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June 30, 2008

By Bryan Redemske, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

Jun. 29–Chrysler to unveil hot spots on wheels

Chrysler is turning cars and trucks into wireless hot spots.

The company announced last week that starting in 2009, a new feature will allow consumers to purchase a “uconnect” in-car wireless system in most Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles.

As detailed on CNET News, the system offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity within the car to allow people to sync their cell phone address books with the car’s 30-gigabyte hard drive or to control their Apple iPods using the radio and steering wheel controls. And it provides navigation and real-time traffic features that can be controlled by voice recognition or a touch screen.

Using a cell phone network, the Wi-Fi hot spot also can be connected to the Internet, allowing passengers using laptops to surf the Web. Other Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as the iPhone and iPod Touch, probably also will be able to use the in-car Wi-Fi to connect to the Net.

Chrysler didn’t mention which cell phone network will be used to provide the Internet access. And it didn’t list pricing for the service, which probably will be charged as a monthly fee, according to a story by the Associated Press.

PlayStation movies

Sony says it will start a movie download service for its PlayStation 3 home console this summer. Sony eventually will expand the service across its other video-enabled products, including the PlayStation Portable and video-enabled Walkman.

Subsidy for iPhones

The cheapest model of Apple Inc.’s new iPhone, which will go on sale July 11 for $199 in the U.S., costs about $173 to make, according to an estimate by research firm iSuppli Corp and reported by the Associated Press.

The phone updates last year’s model with faster Internet speeds and an improved navigation feature.

Apple’s profit is more than the $26 difference between the cost and retail price. The retail price is subsidized by the exclusive carrier, AT&T Inc.

In effect, the carrier buys the phones from Apple at a higher price, then sells them at a loss that it earns back through monthly fees. ISuppli estimates that AT&T will subsidize each phone by $300. Other analysts have put it at $350.

Sorry, buddy

Microchip maker Intel has decided against upgrading the computers of its 80,000 employees to Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system.

Intel, a person with knowledge of the situation told the New York Times, made its decision after reviewing the costs and potential benefits of Vista.

Intel’s decision is certain to sting Microsoft. The two companies have worked closely to align hardware and software. Indeed, the corporate duo is known as “Wintel” in the PC industry.

New.addresses

The Internet’s key oversight agency has relaxed rules to permit the introduction of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new Internet domain names to join “.com.”

This marks the first sweeping changes in the network’s 25-year-old addressing system, AP reported.

New names won’t start appearing for several months, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers won’t decide on specific ones yet.

The organization still must work out many of the details, including fees for obtaining new names, expected to exceed $100,000 apiece, to help it cover up to $20 million in costs.

Domain names help computers find Web sites and route e-mail. Adding new suffixes can make it easier for Web sites to promote easy-to-remember names. Many of the best ones have been claimed already under “.com.”

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