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Monday
Aug272012

Understanding Apple vs. Samsung

The Apple vs. Samsung trial continues to be a major topic of discussion on podcasts, blogs and forums. I followed the case fairly closely and feel I managed to grasp the various legal concepts and arguments presented throughout the trial. Because I invested the time and energy to try to understand the details of the case, I was not surprised by the jury's decision. I expected it. And to be quite frank, if an attempt is made to understand the legal issues involved, I honestly don't understand how any reasonable, logical person could disagree with the jury's decision. Contrary to the cries of some individuals that are decidedly pro-Samsung (or anti-Apple), the case was not as simple as "rounded corners" or "dark rectangles." The devil is in the details, as they say.

For anyone that desires a better understanding of why the jurors ruled the way they did, I recommend spending some time with the words of Nilay Patel. Nilay is a tech journalist and managing editor at The Verge. Nilay also happens to have a law degree from Wisconsin Law School and he is a member of the bar in Wisconsin and Illinois. Obviously, Nilay is well-qualified to address the Apple vs. Samsung trial, which he followed closely.

Following the jury's decision on Friday, Nilay posted this article at The Verge:

Apple decisively wins Samsung trial: what it means

I encourage all of my readers to click over and read the article.

Then, on Sunday, August 26, Nilay was a guest on the TWiT Network's This Week in Tech episode 368, hosted by Leo Laporte. I'm a fan of TWiT's lineup of shows and frequently listen to them during my walks. Whether your interest lies in Mac or Windows, iOS or Android, or a variety of other topics, the TWiT Network has a show for you.

I've embeded This Week in Tech episode 368 below. The episode is 2 hours and 15 minutes long. The coverage of the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit is only about 36 minutes long. As a tech geek, I found the entire show of interest. But if you are only interested in the Apple vs. Samsung discussion, it starts at approximately 9:30 and ends at about 45:30. A couple of key highlights during the discussion: "Willful Infringement" is discussed at 22:10, and the oft-mentioned "Grid of Icons" is discussed at about 40:15.

If you are remotely interested in better understanding some of the legalities at play during the trial, I urge you to watch the entire 36 minutes dealing with the lawsuit.

 

Sunday
Aug262012

Apple Shines, Samsung Whines!

The day after a San Jose jury awarded $1.049 billion in damages to Apple (Apple vs. Samsung), Dan Frakes, senior editor at MacWorld, posted the following tweet:

When the iPhone debuted, it was widely criticized for having no buttons/keys. Now people think the iPhone’s design is “obvious.”

Well said and spot on, Dan! Before the first iPhone ever shipped the web was filled with predictions that Apple would fail in the ultra-competitive mobile handset business. Let's look back at a few.

On December 23, 2006, before the iPhone was formally introduced to the world, The Register's Billy Ray boldly declared:

As customers start to realise that the competition offers better functionality at a lower price, by negotiating a better subsidy, [iPhone] sales will stagnate. After a year a new version will be launched, but it will lack the innovation of the first and quickly vanish.

It appears Ray's idea of "quickly" will be measured in decades, not months or years.

On January 12, 2007, Businessweek's Steven Wildstrom wrote:

The iPhone may challenge some Treo, Windows Mobile, and Symbian (mostly Nokia) products, but its hardly a threat to BlackBerry.

Fast-forward to 2012 and the iPhone is besting the BlackBerry in the workplace and RIM is struggling to stay alive!

On March 28, 2007, MarketWatch's John C. Dvorak opined:

These phones go in and out of style so fast that unless Apple has half a dozen variants in the pipeline, its phone, even if immediately successful, will be passé within 3 months.

With a grand total of more than 240 million iPhones sold worldwide and sales of each new iPhone model more than doubling the sales of the previous model, it appears Dvorak slightly missed the mark.

On April 30, 2007, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was interviewed by USA Today's David Lieberman. Ballmer's prediction:

There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.

Oops, Mr. Ballmer! The iPhone currently has 63% market share with AT&T and 54% market share with Verizon. When you factor in the popular iPad and look at web market share, Apple's iOS grabs an astounding 65%Interestingly, Android's web market share is a measily 1%! I wonder which platform web content creators are more likely to support?

And finally, on June 6, 2007, PC Magazine's Jim Louderback confidentally predicted:

It'll be mildly successful (like Apple's desktops and notebooks, which have a 5 percent market share), but not at the level of the RAZR or Nokia's popular phones. 

