Archive for April, 2011


Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Nokia slashes

7000 jobs

as it struggles

to compete

April 28, 2011 – 11:52AM

Nokia will axe 7000 jobs and outsource its Symbian software development unit to cut $US1.46 billion in costs as it struggles to compete in the smartphone market.

Nokia, the world’s largest phone maker by volume, has detailed an overhaul of its phone business following its decision to start using Microsoft software instead of its own Symbian platform.

The move includes laying off 4000 staff and transferring another 3000 to services firm Accenture – a total 12 per cent of its phone unit workforce.

Accenture will take over Nokia’s Symbian software activities and will become a primary software partner for future smartphones running on Microsoft’s Windows platform. Shares in Tieto, a local services supplier to Nokia, dropped more than 3 per cent.

Nokia investors welcomed the Accenture deal as a quicker and cheaper way to exit its Symbian operations than full-scale layoffs requiring big severance packages, sending Nokia shares 3.3 per cent higher on the Helsinki stock exchange.

“This is about keeping focus within Nokia on Windows Phone. It helps to get rid of any doubts on where this company is going,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

Nokia’s Chief Executive Stephen Elop told Finnish national broadcaster YLE it was possible the first Nokia phone running on Windows software could reach customers this year.

Accenture said the deal gives it additional scale in mobile, an important initiative for the company, putting it “at the heart of” Nokia and Microsoft which are developing the third major mobile platform in addition to Google and Apple.

The deal does not include Symbian software code.

The job cuts and site closings let Nokia cut annual business research and development costs by 1 billion euros, or 18 per cent, by 2013 from 5.65 billion in 2010.

“Restructuring had been widely expected, but Nokia will be hoping that the transfer of 3,000 of jobs to Accenture will help cushion the blow as it ramps down its Symbian investments,” said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.

Nokia’s market share in smartphones has fallen sharply over the past few years as it loses out to Apple and other manufacturers of high-end handsets.

“The competitive environment has changed rapidly,” Elop told a news conference in Helsinki, while outlining which parts of its operations will be hit the most.

Nokia said most of the 4000 layoffs will take place in Finland, Denmark and Britain, with all workers staying on the payroll through 2011.

Nokia hired Elop from Microsoft last year to replace Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo in a bid to compete more effectively in the smartphone market. He is the first non-Finn to run the company, which evolved from a rubber boots-to-TVs conglomerate into a global mobile phone maker in the 1990s.

In its native Finland, Nokia will cut 1400 jobs.

“This went slightly better than expected because Nokia transfers Symbian development. These 1,400 people … should have quite good chances to find new jobs,” said Pertti Porokari, chairman of the Union of Professional Engineers in Finland.

Nokia said it would wind down its large operations in Copenhagen, cutting 950 jobs there, and close its second headquarters in White Plains, New York.

The move crushed Finnish media speculations of Nokia planning to move its headquarters to the United States.

“Finland absolutely remains in the heart of Nokia’s future,” Elop said.

Job cuts at Finland’s flagship company are a blow to confidence in the country, already struggling with unemployment of around 8 percent.

Worries about jobs and possible cuts to social welfare helped the populist True Finns party in the country’s general election earlier this month.

Nokia’s telecom gear arm Nokia Siemens Networks cut about 9,000 jobs after it started operations in 2007.


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 25th, 2011

Your smartphone

spies on you

for Google, Apple

Charles Arthur
April 25, 2011 – 8:08AM

With the iPhone tracker, researchers were able to map out the location data their phones were collecting.

Apple and Google are using smartphones running their software to build gigantic databases for location-based services, according to new research following revelations that iPhones and devices running Android collect location data about owners’ movements.

iPhones and Android smartphones swap data – which does not contain information directly identifying the user or the phone – back and forth with their respective companies.

The news has led some European governments to announce investigations into whether either company is breaking privacy laws.

