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Friday, October 14, 2005 - Serving Clark County, Washington - Serving Clark County, WashingtonSamsung Profit Slumps on Price-Fixing Fine
Oct 14, 6:12 AM EDT
AP Business Writer

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- A hefty, multi-million dollar price-fixing fine and lower chip prices took a big bite out of Samsung's third-quarter earnings, with net profits plunging 30 percent from the same period the year before, the South Korean company said Friday.

Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest memory chip maker and a major consumer electronics firm, said it earned 1.88 trillion won, or $1.8 billion, in the three months through Sept. 30, down from 2.69 trillion won in the same period a year earlier.

The results for South Korea's biggest company by market capitalization were worse than expectations. A survey of 10 analysts by Dow Jones Newswires predicted Samsung's profit would total 1.97 trillion won ($1.89 billion).

The earnings result came a day after U.S. federal officials in Washington said Samsung will pay a US$300 million (euro250 million) fine to settle accusations it secretly conspired with industry rivals to fix prices and cheat customers.

Samsung Senior Vice President Chu Woosik told investors on a conference call in Seoul on Friday that net profit would have been higher were it not for setting aside about 200 billion won ($192 million) to pay the fine. The company last year already set aside $100 million.

"If you exclude that, net profit would have gone over 2 trillion (won)," he said.

Sales during the quarter rose 1.4 percent to 14.54 trillion won ($13.94 billion) from 14.34 trillion won a year earlier, the company said.

Prices for Samsung's mainstay businesses - chips, mobile phones and liquid crystal displays used in computer monitors and televisions - peaked in the first half of last year. Profit margins in the industry have since been eroded by a global oversupply of dynamic random access, or DRAM, chips and LCDs, and stiffer competition in the mobile phone business.

Samsung is the world's biggest producer of DRAM and NAND flash memory chips. It is the second-largest semiconductor maker after Intel Corp. and is also one of the largest makers of LCDs along with domestic rival LG.Philips LCD Co.

DRAM chips are most widely used in personal computers, while NAND flash chips are used in electronic devices such as MP3 players and digital cameras.

Prices of DRAM chips fell 35 percent from the same quarter last year, while those for NAND dropped 50 percent, according to industry analysts.

From the previous quarter, however, Samsung said the declines were far less, with DRAM prices down just 3 percent and those for NAND 19 percent lower, helping net profit gain 11 percent from the second quarter.

That and expectations of continued strong demand for flash memory chips used in products like Apple Computer Inc.'s hot-selling iPod digital music player made Samsung officials optimistic about the future.

"We see very strong momentum continuing in the NAND business," Samsung's Chu said.

While Samsung officials acknowledge supplying flash memory chips to Apple, they and the Cupertino, California-based company have remained mum on details, including how much and at what price.

The company, the world's third-largest maker of handsets after Nokia Corp. and Motorola Corp., said it sold a record 26.8 million mobile phones during the quarter, with Europe remaining its biggest market at 36 percent of the total, compared with 33 percent in the previous quarter.

"The handset market is expected to remain very strong," Chu said.

Samsung's guilty plea to a felony price-fixing charge caps a three-year investigation by the U.S. Justice Department into makers of the chips, a $7.7 billion market in the United States.

Samsung said in a statement the company "strongly supports fair competition and ethical practices and forbids anticompetitive behavior."

Two of Samsung's leading rivals - South Korea's Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and Germany's Infineon Technologies AG - earlier paid fines totaling $345 million and pleaded guilty to involvement in a scheme the government said boosted prices consumers paid for computers between 1999 and 2002.

Samsung Electronics shares closed unchanged Friday at 562,000 won ($538).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Apple iPod sets sights on video

BBC NEWS | Technology | Apple iPod sets sights on video Apple iPod sets sights on video
By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website

Apple has set its sights on conquering the world of portable video with the launch of a sound and vision version of its iconic iPod.

It is looking to build on the success of its digital music player, having sold 28 million music-playing iPods since 2001.

"Because millions of people around the world will buy this new iPod to play music, it will quickly become the most popular portable video player in history," said Apple boss Steve Jobs at the launch of the device.

But the computer maker is coming late to the world of video on the go. There are several media players available from Microsoft and its hardware partners, as well as gadgets from rivals Creative and Archos.

And the Japanese electronic giant Sony recently entered the fray with its PlayStation Portable (PSP), which sports a large screen to play films on its UMD discs.

