Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Google I/O This Week

Google’s Goggle I/O show is this week so expect to hear an onslaught of news from the company and its partners on all things related to Android, smartphones, tablets, Chrome and most likely a host of other issues that they are concerned with.

The show will be held from June 27 to June 29 at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center and most of the keynote sessions will be live streamed for those of you that are interested but don’t want to endure the cold of an SF summer. (editor’s note: 75 degrees here today, Oregon boy.)

One message I would like to hear is how it will deal with the growing fragmentation of its Android operating system. It seems that most of the major manufacturers are only now coming on board with Ice Cream Sandwich, and a new OS is expected this week.

The issue is important for a number of reasons but a major one is that continued fragmentation could lead to developers only focusing on Apple’s iOS and even Windows 8 when that OS is available.

Intel invests in touchscreen developer
Intel Capital was the lead investor in a EUR20 million investment funding round for touchscreen technology developer FlatFrog Laboratories. Invus was also an investor in the round. FlatFrog is developing technology that tracks light traveling inside the cover glass of a screen.

Apple dealt a setback in battle with Motorola
Judge Richard Posner, who is presiding over one of the major patent disputes between Apple and Motorola, has ruled that Apple cannot pursue an injunction against Motorola and has dismissed the case with prejudice.

Posner had previously indicated that this was the direction he was leaning in but relented to allow testimony from both sides of the case last week. Apple does have the option to appeal his ruling.

Apple moving ahead in Samsung patent suit

While losing an important round to Motorola, Apple is continuing to push ahead with its Samsung lawsuit and will have its request to have a court order blocking sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 heard this week.

The judge in the case has also said that she hopes to rule on Apple’s bid to block sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone at the June 29th hearing.

Microsoft says no to Motorola patent proposal payout
Microsoft has declined to accept the offer that Motorola made that would settle the patent dispute between the two companies that has threatened Microsoft’s ability to ship Xbox 360 consoles into the US and would bar some Android phones from Motorola as well.

Motorola was offering to pay 33 cents per phone that uses Microsoft’s ActiveSync software and wants Microsoft to pay it 50 cents for each device that uses Microsoft’s Windows operating system that uses Motorola’s industry standard video compression patent.

Mobile Carriers agree to alert travelers on roaming charges
Have you ever traveled in a foreign country and used your smartphone and had a slight heart attack when you got your bill at home with the huge roaming charges attached? Now carriers are going to do something about that.

What they are doing is to send you a message alerting you to the fact that your data plan has changed and new rates will apply. Among the 24 that have signed on are AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom-Orange, Hutchison 3 Group, SoftBank Mobile Corp., Verizon Communications, America Movil, and Vodafone Group.

Apple fined over 4G claims
An Australian court has fined Apple $2.27 million over its claims for its iPad that included unsupported promises of 4G support. After the charges were brought Apple changed its advertising and offered refunds. Apple now touts the device as WiFi+ Cellular.

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.

Friday Grab Bag: Harvard Bass Fishing?

MLB has teamed with Kinect Star Wars to present what it calls the “Ultimate Father-Son Sweepstake” in which participants can win a variety of prizes including a grand prize that includes 2 tickets to any 2012 MLB game and 2012 Opening Day game of their choice and a $200 MLB gift certificate.

What strikes me as odd is that of course in Star Wars the father spends the bulk of three movies trying to kill his son (and daughter) and is only reconciled on his deathbed. Not quite the message you might want to send.

App helps you see what apps are stealing your info
With all of the news about how insecure some apps are, and that they harvest data from your smartphone, tablet or elsewhere, the question is how do you find out which are secure and which are not?

Well one company, research firm PrivacyChoice has a program called Privacyscore for Facebook that it claims will explain which are and which are not to be trusted. The program explains the degree to which your information is protected, if you are being tracked and if so by whom.

It looks at each app and examines the privacy policy, and notes that some basically have none whatsoever, and provides a rated listing. The program is endorsed by the FCC.

