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Google on Tuesday announced that more than 10 billion applications had been downloaded worldwide in its software store Android Market.

In a company blog post, Google said Android Market reached the milestone with a growth rate of one billion app downloads per month after app downloads hit 6 billion in July.

Partnering with some Android developers, Google also unveiled a ten-day celebration with a selection of apps for only 10 cents each day since Tuesday.

We can’t wait to see where this accelerating growth takes us in 2012,” said Eric Chu, director of Android developer ecosystem, in the blog.

Google has been gearing up to close the gap with Apple in the mobile market. Thanks to the broader availability of smartphones and tablets running Android, the software’s mobile market share is expected to be twice as Apple’s iOS in 2011, according to data from several research companies.

In July, Apple said app downloads had surpassed 15 billion in its App Store.


New Zealand already has lush rainforests and sandy beaches, bungee jumping and scuba diving, gourmet restaurants and lively night life, even a thriving tech community that has drawn investment from the likes of Peter Thiel. (Of course, they drive on the left side of the road, but hey no place is perfect).

Now the country has something else the rest of the world does not: Facebook’s new Timeline feature.

New Zealand is getting first crack at the major redesign of the profile page. Key to the decision: It’s English speaking and very far away from Silicon Valley.

That’s according to Sam Lessin, product director of Timeline, who told the New Zealand Herald: “We chose New Zealand to be first — and I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this — primarily because it is an English-speaking country…. It’s far away from our data centers, so we can monitor speed and performance.”

It may also have something to do with the country having about 4.4 million people, 2 million of whom are on Facebook.

And just how long will the rest of the world have to wait?

“We’re definitely taking our time with this one,” Lessin said. “It will give people a chance to get excited about what they can do with it.”

via LA times


Glittering in gold: Noomi looked stunning in a halterneck gown as she posed for photographers at the premiere

She chopped off all her hair and got multiple piercings to play the role of hacker Lisbeth Salander in the highly-anticipated American movie version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

But as Noomi Rapace attended the premiere of Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows last night, the 31-year-old actress looked worlds away from her gritty appearance in the upcoming film.

With her hair teased into a high ponytail, Noomi glittered in a stunning gold gown as she posed for photographers at the Westwood Regency Village for the event.

And there was no sign of the nose and ear piercings, or the thick black eyeliner Salander has become famous for through Stieg Larsson’s novel.

Noomi spoke recently about how she changed her appearance to play Lisbeth, adding that she didn’t take on the movie lightly.

She said: ‘When I stepped into Lisbeth Salander, and when she grew in me, I was prepping for seven months, I changed my body a lot and I was training a lot, and I took the license for a motorcycle, and I did all those piercings and cut my hair.

All star cast: Director Guy Ritchie, actors Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, and Robert Downey Jr.

Last night, Noomi was joined by her Sherlock Holmes co-stars including Robert Downey Jr. and Rachel McAdams at the premiere, along with director Guy Ritchie and his girlfriend Jacqui Ainsley.

Noomi stars as gypsy Sim in the movie sequel, and said recently that she was welcomed to the franchise by Downey Jr. and fellow lead actor Jude Law.

She said: ‘It’s kind of being the new girl in the class or something. You can feel that the whole team and everybody has something really good, so it’s like stepping into something where somebody else has made the hard work so you can just fly, in a way. So it’s been a great, fantastic journey.’


A court error on Friday offered a brief glimpse at information that Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics have tried to shield from the public during their high-stakes patent litigation.

The material appears to be less important for what it says about the companies than what it reveals about efforts to keep court proceedings secret.

In denying Apple’s bid to stop Samsung from selling its Galaxy smartphone and tablets in the United States, District Judge Lucy Koh’s ruling inadvertently included details she had intended to black out. The judge’s staff quickly realized the error, sealed the electronic document and posted a redacted version four hours later.

The fuller version, which Reuters obtained while it was publicly available, did not expose the technical inner workings of the iPad — or anything close. Rather, it contained internal company analysis about the smartphone market, as well as some details about Apple’s patent licensing relationships with other tech companies.

