Not content with taking your shoes and confiscating your water, now the Department of Homeland Security is gunning for your laptops. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, Border Patrol and Customs agents can now “detain” laptops “for a reasonable period of time” to “review and analyze information.” They don’t need probable cause under the new policy. Doesn’t matter if you’re a U.S. citizen or foreign visitor. Officials can hold the laptops indefinitely. Or hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, video and audio tapes. Ditto papers, documents, books, pamphlets, even litter.
“It’s not our intent to subject legitimate travelers to undue scrutiny, but to ensure the safety of the American public,” wrote Jayson Ahern, U.S. Customs deputy commissioner, in a recent policy paper. Arguing that border searches of laptops have already uncovered intellectual property rights violations, extremist Jihadist literature, video clips of IEDs and child pornography, he pledged the government would never disclose confidential information “without lawful authority.” The policy has been on the books for awhile, but just confirmed under pressure from civil rights and business groups worried about increasing reports of laptop confiscation.
Source: LA Times, Martin
According to a preliminary analysis by iSuppli Corp., the new Apple iPhone 3G materials and manufacturing cost is $173. The initial retail price of the phone announced by Steve Jobs will be $199. iSuppli has performed a breakdown of the costs using insights from its analysis staff to develop estimates of iPhone content, suppliers, and costs. “The new iPhone is significantly less expensive to produce than the first-generation product, despite major improvements in the product’s functionality and unique usability, due to the addition of 3G communications,” said Dr. Jagdish Rebello, director and principal analyst for iSuppli.
“The original 8Gbyte iPhone carried a cost of $226 after component price reductions, giving the new product a 23 percent hardware cost reduction due to component price declines.” Tina Teng, wireless communications analyst at iSuppli, added that if the 3G iPhone design is unchanged, the cost should drop down to $126 in 2012. Although the base iPhone 3G will sell for just $199 at retail, Apple will receive far more than that with AT&T footing the bill as it does with most phones. Wireless carriers subsidize much of the cost of devices and make up the difference with revenue from new and existing subscribers.
Source: Betanews, PC World, Martin
Security experts have warned of a new round of ‘419′ email lottery scams targeting European smartphone users. Bogus text messages inform users that they have won the ‘GSM Mobile Sweepstakes’ contest and landed a €170,000 prize. In order to claim the prize, recipients are instructed to respond to a Yahoo webmail address. A reply offers to send the prize in the form a cheque mailed to the user. However, in order to pay for the insurance and shipping charges on the cheques, the user is asked to foot a bill ranging from €595 to €1,890. The scammers then pocket the supposed shipping costs and the user receives nothing.
Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure, said: “Obviously you can’t win a lottery if you haven’t bought a ticket in the first place. “These guys just want you to pay for the ‘courier delivery’ of your ‘cheque parcel’.” Security experts have warned that mobile messaging could become a new frontier for cyber-crime owing to booming numbers of new users and a relatively inexperienced security field in comparison to the PC industry. In addition to spam runs and 419 scams, the practice of SMS phishing, or ’smishing’, has gained steam in recent years. Users are also faced with a growing crop of malware applications which target the operating systems used by smartphone devices.
Source: Vnunet, Martin
Apple has staked a strong claim in the smartphone market. And it’s a good space to latch onto, as the worldwide smartphone market grew more than 29 percent and the North American smartphone market doubled in the first quarter of 2008 compared to a year ago, according to new research from Gartner. Apple, Cupertino, Calif., is the No. 3 vendor of smartphones, selling 1.7 million units worldwide to grab a 5.3 percent share of the market, Gartner said. Apple has built that share up from nothing, offering no smartphone in its portfolio until the debut of its iPhone in June, 2007. In the U.S., Apple is the No. 2 vendor, grabbing 20 percent of the market. Still, the vendor has a ways to go if it wants to hit No. 1 worldwide. Nokia, Espoo, Finland, holds that spot, selling 14.6 million units in the first quarter and grabbing 45.2 percent of the market. Research in Motion, Waterloo, Ontario, sits at No. 2, selling 4.3 million units to grab 13.4 percent of the market.
Globally, buyers snapped up 32.2 million smartphones in the first quarter, an increase of 29.3 percent compared to the first quarter of 2007. In North America, unit sales more than doubled to 7.3 million. “Despite economic concerns, the smartphone market continued to expand in the United States, driven by heavy advertising and strong marketing promotions as more devices reached mass market price points,” said Hugues De La Vergne, principal analyst for mobile terminals research at Gartner, in a statement. “North American operators are giving these devices strong support, as they provide higher average revenue per unit (ARPU). We expect operators to continue to make these devices the focus of 2008 promotions.”
Source: CRN, Martin
Nvidia Corp on Sunday announced a processor line-up it believes will power a new class of fast, small devices with long battery life that can surf the full Internet, play high-end games and display high-definition video. The graphics chipmaker is calling the Tegra 600 and Tegra 650 processors “computers on a chip” for highly portable, visual devices, and it is aiming squarely at a market also targeted by No. 1 chipmaker Intel Corp. Nvidia hopes the Tegra chips, which also include its previously announced application processor APX2500 used in smartphones and handsets, will go into a broad array of computing devices. But it’s aiming first for an emerging category called mobile Internet devices, or MIDs.
Intel was among the first to start bandying about the term, and its Atom family of chips is targeted at MIDs. But Intel and Nvidia both say people are still unsure exactly what a MID is. Mike Rayfield, general manager of Nvidia’s mobile business, said MIDs have screens of four to 12 inches in diameter and may have a touch-screen or keyboard, a connection for a game controller or a wireless high-speed Internet connection. Nvidia says it is more than a dumbed-down notebook PC or super-portable notebook with keyboards suited more for the hands of Smurfs than humans. He said prices for MIDs with Tegra would range from $200 to $250 and be on store shelves by the holiday shopping season.
