Monday, April 30, 2012

B&N, Microsoft team up on Nook, college businesses

NEW YORK (AP) -- An infusion of money from Microsoft Corp. sent Barnes & Noble Inc. stock zooming Monday, as the software giant established a way to get back into the e-books business.

The two companies are teaming up to create a subsidiary for Barnes & Noble e-book and college textbook businesses, with Microsoft paying $300 million for a minority stake.

Shares of Barnes & Noble jumped $10.41, or 76 percent, to $24.09 in morning trading. The opening price of $26 was a three-year high. Microsoft stock rose 2 cents to $32.

The deal gives Barnes & Noble ammunition to fend off shareholders who have agitated for a sale of the Nook e-book business or the whole company, but the companies said Monday that they are exploring separating the subsidiary, provisionally dubbed "Newco," entirely from Barnes & Noble. That could mean a stock offering, sale or other deal.

The deal puts to rest concerns that Barnes & Noble doesn't have the capital to compete in the e-book business with market leader Inc. and its Kindle, said analyst David Strasser at Janney Capital.

For Microsoft, the investment means that it will own 17.6 percent in a company that sells tablet computers based on Google Inc. Android, one of the main competitors of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft smartphone software.

Microsoft also said the deal means that there will be a Nook application for Windows 8 tablets, set to be released this fall. The app is likely to get a favored position on Windows 8 screens.

There already a Nook application for Windows PCs, but none for Windows phones.

William Lynch, the CEO of Barnes & Noble, said Nook software will continue to be available on devices like the iPhone that compete with Windows Phone.

The Nook has pleasantly surprised publishers, who worry about domination of the e-market. Unveiled to skeptical reviews in 2009, the Nook is estimated to account for about 25 percent of the U.S. e-book market. The Nook helped to cut Amazon share from what was believed to be 90 percent to around 60-65 percent. David Pogue in The New York Times called the initial device "an anesthetized slug," but praised the new Nook Simple Touch as a "very big deal" that offers "spectacular, crisp pages to read in any light."

Barnes & Noble investors have also been concerned about the recent government lawsuit against Apple and some leading publishers over alleged price fixing. When Apple launched its iPad in 2010, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group (USA) and other publishers switched to an "agency" model that allowed publishers to set prices for e-books, a system many believe helped Barnes & Noble. had been offering top-selling e-books for $9.99, a cost publishers, agents and writers believed was so low it could drive competitors out of business. Three of the five publishers suedâ€" Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and the Hachette Book Group â€" have already agreed to settle, meaning prices for their e-books likely will again drop on Amazon.

Microsoft has a long-standing interest in the e-book field. It launched e-book software in 2000, but was never able to build a substantial library of books. It discontinuing the software on Aug. 30.

Barnes & Noble, based in New York, currently runs 691 bookstores in 50 states. The companies said that the subsidiary will have an ongoing relationship with Barnes & Noble retail stores, but what that relationship will be is unclear.

"The whole reason the Nook business is expanding so rapidly is because bookstores are committed to it and know how to market the product in that environment," said Michael Norris, an analyst at Simba information.

The possibility of a separation of Barnes & Noble digital and college businesses has been brewing.

In January, Barnes & Noble said it was considering options for its Nook business, including possibly spinning it off or expanding overseas, and said it expected the review to be complete by the end of the year.

And in March, private investment firm G Asset Management, a Barnes & Noble shareholder, offered $460 million for a 51 percent stake in the company college bookstore unit, Barnes & Noble College Booksellers LLC.

Under that plan, the college bookstore unit was proposed to begin as a private business but become public within a "reasonable" amount of time. G Asset offer was contingent upon Barnes & Noble keeping current management in place and separating its Nook e-business from the rest of the company. At the time the offer was made, Barnes & Noble declined to comment.

In 2009, Barnes & Noble Inc. bought the college bookstore unit from Chairman Leonard Riggio in a deal worth $596 million. The deal ended up costing Barnes & Noble $460 million after accounting for the unit cash on hand at the closing date.


AP Retail Writer Mae Anderson, Business Writer Michelle Chapman and AP National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report.

5 most unique phones in the World

Some manufacturers release a phone with a unique shape or ability. Some have weird shapes when compared with the form of mobile phones in general.

Yes, but a strange shape, its function was sometimes surprising. In a sense not just for phone, SMS or multimedia play, but also the ability of mobile phones are generally out of the ordinary.

Here are a few phones that have been produced with the form and function quite unique, as quoted from various sources.

1. Pantech Mosquito

In addition to functioning as a phone, Pantech Mosquito can also repel mosquitoes, according to its name. Yes, it is claimed to emit ultrasonic sound to scare the mosquitoes.

The shape is quite thick with standard specifications. Such as 2.6 inch QVGA display and 2 megapixel camera. This handset runs on the network CDMA.Selain function as a phone, Pantech Mosquito can also repel mosquitoes, according to its name. Yes, it is claimed to emit ultrasonic sound to scare the mosquitoes.

The shape is quite thick with standard specifications. Such as 2.6 inch QVGA display and 2 megapixel camera. This handset runs on CDMA networks.

2. Samsung Serene

Samsung has also released a phone with a strange shape, this one Samsung Serene. It was designed by Bang & Olufsen, a leading audio company.

See, the tangible circle button on the phone like old school. Rectangular shape which is thick enough so that when folded, perhaps no one thought him as a phone.

3. 800 000 volt Stun Master

The phone has a unique old school in his day. Which can conduct electrical current to defend themselves if users in danger.

The producer was inspired to make this phone as much an act of terrorism scattered. Simply press a button, the phone can be used to shock the criminals.

4. Haier P7 Pen Phone

Mobile phones with pen shape is made also by companies from China, Haier. Yes, looks like a jumbo-sized pens so that people might not expect it as a phone.

This handset can be used to call in and support triband GSM. There are also facilities although the camera may not be very good ability.

5. Phone cigarettes

Phones in circulation in China this has an additional function, namely as a cigarette box. Yes, it can accommodate up to 7 cigarettes that may be suitable for those fans of cigarettes.

Indeed, the shape is very similar to the packaging of cigarettes. Even in the body, also written warning by the Ministry of Health China cigarette. What nonsense.

7 Gadgets of old things for the collection Millionaire

For certain items, the older the age the more intense he sought. Although the price is also more inflated.

Similarly, for the following technology products whose existence is endangered and is suitable to fill the collectors cabinet that doubles as a millionaire.

Like robot named Radicon this. Robot with a height of 20 inches on the side is believed to be the first toy to be controlled via remote.

Since attendance at a toy store in Japan in 1957, he became a work of art that drew the attention of collectors.

With a cast of gray paint, Radicon has qualified components such as wireless radio remote, multi-board wheel, the arm can move, and others.

Want to bring back this ancient robot? To mark he was appreciated between USD 500-USD 9,000. Gress while still priced at the rate USD 20,000.

Giroux Daguerreotype

One of the first commercial camera ever. Model of the original pitch in 1830.

He was provided by a 81 mm lens with the aperture and focal depth 382mm F15. Everything is packaged in a wooden box.
When users want to focus, he must move the small box on the inside of the lens. Eksposurenya time enough to make head-head, that is up to 30 minutes.
This pioneering camera has the original price of 350 francs, and at auction it sold for almost more than half a million euros.

Nintendo World Championships: Gold Edition 1990

For the video game collector, this object can also be called a treasure trove. Wrapped with a golden color, old school video game is only produced as many as 26 units.

Last year, he was spotted sticking out on eBay at a price of USD 21 400. Ironically, the seller does not seem to know how valuable this Nintendo so that when he auctioned off, he started at the price of USD 25.

Apple Lisa 1

PC aimed at business was first rolled in 1981. It runs on top of the operating system GUI and 5 MHz Motorola 6800 microprocessor and 2 MB RAM.

Because at that time unable to compete with IBM PC output that is cheaper, Apple had to quickly cut production.

Retail price is USD 9995. But for the original model, Apple mematoknya in the price of USD 25,000.

Kamera Polaroid 20x24

Created for shooting studio, this is the first prototype Polaroid 20x24 camera. He bobbed in 1975.

Although his birth has been a long time but it still exists in some parts of the model in North America.

As the name implies, a camera that combines the design of furniture armoire and Volkswagen is producing the film size 20x24 inch.

For the price penyewaannya, he pegged from USD 1,500 per day.

Apple 1

Apple Lisa 1 prices previously mentioned nothing compared to Apple's first commercial product of this.

Debuting in 1976, he labeled the price of USD 666.66. Because it only produced a total of 200 units, then he entered the category of rare items.