The lawsuit, which Apple filed in April in a San Jose, California, federal court, says Samsung’s Galaxy products “slavishly” copy the iPhone and iPad. The South Korean electronics maker says Apple’s arguments lack merit.

The case is scheduled for trial next year. The Friday ruling means Samsung can continue selling Galaxy products for now.

Sealing documents has become standard in intellectual property cases. Investors, academics and other observers have expressed concern that some judges too readily accede to litigants’ claims that documents contain trade secrets and must be kept private.

Judges have wide latitude in granting company sealing requests, and Koh has granted all of Apple and Samsung’s requests to keep documents secret in the case.

Some crucial legal briefs from both companies were kept entirely secret for months, and then released with redactions. After an inquiry from Reuters last week, Koh issued new guidelines so that redacted briefs become public much sooner.

Timothy Holbrook, an intellectual property professor at Emory Law in Atlanta who reviewed Koh’s Friday ruling at Reuters’ request, said there did not appear to be any trade secrets among the blacked-out portions.

“Most of it just seems like it was sealed out of an abundance of caution,” Holbrook said.

In an email on Monday, Koh declined to comment on a pending case. Representatives for Apple and Samsung also declined to comment.

SMARTPHONE, TABLET BATTLE

The California case is just one battleground in Apple and Samsung’s bruising legal war, which includes more than 20 cases in 10 countries as they jostle for the top spot in the smartphone and tablet markets.

Global tablet sales are expected to explode to more than 50 million in 2011. Apple, which has sold more than 30 million iPads so far, is expected to continue to dominate the market in the near term.

While Amazon.com has also entered the fray with its Kindle Fire tablet, Samsung’s Galaxy line-up is widely deemed the closest rival to the iPad in terms of capability and design.

In her 65-page ruling denying Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung, Koh attempted to redact nearly two dozen sentences or short fragments. But because of a formatting characteristic in the prior electronic version, the redacted material can be viewed by copying text from the PDF and pasting it into another document.

The version now available to the public cannot be viewed in such a manner.

According to the redacted portions, Apple’s own studies show that existing customers are unlikely to switch from iPhones to Samsung devices. Instead, the evidence suggests an increase in sales of Samsung smartphones is likely to come at the expense of other smartphones with Android operating systems, Koh wrote.

In arguing against the injunction, Samsung — which is also a huge components supplier to Apple — said Apple’s supply cannot keep up with market demand for smartphone products. Koh recounted the argument in the redacted portions of the ruling.

But Koh then called Samsung’s argument “dubious,” given rebuttal evidence presented by Apple regarding its ability to keep up with demand in the long term.

The redacted portions also refer to licensing deals that Apple struck with other high-tech companies over one of its key patents. Issued in December 2008, the patent covers the method of scrolling documents and images on Apple’s touch-screen devices.

Apple has already licensed the patent to IBM and Nokia, according to the ruling. A technology blog, The Verge, first reported this detail on Saturday; the blog said it had been shown two statements that were redacted from the ruling.

Scant information has previously been made available about Apple’s licensing deals with Nokia or IBM.

While Apple and Nokia publicly announced a patent settlement for an undisclosed sum in June, they did not divulge any specifics, except to say the agreement resolved all litigation between the companies and that Apple would make a one-time payment to Nokia and pay future royalties. At the time, the settlement was viewed as a victory for Nokia.

There appears to be no reference to any patent-licensing deal for mobile technology between IBM and Apple either in news archives or company regulatory filings.

“Apple doesn’t license much, and it could be that they don’t want people to know who the licensees are,” said Holbrook, the IP professor.

Representatives for IBM and Nokia did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Samsung was also offered a royalty license during negotiations with Apple in November 2010, the ruling says, five months before Apple wound up suing Samsung in the United States.

Apple has brought claims against Samsung based on design patents — which protect the look and feel of a device — and so-called “utility” patents, which cover engineering innovations.

A footnote in the ruling says “it does not appear” that Apple and Samsung discussed design patents during their negotiations that preceded the lawsuit.

Yet since much of Koh’s opinion covers design patents, the mistakenly released data does not reveal much about the inner workings of the technology, said Holbrook.

