* Posts by DougS

12862 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

AT&T defends FaceTime price gouge

DougS Silver badge
FAIL

Applauding shafting cuz it's Apple

Why does this remind me of that tale about the guy who didn't protest when they came for the Jews, because he wasn't a Jew, and so on, so there was no one to stand up for him when they came for him?

Since you hate Apple so much and are proudly proclaiming it on the Reg, I'm going to make the wild assumption you're an Android fan. You may have no sympathy for iPhone users now, but if AT&T can do it to Apple Facetime, they could just as easily do it to Google Maps on Android. It is built in and doesn't compete with AT&T services. If AT&T can do it, so can Verizon. You'd be singing a different tune when they do it to you, but by then this will be an "established industry practice", and it'll be too late to turn back the clock.

I'm glad the carriers (at least the big ones) gave up on the fantasy of unlimited data, but now that it has been limited, it should be able to be used in any way you want. If you disagree with that fine, but don't sit back and laugh when the guy you hate gets screwed and assuming it will never happen to you, because he's going to laugh at you ten times as loud when it does.

Curiosity spins its wheels and shoots up the Martian landscape

DougS Silver badge
WTF?

100 meters is less than a full brontosaurus?

Exactly how big is the Reg unit brontosaurus, and why is it so much longer than an actual brontosaurus? I don't think the real ones were even 100 feet, let alone larger than that in meters.

Though it would be cool being up in the stands this fall and imagining a dinosaur that stretched from goalpost to goalpost on an American football field! (that's ~110 meters, for you non USians)

T-Mobile USA: Our new unlimited data plan is actually unlimited

DougS Silver badge
Thumb Up

Bet this means they're finally getting iPhone

Neither AT&T nor Verizon have true unlimited - AT&T's grandfathered plans are 3G only, Verizon cancels your unlimited if you take a subsidized upgrade so you have to buy a full cost phone to keep it.

Yes, yes, I know Android owners like unlimited too, I think T-mobile is just timing this with getting iPhone on their network to make sure as many people as possible hear about it for when they find out the fine print from AT&T and Verizon and are pissed enough to consider switching.

Apple now most valuable company OF ALL TIME

DougS Silver badge

Aramco

What do you mean "it's value is actually based on what it's really worth"? There is no value it's "really worth", other than what someone will pay for it. The only way to truly value a privately held company is to put it up for bid and see what someone will pay for it, and the buyer is left to come up with his own value for it based on it's earnings and prospects for future earnings. i.e., the same way people try to value public companies like Apple, by looking at their current earnings and determining what they believe about their prospects for future earnings.

FYI - there was an articlein FT in 2010 where someone estimated Aramco's value at $7 trillion. There's going to be a wide range of estimates for private companies, because they don't release their financial information in the way public companies do. There are also no consequences for overestimating the value of a private company you can't or have no intention of trying to buy...

DougS Silver badge

Yes, Microsoft was overvalued back then...

But it doesn't follow that Apple is overvalued now. Look at the respective P/E ratios. Microsoft's was crazy high (well, crazy high by traditional standards, but by the standards of the late 1999 dotcom bubble it was only slightly high)

Apple's P/E is quite reasonable, especially when you back out it's current cash hoard, and is making enough profit to justify it's current valuation, factoring in some modest growth over the next few years - much less growth than they've had lately. If Apple had the crazy P/E that tech darling Amazon does its stock price would be about 13000!

Of course, a tech company is always riskier in the long run than an oil company. You wouldn't want to buy a tech company's stock and then not check prices for 10 years. But this would be a pretty reasonable thing to do as an Exxon investor. The risk of iPhone becoming obsolete (or smartphones as a whole) in a decade is much higher than the risk of oil becoming obsolete in a decade - hopefully we can obsolete it before it runs out...

The cooler side of the Big Bang

DougS Silver badge
Alien

Cosmic strings

How are these cracks different from the cosmic strings that were supposed to have been formed during the symmetry breaking/cooling shortly after the big bang? This theory is nearly 30 years old, is this one different or has it just been described via more formalized math?

I believe cosmic string observation was planned to be done via gravitational lensing being observed where there are no visible indications of mass. I'm only aware of one such potential observation over many years, so if cosmic strings exist at all, they would seem to either be extremely rare or less massive than predicted.

SMSZombie wraps self in nudie pics, slips into 500,000 Android devices

DougS Silver badge

Morris worm

The Morris worm dates from 1988, and back then there probably wasn't a single Mac or Windows computer connected to the Internet. No matter how many security holes either would have had back then, without being on the Internet, worm propagation would be rather difficult...

The problem with Android security is that it relies on the app to only ask for the permissions it needs, and the user to know/care about what the various permissions mean instead of just blindly approving them. Anything that relies on the end user may be safe in the hands of the technically inclined, but that's only a single digit percentage of the population, leaving many many people for the bad guys to prey upon.

Hard-up fondlers rejoice: Tablet PC prices plummet

DougS Silver badge

And this is different from PCs how?

There are only two PC CPU/chipset vendors (Intel and AMD) versus more choice in SoC vendors for tablets (Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcomm, probably others) There is Windows or OS X as your laptop's OS, versus Android or iOS for tablets. The laptops all look pretty much alike, there's the cheapo traditional laptops, and the Macbook Air wannabe ultrabooks that look the same but are thinner and made of metal.

What type of diversity are you looking for? You want to see tablets running something other than Android or iOS? I guess you'll get your wish soon from Microsoft. You want to see different form factors? Fine, what exactly? Rectangular with sharp corners? Triangular like the "Pyramid" tablets from the US version of The Office? Round? Thick as a paperback so it weighs four pounds and has a year of standby battery life?

Android spanks Apple iOS in sales as fanbois hold out for iPhone 5

DougS Silver badge

Re: Android phones are cheap, Apple phones are not

What the hell is your floor made of? My girlfriend has a 4S with no case/bumpers at all and she's dropped it on concrete over half a dozen times in the past year (because for some reason she thinks talking on the phone while carrying a cup of coffee and walking her dog at the same time is a reasonable thing to do) It has some scuffs on it but no cracks and certainly hasn't shattered.

Perhaps the bumpers your officemates are using ends up concentrating the force of the blow into one place making it more likely to shatter?

DougS Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Is it really though?

Indeed, there was nothing in any of that that indicated that the iPhone5 was the reason. The rot set in with Apple long before that. I can name at least 10 Android handsets that are superior, cheaper, more functional, better performing, ,more intuitive, more flexible and more open... That is FAR more likely to be the reason.

