Category: Business

Google goes all Mikado about slow updaters

mikadoGoogle has “got a little list” is going “shame” OEMs into updating their devices printing a list of “those who won’t be missed.”

The search engine has has “drawn up lists that rank top phone makers by how up-to-date their handsets are, based on security patches and operating system versions.

Google has gone all Ko-Ko and shared this list with OEMs already and has “discussed making it public” in the hopes that OEMs will do better at updating their devices as a result.

The search engine has been trying for ages to get OEMs to update their devices. In 2011, Google triumphantly announced the “Android Update Alliance,” an agreement where Google and OEMs would work to ensure that devices got 18 months of updates.

A year later everyone promptly forgot about it and people talk about it as often as they mention the Queen’s farts.

 

It will take years to go through Google data

stalin-googleIt could take year for investigators in last week’s raid of Google’s Paris headquarters to go through all the data.

Dozens of French police raided Google’s offices on last week, escalating an investigation over suspected tax evasion.

French financial prosecutor Eliane Houlette said coppers had collected a lot of computer data.

“We need to analyze (the data) … (it will take) months, I hope that it won’t be several years, but we are very limited in resources”.

Google insists that it is complying fully with French law, is under pressure across Europe from public opinion and governments angry at the way multinationals exploit their global presence to minimize tax liabilities.

Not in the UK of course. In the UK it offered David Cameron’s government a small amount of money to stop bothering it.

 

 

India rejects Apple temples in its country

15-days-yoga-meditation-and-trekking-retreat-in-the-indian-himalayasIndia might have hundreds of thousands of temples, mosques and churches but it is saying no to the latest religion from the US because it is not cutting edge enough.

Apple was planning to build three of its temples of the holy cash pile in India, known as “Apple Stores” but the Indians have told the fruity cargo cult that it must meet a rule obliging foreign retailers to sell at least 30 percent locally-sourced goods.

This has poured cold water on Apple’s plans to use the Apple Stores as a base to rapidly convert the Indians away from their old gods and to something more consumer orientated. India’s smartphone market is still growing, while the rest of the world is losing interest.

A change in legislation last year exempted foreign retailers selling high-tech goods from the rule, which states 30 percent of the value of goods sold in the store should be made in India.

Apple’s products were not considered to be in this category and the company asked for a waiver. However for some reason the Cargo cult did not think that it needed to prove that it needed one. After all Apple is used to just telling governments what to do and they do it.

As a result the Indians looked at the application and rejected it.  The waiver is available only for investment in “state of the art” or “cutting-edge technology” an official said. Apple is apparently neither.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Saturday. The trip was supposed set the stage for Apple’s expansion plans. Apple planned to open at least three stores in India by the end of 2017.

 

Google beats Oracle in Android in “fair use” case

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884A federal jury has ruled that Google’s Android operating system does not infringe Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs was protected by “fair use”.

The Jury took three days to reach its verdict. Oracle has decided it will appeal.

There was only one question on the special verdict form, asking if Google’s use of the Java APIs was a “fair use” under copyright law. The jury unanimously answered “yes,” in Google’s favour.

If Oracle had won, the same jury would have gone into a “damages phase” to determine how much Google should pay.

US District Judge William Alsup, who has overseen the litigation since 2010 said the jury had did a great job and he “would like to come in the jury room and shake each of your hands individually.”

Google said in a statement that its victory was good for everybody. “Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products,” a spokesGoogle said.

Oracle which had expected to win billions off of the court case vowed to appeal.  Dorian Daley, Oracle’s general counsel, said in a statement:

“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market. Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behavior. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal.”

APIs can be protected by copyright under the law of at least one appeals court. However, the first high-profile attempt to control APIs with copyright law has now been stymied by a “fair use” defence.

Over the course of the two-week trial, jurors heard testimony from current and former CEOs at Sun Microsystems, Google, and Oracle, as well as in-the-trenches programmers and computer experts from both companies.

Oracle bought Java when it purchased Sun Microsystems and started a law suit against Google over the APIs in 2010. In 2012, following a first jury trial, US District Judge William Alsup ruled that APIs can’t be copyrighted, but Alsup’s opinion was overturned on appeal. At this month’s trial, Google’s only available argument was that the 37 APIs constituted “fair use.”

Oracle argued that Google copied parts of Java API packages as well as related declaring code, in order to take a “shortcut at Oracle’s expense.” As Android prospered, Oracle’s Java licensing business, cantered largely around feature-phones, tanked.

“They copied 11,500 lines of code. It’s undisputed. They took the code, they copied it, and put it right into Android,” Oracle attorney Peter Bicks told the court.

Google pointed out that Java has always been “free and open” to use—and that included re-implementing Java APIs. Sun and its CEO Jonathan Schwartz accepted Android as a legitimate, if inconvenient, competitive product.

Google attorney Robert Van Nest told the jury that Oracle’s case was all about having a big sulk. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison welcomed Android at first, but later he “changed his mind, after he had tried to use Java to build his own smartphone and failed to do it.”