"Sony has the design skills to match its devices and, the PSP, with its added gaming appeal, could rival Apple," said Salman Momen, technology analyst at Capgemini.

Question of content

So far, portable video players have failed to make much of an impact. Many of the devices have been bulky and getting TV shows or films onto them has often proved frustrating.

While there are dozens of legitimate online music services, finding portable video is another story. Most video online is streaming media which means it cannot be downloaded, and copy protection on DVDs makes it hard to transfer the content to a portable player.

This is video as a feature on an iPod. When Apple are ready to do video, you will see something more complete and more video-focused
Nate Elliott, Jupiter Research
Instead many have turned to illegal file-sharing sites, where thousands trade copies of popular TV shows and Hollywood blockbusters.

Apple is addressing some of these shortcomings by providing more than 2,000 music videos through its popular iTunes online music store.

The deal with ABC and Disney means it can offer legal downloads in the US of TV hits like Lost and Desperate Housewives for $1.99 a day after the shows air.

"This is a learning process for Apple," said Nate Elliott, digital home analyst at Jupiter Research. "There is no mass market for portable video today and they understand that.

"That market will exist at some point in the future. It is never a bad idea to start learning about the technology and how consumers want to use video on the go, and start the relationships with the content providers."

"This isn't a video device," insisted Mr Elliott. "This is video as a feature on an iPod. When Apple are ready to do video, you will see something more complete and more video-focused. "

Familiar feel

The new iPod is thinner than previous models and sports a 2.5 inch (6.35cm) colour screen that is 320 by 240 pixels in size.

In the UK the 30GB version should cost £219 ($299 in the US) and the 60GB version £299 ($399).

"It is the first step towards what will become a proper portable video player but it is not there yet," said Graham Barlow, editor of MacFormat magazine.

"Ideally I would have liked a screen the size of the PSP. But Apple have kept the look and feel of the iPod and the screen is big enough to watch TV programmes on."

"As soon as you hold it, you have this feeling 'I want one of these', especially with the black one. The next step is to come out with different colours, especially for the female market," said Mr Barlow.

As well as launching the new iPod, Apple has also unveiled a new iMac G5 computer. It comes with a remote control and a software package called Front Row to let people use the machine as a digital entertainment hub in the home.

"For the iPod generation, the flexibility of being able to watch TV programmes on their own terms means broadcasters need to rethink what we do," said the BBC's head of new media, Ashley Highfield.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Apple unveils video iPod, new iMac | CNET

Apple unveils video iPod, new iMac | CNET

By John Borland

Story last modified Wed Oct 12 10:12:00 PDT 2005

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Apple Computer on Wednesday unveiled its long-rumored video iPod, as well as a new iMac and an updated version of iTunes that lets users buy music videos, TV shows and movies.

The iPod has "been a huge hit for us, so it's time to replace it," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said as he showed off the new video-capable MP3 player at an event here. "Yes, it does video."

The music players, which come in black or white with a 2.5-inch screen, will be available in a 30GB model for $299 and a 60GB version for $399. The new devices hold up to 15,000 songs, 25,000 photos or more than 150 hours of video, Apple said.
Apple products

Jobs kicked off the event by revealing a new iMac G5 desktop computer that will be similar to the current model but thinner. The 17-inch 1.9GHz goes for $1,299; the 20-inch 2.1GHz model is $1,699. The iMacs will come with a built-in, Webcam-style iSight camera with still and video capabilities, and a new Apple remote that lets consumers control music, photos and video from 30 feet away.

At the gathering, Jobs used the tiny white remote control like an oversize iPod Shuffle to play a Black Eyed Peas video and an "Incredibles" DVD and also to play home movies and photos.

The new lineup of features for iMac and iPod finally point the company more directly at the living-room space that Microsoft has attempted to carve out with its Media Center edition of Windows. Jobs introduced the iMac's new remote control and multimedia functions, called Front Row, saying they would enable people to experience music, video and photos "from the sofa."

However, the differences between the two platforms remain striking. Media Center PCs plug directly into a television or a television input device such as a cable TV box, allowing the devices to record television shows much like a TiVo digital video recorder, for example.
Some details behind Apple's announcement
Following the announcement of new iMacs and a video-capable iPod, CNET responds to some questions.

Many of today's Macs (and the new iPod) have a TV-out connection, but not a TV-in connection. Jobs highlighted only the ability to watch video on the iMac and iPod, without mentioning watching the programming on a television.

