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Aug 31
Greg's Bite:AT&T/T-Mobile deal off?

By Greg Mills

The US Government has the authority to prevent mergers when anti-trust laws kick in. There is a lot of discretion at the Justice Department, and sometimes the government could step in but does not do so. Other times, they stop mergers as being "anti-competitive." The AT&T merger with T-Mobile may be a situation where they think competition is best served by not allowing the biggest network to absorb the fourth largest network. The third largest network, Sprint, has been loudly screaming "monopoly" and working the political system to stop the merger.

The motivation behind the proposed merger is largely the cost of going national with a 4G LTE network would be reduced for AT&T if they could count T-Mobile's customers and network as theirs. AT&T is spending a lot of money building out a 4G network and having the advantage of combining the existing network of T-Mobile would give them an edge against Verizon.

The T-Mobile...

| Read more »
Aug 31
Can Apple 'kill' cable, satellite TV?...

Mike Elgan, writing for "Computerworld" (http://www.computerworld.com/), thinks that Apple's next goal is to "kill" the cable and satellite companies.

I think that may be a little optimistic, but if Apple were to give those companies a run for their money, it would certainly be perceived as a major feather in new CEO Tim Cook's cap. I say "perceived" because the plans for such action have probably been underway for some time -- if Elgan is right, and I think he is.

Apple has conquered the music, phone and tablet markets. It's working on the ebook and e-magazine markets. That leaves one big, bad content experience to replace, and the "elephant in the room is television," writes Elgan. "For the past few years, Apple's 'hobby' has been solving the TV and home video content consumption problem," he writes. "Now, it looks like Apple may turn pro."

Considering reports from the "Wall...

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Aug 30
Apple patents involve Time Machine, app building, more

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 8010937 is for an user interface for electronic backup (think Time Machine). A method includes receiving, a first user input requesting that a backup interface be displayed, displaying the backup interface, the backup interface including a display area for presenting at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of a current view and a visual representation of the current view, the earlier version including a first element, receiving, while the backup interface is displayed, a second user input requesting that the current view be modified according to the earlier version, at least with regard to the first element, animating the modification of the first element as moving from the visual representation of the earlier version to the visual representation of the current view, and modifying, in response to the second user...

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Aug 30
Who could replace Jonathan Ive?

The big discussion of late concerns whether Tim Cook can adequately fill the shoes of Steve Jobs as Apple's CEO. But an equally valid question is: who will fill the shoes of Jonathan Ive, Apple's design guru, when he moves on.

Hopefully, that will be a long, long way down the road. Ives is relatively young -- he was born in 1967 -- and, as far as I know, in fine health. Which is good, as he's been just as important as Jobs in developing Apple's incredible, industry-changing product designs.

Ive, Apple's senior vice president of Industrial Design, has led Apple's design team since the mid-1990s. Six of his designs are part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

"Products have to be designed better now for people to buy them because of Jony Ive and Steve Jobs," says Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the museum. "All of a sudden people have gotten used to elegance and beauty, and there's no going back."

... | Read more »
Aug 29
Greg's Bite; Google, do no evil?

By Greg Mills

Google has famously chosen the mantra, "Google will do no evil." Recently, in a number of situations that mantra has been tested where, if not evil, questionable things have been done by Google. While certainly, the executive staff at Google has been generous in giving money to worthwhile charities, the ethics of some Google business practices have recently been the subject of lawsuits.

Google has, just in the last few weeks, been caught with their collective pants down in the discovery phase of a lawsuit. The top end of management at Google discussed, in writing, intentionally, using Oracle's Java code without a license to create the Android OS. When you virtually print your own money with a multi-billion dollar a year advertising company, trying to cheat Oracle by using its Java code without a license is a pretty lame thing to do.

Further, they rewrote some of the code to try to mask the fact that they were using aspects of...

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Aug 29
Boomers ready to leap into smartphone market

Relatively good news for Apple and the iPhone: a new study conducted by Consumer Cellular (http://www.consumercellular.com), the exclusive wireless provider for AARP members, and industry thought-leader Bob Chapin of Flying Coyotes, a telecommunications research firm, reports that Boomer adoption of feature-rich mobile devices continues to increase as those 50-plus look for ways to better connect with friends and family.

