Motorola fails in patent block

FOSS Patents: Motorola can’t enforce standard-essential patents against Apple in Germany while appeal is pending — huge victory for Apple, bad news for Google

Apple scored a breakthrough court victory today against Motorola (Bloomberg was first to report). Its importance can hardly be overstated. This is so huge that it even begs the question of whether Google’s strategy for its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility has failed before the deal is even formally closed (they’re still waiting for some regulatory approvals).

Seems like a pretty big deal.

iPhone 4 Ship Times Lengthen

AppleInsider | Apple’s iPhone 4 ship times slip ahead of iPhone 5 debut

All new iPhone 4 orders in the U.S. now take one to three business days to ship through Apple, a sign that the company is running low on inventory ahead of introducing its fifth-generation model.

More importantly, this is a sign that Apple is not following the prior model of continuing to sell the “old” version of the iPhone as the low end model. Further supports the idea that we’ll see a new low-end device (perhaps off-contract) and a higher end iPhone 5.

Most intriguing theory I’ve heard is that an off-contract iPhone will replace the iPod Touch, though I’m not sure if that’s financially viable.

Amazon and Music

Amazon goes big with unlimited cloud music storage ($20/year) and iPad optimized web player | 9to5Mac | Apple Intelligence

Amazon today announced unlimited storage for music in its cloud drive.  The catch is you have to upgrade your overall Cloud storage (also includes Docs, Pictures, movies, etc) to the 20GB plan which is $20 per year.  Once you do that, you can upload “Unlimited” amounts of music and play it anywhere.

I’m not sure I get the appeal of what Amazon is offering here. I have to upload all my music to the cloud drive and then I can…stream it? If I had vast amounts of music that wouldn’t be practical to take portably, I could potentially see the utility, but the reality is that much of music listening is mobile, and a streaming solution isn’t really practical yet (certainly not one that requires a web browser). There are always dead zones and the whole process is generally slow and cumbersome. It makes more sense, unless you have a really mammoth collection, to store the music locally on your portable device.

Amazon to offer library lending for Kindle

Amazon intros Library Lending feature for Kindle, apps | Electronista

Amazon on Wednesday announced users of its Kindle e-book reader and those with the Kindle app on other devices will now get the ability to borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 libraries in the US. Called simply Kindle Library Lending, the feature will arrive later this year. It will allow for Whispersyncing of notes, highlighting pages, and marking the last page read, even for titles that were returned but lent out once again.

Interesting idea. Obviously will help Amazon rope in readers who are currently avoiding the Kindle because of the need to buy the books. But how will this work in practice. If you can lend electronically from your local library, why would you buy a book?

The Gap is My Radio

Did Steve Jobs really kill the music business?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that in college, I had no trouble finding interesting new music to listen to. Somehow as I’ve aged I’ve retreated into replaying the songs of my youth or (only a marginal improvement), new creations from the same characters. I’ve tried the modern tools that are supposed to help people in my situation (last.fm, Pandora) with little success. Ping would help if people actually used it and it didn’t require such effort to get to.

Strangely, my only refuge has been the Gap. Yes, the clothing store. It’s become a regular destination for my son’s clothes. While I don’t always notice the music (it’s often barely audible), there have been several times where I’ve heard something I liked enough to take a closer listen later on.

My first find was VHS or Beta’s Fall Down Lightly. A few weeks later was MGMT’s Kids. Last weekend it was Ellie Goulding’s Little Dreams. What’s odd is that the two of these weren’t even singles.

Of course, technology has played a roleSoundHound has been key to figuring the songs’ identities.

If you see me at the Gap holding up my iPhone and walking around looking aimless, I’m not…I’m just trying to find that one location where I’m both close to a speaker and have adequate 3G coverage to make this work for me.

Quick Thoughts on ChromeOS

Google gave the first glimpse at ChromeOS, their operating system for, well, netbooks.

Essentially, the “OS” is basically just…a web browser.

