When Amazon released the Kindle Fire, many a developer was left wondering why Amazon forked Android and rolled a browser of their own – even though “Silk” is not bad, better browsers exist.

The folks from VisionMobile recently published a very interesting analysis, the key passage of which is below:

Routing the Silk browser’s traffic through its own servers allows Amazon to collect click streams — and not just when the user is shopping on Amazon.


It would make sense to license out the Silk browser to OEM manufacturers of smartphones or other tablets. … the OEM gains an additional revenue stream as a broker of Amazon foot traffic.

Find out more via the URL below:

http://www.visionmobile.com/blog/2012/09/the-kindelization-of-tablets-part-2-the-silk-strategy/

For someone who has been in the mobile industry since the times when apps cost 10$ a pop and were sold from ESDs, the Freemium model has always been a bit confusing. Long-term follower Nicola Peluchetti has now shared two very interesting articles which should help shine a bit of light on the topic.

Freemium has run its course
Post number one, coming via GigaOm, provides an overview of pros and cons of the Freemium model. It is ideal for all those who are interested in the history of Freemium apps, and also want to decide whether the model makes sense for their products.

Three Steps from Paid to Freemium
Story number two hits us via Betable.com. They have a talk with a Monetization expert from Rovio who explains the actual steps needed to create a successful freemium app – hit it when you have decided that Freemium fits your business concept.

Any interesting links to share?

So far, I have been a big fan of Steve Ballmer – he has, largely, shown a very good understanding of developers and licensees. However, this is written in past tense – marvel at the device below.
mssurface Microsoft Surface tablet   committing suicide, one by one

I do not see it as my job to comment the specifications. The device has a much more significant impact which will be felt all over the world: it is likely to alienate all, literally all, licensees which Microsoft still has.

You must keep in mind how past product launches were handled by Steve Ballmer – when Windows Mobile 6.5 was announced at the MWC, a TON of licensees were on stage at least shortly. Microsoft’s policy was easy: we build the OS, you do the rest.

Past anti-competitive practives of Microsoft have taught Microsoft’s partners a significant license: it is totally insane to run against a vendor where MSFT is successfully active.

The effect of this is clear: Android, and possibly even Symbian or webOS might soon get a lot of extra attention as vendors look for new platforms where they can rebase their devices.

After having largely damaged its market share in Windows Phone, they are likely to do the same in the tablet and maybe even notebook spaces – in short, the market has just heated up a lot.

What do you think?

An article from Forbes – inaccurately titled How China Ate Android – is currently making circles all over Nokia employee’s Twitter streams.

It contains the following passage, which is highlighted by the Nokia folks:

How is it possible the mid-tier Android vendors cannot eke out revenue growth with that kind of global Android unit explosion still going on?

The most likely explanation is the rapid expansion of the low-cost Android phone vendors, particularly ZTE and Huawei. I

Sadly, they fail to read on – as it contains the following passage, also:

… they are also eyeing other device segments. ZTE’s Windows model Tania is debuting in the UK at the monthly contract rate of 10 pounds – half of what the Nokia 710 will cost.

If you ask me, Nokia would have fared best with a proper version of Symbian – with Android being the second best. The reason for this has been outlined here before: while Windows Phone 7 is a nice platform, it is, by design, unsuitable for creating high end phones.

However, all the eeking and squeaking mainly takes place in the mid-range area. High-end Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note have little to fear from Chinese manufactutrers – they prefer the cushier mid- and low-range markets to the cold winds faced in the profitable, but challenging high-end market.

Let’s quote Winston Churchill: “I am not a person to be prodded. If anything, I am the prod”.

Sadly, Nokia has all but given up that position. So, better invest in impact dampers – and get aquainted to that prod…

samsung construction The Usurper   or   Why Samsung buys Sonys LCD shareWhen it comes to Samsung, most other mobile companies do not get the motives of this firm. Still today, I can hardly restrain my laughter when thinking about how Nokia accused Eldar Murtazin about “being sponsored by Samsung” – bollocks, the company just happens to be everywhere.

The BBC now reports the following:

Samsung Electronics has agreed to buy out Sony’s entire stake in their liquid crystal display (LCD) joint venture.

The Korean electronics maker said it will pay Sony 1.08tn won ($939m; 600m) in cash for its stake.

The move comes as Sony has been restructuring its TV business, which has been making a loss for the past seven years.

This report nicely fits into the Samsung picture – it is a little-known fact that the company offers, among other things, building services. In fact, the picture to the left of this story shows the Petronas Towers…which were, incidentally, built by Samsung.

