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With Nokia on board, Microsoft are making some pretty big bets, and so they should if they're to remain to be seen as serious and in it for the long run. Microsoft’s COO Kevin Turner announced at WPC'11 that the company hopes to sell up to 100 million Windows Phone devices a year. Targeting and catering for a larger user base is the first baby step in achieving this goal.

What's also interesting is how Microsoft showed Apple's current ecosystem and how they plan to build a completely connected Windows/Xbox map to combat the fruit. Both companies are known for bashing one another at any given chance but the slides below are actually spot on. Being both a Windows and OS X user myself, I can whole-heartedly agree that there's a gap between my MacBook and iOS devices (iPad 2 and Apple TV).

It's one of the reasons why I prefer PC and WP7 over OS X and iOS. With the iPhone its a different OS altogether, a different store and a different UI. With the proposed plan by Microsoft, Metro UI will unite all their products and I can't think of a word to describe this development other than ingenious. The future of Microsoft is set to be 3 screens.

Via: MobileTechWorld

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An attempt by Apple to impose an injunction to stop Amazon from using the term "app store" has been shot down by a federal judge.  Amazon recently launched their Amazon Appstore for Android and Apple pounced, filing a lawsuit that claims that the name violates a trademark initially denied to Apple in 2008, but more recently granted in a 2010 appeal.  They also contend that Amazon is diluting and tarnishing the Apple brand.  U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton denied the motion for injunction because she saw no evidence of dilution or tarnishment, and only a slight case for trademark infringement. 

As for Amazon, they argue that "app store" is too broad of a term to be trademarked, as it is widely used to describe any such marketplace designed to let consumers purchase software applications for their devices.  Microsoft, who is also challenging Apple's claim to the name, used a similar line of reasoning in their motion for summary judgment with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Amazon further contends that the "for Android" part of the name draws a clear line between Apple's iOS-only store and theirs.

While the full case has yet to be decided by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, a denial of injunction like this is usually a sign that the will not end the way Apple hopes. 

Source: Ars Technica

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This is interesting, VIA has announced that they've sold their stake in S3 Graphics to HTC. Seems the Taiwan based handset manufacturer wishes to expand their portfolio and include silicon development. It will be interesting to see what this deal brings to future handsets from the company.

Even though S3 Graphics, a graphics chipset manufacturer, doesn't hold as much market share as it once did, they still play an important role in consoles, HTCs and VIA's compact motherboards. Tzu-mu Lin, Senior Vice President and Board Director of VIA, honored the transition:

"The transaction would allow VIA to monetize a portion of its rich IP portfolio, yet retain its graphics capabilities to support the development and sale of its processors and chipsets."

This move could also be fueled by Apple's recent encounter with S3 Graphics where a lawsuit has been filed against Apple for infringing two patents. HTC will now own this collection of patents, which I'm sure they'd be more than happy to use against Apple (especially after Nokia won a settlement).

Source: VIA PR, via: The Unwired

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Nokia announced today that they have reached a settlement with Apple in what was a long string of lawsuits and counter suits filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission involving alleged patent infringement by Apple in their iPhones.  Last month, the ITC ruled that no infringement had been committed, but then followed up by saying that they would investigate the matter further.  It seems that Apple was not confident enough in their case to let the investigation go on, so they have agreed to pay an undisclosed one-time sum to Nokia to close the case.  In addition, Apple will continue to pay royalties to the Finnish phone giant to prevent further infringement claims involving the same patents.

In a press release this morning, Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, smugly welcomed Apple to the party:

"We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees.  This settlement demonstrates Nokia's industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market."

This is a much needed win for Nokia, who has seen more than its fair share of turmoil in recent weeks.  Amongst dropping stock prices and departing execs, it was just recently projected that They would lose their crown as the world's top smartphone manufacturer to Samsung, as soon as the end of the quarter.  This may be the end of legal road, but it may embolden the struggling Nokia to expand their claims to other companies. 

Source: Nokia (full press release); Via: BGR

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Nokia has been the largest producer of smartphones in the world since 1996.  However, a recent Reuters article says that is going to change very soon, as Samsung is poised to supplant the Finnish powerhouse by the end of the quarter.  And if that news wasn't alarming enough for Nokia, projections by Nomura analysts point to Apple becoming #2 on the list as soon as Quarter 4, and HTC landing in a virtual tie at third sometime in 2012. 

This signals what analysts say is a shift to Asian manufacturers gaining more and more ground.  Nokia will remain the largest overall cellphone maker through all of this, but it is clear that smartphones is where the industry is heading, with the exception of emerging countries.  If they continue to decline in the smartphone market, they may not be long for this world.

