Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Twitter Apologizes for 'Mess Up' in Suspending NBC Critic - Businessweek

Twitter Inc. apologized for a “mess up” surrounding the suspension of journalist Guy Adams, who used tweets to criticize Olympics coverage by the company’s business partner, NBC.

Twitter blocked Adams’s account after he posted the work e- mail address of NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel, urging people to complain about the network delaying broadcasts of events. Twitter said today that some of its staff, who were working with NBC in covering the Olympics, identified the tweet as a violation of its terms of use and then encouraged the broadcaster to report the violation.

“We want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up,” San Francisco-based Twitter said on its blog. “We do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us. We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is -- whether a business partner, celebrity or friend.”

Twitter restored Adams’s account today, following an outcry over his suspension. Critics said that by initially blocking Adams’s account, Twitter put the partnership with NBC ahead of its goal of disseminating information.

Losing Trust

“Twitter has a business relationship with NBC,” said Jeff Jarvis, a professor at City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. “If Twitter acts in a way to favor that business relationship over the freedom of its platform for its users, then Twitter risks losing the trust of those users.”

Twitter’s Trust and Safety team, which polices its users, wasn’t aware that its own employees alerted NBC to the tweet before the broadcaster filed its complaint, Twitter said today.

“The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a tweet that was in violation of the Twitter rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation,” Twitter said on its blog. “Our Trust and Safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other.”

After Adams was reinstated on Twitter today, NBC said it hadn’t realized that its complaint would lead to his suspension.

Complaint Rescinded

“Our interest was in protecting our executive, not suspending the user from Twitter,” NBC Sports, a division of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) (CMCSA)’s NBCUniversal, said in a statement. “We didn’t initially understand the repercussions of our complaint, but now that we do, we have rescinded it.”

Twitter users expressed dismay over Adams’s suspension using tweets accompanied by the hashtag #twitterfail. The social network’s users rely on hashtags, marked with a pound symbol, to make it easier to find posts on the same topic.

“I don’t think I have done anything wrong, and I don’t think any reasonable person would think I’ve done something wrong,” Adams, a writer for the U.K.’s Independent newspaper, said in an interview before his suspension was lifted. “If it’s standard practice to be immediately suspended after someone complains, it’s a dangerous policy. I’m surprised because I always thought Twitter was a company dedicated to the flow of information.”

Adams had criticized NBC in a number of tweets for its policy of tape-delaying major Olympic events and the opening ceremonies so that it could air the programming during prime time. Live events are available for cable subscribers online.

In posting Zenkel’s corporate e-mail address, Adams was sharing something he deemed to be public and widely available. Twitter said today those distinctions aren’t always clear.

“We’ve seen a lot of commentary about whether we should have considered a corporate e-mail address to be private information,” the company said in its blog response. “There are many individuals who may use their work e-mail address for a variety of personal reasons -- and they may not. Our Trust and Safety team does not have insight into the use of every user’s e-mail address.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net; Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net; Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

The Fate of the iPhone 5 - PC Magazine

Rumors has it Apple will release a new iPhone in September and the company must nail the launch to remain a leader.

According to rumors, a new iPhone and a smaller iPad are set to launch in September. The iPad, if anything like Google's Nexus 7, will be anticlimactic and scrutinized to an extreme. The iPhone 5 will be Apple's only shot at regaining the mindshare that has been leaking from the iconic brand since the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note and the other large Android phones.

This is now Apple's game to win or lose. It will all be determined by the initial reviews and whether or not Apple can muster lines of customers around the block outside the Apple stores days in advance of the sale.

I have trouble believing Apple can manage to keep this string going. The iPhone 4S already looks dated and the older iPhones seem particularly clunky.

This is both good and bad news. It's good news if Apple has identified a societal phone fashion trend similar to the mania that took place in the 1950s when car makers would completely change their designs every year. During this era, which saw the development of huge fins as style elements, people would buy new car after new car, finding a way to trade in their older ones.

