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Samsung is top 2012 phone brand, ousting Nokia
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Dec 18, 2012


AU Optronics executive guilty in LCD price-fixing case
San Francisco (AFP) Dec 18, 2012 - A US jury on Tuesday found a former senior manager at Taiwan-based AU Optronics Corp. guilty of taking part in a global scheme to rig prices of liquid crystal display screens.

Shiu Lung Leung faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for his crime, according to the US Department of Justice.

Marketplace rivals fixed the prices of LCD panels during monthly meetings held secretly at hotel conference rooms, karaoke bars and tea rooms around Taiwan, according to prosecutors.

A trial in San Francisco ended in March with AUO executives Hsuan Bin Chen and Hui Hsiung convicted for their roles in a conspiracy between late 2001 and late 2006 to rig prices of thin film transistor LCD panels.

A judge fined the company $500 million for taking part in what prosecutors called the "most serious price-fixing" case in US history.

Officials said that the fine matched the largest ever imposed on a company for violating US anti-trust laws.

A mistrial was declared in a portion of the proceedings involving Leung, and the verdict in his case was the outcome of a three-week retrial.

"This international price-fixing conspiracy impacted countless American consumers by raising the price of computer monitors, notebooks and televisions containing LCD panels," said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Scott Hammond.

The global LCD market was valued at $70 billion annually by the end of the alleged conspiracy, and companies that wound up paying inflated prices for screens included Apple, Dell and Hewlett Packard, according to prosecutors.

As a result of the investigation, eight companies have pleaded guilty or been convicted and have been sentenced to pay criminal fines totaling more than $1.39 billion, according to the Department of Justice.

Samsung has overtaken Nokia as the top mobile phone brand for 2012 and has opened up a decisive lead over Apple in the smartphone market, a research firm said Tuesday.

This will mark the first time in 14 years that Finnish-based Nokia will not sit atop the global mobile phone business on an annual basis, according to IHS iSuppli.

Samsung is expected to account for 29 percent of worldwide cellphone shipments, up from 24 percent in 2011, according to the IHS, which said Nokia's share dropped to 24 percent from 30 percent.

This will mark the first time the South Korean electronics giant will occupy the top on a yearly basis, IHS said.

Samsung has also extended its lead over Apple as the top maker of smartphones worldwide, the survey said. Samsung will have 28 percent of the market, up from 20 percent in 2011, while Apple's share will rise in 2012 to to 20 percent from 19 percent.

"The competitive reality of the cellphone market in 2012 was 'live by the smartphone; die by the smartphone,'" said Wayne Lam, senior analyst at IHS.

"Smartphones represent the fastest-growing segment of the cellphone market and will account for nearly half of all wireless handset shipments for all of 2012. Samsung's successes and Nokia's struggles in the cellphone market this year were determined entirely by the two companies' divergent fortunes in the smartphone sector."

IHS said global smartphone shipments are set to rise by 35.5 percent this year, while overall cellphone shipments will increase by just one percent. This will propel 2012 smartphone penetration to 47 percent, up from 35 percent in 2011.

IHS noted that Samsung produces dozens of smartphone models every year that address all segments of the market, from the high-end to the low-end. Nokia is transitioning its smartphone line to the Windows operating system, resulting in declining shipments for the company.

Sales of Nokia's older Symbian-based phones have plunged, while its new Microsoft Windows-based handsets have been modest so far.

IHS said Samsung, which was in a tight battle in 2011 with Apple, has moved ahead decisively ahead of the California giant with a wide range of Android smartphone offerings, while Apple limited its smartphones to the premium iPhone line.

The report said BlackBerry maker Research in Motion will see its market share fall to five percent in 2012, from 11 percent in 2011.

IHS said it expects smartphones gains to accelerate in 2013, and to account for 56 percent of the mobile phone market.

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New computing devices will allow touch, smell: IBM
Washington (AFP) Dec 17, 2012
Future computing devices will push further into the senses by developing capacities to mimic the ability to see, smell, touch, taste and hear, IBM says in an annual forecast Monday. The seventh annual "IBM 5 in 5," a list of innovations that have the potential to have an impact in the next five years, said computers and other devices will gain more capabilities to simulate the human senses. ... read more


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