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Posts Tagged ‘google’

Oracle Wins Copyright Argument Against Google

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Talk about an unprecedented comeback in the appellate court. The official opinion paper is here (PDF), but here is some commentary from around the web.

Florian Mueller over at FOSS Patents:

Within the context of the “smartphone IP wars”, yesterday’s appellate opinion in Oracle v. Google was spectacular. An unprecedented comeback. Oracle now has more legal leverage over Google than anyone else, such as Apple, has ever had, even at this stage, where things may still take a couple of years before an injunction issues (and, of course, there is some uncertainty remaining with “fair use”, though the Federal Circuit made certain limits of that defense clear as well).

[…]

Both Sega and the subsequent Sony v. Connectix case — fair use and not copyrightability cases — did not establish an interoperability exception to copyrightablity, as the Federal Circuit clarified but Google’s supporters still don’t want to recognize. I already addressed that one two years ago. The problem with reading Sega (which Sony is based on) as holding anything related to compatibility to be non-copyrightable is that this is not even anobiter dictum. It’s simply not stated at all unless one takes a few words out of context.

[…]

In Sega, interoperability was considered a laudable goal. Yes, it is. That fact weighs in favor of fair use. In that case, it did. Rightly so. So if you only do a few intermediate copies for yourself and you copy 20-25 bytes (a mere identifier), and that’s what it takes to bring more games to consumers for a platform they’ve purchased, that may be fine. In that case, it was. Rightly so. But the Ninth Circuit (the West Coast circuit) didn’t say that anything relating to compatibility — which would require some very complex line-drawing if it was the law (which it is not) — is by definition non-copyrightable.

And here’s Mueller again:

The Federal Circuit disagrees with the district court and Google (the district court had basically just adopted Google’s fundamentally flawed non-copyrightability argument, which is why it just got overruled) on the point in time at which the theory of a “merger” (of idea and expression) has to be determined. Google argued that it had only one way to write those API declarations — but that’s because it chose to be similar to Java in certain (and not all) respects. But this way Google limited its own choice. It could have create completely new APIs for Android. The question in a copyright case is, however, not whether the copyist had choices. It’s whether the creator of the copied material had options. And Sun’s engineers (Java was developed by Sun, which was acquired by Oracle in 2010) had plenty of choices. The Java APIs were and are creative and original. And that’s why they are protected. Otherwise something could be protected by copyright when it’s written and then lose copyright protection later because someone choose to copy — that would be absurd.

And if you want to step up a level in detail, here’s the Reuters take:

The case examined whether computer language that connects programs – known as application programming interfaces, or APIs – can be copyrighted. At trial in San Francisco, Oracle said Google’s Android trampled on its rights to the structure of 37 Java APIs.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that the Java APIs replicated by Google were not subject to copyright protection and were free for all to use. The Federal Circuit disagreed on Friday, ruled for Oracle and instructed the lower court to reinstate a jury’s finding of infringement as to 37 Java API packages.

[…]

The unanimous Federal Circuit panel ordered further proceedings before Alsup to decide whether Google’s actions were protected under fair use.

(via Michael Tsai)

Add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets

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Increasingly, I have taken to using Google Drive for document creation and collaboration. Last week, Google announced add-ons for Google Docs (text documents) and Sheets (spreadsheets).

Here’s Google’s Saurabh Gupta, Product Manager:

You use Google Docs and Sheets to get all sorts of stuff done—whether you’re staying up late to finish that final paper or just getting started on a new project at the office. But to help take some of that work off your shoulders, today we’re launching add-ons—new tools created by developer partners that give you even more features in your documents and spreadsheets.

And here’s an overview video:

What’s interesting to me is that we’re now at a point where web apps are more easily extensible and customizable than desktop apps. Way of the future.

Truth and Lies About Apple

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Brian S. Hall, writing for Techpinions:

That Google continues to develop and support services optimized for iPhone is all you need to know about those who scream that IPHONE IS DOOMED. They are either ignorant or they are lying to you. Why do you continue to reward them with your attention?

Very smart piece about fact vs. fiction as it relates to the current Apple zeitgeist. Recommended.