Similarly with the Apple iPhone, many users have bought one after the other, always preferring the newest release. If Apple can keep this up, it can turnover another slew of phones just by reselling to the exact same customers.

This can only be done using a precise marketing ploy. It's cool to have an iPhone, but having an old one makes you look cheap. You do not want the 1956 Chevy, you want the new 1957 Chevy.

This sort of marketing is extremely risky and there is no guarantee it will work. That said, Apple is known for having the single greatest industrial in-house design team of any major corporation. In other words, it's possible the company can pull off such a feat. But part of the reason it has been so successful in the past is because the judge and the jury of the design team was the great aesthetic minimalist, Steve Jobs. I've always argued that it took forever to release a white iPhone because Jobs did not think it was the "right" white. This is just a supposition, of course, but most agree with my thesis.

Now, it's possible that Jobs was not as good as his design team and what they would ultimately decide on their own would be better than Jobs' selection. The fact is that we have no idea who is calling the final shots anymore. It could be Cook. It could be a committee. It could be Jobs' widow.

One thing is for sure: this new phone has to be more noteworthy than the 4S, which did little else but add one major feature. Otherwise, the media will attack both the phone and the company with all sorts of articles second-guessing everyone. Look for words in headlines such as "yawner," "ho-hum," "nothing special," "more of the same," "boring," and so on. This would be bad. The phrases you want to see are "Apple does it again," "Apple surprises," or "OMG, perfection!" This will generate those lines around the block one more time.

Now is the time to place your bets.

You can Follow John C. Dvorak on Twitter @therealdvorak.

More John C. Dvorak:
•   The Fate of the iPhone 5
•   The End of the iPod (Thank God!)
•   World Leaders Do Not Tweet for Themselves
•   Clean Up Your Mess
•   The 7-Inch Phablet
•  more

Go off-topic with John C. Dvorak.

Apple, Samsung both claim innovator status in opening of patent trial - Computerworld

IDG News Service - Apple and Samsung Electronics hurled strong statements at each other in the opening rounds of their Silicon Valley patent trial on Tuesday, kicking off a case that could result in billions of dollars in damages.

In a packed federal courtroom in San Jose, California, attorneys for each company led the jury through numerous patent infringement claims and laid out what they believe their evidence will show. Though both companies claim the other infringed their intellectual property, the bulk of the presentations on Tuesday revolved around Apple's charges against Samsung.

Apple sued Samsung in April 2011, charging a long list of patent violations involving both designs and software features of the iPhone and iPad in Samsung's Android devices. Samsung countersued days later, alleging that Apple infringes some of its patents. The cases have since been consolidated. Both companies' claims have been pared down significantly on orders of Judge Lucy Koh, who is hearing the case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Tuesday's opening statements, each about 90 minutes long, were the start of what will be just 25 hours for each company to make its case. The jury trial is expected to last several weeks. Both sides also face the challenge of making some highly technical arguments understandable to jurors.

Apple painted itself as a trailblazing company that has seen its inventions stolen by a latecomer. Samsung claimed to be an innovator itself, pointing out that it supplies many of the components that go into Apple's products, including the vaunted iPad Retina display.

Apple took a risk when it entered the smartphone market with the iPhone in 2007, said Harold McElhinny of Morrison & Foerster, Apple's lead attorney in the case. "They were literally betting their company," he said.

When the product succeeded to the point of transforming the mobile phone business, Samsung copied it, McElhinny said. "It's easier to copy than to innovate. It's far less risky," he said.

The centerpiece of McElhinny's presentation was a set of images of Samsung phones from 2006, followed by one from 2010. He argued that the 2007 introduction of the iPhone transformed Samsung's phone designs and that the South Korean company's later products, starting with the Galaxy S i9000 in June 2010, used Apple's patented design elements.

"Samsung decided simply to copy every element of the iPhone," he said.

The features Apple claims Samsung copied include user-interface elements such as the ability to zoom in and out by pinching, and scroll through a document using one finger, as well as the basic design of the iPhone and iPad. The key design elements of a plain rectangle with rounded corners, a neutral border, a thin bezel and a flush glass surface are all described in design patents, which Apple charges that Samsung violated. McElhinny dismissed the idea that such designs were necessary for how a smartphone or tablet is used.

