Sep 12, 2009

60-Day Satisfaction Guarantee From GM

Here’s an interesting development from General Motors, they’ve decided to offer a “60-Day Satisfaction Guarantee” on new cars purchased. It’s more than a warranty, and the full details have not been released by The General yet, but it’s an interesting idea. Will other car manufacturers follow GM’s lead on this, or will it be seen as a sign of desperation to win over car buyers?

GM is calling it the ‘May the Best Car Win’ marketing effort, and they’re hoping it will show the car company’s confidence in the quality and durability of its cars and trucks. Head Automoblog guy Chris noticed an interesting wrinkle right off the bat. He noticed that the guarantee is for “between 31-60 days” and not “within 60 days,” and speculated that provision is there to give buyer’s remorse some time to wear off.

That could very easily be, and also why someone hasn’t done something like this before. You could see waves of returns due to bad press for example, causing huge losses only to have the negative press turn out to be erroneous or some such.

Anyway, GM says that “The guarantee allows customers to return their vehicle to their dealer between 31 and 60 days of purchase and receive a refund of the purchase price for the vehicle.” Strange gap aside, that is a pretty unprecedented offer from a car manufacturer.

The Cadillac SRX and CTS Wagon, the Buick LaCrosse, the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, for instance, are all outstanding new products. This new marketing effort should help us communicate these facts to consumers,” according to the GM vice chairman, Marketing and Communications.

Lutz also went on to say that “We will stand behind them both in the short-term and over the long haul.”

The current list of details goes something like this:

It applies to 2009 and 2010 Model Year Chevys, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs (except medium duty trucks), and is limited to one per household. There’s that “between 31 and 60 days” thing, and the car has to have less than 4,000 miles. you have to take delivery by November 30 of this year and the Satisfaction Guarantee covers the vehicle purchase price and sales tax, but not other add-ons like accessories, negative equity on a trade-in or other fees. And leased vehicles are not included.

American Air in JAL tie-up, investment talks: report

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The parent company of American Airlines (AMR.N) is in talks to set up a broad venture with Japan Airlines Corp (9205.T) in a deal that could see the U.S. carrier investing hundreds of millions of dollars in JAL, The Wall Street Journal cited sources as saying on Saturday.

AMR Corp has been in intensive negotiations for over a month to form a "far-reaching" joint venture with the Asian carrier and is willing to invest to secure an agreement, the Journal cited people familiar with the discussions as saying.

Any investment deal would give loss-making JAL, which posted 99 billion yen ($1.1 billion) of net losses in the April-June quarter, a much-needed capital infusion.

JAL is in talks with several carriers about a cash infusion, according to separate media reports.

Sources have told Reuters that Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), the world's largest carrier, is engaged in closed-door discussions to take a minority stake in the Asian carrier, to expand its global footprint.

On Saturday, Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, reported that JAL was also seeking a capital injection of several billion yen from Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA).

The Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday that Delta had proposed in late August a capital injection of 30 billion to 50 billion yen into JAL. But it cited an unnamed senior official at JAL as saying a tie-up with Delta would be difficult because the Japanese carrier has a partnership with American through the Oneworld alliance.

Delta and Air France-KLM are in the rival SkyTeam alliance.

JAL is headed for its second-straight annual loss this business year to March, hit by a downturn in travel and as it struggles to rein in costs.

It secured a 100 billion yen government-backed loan in June and is expected to ask for more financial assistance to help it restructure.

JAL is due to submit a restructuring plan by the end of the month.

(Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Gloves off as Cadbury fights Kraft's takeover bid

By Jonathan Sibun
The attack came in a letter from Roger Carr, Cadbury’s chairman, to Irene Rosenfeld, the chief executive and chairman of Kraft, which outlined the British company’s arguments for remaining independent.

The hard-hitting letter, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, will raise tensions between the two camps after Kraft’s bid for its UK rival was publicly rejected on Monday last week. Cadbury's market value rose 37pc over the week to £11.4bn following Kraft?s approach, initially valued at 745p a share

It is rare for large public companies to become embroiled in critical public exchanges and Mr Carr’s arguments will be seen as a direct criticism of Ms Rosenfeld’s running of Kraft.

While Kraft will be eager to keep its approach on friendly terms, Cadbury’s criticism could see it give up on efforts to agree to a friendly takeover and move forward with a hostile bid.

However, it is thought likely that it will first table a second, higher offer on friendly terms.

Mr Carr also played to concerns among Cadbury shareholders over Kraft’s decision to fund its bid with a mixture of its own shares and cash.

“Your proposal is for Cadbury shareholders to exchange shares in a pure-play confectionery business for cash and shares in Kraft, a company with a considerably less focused business mix and historically lower growth,” Mr Carr said.

While Kraft’s offer led to speculation that Nestlé, the Swiss consumer goods giant, or Hershey’s, the US chocolate maker, could make a rival bid for Cadbury, the two have so far remained silent.

Reports were circulating last night that Hershey’s had held discussions with a US private equity firm to consider a rival offer but the reports remain speculative.

Under chief executive Todd Stitzer, Cadbury has focused on slimming down operations, most recently spinning off its US beverages business in May last year.

Referring to the strategy, Mr Carr said being “absorbed into Kraft’s low-growth, conglomerate business model” was “an unappealing prospect which contrasts sharply with our strategy to be a pure-play confectionery company.”

Mr Carr also pointed to the 7.1pc decline in Kraft’s share price since news of the offer became public. The value of Kraft’s bid has fallen from £10.2bn to £9.6bn.

Meanwhile, Cadbury’s market value rose 37pc over the week to £11.4bn following Kraft’s approach, initially valued at 745p a share.

“The proposal is of uncertain value for Cadbury shareholders as underlined by the movement in the Kraft share price since your announcement,” Mr Carr wrote.

Cadbury’s chairman also responded to Ms Rosenfeld’s suggestions that Cadbury lacked the size to compete on a global scale.

The company has “a clear set of targets” and “a track record of delivery accepted by the market,” Mr Carr said.

“We have the scale, capabilities and resource to deliver on our commitments to shareholders.”

Analysts have backed the industrial logic of Kraft’s bid, but believe a bid of more than 850p will be needed to secure talks with Cadbury.

Kraft declined to comment last night.

Sep 11, 2009

Faster AT&T 3G on its way, slowly

Since I got my iPhone 3GS a couple of months ago, I've been wondering when I would really benefit from its highly anticipated faster 3G capability. I finally got the answer, and as it turns out, the wait is far from over.

AT&T announced Wednesday details of its rollout plans for High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 3G technology. This is the next generation of 3G, and it offers up to 7.2Mbps data connection speeds (as opposed to the 2Mbps and 3.6Mbps of the current 3G).

(This is, of course, just the theoretical number. Typical real-world downlink and uplink speeds will likely be less than that depending on location, device, and overall traffic on the local wireless network at a given time. Nonetheless, this promises a significant boost. HSPA 7.2 is part of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies, which include GSM, UMTS, and the Emerging LTE technology. HSPA 7.2 offers backward-compatibility, meaning it also works with existing 3G and 2G devices at the lower device-specific speed.)

According to the announcement, the new speed will be available by the end of the year. Unfortunately, it's available only in six cities in the U.S., including Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Los Angeles; and Miami. This means the rest of the country, including the San Francisco Bay Area where I am, must continue to wait.