At the last auction, the Apple 1 was sold for USD 213 000, or nearly $ 2 billion!

Original Darth Vader mask

Turning to science fiction films. Perhaps, this is a coveted item among the geek or the Star Wars lovers.

This mask is an original movie property so no wonder the price stunned the USD 115,000. If you want a costume too, so prospective buyers should spend about USD 250,000

ASUS introduces desktop series with the 3rd Generation Intel Core Processors

Press Release:

ASUS today announces a series of desktop PCs featuring the 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processor. Powerful and versatile, there is a desktop to cater to each type of user, with the ROG TYTAN CG8580 for the hardcore gamers, the CG8270 and CM6870 for the tech-savvy crowd, while the ET2411 and ET2701 All-in-One PC are for those looking for hassle-free PC entertainment.

These ASUS desktops also feature Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0; high definition graphics with DirectX® 11, and Intel® Quick Sync Video Technology. In addition, LucidLogix Virtu MVP accelerates graphics performance by up to 60% and triples video conversion speeds.

Supreme gaming with the ROG TYTAN CG8580
Featuring a stealth submarine-inspired design, the CG8580 houses the Intel® Core™ i7-3770K processor clocked at 4.6 GHz. It has a one-touch Turbo Gear button for instant overclocking without having to reboot or alter BIOS settings.

A NVIDIA GeForce GTX680 graphics card provides unprecedented 4-display capabilities with 3D Vision Surround plus one extra display. The CG8580 also features additions like 2GB GDDR5 video memory, GPU Boost which maximizes clock speed, and Adaptive Vertical Sync for optimized frame rates for true-to-life images at 2560 x 1600 resolutions. These are complemented by Dolby Surround Sound and a Xonar DX audio card for audio that is 35x cleaner than those offered by onboard codecs. In addition, twin 128 GB SATA 3 SSD with RAID 0 gives users four times greater data access speeds than generic HDDs.

A 5-way vent and liquid cooling system offer efficient and silent heat dissipation â€" perfect for marathon gaming sessions.

Smart Digi+ Technology works in tandem with the TurboV Processing Unit to give an exceptional increase in CPU overclocking performance and control; while Wi-Fi Go! provides multimedia streaming to portable devices such as smartphones, tablets, and notebooks.

Supreme home entertainment with the ET2411 and ET2701 All-in-One PCs
ASUS All-in-One PCs bring an added touch of aesthetic beauty when it comes to home entertainment.

The ET2411’s simple, precise lines result in an elegant space-saving design. A low-profile easel-inspired stand aids in cable management, ensuring a clutter-free workspace.

On top of that stand sits a 23.6” Full HD, LED-backlit display that is ideal for 16:9 videos in high definition (1920 x 1080). That visual performance comes by way of a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT630M graphics processor which easily handles the most intense loads. The addition of a Blu-ray drive adds another avenue through which users can enjoy multimedia entertainment.

When it comes to control, the ET2411 comes with a multi-touch interface that contributes to a more intuitive web surfing experience. It also features touch-enhanced software that allows users to easily browse through their music, video, and image files.

The iF Design Award-winning ET2701 features a 27” Full HD 1920 x 1080 LED display and a frameless ultra-slim design that is just 3cm at its edge and 7cm at its thickest part.

It features a 178Ëš wide view angle VA panel that provides crystal clear images from any angle. It sports the NVIDIA GT640M graphics processor that enables users to enjoy Blu-ray quality HD visuals on a large screen.

Both the ET2411’s and ET2701’s visual prowess are matched by their ability to reproduce life-like audio thanks to SonicMaster technology, where a finely-tuned digital signal processor reproduces every note in pristine clarity with zero distortion. DTS Surround Sensation™ technology ll enhances vocals and low frequency sounds to deliver a realistic 3D multi-channel listening experience through built-in speakers or headphones. To complete the experience, a tailor-made 10W subwoofer drums up deep rich bass.

The ET2411 and ET2701 can also double up as TVs or monitors. Plug N’ Play TV lets users plug a cable connection to watch TV, with users being able to switch channels through its accompanying remote control. The inclusion of HDMI and VGA input ports also lets these all-in-one PCs act as a 24” or 27” Full HD LED displays for a laptop or game consoles.

Superior multitasking and multimedia capabilities with the CG8270 and CM6870
The CG8270 and CM6870 both aim to provide users with unmatched gaming, multitasking, and multimedia capabilities.

These desktops deliver top-notch performance with 3D-enabled graphics, DirectX 11, Blu-ray, and 7.1 channel surround sound; while files can easily be shared through a rich array of input/output options like USB 3.0, SATA 6G, or the free 3GB of ASUS WebStorage space. External devices like smartphones, tablets, and cameras can also be recharged in double quick time by AI Suite II even when the PC is turned off.

The addition of ASUS Audio Maker also provides users with an audio suite in which they can easily cut, mix, and create their own songs even if they lack the technical knowhow. These audio clips can also be incorporated into songs and videos, which can then be shared online easily.

In spite of all this performance, system stability is not compromised thanks to Smart Cooling Technology, which lowers system temperatures by as much as 11.4°C while the Q-Fan intelligently adjusts CPU fan speeds according to system loads. The ASUS-exclusive Energy Processing Unit (EPU) reduces overall energy consumption by 40% when compared to other PCs. In addition, ASUS Instant On features a hotkey-enabled Eco mode that provides up to 98% in energy savings. Instant On also enables 2-second resume from sleep mode; while keeping data safe and secure.

Quality with style – No.1 Windows-based desktops in reliability and customer satisfaction
ASUS desktops reflect a tradition of the finest product quality, innovation, and longevity. Based on PCWorld USA’s 2011 and 2010 Reliability and Service surveys, users ranked ASUS as the leading choice for Windows® desktops both years, citing high satisfaction due to reliability, value, and quiet operation. ASUS desktops received further praise for performance, design, upgradability, and connectivity

The iF and Red Dot award-winning ROG TYTAN CG8580’s aggressive lines are inspired by the cutting-edge lines of submarines and stealth battleships; with each design element serving a specific function. It features a DEFCON indicator which informs the user of the system’s overclocking modes through a series of red and blue LEDs. It also features a mechanical gate which conceals the drive bays and hot swap HDDs.

The CG8270 features a sleek tower design which provides easy access to top IOs; the unique titled chassis design features an LED-backlit ASUS nameplate, brushed aluminum panel, large venting areas and is finished in high quality liquid paint. The CM6870 soft curves are inspired by the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai; its simple lines and polished black finish are designed to appeal to those with discerning taste.

With their ultra-slim, space-saving designs, the ET2411 and ET2701 All-in-One PCs provides a clutter-free workspaces, not to mention stunning audio visual capabilities.

Price and Availability: TBA

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Samsung takes the crown from Nokia and Apple

Gone is the 14 year supreme reign of Nokia in the mobile world, Samsung has the old king beat. With the announcement of their Q1 results, Samsung has shipped out 93.5 million phones in the previous three months, compared to 82.7 million from Nokia.

Of this shipment, 44.5 million were smartphones, which toppled Apple’s iPhone sales of 35.1 million. These two statistics combined makes Samsung the biggest phone and smartphone reseller in the world.

From these smartphone shipments, the Galaxy SII and Galaxy Note are the top sellers; the mobile division in total growing 86% year on year. Meanwhile their TV business grew by an insane 550%, raking in $9.4 billion.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pirate party makes a raid on German politics

BERLIN (AP) â€" Pirates are capturing Germany's political system.

The party with the outlaw name started as a marginal club of computer nerds and hackers demanding online freedom, but its appeal as an antiestablishment movement has lured many young voters to the ballot boxes, catapulting it into two state parliaments in less than a year.

Polls show the all-volunteer Pirates â€" who offer little ideology and focus on promoting their flagship policies of near-total transparency and an unrestricted Internet â€" as the country's third-strongest political force, leapfrogging over more established parties.

The tremendous success has doubled the Pirates' membership to 25,000, but it has also handed the party a crucial challenge set to dominate their convention starting Saturday: A party founded as a rebellious upstart must reckon with its new political power and its promise of a voice for all of its members.

As 2,000 members gathered in the northern Germany city Neumuenster to discuss the group's growth, new polls predicted it would win seats in two more state legislatures in May, with forecasters expecting them to secure about 9 percent of the vote in both states.

"Many vote for the Pirates as a sign of protest. It is not directed against democracy, but it's based on the unhappiness with the functioning of the established parties," said Alexander Hensel, a political scientist who studies the Pirates at the Goettingen Institute for Democracy Research.

