* Customers spoken to in Japan, Australia, Europe, U.S.By Kate Holton and Poornima GuptaLONDON/SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Apple Inc’s latest iPhone looks set to become its bestselling device ever, and one reason appears to be disenchantment with rival smartphones.Nearly one in four people who thronged Apple stores from Tokyo to San Francisco told Reuters on Friday they were ditching BlackBerries, discarding Nokias or even giving up Google Android-based phones, hoping for something better.The majority of the 127 iPhone 4S buyers polled informally by Reuters in the United States, Japan, Australia, France, Germany and Britain were Apple diehards upgrading their devices.But 28 claimed they were making a switch, with some saying they were disillusioned by Research in Motion after this week’s global BlackBerry outage that enraged millions.”I was with Nokia before, but I guess they’ve sort of lost their way in terms of the interface and everything. Plus, most of my friends use Apple,” Myles Geissler, 25, said while shopping for an iPhone in Sydney.Apple had already pre-sold over a million during the first day it went live on the Internet — a week before it hit stores selves in seven countries on Friday.RIM’s BlackBerry and smartphones by manufacturers such as Nokia — which abandoned Symbian and will this year unveil devices based on Microsoft software — have been losing ground to the iPhone, which is facing a serious threat only from Android phones.The new phone looks similar to the previous iPhone 4 but has a faster processor, better camera and a voice-activated software dubbed “Siri”, which lets users ask the phone questions and helps in logging calendar items.”I am going into fashion and it’s like the official phone of the industry. Also, I am tired of the Blackberry issues, like stuff going down every six months,” said fashion publicist Adam at the Times Square store.RIM’s share of the global smartphone market fell to 11.7 percent in the second quarter, from 13.0 percent in the first, according to Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney. Android’s share rose to 43.4 percent from 36.4 percent, and Apple’s rose to 18.2 percent from 16.9 percent.Sprint reported record single days in the United States for any device — by 1 p.m.”We are seeing a nice mix of people who are first-time smartphone purchasers as well as those who are switching from competitors,” said Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney.Away from the notoriously fickle consumer-gadget marketplace, Apple also appears to be making strides.Apple appears to be a winner when workers get to pick their own phones, in a trend known as the consumerization of IT. Companies can save money when they let employees buy their own phones and pay their own monthly bills.An Aite Group poll of 402 wealth managers conducted before the outage found that 45 percent would choose an iPhone or iPad, compared with 14 percent for a BlackBerry.”Siri is pretty amazing. With Android, you have to memorize commands. I don’t understand why it can’t be on all (Apple) phones,” said James Thompson, who had braved the six-hour drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco just to get in line — overnight — with his brother.
The European Commission said in a statement the deal would not raise any competition concerns.”Autobar and Colomer have limited market shares on their respective markets concerned and their products are not key drivers of consumer demand in health and fitness centres,” the EU executive said.CVC controls vending machine operator Autobar and cosmetics supplier Colomer, which operates in Virgin’s fitness centres.Virgin Active has 254 clubs with 1.1 million members in Britain, South Africa, Italy, Iberia and Australia.
At Germany’s flagship airline, passenger traffic, measured in revenue seat kilometres, rose 4.6 percent in september, while the amount of freight and mail transported by Lufthansa group companies fell 4.1 percent.Lufthansa, which warned on profit last month and said it would offer fewer seats than planned this winter after bookings weakened, said on Wednesday passenger growth was mostly driven by routes to the Americas and Asia-Pacific.The numbers come a day after Lufthansa Cargo received a setback when a court unexpectedly put a temporary halt on night flights from its Frankfurt hub.Equinet analyst Jochen Rothenbacher said the decision could wipe out fourth-quarter operating profit at the unit, which he had forecast at 36 million euros ($49 million). ($1 = 0.733 euro)
* US earnings eyed for growth impact from euro debt crisisBy Chikako MogiTOKYO, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Asian shares fell on Wednesday on signs that Europe’s debt crisis has hurt confidence in the global economy and is starting to weigh on corporate earnings, while the Slovak parliament’s rejection of a plan to expand the euro zone rescue fund added to uncertainty.Slovakia is the only euro zone country yet to approve a plan to boost the funds available to the bailout vehicle, which is seen as crucial to containing Europe’s debt crisis, and a re-vote was expected later this week.While the main opposition party was set to support the measure now the government has resigned, the twist has added to market nervousness just as European authorities were striving to come up with concrete steps to avoid a systemic contagion.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.4 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei average opened down 0.6 percent.Global stocks, as measured by MSCI’s All-Country World index , gained 0.4 percent on Tuesday, but eased after New York close as Alcoa Inc , the largest U.S. aluminium producer, said slowing economic growth knocked prices for the metal lower, denting its third-quarter profit and sending its shares down in after-hours trading.”Alcoa wasn’t all that bad, so we won’t see an ‘Alcoa shock’ today, but investors took it as bad news that the company clearly felt the impact of slowing growth,” said Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities in Tokyo.”Those who were looking for reassurance about the U.S. earnings season didn’t find it,” he said.The euro’s recent rally stalled after the Slovak vote, and was trading down around 0.1 percent on Wednesday at $1.3620.Oil prices fell, with Brent crude futures down 0.4 percent and U.S. crude futures down 0.9 percent.Market sentiment had improved this week, after a weekend pledge by German and French leaders to come up with a plan to tackle the debt crisis. In Asia, China stepped in to shore up banking shares.European officials continued to seek ways to restore the region’s banking sector after the banks’ weakening financial strength due to sovereign debt problems prompted a fresh round of credit rating downgrades.Banking and regulatory sources said on Tuesday that Europe’s banks would have to achieve a significantly stronger capital position under a quick-fire regulatory health check and may need to raise some 100 billion euros ($137 billion).Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Union’s executive European Commission, said he would propose a bank recapitalisation plan on Wednesday, even though there is no agreement yet on where the money will come from.Rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings downgraded Spanish and Italian banks on Tuesday, underscoring concerns about the impact of the escalating debt crisis on the sector.Investors eyed developments on the euro zone debt crisis ahead of an EU summit on Oct. 23, as well as minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting due later on Wednesday For clues on the state of the U.S. economy.