Sunday, 27 January 2013

Global tablet sales to hit 145 million in 2013: Research


Global tablet computer sales are expected to hit 145 million this year, a research firm said Wednesday in the latest upgrade of the sizzling segment.
ABI Research said it raised its forecast due to "a combination of new market entrants, more affordable choices for consumers, and increased adoption by business audiences."
"The rate of innovation is slowing as tablet vendors augment their product portfolios to meet the needs of market audiences," says ABI's Jeff Orr.
"The late 2012 launches of Apple's iPad mini and a variety of slates based on Intel architecture and new Windows operating systems will only begin to show their progress this year."
ABI said North America will account for just over 50 percent of worldwide sales.
Business sales are expected to account for 19 percent of the total, as corporate customers look to newer models aimed at their users.
Sales data from 2012 are still being compiled, but some forecasts indicated the total number of tablets sold would be around 126 million.

Sony rumoured to be working on 6.44-inch full-HD device


2013 is being called the Year of the phablet and for good reason. A niche category that came into existence with the launch of Samsung's Galaxy Note, is now being populated with devices from companies like Huawei, HTC, ZTE and even Indian manufacturers like Micromax, Karbonn and Byond.

Sony that had already entered the category with its 5-inch full-HD Xperia Z, which it unveiled  at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It now seems to be working on a much bigger phablet this time round.

Engadget reports that a leaked image posted on the Chinese-language Digi-wo forum shows a 6.44-inch display screen along with a claim that the screen for this component has 1080p HD resolution. Apart from this, there is no other detail regarding the device. For all we know, it could just be a prototype of an upcoming device or even a fake image. With Mobile World Congress (MWC) being round the corner, one should not be surprised if the device does make an appearance there.

Huawei launched two new devices this year at CES. The company's new flagship Ascend D2 comes with a 5-inch display and the Ascend Mate sports a big 6.1-inch IPS+ LCD capacitive touchscreen.

HTC came into the phablet arena with the J Butterfly, which was the first full-HD device and has a 5-inch display. A more recent entrant is the ZTE Nubia Z5 featuring a 5-inch full-HD display. The company is already rumoured to be working on the Nubia Z7 that will have a 6.3-inch display with a screen resolution of 2560x1440 pixels. The Chinese company also took the wraps off of its Grand S, which is being flaunted as the world's thinnest 5-inch full-HD smartphone.

Indian device manufacturer Byond Tech recently introduced the Phablet PIII sporting a massive 6.3-inch display. Karbonn, on the other hand launched the dual-SIM A30 Android device with a 5.9-inch display. Micromax jumoed into the bandwagon with the A116 Canvas HD with a 5-inch 720p IPS display.

Coming back to Samsung, the company that started it all, post the success of its Galaxy Note, the company went ahead and launched the Galaxy Note II that came with a bigger 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display.

The company is now gearing up for a third generation Galaxy Note III, which is rumoured to sport a 6.3-inch screen and will perhaps come with recently announced Exynos 5 Octa processor as well. Samsung also recently launched the 5-inch Galaxy Grand earlier this week.

Fast-changing features on social media sites triggering new wave of compliance challenges


Fast-changing features on social media sites are triggering a new wave of compliance challenges for financial advisers at a time when many are just becoming comfortable with the technology in the first place.
As social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter develop new ways to engage users, financial advisers and their firms will start 2013 with related compliance hassles to make sure they are not running afoul of firm policies. For some, it means adding new policies.
Case in point a new LinkedIn feature that lets users "endorse" the skills and expertise of other users. That may be a great tool to show off an adviser's professional acumen, but receiving endorsements could also violate securities industry advertising regulations, say compliance professionals.
LinkedIn's "Skills & Expertise" feature is just one of an explosive number of changes in the fast-growing social media landscape. Many brokerages and registered investment advisers, once skittish about letting employees use the sites, now have little choice but to allow access while at the same time monitoring outgoing changes to avoid regulatory trouble.
The task can be overwhelming. Last year, Facebook made an average of 41 changes per week, according to Actiance Inc, a software company that provides social media compliance and monitoring services to businesses. LinkedIn and Twitter each made up to four changes weekly.
Many changes are small technical fixes, but others ultimately lead to sweeping new features, said Joanna Belbey, Actiance social media and compliance specialist. They include ways of posting updates to wider audiences for a fee or sending new types of virtual gifts to friends. But these new features, if used, can also push advisers into dangerous waters.
"Social media is going to improve and the rate of enhancements will happen even faster now," said Michael Byrnes, a practice management coach and president of Boston-based Byrnes Consulting LLC. "It will be a challenge for advisory firms to keep up."
Endorse me
LinkedIn's "Skills & Expertise" endorsement feature, launched in September, complements an older feature that lets contacts write recommendations for one another.
Users can endorse contacts by clicking on subjects of expertise that hover above each person's profile, such as expertise in "venture capital" or "retirement plans." They can also add new categories. LinkedIn profiles publicly display the names of those who "endorsed" those individuals.
The sticking point: Endorsements are testimonials, which are heavily restricted for advisers working at brokerages - and the firms themselves - and not permitted for registered investment advisers, say compliance professionals.
There is only one option for most advisers: Turn off the endorsements feature so they do not publicly appear, said Cathy Vasilev, vice president of Red Oak Compliance Solutions LLC in Fredericksburg, Texas. That is especially true for advisers who register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and are flatly prohibited from using testimonials.
While securities brokers who register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) can use testimonials, they must include a wordy disclosure explaining, among other things, that the adviser did not pay for the endorsement, Vasilev said. That could be difficult to squeeze into a LinkedIn profile, she said. What's more, many brokerages have their own policies that prohibit testimonials.
To hide LinkedIn endorsements, click on "edit profile," under the "profile" tab. Scroll down to the "Skills & Expertise" section and click on the pencil icon. There is an option to click on "no, do not show my endorsements," using the "manage endorsements" feature.
In control
Some firms eliminate possible social media regulatory snafus by using software that watches out for new social networking features, among other things, and automatically turns them off. The service, available through companies such as Actiance Inc and Global Relay Communications Inc, can cost between $5 and $25 monthly per adviser.
That can buy some time while firms get up to speed on new features and develop policies for their use, such as requiring advisers to hide endorsements, or bar them from sending gifts.
Firms that have not fully thought out their social media compliance programs should shy away from the sites to solicit clients, said Jervis Hough, founder of Taurus Compliance Consulting LLC in Aventura, Florida.
Before they undertake client solicitation, advisers must be taught how their existing policies apply to certain activities on social networking sites, he said.
Also, advisers who pay to "promote" their Facebook posts and Tweets, for example, could easily run afoul of industry and firm communication rules that require safeguards, such as preapproval from the compliance department, said Hough.
Another possible stumbling block is a Facebook feature that lets users send gifts through the site, such as credits for coffee company Starbucks Corp. Regulators and firms already impose strict limits on gift-giving tied to business. Advisers could exceed them, or fail to follow their firm's procedures for keeping track of gifts.
Firms and advisers should hold off on ramping up social networking activities until they put compliance parameters in place, Hough said.

© Thomson Reuters 2012

Twitter rolls out update for embedded tweets


Twitter has rolled out an update for its embedded tweets feature that bring along quite a few enhancements. The update makes it easier and faster to embed tweets. Now, to embed a tweet, all that a user has to do is click on the 'More' option at the bottom of the tweet and select "Embed Tweet". A new dialog box pops open, which displays the HTML code and also the preview of what the tweet will look like.

Under the 'More' section, there is also an option available to "Email Tweet'. Earlier to embed any tweet, one had to choose Expand from the bottom of the tweet, then click on Details, and then select the embed option. The 'More' option is available for users on and TweetDeck.

Also now the embedded tweets on the websites will look similar to how they appear on Fundamentally, the new embeds are better at displaying the Twitter card and as a result pictures, videos and article summaries look much better than before. The embedded tweets now display live retweets and favourites count as well.

The microblogging site is claiming that post the rollout of these changes, embedded tweets should load faster on third-party websites. Talking about these new changes, Twitter's Jason Costa shares on the company's official blog, "To make sure embedded Tweets load quickly, we've reduced the number of HTTP requests required to display an embedded Tweet and improved rendering speed in the browser."