The survey, completed by 2,037 U.S. cellphone users ages 40-plus, focused on their interest in and opinions of smartphones and how they do or would use them to enhance their lifestyles.

Of those who responded, 60% of non-smartphone users say they are considering or plan to buy a smartphone, while 87% of current smartphone owners report they are likely or extremely likely to purchase another smartphone. The Android operating system is the leader among current...

| Read more »
Aug 26
Greg's Bite: Odd tech developments of the day

By Greg Mills

With the implosion of HP and perhaps the beginning of the end of that storied company and the resignation of Steve Jobs, tech writers have had their hands full lately. There are other interesting developments in the news that ought to be mentioned.

RIM, never able to focus on what is important is struggling to launch a music service for PlayBook. When I think RIM and PlayBook, business usage comes to mind. The focus at RIM hasn't been in the right place from before the PlayBook was launched. PlayBook is dead but still on life support by RIM management that missed their chance to actually fill a business need that Apple is now filling. RIM is in decline and Apple is moving in.

That RIM would launch a "business" tablet that wouldn't run on a cellular connection without tethering to a BlackBerry is one of the likely reasons the Marketing VP at RIM resigned shortly before PlayBook was launched. That lack of connection ability alone,...

| Read more »
Aug 26
Final Cut Pro X part of Apple's arrogance problem

It's fair to say that Final Cut Pro X has been the most controversial product Apple has released in some time. Most video pros are lambasting Apple over the product, and, to some extent, Apple deserves it.

Though there are plenty of things to like about Final Cut Pro X, there are also just as many things not to like about it. You can't import work -- at least not easily -- from previous versions of Final Cut Pro. Some beloved preferences, settings, export options and multiple-monitor support are gone, at least temporarily. It can't output to tape. Etc. Etc.

This is indicative of one of Apple's biggest problems: arrogance. The company takes a "my way or the highway" approach that sometimes burns users. (Note to iWeb users: be looking for a replacement product ASAP.) Not surprisingly, users are fighting back.

There's an online petition stating that "Final Cut Pro X is not a professional application" (...

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Aug 25
Apple eyes ways to make it easier to repair electronic...

A new Apple patent (number 20110208993) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is eyeing ways to make it easier to replace its products.

The patent is for systems and methods for diagnosing and fixing electronic devices -- and reducing the time and cost of doing so. Per the patent, a host electronic device may be configured to generate a log of events that it experiences. A help component may access the generated log and analyze the log to detect if the host device has experienced a problem. Data may then be exchanged between the help component and the host device in order to fix the detected problem. The inventors are Svetlana Samoilova, Wing Law and Andrew Bart Hodge.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "When an electronic device (e.g., a media player or a portable telephone) becomes corrupted (e.g., when a device's hardware, software, or stored data fails to function properly), a user is usually unable to determine, let...

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Aug 25
Apple patent hints at glasses for private viewing

A new Apple patent (number 2011010206285) for "obfuscating the display of information and removing the obfuscation using a filter" shows that Apple is considering glasses that would offer private viewing, most likely on an iOS device, but perhaps also on a Mac laptop.

The patent is directed to obfuscating a display to secure the display of information provided to a user. An electronic device can modulate the display of information using different approaches, including for example by adding artifacts or changing the color, frequency or polarity of displayed information, thus obfuscating the display. To view the displayed information, a user can place a filter between the user and the display (e.g., as part of glasses) such that the filter can remove or undo the obfuscation.

In some embodiments, the device can display different confidential information for several users simultaneously, where different obfuscation approaches are used for each user. This can allow...

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Aug 25
Greg's Bite: Steve Jobs' Creativity

By Greg Mills

We all knew Mr. Jobs is fighting cancer or the aftermath of it. Despite knowing he was on medical leave, it was very reassuring that he popped up at product releases to a thundering applause. Turning over the reins to Apple when there are still unreleased new products in the cue, that need refining, must be the hardest part of his work at Apple for him to relinquish. Steve Jobs is a compulsive perfectionist and he demanded a level of elegance unseen in so many products.