 

Lenovo disappointed by Motorola purchase

LENOVOLenovo is having that same moment of realisation that people get when they realise that special deal they bought off ebay was not really so special after all and they probably bid too much for it.

The company moaned that its integration efforts after buying Lenovo had not met its expectations.

Both crucial mobile markets, China and the United States, disappointed in the wake of Lenovo’s takeover, with Chinese shipments declining by a huge 85 percent and product transition in North America deemed simply “not successful.”

Lenovo says it has drawn many lessons from the experience since the close of the Motorola acquisition and it’s applying them quickly. One aspect of its refreshed strategy is to have two co-presidents, with two distinct strategies for China and the rest of the world. In China, Lenovo will refocus around its affordable Zuk brand “to rebuild its end-to-end competitiveness,” while elsewhere the company plans to keep growing in emerging markets “and get the US business back on track with a competitive product portfolio.”

It has already been doing this for its Moto G launch which is focused on India and Brazil, two countries where the Moto brand is already doing well.

When Lenovo bought Motorola from Google, it had expected to become a strong number three and a credible challenger to the top two in smartphones.

CEO Yang Yuanqing said that the combined Lenovo-Motorola group has fallen out of the top five global smartphone vendors, supplanted by fellow Chinese manufacturers Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo.  Huawei rose to become what Lenovo intended.

In any event Lenovo is planning a come-back with its Moto Z flagship which looks like it will be bold and ambitious. The Moto Z is expected to be accompanied by a series of MotoMod accessory cases, which add things like a projector, a zoom camera, and better speakers to the basic device. This will be revealed on June 9.

Nintendo planning a restructuring

Nintendo_former_headquarter_plate_KyotoNintendo’s most recent fiscal-year disclosure mentioned that it was planning some serious corporate restructuring.

The outfit has been rolling out more details about how that restructuring will work, and accidently released some news about its new business plans.  Yesterday it was talking about the company’s amended articles of incorporation, expected to be approved by shareholders this June. In the document are three new entries in its “business engagement” list. Apparently Nintendo wants to get into restaurants, medical and health devices, and “computer software”.

Nintendo has publicly announced, then backpedalled on its heart rate monitor (the Wii Vitality Sensor) and a sleep-tracking system. Nintendo-themed restaurant seems pretty obvious, particularly in Japan. But why add “computer software” to the mix? Nintendo already writes computer software, so it might have something else in mind.

That list mentioned that Nintendo will license its “intellectual property rights.”

Nintendo does have some engaged businesses which include things that it has not made for years. This includes office equipment and tools and sporting equipment.  This part of the restructuring might not lead to new products and might just be a legal trick to allow some decent patent trolling.

 

Nokia gets back in the phone business

nokia-in-advanced-talks-to-acquire-alcatel-lucents-wireless-business-reportsFormer rubber boot maker Nokia is back in the mobile phone and tablet business after flogging its previous loss making empire to Microsoft which trashed it.

Nokia has announced plans that will see the Nokia brand return to the mobile phone and tablet markets on a global basis. Under a strategic agreement covering branding rights and intellectual property licensing, Nokia Technologies will grant HMD global Oy (HMD), a newly founded company based in Finland, an exclusive global licence to create Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets for the next ten years.

Under the agreement, Nokia Technologies will receive royalty payments from HMD for sales of Nokia-branded mobile products, covering both brand and intellectual property rights.

HMD will provide a focused, independent home for a full range of Nokia-branded feature phones, smartphones and tablets. HMD has conditionally agreed to acquire from Microsoft the rights to use the Nokia brand on feature phones, and certain related design rights.

These agreements would make HMD the sole global licensee for all types of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets.

Apparently HMD intends to invest over $500 million over the next three years to support the global marketing of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, funded via its investors and profits from the acquired feature phone business.

HMD’s new smartphone and tablet portfolio will be based on Android, uniting one of the world’s iconic mobile brands with the leading mobile operating system and app development community.

FIH Mobile Limited (FIH), a Foxconn subsidiary has bought the remainder of Microsoft’s feature phone business assets, including manufacturing, sales and distribution. HMD and Nokia Technologies have signed an agreement with FIH to establish a collaboration framework to support the building of a global business for Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets.

This agreement will give HMD full operational control of sales, marketing and distribution of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, with exclusive access to the pre-eminent global sales and distribution network to be acquired from Microsoft by FIH, access to FIH’s world-leading device manufacturing, supply chain and engineering capabilities, and to its growing suite of proprietary mobile technologies and components.

Nokia will provide HMD with branding rights and cellular standard essential patent licenses in return for royalty payments, but will not be making a financial investment or holding equity in HMD.

HMD’s new CEO will be Arto Nummela who previously held senior positions at Nokia and is currently the head of Microsoft’s Mobile Devices business for Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa and Microsoft’s global Feature Phones business. HMD’s president will be Florian Seiche, who is currently Senior Vice President for Europe Sales and Marketing at Microsoft Mobile, and previously held key roles at Nokia, HTC and other global brands.