Analysts say that despite the country's robust economy and low unemployment, many Germans â€" like others around the world â€" are disenchanted with the established parties, fueled by outrage over seeing the government bailing out banks and businesses to save the economy from collapsing in the wake of the financial crisis.

Thousands in Germany took to the streets last year in protest rallies supporting the worldwide Occupy movement, but it has now all but fizzled out â€" with the Pirates appearing to inherit the votes of the disenchanted.

While the mainstream parties in Europe's biggest economy are struggling to come up with a response to the continent's debt crisis, the Pirates cheerfully admit that they have no answer to the questions raised by the crisis. Nor do they have a stance on whether German troops should continue to fight in Afghanistan.

But many voters welcome their blunt acknowledgment as a sign of honesty in the political arena. Instead of taking a stand on the pressing issues that more mainstream parties are forced to address, the Pirates demand that public transportation be free of charge and that every citizen be paid a basic income without having to work.

"The Pirates are elected less because of what they stand for than by disappointment with the established parties and for their unconventional methods," Hensel said.

The party's core pledge of full transparency and participation â€" live transmission of all meetings and the online involvement of all party members in its decisions, countless Twitter debates and email chains â€" is reaching the limit of feasibility as the number of party members has mushroomed.

The question is: Will the Pirates change Germany's political system, or will the system crack the Pirates?

"The party is growing enormously. Integrating all those new members puts the party under great strain in terms of organization. They need to grow proper structures now and have a more professional leadership," Hensel said.

"A party run by volunteers has its limit," he added.

The party's outgoing managing director Marina Weisband collapsed last week between two television show appearances. She was briefly hospitalized, saying she was just heavily overworked. The 24-year-old has now joined the ranks of some top Pirates who advocate for having professional leaders running the party. Some are also proposing that the party's leaders should have a greater say in shaping the Pirates' policies.

But to grassroots Pirates, those calls amount to mutiny.

"The Pirates' opinion is created by the party members, not dictated by the chairman," party leader Sebastian Nerz said. "The individual's freedom stands at the top."

Recently, however, the party has been marred by a scandal over to handle the far-right past of some of its members, with many Pirates refusing to exclude anyone from the party in a bid to remain a fully open and inclusive party.

Soon enough, the party will have to have more professional politicians if pollsters are right: In North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany most populous state with 18 million inhabitants, the Pirates can expect to get 9 percent of the vote in mid-May, according to Emnid, which surveyed 1,001 people for Focus magazine this week.

Another poll for public broadcaster ARD published Friday equally found the party to secure about 9 percent of the vote in Schleswig-Hollstein state's May 7 election.

Pirate parties are now present in several European countries, but only in Germany have they skyrocketed to such success. In Sweden, where the movement originated, the party won 7 percent of the vote in European Parliament elections 2009 but less than 1 percent in national elections the next year, making it a marginal party, albeit with a strong voice on cyber issues.

Germany's political establishment at first did not take them serious at all. Now that they seem poised to be in four of the country's 16 state legislatures within a month, politicians can't ignore them any longer.

"They are an interesting appearance. And we don't know yet how that will develop," conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel told Saturday's edition of daily Leipziger Volkszeitung.


Juergen Baetz can be followed on Twitter at

Friday, April 27, 2012

Google Glass gets an official public debut

When Google announced its ambitious project Google Glass, the Internet went crazy over the demo video that showed a piece of eyewear that would feed information and alerts to a user through a small glass display in front of their right eye.

Though Google co-founder Sergey Thurn was spotted wearing a pair of the glasses at a charity event, yesterday was the first time we got to see the device and what it can do. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Sebastian Thurn who works at Google and is working on Project Glass demonstrated a simple use for the augmented eyewear – sharing photos. In the middle of the interview, Thurn taped a button on the glasses and took a photo of his interviewer. He then nodded to confirm that he wanted to share the photo with his friends on Google+.

Thurn says that the team are currently working with a variety of apps and uses, and one other use he said the glasses come in handy for was for hands-free email handling. I can have e-mails read to me, so overall it’s very liberating to me,” said Thrun.

Watch the full interview with Charlie Rose here.

House vote sets up Senate cybersecurity showdown

WASHINGTON (AP) â€" The House's solid bipartisan vote for a cybersecurity bill sends a message to the Senate: Now it's your turn to act.

Ignoring a White House veto threat, the House approved the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which would encourage companies and the federal government to share information collected on the Internet to help prevent electronic attacks from cybercriminals, foreign governments and terrorists.

The vote Thursday was 248-168, with 42 Democrats joining 206 Republicans in backing the measure.

Congressional leaders are determined to get a cybersecurity bill completed this election year but that may be difficult. The Obama administration and several leading Senate Democrats and Republicans want a bill that would give the Homeland Security Department the primary role in overseeing domestic cybersecurity and the authority to set security standards. The House bill would impose no new regulations on businesses, an imperative for Republicans.

In the coming weeks, the Senate will try to proceed on its bill by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, who have said the House bill is inadequate in protecting against cyberattacks. Senior Senate Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, argue that Homeland Security is ill-equipped to determine how best to secure the nation's essential infrastructure and has introduced his own bill.

Criticism of the administration's approach was echoed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"The White House believes the government ought to control the Internet, government ought to set standards and government ought to take care of everything that's needed for cybersecurity," Boehner told reporters Thursday. "They're in a camp all by themselves."

More than 10 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, proponents of the House bill cast it as an initial step to deal with an evolving threat of the Internet age.

The legislation would allow the government to relay cyber threat information to a company to prevent attacks from Russia or China. In the private sector, corporations could alert the government and provide data that could stop an attack intended to disrupt the country's water supply or take down the banking system.

Faced with widespread privacy concerns, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger of Maryland, the Intelligence panel's top Democrat, pulled together an amendment that limits the government's use of threat information to five specific purposes: cybersecurity; investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crimes; protection of individuals from death or serious bodily harm; protection of minors from child pornography; and the protection of national security.

The House passed the amendment, 410-3.

The White House, along with a coalition of liberal and conservative groups and some lawmakers, strongly opposed the measure, complaining that Americans' privacy could be violated. They argued that companies could share an employee's personal information with the government, data that could end up in the hands of officials from the National Security Agency or the Defense Department. They also challenged the bill's liability waiver for private companies that disclose information, complaining that it was too broad.

Echoing those concerns were several Republicans and Democrats who warned of potential government spying on its citizens with the help of employers.

"In an effort to foster information sharing, this bill would erode the privacy protections of every single American using the Internet. It would create a 'Wild West' of information sharing," said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas: "Until we protect the privacy rights of our citizens, the solution is worse than the problem."

Countering criticism of Big Brother run amok, proponents argued that the bill does not allow the government to monitor private networks, read private emails or close a website. It urges companies that share data to remove personal information.

"There is no government surveillance, none, not any in this bill," Rogers said.

Among the amendments the House approved was one by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that put certain personal information off-limits: library, medical and gun sale records, tax returns and education documents.

Nokia launches Asha series of phones in the Middle East

Nokia launched their Asha series of phones in Dubai yesterday. With the Asha set of handsets, Nokia plans on making data services available to the lower end of spectrum. With four models released that range in prices between AED 288 to AED 539, the Asha is certainly very affordable and with different form factors such as keypads, keyboards and touch screens, it should appeal to a wide range of consumers.

Present at the launch was Mr. Vithesh Reddy, General Manager, Nokia Lower Gulf. I would like to thank him for taking some time off to talk to me and explain what the Asha range means to Nokia and where they’re headed with it. Following the interview is the press release for the new series.

Press Release

Dubai, UAE: Nokia today announced the launch of the Asha range devices in the UAE which includes four new affordable smartphones that feature a stylish design and a rich social experience for people who want to work, play and connect. ‘Asha’ – derived from the Hindi word for ‘hope’ – will allow consumers to have access to a smartphone experience by being able to download apps, surf the web, check email, play games and chat at an affordable price point starting from AED 288.

“Nokia continues its mission to deliver high quality, stylish devices that provide the best access to social networks, the Internet and information, and also offer a great overall experience and value proposition for the next billion mobile phone users. These consumers want access to innovations such as easy-to-use dual-SIM, variety of engaging local apps, attractive and colorful designs and the superior user experience for which Nokia phones are known for,” said Vithesh Reddy, General Manager, Nokia Lower Gulf.

The Asha range, comprising of Nokia Asha 200, 300, 302 and 303, offers features such as QWERTY keyboard and ‘touch and type’ experiences, combined with fast and easy access to the Internet, integrated social networking, messaging and many relevant applications from the Nokia Store.

