MediaFile

Tech wrap: Steve Jobs is back, maybe

Apple’s Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who spent months on medical leave, will open an annual developers’ conference on June 6 showcasing the iPad maker’s latest computer software and a new cloud computing service. But it’s unclear if he’s returning from medical leave or simply kicking off the conference.

Jobs and his team plan to unveil a new cloud-based service called iCloud, which will offer remote computing and data over the Internet, and a slew of software upgrades at the conference including Lion, its Mac OS X computer operating system, and iOS 5, the next version of its mobile operating system.

Nokia abandoned hope of meeting key targets just weeks after setting them, raising questions over whether its new boss can deliver on the turnaround he promised in February.  The news sent its shares tumbling 18 percent to their lowest in 13 years, wiping some $5.5 billion off its market value. Investors are worried the company, once the leading force in its industry, is losing so much market share it may never regain its footing.

World Health Organization (WHO) cancer experts say using a cell phone may increase the risk of developing certain types of brain tumor and consumers should consider ways of reducing their exposure. A working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries meeting at the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) say a review of all the available scientific evidence suggested cell phone use should be classified as “possibly carcinogenic.” The WHO had previously said there was no established evidence for a link between cell phone use and cancer.

And for a sneak peak of the Cr-48 laptop, the first implementation of Google’s cloud-based Chrome operating system, give Steve Levy’s piece in Wired a read. Levy’s not quite sure we’re ready for a “cloud”-based future. See what you think.

RIM says phones will still trump netbooks

Amid a wave of hype about wireless gadgets like netbook computers and mobile internet devices, Research In Motion’s Co-CEO Jim Balsillie says he will keep focused on the BlackBerry maker’s core business of phones even as computer makers are starting to make phones and phone rival Nokia eyes netbooks.  

This means that Balsillie is focused on developing more new versions of each of BlackBerry phones: those shaped like candy-bars, with touch-screen controls and devices with mini-QWERTY keypads. 

“Form factor is a personal preference but it’s got to be something that lasts the better part of the day and you can hold up to your ear and clip onto your belt,” he said  in response to our question about his vision for future products. “Those are a very tight systems constraints for a netbook.” 

dellPhone a rumor at best – Michael Dell

The Web may be buzzing with stories about whether computer maker Dell should or shouldn’t get into the cell phone market, but the company itself  has tried to stay out of the public discussion. 
Michael Dell said on Friday that reports of Dell’s cell phone ambitions were “best described as a rumor” when chased by reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

The analysts had this to say about the computer maker doing battle with rivals such as Apple in the cut throad phone market as well as in computers. 

 Some were encouraging:

“This strategy makes a lot of sense. Smartphones are a big opportunity and in a way they’re canibalizing notebook and netbook sales to a degree,” said Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu. “It’s probably minor today but could become bigger over time as smartphones get more powerful. It’s better to go embrace the threat than doing nothing.”

Nokia: A $500,000 Exit to Brooklyn?

Hours after it issued its second warning in three weeks, forecast shrinking cell phone sales for 2009 and promised to reduce expenses, Nokia held an investor meeting in Brooklyn, New York. Most analyst meetings take place in Manhattan, and Chief Financial Officer Rick Simonson told the audience on Thursday that he’d been asked why the company chose the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.  Brooklynites are very accommodating, Simonson said — adding that Nokia saved money by moving the meeting from the heaving center that never sleeps.  Simonson didn’t give a figure, but JPMorgan said in a note that Nokia saved as much as $500,000 by simply making Wall Streeters cross to the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge.  It’s hardly enough to counter a 5 percent cut in cell phone sales volume next year and probably not even a fraction of the cost of putting Nokia’s latest multi-media phone, the N-97 on the market, but it is a good start. Maybe other conference organizations will take its cue, and this reporter will have a shorter commute more often.

(Photo:Reuters)

Phones to make the poor upwardly mobile

The “Business Call to Action,” hosted by the British prime minister, drew some 80 CEOs of the world’s biggest companies including Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Vodafone as well as top politicians to discuss how big business can stamp out global poverty.

The lure? Big profits. Ghana’s President John Kufuor said it will be easier for U.S. and European businesses to make their next million in Africa rather than anywhere else. The credit crunch has made a few more believe this might be true.

“Three billion of the world’s 6 billion people have mobile phones,” Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin said. “And three-quarters of the new customers are in the developing world. This is a huge opportunity.”