Apple and Samsung may be at each others throats in the US courts, but in South Korea, a court has ruled that Samsung didn't violate on Apple's iPhone design. A judge at the Seoul Central District Court said:
There are lots of external design similarities between the iPhone and Galaxy S, such as rounded corners and large screens ... but these similarities had been documented in previous products. Given that it's very limited to make big design changes in touch-screen based mobile products in general ... and the defendant (Samsung) differentiated its products with three buttons in the front and adopted different designs in camera and (on the) side, the two products have a different look.
The judge also cited that it is difficult to say that consumers would confuse the iPhone with the Galaxy, considering they both sport completely different logos on the back of each model. Consumers also factor in operating systems, brand, applications, price and services when buying a smartphone.
This week, Galaxy device maker, Samsung, opened their first retail "experience" store in Sydney, Australia. The design of the store is quite swish, featuring the company's blue look, right down to the t-shirts on its employees backs.
There's a dedicated customer support desk that is run by "Samsung Smart Tutors", that mimics Apple's Genius Bar. There's also a group demonstration bar, displays, and more products than you can find stars in a... galaxy.
Some have said that Samsung's new store looks too much like an Apple Store, but Samsung's corporate color is blue. Last time I checked, Apple haven't got the patent on the color blue. As for the design of the store itself, there's only so many ways a store can be laid out when showing off smart devices, too.
After 28 years in business, Wipeout creators, Studio Liverpool, have been closed by their parent company, Sony. Studio Liverpool had no prior warning this was going to happen, and this now means that any game in development has been cancelled, with two rumored titles being worked on for the upcoming PlayStation 4.
The two games are reportedly Wipeout, which has been said to be in development over the last 18 months or so, as well as another title, which would've been a "Splinter Cell style game", reports Eurogamer. Sony will continue to retain the rights to Wipeout, but the game's long-term future is currently unknown.
Everyone mostly hears about movie and music piracy, thanks in part to the efforts of the RIAA and MPAA to spread awareness. There's not a group of app developers, at least not yet, lobbying the government to attack this problem, so it's rather interesting that the government has taken the initiative to attack app piracy.
The US government, through the use of the FBI and seizure warrants, has smacked down three different app piracy sites in one swoop. The sites in question are applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com and now visiting any of these three sites gives you the message above. It likely also logs your IP address as a potential pirate.
As per the standard operating procedure for sites such as these, the servers were located overseas so this take down required cooperation between the FBI and foreign law enforcement. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breur explains just why this is such a growing problem for the United States:
Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation's economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.
A logo, not that big of a deal, right? Just come up with something creative at the start of your company and continue using it. Well, that wasn't good enough for Microsoft. No, for the first time in 25 years, they've decided to change their logo and the new logo makes much more sense than the old one. Take a look:
It's been 25 years since we've updated the Microsoft logo and now is the perfect time for a change. This is an incredibly exciting year for Microsoft as we prepare to release new versions of nearly all of our products. From Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8 to Xbox services to the next version of Office, you will see a common look and feel across these products providing a familiar and seamless experience on PCs, phones, tablets and TVs. This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning.
The whole push with Windows 8 is to maintain a similar UI that features a common look and feel across desktops, tablets, and smartphones and this logo extends this idea. It appears to draw heavily from the updated UI that is being used in Windows 8: that UI that Microsoft no longer calls "Metro."
The four different colors represent Microsoft's portability of products: blue represents Windows, orange represents office, green represents Xbox, and yellow likely represents its enterprise products. The change came abou
OnLive were in worse shape than previously thought, owed up to $40 million and were on the verge of an imminent shutdown
We reported about the going-ons of streaming game service OnLive over the weekend, but it looks as though the situation was much worse with the company, reports the Mercury News. According to Joel Weinberg, CEO of Insolvency Services Group, OnLive owed between $30 and $40 million to various creditors, and didn't have much cash on-hand to pay them. The company had failed to find a buyer, and was facing the stark reality of a complete shutdown of their services. Weinberg adds:
It was a company that was in dire straits. It only had days to live in terms of cash flow and the like. Something had to be done immediately or there would have been a hard shutdown, which would have been a disaster.
