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* Posts by ThomH

1838 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Samsung, Google whip out Android 4.0 Nexus

ThomH
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Should be an easy win

The S2 runs Android 2.x. This handset runs 4.0. 4.0 uses the GPU to accelerate 2d drawing, 2.x uses the GPU only for compositing.

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Apple: 4m iPhone 4S handsets sold, thank you very much

ThomH
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Fact check

iTunes is not required for the 4S or any iOS 5 handset. iCloud is accessible from any web browser.

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ThomH
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It's the earnings call tomorrow

So Apple's plan, if the 4m is inaccurate, is to hope nobody mentions the press release from today, to admit they were lying or to commit a federal offence by providing false answers to shareholders.

To suggest that Apple are lying is therefore stupid. To up vote others for suggesting it is to show yourself to be so biased as to be incapable of rational thought. Attacking them on subjective grounds - that they charge too much, that their handset is the wrong shape, that they put their customers at a disadvantage by vetting apps according to ill-defined criteria, etc - is one thing, spouting easily disproven conspiracy theories is quite another.

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Samsung demands iPhone 4S ban in Japan and Oz

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@Swarthy

Apple's counterargument rests on the chip suppliers having acquired the licences, I think. I'm not sufficiently aware of the facts to have much of an opinion on that though.

There are obvious exceptions but courts generally don't order mediation as a remedy since that would usurp them as the final word on legality. What's likely happened here is that the court has said that the points Samsung have raised are the sort of thing it thinks should first be discussed reasonably outside the courtroom. If so then failure to mediate before making it a court issue wouldn't affect the legal outcome but the court would be much more likely to signal its displeasure by ordering a token remedy — like finding that Apple must pay Samsung total damages of £1 and that Samsung are liable for costs, for example. Though it's a safe bet that won't happen here because Samsung will act appropriately; I'm not meaning to suggest that Samsung have or will act in any way that the court considers inappropriate.

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ThomH
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@Nathan Hobbs, etc

Kevin argues that the available legal protections are insane if an airplane mode indicator is protectable. You say that his argument is invalid because making something rectangular is protectable.

Perhaps what you can learn from this is that not every comment is a thinly veiled partisan attack?

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ThomH
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@AC

Obvious points: there's a difference between assaulting someone and defending yourself — attempts to draw moral equivalency feel unconvincing to me, especially as in the legal system you can't just ignore the trolls. Also, Samsung also not only can but does use its patents on actual inventions in order to further its business, through the funds that it accrues under FRAND licensing terms. It voluntarily bound itself to that sort of licensing when it pooled its patents during the usual industry standard development process.

I think their only hope is on the interface stuff. I'm not sure what the normal preliminary relief is, and hence whether a banning order would be considered disproportionate by the court, but it wouldn't be surprising if Apple were about to find out.

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C and Unix pioneer Dennis Ritchie reported dead

ThomH
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I quite agree

Goldberg & Robson's Smalltalk-80 book is the only other thing I can think of that even comes close, but K&R is the gold standard. Ritchie did tremendous work bringing elegance to the internal structure and organisation of computer systems and deserves every compliment already posted here and a million more.

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Apple wins for now: no Galaxy 10.1 in Oz

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The votes establish one thing

Specifically, the balance of rationality amongst El Reg's voters.

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Pay Jobs due respect - by crushing the empire he created

ThomH
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Not entirely accurate

Sure, it's an obtuse pile of crap but — even if we ignore the pedantic point that it predates even the iPod — it was written to simply people doing basic things with their devices. Put the CD in and the music is ripped and stored somewhere appropriate automatically. Connect your device and the music is copied over automatically. Those are the actual basic things: getting hold of the music, getting the music onto the device. iTunes not only doesn't prevent either, it completely automates them.

iOS 5 and iCloud are probably the real answer to how iTunes fits into the canon though: it doesn't. iTunes needn't be part of the loop at all unless you want it to be. Which is good news.

