Friday, April 29, 2011

Apple Said To Be Launching New Cloud Service

Apple's products may have increasingly large capacity for storage Relevant Products/Services, but the next big thing from the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer giant may eliminate much of the need to save songs, movies and other large data files.

Reports this week said Apple has purchased the domain name iCloud in preparation for a push into the growing cloud Relevant Products/Services-based services market. Cloud computing allows users to store all their data on commercial servers and use products and applications without buying them.

To Debut at WWDC?

Sources told the website AppleInsider that the company will expand its MobileMe service that currently allows bookmarks, events and other data to be stored externally, and Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June could be the venue for launching a major cloud service initiative. An enhanced cloud service that includes photos, music, video Relevant Products/Services and other personal data would not only tie Apple users into the iOS ecosystem but reduce the need for excessive flash memory Relevant Products/Services on future Apple devices, AppleInsider noted.

The iPad tablet comes in 16, 32 or 64 gigabyte versions while the iPhone has 16 and 32 gigabyte models.

Two other published reports, in GigaOm and Digital Daily said Apple acquired from a Sweden-based company, Xcerion. That company recently changed its URL to The reports noted that Apple recently purchased a 500,000 square-foot facility in Maiden, NC, that could serve as the nerve center for the cloud operation.

Typically tight-lipped about any new product development, Apple did not respond to our requests by email for comment in time for publication.

The iCloud reports seem to offer a range of possibilities for Apple to further its already massive hold on mobile computing and media consumption.

The Sky's The Limit

"I expect 'iCloud' will support numerous offerings, ranging from online storage of files including iTunes, photos and video and personal documents to streaming services analogous to Amazon's CloudPlayer," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "Given the storage limitations of Apple's iPad and iPhone, such services should be welcomed by the company's customers and could also inspire a generation of apps that leverage Apple's infrastructure Relevant Products/Services. Not to sound glib but given the size of Apple's footprint in digital media, the sky's the limit for iCloud.

King said that rather than cut into Apple's sales of music, movies and TV shows and apps through iTunes, iCloud could be positioned as complimentary to the download service.

"For years now, a constant complaint about Apple has been the difficulty of backing-up iTunes files and/or restoring files after a device has broken down or been stolen," he said. "Automatically storing iTunes files in an iCloud 'locker' would effectively address that issue, reinforce the symbiotic relationship between the company and its customers and drive years- or even decades-long revenue streams for Apple."

A new report by Forrester Research projects that the cloud market for public and private sectors could explode from $40.7 billion this year to $241 billion by 2020.

Google Pulls Apps from Android Market Without Warning, Explanation


The Android Market, Google's version of Apple's App Store, "is an open service" that lets developers publish their apps for users to download. In contrast to the App Store's restrictive terms and review processes, the Android Market lets app developers publish apps instantly, without waiting for anyone's permission.

Every now and then, though, Google does pull an app from the Market after the fact. And while these "rejections" aren't as numerous as Apple's, nor as controversial as the time Apple rejected progressive political cartoons from the App Store, they do happen. Here are just a few examples:

Music apps

The official app for the streaming music service Grooveshark was pulled from the Android Market just this month. Unlike the unofficial Spotify client that was semi-voluntarily removed in 2009, the Grooveshark one was the original, and had been on the Market for a year and a half before being removed without warning by Google.

Why the sudden change? Grooveshark's reps say they were "surprised by Google's removal of the Grooveshark App from the Android Market Place [sic], and are still unclear as to what policies have now been violated." So in other words, they have no idea, and weren't given a real explanation by Google.

Mashable writer Brenna Ehrlich suggests that Google may have done it as a concession to the record labels, which it's been negotiating with to get its own streaming music service off the ground. It might not be too far-fetched to think Google did it to remove competition, though, seeing as how the "Don't be evil" company may have forced breaches of contract to get its own mapping services onto Motorola devices.


The popular Flash game Pokemon Tower Defense had an Android version, but it was pulled from the Android Market in short order. It's just one of many, many games, apps and wallpapers on the Market that use copyrighted characters without permission, but unlike them it became wildly popular, which may have led to its getting noticed.

Speaking of making animals fight for you, "Dog Wars" was also pulled, after an outcry from the Humane Society and from former dogfighter Michael Vick. A commenter accused Google of hypocrisy, when there are other games about having humans fight each other, but I suspect most of those are a little less likely to encourage real-world human (or animal) cruelty.


Google pulled a whole slew of Android apps from the market, after the "Mother of All Android Malware" attacked earlier this year. Like with Dog Wars, though, this is something even its critics might cheer ... and unlike with the rest of these app removals, this one was accompanied by a blog post on Google's Mobile blog.

Open or closed?

For the most part, the Android Market lives up to its promise of being an "open" marketplace, and even protects users from malware despite its openness. It does so not because of laws which protect its users and developers, though, but because of Google corporate policy, which can change at any time.

When Google does exercise its power to remove apps that it doesn't like, users and developers have no recourse and no one to appeal to ... sometimes not even the media, since people aren't watching the Market for controversial rejection stories as closely as they watch the App Store.

After all, the Market is "open." Especially compared to its competition.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

PlayStation Hacked: What Should You Learn from the Recent Sony Security Breach?


COMMENTARY | Earlier this week, Sony announced publicly that portions of its PlayStation Network and Qriocity service account databases were illegally accessed by hackers and would be down for servicing. While Sony acknowledged in the company's online blog and in account holder notifications that encrypted credit card information was not believed to have been placed at risk, the personal information of its 75 million plus users was compromised. What does this mean for affected PlayStation and Qriocity account holders — and what lessons should other online account holders learn from the Sony security breach?

Online passwords should be unique and changed often

While this warning is announced during most account creations — most internet users hold scores of online accounts. In a virtual, "paperless" world, consumers perform most tasks online or from a smartphone keypad — from accessing satellite radio to ordering pizza and paying bills. Rather than keeping a journal to track the many usernames and passwords, many online users become careless and use similar or identical usernames, passwords or combinations of the two for multiple online accounts. Unencrypted files, containing account holder passwords, were lost in the recent PlayStation Network hack, potentially leaving additional personal information of registered users open to virtual disaster in adept hands.

Even large companies are at risk for network intrusions

In recent months, online marketing company Epsilon suffered an attack affecting millions of consumers and numerous Epsilon contracted businesses. Consumers and online account holders cannot assume that large businesses are foolproof in protecting consumer's personal information from malicious attack.

Preventing further personal damage requires consumer common sense

Because the intentions of the Sony hackers are unknown, the data gathered has potential to be used for countless illegal purposes. With names and total contact information lost — consumers are open to a variety of scams and fraudulent activities and should use common sense with contacts. Before responding to unsolicited telephone, email or snail mail contacts — consumers should suspect the worst and react with caution.

Rather than wondering if a large scale database of personal information will be lost — consumers must assume that the potential exists. What should be learned from the Sony hack? Consumers need to personally take the time to better protect online interactions at the consumer level — and remain vigilantly on the lookout for scams, spam and unsolicited contact.

Rumor: Apple’s cloud service to be called iCloud

According to blog GigaOM, Apple’s still-underwraps cloud-based service will be called iCloud – not that we expected it to be called anything else.

Apparently, Apple has purchased the domain name from Swedish company Xcerion, who promptly changed their own service’s name from iCloud to CloudMe. Now why would they do that? A $4.5 million cheque supposedly did the trick.

As usual, Apple is yet to respond to the rumors.

YouTube's Royal Wedding Broadcast Outclassed Traditional Media


Live events broadcast to a large-scale audience should never be quite the same again after the royal wedding. The April 29 event was broadcast all over the globe on network TV, via traditional news media websites, and at the online video destination YouTube.

Traditional media has always had a monopoly on visual event broadcasts, but the YouTube addition to the mix more than justified why that should never be the case again.

Depth of Coverage

The Royal Channel on YouTube provided stellar coverage of the wedding through the BBC. While other venues forced fans interested in viewing the event to listen to an audio commentary featuring the occasional ancient and/or incompetent commentator, being able to watch the wedding online without the voice-overs was a blessing.

Enthusiasts who can recognize the Queen and other key members of the royal family by sight undoubtedly got through the wedding without a great deal of confusion. If one did have trouble placing a particular face or recognizing the meaning of a song or tradition, Clarence House had a detailed stream of text updates present in the right sidebar of The Royal Channel YouTube frame. This stream added a lot of accurate and interesting details for users while not forcing data on uninterested viewers.

