Apr 25, 2011

ARM predicts dual-core Cortex-A15 devices in late 2012, quad-core variants 'later on'

Smartphones and tablets, the two hottest categories of consumer devices right now, are dominated by ARM processor designs, so when the company speaks up about its product roadmap, we're inclined to listen in close. The next generation of ARM system-on-chip has been dubbed Cortex-A15 and was expected to ship in 2013, but that's now been accelerated slightly to late 2012, which is when we're told to expect actual devices on sale with A15 silicon on board. Single- and dual-core variants will get us started, before quad-core options start filtering through in 2013. ARM promises a stunning fivefold improvement in performance over current Cortex-A9 SOCs and already has NVIDIA, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments signed up as licensees for that new hotness. So now even Samsung's "desktop-class" 2GHz dual-core chip that's slated for 2012 has a reason to look over its shoulder. Happy times!

Apple sues Samsung: here's the deal

So we all know that Apple's suing Samsung alleging myriad IP infringements, but you may not know what all the fuss is about. On one hand, the lawsuit is surprising because Apple gets much of the goodies it needs to build its iconic iPhones, iPads, and Macs from Sammy, and common sense dictates that you don't bite the hand that feeds you. On the other hand, however, folks in Cupertino don't take too kindly to copycats, and while it's hard to put a dollar value on the brand equity Apple currently enjoys, this lawsuit shows it's valuable enough for Apple to risk upsetting its relationship with Samsung and jeopardizing its supply chain. Having given the court docs a good read, here's our rundown of what's going on.

According to Apple's complaint, phones from Samsung (particularly the Galaxy S variety) and its Galaxy Tab are eroding the efficacy of Apple's carefully crafted brand. That brand is built, in no small part, upon the trade dress (aka the appearance and packaging) of its iDevices and its trademarked iOS icons, and Apple has spent over two billion dollars on advertising from 2007-2010 to stake out a little space in everyone's brain that associates the iPhone's looks and its progeny's derivative forms with Apple. It's worked quite well too, as Apple revealed (for the first time) in its complaint that it has sold over 60 million iPod touches, 108 million iPhones, and 19 million iPads total. Problem is, Apple views the Galaxy devices, their TouchWiz UI, and packaging -- with their Apple-esque appearance -- as illegal infringers on its hard-earned mental real estate, and it's suing Sammy to stop the squatting and pay for its IP trespassing ways.

Of course, Apple isn't just dragging Samsung to court for cashing in on the iPhone image in our hearts and minds -- Jobs and company have accused Sammy of infringing several of their patents, too. Apple asserts that TouchWiz and the Galaxy S infringe upon its iOS home screen and iPhone 3G design patents. Additionally, the complaint says Samsung has run afoul of several Apple utility patents for: the iOS instant messaging interface, the "bounce back" effect you get upon scrolling too far in a list or window, control and status widgets, UI status windows that disappear a set time after being opened, and scrolling and ellipse multi-touch gesture recognition. In light of these alleged mass IP infringements, Apple's asking the court for preliminary and permanent injunctions to take Samsung's Galaxy devices off the market, in addition to the usual request for punitives, triple damages and lost profits. We've already heard that Samsung will "respond strongly" to Apple's show of legal force, but time will tell if Sammy's strong response comes in, or out of court. 

Apple beats estimates with Q2 earnings: $24.67 billion revenue, $5.99 billion profit

Apple just announced its earnings for the second quarter of the year, and it's once again beat estimates, with it reporting earnings of $6.40 a share, a total of $24.67 billion in revenue, and a net profit of $5.99 billion. As for the sales breakdown everyone's waiting for, Apple says it sold a whopping 18.6 million iPhones in the quarter (up 113 percent over the previous year, and ahead of estimates of 16 million), plus 4.69 million iPads (actually less than the expected 6.29 million, apparently due to supply issues), and 3.76 million Macs, which represents a 28 percent jump over the same quarter a year ago. Not surprisingly, iPods are the one area that continues to slow, with sales of 9.02 million representing a 17 percent decline over the previous year -- the iPod touch accounted for more than half of those sales. One other big bright spot for the company is the Asia Pacific region, where it saw revenue grow a staggering 151 percent year-over-year.

