Saturday, 29 September 2012

Facebook row prompts Europe to consider tighter data rules


An EU lawmaker called for tighter control of on-line social networks under a data protection regulation now being debated after some Facebook users said their personal messages appeared on their public profiles.EU regulators are in the midst of writing new legislation that could give internet users greater control over how their personal data is used by big technology companies. One part of the regulation requires companies to get permission before "processing" people's personal data, although exactly how and when such consent would be needed is still subject to debate.
On Tuesday the French data protection regulator asked to meet Facebook after thousands of users complained private messages dating back to 2007 were visible on their Facebook timelines the start page of a person's profile on the website.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green member of the European Parliament who is in charge of the legislature's work on the draft regulation said the incident shows that users need more control over their data.
"The informed and explicit agreement of all those affected by data processing must be a guiding principle," Albrecht said in a press statement. "There will be very few exceptions if any."
Facebook said it has not done anything wrong and that the messages are in fact called wall posts, one of the website's features for leaving comments which usually appears on a person's profile page.
Before the Facebook timeline was introduced in February, wall posts were visible on user's profile pages but could also be hidden from the public depending on each user's privacy settings.
"A small number of users raised concerns after what they mistakenly believed to be private messages appeared on their Timeline," the company said in a statement.
Nevertheless EU lawmakers are taking the incident seriously.
"This case shows that some companies simply don't take privacy issues as seriously as their share price," the Commissioner for Justice behind the regulation, Viviane Reding, said at a meeting with regulators in Dublin on Monday.
The Commission, the European Parliament and the 27 member states have to agree on the regulation before it can become law. The parliament will begin submitting amendments later this year.
Web companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo, which rely on their user's data to tailor their services to people's interests, have said they are wary of the regulation's principles on seeking users' consent. These companies' business models are also based on selling targeted ads matched to people's profiles.
Some say they worry that asking permission for the use of people's data more than they already do could hamper their services with consent-seeking pop-ups and encourage people to opt-out rather than in.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

US banks hit by more than a week of cyberattacks


U.S. banks have been buffeted by more than a week of powerful cyber attacks, but the mystery surrounding their perpetrators lingers.One expert said Friday that he was suspicious of claims of responsibility purportedly made by Islamists angry at an anti-Muslim movie made in the United States, explaining that the widely-circulated Internet postings might have been an attempt to deflect attention from the true culprit.
"In the intelligence world, we call that a 'false flag,'" said Mike Smith, whose Web security company Akamai has helped analyze some of the attacks.
The postings, published to the Web earlier this month, suggested that an obscure Islamist group had taken revenge on American financial institutions for the "Innocence of Muslims," a low-budget U.S. film that ridiculed Muhammad, revered by Muslims as the last of God's prophets.
Since then at least half a dozen banks including the Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup have witnessed traffic surges and disruptions. Not all have confirmed they were the victims of an online onslaught, but such surges are a hallmark of denial-of-service attacks, which work by drowning target websites with streams of junk data.
Such attacks are fairly common and generally don't compromise sensitive data or do any lasting damage. Still, they can be a huge headache for companies that rely on their websites to interact with customers.
Most say the recent spate of attacks has been unusually powerful. PNC bank, which was hit on Thursday, has never seen such a strong surge in traffic, spokesman Fred Solomon said in a telephone interview. Smith said he estimated the flow of data at 60 to 65 gigabits per second.
Smith said the profile and power of the attack made it an unlikely fit for the religious youth that the Internet postings called upon to join in the anti-U.S. campaign. He explained that politically-motivated hackers often called hacktivists usually flood the Web with appeals for support and post links to software that can turn followers' personal computers into crude cyber-weapons.
Twitter and online chat rooms then explode with activity, as casual supporters pile in to coordinate attacks.
"You're not seeing that with this particular set of attacks," Smith said. "At the same time the attack traffic is fairly homogeneous. It's not this wide cornucopia of attacks that's coming at you that you see with a hacktivist attack."
So who is behind the campaign?
Cyber criminals often use denial-of-service attacks to shake down smaller websites, but major U.S. banks make unlikely targets for a protection racket.
Could a state actor be at play? U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, without offering any proof, said he believed the assaults were carried out by Iran in retaliation for tightened economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.
Smith demurred when asked who could be behind the campaign, although he said there were "only a handful of groups out there that have the technical ability or incentive" to carry it out.
In any case, the online attacks appeared to be easing. Solomon, the PNC bank spokesman, said while traffic remained heavy Friday the flow was gradually returning to normal.
Doug Johnson, with the American Bankers Association, echoed that assessment.
"I believe it's tapering off," he said.

BlackBerry maker shows signs of encouragement ahead of BB10 launch


Research In Motion Ltd, after buying itself breathing room on Thursday by delivering stronger-than-expected quarterly results, still faces the formidable task of delivering a make-or-break line of new BlackBerry devices early next year.The more stable cash position that RIM achieved during its fiscal quarter ended September 1 will give the company a fighting chance to market the new BlackBerry 10 effectively while ramping up full production of the revamped line, analysts said.
Until Thursday's results, RIM was being written off by analysts because of its failure to keep pace with innovations from rivals such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co.
Investors responded to the rare glimmer of good news for the embattled company by pushing up RIM's downtrodden share price by more than 12 percent on Friday morning.
"I have to admit they did a very good job making the best out of a really tough situation. You've got to give management some credit for that, but they still need to nurse the company back to health," said Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu.
The company is counting on BB10 to arrest a precipitous decline in market share over the past year and longer.
But in the end, the success or failure of the BB10 will hinge by how warmly it's embraced by consumers, many of whom have already switched to Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy, especially in North America and Europe.
Test versions of the BB10 have won praise from carriers and developers, but the true test still hinges on RIM's ability to win back market share and the hearts of an ever growing base of touchscreen users.
Even though RIM's aging line-up has lost ground in North America and Europe, the BlackBerry maker managed to top shipment and revenue expectations in its second quarter, thanks largely to strong sales of smartphones in emerging markets such as India and Indonesia.
"This performance is nothing short of shocking as RIM has found a formula to entice its global carrier customers to sell (its) product," said National Bank Financial's Kris Thompson.
On Friday National Bank Financial upgraded RIM's stock, while BMO Capital Markets and Barclays Capital were among brokerages that raised price targets on the company's shares.
Thompson, who is rated five stars by Thomson Reuters StarMine for the accuracy of his estimates on RIM's earnings, upgraded the stock to "outperform" and increased his price target on the stock to $12 from $8.
Shares of RIM, which rose 20 percent after the closing bell on Thursday, opened 12.8 percent higher at $8.04 on the Nasdaq on Friday. Its Toronto-listed shares rose 14 percent to C$7.92.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

DoT issues notice to stop telcos' 3G roaming pacts


The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has issued notice to telecom firms asking them to stop 3G roaming services outside their licensed area within three days, officials said Friday.The notice sent to Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone asks them to explain why penal action should not be taken against them.
"We have been given 60 days to respond to the notice," a senior executive of one of the firms told IANS.
The operators had entered into roaming agreements to offer 3G services such as video calling, mobile TV and multi-media gaming in areas where they did not have 3G spectrum.
The DoT had last December asked the operators to terminate their 3G roaming agreements calling it illegal. The department had also said the government was losing revenue because of these agreements.
The operators had then moved the tribunal challenging the DoT order, saying it would harm customers and investment in the sector. In July, the tribunal delivered a split verdict.
The two members of the bench, comprising chairman Justice (retd) S.B. Sinha and member P.K. Rastogi, had differing views on the order. One favouring the DoT claimed the roaming agreements were illegal, while the other supported the operators who had challenged it.