It's unclear how long the wait will be for the rest of the cities, but the company says it plans to deploy HSPA 7.2 in 25 of the nation's 30 largest markets by the end of 2010, and to reach about 90 percent of its existing 3G network footprint with HSPA 7.2 by the end of 2011.

While this is rather sad news for me, for most people it won't mean much, as chances are your phone is not compatible with the higher 3G speed. Currently, the iPhone 3GS is the only HSPA 7.2-ready smartphone I know that AT&T offers.

However, AT&T assures that it will offer more compatible devices with the rollout of HSPA 7.2. The company expects to have six HSPA 7.2-compatible smartphones in its device portfolio by the end of the year, as well as two new LaptopConnect cards.

The rollout of HSPA 7.2 is part of AT&T's plan to invest some $18 billion this year, of which more than two-thirds is going toward broadband and wireless. Key projects of this investment include, in AT&T's words:

* An initiative to substantially expand the wireless spectrum serving 3G customers in hundreds of markets across the country, using high-quality 850MHz spectrum. This additional spectrum expands overall network capacity and improves in-building reception. Deployments of this 850MHz spectrum are about 90 percent complete today, with local rollouts recently completed in New York, Atlanta, and Houston.
* Addition of about 2,000 new cell sites to AT&T's network in 2009, expanding service to new cities and improving coverage in other areas.
* Enabling widespread access to AT&T's Wi-Fi network to qualifying customers, allowing them to take advantage of the best available AT&T mobile broadband connection.
* Preparation for field trials of 4G LTE wireless networks next year, with deployment planned to follow in 2011. This schedule aligns with industry expectations of when a wide variety of compatible 4G wireless devices will be available.

It's unclear, but I really hope this development also means the existing lower speed 3G will be improved. It has been slow and unreliable for a long time in many parts of the country.

Stocks trade flat after 5 days of gains

NEW YORK — Stocks are flat in early trading as investors look for signals about the economy after a five-day rally.

Investors are cautious Friday after the recent gains but upbeat corporate news is drawing in some buyers. FedEx is raising its first-quarter earnings forecast because of stronger international shipments and cost-cuts.

Strong reports out of China on industrial output, investment, loans and retail sales are also boosting the mood on Wall Street.

In the first minutes of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average is up 8 at 9,635. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 2 at 1,047. The Nasdaq composite is up 1 at 2,085.

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

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures were modestly higher Friday as investors look to extend gains into a sixth straight day.

Investors will get readings on consumer sentiment and wholesale inventories and sales shortly after the market opens as they hunt for further clues about an economic rebound.

Overseas markets were buoyed by strong reports out of China about industrial output, investment, loans and retail sales. Japan's market was one of the few to decline amid worries about the weakening dollar against the yen, which could pressure exporters revenues.

Traders will get a report on the mindset of the consumer as they look for more insight into a potential economic rebound. Increasing consumer confidence and spending are considered vital to a recovery.

Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity.

The preliminary September reading of the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index is due out at 9:55 a.m. EDT. Markets have typically rallied on positive consumer sentiment data in recent months.

A report from the Commerce Department is expected to show wholesale inventories fell in July for a record 11th consecutive month. However, economists expect sales rose for a third consecutive month.

Wholesale inventories likely fell by 1 percent in July, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters, while sales increased 0.5 percent in the month.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 9, or 0.1 percent, to 9,614. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 1.60, or 0.2 percent, to 1,039.00, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 3.00, or 0.2 percent, to 1,685.75.

Major indexes rallied for the fifth consecutive day Thursday after a decline in new claims for jobless benefits and an upbeat forecast from Procter & Gamble raised hopes for an economic rebound.

The Dow rose to its highest close since October, and has gained 347 points in the past five trading sessions.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also affirmed government officials' recent statements that the economy is stabilizing. Testifying before a congressional watchdog panel, Geithner said the hard-hit banking sector is strong enough that the government can begin winding down emergency support programs it put in place during the peak of the credit crisis last fall.

Meanwhile, bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.36 percent from 3.35 percent late Thursday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.15 percent from 0.13 percent late Thursday.

The dollar fell against other major currencies, while gold prices again rose above $1,000 an ounce.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.7 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.6 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.

Euro surging against weak dollar

The dollar fell to the lowest levels for months against the euro today as upbeat economic data reduced demand for the safe-haven US currency.

The euro rose to a near nine-month high of $1.4627 at one stage today, before dropping back to trade at around £1.4609.

Analysts said that Chinese economic numbers fuelled dollar weakness today and investors risk appetite, underlining hopes of a global economic recovery.

Most analysts expect the dollar to weaken further amid a growing sense that recovery from the worst global economic crisis in decades is taking root.

With the economic outlook brightening, traders tend to shun the dollar in favour of riskier currencies that appeared more profitable, like the euro.

Meanwhile, on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold jumped to $998.88 an ounce from $990.75 an ounce last night. Earlier in the week, it had burst through the $1,000 level.

Campbell Soup To Report Q4 Results: Earnings Preview

RTTNews) - Campbell Soup Co. (CPB: News ), the world's largest soup maker, is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results before the market opens on Friday. On average, 15 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company to earn $0.26 per share for the quarter, while analysts look for fourth-quarter revenues of $1.52 billion. For the full year, earnings are expected to be $2.17 per share on revenues of $7.60 billion. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell manufactures and markets branded convenience food products. It operates in four segments: U.S. Soup, Sauces, and Beverages; Baking and Snacking; International Soup, Sauces, and Beverages; and North America Foodservice.

Makers of food products have experienced mixed effects due to the tough economy. While the economic crisis discouraged discretionary spending, eating at home became more popular. However, increase in input costs for key ingredients like grain made several of these companies push up prices. As the ingredient costs came down, most of these firms are now reaping its benefits. The currency fluctuations also could impact the company's earnings for the fourth quarter. Summer period is not one of the strongest seasons for soup makers.

In May, the company said its third quarter profit dropped 67% from the year-ago quarter, when results were boosted by a hefty gain from the sale of the Godiva Chocolatier business. The company reported third-quarter net income of $174 million or $0.49 per share, compared to $532 million or $1.40 per share for the year-ago quarter. Net sales for the third quarter fell 10% to $1.69 billion from $1.88 billion in the same quarter last year.

Among other events during the quarter, Campbell last month said it reduced the sodium level in its tomato soup. Credit Suisse expects Campbell's launch of healthier, low sodium versions of the male-oriented Chunky soup ''to add some needed excitement to this struggling p

''With the public now so focused on value and health, we think that Campbell has a golden opportunity to leverage its reputation as a "wholesome" meal and steal share from fast food restaurants through better marketing. Fast food restaurants' vulnerability on calories, fat, and cost make them an easy target,'' the brokerage added.

In July, at an investor meet, the company said it sees ''a world of extraordinary value in soup, especially in the emerging markets of Russia and China.'' Campbell is preparing for expansion in Russia based on a distribution agreement with Coca-Cola Hellenic. While announcing the results later today, Campbell is likely to update on its growth in emerging

Motorola Cliq takes aim at social network users

Just don’t call it the Click.