Let's see, Google bought Motorola Mobility and recently announced layoffs, while Nokia is also struggling to compete. Both are casualties of Apple's confidence it could build a better mousetrap. Other handset makers are stuggling as well. And, by the way, Apple's Mac OS U.S. market share is up significantly, more than double the 5% Louderback quoted.

Those predictions are just a sample. There are many more to be found around the web. But back to Dan Frake's tweet.

Dishonorable Samsung

Before the iPhone became a huge success, the very features that made it truly revolutionary were criticized and dismissed. During the iPhone's developement, none of those features were "obvious" to anyone other than the team at Apple charged with designing the device. But once the iPhone went on sale and became a sensation, other handset makers were caught with their slide-out keyboards heading for the scrapheap. It doesn't take much to imagine the sense of urgency—maybe even panic—that was felt in the boardrooms of competitors. An internal memo described a "crisis of design" at Samsung. Yet, court testimony revealed that Samsung spent just three months mimicking details of the iPhone's design. The San Jose jury found that Samsung was guilty of willfully violating Apple's patented designs and trade-dress on multiple models across the Samsung line. Worse, in addition to copying features of Apple's invention, Samsung had the gall to claim that some of the iPhone's features were so "obvious" they shouldn't be patentable.

If the features were so "obvious" to Samsung (or any other handset maker), why didn't they implement and patent them first?

No, it was Apple that gambled on revolutionizing the smartphone market. It was Apple that spent five years in development reinventing the wheel. It was Apple that spent millions of dollars bringing the dream to reality and legally patenting and protecting the technology. It was Apple that ignored the pre-2007 history of how mobile phones looked and functioned and designed something magical.

So, it is right and just that Apple's employees and shareholders are the ones to benefit and profit from Apple's vision and leadership. Most definitely not Samsung, or any other idea-copying Johnny-come-lately.

Saturday
Mar242012

iPad Wallpaper: The Rockies from 30,000 Feet

In my new iPad and iPhone 4S camera shootout article I included a stunning photo of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains.  The photo was taken by photographer Elliot Shev as he flew over the Rockies.  It's an impressive photo, especially when you consider that it was shot through the airplane's window.  The bonus, of course, is that it was taken with Apple's new iPad (third-generation).

A couple of readers wrote to ask if the photo could be made available in the new iPad's retina display resolution.  I'm pleased to report that Elliot has consented to allowing Mark's Hangout to host the photo for all to enjoy on their new iPads.  Click the image below to open the 2048 x 2048 version and then save the larger image.

Rockies from 30,000 Feet by Elliot Shev (used with permission)

Elliot's photo makes for a very nice background wallpaper.  In fact, it's the photo that I am currently using on my iPad!

 

It seems appropriate that the photo used as the new iPad's wallpaper background is a photo actually taken with a new iPad!  My thanks to Elliot for sharing his terrific image!

Tuesday
Mar202012

Apple Wins Coded Magnet Patent for iPad Smart Cover

Patently Apple reports that Apple has won the first coded magnet patent for iPad Smart Cover.

Apple has won their first coded magnet patent win today. Apple's invention generally relates to a system, method, and apparatus for releasably attaching the iPad smart cover accessory to an iPad. The iPad Smart Cover includes at least an accessory body and a magnetic assembly pivotally connected to the accessory body. The magnetic assembly includes at least a first plurality of magnetic elements arranged adjacent one another in a first relative size order along a first line and arranged according to a first polarity pattern of alternating magnetic polarities, and a second plurality of magnetic elements arranged adjacent to one another in a second relative size order along the first line and according to a second polarity pattern of alternating magnetic polarities.

This is quite interesting, especially considering my recent discovery that Apple's new iPad ("iPad 3") features a new type of sleep/wake sensor that requires a specific polarity.

Many, Many Magnets

iFixit performed a teardown on the Apple Smart Cover last year.  They discovered that the Smart Cover contained more than 20 magnets.  One of the magnets (circled in the photo below) is for triggering the iPad's sleep/wake sensor.  The remaining magnets are designed to allow the Smart Cover to quickly attach and properly align with the iPad.

Smart Cover and iPad 2 Magnet Locations - Right Side (Photo by iFixit)

Since Apple released the iPad 2 and Smart Cover, dozens of third-party manufacturers have introduced a variety of cases, folios and covers that utilize magnetic "Smart Cover" technology to one degree or another.  It remains to be seen how Apple's newly-awarded patent might impact the third-party iPad case market.

