Smartphones outsell mobiles
Industry tracker IDC on Friday reported that shipments of smartphones topped those of basic mobile phones for the first time ever in the first three months of this year. “Phone users want computers in their pockets,” IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo said. “The days where phones are used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away.” The rise of smartphones has put power in the hands of California-based Apple and South Korea’s Samsung, but Chinese companies such as ZTE (中興) and Huawei (華為) have muscled their way into the top five sellers, according to IDC. “Chinese vendors, including Huawei and ZTE, as well as Coolpad (酷派) and Lenovo (聯想), have made significant strides to capture new users with their respective Android smartphones,” IDC Mobile Phone team research manager Ramon Llamas said.
Dreamliner back in air
An Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner jet took off yesterday on a commercial flight, becoming the first carrier to resume flying the Boeing 787 that were grounded worldwide three months ago due to battery problems. The flight took off from Addis Ababa and headed to Nairobi. “I am very happy to see the airplane is back to the air now and I am very happy also we are the first one,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told journalists. The 787 would head back to Addis Ababa later yesterday, airline officials said. The 50 Dreamliners in operation worldwide were all grounded in mid-January after failures of their lithium-ion batteries on two separate aircraft.
US sues Novartis again
The US government on Friday announced its second civil fraud lawsuit against Novartis AG in four days, accusing a unit of the Swiss drugmaker of paying multimillion-dollar kickbacks to doctors in exchange for prescribing its drugs. Authorities said the Basel-based company for a decade lavished healthy speaking fees and “opulent” meals, including a nearly US$10,000 dinner for three at the Japanese restaurant Nobu to induce doctors to prescribe its drugs. They said this led to the Medicare and Medicaid programs paying millions of dollars in reimbursements based on kickback-tainted claims for medication, such as hypertension drugs Lotrel and Valturna and the diabetes drug Starlix. The charges are detailed in a whistleblower lawsuit first filed against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp by a former sales representative in January 2011 and which the US government has now joined.
LivingSocial data hacked
LivingSocial, the second-largest daily deal company behind Groupon Inc, said on Friday it was hit by a cyberattack that may have affected more than 50 million customers. The company said the attack on its computer systems resulted in unauthorized access to customer data, including names, e-mail addresses, date of birth for some users and “encrypted” passwords. LivingSocial stressed that customers’ credit card and merchants’ financial and banking information were not affected or accessed. It also does not store passwords in plain text.