Larry Page announces that Andy Rubin will be handing over the Android reins to Sundar Pichai

Wed, Mar 13, 2013

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Some interesting news out of Google today as CEO Larry Page announced via the company’s official blog that Andy Rubin will be handing over the Android reins to Sundar Pichai. It’s important to note that Rubin will remain at Google working on other, and presumably secretive, projects.

Google acquired Android in 2005, back when the Andy Rubin led company was still a 22-month old startup based out of Palo Alto. The purchase price was $50 million and may very well be the smartest acquisition Google ever made. A strong, albeit weaker, case could also be made for YouTube.

Page’s letter reads as follows:

Sergey and I first heard about Android back in 2004, when Andy Rubin came to visit us at Google. He believed that aligning standards around an open-source operating system would drive innovation across the mobile industry. Most people thought he was nuts. But his insight immediately struck a chord because at the time it was extremely painful developing services for mobile devices. We had a closet full of more than 100 phones and were building our software pretty much device by device. It was nearly impossible for us to make truly great mobile experiences.

Fast forward to today. The pace of innovation has never been greater, and Android is the most used mobile operating system in the world: we have a global partnership of over 60 manufacturers; more than 750 million devices have been activated globally; and 25 billion apps have now been downloaded from Google Play. Pretty extraordinary progress for a decade’s work. Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android—and with a really strong leadership team in place—Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!

Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps. Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use—and he loves a big bet. Take Chrome, for example. In 2008, people asked whether the world really needed another browser. Today Chrome has hundreds of millions of happy users and is growing fast thanks to its speed, simplicity and security. So while Andy’s a really hard act to follow, I know Sundar will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward.

Today we’re living in a new computing environment. People are really excited about technology and spending a lot of money on devices. This is driving faster adoption than we have ever seen before. The Nexus program—developed in conjunction with our partners Asus, HTC, LG and Samsung—has become a beacon of innovation for the industry, and services such as Google Now have the potential to really improve your life. We’re getting closer to a world where technology takes care of the hard work—discovery, organization, communication—so that you can get on with what makes you happiest… living and loving. It’s an exciting time to be at Google.

Posted by Larry Page, CEO

via Google Blog

Samsung’s advertising game outmuscled Apple in 2012

Wed, Mar 13, 2013

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samsung apple mobile advertising

With Samsung set to release its Samsung Galaxy S IV tomorrow in New York City amidst much hoopla and media coverage, the South Korea based company has certainly learned a thing or two about creating a media buzz prior to a product launch. Previously, that was a talent that only Apple seemed to have mastered.

What’s more, Samsung has also proven rather shrewd at another one of Apple’s historic specialties – advertising. Not only are its latest people-centric ads resonating with consumers, they also bash Apple fans and iPhone users in the process. That’s a lot of bang for the buck.

And speaking of bucks, Samsung isn’t shy about spending a lot of its money on advertising efforts. While Apple outspent Samsung by a factor of 3-1 in mobile advertising in 2011, Samsung stepped up its game in a major way in 2012. Last year, Samsung outspent Apple by $64 million in mobile advertising. Specifically, Apple spent $333 million on its advertising efforts while Samsung spent $401 million. What’s more, while Samsung’s commercials were hip, cutting and funny, Apple’s efforts were rather mediocre and included a few spots that were received poorly by Apple enthusiasts and consumers.

The willingness to spend heavily could prove even more important as the technology gap between rivals narrows.

“They understand how to build a strong product…and have been willing to invest to drive their success,” said Michael Sievert, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile USA Inc., a unit of Deutsche Telekom.

Samsung’s aggressive approach has carried over into this year, with Super Bowl ads and a big presence at the Mobile World Congress wireless industry conference in Barcelona., where Samsung built a large booth with a coffee bar and private office suites for meetings.

And the advertising dollars certainly helped. Samsung’s 2012 was a banner year for the company’s smartphone division as they ended the year with a 30.3% share of the smartphone market. By way of contrast, Samsung in 2011 only had a 19% share of the smartphone market.

