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In what is becoming almost routine (see INQ), another OEM has come out and said that the Google-Motorola deal works out better for Microsoft than Google's Android. This time it was Walter Deppeler, president of Acer's operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa. At the Berlin IFA consumer conference on Friday, he was quoted by Reuters as saying "It was a good gift to Microsoft", that Google "work against some of their clients" and finally that Acer would consider the implications of the deal before committing further to an OS.

Acer, who makes low to mid-range handsets, especially in important emerging markets, has recently started using Android in 2010 and is now actively developing Windows Phone devices (see the W4). While their phones won't compete in the U.S. or Europe, they are expected to be important players in Asian markets in the future. Either way, it's telling to hear OEMs publicly state what is becoming more obvious: this Google-Motorola deal and their continued legal quagmires are not helping to boost OEM confidence in Android.

Source: Yahoo Finance

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One thing that is lacking on Microsoft's Windows Phone is some solid Google apps. Sure we have IM+, but not everyone is in love with that IM system nor the price. Gchat, which supports Google Talk and only Google Talk, is now available in the Marketplace for Mango enabled phones. And our first impression? It's pretty awesome. Here's why:

  • Push notifications for messages
  • Pinning any of your contacts as a secondary tile, with independent unread message count.
  • Off-the-record conversations, with special and delicate handling.

It's looks to be fast (app is

The app is free and looks to be ad free, so if you have a Mango phone and need Google Talk, you'll want to give it a shot as this looks very promising. Grab it here in the Marketplace.

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A lot has been discussed about what the Google-Motorola deal means to the smaller Android OEMs on the market. Om Malik of GigaOm has noted that several "mobile industry insiders" have expressed concern over the deal and relying too heavily on Google for Android. Now, one small handset maker, INQ who came up with the Skype and Facebook phone, is taking a serious look at Windows Phone 7 and saying so publicly. The owner of INQ Hutchison Whampoa, went on record saying:

“We see a number of major vendors very seriously considering Windows Mobile as a core platform and therefore we are following their lead and examining it as well to complement our work in Android to date...The advantages with Windows Mobile is that the legal issues and resulting costs seem to be much less." (Note: he uses "Windows Mobile" here accidentally)

He notes that due to Android's success, it has become a big target for litigation and perhaps if Windows Phone were that big, the same thing could happen. (While a possibility, we'd suggest that Microsoft is in much better shape with IP and patents than Google.) Finally, after discussing Windows Phone he knocks Motorola down a notch stating

“It is telling that the Motorola Board decided that they could get more value out of 15-20 year old patents rather than use their huge R&D to create new exciting technologies over the next 10 years which is what Motorola used to do very well.”

While INQ is hardly a major player in the field, seeing as the owner of the company, Whampoa also owns the 3G mobile network "3", so they could be a big deal in the future. What can we say other than we like where this is all going for Windows Phone?

Source: GigaOm

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As we know, just about everyone in the smartphone industry is suing everyone else. Microsoft is suing Motorola (which has been bought by Google) over patent issues involving Motorola's Android phones. Google stepped in last week and filed a motion to block Microsoft's Android Expert, Mr. Robert Stevenson, from testifying. Google asserted the claim that Microsoft violated confidentiality agreements and disclosed source codes to Mr. Stevenson.  Source codes on an operating system everyone thought was open sourced.

The U.S. International Trade Commission Judge handed down his ruling on Google's motion and Google got the short end of the stick.  However, the ruling may have opened the door for more litigation.

Judge Theodore Essex denied the motion stating that only parties in a complaint are allowed to move for sanctions. The Judge wrote,

"Google has not set forth any legal support for the proposition that a non-party may move for sanctions."

So the expert witness can testify and the wheels of justice can continue to grind.  Still there are two things to watch with this case.

First, will Google file a seperate claim against Microsoft so they can become a "party" and seek sanctions against Microsoft?

Second, if it is ruled that Motorola has infringed on Microsoft patents and Google's Android hardware partners have to pay royalties to Microsoft, would the $12.5 billion deal have been a bust?

source: Computerworld

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While the long term impact of Google's acquisition of Motorola (Googarola?) is still anyone's guess, one short term effect appears be to Microsoft and Nokia's benefit. Microsoft's stock rose 1.63% (up .41 points) and Nokia's stock rose 17.35% (up .93 points) in today's trading activity.

