Mobile Patent Wars: when law kills innovation

There is so much talk about Patent Wars that all has been said and said again. 

You want to make some some audience? That's the topic to pick! You want to start a fight with you Android/Apple fanatic friends? Go for it! You want to get rich without inventing anything? Patent something embarrassingly stupid and then sue everyone! 

Headlines are everywhere: Apple is winning this injunction against Samsung to ban import of that phone from those countries, two weeks after Samsung is suing back and making Apple publish a sorry statement on their website. Meanwhile HTC, that already pays Microsoft patents to produce Android phones, settles a cross licensing with Cupertino whose economic part is somehow unclear, Google acquires Motorola to get more patents, Apple teams up with archenemy Microsoft against Google to get some others. In the last rumors Apple and Google could bid together to get 1000 patents from the ashes of Kodak.

The weekly WrapUp - 09 Dec 12

Here we are again with a new WrapUp.

  • Facebook might be interested in Whatsapp. According to the latest rumors Zuck could buy himself a new messaging app with a very big user base to expand the company efforts in the mobile space. Starting to be concerned about the privacy of your Whatsapp messages? If the deal is real, you should!


The weekly WrapUp - 02 Dec 12

After a short hiatus (sorry, work keeps me very busy!) we are back for a new edition of WrapUp. Here's the most interesting news of the week:

  • Rumors of a cheap iPhone are here... again! According to the analysts Apple could create a cheap model exclusive to the emerging market, where they failed to gain a big market share due to the premium price of the device. As you know Cupertino strategy and low prices don't match but we are talking of a 3 billion people market: it could be worth some thought.. 


The weekly WrapUp - 18 Nov 12

Here we are for the second week of the WrapUp. So, what happened this week?

  • Steven Sinofsky left Microsoft: the head of Windows 8 officially left the company this week. Reasons are not totally clear but most of the speculation points to clash of personality with some other Microsft Executives and Ballmer himself. After something like that happened in Cupertino it seems that shipping a major product for Microsoft or Apple could cost your job.


The weekly WrapUp - 10 Nov 12

Today I'm starting this new feature in my blog. 

Although this week I didn't catch news that made me scream "I must give a piece of my mind about that!" and write a whole post about, I still consumed my fair share of reading so I'll give you a summary of what I think are the most "worth knowing" news of the week.

These posts will probably become a weekly appointment on my blog at least in the weeks where I don't have something major to discuss. 


[Updated] Should Apple really ditch chipzilla?

In the latest Bloomberg news Apple is said to be exploring the possibility to ditch Intel processors. This is not the first time such a rumor appears and it could happen.. eventually.

Let's start by considering the "why?" part of the equation. All could come down to the well known control freak nature of people in Cupertino but the decision would really be too big to be guided just by that. Some other things Apple is quite fond of are design and consistency and both may take advantage of a switch to ARM.


Things you should avoid making a review

After the launch of the new Nexus I was eagerly waiting for the first reviews to find their way online.. and here they are!

I read Engadget, TechCrunch and The Verge reviews for both the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10. The reviews are mostly positive although none of the reviewers sees the devices as perfect. Anyway this post is not about opinions on the Nexuses themselves. You can find some general thoughts on the Google announcements in my previous post.

The thing I'd like to address is review method. Both Engadget and TechCrunch specify somewhere in the articles that the units they are using don't have definitive software, they lack for example the multi user switching and the lock screen widgets implementation. The Verge doesn't mention such features so I suppose they don't have them either. Leaving aside the fact that if I were Google I wouldn't give away devices with non final software, what reviews are we talking about?


The Surface RT reviews round up

If you read my other posts, you may understand that the Microsoft experiment has me quite intrigued. I will have to change one of my PCs quite soon so I'm doing some research. I'd like to jump on the tablet/hybrid wagon and, for now, both Android and iOS are out of the question as they can't substitute a full laptop yet.

The fact that the Surface was produced by Microsoft itself along the software makes it one of the most interesting choices, so I did a tour of the reviews around the net about to decide if it's time to buy it or to wait for the full Windows 8 version. Just for clarity, prior to the readings the opinion was to wait. Did I change my mind?


Android event recap.. give me mobility, productivity, internationality!

Despite the event cancellation this Monday, Google announced with less fanfare all their new Android stuff. A new OS version, two new devices and a refreshed one, more Google Now, availability of some services in new countries and media deals.

The devices

The nexus family has now 3 members: the new flagship smartphone, the Nexus 4, a refreshed Nexus 7 and the new flagship 10" tab, the Nexus 10. I'm not going to dive into the impressive specs as you can find plenty of information online. I must say that the pricing is everything we customers can expect and, that alone, is a key to a success similar to the one of the Nexus 7 (as Asus just confirmed).

The only week point I can find in the devices is what I called "mobility" in the title. First the Nexus 10 doesn't have any 3G/4G version and that's plainly a shame!


Dream of a do-it-all piece of silicon

Monday's calendar is getting more crowded by the minute: Android, Windows Phone and now an AMD press conference! The announcement should be about HSA strategy and so the inclusion of third party designs in AMD chips. I don't know about you but the inclusion of an ARM core in a x86 design gets my tech imagination running...

