Samsung Enters the Bidding War for InterDigital Patents

The patent wars in the technology industry just keep raging on. According to a report by Bloomberg, Samsung has now entered the race to acquire InterDigital’s huge patent portfolio, which has more than 8,800 patents related to wireless technology.

A Recap

As I reported a few weeks ago, Google was trying to buy InterDigital’s patent portfolio after it lost the Nortel patent auctions against a consortium comprised of Apple, Microsoft, RIM and others. With Apple, Microsoft and Oracle gunning for it and its Android device partners with patent infringement lawsuits, it is currently in a very desperate position. It needs to build up a huge patent portfolio, and the best way to do it fast is by buying some company which has one already.

Enter Samsung

Samsung has been slapped with multiple patent infringement lawsuits by Apple, which has alleged that Samsung slavishly copied its iPhone and iPad designs to create the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Apple is definitely feeling threatened by the tremendous growth in Samsung’s smartphone sales, and the success of the new Samsung Galaxy S 2.

It seems like Samsung has decided to take matters into its own hands, and get some patents which it can use to defend itself.

InterDigital has a lot of key patents,Lee Seung Woo, a Seoul-based analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co., said by telephone. The fight between Apple and Samsung is getting serious, so if the assets go to Apple, it could be pretty risky for Samsung. To hedge the risk, Samsung could go ahead with bidding, although they may have to pay a big premium.

How It Could Play Out

Since Samsung is the largest Android device manufacturer by sales, Google and Samsung could possibly team up for the InterDigital acquisition against Apple, just like Apple, Microsoft and RIM teamed up against Google during the Nortel patent auctions.

InterDigital’s stock has risen more than 60% since the initial rumors of a possible acquisition. It currently has a market cap of $3 billion. With heavyweights like Google, Apple and Samsung in a bidding war, all with a huge amount of cash reserves, the purchase price could go higher than $5 billion, according to experts.

Apple’s Safari Grows To 8% Browser Share

According to a new report from Net Applications’s NetMarketShare data, Safari has exceeded 8 percent of web browser use across all devices due to the strong growth in iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad sales. Also, Apple’s WebKit, the second most widely used rendering engine, combined with Google Chrome makes it second to Internet Explorer and slightly ahead of Firefox.

Net Apps Browser Data

In addition, the data shows that in the last two years, Internet Explorer’s marketshare has dropped from nearly 67 percent to 52.8 percent. Firefox has also seen a decrease in marketshare from almost 23 percent to 21.48 percent. However, Google’s Chrome has seen massive increase in marketshare. Chrome’s marketshare increased from 2.84 percent to 13.45 percent, while Safari’s nearly doubled from 4.07 percent to 8.05 percent.

Safari and Chrome’s marketshare combined now represent over 21.5 percent of web users, making it slightly ahead of Firefox even before counting the small number of WebKit browsers.

Clearly Safari’s growth isn’t going to stop here. Apple’s development of not just a desktop browser but also converting the desktop version of their browser to the first “fully usable” mobile version browser has not only tremendously changed the web browser market but also has affected the web-related development market as well.

New Apple TV Update Brings TV to iCloud

Apple TV

In addition to the new Apple TV software update, the update also introduced the ability for users to stream TV episodes they had previously purchased through iTunes. Also, Apple expanded the “Purchased” section of the iTunes to the Mac, PC, and iOS app to include  re-downloads of purchased TV content.

This new feature adds TV shows to iCloud, bringing the TV content to work the same way as music purchases have been since the update back in June following the iCloud announcement at WWDC 2011. Due to the update, users now have the the option to download purchased TV shows at will and for free as long as they are linked to the same iTunes Store account.  Also, the iTunes Store terms and conditions have been updated with new text covering the changes.

Notification of an additional type of previously-purchased content that may be subsequently downloaded to certain computers and devices as an accommodation to you, subject to existing association rules; and that such content may be played back on certain devices that are not subject to existing association rules, with limitations.

MacRumors notes that the changes have been covered under the section “Automatic Delivery and Downloading Previous Purchases Beta” which covers the two classes of downloadable content. One of the classes is “iTunes Auto-Delievery Content” which covers music and music videos which can be automatically downloaded to associated devices. The other clause being “iTunes Eligible Content” which covers  TV shows that must be downloaded manually.

Such a change usually requires licensing deals with content providers to be renegotiated, and thus probably why Apple has taken time to offer re-downloads for each media type and in each market.

