Friday, September 28, 2012

Apple loses patent case vs Samsung, Motorola

A German court has dismissed Apple's claim that Samsung Electronics and Google's Motorola Mobility infringed patents used in touchscreen devices.

The Mannheim state court's ruling Friday follows similar decisions in Britain and the Netherlands.

The ruling can be appealed within 30 days.

Apple and its rivals are locked in a complex worldwide battle over patents and design rights covering the lucrative market for smartphones and tablet computers.

Last month a US court ruled that Samsung phones and tablets infringe on Apple patents, and awarded the Cupertino, California, company $1.05 billion.

Meanwhile, Samsung is seeking royalties from Apple for sales of iPhones it says infringe on its patents.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spice Mobile fined Rs 18k for not repairing cellphone

Spice Mobile has been asked by a consumer forum here to pay Rs 18,000 to a doctor for not fixing or returning her cell phone which she had given to the company's service centre for repair.

The South West District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum directed the mobile phone manufacturer as well as its service centre to jointly pay the amount after finding them guilty of deficiency in service, relying on the affidavit of the Haryana-based doctor.

"We find no reason to disbelieve her sworn testimony and hence come to the irresistible conclusion that opposite party 2 (Spice Mobile) being the principal and opposite party 3 (Spice Service Centre) being agent are guilty of deficiency in service for not replying to her legal notice, nor repairing the handset or returning the same despite it being received on September 20, 2010 by the service centre.

"We, therefore, allow the complaint and direct opposite party 2 and 3 either to jointly or severally pay complainant (Dr Asha Sharma) the price of the mobile handset amounting to Rs 5,000. They shall also pay her Rs 10,000 for mental and physical harassment and for alleged loss of data stored in the handset, along with cost of litigation of Rs 3,000," the bench presided by Narendra Kumar said.

Dr Asha Sharma, in her complaint had said that she had bought a Spice mobile for Rs 5,000 on June 4, 2010.

The handset had developed several faults, including hanging, stopping automatically while charging, and later it stopped functioning altogether, she had alleged.

She had deposited the handset with the service centre for repair on September 20, 2010 but it failed to return the mobile, she had alleged adding that she then issued a legal notice asking for refund of the phone's price, notice fee, compensation and litigation cost.

However, she had received no reply to the notice sent to the opposite parties, she had alleged.

In its affidavit, Spice Mobile denied the doctor's allegation that there was deficiency on its or its service centre's part.

Haryana to set up medical college named after Kalpana Chawla

 A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Haryana government and Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation (India) Limited for setting setting up a Rs 400 crore medical college at Karnal named after late astronaut Kalpana Chawla.

Director General (Medical Education) Mahender Kumar signed the MoU with HSCC senior manager Narender Kumar under which the project would be completed in 25 months, an official release said.

The foundation stone of this project would be laid by Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on November 19.

The college would have 100 MBBS seats and a 500-bed hospital with state-of-the-art facilities for teaching, training and patient care, it added.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Technology killed face-to-face conversation'

Technology has killed the art of conversation among office workers, according to a new poll.

Almost 70 per cent of the people quizzed said they preferred to call or email a colleague rather than having a face-to-face conversation with them, even if they were in the same building.

Some workers said they purposely avoided meeting directly as they wanted to keep their distance from colleagues or clients to avoid awkward questions and also reduce chances of being forced to take on more work.

Under a third of those polled said they preferred face-to-face conversations to solve dilemmas.

This group believed that chatting with someone directly was the quickest way to sort out a range of issues.

However, more than half of respondents said that they felt less confident talking with people in person because they had become so reliant on using email, phones and online services such as Skype.

The poll of 600 people found that email was the most popular method of communication among office staff because of the ability to keep a written record, but almost all said they believed it was important to "put a face" to an email address because it helped forge long-term working relationships.

"Technological advances have revolutionised the speed at which we are able to communicate and the amount of information we are able to share in a short period, which can only be viewed as a good thing for employees and employers alike," the Daily Express quoted a spokesman for office space website, which carried out the poll, as saying.

"However, what our survey has revealed is that many workers have become so comfortable sending emails, they have lost the ability to communicate as effectively in person and, as such, avoid doing so where possible.

"Being asked awkward questions or being cornered into taking on new tasks were two of the main reasons cited as to why many workers preferred to keep their distance from colleagues and clients, using email as a barrier to these issues.

"Many viewed the phone as a compromise as they were able to keep their distance from the person they were speaking to but could openly discuss issues and let the conversation flow," the spokesperson added.

Orkut user base falls 86% in one year

Once the darling of India's social media crowd, Google's Orkut has seen the numbers of its daily visitors dwindle nearly 86% over the last year, suggesting that it might soon be on its last legs.

Orkut, which was Google's first foray into social media, has its second-largest user base in India after Brazil. But the number of daily visitors from India has fallen from about 14 lakh a year ago to just about two lakh now, according to Google Trends.

Most social media junkies in India, which has over 120 million internet users, have moved on to rival Facebook, professional networking site LinkedIn and micro-blogging site Twitter. Also choking Orkut is Google Plus, the internet search company's fresh attempt to wean users away from Facebook.

But Google said it will continue to invest in Orkut. "Orkut has a large user base, especially in Brazil and India, and we will continue to invest in the product," a Google India spokeswoman said in an email response to ET. She said Orkut and Google Plus are different products and that both will exist.

"Users shifted from Orkut to other networks because of its closed platform approach-a contrast to Facebook which opened itself up to apps and businesses" said Yogesh Bansal, founder of, a home-grown social network that boasts about three million users. "The shift of western world to Facebook clearly led to a change in Indian user's habits," said Bansal who moved to Facebook after getting 'friend requests' from relatives in the United States and Canada.

