Yahoo Lawsuit Paints A Target on Facebook’s Back; Attracts More Lawsuits

It seems that Yahoo’s lawsuit against Facebook has opened the floodgates for litigation against the latter. Facebook has been sued by yet another company in the last week, and some more, including AOL, may be planning to sue it in the coming days, according to a report by Techcrunch.

Though Yahoo’s patent infringement claims against Facebook were criticized by almost everyone in the industry, there is a good chance that Yahoo will make some money off it, as it targets Facebook right before its IPO.

Apparently, some other firms want to cash in on Facebook’s IPO too, albeit in a different way. Mitel, a Canadian IT company, has also sued Facebook for infringement of two patents related to “automatic web page generator” and “pro-active features for telephony”. It is asking for damages as well as a royalty from Facebook.

Even AOL seems to be preparing to get in the game. It filed a revised application for a patent last week, which is related to the monitoring and automatic updates related to friends of the user on social network. The revised application seems to be aimed at focusing the patent on the features that Facebook is currently offering.

This may not be the end of it. Facebook, which is no stranger to controversy, may see a lot of such last-ditch attempts at making money by obsolete internet giants like Yahoo and AOL.

Samsung Galaxy S III: Another Leaked Image & Specs

As the expected launch date of the Samsung Galaxy S III nears, rumors of the device’s specifications and design, as well as images of it have started to surface on the internet.

We have already posted two rumored pictures of the device. Today, thanks to GSM Helpdesk, we have one more:

Samsung Galaxy S III Specifications (Rumored)

The blog also confirmed the specifications reported by BGR earlier, which say that the Galaxy S III will sport a 4.7 inch Super AMOLED Plus HD display with a 720p resolution, a 12 MP camera with 1080p HD video recording support at 60 FPS and will be powered by a quad core Exynos processor clocked at 1.5 GHz. It is likely to offer 1 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, and will possibly have a 1,750 mAh battery with an 8 mm thin design.

Unlike the Galaxy Nexus, Samsung seems to have opted for capacitive hardware buttons in this device, according to the leaked image.

The device date in the image has also sparked off a discussion on the launch date, which could be May 22, 2012.

For all we know, even this image could be a fake. However, while it may not be as highly awaited as the next iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S III is easily the most awaited phone of 2012 – and with good reason – the Galaxy S and the Galaxy S II were massive hits, and probably the best Android devices of their time.

Samsung Galaxy S III

We will keep you updated with any other buzz related to the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Oracle’s Final Damage Claim Against Google May Be Less than $100 Million

Oracle, which was claiming billions of dollars in damages from Google in a patent infringement lawsuit concerning the use of Java in Android, may have to make do with a lot less.

Oracle jumped into the patent wars by claiming that Google infringed upon its patents by using parts of the Java programming language in Android. It initially demanded $6 billion in damages, a figure which was declared ridiculous by the presiding judge.

After that, it reduced its claims to $2 billion, but even that was apparently quite high. Google has been claiming that the damages would add up to around $37.5 million to $46.6 million, which is way lower than what Oracle thinks it deserves.

Even if Oracle manages to up the damages figure a bit, it will likely be under $100 million, which is chump change for Google.

Google and its partners have been attacked by a number of technology giants, including Apple, Microsoft and Oracle, for developing and using Android. At least in the Oracle case, it seems that Google may have scored a minor victory. We’ll know for sure only after the case goes to trial.

Check out the complete details at Groklaw.

HP Throws a Hail Mary, Combines Two Dying Business to Revive Both

HP, the personal computing giant of yesteryear, which has seen sales of its PCs decline over the last couple of years, is planning to restructure its business in order to make it more cost efficient and reduce costs, according to a report by AllThingsD.

It will be moving its Imaging and Printing Group (Printers) under its Personal Systems Group (Personal Computers), with the new larger division reporting to a single head.