Samsung’s management takes an extreme long-term view on many industries. For them, an investment makes sense even if it takes 10 years to pay off – especially if it gives you control over the competition. Let’s take a look at that.

If we look at past reviews, Samsungs products consistently stand out due to the extraordinarily high display quality. Furthermore, the devices tend to be very affordable – the launch price of the first-generation Wave (bada phone) can almost be called dumping.

All of this is made possible by a very unorthodox trend: anti-outsourcing! If you make the stuff other manufacturers have to buy, it gives you more leeway – selling an LCD to yourself at production costs is an entirely sensible decision as long as the end product makes money.

Of all firms in Mobile, no one has perfected this approach to the extent Samsung has – what do you think?

Image: Wikimedia Commons / SomeFormOfHuman

When CNET got their hands on Windows Phone (Nokia Lumia 800 to be precise), they were simply awestruck by the balance the platform had to offer. The UI was, well, slick, but was a lot less clunky, as per CNET.

According to the article:

The king is dead

Until not so long ago, that meant Apple. But something insane has happened. Something that we simply wouldn’t have countenanced just three short years ago.

One company makes a beautiful, intuitive, elegant interface, and the other makes a dated, clunky interface. But now it’s Microsoft showing off the thing of beauty, and Apple that’s behind the times. Microsoft is the underdog and Apple is the monolithic, restrictive monopoly. Has the world gone mad?

Sure, the iPhone and iPad interface is still slick and simple. But the shine is gone — iOS 5 looks almost exactly the same as iOS 4. Android showed what you can do when you can truly customise the look and feel of your phone, with its flexible home screens, handy widgets placing information right at your fingertips, and the capacity to alter any feature you like.

I seem to recall an old story, when the only smartphone OS of the time, Symbian, was bashed by everyone. People wanted behemoths of phones. They worshipped a large screen and a powerful processor, only to realise that the duo would eat battery faster. They demanded an app store like no other, only to trial a few apps and then delete them and move on to the next.

Nokia was undeniably the game setter, Apple was the game changer, Android was the turmoil that uprooted everyone, and yet RIM et al were wondering what just happened. This proves the age old proverb The only thing which is constant is change.

Source

According to the latest news, EU has adopted a resolution against SOPA, or Stop Online Piracy Act.

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which criticizes domain name seizures of infringing websites by US authorities. According to the resolution these measures need to be countered as they endanger the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication. With this stance the European Parliament joins an ever-growing list of opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act .

The MPAA and the RIAA are the forefront runners when it comes to trying to push Congress to pass the SOPA bill. Some of the companies supporting the SOPA are

  • Adobe
  • Apple
  • Autodesk
  • AVEVA
  • AVG
  • Bentley Systems
  • CA
  • Cadence Design Systems
  • CNC Software – Mastercam
  • Compuware
  • Corel
  • Dassault Systmes SolidWorks Corporation
  • Dell
  • Intel
  • Intuit
  • Kaspersky
  • McAfee
  • Microsoft
  • Minitab
  • Progress Software
  • PTC
  • Quark
  • Quest
  • Rosetta Stone
  • Siemens PLM Software, Inc.
  • Sybase
  • Symantec
  • TechSmith
  • The MathWorks

While the EU has taken more logical and sane steps than its counterpart in the west, we still have to see what happens if SOPA bill is passed in the US congress.

Green MEP Philippe Lamberts quoted

Net neutrality and open Internet — a core principle on which the internet was founded — is increasingly coming under threat, both in E.U. member states and beyond. The Greens are calling on the European Commission to enshrine net neutrality and the rights of internet users in European legislation, and on Commissioner Kroes to end her ambiguous stance on this vital issue.

SOPA bill guarantees breaking the back of the Internet and the ISPs. While the internet would be killed in its own way, throttled internet traffic will be a major catalyst in the chaos for both ISPs and consumers.

We urge you to join EFF (www.eff.org) to fight this war.

Update It seems those goons have hired some hackers to take down the EFF website.

EFF fown thumb EU takes a solid stance, will not support SOPA

Beware, if you are planning to manufacture a tablet that is quadrilateral (read as rectangular) in shape, has buttons or touchscreen of a good finesse, then you might find Apple lawyers knocking at your doors.

The same happened with a small company called NT-K. It is a Spanish company making elegant, four smooth edged, touch tablets. Well Apple thinks this is a violation of their intellectual property and their ingenious designs.

