You can't talk about mobile gaming without mentioning the elephant in the room: the free-to-play model. The bane of many a purist gamer and unwitting parent, an over-reliance on free downloads and hooks for in-app purchases has made mobile gaming a minefield of games based on upsell and addiction. Italy's had enough, and its antitrust authority is investigating app store owners Google, Apple, and Amazon, and game publisher Gameloft, for unfair commercial practices.
Apple and Google have been fighting it out over patents ever since Android devices went on sale. Until today, that involved more than 20 ongoing lawsuits (in the US and Germany) between the two technology behemoths. In a joint statement earlier today, Apple and Google have announced all that is over. They will be ending the patent cases and will instead work to reform patent law.
This certainly sounds great, but it's probably not as significant as you're imagining.
Apple didn't have it all its own way: the jury also found that none of the Samsung phones presented violated two other Apple patents, and they awarded Samsung $158,400 after finding Apple guilty of unintentionally violating one of the Korean company's patents presented in a counter-suit.
Samsung's advertising has been somewhat hit or miss lately, ranging from pretty decent scifi ads for the Galaxy Gear to cringe-worthy infomercials for the same product. But it looks like there's been something of a shift in the company's promotional direction, or at least in the way that it responds to Apple's sometimes hyperbolic TV ads. Check out this new one-minute spot for the Galaxy TabPRO 10.1.
The ad plays up the TabPRO's high-resolution screen with a better aspect ratio for movies versus the iPad Air, plus its ability to fit multiple apps on the screen at once, which has been a staple of TouchWiz for a while.
Just like every other manufacturer, Huawei would really appreciate it if you paid them some attention starting next week. Once Mobile World Congress starts, it'll be a mad melee of journalists, PR managers, presenters, and executives all scrambling to either show off or see the latest hardware. Huawei is being a bit proactive with their announcement trailer, poking fun at the world's two biggest phone makers in the process. IDC says Huawei is currently number three.
You might have noticed something missing from the Play Store in the last few days. One-click theming app Themer Beta by MyColorScreen was pulled from Google Play late on February 2nd due to a copyright complaint from Apple. When it will return is not clear, but it's probably not going to be immediate.
Chalk one up for the bad guys. FOSS Patents reports that Chinese manufacturer Huawei and the Rockstar Consortium (a patent holding company jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Sony, and Ericsson) have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Huawei in November. Both parties have filed to dismiss with prejudice, and have almost certainly agreed to some kind of licensing settlement, though financial details don't have to be reported.
Despite it being the holiday season, there is little jolliness in Google's legal department. Google has just filed a lawsuit against Rockstar. No, not the game maker of GTA fame. This legal attack is aimed at the Rockstar patent holding company owned jointly by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony, and Ericsson. Rockstar has been going after Google and various Android OEMs for patent infringement and Mountain View has apparently had enough.
Rockstar's patents come mostly from the purchase of the Nortel portfolio a few years ago, but Rockstar itself is merely a litigator of patents – it doesn't make anything.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Reuters reports that the Rockstar consortium, a joint effort between Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and Blackberry, has sued Google and Android manufacturers Samsung, HTC, LG, ASUStek, Huawei, ZTE, and Pantech over patents formerly held by the now-defunct Nortel Networks. Rockstar won the patents in an auction in 2011 that topped out at $4.5 billion - Google lost the same auction with a $4.4 billion bid.
Back in the days of the original Galaxy S and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Samsung was frequently accused of copying Apple at every turn (often by Apple themselves). And let's not kid ourselves, Android fans: back then, Samsung kinda had it coming. Over the last three years Sammy has been forging its own identity with unique hardware designs, massive software development, and enough money to make King Midas feel insecure. So why are they still pining after Apple like a love-struck college freshman stalking the starting quarterback?