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    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    Reuters - China's famed Shaolin temple kick starts online store

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    China's famed Shaolin temple kick starts online store

    Wednesday, Jun 25, 2008 12:18PM UTC

    By Sophie Taylor

    SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of kung fu and the star of many martial arts films, has set up an online store to flog its wares.

    Named "Shaolin The Stage of Joy", a Web page has been set up by a unit of the temple on popular Chinese e-commerce site www.taobao.com, offering a range of goods including shoes, tea, T-shirts and slippers.

    Enthusiasts can snap up a kung fu instruction manual for 9,999 yuan ($1,456), or pick up a pair of "environmentally friendly" chopsticks for 29 yuan.

    This is not the first time that the monastery -- known in the West as the training ground for Kwai Chang "Grasshopper" Caine in the 1970s hit television series "Kung Fu" -- has made a commercial foray.

    Shaolin Temple's business ventures include kung fu shows, film production and a reality TV search for the next kung fu star. Its monks also go on world tours to perform feats of agility and balance.

    The temple, in central Henan province, was also the driving force behind a local government plan to float shares in tourism assets, a Hong Kong newspaper reported late last year.

    But the temple came under fire in 2006 after a senior Chinese monk was awarded a luxury car for services to the local tourism industry, which forms a bulk of the city's revenues.

    Some Chinese Web surfers also appeared equally unimpressed by the Shaolin Temple's latest commercial venture.

    "Shaolin temple is getting less and less likeable," one Internet user wrote in an essay posted on news site ifeng.com on Wednesday. "There's a giant laughing buddha in Shaolin temple. If it saw what the temple is doing these days, I'm not so sure it would still be laughing."

    ($1=6.866 Yuan)

    (Editing by Miral Fahmy)

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Reuters - Mobile phone battery dead? Try dancing

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    Mobile phone battery dead? Try dancing

    Tuesday, Jun 24, 2008 1:22PM UTC

    LONDON (Reuters) - What do you do if you're stuck in a field at a pop festival but there's trouble ahead because your mobile phone's battery is about to run out?

    Thanks to a new gizmo, you now just need to face the music and dance.

    Mobile phone operator Orange said on Tuesday it had teamed up with GotWind, a firm specializing in renewable energy, to produce a recharger powered by dance energy alone.

    The portable kinetic energy chargers will be given a test run at this year's Glastonbury Festival, the world's biggest greenfield music and arts celebration that begins on a farm in Somerset, southwest England on Friday.

    Orange said the prototype chargers weigh the same as a phone and are about the size of a pack of cards.

    Attached to the user's arm, they employ a system of weights and magnets which provide an electric current to top up charge in a storage battery. This can then later be used to recharge the phone.

    "We wanted to create a fun, engaging and interactive product which would encourage users to have a laugh while charging their mobile phone and at the same time test out a new energy-efficient prototype," said Hattie Magee, Head of Partnerships at Orange UK.

    (Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Matthew Jones)

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Reuters - Nokia buys social networking site Plazes

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    Nokia buys social networking site Plazes

    Monday, Jun 23, 2008 9:47AM UTC

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - The world's top cellphone maker Nokia said on Monday it has agreed to buy social networking start-up Plazes as part of its major push into offering Internet services.

    Plazes (http://www.plazes.com/) provides location-aware services that people can use to plan, record, and share their social activities.

    Nokia did not disclose the value of the deal.

    "This acquisition helps Nokia to accelerate its vision of bringing people and places closer together, in line with our broader services strategy," Niklas Savander, the head of Nokia's Internet services, said in a statement.

    Companies such as Plazes are trying to tap into the potential for new services as more mobile phones get equipped with technology to pinpoint their location.

    Nokia has said it would have dozens of such phones to offer by the end of this year.

    To achieve new growth as the cellphone business is set to mature in coming years Nokia started to invest heavily in building up its presence in Internet service.

    It has offered $8.1 billion for U.S. digital maps firm Navteq -- a cornerstone of its services push -- and has said it would invest millions more this year and next.

    Plazes has staff of 13, and its main operations are in Berlin.

    (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Quentin Bryar/Rory Channing)

    Friday, June 20, 2008

    Reuters - Big-screen giant Imax eyes digital future

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    Big-screen giant Imax eyes digital future

    Friday, Jun 20, 2008 10:36AM UTC

    By Carolyn Giardina and Paul Bond

    LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Imax Corp. is going digital.

    The giant of the large-screen format is beginning one of the biggest initiatives in its 40-year history: switching from 70mm film to a digital system of projection.

    Next month, the company will roll out the first three digital Imax installations with exhibitor AMC Entertainment -- two in Washington and one in Baltimore. Three more will debut in August in Philadelphia. Imax expects to have digital systems deployed at 50 sites by year's end, with the goal of converting its 296 owned or equipped theaters in 40 countries.

    Imax believes that the digital offerings will prompt new installations and more studio films for release in Imax theaters.

    "In 2006, we averaged about 35 new theater signings a year. In the last seven months, we signed 173 new theaters," Imax co-chairman and co-CEO Rich Gelfond says. "That's because of the launch of the digital product."

    New joint-venture agreements include deals with AMC for 100 systems and Regal Cinemas for 31 systems. The deployment has the potential to change the fare offered in the theaters.

    Imax built its business on screening such documentaries as "Space Station" and "Bugs" but in recent years has aimed for such big "tentpole" movies as the Batman and Harry Potter films. It inked a deal this year with DreamWorks Animation that includes Imax distribution of the upcoming "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" as well as the studio's first three 3-D titles, starting with "Monsters vs. Aliens" on March 27, 2009, "How to Train Your Dragon" in November 2009 and "Shrek Goes Fourth" in May 2010.

    "Madagascar 2," which opens November 7, is scheduled as the first "wide" digital Imax release, on an expected 35 screens.

    Imax said that it has been talking to six studios about film projects for 2009. During this transition period, Imax will release both film and digital.