----

Keep telling yourself that. I remember the same things being said right about this time last year, and then even when the expectation for iPhone 5 was deflated by the arrival of the iPhone 4S that was not much changed from the 4, sales went through the roof.

Don't worry, iPhone sales will drop again next summer for the same reason and you Apple haters can get yourselves all worked in a lather about it once again. One year, you might even be right. But not this year.

'$199' Surface tablets: So crazy it might work, or just crazy?

DougS Silver badge
Facepalm

If they do this

the OEMs that they announced yesterday who will be doing Surface RT tablets will cancel them before they reach the market. Windows 8 costs them $85 to license, they would have to charge $100 more than Microsoft or sell at a huge loss to match the price of Surface. They would choose option C, let Microsoft sink or swim on their own.

I think this is a false rumor, but I kind of hope it is true just to see the Microsoft fanboys excuses when all the OEMs desert Surface. I can just hear them now "Surface was so good the OEMs couldn't improve upon it in any way"...

The 'experts' who never see BBM will never understand RIM

DougS Silver badge

Probably only a big deal in places without unlimited SMS

I don't see this among teens here in the US (midwest) But unlimited texting plans are a no brainer for teenagers, and available everywhere in the US.

Still don't see what the big deal is with this versus Google Talk and iMessage. Maybe you can do more with BBM and it's slicker, but the downside is that you have to use a Blackberry! Pretty big downside when they are so far behind iPhone, Android and even Windows Phone in everything else.

My girlfriend had a Blackberry and used to use BBM with some of her friends who also had them (helping her stay under her 1000 texts a month plan) but as her friends dumped their Blackberries she had to text them anyway so when she got an iPhone last fall she didn't miss the old phone one bit.

Calling BBM a "social network" that rivals Twitter is ludicrous. By that definition SMS is the largest social network in the world! BBM is tied to a single platform that's bleeding market share, and there are two (possibly three, if Windows Phone gains any traction) larger platforms that can replicate BBM functionality quite easily, and likely improve on it. The idea that companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft don't have the technical wherewithall to compete with the mighty RIM in providing this sort of service that's really just a polished version of mid 90s IM software is ridiculous.

Storming quarter sees Apple reassert tablet dominance

DougS Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Expected

What?? You're nuts! I take my smartphone everywhere with me, I will NEVER do that with a tablet until they are able to be folded up like a piece of paper and stuck in my pocket. Maybe you think carrying a tablet around with you all the time is reasonable, but you will quickly learn you are in a minority. Are apps/browsing better on a tablet than a phone? Sure. But the best device to do those tasks on is and always will be THE ONE THAT IS WITH YOU!

Tablets have their place, but what they will hurt is the PC market, not the smartphone market. All the casual users who have up until now owned a PC because it was the ONLY way for them to do email and browsing will switch to a tablet because it's a better form factor for casual users. Households that currently own one (or more PC) per resident will start getting tablets and own fewer PCs. This is already happening, as is evident by the explosive growth in tablet sales and the fact that PC sales have SHRUNK for three straight quarters now. They will continue to shrink, Windows 8 will do nothing to stop that trend.

Apple granted patent for in-cell touchscreen display tech

DougS Silver badge

Re: Apple use Samsung for displays.

They developed this technology with Sharp - I believe Apple developed the tech, Sharp developed the manufacturing process for it.

Sharp has been developing a superior LCD technology called IZGO that's supposed to be better than anyone else's LCDs in several ways, and rumor has had Apple switching to them to get this technology for a while now. So it's more likely that Apple switched to Sharp for reasons that have nothing to do with their fight with Samsung such as better technology or better pricing.

Apple will still be using some Samsung parts, and it's not like there's anything they buy from Samsung that they can't get elsewhere, so if they really wanted to entirely cut out Samsung they would have already done so. Samsung is a big conglomerate of separate businesses (sort of like GE in the US) so a fight with the unit making smartphones doesn't necessarily mean they need to take the fight to the units making LCD panels or flash memory.

SHOCK: Poll shows Americans think TSA is highly effective

DougS Silver badge
Big Brother

Shows constant media scare tactics about terrorism work

People had enough fear drummed into them by the media and government over the past decade that they became willing to submit to anything to feel safe again. Remember how they used to mention the "threat level" all the time on the news? How many times have we heard claims about how many terrorist plots have been stopped, while we have less than a half dozen actual instances, all of which were woefully incompetent morons acting alone with little outside support (shoe bomber, underwear bomber, printer cartridge bomber)

Don't bother pointing out that more Americans die in automobile crashes EVERY MONTH than died on 9/11, the sheep don't care. Don't bother pointing out that the bans on box cutters were stupid because it's trivial to sharpen the edge of a credit card sharp enough to slit ones throat, they'll only eye you suspiciously as a possible terrorist for knowing/thinking about this.

Even the Tea Partiers who think government is incompetant to scratch it's own ass would never think of cutting security spending. They want to cut waste, fraud and abuse, and somehow think there's enough of that to practically balance the budget, but they won't find any of that in the TSA or Homeland Security!

US Army's cloud-friendly iPad-ready intel kit DOESN'T even work

DougS Silver badge
Facepalm

"multiple open screens are required to complete any task"

Well, doesn't sound like it would have been iPad-ready, or any-tablet-ready, since no tablets support having multiple apps open on the same screen at once. Hell, even Windows 8 won't allow that unless you use the classic desktop, thanks to Microsoft's infinite capacity for stupidity.

Perhaps they were planning on wallpapering the interior of whatever vehicle this went into with iPads so you could use all those screens at once? No defense contractor would spec a product that costs only $500 and they don't make when they can spec something they do make it and sell it for $30,000 each. So if this project goes forward, look for the iPad to be labeled a proof of concept only, and and the production version will use a special "ruggedized" tablet the defense contractors make that runs a slightly hacked version of Android but explicably costs about 100x more than it should. Now THAT sounds like the defense contractors that made America great(ly in debt)

Sharp cuts exFAT deal with Microsoft for Android mobes

DougS Silver badge
FAIL

Stupid on multiple levels

One, why the hell did whoever was in the organization that set the SD card standards let a proprietary Microsoft format be REQUIRED unless they agreed to subject those patents to FRAND licensing?