Apparently, I fail to understand why an ergonomically sane company would make a device with  sharp corners. This could well harm the owner. But if we believe Apple, then the universal right to make such gadgets that dont harm the owners reside with it. Hell what, even if your touch  is as good as their, and your UI as slick as theirs, you are a criminal to be damned for all eternity.

Well let us get back to the topic, According to FOSS Patents,

Apple accused nt-k in November 2010 of "copying" the iPad and went straight for a customs ban. As a result, Spanish customs seized shipments from China containing nt-k’s Android-based tablet. The little company temporarily appeared on an EU-wide list of product pirates, but worst of all, after some correspondence between the two companies, Apple also brought criminal charges on December 9, 2010 (as it had previously threatened in writing).

The Spanish company’s blog suggests that other small companies got a similar treatment from Apple but gave in. nt-k, however, didn’t want to be bullied and decided to defend itself vigorously. Another company doing so against Apple is a small German device maker named JAY-tech.

This makes very clear that Apple uses its might,  not to create fair competition, but to subdue the smaller fish with sheer force.

What makes Apples lawyers insanely retard is

In the meantime, the criminal lawsuit progressed, and based on the first-instance ruling, Apple’s charges were dismissed because the judge didn’t conclude that there was "sufficient justification" for a criminal case.

Even a blind imbecile knows when criminal charges are put on people, let alone corporations.

Well, NT-K, after kicking Apple lawyers right in the hemorrhoids, is now demanding compensation. It is asking for compensation for monetary damages, losses that NT-K has suffered, and the moral damages Apple has inflicted upon them and the whole small time OEMs.

We are hoping that other firms will take a cue from NT-K and will solidify their stance against Apple.

Due to a little bit of restructuring at Tamoggemon H.Q. (yours truly now manages the newssites again), we are slightly late to the Amazon Kindle Fire party. Nevertheless, the statement below – currently shown to all visitors of Amazon.com – deserves notice:
kindle fire letter Amazon Kindle Fire   or   pricing tablets right

In addition to this, we also have the following leaked sales data from CultOfAndroid (said to be on par with the iPad):
kindle fire sold out Amazon Kindle Fire   or   pricing tablets right

What this means for the tablet market is clear: lowering prices is key to mass adoption of tablets.

Keep in mind that the form factor is not new – tablet PCs have been around for ages, and, at prices of above 2000 USD; were bought by those who needed them for business. The iPad lowered the price and made the devices accessible to style-conscious customers; the stunts by Palm and Amazon now make the devices become mass market tools.

This is due to one factor: a tablet can not replace a PC, notebook or smartphone. It, instead, is a “supplementary device” used for a few minutes a day. Pricing the device to hit this market segment will be key…

bada opensource Open source   or   the fake silver bulletEven though I originally wanted to write something about the BlackBerry for quite some time, the ever-famous myth of “open source solves everything” IMHO needs debunking more urgently.

The reason for this hits us via the Wall Street Journal, who claim that Samsung is to open-source its bada platform shortly:

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930.SE) plans to open up its homegrown mobile software platform to outside developers and device makers next year in a bid to kick-start growth in the operating system and reduce its reliance on Google Inc.’s Android in the increasingly litigious smartphone and tablet computer business.

Samsung “is planning to make Bada software an open source platform next year,” a person familiar with the situation said, adding the South Korean firm has no plans to buy a software company.

Having seen a similar trend with various companies in the past, it is difficult to decide what Samsung wants to achieve. Given that Hutchison Austria has advertised bada as an “open source OS” in the past, it is entirely possible that Samsung wants to provide its developers with better debugging facilities similar to the source code sharing which has led to the Windows 2000 source code leak. This would be a smart move, making work a lot easier for its partners.

On the other hand, however, we could see a IT manager lemming reaction: when threatened (like the critter on the left), go open source. Then, expect to seee Linux number 2, with thousands of developers flocking in to develop for you. This trend has been visible with various companies, (almost) all of which have failed.

If Samsung expects to save development costs, this is a failed concept. Just because an OS is open source, it will not be developed – MeeGo is the best example. Finally, let’s let a former Symbian honcho speak his feelings:

The culture within Samsung is too secretive to make this work: in my view they would raise expectations they couldn’t fulfill, which is worse than not open sourcing in the first place. We saw quite a bit of that with Nokia too. Samsung would need to create an internal open source mindset and culture, while building an open source eco-system. We all have seeen with Nokia that this does not work, if you are under time pressure. In fact it is becoming increasingly clear that in fast paced markets, you can only build an open source project if you already have an open source culture. There are many examples: look at Eucalyptus vs. OpenStack in the fast moving cloud space. Even if you have an open source culture, you are disadvantaged if you are not perceived to have one (or perceived to have less of a track record than your competitor): see KVM (RedHat) vs. Xen (Citrix).