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Stallman: Jobs exerted 'malign influence' on computing

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OS X has its own precedents though

Dial the clock back to 1999 and look at Apple then. The difficulty is remaining relevant and providing a computer that can attract developers and do anything useful while Windows has 95% of the market and desktop applications are much more relevant than now. So Apple did the smart thing to stay alive: they embraced the open source community, combined what they perceived to be the best parts of the then competing platforms and the one they'd bought (ie, UNIX underneath, NextStep as the basis for the UI and for applications, get Microsoft on board to supply Office and Internet Explorer), published quickly and updated often.

That set the precedent from which OS X can't easily retreat. It's build in a certain technological way and it'd be neither easy or particularly desirable to start swapping major underlying parts in and out now. It's a much better idea to continue to build upwards.

Conversely, skip forward to 2007 for the iPhone and you've got a company swimming in iPod money and more able to dictate terms. So they ban Flash, close off as much as possible and a year later when they start doing apps they insist on being the single source and — for a while — being the only company that can even supply development tools.

So Stallman's judgment of the company is probably better measured against the iOS experience, which is Apple at its most confident doing everything it thinks is right, than then OS X experience, which is derived from Apple trying to remain relevant and to attract users.

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ThomH
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@Ben: I'm not even sure it was the mistake people are making out

CUPS was first released in 1999. It was incorporated into OS X in 2002, at which point Apple's contributions started. In 2007 Apple hired the main developer and purchased the code, yet the contributions continue.

So Apple have been contributing for 75% of its public life. They've owned it for 33% but have continued to publish.

The GPL, and all other licences, affect what you can do with code you acquire under that licence. As a general rule, they don't bind the original author. Since Apple bought the code, they've acquired it other than under GPL and aren't required to continue to keep it open source. It's almost certain they don't own the whole thing (as it's very likely that at least one third party contributed something under the GPL and didn't subsequently sell that to Apple), but they've continued to release what they own which is most probably a very significant portion.

So the conclusion that Apple sponsor CUPS, and own a portion of it that they release even though they don't have to is correct and is in their favour. Any assertion that because Apple bought it or because it already existed they haven't contributed anything is just plain false on the facts.

Of course, it's still a question of an overall assessment. If I found out that Stalin was always very good at gardening I wouldn't therefore conclude that he was a really nice guy.

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ThomH
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An objective observer might say...

... it's good that where Apple have benefitted from open source software, they've ultimately given back to the community.

A cynic might add that while it is objectively a good thing to have happened, it's likely Apple acted through legal obligation.

Only a partisan would go so far as to claim misdoing. And, in one case above, to just start making things up about the FreeBSD kernel.

That all being said, Stallman is making a value judgment about the overall balance of Apple's business position in recent years. So CUPS, WebKit, Mach, LLVM/Clang, OpenCL, etc are already factored into his conclusion. Apple's contributions to those projects don't 'disprove' him per se.

My take is that I don't agree with him because I think his world view is too simplistic. For example, if you look at what Apple's stance on Flash has done to the market overall, it's probably been positive. I don't suggest Apple had altruism in mind, simply that their acts have been to the community's benefit, possibly even despite their intentions. But Stallman doesn't seem able to distinguish between intent and effect. I also agree with the poster above that speaking out now, in these terms, is likely to be more of a hindrance than a benefit to his cause.

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Apple cofounder Steve Jobs is dead at 56

ThomH
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I don't think that's quite the issue

The comments have mostly been quite balanced — see the large number of people saying essentially "great man, but his flaws stopped me from buying the company's products". Those struggling to be heard are the predictable pack of dogmatic knee-jerk critics, jumping on the death of a human being as another opportunity to pull out their soapbox and preach.

Adulatory comments aren't hard to come by but at least here they're by no means in the majority.

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iPhone 5: Apple 4S, pundits 0

ThomH
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The MSX was poorly implemented though

Video contents had to be posted off via port IO (ie, a very costly form of data access) to the dedicated video chip, which didn't support a hardware scroll. As a result, the first specified version of the machine couldn't smoothly scroll in any general sense. Compare that to the hardware video abilities of a Commodore 64 or the stuff a machine like the Spectrum with the video contents right there in RAM could do and you had a machine consumers just didn't want. Specifications were improved in later versions of the standard but it was too little, too late for most of the world.

Android has a few issues here and there but no huge roadblock of a problem like tying everyone to an uncompetitive hardware design.