Today, Motorola trotted out a shiny new device called the Cliq – the first phone from Motorola to use the Android operating system originally developed by Google. The Cliq, pictured at right, utilizes the Motoblur interface to allow users rapid access to email, text messages, and photos. But most of the early hype surrounding the Motorola Cliq has concentrated on the phone’s social networking capabilities.

“With Motoblur we are differentiating the Android experience for consumers by delivering a unique mobile device experience designed around the way people interact today,” Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola and CEO of Motorola Mobile Devices said today. “Motoblur, which will be available on our first Android-powered device and on multiple Android devices in our upcoming portfolio, helps us to create phones that are instinctive, social and smart.”

From what we’ve seen so far, the Motoblur interface collects friend updates, conversation threads, and links as widgets on one interface. Users of Facebook and Twitter would no longer have to flick through different applications – or worse yet, sign on to a clunky web browser. Everything would be pre-sorted on the Cliq’s small screen – and it would all be updated in real time.

According to Motorola, Motoblur – and the Cliq phone – will be available to T-Mobile subscribers later this year. The Cliq is expected to come with an array of features: A 5 megapixel auto focus camera with video capture and playback at 24 frames per second; a 3.5mm headset jack.Wi-Fi and Bluetooth access; a 2 GB microSD memory card with support for up to 32 GB cards; and a GP

Motorola CLIQ Review: In Depth First Impression

The speculation is over. Today Motorola announced their first Android Phone, the Motorola CLIQ, running their custom version of Android called Motorola BLUR. After spending some time with the device we have both praise and criticism - which we’ll discuss in depth below - but first we should acknowledge the bigger picture.
Congratulations to Motorola! Speculation set extremely high expectations for this event and although the best case scenario didn’t occur (multiple Androids, Verizon included) - don’t let that detract from this event’s importance. You can critique CLIQ/BLUR all you like, and perhaps the terms “portfolio” and “suite” were misleading, but the fact remains: a Motorola Smartphone that competes with the most elite devices in the industry is a serious discussion. That in and of itself speaks to the occasion’s magnitude and the product’s potential success.

Motorola is back, baby! Neither the hardware or software is perfect, but what device is? Its all about trade-offs and the Motorola CLIQ is an impressive first foray into previously uncharted Android territory. We’ll organize this review the best we can by starting first with the software (MOTOROLA BLUR) and then moving into the hardware and specs.

Motorola BLUR
I love how Motorola didn’t try to do everything with BLUR. They tried to do one thing and do one thing well - seamlessly integrate all your contacts, from all your social networks, and all your communication mediums in one consolidated and easy to use interface. Hmmmm… that isn’t really “one thing“, is it?

It isn’t… and that is exactly why and where Motorola succeeds: they’ve taken all these fragmented sources of external information and communication points and centralized them into what seems like ONE entity - your phone.

Motorola's Android CLIQ Arrives

At an event on Thursday, Motorola announced its very first Android based device - the Motorola CLIQ. The phone, which would be made for T-Mobile, marks Motorola's entry into the Android platform. Will this be enough to boost the company's sagging fortunes? We will find that out soon.
The CLIQ is a decent Android device complete with a HVGA touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard and all the other "standard" fare that includes WiFi, GPS and even a 3.5mm jack. The 5 megapixel, autofocus camera takes care of the imaging part. Specs wise, the phone matches the features offered by its competitors - namely the Samsung Galaxy i7500, HTC Hero and the HTC Magic. The recently announced HTC Tattoo might pose some competition to the CLIQ as well. However, that would only happen if the CLIQ ever makes it out of T-Mobile and is offered SIM free.

The CLIQ happens to be the first Motorola device to feature its new MOTOBLUR solution. MOTOBLUR manages and streams together updates to contacts, posts, messages, photos and more from sources including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Gmail, and work and personal e-mail. The feature then delivers these updates to the home screen in easy-to-view streams so there is no need to open and close different mobile applications to keep up with the latest content.

The phone will be released in the fourth quarter of 2009 and while its pricing hasn't been officially revealed, it is expected to hover around the $399 (Rs.20,000 approx.) mark.

First impressions: Motorola Cliq

It was a big day for Motorola. The handset manufacturer unveiled its first Google Android device, the Motorola Cliq, to a packed house at the Mobilize '09 conference in San Francisco. While much of the interest was in seeing Moto's premier Android handset, many were also curious to see if it would deliver something that would breathe new life into a company struggling behind the competition.

Is the Motorola Cliq the answer? Well, we're not completely sold at this point. We finally got some hands-on time with the device, and while we're impressed with the hardware and the features are on par, it's the MotoBlur software that makes us weary. The integration of data from different sources is great, but having all information like Facebook updates, tweets, e-mails constantly streamed to your home screen is completely overwhelming, in our opinion. And is it really necessary?

True, you can customize the home screen and remove widgets, so we'll hold off on verdict until we get the phone in for review. Also, pricing will be a huge factor. T-Mobile and Motorola has not announced pricing, but Engadget Mobile grabbed a screen shot of the carrier's Web site that listed the Motorola Cliq for free with a two-year contract or $399.99 without an agreement. This, of course, has since been pulled down but if true, it could be an enticing offer for many.

Surely, we'll hear more news in the coming weeks but in the meantime, check out our hands-on photo gallery of the Motorola Cliq to get a closer look at the device and to get our first impressions of the smartphone. Also, check this space on Friday morning, to see our First Look video.

Motorola Cliq with Android and Motoblur Available For Free At T-Mobile?

Motorola’s Android event took place yesterday, and like we reported earlier the phone maker unveiled CLIQ, an Android-powered smartphone with MOTOBLUR UI, 5-megapixel camera, WiFi, and full sliding QWERTY keyboard. We’re not really fond of this phone’s design, but it’s nice and it’s coming to T-Mobile (no AT&T), and it might be availalbe [...]

Poll Technica: iPod event rumor roundup before we get rocked

There has been plenty of speculation about what Apple might announce at its "rock and roll" media event tomorrow. Here's a look at what we have heard so far, with your chance to tell us what you'd

Nano update cements Apple's midmarket hold

The Nano was the only Apple device that got a significant overhaul, with a video camera, FM radio, voice recorder, and pedometer. Somewhat surprisingly, the more expensive and higher-end iPod Touch isn't getting a refresh this time around. It still lacks a video camera and built-in FM radio.

The Nano was the only Apple device that got a significant overhaul, with a video camera, FM radio, voice recorder, and pedometer. Somewhat surprisingly, the more expensive and higher-end iPod Touch isn't getting a refresh this time around. It still lacks a video camera and built-in FM radio.

Five reasons Apple botched its new iPod lineup

I think they botched it, and in doing so, they showed very un-Apple-like cracks in the product lineup. Here’s why:

1. The third-generation iPod touch is a wash. Sure, it’s faster and cheaper, but Apple’s already sold 20 million of them. Without a camera on it (rumor is that it was delayed), there’s little to recommend as an upgrade.
2. The iPod nano cannibalizes other products…and their customers. FM tuner (hello Sony and Microsoft!) and VoiceOver features make the nano a worthwhile upgrade for previous nano owners. With VoiceOver, it’s got shuffle-like capability. Since it’s light as a feather and almost as slim (and cheaper), why would anyone buy a shuffle for the gym? (Matthew Miller agrees in his assessment of the new nano.)

