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To: zax who wrote (16972)3/1/2012 5:57:58 PM
From: sylvester80
   of 29706
 
That is one photo that I don't mind seeing... LOL...;)

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To: iggyl who wrote (16968)3/1/2012 8:31:14 PM
From: sylvester80
   of 29706
 

Android on fire at Mobile World Congress, but not just for westerners
Google's platform is ripe with potential for emerging markets if handsets get down to $30 price points
guardian.co.uk

Google's Android logo has been ubiquitous at Mobile World Congress 2012. Photo: Stuart Dredge
As Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt prepared to take the stage for his Tuesday Mobile World Congress keynote, journalists in the US were receiving an email from Apple inviting them to the iPad 3 launch event. It's safe to say the relationship between the two companies remains... complicated.

Apple may have drawn some of the limelight away from Schmidt's speech, but MWC has been very much Android's show – and not just because its great frenemy doesn't have an official presence here.

Android is on a tear right now, and there have been numerous reminders at the show. That includes the stats – 300m activated Android devices, 850k more every day and 1bn app downloads a month – and also the impressive latest wave of Android devices from Samsung, HTC and other manufacturers.

The Android stand is thrumming with activity, including an array of developers talking enthusiastically about Android as an OS and as a business opportunity. Which, of course, they would – they're on Google's stand as guests after all – but it's a mood I've also caught from developers elsewhere at MWC.

The majority of developers I've met say they are focusing on iOS and Android. In fact, the two are often run together: "iOSandAndroid" is definitely a mantra (although for interest, a decent number go on to say they're actively thinking about Windows Phone as their third platform).

As in 2011, Google has scattered robot-logo bins of Android pin-badges around the MWC halls. The treasure hunt may have lost its surprise factor second time round, but it still makes its point effectively, contrasting Google's network of partnerships with manufacturers, operators and technology firms with Apple's more aloof stance.

That's not to say one is preferable to the other – the truth is that both companies are succeeding hugely – but the pin-badges do hammer home Google's rapid progress in embedding itself in the mobile industry. Schmidt's speech also elicited a notably warmer response from MWC delegates than he has in the past, when Google was still seen as a threatening foe rather than a partner by the mobile operators.

There are still wrinkles in the Android strategy, when it comes to apps and developers. A number of the booths on the Android stand are showing rich 3D games, for example: just the thing to show off the quad-core processors in the coming wave of Android devices.

Yet these games are more expensive to develop, at a time when the demand for paid apps on Android remains a controversial debate. Perhaps the richer content will help create a healthier market for paid Android apps, or perhaps these developers will find success by adopting freemium business models. It is still early days.

Actually, though, the most interesting thing about Android in relation to developers and apps is not what's happening in the US, UK and other well-developed smartphone markets.

One of Schmidt's key points in his speech was the march of Android into more affordable handsets in the year ahead. "Many of our partners are working on phones in the $100-$150 range. The ultimate goal is a $70 device," he told delegates, while stressing that this could mean $20 or $30 for consumers, after operator subsidies.

A burgeoning market for low-cost Android handsets – yes, even if they're not running the latest version of the OS – could create really interesting opportunities for apps in territories like China, India, Latin America and Africa. And this is without talking about the potential for affordable tablets in those places.

Some of the apps taking advantage may be the ones that are popular in the western world – Rovio is certainly alive to the potential of getting its next 800m Angry Birds downloads from emerging markets, for example. But the opportunity is probably more about local developers in these countries, making apps that are relevant to the markets.

This is by no means an open goal for Android. Western journalists and tech bloggers haven't written enough about what Nokia is doing with its Asha handsets, which are just as important to the company's future as its Windows Phone strategy, for example.

However, one of the key trends at Mobile World Congress this year, for me, is that Android's success should not be judged solely against iOS, even if that rivalry is clearly front-of-mind for both companies at the moment.

Supporting both platforms is increasingly a given for startups and developers in the western world. But it's the developers elsewhere in the world who may be starting with Android as their lead apps platform who are just as important to Google's mobile prospects in the years to come.