    A challenge for the Imax business model always has been studio distribution costs. A 70mm Imax print can cost from $22,000 per print for a 2-D film to $45,000 per print for a 3-D title. According to Gelfond, with digital projection, studios would -- at least initially -- deliver the content as files on a hard drive at a low cost of about $800 per digital Imax "print."

    Most installations will be joint ventures between Imax, which puts up the production equipment and screen, and the theater owner, who covers the cost to retrofit the moviehouse (about $150,000 per auditorium). Box office is split on a negotiated basis.

    In other instances, the theater would purchase the system from Imax, which is about $1.2 million per auditorium plus a minimum royalty to Imax from the exhibitor, which is typically the greater of $50,000 a year or 3% of the total box office.

    Typically, the Imax cut from a studio on any given movie at an Imax theater is 12.5% of the box office gross; Imax ticket prices tend to be 20%-30% more than a traditional movie ticket.

    Imax's digital initiative has been a long time coming, and investors haven't always been enthusiastic about the expensive strategy.

    The company's stock has fluctuated from $30 in 1999 to less than $1 a couple years later after a failed effort to sell itself. It closed Thursday at $7.31 on the Nasdaq, roughly where it was five years ago.

    But Wall Street has taken a liking lately, with five analysts calling the stock a "buy" or "strong buy" and no one calling it a "sell."

    Eric Wold of Merriman Curhan Ford recently told Imax investors that "introduction of a digital system plus more joint-venture deals could reaccelerate theater growth and profitability."

    Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

    Reuters - Watch superheros fight evil -- on your mobile phone

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    Watch superheros fight evil -- on your mobile phone

    Friday, Jun 20, 2008 5:26AM UTC

    By Sachi Izumi

    TOKYO (Reuters) - After taking on the big and small screens, comic book heroes like Spiderman and Superman may soon be appearing on an even smaller screen -- your mobile phone.

    Suit-clad businessmen reading comic books are a common sight on Japanese trains, but they could soon be poring over their phones with publishers increasingly digitalizing their comics to cash in on the country's mobile-savvy consumers.

    The July 11 launch of Apple Inc's <APPL.O> iPhone could also spur the growth of the mobile comic market as the device's touch-screen would make it easier and more appealing to read comics on handsets, analysts say.

    As the number of mobile phone subscribers approaches 108 million, or 85 percent of Japan's population, carriers are moving away from voice services, beefing up content services and data transmission to increase revenues.

    E-mailing, music-downloads and Internet surfing are already popular, and analysts expect comics to be the next big thing with the number of titles for mobile use soaring recently.

    Comics led the size of the mobile publication market to double in the last business year to 22 billion yen ($204 million), according to Internet and media research firm Impress R&D. The size is almost three times bigger than the e-publication market for PCs.

    "Until now, users had been extensively using mobile phones for emails," said Shinko Securities analyst Tomohiko Okugawa said. "Now that's shifting to games and comics ... this is the area it's going to be very interesting."

    Top mobile phone carriers -- NTT DoCoMo Inc <9437.T>, KDDI Corp <9433.T>, and Softbank Corp <9984.T> -- recently unveiled handsets and services, enhancing features like video downloads and animated e-mails, a move seen benefiting content providers such as MTI Ltd <9438.Q>, DeNA <2432.T> and Dwango <3715.T>.

    "We cannot be ahead of competition just by prices, features and sounds like we used to, and now we have to improve contents and user-friendliness to position ourselves apart from the rivals," said Toshitake Amamiya, general manager of KDDI's content and media division.

    "The importance of contents has been growing ... It is crucial to pursue what we can do in this market where each adult always carries around a mobile phone and uses it as a life tool."

    Nikko Citigroup analyst Hiroshi Yamashina said the bigger, better screens of new cell phones will help make mobile comics more popular.

    Carriers have been releasing handsets in collaboration with popular TV brands, with some of them boasting 3.3-inch screens. Yamashina said the launch of Apple Inc's iPhone would also push up popularity of mobile comics as it can revive the sense of turning pages on its touch-screen.

    (Editing by Miral Fahmy)

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    Reuters - Cellphones challenge cameras with sharper pictures

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    Cellphones challenge cameras with sharper pictures

    Tuesday, Jun 17, 2008 3:43PM UTC

    By Tarmo Virki

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - Sony Ericsson unveiled on Tuesday the first globally available phone with a high-resolution 8 megapixel camera as the handset industry mounted a fresh attack on traditional camera makers.

    For more than a year, the best cameraphones have had a 5 megapixel camera, comparable to most digital cameras. A few higher-resolution models are sold in South Korea.

    Now other vendors are expected to follow Sony Ericsson's lead, threatening the camera industry which has had the upper hand with higher pixel counts and better quality pictures.

    Sony Ericsson's C905 Cybershot model will go on sale in the fourth quarter, in time for the holiday rush. Analysts said Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics were set to unveil their own models shortly.

    The world's top cellphone maker Nokia will have a 5 megapixel camera in its next flagship phone model N96, but it is also looking to deploy higher-resolution cameras.

    Cameraphones sales long ago leapfrogged traditional camera sales, allowing Nokia to add "the world's largest camera maker" to its title as handset leader.

    The world's top digital camera makers -- Canon Inc, Sony and Eastman Kodak -- enjoyed a 24 percent expansion in their market last year. But consumer spending is expected to be crimped in key western markets.

    "The mobile cameraphone industry is closing the quality-gap on portable digital still cameras and this represents an opportunity for growth and new markets," said Neil Mawston, an analyst at research firm Strategy Analytics.

    Nokia controlled 34 percent of the cameraphone market in January-March, according to Strategy Analytics, with Samsung at 20 percent and Sony Ericsson at 11 percent.

    "Sony Ericsson is trying to regain the initiative as a mobile-imaging-leader, after losing momentum to Samsung and Nokia in recent months," Mawston said.

    Helped by Cybershot, Sony Ericsson's share of the cameraphone market is bigger than its share of the handset market. But Nokia and Samsung have brought 5 megapixel quality into the midrange market, attracting a wider range of buyers.