Quality of Coverage

The YouTube video stream operated at a five- to 10-second delay when compared to other media sources. There were also a few moments of poor quality during the YouTube broadcast of the wedding. The picture stuttered from time to time and the page would have to be refreshed to clear up the problem. At one moment the screen went black briefly and screeched before returning to the ceremony, and, at another moment, it went black silently.

Bugs are to be expected during any live broadcast and these were either easily dealt with by the viewer or swiftly contained by the engineers at the BBC and YouTube. Considering the stellar quality and clarity of the video for 99 percent of the broadcast, the glitches were even less impacting. The YouTube video display actually out performed and out-looked the display on news sites that were featuring same feed. The 10-second time delay was also easily ignored.

In short, the Royal Channel and YouTube with their Clarence House commentary outperformed traditional media outlets airing the exact same content. Hopefully this will become a live event trend.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sony's S1 and S2 'PlayStation Tablets' vs. the iPad


For decades, Sony's brand has stood for entertainment. So now that Sony's releasing its own tablets to compete with the iPad, which it's calling the S1 and S2 for now, you'd naturally assume two things: That there's some reason to buy one instead of an iPad, and that that reason is entertainment, whether it be music, movies or video games.

As it turns out, the Sony "PlayStation tablets" will have all three, but they'll probably leave something to be desired.

Qriocity killed the cat

Instead of Apple's iTunes for music and video, Sony's S1 and S2 tablets will ship with Qriocity, the streaming music and video service that Sony launched late last year. Its "Music Unlimited" service lets you stream "millions" of tracks to your compatible device, which at the moment includes Sony's Bravia TVs and PlayStation 3 gaming consoles, as well as Windows PCs (not Macs). Its "Video On Demand" service works similarly, and has titles from a lot of big-name studios.

The problem is that Qriocity's $9.99 a month service has to compete with iTunes, which may not offer a streaming option but which actually lets you keep your music. And there are plenty of free streaming music services available, like Pandora, Spotify and Worse, Qriocity is suffering from an extended network outage as of the time of this writing, along with Sony's PlayStation Network. Users' personal data may have been leaked, and there's no word yet on when the service will be back online.

Great for its time

Speaking of the PlayStation Network, the "PlayStation" part of the "PlayStation Tablet"'s unofficial moniker is the other half of its selling points. If you're used to the PSN on a PlayStation Portable or PlayStation 3, though, you'll probably be disappointed.

First off, the Android app that you'll use to log in to the PlayStation Network doesn't let you chat, or buy movies or games or anything. You'll use a separate store to buy PlayStation games, and none of the current titles are available; just PSOne classics like Crash Bandicoot and Wild Arms. A handful of exclusive games are available for PlayStation Certified devices like the S1 and S2, but these are Android games from publishers like Gameloft, and unless you've been following the Android gaming market you've probably never heard of them.

Say what you will about Apple's products, but the iPad is great for gaming.

Show us the hardware

I haven't said anything about the S1 or S2's hardware yet, because none of it excites me. They're both Tegra 2 tablets; they've both got wi-fi and 3G capability; the S1 will have dual cameras, and the S2 will have dual screens. That, and the S1 being "shaped like a magazine" where it tapers out towards one end, is about the most interesting thing I can say about them. And I have no idea how the S2's dual screen thing will play out in real life, but it reminds me of the Kyocera Echo.

The Upshot

If you're heavily invested in Sony hardware (PlayStation game consoles, Bravia TVs), it might be worth a shot to pick up a tablet that'll play nicely with them. You can even use its DLNA feature to stream music and video to compatible TVs and speakers.

Anyone else shouldn't wait, though, and should just pick up an iPad 2 instead -- even if they haven't invested in other Apple products.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

Verizon Restores LTE, But Puts Second 4G Phone on Hold

Verizon Wireless said Thursday that the outage on its fledgling high-speed 4G Long Term Evolution network has ended. But the wireless carrier postponed the launch of its newest LTE smartphone.

"Our 4G LTE network is up and running," Verizon spokesperson Jeff Nelson told us in an e-mail. "Our network engineers and vendors quickly identified the issue and solved it."

Reconnect Your Modem

"Customers using the Thunderbolt have normal service," Nelson said, referring to HTC's LTE smartphone, the only 4G handset currently available from Verizon. "Laptop users with USB modems may need to reconnect to the network when moving between 3G and 4G. This will continue to improve."

The company declined to comment on the cause of the snafu, which started Wednesday, days after the network's LTE footprint was expanded to six new markets, for a total of 46 metropolitan areas. LTE devices can roam to 3G coverage when leaving an LTE area. Rival AT&T warned in December that this roaming could cause "jarring speed degradation" for LTE customers unless 3G networks are upgraded, as AT&T says it is doing before moving to LTE.

Verizon told Thunderbolt customers via Twitter on Wednesday that their data speeds would temporarily be slower because of the outage, reverting to the 1xrtt standard that preceded 3G. Voice calls were not affected.

The company also said that activations of new LTE phones will not be possible, which may explain why the launch of the Samsung Droid Charge was delayed, with no new date given. Verizon has announced 10 devices, including smartphones, USB modems, and Wi-Fi hot spots, for the LTE network. Verizon says LTE users can expect average data rates of five to 12 megabits per second for downloads and two to five Mbps for uploads in "real-world, fully loaded network environments."

Verizon hopes to serve 175 markets with LTE coverage by the end of the year.

Explosion of Data

This week's snafu isn't a near-term issue for Verizon LTE customers, said Weston Henderek, lead wireless analyst at Current Analysis.

"Overall, the load on the network is still relatively low, given that they just started launching LTE phones, and there are not many users on the network," Henderek said. "However, in the long run Verizon Wireless will face the same issue with its LTE network that it and its major competitors have faced on the 3G side. That is, that data usage is exploding at such a high pace that the carriers are having a hard time keeping up with capacity demands. Verizon is claiming that they are on top of this issue, but that remains to be seen, based on how quickly data usage grows."

Making matters worse, Henderek noted, is that all major wireless carriers face a looming spectrum crunch that could affect their networks further if more is not made available soon by the Federal Communications Commission.

Go and Sin No More: DOJ Oversight of Microsoft Ending

Microsoft Relevant Products/Services won't be under a microscope any more come May -- at least not from the Department of Justice. The software Relevant Products/Services giant has been dealing with regulators for 13 years, after the DOJ filed an antitrust lawsuit.

The DOJ accused Microsoft of using its market heft to roll over competitors. Words like monopoly were used. But judges in the case seem ready to allow that oversight to end, and the DOJ will stop scrutinizing Microsoft's moves as of May 12.

"And so May 12 will close an important chapter in the history of antitrust law," said Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly during the last oversight hearing on Wednesday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, according to Reuters.

Antitrust History

The DOJ and attorneys general for 19 states plus the District of Columbia filed suit against Microsoft in 1998 claiming violations of antitrust laws.

After discussions ordered by the federal court, Microsoft reached a settlement -- often referred to as the consent decree -- with the DOJ in 2001. Nine states joined in that agreement while seven others continued to pursue their claims separately before accepting the District Court's final judgment in 2002. One state appealed the ruling, but it was upheld in 2004 by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Following the antitrust action, Microsoft faced a number of class-action lawsuits. But unlike the government case, which alleged that Microsoft used its market position to harm competition by incorporating new features into the Windows operating systems at no additional cost, the private class-action suits claimed Microsoft overcharged consumers.

A More Competitive Microsoft?

It was a nightmare for Microsoft that few in the technology industry will soon forget. But now that it appears to be over, or at least almost over, the market may see a bolder Microsoft. Indeed, the expiration of DOJ oversight will allow the software giant more freedom to compete, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

"Any type of consent decree like the one that was over IBM and the one that is over Microsoft limits significantly a company's ability to move," Enderle said. "They have to always be worried that something they are doing or considering or strategizing is going to cross the line or get them in trouble by the folks providing the oversight. The fear of that can tie a company up badly."

As Enderle sees it, Microsoft could not enter into certain discussions or follow certain paths for fear it might offend the DOJ. Just the fear that the DOJ is looking over your shoulder makes it easy to consider almost any move controversial, he said.

"If a manager doesn't like an idea because it wasn't their idea, they can raise this specter of regulatory oversight and be very effective at killing it," Enderle said. "That just ties the company up. It changes the company from a firm that's run by product managers to a firm that's run by attorneys. Not only is that not a great place to work, it also makes a firm overly rigid. It doesn't allow it to bring its A game."

