Showing posts with label apple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apple. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Project Glass Is The Future Of Google

project glass by Google

Over the last few years one could easily say that Google had lost their way. They were no longer known for search. Somehow they’d turned into a company that acquired a series of nonsensical entities, launched half baked products that eventually hit the dead pool or just got into some really weird shit.

But last year that all started to change as the company announced that it would focus on its core products. Hindsight always being 20/20 it all makes sense. It’s like anything else, really. Spitball as many ideas as you possibly can just to see what sticks. And so whether it was by design or not, Project Glass is the future of Google. Not as a product that will make them billions of dollars but what it means for Google as a company and its future.

“The charter of Google X is to take bold risks and push the edges of technology beyond what they’ve been to where the future might be,” Sergey Brin told a small group of reporters duing demo of Project Glass. “We want you to be less of a slave to your devices. It’s been really liberating and I’m really excited to share it with all of you.”

Brin noted that Project Glass is what Google believes could be the next form factor of computing. As it stands now, many of us are willingly beholden to our smartphones with all the web browsing, twittering, pathing, instagramming and whatever else consuming most of our time. Human interaction has all but faded away. The fact that people play the “stacking game” is comical and cute but a sign of how infatuated we are with technology. Glass has the potential to buck that trend by “keeping people in the moment,” said Steve Lee, Product Manager for Glass. Brin also mentioned that Glass shouldn’t be used to fill idle time or to browse the web and that your phone or tablet perfectly fits those needs.

Dorky as they might look, Glass signals the first glimpse of how to integrate such invasive and important technology into our lives in a more seamless way. Isabelle Olsson, the industrial design guru on the team, says the design of Glass ensures “you can look into people’s eyes.” During my brief time with Sergey’s Glass, I can say that the display didn’t hinder my ability to see or look around. The display disappeared until I needed to see what was being shown. I might never have to pull my phone out again to reply to a text, get directions or snap a photo. So, yeah, I’ll deal with looking like a dork but don’t be surprised to see Glass integrated with existing glasses. Brin did mention that Google has been in talks with eyeglass makers and the like.

While the hardware is still in prototype phase, I overheard Brin say that he’s experienced up to six hours of juice off a single charge. But that can and will likely change based on usage (uploading photos, capturing video, etc.). Photos, for instance, will be stored locally and can by synced with the cloud later. Both Lee and Brin said that they’re working hard to optimize what data is being transmitted and stored both on the device and in the cloud to alleviate any battery woes. There may be settings that allow users to control the content being shared until you’re within reach of Wi-Fi or when you’ve plugged in your Glasses for the night. Babak Parviz, a contributor to Project Glass, said a previous build allowed him to query a voice search for the capital of China broadening his own knowledge base to everything that’s available on the Web.

I asked what actually worked on Glass now and Brin politely skirted the question by saying that they’re testing and implementing various features with each build to see what sticks. Facial recognition, while discussed and experimented with, doesn’t sound like it’s been compelling enough that the team wants to immediately integrate it.

Here’s what you won’t see in Glass: advertising. Brin stated pretty vehemently that they have no plans to integrate advertising into Glass and that the only plan is to simply sell the hardware, which will be “significantly” cheaper than the $1,500 Explorer Editions that were announced today. The Glass team says they’re focused on the quality of the experience and not making it as cheap as possible. (Thank gawd.)

Core Google apps like Gmail and Plus (Hangouts) are being tested now along with Android apps. What isn’t clear is whether or not the Android and Google apps teams are working with the team at Glass and vice versa.

So what was the reason for today’s announcement of the $1,500 Explorer Edition of Project Glass? It’s actually a slight pivot from what they’ve done in the past. For once, the typical Google way of pushing out half-done products might work to their advantage. Parviz, Lee and Brin emphasized how important it will be to involve the developer community to further push the platform before Glass becomes available to consumers some time next year. Speaking of ship dates, Brin says the consumer version will ship within a year of when the Explorer Editions ship. Developers will have access to a cloud-based API that is “pretty far along.”

Does this mean Google wants to compete with Microsoft or Apple toe-to-toe? No. Google will always be the weird kid in the corner who sporadically does something mindblowing. They’re not thinking about what’s going on now but what might happen in the distant future. Everything they’ve done up until now seems like a tiny spec of something larger and greater. The late Ray Bradbury said it best: “Life is trying things to see if they work.” And that appears to be what Google is doing.

News by Techcrunch

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

How Samsung Became The World’s Top Handset Vendor

latest samsung mobile
Products by Samsung

It sounds like Nokia’s classic ringtone just got a few octaves lower and sadder. Friday, Strategy Analytics revealed the Finnish phone-maker had been ousted from its lofty position at the top of the cellphone food chain. Samsung just became the leading shipper of mobile phone handsets in the world. How did this happen? The same way a runner in any race pushes to the front: He speeds up, or the other guy slows down. Sometimes both happen at once.