NHL jumps of PrePlay bandwagon
So PrePlay, the app developer that lets you make micro-bets on any individual event during a sporting event has extended its reach and now covers the National Hockey League games. The goal of this and other predictive games is to engage users with fans around them or online where they challenge each other to predict the outcome, in this case maybe the final score or who wins a faceoff.

The company had a Subway sponsored Super Bowl push but that did not have the blessing from the NFL while this does have the NHL’s approval. The app, which is available at iTunes, will compete with others such as GrabFan that seek to establish themselves in this area.

Apple’s latest iPad has connectivity woes?
After the iPad overheating issue cooled it now appears that the very popular tablet may have connectivity issues. According to a report in Macworld it has a range of Wi-Fi issues that are annoying users.

It appears that the device has problems finding local Wi-Fi networks, drops connections and has slow upload and download speeds, among other issues. And that is just the Wi-Fi, for people that paid for cellular connectivity it apparently also has issues with connecting to 3G networks.

Harvard has a bass fishing team?
For that matter I was surprised that there is fishing tournaments in college-man did I go to the wrong school! This nice read from the Harvard Crimson talks about the challenges of forming a fishing team in an area, and at a school, that does not have a tradition of bass boats.

The overall sport is run by the Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA) that currently has 30,000 members across 47 states. I wonder who the holdout states are? The ACA holds tournaments, offers discounts and provides a host of other amenities.

Ice Core Beer Pitcher
With summer looming we owe it to ourselves to ensure that we have the best tools available to enjoy the outdoors. One such tool, perfect for BBQs, is this simply device that is designed to keep beer ice cold without watering it down.

Using a center core made from aluminum a user simply fills the core with ice and attaches it to the center of the pitcher, which holds 60 oz. In a pinch you could fill it with ice tea or soda, I guess.

Microsoft loses Motorola patent case
The ITC has ruled that Microsoft did infringe on patents that are held by Motorola Mobility. The issue has to do with patents that relate to wireless connections and video compression that is incorporated in Microsoft’s popular Xbox game console.

The ruling found that Microsoft infringed on four of the five patents in dispute. It will have an opportunity to respond to the court’s ruling next month and if the comments from Microsoft are any indication expect more action on this front, not less.

And Motorola beats Apple as well
The ITC also handed Motorola a victory in one of its cases against Apple, this time ruling that Apple was guilty of infringing on a 3G wireless patent that is owned by Motorola. In addition the court found that Apple induced others to do the same.

The ruling comes on a lawsuit filed in 2010 and initially covered 5 patents but as the case progressed the case was whittled down to one. There is still a lot to be seen in this case as much of the determination is still classified but Apple appears confident that it can develop a work around to the issue, either via an alliance with partners that have rights to the technology or by developing alternatives itself.

Are Facebook and Microsoft Teaming up Against Google?

Yesterday Microsoft sold $550 million worth of patents to Facebook. The deal is somewhat surprising since just days earlier Microsoft had spent $1 billion on those and other patents when it purchased them from AOL.

Why not let Facebook simply purchase them from AOL itself? As Facebook’s $1.1 billion purchase of Instagram showed the company does not lack the resources to go out and quickly make a high dollar deal.

Well the devil is in the details and it looks like the two giants are looking to use this deal to help immunize themselves from at least a portion of the patent lawsuit virus that seems to be plaguing hi tech these days.

Facebook gets approximately 645 of the 925 AOL patents that Microsoft acquired, but it also gets a license to the rest of the patents that Microsoft owns and Microsoft has a license to use the patents that it just sold to Facebook.

Microsoft said that this enables it to recoup half of the cost of the deal will still achieving its goal of having unfettered access to the AOL patents. However the New York Times, among others, positions the deal as a tool that will also help the two against Google.

Google increasingly competes with both companies with everything from Google Plus to free apps. With its purchase of Motorola Mobility it will have a significantly enhanced patent portfolio as well. It really looks like the conflict between the Microsoft/Facebook alliance against Google could get heated.

