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Are Any Of The Patents Google Got With Motorola Mobility Any Good? | Techdirt

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Are Any Of The Patents Google Got With Motorola Mobility Any Good?

from the does-it-even-matter? dept

With all of the attention Google bought for buying Motorola Mobility for its patents, one question that not too many people asked was whether or not those patents were any good. Of course, when you’re dealing with 17,000 patents and the fact that Google has shown no signs of planning to go on the offensive with patent fights, it seems clear that the point of getting this patent portfolio was very much about quantity over quality — mainly to ward off lawsuits from other big companies, with the recognition that somewhere in those 17,000 patents was probably something that the other company infringed upon.

Still, the folks at M-CAM decided to put the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio to the test by using a variety of scoring techniques, and believes that the portfolio isn’t all that valuable, both in the aggregate and at the specific level. It basically found that about 48% of the patents are probably worthless. At the specific level, the company looked at the 18 patents that Motorola Mobility had asserted against Apple, suggesting that these particular patents may be the “stars” of the bunch — but, again, found that nine of those patents were “impaired,” and were unlikely to be very strong or valuable.

The report notes that buying and maintaining dubious patents probably isn’t a particularly good value by itself:

Google is paying $12.5 billion for alleged assets that include a 17,000 patent portfolio, of which close to half appear to serve as deterrent value alone. The cost of maintaining patents of dubious quality will be an ongoing and potentially unnecessary liability to Google and its shareholders. Regrettably, close to half of the portfolio deemed “best” based on previous assertions have substantial weaknesses. Google’s patent stockpiling initiative appears to be focused entirely on deterrent value rather than on acquiring quality assets. Google shareholders may take some small solace in the adoption of a multi pronged defensive strategy, but may want to demand higher quality standards for the assets and liabilities acquired in future transactions.

Of course, if Google’s goal is longer term, it’s possible that this isn’t such a crazy deal. Already, we’ve seen that this acquisition alone has been a key driving force in getting lots of people (and especially the press) to admit that the patent system is clearly broken. Spending that much to get that kind of widespread awareness may be worth it… if it leads to real reform (which is still a big question mark). On top of that, if the quantity of patents has a deterrent value, no matter the quality of the overall bunch, it’s likely that Google will still find it “worth it.” However, the fact that it now needs to maintain these 17,000 patents, where approximately half may have no direct commercial value, really demonstrates (yet again) the massive “tax” of bad patents on companies.

via Are Any Of The Patents Google Got With Motorola Mobility Any Good? | Techdirt.

Written by Kees Winkel

September 3, 2011 at 10:18

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The tablet will be the center of the connected lifestyle

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By Rick Schwartz Jul. 4, 2011, 6:30am PT at GiGaOm

It’s no secret that tablets are booming, with more than 25 million iPads  sold to date and 50 million expected to be sold this year. Tablets are taking our entertainment experience in a new direction, and in the next two to five years, the tablet could serve as your universal remote control. All of which means the future of the digital home is already here.

The tablet’s sizable screen offers a mobile alternative to watching movies and shows on a traditional TV, and touch capabilities make it the ideal remote for controlling connected TVs and stereos around the house. The tablet’s advent has shaped the direction of our industry, and with it “anytime, anywhere” entertainment is now a reality. As a result, how we experience video and music has been change forever.

A TV in your lap

The tablet isn’t going to replace our desire for a big screen TV, but with optimized video on-demand apps, like the ABC Player , BBC iPlayer and Comcast Xfinity TV , it has become the preferred second screen device for watching TV shows. At the moment, there are still some drawbacks to video content apps, since not all of them are currently available for both iPad and Android tablets — and most still have a limited amount of programming available. Also, there are plenty of heated legal battles going on regarding content rights, causing some apps to wait on permission for iPad streaming. But it seems inevitable that content limitations will lift and a more robust offering of online content (i.e., sporting events, premium movies and more) will be accessible for streaming.

Control freak

Although many tablet users have already used a tablet to watch a TV show or movie, most aren’t aware it can be used to control their TVs or Blu-ray players. Remote control apps are available from Apple, Control4, Dish, LG, Roku, Samsung, Sony and TiVo, and these apps allow manufacturers to provide a level of control beyond a simple handheld remote. Some are customizable and have multiple screens and even allow gesture-based commands. Imagine changing the channel by simply flicking your wrist; it’s now possible.