The Asha range includes:

Nokia Asha 200:
The Nokia Asha 200 is Nokia’s latest dual SIM phone with Easy Swap functionality, allowing consumers to easily change their second SIM without switching the device off. It is a fun and colorful QWERTY phone designed to meet the needs of young, urban consumers who want to constantly stay in touch. The Nokia Asha 200 features integrated social networking, email and IM, adding Orkut and Flickr support. Nokia Asha 200 makes it possible to carry thousands of songs with support for 32 GB memory cards and providing a battery for an amazing 52-hour playback time.

The retail price for the Nokia Asha 200 will be AED 288/- and is currently available at all leading electronic retail outlets including Nokia branded stores in the region.

Full specs:

Nokia Asha 300:
The beautifully designed Nokia Asha 300 is a touch device which also offers the convenience of a keypad. The Nokia Asha 300 has a powerful 1GHz processor and 3G to deliver a faster Internet and social networking experience. The Nokia Browser allows for fast, affordable and localized Internet access by compressing web pages by up to 90%.
Users will have fast access to messaging, email and instant messaging from the home screen and can swipe to access apps, music or games from the Nokia Store. The Nokia Asha 300 also arrives preloaded with the popular Angry Birds Lite game.

The Nokia Asha 300 comes with a 5 megapixel camera, a music player, FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity and can handle memory cards up to 32GB. The retail price for the Nokia Asha 300 will be AED 397/- and is currently available at all leading electronic retail outlets including Nokia branded stores in the region.

Full specs:

Nokia Asha 302:
The Nokia Asha 302 is Nokia’s first Series 40 phone to support Mail for Exchange, giving people access to their emails, contacts and calendar on an exchange server, delivering a true mobile office experience. That and a stylish QWERTY keyboard make it ideal for young entrepreneurs and professionals seeking a beautifully designed phone. Additionally, the Nokia Asha connects to popular social networks and enables chatting through Whatsapp and other IM services. The Nokia Asha 302 is powered by a 1-GHz processor and supports 3.5G data speeds. It is available now at all leading electronic retail outlets including Nokia branded stores in the region for AED 425/-.

Full specs:

Nokia Asha 303:
The Nokia Asha 303 is a stunning phone designed with sophisticated materials and metallic finishes. It combines a large 2.6” capacitive touch screen with a high quality QWERTY keypad. The Nokia Asha 303 is built with Internet and social networks ease in mind. The device harnesses a powerful 1Ghz engine, 3G and WLAN to deliver a fast Internet experience. Social networks, email and IM are at the center of the experience, easily accessible from the home screen. The Nokia Asha 303 is powered by the cloud-based Nokia Browser, which by compressing the web by up to 90%, provides higher speeds and a more affordable access to the Internet.

Entertainment and applications are also a core part of the Nokia Asha 303 offering. Angry Birds Lite, the popular mobile game, comes preinstalled, together with support for other globally relevant applications such as Facebook Chat, Whatsapp messaging and the latest release of Nokia Maps for Series 40 . The retail price for the Nokia Asha 303 will be AED 539/-, and is currently available at all leading electronic retail outlets including Nokia branded stores in the region.

Full specs:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nintendo sinks into loss on weak sales

TOKYO (AP) â€" Nintendo Co. sank into a 43.2 billion yen ($533 million) loss for the fiscal year just ended as weak sales of the Wii home console and the strong yen eroded earnings.

Kyoto-based Nintendo, once the star of video games with franchises like Pokemon and Super Mario, has seen its glory fade with the advent of smartphones that are wooing away casual gamers.

Nintendo, whose products compete against offerings from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp., acknowledged sales suffered because of the price cut on the 3DS during the fiscal year.

Such price cuts are relatively common to boost slow sales and try to make up in profit later from game software sales. But that strategy has chipped away at Nintendo's earnings.

Nintendo, which did not break down quarterly numbers, had reported a 77.6 billion yen profit the previous fiscal year.

But the company was upbeat about a turnaround on the back of the upgrade to its Wii called "Wii U," set to go on sale at the end of this year â€" critical because of year-end shopping revenue.

Nintendo also said it will continue pushing its online "Nintendo Network" service that will link players of the Wii U, which will come with a touch-screen controller, with those of its handheld Nintendo 3DS offering three-dimensional imagery.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has repeatedly denied smartphones are a threat to his business. In the past, Nintendo scored success by appealing to people who aren't hard-core gamers.

Iwata has said the company has learned from the mistakes of the 3DS launch and will do the Wii U launch right.

Nintendo's annual sales plunged 36 percent to 647.7 billion yen ($8 billion). That was worse than the company's earlier forecast at 660 billion yen ($8.1 billion) and the 670 billion yen ($8.3 billion) analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast.

Nintendo sold 9.8 million Wii machines over the fiscal year just ended, fewer than the 15 million it had sold the previous fiscal year, and below its initial hopes of selling 13 million machines.

It remained optimistic for the fiscal year through March 2013, and forecast sales of 10.5 million Wii machines.

Also damaging for Nintendo was a strong yen, which erodes the value of overseas earnings of Japanese manufacturers. The dollar dropped to 70 yen levels in recent months, although it has recently recovered to about 80 yen.

Nintendo stuck to its forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, to swerve back into the black at 20 billion yen ($247 million).


Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at

RIM launches Blackberry Mobile Fusion

Research In Motion today announced the availability of Blackberry Mobile Fusion in the region for the enterprise market. Mobile Fusion aims to provide administrators with greater control over devices in their organization, including the Blackberry, iOS, and Android platforms.

The Mobile Fusion platform consists of three services that can be run simultaneously or independently – Blackberry Enterprise Server provides familiar BES security and policies to secure Blackberry handsets, Blackberry Device Service allows for the management of Blackberry Playbooks and future Blackberry 10 devices, and Universal Device Service controls iOS and Android devices (both smartphones and tablets). The system also allows for enterprise OS upgrades and App deployment, and included Blackberry Balance for Playbook devices to allow both personal and corporate information and apps to run side by side without compromising on security.

Local ISPs du and Etisalat are gearing up to offer the Blackberry Mobile Fusion services to enterprise subscribers in coming weeks, along with pricing plans.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Smokey Bear becomes next space crew's mascot

STAR CITY, Russia (AP) â€" An American astronaut heading to the International Space Station has chosen Smokey Bear as his crew's mascot.

NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba said Wednesday that he hopes Smokey, the mascot of the United States Forest Service, would help raise public awareness about the dangers posed by forest fires.

He added that Smokey "makes people aware of human-caused fires and how important the natural environment is."

Acaba and his Russian crewmates Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin plan to blast off to the space station on May 15 from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet has left Russia's Soyuz spacecraft as the only means to deliver crews to the space outpost.

Acaba said the Soyuz spacecraft "has a great history of being reliable."

"Of course, the landing will be a little bit different than we used to on the Shuttle, but I think we are mentally prepared for that," Acaba told a news conference at the Star City cosmonaut training center outside Moscow before leaving for Baikonur.

Several private U.S. companies are competing for the right to carry astronauts into orbit.

One of them, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, is on track to launch the first commercial ship to the International Space Station. The Dragon spacecraft is set to be launched next month atop the company's Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral. It will carry nonessential cargo of clothing, food, computers and science equipment to the station.

The capsule is designed to return to Earth with a full load as well, something none of the other visiting cargo ships â€" from Russia, Europe and Japan â€" can do. NASA wants to save money by bringing back old equipment that can be refurbished and then launched back up into space.

HP launches ENVY 14 Spectre notebook

HP today announced the launch of its ENVY 14 Spectre notebook, which features some rather impressive use of glass. Rather than encasing the laptop in metal or plastic, HP have opted to use a scratch-resistant glass on the lid, display, and palmrest of the laptop, giving it a distinctive look and style.

“Sleek, midnight black glass on the outside and stark contrast silver on the inside make Spectre extraordinary, defying conventional notebook design,” said Louis Perrin, director, consumer products, Personal Systems Group, HP EMEA. “We chose the name for our first ENVY Ultrabook to evoke mystery and to satisfy those who expect the unexpected.”

Featuring a full backlit keyboard, Beats Audio, a 128GB SSD and the latest Intel processors, the ENVY 14 Spectre is sure to turn heads wherever you go. It is now available at select retailers at a price of AED 5,599.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google Drive Offer Data Storage in the 'Cloud'

Google launched a new service called Google Drive. Based services or cloud computing cloud computing allows users to store photos, documents and videos on Google's servers so they can be accessed with a web-connected devices and can be shared easily.