Samy Kamkar, a hacker and researcher, has shown that Android phones, which run on software written by Google, collect the location data every few seconds and store it in a local file, but also transmit it to Google several times an hour.

This functionality is almost certainly used in any phone that provides mapping services, meaning that similar files will exist in some form on all smartphones, including those from Nokia and BlackBerry-maker RIM. It is not known whether these models synchronise data from the phone to the companies’ servers as well as storing it locally on the handset.

Sources familiar with Google’s systems said the location data was used to help the phones orient themselves by identifying nearby mobile phone masts and wi-fi sources and comparing them with Google’s own database, with which they are synchronised continually. The file is also updated so that if the mobile signal is interrupted – for example when the user is on a train and goes into a tunnel – it will be able to re-establish contact more quickly by knowing which towers are in the vicinity.

Apple and Google are collecting the data, which amounts to an international map of the locations and unique identities of cell towers and wi-fi networks, to improve targeting of their adverts based around mobile phones.

In a letter to the US congress last July, Apple confirmed it collected the data and said that, in order to be useful, “the databases [of tower and network locations] must be updated continuously”.

The value of location-based services, which feature advertising, is reckoned to be $US2.9bn already and forecast by the research group Gartner to grow to $US8.3bn by 2014.

In 2009, Google itself pointed to the value for users of having Android phones upload real-time location data to its servers, suggesting it could give “a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions”. It said: “We continuously combine this data and send it back to you for free in the Google Maps traffic layers. It takes almost zero effort on your part – just turn on Google Maps for mobile before starting your car.”

A Google spokesman said Android phones explicitly asked to collect anonymous location data when users turned them on.

Apple iPhones and iPads also ask whether users want to have “location services” turned on, and the iPhone licence has a passage that says Apple “and its partners and licensees” may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use location data, including the real-time geographic location of the iPhone, though it points out that this is anonymised and can be disabled by turning off the “location services” feature.

However, even if users disable location services, the iPhone and Android phones are believed to continue storing locations of cell towers and wi-fi networks in what is known as a “neighbour list”.

Google’s list is limited to the most recent 50 cell masts and 200 wi-fi networks, while Apple’s list is retained for up to a year. Sources close to Apple have suggested the long-term retention may be an error which it will correct in a future software update.

Privacy advocates fear that although the data is anonymised, the Apple data is not encrypted and could be misused by law enforcement or others who wanted to capture information about someone’s movements.

One security researcher, Alex Levinson of Katana Forensics, said on Thursday that US law enforcement had already made use of the location data recorded by the iPhone in investigations.

Some police forces, such as those in Michigan, already carry readers that can copy all the files from a smartphone even if it is protected with a password, and that it has been used on motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union says such examination amounts to an “unreasonable search”, which would be illegal in the US.

In Germany, the Bavarian Agency for the Supervision of Data Protection said it would examine whether and why Apple’s devices were capturing the information, and that it had asked Apple for more information.

“If it is true that this information is being collected… without the approval and knowledge of the users, then it is definitely a violation of German privacy law,” Thomas Kranig, the agency’s director, told the New York Times.

Italy and France are expected to do the same. France’s data protection authority suggested that a major source of concern would be over whether Apple transferred any of the data to any commercial partners. “If the information is marketed without the knowledge of the consumer, it is much more serious,” Yann Padova of France’s CNIL said.

