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Apple's Language Lapse Irks Hong Kong iTunes Users

Apple's Language Lapse Irks Hong Kong iTunes Users

Today in international tech news: Apple may have irked some Hong Kong users when its newly-launch iTunes store displayed song titles in a language other than Cantonese. Also: Google and Italy reach a deal that will bring newsreels and propaganda from Mussolini to the Web; and Facebook lays down a big investment in a 6,200-mile underwater Internet cable in the Pacific.

By David Vranicar
07/06/12 8:53 AM PT

Apple, which recently launched iTunes in a handful of Asian countries, may have upset some first-time Hong Kong users by listing song titles in the language used in mainland China, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Many songs were listed in Mandarin pinyin, which is a system of transcribing Chinese characters into Latin script. This is potentially problematic because in Hong Kong, the main spoken language is Cantonese.

The snafu, however, transcends a linguistic headache for customers. For months, tensions have been escalating between Hong Kong -- which was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 -- and Beijing. Last week, for instance, an estimated 400,000 Hong Kong protestors took to the streets to protest China's increased role in Hong Kong.

Language is a frequent manifestation of this friction. According to the Journal article, Hong Kong residents were upset recently when the city's leader gave a speech in Mandarin. Another language issue arose when a clothing store used simplified Chinese characters -- not the traditional ones which pervade Hong Kong -- on its tags. [*Correction - July 6, 2012]

Google, Italy Reach Deal on Mussolini Content

Google and the Italian government have reached a deal that will allow Google to post 30,000 Italian newsreels and documentaries about Benito Mussolini, the country's former fascist dictator, according to The Guardian.

Google, which has a YouTube channel dedicated to the Italian footage, wants the material as part of its ongoing plan to make world history and culture accessible on the Web.

A core component of Google's haul includes short films that were used a propaganda for Mussolini, who was assassinated in 1945.

Google has already digitized a wealth of historic materials, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, images from a Holocaust museum in Israel and more than 30,000 pieces of art.

Apple Prepping to Map China

Apple has tapped Chinese electronic navigation maker AutoNavi Holdings to provide map services for iPhone and iPad users in China, according to Bloomberg.

Apple's iOS 6 operating system, an upgrade for iPhones and iPads scheduled for release this fall, will use maps supplied by the Beijing-based AutoNavi. Last month, Apple unveiled its own mapping tool, which supplanted Google Maps, so the partnership figures to bolster that effort.

AutoNavi agreed to a joint venture with navigation device maker TomTom. Last month, TomTom, based in the Netherlands, struck a licensing agreement with Apple.

In the first quarter of this year, AutoNavi accounted for 45 percent of China's mobile map market, according to Bloomberg. Its stock has climbed 32 percent this year.

Facebook Antes Up for Pacific Cable

Facebook is investing in the Asia Pacific Gateway, an enormous underwater Internet cable, in an attempt to boost Internet speeds in Asia, according to Tech In Asia.

The cable will stretch more than 6,200 miles, from Malaysia to Japan, with cables branching off into various countries in the region, according to the article. It is slated to be operational by the summer of 2014 and is expected to boast 54.8 terabit-per-second capacity.

A Facebook spokesperson is quoted in the Tech In Asia article stating the cable will foster Asian growth for the company.

*ECT News Network editor's note - July 6, 2012: The original version of this article stated that the language issue arose when the clothing store used traditional Chinese characters, rather than the simplified characters used in Hong Kong. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported that the store was using simplified Chinese characters, rather than the traditional characters used in Hong Kong.

Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at

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