Insolvency Services Group are the assignee in OnLive's "assignment for the benefit of creditors", which is an alternative to bankruptcy that operates under state law. OnLive's assets were transferred to the insolvency group, who who use them to partially pay OnLive's outstanding debts.
I got a chance to run around the Flash Memory Summit 2012 today and managed to find this gem among the rest of the rather non-interesting happenings. Western Digital has decided that they don't want to be left behind the times and are now looking to hire a team of solid-state drive engineers to build them a product.
I went in for a chat and managed to snag the person in charge of staffing the new solid-state department. We chatted for a little while about why they are out hiring engineers when they had already acquired a company. The response actually makes really good sense.
The reasoning behind Western Digital hiring a new team of engineers is rather simple in design, but not always the way things are done as it can be tough on the bottom line. The basic reasoning behind it is so that the engineers can make their own mistakes rather than cleaning up the ones made by another team.
This will allow them to build a solid-state drive from the ground up, rather than patching and upgrading the ones that other engineers have already built. This move could allow Western Digital to blow us away when they release their first SSD.
The Department of Justice now have their sites set on some fresh targets: pirated Android apps. The DoJ, along with Dutch and French law enforcement, the FBI have seized three popular Android app sharing sites, Appbucket, Snappzmarket and Applanet. They've issued a press release, stating that they're cracking down on the piracy of copyrighted works:
"Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works - including popular apps - is a top priority of the Criminal Division," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. "Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation's economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it."
"Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings. These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy. We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate," said U.S. Attorney Yates.
It looks like Megaupload founder, Kim Dotcom, won't be extradited to the United States anytime soon, with the New Zealand high court ruling that the US must now hand over all evidence in its case against Dotcom before any extradition can happen.
New Zealand Justice Helen Winkelmann ruled without a review of the evidence against him, Dotcom would be "significantly constrained" defending himself, while giving the US Department of Justice a large advantage prosecuting him. Ira Rothken, Megaupload's lawyer, told Wired:
Our expectation is that that the United States through the Crown lawyers will appeal the judgment and further delay the extradition hearing.
Dotcom's legal team also haven't received any payment since he was arrested, and up until now, the Megaupload founder has amassed $2 million in legal fees. Dotcom's lawyers are asking for that amount to be released, with a further $2 million to cover legal fees in the future. Dotcom has also asked the court to release an $8 million government bond so that he can borrow against it, as well as asking permission to sell his luxury cars.
Samsung have announced that they are set to invest around $4 billion overhauling its chip manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas. The South Korean company has plans to renovate the plant's current production line in order to boost system chip production.
The $4 billion investment follows news of a new chip plant back home for Samsung, where they'll spend $1.98 billion in South Korea building a new plant. But, the news brings a surprise, as the Texas-based plant is where most of the A-series chips that are baked into Apple's iPhone's and iPad's are produced. This means that the expansion of the plant might benefit Apple, too.
The expansion of the Texas plant should also provide more jobs, but how many would be created is unclear at the moment.
It looks like T-Mobile is not messing around anymore, with reports of a leaked document from T-Mobile showing that the telco coon soon be offering unlimited data plans starting early next month. T-Mobile currently offer "unlimited" data plans, but they're throttled in various ways.
This new "Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data" plan is completely unthrottled, uncalled and sports truly unlimited data for just $30, or $20, depending on whether you put it on a Classic, or Value Plan, respectively. Considering the "Unlimited Plus - 2GB" plan costs $10 less, and only comes with 2GB, it is truly a great offer. The 2GB offer gets it plans shaped to 60 kbps download, and 150 kbps upload once the 2GB cap is hit.
If you mix and match an unlocked Galaxy Nexus from Google's Play store, with one of these unlimited plans, you could be in for the data ride of your life. Now I just have to move my family over to the US where I can enjoy these super-amazing plans.
Bitcoin lovers are going to find this news heartwarming, where during an IRC chat with BitInstant co-founder, Charlie Shrem, it has been revealed that his company are 6-8 weeks away from launching a Bitcoin-funded international debit/credit card that will be issued by two yet unnamed major banks. One of them will be international, with the other domestic.
