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In brief: NC student wins second for innovative product

Spokane high school student and entrepreneur Brooke Martin won second place in the recent 3M Discovery Education Young Scientist Challenge, held in Minneapolis.

Earlier this year, Martin helped launch icPooch, a company that is developing a Web-based product that allows pet owners to interact with their dogs while away from home.

Martin competed against nine other young inventors or innovators. The winning competitor, an 11-year-old developer of a new type of water-absorbent sandbag, won $25,000.

Martin, a freshman at North Central High School, won $1,000 plus a paid student-education trip to Costa Rica.

A Kickstarter campaign to raise $70,000 for icPooch failed to hit that mark. Her father, company CEO Chris Martin, said the company is now planning another Kickstarter campaign with a lower investment goal.

Sales of PCs decline for sixth quarter in a row

Worldwide shipments of personal computers fell in the third quarter of the year, the sixth straight quarter of decline as cheaper tablet computers and smartphones cut into demand, according to market research firms IDC and Gartner Inc.

IDC said the market fell nearly 8 percent, to 81.6 million units, while Gartner put the decline at almost 9 percent, to 80.3 million. The two firms define PCs slightly differently.

IDC expects that the PC market will hit bottom sometime next year, with a recovery starting in 2015 as companies and consumers finally replace aging PCs. Gartner says this year will be the worst, with flat shipments next year and single-digit percentage growth in 2015.

“There’s sort of a rubber band effect where PCs that need to be replaced will be,” said IDC senior analyst Jay Chou.

Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said that in developed countries, consumers won’t abandon PCs, though they are holding onto them longer and spending money on other gadgets before replacing them.

Toyota drops prices for 2014 plug-in Prius

DETROIT – Toyota is lowering the price of the Prius plug-in hybrid.

The 2014 plug-in Prius will start at $30,800. That’s $2,100 less than the 2013 model. Prices include an $810 shipping fee.

The 2014 model will also have some new features, including standard heated cloth seats.

The new pricing makes the plug-in Prius about $4,000 less than a Chevrolet Volt. Ford hasn’t released pricing on the 2014 C-Max Energi, a close competitor of the Prius plug-in.

Plug-in cars can go farther on an electric charge and get better gas mileage than regular hybrids. But sales have been sluggish because of stable gas prices and the vehicles’ higher prices. A plug-in Prius costs about $5,000 more than a regular one.

Just 4 percent of Prius sales this year have been plug-ins.


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