Thursday, 28 February 2013

Samsung armours Android to take on BlackBerry


Samsung Electronics, which continues to vex Apple, now has another target, the BlackBerry.
Samsung's smartphones have been best sellers all over the world, but the company has been, until recently, marketing them to consumers, not businesses.
But over the last year, Samsung, the South Korean manufacturer, has been quietly beefing up the Google Android software that runs on its smartphones to give businesses a phone with more security.
It introduced that software, named Knox, as in the fort, at an international cellphone industry trade show here this week. Samsung said its new version of Android protected users from malware.
The company hopes that the new software makes Samsung smartphones attractive to corporate information technology departments that worry about the theft of sensitive corporate data by hackers. I.T. managers have been among BlackBerry's most loyal customers because of the security BlackBerry built into its phones and the private communications network it maintains.
Samsung said it teamed up with General Dynamics, a military contractor, to ensure its phones met the strict security standards of government agencies. Samsung executives have said Knox will first appear on a new Galaxy smartphone in the second quarter. That phone is likely to be the Galaxy S IV, which is expected to be introduced at an event in New York on March 14.
The company has also been focusing more on businesses in its advertisements. It ran a series of amusing commercials during the Academy Awards show on Sunday featuring the phones' handiness in a business.Samsung said it had evidence that it was ready for enterprise. Thousands of its Galaxy smartphones and tablets are already in the hands of American Airlines flight attendants, Dish Network cable technicians and Boston Scientific health care professionals.
"We will become No. 1 in enterprise," said Tim Wagner, a vice president for enterprise sales at Samsung who worked at BlackBerry. "If Samsung chooses to be No. 1 in a certain area, we will become No. 1."
Samsung has become the top seller of televisions and cellphones, but persuading I.T. managers to risk their jobs on a new security system will be tricky. BlackBerry executives insist the BlackBerry is still the top phone for professionals. But the company is vulnerable. Android phones and Apple iPhones last year replaced BlackBerrys as the most-used phones among workers all over the world, according to a study by the research firm IDC.
It found that more businesses were buying iPhones for their employees, and Android phones were the most popular among workers buying their own phones. That puts Samsung, as the leading Android phone maker, in position to become a top vendor for businesses.
To appeal to the business user, Samsung added special features to Android. One tool allows the phone owner to create separate "personas" for personal and business use, a feature also on the new BlackBerry 10.
In a phone's business persona, an office worker can use apps approved and monitored by the I.T. department. The worker can switch to a personal persona, where personal photos, games and calendar are stored, which cannot be seen by I.T. If the employee were to leave the company and keep the phone, the I.T manager can erase the data from the business persona, leaving the personal data untouched.
The business persona also has a layer of security. If malware were to infect the phone, it would not be able to invade the apps and data in the business persona, said Rhee Injong, a senior vice president for the Samsung group that developed Knox.
Samsung also has teamed up with AirWatch, a company that makes tools for I.T. professionals to manage phones. AirWatch will make detailed tweaks inside the business persona of a Samsung device, like creating restrictions for Wi-Fi networks or blacklisting certain apps.
John Marshall, chief executive of AirWatch, said that the benefit of Samsung's openness was that businesses could tailor their phone's software and also better manage the corporate fleet of phones. He said that because BlackBerry made its own I.T. management software, its flexibility was limited. BlackBerry, however, said that its approach offered higher and more consistent levels of security.
Samsung is also collaborating with developers. The note-sharing app Catch, for example, will use the persona system to allow people to divide notes so that the memos they share with friends do not show up in the notes they share with co-workers.
"It's going to make it much easier for people to use the app they use for personal collaboration with loved ones and family members, and then be able to use that same one at work," said Andreas Schobel, chief executive of Catch, in an interview.
BlackBerry's Balance feature allows corporations and governments to segregate employees' phones for work-related data and apps on its BlackBerry 10 phones. If any of those phones are stolen, or an employee is dismissed, corporate I.T. departments can wipe out company data by remote control.
In a statement, David J. Smith, the executive vice president for mobile computing at BlackBerry, suggested that Samsung's variation of Balance was wanting. "Only BlackBerry Balance can effectively keep sensitive corporate information secure while keeping an individual's personal information private," he said in a statement.
Mr. Smith also reiterated BlackBerry's longstanding claim that it was uniquely secure.
"Whatever any of our competitors announce, one thing won't change," Mr. Smith wrote. "The most secure mobile computing solution is a BlackBerry device running on a BlackBerry platform."
BlackBerry's first BlackBerry 10 phone, the Z10, is scheduled for release in the United States next month.
Alex Stamos, the chief technology officer of Artemis Internet, a computer security company, said that it would take more disclosure and months of study to assess the overall security of the Samsung system. He said that the ability to segregate work and personal data and apps was available for all Android phones from a number of other companies, including Good Technology and Fixmo.
He said that I.T. managers may be wary.
"You're trying to protect computations that operate in a secure container from an operating system you don't trust," Mr. Stamos said.
But because Samsung is a handset maker, its new system will have one significant distinction from other security products for Android. Like BlackBerry, Mr. Stamos said, Samsung will build a "trusted component" into the hardware of its phones that will verify that the phone's security and operating systems have not been corrupted.
"That makes it much harder to break any device." he said. "It is much closer to what a BlackBerry does."
Chris Hazelton, an analyst at 451 Research, issued a detailed report calling Knox a "fortress" for enterprise data on mobile devices. He said that by splitting business and personal apps into separate containers, Knox might even open doors for government workers to bring their own devices to work.
Chetan Sharma, a mobile communications consultant who has worked with wireless carriers, said that the BlackBerry remained the strong favorite of I.T. departments with strong concerns about security. But he said he was not sure that would last. And he said Samsung was in a strong position to attack.
"I think BlackBerry e-mail is still a gold standard," he said. But he noted that the hard truth for BlackBerry was that people were choosing their own phones for use at work. Stronger security will become even more important as Samsung steps into the world of mobile payments. At the trade show, Samsung also demonstrated its new Wallet app that will allow for people to pay for things with coming Galaxy phones. It also announced a partnership with Visa to handle mobile payments.

