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Schmidt Talks N. Korean Web Access; Nokia Sells 4.4M Lumias; China Mobile’s iPhone?
Topping tech headlines on Thursday, Google chief Eric Schmidt spent the week in North Korea, trying to persuade officials to allow more access to Internet and cell service.
Schmidt and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson made the controversial trip as part of a “private humanitarian mission.” During a meeting with press in Beijing, Schmidt said he had concerns that the country will fall behind if it doesn’t loosen its restrictions. New leader Kim Jong-un has blocked a majority of the population from the Web for fear that outside information will enter the sheltered country.
In other news, Nokia got a boost from fourth-quarter holiday shopping, reporting better-than-expected sales and revenues, thanks in part to its Lumia smartphones. The Finnish company sold 4.4 million Lumia 820 and 920 Windows Phone 8-based handsets, up from the 2.9 million shipped in the third quarter. In total, preliminary figures place Nokia’s net sales at 3.9 billion Euros ($5.1 billion).
Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook met on Thursday with China Mobile’s chairman to reportedly discuss the possibility of a future partnership.
Snagging China Mobile would be a huge win for Cupertino, which already has deals with China Unicom and China Telecom — the country’s second and third largest mobile carriers. The iPhone 5 fared well in Asia, selling more than 2 million units within the first two days of its launch. But this week’s rumors that Apple will unveil a cheaper, slightly modified smartphone for emerging countries like China have been quashed by the company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller. He reportedly told a Chinese-language newspaper on Thursday that “despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products.”
Also making headlines Thursday:
- Celeb-Backed Headphones Invade CES 2013: Reality stars, sports figures, and accomplished rappers alike are all hawking new audio gear.
- Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Launches Space Flight Contest: NASA legend Buzz Aldrin kicks off a contest that promises to send 22 lucky winners into space.
- Exclusive: Google Play and Amazon Not Safest Android App Stores: According to mobile security firm TrustGo, the Google Play and Amazon App stores are not the safest places from which to download applications.
- SpaceX Aiming for Manned Mission in 2015: Demonstration flight to low-Earth orbit would use private space firm’s own employees as astronauts, aimed at showing NASA that SpaceX can safely ferry astronauts to the ISS.
- The Weirdest Thing I Saw at CES 2013: There was a lot of weird stuff at CES this year, but nothing weirder than this pet health diagnostic tool powered by extraterrestrials.
- FCC Comes Down on Phone Companies for Derecho 911 Outages: The FCC reported that widespread outages and disruptions to 911 services following June’s “derecho” wind storm could have been avoided.
- Netflix Offers Super HD, 3D Streaming to ‘Open Connect’ ISPs: Netflix this week offered partner ISPs the option to stream in Super HD or 3D when they join the company’s Open Connect program.
- 3 Major U.S. Carriers Confirm BlackBerry 10 Devices: Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have confirmed that they will carry BlackBerry 10 devices, which are set to launch Jan. 30.
- Amazon AutoRip Offers Digital Copies of Purchased CDs: Amazon today announced a new service that will provide customers who purchase physical CDs with a cloud-based MP3 backup of the music via Amazon Cloud Player.
- California AG Issues Mobile App Privacy Suggestions: California Attorney General Kamala Harris continues to fight the mobile privacy war with new recommendations for app developers.
- Supercomputer Watson Gets Mouth Washed Out With Digital Soap: Supercomputer Watson has proven itself more than just smart; turns out it’s a bit of a smart alec, too.
By Stephanie Mlot, PCMag