<IT WORLD> HTC arms for Apple clash
By Martin J Young
HUA HIN, Thailand - Taiwan-based smart-phone maker HTC has launched a fresh
salvo at rivals Apple using ammunition from Google, in a ratcheting up of the
phone-patent wars. Apple has recently been attacking everyone over patent
infringement ranging from touch-screen technology to the color of its products.
HTC hit back using nine patents it bought from Google only last week regarding
wireless functionality and processor communication technology.
Google only purchased the patents last year from Motorola Inc, Openwave Systems
Inc and Palm Inc, but they seem to have been put to better use in the hands of
partner HTC for a joint combat effort against Apple.
Apple has been on the warpath against other competitors, most
recently Samsung electronics, which has seen sales of its Galaxy tablet and
smart-phones banned in a number of European countries following lawsuits from
Apple claiming the South Korean tech company copied the design if its iPhone
The HTC move may be a turning point for Google, which has, up until now, been
reluctant to support its Android partners from legal action from rival
companies. This passing of patent artillery may be the first of many
transactions between Google and its partners to fend off the lawsuit junkies at
Apple. The search giant now has a healthy stock of around 17,000 patents
following its US$12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility last month.
Both HTC and Samsung are partnered with Google for their smart-phone software
and the triumvirate could prove to be a powerful force to do battle with, even
for the likes of Apple.
Google's South Korean operations have been feeling the heat this week as raids
were carried out on the Seoul offices of the search giant. The Korean Fair
Trade Commission sent officers into Google's premises in the South Korean
capital on Tuesday following antitrust complaints by local Internet companies.
Korean Internet company NHN, which runs the country's top search engine Naver,
and Daum Communication lodged a complaint with the KFTC in April stating that
Google was putting pressure on handset manufacturers and mobile operators to
prevent the preloading services from rival companies.
The argument stated that the Android devices came with Google search services
installed as default and the software had been designed to make it virtually
impossible to switch to another option or service.
Google has not confirmed the raid but has stated that it will cooperate with
A company spokesman said, "Android is an open platform, and carrier and
original equipment manufacturer partners are free to decide which applications
and services to include on their Android phones. We do not require carriers or
manufacturers to include Google Search or Google applications on
Google's Seoul office was also raided in May following allegations that its
software was illegally collecting data on users' geographic locations.
tie-up for Dell
The world's second-largest computer company, Dell, has agreed to start
manufacturing smart-phones running software from China's premier search portal,
Baidu. The move challenges Apple, which plans to open a store in Hong Kong and
is angling for a bigger slice of the 900 million user market in China with its
Dell's new handsets will run the Baidu Yi mobile platform, which was announced
last week to offer users greater wireless access to its own services that
include search, maps and an e-reader. The software supports Google's Android
platform that is currently the best-selling smart-phone operating system
worldwide, with a 43.3 % market share. Baidu accounted for 75.9 % of China's
search market in the second quarter.
China's largest online commerce company, Alibaba, also unveiled mobile phone
software in July that allows users to shop online using cloud computing
Cyber-crime cost a staggering US$114 billion in the last year and claimed 431
million victims, according to security company Symantec. Cyber-attacks cost the
United States $32 billion in direct financial losses, China around $25 billion,
Brazil $15 billion and India $4 billion, the Symantec's 2011 Norton Cybercrime
Over two-thirds of Internet users have been victims of cyber-crime at some
stage, which totals more than a million victims per day; 85% of respondents to
the Norton survey, carried out in 24 countries with 20,000 people, claimed they
had been victims of a digital scourge that is rapidly spreading to mobile
The report said men between the ages of 18 and 31 who access the Internet from
their mobile phones are most likely to be targeted; 80% in the group reported
being the victim of a mobile cyber-crime.
Social networking websites were also cited as being prime hunting grounds for
scammers and digital criminals who can easily prey on a click-happy contingent
of users. A disconnect with the threat was also evident as 74% of those
surveyed stated that they were aware of cyber-crime but failed to take any
precautions to prevent it.
Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock is being widely tipped as the next to go at the
struggling former Internet pioneering portal, days after he dumped chief
executive Carol Bartz through a phone call on September 6.
Bartz, who joined Yahoo as CEO in early 2009, didn't take kindly to being
fired. "These people f***ed me over," she said of Yahoo’s board of directors,
according to Forbes and other reports. "[T]hey"re trying to show they"re not
the doofuses that they are."
Third Point LLC, which holds more than 5% of Yahoo, may agree with her view of
the board's ability. The New York investment firm has publicly called for
Bostock to go. The stock value of Yahoo, formerly worth $100 billion, has more
than halved under his three-year leadership.
Normal mortals armed with a steady telescope may be able to see the brightest
supernova of its kind in 25 years over the next few days. The discovery of the
self-destructing star was announced on Wednesday by astronomers in California.
The event - an "instant cosmic classic" according to Peter Nugent, senior
scientist at UC Berkeley who first spotted it - took place in the Pinwheel
Galaxy, on the edge of the easily identifiable Ursa Major constellation, or Big
Its luminosity will increase to an expected peak between September 9 and 12,
when it will be visible with the use of even a small telescope, Reuters
reported. Look out for a blueish-white spot just above and to the left of the
last two stars in the Big Dipper handle.
"There are billions of stars in a galaxy. This supernova will outshine them all
this weekend," Nugent told Reuters.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.