3. The fifth-generation iPod shuffle is another wash. I estimate that it’s selling poorly now, so I can’t really see why there’s a “new” one. If Apple’s punting on this one, it’s a wonder why it didn’t can it in a single generation like it canned the third generation’s stout form factor. The shuffle’s only value, IMHO? To get teenagers into the iTunes fold early and on the cheap.
4. The iPod classic is a total wash. Sure, those with huge music libraries are happy. But other than that, this legacy model is pretty much unchanged. It didn’t even get an Apple press release today like the other models. My suggestion? That Apple figures out a better way to manage syncing between iPods with capacities smaller than a user’s music library.
5. Apple is surprisingly on the defense. In one slide, it showed Microsoft with a paltry 1.1 percent of the portable music player market….but used the term “other” to denote its nearest competitor, at 17.9 percent. You mean “other” as in “Sony”?

Above all: I don’t get why some of these models continue to exist. The nano should be the next shuffle, and do away with the current model. The touch should have all the capabilities of the nano — you shouldn’t have to give up features such as an FM tuner, pedometer and VoiceOver when you upgrade, trivial as they may seem. The classic should be canned.

Why all this? Because in Apple world, the moneymaking content pipeline is iTunes and the App Store. And the problem is the shuffle, nano and classic don’t have the same iPhone-derived pipeline as the touch. Without it, they don’t have the full platter of content that Apple makes available to its users. They’re shut off.

If I were Steve Jobs, I’d kill off the classic and the shuffle, make the nano the new low-end model and offer a new, iPhone OS-based iPod that sits in-between the touch and the nano. Maybe a stout, smaller-screened model, like a keyboardless, Wi-Fi sporting, 3G-less Palm Pixi.

What would you do?

Steve Jobs returns to the stage with an overhauled iPod Nano

Steve Jobs triumphantly returned to the spotlight to present this year's lineup of new iPods, iPhone OS 3.1, iTunes 9, and improvements to the iTunes store. In iPhone OS 3.1, a free incremental download that goes live today, the App Store has Genius recommendations, and a ringtone store with over 30,000 ringtones from all of the "big four" major labels priced at $1.29 each

iTunes 9 also goes live today, receiving improved Genius functionality as well. Here, it applies to "Genius Mixes," a Pandora-esque playlist feature where songs of a similar nature are played sequentially. The database for Genius Mixes currently contains over 54 billion songs. iTunes syncing has also been improved, rather than only being able to sync content by playlist, all of the content going to your iPhone or iPod (apps, music, events, photos, etc.) can be arranged.

Tunes store flow has been redesigned with quick-view popups of albums and dropdown menu navigation that changes the store's previous "back, forward, home" browsing experience. iTunes store is also now integrated with Facebook, and albums that users are interested can be shared as newsfeed items on the popular social networking site.

As rumored, the iTunes LP debuted today. This new album format was previously known as "Cocktail", and packages an iTunes music album with production and liner notes, video, photos, and lyrics.

What came as a surprise with the iTunes LP announcement today was that the same idea was applied to movies downloaded through iTunes. Called "iTunes Extras," movies purchased on iTunes have their own bonus features like a DVD or Blu-ray disc would have, except they're packed into iTunes.

Even further defying today's "It's only Rock and Roll..." theme, a considerable amount of time was spent discussing the iPod Touch/iPhone as a game system. Because the iPod Touch and iPhone have proven to be such successful gaming machines (Phil Schiller said the platform has 21,178 games versus the 607 on Sony PSP and 3,680 on Nintendo DS), it is just as much a game platform as anything else.

Of no surprise to anyone today were the price drops across the iPod line, which a number of sites predicted earlier this morning. In the iPod touch line, the 8 GB model dropped from $229 to $199, the 32 GB from $399 to $299, and now a 64 GB model for $399. The 120 GB iPod classic which was $249 is only sort of retired, as some had expected. What really happened was that the price point stayed the same, but the Classic has been bumped up to 160 GB of storage. The 4 GB iPod Shuffle hasn't changed its $79 price and the 2 GB costs $59, but a stainless steel $99 special edition was debuted and new color schemes.

The iPod nano was the golden child of the day though, earning Jobs' coveted "one more thing" status because it is "the most popular music player in the world," with sales of over 100 million units. As such, the latest version has been overhauled with a larger 2.2" screen, an onboard camera, microphone and speaker, pedometer, FM radio, voice recorder, voice navigation like the Shuffle, and the previously mentioned Genius Mix.

The 8 GB Nano will cost $149, and the 16GB model will cost $179 with a number of

The iPod Nano now has a built-in video camera, an FM radio with live pause mode, and a pedometer. The iPod Touch gets more storage space for less, and iTunes has several new features for music lovers.

The most dramatic additions to the iPod Nano include a built-in video camera and FM radio, which marks the first time that Apple has embedded a radio in its iPod. The new Nano is priced at $149 for the 8GB gigabyte storage size and $179 for the 16GB. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press / September 9, 2009)

Jobs Himself Is Biggest Rollout at Apple Show

By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 11, 2009
Apple showed off new iPods, new music software and an updated iPhone on Wednesday. But little of that seemed to draw as much attention as the man in the black mock turtleneck who took the stage in San Francisco to introduce the offerings.

"I'm vertical," proclaimed chief executive Steve Jobs as he made his first public appearance since returning to the company from a six-month medical leave. "I'm back at Apple, and I'm loving every day of it."

Jobs looked every bit as thin as he did in the months leading up to January's announcement that he would be taking time off to focus on his health. While on medical leave, the executive had a liver transplant. Jobs used the start of his presentation to thank his organ donor, a 20-year-old who died in a car crash.

Over the previous several months, some tech pundits wondered whether Apple would stumble while its charismatic leader was away and the company was led by its chief operating officer, Timothy D. Cook. During Cook's time at the helm, however, Apple successfully rolled out a new version of the iPhone, and the company's share prices have grown steadily, from $85.75 at the end of 2008 to more than $171 on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, many found it reassuring to see Jobs back, prowling the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

"Given his condition, he looks as healthy as he could be," said analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies, a Silicon Valley research firm

Beyond Jobs's reappearance, Apple saved perhaps its biggest announcement for one of its smallest devices: The tiny Nano music player, priced at $149 and $179, will now come with a built-in video camera, a pedometer and an FM radio tuner. Apple also introduced a new version of the iPod Touch with twice as much storage capacity as its predecessors. The new, 64-gigabyte version will cost $399.

Apple also enhanced its iTunes music software. A popular feature called Genius, designed to help music lovers discover new songs based on what they have in their collections, will now steer users to software applications they might want to load on their machines. The company made the new version of the software available Wednesday as a download from its Web site.

Other Apple executives also appeared in order to talk up the iPhone's successes, particularly as a mobile video game device. Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, cited figures from the research firm ComScore: Sony's mobile game device, the PlayStation Portable, has 607 titles available, while the Nintendo DS has 3,680. By comparison, Apple's App Store, which sells downloadable software for the iPhone and iPod Touch, features 21,178 game and entertainment titles, he said.

In the hours leading up to Wednesday's announcements, the price of the iPod Touch with the largest storage capacity was cut from $399 to $279. On the lower end of the product spectrum, the smaller iPod Nano's price dropped from $149 to $129.