Survey Finds Mobile Services Influence Buying Habits

How do smartphones fit into buying decisions? That's the key question behind a new survey undertaken by -- who else? -- Google, whose name is now synonymous with online advertising.

The survey, conducted with independent marketing firm Ipsos OTX, asked 5,013 U.S. adult smartphone users through the end of last year about their mobile habits in relation to ads, shopping and searching. Google said that, for businesses, the survey showed mobile search, location-based products and services, and a cross-channel strategy are important for marketing to mobile users.

Local Information

To no one's surprise, the survey found that smartphones are widely used as an extension of desktop computers to browse the Internet (81 percent), search (77 percent), use an app (68 percent), and watch videos (48 percent).

Users looking for information that could lead to buying, the survey found, can be broken into three often-overlapping groups: action-oriented searchers, local information seekers, and users looking to make a purchase.

The most visited web sites are search engines (77 percent), followed by sites that offer social networking, retail and video Relevant Products/Services sharing. And those searches lead to business Relevant Products/Services-related actions. Ninety percent said searches led them to buy something, visit a business, or take another action, which, because mobile devices are carried everywhere, includes both physical as well as virtual actions.

Local information searching is nearly universal, with 95 percent of those surveyed indicating they use their smartphone for this purpose. Eighty-eight percent use this local information within a day. More than three-quarters say the action leads to contacting a business, with 61 percent saying they will call a business, and 59 percent physically visiting a business.

Smartphones have quickly become an indispensable aid to making a purchase. Seventy-nine percent of smartphone consumers use their devices while in a store -- to compare prices, find more product info, or locate another store. Nearly as many, 74 percent, use them to make a purchase online or in the store.

'Not Surprising'

The survey also found that ads are a big driver of purchasing action. Seventy-one percent use smartphones to search because of an ad. That action was taken by 68 percent because of a traditional media ad, while 27 percent were responding to a mobile ad and 18 percent to an online ad.

Eighty-two percent said they notice mobile ads, and half of those take action -- either by visiting a web site (35 percent) or making a purchase (49 percent.)

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, described the results from Google's survey as "not surprising." Anecdotally, he said, he and and other shoppers commonly use smartphones as a tool for shopping, especially when actually out shopping, although he noted that he can't recall seeing any specific mobile ad.

3D Apps Thrust Westminster Abbey, Royals into Modern Age


The fanfare surrounding the royal wedding has led the venerable Westminster Abbey into the tech age. Here's a look at the high-tech gadgetry surrounding the festivities:

Abbey 3D

Westminster Abbey released the Abbey 3D app (price: £2.99/$4.99) to Apple iTunes users with the iTouch or an iPhone and will shortly release the same to the Android Marketplace for Android phone users. The app features a stellar 3D journey through the Abbey. You can choose to do a full flyover or tap your way from one section of Westminster Abbey to the other.

As you progress through the church you can tap on additional points of interest. Each tap will reveal a close-up image of a particular landmark along with a text-based descriptions. With some landmarks, the details are particularly clear even on the smaller screens of an iTouch or iPhone. The image of the Grave of the Unknown Warrior is completely readable on the screen without magnification.

The fact that you can read it without magnification is great because the app does not allow for pinch and pull zoom-ins and zoom-outs. In terms of a plus, the app is a quick load. Another great point is the fact that the app will load where you left off even if your iPhone goes to sleep or if you switch to reading your email or other content.

Google 3D Tour

While Westminster Abbey did not influence Google's decision to create a Google Maps 3D tour of the procession route that progresses from the Abbey to Buckingham Palace, it certainly benefits from the feature. Westminster Abbey is as equally stunning in this feature as it is in the iTunes app, but here you can see the images on a full-size computer monitor and still view the Abbey with complete clarity.

Both the Google 3D tour and the Abbey 3D app have an historical and educational value related to the Abbey and other London landmarks that will extend long beyond the royal wedding.

Oman most spammed country in the world

Press release:
Symantec today announced the publication of its April 2011 MessageLabs Intelligence Report. This month analysis reveals that targeted attacks intercepted by rose to 85 per day, the highest figure since March 2009 when the figure was 107 per day in the run-up to the G20 Summit held in London that year. Simultaneously, in the aftermath of the Rustock botnet takedown, global spam volumes continued to fall and decreased by 6.4 percentage points since March to 72.9 percent in April. MessageLabs Intelligence has also revealed that shortened URLs have become increasingly popular recently, being used to lure people to click on advertising links; a practice known as click-fraud.

In April, 1 in 168.6 emails contained malware and targeted attacks accounted for approximately 0.02 percent of these. This represents an increase of 10.5 percent over a period of six months. The number of targeted attacks blocked each day was approximately 77 in October 2010.

“The trend in targeted attacks suggests there may be a seasonal pattern as the number of targeted attacks always seems to be higher at this time of year,” said Paul Wood, MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst,” As the financial year draws to a close in many countries, it is also possible that the timing is perfect for cybercriminals seeking information about the financial performance of a company, and a carefully crafted attack may be just the means by which they can achieve this.”

Also known as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), targeted attacks are frequently delivered by email and designed to breach a specific target for the purpose of industrial espionage.

During April, MessageLabs Intelligence identified 11 automated bots operating on a popular micro-blogging service, posting messages containing shortened URLs and using a variety of techniques to bring these messages to the attention of other users. People clicking on these links are redirected to websites containing advertising links, which in turn will generate pay-per-click revenue for those sites hosting the banner ads.

There are a number of motivations behind enticing users to follow shortened URLs, the primary one being financial gain,” Wood said. “Although online advertising providers have worked hard to prevent Web sites from being setup purely to profit from advertising revenues, the practice is still prevalent.”

Other report highlights:

Spam: In April 2011, the global ratio of spam in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources decreased by 6.4% percentage points since March 2011 to 72.9% (1 in 1.37 emails).

Viruses: The global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources was one in 168.6 emails (0.593 percent) in April, an increase of 0.114 percentage points since March.

Endpoint Threats: The most frequently blocked malware targeting endpoint devices for the last month was the W32.Sality.AE virus. This virus spreads by infecting executable files and attempts to download potentially malicious files from the Internet.

Phishing: In April, phishing activity was 1 in 242.2 emails (0.413 percent), an increase of 0.02 percentage points since March.

Web security: Analysis of web security activity shows that an average of 2, websites each day were harbouring malware and other potentially unwanted programs including spyware and adware, a decrease of 18.2 percent since March 2011.

Thirty three percent of malicious domains blocked were new in April, a decrease of 4.0 percentage points since March. Additionally, 22.5 percent of all web-based malware blocked was new in April, a decrease of 1.9 percentage points since last month.

Geographical Trends:

•       Oman became the most spammed in April with a spam rate of 81.9 percent.

•       In the US 72.8 percent of email was spam and 72.7 percent in Canada and the UK..

•       In The Netherlands, spam accounted for 74.1 percent of email traffic, in Germany 73 percent , 72.4 percent in Denmark and 73.6 percent in Australia.

•       Spam levels in Hong Kong reached 72.4 percent and 70.3 percent in Singapore. Spam levels in Japan were 68.9 percent.

•       In South Africa, spam accounted for 72.4 percent of email traffic.

•       Luxembourg remained the most targeted by email-borne malware with 1 in 28.9 emails blocked as malicious in April.

•       In the UK, 1 in 86.2 emails contained malware. In the US virus levels were 1 in 311.6 and 1 in 201.8 for Canada. In Germany, virus levels reached 1 in 277.5, 1 in 647.9 in Denmark and 1 in 311.2 for The Netherlands.

•       In Australia, 1 in 271.3 emails were malicious and, 1 in 321.0 for Hong Kong, for Japan it was 1 in 902.9 compared with 1 in 640.0 for Singapore.

•       In South Africa 1 in 68.1 emails contained malicious content.

Vertical Trends:

•      In April, the most spammed industry sector with a spam rate of 76.5 percent continued to be the Automotive sector.

•      Spam levels for the Education sector were 74 percent, 72.8 percent for the Chemical & Pharmaceutical sector, 72.5 percent for IT Services, 71.8 percent for Retail, 70.9 percent for Public Sector and 72.2 percent for Finance.

•      In April, the Public Sector remained the most targeted industry for malware with 1 in 26.4 emails being blocked as malicious.