For example, if users want to send emails recorded with Android smartphone, then he can upload them to Google mobile applications Drive and send e-mail a link to the video. So no need to send a file too large. Software productivity is also integrated with Google Docs Drive.

"Today, we introduced Google Drive, a center where you can create, share, collaborate and store," said Sunda Picai, Senior Vice President of Chrome and Google Apps.

The presence of any rival rival Google Drive that had already been present in the cloud storage service market, such as Dropbox and Microsoft SkyDrive. Drive yourself initially offer up to 5GB of free storage.

Afterwards, the user can choose an upgrade for a fee. Namely 25GB and costs USD 2.49 per month, 100 GB with USD 4.99 per month and the largest up to 1 TB at a cost of USD 49.44 per month.

Current cloud services has become popular. Google itself is considered late for the service of this kind, but the presence of Google Drive can change the direction of the market.

"Facebook also do not have this service and the cloud (Google Drive-red) can lead them to make acquisitions," said Richard Edwards, an analyst at Ovum a quote from USAToday, Wednesday (04/25/2012).

New wireless subscribers down sharply at AT&T

NEW YORK (AP) â€" When Verizon Wireless started selling the iPhone, AT&T sounded a defiant note, saying that its customers would remain loyal. A year later, it's clear that the Verizon iPhone has crimped AT&T's stride.

Verizon had little problem attracting new customers before it started selling the iPhone. In fact, it was the only wireless carrier that managed to keep up with AT&T's iPhone-fueled growth.

But with the iPhone in its arsenal, the country's biggest wireless company is getting bigger, while No. 2 AT&T Inc.'s growth has slowed precipitously.

On Tuesday, AT&T revealed that it essentially gained no phone subscribers on contract-based plans in the first quarter. That's only happened once before: A year ago, when Verizon launched its version of the iPhone.

Contract-based plans are by far the most lucrative for a phone company, and the number of new customers is an important measure of growth.

AT&T gained a net 187,000 customers on contract-based plans in the January to March period, but these were almost all tablet users, brought in by the launch of the new iPad in March. Even on contract-based plans, tablet customers pay between $15 and $50 per month, whereas smartphone customers often pay more than $100.

By contrast, Verizon last week reported adding 501,000 subscribers on contract-based plans.

Over the last five quarters, Verizon has added nearly three times as many contract subscribers as AT&T. Over the previous two years, the rivals split new subscribers nearly evenly.

AT&T gained a net 726,000 subscribers of all kinds in the first quarter, counting ones on no-contract plans and ones on non-phone devices like the Kindle. That was the lowest figure in eight years, and less than a third of the number of subscribers added in the same period last year.

Weak subscriber figures are usually good for a phone company's earnings in the short term, since it doesn't have to subsidize new devices.

The Dallas-based company's net income for the January to March period was $3.6 billion, or 60 cents per share, up 5 percent from $3.4 billion, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts polled by FactSet were on average expecting earnings of 57 cents per share for the latest quarter.

In particular, AT&T saved money by selling fewer iPhones than analysts expected. AT&T subsidizes each new iPhone by hundreds of dollars, hoping to make the money back over time in the form of service fees.

AT&T said it activated 4.3 million iPhones in the first quarter. That was down from 7.6 million in the fourth quarter, when AT&T began selling the iPhone 4S. However, the number was still up from the 3.6 million iPhones AT&T sold in the same quarter a year ago.

Revenue was $31.8 billion, up 2 percent from a year earlier. It matched analyst expectations.

AT&T shares rose $1.11 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $31.72 in morning trading. The shares are close to a four-year high of $31.97 hit a month ago.

Apple Inc. shares fell on AT&T's report, as investors interpreted its iPhone sales as presaging bad news in Apple's earnings report, due after the market close Tuesday.

Apple shares were down $8.10, or 1.4 percent, to $563.81.

Windows 8 Release Preview to come in June

Microsoft is set to deploy a ‘release preview’ in the first week of June, as announced on the Building Windows 8 Twitter feed.

The Consumer Preview of Windows 8 came out back in February of this year, and a release preview is a near-complete version of the OS. Windows 8 has received both positive and negative views in the past few months, mostly over it’s new Metro interface. Still, the company is determined to make Windows 8 its flagship OS for both PCs and tablets, and is pushing forward to finalize the last few changes and bug fixes before the OS gears for shipping later this year.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Apple's squeeze hits phone companies, competitors

NEW YORK (AP) â€" Apple is set to report another record quarterly profit on Tuesday, continuing the relentless string of results that's made it the world's most valuable company. Those profits don't come out of thin air: A range of businesses â€"from the company's wireless carrier friends to its PC-making foesâ€" are seeing their profits melt away and flow to Apple's bottom line.

Apple's success is good for the U.S. economy, and some businesses, like software developers and memory-chip makers, have benefited from the disruption Apple is causing. But its enormous gains have resulted in others' pains, sometimes in unexpected places.

â€"AT&T Inc., for instance, took a chance on Apple's unproven phone in 2007, but the company might be regretting that decision. Since it became the first U.S. phone company to carry the iPhone, its stock is down 25 percent. Apple's is up 415 percent.

â€"Best Buy has sold Apple products off and on since the late 1990s, but analysts now see Apple as a major threat to the U.S.'s only remaining national big-box electronics chain.

â€"Worst off, of course, are rival phone makers. Apple has just 8 percent of the global phone market, but makes about 80 percent of the industry's operating profits.

Wall Street analysts expect Apple Inc. to post a profit of $9.2 billion for the January to March quarter when it reports on Tuesday. That's roughly in line with the profit expected from the world's largest oil company, Exxon Mobil Corp.

The majority of the profit will come from iPhone sales, especially now that three of the four national U.S. wireless carriers â€"AT&T, Sprint, and Verizonâ€" sell the phone.

But, for a phone company, selling an iPhone is a bit of a gamble. The company pays Apple an average of $659 for iPhones and then sells them to consumers for between $50 and $200.

The phone companies count on making their money back, and more, in monthly service fees over the life of a two-year contract. Each iPhone comes with a data plan that adds at least $30 to a consumer's monthly bill. At AT&T, the average iPhone user pays more than $100 per month.

It turns out, however, that some of the added income wireless carriers get from data plans is just compensating for a drop in what they're able to charge for calling minutes. The money is also eaten up by the cost of network upgrades to support all the data traffic â€" the emails, photos and YouTube videos iPhone users consume.

"The primary beneficiary of the growth in wireless data has been one company â€" Apple," says William Power, an analyst with R.W. Baird & Co.

Despite the smartphone boom created by Apple's iPhone, "free cash flow," or the cash left over every quarter after expenses and capital spending, hasn't grown at the major U.S. wireless companies since 2007, according to Power's calculations.

In the same period, Apple's free cash flow has grown more than sixfold, to over $40 billion last year.

There are signs that U.S. phone companies are starting to take countermeasures. Apple's stock has fallen 11 percent from its all-time high, in part because investors think the phone companies might start demanding lower prices from Apple or making it harder for consumers to buy iPhones at heavily discounted prices.

Already, the phone companies have tightened their phone upgrade policies, meaning existing subscribers have to wait longer before they're eligible for a new $200 iPhone, and raised or introduced phone upgrade fees, which now range from $18 to $36. They promote cheaper phones running Google Inc.'s Android software and more recently, Windows phones.

However, the phone companies may have limited leverage to change the economics of the iPhone.

AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are in a hotly competitive race. Each one is afraid to tighten policies or raise prices too much, lest subscribers jump to a competitor.

When Verizon started selling the iPhone last year, AT&T's CEO vowed to push Android phones because they're not as expensive to subsidize. But the company ended up selling more iPhones than ever.

Sprint Nextel Corp., the last of the big carriers to get the iPhone, is in a precarious financial position after many years of losses. Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett thinks there's a risk that the cost of selling the iPhone could push Sprint into bankruptcy.

Another partner struggling to deal with Apple's success is Best Buy Inc., the largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S.

"While Best Buy has enjoyed strong sales with Apple products, Apple has benefited more," Daniel Binder, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote last month.

Apple's own stores compete with Best Buy, and as Apple products win out over others, consumers become more likely to shop at Apple stores. Binder downgraded Best Buy a year and a half ago, saying the iPad would cut into PC sales. That trend has been even stronger than he expected, he says.

Best Buy stores sell less than $1,000 in merchandise per square foot per year, according to research firm RetailSales. Apple stores sell more than six times as much, a record for the U.S. retail sector.

