Apple steals number 2 spot from RIM in smartphone battle

via Boy Genius Report by Marc Flores on 11/7/08

The results are in and news now hitting the smartphone world is that Nokia is slipping down from the peak of the mountain while Apple and RIM work their way to the top. With only the iPhone and iPhone 3G, Apple has managed to step over RIM’s shoulders to take the number two spot in the smartphone world with 17.3% of the market share. RIM, however, isn’t too far behind with 15.2% and climbing with anticipation of the Storm’s release mounting. Nokia, meanwhile, can’t help but sit and watch as it sees its market share drop to 38.9% from 51.4% the year before. Apple is undoubtedly snatching up Nokia and RIM’s business with the iPhone 3G, having sold nearly 7 million units since its official release on July 11. With those sales, Apple is not just second in the smartphone war but it now accounts for 2.3% of the overall mobile phone market – not bad after just a year and a half in business! Still, with two up-and-comers battling and plenty of momentum, Nokia and the Symbian OS remain on top of the pile as the ones to beat. All they have to do now is figure out how to hold the other two down, and that is going to take something pretty big.

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RIM vs. AT&T; Bold vs. Thunder/Storm

via Boy Genius Report by The Boy Genius on 9/9/08

We thought we’d give y’all an update on what we’ve been hearing so far. It’s been fairly well-documented that RIM isn’t too happy with AT&T for delaying the release of the Bold. It began with June, then to July, to August, to September — you get the point. But, there is a back-story here, so we are going to take a minute out to break it down for you guys.

First and foremost, according to what we have been told, AT&T approached RIM to build the BlackBerry Bold for them. RIM had zero plans of manufacturing a 3G device at the time. They reluctantly gave in to AT&T and started to manufacture the Bold. You can see their non-3G stance with the upcoming Kickstart, Javelin, etc.  As it was put to us, “AT&T will not be accepting any non-3G phones on it’s network.” We’ve clearly seen this transition take place; we’re almost at the point of all 3G handset heaven, so this statement makes sense. The problem with the delays of the Bold is that RIM has the Thunder/Storm up their sleeves. We’ll get into that in a bit, but here’s a quick story on the Bold delays and why they happened.

To be fair, the delay with the BlackBerry Bold wasn’t really AT&T’s fault. Sure, they might have wanted to give Apple a little more shine or they might even have wanted to let their 90-day exclusive run out through the holidays to capture all those extra sales, but there were, and still are software issues. That’s evidenced by people that have bought the Bold already. Are they world-ending? No. But no one can oppose the fact that the Bold is the most un-BlackBerry-like device to come out of RIM in terms of stability and the OS. AT&T knew this. That’s why RIM would hand AT&T (and Rogers, too) “final final” builds of the OS. After a couple days, those were promptly sent back to RIM with “FAIL” written all over them. That continued for a very, very long time. Nonetheless, it came to the point where Rogers went ahead and released the device; it’s not 100%, and they, along with RIM, know that.  (Does anyone remember how that RIM publicist assured the press that there were no delays with the Bold on AT&T and indirectly called us jerks?) But why the strained relationship with AT&T?

Well, you have AT&T basically demanding a 3G BlackBerry, RIM probably said, “eh, dudes, we’ve never done this before, you sure?” AT&T probably said, “Holla!” Then AT&T kept delaying the release of the Bold, and RIM sort of got pissed. They had the BlackBerry Thunder/Storm on the burner, but they held that way too close to the chest so AT&T didn’t find out about it. Why didn’t they want AT&T to find out about it? They were afraid AT&T would drop the Bold, the device they begged them to make, and want to run with the Thunder/Storm instead. You’ve got practically the entire world launching the Bold, except for the #1 BlackBerry carrier on the planet. Something doesn’t sit right with that. It might be AT&T’s quest for perfection on the device, it might be the fact that they make way more money on iPhone sales, or it could be a mix of both. RIM has increased the marketing budget with Verizon of the Thunder/Storm like we reported to you. Whether this was done to possibly makeup for lost time with the Bold in the U.S. or to spite AT&T still remains to be seen, yet we can’t help but think RIM is a getting a little kick out of it. One more tiny bit of info is BlackBerry Thunder/Storm pricing… we heard through various contacts it will sell for $199 with a 2-year agreement after in-store and MIRs. In any case, that’s our little back-story for the day regarding what happened with the Bold and the Thunder/Storm and an explanation why AT&T probably isn’t in Jim or Mike’s MY5.