The Guardian

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 25th, 2011


Measure Your Heart Rate Ever wanted to know how fast your heart is beating? It’s never been easier! Use your smartphone’s built-in camera to get an accurate reading almost instantly. Anytime, anywhere. * Authentic Visual Style Beautifully designed, authentic visual interface inspired by real-life medical equipment. Watch as every beat of your heart is drawn on paper and reported on the monochrome LCD screen below. * Interesting Facts Enjoy dozens of interesting, insightful and fun facts about the heart while you measure your pulse. Just don’t get too excited about them, it may interfere with the results… * Authentic Audio Design The stride for authenticity and the attention to detail carry over to the audio department, with convincing sound effects that wouldn’t sound out of place in a hospital. *** Operational Manual Step 1. Power on the device by tapping the START/STOP button. Step 2. Gently place the tip of your index finger over the camera, so that it covers the lens completely. Step 3. The readings will appear after a few seconds. The heart-shaped bars indicate measurement accuracy. Hint: If you are getting wrong readings (or none at all), please try adjusting the position of your finger on the camera lens. Also, please be sure to take measurements in a well-lit environment if your device does not have a torchlight. ******History and Profiles coming soon.****** Recent changes: * Added Droid / Droid X / Droid 2 support * Fixed broken ad overlay * Huge drawing optimization and performance boost * Various small bug fixes

Surced & published by Henry Sapiecha



Tuesday, April 19th, 2011


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 18th, 2011

Playbook maker


iPad rival

against tough reviews

Hugo Miller

April 18, 2011 – 10:20AM

The RIM PlayBook.The RIM PlayBook. Photo: AFP 

Research In Motion co-chief executive officer Jim Balsillie said criticism of the company’s PlayBook tablet computer, which goes on sale next week in the US and in Australia sometime in the second quarter, are misguided because they ignore RIM’s base of BlackBerry faithful.

Technology columnists criticised the 7-inch tablet for its limited number of applications, lack of built-in email and inability to connect to mobile-phone networks – issues that won’t be remedied until new software and further editions of the device are introduced later this year. Some critics suggested RIM rushed an unfinished device to market, a charge Balsillie refutes.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” Balsillie, 50, said in a television interview yesterday on Bloomberg West with Emily Chang. He pointed out that more than 60 million BlackBerry smartphone users can pair their phones and PlayBooks to read email and connect to the internet. “A lot of the people that want this want a secure and free extension of their BlackBerry.”

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Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive officer of Research In Motion, holds up the PlayBook tablet computer during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York.Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive officer of Research In Motion, holds up the PlayBook tablet computer during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York. Photo: Bloomberg 

RIM will need those loyal customers to help it come from behind in the tablet market. Apple, which put its first iPad on the market last April, has sold more than 15 million units and Samsung Electronics, Motorola Mobility Holdings and Dell have all introduced tablets already.

While RIM hasn’t forecast how many of the devices it will sell, Balsillie said the opportunity is significant.

“I like our chances for a lot of share,” he said. “We’re very excited about where we are.”

Business market

The iPad accounted for 75 per cent of tablets shipped in the fourth quarter, according to researcher Strategy Analytics. Tablets that use Google’s Android software, including Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Dell’s Streak, had a 22 per cent share.

RIM’s best chance to win customers is with business users, say investors such as David Eiswert of the T. Rowe Price Global Technology Fund.

“RIM’s got this really good tablet but would a consumer buy anything other than an iPad, given the time it’s been out on the market and all the applications that come with it?” said Eiswert, manager of the Baltimore-based fund, which includes Apple shares and a “small” amount of RIM. “They need to take the PlayBook, install it among their diehard installed base and then push back out to consumers.”


Co-chief executive officer Mike Lazaridis said RIM expects to distinguish itself in the tablet market the same way it did in mobile phones – through better technology. The PlayBook has security features that appeal to corporate customers and unique extras, such as the ability to let consumers browse the web and run videos simultaneously, he said in an interview last week.

The device, which is smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad, is also designed to be “ultraportable” so it can be more frequently used during the day, he said.

“This is superior,” he said. “It’s far more portable, it’s lighter in your hands, you can hold it for longer.”

RIM didn’t make the decision on size lightly. Todd Wood, vice president of industrial design, and his team studied the optimal proportions for a tablet while Lazaridis weighed what format would offer a screen big enough for watching video and could pack a powerful processor, and remain portable. The inspiration for the final size was decidedly low-tech: the Moleskine leather notebooks used by Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway.

