Microsoft shouldn’t kill Bing and Xbox

There have been rumors going around that Stephen Elop would kill the Bing and Xbox divisions if he becomes the CEO of Microsoft. Despite the Bing and Xbox divisions not offering any clear profit just yet, they’re still integral to Microsoft’s long term strategy. It wouldn’t make much sense to just discard them.

Microsoft shouldn’t hire any CEO who wants to kill Bing and Xbox

It’s important to be a little wary of this kind of anonymous, unsourced commentary. It may not be accurate, and it may be agenda-driven. This kind of “thinking” appeals greatly to short-term investors who are more interested in boosting the next quarter’s numbers than the long-term health of the company. The anonymous leak could, therefore, tend to make Elop seem more appealing to Wall Street.

Conversely, the leak shows a lack of strategic thinking and somewhat undermines the Xbox One, a product that launches in a couple of weeks. That’s not likely to inspire confidence in a CEO candidate.

Pushing the boundaraies of digital editorial design

David Sleight writes on A List Apartabout the exquisitely-designed articles such as the “Snow Fall” article ran by the New York Times last year.

The real implication of the time and resources critique is that there isn’t an adequate return on all this investment. Turns out that creates a damn nice opening for dealing with objections over ads, too.

This is something designers need to really consider, especially in today’s age of increasingly short attention span. Web pages only have split seconds to hook readers.

Certain pages can afford to invest the time and effort to build gorgeous designs, such as Apple’s product pages. But certain types of article do not appeal to as wide an audience and it would be a waste to expend such resources.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 review: Unapologetically content-driven | TechHive

Andy Ihnatko of TechHive reviews the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.

But the best features of the HDX are the ones that make it a Kindle. No other tablet—the iPad included—is so keenly tuned to the needs of content consumption.

People buy the Kindle to consume content. It is no surprise that Amazon makes it the focus of the Kindle Fire HDX.

A curved iPhone?

Despite Samsung and LG recently introducing phones with curved displays, I remain highly doubtful that Apple will introduce an iPhone with a curved display anytime soon, if ever. Aside from showcasing the technology for curved displays, there still isn’t any real practical use for a curved phone. A curved display would make much more sense on a wearable device, though.

The continued rumor of a larger iPhone, possibly with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays is also welcome and continues to gain traction.

Apple Said Developing Curved iPhone Screens, Enhanced Sensors

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, said a person familiar with the plans.
Two models planned for release in the second half of next year will feature larger displays with glass that curves downward at the edges, said the person, declining to be identified as the details aren’t public. Sensors that can distinguish heavy or light touches on the screen may be incorporated into subsequent models, the person said.

Apple invests heavily in synthetic sapphire

It could be taken as a sign that the rumored iWatch is inching closer to reality, or that future iPhones (and iPads) will have a sapphire display. Either way, the use of sapphire crystals for watch faces has been around for a long time and is very useful. I personally hope that it makes its way to tablets and phones, possibly eliminating the need for screen protection film.

Why Apple Bought $578M Worth Of Sapphire In Advance

“First, this material must be extremely strategic, says Creative Strategies Analyst and Techpinions columnist Ben Bajarin. “It is necessary for Touch ID because it is extremely scratch-resistant. If a scratch got on your thumb scanner it wouldn’t work. So then the question becomes what else may they want or need to use a scratch resistant screen for. This is where the wearables idea or watch comes in.”

There has been a lot of chatter about Apple and wearables, and it is indeed working on something in that arena. Apple’s M7 motion coprocessor likely has something to do with it, and there are some indications that it’s being worked on by both Bob Mansfield and ex-Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch.

Watches, a popular wrist-mounted wearable you may have heard of, often use sapphire for their face covers because of their durability. They simply get knocked around more than phones do.

Acer CEO resigns

The New York Times Bits reports on the resignation of Acer CEO JT Wang.

Acer is the fourth-largest PC maker in the world, but it has been hit hard by a decline in sales of desktop computers as more consumers and businesses turn to tablets and other devices. The company said Tuesday that its sales in the most recent quarter were 92.15 billion Taiwan dollars, down 12 percent from a year ago. It posted an after-tax loss of 13.12 billion Taiwan dollars, or $446 million, for the quarter.

Another company that was not able to adapt to the winds of changes fast enough. This resistance to change is perhaps reflected in the article’s comments section.

Lenovo blocked from acquiring BlackBerry by Canadian government

The Globe and Mail reports on the Canadian government’s rejection of Lenovo’s plan to acquire BlackBerry.

Beijing-based computer manufacturer Lenovo Group Ltd. actively considered a bid for BlackBerry Ltd., but the Canadian government told the smartphone company it would not accept a Chinese takeover because of national security concerns, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Ottawa made it clear in high-level discussions with BlackBerry that it would not approve a Chinese company buying a company deeply tied into Canada’s telecom infrastructure, sources said. The government made its position known over the last one to two months. Because Ottawa made it clear such a transaction would not fly, it never formally received a proposal from BlackBerry that envisioned Lenovo acquiring a stake, sources said.

It was perhaps a blessing in disguise for Lenovo.

Microsoft makes $2 billion from Android patents, loses $2.5 billion on Skype, Xbox, and Windows Phone

Business Insider reports on comments made by analyst Rick Sherlund on Microsoft.

For the past few years, Microsoft reported the revenue and operating losses of Entertainment and Devices, which was the group that housed Xbox, Windows Phone, and those Android royalty payments.

That group always seemed to be profitable, but Sherlund says it’s largely because of the Android money.

Sherlund says that if you back out the Android profits, Microsoft is probably losing $2.5 billion on Skype, Xbox, and Windows Phone. Of that, $2 billion in losses are attributable to the Xbox platform.

It is interesting to note that Google does not charge licensing fees for Android but Microsoft ends up making big earnings purely through patents.

And of course, do note that these claims are not official figures.

About the new iWork for Mac

Apple’s support document regarding iWork for Mac.

In rewriting these applications, some features from iWork ’09 were not available for the initial release. We plan to reintroduce some of these features in the next few releases and will continue to add brand new features on an ongoing basis.

Good to know that they have not ditched these features. I believe it is a step backwards on the OS X front for iWork so that the suite can move forward together with iOS and iCloud versions of the apps.

I will gladly bite the bullet now and look forward to a future where the apps are compatible and transferable across platforms.

Apple has left the older version of the apps available because they know that people will still want the features and made sure that users had a choice which version of the apps they want to use.

In the meanwhile, you can continue to use these features by accessing the previous versions of the iWork applications which remain installed on your Mac. The previous versions can be found in Applications > iWork ’09.

Apple employs ‘warrant canary’ to warn users of future compliance with Patriot Act info requests

Apple reports on government information requests(PDF) includes a silent alarm to warn users if it had been forced to comply to such requests.

But another aspect of Apple’s report today stands out as a bold and clever move. Senior Counsel & Free Expression Director at Center for Democracy & Technology Kevin Bankston, formerly an EFF Attorney, noted an interesting claim in the document. Specifically, Apple stated specifically that it had never received a PATRIOT 215 order.

The very last line of Apple’s report today states “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

The cleverness of this becomes evident when you realize that if it had received such an order, it could not disclose it under current rules surrounding national security orders for user data. This tactic of announcing ‘nothing’ with regards to a government subpoena for data is known as a kind of ‘warrant canary’. Basically, Apple says that at this point it has not received any such order. But, if that phrase stops appearing in future transparency reports, this acts as a ‘canary in a coal mine‘ that indicates to users that it may have been forced to comply with such an order and not disclose it in the future.

Clever indeed. Apple is trying its best to be socially responsible by including such a silent alarm.