Twitter introduced the embedded tweet feature in December 2011 that allowed users to follow the tweeter there and then and also reply, retweet and favourite tweets. Prior to this, Twitter introducedupdates to TweetDeck with faster navigation, and Twitter for iOS and Android which added the ability to expand tweets.

Sony fined in UK over PlayStation cyber-attack


British regulators fined Sony 250,000 pounds ($396,100) on Thursday for having insufficient security measures to prevent a cyber-attack on its PlayStation Network.
The attack in April 2011 targeted credit card information through Sony's PlayStation Network and put millions of users' personal information - including names, addresses, birth dates and account passwords at risk.
Britain's Information Commissioner's Office said Thursday that security measures in place at the time "were simply not good enough." It said the attack could have been prevented if software had been up to date, while passwords were also not secure.
David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of data protection, acknowledged that the fine for a "serious breach of the Data Protection Act" was "clearly substantial" but said that the office makes "no apologies" for that.
"There's no disguising that this is a business that should have known better," he said in a statement. "It is a company that trades on its technical expertise, and there's no doubt in my mind that they had access to both the technical knowledge and the resources to keep this information safe."
Smith called the case "one of the most serious ever reported" to the data regulator.

Apple misses revenue forecast, stirs concern over growth


Apple Inc missed Wall Street's revenue forecast for the third straight quarter after iPhone sales came in below expectations, fanning fears that its dominance of the mobile industry was slipping.
Shares of the world's largest tech company fell 10 percent to $463 in after-hours trade, wiping out some $50 billion of its market value - nearly equivalent to that of Hewlett-Packard and Dell, combined.
On Wednesday, Apple said it shipped a record 47.8 million iPhones in the December quarter, up 29 percent from the year-ago period. But that lagged the 50 million that analysts on average had projected.
Expectations heading into the results had been subdued by news of possible production cutbacks by some component suppliers in Asia, triggering fears that demand for the iPhone, which accounts for half of Apple's revenue, and the iPad could be slowing.
But many investors clung to hopes for a repeat of years of historical outperformance, analysts said.
"It's going to call into question Apple's dominance in the space. It's still one of the strong players, the others being Samsung and Google. It's still a two-horse race, but Android continues to grow rapidly," said Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu.
"If you step back a bit, it's clear they shipped a lot of phones. But the problem is the high expectations that investors have. Apple's conservative guidance highlights the concerns over production cuts coming out of Asia recently."
Apple projected revenue of $41 billion to $43 billion in the current, second fiscal quarter, lagging the average Wall Street forecast of more than $45 billion.
Fiscal first quarter revenue rose 18 percent to $54.5 billion, below the average analyst estimate of $54.73 billion, though earnings per share of $13.81 beat the Street forecast of $13.47, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Apple also undershot revenue targets in the previous two quarters, and these results will prompt more questions on what Apple has in its product pipeline, and what it can do to attract new sales and maintain its growth trajectory, analysts said.
Net income of $13.07 billion was virtually flat with $13.06 billion a year earlier on higher manufacturing costs. The year-ago quarter also had an extra week compared to this year.
Gross margins consequently slid to 38.6 percent, from 44.7 percent previously.
"You can't just keep rolling out iPhones and iPads and think that everybody needs a new one," said Jeffrey Gundlach, who runs DoubleLine Capital LP, the $53 billion bond firm. "The mini? What is that all about? It is a slightly smaller iPad - so what? So that is our new definition of innovation?"
"There are plenty of competitors like Samsung and other legitimate competitors like them," added Gundlach, one of the highest-profile Apple bears. He maintains a $425 price target.
Shares of several of Apple's suppliers crumbled. Chip suppliers Skyworks and Cirrus Logic both fell more than 6 percent. Qualcomm Inc slipped 1.8 percent.
China is next big growth driver
Apple shares are down nearly 30 percent from a record high in September, in part on worries that its days of hyper growth are over and its mobile devices are no longer as popular.
Intense competition from Samsung's cheaper phones - powered by Google's Android software - and signs that the premium smartphone market may be close to saturation in developed markets have also caused a lot of investor anxiety.
Meanwhile, sales of the iPad came in at 22.9 million in the fiscal first quarter, roughly in line with forecasts.
On the brighter side, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer told Reuters that iPhone sales more than doubled in greater China - a region that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has vowed to focus on as its next big growth driver.
The company will begin detailing results from that country going forward. Revenue from the region totaled $7.3 billion, up 60 percent from the year-ago December quarter.
"These results were OK, but they definitely raised a few questions," said Shannon Cross, analyst with Cross Research. "Gross margin trajectory looks fine so that's a positive and cash continues to grow. But I think investors are going to want to know what Apple plans to do with growing cash balance."
"And other questions are going to be around innovation and where the next products are coming from and what does Tim Cook see in the next 12 to 18 months."
Addressing production rumors
In an unusual move for Apple, which typically does not respond to speculation, Cook addressed the production cutback rumors at length on the conference call and questioned the accuracy of rumors about its plans.
Media reports earlier this month said the company is slashing orders for iPhone 5 and iPad screens and other components from its Asian suppliers.
"Even if a particular data point were factual, it would be impossible to accurately interpret the data point as to what it meant for our overall business, because the supply chain is very complex," he said, adding that Apple has multiple sources for components.
"Yields might vary. Supplier performance can vary. The beginning inventory positions can vary. There's just an inordinately long list of things that would make any single data point not a great proxy for what's going on," he said.
Apple's initial iPhone and iPad mini sales were hurt by supply constraints, but Cook expects supply to balance demand for the iPad mini this quarter. He also acknowledged that iPad was cannibalizing its high-margin Macintosh computers, but said it was a huge opportunity for the company.
"On iPad in particular, we have the mother of all opportunities here, because the Windows market is much, much larger than the Mac market is," he said. And I think it is clear that it's already cannibalizing some."
In another departure from tradition, Apple intends to tweak the way it both reports results and publishes forecasts.
Apart from breaking out results from China, the company also will no longer provide a single revenue or gross margin outlook. From Wednesday, it began providing the range it expects to hit, rather than the often-ludicrously conservative estimates that Apple was once notorious for.
The new policy took many by surprise.
"Before people could always ignore the guidance," said Dan Niles, Chief Investment Officer of AlphaOne Capital Partners, LLC. "Apple is telling investors that they need to pay attention to the guidance and you can't ignore it, which is basically what we all did in the past."
© Thomson Reuters 2012

Nokia Drive+ now available for non-Nokia Windows Phone 8 devices in US, UK and Canada


One of the key differentiators for Nokia's Windows Phone devices, the company's navigation app, is now available to all Windows Phone 8 users in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. The app, which is called Nokia Drive+, is still in Beta and is available for free on the Windows Phone Store.
This essentially means that users who own Windows Phone 8 devices made by HTC (Samsung's devices have still not gone on sale), will be able to experience features like full turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation, offline maps, speed limit warnings, and day and night modes, which were till now, only available on Nokia's Windows Phone devices.
It's worth noting that Nokia had announced that it would make Nokia Drive available to other Windows Phone 8 partners in 110 countries, coinciding with the announcement of the Windows Phone 8 platform, in June 2012. Nokia's location assets are one of the richest, with map data for nearly 200 countries. So Microsoft's strategic partnership with Nokia which aims at strengthening the Windows Phone ecosystem is finally bearing fruit. We are looking forward to Nokia releasing the app in other markets, including India, soon.

Samsung to launch 'Galaxy Tab 3' tablets in 2013, Note 8.0 could be priced between $249-$299: Report


A day ago we had shared an indicative product roadmap for Samsung's devices that are expected to launch during the course of this year. The company's tablet plans include the Galaxy Note 8.0, which is more or less confirmed for an Mobile World Congress (MWC) release. Now, according to Digitimes, we know that the 8-inch tablet could see a price range of $249-$299.

The report also mentions that the company is also planning to launch 7-inch and 10.1-inch tablets along with many ultrabooks this year. The 7-inch tablet we know of, may be priced between $149-$199. Rumoured specs for this tablet include a full-HD display, Android Jelly Bean and a quad-core processor. 

The Galaxy Note 8.0 has been spotted quite often lately, with the latest appearance in the form of a leaked press image listing out some of the earlier rumoured specifications of the tablet.

From the looks of it, the Galaxy Note 8.0 will compete head on with Apple's iPad mini. The specs listed in the image seem to be in line with previous rumours mentioning an 8-inch 1280x800 display as opposed to iPad mini's display 1024x768 across 7.9-inches.

