Author Archive | Ed Oswald

Which is It, Google? Is Android Open or Not?

Lately, it’s not often that I agree with MG Siegler. If you’ve read my work elsewhere, you know I’ve taken issue with some of his coverage of Apple.

But his post explaining his distaste for Android is probably the most cogent argument so far why the platform is falling so far short of its potential.

Android was built on a foundation of good intentions. The platform was supposed to usher in a new mobile era where the power was given to the user to make their device their own. No walled gardens, no censorship, no limits. Supporters of the platform heralded its “openness,” deriding Apple and others for their top-town controlled approach.

It sounded too good to be true, and it pretty much was. Carriers balked at giving up that control and quickly Android became just as tightly controlled as iOS or any other mobile platform. And this is directly a result of Google’s business decisions in the company’s quest for Android market domination.

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Could Acer Be Any More Blatant in Ripping off Apple?

In the tech business, there are always accusations of somebody copying Apple in one form or another, whether it’s Apple itself leveling the accusations or its legions of supporters. This time, Acer has taken that to another level with the introduction of AcerCloud at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. From the names of the components to the promotional imagery, Acer seems to have set out to clone Apple’s iCloud as precisely as possible.

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The New 99%

Are you part of the 99%? No, I’m not speaking of the political movement that is sweeping the nation, but the bottom 99% of mobile data users. Mobile consultant firm Arieso studied the data habits of a European wireless operator, and through its findings it projects the top one percent of mobile data users use half of the world’s available bandwidth. The top ten percent use 90 percent.

Just like our widening income disparity in the US, the gap in bandwidth usage also grows. In the same study two years ago, Arieso projected the top 1% was using 40 percent, while the top ten percent consumed 70 percent. So, it’s pretty obvious that these bandwidth-hungry users are increasingly putting a strain on mobile networks.

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File Sharers Get Religious In Sweden

If there’s one thing you can say about chronic file-sharers, they have interesting ways of trying to legitimize their activities. The craziest example of this so far is a group of Swedish file sharers who have sucessfully petitioned the government to have file-sharing considered as a legitimate religion. Yep, you read that right.

The Church of Kopimism holds sacred the symbols Control-C and Control-V (for you non-keyboardists, thats the shortcuts for “copy” and “paste”.). It was originally organized by college student Isak Gerson in 2010, but the Swedish government rejected their attempts to be officially recognized twice before finally accepting them recently as an recognized religion, TorrentFreak reports.

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Hey Judge, Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away

It seems almost unthinkable, but it very well could happen: the Wall Street Journal reports Wednesday that Kodak is teetering dangerously close to the edge of financial ruin, with bankruptcy a real possibility if it cannot sell of a chunk of its patent portfolio in short order. Above and beyond that, it appears the company needs about $1 billion to stay afloat according to reports.

The thought of a world without Kodak is almost incomprehensible to me, but the company dug its own grave. While we think of the Kodachrome (sorry for the Paul Simon reference in this post’s title) and the camera, Kodak’s real bread and butter was film. The company’s product was not only used in its own cameras but in its competitors, too.

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So Apparently Google+ Isn’t Dead

Apparently nobody really knows whether Google+ is dead or not. One day, we’re told its a “ghost town,” the next day somebody claims Google+ is here to stay. And back and forth and back and forth it goes…

Enter the latest installment in this argument: Google+ will surpass 400 million users by 2012. This comes from an independent analysis by Paul Allen, founder of Ancestry.com and the self-appointed “unofficial statistician” of the service. He says that growth of the service has really accelerated in recent weeks. This growth rate would put it not far behind Facebook in second place, with about half the users of its bigger competitor.

Mind you its taken Facebook seven years to get to that number. Google+ will get to about half that in just 18 months. That’s some growth! What’s driving this? It could be the popularity of Android. It’s easy to register for Google+ from Android devices, and cool features like automatic syncing of pictures with the service may be a draw.