If Apple does release a TV set this year, as has been rumored, that would be even worse news for Best Buy, Binder says.

Although Apple is only the world's third largest phone maker, behind Nokia and Samsung, it is pummeling rival phone makers, as well. Apple doesn't make inexpensive phones at all, which should leave plenty of room for other phone makers.

But that's somewhat of an illusion. Cheap phones have become commodity products, with fierce competition and low margins, so most phone makers are looking to smartphones for profits. But that's exactly where Apple dominates. As the world's largest buyer of chips, the company has a massive advantage in procuring components at the best prices, and consumers seem to favor the iPhone regardless of the features others use to jazz up their handsets.

High-end smartphones cost about $200 to make. Apple sells the iPhone for an average of $659. Other manufacturers sell competing phones for between $300 and $400.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkely estimates that if you add up the operating profits made by the world's eight largest phone makers in the last three months of last year, you'll find that the iPhone accounts for 80 percent of the money.

Walkley believes Apple is set to take an even larger share of those earnings this year.

Most of the profits left over are going to Samsung Electronics Co., the Korean company that makes the popular Galaxy S line of smartphones. For now, Samsung looks like the one competitor that's able to thrive in an industry dominated by Apple.

Nokia Corp., the world's largest maker of phones, has taken the drastic step of ditching its whole smartphone family and betting instead on phones that run on Microsoft's new Windows software. Nokia shares have lost nearly 90 percent of their value since the 2007 debut of the iPhone. Its sales fell 23 percent, and it posted a large loss last year.

The consumer electronics industry is suffering at the hands of Apple, too. As consumers use iPhones and iPads to do things that once required camcorders, cameras and GPS devices, sales of these devices are shrinking. Smartphones and tablets are sucking up the consumer dollars, says Steve Bambridge, research director at U.K.-based GfK.

In the U.S., Apple's computers and other devices accounted for 19 percent of all the spending on consumer electronics in the holiday season, according to NPD Group. That's a tripling in two years.

The trend is particularly rough on the Japanese companies that once ruled consumer electronics.

Last month, Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei ranked Apple the top consumer brand in the country, up from 64th place three years ago.

The top Japanese electronics brand, Panasonic, moved down from a No. 3 spot last year to No. 7. Sony and Nintendo didn't even make the top ten in their home country.

Sony has taken a particularly hard beating, since it competes with Apple on many fronts: music players, digital music sales, phones, portable gaming devices and PCs. It doesn't compete with Apple in TVs, but that's a terrible business in its own right, and a big money-loser.

Sony is projecting a massive loss for the fiscal year that ended three weeks ago. It's been in the red the last three years as well. Last week, it said it would cut 10,000 jobs, or 6 percent of its workforce.

U.S. PC makers like Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. aren't doing as badly as Sony, but Apple's success is coming out of their pockets too.

Sales of Windows PC are holding up well globally, as households and businesses in the developing world are getting their first computers. But they're shrinking in the U.S., as customers turn to Macs and, to a lesser extent, iPads instead.

HP, the world's largest maker of PCs, said last year that it would get rid of its PC division, but later backtracked. In its most recent report, it said sales were down 15 percent from a year ago.

PC makers have been trying to replicate Apple's success with the iPad, but have so far failed. They're now waiting for a new version of Microsoft's Windows to give them another shot. Windows 8, due this fall, is geared toward touch-sensitive screens.


Peter Svensson can be reached at

Chinese court seeking to mediate iPad dispute

SHANGHAI (AP) â€" A Chinese court is mediating between Apple Inc. and the Chinese company challenging its right to use the iPad trademark, seeking to get the companies to settle an awkward standoff over the issue.

The Guangdong High Court in southern China, is seeking to arrange a settlement, said Ma Dongxiao, a lawyer for Proview Electronics Co. The court on Feb. 29 began hearing Apple's appeal of lower court ruling that favored Proview in the trademark dispute.

"It is likely that we will settle out of court. The Guangdong High Court is helping to arrange it and the court also expects to do so," Ma said Monday.

China has sought to showcase its determination to protect trademarks and other intellectual property, but with hundreds of thousands employed in the assembly of Apple's iPhones and iPads is unlikely to want to disrupt the company's production and marketing in China.

Court officials contacted by phone said they were not authorized to comment on the issue to foreign media.

The Shenzhen Special Zone Daily, a state-run newspaper in Shenzhen, where Proview is based, cited the court's deputy chief judge, Xu Chunjian, as saying last week that the court was working toward a settlement.

Proview, a financially troubled maker of computer displays and LED lights, says it registered the iPad trademark more than a decade ago. Apple says Proview sold it worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 2009, though the registration was never transferred for China.

"Actually Proview always expected to settle out of court from the beginning," Ma said. "I don't know if Apple has changed its attitude, but I believe that the key point now is the price."

Chinese courts often try to mediate agreements out of court. But it is unclear whether Apple is open to that option.

An Apple spokeswoman, Carolyn Wu, said the company had no new comment on the possibility of a settlement with Proview.

In a statement, Apple reiterated its earlier insistence that it would never "knowingly abuse someone else's trademarks."

The statement adds that Proview "still owe a lot of people a lot of money, they are now unfairly trying to get more from Apple for a trademark we already paid for."


Researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report.


Follow Elaine Kurtenbach on Twitter:

HP introduces the Z1 Workstation in the Middle East

With much fan fare and a host of partners, HP introduced their Z1 workstation in the Middle East. The 27″ All-in-one Z1 is a pretty impressive machine with it’s modular structure allowing you to upgrade components with ease- something that is not necessarily common amongst all-in-one designs. Although with the impressive base configuration of the Z1, you probably won’t be looking into changing much under the hood. At the event was Yn Bergeron from HP who introduced us to the Z1.

Press Release

HP today unveiled the world’s first all-in-one workstation with a 68.6 cm (27”) diagonal display.

Designed like no other, the display of the new HP Z1 Workstation snaps open so users can easily swap out parts and make upgrades without any tools required.
The HP Z1 combines a sleek industrial design with accelerated performance featuring Intel Xeon processors, NVIDIA Quadro graphics, support for more than 1 billion colors and HP’s world-class reliability.

Built for computer-aided design, digital media, entertainment, architects, education and independent professionals, the HP Z1 provides blazingly fast rendering and performance. It offers a full range of workstation-class graphics cards and processors, and is thoroughly tested and certified to work with today’s leading industry applications.

Whether it’s an engineer creating 3-D components, an architect designing buildings, a videographer editing event footage or photographer finishing photo shots, the HP Z1 gives creative professionals the power they need to bring ideas to life faster.

“The revolutionary HP Z1 creates a new category of workstations elevating the standard for design, performance, upgradability and serviceability,” said Kobi Elbaz, director, Client Solutions, HP Personal Systems Group EMEA. “With its game-changing design and an experience that optimizes visual and computing performance, the HP Z1 will help attract new customers and expand our market leadership.”

Workstation performance without compromise

Workstation performance. Features professional NVIDIA Quadro graphics, ECC memory, quad-core Intel Xeon processors independent software vendor solutions and whisper-quiet acoustics.

Tool-less chassis. Users can easily add a hard drive, upgrade memory or access the graphics card by snapping open the chassis to swap out parts.

Workstation-class storage. Users can choose from a variety of storage types, including 7.2K and 10K SATA, SSD, optional RAID configurations, removable drives (AMO), a multiformat media card reader and optical drives including a slot-load Blu-ray Writer.

Professional display. The 68.6 cm (27”) white LED display supports more than 1 billion colors(3) and features a wide, 178-degree viewing angle and an in-plane switching (IPS) panel.

High-fidelity audio. Front-facing dual-cone speakers and SRS Premium Sound offer high-fidelity audio.

HD Webcam. Have face-to-face meetings and see every detail right down to the twinkle of an eye. Also captures HD-quality video.

HP Remote Graphics Software. Users can work remotely while still accessing the high-performance 2-D, 3-D, video and media-rich applications they count on.

HP Performance Advisor. Reduces the time spent troubleshooting by providing a consolidated report of the workstation’s hardware and software configuration that can be used to tune the workstation for specifically professional application workloads with just one click.

Pricing and availability
The new HP Z1 Workstation is expected to be available worldwide in April. Pricing starts at USD 2249.

Adobe to launch new software suite for designers

NEW YORK (AP) â€" Adobe is launching the latest version of its software package for designers and Web developers.

