MediaFile

Tech wrap: New Apple iMacs built for speed

Apple refreshed its lineup of iMac computers with new Intel processors that it says are up to 70 percent faster and with USB-like ports that are up to 20 times as fast. Thunderbolt ports support displays and devices. The new iMacs also feature a new HD Web camera. Apple said the iMacs are on sale online and at its retail stores starting at $1,199.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer faced harsh criticism of his leadership after the company revealed hackers may have stolen the data of another 25 million accounts in a second massive security breach. The breach of the Sony Online Entertainment PC games network may also have led to the theft of 10,700 direct debit records from customers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain and 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers, Sony said. Investors said Sony and Stringer had botched the data security crisis. “The way Sony handled the whole thing goes to show that it lacks the ability to manage crises,” Michael On of Beyond Asset Management in Taipei said.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that RIM will use Microsoft’s Bing search engine and maps as default options on its new BlackBerry devices. RIM’s move, coupled with its close partnership with Adobe Systems, sketches out a strategy of cooperation in a mobile market now dominated by Apple and Google. The strategy illustrates that the mobile market is entering a new phase that focuses on feature consolidation and “co-opetition,” writes GigaOM’s Kevin Tofel. The old strategy, which lasted from 2007 until recently, focused on new platforms, user interfaces and the emergence of the mobile app economy, Tofel adds.

Google is violating the spirit of the open access it bid $4.6 billion to protect by making tethering apps unavailable at its Android Market, writes Chris Ziegler. DroidLife’s Kellex wrote last week that tethering apps were unavailable for all of his phones running on AT&T’s network. Engadget yesterday found no tethering apps available on the Android Market for phone networks running on AT&T and T-Mobile and only one on Verizon. Tethering apps make it easier for users to circumvent the official tethering capabilities offered on smartphones that carry a plan surcharge.

Twitter made an offer to acquire TweetDeck, the popular third-party software application for Twitter and other social networking services, for up to $50 million, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The deal would give Twitter an application that has won praise among sophisticated users for its slick interface and enhanced capabilities, while closing out a potential threat to Twitter’s fast-growing service.

Tech wrap: How bold is the new BlackBerry?

RIM showed off a new version of its BlackBerry Bold phone with upgraded software, aiming to regain its stride after last week’s profit warning and other recent stumbles. RIM also said it will manage corporate and government communications sent using Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and devices running Google’s Android software, through its secure BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

The BlackBerry Bold Touch, the model most geared toward the business market, has a 2.8-inch screen and retains the company’s trademark physical qwerty keyboard with a 1.2 GHz processor. It will ship with a near-field communication (NFC) chip, allowing the phone to be used as a mobile wallet, executives said at the annual BlackBerry World conference in Orlando. The Bold Touch running on Blackberry OS 7 will be released sometime this summer. The new OS won’t be supported on older devices, the company said.

Sohaib Athar, a resident of Abbottabad, the Pakistani city where Osama bin Laden was holed up in a fortified mansion, “liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it”, setting off a firestorm of activity on Twitter.

Tech wrap: RIM shares dive ahead of BlackBerry World

RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/RIM/Handout

Research in Motion shares tanked to their lowest level since October after the BlackBerry maker slashed its sales and earnings forecasts Thursday, an unexpected blow that followed an anemic forecast in late March and last week’s troubled launch of its PlayBook tablet. “We’ve heard for too long about RIM’s great product roadmap. Consumers are not listening nor waiting,” National Bank analysts said in a note. “RIM does not even seem to have dual cameras on its upcoming BlackBerry product line-up. The last time we checked, video is the future.” All hope seems to rest on what the Canadian company pulls out of its labs and onto center stage at BlackBerry World, starting Monday, where the company will unveil a new generation of touchscreen BlackBerrys.

Microsoft shares fell their most in almost two years, a day after reporting a dip in Windows sales. Investors were concerned with lower personal computer sales nagging at Windows, Xbox sales bringing down profit margins and losses in Microsoft’s online business.

Strong demand for smartphones gave a further boost to overall cellphone market volumes in January-March and made Apple a rare winner on the market, research firms said. IDC saw January-March market growth of 20 percent, helped also by strong gains by smaller vendors as the three largest phone makers — Nokia, Samsung and LG — lost market share. Apple’s iPhone sales more than doubled from a year ago, buoyed by strong sales on Verizon Wireless and additional carrier deals elsewhere, with market share rising to 5 percent.

Tech wrap: Q1 earnings beat expectations, RIM’s PlayBook – not so much

A video wall displays Intel's logos at the unveiling of its second generation Intel Core processor family during a news conference at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 5, 2011. REUTERS/Rick WilkingIntel forecast quarterly revenues well above Wall Street’s estimates despite a hiccup in sales of its Sandy Bridge processors after the discovery of a chipset design flaw and defying fears the world’s top chip maker is struggling to find its footing as personal computer sales growth wanes.

IBM raised its profit forecast as the tech giant released quarterly earnings ahead of Wall Street projections, citing strong sales of its mainframe computers and brisk business in emerging markets.

Yahoo posted quarterly earnings that topped Wall Street targets amid threats to the No. 1 provider of online display ads in the U.S. from Facebook and continuing pressure from search leader Google.

Low key PlayBook launch day

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Research In Motion’s much vaunted PlayBook tablet got off to a quiet start in North America on Tuesday.

After leaving an empty Staples midtown Manhattan store at about 7:15 AM, we hit the nearby Office Depot. It had no customers looking for the device.  In fact, it was hard to tell Office Depot was even selling PlayBook at all until a store employee directed us to the basement.

It took  a while to find the PlayBook display among the other office supplies.

Once we found it, the display itself wasn’t very impressive, just a basic promotional sign. In fact, the store said that RIM had yet to send it a demo unit.

Tech wrap: Ripe BlackBerry not sweet enough

A man looks at a BlackBerry product display in a shop at a mobile and computer shopping complex in northern Tehran January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi Research In Motion’s quarterly net profit jumped 32 percent, boosted by strong global BlackBerry smartphone sales. But a weaker-than-expected outlook as it spent heavily on the launch of its PlayBook tablet next month, sent RIM’s shares tumbling after the bell.

Facebook is testing a real-time ad targeting system that relates your user profile to words that you form as you type them, according to AdAge’s Irina Slutsky. For example, “users who update their status with ‘Mmm, I could go for some pizza tonight’, could get an ad or a coupon from Domino’s, Papa John’s or Pizza Hut”, she writes.

The hungry masses are gobbling up Apple’s iPads mainly because of the approachable touchscreen interface, writes Wired’s Brian X. Chen. Web browsing topped the responses to a casual poll by Wired asking “What do you do with your iPad?”, matching the result of a study by NPD Group last year, Chen adds. Reading and social networking followed browsing in the Wired poll. A minority used the iPad for special purposes such as recording music, writing poetry and teaching in class from book notes.

Tech wrap: Nokia starts work on Windows phone

A girl tests out the new Nokia N8 mobile phone at the Nokia Flagship store in Helsinki September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Markku Ulander/LehtikuvaWork has begun on the first Nokia smartphones based on Microsoft software following the partnership announced by the companies last month, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told Reuters.

RIM is battling wireless carriers over control of where key data related to mobile payments will reside in upcoming BlackBerry devices equipped with near field communication (NFC) technology, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Phred Dvorak and Stuart Weinberg.

A letter that had prompted Mark Hurd’s abrupt exit as chief of Hewlett-Packard Co was ordered unsealed by a Delaware judge, potentially revealing more details of his dramatic exit last year.

Will Blackberry “Torch” catch fire?

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The makers of the Blackberry, Research In Motion, unveiled a new version of the smartphone with a touchscreen and slideout keyboard, which is aimed squarely at the iPhone. It runs on AT&T’s network and is called “Torch” –but will it catch fire in world of popular consumer gadgets?

The event occurred as attendees and analysts also wondered how Research in Motion would respond to questions about the security of its messaging system.

Check out the live blog that we conducted during the Blackberry event — with a little help from our friends using  Twitter — with lots of opinions and fact about the new product.

Friday’s Media and Technology Roundup

Fans scramble for Apple’s iPhone upgrade-Reuters

“Apple fans lined up overnight by the hundreds outside stores in the United States, Europe and Japan to snap up the latest iPhone, setting a new benchmark in the fast-growing smartphone market,” writes Franklin Paul, Marie Mawad and Sachi Izumi.

Twitter settles privacy charges with U.S.-Reuters

“Microblogging service Twitter has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over charges it put its customers privacy at risk by failing to safeguard their personal information,” reports Sinead Carew.

Broadband spurs new businesses and ideas in Kenya-Reuters

“When Kenyan graduate Roy Wachira, 25, set out to start his first business, he turned to the Internet, whose growth in the east African nation is spawning opportunities unthinkable even a year ago,” writes Duncan Miriri.

Microsoft’s Kin tries to improve your social life (video)

kinMicrosoft officially entered the feature-phone wars on Monday, unveiling its new Kin device at a media event in San Francisco.

It’s tough to stand out in the exploding phone space these days; just keeping all the new gadgets straight takes some work. Device makers are increasingly targeting specific slices, such as gamers or video lovers.

Microsoft made it clear who its target demographic is. BlackBerry can have the middle-aged businessman and road warrior, and Apple’s iPhone can have the trendy folks who can’t do without their 175,000 apps.