As the event drew near, the blogosphere was abuzz with rumors that Apple would introduce a tablet-shaped touch-screen computer or that the day would mark the long-anticipated arrival of the Beatles' music on iTunes. Both proved incorrect.

Sep 8, 2009

HTC Tattoo budget smartphone runs Android

If you’re on a budget, but want to get in on the hot Android action, pay attention to the HTC Tattoo. Not only does it run on Google Android’s operating system with the Sense UI, but it also packs in a Qualcomm MSM7225 528MHz processor, 256MB RAM, and Quad-band GSM/EDGE. It also has a 2.8 inch touchscreen LCD display, Bluetooth 2.0, a microSD slot, GPS, a 3.2 megapixel camera, and Wi-Fi connectivity. To us, that’s one of the most feature-packed phones we’ve seen for the budget market. The HTC Tattoo will be available in Europe at the beginning of next month, and will come to the US soon thereafter.

HTC Tattoo might be an affordable Android handset

TAIWANESE PHONE MANUFACTURER HTC has announced its latest Android mobile phone, the Tattoo, and it looks like it's ready to make its mark on the affordable smartphone market.

Not content with a hat trick, HTC's Tatoo is its fourth Google mobile OS powered handset, and it's finally one with a relatively affordable price tag according to HTC.

No official word from HTC on how cheap the Tattoo named mobile will really be, although online mobile phone reseller Expansys has the handset at £319.99, whereas the previous HTC Android phone was around £429.99 at launch.

To achieve this lower cost it appears HTC has brought down the specs of this phone from its past Google mobile models.

Lowering screen size from the 3.2-inch 320x480 HVGA HTC Hero and losing the 5MP camera, along with reducing the 1350 mAh battery size will no doubt bring the costs down to make this handset affordable, we can only assume.

The HTC Tattoo is a 2.8-inch 240x320 QVGA touch screen Quad band handset running its latest UI, along with a 3.2MP camera with 512MB and a microSD slot.

It's powered by the popular chipset of HTC, the Qualcomm 528 MHz MSM7225 and is capable of 390 minutes talktime and 340 hours standby from the 1100 mAh battery

It's been rumoured to the INQ that the Tattoo will appear at Vodafone and the newly merged network of Orange and T-Mobile in October, free on a contract or cheap on SIM free. µ

HTC Tattoo could be the first 'real' free smartphone

Now that HTC has unveiled its fourth Android handset, one begins to wonder what is next for the Taiwanese company and indeed the Android handsets business as a whole. HTC was the first to release a phone running on Google's open smartphone operating system, and now that it has shown off the Tattoo (formerly known as "Click") the company appears to have foregone design innovation in favor of releasing a cheap device.

The HTC Tattoo has a 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7225 processor with 256 MB RAM, quad-band GSM/HSPA/UMTS radios, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, a 3.2 megapixel camera, 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD-expandable memory. But aside from HTC's Sense UI, which debuted in the Hero last month, the only noteworthy feature of

HTC introduced the Tattoo today as the device that "brings Android to all," which could really only mean one thing: It will be cheap. Unfortunately, the company did not officially disclose today the pricing for the Tattoo, and only said that it will be coming to European markets in October with pricing determined by carrier. Telecompaper reported today that in Spain, the Tattoo will be available on Movistar, Vodafone, and Orange and will cost approximately €349 without contract. It is also expected to launch in France on Bouygues Telecom, but there is no word on pricing there yet.

Since the cost is being left up to the individual carriers, many are expecting this to be the first Android device (and really, the first competitive smartphone) to be free with a carrier agreement.

As Engadget pointed out this morning, however, the device is equipped with a resistive touchscreen rather than capacitive. While this certainly lowers the bill of materials, the tradeoff here is that it also risks lowering the device's responsiveness and usability.

But the declining cost of entry for smartphones is one of the major reasons for their rising stake of the mobile phone market, which up until recently has been dominated by feature phones. The commanding price range thus far has been $89-$99 with the BlackBerry Curve, Palm Centro, and iPhone 3G selling in huge quantities. If the Tattoo breaks that price barrier as many expect it will, not only will Android experience a huge surge in users, but so too will wireless data networks and smartphones in general.

Asus To Launch EEE E-Book Reader With Two Screens

Last month end, it was reported that Asus had plans to enter the eBook reader market and now, more details emerge about Eee Reader. London Times reported that as per Asus UK spokesperson, a budget and a premium version of eBook reader would be unveiled before the end of this year. This clearly means that Asus is all set to take on Sony eReader and Amazon Kindle by the end of this year.
Considering the Asus Eee Family of products, we presume that the eBook Reader would be referred Eee Reader.

At the CeBIT 2009 Expo in March, Asus had showed off Dual Panel Touchscreen PC concept and obviously it was a prototype with nothing much shared about it. This is said to be the prototype of Asus Eee Reader, what we presume that it might be called. Asus' eBook reader will have a hinged spine in center just like a regular book. Two flat touchscreens will be on each side of spine which would be used to perform "turn" gesture to turn pages of the eBook.

One of the advantages of the dual-panel touchscreens would be that user can read eBook in one panel and browse in other panel. Either of the dual-panel touchscreen would also have virtual keyboard so that the Eee Reader could also be used as netbook. Current generation ebook readers from Sony and Amazon have monochrome screen while Asus Eee Reader will support full colors. Asus also boasted of including entertainment features like webcam, Mic and speakers for VoIP functions.

Just like the cheaper Asus Eee PC netbooks, Asus is planning to introduce budget version of Eee Reader at about $163 (Rs. 7,800 approx.) in order to beat the existing Sony eReader and Amazon Kindle. The premium version of Eee Reader will have 3G capabilities, web browser and expandable storage.

As reported earlier, MSI too was planning to come out with eBook Reader and we suppose they too will launch it by the end of this year. However, there's no official or unofficial information on it.

Gamescom: Welcome to Cologne

Sony kicked of the inaugural Gamescom in Cologne with the not-so-surprising announcement of its new PS3 Slim console

he new Sony PS3 Slim. Photograph: Alex Grimm/Getty Images

The games industry has descended on Cologne in a rare old state of excitement. For some years now, Europe has had a videogames show that wan't really much of a rival to the American E3 – previously known, prosaically, as the Games Convention and based in Leipzig, a city about which it is nigh-impossible to be complimentary.

But this year it has rebooted itself as Gamescom, and moved to the refreshingly pleasant environs of Cologne in Germany. The result is a general feeling that a show which was on an upward curve yet still a poor relation has made a breakthrough this year, and with E3 itself staging a comeback after two dodgy years, it could be the pre-eminent forum for showcasing new games.

In the style of E3, Tuesday saw press conferences taking place before the show opened, and Sony grabbed centre stage. SCE Europe CEO Andrew House took the reins, running through latest sales figures for Sony's various consoles (the most impressive being for the thoroughly defunct PS2, which has now shifted 138.8m units globally and 51.5m in Europe) and swiftly skimming through its big upcoming games (of which Uncharted 2 looked the likeliest Christmas blockbuster, and the previously unannounced Digital Comics reader for the PSP intrigued).

But at the end of the spiel, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai, the big boss, took to the stage to unveil the PS3 Slim. Every Sony console has, at some stage of its life-cycle, been shoe-horned into a smaller package and sold at a lower price, and now the PS3 has had that treatment.