There’s a kind of morbid fascination involved in watching a formerly great goliath stumble: we’ve seen it over the past few years in the mobile space with RIM and Palm (and then HP), but seeing Nokia trip over itself has been akin to witnessing a revered grandfather fall down the stairs. Nokia practically created the mobile phone industry; until recently its brand name was unassailable in most parts of the world, with the curious exception of the United States.

The nature of their missteps has been well-documented, but suffice to say that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop made some difficult choices. He made these choices rather publicly in his “burning platform” memo of February 2011, which, depending on who you ask, either told some hard truths or needlessly eviscerated Symbian sales at a critical point in the company’s history. Whichever view one takes, the fact remains that Nokia didn’t start shipping devices built on its new OS of choice, Windows Phone, until much later in 2011. Perhaps it was unavoidable, but that delay cost them dearly.

As is usually the case with platform wars, the data isn’t exactly clear regarding all the factors surrounding Nokia’s decline. It’s true that the Windows Phone platform has been slow to gain traction, but Nokia was also woefully behind in developing a replacement for Symbian -or even in realizing that a replacement for Symbian was needed- before Elop showed up. To anyone paying attention, the decline seemed inevitable, given the company’s lack of agility.

Seeing Nokia reinvent itself, with the accompanying beautiful design work coming from its hardware division, has been truly incredible; speaking personally as a consumer, the N9 and its derivatives are the reason I started noticing Nokia. But beautiful design and the most interesting innovations, while an indicator of potential greatness, are lousy at arresting downward momentum. A fall from grace was overdue, and it’s finally materialized. After watching storm clouds gathering on the horizon for months, a massive 24% decline in handsets shipped year-over-year is Nokia’s barometer finally crashing into the basement.

So it was only a matter of time before Nokia lost the number-one spot. But the king who loses the crown is only half the story. What steps did the new guy take to snatch it from his head?

Samsung’s current lead over Nokia is in part a byproduct of its war with Apple. In an editorial a while back, I talked about the voracious appetite of second-place companies. There, the conversation was smartphone mind-share, and the leader was Apple, but the second place contender was still Samsung:

    “… Marketing head Younghee Lee recently said, ‘Especially in U.S., people are obsessed with Apple … It’s time to change people’s attention.’ One need only look at the recent patent and advertising war between the two giants to confirm it: Samsung covets Apple’s leading mindshare position in that special way that only a second-place contender can. They’ve got their eye on the prize, and they’re fighting for it.”

Samsung’s approach to satiate that hunger for success has been unexpectedly multifaceted: instead of focusing its efforts on innovation, marketing, or emulation, it’s done all three.

Look at what Samsung has released in just the past year and a half. The Galaxy Note, initially considered a novelty item or a target of mockery by many (myself included), sold 5 million units in five months. It carved out a new “phablet” category not just for itself, but for a host of imitators. “Note”worthy indeed, and not bad for a device many thought was DOA.

The company brought the same zeal to the second coming of its popular Galaxy S smartphone series, once again blasting carrier after carrier with premium versions and midrange derivatives. Where the original Galaxy S devices still suffered a tad of stigma from “regular” consumers associating it with an iPhone knockoff, the growing brand prestige of Samsung had eliminated any such comparisons by the time the Galaxy S II line debuted.

Apple, much more potent a competitor than Nokia but equally as sluggish, refused to incorporate larger AMOLED displays, giving Samsung some purchase for easy visual differentiation. Once buyers’ eyes were attracted by the larger devices, they were drawn in further by the promise of the Android ecosystem and the more advanced capabilities of the Samsung devices, further reinforcing the Samsung brand perception.

At the same time, that brand was being heavily pushed by an aggressive marketing approach. Samsung was taking jabs at — and in some cases openly insulting — iPhone users, a controversial tactic it continues even today with its “The Next Galaxy” teaser. The company isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers in the name of increased mindshare, and judging by its new title, it hasn’t hurt them much.

Even the “bad press” seems to be working in Samsung’s favor. I’ve talked before about my lack of enthusiasm for some of Samsung’s “me-too” products; sometimes it seems like they’re brazenly copying the competition. Some elements of the competition seem to think so too, as Samsung’s been the target of numerous lawsuits recently. But all the accompanying exposure in the media is doing something invaluable: it’s keeping their brand name on people’s screens and in their minds. Ironically, the alleged untrustworthy conduct (copying) is working in concert with its impressive product portfolio to cement the Samsung’s brand name as a trusted one, at least when it comes to mobile phones.

These massive upheavals don’t happen often. They’re the result of years and years of hard work and determination on the part of one company, and stagnation or mismanagement on the part of another. The last time the number-one spot on mobile handset vendors list changed was 1998, when Nokia dethroned Motorola. Fourteen years is an impressive run.

