Broadband Internet

Archive for January, 2012

Jon Rubinstein Leaves HP and webOS Behind

by on Jan.28, 2012, under Broadband Internet

rubensteinFormer Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein has officially left HP, effective today. Rubinstein became CEO of Palm in 2009 and led the company’s push with webOS, eventually selling the company to HP in 2010. When asked if he had any immediate plans, Rubinstein said he was going to take a well-deserved rest after working on webOS for the last few years. And what a last few years they have been.

Rubinstein’s first big hit came when he worked at Apple where he created the iPod. In 2009, he wowed CES with the Palm Pre. However, a series of bad business decisions left Palm in dire straights. HP bought the failing company when under the command of Mark Hurd. Rubinstein opted to stay on with a 12-24 month contract, which he has now completed. Hurd’s successor, Leo Apotheker tried to kill webOS entirely, but current CEO Meg Whitman has decided to open source the platform instead.

Near the end, Rubinstein was assigned to the Personal System Group at HP, and a new manager took over webOS. That made it pretty clear he was working on an exit strategy. Where do you think Jon Rubinstein will show up next?

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UP Patent Office Invalidates Major Rambus Patent

by on Jan.28, 2012, under Broadband Internet

rambusBefore smartphone patents took over the spotlight, everyone’s favorite patent troll was Rambus. The technology licensing firm has been using the so-called Barth patents for years to sue tech companies and extract licensing fees as a settlement. After invalidating two of the three Barth patents earlier this year, the U.S. Patent Office has now invalidated the third as well. 

It was the Barth patents that Rambus used to win lawsuits against Nvidia, HP, and more. The technologies described in these patents pertained mostly to memory chip design, and were considered to be Rambus’ most valuable IP. Rambus pulled in $312.4 million in revenue last year on the strength of its patent portfolio. That amount is likely to drop in 2012.

Rambus can appeal the latest blow to its business, but a Patent Office examiner is unlikely to disagree with the appeals board that invalidated it. The company has other patents to throw around, but none can pull in the kind of fees the Barth patents did. Do you think it’s time for Rambus to ride off into the sunset?

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WSJ: Facebook IPO Filing Coming Next Week

by on Jan.28, 2012, under Broadband Internet

fbInvestors have been salivating over the possibilities for years, and according to the Wall Street Journal, the wait is nearly over. Facebook is going to file for its IPO next week with a company valuation of between $75 an $100 billion. Not only will the IPO let people own a piece of Facebook, but this will finally let employees cash out those stock options.

Facebook is looking to raise about $10 billion on that $100 billion valuation, so most of the company will remain privately owned. Shares of Facebook have been sold privately for several years, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been cautioning the company against taking on too many investors lest it be forced to divulge financial data to the public before an IPO.

If a $100 billion valuation happens, that would make Facebook worth about half as much as Google, and the same as McDonald’s. One thing’s for sure, though. Facebook is about to transform its employees into the newest round of Silicon Valley millionaires.

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Your Next Laptop Might Have a Kinect Inside

by on Jan.28, 2012, under Broadband Internet

The thinking heads at Redmond envision laptop users shaking their rumps and gyrating in front of their notebooks in the not-too-distant future. Imagine being able to raise your hand and manipulate tiles in Windows 8 or moving around documents (insert inevitable comparison to Minority Report). That’s the path we’re on as Microsoft flirts with the idea of integrating Kinect motion sensors into laptops.

Actually, it’s more than just an idea. According to The Daily, prototypes already exist. TD actually got to play with one recently.

“The devices, which at first glance appear to be Asus netbooks running Windows 8, feature an array of small sensors stretching over the top of the screen where the webcam would normally be,” TD explains. “At the bottom of the display is a set of what appear to be LEDs.”

TD says a source at Microsoft confirmed that the devices it played with are official prototypes. The question is, what practical use is a Kinect-enabled laptop? That will be up to developers to decide. Gaming is an obvious application of motion control, but might be of limited appeal on a laptop or netbook. According to TD, Microsoft probably isn’t going to develop its own laptops and will instead license the technology to hardware manufacturers, so they will be the ones who ultimately decide what to do with the technology.

Does a Kinect-enabled laptop interest you?

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Politicians Lash Out, Wear Guy Fawkes Masks After EU Signs SOPA’s Big Brother

by on Jan.28, 2012, under Broadband Internet

With all the headlines about SOPA and PIPA, it’s easy to forget that President Obama already signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement way back in October. ACTA bypassed the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the United to create a new, multinational governing body that can crack down on intellectual property concerns. Like SOPA and PIPA, ACTA is full of loose language and privacy concerns, and it’s caused a lot of hand-wringing in Europe. Yesterday, the EU and 22 of its members signed ACTA, prompting several backlashes; the EU’s ACTA investigator quit in outrage, and Polish politicians donned Guy Fawkes masks.

Kader Arif was appointed by the European Union to investigate and scrutinize ACTA, which was drafted behind closed doors with the help of the MPAA, RIAA, BSA and other industry organizations. He quit the position and lashed out at the EU after it signed the treaty yesterday, saying the process was basically rigged.

TechSpot quotes Arif as saying he “faced unprecedented maneuvers from the right wing of Parliament to impose an accelerated schedule to pass the agreement as soon as possible before the public is alerted, thereby depriving Parliament of its right of expression and the tools at its disposal to carry the legitimate demands of citizens.” According to the BBC, Arif says the process had “no consultation of the civil society” and a “lack of transparency since the beginning of negotiations.”

Meanwhile, Poland has been rocked by massive protests against ACTA — and the country still signed the agreement yesterday. Several Polish politicians members appeared in Parliament holding Guy Fawkes masks in front of their faces to protest the move. TechDirt, which reported the story and provided the picture above, points out that the homemade paper masks are “counterfeit” copies of the actual masks Time Warner holds rights to — thereby giving the protest a deeper level of delicious irony.


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