Apple and Microsoft are playing dirty, according to a new blog post by Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond. Instead of attempting to build innovative products and features, Drummond says Apple and Microsoft are content with filing repeated patent complaints in an attempt to impede Android’s rapid growth. Apple, Microsoft and others are carrying out “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents,” Drummond wrote in his post. “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 suingBarnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.” Drummond goes on to write that Google intends to support its partners who are being targeted by these patent complaints. “In this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we’re determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it,” Drummond stated. More →
Minnesota Senator Al Franken sent a letter to the heads of the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice earlier this week, stating that AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA was not in the best interest of the American public. “The competitive effects of a merger of this size and scope will reverberate throughout the telecommunications sector for decades to come and will affect consumer prices, customer service, innovation, competition in handsets and the quality and quantity of network coverage. These threats are too large and too irrevocable to be prevented or alleviated by conditions,” Franken wrote. The Minnesota democrat also said that the deal could cost thousands of Americans their jobs. T-Mobile issued a statement in response to Franken’s note late on Tuesday, stating plainly that Franken’s assessment of the deal is wrong. “While we respect Senator Franken, his analysis of our pending transaction is just wrong,” T-Mobile said in a note to the press. “The combination of T-Mobile and AT&T should be approved because it will deliver what consumers are looking for in the age of smart phones, tablets and mobile internet – speed, service quality and reduced costs. As is documented in our government filings, the combination of our two networks creates significant efficiencies that will trigger strong benefits for consumers. We are confident that a thorough review of the record will demonstrate the transaction advances the public interest.”
Global hacker collective “Anonymous Operations” together with “Lulz Security” on Thursday issued a statement to the FBI and other international authorities. The release is a response to statements made by FBI Director Steve Chabinsky tied to the recent arrest of 14 individuals with suspected ties to the hacker group. “We want to send a message that chaos on the Internet is unacceptable, Chabinsky told NPR in a recent interview. “[Even if] hackers can be believed to have social causes, it’s entirely unacceptable to break into websites and commit unlawful acts.” Anonymous did not mince words in its response. “These governments and corporations are our enemy. And we will continue to fight them, with all methods we have at our disposal, and that certainly includes breaking into their websites and exposing their lies,” an unnamed Anonymous representative said in a statement. “We are not scared any more. Your threats to arrest us are meaningless tous as you cannot arrest an idea. Any attempt to do so will make your citizens more angry until they will roar in one gigantic choir. It is our mission to help these people and there is nothing – absolutely nothing – you can possibly to do make us stop.” Anonymous’ full statement follows below. More →
Earlier on Wednesday, the Senate Subcommittee chairman Senator Herb Kohl urged federal regulators to block AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. On Wednesday afternoon, AT&T responded to Senator Kohl’s recommendation with the following statement:
We respect Senator Kohl. However, we feel his view is inconsistent with antitrust law, is shared by few others, and ignores the many positive benefits and numerous supporters of the transaction. This is a decision that will be made by the Department of Justice and the FCC under applicable law and after a full and fair examination of the facts. We continue to believe those reviews will result in approval of this transaction.
Despite opposition from Kohl and others, AT&T said that there are currently 26 governors, 76 democratic members of congress, 72 mayors, and unions that represent 20 million members that are in favor of the merger and argue that it will be good for consumers, provide jobs, and help the economy. In addition, Senator Mike Lee also made a statement today in support of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. “The mobile phone market is a critical component of our nation’s economy and the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile deserves careful review,” Lee said. “In my view, the merger has the potential to provide significant network efficiencies that may help alleviate capacity constraints, enable enhanced service quality, and facilitate expansion of a 4G LTE nationwide network, which would in turn create opportunities for handset innovation and continued development of data-rich applications.” Lee also said that he’s confident the FCC and Department of Justice will ensure that the U.S. wireless market remains competitive. More →
RIM on Thursday released its response to an open letter published exclusively by BGR. The letter, which was written by a senior RIM executive, pleads with the company’s upper management to make some drastic changes if it is to regain the mind share and market share it has lost in recent years. After questioning the authenticity of the letter — and we assure you, it is indeed genuine and its author has been vetted — RIM said the company is “fully aware of and aggressively addressing both the company’s challenges and its opportunities.” The response goes on to take an extremely defensive stance, listing various reasons that RIM is still in a strong position. The company also says its management is taking its current challenges seriously during this transitional period. “The company is thankfully in a solid business and financial position to tackle the opportunities ahead with a solid balance sheet (nearly $3 billion in cash and no debt), strong profitability (RIM’s net income last quarter was $695 million) and substantial international growth (international revenue in Q1 grew 67% over the same quarter last year). In fact, while growth has slowed in the US, RIM still shipped 13.2 million BlackBerry smartphones last quarter (which is about 100 smartphones per minute, 24 hours per day) and RIM is more committed than ever to serving its loyal customers and partners around the world,” the response concludes. RIM’s statement can be read below in its entirety.
In a quick statement just published on HTC’s Facebook page, HTC CEO Peter Chou said:
“There has been overwhelmingly customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones. I want you to know that we’ve listened. Today, I’m confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices. Thanks for your passion, support and patience,” Peter Chou, CEO of HTC
For anyone out there that roots their devices to customize them, this is probably the best news you can get. Well, or stock Android devices from the beginning, we guess. More →
RIM just reached out to us with a statement regarding our post from this morning in which we reported that a big box retailer provided us with information surrounding BlackBerry PlayBook sales and returns. RIM’s response is as follows:
The source of the reported comment is anonymous and unknown to RIM, but the comment is certainly inconsistent with the positive feedback we have received from our main retail partners. As previously indicated, RIM will provide a business update on BlackBerry PlayBook results on June 16.