Apple Announces iCloud Pricing and Opens iCloud.com to Developers

Back at WWDC in June, Apple announced a little project they call iCloud. It is their response to the idea of cloud computing, and it looks like it could be pretty nice. They have promised that every user will get 5GB of storage for free, with things purchased from Apple not counting towards your total. However, many users have been begging for pricing for additional storage.

Well, Apple is finally ready to dish on iCloud pricing. So far, we have been able to dig up pricing in US dollars,Pounds, and Euros. It looks like 10GB of storage will run you $20/ £14/16€, 20GB will be $40/ £28/32€, and 50GB will cost $100/ £70/80€. All of those prices are per year, not one shot.

If you are wondering where these prices came from, then I will be happy to tell you. It seems as thought Apple has flipped the switch on iCloud.com, bringing with it a beta test of iCloud. It looks like anyone with an Apple ID is capable of trying to sign-up. However, when I tried on my MacBook Pro running Lion, I couldn’t get it to work.

Early reports indicate that the current revision of iCloud is simply MobileMe made over. It offers a number of the same features, including a whole suite of web apps. The interface is very reminiscent of MobileMe, and even iOS. Its clear that Apple is continuing its mission to blur the lines between mobile and desktop platforms.

If you want to try and check out the beta, you can do so at iCloud.com. Let us know what you think of this update, or even iCloud in general, by leaving a comment below.

Apple Finally Acquires iPods.com

The iPod was first introduced in 2001, and a few months after someone registered the iPods.com domain name. Even though somebody squatted the domain and wasn’t putting it to use, Apple hadn’t shown interest to acquire the domain until recently. A month ago, TechCrunch reported that finally after 9 years Apple was interested in acquiring iPods.com. In order to do so, they filed a complaint for the domain with ICANN in June. Now, it seems that Apple has finally won the dispute over iPods.com with a World Intellectual Property Organization ruling granting Apple control of the domain. WIPO’s David Cairns has ordered the previous holder MP3Gold.com to hand the domain over.

iPods

In the past, Apple has used legal measures to acquire a domain name. Their recent acquisition was iCloud.com, but Apple usually prefers buying the addresses instead. Shortly after the original’s iPhone launch, Apple acquired iPhone.com and also managed to acquire iPhone4.com and WhiteiPhone.com days before.

Currently, Apple does not own several domains. For example, iPad.com, iPhone5.com, Macs.com, and many other domains that aren’t being used. Judging by Apple’s recent actions, it seems that they will plan to acquire these unused domains at some point. As of today, iPods.com still redirects to MP3Gold.com.

Android Captures Almost 50% of the Worldwide Smartphone Market

The global smartphone market has been exploding in terms of sales. In Q2 2011, the market grew 73% year on year, with shipments of almost 107.7 million units worldwide. However, not all smartphone platforms are seeing equal growth. Nokia’s Symbian and RIM’s Blackberry have been on the decline since months now, while Android and iOS are gaining market share every quarter.

Android

According to research firm Canalys, Android is the number one platform in over 35 of the 56 countries that it tracks. It now has a global market share of nearly 50%. About 52 million Android devices were shipped in Q2 2011, up 379% over Q2 2010.

It has an 85% share in South Korea, the home of Samsung – the largest Android device manufacturer, and a 71% share in Taiwan, where iPhones come to life. In the U.S. market, Android has a 39% share, while iOS has a 28% share.

About 20.3 million iPhones were shipped in the last quarter, making iOS the second most popular smartphone platform worldwide. It now has a 19% market share. Apple is now the largest smartphone manufacturer by sales.

Samsung comes a close second with close to 17 million unit shipments. It grew almost 421% year over year.

While Nokia still leads in emerging markets like China and India, it will soon be overtaken by Android devices.

Despite being bogged down by multiple lawsuits, Android is continuing its march ahead. The Droids are taking over the world.

iOS Developers Team Up to Fight Lodsys and Other Patent Trolls

Lodsys is probably the most hated patent troll right now. It started suing iOS app developers for implementing in-app purchasing in their apps, alleging patent infringement. The patent in question was actually handed to Lodsys by Intellectual Ventures, the greatest patent troll known to mankind.

Apple had actually licensed the patent from Intellectual Ventures, but Lodsys claimed that it didn’t cover the app developers, and that they should have to license it themselves. Apple has been trying to defend iOS developers, but there doesn’t seem to be any resolution in sight.

Recently, Lodsys also started going after independent Android developers, as well as biggies like EA, Rovio and Atari, slapping them with lawsuits.

