Friday Grab Bag: No $99 Kindle Fire, ESPN Carries Frisbee

Screen savers have come a long way since the days of flying toasters. Apple has just filed a patent entitled “Protective Mechanism for an Electronic Device” that is designed to recognize when a iPhone, or other device, is in freefall and takes automatic steps to save the screen, according to Apple Insider.

It looks like the technology discussed in the patent is designed to do one of two things, either protect the data on the screen and in use or to realign the device while falling in order to have it land in a manner that will not damage the screen. Sounds a bit farfetched but would be interesting if real.

A nice look at Google Glass’ future
Google Glass has been an interesting platform since its introduction about a year ago, with people speculating on uses and at least one place already banning the as yet unreleased commercial model, but what are the real challenges and opportunities that they will provide users?

Mashable has a nice outlook piece of the platform that talks about a host of challenges that the platform will face from connectivity, how commands and control are implemented to safety issues that they might present. Head on over.

Athletic Directors Pay too high?
Sports on Earth’s Patrick Hruby has an interesting piece on the issue of paying college athletes, taking a different approach than most do by looking at how well paid executives in athletic departments are at top schools.

The issue is of importance because a lawsuit against the NCAA is slowly making its way through the court systems and the NCAA is saying that it will destroy amateurism in sports, although a cycnic might think that the organization was more concerned with its tax exempt status.

ESPN adds a new league with USA Ultimate deal
USA Ultimate may not ring a bell but now you will be able to watch its matches on the network’s channels as ESPN has reached a deal with the governing body of the sport of Ultimate Frisbee in the United States.

The deal calls for ESPN to broadcast the sports three major events; the College Champions, the US Open and the National Championship. There will be both live and tape delayed coverage on the network’s ESPN3 and ESPNU channels.

Survey Says: Mobile Apps win over mobile net
A survey run by Compuware found that the speed and convenience of mobile apps makes them a clear favorite among smartphone users over mobile web sites, with 85% of those surveyed giving the mobiles apps the thumbs up.

It looks as if the convenience factor was a major factor since the poll also showed that only 28% felt that the apps gave a better user experience. Another interesting fact from the study was that the number of apps that smartphone users have on their devices grew 28% last year and now stands at 41.

No $99 Kindle Fire
For the last several weeks there has been a rumor that Amazon was going to break new pricing ground by offering a version of the Kindle Fire for $99. It was supposed to be a 7-inch tablet and would ship later this year.

Not so fast Amazon has replied. Talking to Business Insider, as reported by the Inquistr, the company has responded saying that it is simply not happening. So it is no longer necessary to wait for the fall releases if you were waiting for that device.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Apple Patent News

Google Ventures, the investment arm of Google has received an additional $100 million in funds to invest in startups. The group had been budgeted to invest $200 million in past years but that number has been bumped up to $300 million according to Tom’s Hardware.

Apple loses latest round in patent fight with Google/Motorola
Apple has lost an important ruling last week when a Federal Judge threw out its lawsuit against Motorola Mobility over patent licensing practices. The suit claimed that using 2.25% of the selling price of the item was too high, but the judge dismissed it without comment.

However, according to Wired, the Federal Trade Commission has recommended that the U.S. Justice Department pursue an antitrust investigation into Motorola Mobility in order to determine if it reasonably offered licensing of its industry-standard technology or used that licensing to block rival hardware from competitors Apple and Microsoft.

Speaking of Microsoft and Motorola
The two have also been fighting over the 2.25% per device issue and Microsoft wants to look at the FRAND pricing based on previous pricing. According to Microsoft it should pay somewhere in the vicinity of around $1.2 million a year for rights to use the patents that are in dispute, while of course Motorola thinks that its number, which would result in a significantly higher return, is just fine.

A look at Huawei’s MediaPad 10 FHD tablet
Huawei, as has already been reported, is entering the 10-inch Android driven tablet space with its MediaPad 10 FHD offering. The tablet features a display with 1920 x 1200 resolution, a Huawei-built quad core 1.4GHz Cortex-A9 processor and will be available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB versions. For more details head over to Slash Gear.

