Friday Grab Bag: Unhappy iPad Users? Is Facebook Home Dead Already?

Will Microsoft buy Barnes & Noble’s Nook Business?
The rumor has once again emerged that Microsoft is looking at buying Barnes & Noble’s Nook business unit, a unit that Microsoft has already invested $300 million. TechCrunch is now reporting that it has internal documents that show that indeed the software giant is pondering such a move.

The cost is approximately $1 billion, which would also include Nook Media and related digital business operations. The documents show that Barnes & Noble is considering discontinuing its Android-based tablets next year.

Apple Patents invisible buttons
As smartphone users seemingly are demanding additional functionality with each new release of their favorite handset product designers are faced with the classic issue of form or functionality. Now Apple has patented a technology that seems to solve the issue by enabling fully functioning buttons and sliders that are not visible.

If you are wondering how you would use invisible items, they are not always hidden from the eye, but would appear when you motion towards them, according to a piece on them in Geek Newsletter.

Is Facebook’s Home burning down?
A few weeks ago amid a great deal of hype Facebook offered its latest and greatest mobile offering, Facebook Home. If you missed the announcement it was the debut of a smartphone, and a related app for owners of alternative Android devices, which made Facebook your smartphone start screen.

The HTC First was the first smartphone to come with the technology as standard and it was available from AT&T for $99. It has been apparently been met by a universal shrug of the shoulders by users, which had led AT&T to drop the price of the phone a bit, to 99 cents! Salon gives a good look at how far and fast this technology has dropped.

Amazon to offer smartphone with 3D display?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting (via C/Net) that Amazon is working on a pair of smartphones and that one of the two will have a 3D capability that will enable hologram like images. However the article made clear that the smartphones might never see the loght of day.

Amazon is increasingly delving into the hardware space starting with its popular Kindle tablet. While the rest is rumor, so far, it sounds like a set top box and the aforementioned smartphones are also in the works.

Google Glass takes another hit.
In case you missed the send up on Saturday Night Live you can look here but real world resistance to Google Glass technology is also continuing to rise. A nice piece in the New York Times outlines some of the major Pros and Cons of the technology.

We have always wondered how Las Vegas would deal with the glasses, and the NYT is of the opinion they will be banned, an opinion backed by Caesars Entertainment statement that they would be prohibited. However it is estimated that the glasses could generate upwards to $#500 billion for Google.

Bill Gates chimes in on iPad
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates recently spoke with CNBC and said that iPad users are frustrated with the lack of keyboard and because there is no Microsoft Office app for that platform that they will migrate to PC Tablets.

As can be noted in the Guardian’s coverage of his statements so Apple has sold an estimated 141 million iPads to unhappy users while the happy Microsoft Surface users have already swarmed the stores for an estimated 2 million units. Of course the Surface is still relatively new so we will see what the future brings.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: New Nexus, Windows 8, iPads on Horizon

This should be the start of a great couple of weeks for techies. Apple has its event on Wednesday, purportedly to announce the new iPad Mini but with Apple they could have an entirely different product to surprise the market, although I doubt it. Then Microsoft takes center stage the following day in New York to announce its Windows 8 operating system and show off its Surface tablets, along with the offerings from its OEMs.

The following week Microsoft unveils Windows 8 Phone along with Nokia and other partners in San Francisco. At the same time Google is hosting an Android event in New York. After all of this settles it will be time to look for the holiday gifts, at least the ones that you are going to get for yourself to keep your mobile sports jones going.

The Google announcement looks as if there will be several major components, according to Cnet. The next generation of the Android operating system, 4.2 will be on the table as well as a Nexus 4 phone from LG and a larger Nexus tablet, the Nexus 10, this time made by Samsung.

Google to settle with FTC?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is considering settling a case with the Federal Trade Commission over claims its Motorola Mobility unit violated antitrust laws. It has to do with how it licensed patents that were listed as industry standards.