Interestingly, Apple isn't providing any specific sales numbers for the iPad 2 -- it's only saying that it sold every iPad 2 it could make in the quarter, and that it's working hard to get it into the hands of customers as fast as it can. It didn't add much more when pressed on the issue later during its earnings call either, with it only going as far as to say that the iPad has the "mother of all backlogs."

US Army developing Android-based smartphone framework and apps

The US Army is calling upon Android app developers to help make military life a little less stressful -- and, perhaps, a lot safer. Under a new Army framework known as the Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment (CE), third-party developers will be able to create and submit tactical Android apps, using the military's CE Product Developer's Kit. The framework, originally prototyped by the folks over at MITRE, represents the latest phase in the Army's ongoing campaign to incorporate smartphone technology on the battlefield. Any app operating under the CE system will be interoperable across all command systems, and, as you'd expect, will be tightly secured. The kit won't be released to developers until July, but the Army has already begun tinkering with its baseline suite of Mission Command apps, which includes tools designed to facilitate mapping, blue force tracking, and Tactical Ground Reporting. On the hardware side of the equation, the Army is planning to deploy a new handheld known as the Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P. The two-pound JBC-P is essentially a military-friendly smartphone designed to run on a variety of existing radio networks, while supporting the full suite of forthcoming apps. The JBC-P will be tested this October, and will likely be issued on a wider basis in 2013.

Exclusive: White iPhone 4 lands at Vodafone UK

Well, would you have a gander at that? That, friends, is Apple's long-awaited, hardly-forgotten white iPhone 4, and so far as we can tell, this is actually the real deal. We've seen retailers making space for the elusive handset over the past few months, and earlier today, we heard that Vodafone UK's inventory systems were showing the white iPhone 4 as shipping in. Now, we've secured a few images of a 16GB model from a separate source that has seemingly made its way into the hands of one lucky customer (read: bloke) over in Britain. 

As the story goes, the salesperson rang it up as a black iPhone to help facilitate the transaction, and shortly after the sale went down, Voda sent out a notice to halt sale of these gems "until next week." Just so you know, the MC604B/A model number shown here is particularly interesting when compared to our own in-house UK iPhone 4; the latter, which is also a 16GB edition, sports a model number of MC603B/A. We suspect we aren't going too far out on a limb by suggesting that the "3" and "4" are there to represent hue variations, and if you'd like to stretch the theory one step further, MC605B/A represents the 32GB black iPhone 4. In other words, don't be shocked when the white 32 gigger rolls in as MC606B/A. So, is this the first legitimate sign that a white iPhone 4 is but days away from going on sale? We're hardly experts in meteorology, but it sure felt like spring in Londontown today.

P.S. - 9 to 5 Mac suggests that it'll be landing on April 27th, at least in the Netherlands.

Rugged, Android-powered Casio G'zOne Commando coming to Verizon on April 28th

After releasing a long line of rugged dumbphones, it looks like Casio has done the inevitable and given its durable G'zOne handsets the Android treatment. According to screen grabs sent in by two anonymous tipsters, the G'zOne Commando C771 combines a macho design with a 5 megapixel camera and unspecified version of the OS -- all while meeting military specifications for water, shock, and dust resistance, of course. No word on pricing, but both shots reveal it's slated to go on sale April 28th.

Froyo hits Motorola Defy, leaves a lasting impression

Until now, the best way to get Froyo on your Defy was to drop the thing while eating at a TCBY -- thankfully, the water and drop-resistant Motorola handset could take the abuse. Things are a bit easier now, however; the company announced today that the rugged handset is finally getting an Android 2.2 update, hot on the heels of Verizon's Samsung Fascinate -- half a year after the operating system first hit the market and a bit later than originally rumored.


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