MediaFile

Tech wrap: Samsung, Google scream for Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung and Google unveiled the first smartphone running on Google’s latest version of the Android operating system, dubbed “Ice Cream Sandwich”, which combines software used in tablets and smartphones, as they step up competition against Apple. The high-end model Galaxy Nexus was unveiled at an event in Hong Kong, after being delayed last week as a tribute to the late Steve Jobs.  “This will be our strategic product for year-end holiday season, as (Apple’s) iPhone 4S just came into the market,” Samsung’s JK Shin said.

The Galaxy Nexus features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, super AMOLED HD 4.65-inch display, face recognition to unlock its screen,the ability to share content by tapping another phones equipped with a Near Field Communication chip, a camera boasting no shutter lag, and even a barometer. The global launch kicks off in November.

Twitter is looking for a director to bolster its board’s business credentials and diversity, and candidates include a former Google executive, a person familiar with the matter said. The search is in its early stages. But some names that have come up include Mariam Naficy, chief executive officer of paper goods company Minted.com, and Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, chief executive officer at fashion retail site Joyus and the former president of Google’s Asia-Pacific and Latin American operations, the person told Reuters.

EBay reported quarterly revenue that rose 32 percent and profit that matched analysts’ expectations. The operator of the largest online marketplace reported third-quarter net income of $490.5 million, or 37 cents a share, compared to $432 million, or 33 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding stock-based compensation expenses and other items, profit was $628.2 million, or 48 cents a share, in the latest period, the company said. Revenue climbed to $2.97 billion.

The Kindle Fire tablet may be the hottest selling gadget this holiday, pressuring Amazon.com’s profit margins but giving the world’s largest Internet retailer potentially millions of new high-spending customers. Since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the tablet at a lower-than-expected price of $199 on September 28, some analysts have increased their sales estimates for the device. John Paczkowski at AllThingsD reported on October 6 that Amazon is selling over 25,000 Fires a day, citing unidentified sources close to the company.

Tech wrap: Apple misses, Intel beats quarterly expectations

Apple reported a rare miss in quarterly revenue after sales of its flagship iPhone fell well short of Wall Street expectations. The September quarterly report was Apple’s first under new CEO Tim Cook, who took over in August after co-founder Steve Jobs resigned. The company reported a net profit of $6.62 billion, or $7.05 a share. That fell shy of expectations for earnings of $7.39 per share.

One analyst blamed lofty expectations for the miss. “The reality is their business is not an annuity. They have to sell their quarter’s worth of revenue every 90 days. They had a big upgrade cycle with the iPhone, the numbers came in weak. They need to set records every time they report to keep the momentum”, said Colin Gillis at BGC Partners.

Intel forecast quarterly revenue above expectations, defying concerns that the growing popularity of tablets and a shaky economy are eating into demand for personal computers. Intel said revenue in the current quarter would be $14.7 billion, plus or minus $500 million. Analysts on average had expected current-quarter revenue of $14.23 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Intel’s processors are used in 80 percent of the world’s PCs but the company has failed to gain traction in mobile gadgets like Apple’s iPad and Google’s Android smartphones. It also increasingly depends on China and other emerging markets to make up for weak sales in the U.S. and Europe.

Tech wrap: Lineups long as ever for Apple’s iPhone 4S

Apple looked to ring in record first day sales as long lines made up of eager wannabe iPhone 4S owners formed at its stores around the world. In New York, the line outside Apple’s flagship Manhattan store no longer extended around the block after a half-hour of sales, but more people joined it as the morning progressed. Queues in Paris were smaller than those normally seen for a brand-new iPhone, with some fans there wondering if the somewhat underwhelming introduction had put people off, but in London and elsewhere the lines were as long as ever. Apple took more than 1 million online orders in the first 24 hours after its release, exceeding the 600,000 for the iPhone 4, which was sold in fewer countries initially.

Despite the enthusiasm at Apple stores, the launch was marred somewhat by widespread complaints this week online about problems downloading iOS 5, the latest version of Apple’s mobile software. There were also problems with iCloud, Apple’s online communications, media storage and backup service formally launched on Wednesday, with users reporting glitches such as losing their email access.

