As Nintendo continues to bleed, forecast revised downwards

TOKYO - Japanese game maker Nintendo Co. said today its net loss grew to 70.3 billion yen ($925 million) for the six months through September, battered by the strong yen and weaksoftware sales.
The maker of the Wii game console and DS handheld slashed its forecast for the full year through next March to a 20 billion yen ($263 million) net loss, it said in a statement. In July, it had predicted an annual net profit of 20 billion yen.
Nintendo, which scored success by courting casual gamers, is now battling increased competition from Apple Inc.'s iPhone and other devices that offer simple games.
Competition in portable gaming is also heating up with the anticipated arrival of rival Sony Corp.'s latest portable offering, PlayStation Vita. Vita goes on sale in Japan on Dec. 17, and early next year in the U.S. and Europe.
The strong yen has also dealt a heavy blow to the company, which receives nearly 80 percent of its sales overseas. Nintendo said exchange rate losses totaled 52.4 billion yen ($689 million).
Overall sales during the half-year tumbled 41 percent to 215.7 billion yen. And the half-year loss was twice as big a loss as the company had projected in July. During the same period last year, it had a net loss of 2 billion yen.
Nintendo's 3DS handheld, which offers 3D gaming without special glasses, has been a relative disappointment since it went on sale in February in Japan and in March overseas.
The company is fighting to win back customers ahead of the critical year-end shopping season, cutting the price of the 3DS, and is coming out with more games, including 3D versions of its trademark Super Mario games.
The price reduction has lifted 3DS sales, the company said Thursday. For the six months, it sold 3.07 million units of the 3DS, and 8.13 million units of software.
One title, "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D," sold more than a million units, but the company acknowledged that the 3DS "has yet to have many hit titles."
Sales of its regular DS handheld for the half-year fell to 2.58 million units from 6.69 million the same period a year ago. Sales of Nintendo DS software declined to 28.99 million units during the six-month period from 54.84 million last year.
As for its Wii game console, sales for the period fell to 3.35 million units from 4.97 million units last year, while software sales declined to 36.45 million units from 65.21 million a year earlier.

Source: AP News


It's an e-mail scam, not a "Nigerian scam"....

Editor's Corner

Imagine my surprise when I turned to the consumer page of the Attorney General of the State of Washington to find that a whole people, in this case citizens of Nigeria, had been painted with a wide brush (see former website content below in italics). Regarding the latter, I am talking about the much talked about e-mail scams or advance fee fraud, many believe originated from that West African nation.
"E-mail Scams - Advance fee and counterfeit check/Nigerian scams: If you suffered a financial loss you can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at"
To better understand this issue, it will be prudent to give a brief overview of the most populous country on the African continent, a nation that has disbursed so much good to much of humanity, with some bad mixed in (show me a perfect country or people).
Nigeria gained its independence from Britain on October 1st, 1960. For the last 51 years, the country has experienced a civil war (that lasted for three years 1967-1970 and killed 1 million of its citizens) while also enjoying a long spell of economic prosperity and boom from the 70s to the late-80s (much from oil and other natural resources she has been blessed with).
Lately, beginning in the 1990s, the countrys infrastructure, image and over-all national reputation has taking a beating, mainly as a result of defective leadership laced with unbecoming greed and avarice.
The general climate of corruption (not quite different from what you would find in most countries but quite overt in Nigeria) has led to an expected societal breakdown, where law, order and common decency became an exception and not the norm.
For all of its struggles with corruption and the systematic destruction of its storied instututions and culture, much of this by its own military, with the acquiescence of the West (the latter mostly concerned with taking its resources by any means), the country has re-set itself back on course, with democratic elections in 1999 and has never looked back since.
The descent into "white collar crime" with the e-mail scams and other forms of criminal activity (by a very marginal minority) does NOT define the nature and character of Nigerians (close to 200 million people), with many Nigerians contributing as physicians, scientists, technology experts and business executives in much of the world, particularly Africa, Europe and the United States (with a well established immigrant population in the Puget Sound as well).
While the e-mail/advance fee scam has generally been portrayed as a "Nigerian Scam", recent investigations by the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) (working in conjunction with the FBI and Interpol) have shown that most of these crimes (e-mail/advance fee scams) have actually been commited by citizens of other West African countries, namely Ghana, the Sierra Leone and Liberia (due to the wars and extreme poverty in the latter two).
The interesting spin to the preceding information is that America's next door neighbor, Canada, has become a notorious breeding ground as well for a large proportion of these e-mail and other transactional scams. Witness the Canadian "lottery winner" e-mails as well as the offer to send you a "cashiers check" when you try to sell your car on Craigslist.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a body recently set up by Nigeria's democratically elected government, has also been very aggressive in pursuing the perpetrators of ALL financial crimes, within the Nigerian state.
While it is true that the Nigerian government "needs to do more to ensure that this menace is curtailed (at least within its borders), one can say that the US government also needs to do more, by advising its citizens not to reply to e-mail solicitations to receive money from "relatives", they never had in Nigeria or anywhere else in the first place.
The advance fee fraud and e-mail scam developed a life of its own by the default of enablement. The greed and avarice in the United States (particularly on Wall Street) is there for all to see, but I am yet to see any Attorney General websites or newspapers refer to those as "American scam" or even worse still, label the scam on Wall Street with an ethnic delineation.
I am grateful to the deputy Chief-of-Staff of the Washington AG for heeding my call and that of other well-meaning and hardworking Nigerians to remove the "Nigerian" label on this disgraceful activity.
One would hope that the likes of Sean Robinson (Staff Writer at the Tacoma News Tribune) might also learn something and understand that much like the criminals on Wall Street and those on the corners of the worst neighborhoods of Tacoma and indeed America who murder (serial killers et al), rape, pillage, molest and commit countless heinous crimes, are not branded with an American or other ethnic-American brush, it would be fool-hardy to do the same to others.


