Earlier this year Google sold off Motorola to Lenovo. What some people didn't know is that Google retained one secret division at Motorola called the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group that is headed by Regina Dugan, the former director of the U.S. Defense Department's fabled Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) which developed the Internet, satelite navigation and stealth fighters. We covered Regina Dugan in a report earlier this year regarding Motorola's electric Skin Tattoo project. Google's ATAP group introduced a new project back in October 2013 which has only recently come to light. It's Project Ara which is an initiative that aims to develop a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. The platform will include a structural frame that holds smartphone modules of the owner's choice, such as a display, keyboard, extra battery or larger camera. It has the potential of revolutionizing the smartphone as we know it. The question becomes: Will this geeky concept actually turn into the new social chic? We'll know soon enough because it's being targeted for public release next year.
On the February 15 we reported that IPCom who was suing Apple for US$2.2 billion dollars was seeking documents from Apple in a California Subpoena. It was reported at the time that Samsung and Google lawyers were to represent the licensing firm against Apple. Well, that didn't help any being that the German Court threw out the case today finding that there was no infringement.
Apple started 2014 off with a bang in India with price cuts to the original iPad and agressively re-introduced the iPhone 4 at US$369 (India Rupees 22,900), as the iPhone 5C was still priced too high for the average Indian. While Apple's marketing steps were starting to get some traction in India, local online megastores stepped in with out of control price slashing to counter Apple's every move. Apple has been trying to enter the Indian Market with a chain of new Apple Stores that would provide the Indian consumer with a positive Apple environment, sales training and better after sale support to counter local online stores but the Indian Government has refused to change their policies that would allow Apple to enter that market directly. Today, Apple is starting an all new marketing program in India to support their local distributors. Apple is bringing back the their 1984 test drive marketing idea, but for iPhones this time around.
A Korean business website, who is traditionally pro Samsung, reported today that they were disappointed in the new Galaxy S5 unveiled in Barcelona on Monday. The report noted that the Galaxy S5's specifications didn't live up to market expectations. But Korea's Electronic Times news vehemently disagrees and claims that Samsung's real surprise is being withheld for now but that it's in the wings.
During the ongoing Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Dolby's Chief Marketing Officer, Bob Borchers, the former director of product marketing at Apple, announced that Dolby had entered deeper collaborations with two of the leading Chinese smartphone makers ZTE and Huawei. Yet what got people's attention was Borchers comments about the original 2007 iPhone.
A Few weeks back Brand Finance Global 500 put out their list of the world's 500 most valued brands and Apple was named number one again for the third year in a row. Today, Fortune published their list of the top 100 most admired companies in the world, with Apple landing on top for the seventh consecutive year.
Apple Invents a Cosmetic Inspection System to keep iDevices Blemish Free and Revisits their Standalone Camera Patent
On February 27, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals yet another level of their fanatical attention to detail to ensure that iDevices rolling off the production line are particle and blemish free. Earlier today we posted another report covering Apple's intent to add self-healing material to iDevice and Mac display backlights to ensure that artifacts are self-eliminated. So while Apple advances their iDevices with features like Touch ID, we able to see through today's inventions that they also pay attention to the finer details that make premium Apple products. Today's report concludes with revisiting Apple's patent pending invention regarding a handheld standalone camera that Apple is still tweaking.
On February 27, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Systems and Methods for Preventing Light Guide Plate Scratching Artifacts." Apple's invention details the possible use of self-healing and Teflon coatings to protect the backlight from being scratched which produces annoying artifacts on iDevice and Mac displays. Apple's gorgeous Retina Displays may soon shine even more with Apple's push to eliminate unsightly artifacts
On February 27, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a number of interesting possible future features for Macs, televisions or even a car dashboard. With the addition of new sensors hidden in Macs, users will be able to control some device functionality with in-air hand gesturing. Apple's new invention could also provide users with superior lighting for FaceTime videoconferencing and more.