A judge in California said that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets infringe Apple’s iPad patents, but added that Apple has a problem establishing the validity of its patents. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh did not rule on Apple’s request to bar some Galaxy products from being sold in the U.S. but said she would do so “fairly promptly”. Apple must show both that Samsung infringed its patents and that its patents are valid under the law. Samsung attorney Kathleen Sullivan argued that in order to defeat an injunction bid, Samsung need only show that it has raised strong enough questions about the validity of Apple’s patents. Apple attorney Harold McElhinny said Apple’s product design is far superior to previous tablets, so Apple’s patents should not be invalidated by designs that came before.

The feminine iStique

Katharine Herrup, friend and editor (depending on how this goes, not necessarily in that order, or either, for that matter) has challenged us with a simple question: Why aren’t there more über successful women in tech, and everywhere, for that matter?

Kat (I’ll get away with that for as long as I can) does so in a provocative and timely way by suggesting that the next Steve Jobs, the second coming of whom might be, ought to be, no reason shouldn’t be, a woman.

Long overdue. Glass ceilings are meant to be broken. Right on.

But … as I began reading her post something disturbed me straight away. It wasn’t the stirrings of latent male chauvinism, though it did occur to me that any contrarianism might be construed as such, and who’s to say what evil lurks in the hearts of men? And then there was this friend/editor thing. I questioned myself: I have a daughter, and very much wanted our only child to be a girl, and told people who asked why (even though it was none of their business), it’s because girls are better people.

The godfathers of Steve Jobs’s genius

In this week’s Newsweek, Harry Evans writes on the inspired innovators who made Steve Jobs’s triumphs possible.

By Sir Harold Evans

In the pantheon of American innovators, nobody comes close to the defining legacy of Steve Jobs. It is commonly misrepresented. He was not an Edison. He was not equipped to make a breakthrough in pure technology in the sense of circuits and frequencies. That is not what makes Apple unique. His gift to humanity was an imaginative apogee of form and function. He had the vision of a seer. He took the technology as it was and imposed on it his sublime taste, which millions joyously embraced as their own in personal computers, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Fully to appreciate the crowning nature of his “insanely great” creations, one has to look back at the jagged routes to his summits of beautiful utility.

The iPhone owes little to the man routinely described as the father of the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell went off on a prolonged honeymoon once he’d proved that sound waves could be converted into undulating electric current. He did nothing more after the marvelous moment on the evening of March, 10, 1876, when his young assistant, Thomas Watson, heard Bell’s voice come down the wire. “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you!” but as Watson later remarked, the Bell phone was calculated more to develop the voice and lung than to enable conversation. The eureka moment of folklore overshadows what must follow if the brain wave is to reach the bustle of the marketplace. It was left to Thomas Edison and his associate Charles Batchelor to make the Bell phone audible by inventing a carbon-button transmitter for the rival Western Union. But then the world had to wait for someone to tackle the myriad obstacles to a national long-distance system. An Ohioan who started as a railway mail clerk did that. Theodore Vail merged Western Union and Bell, pooled patents, and founded the American Telegraph and Telegraph Co., the company Jobs chose for his launch partner in 2007. And Apple’s products depend on the microchip, whose origins lie in the transistor invented in 1947 at the Bell labs founded by Vail.

Tech wrap: Apple without Jobs

As people around the world flocked to the nearest Apple store and to social networks to express their grief and appreciation after the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, others turned their attention to the future prospects of the company he helped turn into an innovative tech juggernaut.

Under the leadership of Jobs, Apple’s board of directors took a backseat role in charting the tech giant’s course and keeping tabs on its executive team, but that’s all about to change, writes Lucy Marcus in a piece for Reuters.com. Marcus takes a closer look at what Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and the company’s board need to do to ensure the company continues to grow and innovate in the wake of Jobs’s death, from promptly choosing a new chair to diversifying its members as the company seeks further growth abroad.

“The greatest service the Apple board can give is to ask the tough questions of the executive team and of one another,” writes Marcus. “Asking questions in the relative safety of the board room, and judging the veracity of answers there, is a lot better than staying silent and finding out that things are not right in the cold hard world.”

What’s next for Apple’s board?

By Lucy P. Marcus
The views expressed are her own.