Touchscreen BlackBerry Storm Will Be $199

 
 

via Gizmodo by matt buchanan on 9/9/08

Boy Genius has a fairly juicy bit of backstory on the delays plaguing the BlackBerry Bold, and the serious, stab-you-in-the-throat infighting between AT&T and RIM that drove RIM to deliver their touchscreen baby, the Storm, exclusively to Verizon in the US, where it will apparently be going for just $199 with a two-year contract and rebates.

The condensed version: AT&T told RIM to make a 3G device (the Bold) even though it wasn’t really in RIM’s bag, since AT&T is pushing to have every one of its devices using 3G, even if the network can’t really stand up to the onslaught right now. So RIM did. Fast forward to now, AT&T has apparently been rejecting buggy OS builds from RIM for months, even though they obviously crossed the line into acceptable for most other carriers. Granted, there are apparently some very real problems, most pointedly with the Hotspot Browser, though we did not encounter them with our review unit.

RIM got more than a little fed up, and this supposedly drove them to deliver the touchscreen Storm to a carrier who is not AT&T. In fact, RIM is reportedly kicking up the marketing budget for the Storm. Which brings us to the last bit: BG says multiple sources have confirmed to him that the Storm will go for $199. [BGR]

 
 

BlackBerry 9000 spotted in the wild – WiFi and HSDPA in enterprise

via IntoMobile by willpark on 3/30/08

BlackBerry 9000 in the wild - RIM likes iPhone style

The RIM BlackBerry 9000 was supposed to take the Canadian company’s push-emailing handset lineup to a whole new level. In the face of increased enterprise pressure from other handsets, like the iPhone, RIM has been a company to watch with their BlackBerry 9000.

So, it was a bit of a surprise when I first laid eyes on the BlackBerry 9000 in the wild. At the time, I didn’t know that it was the BlackBerry 9000. The device was only referred to as a new 3.5G BlackBerry that was going through its paces in RIM’s R&D labs. I speculated that the device could be the 9000, but alas, it was too early to put a metaphorical “period” on the matter. Now that said handset has been confirmed as the BlackBerry 9000, the device’s reveal is all just a bit anti-climactic.

BlackBerry 9000 in the wild - RIM likes iPhone styleThe device is curvy and sleek, something that can’t really be said for the rest of RIM’s smartphone lineup. The bezel is trimmed in iPhone-esque chrome and the screen looks nice and crisp. But, as much as the BlackBerry 9000 is an improvement over current BlackBerry design, it still lacks the stylish “oomph” that was widely expected from the BlackBerry 9000. The keyboard is more of the same from the BlackBerry lineup (if it ain’t broke…) and the 9000 makes use of the popular and, dare I say, “fun” little trackball that first made an appearance on the BlackBerry Pearl.

The revised slide-deck interface is a refreshing take on RIM’s tired menu/icon setup. More pizazz would have been nice, as would a larger display, but with HSDPA, WiFi, and GPS in tow, the BlackBerry 9000 should do just fine in the enterprise market.

I’ll take a 3G iPhone over the BlackBerry 9000 any day. RIM had better hope I’m one of the very few that see things the same way.

BlackBerry 9000 in the wild - RIM likes iPhone style

BlackBerry 9000 in the wild - RIM likes iPhone style

Align CenterBlackBerry 9000 in the wild - RIM likes iPhone style

[Via: Engadget Mobile]

The Top 10 Tech Stories of 2006

Mergers, acquisitions, lawsuits, scandals, and battery recalls kept journalists busy in 2006.

Megadeals signaled realignment in the IT industry and foreshadowed the Internet’s multimedia future. A much-delayed Vista debuted amid speculation that it would be the last of the old-school, big-bang product launches. As software giants announced support for Linux, and manufacturers switched chip allegiances, the open-source and chip industries were thrown into turmoil. 2006 was a transition year, as IT giants positioned themselves for a new era of global competition in the post-PC era. Here, not necessarily in order of importance, are the IDG News Service’s top news stories of the year.

HP Spy Scandal: Board, and Broad, Implications

A board feud at Hewlett-Packard hit the newspapers in September, leading to the resignation of Chairman Patricia Dunn. The board spat erupted over an investigation to see which board members leaked information–including arguments about the ouster of former Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina–to the press. The company used “pretexting,” where investigators pretend to be the people being investigated in order to access private information.