Apple CEO Cook promises investors 'great stuff' to come - See more at:


Apple CEO Tim Cook sought to reassure shareholders worried about the company's sagging stock price that the iPhone and iPad maker is on the verge of inventing more breakthrough products that will prove it hasn't lost its creative edge.
"The company is working as hard as ever, and we have some great stuff coming," Cook told shareholders Wednesday before taking their questions during Apple's annual meeting at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.
True to Apple's secretive nature, Cook didn't provide any further product details, although at one point he said the company is considering entering other categories besides its popular line of digital music players, smartphones and tablet computers.
There has been speculation that Apple is working on an Internet-connected watch or TV that will be introduced later this year. One shareholder at Wednesday's meeting threw a new idea for Apple to ponder - a computerized bicycle. Cook, an avid bicyclist, chuckled at the suggestion, along with the rest of the audience.
Although there were more moments of levity, Wednesday's meeting was less celebratory than the events in past years, when Apple's stock price was soaring to the delight and enrichment of its shareholders.
Since hitting an all-time high of $705.07 five months ago, Apple's stock has plunged by 37 percent. The decline has wiped out collective shareholder wealth totaling $240 billion. That amount exceeds the total market value of Microsoft Corp., which reigned as the most influential company in personal computing until Apple ushered in an era of mobile devices with the 2007 release of the iPhone and the 2010 introduction of the iPad.
Cook, who became CEO shortly before Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died in October 2011, has a huge incentive to get the company's stock price strong again. The 1.1 million Apple shares he owns are worth about $300 million less than they were five months ago.
"I don't like it, either," Cook said of the downturn in Apple's stock.
Apple Inc. hasn't unveiled another trailblazing product since Cook took over, raising concerns about whether the company is losing the ingenuity that has set it apart from the rest of the technology pack.
Cook told shareholders the company's commitment to innovation remains Apple's "North Star" and "the beat of its heart."
His pep talk evidently didn't inspire many investors. Apple's stock shed another $4.40 to close Wednesday at $444.57.
Shareholders still affirmed their confidence in Cook at the meeting. Preliminary results showed Cook was re-elected to Apple's eight-member board of directors with 99 percent of the vote.
Wall Street may have been disappointed that Cook didn't provide any further clarity on whether Apple might distribute some of its $137 billion in cash to shareholders in the form of a dividend increase or a special one-time payment.
Apple shareholder David Einhorn, who runs the Greenlight Capital hedge fund, turned Apple's cash hoard into a hot topic in the weeks leading up the meeting. He sued to block a proposal that would have required shareholder approval for Apple to issue preferred stock. Einhorn argued that if approved, it would create a bureaucratic hurdle that could make it more cumbersome to return cash to shareholders. He wants Apple to issue preferred shares called "iPrefs" that would yield an annual dividend of 4 percent.
A potential showdown was averted last week when a federal judge ruled that Apple had improperly bundled several corporate governance issues, including the handling of preferred stock, in the same proposal. Apple withdrew the proposal from Wednesday's agenda, to the chagrin of two shareholders who said they would have voted for it. Supporters of the measure included the California Public Employee Retirement System, or CalPERS, which urged Cook to do what's best for Apple's long-term interests.
"I would say the message is, 'Keep calm and carry on,'" said Anne Simpson, who oversees corporate governance for CalPERS.
Einhorn, whose fund owns 1.3 million Apple shares, didn't appear at Wednesday's meeting.
In response to a question Wednesday, Cook said Einhorn's resistance to a shareholder vote on preferred stock remains "a silly sideshow, regardless of how a judge ruled on it." Cook remarks echoed the derisive description he used during an appearance at an investor conference earlier this month.
Cook also sounded a familiar refrain when he discussed Apple's pile of cash. "This is a serious subject, and one we deliberate on as a board and a management team. We are in very, very active discussions on it," Cook said.
Not long after Cook made similar remarks at last year's annual meeting, Apple announced plans to start paying a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share and to spend $10 billion buying back its stock in the fiscal year that began last October. Even though the dividend commitment costs Apple $10 billion annually, the company now has $39 billion more cash than it did year ago.
The prosperity underscores the ongoing popularity of Apple's products.
Although Apple is selling more gadgets than ever before, the company's profits and sales aren't growing as robustly because of fiercer competition from a multitude of other smartphones and tablet computers, including ones costing less. Apple's biggest headaches have been caused by Android, a mobile operating system that Internet search leader Google Inc. gives away to a long list of device makers led by Samsung Electronics Co.
There are now an estimated 600 million devices running on Android, giving it a lead over Apple.
Cook said Apple remains more interested in the quality of its products than the quantity sold.
"We want to make the best," Cook said. "That's why we are here."

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Airtel launches Opera Web Pass for pay-as-you-go Internet plans


Bharti Airtel and Opera Software have launched a new service, Opera Web Pass, in the Indian market. The Web Pass allows mobile Internet users to subscribe to pay-as-you-go plans and services such as daily, weekly or weekend access plans, for their Airtel mobile phones through the Opera Mini browser. Airtel says that, in India, the service will be available exclusively to its customers.
Subscribers simply need to fire up the Opera Mini browser on their mobile phones, go to the Opera Web Pass page from the Speed Dial start page and choose from a list of web pass subscriptions, allowing them to purchase from a range of packages to suit their Internet access needs. At the time of writing this post, we did not see a Web Pass page on our Opera Mini speed dial, on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus device.
When live, users can buy (say) an hourly data plan, a 24-hour data plan for unlimited browsing throughout the day or a weekend-only mobile Internet plan. All this from the home screen of their browser, even if they don't have an active data connection.
"Access to the web is a universal right. Partnering with market leaders such as Airtel has offered us the opportunity to help lower the barriers to access the mobile web and empower more Indian users to get online," says Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software.
"For millions of users, their mobile phones have the potential to become the first device through which they will experience the web. We want to simplify the steps leading to web browsing for these first-time users. Opera Web Pass allows us to give users access to the mobile Internet when and where they want it," added N Rajaram, Chief Marketing Officer for Consumer Business, Bharti Airtel.
Airtel says that for mobile subscribers without data plans, this is the easiest and most flexible solution for accessing the web, as it lets users choose an exact time period to access the web, rather than the amount of megabytes, making it look more tangible and easy to understand.