With the passing of Steve Jobs, what role should Apple’s board play in keeping up the momentum of innovation, building shareholder value, and not simply meeting the market but creating it?

For so long, Steve Jobs has loomed large in Apple’s success. In his dual role as both CEO and Chair of Apple’s board, he has controlled and shaped Apple’s destiny, infusing the company with his personality and drive for innovation, as well as his unrivalled and uncanny understanding of what Apple’s customers wanted today, and more importantly, what they will want tomorrow. On the flip side, the Apple board and its directors have not played a strong role in steering the company or holding its executive team to account. Investors have grumbled, but it has been hard for them to argue with the results.

With Steve Job’s passing, attention will turn to the role the Apple board of directors will play from now on. There is an enormous amount of pressure on Tim Cook, and on the board, as the world watches to see if they have what it takes to move the company forward. Investors and stakeholders will be monitoring Apple very carefully to see if this board and the executive team are up to the task of sustaining and growing Apple, especially at a time when other high profile tech company boards, such as Yahoo and HP, have been publicly displayed as not up to the task. There is also the added pressure of running the second highest-valued publicly traded company in America.

Jobs was a manufacturer, and salesman, of love

By Jonathan Weber
The views expressed are his own.

One day in 1991, when I was working as the Silicon Valley correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, I picked up the phone at my girlfriend’s apartment and was greeted by a soft, friendly voice: “Hey Jonathan, it’s Steve. Steve Jobs.” He wanted something from me — I don’t remember what — and he couldn’t have been nicer.

The next time I saw him, a few weeks later, he no longer needed something, and he couldn’t have been more unpleasant. I found his arrogance, and especially his skills as a master manipulator, to be very off-putting, and it took me a while to realize that to pay attention to these aspects of his personality was to completely miss the point about his brilliance.

Technology, for most people, is often experienced as a cold and distant thing, inhuman in every sense. Jobs, uniquely, brought heat and emotion to the technology world; he proved to be the one and only person who could create technology products that people love. His persona, in all its complexities, was entirely in the service of that. No one spontaneously lays wreaths and burns candles at the death of a businessman, except when it’s the exceedingly rare one that has actually touched their hearts.

Jobs gave us computers without pain

By Kevin Kelleher
The views expressed are his own.

Here is the memory that came up when I heard Steve Jobs was dead, the image that’s probably stuck in my mind, the cover to the mental photo album that will inevitably be retrieved whenever someone talks about him.

It’s January 2010. He’s sitting in a chair, black leather, comfy, Le Corbusier. He’s got this lonely Eero Saarinen table next to him – a mutant white tulip that failed to bloom properly –  but he’s ignoring it. He’s got his dumb, eternal mock turtleneck and blue jeans flooded a few inches above his running shoes, and his his left ankle is dangling in an ungainly fashion over his right knee.

He’s talking to you. But he’s not looking at you. His gaze – normally directed to some abstract space in the auditorium that he senses but that you can’t see – is given to the gadget in his lap. The gadget’s screen is projected into a larger screen on the back of stage, maybe 11 times as tall as Steve Jobs. Look at him: He’s like someone petting a beloved cat in his lap, only his pet is the iPad, and all his coddling is to show us what he thinks the future of computing is.

We all called him Steve …

By John Abell
The opinions expressed are his own.

I was a very late comer to the Apple party. My first taste was a G4 laptop, $1,100 from Amazon.com. Prior to that, my close friend and colleague Samer Farha, the Apple evangelist in my life (we all had one) gently prodded me in the direction of Cupertino, with little success until I finally, and suddenly succumbed — just as one can’t ride a bicycle until one can, and then there is no turning back.

Samer would tell me, people aspire to own a Mac they way they aspire to own a BMW. I would say, but they don’t, not everyone does. I owned many a Win-Tel machine, even built a couple myself, and the thought that my mastery of Windows could possibly be challenged by the easy living that was the Apple way was both laughable and, in some strange way, unmanly.

But Samer is the smartest man in the room. So, I listened …

All this was before even Steve had revolutionized, well, everything. The iPod, your music collection in your pocket, was years off. “Smartphone” wasn’t a word yet. Tablets were stupid, phony non-computers Microsoft was saying would change the world blah blah blah …