Adobe Systems Inc. is set to announce CS6 on Monday at an event in San Francisco. Creative Suite 6 includes Photoshop, Illustrator and other programs aimed at designers.

Unlike previous versions, which came shrink-wrapped in a box, Creative Suite 6 will be available on a monthly subscription basis as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud offering. Subscriptions will start at $50 a month for those who sign up for a year. Subscribers will be able to download programs such as Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator, store their work online and share files with others.

This will likely make the pricey software package more desirable to new customers who may not want to shell out thousands of dollars upfront.

Scott Morris, a senior marketing director at Adobe, compared the new pricing policy to the company's decision nearly a decade ago to start selling its design-software products in one package. The result then was higher sales, and Adobe hopes to replicate that success with its new revenue model.

Customers will still be able to buy CS6 as a packaged software suite, just as they can still buy the programs separately. Prices for CS6 range from $275 for the cheapest upgrade to $2,599 for the full "Master Collection."

Adobe's Creative Solutions business, which is responsible for Creative Suite, accounts for the bulk of the company's revenue.

Skype comes to Windows Phone

Skype is now officially available for the Windows Phone platform, replacing the beta app that was launched at the end of February.

The Skype for Windows app works over Wi-fi and 3G, and allows users to search for contacts and call landlines. A downside however is that the app doesn’t run in the background, so you are only able to make and receive calls only if you’re in the Skype app. Microsoft is looking to integrate Skype more thoroughly when Windows 8 hits the mobile sphere, but chances are that it will again bundle as a standalone app rather than being a seamless integration with the OS.

Skype is already available for Android, iOS, and Blackberry platforms, so it’s a no-brainer that they would choose to finally push a stable version to the Windows Phone market.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

MIT geniuses play Tetris – on a building

There are many things in life that I am proud to have accomplished. Graduate? Check. Sky-dive? Check. Fly around the world playing with gadgets for a living? Check. Play Tetris on the side of a building? Wait, what?

That’s exactly what the brilliant minds over at MIT did this weekend by turning the campus’s Green Building (that houses the MIT Earth and Planetary Sciences department) into a fully-playable Tetris game.

It’s clearly the weirdest hack you’ll ever see, and also one that has been on the drawing board for a while. The hack scrolled the word ‘Tetris’ across the building before launching into a new game. So clearly both brainpower and money are being put to good use here.

Check out the fuzzy but awesome gameplay video below:

(via MIT)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A divided Congress confronts a rising cyberthreat

WASHINGTON (AP) â€" The mysterious caller claimed to be from Microsoft and offered step-by-step instructions to repair damage from a software virus. The electric power companies weren't falling for it.

The caller, who was never traced or identified, helpfully instructed the companies to enable specific features in their computers that actually would have created a trapdoor in their networks. That vulnerability would have allowed hackers to shut down a plant and thrown thousands of customers into the dark.

The power employees hung up on the caller and ignored the advice.

The incident from February, documented by one of the government's emergency cyber-response teams, shows the persistent threat of electronic attacks and intrusions that could disrupt the country's most critical industries.

The House this coming week will consider legislation to better defend these and other corporate networks from foreign governments, cybercriminals and terrorist groups. But deep divisions over how best to handle the growing problem mean that solutions are a long way off.

Chief among the disputes is the role of the government in protecting the private sector.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups oppose requiring cybersecurity standards. Rules imposed by Washington would increase their costs without reducing their risks, they say.

Obama administration officials and security experts say companies that operate power plants, communication systems, chemical facilities and more should have to meet performance standards to prove they can withstand attacks or recover quickly from them.

The rift echoes the heated debate in Washington over the scope of government and whether new regulations hamper private businesses.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday that without standards for critical industries, there will be gaps that U.S. adversaries can exploit. "That system, which is mostly in private hands, needs to all come up to a certain baseline level," she said.

The proposed formation of a system that allows U.S. intelligence agencies and the private sector to share information about hackers and the techniques they use to control the inner workings of corporate networks also is contentious.

Civil libertarians and privacy advocates worry that a bill written by the Republican chairman and top Democrat on the House intelligence committee would create a backdoor surveillance system by giving the secretive National Security Agency access to private sector data.

The agency, based at Fort Meade, Md., is in charge of gathering electronic intelligence from foreign governments but is barred from spying on Americans. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA's director, also heads the Pentagon's Cyber Command, which protects military networks.

"The question is whether this is a cybersecurity bill or an intelligence bill," said Leslie Harris, president of the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology. "There is just a fundamental debate over what role the National Security Agency should have in protecting civilian networks."

Intelligence agencies say the bill grants no new power to the NSA or the Defense Department to direct any public or private cybersecurity programs. But committee leaders said they are open to making changes to ease the privacy concerns as long as the alterations don't undermine the goals of the bill.

Businesses including Facebook and the Edison Electric Institute support the bill because it leaves it to individual companies and industries to decide how best to prevent attacks.

House Republicans last week scaled back a separate piece of legislation that would have given the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies responsibility for ensuring that critical industries met security performance standards. But those requirements were dropped from the bill during a meeting of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Rep. Jim Langevin, co-chairman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said the bill was "gutted" because the House Republican leadership sided with business interests opposed to regulations. "We cannot depend on the good intentions of the owners and operators of infrastructure to secure our networks," said Langevin, D-R.I.

The GOP-led House appears to be heading for a showdown with the Democratic-run Senate over an approach on cybersecurity.

A bill sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, would give Homeland Security the authority to establish set security standards. Their bill is backed by the Obama administration but it remains stalled in the Senate.

The legislation faces stiff opposition from senior Senate Republicans.

Arizona's John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said during a hearing last month that the Homeland Security Department is "probably the most inefficient bureaucracy that I have ever encountered" and is ill-equipped to determine how best to secure the nation's essential infrastructure. McCain has introduced a competing bill.

There is little disagreement over damage from cyberattacks.

China and Russia are the most proficient at cyber-espionage, according to U.S. officials who last year accused the two countries of being "aggressive and capable collectors of sensitive U.S. economic information and technologies."

Rear Adm. Samuel Cox, Cyber Command's director of intelligence, said U.S. adversaries are developing cyberweapons at a rapid pace. Unlike the traditional tools of war, there is no technological ceiling for cyberweapons that can cause computers to crash or become hijacked remotely and lead to serious economic damage.

"There is no end in sight," Cox said. "It's not like, 'Well, they're going to reach a limit as to how bad these things could be.'"

If the House intelligence committee's bill becomes law, companies could get "cyberthreat" information and intelligence from the government that would allow them to identify hackers by their electronic signatures and Internet addresses. With that data, which is collected by the NSA, businesses could block attacks or stop them before they do serious damage. Companies would be encouraged to give the government information about attacks but there is no requirement to do so.

The bill would exempt companies that act "in good faith" from liabilities that might come from protecting their own networks or sharing information with the government.

But one expert on the computer systems that monitor and control power grids, oil refineries and chemical plants said critical industries won't provide federal agencies with much because they don't trust the government. Joe Weiss, a nuclear engineer and managing partner of the consulting firm Applied Control Solutions, said another catch is that few companies do the forensic work necessary to understand why a failure occurred and whether it was an attack or simply a software malfunction.

"What information are you going to share," Weiss said, "when you don't even know you've had a problem?"


Associated Press writer Alicia Caldwell contributed to this report.


On the Net:

House intelligence committee:

National Security Agency:

Friday, April 20, 2012

IOS and Android Have Instagram, BlackBerry Got Instigram!

If the IOS operating system and applications have Instagram Android, BlackBerry users may be a little relieved by the presence of an application called Instigram.

Yes, you did not misread. His name is so, Instigram. I know it is different with Instagram, but at least can also share photos via Twitter and Facebook.

Maybe that was previously made ​​using the application developer JaredCo ShareIt, had known of this application. The real reason is that now the application ShareIt renamed Instigram.

How it works is quite simple Instigram. Simply capture an image, then just enter your Twitter account or Facebook to share the photos.

To upload photos to this Instigram can be directly executed through the menu on the BlackBerry. From the home screen just press menu, then select Instigram photo.

This free application can be downloaded from BlackBerry App World

German rules against YouTube in rights case

BERLIN (AP) â€" A German court has ruled that online video platform YouTube must install filters to prevent users from uploading some music videos whose rights are held by a music-royalties collecting body.

German news agency dapd reported that the Hamburg state court on Friday mostly sided with Germany's GEMA, which represents about 60,000 German writers and musicians.

GEMA took Google Inc.'s YouTube unit to court over 12 temporarily uploaded music videos for which no royalties were paid.