NATO's hypocrisy and a dictator's death by the drain

Editor's Corner

It is obvious to many now (although most of us had said it) that NATO's sole motive for being at the helm of the so-called "humanitarian mission to protect civilians" in the Libyan conflict, was to eliminate Muammar Gaddafi, the late Libyan dictator. Dan Glazebrook recently wrote that the NATO mission had been turned on its head as French and British leaders with the acquiescence of Washington, sought to use the opportunity to pursue their own personal agenda.

There is no questioning the fact that Gaddafi needed to go, but that should have been up to the Libyan people and not a band of thugs and marauders, who have in fact raped and pillaged, while also summarily executing thousands of innocent African immigrants in Libya.

What is befuddling is that neither NATO or Washington know exactly who these Libyan "liberators" are, or do they....

Several credible reports have emerged since the war began that there is in fact a strong Al-Qaeda  presence in the National Transitional Council.

That France, Britain and the United States, the first two in particular could be seen as hypocrites in all of this, is not even debatable. After all, this was the same Gaddafi that the likes of Nicolas Sarkozy (the new Napoleon), Gordon Brown, Barack Obama and Silvio Berlusconi, welcomed as a friend at the G8 Summit in Italy, just two years ago.

The irony of all ironies is that most of the same weapons allegedly used by Gaddafi to "murder his own people" were supplied to him by, you guessed it, his "old friends" in Britain and the United States.

Here are some cold facts to ponder:

  • Many of the weapons used by Libyan dictator’s regime were in fact purchased from Britain. According to the AP: “Britain sold Libya about $55 million worth of military and paramilitary equipment in the year ending Sept. 30, 2010, according to Foreign Office statistics. Among the items: sniper rifles, bulletproof vehicles, crowd control ammunition, and tear gas”
  • The notorious Khamis brigade troops (Libya’s elite forces under the direct command of one of Gaddafi son’s) contracted an $170 million command and control system from General Dynamics UK – one of the deals cut with the personal backing of the then British PM Tony Blair.
  • Not only did the British arm the forces of the Gaddafi regime, they also trained them. The Khamis brigade troops were also trained by the SAS as well as being armed by British companies.
  • The British government was complicit in the rendition and torture of several Libyans and one of the victims Sami al Saadi is currently suing the British government, for its active organization and participation, as revealed in documents unearthed, after Gaddafi's fall.
  • Documents also show that the CIA kidnapped the Libyan rebel commander Abdel Hakim Belhaj in 2004, along with his pregnant wife and he was delivered to Gaddafi's regime for rendition. 
  • According to a BBC report, from the files unearthed at Gaddafi's compound after his overthrow, CIA agents were indeed present at some of those interrogations at the notorious Abu Selim prison. 
  • Ironically, it was Saif al Islam, Gaddafi's son who is still at large, who freed Belhaj in 2010, under the "de-radicalization" drive, championed by the former. 
While the CIA had obviously begun their relationship with the regime earlier, by 2008, former president George W. Bush sent his top diplomat Condoleezza Rice to Libya for talks with the regime, and in the same year, Texas-based Exxon Mobil signed an exploration agreement with the Libyan National Oil Corp. to explore for hydrocarbons off the Libyan coast.

