An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...
Windows Phone 7.5 Will Vaguely Arrive Sometime in the Next 7 to 14 Days
I want to believe that it's going to be different this time, and that with the first major update to Windows Phone—called Windows Phone 7.5 and code-named Mango—Microsoft will finally get it right. And certainly, it can only get better, given the hard time the company had getting previous, smaller updates out to the few existing customers who were brave enough to buy into this excellent but unproven new mobile OS. But this week, the company announced (sort of) how it was going to deliver Windows Phone 7.5 to customers. And it's not exactly the clarity we were hoping for. "We now expect to start rolling [version 7.5] out in the next week or two," Eric Hautala, a Windows Phone general manager, wrote in a blog post. You ... expect to roll it out? Can't you just roll it out? On a certain day? The issue here, of course, is the bizarre matrix of countries, wireless carriers, and devices, each of which will get this update on different days over the next... what? weeks? months? We don't know. Come on, guys. You need to get this one right.
Verizon CEO: Windows Phone Will Beat RIM BlackBerry
At least one person is feeling better about Windows Phone's chances. Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam—previously no fan of Windows Phone—said this week that Microsoft's mobile OS would beat BlackBerry in the market. "Over the next 12 months I think the [wireless] carriers [in the United States] will coalesce ... around a third ecosystem ... and you will start to see one emerge as a legitimate third ecosystem," he said. "In my opinion, it'll be between RIM and Microsoft, and I expect Microsoft to come out victorious." Hey, so do I!
I Love the Smell of Monopoly Abuse Accusations in the Morning
This week, Google found itself playing a central role in the preview of its coming antitrust trial, with Chairman Eric Schmidt playing the role of the Emperor from Star Wars and pretending that his company was simply doing no evil while stomping all over its competitors. But Eric Schmidt wasn't the only one admitting that Google had a monopoly, though his priceless "WHAT?" expression at any hint of impropriety was perhaps matched only by the NBA's Charles Oakley after a hard foul in the early 1990s. (Look it up.) Google's would-be competitors, gathering in Washington DC to enjoy the carnival that was Schmidt's Senate hearing, uttered the word "monopoly" so many times this week, it was almost comical. This company is on a crazy train barreling toward a confrontation in court with the federal government. I can't wait.
Just when you thought things couldn't get worse at the suddenly clueless HP, the PC giant decides to hire the most overrated tech executive in US history as its new CEO. Yes, I'm talking about Meg Whitman, who may or may not be the exact same person as former Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz. (Seriously, has anyone seen these two clowns in a room at the same time?) Regardless, she's not exactly a stellar candidate, and although, yes, she ran eBay on its way up, she also ejected safely from the company just after growth stopped. And ... well, that's all she's done. Qualified to run HP? Nope. But it could be worse: She could be running Yahoo!
Facebook Announces Something
Facebook yesterday demonstrated why we love Steve Jobs so much by putting on the most boring developer show ever, featuring why-is-this-guy-famous CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a host of other unrecognizable and uninteresting characters. Facebook announced some stuff—changes to its websites, blah, blah, blah—but I fell asleep about 10 minutes into it. Folks, if last week's BUILD conference keynote was an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10 (and it was), the Facebook announcement was about a 1. And I'm being kind.
Apple Circles October 4 as the Big Day ... For Something
Apple has allegedly pinpointed October 4 as The Big Day ... for something. There's no official announcement yet, and of course no hint whether it will involve an iPhone 5, an iPhone 4S, and/or new iPods. But this is Apple, so of course whatever legitimate news may be occurring is shunted aside so that we can focus on everyone's favorite little tech dandy. So let's speculate, shall we? An iPhone (or iPhones) is a lock, I'd say, since the new versions are overdue, to say the least. But what's up with the iPod? Usually Apple holds a September event to introduce new models, touching off a holiday-season buying frenzy. But here we are, with September almost over, and not even a hint of an announcement. Is Apple giving up on this still-lucrative market? I'd be amazed if they abandoned the iPod now, but I wouldn't be surprised to wake up one day and discover that the company had quietly updated the various models without holding a big event. And that, of course, would signal that the end was near. It's also possible, even likely, that Apple is waiting for the iPhone announcement for this, since the next iPod touch will be based on that new iPhone. A new iPad? I don't expect that until the spring, but I will offer up a theory that last week's revelations about Windows 8 were far better than Apple had anticipated, so expect the company to rejigger its iPad plans to counter that as well. Could that rush an iPad 3 to market this year? I doubt it, but this is Apple. So you just never know.
Samsung Vows to Take the Fight to Apple
Speaking of Apple, Samsung executives said this week that the company would be a lot more aggressive in dealing with the Cupertino juggernaught. As you may recall, the two companies are involved in a bloody patent spat, and Apple has thus far won a couple of important injunctions against Samsung in Europe that prevent the company from selling its iPad knockoff tablet there. So now Samsung is going Defcon-2 on Apple and will end Apple's "free ride" on the back of others' mobile industry patents. The guess here is that Samsung is waiting for Apple to announce its iPhone 5 and then it will swoop in with patent claims and demand that the handset not be sold in the United States (and elsewhere) until those claims are recognized. What's interesting about this fight, aside from the obvious, is that in addition to being mobile-industry competitors, Apple and Samsung are also big partners. In fact, Apple is Samsung's biggest customer, having spent almost $6 billion in the past year on Samsung parts, which it uses for various mobile devices. Something tells me this partnership ain't gonna last.
Apple Customers Are Lemmings (Come On, You Knew It Was True)
According to a UBS study, customers of Apple's iPhone are incredibly loyal to the device, and a stunning 89 percent of them say they will purchase a future iPhone model as their next handset. My guess is that this loyalty has less to do with an honest assessment of the competition and more to do with blind faith. Something tells me that a lot of these people have no idea there are better solutions out there. Open your eyes, people. It's time to end the "whack an app" style of phone usage and look for solutions that work the way you do and not vice versa.
Oracle Seeking $1.6 Billion from Google for Android Patent Infringement
Database giant Oracle is seeking a $1.6 billion payday from Google, whose Android mobile OS allegedly infringes on copyrights and patents related to Java, the development environment and runtime now owned by Oracle. (Oracle obtained Java when it purchased Sun Microsystems.) This sounds like a lot of money, but it's actually quite a bit less than the $6.1 billion it was originally seeking. Oracle first sued Google last year, but now the case is slowly winding toward court, with a trial expected to begin on October 31. You know, assuming Google doesn't just do the right thing first and pay up.
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Mary Jo, Leo, and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday, as usual, and it should be available for download by the end of the weekend on iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.
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