What's Important in the Financial World (3/13/2013)

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147915698Google Privacy Violations

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) admitted that as it collected data for its street mapping initiative, it collected private data from unprotected Wi-Fi systems as well. The penalty for the action was so small that it was meaningless. According to The New York Times:

In agreeing to settle a case brought by 38 states involving the project, the search company for the first time is required to aggressively police its own employees on privacy issues and to explicitly tell the public how to fend off privacy violations like this one.

While the settlement also included a tiny - for Google - fine of $7 million, privacy advocates and Google critics characterized the overall agreement as a breakthrough for a company they say has become a serial violator of privacy.

Complaints have led to multiple enforcement actions in recent years and a spate of worldwide investigations into the way the mapping project also collected the personal data of private computer users.

Galaxy S IV Buzz

The press can barely contain itself as the launch of the new Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone killer approaches. Samsung's Galaxy S IV, based on comments by some sources, will be the greatest smartphone ever made. With nothing actually to cover ahead of the launch, media have resorted to speculation and worthless analysis. According to The Wall Street Journal:

The technology industry will be paying close attention to Samsung Electronics Co. this week when it lifts the curtains on a new high-end smartphone at an event in New York on Thursday.

A lot is riding on the new device as Samsung aims to maintain its lead and boost profits in the increasingly crowded smartphone market.

Samsung executives declined to comment on the new device ahead of its launch, but analysts say the new smartphone will likely have a faster chip and an improved camera. It also will have a slightly bigger and higher-resolution five-inch AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screen and longer battery life than the previous Galaxy S III model.

Under the circumstances, how else could the technology industry spend its time?

Teens and the Internet

Teenagers do not use personal computers to access the Internet as much as they once did. Since almost every American has a cellphone, and many of these are smartphones connected to 3G and 4G networks, the trend makes sense. Also, young people tend to be "early adopters" of new tech products, so teenage use of phones for Internet use should be ahead of other age groups. According to the new Pew Internet & American Life Project study:

Smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive. One in four teens are "cell-mostly" internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.

These are among the new findings from a nationally representative Pew Research Center survey that explored technology use among 802 youth ages 12-17 and their parents. Key findings include:

  • 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
  • 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
  • 95% of teens use the internet.
  • 93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: AAPL, featured, GOOG
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