"Just because a product has a function ... doesn't mean that there is only one way to design it," McElhinny said.

Apple presented documents it said were evidence that Samsung set out to copy its successful products, including a translation of an analysis of the iPhone with the note, "HW portion: Easy to copy," with "HW" referring to hardware. Samsung documents also referred to a "crisis of design" as mobile operators demanded the vendor make handsets like the iPhone, McElhinny said.

Samsung has made a long series of products that infringe Apple's patents, including the Galaxy S II phone and Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, selling 22.7 million units of infringing products and rolling in a profit of more than $2 billion on them, Apple said. Consumers confuse those products with Apple's, and their sales have eaten into Apple's own business, McElhinny said.

Samsung's lead attorney, Charles Verhoeven of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, acknowledged Samsung engineers had been "inspired" by the iPhone and iPad but said that was business as usual in the electronics industry -- and claimed Apple did the same when it created its own designs.

"Being inspired by a good product and seeking to make even better products ... is called competition. It's not copying, it's not infringement," Verhoeven said.

Samsung will argue that Apple's patents are invalid, partly by showing earlier products and design patents that used elements Apple is claiming as unique, Verhoeven said.

For example, he pointed to the Hewlett-Packard TC1000 tablet from early in the last decade, as well as a 1994 concept designed by Roger Fidler, called simply "The Tablet," that had a rectangular shape with minimal ornamentation and rounded corners like the iPad.

"There's a difference between commercial success and inventing something," Verhoeven said.

Verhoeven also countered the charge that Samsung's products infringe Apple's patents. In one of the more dramatic moments of his presentation, he held up an Apple tablet prototype, called the "035 model," which was the basis of Apple's 2004 application for the so-called '889 design patent. The unit looked like the bottom half of a white iBook from that era, nearly an inch thick and made of white plastic. Its face was plain and flat, covered with glass, with a black border around the display.

Verhoeven held it up next to a Samsung Galaxy Tab, which was black and just a fraction of the thickness of the Apple model. The two could never be confused with each other, and the Samsung doesn't violate the '889 patent, he said. Apple doesn't even claim that patent on its own iPad, Verhoeven said.

Samsung will also present its own patent infringement claims against Apple, in which it says Apple uses fundamental technologies for mobile communication that Samsung developed. These include the ability to email photos from a phone. Verhoeven showed a video of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs demonstrating that feature at the iPhone launch.

Apple said it will show that Samsung's handling of some of its mobile patents violated the rules of the standards body ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute), which should have been informed of the patents. Samsung said those rules didn't apply because its patent applications were confidential information.

One of the ten jurors was dismissed on Tuesday morning before the opening statements began. She had requested to be let go because her employer would not pay her during the long trial.

The rest of the jury is likely to be in for a long and contentious series of arguments from both sides.

"Samsung hasn't done anything wrong," Verhoeven said at the conclusion of his opening statement. "If anything, what we have here is infringement by Apple."

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2012 International Data Group. All rights reserved.

Apple TV: Is Apple's 'hobby' finally ready for prime time? - Digitaltrends.com

Apple TV (feature)

Is adding Hulu Plus another signal that Apple TV is ready to move beyond hobby status to a star of Apple's lineup?

Most speculation about Apple entering the television market swirls around the still-fabled “iTV” â€" an Apple-branded flat-screen television presaged in last year’s authorized biography of Steve Jobs in which he commented he’d “finally cracked” the issues surrounding an Apple television.

However, in the meantime, the diminutive Apple TV has quietly risen to dominate the market for set-top video streaming devices. At what point does the existing Apple TV stop being a “hobby” and start being a market-leading product? Could the iTV faithful one day wake up to find they’ve already been looking into Apple’s television universe for some time?