That’s not to say this change is permanent; it’s a volatile and unpredictable market. Nokia and Samsung are very different companies who couldn’t possibly be taking more disparate routes to success. And at the moment, the results they’re seeing are very different, as well. But the fact that Samsung is now the market leader shouldn’t be perverted into a reason to condemn Nokia’s new strategy; Nokia’s midstream shift was violent, and will take a long time to recover.

The longer it takes, though, the more opportunity Samsung has to continue leveraging its considerable advantages to stay on top. Given the uncertainty surrounding Nokia, it’s anyone’s guess when or if we’ll see it on top again. But judging by past performance and looking at who’s sneaking up behind Nokia (a certain Cupertino company), we may see a shift in the second- and third-place slots before we see another change in the first.

News by Mashable

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Monday, February 27, 2012

MWC 2012: Nokia reveals 41MP cameraphone

Nokia 808 smartphone
Nokia 808 Pureview
A 41-megapixel Nokia smartphone was among the new technology on show during the opening day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The 808 Pureview offers enhanced low-light performance as well as sophisticated image compression designed to help users share pictures.

Nokia hopes to regain ground lost to Google and Apple in the mobile market.

However, some have criticised Nokia's decision to use its own operating system, Symbian, on the device.

Nokia's other smartphones typically run on Microsoft's Windows Phone software.

Symbian, which first appeared on Nokia phones in the 90s, is widely regarded as inferior to the app and social media-driven Windows Phone system.

"The Pureview 808's Symbian Belle operating system might detract from its appeal to a broader market, where it deserves recognition," said Tony Cripps, a principal analyst with Ovum.

"It's a pity that Nokia was unable to combine the photographic prowess of the PureView 808 with the style of the Lumia 900.

"Such a device may well have been the first smartphone to truly deserve the title of 'superphone'."

Nokia claims the 808 sets a "new industry standard" in mobile imaging devices.

"People will inevitably focus on the 41 megapixel sensor," said Jo Harlow, executive vice-president of Nokia smart devices.

"But the real quantum leap is how the pixels are used to deliver breathtaking image quality at any resolution and the freedom it provides to choose the story you want to tell."

The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said he expected some consumers would be surprised over the choice of platform.
Nokia say the 808 will set a "new industry standard"
"Nokia's put this on a Symbian phone, which will seem strange to people," he said.

"It's also pretty chunky, pretty heavy - but it does take amazing pictures."
China push

Also on show were new models in the company's Lumia range - including the 610, a cheaper device aimed at a "younger audience".

The firm also announced it plans to make the Lumia available in China "in the coming months".

Nokia's chief executive Stephen Elop said that introducing the cameraphone and entry-level smartphone were "the actions necessary to improve the fortunes of Nokia".

Once the mobile world's dominant player, Nokia has struggled to compete as sales of Google and Apple devices have soared in recent years.

Last month Nokia announced it was to stop manufacturing mobile phones in Europe, instead relocating to Asia at a cost of 4,000 jobs.

News By BBC

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Apple iPad 3 To Launch At March

Apple iPad 3 tablet
Apple ipad 3
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc plans to introduce its latest iPad tablet at an event in the first week in March, the website AllThingsD reported, citing unnamed sources.

The event will be held in San Francisco, likely at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which is Apple's preferred site for product launches, the website said.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Apple has typically introduced the latest versions of its iPad in the first few months of the year. The current iPad 2 was introduced on March 2, 2011. The original iPad was introduced at the end of January 2010.

Apple's iPad dominates the nascent market for tablets even though deep-pocketed rivals are taking aim at the lucrative segment. Inc's Kindle Fire, which sells at half the cost of an iPad, has chipped away at the lower end of the tablet market.

Apple iPad tablet sales doubled in the December quarter to 15.43 million units from a year earlier.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yahoo co-founder Yang resigns

yahoo co-founder resigns
Yahoo Co-Founder Yang

(Reuters) - Yahoo Inc co-founder Jerry Yang has quit the company he started in 1995, appeasing shareholders who had blasted the Internet pioneer for pursuing an ineffective personal vision and impeding investment deals that could have transformed the struggling company.

Yang's abrupt departure comes two weeks after Yahoo appointed Scott Thompson its new CEO, with a mandate to return the once-leading Internet portal to the heights it enjoyed in the 1990s.

Wall Street views the exit of "Chief Yahoo" Yang as smoothing the way for a major infusion of cash from private equity, or a deal to sell off much of its 40 percent slice of China's Alibaba, unlocking value for shareholders.

Shares of Yahoo gained 3 percent in after-hours trade.

"Everyone is going to assume this means a deal is more likely with the Asia counterparts," Macquarie analyst Ben Schacter said. "The perception among shareholders was Jerry was more focused on trying to rebuild Yahoo than necessarily on maximizing near-term shareholder value.

"It certainly seems things are coming to a head as far as realizing the value of these assets."

Yang, who is severing all formal ties with the company by resigning all positions including his seat on the board of directors, has come under fire for his handling of company affairs dating back to an aborted sale to Microsoft in 2008.

