A couple of weeks ago a jury agreed with Apple in their latest lawsuit against Samsung, awarding Apple over $1 billion supporting its claim that Samsung infringed on their patents in the design of eight Samsung mobile phones and one tablet. But, there is method to Apple’s madness, and it isn’t putting Samsung out of business.
What this verdict does give Apple is the upper hand in “negotiations” that are being conducted through the courts all over the world. Apple’s opponents include five of their largest competitors in the global war for smartphone and tablet dominance. It’s not just Apple claiming patent violations. Most of the mobile behemoths are fighting amongst themselves over license agreements.
Apple big beef with its device-making rivals like Samsung, it that they use the Android operating system that Google gives away for free. According to Bloomberg Industries, Android accounts for about 60 percent of the mobile market, three times as large as Apple’s iOS. The big prize Apple has its sights on is having the dominant operating system in the device market. The problem many consumers, app designers and device manufacturers should have with Apple’s OS is that it’s a closed-garden operating system while Google’s (and Microsoft’s) is an open system. This means that Apple controls everything. (This was a point that Steve Jobs was always fanatical about.)
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh will probably deny a request by Samsung to throw out the verdict. Samsung’s lawyers will file an appeal in a higher court.
Koh will still have to decide whether to issue an injunction blocking the sale in the U.S. of the nine Samsung devices in the latest lawsuit. If she decides in favor of Apple, Samsung will have to make some design changes, eliminating the offending features or pull them from the market. Samsung probably won’t expend too much effort on this since the nine devices are older ones, and they can still sell them outside the U.S. The hit to their bottom line should be minimal.
Once the competitors get some legal satisfaction, they’ll make their financial deals over supplying products and components to one another. Even Apple will play nice. (Apple is Samsung’s biggest customer for mobile-device components).In the meantime, the companies are still doing business as usual with one another while they keep their lawyers busy in court.
Telecom companies and consumers aren’t going to put up with a clearing out of the competition by Apple. Many of us like Android devices like Samsung’s, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS is a welcome addition to the competition. Bottom line: what ultimately happens from all this bickering is up to us.
Google kicked off its annual Google I/O developer keynote in a big way Wednesday by announcing a new version of the Android operating system, a new tablet, a media streamer, and Google+ updates, along with news on the company's Project Glass. We don’t have much in the way of details right now, but here is what we know so far:
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Jelly Bean is the next update to the Android OS (Given the revision number 4.1 versus the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich release of a couple of months ago.). Project Butter is the first phase of Google's attempt to improve Android's performance. With Project Butter, scrolling and swiping animations should be smoother than they are on older Android versions.
Jelly Bean uses a new search interface its calling "cards" to make it easier to read and digest certain types of information. As an example, if you search for the weather forecast, search cards will provide an attractive display that shows the weather conditions, temperature, and forecast in a Siri-like display.
Search cards can show things like answers to questions and image search results. It also works with Android's voice search feature.
Other Jelly Bean 4.1 improvements include an upgraded camera app and the ability to send photos and videos from one phone to another via Google Beam.
Google began its keynote address with some figures on Android activations. So far, it’s hardware partners have sold in excess of 400 million Android-based devices, and that number is increasing with more than 1 million Android phone or tablet activations every day. At last year’s Google I/O, the company announced that 100 million Android devices had shipped so far.
We have a lot more information to come, so stay tuned!
The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S3 has been an interesting one to watch. All the pre-market speculation and hype have rivaled what always ushers in a new Apple. Samsung is the leader in global smartphone sales, and, with the arrival of their Galaxy S3, they’ve proven they can create a device that is a serious Apple contender.
Let’s take an initial look at the Galaxy S3, and see if it lives up to the buzz.
The Galaxy S3 comes in two colors: marble white and “Pebble Blue” (although the blue has a distinctly blue-gray look). Its rounded-edges and HyperGlaze polycarbonate backing enhances the smooth (but not slick) feeling of having it in your hand. The Galaxy S3 is not a cheap-feeling phone. It's got a really solid Gorilla Glass 2 front, a well-packaged interior and a robust battery cover.
Samsung increased the screen size from the Galaxy S 2 ’s 4.3 to 4.8in for the S3. Its dimensions - 70 x 8.9 x 136mm - make it very slim. It weighs in at 132g, less than the Apple iPhone 4S. Compared to the weight of the One X, it’s almost identical. Overall, the S3 is nice to hold. Samsung has created a large device that doesn’t feel like one.
The display is a superb Super AMOLED with a 720x1280 resolution - identical to the HTC One X. The contrast is excellent and the screen looks very bright. Whites are more luminous. Animations look clean and crisp. You hardly notice the use of PenTile array technology.
On the downside, the auto-brightness setting makes for awkward transitions. The screen will notably dim and then brighten again despite there being no change in external lighting. The screen is readable in bright light, although not great in direct sunlight.
It’s nice to see a raised rather than recessed physical home button, though its short-and-wide, making it a bit more difficult to consistently activate. It might take some getting used to.
Sitting on either side of the home button are capacitive touch buttons for the menu and back functions. These are very sensitive. You might find yourself frequently backing out of apps by accident.
