Fusion Garage Grid 10: JooJoo 2?

Fusion Garage, the company behind the controversial JooJoo tablet, or should I say the CrunchPad, is back with another tablet. The guys at Liliputing discovered a new listing for a device on the FCC website, by Fusion Garage. From the name and the design, it seems to be a 10 inch tablet. No other details are known yet, except that it might be codenamed the Grid 10.

Fusion Garage Grid 10

The CrunchPad was Michael Arrington’s pet project, and seemed quite promising when it was first announced. Of course, the iPad hadn’t been launched then, so it had a good chance of being one of the very first tablets. However, things went bad between Techcrunch and Fusion Garage, the company which was developing the CrunchPad, and after some very public mudslinging, they broke up.

Soon after that, Fusion Garage launched the JooJoo tablet. But by then, Apple had already announced the iPad, and we all know what happened next. The iPad created the entire tablet market, and continues to dominate it even now. The JooJoo, which was a tablet version of what we now know as Google’s Chromebook, with just a browser, died a silent death.

Rumors suggest that Android Honeycomb may power the new tablet by Fusion Garage. If that is true, I am willing to wager that it will be a huge failure again. If the Grid 10 is just another Android Honeycomb tablet, there is no plausible way in which Fusion Garage can beat biggies like Samsung, HTC or Motorola.

For now, let’s wait and watch.

Google Buys Over 1000 Patents from IBM

Google announced today that it purchased more than 1000 patents from IBM in July. The purchase was first reported by SEObytheSea, which broke the news before Google’s official statement.

IBM has one of the largest patent portfolios in the industry. Most of the patents that Google acquired are related to search engines and search technology.

“Like many tech companies, at times we’ll acquire patents that are relevant to our business,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Google recently lost a bid for Nortel’s patent portfolio, which was sold for $4.5 billion dollars to a consortium comprising Apple, Microsoft, RIM and others. Google and its device partners are being sued by many companies including Apple, Microsoft and Oracle for patent infringement related to Android.

Since then, they have been trying to get their hands on some patents related to wireless technology, so they can at least defend themselves and their Android partners from litigation.

While this buy doesn’t seem to be related to Android at all, it does signal that Google is finally starting to build up their patent portfolio.

It is currently in talks to acquire InterDigital, which has close to 8,800 patents. Apparently, Apple is also courting InterDigital, trying to buy it with its huge stash of cash.

40% of Android Phones Are Returned? No Friggin’ Way!

Techcrunch published a rather sensationalist report a couple days back, claiming to reveal “Android’s dirty secret“. Apparently, they “learned” that the return rate on some Android devices ranges between 30% to 40%, compared to a mere 1.7% return rate for the iPhone 4, even after the whole Antennagate fiasco.

Well, the guys at BGR did some quick math, and arrived at a logical conclusion – Techcrunch’s story was basically bullshit.

Most Android device manufacturers are already being hunted by Apple for patent infringement. To add to that, they are also being milked by Microsoft to the tune of billions in patent licensing fees, which is hell bent on making Android its cash cow.

If the return rates for most Android devices were actually around 30% – 40%, most of the manufacturers would have filed for bankruptcy already. The margins on most Android devices are already quite low, compared to Apple’s iPhone margins. Handset returns cost manufacturers a lot of money. Combined with the other problems, a 40% rate of return could wipe out their entire profits. There is no way manufacturers would continue to make Android smartphones if this were the case.

While the return rates may be high for some devices, they are definitely in the low single digits according to BGR’s source. I’m much more inclined to believe that, rather than Techcrunch’s ridiculous report.

In other news, Android is completely rocking the U.S. smartphone market, with a 39% market share. Very improbable, if it had a 40% return rate, don’t you think?

Note: Though they did mention ‘some Android phones’, their title seems to imply that the 30% – 40% return rate was across the board.

Android Leads the Pack in the US with a 39% Market Share; iOS Comes Second with 28%

Android has been leading the U.S. smartphone market in terms of market share since a few months now. We already reported that Comscore’s numbers suggest that Android has a massive lead over its closest competitor – iOS.

Today, Nielsen released some updated statistics which confirm what we all know. Android is way ahead of the other platforms with a 39% market share, while Apple’s iOS comes second with a 28% share. Apple’s share, which had plateaued, has been growing again, since it launched the iPhone 4 on Verizon.

US Smartphone Market Share - Android, iOS, Blackberry

Both the platforms are growing at the expense of RIM’s Blackberry, which is now down to 20%. Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 together have a 9% share, which is expected to grow further, especially with Android’s patent troubles in the U.S. HP’s webOS and Nokia’s Symbian have a 2% share each.

However, when it comes to hardware, Apple leads all the way, with just 2 devices. It (with the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4) has a 28% share. HTC comes second with a 14% share for its Android devices and a 6% share for its Windows devices. Motorola comes second with a 11% share for its Android devices, while Samsung comes in third with an 8% share for its Android devices and a 2% share for its Windows smartphones.