Not as crazy as it sounds…most of what many people do online is web-based. Reading pages, sending emails, Facebook, etc. This will be fine for that, but I’m not sure it’s all that appealing. Netbooks started taking off when they became capable of running a full OS (Windows XP).

The iPad and future Android based tablets like more appealing form factors for lightweight use.

On the other hand, I could see this form factor being useful in kiosk machines or as desktops for people with very limited needs.

I worry that the Chrome “app store” is just going to further fragment the web. It seems unnecessary since these “apps” are anyway just fancy web pages, albeit with requirements for modern browser capabilities.

Chrome as a browser, on the other hand, is quite decent. If I’m stuck on a Windows machine, I’ll probably be using Chrome. On the Mac, however, I can’t find any advantage over Safari, and I prefer some of Safari’s capabilities (e.g. command keys to launch bookmark bar items).

Adobe ships Acrobat X Pro | MacNN

Adobe ships Acrobat X Pro | MacNN

Adobe has released Acrobat X Pro, an upgrade of the company’s top-level PDF authoring utility. The software has gained several significant features, including compatibility with the latest revisions of PDF/X-4 and X-5, and an Action Wizard that automates tasks needing several steps. New customization tools for PDF Portfolios allow people to create layouts and themes that can be shared amongst groups.

It’s annoying that Acrobat releases are out of sync with the Adobe’s Creative Suite. If anything, it discourages buying of a bundle. Why is Acrobat separate?

Selling iPad data plans without the iPad

This strikes me as really silly.

Yes, it’s a problem that AT&T is axing the unlimited data plan that was highly touted at the relatively recent iPad launch. Even if 2GB is enough for most people, this really feels like a bait and switch. Their “solution” was that anyone who currently has the unlimited plan activated can keep it, as long as it’s active before June 7. The problem is that it’s hard to get an iPad in that amount of time: their sold out quite widely and even Apple’s online store is backordered. Is selling data plans before people buy their iPad a solution? Technically yes, but it’s not much of one, especially since the whole point of the iPad plan was that you can turn it on and off as you like.

What would make a lot more sense? How about extending the unlimited option for the iPad for the rest of 2010, instead of introducing this switch with only 1 week’s notice.

Does AT&T have anyone actually thinking about PR?

This Adobe/Apple war is getting ridiculous

Now Adobe’s launching an ad campaign in the name of “openness” and “fairness” designed to…do what exactly? Pressure Apple into allowing Flash on their iDevices (not going to happen) or their Flash-to-iPhone conversion tools?

This is a waste of their time and money, or at least of our time. There are enough terrible apps in the App Store without the need to make it easier to convert terrible Flash or Air apps into iPhone apps. Look at Air on the Mac…terrible, nonstandard-looking apps.

Yes, Flash is used on a lot of websites, but I don’t enjoy hearing my computer’s fan spin up just so some company can display a flashy (cough) animation (that’s why I use the excellent Click2Flash plugin in Safari). Yes, there are some things you can do with Flash that you can’t do with HTML5…but most of what Flash is currently used for can be done. Video works well, though Firefox is still being a pain (the battle is over, FF…Ogg lost) and many interactive Flashsites could easily be redone without Flash.

A simple request for Adobe: instead of wasting your time trying to trumpet Flash (which, despite many web video demos, STILL isn’t available for Android), how about making a decent updater and installer for my computer that doesn’t make me quit Safari every time I want to do an update (that has nothing to do with web browsing)? And stop acting like my decision not to install Adobe’s browser plugin is some sort of technical problem. And how about actually shipping Lightroom 3?

Adobe made a lot of great products, and I’ve been a huge fan of Photoshop. Despite loyally upgrading each Creative Suite they crank out, I’m not sure I’ve really seen a huge value in each upgrade since CS2. I haven’t yet made the plunge to CS5 – the installer annoyances have made me wonder whether I could get by with tools like Pixelmator. So far the answer has been no, but I would never have started looking had Adobe made the experience less painful (don’t get me started about the tabs in Photoshop).

I’m done ranting. For now.