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Applesauce: All Thing Apple – July 1, 2012

July 1, 2012
Image Credit: Photos.com

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

It´s the freakin´ weekend, baby! I´m about to have me some Applesauce.

Apple wins some and they lose some, even if they aren´t even present. The Cupertino Kids spent even more time in court this week, duking it out between 2 familiar Android partners. They also spent time in San Fran at Google´s I/O conference, yet nary an executive was seen. As is often the case, companies try their hardest to compete with Apple, and yet, they rarely come close. All this and a small sliver of rumors as a pleasing digestif.

“The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water”

One of these days. and I´m not sure when, Apple will no longer be engaged in so many legal battles. Yes, on that day, the world will join hands as the Android and the iPhone lie down together in peace. The sun will shine brighter, the grass will be greener and tablets will gently fall from an ever-present double rainbow. It will be a glorious day, indeed. For now, the streets are running red with the blood of Apple and its enemies. One mighty warrior, the courageous and valiant Judge Richard Posner – affectionately referred to as The Judge – has struck down Apple and their Midwestern opponent with one single, crushing blow with his sword of prejudice. (I´m sorry, I´m just trying to make these legal proceedings as interesting as I can.)

I´ve got to tell you, I like The Judge. This guy is a man after my own heart. If I found out he collected vinyl and once toured with Fleetwood Mac, I´d give him my undying devotion in a second. With a delicate-yet-effective blend of common sense and sarcasm, The Judge ritualistically stripped down both Apple and Motorola, calling their battles a silly thing. As for why he threw out the case the way he did, The Judge said, “It would be ridiculous to dismiss a suit for failure to prove damages and allow the plaintiff to refile the suit so that he could have a second chance to prove damages.”

As you may recall, Motorola wanted to sue Apple for using a FRAND patent which, in its nature, is available for anyone with the money to pay for a licensing fee to use. “By committing to license its patents on FRAND terms, Motorola committed to license the [patent] to anyone willing to pay a FRAND royalty“¦” said The Judge, his pen drawing blood from Motorola´s case. “How could it be permitted to enjoin Apple from using an invention that it contends Apple must use if it wants to make a cell phone with UMTS telecommunications capability – without which it would not be a cell phone.”

Sick burn, The Judge. Apple didn´t escape his scorn, though.

“Apple is claiming that Motorola´s phones as a whole ripped off the iPhone as a whole. But Motorola´s desire to sell products that compete with the iPhone is a separate harm – and a perfectly legal one – from any harm caused by patent infringement,” he wrote.

The Judge has righteously struck down any chance Apple or Motorola have of banning one another´s products from the marketplace. A move which, in the end, is better for consumers everywhere.

I haven´t used a Motorola device since the 2005 days when they had that satisfying brick of a flip phone. Of course, in those days, a group of 8 or so of my friends would also trade phones nearly once a month. One of my more masculine friends actually bought a Neiman Marcus branded Nokia phone which more closely resembled a tube of lipstick than a cellular device. (Try leading your Google to Nokia 7380) I digress“¦. Motorola phones are fine devices. They have the added benefit of not looking exactly like iPhones, which is more than we can say about other phones. Obviously I´m an Apple fan, but I also know that the world can´t be all Apple all the time. It´s just not healthy. So, yes, bring on some competition from the likes of Motorola. And please, stop the ridiculous lawsuits about the way phones connect to networks and act on text already!

“It´s just a flesh wound”

Speaking of phones that resemble other products, Samsung suffered a not-insignificant loss to Apple this week as a judge ordered the Korean company to stop selling their tablets in the US. It took a little persuading from Apple and a judge with more authority, but in the end, Judge Koh handed down her edict, saying Samsung´s tablets do, in fact, look a lot like Apple´s tablets.

“Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products,” said Koh in her ruling. “Flooding the Market,” on the other hand, seems a bit generous to me. After all, at last count, Samsung sold 12 million tablets LESS than Apple during the last quarter, and I doubt the scales have been drastically tipped since that time. There´s also the matter of Google´s little announcement on Wednesday, but more on that later. It will be interesting to see what Samsung does here. Sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 aren´t stellar, it´s looking a little long in the tooth, and now, it´s unavailable for sale in the US until the two companies wrap up their legal matters. (Koh also says she expects Apple to win, by the way.) Florian Mueller, blogger for FOSS Patents, told TG Daily, “At this stage of the lifecycle of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, it´s possible that Samsung decides to just take it from the market and focus on new product launches. But if it wanted to continue to sell it in the United States for some more time, it would simply redesign.” Redesign–like they did in Germany when a similar ban was placed on their 10.1 tab. After tweaking the bezel, Samsung released the 10.1N, which apparently was just different enough to appease a judge.

This just in: Judge Koh has also granted Apple an injunction against Samsung´s Galaxy Nexus smartphone´s as well. A well-placed Reuters reporter has sent out a Tweet from Koh´s courtroom, saying, “Judge Koh has GRANTED Apple request for prelim injunction against Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone.” Apple is being asked to pay a $2.6 million bond to protect Samsung damages in case the Tab 10.1 injunction is found to be wrong. In Friday evening´s decision, Judge Koh is asking Apple to pay a whopping $96 million bond to protect Samsung in the case of the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. All this right after Google´s big week in the sun, too. Shame.

“This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let´s not bicker and argue about who killed who“¦”

The same rules from last week apply here. If an Apple competitor releases something news worthy/ridiculous, it will be discussed here on Applesauce.

All eyes were on Google this week as they held their very own developer´s conference at Moscone West in San Francisco, CA. And to think, all they had to do to try and top Apple was jump from a blimp, perform some bicycle acrobatics on the roof, talk about Google Glass AGAIN and introduce a 7-inch Kindle Fire competitor, which they´ll sell with no markup. I don´t care how many cores the thing has, Apple is still winning. Unlike Microsoft, Google actually announced a product, a release date, a price and even let members of the press hold the thing. So far, Google has beaten the pants off Redmond, but will they beat Amazon or Apple?

Let´s ponder“¦ The Nexus 7 competes with the Kindle Fire on both price and size. They´re both Android tablets, and they´re both designed to deeply integrate their respective store´s offerings. One other similarity, they´re both sold either at cost or at a loss. Take Amazon. They´ve marked their Kindle Fire so low, they lose $50 on every unit sold. They didn´t get to be the Internet powerhouse they are today by making stupid decisions, however. The Fire, as you may know, is little more than a portable version of the Amazon store. A few of my friends have Fires and have told me, on more than one occasion, how easy it is to buy an e-book, an album or anything else from the Amazon store, often with that damnable 1-click purchase button. (In truth, I love the 1-click purchase button. I especially love it when I´ve had a few“¦) It´s easy to see Amazon´s angle here. The Fire is a way to bring the Amazon store right into your house. If enough people buy them, Amazon could make up for their losses, but this has all been discussed at length.

Google, it could be argued, has less to sell but much more to buy, as it were. They are, at their core, an ad and search company. With the entire Google suite baked right in, Google will not only be able to sell plenty of your information, they´ll also be able to study you and understand you on a deeper level.

“But Apple does the same thing!” you might be muttering to your screen. It´s true, Apple, like every other smartphone and tablet manufacturer, compiles data to improve user experience. But there´s also this little gem that´s been largely “buttered” over (get it?!) from the first day at the I/O conference: Google Now. Is it a Siri competitor? Is it a catch-all net for your search histories and other information? Is it slightly creepy?

Does Google have a sweet tooth?

Google Now allows you to search everyday information, such as traffic, sports and weather as well as your personal calendar. It then stores these searches away on a card. So, if you were to ask Google now when your flight to Wisconsin (The dairy capital of the US!) is scheduled to take off, it would display this information on a card, then store it away in your notifications center. BUT! What if, once you got to their airport, you heard there was a terrible butter shortage in the Badger State and, as such, many of the dock workers were revolting, causing several delays. As you pull out your Jelly Bean enabled phone, you notice that this card is already pulled up on the screen, displaying new information for you. This is incredibly handy and really really helpful. The slightly creepy part, however, is it knows all of your searches. While Google Now will remind you of your appointments, who they are with, and what the traffic looks like as you head across town, it also knows everything you´ve searched for. It knows. Now, what will Google do with this information?