Two, why the hell does every Android vendor seem to think an SD card slot is necessary? Either ship the damn phone with sufficient flash from the get go so no expansion is needed, or use another standard for memory expansion. There are how many many dozen small form factor memory card standards out there? Pick one that doesn't require a Microsoft filesystem and use that. Since hardly anyone is taking these SD cards out of their phone anyway, you can use ext3 or whatever the hell you won't without regard for whether a PC can read it. A PC can easily read it if it has to, just by installing a driver.

Talk about self-inflicted wounds. And the worst thing is that they are still doing it. Apple sues Samsung and they design a Tab 10.1N to get around the issue. Apple sues HTC and they change the way their mail app works to get around the issue. Microsoft goes after every single Android vendor out there and they just pay up and keep shipping product with the SD card slot a year or two later? How fucking stupid are these guys????

Mobile phone health rules need update, warns US watchdog

DougS Silver badge
WTF?

Belt clips? BELT CLIPS???

Was this written in 2002? Nobody uses belt clips anymore. Test the effects of keeping it in your pants pocket you morons!

I suppose in 10 years hence, right about the time the Google Glasses Android phone is competing against the Apple iEye, these idiots will drone on about the importance of testing the effect of a phone kept in one's pants pocket.

Apple and Google go head-to-head over Kodak patent sale

DougS Silver badge
Joke

Somehow it's fitting...

that Apple is partnering with IV and Google/Samsung is partnering with RPX. IV and RPX are both evil patent trolls, but IV invented the evil patent troll business model, RPX slavishly copied it!

Meet the company that wants to destroy Twitter. It's Twitter

DougS Silver badge

Pulse of the planet....hmmmm....gives me an monetization idea!

They don't need to advertise to the end users at all. But being the pulse of the planet provides some pretty valuable and saleable information. Rather than just telling people for free what the trending topics are, charge money for this. I'm sure a lot of people would deep pockets would pay fees to subscribe to this information.

Political organizations who want to see which way the wind is blowing without all that troublesome and inaccurate polling? Check. Marketing/advertising companies who want to what is "in" and "out" for the freshest possible ad campaigns? Check. Global brands who want to see if anything is happening that might be good/bad for them? (ala Chik-Fil-A) Check. How much is the information they give away today for free actually worth in the open market when it is kept proprietary?

I HATE that the Internet has to advertise the crap out of stuff to make money. I hate seeing ads that are totally irrelevant, but it feels creepy and privacy violating when they try to better target ads specifically to me. But if the fact I tweeted about the Olympics or golf or Audi A4 or Ron Paul was aggregated with the thousands and millions of others so they can know the Olympics is trending right now (I assume) and Ron Paul has seen a big drop off between the beginning of the year and now (I assume) really doesn't bother me at all. It'd be the cleanest monetization scheme I've seen yet for the Internet.

PS - if anyone from Twitter is reading this and decides to patent it, you better figure out a way to have a filing date on it earlier than the date on this post :)

Microsoft tightens grip on OEM Windows 8 licensing

DougS Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Interesting

Paranoid much? Adding a Windows key to your BIOS is hardly crippling it so it won't run Linux. They might tie Windows to a particular motherboard, so that if the board fails you're screwed, but Linux will still work exactly the same. If the BIOS requires the boot code to be signed that's a potential risk, but one that looks to have been defused. At any rate, that's completely separate from this activation scheme.

I think you're right about the fact that no one will want to pirate Windows 8 anyway. With the old interface, it is barely different from Windows 7, once SP2 is out for it I doubt the upgrade would be compelling for anyone. On a touchscreen, maybe you want 8, maybe you don't, but if you buy a touchsceen device capable of running Windows 8, it will come with Windows 8. It isn't like there's a whitebox tablet market out there where you can install a random OS like you can on a regular PC.

Given that in the past it's been easy for people to come up with keygens for Windows, combined with the "loader" method of using BIOS shadowing that Windows 7 cracks use I think it won't take long for someone to break this method. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if someone isn't putting the finishing touches on it this weekend given that Windows 8 has RTMed and it's too late to change. The trusted boot is the only real way Microsoft can stop this, but how exactly that's supposed to work for running Windows 8 in a virtual machine I'm not sure. If they want to make that easy, they have to leave a loophole that would allow pirating Windows 8 using the keygen + loader method.

Samsung tells Apple: Quit your 'frivolous' whining over court doc leak

DougS Silver badge
Mushroom

Compare the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 10.1N

Props in 2001 or Star Trek have no bearing on this case. Nor does the LG Prada or Samsung F700. The legal definition of what constitutes infringement on the design patent requires WAY more than a rectangle with rounded corners, despite the whining of the drooling fandroids posting here. Yes, being a rectangle with rounded corners was one of the claims in the patent. ONE CLAIM. Taking a single claim out of context in a patent with dozens of claims (ALL of which must be satisified for infringement to have happened) is no better than politicians cherry picking a few words out of a long statement their opponent makes and twisting those words to claim they said something they did not. Yes, I compared you idiots to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Probably the worst flame I've ever done on the Internet.

Apple has not patented a rectangle with rounded corners, they patented a very specific look for device, in which the fact that it is a rectangle with rounded corners in only one claim out of many. Check out the link below for an image of the two Samsung tablets - the 10.1N is on top, the 10.1 on the bottom. Judges in multiple jurisdictions have ruled that the 10.1N is NOT infringing but the 10.1 is (and, to be fair, judges in multiple other jurisdictions have ruled neither is infringing) The two differ very little, which demonstrates that the similarity between the iPad and 10.1 that has caused some (but not all) judges to rule the 10.1 hit EVERY claim in Apple's design patent was either deliberately done or quite the unlikely coincidence.

Whether this is worth $2.5 billion to Apple is a totally different matter, I think Samsung is the most successful Android vendor not because they've been copying the look of Apple's products the best, but because they've copied Apple's business model the best. That is, designing products targeted at the high end that aren't built cheap, aren't priced cheap, with extensive customization (Samsung designs their own SoCs like Apple does, and customizes their version of Android more than the other guys do) that differentiate it that allowed them to avoid being commoditized like the rest of the Android herd.

http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2011/11/16/samsung-releases-redesigned-galaxy-tab-10-1n-in-germany-to-avoid-apple-infringement/

China's smartphone shipments jump 199 PER CENT!

DougS Silver badge

Re: Back doors?

