May 5, 2012

Applesauce: All Things Apple

Michael Harper for

It´s been an interesting week for Apple“¦one of those weeks where accusations and claims are coming from every angle and yet, the company moves forward, confident in their conquests, both in the past and yet to come. Their best frenemies, Samsung, spent a lot of time in Apple´s headlines this week, first as 2 separate reports showed Samsung has larger numbers than Apple. What these numbers mean, however, is a completely different story. Then, a judge once again ordered the two tech titans to narrow down the list of complaints they have about one another, so as to save the jury from stabbing themselves in the eye with a pencil just to stave off the boring tedium. A day later, Samsung announced their new flagship phone with what might be the first real Siri competitor. With the world waiting for this new phone, it´s no surprise we all immediately blamed Samsung for that ridiculous “wake up” stunt at the end of last week. Imagine RIM´s embarrassment when they realized we had all but forgotten they were still around. Not enough excitement for you? A “veteran wireless industry specialist” has said Apple will begin acting as their own carrier, a move which sounds like something Apple would love to do, but is it a good idea? Finally, we may be 1 month to 5 months away from a new iPhone, and rumors are starting to roll in. We´ll take a look at those as well because, well, that´s half the fun of waiting for a new iPhone! Kick up your feet, friends. Enjoy your Applesauce.

Tough Guy

There´s the old saying that in order for good to exist, evil must exist also“¦or something like that. I think it may be less of a colloquialism and more of a line from Batman.

Either way, the spirit remains true“¦sometimes, two factions constantly at war with one another may be living in a state of symbiosis rather than animosity. Take, for instance, Apple and Samsung. Samsung makes the chips and components for Apple´s iPads, iPhones and Macs. They are also one of Apple´s largest competitors, shipping more units internationally, depending on who you ask. Of course, Samsung is a multi-headed company and the branch that makes the chips for Apple is much different from the branch that makes all of the Galaxy Nexus S Note Dingus phones, further complicating the matter.

Apple, on the other hand, has worked hard to create beautiful, iconic devices, and when people easily confuse the real thing for a cheap Korean knock-off, it´s time for Apple to step up and protect their property.

This is where the entire battle began, just over a year ago, when Apple filed a suit against Samsung for copying the “look and feel” of the iPad and iPhone.

In the time between the initial lawsuit and now, Apple and Samsung have each done their fair share of finger-pointing and name calling. You know, like big boy companies do. On Wednesday, Judge Lucy Koh ordered the two companies to boil their complaints down into something easily palatable for the sake of the poor jury, who will have the unenviable task of listening to a combined 50 hours or litigation about patents, trade dress and other mundane tedium.

This isn´t the first time Judge Koh has asked the two companies to do this, either. So what did the companies come up with?

16 patent claims, 6 trademarks, 5 “trade dress” claims and 1 antitrust case. A total of 37 different products will be discussed during these proceedings.

Koh was none too pleased and told the two companies they have until Monday to do a better job.

I don´t know about you, but this story reminds me of trying to get away with as little work as I could when my mom asked me to clean my room, asking her several times if it was finally clean enough.

I should call my mom sometime“¦

The case is supposed to begin in July, but unless Apple and Samsung can get the complaints down, the court date might be pushed back until 2014.

Of interesting note, Apple has asked the court to obscure any Samsung logo on court TVs and monitors so as not to make the court appear sympathetic to the Korean company. Apple also doesn´t want any quotes from Walter Issacson´s Steve Jobs biography, for good reason.

Samsung, on the other hand, has asked the court to exclude any report or evidence from the peanut gallery, or as we like to call it, “The internet.” I wonder why“¦

Get it Together

Then there´s the issue of “shipped” versus “sold.”

Early in the week, two separate reports were released showing Samsung had higher numbers than Apple.

Take the International Data Corporation (IDC) for example. They reported Samsung as having shipped 42.2 million smartphones globally during the last quarter.

This number is impressive. After all, during the same quarter last year, Samsung only shipped 11.7 million smartphones, so they had quite the growth spurt.

Not to be outdone, UK-based Juniper Research released a report which said Samsung actually shipped 46.9 million phones, nearly 5 million more than what IDC predicted.

But how could these 2 companies come up with 2 very different numbers about Samsung´s performance?

Keep in mind, these numbers aren´t official Samsungian numbers. These are numbers from outside data and research companies.

