Samsung: Apple’s Been “Freeriding,” We’re Getting Aggressive

aggressive-lioness

If you were to take a good hard look at the Apple-Samsung trail of destruction (otherwise known as their world-wide patent war), you’d likely come to the conclusion that Apple is ahead by a few key points. Apple has taken down the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany, won an EU-wide (sort of) injunction on three Galaxy smartphones (though Samsung’s found a way to keep selling them), and kept the GalTab from being sold in Australia as well. Samsung has yet to get any iProduct removed from store shelves.

Obviously, this is an ongoing war and anything could happen, but as it rests now Apple has the advantage. With any win, however contained, the psychological affects of that win carry over into other court systems and countries. So Apple’s win is more than just a win in Europe, and a semi-win in Australia — it’s a sign to all the other courts that Apple may just have a point to their argument. To Samsung, this affect is lethal.

With that said, Samsung’s head of global marketing for mobile communications Lee Younghee has said that Samsung plans to take a much more aggressive stance with regard to Apple, reports the AP. After hearing this, Samsung’s somewhat tentative attitude throughout these proceedings makes much more sense. It’s well known that Samsung and Apple share a fruitful business relationship, with Samsung being a component supplier for Apple and Apple, in turn, being one of Samsung’s biggest customers.

Apple hasn’t done much to protect this relationship over the course of the battle, asserting rights in any country it can and alleging infringement at every turn. Of course, Samsung has filed plenty of its own lawsuits and appeals, but in almost every case it’s had the appearance of a retaliatory move, rather than a switch over to the offensive. In this way, Samsung has played the game slow and steady, refraining from crossing any line until the company is prepared to never return.

But that’s over. Early on in the battle, Samsung almost seemed flattered by the lawsuits. Chairman of Samsung Electronics Lee Kun-hee said that “when a nail sticks out, people try to pound it down. [Such incidents] are like a rite of passage that the company has to go through in order to continue its growth.” That was back in April, when this whole mess began. Now, things are quite different. Apple is very clearly going for the jugular, while Samsung has merely been defending itself. A strong defense (with regards to the suits Samsung initiated), but a defense nonetheless.

According to Lee Younghee, “We’ll be pursuing our rights for this in a more aggressive way from now on.” She also added that Apple has been “freeriding” on Samsung’s wireless communication technology patents. That aligns rather nicely with comments made by an unnamed Samsung executive to the Korea Times, promising to come after the iPhone 5 in Korea as soon as its debuted. That exec mentioned that the only way to avoid such litigation would be if Apple removed “mobile telecommunications functions” from the iPhone.

The way I see it, Samsung is trying to turn the tables on Apple. After playing the victim role (to an extent), Samsung will likely begin dropping bombs, hoping to secure a solid win. If that happens, Apple’s advantage dies and the possibility of a settlement becomes much more attractive to Apple the aggressor. With the way the game’s been played thus far, a settlement is actually a big win for Samsung. It may preserve the business relationship it has with Apple, while proving to the world that Apple is indeed afraid of Samsung and its increasing growth.


Website:
samsung.com
Launch Date:
September 23, 1969

Samsung is one of the largest super-multinational companies in the world. It’s possibly best known for it’s subsidiary, Samsung Electronics, the largest electronics company in the world.

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Apple Donates Refurbed Original iPads To Teach For America Teachers

Classroom

It’s always nice to see mega-brand corporations give a little something back. For the most valuable company in the world, Apple, it’s only fitting that what they give back would be one of the more valued devices on the market: the first generation iPad.

Last spring after the iPad 2 was announced, first-gen iPad owners were told they could return their old tablet to an Apple retail location and it would be donated to low-income teachers working with the organization Teach For America. If you aren’t already familiar with it, Teach For America is a program that takes some of the brightest college grads in the country, gives them a quick five-week training course, and then sends them into the more impoverished districts across the country to be teachers. This is meant to help them better understand the achievement gap in the U.S.

So why Teach For America? Well, besides the fact that it’s a smart organization that has the potential to make a difference, Steve Jobs’ wife, Laurene Powell sits on the TFA board of directors, reports Fortune. We’re not sure just how many first-gen iPads Apple actually collected during the initiative, but it was enough to make sure every one of the 8,000+ TFA corps members got their very own.

