Archive for August, 2010

August 31, 2010

Oracle’s Suit Against Android Could Split Open Source

Oracle’s suit against Google for the use of Java in its Android portable operating system continues to reverberate through the open-source movement. In the newest development, Google has declined to participate in the upcoming JavaOne conference, an event formerly hosted by Java creator Sun Microsystems and now run by Sun’s new owner, Oracle.
Joshua Bloch of Google’s Open Source Programs Office, in a posting Friday on the company’s open-source blog, wrote that Google wished it could attend, “but Oracle’s recent lawsuit against Google and open source has made it impossible for us to freely share our thoughts about the future of Java and open source generally.” Bloch noted that the company had attended every JavaOne event since 2004.
Talks Between Google and Sun
Some observers are raising the possibility that, if the suit continues, Java may split into different versions, most notably a Google-branded version designed to avoid legal obstacles.
Others have warned that the battle could have unforeseen consequences for open-source software, which has found a home in many corporations. According to some estimates, as much as 75 percent of open-source software usage is inside corporations.
Oracle is viewed as trying to get as much leverage and revenue as possible from its Sun acquisition earlier this year.
In 2006, Sun made Java open source, hoping to increase its usage on the web and in data centers. When Google started developing its software platform for mobile devices, it founded the Open Handset Alliance and created Android on a Java path that it says diverged from Sun’s.
Google and Sun held talks over the last three years about remaining legal issues, but no agreement was reached. Reportedly, Sun chose not to sue Google over Java because Sun’s then-CEO Jonathan Schwartz was championing open source, including the use of an open-source version of the company’s Solaris operating system for data centers. Schwartz left after Oracle bought the company.
Google ‘Aware of Sun’s Patent Portfolio’
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, contends that “Google’s Android competes with Oracle America’s Java as an operating system software platform for cellular telephones and other mobile devices.”
The lawsuit also said the search giant “has been aware of Sun’s patent portfolio,” and noted that it hired “certain former Sun Java engineers.”
Java is used in Google’s software development kit (SDK), and the Java-built applications are compiled to run in Google’s custom virtual machine, Dalvik, using the search giant’s custom versions of the compiler and runtime. Java has been attractive to developers in part because Java apps can be written once, and then can run on any platform that has the Java virtual-machine software.
Another development kit, the Android Native Development Kit, enables third-party developers to build apps in C and C++, although Java has remained the primary development language. The complaint said Android, the Android SDK, and Dalvik violate the seven Oracle patents cited in the lawsuit.
August 31, 2010