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The iPhone 4S in depth: More than just a vestigial 'S'

ThomH
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@AC

The 4S isn't behind the Galaxy S 2, though you're right that it's very hard to imagine it'll still look good on numbers a year from now.

The new iPhone has a significantly faster GPU and a higher resolution screen; the jury's out on relative CPU speeds since Apple haven't supplied sufficient details but parity is likely. The S2 is also slightly hampered because Android used the GPU only in a very limited fashion (ie, for games and for composition but not for normal painting) prior to 3.x, which has yet to make it to phones.

Conversely the S2 has a significantly larger, OLED screen and a whole bunch of other features that sound a bit silly one by one but add up: a memory card slot, an FM radio, a replaceable battery, etc.

Even ignoring whether anybody actually cares, I'm not sure you can say either has the better hardware without a vested interest in reaching that conclusion.

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ThomH
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@Monty Burns

No, he doesn't. Or he'd be comparing it to the HDMI out on iPhones, which like the HDMI out on phones running every other operating system doesn't need an ATV, just a £10 cable.

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ThomH
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What fanbois?

Show me the fanbois.

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ThomH
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Part of it is software, probably

They seemed to suggest that the camera being directly on the lock screen, etc was an iOS 5 feature rather than a 4S feature. It wouldn't be unreasonable to suppose they've optimised the software elsewhere if getting to the camera quickly is something they suddenly care about. We'll know in a week or so, I guess.

For my money, Apple's numbers are probably massaged and I don't recall it ever being much of an issue anyway.

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ThomH
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@AC

I disagree that Nokia is more innovative than Apple on the basis that neither of them, or indeed anyone else, has produced anything even slightly innovative for several years. All we've seen for a very long time in hardware is piecemeal tiny-step evolution. Neither Apple nor Nokia has innovated at all and I think it's actually unfair to drag Nokia into the conversation when it's currently Apple harking essentially that, after more than a year of working on it, it's managed to put a faster CPU into their phone. If anything Nokia seems to be keeping its head down and just getting on with the long haul towards its software sea change, which is very hard to criticise.

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Samsung seeks bans on the iPhone 4S

ThomH
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If Siri isn't available, they can still use voice recognition

Siri isn't voice recognition and the iPhone has had normal, offline voice recognition built in for years. Arguing that Siri is voice recognition is like arguing that because Safari uses the touchscreen, the touchscreen isn't available when the user is offline.

So, in contrast to the GSII or Desire Z, a hypothetical user will find that Siri is available when online rather than not available at all under any circumstances.

Based on the demonstration and the simple obvious facts, a real user will quickly find that they don't want to use either Siri or voice recognition, both being essentially useless marketing puff. They'll subsequently then fail to notice whether the service is available on the handset they happen to own on the connection they currently have.

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Ten reasons why you shouldn't buy an iPhone 5

ThomH
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Embracing the adversarial system?

You wouldn't expect an article entitled "Ten reasons why you shouldn't buy an iPhone 5" to be a balanced summary. In fact you would expect it explicitly not to include any arguments in favour whatsoever. It's just a summary of the arguments in favour of a viewpoint; the conclusion precedes the discussion.

Obviously I'm confident that the opposing case will be forthcoming. Our favourite irreverent technical publication wouldn't descend to taking sides, surely?

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Chrome browser 'is becoming Number Two'

ThomH
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Per the linked articles

StatCounter don't consider the iPad to be mobile. Their iPhone + iPod Touch share is 23.93%. Their number for Opera's share across all mobile versions (ie, Mini + Mobile + the various fringe versions like that in the Nintendo DS) is 22.8%. Nokia come in third with 16.51%, then BlackBerry on 14.28% and finally Android on 12.85%.

Net Applications count the iPad as mobile and don't combine Opera versions the numbers are arguably skewed — 55.6% to Safari, 18.9% to Opera Mini, 16% to Android and 4.7% to the Symbian browser.

The disparity on Nokia/Symbian numbers is the oddest thing. I think Android's showing is consistent with the way many Android devices are sold, i.e. without cheap data. People can want to use apps and have a decent browser available just in case without intending to browse often when out and about.

