Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft and Motorola Sued by NTP

Never heard of NTP before? Well, that’s probably because there is no good reason to be aware of them, other than their obsession with litigations. NTP was founded by late Thomas Campana Jr., who amassed more than 50 patents for his contributions towards wireless email.

NTP first came into prominence when it sued Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of Blackberry handsets. That lawsuit ultimately fetched it a $612 million settlement in 2006. Now, NTP is gunning for Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft and Motorola.

NTP is claiming that the aforementioned companies violate eight patents pertaining to wireless push email technology. Donald E. Stout, NTP’s co-founder, said, “Use of NTP’s intellectual property without a license is just plain unfair to NTP and its licensees. Unfortunately, litigation is our only means of ensuring the inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless email is based, Tom Campana, and NTP shareholders are recognized, and are fairly and reasonably compensated for their innovative work and investment. We took the necessary action to protect our intellectual property.”

NTP is obviously looking for a big payout. However, it has chosen to take on the giants in the mobile space. The legal battle is going to be an arduous and long drawn out one. Don’t expect a settlement or a verdict anytime soon.

Opera Mini 5.1 Released: Optimized For 3000 Phones

Opera Mini 5 was a significant update to the world’s most popular mobile browser, which made it a whole lot more awesome. Unfortunately for some users, Opera Mini 5 didn’t work on the absolute low-end handsets that Opera Mini 4 handled with aplomb.

Opera Mini 5.1, the first significant update to Opera Mini 5, is optimized to run on phones with low memory. The updated build features a refined skin with improved tab handling and introduces overall performance improvements.

Opera-Mini-5-1

While this update is not critical for smartphone users, it is a highly recommended update for everyone using Opera Mini on low-end handsets (especially those who have been encountering out of memory issues).

The goal with Opera Mini is to make the Web available to anyone, anywhere, regardless of where they come from or the handset they have,said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. More than 61 million people on over 3000 devices have chosen to surf the Web with Opera Mini for fast and easy Internet access at a considerably lower cost.

You can find out more about Opera Mini 5 from our previous articles. Opera Mini can be downloaded from m.opera.com and opera.com/mobile/download/. Desktop wallpapers celebrating the new release are also available from the Opera Design Blog.

MeeGo 1.0 Updated For Netbooks

MeeGo 1.0 which was released for Netbooks and last month has been updated to fix bugs and add new features. The core MeeGo OS for netbooks has been updated to MeeGo 1.0.1 and only supports netbooks running on the Intel Atom processors.

MeeGo 1.0 OS

The update versioned MeeGo v1.0.1 has over 100 bug fixes and is a recommended update for all users running MeeGo 1.0. MeeGo has now been update to use 2.6.33.5 kernel and also has improvements in 3D performance. USB storage finding time has been decreased from 5 seconds to 1 second too.

In addition to that, there are also enhancements in the web browser and several fixes for the mail client. Users who are already using MeeGo 1.0 will get an notification that you have an "Important update available". Click Install updates when you see this notification, and follow the instructions on the screen to install your updates.  You can also manually update MeeGo 1.0 to the latest version by navigating in the user interface to Applications -> System Tools -> Update System.

3 Adds Xperia X10 Mini Pro and HTC Wildfire Phones

The 3 Network in UK has added the Xperia X10 Mini Pro and HTC Wildfire phones to its catalog of available phones. HTC Wildfire runs on whereas Xperia Mini Pro runs on a customized version of 1.6.

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Xperia X10 Mini Pro will be available in two colors: black and white starting 9 July, 2010. The HTC Wildfire has already started selling since July 2 and is available in the Metal Mocha color. Both Xperia X10 Mini and HTC Wildfire are available for £30 a month on 3’s One plan with 2,000 any network minutes, 5,000 3 network minutes, 5,000 texts, 1GB of data and a six month free subscription to Spotify Premium.

Also See: Top 10 Android Based Phones in The Market

Xperia X10 Mini Pro has some impressive specifications and is one of the smallest Android based phones. HTC Wildfire on the other hand is a smaller version of Desire and is expected to get an update in the next few months. 3 is also offering both Xperia X10 Mini Pro and HTC Wildfire on pay as you go, where you have to pay £199 for the HTC Wildfire and £249 for the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro.

Apple’s Solution to Proximity Sensor Woes: Close the Window and Clean Your Ear!

Apple-iPhone All the hoopla surrounding the iPhone 4 antenna issues have drawn attention away from another problem numerous iPhone 4 users have been facing – the unpredictable proximity sensor. When TUAW‘s Aron Trimble experienced problems with his proximity sensor he decided to seek help from the Apple Store’s Genius Bar.

The designated genius at the Apple Store brushed aside Trimble’s complaint and suggested that he should simply try closing the window. According to the Apple employee, the proximity sensor in the iPhone 4 can be triggered by the extra ambient light bouncing around the caller’s ear.

So, now you have a phone that requires you to develop a special grip to make calls, clean your ears and stay in a dark environment! Steve Jobs’ you’re holding it wrong remark was callous. But, this definitely takes the cake.

Nokia Goes After Eldar Murtazin: Contacts Russian Authorities

Remember the explosive and exclusive review of Nokia N-8 by Mobile-review.com? The famed gadget blogger Eldar Murtazin had managed to get his hands on a pre-production unit even before the handset was officially announced. His review created quite a splash as it was republished all over the web (including on Techie Buzz). Soon after, Nokia officially announced the phone, perhaps to quell the tide of negative publicity.

