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Jul 29
Greg's Bite: Apple vs HTC, S3 Patents invalid!

Posted By Greg Mills

Recently it came out that HTC won one in the legal mega-spat with Apple. HTC had just paid $300,000,000 to S3 for five patents, two of which, had been just found to be infringed by Apple in a separate infringement complaint by the US International Trade Commission. Eager to have something to hold over Apple, HTC bought the patents, apparently not knowing they had just been found to be invalid by the US Patent Office in a re-examination of the patents.

See: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/s3_patents_apple_violates_rules_u... While this article mixes legal terms incorrectly, the basic information is sound. The correct term for issued patents that are later found to be "invalid" is not that they are "unpatentable". The term "...

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Jul 29
Macs with double-high resolution displays may be...

OS X Lion incorporates support for displays packing four times as many pixels as they do today. So perhaps we'll see Macs with their own version of the Retina Display soon.

Currently the "HiDPI" mode remains inaccessible unless you've downloaded Apple's Xcode software development tool. It contains a graphics test application called Quartz Debug and it enables HiDPI modes -- which allow developers to supply 2x-enlarged images to support double-high resolution displays -- in Lion's Displays control panel.

Lion features icons in sizes up to 1024×1024, and a desktop background at a resolution of 3200×3200. Like the iPhone 4′s Retina Display, HiDPi modes mean that user interface elements will remain the same size, but everything will be twice the resolution and twice as detailed.

Imagine a 27-inch iMac (my model of choice) with 3840 x 2160 resolution. The current high-end model has "only" 2560 x 1440 resolution. Such a display requires quite a bit of processing...

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Jul 28
Patents show Apple has 3D on its mind

Two new Apple patents (number 20110175902 and 20110182520) show that 3D is on Apple's collective mind. The former is for a multilayer display device.

Said includes a first layer operable to display a first display signal comprising a first group of data, a second layer positioned in front of the first layer and operable to display a second display signal comprising a second group of data, and a first graphics processing unit connected to the first layer. The first graphics processing unit may be configured to transmit the first display signal to the first layer.

The multilayer display system further includes a second graphics processing unit connected to the second layer. The second graphics processing unit may be configured to transmit the second display signal to the second layer. Peter H. Mahowald is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic components, devices and/or systems utilize two-dimensional display...

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Jul 28
Future Apple portables may have jelly rolls --...

A new Apple patent (number 20110123844) shows that Apple is eyeing ways to improve battery life in its laptops and iOS devices via a battery with multiple "jelly rolls" enclosed in a single pouch.

Disclosed embodiments in the patent -- entitled "pressure-relief mechanism to improve safety in lithium-polymer battery cells" -- relate to a battery cell which includes a weakness for relieving pressure. This battery cell includes a jelly roll comprising layers which are wound together, including a cathode with an active coating, a separator and an anode with an active coating. The jelly roll also includes a first conductive tab coupled to the cathode and a second conductive tab coupled to the anode. The jelly roll is enclosed in a flexible pouch, wherein the first and second conductive tabs extend through seals in the pouch to provide terminals for the battery cell.

This pouch includes a weakness which yields when internal pressure in the pouch exceeds a threshold to...

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Jul 28
Apple, the auto industry needs your help

Perhaps Apple should approach car companies with a new division to create passenger environments. 

In an online journal (http://macte.ch/iFsXv), Alan Cooper, founder of the Cooper interactive design consultancy, says the Ford Motor Company has "just convincingly demonstrated that being an excellent industrial manufacturer doesn’t automatically mean that you are an excellent maker of digital technology."

Despite Ford’s improvements in manufacturing quality, their overall ratings fell drastically this year due solely to the poor software interaction on their dashboards, he says. What's more, a recent article (http://macte.ch/7mRSD) in the "New York Times" discusses Ford’s plummeting fall in user rankings this year, focusing the blame on their new touch screen interface.

"Primarily, the steep decline was attributed to consumer...

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Jul 28
Apple patents involve cable structures, headphones

Several Apple patents involving cable structures and headphones have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patents number 20110180302 and 201108303 are for compression molded cable structures and methods for making them. Per the patents, wired headsets are commonly used with many portable electronic devices such as portable music players and mobile phones. Headsets can include non-cable components such as a jack, headphones, and/or a microphone and one or more cables that interconnect the non-cable components. The cables can be manufactured using different approaches. The inventors are Jonathan Aase, Paul Choinirere and Greg Dunham.

Patents number 20110180962 and 2011082459 involve molded splitter structures and systems and methods for making the same. Per the patent, wired headsets are commonly used with many portable electronic devices such as portable music players and mobile phones. Headsets can include non-cable components such as a...

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Jul 27
Greg's Bite: high tech patent suits

By Greg Mills

The tech news has had a lot of stories regarding patent enforcement suits lately. Apple is plaintiff in a number of suits against almost every other electronic device company out there. The smartphone war is being fought in both the market place and in the court room.

