Friday Grab Bag: Tons of Tablet Tidbits

So how many apps are too many?
A recent report from Neilsen called the” State of the Appnation” has some very interesting insights into how many apps users of smartphones have on their devices. With 88% of all smartphones running either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating system the report mainly speaks to this market.

The average owner has 32 apps while over half have at least ten more loaded on their devices. An interesting tidbit is that the more apps you have the more time you spend using your apps. An issue that seems to be at the top of everyone’s list these days also appeared in the study where 73% were concerned about how their personal data was being used.

Wearing Skechers is not a workout-Who would have guessed?

The Federal Trade Commission has dropped the hammer on exercise shoemaker Sketchers over its claims that wearing its products would help tone your lower body muscles and help you in losing weight. Apparently they do not.

The company, after a bit of thought and possibly a great deal of lawyer talk agreed and is now on the hook to payback $40 million in refunds. The Consumerist predicted this last year and you should head over and see its coverage.

Windows Tablets by Thanksgiving?
Cnet is reporting that the first batch of tablets from developers that have adopted Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system should be here in November, and that Intel will be inside. The OS will support multiple operating systems it reported, claiming that it will be able to handle multiple versions of ARM, Intel as well as AMD.

It is interesting that what is also expected is a wave of hybrid systems, tablets that have physical keyboards and probably other iterations. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook took a stab at what he viewed the futility of hybrids during Apple’s most recent earning call.

The Intel-powered devices will use an as yet shipped processor from the company called “Clover Trail” that is a dual core processor in its Atom family.

Source: SCP Auctions

Lied about playing in the Super Bowl? Well now you can get that ring
Sadly Lawrence Taylor’s life continues its downward trend and he is being forced to sell one of his two Super Bowl rings at auction Available from SCP Auctions the ring, from Super Bowl XXV has two large football shaped diamonds surrounded by seventeen smaller diamonds.

The ring also has Taylor designed into as well as his uniform number. At last look the bidding was at $67,000 and is expected to rise significantly before the bidding is closed on Saturday. According to news reports he has not said why he is selling the ring.

Tablet Traffic soaring according to Adobe
A study from Adobe is showing the big and growing impact that tablets are having on web traffic, according to a report from eWeek. The report shows that tablet traffic is already growing 10 times that of smartphones and that it estimates that tablet traffic will represent 10% of all website traffic in two years.

The result of all of this is that it should encourage developers and web site operators to ensure that they have optimized for that traffic since, at least currently, tablet users represent a wealthier portion of the population and so more likely to purchase services and products.

Google to go direct with Tablet?
A report from the Wall Street Journal said that all signs are pointing to Google going direct with next generation smartphones and tablets that are being built for the company. The devices will be available under its Nexus label and are expected to be available in the Fall holiday selling season.

The reason for the move is apparently to eliminate wireless carriers that add their own special sauce so that the devices sold via their sales channels will only work on their wireless networks. The move will likely put it in direct competition with current allies such as Samsung and Amazon.

Facebook’s next goal- Bigger Mobile presence
The Facebook pre-IPO road show is winding down but the message has been delivered-We are going to monetize mobile Facebook its executives have said consistently while talking to investors across the country.

It s mobile app is very popular, just not very cash flow positive and it has said that it will be looking to reverse this as it appears that the mobile version is now fueling a great deal of the company’s growth. The company has recently ramped up its app development efforts

HTC smartphones blocked at US customs due Apple ITC ruling
If you were waiting for the latest smartphone from HTC, say the HTC One X, your wait just became a bit longer as Apple has gotten the US Customs to block entry into the United States the HTC One X and the HTC EVO 4G LTE, a move that could really harm the HTC EVO 4G LTE which is expected to launch today.

This move is the result of a ruling by the US International Trade Commission from last year that found that HTC infringed on an Apple patent and that all devices that used the technology from HTC would be barred. However speculates that HTC has included workarounds to the patents in these offerings.