•       Virus levels for the Chemical & Pharmaceutical sector were 1 in 157.4, 1 in 260.4 for the IT Services sector, 1 in 287.6 for Retail, 1 in 87.1 for Education and 1 in 209.5 for Finance.

The April 2011 MessageLabs Intelligence Report provides greater detail on all of the trends and figures noted above, as well as more detailed geographical and vertical trends. The full report is available at also produced a recent Special Report on Targeted Attacks which can be accessed here with more indepth analysis on the targets of targeted attacks.

Symantec’s MessageLabs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security threats based on live data feeds from our control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each week.

Gitex to introduce new features for this year

Press release:
In a month which has seen predictions of double digit technology growth and unprecedented ICT investment across the Middle East, GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK 2011, taking place between 9 â€" 13 October at the Dubai World Trade Centre, has announced its special features this year are already ahead of the curve with up and coming trends for the region.

Total Middle East IT spend is estimated to reach US$14 billion in 2011 and in order to meet industry demands and drive business in the ever-evolving ICT sector, GITEX 2011 is introducing brand new elements to reinforce its position as the MEASA region’s leading ‘finger on the pulse’ technology event. As one of the three largest ICT exhibitions in the world, the show connects more than 136,000 industry professionals from five continents with over 3,500 suppliers and is one of the most influential and high-profile events in the global ICT sector today.


The brand new ‘GITEX Digital Media & Marketing’ feature will help Middle East businesses achieve their potential through more effective and efficient online campaigning. Recent studies by marketing strategists Econsultancy show that companies in the Middle East and North Africa are on average spending 22 per cent of their marketing budget on digital platforms and more than half (58 per cent) are increasing their digital budgets in 2011.

GITEX Digital Media & Marketing presents a host of digital opportunities to an emerging market where the expansion of fibre optics, high-speed internet and broadband penetration has opened a brand new digital marketing world more accessible to Middle East marketeers than ever before.

Helal Saeed Almarri, CEO, Dubai World Trade Centre, organiser of the event said: “The ever-increasing technology investment in the Middle East and its ongoing potential as one of the most rapidly growing ICT markets in the world makes the region an ideal opportunity for expansion. GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK is not only the perfect platform for technology development and growth, it is at the heart of the industry in this region. For more than 30 years, GITEX has been a business driver and an innovator and now it is seen as the industry authority that can both meet the current demands of technology companies, but equally importantly, identify the sectors with the most significant potential in the future.”

Card Technology

GITEX will again be expanding its profile to incorporate ‘GITEX Card Technology’, focussing on the evolution of smart cards including financial services, mobile phone sim cards, road toll systems, national ID cards, biometrics, hospital records and much more.

According Frost & Sullivan, the Middle East and North Africa smart cards market is expected to reach $328.5m by 2014, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.8%. The report adds: “Furthermore, booming economy and strong demand for digital security is making the shift in demand for smart cards. It is projected that the global smart card market will post double digit growth (CAGR around 12%) during 2011-2013.”

Jim Runcie, Regional Vice President of Datacard Group for Europe, the Middle East and Africa said: “As the world leader in secure ID and card personalization solutions, the Datacard Group has 40 years experience in card technology and we see that the industry opportunities in the Middle East are vast. It is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and the timing is perfect for GITEX to introduce a feature focusing on such rapidly developing technology. Smart cards are not only a convenient part of today’s lifestyle they are increasingly becoming an essential aspect of our day to day living, from protected proof of identity to secure financial transactions. The GITEX platform is an excellent way to promote the technology potential and drive the industry.”


GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK’s will increase its focus on the GITEX Gulfcomms in 2011. As the largest business-to-business exhibition for carriers, cable, fixed, IP and satellite across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, GULFCOMMS 2011 opens endless opportunities to solution providers in the fields of telecommunication networks, next generation networks, IP technology, satellite communications, infrastructure solutions, backhauling, teleconferencing and more. According to the Telecommunications Industry Authority’s 2011 Market Review & Forecast: ”The Middle East and Africa will be the fastest-growing international region, fueled by expanding wireless and broadband infrastructures.”

In the public sector, ‘Government@GITEX’ will be further enhanced in 2011 to offer the best platform regionally for suppliers and government agencies to meet and review technologies, share best practices and discuss solutions. The recently released “Middle East and Africa Government Sector Top 10 Predictions, 2011″ published by the Government Insights team at IDC showed that IT spending by the MEA public sector totalled $5.35 billion in 2010 and is set to surge by 10.7% in 2011.

Cloud technology and virtualisation will be the central focus of the ‘Cloud Computing Confex’, which returns alongside a strong presence from the GITEX ‘Mobile, Apps & Content World’. Consumer Technology and Business Solutions will draw many of the world’s leading brands and companies to showcase and launch their latest products and services and the ‘GITEX Global Conferences’ will feature some of the global industry’s most influential and illustrious decision-makers to share their knowledge, experience and insights into today’s most pressing ICT opportunities and challenges.

GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK, which is themed ‘Redefine the Future’ runs from 9 – 13 October 2010, at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. For more information please visit

Sony getting sued over PSN data breach

Apparently the first lawsuit is hereby knocking SCEA’s doors, as the electronics giant is getting sued over the ongoing PlayStation Network breach.

The lawsuit was filed against the corporation by Kristopher Johns from Birmingham, Alabama, allegedly for failing to take “reasonable care to protect, encrypt, and secure the private and sensitive data of its users.”

Johns, 36, he demands in his lawsuit free credit monitoring and monetary compensation. Moreover, he seeks to hoist the suit to class action status.

“This action arises from SONY’s failure to maintain adequate computer data security of consumer personal data and financial data, including, but not limited to credit card data and the reasonably foreseeable exploitation of such inadequate security at defendant SONY by computer ‘hackers,’ causing the compromise of the privacy of private information of approximately seventy-seven (77) Million consumer credit card account holders,” reads the lawsuit.

“Plaintiff is informed and believes that this breach of security was caused by SONY’s negligence in data security, including its failure to maintain a proper firewall and computer security system, failure to properly encrypt data, its unauthorized storage and retention of data, its violation of Payment Card Industry Data Standard(s) and rules and regulations it was bound to obey for the benefit of consumers concerning the storage of consumers’ private identifying transaction and credit card information, and its violation of California laws requiring the implementation and maintenance of security for customer information.”

The story derives right following an overwhelming setback to Sony after a weeklong of network outage.

The company came clean yesterday and warned its PSN users that their personal information, along with addresses, customer names, e-mail addresses, account’s passwords and perhaps credit card information may have been illegally obtained by an “unauthorized person”.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sale of MySpace Could Benefit Social Media in the Long Run


COMMENTARY | In a move that has been anticipated for months, News Corp. has officially put MySpace up for grabs to the highest bidder.

The asking price is rumored to be around the $100 million mark, which represents a sizable drop from the $580 million the company purchased the social network pioneer for back in 2005. A little company called Facebook has reduced traffic and use to MySpace, which means the company goes up for sale as a work in progress.

Over the past few years, 1,200 employees have been laid off from MySpace. Revenue for the company, which was $900 million in 2008, is expected to be $109 million. The particular situation being purchased does not exactly scream great investment. But a few firms will likely float a bid to purchase the company. The real challenge is making MySpace great again, if the site stays around at all.

Rumors of potential buyers include various capital firms, a Chinese Internet company, and even an original founder of MySpace. What remains unclear is exactly what any of the bidders would do with the company and the platform it provides.

Social media is all the rage in business right now. Thanks to the ability to communicate directly with consumers the social networks have offered a gold mine of advertising and customer service. However, with Facebook and Twitter already in full swing, is there room for another social media platform?

The ability to access Facebook and Twitter feeds from various mobile devices is a part of what makes them so popular, and any social website wishing to break into the market will need to have some foresight and an impressive development team to protect the company long-term. Really, who is to say what happened to MySpace could not happen to Facebook inside of five years?

While News Corp. gambled and lost on their investment in the social media landscape, another company with a fresh idea could further the leaps and bounds already seen in Twitter and Facebook. The future of social media is not necessarily at stake in the sale of MySpace, but competition is what drives innovation and improvement. A two horse race is more fun to watch than a horse just running laps, and it will likely be much more productive.

Jason Gallagher is a former travel professional and long-time Pennsylvania resident. These experiences give him a first-hand look at developing situations in the state and everything included in the travel industry from technology to trends.