You can tell that Samsung really focused on optimizing the Galaxy S3 for performance.
The North American version of the device features a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC and 2GB of RAM. These specs ensure that the S3 will be LTE-compatible. By contrast, the international S3 has a quad-core Exynos processor and 1GB of RAM. Storage wise, there are 16GB and 32GB models available. Word has it that there’s a 64GB on its way.
It remains to be seen how performance is affected by the extra gigabyte of RAM. Samsung says that the extra memory won’t affect battery life. In a perfect world, more storage will improve app performance, load times and overall multitasking, but not draw a lot of juice.
While the Adreno 225 GPU inside the Snapdragon S4 SoC trails that of the Mali-400 that powers the international Galaxy S3’s Mali-400, CPU-based performance is still incredible. Single-threaded performance is a vast improvement over the Cortex-A9 of the quad-core Exynos 4212. The sacrifice is gaming performance.
Turn on the screen and swipe through the seven home screens. You’ll find that the swiping action is smooth in a way that no other Android handset has been able to achieve. Just looking at overall performance, Galaxy S3 is comparable to HTC One X, with the exception of a perceptible improvement to the smoothness of Android operation on the Galaxy S3.
The camera system has an 8MP rear lens as well as a front-facing camera. From a subjective viewpoint, the rear lens took some nice pictures, but that’s just an initial impression. There’s a burst mode and a “best picture” function that will nominate what the software regards as the “best shot” from a group. Video can be taken at 1080p and the macro functions were very impressive.
The Android 4.0.4 with TouchWIZ Nature UX software makes the camera easy to operate with Android. For instance, it’s very cool when you can swipe your palm over the screen to take a screenshot.
It’s too bad there isn’t a dedicated camera shutter button. Still, the interface is nicely updated and shutter performance is significantly improved.
The Snapdragon S4 SoC is a very efficient chip and based on early tests of the international version, Samsung has done a great job designing in features that maximize battery life. The Galaxy S3’s hefty 2100mAh battery is impressive. The North American Galaxy S3 should stay charged longer than the European quad-core Exynos processor, but it hasn’t lived up to the claims that it has double the life of the One X battery. In fact, we found the two to be almost identical. Take note that the Galaxy S3 has a removable battery. The HTC One X does not.
This version of S Voice is supposed to allow for greater voice control than previous iterations, but in testing, its performance was patchy. For instance, waking up the phone using spoken commands didn’t always work.
The Smart Stay function allows you to continuously read a screen without worrying about the backlight dimming. This is possible because of the impressive front camera.
A motion control feature allows you to automatically dial your contacts by raising the phone to your ear. Neither the Smart Stay nor the motion control functions were enabled by default, so you’ll have to dig through the settings on your phone.
Polaris Office is a nice feature for business users. It allows you to open Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your phone.
Well done, Samsung. Despite the company’s pre-market theme describing a design “inspired by nature”, they’ve created a functional and fun smartphone that may have attracted a long-term following.
Serious competition among smartphone makers is always good for us users. It gives us more choices. Samsung’s Galaxy S3, the HTC One X and even the HTC One S might mean you’ll have a tough time going with only one new smartphone.
It’s nice to know that regardless of carrier or network speed, all S3 models are identical on the outside. The difference is on the inside. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, you might just want to wait until the Galaxy S 3’s June 20th release to make your decision.
Is Samsung to have its tiara and sash taken away? Will Google choose another manufacturer to make the next Nexus handsetand dethrone the reigning queen? And, *gasp* could it be an underdog victory for LG, the manufacturer that has had its fits and starts with Android smartphones?
If chosen, the lagging manufacturer would get early access to the next gen version of Android which means great buzz, great press and great sales. Samsung has been a perfect example of this success model by being the vendor bringing us the two latest Nexus devices: the Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus. With experience working with Google and new, major Android OS version upgrades, there are a fair number positives in the incumbent’s favor. So if they have ushered in a Nexus for Gingerbread and now Ice Cream Sandwich, will they also be cobranded with Jellybean?
And how will LG Mobile win the bid when Samsung sold an impressive 300 million cell phones last year and is continually vying for top-smartphone brand ranking in the US? Honestly, the more likely competition will come from Google internally and its latest acquisition-in-the-works: Motorola Mobility. The tech conglomerate has made reassurances that it would not play favorites with Motorola, but… really? How would that make business sense?
If Google does opt to dole out Nexus rights to an external manufacturer, the status will not be quite so dramatic as Motorolawould still get the perk of early iteration to next gen Android OS. And, by all accounts the company’s engineering and software teams will likely work closely post-acquisition which put Motorola in a position to help shape the Android platform. There is the question of how will peripheral devices, accessory appeal and that brand association affect these contenders and what will they bring to the table in terms of docking stations and power options to garner more attention and press?
What LG does have in its favor (despite notorious custom Android skins that have not won over customers) is their marked improvements from past years to this year’s MWC showing which introduced the optimistically improved LG Optimus 4X. This shows ambition and a willingness to put in the work. A little bit of gumption, elbow grease, and a good ole fashioned Hail Mary Pass maybe do the trick for LG.