BlackBerry users in Africa, the Middle East and Europe have been without service since 11:00 a.m. Monday, The Telegraph reports. A bug on Research In Motion’s server in Slough, England is to blame and it appears to have impaired all users, independent of carrier or device. RIM has not issued a statement on the matter. “There is an issue with BlackBerry services at present,” a T-Mobile UK representative said on Twitter. “RIM [is] investigating this at present.” Additionally, Batelco, a wireless carrier in Bahrain, issued a statement that confirmed the service was out in the entire country and explained the issue is being “dealt with by BlackBerry providers in Canada.” More →
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Motorola Solutions on suspicion of bribery, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Motorola Solutions, not to be confused with Motorola Mobility, reportedly paid bribes to foreign officials, including Austrian count Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, in an attempt to increase business in Europe. If the allegations are true, Motorola Solutions will have been in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and will likely be required to pay a fine. The company opened up its own investigation in 2009 after a “suspicious transaction” was made in Turkey and has since asked the U.S. government to aid in the investigation, The Wall Street Journal said, noting that the company is providing federal investigators with internal documents “voluntarily.” Mensdorff-Pouilly was charged with bribery in 2010 after the U.S. government looked into allegations that BAE Systems was also paying off foreign officials in return for business.
Just one day after ordering a preliminary injunction blocking the sale of multiple Samsung smartphones, a Dutch judge has said that at least one patent Apple is suing the South Korean company over is probably invalid. The judge ruled on Wednesday that Samsung’s GALAXY S II, GALAXY S and GALAXY Ace smartphones infringe on Apple patents. Regarding one of the patents Apple claims Samsung is infringing, however, FOSS Patents reveals that the judge is not sold on its validity, calling the patent — which covers the “slide-to-unlock” feature on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch — “obvious.” What’s more, Swedish phone manufacturer Neonode released a Windows CE phone in Europe that featured a slide-to-unlock mechanism before Apple even filed its patent in late December 2005. The only difference between Apple’s implementation and Neonode’s is that Apple added a sliding graphic to the screen that follows the user’s finger while sliding. Neonode’s unlock mechanism did not include such a graphic, though the judge feels its addition is inconsequential in this case. “The Dutch judge concluded that the Neonode N1m already implemented the entirety of Apple’s claimed invention with only one difference remaining: Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent also claims an unlock image that moves along with the finger as the sliding gesture is performed,” Florian Mueller wrote on FOSS Patents. “But that difference didn’t convince the judge that Apple was entitled to a patent. He said that the use of an unlock image was ‘obvious’ (in Dutch he said it was ‘lying on the hand’ in terms of ‘not far to seek’).” More →
Dutch technology news site Webwereld on Friday uncovered new images that suggest Apple may again be tampering with photographic evidence used in its case against Samsung. In this instance, it appears as though an image submitted to a court in the Netherlands intentionally misrepresents the South Korea-based company’s Galaxy S II smartphone. While the Galaxy S II is both wider and taller than Apple’s iPhone 3GS, the image Apple submitted as evidence shows a device that is exactly the same height as the iPhone that appears next to it. This past Monday, Webwereld revealed that Apple may have altered the dimensions of an image of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in an effort to make it look more like the iPad when submitted as evidence to a German court. While that instance seemed extremely dubious — Apple’s legal team actually presented an image where the physical proportions of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 were altered to match the iPad — the Galaxy S II image seen above appears to just be reduced in size. The accusations are serious nonetheless, and Samsung’s legal team is undoubtedly examining the images in order to determine whether or not to take action.
