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Global mobile phone sales decline
by Staff Writers
Stamford, Conn. (UPI) Feb 13, 2013

Global sales of mobile phones declined in 2012 compared with the previous year, a U.S. research firm has reported.

Research company Gartner, based in Stamford, Conn., said 1.75 billion mobile handsets had been sold, a 1.7 percent decline from 2011.

"Tough economic conditions" had been partly responsible for the decline in sales, Gartner analysts said.

The data also suggested a weakening demand for feature phones -- lower-end devices with limited functionality -- led to the drop, although smartphone sales had seen a 38.3 percent year-on-year gain over the fourth quarter.

The lead in smartphones continued to be a see-saw battle between Apple and Samsung, researchers said.

"There is no manufacturer that can firmly lay claim to the No. 3 spot," Gartner principal research analyst Anshul Gupta told the BBC.

"Their direct competitors, including those with comparable products, struggle to achieve the same brand appreciation among consumers."

The overall decline in sales marked the first time the market had contracted since 2009, Gupta said.

Touchscreen keyboard can appear, disappear
Fremont, Calif. (UPI) Feb 13, 2013 - A U.S. tech firm says it's developed a touchscreen keyboard that rises from the smooth screen surface to allow text input and then disappears when not needed.

Tactus Technology, based in California, says its technology, based on microfluidics, created physical keys that "bubble" up from the screen for typing then flatten out, leaving the touchscreen completely smooth, CNET reported Wednesday.

The touchscreen panel has channels under its surface filled with a non-toxic fluid that can be pressurized to push up the surface of the panel, creating a physical key.

Varying the pressure can create keys with a soft, gel-like feel or harder like traditional plastic keys, Tactus said.

"The vision that we had was not just to have a keyboard or a button technology, but really to make a fully dynamic surface," Tactus co-founder Micah Yairi said. "So you can envision the entire surface being able to raise and lower depending on what the application is that's driving it."


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Recycled computers offer hope to Romania's needy
Galati, Romania (AFP) Feb 13, 2013
In Romania, one of the EU's poorest countries, hope to many has come in the form of a computer recycling program that is helping jobless adults and disadvantaged Roma youth beat the odds. "People joined forces and created a win-win situation that gives everyone a chance," said Elisabeta Lacatus, a teacher in the eastern city of Galati. Lacatus helps autistic children and Roma youth livin ... read more

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