Nokia To Skip US With Windows Phone Initially, A Smart Move

The rumor making rounds is that Nokia won’t be gunning for the US market with their initial Windows Phone launch. My first reaction was that this is crazy and stupid for a company that’s betting itself on the platform only to miss out on the highly anticipated holiday season in US.

Apple, Google, HTC and Samsung have already shown promising products. Apple’s iPhone 4S is selling a lot, Google’s Android ICS and Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus are interesting, feature packed devices. HTC along with Samsung have unveiled their Windows Phone lineup. A lot was being said about Nokia after the burning memo; CEO Stephen Elop has talked about Nokia’s failure to capture the US market and promised to fix this. Unfortunately according to an Ad Age report, those plans don’t go into motion till 2012. The report cites Nokia is focusing on Europe for now and I believe, after some thinking, that it’s a good move.

An analyst is quoted in the Ad Age report stating that Nokia needs to improve their presence in Europe and this might be good start. As of now Europe does not have a lot of exciting second generation Windows Phone devices. HTC is the only company that has announced the HTC TITAN and HTC Radar for some European countries. The first generation Windows Phone range in Europe was disappointing. Some handsets were available in some countries and there weren’t a lot of handsets to choose from in the first place.

With Nokia concentrating on Europe and Samsung focusing  (see what I did there?) on the US market, Microsoft can make its presence felt in both markets simultaneously. The US market is tricky because of subsidies and carrier contracts, Nokia has always had a problem with those and it would be a good idea to think their strategies through after piloting the devices in Europe. If Nokia (and I  believe  that is their plan) is able to succeed as the popular Windows Phone OEM in Europe AND sell a considerable number of these devices, they can get some of their lost reputation back to venture into the US. Given their current situation and carriers already investing in HTC & Samsung, it would be difficult for Nokia to make a mark for themselves.

Nokia is expected to have phones targeting the mid and expensive markets with the Sabre and 800, respectively. The strategy can work in countries like India and even Europe. Price points matter. Even Apple sells the previous generation iPhones at a cheaper price.

My initial reaction was that of disappointment but for Nokia, on second thought, it might be a good strategy.

Microsoft Signs Android Patent Deal with Compal

After Samsung, HTC, Quanta and many other helpless Android device manufacturers, Microsoft has managed to sign a patent licensing agreement with yet another Android ODM (original design manufacturer) which manufacturers Android smartphones and tablets for third parties.

It announced its tenth licensing agreement with Compal Electronics, one of the largest Android device manufacturers with revenues of over $28 billion in the last year.

Microsoft Android Licensing

With this deal, Microsoft is now getting a cut from Android device sales from almost all major Android smartphone and tablet manufacturers except Motorola, against which it filed a lawsuit.

In terms of market share, Microsoft has licensing deals with smartphone manufacturers, accounting for almost 53% of all Android smartphones in the U.S. Thanks to its licensing deals with Quanta, Wistron and now Compal, it also makes money off 55% of the Android ODM market by sales.

Microsoft Android Licensing

Microsoft has perhaps been the greatest beneficiary of Android. It stands to make billions of dollars from patent licensing deals from Android device manufacturers in the coming year, while Google seems unable to defend them, despite buying Motorola and its huge patent stash for $12.5 billion earlier this year.

I hate to repeat myself, but Android is indeed becoming Microsoft’s latest cash cow. And Microsoft is milking the hell out of it.

Microsoft’s Official YouTube Channel Got Hacked – Video

It looks like an unknown hacker has be-seized Microsoft’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/microsoft. The hacker has deleted all the original uploads and has uploaded a couple of brief videos, exposing the hack. A big loss!

microsoft-youtube-channel-hacked

Just the earlier week, Sesame streets YouTube channel got hacked with porn and the vulgar videos were available for 20 minutes, until YouTube took them down. In Microsoft’s case, no offensive videos have been uploaded so far. We managed to record a screencast of the entire channel, just in case you miss the hackers show while YouTube staff get their hands dirty and take the channel down eventually.

Here is the screencast:

While I was busy recording the above video, the hacker changed the YouTube channel background to a more creepy one.

microsoft-youtube-channel-compromised

The hacker has added a message on the channel that reads I DID NOTHING WRONG I SIMPLY SIGNED INTO MY ACCOUNT THAT I MADE IN 2006 :/. This is certainly not a glitch on YouTube’s part and I am rather surprised on the fact that a major Tech company’s social assets can be hacked so easily. And after hacking the channel for more than an hour, why is the hacker not uploading porn or other  embarrassing  videos, instead of silly uploads e.g “need a channel background”?. This is abnormal on both fronts.

We will update this post when we have some more information about how this mess happened.

