Against AAPL and Samsung, HTC Comes in a Distant Third: Back in February, weeks before the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Taiwan-based HTC said its fourth quarter was dismal and its prospects for first quarter 2012 weren’t much better. On Friday, the company did in fact report Q1 net income of $150 million, down from $370 million in the previous quarter and down from $502 million in Q1 2011. HTC, currently the No. 5 smartphone maker, acknowledges the two main reasons it has been difficult for the company to rise in the rankings of smartphone makers: Apple, whose sales account for about 75% of mobile industry profits, and Samsung, which accounts for another 15% of those earnings. Still, HTC did report that sales in March were up 52%, to about $1 million, over February. Apple posted earnings of $13 billion for its first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, and will announce it second-quarter results on April 24. HTC is hanging its hopes on three new phones in its “One” lineup, which were unveiled at MWC.
AT&T OK’s iPhone Unlock for Out-of-Contract Customers: Apple Rumors mentioned the other day that maybe AT&T’s (NYSE:T) out-of-contract customers’ best shot at getting their iPhones unlocked was to email a request for an unlock to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s office, which, at least in some cases, had been affirming the requests and forwarding them to AT&T. Kind of an awkward and somewhat tedious remedy to what had been AT&T’s tendency to balk at unlock requests. But this week, AT&T announced that, beginning April 8, it would unlock AT&T iPhones for customers whose accounts are in good standing and have fulfilled their contract term, “upgraded under one of our upgrade policies,” or paid an early termination fee. As Apple Insider notes, an unlocked AT&T iPhone would be capable of connecting to networks using the GSM communications standard, which has been adopted by most carriers worldwide. The phone would not work on Verizon’s (NYSE:VZ) network, which uses the CDMA standard.
Facilitators of Teen’s Kidney-for-iPhone Plan Face Legal Action: Last June, a report surfaced about a 17-year-old in China’s Anhui province who sold one of his kidneys so he could buy an iPhone and iPad. This week, five people who enabled the transaction, including a surgeon, were charged with intentional injury by prosecutors in Hunan province, who say the boy now suffers from renal dysfunction. One of the defendants received a total of about 220,000 (about $35,000) for the kidney, paying the boy 22,000 yuan (about $3,500) while splitting the rest with the surgeon and other medical staff. Demand for transplant organs far exceeds the supply in China, which has a thriving, if illegal, and a black market for human organs. The organ-for-iPhone market is, we hope, less robust.