Tuesday
May102011

Older iOS Devices Outselling Newer Android Devices

John Paczkowski at All Things D posted an interesting article today.  It seems Apple's older iOS devices are outselling newer Android devices.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley says his retail checks show continued strong demand for the iPhone 3GS at AT&T and iPad 1 at Verizon, even as the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 continue to fly off the shelves. At AT&T, for example, the iPhone 3GS is outselling newer Android phones like the HTC Inspire and Motorola Atrix.

The article speculates that—just as Apple is already the winner at the high end of the market—they are poised to possibly be the winner at the low end of the market too.

Wednesday
May042011

Apple Releases iOS Update

Apple has released iOS version 4.3.3 for the GSM iPhone 4, GSM iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch (3rd & 4th generation), iPad and iPad 2.  In addition to bug fixes, the latest iOS version also changes the way the crowd-sourced location cache is handled: 

  • Reduces the size of the cache  
  • No longer backs the cache up to iTunes
  • Deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off

A separate iOS version 4.2.8 is also available for the CDMA iPhone 4.

Both updates are available through iTunes when you connect your iOS device and click Check for Update.

I have installed the update without issue.  Total time to install and sync my iPhone 4 was approximately 13 minutes.

 

Thursday
Apr282011

Most iPhone/Android Comparisons Flawed

In an article at The Loop, Jim Dalrymple argues that you can't compare the iPhone to Android.

Here is the first giant flaw — you may have noticed in the headline of this story. You cannot compare Android to an iPhone. That’s comparing an operating system to a hardware device.

The man has a point.  He correctly points out that you wouldn't compare a single model of Mercedes against all cars that GM makes.  The same is true for the iPhone/Android comparison.

Dalrymple points out that it is more appropriate to compare operating systems.

Now, let’s take a look at the operating systems in the U.S. According to reports released this month by comScore, if you factor in all of the devices that use iOS including iPhones, iPads and iPodtouches, Apple reached 37.9 million people. Android, according to the data, reached 23.8 million on phones and tablets.

That’s a 59 percent lead for iOS over Android.

Logical and true.

Monday
Apr252011

Apple Gets Sued (yes, again!)

Bloomberg is reporting that a lawsuit has been filed against Apple Inc. in Federal court claiming invasion of privacy and computer fraud over Apple's alleged recording of the movements of iPhone and iPad users.

The complaint cited a report last week by two computer programmers claiming that Apple’s iOS4 operating system is logging latitude-longitude coordinates along with the time a spot is visited. The programmers said Apple devices are collecting about a year’s worth of location data. Apple hasn’t commented on the matter since the April 20 report was released.

The attorneys for the two named plaintiffs, Vikram Ajjampur and William Devito, are apparently seeking class-action status for the lawsuit.

It is important to note that, so far, there has been no proof or demonstration that Apple is "collecting" any of this location data.  All that has been demonstrated is that the location data is stored on a user's iPhone or iPad and that the data gets copied to the user's computer when he or she syncs their iPhone or iPad for updates and backup.  Nowhere has anyone proven that a single bit of that data gets transmitted to Apple or to any other party.

Until such time as there is some form of proof that Apple is both collecting the location data to their servers and using that data in a manner that allows them to personally identify a specific user, then my opinion is this lawsuit is meritless and a waste of the court's time.

Sunday
Apr242011

BlackBerry PlayBook: No iPad Competitor

Galen Gruman at InfoWorld has reviewed the BlackBerry PlayBook, Research in Motion's new 7" tablet. In what might be the most negative product review I've ever read, Gruman doesn't pull any punches in his assessment of the device.

After spending a couple of days with the final product, it's clear that the PlayBook is a useless device whose development is unfinished.  Not only can it not compete with the Apple iPad, it can't compete with the second-best tablet, Motorola Xoom, nor even the marginal Android tablets such as the Galaxy Tab that use the smartphone version of Android OS rather than the Honeycomb tablet version. In fact, if my choice were between a PlayBook and a Windows 7 tablet -- my benchmark for unusability -- I think I'd rather go sans tablet.

Ouch!

But wait... like Android OS, the PlayBook supports Flash, so it has to be better than an iPad, right? Um, no!

On the bright side, the PlayBook supports Flash, with no need to download a player as on Android. But Flash objects are often slow to load, and some would not function. That's an issue Flash also has on Android, as my colleague Neil McAllister discovered in his extensive Flash tests. It's becoming increasingly clear to me that Flash and mobile don't mix.

Hmm, I seem to recall someone else saying that Flash and mobile don't mix. Who was that? Oh yeah, it was Apple CEO Steve Jobs in his April 10, 2010 open letter titled Thoughts on Flash.