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March 14, 2013

Technology News Briefs — March 14, 2013

Judge Orders Cook to Testify in Anti-Trust Case

A judge has ordered Apple CEO Tim Cook to testify as part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s anti-trust case against the iPhone maker, Reuters is reporting.

Apple has been accused of plotting with five publishers to raise eBook prices. The publishers — Pearson Plc’s Penguin Group, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers Inc, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc, Hachette Book Group Inc and MacMillan —have already reached settlements with the government.

Apple, who had been hoping to avoid Cook’s involvement, reasoned that because the Justice Department already had 11 Apple executives as part of its case, it didn’t really need input from the firm’s CEO as well.

Cook must testify for four hours in a deposition.

The trial is set to take place in June. The government is hoping for a ruling that Apple breached anti-trust law and is seeking an order blocking the firm from taking part in similar deals in future.

BlackBerry Partner Orders 1M Smartphones

BlackBerry has announced it received a record-setting order from an unnamed partner this week.

One of the Canadian firm’s “established partners” has placed an order for one million BlackBerry 10 Smartphones — the largest single purchase order the company has received to-date.

Shipments are to start immediately.

“An order for one million devices is a tremendous vote of confidence in BlackBerry 10,” said Rick Costanzo, BlackBerry EVP global sales. “Consumers are ready for a new user experience, and BlackBerry 10 delivers. With strong partner support, coupled with this truly re-invented new platform, we have a powerful recipe for success.”

The order is a significant one — even for Smartphone retailers like Apple or Samsung, let alone the Waterloo, Ont. company that has been struggling to regain a larger market share.

U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless also revealed earlier this week it will begin accepting pre-orders for BlackBerry’s Z10 beginning this morning. The touchscreen device will be available online and in stores March 28.

Amazon Drops Price on Kindle Fire HD

Amazon has slashed the prices in the U.S. for both versions of its large-screen 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD tablet.

The e-retailer knocked $30 off the prices of its Wi-Fi version to $269 and cut $100 off its 4G version to $399.

An Amazon spokesman said the price cut was not due to slow sales but, rather, to increased production and lower costs.

“We’re thrilled with customer reaction to Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch. Customers tell us they love our large-screen version of Kindle Fire HD for web browsing, email, gaming, watching TV shows, reading magazines, and more,” Amazon Kindle vice-president Dave Limp said in a statement.

The tablet is now available in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan.

“As we expand Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch to Europe and Japan, we’ve been able to increase our production volumes and decrease our costs,” Limp said. “Across our business at Amazon, whenever we are able to create cost efficiencies like this, we want to pass the savings along to our customers.”