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Notions: The Digital Watch 2.0


Seiko 06LC (left) and Samsung Galaxy Gear (right)

Notions is a weekly column that delves into what did, what should, what could, or what needs to happen in the world of technology and pop culture.

In 1973, Seiko released the first watch with a six-digit LCD, the 06LC (pictured above), jump-starting the era of digital watches. The first digital electronic watch was the Hamilton Pulsar P1,  developed in 1972, but it was too expensive at $2,100, and much too power-hungry to be anything more than a harbinger. The 1980s were the golden years for digital watches, and watchmakers attempts to differentiate themselves from one another resulted in watches with seemingly outlandish features. Casio popularized the calculator watch in 1980 with the C-80; Seiko created a digital watch with a blue and gray LCD that came with an external TV tuner in 1982; the same year, a Casio digital watch came with a thermometer; in 1987 Citizen built a watch that reacted to your voice. While not experiencing the same success as in previous decades, the digital watch market finds itself in a reasonable position, still quite popular in the lower-end watch market.

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CE at CES: CES 2013 in Photos

The Photo of CES

No matter where you go on this planet, there will be someone taking a photo with something they shouldn’t be using.

I attended CES last week. I saw a ton of gadgets, more TVs than any normal person would come across in their lifetime, and a few very strange keynotes that involved Steve Ballmer, Big Bird, Malibu, multiple videos of young parents with their children professing how their smart refrigerator brings their family together, and an electric Rolls-Royce. All in all, CES 2013 was an amazing trip that opened a door to the immediate future of the tech industry, even if that future may not be as bright for the conference itself. We’ve put together a photo essay so you can experience the madness and magic that was CES 2013.

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2012 in Review: Google


Join Current Editorials as we take a look back at the top trends, gadgets, and companies of 2012 in our year-end series “2012 in Review.”

Google enjoyed what I would call a blockbuster year in 2012. They made a few major acquisitions, released a successful line of new Android products, bolstered their internet services, and introduced their vision for the future of computing. In 2012, Google cemented their position as an unstoppable internet behemoth, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

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Horace Dediu Analyzes Samsung’s Marketing Spending, Confirms It’s Really High

Samsung Electronics Marketing Expenses

Image Credit: asymco

In a recent analysis of Galaxy Note II sales numbers, we speculated Samsung’s largely successful marketing campaign was helping it overcome the traditional problems associated with selling t’weener devices. In “The cost of selling Galaxies,” a recent post over at asymco, Horace Dediu analyzed Samsung’s sales numbers and found a strong correlation between marketing spending, a combination of advertising dollars and other forms of promotional spending, and growth in handset sales. As you can see from the chart above, Samsung’s marketing budget dwarfs the advertising budgets of other large technology companies. The strategy’s working for Samsung, but it comes at a price—the Korean electronic giant’s handset profit margins, while high, are not as high as they could be. Be sure to check out the source link for an in depth look at Samsung’s advertising budget and the affect it has on the handset market.

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Samsung Announces Galaxy Note II Sales Figures, Over Five Million “Phones” Sold

Image Credit: Samsung Korea

Image Credit: Samsung Korea

Samsung just announced that the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II has sold over five million units worldwide. That’s two million more than Samsung had sold just a month ago, when the Korean electronics company reported sales broke three million. Five million units is a merely respectable figure in the smartphone market, but the Galaxy Note and Note II have done incredibly well for what are essentially specialty devices. The massive Note II is too big for most consumers to comfortably use as a primary phone, despite carrier support for traditional telephony services, and too small to replace larger tablets. Samsung’s strong sales in spite of the Note II’s weird size are most likely the result of a strong, albeit snarky, marketing campaign for the entire Galaxy line and support for styluses, a feature most phones and tablets lack. You can check out the Korean press release here.

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Apple Drops Orders From Samsung and Looks to Others for iPhone 5 Memory Chips

Reuters reported last night that Apple has reduced its orders for memory chips from its rival/supplier, Samsung. It appears that Apple is attempting to diversify its supply chain options in order to protect its business. Given Apple’s recent court victory in its patent infringement suit against the South Korean firm, it comes as no surprise that Apple is looking to secure memory from other sources.

Some have believed that Samsung’s post trial statement which alleged that Apple’s victory would lead to “potentially higher prices” was an indicator that Samsung intended to make up its court losses by simply raising prices for components used in iPhones. However, to stir up a major dispute with a major supplier without a plan to keep the supply chain moving would be very much out of character for Apple CEO and mastermind, Tim Cook.

Sources indicate that Apple has not completely dropped Samsung as a Supplier, but is rather lowering the quantities that it is purchasing while looking to Toshiba, Elpida Memory, and SK Hynix to obtain NAND and DRAM chips.

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If You Want to Back a Winner, Get the New Kindle Fire

Image Credit: The Verge

Today’s Kindle announcements made one thing clear: if any Android tablet manufacturer is going to hold their own against Apple’s iPad or the flood of upcoming Windows slates, it’s Amazon.

It’s weird to type that, because what Amazon announced today wasn’t that impressive. The new Kindle Fire and Fire HD look a hell of a lot nicer than Amazon’s first tablet, but they’re still not up to the build quality of an iPad or a Transformer. The software isn’t that good, app selection is mediocre, and the core carousel interface isn’t exactly inspired. The screen is good, but Apple and others have better. The price beats the competition, but it won’t stay that way for long; Asus’ and Samsung’s prices are a hairs breadth away from Amazon’s, and what’s to stop them from shaving another seventy-five bucks off come Christmastime?

