Posts Tagged ‘Motorola’

The Dangerous Liaisons (Updated)

August 22, 2011 1 comment

Did you know that a smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 patent claims? You may easily understand why the $ 4.5 billion auction to buy 6,000 Nortel patents by the consortium formed by Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Sony Ericsson and EMC was so cruel. You may also easily understand why Google, the loser of the Nortel auction, decided to react immediately acquiring Motorola and its patent portfolio made of more than 17,000 approved patents (and another 7,500 patents filed and pending approval) for the large sum of $ 12.5 billion.

Said in few words, the mobile arena is getting more and more agressive and cruel. For this reason, a litte bit for curosity, a little bit for fun, I decided to draw a chart (and a table) showing all the moves of the giant players in this mobile chessboard. Although deliberately incomplete (I did not show in the table the patent saga of NTP Inc. against the rest of the world and the settlement of Motorola vs RIM), it gives a good idea of the dangerous intersections involving partnership, fees, alliances and, most of all, lawsuits… With the strange paradox that some companies (read Apple and Samsung) are enemies before the court, but in the same time business partners.

While visualizing the idea I stumbled upon this similar graph showing the status of the mobile arena on 8 Oct 2010. I decided to use the same layout, omitting some informations, but updating it to the current date. The graph is a little bit confusing, but the confusion of the arrows reflects betten than a thousand words the real situation.

Anyway the war will not stop here: the next targets? Interdigital Inc. with its 8,800 patents  which are attracting several bidders such as Apple, Nokia and Qualcomm; and, most of all, Kodak, whose survival depends on the auction of the 10% of its patent portfolio (1,100 patents), valued as high as $3 billion which are vital to compensate the losses estimated in $2.5 billion.

As far as the table is concerned, in order to avoid repetitions, it only shows the status of the lawsuits and alliances from the perspective of Google, Apple and Microsoft. Enjoy your read and the 250,000 patent claims on your smartphone!

Company Filed Suit Against Has technological alliance with Filed Suite From:
  No one (at least so far!)

Of course Google licensees his Mobile OS to HTC and Samsung (in rigorous alphabetical order), and it is the driver for the impressive market share growthof Samsung and HTC.

In an effort to defend Android’s Intellettual Property “to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing”, on Aug 15 2011, Google announced the intention to acquire Motorola Mobility with a $12.5 billion deal. Motorola has nearly 17,000 patents.

Aug 12 2010: Oracle has filed suit against Google for infringing on copyrights and patents related to Java,. Oracle claimed Google “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property”. Android uses a light proprietary Java Virtual Machine, Dalvik VM, which, according to Oracle infringes one or more claims of each of United States Patents Nos. 6,125,447; 6,192,476; 5,966,702; 7,426,720; RE38,104; 6,910,205; and 6,061,520.

The case is in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Oracle America, Inc v. Google Inc, 10-3561.

The lawsuit is still pending and will likely take several months. The trial between Oracle and Google is expected to begin by November and Oracle is seeking damages “in the billions of dollars” from Google.

On Aug 1 2011, the judge overseeing the lawsuit Oracle filed over the Android mobile OS has denied Google’s attempt to get a potentially damaging e-mail redacted.

Mar 2 2010: Apple sued HTC for infringing on ten patents, nine of which involve technologies which apply to the iPhone, while one involves the use of gestures, but only in a specific use case.

The suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Delaware , alleging twenty instances of patent infringement. The company also petitioned the US  ITC to block the import of twelve phones designed and manufactured by HTC.

On Jul 15 2011 Apple won a preliminary patent ruling in an early judgment before the US ITC, in which HTC was found to have breached two of 10 patents held by Apple.

On Aug 8 2011 ITC  announced to have dediced to review Apple’s patent infringement complaint against HTC.

Oct 31 2010: In response to Motorola lawsuit against Apple, Apple sued Motorola and Motorola Mobility for Infringment on several Multi-Touch patents infringments in the Wisconsin Western District Court with two distinct lawsuits. A total of six patents are involved in the two lawsuits.

On Nov 23, 2010: US International Trading Commission announced to review Apple patent case against Motorola.

