Schmidt Talks N. Korean Web Access; Nokia Sells 4.4M Lumias; China Mobile’s iPhone?

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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:

By Stephanie Mlot, PCMag


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