HP’s printer business was one of its most profitable ones, but had seen sales decline over the last couple of quarters. Its PC business has also not been doing very well, as worldwide desktops sales have slowed down and are expected to decline going forward. Both businesses combined added up to more than 50% of HP’s total revenues in 2011.

HP was planning to spin off the PC division or sell it to someone like IBM under its previous CEO Apotheker’s management, but the new CEO, Meg Whitman scrapped that plan.

HP’s printer business has much higher operating margins than its PC business, but given the product synergies and the overlapping target customer base, it may actually be a good call on its part to combine the two to cut costs, improve margins and maybe improve sales.

The future of HP’s PC business depends on how well it capitalizes on the ultrabook and tablet trend, following the launch of Windows 8 in late 2012.

Apple’s Request for Android Data from Motorola Denied

Remember that time when Motorola was ordered by a U.S. court judge to turn over data related to Google’s Android development and details of its acquisition to Apple? You should – it was only around two weeks ago.

Anyway, it seems that Motorola has scored a minor victory in that matter. It had opposed that order, and its objections were backed by the judge, who denied the request by Apple today.

“The motion is vague and overbroad and Motorola’s objections are persuasive. If Apple desires a further court order compelling production of data within the scope of the March 5 order, it will have to narrow its request to a manageable and particularized set of documents.” said the judge.

Motorola and Apple’s patent trials will be held in June, and you can expect quite a lot of fireworks there. They are the biggest companies involved in the patent wars and have been battling each others in multiple countries, trying to get an injunction on the sales of each others’ products.

Google bought Motorola in 2011 primarily for its patent portfolio, but as the patent wars have progressed, it has found itself fighting Motorola’s wars, instead of it being the other way around. Both Motorola and Apple have scored a few minor victories here and there, but the coming trials in June will be the decisive ones.

Zynga Looking to Acquire OMGPOP, Maker of Draw Something

Zynga, the largest social gaming company in the world with over 245 million active users, may be planning to buy OMGPOP, the maker of the massive new hit – Draw Something.

OMGPOP has been in the news a lot lately; first, because of the insane amount of traction it has been getting with Draw Something, and then because it displaced Zynga by becoming the number one app in terms of daily active users.

“If you can’t beat them, buy them” – Mark Pincus. Probably.

Zynga has a successful track record of acquiring companies to expand its gaming empire, and OMGPOP will be no exception. Zynga is trying to expand rapidly in the mobile gaming space, by launching new games like the “With Friends” series and also be acquiring developers of popular games.

It reportedly even tried to buy Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, but apparently that didn’t happen.

Techcrunch reports a rumored valuation of $150 to $250 million for OMGPOP, which if true, would be the biggest acquisition by Zynga to date.

Apps like Draw Something could propel Zynga to the top of the mobile gaming charts and make it the undoubted leader in the mobile and social gaming markets.

Zynga has made a lot of right moves in the past. If it is able to make a successful entry in the online gambling market, coupled with its already booming social and mobile gaming businesses, it could be worth more than all other traditional gaming companies combined in the next few years.

Apple Announces $45 Billion Dividend and Share Repurchase Program

After years of speculation and advice from everyone who had the slightest interest in trading stocks and thought he knew how the biggest company in the world should spend its burgeoning cash reserves which Steve Jobs refused to return to investors in the form of dividends, Apple finally made an official announcement regarding its dividend and share repurchase program, under the leadership of the new CEO, Tim Cook.

Apple currently has more than $100 billion in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, which is more than any other company. Almost 20% of its stock price is derived just from its cash reserves. However, most of it is trapped overseas, which means that Apple can’t bring it back to the U.S. without a huge tax bill.

Even though I’d rather have Apple keep my money as an investor (if I were one) and continue to make some strategic acquisitions to keep growing as fast as it historically has, the demands for a dividend were rising, at least from the most vocal ones, and were likely valid, as most acquisitions usually fail and destroy aggregate shareholder wealth, and even if it planned to make a series of acquisitions like Quattro or Anobit, they would cost a fraction of its total cash reserves.