According to the same AP Report, the White House approved the sale of military items to Libya in recent years, giving private arms firms licenses to sell everything from explosives and incendiary agents to aircraft parts and targeting equipment. 

Furthermore, the Bush administration approved the sale of $3 million of materials to Libya in 2006 and $5.3 million in 2007. 

In 2008, Libya was allowed to import $46 million in armaments from the US. The approved goods included nearly 400 shipments of explosive and incendiary materials, 25,000 aircraft parts, 56,000 military electronics components, and nearly 1,000 items of optical targeting and other guidance equipment.

One can conclude that the West, with Britain, France and the United States leading, armed and supported Gaddafi and his legion of doom, in the torture and sometimes murder of Libyan opposition figures and other citizens, opposed to his tyrannical rule.

They supported Gaddafi politically by opening up diplomatic channels and meetings, while also working hard to open the regime up to Western commercial interests.The United Nations, for all its chattercrawl, was itself complicit in all this, albeit, mostly by default.

Gaddafi's fate should be an eye-opener for all to see that not all that glitters is gold. African and non-Western leaders, whose countries possess untold resources, germane to the sustenance of Western economic interests, need be aware, that the latter will go to any length, to get what they need and want.

That the United Nations and its "first cousin" the ICC have become a tool for the various machinations of Western imperialists, is even more reason for leaders of African and other developing nations, to reconsider their membership of those failed institutions.

Video of Gaddafi's capture and subsequent execution below (Warning! - Graphic Material):


Apple full-year profits up 85%

The world's biggest technology company Apple has reported full year results, showing net profit for the year to 25 September at $26b, up 85% from the previous year.
Even that was not enough to satisfy Wall Street, with the shares falling nearly 5% in after-hours trading.
There was some disappointment with the fourth quarter of the year, when no major new products were released.
It is the first set of results since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs.
In the fourth quarter of the year, Apple sold 17.1 million iPhones, which was a 21% increase on the same period last year, and 11.1 million iPads, which was a 166% increase.
But analysts had been expecting iPhone sales of 20 million in the quarter.
Apple said sales were hurt in September by customers waiting for the new version, the iPhone 4S, which was released on 14 October.
It sold four million of the new models in the first three days after launch.
"The numbers came in weak. They need to set records every time they report to keep up the momentum," said Colin Gillis, analyst at BGC Partners.
Apple sold 4.9 million Mac computers in the quarter - up 27% over the same period last year.
Many analysts believe that the company's future remains "uncertain" as core consumer fear of a lack of continuity of innovation, following the death of Jobs, may ultimately lead to the loss of some brand loyalty.


Like most colonial atrocities, German crimes against humanity haunt Namibians

Germany refuses to pay reparations for its crimes in Namibia

In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, film-maker and columnist Farai Sevenzo asks why there are no memorials to those killed in Namibia during German colonial rule.
According to The Namibian newspaper, there was a 2.8% decrease in the number of tourists visiting Namibia last year while some 984,099 visitors had gone through Windhoek airport in the year of Africa's football World Cup in neighbouring South Africa.
When I read these figures, I assumed the slight decrease could only be due to the depressing global economic climate - for anyone who has seen the beauty of this stunning African nation would gladly return there were it not for the cruel fate of the gods of credit, who have ordered the tourists to stay at home instead of travelling to faraway lands.
After all, an elephant in the bush may look better in high definition television.