Other specs listed include a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor, 2GB RAM, options of 16/32GB as internal storage, Android 4.2, 5-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, A-GPS, HSPA+ and LTE support and the famed S-Pen. It is expected to come with a 4,600mAh battery.

There are also speculations doing the rounds that Samsung may launch two versions of Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 - Samsung GT-N5100, which will be a 3G+Wi-Fi version and the GT-N5110, which will be a Wi-Fi only version.

Samsung dedicated blog SamMobile further reports that the next generation Galaxy tablets will be branded as Galaxy Tab 3 and will include the 7-inch and 10.1-inch versions, both with and without 3G support as part of this series. These will feature a 5-megapixel camera.

Furthermore, citing their Korean insider, the blog states that these Galaxy tablets will be developed under the codename "SANTOS" and their new code numbers would be GT-P3200, GT-P3210, GT-P5200 and GT-P5210.

Additionally, there will also be a high-end tablet from the Korean manufacturer, the GT-P8200 currently codenamed "ROMA" that will come in 16 and 32GB variants.

Though the specifications of these tablets remain unknown as of now, they are expected to reach markets in the first half of the year. Apart from tablets, the previously leaked roadmap also shows phones including Galaxy Pocket Plus, Galaxy X Cover 2, Galaxy Young and Galaxy Chat 226.

The company's next flagship device, the Galaxy S IV codenamed 'Altius' is expected to be announced in March and go on sale in April. Samsung is also planning to launch the 5.8-inch Galaxy Fonblet in Pure White with Android Jelly Bean straight out of the box and feature dual-SIM capabilities as well.

TDSAT disposes of Tata Communications pleas against MTNL


Telecom tribunal TDSAT has allowed the plea of Tata Communications and directed state- owned MTNL to produce the documents showing the ISD call rates that it charged from customers in Delhi and Mumbai.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal however denied the plea of Tata Communications to direct the PSU to produce the internal letter based on which IUC amounts were paid by MTNL to the company.
The pleas relate to the dispute Tata Communications and MTNL have over the payment of Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) charges for the period between May 2005 to May 2008 and the matter is before TDSAT.
In the first plea, the tribunal was of view that ISD rates were already available on MTNL's website and in public domain, and Tata Communications can get those by paying the charges.
"Without going into the merits and relevance of these documents and in view of the statement made by the learned counsel for the respondent (MTNL), it is directed that a copy of these published documents may be supplied to the petitioner (Tata Communications) subject to the payment of Rs 2,000 by the petitioner," TDSAT said while allowing Tata's application.
Meanwhile, on the issue of internal correspondence on payment and adjustment of IUC charges, the tribunal was of view that there was no need for those documents at this stage as payments have been made.
TDSAT said "I am of the opinion that any approval made internally by the MTNL may not be relevant for adjudication of this petition specifically when the Tata Communication is admitting the bills paid. The adjudication will depend upon whether the parties have made payments based on the existing terms and conditions of the contract.
"So, there is no need to call for the records of the respondent at this stage. However, if it is considered relevant, this Tribunal may consider to call for any record from the respondent at the time of final hearing.

Windows Phone 7.8 update expected on January 31: Microsoft


Finally, there is some bit of good news for smartphone users with Windows Phone 7.5 devices. It seems that Microsoft is all set to roll out a Windows Phone 7.8 update for these smartphones shortly.
Recently, Microsoft posted an optional Windows Phone SDK Update for Windows Phone 7.8 on its developer's blog. This update offers two new Windows Phone 7.8 emulator images to the existing SDK installation. With the help of these two emulator images the developers will be able to fully test how their Windows Phone 7.5 app's Live Tiles will look and behave when they are running on Windows Phone 7.8 devices.
With the help of this update, Windows Phone users will be able resize their Live Tiles much like the Windows Phone 8 users. Users will have the option to choose from three different sizes for tiles on the home screen. The update will also bring new themes and accent colours along with a new lock screen option to automatically display the Bing picture of the day.
More recent reports have indicated that Microsoft will be launching the Windows Phone 7.8 update pretty soon. The British telecom carrier O2 had indicated that the update will be rolled out by the end of January while Microsoft's Colombian Facebook page had posted that this update will arrive on January 31, 2013. From the current scheme of things it appears that it's just a matter of days when Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 users will get an update notification.
Furthermore, Microsoft has also posted in its blog that, "new phones with Windows Phone 7.8 are beginning to ship." Not sure of what Microsoft is trying to indicate through this. To us it can mean two things. One, handset makers might be planning to ship their existing smartphones pre-loaded with Windows Phone 7.8 in the near future. Second, it could mean that the company is planning to launch new smartphones on the lines of Nokia Lumia 510 and Nokia Lumia 610 with Windows Phone 7.8. In either case, we will have to wait a little longer to know how things unfold in the future.
Microsoft has already announced the most recent version of its mobile operating system - Windows Phone 8 - in October 2012. Currently, Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 820, HTC 8X and HTC 8S are already shipping in India with Windows Phone 8 and it is expected for companies like Huawei and Samsung to soon bring their Windows Phone 8 smartphones in India.

LG Display posts robust Q4 profit amid Apple worries


LG Display Co Ltd reported a second consecutive quarterly profit, beating forecasts by far on a rebound in television sales during the year-end holiday season and solid sales of screens used in Apple Inc's iPad and iPhone.
But concerns about slower growth for Apple products have risen, particularly in the wake of disappointing earnings from the U.S. company on Wednesday, and analysts have forecast earnings for the South Korean screen maker to slide in the first quarter.
LG Display said it expected its LCD panel shipments to decline by around 15 percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter.
The company, which provides about 70 percent of Apple iPad screens and vies with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's panel unit for the top position in liquid crystal display flat screens globally, reported 587 billion won in operating profit for the October-December quarter.
That beat an average prediction for a 441 billion won profit in a poll of eight analysts by Thomson Reuters and was up from an operating loss of 155 billion won for the same period a year earlier.
It also marks its highest quarterly profit since the second quarter of 2010 and a continuation of a turnaround that began in July-September after seven straight quarters of losses, mainly due to an industry oversupply of TV panels. Sales rose to 8.7 trillion won in the quarter, a quarterly record.
Apple sold 18 million more iPhones in the December quarter from the previous quarter, as it expanded iPhone 5 sales. The introducion of the iPad mini also boosted LG's panel shipments.
But hit by growing worries about demand for Apple products, LG Display's shares have lost about 17 percent since December after gaining 40 percent in the first 11 months of 2012. Prior to the results, they closed down 1.2 percent, underperforming a 0.8 percent decline in the broader market.
Apple's iPhone sales were, however, weaker than expected, fanning fears that its dominance of the mobile industry was slipping.
In forecasts made prior to Apple and LG Display's reuslts, analysts expect LG Display's first-quarter operating profit to tumble to around 123 billion won.
CLSA analyst Matt Evans estimated this week that LG's iPad panel shipments could tumble to as few as 2 million units in the first quarter, from the fourth-quarter's 12 million, partly due to increased inventory following weak sales in December.
Two industry sources told Reuters last week that rival Sharp Corp of Japan has nearly halted production of 9.7-inch screens for iPad, possibly as demand shifts to the iPad mini.
Sharp supplies around 17 percent of Apple's iPad screens while Samsung provides 12 percent, according to research firm DisplaySearch.
Apple's Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said iPad sales are expected to fall in the first-quarter, as they normally do after the year-end holiday season.
© Thomson Reuters 2012

Temple Run 2 released for Android


As promised a week ago, the sequel to the most popular never-ending running game, Temple Run has arrived for Android users, who can now head over to the Google Play Store to download Temple Run 2 and start running again!

The game, which launched for iOS last week has already crossed a whopping 20 million downloads in just four days. Fans have already played the game 210 million times. That's over 1,775 years of gameplay. The free app reigned the charts of the App Store as the 'top free app' for 12 hours after its debut.

"The response from fans has been overwhelming. We are thrilled players want more of the Temple Run universe, and we hope to grow and expand the game over the coming months," says Keith Shepherd, co-founder of Imangi.

Developed by Imangi Studios, the original game was an instant hit with over 170 million downloads across the App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Marketplace.

In June last year, Imangi Studios had teamed up with Disney for a special edition of the game and brought Temple Run Brave for iOS and Android, with the the locale and character based on the Disney - Pixar movie, Brave. You are in control of Merida, the main protagonist - helping her run, slide, jump and turn and shoot your way across the wilds of Scotland.

