Tag Archives: iphone 4s

Patent Wars: Apple Loses To Samsung And Moto In Germany, Australia

Photo by rb3m - http://flic.kr/p/6sFFE4

In the ever-changing patent wars, somedays you are the windshield and some days you are the bug. After coming up roses Thursday, Apple finds itself on the losing side against Samsung and Motorola.

An Australian court today dismissed Apple’s request to continue the country’s ban on Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet. The ruling by the Australian High Court means the South Korean company will be able to hawk its device during the all-important Christmas buying period.

In an ironic move, the court also ordered the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant pay legal costs. Conversely, on Thursday, a French court denied Samsung’s bid to ban the iPhone 4S, ruling the smartphone maker must pay Apple’s court costs. Apple and Samsung are engaged in courtroom brawls covering some 10 nations.

Apple suffered a second patent loss Friday, this time in Germany. That nation’s court ordered an injunction against the iPhone and iPads using 3G. Motorola claimed the Apple devices infringed on a European patent regarding the “Method for Performing a Countdown Function During a Mobile-originated Transfer for a Packet Radio System.” Patent expert Florian Mueller, writing at FOSS Patents, said the patent was ruled essential for the GPRS standard, a version of 3G used widely used in Europe.

The ruling comes after a German court sided with Motorola in an earlier default judgement against Apple. The default judgement was entered after Apple failed to respond to Motorola’s complaint. Today’s court decision actually carries a penalty compared to the essentially administrative default ruling.

Although the iPhone 4S was released after Motorola filed the German lawsuit, Mueller believes Apple’s newest iPhone would also contain the offending technology. However, the actual ruling mentions only the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G.

While Apple’s next step is unknown, one potential reaction could be for the company to modify its products to remove the patented technology. The company is expected to unveil a new iPhone and iPad in early 2012.

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The iPhone’s untallied success: Pre-paid and gray market

The iPhone 4S is being hailed by pretty much everyone as a success these days, including a veritable pile-on of analysts chiming in to anticipate a fourth-quarter rise in sales for the shiny new device. But Apple is also making gains in a less brightly lit area of smartphone sales: The world of gray market devices with pre-paid service.

Small carriers offering big advantages at home

A Mission Local story on Thursday describes this as a key growth area for the iPhone that doesn’t often get the attention of launches on major new networks such as Verizon. It mentions H20, a small regional MVNO that uses AT&T’s 3G network and also offers monthly service at rates 5o percent below what the iPhone’s authorized carriers can promise, including cheap international calling, which is a winning deal for immigrant populations. H20, and others of its ilk, are seeing new customers sign on for its contract-free, prepaid service at a remarkable rate. At one general wireless and computing store in San Francisco, sign-ups for the small carrier had exceeded 10 per day, according to the store clerk.

Small carriers and MVNOs come with significant downsides: Service could be cut off if technology changes or contracts with carriers they rent tower usage from ends, and customer service can be positively atrocious. Plus, with H20 at least, there’s no way to send multi-media messages (image, voice, audio or contacts). But with monthly charges at half what you’d expect to pay on one of the big three for comparable services, it’s a trade-off many appear willing to make.

Bypassing the “new” tax

There’s also the benefit of being able to bring your own hardware, too. People can get iPhones for much cheaper than the going rate for unlocked devices on Apple’s site, either used or through less-than-legal sources, and carriers like H20 have no qualms about working with local shops that perform unlocking services to get them set up. Even if they end up paying a little more upfront for an unlocked iPhone, they save big on cheaper monthly fees. Even on larger networks, like T-Mobile’s, the practice of bringing unlocked iPhones to a network that can’t even fully support them has a lot of appeal, or at least that’s what 1 million users seem to suggest.

China’s thriving gray market

In China, the gray market is huge for the iPhone and other Apple products. For instance, half the iPads sold in the country as of October were from unauthorized sources, according to a report from Analysys International. The iPhone 4S also sparked a lot of gray market demand. When it went on sale in Hong Kong, stores were swamped with shoppers intending to resell devices, and the price soon after its launch in the U.S. was in the $2,000 U.S. range in Chinese electronics markets.

Getting its iPhone into the hands of as many customers as possible is good for Apple, even if it doesn’t necessarily happen through legitimate channels. Trends like those listed above, where users are jumping onboard the iPhone train through any means possible, eventually mean Apple will have more potential customers for its media stores. The broader potential audience can also be influenced by Apple’s halo effect, through which iOS device owners tend to buy more Macs and other Apple products.

Apple laying the groundwork for a gray future

Apple doesn’t appear to be doing much to combat its gray market success; in fact, if anything, it has taken steps to encourage off-contract business in recent years, by selling factory unlocked devices directly through its own store. These are much easier to resell on eBay or in other second-hand markets, thereby fuelling opportunities for pre-paid users. That, and the continued availability of cheaper devices like the iPhone 3GS, stand to benefit Apple more in the long run than it would appear at first glance, since they can stick around and encourage Apple’s pre-paid growth, even after their original owners are done with them.