It is no secret that Nokia is putting all its eggs in the WP7 basket, which it hopes will arrive in Quarter 4.  The company has been steadily losing marketshare, but has really been fighting to tread water since partnering with Microsoft, seeing it's stock prices dwindle amongst other things.

Source: Reuters; Via: TechWatch

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Joe Belfiore digs at iOS fan

This is simply priceless, our Joe Belfiore is having a small dig at an iOS fan who is reportedly looking forward to using his volume key as a camera shutter button (not sure what's to be excited about - it's a volume key). Steve Jobs seems to be running low of ideas and is slightly more concerned about Windows Phone 7 as he should well be. Not only do we have a dedicated camera shutter button, but we have 500 new features coming this fall, Xbox Live integration (which laughs at the Apple Game Center), true Facebook, LinkedIn and soon-to-be Twitter integration and live tiles coupled with a beautiful, intuitive UI.

I'm surprised Apple haven't announced that they're losing the rounded grid icons for square tiles which are all the same color.

Source: Twitter, Thanks Alex for the heads up!

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It's not everyday that Apple gets attacked by a handful of companies who compete in numerous markets, but it seems Microsoft, HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson have filed formal applications for a declaration of invalidity against the trademarks held by Apple for "App Store" and "Appstore" with the Trade Mark office in Europe.

This is familiar ground with Microsoft, having already fought for the trademark to be denied. Whereas, not so long ago, after Amazon launched it's Android "Appstore", Apple rushed in and sued the online retailer, which was counter sued with the claim that Apple was too generic with objections to term usage.

And in my opinion, Apple are being way too generic with their claims against usage of the terms. It shouldn't be trademarked as a term since "App Store" (and "Appstore") can be used in the variety of operating systems when describing the store in which you can purchase apps. Albeit Microsoft and Google have "Marketplaces". What do you make of this nonsense?

Source: CNET

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Attention fellow OS X users, Windows Phone 7 Connector 1.1 is here! Not much to report on (feature wise) since their gold release, but there is one huge improvement in functionality for majority of users. The software can now be configured to start up automatically when a supported device is detected. I was always unsure as to why this wasn't available from the off.

As well as the above change, we have performance improvements and high CPU synchronisation issues solved which is a welcomed fix. The only feature we need now is actual Zune service integration so we can use our passes without firing up the web browser.

If you haven't done so already, download the connector now.

Thanks Ali for the tip!

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With all the latest innovations and releases on the iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 platforms, I felt as though we should take a minute to sit back, relax, and watch fanboys go berserk over the above images. The funny part? It's all mostly true in a majority of POVs. To use the table you simply look from above as "How [SYSTEM] is seen by [SYSTEM OWNERS]", there are three biased presentations and six humorous interpretations to ease us all into the start of the weekend. 

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There have been a few reports and articles that have been published today about the recent questioning of Microsoft condemning Open Source to death – this isn’t true in its entirety. So, what has actually happened?

Well, without touching the horrible statement that all open source applications and games are banned, forgotten and condemned, we shall lightly pass through with Microsoft seem to be only tackling the GPLv3 and its derivatives. Neowin has reported that Microsoft is completely against Open Source (but have recently altered the title of their article) and are by no means completely correct.

GPLv3 being banned from the Marketplace is simply Microsoft taking steps in covering its back and preventing what situations Apple has found regarding licensing and Open Source (VLC in particular). Ruling out any code that falls under the license so Microsoft doesn’t violate the GPL is how it’s supposed to work. A fantastic post written up by Sasha Kotlyar (developer of WM6 Task Manager) explains quite clearly why Microsoft has chosen to disallow code that is under GPLv3.

“Because version 3 of the GPL family of licenses includes what has been dubbed the "anti-Tivoization" clause. Tivoization, from the name TiVo, is what that company did to its hardware in order to prevent unauthorized firmware modifications. In essence, they released the complete source code to the firmware that runs on TiVo boxes, but compiling such source code does not yield binaries that can run on the TiVo. That is because the authorized, official binary code is modified by TiVo to include a digital signature that must be accepted by the hardware before said code is allowed to run. GPLv3 includes a clause that prohibits this behavior.”

The Marketplace for the Xbox system and WP7 will prevent code under this license due to hardware performing Tivoization, and only Microsoft signed code is accepted. This is what the Open Source license in question goes against. Developers should take note that limited and liberal licenses (including MIT/X11) are usable for use in Xbox & Windows Phone 7 code.

What do you make of all this, and do you believe Microsoft are acting above board in complying with the license? 

