MediaFile

Tech wrap: Bargain hunting may hurt retailers

Broader bargain hunting driven by budgetary fears may depress overall holiday spending, mitigating any hefty gains retailers reaped from long lines of shoppers snaked around malls across the U.S.

While Black Friday has been the busiest day for years in terms of traffic at stores, it does not always mean that sales will soar for the season. Despite brisk sales right after Thanksgiving, total holiday season sales fell in both 2008 and 2009 when the recession took its hold on America’s wallets.

Shopper-related injuries were popular topics on social networks such as Twitter. A shopper at a Los Angeles-area Walmart used pepper spray on a throng of shoppers and there was a shooting in a Walmart parking lot in the Oakland area.

Apple is well ahead of rivals in building brand loyalty among its users in a mobile market where the key brands are rushing to build as large a foothold as possible, a study by research firm GfK showed. Some 84 percent of iPhone users said they would pick iPhone also when they replace their cellphone, while 60 percent of consumers who use smartphones running Google’s Android said they would stick with phones using the same software.

The Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement resumed “Operation In Our Sites”, seizing over 100 domain names in a bid to crack down on online piracy and counterfeiting, BitTorrent blog TorrentFreak writes.

Tech wrap: Modern Warfare 3 answers call to duty

Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ video game racked up more than $400 million in sales on its first day in stores in the U.S. and the UK, beating last year’s record of 5.6 million units, or $360 million in sales of “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” That game went on to sell $1 billion in less than two months.

Apple’s iOS 5.0.1 update did not address all of the battery issues troubling iPhone users, AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski writes. In a statement given to AllThingsD, Apple told the blog that “the recent iOS software update addressed many of the battery issues that some customers experienced on their iOS 5 devices…We continue to investigate a few remaining issues,” according to Paczkowski.

Regulators are investigating the safety of batteries used to power electric vehicles after a General Motors Chevrolet Volt caught fire following a routine crash test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it has asked other manufacturers who make electric cars or who plan to do so for information on how they handle lithium-ion batteries. The request also includes recommendations for minimizing fire risk. NHTSA said it does not believe the Volt and other electric vehicles are at greater risk for fire than gasoline-powered engines.

Tech wrap: U.S. spies Chinese and Russian cyber spies

China and Russia are using cyber espionage to steal U.S. trade and technology secrets to bolster their own economic development, which poses a threat to U.S. prosperity and security, a U.S. intelligence report titled “Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace,” said. Intelligence services, private companies, academic institutions and citizens of dozens of countries target the United States, the report said. But it only named China and Russia. “Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage,” the report said.

Online retailer Amazon.com added library to the  list of services it offers. Kindle tablet owners with the Prime membership can choose from thousands of books to borrow for free on a Kindle device, including more than 100 current and former New York Times bestsellers, as frequently as a book a month, the company said. Amazon will initially offer slightly more than 5,000 titles in the library, including more than 100 current and former national bestsellers, such as Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Eastman Kodak warned that it must raise $500 million in new debt or complete a multibillion dollar patent sale to survive the next 12 months. The photography company also posted dismal third-quarter results, with cash holdings down 10 percent from the second quarter, and it projected deeper losses this year as new printers and digital cameras failed to gain traction. Kodak hired investment bank Lazard in July to help it sell more than 1,100 digital imaging patents, which analysts have estimated could be worth as much as $2 billion to $3 billion.

Tech wrap: Samsung, Google scream for Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung and Google unveiled the first smartphone running on Google’s latest version of the Android operating system, dubbed “Ice Cream Sandwich”, which combines software used in tablets and smartphones, as they step up competition against Apple. The high-end model Galaxy Nexus was unveiled at an event in Hong Kong, after being delayed last week as a tribute to the late Steve Jobs.  “This will be our strategic product for year-end holiday season, as (Apple’s) iPhone 4S just came into the market,” Samsung’s JK Shin said.