For reference, here is a public statement recently offered by Best Buy:
“Best Buy has had great success selling BlackBerry smartphones in North America, so our sales expectations for the BlackBerry PlayBook were very high. To date, we have far exceeded those expectations and we’re finding that customers are even more interested in purchasing once they’ve tested the PlayBook in the store.”
While we appreciate RIM’s comment and we have no doubt that PlayBook sales at Best Buy have exceeded expectations, we stand by our source and our story from earlier today.
Well that didn’t take long. Yesterday, we told you about an Android vulnerability found in ClientLogin that could have serious security ramifications. Using a dummy open access-point, a nefarious third party could passively — via Wi-Fi — collect authentication tokens to password protected services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Calendar stored on affected Android devices. Speaking with Mobilized’s Ina Fried, the Android-maker has stated that it is taking action, and fast. “Today we’re starting to roll out a fix which addresses a potential security flaw that could, under certain circumstances, allow a third party access to data available in calendar and contacts,” Google told the publication. “This fix requires no action from users and will roll out globally over the next few days.” The vulnerability will still be present in the company’s Picasa online photo offering, but Google stated that it is working to patch that service as well.
RIM on Monday confirmed that it has issued a recall for approximately 1,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. “RIM determined that approximately one thousand BlackBerry PlayBook tablets (16 GB) were shipped with an OS build that may result in the devices being unable to properly load software upon initial set-up,” the company said in a statement. “The majority of the affected devices are still in the distribution channel and haven’t reached customers. RIM is working to replace the affected devices. In the small number of cases where a customer received a PlayBook that is unable to properly load software upon initial set-up, they can contact RIM for assistance.” Shortly after the PlayBook was released, a BGR reader contacted us to report problems with his PlayBook. The device, which was purchased on launch day, would not boot. Instead, it would just flicker and flash randomly while the power button was depressed and then power down when the button was released. It is unclear if this is the same issue that resulted in RIM’s PlayBook recall, but RIM’s description of the devices’ inability to boot on initial setup matched our reader’s description last month. Hit the break for a video of the BGR reader’s PlayBook. More →
A Verizon Wireless spokesperson has shed some light on the fate of the HTC Merge — an Android 2.2 handset first discovered last September. The device, which was officially announced by HTC in February, has fallen in and out of obscurity for months. Now, according to the latest report, users may finally get a chance to purchase the handset. Speaking with blog Phone Scoop, a Verizon representative explained, “The HTC Merge was approved for use on the Verizon Wireless network and is being sold by third party distributors, but not in Verizon Wireless stores.” The full-QWERTY smartphone also contains a SIM card slot — for use overseas — making it one of Verizon’s “world phones.” The company did not indicate if the handset would eventually make its way to Verizon’s retail outlets. More →
Foxconn on Monday issued a formal response to reports from last week claiming the Chinese electronics manufacturer makes its employees sign a document promising they will not commit suicide or hold the company liable if they do. “Foxconn does not ask its employees to sign any such documents, any reports to the contrary are inaccurate,” a Foxconn spokesperson said in a statement. The company also denied overworking its laborers. “Foxconn takes our responsibility to our employees very seriously and we work hard to give our more than one million employees in China a safe and positive working environment and compensation and benefits that are competitive with all of our industry peers,” the spokesperson said. “In all cases, our basic wages are amongst the highest in our industry in each location and they are significantly higher than the government-directed minimum wage which is set based on a review of the cost of living in those locations.” The statement continued, “All overtime is voluntary and workers are not penalized should they choose not to work overtime.” Foxconn, which manufactures consumer electronics for a variety of companies including Apple, HP, Nokia and Dell, has been scrutinized repeatedly over the past few years following the suicides of at least 17 factory workers. More →
AT&T on Thursday issued a public response to Sprint’s recent attempt to thwart its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA by appealing to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia, which oversees public utilities and telcos in the state. While AT&T is busy trying to bring its upcoming 4G service to West Virginians, the carrier contends, Sprint is simply impeding its plans without having any intentions of its own to build a 4G network in the state. “AT&T is trying to bring the latest and fastest mobile Internet service to most of the citizens of West Virginia. Since Sprint is trying to stop that, we hope state officials will ask Sprint what its own plans are for bringing LTE speeds to the people of West Virginia,” said AT&T’s President of the Mid-Atlantic Region, J. Michael Schweder, in a statement. “We suspect Sprint either has no such plan, or that its own plans pale in comparison to AT&T’s. In either case, we’re confident West Virginians will see Sprint’s filing for what it is — a cynical effort to hurt a competitor, even if the ones truly hurt are the many people of West Virginia who would be denied the fast mobile Internet speeds they need and want.” Sprint indicated earlier this week that its appeal in West Virginia was the first of several state-level filings it will make across the country. Hit the break for AT&T’s full response. More →
In the company’s first-quarter earnings disclosure, Motorola Mobility finally put a number on XOOM tablet shipments: 250,000. “The Company shipped a total of 9.3 million mobile devices, including 4.1 million smartphones and more than 250,000 Motorola XOOM tablets,” reads the report. “In the first quarter of 2010, the Company shipped 8.5 million mobile devices, including 2.3 million smartphones.” Motorola Mobility also posted $3 billion in net revenues, up 22% year-over-year, with mobile device revenues of $2.1 billion, up 30% year-over-year. The company did post a GAAP net loss of $0.27 per share, however, which was down from a $0.72 share loss in the first-quarter of 2010. Motorola’s complete earnings statement is after the break. More →