NUTS: Steve Jobs Steps Down, Earthquake Shakes Phone Service

Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, leaving the company with the challenge to continue its success without him, while an earthquake hit the east coast jamming phone lines in the process.

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Steve Jobs Resigns, Apple Moves On

Steve Jobs resigned from Apple saying he could no longer meet the duties and expectations of being the company’s CEO. Apple’s board requested he stay on as chairman.

Jobs’ resignation comes as he continues to struggle with health issues. In January, he took his third medical leave from Apple and has looked thin and frail in his few public appearances since. Jobs has battled health problems since August 2004 when he announced he was in remission from pancreatic cancer.

Apple’s COO Tim Cook, who filled in for Jobs during each of his medical leaves, will become CEO. Cook has been with Apple for more than a decade, and was Job’s personal recommendation to take over the company.

Cook will have big shoes to fill as he faces heated competition from Google in the mobile market and tackles how to expand Apple’s business into China and India.

Cook publicly announced Apple’s culture won’t change under his leadership, but many analysts worry the company will lose its edge with Job’s departure. Jobs had a strong hand in the design of some of the company’s most successful products, such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

But while Jobs had final say on product design, senior vice president of industrial design Jonathan Ive may be the true genius behind Apple’s products. Ive has been part of the company’s design team since 1998 and is reportedly just as much responsible for the design of the unibody Macbooks, iPad, iPod and IPhone as Jobs.

Despite Cook’s strong credentials and the presence of Ive on design, Apple’s investors criticised the board for not providing enough detail regarding CEO succession plan. Investors say there isn’t enough transparency, while Apple maintains it keeps plans secret so competitors wouldn’t capitalise on it.

Regardless, succession plan is already in motion, leaving Jobs’ peers to reflect on his work. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said Jobs was the “greatest technology business leader of our time.”

Jobs leaves behind a legacy that may shape the future of technology. He brought a “software-first” mentality to products that helped flagship devices like the iPod, iPhone and iPad become benchmarks for other companies’ successes.

With Jobs out of the picture, rivals are gearing up for a window to catch up. Samsung, Apple’s closest rival, is set to make a push with its line Galaxy smartphones and tablets.

U.S. Carriers Prep for Disaster

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile all reported disruptions in their service after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit outside Richmond, Va. The quake, which struck 3.7 miles deep into the earth, caused tremors felt across major East Coast cities such as Boston, New York and Washington D.C. The volume of calls jammed phone lines.

Research in Motion’s BlackBerry Messenger service was unaffected by the earthquake. The company’s devices rely on RIM’s servers for messaging services and e-mails, which operated normally under the increased strain. The performance under these conditions gives RIM some positive press in the midst of its poor sales and declining market share.

As Hurricane Irene approaches the eastern seaboard, U.S. carriers are stocking generators near cell towers and investing in mobile transmitters for areas threatened by the storm. Irene is expected to hit North Carolina on Saturday and move up the coast hitting several states and major cities, including New York.

HP TouchPads Sell Like Hotcakes in Final Hour

HP’s TouchPad sold out everywhere after the company discontinued the device. Retailers sold the 16-gigabyte model for $100 and the 32-gigabyte version for $150. Major retailers are all sold out of the TouchPad, but some may get one last shipment before they’re gone for good.

Despite the TouchPad’s sales resurgence after being heavily discounted, and HP’s position as the number one PC maker in the world, CEO Leo Apotheker stands by the decision to ditch WebOS operating system and spin off the company’s computer business. Apotheker says the move allows the company to concentrate on future software developments.

Government and Cell Phone Warrants

California’s State Assembly approved a bill would requires law enforcement officers to have a warrant to search cell phones. Governor Jerry Brown must still sign the bill into law, but if he does, it would overturn the January ruling that allowed officers to search the cell phone contents of anyone they arrest.

In New York a federal judge ruled cell phone records are constitutionally private and can’t be released without a warrant. To obtain a warrant, law enforcement must show someone’s phone records are material to an ongoing criminal investigation.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, U.S. District Judge Susan K. Gauvey refused to issue a warrant to federal authorities to locate a suspect using his cell phone’s GPS data. The defence attorney won the case for his client by proving the government didn’t claim the cellular information it sought would produce evidence of a crime.

Government and Technology Abroad

U.S. officials signed a deal with Iraq’s Interior Ministry to provide authorities with technology to monitor and record phone calls and text message to help stop terrorist attacks.

The new devices will allow Iraqi authorities to make both domestic and international calls and fix down phone lines. The move has been met with concern that the Ministry may not tightly control the technology, and end up being used for political reasons.

Questions are also being asked about a recent decision by the government back at home. The Missouri State Teachers Association is suing to repeal a law that bans teachers from being Facebook friends with students. Teachers complain the law hurts their ability to keep in touch with students for classroom purposes, personal problems or even emergencies.

Meanwhile, the South Korean government is organising a consortium of local companies like Samsung and LG to develop a range of open, cloud-based mobile operating systems.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy deputy minister Kim Jae-Hong said the move is part of a plan to compete with operating systems from Google and Apple.