AMD launches Appzone to bring Android apps to Windows


Soon many of you will have a chance to add applications from the most popular mobile operating system, Android, to the most popular desktop system, Windows and enjoy technological marvel, thanks to the Chipmaker AMD and Bluestacks.Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and BlueStacks have teamed up to let consumers run Android apps on their AMD-powered PCs. BlueStacks, creator of a Windows app that enables you to run Android apps on Windows, has joined forces with AMD to bring their cross-platform application to AMD-powered tablets and PCs.
The two companies have teamed up to bring 500,000 mobile Android apps to Windows PCs through the AMD AppZone Player starting Thursday.
AMD is also working with its partners to pre-load the the BlueStacks Android App Player on AMD-powered Windows 7 and 8 laptops, desktops, and tablets.
If you don't want to wait for a new PC you can download the master Android on Windows app, AMD AppZone Player.
Or, you can simply download an Android app from the AMD AppZone and it will automatically install the player in addition to the app.
The partnership between BlueStacks and AMD, which has invested in the software company, focuses on optimising Android apps for AMD-powered Windows devices.
While Intel-powered PCs can access Android apps through BlueStacks' original Windows software, the AppZone Player is optimized for AMD's GPU and APU technology.
Manju Hegde, corporate VP of Heterogeneous Applications and Developer Solutions at AMD said, "BlueStacks' cross-platform innovation bridges the Android and x86 application ecosystems, providing new opportunities for developers and better experiences for users.
"By collaborating with BlueStacks we are enabling software developers to more easily tap into the full capabilities of AMD's products, and providing millions of consumers with great experiences as they can now run Android apps on AMD powered devices."
BlueStacks is an AMD Ventures-backed software company that enables Android apps to run on notebooks, desktops, all-in-one PCs, slates and tablets.
BlueStacks was founded in 2009 by Rosen Sharma, is privately held and headquartered in Silicon Valley with global offices in India, Taiwan and Japan.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Facebook launches service to send real-life gifts


Facebook is rolling out a service called Gifts which, as its name suggests, lets users send chocolate, coffee, socks and other real-life presents to one another.Facebook Gifts launched Thursday to a subset of users in the U.S. and will roll out to more over the coming months as people begin to send gifts to each other.
Users will be able to click on a "gifts" icon on their Facebook friends' pages on Facebook's website or on Android mobile phones. (iPhone and iPad versions are coming soon.)
The icon will also show up on the right side of users' Facebook pages with the notifications for friends' birthdays, weddings and other life events. For example, if your friend's birthday is coming up in two days, you'll now see a "give her a gift" link and the gift icon next to her name and photo.
Clicking the icon will display presents you can buy, such as a Starbucks gift card, cupcakes or a teddy bear.
The recipient will be notified through Facebook to enter a shipping address for the presents. In some cases, they'll be able to select their own cupcake flavors or size and style of socks. They can also exchange gifts for other items if they don't like chocolate or don't wear socks.
The move represents Facebook Inc.'s first real foray into e-commerce. The company will take an unspecified cut from each item sold. On Thursday, possible gifts included gourmet ice cream, Andy Warhol prints, flowers, organic dog toys and spa packages.
Facebook Gifts is the result of Facebook's acquisition of Karma, a 16-person startup based in San Francisco. Facebook bought the company on May 18, the day of its rocky initial public offering. Karma's mobile app let people send gifts to their friends on the go. Facebook Gifts, of course, works both on computers and mobile devices.
Lee Linden, the former head of Karma, is now head product manager for Facebook Gifts, which he says incorporates "the heart and soul of the Karma experience."
"We think gifting is a form of communication," he said.

Samsung Galaxy Note II comes to India for Rs. 39,990


Samsung has launched its Galaxy Note II phablet in India. This is first Samsung device to be launched with Android Jelly Bean on board.
Samsung had first unveiled Galaxy Note II at IFA 2012. Just like the original Note device, Note II is also a smartphone-tablet hybrid. It sports a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display and is powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM. It has a 3100mAh battery and has 16GB internal storage expandable up to 64 GB via microSD card.

The device features a 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.9-megapixel front camera. Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Note II comes with the S-Pen stylus for taking notes on the device. In terms of connectivity, Samsung Galaxy Note II offers 4G, 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, NFC, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 4.0.

Samsung Galaxy Note II also packs in features such as Air View, Popup Note and Quick Command. (To read more about the features also read Samsung Galaxy Note II: Top six features )

Samsung Galaxy Note II is available in two colours - titanium grey and marble white. This device will be available in Samsung exclusive stores from next week. The phablet has been priced at Rs. 39,990, which makes it slightly more expensive than the launch price of the original Galaxy Note. Given the dollar appreciation since last year, that's not a surprising move.

About a week ago, Samsung had started taking pre-booking of this device on Samsung's official India e-store.

Samsung had launched its original Note device in November 2011 and has managed to ship 10 million units of the same by August 2012.

Galaxy Note II launch

Key Specs
  • Display: 5.5-inch HD SuperAMOLED touchscreen Operating system: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • Processor: Quad-core 1.6GHz Cortex A-9
  • Storage: 16, 32 and 64GB, expandable up to 64GB via microSD card
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Connectivity: 4G, 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, NFC, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: 8megapixel rear camera with LED flash and 1.9 megapixel front camera Battery: 3,100mAh

Intel previews Windows 8 tablets powered by its new chip


Intel Corp roped in device makers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Hewlett Packard Co on Thursday to showcase tablets powered by its new "Atom" processor a chip it hopes will help it biannually break into that crowded market.Intel initially brushed off any threat from tablets such as Apple Inc's iPad, but now hopes the combination of a low power consuming processor with touch friendly Microsoft Corp Windows 8 software will win over enterprise customers looking to deploy tablets, but keep PC-based software and hardware.
The world's largest chip maker says the "Atom Z2760" formerly code named "Clover Trail" is tailored to work with the latest version of Microsoft's operating system, due in late October. Tablets that use both the Atom and Widows 8 will be able to run widely used software such as Word and Excel, while connecting to peripherals such as printers.
It also lengthens battery life, enabling tablets to run 10-plus hours of streaming high-definition video, said Intel applications processor division chief Eric Reid.
Targeting corporations and government agencies means the first wave of Intel-powered tablets and tablet-laptop hybrids will avoid the worst of the consumer war now raging between Google Inc and Inc.
"These new Atom-based tablets have been targeted at spaces where Intel and Microsoft can win, the enterprise market, and as an alternative to a notebook," said Patrick Moorhead, head of Moor Insights and Strategy.
Dell Inc, Acer Inc, Asustek Computer Inc and ZTE Corp round out the half-dozen PC makers that trotted out their upcoming tablets, some of which sport a detachable keyboard or stylus designed to support free-form drawing and writing.
"Every tablet shown today does what neither an iPad or Kindle Fire HD does well, which is creating content and controlling via a keyboard and trackpad," he said. "This provides differentiation while not going head to head with Apple and Amazon."
With PC sales expected to stagnate over the next year or two, Intel hopes to make up for lost time and regain market share ceded to rivals such as Qualcomm Inc, Texas Instruments Inc and Nvidia Corp, whose applications processors now power most tablets except the iPad.
Although the "Intel Inside" sticker remains affixed to 80 percent of the world's PCs, the Santa Clara, California, company has been slow to adapt its chips for smartphones and tablets.
Analysts say the semiconductor industry leader has woken up to the tablet threat only in the past year. It is now rushing into the mobile market, motivated in part by slowing PC sales across consumer, businesses and even the emerging market segments it once relied on to propel sales.
This month, it cut its third-quarter revenue estimate by a more than expected 8 percent and withdrew its full-year outlook entirely.
Intel's tablet strategy so far has focused on Windows 8 and its "x86" architecture found in most of the world's PCs. But executives said this month that tablets running their processors and based on Google's Android software are also in the works.
Microsoft's main assault on the tablet market involves Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 that works off the ARM Holdings chip designs that now dominate the market and drive the iPad and other mobile devices.

