Google TV Box Gets Movie Streams From Android 4.0 Smartphones, Tablets

June 26 [Tue], 2012, 11:42

Google TV Box Gets Movie Streams From Android 4.0 Smartphones, Tablets

By Agam Shah

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An upcoming Google TV box based on Android 4.0 OS and an ARM processor will come closer to smartphones and tablets with the capability to play direct movie streams from Android 4.0 mobile devices, a set-top box maker said on Wednesday at the Computex trade show in Taipei.

Honeywld Technology, a device maker, is making a Google TV set-top box that allow TVs to play movies streamed directly from Android smartphones or tablets, said Bryant Liu, a manager in the sales division of the company. The set-top box will also be able to synchronize multimedia content including pictures.

Smartphones and tablets users will need to install a specific application on their mobile devices to enable streaming and synchronize with the Google TV box, Liu said. That application is under development, Liu said.

The feature is much like that of the Apple TV, which can stream content from an iPad or iPhone for playback on a TV set. Samsung also offers a feature on its tablet to stream content to a Samsung TV. However, Samsung TVs are not based on Google TV software.

Honeywld will start shipping the boxes in Taiwan around July, Liu said. Honeywld has only 30 to 40 employees and cannot afford to sell the set-top box worldwide, so the company is showing the device at Computex with the hopes that third-party device makers resell the product in other countries.

The Honeywld set-top box has a Marvell dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, and runs a customized version of the Google TV software developed by the company, based on the Android 4.0 OS. The simplified user interface has a small video player, and a few icons that provide access to a web browser and links to sites such as Picasa and YouTube.

Google TV boxes running version 4.0 of Android, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich, will become widely available worldwide starting in the third quarter, Liu said. There are just a few ARM-based set-top boxes already out, with some running the new version of Google TV based on Android 4.0 or older versions of the OS, Liu said.

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The new devices also signal a reboot for Google TV software, which failed to find acceptance the first time round. The first version of Google TV was used in Sony's Internet TV and Logitech's Revue set-top box, which has been discontinued. In the wake of failure of the first wave of Google TV devices, Intel said it would exit the TV market. Google TV switched over to ARM processors with chip maker Marvell announcing support for Android-based software for TVs.

A price for the Honeywld box has not been set yet, but Liu estimated it would be between US$95 and $120. Users will not pay high prices for a Google TV box, Liu said.

The set-top box has 4GB of flash storage, 1GB of DDR3 memory and a MicroSD slot. The box also has ports for Ethernet and HDMI video. Wi-Fi is available as an option.

Sony's Next Generation Set-top Box With Google TV Arrives July 22

Internet Player's Versatile Remote Control and Library of Apps Customizes the Home Entertainment Experience.

SAN DIEGO, June 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Sony Electronics Inc. today announced the availability and pricing of the NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV, originally introduced in January at CES. Powered by Google TV, the Internet Player will be available at retailers nationwide on July 22, priced at $199. Pre-orders begin on June 25, 2012 at

"Expanding the reach and interoperability of the powerful Android platform with Sony's smartphones, tablets and renowned Audio & Video products, we are proud to continue our relationship with Google through the introduction of the new Google TV set-top-box," said Phil Molyneux, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics. "Entertainment content is available through so many channels and sites, and Google TV helps consumers easily find what they want to watch, listen to or play using familiar search engine technology, enhancing the viewer experience. TV will never be the same."

In addition to the NSZ-GS7 Internet Player, Sony's newest Internet Blu-ray Disc player with Google TV, the NSZ-GP9, will be available at retailers in time for the holiday season, priced at $299. The NSZ-GP9 player features Sony's proven Blu-ray Disc technology coupled with the robust Google TV platform.

Global Expansion of Google TV Platform

In 2010, Sony helped pioneer the Internet-TV convergence as one of the first manufacturers to launch products powered by Google TV. With the new NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV, Sony will also be the first manufacturer to launch Google TV products outside of the United States, initially starting with the United Kingdom in July, followed later by Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Brazil, and Mexico. The NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray Disc player with Google TV will be available this fall in the United States, followed later by Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Netherlands.

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Customized Entertainment Made Easy

Sony's evolution of hardware to complement the continually updating Google TV is the next step in the future of home entertainment convergence. Sony's NSZ-GS7 and NSZ-GP9 bring the best of Google to your TV, with new experiences arriving every day through the Google Chrome browser; thousands of supported mobile apps in the Google Play Store, including hundreds optimized for TV; YouTube with 72 hours of video being added every minute; and a global community of developers from around the world. Google TV's cross search functionality shows viewers all content sources available from broadcast providers* and the Internet to deliver customized video results on demand.

Both new products come complete with a redesigned remote control equipped with a backlit QWERTY keyboard, a touch pad for easy operation and a three-axis motion sensor to enjoy games. Additionally, the Bluetooth remote control can also be utilized as a universal remote to control connected devices such as TV, set- top-box and A/V receivers - the NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray Disc player even incorporates voice search capabilities.

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Google amping up video index in advance of its Google TV launch

by Todd Bishop

Google may own YouTube, but there's a lot more video than that in the world, and the company is getting serious about building that part of its search index in advance of its planned Google TV launch later this year.

That might have been the most timely piece of information to emerge from the opening session this morning at the SMX Advanced search conference in Seattle. Speaking on the panel, Google software engineer Matt Cutts encouraged the developers and search experts in the audience to make sure that they've submitted a video sitemap if they have videos on their sites, to help the company find the content.

"Video site maps is something that we're probably going to look at a little more closely. If you tell us where your videos are, we will try to index them a little bit harder," Cutts said. "For example, if you think about things like Google TV, coming out in the fall, it's in everybody's interest that all the videos that are on the web be able to be very discoverable and very searchable. If you produce videos and you haven't done a video site map, that is something that I would definitely recommend."

Google announced plans for Google TV in May, partnering with Sony, Logitech and Intel. The first Google TV-enabled set-top boxes and televisions are slated to be available this fall.

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Vizio gives a first look at its new Google TV set top box

By: Ray Walters

With Google I/O 2012 right around the corner we're beginning to see some of the new products that will be featured at the event. A perfect example is the new Vizio Stream Player that runs on the Google TV platform. A Vizio rep outed the device with KROQ's Kat Corbett at the station's Coachella house during the April 2012 music festival as you can see in the video above. As far as we know, this is the first live look at one of the next generation of Google TV devices that the world is going to see during Google's developer conference next week.

While we know that you're probably rolling your eyes at yet another attempt to revive Google TV, this new device from Vizio may actually have a shot at breathing new life into Mountain View's smart television platform. Starting with the physical feature set, the small footprint of the box plus the fact that the remote is chock full of features are both appealing. To have a touchpad on the front and a keyboard on the backside of the remote shows that Vizio's engineers put some thought into the development of the device. Couple that with the fact that the rep in the video states that it can serve as a universal hub that enables you to not have to switch inputs when you want to change content sources and you have a compelling product.