    Ben Wood, director at research firm CCS Insight, said Nokia's approach towards very high resolution cameras on phones looked more conservative than that of smaller rivals.

    "We are unsure whether this is due to platform limitations or a focus on delivering the best quality pictures with less megapixels," he said.

    "Quality over pixel count is a rational approach from a technical perspective, but it may see Nokia losing out on the high street as consumers perceive 8 megapixels to be better than 5," Wood said.

    Soren Petersen, head of Nokia's product portfolio, told Reuters earlier this week the Finnish firm should set the benchmark for others in the top-end of the of phone market.

    "In ultra high-end we have stuff in works, but I could see some more there in terms of setting the bar," he said in an interview. "I could see a combo of 8 megapixel camera, big touch screen, still with a Qwerty keyboard."

    (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Erica Billingham)

    Saturday, June 14, 2008

    Wud up blogland. All is topsy turvy with the black rider. Life comes in various desighns. Tim Russert Passed a

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    Friday, June 13, 2008

    Reuters - TV newsman Tim Russert dies of heart attack

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    TV newsman Tim Russert dies of heart attack

    Friday, Jun 13, 2008 9:30PM UTC

    By David Morgan

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tim Russert, a leading U.S. political correspondent and host of the NBC television network's long-running "Meet the Press" talk show, died on Friday of a heart attack, the network said. He was 58.

    NBC interrupted programming for a special report by former anchorman Tom Brokaw, who said Russert collapsed and died at work in NBC's Washington bureau after returning from a trip to Italy with his family.

    A network statement said he died of a sudden heart attack while pre-recording a segment for this Sundays "Meet the Press" program.

    Brokaw told viewers 2008 "was one of the most important years in Tim's life. ... He loved this political campaign. He worked to the point of exhaustion so many weeks."

    U.S. President George W. Bush and the two main candidates in November's election to succeed him all praised Russert.

    Russert, who took over "Meet the Press" in 1991 and oversaw a rise in the Sunday program's popularity, was known for both tough questioning of American political figures and a cheerful television persona.

    Now in its 60th year, "Meet the Press" is the longest-running program in the history of television, NBC said. Russert took over in December 1991. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year.

    He was a political analyst for "NBC Nightly News" and the "Today" program, and anchored "The Tim Russert Show," a weekly interview program on the CNBC cable-TV channel.

    BESTSELLERS

    Brokaw lauded Russert for his best-selling books, "Big Russ and Me" about his childhood and his relationship with his father, and "The Wisdom of Our Fathers," a book inspired by the many letters he received from children talking about their relationship with their fathers.

    Democrats and Republicans lauded Russert's work.

    In a statement from Paris, the Republican Bush said: "As the longest-serving host of the longest-running program in the history of television, he was an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades.

    "Tim was a tough and hardworking newsman. He was always well-informed and thorough in his interviews. And he was as gregarious off the set as he was prepared on it," Bush said.

    Speaking to reporters in Columbus, Ohio, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said: "There wasn't a better interviewer in television, not a more thoughtful analyst of our politics."

    Republican presidential candidate John McCain said: "Tim Russert was at the top of his profession. He was a man of honesty and integrity. He was hard but he was always fair."

    Russert joined NBC News in 1984. In April 1985, he supervised the live broadcasts of NBC's Today show from Rome. In 1986 and 1987, Russert led NBC News' weeklong broadcasts from South America, Australia and China.

    Russert became a news subject himself in 2007, when he provided key testimony at the CIA leak trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

    Libby was charged with lying and obstructing a federal investigation into the leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity after her husband criticized the Bush administration.

    Libby said he had learned of Plame's secret identity from Russert. But Russert testified he did not discuss Plame with Libby and offered the jury an account sharply at odds with Libby's recorded testimony. Libby was ultimately convicted.

    (Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Steve Gorman, Jeff Mason, Andy Sullivan and Tabassum Zakaria, Editing by Howard Goller)

    Reuters - MySpace plans redesign for next week

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    MySpace plans redesign for next week

    Friday, Jun 13, 2008 1:18PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - News Corp's MySpace plans a global redesign next week in an attempt to widen its demographics and boost user engagement on the site, the social networking site said on Friday.

    In what it said would be the largest scale relaunch of a website of its size, MySpace will change its home page, navigation, profile editing, search, and MySpaceTV player facilities. Other changes will come during the summer.

    "This is more than a face-lift; we're changing the way people interact with the site and with brands," MySpace said, adding that a major advertiser was signed for the U.S. MySpace home page on the first day of the relaunch.

    The main phase of the relaunch is set for June 18.

    MySpace said it had drastically overhauled the look and feel of its searches, which it said currently ranked third in total number of searches by any site.

    It said it was working with Lucene Open-Source engine and community, marking the first time MySpace has contributed to the open-source community.

    MySpace, with about 110 million users worldwide, claims to be the most trafficked website in the United States, adding that about 300,000 people sign up each day.

    (Reporting by Christopher Kaufman, editing by Will Waterman/Jeffrey Benkoe)

    Reuters - Manners still matter when you're poking on Facebook

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    Manners still matter when you're poking on Facebook

    Friday, Jun 13, 2008 1:49PM UTC

    By Paul Majendie

    LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Should you reject a friend on MySpace? How do you ward off an old lover on Facebook?

    Have no fear. Britain's etiquette bible has come to the rescue for social networkers who are at a loss about how to behave with online decorum.

    Debrett's have helped to compile a new set of "golden rules" for devotees of sites like Facebook and Bebo.

    The rules were put together after research by the telecoms company Orange showed that almost two thirds of social networkers are frustrated and confused by online etiquette.

    It discovered that more than a quarter were uncertain about how to respond to unwelcome "pokes" or messages.

    Eighteen percent confessed to being confused on "how to respond to my ex when in a relationship with someone else."

    Debrett's etiquette adviser Jo Bryant tried to guide the confused through what can be a social minefield.

    Acknowledging that social networking has made new demands on traditional etiquette, she said "My advice is to play it safe and always employ your usual good manners when online, treating others with kindness and respect."

