MediaFile

Tech wrap: HP’s TouchPad sell-off

Hewlett-Packard has finally discovered the magic price point for its TouchPad tablet: $99. The tech giant announced the new low price for the 16 GB model of the recently discontinued device over the weekend, also dropping the price for its 32 GB version to $149. Retailers such as Best Buy, Staples and Walmart followed HP’s lead by offering TouchPad fire sales of their own.

The response: overwhelming. According to PC World, many retailers had sold out of the devices by mid-day on Saturday. By Monday morning, the TouchPad had climbed to the No.1 spot on the Amazon best-seller list for electronics. Expect the selling frenzy to continue this week: HP said on Monday it intends to deliver more of the tablets until the supply runs out. HP originally launched the smaller model with a $500 price tag, but reduced it to $400 soon after its July 1 release in an attempt to spur demand.

Separately, HP launched a new desktop on Monday, days after the technology company revealed that it might spin off the world’s largest PC business — part of a wrenching series of moves away from the consumer market, including killing the TouchPad. HP billed the new computer — the HP Compaq 8200 Elite All-in-One Business Desktop — as the “first all-in-one PC” aimed at corporate and public sector customers.

Is the patent arms race over in the mobile phone sector now that Google has announced it’s buying Motorola Mobility Holdings? Reuters correspondents Poornima Gupta and Bill Rigby take a closer look in a new analysis: “The bubble in mobile phone technology patent values may just have popped. Now that Google has agreed to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings — scooping up a trove of 17,000 phone-related patents to give itself some ground to defend its Android operating system — the most motivated buyer looks to be off the market.”

Skype is beefing up its mobile communications services. The Internet calling company said on Sunday it was buying GroupMe, a New York-based startup that lets people communicate in private groups over cellphones. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Tech wrap: Myspace sale saga nears end

An investor group involving Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is in final talks to take a controlling stake in News Corp’s social network site Myspace, according to a source familiar with the matter. Kotick’s involvement is personal and nothing to do with Activision at this stage, the source said.

News Corp, which paid $580 million for Myspace in 2005, had hoped to do a deal valuing Myspace at about $100 million, but sources said it was unlikely to achieve that target.

Major U.S. banks came under growing pressure from banking regulators to improve the security of customer account information after Citigroup became the latest high-profile victim of a large-scale cyber attack. While Citigroup insisted the breach had been limited, experts called it the largest direct attack on a major U.S. financial institution, and forecast it could drive momentum for a systemic overhaul of the banking industry’s data security measures.

Tech wrap: Blame game at HP

What is responsible for Hewlett-Packard’s bleak profit outlook? Ask CEO Leo Apotheker and he’ll blame it on “missed opportunities” in a troubled division under his predecessor Mark Hurd.

Apotheker, who took over in September, plans to spend heavily to revamp the beleaguered unit to focus on consulting, cloud computing and higher-margin businesses.

Dell reported profits that blew past Wall Street estimates and raised its fiscal 2012 outlook for operating income for fiscal 2012, sending shares in the No.2 PC maker up in after-hours trading.

Tech wrap: Android takes over

A T-Mobile G1 Google phone running Android is shown photographed in Encinitas, California January 20, 2010. REUTERS/Mike BlakeGrowing demand for phones running on Google’s Android platform will help the smartphone market grow in 2011, boosting companies like HTC and Samsung who are betting on the platform, analysts said.

The smartphone market will grow 58 percent this year and 35 percent the next, research firm Gartner said. Android, a distant No. 2 to Nokia’s Symbian platform just last year, will increase its market share to 39 percent in 2011, while Symbian’s share will roughly halve to 19 percent following Nokia’s decision to dump the platform. Apple’s iPhone platform will be slightly bigger than Symbian this year, while Research In Motion will control 13 percent of the market and Microsoft Windows Phone 6 percent.

Sales of cameraphones will grow to more than 1 billion handsets this year, helped by fast growth at the high end of the market, Strategy Analytics said.

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.

HP’s TouchPad: an Apple iPad killer?

