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The Incredible Edible iPod
Reuters noted that "Mac rumor Web sites are at their busiest ahead of the annual Macworld conventions, which are highly anticipated by the Mac faithful for product introductions and Jobs' keynote. In recent weeks, the Web sites have been buzzing with speculation that Apple will introduce a smaller, cheaper version of its market-leading iPod digital music player that uses flash memory, rather than the hard disk drives of the standard iPods. Flash memory chips retain data stored on them even when electrical current is shut off. Financial analysts Andy Neff of Bear Stearns and Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. have also published notes in recent weeks mentioning flash iPods."
Reuters: Apple Sues Over Web Leak of Advanced Products
Xing Out X-Rated
Playboy's iBod images aside, there's already a test case out there regarding racy images on mobile devices. The New York Times reported that a "growing number of content providers are adapting steamy images and video for use on mobile phones. But the major phone operators are blanching at the images and at providing access to new video games that are violent, explicit and designed for phones, like one based on the movie 'Kill Bill.' Cingular Wireless, the nation's largest carrier, said earlier this month that it would stop offering customers the option of downloading images of pornography-film stars, a service that had been offered by AT&T Wireless, which Cingular, which is owned by SBC Communications and BellSouth, bought in October. The images -- of clothed women, at $5.99 a download -- first became available to Cingular consumers in mid-November. 'We're not going to offer adult content; we're not going to offer ultraviolent games,' said Mark Siegel, a spokesman for Cingular. 'That is not compatible with the Cingular brand.'" Who knew Cingular was aiming to be so family friendly? The Times said that decisions like Cingular's "show the fine line that the carriers are trying to walk. Many, for example, already offer downloadable images of bikini-clad models from magazines like Sports Illustrated and Maxim. But some critics are raising concerns that the phone operators are acting as content gatekeepers."
The New York Times: Cell Phone Entertainment, Yes, But Carriers Shy From X-Rated (Registration required)
Mike Langberg of the San Jose Mercury News warned of the pitfalls for rebates with consumer electronics purchases in an article on Friday. "Mail-in rebates are the Scrooge of today's holidays, forcing shoppers to slice up their fingers while scraping off proof-of-purchase labels and baffling us with deliberately arcane redemption forms. Shame on Best Buy, Hewlett-Packard, Circuit City, Sony, Fry's Electronics, Symantec and all the other electronics retailers and manufacturers that hypocritically claim devotion to their customers, yet collaborate in a system that customers universally despise. Nowhere is the problem worse than in retail sales of computers and computer peripherals, with ads that trumpet prices hundreds of dollars lower than what you actually pay in the store. Here's my poster child for rebate abuse: Best Buy, in last Sunday's newspaper insert, advertised an HP notebook bundled with several accessories for $699.96 in big, black letters a quarter-inch high. Buried in fine print at a microscopic one-sixteenth of an inch was what you'd be charged at the register: $1,079.96. Getting the lower price requires completing the paperwork for six -- SIX! -- mail-in rebates. And, of course, you'd have to wait up to eight weeks while Best Buy enjoys what amounts to an interest-free loan of $380," Langberg wrote.
San Jose Mercury News: Getting Money Back A Constant Headache (Registration required)
At least electronic goods overall are cheaper, according to a recent survey published by Reuters. "Digital cameras led retail price declines in U.S. consumer electronics in October, as manufacturers looked to clear out older models ahead of the holiday shopping season, according to an industry study prepared for Reuters. Prices for memory cards, the postage-stamp-sized disks that save the pictures taken by digital cameras, also fell, part of an overall decline of 1.8 percent from September for the most popular consumer electronics goods, according to NPD Consumer Electronics Price Watch. The report, released on Friday, showed the price for a market basket of the 27 most popular electronics goods fell to $11,280 in October, almost $2,500 below last October." But don't count on cheaper iPods. "Little discounting was seen in prices for 20-gigabyte hard-drive-based portable digital music players, with levels stuck near $295, the report said."
Reuters: Cameras Lead Gadget Price Declines In October-NPD
Sprint Breaks Out A Tune
Sprint is the latest company to try and tap into the download music craze. The company is partnering with Music Choice to offer subscribers video clips and radio-style programming on their mobile phones for $5.99 extra a month, Reuters reported. CNET's News.com also picked up on Sprint's music plans.
Reuters: New Service Puts Audio Service On Cell Phones
Jailhouse Rock, Bollywood-Style
Welcome to eBay's bizarre Baazee bazaar brouhaha. The chief executive of eBay's Indian subsidiary was arrested in connection with the online sale of a sex tape. More details from the Associated Press. "Officials in India's technology industry expressed anger and concern over the jailing of the CEO of eBay's Indian subsidiary ... . The U.S. State Department has also made inquiries about the case. A 17-year-old boy who filmed himself and his girlfriend in an act of oral sex was arrested Sunday night after a weeklong hunt. He used his camera-fitted mobile phone and transmitted the images to his friends, police said," the AP said. "Avnish Bajaj, the CEO of Baazee.com -- India's most popular shopping portal, now owned by California-based eBay Inc. -- was arrested Friday in connection with the sale of the images."
The Wall Street Journal reported on eBay's outrage over the arrest, which Indian authorities tied to an anti-obscenity law. "Bajaj, who had been assisting the police since Dec. 9, was denied bail on Saturday and ordered to remain in custody until Friday," the paper said. "EBay spokesman Henry Gomez called the arrest 'simply uncalled for given all the cooperation' from the company. Mr. Gomez said eBay officials, including Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman, have been working on the case since Mr. Bajaj's arrest. The U.S. embassy in New Delhi also said it closely was watching the case and had sent a consular official to attend Mr. Bajaj's hearing on Saturday." More from the paper: "The incident demonstrates the risks that U.S. companies and executives face when they do business in other countries under different legal standards. It is a delicate issue for Internet companies, which want to reach as many users as possible and are expanding rapidly overseas. The incident also is sparking calls from India's business establishment for changes in the country's cyber-security laws."
The Associated Press via washingtonpost.com: EBay Executive's Arrest Sparks Debate (Registration required)
The Wall Street Journal: India Arrests Head Of eBay Division In Obscenity Case (Subscription required)