In comparison, Google's stock fell 1.16% (6.54 points) while Motorola Mobility's stock made the biggest jump at 55.78% (up 13.65 points).  We're pretty sure the jump with Motorola was due to the 63% premium Google paid for them but it is a little surprising to see Google sag. In addition, it's now been disclosed that Google has agreed to pay Motorola Mobility $2.5 billion if the deal doesn't go through, a figure that is six times the average according to Bloomberg.

Granted none of this could have a thing to do with the $12.5 Billion deal and the stock market these days may not be the best litmus test.  As crazy as Wall Street has been lately, tomorrow we may see completely opposite results. 

Still, it's nice to see Microsoft and Nokia stocks doing well.

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According to a Gigaom "exclusive," Motorola Mobility was in talks with Microsoft, as well as other parties, to discuss acquisition.  Their sources tell them that Microsoft was primarily interested in Motorola's 17,000 patents and 7,500 patent applications, which would have have become a WMD of sorts against Google.  Acting in self-defense, Google moved about 5 weeks ago, opening talks of their own with MM, which included CEO Larry Page and Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha, though more recently, Android co-founder Andy Rubin was brought into the mix.  Allegedly, Motorola preferred a deal with Google because Microsoft was only in it for the patents, and no the hardware manufacturing.  The result, Google's $12.5 billion payout or a 63% premium over previous stock estimates of Moto. Good deal?

If these claims are accurate, it is the next giant step in a patent war that's been brewing between Google and Microsoft for a while now.  It is also a possible sign of the decline of Android and the rise of Windows Phone 7.  Google now owns one of the many companies that use its Android platform, and has become a competitor to itself.  Google's new position as a player in the manufacturing game could drive other companies away from Android and into the arms of another operating system, say, perhaps Windows Phone.  Throw Microsoft's deal with Nokia, and now you have what could be a huge boost for WP7.

While this has the potential to be exciting for those of us who would like to see Windows Phone flourish, the situation is, sadly, one more example of how patents are being used to crush competition, rather than to bolster innovation. 

Source: Gigaom

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Just as we were lamenting Motorola Mobility's position on using Windows Phone (and their stock situation), Google comes out of nowhere and buys them up out for $12.5 billion. From the press release they mention how they want to "...supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open."

Although Motorola is a dedicated manufacturer of Android devices, they also happen to have something that Google really wants--namely a large patent portfolio. Remember, Moto for all intents and purposes invented the cell phone back in the day resulting in a large arsenal of patents that Google can finally wield in defense of Android (seeing as that OS is evidently build on stolen IP). That's something that they will have to do a lot of as Microsoft is currently suing Motorola Mobility over patent infringement, meaning now they are suing Google over the same issue. That court case should get interesting, to say the least.

Google's Andy Rubin states that they remain committed to still working with other partners, although this obviously puts HTC in an odd position--they're not Microsoft's exclusive partner anymore and neither are they Google's. Various OEM partners have publicly come out in support of the deal, notably LG, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson even HTC paying lip-service with the same paraphrase of "We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.” although you wonder what they have to be saying privately about the deal.

The big question is what does this actually mean? Too early to tell though clearly Google is stepping up things against Apple and to a lesser extent Microsoft. Apple already has the hardware thing down and Microsoft now has Nokia in their corner. As to our thoughts? We'll gladly take our Nokia deal over Motorola any day.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Official Google Blog; via AndroidCentral 1, 2

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Sorry folks, we don't have too much to go on here just yet, but we have received numerous tips from readers like yourself that the Official YouTube app from Microsoft is no longer available in the Marketplace in some areas. This seems to have started a few days ago.

This does not apply to the U.S. market but does apply to some in Europe (all?) and at least Singapore too. Could this have to do with Microsoft filing a complaint against Google via the European Union? If you recall, last March Microsoft's Brad Smith blogged about Google's unfair search practices and how they were restricting YouTube, resulting in a sub-par user experience on Windows Phone:

"Unfortunately, Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do. As a result, Microsoft’s YouTube “app” on Windows Phones is basically just a browser displaying YouTube’s mobile Web site, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones. Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide."

