Feb 262012
 

Hot off the heals of the announcement of their combination pico projector/shartphone, the Galaxy Beam, Samsung has just announced the first hybrid tablet/fax machine: the Galaxy Fax.

Also runs Flash for THE FULL INTERNET

Like the Galaxy Beam, the Fax will run the latest version of Android 4.0 released in October Android 2.3 and support the latest V.92 transmission standard. A Samsung senior executive interviewed at Barcelona’s Mobile World Conference had the following to say about the potential of the Fax:

“We’ve heard from users that they want devices that don’t compromise. They don’t want to use one device to call their pharmacy and another device to transmit a paper facsimile of their prescription. The Fax represents the future of telephony AND the future of faxing. We predict this device will make fax machines obsolete in 5 years.”

The Fax will be available in March at retailers everywhere. Paper rolls and toner not included.

 Posted by at 10:48 am  Tagged with:
Feb 222012
 

/crickets

No one? Well, as a mindless fanboy, it’s my duty to throw out some irrelevant facts in an attempt to obfuscate the reality of Apple’s horrible labor practices in China.

One of the arguments upon which the current toxicity of anti-Apple venom is based is that Apple releases products that are so utterly compelling (yet not really, but we’ve all been duped into main-lining whatever the company produces) at such a breakneck pace that we can’t help but toss our old kit in favor of the One More Thing. If that’s a strike against Apple, it’s a game’s worth of outs against their competitors. In 2011, Apple released the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2. Apple’s competitors were a little more aggressive: both HTC and Motorola released 5 shartphones; Samsung released 12.  HTC released the Flyer tablet, Motorola introduced 2 versions of their XYBoard tablet, while Samsung put out 3 major versions of the Galaxy Tab.

2011 also marked major operating system releases for Android and iOS. iOS 5, released in October, will run just fine on a 2009 iPhone 3GS. Google also released its v4 of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, when it announced its third “Google phone”, the Galaxy Nexus in October. Adoption of the Android 4.0 has somewhat lagged  behind its iPhone counterparts: 40% of all iPhones run iOS 5; around 1% of all Android phones run Android 4.0. But all the manufacturers and carriers have plans to upgrade…most…of their phones, so that’ll totally change any day now.

So on the one hand we have a manufacturer that releases one version of its smartphone and tablet offerings per year and offers OS upgrades instantly to phones they made over 2 years ago. On the other hand, we have manufacturers that vomit multiple versions of their shartphones and tablets into the market every year. The vast majority of these phones and tablets ship with out-of-date operating systems and the total adoption of their most current version is a rounding error.

I guess you don’t get to be a focus of scrutiny if your shit doesn’t sell, never mind all the models you fling at the wall in an attempt to get them to stick. But maybe all the criticism is directed at Apple because all of these other manufacturers do such a good job monitoring their supply chains. Let’s take a look at Apple’s chief competitor, Samsung.

Forging through Samsung’s “About Us” pages to find anything about supply chain reporting – the kind with actual numbers – was kind of an adventure. To Samsung’s credit, the pictures are much prettier than the ones you’ll find in their financial reporting. They have an “ethics charter”.

It comes with its own emblem, which should be standard for all Ethics Charters, IMO:

Samsung Sells Shartphones Assembled by the Seashore

What it doesn’t present is a lot of data about its third-party suppliers. One document  that does look promising is its comprehensive Sustainability Report (pdf), especially the part about “Major Questions” that lists the categories of queries made of the company from stakeholders.

 Looks like we’re getting to the heart of the tough issues Samsung has to address on a regular basis. Let’s see…where’s page 28?

So…how about Foxconn? China? Guess that’s not really a focus of the report – at all.  Of course, this only reflects one reading of the 88-page report. It could be in there somewhere. There’s also no mention of a partnership with the Fair Labor Association. Guess we’ll have to trust that Samsung makes sure its partners do the right thing, despite there not being any quantitative evidence supporting it. But hey: if pretty pictures and socially responsible corp-speak do it for you, Samsung totally nailed it.