Sony announced on Tuesday that it is lowering the price of its 160GB PlayStation 3 console to $249, down from the console’s original $299 price tag. In addition, Sony will now sell the 320GB version of the PlayStation 3 for $299 instead of $349. The Japanese consumer electronics firm also dropped the price of the system in Japan and in Europe. The move is likely an effort to tackle Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console, which has been the best-selling console in the United States for past seven months according to the latest data from The NPD Group. Recent rumors have suggested Sony is already working on the PlayStation 4, which could launch as soon as next year to compete with Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox. More →
Google’s proposed acquisition of Motorola on Monday nearly overshadowed Motorola’s latest Android smartphone, the DEFY+. Like the original DEFY, the DEFY+ is water resistant, scratch resistant and dust proof. It is equipped with a 1GHz processor, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with MOTOBLUR, a 3.7-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, 2GB of internal storage and a 1,700 mAh battery. Motorola says the DEFY+ will be available in Asia, Europe and Latin America beginning in early fall, but we also suspect we’ll see a variant land on T-Mobile to replace the DEFY. Read on for the full press release. More →
Sony’ next-generation portable video game console will not launch in the U.S. until early 2012, Sony Executive Vice President Kazuo Hirai told The Associated Press on Thursday. Sony’s PlayStation Vita will become available later this year in Japan, but it will miss the all-important holiday shopping season here in the U.S. and in Europe as well. Some, such as Daiwa Securities Capital Markets analyst Koki Shiraishi, believe Sony’s sales will take a huge hit as a result. “That’s when you do half your year’s sales,” Shiraishi told the AP. “This is going to prove painful for Sony.” When it finally does launch next year, the PlayStation Vita will start at $249 for a Wi-Fi-only model and a 3G-equipped version will be available for $299. More →
HTC posted impressive second-quarter results on Friday noting that its profit of NT$17.52 billion was up 104% year-over-year and up 19% over the first quarter. The Taiwanese phone maker’s shipment total of 12.1 million devices during the quarter was up 24% year-over-year and 25% quarter-over-quarter. The company also noted that it shipped a total of 21.8 million devices during the first half of the year, a big jump from the 8.7 million it shipped during the first half of 2010. HTC noted that much of its growth came from the Americas, Europe and Asia. The average selling price of an HTC smartphone is currently $349, down from the average price of $359 last quarter thanks to new entry-level handsets. HTC expects its third quarter revenue to jump 10% quarter-over-quarter and 90% year-over-year, and plans to sell “around” 13.5 million handsets. Read on for a link to the PDF of HTC’s second quarter results.
Qualcomm said it expects to ship between 120 million and 125 million chips during the quarter ending in September, a figure that is lower than the 130 million units MLM Partners LLC analyst Tero Kuittinen expected the company to move. The lower projection hit Qualcomm in late trading on Tuesday when its stock price fell 3.8%. Qualcomm blamed the lower than expected forecast on a weak European economy and said that consumers there aren’t buying new phones as quickly. “Chip units for autumn are light,” Qualcomm chief financial officer Bill Keitel said during a conference call. “The blame likely lies in Europe. European inventory correction now seems to be a fact instead of a theory. We reduced a bit our forecast for how many new CDMA-based units would sell into Europe. The situation demands that we still be cautious.” The company also noted that it hopes to begin working with manufacturers to build its Snapdragon processor into tablets. That chip is mostly used in smartphones now and manufacturers such as Samsung and Motorola have instead used NVIDIA’s dual-core Tegra 2 chip to power Android tablets. More →
Research In Motion on Thursday announced some serious heat in the Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region — the BlackBerry maker said it recently added more than a million new subscribers in less than three weeks. “BlackBerry continues momentum across EMEA with 1 Million+ new subscribers added in less than 3 weeks,” RIM posted from its Twitter account. RIM no longer includes subscriber additions or totals in its quarterly earnings reports, but when it last did in the three-month period ending November 2010, the vendor had netted more than 5 million new subscribers for a total of just over 55 million. Last quarter, RIM said it shipped 13.2 million BlackBerry smartphones and 500,000 PlayBook tablets despite a very difficult quarter. More →
According to a new study published by Juniper Research, the value of near-field communications (NFC) purchases, mobile-sourced money transfers, and mobile payments for digital and physical goods, will reach $670 billion by 2015. That’s a substantial jump up from the $240 billion Juniper Research has pegged for the total value of mobile payments this year. The research firm said that during the next 18 months, 20 countries will begin deploying NFC payment systems and services; transactions from those services will be in the ballpark of $50 billion by 2014. Most recently, Google announced its Google Wallet and Google Deals services in the U.S., and the search giant has large retail partners on board, including Citi, Subway, Mastercard, Sprint, Macys, and Walgreens. The Far East and China, Western Europe, and North America are the largest mobile payment regions, and those areas “will represent 75% of the global mobile payment gross transaction value by 2015,” the report said. Read on for the full release from Juniper Research. More →
According to AllAboutPhones, Nokia will launch its first Windows Phone handsets in six European countries this year. Oddly, Finland will not be one of them. The Finnish phone maker has said that it plans to launch the new devices by Q4 2011, and the first six countries named include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands. If your country isn’t on that list, fear not. Nokia has said that it plans to launch as many as a dozen Windows Phones throughout 2012, some of which will pack dual-core processors. We’re looking forward to Nokia bringing its drop-dead gorgeous hardware to U.S. store shelves, too. More →
During the Mobile 2.0 Europe – openIDEAS conference in Europe this week, Rovio’s Peter Vesterbacka said that the smash hit game Angry Birds is now downloaded more than one million times per day. Rovio has said that before — in October 2010 the firm proclaimed that the Android version was downloaded 2 million times in 2 days — but it’s certainly a feat for that trend to continue 8 months later. Vesterbacka attributed the game’s runaway success to strong branding, but we also think it’s due to Rovio’s consistent game updates and continued drive to get the game on nearly every mobile platform, including iOS, Android, webOS, and soon Windows Phone. More →