Furthermore, Samsung has been rather adept at creating a strong brand for the “Galaxy” name. Last year, for example, they insisted that all four US carriers call the Galaxy S III the same name, a departure from the typical modus operandi where the same model may have different names across multiple carriers.

As an example of Samsung’s theme with respect to its Galaxy advertisements, check one of their first efforts which took express shots at Apple’s fan base.

And here is one of Apple’s Genius ads from 2012 that didn’t quite strike a chord with anyone.

via WSJ 

Mac 512K talks to Siri, requests directory listing and files [Video]

Tue, Mar 12, 2013

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The Mac 512K was the second Mac released by Apple, hitting store shelves all the way back in September, 1984 for the low low price of $2795. 29 years later, and some folks, believe it or not, still have working Mac 512Ks up and running.

Not only that, but one enterprising user decided to have his Mac 512K talk to Siri and, well, the result is pretty damn cool.

iPhone 5S will be NFC equipped and come with fingerprint authorization technology

Tue, Mar 12, 2013

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Rumors surrounding Apple’s next-gen iPhone are starting to crystallize, with the latest news coming courtesy of the China Times which reports that the iPhone 5S will come with NFC functionality along with a fingerprint authorization sensor under the home button.

The report claims that Apple has tapped the Taiwanese chip company Chipbond to help build the fingerprint sensors into its next-gen iPhone. The technology would presumably come from AuthenTec, a security firm specializing in fingerprint technology that Apple acquired last year for #365 million.

With NFC functionality in tow, users will be able to engage in commercial transactions linked up to their credit card accounts simply by swiping their device over a payment pad. And with fingerprint authorization, Apple will be able to add an extra layer of security over such transactions.

Rumors of an NFC-equipped iPhone have been around for years now. Not only has Apple patented quite a few NFC related technologies and functions, but it has also made a number of notable NFC hires as well.

Meanwhile, iPhone 5S production is already rumored to have begun with a product launch scheduled for sometime this Summer.

via Macotakara

 

Citing iPhone woes, Peter Misek lowers his price target on Apple shares to $420

Tue, Mar 12, 2013

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Apple just can’t catch a break from analysts these days. Earlier today, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek – you know, the same guy who erroneously predicted an Apple event featuring an Apple TV announcement – came out with a new research note wherein he downgraded Apple with a new price target of $420. That of course is below where shares of Apple are currently trading so Misek isn’t really enthusiastic about Apple’s future prospects.

The root of Misek’s pessimism is rooted in Apple’s rumored low cost iPhone. According to Misek, Apple is having problems with its new casing colors and is being forced to push back its iPhone family rollout from June to sometime between July and September.

What’s more, Misek’s checks inform him that Apple’s low-cost iPhone may not be as cheap to manufacture as first thought. Specifically, the low cost iPhone will sport a 4-inch Retina Display and will reportedly feature the same processor as the iPhone 5S, albeit with a cheaper construction.

Consequently, Misek slashed his current quarter estimate for iPhone sales from 37.5 million units down to 35 million units. He anticipates Apple will report revenue of $41 billion but qualifies that by stating that there’s a 25% chance Apple will even miss its own quarterly guidance.

Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina Display tops over 18 other notebooks in battery life tests

Mon, Mar 11, 2013

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Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina Display recently trounced 18 Windows 8 laptops and a Samsung Series 3 Chromebook in a series of tests meant to gauge which notebook sports the best battery life.

The test was conducted by Which?, and the results clearly indicates that when it comes to battery performance, Apple’s notebook simply can’t be beat.

laptop battery test

 

Apple’s MacBook Pro lasted an impressive 6 hours and 28 minutes while the runner up – an Acer Aspire ultrabook – checked in at 5 hours and 58 minutes.

The longest running Windows 8 laptop for web browsing is the Acer Aspire timeline Ultra M5-581T – a 15.6″ screen, 2.1kg ultrabook. It lasted almost six hours on battery – enough to get you to from London to Middlesbrough and back – and fell 30 minutes shy of the battery life of the 13″ Apple Macbook Pro Retina, but costs around £500 less.