It’s also rather telling that in an industry that seizes upon any strategic advantage it can get against Apple (the XOOM offers the FULL INTERNET with FLASH!), the other companies using Foxconn have been strangely silent regarding Apple’s labor practices. Wouldn’t you want to milk that black mark for everything you could? Well, I guess you would if you wanted people to start asking – in ways that can’t be answered with colorful charts and mission statements – about your commitment to supply chain ethics.

As is the case with a lot of issues – from user privacy to responsible management of the supply chain – Apple’s success makes it the subject of an inordinate amount of scrutiny. One of these days, maybe there will be some room under the microscope for other companies that use human capital in China to face more of the breathless accusations that seem to be reseved exclusively for Apple.

But I doubt it.

Feb 152012
 

There’s a lot of stuff covered on the Apple beat daily, usually by multiple blogs. Because I tend to dwell on one topic and post infrequently, I’m going to try something a little different: taking some of the headlines from my RSS feed and commenting on their gist. The news items are plucked somewhat randomly, as 12 other blogs usually post something on the same issue within 20 minutes of each other. Some other pieces are thrown in for “color”. I’m hoping this is a way for me to add a small amount of original commentary on topics I’d either never get to or before they are processed to death by the technorati blogging machine. Comments/suggestions are always welcome.

RantSS for 2-15-12

Your iPhone’s Privacy Sucks Because of Apple—and Even Steve Jobs Agrees – Jizzmodo

We’re taking the address book permission issue and blaming it on Apple, because Google Analytics tells us that baiting people in possession of common sense accounts for 93% of our traffic. We even found a video of the brilliant dead guy who ran the company being quoted on a somewhat similar issue out of context.

Did Samsung just reveal a Galaxy Note 10.1 for MWC? – The Verge

Samsung makes a 5.3″ Galaxy Note, which is a giant phone with a stylus; they also make a 10.1″ (7″ and 8.9″) Galaxy Tab, which are tablets. The “10.1” Galaxy Note” is either a PR screw-up created by the confusion inherent in maintaining a product line consisting of a bajillion undifferentiated knock-offs or of jamming a phone into a 10″ tablet is sheer deperation. Both possibilities are even money.

How Realistic Would a Robot Have to Be for You to Have Sex with It? – Jizzmodo

Read about the trending topic at all the Jizzmodo IRL meet-ups.

Apps uploading address books is a privacy side-show compared to DPI – TechCrunch

Deep Packet Inspection is a lot more intrusive than what Path did. Here’s a bunch of companies that do it now! Did we mention that more than 50 other apps do what Path did? Have we covered how Apple’s address book permission policies allow Path and others to do these things? Did we mention that TechCrunch enjoys 100% editorial independence from potential influencers like CrunchFund?

Video: Photoshop CS6 Content-Aware Move, Extend Makes Us Drool – Mac|Life

Here’s one feature that you can use to justify spending $600 on a program that’s now 90% feature redundant with programs costing 5% as much. Remember to fasten your bib prior to buffering.

News: Realmac Software releases Clear – iLounge

Absolutely every other tech site has reported on this app and I’m stumped as to why this is. It’s maybe the 12th most useful and 3rd prettiest app in the most crowded category of the App Store, but I predict it will be upheld as an example of app excellence because you can pinch, spread and pull to manipulate the UI. For this reason it will also be a deserved object of competing platforms’ ridicule.

FLA head describes Foxconn plants as ‘way above average’ – MacNN

/cue Change.org response about 1. the FLA being paid plants with no objectivity, 2. use of the term “average” and a warning to guilty westerners that “average” in Chinese means life-threatening and/or soul-sucking. 3. Apple having too much money, gotten through arbitrary means and compounded at an interest rate derived from the value of the souls and backs of cheap, exploited labor.