Though it’s a great start, one iPad per classroom seems a bit ineffective. However, one teacher from St. Louis found that her kids would get work done more efficiently if they knew that they could play with the iPad when they finished. A pretty smart implementation of the device with just one per classroom, but hopefully they’ll be adding the iPad 2 to their collections once the rumored iPad 3 makes its debut.


Company:
Apple
Website:
apple.com
Launch Date:
January 4, 1976
IPO:

September 22, 1980, NASDAQ:AAPL

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007.

Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod (offered with…

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Report on tablet growth shows market is ripe for iPad competitor



Apple not only continues to dominate the global tablet market, its share of the market continues to grow while Android’s slips. According to the second quarter numbers from market research firm IDC, the introduction of the iPad 2 combined with RIM’s entrance into the market meant good things for overall shipments—which rose by 88.9 percent between the first and second quarters, or 303.8 percent year-over-year. The data shows that the market is ripe for a solid iPad competitor, too, possibly opening the door for Microsoft and its Windows 8 tablets.

IDC says that Apple’s share of the global tablet market was 68.3 percent during the second quarter of 2011, up from 65.7 percent in the previous quarter. RIM entered the market during the second quarter as well, placing its initial market share at 4.9 percent with the PlayBook. Android-based tablets, which previously held 34 percent of the market during the first quarter of the year, fell to 26.8 percent in the second quarter.

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HTC may be looking to buy its own mobile operating system



HTC expressed interest in purchasing a mobile operating system today, according to Focus Taiwan. Cher Wang, chairwoman at HTC, told reporters “we [HTC] can use any OS we want,” and said the company has held internal discussions about obtaining an OS of its own.

HTC makes both Windows Phone 7 and Android handsets and has robotically voiced it support of Google’s acquisition of one of its hardware competitors, Motorola Mobility. Google has likewise been supportive of HTC, selling the company nine patents to help bolster its lawsuits with Apple.

Still, HTC appears unable to ignore the potential for Motorola to gain certain Android advantages under Google ownership, and is considering other options. Wang has said that her company has the ability “to make things different on the second or third layer of a platform,” referring to the sometimes-derided HTC Sense UI overlay. “Our strength lies in understanding an OS, but it does not mean we have to produce an OS,” Wang said, indicating that the company might prefer to purchase or license a platform rather than make its own.

And what luck: HP recently knocked its own webOS unconscious and displayed it on a silver platter for potential buyers or licensees, and that may be HTC’s best prospect. Wang cautions that HTC will not pursue their own OS “on impulse,” but the company has given it thought.

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Over iPhone And iPad Patents: Apple Sues Samsung In Japan

Image (1) ipad_japan1.jpg for post 161767

The patent war between Apple and Samsung is continuing, and this time the battlefield is Japan: Japanese news agency Kyodo is reporting that Apple filed a lawsuit against Samsung with the Tokyo District Court. According to big A, Samsung is infringing on (unspecified) patents on the iPhone and iPad with the Galaxy S Android phone (that carrier Docomo started selling in Japan last year).

If the report is to be believed (neither Apple Japan nor Samsung Japan have confirmed the news), Apple is seeking 100 million yen (US$1.3 million) in damages. A first hearing took place yesterday, and apparently, Samsung’s Japanese unit is ready for a long-term legal battle.

What’s interesting to note is that in Japan, the Galaxy S is a best-selling handset for carrier Docomo, while Apple chose competitor SoftBank as the exclusive distributor for the iPhone and iPad.

And not unlike Apple, Samsung currently sees fantastic sales in Japan, especially with the S II: Docomo sold 100,000 Galaxy S II in the first three days after release of the handset in July, making it the carrier’s fastest-selling phone ever. Today, Docomo announced the Galaxy Tab (LTE-compatible) for the Japanese market.

Hot, Flat, And Widescreen: The Rise Of The Minitabs

Monty_python_foot

The past three days have brought us a trio of interesting “tabs:” the Samsung Note, the 7.7 Gal Tab, and (bear with me) the new, flatter iPhone. Sadly, two of those may not make it to the US of A (and one can’t even be shown in Germany), but it’s clear that there’s a trend. Wait a few months and we’ll see more new 5- to 7-inch tablets/phones on the market than, I’d wager, 10-inch tablets. But why the shrink? Who is clamoring for a flatter, bigger “minitab” about the size of a phone but just a hair bigger?

First, this trend is not new. It began with the HTC HD2 (and, going back further, with a few recent Archos tablets) and many Android phones have gone the “flat and big” route, creating phones that are more in line with widescreen media players than what we currently call candybar style.