Temple Run 2 promises beautiful new graphics, more vibrant environs, new hurdles, more power ups and achievements. The basic gameplay stays true to the original game, which means you still are the thief behind the stolen cursed idol and continue running. But this time round, there's one huge weird-faced monkey chasing you down the temple cliffs and ruins instead of three as seen in the original game.

The sequel has also introduced rope swinging and mine trailer riding sequences reminiscent of a game called Pitfall! Nevertheless, the game is even more exciting and colourful than before.

Temple Run 2 (iOS, Free)
Temple Run 2 Google Play, Free)

Google to roll out revamped Image Search


Google has redesigned its image search, Google Images, to offer a better and more streamlined search experience.
The search giant informed through a blog post that the new interface, which is being gradually rolled out to all users, will display image search results within an inline panel, and users will be able to flip through images displayed on the results page by using their keyboard.
In contrast to the current version, where users are taken to a separate page to preview the image with an iframe on the side that displays the name of the site, information about the size and resolution and type, the revamped image search listing will display detailed information about the image, including metadata, right underneath its preview on the results page.
Details such as the title of the page hosting the image, the domain name it originates from, and the image size will be displayed prominently next to the image, as per Google. Users will be able to browse other search listings by scrolling down and selecting another image.
It appears that the new version, which is a bit similar to Google's Image search on tablets, might have been designed keeping in consideration touchscreen laptops, desktops and hybrid devices.
Google has also made changes through which it claims that sites hosting the images will see an increase in average click-through rates. The new search interface will allow users to click on the domain name (unlike the current interface), and the listing will also feature a clickable button to visit the page hosting the image, and another button to view the image.
Google says that the changes will speed up the experience for users, reduce the load on the source website's servers, and improve accuracy of metrics like pageviews for websites.

US ITC to review Apple patent complaint against Samsung


A U.S. trade panel that specializes in patent disputes will review a potentially key decision in the patent fight between Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc over smartphones and tablets.
The panel, the International Trade Commission, also sent part of the dispute back to judge, who ruled in October that Samsung, the world's top maker of smartphones, infringed four Apple patents but did not violate two others.
The full commission said on Wednesday it would review the judge's decision, and asked the agency judge to take a second look at portions of two patents where he had found that Samsung infringed.
One of the patents in question allows the use of a headset with the smartphone while the other allows the device to show an image on a screen with a second, translucent image over it.
Apple had filed a complaint in mid-2011, accusing Samsung of infringing its patents in making its Captivate, Transform and Fascinate smartphones, as well as the Galaxy Tablet.
Apple is waging war on several fronts against Google, whose Android software powers many of Samsung's devices. The battles between Apple and Samsung have taken place in some 10 countries as they vie for market share in the booming mobile industry.
The case at the International Trade Commission is No. 337-796.
© Thomson Reuters 2012

Bharti group to expand in Africa: Sunil Mittal


Indian telecom czar Sunil Bharti Mittal on Wednesday said that Bharti group wants to expand presence in Africa, which has high growth potential and needs huge investments for infrastructure development.
The chief of Bharti group, which already has significant presence in Africa's telecom space, said that infrastructure could become a major challenge for the continent's growth.
The commitment that people like us have made in the continent (Africa) is good.
We want to expand in Africa," Mittal said at the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting Davos.
Participating in a session on 'De-risking Africa', Mittal expressed happiness over the active participation of African governments in working with investors.
Even USD 93 billion (investment) in infrastructure (in Africa) is not enough.
It is a large continent, it has got a lot of catching up to do," Mittal noted.
Mittal is the Founder-Chairman and Group CEO of Bharti Enterprises.
According to him, Africa would need a lot of investment in infrastructure.
It (infrastructure) is to my mind the greatest risk to Africa's growth story.
If you can have hard infrastructurein place, that is where the governments must concentrate," Mittal said.
In a deal that made Bharti Airtel one of the world's biggest mobile phone company (in terms of subscriber base), the company in 2010 had snapped up Zain's Africa operations in a deal worth over USD 10 billion.
The transaction bolstered Bharti group's presence in the fast growing African telecom market, where it had more than 5.86 crore customers at the end of September last year.
Mittal also noted that the narrative in Africa is changing very fast and many countries are moving up the good growth curve.
From the point of view of investors, one of the things to see is the political leadership, to secure investments, to ensure that there are no major fallouts of any terror activity which have recently developed, importantly manage foreign exchange which does not deliver shocks, develop robust financial sector like India, deeper stock markets and the rest will follow," the Bharti chief noted.

Governments world over fishing for more user data from Google


Google is being pulled into an increasing number of police and government investigations around the world as authorities seek to learn more about the people who use its Internet search engine, email and other services.
The latest snapshot of law enforcement agencies' efforts to extract personal information from Google emerged in a Wednesday report from the company.
Governments presented Google with 21,389 requests for information on 33,634 of its users during the last six months of 2012. The number of requests was up 17 percent from a year earlier.
Authorities in the U.S. delivered nearly 8,438 of the requests, representing nearly 40 percent of the worldwide total. The U.S. volume was one-third higher than in the same period the previous year.
Subpoenas accounted for 68 percent of U.S. requests, followed by search warrants at 22 percent. A mix of court orders and other legal demands made up the remaining U.S. requests for user information from Google.
India generated the second highest number of user requests during the final half of last year at 2,431, a 10 percent increase from the previous year.
Since 2010, Google Inc. has been disclosing the total number of subpoenas, search warrants and other legal requests that it receives.
The company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., said it plans to release a report within the next few months on the number of government demands it receives to remove videos, blog entries and other content from its services. That data also will cover the July-December period.

HTC M7 to be announced on February 19 ahead of MWC: Source


Everyone's eyeing HTC's second full-HD device that is expected to come out soon. How soon? Well, according to Twitter user @flapic, the HTC M7 could be launched at an event in London on February 19.

Until now, we were hoping to see the device at the Mobile World Congress scheduled to take place between February 25-28. But if HTC plans to launch it a week earlier at a separate event, it is likely to garner more attention.

The HTC M7 has been rumoured for quite a while now, with recent ones indicating the possible look and feel of the device. It's also been spotted running on the company's latest and yet-to-be-made official Sense 5.0 UI.

Earlier this month, leaked images of the smartphone showed the HTC M7 running Sense 5.0 and of what perhaps might be the new lockscreen. An earlier image posted by Pocketnow depicted that HTC may have gotten rid of the ring and introduced a swipe-based gesture instead to unlock the screen.

More recently, a render of the device surfaced online, which seemed to be a part of some animation clip instructing new owners on how to install the SIM card in their smartphone.

Earlier rumoured specifications of the device indicate a 4.7-inch full-HD display, making it an incredible 468ppi. Other alleged specs include a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 12-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel one in the front.

Initial rumours, however, were suggestive of a 5-inch full-HD display and a 13-megapixel camera. But seems like the Taiwanese manufacturer is keeping the 5-inch screen exclusive to its first 1080p device, the HTC Butterfly.

htc-butterfly-white.jpgSpeaking of the Butterfly, a White variant of the device is expected to go on sale Thursday in China and has already received 400,000 pre-orders within 24 hours, reports Unwired View via MIC Gadget. This version has been priced identical to the red and black variants already available in the country at 4,799 yuan.

The J Butterfly was launched in Japan in October last year and is the first full-HD smartphone of the world with the device sporting a huge 440ppi display. Other features of the HTC J Butterfly include 1.5GHz Qualcomm S4 Pro quad-core processor, 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage.

The smartphone also comes with 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera, Android 4.1, HTC Sense 4+ and 2020 mAh battery.Connectivity options include HDMI out, microUSB, Infrared, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC.

The J Butterfly is a Japan specific model, while the international version of the device is simply called Butterfly. We're hoping for the device to reach Indian shores soon.