Apr 18 2011: Apple filed suit against Samsung for copying the design of its iPad and iPhone with its smartphones and tablets.

Aug 10 2011: European customs officers have been ordered to seize shipments of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab computers after the ruling late on Tuesday by a German patents court.

In the last days Apple has been accused of presenting inaccurate evidence against Samsung.

Aug 24 2011: Samsung has been banned from selling some galaxy phones in the Netherlands. The ban is set to begin on October 13, but Samsung doesn’t seem to be taking it too hard.

On Jul 1 2011 the intellectual property of the Canada giant Nortel (in Bankrupt), involving 6,000 patents, was sold for $4.5 billion, in a dramatic auction, to a consortium formed by Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, EMC and Ericsson. Google was the other competitor (and the big looser) for the deal. This event acted as a trigger for the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google.

On Aug 3 2011, In a post to the Official Google Blog, Google Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said that Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and others have waged “a hostile, organized campaign against Android” by snapping up patents from Novell and Nortel and asking Google for high licensing fees for every Android device”, accusing them of Patent Bulying.

Curiously, Apple is one of the main technological partners of Samsung for displays and semi-conductors. Samsung produces Apple’s A4 systems-on-a-chip (SoC) and also the two companies collaborate for iPad displays (Apple is moving from LG to Samsung because oof quality issues of the former). Nevertheless the lawsuits between the two companies are compromising their relationships so that Apple is evaluating a new supplier (TSMC) for its A6 nexy generation chipset.

Oct 22 2009: Nokia sued Apple in Delaware court for infringing on  ten patents related to GSM, UMTS, and WLAN standards that Nokia states they established after investing more than EUR 40 billion in R&D over the last 20 years.

On Jun 14 2011 Apple agreed to pay between $300m and $600m to cover the 111m iPhones sold since its launch in 2007. Although the exact number was not specified, additional yearly fees could be part of the agreement.

On Jan 2010 Kodak sued Apple and RIM claiming Apple is infringing its 2001 patent covering technology that enables a camera to preview low-resolution versions of a moving image while recording still images at higher resolutions. The cases were filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester, N.Y., as well as the U.S. ITC.

On Apr 2010 Apple argues that some Kodak still and video camera products violate two of its patents

On Jul 2011: While Kodak’s claim is pending, the commission rules on Apple’s complaint and says Kodak’s digital-camera technology doesn’t violate Apple’s patents.

Oct 6 2010: Motorola sued Apple for patent infringement in three separate complaints; in district courts in Illinois and Florida and a separate complaint filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission. The suits covered 18 different patents, infiringed by Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and certain Mac computers.

The Motorola patents include wireless communication technologies, such as WCDMA (3G), GPRS, 802.11 and antenna design, and key smartphone technologies including wireless e-mail, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multi-device synchronization.

Jan 12 2011: Microsoft has motioned for a summary judgment to block Apple from trademarking the phrase “app store,” as it filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on July 17, 2008.

Mar 30 2011: Microsoft filed a second objection to Apple’s enduring pursuit to trademark the phrase “app store hiring a linguist, Dr. Ronald Butters, to go head-to-head against Apple’s own hired linguist, Robert A. Leonard.

On Jul 1 2011 US ITC said Apple has violated two S3 Graphics Co. patents in its Mac OS X operating system, but not in the iOS platform. Although not directly related to Mobile, this ruling is meaningful since S3 has been acquired by HTC on Jul 6 2011 for $300 million in order to use their patents in the fight against Apple.

HTC expects final ruling on Apple-S3 graphics case in November.

On Aug 16 2011 HTC filed a new lawsuit against Apple in Delaware’s US District Court, in an escalation of the legal battle between the two smartphone giants. HTC accused Apple to have infringed three of HTC’s patents through its sale of devices including iPads, iPods, iPhones and Macintosh computers.

Oct 1 2010: Microsoft sued Motorola for patent infringement relating to the company’s Android-based smartphones. Microsoft filed its complaint with the International Trade Commission and in a Washington state district court. At issue are nine patents that deal with, among others, sending and receiving e-mail, managing and syncing calendars and contacts, and managing a phone’s memory.