Nokia-N8

Nokia also published a blog post titled “One of our children is missing“. The Finnish mobile giant made it clear that it is determined to protect its intellectual property and get the handset back. At the same time, Nokia took a potshot at Apple and promised to retain its culture of openness. Unfortunately, it appears that the relationship between Nokia and Murtazin has taken a turn for the worse.

TechCrunch is reporting that Nokia contacted the Russian authorities after Murtazin failed to respond to repeated requests to return the stolen N8 handset. Here is the statement issued by Nokia:

To be perfectly clear, we are defending our intellectual property by asking for the return of all unauthorised property in Mr. Murtazin’s possession.

This is not about attacking bloggers or people who give critical reviews of our products. So as we don’t confuse the issue, while this individual does operate a blog, he is also very public about being a consultant’ to other international mobile manufacturers. He has confirmed he is in possession of unauthorised Nokia prototypes and other intellectual property, and we have asked for their return. Whether Mr. Murtazin’s actions were as a blogger, or whether he is acting in the capacity of a consultant in order to provide information to his clients is an open question.

We’re not able to comment on what would or would not happen if the unauthorised property were returned. It would be inappropriate to speculate on future actions at this stage. However, you can be sure that we are prepared to take all appropriate and legal measures to protect our intellectual property. We believe every individual or organization has the right to protect itself.

For his part Eldar Murtazin claims that none of Nokia’s communications reached him. He also goes on to state that his numerous attempts to contact representatives of Nokia have been futile.

While Nokia is legally entitled to protect its intellectual property, its latest actions don’t go well with the “Good Boy” image the giant has managed to build and retain over the years. Nokia wants the Russian authorities to determine the appropriate course of action. Let’s hope that the situation doesn’t get ugly like it did in the Gizmodo vs. Apple incident.

Cheaper Android Phones Coming to Asian Markets like China and India

Google-Android Android has gone from strength to strength over the past few months. Thanks to the exponential increase in the number of Android handsets and the rapid growth of the Android Market, Google is now a worthy challenger to Apple. However, there is definitely scope for more improvement. And, Google knows it.

Google is already working on Android 3.0, which will be possibly targeted at high-end devices and is expected to introduce significant improvements to the platform. However, that doesn’t mean that Google is ignoring mid-range or budget smart phones. According to Businessweek, Google is working with hardware manufacturers to introduce cheaper Android powered handsets in crucial Asian markets like China and India.

Andy Rubin, VP of engineering at Google said, “The down-market opportunity is about to happen. It’s actually quite a revolution”. In markets like India, iPhone has barely managed to make a dent. Instead, companies like Nokia rule the roost with their wide range of attractively priced handsets. By encouraging manufacturers like Huawei Technologies and LG Electronics to introduce cheaper handsets, Google is hoping to expand its reach and attract more developers.

5 Billion Active Mobiles By 2010 End

There is no doubt that smartphones has exploded into the market making its way into the pockets of users and replacing several desktop and laptops in the process. Mobiles which were a replacement for landline phones have quickly grown from being a device you make a phone call from to becoming a device you can almost do pretty much everything with, at-least in a basic way.

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Image Credit: Flare Network

However, the mobile growth has not yet peaked and it will continue to grow in the coming years. According to a recent study by ABI Research, the total number of active mobile connections is expected to grow to 5 billion by 2010 end.

Most of the growth is expected to be registered in Africa and Asia-Pacific regions. India, which has one of the largest mobile population had already crossed 529 million users sometime back and now has more than 600 million mobile subscribers. At the same time the Africa telecom industry has also been growing at an healthy pace.

In addition to this, developing nations like India and Africa also have several choices with low-end handsets being launched there every day. This in turn makes it easier for people to get their hands on a mobile phone. The 5 billion mobile mark will definitely be a huge milestone, considering that 5 billion people may not even have access to broadband internet.

This number might grow significantly in future when more internet tablets are launched. Though internet devices may not be mobile phones, they are pretty close to the features you can find in one. However, the smartphone growth may not be as dramatic in developing nations due to the cost.

(Network World via Techmeme)

Google Voice Desktop Application Leaked

Looks like Google Voice might be trying to take over Skype on the desktop in the future. In a video that aired on TechCrunch today, Mike Arrington got hold of the Google Voice Desktop application using which he could make and receive calls.

Google Voice Desktop

The calls were of pretty high quality and did were made using the inbuilt speaker and microphone on the computer. The Google Voice Desktop app has a definitive edge over the Skype application because it is attached to your actual phone number. If this app is released it will make it really easy for users to make phone calls from their desktop just like Skype and will definitely make Google Voice one of the best innovations ever.

Google Voice is now available to all US users without having to wait for an invite. Hopefully we should also see this app being released soon. Till then watch a video below of the Google Voice Desktop application in action. (RSS readers, click here to view the video)

(via TechCrunch)

Apple Provides iPhone Customers Toll-Free Numbers to Try Out FaceTime

Apple is encouraging new iPhone 4 owners to try out FaceTime by calling the toll-free number 1-888-FACETIME (332-3846). FaceTime is an open video telephony standard developed by Apple. At the moment it is available only on the iPhone 4; however, Apple is hoping that other influential players will also adapt and develop it.

Apple-Facetime-Demo

Upon calling the toll-free number, users will reach an Apple representative who will initiate a FaceTime conversation and guide the user through different facets of this new service.

The iPhone is capable of seamlessly switching from a regular call to FaceTime mode. Once FaceTime is initiated you won’t be using your cell minutes. Instead, you will be communicating over the Wi-Fi, which is a necessary per-requisite for FaceTime. Either the front or the rear camera can be used during FaceTime.