On the software side, Vizio looks to be trying to add a ton of consumer value by including various apps like OnLive, the cloud gaming service that enables you to play your favorite console and PC games without having to own a Xbox 360, PS3 or a PC. Having this ability in addition to having access to Google Play and the Google TV platform may be a strong enough combination to drive some consumer interest.

While all of the above is certainly compelling, we can't take anything more than a cautious stance when it comes to how this device is going to sell. While it certainly is going to enjoy some success due to the fact that Vizio is one of the most recognized brands with Wal-Mart shoppers, will it be able to compete with other devices from Roku or even the Xbox 360 when it comes to streaming content delivery? The good news is that the rep in the video stated that it was going to release at "just under $100," which is what the Logitech Revue should have launched at when the platform first released.

Time will tell of course, but until it hits the market we will be watching I/O with interest to see the full package Vizio is going to offer on its release.

Update: We've received word from Vizio saying that the Google TV will "hopefully launch this summer" and that it is "unclear if the Google TV platform will be at the I/O conference".

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L4 Media takes on Google with interactive TV service

By John Cook

Who wants to just mindlessly veg out in front of the TV anymore? Today, you've got to interact with what's on the screen -- chatting with friends, posting to Twitter or tracking sports scores in what amounts to a multitasking onslaught. L4 Media says it makes all of that possible. And the Kirkland startup is showing off its technology for the first time this week at the TelcoTV 2010 show in Las Vegas.

As part of the launch, the company also is announcing that its Panorama TV service will be integrated with Nokia Siemens Networks' IPTV solutions.

Here's how L4 describes their new offering.

Using the Panorama platform, companies can quickly deliver personalized content, such as sports scores, weather forecasts, or Facebook status updates, through useful and entertaining widgets that are specifically designed for use on the television screen with the touch of a button. Rather than try to force an Internet experience built for a computer into a television set, widgets deliver the content that consumers demand in an experience that takes into account the unique features and constraints of a television set.... Once in place, the widgets can be used to do everything from check the day's football scores to Tweet with a friend about the latest episode of American Idol - all without interrupting television viewing.

That sounds a bit like Google TV, which comes preloaded with apps from Netflix, Twitter, Pandora, NBA Game Time and others. Apple TV also is playing around in this space.

Of course, not all media companies want to integrate with the likes of Google or Apple. So, in that regard, there could be an opening for a smaller player to squeeze in. Or, maybe not.

L4 Media is a unit of L4 Mobile, which is led by former SNAPin Software executive Bruce James and former Action Engine executive Brandon Albers.

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BuddyTV Guide app turns your iPhone into a TV remote

by Aislyn Greene

Seattle startup BuddyTV has a new app that lets iPhone users turn their phone into a remote tailored to their TV-watching habits.

The BuddyTV Guide, which combines a traditional TV guide, personalized content, trivia and social media, builds on BuddyTV's earlier incarnations of its deeply social iPhone/iPad apps.

Users can customize the free app by adding their favorite channels, which are then displayed first in a TV guide, as well as change channels with the tap of a finger. The app is integrated with Netflix streaming, so users can easily watch videos and, like Netflix, it will suggest shows based on viewing history and preferences. The app also tells you if there is a HD version of a favorite show and if the episode is a new one or repeat.

The app also incorporates the social elements the company is known for: users can broadcast what they're watching to Facebook and Twitter, invite friends into TV chat rooms to talk about their favorite shows, and answer trivia questions.

Right now the app is only compatible with Google TV, the TiVo Series 3 and other devices controlled by Logitech Revue, but TechCrunch reports it should soon work with tablets and phones that have an infrared transmitter.

"To me, the BuddyTV Guide app is a must have app that I use daily now," said BuddyTV CEO Andy Liu in a press release. "In fact, the app knows that I like to watch the Seattle Mariners game, and recommends it to me whenever they are on TV. I can then tap on the game right on my iPhone, and before I even open the door to my condo, the game is already on my TV. It has truly changed the way I consume entertainment."

The app is currently only available for the iPhone, but the company said Android and Google TV versions are on their way.

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Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV box goes to pre-order status

by Mark Raby

Oh, yes, Sony is giving Google TV another chance. You may recall that the last time it went all out with support for Google's television-based operating system, it sort of crashed and burned. Sony's line of Google TV-powered "Internet TV" models were so much more expensive than other Internet-connected TVs that they captured monumentally low sales levels.

On top of the increased price, Google TV was a nascent, under-utilized platform. In fact, to any sensible person, buying an Internet-connected TV from pretty much any other manufacturer made more sense because they were cheaper and offered more content. Now, though, Google TV has matured a bit, and Sony is willing to give it a second chance. This time, though, it's playing it safe and going for a high-margin, low-cost set-top box device.

The Sony NSZ-GS7 has just gone up for pre-order at J&R Electronics stores, with a price of $199. The most interesting part is the remote control that comes with the new box – it has an accelerometer, a touch pad, and a microphone. With no native support for them, Sony had to make those things come to life, by allowing for speech-based searches and accelerometer controls for navigation through menus and other content.


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Barclays new app transfers money by mobile phone

May 24 [Thu], 2012, 19:00

Barclays new app transfers money by mobile phone


THE ERA of the cashless society has moved a step closer, following the launch yesterday in Britain of a new mobile telephone payment system by Barclays Bank - the first of its kind in Europe.

Using Barclay's PingIt, a customer will be able to send up to £300 daily to another person knowing only their mobile number, as long as the receiver's bank details are registered with ¡®PingIt'.

For now, only Barclays' 11.9 million current-account holders will be able to send money, using a five-digit PIN, though anyone with a UK current account can receive funds through the system.

From March, current-account holders with all UK banks will be able to send money using the service: "I'm sure we'll soon be wondering what we did before it," said Anthony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays retail and business banking.

No bank details are exchanged during the transfer, which takes 30 seconds and which is free, for now. Both senders and recipients will be notified by SMS about transactions.

Users can download an app for iPhone, Android or Blackberry phones. Those without smart-phones can use PingIt's website to make or receive payments.

For now, the service is limited to personal accounts, though Barclays said the daily sums allowable should make it useful for "sole traders such as window cleaners or plumbers".

Mr Jenkins said, in time, bill payments and international payments could be added to the software.

Besides the minimum payment of £1 and the maximum of £300, Barclays has also set a total daily limit that can be sent of £300 and a £5,000 limit on the maximum that can be received by any one account.

Saying it will revolutionise the way people use money, Mr Jenkins cited examples such as friends splitting the cost of dinner, repaying a borrowed £10, or sending money to a son or daughter at university.

Sean Gilchrist, Barclays' head of digital banking, said the app employs "industry-standard encryption" and can be automatically wiped if a mobile is lost. But it should be locked when not in use.

However, Rachel Springall of the Moneyfacts comparison website warned that customers would need to be careful to use the correct mobile number and to send the right amount.

Users must be registered to receive payments - pending payments will be held for 24 hours and the instruction will be cancelled if the recipient has not registered during that time.

The Barclays move puts it into competition against the eBay-owned PayPal, which already has a similar app, although the bank - with its high-street presence - believes it has a branding advantage over eBay.

Barclays pushes out Pingit phone-based payment app

By Ben Woods.