Why Skype is perfect for Cisco

Video is key 
Cisco is all about video these days. In fact, that’s all CEO John Chambers can talk about. At a recent event in New Jersey, Chambers said video is quickly becoming the killer app of all IP networks, including the Internet itself. With each new evolution of TV, the applications consume more network resources. And this feeds Cisco’s business, as well as other businesses.
“Video is today’s voice-on-an-IP network,” he said.
So it makes sense that Cisco would want one of the largest online video conferencing applications on the planet as part of his empire. Skype claims that 40 percent of all its calls made through its software are for video chat.
The most natural and easiest place to integrate the Skype technology into Cisco is in Cisco’s WebEx conferencing service. WebEx is a leading collaboration tool that allows businesses to share documents and communicate online with one another. Skype video and voice integrated into that service would take WebEx’s service to a new level. Many businesses large and small are already using Skype video anyway.
Skype technology could also be a nice complement to other Cisco products. For example, Skype video would also fit nicely into Cisco’s other corporate unified communications products providing a video element to the voice over IP calling and presence applications. It could also be used to bring Cisco’s telepresence video conferencing service to the masses.
Cisco has been selling its high-end videoconferencing equipment to large companies for the past few years. And in January at the CES show in Las Vegas, the company said it would be testing a consumer version of the product that offers a similar video conferencing experience at home. The telepresence system will use consumers’ existing high-definition TV sets and broadband Internet connections.
Adding Skype’s video technology could help Cisco drive down the cost of the service. Skype would also give Cisco an instant user-base of at least 124 million active users.
“Even if Cisco could make comparable technology to Skype’s video service, Cisco would still have to get millions of people to switch from Skype to the Cisco service,” said Kerravala. “So it could be an uphill battle. Why not just acquire?”
Skype could also benefit by hooking up with Cisco, one of the most cash-rich and stable companies in the tech sector. Since separating from eBay last year, Skype has actually begun to turn a profit. In the first six months of 2010, Skype reported revenue of $406 million, and net income of $13.2 million, according to is SEC filing. Compare this to all of 2009. Then Skype had sales of $719 million and a loss of $99 million. Skype said in its SEC filing that it expects revenue to increase through new deals it has struck with Verizon Wireless and television makers, such as Samsung and LG.
But even with new deals in the works, Skype’s revenue stream is still predominately tied to one service: SkypeOut. This is the Skype service that allows users to call regular phone numbers from their Skype account. Considering that only 8.1 of its 124 million active users are actually paying customers using this service, the company’s revenue stream is somewhat precarious.
As a part of Cisco, Skype wouldn’t have to worry if its traditional consumer business stumbled. Unlike eBay, which couldn’t find a good fit for Skype’s existing business, Cisco could still benefit from Skype’s free consumer services even if it made little to no money. Skype has a total of 560 million registered users worldwide, with 124 million using the service every month. That is a lot of eyeballs throughout the world that could associate Cisco’s brand with making Skype calls.
Cisco has been trying to break into the consumer market for years. It sells the Linksys brand of routers and last year it acquired Pure Digital, the maker of Flip video cameras, for $590 million.
At the end of the day, Cisco’s main business is still selling switches and routers that shuttle traffic across corporate networks and around the world via the Internet. Video is the most bandwidth intensive application out there. And anything Cisco can do to drive more video usage is money in its pockets. That is why a Skype acquisition makes sense as did the Pure Digital acquisition.
A price to pay 
The potential price tag of a Skype acquisition is nothing to sneeze at, but it shouldn’t be a problem for Cisco. Some reports suggest that Skype is looking for a valuation of $5 billion, which means Cisco would at least have to match that for Skype to even consider accepting its acquisition proposal.
Cisco has spent that kind of money for other acquisitions. In 1999, it spent nearly $7 billion on optical networking start-up Cerent. In 2005, it bought TV set-top box maker Scientific Atlanta for $6.5 billion. And in 2006, it paid a cool $3.2 billion for WebEx.
In other words, Cisco has proven that it will pay top dollar for strategic assets. And Skype is at least as, if not more, strategic than many of Cisco’s hefty acquisitions of the past.
The only potential snag is that if Cisco were to acquire Skype, it would then be in direct competition with some of its biggest customers, phone companies such as AT&T and Verizon Communications. But Kerravala doesn’t think that is a big worry for Cisco.
“It definitely puts Cisco in a more competitive position with some of its customers,” he said. “But the market is moving toward VoIP anyway. And there are just so many synergies between Skype and Cisco.”
August 31, 2010

Google Acquires Social Gaming Company SocialDeck

If you’ve had any doubt that GoogleMe is a serious project at Google, that should be laid to rest recently with their host of recent acquisitions that include the virtual currency firm Jambool, the app making firm Slide, the social search firm Angstro and the video search engine like.com. If that still isn’t enough for you how about today’s acquisition, SocialDeck.If you’re unfamiliar with SocialDeck, according to Indyposted, the company is an online social gaming firm that has built such hits as Shake & Spell, which allows users to simultaneously play the game from their mobile devices (Blackberry/iPhone) and even through Facebook. They have also built Pet Hero MD, Color Connect and Shake & Spell 3D.The Wall Street Journal says the acquisition may be part of a new gaming service that Google has been pitching to various top online social gaming firms:
August 31, 2010

MapMyFitness Works Out $5 Million In Series A Funding

Denver, Colorado based MapMyFitness, Inc has just announced raising $5 Million in a Series A round of financing lead by Austin Ventures. The health-related social network and training application company operates a network of sites including MapMyFitness.com, MapMyRide.com, MapMyRun.com, MapMyTri.com, MapMyWalk.com, MapMyHike.com, and MapMyMountain.com.The MapMyFitness community gives their over two million members the ability to record and store their various running, cycling, walking and hiking routes as well as access to a database of international routes, fitness calculators, and events listings. MapMyFitness also offers mobile apps that use GPS on iPhone and BlackBerry in order to help users geolocationally track their fitness regimes.The latest investment will enable MapMyFitness to expand its site network into further verticals as well as bolster its already existent offerings. The MapMyRide property already has a Tour de France tie-in and its easy to see where similar distribution deals might be possible for each fitness category.
Additionally, the company will be relocating their headquarters to Austin, in order to be closer to their Austin-based lead investors.
August 31, 2010