The main issue with the current CPU/GPU/APU market is that different pieces of silicon are for different tasks: high preformance x86 for servers and desktop, low power x86 for the laptop, ultra low power ARM for tablets and smartphones. To that add graphics: high power discrete for the desktop, low power discrete for the upper laptop segment, integrated for the lower one and than ARM to the tablets and phones. 

Even if some of the choices are taken by the hardware producer the consumer still ends up with a quite wide range of choices to make. Do I want a powerful laptop or a laptop I can take with me all day without a charger? The chip giants know that and are making a move in different ways: ARM from the bottom is enhancing performance mantaining low power, Intel and AMD from the top are reducing power and integrating graphics. I will leave for now the confrontation between Intel and AMD approach to the problem but the direction is the same: a do-it-all piece of silicon. 


Windows 8 and Microsoft master plan

It's just some hours to the release of Windows 8: Microsoft's biggest revision of Windows since Windows.

After a long development and testing, in which Redmond asked as never before for the users' feedback, the newest Redmond creature is ready for prime time.

As I said Windows 8 is the biggest change in the OS since its start and it's an huge gamble on Microsoft's part. Microsoft has been long accused of lack of innovation but it's something that comes naturally when you have a huge and heterogeneous consumer base. The average Windows user is a quite basic one and a drastic change in the OS would mean confusion and frustration so Microsoft always opted for a gradual change of their flagship product. Why a sudden change of mind?


Apple event: the good and the why?

Let's start with a recap of today's announcements.

The MacBook Pro 13" is getting the retina treatment while the iMac and the Mac Mini are getting an update.The new iMac with thin bezel display looks amazing and the new MacBook was a must after the Retina 15" version.

The iPad Mini was announced with specs similar to what was in te rumors in the last days: no Retina display, 329$ starting price with 16GB and WiFi.

In my opinion both the lack of Retina and the price are quite disappointing. I should add that the thin bezel on the sides is, still in my opinion, a bad choice: that's exactly the place I usually hold the tablet! But I should try it to give a fair judgement. Anyway, as I concluded before, they will sell tons of iPad Mini despite all of that. Apple magic!

Now that we're done with the good and the so-and-so let's get to the real "why did you do that?" point: the fourth generation iPad..


Apple in 7" - Act II

Some more figures are floating around about the iPad Mini pricing.

As reported by 9to5mac the iPad Mini base model (16GB Wifi only) will likely sell for 329$ and the build cost is estimated at little less than 200$ by Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. The same sources estimate the top model price at 659$ for a 250$ cost.

If you look at the cost breakdown table you will notice that the cost is estimated considering a 163ppi display. That's not Retina!


Apple in 7"

By now the existence of the iPad Mini is taken for granted and all sources point to the event next week for the public launch. You can find a quite comprehensive summary of the rumors in this The Verge article.

The iPad Mini, even if it's still a tablet, is new territory for Apple. And let's not forget that a 7 inch tablet was out of the question as long as Steve Jobs was the capitan of the ship.

I should declare now that I'm not an Apple fan but I recognize Steve's greatness. If I was Tim Cook I surely would take Steve's advice and stay out of that market.


Some exciting weeks to come

Seems like the big guys are getting ready for a holiday season announcement battle:

  • Apple, October 23: iPad Mini and maybe something more. Rumors hint at a minor iPad refresh and maybe some Retina MacBook Pro 13"
  • Microsoft, October 26: Windows 8 and Surface
  • Google, October 29: Nexus G, refresh of the Nexus 7 plus a possible Nexus 10 and Android 4.2 announcement
  • Microsoft, October 29: Windows Phone 8 and devices
 All together that's huge news that could really change some of the mobile market in the months to come. In the next series of posts We'll dive in these announcements and add some thoughts on what they may mean for us.


My first carrier rant

The other day I was browsing forums and found some people complaining about a possible block of WhatsApp file transfers on their carrier network. That's the same carrier I use so I tested right away and found out I don't have such a restriction. Anyway this is nothing new.. in the beginning came Skype: block VoIP. Than tethering: block it too. Instant messaging is next in line want it or not. Then what?

The thing is, I don't get the carriers reasoning.. Let's rephrase it, i totally get it: You hurt my core business, I stop you. But I think it's the crying of the dying giant. Basically they have been selling us 20 years old services (Voice and SMS) at todays price making good money for quite some time. And where did all this money go? In network improvement? Cost reductions? I'don't think so. Now that data is the big thing, the network is antiquate and the carriers are in a bad spot for limited foresight.

So what should they do now? What they should have done years ago: regain focus, spend money on the network and cut all the fat to make the bare selling of data more profitable. No one needs carriers spending big money developing services and crapware for our smartphone because, with a good network, we can download better ones. 

It's perfectly legal to add strange restrictions to the service agreements instead of moving forward, but it sure doesn't look good to the customer and, in the end, making customers unhappy is always a bad choice.


Post Zero

Hi everyone and welcome to my soon to be blog!

This is my first blogging project, so it will take me some time to set it up to shine and make it alive with posts. For now consider it a work in progress.

As you may already have guessed by the title this blog is going to be mostly about technology. I am quite passionate about it and really enjoy staying up to date.
Of course I have also some strong opinions that I'd like to share so what better opportunity than start my own blog?

Although the focus will be on tech, nothing forbids I could sometimes share my thoughts on other topics too.

See you soon