Google Plus Sign-In to take on Facebook Connect for login and sharing


Google Inc transformed the Internet by cataloging the Web's countless pages. Now it wants to keep better track of the Web's multitude of users.
The Mountain View, California-based company said Tuesday it would begin encouraging websites and mobile apps to accept log-in credentials via Google+, its social network.
The integration with third-party sites and apps, which Google hopes will help it track users as they surf across the Internet, represents the search powerhouse's latest effort to establish a foothold in the all-important social Web arena - and beat back competition from Facebook Inc, the sector leader.
Sites that have so far agreed to accept Google's social sign-in include The Guardian and USA Today's websites, as well as Fancy, the shopping site, and Fitbit, the personal fitness-tracking service and app, Google said in a blog post Tuesday.
Since 2008, Facebook has been able to gather massive troves of information about its users' activities even if they are not on Facebook because many popular apps - such as Spotify's music streaming service - allow users to log in with their Facebook identity, which results in data funneled back to the social network.
In response to Facebook's rise, Google has made its social Web efforts a top priority in recent years. But results have been mixed under the leadership of Chief Executive Larry Page and Vic Gundotra, the influential senior vice president spearheading Google's social networking efforts.
Launched in 2011, Google+ still lags far behind Facebook it had 100 million monthly active users in December, according to comScore, compared to well over 1 billion for Facebook. But Google officials have downplayed the lukewarm public reception, saying they view Google+ more as an invisible data "backbone" that tracks individual users across its various properties - and less as a consumer Internet destination.
Over the past year the company has made changes to the log-in process at its YouTube subsidiary, for instance, in order to nudge the video site's 800 million users to sign in and leave comments with their Google+ accounts rather than anonymous handles.
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Xperia Z sales off to a good start: Sony


Sales of Sony Corp's Xperia Z high-end smartphone have got off to a good start since its launch in several leading European markets on Monday, said Sony Mobile's Calum MacDougall, head of Xperia marketing.
"We have seen really good pre-orders", McDougall said in an interview at the Mobile World Congress. "We had the first stocks available in Germany in Berlin at the Sony store and sold those out in two hours.
"In France, we sold more in one day in our online store than we sold in 12 weeks in mobile devices."
The Xperia smartphone, which went on sale in Japan last month and is now available in 60 countries, sells for 649 euros and is part of the Japanese electronics group's push for a greater market presence in mobile devices.
Sony has identified mobile devices, which also include Xperia tablets, as part of its efforts to overcoming problems in its television unit that contributed to a record group loss in its last fiscal year.
"It (the Xperia smartphone) sold over 150,000 units in its first week in Japan, taking a 24 percent market share straight away." McDougall said. "It may be a bit too early to say but the first signs a very positive."
Yet the phone faces stiff competition from already-established devices from Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. Sony's share of mobile phone sales in the fourth quarter was 1.7 percent, compared with Samsung's 22.7 percent and Apple 9.2 percent, according to consultancy Gartner.
Also in Barcelona, Sony presented the Xperia Z tablet, billed as dust and water resistant. Only 6.9 millimetre thin and weighing 495 grammes, the Tablet Z has a 10.1 inch high-definition screen and will go on sale this spring.
The tablet aims to be a direct challenge to Apple, which has dominated the high-end tablet market, although smaller and cheaper Android-based tablets have also won market share.
"Many have tried and failed to compete with the iPad in the premium 10 inch tablet space and, at first glance, it is difficult to see how Sony expects to achieve this," said David McQueen, Informa telecoms & media analyst.
With its Xperia line Sony hopes to bank on a multi-device strategy, adding its media content such as movies and music, as well as its PlayStation gaming Service. Both devices run on Google Inc's Android operating system, but that doesn't mean it will be Sony's only bet.
Sony Mobile also agreed on Monday to work with Telefonica on developing smartphones aimed at emerging markets powered by the Mozilla Firefox operating system.
Asked if Sony would create a Windows-based smartphone, McDougall declined to say. "The products we will bring to the market in the first half of this year are Android products. Of course we are always looking at different operating systems."
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 finally comes to Windows 7


Microsoft Corp released Internet Explorer 10 to millions of new users on Tuesday, hoping the latest version of its market-leading browser will win back customers who have migrated to Google Inc's Chrome and help it establish a toe-hold in the fast-growing mobile browser market.
The world's largest software maker, whose Internet Explorer browser elbowed out Netscape Navigator in the early days of the web, said IE 10 is 20 percent faster at downloading sites than its predecessor IE 9 and allows for touch-screen commands.
The browser has been available since late October for users of Windows 8, Microsoft's new touch-friendly operating system, but now becomes available for the 700 million or so users of Windows 7.
Microsoft is hoping PC and laptop users will like the new browser enough to consider buying Windows 8 tablets rather than Apple Inc's iPad, which does not run Internet Explorer.
Various versions of Microsoft's venerable Internet Explorer franchise still dominate desktop browsing, with 55 percent of the PC browser market all together. But it has in recent years lost share to Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome, which now account for 20 percent and 17 percent respectively, according to tech research firm NetMarketShare.
IE 10 running on Windows 8 has got generally good reviews, and has been hailed as the best version of Internet Explorer yet, but it has not been considered decisively superior to Chrome or Firefox.
In the smaller but faster-growing mobile browser market, Apple's Safari is the runaway leader with 61 percent, owing to the popularity of its iPhones and iPads while Google's Android browser has 21 percent.
Tablets running Windows 8, including Microsoft's own Surface devices, have not sold strongly since they were launched last October, restricting IE 10's popularity so far. Only 2.3 percent of computer users are running Windows 8, according to NetMarketShare.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

ZTE Grand Memo official with 5.7-inch HD display, 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU


Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE had entered the phablet arena with the Grand S device launched at the Consumer Electronics Show last month. Now, as expected, the company has introduced another phablet, called the Grand Memo that officially made its debut at this year's Mobile World congress. 

The company had earlier issued invites to the event and has mentioned two twitter hashtags to follow - #ZTEGrandMemo and #ZTEMozilla. The  ZTE Grand Memo was earlier teased at an event in Hong Kong on January 30, 2013.

Measuring 8.3mm, the ZTE Grand Memo sports a 5.7-inch screen with a 720p display and comes with Android 4.1.2 on-board. There's a 13-megapixel rear camera capable of 1080p video recording.

Internally, the device is powered by a quad-core 1.7GHz 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 1GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The Grand Memo becomes the first Android device to feature Qualcomm's latest and greatest Snapdragon 800 CPU.

The device also features a 3,200mAh battery and the company is planning to out an LTE variant of the phone that will sport a 1080p display instead of the 720p one in the HSPA version. 

Connectivity wise, the device boasts Wi-Fi, DLNA, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and comes integrated with Dolby Digital technology. 

Furthermore, as predicted earlier, to make one-handed usage more comfortable, the Grand Memo offers a nifty feature called Mi-Pop. It allows the device to adjust its keyboard and number pad slightly more to the left or right depending on your hand preference allowing you to type with one hand. This would come as a relief to many users with tiny hands who devoid themselves to the phablet experience due to the sheer size of these devices.

