MacOS KenDensed: Samsung Isn’t Cool & Everyone Wants a Little iPad

Man on a Mission: Ken RaySamsung managed to win and lose in the same patent infringement ruling, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer set himself up for some ridicule down the road, Apple’s facing an new patent infringement lawsuit, everyone thinks there’s a little iPad on the way, and it turns out pole dancing and guns both have a place on kid’s iPhones. No surprise: Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray has some thoughts on all of those topics.

Samsung’s Backhanded Victory
It may be a case of adding insult to victory. Bloomberg says Samsung has won in a case brought against it by Apple in the United Kingdom. The UK is one of many places where Apple is suing — or has sued — Samsung for copying the look and feel of the iPad and the iPhone for its Galaxy lines of devices.

But Judge Colin Birss ruled this week that Samsung did not infringe Apple’s look and feel patents. It may not be that they didn’t try, but they didn’t do that well.

According to his honor, the Galaxy Tabs “do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design … They are not as cool.”

Apple has 21 days to appeal to ruling, but how do they do that?

I mean, you could argue that they tried to copy and are just really bad at it. Or you could argue that they are just as cool as iThings and need to be stopped, but then you’ve got lawyers for Apple talking about how cool Samstuff is.

Still. They’re lawyers. I’d imagine they’ll find a way.

On Ballmer & Leaning into Curve Balls
It is possible, not certain, but possible that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made statements this week that he will never live down.

He talked smack about Apple.

The Mac Observer has Ballmer telling CRN that he is going after the Cupertino-company in no uncertain terms. “We are trying to make absolutely clear,” said Ballmer, “we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple … We are not. No space uncovered that is Apple’s.”

Think he’s bringing back the Zune?

Microsoft is far from done. They own the desktop. They’ve got a neat thing going with the Xbox. But they can’t get out of their own way in the mobile space, where Apple keeps cleaning up.

The iPhone makes more money for Apple than everything Microsoft makes makes for Microsoft. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was pretty much the original tablet computing evangelist — not counting the movie 2001 — and yet it’s Apple that found the winning formula to basically create and own the tablet market over the past two-and-a-half years.

Of course, Microsoft fires back on all of those fronts later this year with Windows 8, which will run on traditional PCs and tablets: Windows RT, which will run on ARM-based tablets, Microsoft Surface, which is Microsoft’s own tablet offering, and Windows Phone 8, which will play nice with Windows 8 and Windows RT — assuming people glom to Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Does Microsoft have a chance? Sure. It would be foolish to say they don’t… as foolish as it would have been five or six years ago to say “Apple has no chance in smartphones.”

But it does appear that Apple has crawled up a part of Ballmer’s person in a rather uncomfortable way with the CEO reiterating his position, “We are not going to let any piece of this [go uncontested to Apple] … Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch.”

It is possible, not certain, but possible that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made statements this week that he will never live down.

Can You Hear My Lawsuit Now?
Apple’s got another lawsuit with which to contend. PC World says Noise Free Wireless, a small Silicon Valley company, is suing one of Silicon Valley’s largest for alleged patent infringement covering noise-reduction technology for cellphones.

Hence the Noise Free Wireless name.

Apparently not a patent troll, Noise Free says it actually presented its technology to Apple at Apple’s headquarters several times starting in 2007, and that it gave the all-things-iMaker detailed technical information… right before Apple filed its own patent for a similar technology, which — Noise Free says — has turned up in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and all three models of the iPad.

The patent, awarded to Noise Free in 2010, covers “a method for reducing or canceling environmental noise, such as wind, from a voice transmission on a cell phone.”

Noise Free accuses Apple of not only reverse engineering its technology, but turning that technology over to a competitor for implementation. The company is “asking the US District Court for the Northern District of California to find Apple misappropriated trade secrets, breached contract, and engaged in unfair business practices.”

It’s seeking damages for the alleged patent infringement, and to have Apple’s patent declared invalid.

No comment from Apple nor from Noise Free for the PC World piece.

On Again, Off Again: Samsung Bans
Remember when the Catholic Church got rid of limbo? The Federal courts, it seems, have brought it back.

The Verge says “the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit just suspended the ban on Galaxy Nexus sales at Samsung’s request, pending a formal response from Apple.”

That is, until Apple responds, sales can proceed. But if Apple’s response is convincing, the court may reinstate the ban for the duration of the Apple v Samsung case in the states.

“If you’re keeping track,” notes The Verge, “that’s a temporary stay of a temporary injunction,” which sounds like something between limbo and the beginning of a warp in the fabric of space and time.

