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Google buys Motorola, fights FTC; cheap iPhone rumoured, Apple surges and fights everyone in patent wars - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. Don’t forget to check out our latest agenda ‘M-Commerce 2.0: How Personal Data will Revolutionize Customer Engagement’, including more details of our next Brainstorms in New York (5th-6th October) and London (9th-10th November) run in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.]

Google is now a huge phone vendor - it just bought Moto Mobility for $12.5bn. We’ll be analysing this in greater detail as part of our forthcoming research report on ‘Apple, Google, Facebook, Skype - the Disruptors, and Strategies for Co-opetition’ (email contact@telco2.net for more details).

Meanwhile, Motorola Mobility chief Sanjay Jha said that the company would consider doing a Windows Phone if they could get the same terms as Nokia from Microsoft. Somehow, we suspect you’ll be waiting a while for a Moto WP7 handset.

The Wall Street Journal has more detail about the US Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into Google. It seems as if the case, if any, is likely to centre on the Skyhook Wireless affair and Android, although that’s not the only issue. The question of content reviews on other web sites may remind people with long memories of when AFP threatened to sue Google to stop them indexing their news stories - for some odd reason it wasn’t enough just to set robots.txt to tell the Googlebot to go away.

Apple has taken out an injunction to stop Samsung selling Galaxy Tabs in Europe, except for the Netherlands. However, they haven’t technically claimed a patent violation, probably because European patent law doesn’t like software patents. They’re also pursuing Motorola over the Xoom. We shall see how contentful the patent actually is - an occasional series in the News Review has been patent rows that seem to cover features that are part of the core GSM specification, Internet RFCs from the early 1980s, or that were actual Psion products in the 1990s.

Horace Dediu has this month’s smartphone scoreboard. Everyone except for Apple and the ‘droids has been squeezed into negative territory - although there is just a glimmer of hope for Windows Phone 7 in May-June 2011. Android is steadily eating into the non-smartphone base and squeezing RIM, while Apple has hit a hard deck at 25% of the market.

He’s got more data here - it’s Horace, he’s always got more data - which shows rather well that Apple has surged ahead on every metric you can think of, while Sony Ericsson has been one of the biggest losers in terms of hard cash. Also, in the comments, the secret is out! The mystery behind those beautiful charts turns out to be a Macintosh-only visualisation app called Numbers, available from the App Store for a snip at $19.99.

Google, meanwhile intervened in Lodsys’s lawsuit against Angry Birds developers Rovio, arguing that the patent (which claims to cover any form of in-app payment) is invalid.

Nokia has announced the end of Symbian in North America, a couple of weeks after announcing a gaggle of new devices with Symbian Anna/Belle. Staying consistent, then. Apparently, in future, the Windows Phones will all be sold via carrier partners, which is only sensible. Also, although the N9 was launched in London, it won’t be for sale in the UK.

Want a phone with “just Android”, no sugar on top? Here’s a list.

The latest lot of Apple rumours are concentrating on a 5th September launch for the iPhone 5 and perhaps a concurrent launch for a new low-cost iPhone. This makes a certain amount of sense - think of those market share numbers and the apparent hard limit at 25% - but the rest of the rumour doesn’t stick so well. Part of the justification for the iCheap is that it’s meant to be an export version for China and India, so why does anyone think that it might be an “iCloud Phone” if it’s meant to go to places where always-on mobile broadband is not very likely, power supply shaky, and network latency high?

However, we did notice that Orange UK is offering the old iPhone 3GS free with a £25/month subscription, which sounds a lot like clearing the shelves.

The only cheaper way to get an iPhone is probably to steal one, which brings us to the third big mobile platform, RIM. This week saw a wave of riots sweep across British cities, supposedly coordinated by angry teens on BlackBerry Messenger. It was either the worst or the best way to mark the launch of five new BBs running the new QNX OS, depending on which of RIM’s split personalities you prefer. The buttoned-up, enterprise-focused provider of e-mail for suits, with really good device management features? Or the firm that made its tablet product a closet games console and delighted the world’s teenagers with a messaging network that’s like Facebook…except you can exclude people from it ‘cos it’s private! No wonder they have two CEOs.

At least in the UK, another Christmas No.1 is probably in the bag. TechCrunch Europe has a detailed report, while on the other hand, RIM signed up a new customer for hosted BIS…Saudi Telecom.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, usually something of an enthusiast for revolutionaries on Twitter and all that jazz, speculated openly about the possibility of turning off “social networks”. But this paper from scholars at ParisTech Telecom suggests that they’ll only be angrier if you deny them their Facebook fix.

In Libya, meanwhile, Renesys reckons that the problem isn’t that the government will turn off the interwebs, but rather just that they’re having trouble keeping the backup generators going.