Samsung Unveils New Galaxy Phones, Fights Lawsuits

Samsung unveiled four new Galaxy phones — the Galaxy W, Galaxy M Pro, Galaxy Y and Galaxy Y Pro. The new devices launch with a new letter based naming system, which the company hopes to use to build off the success of the Galaxy S2.

But Samsung’s announcement of new devices is overshadowed by the company’s continued legal troubles. A Dutch court banned Samsung from selling Galaxy smartphones in Europe and gave the company until October 13 to settle with Apple.

In Germany, the court upheld its ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab through September 9. Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hoffman agreed with Apple that the tablet infringes on several patents. Samsung has a chance to dispute the judge’s ruling, but if it can’t convince the court, Samsung will have to settle.

Samsung is citing the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” to fight Apple’s claim that Samsung copied the iPad. Samsung says Stanley Kubrick’s film, which depicts tablet-like devices, existed as a concept before Apple patented its iPads and iPhones. Samsung continues to insist that its Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets never copied the “look and feel” of Apple’s products.

Samsung’s woes continued as Verizon announced it will drop the Galaxy S2 phone from its line-up when it launches next month. The carrier said it already has a strong library of smartphones, including the Samsung Droid Charge, and doesn’t see it necessary to offer the phone.

Google Pays Up, Loads Up on Patents

Google will pay $500 million to settle the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into whether the company sold online advertising to Canadian pharmaceutical companies that were illegally selling prescription drugs.

The federal government says websites are liable for the content of advertising they sell and ordered an investigation into Google’s role in the ads.

While $500 million is a lot of money, it pales in comparison to the $12.5 billion Google spent on Motorola Mobility. Google purchased Motorola largely for a group of 18 patents that may bolster its efforts to fend off legal action targeting the Android mobile platform.

The patents cover innovations like location services, antenna design, e-mail, touch screen gestures, app management and 3G wireless technology.

Facebook to Add Photo Filter, Services

Facebook plans to introduce photo filters inspired by popular apps like Instagram, allowing users to edit the look of their pictures. Facebook’s move to create its own photo-editing system may debunk earlier speculation that the social network was trying to buy Instagram.

New settings will also add features to Facebook. Users will soon be able to choose specific audiences for every photo, text post, tag and video using something the social network is calling an “inline.” Every piece of content on users’ profiles will have a drop-down menu listing its visibility level.

Meanwhile, the social network is in hot water with German official Thilo Weichert. Weichert ordered the state’s business to shut down their Facebook fan pages and remove the “Like” buttons from their websites after he discovered the social network was gathering personal information, which violates German and European law by passing content to serves in the U.S.

Microsoft Wages War on Rivals

Microsoft accused Motorola of infringing on seven patents and requested the International Trade Commission ban Motorola phones in the U.S. Motorola announced it would counter by bringing its own patent case against Microsoft.

A loss for either company could have major implications in the battle between Windows Phone and Android.

In another attempt to better equip itself against competitors like Motorola, Microsoft issued an open invitation to all WebOS developers to make apps for Windows Phone.

The company received more than 500 inquiries from developers after offering to provide them with cell phones, training and all the necessary tools to develop for the platform.

INQ Mobile is considering a move from Android to Windows phone. The London-based company has developed mid-range Android devices since 2009, but may be looking to create devices that run Windows Phone after Google’s purchase of Motorola.

Apple Cuts and Runs on Location Tracking

Apple told developers it plans to phase out access to unique device identifiers, or UDID, on iPhones and iPads. The company did not give a reason for the change but it’s likely due to recent complaints from privacy advocates and lawsuits seeking damages for location tracking.

Apple’s problems with location data alienated some users, but Lenovo says the price of Apple products will keep customers away in China. Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing says his company has a better strategy than Apple because it offers cheaper mobile options and top-tier devices. Yang believes Apple has no answer for customers in China who don’t have the money to afford the company’s flagship iPhone and iPad.

While Apple may face a dilemma in China, the company is going out of its way to better serve its users in Japan. The Japanese version of iOS 5 will have an earthquake notification system. The system is reportedly so sensitive that it may reduce battery life when it’s turned on, because it is constantly polling the servers for warnings.

Apple Preps New IPhones, Delays IPad

The Wall Street Journal reported Sprint will carry the iPhone 5when it’s released in October. If true, Sprint’s business will surge in a time where it is struggling to keep up with Verizon and AT&T.

While the iPhone 5 will likely steal headlines, Apple is reportedly working on an 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 to launch alongside it. The 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 will replace the 3GS as Apple’s cheaper iPhone offering.

Analysts, which initially believed the iPad 3 would launch with the iPhone 5 this fall, now report the tablet won’t come until early 2012. Apple ordered parts for 1.5 million devices in the fourth quarter. According to the orders, the device will have a 9.7-inch screen, like its predecessors.