Pricing and availability details of the ZTE Grand Memo remain sketchy, though the company mentioned that it will be launching in China sometime next month, with a release for European markets scheduled for later this year.

ZTE Grand Memo key specifications
  • 5.7-inch 720p display
  • 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB of internal storage
  • 13-megapixel rear camera
  • 1-megapixel front camera
  • Wi-Fi, DLNA, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3,200mAh battery
  • Android 4.1.2
  • Measures 8.3mm in thickness

Google, Facebook most trusted Internet brands in India: Study


Google and Facebook have emerged as the most trusted Internet brands in a recent survey undertaken by Trust Research Advisory, a statement said Monday.
The Brand Trust Report, India Study - 2013 in its research said that while Google remains India's most trusted Internet brand for the third year in a row, Facebook was a close second with only a miniscule gap.
This year's research was conducted in 16 cities generating 19,000 unique brands across 211 categories. The research also highlighted the advent of the online shopping brands and the ensuing trend.
N. Chandramouli, chief executive officer of the Trust Research Advisory said the online shopping category will see an accelerated growth over the next year.
"With most of the new brands entering the most trusted list this year being from online shopping or Internet services, there will be no stopping this sub-category from seeing accelerated growth over the next 12 months," he said.
Chandramouli also said that online brands rely significantly on trust more than any other factor as the the exchanges are without any physical interface, and the online world is cluttered with choices that make loyalty ephemeral.
An analysis of the All India Most Trusted ranks shows that Google (All India rank 44) fell 13 ranks and Facebook (All India rank 48) gained 17 ranks to bridge the gap.
Yahoo still stood as the third Most Trusted Internet brand despite its 62 rank fall in All India Brand Trust rank. Google's Orkut steadied at fourth rank despite a significant fall in daily visitors from India.
ebay follows as India's fifth Most Trusted Internet brand with a very small difference in BTI from the previous. The top six of last year are repeated in the same order this year as well.
The leaders in the various sub-categories are Naukri leading in Internet services, Youtube in online sharing, ebay in online shopping, Google in Internet tools and Facebook in social networking.
The Brand Trust Report, India Study, 2013, is the result of a primary research based on the proprietary 61-component Trust Matrix.

Yahoo chief bans working from home


Since Marissa Mayer became chief executive of Yahoo, she has been working hard to get the Internet pioneer off its deathbed and make it an innovator once again.
She started with free food and new smartphones for every employee, borrowing from the playbook of Google, her employer until last year. Now, though, Yahoo has made a surprise move abolishing its work-at-home policy and ordering everyone to work in the office.
A memo explaining the policy change, from the company's human resources department, says face-to-face interaction among employees fosters a more collaborative culture - a hallmark of Google's approach to its business.
In trying to get back on track, Yahoo is taking on one of the country's biggest workplace issues whether the ability to work from home, and other flexible arrangements, leads to greater productivity or inhibits innovation and collaboration. Across the country, companies like Aetna, Booz Allen Hamilton and are confronting these trade-offs as they compete to attract and retain the best employees.
Bank of America, for example, which had a popular program for working remotely, decided late last year to require employees in certain roles to come back to the office.
Employees, especially younger ones, expect to be able to work remotely, analysts say. And over all the trend is toward greater workplace flexibility.
Still, said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger Gray & Christmas, an outplacement and executive coaching firm, "A lot of companies are afraid to let their workers work from home some of the time or all of the time because they're afraid they'll lose control."
Studies show that people who work at home are significantly more productive but less innovative, said John Sullivan, a professor of management at San Francisco State University who runs a human resource advisory firm.
"If you want innovation, then you need interaction," he said. "If you want productivity, then you want people working from home."
Reflecting these tensions, Yahoo's policy change has unleashed a storm of criticism from advocates for workplace flexibility who say it is a retrograde approach, particularly for those who care for young children or aging parents outside of work. Their dismay is heightened by the fact that they hoped Ms. Mayer, who became chief executive at 37 while pregnant with her first child, would make the business world more hospitable for working parents.
"The irony is that she has broken the glass ceiling, but seems unwilling for other women to lead a balanced life in which they care for their families and still concentrate on developing their skills and career," said Ruth Rosen, a professor emerita of women's history at the University of California.
But not only women take advantage of workplace flexibility policies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly as many men telecommute.
The bureau says 24 percent of employed Americans report working from home at least some hours each week. And 63 percent of employers said last year that they allowed employees to work remotely, up from 34 percent in 2005, according to a study by the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit group studying the changing work force.
During the recession, the institute expected employers to demand more face time, but instead found that 12 percent increased workplace flexibility, said Ellen Galinsky, its president and co-founder. She attributed this to companies' desire to reduce real estate costs, carbon footprints and commuting times.
Technologies developed in Silicon Valley, from video chat to instant messaging, have made it possible for employees across America to work remotely. Yet like Yahoo, many tech companies believe that working in the same physical space drives innovation.
A Yahoo spokeswoman, Sara Gorman, declined to comment, saying only that the company did not publicly discuss internal matters.
The company's memo, written by Jackie Reses, director of human resources at Yahoo, and published on All Things D, a blog on digital issues, said: "Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."
In part, the memo looks like an effort to bring a Google spirit to Yahoo, said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners who covers both companies.
"Marissa's trying to increase the energy and output and change the culture of the company," he said. "She brings all the Google lessons to the table, and Google is very focused on having your life revolve around their campus so you can spend a significantly larger chunk of time at work."
Still, Google, as well as Facebook, does allow people to work remotely on a case-by-case basis. But both companies also strongly stress in-person collaboration.
Standard Silicon Valley perks like cafeterias with free food, shuttle buses, gyms, ice cream parlors and dry cleaners not only make employees' lives easier, but keep them on campus during the day and promote contact with other employees. Nearly all tech companies have desks packed tightly together without walls and communal work areas with sofas and beanbags.
Zappos, the e-commerce company owned by, previously allowed some customer service agents to work from home, but now has a rule against working remotely. The company locks all office doors except one so employees are forced to run into more people on the way out, and budgets fewer than 100 square feet per employee, versus the standard 120 square feet or more.
"It's to maximize those serendipitous encounters," said Zach Ware, who oversees campus development at the company. "The success of our company is built on our culture, and our perspective is you can't really do that on e-mail."
Some companies outside the tech industry are also re-evaluating flexible work arrangements. In addition to Bank of America, certain industries that deal with sensitive client information, like health care and finance, have more restrictions on working remotely.
Yet more companies embrace flexibility. At Aetna, 47 percent of workers telecommute, up from 9 percent in 2005. The company provides secure Internet and phone connections, locked file cabinets and shredders. During that period, the policy has saved the company $78 million in real estate costs, said Susan Millerick, an Aetna spokeswoman.
At Booz Allen, employees can work at home or sign up to work at a desk in another branch, called "hoteling." The policy has been vital to employee retention, said Christopher Carlson, a senior associate in human resources at Booz Allen. He works from his home in Florida, where he moved from the Washington, D.C., region to care for his aging parents.
"It allows me to integrate my work and life and be successful at both," Mr. Carlson said. "And I spend less money on gas."