Mobile is now the world’s biggest semiconductor market (although you might have wondered how it wasn’t before, given the numbers of base stations). Relatedly, Windows XP is finally on the way out, but it seems to be more due to people shifting to smartphones and tablets for their basic computing and to Apple Macs for heavier tasks than to people upgrading Windows.

Further, is Apple now the productivity leader in the PC market, like Dell used to be but with prettier computers? As if to bear it out, they’re launching an iMac under $1,000.

ZDNet’s Mobile Gadgeteer is disappointed with the HP TouchPad, and it turns out that the unofficial open-source community version of WebOS makes it perform like an iPad 2. The point is made that HP should perhaps open-source the whole thing if it wants people to run the unofficial version.

Bad day at Microsoft: first of all, Bing ads are caught serving up malware. Then, what a Patch Tuesday! This month’s crop includes a number of beauties - we especially like the one where you can use a recursive DNS server to murder any Winodws-based DNS server via a crafted NAPTR query (that’s the one that maps phone numbers and SIP IDs), although the latest Internet Explorer drive-by download exploit is pretty good too, and so is the blue-screen-of-death triggered by a sequence of ping messages.

No wonder they’re paying hackers for bugs.

Who’s got the cloud integrated in their desktop operating system? Ubuntu Linux, that’s who!

Out on the Web, LinkedIn reported strong results with revenue of $121m. For our purposes, the interesting bit is that something over two-thirds of their money comes from upstream customers - two-sidedness, how are ya.

Google’s Hotel Finder is sharply criticised by FastCo Design. But it can’t be as bad as MySpace, which turns out to have been carried on NewsCorp’s books for $300 million while they were selling it for $100 million.

Starting later this year, there’s going to be a new threat to NewsCorp in its back garden. The National Broadband Network will be providing end-to-end multicast as a packaged service. Content providers pay A$5/month for each 10Mbps stream into the multicast mesh, plus A$250/month per 100Mbps interconnect at the local POP. Has it suddenly got amazingly easy to be a national TV station?

Meanwhile, Telco 2.0 speaker and former YouView CTO Anthony Rose has given his social-TV startup a brand.

Apple’s streaming-music service seems to have been delayed, due to the problematic negotiations with the content owners. It’s enough to make you give up and go be a telco…which is what Virgin Media just did, selling their remaining stake in UKTV in order to concentrate on their network.

Someone else concentrating on his network is the founder of Megaupload, profiled here by CNET.

TalkTalk’s official blog announced some interesting numbers on network usage, and makes the point that the PlayStation Network coming back to life made it a very challenging day for their infrastructure. That had consequences elsewhere - Dan “Half Man, Half CDN” Rayburn reports that Limelight Netwokrs missed its earnings target primarily because of the lost earnings due to the PSN, a major customer, being down. Also, Akamai had a significant outage.

Rayburn also notes that Sony is cutting prices of its Internet TVs.

Brough Turner has a fascinating post on YouTube’s flow-control mechanism and its interaction with DSL networks’ buffers. Fans of Jim Gettys’ Bufferbloat Project will of course note that the answer might actually be less buffering.

We’ve mentioned Cradlepoint’s line of branch-office routers with cellular connectivity before, but now they’re official partners of VZW. Details here, but the take-home message is that VZW is pushing them out to make their LTE network a preferred option for out-of-band management networks and back-up connectivity. Of course, if you really mean it, there’s always this VZ product.

Oh dear, hackers have noticed M2M. And Cisco announced results above target.

In the exciting world of Voice 2.0, Google moved the ball down the field on standards and technology this week, announced a pure-web API for working with audio in Google Chrome. As there’s a W3C working group on this, we should probably expect that it will make its way into HTML5 at some point. Google also expanded the reach of Google Talk inside GMail.

Tips for working efficiently with the new Skype UI are here and here. Facebook and Skype status updates are now integrated - which implies that there’s an XMPP-to-Skype gateway somewhere out there.

An interesting interview. Collecting addresses from phone calls. And here’s a knock-out product: if you’re building a PhoneGap cross-platfrom phone app, you can now use the Phono softphone inside it

The US Army is considering binning its wearable computing projects in favour of something based on a smartphone-like device. Meanwhile, Panasonic and Samsung are working on a standard for 3D specs. HTC, however, has the best idea of the lot: buying Dr. Dre’s hi-fi company, presumably with a view to a line of music-focused devices. We never did work out why so many vendors ship “music phones” with horrible tinny headphones.

45,000 Verizon workers are on strike. US ISP Frontier gets caugh not just hijacking DNS NXDOMAIN messages, but forcing searches involving Amazon through a machine that tags on their Amazon.com affiliate account.

Amazon’s Irish data centre is struck by lightning, causing a major EC2 outage. Level(3)’s favourite fibre cuts. Scat-singing IPv6 addresses. 30 years of IBM PCs.

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