Apple and HTC bury the patent hatchet
In one of the rare the resolutions in the patent wars that looks like it will be final, Apple and rival smartphone maker HTC have settled all of their outstanding patent disputes globally. The resolution includes a ten year cross patent licensing agreement. Any other terms of the arraignment were not disclosed. They originally tussled in court on the patent issue in 2010 when Apple filed a patent infringement case against HTC with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

iPad Mini component costs pegged at $188
Ever wonder how much it costs to make something? Well lucky for you, and the rest of us, a number of companies take the time to break down devices and analyze them, and the latest results are from IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Services.

It found that the iPad Mini, which starts at retail at $329 costs $188 for the bill of materials and an additional $10 to actually build for a model that features just Wi-Fi and 16GB of storage. The single most expensive component is the tablet’s 7.1-inch display at $80.

Apple to drop Intel chips?
Stop me if you have heard this one before but the rumor that is again making the rounds is that Apple will jettison the Intel processors that it now uses in its Macintosh computers in favor of its own developed chips that it currently uses in its iPads. However the reports, apparently started by Bloomberg but picked up elsewhere, are very hazy as to when such a change might occur.

Mobile Sports Report Grab Bag: New Tablets from ZTE & Huawei and MNF Flop

Toys 'R' Us Tabeo

Tired of losing your pricey iPad to your kids and then they yell when you try and take it back? Well Toys “R” Us has stepped in with a product that just might save the day with its Tabeo offering. A 7-inch tablet that runs the Android operating system will be available in stores Oct. 21, but will start shipping Oct. 1.

The $149.99 device will feature 4GB of storage that is expandable to 32GB, but the big plus for parents is that it will come with more than 50 books, games and educational apps preloaded including such popular ones as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. The Tabeo is now available for preorder.

Chinese vendors ZTE & Huawei catching tablet fever?
DigiTimes is reporting that both Huawei Technologies and ZTE have both shown a good deal of interest in entering the tablet space. The move is seen as an effort to expand their respective footprints globally as well as take advantage of the huge Chinese market.

First Monday Night Football game of season a flop with fans
The first MNF games have come and gone, and thank goodness if you were forced to watch them. Apparently not that many did as Sports Media Watch reports that the opening game, a Ravens blowout of the Bengals only managed an 8.1 rating.

Monday Night Football

The season opener, shown on ESPN, was down 21% from last year when the Patriots and Dolphins played and down 23% from the Jets vs. Ravens in 2010. It was the lowest rated MNF broadcast by ESPN since it took over broadcast duties of the iconic show in 2007.

However just a few days later the NFL Network, with a much better matchup with the Packers vs. Bears, received the highest rating in its short history. However its numbers, at 6.3, are hurt because it still is not carried anywhere near as much by cable operators as ESPN.

Analysts predict 58 million iPhone sales in 2012
The iPhone orders only start today after the introduction earlier this week with the first phones expected to ship next week but analysts are predicting a tsunami of sales for Apple’s iPhone 5 smartphone in 2012.

According to a survey done by Bloomberg and reported in Mashable the consensus from analysts is 58 million sold this year and FBR Capital Market analyst Craig Berger is predicting 250 million over the life of the device.

Is Samsung’s LTE threat an issue still?

Samsung mentioned that if Apple included LTE in its iPhone 5 there was a high likelihood of Samsung suing Apple. Samsung owns a huge number of patents in this area and has a healthy business in the LTE area that is spate from the smartphone business.

Now so far Samsung has not acted but it might just be that the company is looking at the technology that is used in Apple’s LTE offering to make sure that it has it right. We could always hope that maybe the two are actually talking and can settle things out of court.

Samsung & MLB partner on contest
Speaking of Samsung the company has entered into a contest with Major League Baseball called Photo Hunt. It is a pretty basic game, one I think even I would have a decent chance at. Every week MLB, at @MLB, will tweet out a Samsung Photo Hunt item using the hash tag #SamsungMLB.

All a user has to do is take a picture of the item and share it with @MLB. Winners will get a Samsung S III phone and two free tickets to a game of their favorite team.

Kindle opens to lukewarm reviews
I was impressed by what I saw during the Kindle HD press conference last week, but reviewers with hands-on experience with the device have been less than complimentary. Some seems to be valid complaints, such as the speed apps load and a few issues with software.