No, Amazon has the edge because they have something no one else in the Android ecosystem, not even Google, has—focus. They don’t just want the Fire and the Fire HD to succeed; they need it to. Amazon is a massive conglomerate, the Internet’s 1990’s Microsoft. They sell server space, shoes, books, IMDB subscriptions, free shipping, and local daily deals. They run a Netflix competitor and an iTunes Match clone. They knocked off Dropbox and bought Audible. You name it, they probably do it, or will do it, or have done it. Like Google, they try everything once and most things twice.

But unlike Google, Amazon has decided to put everything together in one product. IMDB, the bastard stepchild Amazon bought for a lark? It’s now powering contextual trivia searches in your movies.  Audible audiobooks? Amazon will read them to you while you look at your e-ink copy. All of those media services everyone forgets come with their Prime subscription? It’s all at your fingertips on the brand new Kindle Fire. The original Kindle Fire was a portal to Amazon content, just like the Kindle was a portal to Amazon’s books. Sure, it was integrated with all of Amazon’s other stuff, but just because that’s how Amazon justified selling hardware at a loss. The Kindle Fire then didn’t feel like the future of Amazon; it felt like the future of the Kindle, one small part of Amazon, an unfocused web giant.

With the new Fire, things feel different. It feels like Amazon is making the Fire line the priority of the entire company, not just the content departments. Any service they have, no matter how unrelated it might seem, is going to find its way into Amazon’s tablet line up. Bezos has made selling the new Kindle Fire the priority of his entire company. And you know what? What Bezos wants, Bezos gets. Early Amazon succeeded because Bezos focused the entire company on books. He wanted to transform a single industry, and he did. Since then, Amazon has stretched out, grown, gotten bigger. But in the process, it’s gotten slower, messier. It was starting to lose its focus and its edge. Now, things are changing. There’s a goal line, a plan, and a flagship product everybody has to get behind. The Amazon that is is becoming more like the Amazon that was. And the Amazon of the old, the ruthless bookseller that drove everybody out of business? That’s not a company I would bet against.

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The Apple vs. Samsung Verdict: Apple wins, Samsung owes over $1 billion in damages

A final verdict has been reached in the Apple vs. Samsung patent case, and the jury has, for the most part, ruled in favor of Apple.

On the matter of the disputed software patents, the jury had to look at a number of Samsung devices and determine whether or not they were infringing. The jury found that most of Samsung’s devices do infringe Apple’s software patents, including snap-back, pinch-to-zoom, and scroll-to-zoom, though a handful of devices were found to be non infringing. Making matters even worse, the jury determined that Samsung willfully infringed some of these patents, which could lead to an even larger payout for Apple when all is said and done. While Samsung tried to argue the validity of some of Apple’s patents, the jury found none of Apple’s patents to be invalid.

Looking at hardware, the jury found Samsung guilty of infringing 3 of Apple’s iPhone design patents, as well as diluting the “trade dress” of the iPhone 3G. Trade dress is a legal term that refers to the connection between the design of a product and the consumers’ perception of the company that made it. Essentially, the jury found that the iPhone design was made less iconic due to the existence of similar looking Samsung phones. However, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 did not, according to the jury, infringe Apple’s iPad design patent, nor did it dilute the iPad’s trade dress.

For their violations, the jury determined that Samsung owes Apple over $1 billion in damages – $1,049,343,540, to be precise.

Samsung’s claims against Apple were not well received by the jury: they ruled that Apple’s iPhone 3G, 3GS, and iPhone 4 do not infringe on any of Samsung’s patents, and therefore Apple does not owe Samsung anything in damages.

Source: The Verge [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Live Updates (Ended):

6:45 PM EST: Jury has ruled for specific devices; some infringe, others don’t. The gist: the majority of Samsung’s devices were found to infringe all three of Apple’s software patents.

6:42 PM EST: Nilay Patel explains: “All Samsung devices infringe the 381 scrollback patent.”

6:40 PM EST: Here we go! Juror Ms. Parker-Brown is reading the verdict. Jury finds that Samsung DID infringe Apple’s patents!

6:36 PM EST: The jury is now entering the courtroom.

6:33 PM EST: Judge Koh is reading over a document. Unclear if that document is the verdict form or not. The Verge is saying that the document does appear to be the verdict form.

6:27 PM EST: Judge Koh is going to take a quick look at the verdict form to make sure everything is in order. She says if she finds obvious inconsistencies, she will “send them back”.

6:22 PM EST: Judge Koh has granted Samsung’s request for 30 minutes to review the verdict, saying “I think that makes sense.” Also, Judge Koh has not yet seen the verdict herself.

6:21 PM EST: Judge Koh has entered the courtroom… this is it.

6:19 PM EST: As Nilay Patel over at The Verge points out, the fact that a decision was reached so quickly is surprising. This was a complex case, and some 700+ decisions had to be made by the jury in order to arrive at a final verdict.

6:10 PM EST: All of the press and legal teams are seated in the courtroom. Waiting for Judge Koh and the jury to arrive.

Source: The Verge