Apple also granted a patent
Apple has also been awarded a patent for soft keyboards used with its iOS. The patent is called “Method, system, and graphical user interface for selecting a soft keyboard” and that pretty much explains it, right?

Well according to The Inquirer, Apple has had a related patent for three years and that the current one describes in detail how the soft keyboard relates to user interfaces and how they are used in selecting soft keyboards.

Friday Grab Bag: Kindle and iPad Drove Q4 Tablet Sales

Global tablet sales surged in the 4th quarter of last year, driven by the demand for Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad tablets. An IDC study as reported by Cnet shows that overall tablet shipments grew by 56% on a sequential basis in the fourth quarter of 2011, to 28.2 million units, and a 155% increase from the same period in 2010.

The top players in this sector were led by Apple with a 55% market share with 15.4 million tablets. Second was Amazon’s Kindle Fire at 4.7 million in the quarter, good for a 16.8% market share. Samsung trailed with a 5.8% share and then Barnes & Noble with a 3.5% share.

IDC has upgraded its estimation for worldwide tablet sales in 2012 to 106.1 million, up from its previous estimation of 87.7 million. I wonder what percentage of those sales would have gone to PCs a few years ago?

Did the NFL collude against the players?

The NFL’s very odd decision to fine the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys a combined $46 million in cap space could turn out to be a major mistake, if the league actually goes through with its decision, multiple outlets are reporting.

Dallas and Washington’s crime was apparently spending more money during the uncapped year than the other owners wanted, giving them an ‘unfair advantage’ by actually investing in their teams rather than simply pocketing the money.

It looks like the owners of the two teams are now considering suing the league, a move that looks like it might then result in an additional lawsuit from the players union as it would show collusion and violation of antitrust. While the league has limited antitrust immunity, it does not cover this kind of action. Baseball did the same thing some time back and was expensively slapped by the courts. I suspect the NFL may quietly backtrack on this issue.

Apple and Motorola talked cross licensing–last year?
A series of talks between Motorola Mobility and Apple last year regarding a proposed deal to cross license their patent portfolios, or portions of them, has come to light as part of the EU’s discovery process on the Google/Motorola merger.

It looks like Motorola was demanding that it gain access to Apple’s entire patent portfolio in order for Apple to get access to Motorola’s standards-essential patents (SEPs). It was noted in The Register that usually SEPs are cross licensed for other SEPs, not the entire portfolio.

They did discuss the ‘scope of a possible settlement’ after Google announced its purchase of Motorola for $12.5 billion. According to Foss Patents, Motorola wanted to broaden the scope of the deal to include all Android licensees while Apple wanted it between the two companies.

Yahoo sues Facebook over patents
Yahoo has dropped the other shoe in its face-off with Facebook and has filed a lawsuit contending that the social media giant has violated Yahoo patents that cover a range of features including news feed generation, social commenting and advertising.

The issue initially emerged a few weeks ago and many thought that the effort by Yahoo was just part of a positioning move by the company to show that it has a valuable patent portfolio as it seeks a buyer. The timing of the move is interesting because it coincides with Facebook’s IPO.

Now it looks like it may get the chance to prove that contention via court filings and possibly rulings on its patents. Yahoo is seeking unspecified damages, and has requests that any such amount be tripled due to Facebook’s willful actions.

Sony’s Xperia smartphone features ‘floating touch’ technology
Sony, using something that sounds like it came from a Geisha house has incorporating ‘floating touch’ navigation that allows a user to browse the web without touching the screen, simply by hovering a finger above the screen and moving it to move the cursor.

The phone also features a 1GHz dual core processor, Android 2.3, upgradeable to 4.0 later this year, and a 3.7-inch Reality Display.

