Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Microsoft Ticks off OEMs, Apple to Invest in Twitter?

The China Times, via Endgadget, is reporting the Microsoft is limiting the number of OEMs that can build a tablet that runs the RT version of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. This is the version that can be run on a tablet built using an ARM-based processor.

According to the piece the lucky few include Asus and Lenovo, which can use Nvidia processors, Texas instrument processors will be in Toshiba products while Samsung and Hewlett-Packard opting into the Qualcomm camp, with HP later dropping out at least in the near term.

Apple looking to invest in Twitter?
The New York Times has reported that Apple is in talks to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Twitter, according to unnamed sources familiar with the talks. It appears that the talks are informal at this point so do not cross your fingers just yet if you like the deal. However it could lead to tighter integration between Twitter and Apple’s operating systems, much like what Apple is doing with Facebook.

Google breaks down Motorola Mobility purchase
Ever wonder what $12.5 billion will get you? Well that is the price that Google paid for Motorola and the company has recently explained what each of the major components was valued. The 17,000 patents in its portfolio were worth roughly $5.5 billion. It paid $2.9 bn for the cash acquired, $2.6 bn was goodwill, $670 million was other assets and $730 million was customer relations. You can look here for more details or head over to its 10-Q filings with the SEC.

Microsoft wins around in Germany vs Motorola
Microsoft has won a round when a German court ruled that Motorola Mobility has infringed on a patent that deals with common names for long and short file allocation tables. The two sides have been battling around the globe on the issues of patents and both sides have won, and so of course lost, various patent rulings in the last six months so if this sounds like a repeat, it is close to one.

Microsoft admits hostility over Surface
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft has said that there could be potential problems with its introduction of a table that would compete with its OEMs that purchase the Windows 8 operating system.

Microsoft said that smartphones and tablets from rivals such as Apple represent a threat to its current business, in part because their increased popularity coupled with declining PC sales makes Microsoft’s existing platforms less appealing to application developers.

Kickstarter favorite Pebble to deliver late
The Pebble smart watch, one of the real success stories in regards to funding via Kickstarter, has said that it will be delivering its product later than it had originally expected, IT Business is reporting. Part of the problem, according to the company, is the very success it had with Kickstarter.

The people that funded the company were to receive watches as part of compensation for their pledge, and originally the company had expected to produce 1,000 watches to meet that demand. Since it went off the rails in terms of funding the company now needs to produce over 68,000 watches for the investors.

Major settlement in patent case brings in major mobile players
The patent holding firm NTP has reached what is possibly an unprecedented settlement with 13 major mobile technology developers over the use of a number of patents that NTP owns. The companies included in the settlement are: Apple, Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, HTC, Motorola Mobility (now owned by Google), Palm (now owned by Hewlett-Packard), LG Electronics, Samsung, and Yahoo.

According to a piece in InfoWorld the terms of the deal were not revealed but it did say that all of the tech companies could use a number of NTP’s patents and that NTP will receive a licensing fee from the firms and that in turn it has ended its patent infringement suits against these companies.

Apple vs Samsung starts today in Calif.
The on again off again suit between the two will start in front of US District Court Judge Lucy Koh today as Apple seeks to prove its damage claims against rival Samsung revolving around a number of Apple patents that it claims Samsung has infringed on. The stakes are high as Apple has claimed that it is entitled to $2.525 billion in damages.

Friday Grab Bag: Bannister returns, Big Ten embraces Android

A sip of soda cost Ronaldinho $1.57m?
Apparently drinking the wrong soda can be costly as Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho found out. He appeared at a press conference for his new team, Atletico Mineiro sipping a Pepsi, which happens to be one of the teams’ sponsors.

However Coca-Cola happens to be one of Ronaldinho’s sponsors, with a deal valued at $1.57 million. Apparently the powers that be at Coke’s headquarters were less than pleased and canceled his contract.