Acer’s 7-inch tablet priced at $230
According to a report in the WebProNews Acer will be listing its 7-inch Iconia Tab A110 at $230. Slated for release on Oct.30 the tablet will have a 1024 x 600 resolution, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage while powered by a Nvidia Tegra quad-core processor.

4K is now Ultra HD
If you have been looking at cameras, televisions and other devices that list among their features that they are 4k you probably know that it means that they have a horizontal resolution of approximately 4,000 pixels. Well now the Consumer Electronics Association has decided to toss that into the trash and use the term Ultra HD when used with televisions that support 4k.

The minimum requirements to use the Ultra HD tag will be resolution of at least eight million active pixels, which is a minimum 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. Displays must have an aspect ratio of at least 16×9 and must have a digital input capable of carrying native 4K video, instead of relying solely on up-converting.

Apps bolster smartphone usage
Market research firm NPD has studied the issue of whether additional apps lead to more time on a smartphone. It found that yes, the connected consumer does spend additional time using the smartphone. The company’s Connected Intelligence SmartMeter found that when comparing monthly usage of minutes per day for August 2012 versus August 2011, Android smartphone users spent nearly one-fifth more time on their smartphones daily – 247 minutes, or over four hours versus 210 minutes or 3.5 hours. While I think many intuitively have believed this it is very nice to have someone actually do the research to back up opinions.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Acer, Huawei, Best Buy tablets on the horizon

Acer Iconia W510 tablet reaches FCC
Acer’s forthcoming Iconia W510 tablet, a Windows 8 ready device, is the latest forthcoming tablet to start testing at the Federal Communications Commission. This makes it very likely that the tablet will be available on the day of the launch, according to Engadget.

Amazon’s profit margin on Kindle is nil
Amazon has admitted what a number of research companies have already said, that its Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite e-reader are sold at cost. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told the BBC as much in an interview late last week. This is not really that surprising since the company is using these tablets as tools to open up sales of other products and services that the company offers. Google’s Nexus 7 is also sold at roughly cost.

With Apple expected to enter the 7-inch tablet space later this month it will be interesting to see how it prices the new iPad since Apple does make money on its hardware, but then it develops the operating system and processor.

Kickstarter hits the UK at month end

Kickstarter, the ever popular crowd funding site, is opening its horizons a bit as the site is planning on going live in the United Kingdom on Halloween. The site will list projects in pounds but feature a conversion chart so that people interested in pledging can also see the dollar value.

Tablet due from Huawei
We mentioned a week ago that Huawei was looking to enter the tablet space and Slashgear has already gotten its hands on one of the offerings that are coming from the company. One is the MediaPad 10 FHD that features a 10-inch display with 1920 x 1200 resolution and runs the Android operating system using a Huawei-built 1.5GHz processor. Capable of supporting 4G LTE it will be available with 8GB, 16GB and 32GB of storage and feature 2GB of RAM.

Amazon admits Kindle Paperwhite flaw
Amazon has issued a statement that admits that there is a lighting issue with its Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. Apparently the device has uneven lighting that can create odd gaps at the bottom of the screen. In addition the company pointed out that the device had 2GB of storage, down from 4GB in earlier models and that it does not support text-to-speech or have audio.

Best Buy joins the tablet fray
Best Buy has developed the Insignia Flex, but has not really provided too many details on the device. It has a dual core 1GHz processor, a 9.7-inch form factor and will run the Android 4.0 operating system. However so far other details such as storage, camera and price are still lacking.

10 Million iPads on the horizon?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple as ordered sufficient components to build 10 million of the next generation iPads, showing the strength of demand that the company expects for the tablet that is expected to be released later this month. The paper said that the number is roughly double what Amazon placed for Kindle Fire tablets in the same quarter.

Google asks for do-over in patent appeal
After losing to Microsoft two weeks ago Google’s Motorola Mobility group is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for a rehearing on an appeal that it had before the court once before. The court refused to hear its appeal two weeks ago. The appeal has to do with the courts preliminary injunction against Motorola prohibiting it from enforcing a German court injunctions. According to Foss Patents, the chances of an appeal being hear before the court are approximately 0.25%

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Cheap Google Tablet? Apple Map ills

The latest rumor on new tablets comes from the partnership of Google and Asus, which just recently introduced the popular Nexus 7 tablet. Now it is being reported by Digitimes that the t

wo may be looking to break new price point barriers with a $100 offering.