Yes, it's fanciful paranoia. How, exactly, would backdoors be inserted in Apple products just by virtue of them being assembled in China? It is software that allows for backdoors, and the software is written and distributed by Apple in the US.

I suppose if you have a particularly ill-fitting tinfoil hat you might believe they somehow added another chip into iPhones (without Apple ever noticing and saying "hey, what's that thing, we didn't have that in our original design") that somehow magically overrides everything else to provide a back door.

It's much more likely that the cheap Chinese phones manufactured in China specifically for the Chinese market include backdoors. But it would be mostly pointless so long as non-backdoored stuff made by non Chinese companies like Apple and Samsung was available to Chinese buyers.

Tracking Android phones is easy, says researcher

DougS Silver badge

The original article specifically mentions Android devices

But this is likely because they devised their attack on Android since the source code is available. They mention this code runs on the CPU rather than on the GPS chip. Assuming the A-GPS code similarly runs on the CPU and not the GPS chip on the iPhone, the same attack would also be possible. This would be more work on the iPhone however, since you'd have to devise your attack on disassembled object code rather than well documented source code.

Not sure what this Wifi hijacking thing is. It sounds like when Android connects to Wifi, there is something related to A-GPS that can be done. There are DHCP options related to GPS, maybe this indicates the Android DHCP client processes them? Perhaps it turns out that's not such a good idea...

Samsung: 'Apple's proto-iPhone Jony is a Sony phone phoney'

DougS Silver badge

Re: Good god you fanboys are ignorant

Just as they got the CPU design team by buying PA Semi - nothing wrong with acquiring your innovation on the open market, but it flies in the face of Apple's continuing to paint itself as an invention hot house.

----

It all comes down to what a company sees as their core competencies. Apple sees themselves as doing great products that work well through seamless melding of hardware and software. They don't need to build their own chip design capability from the ground up to do this, so they bought that capability. They also do acquisitions for companies they think will be useful in the future. Presumably that's why they bought Fingerworks. They saw what they were working on and bought them to bring that capability in house for future products that were in the concept stage.

If Apple just stole everything like the haters claim, they wouldn't have bought Fingerworks, they would have just copied what they did. If they were just buying a bunch of components from Samsung and having Foxconn slap them together like the ignorant claim, they wouldn't have bought PASemi.

DougS Silver badge
Flame

Good god you fanboys are ignorant

"Samsung also manufactures Apple‘s A5X processor and is the sole supplier of the Retina display used in the new iPad"

So it's pretty much the Samsung Pad, anyway. Do you think engineers get reference code from 'the manufacturer' with those displays like maybe how to implement multi-touch, etc ?

----

I guess you are not aware that LCDs and touchscreens are manufactured separately and layered one over the other in all touch screen devices sold today. Apple is rumored to be getting their next iPhone's screens from Sharp, which will have the touch matrix integrated into the LCD, which would make it slightly thinner as well as reduce assembly costs. It sounds like this is some tech that Apple developed jointly with Sharp (likely tech Apple got from one of the small companies they buy from time to time)

So no, just because Samsung manufactures the CPU Apple designed and supplies the LCD screen doesn't mean that Samsung has anything to do with Apple's multitouch. Apple got that tech when they bought Fingerworks 2005, which was the company that originally developed the multitouch technology.

Google taking orders for Kansas City gigabit fiber network

DougS Silver badge
Thumb Up

Hell with the gigabit

I'd love to be able to get cable TV and my current 20/5 Internet access for only $120 a month! Right now I pay about $140/month total for 20/5 DSL and extended basic cable - no movie channels, no premium "digital" tier with another 60 or 70 channels I'll never watch, but HD on almost all the channels I do have.

However, before I signed up, I'd want to know what data Google would be collecting on my Internet and TV watching habits, how long they'd keep it, and what they'd plan to do with it. "Do no evil" became just a useless motto about two data collection scandals ago. Yes, I imagine my telco and cable company are likely collecting data too, but unlike Google, they don't have the resources to collect nearly as much or do much of anything with it, either useful or evil.

China denies US chopper tech espionage claim

DougS Silver badge
Unhappy

A comparatively small fine won't stop this

US defense firms have an incentive to help advance defense technology in potential US adversaries. Then the congressmen in their pockets can talk about how we have to spend billions on updated tech to counter the threat posed by the transferred technology. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The only thing that would be meaningful would that rather than a fine, an offending firm is banned from new US government contracts (military or not) for a few years. Making sure to include any firms that own a controlling interest, or that they own a controlling interest in, so that the big boys can't just have one of their subsidaries do the dirty work for them.

I'm sure if this was proposed to congress, the defense lobbyists would immediately have the talking points ready about how this would risk setting back our defensive capabilities by years, increase cost by reducing competitive bids due to nonparticipation by banned firms, and could cost tens of thousands of jobs at a time when the economy can least afford it, and that insignificant fines (that can be looked at as a cost of doing business) should remain the penalty.

Windows worm slips into iOS App Store, climbs into hipsters' pockets

DougS Silver badge

If I understand this correctly...

This is an iOS app, which contains within it an OS X package which can be installed on your Mac. Inside that OS X package is a Windows executable which can be installed on your PC, and that executable is infected. Apple probably never thought to scan through multiple levels like that. I highly doubt that previous to this news coming out that Google would have caught this either, since the typical case on Android software would be to have it install the Windows executable itself, not require you to install the OS X package first to access the Windows executable.

This was almost certainly not malicious on the part of the dev. If it had been, they would have not used such an old and relatively harmless bit of malware, and wouldn't have required such a crazy series of steps to even get the infection. Probably the only three people who ever would have got this would be Mac users infecting the Windows they run in a VM. If you have a Mac, you'll run the software on the Mac, so no problem. If you have a PC you probably just download the software directly over the Internet. It's only if you have a Mac and a PC, and want to for some reason install it on both, and somehow feel it is easier to copy the executable over from your Mac than just click on a link to download it. Hopefully the downloadable version wasn't also infected, but I wouldn't be surprised since it would make sense that the PC this dev builds it's golden images on is the source of the infection.

I'm sure Apple will scan for this in the future, and Google probably will also. But it doesn't mean much, as there are obvious routes (self extracting installer requiring user interaction, automated update on first run) to get infected executables past any Apple app store reviewer or Google Bouncer scanning. In the end it comes down to the end user detecting the infection. Anyone who could have been infected by this old thing probably isn't running AV software at all, and if you do that on Windows while installing software willy nilly you deserve your fate.