Our bet? These two are definitely linked. We'll try to find out more, but in the meantime, lets do a roll-call in comments of countries affected. Austria? Check. Belgium?...

Thanks, Marcus H. and Borutes, for the heads up!

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Google doesn't seem to want to get along at all with Microsoft these days. We had the issue about the patent sale that Google took to the Court of Public Opinion.  Now they are taking issue with Microsoft in another Court.  Google is asking a US International Trade Commission Judge to bar a Microsoft expert witness from testifying in Microsoft's lawsuit against Motorola.

If you have lost track of who's suing who or complaining on whom, Microsoft is currently suing Motorola in an attempt to force them to pay royalties for patents Microsoft owns that are related to technology used in Android mobile operating systems.

In the motion to block the expert witness testimony, Google claims Microsoft violated a confidentiality agreement between Microsoft, Google, and Motorola when Microsoft shared "highly confidential source codes" with its expert witness. Google's motion states in part,

“The protective order governing confidentiality in this investigation explicitly requires that Microsoft disclose to Google any consultant or expert seeking access to Google confidential business information or highly confidential source code before [Google's emphasis] allowing a consultant or expert to review such information so that Google has an opportunity to object prior to disclosure.”

The sixteen page motion asks the Judge to prohibit the expert witness from testifying and require Microsoft to provide Google with a declaration, under oath, that no additional consultants or experts were permitted access to the confidential information.

Microsoft has until August 15th to respond to Google's motion. Wouldn't it be a hoot if Microsoft produced an email from Google voicing no objection to disclosing this information?  We also must ask how confidential can source code be when the Android system is supposedly open source?

Source: Yahoo News

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We're almost over this whole Google/Microsoft catfight that's been happening. Almost. While good theater, it's not really solving any problems nor addressing them and it makes both companies look bad. Of course we'll start the blame with Google, who's original missive was more PR than anything and most agree, poorly planned.

Last night, Microsoft seemingly pulled the rug from underneath Google by noting they offered the search company a role in the Novell patent purchase. Google turned them down and didn't bother revealing any of this info in the original post, which was deceptive at best.

We'll save the rest for the break...

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Earlier this evening we wrote in an acerbic tone how Google was complaining about being bullied by other companies over patents. Specifically, they pointed to the 6,000 Nortel patents that were up for bid and ended up going to a consortium of buyers, including Apple and Microsoft for $4.5 billion. Google was the only one left out of the consortium, they cried foul and now are excited about the Department of Justice getting involved.

In comments, we noted that Google should expect some people to hit back. After all, that post by Google's Chief Law Officer did not advocate patent reform, propose any new legislation or offer any solutions--it just complained that they were being targeted and that these software patents were "bogus" (this from the company that is entirely built on software patents).

Now Microsoft's General Counsel, Brad Smith, chimed in with an interesting comment on Twitter:

"Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no."

That sounds a bit different than how Google portrayed themselves in their blog post. One could suggest that Smith is not being entirely truthful here, but it seems odd that he would put himself out there with something that could easily be proved false in court.

So what's the deal Google? Are you serious about patent reform or are you seeking opportunism?

Update: Here's a copy of the email to Brad Smith of MSFT from Kent Walker, Google's General Counsel. In short, it supposedly shows Google denying an offer to participate in the consortium. 

Source: Twitter; via Electronista; Thanks, Rene Ritchie

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A few weeks ago, Google was involved in bidding for 6,000 patents being offered by Nortel, which many thought if Google should win, would beef up their defense against patent litigation. Instead, they lost to a consortium of Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, EMC and Ericsson for $4.5 billion. Basically everyone won except Google. At the time this story was spun two ways:

  1. Nortel's patent were old, outdated and not worth the money for Google
  2. Google wasn't taking it seriously, with Reuters calling their behavior "mystifying" because their bids reflected famous mathematical constants (Brun's, Meissel-Mertens and Pi). Yes, Google actually bid Pi ($3.14159 billion). So in an attempt to be cute and witty, they lost.