The Bitcoin-funded card will act like any normal debit or credit card account, and should be accepted wherever MasterCard is accepted, which is virtually anywhere. The first 1,000 Bitcoin debit/credit cards will be issued for free, but after the first 1,000, the cards will set you back around $10 per card.
Shrem also revealed that each card will sport a QR code on the front that can be scanned to complete transactions that are under $1,000 and a printed address on the rear featuring the user's Bitcoin Address. Future Bitcoin-funded card owners should expect to pay a 1% fee to fund the card, and a $1.50 ATM withdrawal fee. What are your thoughts on the Bitcoin-funded future of debit and credit cards?
Matthew Inman, or as he's known online as "The Oatmeal", has reached his $850,000 goal where it would save a project that would see the building of a museum to honor the great Nikola Tesla. We reported on it a few days ago, but the goal has been met and will go ahead!
Better yet, the state of New York has promised to match Inman's raise, which will double the whatever is raised. At the time of writing, the funding has reached $896,474. With 39 days left, we could be looking at million raised, and then doubled by the state of New York.
The single biggest contribution was an astounding $33,000 which pushed the fundraising past its required $850,000 mark. The site has noted that even with $1.7 million raised, it won't be enough to build an actual museum/science center but would "effectively put the property into the right hands so it can eventually be renovated into something fitting for one of the greatest inventors of our time."
We know HTC are struggling, as the competition from Samsung and Apple not slowing down, it seems that HTC can't release a product that really sticks with consumers. My first Android-based product was a HTC Desire, so I'm fond of the company.
But, we've seen the phone maker go from one bad report to another, with recent financial reports showing extremely low profit margins across more than one sector, where they were forced to sell off 50% of their share in Beats Audio just so they could meet some financial obligations. The company also took a $40 million arrow to the knee from the OnLive restructuring, where they invested the money in February of last year.
The big news here is that Taiwan Central Bank have proposed a bailout in an effort to save the struggling company, and we know that when the word "bank" and "bailout" are used, there's trouble brewing. HTC is still profitable, but we're not seeing anywhere near the numbers that rival Samsung are making, and I think right now HTC could all but dream of the numbers Apple are pulling off. What do you think? Are we looking at the beginning of the end of HTC?
We heard about Google's Play store gift cards a few days ago, but at the time, nothing was official. Now, the time has come where the Mountain View-based company has come clean, and officially announced the availability of the Google Play gift cards.
They'll be made available in three denominations, $10, $25, and $50 and should arrive at Target, RadioShack and GameStop retail stores across the United States in the coming weeks. As for availability outside of the US, Google have not hinted at this just yet.
But, they have said that they'll be made available through Walmart.com later on this month, but not at the brick and mortar Walmart stores for now. The gift cards can be used to purchase anything from the Google Play store, which includes music, books, movies, apps and more.
Nokia is doing its best to hang in the smartphone market and has placed a large bet on Windows Phone. Instead of investing in Android like many of Nokia's competitor's did, they opted to stick with Microsoft's Windows Phone. And while they have the largest market share of Windows Phone phones, their overall market share is still really low.
As you can see in the graph above, total Windows Phone sales increased for nearly every manufacturer as the market grew, but Nokia managed to pull way away from the competition with their Nokia Lumia line of Windows Phone. This resulted in lower market shares for the other companies, such as Samsung dropping from 23 to 13 percent or HTC dropping from 44 to 21 percent.
However, in the US market, HTC is still the leader with 36 percent of the market. Nokia holds a close second at 32 percent and Samsung is in third with 26 percent. Nokia didn't launch a phone in the United States until January and you can see how much their sales took off between then and July. Localytics explains how Microsoft has a partner in Nokia:
Rather than relying on partners like Samsung, who is heavily invested in expanding Android's dominance, Microsoft has in Nokia a partner with as much riding on mobile Windows success as the Redmond-based software giant.