Patent dispute will begin from Aug 21 2011, the hearing procedure can take up to 10 days, the judgment procedure is expected to reach the final verdict point only in March 2012.

Nov 9 2010: Microsoft sued again Motorola for charging excessive royalties on network technology used in Microsoft’s Xbox game system.

Feb 11 2011: a deal with the Devil, Microsoft and Nokia announce their plansto form a broad strategic partnership that would use their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new global mobile ecosystem.

Besides the alliances with Apple and RIM (see the corresponding cell), on May 12 2011 Microsoft has teamed up with HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson in Europe, filing a challenge seeking to invalidate Apple’s trademarks on the phrases “App Store” and “Appstore.”

Nov 11 2010: Motorola Mobility sued Microsoft with the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of Florida and the Western District of Wisconsin alleging infringement of sixteen patents by Microsoft’s PC and Server software, Windows mobile software and Xbox products.

Motorola Mobility asked for the infringing devices to be barred from importation into the United States.

On Dec 21 2010, ITC has agreed to hear the complaint.

What if Android Reassembles The Puzzle?

ComScore has just published its Press Release related to February 2011 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share. 69.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in February 2011, up 13 % from the preceding period. As we have become accustomed to a few months, the Android is still on the top, earning 7 percentage points since November 2010, achieving a 33% market share. RIM ranked second with 28.9 percent market share, followed by Apple with 25.2 percent. Microsoft (7.7 %) and Palm (2.8 %) rounded out the top five.

Top Smartphone Platforms:
3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
Nov-10 Feb-11 Point Change
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Google 26.0% 33.0% 7.0
RIM 33.5% 28.9% -4.6
Apple 25.0% 25.2% 0.2
Microsoft 9.0% 7.7% -1.3
Palm 3.9% 2.8% -1.1

Considering the market share on a per-vendor base, provides a different interpretation, and explains some strategic mobile choices of the Mountain View giant. Among the OEM,  Samsung ranked at the #1 with 24.8% of U.S. mobile subscribers, up 0.3 percentage points from the previous three month period. LG ranked #2 with 20.9 percent share, followed by Motorola (16.1 %) and RIM (8.6 percent). Apple saw the strongest gain, up 0.9 percentage points to account for 7.5 percent of subscribers.

Top Mobile OEMs
3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010
Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Nov-10 Feb-11 Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Samsung 24.5% 24.8% 0.3
LG 20.9% 20.9% 0.0
Motorola 17.0% 16.1% -0.9
RIM 8.8% 8.6% -0.2
Apple 6.6% 7.5% 0.9

I am not new to this kind of considerations (already faced in a previous post in Italian), but it is clear that the Android Landscape is becoming a little bit too much fragmented, and this risks to be a serious issue for the Android, both in terms of consumers’ perception, both in terms of security. As far as the consumer perception is concerned: many vendors are pushing more and more customizations not only on their own Android ROMs, but even on the services provided to consumer (read vendor-dedicated markets and services). This sounds confusing for the consumer who will inevitably ask why should he consider, inside the same platform, different parameters of choice external to the mere features of the devices (and how they map to consumer’s need). Not to mention also the tragedy of software updates: a new major release of the Android may take also one year to be ported in some devices, because of the wide customizations made by the manufacturers on their smartphones.

As far as security considerations are concerned, customization affects platform (in)stability and, inevitably security, if it is true that the same code must be adapted to run on different architectures, and security bugs are always behind the door.

These factors are probably behind the rumors claiming that Google has been demanding that Android licensees abide by “non-fragmentation clauses” that give Google the final say on how they can tweak the Android code, to make new interfaces and add services, and also behind the (not confirmed) rumors of standardizing the ARM Chip for Android 3.0. If we sum up these rumors with the fact the Mountain View will not (at least initially) release the Honeycomb Source Code, it looks clear that Google is running for cover in order to stem the excessive number of fragments in which OEM vendors are reducing its precious Android.

The Android is winning the market share battle against Apple and RIM, and forecasts for the next years show a bright future for the Android, destined to achieve nearly the half of the market in 2015. So far the Mountain View Strategy has shown to be winning, but the only obstacle, in this triumphant ride, could by represented by fragmentation, which might drive consumers to the monolithic models of Cupertino and Waterloo.