Some of the complaints appear to be, well it is not an iPad, and that really is Amazon’s fault for proclaiming it the best tablet in the market. I still like it, but it is obviously what Amazon said it was at its introduction: a device that opens up other Amazon services to customers. It seems to me to make a product like that (in hindsight) that there will be features that are not included that a general purpose tablet user might want.

USA Today to look like iPad?
I have not been down to the local newsstand but it appears that USA Today will be sporting a new look starting this morning. The paper, which in many ways revolutionized the way papers look and how much space they devote to a story, is now taking on a sleeker appearance.

The paper took a lesson from the Web and how many sites present information. It will also feature input from social media users, including comments from Twitter and Facebook. Its web page will function more like an iPad, according to a piece in the New York Times.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football Expands Social Media Presence

Sunday Night Football on NBC

I was reading an old NBC Sports press release this morning and an interesting note caught my eye on its growing use of social media as a tool in reaching fans. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all will feature much more prominently in the networks pro football efforts.

The first thing I saw was that for what seems like a first you will be able to get live video updates from the sidelines of Sunday Night Football. It seems that NBC’s broadcast team sideline reporter will be posting updates directly to Twitter.

As the ultimate in mobility, if not image quality, it looks like instead of a traditional camera they will be using an iPhone, according to Mashable, to record the updates that will be provided by reporter Michele Tafoya and then post them to @SNFonNBC.

I think that this is a great idea because it will enable her to expand beyond the role that sideline reporters often seem to fall into such as asking blindingly obvious questions to the coaches and occasionally providing an injury update when they can squeeze them into the broadcast.

During sports broadcasts I do not like the breakways from the action that seem to increasingly occur. ESPN almost ruined Monday Night Football for me by having a guest in the booth and talking with them and showing the conversation rather than the action that was on the field. I did not tune in to hear Mark Wahlberg tout his latest movie!

Apparently the Twitter effort started in the preseason and I managed to miss it, as I followed my tradition of not watching preseason games, or pretty much caring about their results aside from the injury reports.

For the second year NBC will also be employing Instagram as a tool to send images to fans, both ones that it generates from the control truck, field and locker-room but also fan-generated ones as well who can submit via Instagram using #SNF that be sent into a special Instagram tab on the Sunday Night Football Facebook page.

The centerpiece of the social experience will be its Facebook page, that will serve as an aggregation site for all of its various properties including, ProFootballTalk.Com and as well as the Twitter feed and the Instagram postings.

I think this is one of the best uses of social media by a broadcaster and shows that as the broadcasters, at least this one, are getting a grasp on the fact that fans view events and gather information about them with a greater variety of media tools than ever before and that reaching them all takes a more concentrated effort.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Nokia Tablet and Kindle Tidbits

Intel has reported that softer than expected demand for PCs along with partners reducing inventory has

led the company to lower its revenue forecast for the third quarter. The company now expects third-quarter revenue to be $13.2 billion, plus or minus $300 million, compared to the previous expectation of $13.8 billion to $14.8 billion.

Google buys security firm Virus Total
Google has added another company to its portfolio with its acquisition of internet security firm Virus Total. Virus Total is a free service that analyzes files and URLs looking for worms, viruses and other types of malware.

The deal, for an undisclosed amount, will provide Google with another tool to help eliminate malware and other unwanted travelers in its Gmail and other programs.

Will iPhone 5 support 4G LTE?
One of the interesting rumors that have been making the rounds over the last few weeks is that if Apple introduces the iPhone 5 with 4G LTE support Samsung will instantly sue Apple. Apparently Samsung owns a great number of important patents in this area and believes it can use them to strike back at Apple.

Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the phones will indeed support LTE, but possibly not in every country. The lack of access to the new high speed networks would have placed Apple at a competitive disadvantage to rivals that already feature support.

Kindle Fire HD to use Bing as default search engine
Chalk one up for Microsoft which has landed its Bing browser on the just announced Kindle Fire HD tablets, replacing rival Google. Users do have the option to change the search engine, according to a piece in ars technical.

Speaking of the Kindle, it looks like there will be permanent ads on both the revamped older Kindle models as well as on the new line of Kindle Fire HD tablets. According to Mashable, Amazon will include its Special Offers and Sponsored Screensavers on the lock screen and lower left hand corner of the home screen.

