by Staff Writers
Brazzaville (AFP) Jan 30, 2012
Africa has its first handheld tablet to rival the iPad and similar western inventions, which went on sale in the Republic of Congo on Monday, its inventor Verone Mankou said Monday.
"We have set up a team and logistics to sell the tablet since Friday. Today, anyone can buy one," if they are in the main cities of the capital Brazzaville and the oil port of Pointe-Noire, the 26-year-old told AFP.
The tablet is called the Way-C - "the light of the stars" in a dialect of northern Congo. It measures 19 x 17 x 1.2 centimetres (7.4 x 6.7 x O.5 inches) and weighs 380 grammes (13.4 ounces) and has integrated Wi-Fi circuitry and a 4.0 GB memory.
"In technological terms, this tablet is equivalent to all those to be found on the market," said Mankou, referring to the US giant Apple's iPad and its competitors.
The Way-C was conceived in Congo, where it was first presented to the public in September 2011, but it is assembled in China, "for the simple reason that Congo has no factories and for price reasons," Mankou added.
His tablet will sell for 150,000 CFA francs (229 euros / 299 dollars), which the developer, who is also an advisor on new information technologies to the ministry of communication, considered "acceptable and relatively low, considering the technology used."
For the moment, the Way-C will be sold exclusively in Airtel Congo stores in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, a private mobile telephone company which is a subsidiary of the Indian group Bharti.
Mankou's firm, VMK, has cut a deal with Bharti. "With this company, we are also going to conclude a partnership to use 3G (mobile telephony), because the tablet only has an integrated wi-fi."
The financing of the project, launched in 2006, cost more than 80 million CFA francs (almost 122,000 euros), essentially provided by VMK. The tablet is planned to be marketed in 10 west African countries, and in Belgium, France and India from February 15.
Japan's Fujifilm seeks tie-up with Olympus
Fujifilm said it has formally proposed a link-up to Olympus' advisors, seeing synergies in the pair's medical operations, although it did not reveal details.
"Olympus has a very strong business in endoscopes while Fujifilm is a leading firm in the areas of X-ray image diagnosis and ultrasonic systems," said a Fujifilm spokesman.
Olympus is reportedly seeking a corporate alliance to shore up its finances after admitting covering up $1.7 billion in losses, and several Japanese and foreign firms including Sony have been mentioned as possible partners.
Photographic film was once the mainstay of Fujifilm's business but it diversified into other areas, including healthcare, with the advent of digital cameras.
Nonetheless it announced that its net profit plunged to 8.8 billion yen ($114 million) in the three months to December, down 51.4 percent from 18.1 billion yen a year earlier.
Fujifilm's third-quarter sales dropped to 451.25 billion yen from 462.63 billion in the previous year, and despite tight cost controls operating profit fell to 26.5 billion yen, down from 36.60 billion a year earlier.
The company revised down its forecasts for the full year to March, expecting to post a net profit of 28 billion yen.
Fujifilm reported a net profit of 63.85 billion yen in fiscal 2010.
The firm was for decades the main rival of Eastman Kodak, but the century-old US giant, which brought photography to the masses, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month as it succumbed to the market shift to digital.
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
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SciTechTalk: The smartphone debate
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 29, 2012
As modern smartphones begin to look more alike, there is one user preference difference that has kept phone design firmly in two camps: the keyboard - virtual or physical. All smartphones offer a virtual keyboard that pops up on screen for texting, e-mailing, entering Web searches and the like, but that doesn't satisfy all users, many of whom feel much more comfortable - and believe t ... read more
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