Via: Neowin

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Windows Phone 7 Connecter on OS X goes gold on App Store Surprising all Apple focused Windows Phone 7 owners (myself included) with native support for their new platform, Microsoft have had their connector software that allows seamless synchronisation between WP7 devices and OS X in beta for a few months now since October '10. It has now gone gold. Unfortunately, there is still no Zune software available or that has been rumoured to be in active development which would be welcomed with open arms. There are no reportable features that have been added to the Connector, only fixes and enhancements. Still allowing media synchronisation with iTunes & iPhoto and allowing WP7 device firmware updates we don't truly have grounds to grumble. Head on over to the App Store to download the latest instalment for free. Should you have it already and the store is not reporting an update is available, simply drag the Windows Phone 7 Connector icon from your applications list to the trash can and then install from the App Store. Source: Engadget

Surprising all Apple focused Windows Phone 7 owners (myself included) with native support for their new platform, Microsoft has had their connector software that allows seamless synchronization between WP7 devices and OS X in beta since October '10. It has now gone gold.

Unfortunately, there is still no Zune software available or that has been rumored to be in active development, which would be welcomed with open arms. There are no reportable features that have been added to the Connector, only fixes and enhancements. Still allowing media synchronization with iTunes & iPhoto and allowing WP7 device firmware updates we don't truly have grounds to grumble.

Head on over to the App Store to download the latest installment for free. Should you have it already and the store is not reporting an update is available, simply drag the Windows Phone 7 Connector icon from your applications list to the trash can and then install from the App Store.

Source: Engadget

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IHS Screen digest has come out with their yearly report on online movie sell-though and Internet video-on-demand (iVOD) service and while Apple is stil at the top (by a lot, we might add) their dominance in the market appears to be waning.

In 2010, Apple controlled 64.5 percent of the online VOD market, but that's down from 2009's 74.4 percent--that loss of 10 percent seems to be quite a large number. Though to be put into perspective, the market itself grew by over 60%, meaning Apple still took away a nice chunk of change.

Reason for the decline in market share though? According to Arash Amel, IHS digital media research director:

Apple faced serious competition from Microsoft's Zune Video and Sony's PlayStation Store, as well as from Amazon and -- most significantly -- Walmart.

More importantly to our concerns, Zune Video platform increased to 17.9 percent from 2009's 11.6 percent--in large part due to the success of the Xbox 360/Kinect combo. That's actually an impressive gain if might say and shows that Microsoft does seem to have a plan here for getting into consumer video content. Combined with Windows Phone 7 (assuming it gains significant market share), we think Zune has a very bright future--so much so we wonder what Android could offer that is remotely analogous?

Although the conclusion by IHS is that Walmat (and Amazon) may be the biggest competitors against Apple, due to their sheer market size and brand-advantage. That may be true, but we don't see any Walmart video service on our smartphones and so far nothing from Amazon either--and the mobile market is an important one, for sure.

Soruce: IHS ScreenDigest; via: Twice; Thanks, Mark, for the tip!

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Metro UI theme on iPhone

Are you someone who loves Apple products but has envy for Windows Phone 7 owners for the interface they have the privilege in staring at for hours of each day? Or do you already own a WP7 device and wish to expand the deployment?

This has now become reality from just a possibility thanks to wyndwarrior, a theme designer at modmyi.com. Titled OS7, this theme for the iOS platform will transform your grid style Apple interface into a live tile enabled, aesthetically pleasing design that is found on WP7.

Before you begin to wander about the quality of the theme, or if functionality such as pinning (and unpinning) tiles to the main screen is missing, then fear not. Basic functions look and work very well, but the best feature? Live tiles are supported with more support on the way such as Facebook pulling live data etc. Although the theme requires you to mess with your device, which some people don't feel comfortable doing, it really is simple to install and get cracking...

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Have you ever considered the possibility of a comedy sketch covering Blackberry, Orange, Apple, Windows and the Xbox 360? The One Ronnie, a fantastic British comedy sketch show from the BBC with Ronnie Corbett has done just this. Turning 80 in December 2010, Ronnie is a comic legend and has appeared alongside the top names in the industry.

In one clip, he is joined by Harry Enfield. Doing what they do best, they cover the technological category of personal computers and mobile phones. Although Windows Phone 7 isn't mentioned (probably for the best), the sheer comedy value of the amusement the products from Microsoft, Apple, RIM and Orange play host to is worth every second.

Thanks, @TheGeek411

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In what has to be the first, developer David Tepper has created a free app called simply enough iTunes Search and it's actually quite unique.