Yang's exit comes roughly a month before dissident shareholders can nominate rival directors to Yahoo's board.

The remaining nine members of Yahoo's board, which includes Hewlett-Packard executive Vyomesh Joshi and private investor Gary Wilson, are all up for reelection this year.

Yang's departure could be part of a broader board shakeup, said Ryan Jacob, chairman and chief investment officer of Jacob Funds, which owns Yahoo shares.

"If they don't move quickly on these things, they run the risk of a proxy battle and they are doing everything they can to avoid that."

The company did not say where Yang was headed or why he had suddenly resigned. CEO Thompson offered few clues in a memo to employees obtained by Reuters following the announcement.

"I am grateful for the support and warm welcome Jerry provided me in my early days here. His insights and perspective were invaluable, helping me to dig deeper, more quickly than I could have on my own, into some of the key elements of the company and how it operates.

Yang and co-founder David Filo, both of whom carried the official title "Chief Yahoo," own sizable stakes in the company. Yang owns 3.69 percent of Yahoo's outstanding shares, while Filo owns 6 percent as of April and May 2011.


In a letter to Yahoo's chairman of the board, Yang said he was leaving to pursue "other interests outside of Yahoo" and was "enthusiastic" about Thompson as the choice to helm the company.

Yang, 43, is also resigning from the boards of Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group Holdings.

Respected in the industry as one of the founding figures of the Web, Yang has come under fire over the years from investors and to some extent within the company's internal ranks.

"Lots of people think he holds up innovation there with old ideas and (is) slow to decide and that he's not an innovator himself for being at such a high level," said one former Yahoo employee.

"People have very high expectations for founders. Everyone wants a Steve Jobs," the employee said, referring to Apple's co-founder who brought the company back from near death and transformed it into the world's most valuable tech company.

Some analysts say the Yahoo board's indecision stems in part from Yang's sway in the company. Disillusioned by the company's flip-flopping, they warn that the rest of the board remained much the same as the one that rejected Microsoft's unsolicited takeover bid when Yang was CEO.

"Jerry Yang was certainly an impediment toward anything happening," said Morningstar analyst Rick Summer. "This is a company that's been mired by a bunch of competing interests going in different directions. It was never clear what this board's direction has been."

Microsoft's bid was worth about $44 billion. Its share price was subsequently pummeled by the global financial crisis and its current market value stands at about $20 billion.

More recently, Yang and Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock have incurred the wrath of some major Yahoo shareholders for their handling of the "strategic review" the company was pursuing, in which discussions have included the possibility of being sold, taken private or broken up.

Yang's efforts to seek a minority investment in Yahoo from private equity firms enraged several large shareholders, including hedge fund Third Point, which accused Yang of pursuing a deal that was in "his best personal interests" but not aligned with shareholders' interests.

Yahoo has also been exploring a deal to unload most of its prized Asian assets in a complex deal involving Alibaba, valued at roughly $17 billion, sources told Reuters last month.

Alibaba Group's founder, Jack Ma, whose personal relationship with Yang led to Yahoo buying a 40 percent stake in Alibaba in 2005, said he looked forward to continuing a "constructive relationship" with Yahoo.

Susquehanna analyst Herman Leung said: "I had thought that Jerry Yang was a lifer at Yahoo.

"Without him on the board, this could smooth a potential transaction. What that transaction is, is any of our guesses right now."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Apple Makes Mysterious Announcement

Apple has distributed invitations to a January 19 press event in New York City.

The invite features an Apple logo surrounded by landmarks from the city skyline.

"Join us for an education announcement in the Big Apple," the message reads.

According to The Loop's Jim Dalrymple, the event will take place at the Guggenheim Museum.

Peter Kafka of AllThingsD points out that fellow ATD reporter John Paczkowski learned earlier this month that the event would revolve around Apple’s new "textbook initiative." However, writes Kafka, "none of the big textbook publishers are working with iBooks and Apple’s iOS ecosystem in any significant way."

TechCrunch's sources said earlier in the month that the upcoming event "will focus on publishing and eBooks (sold through Apple's iBooks platform)."

Previously, rumor-mongers had been hoping to see the release of the next-generation iPad -- or even the long-rumored Apple Television set -- by the end of January. Those rumors are mostly dead at this point.

Check out the invitation (below), and be sure to check back here at 10 a.m. ET on January 19.

In the meantime, what do you think Apple will announce next week? Let us know in the comments, but don't get too carried away with the wild speculations about Apple's plans. We've had plenty of that this past year.

Take a look through the slideshow to see 2011's worst Apple rumors.