    And you should never throw caution to the wind.

    Mark Watt-Jones, head of development and innovation at Orange, said "Whether you are checking your Facebook profile or posting photos of friends on MySpace at work, these guidelines will ensure you never lose old friends or make unwanted new ones."

    The golden rules compiled by Debrett's with Orange are:

    1. You don't have to make friends with people you don't know. Think before you poke.

    2. Wait 24 hours before accepting or removing someone as a friend. The delay will help you gather your thoughts.

    3. Birthdays, engagements and weddings are not "virtual" events. Always send cards or phone friends when there is an important event.

    4. Think before posting a friend's photo what you would feel like if it was you.

    5. Think carefully about your profile picture. Would you want it to be appearing in your local newspaper?

    (Editing by Paul Casciato)

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Reuters - Google CEO talks of good, evil and monopoly fears

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    Google CEO talks of good, evil and monopoly fears

    Thursday, Jun 12, 2008 8:1AM UTC

    By Eric Auchard

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt on Wednesday detailed his theory of competition in the Web industry while saying Google's famous mantra of "Don't be evil" is often misunderstood.

    In an on-stage interview with writer Ken Auletta of the New Yorker magazine, Schmidt said "Don't be evil" is meant to provoke internal debate over what constitutes ethical corporate behavior, rather than representing an absolute moral position.

    "We don't have an 'Evilmeter' we can sort of apply -- you know -- what is good and what is evil," Schmidt said before an audience of media industry professionals at an event sponsored by Syracuse University's Newhouse School in San Francisco.

    On other fronts, Schmidt said Google was taking a patient view to making money from online video advertising, while it sees mobile phones attracting the most lucrative ad rates.

    Google is moving to transform YouTube, its popular online video-sharing site, into a money-maker via new forms of advertising it will unveil over the next year, Schmidt said.

    He was cautious about how profitable this might prove to be. For now, YouTube's video traffic consumes the majority of Google's outgoing network bandwidth. But he said it could possibly lead to the "creation of a whole new industry."

    "We don't yet know how we are going to make significant amounts of money on YouTube," Schmidt said. "But it seems obvious that we should be able to make some money from this."

    His optimism is based on two key facts: "We know people are watching it" and "We have the luxury of time to invest."

    Speaking of the emerging market for Web-based advertising on mobile phones, Schmidt said the vast majority of Google searches on mobile phones were done on Apple Inc's year-old iPhones, which prominently feature a Web browser.

    "Mobile looks like it will ultimately be the highest of ad rates," because ads can be targeted by user location, he said.

    DEBATING CORPORATE EVIL

    When he first joined Google as CEO seven years ago, Schmidt acknowledged thinking the "Don't be evil" phrase was a "joke" being played on him by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

    Schmidt recalled sitting in Google's offices later in 2001 when an engineer interrupted a strategy discussion over a planned advertising product by saying, "That is evil."

    "It is like a bomb goes off in the room. Everything stopped. Everyone had a moral and ethical conversation, which by the way, stopped the product," Schmidt said.

    "So it is a cultural rule, a way of forcing a conversation, especially in areas which are ambiguous," he said of how the mission statement works in practice at Google.

    Schmidt reaffirmed that the company's primary goal is not to make money selling ads, whether it is banner ads or ads on Web searches, online video, TV and mobile phones.

    "The goal of the company is not to monetize everything, the goal is to change the world ... We don't start from monetization. We start from the perspective of what problems do we have," he said, referring to big, world-class problems.

    Apart from its main business, Google also backs, through its philanthropic arm, Google.org, efforts to develop renewable energy, prevent disease and promote government transparency.

    But with its growing dominance of the search market -- the starting point for many Internet users -- Google increasingly faces comparison to arch-rival Microsoft Corp, with its long-standing domination of the computer software market.

    Google has weathered criticism from human rights activists for doing business in China and over privacy issues that spring from the mountains of data its computers collect on Web users.

    THEORY OF COMPETITION

    Speaking to reporters following the interview with Auletta, Schmidt challenged the notion that Google dominated the Web.

    He said that while Google may dominate the market for text-search advertising against weaker cross-town rival Yahoo Inc, Yahoo is the leader in the hot online display ad market, preferred by corporate marketers for brand marketing. He noted it is a larger market than text-based search ads.

    Schmidt declined to comment on whether talks had cooled with Yahoo on an ad partnership deal that would pose an alternative to talks between Microsoft and Yahoo on various potential partnership deals, including ads.

    He argued mature industrial markets allow big players both to compete and cooperate, citing IBM as a model. With an antitrust decree hovering over its head for decades, IBM evolved a strategy of becoming a components supplier that enabled many other high-tech companies to thrive.

    Schmidt contrasted this style of open competition to what amounts to a winner-take-all strategy by Microsoft to dominate the Windows software market and related business software.

    "The Microsoft model, where it is the only competition, is not, in fact, the model in mature industrial structures," Schmidt said. "The mature industrial structure is that 'piece parts' are built by people in reasonably fair and open ways."

    "You have to resolve in your mind the fact that there is competition and collaboration in mature industries."

    (Editing by Braden Reddall)

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Reuters - Google lets users measure the power of words

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    Google lets users measure the power of words

    Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008 1:55AM UTC

    By Eric Auchard

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Number-crunchers can rejoice as Google Inc offers deeper access to the underlying figures for users' Web searches, giving some insight into trends based on the relative popularity of various words.

    The Internet search leader is expanding its existing Google Trends service to allow users to see underlying numerical data on the popularity of any particular search in Google's vast database of search terms, relative to others.

    Google Trends was begun two years ago as an entertaining but limited way to indicate what the world is thinking about over time, at least in terms of Web searches.

    Now Google is giving users the ability to search across terms in its database, instantly chart how they compare to other search terms, then export the underlying numerical data into a common spreadsheet format to compare with other data.

    Google Trends (http://trends.google.com/) lets users compare demand for various search terms and see how popularity differs across geographic regions, cities or languages.