Lastly, we know that Windows 7 isn’t the latest out of Redmond, but this particular testing result is so bad it’s worth noting. Running Windows 7, the Dell Inspiron 17R was only able to churn out 1 hour and 45 minutes of battery life while browsing the web.

via Which

2005 iPhone prototype looks more like an iPad

Mon, Mar 11, 2013

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iphone prototype ipad

 

Thanks to the Apple/Samsung trial, we’ve seen a plethora of iPhone prototypes. But earlier today Ars Technica got its hands on photos of an extremely early iPhone prototype. And by early, I mean that this bad boy looks more like an iPad than a phone.

The prototype above is 5×7 inches and comes equipped with a bunch of access ports; not necessarily because Apple was planning to ship an iPhone with an ethernet port, but rather because it made working on and testing the device much easier.

The photo – and others – came from a former Apple employee who worked on a variety of Apple hardware projects back in the early 2000s. The photo above purports to be of an iPhone prototype in 2005. Notably, development on the original iPhone – at least the software portion of the project – began in late November or December of 2005 according to court documents released in the Apple/Samsung trial.

As seen in the gallery above, this early prototype has a number of ports that we’re used to seeing more commonly on computers than on mobile devices, including USB ports, an Ethernet port, and even a serial port. Apple never intended for all of these to make it into the final product, of course—our source said that because this was a development prototype, ports like Ethernet and serial were included simply to make working on the device easier. Still, “at that early date no one knew what [the final device] would be,” the source emphasized, highlighting the constantly changing nature of Apple’s development process.

Perhaps in a few years we’ll see prototype images of early iterations of an iWatch, or better yet, an Apple HDTV.

via Ars Technica

Apple’s low-cost iPhone to utilize Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip – Report

Fri, Mar 8, 2013

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With rumors of Apple’s plans to release a low cost iPhone this Summer swirling about, we now have a new report via the China Times which claims that Apple’s more economical iPhone will make use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip as opposed to one of Apple’s A-series processors.

The report claims that the Snapdragon’s ability to integrate both bluetooth and Wi-Fi onto the main chip will enable Apple to keep costs low and ideally protect their margins as much as possible.

What’s more, the report claims that Apple has tapped TSMC to manufacture the chips using their 28nm process. What’s notable here, aside from Apple foregoing using one of its in-house designed processors, is that it would mark the first time Apple would be utilizing a foundry other than Samsung to produce its processors. The report also claims that the low cost iPhone will be 3G only.

It’s worth mentioning that the above report regarding Apple’s use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip is at odds with the typically spot-on Ming-Chi Kuo who wrote earlier this week that Apple’s lower cost iPhone will utilize Apple’s A6 processor.

Kuo also noted that the lower cost iPhone will be comprised of plastic and fiberglass and will come in 6 different colors.

China Times via Macotakara

Apple and Samsung may feature wireless charging in 2013 “flagship” smartphone models

Fri, Mar 8, 2013

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Wireless charging isn’t exactly knew – anyone out there remember the Palm Pre? But according to a recent report in Digitimes, both Samsung and Apple may be implementing wireless charging technology into their flagship smartphone models later in 2013.

While the report pegs Samsung as opting for Qi wireless charging technology for its upcoming Galaxy S IV, it points out that it won’t come with this capability right out of the box. Rather, users will be given the option to purchase a replacement back cover that will be able to access a charging pad.

As for Apple, shockingly, they may be going about things on their own.

Apple is likely to adopt the wireless charging technology developed internally, but it remains unknown if the next-generation iPhone will come with built-in wireless charging capability or with other attached accessories, said the sources.

Digitimes has a spotty track record when it comes to predicting features on upcoming Apple products, so certainly take this with a grain of salt. It’s also worth looking back at a Phil Schiller quote from a 2012 interview with All Things D where Apple’s Senior VP of Marketing explained why he wasn’t keen on wireless charging.