Nokia working on Windows 8 tablet
Nokia, one of Microsoft’s strongest supporters in the Windows smartphone market has said that it will be joining Microsoft in the tablet space in the near future. Reuters reported that the company’s design chief is spending a third of his time developing the tablet and that the company is seeking to take a different approach from rivals in creating a product that will challenge market leader Apple and its iPad.

Intel invests in eye-tracking company
Intel Capital has invested $21 million in a third funding round for Swedish company Tobii, that has been working on eye-tracking technology that can be incorporated with laptops, tablets and other hardware. Tobii said that the investment will give Intel a 10% stake in the company.

Tobi has previously raised $14 million in 2007 and an additional $26.8 million in 2009. It said that the investment will help the 12 year old company maintain a steady research and development schedule. Tobii recently unveiled its latest eye-tracking device last week at CeBIT, the Tobii IS-2 Eye Tracker.

It is interesting that Intel is investing in this type of technology. Over a decade ago I saw a demonstration of eye tracking technology at an Intel Labs demonstration and have wondered why it has never seen the light of day. I guess it was red lighted and so the company is now looking to outside sources.

Going to London for the Olympics? Free Wi-Fi!
Well at least it will be free in the Tube, or subway system. The service will run from July 27 to August 12 and will be provided by Virgin Media. After the Olympics end the service will be available to Virgin subscribers.

USC football players live for Twitter
Interesting read at CBS Sports about Twitter and specifically on how a pair of USC athletes use it. Shows how prevalent that technology is becoming.

Friday Grab Bag: ESPN3 and Facebook Team for Hoops Tournaments

Facebook and ESPN Team on Conference Tournaments
For much of the next two weeks ESPN3 and Facebook will combine to show coverage of all of the myriad college conference basketball games in both the men’s and women’s brackets. This means that users will have access to all 225 live broadcasts.

ESPN3 has indicated that while this is its first partnering with Facebook it will not be its last as it seeks to leverage the huge audience that the social media giant commands. As ESPN3 vice president Damon Phillips said “We see this as a big opportunity. You fish where the fish are.”

However in keeping with the mantra that there is no such thing as a free lunch not all users will be able to access the games from Facebook. If you have a cable TC carrier or a broadband hookup from a carrier that broadcasts ESPN3, then you get the games for. If not, you are on the outside looking in with no games.

Siri now more insufferable?
I actually like Siri and have found the voice to be very helpful when I have used someone’s iPhone that has the technology, it is just the people showing me how many tricks that they can make it do that really annoys me.

Well now they have a new venue as Mercedes-Benz has integrated the Siri into it’s a-Class cars. The Drive Kit Plus will integrate the iPhone with the cars’ electronic platform. This will allow the Mercedes-Benz’ Digital DriveStyle App to display iPhone apps on the infotainment system screen, according to Cnet.

It will be at Mercedes-Benz’ discretion as to which apps the user can add and control but there will be some such as Twitter, Facebook and Aupeo Personal Radio will be available.

Yahoo joins in the patent fun!
Yahoo has been meeting with Facebook to resolve issues regarding a group of Yahoo patents that it asserts are being used by Facebook in a variety of applications including ads, privacy controls, news feeds, and messaging services.

The exact number of patents is not clear and has been reported as being between 10-20, now is the dollar value that Yahoo is placing on these patents. Yahoo has not taken the step of filing suit and the move is being widely viewed as an attempt to paint a positive picture of Yahoo’s overall patent portfolio as a positioning move in case the company can find a suitor to buy it.

Apps can steal your photos?
It is starting to seem that every new day brings a new manner in which data can ‘leak’ from your smartphone. The latest, courtesy of the New York Times, is that there is a group of apps that can copy a user’s entire photo library with no alert.

The problem is, at least so far, confined to iOS devices such as the iPad and the iPhone and appears to ask a user for location information and if that is approved it not only gathers that information but also downloads photos as well to a remote server. I hope it gets mine in focus, I never can

Mozilla helps you track who is tracking you
In a case of turning the tables on data trackers, Mozilla has created a Firefox add-on called Collusion, an experimental program that is designed to enable you to see who is tracking your activity across the web.