But as we were reminded in the last week, 107 years before this year's high definition nature programmes, a different kind of visitor had been in South West Africa - as Namibia was known before its independence in 1990 - in search of conquest, not elephants.
Between 1904 and 1908, German occupiers systematically massacred ancestors of the Herero and Nama people for daring to rebel.
Under the leadership of Lieutenant General Lother von Trotha, the rebelling groups were killed or driven into the desert, where thousands died of thirst - all normal practice at the time for conquering armies.
But it was what followed which has cast a century-long shadow over German-Namibian relations.
'Gruesome experiments'
Not content with mere conquest, the Germans placed the survivors in concentration camps, built their colony with slave labour and then shipped off thousands of heads belonging to the dead to Berlin - for the totally barbaric aim of proving the inferiority of the defeated Africans in dubious medical experiments.
Fast forward to free Namibia, which had been demanding the return of these skulls, lost to German storage units.
It is a fact of life that we all value our dead, that the living wish to honour the departed and the ruthless disregard for the humanity of the owners of these heads would weigh heavily on any African.
Much had been written about the parallels of the Namibian genocide with its gruesome experiments surrounding the African dead and the subsequent Nazi holocaust of World War II.
Modern German politicians were quick to offer their regret for the sins of their forefathers and claimed to accept "moral responsibility" for the genocidal crimes of the past.
But no reparations were to be paid to the Herero and Nama descendants of this bloody history.
Instead, the German government says it already pays through development aid and recently announced about $173m (£110m) in aid for 2011-2012.
'Prayer and anguish'
Despite the fact that the Namibian victims of this crime see it as genocide, Germany has never acknowledged it as such and the scars of the past remain fully visible in the present day.
Namibia is not a poor country - fish and beef exports, diamonds and uranium - should be supporting 2.1 million people.
Yet the legacy of German colonialism has left hundreds of thousands without land and German descendants still farm on land that was forcefully taken from the murdered.
It is not difficult to imagine how such a situation may end, particularly as a tiny fraction of the population continues to run the economy and the landless remain without land.
As 20 skulls from the thousands that were taken arrived in Windhoek last Thursday, many voices were raised in prayer and anguish and, Africans being as close to their dead as they imagine their dead are to them, a deep sense of gravitas seemed to overlay proceedings.

But no firm answers were given on the issue of reparations - nor when the Herero and Nama can expect the rest of their ancestors' heads to be returned.
And in present day Namibia, frequented as it is by hundreds of thousands of tourists - German and other kinds - there is no standing memorial to the Namibian dead, no plaque at Luderitz, Swakopmund or Shark Island to mark the sites of German concentration camps or the mass graves of those who died.

Why should such a story matter? For those of us with such short histories, the past is a permanent shadow, forever by our side or right behind us.
Just 27 years before South Africa's Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu - 80 last week - was born, a German army commander was issuing orders, in writing, to exterminate Namibians, drive them into the desert and poison the wells.
There are volumes of records in the Windhoek Archives detailing the massacres and recording every death of enslaved laborers.
Of course, there are those who say we must move on, we must close the chapters on tragic histories.
It is our lot on this continent to forever be urged to forget the past when such a past is so near and is as tangible as a four year old's skull in a medical laboratory far from African lands.
No amount of development aid could erase that.