Another huge advantage these apps have over a traditional remote is their ability to quickly search an electronic program guide to locate a channel, making the tablet a universal remote for the connected home. For the best experience, use a tablet with an integrated IR blaster and universal remote control app. Vizio’s new VIA tablet has this and is compatible with most CE devices. One thing we’re going to see take off in the near future is “follow me” technology, or the ability to begin a show on your TV, leave the house and then pick up where you left off on your tablet.

The tablet as a digital media adapter

Digital media adapters, like the Apple TV, are no longer your only option for connecting an older TV to your network: Some of the newer tablets, like the Advent Vega or the BlackBerry PlayBook, have HDMI jacks. This makes it easy to send media from your computer, the cloud or the tablet to your TV. It’s too early to say how well tablets will work for this application, but power management issues could be a problem if you can’t prevent your tablet from going to sleep. Even though your tablet may not have a dedicated HDMI output, you can purchase an accessory like the Apple Digital AV adapter to provide you with an HDMI out for your iPad. Toshiba’s Thrive tablet, which comes out in July, has a full-sized HDMI jack, so it doesn’t require a special cable or adapter.

Connected home software for tablets is still a relatively new technology, and we’re seeing improvements every month. Next-generation tablets will be pre-loaded with DLNA-certified or AirPlay-enabled applications, encouraging more consumers to give the software a try.

While it’s too soon to predict the extent to which tablets will replace laptops or traditional TVs, it’s certain they have an important place in the connected home and will undoubtedly be a staple in the future of consumer entertainment.

Rick Schwartz is a senior product manager for PacketVideo’s media management software for PCs and mobile devices. Prior to joining PV in 2008, Schwartz was a product manager at Liquid Audio, overseeing the team that created the first secure online music distribution system, and a product marketing lead for Gateway’s Desktop PC division.

Written by Kees Winkel

July 5, 2011 at 12:01

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Say hello to the alive web!

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Have you heard of Turntable.fm? If you haven’t, then let me tell you that it is cool, and might represent where the web is going.

Turntable.fm is a New York City-based social music listening and discovery service that is spreading on the web like wildfire. The idea behind the service is pretty simple: You sign-up by using your Facebook credentials, create a music listening room and invite people to come join you in the room. You can create a playlist by selecting songs from the service or upload your tracks. Others can join, and become co-deejays.


If you don’t want to deejay, you can skip from one room to another based on musical interests. You can chat with others and share your playlists. You even get your own avatar that bobs to music. The whole experience is not just about music. It’s about finding others who enjoy music and forming relationships with them — albeit transient ones.

It’s fun. It’s addictive. And it’s the enemy of productivity. But more than anything, it makes the whole web experience come alive. It’s social, like being in a club — part of an ever-changing visage, a canvas painted in real time. Turntable.fm is not an isolated example,  though it might be one that captures the essence of the future web — Alive Web.

The immersive web is one that’s alive

Today, we have nearly a billion wired broadband connections and over half-a-billion fast wireless connections (HSPA, HSPA+, LTE and WiMAX.) And those numbers are growing. If you can ignore the poor nature of wireless networks, we now have seamless connectivity. From an iPhone to an iPad to a Macbook Air (or PC and Android equivalents), people can always be connected. This connectivity offers an opportunity to create a different kind of Internet experience that’s more immersive and interactive. And that persistent connection is what allows us to create and experience the Alive Web. I think Chatroulette was an early signal of the Alive Web, although the world instead focused on the vileness of its content.

I’ve met a handful of startups like Turntable.fm that are building this new kind of Internet experience: one that goes beyond the hackneyed marketing terms such as real-time web, a buzz word of 2009 and 2010. One of the reasons why it failed is because it was attached to the idea of information — real-time information, instead of focusing on people and what we do in real time — interact.

I remember as a kid, my friends and I would congregate at a local tea shop (aka chai-walla) which would have cricket commentary live on the radio. We would feel the collective joy and agony of the game. It was the analysis of the game with my friends that made the game much more fun. Perhaps even today, for me, baseball games are best enjoyed in the company of friends (or absolute strangers in a bar.) Or shared through services such as Twitter.