The Galaxy Nexus features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, super AMOLED HD 4.65-inch display, face recognition to unlock its screen,the ability to share content by tapping another phones equipped with a Near Field Communication chip, a camera boasting no shutter lag, and even a barometer. The global launch kicks off in November.

Twitter is looking for a director to bolster its board’s business credentials and diversity, and candidates include a former Google executive, a person familiar with the matter said. The search is in its early stages. But some names that have come up include Mariam Naficy, chief executive officer of paper goods company Minted.com, and Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, chief executive officer at fashion retail site Joyus and the former president of Google’s Asia-Pacific and Latin American operations, the person told Reuters.

Tech wrap: Apple misses, Intel beats quarterly expectations

Apple reported a rare miss in quarterly revenue after sales of its flagship iPhone fell well short of Wall Street expectations. The September quarterly report was Apple’s first under new CEO Tim Cook, who took over in August after co-founder Steve Jobs resigned. The company reported a net profit of $6.62 billion, or $7.05 a share. That fell shy of expectations for earnings of $7.39 per share.

One analyst blamed lofty expectations for the miss. “The reality is their business is not an annuity. They have to sell their quarter’s worth of revenue every 90 days. They had a big upgrade cycle with the iPhone, the numbers came in weak. They need to set records every time they report to keep the momentum”, said Colin Gillis at BGC Partners.

Intel forecast quarterly revenue above expectations, defying concerns that the growing popularity of tablets and a shaky economy are eating into demand for personal computers. Intel said revenue in the current quarter would be $14.7 billion, plus or minus $500 million. Analysts on average had expected current-quarter revenue of $14.23 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Intel’s processors are used in 80 percent of the world’s PCs but the company has failed to gain traction in mobile gadgets like Apple’s iPad and Google’s Android smartphones. It also increasingly depends on China and other emerging markets to make up for weak sales in the U.S. and Europe.

Apple iPhone 4S: Believe the hype?

As Apple reports quarterly earnings based largely on the number of iPhones it sold, the honeymoon continues for the lucky millions able to get their hands on the newest 4S model, which was initially criticized for not being new enough. Apple went on to sell 4 million of them in 3 days.

So, after the initial sales storm, is Apple’s iPhone 4S living up to the hype?

First, here’s a graphic on how the baby compares to its older sibling:

Corrected: The graphic, above falsely stated that the iPhone 4S had 1GB of memory. As Ben Pingel pointed out, it actually has 512MB.

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

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.

Tech wrap: Lineups long as ever for Apple’s iPhone 4S

Apple looked to ring in record first day sales as long lines made up of eager wannabe iPhone 4S owners formed at its stores around the world. In New York, the line outside Apple’s flagship Manhattan store no longer extended around the block after a half-hour of sales, but more people joined it as the morning progressed. Queues in Paris were smaller than those normally seen for a brand-new iPhone, with some fans there wondering if the somewhat underwhelming introduction had put people off, but in London and elsewhere the lines were as long as ever. Apple took more than 1 million online orders in the first 24 hours after its release, exceeding the 600,000 for the iPhone 4, which was sold in fewer countries initially.

Despite the enthusiasm at Apple stores, the launch was marred somewhat by widespread complaints this week online about problems downloading iOS 5, the latest version of Apple’s mobile software. There were also problems with iCloud, Apple’s online communications, media storage and backup service formally launched on Wednesday, with users reporting glitches such as losing their email access.

A judge in California said that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets infringe Apple’s iPad patents, but added that Apple has a problem establishing the validity of its patents. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh did not rule on Apple’s request to bar some Galaxy products from being sold in the U.S. but said she would do so “fairly promptly”. Apple must show both that Samsung infringed its patents and that its patents are valid under the law. Samsung attorney Kathleen Sullivan argued that in order to defeat an injunction bid, Samsung need only show that it has raised strong enough questions about the validity of Apple’s patents. Apple attorney Harold McElhinny said Apple’s product design is far superior to previous tablets, so Apple’s patents should not be invalidated by designs that came before.