Amazon offering loans to its online sellers

amazon-logo.jpg Inc is launching a new business offering loans to some of its online sellers, a move that could boost the growth of its Internet marketplace while exposing it to potential credit risks.The new program is called Amazon Lending and sellers on the company's marketplace have been sent emails offering loans from Amazon Capital Services Inc, a unit of Amazon, according to a merchant who received such an email from the company recently. The merchant did not want to be identified because Amazon has not announced the program publicly.
An Amazon spokesmen declined to comment.
Getting into the lending business is a big step for Amazon that will expose it to more credit risk but may also fuel more sales by merchants on its marketplace. Amazon takes a cut of those sales, so revenue and profits could get a boost.
Some online merchants lack upfront cash to buy all the inventory they would like to sell on, especially heading into the crucial holiday season.
Banks and other sources of loans for merchants pulled back in the wake of the financial crisis, leaving an opening for alternative sources of financing. Factoring, a common source of financing in the retail business that is provided by lenders such as CIT Group and Wells Fargo, can be tough to tap for smaller merchants.
"Some of these businesses are only constrained by cash flow," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of e-commerce advisory firm ChannelAdvisor. "These spot loans will help these folks grow by getting them extra cash to buy more product."
ChannelAdvisor helps online merchants sell on Amazon, eBay and other online marketplaces. Wingo posted a copy of one of the Amazon Lending emails on ChannelAdvisor's blog on Thursday.
Amazon is competing against a start-up called Kabbage, which extends cash advances ranging from $500 to $50,000 to online merchants.
"We're flattered that Amazon is building a business modeled on ours," said Kabbage co-founder Marc Gorlin. "It's validating that big companies are getting into the small business financing space."
Former PayPal President and Yahoo ex-CEO Scott Thompson joined Kabbage's board on Thursday.
Amazon is lending up to $800,000 to some merchants, Wingo said, adding that this is a pretty aggressive entrance into merchant financing. The company is charging some sellers interest rates of up to 13 percent, but some other merchants are being offered rates as low as 1 percent, he added.
"This is definitely cheaper than credit cards and faster and easier than banks, so may fill a big hole for sellers," Wingo said.
Amazon is pre-qualifying some sellers based on their performance on the company's online marketplace. The money can be used by sellers to buy more inventory and increase sales on, according to the email.
Sellers can sign up for loans through their existing Amazon merchant accounts and if approved, Amazon said it will send the money to their bank accounts within five business days. Monthly interest payments on the loans will be deducted automatically from merchants' Amazon seller accounts, the email explained.
"We would absolutely be interested in borrowing money like this," said Joshua Wood, vice president of operations at Ozbo, an online merchant that sells on
"We have a 65,000-square-foot warehouse that we would love to fill with inventory that we would blow through during the holiday season," he added.
Ozbo is limited in how much inventory it can buy because most of its cash flow is being plowed back into other projects to grow its business, he explained.
Getting a credit line from a bank has been difficult because lenders require a personal guarantee from Ozbo's main investor, Wood said.
A loan from Amazon to buy more inventory would also lower Ozbo's per-item costs to buy the products it sells, he added.
"Everything is driven by volume," Wood said.
Kabbage, backed by investors including David Bonderman of TPG Capital, United Parcel Service and BlueRun Ventures, advances money to merchants to pay for a wide range of things, including inventory, supplies and to hire staff.
Amazon's financing must be used for inventory sold on, while Kabbage advances cash to sellers on, eBay, Yahoo!, Etsy and Shopify.
"The main differentiator is that we are platform agnostic," Gorlin said. "Our goal is to support merchants wherever they sell."
Kabbage merchants pay 2 percent to 7 percent for a 30-day advance. For an advance of up to six months, they typically pay 10 percent to 18 percent. That depends on the performance of their business and sellers' credit information, although no one is turned down solely for their credit score, Gorlin explained.
To get an advance from Kabbage, sellers provide the login for their online stores, a login for their bank account and their social security number.
Kabbage checks sellers' creditworthiness with this information, but it also analyzes their sales on online marketplaces, how they interact with customers on Facebook and Twitter and their record of shipping products with UPS.
This process is automated, so sellers can get cash advances in their PayPal accounts or bank accounts quickly - sometimes in as little as seven minutes, Gorlin said.
eBay does not offer a service like this for its sellers. However, Gorlin said eBay is a "good partner" of Kabbage. eBay may not provide its own advances, because the company may not want to upset its sellers by sometimes turning down their requests for working capital, he added.
Amazon shares closed up 2.8 percent to $256.59 on Thursday.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Google's 14th birthday marked by animated doodle


Google's 14th birthday is the subject of the latest doodle.The Google doodle starts with a cake with 14 candles. We see the candles being blown out and the cake transforming into a Google logo with 14 candles besides it.
Last year, Google's 13th birthday was marked by a doodle that depicted a party scene. Here's the story behind the doodle in the words of the artists who created it:
I was a designer in animation before I arrived at Google so I love animated films. Everything from the classics like Pinnoccio and The Jungle Book to recent stop motion films that are absolutely breathtaking... Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Their beautiful imperfections gave me the deep urge to make something with my hands... hoping to capture that human touch.
Google's 13th Birthday doodle was on deck and I was very much inspired to make a miniature set. Hoping to delight our users with even just a sliver of what I felt by watching those films I treated the letters as characters at a birthday party. Surrounded by a miniature set complete with a mini cake, mini presents and other mini props the logo was going to celebrate in style. Happy 13th Google!
The first time Google created a doodle to celebrate its birthday was way back in 2002, to mark Google's 4th birthday. Here's wishing you another great year Google!