    A year ago, the company introduced Hot Trends, which gave users insight into fast-rising Web search trends with data refreshed several times daily. The tool's power only grows as people conduct more and more of their everyday activities online, with Web search often their primary starting point.

    The data in Google Trends stretches back to 2004. While the service is based on the many billions of individual searches performed each year, Google Trends only reveals data on the aggregate numbers of searches, not the searches themselves.

    National differences in the endless human search for sex or love can vary widely, according to a Google Trends chart. http://tinyurl.com/5jt5ce/

    Google Trends users can also chart the explosion of interest in the term "backdating" since 2006, reflecting the scandal over how hundreds of companies backdated options for executives. http://tinyurl.com/5l8osu/

    Searches for the word "Microsoft" had a more than two-to-one-lead in searches over "Apple" three years ago, but Apple had virtually closed the gap by the end of 2007.

    Then news reports of its takeover bid for Yahoo appears to have stoked a recovery in Microsoft this year. Searches for Microsoft have outnumbered those for Apple by about 7 to 5 in recent weeks, according to Google Trends data.

    Users must be registered and signed into a Google account to use the service. One can then see the evolution of new terms or concepts through Google searches, including the rise of "Google Trends" itself. http://tinyurl.com/6zd6pg/.

    (Editing by Braden Reddall)

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Reuters - HP aims to transform market with touchy-feely PCs

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    HP aims to transform market with touchy-feely PCs

    Tuesday, Jun 10, 2008 5:35PM UTC

    By Georgina Prodhan, European Technology Correspondent

    BERLIN (Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard, the world's biggest computer maker, launched a new generation of PCs on Tuesday that respond to users tapping or stroking the screen, potentially bringing user-friendly computing to the masses.

    The TouchSmart All-in-One is designed around music, photos and video but has a full set of PC functions, and is the most persuasive product yet in HP's turnaround of a PC business that was once defined by run-of-the-mill products and low margins.

    The starting price of $1,299 for the TouchSmart, which will go on sale in 17 countries in July, is comparable with that of other premium models that are less distinctive and easy to use.

    The way icons or documents on the screen can be enlarged, diminished or scrolled through by a fingertip brush of the screen is reminiscent of Apple's iPhone, although HP has been developing touch technology for a quarter of a century.

    "No new product has been more significant as this new TouchSmart PC we just showed you," said David Roman, head of marketing communications for HP's Personal Systems Group, at HP's main annual product launch held this year in Berlin.

    Todd Bradley, the group's executive vice president, told Reuters: "We don't think about this as a niche. We think about it as a global product that will inspire demand and drive desirability," he said, but declined to speculate on what size the market for such PCs might reach.

    Crawford Del Prete, executive vice president of global research at IDC, said: "I think the price point is getting compelling for a premium PC. I think it would be even more attractive if they could get it under a thousand."

    He pointed out, however, the risks HP was taking by making large investments in an unproven market.

    "It requires a set of marketing expertise and it requires a significant amount of investment," he added. "An Apple or someone else could do this but it's not for the faint of heart, it's not for people who don't want to invest in the product."

    HP's touchscreen technology works on top of Microsoft's Vista operating system, and product managers said there were no current plans to develop versions for other operating systems, such as open-source Linux.

    HP's launch came a day after Apple announced a new version of its ground-breaking iPhone, the original version of which sparked intense interest in touchscreens and a host of imitators.

    IDC's del Prete said: "I don't think Apple's impact can be underestimated."

    Rob Enderle, chief analyst with technology research firm the Enderle Group, said HP's products launched on Tuesday, which include 17 new notebooks and a professional display monitor that can show a billion colors, could put it out of rivals' reach.

    "Todd Bradley took a unit that many thought was a liability to HP and turned it into one of HP's top performers and into segment leadership ... to a point where it may not be possible for a competitor to catch it," he said.

    The new TouchSmart PCs will launch in countries including the United States, Japan, China, India and Britain on July 13. The models sold in Europe will be about half as expensive again as their U.S counterparts, partly due to extra features.

    Del Prete said the HP TouchSmart could appeal to social groups such as families or students sharing an apartment who wanted a PC that could also double as a group messageboard or second television set.

    When invited to compare the touchscreen interface with the early days of PCs, when users unfamiliar with using a computer mouse would commonly jab at the monitor with a fingertip, del Prete said: "Now you point at the screen and something happens."

    (editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

    Monday, June 9, 2008

    Reuters - Apple iPhone encore expected

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    Apple iPhone encore expected

    Monday, Jun 09, 2008 2:55PM UTC

    By Scott Hillis

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - June has arrived and for Apple Inc fans and investors that means just one thing -- a new iPhone.

    The encore to the original iPhone, which launched nearly a year ago amid unprecedented industry buzz, is widely expected to be the main attraction when Chief Executive Steve Jobs takes the stage at Apple's developers' conference on Monday.

    The new iPhone will be accompanied by support for corporate e-mail and a slate of new programs that could help boost sales of the devices, which sport a touch-sensitive screen, wireless Internet access and iPod-style media functions.

    "The thing for Apple is to be able to leverage the iPhone for further innovation, or they run the risk of being the next (Motorola) RAZR, which was iconic in its own way, but for which innovation did not come fast enough," Shiv Bakhshi, director of mobility research for market research firm IDC.

    Apple has declined to comment on what Jobs will announce, but analysts are betting he will show off a long-rumored phone running on a so-called 3G, or third-generation, network.

    That would address one of the chief complaints about the current iPhone: the speed at which it calls up Web pages on AT&T Inc's pokey EDGE network.

    That is a particularly important concern in Europe, which is ahead of the United States in building new networks and where sales of the iPhone have lagged.

    "I see 3G as important for the U.S. but essential for overseas," analyst Avi Greengart of Current Analysis said of a faster iPhone.

    "It will be appreciated by technology enthusiasts and anybody who wants to get fast Web browsing outside the hot spots."

    A new iPhone may be a catalyst for Apple stock. Investors have regained confidence that demand for the company's Macintosh computers and iPod media players is holding up amid fears the U.S. economy is headed for recession.

    Thomas Weisel analyst Doug Reid raised his price target on Apple shares on last Monday to $225 share from $195, citing strong demand for its laptops and sales of up to 16.5 million iPhones next year.

    INEXPENSIVE IPHONE?

    There is also speculation Apple could bow to a cellphone industry practice and offer a subsidized iPhone, an arrangement where AT&T could kick in a couple hundred dollars to make the devices more affordable. AT&T already gives Apple a slice of the monthly service fees it gets from iPhone subscribers.

    "We think that actually Apple could talk about a very disruptive business model, or a change in their business model, embracing subsidies where necessary, multiple carriers to help get the iPhone into more hands," Lehman Brothers analyst Ben Reitzes told a conference call last week.

    But more important than the actual hardware will be new services and programs that can tap the increased power.

    Some reckon that will include the ability to download songs from iTunes using the cellular network. IPhone users now have to be connected to a Wi-Fi network to get music from Apple's online store.

    Apple will also roll out its highly anticipated support for corporate e-mail, a capability it showed off earlier this year and that is expected to give iPhone a push into business, which now overwhelmingly use Research In Motion Ltd's Blackberry devices.

    Apple will also launch its iPhone "applications store" that will sell programs made by developers outside of Apple. The service marks an about-face for Jobs, who initially blocked third-party software from the device.

    "That's important for developers who can now build this out as a critical platform for Apple," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research. "The potential here is sort of unlimited."

    (Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Andre Grenon)

    Wednesday, June 4, 2008

    Reuters - Ed McMahon fights foreclosure on Beverly Hills home

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    Ed McMahon fights foreclosure on Beverly Hills home

    Wednesday, Jun 04, 2008 5:37PM UTC

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ed McMahon, the longtime sidekick to U.S. talk show host Johnny Carson, is fighting to save his multimillion dollar Beverly Hills home from foreclosure, McMahon's spokesman said on Wednesday.

    McMahon, 85, most famous for his "Heeeeeeeeere's Johnny" introduction to "The Tonight Show" for 30 years, is one of the most high-profile people to be caught up in the U.S. housing downturn and credit squeeze. Beyond his "Tonight Show" duties, McMahon also hosted popular U.S. TV talent show "Star Search."

    Spokesman Howard Bragman said the jovial TV personality was having "very fruitful discussions" with his mortgage lenders after a notice of default was filed in February.

    According to public records, McMahon was then about $644,000 in arrears on the mortgage for the six-bedroom, five-bathroom home in an exclusive area of Beverly Hills. The house has been on the market for about two years and the current asking price is $5.75 million.

    Bragman said McMahon fell and broke his neck about 18 months ago, preventing him from working. His health problems and the weak housing market forced him into foreclosure proceedings.

    McMahon and his wife Pamela "understand that they are in the same situation as hundreds of thousands of other hard-working Americans, and their hearts go out to them," Bragman said.

    According to the National Association of Realtors, 14.5 percent or one in seven homes for sale across the nation in April were the result of foreclosure.

    (Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by David Wiessler)

    USA TODAY - U.S., Japanese scientists win prize for nanotech

    This story has been sent from the mobile device of Bombastic4000@gmail.com. For real-time mobile news, go to m.usatoday.com.

    MADRID, Spain
    By Ciaran Giles, Associated Press

    Three Americans and two Japanese scientists hailed for developing materials to fight diseases and protect the environment were named winners Wednesday of the Prince of Asturias prize.

    The scientists won the 2008 technical and scientific research award for their work in the field of nanotechnology, the Prince of Asturias Foundation said.

    The five, who work separately, are physicist Sumio Iijima; engineers Shuji Nakamura and Robert Langer, and chemists George Whitesides and Tobin Marks.

    "These scientists have created new, revolutionary materials and transcendental techniques for fighting diseases, such as those related to the brain and cancer, and for producing artificial tissues and organs," the foundation said in a statement.

    "Their work also stands out for its contribution to the protection of the environment and energy-saving via the use of new sources of clean energy that may be produced at a low cost," the foundation said.

    Eight Prince of Asturias prizes are awarded each year in categories such as arts, scientific research, sports, letters and humanities.

    They will be awarded a $78,000 cash prize and a sculpture by the Spanish artist Joan Miro. The prizes are named for Prince Felipe, heir to the Spanish crown, and are presented each fall in Oviedo, capital of the northern region of Asturias.

    Iijima, who works at Meijo University, is credited with discovering carbon nanotubes, giving rise to a new generation of ultralight, ultrastrong materials used in the safe storage of hydrogen, one of the fuels of the future.

    Nakamura, now working at the University of California, Santa Barbara, invented LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes, a revolutionary source of energy-saving light.

    Langer is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he directs an internationally renowned biomedical research laboratory. He is considered the father of intelligent drug delivery in the body, greatly enhancing the treatment of different types of cancer.

    Whitesides teaches at Harvard University and has won numerous awards for his work in developed nanoscale materials.

    Marks works at Northwestern University and is considered a leader in the field of chemical catalysis, having developed numerous types of recyclable, environmentally friendly plastics.

    Website address: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/nano/2008-06-04-asturias-prize_N.htm

    Reuters - AMD launches much-awaited Puma notebook chip line

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    AMD launches much-awaited Puma notebook chip line

    Wednesday, Jun 04, 2008 6:33AM UTC

    By Duncan Martell

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Advanced Micro Devices Inc is rolling out a much-awaited line-up of chips for laptops, as Intel Corp's main rival seeks to regain a competitive footing against the world's biggest chip maker.

    AMD, which in April posted its sixth consecutive quarterly loss amid missteps and market-share losses to Intel, said the launch of the processors and related parts, code-named Puma, is its largest-ever launch for notebook personal computers.

    AMD counts more than 100 different notebook PCs designed to use versions of the Puma platform. "This is double the design wins over any previous mobile launches," Leslie Sobon, director of product marketing at AMD, said in a phone interview.

