Samsung Supplying Retina Display Panels for Apple’s New iPad

“It’s business, not personal.”

If there’s one quote which describes Samsung’s relationship with Apple, it’s this one.

Despite all the patent lawsuits and battles between the two consumer technology giants, it’s still Samsung which came to Apple’s rescue when it was in need. For a hefty fee, of course.

Samsung is Apple’s largest component supplier and has continued to supply it despite Apple trying to sue it into oblivion, for the simple fact that it’s just good business.

After all the patent litigation between the two companies, Apple apparently tried to limit its dependence on Samsung as a supplier, which is understandable as it was also its greatest rival.

It reportedly turned to LG and Sharp to build the touch screen displays for its new iPad, but after they failed to meet Apple’s stringent quality requirements, the company seems to have gone back to Samsung. Samsung will be the sole vendor for the new retina display for the new iPad, which was unveiled earlier this month.

Samsung already makes a majority of the components that power the iPhone and the iPad. And it’s not like the relationship is one sided – even Samsung generates a significant portion of its overall revenue through Apple.

While LG supplies display panels for the older versions of the iPhone and the iPad, they weren’t able to meet the requirements for Apple’s new high resolution retina display for the iPad. They may start shipping these new displays by April though.

Samsung Thrice as Big as Apple in China

Notwithstanding all the hype surrounding Apple’s recent launch of the iPhone 4S on China Telecom, it seems that Apple is still way behind Samsung when it comes to the hard numbers. While Samsung has around 24.3% market share in China, Apple accounts for only around 7.5% of the total Chinese smartphone market, according to a Bloomberg report.

Apple’s iPhone was officially available only on China Unicom, and recently became available on China Telecom, China’s second and third largest telecom carriers respectively. However, Apple still doesn’t officially support China Mobile, which is the largest Chinese telecom operator. China Mobile still has around 15 million iPhone users though, who have purchased an unlocked device and use only 2G connections just to use the iPhone.

Samsung, on the other hand, supports all 3 carriers, and can easily reach almost the entire Chinese population. China and other developing markets are expected to contribute to a large portion of Apple’s revenue growth in the coming years. Its market share lead over Apple has doubled from the last quarter.

However, the market share alone doesn’t really show you the entire picture. Apple probably has a much higher profit that Samsung, despite having a third of the market share, thanks to its high profit margins.

Globally, Samsung is the largest smartphone maker, but the tremendous popularity of the iPhone 4S propelled Apple to the number one position in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Yahoo Sues Facebook; Stoops to New Lows

Last month, we saw a report that Yahoo was planning to sue Facebook for the patent infringement of some trivial patents related to website personalization, social networking and messaging. Well, it pulled the trigger yesterday, and actually slapped Facebook with a massive patent infringement lawsuit, claiming that Facebook’s News Feed, advertising methods and privacy settings infringe on its patented IP.

Since Yahoo was one of the first companies to the internet party, it has been able to build a significant patent portfolio in the more than 15 years that it has been operating in. Facebook is relatively a newborn, and hardly has any patents to defend itself with.

The move was apparently driven by Yahoo’s new CEO, Scott Thompson, and is being opposed by many of the top techies working at Yahoo.

The timing is perfect for Yahoo, and very unfortunate for Facebook, as it is just a couple of months away from an IPO. Yahoo has done this exact same thing in the past, right before Google’s IPO, and managed to settle days before the IPO with millions of Google shares.

Apparently, Yahoo is trying to repeat that, and hopes to make a bigger killing this time. I wouldn’t really blame Yahoo – it’s just trying to maximize shareholder returns. What’s at fault here is the archaic patent system of the U.S., which really needs to be fixed soon, if it really intends to foster innovation and not crush it.

Nokia to Launch Windows 8 Tablets in Q4 2012

Apparently, the rumors are true. According to a report by Digitimes, Nokia is likely to launch a Windows 8 tablet in Q4 2012. Nokia’s Windows 8 tablet will be powered by Qualcomm’s dual core platform – possibly Krait – and will probably be one of the best Windows on ARM devices at launch.