Big Ten moves to Android

The Big Ten Network has expanded its mobile reach with the release of BTN2Go for Android. The app, which enables subscribers to the Big Ten Network via their cable supplier, to view a huge range of sports on smartphones, tablets and via the web.

They will be able to watch live feed of all of the networks programming that includes more than 40 football games and 100 men’s basketball games among the hundreds of programs. The app is available at Google Play.

2/3 of new mobile buyers opt for smartphones, Nielsen says
The latest newsletter from Nielsen Wire shows that the in the second quarter of 2012 smartphone growth has continued unabated. Currently 54.9% of all US mobile phone subscribes now use a smartphone as of its June 2012 study.

Two out of every three new phone purchases were a smartphone during the last three months. According to the survey Android is the operating system of choice with 51.8% of all users adopting that platform while 34.3% use an iPhone from Apple.

Despite past results RIM Exec takes upbeat view
Research in Motion has seen things go from bad to worse as it reports losses, declining customer base and delays in its next generation smartphone, a product that it is hoping will bring it out of the doldrums that surround the company.

However there is a light cutting through the clouds according to Frank Boulben, RIM’s chief marketing officer said that the late delivery of its BlackBerry 10, after the important Holiday shopping season, will actually benefit the company as it will allow carriers to prepare and allow it to have the spotlight to itself.

Microsoft/Motorola Patent tiff on hold

Microsoft and Motorola have decided to wait until the hearing over Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing obligations is heard later this year before continuing their patent lawsuits against each other.

While this will slow the lawsuit issue to a degree it does not affect any potential ruling by the International Trade Commission on two complaints involving the two companies, according to a piece in Electronista.

Microsoft is also aiming at Apple- Shock

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer has said that it is a new day at Microsoft and that its Surface tablet will be taking on all comers, including Apple, vowing not to leave any market segments uncontested to its rival.

According to an exclusive in CRN Ballmer said that the company and its partners had ceded some areas in the high tech space to Apple and its innovative ways. Areas that Microsoft plans to now more fiercely compete include the consumer cloud and in the area of hardware/software innovation, he said.

It is interesting that one of the reasons Apple is still around as a company is because Microsoft invested $150 million in 1997, a deal that eventually netted Microsoft almost 19 million shares of Apple stock for an average cost of about $9 per share. Microsoft has since sold the stock.

NBC has an Olympic app-if you are a subscriber
NBC Olympics has developed the NBC Olympics Live Extra app that will enable users to watch every event live, which will run to an estimated 3,500 hours of coverage, according to a report from Michael Hiestand in USA Today.

The app will be available for Apple’s iPad and iPhone platforms as well as some Android devices. However NBC will only allow access to viewers who get NBC’s MSNBC and CNBC channels — that’s about 100 million households out of the 114 million total U.S. TV households.

London Olympics salutes Roger Bannister
Roger Bannister, now Sir Robert Bannister, the first man to break the sub-4 minute mile barrier carried the Olympic torch on the track where he broke the record 58 years ago. As part of the relay for the torch as it arrived in London he walked on the track and then handed it off. There is speculation that he will be selected to light the cauldron to start the Olympics.

Tablets continue to erode PC sales
Market research firm Gartner has reported that for the seventh consecutive quarter sales of PCs have continued a trend of anemic growth as demand lessens in favor of tablets. However it notes that economic weakness in both the US and Europe are also contributing to the poor demand.

According to the company sales in the second quarter were 87.5 million units with Hewlett-Packard the market leader followed by Lenovo and Dell.

Social news site Digg sold
Once high flyer Digg, a social news site, was a top destination on the Internet and it saw its valuation numbers soar with its popularity, but as with many popular sites, its appeal waned and viewership fell off as other newer technologies took its place.

The drop appears to now be complete as the site has been sold for $500,000 to Betaworks, which gains the site and its technology, which will be incorporated into a new unit that Betaworks will announce in the future, according to the New York Times.

Friday Grab Bag: What Grades Did your Team’s NFL Draft Receive?