The Palm TouchPad is shown on a screen during a media presentation at the Herbst Pavilion at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, February 9, 2011.REUTERS/Beck Deifenbach

HP unveiled its touchscreen entrant in the tablet race to try to steal momentum from Apple Inc’s popular iPad. The “TouchPad” will be available this summer — but there was no word, yet, on how much it will cost.

Here are some early impressions from the blogoshpere:

Engadget’s Darren Murph speculates that iPad users looking for something lighter will be disappointed by the TouchPad’s 1.6 pound-heft. While Sean Hollister’s first impression is that the TouchPad’s slim black profile highlights its brilliant screen.

Gizmodo’s Jason Chen thinks the TouchPad’s four different keyboard sizes are cool.

Palm Chief promises “hits” for HP

CES/

Six months after Hewlett-Packard announced it was buying smartphone pionners Palm  for $1 billion, technology watchers are still waiting to see just what emerges from the high-profile marriage.

Palm chief Jon Rubinstein still isn’t tipping his hand on any details around smartphones and tablets that are due next year from the new HP unit. But he certainly made no effort to manage expectations on Tuesday at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco.

“It’s absolutely a hits business…We have several products that will clearly be hits when they come out,” said Rubinstein, who predicted “tremendous growth” in devices based on webOS, the Palm platform that HP acquired when it bought the company this year for roughly $1 billion.

HP’s Slate tablet: The early reviews

Hewlett-Packard, at long last, has released the tablet computer first glimpsed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last January, and it is a decidedly different take than what we’ve seen so far in the tablet space. Basically a business netbook sans a keyboard. That’s a far cry from Apple’s iPad — and maybe that’s the point.

The initial reviews of the HP Slatslate2e 500 are starting to trickle in and they are something of a mixed bag. There is plenty to debate, to be sure. The device sports Windows 7, Wi-Fi but no 3G, and has no app store link-up. But it features a digital stylus pen, has a relatively fast processor and plenty of room for storage. And then there is the little matter of that hefty $799 price tag, which has surprised more than a few people, given that the iPad starts at $499.

HP is not even pretending to be targeting the same buyers as the iPad. And a more interesting HP vs Apple showdown is likely to come next year, when HP releases the webOS tablet that everyone is curious to get a peek at.

from Summit Notebook:

Intel, HP: TVs should get smarter

Intel, Sony and Google are expected to unveil on Thursday a "smart TV": an Internet-ready, super content machine that -- if the hype is to be believed -- will let viewers watch Celebrity Apprentice, tweet, and respond to emails at the same time. On Wednesday, Intel's sales and marketing chief -- while keeping his cards close to the vest -- couldn't resist a little plug for the general concept of Internet TVs.

"The smart TV category is going to take off.  It just makes all the sense in the world," Thomas Kilroy told the Reuters Global Technology Summit. "Why would you want to compromise when you've got a nice big screen, you're watching TV and you want to access information and keep that program on instead of bringing in another device. "

"It's our belief that there's going to be a fundmental shift that happens every 30 to 40 years or more...and it's about to happen with televisions," he added. "I actually remember the black and white days. I remember in my house when we went from black and white to color and my gosh, what an experience."

HP buys Palm — who cares?

HP’s deal to buy Palm underlines the keenness of PC vendors to jump into the booming smartphone game, but will likely have very little impact on the smartphone market. HP has agreed to pay $1.2 billion for loss-making Palm, best known in recent years as the investment target of U2 lead singer Bono. The firm only sold 2.4 million smartphones in the last 12-month period, giving it just over 1 percent of the market.

In the last few years all top PC vendors — including Acer, Lenovo and Dell — have rushed to the surging smartphone market hoping to boost profits. So far only Apple has succeeded, and it has taken over two years for it to build up global phone distribution.

Top smartphone vendors Nokia, RIM and Apple boast much higher profit margins than PC vendors. HP’s gross margin for its most recent quarter was 22.8 percent, just half Research in Motion’s 45.7 percent margin, while Apple’s was 41.7 percent.