Google's Brazil chief detained in YouTube case


Google Inc.'s head of operations in Brazil was detained by the country's federal police Wednesday after the company failed to heed a judge's order to take down YouTube videos that the court ruled violate Brazilian electoral law.The detention came as another court ordered YouTube to remove clips of an anti-Islam film that has been blamed for deadly protests by Muslims around the globe, both joining a spate of court ordered content removal cases against Google's video-sharing website in Brazil.
The arrest of Google executive Fabio Jose Silva Coelho was announced in Sao Paulo. A press release issued by the federal police said he was not expected to remain in jail and should be released later in the day after signing a document promising to appear in court.
Brazil's strict electoral laws limit what critics can say on television, radio and the Internet about candidates for office. Ahead of municipal elections next month, Google has received repeated requests to remove Web videos that allegedly violate those restrictions.
A judge in Mato Grosso do Sul state ordered Coelho's arrest Tuesday because the company had not removed YouTube videos that make incendiary comments about an alleged paternity suit aimed at Alcides Bernal, who is running for mayor of the city of Campo Grande. That ruling also included a statewide, 24-hour suspension of Google and YouTube. It was not immediately clear if and how that aspect of the ruling might be carried out.
Google said Tuesday that it was appealing the decision. "Being a platform, Google is not responsible for the content posted on its site," the company said in an emailed statement from Sao Paulo.
A judge in the southern state of Parana earlier ordered Google to pay $500,000 for each day that it balked at fulfilling an order to remove other videos criticizing a candidate. In the northeastern state of Paraiba, a judge ordered the imprisonment of another Google executive in Brazil, also for not removing videos from YouTube attacking a mayoral candidate, but that order was overruled by a higher court.
Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which promotes digital freedom, said the rash of Brazilian cases was "disappointing, but not surprising" ahead of the country's nationwide municipal elections on Oct. 7 and Oct. 28.
"The Internet is global, but laws are made nation by nation," she said. "There is a struggle between nation states and their laws and the freedom of expression policies of companies that host content all over the globe."
In a separate case pending against Google, Sao Paulo-based judge Gilson Delgado Miranda gave the site 10 days to remove video clips from "Innocence of Muslims," which has angered many Muslims around the world by its depiction of the Prophet Mohammed and his followers as thugs. After the 10-day window, Google will face fines of $5,000 a day for every day the clips remain accessible in Brazil, according to the statement on the court's website.
The company did not respond to requests Wednesday for comment about the case.
The "Innocence of Muslims" ruling resulted from a lawsuit by a group representing Brazil's Muslim community, the National Union of Islamic Entities, which claimed the film violates the country's constitutional guarantee of religious freedom for all faiths.
In a statement on the group's website, Mohamad al Bukai, the head of religious matters for the Sao Paulo-based organization, hailed the ruling.
"Freedom of expression must not be confused with giving disproportionate and irresponsible offense, which can provoke serious consequences for society," al Bukai said.
Dozens of people have been killed in violence linked to protests over "Innocence of Muslims," which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.
Attempts by courts and officials in several countries to remove the clips have revived the debate over freedom of expression.
The judge in the Brazilian case acknowledged that banning content from sites like YouTube is a thorny issue, according to excerpts of the ruling cited in the National Union of Islamic Entities' statement.
"This type of jurisprudence cannot be confused with censorship," Miranda is quoted as writing. In the excerpts, the judge defines censorship as "the undue restriction of the civic consciousness."
YouTube routinely blocks video in specific countries if it violates laws there. It also removes video deemed to infringe copyrights, show pornography, contain hate speech or violate other guidelines. However, none of those restrictions had been applied in Brazil to the "Innocence of Muslims."
Google is now selectively blocking the video clips in countries that include Libya and Egypt. Google has said it made the decision to block the video in such places due to "the sensitive situations" there.
Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation questioned whether a ban was really necessary in Brazil, which has seen no protests or rioting that have swept the Muslim world in recent weeks.
"The notion that there's a need to take it down to prevent violence is ludicrous," she said.
Miranda's ruling came on the same day that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff addressed the United Nations and urged an end to prejudice against Muslims.
Google has said it has been so inundated by requests from governments worldwide to remove online content that it has begun releasing a summary of the demands, most relating to legitimate attempts to enforce laws on issues ranging from personal privacy to hate speech.
But Google, which has been locked in a high-profile battle with China's leaders over online censorship in the communist nation since 2010, says it increasingly fields requests from government agencies trying to use their power to suppress political opinions and other material they don't like.
Brazilian government agencies alone submitted a total of 194 content-removal requests during the final half of last year, according to a summary released by Google in June. Running just behind that was the United States, where police, prosecutors, courts and other government agencies submitted 187 requests to remove content over the same period.
Brazil and other parts of Latin America are crucial to Google's growth strategy. Company executives have said that Latin America is the country's fastest-growing market.

Angry Birds maker Rovio hopes Bad Piggies will help it fly again


Angry Birds maker Rovio Entertainment will be hoping to prove it's no one hit wonder when it launches Bad Piggies on Thursday, just as players seem to be tiring of the game they've been addicted to for the past three years.The new game will feature pigs which strike back at the birds who attacked them with slingshots in Angry Birds.
A hit on app stores would give the Finnish company a boost as it looks to a possible stock market flotation next year. Some analysts put its market value at between $6 billion and $9 billion, nearly on a par with another top Finnish tech name, phone maker Nokia Oyj.
Rovio was founded in 2003 and became a global phenomenon after it launched Angry Birds for Apple Inc's iPhone in late 2009.
The highly addictive game helped Rovio's sales jump 10-fold to $100 million last year, a fraction of the 38.7 billion euros which Nokia chalked up.
It has remained at the top of gaming charts, with more than a billion downloads, and had 200 million monthly users at the end of 2011. That compares for instance with the 240 million attracted by offerings from U.S-based Zynga Inc, such as the Facebook based Farmville.
But there are signs Rovio is losing its momentum.
Amazing Alex, the first non Angry Birds game in more than two years from Rovio, hit No. 1 on download charts in July but has since slumped to outside the top 50, while Angry Birds Space has dropped fast from the top-grossing lists.
"Rovio needs a big hit right now. Over the past two months, Rovio's revenue generation ability has suddenly slipped badly," said analyst Tero Kuittinen from Finnish mobile analytics firm Alekstra.
Brand power
In Bad Piggies, instead of shooting with a slingshot, players build vehicles that help the characters get the birds' eggs.
The company said it was hoping the new game would breathe additional life into its brand.
"We see Bad Piggies as a long-term brand-building exercise. In three years from now we want to see Angry Birds and Bad Piggies as strong vibrant brands out there," Petri Jarvilehto, head of gaming at Rovio, told Reuters in an interview.
Rovio is also expanding into merchandising, modelling its long-term strategy on Walt Disney Co by selling a range of stuffed animals and other toys, as well as branded playground equipment which then bolster branding for its games.
If successful, the company says it could go public as soon as next year, offering a possible payday to its backers. Last year, Rovio raised $42 million from venture capital firms including Accel Partners, which previously backed Facebook and Baidu, and Skype founder Niklas Zennstroem's venture capital firm, Atomico Ventures.
Last year some 30 percent of turnover came from items other than games, but it is the group's on-screen inventiveness which is the crucial factor in its prospects.
"Rovio needs to re-establish its reputation for creating hits with legs (staying power)," Kuittinen said.
"There is no doubt that the pig game will hit number 1 at launch. But it has to stay in top ten for half a year to erase the doubts that the fast fade of Amazing Alex has created."
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Apple Maps errors send Japanese to homegrown app