“It’s an iconic form factor,” Wood said in an interview. “There’s the science part of it that led them to 7 inches and we took the human factor side and in the end agreed very quickly.”

Smaller tablets

Consumers have had the chance to buy smaller tablets for months, though sales haven’t threatened the iPad’s dominance. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, the size of the PlayBook, went on sale in October and had shipped 2 million units by the end of 2010.

“There’s no doubt the PlayBook has a lot of power,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner in San Jose, California. “The question is whether those things will matter to consumers more than the things that the iPad can do, namely with its breadth and depth of applications.”

Pricing parity

The PlayBook starts at $US499, the same as the least expensive iPad 2 in the US (the least expensive iPad 2 is $579 in Australia). The priciest PlayBook is $US699, while the top- end iPad, which comes with a 3G connection, is $US829 (the top- end iPad is $949 in Australia).

A large installed base of business customers should help RIM sell about 250,000 PlayBooks in its current fiscal quarter which ends in May, and 5.4 million over the fiscal year, predicts Alkesh Shah, an analyst with Evercore Partners Inc.

The device will probably capture 10 per cent of the tablet market by 2015, compared with 47 per cent for the iPad, research firm Gartner predicts. PlayBook sales will be about 29 million devices in 2015, eclipsed by a forecast of about 138 million iPad sales, according to Gartner.

ManuLife Financial, Canada’s largest insurer with about 24,000 employees worldwide, plans to deploy the device across its businesses in North America and Asia. Toronto-based insurer Sun Life Financial is ordering as many as 1000 of the devices to make signing up new policyholders easier. ING Direct, a Canadian unit of ING Groep NV, plans to pilot the PlayBook for its staff. All three companies have said the adaptability of the PlayBook to existing BlackBerry networks, and the tablet’s security features were primary reasons to stick with RIM.

“Any new tablet maker faces an uphill challenge in capturing the attention of the market, but PlayBook has the potential to be meaningfully different,” said Paul Taylor, chief investment officer of BMO Harris Private Banking in Toronto, which holds both RIM and Apple shares.


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, April 14th, 2011

IBM smartphone app

predicts traffic jams

April 14, 2011 – 7:59AM
IBM's Smarter Traveler initiative could soon be helping you find the quickest run into work.IBM’s Smarter Traveler initiative could soon be helping you find the quickest run into work.

IBM is testing smartphone software designed to predict traffic jams and warn motorists before they even take to the roads.

IBM said that its employees in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas of Northern California have been testing technology that “will ultimately help drivers around the world” avoid fouled traffic.

Those involved in the pilot project agree to have location-sensing capabilities in their smartphones automatically track where they drive and when, according to IBM Smarter Traveler program manager John Day.

The information is fed through the internet to computers that identify patterns such as commutes to and from work.

Meanwhile, data collected from roadway censors commonly used for online traffic maps is analysed to determine conditions that usually lead to trouble.

For example, congestion at a certain off-ramp or bridge entrance may consistently lead to traffic backing up in another area.

The results are combined to form personalised predictions of when a motorist is apt to run into highway headaches.

“We wanted to take advantage of analytic tools to provide predictive capabilities; to get correlations with minor slowdowns and major ones that happen after that,” Day told AFP.

“So you can run a query at any point for a journey and predict 35 or 40 minutes in advance what it will look like, then couple that with a personal approach for the individual traveler.”

IBM researchers worked with California state highway authorities and a Mobile Millennium Team at the University of Berkeley, California, on the project.

The smartphone application lets people receive customized alerts warning of probable traffic trouble before they set out on commutes or other routine drives.

The service is powered by a “first-of-its-kind learning and predictive analytics tool” called the Traffic Prediction Tool (TPT) developed by IBM Research.

TPT continuously analyses congestion data, commuter locations and expected travel start times throughout a metropolitan region that can affect commuters on highways, rail-lines and urban roads.

“The idea is to learn a traveler’s habits, then run it on the predictive model to see what traffic they can expect,” Day said.