After all the gnashing of teeth by tech analysts, who kept pounding Google on their lack of patent strategy, Google has come out with some name calling and accusations of their own:

"But Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.

They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it."

That's David Drummond, Senior VP and CLO of Google, who can't even get that's its called Windows Phone, not Mobile. Further, he notes the reported Justice Department's probe into whether or not that Nortel consortium was fair. Of course, such a probe is a far way off from meaning those companies are guilty of anything. In fact, nothing has been settled in regards to whether or not Android violates patents, uses lifted code, etc.

In the case of Microsoft, who's leaned on HTC and now Samsung for patent fees, both companies are willing to play ball either because they feel those patent claims are indefensible or, more likely, that's it's cheaper to license to Microsoft than defend in court. But hey, it's not like Google/YouTube don't screw with Microsoft either.

In the end, we don't have anything new here except that Google is really starting to feel the pain from other companies, hence the 'boo hoo, tech is hard!' post from Drummond. Is Microsoft's, Apple's and others behavior legal, moral and right? That's for the courts to decide, not missives from company blogs.

Edit: Recommended reading: FossPatent's "Google's new anti-patent stance has four credibility issues -- but not the one many people think"

Source: The Official Google Blog

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If you've ever attended a Microsoft conference/event, you'll know that they have a pretty good sense of humor, often demonstrated in video form.

This was no different from the Microsoft Global Exchange conference, held only last week. The video is meant to parody how Google's Gmail "rifles through your email", a not so subtle remark on Google's advertising business which shows targeted ads in your browser based on "keywords" in your email.

For those concerned with privacy, Google's whole ecosystem is ripe for criticism. If anything, this video should get folks talking a bit about such matters. At the very least, it's pretty freakin' funny.

Source: All About Microsoft/ZDNet

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We're not shy about calling out Google and more specifically Android on their terrible UI--it lacks coherence, style and underlying philosophy of what it should be. It looks like it was designed by computer nerds and not, well, designers. In that sense, it's nice to see Google overhauling their Android Market which always looked like it was beaten with an ugly stick.

Still, we've received quite a few emails noting that their new Marketplace seems to take some liberties with Windows Phone's Metro UI: text based, no chrome, pivot controls, etc. We're not prepared to say that Google sought to make a copy-cat UI here, but it is clear that they are moving in a more minimalist, text-driven direction that seems to becoming popular these days. It's not as bad as their ad that completely ripped off a few weeks ago, but it does show that they're taking their cues from Metro or at the very least, they know they have a UI problem and need to spice things up a bit.

For years people said that the incremental changes to Windows Mobile was just "lipstick on a pig". Well, here's looking at you, Android.

Source: Google; via Android Central; Thanks, Carlos, dtboos and others

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Should you have multiple Google calendars set up and used frequently you'll smacking your head against a brick wall when it comes to adding them in Windows Phone 7. Luckily, with Mango, Anthony Chu (lead developer of Wonder Reader for WP7) has posted a tutorial on how to enable multiple Google calendars. It's actually really simple and takes no more than five minutes (unlike attempting to use other Google services).

Requirements for this are as follows:

  • WP7 device running Mango
  • More than one Google calendar set up
  • Safari (for Windows/OS X) 

With the above requirements met, what we need to do is get to the section on the Google website where you can select which calendars to synchronise with devices that are connected to your account. By default, this seems only viewable to iOS devices and presumably Android handsets. We need to change our user agent in our browser to fool Google into believing we're Safari on iOS.

In the walkthrough below, Anthony uses Safari as it has built-in ability to manipulate the user agent easily and quickly. Any desktop browser will do so long as you can alter the UA. Head on past the break to view the steps. 

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The search giant is pushing forward with its latest social media product (anyone remember the rise and sudden fall of Buzz?) called Google+ and beta testing has been well underway with invites being rolled out. TechRadar reports that Google has confirmed that an iOS app will be hitting the App Store in the closing future which will feature native support. Question is, will they support Windows Phone 7?