A report from ABI Research shows that while tablets such as Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle are constantly in the news as the latest and greatest laptop use is still strong, but does find that tablets are taking sales away from netbooks.

The research found that approximately 1/3 of those surveyed planned to buy a laptop in the next year while 16% planned on purchasing a media tablet in the same time frame. It looks like netbooks are being relegated to emerging markets and out of the US market.

Mustaches making a comeback in baseball?
There was an amusing piece in The Wall Street Journal about a week ago talking about the return of the mustachioed man in baseball. In the modern era it probably reached its peak on the Oakland A’s of the Charles Finley ownership era and has since seemed to fade away.

However just last year John Axford, a reliever with the Milwaukee Brewers won the very coveted ‘Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American’ from the American Mustache Institute, a notable win for a Canadian. No real insights here just kind of an interesting read- also I did not know that they were also known as Lip Sweaters.

Microsoft takes big hit in German court

A German court has ruled that Microsoft cannot sell its Xbox 360 game console and its Windows 7 operating system in the German market. The court, based in Mannheim, said that Microsoft breached an agreement that it had with Motorola Mobility in using certain video compression software in Microsoft products.

However Microsoft is not likely to remove its products from German shelves right away as Microsoft has won a ruling in U.S. District court in Seattle that

Do you have a social media will?
The joke that a friend will clear your browsing history if you die suddenly has some bearing in reality, or so I have heard. But do they know your passwords? The Government seems to understand the issues families of recently deceased trying to gain access to social media and has offered a bit of advice.

Posted here on the USA Gov blog it has a piece entitled “How and why you should write a social media will” that entails you giving passwords to a trusted person to close Facebook, email etc that are open in your name. And clear browsing history.

London Olympics to have world’s largest McDonalds?

I for one have always associated McDonalds with fitness and athletic excellence so this of course does not surprise me. The AP and Christian Science Monitor has reported that a two story McDonalds that can seat 1500 people will be built in Olympic Park.

According to the piece, it is just one of five that will be built for the Olympics, one just for the athletes. Guess who the official food sponsor is for the London Olympics.

Nokia planning tablets and hybrids
Departing Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila said that the company is looking to expand into tablets and hybrids, but did not give any type of timetable or details on the move. The company just lost its crown as the top handset maker after a 14 year run to rival Samsung.

It has invested heavily in developing for the emerging Microsoft Windows Phone standard and it seems likely that it might expand that partnership to include supporting Windows 8, Microsoft’s tablet OS when that is available.

iPad 4G claims false?
Apple is facing some heat from Australia and the United Kingdom on the claims that the recently released iPad works on 4G networks. The battle about connectivity has been going on for some time down under but now the U.K. has joined the fray, Red Orbit reports.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claims that the ads are misleading since the iPad does not connect at the frequency that the fledgling 4G networks in that country operate, the same problem it has in Australia. In Australia Apple simply removed references to 4G and is expected to do the same in the UK.
You would think that something this basic would have already been found bulletproof prior to releasing the device but who knows?

Target boots Amazon’s Kindle
Target, one of Amazon’s largest brick and mortar partners has opted to cease carrying Amazon’s Kindle tablet. The issue is that customers visit the stores and look at the devices and then return home and buy them direct according to the New York Times.

Amazon even encouraged its customers to do so, offering a discount f they purchased a product direct from Amazon after scanning it n a store. So instead Target will increase Apple’s presence and other tablets including Barnes & Noble’s Nook its 1,800 stores

Kickstarter favorite Pebble gets first app
Pebble, the watch that connects to your smartphone now has its first app, one from RunKeeper. The details for what exactly the app will do are not available yet but RunKeeper develops programs that track workouts. The company said that when the Pebble is commercially available it will have the RunKeeper app available as well.

Grading the NFL draft graders
Now that the NFL Draft is over and the wait begins for the start of the regular season there is still one NFL stone that appears to be untouched-looking at how all of the major NFL pundits team grades compare.