Kercher family remember 'forgotten' daughter

Kercher was murdered in cold blood
By Colleen Barry and Alessandra Rizzo

PERUGIA, Italy — Meredith Kercher would have been 25. The British student would have finished her degree at Leeds University and perhaps been preparing for another Halloween, a day she loved.
Instead, her family awaits an appeals verdict expected Monday against former roommate Amanda Knox, of Seattle, who was convicted along with her Italian ex-boyfriend of murdering Kercher in 2007.
Kercher's killing has spawned one of Italy's most sensational and closely watched trials. Yet to her family's frustration, Kercher has been eclipsed in the public's eye by the 24-year-old Knox, as supporters of the photogenic American mount a high-profile campaign to free her.
By contrast, Kercher's family has chosen to remain largely silent during the years of trial and appeal, quietly honoring her memory on the Nov. 1 anniversary of her death and her birthday on Dec. 28. But they are growing increasingly agitated as the appeal verdict approaches.
In one of the few TV interviews they have granted, Kercher's sister Stephanie and mother Arline said attention should focus on justice for the victim, not Knox or her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who is also appealing his conviction alongside Knox.
"In this whole case — going on four years — Meredith has been forgotten," Stephanie Kercher said in a recorded interview on RAI public television this month.
"The attention has completely moved from Meredith to Amanda and Raffaele," she said. "She was lovely, kind and we lost her."
On her last Halloween, one day before her death, Meredith dressed as a vampire. Photographs, some of the last of her life, show her smiling brightly with red lipstick, a high-collared cape wrapped around her neck.
The young student fought hard for approval from her university to study in the charming medieval town of Perugia, arriving in September 2007. She was excited to have found a room with a view of the Umbrian landscape, court records show. She shared the apartment with two young Italian women and Knox, who moved in around the same time.
Kercher made friends fast, testimony in the first trial shows. Within weeks, she had a small group of British girlfriends with whom she went dancing or watched films, and she had started dating a young Italian living downstairs. Giacomo Silenzi has said they fell in love quickly, and has been left to wonder what the future might have held had she not been killed.
On the last night of her life, she ate pizza and apple crumble with a small group of friends, watched a movie and went home alone around 9 p.m., according to court testimony.
Meredith was 21 when she was found the afternoon of Nov. 2 sprawled naked on the floor of her locked bedroom, throat slashed, body covered in a blanket.
Prosecutors claim that she was murdered when a drug-fueled sexual encounter with the two defendants and a third man went awry. Rudy Guede, an Ivorian who lived in Perugia from age 5, is serving a 16-year sentence for his role in the murder.
Knox was sentenced to 26 years, Sollecito to 25. All three proclaim innocence.
Meredith's father John Kercher, a freelance journalist, has said he refused to view her body, so he could remember as she was in life.
"I had last seen her a couple of weeks before, when she flew home to buy winter clothes. We met for a coffee and she showed me some boots she had bought," John Kercher wrote in the Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid. "I want that to be the one memory of my daughter I hold in my mind forever."
She was the baby of the family, with three older siblings — two brothers and a sister.
She loved ballet and gymnastics, and had an orange belt in karate. She wrote poetry and stories. People remembered her as being warm and generous, full of hugs, lending class notes to anyone who asked, and always rushing to help anyone who needed it.
After arriving in Perugia, she kept a cell phone with a British number to stay in close contact with her mother, who was in poor health.
Only one vice is ever mentioned. "She was always late, always running," her mother Arline said on the RAI TV interview. "She was a girl full of life. She loved music, she loved to dance. She was full of joy in her heart."
The degree the quietly studious Kercher would have been awarded in 2009 was granted posthumously. It was accepted by her sister Stephanie to a standing ovation at Leeds.
During rebuttals on Friday, the Kerchers' lawyer, Francesco Maresca, urged the jury to "confirm the truth" in front of the victim's mother, sister and a brother, who would make the journey to Italy for the verdict.
"You will look Meredith's family in the eyes only once," Maresca said. "They could not always be here in court due to the mother's health problems and siblings' economic problems."
In fact, he said, they had trouble finding airline tickets for the verdict, which the lawyer contrasted with reports that the Knox family had a private jet ready to whisk the American student out of the country in the case of a not guilty finding. Knox's family has denied the existence of such a plan.
Earlier, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said acquitting Knox would mean forever losing a chance at justice.
"We know what an acquittal means — a swift escape abroad," he told the appeals court. "Escape we could no longer remedy."
The prosecution detailed DNA evidence and other circumstantial clues as they had their last chance to talk to the jury.
While they cling to their memories, the Kercher family says it will continue to fight for justice — even as it delays their own process of healing.
The Kerchers have no doubts about whether Knox is guilty — and express rage that she's garnering most of the attention.
"As a journalist myself, I know the reason why. Knox is young, attractive and female. To many, she seems an unlikely killer," John Kercher wrote in The Daily Mail tabloid in December as the appeals trial got under way. "Yet to my family she is, unequivocally, culpable."

Source: AP News


Kindle Fire vs iPad

AP Photo: Amazon's Kindle Fire
A look at some of the major differences between Amazon's just-announced tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, and Apple's populariPad:
Price: The Kindle Fire, which connects to the Web over Wi-Fi networks, will cost $199 when it begins selling on Nov. 15. The iPad costs $499-$829, depending on storage capacity and its wireless capabilities.
Screen size: The Kindle Fire's display measures 7 inches at the diagonal, while the iPad has a 9.7-inch display.
Software: The Kindle Fire runs Google Inc.'s Android software. The iPad uses Apple's iOS software.
Storage: The Kindle Fire includes 8 gigabytes of internal storage, and free web-based storage for any digital content you get from Amazon, such as Kindle e-books, movies or music. The iPad includes between 16 gigabytes and 64 GB of storage space, depending on price.
Thickness: The Kindle Fire is 0.45 inches thick; the iPad is 0.34 inches thick.
Weight: The Kindle Fire tips the scales at 14.6 ounces — slightly less than a pound — while the iPad weighs about 1.3 pounds.
Apps: Kindle Fire users will have built-in access to the Amazon Appstore, which includes thousands of free and paid games and apps. Apple currently offers more than 425,000 free and paid games and apps in its online App Store — more than 100,000 of which are tailored specifically for the iPad — including apps for and the Kindle.
Camera: While the iPad has front and rear cameras for taking photos and video chatting, the Kindle Fire does not include a camera.