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This Moron Shrink Says Siri Is As “Toxic Psychologically” As Drugs And Video Games

How do you know you’re reading a report from a bug-eyed, sensationalist quack? When they take the newest and hottest trend and then say, “It’s almost as bad as this other popular trend amongst godless teenagers today!”

Here’s a good case study. Over at Fox News, a psychiatrist is claiming that Siri is just as damaging psychologically to kids as “violent video games!” WHAT?!?! Heaven forfend!

The claims are being made over at Fox News’ website by Dr. Keith Ablow, an accredited graduate of the Krazy Klown School For Advanced Pseudopsychiatry. His bio describes Dr. Ablow as a “member of the Fox News Medical A-Team”; given the analogy, I can only assume this means that he is one of five sketchy doctors in an old van on the run from the authorities.

Anyway, according to Dr. Ablow, Siri is as damaging psychologically as violent video games and “some street drugs.” That last claim is just preposterous, but even the first comparison is ridiculous, because there are simply no credible studies (let alone consensus) that prove that there is a causal link between violent video games and mental illness or disorders. None. That makes Ablow’s claim that Siri is “toxic psychologically” as patently absurd as, say, Dr. Wertham’s crusade against comic books in the early 1950s. It’s the equivalent of a shrink from the 1920s telling you that this new-fangled invention “telephone” is as poisonous psychologically as that flapper jazz devil music all these kids are listening to. Totally clueless, and without any scientific basis whatsoever.

But why does Ablow think that Siri is corrupting our nation’s youth? He explains:

But I believe that personifying machines and interacting with them as quasi-beings actually dumbs down our interpersonal skills and encourages us to treat other people like machines. Ultimately, it diminishes our ability to empathize with one another, because we’ve been chatting up a non-existent person and can get used to considering real people as essentially non-existent, too.

To the extent that people become “attached” to Siri and “rely” on Siri and think Siri is “funny,” they are just a tiny, tiny bit less likely to value a friend’s responsiveness, or a colleague’s help or even to appreciate the nuances in tone of voice that real humans use to convey emotion and communicate with one another.

No. You’re a moron. Prove it.

This is just the same old technophobic crap with a new slathering of paranoia. All Ablow is saying is what numerous doddering old fuddies with and without medical degrees have been saying for a century: technology somehow makes us less capable of communicating with each other, not more. They said it about telephones, they said it about radio, they said it about television, they said it about computers, and now they are saying it about smartphones. But guess what? Thanks to the amazing advances in technology over the last century, the average person on this planet is more in touch with his fellow man than at any point in history.

You say that every time we interact with a machine, we empathize with our fellow humans less? How do you explain millions of people taking to Twitter to support Egyptian protesters, or the Syrian revolution, or the Occupy Movement? I have friends I deeply care about, who have changed the way I look at the world, whom I’ve never met. How does being in touch with thousands of people on a daily basis from a practically infinite array of belief systems and cultural backgrounds narrow my understanding of the human condition? How does being an email, text message, or phone call away from 1/3rds of the world’s population at any given moment make me less of a humanist than some Nebraskan pig mucker from the 1860s who lives alone with his wife fifty miles from the nearest town?

Sorry, Doc. Here’s the truth: because you’re afraid of technology, it’s you who is less capable of understanding and empathizing with other human beings, not me. Which, come to think of it, might be why you’re writing for Fox News in the first place.

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Apple Will Sell A Crazy 30 Million iPhones This Quarter [Analyst]

Photo/Steve Rhodes - http://flic.kr/p/8dfETZ

Although AT&T provided few details on how many iPhones the carrier sold this quarter, several analysts are upping their estimates based on consensus that Apple will report record-breaking sales. The Apple smartphone has “general strength across the board” with sales hovering around 30 million units for the three-month period.

Maynard Um, analyst with UBS Equity Research, Wednesday night raised his iPhone sales estimate to 30 million for the holiday period, up from his previous 28 million forecast. “We believe that there is a general strength across the board for iPhone demand,” he told investors.

Both Sterne Agee’s Shaw Wu and J.P. Morgan increased their iPhone sales estimates to 28 million. Wu noted the iPhone strength is spread across the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, as well as the newer iPhone 4S. Wednesday, AT&T announced it was on track to sell more than 6.1 million smartphones during the fourth quarter, smashing its previous high-water mark of 6 million. The carrier sold more than 1 million iPhone 4S handsets during the first five days of its availability. Apple sold 4 million iPhone 4S units in the first three days, more than double that of the 2010 launch of the iPhone 4.

While demand for the iPhone is still going strong, analysts revised slightly downward their expectations for the iPad. Um expects Apple will sell 12 million tablets, while J.P. Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz expects iPad sales will fall to 13 million, down from his previously projected 13.3 million. Wu appears to see the sharpest decline, writing Apple could sell 13.5 million iPads, down from 15 million.

The reason for the lower expectations for the iPad’s quarterly sales is economic pressure. “As consumer wallet constraints persist, some may not be able to buy multiple iProducts simultaneously and may be opting for one larger ticket item with more functionality,” Um reasons.

