it ended up with a 21-year-old man who then sold it to technology blog Gizmodo.

According to Gizmodo, features of the new phone include a front-facing video camera for video conferencing and a better regular camera with a larger lens.
It reportedly has a flat back instead of curved back, is thinner than the previous model, the iPhone 3GS, and has a battery that is 16-percent larger.

Gizmodo, unsurprisingly, will not be in the audience when Jobs makes his keynote address at 10:00 am PDT on Monday. The technology blog said Apple has not responded to its requests to attend the June 7-11 WWDC.

Gartner analyst Van Baker said Gizmodo’s revelations about the next iPhone had taken some of the shine off the event.

‘I think the biggest challenge Apple’s going to face is coming up with enough exciting news to have this truly get the market’s attention,’ Baker said.

The front-facing video camera that will allow iPhone owners to have video chats with Macintosh computers or iPhone to iPhone ‘will probably be among the biggest news that we see,’ he said.

I think there’ll be some additional reveals on OS 4.0 (the latest iPhone operating system),’ Baker added.
‘We might see a new iPod Touch,’ the Gartner analyst told AFP. ‘Beyond that, I’m not sure because the iPad’s new and the MacBook line – both the MacBook and the MacBook Pro – just had a significant refresh.

‘So I’m not sure what else to expect from them other than OS4 announcements and a reveal of the new iPhone,’ he said.

Baker said he did not expect the new iPhone to be ‘exactly’ what Gizmodo displayed but there would probably not be substantive differences.

‘I’m sure they had variants of the design floating around and likely made the decision of which ones to manufacture within the last month or so,’ he said.

Kathryn Huberty of Morgan Stanley said Apple may announce a price cut for the iPhone. A $50 drop in price could result in a 40-percent increase in demand, she estimated.
U.S. wireless carrier AT&T sells the latest iPhone for $199 and a year ago Apple slashed the price for its earliest model to $99.

Independent technology analyst Carmi Levy said the Gizmodo leak ‘took some of the surprise out of the event’ but called it a ‘momentary diversion.’

In any case, Apple, which has sold more than 50 million iPhones in three years, has taken an approach of ‘evolution and not revolution’ when it comes to the touchscreen smartphone, Levy said.

‘When upgrading its iPhone hardware, Apple’s goal is never to hit it out of the park,’ he said. ‘Rather, the company’s intent is to move the bar far enough to maintain its market-dominant position.

‘To ensure it has enough new-feature gas in the tank for next year, it never gives customers everything they’ve asked for in any given year,’ he said.

‘Instead, it includes just enough new features to keep the faithful faithful for another year. It’s the ultimate form of controlled marketing, and Apple does it better than virtually any company on the planet.’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): Apple Inc. & Gizmodo / Gawker Media
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01
Jun
10

Apple shifts two million iPads in less than two months

NEWS
Apple shifts two million iPads in less than two months

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sales of the Apple iPad have passed two million since its launch almost two months ago.

The Cupertino, California, company began selling the iPad last Friday in Asia, Australia and Europe. The iPad was released in the United States on April 3.

The company does not publicly break out sales figures by region, according to Natalie Harrison, an Apple spokeswoman.

The company previously had said it sold one million iPads in the United States just 28 days after its launch. As a result of the strong demand at home, Apple had pushed back the start date of its international sales.
The iPad can be used to send emails, draw pictures and play games. It can also be used as an electronic reader. The basic model costs $499 in the United States, not including extras.

This past weekend, Apple began selling iPads in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Prices for the cheapest, WiFi-only version range from $499 in the United States to the equivalent of $620 in Britain for the entry-level 16 GB model. Canada ($520), Japan ($536) and Australia ($533) rounded out the price basement countries.

At the top end, an iPad 64 GB model with WiFi and 3G connectivity cost $829 in the United States against $1,010 in Britain and $980 in Germany, France and Italy.

The company said the device will be available in nine more countries in July and additional countries later this year.
• Source(s): Apple Inc.
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29
May
10

Apple’s iPad makes global debut

NEWS
Apple’s iPad makes global debut

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thousands of die-hard Apple fans mobbed shops worldwide on Friday as the iPad, called a revolution in personal computing by some and limited and overhyped by others, began its global launch.

Long queues of customers snaked outside Apple shops in Australia and Japan hours before the opening and similar huddled masses turned out at stores in six European countries, including Britain and France.

The iPad – a flat, 9.7 inches black tablet – also went on sale in Canada as part of a global rollout that was pushed back by a month due to huge demand in the United States.

One million iPads were sold in 28 days in the United States after the product’s debut in early April despite mixed reviews from consumers.

The product is the latest from Apple, which dethroned software giant Microsoft this week as the largest U.S. technology company in terms of market value, to create a frenzy.

At Apple’s flagship store in Paris, set in the prestigious mall beneath the Louvre museum, 24-year-old engineer Audrey Sobgou beamed as she walked away with one of the prized tablets.

Sobgou travelled 127 miles from her hometown in Lille, northern France, and waited nearly two hours before stepping inside the busy Apple store.

‘I’m not a victim of hype,’ she insisted. ‘I know Apple products and it’s about the quality, the interface, how it’s designed and what it can do. With elegance and style.’