Indeed, for now, the video highlighted by Jobs is best suited for small screens, although Apple's software enhances the quality significantly for watching on a large screen. The 320-by-240 resolution can be expanded for a full-screen LCD (liquid-crystal display) TV or computer monitor, but will not have the quality of a DVD.

The cost of content
Then there's cost. With the new version of iTunes, unveiled five weeks after the debut of iTunes 5, consumers can buy non-burnable music videos for $1.99.

Tim Deal, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said he's unsure how consumers will take to the per-video cost.

"While I can appreciate the cool factor of portable video content, the price is a little difficult to digest," he said. "I think consumers are accustomed to seeing music videos for free from services such as Yahoo Launch and Comcast On Demand. Apple should give the videos away and charge for exclusive content only.
Related video
Steve Jobs shows off iPod with video
Music videos, Pixar short films and ABC TV shows to be sold on iTunes.

"This will, however," Deal added, "be a real boon for video podcasting and provides another distribution channel for independent content."

In addition to music videos, consumers will be able to purchase TV shows one day after their initial broadcast. Offerings will include ABC television's "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" and the Disney Channel's "That's So Raven." It will take 10 to 20 minutes to download an episode, Jobs said. Each will cost $1.99 and will be ad-free.

Disney Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger took the stage with Jobs to introduce the sales of Disney- and ABC-owned TV shows through iTunes.

"We believe this is a breakthrough," Iger said. "This provides a great opportunity for consumers to stay connected to their favorite programs."

Six short films from Pixar Animation Studios also will be available for $1.99 each.

Apple last week sent invitations that included the words "One more thing..." Wednesday's announcements took place at the California Theatre, where Apple introduced the U2 iPod and the first color-screen iPod Photo last year.

The video iPod arrives just one month after Apple unveiled its pencil-thin iPod Nano. Company executives said Tuesday that demand for the Nano is strongly outstripping Apple's ability to supply the flash-memory-based music players.

Still a music machine
While highlighting the new iPod's video features, Jobs appeared careful to stress several times that it was still fundamentally a music-playing device, with video features added as a "bonus."

The careful language may have been aimed at avoiding a repeat of the introduction of the Photo edition of the iPod, which was not initially a top seller despite the addition of the color screen and photo features.

However, Jobs did show a new iPod ad, focused wholly on the new video features, with the tagline "Watch your music."

Sam Bhavnani, an analyst at Current Analysis, noted that the appeal of video is more limited than music. "You can't use it when running. You can't use it while working. You can't use it while driving," he said. However, downloading a TV show to use on an airplane flight, for example, will appeal to some consumers.

Apple "did a small step," Bhavnani said. "It doesn't take Einstein to know the next step is more shows. Maybe ultimately you get to where the next 'Toy Story' is going to be downloaded through iTunes."

Apple's video device isn't the first to hit the market. Studios currently market a handheld computer in Japan called the Type U that can be used to watch videos. Consumers can also watch movies (with a tiny Universal Media Disc) on the PlayStation Portable.

Intel and Microsoft designed a portable media player in 2002 that some manufacturers brought to market last year. (First it was known as Media2Go and later as the Portable Media Center.) In addition, Samsung and others have released phones that can receive TV signals, thereby allowing commuters to watch shows on their cell phones.

So far, though, portable video hasn't been a big seller. The screens on these devices are far smaller than those on TVs. Video also can sap battery life. Watching TV over cellular signals, some Korean consumers have found out, can rack up high bills. (New versions of the cell-phone televisions use a TV tuner card, rather than deliver TV over the cellular network.)

Sony executives, though, recently said sales of Universal Media Disc movies for the PSP are a little better than expected.

CNET's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

BBC NEWS | Business | IPod helps Apple quadruple profit

BBC NEWS | Business | IPod helps Apple quadruple profit IPod helps Apple quadruple profit
Apple has quadrupled its quarterly profits, thanks to global sales of more than 6.5 million of its iPod music players over the past three months.

Its net profits for its fiscal fourth quarter rose to $430m (£246m), or 50 cents per share, up from $106m for the same period last year.

This beat market expectations of 36 cents a share, but quarterly turnover disappointed investors.

Although revenues rose 56% to $3.68bn, analysts had expected $3.74bn.

As a result, Apple's shares fell in after-hours trading in New York.

More iPods

Apple, which recently launched its new super-small iPod Nano, has three quarters of the entire global digital music player market.

During the fourth quarter Apple also sold 1.2 million of its Macintosh computers, a year-on-year rise of 48%.