Much of the rampant speculation began in February, when widely-read Apple writer John Gruber speculated -- and we're talking SPECULATED, based on no inside information whatsoever, a fact he admitted outright in the column -- that his gut was saying that the iPad 2 would be released in Spring 2011, followed by the iPad 3 in Fall 2011, perhaps in September. Despite what should have been everyone's better judgment, news outlets went bananas on this column (One headline: "Gruber Confirms iPad 3 In Blog Rant?") until March, when the iPad 2 was released and Apple, in an announcement accompanied by a sad trombone, dubbed 2011 "The Year of the iPad 2." This seemed to rule out that a second iPad would follow later that year; Apple bloggers everywhere shed a single tear for a device there was never any evidence existed.

The trail of the single tear was still moist in May when everyone forgot that Apple had said 2011 was The Year of the iPad 2 and went bananas again. A May report from put the iPad 3 on track for a September release; a concurrent rumor claimed the iPad 3 would be a glasses-free 3D device, which I suppose could still be true (I'm dubious of Apple promoting one of its products with such a stupid gimmick, but I've been wrong before). The 2011 iPad 3 rumors mounted and mounted: A May article from Reuters put the iPad 3 on track for Q4 2011 release, and then Asia weighed in with reports from the supply chain: An analyst working in Hong Kong said that a 4G iPad 3 would arrive just in time for Christmas; Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes reported in July that Apple would start production on the iPad 3 in September and would make it available in October; Japanese Apple site Macotakara independently confirmed that DigiTimes was correct.

And that's not all: Also in July, non-Asian tech siteThe Verge nee This Is My Next reported that the iPad HD would be released in Fall 2011, as did FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger.Isn't it comforting to know that in this day and age of multinational aggression, distrust and strife that we, as a planet, can sometimes come together and all be wrong about the iPad 3's release date as one?

It was at this point, in August, that The Wall Street Journal weighed in with a report that, due to problems with the display screen on the supply chain, the iPad 3 was being pushed back to 2012. Analysts agreed, with most predicting that the iPad 3 would be released in early 2012 a.k.a. exactly one year after the iPad 2 was released a.k.a exactly the way that Apple ALWAYS released iterative updates to its devices.

News by Huffingtonpost

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Saturday, January 07, 2012

World's biggest tech show searching for "wow"

razor-thin laptops
Biggest tech show
(Reuters) - The world's biggest technology trade show will feature razor-thin laptops, powerful new smartphones and fancy flat-screen TVs, but talk in the cavernous halls of the Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off on Monday night, may focus on whether the show itself has a long-term future.

Apple Inc, which has set the agenda in consumer electronics for the past decade, does not even attend the show. Microsoft Corp, desperately trying to catch up, is making this show its last. It has been a few years since Las Vegas-based CES had the "wow" factor.

"There's a lot of hype. The promise exceeds the deliverable a lot," said Todd Lowenstein, portfolio manager at HighMark Capital Management, which owns several technology stocks. "I take an interest in it only to the extent that there's market-moving information that comes out of there, which I find is rare."

Steve Jobs' stylish and dramatic product launches came to dominate the popular tech world, and rivals are looking to copy that outside of the hubbub and razzmatazz of CES in Las Vegas.

"A lot of companies are trying to imitate Apple's success in a lot of areas, and one area where Apple has been extremely successful is in controlling its message by controlling the event and the timetable of its announcements," said Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis, a business intelligence firm.

Microsoft, which is trying to win back its technology crown from Apple and newcomer Google Inc, has long said that CES in early January does not fit its product release timetable, meaning it has little new to share in the opening keynote, which has for years been given by Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, and before him by co-founder Bill Gates.

"Microsoft can do this on their own, they don't need CES," said Hanson Hosein, a specialist in technology and media at the University of Washington in Seattle. "It's a lot of money. These shows are generally declining in popularity anyway."


This year, the buzzwords look similar to last year, including "connected," "always on" and "voice recognition," whether in new, more powerful phones and tablets or in cars or even watches.

"This year there's going to be a focus on connectivity and mobility that continues the momentum we've seen for the past few years, even though we may not see quite so many big announcements by (mobile) carriers as we did last year," said Ross Rubin, executive director, Connected Intelligence, at retail research firm NPD Group.

The latest crop of light and thin laptops, which Intel Corp has dubbed "Ultrabooks," is set to dominate the hardware displays, from the likes of Toshiba Corp, Asustek Computer Inc and Lenovo Group Ltd.

On the other side of the floor, the latest high-definition, Internet-enabled TVs from Sony Corp, Panasonic Corp, Sharp Corp and LG Corp will also draw crowds.

Wireless carriers AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless are expected to unveil devices to take advantage of their new high-speed networks, and phone-maker Nokia is preparing to reintroduce itself to a U.S. audience with new handsets running Microsoft's latest Windows software.

Tablets may take a backseat after dominating the show last year, as hardware makers lick their wounds after failure to match Apple's all-conquering iPad.

Some suspect tablet makers are not fully committing to Google's Android as a tablet platform, knowing that Microsoft's tablet-friendly Windows 8 system is likely set to hit the market in the next 12 months. Microsoft showed off a flashy Samsung Electronics tablet running a prototype of Windows 8 in September, and more up-to-date demo versions are expected to be circulating at CES.