Il Processore? E’ Pronto! Tutti A Tavola…

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Nel giorno in cui trapela la notizia secondo la quale Intel avrebbe proposto alcune concessioni all’Unione Europea, per ora rimaste segrete, che ammorbidirebbero i dubbi relativi all’acquisizione di McAfee (il verdetto è stato spostato al 26 gennaio, ma le voci propendono per un esito positivo per il colosso di Santa Clara), segnalo su questa interessante intervista a Shmuel “Mooly” Eden, Vice President di Intel e padre dei processori Centrino.

Il VP del Colosso di Santa Clara non poteva esimersi dall’esprimere la sua opinione sui tablet:

I tablet sono il fenomeno del momento e naturalmente cresceranno… Ma non ci sarà alcuna cannibalizzazione dei netbook. E sa perché? La tavoletta è un dispositivo interessante ma complementare, che si aggiunge agli altri, ai computer, agli smartphone.

Che è una affermazione che condivido pienamente in quanto rispecchia l’utilizzo del mio iPad in modo totalmente complementare (grazie al tethering USB di Froyo, direi sinergico) al mio Androide.

Tra le altre cose Shmuel identifica la sfida del futuro: la riduzione dei consumi (e lo so bene visto che la batteria dell’iPad dura 10 ore e quella del mio povero HTC Desire, in condizioni di uso normali ovvero con un discreto numero di conversazioni, 10 minuti).

“…Il segreto sta nel bilanciare le varie componenti: avere contemporaneamente performance buone, batterie con un’autonomia di almeno 8-9 ore e una settimana in stand-by, basso Thermal Design Point, e, infine, dimensioni quanto più possibile ridotte”.

L’intervista a Shmuel Eden è stata effettuata al CES di Las Vegas, dove i produttori si sono scatenati con le tavole a nido d’ape (chiaro riferimento ad Android 3.0 Honeycomb, ma chi legge queste pagine lo sapeva già) e dove sono comparsi i primi tablet panda con Windows 7 (che intanto strizza l’occhio ad ARM, acerrimo rivale di Santa Clara nel campo delle piattaforme mobili).

Ah, a proposito, nella stessa intervista si legge che al World Mobile Congress di fine febbraio a Barcellona potremo forse vedere (avevo previsto anche questo!) i primi smartphone equipaggiati con processori Intel.

L’intervista a Mr. Eden arriva quasi in contemporanea ai dati di Forrester che indicano come, nel 2011 le vendite dei tablet negli Stati Uniti raddoppieranno arrivando a 24.1 milioni di unità dai 10.3 milioni di unità dello scorso anno con il gioiello di casa Apple che farà la parte del leone, sino al 2015, anno in cui:

By 2015, 82 million US consumers — one-third of US online consumers — will be using a tablet, and not all of them will be iPads. We’ll be blogging and tweeting (@srepps) as much as possible from CES with our take on who has the most promising competitors this year.

Dati Forrester

Nel frattempo (trimestre agosto-novembre 2010), l’Androide Verde di Mountain View si consola, superando lo smartphone di Casa Apple nelle attivazioni: 61.5 milioni tra agosto e novembre 2010 (dati Comscore).

Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Aug. 2010
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
Aug-10 Nov-10 Point Change
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
RIM 37.6% 33.5% -4.1
Google 19.6% 26.0% 6.4
Apple 24.2% 25.0% 0.8
Microsoft 10.8% 9.0% -1.8
Palm 4.6% 3.9% -0.7

Tra i produttori, Samsung si conferma al primo posto (grazie al successo del Galaxy S) con il 24.5% del mercato, seguito da LG e Motorola (i secondi in leggero calo).

Top Mobile OEMs
3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Aug. 2010
Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Aug-10 Nov-10 Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Samsung 23.6% 24.5% 0.9
LG 21.2% 20.9% -0.3
Motorola 18.8% 17.0% -1.8
RIM 9.0% 8.8% -0.2
Nokia 7.6% 7.2%


10.. 100.. 1000.. 2011 Pad…

December 23, 2010 1 comment

Il 2011 sarà l’anno dei pad, per tutti i gusti, tutte le esigenze, tutti i sistemi operativi e (speriamo) per tutte le tasche.