Now you could arm yourself with a spreadsheet and spend time traveling to all of the various web sites to garner what they said and how it compares to their rivals prognostications, but the good folks at Football Outsiders have taken it upon themselves.

They took the posted grades from nine NFL writers and draft experts and show how they rating each team, how that compares to what the competitors said, and how teams ranked overall. It is well worth a read.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Preliminary Windows 8 Tablet Specs

Intel takes wraps off of Windows 8 tablet specs
Intel has showed the expected features and capabilities of the Windows 8 tablets at its Developer Forum in Beijing last week, a nugget that was dug up by Cnet. Not surprising is the chip powering these next generation devices will be Intel’s Z2760 ‘Clover Trail’ processor.

The chip is a multithreaded dual core processor with a feature called ‘burst mode’ that enables it to accelerate performance for short periods of time. There will be two basic designs, one a 10-inch model and the second a slightly larger 11-inch that will feature a keyboard.

It will have an estimated 9-hour battery life, support 3G/4G and also have NFC (near field communications) and Wi-Fi Direct. Its weight will be roughly 1.5 pounds and it s expected to be 9 mm thick. A second half 2012 release date is expected for the tablets based on the specs, but that is based on Microsoft releasing Windows 8 in that time frame.

Expect a wave of tablets of all size in next few months
A host of tablet manufacturers have tablets in the pipeline and they will start appearing on shelves very shortly, according to multiple reports. Samsung, Nokia, and even possibly Apple have products that should be are nearing the market.

The Asus Transformer Pad 300 is expected to hit the streets next week with a 4G LTE supporting pad that is expected to have a $399 price tag for a 32GB model. Amazon reportedly has three Kindle Fire models on the designing board including a 8.9-inch one.

Then there is the long awaited Google Nexus Tablet that has been rumored for some time and s expected to be built by Asus. It is believed to be a 7-inch tablet that will have a $199 starting price point. For more information on these and others including Nokia, Apple and Samsung’s potential offerings head over to the International Business Times site.

Apple loses appeal on ‘push’ email
Chalk one up for Motorola Mobility as a German court has upheld a ban that prevents Apple from using ‘push’ email in its iCloud and MobileMe service in Germany. The court, based in Mannheim, confirmed that Motorola owns the patent and that Apple must pay to use it.

The ruling keeps the services shut down in Germany and Apple is liable for damages and has been ordered to provide information that will enable the courts to determine the amount of the damage.

A look at how the current patent wars are hurting the market
A nice, general piece on the growing problem of patent conflicts and how it has erupted into major warfare. The rise of patent trolls, including corporate ones and how companies now go out and buy patents simply for protection. Nothing groundbreaking but nice to see that the issue is making more news.

On the same topic the fact that most of the patents in the smartphone area are held by international companies could stunt the growth of home grown developers in China, the world’s largest smartphone market.

Local handset manufacturers sold 455 million units last year but have been warned that they may be violating copyright laws with their devices. The news came from The Mobile Terminal White Paper, issued by the China Academy of Telecommunication Research.

Twitter tried to buy Instagram first
I did not hear about this when the huge deal went down with Facebook but apparently there was more than one company lining up for the photo sharing company. Seems that Twitter co-founder and Chairman Jack Dorsey had tried in the past to purchase the company, but failed to get any real traction on a deal.

However, since Dorsey was one of the investors in Instagram, he will be seeing a pretty penny from the deal. For a nice look at Instagram head over to the NY Times for this piece.

Pew study highlights technology rift
A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows how much of a gap still exists between have’s and have not’s in terms of technology. While a full 19% of Americans now have some form of tablet, be it a fully loaded Apple iPad or a bare bones Barnes & Noble Nook, a greater percentage, 22% do not even have Internet access.

The report is focused on digital access in this country and provides some great snapshots of who uses which technologies including cell phones and laptops as well as tablets, and that is broken down by a variety of demographics.

It is interesting to see that a fairly large number of adults that do not have Internet access do so because they believe that it adds nothing to their lives. Also the rise of mobile Internet access has helped level the playing field in areas that had traditionally lagged n terms of access and use.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Padfone Tablet Near?

