MediaFile

Tech wrap: iPhone 5 coming to Sprint in mid-October?

Loyal Sprint customers keen to finally hop on the iPhone bandwagon could be in luck come this fall. The third-largest U.S. wireless carrier will begin offering the iPhone 5 to customers in mid-October, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources. It will be the first version of the popular Apple smartphone to be sold by the company. AT&T and Verizon, already iPhone vedors, will also start selling the new model around the same time, according to the story.

In other iPhone news, Reuters correspondents Kelvin Soh and Clare Jim report that Apple is planning a cheaper version of its current iPhone 4 model to offer to the masses in developing markets such as China as it seeks to gain lower-end customers from rivals such as Nokia. Apple’s Asian suppliers have already begun production of a new lower-cost version of the handset that will come with a smaller, 8-GB flash drive, as opposed to the the 16-GB and 32-GB versions that were released in June 2010, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. So, just how much cheaper will the discount version be? That’s not entirely clear yet, but Yuanta Securities analyst Bonnie Chang had this to say: “Apple may want to push into the emerging market segment, where customers want to switch to low- to mid-end smartphones from high-end feature phones, which usually cost $150 to $200.”

Facebook unveiled a far-reaching overhaul to its privacy controls on Tuesday that will make it easier for users to control who sees their information and what pictures they are tagged in on the social network. Under the new changes, Facebook users will have the option of modifying and changing their privacy settings each time they post something instead being required to browse through to separate sections of the site.

The response from privacy groups so far has been generally positive. “This is a significant step forward in Facebook privacy for users of all ages,” Connect Safety told Mashable. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also seemed to welcome the changes. “We have been asking Facebook for granular controls over privacy setting for some time now, and are pleased that Facebook is now providing inline controls. We also appreciate the introduction of greater control over tagging,” the group told the site.

Beware Android users: the number of malware targeted at devices powered by Google’s mobile platform jumped 76 percent since last quarter, according to U.S. computer security software maker McAfee. That makes Android the most attacked mobile operating system.

Tech wrap: HP investors running for cover

Shares of Hewlett-Packard slumped by more than 20 percent to a six-year low on Friday as investors wiped about $16 billion off the market value of the world’s biggest PC maker in a resounding rejection of its plan for a major shake-up.

Blog Zero Hedge posted an article by Tyler Durden, titled “Here Is Who Is Getting Creamed On Today’s Hewlett Packard Bloodbath“, that includes a chart of the the top 40 holders of HPQ stock.

Reuters blogger Felix Salmon credits Durden with breaking the “real” news yesterday about HP, after Bloomberg broke the M&A news of the IT firm’s internal shakeup and it’s $10 billion acquisition of UK company Autonomy. Salmon on the scoop: “…looks like an attempt by HP to manage media coverage and to distract attention from its dreadful earnings guidance.”

Tech wrap: Companies continue patent buys

Tech giants continued attempts to shore up their patent portfolios continued on Wednesday, with InterDigital being targeted by Apple, Nokia and Qualcomm.

Bidders have been eager to get their hands on InterDigital”s 8,800 patents — including crucial 3G and 4G/LTE patents to strengthen operating software for smartphones.

Key potential bidder Google, who earlier this week acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, has not formally withdrawn from the auction but it is unclear whether they will bid for the company.

Tech wrap: Apple involved in legal battles

Samsung can sell its latest iPad rival in most of Europe again after a German court lifted most of an injunction it had imposed at Apple’s request.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab line of tablet computers has taken the market by storm and is considered the most credible alternative to the iPad, selling about 30 million since its launch a year and a half ago.

In other legal news, the shoe is on the other foot for Apple as smartphone maker HTC has sued the tech giant, seeking to halt U.S. imports and sales of Macintosh computers, iPads, iPods, iPhones and other devices because of alleged patent infringements.

Tech wrap: Google targets Apple with Motorola buy

Setting its sights on rival Apple, Google announced its biggest deal ever, a $12.5 billion cash acquisition of mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility.

Google’s biggest foray into hardware comes weeks after a failed attempt to buy patents from bankrupt Nortel, and gives it an intellectual property library in wireless telephony to wage war on Apple and Microsoft.

However, analysts agreed that that buy was more about the patents and less about the hardware.

Tech wrap: Clash of tech titans looming?

Apple Inc’s increasingly effective patent war against rivals like Samsung Electronics may mask its real target: arch-foe Google Inc. Poornima Gupta writes: “Recent success in blocking sales of Samsung’s latest Galaxy tablet in most of Europe and Apple’s challenges to the Korean giant in Australia reflect an aggressive effort to defend its top position in the red-hot mobile market from the runaway success of Android.”

AOL said on Thursday it would buy back $250 million of its stock, a move presumably intended to boost confidence in the shares, which fell 32 percent in two days. AOL has been in a turnaround mode since it was spun off from Time Warner in December 2009 after one of the most disastrous mergers in recent times.

Zynga, which has filed for an initial public offering of up to $1 billion, revealed it draws fewer paid players than expected in a regulatory filing on Thursday.

Tech wrap: Cisco beats “low bar”

Cisco Systems Inc’s quarterly results edged past Wall Street’s scaled-back expectations as IT spending held up despite fears of a severe pullback, buoying its shares in extended trading. The world’s largest networking equipment maker reported sales of $11.2 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter, surpassing expectations for under $11 billion.

“They beat a low bar. A lot of it is coming from cost cutting, which we anticipated. In that sense it’s a relief,” Joanna Makris of Mizuho Securities USA told Reuters.

Groupon Inc’s plans for an initial public offering have been dented by the stock market slump and new financial disclosures that suggest the daily deal company’s business is slowing in North America, analysts said on Wednesday.

Tech wrap: Biggest series of cyber attacks exposed

Security company McAfee uncovered the biggest-ever series of attacks on the networks of 72 organizations including the U.N., governments and companies around the world and claimed there was one “state actor” behind them but declined to name it. One security expert who has been briefed on the hacking said the evidence points to China.

Some of the victims in the five-year campaign include the governments of the U.S. and Canada; the International Olympic Committee; the World Anti-Doping Agency; and various companies, from defense contractors to high-tech enterprises.

RIM unveiled two new versions of its touchscreen BlackBerry Torch, including an all-touch model. The three touchscreen phones, running on the new BlackBerry OS 7, boast improved screen displays and pack a 1.2 GHz processor from Qualcomm, the most powerful ever for a BlackBerry phone. They also have a dedicated graphics processor that should make video and gaming sharper and more responsive. The browser is 40 percent faster than the original Torch, RIM’s last major phone launch, which hit shelves almost a year ago. All three devices will be launched by carriers around the world by the end of August, RIM said. The slider Torch will be exclusive to AT&T in the United States, the carrier said.

The Apple of Grand Central’s eye

The Big Apple is getting another … big apple. 

Just what Grand Central needs: more people. And it’s a sure thing that there will be many, many more people making their way through the main concourse when an Apple store opens up in a place that is already synonymous with large, bustling crowds.

A 23,000 square feet Apple store in Grand Central on the mezzanine level, which is currently occupied by a restaurant, would be the company’s fifth in New York City. Apple has opened more than 300 retail locations since it launched its first one in Virginia a decade ago.

Apple’s decision to open stores was distinctly against the tide by going all bricks and mortar as the world was beating a path to the virtual door of such e-tailers as Amazon.com. It was especially gutsy, too, as it came during the early stages of the dotcom bust and before Apple had become a mainstream high-tech company. This was months before the iPod was released, when Apple was still a niche player with a respectably large fan base but no clear way to capture the hearts and minds of the 97% or thereabouts general public which lived the Windows universe.

Tech wrap: ITC joins Apple-Samsung spat

The International Trade Commission agreed to investigate Apple’s complaint that mobile phones and tablets made by rival Samsung violate its technology intellectual property. The intensifying patent dispute threatens to strain a lucrative supply relationship: Apple in 2010 was Samsung’s second-largest customer, accounting for $5.7 billion of sales tied mainly to semiconductors, according to the Asian consumer electronics company’s annual report.

Google faces a total of nine antitrust complaints which EU regulators are now investigating, two sources said. Up to now, The European Commission has only confirmed four cases against Google. The increased number of complaints underscores Google’s dominant position but does not necessarily mean bad news for the company, said Simon Holmes, head of EU and competition law at law firm SJ Berwin.

“Google’s strong position means there are lots of interests involved. But there is nothing wrong per se in having a strong position,” he said.