Your broadband Internet connection may get a little bit more expensive if the FCC goes ahead with a plan to tax it. Right now, the FCC has asked for comment on several different proposals designed to raise money for the Connect America Fund, a fund used to bring broadband access to rural Americans, and a tax is among the proposals.
AT&T, Sprint, and Google have all supported the tax, likely because it would increase their revenues. The tax would be similar to the fee already paid on landlines and cellular phones. This fee goes to the Universal Service Fund, a fund that was designed to ensure every person in America had access to phone service.
"Today we propose three goals for contribution reform: efficiency, fairness, and sustainability," Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, said. "And we underscore that any reforms to the contribution system must safeguard core Commission objectives, including the promotion of broadband innovation, investment, and adoption."
The FCC hasn't offered any sort of definitive evidence that it plans to move forward with the tax. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the FCC would make such a massive overhaul just a few months before the election in November. If you oppose this tax, you might start writing letters. One thing is clear, keep your eye on the FCC and your Internet bill.
The OnLive news from last week is slowly sinking in, but it seems Redmond-based company, Microsoft, are looking to grab some developers from the mass layoffs of OnLive. Microsoft explain in a description listed on events site, EventBrite:
We are eager to speak to individuals and teams affected by the OnLive transition. With the stunning success of Xbox/Kinect and the accelerated growth of this business, we are looking to add key players who want to make a real impact in creating groundbreaking new products and services.
The positions are open in Mountain View, and Microsoft's HQ in Redmond, Washington. Considering Microsoft found OnLive a "potential acquisition target" back in August of 2010, this news is definitely interesting. It looks like Microsoft sat back, let the chips fall, and will now benefit by treating some people better by offering them some great jobs.
I'm sure most of our readers have been following the legal proceedings in the Apple v Samsung lawsuit. Yesterday, Apple was awarded just over $1 billion in damages for Samsung willfully infringing on their patents. However, Apple's Tim Cook says in a memo to employees that it wasn't about the money, it was "about values."
The memo, sent to Apple corporate employees, is an interesting read:
Today was an important day for Apple and for innovators everywhere.
Many of you have been closely following the trial against Samsung in San Jose for the past few weeks. We chose legal action very reluctantly and only after repeatedly asking Samsung to stop copying our work. For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money. It's about values. We value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. And we do this to delight our customers, not for competitors to flagrantly copy.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the jury who invested their time in listening to our story. We were thrilled to finally have the opportunity to tell it. The mountain of evidence presented during the trial showed that Samsung's copying went far deeper than we knew.
The jury has now spoken. We applaud them for finding Samsung's behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn't right.
I am very proud of the work that each of you do.
(continued in full story)
I woke up this morning to my wife sitting across from me asking "did you hear about the Apple vs. Samsung case? Apple won". I immediately grabbed my Galaxy Note (wink) and read up on it. Today is a dark day for technology, my dear readers.
The jury on the case found that Samsung were guilty on infringing six out of the seven Apple patents, with the results of this pushing Samsung to pay just over $1 billion in damages to Apple. On Samsung's side, the jury ruled that Apple did not infringe on Samsung's patents with their iPhone 3G and 3GS phones, and have awarded Samsung absolutely nothing in damages.
The jury ruled that Samsung infringed on Apple's '381 bounceback patent, with all of their products in question, all 21 of them. In regards to the '915 patent on pinch-to-zoom, the jury ruled that all but three of Samsung's device infringed on the patent, and even worse, found that Samsung's executives either knew, or should have known their products were indeed infringing on the said patents.
We may just have a piece of good news here for users of the Android Facebook app. As most of you know, the thing sucks. I'm not going to use pretty language like "subpar" or other sanitized language when describing it. Facebook updated the iOS version of the app with a completely rewritten version that is faster, more stable, and generally better than the previous iteration--and the previous iteration was still better than the current Android app.
Facebook management has come to realize just how bad the Android app is and is working on getting their employees to fix it. But, if they don't use it, they won't really know just how bad it is or where the problems are. This is where Facebook's new "policy" comes into play. I say "policy" as it's not an official policy, rather a suggestion (with some coercion).
Facebook is suggesting employees, and has even ordered a few, to give up their iPhone and use an Android phone and the Facebook app all day, every day. Hopefully if they are stuck with the terrible app, they will become more interested in fixing it up to where it is at least competitive with the iOS version.
Android users, rejoice! Facebook appears to finally be taking their Android app seriously. Now we will just have to wait for an update.
Advertising is never going to go away. If it did, how would we know where to go to buy a hamburger or who to vote for in the next election? More importantly, if advertising were to go away, users would end up paying quite a bit of money in order to support creating the content that they have come to love.
That's why Sony, and many other companies, are working on making advertising more personal and entertaining. The latest development by Sony is described by their patent which describes a "commercial overlaid on frames of the television program allowing the user to play the game while the television program is displayed."
A more interesting portion of the patent describes how different input devices can be used, including a microphone on the device. This would allow users to vocalize whether they wanted an action or romantic ad. Or, the microphone could be used as described in the image above, allowing a user to shout out a brand name to continue watching.
According to analyst firm ABI Research, tablet shipments are expected to exceed 100 million units for this year, with this number led by the most popular of all, Apple's iPad. The quarter from April to June is said to have set a new record, seeing 25 million units shipped, with 36% growth from the first quarter, and a 77% jump from the same quarter of 2011.
Apple dominates these shipments, where their iPad makes up 69% of tablet sales in Q2, with other competitors seeing just modest gains. Samsung's tablets have reportedly grown by 8.1%, but ASUS only saw a 4% increase. ABI analyst, Jeff Orr says:
Most impressive about Apple's 17.0 million tablet shipments in 2Q'2012 was it nearly matched 2010 total worldwide shipments of 17.3 million for all vendors.
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?