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T-Mobile launches ‘test drive’ program June 23

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle — T-Mobile US Inc. is introducing "T-Mobile Test Drive," a program that lets people receive an iPhone 5s and unlimited nationwide service to take T-Mobile’s network for a seven-day free trial. Starting June 23, people can sign up for T-Mobile Test Drive online.

A few days later, they’ll receive an iPhone 5s fully loaded and ready to use, and they can put T-Mobile’s network to the test for seven full days. After the test, consumers can drop the iPhone off at any T-Mobile store with no money down or obligation. During the first year of the program, T-Mobile expects at least one million people to participate.

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American Apparel moves to fire controversial CEO

BY CSA STAFF

American Apparel’s board of directors has voted to remove Dov Charney as chairman and fire him as president and CEO.

It is expected that the termination will be effective following a 30-day cure period required under the terms of Charney’s employment agreement.

For the time being, Charney is suspended from his positions as president and CEO, effective immediately, pending the expiration of the cure period. The board has appointed John Luttrell as interim CEO.

Luttrell, who has been with American Apparel since February 2011 and currently serves as EVP and CFO, will continue in those positions as well. Prior to joining American Apparel, he served as EVP and CFO of Old Navy, The Wet Seal and Cost Plus.

The board has also appointed Allan Mayer and David Danziger as co-chairmen to replace Charney’s spot. In accordance with the terms of his employment agreement, the board intends to request Charney’s resignation as a member of the board concurrently with the effective time of his termination.

Mayer, who has been a member of the board since the company went public in 2007 and has served as its lead independent director for the past three years, said the board’s decision to replace Charney grew out of an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct — including, according to numerous reports, several cases of sexual harassment.

“We take no joy in this, but the board felt it was the right thing to do,” Mayer said. “Dov Charney created American Apparel, but the company has grown much larger than any one individual and we are confident that its greatest days are still ahead.”

“The board is working with a search firm to identify candidates for the job of permanent CEO and, based on our initial discussions with the search firm, we expect the list of possible successors will be impressive,” added Danziger, who has chaired the board’s audit committee since 2011.

“We have one of the best known and most relevant brands in the world, with employees who are second to none; I believe we have a very exciting future,” said Luttrell. “Our core business — designing, manufacturing, and selling American-made branded apparel — is strong and continues to demonstrate great potential for growth, both in the U.S. and abroad. This new chapter in the American Apparel story will be the most exciting one yet.”

Luttrell added that American Apparel would remain committed to its sweatshop-free, Made in USA manufacturing philosophy.

As a result of the management changes, the company may have been deemed to have triggered an event of default under its credit agreements and will be in discussions with its lenders for a waiver of the default.

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Amazon enters the smartphone ring

BY CSA STAFF

Amazon has thrown its hat into the smartphone ring. At an event in its hometown of Seattle, the online retailer unveiled Fire, the first smartphone it has ever designed.

In a marketplace that’s already crowded with the latest iPhones, Andriods and Blackberrys, Amazon has invested in two new technologies — Dynamic Perspective and Firefly — that make Fire a compelling product that won’t get lost in the mix.

Dynamic Perspective uses four ultra-low power specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs built into the smartphone’s front face, a dedicated custom processor, sophisticated real-time computer vision algorithms, and a new high-performing and power-efficient graphics rendering engine. Customers will be able to read a long web page or a book without ever having to touch the screen thanks to auto-scroll. Tilt in Amazon Music shows song lyrics. Swivel instantly reveals quick actions. Peek in Maps shows layered information such as Yelp ratings and reviews.

Firefly combines Amazon’s deep catalog of physical and digital content with multiple image, text and audio recognition technologies to quickly identify web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus more than 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs and products.

“Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand—instant access to Amazon’s vast content ecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button, ASAP, Second Screen, X-Ray, free unlimited photo storage, and more,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “The Firefly button lets you identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, artwork, and over 100 million items, including songs, movies, TV shows, and products — and take action in seconds. We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective that recognizes where a user’s head is relative to the device — we use it to offer customers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation, and gestures that actually work. And this is only the beginning — the most powerful inventions are the ones that empower others to unleash their creativity — that’s why today we are launching the Dynamic Perspective SDK and the Firefly SDK — we can’t wait to see how developers surprise us.”

Amazon is also offering additional incentives to consumers who pre-order starting today the 4.7-inch, Android-based smartphone with a high-definition display, a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, and a 13-megapixel camera. For a limited time, consumers who buy Fire will get 12 months of Amazon Prime free. Existing Prime members who purchase the smartphone will get an additional 12 months added to their account free.

The smartphone ships July 25 and is available exclusively on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. Fire with 32GB is available for $199 with a two-year contract — an extra 16GB of memory for the same price as many other premium smartphones, Amazon pointed out — or zero money down for as little as $27.09 a month from AT&T on Next 18. Fire is also available with 64GB for $299 with a two-year contract or starting at $31.25/month from AT&T on Next 18.

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