Hulu Plus

Apple TV Hulu Plus

Apple showed some progress on the Apple TV front on Tuesday by adding Hulu Plus to the box in an update. Hulu Plus remains a paid subscription service on the Apple TV â€" $8 per month, with a one-week trial available for free â€" but billing is handled through users’ iTunes account rather than directly with Hulu. That arrangement mirror’s Apple TV’s Netflix integration, and anyone who has used Netflix on the Apple TV will notice other similarities: The app offers menu access to Hulu’s most popular and recommended selections, along with the usual video categories, lists of recently-watched titles, and a search function. Users will also be able to pick up programming where they left off on another device. Start watching a show on the iPhone, for instance, and you can resume watching at the same place later on the Apple TV.

Of course, Hulu Plus on the Apple TV doesn’t magically work around all issues with the service. Despite the monthly charge, Hulu Plus videos are still peppered with advertisements. Various licensing restrictions also hinder the service â€" Apple TV subscribers will still find access to some material is delayed as much as a month after broadcast to prevent Hulu Plus from siphoning audience away from networks’ first-run broadcast and cable offerings. Other Hulu Plus content is flat out missing on Apple TV: If users want to watch it, they’ll have to fire up a Mac or PC.

…plus Netflix, iTunes, and Airplay

Apple TV (hand)

Besides Hulu Plus, Apple TV offers access to staples like YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr â€" not to mention one of the best Netflix clients. Sports fans enjoy access to NBA basketball, baseball via MLB.TV, and NHL hockey. Business folk can tap into WSJ Live. Users can also watch television shows and movies they’ve purchased or rented from iTunes on the Apple TV. That includes content tucked away in local iTunes libraries or (via AirPlay) on nearby iOS devices. Same thing goes for users’ local music libraries (stream the to the television audio system) or and photo libraries.

Apple’s first forays with the Apple TV were marred a bit bit a high price tag, lackluster high-definition support, and dependency on an iTunes application. Back when the first Apple TV debuted in 2007 it was priced at $300, only handled high-definition video up to 720p, and was essentially an accessory to a local iTunes-equipped Mac or PC. With the second-generation version, Apple shrunk down the unit, rebuilt it on top of iOS, removed its dependency on a separate computer, and dropped the price tag to $99, but the units were still stuck at 720p. The third-generation models, revealed along with the third-generation iPad back in March of this year, finally added support for 1080p content, including video from iTunes and Netflix.

AirPlay support â€" which is now also in OX S Mountain Lion â€" can’t be underestimated. iOS and now OS X users can seamlessly send their screens to their Apple TV-equipped HDTVs. It’s not always perfect â€" content optimized for one format doesn’t always work on the other, and some video technologies can’t be easily shared with AirPlay. But the ability to play games on an iPod touch while viewing a big screen, view and edit photos, or share video wirelessly and transparently via Apple TV is probably a glimpse at the direction Apple has in mind for its television offerings.

A not-so-little hobby

Despite these strides, Apple still describes Apple TV as a “hobby.” Apple first showed Apple TV technology in 2006 â€" back then, believe it or not, Apple was using the name “iTV” â€" which incidentally is the trademark of a major UK broadcaster so don’t expect Apple to return to it. The first iteration of the Apple TV lingered on the market for over two years, leading many to wonder if Apple had simply abandoned the living room. It was only when the second generation appeared (with its much lower price tag) that the Apple TV started to be a serious option for consumers, with 1080p support finally putting it in a category high-definition fans would consider. Yet Apple barely markets the Apple TV, and it’s very unusual even to see a demo unit at Apple’s highly-trafficked retail stores. Most of the interest in Apple TV is generated by word-of-mouth, much of it online.

How much interest? During the quarter ending June 2012, Apple disclosed sales of 1.3 million Apple TV units â€" up 170 percent from the same quarter a year before â€" but only after being prompted about it during the question-and-answers section of the results call. The figures brings Apple TV sales for the fiscal year to 4 million devices â€" roughly corresponding to the introduction of the 1080p version. Since introducing the $99 compact version of the Apple TV, the company has sold 6.8 million units.