Hardware designers run in packs. A few years ago, the hardware designers at LG, Samsung, and Apple all went for something they called piano black. Everything was piano black – phones, cameras, TVs, DVD players. You had some splashes of “color” in the trade dress, but glossy plastic a la iPhone 3G was all the rage.

The same thing is happening here – the running of the herd – but for a few interesting reasons. First, the 10-inch tablet market is tapped. There is nowhere to go. To build another one is folly and to many consumers to buy anything other than an iPad is moral failure.

Gadgets hold totemic significance and their shape is important to manufacturers. Shape allows for a level of differentiation that is immediately apparent to the consumer and allows the manufacturer to hide any number of sins. Chip speeds are stagnant and the physical limitations of a compact device are forcing manufacturers to rethink the size and shape of their devices.

Consumers, too, are looking for something new. The 10-inch tablet is boring and, more important (at least according to Apple) a patent violation. What better way to keep tab-like gadgets in the pipeline than to smoosh them down?

Additionally, big touchscreens are still hard to come by. With everyone focusing on glass that maxes at 10 inches and larger, manufacturers can reduce costs by hunting down smaller pieces.

In the end, the next tablet is the next tablet. There is a certain fickleness to hardware size and it’s based on fashion, manufacturing ability, and some designer’s whim. Whether we buy these things as they get bigger (or smaller) is a matter of taste and quality. Manufacturers are trying to figure us out while reducing costs and, for a while, we’re going to be saddled with some truly pocket-straining devices until the next technology comes along to replace this one.

The Tragic Triumph Of The MBAs

suits

“We’ve seen Mubarak fall,” said Salesforce’s Marc Benioff of the corporate need to focus on social networks at the recent Dreamforce conference. “We’ve seen Khadafy fall. When will the first CEO fall for the same reason?” What a fantastic comparison! Because, as we all know, dictators who brutalize, torture, and murder thousands of their own people over a period of decades are just like CEOs who miss quarterly profit targets.

Benioff isn’t a bad guy, it was just a dumb thing to say — but it’s stuck in my mind, because Salesforce, cloud-computing’s poster child, is the future, and his seems to be the voice of the zeitgeist. This feels a little like the end of an era. While I have issues with Apple’s hegemonic approach, during his career Steve Jobs repeatedly changed our sense of what was possible, and the world, by making genuinely revolutionary products. Now he’s gone. Meanwhile, Google has spent the summer laying waste to vast swathes of its product line. Google Labs, its experimental playground? Dead. Slide, bought last year for $182 million? Dead. Aardvark, bought last year for $50 million? Dead. A whole grab bag of other products and services? Dead.

And it seems that whatever survives the ongoing Mountain View bloodbath will be thoroughly monetized. Massive price hikes are on the horizon for Google’s (terrific) App Engine platform. Russell Beattie of PlusFeed reports that he’s shutting down his service because otherwise his server costs would increase by a factor of thirty. I use App Engine for my own open-source-travel-guide pet project, and my costs will apparently increase fiftyfold. (OK, that’s from a penny a day, but still.) The new pricing model is a lot like that of Salesforce’s Heroku platform. Hmmm.

Is this the right thing for Google to do? From a business perspective, hell yes. They need more focus, fewer projects, and less bureaucracy. But at the same time, they’re shutting down and/or discouraging independent and experimental projects to focus on me-too projects like Google Plus and Google Offers. Isn’t Google supposed to be a company that innovates and changes the world with its superior algorithms and scalability, rather than one that plays catch-up for the sake of profits?

Nope. That was then, this is now. With Jobs’s departure and Page’s new focus, it seems that Apple and Google are no longer primarily in the business of changing people’s lives; instead, they’re in the business of business. Marc Benioff, the voice of the zeitgeist, doesn’t actually seem to see any difference between the two.

I suspect this is pretty common among CEOs and MBAs — but most techies don’t agree at all. To us, successful businesses are a necessary means for the promulgation of revolutionary technology, not an end in and of themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge champion of free-market capitalism, and all great businesses do change the world; but there’s a big difference between doing so by intent and letting it happen as a side effect.

A famous essay from the first dot-com bust refers to what it was like for a co-founder to watch venture capitalists and MBAs take over the management of his tech company: “Like watching a group of nursery school children who’ve stolen a Boeing 747 and are now flipping all the switches trying to get it to take off.” I think I speak for many techies when I say we found that soothing, as well as funny. It reassured us that tech was different, that the suits would never be able to take over what we did and why we did it. But I’m sorry to say, it seems to me now that we underestimated them.

