Friday, November 21, 2014

Aereo Has Thrown in the Towel

Aereo Inc.’s quest to shake up the television industry with its online-streaming service has come to an end.

The Barry Diller-backed startup sought bankruptcy protection after the U.S. Supreme Court said its TV service violated programming copyright protections. The nation’s highest court rang the death knell for Aereo in June, handing a victory to broadcast giants including CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC, Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox Inc.

Aereo had been striving to revolutionize broadcast TV viewing, offering live and recorded programs via the Internet for as little as $8 a month. The Internet-TV startup’s failure eliminates an alternative to cable and satellite bundles, which can cost $100 a month and include channels many subscribers don’t watch.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beware of Lollipop

Users of Google's latest mobile operating system, Android 5.0 Lollipop, are warning others not to immediately upgrade, after experiencing broken apps, repeated crashes, and device slowdowns.

Many are reporting early issues with calling, failing Wi-Fi connectivity and sound quality — in some cases, audio fails to work altogether.

But a more pressing issue emerged: Apps built with Adobe Air have in many cases been removed from users' Nexus devices, and cannot be reinstalled.

The fifth major version of Android, dubbed "Lollipop" after Google's candy-based naming scheme, was widely lauded in a positive review by sister-site CNET. It lands with a number of improved features, including a new user interface and experience, and a consistent design across the board — from smartphones to tablets, and newer devices, such as wearables.


The Lollipop update has been hit with some harsh criticism by its users since it first landed in their hands, despite strong feedback from the tech community when it was first announced earlier this year.

Users have said they "regret" the over-the-air download, saying the older Nexus 7 tablet is "laggy, restarts, and crashes randomly." In some cases, apps were not responding.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bad News for Samsung

A U.S. judge has rejected Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s bid to put Microsoft Corp's lawsuit over smartphone patent royalties on hold while the South Korean company pursues an arbitration proceeding in Hong Kong.

In a brief order, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in New York said the lawsuit would proceed despite the arbitration. Rakoff said he would explain his reasoning in a subsequent opinion.
Microsoft sued Samsung in August, accusing it of breaching a collaboration agreement by initially refusing to make royalty payments after the U.S. company announced its intention to acquire Nokia’s handset business in September 2013.

The lawsuit claimed Samsung still owed $6.9 million in interest on more than $1 billion in patent royalties it delayed paying.

Samsung has countered that the Nokia acquisition in April violated its 2011 deal with Microsoft.
Samsung filed the request for arbitration with the Hong Kong office of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Is Google Glass Dead?

After two years of popping up at high-profile events sporting Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sauntered bare-faced into a Silicon Valley red-carpet event on Sunday.

He'd left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product -- he recently wore his pair to the beach.

But Brin's timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market.

While Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace, its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Facebook "Privacy"

Facebook lets its users control whether other people can see the information they post, but when it comes to controlling what Facebook itself gets to see, privacy-conscious users are out of luck.

In fact, Facebook doesn't think it would make sense to let users do that.

“With most online services, there’s an understanding that when you use those services to share information, you’re also sharing information with the company providing the service,” said Matt Scutari, manager of privacy and public policy at Facebook.

“For users who are truly concerned with sharing their information with a particular platform, honestly, you might not want to share information with that platform,” he said, speaking during a conference on digital privacy in Palo Alto, California, on Friday.

“I don’t think there are many services out there who could claim they’re not using your information that you’re sharing with them for any purpose. They have to at least use that information to provide the service,” he added.

Scutari was responding to a question from the audience about what tools, if any, Facebook might provide to people who want to post and share information but keep it from Facebook itself.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

MSFT's Win8 Gamble

Even when it was launched, Windows 8 was seen as a gamble — but one that Microsoft had to make.

The stunning, out-of-nowhere success of tablets was making the PC look stodgy and out-of-date, so Microsoft had to show that Windows could still be relevant beyond its traditional desktop home. The company's response was Windows 8, with its colourful tiled interface and the emphasis on Windows as a touchscreen operating system for a new age of computing — a bet-the-company move, according to then-CEO Steve Ballmer.

To reinforce the shift,  Microsoft even developed its own new PC-tablet hybrid, the Surface, to show off the potential of the new operating system.

But despite — indeed, in many cases because of — these innovations, the reception to Windows 8 was lukewarm at best, forcing Microsoft to deliver a rapid update in the shape of Windows 8.1.

In February this year, Microsoft revealed 200 million Windows 8 licences had been sold in the first 15 months after its launch. In contrast, its predecessor Windows 7 sold 240 million in its first 12 months. Microsoft has not released new Windows 8 sales figures since then, other than to say it continues "to see momentum" around the OS.

Already, Microsoft is drawing a line under Windows 8. It was only on sale for two years at retail, until the end of last month. That's a much shorter period than Microsoft's previous operating systems, although Windows 8.1 is still available.

Friday, November 14, 2014

CrackBerry Survival

BlackBerry, which has completed the first phase of its two-year turnaround plan, is now focused on profitability and will not spread itself thin by attempting to launch too many new devices, its chief executive said.

John Chen, who took the reins at the struggling mobile technology company in November 2013, has moved rapidly to try to get the one-time investor darling back on track. The company has sold assets, struck partnerships to lower manufacturing costs and broaden app offerings, and raised cash via the sale of real estate holdings in its hometown of Waterloo, Ontario.

"Once we turn this company to profitability again, I will do everything I can to never lose money ever again," Chen told Reuters in an interview this week. "That is definitely something I am very focused on doing."