Adobe reports digital deflation

adobeBeancounters working for Adobe have worked out that the digital economy is suffering a period of deflation across nearly every category it tracks.

Adobe’s Digital Price Index (DPI) looks at inflation rates across consumer goods categories that the the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures.

However Adobe analyses actual transactions in real time and can account for changes in consumer behaviours, whereas the government relies on surveys to approximate sales of each product category.

Adobe spotted deflation across nearly all categories Adobe tracks including groceries, TVs, toys, electronics, furniture, appliances and flights.

In sporting goods, the DPI shows three times more deflation than the CPI for the last year. In computers, the DPI saw twice as much deflation year on year versus the CPI.  The DPI explains the decrease in demand and pricing for sporting goods and PCs that led to the recent bankruptcy announcements and Intel pulling out of the PC market.

Prices for TVs and Tablets dropped the most year on year. TV prices fell 19.7 per cent and tablets fell by 20.9 per cent.

The DPI analyses billions of digital transactions involving 15 billion website visits and 2.2 million products sold online, tracking digital transactions more accurately than any other current source.

Economists, Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Obama, and Pete Klenow, professor, department of economics at Stanford University, are the brains behind the DPI.

Tame Apple Press reports that Apple Music is bad

a8a442ac275a36c2da0b85a42b625225The writing appears to be on the wall for Apple Music after one of Jobs’ Mob’s cheerleaders the New Yorker dismissed the Apple Streaming service as “bad.”

To put this into perspective, the article has the headline “Why Apple Music is so bad when the iPhone is so good,” thus providing Jobs’ Mob with a free advert for its self-reverential out-of-date iPhone.

The writer Om Malik’s theme is that Apple can either create great software, or great hardware but when the two need to work side-by-side, like with Apple Music, the result is pants.

“Apple has always been, and always will be, a hardware-first company. It produces beautiful devices with elegant designs and humane operating-system software,” he enthuses without any trace of irony that might otherwise rescue his reasoning.

Malik then makes the very good point that Apple releases two versions of the same hardware a year and this makes sense but it also applies the same refresh programme to software. As a result its software is nearly always out-of-date and unable to cope with the fast adapting software scene.

He said that Apple’s corporate DNA is that of a hardware company, its activities are meant to support hardware sales. For example, its “Made with iPhone” advertising campaign talks up the iPhone’s camera, and thus drives up hardware sales.

“All of Apple’s services, iCloud, Apple Music, Apple Photos, iMessage, exist to support the sales of phones, tables, and laptops. The executive team, the sales machine, and the manufacturing, software, and services components are all locked into the hardware schedule.”

He added that it was daft that the Apple Music update needs to be revealed at the World Wide Developers’ Conference.

“Why should Apple Music have to wait for the conference to make usability fixes when Facebook and Google, and every Internet-services-oriented company, does this on a routine basis?”

Malik describes a hardware company which is trying to be a software company and failing. In much the same way that Microsoft tried to be a hardware company and balls that up.  But what is more interesting from the New Yorker article is that while the premise is obvious, the fact that someone who is blindly an Apple fanboy is saying it.

Apple fanboys are having a tough time of things lately. Not only is their faith tested by the fact that Jobs’ Mob is failing to attract interest, they also have to cope with the fact that they are no longer seen as the industry innovators. Coupled with this, poor programming and software design is making the rather elderly designs look buggy.

In the past, Apple fanboys would never complain, instead they held fast to the reality distortion field even when their Apple Macs were catching fire. All that is starting to change, as Apple’s grip over its follows starts to slip. Without any inquisition, a new messiah, or at the very least good products with good software, we can see more of this coming.

The iPhone 7 will be another good test of this faith.  So far it appears to have little in the way of innovative technology and will look the same as the disappointing iPhone6S. If it contains the same rubbish software that we are being seen coming out of Apple with its Apple Music then that particular cash cow might as well be sent to the meat works.

 

Microsoft to license Nokia brand to Foxconn

nokia-in-advanced-talks-to-acquire-alcatel-lucents-wireless-business-reportsMicrosoft is going to license the Nokia brand to Foxconn and shut down its operations.

Microsoft and Nokia struck a deal in 2014 and the terms of acquisition read that the Windows developer owns full rights for the Nokia brand for smartphones until 2024.

Vole gutted the Nokia brand and totally failed to make any money from it. In the first quarter of 2016, Microsoft only managed to sell 15 million handsets.

The move, which has yet to be announced, will see half of the remaining Microsoft Mobile members getting the boot and the rest joining the Vole’s Surface team. , and rumours already permeate the media about a possible Surface Phone in tow.

For one thing, Microsoft owns the site www.surfacephone.com. For another, the company is aware that the handset market is consistent and diverse, with developing countries being a gold mine for affordable smartphone manufacturers.

The question is what would Foxconn want with a Nokia licence and would anyone buy a Nokia phone from the outfit? Wasting money on Nokia was one of the shy and retired former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s silliest ideas.