Game Devs Jailed for 'Shooting' Greek Military Bases Out on Bail
Today in international tech news: Life imitates art as Greek authorities arrest two video-game developers suspected of spying. Also: Apple introduces installment plans for Chinese customers, hackers plead guilty to thieving Michael Jackson tunes from Sony, and IPO speculation abounds after Alibaba's CEO steps down.
Video games strive to be realistic, but this was probably too real.
Two game developers from the Czech Republic were released on bail after being jailed for taking photos and videos of military bases and installations in Greece, according to the BBC.
The duo, Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar, work for Bohemia Interactive. They were arrested in September in Greece after capturing images that local authorities deemed sensitive. The photos and videos that Buchta and Pezlar took were going to be used in Bohemia video games "to help build one of its game worlds," according to the BBC.
The two men, who were released on roughly US$6,500 bail, will have to return to Greece later this year to appear before a court. Alas, the court date is not known because Greek judges have been on strike.
Apple Introduces Installment Paying in China
In an effort to make its products more affordable, Apple has unveiled an installment plan for shoppers on its Chinese website, according to Businessweek.
China is the world's largest computer and mobile device market, but the average income in Shanghai, China's glitziest city, is less than $4,900 per year. In the capital of Beijing, it's less than $4,500.
The iPhone 5, by comparison, cost 5,288 yuan on Apple's China site, which even for a relatively well-paid urban worker equals about six weeks' pay, according to Bloomberg.
Apple, though, will allow purchases of between 300 yuan (about $48) and 30,000 yuan ($4,800) to be paid for over a two-year period. The payments can be split into three, six, nine, 12, 18 or 24 installments, with the two lengthiest plans carrying a 6.5 and 8.5 percent charge, respectively.
Apple has a Bill Me Later plan for U.S. customers, but nothing quite like the Chinese offer.
In the third quarter of 2012, Apple fell from fourth place to sixth in China's smartphone market.
Hackers Skirt Jail After Stealing Michael Jackson Recordings
A guilty plea will allow two British men, 26 and 27, to avoid jail for stealing thousands of unreleased recordings by Michael Jackson and other artists, according to The Guardian.
The two men pleaded guilty to downloading nearly 8,000 files after using their home computer to hack into U.S.-based servers belonging to Sony Music Entertainment.
They were hit with six-month suspended sentences and were ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.
The two hackers claimed that they were looking for evidence that an impersonator sang Jackson's posthumous releases. They were arrested in March 2011 and denied all charges before eventually agreeing to a plea deal.
Alibaba Chief Steps Down
In what many take as another sign of a pending IPO, Jack Ma is stepping down as the CEO of Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd., China's largest e-commerce company.
The 48-year-old Ma told employees that he will remain the company's chairman, according to Bloomberg, but that he will step down as CEO on May 10. Ma, who helped found Alibaba in 1999, has a net worth of nearly $3.5 billion, according to Bloomberg.
The IPO speculation is furthered fueled by Alibaba's September purchase -- for more than $7 billion -- of half of the stake that Yahoo owned in the company.
Alibaba's Taobao online marketplace has more than 500 million registered users and is, according to the company, one of the world's 20 most-trafficked websites.