When Hikarie, Tokyo's new must-visit shopping destination, opened in April, it was already old news on Mapion's map application. An elite team at the company, which is based here, had marked the glass tower a year earlier, keeping the service a step ahead in this fast-changing city.Mapion is one of Japan's homegrown companies that is benefiting from Apple's maps debacle, which has left local owners of the new iPhone 5 flummoxed over erroneous place names, long-outdated landmarks and train stations that appear to hover in the middle of the sea.
Those errors have prompted legions of users to flock to other map services, including Mapion, which has seized the day by promoting a map app it says is among the most obsessively checked and updated in Japan.
Downloads of its Mapion iPhone app, introduced in June, have jumped threefold since Apple released an update to its mobile software last week that replaced Google's maps with its own, said Yasunori Yamagishi, who runs Mapion's development team.
"Apple Maps has definitely been a tail wind for us," Mr. Yamagishi said. "It goes to show how much time and effort it takes to build a map for somewhere like Japan."
Apple's decision to switch to its own, less-polished maps does not appear to have hurt sales of its latest iPhone, which went on sale Friday in Japan to long lines and much fanfare. But it has demonstrated, on a global scale, how Apple, a seemingly infallible company, is still prone to embarrassing missteps.
Apple's map errors have been particularly embarrassing in hard-to-navigate Japan, where maps have become an essential smartphone feature. In Japan, most streets do not have names, and house numbers are often assigned by order of registration, not location. Before GPS and smartphones, the Japanese often went around city blocks two or three times, puzzling over well-worn maps looking for an address.
Moreover, cities like Tokyo are changing fast: its 80,000 restaurants, for example, open and close at a rapid rate amid cutthroat competition. Navitime, another map app that has benefited from Apple's map problems, updates its data every eight hours, and replaces a third of its seven million data points every year.
Against this challenging backdrop, Apple's maps have been a disappointment from the start. In central Tokyo, they show a busy Shinjuku subway station in the middle of serene Shinjuku Gyoen park, one of many errors diligently cataloged by Japanese bloggers. The Hinode monorail stop hovers above the waters of Tokyo Bay, which is erroneously labeled "the North Pacific."
Hikarie, the new shopping tower, is nowhere to be found, while a museum, now closed and once run by Tokyo Electric, the operator of the ravaged nuclear power plant at Fukushima, is marked as a major landmark nearby.
Apple has said that its map service was a work in progress and would improve as more people used it.
The biggest problem with Apple's map, Mapion's Mr. Yamagishi said, is that much of its data appears to be drawn from OpenStreetMap Japan, a Wikipedia-like service that contains a lot of incorrect and outdated information.
Moreover, Japan uses a system of longitude and latitude that differs slightly from the global standard, and Apple may have mixed up data sources that use the two systems, Mr. Yamagishi said.
At certain points, the difference between the Japanese and international coordinate systems can come to as much as 450 meters (1,476 feet), according to Japan's Land Ministry.
"It looks like they haven't merged their various data sources very well. That's a painstaking process that will take a lot of time and effort," Mr. Yamagishi said.
Mapion has been merging data constantly since 1997, he said, and has a team of engineers who scour sources for information that might require map updates. The team got the word in November 2011 that Hikarie would open the following year, and quickly updated its data with the planned shopping tower.
Those efforts have paid off: Mapion gets a combined 86 million page views of its online map service a month from PCs and smartphones.
Copyright 2012 The New York Times News Service

Bank of America tests technology to pay with phones


Bank of America Corp is testing a technology that allows a customer to pay at a store register by simply scanning an image with a smartphone, such as Apple Inc's iPhone or Google Inc's Android devices.The pilot program is being tested in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the second-largest U.S. bank is headquartered, and marks the latest effort by a financial institution to come out on top in the race to determine how people will pay for things in the future.
With sophisticated mobile phones reaching a growing number of people around the world, financial services companies, startups as well as technology giants such as Google and eBay Inc's PayPal, are looking for ways to turn phones into digital wallets that house credit and debit cards, coupons and store loyalty program details.
At stake is a gargantuan market for global mobile payments, which the consulting firm Gartner expects to exceed $171 billion this year.
Bank of America and other banks already rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for managing payments, making it imperative for them to come up with the new way for people to pay their bills especially when new regulations and a tepid economy are squeezing revenue.
In the trial, Bank of America has partnered with Paydiant, a startup that has developed a technology to allow such mobile payments. It doesn't require new phones or hardware for merchants.
In past trials, Bank of America has experimented with Near Field Communication technology, in which a chip installed in a phone transmits a radio signal when it is waved or tapped at a device at the cash register.
Bank of America launched its pilot last week at five merchants in Charlotte. The test will last three months and only the bank's employees have access to the program. They can use newer iPhones and phones that use the Android operating system.
"The pilots provide us with the opportunity to explore innovative mobile solutions, engage our customers and utilize their feedback," bank spokeswoman Tara Burke said.
Burke declined to comment on whether the bank is still considering using NFC technology but said it continues to test and monitor the marketplace. That technology suffered a setback this month when Apple did not embed NFC chips in its iPhone 5.
Early days
In the bank's NFC trials, customers stored their payment information digitally in a secure area on their phone and then paid at a merchant who kept a device to read the signal from the phone. In the latest test, customers store their payment cards on a computer server and when they pay, they use an application on their phone that scans a Quick Response code displayed at the register.
Paydiant is currently running tests with five banks and financial services companies, said Chris Gardner, one of the company's founders. He declined to name the other participants.
"We are in this extended period of test and learn," he said. "It's early days."
The company's technology also allows its customers to control the payment process, rather than acting as another intermediary like Visa or MasterCard, he said.
The technology currently works with QR codes but could be adapted to other methods that connect a user's phone to a retailer, Gardner said.
In the Bank of America trial, Gardner said, one restaurant is using codes printed on receipts, allowing customers to pay at their table and leave.
Paydiant was founded in 2010. It raised $7.6 million in venture capital funding in February 2011, followed by $12 million in July.
The company makes money from a combination of small transaction fees, user fees or revenue from advertisements and offers, Gardner said. Its partners can also generate revenue from the service.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Twitter has no immediate plans to go public: CEO


Twitter is not readying a public offering nor is it seeking to be sold to another group, chief executive Dick Costolo said Wednesday.An initial public offering (IPO) "is not something we're focused on right now," Costolo said in an interview with the financial network CNBC.
"There will come a time when we need to start talking about what's the best way to finance the future growth of the company and then we'll have that conversation."
Costolo said the disastrous IPOs of other social media firms like Facebook, whose stock has fallen as much as 50 percent since May, is not a factor in considering whether or when to go public.
"Nothing external to the company has had any bearing on how I think about when to take Twitter a public company or not to," he said.
Asked whether Twitter might be sold to another firm, Costolo commented: "We have every belief that we are going to be an independent company, and that we've got the engine that we need to be a successful independent company."
He said the company is executing its strategy of getting revenues from the mobile space.
"Our mobile ads are going pretty well," he said, adding that the ads begun earlier this year have produced days where revenue from mobile exceeds non-mobile revenues.
Twitter, which allows its members to post brief comments, links or pictures, claims to have more than 140 million active users, with the largest number being in the United States.
A recent survey found one in seven Americans who go online use Twitter and eight percent do so every day.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Samsung Android phones found susceptible to remote data wipes


Samsung's flagship Android smartphone Galaxy S III and select other phones have been found susceptible to a remote data-wipe hack, which will allow malicious websites to wipe out the entire phones.The hack was demonstrated at the Ekoparty security conference recently and can be triggered using a USSD code sent via NFC, QR code, a website.
At this point, the hack was found working on Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Beam, Galaxy S Advance, Galaxy Ace and Galaxy S II, all popular Samsung smartphones.
As the malicious code does not work on Galaxy Nexus, which runs on stock Android, the Touchwiz running devices seems to be affected. Stock Android shows the code in the dialler but does not run it automatically, while the USSD code executes automatically on Touchwiz featuring devices.
Another concern surrounding the hack is another piece of code which allows disabling the SIM card currently in the phone. This way, with a single attack, the entire Samsung phone can be wiped and the SIM card killed.
The phone users do see the process happening in front of them, but pressing back or any other key has no impact on the process. Removing the battery during the processor is also likely to cripple the phone.
Samsung is yet to issue a statement on the matter.