Galaxy S III dumps universal search, tries to dodge Apple's sueballs

DougS Silver badge

@Oli 1

Argh, another fool who doesn't understand what FRAND is all about. Only the patent owner can make their patent FRAND, by voluntary submission as part of a standard - it's the price of entry for having your technology become part of the standard. No one can just decide someone else's patent is "worthy of FRAND licensing" and make it so.

BTW, if you're waiting for the day when R&D slowly stops due to the ridiculous patent stuff, you probably missed it by a couple decades. Companies have to do their R&D defensively, so many won't let their engineers attend conferences where they might be exposed to others' patented ideas, and pretty much 100% of them prohibit their engineers from reading patents. If you violate a patent you had no idea exists, it's just a simple violation. If you violate a patent you were aware of you're subject to triple damages. So this stance makes a lot of sense in the world we currently live in, even though it would tend to slow down technological progress by limiting the spread of ideas.

Apple CEO: Frothing fanboi iPhone 5 hype screwed our sales

DougS Silver badge

@BobaFett

It may not have been possible to release the new iPhone in July. It sounds like they are using Qualcomm's MDM9615 baseband chip. This is a third generation LTE chip on 28nm, so it offers better power consumption than the earlier generations - as with 3G Apple waited longer than most so the baseband wouldn't suck the battery dry too quickly as happened with the first generation 3G and LTE chipsets. Perhaps equally important for Apple, it also supports TD-SCDMA to give them access to China Mobile's 700 million subscribers in a single SKU world phone, instead of selling a different model in China like everyone else does. The MDM9615 wouldn't have been available in anywhere near the quantities Apple would need for a summer launch.

Even so, unless they are producing the crap out of these things, I would think they'd have to delay the China launch until after Christmas to supply them with sufficient quantities. That would be ideal timing anyway for Chinese New Year...

Apple's iPhone sales may have fallen short of analyst estimates this month, and will almost certainly be seen as disappointing next quarter, but I'd look for the Oct-Dec and Jan-Mar quarter sales to blow away even the most optimistic analyst estimates thanks to sales of the new iPhone in first the US and later in China, especially if this fall also brings a new iPad/iPod/iRead or whatever they call the rumored 7" iOS device.

Microsoft unfurls patent lasso, snares Linux servers

DougS Silver badge
Stop

This has zero implications for Linux

This is a document management company. What kind of documents do their customers want to manage? Presumably they would include MS Office documents. The Amdocs software may advertise some capabilities that require doing some patented things with these documents. It might even have to do with basic document management, since Microsoft has solutions that do this as well and likely some patents in this area.

If they entered the document management field like they did most of the fields they are in, they got their document management software originally by buying out an early pioneer in the field, which would also give them the pioneer's early basic patents in the field. So it's possible these might even be of somewhat higher quality than most software patents tend to be.

They probably made a point of extending the patent coverage to their Linux servers because they couldn't help themselves from tossing out a little FUD. Until they go after a company purely for using Linux servers, such as Google or even some hosting provider that runs a bunch of web servers on Linux, I don't think anyone outside the document management field needs to care about this announcement.

Google Nexus 7 blighted by brightness blunder

DougS Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: And...

Telling the average consumer "open it up and tighten some screws" is as ridiculous as when Steve Jobs said "you're holding it wrong". It's amazing how people will overlook flaws in products they love as being no big deal or discount the reports entirely as being the work of the nefarious opposition, but when flaws are reported in the "enemy's" devices it's clearly a huge problem that affects everyone and shows why no one should buy it.

If someone really had nothing better to do today, it would be fun to look back at who was on Apple's ass about Antennagate and the "yellow screen" issue and who defended them, and compare their positions on these Nexus 7 issues. I suspect one's allegiance to Apple or Google/Android has a lot more to do with their reactions to Apple's woes versus Google's woes. I'm sure the Apple fans' reality distortion field, and whatever the Google version of that is (rose colored Google Glasses(tm) perhaps?) would prevent them from seeing the conflict in their positions...

Expecting to be thumbed down by both iFans and Fandroids since this will piss them both off :)

CO2 warms Earth FASTER than previously thought

DougS Silver badge

Re: High resolution

Perhaps 5 to 10 cores is a good sample, but even if that's so you should still be concerned about the selection process. If they just used all the cores they had access to, that's fine, state that. If they had 50 cores available and just picked 5 to 10 by a completely random method, that's also fine, but they should explain the difficulties involved in using more/all or why 5 to 10 is good enough.

On the other hand, if they had 50 cores available and looked at 20-25 during the course of their research but only used 5-10 in their published paper, then you should be very curious why they decided to eliminate the others. You should also ask how different the results might have been if an AGW denier had access to the same set of 20-25 using the same model and getting to pick his own 5-10. Maybe it makes little difference, but it's possible being able to select the cores makes a very large difference in terms of getting the conclusion you wish to reach. Since ice cores most likely would tend to be taken near coasts or research stations, perhaps there aren't and never will be 50 well geographically dispersed samples available, but this in itself is another potential source of bias you may wish to note.

I'm not suggesting they picked their samples to reach a desired conclusion, but given how politically charged the debate is, researchers on both sides would ideally look very closely at their research from the point of view of those who wish to tear it down, and use methodology and provide information to make it as bulletproof to such attacks as possible. Going that extra mile would provide a good signpost to determine which research those who aren't doing it themselves should give extra weight to, versus research targeting a predetermined outcome.

Because like it or not, there is plenty of such research on both sides of the debate already being done. Since we wouldn't usually find out what's being funded by Greenpeace and what's being funded by the Koch Brothers, making research as difficult to come up with viable attacks on seems the best way of getting yours heard above all the noise. At least in theory. In practice, making research that takes extreme ("we're on the edge of disaster!") or controversial ("nothing humans could ever do will change the climate in any way") positions makes for better headlines. They are also probably more likely to be adopted by politicians who may base their decisions on which side they support on many factors, but science or lack of science is almost never one of them.

Apple wins EU-wide Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 ban

DougS Silver badge
Megaphone

@ Anon 15:23 - you're close, but not quite

I think he means that Samsung are attempting to sue Apple over FRAND patents. Which, ordinarily is frowned upon, quite rightly. However, what he fails to understand is this possibility...