The app allows you to search both the iTunes Music and the iOS App Stores from your Windows Phone. Of course, you can't actually download anything from those stores but once found, you can then use it to search the Zune Marketplace for something similar--which is kind of crafty. Actually, this thing handles both stores better than either native app--it looks sharp, loads fairly quickly and overall wins points for an elegant UI.

Combined with the Windows Phone ability to sync with a Mac, control your iTunes and now search the Apple App store, we're wondering what other Apple-task could come next?

Grab it here in the Marketplace.

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On Monday, Microsoft filed a motion for summary judgment with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in an attempt to get Apple's trademark of the term "App Store" denied.  They argue that the term is too generic to be awarded to just one company, as it is made up of two everyday, commonly used words.  As evidence of its generality, MS also shrewdly submitted an interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, where he is quoted as saying, "Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android."

Apple's application for the trademark dates back to 2008, so it seems a bit odd that MS would just think to do this now.  Obviously, the launch of WP7 and it's Marketplace prompted the move, but one would hope that the world's software leader wouldn't be so myopic.  No decisions have been made as of yet.  The status page  for the trademark merely reads: "An opposition is now pending at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board."

We will be sure to keep you posted.

Source: PCWorld; via: AppleInsider

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While we don't know just how many Mac users out there have a Windows Phone, for those brave enough (we salute you) there is some good news as Microsoft has published an update to the Connector app. To refresh, Connector allows Mac users to sync certain amounts of information and media to Windows Phone 7. While not a full Zune client, it's a step in the right direction for many who don't want to be tethered to Apple's ecosystem.

The latest version (0.6 beta) released on December 16th addresses some ongoing issues:

  • Fixes playback for the AAC files synced from iTunes that wouldn't play
  • Reverse sync MP3s bought from the WP7 phone
  • Properly sync from remote iTunes installs
  • Transfers bookmarks, ratings, release dates that were previously left out

Probably one of the biggest additions is the ability to support firmware updates via Connector, something which we believe all Windows Phone users will need in two months time. Finally, to round it out:

Direct device browsing has been given much more control and lets owners not only manually import individual items from the phone but delete them or preview them.

Other media forms also get improvements. Connector now better handles iPhoto '11 libraries and will organize iPhoto collections by event first and by album only if necessary. The video preparation process has been improved, Microsoft said. Remaining changes bring early support for updating a phone's firmware, faster overall syncing, a new device setup experience and a more graceful handling of when the phone needs to be unlocked with a PIN code.

Sounds like quite the update and not just some minor bug fixes. You can grab the new version right here.

Source: Electronista

 

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Recently, in a jocular back and forth between Matthew Mller (ZDNet), myself and Chad Garrett of TiPB, Chad suggested that we're enjoying just old ports of iPhone games and therefore nothing special when it comes to things like Assassin's Creed.

But after reading John Gruber's excellent article on Where Are the Android Killer Apps? I realized that Microsoft has done something that Google/Android have not: taken away Apple's exclusivity on various games and killer apps. Sure, we don't have nearly as many and are still lacking some big ones, but isn't that just a matter of time? Here's Gruber's quote on the matter which sums it up perfectly:

A final thought, regarding Android’s relative weakness as a software platform. iOS’s exclusivity for a bunch of big-name mobile games — Need for Speed Undercover, Star Wars: Battle for Hoth, Monopoly, Tetris, The Sims, Assassin’s Creed — has been broken. Not by Android, where none of these games exist, but by Windows Phone 7, a one-month-old platform.

That really is huge. Why, despite how popular Android is, have they failed to get many big titles? Why no killer, exclusive apps, except the closely held "Google experience" ones (e.g. Gmail, Google Talk)? We already know about why there's no Netflix (poor security, fragmentation).

Of course we know the answer: Microsoft puts a lot of emphasis on courting developers, even throwing money at them to cover the cost of development. Sure it's brash, perhaps uncouth but it works. Remember, this about the ends (consumer experience) not so much the means (save it for you business ethics class). Fact is, at this pace, Microsoft and Windows Phone 7 will have more quality big-name offerings than Android, who's big sellers instead tend to be ones that modify or fix the OS.

Sounds a lot like our old Windows Mobile, aka the past.

So yes, Apple, we'll take your ports and exclusives and any apps that make your platform "unique"--you'll loose that  and a reason for people to choose your product over Windows Phone 7.

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Just as expected, the Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac users is now available for download. Though only in beta, it should at least allow those users to "Sync music, photos, videos and podcasts from your existing iTunes and iPhoto libraries to your Windows Phone 7".

While not a full Zune Desktop alternative, it's a start for those heavy iTune users. You can grab the beta right here.

Source: Microsoft; via PhoneScoop

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