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Originally published July 16, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 16, 2009 at 9:29 AM

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Brier Dudley

Amazon makes good on cracked Kindles

Excerpts from the blog After countless calls and e-mails, Amazon.com finally responded to the story we broke Tuesday about a Seattle customer...

Seattle Times staff columnist

Excerpts from the blog

After countless calls and e-mails, Amazon.com finally responded to the story we broke Tuesday about a Seattle customer suing over Kindles being damaged by their protective cover.

Amazon will now replace Kindles cracked by the cover for free instead of charging $200 and excluding this problem from warranty coverage, spokesman Andrew Herdener said.

Herdener would not comment specifically on the lawsuit, though. His statement:

"We do not comment on active litigation. Nevertheless, we encourage anyone who has an issue with the cover-attachment mechanism to return the cover and device for a free replacement so we can investigate further."

That won't stop the lawsuit, however:

"If they would like to resolve the matter, I think the way to do it is through a court-approved process," said Beth Terrell, the Seattle lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of Matthew Geise.

Terrell said it's a welcome change to have Amazon fixing the devices at no charge, but the extent of the reparations isn't clear from the brief statement.

"What I'm concerned about is it may not take care of all the class members," she explained. "What we want is a consistent and comprehensive resolution for everyone who has been affected by this problem and will be affected in the future."

Terrell said she's "pleased" Amazon is trying to take care of its customers.

"That's the point of the lawsuit — the reason we have class actions, and the reasons they go through a court approval process — to make sure there's a binding obligation to truly take care of everyone who has been damaged or will be damaged by this product."

PC sales show life

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IDC's latest PC market report said second-quarter sales fell less than expected — down 3.1 percent vs. the 6.3 percent it had predicted.

It's a great follow-up to Intel's blowout earnings that goosed Wall Street on Wednesday, and a setup for Microsoft's earnings report next week.

IDC said "portables," including netbooks, helped, as did consumer demand for new computers in the U.S.

The U.S. PC market appears to be stabilizing or improving — "a hint of recovery" that's tempered by the growth in lower-end systems that will drag down the market's overall value, Bob O'Donnell, IDC vice president, said in the release:

"The market continues to rely on consumer purchases, with a substantial weakness in the commercial space. We expect to see more of the same as we enter the busy shopping season of the second half of the year. In the longer term, an expected recovery in the commercial segment should boost growth in 2011."

Globally, Hewlett-Packard is still the largest PC maker with a 20 percent share. It's followed by Dell, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba.

In the U.S., Dell's sales fell 19 percent but its 26.3 percent market share was just ahead of HP's 26 percent.

HP sales rose 2.3 percent, while third-place Acer's sales leapt 51 percent and fourth-place Toshiba saw a 34 percent jump.

Apple's sales fell 12 percent and its U.S. market share fell to 7.6 percent, from 8.5 percent.

On the patent beat

A few Eastside inventors shared some news on the patent front this week.

Conor Myhrvold, son of Intellectual Ventures boss Nathan, e-mailed to say his human air-bag system received a patent recently.

Myhrvold, a Princeton sophomore, co-invented the system with a few others, including his brother, father and Edward Jung, who co-founded Intellectual Ventures in Bellevue.

The "wearable/portable-protection system for a body" is envisioned as a system with sensors that trigger the inflation of protective bags with a gas.

Meanwhile, Steve Leytus, president of Redmond's Nuts About Nets, said the company has applied for patents on a new Wi-Fi diagnostic technology.

The "indirect measurement of microwave interference" technology — or IMMI — enables standard 802.11 devices to be used as RF analyzers, to quantify the performance of 802.11 channels.

Leytus said in the announcement that IMMI could also be used on Wi-Fi chips to provide real-time monitoring of channel performance, perhaps enabling them to dynamically change to the optimum channel.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley's blog excerpts appear Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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About Brier Dudley

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.
bdudley@seattletimes.com | 206-515-5687

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