Featured Technology: AMR/AMI Technologies for the Utilities Space

Image Courtesy: iFusionIT
 iFusionIT, LLC, a Bellevue, Washington based multinational technology company, has launched itself into building applications and expertise in the Utilities domain with the launch of three customer funded projects in the space of AMR/AMI technologies. ZCON (Zero Consumption), ReX Relationship Exceptions) are built as part of the MPA (Meter Performance Analytics) initiative and the last one being the TAT (Technology Assessment Tool).

On many occasions a meter transmitting read over the network could go faulty and report NO USAGE or sometimes a perfect meter reports NO USAGE. Utilities spend huge amount of resources, and money to investigate such meters. Most of the time such meters are either seasonal (Ex: Agriculture Meters), Vacation Homes and many other possible situations. ZCON (Zero Consumption) is a .NET, WCF, WPF based application with Oracle and SQL Server as the backend.

The system tracks every meter reporting zero usage using batch, real-time interfaces and a web front-end from the start to finish (meters start consuming or are replaced). This tool has allowed our clients to have visibility, monitor all ZERO CONSUMPTION meters and allowed for proper tracking of every meter reporting ZERO CONSUMPTION.

Built using latest Microsoft Technologies, this tool enhances the user’s ability to report vintage dates and resolution of meters. Reporting features were built using SSRS and SSIS to report on different categories and irregular use codes. Various levels of reports from operations to Analytical Reports were custom built. The data structures and design is architected to produce auto tracking and progression of meters over a period of time from a NEW and UNKNOWN category to a Service Order Creation and resolution of the meter.

The middle tier Web services focused to provide smooth integration between various systems within the organization is built on a solid foundation from Microsoft’s WCF platform. Webservice’s defined and developed follow CIM compliance models with a message envelope and a Payload. These web services are built as listeners and provide data outputs and data validations for various systems integrating within ZCON called the ReX (Relationship Experience) modules. The services connect to SQL and Oracle databases with calls to stored procedures and functions to display customer history, customer power usage patterns and seasonal analysis. Our later version will include Silverlight features and a complete SSIS integration into the current software design.

The System exposes 20 services to add meter exceptions, to add events, to add new exceptions and admin functionality.

For more information about iFusionIT, LLC and its technological initiatives, you may contact them at .



Amazon's tablet to seriously challenge Apple's iPad Inc, which revolutionized reading with its Kindle e-reader, is expected to unveil a tablet computer this week that analysts say will seriously challenge Apple's market dominating iPad.
Amazon on Friday invited media to a press conference to be held in New York on Wednesday, declining to provide further details.
But analysts were confident that the world's largest Internet retailer will introduce its long-awaited tablet computer this year to expand in mobile commerce and sell more digital goods and services.
"Wednesday is tablet day," BGC partners analyst Colin Gillis told Reuters.
The tablet has been awaited as a strong competitor to Apple Inc's iPad. Apple has sold about 29 million of the devices since its launch in April 2010.
"The real issue here is that, you know, it is likely going to be good for consumers; is this going to be good for shareholders?," Gillis said. He wondered whether Amazon would price the tablet below those of rivals -- and thereby do little to boost margins.
"Knowing Amazon, it is likely to be a very aggressive price," Gillis said.
In much the same way Amazon's Kindle e-reader was priced low to quickly get traction among readers the company is likely to keep the price of its tablet low to attract users and sell other content and services, one analyst said.
"It's a marketing tool to build a relationship with customers and sell them cloud (computing) services," said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research.
While Amazon has remained tight lipped even about the device's existence, the TechCrunch blog earlier this month said the Amazon tablet also will be called Kindle.
It will be a 7 inch device with a full color, touch screen, run on Google's Android software and cost $250, the blog said, well below the price of the least expensive iPad.
Robert Baird & Co analyst Colin Sebastian said in a note last month than an Amazon tablet would be a "game-changer." Sebastian forecast the device could sell 3 million units in its first year.
The tablet could pose a major threat to Apple because of the Kindle's popularity and the movie and music services Amazon sells.
Forrester's McQuivey said the device also takes aim at Barnes & Noble Inc's NookColor device, which hit the market last year and features tablet functionalities.
Several technology companies like Research In Motion and Samsung have introduced tablets that sold poorly. Hewlett Packard Co announced recently it would abandon its tablet.
Amazon shares finished the day up 0.2 percent at $223.61 on Friday on Nasdaq. The stock had traded as low as $219.06, but rallied as invitations to the media event began arriving.