What do you think?

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Frode Inge Helland

Given the absurdly high prices for a limited set of features, the iPhone, according to me, is a sheer wastage of money. In India, it costs INR 32,000-37,000, depending upon the retailer. This money is surely big money, in many cases it is more than the monthly income of the buyer.

That is why, Apple, despite its efforts, has not been able to penetrate into the Indian market as other manufacturers.

I interviewed 45 people while travelling in the Delhi Metro who had some or the other sort of iPhone. The only questions I asked were the following:

1. From where did you buy the iPhone?

2. Why did you buy the iPhone?

3. Do you also own any other Apple product?

And the answers baffled me. 31 people said that they had got the iPhone from out of India through their friends and relatives. Out of these 31, only 8 paid the actual price. The rest were gifts. Also, out of these 31, only 16 people had the iPhone 4. All of the others had lower versions of the device.

The remaining 14 purchased their iPhones from the Indian Market. And out of these 14, 8 were purchased from the second hand market. The rest 6 were purchased brand new. Out of these 14, only 7 were the iPhone 4 and the rest were the lower variants.

Surprisingly, when asked why they chose an iPhone, 42 said because its the iPhone and its a status symbol. Its touch is amazing. and only 3 had chosen it after thorough research.

One guy even said that he had purchased an iPhone because Steve Jobs is GOD Open-mouthed smile

Surprisingly, only 1 of the entire 45 had a Mac with her and 5 had iPod shuffle.

Though we understand that these number are not credible enough as the number of people interviewed is too less. But it took me 11 whopping days to cover the nose to tail of Delhi Metro (except the 1st compartment, its reserved for ladies) to find these 45 iPhone carriers.

For a sensible man, these numbers quite point to the right direction as why Apple has decided to launch cheaper variants of the iPhones for the APAC region.

Enter the Dragon!!!!

When Nokia was regarded as the undisputed champ of phones (smart as well as featurephones) in India, there was a small company who identifies the loopholes in the market which Nokia couldnt plug in time. Those were the days  when a small time company called Micromax was formed. It not only identified the needs of the Indian market, but it also offered cutting edge cheap mobiles that were revolutionary at that time. What Nokia offered for INR 12,000+, Micromax was offering the similar speccd phones for INR 5,000. It ate the market of Nokia like anything.

Last year, it was the third largest Mobile handset compnay in India. I still have to ask them for the data of the last fiscal year. They were the pioneers of bringing the cheapest Android in the world. The first Dual SIm phones. And they have grown. Every third or fourth person I see is either carrying a Nokia or a Micromax,

And yesterday, while I was de-boarding the Delhi Metro after the trip to the doc, I found this:

30082011035 thumb Micromax challenges iPhone in a visual add, price is what matters in the end

While the biggest carriers in India have not been able to sell the iPhone, given the additional discounts that they offer, Micromax has slowly but steadily eaten up everything.

A flagship doesnt have to have a high price tag, as we have seen the disastrous Nokia N97, a true flagship something that carries your flag into the customers hearts. Something that everyone should buy. Something like the Sony PS3. Sony made a huge loss initially when it offered the behemoth at the extremely low price. But the PS3 paid Sony well off in the end. Sony earned from services and accessories. Something which The Mobile phone giants are not doing today. Something which Samsung has started with the Wave 2.

What is the point of selling something that the masses  can not afford? I call it absurdity.!!!

Do share your views on this article.

This week has been extremely “action-rich” for mobile heads – after Google bought up Motorola’s ailing handset division, HP just announced intent to stop selling its webOS handhelds.

So far, Android licensees have not stated much publicly. If they said something, it went along the lines of the statement below, which has also been relayed to me by a few friends in the industry:

As long as Google doesn’t coddle Motorola, the patents of the M guys could be extremely helpful in the patent lawsuits with Apple et al. Of course, the situation must be monitored.

ThisIsMyNext, an Engadget spin-off, shared the following statement:

In the meeting, webOS GBU VP Stephen DeWitt made it clear that HP intends to continue to work on webOS and likely intends to license it. DeWitt was adamant, saying several times We are not walking away from webOS. He detailed a plan to try to determine what the platforms future will look like within the next two weeks, although he admitted that Clearly, we dont have all the answers today.

For HP, webOS has already fulfilled one problem: they now have an RTOS, and no longer have to cough up for every printer which they sell. But let us think about it for a minute – if webOS is “maintained” by HP, but HP doesn’t make any devices, where does that put us?