RIM Launches New Curve Devices

Research in Motion announced an update to its BlackBerry Curve line. The BlackBerry Curve 9350, 9360 and 9370 all look identical and run different bands so the device can be offered on multiple carriers.

The new device features a 2.4-inch display and full QWERTY keyboard and the slimmest design of any Curve before it.

The new Curve is another part of the bridge RIM is building to its first QNX-based phone, the BlackBerry Colt. The Colt is now rumoured to feature a 3.7-inch screen or larger along with a dual-core processor, this contradicts earlier reports suggesting the device would have a single-core chip.

QNX may bring even more surprises. BlackBerry devices running the OS may be able to run Android’s several hundred thousand applications, according to Bloomberg. If true, the development may boost the appeal of BlackBerry devices and help bring RIM back to prominence in the smartphone market.

Verizon Kisses, Makes Up

Verizon’s 45,000 striking workers returned to work and continue to bargain with management to hash out a deal. The two sides agreed to end the strike and continue negotiations, ending issues northeastern customers experienced during the two-week walkout.

Although customers stand to benefit from Verizon’s employees returning to work, they suffered a loss to the carrier in the courtroom. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled customers couldn’t sue the carrier as class action — lawsuits must be carried out individually. The court cited the language in wireless contracts for the decision. Subscribers will not likely sue Verizon due to the company’s financial muscle.

While customers may be powerless against Verizon, they will soon have another option to choose from when selecting data plans. Verizon intends to begin offering a $20 a month data plan in the region covering Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina as a test run. The plan will give users 300-megabytes per month and be rolled out nationwide if it’s successful.

AT&T Ranks Last in Customer Satisfaction, FCC Reviews T-Mobile Deal

AT&T ranked worst in customer service according to J.D. Power. Sprint and T-Mobile came in first. The results follow ChangeWave’s survey in April, which found AT&T dropped calls twice as many calls as Verizon.

AT&T hopes to improve its services by adding T-Mobile, but the Federal Communications Commission is grilling the carrier every step of the way. The FCC asked AT&T for more details on the proposed merger after it found AT&T could reportedly supply high-speed wireless service in ways other than buying T-Mobile.

The FCC announced it has restarted the clock on its informal 180-day review of the $39 billion acquisition, after temporarily stopped research to allow AT&T to provide additional analysis and data.

Twitter Co-Founders Unveil New Project, Answer Questions on U.K. Riots

Twitter’s co-founders are working on their next social networking project, called “Lift.” The Obvious Corp. won’t reveal much about the network other than to say it is “an interesting new application for unlocking human potential through positive reinforcement.” Reports say it may be similar to an earlier project called “Mibbles,” which allowed users to track daily goals and accomplishments and share them with friends.

Meanwhile, Twitter, Facebook and RIM agreed to participate in a meeting coordinated by U.K. officials about the role social media played in riots earlier this month. The level of the group’s participation may vary, depending on the direction the talks with U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May take.

Sony Ericsson Releases Live Walkman Phone

Sony Ericsson announced its latest smartphone, “Live with Walkman,” which will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread and feature Qriocity support with deep Facebook integration. The handset will feature a 3.2-inch mineral glass display and contain a 1-gigahertz processor with 380-megabytes of RAM. The phone targets entertainment-oriented consumers.

HTC Gears Up for Windows Mango

HTC plans to release its first two Windows Phone Mango devices on September 1. The Taiwan phone maker will hold an event to launch the HTC Eternity for AT&T and the Omega for T-Mobile. These two phones signify the launch of the Windows Phone Mango update, as Microsoft looks to take on Google and Apple in the smartphone market.

Dish Network Seeks Spectrum for Wireless

Satellite TV provider Dish Network filed for permission with the U.S. government to begin building a mobile high-speed network. The company wants to acquire DBSD North America and mobile network operator TerreStar, which would allow it to build a mobile broadband network. Dish will likely have to negotiate with the FCC on how much of the country its network will cover.

Skype Buys GroupMe

Skype is acquiring startup GroupMe, a company with technology that enables users to text and make conference calls with circles of friends and colleagues. Skype made the purchase of the New York-based company for $80 million, as it looks to bring group message to smartphones to compete with services like iMessage and BlackBerry Messenger.

Medical News

A hospital in Canada reportedly placed a $1.5 billion order for biometric scanners with New Jersey-based BIO-key International. The devices plug into Apple products and allow doctors to access medical records by swiping their fingers instead of typing long passwords. The market for clinical iPhone and iPad apps has continued to grow as physicians and patients migrate from traditional instruments to more advanced technology.

Elsewhere, researchers at Vanderbilt University created a prosthetic leg using parts from smartphones. The leg weighs nine pound, less than lower limbs, and uses computer, sensor, motor, and battery technology to better power knee and ankle joins in unison.

The advances are the result of a seven-year effort that harnesses several technological advances made possible by smartphones.

News Under the Sun is a weekly column rounding up all the events on in the mobile industry. Want the news but don’t want it every day? Subscribe to our weekly Facebook or Twitter page.

This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.

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