“The objective was to make it much more personal and provide it to them just before they were about to leave.”

IBM researchers envision integrating real-time data from bus or train systems into the equation so the service could advise people when it would be smarter to divert to public transit.

Privacy protections included obscuring start and end points of trips as well as letting people manage their travel data online.

The pilot project has been going on for about five months.

“The predictive capabilities are head and shoulders above what exists today,” Day said. “Everything out there is showing you traffic as reported five or 10 minutes ago. Nobody does predictive.”

While testing is in California, IBM is intent on building a system that can work around the world.

“Unlike existing traffic alert solutions, we’re helping take the guesswork out of commuting,” said Stefan Nusser of IBM Almaden Services Research.


Received & published by Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, April 14th, 2011

White iPhones ready

after 10 month delay:


April 14, 2011 – 2:52PM
Apple CEO Steve Jobs poses with a white iPhone 4.Apple CEO Steve Jobs poses with a white iPhone 4. Photo: Reuters 

Suppliers to Apple have begun production of white iPhones after a delay of almost 10 months, pointing to a launch date of within a month, two people familiar with the situation said today.

Hon Hai Precision Industry, flagship of Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, would assemble the iPhone, one of the people said. They declined to be named because the information was not public.

An Apple spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment, while calls to a Hon Hai spokesman went unanswered.

Apple senior vice-president of marketing Phil Schiller first said in a Twitter post in March that the white iPhone would be available for sale by spring, which ends in May in the northern hemisphere.

The white iPhone would be available in the US from AT&T and Verizon Communications by the end of April, Bloomberg News reported on its website, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs first unveiled the white version of the smartphone when the iPhone 4 was launched in June last year, but it has been delayed because of a manufacturing issue that the company has not elaborated on.

Many telecommunications operators have been eager to sell the iPhone, hoping that the feature-jammed device will help boost data network use and increase revenue. For example, China Mobile, the world’s biggest mobile operator, has been in talks with Apple for more than a year on distribution rights for the handset.

More than 16 million iPhones were sold in the last quarter of 2010, accounting for more than a third of Apple’s sales in those three months.


Received & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 4th, 2011

Your mobile phone is watching you … closely
While most of us know it is theoretically possible for our movements to be tracked by detecting which tower our mobile phone is connected too, it might come as a shock to see just how much of a digital footprint we leave as we go about our daily lives. German Green Party politician Malte Spitz and German newspaper Die Zeit have provided a frightening insight into just how much information can be gleaned from the digital breadcrumbs we drop every day by creating an interactive map showing Spitz’s movements and activities over a five month period based on mobile phone data and information freely available on the internet. Read More

Want spy equipment contact >>

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha



Monday, April 4th, 2011

Ready for your close-up? It’s a microscope for the iPhone
It’s all very well and good that iPhones can give you directions, let you surf the web, and do about a thousand other things, but what if you want to get a close look at something really tiny? Well, the phone can’t help you with that on its own, but it can if you equip it with the Mini Microscope for iPhone. Like the University of California, Davis’ more clinical CellScope, it mounts over the lens of the phone’s camera. Once in place, you can use it to inspect your thumb, get to know the insects in your neighborhood, or even to detect counterfeit currency.

Read More

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha



Monday, April 4th, 2011

Hands on:

HTC Desire HD

March 16, 2011
HTC Desire HD alongside the original HTC Desire.
HTC Desire HD alongside the original HTC Desire.


The Desire goes large, but is it too much to handle?

I’m a big fan of the HTC Desire. I’d say it’s the best Android phone to date, thanks to the combination of sleek hardware, plenty of grunt and the slick Sense UI interface. The recent update to 2.2 Froyo made it even better. I’m obviously not the only one who’s impressed, as I reckon I’ve seen more Desires in the wild than all the other Android handsets combined. If you want the bells and whistles of the iPhone, but without buying into the Apple ecosystem, the HTC Desire is probably the phone for you.