Barclays Bank has launched Pingit, a service that lets people send and receive money using a smartphone, without sharing banking details. Barclay's Pingit app for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry lets people send and receive cash using just a phone number.

The Pingit app can be used to make payments to anyone who has a current account with any British bank or building society, Barclays said in its announcement on Thursday. Participants sign up online to link their banking details with their mobile phone number, so that the phone number is all that is needed for the transfer, the company added.

At launch on Thursday, only Barclays current account customers will be able to send money via the app. However, any UK current account holder can register to receive payments. An update to the Pingit app expected in early March will open the payment part of the service up to everyone.

"For friends splitting the cost of dinner, repaying a borrowed £10 or people sending money to a son or daughter at university, it's free, quick, convenient, secure and easy to use," Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays retail and business banking, said in a statement. "You can send and receive money in seconds, without having to enter account details."

Google Wallet hits the town: In pictures

The Pingit app is available on the Apple iOS, Android and BlackBerry platforms, and can be downloaded from the related app stores. It requires iOS 4.2 or above, Android 2.2 or above and BlackBerry OS 4.6 or newer.

Payment limits for the service are in place, with the minimum transfer set at £1 and the maximum in one transaction at £300. The daily limit for receiving payments is £5,000.

Pingit could pose a challenge to PayPal's mobile payment service, which, unlike Barclays, imposes transaction fees for consumers. Small businesses using Pingit will have to pay "normal transaction charges", Barclays said.

In May, Barclays teamed up with Orange to introduce the first mobile wallet scheme in the UK. The contactless payment scheme made it possible for people with certain handsets, such as the Samsung Tocco Quick Tap, to buy products under £15 via an app.


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New iPad adopts simple product naming Steve Jobs brought to Apple in 1997 B

March 15 [Thu], 2012, 12:50

New iPad adopts simple product naming Steve Jobs brought to Apple in 1997 B

By Daniel Eran Dilger.

iPods and iOS devices

When Apple introduced the iPod in 1999, it continued to remain "the new iPod" through several generations before being named the iPod Classic to differentiate it from the architecturally different iPod mini (and its replacement, the iPod nano) as well as the simple iPod shuffle.

Each successive model generation retained the same descriptive product name, without serial numbers or new name suffixes to highlight differences in their chipset or other features. One exception to this rule was the short-lived, premium fourth generation iPod named "iPod Photo" in 2004. It was later renamed "iPod (with color display)," then replaced with the video capable fifth generation "iPod" in 2005, which Apple purposely avoided naming "iPod Video," even as consumers often referred to it as such.

When Apple released iPhone in 2007, it paired it with the new iPod touch. While subsequent generations of iPhone got new names alluding to their new features (iPhone 3G) or updated speed (iPhone 3GS) or new generation names (iPhone 4) and new enhancements (iPhone 4S), iPod touch didn't, instead carrying forward the Mac style product name with a parenthetical reference to its generation or model year introduction.

A primary difference between the iPhone and iPod touch was that Apple continued to sell different generations of the iPhone in different markets or at different price points. While Apple continues to sell the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, it has only ever sold one new iPod touch model. With the iPad, Apple has historically liquidated the previous model year, rather than selling both an old and new model at different prices.

This year, Apple has continued to sell a single iPad 2 while offering a "new iPad," positioning the device somewhere between the naming convention of iPhone and its iPod touch and Macs, which don't get new names and typically don't overlap in sales.

This suggests that Apple may begin naming subsequent new iPhone models as simply the "new iPhone," rather than introducing a new "iPhone 5" or "iPhone 4S Plus."


Such a move would also help to reduce confusion related to the difference between generations of iPhone, generations of Apple's A4/A5/A5X/A6 system on a chip processor, and the branding of wireless technologies that identify themselves as 3G, 3.5G, or various things that claim to be 4G (despite the fact that no deployed wireless networks actually meet the 3GPP standard for being a true "4G" technology).

Another complication is the fact that even among carriers supporting LTE, there is no global consensus on what bands to use. In the US, AT&T and Verizon operate LTE service on different bands, and globally carriers are rolling out the technology on still different bands. Until a single chipset and design can be made to efficiently work across all of them (something that many not happen), Apple is likely to want to avoid confusion with a series of different model names, and instead focus on '"iPhone" as its global brand.

Apple's strong brands related to iPod, iPhone, iPad and Mac enable the company to release models consumers can readily identify. The company's entire hardware product lineup fits into a small box on the company's online store page, with each brand clearly differentiated.

That's a big difference between Apple and other smartphone vendors producing new brand names every few months (such as HTC's latest ThunderBolt, Incredible, Rhyme, Rezound among the 51 current models listed on its website; Motorola's Droid 4, Droid Bionic, Droid RAZR among 27 models on its website; and Samsung's Illusion, Stratosphere, Fascinate, Continuum, Galaxy S, Galaxy S II Skyrocket and Galaxy Nexus, just to name a few of the 137 it offers.)

Windows PC makers offer similarly confusing ranges of products reminiscent of Apple in the 90s. Samsung offers a good example of both, with a website that lists not just 137 different phone models and carrier combinations (not including 14 Android tablets and two Windows 7 Tablet PC offerings) but also 37 laptop models grouped into four "series" as well as a Google Chromebook notebook and an all in one PC model. Samsung isn't even a major PC vendor.

RIM also continues to use Performa-style model naming, with BlackBerry Bold models identified as, for example, the 9000, 9650, 9700, 9780, 9900 or 9930 among the 21 models grouped under its six brand names, similar to Nokia's use of numbers on its Lumia Windows Phone 7 model lineup, which includes the 610, 710, 800, 900 and 910.

Other Microsoft licenses are using Android-style naming, with new brands from each vendor (such as the HTC Trophy, Mozart, HD7, Titan and Radar). Microsoft effectively prevents its Windows Phone 7 licensees from offering much diversification on specifications, but the product is now offered under more than two dozen brand names and numbers, despite accounting for very few actual sales globally.

On different carriers or in different countries, each of these model names is subject to change, too (the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II is essentially the same phone as the T-Mobile Epic 4G Touch, for example, a nod to the ego of carriers at the expense of consumer confusion). This is in stark contrast to Apple's single brand name for the iPhone 4 or iPad on every carrier, even in cases where there were different chipsets and technologies used (such as an AT&T version and Verizon version).

By centering on a single brand name for each major product category it sells, Apple spends much less on advertising and promoting new brands and customers find it easier to find what they're looking for and ask for it by name.

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New iPad adopts simple product naming Steve Jobs brought to Apple in 1997 A

March 15 [Thu], 2012, 12:48

New iPad adopts simple product naming Steve Jobs brought to Apple in 1997 A

By Daniel Eran Dilger.

Apple's latest iPad, originally anticipated to be named iPad 3 or iPad HD, was simply called "the new iPad" during its introduction. This isn't a new change in naming products at the company however; Steve Jobs initiated it 15 years ago when he returned to lead Apple in 1997.