Symantec CEO plans layoffs, no asset sales


Symantec Corp, which completed a strategic review in January, plans to lay off a significant number of managers and reorganize internally into 10 main business areas, but has decided not to sell off major assets for now.
Chief Executive Officer Steve Bennett told Reuters in an exclusive interview that Janice Chaffin, consumer business president, will leave the company as part of the restructuring, which will usher in 10 product-focused divisions including security, cloud and backup software.
Bennett, brought onboard last year with a mandate to turn around the faltering security software specialist, also said the company will pay out its first-ever dividend starting next quarter, targeting a 2.5 percent yield based on its January 22 closing price of $20.86.
"We looked at five different scenarios and modeled them all and talked about them all," Bennett said in an exclusive interview. They included divesting specific units among Symantec's portfolio such as a highly profitable consumer anti-virus business and a sluggish storage management and backup software unit.
"We can create a lot more value by running the company," Bennett told Reuters in the interview ahead of a meeting with analysts on Wednesday afternoon.
The former head of Intuit Inc and a General Electric veteran would not say how many managers would be laid off, but managers at his company on average have fewer than five people reporting to them among the comany's 20,000 employees. That is about half as many as managers at a typical company, he noted.
Symantec expects $275 million in severance payments as a result of the layoffs, which will be conducted through June.
Bennett replaced Enrique Salem as CEO in July and vowed to turn around Symantec, saying he would apply lessons he learned from the GE corporate playbook during the more than two decades he managed a variety of the industrial conglomerate's businesses.
Details of the company's restructuring came the same day Symantec reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations and said it was splitting the chief executive and chairman jobs.
The company's shares were holding steady at $21.66 in after-hours trade, from a close of $21.46 on the Nasdaq.
© Thomson Reuters 2012

Apple ships record 47.8 million iPhones and 22.9 million iPads in Q1 2013


Apple's blockbuster revenue growth is slowing drastically, as iPhone sales plateau and the company finds itself lacking revolutionary new products.
The company's warning, issued Wednesday as part of its financial results for the holiday quarter, sent Apple Inc.'s stock plunging by more than 10 percent, wiping out a year's worth of gains.
Analysts said the warning suggested Apple can no longer sustain its growth without some completely new products. Its last revolutionary creation, the iPad, was launched in 2010. Co-founder Steve Jobs, who was the engine behind the creation of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, died in 2011.
"It has been an overriding concern with Apple that they would not be able to generate revenue growth just rolling out new versions of old products," said Jeff Sica, president and chief investment officer of SICA Wealth Management. "Now they've proven it in their numbers."
On a conference call with analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook rebutted that idea, but as usual, gave no details.
"We're working on some incredible stuff. The pipeline is chock full," he said.
Before he died in 2011, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had figured out how to create a groundbreaking, easy-to-use TV set. Since then, company watchers have been waiting for the company to bring out something in that vein to re-energize sales. Cook said the company was still working on it.
"I tend to believe that there's a lot we can contribute in the space, and so we continue to pull the string and see where it leads us," he said.
Apple said it expects sales of between $41 billion and $43 billion in the current quarter, which ends in March. That would usually be little cause for concern, even though analysts were expecting $45.6 billion, because Apple usually lowballs its forecasts. But Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said the company is changing its practices and providing a reasonable range rather than a single, easily achievable number.
That means Apple is looking at sales growth of about 7 percent from last year's January to March quarter, a striking number for a company that's posted double-digit increases in every quarter except one since 2008.
Apple's stock fell $55.58 to $458.43 in extended trading, after the release of the results. The shares are down 35 percent from their all-time high, hit Sept. 21, when the iPhone 5 launched.
Fueled by earlier versions of the iPhone, Apple's market capitalization decisively overtook that of Exxon Mobil in early 2012, making it the world's most valuable company. With Wednesday's drop, Apple is worth just 5 percent more than Exxon.
Apple's enviable profit growth also hit a wall in the October to December quarter. It said net income in the fiscal first quarter was $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per share, flat with a year ago. That still beat expectations, as analysts polled by FactSet had forecast earnings of $13.48 per share.
Revenue was $54.5 billion, up 18 percent from a year ago. Analysts were expecting $55 billion. Sales were held back by the fact that the latest quarter had 13 weeks, one less than the corresponding 2011 quarter.
Apple shipped 47.8 million iPhones in the quarter, about 1 million less than analysts were expecting, and 22.9 million iPads, also about 1 million short.
Most surprisingly, Mac sales were also 1 million short, at 4.1 million. That's a 22 percent drop from shipments a year ago. Oppenheimer said this was because Apple couldn't get the new iMac desktops out before December.
Cook said iPhone supplies were short too, and the company could have sold more of both the iPhone 5 and older iPhone 4 if it had been able to make more.
Most technology companies would be ecstatic if they posted 18 percent sales growth and $13 billion in profit for a single quarter, but Apple is held to a high standard, set by the shocking, iPhone-propelled success of the last few years.
"Apple has been growing tremendously and that level of growth can't be sustained by any company," said Sarah Rotman Epps, senior analyst at Forrester Research.
Investors have already been concerned that Apple's strategy of keeping the price of the iPhone high means it's losing out on sales, particularly overseas. Consumers are instead opting to buy cheaper smartphones running Google Inc.'s Android software, which has propelled South Korea's Samsung Electronics to the world's largest maker of smartphones. The average wholesale price of the iPhone is $640, hundreds of dollars more than smartphones with comparable hardware.
There's speculation among company watchers that the company will produce a cheaper iPhone, but that would cut into its profit margin and could tarnish the company's image as a purveyor of premium products.
Apple had warned that the holiday quarter's profits would be lower than Wall Street was initially expecting, because it had so many new products coming out, including the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini. New production lines are more expensive to run and yield more defective products that need to be redone or thrown out rather than sold.

SanDisk's modest revenue forecast prompts talks of sell-off


Chipmaker SanDisk Corp's modest revenue outlook disappointed investors looking for a recovery in memory chips widely used in smartphones and tablets, sending its shares down 4 percent.
Like other memory chipmakers, SanDisk has been hurt in recent quarters by a drop in prices for NAND flash chips used in smartphones, cameras, storage drives and tablets to store data such as movies and photos.
The company's quarterly results on Wednesday beat analysts' expectations and Chief Executive Sanjay Mehrotra told analysts on a conference call he expects improved NAND pricing this year, giving SanDisk's stock a brief boost.
But the company's revenue forecast for the first quarter fell short of Wall Street's estimates, prompting a selloff.
SanDisk estimated revenue in the March quarter of $1.225 billion to $1.3 billion. Analysts had expected $1.372 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
SanDisk said its fast-growing solid-state drive business accounted for 10 percent of fourth-quarter revenue. Chief Financial Officer Judy Bruner said solid-state drives would be SandDisk's biggest growth driver this year, followed by embedded applications.
Solid-state drives, which store data on flash chips and are faster than conventional hard drives, are increasingly being used in Ultrabook thin laptops being promoted by Intel Corp and PC makers. High-end solid-state drives are gaining popularity in corporate data centers.
Some analysts have recently pointed to signs that NAND prices are stabilizing after Japanese chipmaker Toshiba scaled back production last year.
"We think we're still better than seasonal in pricing because there's no new supply coming on line. That's the key metric. Demand will take care of itself," said Kevin Cassidy, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus.
Last year Apple Inc, a major purchaser of NAND chips worldwide, accounted for almost 13 percent of SanDisk's business, Bruner said.
Apple missed revenue expectations for the third straight quarter after sales of its flagship iPhone came in below Wall Street's targets.
SanDisk earned $214 million, or 87 cents per share, in the December quarter, compared to $281 million, or $1.14 per share, in the year-ago period.
Revenue fell 2 percent year over year to $1.54 billion.
Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $1.526 billion in the fourth quarter.
Excluding items, it earned $1.05 a share. Analysts had expected earnings of 76 cents a share.
The company's shares fell 3.15 percent to $46.15 in extended trade, after closing down 0.63 percent on Nasdaq.
© Thomson Reuters 2012

Research in Motion renames BlackBerry App World, extends deadline for app submission


Research in Motions' big BlackBerry 10 is now just days away and the company seems to be busy getting all the last minute things in place. The Canadian software maker has now rechristened its BlackBerry App World as BlackBerry World. The desktop version of the renamed store is already live and the company has begun a phased rollout for its existing smartphone and tablet users.

The name change is in line with BlackBerry's plan to reposition its store as not merely an app store but to add mobile and video content as well. According to RIM, BlackBerry World will be a one-stop destination to cater to users' mobile entertainment needs.

In the new app store, the content is divided into different channels. There is a separate channel for games, apps and themes.