Samsung enters patent 123 into a FRAND agreement, with a charge of 10p per use

LG enters patent 456 into a FRAND agreement, with a charge of 10p per use

Motorola enters patent 789 into a FRAND agreement, with a charge of 10p per use

Samsung, LG and Motorola, to avoid having to send invoices and payments to each say, OK, 10p per phone, call it quits.

Apple come along and have no such useful patents, and spit their dummies out over paying 30p per phone. "It's not fair, we're Apple, we want it for nothing" and refuse to pay.

----

I'm not sure of all the particulars with Samsung, but in the case of Motorola, they had agreements with Qualcomm to use their FRAND patents, and Qualcomm then supplied these chips with license fees fully paid to whoever (Apple, Samsung, Motorola themselves all use Qualcomm chips in many/all their phones) The licenses were paid on a percentage of the sales price. In chips that cost only a few dollars each, a 2% levy is no big deal, it probably amounts to a dime or two.

Apple was paying that, by virtue of buying their chips from Qualcomm who supplied them fully licensed, but Motorola cancelled their agreement with Qualcomm specifically for chips supplied to Apple, so that Apple was now buying unlicensed chips. They then went after Apple demanding 2% of the sales price of the entire iPhone, so instead of 10 cents, the fee would be more like $10. Apple said that was ridiculous and offered to pay 2% of what they're paying for the chip, to equal what everyone else pays. The 'ND' in FRAND is for "non discriminatory", and making Apple pay around 100x what others pay for your patents sure sounds like discrimination. That's where things sit between those two.

Samsung also cancelled it's FRAND agreements with Qualcomm for chips they are supplying Apple. I don't think it's been reported what/how Samsung was charging/is charging others for these FRAND patent licenses. One can assume they are trying to take the same route as Motorola, but in the absence of any evidence either way (as far as I've heard reported) there's no way to draw any conclusions either way who more at fault between the two of them. It would seem Morotola has no leg to stand on, Samsung may or may not depending on the particulars.

While the "Apple started this, let them burn" crowd wouldn't mind seeing Apple get raked over the coals and made to pay through the nose for FRAND patents, be careful what you wish for. If you open the door for abusing FRAND patents even a tiny crack, the ones who step through and really start throwing their weight around will be patent trolls. Phones will double in price and a bunch of shell companies that produce nothing, along with their lawyers, will become wildly rich. It wouldn't be just in phones, it'd be in anything where companies have got together and pooled their patents under FRAND terms. Basically everything in technology, from browsers, to video, to ports like USB and HDMI.

GPS-equipped sheep prove herd mentality exists

DougS Silver badge
Flame

Apparently not many bothered to follow the link and read the paper

Or even read the one paragraph abstract. Those who did would realize that the headline on the Reg article is wildly inaccurate, the scientists were not trying to prove herd mentality exists. They were trying to show that herding is influenced by predators and essentially a selfish behavior - the sheep try to move to the center of the flock to minimize their exposure to predators, and this continues until they are tightly packed. From the references it looks like this has been shown in other types of animals before, they were confirming those studies this time using sheep.

The reason they installed GPS trackers on individual sheep was presumably to watch as a few who are exposed closest to the predator move towards the center, new sheep are exposed which then also move towards the center, and so on. I suppose they could have just filmed them from above and played it in slow motion to follow individual sheep, but it's not as if GPS trackers are expensive.

I love how so many Reg readers think they are so much smarter than scientists doing studies. Scientists very rarely get funding for studies that prove the obvious (and if they do, it is usually only one step in something that will go further but they have to first prove the "obvious" so the referees on future papers don't question their "obvious" assumption)

Bad journalism often makes studies sound like they are proving the obvious, but surprisingly stupid readers who can't be bothered to spend a few seconds following a link apparently can be bothered to spend a few minutes writing smartass comments. It would have been nice if the author had spend a few more seconds reading the abstract, and therefore been able to compose a better headline!

Time for Victoria to adapt, says Climate Commission

DougS Silver badge

Climate change happened in three years? Damn hockey stick!

Seriously, they are comparing rainfall and sunlight from 2009-2010 to this year and because it's different, it must be climate change? Well here in the US midwest where I live we've had 1.25" of rain (in exactly two rainfall events) in the past 2+ months, and just had our 4th day of over 100*. Must be climate change. Nevermind that we had a big drought in 1988 and a bigger one in 1936. And that one in 1936 was not only a drought, but we had 22 days over 100 degrees that summer, a record that I sure hope will never be broken unless the worst predictions of global warming do come to pass. Now if summers like this became the norm rather than the once every few decades exception, then we'll all be forced to concede that climate change is happening, but it'll take a lot longer than a couple years to reach that conclusion!

If Victoria has a bunch of flooding and greatly reduced sunlight in three years hence, I'm sure this will be pointed to as further proof of climate change. Only if it's climate permanently becomes as wonderfully bland and predictable as Hawaii's will they be silenced (probably not even then, they'll come up with some reason why this is a bad thing)

Intel, AMD financials: Bad news for Obama campaign

DougS Silver badge

Re: This is the tablet market eating into the PC market

Fine, you can claim that the tablet market and the PC market are the same market. Since many tablet customers are buying them to perform the same tasks they performed on their PCs, there may be some small justification for that view. It is certainly a view Apple fanboys like to encourage when comparing Apple's share of the PC market.

However, given that the players in the tablet market are very different from the players in the PC market, while the distinction may not be important for consumers or market research firms, it is a very important distinction when it comes to future profitability for the losers in this trend: Intel, AMD, Microsoft, Dell, and HP.

Some may argue that Intel with Atom and Microsoft with Surface may not be losers if they are successful, but they're wrong. Intel currently has 80% of the PC CPU market (and nearly 100% of the profit in this sector) Even if they somehow took 80% of the tablet CPU market they'd still emerge big losers from this trend, as the per CPU gross margin of tablet CPUs is a fraction of the gross margin for PC CPUs (low tens of dollars versus low hundreds of dollars) Microsoft currently has 90% of the PC OS market. There is no possible scenario where they take even a fraction of that share of the tablet market. Most think that the few analysts who project them to take a double digit share of the market are wildly optimistic. Everything they are doing suggests that at this point they are circling the wagons and trying to defend the corporate space. These devices will not be priced to be competitive in the consumer market. I suspect they'll be priced above iPad, more than double what Android tablets will be selling at.