Apple product names in the 80s

Apple's initial mainstream product was the Apple II, introduced in the late 70s and updated in a series of revised models differentiated by a character suffix: first the Apple II+, then the enhanced Apple IIe, the compact Apple IIc, and eventually the 16-bit Apple IIGS, with letters emphasizing its new graphics and sound capabilities.

The ill-fated Apple III and Apple III+ were followed by the Lisa (later rebranded the Macintosh XL), both using the same type of suffix naming convention that was also in common use by many other early computer makers.

The company named its first Macintosh models with character suffix identifiers: an initial update was called the Mac 512Ke (commonly referred to as the Fat Mac for sporting four times the RAM of the original) and the first major redesign was branded Mac Plus, followed by the Mac SE (for system expansion, the first Mac with a slot) and the Macintosh II in 1987 (the year after Jobs left the company to start NeXT Computer).

Names get crazy in the 90s

After continuing this naming system through a series of Mac II models in the late 80s, the company began branching out by delivering new series of Macs, ranging from the Mac LC line (for "low cost color," aimed at education and home buyers) to the low end, nostalgic "Mac Classic" line to the higher end Mac IIx, IIcx, Iici, IIfx, IIsi, IIvi and IIvx.

It then introduced a series of Latin-sounding product lines ranging from the consumer-oriented Performa to the middle of the road Centris and '040 powered, higher end Quadra, with each model getting a Sony-style model number such as the "Quadra 650 AV."

Systems using a PowerPC processor were given four-digit numbers (as opposed to the original three-digit numbers of Macs based on the Motorola 680x0 chips), and often incorporated "Power" in their name (although mobile PowerBooks predated that convention, so they didn't necessarily use a PowerPC chip unless they sported a four-digit model number). A single new machine architecture might be offered under a dozen Performa model numbers, each with slightly different specifications.

Throughout the 1990s, Apple's product naming resulted in a complex, difficult to understand series of overlapping models and model numbers, each representing a different configuration of hard drives and system capacities.

The company's Newton Message Pad and eMate product lines of handheld devices similarly used product numbers to differentiate models, and the company also used the same numbering conventions for peripherals such as its QuickTake cameras and StyleWriter and LaserWriter printers.

Jobs' product naming simplification

When Jobs returned to lead Apple in 1997, he immediately killed the Mac's confusing model number-names and introduced a single desktop model: Power Macintosh G3, paired with a single notebook, the new PowerBook G3, both highlighting the new, third-generation PowerPC chip. Newton devices, printers and cameras were all axed from the company's catalog entirely.

Jobs then introduced the iMac in 1998, followed by the consumer iBook notebook in 1999. Successive models that incorporated a significantly different processor were appended with G4 or G5, but each generation of Apple's Macs were no longer given unique names with each release.

Instead, iMacs and PowerBooks were generally released with an internal naming system that described when they were released (such as "early 2006"), along with an unpublicized architecture name ("iMac4,1"). To the public, a new iMac was simply marketed as the latest iMac.

With the shift to Intel processors announced in 2005, Apple's product names got even simpler, with "the new iMac," "the new Mac mini," and new series of MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, Xserve and MacBook Air models, none of which drew attention to the generation of their Intel processor, nor features such as a 64-bit architecture, DisplayPort or Thunderbolt.

Instead, users buying a Mac simply choose the form factor they want, the screen size, and pick between good, better and best packages, or custom order a specific configuration they want. There's no hierarchy of model numbers or sub-brands to navigate through to find the Mac a users wants to buy. Rather than naming products after their specifications, Jobs' Apple named products descriptively (such as "Mac mini") or after the category of people who would be buying them (Pro).

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Google as Benevolent Dictator Yanks Apps With Kill Switch: Tech

February 22 [Wed], 2012, 17:12

Google as Benevolent Dictator Yanks Apps With Kill Switch: Tech

By Jordan Robertson,

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Finnish developer Janne Kytomaki said he knew something was amiss last year when he noticed dozens of best-selling applications on Google Inc.'s Android Market listing the same incorrect author.

Kytomaki ran tests, identified the mislabeled software as a fast-moving attack and published the findings online.

Google responded swiftly. It yanked the apps from the marketplace and, using a little-known tactic to keep the malware from spreading, flipped a kill switch that reached into more than 250,000 infected Android smartphones and removed all vestiges of the software.

"I was positively surprised by how fast Google got the apps removed from the market and how fast they were able to roll out a tool for removing the malware," Kytomaki said.

Google, Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have with little fanfare embraced technology that lets technicians instantly and remotely purge unauthorized content from users' machines. So- called kill switches are standard on Android handsets and iPhones, the smartphone leaders. The capability will soon become more widespread with the release of Microsoft's Windows 8 software for tablets and computers.

While their stated use is for the removal of harmful content, there's no standard definition of what that means, and companies aren't required to disclose when and how the tools are employed. The technology could be harnessed by a hacker to unleash a virus, a company to pry into a user's private information or a government body to repress free speech, said Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University's law school.


"We have the benevolent dictator, philosopher-king type of model," Goldman said. "You have someone who has absolute control over my hard drive in ways I may have never anticipated or consented to. If they use that power wisely, they actually make my life better. We don't know if they use the power wisely. In fact, we may never know when they use their power at all."

Kill switches are technologically unsophisticated administrative programs that run silently in the background. They have long existed in controlled networks, like at work, where technical staff has power over every machine. They haven't been widely used on personal computers, whose users are online sporadically and inconsistently update security patches -- a failure that has fostered the spread of malware such as the Conficker worm, which has infected millions of Windows machines.

Smartphone users, on the other hand, are online all the time and must download applications from tightly controlled stores. By design, mobile software gives computer companies a second chance on security, said Kevin Mahaffey, co-founder of Lookout Inc., a San Francisco security firm for smartphones.


"The remote-removal tools are very much a response to the mistakes of the PC era," Mahaffey said. "Whether or not it's an overcorrection, I think history will tell us. It can be done right, but we as an industry need to tread carefully. It's easy to imagine several dystopian futures that can arise from this."

One concern is that Google, Microsoft and others could face external pressure to engage kill switches.

Governments are getting increasingly aggressive in demanding help from technology companies in censoring e-mail and the Internet, as BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. learned in 2010 when India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pressured it to open customer communications to inspection.

"If you build a control into a device that the manufacturer and carrier can control, it will be used by governments," said Chris Wysopal, co-founder of Veracode Inc., a security firm in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Benefits, Drawbacks

Hackers are also getting more sophisticated at infiltrating protected networks, and privacy breaches are more common as personal data becomes the coin of the Internet realm. A kill switch feature carries clear benefits, and potentially dangerous drawbacks, Wysopal said.

"It can really be used to add security, but it can also be used to deny people their rights to communicate," he said. "This is a place where there's no clear doctrine. We haven't heard anything clearly come out from an Apple or a Google saying, 'Here's when we'll use our kill switch and when we won't.'"

Representatives of Mountain View, California-based Google and Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, said they have used kill switches a handful of times, though they declined to provide specifics.

Tricking 'Twilight' Fans

The kill switch is reserved for "really egregious, really obvious cases" of harmful content, said Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's vice president of Android engineering.

"We've always viewed remote removal as the final option," he said. "It's not something we want to use."

One instance came after Jon Oberheide, a 28-year-old security researcher from Ann Arbor, Michigan, duped fans of the "Twilight" teen vampire movies. Oberheide uploaded a fake app on the Android Market and billed it as a preview of the latest film in the series. The software was empty, except for a single screen shot.

Still, the app, which had been downloaded 200 times, provided an entrée that might have let Oberheide introduce malware onto devices. It also helped Oberheide goad Google into using its kill-switch option.

"It finally happened," Oberheide said.

Google, taking a lesson from PC industry bouts with malware, has built in more aggressive protections since the first versions of Android, which began appearing in phones in 2008. Google's partners have sold more than 250 million Android devices, while Apple has sold more than 180 million iPhones.

Hacking Risk

Security experts said users would be at risk if hackers were able to hijack the mechanism Google uses to push software to the devices. Lockheimer said Google takes security of the mechanism seriously and has built-in protections.

Microsoft, which enabled the feature in Windows smartphones several years ago, said its takedowns have not involved malware. The violations concerned "technical issues and content issues," said Todd Biggs, a director of product management at Microsoft.

"Revocation is a last resort, and it's uncommon," Biggs said. "We take that as a signpost that we're on target toward our goal, which is safe, reliable apps for consumers."

Microsoft disclosed last year that it was adding a kill switch to desktop and laptop software. It did so by posting the terms of use for an application store, a new feature for Windows 8.

Amazon's '1984' Moment

RIM's licensing documents for vendors say that RIM reserves the right to remove applications from users' devices "for any reason whatsoever." Marisa Conway, a spokeswoman for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, declined to comment.

Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, also declined to comment. Steve Jobs, Apple's deceased co-founder, confirmed the existence of a kill switch in a 2008 interview with the Wall Street Journal. Jobs said it would be "irresponsible" for Apple not to have a way to protect users from malicious applications. The comment appeared at the bottom of a story about iPhone app sales, in response to research that uncovered clues that such a feature existed on Apple devices.

The incident that encapsulates the danger of using a kill switch is Inc.'s use of the feature to delete some copies of George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" novels from Kindle devices in 2009 after discovering a publisher had sold them without the necessary rights.

'Stupid, Thoughtless, Out of Line'

Customers were infuriated, and CEO Jeff Bezos called it "stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles." The company vowed it would never delete books from Kindles again.

Amazon representatives didn't respond to requests for comment.

While the emergence of kill switches shows the growing control that technology companies have assumed over users' devices, it also exposes the shortcomings of other methods of keeping users' computers clean.

Stephanie Stambaugh, a 47-year-old freelance writer from Denver, has been battling a so-called botnet infection on her home PCs since December. Her Internet provider, Comcast Corp., alerted her to the infection, a type of program where a machine is controlled without the user's consent that is becoming more common. She said that while she has run a dozen different antivirus and other cleanup programs, she is still getting alerts that her machine is infected.

Giving Up Privacy

Stambaugh said she can't afford the $130 virus cleanup service that Comcast offers, and is considering reinstalling her operating software, the nuclear option of virus cleanups.

Cable-network operators such as Comcast have insight into which computers are compromised, since they can see when machines are silently reaching out to malicious sites. Yet they don't have the same capabilities as companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple. Aside from alerting customers, they are limited to quarantining poisoned computers, or restricting the amount of bandwidth they consume.

Cathy Avgiris, a senior vice president for Philadelphia- based Comcast, said fully cleaning an infection is tedious, imprecise work, since the most harmful programs are good at hiding themselves. She said Comcast would be leery of adopting a kill-switch function for that reason.

Even some security experts who see the value of a kill switch say its advantages don't outweigh the potential risks.

"For most users, the ability to remotely remove apps is a good thing," said Charlie Miller, a hacker of Apple products and a researcher at the security firm Accuvant Inc. However, "I don't really like Google or anybody else with the ability to tell me what apps I can run or can't run and to remotely manage my devices. For me, the added payoff of security doesn't make up for the control and privacy you give up."

--Editor: Tom Giles, John Brecher, Nick Turner

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Google's Motorola Mobility Deal Gets Green Light from U.S. and Europe

February 22 [Wed], 2012, 17:07

Google's Motorola Mobility Deal Gets Green Light from U.S. and Europe

By Trefis Team,

Google received approvals for its proposed Motorola Mobility acquisition from both the European Commission as well as the U.S. Justice Department on Monday.

However, regulatory approvals in China and Israel are still pending. The acquisition plans were made public in August last year when the two companies announced that they have come to an agreement under which Google would buy out Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in cash. Google has maintained that the acquisition was made with Motorola’s strong patent portfolio in mind as it would help it better defend its Android mobile platform from lawsuits filed by Apple and Microsoft.

However, we believe that Google has bigger plans in mind. While the addition of more than 17,000 Motorola patents will no doubt strengthen Google’s patent portfolio, we believe that the 63% premium that Google has paid for Motorola’s rather under-performing mobile business needs a bigger justification in the form of a grander mobile hardware play.

Google eyes growing mobile search market

Google already is a dominant player in the online search business for desktops and notebooks. However, as PC growth slows and more users adopt smartphones to stay connected on the move, an increasing number of Internet searches will be performed on mobile phones and online ad dollars will shift to mobile advertising.

Coming up with an open mobile platform, the Android OS, was Google’s way of entering the smartphone market. Now, armed with Motorola’s hardware business, Google may plan to come out with a good enough smartphone at cheaper price points to increase the demand for Android smartphones, thereby increasing its presence in the growing mobile search market.

Margins to decline

While such a move may lead Google to take a hit on its margins, it may be worthwhile as it can help drive mobile ad revenues in the long run. This strategy is not very different from Amazon’s plan to sell the Kindle Fire at a very low price point in order to drive its core content distribution business and compete with Apple. Or Verizon, AT&T and other such telecom providers’ approach to drive data consumption by subsidizing smartphones.

However, similar to the margin hit that the carriers have suffered as a result of the smartphone boom, this may deepen the margin loss that Google will be suffering by acquiring Motorola’s business. We estimate that Motorola Mobility will generate $12.6 billion in revenues and only 69 million in operating profits in 2012. This will significantly dent Google’s overall operating margins to about 21% from 27% pre-acquisition.

Moreover, Google is simultaneously running the risk of alienating its Android partners if it favors Motorola or alters the open Android platform to its benefit. This may cause partners to seek ways of lessening their dependence on the Android platform, which poses a direct threat to Google’s mobile search ambitions. It remains to be seen how Google is planning to alleviate such concerns.

On Wednesday, Symantec rolled out three new additions to its soup-to-nuts security sofware offerings: the "Windows 8 beta-enabled" Norton 360 version 6; Norton 360 Everywhere, for Windows PCs, Macs, and Android mobile devices; and Norton One, a brand new suite with "premium" support and a guarantee that customers won't experience telephone hold times of more than two minutes.

Norton 360 version 6, a product available immediately, will later be upgradeable through a software download to support Windows 8 beta edition whenever Microsoft moves Windows 8 out of its current alpha pre-release testing into the beta stage, said Collin Davis, senior director of engineering, in a briefing for NotebookReview.

"We're making it a priority to [do] whatever updates are necessary to maintain compatibility with all Windows 8 beta product builds," according to Davis.

Like its precedessor, Norton 360 version 5, the new N360 v6 includes the same features as Norton Internet Security (NIS), while adding online storage. Version 6 also folds in a number of improvements made in the recently released NIS 2012, such as lower performance impact, automatic error recovery, a new metering capability for bandwidth usage, and cloud synchronization for Identity Safe, Symantec's "secure vault" for user passwords and other sensitive information.

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Google-Motorola Purchase May Help Defrag Android

February 22 [Wed], 2012, 17:04

Google-Motorola Purchase May Help Defrag Android

By Jennifer LeClaire,

Why is Google buying Motorola? Could be for the 17,000 patents or a number of other reasons. Gartner VP Michael Disabato thinks the Google-Motorola buy is tied to setting direction for the Android operating system. "I think one of the reasons Google wants Motorola is because they have lost control of Android and they want to get it back."

U.S. and European regulators Monday approved Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings, giving the green light to move ahead, although government approvals are still pending in Israel, Taiwan, and most notably China.

Google describes the acquisition as a move to supercharge its Android ecosystem. The company estimates that more than 150 million Android devices have been activated worldwide -- and more than 550,000 devices are activated every day -- through a network of about 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers in 123 countries.

The announcement set off speculation about Google rocking the smartphone market. Analysts discussed everything from Google making Android exclusive to Moto phones, to Google subsidizing Motorola phones and making them free. There were also questions of whether Google did the deal solely to obtain Motorola's patents and whether or not Google can pull off the merger. Industry analysts are still discussing why Google really wants Motorola to begin with.

A Fragmented Mobile OS

"I think one of the reasons Google wants Motorola is because they have lost control of Android and they want to get it back," said Michael Disabato, vice president of network and telecom at Gartner . "Google wants all Android phones to look alike and operate alike and they know if they don't take back control, they are going to fragment [the Android] operating system into a million little pieces."

One of the promises of the Android operating system was its open-source model, which would allow for various flavors of the mobile OS. Disabato said that's a good model when consumers can create their own experience, but it's not so good when there are multiple vendors and more than a dozen experiences -- and consumers are left without the power to make it their own.

"You look at iOS. Apple comes out with a new version and everybody runs and crashes the servers and eventually upgrades," Disabato said. "Google comes out with a new version of Android and what happens? The vendors first have to decide if the phone can support it. Then, they put it in a phone. Then, they have to go beg the carriers to let it out. So they've eliminated the end user, which is not what Google ever wanted."

Google's Mobile Privacy Push

Disabato points to Apple, a single manufacturer with a single operating system, as well as Microsoft , which has multiple vendors with a single operating system that cannot be tweaked. Windows Phone 7 runs the same on all hardware platforms.

"Who's standing out in left field trying to figure out what to do next? It's Google," Disabato said. "They've allowed the handset manufacturers and the carriers to take control of the user experience and they want to get that back."

But there's another factor at play in the Motorola acquisition: Google's consolidated privacy policy. Google recently moved to offer a single privacy policy across all its products and services, Disabato said, so the company can share consumer information across the board. At this point, mobile is the only missing component. And now, with the Motorola acquisition, Google can wrangle that in, as well.

(Reuters) - U.S. and European regulators approved Google Inc's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc and said they would keep a sharp eye on the web search giant to ensure patents critical to the telecommunications industry would be licensed at fair prices.

It was one of a series of approvals on Monday that underscored the scramble by technology companies to acquire big pools of patents.

The U.S. Justice Department also approved an Apple Inc-led consortium's purchase of a trove of patents from bankrupt Canadian company Nortel Networks Corp and signed off on Apple's purchase of patents formerly owned by Novell Inc.

Google, whose Android software is the top operating system for Internet-enabled smart phones, said in August it would buy phone-maker Motorola for its 17,000 patents and 7,500 patent applications, as it looks to compete with rivals such as Apple and defend itself and Android phone manufacturers in patent litigation.

The acquisition, the largest in Google's history, will also mark the Internet search company's most significant foray into the hardware business - a market in which it has little experience. Some investors have worried that Google's profit margins may suffer as it becomes a hardware maker, although Google has said it intends to run Motorola as a separate business unit.

Regulators in China, Taiwan and Israel have still not signed off on the Google purchase of Motorola.

Google shares finished Monday's regular trading session up 1 percent at $612.20.

Antitrust enforcers on both sides of the Atlantic want to prevent companies from gouging rivals when they license patents essential to ensuring different communications devices work together.

"This merger decision should not and will not mean that we are not concerned by the possibility that, once Google is the owner of this portfolio, Google can abuse these patents, linking some patents with its Android devices. This is our worry," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Brussels.

The U.S. Justice Department said it was reassured by Apple's and Microsoft's public statements that they would not seek injunctions in filing infringement lawsuits based on the Nortel patents.

"Google's commitments have been less clear," the Justice Department added in a statement. "The division determined that the acquisition of the patents by Google did not substantially lessen competition, but how Google may exercise its patents in the future remains a significant concern."

Almunia said the EU might be obliged to open some cases in the future.

"This is not enough to block the merger, but we will be vigilant," he said.

Regulators in China have until March 20 to decide whether to approve the deal or start a third phase of review, according to a source close to the situation.

The purchase would give Google one of the mobile phone industry's largest patent libraries, as well as hardware manufacturing operations that will allow Google to develop its own line of smart phones.

Google, the newest major entrant to the mobile market, is already being sued for patent infringement by Oracle Corp, which is seeking up to $6 billion.

The legal battles over patents between technology and smartphone companies has prompted the European Commission to open an investigation into legal tactics used by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd against Apple and whether these breach EU antitrust rules.

Some regulatory experts said the DOJ's comments in approving Google's acquisition of Motorola appeared to be more than mere boilerplate.

"They have to proceed with caution and tread lightly," said Shubha Ghosh, a professor at University of Wisconsin Law School who specializes in antitrust law and intellectual property, with regards to Google.

Regulators will be on the lookout for practices that might limit the entry of new smartphones or new technologies.

"If Google makes it more difficult for new technologies to emerge, by locking-in existing licensees of the patents so that it becomes not profitable for them to adopt other technologies, that's the kind of thing that might give rise to antitrust scrutiny down the road," said Ghosh.

Google's move to buy Motorola Mobility came shortly after it tried and failed to buy Nortel's patents. The winner was an Apple-led consortium, which includes Research in Motion Ltd, Microsoft Corp, EMC Corp, Ericsson and Sony Corp, which agreed in July to pay $4.5 billion for 6,000 patents and patent applications.

Google, which runs world's No. 1 Internet search engine, has been under increasing regulatory scrutiny. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Union are both investigating Google following accusations it uses its clout in the search market to beat rivals as it moves into related businesses.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz and Foo Yun Chee with additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; editing by Tim Dobbyn and Andre Grenon)

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Is a Samsung Galaxy Android camera in the works?

February 14 [Tue], 2012, 13:10

Is a Samsung Galaxy Android camera in the works?

Via: Xataca.

As he mentioned during an interview last October, Andy Rubin's dream is to see Android on every screen. A couple of years ago, that might have seemed like something impossible, but we are getting very close to such a world. With Samsung being one of the biggest players in Android, we are not surprised to see that they might be working on an Android camera.

Samsung has filed a trademark for a device called the "Samsung Galaxy Camera" via the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). As always, we do not yet know if this is for a device, a service, an app, or if it will even become anything at all (We have seen multiple companies file for trademarks they've never used).

We have seen Polaroid make an attempt at a standalone Android camera as well. Granted, the device we saw at CES was not the best device in the world, but after speaking to Executive Vice President and COO Emanuel Vorona, he assured me that Polaroid's commitment to Android is strong. He even mentioned that the final product would be much better than what we saw at CES, and he just rushed those so we could have something to see at the show.

We still do not know to what extent Samsung would take the Android OS into a camera. The Polaroid Android camera was essentially a camera with a phone in it (as opposed to a phone with a camera). It makes us wonder what Samsung's possible product could be like. Will it also have phone capabilities? Would it work as a WiFi-only device? Will it even have the full capabilities of the operating system, or will it be limited to better fit its purpose?

These, among with other factors will have to be considered by Samsung. We sure hope that they can find a good balance and make a great device. And if Polaroid steps up its game well enough, we might be seeing great Android cameras in the near future.

Being able to edit your pictures with apps, directly from your camera, would be really fun. Not only that, but one could also easily share images through social networks, or upload them to the cloud without needing to connect it to a computer.

As already mentioned, we do not know if Samsung is actually working on something like this. It is simply speculation based on a trademark it has filed for. But let us know your opinions. Do you guys believe we need good Android cameras, or would you prefer phones with better cameras? Would all the photographers out there like to see Android on their DSLR cameras some day?

Samsung Galaxy S2 grabs free Gameloft game

By Joan Lee,

Ahead of the Mobile World Congress, Samsung treats Galaxy S2 owners with a free Android game.

Aside from the default free Asphalt 6 game (depending on market), Samsung Galaxy S2 owners are getting another free game through Samsung's Apps Store, Gameloft's Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation. The game is currently priced at $6.99 in the Android Market.

I have no idea if this free Modern Combat for the Galaxy S2 is for a limited time so don't fall asleep on this one.

The new game comes ahead of the rumored Samsung Galaxy S2 Plus unveiling in Europe. Rumors say the Galaxy S2 Plus includes a dual-core CPU clocked at 1.5GHz, but it will reportedly ship with Android 2.3.6 and not Ice Cream Sandwich.

Aside from the S2 Plus, Samsung is also expected to formally introduce the Galaxy S Advance, the Android Gingerbread smartphone with dual-core CPU, contour screen and 5-megapixel camera.

Halliburton decides to dump BlackBerry for iPhone

By: Lee Mathews,

For the past year and a bit, it seems like every time the sun shines on RIM (however briefly) there's always a big, grey cloud that rolls in right away. After receiving positive reactions to the PlayBook OS 2 demo and its added remote display and control features, Halliburton has dropped a bomb on Waterloo: they're dumping BlackBerry smartphones for iPhones.

This is quite a kick in the teeth for RIM. Yes, it's just one company…but Halliburton has more than 60,000 employees and is one of the largest oilfield services companies in the world. They also control several subsidiaries and do millions (or even billions) of dollars in government contract work every year. For Halliburton to very publicly announce that they're done with BlackBerry is a serious black eye for RIM.

RIM has, after all, built their reputation on providing strong enterprise services to customers just like Halliburton. Even though the company is only transitioning 4,500 users to the iPhone, it could signal impending doom for BlackBerry in the enterprise. Halliburton deals with scores of other companies, and there are plenty of subcontractors (and competitors) around the globe that no doubt look to them for direction.

With their employees now packing iPhones, Halliburton says they'll be able to "better support [their] mobile applications initiatives."

So, who else has jumped the BlackBerry ship? Other high-profile defections include Barclays and Credit Suisse, where more than 7,000 users opted to use their own Android smartphones and iPhones instead of sticking with a BlackBerry.

2012 could be a make-or-break year for RIM and their new CEO. Hopefully they can bring something more exciting to the table than the new "Be Bold" campaign and a few new Curves.

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Nokia to Cut 4,000 Jobs at 3 Factories

February 14 [Tue], 2012, 13:08

Nokia to Cut 4,000 Jobs at 3 Factories


BERLIN - Nokia, the biggest maker of mobile phones by volume, said Wednesday that it would eliminate 4,000 manufacturing jobs, or 7 percent of its global work force, as it moved to streamline operations and save money from its production of smartphones.

The company said the cuts would be made at three Nokia factories - in Komarom, Hungary; Reynosa, Mexico; and Salo, Finland - as it transferred the assembly of smartphones to factories in Asia, which are closer to component makers.

"Shifting device assembly to Asia is targeted at improving our time to market," said Niklas Savander, the Nokia executive vice president responsible for smartphones. "By working more closely with our suppliers, we believe that we will be able to introduce innovations into the market more quickly and ultimately be more competitive."

Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, said it planned to cut 2,300 of 4,400 jobs at its Hungarian factory, 700 of 1,000 in Mexico and 1,000 of 1,700 in Salo, its largest production facility in Finland.

The job reductions come as Nokia is struggling financially during the transition from its Symbian-based smartphone lineup to Lumia Windows phones with Microsoft. Nokia last month said it had a loss of €1.1, or almost $1.5 billion at the current exchange rate, in the fourth quarter of 2011, with its sales declining 21 percent from a year earlier, as operators abandoned Symbian models or demanded price cuts for them.

The factories affected by the job cuts will refocus on customizing Nokia smartphones for Europe and North America. Nokia's smartphone lineup includes Lumia Windows phones; MeeGo, from an alliance with the chip maker Intel; and Symbian.

Last September, the Nokia chief executive, Stephen Elop, said the company would start a comprehensive review of its smartphone production facilities with an eye to reducing costs and making long-term improvements in efficiency.

Nokia's smartphone factories in Masan, South Korea, and Beijing will take over the assembly of smartphones, said James Etheridge, a Nokia spokesman in Espoo. The factories in Hungary, Mexico and Finland will add software and local-language applications.

The reductions are the second wave of job cuts at Nokia under Mr. Elop, a former Microsoft executive. In April 2011, Nokia said it would eliminate 4,000 jobs in Britain, Denmark and Finland, and transfer 3,000 employees in Symbian software development to Accenture, a technology consultant.

Nokia employed 57,000 employees at the end of 2011, excluding workers in the Nokia Siemens Network venture, where Nokia owns a 50 percent stake. Nokia said it planned to eliminate the latest round of factory jobs by the end of this year.

Shares of Nokia barely rose Wednesday in Helsinki.

Michael Schroder, an analyst at FIM Securities in Helsinki, said the latest job cuts were largely in line with what the company had suggested in September when announcing the review of its manufacturing operations.