Today, Mike Lee, an iOS developer announced the Appsterdam Legal Defense Team. He aims to rally all the affected indie developers together, and join forces to to fight off Lodsys and other patent trolls as one.

“We will let the patent trolls know: if you attack one indie, you attack all indies, and we will file every motion we can against you, we will attack your patents, and we will show you for the mafioso thugs you are.”

They will also be starting the Appsterdam Legal Defense Fund to accept contributions to fund the legal proceedings.

Most indie developers don’t have the resources to fight off trolls like Lodsys on their own, but if they all come together, they have a good chance of getting the frivolous lawsuits against them dismissed.

“Legal action will be the start of our three-pronged attack. Next we’ll take the fight to Washington, raising a wall of legislation against future attacks. Imagine a law that allows small software companies to opt out of the patent system.

We will also mobilize the many talented designers and evangelists in our community to launch a massive media marketing campaign to let the public know that small businesses, jobs, and the economy are being threatened by parasites.”

Via: ArsTechnica

Apple will Launch the iPhone 5 in October, Not September

You seriously thought Apple was going to launch the iPhone 5 in September? Hah!

According to yet another rumor about the iPhone 5, every rumor which said that the iPhone 5 will be launched in September is wrong. Apparently, “sources with knowledge of the situation” (the super-secret, anonymous kind) have claimed that the reports that the iPhone 5 will be launched in September are misinformed.

The sources also say that though AT&T is definitely blocking employee vacations for some launch event, it’s not going to be the iPhone 5 launch. According to them, the iPhone 5 will be launched only in October.

As the supposed launch date nears, the iPhone 5 rumor mill has gone into overdrive. There have been exactly 247 rumors about the iPhone 5 yet, with all of them claiming that it will be launched in September.

Normally I wouldn’t lend any credence at all to this new rumor. However, since this one has been published by AllThingsD, which has had a good track record so far, I’m really confused. It might turn out to be true after all.

Most rumors suggest that the iPhone 5 will come with an 8 MP camera and may sport a 4 inch display. It will also sport the new dual core A5 processor, like the iPad 2.

Apple Gets a Temporary Ban Against Samsung Tablets in Australia

Apple sued Samsung a few months ago for patent infringement related to the Galaxy line of devices. It alleged that Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone and Galaxy Tab tablets were infringing on multiple Apple patents and that Samsung had slavishly copied the iPhone and the iPad in creating these devices.

Samsung had fired back with its own counter-suit claiming that even Apple had infringed on its patents. It had also demanded prototypes of the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3 from Apple in a rather amusing move, which was denied. While the legal tussle is still going on in the U.S., Apple has managed to get a temporary injunction against Samsung in Australia.

Samsung will have to stop advertising and selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet in Australia until a final decision or settlement is made between the two parties.

Samsung will also have to provide Apple with three samples of the Australian version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 a week before it plans to start selling it in the country. The next hearing is scheduled for August 29.

In case Apple loses the lawsuit, it will have to pay damages to Samsung for the lost potential sales.

Sorry, Australian Android fans, you won’t be getting your hands on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for at least another month.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Apple Lawsuit Forces Amazon to Stop Using “Appstore” in Germany

Apple App StoreApple has not been very successful in its bid to get Amazon to stop using the term “Appstore” for its online application store, at least in the U.S.

A U.S. District Court judge recently ruled that it was unlikely that Amazon’s using the term would confuse customers, and denied a preliminary injunction to Apple.

However, according to a report by Dan Frommer, Apple’s lawsuit against Amazon seems to have had some temporary success in Germany. Amazon has had to stop accepting new apps from developers in Germany because of Apple’s legal action.

Amazon sent out an email to all its German App Developers:

    Dear Amazon Appstore Developer,

    Thank you for your participation in the Amazon Appstore for Android. We wanted to notify you of a recent change to your Developer Portal account; for the time being, we are not accepting new app submissions from developers located in Germany. We have been forced to impose this restriction due to a legal action filed by Apple in Germany seeking to prevent us from using the term appstore. We believe Apple’s claim is without merit and are actively contesting it.

    When you log into your Developer Portal account, you will notice that the options to add new apps have been removed. We hope to begin accepting new apps from German developers again soon and will notify you as soon as we are able to do so.

    We appreciate your patience and your continued interest in the Amazon Appstore for Android.

    Thank you,

    Amazon Appstore Account Team

It’s unlikely that Apple will win the lawsuit against Amazon even in Germany, but even a temporary restriction is better than nothing at all, right?