Microsoft obviously realizes two major hurdles exist in front of its push to get its Windows Phone to become an established, viable player in the smartphone space. It is way behind in the app space, and it needs apps to succeed.

So it is doing what you would expect from a company that has the vast resources of Microsoft, it is launching a variety of efforts to get developers to commit to creating apps for the platform, including paying them for the work, according to The New York Times.

The software company has a number of incentives that range from funding the development of apps, prime placement in its app store, free equipment and others. The company has also established a major app development effort with Nokia.

Problems pile up for Motorola- could this kill the merger?
First off it is investigating Motorola Mobility in two separate for using legal injunctions against Apple and Microsoft to gain an edge in the market. This investigation is rooted in complaints that both companies filed against Motorola.

Part of the question that the EU will look at is did Motorola break promises with standards setting organizations and if it offered unfair licensing conditions for its standard-essential patents. Fines for this violation can be substantial.

Then there is an apparent demand for $4 billion dollars annually as royalty payments made by Motorola to Microsoft to use its patents in the Xbox that is being heard in a US court. Microsoft is retaliating by asking a judge to block the importation of Motorola phones due to patent violations.

The net result of these and China’s delaying in giving regulatory approval to the deal is that Motorola investors are getting nervous, according to the Business Insider. Shares have been dropping in the past weeks due to the delays. However in a note on Google’s Investor Page, CEO Larry Page has a long note that mentions the Motorola deal in very positive terms and that he has great expectations for the deal.

Asus taking Padfone preorders
Asus is now taking orders for its hybrid table called the Padfone. The device has two main components. The first is smartphone that is powered by a a Snapdragon S4 dual core 1.5GHz processor running the latest version of the Android operating system, v. 4.0

Then there is a 10-inch tablet that has a docking bay for the phone, with the phones processor running the tablet. I will be very interested to see how this works because a user could then leverage their cell phone data plan on the tablet, and so not need two plans. Pricing and delivery date have not yet been announced although it is expected later this month.

Samsung’s Galaxy Notes hits 5 million in sales
When I saw the Galaxy Note at CES I was sure it would not be a winner. It was kind of a jackalope, neither a phone nor a tablet, and too big for one purpose and too small for the other IMHO. This wisdom is why I am not rich. The company, which had a record breaking quarter, sold 5 million of the devices.

Now some might point out that Apple sold 3 million of its new iPads in just three days, and that is all good and true. But this is not the only arrow in Samsung’s quiver, and the company has a range of tablets, and smartphones available. Its creative thinking looks to make it a true force to be dealt with in both market segments.

Tablet and smartphone owners multitask with TV
One of the latest news reports from Nielsen shows that globally 88% of tablet owners and 86% of smartphone owners said that they used their device at least once in a 30 day period while watching television.

In the United States 26% said that they used their tablet multiple times a day when watching television and 27% said that they did so with their smartphones. Those numbers were roughly double that of those who said that they never did.

The top purpose was to view e-mail, both during the actual broadcasts and during the commercial breaks. A popular alternative was to check out information related to ether the program, or good news for advertisers, looking up information on products shown during commercial breaks.

Apple closing on facial recognition software?
A new patent that Apple as filed for shows that the company is developing features that will enable control of an iOS device via facial recognition. The patent lists a method to create an automatic user-switching system which can lock, unlock, as well as reconfigure a device for users based on face detection using a front-facing camera.

As discussed in Ars technica the patent, “Electronic Device Operation Adjustment Based On Face Detection” it has the ability to lock out unauthorized users as well as be set for specific preferences. There is already a facial unlock feature on the Android side in v. 4.0.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: BlackBerry still in the Red

Research in Motion has revealed in its quarterly earnings call that revenue for its current quarter was down 19%, $4.2 billion compared to $5.2 billion in the previous quarter, for a net loss of $125 million. The results that have resulted in a management shift and a change on corporate focus. For the quarter the company shipped approximately 11.1 million BlackBerry phones and 500,000 tablets.