More than 100,000 companies were threatened in 2012 alone with infringement suits by businesses whose sole mission is to extract royalty revenue, according to a White House report. Those entities, called pejoratively "patent trolls" by critics, filed 19 percent of all patent lawsuits from 2007 to 2011, according to the Government Accountability Office. In December, the U.S. overwhelmingly passed the "Innovation Act" against patent trolls. Today in Washington, the justices debated how best to deter meritless suits as they weighed in on the rules that govern fee awards in patent litigation. Apple and Google are among the companies urging the court to lower the bar for fee awards.
According to a new mobile phone forecast from IDC, mature smartphone markets like North America and Europe are expected to see growth drop to single digits. In emerging markets, 2014 volumes are expected to be 1.2 billion, up from 1 billion in 2013, representing 19.3% year-over-year growth. In the longer view, IDC forecasts worldwide smartphone shipments will slow to 8.3% annual growth by 2017 and 6.2% in 2018. While IDC's forecast spells out a gloomy smartphone future for Android OEMs, it may spell opportunity for Apple.
Delta, Marriott, American Airlines & Others Join Apple against Arizona's Controversial Religious Freedom Bill
On Monday it was reported that Apple had asked Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the controversial religious freedom bill SB1062. Today Delta and Marriott International Inc. have joined Apple, American Airlines Group Inc. and several other U.S. corporations in urging the Arizona Governor to veto a bill allowing businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds. The companies all said the law, if enacted, would run counter to their internal policies aimed at ensuring an equal workplace. They also said the law could prompt companies to relocate outside Arizona, which is already struggling economically. Apple recently opened a plant with partner GT Advanced Technologies employing 700.
The Mobile World Congress (MWC) tradeshow in Barcelona is the largest tradeshow of the year for showcasing new mobile devices and everyone who's anyone attends this prestigious event with the exception of Apple. Yet that didn't stop the judges at MWC in recognizing that the best mobile tablet for 2014 was indeed Apple's iPad Air. The judges noted that "The iPad Air packs class-leading performance in an attractive and svelte frame, while its ecosystem has an undisputed advantage in the number of format-optimized apps." As noteworthy is the fact that Samsung, the great "volume leader," walked away without a win in any category of product at this year's event.
Forbes reports today that "After a very long four days of snowballing criticism by the security community, Apple has fixed the critical security flaw in its software dubbed "gotofail," which threatened to allow any untrusted network to disable the encryption on users' communications."
On January 27, Apple announced their latest quarterly results in a conference call. In that call, Apple announced that they sold an all-time record of 51 million iPhones. In our report covering the conference call we noted that Apple's CEO Tim Cook had stated that iPhone sales had doubled year-over-year in mainland China and later noted that iPhone activations the week since the China Mobile launch had been highest ever in that country. He further noted that the iPhone only launched in 16 cities and that they should see the iPhone in more than 300 cities by the end of the year as China Mobile upgrades to 4G. A report out of China today confirms that Mobile China is on track with their 4G expansion.
Yesterday we reported that Apple and Samsung had met to fight India's out of control online megastore price slashing." Last night we learned that one of the ways that Apple wants to beat online price slashers is to have an Apple presence in India via their own line of Apple Stores. While Apple works with a number of large distributors in India today, they're asking the Indian Government to relax their rules that are currently blocking them from opening their own branded stores as they have around the globe.
Apple Granted 33 Patents Today Covering Siri, iDevice Editing Techniques, Apple Store Docks and More
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 33 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover the signage docks found at the Apple Store, iDevice editing, the remote in Apple's headsets and most importantly a patent relating to Siri. Siri was originally introduced as an iOS application available in the App Store by Siri, Inc., which was acquired by Apple on April 28, 2010. Siri has been an integral part of iOS since iOS 5 when it was introduced as a feature of the iPhone 4S. The name Siri is Norwegian, meaning "beautiful woman who leads you to victory." Our report concludes with a list of the remaining granted patents issued to Apple today.