The program uses a simple, easy to understand format. As you browse the web a graph is produced showing sites represented as dots. Red for ones that are known trackers, gray for ones that might track you. You can hover your cursor over a dot for more information. It is interesting to see the interplay between sites and how fast sites that you do not visit are now tracking you. The program also allows you to turn off tracking.

Intel Capital Launches Connected Car Fund
Intel Capital has launched a $100 million fund that is dedicated to developing new technologies in automobiles. The Connected Car Fund will invest across the board in hardware, software and service companies that are developing technologies for cars.

The range of areas is large with the company expecting to invest in areas such as information and entertainment systems, wireless connectivity, mobile devices and driver assist technologies. The global fund will seek to invest in all stage companies over the next three to five years.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Apple Files New Complaint Against Motorola

Congress approves spectrum sale
The US Congress has approved of the sale of spectrum that had formerly been allocated to television. The move will enable an increase in the amount of spectrum available for use by telcos in supporting greater bandwidth for mobile phones, especially smartphones.

Are Facebook’s numbers not what they appear?
Shel Israel over at Forbes does a nice takedown on Facebook’s claims that it has 850 million users that visit the site at least once a month. While he admits to a few potential flaws in his math, and points out Facebook may have the same flaws or slightly different ones and he does come to an interesting conclusion. Head over and see if your math is any better.

Mobile app platform developer July Systems lands $15 million in VC money

July Systems, a developer of a cloud-based mobile application platform has raised $15 million in equity investment. The round was led by Updata Partners and included both Intel Capital and WestBridge Capital.

July, which has already had three previous funding rounds including a $7 million Series C, said that the funds will be used to accelerate its product roadmap, boost the sales momentum, and increase the company’s market reach.

Will the lack of a single unified version of Android harm tablet market?

That at least is the point that James Kendrick makes over at ZDNet. He has a strong point and it was the fact that at the last minute Sun prevented Java from becoming fragmented that helped make that platform ubiquitous. Will Google do the same here?

This week in lawsuit news

Apple wins a round vs HTC
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has handed Apple a victory in one of its battles with Android handset manufacturers. The ITC ruled that Apple did not infringe on patented technology that is owned by HTC.

The complaint, filed two years ago alleged that Apple was infringing on five HTC patents that had to do with technologies related to power management and phone dialing. In its complaint HTC had requested that Apple be prohibited from importing some versions of the iPods, iPads and iPhones into the U.S.

Apple files competition claim against Motorola Mobility
Fresh off a victory in German court against Motorola, Apple has filed a filed a complaint with the European Union claiming that Motorola is violating a pledge to license industry-standard patents on fair terms.

According to a report from Bloomberg Motorola has said that it is willing to work with Apple to negotiate a patent license deal. Earlier reports have showed that Motorola was purportedly seeking 2.25% of Apple sales for a license.

This will be an interesting one to watch since that very topic was explicitly mentioned by the EU when it gave the Motorola/Google deal its approval. It said that it would be watching to ensure fair practices not only going forward but also looking at past practices as well.

Today’s foolishness

I will take that iPhone with a side of mace

Well not really mace but pepper spray. Piexon, A Swiss developer has created an iPhone case called the SmartGuard iPhone 4/4S that features a detachable canister of pepper spray, for emergency uses only, of course. I can see this going bad very quickly.

Technology at the Olympics
Here is an interesting look at how technology usage has evolved at the Olympics since the founding of the modern game. First radio broadcast was in 1924 for instance or that the 1956 games in Melbourne resulted in only three hours of footage shown in the US.

Friday Grab Bag: Does Facebook make no Money on Mobile?

Is a patent war in Google’s future?