DougS Silver badge

This is the tablet market eating into the PC market

Some techies (and financial analysts too) don't get that a lot of average people really only use their computers to surf the web, do email, watch youtube videos and login to facebook. These are people who don't buy prepackaged software, except maybe AV software to keep their computer from getting overrun by viruses when they stupidly click on spam links promising to show them Natalie Portman naked. These are people who don't need to read, let alone create, Office documents, and in the very rare case they did Google's offerings would be more than sufficient.

This is the market that Apple and the Android makers are taking with tablets. Hell, the truly light users in this group can probably get by with just a smartphone - maybe that's part of the reason behind the trend for larger and larger smartphone screens. This is basically the market that Linux netbooks were intended to hit, but missed the mark as they were too much like what came before.

With Verizon and now AT&T offering plans that make it easy to share data between your smartphone and tablet, making the most of the tablet's much better portability, this trend will continue to accelerate. Money goes out of Intel, AMD and Microsoft's pockets, and goes into Apple and Samsung's pockets. Maybe Amazon's too if they can make a tablet that isn't just a fad like the Fire was.

Of course PCs will never die, but PC sales growth rates started declining (and are now negative for three quarters running) right about the time iPad came out. I don't think that's a coincidence.

New lightest-ever material: Ideal power for electric car

DougS Silver badge

Re: Maybe...but...

One would need a fancy piece of industrial kit to extract such a thing and replace it with another. Not to mention that the design of every EV would need to be near identical to each other for this scheme to work.

----

Obviously there would need to be some standards, but who says all the batteries have to come in one giant pack? What's wrong with a standard of say 20 kg battery packs, and cars can have however many they want, and they'd typically be discharged in a semi-serial fashion so if you go to the station before you're running on "E" you don't need them all replaced. You could even carry a couple spares in your trunk in case you get caught out in an area where there aren't recharging stations - something which could happen in the early years of such a standard.

This wouldn't require the location of the batteries to be standardized, only the form factor and the way they plug into the car. They could and would be in different locations for different cars. Having them plug in all around the bottom of the car would make a lot of sense, makes for easy removal and lowers the CoG nicely.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Maybe...but...

..if the batteries made from this stuff, which may be used in a car, can't be FULLY recharged in under 10 minutes...and give a range of AT LEAST 650km...then who cares?

Until that is possible, electric vehicles will only be a fad.

----

Why? Electric cars don't need to replace everyone's use of a car to be practical. Not everyone needs a car meeting your "must be as good as a gasoline car" specs, particularly multiple car households. An electric car that had a lower TCO than a gasoline car would attract a lot of buyers even if it had shortcomings like a range of only 250km or taking over an hour to recharge, because these buyers would never or almost never run into these shortcomings in their usage of that car. The thing keeping most people from buying electric cars today is as much the cost as the range.

This is the same flawed logic people used to claim that the iPad would be a failure, because it could never do everything a PC could do. It couldn't, and still can't, and never will, but for people who most surf the web, read email and watch videos it is a superior solution compared to a traditional PC. Hence sales of iPad and other tablets growing quickly, and PC sales growth flattening to zero and risking potential downturn in the near future.

iPhone 5 to be skinniest Apple yet SHOCK

DougS Silver badge

Re: Thinner, lighter, blah, blah, blah. It's all very well but there must come a point when........

Well, you may feel they are thin and light enough, but as people so far seem to keep buying phones that are thinner and mostly eschewing those that are fatter and heavier in exchange for a big battery (i.e. Droid Razr Maxx, which sold decently but is in a whole different world sales-wise compared to the various iPhone or Galaxy S models) I think the market is showing its disagreement with your personal preference.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Moving mass

Agreed that they probably want to make it thinner so it won't weigh any more than the current one if the new one has the rumored larger screen. Not that current phones weigh too much to hold in the hand as the smartass poster above you suggested, just that I've never heard anyone complain that a phone is "too light" so where they can shave off useless weight they probably should do so.

However I will take issue with your post and want to point out that making the phone bigger automatically INCREASES battery life because you have more room for a bigger battery. The bigger screen means the phone itself is bigger (unless you shrink the bezel so much that the phone stays the same size) Since you need the same electronics (CPU, memory, radio, etc.) whatever the screen size, 100% of the extra internal space opened up with the larger screen can be used for battery, which more than compensates for the additional power needed for a larger screen.

Thus if you have a larger screen you can either get more battery life OR make the phone thinner by targeting maintaining the same battery life. Apple seems to like thinnness, so that's probably the route they'll take, but they could surprise people by keeping the phone at the same thickness but have 50% more battery capacity.

Not sure which route I'd prefer if I was choosing. I, like most smartphone users, hook my phone up to a charger every night anyway and don't find current battery life to be a problem. On the other hand, I don't find myself wishing for a thinner phone either. I did prefer the rounded back of the 3GS as it seemed to fit in the hand more naturally than the flat back of the 4S, so maybe they could sacrifice the increased battery capacity by rounding the back like before. Others may feel differently...

iPhone 5 poised to trounce Android, devastate BlackBerry?

DougS Silver badge

@Vector - Re: null and void

The market share figures you see publicized all the time are for either all of the US or worldwide, and are for CURRENT sales. On average, iPhones probably tend to be used longer than Androids, as the higher resale value of iPhones make people more likely to sell theirs on rather than stick it in a drawer (my previous phones I just stuck in a drawer because I didn't want to toss them in the trash since they contain hazardous materials, my 3GS was still worth $144 last fall so I sold it via Gazelle) So even if Androids outsell iPhones 2:1 today that doesn't mean there are 2x more Androids in use on a daily basis.

Plus, the people surveyed were in three US states and two countries, and probably were in bigger cities rather than in small towns or farms. People who live in cities tend to make more money, and thus are more likely to buy iPhones (because if you make less, you might consider iPhones too expensive and not consider them)

As I pointed out to another poster, consider that it is Piper Jaffrey doing this. They aren't in the business of doing scientific surveys, and don't claim this to be one (the media who reports it may imply otherwise, but they get the facts wrong all the time) They just want some information to allow them to get a ballpark estimate for iPhone 5 in an attempt to determine what Apple's stock price will do.