At today's Samsung Unpacked Event held in Barcelona Spain, Samsung unveiled only a couple of things worth noting. Firstly, they introduced the all-new Gear Fit device which is a slimmer wearable device for the wrist that's geared for workouts as noted in our cover graphic above. The new Gear Fit design brings Samsung one step closer to delivering their futuristic patent pending design to life that will really turn heads. Secondly, Samsung finally delivered a swipe-style fingerprint scanner to their Galaxy smartphone that will address the mobile payment market. Humorously, Samsung's opening video talked up the new technology features that they were about to introduce, such as a better camera and fitness market features. But then they actually made it point of saying that fashion wasn't really important. It was blatantly a defensive statement against Apple's cool iPhone 5S. It was odd because later in their keynote they noted that "Glamour" was the number one thing that consumers wanted. How confusing can you get? And finally, Samsung's flamboyant co-CEO JK Shin, head of Samsung Electronics' mobile division made a really strange sales point. According to Shin (@ the 49:05 mark of Samsung keynote), "Our consumers do not want eye-popping technology or the most complex technology." No, they just want simple stuff, according to Shin. It's funny that when they can't match Apple's advanced Touch ID feature that's intelligently built right into the Home Button, it automatically becomes eye-popping technology that consumers don't care about. Ha! – Mr. Shin truly missed his calling in life as a standup comedian.
Last June there was a lot of hype surrounding Samsung's coming Tizen OS revolution and how it was gaining steam to usurp Apple's iOS in the mobile space if not Android. In February of this year ABI saw Tizen as a possible weapon that Samsung could use in gaining a foothold in the enterprise market. While that was being claimed, we reported that there was egg on Samsung's face as Docomo dumped the official launch of Tizen OS smartphones at the very last moment. And while there was a tiny glimmer of hope for Tizen OS when Samsung switched their Gear 2 smartwatch from Android to Tizen this past Sunday, it was never meant to be. Sad, considering that it had been hyped by the Android camp for months. Now that it's showtime at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress, Samsung embarrassingly confesses that it's really not on their radar screen for smartphones: Ha! – That's Samsung for you.
While Android has now gained a stranglehold on smartphone market share in Europe with close to 70%, Apple was still able to chalk up 19% while Windows rose to 10% for the three months to January 2014. One of the more interesting facts revealed in the new study was just how well the iPhone 5C actually did in Europe over the last three months amongst hip females.
Today Nokia introduced a rather stunning lineup of smartphones that are Android based. The new designs introduce a fresh hybrid UI resembling the Windows Phone OS with bright icons along with intergrated Microsoft services like Skype, One Drive and more. The pricing for their new smartphones is jaw dropping. It's clear that Nokia is declaring war on the current Android OEM leader Samsung. In fact, no matter what Samsung introduces later today, Nokia's bombshell will likely be the smartphone to watch for this year. If Microsoft is looking to become a real player in the smartphone market in 2014, then Nokia's latest round of Android phones are bound to chalk up some serious market share gains.
A report out of Calcutta this morning states that senior officials of three global handset makers reportedly met earlier this month to try and figure out what to do about cutthroat online pricing. While top executives confirmed that the meeting took place, no one wanted to go on the record because it could lead to allegations of price fixing.
New out of Shanghai today states that Apple is suing a Chinese government agency and a domestic company by the name of Zhizhen over patent rights for its "Siri" personal assistant. The Beijing Number one Intermediate People's Court will hear the case on Thursday
Samsung officially introduced the next generation Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona as expected. One of the first notables is that the camera is now equipped to the main body of the smartwatch instead of it being attached to the strap making the design of the Samsung Gear 2 much sleeker. Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will be available around the world starting from April. What are the chances of this being a hit in 2014? Zero.
It's being reported today that a major flaw in Apple's software for mobile devices could allow hackers to intercept email and other communications that are meant to be encrypted, the company said on Friday, and experts said Mac computers were even more exposed. Report Updated 5:32 PM EST. The issue is still not resolved at this time on Macs.