No not the one with Apple that it appears to be fighting by proxy but rather one where it uses the patents it will acquire in its Motorola Mobility acquisition. The Guardian puts forward a well reasoned piece that strongly suggests that this is the only way that the company can recoup its $12.5bn investment.

The most recent financial statement from Motorola shows that it will have a negative effect on Google’s results, possibly dropping earnings per share by as much as one third. Google has long stated that one of its goals in the purchase will be the patents, and it seems that since it is already using Motorola as a tool in its on going war with Apple over patents, it now will take it to a new level.

But it is also likely that it will be more aggressive in using the patents overall, possibly to exert more control over Android handset makers and their software. The one company that could be harmed by this approach might be Amazon whose Kindle uses a basic version of Android but with all of the other Google features such as Gmail stripped out so that a user would barely know what OS it is running.

Amazon’s Kindle sales triple in last quarter

Amazon’s revenue grew 35% in its just concluded fourth quarter, reaching $17.4 billion and said that the sales of its Kindle eReaders tripled in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2011, but did not disclose the exact number sold.

However the sales growth did not meet analysts’ expectations and the company said that net income dropped significantly, down to $177 million, a 57% decline from the same period a year before. Part of the issue was a huge investment into expanding its sales fulfillment centers, a move it said will help grow the business in the long run.

For the current quarter it is predicting sales of between $12 billion to $13.4 billion and that it could post an operating loss of as much as $200 million to a profit of $100 million

Turner Broadcasting System and Intel Capital invest in iStreamPlanet’s Series A
iStreamPlanet has closed its Series A funding round with both Intel Capital and Turner Broadcasting Systems participating in the round. The amount of funding was not disclosed. iStreamPlanet develops automated video workflow technology.

Turner has already worked with iStreamPlanet in the past on a variety of live sports broadcasts going as far back as the 2010 NASCAR Coca Cola 400 at Daytona Speedway. Other events that iStreamPlanet has helped broadcast include the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football and the Championships at Wimbledon, along with the US Open Golf, Notre Dame College Football, Ryder Cup and the Kentucky Derby.

Aside from automated video workflow technology the company also has multi-screen technology as well as cross platform ad insertion capabilities.

Will BCS move games to campuses in 2014?
That is what is being reported as a possibility by Brett McMurphy over at CBSSports. He said that at least on athletic director has proposed moving many Bowl games onto school’s campuses rater than at the neutral sites where they are played today.

The new cycle of BCS begins in 2014 which is the earliest that the change could most likely occur. One of the driving forces behind the idea is the poor attendance that many of these Bowls and would call for on-campus games after the top 16 games are filled. Also under consideration would be requiring a minimum of seven wins to be bowl eligible.

Facebook revenue absent in the mobile space
As Facebook opens its books in advance of its $5 billion IPO a number of interesting facts have emerged about the company. It has obviously seen very strong growth since its inception and now has $3.7 billion in revenue.

Oddly enough none of this revenue, zero, comes from the mobile users of the social media. With 425 million of its 845 million users accessing the site via a mobile device this is astounding. However it shows that there is huge room for revenue growth for the company.

As reported at Forbes, Facebook said that it is devoting substantial resources to expanding its platform in the mobile space and seeks to create engaging mobile products. The company said that it anticipates mobile users’ rate growth to outpace its overall growth rate.

Feds keep pressure on illegal Super Bowl streamers
For the second year in a row the US Government has cracked down on a number of sites that provide sports streaming and has taken control of their domain names. Users heading to those sites will get a redirect notice from the DOJ/ICE.

Among the sites included are, and and as reported by Torrent Freak this is the second time around for the Feds to shut down sports streaming sites just prior to the Super Bowl, although some sites are already back up under slightly different incarnations.

The shutdown struck at least 307 domain names and the effort was called ‘Operation Fake Sweep’ with the bulk of the sites charged with selling fake NFL merchandise and only 16 for illegally streaming sports video.