MasterCard unveils MasterPass mobile payment solution


Mastercard unveiled its bid to dominate the mobile payments market on Monday with a 'virtual wallet' allowing customers to keep personal payment details in their phone and avoid checkouts by scanning bar codes in-store to pay.
Financial services companies like the U.S. credit-card company as well as technology names Google and eBay Inc's PayPal are looking for ways to capitalise on the prevalence of consumers' sophisticated phones by providing programs that house credit and debit cards, coupons and store loyalty program details virtually.
Mastercard said its MasterPass service, effectively an app, would let customers pay for their goods without approaching a cashier by instead scanning a bar code and creating a digital receipt on their phone or tablet that can be shown as they exit the store.
It can also be used for easier online payments, allowing customers a "one click" way to pay without the hassle of having to input their credit or debit card details each time.
It comes almost a year after MasterCard's first foray into the mobile payments market with PayPass, which let customers pay at store tills by simply tapping their cards against a sensor.
The U.S.-based credit card company said the MasterPass system would be rolled out in Australia and Canada by the end of March. The United States will follow later in the spring, ahead of the UK in the summer.
Participating retailers include Argos, Boots and American Airlines, while banks which have signed up include Spain's BBVA and Santander, Citigroup in the United States, Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo and Sweden's Swedbank.
Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer at MasterCard, said banks would pay to use the technology, but would not give any detail on what the charges would be. Banks will also be able to use a "private label" version that can wrap their own cards into the MasterPass virtual wallets.
McLaughlin would not give details on MasterCard's usage targets for MasterPass, but said it was his company's "big play" for the next generation of payments technology.
Last month MasterCard posted fourth-quarter results that topped Wall Street estimates as more people chose card payments over cash, but it warned that global economic woes could slow revenue growth in 2013.
Both it and larger rival Visa Inc are working to spread card payments in parts of the world dominated by cash transactions. Mastercard is now focusing on tie-ups with banks in Africa and Brazil, where mobile and card payments are on the rise. It has also linked up with TIM, the second-largest mobile network operator in Brazil, to launch a mobile money program for its subscribers.
But MasterCard has its work cut. While the area of mobile payments is widely seen as the next big money-spinner, companies are so far struggling to make money from them. There is also a raft of different products coming to market.
Visa Inc will soon be rolling out its own digital wallet service, while last week PayPal launched a new European version of its mobile payments service that merchants can run on Apple Inc iPhones and Android-based smartphones.
Meanwhile tech start-up Square, headed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has attracted thousands of small merchants in recent years by offering a free card reader that attaches to smartphones and handles payments for a flat fee.

Chinese smartphone makers Huawei, ZTE aim for the top


China's Huawei, little known to consumers just a couple of years ago, is now leading the pack of smartphone makers chasing Apple and Samsung, with ZTE, another Chinese company, snapping at its heels.
Huawei, which sold 32 million smartphones in 2012, up 60 percent on 2011, unveiled its new flagshipAscend P2 smartphone in Barcelona, boasting a connection speed of 150 MB per second, the fastest on the market.
The company was third in smartphone sales in the final quarter of 2012, according to research firm IDC, with ZTE in fifth place and Sony sandwiched in between. Samsung and Apple, however, were far in front with half the market between them.
Wan Biao, chief executive of Huawei Device Co, said the Ascend P2's faster download speeds would make a difference to customers using 4G networks in countries such as Japan.
The device also includes power-saving technology, developed using expertise from its networks business, which Biao said helped it stand out against other high-end phones running Google's Android software.
"Our target is for Huawei to provide the best smartphones in the world, better than the iPhone, better than Samsung," he said in an interview on Monday. "Our target is top three in market share."
Huawei, which became established by selling unbranded phones to operators, said the Ascend P2 would be available from the second quarter priced at 399 euros, hundred of euros less than flagship devices from its rivals.
Biao said that the company was still establishing itself as a brand in the minds of consumers, so its phones did not attract high subsidies from network operators.
"Operators give a high subsidy to Samsung and Apple," he said. "We have a very high quality product but the price we set is not as high as these two smartphones; we have to develop differentiated products."
Analyst Carolina Milanesi at Gartner said the Ascend P2 was a notable step forward for the Chinese company, showing a focus on the most important aspects for consumers, such as speed, an impressive screen and longer battery life.
ZTE, which also developed its technology by making devices for others, is equally ambitious. On Monday, it said it expected to increase smartphone revenue by 30 percent this year.
"We at ZTE consider ourselves as not tier one yet, we see ourselves as tier two, comparable to HTC, Sony and Motorola," He Shiyou, head of mobile services division, said in an interviewer via a translator. "We have to be as aggressive as possible."
He said ZTE would reduce its product range to achieve larger sales of fewer models, and focus on the strongest markets for smartphones - the United States, China, Europe and Australia.
It previously took ZTE six months to catch up with the Samsung's software and hardware specifications, he said, but now it only took a quarter. "We need to close that gap," he said.
"By 2015, we are hoping to achieve the top three by market share, but in terms of branding image and also pricing segmentation, we want to reach the top five," he said.
ZTE unveiled a 5.7 inch Grand Memo handset in Barcelona, firmly in the "phablet" screen dimensions that Samsung has popularised in its Note range, and the ZTE Open, a smartphone running on Mozilla's Firefox OS open ecosystem.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines review


You're entering a tight corridor filled with menacing shadows. Is that breathing you hear? Well, don't run. Clanging metal walkways and staircases always give your position away.
You might be playing a first- or third-person shooter or watching the film "Aliens."
Every science fiction/horror game of the last 20 years from the granddaddy of them all, Id's "Doom," to recent titles such as Electronic Arts' "Dead Space" series - owes a debt to the first two films in the "Alien" franchise, Ridley Scott's moody 1979 original and James Cameron's action-packed 1986 sequel, "Aliens."
"Aliens: Colonial Marines" (Sega, for Xbox360, PS3, $59.99; for PC, $49.99) is the follow-up that fans have been craving. (Forget about "Alien 3" and "Alien: Resurrection.") Developed by Gearbox Software, maker of the fantastic "Borderlands" series, it offers a strong story that fits perfectly within the mythology of the franchise.
Taking place shortly after the events of Cameron's sequel, "Colonial Marines" puts you right into the thick of the action on the planet LV-426. You play as Cpl. Christopher Winter, who arrives with his Marine unit at the planet in response to a distress call from the U.S.S. Sulaco - the ship Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley is aboard at the close of the second film.
Your mission is to find out why the Sulaco is still orbiting LV-426.
If you can survive the xenomorphs.
Some attack you from the ceiling. Some spit acid. Some explode when you get too close. When a face-hugger leaps at you for the first time, it'll make you jump out of your seat and laugh at the same time.