Nokia is currently the largest Windows Phone partner, and probably the only one that has put all its eggs (at least the ones that matter) in Microsoft’s basket. We have already seen interest by major notebook and tablet manufacturers like HP and Dell in Windows 8, and Nokia was only a logical ally for Microsoft in the tablet business.

Nokia will be outsourcing production of the tablets to Compal Electronics, and will ship out 200,000 units of the tablet in the first run.

Since Android has failed to dominate the tablet space unlike the smartphone space, I expect Windows 8 to have a very good chance of capturing a significant market share in tablets, with the Apple iPad being its only major competitor. However, the rumored Nexus Tablet by Google could change things.

On a side note, Windows 8 is going to have a very tough time competing with the iPad in the tablet market. With the iPad 3, Apple seems to have another winner on its hands, and its tablet platform is currently miles ahead of anything else on the market. The next few months are going to be very interesting.

Rumor: Google to Launch 7 inch Android Tablet with Asus

Everyone and his grandmother has heard this rumor by now, which states that Google is apparently working on a 7 inch Android tablet to capture market share in the budget tablet space and prevent Amazon, as well as Chinese manufacturers, both of which it has no real control over, from dominating the space.

Even though the rumor has been reported by Digitimes, whose track record could inspire a sequel to “Dumb and Dumber”, it does seem to be a likely move by Google. Android tablets have been getting slaughtered in any price point even remotely close to the iPad, mostly because of one reason – they suck.

If Google wants to enter the tablet space and gain market share, it would have to use a similar strategy to the one it used in the smartphone market – targeting the budget conscious consumers.

According to the rumor, Google is working with Asus to launch a 7 inch tablet (we’re not sure whether it will be christened the Nexus Tablet) which will be priced at $199 to $249.

Apparently, Google chose Asus because HTC wasn’t willing to impair its brand image with cheap tablets, Acer didn’t have the in-house R&D capability, and Samsung can’t seem to design any tablet which doesn’t look like a rip-off of the iPad (OK, the last part may not really be the reason why it didn’t choose Samsung, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind).

The Google-Asus tablet will presumably run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and will be the first tablet to use the Google Play Store which was unveiled earlier this week.

Apple Looking to Enter Patent Licensing Deals with Android Manufacturers

Even though Steve Jobs expressly mentioned that he would destroy Android by waging a thermonuclear war with them if he had to, it seems that Apple’s stance has softened under the reign of Tim Cook, or at least become more rational, according to a new report.

Apple is currently suing Samsung and Motorola, two of the largest Android device manufacturers, in a bid to get injunctions on the sale of their devices in multiple countries.

However, it seems that Apple is now offering to end some pending litigation in exchange for royalty payments to license its patents. Apple is asking for around $5 to $15 per Android handset sold by these two giants, which adds up to 1% to 2.5% of their selling price.

If such a deal does go through, it could mean a significant revenue stream for Apple, generating billions of dollars in the coming years, adding to Apple’s already massive cash reserves.

Microsoft already receives a licensing fee of the same order from more than 70% of Android manufacturers.

Combining the fees for both Apple and Microsoft, the “free” Android OS could end up costing around $10 to $30, much higher than Windows Phone 7, which stands to benefit the most if manufacturers drop Android as it is currently the best alternative.

What’s ironic and hilarious is that Google may have to foot the bill for Motorola’s patent troubles, when its primary intention behind acquiring Motorola was to alleviate its own.

Patent Firm Sues Apple; Has License Deal with Microsoft

The patent wars just never stop getting interesting, do they? Just as Apple was busy likely trolling Google and Motorola by requesting data related to Android development and the acquisition in reference to a patent lawsuit, it seems that Microsoft has shifted focus from its favorite target – Google – to Apple.