As for wireless charging, Schiller notes that the wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into the wall, so it’s not clear how much convenience they add. The widely-adopted USB cord, meanwhile, can charge in wall outlets, computers and even on airplanes, he said.

“Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” Schiller said.

At the same time, it’s not as if Apple ever tips its hand and praises a new technology that it hasn’t yet implemented into its own products yet. Still, I’d be skeptical that wireless charging is on the way. The next iPhone, the iPhone 5S, will for the most part feature upgraded internals such as a superior camera. Aside from that, there are strong rumors that the next iPhone will come with a fingerprint authorization sensor. As for wireless charging? Color me skeptical

 

Analyst urges Apple to be more transparent with.. analysts

Fri, Mar 8, 2013

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Perhaps speaking to the power wielded by analysts, UBS tech analyst Steve Milunovich recently reiterated his “Buy” rating on Apple shares, while also mentioning that Apple may stand to learn something from IBM to the extent that Big Blue will meet with analysts and clue them in as to what’s coming down the pipeline.

IBM was one of the early vendors to deal with maturity and make a strength of it by consistently giving back up to 80% of its free cash flow to investors. Intel, Cisco, and more recently Dell and TI have made strong commitments to returning cash. We believe Apple needs to do the same and, from all signs, is likely to meaningfully boost cash return in the next few months, most likely through buybacks. Increased transparency the next step In 2005 IBM was telling the Street it could grow earnings double-digit, but the company was so complicated that analysts didn’t believe it. IBM’s earnings roadmap has been a great success in increasing understanding of the company. In its own way, Apple needs to be more transparent, perhaps beginning with an analyst meeting. Without pre-announcing products, management should be able to outline how it thinks, highlight strengths, and showcase management depth.

Apple continues to make money hand over fist, and yet their P/E ration is shockingly low. We’ve all seen how much influence un-sourced reports out of Asia can have, so maybe this isn’t such a bad idea after all. I know Apple doesn’t like to pander to short term AAPL observers, but with shares of Apple in the gutter and its earnings multiple under 10, it’s not the worst idea we’ve come across.

via Barrons

Steve Jobs used to call up Bob Iger and tell him that Disney movies “sucked”

Thu, Mar 7, 2013

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BusinessWeek has a in-depth piece up detailing the behind the scenes happenings that led to Disney purchasing Lucasfilm. The story is a must-read for any Star Wars fans out there, but there is an interesting nugget about Steve Jobs that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with his antics.

While discussing Disney’s purchase of the Steve Jobs led Pixar, the article notes:

Iger accelerated that process by making acquisitions. The first was the $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar Animation Studios in 2006. Iger personally negotiated the deal with Steve Jobs, who was then Pixar’s CEO. As part of the deal, Iger kept the creative team, led by John Lasseter, in place and allowed them to continue to operate with a minimum of interference in their headquarters near San Francisco. “Steve and I spent more time negotiating the social issues than we did the economic issues,” Iger says. “He thought maintaining the culture of Pixar was a major ingredient of their creative success. He was right.”

The transaction gave Disney a new source of hit movies. Jobs also became a Disney board member and its largest shareholder. Periodically he would call Iger to say, “Hey, Bob, I saw the movie you just released last night, and it sucked,” Iger recalls. Nevertheless, the Disney CEO says that having Jobs as a friend and adviser was “additive rather than the other way around.”

Jobs’ efforts to maintain the creative integrity of Pixar under the Disney umbrella was well-documented in his biography. Indeed, maintaining a healthy corporate culture that fostered creativity was a common thread that ran through both Pixar and Apple. You might remember that Jobs, in his biography, noted that famed Apple designer Jony Ive was given free reign at Apple.

With Jobs, creativity and design always reigned supreme.

via BusinessWeek

How men will use Google Glasses

Thu, Mar 7, 2013

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Not too shabby! Google Glasses may very well feature cool technology, but it seems that Google, in their zeal and excitement for the project, haven’t thought of any of the practical concerns that might accompany the product’s release.

Here’s a hilarious spoof poking fun at some of those issues.

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