“There was nothing I saw that was shocking, just stuff that is not (otherwise) available to the public,” he said.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, 11-1846.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Carlyn Kolker in New York; Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington; Editing by Martha Graybow and John Wallace)

via reuters


Singapore rose two notches to sixth spot as the most expensive city in Asia after four Japanese cities and Seoul, owing to the strong Singapore dollar and a 5.7 per cent rise in the average price of goods and services.

Also, for the first time in at least 10 years, Singapore is deemed more expensive than Hong Kong, which turned up at ninth spot in terms of most costly locations in Asia, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey conducted by ECA International.

‘When we look at the overall cost of ECA’s basket of goods and services in Singapore a year ago, these items were 1.7 per cent less expensive in Singapore than when purchased in Hong Kong,’ says Mr Lee Quane, Regional Director, ECA International, Asia. ‘Now those same items are 8.5 per cent more expensive in Singapore than Hong Kong.’

Globally, Singapore has catapulted to 31st spot from 42nd a year ago while Japan, owing to the strong yen, retains its grip on the top spot as world’s most costly location. Hong Kong has dropped 26 places to 58th position in the global ranking – the largest fall of any city in Asia – despite the price of goods there having increased.


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has won the right to petition the UK Supreme Court in his fight against extradition to Sweden.

He lost a High Court battle last month to be extradited over alleged sex offences, which he denies.

Judges refused Mr Assange permission to appeal directly to the Supreme Court – but said his case raised “a question of general public importance”.

He can now directly ask the Supreme Court to look at his case.

However, Mr Assange, who was at the London court to hear the judges’ ruling, still has no automatic right to be heard by the highest court in the UK.

He was cheered by supporters as he left the Royal Courts of Justice and, alluding to an MPs’ debate later on calls for the renegotiation of extradition rules, he said there were “many aggrieved families in the UK and other countries and in Europe struggling for justice”.

Speaking of his own case, he said: “I think that is the correct decision, and I am thankful. The long struggle for justice for me and others continues.”


Just 20 years ago, they seemed consigned to the dustbin of history. At Sunday’s parliamentary polls, Russia’s communists drew students, intellectuals, even some businessmen in forging an opposition to Vladimir Putin’s wounded United Russia party.

The Communist Party (CPRF) for most Russians evokes images of bemedalled war veterans and the elderly poor deprived of pensions and left behind in a “New Russia” of glitzy indulgence. Large swathes of society have appeared beyond the reach of the red flag and hammer and sickle.

Until Sunday.

Not that the Communist Party’s doubling of its vote to about 20 percent presages any imminent assault on power. The memories of repression in the old communist Soviet Union, the labor camps and the regimentation are still too fresh for many. But vote for the Party they did, if perhaps with gritted teeth.

“With sadness I remember how I passionately vowed to my grandfather I would never vote for the Communists,” Yulia Serpikova, 27, a freelance location manager in the film industry, told Reuters. “It’s sad that with the ballot in hand I had to tick the box for them to vote against it all.”

For many Russians disillusioned by rampant corruption and a widening gap between rich and poor, the communists represented the only credible opposition to Putin’s United Russia.

Through all the turmoil of the early 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed, the party kept a strong national organization based on regions and workplace. With access to official media limited for the opposition, this has been a huge advantage.

Also the communists, ironically, benefited from the votes of some pro-Western liberals who saw little or no hope of kindred parties such as economist Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko clearing the seven percent threshold to enter parliament. Yabloko doubled their vote to 3.3 percent.

The vote for the communists, commanding a support base that guaranteed seats, would reliably count against United Russia. Votes cast for Yabloko, failing at the threshold, would be redistributed to the successful parties, most gallingly United Russia.

“Many people (40 percent) didn’t vote, simply saying there’s no-one to vote for and it’s all decided ahead of time,” said veteran commentator Vladimir Pozner said. “That’s a shame because if more had voted, Yabloko might have got in.”

In the end though Yabloko is too closely associated in the minds of many with the economic and social chaos of the 1990s.

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