With new Nooks from Barnes & Noble, Kindles from Amazon and systems pending from a host of other OEMs over the next few weeks the competition is getting much stiffer as customers are now being presented with more viable options to Apple’s iPad. It will be interesting to see if this pans out. Others are already claiming that the rumor is false.

Fallout from Apple Maps continues
Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly apologized to customers about the poor shape that Apple’s maps is in. The app, which replaced the popular Google Maps, has some glaring flaws like eliminating landmarks and moving roads.

Cook said that the company was very sorry for the frustration that it caused its customers and he even went so far as to recommend 5 apps that might do as a replacement to Apple’s offering. Speaking of Apple the iPad 3 (not iPad Mini) rumors have started- stay tuned for a growing wave of them as others launch their latest tablets.

Google loses appeal on patent enforcement
Google has been barred from enforcing a German court ruling against Microsoft that would have led to the banning of select Microsoft products on Germany. The ruling came from the US Court of Appeals and it upheld a lower court decision that prevented Motorola from enforcing the ban.

Foss Patents appears to see this as a positive move in getting Google to start licensing its patents on a FRAND basis.

FCC OKs wireless auction
There may soon be more bandwidth available for wireless use as the Federal Communications Commission has given approval to the auction by television broadcasters of bandwidth that they no longer need.

The expected bidders will use the bandwidth to meet expanding cellular and wireless Internet usage. The FCC is still working out the details of the auctions, according to the New York Times.

Nokia signs mapping deal with Oracle
Nokia will now be providing mapping software to Oracle, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The deal is expected to be announced today at OracleWorld and will allow Oracle’s application users to integrate mapping capabilities.

Android and iOS market shares grow
Android and iOS grew market share during the summer according to a report from market analytics firm comScore. The study, which tracked the operating systems from May to July show that Android represents 52.2% of the US market while Apple’s iOS is now 33.4% of the market. It looks like the Apple win over Samsung might have had an impact as Samsung had stagnant growth, losing 0.3% of its hardware sales.

Apple vs Google- This Time for Kodak’s Patents

We here at Mobile Sports Report often talk about the issues related to patents, and all of the lawsuits that have resulted in the current turf wars. The reason is that it can and is having an impact on what types of technology your mobile devices can use and their cost.

The net result of this is the enhance the value of companies, and even ones that are fading away find that in their dusty vaults they might have some that are worth a mint, one such case being Eastman Kodak Co., which recently declared bankruptcy.

Now two groups are bidding for its 1,100 patents, and to the surprise of no one, they have members that have been some of the most aggressive in defending their patents against each other. In one corner we have Apple along with Microsoft, an earlier ally in patent purchasing, and Intellectual Ventures Management LLC, a patent aggregation firm.

In the other corner is Google, patent aggregation firm RPX Corp and three of Google’s Android smartphone hardware manufacturers, Samsung, HTC and LG Electronics according to a piece in the Wall Street Journal. It is reported that Kodak is seeking $2.6 bn for the patents.

While the Apple and Microsoft team paid $4.5 bn for Nortel patents some time ago, it is questionable if Kodak’s will go for any such sky high figure due to some disputes over the validity of some of its patents, yet the importance of owning patents seems to have never been more important in high tech.

The Apple vs Samsung lawsuit that opened in San Jose yesterday is an example of how potentially important the patents are as Apple is claiming billons in damages from Samsung infringing on its patents. There were dozens of articles on the start of the case yesterday and at least one paper was live blogging the case, starting with jury selection.

But there are plenty of other examples, the Oracle vs Google case that was at one time expected to bring billions to Oracle and Motorola winning some against Microsoft and potentially banning the Xbox and asking for sizable compensation is another case in point. All of these costs will get passed on to the consumers at some point.

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.