Nokia Trims Workforce In Anticipation of Phone 7 Shift

As it prepares to load its phones with Microsoft Relevant Products/Services's Windows Phone 7 operating system, Finnish cell-phone giant Nokia is ditching control of its Symbian platform and cutting 7,000 jobs in a major restructuring.

Accenture, a global Relevant Products/Services technology consulting and outsourcing firm, will take over development of the Symbian platform, which hasn't gained traction in the important U.S. market as Apple's iOS and Google's Android have captured consumers.

While no employees will lose their jobs this year, the job cuts will affect workers next year in Finland, Denmark and Britain.

Losing Ground

The 12 percent reduction in its phone-division workforce is part of an effort to trim nearly $1.5 billion by the end of the year. The company's new CEO, former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop, recently signed a deal with his former bosses reputed to be worth $1 billion to put the struggling Windows Phone 7 on Nokia devices. Though still the world's top cell-phone maker, Nokia's smartphones have lost ground to Apple's iPhone in the global market.

Market-research firm Strategy Analytics said Nokia sold 24 million smartphones in the first quarter, up 13 percent from the same period in 2010, but global market share Relevant Products/Services fell from 39 to 24 percent.

Symbian is still alive. Two weeks ago, Nokia announced an update for the operating system as well as two new Symbian-based phones. The update is designed for the N8, E7, C7 and C6-01 phones, with improvements to icons, scrolling, touchscreen keyboards. and browsing. The upcoming X7 and E6 handsets will ship with the new version, code-named Anna.

Elop has said new Nokia devices running Phone 7 may arrive within the year. That can't be soon enough for Microsoft, which has been struggling to gain market share after the OS launched late last year. Phone 7 saw a small boost to seven percent of new smartphone buyers during March, up from five percent in the previous quarter, according to Nielsen.

Windows Phone 7 currently powers a handful of phones made by HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell.

Move Was Expected

Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT, said the changes at Nokia are "unsurprising. It's fairly normal for a new CEO to make some sort of sweeping change six months or so after he/she was hired."

He said the hiring of Elop was a clear indication that Symbian's days are numbered. "Shifting 3,000 workers to Accenture should take away a bit of the sting, but cutting loose 4,000 others is still painful," he said. "The question remains whether aligning itself with Microsoft can be a winning strategy for Nokia, especially against formidable competitors like Apple and vendors leveraging Android. I expect that's a question we'll be asking ourselves for the next year or so."

Apple's White iPhone 4 Is Coming -- Only a Year Late

At long last, Apple is rolling out a white iPhone 4. The white model of the popular device will make its way to market on Thursday via Apple's online store, retail stores, carrier stores, and other authorized retailers.

"The white iPhone 4 has finally arrived and it's beautiful," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. "We appreciate everyone who has waited patiently while we've worked to get every detail right."

A Year Later ...

Waiting patiently may be an understatement. It took Apple nearly a year to roll out the white iPhone 4. Apple encountered problem after problem producing the white iPhone. Although AT&T was supposed to get an exclusive on the white iPhone, Verizon Wireless customers can also buy the device. The white iPhone 4 may be a way to hold off consumers waiting for the iPhone 5, which news reports suggest is delayed until the fall.

"Another unicorn dies as the white iPhone 4 finally makes an appearance," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner. "What I find fascinating about this is that it's a white iPhone and its introduction is garnering this much attention. Once again it shows that pretty much anything Apple does is going to be put under a microscope, analyzed and reported on."

White models of the iPhone 4 will be available in more than 20 countries this week. Meanwhile, Apple is expanding the audience for its iPad 2. The second generation of the tablet will begin selling in Japan on Thursday and in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and eight additional countries on Friday.

Music Service Rumored

Everything Apple does -- or is even rumored to do -- is indeed headline material for technology magazines and even mainstream news outlets. And there are plenty of Apple rumors this week alone. One of those rumors is T-Mobile's quest for its own iPhone.

It remains to be seen if T-Mobile will get its iPhone 4 before Apple rolls out an iPhone 5, but some observers are suggesting it may soon begin offering a white model. And a Photoshopped image of the iPhone 5 leaked earlier this week still has people talking. The image is based on a sketch former Engaged chief Joshua Topolsky saw and posted on his blog.

The image circulating the web offers a teardrop design that's thicker at the top than the bottom. The screen is a tad larger at 3.7 inches. Some observers are betting Apple is going to take a page from its MacBook laser-manufacturing machinations and carve the device out of aluminum.

Beyond mobile devices, Apple is rumored to be readying a fee-based music service for the cloud Relevant Products/Services. The rumor mill says Apple will initially roll out the service for free, but eventually charge $20 a year to let consumers do what launched at the end of March. Amazon launched Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon Cloud Player for Web, and Amazon Cloud Player for Android. But iPhone users were left without a solution.

Is the LG Thrive the 'Android iPod Touch'?


Studies that show iPhone and Android marketshare miss an important fact: iPhones aren't the only things that run iOS. There's also the iPod Touch, perennial favorite of teenagers, which is basically an iPhone without the phone.

It's been selling like hotcakes, and Android doesn't have anything like it. Until now, that is!

Introducing the LG Thrive

There have been Android-powered media players from companies like Archos and iAudio. These tend to be slow and clunky, however, and to lack features taken for granted in Android smartphones ... like capacitive, multitouch screens, and the 150,000 apps in the Android Market.

The LG Thrive, on the other hand, isn't just like an Android smartphone. It is an Android smartphone, for the price of an iPod Touch ... $179 off-contract for the Thrive, compared to $229 for an iPod. Even if you throw in an extra MicroSD card for music (the Thrive only comes with a 2 GB one), that's still cheaper than an iPod.

So what's the catch?

Well, first off is the difference between a deluxe MP3 player and a budget smartphone. The Thrive has a plastic-y case and buttons, and is a lot thicker than the iPod's gleaming chrome shell. It also can't run iPhone apps ... and just like with Nintendo during the Gamecube years, the iPhone exclusives are often better than anything on other phones.

Furthermore, the iPod Touch's interface and its apps are better thought-out than Android's. If you've never used either before, you'll spend less time getting accustomed to the iPod Touch, and less time being frustrated by it.

Does the LG Thrive have a good side?

Yes! First, it's not just a music player. It's a phone that you can buy AT&T GoPhone plans for. As little as $25 will get you 500 MB of 3G wireless Internet for a month, and there are cheaper plans, too (I opted to pay $15 for 100 MB). Prepaid voice minutes rollover for 90 days, or if you use your phone infrequently you can just pay $2 on each day that you use it.

Second, it has some of its own exclusives. Google's Android apps tend to be better and more fully-featured than its apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, plus Amazon has a "free app of the day" promotion in its Appstore for Android. AT&T doesn't allow phones to buy apps from Amazon's store yet, but at you can sign up to have AT&T tell you when it's ready.

In many ways, the LG Thrive is less of an "Android iPod Touch," and more like the cheapest smartphone ever -- even Cricket's Huawei Ascend, available for under $150 off-contract, costs more per month to use as a smartphone (and that's inside Cricket's coverage areas). The fact that it runs Android is only a plus, since it means Android Market access ... and the freedom to upgrade to a more powerful phone later on, without losing all your apps.

The Verdict

If I didn't already own an HTC Aria (which I converted into a GoPhone), I'd be all over the LG Thrive. Even if I wanted a music player, I'd be tempted by it ... but only because I'm a fan of Android and its customizable, open-source nature.

I'd hesitate to recommend the LG Thrive to someone else, just to use as a music player. But as an entry-level way to get in on Android's action, or to have real mobile Internet with an incredibly cheap data plan, I'd give it a thumbs-up.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

iPad 2 officially arriving in the UAE on 29th April

The UAE will see the official launch of the iPad 2 in just two days as per the press release posted on Apple’s website. The prices mentioned in the PR are the same as US- so $499 (AED 1,832) for 16GB, $599 (AED 2,200) for 32GB and $699 (AED 2,567) for the 32GB versions of the Wi-Fi only models. Add US$130 or AED 477 to each one of those for the Wi-Fi + 3G model.

While this will certainly excite the buyers, except resellers like Jacky’s and Souq to start panicing on their grey imports with insanely high prices. I see a “Deal of the day” on the iPad 2 coming pretty soon.