There are many nice touches drawn from the "Aliens" film. You can cut open and seal doors with welding torches. Your main weapon is a pulse rifle - complete with pump-action grenade launcher - and you can also track down "Legendary" weapons that pack a bit more punch, such as Cpl. Hicks' shotgun and Lt. Gorman's pistol. The ships and vehicles are spot-on with those in the movie, and sparring with a xenomorph while strapped into a power loader is as fun as it sounds.
And then there's my personal favorite: the motion tracker. When a horde is closing in from all directions, you may feel the urge to say, "There's something moving and it ain't us."
As you progress through the 8- to 10-hour campaign, you earn points that can be spent on weapon upgrades or your character's appearance. These upgrades apply across all the content in the game - including the multiplayer, which allows you to play as a xenomorph in several modes.
The settings are the real meat of the game. You spend some time aboard the Sulaco before reaching the planet's surface and fighting your way through the Hadley's Hope colony, both of which boast a strong attention to detail when it comes to the set designs from the film. Perhaps the most satisfying segment takes place aboard the derelict spaceship, complete with egg chamber and - yes! - the "space jockey."
The ominous Weyland-Yutani Corp. hovers over everything, and you may even pick up on a small reference to Scott's sort-of prequel "Prometheus." And series veterans Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen provide voiceover work.
Truth be told, the mechanics are pretty standard, the load times seem a bit long for this generation and the closing segment with the alien queen falls very flat. Still, "Aliens: Colonial Marines" should satisfy the average shooter fan and will enthrall those who love the films. Three stars out of four.

US seeks to tackle trade-secret theft by China, others


Faced with the growing theft of U.S. trade secrets, the White House said on Wednesday it was stepping up diplomatic pressure and mulling tougher laws to stem the threat to American businesses and security from China and other nations.
The plan includes working with like-minded governments to put pressure on bad actors, using trade policy tools, increasing criminal prosecutions and launching a 120-day review to see whether new U.S. legislation is needed.
"A hacker in China can acquire source code from a software company in Virginia without leaving his or her desk," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a White House event to unveil the strategy.
Although the White House report did not cite China by name, many see the Asian giant as the main threat. A study released this week by a private security firm accused the Chinese military of orchestrating numerous cyber attacks against U.S. businesses, a charge Beijing has denied.
The Obama administration said its strategy aims to counter what Holder called "a significant and steadily increasing threat to America's economy and national security interests."
"As new technology has torn down traditional barriers to international business and global commerce, they also make it easier for criminals to steal secrets and to do so from anywhere, anywhere in the world," Holder said.
Last week, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said U.S. companies suffered estimated losses in 2012 of more than $300 billion due to theft of trade secrets, a large share due to Chinese cyber espionage.
The White House report listed 17 cases of trade-secret theft by Chinese companies or individuals since 2010, far more than any other country mentioned in the report.
U.S. corporate victims of trade-secret theft have included General Motors, Ford, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Motorola, Boeing and Cargill. A target company can see the payoff from research investment evaporate as a result of corporate espionage and lose market position, competitive advantage and efficiencies.
"We have repeatedly raised our concerns about trade-secret theft by any means at the highest levels with senior Chinese officials and we will continue to do so," said Robert Hormats, an undersecretary of state.
Those cases cited mostly involved employees stealing trade secrets on the job rather than cyber attacks.
Victoria Espinel, the White House intellectual property rights enforcement coordinator, said the effort aims to protect the innovation that drives the U.S. economy and job creation.
Mixed response
Cyber-security and intelligence experts welcomed the White House plan as a first step, but some said much more needed to be done.
"You've got a nation-state taking on private corporations," said former CIA Director Michael Hayden. "That's kind of unprecedented. We have not approached resolution with this at all."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business lobby, offered a lukewarm statement of support, while other industry groups expressed more enthusiasm for the effort.
"We strongly endorse and applaud the administration's focus on curbing theft of trade secrets, which poses a serious and growing threat to the software industry around the world," said Business Software Alliance President and CEO Robert Holleyman.
The report that laid out the strategy repeated a 2011 White House recommendation that the maximum sentence for economic espionage be increased to at least 20 years, from 15 currently.
Another part of the solution is promoting a set of "best practices" that companies can use to protect themselves against cyber attacks and other espionage, Espinel said.
The report also said the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation was "expanding its efforts to fight computer intrusions that involve the theft of trade secrets by individual, corporate and nation-state cyber hackers."
In an interview, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the problem of trade-secret theft in China was a factor in the decisions of some U.S. companies to move operations back to the United States.
The companies have "had very frank conversations with the Chinese, (saying) 'You know it's one thing to accept a certain level of copyright knock-offs, but if you're going to take our core technology, then we're better off being in our home country,'" Kirk told Reuters.

