Samsung loses in Australia – FRAND Explained

Samsung loses in Australia – Temporarily

Question: So Apple wins in Australia and Europe but Samsung is also suing in Europe against the new iPhone 4s, aren’t they both stealing from each other? And if so, then what is the point?

 The simple answer is NO, these are not equivalent cases. Whereas Apple is bringing suit on “unencumbered” patents,  Samsung, according  to Florian Mueller,  “largely relies on standards-essential, FRAND-pledged patents against Apple.”  HUH? What is this?

FRAND Explained

To understand the claims and counter claims of these law suits, it is imperative that you understand this one concept. It really is not difficult.  For cell phone systems to work (and other systems as well) there needs to be agreement in advance as to the technicalities of how they all will work, e.g. the electronic protocols by which the phone will communicate with the tower and back again. All these methods of electronic communications involve various inventions by many companies. In order to create one and only one methodology, the companies participate in Standards Committees, which decide on the definition of a particular communications system – the technical details of how it will work. These Standards Committees look over various proposals for a given technology (such as the new fourth generation LTE) and create a set of definitions that all agree on to make the new system work.

 This set of technological  definitions typically uses inventions or Intellectual Property (IP) from several different companies. Obviously, once the standard is implemented (towers are built, communications chips are designed and built) any user will need to license each of the patented technologies that is part of the new system. There is a potential problem here. Theoretically, any single company that has patented technologies could turn around and “hold hostage” any other company that wanted to use the new standard. This would cause chaos in the industry, which would not be good for anyone.

 Therefore, to make sure that this does not happen, the standards committees have a policy. If you own patented technology that you want incorporated into the standard, then you must agree to license that technology, that IP, according to FRAND:

 On a Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory basis.

 In other words, you cannot gouge one customer just because you do not like them. The technology needs to be licensed to all on an equal footing.

 So, Apple is saying: “You Samsung, have infringed our patents that have to do with totally independent inventions that have nothing to do with any standards agreements,” but Samsung is saying “You Apple are refusing to pay our outlandish, and illegal demands on patents that we have already agreed to license on FRAND terms.” (At least this is Apple’s contention.)

 So, basically, Apple’s contention is that Samsung is trying to use FRAND patents to extort free usage of Apple’s unencumbered patents. Or in Apple’s words:

  • “[The rules of a standard-setting organization] are designed to protect the telecommunications industry from the sort of anticompetitive ambush Samsung has perpetrated here.”

Other Issues

  1. It is important to be aware that there are both design issues and technological issues. Designs are also protected to different degrees in different countries. But these issues are quite different from core technology issues (“Utility Patents” in the U.S.).
  2. The legal technicalities differ in different countries.
  3. There are “fast-track” or preliminary injunction portions of law suits, and also more detailed, though slower to come to court “main proceedings.” Often the request for a preliminary injunction does not include all the infringement claims of the main proceedings.
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AnandTech iPhone 4s Tests – What do they mean?

AnandTech (www.anandtech.com) is truly a professional blog with some of the best technical analysis you will find. They have just published a set of tests results on the iPhone 4s, titled:

iPhone 4S Preliminary Benchmarks: ~800MHz A5, Slightly Slower GPU than iPad 2, Still Very Fast 

I thought I would explain some of this to those with less technical backgrounds.

First, a few points:

  1. Apparently, these tests were not made by Anand Tech themselves, but gathered from other bloggers who seemed to have had early access to 4s units. Hence the “Preliminary” in the title. AnandTech will be running their own tests as soon as they get their own units.

Some Tech Basics

  1. CPU = Central Processing Unit: This is the “Brains” of a computer that reads instructions from programs, and makes everything happen in the computer. (Smartphones are miniature computers with phones incorporated.)
  2. GPU = Graphics Processing Unit: This is a special kind of processor, similar to a CPU, but designed to process image data. They are designed to perform certain mathematical operations repeatedly on millions of graphical data points. (They can also be used to process certain types of mathematical problems and are seeing new uses in this area.)

