You Got Something? Lenovo's Buying. Google Sells Motorola.

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 1, 2014 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, google

Lenovo has a few billion dollars to throw around, apparently. The company, typically known for consumer and enterprise PCs, just finished buying more food off of IBM's plate with the acquisition of their x86 server and mainframe business. That business was not as profitable for IBM compared to their rest of their portfolio. $2.3 billion, mostly in cash, was the better choice for them (albeit a reluctant one).

Another $2.9 billion yields them a lean subset of Motorola.

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Not Google, either.

Lenovo has been wanting a bigger share of the phone and tablet market. Unlike when Google purchased Motorola, Lenovo was not as concerned with owning the patent portfolio. $2.9 billion is a small fraction of $12.5 billion sum that Google valued Motorola at, but Lenovo only wanted about a tenth of the patents. That said, a tenth of the patents is still a couple thousand of them.

For the longest time, I have been thinking that Google was going the wrong route with Motorola. It seemed like any attempt to use the company as a cellphone manufacturer would either bleed money in failure or aggravate your biggest partners. I figured it would be best for Google to pivot Motorola into a research company which would create technologies to license to handset developers. This could be a significant stream of revenue and a love letter to their OEMs while retaining the patents they desired.

I did not think to spin off or sell the rest.

Ironically, that is very close to what we have today. Google, eventually, got rid of the cellphone division except for their licensed "Nexus" trademark. Google kept their patents and they kept the Motorola research team ("Motorola Advanced Technology and Patents Group").

It does not quite line up with my expectation, however; at least not yet. The Motorola research team would need to produce technology to license to partners and maybe other handset manufacturers; also, the time they spent with their toe in handset development bathwater could have already harmed their relationships, irreparably.

As for Lenovo, it seems like a clear win for the company. Motorola still has significant brand power and an open dialog with carriers worldwide at a cost of just a few billion. I do have questions how Lenovo will integrate the brand into their portfolio. Specifically, which company's name will be on each product? I expect it would have to be "Lenovo" but I also believe they have to put the Motorola trademark somewhere, right?

Anyway, who do you predict Lenovo to purchase next? Has the insanity ended?

Source: The Verge

Chrome might be less polite than you think

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2014 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome, snooping, mic

If you have never heard the phrase "Those who eavesdrop hear nothing good about themselves" you are in good company as Google Chrome has not either.  A developer by the name of Tal Ater has discovered that Chrome can enable your microphone when you view certain malicious websites without your knowledge.  According to Google's online documentation, when Chrome enables your microphone you should see both a blinking red light appear in the tab you are viewing and a persistent icon in the system tray.  Unfortunately when The Register saw a test, the site created a pop-under window which displayed the red light and was not visible until the other browsing session was closed or moved, nor was there a system tray icon.  Even more worrying, the initial specification called for recording to be disabled when the tab with access to the mic was not active but was never implemented.

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"A design flaw in the Chrome browser allows malicious websites to use your computer's microphone to eavesdrop on you, one developer has claimed, although Google denies this is the case."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Register

Google to Develop CPUs (For Themselves)?

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 15, 2013 - 04:27 AM |
Tagged: Intel, google, arm

Amazon, Facebook, and Google are three members of a fairly exclusive club. These three companies order custom server processors from Intel (and other companies). Jason Waxman of Intel was quoted by Wired, "Sometimes OEMs and end customers ask us to put a feature into the silicon and it sort of depends upon how big a deal it is and whether it has to be invisible or proprietary to a customer. We're always happy to, if we can find a way to get it into the silicon".

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Now, it would seem, that Google is interested in developing their own server processors based on architecture licensed from ARM. This could be a big deal for Intel as Bloomberg believes Google accounts for a whole 4.3% of the chip giant's revenue.

Ouch.

Of course this probably does not mean Google will spring up a fabrication lab somewhere. That would just be nutty. It is still unclear whether they will cut in ARM design houses, such as AMD or Qualcomm, or whether they will take ARM's design and run straight to TSMC, GlobalFoundries, or IBM with it.

I am sure there would be many takers for some sizable fraction of 4.3% of Intel's revenue.

Source: Bloomberg

Google's Omega may some day prioritize you

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2013 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: google, borg, omega, emergent

An interesting story over at The Register talks about Google's new Omega cluster management software which will replace the current Borg software in the near future.  The topic is one that many are likely familiar with from Science Fiction and biology; emergent behaviour in complex systems.  It seems that 10,000 servers Omega controls are displaying even more than Borg did, with opportunistic usage of resources for tasks based on priority, run time and the processing power required to complete the tasks.  This behaviour was not specifically programmed, it has come about thanks to some overarching rules which has lead to unexpected benefits.  There are links to Google papers in the article if you wish to dig deeper into this topic.