Samsung is expected to launch its bestseller – the Samsung Galaxy S2 – in the U.S. market soon. Considering the success it has seen worldwide, that should boost its percentage share significantly.

For now, at least until Apple launches the iPhone 5, I’m tempted to say this: Apple can suck it. Android FTW!

HTC’s S3 Acquisition Could Ward Off Apple’s Patent Threat

The patent wars just keep getting interesting. As we already know, Apple had filed a lawsuit against HTC regarding infringement of patents held by Apple which relate to the technology used in the iPhone. About 2 weeks back, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge gave an initial ruling in favor of Apple, stating that HTC did infringe upon 2 of Apple’s patents.

We also reported how Apple’s win against HTC could lead to a ban on the import of all Android devices in the U.S. Google obviously knows that, and has asserted that it “will make sure they don’t lose.”

Well, it turns out that HTC may have some leverage after all. On July 6, HTC announced that it had bought S3 Graphics from VIA. At first, the acquisition didn’t make much sense, but then it did. A lot. S3 Graphics had won a ruling in its own patent lawsuit which could lead to a partial ban on the import of Macs, which use chipsets from Intel or AMD, in the U.S.

Now that HTC controls S3, it could use those patents to force Apple to enter into a cross licensing agreement with HTC, thus preventing the ban on its Android devices. It has already stated openly, that it is willing to negotiate with Apple on the issue. It’s not yet clear if HTC could use the S3 patents to get a ban on the import of Macs, but it seems highly likely. Apple has already challenged the validity of S3’s patents at the U.S Patent Office. We should know the results of the patent reexamination process soon.

This could turn out to be the smartest acquisition HTC ever made.

InterDigital Joins the Patent Fray; Accuses Nokia, Huawei and ZTE of Patent Infringement

Almost all the major smartphone manufacturers in the U.S. are currently at war with each other. Apple has sued Samsung and HTC over patent infringement, Nokia has won a patent settlement from Apple, Microsoft is making more money from Android than it ever did from Windows Phone 7. Even Oracle, which seemingly has nothing to do with smartphones is suing Google over the use of Java in Android.

Patent portfolios of bankrupt companies like Nortel are being sold for billions of dollars, and the value of companies with huge patent portfolios, like InterDigital and Motorola, has increased significantly in the last month.

InterDigital’s stock price rose over 65% in 3 days since it was revealed that Google and Apple were looking to acquire it for its massive portfolio of over 8,800 patents related to wireless technology.

Well, that was then. According to a press release by InterDigital, it seems like they have decided to enter the patent wars themselves. They filed a patent infringement complaint with the U.S. International Trade Comission against Nokia, Huawei and ZTE, alleging that they imported 3G wireless devices to the U.S. which infringed upon 7 patents owned by InterDigital.

It also stated that its talks with Nokia, Huawei and ZTE regarding a settlement or a licensing agreement failed to reach a resolution.

Over the past thirty years, InterDigital has invested nearly one billion dollars in the development of advanced digital cellular technologies, creating important innovations, and helping to drive an industry creating billions of wireless connections,said Lawrence Shay, President of InterDigital’s patent holding subsidiaries. During that period, we have signed dozens of license agreements with manufacturers, giving them access to a patent portfolio of approximately 19,000 issued patents and patent applications among the largest wireless portfolios in the world,continued Shay. The vast majority of our agreements have been reached without the need for litigation. However, despite having engaged in good faith efforts to license our patents to Nokia, Huawei and ZTE, we have not been able to reach an acceptable resolution. As a result, to protect our intellectual property and the interests of our licensees, we made the decision to bring legal action against these parties.

The timing of this complaint seems a bit suspect. It might be used as a bargaining chip to demand a higher price from Google or Apple.

Here’s the complete press release by InterDigital:

InterDigital Files Complaint Against Nokia, Huawei and ZTE With International Trade Commission

Facebook Launches “Facebook for Business” To Woo Brands After Google+ Fiasco

Most of the users who have tried Google+ have received it warmly. It has more than 20 million users now, and is expected to keep growing at a brisk pace.

You can check out our review of Google+ here:

Everything+: How Google+ Changes (And Will Change) The Social Landscape

Google Plus After One Week: Can it Challenge Facebook?

Despite some confusion over invites, the service had been working quite well since its launch. However, last week, Google+ made its first screwup.

Google+’s First Screwup: Brand Pages

After allowing a few blogs and companies to put up a brand page, it started deleting them just as it had stated earlier – Google+ is not yet ready for brands. It also announced that it would be launching a new product for businesses on Google+, with more features and options.

After that, it started deleting names which seemed fake, or were pseudonyms. In the process, it pissed off a lot of important users, all of whose accounts were disabled without warning.