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Amazon to whup Apple rivals when Kindle Fire hits UK

ThomH
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Not just the Apple price point

They tried to sell near identikit products, in HP's case with significantly reduced functionality, at the same price point as the runaway market leader. Amazon seem to be the first company to have hit on the idea of doing a device that is both distinct and priced attractively.

Unless Microsoft do something really amazing, my feeling is that it's a two-horse race from here on out. The interesting thing will be whether Amazon's forked Android slowly diverges from the Google original on technical grounds so as to make it effectively a different target.

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ThomH
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Looking at precedent

The Kindle 3 launched in the US at $189 (sans tax; see the many articles on Amazon's US avoidance of sales taxes) and the UK at £152 (fully taxed), both back in July last year. At the time the exchange rate was around $1.50 to the pound and VAT was 17.5%, so a literal translation of the US price with no other adjustments would have been about £148.

I therefore think it's likely we'll get a pretty accurate conversion rate for the Fire.

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New iPhone offered for sale via unauthorised outlets

ThomH
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No you don't

You might want to catch up on the announced iOS 5 features.

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Apple to Oz court: ‘Our products are lame, really’

ThomH
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@Phalamir: more likely to be about quantification

Without being strong on Australian law, I would expect the argument (which I'm not necessarily endorsing, voters) went: Samsung should face measures because they use technology covered by our patents without permission; if you accept that we are entitled to relief because of the patent infringement then such relief should be to bar them from the market because otherwise we lose out very significantly.

So Apple aren't arguing that Samsung's wrong is taking away potential customers, they're arguing that Samsung's wrong is patent infringement. Only if that wrong is established then will the other comments become relevant.

Of course, El Reg's story is correct: if Apple think that a customer lost once is a customer lost forever then they don't sound that confident in their products.

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Amazon intros $199 movie Kindle

ThomH
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Best of a bad set of options

The touch screens employed by other readers require something to be attached above the display. That reduces clarity a little, which is really important when you're trying to sell to people who value the printed page. I guess they've gone infrared because it looks over the screen from the edges. It also needn't necessarily be one of those cheap trip-the-wire things they had in the 80s, since doing it optically with two or three 1d cameras is now completely viable economically.

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ThomH
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That's not a problem

While I was in the US I was able to use my UK Amazon account to order purchases to a US address, even while keeping my UK address as the billing address linked to my card. So you should be able to head to amazon.com, order whatever you want and have it delivered to your brother-in-law.

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PlayBook stock mountain: RIM slashes prices

ThomH
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What are you talking about?

It's a name sure to attract every fan of basketball or American football living in the UK.

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Star Trek TNG revamped for Blu-ray in 2012

ThomH
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"exactly as they first aired"

Is that in the sense of exactly as they first aired as long as you didn't look at any of the bits they've almost certainly cropped or stretched to make a widescreen image?

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Schoolteachers can't teach our kids to code, say engineers

ThomH
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@Leigh Brown

There's one in the Window of the Maplin on the north side of Waterloo bridge, so presumably you can buy them at Maplin.

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WikiLeaks memoir races to 537th on bestseller chart

ThomH
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Per http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3493498/Katie-Price-book-outselling-Gordon-Browns.html Katie Price was still managing to sell almost 1,000 copies every three days of 'Pushed to the Limit' (described as "the latest instalment of the model’s autobiography") after 10 months on the market.

Per the report linked to by El Reg, the best selling book last week — One Day — managed to sell about 14,443 copies every three days.

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ThomH
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Not especially surprising

Wikileaks published highly compelling evidence that a bunch of agencies that operate effectively above the law were — quelle surprise — acting as though above the law. If, like me, you think that greater accountability leads to better governance then that's a good thing. There's the counter-argument that what they did was likely to endanger actual operatives currently in the field and to negatively bias diplomatic relationships. I'm optimistic that the input of outlets like The Guardian will have caused the advantages to outweigh the disadvantages but the truth is that we'll probably never have a complete picture.

That all being said, Assange has always come off as so ostentatiously trying to benefit personally from the Wikileaks disclosures that you have to wonder about his motives. Not only do I not for a second believe that he's acting altruistically, but I don't even see him as an important component of the Wikileaks story. He didn't found the organisation and it's pretty obvious that not only do they not really need a public face but that even if they did they'd have been able to pick from a thousand others.

