MediaFile

Maybe $400 heaters and $85,000 TVs will get consumers spending again

                                                                                          It was a confusing week to be a consumer electronics reporter. At the start, I was convinced that no one wants to spend on anything besides an iPad and by the end, I learned that there are people out there buying $85,000 TVs.

On Tuesday, Best Buy’s shares tanked on disappointing earnings. Our headline shouted “tech shoppers turn thrifty,”  and explained how nobody will buy a new flat-screen TV once they have bought their first one.

But if U.S. consumers won’t shell out for new flat screens, maybe they will buy high-end fans and heaters. That’s what James Dyson told me on Wednesday at the launch of the inventor’s latest gadget– a heater that costs $400, the Dyson Hot.

Dyson’s privately held UK-based company has 2,700 employees and saw its profit soar 26 percent this year, on the strengh of items like its cordless vacuum cleaner and swanky “air multiplier” fans that lack blades and cost much more than the competition.

Dyson told Reuters that Best Buy, his company’s largest distrubutor in the U.S., would probably rebound when spending comes back. “People will always want to buy technology,” he said.

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.

Tech wrap: Yahoo’s CEO-in-waiting?

David Kenny, managing partner of VivaKi, poses for photographers during the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival June 24, 2009. REUTERS/Alain Issock New Yahoo board member Akamai President David Kenny is the obvious choice to replace struggling CEO Carol Bartz, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Kara Swisher. Kenny is smooth and well-liked, has deep advertising experience, has a long relationship with Yahoo and its co-founder Jerry Yang and has tech cred as a leader of one of the Internet’s most important infrastructure companies, regularly in contact with media giants, ad networks and video providers that are Akamai’s clients, Swisher argues.

Microsoft explained the delay in updating its new phone software, partly blaming handset manufacturers for the problem. Microsoft’s JoeBelfiore did not name names, but said the company had started the update and ran into problems on some newly manufactured phones that would not function properly afterward. Samsung, HTC and LG Electronics are the main handset makers of Windows phones. A more comprehensive update, code-named Mango, will be available later this year, featuring performance bumps, live updates and applications that can run in the background while users move onto other programs, he said.

Russian hacker attacks on the country’s biggest blog site and a spy agency’s warning to Gmail and Skype have raised fears that authorities are tightening their grip on dissent in a China-like assault on free speech ahead of next year’s election, writes Thomas Grove. “This is a test drive during a very important year to see if it’s possible to close down websites, in particular social networking sites in case of demonstrations,” said Andrei Soldatov, head of the think-tank Agentura.ru.

Twitter + Georgian blogger + South Ossetia = Hack Attack

If you were miffed at not being able to tweet your innermost thoughts and random musings to your followers yesterday, or post that smartypants comment on a friend’s Facebook status update, blame politics. Turns out the reason why Twitter was knocked down for hours, while Facebook users had trouble logging in and posting to their profiles on Thursday was a Georgian blogger who uses both services.

According to CNET, which cites Facebook’s chief security officer Max Kelly, the blogger also has accounts in LiveJournal and Google’s Blogger and YouTube platforms, and goes by the name of Cyxymu, which is the name of a town in Georgia. Kelly told CNET:

“It was a simultaneous attack across a number of properties targeting him to keep his voice from being heard.”