India now accounts for about 20% of Orkut's users. Over the past three years, Orkut has seen its position as the top social media website in India slip. It is now third-Facebook has over 52 million unique visitors every month, LinkedIn eight million and Orkut about four million. Microblogging site Twitter comes next with slightly lower 3.8 million users, according to internet data research firm Comscore.

"Clearly, Google has chosen not to invest too much time, effort or resources into Orkut because all their efforts for social are now fully focused fully on Google Plus," said Adhvith Dhuddu, founder & CEO at AliveNow, a Bangalore-based social media firm. "My guess is that Google will just let Orkut be what it is."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

End for Nokia if new Lumia phones fail: Analysts

Microsoft and Nokia are loading up for their best -- and possibly last -- shot at denting a smartphone market dominated by Apple's iPhone and Google's Android mobile software.

If the new Lumia phones do not appeal to consumers when they are unveiled next Wednesday, it could mean the end for Nokia, and a serious blow to Microsoft's attempts to regain its footing in the mobile market, analysts and investors said.

"This is very high stakes," said Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley. "Nokia bet everything on Windows, and if this doesn't succeed the next step might be having to do what's best for shareholders, and that might include selling off key assets or selling the whole company."

The Finnish handset maker has logged more than 3 billion euros in operating losses in the last 18 months, forcing it to cut 10,000 jobs and pursue asset sales.

Its share of the global smartphone market has plunged to less than 10 percent from 50 percent during its heyday before the iPhone was launched in 2007.

For Microsoft, a successful Lumia launch would convince more handset makers and carriers to support its latest phone software, which is based on the same code as the upcoming Windows 8 computing system, and promises faster performance and a customizable start screen.

Windows phones have only captured 3.7 per cent of the global smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics. Android phones have 68 per cent, while Apple has 17 per cent.

The new Lumia phones will hit the market just as the world of Android reels from a potentially crushing legal blow, and as Research In Motion's BlackBerry continues its decline.

A California jury decided last week that some of Samsung Electronics's hot-selling Android smartphones copied features of the iPhone, which may result in import bans and drive handset makers to put more resources into making Windows-based phones.

The judgment opens a window for Microsoft to exploit -- but it first needs to find favor with consumers.

"Windows Phone really is going to have to stand or fall on its own, it's going to have to appeal to consumers," said Jack Gold, an independent mobile analyst who runs consultancy J Gold Associates.

Good timings
Nokia is expected to launch two new Lumia phones on September 5, on the same day that phone maker Motorola, now owned by Google, also unveils a new product.

It kicks off a busy fortnight for mobile devices, with expected to introduce new Kindle tablets on September 6. Apple is seen unveiling the newest iPhone on September 12.

The costlier of the two Lumias will go up against the iPhone, and is expected to feature a larger, brighter screen; a powerful camera on both sides; Qualcomm Inc dual-core chips; Skype calling; voice recognition; short-range radio technology for wireless payments and built-in maps for navigation.

But Lumia will need something completely different to beat the iPhone and Android, such as a bold new shape, exceptional camera quality or a mini-projector, said Tero Kuittinen, an analyst at mobile diagnostics company Alekstra.

Part of the problem is that Windows Phones have only 100,000 or so apps, compared with about 500,000 for Android or iPhones.

"Developers want to see more devices, and people want to buy only when they see more apps," said Sid Parakh, an analyst at fund firm McAdams Wright Ragen. "I'd say it will take years, they are so far behind."

Nokia may not have years. Finland's most famous company, relegated to second place in the global cellphone market by Samsung after more than a decade at the top, has bet its smartphone future on Microsoft.

Samsung stole some of Nokia's limelight by being the first to unveil a phone based on Windows Phone 8 software on Wednesday, a week before Nokia's event. Canaccord's Walkley expects Samsung to offer steep price discounts for Windows phones in markets where Nokia is also launching its phones.

While Samsung, HTC and Huawei Technologies are also making phones based on the new Windows software, only Nokia is focused entirely on Windows Phone 8. This means that Nokia should be able to deliver more sophisticated Windows phones.

Support from carriers
The job of saving Nokia, and getting the new Windows Phone 8 software off to a strong start, falls to Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft star who forged the agreement between the two companies.

One thing Elop has in his ammunition bag is support from big US mobile service providers who want see Windows become a third strong smartphone platform to counterbalance the market heft of Android and Apple, which charges a heavy price premium.

Top US wireless providers Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA have all said they will support Windows Phone 8, and AT&T Inc said it will sell Nokia phones based on the Microsoft software.

"Everybody's liking what they see coming from Microsoft with the Windows 8 (mobile) platform from the user experience perspective and the integration perspective," said Bill Versen, a Verizon Wireless executive who works with business customers on their smartphone strategies.

"Enterprises have Windows-based platforms they're using for their businesses. They've been waiting for Microsoft to mobilize that in a user-accepted way," he added.

Because Microsoft's new phone software is similar to the upcoming Windows 8 desktop and tablet software - to be released on October 26 - developers can more easily write apps for both, which should help the platform's popularity and may even lead developers to eventually build apps for Windows before Android, Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said.

Microsoft actually makes more money from royalties on Android products than it does on sales of its own phone software, but "can't afford not to have a significant position in the global smartphone market," said CCS Insight analyst John Jackson.

Microsoft needs to get at least a 10 per cent share of the smartphone market by the end of 2013 to be a contender, Canaccord's Walkley added.


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