Seamless connectivity allows us to mimic many offline behaviors online, and interactions are part of that mega-trend. In the real world, we don’t really co-read the newspapers, but we occasionally share an article. We get together for a coffee or food and chat about an article. On the web today, all we do is share. But, I think more than sharing — the discussion and the interaction — are what matter most. The lack of interaction is why I find Facebook dowdy and slow, much like me running up a San Francisco hill.

In the real world music and television have been communal experiences where the interactions are actually more important than the content itself. The web is no different.

Immediacy matters

These interactions are what made BBS, IRC and AOL Chat Rooms so popular. These interactions are why Twitter feels more alive than its bigger rival, Facebook. On this new Alive Web, what we miss doesn’t matter. What matters is the connection and the interactions. We get online to socialize instead of posting status updates, just as we would when we would go to our favorite club or a neighborhood bar.

This new web is less about page views and it is more about engagement and the economics of attention, two topics I have written about in the past. As I start to look into the future, it is clear that services and apps need to optimize around attention.

Tomorrow’s apps and services need to not only be social and mobile, but they need to be engaging and immediate. They should have the ability to signal to us that there is someone on the other side of the wire. Some of the instant messaging networks do a great job of signaling — always letting you know that someone on the other side is typing, so you wait for their response. This synchronicity is what makes Q&A service Quora feel more alive. Try it; it’s quite a thrill to see someone typing out answers.

So how do you make money?

So how does one monetize this new world? After all, if there are no page views, how will advertising dollars flow to this new world? Will referral revenues or social commerce be the new way to go? Or will we look at some new kind of monetization scheme?

For answers, look at Bill Gross, the man behind Idealab. He was one of the early champions of search-based link-centric advertising (that eventually made Google what it is). In a conversation, he explained to me how his new company UberMedia was going to monetize the conversation stream in Twitter.

Twitter is an incredible, most important micro-broadcasting platform. People are spending an incredible amount of time inside these clients. Think of these clients as browsers and if we can increase the amount spent inside the client, we can do incredible things. And on this platform, people tell you about themselves openly and what they want. It opens up a lot of opportunities. For example, when someone says they are craving pizza, well that is an opportunity for marketers. (from GigaOM interview)

Let’s take this idea a bit further: What if there were bots that were like humans and could surface offers in the stream of various conversations. If not this, then I am pretty sure someone could figure out some way to make money.

For me, I am back to playing and listening to music on Turntable.fm/gigaom


Om Says / Presented by   GiGaOm PRO















Written by Kees Winkel

June 15, 2011 at 08:23

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Android’s Fragmentation Won’t Fly in the Mobile Enterprise

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Here’s another goody from GiGaOm, as I am writing this while listening to Keith Jarrett and observing that Ghostery tells me Quantcast and WordPress Stats are observing me: Google is hoping to become a major player in the mobile enterprise with Honeycomb, an updated version of Android built specifically for tablets. But it will have to fix its fragmentation problem if it wants to compete in an increasingly crowded market. Here’s the full story.

Written by Kees Winkel

April 8, 2011 at 09:11

The Big Mobile and Desktop Platform Merge Is Underway

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According to GiGaOm’s Kevin Tofel, tens of thousands of compelling mobile software titles have been created and some of them are actually good enough to displace their desktop or web counterparts. In some cases, Tofel claims, those mobile apps are just as functional as, and easier to use than their traditional computing equivalents. And, as he observes, there is a growing merger of desktop and mobile computing. Some examples:

  • Motorola’s Atrix
  • Android on Windows, for instance Dell
  • Controlling PC’s from mobile, like Log Me IN
  • Mobile and desktop display sharing (Tofel’s own little gadgetry)

You may read this interesting article right here.


Written by Kees Winkel

April 7, 2011 at 08:03

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Amazon the music innovator

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Most assumed Apple or Google would be the digital media giants to first implement cloud-based music streaming, so it surprised quite a few folks when Amazon actually made the first move as Michael Wolff explains in yesterday’s GiGaOm. Have a look.


Written by Kees Winkel

April 3, 2011 at 11:12

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Controversy: There’s an App for That

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Here’s an interesting view on Apple’s walled garden by  GigaOm’s Dave Greenbaum.

Written by Kees Winkel

March 27, 2011 at 10:18

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NYT Editor Says It’s Only Journalism When He Does It

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Here’s a thought on journalism, professionalism and digital media by Matthew Ingran in Gigaom, right here. Join the discussion everybody.

Written by Kees Winkel

March 12, 2011 at 15:59

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