Sales of iPods were up 220%, also compared to the same period a year earlier.

"We're thrilled to have concluded the best year in Apple's history," said Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive.

"This is the direct result of our focus on innovation and the immense talent and creativity at Apple. We could not be more excited about the new products we're working on for 2006."

According to media speculation, Mr Jobs may on Wednesday launch yet another new version of the iPod, this time a model that can play videos.
Story from BBC NEWS:

NPR : Microsoft, Real Networks Settle Antitrust Case

NPR : Microsoft, Real Networks Settle Antitrust CaseMicrosoft, Real Networks Settle Antitrust Case

Listen to this story...

by Wendy Kaufman

All Things Considered, October 11, 2005 · Microsoft agrees to pay Real Networks $760 million in cash and other benefits to settle a long-running antitrust suit. The two companies also plan a partnership in digital music and games. Real is the maker of the Rhapsody music service.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

DirecTV introducing new DVR tomorrow - Engadget -

DirecTV introducing new DVR tomorrow - Engadget - www.engadget.comDirecTV introducing new DVR tomorrow

Posted Oct 9, 2005, 2:42 PM ET by Peter Rojas
Related entries: Home Entertainment

It’s the day TiVo hoped would never come: tomorrow DirecTV is launching a $30 million advertising campaign to introduce its new in-house digital video recorder, the R15 DirecTV Plus DVR. The DVR, which should be available before the end of the month, will be able to record up to 100 hours of programming and will cost $5.99 a month (which is the same as what they’re charging for DirecTV with TiVo); a version capable of recording HDTV should be available sometime in the middle of next year.

You’ll still be able to get DirecTV with TiVo until an agreement between the two companies runs out in early 2007, but DirecTV has already stopped all marketing TiVo to its subscribers (if you want it, you have to ask) and will almost certainly do their damnedest to convince as many people as possible to sign up for their DVR rather than for TiVo’s (dropping the monthly price a bit would probably help). This doesn’t by any means spell the end of TiVo. DirecTV users account for only a small percentage of the company’s overall revenue — they’re only making about a buck a month off of every DirecTV with TiVo subscribe, which is way less than they’re making from standalone subscribers — but this arrangement did help them pump up their subcriber base in a pretty significant way. They better hope their deal with Comcast gets rolling right quick. - Good news for USA: MS Smartphone with built-in Wi-Fi coming to T-Mobile USA - Good news for USA: MS Smartphone with built-in Wi-Fi coming to T-Mobile USAGood news for USA: MS Smartphone with built-in Wi-Fi coming to T-Mobile USA
October 09, 2005 [MS Smartphone]
While previously some websites were claiming that certain Windows Mobile phones are coming to T-Mobile USA already in October, lately they changed the song and claim that these devices will come early next year (2006) - due to problems with Windows Mobile 5.0. These claims however were/are based on undisclosed sources from T-Mobile USA and cannot be considered anything more than rumors or can be viewed as a "sensationalism directed at attracting more visitors to the website".

Now however some real proof is available: at the website of American type approval organization - FCC - this smartphone with "T-Zones" (typical for T-Mobile) button appeared:

... and yes, it has Wi-Fi as you can see at the following screen shot:

Some highlights about this phone:

* display of high resolution: 320x240 pixels
* powered by Windows Mobile 5.0 for smartphone
* cellular: quad-band GSM - both American and both European bands supported
* Bluetooth 1.2
* Wi-Fi 802.11b
* EDGE (apart from GPRS)
* mini-USB connector (industry standard!)
* mini-SD memory card slot

The FCC testing documentation and user manuals are available here. Since FCC servers are slow, we have place a copy of this user manual on our server here (size: 3.52 MB, format: PDF).

Conclusions: while T-Mobile was releasing in Europe Windows Mobile phones under its own brand, in USA T-Mobile was rather selling other brands (like HP). It looks however that it will change and excellent Windows Mobile phones, also such as the one mentioned in this story, will be coming soon to USA too! Built-in Wi-Fi means that this phone will not only be able to use Skype but also other cellular-Wi-Fi voice solutions.

Please note: assuming enough processing power in a given device, Skype voice calls are working fine both with EDGE and UMTS - we have tested it already. They work also with CDMA-EVDO but not with GPRS. However still Skype works the best with Wi-Fi ... so having a smartphone with built-in Wi-Fi really is essential - not just for free and fast Internet browsing and file exchange...