CUPERTINO, Californiaâ€"April 27, 2011â€"Apple® today announced that iPad® 2, the second-generation of its breakthrough post-PC device, will arrive in Japan on Thursday, April 28 and Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and eight additional countries on Friday, April 29. iPad 2 will be available at Apple retail stores at 9 a.m. local time, select Apple Authorized Resellers, and online through the Apple Store® ( beginning at 1 a.m. Additionally, iPad 2 with Wi-Fi will be available in China beginning Friday, May 6.

iPad 2 features an entirely new design that is 33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter than the original iPad, while maintaining the same stunning 9.7-inch LED-backlit LCD screen. iPad 2 features Apple’s new dual-core A5 processor for blazing fast performance and stunning graphics and now includes two cameras, a front-facing VGA camera for FaceTime® and Photo Booth®, and a rear-facing camera that captures 720p HD video, bringing the innovative FaceTime feature to iPad users for the first time. Though it is thinner, lighter, faster and packed with new features, iPad 2 still delivers up to 10 hours of battery life* that users have come to expect.

Pricing & Availability
iPad 2 with Wi-Fi will be available in Japan on April 28 and Hong Kong, India, Israel, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey and UAE on April 29 for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model and $699 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 with Wi-Fi will be available in China on May 6, and further international availability will be announced at a later date.

iMovie® and GarageBand® for iPad apps are available for $4.99 (US) each from the App Store℠ on iPad or The Smart Cover is available in a range of colors in vibrant polyurethane for $39 (US) or rich leather for $69 (US).

*Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

Royal Wedding Apps Offer News, History and Multimedia to Fans


Royal Weddings, an official Royal Collection App was featured on April 6 on the Royal Wedding website. This app joined a few other notable options for users of tablets, smart phones and the iTouch. Each application has enough original content to merit a download instead of employing a pick and choose approach.

Royal Weddings

The official Royal Wedding app is by Antenna Audio, Inc. and carries a price tag of $2.99 ( £1.79). If any non-productivity related application is worth a monetary investment, this is the one. It features video commentaries on each major royal wedding since the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on February 10, 1840. The videos have an average run time of two minutes and feature trivia about each occasion. A noted example is the fact that slices of Queen Victoria's wedding cake are still in existence inside of specially designed boxes.

Photo galleries built into the app feature images used within the videos and a couple dozen additional photos. Seeing memorabilia outside of the narrated videos is a wonderful bonus as it allows for maximum zooming while maintaining clarity. This capability allows app users to view the detail and craftsmanship present in the wedding artifacts at their leisure. A prime example is present in "The Form of Morning Prayer" book presented to Victoria and Albert. Zooming in exposes the intricately crafted cherubs and clasped hands that make up the clasp of the book.

NBC Royal Wedding App

NBC's free app contribution to iTunes and the Android marketplace will be a handy resource for Americans tuning in for the Royal Wedding. It features a practical minute by minute breakdown of the itinerary for the big day with both London and Eastern Standard time listings. There are also video, text and photo galleries focused on various wedding topics such as the royal jewels, the current engagement and the soon-to-be bride and groom.

BBC American Royal Wedding Insider

Unfortunately, BBC America's free app for Apple and Android systems will be a bit lacking for many users. It launches with a loud pop song and the flashing names of several companies who helped finance the app. Its main features are designed to benefit those who want to stay informed of upcoming BBC airings related to the Royal family and who want to preview gowns and other offerings supplied by "Brides" magazine.

Rumor: Sharp to produce LCD for iPhone 6

While Apple has yet to officially announce the iPhone 5, rumors of the iPhone 6 are already making the rounds.

According to AppleInsider, Sharp Electronics have been selected to produce LCDs for Apple’s next-next iPhone. The information comes via Japanese newspaper Nikkan, who said that Sharp will be making p-Si LCD displays for the iPhone, and not OLED as previously (hoped) rumored.

p-Si LCDs are supposedly lighter, have higher aperture ratios, better durability and few connecting pins. The report states that Sharp’s Kameyama Plant No. 1 will be making the displays.

There is no word on the size or pixel density yet, but you know...iPhone 5 is yet to release.

EVO to launch online Apple store in the Middle East

EVO, an Apple retailer in the UAE, today announced it will soon launch its own online Apple store in the Middle East.

The portal,, will be an extension of EVO’s existing retail outlets in Dubai and will sell new and used Apple products. For used products, the website will offer a classified-esque section were users must fill a form detailing the product they want to sell, which will then be approved by the PRO Assist team and posted on the site.

The website will also facilitate authentication, repair and upgrade services, which will be offered by Pro Assist, and Apple-authorized service center.

“As EVO continues to grow its brand and customer base, we seek to develop as a common platform to showcase all the Apple products, accessories and services for all our customers to find the best Apple devices that match their lifestyle and needs. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to smart phones and service plans, due to the incumbent varied consumer demands as well as rising competition which is why is committed to delivering an experience that makes it easy to find the right solution for individual needs,” said Jamal H Maraqa, managing director, PRO TECHnology.

AppleMall will employee UPS and Aramex for shipping and delivery.

ViewSonic’s latest ViewPad 10s feature Tegra 2 dual-core chip

Press release:
Always at the forefront of the industry with its breakthrough technologies, USA-based ViewSonic announces the launch of its latest intelligent tablet PCs in the Middle East â€" the highly mobile ViewPad 7 and ViewPad 10s designed specifically for working professionals. Apart from the positive reviews from critics, not only does ViewSonic establish the Smart Pad milestone, it is the only 3C brand in the world that boasts the most complete tablet PC portfolio. Riding on this success, ViewSonic unveils the latest Tablet, ViewPad 10s, powered by NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core 1GHz processor. Packed with powerful hardware features, the ViewPad 10s also supports high-resolution 1080p video and HDMI digital multimedia files, Flash 10.1 and internet TV/broadcast streaming etc. Being the first in the market to support such high-resolution audio-visual entertainment, it is your best companion to lead an exciting mobile multimedia lifestyle.

Smart Entertainment Tablet Powered by NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual Core 1GHz Processor

The ViewSonic ViewPad 10s is amongst the first intelligent entertainment tablet PC powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 mobile processor, possessing the industry’s most powerful processing capability to give users faster and smoother web surfing experience, shorter response time, unparalleled gaming exhilaration and longer battery life. Only 14.35mm thick and weighing a light 730 grams, ViewSonic’s ViewPad 10s is ultra-slim and ultra-sleek. Despite its lightweight design, the ViewPad 10s comes embedded with HDMI, USB, Micro SD Card and SIM card ports, microphone, 3D speakers and 3.5mm audio output function. It is designed to give users the most complete and convenient mobile entertainment lifestyle.

Leading Tablet PC to Support High-Resolution 1080p Video Streaming and Flash Animation

The ViewSonic ViewPad 10s is powered by the latest Android 2.2 operating system, so users can access the Internet via Wi-Fi and 3G broadband wireless to enjoy applications such as Google Maps, Voice Search, Gmail, YouTube and other personal programs, social communications and mobile office software. The ViewPad 10s comes with a 1.3 mega-pixel front camera and users can use programs such as “fring” to enjoy unlimited 3G video conferencing services. The ViewPad 10s’ 10” LED backlight, multi-touch screen gives users smooth control and response experience. Users can enjoy high-resolution 1080p video streaming and flash animation anytime anywhere, plus access a wide suite of audio-visual media files, internet TV and broadcast programs.

Expanded Audio-visual Capabilities to Be Your One-Stop Entertainment Center, Providing Diverse, Convenient Mobile Entertainment Anytime Anywhere

Supporting the ViewSonic ViewPad 10s is an elegant stand that is also embedded with audio output, HDMI and USB ports. Users can recharge their tablet PCs directly on the stand, plus it becomes your gateway to a one-stop entertainment center. Turn it into your mobile TV display to enjoy movie and animation clips or play games on the tablet’s high-resolution screen. If you are working, it is the perfect micro PC for you to access the web. The tablet’s wide array of supporting ports makes it your perfect one-stop entertainment center where you can connect any 1080p TV, display screen, projector, audio equipment etc to give you and your loved ones large-screen, surround sound audio-visual entertainment. You can share any content stored in a wide array of storage devices, enhancing your lifestyle convenience and enjoyment!

Available in the Middle East from April 2011 through major retailers, the ViewSonic ViewPad 10s has a current retail price of AED 1599 for the only Wi-Fi model, and AED 1899 for the Wi-Fi and 3G model.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oracle's President Replaces Resigned CFO

Oracle Chief Financial Officer Jeff Epstein has resigned after less than three years in that role. The position will be filled by current President and ex-CFO Safra Catz, who will remain as president.