Criminal charges were filed against Dunn, legal counsel Kevin Hunsaker, and outside investigators. Users are unfazed: Under Mark Hurd, CEO and newly appointed chairman, HP has overtaken Dell as the leading PC maker and IBM as the biggest IT company in revenue terms. However, the scandal has broad implications. Congress may make pretexting a federal crime. Oversight of corporate governance is a rallying cry.

Microsoft Cuts a Deal With Novell: Embrace and Devour?

Microsoft’s November deal with Linux distributor Novell created turmoil in the open-source world. Microsoft will offer sales and support for Novell’s Suse Linux, work on interoperability, and indemnify Suse users and developers from potential Microsoft lawsuits against copyright infringement.

Industry insiders say that Microsoft is driving wedges into the open-source community, protecting only some users from legal reprisals. The open-source world had already been rocked in October, when Oracle’s move to offer full support for Red Hat Linux had industry insiders worrying Red Hat’s business model would suffer. Ultimately though, the software giants’ embrace of Linux is a sign that no one can ignore open source. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the impetus for the agreement came from customers. Though that’s an old line, there’s no doubt that open source has truly come of age.

Alcatel-Lucent: M&A Mania Grows

The merger of Alcatel and Lucent Technologies, announced in April, formed a $24 billion networking giant and signaled trends in global mergers and acquisitions. The hookup was necessary to face down competition in growth areas of the mature enterprise market–such as Voice over IP–while Chinese manufacturers put pressure on the West on the low end.

2006 is expected to yield 3945 M&A deals, up from 3455 in 2005 and the highest number ever, according to investment firm Innovation Advisors. Globalization and changing demand are fueling M&A in networking, the Internet, the chip industry and enterprise software. 2006 examples include Advanced Micro Devices and ATI Technologies, Red Hat and JBoss, and EMC and RSA Security.

Google-YouTube: Convergence 2.0

Google’s ability to afford the $1.65 billion price tag for its acquisition of YouTube, announced in October, underscored its status as the Internet’s superstar revenue generator. The deal itself confirmed video’s importance in the evolution of Web 2.0: the mashing together of user-generated content and multimedia applications.

“Anybody who wasn’t interested in YouTube was either asleep or not being honest,” said Jonathan Miller, who was deposed as AOL chairman after the Google-YouTube deal.

Competitors scrambled. Lycos launched a movie-streaming service mixing elements of social networking and online video, while movie studios and TV networks rushed to put video online. Legal issues between Internet sites and content producers need to be worked out, but one thing is for sure: Convergence of video and the Net has hit prime time.

AOL Search Data Release Fans Privacy Debate

AOL’s July release of search log data on 658,000 subscribers, meant for research use, became a cause celebre in the privacy-rights debate. Coming amid reports of corporate data leaks and phishing scams, it was yet another reminder of the general insecurity of data. The AOL records contained sensitive information like Social Security numbers.

In September three people sued the company in what their lawyers claimed was the first such lawsuit seeking national class-action status. They asked the court to instruct AOL not to store users’ Web search records. But the request is not likely to be granted. Law enforcement officials want service providers to retain user logs to aid investigations, and new data retention rules may be proposed. The ability of technology to store an ever-increasing amount of data will ensure continuing debate. Jurisdictional issues also come into play as the U.S. and Europe clash over different privacy standards.

When Batteries Attack: The Great Battery Recall of 2006

It was the biggest recall in the history of IT and consumer electronics. Sparked by reports that lithium-ion batteries could short circuit and catch fire, Dell in August recalled more than 4 million laptop batteries. The move was soon followed by manufacturers around the world including Apple Computer, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Lenovo, and Toshiba. More than 8 million batteries were recalled, leading to yet another black eye in an annus horribilis for Sony, the manufacturer of the faulty cells. The recall, startup costs for the delayed PlayStation 3 game console, and poor PlayStation Portable sales pushed Sony’s operations into the red.

Mac on Intel: Chip Industry Realigns

Apple’s January launch of the first Mac PCs running on Intel chips was historic. For decades, Apple’s insistence on going its own way has been its strength, and also its weakness: the company has traded seamlessly designed products for market share … at least, until the iPod came along. But Intel chips have breathed new life into the Mac line. A 30 percent jump in fiscal fourth-quarter Mac sales helped the company generate $546 million in profit and blow away analyst expectations. The company’s profit margin is great: in their last reported quarters, Dell had more than 300 percent greater revenue than Apple, but only 24 percent greater profit.

