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Konnichi-Whoops! Japanese City Accidentally Tweets About North Korean Attack

Konnichi-Whoops! Japanese City Accidentally Tweets About North Korean Attack

Today in international tech news: A Japanese city tweets about a North Korean attack that didn't actually happen; Google officially submits concessions to the European Union; Germany's Internet isn't as fast -- nearly as fast -- as advertised; and India's cheap smartphone market is growing a lot faster than its iPhone market.

The official Twitter page for the Japanese city of Yokohama announced that "North Korea has launched a missile."

This would be scary if true, but because it didn't actually happen, it's just kind of embarrassing.

The tweet, which was sent out to 40,000 followers, had been drafted in case, you know, North Korea actually did attack. It had blank spaces to indicate the time of the rocket launch.

The city deleted the tweet and apologized to its followers.

The tweet shows the angst in Japan over the increasingly erratic behavior of North Korea, which has been on a threat binge in recent weeks. Japan has assault missiles at the ready and sea-based interceptors in the Sea of Japan.

[Source: AFP]

Google Submits Concessions to EU

At long last, Google has submitted to European Union regulators a package of concessions that could help it settle -- without a fine -- a two-year antitrust investigation.

In December, the EU had set a January deadline asking for proposals from Google, which has been under investigation for abusing its market dominance in Europe and unfairly thwarting competitors. Google did indeed deliver proposals in January, but this week's offer of concessions could be a watershed in the investigation.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission concluded a similar probe earlier this year and ultimately ruled that Google did not manipulate search results to the detriment of consumers. The FTC's decision, however, does not necessarily mean anything for European competition regulators, who have a different stance on what, exactly, competition should entail.

Earlier this week, a coalition of companies formally complained to the EU that Google uses Android as a "Trojan Horse" to funnel users to its own sites.

In an effort to allay fears that it manipulates consumers into using its products, Google has offered to label its own services in search results, Reuters reported.

If the EU really laid down the law, as its has with Microsoft -- twice -- it could fine Google up to 10 percent of last year's revenue, which would amount to US$5 billion.

Lately, Google has had its fair share of litigation in Europe. Several countries, including Germany and France, have been discussing legislation that would force Google to pay for displaying snippets of news articles. Google was also part of a cohort of U.S. tech companies grilled by the UK over clever, if legal, tax practices.

[Source: Reuters]

German Internet: Slower Than Advertised

Germany's broadband service was called out in a government report Thursday for being too slow -- or at least too slow compared to speeds claimed by the providers.

In one of the largest studies of broadband service ever conducted, the Germany communications regulator measured 250,000 consumers from June to December. The results: A mere 15.7 percent of users with fixed telephone lines, and just 21 percent of those using mobile devices, reached advertised max speeds.

About 50 percent of users received Internet service that was half as fast as the advertised maximum.

The European Commission is reportedly working on a similar report that, according to sources cited by The New York Times, has much the same verdict: Slooooow.

[Source: The New York Times]

Galaxy, iPhone Trumped by Cheaper Devices in India

In India, cheap smartphones from companies such as Karbonn Mobile India and Micromax Informatics have an edge over Samsung and Apple smartphones.

Karbonn and Micromax have phones available for less than $75. This, according to Bloomberg, accounts for their popularity, which -- for now, anyway -- dwarfs Samsung and Apple devices.

The iPhone 4, for instance, is $490, a hefty price anywhere, but especially India.

India is expected to be the world's third-largest smartphone market by 2017.

[Source: Bloomberg]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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