Demanding the impossible and forcing Apple engineers to find a way to do it was his strong suit. Being named as an inventor in numerous patents is only the tip of the iceberg of his creativity. Thinner, faster, smoother, more intuitive, fewer steps to operate, simpler, logical, cheaper to manufacture and fitting into an overall plan were the things Steve looks at in new product development.

The logic of Apple software icons and button placement alone is a...

| Read more »
Aug 25
Apple HDTVs? LCD screens or OLED displays?

Speculation that Apple will partner with LG to unveil its own line of HDTVs for 2012 were debunked this week by LG Display CEO Kwon Young-Soo, reports "OLED-Display" (http://macte.ch/Twa7U). The CEO says Apple is "still pessimistic about using OLED displays" and will go with LCD displays when it unveils its own line of HDTVs.

Besides the intriguing fact that Young-Soo feels that Apple will indeed launch its own brand of TV sets, I find it interesting that "OLED-Display" says the company may use "picture quality-enhanced and tech-sharpened" LCD displays for its television." There's an ongoing debate about which is better: LCD (liquid crystal display) or OLED displays, with, as best I can ascertain, OLED having an advantage in the quality area.

LCD screens are slimmer and take up less space than their OLED counterparts -- which may explain why Apple would go with LCD -- if, indeed, the company plans its...

| Read more »
Aug 24
Jobs: Taxing Tag Fields Everywhere

As written time and time again today, today is the end of an era. This isn't just about a CEO, an innovator, or a leader. It's about a man who decided to change the world time and time and time again. Some called him a tyrant. Others a genius. Bill Gates respected his "taste." Other's his "reality distortion field."

Over the next couple of days, we're going to hear a number of comments, tributes, and respect. We're going to hear concerns about the future, and watch the market find a way to express what it feels. None of this compares to the list of accomplishments Jobs has. He literally is taxing the capacity of "Tags" fields in CMS' everywhere.

There are a few things that are clear.

1) Apple and Jobs have been thinking about this day for a long time.
2) The team already has practice running the company without him.
3) Jobs knows his ultimate accomplishment will be to show he's instilled himself into the culture and fabric of Apple.

...

| Read more »
Aug 24
Greg's Bite: The Decline and Fall of the PC

By Greg Mills

Industries rise and fall. No matter how large the company, an eye has to be on the market, paying particular attention to revolutionary products. That the PC industry sees the Apple mobile revolution isn't in dispute. The problem is, that try as they might, competing with Apple is very hard to do.

With HP now agreeing with Steve Jobs that the PC is dead and moving on to business applications and services, the world's biggest PC manufacturing machine is now up for sale. Some analysts think the size and value of the HP PC manufacturing arm is too big for any one competitor to buy, so cutting it up is likely. Time is not on the HP side of the situation. The longer the process takes to spin off manufacturing HP PCs, the less the division is going to be worth.

First of all, the sales numbers on HP computers across the board is going to decline. If you are looking at PCs and you see an array of HP computers on display, you would...

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Aug 24
Another good reason to develop for iOS, not Android

There's another good reason for developers to concentrate on iOS apps rather than Android apps: their product is more likely to be purchased and used.

When consumers use their mobile phones to check the news, weather, email, or their social networks, they often have a choice between the mobile web version or a specially-created mobile app. But which do they prefer? Mobile apps -- at least in terms of time spent.

According to first-reported data from Nielsen Smartphone Analytics (http://www.nielsen.com), a new effort that tracks and analyzes data from on-device meters installed on thousands of iOS and Android smartphones, the average Android consumer in the U.S. spends 56 minutes per day actively interacting with the web and apps on their phone. Of that time, two-thirds is spent on mobile apps while one-third is spent on the mobile web.

Despite the hundreds of thousands of apps available for...

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Aug 23
Greg's Bite: Unanticipated Ramifications of the...