Google+ is seen as the potential Facebook Killer and has a lot of hype to live up to according to the social media sphere. Since we already have Facebook and soon-to-be Twitter integration, I think Google+ could be a worthwhile addition. If we look at the current Google presence on WP7, it's nothing to be proud of. Users of docs, calendar, GMail, GTalk and other services have to switch between apps and there's no fluidity.

Google+ could become a hub of sorts, which could include all the social features which is present on the web version (chat, video conferencing, messaging etc.) while bringing in other Google services into one location. Then again, we do have Skype coming and WP7 is a very social integrated OS already. Would we really need another social network?

Via: TechRadar

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A few days ago we reported on the KLM-Metro connection (yes, evidently we had it backwards, KLM has had that style for "years", forgive us, we don't fly Dutch). Regardless, it seems Google is liking this whole Tile/Metro approach to design as well (see the Windows 8 UI demo).

Last month, Google held their famous IO conference, where all-things-Google happens, including Android news. They have the "sessions" page up, where you can go watch all the keynotes and talks that went on during the meeting, which is similar to Microsoft's MIX.

Or how about this below, which looks like flat-out copying to us. The one of the left is from Microsoft's WP7 page, the right, Google Wallet. (Thanks, Spindel, in comments):

Now, this is all probably old news to some, but darn it those tiles and UI design look a little familiar. Then again, this too has probably been around forever and we're just becoming aware of aesthetic design in general, seeing tiles everywhere. All we know is we can't wait till Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Xbox 360 all have this same UI design, t'is gonna be beautiful.

And Google? It's a good look for you. Heaven knows you need all the UI help you can get.

Source: Google IO; Thanks, Abhishek, for bringing this to our attention!

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We all know how...unimpressive...the "native" YouTube app is on Windows Phone 7--it's basically just a browser for the site and pales in comparison to Android and even the iPhone. Why that is has always bothered users, but it looks like we may have an answer, or at least one-side of it.

In a blog post by Brad Smith, Senior Vice President & General Counsel at Microsoft, he blames Google directly for the Windows Phone situation. There's no if's and's or but's about it, according to Smith ergo Microsoft:

...in 2010 and again more recently, Google blocked Microsoft’s new Windows Phones from operating properly with YouTube. Google has enabled its own Android phones to access YouTube so that users can search for video categories, find favorites, see ratings, and so forth in the rich user interfaces offered by those phones. It’s done the same thing for the iPhones offered by Apple, which doesn’t offer a competing search service.

Unfortunately, Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do. As a result, Microsoft’s YouTube “app” on Windows Phones is basically just a browser displaying YouTube’s mobile Web site, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones. Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.

Microsoft, in response, is ready to fight against Google, ironically in Europe:

Microsoft is filing a formal complaint with the European Commission as part of the Commission’s ongoing investigation into whether Google has violated European competition law. We thought it important to be transparent and provide some information on what we’re doing and why.

This raises all sorts of questions for us, non-legal types who don't understand everything going on behind the scenes, for instance why can HTC and 3rd-parties create superior apps but Microsoft cannot? For example, SuperTube is quite impressive and adds all sorts of advanced features, including streaming in HD and saving files. Then again, in a personal note from developer Atta Elayyan, involved with LazyTube (which just hit 2.0), SuperTube evidently violates several of YouTube's Terms of Service, but Microsoft seems to have looked the other way during the app's Marketplace approval (get out tinfoil hats...now).

Whatever the exact details, gauntlet meet ground, as Microsoft has just thrown down some serious charges against Google. This could get interesting...

Source: Microsoft on the Issues; via I Love Windows Phone!

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Google releases AdMob WP7 SDK Beta

Yesterday Google released AdMob Windows Phone SDK Beta for download.  The SDK, which includes HTML5 support, allows developers to "easily integrate advertising into their applications, control where the ads appear, and what types of ads are shown in their apps."  Text and banner ads can be linked to websites or directly to the Marketplace.  The SDK maintains the same look and feel as WP7 and allow users to click on an ad, then smoothly return to their current application.

AdMob WP7 SDK can be downloaded by current AdMob members by logging into their account and adding the Windows Phone 7 site type.  Google has also updated their iOS and Android SDKs to include new features, such as enhanced HTML5 support.

Source: Google Mobile Ads Blog

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