Perhaps what makes these numbers so different is the fact that these companies are counting the number of phones shipped, not sold. It´s just as likely that Samsung was able to get carriers and phone resellers to place huge orders in a moment of reckless ambition as it is that these phones are now sitting in a back room somewhere, just waiting to be held and stroked.

And this is just another way in which Apple´s clean and honest approach makes things all the better. Apple released their financial reports last week during a quarterly earnings call. The official word from Cupertino is that 35.1 million phones were sold last quarter.

Not shipped. Sold. Happy phones with happy customers. Apple has these numbers handy and knows them well. If we are to use the number of “shipped” phones, then we can assume that Samsung has taken the lead in terms of global marketshare. However, if there are actually less than 35.1 million phones in happy little hands, then we all know who the real winner is.


Ever get the feeling that Apple would prefer to not have the carriers as the middle-men between their devices and your hands?

Granted, Apple has been able to force the carriers into doing some pretty unprecedented things, such as keeping their names and their bloat-ware from the pristine iPhone. But in a more perfect world, Apple would probably prefer having complete control of the entire experience.

This week, an old rumor came back into the limelight as the Boy Genius Report released a story about Apple turning carrier later this year.

According to Whitey Bluestein, veteran wireless industry strategist extraordinaire, Apple already has many of the elements to run a successful carrier in place: The distribution channels, the patents and most importantly, the customers. Those sweet, sweet customers have already chosen to relinquish their credit card information to Apple. So, in theory, paying your monthly bill could be just as easy as buying an app.

This rumor started back before the iPhone was ever released as Apple applied for a patent for “Dynamic Carrier Selection,” giving Apple the ability to work in tandem with existing networks. An iPhone (or presumably iPad) user would be able to use their device on the cheapest, strongest network, depending on their location.

Such plans were seen as quite bold when Apple applied for the patents. Of course, that was before they had the blockbuster hit they have in the iPhone. In 2010, Apple revisited these plans, extending the filings and sending those in the industry to wonder when they will pounce. Mr. Bluestein says such a move would catch Google completely off-guard, though Apple may have to take some losses early, seeing as they will have to offer the same subsidiaries carriers like AT&T and Verizon are paying now.

So What´cha Want?

Speaking of iPhone rumors, the blogosphere was a´buzz this week after the Business Insider decided to dig deep into this whole “LiquidMetal” ordeal and get a solid answer from the source.

Except, they didn´t go directly to the source, they went to Atakan Peker. To his credit, Peker is one of the co-inventors of the super-metal alloy which is said to be strong and smooth like glass, yet light and moldable like plastic. However, Peker hasn´t worked for the company since 2007, three years before Apple bought the exclusive rights to use LiquidMetal in their products.

Peker probably knows a good deal about how the stuff works and how it can be applied, but it´s not very likely he has any specific information about how the alloy will be used by the Cupertino company.

Steve may be gone, but there´s no evidence of Apple relenting on their strict policy of secrecy.

I´m sure Peker is a great guy and a smart guy. As such, he would know better than to divulge information such as how much money Apple is investing in the metal and when they plan to roll it out if he actually had knowledge of the deal.

He especially wouldn´t make any mention of “a breakthrough product,” one that would “bring an innovative user interface and industrial design together.”

What we know of LiquidMetal and its use in iPhones has been disclosed in public filings. Past that, we don´t really know.

But, news is news, and Apple iPhone links are click-worthy. Therefore, Peker says, “Don´t count on it,” and headlines are born.

In other rumor news, everything “i” blog reported this week the new iPhone will be thinner and longer than the 4 and 4S.

You may remember a previous rumor about the use of in-cell touch technology to slim down the form factor of the device.

According to iLounge, Apple will use this new technology to flatten the device, then stretch it to finally bring the 4-inch treatment that so many people have been clamoring for.

iLounge also claims the new phone will be made of Corning Gorilla Glass 2, a material said to be a full 20% stronger than its predecessor. All welcome news, though the 4-inch screen could cause some fragmentation and controversy, as Apple would have to change the aspect ratio of the screen for the first time, and developers would have to make sure their apps worked on two different screen sizes. Additionally, iLounge says Apple will finally get around to changing their dock connector from the ubiquitous 30-pin to something more “pill-shaped” and smaller.

Such a connector could help the phone get thinner, but it would also force third-party folks to create and ship new connectors.

In the coming week, will Apple and Samsung finally get around to parsing their lists of complaints? Will Nokia follow suit and flash-mob protest Google, asking them to “Go away?” Will other, more witty writers still rely on old tricks, such as the rule of three? If so, you can be sure to read about them here, on!