HTC has always had a thing for extra screen real estate – from the mammoth iMate JasJar to the chunky HD2 and hefty HD7. So it’s little surprise that it followed up the Desire with the beefy Desire HD sporting a generous 4.3-inch display. The new Desire HD is available exclusively on Vodafone and 3 for a few months at $59 per month, which will frustrate some Android fans unless they’re prepared to buy it outright and unlock it. It’s only 900/2100Mhz compatible, not 850MHz, so Telstra Next G customers can only use it on Telstra’s 2100MHz metro networks (although these are due to be switched off next year).

I know I wouldn’t jump ship from Next G to Vodafone just to get my hands on a new phone. I’ve never experienced major problems using my Vodafone USB modem, but I’ve heard too many horror stories to risk the switch. As with Optus, I think it will take Vodafone a while to earn people’s trust again.

Getting back to phones, as you can see above the Desire HD looks like a big beast sitting next to the original Desire. It’s 8mm wider and 4mm longer, which doesn’t sound like much but is quite striking. Imaging a big brawny footballer with wide shoulders standing next to your average Joe and you get the picture. The fact the Desire HD lacks the Desire’s sexy curves adds to the effect.

The Desire’s four physical buttons and optical trackball are gone in favour of touch-sensitive buttons. This might concern those who’ve used the unresponsive touch-sensitive buttons on the Google Nexus, but I haven’t experienced any sluggishness using the Desire HD’s buttons. The Desire HD’s physical volume and power buttons are less prominent than the Desire, which some people will find frustrating (although personally I find it’s too easy to nudge the Desire’s power button and accidentally lock it).

The Desire HD is only 29 grams heavier than its predecessor, so not enough to notice the difference when it’s resting in your hand or sitting into your pocket. It’s not so wide that it’s uncomfortable to hold, although I reckon I can get a safer grip on the original Desire. The Desire HD is actually 1mm thinner but this doesn’t allow for the camera lens, which protrudes further on the new phone.

The Desire HD’s extra screen real estate comes in handy if you like to read on your phone. The screen resolution is no sharper than the original Desire at 480×800, but the extra room certainly makes text easier on the eyes. If you’ve been contemplating shelling out for a 7-inch tablet for reading newspapers, blogs and books on the train, it’s worth evaluating whether something like the 4.3-inch Desire HD or 5-inch Dell Streak strikes a reasonable compromise which lets you get away with carrying one device rather than both a phone and tablet.

Rather than utilise the original Desire’s AMOLED display, the Desire HD features an LCD screen. The slight blue tinge of the Desire’s AMOLED display is gone and the contrast and viewing angles have improved. The trade-off is that the LCD’s colours aren’t as vibrant, so everything looks a little washed out if you’re used to the Desire’s vibrant display.

Using Peter Costello below as a reference point, the stripes on his suit are easily lost on the Desire. They’re much clearer on the Desire HD and not as easily lost when you change viewing angle. Unfortunately the skin tones look a little washed out on the Desire HD, while they’re a bit overblown on the Desire.


Of all the phones I’ve tested with this photo, the iPhone 4’s Super LCD screen still comes out best. It’s whiter whites also offer the best contrast when reading, to the point where I’d still rather read on the iPhone 4 than the larger Desire HD. The screen glare on the Desire HD is also as terrible as the original Desire to the point where you’ll struggle to use it in bright sunlight. Sorry Android lovers, but that’s another point to Apple’s wundergadget.

Of course the Desire HD’s beauty isn’t just skin deep  As for my initial impressions, I’d say the Desire HD’s larger screen size means it’s not a no-brainer upgrade from the Desire (while the Desire was a no-brainer upgrade from the Hero). The 4.3-inch screen takes some getting used to, as does the washed out display. Unless you’re particularly frustrated and after that extra optical inch, the Desire HD may not be the droid you’re looking for.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha