? All Tech Radio Episode 373
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  • Shoppers still in search of Nintendo's new Wii U video game system have their work cut out for them. The game system, released Nov. 18, was "effectively sold out at retail" last week, says Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime. "As soon as new product goes into stores and was put on the shelf, it was immediately purchased. … The demand is quite strong out in the marketplace." Nintendo sold more than 400,000 Wii U systems - for $299.99 and $349.99 -- during its first seven days in U.S. stores, Fils-Aime says, citing internal Nintendo sales figures from retailers.
  • If you've ever wanted to give an iTunes song or movie to a friend on Facebook, you now can do it with Facebook Gifts. Starting today, Facebook users can send their friends iTunes digital gifts instantly through the service. The digital gift amounts are set at $10, $15, $25 or $50. You can recommend specific songs and videos to your giftee, but they're under no obligation to buy it with the credit, which can be used to purchase anything on iTunes
  • Samsung has unloaded 5 million Samsung Galaxy Note II handsets in approximately two months, the South Korean company announced this week. Not bad for a device that occupies the murky middle ground between small tablet and super-sized smartphone. As we noted recently, the display on the Galaxy Note II measures 5.5 inches, corner to diagonal corner, which is an inch and a half larger than the already-pretty-big 4-inch display on the new Apple iPhone 5. (For an extra point of comparison, the Kindle Fire has a 7-inch display.) It even comes with a stylus to help navigate all that screen space. ...
  • Tablets are outselling laptops. The trend is due to the release of an increasing number of tablets with wallet-friendly prices, such as the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire 7, both of which are priced at $199. Adding to this is the growing number of choices in terms of tablet sizes. Since the 9.7-inch Apple iPad was introduced in 2010, electronics manufacturers have come up with tablets which have displays that span 7 inches, 7.9 inches, 8.9 inches, 10.1 inches, and 10.6 inches. Consumers also currently have different operating systems to choose from to suit their needs, including Android, iOS, and Windows 8.
  • According to reports, the Lumia 920, to Nokia's relief, is finding a strong fan base. In Germany, the device is said to have sold out, and UK site Phones Limited reported Nov. 26 that, according to Yahoo China, Nokia has sold more than 2.5 million Lumia 920 smartphones in the few weeks since its release. The plight of those early Lumia adopters, who in June were promised an update to a version 7.8, which would extend Windows Phone 8's Start screen, amid a few other perks, received some attention Nov. 24, when tech write Paul Thurrott called out Microsoft on failing to offer an update on 7.8's whereabouts.
  • Earlier this month, Ford announced that it had delivered its 5 millionth SYNC-enabled vehicle. Until now, users had to follow a rigid and somewhat unnatural process to get SYNC to switch radio stations or play a certain song by using their voice. Now, however, drivers can just say "play " to request a specific artist, song, album or genre. Drivers can also just say "play FM 101.9? instead of having to explicitly tell the system whether you want to listen to regular radio or satellite radio (or you just say "play CNN" and the system will know that you want a satellite radio station). The overall accuracy of the voice recognition system, Ford says, should also now be significantly better, thanks to using Nuance's latest speech software, VoCon 3200 4.2. Ford also improved the Bluetooth phone-pairing mechanism with this update by doing away with the need to type in PINs. Drivers now simply press "OK" if the PINs on the phone and the car match.
  • Facebook will hold a vote, possibly later this week, in which it will ask users to abolish their right to vote on changes to the social network's privacy policies.The social network announced last week that it was seeking comments on its proposal to take away its users' right to vote on these sorts of changes. If 7,000 comments are received by Wednesday then Facebook, by its own rules, will hold a referendum on the topic. That threshold appears to have been met -- as of Monday morning, there were more than 12,000 comments on Facebook's English-language post -- which should trigger the third vote in the social network's history. If Facebook handles the vote in the same way it has in the past, it could be held later this week or next.
  • The online world is buzzing as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations Agency, holds a conference next week in Dubai that critics fear could be used to user in a new era of Internet censorship. The ITU is responsible for promoting communication and information technology, and has its roots in telecommunications regulation dating back to the telegraph era. The meeting will consider revisions to the International Telecommunications Regulations treaty, which has not been updated since the advent of the Internet. Some countries are said to want the ITU's scope extended to include Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the Internet. According to a report from InformationWeek, search giant Google is concerned about a UN takeover and has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and lobby against a change in the status quo. Google has set up an awareness site, called Take Action.
  • It's a long ways from April Fools' Day, but someone had a little fun with fake Google acquisition news today. According to a press release on PRWeb, Google bought Wi-Fi provider ICOA for $400 million. The trouble is the press release isn't real, according to ICOA. The company's chief financial officer, Erwin Vahlsing Jr., told CNET in an e-mail that the news is false. He didn't provide any other information. ICOA Chief Executive George Strouthopoulos, meanwhile, told CNET that the company has "never had any discussions with any potential acquirers." "Someone, I guess a stock promoter with a dubious interest, is disseminating wrong, false and misleading info in the PR circles," he said in an e-mail. "ICOA will report this to the proper authorities."
  • Online shoppers are increasingly using mobile devices to buy gifts for the holidays, according to IBM's 2012 Holiday Benchmark Report, and those shoppers overwhelmingly prefer Apple's iPad and iPhone to do so. Black Friday purchases via mobile devices accounted for nearly one quarter of all sales for the busy holiday shopping day, up from 14.3 percent in 2011 and 5.2 percent in 2010. And, according to further analysis by Asymco, 77 percent of all those mobile purchase originated from an iOS device. "The iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smart phone, reaching nearly 10 percent of [all] online shopping," IBM noted in a press release. "This was followed by iPhone at 8.7 percent and Android 5.5 [at] percent." Asymco's Horace Dediu crunched the numbers further, showing that the share of online shoppers using Android devices has stalled, while the iPhone and iPad have grown significantly.

email from listeners:

  • Sarah from Portland asks "If I buy an Apple iPad and an iPhone, what applications and songs will sync between the two without having to buy them all over again?"