I'm therefore not really sure why I'd want to read a biography — he's a person with mostly negative traits that hasn't had any original ideas or built anything significant.

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Android outsells Apple 2:1

ThomH
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Quite a useful comparison

Per the text of the article, the figures show that:

(i) Android-aligned players dominate the market and Android's share continues to grow; but

(ii) not at the expense of Apple, which also continues to grow; whereas

(iii) RIM appears to be in decline.

This information is relevant and useful to us as IT professionals because the secondary markets (e.g., for application software) more or less break down along those same lines.

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Samsung plots 3G iPhone, iPad bans in the Netherlands

ThomH
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They'd just lose the business

Apple source screens and panels from multiple suppliers; all that would happen would be that somebody else would step up production. So Apple would be barely affected and Samsung would lose a lot of money.

Conversely, Samsung obviously have a government-granted monopoly on anything they've patented, so — without having an opinion about the merits of the case otherwise — it makes sense to kick back there.

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Why was Duke Nukem Forever s**t?

ThomH
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It was nothing like a game from 1998

Almost purely linear levels pushing you relentlessly from cut scene to cut scene are a much newer invention. As the cost of assets has gone up the temptation to limit the ability for the player to explore has raised proportionally, presumably in order to ensure that all the money is on show. A bog-standard shooter from 1998 would have been endless indistinguishable corridors and caves and an insistence on making you find coloured key cards and buttons.

As for the feedback, I notice they've stuck to asking how much you approve of Duke's style of humour rather than anything about the specific execution. So that's: "Well, obviously you have a problem with the style of content" as a counterargument to "It's just not funny".

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'iPhone 5' chippery captured on camera

ThomH
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It's 1420mAh

So 1430mAh wouldn't be a massive increase. Indeed, since that number comes from the tear downs that were carried out immediately after the device first launched it probably wouldn't even be surprising if Apple had silently substituted the one for the other in the existing model.

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Samsung preps anti-iPhone 5 lawsuit before it's even out

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@Lars

That's simply untrue. Nokia sued first. See e.g. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/22/nokia_sues_apple_iphone/ and, about a week later, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/28/apple_will_fight_nokia/

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ThomH
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@hexx

Nah, it's just the point that Loyal Commanders makes is valid — there's a distinction between actionable copying (which relates to what's legally protectable and so invokes a whole bunch of other considerations) and merely following another company into a newly energetic segment of an existing market.

So if you want to establish that Samsung copied Apple then the test is: what have they done, that Apple did first, that wasn't obvious or taken from an even earlier source? I think multitouch gestures are the only potentially relevant thing (which Apple own by acquisition, but you get the idea), but Apple appear to be claiming ownership of the tablet form factor, the famous rounded corners, etc. So Samsung appear to be saying, you know, we've done a whole lot of hard graft engineering on radio technology and if you want to start being legal about it then bring it on.

I guess the iPhone 5 element is to threaten to hit Apple when it'll hurt them more and to make sure their threat gets the best possible airplay.

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ThomH
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Apple didn't start it, they just jumped in with unprecedented vigour. As far as I can make out, Nokia started it by suing Apple in 2009. Apple have since gone after HTC (starting in 2010) and Samsung (this year), neither company having previously had much of an interest in legal pursuits.

My phone's an iPhone, but I'm with Samsung on this one. I'm a turn the other cheek person in any situation with serious consequences, but I doubt this is anything more than rounding errors on the Samsung and Apple books, so letting Apple know that it can't bully everyone into submission feels like the right way forward.

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Apple MacBook Air 11in Core i5 notebook

ThomH
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The battery, presumably

Though 18 months may be a little bit of artistic licence. If Google is to be believed, the Airs ship with a lithium polymer battery, which normally means about 300 charge cycles. If you do a complete charge slightly more often than every other day then you get 18 months.

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How Apple's Lion won't let you trash documents

ThomH
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@tnovelli

You're quite right — no matter how much someone might want to buy a new Mac with 10.6 or earlier on it, nobody is able to supply that. So customers can't react to Lion in the same way as many reacted to Vista. However it's still worth drawing a distinction because most of the Vista story was customer reaction.