Catz, who was CFO from November 2005 until September 2008, has been Oracle's president since 2004 and on the board of Directors since 2001. The company made the announcement Monday, and said Catz' appointment as CFO was "permanent and effective immediately."

No reason was given for Epstein's departure.

'No More Logical Choice'

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said Catz "already has the long-standing confidence of our employees, our board, and our shareholders," adding that "there is no more logical choice for CFO."

Board Chairman Jeff Henley noted that the CFO position had been reporting to Catz, and, as she previously served in that role, she is quite familiar with the responsibilities.

Epstein had been CFO since August 2008, when he replaced Catz. Before Oracle, Epstein was CFO of casual and social game publisher Oberon Media. Before that, he worked for DoubleClick, now owned by Google.

He was recruited to become CFO. The two previous holders of that position -- Harry You and Greg Maffei -- each held the job for less than a year. Catz similarly stepped into that position on an interim basis immediately after the departures of You and Maffei.

You resigned to become CEO of a tech consulting firm. Maffei, who was both CFO and president, left to become CEO of Liberty Media.

Up 78 Percent

Catz's time as CFO means she has more seniority in that position that any of the three men who have held that position since Jeff Henley left in 2004 to become chairman of the board.

Industry observers have noted that Oracle's corporate culture is not for the weak of heart, and Catz's experience in that position may have made her a tougher boss to the reporting CFO.

Others have suggested that ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd, who joined Oracle after leaving HP last summer following an investigation for sexual harassment, may have taken on some of the responsibilities that a CFO normally would have, such as communicating with investors and customers.

In fact, there has been some speculation among Oracle watchers that these moves better position Hurd as an eventual replacement for Ellison, 66, since it could mean that Hurd acquires more control over daily operations of the company. Others see Catz, who has rotated through the CFO position several times, as now in the strongest position.

The executive changeover has not had a noticeable effect on the company's stock prices, which dropped half a percent in pre-market trading Tuesday. Oracle has reported that fiscal third-quarter profits in March were up 78 percent.

Deals on Facebook Challenges Groupon's Daily Deals

Watch out, Groupon. Facebook is moving deeper into your territory. Maybe Groupon should have seen it coming when Facebook launched Check-In Deals a few months ago. That offering has evolved into Deals on Facebook, a direct Groupon rival.

While Check-In Deals helped Facebook users get special offers when they check in at local businesses from mobile devices, Deals on Facebook goes one step further. The new feature aims to help Facebook users find fun experiences to share Relevant Products/Services with friends.

"While many Deals on Facebook offer discounts, it's more important to us that you find interesting experiences around you to do with friends," said Emily White, director of local at Facebook. "We've worked with partners and local businesses to help deliver the best social activities in your area. And once you've found a deal you like, having the deal on Facebook makes it easy to share, buy and plan with your friends."

500 Million Reasons

White pointed to Austin City Limits Live. That venue is offering an All Access Experience for concerts, starting in May. Facebook users can buy this deal and get backstage passes, sound-check access, and a catered dinner in addition to attending the show. Facebook has also inked deals with aDealio, Gilt City, HomeRun, kgb deals, OpenTable, Plum District, PopSugar City, ReachLocal, Tippr, viagogo and zozi.

There are two ways to find deals on Facebook. Users can get deal updates in an area via e-mail and notifications, or check the Deals tab on their home page. If friends choose to share information on a deal, it could also show up in a user's news feed.

The saving grace for Groupon, Google and other daily-deal sites is the limited number of retailers -- and the limited geography -- Deals on Facebook offers at launch. The new feature is rolling out first in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego, and San Francisco. White said Facebook hopes to expand to other cities in the future, but didn't make any promises. But with 500 million members compared to Groupon's 70 million and LivingSocial's 28 million, Facebook could make an impact.

Can Facebook Fail?

For all the potential, Facebook is a bit late to the party with Deals, said Jake Wengroff, global Relevant Products/Services director of social media for Frost & Sullivan. Still, he said, Facebook had to offer a daily-deals product to compete with Groupon and LivingSocial because, well, it's Facebook.

"Unlike Groupon, LivingSocial and others, Facebook Deals will not be pushed to user's inboxes unless specifically requested -- so discovery and awareness of a particular deal might be slower," Wengroff said.

"Facebook claims that its deals will be more 'experiential' -- less a simple discount at a local nail salon or burrito place and more an experience which can be shared with friends, such as a six-week bridal boot camp or a kayak and bat-watching tour," he said. "Both of these are currently offered in Austin, Texas."

Wengroff does see some benefits to advertisers and small businesses, namely integration with display-advertising campaigns and stronger targeting based on user preferences.

Xperia Play vs. PSP: Sony's Battle for Your Pocket


Sony's PlayStation Portable, or PSP, is meant to be the only device in your pocket. After all, with it you can play games, watch movies, listen to music, and make Skype calls. You can even browse the Internet with it at a Wi-Fi hotspot, using its tiny thumbstick and face buttons to click on links.

Does that sound like an ideal web browsing experience to you? (To say nothing of the idea of listening to music on a device the size of a paperback book.) It didn't to Apple, which is why it invented the iPhone and iPod Touch. And now thanks to Google's Android operating system, other companies can make their own multitouch, web-browsing smartphones ... companies like Sony Ericsson. Heck, they can even slap a slide-out game controller on them, making them look almost exactly like the PSP Go. Add in the ability to play PlayStation games, and suddenly the Xperia Play is looking like competition for Sony's own products.

What is Sony thinking? But more importantly, which one should you buy?

Comparing the hardware

Neither the PSP (both versions) nor the Xperia Play will win many awards for hardware design. They're all creaky, plasticy things, with glossy shells that are fingerprint magnets. Compared to an iPhone or Nintendo DS, they feel cheap, and the Xperia Play has screen brightness issues besides. It also has analog touchpads instead of actual thumbsticks.

With these devices, you aren't paying for build quality. You're paying for PlayStation-quality gaming. So how does that stack up?

Confusingly, as it turns out. Because each device buys its "PlayStation" games from a different place.

Let me count the ways

Let's start with the PSP-3000. It and earlier PSPs are the only consoles that can play the PSP games you buy at the store, since they're the only ones that have the requisite mini-disc drives. They can also go on the PlayStation Network, to buy games and movies and things there ... sometimes the same games and movies you'd find in the stores.

The PSP Go is like that, but without the disc drive. It can only play games and movies bought from the PlayStation Network. And you don't get any credit for having already bought games on disc, so if you're upgrading and you want to play your old games you'll need to buy (and download) them all over again.

The Xperia Play has Android Market, and the two have different selections of PlayStation games. You can also buy games from the Amazon Appstore, which doesn't have any PlayStation games but which does have a free game or app of the day.

One device to rule them all?

If you care about anything other than playing games, you want the Xperia Play. It's a full-fledged Android smartphone, which means multitouch web browsing plus real apps. It can't play as many PlayStation games, and if you've already bought some from the PSN you won't be able to play them on it. But it's a worthy handheld game console in its own right, plus it's a phone at the same time.

So where does that leave the PSP? It leaves it as the go-to device for games like Crisis Core and Dissidia, and other PSP exclusives. But with Android phones becoming much more affordable, there's not much reason to use it as your only device.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

Abu Dhabi becomes the world’s first capital city entirely connected to fibre optic networks

Press release:
Etisalat today announced that Abu Dhabi is now the first capital city in the world which is entirely covered with a fibre optic network (FTTx). The completion of this project marks new milestone for Etisalat and an achievement for the country, and has contributed to the UAE being ranked amongst the top five countries in the Arab world in the Network Readiness Index (NRI) and ranked 24th in the world according to the Global Information Technology Report 2011 issued by the World Economic Forum, outperforming many countries.

This new achievement opens the doors for a new era in the telecommunications sector due to the enormous potential offered by fibre-optic networks, which can contribute to the economical and social development of nations and enhance economic progress and prosperity. Fibre offers revolutionary services and solutions which can meet subscribers’ needs for decades to come.

This network will also contribute to achieving sustainable development which the UAE government seeks in the economical, social and infrastructure development fields.