Casual Friday: Making the Facts Fit the Narrative

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As of this writing, Apple’s current stock price (NASDAQ: AAPL) is $464. Ever since Apple’s stock peaked at $702 in September of last year, Apple has indeed been beleaguered — by a media narrative, not reality. It’s as if the entire investment and media communities decided, in one fell swoop, “Okay. Apple’s had a good run. Their time in the light is over.” These sources claim all sorts of doom-and-gloom scenarios: Apple hasn’t released a new product in over nine months, it’s showing desperation in its litigation strategy with Samsung, the leadership has disappeared under Tim Cook.

All of them are bunk, some embarrassingly so. John Gruber details this phenomenon using one recent example — the bogus claims from Strategy Analytics that Samsung has passed Apple in handset profits:

So again, not to single out Murphy, but to me, his “finally” explains why so many publications jumped on this story — the belief that it was inevitable, that Apple’s market domination has been an aberration, that the company is in the midst of an inevitable decline. It’s a pre-conceived narrative driving the facts, rather than the facts driving the narrative.

I came across an example of this that drives me crazy. Yes, it’s from Gizmodo, a blog so deep in a vacuum of credibility that one could reasonably ask why I even bother to read it, but nonetheless I’m going to use it. I suppose this is what happens when, for the first time in human history, everyone with an internet connection has a voice and publishing platform, and, well…they shouldn’t.

Adam Clark Estes, in a piece called iOS7 Tracks Your Every Move and Displays Your Favorite Places, writes a hyperbolic warning about how this new iOS7 feature spies on you and uploads your daily location data to Apple servers somewhere. This is Apple being evil, see, and ohmygosh, did you see that a Hacker News commenter discovered this? See ‘hacker’ in the title there? IS THAT NOT SCARY?

Here’s what bothers me about this piece, which is clearly designed to fit neatly into the current anti-Apple narrative:

  • Android does the exact same thing, as has for a while now. Google Now, an excellent ‘assistant’ technology on Android that’s like Siri, only better, ‘learns’ your behavior by parsing your email, web searches and location patterns. From this data — which no doubt resides on Google’s servers, but we’ll get to that in a minute — Google Now offers you notifications about package tracking, your favorite sports team’s scores, traffic information, and a host of other things. And bear in mind that when Gizmodo reviewed Google Now for iOS (once it shipped for iOS devices), they called it great.
  • Location services on modern smartphones are used continually and voluntarily — see Foursquare, Facebook, Yelp, Urbanspoon, OpenTable, and Waze among dozens of others. People use these apps every day to share their locations, check into their favorite establishments, and even vie for mayorships and social media deals offered by these services. You don’t hear much outrage about these, because they’re opt-in services, right? Right.
  • So speaking of opt-in, Estes devotes a single sentence to a fact that derails his entire post: this iOS 7 feature, called ‘Favorite Locations,’ can be turned off with a single switch. Boom. Problem solved. (Yes, you can argue the point that the default setting should be off and the user could enable it, but I suspect by the time iOS 7 ships to the public, this service will be off by default. My hunch is that it’s on by default during beta for testing purposes.)
  • Estes states that he’s concerned about where the data iOS 7 collect is going, and the implication is that it’s going somewhere nefarious (he even reiterates this concern in the comments of his post). Where do his Google searches go? Where does his Yelp data go? What about his search history in Spotify? What about his phone call metadata? What about his IP data as gathered by his ISP? If you want absolutely privacy and your data to literally go nowhere, fall of the grid, ditch your computer and smartphone, use only cash, and live off the land. The ‘where does my data go?’ argument is so specious that I can’t believe Estes isn’t throwing it out there as a ridiculous strawman and nothing more.

I’m not asking for blogs to present perfect point-and-counterpoint arguments to everything they publish, because the nature of op/ed is to proffer an opinion to your readers. I’m simply asking for them not to publish hyperbolic headlines backed by flimsy 213 word posts that seem designed for one thing only: pageviews and complete congruency into an established narrative, in this case the anti-Apple one that’s everywhere you look.

What’s that you say? That’s the game in a nutshell?

Whoops. My bad.

The Power of Google Now

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Here’s Jamie of 37signals telling a story about Google Now, Google’s digital assistant found on Android phones running Android 4.1.x or higher:

I hate being late for appointments. I got that from my father. He’s been drilling that punctuality sermon into me since I was young.

