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Google opens e-book store in Kindle challenge

Google unveils new smartphone, the Nexus S
San Francisco (AFP) Dec 6, 2010 - Internet giant Google fielded a new champion on the mobile phone market battlefield on Monday, a "Nexus S" smartphone made by South Korea's Samsung. Google said the Nexus S, which comes nearly a year after the Nexus One, which was a critical success if not a huge commercial hit, is powered by the latest version of Google's Android mobile operating system, "Gingerbread." Google vice president of engineering Andy Rubin said the Nexus S would be the first Android device to ship with the new version of the Android platform, used by handset makers around the world. "Nexus S delivers what we call a 'pure Google' experience: unlocked, unfiltered access to the best Google mobile services and the latest and greatest Android releases and updates," he said.

The Nexus S will be available in the United States from December 16 from Best Buy stores and from December 20 at Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy retailers in Britain, Rubin said in a blog post. The Nexus S will be offered in the United States with a service plan from US wireless carrier T-Mobile or "unlocked," Rubin said. Unlocked Nexus S phones that can be linked to any telecom network simply by inserting SIM cards will be priced at 529 dollars while people opting for two-year service contracts with T-Mobile will get the gadgets for 199 dollars. The touchscreen Nexus S features a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, front and rear facing cameras and 16 gigabytes of internal memory. It is also equipped with near field communication (NFC) hardware that turns the device into a virtual wallet, allowing users to "tap and pay" for financial transactions.

NFC chips store personal data that can be transmitted to readers, say at a shop checkout stand, by tapping a handset on a pad. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said last month that he expects the tap-and-pay mobile technology to "eventually replace credit cards." Google launched the Nexus One in January of last year in a bid to challenge Apple's iPhone and the Blackberry from Canada's Research in Motion but closed its online store offering the device just four months later. "The year opened with a bang with Google launching Nexus One and it is going out with a bang with the launch of the Nexus S," said Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg. "The Nexus S will set the stage for what Android devices will look like in 2011." The Nexus line is becoming a product that demonstrates Google's vision of how smartphones can perform with Android software, according to the analyst.

"The Nexus S will be Android as Google meant it to be seen," Gartenberg said. "To that degree, the Nexus One was a success; it was a place where you could get a pure Google experience." The Nexus One didn't catch on with consumers but was a hit with software developers and other technophiles. The Nexus S "raises the bar" for other handset makers as Android-based smartphones battle to wrest market share from rivals such as the iPhone and BlackBerry devices. It remains to be seen whether Google will face a backlash from electronics firms making handsets based on earlier versions of Android. Google gives open source Android software away for free to smartphone makers and "doesn't owe anything to anyone," Gartenberg said of the Nexus S competing with the company's handset partners. "This shows that Google is once again driving things forward as it sees fit; not waiting for a partner or carrier," the analyst added.
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Dec 6, 2010
Internet giant Google opened an online electronic bookstore on Monday in a heavyweight entry into a booming market long dominated by Kindle-maker Amazon.

Google eBookstore was being rolled out in the United States featuring the Mountain View, California-based company's massive library of digitized works online at books.google.com.

"We believe it will be the world's largest e-books library," said Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung. "Including the free books, there are more than three million."

Hundreds of thousands of digital books from leading publishers such as Macmillan, Random House and Simon & Schuster will be for sale in the eBookstore, which Google said will expand internationally next year.

Google e-books will be kept online in the Internet "cloud" and be available for reading from any Web-linked computer or using free applications on gadgets such as Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch or on smartphones running Google's Android software.

Digital books sold through the eBookstore can be read on the Sony Reader, the "Nook" from Barnes & Noble and other dedicated e-readers but not on the popular Kindle from Amazon.

Google believes that most people will prefer to log in and read their books online from whichever gadget is most convenient at a given moment, in a manner similar to the way people check Web-based Gmail accounts.

"You will be able to store the books in a library in the cloud and use your Google account to access them from anywhere using the Internet," Hornung said. "It will be a page-turning experience with flowing text."

"I believe that years from now we will buy e-books from any bookstore, keep them all in a virtual bookshelf, and read them on any device," said James Crawford, engineering director for Google Books. "This moment is the beginning of that vision."

Independent bookstore Powell's, online book shop Alibris and the American Booksellers Association are among launch-day partners that will sell Google digital books.

Titles sold at the eBookstore will range from hot new works such as those featured on The New York Times bestseller lists to technical books with "image support" for graphics on virtual pages.

Google eBookstore prices will be "competitive" with the cheapest being free works already available in the firm's online library, Hornung said.

Google will team with book-lovers social website Good Reads as part of an effort to build an "affiliate network" of online locales where people will be able to buy its e-books.

Google has 4,000 publisher partners, with revenue from sales split based on individually negotiated deals.

"The idea is that you can buy e-books from a retailer of your choice and read them on devices you already own," Hornung said.

Google has digitized more than 15 million books from more than 100 countries and in more than 400 languages since its Google Books project launched in 2004.

Google is still awaiting a ruling by a US federal judge pondering the fate of a legal agreement with US authors and publishers that would clear the way for Google Books, a separate project from the Google eBookstore.

A sticking point in the settlement has been the fate of "orphan" works and copyrighted titles that are out of print. Such books won't be for sale at the eBookstore.

US spending on e-books is expected to total 966 million dollars this year, up from 301 million dollars last year, and to reach 2.81 billion dollars in 2015, according to market research firm Forrester.

The number of e-book readers with dedicated devices in the United States is expected to grow from 3.7 million at the end of last year to 10.3 million at the end of this year to 29.4 million in 2015.

A Forrester survey of e-book readers found that 35 percent read e-books on a laptop computer, 32 percent on Amazon's Kindle, 15 percent on Apple's iPhone, 12 percent on a Sony e-reader and 10 percent on a netbook computer.

Nine percent said they use a Nook e-reader from Barnes and Noble, nine percent said they use Apple's iPad, eight percent said they use some other e-reader and six percent said they use a cellphone other than the iPhone.




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Thales announces venture for Chinese in-flight systems
Paris (AFP) Nov 16, 2010
French electronics group Thales announced on Tuesday the creation of a joint venture in China to provide an in-flight entertainment system for a Chinese airliner set to compete with Airbus aircraft. The system is for the future Chinese C919 airliner, intended as a competitor to the European Airbus A320 and US Boeing 737 medium-range aircraft. Thales said it had signed a letter of intent ... read more

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