So here’s the whole deal: Microsoft apparently licensed some patents to a patent holding company called Core Wireless, and received a passive financial interest in the future revenue of those patents, generated by licensing them.

The owner of Core Wireless, Mosaid Technologies, has now filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple, claiming that it infringes on 8 of its wireless communication patents. The devices in question are multiple variants of the iPhone and the iPad.

Microsoft also has a similar arrangement with Intellectual Ventures, which is one of the biggest patent holding company known to mankind, and also the most feared patent troll in the world.

It’s unlikely that Microsoft was directly involved in the complaint against Apple, given that they have collaborated before, most recently to gang up against Google in the Nortel patent auctions.

Google Rebrands Android Market as Google Play

Google has rebranded the Android Market as Google Play. Android Market started out offering apps and games, but had since expanded to a lot of other stuff like ebooks, music and videos as well. Apparently, Google finds the term “Android Market” too narrow, and hopes to change that with “Google Play”.

With Google Play, Google is trying to create a unified marketplace for all content, including apps, games, music, movies, books, etc.

Google Play

While the core Android Market offering has been a huge success, Google’s music and ebook offerings haven’t seen much traction yet. Now, by bundling everything in a single service, Google is trying to leverage the momentum and popularity of Android Market to boost usage of its other offerings.

Google Play will compete primarily with iTunes, and will be a major part of Google’s content strategy. It will work with all Android devices and can also be accessed directly through the web. Users can purchase movies, music or ebooks without the need for an Android device, and their purchased content will be stored in the cloud.

Movies and Music don’t seem to be available currently in some countries like India, probably due to content license restrictions. Hopefully, Google will do a global rollout soon.

Check out Google Play at Google Play Store

Google and Motorola Ordered to Give Android Data to Apple

Google and Motorola have been ordered by a U.S. judge to turn over information about the Android O.S. development to Apple. Additionally, they must also reveal information about the $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google. The decision was related to a patent lawsuit which was filed against Motorola by Apple in 2010.

“The Android/Motorola acquisition discovery is highly relevant to Apple’s claims and defenses,” said Apple’s attorneys.

Motorola has opposed the request, saying that Google isn’t directly involved in the lawsuit, and it cannot force Google to produce these documents.

“Google’s employees and documents are not within the ‘possession, custody, or control’ of Motorola, and Motorola cannot force Google to produce documents or witnesses over Google’s objections,” said Motorola’s lawyers.

Google supposedly acquired Motorola to strengthen its defense against patent trolls and competitors who are trying to force Google and its partners into submission in the form of patent licensing agreements. However, it seems that Google’s move has backfired, with it getting dragged further in Motorola’s own patent troubles.

I’m not sure if Apple is merely trolling Motorola and Google, or if the requested information is indeed critical to the lawsuit, but it would be really funny if it was the former. For now, the patent wars seem to be getting more interesting.

Huawei Ascend G 300 Unveiled, Yet Another Budget Droid

Huawei has always been one of the underdogs compared to Samsung, HTC and other biggies in the smartphone arena, but it put on a really good show at MWC 2012 with the new Huawei MediaPad 10, the Huawei Ascend D Quad and its new quad core CPU.

However, it also unveiled a few more devices at MWC 2012, which were overshadowed by its other high profile releases. One of them was the Huawei Ascend G 300, a new budget Android smartphone.

Huawei Ascend G 300 Specifications

The Huawei Ascend G 300 comes with a 4 inch WVGA display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. It is powered by a 1 GHz processor, and offers a 5 MP camera. It will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread at launch, but will be upgradeable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It will presumably offer 512 MB of RAM.

While the specifications are unremarkable compared to most of other phones being showcased at MWC 2012, the Huawei Ascend G300’s killer feature is expected to be its price.

Huawei will be pricing it much lower than current smartphones with similar specifications. Huawei should launch more details about its exact specs soon. For now, here’s an image of the device, courtesy Engadget.

Huawei Ascend G 300