DougS Silver badge

Re: null and void

Keep in mind who Piper Jaffrey is. They aren't trying or claiming to have a statistically perfect survey. They just want to get a market pulse to see what sort of estimates they should make for iPhone 5 sales. So they survey New York and California as they're all that matters, and picked Minnesota to represent the flyover country of the other 46 states that don't matter to them. They include China because it's where Apple's biggest recent growth is, and toss in Korea since that's where Apple's biggest competition is based. To the money guys on Wall Street, Europe is the world equivalent of the US flyover country, just a bunch of open space you that adds hours to your flight when you go somewhere that matters, i.e. Asia. :)

The fact that media quotes it like it's a scientific survey is not evidence of bias for Apple anymore than headlines about finding the "god particle" is evidence of bias for religion, or headlines in 2003 about Saddam trying to obtain yellowcake uranium was evidence of bias for the Bush administration. Very little of the media is knowledgeable in science, or statistics, or capable of independent investigation. They just rewrite stories coming from others and are in too much of a hurry to worry about getting the details right.

US deploys robot submarine armada against Iranian mines

DougS Silver badge
FAIL

Stupid design

If it is going to be destroyed by the mine anyway, why does it need the shaped charge? Don't mines detonate when something hits them? All the sub needs to do is run into it. Hard to imagine something that just changes depth and moves slowly controlled by a fiber optic cable needs to cost anything like that. I wonder if there are hobbyist minisubs similar to the hobbyist RC planes, helicopters and boats? Bet those could ram the mine for much less than $100K!

Perhaps this won't work because the mines require a substantial amount of force (as with a heavy and/or fast ship) to detonate? If that's the case, then you should be able to have the minisub attach a shaped charge to the mine with a timed fuse and get away to a safe distance before it blows. Or once it verifies the mine, back away to a safe distance and hit it with a mini torpedo with a shaped charge in the head (OK, a minisub that shoots mini torpedos surely costs more than $100K, but unless those mini torpedos are very expensive you'd still come out ahead)

Unfortunately the DoD currently has essentially no cost constraints, as thousands of minisubs at $100K doesn't even add up to a billion dollars. This is a rounding error in their budget. The guys making the thing have some obvious incentives to design it stupidly like this so you need a new minisub for every mine cleared!

Apple, Google and Amazon sneakier than BANKERS and OIL FIRMS

DougS Silver badge

Turning a blind eye

I'm sure Enron investors were prepared to turn a blind eye due to it doing well as an investment. Until their lack of transparency was found to be concealing a bunch of shell corporations where losses had been hidden...

I own Apple and Berkshire Hathaway, amongst the ones they named near the bottom, so I guess I'm doing this too. Apple makes a ton of money, and much of their low score here is probably due to a maze of offshore holdings for which little public information is available, which they use to save on taxes. Just as Google, Microsoft, Cisco and pretty much all other multinational tech firms that can use transfer pricing on IP to relocate profits to low tax areas do. That's precisely why all the tech firms are clustered near the bottom. Oil companies can't do this sort of thing, as the profits you make on oil in a country you have wells can't be claimed in Ireland or Bermuda nearly so easily :)

Berkshire Hathaway scores low because it is essentially a combination of a publicly held private equity firm and hedge fund. The private equity side, rather than buying distressed companies trying to turn them around, or max out their credit in a planned bankruptcy, buys quality companies in industries like insurance and railroads betting they'll pay off big over the long term. The hedge fund, managed by Warren Buffett, doesn't take the usual overly generous 2/20 cut the rest do, but more like a 0.1/0, and us regular folks can buy into it without needing millions of dollars to do so. If private equity firms and hedge funds were rated by this organization, they'd score pretty low too, for obvious reasons. This type of investment just comes down to whether you trust the guy running it or not.

Aluratek, Coby license Microsoft patents for Android

DougS Silver badge

Re: patent extortion

But if FAT32 is really the only or major source of the MS patents Android is using, why does Android continue to support it at all? All they would lose by removing it from Android would be the ability to read FAT32 formatted SD cards, right? How often would people want to swap SD cards between their phone and PC? If they do so, why couldn't they be required to install a driver to read ext3 or whatever fs format you care to use?

I really really really doubt FAT32 is part of this, or at least anything more than a tiny component of it, for this reason. It is probably some basic patents without which a touchscreen smartphone can't be made. Apple doesn't get sued by MS over these because Microsoft and Apple signed a cross licensing patent agreement ages ago.

Ballmer plays down sales impact of Surface

DougS Silver badge
Alert

Sounds like he's saying it will be expensive

If they were pricing it for the mass market he'd have higher expectations. So here's betting the price will be closer to $1000 than $500, targeted squarely at businesses, with little concern over the consumer market at all.

Microsoft didn't care all that much when Apple sold millions of iPads to college students and housewives, but when they started selling to corporate executives, Balmer got very worried that it would dilute the Windows/Office client lock-in that Microsoft has enjoyed in the corporate world for two decades now.

The only thing that doesn't make sense is how Surface does Office but not Outlook. I guess they are assuming you'd use Outlook Web Access. Thing is, you can do that equally well with an iPad as you can Surface, so if you don't need Office apps while "on the go" (which most don't, view-only is fine, which iPad can do) then it makes Surface and iPad equivalent for most uses. So they might fail to stem the tide of non-Windows tablets in the enterprise, and the crack that opens could pave the way for Balmer's worst nightmare - Chrome desktops starting to infiltrate corporate America.

Chinese smartphone shipments outstripping feature phones

DougS Silver badge

The article makes it sound like this should be surprising

It should not be. Anyone with a clue knows that in a few years there will be no such thing as "feature phones". Even the cheapest phones will be smartphones, most likely all running Android. The cheapest ones may be so low spec they aren't able to do a whole lot more than call and text with some rudimentary browsing, but they will still count as "smartphones" by the current definition.

If you want to see how the smartphone market will look in a few years, just look at the entire mobile phone market today, and all those feature phone OSes (stuff listed as "Java", Series 30/40, etc.) can be pretty much counted as Android, some of the Symbian market goes to Windows Phone, add a few percent to iOS since iPhone will continue to grow a few more years and there you go. Probably 80-some percent for Android, maybe 10% for iOS, a few percent for Windows Phone and a couple percent for "other". RIM will be bought out for it's patents and there will be no Blackberry OS in a few years time.

Maybe the Firefox OS for phones will take some of the low end share that would otherwise go to Android, as another "free" competitor it has a chance of doing so but it's success or lack of remains to be seen. Samsung has talked about doing it's own OS (Bada I think it is?) so given their current hardware market share it could be a decent chunk of the mobile market in a few years, but that's really the only other one that could possibly have a noticeable market share in a few years time.

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