The increase in iPhone expectations should not come as a surprise. Along with the much-heralded Siri, the iPhone 4S offers razor sharp photography and a third carrier – Sprint. In addition, lowering the iPhone 4 price to $99 enabled more iPhone 3GS owners to upgrade, broadening demand for the iconic handset. In my family, two people have already joined the iPhone camp via the lower iPhone 4 pricing.

As for the slump in iPad demand, it could be a case of “older” technology combined with talk of an iPad 3 appearing in early 2012. The iPad 2 has been around for some time, enough for its newness to start wearing thin. Apple may not want to delay that introduction, learning a lesson from the slump of iPhone 4 handsets we saw as consumers waited for the “iPhone 5.”

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French court says no to iPhone 4S ban

Apple will be able to continue selling the iPhone 4S in France unimpeded, according to a court decision on Thursday. The Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris has denied a request by Samsung to secure a preliminary injunction against the sale of the 4S.

The ruling was reported by Le Figaro‘s Benjamin Ferran (hat tip to FOSS Patents), who tweeted the results while in attendance at the hearing. Ferran said that the court had rejected Samsung’s request because it seemed a “disproportionate” measure, given the facts of the case. In addition to rejecting the ban, the court also ordered Samsung to pay Apple’s legal fees, in the amount of 100,000€ (around $134,090).

This is definitely a setback for Samsung, which has recently racked up a number of small victories in its ongoing legal battles with Apple, including the rejection of an Apple motion for a U.S. ban on some of its products last week and the reversal of an injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia. Next up in Europe, Samsung and Apple will participate in a second hearing on Dec. 16 to determine the validity of an iPhone 4S injunction request in Italy.

Samsung and Apple are also both being looked into by the European Commission to determine whether or not they are using their held patents in a way that might constitute anticompetitive behavior. No doubt both the case in France and the one in Italy will be looked at closely as part of that investigation.

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AT&T cites Apple’s iPhone as driver for record smartphone sales

AT&T said on Wednesday it expects to break its record for smartphones sold during a single quarter in the fourth quarter of 2011, based in part on the success of Apple’s iPhone 4S, which prompted a very high number of upgrades among its users.

For the fourth quarter of 2011, AT&T has already seen around 6 million smartphones sold: already near its previous record of 6.1 million smartphones during a single quarter. With only a month left to go in the fourth quarter (December, one of the busiest shopping months of the year for smartphones), it definitely isn’t a case of counting chickens before they hatch to say AT&T will pass the 6.1 million mark this time around.

In its official statement, AT&T singled out the iPhone 4S when talking about how it managed such strong smartphone sales, calling attention to its earlier announcement of more than 1 million iPhone 4S handsets activated in the first five days of its availability. It also said iPhone 4S sales “remain strong” for the carrier, two months after its initial release in the U.S. A lot of those sales come from a very high number of handset upgrades from AT&T customers who were eagerly awaiting new hardware according to AT&T, so pent-up demand resulting from Apple releasing this year’s iPhone upgrade later than usual could have helped boost sales even more than with previous launches.

AT&T’s account of strong iPhone 4S sales suggests analyst predictions of a very strong quarter for Apple’s smartphone are right on track.

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Why Siri Can’t Find Abortion Clinics

This week, a lot was made in the news about Siri’s supposed pro-life leanings. Essentially, a bunch of people got upset because Siri couldn’t find a local abortion clinic, even though abortion clinics don’t actually call themselves that. Apple denied that Siri had any pro-life leanings whatsoever, saying instead the service was in “beta.”

So what really happened? Well, Apple just learned its first lesson about search: you’re held responsible when the information people are expecting to see doesn’t show up in a search query, even if that information is only tangentially related to the actual words in the query. It’s a headache Google’s been dealing with for almost a decade.

Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land explains:

First, Siri doesn’t have answers to anything itself. It’s what we call a “meta search engine,” which is a service that sends your query off to other search engines.

Siri’s a smart meta search engine, in that it tries to search for things even though you might not have said the exact words needed to perform your search. For example, it’s been taught to understand that teeth are related to dentists, so that if you say “my tooth hurts,” it knows to look for dentists.

Unfortunately, the same thing also makes it an incredibly dumb search engine. If it doesn’t find a connection, it has a tendency to not search at all.

When I searched for condoms, Siri understood those are something sold in drug stores. That’s why it came back with that listing of drug stores. It know that condoms = drug stores.

It doesn’t know that Plan B is the brand name of an emergency contraception drug. Similarly, while it does know that Tylenol is a drug, and so gives me matches for drug stores, it doesn’t know that acetaminophen is the chemical name of Tylenol. As a result, I get nothing:

In other words, Siri’s having something of an uncanny valley problem. It’s only as smart as the search engines it is linked to like Wolfram Alpha and Yelp, but because the voice recognition is so good and the way Siri interacts with you is so lifelike, people expect her to be as smart as a person… even if she isn’t one.

So when Apple says “Siri is a beta”, they mean it. Just like Google had to do, Apple needs to learn from experience and program Siri to understand what results to give for things like “I’ve been raped” or “I want to buy some rubbers.” Give it time, and it will, but just because Apple hasn’t figured out every possible question users can ask Siri yet doesn’t mean they’ve got an axe to grind against various philosophies, creeds, races and religions.

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