The company behind the original “Goophone,” a Chinese iPhone 5 knockoff powered by Android, has beaten Apple (AAPL) to the punch by launching an updated “i5S” version of its smartphone. The handset uses a design that is nearly identical to Apple’s iPhone 5 and it runs a highly customized version of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean that has been modified to look and act like iOS. The handset features a 4-inch “oneglass” screen with 854 x 480-pixel resolution, a 1GHz dual-core MediaTek processor, 512MB of RAM and a 5-megapixel camera, and it costs just $150 in China. A hands-on video of the Goophone i5S follows below.
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The iPhone maker has been rumored to be diversifying its supply chain away from Samsung in order to reduce its dependence on a company that has become its fiercest rival in the mobile device space. Intel, with whom Apple already has a deal in place for its MacBook chips and whose manufacturing technology is widely considered as the best in the world, will be a strategic fit considering that they do not compete in the same space currently. Having missed the mobile business as its x86-based mobile chipsets fail to gain much traction in the market, Intel will be well served if it manages to leverage its manufacturing prowess to become a major player in the growing foundries business. Meanwhile, Apple will look to bolster its margins by fostering greater competition in its supply chain.
Only a week after Apple SVP Phil Schiller called attention to security issues affecting Google's Android operating system, Apple has updated its OS X operating system to make it more secure.
Apple's OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.3 Update, released on Thursday through the company's Software Update mechanism and as a download from Apple's website, includes a variety of changes to improve stability and compatibility as well as security.
But the security fixes are the most necessary changes. The update addresses 21 vulnerabilities, 11 of which could be exploited to allow remote code execution.
Last month, Apple released an update that patched 30 Java flaws in the version of Java 6 that the company maintains, shortly after the company reportedly acknowledged that a zero-day Java flaw had led to the compromise of Mac OS X computers at Apple and other companies.
Java doesn't retain its starring role in Thursday's update, but it does play a part. In a blog post, Sophos security researcher Paul Ducklin characterized CVE-2013-0967 as the most interesting bug fix. Apple warns that the flaw (in OS X's Core Types component) could allow a malicious website to launch a Java Web Start application even if the Java plug-in has been disabled.
"It'll be something of a surprise for anyone who was relying on Apple's newfound strictness against Java to find that turning Java off in your browser didn't necessarily have the desired effect," Ducklin observed.
Software and hardware products in Australia sell for a median 50 percent more than their U.S. equivalents, according to a 2012 survey of 186 songs, games, programs and computers by Choice, a not-for-profit consumer advocacy group. Companies could face restrictions on their ability to set prices in Australia under measures being considered by lawmakers.
“There’s been price discrimination against Australian consumers,” said Matthew Rimmer, a professor at Australian National University in Canberra, who specializes in copyright law. “If the distribution is digital, why are the prices so much higher?”
Rihanna’s album costs A$22.99 ($23.98) in the Australian iTunes store, compared with the $15.99 that fans in the U.S. pay. Bruno Mars’s “Unorthodox Jukebox,” in the Top 10 of both nation’s charts, costs 42 percent more.
Downloads of Microsoft’s Office Professional 2013 software package cost A$599 in Australia, about 50 percent above the $399.99 charged in the company’s U.S. Web store.
“We would love to see lower prices for content in the Australian store,” Tony King, managing director of Apple’s Australia unit, said at the committee hearing in the capital Canberra today. “We would urge the committee to talk to those folks who own the content.”
The biggest difference in prices for music and films was due to the wholesale price set by music labels and film and television studios, he said.
Customers “will vote with their wallets” and buy alternative products if prices are too high, Pip Marlow, managing director of Microsoft’s Australia division, told the committee.
Different packaging distinguished products sold in Australia from those sold elsewhere, Adobe’s Australian managing director Paul Robson said.
“I’d consider a box that has different writing on it to be materially different,” he said.
Sales taxes, different labor and rental costs, marketing spending and the decisions of third-party resellers can all cause Australian prices to be higher, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said in its filing to the committee. Even download sites incur costs for maintenance and support, the company said.
The strength of the Australian dollar has increased the contrast between local and international prices for software, music and entertainment.
The currency, which didn’t climb above parity with the U.S. dollar from 1982 through 2009, has risen more than 50 percent over the past four years and hasn’t been worth less than a dollar in eight months.
The Windows Vista Home Premium software package cost A$455 in mid-2008, 75 percent more than the $240 U.S. price at the prevailing exchange rate, Choice said in its submission. The updated Windows 7 Home Premium package cost A$299 four years later, still 47 percent more than the $199 charged to U.S. users.
Consumers expect prices to be more stable than they would be if they tracked every shift in the foreign exchange market, San Jose, California-based Adobe said in a submission to the inquiry last year.