Well that did not take long. An hour after I wrote the above paragraph I saw that Cnet is reporting that Amazon has backtracked and will now allow users to opt out of the ads, for a $15 fee. Great, maybe I will opt in to a Nexus 7 instead as well.

However all is not well as it looks like Amazon will be tracking Kindle users’ online behavior. According to Tech Crunch, Amazon will update its Silk browser to include a ’trending now’ feature that shows what web pages and issues are hot. For now it looks like there is an opt out ability.

Kickstarter projects have raised $347 million

We have not reported on much from Kickstarter lately, in part because it seems to be increasingly funding video games and projects that just don’t appeal to us. However they are appealing to someone as Forbes has reported that the crowd funding site has raised $347 million for projects. An interesting tidbit is that $274.5 million has been spent on US-based efforts, so there is still a huge growth opportunity internationally.

Nokia hints at a tablet in its future
During its Windows Phone 8 smartphone rollout last week it appears that the company’s executives hinted at the possibility that the company would enter the tablet business, according Fast Company. The company’s CEO, Stephen Elop said that with Nokia’s strength in the mobile space other aspects of that market present a real opportunity for it.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: HP, Lenovo tablet plans, Apple/Samsung go to Jury?

Apple and Samsung met to try and narrow their dispute in the ongoing patent case that is now being heard in a federal courthouse in San Jose, Calif. At the judge's request the two met but could not come to any resolution in narrowing the scope of the case.

With this failure the case is likely to be handed over to the jury for deliberation this week. Apple wants the ban on Samsung tablets to be continued and that the ban also expend to Samsung’s smartphones, both of which it claims infringe on its patents.

Kodak patent sale gets complicated
Kodak, faced with an industry that does not hold its patents in quite the esteem, or at least the dollar value that it does, is said to be considering keeping the over 1,000 patents that it had put up for auction. Once believed to be worth several billion, bids came in significantly lower than it has expected, in the $150-$250 million range, according to reports.

Another rumor making the rounds is that Apple will team with Google to buy the patents from Kodak. Considering the animosity between the two this seems hard to believe. Both have huge cash reserves and at the current expected cost of the patents it would be no hardship for either to purchase them by themselves.

Google/Motorola seek US iPhone ban
The long running battle between Apple and Google/Motorola has witnessed a new front open as Google is seeking to get a ban on iPhone and iPad devices claiming that they violate select patents that Google owns.

The complaint, filed with the US International Trade Commission, claims that Apple violates seven patents including e-mail notification and location reminders. The two have been fighting in court since licensing talks ended two years ago.

HP to focus on consumer tablets, report said
The Verge has been touting an internal memo it has received that shows that Hewlett-Packard’s future tablet plans will inc

lude a big focus on consumer tablets and the group will be led by former Nokia exec Alberto Torres.

As many remember HP delivered its first tablet last year, the Touch Pad, and then quickly killed it off and the division, only to reignite the effort some months later. The previous tablet was based on technology it gained it its Palm acquisition, the new generation is expected to be based on Microsoft’s Windows 8.

Lenovo believes RT tablets will be a hot item
Lenovo said that the pricing on operating systems will allow hardware OEMs that build tablets using the Windows RT version of Windows 8 to offer significantly less expensive tablets that the OEMs that use the Windows 8 models.

According to Bloomberg the tablets will be $200-$300 less, resulting in RT tablets in the $300-$400 range while the Windows 8 tablets will be in the $600-$700 range. Lenovo has already talked about its Windows 8 tablet here.

LG Optimus Vu headed to stores globally next month
The hybrid tablet/smartphone that LG first showed back in February is expected to reach the market sometime in September. The Optimus Vu will sport a 5-inch display with an Nvidia processor, 32GB of storage and a 5MP camera. Pricing and exact availability are not yet known.

Will verdict in Apple’s favor change market?
The New York Times has a piece that speculates that a victory by Apple in its lawsuit could have one interesting consequence; it could force rival tablet and smartphone makers to truly differentiate their products.

The opposite could also be true if Samsung emerges victorious, with a lot of manufacturers doing Apple knockoffs with no real fear of legal action by Apple. One would hope that developers would try to differentiate on their own, but after looking at vanilla PCs for a decade you know it is not true.