Congress Wants Answers From Apple On Apps Stealing Address Book Contacts – Cult of Mac

Dear Mr. Cook:

I really don’t have a clue about technology, but I do know that your company receives the vast majority of technology coverage in the media today, which means my political future could stand to benefit from your answering my questions relating to an ongoing issue that has only recently been getting media attention. Apple has a track record of answering inquiries issues from elected officials, so I have a better than average chance of being able to parley this letter into some future favor among this country’s younger voters.

I’ve cut and pasted something taken from various blogs across the intertubes that I think frames my inquiry, and juxtaposed it against an excerpt from your own developer guidelines in a way that I think makes it look like something important. The following is a list of questions, most of which overlap each other, that I will have a young person on my staff, Felipe Mendoza, to translate the answers to in “elected official speak” for me. I’ve added a respond-by date, because I want it to look like I mean business.

Sincerely,

Some generic politician

Some trumped-up title

Some subcommittee that does nothing

Apple: iOS update to require user permission for apps to access contacts – Macworld

Last call for all editorializing about Apple’s contacts permission policy, 7 day extension granted to all blogs who want to bitch about how it should have been done sooner.

To Read, Or Not To Read – parislemon

Sigh.

Jan 242012
 

It gets hard to talk about how insanely profitable Apple is – every quarter. Aside from running the risk of disappointing retarded analysts, as was the case last quarter when they nonsensically decided to go shithouse the quarter before a new iPhone was released, there’s this feeling that it can’t possibly last. That feeling was exacerbated this morning, as the Street started pushing estimates up hours before the earnings call.

Apple’s response to the hype made all of their prior performances look like dainty appetizers. I’ll try to put it in context with a couple of comparisons.

This quarter, Apple had:

  • Profit equal to its revenue 5 quarters ago and $3 billion dollars more than Google’s revenue from last quarter.
  • Twice Microsoft’s revenue and net income.
  • The 4th largest reported profit of any company – ever – and the only non-petroleum company in the top 20 all-time.

Macworld has some pretty jaw-dropping graphs that detail the carnage.

While knock-off iPhone expectoraters like Samsung keep poking fun at Apple with their shitty advertising, there is a kernel of truth to them. People form lines for Apple’s kit – 37 million iPhones and 15.5 million iPads this past quarter alone. Samsung sees no lines, and now they can’t even claim a unit sales advantage – even though they vomit a bazillion phones every quarter. Can’t wait to see your earnings this quarter, guys. I have a feeling you’ll be “HTC’d”.

Jan 132012
 

In an attempt to provide some unification to the cornucopia of ass that the apps in the Android Market resemble, Google announced a framework of design principles for the latest  version of the Android operating system. “Design principles” are a lot like “Mission Statements”: pretty words intended to signal some sort of unification, but really only as consequential as the means of enforcing them. And Google doesn’t really have the means. Samsung is going to continue with TouchWiz and HTC will keep slapping Sense over the base Android UI/UX. In terms of app developers, they fall into 3 camps. The vast majority produce cut-and-paste and/or knock-off shit and don’t give a whit about Android’s design principles. The ones who currently employ good design and make good apps for Android (both of them) are probably insulted by the principles’ obviousness, so it won’t effect them either. I suppose there is a small group of earnest developers seeking some direction that stand to benefit, so congrats to Google and artisan Matt Duarte on reaching those souls who are artistically gifted, yet in need of guidance.

This is Google’s latest attempt to address the rampant fragmentation that is encouraged on a Wild West platform like Android. If the mandated inclusion of the Holo theme on all ICS handsets is a stick, this is its analogous – and equally inconsequential – carrot. But I do hear ICS comes with some sweet new wallpapers.

I'd f*ck me.

Jan 112012
 

John Biggs from TechCrunch is telling us how Samsung “can have it all” :

“So you have two superlatives: biggest phone manufacturer and biggest TV manufacturer. Add in some tablets, some washing machines, and some acceptable software and you have a real and vibrant ecosystem. The next year will bring plenty of efforts to bring streaming media into the home, but the guy who is already there will win.”