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To: iggyl who wrote (16968)3/2/2012 7:01:28 AM
From: sylvester80
   of 29706
 
BREAKING..Apple loses patent case...German court dismisses 2 Apple-Samsung patent suits
Fri Mar 2, 2012 6:39am EST
ca.reuters.com

MANNHEIM, Germany (Reuters) - A German court on Friday dismissed two cases brought by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics against each other as part of a global battle for dominance in the market for smartphones and tablet devices.

The decision by a regional court in Mannheim covered a claim by Apple that Samsung infringed on its slide-to-lock technology as well as one of three patents Samsung claimed Apple violated.

The two cases were among a flurry of patent disputes being brought to courts in Germany, as well as other countries around the world, as makers of smartphones and tablets compete for a market worth billions of dollars.

The court in Mannheim already ruled against Samsung regarding the two other patents in January, and there are cases regarding four additional patents held by Samsung and several by Apple pending there.

The court is expected to make a decision on March 16 on another slide-to-unlock suit Apple has brought against Samsung.

Samsung said in a statement on Friday it welcomed the court's decision to dismiss Apple's claims, which it said confirms its position that the Galaxy range is distinctive and does not infringe Apple's intellectual property.

Apple was not immediately available to comment.

Apple first sued Samsung in April, claiming that the maker of the Galaxy range of smartphones and tablets "slavishly" copied Apple's iPhone and iPad models.

Samsung also said it was disappointed by the fact that the court also dismissed its patent case against Apple, which concerned 3G/UMTS-essential patents, and said it would lodge an appeal with the Higher Regional Court in Karlsruhe.

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From: sylvester803/2/2012 7:43:04 AM
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OMG! Always Innovating HDMI Android dongle gets an ICS update, we swing by for a taste (video)
By Zach Honig posted Mar 1st 2012 11:50AM
engadget.com


Always Innovating appears to be living up to its name, making significant progress on that clever HDMI Android dongle that we first heard of way back at CES. Now the company's TI OMAP4-based television companion is rockin' some Ice Cream Sandwich madness, drawing curious Mobile World Congressattendees into the Texas Instruments booth for a look. We happened upon the device on the last day of the show, and we couldn't help but be impressed. The premise here is quite simple: your "dumb TV" (i.e. one that isn't Internet-enabled) gives up one HDMI and one USB port (for power), in return connecting you to the wonderful world of Android 4.0. Think web browsing, tweeting, gaming (yes, even Angry Birds), video streaming -- that same experience you'll get with any Android tablet can now be had on your aging flat-screen TV.

Always Innovating isn't feeling inspired enough to take the lead on manufacturing, instead licensing the technology to third parties, but with some agreements signed and others on the way, this ICS solution on a stick may be hitting stores just in time to become this holiday season's ultimate stocking stuffer. Pricing is of course up to the manufacturers, but TI reps suggested that we might see these things pop up later this year in the $50-99 range, finally making Google on every TV a much more reasonable proposition. Care to take a gander at this stick-based wunderkind? Jump past the break for our hands-on.

Always Innovating HDMI Android dongle







VIDEO - engadget.com

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To: iggyl who wrote (16968)3/2/2012 7:49:17 AM
From: sylvester80
   of 29706
 
Apple's China audit seen raising both costs, wages
By Chris Oliver, Dow Jones Newswires
Friday 02 March 2012
totaltele.com

iPhone price increase likely as labour conditions improve in Chinese factories.
As auditors examine working conditions at the Chinese factories that make products for Apple Inc., industry analysts agree on one outcome: Your iPhone is going to cost more in the near future.

Sanford Bernstein analyst Alberto Moel in Hong Kong, who last autumn visited a Shenzhen factory where Chinese workers assemble some Apple gadgets, says the independent Fair Labor Association's current audit of Apple suppliers will very likely urge workplace improvements, inevitably meaning higher costs for Apple.