Exactly: in the position of an operating system vendor. HP could act as an escape venue for Android licensees who get paranoid about the Motorola deal (which will happen over time, for sure); and seek another smartphone platform.

What do you think?

According to Wikipedia,

A Patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state (national government) to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention. The exclusive right granted to a patentee in most countries is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention without permission.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The hard fact lies beneath. Patents are granted for an uncomfortably long duration of  time. And companies are, and have been using, or rather abusing, the patent system to cut down on competition and kill creativity.

The instant question that comes to the mind after reading the above statement is that Mr Singh, are you referring to the Microsoft and Android patent wars and extortion? My answer would be yes. The world thinks that Microsoft and Apple are evil corporations that do not have anything else to do rather than bug small time firms, which are already hard on cash, with their lousy patent wars.

But they did not come with this ingenious idea by themselves. Probability is that someone from these companies might have had read history. And there goes a story 30 years prior to the present day.

When Sun microsystems was still in its infancy, in 1980, a team of men dressed in dark blue  suits visited its office to tell Sun that it was infringing seven of  IBMs patents. In the largest conference room Sun had, they all crammed up along with the employees of Sun, all of who had engineering and law degrees.

After IBM presented them with a presentation on how Sun infringed on IBMs patents, Sun meticulously busted their claims on a whiteboard.

The chief blue suit orchestrated the presentation of the seven patents IBM claimed were infringed, the most prominent of which was IBM’s notorious "fat lines" patent: To turn a thin line on a computer screen into a broad line, you go up and down an equal distance from the ends of the thin line and then connect the four points. You probably learned this technique for turning a line into a rectangle in seventh-grade geometry, and, doubtless, you believe it was devised by Euclid or some such 3,000-year-old thinker. Not according to the examiners of the USPTO, who awarded IBM a patent on the process.

After Sun had ingeniously defended its stance and proved that only one of the seven IBM patents would be deemed valid by a court, and no rational court would find that Sun’s technology infringed even that one.

An awkward silence ensued. The blue suits did not even confer among themselves. They just sat there, stonelike. Finally, the chief suit responded. "OK," he said, "maybe you don’t infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?"

After a modest bit of negotiation, Sun cut IBM a check, and the blue suits went to the next company on their hit list.

Now comes  the story of the developers in the US. Apparently, app developers are withdrawing their apps from the US App store and the Android Market for no reason other than the fear of a lawsuit from corporations like MS, Apple, and companies like an Lodsys and similar kind who have gone on a patent trolling crusade.

These patents have grown up into a revenue generating tool. The trick is simple, you just find a small time company who infringes a part of your patent, and you threaten it with a choice: lawsuit or extortion. The small time developers, even if they are not guilty, are not able to bear the costs of defending themselves. They eventually have to give up.

Developers have responded to this with comments like

selling software in the US has already reached the non-viable tipping point

starting to get seriously concerned about my future as a software developer due to these patent issues

far too dangerous to do business in the US because of the risk of software patent lawsuits.

Screen shot thumb The story of patent wars and developer woes

Just imagine the tremendous loss of the consumer and creativity alike.

We wonder if the current patent system makes any sense for a free market economy? Even a child would deduce that the patent system, combined with extortion would do nothing more  than killing the introduction of new and better products.

Readers are welcome to share their thoughts on the same.

via and via

More coverage from the event is coming shortly!
Recapitulating many of the speeches and talks with other attendants, it looks like the GSMA’s motto of embracing the transformation was indeed accomplished: we saw little truly new, yet a lot of traditionally high-tech stuff is now on its way to price-conscious consumers.

From a device manufacturers viewpoint, the focus areas were clear: tablets with Android (one webOS) and loads of cheap smartphones using outdated screens. Power users were treated to a few dual core Android phones and a 3D phone from LG.

Speaking of 3D: industry pundits have long stipulated that content would be the the next battle area. This turned out to be true: hundreds of very happy content providers were roaming the scene.

Day four traditionally is rather useless, as most important people leave in the morning. However, the Fira showed an especial lack of talent this time: not only was security onerous as always, but they actually managed to have queues in front of most male toilets (!!!).

WhatAMap.com (the supplier of the on-device catalog) didn’t shine too much, either. Last year, the app was just a disaster to use – this year, it wasn’t even able to display contact information or booth addresses:
mwc fail Mobile World Congress 2011   event impressions

If you add in the normal traffic queues and the onerous waits fort a taxi, you get a very tiresome event. This was echoed by more than one participant, who wished that the next event would be held at another city…

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