Friday Grab Bag: Global Signs 5 More NFL Teams to iPad Program

Velocomp’s iBike
Coach App has won the Communication Arts Magazine’s 18th Annual Interactive Award in the Information Design category. The app enables an iPhone user to convert the phone into a multifunctional training tool.

The phone becomes a GPS-based bike computer that enables a user to not only track cycling speed, distance, and time, but also includes social media features, videos, and maps, as well as access to music and the phone capabilities of the device.

The app was only just released and was a winner in a contest that drew a total of 1,194 entries. It is available for download at the Apple iTunes store.

Apple develops new SIM — will others support it?
Apple has proposed a new SIM card technology for adoption by the mobile industry but it will be interesting to see how, if at all, the mobile industry adopts a technology that would push out their competing efforts

The new technology is called a nano-SIM and is smaller than the micro-SIMs that is common in current cell phones. This one will have increased functionality as well as the tradition job of holding a users personal information such as contacts and phone number.

That sounds great until you consider that Motorola Mobility, Nokia and Research in Motion all have rival efforts. However Apple has presented it to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to get accepted as a standard and has some carrier support. It will be interesting to watch this fight.

Toshiba provides peek at 13-inch tablet
Toshiba has provided a peak at its next generation large screen tablet, and yes it will be large with a 13.3-inch form factor. The prototype, going by the name AT330 has an Nvidia Tegra quad core processor, 32GB of storage, a full sized SIM card slot and it has an HDMI connector. It may have a high end 1920 x 1200 LCD panel but that is unsure at this time.

Facebook bolsters patent defense with IBM patent purchase

Bloomberg is reporting that Facebook has purchased 750 patents in areas such as networking from IBM as part of an effort to strengthen its position in its looming case with Yahoo. Yahoo has sued Facebook over the alleged misappropriation of Yahoo patents by the social media giant.

NFL use of iPad continues to grow
Global Apptitude has added five NFL franchises to its list of customers for its Playbook for iPad technology. The company has announced that the Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, and Detroit Lions for their Playbook for iPad and other related player development tools.

Global is adding content to its Playbook series which are designed to be used as player preparation tools and said it expects to sign additional teams in the near future.

The iPad has also been a hit with other major league sports teams including most recently Major League Baseball, with team executives, players and scouts all using the tablet for a variety of reasons.

Ads a threat to your data?
A report from North Carolina State University casts additional concern about the security of the data stored in your Android phone. Researchers at the school have found that adverts, those annoying in game or application apps that are often the price to pay for free apps. They found that one example, MobClix, a 3rd party ad exchange company gains access to calendaring, contacts and call logs. These programs get permission when you provide permission to their host app.

Ematic delivers sports focused MPS/Video player
Ematic has delivered the eSport Clip, a small formfactor portanble media player that is designed for the active lifestyle. The eSports Clip features a 4GB of storage and has the ability to play MP3 files ad well as play back video.

The 1.8-inch device easily clips to clothing and it can store as much as 3200 songs or 20 hours of video for playback on its color display. It includes a 5MP Digital Camera and comes with a video and voice recorder.

China delays Motorola/Google deal approval
Motorola Mobility has reported that China has extended its examination of the proposed $12.5 billion purchase of the company by Google. It reported in a regulatory filing that China’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau has expanded the second phase of its investigation.

This is one of the last regulatory approvals needed for the deal to be finalized, with it having already gained approval around the globe including in the United States and in Europe. There has been no reason given for the extension of the investigation.

Are Kindle sales falling?
Chad Bartley, an analyst with Pacific Crest has said that the company believes that sales of Amazon’s Kindle “is significantly weaker than expected” in the first quarter. He reported that Amazon has slashed component orders by 75% from levels in January.

He attributed the decline to slower adoption as well as market cannibalization caused by the Kindle Fire. The Kindle family is the second most popular tablet, after Apple’s iPad.

Apple loses Android info motion
Judge Richard Posner has denied Apple’s request to have Google and Motorola Mobility hand over information on the development of Android.

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.