The PS3 Slim looks like a neat enough machine (although the one demonstrated by Hirai was whipped away from the stage the moment he walked off it) and has the advantage of a 120GB, rather than 80GB hard disk, and will retail at £250. Which is cheaper than the original PS3's £299, but still pricier than an Xbox 360 Elite, let alone lesser Xbox 360s.

Given that the magic price-point below which consoles sell in serious volumes is £200 (Electronic Arts' Peter Moore, in an interview, pointed out that 80% or thereabouts of the PS2's sales accrued after it slipped below £200), one has to wonder whether that is enough.

Sony, no doubt, would love to sell the PS3 Slim – which will be in the shops in September, while original PS3s are already in short supply and will quickly disappear from retail – for £200 but economics clearly preclude that.

Whether – given that we're still in a recession – that £50 price-cut will prove enough of an incentive this Christmas, when parents decide which console to buy for their kids, remains to be seen.

But one has to feel slightly for Sony: the PS3 Slim will retail at €299, so we Brits, with our recently devalued pound hovering not for from the €1 mark, should be grateful that we have a price-cut at all.

Sony studiously avoided any technical talk about the PS3 Slim, which suggests that it's more or less identical to the original PS3 under the skin. Which would be a shame if it is the case. Because the repackaging should have provided the perfect opportunity to slip in a newer-generation Blu-ray drive than version 1.0 effort in the PS3.

We'll be trying to find more about any technical advantages the PS3 Slim has over its predecessors in the coming days.

HTC Tattoo: An Android phone for all

Formerly known as the HTC Click, the Tattoo, we presume, gets it name from the customization options it offers and is being advertised as an Android phone for all. It's the second phone from the company, after the HTC Hero, to use the HTC Sense user interface, which provides up to seven home screen panels that can be personalized with various widgets, shortcuts, and wallpapers.

The phone itself is pretty compact at 4.17 inches tall by 2.17 inches wide by 0.55 inch thick and 3.99 ounces. The HTC Tattoo features a 2.8-inch QVGA resistive touch screen and comes with a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, a microSD expansion slot, and a 3.2 megapixel camera. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also onboard. Of course, as an Android phone, you get access to Google's various services, including Google Maps, Google Mail, and the Android Market.

The quad-band HTC Tattoo will be available in Europe first (of course), starting at the beginning of October. According to HTC, the smartphone will roll out to the rest of the world in the following months. Pricing was not announced at this time, but we're thinking a sub-$100 price point would be pretty sweet, especially for something that's marketed for such a broad audience.

Verizon Launched Samsung Rogue U960 and Intensity U450

As expected, Verizon Wireless today released two new Samsung devices, the Rogue U960 and Intensity U450.

The Samsung Rogue, which will be replacing the Glyde, is a new touchscreen phone using Samsung's TouchWiz UI. It features a 3.1" AMOLED display sporting a 480x800 pixel resolution, a 3.0 megapixel camera with flash and editing capabilities, microSD support for 16GB of extra memory, slide-out QWERTY keyboard and EV-DO.

The Samsung Intensity is practically the entry-level version of the Rogue. This handset is packing a 2.1 inch 262k color display (176x262 pixels), 1.3 megapixel camera with dedicated shutter button, slide-out QWERTY keyboard and other messaging options such as IM, email and threaded SMS. Other features include USB, microSD card slot that can hold 16GB cards and support for Bluetooth headsets.

Verizon will be selling the Rogue or $99 and the Intensity for $30 after a $50 online rebate. Of course, both devices are being sold with a two-year contract.

The group that currently owns the patents, Allied Security Trust, buys them to protect its members from lawsuits. Composed of such companies as Google

A new post on AppleInsider has recently showed up which looks into ways win which Snow Leopard has improved security for Mac users, there have been many improvements in a lot of different areas of the OS, for full details check out AppleInsider.

One major change has been with warnings that show up when using Safari, previously Safari warned you when tried to enter sites which are known too distribute malicious software, however now Snow Leopard shows additional warnings when disk images are opened which contain known malware installers.

There are a lot more improvements which have been made within Safari, however rather than just repeat what has been said on AppleInsider I would highly recommend checking out thei

Report: Rivals eye Microsoft's former Linux patents

Microsoft has at times alleged patent infringement in its attempts to stifle certain Linux-based applications. But one group is hoping to fight back by using Microsoft's own former patents.
he Open Invention Network (OIN), a group made up of Microsoft competitors and Linux advocates,said it's close an agreement to buy 22 patents that Microsoft sold to another organization earlier this year. According to Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, the patents may relate to Linux.

The OIN believes that getting these patents is critical to protecting Linux developers from costly lawsuits, according to the Journal. The concern is that otherwise the patents could be grabbed by patent trolls, which will then try to make money from patent-infringement lawsuits.

The group that currently owns the patents, Allied Security Trust, buys them to protect its members from lawsuits. Composed of such companies as Google, Hewlett-Packard, Verizon Communications, and Cisco Systems, Allied Security Trust bought the patents in a private auction held by Microsoft. The Journal reports that Microsoft presented the patents to potential bidders as relating to Linux.

Microsoft has said that it holds more than 50,000 patents, according to the Journal, and that it believes 200 of those are violated by Linux applications.

Over the past few years, Microsoft has signed deals with several open-source companies in which they pay Microsoft money to protect themselves from intellectual property claims.

The OIN's goal is to promote and protect Linux by using patents that allow for free and open collaboration. The group says its patents are available to any company or individual that agrees not to assert those patents against Linux. The idea is to help developers use Linux without having to worry about violating existing patents.

The OIN is trying to use such cases as the recent lawsuit between Microsoft and GPS-maker Tom Tom to prevent similar actions against Linux-based apps. Although Tom Tom settled with Microsoft, the OIN is concerned that the case may establish a precedent.

Started in 2005, the OIN counts among its members IBM, Sony, and Red Hat. Over the years, other powerhouses have joined, including Oracle, Google, and most recently Tom Tom.

Sprint offers $100 credit to new Pre users

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp hopes to lure customers from rival service providers with a special $100 service credit for new subscribers who buy Palm Inc's Pre, essentially giving the device a 50 percent price cut a few months after it started selling the phone.

Sprint said on its website that the offer, which does not apply to existing customers, would be available for new Sprint customers who sign up before October 31 and commit to a 2-year service contract. The service credit would be added to customer invoices over a 3-month period, the company said.

Sprint's existing Pre price tag was $199, after rebates.

While some analysts said the offer could help boost sales, Piper Jaffray's Chris Larsen said that the discount likely means Sprint is having a tough time adding new customers.

"We believe that the new promotion could indicate that net additions have been trending lower than the company expected for the third quarter," Larsen said in a research note.

Sprint, the only U.S. service provider currently allowed to offer the Pre, started to sell it in June.

Sprint's shares fell 5 cents to $3.76 on the New York Stock Exchange early Tuesday afternoon. Palm rose 39 cents to $15.00 on Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Richard Chang)

Apple offers sleek cachet for clunkers

Imagine consumers en masse dumping their old PC clunkers for a svelte MacBook Air running the sleek, new Snow Leopard operating system. An implausible Orwellian vision but probably not that far removed from Apple's marketing aspirations.