Meanwhile, in a blow to Intel, Dell announced in May that it would for the first time use chips from Intel archival Advanced Micro Devices, in multiprocessor servers by the end of the year.

Patent Wars Singe BlackBerry

After the U.S. Supreme Court declined in January to hear Research In Motion’s appeal in its patent battle with NTP, industry watchers started sounding the death knell for RIM’s BlackBerry. A $612.5 million March agreement between the companies, however, ensures that RIM will never have to worry about NTP patent claims again.

The case is emblematic of the disruptions caused by patent disputes, which often lead to near-automatic injunctions that prevent companies from selling products that allegedly infringe on patents–even before final patent rulings have been made. Many industry insiders found wisdom in the U.S. Supreme Court’s May ruling that courts need to look at multiple factors instead of immediately awarding injunctions. The court sided with eBay in a patent infringement case brought by online auction company MercExchange. But patent wars continue: NTP sued Palm in November.

Vista Launches

After numerous delays, Microsoft in November launched Vista, along with Office 2007 and Exchange 2007.

Though Microsoft CEO Ballmer called it “the biggest launch in our company’s history,” it didn’t have that feel. Consumer versions of Vista and Office won’t be available until the New Year, thus missing the holiday buying season. The products are important: among many other things, the level of interoperability among them is greater than ever before. But the launch may go down in history for another reason: it could be the last of the traditional big products launches. With more people tapping into hosted applications, Google experimenting with Internet-based productivity applications, and users receiving a steady stream of product updates over the Web, big-bang launches may fade into the past.

Gates Steps Back … to Plunge Into Philanthropy

Bill Gates’ June announcement that he will step out of his daily role at Microsoft in July 2008 was a milestone that comes at a transition time. While he will remain chairman, Gates will focus on philanthropy.

Microsoft was rarely if ever a first mover, as for example Apple has been. But by combining technical acumen and business brilliance, Gates embodied the quintessentially American entrepreneurial knack of seizing a great idea and commercializing it beyond people’s wildest dreams. His deal to provide the operating system for the IBM PC in 1981 fueled the personal computing revolution. Over the next 25 years Gates led Microsoft to embrace the graphical interface and bring it to the masses, conquer the desktop market, and ultimately navigate the shoals of the Internet era. Microsoft faces further battles in the Internet age, against Google and other companies that will spring up. Meanwhile the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has assets of about $30 billion. The world watches to see if Gates can revitalize philanthropy, as he did computing.

BlackBerry versus BlackJack: RIM sues Samsung for trademark infringement

Thoroughly annoyed by Samsung‘s entry into the smartphone sector with its new BlackJack, RIM (maker of the BlackBerry, of course), has sued Sammie for trademark infringement in US Federal Court in Los Angeles. Oh, RIM, we understand that you want to protect your trademark over the BlackBerry name. But do you really, honestly, believe that just because another smartphone has the name “Black” in it, that throngs of people will rush out to buy the BlackJack when they meant to buy the BlackBerry? Or is this just a ploy to squeeze some money out of Samsung when you two finally settle this dispute? Yeah, that’s what we thought. (Needless to say, Cingular must find this whole thing pretty hilarious.)

[Via Textually]

[originating url]

Palm sez NTP patents are invalid, refuses to settle

Following yesterday’s surprising announcement that patent troll firm NTP is taking portable computing pioneer Palm to court over alleged IP infringement, the PDA and smartphone manufacturer has fired back with a statement detailing its position on the matter. While Palm corroborates NTP’s assertion that the latter company had previously approached it about licensing the patents in question, it points out that all seven of them are still undergoing re-examination by the US Patent and Trademark Office, and all signs point to them being ruled invalid once the inquiry is complete. Therefore, Milipitas-based Palm has promised to “defend itself vigorously against the attempted misuse of the patent and judicial systems,” which is the diplomatic way of saying that NTP won’t see one red cent unless they pry it from Palm’s cold, dead hands. Since the RIM / NTP fiasco took quite some time to wind its way through the courts, it seems that Palm is making the smart move here by stringing this along until the USPTO makes its final decision, but there’s one thing it needs to bear in mind: NTP’s got half a billion dollars to blow on legal fees, and since it doesn’t actually do anything besides sue people, it can focus all of its energy and resources on this amusing but unhealthy lawsuit addiction.