An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Nokia Adopts "Smoked by Windows Phone," Renames to "Lumia Challenge"
While the tech blogosphere is busy trying to rewrite history, Microsoft's "Smoked by Windows Phone" challenge has been enormously successful for one simple reason: Windows Phone really is more efficient than the iPhone or Android. So successful is this campaign, in fact, that Microsoft's close partner Nokia is adopting it for its own. Called the "Lumia Challenge" in Nokia form, the rules are identical: Users of other smartphones can take on a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone and see which is faster at accomplishing common tasks. I'll break the suspense and let you in on a little secret: The Lumia is going to win.
Microsoft Ups the Ante in Motorola Patent-Infringement Case
Microsoft this week filed a restraining order and offered a $300 million damages-liability bond in a bid to stave off a Motorola injunction request. This comes as the latest move in a twisting series of patent-infringement suits between the two companies, and is a response to a Motorola Mobility bid to halt the sales of Windows 7 and the Xbox 360, which it says infringes on Motorola patents. Microsoft and Motorola, of course, are just two of the companies currently suing the bejeezus out of each other, but this case is particularly interesting for a few reasons. First, Motorola Mobility is in the process of being purchased by Android maker Google, which has thus far largely escaped the legal infighting that has consumed the rest of the mobile market. And second, this case spans two countries, the United States and Germany, and has reached an interesting Defcon-2 phase in which actual product-injunction requests have been made. Microsoft has asked for an April hearing to clear things up. I recommend a cage match instead.
Google-Branded Tablet Will Appear in 2012, Says Wall Street Journal
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Google will sell ASUS co-branded Android-based tablets directly to consumers from its website starting later this year. I guess the company is trying to duplicate the success of its Nexus One smartphone, which .... well, let's just say that particular device dropped off the face of the earth. What Google is trying to duplicate—because, remember, there is absolutely zero evidence that this company has ever had an original idea of its own—is the success of Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets. And you thought Microsoft was late to the tablet game. These two companies have their faces so far in Apple's playbook right now that the Cupertino juggernaut could break a couple of noses if it just stopped short for a moment.
Will Factory Sweatshops Be Apple's Vietnam?
An audit released by the Fair Labor Association this week suggests that Apple's comments about it really caring for the Chinese workers who make all of its products are, well, complete nonsense. According to the audit, these workers routinely work more than 60 hours a week, often for more than 7 days in a row without a single 24-hour break. There are serious health concerns in these factories, especially regarding aluminum dust in the air. There have been two explosions at these factories in the past year alone, almost 140 illnesses tied to chemical cleaners used on new iPhone screens, and let's not forget the numerous worker suicides. But hey, at least we get all those iPhones and iPads, and Apple gets to retain its amazing margins. What's the worry? It's not as if Apple knew this was happening and did nothing about it. I mean, Apple really cares about these people. Really.
RIM Considers a Sale. But What Man Would Want You Now?
Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse at Research In Motion (RIM), Friday came and, well, things just got worse. The new CEO, Thorsten Heins, looked to be RIM's version of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (i.e., a false front for the real leader), but this week he surprised virtually everyone who's familiar with RIM by not mindlessly toeing the company line. He noted that he might have to actually—gulp—sell the struggling company in order to save it. Oddly enough, the one company that's come up as the logical buyer is Apple. But Apple has just enough of a hubris problem to never pull this particular trigger. And let's be honest, an Apple purchase of RIM would be a bloodbath: All Apple would want is RIM's technologies, patents, and a handful of employees at most. Such a purchase could send all of Canada into an economic freefall.
Best Buy to Close 50 Stores in United States
Wracked by mammoth quarterly losses of $1.7 billion, America's last big-box electronics chain, Best Buy, announced this week that it would close 50 of its 1,400 stores and focus on creating smaller mobile-oriented shops. I recommend the name "Radio Shack." And though Best Buy is one of the few retail stores I visit with any regularity—usually so that I can go hands-on with something before actually buying it at Amazon.com—there is an evil little part of me that will never forgive this chain for destroying my beloved Lechmere's. (Look it up.) I can't wait for this to happen to Wal-Mart next.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
This week, Andrew Zarian, and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast on Tuesday, and Mary Jo Foley, Leo Laporte, and I will record the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Friday, a day later than usual, because I was traveling Thursday. As always, these episodes should be available soon, generally in both audio in video formats, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.
The Paul Thurrott Mobile App: Is That a Paul in Your Pocket?
If you haven't seen them, we're now offering Paul Thurrott: Pocket Tech apps for both the iPhone and Windows Phone, bringing all of my technical content to your favorite mobile device in a fun, on-the-go format. We'll have an Android version available soon as well, I'm told. And who knows? A Windows 8 app would make plenty of sense too.
Download for Windows Phone - Download for iPhone
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