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ThomH
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Not a Vista for one important reason...

... its perceived faults haven't dented its sales figures. I wouldn't consider the comparison to be appropriate if the company doesn't see any response to its decisions.

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ThomH
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This isn't a way of protecting you from yourself

It's a versioning system, tacked on in such a way that the writer has found it to have at least one significant flaw. Apple's intention isn't to save you from accidental deletion, it's to retain extra historical information much like a common or garden source control repository. They just seem to have done a less than spectacular job of the implementation.

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Schoolkids learn coding at GCSE level in curriculum trial

ThomH
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@Arnold Liberman

I can tell you that Pascal (via Turbo Pascal, anachronistically) was still on the roster for Computer Science A-Level when I left sixth form in 1999. I don't recall any programming cropping up at GCSE level or earlier but there weren't any sort of computer-related courses at my school so that may not be typical.

At a guess, A-Level changes probably happened in or around the transition to fully separated AS and A2 curricula — around 2000.

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Google plan to kill Javascript with Dart, fight off Apple

ThomH
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It's the design pattern problem too

Though I guess if there were a standard library, that would set the tone for design patterns. So solving the one would solve the other.

That said, like you I think Google have picked the wrong direction. I'd have thought the best solution would be to pick any of the Javascript-with-extensions or compiles-to-Javascript languages like CoffeeScript, Objective-J, etc (but probably not those, I just picked some examples I'd heard of), produce a decent development kit for free and build that into their browser. So they win developers through good tools, the code works everywhere Javascript works, but in Chrome it works a lot faster and with less overhead. Let the market persuade the other browser vendors to built the language in and don't worry about companies like Microsoft that are perennially behind in implementing web technology support.

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Battery deal points to thinner, lighter iPad 3

ThomH
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It's because Apple aren't going to tell us

Apple are a prominent technology company, who are sometimes the first to succeed commercially in a field. They sell only about a dozen different products in total, so changes to any product are newsworthy. However they don't generally announce their plans in advance, so there's often speculation. Sites like El Reg like to carry stories that their readers will find interesting so they like to provide information that allows their readers to speculate.

So: gussying is caused by the official information vacuum.

Some companies don't adopt the same tactic because they're more connected to outside ecosystems, making it more likely that people would just feed on information supplied by another company instead and forget about them.

If you look at the phenomenon of vapourware you'll see that some companies have played exactly the other way — releasing information about products that they never launch, sometimes maliciously.

So it's definitely not true that everybody else would play it like Apple if they could, even if it is true that Apple's ability to get free publicity for doing absolutely nothing is enviable.

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HP Pre 3 webOS smartphone

ThomH
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More medium-termism

The original Pre launched in mid-2009, so WebOS has had more than two years to fail to reach a critical mass. Or nine quarters if you prefer to look at it that way.

It's sad and unfair that it's turned out like this, but compared to the Microsoft Kin or even to less extreme tech failures like the 3DO, the PowerMac G4 Cube or Google Wave it was actually given a reasonably decent amount of time to try.

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Galaxy Tab 7.7 pulled from IFA after new Apple moves

ThomH
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The Amazon tablet is the thing

Samsung, Motorola and the other big names have managed to get serious traction for Android in the mobile phone space because people already know they need a phone and Android handsets are very competitive. Conversely I think they're doing much more poorly with tablets because you have specifically to want one (because carriers aren't generally subsidising them so you're not very close to getting one either way) and people don't necessarily think they want a tablet. Apple's marketing machine here is a benefit because it isn't saying "you want us not them" so much as "here's a new type of thing you want".

I think Amazon are going to distinguish themselves by significantly reducing the price, by adapting a more sophisticated marketing drive than "you know those tablet things that Apple are on about, well we make one too you know" and by really promoting the thing through the single most popular storefront in the world today.

In a year it'll be Apple v Amazon. And supposing Amazon have forked Android and are paying Google nothing, they have neither the interest nor the legal right to attach the Android brand to their tablet so I don't foresee much of a halo effect.

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