Tech wrap: Apple’s “Siri” spurs iPhone 4S sales

October 17, 2011

Apple said it sold 4 million iPhone 4S devices in the new smartphone’s first three days on the market, setting up a strong December quarter for the world’s largest technology company. Helped by availability in more countries and on more telecommunications carrier networks, the iPhone 4S, which went on sale last Friday, managed to outshine the iPhone 4, which sold 1.7 million over its first three days. Unveiled just a day before Steve Jobs died, it was initially dubbed a disappointment, partly because it looked identical to its predecessor. But anticipation of its “Siri” voice software helped it set an online record in pre-orders on October 7.

Shares of RIM dropped 6.55 percent in the U.S., closing at $22.40, after the company sought to appease disgruntled BlackBerry customers by offering free apps and technical support to make up for last week’s global smartphone outage. RIM said it will offer premium apps worth more than $100 to customers and a month of technical support for businesses free of charge, hoping to stem fresh defections from the BlackBerry, whose market share was already shrinking before the incident. RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie declined to estimate how much the offer would cost RIM and said he was unable to say whether RIM might have to revise its earnings forecast for the current quarter, which ends in late November.

IBM’s third-quarter revenue met expectations as corporate spending on information technology held up in the face of economic worries, and the company bumped up its 2011 earnings outlook. Revenue rose 8 percent from a year earlier to $26.2 billion, in line with the average forecast of $26.26 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Samsung said that it had filed for sales bans on Apple’s iPhone 4S in Australia and Japan, escalating a legal battle with its arch-rival and biggest client. The move came after Samsung filed preliminary injunction motions against the latest iPhone in France and Italy less than a day after the device was unveiled, claiming the product infringed its patents. Samsung’s latest salvo came after the South Korean electronics giant suffered a series of setbacks in its ongoing legal battles with Apple.

The flash sales business has lost some of its flash, forcing online luxury clothing merchants to radically change their business models. Businesses such as Gilt Groupe, Ideeli and Rue La La burst onto the fashion scene during the recession to try to move a mountain of unsold clothes. Now there is less luxury inventory and flash sales sites are bigger. That has forced companies to pay more or find other ways to get their products. “Bad evoloution” in the flash sales business is also to blame for the gloomy outlook, said Mike Steib, CEO of vente-privee USA, a joint venture between Vente Privee and American Express, which is launching a flash sales site in the U.S.. “People are worried about the luxury buyer going down market.”

Amazon.com will publish 122 books and e-books this fall in an array of genres, bypassing the traditional publisher and making deals with authors, The New York Times’s David Streitfeld wrote. The acceleration of the retailer’s fledging publishing program will place Amazon squarely in competition with the New York houses that are also its most prominent suppliers, Streitfeld added.

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