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Huawei Founder Speaks

Huawei Founder Speaks

Today in international tech news: Huawei's founder speaks to reporters for the first time; Sony finally turns a profit; Facebook is in talks over another $1 billion acquisition; and Nokia releases new software to bolster cheaper devices and increase sales in emerging markets.

By David Vranicar
05/09/13 11:01 AM PT

Ren Zhengfei, the founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies, spoke to the media for the first time on Thursday.

Ren, formerly a member of the Chinese military, has been the focal point of Western skepticism toward Huawei -- which resulted in the company being barred from a broadband project in Australia, as well as being labeled as untrustworthy in a U.S. House Intelligence report, along with fellow Chinese telecom ZTE.

Ren's military connection has long been viewed as suspicious, even before a February report from U.S. security firm Mandiant labeled the Chinese military a serial hacker.

Ren's presser was in New Zealand, where Huawei won contracts to built ultrafast broadband networks and 4G LTE.

Though he claimed that Huawei is not at all connected to the cybersecurity issues plaguing the U.S., Ren didn't offer anything particularly startling or revealing.

Despite some problems in certain Western markets, Huawei is not hurting at the moment. It is the second-largest telecom in the world -- behind Ericsson -- and is also the No. 5 handset maker.

[Source: Reuters]

For 1st Time in Years, Sony Announces Profit

Sony on Thursday announced that it took home an annual profit, the first time in five years that the Japanese company has been in the black.

The net profit of US$458 million, for the financial year that ended in March, is being attributed to a) the company's frugality; and b) a plunge in the value of the yen. The company logged about $70 billion in sales.

Last year, the company reportedly lost more than $4 billion.

Some of Sony's belt-tightening came in the form of phasing out flat-panel TV manufacturing ventures with Sharp and Samsung; doing away with its chemical products business; and selling office buildings, including its $1.1 billion headquarters in New York City.

Having shed that dead weight, Sony has reason to be optimistic. Its Xperia Z smartphone was released in February to favorable reviews, and the PlayStation 4 videogame console is expected out this year.

[Source: The New York Times]

Facebook's Next $1 billion Acquisition?

Facebook is in "advanced talks" that could result in the purchase of Israeli mobile satellite navigation outfit Waze for between $800 and $1 billion.

Facebook purchased Instagram last year for roughly $1 billion, so such a move wouldn't be unprecedented for the social media giant. What's more, Facebook has been busy in Israel, having acquired Snaptu for $70 million in 2011, and for $60 in 2012.

Waze uses satellite signals from users' devices to create maps and traffic data, and then shares that data with others to create real-time traffic information.

Waze's leverage may have gone up in the time since talks began six months ago: Its user base tripled to 45 million in March alone.

[Source: Reuters]

Nokia Releases New Software

Finland-based Nokia has unveiled new software to run its Asha devices.

The software, which is an upgrade on the S40 program that powered 300 million phones sold in 2012, will allow users to "swipe" from screen to screen while doing more than one thing at once.

Nokia's first quarter mobile phone sales were 11 million short of projections; basic handset sales were down 21 percent.

The new software, which will be available on the yet-to-be-released Asha 501, will give Nokia's cheaper handsets some new flare, which the company is hoping will bolster sales in emerging markets. The software will bring the Asha more in line with the more expensive Lumia line.

[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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