Out is former co-CEO Jim Balsille who has resigned from the board of directors. Also gone are COO of Global Operations Jim Rowan and CTO David Yach. This coincides with a much stronger emphasis on developing and delivering products focused on the needs of the coporate IT department and the corporate user.

So security, reliability, manageability and messaging services will be the keywords going forward as it seeks to leverage what it views are corporate strengths-enterprise services and devices that handle them. On the flip side areas such as consumer oriented capabilities such as media consumption will be placed on a backburner.

The key to all of this, and for the company to successfully rebound, will hinge on the BlackBerry 10 launch, executives said. The release is due at some point later this year and will finally give the company a high end smartphone to compete with the Android and Apple devices that are already so prevalent. It has been working hard to develop a strong app ecosystem as well.

Nano-SIM standard vote delayed
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) after dueling proposals caused a rift. On one side is Apple, and select allies, and on the other is Nokia, Research in Motion and Motorola Mobility. TechWorld reports that a vote was scheduled last week but was postponed for at least a month due to strong differences between the two camps. The purpose is to develop a new, smaller form factor SIM card, officially called 4FF or fourth form factor.

Slow Tablet sales not Google’s fault?
An interesting piece from the good folks at The Motley Fool, or at least from Evan Niu, ponders why Google has not been able to transfer its tremendous success with its Android operating system in the smartphone market to the Tablet market. There are a variety of reasons mentioned but much of it boils down to the fact that many of the apps are simply slightly altered smartphone apps. It then ponders how Microsoft will do when it makes its big splash with its Windows 8 OS.

Google to sell self-labeled tablets?
An interesting sidebar to the while Android tablets are not doing well is the current rumors that not only will Google sell its own line of tablets, but will do so from its own store. Originally reported by the Wall Street Journal, the story is that Google will turn to partners, possibly Samsung and Asus to build tablets that Google will then sell under its own label.

In addition to selling under its own label it will also be selling them direct, much like Amazon does with its Kindle offerings and Apple with its iTunes store, among others. It is also expected to subsidize the cost of the tablet, a move that could alienate some of its hardware OEMs.

Google has already gone down the co-branding path once with HTC Nexus One a few years ago. Know anybody that has one? Well Google execs have said that the company plans to double down on Android tablets this year so it will be an interesting time. According to eWeek Google admitted that it has 300 million Android smartphones but only 12 million tablets in customers’ hands.

EU antitrust about to step in on Apple/Motorola Mobility/Microsoft patent issue?
Reuters is reporting that the head of the EU’s antitrust agency said that the group is considering opening an investigation into the patent disputes that are ongoing between Apple, Microsoft and Motorola Mobility.

While the EU has given the Motorola/Google $12.5 billion purchase a thumbs up it also said that it retained the right to investigate ongoing issues including the patent problems that have been a source of considerable litigation.

The group is already investigating if Samsung’s tactics in this area against Apple are a violation of EU antitrust rules. Google has said that it will offer Motorola patents on fair and reasonable terms once the deal is completed.

More Money = Less Entertainment apps on phones

The research firm The Luxury Group has done a study that shows that the wealthier an owner of a smartphone is the less likely to use it to play games or send tweets. It studied app usage among wealthy consumers, ones with income over $150,000.

The news is not really that startling as the users that fell into this area tended to have families and demanding jobs and tended to select apps that met those needs rather than ones for personal entertainment. Still it is sad on which side of this discussion I fall.

Hi-Tech a boon to local bookies
Automation has led to efficiency in so many areas since the days of Henry Ford, and now it looks like local bookies are getting in on the action, according to the New York Times. Rather than stand on street corners singing ‘Luck be a lady tonight’ all they need do these day is set up a web site, post odds and then direct the locals to it to place bets. Must make it real easy at tax time to see what you owe the government, and yes I know that is not where the song was sung in the movie.