My wife, on the other hand, seems to have no problem leaving for a 10am appointment at 9:59am. I love her, but it drives me nuts.

My wife hates being early. I hate being late.

Last night we had a reservation at a restaurant—Geja’s Cafe. Geja’s is located in a congested part of the city. Traffic can be unpredictable. Throw “rush hour” into the mix—I’m thinking of leaving 1 hour before our reserved time.

Read the whole thing for the kicker.

Google Now is truly astonishing. When you first use it, it seems almost pedestrian, but the more you use your phone, the more it learns about you and starts offering predictive ‘cards’. In my experience, Google Now beats Siri and just about every task you throw at it. Here’s Google Now’s main product page. Check it out.

‘It Might Not Get Any Weirder Than This’

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Fascinating, insightful post by Sophie Schmidt (19 year old daughter of Google’s Eric Schmidt) on her trip to North Korea. Her summary:

Top Level Take-aways:

  1. Go to North Korea if you can. It is very, very strange.
  2. If it is January, disregard the above. It is very, very cold.
  3. Nothing I’d read or heard beforehand really prepared me for what we saw.

Read the whole thing here.

Thermonuclear

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Jim Dalrymple over at The Loop posted what I’ve been thinking since Apple’s decisive victory over Samsung last week:

Because it was so blatant in its copying, Samsung was the most obvious target and allowed Apple to set precedent for its patents. That was the precursor to going thermonuclear.

Google says its not worried about the verdict because “most of these [patents] don’t relate to the core Android operating system.” However, as Seth Weintraub points out, some of the patents relate directly to Google, like the rubber band effect.

Google should be worried. Steve Jobs’ thermonuclear promise is coming.

So, let’s be super clear: Apple won a decisive victory, but yeah, it didn’t get everything it wanted, damage-wise.

My feeling says the precursor is exactly the right word: imbued with even more confidence, Apple now gets to set its sight to … where?

Google seems like the next target —if Jobs’s thermonuclear dictum is still a cultural directive in Cupertino.

Will be very interesting to see how this plays out. Let’s recall what Jobs said about Android, which was detailed in Walter Isaacson’s Jobs bio:

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

“I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”

Being in the mobile phone business today means you have to have (a) lots of cash and/or (b) a deep patent portfolio. Weird times.

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Casual Friday: Google Nexus 7 Review

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Buckle up, you guys. This is a long one.

Right up front, let me be clear about bias, because that’s a word that can get tossed around after posts like this: I am an unabashed iOS/OSX user. My technology sprawl includes two 27 inch iMacs, a Thunderbolt Cinema Display, a MacBook Air, an iPad ‘3’ and my constantly-conjoined second brain, an iPhone 4S. My experience with Android before the Nexus 7 was precisely this: bad. As in: really bad. Android was clunky, ugly, lag-soaked and had such substandard third-party apps so as to make apps in general a complete afterthought outside of Google’s own. I tried to give Android a fair shake twice, only to run back to iOS’s polished embrace each time.

So. That said, what compelled me to even think about a Nexus 7? In a word, the buzz. A ton of Android tablets have been released, and none so much as stirred the slightest wave of interest outside of hardcore Android devotees. The Nexus 7, however, was immediately different. As evidenced by stellar sales and strong reviews, its shine is unmistakeable, even for diehard iOS fans like me. It became clear to me that it was time to take the plunge – again – this time without committing my phone to the platform. And for $199, you’re on the cusp of technology impulse purchase territory – especially seeing how you could turn around and sell it in a red second if you didn’t like it. And something must be clicking, somewhere: as I write this, the 16GB Nexus 7 is sold out on the Google Play store. Even Google wasn’t expecting this much fanfare surrounding its new tablet.

I’m not going to go all The Verge on you and give you the uber-detailed breakdown. If you want that, it’s out there. What I am going to give you is my impression of the Nexus 7 from the standpoint of an entrenched Apple user. Off we go.

(more…)

Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 4/6/12

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If you observe Easter, we’re heading into a holiday weekend. As such, you need things to talk about. I would give you all you need about playoff hockey, but since about 9% of the population seems to care, I’ll instead arm you with all sorts of web esoterica. Hang on.