Somewhere in between the phone and tablet is the "phablet," the tag applied to Samsung's new 5.3 inch- (13.5 cm-) screen Galaxy Note.

So far available only in Europe and Asia, there is talk that AT&T will announce plans to launch the Android-based device in the United States at CES.

Sensor-laden, low-power devices with a constant connection to the Internet -- whether a phone, or smaller device hidden in your car or on your wrist -- will be the theme of the show, tech-watchers seem to agree. That allows users to move digital content around or get real-time feedback on where they are and what they are doing.

"The CPU is in your pocket, the data is all in the cloud," said John Elliott, senior executive at consulting firm Accenture's Mobility practice.


CES, which started in 1967 in New York, was the launchpad for the VCR, camcorder, DVD, HDTV and many other pivotal home tech developments. It grew rapidly in importance after the COMDEX tech show folded a decade ago.

It has been a while since CES showcased such game-changing inventions, but it is still popular with technology exhibitors and buyers, although it may suffer a dip in overall attendance this year.

The 2012 International CES -- to state its full title -- is set to be the second-biggest on record, with more than 2,700 exhibitors taking up over 1.8 million square feet of show floor. The largest-ever CES was in 2008, with 1.85 million square feet of paid-for exhibition space.

The organizers said they are expecting 140,000 to 150,000 attendees this year, but acknowledge it will be tough to beat last year's 149,000.

Exhibitors tend to make reservations on next year's space while at the show, or shortly afterward, so CES will soon find out if its waning influence, or hard economic times, will take a bite out of next year's show.

CES is "a good opportunity to discuss the Intel products and technologies that consumers want to hear about," said Robert Manetta, a spokesman for the world's biggest chip maker.

The show is also still popular with smaller companies looking for a big stage to show off their wares.

"CES is hands-down the best venue to debut cutting-edge hardware and software to the world," said Michel Tombroff, CEO of Softkinetic, a Belgian firm which designs motion-sensing technology for controlling TVs and computers with your hands.

Technology buyers also like it.

"We are always looking for new, new, new," said a buyer at an upscale retailer focusing on teens. "For electronics, we wouldn't even bother with anywhere else."

Ultimately, CES still sets the pace in technology for retailers, said Rubin at NPD.

"CES has become the place where the expectations for the year are set in terms of the state of the art."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HTC Android Phones Are Being Banned from the US Next Year

Apple VS HTC
Apple just won a big court victory against HTC that could force HTC to stop selling its Android phones in the United States. The United States International Trade Commission ruled that HTC was infringing on an Apple patent that effects HTC Android devices running Android 1.6 to 2.2.

The devices that may be banned from being sold in the U.S. is basically a who's who list of Android phones: Droid Incredible, Evo 4G, T-Mobile G2, Nexus One and a bunch of older Android devices. The patent that the courts ruled HTC was infringing on (#5,946,647) is potentially a big one. According to Fortune, who took a deep look at the specific patent, it works like this:

When an iPhone receives a message that contains a phone number or an address — e-mail, Web or street — those bits of data are automatically highlighted, underlined and turned into clickable links.

Click on the phone number, and the iPhone asks if you want to dial it. Click on the Web address, and it opens in Safari. Click on the street address, and Maps will display it.

That's huge, not only because it's an important feature in smartphones but because it could mean Apple could go on to attack other Android phone makers because it's the OS that's infringing the patent, not the hardware. However, if HTC Android phones removed that feature (unlikely) or implement it in a different way (which we expect HTC to do), they could keep on selling. And that's pretty much what HTC expects to do, HTC, which has responded to this decision with rainbow colored unicorn tears, reached out to us with this statement:

This decision is a win for HTC and we are gratified that the commission affirmed the judge's determination on the ‘721 and ‘983 patents, and reversed its decision on the ‘263 patent and partially on the ‘647 patent. We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. However, the ‘647 patent is a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon.

Yes, the patent in question is a fixable problem but I'd hardly categorize the court's decision as a win for HTC. If HTC doesn't fix this issue however, the ban on HTC Android phones in the US is set to take into effect on April 19, 2012. That's not winning.

There are still some real moves left for HTC to make to avoid the import ban (a Presidential veto is an option) but this is sure setting up for a major stateside war (thermonuclear, even) between Apple and Android phone makers much like with what's happening with Apple and Samsung Tablets in Europe and Australia.

News by Gizmodo

Friday, December 09, 2011

Motorola wins German patent case ruling vs Apple

(Reuters) - Motorola Mobility won a preliminary injunction against Apple Inc in Germany, which could bar the sales of iPhones and iPads in the country.

A regional German court in Mannheim ruled on Friday that Apple Sales International -- European sales subsidiary of Apple in Cork, Ireland -- must stop selling or distributing mobile devices that infringe certain Motorola patents.