In the past RIM has been criticized for lagging in the app eco-system and this move is one significant step in rectifying its mistake. Apart, from renaming the app store, BlackBerry also announced a few days back, that it has received 15,000 apps for its BlackBerry 10 devices in under 40 hours,  37.5 hours to be exact. These apps were submitted under the Port-A-Thons event that RIM had organised to encourage developers to brace the new platform.

Excited by the response the company has received for this incentive program, RIM has now extended the deadline apps submission to February 18, 2013 20:00 hours Eastern Time. The major reason for the extension is said to be the backlog of applications submitted for review.

In its official blog RIM posted, "The fact is, the volume of apps being submitted for review and entry into the program has been remarkable. Due to that large volume of apps, we are extending the deadline".

RIM has had a turbulent 2012 as the company struggled to survive against mighty rivals, Apple and Android. To make a comeback, the Canadian software maker has put all its eggs in the BlackBerry 10 basket and will be showcasing at least two new smartphones based on the BlackBerry 10 OS at an event on January 30, 2013.

Microsoft's next-gen 'Xbox' to be a hub for other 'X-branded' devices: Report


Codenamed Durango until now, Microsoft's next generation console more commonly known as the Xbox 720 will be simply referred to as the 'Xbox' as reported by Pocket-lint.

The site claims that the software giant is sticking to the console's original naming convention when it was launched 11 years ago. The blog further states that the Xbox will function as a hub for other X-branded devices, including the X-Surface, a 7-inch gaming tablet from Microsoft.

Citing a source close to the project, Pocket-lint has learnt that the X-Surface will be a "standalone portable gaming system" that will allow access to the games, music and video hubs of the latest console. Also, there will be no separate desktop and that it will be focused on providing gamers with a full-console-like experience for playing games.

As far as specs on the tablet are concerned, details are sketchy right now but the source claims that they "witnessed Unreal Engine 3 demos running at a solid 60fps". It has much improved hardware over the company's current Surface RT tablet.

Speaking of specs, earlier this week CVG reported via VGLeaks that the new Xbox console will be powered by a 1.6GHz 8-core CPU most likely from AMD and an 800MHz GPU with 12 shader cores "providing a total of 768 threads", and boast 1.2 teraflops of processing power.


Furthermore, it will feature 8GB RAM on-board, with 32MB of fast embedded SRAM at double the throughput speed, and a 50GB-capable 6x Blu-ray drive. Wireless connectivity options include both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct and there's still a Gigabit Ethernet port for gamers with low-latency multiplayer demands.

It'll also come with USB 3.0 and HDMI 1.4a (which supports 3D over HDMI) Ethernet, audio return channels and 4K resolution. The console will also reportedly come with Kinect multichannel echo cancellation (MEC) hardware.

The tipster at Pocket-lint has confirmed some of the leaked specifications for the console, claiming that "the majority of information leaked recently by many sources is true."

In some more news relating to next-gen consoles, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai wants Microsoft to make the first move. Speaking to The Times, Hirai said, "Why go first, when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?"

We know one thing for sure. Both Sony and Microsoft are expected to reveal their new consoles this year with gamers across the world highly anticipating their launch either at E3 or perhaps even earlier. 

AppSurfer adds support for tablet apps, allows users to try Android apps in their web browser : sam4sammy


AppSurfer, which allows users to try Android apps in their browser before downloading them on their phones, has now added support for tablet apps as well. It supports a resolution of 1024x600 for tablets.

AppSurfer released a private beta in March 2012 and launched its first version mainly targeting developers in October 2012. It runs a customised version of Android in the Cloud and runs multiple instances of the OS, streaming graphics to users using HTML5 or Flash. It tracks user input and sends it back to the cloud. It has also implemented custom sensors to emulate sensor data, like that of GPS and orientation sensors.

RainingClouds Technologies, the company which has developed AppSurfer, says that it is not just another AppStore, and its focus is on enabling users to try apps. After they are satisfied with the app, they can make the decision to download it. For downloading the app, AppSurfer redirects users to the Google Play app store. Users can also share app recommendations on Facebook and Twitter and their friends can try these apps within Facebook.
Developers can create a free account at AppSurfer, and can put their apps (via apk files) on the site . They don't need any code integration/change in app and they can also embed apps on blogs and product pages, just like YouTube videos.
Speaking with NDTV Gadgets, Aniket Awati, CEO and Co-founder of RainingClouds, informed us that as of date, AppSurfer has 4,000 developers and 2,300 apps on-board, with a paid to free app ratio of 1:20. The company intends to monetise by offering new download models, tying up with third party app stores.
It is noteworthy that, Amazon also allows users to try apps in the web browser through its 'Test Drive' feature. However, according to Awati, the feature is based on Flash, while AppSurfer also offers an HTML5 version, allowing non-flash devices including iOS ones, to run app previews in their respective browsers. The company doesn't offer support for iOS at the moment, as there are several restrictions. "iOS apps require installation of emulators, which slow down the experience and don't support native features like GPS," adds Awati.
Services like Pieceable (which was acquired by Facebook), and Kickfolio also allow developers to upload their apps on the web, allowing users to try them via their web browsers.

SAP sees 'double-digit' growth in 2013 after record 2012


German software giant SAP said Wednesday it is projecting a further strong improvement in sales this year from last year's record levels, and profits were also set to rise after falling in 2012.
"We are confident we will continue our double-digit growth momentum in 2013 and further improve our profitability," chief financial officer Werner Brandt said in a statement.
As reported earlier, SAP achieved record sales in 2012, beating its full-year forecasts, even though acquisition costs hit earnings.
Overall revenues rose by 14 percent to 16.22 billion euros ($21.6 billion) and software and software-related sales were up 16 percent at 13.16 billion euros, exceeding expectations for an increase of 10.5-12.5 percent.
At the same time, operating profit fell by 17 percent to 4.06 billion euros, impacted by acquisition-related charges, the group explained.
Bottom-line net profit was down 18 percent at 2.826 billion euros.
Growth would be fuelled by SAP's recently acquired cloud-computing activities, it said.
The German group completed its acquisition of California-based cloud computing company Ariba for $4.3 billion at the beginning of October.

iPhone most popular in US, while Android popular worldwide in Q4 2012: Report

Apple's iPhone remained the most popular smartphone among US buyers in the closing months of 2012 while Android handsets were on top worldwide, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reported on Tuesday.
"At the end of 2012, the global (operating system) picture shows Android on top, but clearly the rate of growth it experienced over the past year is beginning to slow as easy wins from first-time smartphone buyers begin to reduce," said Kantar global consumer insight director Dominic Sunnebo.
Apple iPhones accounted for 51.2 percent of smartphone sales in the United States during the 12-week period ending December 23rd of last year, according to Kantar.
Smartphones powered by Google-backed Android software made up slightly more than 44 percent of sales while handsets based on Microsoft's Windows operating system were a distant third-place with 2.6 percent, the report indicated.
Android smartphones continued to be best sellers in major markets including Britain, China, Spain, Australia, and Germany while iPhones were favored in Japan as well as the United States, according to Kantor.
Windows smartphones appeared to be catching on in Europe, with its shares of sales in Britain and Italy climbing to 5.9 and 13.9 percent respectively, the reported indicated.
"Windows Phone is now starting to gain respectable shares in a number of key European countries," Sunnebo said.
"However, its performance in the Chinese and US markets remains underwhelming; these remain key challenges for Microsoft to overcome during 2013."

Nokia EOS to launch as "first real PureView Windows Phone" later this year: Report

Ever since the launch of the first Nokia PureView device, there have been speculations that Nokia may launch a similar camera smartphone based on the Windows Phone OS. And if reports by The Verge are to be believed then this smartphone could already be in the works.

The tech blog claims that Nokia is currently working on a smartphone that is codenamed "EOS" and it sports a camera sensor, which is similar to the one that is on Nokia's 808 PureView. Furthermore, it claims that unlike the recent devices in the Lumia series, the EOS smartphone might sport an aluminium exterior instead of polycarbonate.

The Verge also states that the EOS is expected to be a new flagship device from the company that will launch later in the year. For now, there are no more details available regarding specifications of the device.

Nokia had first showcased its 808 PureView at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012. This smartphone garnered a lot of attention, thanks to the massive 41-megapixel camera sensor that it has on-board. Other features of the smartphone include a 4-inch 360x640pixel AMOLED display, 16GB of internal storage, 1.3GHz processor and Nokia Symbian Belle OS.