Google announces Project Glass, their augmented-reality glasses. The general vibe of this news is thus: futuristic, potentially cool concept, dorky look. What people aren’t talking a great deal about: can you imagine the user data Google collects on someone using this? That boggles my mind — and not in a good way.

Why $7.99 beats $0.99: an articulation of the end of the race to the bottom in iOS app pricing. I think the iPad paved the way for higher app pricing (and far better apps) on iOS in general. Note: this is not a missive to justify taking a junky app and overpricing it; it’s an argument for pricing value at the appropriate level and not feeling downward price pressure because everyone else’s garbage app is a buck.

Still rough on touch typing skills? If so, your life is hard, and getting harder by the day. Try TypingClub, a free online touch typing trainer. Even though I’m a serious keyboard monkey, I found this actually improved my typing rate. No joke. Try it yourself and tell me I’m wrong. In an email you write insanely fast, please.

I hereby resign: a fictional letter on the liability of Facebook background checks.

Like tower defense games? If so, try MapsTD, a tower defense game based on Google Maps. The best part is that you can play anywhere in the world: Rome, Moab, or your own neighborhood. Dorky? Yes. Surprisingly fun even once the novelty wears off? Yes.

To Do: a Venn diagram eerily based upon what seems to be my brain. Accurate and, in a way, bothersome. Now let me go do some — HEY LOOK A SPOON!

Paper: if you have an iPad and have any inclination to sketch, jot down ideas, paint, or otherwise be creative, this is an app you simply cannot miss. I’ve been playing with it for hours, and it even caused me to buy a Wacom Bamboo stylus. Worth every penny.

Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray says Apple shares are projected to reach $1000/share in 2014, which would make Apple the world’s first trillion-dollar company. Trillion with a T, folks.

If you’re camera goomba like me and don’t feel like blowing good opportunities messing with aperture and shutter settings at your kid’s birthday party, experiment with The SLR Camera Simulator for a bit. It lets you modify lighting conditions, distance, focal length, ISO, aperture, shutter speed and camera shooting modes. Pretty fun to see what sort of good — and awful — combinations you can come up with. Very useful if you’re new to photography.

As if declining market share, failed products and slipping relevance weren’t enough problems for RIM, now people are getting stabbed at the events it hosts. Talk about not catching a break.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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Apple’s Dominance, In Context

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We all read the headlines today that position Apple as one of the most powerful companies on earth. Most everyone understands the magnitude of Apple’s ascent from the doldrums of the late 1990s and early 2000s. But do you really understand Apple’s power in the market? If you’re not a hopeless Apple nerd like me, allow me to provide you some context:

Last Thursday, Apple’s stock hit $494/share, making Apple worth more than Microsoft and Google — combined. When you look at what Apple purportedly has lined up for this year, you realize they still have tons of upside. How successful will the iPad 3, iPhone 5, and rumored Apple TV/iTV be? I wouldn’t bet against them.

And then there are the observations from David Leonhard over at the NYTimes Economix blog:

• With a market value of about $460 billion, Apple is worth more than Google, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, Ford, Starbucks and Boeing combined.

• Apple is now worth almost twice as much as Microsoft (about $258 billion) and more than twice as much as Google ($198 billion).

• It is also worth more than twice as much as General Electric (about $202 billion), I.B.M. (about $224 billion) or Wal-Mart ($212 billion).

• Apple — ranked 35th in the Fortune 500, which is based on annual sales — is worth eight times as much as the company just below it on the Fortune list (Boeing, at about $56.5  billion). Its value is 20 times as much as the company just above it (Medco Health Solutions, about $23.4 billion).

If you want a glimpse of just what the iPhone hath created, understand that today, Apple’s iPhone business is bigger than Microsoft in its entirety. Let that sink in for a bit. Even if you removed the iPhone business from Apple, what’s left of Apple would still be worth more than Microsoft. 15 years ago, Apple was on the verge of death. And now this? Amazing.

Finally, in 4Q of 2011, Apple took 80% of all profits in the mobile space. Eighty. Percent.

All this from a company that a decade ago was making candy-colored iMacs and this thing called an iPod, which was not met with a favorable popular reaction.

My, how times have changed.

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