Early China Launch Heads Off iPhone Smugglers at the Pass
Today in international tech news: The timing of Apple's U.S. and Chinese iPhone releases could complicate China's thriving smuggled-iPhone market; a high-tech vacuum cleaner prompts a patent lawsuit against Samsung; Australia launches a trial period to see if state employees can handle social media; and Netflix hits the Netherlands.
Smugglers who have long taken advantage of delays in Apple product releases in China will have a harder go of it when the company launches its newest iPhone models.
The devices, the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, will be launched almost simultaneously in the U.S. and China. This will complicate the practice of smuggling products into mainland China from Hong Kong, which people have long done to create a gray market that nets billions of dollars annually.
Typically, Apple devices go on sale in Hong Kong before they go on sale in China. This is owed, at least in part, to Beijing's lengthy approval process for all wireless devices. The iPhone 5, for instance, went on sale in the U.S. last September; it didn't receive formal approval in China until December.
Should Apple ink a much-discussed (but still not official) deal with China Mobile, the nation's (and world's) largest wireless carrier, it could further erode the market for smuggled devices because China Mobile's smartphones are heavily subsidized.
Samsung Vacuum Cleaner Picks Up Patent Lawsuit
Someone thinks they have dirt on Samsung.
Dyson, a UK-based manufacturer, is suing Samsung for patent infringement relating to -- of all things -- vacuum cleaners. The dispute stems from last week's IFA tech show in Berlin, at which Samsung unveiled a "Motion Sync" vacuum cleaner. Dyson is crying foul, alleging that the machine infringes a company patent, originally filed in 2009, for a steering mechanism for cylinder cleaners.
Samsung denies wrongdoing, but Dyson, which has issued legal proceedings in the UK, has dubbed it a "cynical rip-off," adding that with all of Samsung's many patent lawyers, it's difficult "not to believe that this is a deliberate or utterly reckless infringement" of the company's patent.
The patent in question describes a way for the device to spin quickly from one direction to another, and to follow the person's path instead of being dragged along. Dyson says the system took three years to develop and has already been used in two company models.
In 2009, a judge ordered Samsung to pay Dyson nearly US$1 million in legal costs after Dyson challenged Samsung's attempt to patent a technology already in use in Dyson products.
Aussie Tax Office Launches Trial for Workplace Facebooking
The Australian Taxation Office will launch a trial to see if state employees can handle having workplace access to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter at the office.
The ATO said that it trusts workers not to abuse their new access, which comes in the form of a wireless network that, for the first time, allows access to popular social media sites. The trial will be for 170 of the ATO's 24,000 employees.
Access to pornographic sites and sites suspected of containing malware or spam will still be banned. The ATO will also monitor data usage volumes.
The current prohibition is not entirely about wasting time, but also potential PR problems. Last year, a tax office worker used a satirical Twitter account to mock an anti-porn activist. Before that, an Immigration Department official was fired for posting inappropriate material on her Twitter account.
[Source: The Age]
Netflix Launches in the Netherlands
Netflix has launched in the Netherlands and is offering its film and video streaming for 7.99 euros a month, or about $10.60.
Netflix first announced a potential Netherlands launch in June, adding another country to the company's growing European base. Last fall, Netflix launched in Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark; it launched in the UK in January 2012. It is also available in a handful of South American countries.
[Source: The Next Web ]