"In the end, it's a 'win win' for everybody except the end-consumer, who will probably end up paying more," Moel said.

Apple's decision to audit its contract manufacturers followed recent outcry among some of the company's customers concerning labor conditions at the Chinese factories that assemble many of the tech major's most popular devices.

Of particular focus is Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwan-based company with separately listed units in Hong Kong and Taipei that make handsets and computer devices for many of world's leading tech brands.

The company, China's largest private-sector employer, became the focus of international attention after an outbreak of worker suicides at one of its mainland Chinese plants over a 10-month period in 2010, prompting local protests.

In mid-February, a 30-member team of inspectors from FLA, a Washington-based monitoring organization, began conducting checks and employee interviews at Foxconn's factory in the southern city of Shenzhen, with the results of the audit due out later this month.

Moel wouldn't speculate in detail about what the FLA's findings would be, but said that iPhone retail prices could eventually rise by $10 or more per handset, reflecting the cost to improve working conditions under what has been a "free ride" for global consumers until now.

Currently, Apple's newest model iPhone, the 4S, usually retails for $199 with a two-year carrier contract, or as much as $849 without one.

Other analysts agreed that prices for Apple products could be headed higher.

Nomura said higher labor costs will raise the cost of manufacturing handsets by 2% for Foxconn.

Although seemingly small, the wage hike can have a huge impact on earnings, with the hike cited as among reasons for Nomura's downgrade in February on Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., the Hong Kong-listed unit that makes handsets for brands other than Apple, reversing a prior view to buy the shares.

Nomura is forecasting an earnings drop of 40% in the 2012 fiscal year, with Foxconn International already set to hike wages at its China factories by 20% on average this year, effective by the end of the first quarter, in compliance with previous guidance on wage increases by the Fair Labor Association. Not An Issue For Apple

Rising labor costs have already been budgeted into higher production costs for Apple, according to Nomura's Peter Liao in Taipei, who said that, unlike other smartphone brands, Apple has been able to lift prices with little damage to its market share.

"Apple has brand premium, but not other smartphone makers," said Liao, adding that Apple's profit margins on the iPhone were envied throughout the industry.

There was some evidence that smartphone rival Samsung Electronics Co. was also able to raise prices while retaining its appeal to customers, but the results were less encouraging for Taiwanese handset maker HTC Corp. after it unveiled a price-hike last year.

Liao said it wasn't clear how much Apple would need to raise prices to protect its profit margins, citing factors including new Apple-developed technology that may reduce overall costs of production.

The so-called "anchor company" of the Foxconn Technology Group--Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which for the most part handles the company's Apple account--may also have ways to help keep costs down.

Hon Hai plans to shift 60% of its Apple production, including much of its iPhone and iPad assembly work, to plants located near the inland Chinese cities of Chengdu and Zhengzhou by June.

Nomura said the lower wage levels at these cities, along with other issues related to scale of production, should lead to savings and helped prompt Nomura to raise its recommendation on Hon Hai last month to a buy rating. Bad But Not Worse

Meanwhile, Sanford Bernstein's Moel said his own impressions of the huge complex in Shenzhen run by Foxconn were of working conditions that ranked well in comparison to those offered by rival electronics employers in the region.

During the October visit, he noticed job seekers lined up to file employment applications, a likely sign, he said, that the sprawling industrial complex has a reasonable reputation among workers in spite of the suicides of 2010 and subsequent labor disputes.

In commissioning the FLA to carry out the audit, Apple is probably comfortable with the overall labor conditions at the plant and believes that the audit won't prove too damaging, Moel said.

It is even likely, he said, that Apple will encourage Foxconn to act on the auditors' recommendations, in the expectation the monitoring group will call for marginal improvements.

Still, Moel said, some of these could entail higher production costs that will require sacrifices on Apple's part.

"Foxconn will say 'OK, fine, we'll fix them, but you pay for them; you have to allow me more profits so that I can meet those requirements,'" Moel said.