You have certainly noticed the notation something like US 7,554,332 or Patent Pending on many of the products you buy. Those numbers are US patent serial numbers as some aspect or design element of the product has been found by the US Patent Office to be not obvious and both novel and useful. US Patents have evolved over the years, but, actually, the right to patent novel inventions is specifically provided for in the US Constitution.

The US government has the sole authority to issue US patents. The US Patent office wades through hundreds of thousands of patent applications each year. A lot of patent applications are denied, and a patent is never issued for the...

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Jul 27
The value of 'freemium' games -- and the...

Digital distribution of games is disrupting the retail portable game category.  At the heart of this disruption is the proliferation of iOS and Android devices, which is doubling as a powerful portable gaming platform and challenging Nintendo DS and Sony PSP for gamer mindshare, according to the folks at Flurry (http://www.flurry.com), a mobile application analytics and recommendation-engine company.

Now if only my dream of having the ability to "upsize" iOS games for the Mac would come true.

In previous reports (2008 - 2009, 2009 - 2010), Flurry measured that iOS’s and Android’s revenue share of the U.S. portable game software category exploded to 34% in 2010 from just 1% in 2008. Over this same time period, the company calculated that Nintendo’s U.S. portable game revenue share contracted to 57% from 75%. 

All the while, Nintendo chief executive, Satoru Iwata, has remained outspoken, calling...

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Jul 26
Mac will top 12% US market share within a year

The Mac's share of the U.S. personal computer market rose to nearly 11% during the second quarter of 2011, with Apple representing the only major computer manufacturer to report double-digit growth in a market that contracted by more than 4%. My prediction: by this time next year Apple will have 12-14% of the personal computer market in the US and will be in the top five global manufacturers.

The IDC research group says that Apple shipped 1.917 million Macs in the US during the three-month period that ended in June. That's a 14.7% increase over the year-ago quarter. That made Apple the number three computer vendor with a 10.7% market share. That's up from 9% during the year-ago quarter.

Rival research firm Gartner also gave the Mac 10.7% of the US computer market, but said Apple shipped 1.814 million systems stateside. Per Gartner, that represents 8.5% growth compared to its 1.671 million actual shipments during the year-ago quarter.

Neither research group...

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Jul 26
Apple granted patent for H.264/AVC coder

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7,986,731) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for an H.264/AVC coder incorporating rate and quality controller.

A rate control system is disclosed for video coding applications. The rate controller assigns a quantization parameter for video data in a picture in response to complexity indicators indicative of spatial complexity, motion complexity and/or bits per pel of the picture.

A virtual buffer based quantizer parameter is proposed based on a virtual buffer fullness analysis and a target rate estimate, which is derived from the complexity indicators. A second quantizer parameter is proposed from a linear regression analysis of quantizer parameters used to code previously coded pictures of similar type (e.g., I pictures, P pictures or B pictures).

A coding policy decision unit defines a final quantizer parameter from a comparison of the two proposed quantizer parameters. The inventors are Barin Haskell, Adriana...

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Jul 25
Two Features Lion Didn't Deliver, yet?

Posted by Greg Mills

Lion delivered a lot of new features. However, some rumors and wish list items didn't get fulfilled upon Mac OS X 7 reaching Gold Master status. One of the most likely rumors that didn't pan out is a system wide "speech to text" feature. The text to speech feature has been around since before Apple even went to the Mac OS X from the older Apple Systems.

Speech to text is a lot harder to implement with the quality Apple demands before an app is launched. While there is a chance the Nuance / Apple connection will result in an Apple app sold for an additional price, recent leaks of iOS 5 developer releases indicate that feature might be an iPhone / iPad trick. I have an iPhone Nuance app that was free, but only works with short clips. It does work pretty well.

Having the feature on your Mac could be very powerful and useful. Imagine dropping an MP3 file onto a speech to text icon and having your computer spit out a...

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Jul 25
Apple's smartphone opportunities seem boundless

Good news for Apple: cellular handset shipments grew 12% in 2010 to 1.5-billion units, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). That's in comparison with 2009's negative 1.3% growth.

The research group predicts a strong, but more traditional growth in 2011 of 4.3%, but smartphones will continue to do better, growing 15.4% to the 318 million level this year. Though Samsung and Apple are growing faster, Nokia continues to be the leading handset vendor.

However, Nokia's average handset selling price is among the lowest because of their huge share of the low-end markets in China, India and Africa. Nokia still reigns as the largest vendor of smartphones, but smartphone vendor Apple is catching up.

The cellphone continues to be the physical and market magnet that is pulling in the functionality of digital cameras, PDAs, MP3 players, GPS navigators...

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Jul 22
Popularity of tablets changing consumer purchasing...