 

Revelations About Obama, Bill Gates & Google From Steve Jobs’s Upcoming Bio

A lot is being said about Steve Jobs after his death by those who liked and those who didn’t. The fact is even if Apple wasn’t the first, they did it better. Tablet  manufacturers  haven’t been able to come up with devices as feature rich as the iPad at the same price. Innovation in IT isn’t about the final product, there’s a lot more around it. Apple’s ability to leverage exclusive bulk components and create an efficient supply chain for itself is an integral part of the company’s success. Walter Isaacson who’s a big deal in the publication industry was chosen by Steve Jobs to write his official  biography. With Jobs’s untimely death, the book is being published ahead of schedule and quotes from the book have started causing ripples. The book has information about why Jobs wore his traditional polo neck tshirt for keynotes. It has to do with Sony’s uniforms at their factory and Jobs wanting something similar for Apple.  An excerpt shared by Gawker  from the biography  talks about the turtlenecks:

Sony, with its appreciation for style, had gotten the famous designer Issey Miyake to create its uniform. It was a jacket made of rip-stop nylon with sleeves that could unzip to make it a vest. So Jobs called Issey Miyake and asked him to design a vest for Apple, Jobs recalled, “I came back with some samples and told everyone it would great if we would all wear these vests. Oh man, did I get booed off the stage. Everybody hated the idea.” In the process, however, he became friends with Miyake and would visit him regularly. He also came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, both because of its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey a signature style. “So I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them.”

The more interesting details have now started to come out as the book release nears. Associated Press got a copy of the book and their technology writer  Michael Liedtke has shared some of Jobs thoughts in the book.

On Microsoft:

On Google, Android and Larry Page:

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.” (via Associated Press)

On Obama’s presidency:

The Huffington Post quotes Steve Jobs meeting President Obama at the Westin  San  Francisco  Airport, warning the President that he is heading for a single term presidency citing regulations that restrict business. Jobs said, “You’re headed for a one-term presidency.”

Steve Jobs’s famous return to Apple and the company’s subsequent success against Microsoft is something everyone will remember. Luckily for Google, Steve’s poort health robbed the tech world of another epic battle.

Is WinComm Going to be the New WinTel?

A recent report by Bloomberg states that Microsoft is working with Qualcomm to produce smartphone chipsets in order to drive prices down for Windows Phone devices, so that it can capture a bigger share of the smartphone market.

Currently the cost of producing a Windows Phone device is close to $400, but Microsoft is working with component suppliers to bring it down to $200, so that manufacturers can bring Windows Phone device prices down.

Andy Lees, head of the Windows Phone division said:

“Microsoft works exclusively with Qualcomm to develop chips that power handsets using its system, allowing it to specify technical details to ensure devices run more smoothly. There is currently no plan to work with other semiconductor makers for Windows Phone 7 devices.”

WinTel (Windows + Intel) –> WinComm (Windows + Qualcomm) ?

The first thing that came to my mind when I read this statement, was the WinTel alliance of the last decade. Microsoft and Intel completely dominated the market using monopolistic actions that led to antitrust lawsuits against both of them. Both had near 90% market share in their respective markets at their peak, with negligible competition.

However, the WinTel domination broke off in the early 2000s due to various factors. More recently, Microsoft announced that it would make Windows 8 compatible with both X86 and ARM processors, which further soured the relationship between Microsoft and Intel.

If Windows Phone does take off, we could see it happen again in the form of WinComm (Windows + Qualcomm).

However, it seems unlikely, given the growing popularity of Android and iOS which are already dominating the smartphone landscape, and are unlikely to cede ground any time soon.

Nokia 800 Renders Revealed

If you were under the impression that the MeeGo-powered N9 was staying out of North America to reduce confusion as to Nokia’s future with Windows Phone 7, this might be a bit confusing.

Rumors, pictures and even videos of the Nokia ‘SeaRay’ were circulated less than 24 hours after the N9 was announced. Nokia was adamant and strong in their stance of sticking with Windows Phone 7. It seems many media outlets are too simple to understand that Nokia is a global company. Nevertheless, the N9 will not ship to North America through carriers. Nokia wants to provide a clear and concise offering to customers. Windows Phone 7 is new, it’s fresh and it’s different…except that last bit.

PocketNow has published press shots of a Nokia WP7 phone. The Nokia 800, likely to be unveiled at Nokia World in a few weeks, looks exactly like the aforementioned N9. See the trio of devices above? That is a render of the N9 in Cyan, Black and Blue. What is immediately below? Why that’s the 800…in Cyan and Black. Confused yet?

You’ll notice almost no difference unless you look at the render of the Blue 800. Keep staring, it will come to you eventually.