By Greg Mills

When Google moved to buy Motorola they proclaimed that the purchase was to counter Apple and boost the patent portfolio behind the Android OS. They also maintained their intention to keep Android OS open source and support the various handset makers that have built the hardware behind the success of Android.

There is an old saying that what you do speaks far louder than what you say. There is also a tendency in business to provide a contingency plan in case unanticipated things happen. Thus, it is turning out the handset makers other than Motorola are worried Google will favor their in-house handset maker and freeze them out. The cutthroat handset market is so incredibly valuable it is hard to simply take Google at its word.

Within days of HP killing the TouchPad, Pre smartphones and really the Palm OS, Samsung announced it was dusting off its proprietary Bada smartphone OS as a back up just in case Google takes Android out of the...

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Aug 23
Greg's Bite: Did HP Kill all iPad Competitors?

Posted by Greg MIlls

The last year has seen the launch, crash and burn of the supposed iPad killers cheerfully announced at recent trade shows. There were, by some counts, as many as 100 touchscreen iPad wannabe contenders presented in one show alone. Prototypes and actual production units are not the same thing. Mock-ups are not that hard to produce and a lot of the concept tablets were just glass and painted Bondo.

One tech writer for "ZDNET" has speculated that the entire category of touchscreen tablets is a dead duck while the Apple iPad thrives. The notion is that consumers are smart enough to understand that there is the genuine iPad and touchscreen tablets of lessor stripe. The market value of the TouchPad works out to be about 1/3 the cost of producing them. TouchPad had to be cut to US$99 to sell rabidly like a $500 iPad.

With a big gun like HP throwing in the towel on the entire touch screen category after spending billions of...

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Aug 23
'Radically different' Apple computers by...

According to a Japanese site, Macotakara -- as reported by as noted by Cult of Mac" (http://macte.ch/MUg3C) -- Apple is planning to create new Macs that are “absolutely different from current products” with a debut "as early as the end of the year." Not likely.

There have been rumors before that Apple has tested MacBook Airs running the iPad 2′s A5 CPU (central processing unit). I don't doubt that, though I suspect it's more of an experiment with an eye toward a long-term future.

In the near-term, there are no ARM chips powerful enough to run OS X. And despite the potential of iOS, a full-fledged Mac needs OS X -- at least until that day in the future when OS X and iOS merge into one. Also, OS X apps would have to be reprogrammed to run on ARM processors, and I don't think Apple's ready to bite off that challenge right now.

So unless Apple is planning an iOS notebook/netbook device, I'd take...

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Aug 23
Apple patents involve fixing electronic devices,...

Apple has been granted three patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 8006121 is for systems and methods for diagnosing and fixing electronic devices. Systems and methods for reducing the cost and time required for diagnosing and fixing electronic devices are provided. A host electronic device may be configured to generate a log of events that it experiences. A help component may access the generated log and analyze the log to detect if the host device has experienced a problem. Data may then be exchanged between the help component and the host device in order to fix the detected problem.
The inventors are Svetlana Samoilova, Wing Law and Andrew Bert Hodge.

Patent number 8004492 is for methods and systems for providing sensory information to devices and peripherals. Per the patent, peripherals and data processing systems are disclosed which can be configured to interact...

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Aug 22
Study shows generational differences in mobile device...

Affinity's American Magazine Study (http://www.affinityresearch.net/) reports that there are distinct generational skews in the profiles of eReader, tablet computer and smartphone owners.  

For established technology products like computers, U.S. penetration is high and usage is considered mainstream. For example, 84% of American adults currently own at least one computer according to AMS.  

As a result, there's very little difference in the ownership patterns of computers by generation. But when it comes to the growing number of mobile devices in the marketplace, there are new owner profiles emerging that suggest that one generation of Americans may be better prospects for a particular device than others.  

Mirroring the most recent statistics from The Pew Research Center, AMS reports that 12% of U.S. adults currently own an eReader. The profile of eReader owners skews...

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Aug 21
Greg's Bite: The Great HP Train Wreck, Mikey...

