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Apple forced to provide 2-year warranty in Australia

If there's one thing that is great about living in Australia - other than our crappy Internet - its our consumer laws. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking up warranty issues with Apple, something that the iPhone maker has gotten away with for years.

 

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Claims have pegged Apple with misleading consumers in respect to the details of faulty product replacement, refund and repair, the ACCC has hit Apple with a court order, which demands changes be made in Australia. The ACCC claims that Apple employees have been enforcing its own internal policies, which is a 14-day return and 12-month manufacturer warranty, versus those put in place by Australian law.

 

Apple will now offer a 24-month warranty in Australia, as well as beef up its repair and return policy. For those based in Australia, and consumers of Apple goods, this is a good win for consumers!

Don't expect Microsoft CEO news until 2014

Microsoft is currently narrowing down its short list of potential CEOs to take over after a tumultuous tenure of current CEO Steve Ballmer. There are only a handful of potential candidates that have the skillset and experience to lead the Redmond, Washington-based company, which has more than 100,000 employees worldwide.

 

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Ford CEO Alan Mulally was rumored to be a potential replacement, but Ford confirmed its CEO will lead the company through 2014. Meanwhile, Qualcomm COO Steve Mollenkopf was also a potential candidate, but Qualcomm announced Mollenkopf will be promoted to CEO as on March 4, 2014. Microsoft is reportedly looking for a replacement both internally and externally, and it's difficult to try and predict who will step in and lead one of the most powerful computer companies in the world.

 

In late August, Microsoft announced Ballmer would step down as acting CEO, which immediately put the rumor mill into overdrive. Over its 38-year history, Microsoft has only had two CEOs, founder Bill Gates and Ballmer, and the next CEO will have a very interesting task ahead - Microsoft is still a software giant, but has had trouble trying to break into the mobile market, and is adjusting to a cloud-based market.

Microsoft's Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 tablets are 'extremely popular'

The Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablet models are selling out and have been difficult to find this Christmas shopping season. The devices are selling out at the official Microsoft Store and Walmart.com, while a quick look at Amazon.com shows a small supply of the surprisingly popular tablets.

 

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It's plausible Microsoft released smaller shipments to retailers - or the devices are truly becoming popular - but we won't know until early 2014, when analysts are able to estimate sales numbers. Microsoft and the retailers aren't confirming shipment figures, so analyst groups will be left to estimate how the Microsoft tablets did against rival tablets.

 

Microsoft has found it difficult to compete with the extremely popular Apple iPad and Android-based tablets, but the Windows 8-powered devices are best suited to make a major impact in the enterprise. Meanwhile, analysts believe the Surface 2 tablets will continue to fight for market share in 2014, as Microsoft continues a massive marketing and advertising campaign.

Coby Electronics 32-inch HDTVs recalled after fire risk

Coby Electronics 32-inch flat screen HDTVs with the model number "TFTV3229" are being recalled due to potential fire risk, according to media reports.

 

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) confirmed there have been at least six reports of TVs overheating, emitting smoke, or igniting in small fires. No reported injuries related to the faulty TVs.The TVs were sold starting in August 2011 until November 2013 at Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, H.H. Gregg, Toys 'R' Us, ABC Warehouse, P.C. Richard and Son, Sears/Kmart, and Nebraska Furniture Mart.

 

Coby was a Chinese-based high-definition TV manufacturer that is known for selling low-cost, entry-level HDTVs that are drastically cheaper than rival models from Samsung, Sony, LG, Sharp, and other competing companies. Unfortunately, Coby USA is no longer in operation, so the retailers are handling the recall.

 

Visit the CPSC website to see if your Coby TV is currently being recalled.

Google, or Skynet? Google acquires robot maker Boston Dynamics

Is Google feeling festive, or is the Mountain View-based giant feeling a little T-101ish? Well, Google has acquired robotics engineering company Boston Dynamics, which is best known for its quadrupeds, and super-impressive robots.

 

 

We've already seen BigDog, a motorized robot that is capable of walking through ice and snow, the Cheetah - which is capable of running at 29 miles per hour, and a convincing humanoid known as Arnold Schwarzenegger PETMAN. We don't know the business side of the deal, or the exact amount of money it took to acquire the robot maker.

