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China Patent Wars: Huawei Sues ZTE

April 28, 2011



Huawei today filed lawsuits in Germany, France, and Hungary against ZTE a fellow Chinese manufacturer of telecom equipment - with strength in 4G/LTE technology among others. The interesting point here is the company is being sued for patent and trademark infringement and what this shows us is a greater concern for patents and trademarks in China. At least from Huawei.

According to the company, they paid US $222 million themselves in patent licensing fees to obtain the legal right to use patents and technologies of other companies in the industry. In fact TMCnet reported two weeks ago that Huawei and Motorola Solutions settled patent disputes.

This is great news as Huawei had a reputation years back for copying technology from companies like Cisco and after losing a  court case they seem to have become more serious about patents and trademarks.

Last month I pointed out how a sales boom for tech and media is being unleashed by China as a result of it announcing 3,001 people have been arrested for rampant product piracy and seized fake or counterfeit medicines, liquor, mobile phones and other goods.

This is all great news for western companies who have invented technology which China wants to and will continue to use.









Amazon EC2 Outage: What The Experts Tell Us

April 27, 2011

The recent Amazon outage of its EC2 service affected a number of leading-edge companies who in some cases used the fact that they housed little to no infrastructure on their premise as a selling point to investors. Certainly, the cloud computing market is in what we could call a post-evangelism phase where there seems to be universal agreement that the cloud has a role in most organizations – at least to help with some tasks – if not all. We know the concept of hosted solutions isn’t new – many companies outsource payroll for example or tax preparation.

But certainly, when the largest company providing cloud infrastructure has a major outage of one of its availability zones lasting days,  it’s time to sit back and reflect on the challenges of moving wholesale to the cloud without thinking the concept fully through.

Apple Responds to Locationgate

April 27, 2011

With the controversy surrounding the data being gathered by smartphones with Apple and Google operating systems, Apple has decided to come out with an explanation of what exactly it is doing and why. Here are the salient points of what they call a location Q&A:

  • Apple says it does not track the location of your iPhone, and it never has or will do so.
  • The reason this has become an issue is companies such as Apple haven’t done a good job explaining the complex technical issues at work.
  • Apple is maintaining a database of WiFi hotspots generated by tens of millions of devices sending encrypted information regarding the location of hotspots so as to be able to provide accurate location information when GPS satellite tracking information is not available. It cites usage in a basement as an example of why it needs to do this.
  • This crowd-sourced database is too large to fit in an iPhone but a subset of it is stored on iPhones and can be encrypted or not – based on user settings in iTunes. Researchers were confused by this data which was being backed up onto local PCs – but Apple plans on updating its software soon and at this point it will stop backing up this information.
  • Apple cannot locate a user based on its geo-tagged WiFi information.
  • Apple has been storing up to a year’s worth of location data and the company says this is a bug and going forward they will only store seven-days’ worth of location information.
  • Another bug according to Apple is the device continued to update WiFi and cell tower data from the crowd-sourced database even if location data was turned off.
  • Apple is collecting crowd-sourced traffic data in order to provide accurate traffic data for its users.
  • Apple provides anonymous crash data to third-party developers and the company’s iAds platform allows anonymous geotargeting of ads but requires user approval before sharing location data with an advertiser.

eBay Buys Where.com for Hyper-Local Deal Offers

April 20, 2011

In the race to become a leader in the local deal market – companies seem to be tripping over one another. This includes Google who is working organically while making an unsuccessful bid for Groupon. Twitter and Facebook play in this market as well and eBay just acquired Where.com, a Boston-based local-deals and location-based services company for $135M.

PayPal’s Amanda Pires explains they plan to integrate PayPal into the WHERE mobile app to make it even easier for customers to take advantage of the local deals.

Super WiFi Hotspot Gives 3 Mile Range

April 19, 2011

One of the absolutely most disruptive technologies I have seen is Super WiFi and although, until now, the technology has been more theory than practice, there is a grandmother in Texas named Leticia Aguirre who has lit up a hotspot in her house with a range of three square miles – an absolutely staggering distance. Utilizing dynamic spectrum access the network shifts automatically between WiFi and a dormant digital UHF TV channel to provide the ideal coverage characteristics.

Organizations involved in this trial are Rice University, Houston nonprofit Technology for All (TFA) and the NSF who provided a grant to incorporate super WiFi into the network.