The inclusion of a camera shutter button is the only immediate thing that separates the N9 from the 800, unless you count the software that actually makes this thing useful. The 800 runs Windows Phone 7 Mango, while the N9 runs MeeGo-Harmattan. Very different software, polar opposites. Very similar hardware, almost the exact same thing. To think, the only reason Nokia has decided to let the N9 fall by the wayside was to not confuse customers? The numbers clearly make sense. N9 – MeeGo = N800 + Mango.

The only thing worse that could happen, is finding out there is some truth to an N9 clone running Android Gingerbread. Actually, scrap that, iOS5 on an N9 would really seal the deal.

Dell, HP to Launch Windows 8 Tablets in Q3 2012

Windows 8 has been able to shore up some support from device manufacturers already. Android hasn’t been doing too well on tablets, which is why some manufacturers like Dell are waiting for Windows 8 to move forward with their tablet plans. It recently announced that it would focus on Windows 8 for tablets, not on Android.

HP, also almost quit the tablet game after the disastrous market response to its webOS powered TouchPad, which was eventually offloaded in a fire-sale.

Windows 8

According to a new report by Digitimes, HP and Dell are already working on the development of Windows 8 tablets. They will be launched after Windows 8 becomes publicly available in the third quarter of 2012.

With Amazon poised to take over the low end of the tablet market and Apple dominating the high end, Windows 8 seems like the best alternative for tablet manufacturers.

Google will be unveiling Android Ice Cream Sandwich tomorrow, which will be a unified OS for smartphones and tablets. It could potentially tilt the scales in Android’s favor. However, the lack of tablet apps for the Android platform continue to be a significant deterrent for those planning to buy a Android tablet. Unless Google is able to solve that, Microsoft stands a good chance to beat Android with Windows 8.

Microsoft Completes $8.5 Billion Skype Acquisition

Microsoft has finally completed the Skype acquisition, 5 months after it first announced it. While the boards of both Skype and Microsoft approved the acquisition right away, there was the risk of regulatory authorities playing spoilsport.

Eventually, the deal was approved by regulatory authorities in both the U.S. and Europe. It is still pending regulatory approval in a few small countries.

Skype is a phenomenal product and brand that is loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world. We look forward to working with the Skype team to create new ways for people to stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues — anytime, anywhere,said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Skype will be absorbed into a new division, and will continue to offer Skype in its current form to consumers worldwide. Going forward, Microsoft plans to integrate Skype’s VOIP and video capabilities into various products like Microsoft Windows, Office, Xbox and Windows Phone.

It may also enter the enterprise VOIP and video conferencing market, which is currently dominated by Cisco.

With the Skype acquisition, Microsoft is also in a better position to compete with Apple’s Facetime and Google’s Google Voice.

Check out the official press release by Microsoft: Microsoft Officially Welcomes Skype

Microsoft Enters Android Patent Licensing Deal with Quanta

Another Droid bites the dust. Microsoft’s legal team is on a roll these days. Going by the events of the past few months, I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft’s legal team at its Intellectual Property Group becomes Microsoft’s top revenue engine in the future, overtaking even Windows and Office.

After the recent patent licensing deal with Samsung, Microsoft has entered yet another deal with Quanta Computer Inc. Microsoft will now receive royalties from Quanta for every Android or Chrome device that they ship.

Here’s Microsoft’s official statement:

We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Quanta, and proud of the continued success of our Android licensing program in resolving IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome devices in the marketplace,said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft.

Microsoft now has patent licensing agreements with every major Android device manufacturer, including Samsung, HTC, Onkyo, Wistron, Acer, Viewsonic, and now Quanta. Android is certainly going to become one of Microsoft’s top cash cows soon, if it hasn’t already. If I were in charge at Microsoft, I probably wouldn’t even bother pushing Windows Phone now. It probably won’t make Microsoft as much money as Android, ever.

Google must be really pissed!

Microsoft Research Launch their First Game Project on Facebook

Microsoft Research has launched a Facebook game application, Project Waterloo, that allows users to play the two-player turn-based Blotto game with other Facebook users. Project Waterloo has been developed at the Microsoft Research lab in Cambridge.

project-waterloo

This engaging and addictive game is played by two players; each has 100 troops at their disposal and needs to allocate those troops among five battle fields. Once both players have allocated their troops, the winner is determined by finding which of the two players has won more battles. A battle is won by having allocated more troops than the opponent. The game is complex from a game-theoretic perspective, and is a great test case for studying actual strategic behavior of Facebook users.

The game is the first release under Microsoft Research’s Research Games‘ project. The project aims to discover the behavior of real people in game theoretic interactions on social networks. While a user tests his mental and perception abilities against his friends, researchers try to understand these behaviors that help develop better models of social and economic activities.