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Smartphone war pauses as world mourns Steve Jobs
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Oct 7, 2011

The launch of a hot new Google smartphone was delayed on Friday as the world mourned the loss of legendary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and sales began of the latest iPhone.

Unconfirmed word also spread that a private funeral was taking place for Jobs, who died Wednesday at the age of 56 after battling cancer. Apple has indicated that no public memorial is planned.

People touched by the death of the Apple co-founder have made pilgrimages to Apple stores, the company's Cupertino headquarters, and even his family's two-story brick home in an old section of the Silicon Valley city of Palo Alto.

Apple security and local police have discretely ringed the house, clearing the way for dark vehicles bearing flowers or friends to get through the barricaded intersection and into a driveway of the corner property.

On the far side of the slate-roofed house is an apricot orchard.

Jobs bought the neighboring property a long time back and knocked down the house there to put in a swing set for his children and an apricot orchard because he so loved the fruit, according to neighbors.

People, some with children, came to pay tribute to Jobs and a collection of orchids, roses and other flowers grew.

"I just wanted to know I could do something," Judith Sallot said of how she and others around the world sought ways to express their sense of loss since no public event is expected.

"People just want to do something," she explained.

Sallot, who recently turned 65 years old, confided that she was computer illiterate until she got an iPhone.

"I am computer savvy now," she said with a smile. "I feel so much better about myself, and it's because he made it easy."

Grim-faced people came and went, pausing to gaze thoughtfully at a growing shrine that included a classic white iPod with the words "Stay hungry" and "Stay foolish" written on it in black marker.

A pile of apples, each with one bite taken out in tribute to Apple's famous logo, was growing and heartfelt messages written in colored chalk coated the sidewalk.

On the other side of a low wooden-post fence lining the front yard, a small apple orchard laden with fruit stood in a sea of orange poppies.

Pictures of Jobs were tacked to the fence, along with messages including "Often imitated, never duplicated."

"It is sad, especially for the family," said a neighbor who asked only to be identified by her first name, Karelle. "He was part of the neighborhood."

As was the case with many of the others who stopped to leave notes, flowers, or other tributes to Jobs, Karelle snapped pictures with her iPhone.

Samsung and Google on Friday postponed a "Mobile Unpacked" press event planned for next week at an international wireless telecommunications industry conference in Southern California.

"Under the current circumstances, both parties have agreed that this is not the appropriate time for the announcement of a new product," Samsung said in a statement at its official blog.

"We will announce a new date and venue in due course," the South Korean consumer electronics titan promised.

Samsung was expected to unveil a Galaxy Nexus smartphone powered by a yet-to-be released version of Google-backed Android software and designed to challenge market-leading iPhone.

Postponing the launch was seen as a temporary truce of sorts in honor of Jobs, who died Wednesday at the age of 56 after battling cancer.

Apple on Friday began taking online pre-orders for an updated iPhone 4S that is to be available on October 14 in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Britain.

The iPhone 4S features a speedier processor, a "personal assistant" that responds to voice commands and a more powerful camera.

It remained to be seen whether the legions of people from around the world touched by the death of Jobs would buy the iPhone 4S in tribute to the man who altered lives with iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Macintosh computers.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

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Steve Jobs helped build Pixar with vision, cash
Los Angeles (AFP) Oct 6, 2011 - Steve Jobs is best known for turning the ailing Apple into a global icon, but for many his transformation of a small digital graphics firm into animated movie giant Pixar showed equal vision.

Jobs bought Pixar from "Star Wars" creator George Lucas in 1986 after being forced out of Apple Computer, and at first spent millions of dollars of his own money to keep the graphics firm going.

Pixar has since become one of the most influential and profitable studios in the history of cinema, producing world-beating movies including the "Toy Story" franchise, "Finding Nemo" and "Up" among others.

When he bought it for $10 million, Pixar was more of a computer company than a creative studio.

"Originally, Jobs's idea was not so much making an animated film as much as he wanted to develop graphics programs for computers," said Tom Sito, a veteran of Disney ("Aladdin" and "The Little Mermaid") and Dreamworks ("Shrek").

"In the beginning Pixar was a hardware store," he added. "But Steve was won over to the idea of making animated film by the successful short films that Pixar and John Lasseter were making," like "Luxo Jr." and "Tin Toy."

The minor masterpieces by Lasseter -- who went on to become the creative director of Pixar and Disney -- were promising, but it took vision and courage to imagine that computer animation could make serious money.

Jobs lacked neither. "He was very good in guiding the company. Because it was all a bunch of scientists and artists who knew nothing about business," said Sito, professor of film at the University of Southern California (USC).

"They were reading books to find a way to have a place in this very high-stakes billion dollar industry. And Jobs gave them the strategy for running the company," he added.

But it required more than good intentions to run Pixar, which was in chronic debt.

"Even though they had successful shorts, and they were doing commercials and they were looking at other ways to expand, still at the end of the month, Steve would have to open his checkbook," said Sito.

"He spent 50 million dollars of his own money in keeping Pixar going," he added.

But the real game-changer came in 1991, when Jobs struck a deal with Disney to produce the first "Toy Story" movie, the first film produced entirely by computers.

The movie was a box office smash and assured Pixar's financial health. But Jobs, with his faultless intuition and marketing genius, also made sure it marked the transformation of Pixar into a global brand.

In 1982 the cult film "Tron" was made for Disney by three computer companies who are today forgotten, because their names only appeared in the closing credits.

Jobs demanded that Pixar be credited up front.

"Steve Jobs was very insistent in the negotiations that the name 'Pixar' be at the front of the movie, right next to the name Disney, because he wanted to establish a brand name recognition.

"He wanted Pixar's name to be in the public's mind," said Sito.

Jobs' strategic vision was also reflected in the way Pixar was launched on the stock market, at the same time as "Toy Story" came out in late 1995 -- its box office success impressed investors and bolstered the share price.

Jobs' 80 percent share in the company was valued at the time at $600 million.

After his return to Apple in 1997, Jobs handed the reins to the creative team at Pixar, who went on to make a series of hits, including "Cars" and "Ratatouille," making $6.5 billion dollars at the box office.

He remained head of Pixar until it was bought by Disney in 2006, when Jobs took a seat on the entertainment giant's board of directors.


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Battle to sell the iPhone heats up in Japan
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 7, 2011
Japan's third-largest mobile carrier Softbank on Friday unveiled a lower monthly fee for the new iPhone than bigger rival KDDI, as competition for smartphone users heats up among the nation's mobile firms. Softbank's exclusive grip on the iPhone in Japan ended with KDDI having struck a deal to also sell the popular device. Both firms began taking advance orders Friday ahead of the iPhone 4S ... read more

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