RIM previews BlackBerry 10, promises January 2013 release


Research in Motion offered investors a ray of hope on Tuesday, announcing an unexpected increase in subscriber numbers that sent its shares up 5 percent as the company worked hard to drum up enthusiasm for its crucial Blackberry due 2013.Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, a pioneer in the smartphone arena, has in past years lost market share in North America to Apple Inc and Samsung, whose more versatile and user-friendly devices took off.
RIM is trying to reinvent itself through a line of jazzed-up smartphones that will run on the BlackBerry 10 or BB10 operating system on which the company has staked its future.
In an attempt to create a buzz around the new devices, Chief Executive Thorsten Heins gave a preview of the smartphone and its features to its developers at a gathering on Tuesday in San Jose, California.
Dressed in an outfit few Silicon Valley executives sport a grey pinstriped suit Heins said the company was fighting for its future.
"There is new energy and a new fighting spirit in this company," he said as he listed new features from Internet browsing to multitasking between applications.
Heins said BlackBerry's subscriber base had risen to 80 million in the quarter ended September 1 from the 78 million it reported earlier this year.
The addition of subscribers surprised many on Wall Street and sparked a bounce in the company's share price. Most analysts had expected RIM to begin losing subscribers in the recently ended quarter, for the first time in its history.
In a presentation that lacked the customary pizzazz of major Silicon Valley events, executives showed off some of the key features of the new phone like the browser, and 'flow' and 'peek' features that let users access important features without leaving an open application.
RIM has completely focused on the launch of its new line of revamped devices in recent months, while its aging line-up of smartphones in the market have struggled to compete against the recently launched iPhone 5 and a slew of new Android devices.
It badly needs a hit. The launch of BB10 has been delayed to next year from the final quarter of this year, a decision that had not gone down well with RIM shareholders.
"BlackBerry 10 is our most important launch ever," he said.
Wallowing at its lows
RIM's stock is hovering around 9-year lows on both the Nasdaq and Toronto Stock Exchange. At its peak in 2008, RIM stock changed hands at around $140 a share. On Tuesday, the company's Nasdaq-listed shares closed 5 percent higher at $6.60. Its Toronto-listed shares rose 5.2 percent to C$6.50.
Even as it ceded ground in the crucial North American market, RIM has been able to attract buyers with its lower-end devices in emerging markets, where consumers are much more price conscious and where the much-admired BlackBerry messaging platform gives it an edge.
Growth from last quarter's base of roughly 78 million users, however, may come at a price, with gains skewed toward lower-end devices. This could hurt the closely watched average selling price for BlackBerry devices.
RIM is due to announce results for its fiscal second-quarter on Thursday.
Heins said the company was also getting positive feedback on its new BlackBerry 10 devices from the telecoms carriers that have had a peek at the new smartphones.
"We are making believers out of our partners. We are making believers out of those who had previously written BlackBerry off," Heins said.
The BB10 devices, due to be launched in early 2013, will run on a new operating system that RIM has said will offer a faster and smoother user interface, and a better platform for apps that are critical to a smartphone's success.
Paras Wadehra, an independent mobile apps developer, said the BB10 was a definite improvement.
"They have brought the older BlackBerry into the modern world," he said, but he added that the delay of the launch has been frustrating. "They are taking a step in the right direction, but they are walking slowly."
Wadehra, who has played with a model of the device for the past couple of months, liked the usability of the browser and the multitasking.
The company, which is doing all it can to attract developers onto its platform, showed off apps during the presentation from Facebook to FourSquare. The company said the BB10 would have all the popular social networking apps on it.
And it played a music video with RIM's head of developer relations, Alec Saunders, crooning a parody of REO Speedwagon's "Keep on Loving You."
The conference attracted app makers from emerging markets in Asia, a region where BlackBerry phones are popular and growing.
Many carried multiple phones from iPhones to BlackBerries to an assortment of Android devices.
Vietnam-based developer Louis Tang decided to develop for BlackBerry as it was free to do so and easy.
"BlackBerry is a very hungry platform," he said. "There is more competition on Android, and you earn less money."
Another developer from Malaysia, Shukri Saad, said his free prayer app on BlackBerry generates $1,500 a month on average through ads. He said that would not have been possible on other platforms.
Bellevue, Washington-based developer Neeraj Chawla said he was impressed with some of the user interface concepts such as "flow" and "peek," and the easy movement between apps in the new BB10.
CCS Insight mobile analyst John Jackson, who was also at the event, said he thinks RIM's new BB10 operating system is gaining traction with developers, and he believes it will offer users a unique experience.
"The question now is whether the devices will be sufficiently competitive and that is in no small way a function of RIM's ability to spend massive marketing dollars to cut through the competitive noise," said Jackson.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Which is your next Windows Phone device - Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X or Samsung ATIV S?


With HTC's Windows Phone announcement last night, we have three of the most awaited Windows Phone devices in front of us - Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung ATIV S and HTC 8X.There is no pricing or exact availability dates for any of these, but these three are going to be the main contenders for the next smartphone purchase of any Windows Phone lover. Let's take a look at these devices and what they have to offer.
Starting with HTC 8X, which is the latest of them. This uni-body Windows Phone from HTC, is packed with industry-leading specifications. 8X comes with 4.3-inch 720p Super LCD 2 display; it is the same display that we last saw in HTC One X, just a little smaller.
Company also seems to have included the same camera tech used in One X, but it does not use ImageSense branding here. The device sports an 8MP CMOS sensor with backside-illumination (BSI) for improved low-light performance, along with an f/2.0 aperture, 28mm lens and a dedicated imaging chip.
The front camera also seems great on-paper; it is a 2.1MPwith f/2.0 aperture and 88 degree ultra-wide angle lens. 8X is also the first Windows Phone with Beats Audio technology and an audio amplifier.
HTC also seems to have realised the importance of colours with the new Windows Phone devices. Windows Phone 8X will come in a variety of colours including California Blue, Graphite Black, Flame Red and Limelight Yellow.
On the downside, there is no expandable storage on 8X and you will only get 16GB of on-board storage, part of which will be used by the operating system itself.
Coming to the Nokia Lumia 920, it is the first Windows Phone device to feature PureView camera technology, but no 40MP sensors here. Nokia includes a 8.7MP sensor with advanced optical imaging stabilization. The company has reportedly put a lot of effort in display technology, and Lumia 920 features 4.5 inch Nokia PureMotion HD+ WXGA IPS LCD with super sensitive touch and sunlight readability enhancements.
Nokia has always produced some top notch hardware and we expect the same from Lumia 920. Another interesting feature in the 920 is wireless charging. The smartphone support Qi wireless charging standard. As expected, Nokia Lumia 920 will come in a variety of colours including yellow, red, grey, white and black.
There is no microSD card slot in Lumia 920, but Nokia is providing 32GB of storage, which should be enough for most smartphone users.
Talking about Samsung's ATIV S, it provides the best of the three specifications on paper. Featuring an aluminium body, ATIV S comes with 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD display, similar to what we have seen in Galaxy S III.
There is also an 8MP camera on the back along with 1.9MP front camera. Company also provides a microSD card slot along with 16/32GB of internal storage. Overall the smartphone looks quite decent.
As there are only odd differences between the three devices, it will all come down to the pricing and how soon they can reach the market.