 

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We do know that a $10.8 million contract that the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had with Boston Dynamics would still be honored after it has been acquired by Google. Something else I find fishy, is that a year ago the Director of DARPA left the defense agency, moving to... Google. Now Google acquires a high-end robotics maker? Yeah... Skynet is getting closer, folks.

VIA files suit against Asustek over alleged misuse of trade secrets

Today VIA announced that it has filed suit against a subsidiary of Asustek as well as four of its employees over allegations of misappropriations of trade secrets. The civil lawsuit has been filed in the Taipei District Court with VIA seeking damages equating to $138 million US.

 

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The lawsuit states that misappropriation of VIA intellectual property related to USB technology occurred and names Asmedia Technology, Asustek, Asmedia Chairman Jerry Shen, Asmedia President Lin Chewei, and other Asmedia employees as those responsible for the misappropriation.

 

"As a long-time leader in IC design and technology innovation, VIA strongly believes in the importance of protecting intellectual property rights," commented Wenchi Chen, CEO of VIA Technologies, Inc. "In addition to protecting interests of VIA and our shareholders, the aim of this suit is to ensure our industry operates in a healthy market environment that fosters innovation and promotes fair competition."

Continue reading 'VIA files suit against Asustek over alleged misuse of trade secrets' (full post)

$7.85 million Las Vegas mansion is up for sale, accepts Bitcoins

There are some multimillionaires out there thanks to the digital currency, Bitcoin, but now you can purchase a $7.85 million Las Vegas home with Bitcoins. A casino owner who is now a commercial developer, is selling the Vegas home, accepting Bitcoins as payment.

 

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Jack Sommer said he thought of the idea to sell his $7.85 million mansion from his two sons, who make and trade Bitcoins. Sommer said: "The advantage is that we're expanding our market and adding some notoriety." The house itself sounds gorgeous, as it features marble from China, Iceland and Brazil, a full basement, staff quarters with Jacuzzis, and a secret garden. It also has 39 air-conditioning zones fed from a 120-ton cooling tower.

 

Back in January, Bitcoins were trading at $10, now they're trading at around $870. Transferring $7.85 million in Bitcoins, and then a flash crash happening a few days later, plummeting the real-world value of Bitcoins would hurt, a lot.

Ex-Google exec becomes new deputy director of USPTO

Michelle Lee, was an executive with Google, but is now the new Deputy Director of the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Lee was previously in charge of patents and patent strategy at the search giant, so this new job isn't too far from her previous position.

 

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Lee will be in the position at the USPTO in an interim position, with the former director of the USPTO, David Kappos, stepping down in February to pursue interests in the private sector, with Teresa Stanek Rea as the acting director since. Lee will now be the Deputy Director until the USPTO finds a permanent replacement, but there's no word on when this might happen.

Apple lands patent for curved touch displays, upcoming curved iPhone?

Apple has just landed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, under US Patent No. 8,603,574, which is for a "Curved touch sensor' that details a manufacturing technique that would make an accurate, curved touch surface, without deficiencies caused by substrate warping or deformation.

 

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The iPhone maker notes that current touch panel technologies are hard to work with, due to "desired thinness of the substrate and thin film". In order to escape these issues, Apple's newly awarded patent allows for a technique that deposits a conductive thin film over a flexible substrate, while it's in a flat state. AppleInsider reports: "Once the electrodes are in place, the substrate package is joined to a curved "forming substrate" and subsequently heated. The process results in a non-deformed curved touch sensor stackup with a thin film that benefits from the high-temperature anneal."

 

This should mean that we'll see a curved iOS-based device in the future, but how much longer will it be before we see it? Will it be the iWatch? Maybe a curved iPad? Most will expect a curved iPhone, to keep up with the Samsung Galaxy Round and LG G Flex smartphones.

Apple's iPad dominates the Japanese tablet market

It looks like Apple is taking control of Japan's tablet market, where its iPad and iPad mini slates make up six out of every ten tablets sold in the country, according to BCN, which measures electronic sales across the country.

 

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The top of BCN's list was the iPad Air, which was followed closely by the iPad mini. On BCN's charts, one variant of Apple's iPad was listed as first, second, fifth, eighth, ninth, and tenth place - total domination by the Cupertino-based giant. The slates on the top ten list that weren't built by Apple, were Google's Nexus 7 tablets (both the 2012 and 2013 editions).

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