Whether Nokia will have to cut more jobs depends in large part, Mr. Schroder said, on how precipitously Nokia's old Symbian lineup declines. When Nokia began its collaboration with Microsoft in February 2011, the company said it expected to sell 150 million Symbian models during the transition to Windows. But last month, Mr. Elop abandoned that sales goal, saying the declines of Symbian sales were more rapid than anticipated.

"Nokia has quite ambitious cost-savings targets, but I think this is probably the bulk of the cuts," Mr. Schroder said. "That all really depends on Symbian, where we expect volumes to decrease again for at least the next two quarters."

Ice Cream Sandwich update rolling out to select HTC devices in March

By Matthew Miller,

I keep swapping my T-Mobile SIM between the HTC Radar 4G and Galaxy Nexus from Samsung. Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) on the Galaxy Nexus is very compelling, but I am not overly impressed with the Samsung hardware. The camera is OK, but should be better and I really would love to see ICS on a fantastic piece of hardware like the HTC Amaze 4G. HTC announced on their Facebook page that ICS is coming to their devices starting in March.

According to the site, here is the rollout schedule:

HTC has been working hard to get its Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades ready, and we're excited to announce that our first round of ICS upgrades will roll out by the end of March for the HTC Sensation, HTC Sensation 4G and HTC Sensation XE, followed soon there after by the HTC Sensation XL.

In addition, we can confirm Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades will be coming later this year to the HTC Rezound, HTC Vivid, HTC Amaze 4G, HTC EVO 3D, HTC EVO Design 4G, HTC Incredible S, HTC Desire S and HTC Desire HD. Stay tuned for more updates on Ice Cream Sandwich releases in the coming weeks.

I am looking forward to seeing ICS with HTC Sense on Android since Sense is the one custom UI I do like to use, primarily for its widgets and Exchange email utility. I wish it was coming sooner to all devices, but it is nice to see they at least confirm it is coming to quite a few of their current device.

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Google introduces Chrome for phone

February 14 [Tue], 2012, 13:05

Google introduces Chrome for phone

BY Juliette Garside,

Google is to replace the web browser in Android smartphones with a revamped version named after its Chrome desktop product, as the search giant redoubles its efforts to knock Microsoft off the top perch in the battle of the browsers.

Chrome for phone, which is faster, links to the user's desktop and allows an unlimited number of pages to remain open simultaneously, begins its public "beta" trial on Tuesday, and may move to a full launch this spring.

The upgrade reinforces Google's push to eat into Microsoft's dominance of web browsers. Since Chrome for desktop computers was launched in October 2008, Microsoft's Internet Explorer has dropped from a 67% to 37% market share, according to analysis by StatCounter.

Chrome, which has 200 million users worldwide, overtook Firefox, an independent open source browser funded by a trust, as the second most popular in December 2011 and now has a 29% market share, with Firefox at 25%.

In a move designed to tie users more closely to Google products and services, Chrome desktop users will be able to call up on their phone, at the touch of one button, the last set of web pages opened on their desktop.

The feature should be useful for those leaving the office in a hurry: look up the location of a meeting but forget to print out the map, and the phone can open the map page without having to carry out a new search. Start work on an online document at the office and continue adding to it on the move without having to spend time retrieving it.

Bookmarks saved on Chrome for desktop are also automatically available on the browser of any smartphone, tablet or laptop also using Chrome. A user's various Chrome browsers will synchronise with each other every two minutes.

Google claims Chrome is faster than many other browsers because of technology that anticipates which page a user is going to click on next so that it can start pre-loading it, and in a demonstration at Google's London headquarters on Tuesday, Chrome completed the loading of pages containing rich media such as photos and videos more quickly than Apple's Safari browser on an iPhone.

Chrome for phone will work only on the latest version 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich version of Google's Android phone operating system. The browser will only be available to Android phones during the trial period, but a Google spokesperson said it hoped eventually to release versions for all operating systems including Apple's iOS for iPhones.

Chrome will come pre-installed on Android phones as the default browser, although users will be free to select a rival such as Firefox, Dolphin and Opera. The advent of an improved browser is likely to slow the adoption on smartphones of independent alternatives, which have attracted praise in comparison with Android's current offering.

Google calls this seamless link between devices the "personal web", and it is clearly designed to ensure that it retains control of the gateways to the internet on all devices.

The development is yet another sign that Google is deploying a strategy very similar to Apple's - tying customers into the brand on whatever screen they happen to be using. Unlike Apple, Google does not manufacture hardware, and wants its software to be available on any device its users choose to buy.

Chrome's presence as an operating system on desktop computers is also negligible. But with most activities moving off the desktop and on to the internet, a suite of tools such as email, Chrome and Google Docs, plus sharing services like Google+ and YouTube, have given the company a daily visibility on Apple and Microsoft machines that no advertising spend could buy.

So much so that it no longer feels appropriate to refer to Google as a search giant. Although without search dollars, none of these market share building but so far loss-making activities would be possible.

Chrome for Android 'won't get Flash'

By Shane Richmond,

Google's Chrome for Android browser will not support Flash, Adobe has confirmed.

Google announced the beta version of Chrome for Android last night. The long-awaited release replaces the default Android browser for those users who are on the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Google's mobile operating system.

The beta version does not support Flash and Adobe confirmed today that Chrome for Android will never run Flash.

In a blog post, Adobe's Bill Howard wrote: "As we announced last November, Adobe is no longer developing Flash Player for mobile browsers, and thus Chrome for Android Beta does not support Flash content."

RIM, the BlackBerry manufacturer, has already said that it will continue to release its own implementations of Flash for its mobile browsers and Google could do the same, though the company has yet to say whether it intends to do so.

When Apple launched its iPhone without support for Flash, Adobe was critical and even took out adverts complaining about the lack of Flash support in the iPhone. Adobe claimed that Apple was trying to protect its App Store.

Steve Jobs, Apple's late CEO, denied that claim in a post on his company's website. He said Adobe Flash was not an open technology, was unstable and had a negative effect on battery life. He also pointed out that there were alternative technologies for things such as web video.

Last November, Jobs appeared to have been proved right when Adobe said it was abandoning development of mobile Flash. The company said it would focus on HTML 5 for mobile devices and work with Flash "where it can have the most impact for the industry".

Announcing Chrome for Android, yesterday, Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president for Chrome and apps, emphasised the speed and simplicity of the new mobile browser.

He said that Google had built Chrome for Android "from the ground up" with mobile in mind. He added: "We reimagined tabs so they fit just as naturally on a small-screen phone as they do on a larger screen tablet. You can flip or swipe between an unlimited number of tabs using intuitive gestures, as if you’re holding a deck of cards in the palm of your hands, each one a new window to the web."

Chrome for Android supports a single sign-in feature that allows users to log-in and sync bookmarks between mobile and desktop versions of Chrome. The mobile browser will also automatically load any tabs that you had open on the desktop version of Chrome.

That move is likely to encourage more Android users to adopt Chrome on their desktop and laptop computers. At the end of last year Chrome overtook Firefox to become the second most popular web browser.

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