Google reportedly working on Maps for iOS, but release months away


The rumours of Google working on maps app for iOS were further cemented today as The New York Times reported that the search giant is seeking to release the maps iOS app by the end of this year.
This is not the first time that we are hearing about end-of-year timeline, which was also touted in areport by TechCrunch. It is no surprise that Google is developing maps app for iOS devices given that iOS users constituted a large percentage of its mobile maps users before iOS 6 came along and changed all that.
Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt had earlier quashed the reports suggesting Google had already submitted the maps app for Apple's approval. He stated at the launch of Nexus 7 tablet in Japan that they had not done anything yet and it would depend on Apple to whether accept Google Maps as an app in Apple App Store.
"We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know. What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call," said Schmidt.
The New York Times points out that one of the reason why Google is a little late in bringing iOS app is that the search giant expected maps to remain on the iPhone for some time, based on the contract between the two companies. According to the report, the contract between Apple and Google still had some time to run, but Apple decided to terminate it prematurely. Hence, the Mountain View based company was caught off guard when Apple decided to launch its own maps apps in iOS 6.
Apple's new maps have been a subject of widespread ridicule, with some dubbing it as a rare Apple goof up. Consumers have already taken to social-networking sites like Twitter to vent out their frustration and disappointment. Google-owned Motorola even started an ad campaign targeting the new Apple iPad, dubbing its users #iLost.
The search company is yet to publicly bring any clarity of mapping situation in iOS 6, with many suggesting that the company might by enjoying all the controversy surrounding maps in new iOS version. But sources suggest that company is scrambling resources to bring out an app as soon as possible.
On the other hand, Apple is also thrown in more force behind its mapping operating after the public outcry and is reportedly hiring former Google Maps staff to work on its maps.


Google Street View goes underwater, offers virtual dives in coral reefs


A small team of Catlin divers used a special camera to capture panoramic imagery woven together at Google Maps and in a special Street View online gallery to let people swim along without getting wet.
"With these vibrant and stunning photos you don't have to be a scuba diver or even know how to swim to explore and experience six of the ocean's most incredible living coral reefs," said Google Maps and Earth vice president Brian McClendon.
"Now, anyone can become the next virtual Jacques Cousteau and dive with sea turtles, fish and manta rays in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii."
The underwater locations include the Great Barrier Reef, the Molokini Crater, and the Apo Island marine reserve.
"We've published images in seven continents, down the Amazon and in the Arctic," said Google Oceans Program manager Jenifer Austin Foulkes.
A channel at the Google+ social network devoted to the Catlin expedition, which has the potential to discover new species of marine creatures during a "deep reef" phase, has attracted about 1.4 million followers.
Undersea imagery could be seen online at
"This is a project that can engage people," Vevers said.
"We need to bridge the gap between scientific understanding and public awareness. We need people to be able to experience the ocean."

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Apple aggressively recruiting ex-Google Maps staff - report


That Apple's maps on iOS 6 are, well, a disaster is well established by now. Apple, no doubt, has a lot of work to do if it intends to come anywhere Google in terms of the quality of its Maps offering. And Apple seems to have figured the way to catch Google is to get ex-Googlers on board.According to a report in TechCrunch, Apple is reaching out to ex-Google employees in a bid to improve its offering. TechCrunch quotes a source who worked with Google as a contractor on Maps as saying Apple has been targeting Google employees well before #Mapgate enraged iOS users across the glove.
Many of my coworkers at Google Maps eventually left when their contracts ended or on their own accord. One guy looked around for other GIS work and ended up at Apple when a recruiter contacted him. He had heard rumours for a while that Apple was going to develop its own in-house mapping platform, and given his experience at Google, he was an easy hire. Apple went out of their way to bring him down to Cupertino and he's now paid handsomely as a GIS Analyst. Another coworker that was a project lead at Google Maps, left for the East Coast after his contract ended, and was recently contacted by an Apple recruiter. The position sounds like a product development manager position, and will pay him $85k+ and all the moving expenses from the East Coast. He's gone through 2 rounds of interview and seems like a frontrunner to land that position.
The source goes on to add that while catching Google may be difficult, it's not impossible as certain reports have suggested.
Apple has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to build a robust mapping platform to counter Google Maps, so it doesn't surprise me that it's going out of its way to lure former and current Google Maps employees. At Google Maps, we know what data's important, rendering priorities, keyword searches, and how the user experience is suppose to be. However, Apple needs to find a way to get its own 5 million miles of street view data, partner with the right folks, and spend a fortune on licensed data - which it can.

Google shares hit record high


Google shares rose more than two percent to a new high of $749.38 at the close of the Nasdaq exchange on Monday and continued to rise in after-hours trading.The stock price has climbed steadily this year as the California-based company bolstered its positions in key Internet growth areas with its dominant search engine, Android mobile operating system, and YouTube video venue.
The shares got a boost from a Citigroup note advising investors that the Google stock price could "rise significantly in the 12 months ahead."
Citigroup raised its target for Google to $850 from $740, saying that concern was abating regarding the cost of the Motorola Mobility acquisition, making money from ads on smartphones or tablets, and competition from Facebook.
Google shares were $751.09 in after-hours trades on Monday.
Recent public comments by Facebook chief and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg were credited with easing investor concern about a threat to Google's dominance in online search by Facebook, possibly in a partnership with Microsoft.
Zuckerberg said during an on-stage interview at a TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco that the social network's spin on search was likely to be answering questions with input from people's networks of friends.
For example, getting insights about restaurants, shops, films and more from those whose opinions are trusted.
But Zuckerberg was emphatic that Facebook had no interest in building its own smartphone and said the company was opting to focus on ways to make its service available on any devices people want to use to link to the Internet.
Smartphones powered by Android or Apple software accounted for an unprecedented 85 percent of the global market in the second quarter of this year, industry tracker IDC reported last month.
"The mobile OS (operating system) market is now unquestionably a two-horse race due to the dominance of Android and iOS," IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo said in the firm's quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report.
"There is still room for some mobile OS competitors to gain share, although such efforts will become increasingly difficult as smartphone penetration increases."
Google-backed Android accounted for a "commanding" 68.1 percent of all smartphones shipped in the three-month period; while BlackBerry and Symbian saw their shares slip to 4.8 and 4.4 percent respectively, according to IDC.
Google's Android mobile gadget operating system, which is free to device makers, is seen as a shrewd way to make it natural for people to use the firm's money-making products and services on smartphones or tablet computers.

Not yet offered new maps to Apple: Eric Schmidt


Google Inc. has not submitted a new Google Maps application to Apple Inc after the iPhone maker dropped the use of it in launching its newest device, the head of the world's top search engine provider said on Tuesday."We have not done anything yet," Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told a small group of reporters during a visit to Tokyo.
"We've been talking with (Apple) for a long time. We talk to them every day," he added
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012

Google Nexus 7 to reach India in November, will it be a 3G model?