Coincidentally, this September will see the second occurrence of the world’s only Super WiFi Summit which will be cohosted by TMC where I am CEO and Crossfire Media where Carl Ford is a founding partner.

Is Android Security Really an Issue?

April 15, 2011

Yesterday I showcased an interview with investing legend Roger McNamee, managing director and co-founder of Elevation Partners but what I didn't mention was the following comment he made, "I don't trust Android because some 16-year-old kid in the Eastern Bloc presses a button and erases everyone's hard drive."

McNamee also made a call to short Google as a pairs trade with buying Apple the day before the stock of the search leader dropped almost $50 or 8% after missing their earnings number.


But just as interesting is another big piece of news which has to do with Skype responding to an Android vulnerability which has to do with unencrypted SQLite information on the device which can be accessed by malicious software. Of course the challenge is - what software is malicious - it certainly isn't advertised as stealing data in its description in app stores. Moreover, in this case, the issue seems to be Skype not setting file permissions appropriately to avoid data from being hijacked.

Of course when I read about the controversy I thought of the comments about the 16-year-old kid.

And at a time when Android is so popular - in fact in South Korea there is an antitrust complaint against the company - one wonders, what happens if McNamee is right and the platform isn't so secure?

But then again, any platform with a degree of openness and massive adoption is a major target of hackers and if our experience with Microsoft products is a solid guide, we can expect more Android vulnerabilities to surface and potentially frequent patches to be released to counteract them.












HTML5 to Allow 15-year Post Internet Boom Mega-Cycle

April 14, 2011

Investing legend Roger McNamee, managing director and co-founder of Elevation Partners was interviewed on CNBC this morning and explained why he is bullish on the tech sector. He goes on to say Apple is winning and tell us why. He continues by saying companies are trading down from Windows to tablets and saving thousands per year on support. This will free up $100B worth of revenue per year in this category.


Moreover, there is a titanic clash for Internet control - will it be app stores or HTML5?


Photobucket Outage

April 13, 2011

Updated 4/14/2011, 4/15/2011 and 4/19/2011 - see below.

Originally posted 4/13/2011

Apparently my Photobucket account is one of the ones unavailable due to maintenance. I have come to rely on this cloud-based photo sharing service more and more as it works on iOS and the Sony Dash. There is an Android app as well which I have found doesn't display photos as well as it does on other operating systems. Here is the message the company gives when I try to login via the web.



Update 4/14/2011: Its been more than 24 hours and the site is still out. This is without a doubt one of the challenges of moving to the cloud - but that doesn't mean as a customer of a free service I feel I have such a strong right to complain.

Jim Goss, the company's VP of Operations expressed his apologies (see below) for the site being inaccessible via the Sony Dash, the web and iOS - I've tried all three.









Bing For iPad: You Can Check Out But You Can Never Leave

April 8, 2011

Bing for iPad Home Page


The iPad gained a very valuable information portal today in the form of a new application from Bing which has impressed me a great deal. What is different about this software is it borrows from other well-designed apps and isn't afraid to throw in its own improvements and graphically appealing glue to tie it all together.

When you enter the app you are presented with the Bing image of the day and underneath the graphic are widgets which give you information about the weather, news, maps, movies, trends and finance. Many of these areas update, making this program a truly functional portal.

Bing for iPad Movies


You also have access to other information presented when you click at the top right of the menu. Some of these are repeats of the bottom widgets but items like images, shopping and history are unique.

Bing for iPad Map of TMC HQ Building


I've always been a fan of the Bird's Eye view of Bing Maps and you can use your iPad to pinch and zoom your way around the map like you would a mouse on a PC.














Important HD Voice Research Report Available

April 7, 2011

You probably know I have been a huge proponent of HD voice as to me it’s an inevitable outcome of transitioning away from the PSTN to IP-based networks which allow us to upgrade CODECs without having to downshift our conversations to technology which was invented many decades ago. When I was a kid, television was an 11 inch black-and-white screen which seemed to always have Walter Cronkite on it and changing the channels was a manual and rotary process.

Yet, the incredible tech advancements we have seen in the television space haven’t yet fully materialized in the world of telephony. Sure, I can have high-quality conversations if a call stays on IP networks and there is no need for transcoding or jumping onto the public switched telephone network.

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