YouTube has maintained that it bears no legal responsibility for the uploaded content â€" saying it checks and sometimes blocks content when users alert the firm about alleged violations of laws.

It was not immediately clear whether the ruling will be appealed.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BERLIN (AP) â€" A German court is set to rule on whether the online video platform YouTube is responsible for the content of videos uploaded by its users.

GEMA, a German music royalties collecting body, took Google Inc.'s YouTube unit to the Hamburg state court over 12 uploaded music videos for which no royalties were paid.

YouTube maintains that it bears no legal responsibility for the uploaded content â€" saying that it checks and sometimes blocks content when users alert the firm about alleged violations of laws.

A ruling Friday in favor of GEMA could be a major blow for YouTube because experts say that millions of videos on its platform could be affected.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nokia posts $1.2 billion Q1 loss as sales plunge

HELSINKI (AP) â€" Struggling cellphone maker Nokia Corp. blamed tougher-than-expected competition, particularly in the smartphone market, for a huge €929 million ($1.2 billion) net loss in the first three months of the year.

The loss, reported Thursday, compared with a profit of €344 million in the equivalent period a year earlier and came as revenues slid 30 percent to €7.4 billion from €10.4 billion in 2011.

The result represents one of the company's worst ever quarters and came as it faced stiff competition from the likes of Apple Inc.'s iPhone and handset makers using Google Inc.'s popular Android software â€" such as Samsung Electronics Inc. and HTC of Taiwan

The Finnish company said net sales of devices crashed 40 percent to €4.2 billion, with smartphone sales down by more than half to €1.7 billion. It also issued a fairly grim outlook and the company's share price fell 4 percent to €2.90 ($3.80) in Helsinki.

Nokia said operating margins in the second quarter would be "similar to, or below the first quarter 2012 level of negative 3 percent," and that it would speed up a cost cutting goal of €1 billion by 2013.

Further details would emerge "as quickly as possible," Nokia said.

CEO Stephen Elop conceded Nokia had faced "greater than expected competitive challenges" and some challenging markets, including Britain.

"We exceeded expectations in markets including the United States but establishing momentum in certain markets ... has been more challenging," he said. "We are navigating through a significant company transition in an industry environment that continues to evolve and shift quickly."

Nokia also said Colin Giles, head of global sales since January 2010, will leave the company as it restructures the sales unit, "reducing a layer of sales management."

Nokia has been the leading handset maker since 1998, but after reaching a global goal of 40 percent market share in 2008, its share had shrunk to below 29 percent last year.

There are now expectations that Nokia will soon lose its status as the biggest maker of handsets.

"This was definitely one of Nokia's worst quarters ever," said Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics. "Nokia's problem in developed markets is spreading to developing markets and that is causing a lot of their challenges. I think we'll see Samsung overtaking Nokia as the biggest volume maker of handsets."

Mawston reckons Nokia's global market share fell to some 22 percent in the first quarter with smartphone share plunging to a record-low of 8 percent.

The former bellwether of the industry has lost its dominant position against the likes of Apple and Google in the growing smartphone segment. It has also been squeezed in the low-end by Asian manufacturers making cheaper phones, such as China's ZTE.

Nokia hopes to remedy its slide with the new Windows Phone 7, launched in October, eight months after Elop announced a partnership with Microsoft Corp. Nokia says the Windows operating system will be the main platform in its new phones, phasing out the MeeGo and Symbian platforms, considered clumsy by many operators.

Nokia has since launched several versions of Windows-based Lumia phones. Its cheapest â€" the Lumia 610 â€" was unveiled Thursday for Asian markets with an expected price tag of some €190 ($249).

Still, sales of smartphones dropped to 12 million in the first quarter, from 24 million a year earlier, while volume sales of cellphones fell to 83 million from 108 million in 2011.

Elop, who described the first-quarter as disappointing, said Nokia had sold more than 2 million Windows-based Lumia phones in the first quarter and that it had a "clear sense of urgency to move our strategy forward even faster."

In 2011, Nokia announced more than 10,000 layoffs to lower expenses and has not ruled out more cutbacks.

The company has said it would not provide annual targets for 2012 since it was in a "year of transition."

It said operating margins in the network operations â€" called Nokia Siemens Networks â€" would "clearly improve in the second quarter 2012 compared to the first quarter 2012 level of negative 5 percent," but it gave no figures.

Last year, Nokia was still the world's top cellphone maker with annual unit sales of some 419 million devices, but in the last quarter of the year it posted a net loss of €1.07 billion, a marked reverse from the 745 million profit a year earlier.

Nokia stock has fallen by half since Elop announced the deal with Microsoft, and it dropped to a 15-year low of €2.98 earlier this week after Moody's ratings agency downgraded its debt grade to near junk status.

Galileo sets your iPhone in motion

Ever wish that you could properly use your iPhone for a video conference? Or maybe for some awesome time-lapse photography?

Well a little KickStarter campaign is out to change that with Galileo, a robotic iOs controlled device that offers infinite rotation capability for your iPhone. You simply slide your iPhone into Galileo, and then control it with an iPad or another iOS enabled device.

The introduction video on the campaign page looks promising – while I don’t think you want to be sliding your iPhone under a car to check for oil leaks, it certainly will improve things for video conferencing, spying on your kids, and taking some great photos from otherwise difficult angles.

The project set out to raise $100,000 of funding, but has already reached a staggering $597,500 with funding to end by this weekend. Check out the video and project page here – for a backing of $85 you can get your hands on a Galileo when they hit production.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Google CEO Page returns to stand in Oracle trial

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â€" Google CEO Larry Page returned to the witness stand Wednesday in Oracle's patent and copyright case against the Internet search leader over its popular Android operating system for phones and tablet computers.

Page sported a suit and a tie, a departure from his usual casual attire. The Oracle lawyer questioning him was David Boies, who had gone after Bill Gates in the federal government's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp.

Page testified briefly on Tuesday as Oracle's witness before the court recessed for the day.

The dispute in U.S. District Court in San Francisco is over whether Google Inc. built its widely used Android software by improperly taking some of the technology from Java, a programming platform that Oracle Corp. now owns.

On Tuesday, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison acknowledged he wanted to compete against Android in the smartphone market before deciding instead to sue his potential rival for copyright and patent infringement.

Google sought in opening statements to frame the case as Oracle's response to its own failure to build mobile software.

Android now powers more than 300 million smartphones and tablet computers.

The trial began Monday and was expected to last up to 10 weeks.

AOC launches new monitor e1649Fwu

Press Release:

AOC, part of Taiwan based TPV Technology Limited, and the largest display manufacturer in the world, today announced the launch of its new monitor e1649Fwu, an ultra-light, super slim, 15.6” WLED USB Monitor, a must have laptop accessory in the Middle East and Africa region.

The neatly designed lightweight USB monitor comes with a flexi stand that rotates by 90 degrees to accommodate portrait or landscape mode and instantly transforms into a digital photo frame or presentation display, further enhancing its value as an extension of display capability for every PC.

 The screen features a 1366×768 resolution, 500:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 5ms response time and 200 cd/m2 of brightness. It is supported on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OS X.

AOC e1649Fwu comes with Power-Saving feature for environmental protection and uses WLED backlight technology to reduce power consumption up to 50% compared to traditional CCFL displays, so it draws less than 8W in operation and below 1W when idle, minimising the electronic burden on notebook batteries.

Suchit Kumar, Vice President, Sales MENA & CIS Central Asia, AOC, says, “The market for extended displays is growing rapidly, and our new USB monitor provides a perfect solution for multi-screen computing with its low power consumption, cord independence and highly competitive price. AOC e1649Fwu offers a great opportunity to all our channel partners to rapidly tap into this growing market segment.”


Key features for AOC e1649Fwu:

  • Contrast Ratio (Typical)                 – 500:1 (DCR)
  • Viewable Image Size                      – 39.49cm
  • Screen Size                                         – 15.6″ W
  • Display Colour                                   – 262K
  • Viewing Angles                                 – 90/50 (CR≥10)
  • Response Time (Typical)                               – 8ms
  • Input Signal                                        -  USB
  • Input Connector                               – micro USB
  • Power Supply                                    – PC USB 5V
  • Power Consumption                      – Power On: <8W (max.), Standby: <1W
  • Operation Systems                         – Windows 7/Windows Vista/ Windows XP
  • Cabinet Colour                                  – Black

Pricing Warranty and availability: The price for the AOC e1649Fwu WLED USB monitor is US$ 109 and it comes with 3 years local warranty. The monitor is available across the Middle East and Africa region.