The ruling, which relates to cellular communications patents, could bar the sales of all Apple products that use the patents such as iPhone 4 and iPad 3G, Germany-based patent expert Florian Mueller said.

"The ruling targets Apple's European sales organization but relates only to that entity's sale to German customers," Mueller added.

Motorola Mobility said it has been negotiating with Apple and offering the company "reasonable licensing terms and conditions since 2007."

Motorola Mobility "will continue our efforts to resolve our global patent dispute as soon as practicable," it said in a statement.

To enforce the injunction, Motorola Mobility has to pay about 100 million euros ($133.8 million) as bond.

Apple, which has other patent infringement cases pending in Germany, said it plans to appeal.

"We are going to appeal the court ruling right away," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said. "Holiday shoppers in Germany should have no problem finding the iPad and iPhone they want."

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Friday, December 02, 2011

Insight: Apple vs Samsung lawsuit full of secret combat

(Reuters) - The biggest legal battle for the technology industry is playing out in a federal court in Silicon Valley, where Apple is trying to stop Samsung from selling Galaxy phones and tablets in the United States.

In the lawsuit, filed in April, Apple accuses Samsung of "slavishly" ripping off its designs for the iPad and iPhone. Although there is worldwide interest in the case, the proceedings have largely been shrouded behind a veil of secrecy: most of the court papers are sealed, meaning they can't be viewed by the public.

Filing documents under seal has become almost standard procedure in many intellectual-property cases -- like Apple versus Samsung -- as companies claim their trade secrets and confidential information could come out during litigation. Judges have surprisingly wide latitude in deciding what should be kept under wraps and what shouldn't.

Some courts, like the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where the case is being heard, have rules requiring that judges specifically sign off on every request to seal a document -- but these rules set no deadline.

In the Apple/Samsung case, some secrecy requests have languished for months while investors, academics and tech bloggers struggled to piece together whatever bits of information were available.

In every instance that she did issue a ruling on a sealing motion, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose granted the request. Just this week she approved six more motions to seal. Samsung's most crucial legal brief became available after months of delay -- and then only in redacted form.

The stakes here are high: Samsung had 23.8 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter, nine points higher than Apple. Yet Samsung's holiday sales could be jeopardized if Koh, who is expected to rule any day, grants Apple's motion to halt Samsung's sales of Galaxy.

Lack of transparency in the courts troubles many observers.

"For the judicial system as a whole, we want transparency so the public can have confidence in the judicial decision-making process," said Bernard Chao, a professor at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law. "When things aren't transparent, that view is undercut."

In an email on Thursday, Koh declined a Reuters request for an interview on her sealing decisions in the Apple/Samsung case, or about her general policies. However, shortly after the inquiry from Reuters, Koh issued new guidelines governing sealed documents in her courtroom.

Koh's guidelines, posted on her official website, mandated that parties file a redacted, publicly available version of every document that they seek to seal -- at the same time they make the sealing request.

Koh and U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal, who oversees certain procedural motions in the case, are newcomers to the federal bench and were both previously intellectual property lawyers representing companies at large law firms. They have not only granted many of Apple and Samsung's sealing motions, in some cases, they've gone a step further.

During an October hearing on the proposed injunction, Koh, unprompted, asked Apple and Samsung if they wanted to seal the courtroom. When the lawyers said such a step wouldn't be necessary and that they would not mention confidential material during the hearing, Koh commented, "I guess if you all can be careful not to disclose anything that requires sealing, then we can still have that with the open public."

Representatives from Samsung did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday, and an Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Secrecy in the courts is an ongoing concern. The policy body of the federal courts recently reminded judges to limit broad sealing of cases, and interest groups such as Public Citizen and the American Civil Liberties Union frequently intervene in cases where major records are sealed.

For their part, investors look at briefs and filings to see what kind of effect a patent is having on the marketplace, professors study them for novel legal theories, and lawyers track them for developments in intellectual property law.

Like Koh, many federal judges routinely grant requests to seal documents. In the Eastern District of Texas, where the docket is always clogged with patent cases, lawyers don't even need permission from the judge to file documents under seal, said Michael Smith, an IP attorney who practices there.

"The court has made it as easy as they possibly can," Smith said.

Judges say it's a balancing act.

"It comes down to: 'how do you see the interplay between transparency and protecting the interests of the party,'" said U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel, director of the Federal Judicial Center, in an interview. "Transparency sounds so noble, so apple pie, but the interests of the parties are important, too."

The release of Samsung's redacted brief this week demonstrates some of the inconsistencies in what gets sealed, and why.

Previously, Koh had sealed a separate document because, according to Samsung, it contained "unreleased product launch dates, and information relating to Samsung's total number of employees, and the number of employees involved in the design and marketing of the products at issue."

Samsung said references to other confidentially-filed motions in the case justified its sealing, and Apple did not object.