Six million U.S. broadband households are changing their 2011 consumer electronic purchase plans to get a tablet such as an iPad, which is cannibalizing sales in other device categories and inspiring an additional four million households who had no previous intentions to purchase a computing device this year.

That's according to data from the Parks Associates' research group (http://www.parksassociates.com). The group says the products at greatest risk of losing sales are other mobile Internet devices, including netbooks, notebooks, and e-readers. Tablets will also have significant impact on content publishing, including newspapers.

“One year after the launch of the Apple iPad, tablet adoption reached 13% of U.S. broadband households (approximately 10.5 million), slightly below current netbook and e-reader adoption rates,” says Jennifer Kent, a Parks Associates’ mobile research analyst...

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Jul 21
Greg's Bite: Apple to bid on 1300 more patents?

Posted by Greg Mills

Bloomberg reports that another patent auction is coming up where Apple and Google will be going head to head. This time it is over about 1300 patents being sold off by InterDigital. The power of the patent portfolio is well understood by the industry as the iOS and Android war goes forward. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-20/google-said-to-be-among-compani...

Google is long on innovation but short on patents to protect its projects. Apple has the advantage of having developed the iPhone and iPad under wraps and patenting the heck out of both ground breaking products before they were released.

Google is playing catch up, but has been caught using the logical but Apple patented...

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Jul 20
China to be increasingly important to Apple

China is a country that's going to be increasingly important to Apple. For instance, according to recent report by the Distimo app store research group (http://www.distimo.com),t he download volume in Asian countries grew significantly in the past six months in the Apple App Store for iPhone.

While other (Western) countries saw a decrease in download volume during the same time frame. China recently became the second largest market after the United States. And let's not forget the Mac.

The Mac has over 10% market share in the U.S., but under 5% globally (though both those figures would skyrocket if you figured in iPad sales, as I think you should). I think that number will grow at a significant rate, especially with China figured into the equation.

Last year Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said in a report co-written with Mathew Schneider, that "China is undergoing a 'megatransition' from...

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Jul 19
Mobile cloud services could challenge smartphone home...

Mobile handsets have become full-featured media servers capable of connecting automatically to other consumer devices such as TVs, picture frames, game consoles, and audio systems.

DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct certification programs are poised to simplify wireless connectivity for consumers. But new mobile cloud services may provide even easier access to consumers’ media content.

“Wi-Fi Direct enables a device to connect directly to another device without a wireless network. DLNA-certified devices discover other certified devices, eliminating the need for a consumer to configure the connection,” says ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com) senior analyst Victoria Fodale. “Both programs help mitigate the difficulties that consumers often face when connecting devices at home, and both bring wireless technology further into the mainstream market.”

ABI Research expects that both Wi-Fi Direct-...

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Jul 18
HTC Stock slides, Patent work around?

Posted by Greg Mills

HTC, reeling from the first actual finding that Android infringes upon the Apple iOS has seen its stock slide. HTC announced it intends to buy back as many as 20,000,000 shares of its stock to support the value.

It has been suggested that HTC and the other Android handset makers need to simply find a workaround for the infringed Apple technology. What those who suggest that a workaround will solve the problem really don't understand what is going on. The patents HTC was found to have infringed are older, much less significant patents than the ones yet to be heard.

One of the infringed patents relates to the software trick where web URLs and phone numbers are identified within text, they are colored and underlined then they then automatically become clickable links. This was a patent Apple already had in the portfolio when iPhone was developed.

When you click on a URL discovered in the text, Safari is opened to...

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Jul 18
Consumers still positive on Blu-ray

Apple's not a fan, but, according to the NPD Group, there has recently been "significant and healthy growth" in the purchase and use of Blu-ray disc set top boxes and Blu-ray video content in the U.S.

Based on information from NPD's latest update to the "Entertainment Trends in America" report, 15 % of U.S. consumers reported using a Blu-ray player in the prior six months in March, up from 9% the prior year. By way of comparison, 57% of U.S. consumers reported using a standard DVD player in 2010, which is unchanged from 2009.

According to NPD's "Blu-ray Disc Report, 49% of PS3 owners are viewing Blu-ray movies on their game consoles at least once a month, which is also adding to the base of physical-disc users. Year-over-year sales of set-top Blu-ray player units increased 16%.

According to NPD's "Blu-ray Disc Report," there is evidence that Blu-ray is beginning to offset the loss of DVD customers. The research group estimates there are currently 116 million...

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Jul 16
Greg's Bite: The Android Platform is in Deep...

Posted by Greg Mills

The recent US International Trade Commission finding isn’t the end of the war between Apple’s iOS platform and the Android platform, but drawing first blood may be significant. Had the ruling been related to something trivial like the shape of buttons, for example, HTC could have simply gone to round buttons instead of square buttons.