So this is what it takes for a “real and vibrant ecosystem”? Someone should tell the other guys who were “already there” (Palm smartphones, Rio mp3 players, and a long list of etcs.) that the game is rigged and they should have won. Apple’s success has come on the backs of products that were not “already there”; it came from executing flawlessly – mostly in markets where they had no prior presence.

The only thing Samsung’s “already there” status tells me is that history is pretty decent indicator of future performance.

Nov 282011
 

You see the latest ad from Samsung knocking all you fanboys standing in line for the 4S? The one that touts the Samsung Galaxy S II Xtreme Beta 9 as the phone the 4S wants to be? Here’s a snippet:

I lied. That’s not the actual dialogue from the commercial. The actual script touting the Galaxy (ii) IV The Voyage Home contained sick jabs about the iPhone 4s’s “spotty battery” in almost the same breath that one actor expresses joy over her knock-off’s 4G coverage without her head exploding from the ironic shearing forces.

Rumor has it that the sequel to this commercial will focus on the line for the Galaxy S II – the return line.

Oct 282011
 

Imagine my semi-surprise when the “market research firm” Strategy Analytics released its numbers for global smartphone vendor shipments and stated that Samsung had shipped a whopping 370% more smartphones this past quarter (3rd quarter) than they did in the same quarter in 2010. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because these statistics are as impossible as “market research firms” are credible.

Samsung actually produced a useful document which seriously calls into question this wonderful 370% number: its financial reporting presentation for this past quarter, which I pulled from their “Investor Relations” webpage.

Quick aside – check out the Samsung Investor Relations website landing page:

No, take a good look at it:

It must be oddly comforting to Samsung’s investors that the same shitpile design aesthetic was applied to both Samsung’s web presence and their shartphone operating systems.

Back on point. According to the 2nd slide labeled “Segment Information”, 3rd quarter sales (in trillion Won) only increased 37% YoY.

Created in Windows Paint

So Strategy Analytics is saying that the number of smartphones shipped is greater than the increase in sales by a factor of 10 when compared to Samsung’s own information. Where’s that skeptical baby .jpg?

There he is!

Of course it’s entirely possible that Samsung shipped every one of those alleged 28 million phones in the 3rd quarter and most of them are still hanging out in the channel. The strategy, sometimes known as “stuffing the channel” is what I call “beating off into a dirty sweatsock”. It feels good when you do it, but it kind of sucks when you have to dispose of the evidence. Let’s see how Sammy deals with that in the 4th quarter.

Oct 142011
 

Poor Samsung. Can’t a guy knock off a few patented features of a competitor’s product anymore? Remember the salad years? Windows 3.1? Those were the days! Now they’ve got these CEOs who refuse to license their stuff and these bands of lawyers to back them up! And to make matters worse, the courts are backing them up!

This week has been particularly miserable for Sammy. Not only has the parade of preliminary injunctions grown to include Australia (in addition to Germany and the Netherlands), a federal judge in California opined that Samsung does infringe on some of Apple’s patents in the U.S. and a Dutch court ruled that Samsung couldn’t use FRAND patents to force an injunction against Apple’s products. Rough week.

“You keep him here!”

Apple doesn’t want to charge you a licensing fee, nor do they want to cross-license your bullshit, bought-from-another-company patents. Apple wants you to stop knocking off their innovation, even if your execution has been laughable. And they’ll go to the mat – and the courts – to shut you down. Maybe now they have your attention.

Sep 282011
 

I remember reading that Microsoft made more money from licensing agreements related to Android than it did from its own Windows Phone 7. Now another shrimp is grilling on the barbie. Samsung, the largest maker of Android phones, is now the 7th manufacturer to agree to some sort of license deal with Microsoft, leaving soon-to-be-acquired Motorola as the only major player still in Redmond’s sights. As FOSS Patent’s Florian Mueller points out, this makes it pretty clear that Samsung doesn’t have faith that Googlerola is the answer to its prayers, while also making the likelihood of Google having to ante up to Microsoft for its blushing bride a certainty.

I guess “Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem” doesn’t reflect Samsung’s deep commitment to sit around and wait for it to happen.

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