By Greg Mills
With the implosion of HP and perhaps the beginning of the end of that storied company and the resignation of Steve Jobs, tech writers have had their hands full lately. There are other interesting developments in the news that ought to be mentioned.
RIM, never able to focus on what is important is struggling to launch a music service for PlayBook. When I think RIM and PlayBook, business usage comes to mind. The focus at RIM hasn't been in the right place from before the PlayBook was launched. PlayBook is dead but still on life support by RIM management that missed their chance to actually fill a business need that Apple is now filling. RIM is in decline and Apple is moving in.
That RIM would launch a "business" tablet that wouldn't run on a cellular connection without tethering to a BlackBerry is one of the likely reasons the Marketing VP at RIM resigned shortly before PlayBook was launched. That lack of connection ability alone, ensured failure of PlayBook in the market place. Imagine the reduction in sales that would have occurred had iPad required an iPhone to operate on a cellular network.
Then, PlayBook didn't launch with an email client. RIM promised to launch a runtime app that would allow recompiled Android apps to run on PlayBook to satisfy the demand for meaningful apps for their platform. Rather than focus on the business requirements of their platform first, a music service is being launched before email and a way to run Android apps? Canadian weed is very strong. I suggest immediate drug tests for RIM's management.
The HP TouchPad is now selling well at $99. Since it costs HP around $300 to manufacture a TouchPad, the $99 sales point that makes TouchPad moves briskly in the market place now, but results in a $200 loss for each tablet. No wonder HP pulled the plug. The never ending fragmentation of the Android OS continues with a cash reward being offered for code that would allow those $99 Palm based TouchPads to run the Android OS. It is unknown if some configuration of the Android OS will allow Android apps to run on the HP tablet without recompiling them.
HP decided a couple of years back to skip the Android OS in favor of Palm, which they paid for to have a pathway to the Apple style vertical platform of the Apple iOS running on Apple iPhone and Apple iPads. When the pretty well engineered TouchPad flopped and the Palm Pre sales were less than stellar, the CEO at HP decided not to throw good money after bad and scrap the entire mobile market. That they also decided to get out of the PC market was actually more questionable and shocking. Now they are seeing a community of TouchPad owners and hackers working to reconfigure TouchPads to run Android.
At least the giant stockpile of TouchPads won't be using up warehouse space. The $200 million dollar charge off to pay for the bargain basement TouchPads, each sold a loss fund might be enough, if people keep buying them. Personally, I use my pet rock to hold down papers on my desk.
Samsung continues to face Apple over patent infringement around the world. A Federal lawsuit being heard in the Northern District of California may be the first to go to trial baring a settlement. Settlement with Apple is likely to be such a bitter pill to swallow, Samsung will stall until the last minute. Samsung must have new product projects underway to create phones that Apple can't ban from importation. The question is: will they sell as well as iPhone clones?
The relationship of Samsung and Apple will certainly suffer, and those who figure Tim Cook will be more likely to play nice with Samsung have certainly mis-read the new CEO at Apple. One of the most quoted statements that Apple won't tolerate infringement of its technology came from the lips of Tim Cook rather than Steve Jobs. I don't expect a settlement, and Samsung will likely be forced back to the drawing board to develop phones that don't infringe on Apple technology. (See http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/ .)
The Oracle/Google lawsuit continues to grind on over Google using Java code in Android's OS without a license. This suit is all about money rather than simply killing competition that infringed upon actual products. An email where Google's management decided to use Java without a license is vigorously being argued about in the discovery phase of the suit. It looks like Google is likely to get whacked for stealing code intentionally. The intentional part will cost them triple damages. I expect Google to pay up to go beyond this suit as part of the cost of doing business in the Android market.
FaceBook is facing EU regulators over the facial recognition thing and the privacy rights of Europeans. The notion that FaceBook could automatically put names to anonymous pictures without the permission of the party is also an issue in the US. The right of a person to control their image is the basis for model releases for use of images of people in commercial applications. FaceBook launched the facial recognition software without proper notice or an easy way to opt out of what should have been an opt in feature. Even Google blinked on that feature, figuring they would let FaceBook settle the legal issues before they launch a ready to go similar feature on their platform.
Apple is certainly getting ready to launch a new generation of iPhones and various leaked images are showing what is likely to be a global iPhone that runs on 4G LTE networks. I intend to upgrade from my long on the tooth iPhone 3Gs when the newer version comes out. I will compare the contracts offered by Verizon, AT&T and perhaps T-Mobile, but still refuse to do business with sprint, as my nervous system still reacts badly to even hearing their name.
That is Greg's Bite out of about all the tech companies in the news, if I missed something my email is GregMills@mac.com .