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A roundup of the latest high-tech news “Hot Off the Wire” from The Associated Press and Local Tech Wire:
• Cell phone sales up 22% as economy recovers
NEW YORK — The number of cell phones sold worldwide rose 22 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, as both the economic recovery and an appetite for smart phones drove a rebound in sales, according to research firm
Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian maker of the BlackBerry smart phones, broke into the top five of the world’s largest phone makers for the first time.
Manufacturers shipped 295 million phones in the quarter, IDC said. The report is based on publicly reported figures from the major phone manufacturers.
The top five and units shipped:
1. Nokia, 107.8 m
2. Samsung, 64.3 m
3. LG Electronics, 27.1 m
4. Research in Motion, 10.6 m
5. 5. Sony Ericsson, 10.5 m
6. Others: 74.6 m
7. Total: 294.9 m
Although growth from last year’s first quarter was strong, the comparison was with a very weak period, when the recession shrank sales. The recovery for the rest of the year won’t look as strong, said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst at IDC. For all of 2010, the firm expects an 11 percent increase over 2009.
Nokia Corp. kept its place as the world’s largest maker of phones, followed by Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc.
However, Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola Inc. dropped out of the top five and was replaced by RIM, which was tied with Sony Ericsson for fourth place. Motorola has seen a multiyear drop in phone shipments continue and has been trying to turn its fortunes around by focusing on smart phones.
Just under the top five lurks Apple Inc., which had higher sales than Motorola for the first time in the first quarter. If iPhone sales keep growing at their current pace, Apple may well become one of the world’s top five manufacturers later this year.
• Amazon adding Twitter, Facebook to Kindle e-reader
SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon.com Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AMZN )Kindle e-reader is getting access to Facebook and Twitter, along with several other enhancements, as part of a software update being sent wirelessly to the devices.
In a posting on Amazon’s site, the company says the new software will let users share book passages on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. The update will also let people sort books and documents into collections and lock their Kindle with a password. There also will be larger font options and the ability to zoom in on PDF documents.
The update comes shortly after Apple released its iPad tablet, which could be the Kindle’s biggest competition. Both can wirelessly download books.
Amazon said it has released the software to some Kindle owners and expects to send it to all users in late May.
• HP names new strategy head for PC business
PALO ALTO, Calif. — Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HP) said Friday that it named a Sears Holding Corp. executive as head of strategy and global marketing for the personal computer business, taking over from Satjiv S. Chahil, who retired this year.
HP said Richard Gerstein, who mostly served as president of marketing for Sears Holding Corp., will start in May.
Gerstein also worked as chief marketing officer for the Sears brand.
HP said Chahil continues to work as a consultant.