Image credit: Paul G, Flickr.

Baidu Looks To Leapfrog Google With Cloud-Based Mobile OS (Update)

baidu_logo

Chinese search giant Baidu is reportedly developing a cloud-based smartphone platform in attempt to dip its toes into the mobile pool. Mobile internet users in China totaled 233 million in 2010, projected to reach 957 million by 2014. For some perspective, the total population of both the European Union and the United States was approximately 800 million last year. So in China, mobile is less of a pool and more of a vast ocean.

This should be interesting.

The company is calling its platform Baidu Yi, which translates to “Easy.” Similar to the Bing integration in Mango, this OS is all about search. Smartphones that run Yi will load up a search box within seconds of turning on the phone. Other components will load in the background, but users will be able to perform a web search almost instantly. The system will also offer up to 180 GB of cloud storage space. Sounds nice — but so did webOS. Will Baidu Yi fare better?

Baidu isn’t the only Chinese company looking to get in on the OS game. Local players like Hangzhou-based Alibaba and Shenzhen-based Huawei have announced similar cloud-based platforms recently, but as far as local competition is concerned, Baidu seems unfazed. “To us, cloud computing is much more natural than to an e-commerce company or a telecom equipment maker because we have the capability to handle data, just as Google has, that’s why they’re so good at it,” said Baidu VP Wang Jing to the Financial Times.

Baidu certainly has taken a page out of the Google playbook. But just one. The current version of Yi is based on Android, but the Android you’d see in China isn’t our Android. In most cases (not Baidu’s), it’s called Ophone, a fork of Android, and it effectively removes Google from the picture. The core Android operating system is made up of a Linux kernel, licensed under GPL, with Apache middleware and user stacks. Major components of the upper layers, such as the Android Market, are Google’s to license. Chinese carriers gladly do without those core Google software products and opt to integrate their own or third-party replacements.

In other words, Android’s success in China is a bit hollow, even if it is the basis for Ophone, and now Baidu Yi. What’s more, Mr. Wang mentioned that “it is possible that we [will] launch our own operating system in the future.” Google already has big problems in China, and Android getting left behind entirely (rather than marginally) by its biggest Chinese competitor would only make things worse.

But how does Mr. Wang feel about our other hometown hero — Apple. The company has already tapped China Unicom’s 200,000 subscribers, and reportedly has plans to launch the iPhone with China Mobile, which has a user base topping 600,000. Apple only has four (non-fake) Apple stores in the country, but China is its fastest growing market in terms of sales. With those stats, it hardly seems as though Baidu Yi poses a threat.

But nothing is ever as it seems. China is both an irresistible and incredibly dangerous market for American tech companies, and Apple faces a number of obstacles within the market. For one, the Chinese government requires special wireless internet technology (TD-SCDMA) on its mobile phones. And then there’s the massive black/grey market in China for iPhones and iPads.

Baidu’s co-founder and CEO seemed to know back in March that Apple would be one of its main competitors in the mobile space. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr. Li made mention of the new OS as compared to iOS.

“Right now when you power on an iPhone, it takes 45 seconds before you can do anything,” he said. “In the future, one second, you turn on the device, and you can start using the box. That’s our mission for the future of the internet.” His plan is to build an OS that uses search as the basis for everything. “The goal is to let people become increasingly dependent on the Baidu Box.”

And that’s all we really need: to be even more dependent on our smartphones. Good work, Baidu.

Update: So it would seem that Baidu Yi has gone live. The OS features include an eBooks app called Yue, a Google-places style app called Shen Bian, Baidu-powered maps, and a music app called Ting. Check out the video after the jump to see Baidu Yi in action.

[Image credit: The Register]

[Video credit: MicGadget]


Company:
BAIDU
Launch Date:
11/10/1999
IPO:

5/8/2005, NASDAQ:BIDU

Baidu is the largest Chinese language search engines. Baidu’s mission is to provide the best way for people to find information online, including Chinese language web pages, news, images…

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Company:
APPLE
Launch Date:
1/4/1976
IPO:

1980, NASDAQ:AAPL

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer,…

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Company:
GOOGLE
Launch Date:
7/9/1998
IPO:

25/8/2004, NASDAQ:GOOG

Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of…

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