    PC makers using Puma chips include Acer Inc, Asus, Dell Inc, Fujitsu Siemens Computers BV and Hewlett-Packard Co, she said. Prices for the mobile PCs will be mid-range for laptops, from about $700 up to $2,000. Most will be available in time for the back-to-school shopping season, and some will be available this week.

    Growth in desktop PCs has been slowing for years, and the mobile segment is where the fastest growth is in the PC industry. Market research firm IDC predicts that consumers will buy more mobile PCs than desktop PCs by the end of this year.

    "It is a good platform and I think the design wins are a testament to that fact," IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell said. "Everybody wants a serious competitor to Intel, you can't ignore that. But people aren't going to randomly take an alternative if it's not any good."

    Sunnyvale, California-based AMD is offering three versions of the Puma platform -- a collection of the microprocessor, wireless chips to connect to WiFi, and related chips. Puma uses AMD's Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core processor as its brain.

    At the cheaper end, AMD's new platform will use graphics technology integrated in the chipset, allowing video-gaming and also good enough to play back digital media seamlessly.

    A chipset is a collection of semiconductors and components surrounding the microprocessor, a computer's electronic brain.

    For those who want better graphics, AMD will sell another platform to PC makers for about $50 more. That will use both a graphics processing unit, from AMD's ATI graphics unit, as well as the integrated graphics functions of the chipset.

    Typically, Sobon said, when a PC has a discrete, or separate, graphics chip, the built-in integrated graphics functions of the chipset are disabled.

    At the pricier end, AMD will include a high-end discrete ATI graphics chip for more intense gaming as well as working with high-definition home movies and the like, Sobon said.

    "What we've heard clearly from our customers is that consumers have enough productivity power. They don't need to open Excel or Microsoft Word any faster," Sobon said. "What people need more performance on is ripping CDs, watching high-definition movies, editing and creating home movies."

    The initial focus of the launch is on consumers, but AMD will also target small and medium-size businesses, which is a high-volume market and profitable for big PC makers, AMD said.

    Puma's processing engine will not be the Barcelona core, which is in AMD's latest chip used to power servers, but had a small design flaw that delayed volume shipments. AMD has since fixed the problem and aims to ramp up production of Barcelona.

    "Barcelona is another bet they have," said Roger Kay, president of market researcher Endpoint Technologies Associates. "I had initially thought that Puma would not do that much for them simply because (Intel's mobile chip) Centrino has so much momentum."

    "But as it's unfolded it looks like Puma might be quite successful for AMD," Kay said. "In mainstream notebook computing, this is a very viable alternative to Intel."

    (Editing by Braden Reddall)

    Reuters - Rare Marley and Hendrix performances sold online

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    Rare Marley and Hendrix performances sold online

    Wednesday, Jun 04, 2008 1:51PM UTC

    By Ray Waddell

    NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Vintage concert performances by such acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix will soon join the nearly 500 recordings already available for download purchase at the music and memorabilia site Wolfgang's Vault.

    The additions were made possible through a deal between Universal Music Group (UMG) and Wolfgang's Vault founder Bill Sagan. The recordings include live performances by UMG artists culled from thousands of concerts produced by late promoter Bill Graham, along with gems from other catalogs and archives dating back decades.

    "This is a far-reaching agreement to make available what I would consider previously unreleased live performance recordings of Universal Music Group artists from the mid-'60s on through today," Sagan told Billboard.com. "It covers hundreds of UMG performers and thousands of live performance concerts."

    Sagan launched the Web site in 2003 after acquiring Graham's cache of memorabilia and concert recordings for $5 million. The downloadable content deal is for 10 years, with a streaming deal stretching "into perpetuity," Sagan said.

    If the concert is longer than 30 minutes, a full download is priced at $9.98, with concerts of less than 30 minutes at $5.98. Some one- or two-song performances cost $3.98. The site will continue to offer free streaming.

    "Of the 1,434 concerts that are up on the site, 488 can be downloaded right now," said Sagan. "And some very major artists will be downloading within the next 30 to 60 days."

    Eventually the product will be offered as CDs and vinyl under Universal's direction. "There will be physical product," Sagan said.

    A quick run through the site shows vintage performances for sale by artists including the Alarm, Fleetwood Mac, the Kinks, Billy Joel, Iggy Pop, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople, Poco, Steve Miller, the Tubes, Uriah Heep, Warren Zevon and many others. (http://www.wolfgangsvault.com)

    Reuters/Billboard

    Monday, June 2, 2008

    CNN - Kennedy at North Carolina hospital for brain surgery

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    Kennedy at North Carolina hospital for brain surgery


    Sen. Edward Kennedy was at Duke University Medical Center on Monday for surgery to treat a malignant brain tumor.

    In a statement, the 76-year-old Democratic icon said he and his wife, Vicki, "along with my outstanding team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, have consulted with experts from around the country and have decided that the best course of action for my brain tumor is targeted surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation."

    Aides said the senator would be going into surgery around 9 a.m. ET and the surgery would last four to six hours.

    Afterward, Kennedy said in the statement, he expects to remain in the hospital "to recuperate for approximately one week."

    He added, "Shortly thereafter, I will start radiation treatments at Massachusetts General Hospital and begin chemotherapy."

    Kennedy, a senator from Massachusetts since 1962, suffered a seizure May 17 while walking his dogs at his home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts.

    Three days later, Kennedy's doctors at Massachusetts General said that preliminary results from a brain biopsy showed a tumor in the left parietal lobe was responsible for the seizure.

    The surgeon is Dr. Allan Friedman, Kennedy's statement said. Friedman is chief of the division of neurosurgery and co-director of Duke's Neuro-Oncology Program, according to the hospital's Web site.

    Friedman is responsible for more than 90 percent of all tumor removals and biopsies conducted at Duke, the medical center's Web site says.

    It's possible Kennedy will be awake for his surgery, according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent a neurosurgeon.

    Friedman and the Duke hospital are known for surgery called "motor mapping" in which doctors locate the areas of the brain responsible for things such as movement and speech and map these areas to ensure they are avoided.