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""Emergent" behaviors have been appearing in prototypes of Google's Omega cluster management and application scheduling technology since its inception, and similar behaviors are regularly glimpsed in its "Borg" predecessor, sources familiar with the matter confirmed to The Register."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Register

IDF 2013: Intel and Google Announce New Haswell-Powered Chromebooks

Subject: Mobile | September 13, 2013 - 06:32 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell, google, Chromebook

At IDF this week Intel and Google announced new Chromebooks running Google's cloud friendly operating system. The new machines will be built by a number of PC laptop manufacturers and will be available later this year.

Notably, the new Chromebooks will feature Intel Haswell processors, which Google claims will result in increased performance along with up to 2-times the battery life of previous generation Chromebooks. In fact, several manufacturers are rating the battery life between 8 and 9.5 hours, which would be quite the feat if the number hold up to actual usage!

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Acer, HP, and Toshiba will be releasing updated Chromebooks with Haswell CPUs and new laptop designs "over the coming months" for as-yet-unannounced prices. ASUS is also joining the Chromebook fray with a mini desktop PC running Chrome OS and requiring a monitor or TV for video output. Specifically, Acer will be putting out an 11.6" laptop that is 0.75" thick and weighs 2.76 pounds. HP is offering a larger display and more battery lfie with its 14" Chromebook measuing 0.81" thick and 4.08 pounds. You trade a bit of portability, but you get a larger display, keyboard, and battery. Toshiba will be unveiling a laptop form factor Chromebook as well, but specs on that particular system have not been revealed yet. As mentioned above, pricing has not been released, but expect the systems to be under $300.

Interestingly, Google claims that six of the leading PC laptop manufacturers are now offering their own spin on Google's Chromebook. Further, the Chromebooks account for around 20-percent of the sub-$300 PC market, according to Google. It seems that Chromebooks are slowly gaining traction though it remains to be seen if they will continue to be successful as Windows and Android budget ultraportable competition heats up and consumers become wary of "the cloud" and Internet applications in light of the various leaks concerning the NSA spying programs. (As Darren Kitchen of Hak5 would say, "encrypt all the things!")

Will you be picking up a Haswell-powered Chromebook?

Source: Google

Google Quietly Dives into the Smartwatch Wars on a WIMM

Subject: Mobile | September 4, 2013 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: wimm, smartwatch, google, Android

In an effort to bolster its own trek into the much-hyped smartwatch market, Google has acquired android smartwatch developer WIMM Labs. This may be new news to you, but this stealthy acquisition occurred well over a year ago, with most of the world none the wiser—WIMM casually shuttered its operations and alluded to an “exclusive, confidential relationship”—until tech news company, GigaOM leaked the details of the merger .

Since GigaOM spoke up, there has been a deluge of activity to back their claim: Investment bank Woodside Capital Partners posted an image practically screaming that they had assisted with the merger, and a number of WIMM employees are updating their online profiles to state that they now work for Google. The purchase of WIMM labs will give Google a massive edge in the upcoming smartphone wars and here is how:

Like many manufacturers of Android hardware, WIMM has implemented a unique ecosystem exclusive to its devices, but unlike most other manufacturers, the WIMM Micro App Store features an independent third party developer program; this means that much like Google’s own Play Store—the primary Android marketplace—that anyone with a great app idea can build a Google smartwatch-ready app. This added capability doesn’t just mean a few extra apps for your smartwatch, though. It also will allow app integration, so that alarm clock set up on your Android smartphone or tablet will buzz on your watch, your calendar will literally always be on hand, and your highly important notes will always be accessible. The WIMM/Google Micro Apps will also operate with unique independence from their phone and tablet-bases cousins. A Google Smartwatch Micro App could, for instance, remotely control your smartphone, enabling you to make phone calls, play music, or power down the device.

The Micro App Store is important, but the hardware and personnel benefits that came with the WIMM acquisition should not be ignored; any patents that WIMM owned are now at Google’s disposal, and with other tech giants, such as Apple looking for a reason to sue anybody for “stealing their ideas,” and with those patent troll companies still being a drain on legitimate business ventures, the WIMM patent portfolio could go a long way in protecting Google’s interests from the legal sharks. Also, the wealth of knowledge about the Micro App Store’s inner workings will go a long way in streamlining the Play Store/Micro App Store app integration process.

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Image source: GigaOM

The WIMM acquisition proves that Google is dead serious about playing its hand in the smartwatch wars; consumers should be on the lookout for a “Google Nexus Smartwatch,” and seriously consider buying into the capabilities of such a device, and owning one themselves.

Source: GigaOM

Google Rolls Out JSS15Q OTA Update To Fix GPS and Multi-Touch Issues

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2013 - 10:26 PM |
Tagged: tablet, ota update, nexus 7, gps, google, Android

Google’s new Nexus 7 was released in July with updated hardware and Android 4.3. One of the changes to the platform was the switch from the original Nexus 7’s Tegra 3 processor for a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC. Qualcomm also built the GPS (and GLONASS) unit. Unfortunately, some users ran into issues with the GPS and touchscreen on the updated Nexus 7 due to software bugs.