In short, walk into any Apple Store in any tony neighborhood and the message is: relieve yourself of those old bulky PCs and flip phones and we'll give you smaller, more stylish computing with the Apple cachet.

The analogy may be a bit strained, but imagine trading in a 14 mpg Hummer H2 for a 45 mpg hybrid Ford Fusion. The point: smaller is better. And it's not just Apple hardware. Apple's new Snow Leopard operating system is smaller too. About 7GB smaller than the version it replaces.

As this New York Times review graphically (and some claim fawningly) shows, making software smaller violates a basic tenet of operating system upgrades: more is better. Historically, Windows has been the most egregious example of this immutable law of software marketing. This trend culminated in the fiasco that was Windows Vista--at least the dysfunctional version of Vista that appeared in early 2007.

At General Motors, this trend culminated in the H2, a car too big even by Detroit's standards. (GM subsequently struck a deal to sell Hummer to China-based Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company and is trying to make the electric Chevrolet Volt into its marquee model for the Chevrolet nameplate.)

Are those days over? No, but it's safe to say that at an even more profound level, personal computing is moving to smaller gadgets which, by necessity, use efficient operating environments running on efficient silicon. The iPhone comes to mind. Tiny Netbooks are another good example. In short, despite the obvious compromises that small size imposes, many consumers are realizing that they can do what they need to do with less.

Even Microsoft has figured this out, albeit slowly. Microsoft's Windows 7, based on preliminary reviews, is leaner and faster than Vista. (Yes, there's Windows Mobile 6.5 but I don't think I'm going out on a limb by saying that this isn't the future of smartphone operating systems.) Intel has got religion too. Its Atom and ultra- low-voltage (ULV) processors both offer significant power savings over standard Intel chip designs.

Apple wants to go a lot further than "Wintel" has gone, however, just as Ford wants to out-mpg GM in the fuel-efficiency race. The argument can be made that Cupertino is offering a sleeker operating system in preparation for devices to come. Maybe a tablet. Maybe something that has yet to be reported. What is clear is that Apple is focusing a lot of its in-house development on small, efficient technology. Both silicon and software.

The same thing can be roughly said about Ford. Its highest profile cars these days are the Fusion, Focus, and Escape--all relatively small, fuel-efficient cars (two are sold optionally as hybrids). All the polar opposite of the most popular cars in its gas-guzzler heyday: the Explorer, Expedition, and Excursion.

No Orwellian vision here, just smaller, more efficient computing devices (and cars) that make a clean break from an obsolete past.

Shuttle Undocks from Station, Heads Home

By Bill Harwood
(CBS/AP) The Discovery space shuttle will pull away from the international space station, ending a resupply visit that spanned just over a week.

The shuttle will bring home seven astronauts, departing Tuesday and returning to earth Thursday evening, weather permitting.

The two crews, seven on the shuttle and six on the station, hugged and shook hands as they said goodbye before sealing the hatches between Discovery and space station.

"The most efficient way to do it was close the hatches tonight and undock early in the morning, so you're all prepped and ready to go and all you have to do is open up the hooks for tomorrow," NASA's Tony Ceccacci told a media briefing on Monday.

Undocking is scheduled for 3:26 p.m. EDT. With shuttle pilot Kevin Ford at the controls, the shuttle will pull away directly in front of the space station before kicking off the fly-around maneuver, looping up above the lab complex at a distance of roughly 600 feet, reports CBS News space analyst Bill Harwood.

After a 360-degree photo-documentation fly around, the astronauts will carry out a final inspection of the shuttle's critical nose cap and wing leading edge panels to set the stage for re-entry and landing Thursday.

The inspection should be complete by around 11 p.m. The astronauts plan to spend the day Wednesday packing up and testing the shuttle's re-entry systems. Landing is targeted for 7:05 p.m. Thursday, weather permitting.

NASA was tracking a threatening piece of space junk, a Chinese satellite. It's part of a satellite that was blasted by a missile in 2007. Officials say the shuttle probably will not need to steer clear.

The 13 astronauts accomplished one last major job together before parting company.

A container holding a ton of trash and discarded equipment was moved back aboard Discovery, with the use of a hefty robot arm. The container had been delivered by the shuttle, fully loaded with supplies, and moved onto the International Space Station a week ago.

The space station's new resident, Nicole Stott, said she's looking forward to gazing down at her home state of Florida and the rest of the planet over the next three months. She brought a watercolor kit with her to the station and plans to paint what she sees.

Stott flew up on 'Discovery' as the replacement for Timothy Kopra, who has been in orbit sinc

T-Mobile and Orange joint venture to have 37pc of UK market

T-Mobile and Orange are on Tuesday expected to announce a deal to create the UK's largest mobile phone operator.

By Rupert Neate, City Reporter

T-Mobile and Orange joint venture to have 37pc of UK market

The new operator will have more than 30m customers and push O2 and Vodafone, which had launched unsuccessful bids to buy T-Mobile UK, into second and third place.

It is understood that the joint venture will be majority-owned by France Telecom, the owner of Orange, unless Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent, makes a cash payment to France Telecom to make up for the fact that Orange has more customers than T-Mobile.
It is expected that Orange and T-Mobile will continue to be run as separate business, and both brands will be retained, but the operators will share infrastructure and back office functions.

The joint venture will have 37pc of the British market, ahead of O2 with 27pc and Vodafone with 25pc. At present Orange has a 22pc share and T-Mobile has 15pc. The deal is likely to come under intense scrutiny from competition regulators at Ofcom, the communications watchdog, and European Union.

The move follows speculation that Vodafone and O2 's Spanish parent Telefonica had submitted bids of about £3.5bn-£4bn for T-mobile UK, which has been struggling to compete in the fiercely competitive British mobile phone market.

Deutsche Telekom chief executive Rene Oberman reportedly rejected the bids because the offers were too low. Deutsche Telekom has already taken a €1.8bn (£1.6bn) writedown against its British operation and would have been forced to make a further writedown if it had accepted a £3.5m offer from Vodafone or Telefonica.

It is understood that Mr Oberman and Didier Lombard, France Telecom's chief executive, signed the deal on Monday night and it could be announced to the market as early as Tuesday morning, but sources suggest it could be delayed due the complexity of the agreement.

Mr Lombard was due to give a keynote speech at Broadband World Forum in Paris on Monday, but pulled out at the last minute in order to work on the deal.

The paperwork is very preliminary and does not include what will happen to Virgin mobile, which runs on T-Mobile's network and accounts for about 25pc of the German operator's British customers.

The deal could also raise serious questions about the survival of 3, Britain's smallest network, as it has recently entered into a deal to a network-sharing deal with T-Mobile.

BookArc MacBook Stand

Here is a useful accessory for your MacBook, the BookArc Stand that lets you turn your MacBook into a desktop.

Ideal for all the MacBook users who use an additional monitor with their MacBook, the BookArc stand holds your Macbook in a vertical position with the screen closed, and it will work with the MacBook Air and all MacBooks up to the 17 inch version.

Official iPhone 3G Unlock

Posted 24 Aug. 2009 in Apple, Gadgets, iPhone by Fatgadget

We have seen the many ways of unofficially unlocking your iPhone 3G like redsn0w, it seems like one lucky iPhone owner managed to get his iPhone 3G unlocked by Apple.