Click here for more Computer Basics Terms

One thing that is important to note is that the overall performance (speed) of a system is dependent on many things, and not simply the speed of the processor and/or the number of cores, nor on any other single factor. Additionally, the overall design of the system and subsystems may enhance certain aspects of performance will neglect other aspects. So one system may load and render multiple web pages very quickly, but be slower at certain types of graphics operations.

Finally – System performance is dependent on software as well as hardware. This applies both to the Operating System (OS) and to the particular application being run.


There are basically two types of tests. (Well I am sure you can come up with other classifications, but for our purpose this will do.) These are “real-life” tests which use real software programs, and benchmark tests which are programs designed specifically to test system performance. While the latter are more likely to test compare real limitations of a system (or some part thereof), they sometimes are not indicative of real user experience of said system. A mix of both types of tests is important to get a useful view of a system. I think one could say that benchmark tests test the hardware to the limits, while software tests give better overall system analysis. The problem with software tests is that you cannot test every aspect of even one piece of software, let alone of all software in its class.

Test Results:

Browser Tests

There were two browser benchmark tests with slightly different results. In both cases, the 4s handily beat all Android phones, pretty much tying the Galaxy Tab, which, of course, is a tablet not a phone. It should be noted here that the iPhone 4 (no ‘S’) was roughly comparable with the best Android phones when upgraded to iOS 5. So people who keep these phones should see a very significant browser improvement when they upgrade.

Graphics Tests

In the graphics tests listed, again, the 4s handily beat all Android phones, and  the Galaxy Tab as well.

A5 Clock Speed

It appears that the A5 chip in the iPhone 4s is clocked at 800MHz instead of 1GHz (1000MHz) as in the iPad. Now why would Apple want to “cripple” its CPU? Simple. Two reasons.

  1. In the fabrication of Integrated Circuit chips, each chip is tested after production. A percentage pass and a percentage fail. But some of the failures can still be used at reduced speed. Thus, lower speed means you get higher production from the fabs.
  2. More importantly, I am sure, is the reduction in electrical current consumption. As the report state:
    • Dropping a CPU’s core voltage, yields a greater-than-linear decrease in power consumption, making the marginal loss in clock speed a good choice.
What are the implications of this? Again as AT continues:
    • Apple does have to exploit its strengths in software to avoid any tangible performance penalties. Apple has traditionally done this very well in the past…

I would like to add, that this is not only software, but the A5 also has superiority over the competing Tegra 2 chip frequently used in Android phones, particularly in the GPU. Without getting too technical here, both system are based on the same design by the ARM group. The specifications for the dual-core ARM Cortex-A9  architecture allows for different GPUs, and Apple elected to implement a much faster GPU than is found in the Tegra 2. The results of tests bear this out.


— I appreciate your comments and ranking —

BAHH HUMBUG!

I Say Humbug!

to the following:

Now I Get It: Here’s Why Apple Launched The iPhone 4S Instead Of The iPhone 5

By Henry Blodget | Daily Ticker

Provided by the Business Insider:

When Apple launched the iPhone 4S instead of the iPhone 5 last week, I initially thought it was a disappointment and a mistake.

If Apple had launched the actual iPhone 5, I thought, they’d have sold more of them.

And that’s probably right… [etc., etc.]

via Now I Get It: Here’s Why Apple Launched The iPhone 4S Instead Of The iPhone 5 | Daily Ticker – Yahoo! Finance.


BAH HUMBUG!!

.

First, the iPhone 4s IS a big advance! (See: The big Apple (non?) Event.) But the important thing is…

If you do not understand why the 4s is here and not the 5, then you do not understand Apple – and this goes to Mr Dediu as well (for whom I have the most profound respect!). That is to say, you do not understand one of Apple’s primary MOs.

Simply this: Apple introduces technology when it is ready. Not before.

The A6 chip is not ready, the other features Apple wishes to add are not ready. The technologies are not here – yet. When they are, they will be in the very next iPhone.

(Siri is a slight exception – it is available but they have labeled it beta.)