© Thomson Reuters 2013

NASA Mars rover ready to eat, analyze rock powder


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, dispatched to learn if the planet ever had ingredients for life, drilled its first bit of powder from inside a potentially water-formed ancient rock, scientists said on Wednesday.
The robotic geology station, which landed inside a giant impact basin on August 6 for a two-year mission, transferred about a tablespoon of rock powder from its drill into a scoop, pictures relayed by the rover Wednesday showed.
"We're all very happy to get this confirmation and relieved that the drilling was a complete success," Curiosity engineer Scott McCloskey of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told reporters on a conference call.
On February 8, the rover used its powerful drill, the first instrument of its type to be sent to Mars, to bore inside a flat, veined piece of bedrock, which appears to contain minerals formed by flowing water.
The sample, retrieved from at least 2 inches (5 cm) beneath the surface of the rock, will be sieved and portions of it processed inside two onboard science instruments.
The gray powder is strikingly different than the ubiquitous red dust that covers the planet's surface, a result of oxidation from solar ultraviolet radiation.
"Having a rock-drilling capability on a rover is a significant advancement," said Louise Jandura, chief engineer for Curiosity's sample system.
"It allows us to go beyond the surface layer of the rock, unlocking a kind of time capsule of evidence about the state of Mars going back 3 or 4 billion years," Jandura told reporters.
The drill is the last of Curiosity's 10 science instruments to be tested since the rover landed inside Gale Crater, located near the planet's equator.
The site was selected because of a three-mile (5-km) high mound of what appears to be layered sediments rising from the crater's floor.
Rather than driving directly over to the mountain, scientists decided to explore an area in the opposite direction that showed intriguing signs of past water.
Water is believed to be a key ingredient for life.
"The rocks in this area have a really rich geologic history and they have the potential to give us information about multiple interactions of water and rock," said Curiosity scientist Joel Hurowitz, also with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The fine-grained rocks are filled with veins and spherical deposits, including what appears to be calcium sulfate, a mineral which forms on Earth when water flows through fractures in rock. Mars is the planet in our solar system most like Earth.
"When you find exactly these sorts of conditions on Earth ... and everything still goes right, it's still an accident of fate to preserve organics," Curiosity's lead scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena told Reuters.
"So we'll have to separate at some point the pursuit of what may have been a habitable environment from what may or may not be an environment that preserves organics," he said.
"Obviously we're interested in the organics but right now we're sort of on the pathway to hopefully characterizing this place as a habitable environment," Grotzinger said.
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Foxconn freezes hiring at largest plant


Apple Inc's manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group has frozen hiring at a Shenzhen plant that makes gadgets including the iPhone 5 and put the brakes on recruiting for other factories across China, but said the move was not linked to any single client.
Foxconn runs a network of factories across the world's No. 2 economy that make products for tech companies from Hewlett Packard to Dell. It sought to pour cold water on a Financial Times report that it had imposed a hiring freeze while it slows production of Apple's latest smartphone.
"Due to an unprecedented rate of return of employees following the Chinese New Year holiday compared to years past, our company has decided to temporarily slow down our recruitment process," the company said in a statement.
"This action is not related to any single customer and any speculation to the contrary is false and inaccurate."
Like other Chinese contract manufacturers, Foxconn, the trading name of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, relies on a large number of migrant labourers from across the country who journey home for the most important holiday of the year. Many do not make it back to work, but Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo said this year they saw as many as 97 percent of employees return.
A Foxconn recruitment centre in an industrial suburb of Shenzhen, where job-seekers register their names and mobile numbers, was closed on Thursday.
"I've waited here four days now and I've spent a lot," said Yang Jun, a hopeful migrant from Shanxi province, in northern China. "I'm not sure how long I can hold out. If they don't contact me soon I'll have to leave."
Apple sold a less-than-expected 47.8 million iPhones in the 2012 holiday quarter, fanning fears that its dominance of consumer electronics is on the decline as Samsung Electronics Co and other manufacturers that use Google Inc's Android software gradually gain market share.
The iPhone is Apple's most important product, accounting for half its revenue. The company's shares slipped almost 2 pct on Wednesday to $451, and are down about 34 percent from their September peak above $700, as investors fret about sliding margins and intensifying competition.
Implications for Apple
Apple watchers often take cues from its component suppliers and manufacturing partners. In January, CEO Tim Cook took the unusual step of warning investors that it is difficult to extrapolate from limited "data points".
RBC estimates that just 70 to 80 percent of Chinese workers return to factories it tracks.
"This year we believe the return rates have been closer to 90 percent, which may minimize the need to hire," RBC analyst Amit Daryanani wrote in a Wednesday research note.
"Given the timing of the freeze, it may have more to do with higher return rates of employees versus what was expected by Foxconn and other supply chain companies."
Foxconn's latest statement contradicts another Foxconn spokesman, Liu Kun, who is cited in the newspaper on Wednesday as saying, "Currently, none of the plants in mainland China have hiring plans."
A check on Foxconn's recruitment website on Wednesday showed the company's Taiyuan and Hangzhou plants were hiring. But its factory complex in the southern city of Shenzhen is its single largest production base.
The Shenzhen plant "is not hiring at the moment because workers' return rate after Chinese New Year is very high this year, reaching 97 pct", Woo said.
"We replenish each year depending on the return rate." 
© Thomson Reuters 2013

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Micromax Funbook P600 with voice calling, Android 4.0 now available for Rs. 9,499


Micromax is all set to launch a brand new tablet in the Indian market. This tablet is dubbed Micromax Funbook P600 and is already retailing on the deal site for Rs. 9,499.Micromax Funbook P600 sports a 7-inch capacitive multi-point touch screen. It is powered by Qualcomm MSM8225A ARM Cortex A5 1GHz dual-core processor along with 512 MB of RAM. The table comes with 2GB of internal storage (of which 0.96GB is user accessible) and can be expanded to up to 32GB through microSD card. Micromax Funbook P600 runs on Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system and it supports voice calling.
For camera, there is a 2-megapixel shooter in the front and back of the device. There is no mention on the battery that is in this device but the company claims, that it will give a talk-time of 10 hours, video playback time of 4 hours and standby time of 224 hours. Connectivity options include 3.5mm audio jack, 3G and Wi-Fi. Micromax Funbook P600 does not support Bluetooth connectivity.
The dimensions of this table are 119.5x193.5x11.5 and it weighs 370 grams.
Micromax had introduced the first tablet in April 2012 in the form of Funbook. It is a 7-inch tablet that has a display of 800X480 pixels. It comes with a 2800 mAh battery and runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Micromax Funbook is powered by 1.2 GHz processor with 512 MB of RAM.
Micromax is also offering a 10-inch Micromax Funbook Pro tablet. It has a display resolution of 1024X600 pixels and 8GB of internal memory, which can be expanded up to 32 GB. There is also a VGA front camera on board. It is a Wi-Fi only tablet that runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Key specs of Micromax Funbook P600
  • 7-inch capacitive multi-point touch screen
  • 1GHz dual-core processor
  • 2-megapixel rear and front camera
  • 2GB internal storage, expandable to up to 32 GB
  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 119.5x193.5x11.5
  • 370 grams

Supercomputers to keep age-related ailments at bay


Supercomputers are helping tweak antioxidants to stave off age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's, shows a study.The research team, led by Leo Radom and Amir Karton from the Universities of Sydney and Western Australia, respectively, has used sophisticated quantum chemistry and supercomputers to design more powerful antioxidants.
Antioxidants work by scavenging free radicals and other oxidative species, preventing them from damaging the body's tissues and organs, the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Nature Chemistry reports.
"The supercomputer modelling allows us to probe deeply into the molecular structure and helps us to understand just why carnosine (found in meat, fish and eggs) is such an effective antioxidant. Armed with this understanding, we are then able to design even better antioxidants," said Radom, according to a Sydney and Western Australia statement.
The research team, working alongside Michael Davies, and David Pattison from the Heart Research Institute, investigated carnosine's effectiveness in scavenging the oxidant, hypochlorous acid.
Hypochlorous acid benefit the body when it is used as part of our immune system to fight off invading pathogens. However, in excessive levels it has been linked to the development of heart disease.
"While most people consume wine, berries and chocolate for an antioxidant boost, we turned on our computers! We were able to use supercomputers to improve the power of natural antioxidants and this may provide future benefit to the health industry," said Karton.