The iPhone user in question lives in Finland and his iPhone was on the Sonera network, who let users buy themselves out of their 3G contract in Finland when the iPhone 3GS was released

MacCores iTab Mini – Apple Tablet Mod

We are still awaiting official news from Apple on the much rumored Apple Tablet, in the meantime here is a cool Apple Tablet mod, the MacCores iTab Mini.

I have to admit from the photos, the MacCores iTab Mini looks very cool, it features a 12.1 SVGA resistive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1400 x 1050 and a 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 duo processor.

Newspaper MacBook Sleeve

Here is a fun accessory for your MacBook, a sleeve that looks like a newspaper, and it is designed to stop people stealing your MacBook as they will think it is just a newspaper.

Apple Special Event 9th September

Apple (AAPL) has sent out invitations to technology journalists for its latest special event, called ‘ It’s only rock and roll, but we like it’, as the name suggests, this event is going to be all about iPods, as we reported previously the event will be held on the 9th of September at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco at 10AM PST.

iPhone AT&T Exclusivity deal starting to crumble


According to a prediction from financial analyst Gene Munster, a senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, AT&T’s exclusivity iPhone deal with Apple could come to an end within the year.

This could spell big trouble for AT&T. About 40 percent of AT&T’s 10 million iPhone customers switched to AT&T from another carrier to get their hands on a precious iPhone.

MacTable for iMac

If you have a number of Mac workstations or need some funky desks for your classroom then the MacTable may be one for you.

The MacTable is designed with a semi-recessed platform for open sight lines and to allow the iMac to be held secure. Retained in the well, the iMac is protected against being knocked off of the desktop by the casual passer-by and 2″ diameter steel legs are designed for open access. The angles of the legs and modesty panels complement the angles of the iMacs, themselves

Apple To Sell Ready Made Ringtones For the iPhone

Cnet are reporting that Apple (AAPL) has obtained rights to sell ready made ringtones for the iPhone from iTunes, and apparently they are rushing to get them ready for next weeks Apple Special Event.

XSKN iKeyboard for the iPhone

One feature that a lot of iPhone and iPod Touch users would like to see on the iPhone is the ability to use a Bluetooth keyboard.

One company called XSKN is working on a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone and iPod touch, called the iKeyboard, which is basically a modified Apple Bluetooth keyboard featuring icons on the keys.

Spotify iPhone App Now Available

We mentioned the other week that Apple has approved the Spotify iPhone App, well it looks like it is now available as a free download from iTunes.

Spotify is a music subscription service that streams music direct to your iPhone, the main difference between Spotify and other music streaming Apps is that it lets you download the music direct to your iPhone, and then you can listen to your playlists when your iPhone isn’t connect to 3G or WiFi.

Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Apple (AAPL) is holding a special event tomorrow the 9th of September in San Francisco at 10am PST, we are expecting them to unveil a new range of iPods which will come with a built in camera just like the iPhone.

The latest rumor doing the rounds today is that there are certain ‘technical difficulties’ with the new 3.2 megapixel camera modules that are going to be integrated into the new iPod Touch and iPod Nano.

HTC Tattoo Google Android Smartphone Announced

Connectivity on the HTC Tattoo comes in the form of quad band GSM/EDGE, 802.11b/g WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, plus there is also built in GPS, a digital compass and an accelerometer.

The HTC Tattoo will go on sale in Europe in October, there is no word on pricing as yet

Intel's latest chip ready for release

Four-core processors will double capacity, writes David Flynn.

NO ONE knows how many angels can dance on the head of a pin but the boffins at Intel know how many transistors fit into the full stop at the end of this sentence. That magic number is 3 million and it represents a milestone in Intel's four decades of driving the personal computer industry.

Transistors - tiny electronic switches that flick between zero and one as a computer crunches every piece of data - are the DNA of the computer's brain. The smaller they are, the more can be squeezed into a limited space and the more powerful the computer chip becomes.

Intel's new Core i5 processor, which makes its worldwide debut today, packs about 731 million transistors shoulder to shoulder into a chip about half the size of a postage stamp.

Allied to an ambitious overhaul of the processor's design, Intel promises the Core i5 represents a new era for the desktop PC.

The chip-making colossus has always heralded each successive generation of processors with a familiar chorus of being faster, smarter and, in recent years, more power efficient.

But the Core i5 represents ''an order of magnitude, a tremendous leap ahead'', says the general manager of Intel Australia and New Zealand, Philip Cronin.

''We've done nine major changes to chip design in 40 years and this is one of the most significant,'' Cronin says.

''The technology in Core i5 is typically what used to be found in high-end servers. Now it's available on your desk and in your lap.''

The Core i5's capabilities spring from a revised ''microarchitecture'', which is essentially the chip's blueprint - the way each tiny transistor is designed and linked.

Intel's engineers codenamed the architecture Nehalem, after the indigenous tribe that originally inhabited the US state of Oregon, where Intel's major research and manufacturing facility is located.

The Nehalem platform was first developed for the Core i7 processor, a high-end and high-priced big brother to the Core i5 that is used mainly in servers and powerful desktop workstations. The Core i5 takes that muscle mainstream.

Nehalem shrinks the building blocks of the computer's processor down to a minuscule 45 nanometres - about a third smaller than the 65 nanometres of the previous design - to stack more transistors on each chip.

The reduced scale makes for shorter and faster connections between each transistor, which boosts processing power because the chip can crunch through more data per second.

The design of the processor itself has also undergone a radical rethink. Several components that used to exist on separate chips, which then had to be wired to the processor, have now been built into the same slab of silicon as the processor.

This allows for direct connections to the processor, boosting the chip's capability while reducing the overall power drain. It also means the Core i5 chips can be relatively cheaper than their counterparts because there are fewer components.

The first Core i5 systems will have four processing cores - or engines - per chip, immediately doubling the capacity of today's dual-core desktops.

Each core can handle two simultaneous threads, or individual streams of data, so that a quad-core processor is able to keep track of eight separate operations at a time.

The Core i5 is designed for demanding tasks such as editing HD video footage down to smoother video chat over Skype and even adding music to an iTunes library.

New software and operating systems are being re-engineered to take advantage of the multi-core and multi-threading capabilities. Apple's just-released Snow Leopard Mac OS X 10.6 and Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 7 are both optimised for the Core i5 and its siblings.

Also in the Core i5's bag of tricks is a turbo mode that dramatically boosts the chips's overall processing speed for short bursts of heavy-duty activity. The automatic procedure channels one or more of the cores and diverts their processing capability to a single engine. This means a chip rated for an already hefty 2.8GHz can leap to 3.2GHz on demand without stressing the chip or running the risk of overheating.

The first wave of four-cylinder Core i5 systems will be followed early next year by dual-core variants, along with a pared-down Core i3 processor that Cronin describes as being Intel's ''entry level'' chip.

The trio of Core brands will eventually displace the current and often confusing array of Core 2 products and logos.

''We're aiming for a level of simplification in the product branding,'' says Cronin.

''The Atom-based netbooks will continue, along with the Celeron and Pentium as our value products.

''But we'll see the advent of the three Core brands into the market: the entry-level Core i3 if you need power but are on a bit of a tight budget, the mid-level Core i5 when you want solid performance and capability and, if you're a real power-user, you go for the Core i7.''