But in the key Samsung brief released this week, even the redacted version revealed not only numbers of Samsung employees (more than 8,500 engaged in telecommunications research and development projects), but also the dollar amount of its research and development costs (over $35 billion for electronics product lines from 2005 to 2010).

When there isn't pushback from one of the parties, judges typically grant sealing requests without much scrutiny, said Chao, the University of Denver professor.

"I think at times they are just overwhelmed," Chao said.

Even contemplating closing a courtroom, as Koh did, shows an unusual level of accommodation to the parties, said Richard Marcus, a professor at University of California Hastings College of the Law, and can also erode trust in the courts.

"Locking the courthouse doors in a trial-like situation is extremely rare and requires exceptional circumstances," he said.

In fact, 50 miles from the Samsung/Apple battle, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco has taken the opposite tack in the monster IP fight between Oracle and Google over the Android operating system.

Since Oracle brought suit in August 2010, Alsup has rejected more than a half-dozen requests from the companies to keep material secret and issued a number of harsh warnings.

Among other documents, Alsup unsealed an email drafted by a Google engineer saying Google needed to negotiate a license for Java -- the programming language Oracle has accused Google of infringing.

Google investigated alternatives to Java for Android and concluded "they all suck," the email said. Alsup even read the email aloud during a July hearing. (Google has asked an appeals court to overturn the unsealing).

"The United States district court is a public institution, and the workings of litigation must be open to public view," Alsup wrote in an October order. Alsup declined to comment, as did an Oracle spokeswoman. Google representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

For David Sunshine, a New York lawyer who tracks technology cases for hedge fund investors, judges like Alsup who challenge companies on sealing requests make the job much easier. "I love those guys," Sunshine said.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Apple, with eye on media, names Disney's Iger to board

steve jobs
Steve Jobs are seen on Apple's Display
(Reuters) - Apple Inc moved to shore up its board after the death of Silicon Valley legend Steve Jobs, appointing Walt Disney Co chief executive Bob Iger to its board to propel its media ambitions.

Iger brings sector expertise and Disney's clout as the world's largest media and entertainment conglomerate to bear, as Apple prepares to step up a fight with the likes of Inc and Google Inc over content and its distribution.

Many on Wall Street also expect an attempt soon to shake up the fragmented television market, much as Apple did with iTunes and music years ago.

"Apple is going to get more into content distribution over time on the video side. That's where it makes sense for someone like Bob Iger from Disney to have that relationship with Apple," Morningstar analyst Michael Corty said.

Apple is taking the fight to Internet distribution and the so-called "cloud". It recently launched "iTunes Match", a service that for a fee of $24.99 scans the content of your music library and matches it with music available on its iTunes Store.

Google is expected to announce this week an online music service similar to iTunes.

In coming years, investors are betting that Apple will launch a full-fledged assault on TV, though skeptics say it will prove difficult to arrange distribution agreements with cable and content companies.

Jobs was himself a director at Disney, whose corporate empire encompasses TV network ABC, sports cable channel ESPN, movie studios and theme parks and resorts.

He and Iger forged a strong relationship after Disney bought Pixar -- which Jobs took over in 1986 -- for about $7.4 billion in 2006.


Genentech Inc Chairman Arthur Levinson will become chairman, replacing Jobs, who died in October after a years-long struggle with cancer. Levinson had been a co-lead Apple director since 2005, alongside Avon Products Inc's Andrea Jung.

Apple had lacked a chairman until Jobs in August took the role, relinquishing his CEO duties at the same time because he could no longer fulfill them due to his worsening health. The company argued that co-lead arrangement enhanced its independence.

But analysts have said Jobs' exercised enormous influence over the board. They said his absence would trigger major changes for the board, elevating them beyond being merely advisors to a visionary leader.

The board may have to take more control, be less deferential to new CEO Tim Cook than it was to Jobs and meet more often, they said.

The naming of an independent chairman was welcomed by corporate governance experts.

"The board knows it's going to be under the microscope and Tim Cook knows that as well," said Jim Post, a professor of corporate governance at Boston University School of Management who called for an independent chairman. "The board has to move out of Steve Jobs' shadow and they have to act to like an independent board."

"The steps they have taken today move them in a better direction," he added.

Previously, some experts have raised concerns about how Jobs managed to keep his board in the dark about his health, which was a topic of constant speculation in the years before his death.

In Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography of the Silicon Valley icon, it was revealed the charismatic Jobs had sometimes lied about his condition.

Questions about the board's oversight had also arisen since Apple became one of many Silicon Valley corporations embroiled in the options-backdating scandals in the middle of the last decade.

In a fierce battle to attract and retain talent, Apple and others had resorted to backdating options -- attaching a retroactive validity date -- to make them more valuable. Apple and Jobs were eventually cleared of wrongdoing.

Apple shares were broadly unchanged at $389.12 in after hours trading. They have slid around 4 percent since the start of the month.

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