Asus India stated on Tuesday at press event in Bangalore that Nexus 7 is likely to be released in the country in November. Company however did not announce the pricing of the Jelly Bean tablet, but did say that pricing might be revealed at the end of next month.The tablet was earlier reported to reach in October, but the launch was allegedly postponed and this is the first official confirmation of Nexus 7 launch in India.
Google Nexus 7 is being manufactured by Asus and the Taiwanese company is also looking after tablet's marketing in select countries and it seems India is part of that group.
Nexus 7 was originally launched at Google I/O this year and is powered by NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. It features 8/16GB of internal storage, 1GB RAM, 1.2MP front camera, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Nexus 7 version currently available does not features 3G connectivity, but a recent rumour has suggested that Asus has already started the production of 3G Nexus 7.
Considering that India is not such great market for launching a Wi-Fi only product because of the lack of public Wi-Fi hotspots, Asus might bring the rumoured 3G version to India. There is no confirmation on the 3G connectivity as of now, but it seems very likely.
Nexus 7 in other countries
Google and Asus have been slowly releasing Nexus 7 in countries other than initial batch. They recently launched the device in France, Germany and Spain and pre-orders have also begun in Taiwan. There are reports of a future Chinese launch as well.

HTC rumoured to be making Nexus 5, a 5-inch phablet


It seems Google has chosen HTC to build the next Nexus smartphone and the latest rumour fromGSMArena suggests that it will be based on the Taiwanese manufacturer's recently leaked 5-inch phablet.The website further reports that next Nexus phone might be dubbed as Nexus 5, which seems apt given the display size of 5-inch on-board.
There is no way to confirm the authenticity of this report, but given the last two Nexus smartphones were made by Samsung, Google would like to choose a different manufacturer for this year's Nexus release.
Expected to run on a newer Jelly Bean release, HTC Nexus 5 will feature 1080p display, along with Qualcomm's S4 Pro quad-core processor.
According to previous rumours, the smartphone will come with 12MP rear camera, 2MP front camera, and 2500 mAh battery.
Multiple Nexus phones
A previous report from Wall Street Journal had revealed Google is planning a major tactical change and will partner with multiple manufacturers to build several Nexus smartphones. A follow up leak from a Japanese telecom operator NTT Docomo document also painted a similar picture.
A HTC Nexus as a part of multiple Nexus smartphones seems very plausible, but we don't really think that Google will be releasing multiple Nexus smartphones.
Nexus smartphones have typically been reference devices and there is no point in having multiple reference devices for a single version of Android, which is not even a major release.
Nexus smartphone launch
Google had announced the current Nexus - Galaxy Nexus - last year on October 19 that too after a delay following the demise of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, so we expect it to release the next Nexus in October this year as well.
An October announcement gives it enough time to take it to the market in time for holiday shopping.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Samsung starts rolling out Galaxy S III Jelly Bean update in Europe


Samsung Galaxy S III owners in Poland woke up to a pleasant surprise Monday morning. As per a report in SamMobile, Samsung has started rolling out the Jelly Bean Android 4.1.1 update for Galaxy S III users in Poland.This is the first official Jelly Bean update for Samsung Galaxy S III users anywhere in the world. The update is available via KIES as well as an over-the-air upgrade for owners of Samsung's flagship smartphone. The news comes as surprise, since indications were the Jelly Bean update won't be available before October.
Jelly Bean will bring new features like Google Now, offline voice typing, expandable notifications and more, including performance improvements credited to Google's "Project Butter".
The update comes as great news for Samsung Galaxy S III owners around the globe, who now start wondering when the update will roll out in their country. There has been no announcement from Samsung on the launch of Jelly Bean for Galaxy S III in Poland, or any word on the rollout schedule for other countries.
Samsung Galaxy S III has been a huge success for Samsung, selling over 20 million units in a little over 3 months. Recently, reports of Samsung Galaxy S IV emerged in the Korean media, but Samsung was quick to dismiss the rumours.

Google emerges as world's most attractive employer again


Google continues to be a hot favourite for career seekers as the company has emerged as the world's most attractive employer, for the fourth consecutive year, says a survey.According to global employer branding firm Universum's global talent attraction index "The World's Most Attractive Employers 2012", Google has retained the top position in both categories business and engineering for the fourth year in a row.
"The Google fever is still hot! Students are attracted by Google's relaxed and creative work environment, international atmosphere and innovative products. Google offers great benefits and opportunities that are hard for other companies to match," Universum's CEO Petter Nylander said in a statement.
The index which is based on the preferences of over 144,000 career seekers, with a business or engineering background from the world's 12 greatest economies is split into two categories business and engineering.
In the business category, Google has blocked the top rank, followed by KPMG in the second place and Procter & Gamble in the third position.
Besides these, the world's top 10 employers in the business category include Microsoft in the fourth place, Deloitte (5th), Ernst & Young (6th), PwC (7th), J P Morgan (8th), The Coca-Cola Company (9th) and Goldman Sachs (10th).
Also in the engineering category, Google takes the first position for the fourth consecutive year and is followed by IBM and Microsoft.
Others in the top 10 engineering employers include BMW at 4th place, Intel (5th), General Electric (6th), Siemens (7th), Apple (8th), Sony (9th) and Procter & Gamble (10th).
"The giants in the software industry are seen as great places for the launch of an engineering or IT career. They offer training, networking and future career possibilities. Moreover, they are global," Nylander said.


Bihar turns to internet to make anganwadis work


It was meant to be a scheme to wipe out hunger and malnutrition and ensure basic education for children. Under the Integrated Child Development Services launched in 1975, many states set up anganwadis that offered a range of services to pregnant women, young mothers and children in the under-five age group.Running the anganwadi centres in Bihar is, however, emerging as quite a challenge. Less than half the centres in the state open daily; and of the children enrolled in them, less than half show up.
"In view of the poor functioning of the anganwadi centres, the government has initiated several measures to improve them," Social Welfare Minister Parveen Amanullah told  in an interview.
"Only 46 percent anganwadi centres open daily; the presence of children at the centres that open is low. On an average, 24 of 46 children come to a centre," the minister said, citing two surveys, one of which was conducted under the aegis of Britain's Department for International Development.
The minister, however, expressed confidence that the functioning of the centres could be substantially improved in just a year's time: "We are committed to improving the functioning of anganwadi centres, and we have taken steps to ensure that there is a marked improvement in a year's time," she said.
Punitive action has been taken against officials found wanting in the discharge of their duties: 1,593 anganwadi sevikas (workers, mostly women) have been relieved of their charge; three Child Development Project Officers (CDPOs) have been dismissed, 35 have been suspended and 20 others face punishment. Departmental proceedings have also been initiated against some women supervisors and clerks.
In a bid to keep a closer watch on the anganwadi centres, the social welfare department has decided to introduce web-based reporting of the functioning.
"By making monthly reports of the centres available online, Bihar has become the first state in the country to implement web-based reporting of the functioning of anganwadis," Rajit Punhani, secretary, department of social welfare, said.
Punhani was sanguine that the web-based reporting would also help check corruption. "Details of anganwadi centres, including distribution of take-home ration and presence of children, will be available online," he said.
The department has also introduced the e-dak software that will facilitate instant communication with CDPOs.
Punhani said that the web facility already covers 60,603 of the state's 80,000 anganwadi centres.
About 6.5 million children, 2.3 million adolescents and 1.3 million pregnant or lactating women are covered by the different programmes offered under the ICDS in the state.