Posted by Greg Mills

The Great HP Train Wreck, Mikey likes it, Michel Dell that is. The immediate stock market reaction to the HP implosion was that HP stock went down 20% and Dell went up 7%. The gut reaction of the market to the HP reorganization was sort of as if HP had done the seppuku ceremony where the ancient Japanese publicly cut their own belly open with a sharp knife. A gory, painful and dramatic way to die, indeed, but it sure makes a statement. The age of the PC is over, long live iPad, to paraphrase Steve Jobs.

Part of the problem for HP is with the general perception of the public that the consumer PC manufacturing division of HP was the bulk of their business. That turns out to not be true, since the profit margins of HP PCs is so low, the manufacturing arm of HP wasn't the money maker the pubic imagined. The misconception also comes from the public face of HP, the consumer products that splash the HP logo everywhere. When I...

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Aug 19
HP, the Great PC Whale Beached Itself

By Greg Mills

As news of the cancelation of the HP TouchPad and Web OS smartphones hit the street, speculation abounds as the future for both HP as a company and its established business units. Almost as an afterthought the news came out that HP was also throwing in the towel on its PC manufacturing business.

What makes the abrupt changes at HP significant is that HP was the largest PC manufacturer in the world. Normally, economy of scale rules mean that HP should have demanded and gotten the best prices on parts and assembly. That should have reaped the largest margins in the industry.

Unlike the Apple computer manufacturing business, the PC manufacturing industry has seen so much competition and so little innovation that PC is just a PC, only a commodity that is defined by the sum of its parts. The PC manufacturers, Intel and Microsoft, the three legged stool is teetering right now. For the first time ever, a combination of a poor...

| Read more »
Aug 19
Mac sales slowing 'significantly'? I don...

A new report from one Wall Street analyst -- Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research -- says Mac sales have slowed significantly since the fourth week in July, suggesting its back-to-school promotion isn't boosting sales as much as expected.

In a note to clients this week-- as reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) -- Chowdhry said that the past weekend "was probably one of the slowest weekends for Mac sales" in the current calendar year, citing proprietary research based on "various tracking data." He said Mac sales last weekend were "probably down" between 35% and 40% from the weekend of July 23.

He may be right, but all his research pretty much goes against the grain of every other report. For instance, this week UBS Investment Research analyst Maynard Um told clients in a note -- again, as reported by "AppleInsider" -- that Mac sales are strong. Um said his...

| Read more »
Aug 18
Greg's Bite: Want to buy Palm?

Posted by Greg Mills

I was somewhat taken back by the news that HP has pulled the plug on the TouchPad, so quickly. That the Palm OS smartphones and computer business were also cut by HP means the shake out of the mobile computing market is beginning in ernest. A massive shift to tablets is underway and when I say tablet, you can read that iPad.

That HP is planning to spin off its computer business is interesting as it was only 10 years ago they bought Compaq for $US25 Billion and became the largest computer maker in the world. Markets change and HP sees the mobile computing business gutting the conventional PC business and with the Palm/TouchPad disaster, they decided to cut their losses.

Apple has been sucking the air out of the room with the magical tablet no one else can match and people are discovering they can live without a PC or laptop. Certainly, there are still applications where a PC or laptop is better, but those situations are...

| Read more »
Aug 18
Apple patent is for dynamic adjustment of video...

An Apple patent (number 20110202674) for dynamic adjustments of video streams has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to streaming video from a server to a client.

Per the patent, using both short term and long term thinning mechanisms, the server reduces its data transfer rate when bandwidth is reduced and increases its data transfer rate when bandwidth is available. In the short term mechanism, the server will dynamically adjust the transmission rate of the video or the quality of the video based on parameters returned by the client. These parameters include currently-buffered data-size, buffered-data duration, and packet loss rate.

In the long term mechanism, the server will adjust the current maximum quality level allowed depending upon the round trip times of data packets transmitted. This invention decreases client rebuffering and packet loss and increases the efficiency of available bandwidth. The inventors are George P. Su and John K...

| Read more »
 
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