Source: Reuters, Martin
Adobe Systems Inc. says it will license its video-enabling Flash software for free for mobile devices to help developers make mobile Internet experiences more closely resemble the experience on computers. The world’s fifth-largest software maker is launching what it calls the Open Screen Project with support from phone makers Motorola Inc., Nokia Corp., Samsung Electronics, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba Corp., from chip makers Intel and Qualcomm, and from content providers including NBC Universal, MTV Networks and the BBC, among other companies. With the Open Screen Project, Adobe said, it aims to improve Internet experiences on all electronics, including computers, TVs and digital video recorders. But mobile devices are a particular focus.
Many mobile applications have met with disappointment from consumers. And game and video developers have been burdened with cranking out numerous versions of applications for mobile devices, said Kevin Lynch, Adobe’s chief technology officer. “You have to make over 100 different versions of that game in order to actually make it work across all these different phones,” Lynch said. Notably missing from the list of industry supporters for Adobe’s project is Apple Inc. The iPhone maker does not use Flash on its smart phones, and Chief Executive Steve Jobs has publicly criticized Flash for being too slow. Adobe says it’s working on a version of Flash for the iPhone — now that Apple has released the information needed to custom fit the software to Apple’s operating system.
Source: AP, Martin
The 3G iPhone will be announced June 9, the likely date of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference, analysts said in research notes on Thursday. The 3G iPhone will be the “first of an impressive wave of new products” from Apple, wrote Citi analysts Richard Gardner and Yeechang Lee. They also expect an updated Mac laptop and iPod lines. The Apple conference is scheduled for June 9-13 in San Francisco. In addition to a 3G iPhone release in early June, the 2.5G model could have a “minor casing change” and a price drop to between US$299 and $349, compared to the current $399, wrote Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research, in a research report.
Those predictions are consistent with a February prediction Gardner made that 3G iPhones will be announced by midyear. The 3G iPhone release will help Apple meet its target of shipping 10 million iPhones in 2008, Gardner wrote at the time. Apple is confident it will sell 10 million iPhones this year, officials said during a conference call on Wednesday to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings. Apple sold more iPhones than expected during the quarter and iPhone inventories were not enough to meet the strong demand.
Source: Yahoo, Martin
Qwest Communications International Inc. on Thursday introduced DSL plans with faster download speeds, including one that is the fastest DSL service from a major U.S. phone company. Qwest is charging $104.99 per month for a download speed of 20 megabits per second. For 12 mbps, it is charging $51.99 per month. The prices are $5 lower when combined with local phone service. The plans will be available in 23 of Qwest’s top markets, the company said. By the end of the year, they will be available to 2 million customers. Download speeds on DSL, or Digital Subscriber Lines, from other companies generally top out at 10 or 12 megabits per second.
Like Qwest’s plans, those speeds are only available in some areas, where the local phone company has drawn optical fiber closer to homes to shorten the distance the signal is carried by copper phone lines. Qwest said it is committed to spending up to $300 million to upgrade its network by drawing fiber into neighborhoods. Verizon Communications Inc. has chosen a different route, drawing fiber all the way to customers’ homes. While its fastest DSL service provides 7 mbps downloads, its fiber Internet service clocks in at 50 mbps. Cable companies also have been boosting their speeds. Earlier this month, Comcast Corp. introduced 50 mbps service for $150 per month in Minnesota’s Twin Cities region, where Qwest is the dominant phone company. A check on Qwest’s Web site indicated that the 12 and 20 megabit services are available in Minneapolis.
Source: AP, Martin
You can use your cell phone in the skies over Europe later this year under new rules that will allow air travelers to stay in touch — and raise the cringe-inducing prospect of sitting next to a chatterbox at 30,000 feet. But don’t expect to use your phone on a U.S. flight anytime soon. The decision Monday by the European Union makes the 27-nation bloc the first region in the world to scrap bans on the use of cell phones in the sky. The EU insists the change will not compromise safety. Cell phone calls will be connected through an onboard base station — think of a miniature cell phone tower — linked to a satellite and then to ground networks. A flight’s captain will have the power to turn off service anytime.
Phone service will be blocked during takeoff and landing, EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said. That means using your cell phone will fall under roughly the same restrictions as using your laptop or iPod. In Europe, travelers will be allowed to turn on their phones after planes climb past 10,000 feet. That’s when other electronic devices are typically permitted. Captains will also be able to block cell phone service during turbulence. The ban remains in place for all U.S. carriers, including domestic and international flights. Duquette said the FAA had not decided whether to block foreign carriers from allowing cell phone use when they enter U.S. airspace.
Source: AP, Martin
this morning revealed what it says is one of the world’s smallest high-resolution cameras yet. Although capable of 8-megapixel shots, the new camera is roughly as wide as a coin and a third of an inch thick, allowing it to fit into far thinner and more compact phones than even many 5-megapixel cameras. The sensor is also more powerful than most at its size with up to ISO 1600 light sensitivity, anti-blur and noise correction, and both face and smile detection for portraits.
The optics are also said to be flexible with a 30mm wide-angle equivalent and extremely close macro shooting up to 0.4 inches away from the lens. Samsung explains that the new camera will be used both in Korea and abroad and that it should find its way both into cellphones as well as digital cameras and other portable media devices. Production samples will start arriving for customers in May but should reach shipping products sometime in the second half of this year, though the company has not named any launch partners.