Hundreds of people queued outside the Paris Apple store hours before it opened.

In Britain, a few dozen enthusiasts waited outside the Apple store in central London at 3am to get their hands on the iPad when it opened five hours later.

Staff escorted the first group of customers one by one up to buy their iPad after they opened the doors, whooping, chanting and cheering.

‘I queued overnight for about 20 hours since midday yesterday but it was very, very worth it,’ Jake Lee, a 17-year-old student from Essex, told AFP, clutching his treasured iPad.

The iPad also went on sale in Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland and will be followed in July by a launch in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Alejandro Barras, manager of the Apple store in downtown Madrid, said his iPad stock sold out one hour after opening.

Apple aficionados in Zurich camped out overnight in front of the store to buy the tablet and download some of the 5000 available apps – the media applications that run on the device.

In Montreal, an 82-year-old man with a long white beard and a beret stood in line with about 100 people, some of whom arrived at the Apple store at 6am.

‘I’m not a fan of gadgets,’ Jean-Maurice Demers told AFP. ‘But I’m involved in several political committees and community groups and I’m tired of dragging around several kilograms of files.’

Prices in Japan and Australia for the basic 16GB iPad are comparable to US prices, although a significant markup by Apple in Britain and continental Europe has triggered grumbling.

In France, wi-fi models sell for between 499 and 699 euros ($613 and $860), with the 3G models going for between 599 and 799 euros ($736 and $982) .

The multi-functional device is tipped by some pundits to revitalise media and publishing, with many major newspapers and broadcasters launching applications.

As well as the five other European countries, Apple plans to bring the iPad to Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

Apple has declined to reveal the number of pre-orders received for the iPad internationally, but Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky put it at around 600,000.

The iPad has officially gone on sale in Australia, with hundreds of tech lovers snapping up the touchscreen tablet device within minutes of it being released in Sydney.

Over 200 Apple fans braved the chilly Sydney weather overnight to be the first to get their hands on the new technology when the George Street store opened its doors at 08:00 am (AEST) on Friday.

Rahul Koduri, who had been in the line since 02:00 am (AEST) on Thursday, succeeded in his dream of being the first in Australia to purchase the iPad.

The 22-year-old Blacktown resident, who snapped up two iPads, was delighted.

‘It’s fantastic, it was so worth the wait,’ he said, holding up his two shiny iPad boxes.

‘One of these is for me, of course, and the other is for a family member.’

• Source(s): Apple Inc. and Independent Television News (ITN)
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28
May
10

Sony to challenge Apple in Japan with e-reader

NEWS
Sony to challenge Apple in Japan with e-reader

Friday, May 28, 2010

••• A group of four companies including Sony Corp. has announced the launch of a new firm to facilitate the distribution of digital content for the emerging e-reader market, including Sony’s Reader.

The four companies – Sony, Toppan Printing Co., KDDI Corp. and Asahi Shimbun Co. – jointly announced on Thursday that they are setting up a new company to provide a common base for e-publishing by facilitating the digitization, distribution and promotion of newspaper and other publication content.

“We’d like to provide an opportunity for users to easily access e-publications whenever and wherever they’d like, while establishing a platform where publishers can provide their content with ease,” said a representative of the four companies.

The four firms will jointly form a planning company on July 1, which will be turned into a business corporation by the end of the year for the launch of the new service.

The move has already gained support from a number of major publishers, including Kodansha, Shogakukan, Shueisha and Bungei Shunju – all members of the recently established Electronic Book Publishers Association of Japan (EBPAJ). With the new partnership aiming to launch multiple online bookstores, it aspires to seek support from other publishers as well.

Each of the four founding companies will hold 25 percent shares in the new firm, which will be capitalized at 30 million yen. The location of its headquarters has yet to be decided.

Sony, which will release its e-ink-based Reader in Japan later this year, is a “returner” to the country’s e-book market. Though it had attempted to break into the e-book business as early as 1990, a lack of e-book content eventually forced the company to pull out in Japan.

“Things have evolved since then, with completely different content offerings and devices. The time is now ripe,” Sony Electronics Senior Vice President Fujio Noguchi said during a press conference on Thursday.

Regarding Apple Inc.’s release of the iPad tablet computer to the domestic market on Friday, Noguchi said, “I don’t think we got a late start.”

Meanwhile, KDDI will also develop its own e-reader device.

“The market will see a variety of e-reader devices popping up, but they cannot do without 3G cellular connections. We have an advantage in making a foray into the market,” said a KDDI representative.
• Source(s): Sony Corporation (ソニー株式会社)
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27
May
10

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces new privacy tools

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces new privacy tools
Your privacy is important to us!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Facebook on Wednesday overhauled its privacy controls to fend off mounting criticism that it is betraying the trust that has made it the world’s biggest online social-networking service.

‘It’s been a pretty intense few weeks for us, listening to all the feedback coming in from all the changes we’ve made,’ Facebook’s 26-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg said as he unveiled simplified privacy controls.

‘Our teams internally have been cranking for the last couple of weeks.’

Facebook unveiled a redesigned privacy settings page to provide a single control for content and ‘significantly reduce’ the amount of information that is always visible to everyone.

Facebook also said it is giving users more control over how outside applications or websites access information at the service.

‘This is a pretty big overhaul to the system we already have,’ Zuckerberg said while outlining the changes during a press briefing at the social network’s headquarters in the California city of Palo Alto.

‘Now we are making it so there is less information that has to be public. People want a simple way to control the way information is shared with third parties, so that is what we are doing.’

The revamped privacy controls will roll out in the coming days, according to Zuckerberg.

Facebook last month sparked criticism from U.S. privacy and consumer groups, U.S. lawmakers and the European Union by adding the ability for partner websites to incorporate data regarding members of the social-networking service.

Zuckerberg was adamant that Facebook does not give advertisers access to members’ personal information.
• Source(s): Facebook Inc.
Facebook Blog
Privacy Settings
Mark Zuckerberg on ‘Making Control Simple’

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27
May
10

Apple iPad makes international debut

NEWS
Apple iPad makes international debut

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Apple’s iPad finally goes on sale outside the United States this week after heavy U.S. demand for the multi-media gadget forced a one-month delay of its international release.

The touchscreen tablet device from the maker of the Macintosh computer, the iPod and the iPhone will be available on Friday in stores in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.

The Cupertino, California-based Apple plans to bring the iPad to Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

The company co-founded by Steve Jobs had planned to begin selling the iPad internationally in late April but was forced to delay the global debut of the device because of what it said was ‘surprisingly strong U.S. demand.’

Apple said earlier this month that it sold one million iPads in the first 28 days it was available in the United States, less than half the time it took for the company to sell the same number of iPhones.

More than 5000 applications have been developed for the iPad, according to an Apple spokesman, in addition to the 200,000 programs already available for the iPhone or the iPod Touch, most of which run on the iPad.

A Wi-Fi version of the iPad, which allows users to watch video, listen to music, play games, surf the web or read electronic books, went on sale in the United States on April 3 for $499.

A more expensive model featuring both Wi-Fi and 3G cellular connectivity appeared on U.S. store shelves on April 30 for $829.

Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky estimated that Apple is selling over 200,000 iPads a week — more than its estimated Macintosh sales of 110,000 a week and its estimated iPhone 3GS sales of 246,000 a week.

Apple has declined to reveal the number of pre-orders received for the iPad internationally but Abramsky put it at around 600,000.

The U.S. sales figures indicate the iPad is a hit but success did not appear guaranteed when Apple’s Jobs unveiled the device at a high-profile media event in San Francisco in January.

‘There were plenty of questions before the iPad launch and quite a mixed reaction to it when it was released,’ said Gartner analyst Charles Smulders.

Critics derided it as a ‘big iPhone’ without a phone or a camera and bemoaned its inability to play Adobe’s popular Flash video software.

But the iPad appears to have won over the public with a hip advertising campaign and curious consumers can be seen lining up daily to play with tethered models of the device on display at Apple stores around the country.

‘Aside from the design, a key to its success has been getting the product into the hands of consumers,’ Smulders said.

‘With a new category of product like this it is difficult to understand its value unless you try it.

‘Apple has done a great job seeding the market.’

Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital said he sees potential for the iPad beyond the consumer market.

‘Even corporations are piloting the device at a pace that surprises us,’ Reitzes said. ‘At the very least we believe the device can tap into the corporate market as a ‘log in’ device that accesses the network.

‘Many of our clients are increasingly using, or intend to use, the device as a reader for research as well,’ he said.

With success comes competition and imitation.

U.S. computer giant Dell plans to begin selling its own tablet computer, the “Streak,” which has a five-inch (12.5 cm) screen compared with the iPad’s 9.7 inches (24.6 cm), in Britain in June and in the United States later in the summer.

And another U.S. computer giant, Hewlett-Packard, recently announced plans to acquire struggling U.S. mobile phone maker Palm and is expected to use its WebOS operating system to develop a tablet computer of its own.
• Source(s): Apple Inc.

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22
May
10

Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

NEWS
Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Facebook on Saturday said it plans to simplify privacy controls at the popular social-networking service to appease critics.

‘We’ve spent the last couple of weeks listening to users and consulting with experts in California; Washington, DC, and around the world,’ Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in response to an AFP inquiry.

‘The messages we’ve received are pretty clear. Users appreciate having precise and comprehensive controls, but want them to be simpler and easier to use.’

Facebook contended that members like new programs rolled out at the California-based internet hotspot but want easy ways to opt out of sharing personal information with third-party applications or websites.

‘We’re listening to this input and incorporating it into innovations we hope to announce shortly,’ Noyes said.

Facebook has been under fire from U.S. privacy and consumer groups, U.S. lawmakers and the European Union over new features that critics claim compromise the privacy of its more than 400 million members.

The features introduced last month include the ability for partner websites to incorporate Facebook data, a move that would further expand the social network’s presence on the internet.
Four U.S. senators, in a letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, said they were worried that personal information about Facebook users is being made available to third party websites.

The senators also expressed concerns that ‘Facebook now obligates users to make publicly available certain parts of their profile that were previously private’.

Sharing personal information should be an ‘opt-in’ procedure in which a user specifically gives permission for data to be shared, privacy advocates argue.

Coming Facebook refinements are not expected to include a shift to an opt-in model.

Facebook vice president of global communications Elliot Schrage has been adamant that online privacy is taken very seriously at the company.

‘These new products and features are designed to enhance personalisation and promote social activity across the internet while continuing to give users unprecedented control over what information they share, when they want to share it, and with whom,’ Schrage said.

MySpace on May 17 announced plans to simplify its privacy settings as it seeks to differentiate itself from social network rival Facebook, which has eclipsed the News Corp-owned social networking service.

‘The last few weeks have been fraught with discussion around user privacy on social networks,’ MySpace co-president Mike Jones said in a blog post without directly mentioning Facebook by name.

‘While MySpace at its core is about discovery, self expression and sharing, we understand people might want the option of limiting the sharing of their information to a select group of friends,’ Jones said.
Jones said MySpace, which was bought by News Corp. in 2005 for $580 million, is ‘planning the launch of a simplified privacy setting for our user profiles.

‘While we’ve had these plans in the works for some time, given the recent outcry over privacy concerns in the media, we felt it was important to unveil those plans to our users now,’ he said.
• Source(s): Facebook Inc. and MySpace / Digital Media Group / News Corporation
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15
May
10

Google Data Admission Angers Europe

NEWS
Google Data Admission Angers Europe

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Germany’s Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner has sharply criticized Google for inadvertently collecting personal data.

“According to the information available to us so far, Google has for years penetrated private networks, apparently illegally,” Aigner said in a statement on Saturday.

The “alarming incident” showed that Google still lacks understanding for the need for privacy, according to the statement.

Privacy breach

Google’s fleet of Street View cars, photographing streets for its online map program, has been collecting more data than previously thought. After reviewing a system in the cars that recorded names and addresses of wireless networks detected along the routes, Google revealed that a programming error had led to small amounts of personal data to be collected from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

“It’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open Wi-Fi networks,” Google’s head of engineering Alan Eustace said in a blog posting.

The blog post did not specify what kinds of personal data had been collected but indicated it could be things such as email and web browsing history. However, since the data had been collected by moving vehicles, only fragments of information were recorded. Google regretted its mistake and would look for a way to destroy the personal data.

“Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case we fell short,” said Eustace in the blog post.

Google reviewed its data collection methods in response to an inquiry from the Data Protection Authority in Hamburg.

The Google Street View service allows users to “walk” along panoramic street views in many countries, using images recorded by specially-outfitted cars. The fleet of cars around the world has been halted for the time being as Google attempts to fix the glitch.

The Street View project is controversial in Germany due to privacy concerns.
• Source(s): Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and Google Inc.
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11
May
10

Toyota logs $1.60 billion 2009 profit despite recall woes

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Toyota logs $1.60 billion 2009 profit despite recall woes

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

••• Despite massive recalls that dented its safety image, Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it logged a $1.60 billion group operating profit for the business year that ended in March, reversing the $4.99 billion loss recorded a year earlier.

It posted $2.27 billion in group net profit, compared with a loss of $4.73 billion in the 2008 business year, when the global financial crisis hit and car sales in the United States and Europe tanked. Group sales slipped 7.7 percent to $205.56 billion from $221.79 billion.

The steep rebound in profit – the first in two years – comes mostly as a result of cost-cutting efforts.

The safety woes mainly affected sales in the United States and Europe, but incentives in some regions helped shore up sales, limiting the fall in revenue.

“It was a year of being constantly on alert due to the series of recall matters, which caused concerns,” President Akio Toyoda said. “The severe conditions will likely continue, but I believe there is light far away amid the storm.”

Toyota now expects profits to grow in the current business year to next March. It forecasts a $3.03 billion group operating profit and $3.35 billion net profit on $205.56 billion in sales.

The company said it will focus on next-generation environmentally friendly cars by improving technology for hybrids and expanding its lineup. Also, it will gear up sales in fast-growing economies, particularly China and India.

Profit for the last business year mainly came from production cost cuts amounting to $5.63 billion, as well as $5.08 billion worth of reductions in fixed daily costs, including for labor, research and development, the company said.

Toyota said costs linked to its spate of worldwide recalls – $1.84 billion to $1.95 billion for the business year – were within expectations.

But concerns about potential massive recalls over accelerator defects continue.

The earnings results came a day after U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hinted at a news conference at Toyota’s headquarters in Aichi Prefecture that more fines could be imposed if needed.

Last month, Toyota agreed to pay a record $16.4 million U.S. government fine for delaying a January recall over defective accelerator pedals.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement issued Monday in Washington that it has opened an investigation into whether Toyota in 2005 notified the agency of a steering relay rod safety defect within five business days of learning of the defect’s existence, as required by law.

“We will fully cooperate with the investigation,” Toyoda said at the news conference.
• Source(s): Toyota Motor Corp.
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03
May
10

United Airlines and Continental merge to create world’s biggest operator

NEWS
United Airlines and Continental merge to create world’s biggest operator

Monday, May 03, 2010

••• Directors at Continental and United airlines have approved a deal that would combine them into the world’s largest airline, a source said.

The stock-swap deal values Continental at about $3.2 billion.

The Sunday board actions were described by a person with knowledge of the votes, who declined to be identified because the companies plan an announcement on Monday.

Combining Continental and United would leave the US with three big international airlines – the new United, Delta, and American. U.S. Airways Group Inc also flies internationally, but its 2009 international traffic was less than one-third the size of American’s.

The combined airline will be called United, based in United’s hometown of Chicago, and run by Continental CEO Jeffery Smisek. United CEO Glenn Tilton will be chairman.

United, a unit of UAL Corp, is the nation’s third-largest carrier by traffic. Continental Airlines Inc, in Houston, is the country’s fourth biggest.

Any deal would need the approval of antitrust regulators. The Justice Department approved Delta Air Lines Inc’s purchase of Northwest in 2008, which turned Delta into the world’s biggest carrier.

Another key issue in putting the two airlines together will be integrating the pilot workforce.

A union hot line message to United pilots on Sunday said the ‘union remains engaged in this issue, and if a merger is announced by United and Continental’, union officials ‘are fully prepared to protect and defend the interests of all United pilots’.

Continental and United both trace their roots to air services founded by Walter Varney in the 1920s and 30s.

One of United’s main attractions is its Pacific routes, which it bought from Pan-Am in 1985. It was already the biggest carrier in the U.S., and the Pan-Am deal made it a major international carrier for the first time. Northwest’s Pacific routes were one reason Delta pursued that deal two years ago.

Continental jumped in size in 1987 by swallowing Frontier, People Express and New York Air.

Both airlines shrank to cope with the recession. United cut capacity 7.4 percent last year, and Continental shrank 5.2 percent.

And they’ve both been losing money. Continental reported a 2009 loss of $282 million as revenue plunged 17.4 percent to $12.59 billion. UAL lost $651 million for the year as revenue fell 19.1 percent to $16.34 billion.

The market capitalisation for UAL Corp on Friday was $3.62 billion, while Continental’s was $3.12 billion.

Just two years ago, American Airlines was the nation’s biggest carrier. First Delta surpassed it, and now United might. More than pride is at stake. Corporate travellers gravitate toward airlines with the most routes.

On April 8, when there was talk that United and U.S. Airways were discussing a deal, American CEO Gerard Arpey said the company was ‘not in any way threatened’ by the merger talk involving other carriers.

‘We think we’re in a very good position irrespective of what may happen,’ he said at the time.

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30
Apr
10

Samsung Electronics posts record Q1, says optimistic on Q2

NEWS
Samsung Electronics posts record Q1, says optimistic on Q2

Friday, April 30, 2010

Samsung Electronics says net profit has surged in the first quarter of this year amid higher sales.

The company said on Friday that it earned 3.99 trillion won ($3.58 billion) in the three months ended March 31. It had net profit of 580 billion won ($520.26 million) the year before.

Samsung said sales in the first quarter totalled 34.64 trillion won ($31.07 billion). That was 20.8 percent higher than the 28.67 trillion won ($25.72 billion) reported a year earlier.

Samsung is the world’s largest manufacturer of computer memory chips, flat screen televisions and liquid crystal displays. It ranks No.2 in mobile phones behind Finland’s Nokia Corp.

Samsung Electronics said yesterday that it plans to significantly increase its investment in both chips and flat-screens in 2010, giving a bullish outlook for the remainder of this year.

Samsung posted a historic high operating profit of 4.41 trillion won ($3.9 billion) in the first quarter, mainly driven by the stellar performance of its chip business, which reported 1.96 trillion won in operating profits. Its operating profits are slightly higher than its earlier forecast of 4.3 trillion won ($3.88 million). Samsung’s first-quarter sales reached 3.99 trillion won, compared with its guidance of 34 trillion won.

Samsung expected its earnings to further improve in the second quarter, and said it was “cautiously optimistic” about the second half as well, expecting strong demand for memory and LCDs, and a sales increase for handsets and TVs.

Samsung is the world’s top maker of memory chips, LCD panels and LCD TVs, and the No. 2 handset vendor.

“In order to address the increased demand in the market, we are planning to substantially increase the capital expenditure from the initial guidance, which was 5.5 trillion ($4.93 billion) for memory and 3 trillion ($2.69 billion) for LCDs,” Robert Yi, Samsung’s head of investor relations, said at an earnings conference call yesterday.

Media and analysts have speculated that Samsung may expand its chip investment to more than 7.5 trillion won ($6.73 billion) and its LCD spending to 4.5 trillion won ($4.04 billion) this year.

As for the memory market, Samsung expected supply and demand to remain tight for both DRAM and NAND in the current quarter, saying that a supply increase may not be enough to catch up with robust demand.

However, Samsung’s LCD division posted a lower-than-expected operating profit of 490 billion won ($439.53 million), ceding its top position in terms of profitability to its rival LG Display. LG, the world’s No. 2 LCD maker by sales, reported first-quarter operating profit of 789.4 billion won ($708.09 million), which beat market forecasts.

Samsung said the fall was mainly caused by depreciation costs, and expected an improved profit in the current quarter.

Samsung faces an increasing threat from LG Display, which seeks to catch up not only in profit but sales, with aggressive investment plans. To cope with the challenge, Samsung may spend an additional 1.5 trillion won ($1.35 billion) in expanding its eighth-generation LCD line, on top of the already earmarked 3 trillion won ($2.69 billion), market watchers say.

Yi said that a revision of its investment may be announced before the second-quarter earnings results will be announced in July.

Samsung’s mobile operating profit beat expectations, reaching 1.1 trillion won ($986.7 million). Samsung’s telecommunications division, which includes its handset business, posted a 12 percent operating profit margin, which Samsung ascribed to a reduction in marketing costs and strong sales of mid-end and high-end devices, especially touchscreen phones and messaging phones. Samsung expects a double-digit operating margin for its handset business this year, according to Yi.

A Samsung executive also said during the conference call that the company aims to achieve handset sales that would exceed its initial target of 270 million units this year. Samsung also expected that Android phones would account for more than half of its smartphones this year, while models based on its proprietary Bada platform will make up one third of its total smartphone models.
Yi said Samsung was developing a tablet-like PC which would challenge Apple’s iPad, and said the new model would hit the market after the first half of this year.

Samsung’s Digital Media division, which includes its TV business, saw its operating profit increase 11 percent to 520 billion won ($466.44 million) this year. Its TV sales reached a record high of 8.4 million units in the January to March period, up by nearly 50 percent from a year ago, driven by the growth of shipments to both advanced and developing markets, the company said.

Samsung shares jumped 2.9 percent at yesterday’s close, while the broader market rose 0.8 percent.

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30
Apr
10

Microsoft sidelines ‘Courier’ tablet project

NEWS
Microsoft sidelines ‘Courier’ tablet project

Friday, April 30, 2010

Microsoft has sidelined a ‘Courier’ project said to be focused on building a twin-screen tablet computer that could be used for entertainment and work.

‘At any given time, across any of our business groups, there are new ideas being investigated, tested, and incubated,’ Microsoft spokesman Frank X. Shaw (Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications) said in a message posted on Thursday on the U.S. software giant’s blog.

‘The Courier project is an example of this type of effort and its technologies will be evaluated for use in future Microsoft offerings.’

Microsoft has kept details of the project secret, declining to confirm or deny what it is about.

Leaked reports of the table described it as opening like a book to reveal two screens operated by touch.

Shaw said he posted his brief comments in response to ‘a tonne of speculation’ about Courier.

A Microsoft tablet computer was expected to debut in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, which features the debuts of many of the tech-world’s latest devices.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer instead touted a Hewlett-Packard tablet computer during his on-stage presentation.

Industry insiders were expecting Courier to rival Apple’s freshly-launched iPad tablet computer.

The Wi-Fi-only model of the latest device from the maker of the Macintosh computer, the iPod and the iPhone went on sale in the United States on April 3.

The company sold over 500,000 iPads the first week.

Apple promised that its iPad models featuring 3G cellular connectivity will hit U.S. stores on Friday.

Apple has said that heavy US demand has forced it to delay the international release of the iPad by a month, until late May.

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29
Apr
10

Google ranked world’s most valuable brand

NEWS
Google ranked world’s most valuable brand

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Google was crowned the world’s most valuable brand on Wednesday by a research firm that found technology firms dominate when it comes to how much a name is worth in today’s markets.

Google, IBM, Apple and Microsoft topped global stalwarts Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Marlboro in a Top Ten brand value list packed with seven technology companies.

Google’s brand was worth more than $114 billion, a 14 percent climb from 2009, according to the annual Millward Brown Optimor ‘BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands’ report.
U.S. technology titan IBM saw its ‘brand value’ surge 30 percent to $86 billion while the worth of Apple’s name climbed 32 percent to $83 billion, according to the report.

Factors taken into consideration in the ranking include customer loyalty and opinions regarding brands and how they influence earnings.

Microsoft ranked fourth with its brand valued at slightly more than $76 billion, just ahead of the nearly $68 billion that Coca-Cola’s brand was said to be worth.

China Mobile, General Electric, and Vodafone claimed the eighth through tenth spots respectively.

Social-networking powerhouse Facebook made it onto a separate Top Twenty technology brands list for the first time with its company name value at $5.5 billion.

Electronics powerhouse Samsung saw the largest jump in brand value, soaring 80 percent from the previous year to $11.3 billion.

‘Technology brands demonstrated their pervasiveness in our daily lives,’ Millward Brown said in a release. ‘Use of social media was a key trend across many of the successful brands.’

The overall value of the Top 100 brands rose four per cent to more than two trillion dollars, according to Millward Brown, which specialises in advertising, marketing communications, media and brand equity research.

‘This ranking has elevated the importance of building brands among some of the world’s most successful companies,’ said Millward Brown global chief executive Eileen Campbell.

‘CEOs and CFOs around the world should be asking their brand and marketing teams how they can leverage brand to both protect and grow the business.’

An investor who put their money into a Brandz portfolio five years ago would have earned a double-digit return as opposed to losing cash with a set of stocks based on the SP 500 index, according to Millward Brown.

‘In the past, many companies were quick to cut their marketing spend during a down economy,’ said Joanna Seddon, head of Millward Brown Optimor.

‘A new trend has emerged in the wake of the recession as more companies realised the importance of maintaining and even increasing budgets to support brand loyalty and engagement.’
• Source(s): Millward Brown
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28
Apr
10

Toyota Recalls 50,000 Sequoia SUVs

NEWS
Toyota Recalls 50,000 Sequoia SUVs

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

••• Toyota Motor Corp will recall about 50,000 2003-year Sequoia sport utility vehicles in the United States and Canada to fix a problem in their vehicle stability control system, the company’s U.S. sales unit said Wednesday. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. said the recall will be conducted to adjust the VSC system, which is designed to control a loss of traction in turns as a result of front or rear tire slippage during cornering.

Without the adjustment, the VSC system could activate at low speed for a few seconds after acceleration from a stopped position, Toyota said. As a result, the vehicle may not accelerate as quickly as the driver expects, the company said, adding there have been no reported injuries or accidents as a result of this condition.

Detailed information and answers to questions are available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and at the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.
» See: Toyota Announces Voluntary Recall on 2003 Model-Year Sequoia to Upgrade Program Logic in Vehicle Stability Control System

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27
Apr
10

Ford Recalling 33,000 Vehicles Over Front Seat Defects

NEWS
Ford Recalling 33,000 Vehicles Over Front Seat Defects

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

••• Ford is recalling 33,256 cars to make their front seats comply with federal safety standards, according to a notice on the U.S. transportation department’s Office of Defects Investigation website.

Models affected include the 2010 Fusion (above), Explorer, Explorer SportTrac and Mercury Mountaineer and Milan vehicles made between Dec. 15, 2009, and Feb. 3, 2010, and equipped with manual front-seat recliners.

According to the safety agency, “The recliner gear plate teeth may be out of dimension specification, which could result in limited pawl to gear plate tooth engagement.”

“In the event of a crash,” the department said, “the seatback and head restraint may move rearward, increasing the risk of injury.”

A Ford spokesman told the Associated Press that no accidents or injuries have been reported due to the issue.

Dealers are expected to begin remedying the issue for free on or before April 30. If you own one of these cars and want additional information, Ford has a help line set up at 866-436-7332.

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27
Apr
10

NHTSA Announces Recall on 2010 Porsche Panamera

NEWS
NHTSA Announces Recall on 2010 Porsche Panamera

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

••• Porsche is recalling models of its new Panamera four-door sports car due to an issue that can cause the front seat belts to not work, according to a notice by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall affects 3,176 Panamera S, 4S and Turbo sedans, all from model-year 2010.

According to NHTSA, “If the front seats are adjusted towards an extreme position, resulting in unfavorable tolerance of the mating components, it is possible that the function of the locking mechanism of the seat belt mount can no longer be guaranteed. The seat belt mount could detach from the anchoring system when the seat belt is fastened or opened.”

In the event of a crash, the seat belts “may not provide adequate protection for the seat occupant,” the notice said.


To remedy the situation, Porsche dealers will for free install an additional locking device in both front seats. Porsche has not said when owners would start to receive notice with further instructions, but if you own one of these cars and are concerned, you can call the German automaker’s hot line at 800-545-8039.

» See The NHTSA Porxche Panamera Recall Notice

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24
Apr
10

Recalls? Toyota Still Showing Profit

NEWS
Recalls? Toyota Still Showing Profit

Saturday, April 24, 2010

••• Results from Toyota Motor to be released next month are expected to show the auto giant returning to profit in the year to March, despite a massive recall scandal, news reports say.

The Japanese automaker is expected to post a group operating profit of up to 50 billion yen ($531.75 million), reversing a 461 billion yen ($4.90 billion) operating loss for the previous year, the Nikkei business daily said on Saturday.

The uptick is mainly due to cost-cutting and a weak yen, which offset the costs of the global recalls, the daily said.

The company has recalled around 10 million vehicles worldwide since late last year due to accelerator and brake defects, but nevertheless expected to see a ‘good earnings situation’ a Toyota executive told Kyodo News.

Toyota had earlier forecast an operating loss of 20 billion yen ($212.7 million) for the year to the end of March.

Sales were expected to show a five percent fall to 7.2 million units, Nikkei said. The better-than-expected sales were partially due to strong demand for its new Prius hybrid car in Japan.

A Toyota spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the report.

The firm is due to announce its earnings results in early May.

On Monday the company agreed to pay a $16.4 million fine, the largest for an automaker in the United States, for hiding for at least four months accelerator pedal defects blamed in more than 50 U.S. deaths.

Toyota faces at least 97 U.S. lawsuits seeking damages for injury or death linked to sudden acceleration and 138 class action lawsuits from American customers suing to recoup losses in the resale value of Toyota vehicles.

The company overtook General Motors in 2008 as the world’s top automaker, but the safety recalls raised questions over whether it sacrificed quality to become number one.
• Source(s): Toyota Motor Corporation & Nikkei Inc.
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24
Apr
10

Weekly Address: Good News from the Auto Industry

NEWS
Weekly Address: Good News from the Auto Industry

President Obama Says Promising News From the Auto Industry Doesn’t Reduce Need for Wall Street Reform

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In his weekly address, President Obama said that while the government is ending many of emergency programs put in place to stabilize the financial sector and restart lending, Wall Street reform remains urgently needed. General Motors announced that it has repaid its loan to taxpayers with interest five years ahead of schedule, and Chrysler Financial has already fully repaid with interest its loan as well. While this is good news, it is also a reminder that the crisis in the auto industry was caused in part by problems in the financial sector. To help prevent another crisis, Congress needs to enact reforms to hold Wall Street accountable and protect consumers.

It was little more than one year ago that our country faced a potentially devastating crisis in our auto industry. Over the course of 2008, the industry shed 400,000 jobs. In the midst of a financial crisis and deep recession, both General Motors and Chrysler – two companies that for generations were a symbol of America’s manufacturing might – were on the brink of collapse. The rapid dissolution of these companies – followed by the certain failure of many auto parts makers, car dealers, and other smaller businesses – would have dealt a crippling blow to our already suffering economy. The best estimates are that more than one million American workers could have lost their jobs.

The previous administration extended temporary loans to both companies. Even so, when I took office, the situation remained dire. We had to determine whether or not we could justify additional taxpayer assistance. After all, many of the problems in the auto industry were a direct result of poor management decisions over decades. So it wasn’t an easy call. But we decided that while providing additional assistance was a risk, the far greater risk to families and communities across our country was to do nothing. We agreed to additional help, but only if the companies and their stakeholders were willing to break with the past. They had to fundamentally reorganize, with new management that would reexamine the decisions that led to this mess and chart a path toward viability. I knew this wasn’t a popular decision. But it was the right one.

So, GM and Chrysler went through painful restructurings: ones that required enormous sacrifices on the part of all involved. Many believed this was a fool’s errand. Many feared we would be throwing good money after bad: that taxpayers would lose most of their investment and that these companies would soon fail regardless. But one year later, the outlook is very different. In fact, the industry is recovering at a pace few thought possible.

Just this week we received some encouraging news. Since General Motors emerged from bankruptcy, the auto industry has actually added 45,000 jobs – the strongest growth in a decade. And Chrysler announced an operating profit in the first three months of this year. This is the first time Chrysler has reported a profit since the beginning of the economic crisis. What’s more, GM announced that it paid back its loans to taxpayers with interest, fully five years ahead of schedule. It won’t be too long before the stock the Treasury is holding in GM can be sold, helping to reimburse the American people for their investment.

In addition, Chrysler Financial has already fully repaid with interest the loans it received to support auto financing. And we are closing the books on the temporary program that helped parts suppliers weather this storm – returning this investment to the Treasury in full, with interest, as well. Finally, we are bringing to an end many of the emergency programs designed to stabilize the financial sector and restart lending so folks could finance cars and trucks – as well as homes and small businesses.

On Friday, in fact, the Treasury Department informed Congress that this financial rescue – which was absolutely necessary to prevent an even worse economic disaster – will end up costing taxpayers a fraction of what was originally feared. This is a direct result of the careful management of the investments made by the American people so that we could recoup as many tax dollars as possible – and as quickly as possible.

These steps, as well as others we’ve taken, have meant that millions of people are working today who might otherwise have lost their jobs. But these steps were never meant to be permanent. As I’ve said many times, I did not run for president to get into the auto business or the banking business. As essential as it was that we got in, I’m glad to see that we’re getting out.

At the same time, even as we have come a long way, we still have a ways to go. The auto industry is more stable today. And the economy is on a better footing. But people are still hurting. I hear from them just about every day in letters I read and in the towns and cities that I visit. No matter what the economic statistics say, I won’t be satisfied until folks who need work can find good jobs. After a recession that stole 8 million jobs, this is gonna take some time. And this will require that we continue to tackle the underlying problems that caused this turmoil in the first place. In short, it’s essential that we learn the lessons of this crisis – or we risk repeating it.

Now, part of what led to the crisis in our auto industry – and one of the main causes of the economic downturn – were problems in our financial sector. In the absence of common-sense rules, Wall Street firms took enormous, irresponsible risks that imperiled our financial system – and hurt just about every sector of our economy. Some people simply forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged, there is a family looking to buy a house, pay for an education, open a business, or save for retirement.

That’s why I went to New York City this week and addressed an audience that included leaders in the financial industry. And once again I called for reforms to hold Wall Street accountable and to protect consumers. These reforms would put an end – once and for all – to taxpayer bailouts. They would bring greater transparency to complex financial dealings. And they will empower ordinary consumers and shareholders in our financial system. Folks will get clearer and more concise information when they make financial decisions – instead of having to worry about deceptive fine print. And shareholders and pension holders will have a stronger voice in the boardrooms of companies in which they invest their savings.

That’s how we’ll restore trust and confidence in our markets. That’s how we’ll help to put an end to the cycle of boom and bust that we’ve seen. And that’s how – after two very difficult years – we will not only revive the economy, but help to rebuild it stronger than ever before.

Thanks.

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