US security firm alleges massive hacking by Chinese military unit


Cyberattacks that stole information from 141 targets in the U.S. and other countries have been traced to a Chinese military unit in a drab office building in the outskirts of Shanghai, a U.S. security firm alleged Tuesday. China dismissed the report as `'groundless."

The report by the Virginia-based Mandiant Corp. is the most explicit suggestion yet by a Western security company that China's military might be directly linked to a wave of cyberspying against U.S. and other foreign companies and government agencies.

Mandiant said it has traced the massive amount of hacking back to a 12-story office building run by "Unit 61398" of the People's Liberation Army, and that the attacks targeted key industries including military contractors and companies that control energy grids.

The unit "has systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations," Mandiant wrote.

"From our observations, it is one of the most prolific cyberespionage groups in terms of the sheer quantity of information stolen," the company said, adding that the unit has been in operation since at least 2006.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not directly address the claims, but when questioned on the report Tuesday, he said he doubted the evidence would withstand scrutiny.

"To make groundless accusations based on some rough material is neither responsible nor professional," Hong told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.

In a reiteration of China's standard response to such accusations, Hong said China strictly outlaws hacking and said the country itself was a major victim of such crimes, including attacks originating in the United States.

"As of now, the cyberattacks and cybercrimes China has suffered are rising rapidly every year," Hong said.

China has frequently been accused of hacking, but the Mandiant report contains some of the most extensive and detailed accusations made public so far. The group said its findings led it to alter the conclusion of its earlier 2010 report on Chinese hacking, in which it said it was not possible to determine the extent of government knowledge of such activities.

"The details we have analyzed during hundreds of investigations convince us that the groups conducting these activities are based primarily in China and that the Chinese government is aware of them," the company said in a summary of its latest report.

It said the hacking was traced to the 2nd Bureau of the People's Liberation Army General Staff's 3rd Department, most commonly known as unit 61398, in the Shanghai suburbs.

China's Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to faxed questions about the report, although it has in the past labeled such allegations as groundless and irresponsible, and has demanded that evidence be presented.

News of the report spread Tuesday on the Chinese Internet, with many commentators calling it an excuse for the U.S. to impose greater restrictions to contain China's growing technological prowess.

Apple TV listed on Apple India website for Rs. 7,900


Apple looks to be getting ready to launch Apple TV in India, as the streaming media player has found its way to the official Apple India website. The listing quotes the price of the device as Rs 7,900. It was first spotted by BGR India. However, Apple has not issued a formal press statement. We also contacted an Apple premium reseller to check availability but they were not aware of the launch.

Apple TV is a media streamer that lets users play content from popular services like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu Plus, as well as some other services like Vimeo. It also offers access to Apple's iTunes Store, through which users can purchase or rent movies, or buy music. Following the launch of the iTunes Store in India, Apple TV had started offering Indian content. Apple TV also have access to content shared on the local network via iTunes Home Sharing.

One of the major highlights of the Apple TV is support for Airplay which allows users to stream content wirelessly (over Wi-Fi) from any iOS device or iTunes (Mac as well as Windows) to the Apple TV. It can also be used to wirelessly mirror the display of iOS devices as well as Macs.

appletvlisting.jpgApple TV supports up to 1080 pixel resolution, and features an HDMI port, a micro-USB port, Ethernet port, a built-in IR receiver (for the remote) and supports WiFi connectivity. The device is powered by an Apple A5 processor, and comes with 512MB RAM and 8GB NAND Flash memory for caching content.

Apple TV will compete with cheaper offerings from Western Digital and a host of other cheaper Android and custom-OS based media players/ streamers. While these media players are great for playing content you may have acquired from 'other' sources, Apple TV has seamless iTunes Store integration going in its favour.

HTC One aka HTC M7 Black and White press renders leak


With just a day to go for HTC's simultaneous events in New York and London, a press render of the the company's unofficial HTC One (M7) has been revealed in a Black/Grey variant, courtesy @evleaks.

Unwired View reports that apart from the new colour there is no additional information, except that the location in the widget reads as New York as opposed to London, which was seen earlier in theSilver/White variant of the smartphone.

Twitter user @evleaks also posted another image on the microblogging site, with both the Black and White variants placed next to each other, giving users a better idea of the device's design.

The image reveals the same thin bezel and two capacitive touch buttons, Back and Home, instead of the usual three or even four buttons that are found on typical Android phones, identical speaker grills on the top and bottom with the top also having two noise-cancellation microphones on the left and the front-facing camera on the right with curved corners in an all metal body.

Last week @evleaks tweeted that the "HTC M7 (is) coming to market as simply the HTC One". The device was recently spotted on the banner ads, which clearly read "HTC One" and were placed in the Champions League football match between Celtic of Scotland and Juventus of Italy.

The device is also being teased in a couple of flashes on the company's official website running in the backdrop of a countdown timer ticking towards the event.

Previous specs rumours suggest that HTC One may come with 4.7-inch full-HD display, making it an incredible 468ppi. Other alleged specs include a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and a 2-megapixel one in the front. It likely runs on Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) along with the latest version of Sense 5.0 UI. The smartphone is also expected to come with a 4.3 ultrapixel rear camera.

Murmurs on availability and pricing details suggest that the device will be available in UK from March 8 and make its way to the  United States on March 22, 2013.

Further reports indicate that the 32GB version of the HTC One will be available through major telecom operators such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint for $199.99 with a two year contract, while the 64GB version which will cost $299.99 with a two year contract. There is no information regarding the device's availability in Asia.

Speculations doing the rounds hint at two more smartphones likely to be introduced by the Taiwanese manufacturer. The HTC M4 and G2 devices could either be announced at the said events or may debut at the Mobile World Congress 2013 next week.