Autodesk Will Reintroduce Its AutoCAD Design Software for Macs

When it comes to Apple products, the iPad and the iPhone get all the headlines.
But in recent years, the company’s Macintosh line of computers has enjoyed a remarkable revival that has been vital to Apple’s emergence as the most valued technology company on Wall Street.In the latest sign of that comeback, Autodesk plans to announce on Tuesday that it is bringing its flagship AutoCAD design and engineering software to the Mac for the first time in nearly two decades.
The return of AutoCAD to the Mac could help Apple sustain its momentum in the competitive market for personal computers, especially with business customers, where Apple has made significant inroads recently. Autodesk estimates that 10 million people use the AutoCAD software around the world, and the company said that its customers had been asking for a Mac version with growing frequency.“This is an endorsement from our side that design and engineering customers are taking the Macintosh seriously again,” said Amar Hanspal, senior vice president for platform solutions at Autodesk.
The Mac was once a popular platform for AutoCAD. But Apple’s share of the personal computer market dwindled in the early 1990s, so Autodesk made its last version of AutoCAD for the Mac in 1992, and stopped supporting it in 1994. The company continued to make other products for the Mac, including software used in the entertainment industry.
Autodesk could no longer ignore Mac’s comeback, Mr. Hanspal said.The Mac accounted for nearly 10 percent of all PCs sold around the world in the first quarter, according to Gartner, or more than double its share just a few years ago. In the most recent quarter, Apple sold nearly 3.5 million Mac computers, a 33 percent increase from the same quarter a year earlier. That rate of growth far exceeded the overall PC market.
In a news release, Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president for worldwide product marketing, said his company was thrilled that Autodesk was bringing AutoCAD back to the Mac. “We think it’s the perfect combination for millions of design and engineering professionals,” he said.
The Mac version will cost $3,995, the same as the PC version, and will be released in October. AutoDesk will soon introduce a free mobile version of the software that will run on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. That version has more limited capabilities, Mr. Hanspal said. But with it, an engineer, for example, could bring drawings to a job site on an iPad, rather than on a big roll of paper, and make annotations on them.The mobile version will be able to read any AutoCAD files, whether they were created on a PC or a Macintosh.
Mr. Hanspal said AutoDesk was considering making mobile versions of the design software for other tablets on the market.
August 31, 2010

Gmail Team Launches Priority Inbox

Gmail is having a big month. Aside from launching Google Voice with free voice calling to Canada and the U.S. through 2010, Gmail has also launched a new feature called Priority Inbox.People that use Gmail are getting overwhelmed with all of the e-mails that they are getting. Even though there is a Starred feature and Filters feature, it is still tough to prioritize e-mails using Gmail… until now.The Priority Inbox feature splits your e-mail inbox into 3 sections. The 3 sections include “Important and unread,” “Starred”, and “Everything Else.”As your e-mail comes in, Gmail will automatically flag e-mails from people that you e-mail frequently. There is a + and – button in Priority Inbox that lets Gmail know if they are correctly marking conversations as important.Priority Inbox will be rolled out over the next week. You will notice it at the top right corner of your Gmail account when it is available for you.
August 31, 2010

Hotmail Supports Exchange ActiveSync Push Technology

On August 30, Microsoft flipped a switch allowing Hotmail users to use Exchange ActiveSync to synchronize their smartphones with Hotmail’s email, contacts, calendar and tasks. Hotmail now matches, and exceeds what Google Sync offers.
Google added Exchange ActiveSync support over a year ago in their Google Sync service, but it initially only supported contacts and appointments. You had to get email through either POP3 or IMAP4 protocols. Now, depending on the device, you can also get push support for Gmail itself.
Hotmail matches all of that and adds synchronization support for tasks as well. Before you rush to configure your device though, make sure it is supported. Like Google Sync, Hotmail has limitations on platform support. Complete setup instructions are at the Windows Live Solution Center.
Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 are officially supported, though I’d wager if you were on an older 6.0 or even 5.0 you might have success in getting it connected. I actually have a 5.0 device at home in a box somewhere I may try just for kicks if I can find it. Windows Phone 7 is also on the officially supported list so if you have one of those phones on your wish list, you’ll be ready to go day one.
August 31, 2010