Click: For an explanation of why Amazon is scrambling to respond to iCloud.

From Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Steve Jobs

So many feel sadness in his loss. This is appropriate, especially amongst his family and personal friends. But let us also pause to rejoice in the amazing legacy he left us all.

To me, his lesson is: always keep focused on the on the best, the most creative, the most beautiful possible on every level. Keep focused on this and accept nothing less.

The following paraphrased ad says it so well. (Thank you ahmlco)

From Apple Insider

The importance of iCloud

The importance of iCloud should not be underestimated!

  • The iCloud is the biggest shift in computing paradigm since personal computers replaced the client-server model.

Strong statement. Let’s look at it.

First, what is it?

iCloud provides a set of internet based (cloud) services. While these services differ a bit in specifics, they mostly are a form of:

    1. Internet based storage of user data files: photos, videos, settings, documents, mail, calendars, and applications.
    2. Any one of these items is instantly available to a user on any connectable device (iOS or OSX, Others via internet).
    3. Any update to any of these is instantly available across all your  devices. This includes photos taken with other cameras and imported to iPhoto on your Mac.
    4. On iOS and Mac OSX Lion, all this occurs transparently to the user. It just looks like everything is right there.
    5. Backup functionality.
    6. Find my friends.
    7. Find my iPhone (any iOS device and Macs).
    8. If the user loses connection to the internet, some files will not be accessible.
    9. User also gets a free email account.

Usage Model

The main concept is that you have instant access to all files on any device with access to your account. You take a photo with your iPhone, and your iPad and computer see them virtually instantly. All your iTunes media (songs, movies, podcasts) are stored in the iCloud. They are always ready to be viewed, on whatever machine you are using.

All this happens without you doing anything. Theoretically, you could login on a Mac at a cybercafe in Jakarta, link to your iCloud account, and have the identical environment that you have at home. Heck, if you have setup internet file sharing, you would even have access to your hard drive.

Now, while there are other services that provide similar functionalities, (Dropbox) none do it so transparently and pervasively as iCloud. The functionality is not an add-on. It is built into the operating system and any application can choose to participate in it.

Now, whatever you changes you make to documents, or to media files (take or edit photos|video|music) these changes instantly appear everywhere. Of course…

You must be connected to the internet  to view any files that do not have local copies.

One more benefit. Your files are all effectively backed up. Assuming that Apple never has a breakdown or break-in, you never have to worry about losing any of your files. If your devices are lost or stolen or break, all your data is safe up in the iCloud, accessible from any other device you own. (You DO need to be aware of the iCloud photo policy. I believe it actually does delete certain photos after a period of time

Why so good for Apple? (Investors take note.)

While the benefits for the user are exceptional, there are also incredible benefits for Apple. And this is something that the investor need to mark!

Differentiator. First, the service really improves the overall user experience. (This is assuming there is no repeat of the MobileMe launch experience!) This means it drives users to their products at least in part for this feature. It is a differentiator from the competition. As mentioned above, no one else has a system as deeply integrated as iCloud, although Amazon’s Kindle Fire approaches it. (More on that below.)

Strategically:

More importantly… iCloud provides real incentives for users to stick with the iOS products. When you have this on your iPad, you are much more likely to buy an iPhone and shun the competing systems. This is really leveraging the current total dominance of the iPad.

More importantly yet… It provides a very strong motivation to select a Mac as your next computer. Let’s face it. Macs are expensive. You can buy Win-based computers for a lot less. [I do not want to get into a discussion here as to whether they are worth it or not. This is irrelevant to the current discussion.] People buy any product for only one reason – Perceived Value. Therefore, in order for someone to overcome a significant price differential, he must have a sense that it has additional value over the alternative. In the past, arguments for this have been many and debatable. But the value of iCloud, of having instant, transparent access to all your files, this is a strong positive that is not really debatable. Lion connects seamlessly to iCloud. No other system does. Period. End of argument.