The particular patents found to have been infringed relate more to basic system organization that underly the very foundation of the Android OS. Further rulings will no doubt find additional infringement on more Apple patents that are even more specifically related to smart phones and mobile operating systems.

I looked up the Apple patents cited and they are so broad, Apple’s attorneys must be delighted. The ITC finding of infringement isn’t just related to HTC, but rather all Android phones. The finding is really more against the Android OS than HTC. See:
...

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Jul 15
Cellphone privacy concerns only a short-term barrier

The recent kerfuffle over iPhone tracking and other privacy concerns will barely be a speed bump in the evolution of location-based services (LBS) because there is simply too much money at stake.

The Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) wireless media strategies (WMS) report, “The $10 Billion Rule: Location, Location, Location,” predicts consumer and advertiser expenditure on LBS to approach US$10 billion by 2016, with search advertising accounting for just over 50%. Although location providers will have to offer greater transparency to users about how they capture, manage and store user location information, this requirement won't deter growth of consumer LBS.

Amid fears that location data is being misused and that user privacy rights are open to abuse, location services have recently made headlines. However, mobile users are increasingly demanding search, map and...

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Jul 14
Mobile media nearing the mainstream

On-the-go use of the Internet and apps is approaching mainstream status, according to new research from Knowledge Networks (http://www.knowledgenetworks.com). And that's good news for Apple, as it's the big dog among mobile media device makers.

The Knowledge Network study shows that 38% of U.S. homes -- roughly 45 million -- now have at least one Internet- or app-capable mobile device, such as a smartphone (such as an iPhone), tablet (such as an iPad), or iPod touch. The proportion grew five percentage points in one year, which equals an increase of over five million homes.

This technology puts the world of media -- video, audio, gaming, and text-based --in consumers’ pockets, almost everywhere they go. Its adoption is therefore providing a host of new opportunities for brand interactions.

During the same 2010 to 2011 timeframe, smartphone ownership grew by about 50% at the...

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Jul 13
Greg's Bite: Law Enforcement Warrants for...

Posted by Greg Mills

FaceBook has secretly been providing complete files on its users to law enforcement. Most of the time the FaceBook users never know their information was given to the police. The policy decision to advise users or not of the warrant is for FaceBook to decide. FaceBook prepared a manual for warrant proceedures they appear to have reproduced for law enforcement. See http://cryptome.org/isp-spy/facebook-spy.pdf

I guess they figured it would be far better for FaceBook's pubic relations not to reveal the warrant disclosures of FaceBook users. People might get nervous about doing the FaceBook thing altogether if that were to be publicized.

Reuters found that Federal Judges authorized 24 search warrants for individual FaceBook accounts prior to 2011. So far in the year 2011 FaceBook has gotten 11 Federal Warrants for...

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Jul 13
Apple may have iOS security perception problem

nCircle, a provider of automated security and compliance auditing solutions, recently announced the results of the nCircle 2011 Smartphone Study. And it shows that Apple may have a security perception problem.

The results are based on a survey of 551 respondents in the IT security industry, including senior management, IT operations, security professionals and risk and audit managers. Highlights of the study include:

° Seventy-one percent respondents identify Google Android devices as presenting the highest level of smartphone security risk, a considerable increase from 39% in 2010.

° Security concern about Apple iOS devices is also high, with 60% of respondents assigning the highest level of smartphone security risk to these devices.

° Sixt-two percent of respondents say their companies have a smartphone security policy, compared with 58% in 2010.

° Only 56% of respondents say their companies enforce their smartphone policy, a dramatic decrease...

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Jul 12
Global computer shipments to grow just 4.2% this year

Worldwide computer shipments are now expected to grow by just 4.2% in 2011, down from a February forecast of 7.1%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) "Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker" (http://www.idc.com). But if the Mac continues to be the exception to the rule, it will grow even faster.

A combination of declining first quarter shipments, an increasingly conservative economic outlook, relative saturation among developed market consumers, and competing products will lead to slow growth in 2011 before a rebound in 2012, says the IDC research group. For 2012 through 2015, growth is still expected to fall in the 10 to 11% range.

Consumer computer purchases have been a cornerstone of computer growth over the past five years. During this time, a transition to low-cost portables helped drive purchases by new users in emerging markets as well as replacement and secondary systems in more mature...

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Jul 11
Greg's Bite Is “.Secure” the solution for hacking?

By Greg Mills

Internet insecurity is such an issue with the US Government they are considering adding a new “.secure” main domain to the .com, .info and .gov that we are used to. Even the porno people have .xxx, so why not add a secure domain for the government and other agencies that require better security?

The problem the US Government has is that we in the USA are a nation that is build foundation-ally, upon a constitution that include certain “unalienable rights”. These rights are carefully crafted upon the bill of rights, which includes the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This...

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