Free claims 5.4% share of French mobile-phone market

Just days after rivals blamed it for denting their profits, French telecoms upstart Free (Paris, France) claimed to have secured a 5.4% share of the country’s mobile-phone market, with 3.6 million customers, since launching its services in January this year.

The company has been accused of starting a price war by rivals including Vivendi-owned SFR (Paris, France) and Bouygues (Paris, France), both of which announced disappointing results last week.

Android phone makers back platform but consider other options

Reuters

Some phonemakers are quietly exploring alternatives to the Android operating system implicated in the Samsung-Apple ruling, industry watchers say, despite their public pronouncements they are sticking with the technology.

Last week, a U.S. court ruled Samsung's (Seoul, South Korea) Android devices were violating Apple (Cupertino, USA) patents - a major blow to the leading mobile software platform because it could lead to sales bans and high licensing fees.

ZTE launches Intel-based smartphone

Reuters

Chinese group ZTE (Shenzhen, China), the world's fourth-largest mobile phone maker, unveiled its first smartphone model using Intel (Santa Clara, USA) processors, marking an important break into a top-tier handset maker by the U.S.-based group.

ZTE said on Thursday its Grand X IN model, which will go on sale in Europe next month, will mark the start of a wider portfolio of Intel-based products.

"This is the first among a number of handsets in the next 12 to 18 months," Chris Edwards, European business development and marketing chief at ZTE, said in an interview.

Walmart tests iPhone "Scan & Go" feature

Reuters

Walmart Stores Inc (Bentonville, USA) is testing a "Scan & Go" system that would allow shoppers to scan items using their iPhones and then quickly pay at a self-checkout counter.

If the test by the world's largest retailer is successful, it has the potential to change the way people shop and pay, making the process more personal and potentially faster.

Fleet management cuts UK hygiene company's emissions by 28%

The use of fleet-management technology has helped one of Vodafone’s UK enterprise clients to slash its CO2 emissions by 28% a year, according to a new study commissioned by the operator.

According to research carried out by Environmental Resources Management (ERM), Zenith Hygiene Group (Welham Green, UK) has been able to reduce CO2 emissions by almost 600 tonnes a year through the use of TomTom fleet management technology, which Vodafone (Newbury, UK) supports.

IBM and Vodafone team up on 'smarter home' initiative

IT giant IBM (New York, USA) and telecoms operator Vodafone (Newbury, UK) have announced plans to combine their expertise in cloud computing and mobile communications as part of a ‘smarter home’ initiative.

The companies hope to spur the development of ‘smart home’ appliances that can be managed remotely.

Verizon and Altair give boost to 4G M2M market

Mobile operator Verizon Wireless (New York, USA) has struck a deal that could fuel the adoption of M2M services using 4G LTE technology.

Marking what it describes as a “strategic milestone” for the company, Altair Semiconductor (Hod Hasharon, Israel) has revealed that its 4G chipsets have just been certified to run on Verizon’s LTE network.

Certification of the FourGee-3100/6200 chipset will be crucial for original equipment manufacturers in minimizing the time it takes for investments to start generating revenues.

Alstom and Toshiba sign MoU on smart grid business

Energy-management specialist Alstom Grid (Paris, France) and electronics company Toshiba (Tokyo, Japan) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which they will discuss a partnership in the smart grid business.

The companies say they want to look at ways in which they can combine their capabilities in smart grid technology. The ultimate goal, they say, is to develop a range of electricity management solutions that can be used in a variety of settings.

Towers Watson and Hughes partner on usage-based auto insurance

Professional services company Towers Watson (New York, USA) has announced a partnership with Verizon-owned Hughes Telematics (Atlanta, USA) to provide data services to US auto insurers for use with usage-based insurance (UBI) programs.

The deal will see the two companies combine their telematics capabilities to help insurers develop usage-based offers.

The DriveAbility technology from Towers Watson already helps insurers convert driving data into industry-applicable metrics, while Hughes provides data services and connectivity for telematics features.

Bouygues blames rival Free for profit decline

French mobile-phone operator Bouygues Telecom (Paris, France) has blamed new entrant Free (Paris, France) for its dwindling profits and shrinking customer base over the first half of the year.

Net income at real-estate company Bouygues fell by 29%, to €278 million, compared with the first half of 2011, due to the setbacks at the group’s mobile-phone business.

Bouygues Telecom also expects full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to fall by 41% to around €750 million as a result of expenses related to cost cutting.

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