Numerous Users Reporting That Facebook Is Down

Numerous Facebook users are reporting that the site is unavailable. We’ve also been experiencing some significant delays in accessing the site this evening, with areas of the site not responding at all. While we’d expect Facebook to resolve the issue in the near future, plenty of users are actively tweeting about the downtime issues. If you happen to be based in the United States, you truly need to step away from the computer at this point! What makes this significant is that Facebook rarely experiences any downtime at all.

While refreshing the site I’ve also noticed that large portions of the site are unavailable. However if you are truly desperate to check the site, you can currently access it via mobile devices while the main site faces reliability issues. As far as we can tell Facebook has is working to restore the functionality, yet plenty of users are continuing to report that they can’t access the site. Let us know in the comments: are you able to access Facebook?

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August 27, 2010

South Korean firms prepare to fight Apple onslaught

South Korean firms said Thursday they would soon release tablet PCs to contend with the imminent arrival of Apple’s iPad after the roaring success of the American firm’s smartphones.Top mobile phone operator SK Telecom said it would launch the Galaxy Tab, a seven-inch touchscreen tablet from Samsung Electronics that is smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad.”We are aiming for a September release. We are also considering diverse tablet PCs at the moment,” SK spokesman Kim Dae-Woong told AFP, adding that pricing and the exact release date had still to be decided.Global computer and handset makers have scurried to respond to the success of Apple’s tablet PCs, released in April. The US company sold more than three million iPads within less than three months of the product’s release.Apple’s local distributor, KT Corp, said it had been in talks with the US company to offer the iPad in South Korea. Spokesman Lee In-Won said the release could be around early September.The Galaxy Tab will be unveiled on September 2 at a trade show in Germany. Its local rival, LG Electronics, has promised to release an Android-based tablet PC before December.Tablet PCs feature bigger screens than smartphones and have no keyboards, instead employing touchscreens or stylus pens as input devices.Apple distributor KT plans to introduce a low-end tablet PC before bringing the iPad into the tech-savvy country.
KT said it had sold one million iPhones, including about 880,000 of the iPhone 3 and 3GS, since their debut nine months earlier.It has also received 212,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4, reflecting its “through-the-roof popularity”, spokesman Jin Byung-Kwon said.South Korea’s mobile phone market is one of the world’s most vibrant, with 45 million users in a population of 49 million. But smartphones have a relatively small share, implying huge growth potential. Since its launch in June, Samsung has sold more than 900,000 Galaxy S smartphones.
August 27, 2010

Google revamps real-time search

Google has given its live search results a facelift by opening a new site called Google Realtime dedicated to listings that include results from social-network conversations and other live sources.
The new service remains an experiment, but is up and running and enables users to keep track of conversations on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as filter results by location and language.
The results can also be accessed via the left-hand menu of Google’s main search site, under Updates, and the results feature a graph that shows how topics are “trending” on the web.
Google recently built real-time results into its main search results, which included the latest tweets on your chosen search terms. It was part of a growing real-time results war with Microsoft’s Bing, which announced partnerships with Twitter and Facebook back in October.
According to Google, as well as being a useful tool for consumers, Realtime is likely to be used by companies to monitor what people are saying about them or their products. Hollywood studios, for instance, could quickly scan initial comments and snap reviews after a film opens, or a company could check out opinions on a new product on launch day.
The company said it currently had no plans to sell advertising on the Realtime site. “It’s a great way to find out what people are saying about something … right now,” product manager Dylan Casey said. “Real time search is a core feature of Google search.”
Google decided to hive off the separate site after research showed that enough users wanted to limit their internet trawls to real-time results only. Addressing potential concerns about privacy, Casey added that only publicly available postings are displayed.