I botti del 31 dicembre saranno solo un pallido preludio ai botti che spareranno i produttori di tablet nel 2011. In rete circolano già i primi rumor dei presunti iPad 2 e, addirittura, iPad Mini (alla faccia di chi se li è fatti regalare per Natale). Ma se gli ingegneri di Cupertino non dormono mai, il resto del mondo Hi-Tech non sta a guardare e sul fronte delle tavolette, nel primo trimestre del 2011, già in occasione del CES di Las Vegas, ne vedremo delle belle.

Dopo RIM, che per prima ha presentato il suo playbook presumibilmente sul mercato da febbraio 2011, a capeggiare la schiera c’è un outsider decisamente scomodo, minaccioso e da un certo punto di vista intrigante. Sto parlando di Cisco, il colosso della rete, vero cuore pulsante di Internet che con il suo Cius lancerà sul mercato un tablet basato su Android espressamente concepito per utenza business con funzioni avanzate (e interfacce di programmazione estese) di Unifed Communication. Ma non saranno da meno HTC, che promette scintille con l’architettura Tegra 2 (la stessa strada sembra sarà seguita dai coreani Samsung per il suo Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 ed LG) e Acer, che promette tavolette per tutte le tasche (dal punto di vista del prezzo e delle dimensioni).

Non mancheranno all’appello nemmeno Toshiba che riparte da un Folio per rinverdire i fasti del famoso Libretto, ASUS, che punta ad una offerta completa per dimensioni e sistema operativo (Windows o Android), e, addirittura, una vecchia conoscenza come Creative, che con le sue tavole della serie ZiiO mira a (ri)creare un nuovo standard di intrattenimento per uscire dall’anonimato in cui il gigante multimediale di Singapore è caduto negli ultimi anni, nel tentativo di  rinverdire i bei tempi che furono (con le mitiche Sound Blaster).

Saranno della partita anche NEC, con una suggestiva proposta a libretto, e HP che promette di rinverdire i fasti di Palm con una famiglia di tablet equipaggiati con il redivivo WebOS.

Infine, tra una folta schiera di presunti outsider, più o meno improbabili, a volte incautamente saliti sul carro dell’androide vincitore, si distingue sicuramente Motorola, la marca delle ali, che con il suo Motopad, la cui presentazione è prevista al CES (e che grazie a uscite mirate ha creato una grande attesa) punta a confermare il Rinascimento ottenuto grazie il felice connubio con l’Androide, iniziato con il primo Droid (Milestone per noi cugini del Vecchio Continente) e proseguito con i successivi modelli della famiglia.

Gartner stima che il mercato delle tavolette nel 2011 raggiungerà in tutto il mondo quasi 55 milioni di unità contro i 19 milioni del 2010, ed è destinato a crescere sino a 154 milioni nel 2012, quali sono però le incognite di un mercato così affollato?

In primo luogo quello dei tablet rimarrà nel 2011 un mercato di nicchia, si stima che le vendite globali si attesteranno attorno al 15% di quelle relative a smartphone, e quindi non abbastanza ricettivo per la pletora di produttori che vi si stanno ammassando attorno.

In secondo luogo, piuttosto che contrastare Apple con una strategia unitaria, a mio parere i concorrenti si stanno frammentando eccessivamente: la maggior parte, se non tutti i produttori sopra citati puntano ad aprire un proprio mercato delle applicazioni, in aggiunta al tradizionale Android Market, e questo potrebbe creare un po’ di malumore presso i consumatori se non addirittura spostarli verso un produttore con una offerta unitaria (ad esempio Apple).

Nell’attesa di capire quale tavoletta si conquisterà l’ambito scettro di “Anti-iPad” godiamoci questo video in cui Motorola svela parzialmente il suo prodotto, in realtà prendendola un po’ alla lontana e terminando con l’immancabile confronto con iPad e Samsung Galaxy. Il mio preferito è sicuramente il modello Maya, se non fosse che, si dice, abbia una funzione di autodistruzione nel 2012…



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