Microsoft and Nokia are holding a joint press conference on September 5, at which it is suspected they will jointly launch Windows Phone 8 and a new line of Lumia phones.
Billionaire, early Facebook investor and board member, Peter Thiel, dumps a bunch of his Facebook shares
Peter Thiel is a lot of things, a billionaire, an early Facebook investor, and board member of the social network, and to add to that, he's a little richer thanks to dumping a tonne of his shares in Facebook. Forbes is reporting that Thiel sold the majority of the shares in Facebook under his name last week, citing a financial document filed on Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Thiel, with his venture capital firm, Founders Fund, sold close to 20.1 million shares late last week, which represent 72% of the shares voted by Thiel. Thiel is the first investor in Facebook who has dumped this amount of shares, and it should put shivers down the spines of any investors in the social network. Facebook shares have absolutely tanked since they first went public, dipping below $19, or under half their initial opening price of $38 per share.
PayPal has enjoyed its side of the mobile payments deal lately, but landing a client like McDonald's would definitely be a great move. Reuters is reporting that PayPal are in the early stages of a mobile payments deal with McDonald's Corp, the world's biggest hamburger chain.
McDonald's have been testing out PayPal at 30 of their restaurants in France, and also used the service earlier this year at their franchisee conference in Orlando, Florida. A McDonalds spokeswoman has confirmed the France tests, and said that the PayPal-based demonstration at their conference was part of a booth that features "technology coming within the next 24 months or so".
McDonald's France test included being able to order food on smart devices through a McDonald's mobile application, or online, where you'd pay with PayPal. PayPal with McDonald's would make it even easier to place your order, and pick it up, as you'd be able to cut lines in the restaurant itself. Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities has said that "if they can shave 10 seconds off wait times, same-store sales could go up a lot".
We know that Apple's iPhone is a phenomenon, but just how far does it go? We reported yesterday that Apple's stock reached an all-time high of $648.11, but even today they've reached another all-time high of $665.15. How do they compare against another juggernaut, such as Microsoft? Forbes reports that Apple's iPhone sales are now worth more than all of Microsoft:
One Apple product, something that didn't exist five years ago, has higher sales than everything Microsoft has to offer. More than Windows, Office, Xbox, Bing, Windows Phone, and every other product that Microsoft has created since 1975. In the quarter ended March 31, 2012, iPhone had sales of $22.7 billion; Microsoft Corporation, $17.4 billion.
Defining the word "worth" when using it in this piece, doesn't really equate to iPhone beats Microsoft, but it's close. Apple's sales of the iPhone are seriously huge, and they eclipse everything that Microsoft does, even when you combine multiple parts of the Redmond-based company's business.
It looks like HTC are wanting some of that sweet enterprise market with their latest investment in US-based enterprise platform firm, Magnet Systems. The device maker has invested $35.4 million in the company, hoping to enhance service offerings to mobile enterprise customers, reports Reuters. HTC said in a statement on Monday:
The investment will bring social, mobile, and cloud capabilities to HTC's portfolio of service offerings to its mobile enterprise customers.
Magnet Systems is based in Silicon Valley, and are a platform builder of next-generation enterprise applications that boost the development and delivery of mobile enterprise applications, says HTC.
Judge Alsup, the judge presiding over the Oracle v Google lawsuit has decided that Google's disclosure, in response to his August 7 mandate, did not comply. As such, he has reissued the mandate with a few clarifications and has given Google until noon on August 24 to comply. He has also instructed Oracle to update its disclosure if the clarified mandate brings to light any new people that should be disclosed.
The August 7 order was not limited to authors "paid...to report or comment" or to "quid pro quo" situations. Rather, the order was designed to bring to light authors whose statements about the issues in the case might have been influenced by the receipt of money from Google or Oracle. For example, Oracle has disclosed that it retained a blogger as a consultant. Even though the payment was for consulting work, the payment might have influenced the blogger's reports on issues in the civil action. Just as a treatise on the law may influence the courts, public commentary that purports to be independent may have an influence on the courts and/or their staff if only in subtle ways. If a treatise author or blogger is paid by a litigant, should not that relationship be known?
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