Source: Reuters


Saudi King okays women to vote... but still can't drive

JEDDAH - Saudi Arabia's king announced on Sunday women would be given the right to vote and stand in elections, a bold shift in the ultra-conservative absolute monarchy as pressure for social and democratic reform sweeps the Middle East.
It was by far the biggest change in Saudi Arabia's tightly-controlled society yet ordered by the 88-year-old Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who took power six years ago with a reformer's reputation but has ruled as a cautious conservative.
In practice, the measure will do little to change how the country is run: Saudi Arabia's rulers allow elections only for half of the seats on municipal councils which have few powers. Only men will vote at the next elections which will take place next week; women will be allowed to vote in 2015.
The king did not address broader issues of women's rights in a country where women are not allowed to drive and require a male relative's permission to work or leave the country.
But the announcement was hailed by liberals and activists who said it raised hopes that other demands for greater democratic and social rights might one day be met.
"This is great news," said Saudi writer and women's rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaider. "Women's voices will finally be heard. Now it is time to remove other barriers like not allowing women to drive cars and not being able to function, to live a normal life without male guardians."
In his five-minute speech, Abdullah said women would be permitted join the unelected advisory Shura Council, which vets legislation although it has no binding powers.
"Because we refuse to marginalize women in society in all roles that comply with sharia (Islamic law), we have decided, after deliberation with our senior ulama (clerics) and others... to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from the next term," he said.
"Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote."
In a country where even cautious change is bitterly opposed by conservative clerics and some members of the ruling family, women's rights have drawn scrutiny at home and from abroad.
Washington, Saudi Arabia's ally, praised the measures, saying they offered women "new ways to participate in the decisions that affect their lives and communities."
"The announcements made today represent an important step forward in expanding the rights of women in Saudi Arabia," said a White House statement. "We support King Abdullah and the people of Saudi Arabia as they undertake these and other reforms."
Robert Lacey, author of two books about the kingdom, described the change as the first positive response to a pent-up demand for reform that has begun to emerge in Saudi Arabia as popular democracy movements spread elsewhere in the Middle East.
During the Arab Spring pro-democracy protests, Saudi activists called for demonstrations, but only tiny numbers of people responded by taking to the streets, apart from members of the Shi'ite minority in the country's Eastern Province.
Saudi Arabia responded by barring demonstrations and by announcing nearly $130 billion in social spending in March.
"This is the first positive, progressive speech out of the government since the Arab Spring," said Lacey. "First the warnings, then the payments, now the beginnings of solid reform."
The king did not address broader issues of women's social rights, such as the ban on issuing driving licenses to women, which prompted small protests this summer by women who defied the authorities and drove.
Women in Saudi Arabia must also have written approval from a male guardian -- a father, husband, brother or son -- to leave the country, work or even undergo certain medical operations.
In 2002, the Saudi religious police shocked the nation and the world when they prevented schoolgirls from evacuating a burning building because they were not wearing full Islamic attire. Fifteen died.
King Abdullah has earned a reputation as a cautious reformer since he started to run the kingdom as de facto regent during the illness of his predecessor, King Fahd.
He built a new university for students of both sexes and encouraged women to participate more in the labor market. But he did little to alter the political system, which placed absolute power in the hands of a single generation of brothers since his father, state founder Abdulaziz, died in 1953.
After entering the Shura Council chamber leaning heavily on a cane on Sunday, Abdullah read only a section of a prepared statement that was later released in full by the authorities.
Tarek Fadaak, a member of the Shura Council and former chairman of the Jeddah city council, said: "The royal decision will not be challenged... but what remains to be seen is how these directives will be applied."
Naila Attar, who organized a campaign for women to be allowed to participate in the municipal council elections, said the move marked the beginning of progress.
"Despite the issue of the effectiveness of these councils, women's involvement in them was necessary. Maybe after women join there will be other changes," she said. "It is the top of the pyramid and a step in the direction for more decisions regarding women."

Source: Reuters