Nokia 808 PureView debuted in India in June 2012. Its current price is mentioned as Rs. 26,499 but it is currently listed as out of stock on Nokia India official store.

Earlier in the month there were also reports doing the rounds that Nokia is working on a successor to its current flagship smartphone the Lumia 920, which is codenamed "Catwalk". The reports also claimed that this device will come with an aluminium body and will be lighter and thinner than the Lumia 920.

Next-gen Google Nexus 10 tablet rumoured to feature quad-core processor, 8-core GPU

Google is currently rumoured to be working on a new Nexus 10 tablet that is likely to replace the Exynos 5 processor and Mali-T604 GPU as found in the original Nexus 10 tablet, reports Droid Life via chip-focussed site Bright Side of News.

The second generation Google Nexus 10 tablet may feature a quad-core processor and new 8-core Mali-T678 GPU. BSN also claims to have spotted the new tablet at CES in an identical current Nexus 10 chassis. They further add that the benchmark performance on it was "night and day" compared to the original.

Google is also believed to be making minor design improvements over the current Nexus 10 tablet though a major overhaul in design will be applicable only for the third-gen, which is pretty far away from this point.

While we believe we saw a prototype design in an old chassis (it was identical to the currently selling Nexus 10), the performance difference in popular benchmarks was night and day. The final design of the part (Google currently does not have final versions of the chassis) should address the shortcomings of the original design, even though we were told that the company was satisfied with the original design. They did agree that the design lacked a bit of "wow factor", but that will probably wait for the third generation.

Going by these sources, the tablet could make a rather quiet appearance at the Mobile World Congress next month, though the device may not be shipped in the initial couple of months possibly until the back-to-school period. Then it would be more sensible on Google's part to see the Google I/O event as a possible launch opportunity.

The original Nexus 10 was launched in October last year, which marked the search giant's entry into the 10-inch tablet arena. other specs of the tablet include a dual-core Cortex A15 processor with 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, 5-megapixel rear and 1.9-megapixel front cameras, NFC, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a 9,000mAh battery.

The entry-level Nexus 10 is priced at $399 and began selling in November 2012 in the US, Britain, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Japan. The other variant is a 32GB Wi-Fi only Nexus 10 that costs $499.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

HCL ME Y3 dual-SIM tablet here online for only Rs. 11,999


After dual-SIM feature phones and smartphones, it looks like there will soon be a flurry of dual-SIM tablets in the Indian market. HCL seems to be foraying in this space with its HCL ME Y3 tablet. HCL ME Y3 features a 7-inch capacitive multi-touchscreen with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels. There is a 1GHz Cortex A9 processor on-board and it will run on Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system.
The HCL ME Y3 comes with 2-megapixel rear camera and a 0.3-megapixel one in the front. There is 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 32GB via microSD card. Connectivity options include, 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. One can make voice calls from both the SIMs and it also supports FM Radio. It comes with a 3,100mAh battery. So far it is not clear whether the tablet will support 3G data on both the SIM or just one of them.
The tablet is already listed on the deal site for Rs. 11,999 and the site is promising to ship it within five business days.
HCL is already offering around a dozen tablets in the Indian market, which range from Rs. 6,700 to Rs. 14,999. However, HCL ME Y3 is the first dual-SIM tablet by the company. Apart from HCL, Swipe and iBall are currently offering dual-SIM tablets in India.
Swipe had launched its Swipe Tab All in One in October 2012 for Rs. 11,999. This tablet comes with 7-inch TFT LCD full-HD capacitive touch screen with 5 point multi- touch and has a resolution of 1028X768 pixels. Swipe Tab All in One runs on Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and has a 4,000mAh battery. This tablet comes with 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 1GB RAM and 8GB of internal storage.
The iBall Slide 3G 7334 on the other hand is available in the market for Rs. 10,990. It is a 7-inch tablet that sports a resolution of 1024x600 pixels and 4,400mAh battery. Powered by Cortex A9 1GHz processor, iBall Slide 3G 7334 comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It runs on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and supports 3G on both the SIMs. Just like the HCL ME Y3 tablet, even iBall Slide 3G 7334 supports FM radio.

Key specs of HCL ME Y3 tablet
  • 7-inch capacitive multi-touchscreen with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels
  • 1GHz Cortex A9 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, can be expanded up to 32GB
  • 2-megapixel rear camera
  • 0.3-megapixel front camera
  • Dual-SIM
  • 3,100mAh
  • Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • 225x150x90 mm

Saturday, 12 January 2013

EU says Google must change search results presentation - report


Google will be forced to change the way its search results are presented in Europe or face antitrust charges for "diverting traffic" to its own services, The Financial Times reported the European Union's antitrust chief as saying.
The EU's competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, told the newspaper in an interview published on Friday that he intends to prevent Google from allegedly distorting choices for consumers and taking business from rivals.
"We are still investigating, but my conviction is are diverting traffic," the newspaper quoted him as saying, referring to Google's preferential treatment of its own vertical search services.
"They are monetizing this kind of business, the strong position they have in the general search market and this is not only a dominant position, I think I fear there is an abuse of this dominant position," he said.
The EU issued Google an ultimatum on December 18, giving it a month to come up with detailed proposals to resolved a two-year investigation into complaints that it used its power to block rivals such as Microsoft.
Google has been the center of a two-year investigation by the EU based on complaints that Google unfairly favored its services over its rivals in search results and that it may have copied material from travel and restaurant websites without permission.
Almunia told the newspaper that his concern was "the way they present their own services" and that he was "not discussing the algorithm" the top-secret formula behind Google's search engine.
The FT said this suggested one facet of the solution would be labeling when Google's in-house services such as shopping comparison information - are artificially given higher billing than rivals, although other changes would likely apply to how Google services are displayed within general search engines.
He also said that while Google showed a more constructive approach at a meeting in December, he warned that he would be "obliged" to issue formal charges if its proposal was unsatisfactory.
Google spokesman Al Verney said: "We continue to work cooperatively with the commission."
Divergence from US
Almunia's spokesman confirmed the quotes in the FT but said they did not add a new position on behalf of the European Commission.
"He was highlighting that we think the preferential treatment may lead to diversion of traffic, which we consider anticompetitive. That's a basic concern we have as we explained last May," the spokesman, Antoine Colombani, told Reuters.
The EU's stance on Google marks a sharply different approach to that of U.S regulators, who last week ended their investigation into the company and concluded that it had not manipulated its Web search results to hurt rivals, a verdict which disappointed its rivals.
Almunia told the FT that the EU's rare divergence with the U.S. was due to the differing legal standards for abuse of dominance, as well as Google's stronger position in Europe where it handles more than 90 percent of searches.
He also dismissed the idea that an intervention would cause a rift with the US and trigger outrage at a European meddling with a US corporate giant.
He said, "I have never received a single message coming from the other side of the Atlantic saying, 'hey, what are you doing?' Everyone knows this is global."
Almunia said a separate a less advanced probe into Google's Android's operating system will remain open and outside the settlement.
© Thomson Reuters 2012

Teen entrepreneurs tap their mothers' Facebook connections


When mother of three Angela Allyn takes to Facebook, it's usually not to post pictures of her latest party, but to drum up business for her entrepreneurial teenage son, Alec.

"Teenage boy available for schlepping, sitting and various cleanup. Message me if interested" is her typical post. She has put her social networking skills behind Alec's business in part because she realizes that the traditional job market is tight and "it's really hard to get a job as a young person."

The Allyns seem to be succeeding in that space where the growing underground teen economy meets proactive and socially networked parents. Angela has been finding Alec enough work to fill the time left after homework, cross country and track, activities, and he's using his earnings to support his expensive cycle racing hobby.

Job opportunities for teens have declined in recent years, in part because older and sometimes overqualified applicants compete for the burger-flipping, shirt-folding gigs that used to be their specialty. The number of young people aged 16 to 24 employed during the peak summer month of July was down to 48.8 last year from 59.2 percent five years earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There's anecdotal evidence that an increasing numbers of teens are filling the gaps in the economy and their wallets by doing odd jobs or selling the technical skills at which many excel. And their parents are promoting them - via Facebook, LinkedIn, neighborhood chatrooms and more.

"You're your kid's pimp," joked April Rudin, a Fort Lee, New Jersey, publicist who has brokered her two sons' abilities to do everything from shovel driveways to create Powerpoint presentations.