Today, Apple announced a divided repurchase and share repurchase program, and expects to give back around $45 billion to its investors over the next three years.

It has initiated a $10 billion share repurchase program, which will commence in FY13 and be executed over a period of 3 years. This will be timed to neutralize the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants. It also plans to start giving out a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share starting Q4 FY12.

“We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You’ll see more of all of these in the future. Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

Rumor: Samsung to Make Blackberry 10 Devices

When Google acquired Motorola, most major Android device manufacturers like Samsung and HTC must naturally have felt threatened. Samsung, the largest Android device maker, knows better than to keep all its eggs in one basket. It has already hedged its investment in Android device development with bets on alternative platforms including Bada and Tizen.

However, according to the latest rumor sparked by a comment by an analyst, Samsung may be looking to invest around $1.5 billion in Research in Motion, the creator of Blackberry devices, and may also license the upcoming Blackberry 10 operating system for use with its own devices.

If this rumor were to be true, Samsung would have device offerings powered by every major platform except iOS. It already has bets on Android, Windows Phone and Bada.

RIM’s stock was up 5% on this rumor, which if true, could save RIM, which is on the verge of extinction as its devices fail to attract customers while iOS, Android, and now Windows phone gobble up its market share.

Maybe RIM should really look at becoming a services company, while spinning off the handset division. Its current strategy hardly seems to be working. Partnering with Samsung, or selling off its handset division to it could be the shot in the arm that it desperately needs.

Rumor: Google Nexus Tablet to be Priced at $149

Ok, right after the rumor last week that Google had chosen Asus to build the Nexus tablet, with which it plans to dominate the tablet market at least in terms of market share, here’s a new one: Google is aiming to launch the Nexus tablet for as low as $149.

Apparently, the Nexus tablet will be a lower spec’d version of the Asus MeMo 370T, the $249 quad core Android tablet which was unveiled at CES 2012 and had all of us drooling over the price/performance ratio.

However, instead of the quad core Tegra 3 processor, the Nexus tablet will be powered by a cheaper processor, to bring costs down.

The Nexus Tablet may be announced at the Google I/O 2012 event in June, or at the CTIA Wireless show in May. It’s likely to ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but if the rumors stating that Google may launch Android 5.0 Jelly Bean at Google I/O 2012 are true, then it could very well come with Jelly Bean.

It may be no iPad killer, but the Nexus tablet may be just the device that Google is looking for to finally give it some control over the tablet space which is currently ruled by Apple. The Nexus tablet may come just in time before the launch of Windows 8, which will be Microsoft’s first serious attempt to enter the tablet space.

Apple’s Tablet Market Share Hit by Kindle Fire in Q4 2011

If you were wondering how much the launch of the Amazon Kindle Fire impacted Apple’s dominance in the tablet market, IDC has the answer for you. According to its figures, Apple’s tablet market share dropped to 54.7% in the fourth quarter of 2011, which is much lower than it ws in the previous quarter. Apple’s market share dropped from 61.5% to 54.7%, while Android saw its market share rise from 32.3% to 44.6%.

A total of 28.2 million tablets were shipped globally in Q4 2011, of which 4.7 million were Kindle Fire units, and 15.4 million were iPads. After Apple and Amazon came Samsung, which shipped around 1.6 million units.

However, shipment figures don’t really tell you the complete story. Apple has the highest profit margins in the industry, and probably made more profit by selling one iPad, than Amazon made by selling 20 Kindle Fire units.

Besides, we expect the tide to turn back in Apple’s favor in the first half of 2012, as Apple starts shipping “The New iPad”. In Q3 2012, we should also see Microsoft start to make headway in the tablet market with Windows 8. Google’s rumored Nexus tablet could also help Android gain some additional market share. 2012 is going to be a crucial year for all players in the tablet market. My money, however, is on Apple… and maybe even Microsoft.