In response, Google is rolling out an Over The Air (OTA) update to all new Nexus 7 devices. Among other minor bug fixes, the JSS15Q update resolves the GPS and multi-touch issues. Previously, the GPS would randomly drop the connection and a smaller number of users reported that touching the screen would initiate screen presses at multiple (unintended) areas of the screen on a shared axis from the actual touch point.

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AnandTech reports that the JSS15Q update, which is being slowly rolled out to all of the 2013 edition Nexus 7 devices, has resolved the GPS issue. The XDA Developers site further reports that the update addresses the mult-itouch and user data eMMC corruption bugs.

Nexus 7 users can either wait for the JSS15Q update or flash the device with an updated Google-provided  ROM.

Source: Anandtech

Google Helpouts: Online Tutoring for a Profit?

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2013 - 06:41 PM |
Tagged: google, google helpouts, google hangouts

Video conferencing has been easy, and free, for quite some time now. Perhaps a little one-on-one instruction can encourage users to pay for a service? Maybe the expert will offer their advice for free? Google Helpouts, a free or premium video conferencing service, allows experts to share their knowledge and maybe charge a fee for their time.

Payments are, for both ends of the transaction, managed by Google Wallet. Appointments could be scheduled based on availability and cancellation fees can be applied to discourage no-shows. 20% of monies raised will go to Google and include credit card and Wallet fees. This leaves the instructor with a healthy 80% to claim on their income tax.

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Google will assist users in setting up a merchant account for their Wallet service. Attempts to require payments outside of the Helpouts service could be considered fraud and breaching the terms of service.

In the event of terrible service, customers will be allowed to request a refund. The merchant will be able to, voluntarily, offer a refund for their services and, if the customer is still unsatisfied, Google will be able to review the session recording and determine if a refund is warranted. Customers who opt-out of having their session recorded cannot request a refund from Google. Conferences which cannot be saved, such as those in the Health and Counseling category, are automatically eligible for their "100% Money Back Guarantee".

The age requirement for creating a Google Helpout starts at 18 although customers can be as young as 13. There is currently no information on availability. Interested experts are able to sign up to request an invitation.

There is, also, no word on whether screen sharing software is, or will be, included for instructors without a convenient whiteboard. That would be cool, though.

Source: Google

Google TV versus Chromecast; is there a difference?

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | August 9, 2013 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: asus, asus cube, google, google tv, htpc

With the release of the Google Chromecast streaming USB stick it seems apropos to revisit Google's other foray into the HTPC business, Google TV.  Specifically it is the ASUS Cube up for review at Bjorn3D which will be offered as an example.  At less than 5" a side it is a tiny device with HDMI input and output, an pair of USB 2.0 connectors, an ethernet port and a connector for an IR sensor for the remote.  It does have wireless connectivity to help keep down on the clutter if you install it somewhere noticeable.  Inside you will find a 1.2 GHz Marvell Armada 1500 chip, 1GB of RAM and 2GB of user accessible storage.  There are a variety of apps to help you find streams to watch and is certainly easier to set up than a full HTPC.  At $125 is is more expensive than the Chromecast but it is also more powerful, see how in the review.

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"Asus Cube is the device that features latest Google TV OS that want to be part of your living room entertainment setup. With a good design, an unique remote, and $139 price tag, can it push Google TV further where others may have failed? Let’s find out."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Hulu and HBO Go Streaming Apps May Be Coming To Google Chromecast

Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2013 - 09:00 PM |
Tagged: media streaming, hulu, hbo, google, chromecast

Google released its Chromecast streaming stick last month, and the device launched with support for YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix streaming. For the remaining content sources, users need to resort to "casting" an entire Chrome web browser tab from a smartphone, tablet, or computer connected to the same network over Wi-Fi. At launch, Google stated that additional apps are coming, including Pandora (and later Vimeo). Now, stories are appearing online reporting that Hulu Plus and HBO Go support may be coming to the $35 streaming device in the near future.

Variety reports that HBO is "actively exploring" the Google Chromecast as another method for subscribers to access content. As usual, users will need to be subscribers of traditional cable or satellite services along with paying a monthly subscription to HBO itself in order to access HBO Go on the Chromecast. For now, users are able to stream to their televisions by using the tab casting feature, but an app would be ideal. The company has not announced any specific timelines for an app release, however.

Additionally, Hulu has said that it is working on adding its own streaming app to the Chromecast for Plus subscribers. Specifically, Hulu representative Meredith Kendall was quoted by Variety in stating that "We are actively working with Google to bring Hulu Plus to the platform." Hulu seems to be more certain on delivering a Chromecast app for its users, so it is likely that Hulu Plus will come out before HBO Go, though free Hulu users will have to resort to casting the entire Chrome tab.

Have you received your Google Chromecast yet? Are you excited for new apps, or is the tab casting "good enough"?

Read more about Google's Chromecast media streaming dongle at PC Perspective.

Source: Slash Gear