Now, there are about 60 million Macs in the world, but over 250 million iOS devices! Ever since the original iPod, there has been a “halo effect” moving customers to the Mac. The iCould will greatly accelerate this! Here is a very strong motivation to move to the Mac. Mac has always been easier than Windows® (at least so they say), here is a system in which they definitely excel. Again – a very powerful motivation to switch.

Stickiness (the dark side?)

Here is one more very powerful benefit to Apple. Once you spends some time in the iCloud system, you have you have a lot of data that exists up there, and only up there. It becomes much more difficult to move to another system.

Suppose you currently use iTunes for your music and have an iPhone. All your music is physically on your computer. If you want to switch to another phone system, you just need to figure out how to gobble the music from iTunes into your new phone. Pretty easy really. When you move to the iCloud system, however, your files never really live on your devices, but up in the cloud. Now you can still change to another phone, just download all your music to your computer. Repeat with photos and video. And documents. Not terribly difficult, but it is is an extra step that takes time and patience. A bit of a pain.  A real motivation not to change.


Broader Strategic Implications – Why Amazon is on Fire

OK, OK! So there are some benefits for Apple here, but this is not so earth shattering. Apple gets to tie up their customers with “velvet handcuffs” to their system. It helps them out. Not really a big deal. Is it?

I think yes it is. The cloud is the battle ground for the customer space of the future. Sure, Apple does not own its customers. They are free to purchase from anywhere they want. BUT! they are within the Apple system and spend their their time there, and Apple has access to all their information.

Apple lives by hardware sales. Amazon lives by retail sales. They need these customers, and this is why they have created a cloud based system with a lot of similar features.

As I outline in my post:

    • There’s gold in them thar hills!
      That’s right, there’s gold, and if you don’t stake your claim PDQ you are out. Period! The gold is customers, and any company that wants to play big in the online sales business had better stake out a claim or forever be a has-been. Amazon realizes this and they are in the game to win.

      http://jmmxkindlepage.wordpress.com/analysis-kindle-fire/

This is why they are willing lose money in order to stake out their claim in the Internet Cloud.

Amazon is a very smart company that sees the implications here, realize their importance, and has gone all out with a brilliant strategy to buy into the top-tier marketers of the future. They are one of the few that is holding its own against Apple.

Still, the amount of energy and money they are investing show how really important it is to them!

Their strategy?

    • Do not go head to head with Apple – at least not at first. (Fire is not directly competing – see above link)
    • It is OK to lose a little money at first.
    • Slowly build:
      • Services
      • Experience
      • Customers
    • When customer base is sufficient, move up to more competitive products.
    • When customer base and experience are sufficient, move to profitable products.

Profit for Amazon always includes the value of an added customer who is to some degree locked into their system.


I know that some of these ideas are not original to me. However, I feel I have put them all together in a unique way. I also think that not many others see the real implications of the Cloud Computing paradigm, and how important it is.

Let me know what you think!

In Summary

Perhaps this statement, “biggest shift…” is a little too strong. Whether it is exaggerated or not, however, the important thing is that the impacts are real.




The big Apple (non?) Event.

Well, At fist glance, this event was no-news – at least to us tech fanatics who have been following all the rumors for weeks now!

So, it seems like there are more reasons than ever to buy an iPhone: it is definitely a leader in smartphones if not the leader. It probably has the greatest technology of any phone. But to upgrade? First I do at first glance, then I follow with a deeper  analysis below.

At first glance there was nothing really new. Let’s look at them:

  • Upgrades to iPods? Ok. Nice, but not much really. I wish the iPod Touch had a camera (still) and GPS. That has always been a disappointment to me.
  • The iCloud – Sounds kinda cool, but… well we’ve known about that for months. So what’s the big deal with it anyway. A nice little convenience, but does not really change much.
  • iPhone 4s :