Of course, we don´t know yet exactly how this will work. Apple´s Passbook, it should be mentioned, looks as if it will work in a similar way, in that it will pull up your boarding ticket or Starbucks card for you whenever you step foot in these locations. (But what if there´s a Starbucks INSIDE an airport?) However, Passbook might wait for you to call up the app, rather than pop up instantly like a needy puppy who´s been waiting for you to play all day. Therein lies the fine line: Google Now appears incredibly helpful IF it knows its boundaries. As intelligent personal assistants go, Siri excels in that she waits for me to ask for her help, sitting at her desk, ever diligent, ready to go to work at my beck and call. Well, that is, when she isn´t out at the bar.

Google Now, it seems, won´t understand its boundaries, and will opt instead to put in some overtime, working 24/7 for you. Were it anyone other than Google – or Facebook, for that matter – it´s likely I wouldn´t be so cautious. But, Google does have a creepy streak as long as your Uncle Robert´s stare, and Google Now looks like it could simply be the first step to Google ads in your pocket.

“You´ve got a tee-time with your boss today in an hour. With traffic, it will take you 45 minutes to get there. Why not stop by the Dairy Palace on your way for some delicious frozen dairy treats? Mention this ad and get 15% off!”

I´ll wrap with this: Google´s sweet-toothed naming convention is often an easy target for those who aren´t card-carrying members of the Android faithful. Honestly, I don´t get it. I´d rather my electronics have their own names rather than remind me of food. To be fair, I also think the “i” naming convention is pretty silly as well. My favorite part of Wednesday´s Google I/O announcement was their non-admission admission of their lagginess. And, of course, they had to name it after some sort of food. Nothing like a butter flavored jelly bean, right? I understand that “declaring war” on lagginess is much better than saying, “Yeah, our phones are pretty slow. We´re sorry“¦” but couldn´t they have just made the phones run smoother rather than giving it a name, then declaring war? Look, I´m happy they´re doing it. It makes the battle of the mobile OSes look a little more balanced. Just seems silly to me to not only acknowledge one of your top three weaknesses, assign it a name, and then include it in your presentation, although I´m sure there were plenty of people – who know more than me – who were excited that Google went out of their way to acknowledge, address, and name their problem. Either way, problem addressed, problem (hopefully) solved. And there was much rejoicing.

“What manner of man are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?”

The team at 9to5Mac.com have been all over the rumor game this year. I´m sure they´ve been guessing at an accuracy rate similar to everyone else. One of their rumors of the week was a nice tidbit about Apple´s entrance into the NFC space with Passbook. The new app was shown off to us at this year´s WWDC, then thoroughly discussed afterward on sites such as this. Passbook seemed to be Apple´s own non-admission admission about a new feature in the next iPhone. This feature, by the way, has been rumored for quite some time now. NFC is one of those great ideas that has yet to gain any real traction in any real market. Google and some of their partners have been implementing and using it, but as of now, it´s still very niche. If Apple suddenly made it available to millions of iPhone users, however, this technology might finally get the kind of traction it´s been looking for. According to 9 to 5 Mac, Apple will do this very thing as they implement NFC into the next version of their iPhone. In addition to revolutionizing the way we make payments, NFC can also allow for the transfer of data from one device to another within a close proximity.

This sounds relatively boring until you consider the rumors of Apple´s iTunes redesign, complete with the ability to share tracks with other listeners. Pure conjecture, sure, but will the new iPhone also allow users the ability to share favorite tracks or playlists with one another? There would have to be several discussions and agreements made behind some very expensive and heavy doors for this kind of functionality, but it could be very cool indeed. The better consideration, of course, is if Apple thinks this kind of feature would be worth their time.


Source: Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online