In the meantime, Facebook just launched “Facebook for Business“. Nope, it’s nothing new, it’s just a detailed guide which helps you “get the basics on setting up and building your business with Facebook”.

Facebook for Business

Facebook seems to be trying to signal that they care about businesses whereas Google+ doesn’t.

They highlight four main features for businesses:

  • Pages: Create a space to interact with your fans, get to know potential customers and build a community.
  • Ads: Reach exactly the people you want with ads that let you target by age, location, interests and more.
  • Sponsored Stories: Take advantage of friends talking to friends with sponsored stories, a natural way to amplify word of mouth.
  • Platform: Transform your website into a social experience with plug-ins and custom apps.

All of this already existed, but Facebook for Business just aggregates all the relevant information in one place.

Facebook definitely seems to be a bit scared of Google+, which is its first worthy competitor in years.

You can check out Facebook for Business here: www.facebook.com/business

Amazon.com Announces Q2 2011 Results; Revenues Up 51% to $9.91 Billion

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer and e-commerce giant, just posted its second quarter results, and they are quite encouraging. Revenues have increased 51% to $9.91 billion over the second quarter in 2010. Its net income was $191 million, down 8% from $207 million in Q2 2010, implying an EPS of $0.41 this quarter.

Low prices, expanding selection, fast delivery and innovation are driving the fastest growth we’ve seen in over a decade,said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Kindle 3G with Special Offers has quickly become our bestselling Kindle at only $139. Customers love the convenience of a 3G reader — no hunting for or paying for Wi-Fi hotspots. Amazon picks up the tab for the 3G wireless, so you have no monthly payments or annual contracts.

Here are a few highlights of the earnings release:

1. The Kindle 3G with Special Offers is now the bestselling Kindle at just $139.

2. The Kindle U.S. store now has close to 1 million books, with a majority priced below $9.99.

3. Amazon launched Kindle Textbook Rental which offers students books at up to 80% off from textbook list prices.

4. Amazon Prime customers will now be able to stream TV shows from CBS for free.

5. Amazon launched Amazon Relational Database Service for Oracle databases which will allow customers to set up their Oracle databases in the cloud.

Amazon also released some Q3 2011 guidance figures. It expects sales to increase to between $10.3 billion and $11.1 billion, with the operating income expected to be between $20 million and $170 million.

Its stock (AMZN) is up nearly 6% in pre-market trading.

You can check out the press release here: Amazon.com Announces Second Quarter Results

Samsung Galaxy S2 Sales Cross 5 Million Units

The Samsung Galaxy S, which was released last year, was the most popular Android smartphone of 2010. Its successor, the Samsung Galaxy S 2, seems to be doing even better. We had earlier reported that the Samsung Galaxy S 2 had sold over 3 million units in about 55 days. That was a great milestone, and crossing it made the Galaxy S 2 the best selling Android phone of all time.

Today, according to a report by Yonhap News Agency, Samsung has stated that they have sold more than 5 million units of the Samsung Galaxy S 2. It has been less than 3 months since the initial debut of the Samsung Galaxy S 2, and it hasn’t even been launched in many major markets like the U.S. yet.

Samsung Galaxy S 2

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 is the best Android smartphone yet, and comes with a 4.3 inch SuperAMOLED Plus display. It has an 8 MP camera and is powered by the 1.2 GHz dual core Exynos processor and 1 GB RAM. It runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, the latest version of the Android OS.

It is expected to be launched on all major carriers in the U.S. next month. That should increase the sales significantly, since the demand for the phone has been very high in almost all the regions it has been available in.

I expect the total sales to reach 10 million by the end of September.

Check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy S 2: Samsung Galaxy S II Review SLIM, SEXY and FAST!

Airtel’s Android Tablet: Beetel Magiq

There have been a lot of rumors in the last week, which say that Bharti Airtel plans to launch its own Android tablet in the Indian market soon. The Airtel tablet was supposed to be priced very well, and would offer decent hardware specs. Today, AndroidOS uncovered some more details of the Airtel Android tablet. It turns out that the Airtel tablet is officially known as the Beetel Magiq, and is already available at a few stores for Rs. 8,900.

Beetel Magiq

The Beetel Maqiq tablet by Airtel comes with a 7 inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. It is powered by a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and will likely come with 512 MB RAM. It also offers 8 GB internal storage and comes with a 2200 mAh battery. It also has a 2 MP primary camera and a secondary VGA camera.

It also supports 3G connectivity, which is great for a tablet in this price range. It should be announced officially in a few days.

This is not the first time an Indian company has launched an Android tablet, but none of the other tablets have been as cheap. The Olivepad was priced at over Rs. 25,000.

The Beetel Magiq may not be an Indian tablet though. It seems to be a rebranded version of the Huawei SmaKit S7.