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Here We Go Again: $99 HP TouchPads Hit eBay Sunday

Miffed you didn’t get in on the last TouchPad fire sale? Fear not, Technologizer reader: HP will sell off some refurbished 16 and 32GB models on its eBay store beginning at 6:00pm Central Time Sunday, December 11. Originally this was supposed to be an employee sale at first, with a public announcement scheduled at 6:30. Leave it to TechCrunch to mess up HP’s plans.
 
For only $79 more, HP will send you an accessory bundle that includes a case, charging dock, and wireless keyboard. It is unknown how many units will be made available, but if the past is any indication you better have your fingers at the ready to get in on this.
 
Keeping out the profiteers, eBay will require a PayPal account and will limit sales to two per eBay ID. If you’re trying to make a quick buck on the popularity of these things, remember that first off they’re not new, and you better create quite a few user IDs in order to make it worthwhile. There’s also one more caveat: instead of the standard one year warranty, you will only have a 90-day guarantee on these bad boys.
 
I have a few friends that participated in the initial frenzy. As for me? No thanks — my iPad 2 is doing fine — and with HP still undecided on the fate of WebOS I’m not going to spend my money on a potential brick. Did that once already, and that’s why my HD DVD player is sitting in my entertainment center gathering dust.


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Is Carrier IQ As Bad As It Seems?

The controversy over the nature of Carrier IQ’s phone-monitoring application is deepning, with Minnesota Senator Al Franken demanding answers over what the company is doing with the information it collects. Carrier IQ’s code is apparently on millions of devices, and is known to be currently used by at least one manufacturer, HTC, and two carriers, AT&T and Sprint.
 
Apple chimed in, and says it used Carrier IQ in “most” of its pre-iOS 5 products. It says the code will be removed completely in a future software update, and the submission of diagnostic data is opt-in.
Franken asks Carrier IQ to provide details on what exactly the software records, where the data is transmitted to, and whether or not protections are in place to protect the security of those affected. He is also calling upon the company to give consumers a method of opting out of the process.

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Google Music’s Twist: Sharing After You Buy

Google music chief Andy Rubin sat on stage Wednesday at All Things Digital’s AsiaD conference and promised us that its Google Music store would be more than just another iTunes. On Thursday we found out why. Business Insider reports that the “twist” Rubin is speaking of involves the ability to share music “on a limited basis” after you purchase the tracks.

Once shared, the tracks can be played a specific number of times by the recipient at no cost, say Business Insider’s sources. It’s not clear exactly how the process will work, although it probably would involve some kind of link to the purchaser’s music “locker,” a feature that launched with the beta of Google Music in May. The move certainly signals that the music industry may be ready to soften its stance.

Previously, the record labels had been pretty steadfast in their opposition to share music that they had purchased legally. But the launch of Spotify here in the US shows that the industry may have realized that the tight controls it has placed on digital content may actually be doing the opposite of what its intended to do: stop piracy.

Just think about it — if your friend tells you about a hot new track, is the 60 or so seconds that iTunes or any other service gives you as a preview enough to tell if you really like it? Why not give the opportunity to listen to the whole thing, in a controlled environment. Who knows, you just might buy it!


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Samsung’s Boneheaded PR Mistake

File this one under “So Stupid You Can’t Believe It’s True.” With all the legal hubbub between Apple and Samsung at the moment, you would think both companies would be walking on eggshells. But one of them apparently isn’t paying attention. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber was tipped on Monday that promotional materials for the upcoming Galaxy Player include a very interesting screenshot.

Nestled within the list of features is a section on the Galaxy Player’s Google capabilities. The screenshot is not of the Android OS Google app, though: instead, it is a shot of the Maps app in iOS. Yes, really.

Some enterprising investigative reporting has tracked down the image to female-centric technology blog BlogHer, in a 2008 post about “game changing” iOS apps. How the PR department didn’t notice this when lifting the image is beyond me. Doesn’t Google Image Search tell you where it comes from?

The errant screenshot sat on Samsung’s own website for an unknown amount of time here, but has since been removed. See the image after the jump, you have to see this to believe it!

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