And it wouldn't be the first time--Foxconn installed expensive ventilation equipment and automated part of the production process at its Chengdu plant in response to a consultant's report commissioned by Apple to look into an explosion last year that left three workers dead and others injured.

Moel said the Foxconn group has plenty of room for improvement and is only about half as efficient as other leading global manufacturers in terms of worker time to unit output.

"Hon Hai has to either pass on those higher [labor] costs to its customers such as Apple, or work on its productivity. It looks like it will do a mix of both," Moel said.

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To: iggyl who wrote (16968)3/2/2012 7:51:35 AM
From: sylvester80
   of 29706
 
Cheap Android phones 'crushing' Apple's iPhone in countries without subsidies
By Slash Lane
Published: 12:08 PM EST (09:08 AM PST)
appleinsider.com



A new report highlights a "rare weak spot" for Apple's iPhone: its heavy reliance on carrier subsidies to sell the iPhone to customers for much less than its true cost.

During Apple's last quarterly earnings conference call, company officials revealed that the average selling price of the iPhone is nearly $660. But consumers pay much less than that, with the difference subsidized by carriers in exchange for signing a new two-year service contract.

While that strategy has worked very well in countries like the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere, where carrier subsidies are the norm, it has presented problems for Apple in markets that are predominantly prepaid. Profiling this issue on Monday,The Wall Street Journal declared that cheaper Google Android phones are "crushing the iPhone" in European countries hit hardest by the ongoing debt crisis.

"Its performance in parts of southern Europe where most consumers don't sign contracts and have to pay full freight for phones suggests Apple's position could suffer if carriers tire of underwriting most of the cost of the devices, as some are in countries such as Denmark and Spain," the report said.

Data from IDC shows that Android took well more than half of the smartphone market in Greece and Portugal in 2011, while Apple had a very small presence both countries. It's a very different story in the U.K. and U.S., where Apple took roughly 25 percent of the entire smartphone market in 2011.

Greece's top-selling smartphone last year was the Samsung Galaxy Mini, which sells for just $188 without a contract. For comparison, an older model 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 sells new for $680 without a subsidy in Portugal.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last October that the prepaid market is "very, very important" to his company. He said that was one of the reasons the company continues to sell its entry-level iPhone 3GS, to reach lower price points in both prepaid and postpaid markets.

There have been rumors for years that Apple plans to introduce a so-called "iPhone nano" to increase its presence in prepaid markets, particularly China. But so far Apple has declined to build an entirely new model for emerging markets, opting instead to continue to sell previous-generation handsets at a lower price.

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To: iggyl who wrote (16968)3/2/2012 7:55:13 AM
From: sylvester80
   of 29706
 
Could Reliance on Subsidies be the iPhone's Undoing?
By Sterling Wong February 27, 2012 01:26 PM
minyanville.com

In the ever-evolving battle for smartphone supremacy between Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG), the clear winner so far has of course been the former, as iPhone sales doubled in the last quarter, helping the Cupertino-based company grab 24% of the smartphone market.

Even with its commanding lead, Apple cannot afford to be complacent. A gaggle of new devices are aiming to cut into the iconic phone’s market share, including Samsung’s Galaxy Beam, HTC’s One, and Nokia’s (NOK) Lumia 610 and 808 PureView featuring a 41 megapixel camera, all of which were revealed at the Mobile World Congress.

One advantage that non-Apple phones have always enjoyed is that they are priced much more competitively compared to iPhones, but this advantage is nullified in countries like the US and UK, where carrier subsidies have brought down the true cost of the phone.

However, as Anton Troianvoski of the Wall Street Journal notes, the competitive advantage Android phones have that is erased by carrier subsidies here has been magnified in parts of Europe, where economic strife and a practice of no subsidies means consumers are turning to cheaper Android alternatives.

In Portugal, for example, the Journal notes, the cheapest iPhone, an 8GB iPhone 4, retails for $680 at Vodafone, whereas an Android phone goes for as low as $106.