Or it may just be a waste of time. Google has pulled the Galaxy Nexus from its Play store, though the search-giant says it’ll have the phone back on sale this week running Android 4.1, AKA Jelly Bean, with a software workaround for the patent that got it temporarily banned/unbanned.

Thinking Small. Or Big: iPad mini
Apple’s financial stalker is kicking around the idea of the iPad mini. AppleInsider has Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White saying a less expensive, 7-to-8-inch iPad could eventually outsell the traditional 10-inch iPad.

It’s not that it’ll wreck sales of the current iPad. He figures only about 20 percent of normal iPad sales would be lost to its little brother.

But, throwing in growth trends in developing markets like China, an “iPad mini” at $300 or less could have a big impact and could outsell the bigger tablets. He also sees the smaller device as a natch for education with its smaller-for-younger-kids-form-factor and its lower cost as potential attractions. And, finally, there are the people who will double up.

Quoting his note,

We would not be surprised if certain customers end up owning both a regular-sized iPad and an ‘iPad Mini,’ swapping between the two devices for different occasions. With the introduction of iCloud, the content on the two iPads can be automatically duplicated [making it] easier to swap between Apple devices.

And, he says, even at $300 he doesn’t think an iPad mini would have any problem drawing potential buyers away from $200, 7-inch tablets that are already on the market.

That iPad mini that may or may not happen has everybody excited.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is saying if Apple does introduce an iPad mini, and if they can bring it in at $299 or less for a 16-gigabyte model, then they could sell as many as 6 million this holiday season and syphon off 30 percent of the sales that would otherwise have gone to Android tablets.

He does say that Apple would lose 10 percent of traditional iPad sales to the smaller device as well, but Apple losing sales to Apple would probably not upset Apple that much.

Quoting his note: “We believe this implies that Apple could sell 4-6 million smaller iPads in the December quarter, assuming a holiday launch. If the launch occurs in [the fourth quarter], we believe the smaller iPad would add about 1 percent to revenue and [earnings per share] in December.”

Also, he expects a new iPhone, and also also: he expects a refresh of the Apple TV set-top box, though apparently not the full on Apple TV. Still makes for what he calls a “crowded event.”

T-Mobile’s Turn with the iPhone
One thing that always seems to help the iPhone is a new carrier or two, and there’s at least one more big carrier looking for an iPhone in the states. Forbes has Bernstein Research analyst Robin Bienenstock saying 2013 looks like the year for the iPhone to finally land on T-Mobile USA.

Why does he like the idea? According to the piece, it would pressure Verizon, Sprint and AT&T to sustain “higher and more frequent subsidies.”

It would increase U.S. iPhone sales by an estimated 2-4 million incremental phones per year, adding 50 cents to $1 in EPS for Apple, and it could divert the company from pursuing its planned Bring Your Own Device strategy. See, T-Mobile has indicated that if it doesn’t get an iPhone of its own, it’ll do what it can to make people bringing their own iPhones to its network worth it.

In Bienenstock’s view, it’d be a win for Apple, a win for T-Mobile, and a big bowl of bad news for Sprint. Quoting his note:

A T-Mobile iPhone would pressure subsidies and service prices at a time when Sprint’s 4G network is ill-prepared for a 4G iPhone, and the added competition could cost Sprint precious volumes at a time when they are already running significantly short of their annualized volume commitments to Apple.

Though if it’s any consolation to Sprint, the analyst says “Verizon and AT&T would be net losers [if such a deal happened], as well.”

There’s an App for that, Kid
And finally this week, I’ve always found it odd how strict Apple can be in banning apps that seem even remotely sexual in nature for all ages, while approving apps involving fighting and snipers for ages 12 and up, often times for ages 9 and up. I think what I thought was they might raise the ages for violent apps, not approve a pole dancing app for 12 year olds.

Silly me.

Macworld UK says some parents are outraged, and I can’t say as I blame them. Though, since I don’t have kids of my own, I also can’t say I don’t find it funny. Cuz I kind of do.

“Pole Dancer Pro for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch was released in June,” says the piece, “and is described by the developers as an app that can transform its users into a ‘lap dancing sexpot,’ and inject ‘a new lease of life into bedroom fantasies,’ through lessons from pole dance instructor Jessica Jackson.”

Leading the charge against the app, Jo Squires, director of children’s charity BIG Ministries. She’s looking to have the app banned — which is wrong — though I would up the age a bit. If it were me.

“I’m all for encouraging new ways of helping people to get fit,” says Squires. “But do we really want to create a generation of children who are fully equipped in, what the app describes as, the art of tease, erotic moves and seductive eye contact?”

The answer is “no.”

Just raise the appropriate age rating. And let the kids get back to pretend shooting people.