    • iPhone 5! Yay! – oh, oh… there is none. Gee, that is disappointing, only a new 4s…
    • New Camera? – very impressive, but this is not earth shattering. I watched Engadget’s live blog and the photos really are spectacular, but still this does not rocket one to the overnight queue.
    • New A5 chip. Now this is impressive. The technological advance is mind boggling. But still, in terms of some real new functionality, it does not get me jumping. Unless you are a real gamer, it does not seem like a reason to jump online.
    • Siri Assistant – now this is very cool! This seems like amazing technology, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Or… well maybe I can wait. I mean, I have lived without this for all my life. I just wait until next year when my plan gets me a new phone (well my wife gets a new phone. While I am a technophile with computers and photography, I have never liked cell phones and don’t own one smart or dumb. When my Nikon can talk to the phone over wifi, I will get one.)
    • Better Antenna/Reception: That is good too. (yawn)
    • Higher Data Speeds is something we can all get behind, but if you
So… What is the verdict here?
I have been saying all along here that this is at first glance. And if you list all the new features one by one, you get a picture of great evolutionary growth here. Everything is a significant improvement over the iPhone 4. The 4s is a strong push ahead. Heck, you cannot create a revolution every year!
Analysis
The new features seem so modest at first glance, one could easily pass them as cosmetic. But I believe they are not all so superficial.
A5 Chip: The power here is pretty amazing. You see it most i the gaming. The demo there had even the usually snarky Engadget blogger impressed. This new chip will make all graphic intensive jobs go much faster, from taking photos, to editing them, to web page reproduction. It also allows compute intensive jobs to run quicker, including the Siri Assistant. In fact, that appears to require the A5 to function. This is a greater advance than many will think in advance, but will go a long ways to improving the experience overall (not to mention Siri Assistant again).
Siri Assistant
This, I think, will be very very big. at first it will be only a novelty. As people use it, however, they will soon find that can’t remember how they lived without it. It reminds me of all the pundits who said of the iPad “Oh so nice, but who needs it?” Only to write two months later, “Now I can’t live without it.” In three or four years, it will be just a part of our lives like text messaging.
iCloud
To me, this is the really big one. Finally, the promise of my digital world anytime, anywhere, seamlessly and effortlessly will be a reality. It has been coming slowly. Thirty years ago it existed in the technical world of Unix programmers who could access their account from any machine in their company’s system. Later we got the ability to do so from home via VPN, and it was not longer limited to Unix. But it was never seamless. You had to log on and there was definitely a sys-admin to deal with both for help and restrictions.
Now we all have that access with no hassle at all (other than having access to the internet).
Once again, I am certain that this is feature is going to become so incredibly pervasive, that it will soon be a complete necessity. This is particularly good news for Apple share holders because it is going to make the product line very very “sticky.” That is, once a person has an iPad, it only makes sense to get a Mac because it will share seamlessly. Sure, you can get on any web browser and access your photos and files, it it takes a concerted effort to do so, With iOS and Lion, it will all happen automagically.
The even bigger thing for investors is how this will effectively lock users into the Apple family. Today, if Julie wants to move from an iPhone to a droid, she just has to figure out once how to to get her iTunes library into her new phone, not a difficult thing at all. But if Julie has most of her files in the iCloud, then it is a different story. Now she has to make sure that everything gets downloaded to her computer (which she maybe does not use much anymore) and while this is not particularly difficult, it is non trivial and a real pain. So, while she is not locked in, there is certainly a real hurdle to get over if she wants to change.
Amazon has realized this too. They realize very well the importance of the cloud storage. This is why they limited Kindle to just 8 GB of data. First to save a few dollars (and very few dollars). After all, you do not need a lot of onboard memory when you can always get what you need from the internet whenever you need it. (Although this is a little more problematic on a device with no cellular connection to the internet.) More importantly, however, they understand that to get you to join their system, is to lock you into it. They do not throw away the key, just make it a little more difficult to jump ship. Besides, it is also so easy to just upgrade to another one of their own devices later on…
Conclusion
While some of the individual components of the 4s upgrade appear to be merely evolutionary, and others while new and “cool” do not appear enormously important, two of there really are revolutionary improvements that will have profound effects on the future of computing, both mobil and desktop/laptop.