AMD to enter tablet and Ultrabook space
AMD introduced analysts at its annual meeting to its newest processor roadmap that will include a pair of low powered chips that will target the tablet space and showed an Ultrabook design that looks to undercut Intel’s offerings in hat space.

According to EETimes coverage of the event AMD has added Hondo, a 40 nm processor for tablets due this year and plans to follow up with Temash, a 28 nm chip next year. The company has been slow to enter this space but its rivals here are more from ARM-based chips and the OMAP processors from Texas Instruments, Intel has been slow to make headway in this area as well.

AMD showed an Ultrabook that was developed by Taiwanese company Compal using AMD’s Trinity chip in a thin an ultrabook reference design made by Taiwan’s Compal. It said that the computer could have a $599 price tag, possibly starting a price war with developers using Intel’s developers ultrabooks.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Chipped Jerseys?

Microchip in Jerseys boosts merchandise, ticket sales
The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lighting has added a replica jersey to its lineup that features a radio frequency chip that allows fans to scan to get assorted deals. The chip, when scanned at stadium stores will offer discounts on team merchandise and refreshments.

The team had been struggling with fan support and claims that this program has been a boon for its sales and has attributed the chip in part for a twofold increase in its season ticket sales this year. A secondary effect has been the increase in fans wearing the home team jerseys, rather than those of the opposition.

Acer readies budget Iconia Tablet.
After leaks about its new tablet starting hitting the streets Acer must have decided “why not” and unveiled its budget tablet, the Iconia Tab A200. The company kept some things the same-10-inch display and dual core Tegra 2 processor.

To save costs the available storage has been reduced to 8GB or 16GB rather than the 16GB and 32GB offerings elsewhere in the Iconia line. It will have a 2MP front camera but no rear facing camera, a microSDHC card slot and will ship with Android 3.2 but the company said that it will be upgradable to 4.0. Pricing has not been announced.

A Microsoft platform without Windows?
Well not quite but PC Advisor is reporting that the forthcoming Windows 8 Tablets and other devices will just have to do without the traditional Windows desktop since it will not be offered on ARM-based devices.

Instead Microsoft will continue to push its Metro interface as the interface of choice on mobile devices. The company has already debuted Metro on the Windows Phone 7 devices. If you are an iPhone or Android user Microsoft is offering test drives of the interface on those platforms.

Intel eyes China as destination for additional investments
EE Times Asia is reporting that Intel Capital is planning to increase its investments in China next year. The company looks to focus on technologies that are related to the mobile device and ultra-thin portable PC technologies sector.

Intel said that in 2011 it invested approximately $70 million in 10 companies based in China, out of a total worldwide investment of $500 million. Other areas that it will look into investing in include cloud computing, software, security and products that support the mobile device ecosystem.

New features for Android in 2012
Wondering what will be in store for your next generation smartphone, assuming you are using an Android-based device. Well PC World has taken the time to list a range of the new features that are expected, but not announced for that platform.

Included are some that are expected such as better graphics and better cameras as well as a few that might be a bit further out such as enhanced voice command capabilities and hopefully a translation features as well.

Samsung wins latest patent round with Apple
A US federal judge has stymied Apple’s efforts to block Samsung from selling a range of smartphones and Tablets that Apple claims infringe on its patents related to its iPads and iPhones. Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court in San Jose last Friday denied Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung.

This is just one of the ten countries that the two are fighting a heated patent battle with the results mixed for both companies. This ruling opens the door for Samsung to sell its highly rated Galaxy S and other tablet and phone products.

Scrolling by the patent wars

While a great deal of noise over who stole what is still going on, Apple has apparently licensed some of its iOS technology and even offered it to Samsung, according to a report from the Verge. It said that the “scrollback” feature that displays a different background when you scroll past the edge of a document.

The report stated that Apple licensed the technology to both IBM and Nokia and offered this to be licensed by Samsung as well. Samsung declined. This technology is one of the bones of contention between Apple and Samsung.