Similarly, the top-selling smartphone of 2011 for Greece’s biggest wireless carrier, Cosmote Mobile, was Samsung’s Galaxy Mini, which sold for $188 without a contract. “In this economic situation, we had to push the low-end smartphone,” Mr. Koutsonas told the Journal.

Without carriers underwriting a big chunk of the cost of iPhones, last year, Apple held only 5% and 9% of the smartphone market in Greece and Portugal, respectively.

The trend for the foreseeable future is that smartphones will get cheaper and cheaper. Based on a study by Informa Telecoms and Media, a research firm in London, by 2016, over 50% of smartphones sold will retail below $300. The share of those priced at less than $200 is expected to jump nearly fivefold from 5% now to 24% in the same time period.

The big question mark for Apple then is whether or not carriers worldwide will continue to subsidize expensive phones such as the iPhone in order to attract customers – Sprint, for example, is expected to make a profit only in 2015 after acquiring the iPhone last year, even though it did gain 161,000 total net customers last quarter thanks in large part to the Apple bestseller.

Besides carriers who might be taking a hit, Android subscribers on iPhone subsidizers like, say, AT&T (T) are also affected. The strategy of AT&T and other carriers is of course to earn back the $400 or so it subsidizes for each iPhone through the 2-year contract with higher monthly charges. However, another user who bought a lower-end smartphone, who did not get to enjoy the iPhone subsidy, will still have to pay the same inflated monthly fees in a 2-year contract.

Ultimately, Apple’s strategy of premium prices for premium products has proven to be ridiculously successful – the iPad 2’s $500 price tag hasn’t exactly hurt its sales – so there really isn’t a need for Apple to insist on employing the carrier subsidy model. If US carriers ever adopt the European model of not tethering the phone price to a contract, it will be a better test of whether customers will be willing to be pay the premium for the product (Chances are that they will be); it will provide lower-cost challengers, like the much-maligned blackberry from Research In Motion (RIMM), a fair crack at the market; and it will ensure no customer is unwittingly subsidizing the cost of another’s smartphone.

Read more: minyanville.com

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From: sylvester803/2/2012 8:10:05 AM
   of 29706
 
Without subsidies, crApple is a $200 stock... Sprint is a bankrupt company because of subsidies... the carriers are insane... they spend billions on subsidies only to spend more billions in network upgrades and infrastructure... they are 100% complete idiots that are driving their company to bankruptcy...

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To: iggyl who wrote (16968)3/2/2012 12:54:38 PM
From: sylvester80
   of 29706
 
BREAKING..Samsung Galaxy S III to be released next month after it's announced this month, says ZDNet Korea
Samsung Galaxy S III to be released next month after it's announced this month, says ZDNet Korea
by Phil Nickinson on 3/2/2012 | Filed Under: Smartphones, News, Rumors; Tags: android, samsung, smartphone, rumor, galaxy s iii, samsung galaxy s iii, samsung galaxy s3, galaxy s3 | 26 comments


The Samsung Galaxy S III (or now, apparently, the Galaxy S3) will be released in April, after it's announced in March, says ZDNet Korea,citing marketing sources. Could well happen. Or not. Of course, Samsung has to announce the phone, and then release dates will roll out worldwide as they always do -- slowly and gradually. And those of us here in the United States will have to wait for the carriers to make their own announcements. ZDNet's sources say it'll all revolve around some heavy Summer Olympics marketing, which would make sense.

We'll let you know when we actually see announcement invites or something ... what's that word ... official.

Source: ZDNet Korea

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From: zax3/2/2012 10:13:13 PM
   of 29706
 
Ask Ziggy 2.0 (video)
March 2, 2012 | By Surur



WPCentral have posted this video demonstrating the upcoming new version of Ask Ziggy, the Siri-like app for Windows Phone 7.5.

The app’s vocabulary has increased tremendously, and is now able to set reminders and use your GPS location.

The app will remain free and should hit marketplace shortly

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