    Often during such operations, surgeons ask a patient to repeat certain words or make a movement such as squeezing a hand so they can identify areas of the brain involving speech and movement.

    They then attempt to remove as much of the tumor as they believe they can safely, Gupta said.

    Gupta said earlier that a tumor in the left parietal lobe could affect the senator's ability to speak and understand speech as well as the strength on the right side of his body.

    Gupta said such tumors don't usually metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.

    "What they do do -- and I think that's a concern to people -- is that they grow, and sometimes they invade other normal parts of the brain. That is the big concern here," he said.

    Malignant glioma is the most common primary brain tumor, accounting for more than half of the 18,000 primary malignant brain tumors diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.

    Kennedy used his statement Monday to focus on the presidential race as well his surgery. "After completing treatment, I look forward to returning to the United States Senate and to doing everything I can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president," he said.

    Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, described Kennedy as a "giant" of the Senate.

    "I think you can argue that I would not be sitting here as a presidential candidate had it not been for some of the battles that Ted Kennedy has fought," Obama said.

    "He is somebody who battled for voting rights and civil rights when I was a child. I stand on his shoulders."

    Obama's rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, said Kennedy's courage and resolve made him one of the greatest legislators in Senate history.

    "He's a fighter. There isn't anybody like him who gets up and goes out and does battle on behalf of all of us every single day," Clinton said. "I know he's a fighter when it comes to the challenges he's facing right now."

    Sen. John McCain, the GOP presumptive presidential nominee, also offered his thoughts and prayers for Kennedy's family.

    "I have described Ted Kennedy as the last lion in the Senate. And I have held that view because he remains the single most effective member of the Senate," McCain said.

    President Bush said in a statement he was saddened by the news and would keep the senator in his prayers.

    "Laura and I are concerned to learn of our friend Sen. Kennedy's diagnosis. Ted Kennedy is a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength and powerful spirit. Our thoughts are with Sen. Kennedy and his family during this difficult period," he said.

    Kennedy had surgery in October to clear his carotid artery in hopes of preventing a stroke. Until the seizure, the powerful Democrat appeared in fine health. He suffers chronic back pain from injuries suffered in a 1964 plane crash.

    Kennedy is one of only six senators in U.S. history to serve more than 40 years. He is an iconic liberal champion of social issues such as health care, family leave and the minimum wage.

    He is the youngest of four brothers in a powerful and legendary family. His oldest brother, Joe Kennedy, was killed in World War II; John F. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States and slain in 1963; and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a former U.S. attorney general, was running for president when he was assassinated in 1968.

    Sunday, June 1, 2008

    Reuters - Small PCs big news as economy slows

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    Small PCs big news as economy slows

    Sunday, Jun 01, 2008 5:40PM UTC

    By Baker Li

    TAIPEI (Reuters) - Smaller, low-cost PCs are likely to be at the top of the shopping list for technology buyers gathering in Taipei this week for the world's second largest computer fair, as an economic slowdown in the United States forces consumers to cut back on spending.

    Shoppers are feeling the pinch from rocketing fuel costs and rising prices, and in the United States the subprime crisis has left lenders less willing to hand over credit, leaving some consumers reluctant to buy new expensive personal computers and gadget heavy mobile phones.

    Cheaper, low-cost PCs, such as Asustek Computer Inc's <2357.TW> Eee computer, aimed at emerging markets and buyers of additional computers, may keep growth on track for many computer and component makers.

    These PCs, many with longer battery lives and wireless connection features, will share the stage with a line of eco-friendly computers with slimmer, energy-efficient displays and solar power systems, designed to cut power consumption as oil prices soar and consumers seek ways to reduce their environmental impact.

    "We don't have deep pockets now," said Kevin Chung, manager at Taiwan's Jih Sun Investment Consulting.

    "We really have to watch closely on the buying interest because that is going to be a signal on how the recovery's strength will be in the second half."

    Asustek Computer, which makes the runaway success Eee PC, will display new, wider-screen models that allow users to do everything from storing video clips in shock-proof flash memory and surfing the Web in coffee shops.

    Acer Inc <2353.TW>, Taiwan's most famous PC brand, will also test the water by introducing similar low-cost PCs as it expand into fast-growing emerging markets, including China and India.

    "We will launch a notebook different than the ones we've sold before and targeted at a new consumer segment," an Acer spokeswoman said.

    Next to Acer's booth, Intel Corp <INTC.O> will be promoting its new processors, as the U.S. chip giant sees a big market for ultra low-cost PCs that can fit in one's pocket and for the netbook, a PC selling for about $250.

    WIMAX

    The show's organizers say a total of 1,725 exhibitors, including foreign technology companies, such as Intel and AMD <AMD.N>, will attend the June 3-7 show in Taipei, up 29 percent from last year to a record high.

    They arrive at a time when semiconductor and display makers are scaling down their capital spending to ease pressure on the supply side, and when a new batch of computers, mobile phones and game machines have just hit the stores.

    Research firm IDC predicts that worldwide PC shipments are expected to rise 13 percent, to reach 296 million units in 2008, and will grow about 10 percent in each of the next two years.

    For the first time, Computex buyers can have a quick tour by using trial laptops that have an ultra-high-speed Internet technology, WiMax, built in when they take free shuttle buses, the organizers said.

    Many Taiwan PC makers and telecom operators have pinned their hopes WiMax technology winning the battle to be the fourth-generation mobile standard of choice.

    Global spending on WiMax infrastructure, including base stations and equipments, is likely to grow to $3.5 billion in 2011, more than tripling from 2006, according to IDC.

    "WiMax has been getting much chatter and with players like Sprint <S.N> and Google <GOOG.O> coming in, its a huge push for the technology," said Rosemary Ho, Chairman and CEO of Global Mobile Corp, a WiMax license holder in Taiwan.

    Intel has also made a big bet that mobile WiMax will take off soon, even though many large operators in developed countries are throwing their weight behind a rival technology, known as Long Term Evolution (LTE).

    (Additional reporting by Sheena Lee)

    (Editing by Louise Heavens)

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