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Google Targets Africa With Email-to-SMS Tool

Google Targets Africa With Email-to-SMS Tool

Today in international tech news: Google adapts Gmail so low-tech phones in Africa can receive and send emails in the form of text messages. Also: Apple is forced to run an "advertisement" clarifying that Samsung did not, after all, copy the iPad design; the judge in the Kim Dotcom extradition case quits after calling the U.S. an "enemy"; an expert weighs in on just how much money Microsoft might have to pay the EU.

By David Vranicar
07/19/12 8:22 AM PT

Google has launched a new service called "Gmail SMS," a version of its Gmail email service, for users in Africa.

This text message-based version of Gmail, currently available in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, is designed for phones that cannot access the Internet and that have only the most basic features, according to the BBC.

Google SMS works by forwarding emails to phones in the form of a text message. Users can then directly reply to that email via text, with the correspondence then filed away in Gmail's conversation format.

Gmail SMS is part of Google's continued growth in Africa. The company has launched educational programs there and will be streaming action from the London Olympics on YouTube in multiple Africa countries.

Apple's Advertisement Punishment

Apple has been ordered to publish a notice in UK newspapers and on its British website telling people that Samsung didn't lift designs from the iPad, according to Bloomberg.

The notice, which Bloomberg equates to an advertisement for Samsung, will be posted on Apple's UK webpage for six months.

Earlier this month, a UK judge ruled that Samsung had not infringed upon Apple's iPad design. The judge noted that Samsung's Galaxy tablet couldn't be mistaken for an Apple because it wasn't as "cool."

A Samsung lawyer accused Apple of making comments after that ruling which suggested Samsung had copied the iPad design, according to Bloomberg.

Apple lost another UK case, this one against HTC, revolving around the iPhone's slide to unlock feature.

Judge Quits Kim Dotcom Case

The New Zealand judge overseeing the extradition case of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has stepped down following comments that suggested partiality, according to The New Zealand Herald.

The judge referred to the United States, which has made the extradition request for Dotcom, as the "enemy," according to the Herald. He made the comments at an Internet conference while discussing copyright issues.

Dotcom is wanted on copyright violation in the U.S., where he faces fines of up to US$500 million stemming from his wildly popular file-sharing site Megaupload.

The extradition case has been a mess from the get-go. Hearings were slated to begin this summer, but U.S. officials have pushed it back to March 2013. That delay came after a New Zealand court ruled that the U.S. has used invalid warrants to raid Dotcom's New Zealand mansion in January.

Microsoft Fine Could Reach $7 Billion

The tab for Microsoft's failure to follow a 2009 order from the European Union could result in a $7 billion fine, according to an expert cited in The Register.

This week, Joaquin Almunia, the European Commission competition commissioner, said that Microsoft hadn't carried out its commitment to give users the option of choosing various Web browsers. Microsoft agreed in 2009 to offer users different browser choices as a way to avoid a fine. The company, however, has failed to comply.

Microsoft followed Almunia's comments with a prompt apology, but according to The Register, that might not be enough to avoid steep fines. The European Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU, may impose a fine of up to 10 percent of Microsoft's turnover. That could translate to $7 billion.

The Register quotes an expert who says that the EC is unlikely to have much sympathy for Microsoft given the company's ability to monitor compliance and the fact that no company has ever broken such a commitment to the EU.

In June, the EU upheld a $1 billion fine against Microsoft.


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 david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com



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