Tapping social media connections is an ideal way to leverage those sites' networking potential, especially because it is the medium teens "love and live in," says Nimish Thakkar, a New York job coach. He has observed several of his clients engaging in the practice on behalf of their teens. But it raises some questions as well, about how much help parents can offer without being overinvolved, and about how to keep kids safe online while promoting their businesses.

"I don't negotiate"
Allyn advertised on Facebook and Craigslist for her son in part because at his age, 15, Alec's own network includes few people with hiring potential. He hasn't built a website, she said, largely because it might draw interest during periods when he is overloaded with schoolwork and extracurricular activities. The two have worked together to research how to price jobs but she leaves it to him to work out the details.

"I will hand him the contact information," said Allyn, an arts educator for the city of Evanston, Illinois. "I don't get in the middle of negotiating."

That's one way she draws the line between herself and the dreaded "helicopter" syndrome of parental overinvolvement.

"It's one thing to help kids build bridges, it's another to help them cross," said Michael Woodward, an organizational psychologist specializing in workplace issues. "You have to be the coach - not the doer."

It doesn't always work out that way, Rudin found. Her expertise in social media led her to broker the services of her teenage sons online, sometimes without asking first. She recalled promising that one of them would shovel a neighbor's drive; when he didn't show up, she in the uncomfortable position of having to make excuses.

Rudin, who also subcontracted portions of her own work to her older son honing his skills as a creator of online slide presentations. After he completed jobs, she would send tweets about his expertise to her Twitter following, sometimes leading to additional requests.

That son, also named Alec, is now a college sophomore. He conceded his mother sometimes took a heavy-handed approach, but said he has no complaints. The experience he gained has been parlayed into a healthy side business creating PowerPoint presentations for students and corporate customers. A typical job brings in $200 to $300.

"It's worked out for everyone," he said. "It taught me the meaning of a deadline. In the professional world you don't have much leeway."

Most kids have a much harder time pushing much above minimum wage, one reason parents should stay apprised of terms being set on each job, said Denise Drake, a Kansas City employment attorney. She stressed that it is important for parents to understand work rules in their particular state.

"They need to be cognizant of the what the child labor laws are so that kids don't get taken advantage of," said Drake, conceding: "It's abundantly clear that most kids and parents don't report that kind of income. It's not legal but it happens."

Safety first
Marketing experts point to safety as another justification for parents to play a supervising role in how online jobs are being procured.

"I think there is a lot of caution required," said Sima Dahl, a social media consultant who blogs about career promotion at She advises parents to steer clear of responding to posts on open sites such as Craigslist, where it is difficult to screen the source of listings.

"The first course of action is always your own network," she said. "It is a very safe way to go."

Debra Nussbaum Cohen, a New York-based writer and mother of three, said a collaborative approach to part-time job hunting worked well with her son, Aryeh, now a sophomore in college. She regularly culled, a neighborhood site, as well as a listserv for local parents, to help him secure a variety of jobs beginning when he was a young teen. He supplemented those efforts with old-fashioned leafleting, leaving fliers in neighbors' mailboxes.

Initially, she took a fairly hands-on on role, pre-interviewing parents requiring babysitting services, for instance. As Aryeh got older and she was more comfortable with his judgment, she turned over more responsibility, and focused more attention on her two daughters, now 13 and 11. They are already experienced at feeding let lizards and caring for cats, if anyone on her social network is interested.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Nokia sells 4.4 million Lumia smartphones in strong Q4 2012 showing


Nokia's mobile phone business achieved underlying profitability in the fourth quarter of last year, ahead of its earlier forecast, boosted by strong sales of its new Lumia smartphone.

Thursday's trading update was a rare spot of good news for the Finnish handset maker that has been losing market share to Samsung and Apple.

The company said that its results were also helped by 50 million euros in patent fees, improved cost management and a better than expected performance from its Nokia Siemens Networks unit.

It estimated fourth-quarter operating margin in its mobile phone business was between break-even to 2 percent. It previously forecast the margin to be around minus 6 percent.

However, the company said that the competitive environment remains tough and forecast the margin to be minus 2 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Fourth-quarter net sales in devices and services were about 3.9 billion euros. It sold a total of 86.3 million devices. Smartphones accounted for 6.6 million units, of which 4.4 million were the Windows-based Lumia handsets.

Nokia shares surged 13 percent to 3.40 euros by 1338 GMT.

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Twitter, the new tool for media to circulates news


How effective is the microblogging website Twitter in spreading news, since every media organisation of any consequence has an account these days?
That's the question Sudha Ram, from the University of Arizona, set out to answer in a recent study of a dozen major news organisations that use the social media website for sharing their content.
The answer, according to Ram's research, varies widely by news agency and there may not be one universally applicable strategy for maximising Twitter effectiveness.
However, news agencies can learn a lot by looking at how their news diffuses once it is posted on Twitter, said Ram, professor of management information systems (MIS) and computer science at Arizona's Eller College of Management.
Ram examined, over a six-month period, the Twitter activity of 12 major news organisations focused on US news, global news, technology news or financial news, according to an Arizona statement.
All of the agencies selected - the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, NPR, Reuters, Guardian, Forbes, Financial Times, Mashable, Arstechnica, Wired and Bloomberg - regularly share news articles on Twitter, which allows users to post 140-character messages as well as links to online content.
Ram, working with Devi Bhattacharya, an MIS doctoral student at Arizona, tracked what happened to a news article after it was tweeted by a news organisation.
Together, they looked at how many people retweeted, or reposted, the article on their own Twitter feeds, then how many times it was subsequently retweeted from those accounts and so forth.
They were then able to evaluate the volume and extend of spread of an article on Twitter, as well as its overall lifespan.
"The goal for a news agency is to have a lot of people reading and following your articles," said Ram.
"What we've done is use network analysis, which is quite different from just looking at the total number of tweets or total number of retweets. You're starting to see, over time, how information is spreading," Ram said.
Ram and Bhattacharya rendered the data they collected from each organisation visually as images. These appear something like fireworks, with dots representing individual Twitter users and cascade streams from those dots depicting retweets.

CES 2013: Lenovo showcases 5 dual-SIM smartphones targeted at young professionals


Lenovo kick started the CES 2013 by showcasing its 5.5-inch phablet, Lenovo K900. Now the company has announced five new dual-SIM smartphones.
The two smartphones in the S-Series seem to be the higher-end models and according to the company aimed at the young, urban professionals.
S890 is a 5-inch smartphone with qHD (540 x 960 resolution) screen. It is 9.3mm thick and weights 176 grams. There is a 8-megapixel auto-flash camera on-board and runs on Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean). Lenovo S890 is powered by a 2,250mAh battery.
The other device is S-Series is the S720, which comes with 4.5-inch IPS (960x540) display. It comes with a 8-megapixel rear camera and 1-megapixel front camera. It is 9.9mm thick and comes in what Lenovo dubs as the 'Loop' design. It is expected to be available in three colour options and run on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). It will run on dual-core MTK CPU and a 2,000 mAh battery.
Lenovo IdeaPhone P770 is more apt for the frequent travelers as it comes with 3500mAh battery and the company claims that it can deliver up to 30 hours of talk time between charges. It runs on Android Jelly Bean. The other notable feature for this smartphone is the USB on-the-go feature.
The other two dual-SIM devices that Lenovo has showcased are Lenovo A800 and Lenovo IdeaPhoneA690. Both of them run on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Lenovo A800 has a dual-core, 1.2GHz CPU and a 4.5-inch touchscreen. It comes with 2000mAh battery. While Lenovo IdeaPhoneA690 comes with a 1GHz processor, 4.0-inch screen with a resolution of 800X480.
"For smartphone users, one size does not fit all," commented Liu Jun, president MIDH and senior vice president Lenovo Group, "We've learned from our customers, and we know they have many different, unique reasons for selecting Lenovo smartphones. Our new portfolio, features devices designed to please and amaze a wide range of customers globally, with a phone for every user.
Lenovo has not revealed the pricing for any of these smartphones but they are expected to be launched in China soon.
The Chinese smartphone maker has also showcased Lenovo Ideaphone K5 earlier at CES 2013. This is a single SIM smartphone, which comes with a 5-inch full HD display. It sports a dual-core graphics processor and a 13-megapixels rear camera.
Lenovo Ideaphone K5 is expected to be launched in China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, India and Russia.