On this occasion his Excellency Mohammed Omran, Chairman, Etisalat said: “This milestone can be added to Etisalat’s previous achievements accomplished over the past 30 years, putting the country at the forefront in global telecommunications as we are proud to announce Abu Dhabi as the first capital city in the world that is entirely connected to the fibre optic network.”
“We are pleased to dedicate this great achievement to our wise leadership who have always been a beacon for us and a motivator to achieve more successes and achievements,” Omran stated.

Nasser Bin Obood, Acting CEO, Etisalat said: “The fibre optic network is a key turning point in the development of telecom infrastructure, as this network with all its enormous benefits and features is expected to have an impact in all sectors”.

“Our significant investment in this network, which amounts to approximately AED 6 billion may have somehow impacted the net profits of the Corporation in the recent past, but we are confident that this short term impact will prove to be beneficial for many in decades to come. It is an investment that directly impacts the country’s position and its network readiness, supporting the government’s guidelines in enhancing and harnessing e-government tools and information automation,” Bin Obood added.

After Etisalat launched the first of its services that is based on this network in 2009 â€" eLife â€" which offers fixed line, internet and TV services in a single subscription with better service quality, high reliability and speed, the corporation received significant demand and acceptance of the service. It now effectively services more than 230,000 subscribers.

Bin Obood revealed that the number of houses connected to the network (Home Pass) has reached 1,125,247, from which 722,582 houses are ready to use the network (Home Ready) whereas 429,801 are activated homes (Activated ONT).

The total length of the fibre optical network that Etisalat currently deploys all over the UAE equates to five times the distance between the earth and the moon, consisting of a total of 2.8 million km of cable being deployed all over the country. It is expected that Etisalat will complete the deployment of this project all over the country in 2011, to make the UAE the first country that is entirely covered with the fibre optic network in the world.

As a result of this network, Etisalat today offers the fastest broadband internet services for its customers in the region, reaching speeds of 30 MBps for individuals and 100 MBps to the business sector, in addition to next generation TV services such as HDTV and 3DTV.

Etisalat’s fibre optic network has also provided a number of unique benefits to the business sector through the provision of a dedicated scalable network, providing maximum levels of reliability and uptime – features which are of significant importance to the business sector, offering faster response times, permanent service availability as well as information security.

Iran attacked by second computer virus

Iran has confirmed that they are once again under attack by a computer virus, in what is being described as a “cyber war” waged by its enemies. Last year, the country was hit by a Stuxnet virus that aimed to cripple its nuclear program.

Iran’s commander of civil defense, Gholamreza Jalali said “Fortunately, our young experts have been able to discover this virus and the Stars virus is now in the laboratory for more investigations. The particular characteristics of the Stars virus have been discovered.”

“The virus is congruous and harmonious with the (computer) system and in the initial phase it does minor damage and might be mistaken for some executive files of government organizations.” He did not specify the target of Stars or its intended impact.

The Stuxnet worm, described by experts as the first ever “guided cyber missile”, is still said to be of potential risk although Iran does claim that it had curbed it before it could do any significant damage.

“We should know that fighting the Stuxnet virus does not mean the threat has been completely tackled, because viruses have a certain life span and they might continue their activities in another way. Perhaps the Foreign Ministry had overlooked the options to legally pursue the case, and it seems our diplomatic apparatus should pay more attention to follow up the cyber wars staged against Iran,” Jalali said.

Sony makes Playstation tablets official, S1 and S2 incoming

Sony has announced two new “Sony Tablets” at a press event in Tokyo today. Codenamed S1 and S2, the two tablets are powered by nVidia’s Tegra 2 chip and will run on Google’s latest Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system.

The S1, a 9.4″ device, is designed like a ‘folded magazine’ and features a “Quick and Smooth” touch panel UI and a ‘Swift’ web browser. It can also be used as a remote control for Sony hardware like TVs, AVs, etc.

The second tablet, the S2, is a dual-screen clamshell with a pair of 5.5″ display with 1024,480 resolution. Much like the Sprint Kyocera Echo, the dual screens can work as one large display or split into different functions, such for play video games with the controls occupying one screen and the visuals handled by the other.

Both the tablets are Playstation-certified, Qriocity-enabled, and are WiFi and 3G/4G compatible.

The tablets are expected to release this Fall globally.

Press release:
Sony Corporation (“Sony”), announces “Sony Tablet” that delivers the perfect combination of hardware, content and network with seamless usability for a high-quality, engaging entertainment experience. Based on decades of engineering heritage, Sony is developing two tablets with unprecedented design, including S1 (codename) which is optimized for rich media entertainment and S2 (codename) which is ideal for mobile communication and entertainment. “Sony Tablet” will become available in the global market starting in fall 2011.

“Sony Tablet” is equipped with the latest Android 3.0 which is designed for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets. Both tablets are WiFi and WAN (3G/4G) compatible and users can not only browse the internet or check e-mail but they can also smoothly access digital content including videos, games and books through Sony’s premium network services and more, on-the-go at any time.

S1 has a 9.4-inch display for enjoying the web and rich content on a large screen. Its off-center of gravity design realizes stability and ease of grip as well as a sense of stability and lightness, offering comfortable use for hours.

S2 has two 5.5-inch displays that can be folded for easy portability. In contrast to existing tablets, its unprecedented dual screen presentation and usability allows its displays to be combined and used as a large screen or for different functions such as playing video on one screen while showing control buttons on the other.

“‘Sony Tablet’ delivers an entertainment experience where users can enjoy cloud-based services on-the-go at any time. We’re aiming to create a new lifestyle by integrating consumer hardware, including ‘Sony Tablet’ with content and network,” said Kunimasa Suzuki, Corporate Executive, SVP, and Deputy President of Consumer Products & Services Group.

“Android 3.0 is a new version of the Android platform with a new holographic user interface that is designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets. I’m excited about “Sony Tablet” as it will further spur the development of applications and network offerings which users are looking for.” said Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President, Mobile, Google Inc.

Also, in the mobile computing category, the market for PCs which realize high productivity is expected to steadily grow, particularly in emerging markets. Therefore, Sony will also remain committed to strengthening its VAIO brand and introduce increasingly compelling products which offer new value propositions to the market.

“Sony Tablet” features.
Designed for portability and intuitive gripping
With its off-center of gravity form factor, the 9.4-inch S1 offers stability and a sense of lightness, offering comfortable use for hours.
The dual screen S2 comes with two 5.5-inch displays which can be used together as one large screen to browse websites and more. They can also be used for different functions as users can watch a video on one screen and input commands on the other, or check email on one screen and use the other as a soft keyboard.

Seamless Usability and Performance
Through Sony’s knowhow for combining hardware and software, “Sony Tablet” realizes optimal usability and performance. Because of Sony’s rapid response technologies, users can perform smooth, quick touch-screen operations and enjoy fast and efficient website loading. The keyboard arrangement is also optimized for the large screen, making email and SNS communication a breeze.

Rich entertainment experiences through various network services
Through Qriocity1 music and video services, users can enjoy rich video and music content. Also, through PlayStation®Suite, users can immerse themselves in high quality first generation PlayStation® titles. Additionally, users can easily download ebook content from Readerâ„¢Store2 and use both tablets as digital reading devices. The integration with various services allows users to take their entertainment experiences on-the-go. Furthermore, “Sony Tablet” is equipped with functionality that organizes content for easy access.

Remote access functionality with AV devices
Through “Sony Tablet”, users can control home entertainment devices as well as enjoy content in new ways. S1 uses infrared technology and works as universal remote controls for a variety of AV devices starting with . Users can perform functions like turning on their TVs, changing the channel and adjusting the volume. Also, through DLNA functionality on “Sony Tablet”, users can “throw” personal content to large screen televisions or music to wireless speakers.

In 2010, Sony launched a network platform called “Qriocity” which connects many of Sony’s network-enabled devices, and has been expanding its services into global markets. Also, Sony Computer Entertainment has been providing various contents and services for PlayStation users through PlayStation®Network, which now has over 75 million registered accounts (as of March 20, 2011) worldwide.

Simultaneously, Sony will continue to announce various devices which leverage these services. Starting in early 2011, Sony Computer Entertainment announced the next-generation portable entertainment system (codename: NGP) while Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications brought “Xperiaâ„¢PLAY” to the market. Sony is introducing “Sony Tablet” to deliver an entertainment experience which integrates hardware with network services that deliver rich content.

With the establishment of Consumer Products and Services Group in April 2011, Sony will focus on accelerating the development of innovative next generation products and aim to deliver a new lifestyle by strengthening the integration of hardware and network services.