Those numbers may not compare significantly to Apple’s other hardware businesses â€" during the same period, Apple sold more than 44 million iPads, over 416 million iPhones, and more than 13 million Macs. But that’s comparing (ahem) apples to oranges. How did Apple TV fare against other set-top streaming solutions?

Roku Streaming Stick

Pretty darn well. Roku is arguably one of the most successful video streaming solutions: and at $50, it’s even cheaper than the Apple TV. Roku does not disclose sales figures, but in March 2012 Roku’s CEO claimed the company was experiencing 132 percent year-on-year growth, and reports had put total sales at the time at around 2.5 million units. About 1.5 million of those sales were reportedly during 2011. Roku still seems very happy with its progress â€" and the company just announced it’s locked in another $45 million to fund development and marketing.

What about game consoles, which also offer streaming video? During the quarter ending in June, and Microsoft sold 1.1 million Xbox 360s, and Nintendo managed to sell about 710,000 Wii consoles. Sony’s PlayStation 3 did better, selling 1.9 million units during its final fiscal quarter of 2011 (which ran into March 2012).

So the Apple TV outsold the Xbox 360 and the Wii â€" although, it’s worth noting the Wii is at the end of its life (with the Wii U already lined up to replace it) and the Xbox 360 has been on the market since 2005.

Vizio debuts $99 Google TV-enabled Co-Star box

What about Google TV? No official sales figures are available from Google or third parties supporting the platform, but industry estimates still put total sales of Google TV below a million units. That may be changing â€" Google’s Eric Schmidt famously forecast that by the middle of 2012 (e.g. right about now) about half of new TVs would sport the Google TV platform. Although that hasn’t come to pass, Vizio says it can’t keep up with pre-orders for its new Co-Star set-top box based on Google TV. The company sold out of its first batch in 12 hours and had to shut down pre-ordering again later. The Co-Star is due to ship August 14.

Looking to the big screen

So why is the Apple TV a hobby? Because sales of the Apple TV pale in comparison to purchases of HDTVs, cable set-top boxes, and even Blu-ray players â€" which have never taken off the way the industry hoped they would. Market analysis firm NPD estimates that a total of 245 million HDTV units will ship in 2012 â€" and that’ll be a decline of 1.4 percent compared to 2011. Even if Apple has a blow-out year with Apple TV, unit sales are unlikely to total even five percent of the global HDTV market for the year. Similarly, Apple TV’s sales will represent just a fraction of other accessories folks tend to get with HDTVs: namely, set-top boxes from cable and satellite operators, and perhaps even Blu-ray players.

Apple TV (rumored)

These numbers highlight why, if Apple wants to be serious about Apple TV, it will probably look at making its own televisions. For Apple, it won’t be about trying to dominate the television market â€" it will be about offering a complete end-to-end experience. Although it’s logical enough to think of televisions simply as a large monitor, most consumers use a television as a television first and foremost â€" a way to watch live video content from broadcasters, cable, or satellite providers. Anything else users want to do with their “monitor” is a peripheral function, whether that’s streaming video from Netflix, watching a DVD, playing games, or engaging with so-called “smart TV” functions like Skype video chat.

With Apple TV, Apple is likely (at best) a second or third peripheral in a chain of devices outside of Apple’s control. Apple’s vision of a television will likely be something that operates much more like an iOS device. That’ll include messages, social networking, calendars, reminders, apps (think about what Retina-enabled apps will look like on an HDTV) and all the services that are rolled into iCloud. And don’t be surprised if Siri or at least voice recognition makes an appearance. After all, why hunt for a remote control if you can just tell your television to pause or mute? An Apple TV will have to tightly integrate with users’ iOS devices, digital content libraries, and iCloud services â€" and, perhaps most importantly for Apple, it will likely attempt to turn cable and satellite providers into just another peripheral device.

If Apple can’t do that in a way it believes is compelling, Apple TV will go away. Ultimately, Apple is not a company that indulges hobbies.

Google Delays Nexus Q Launch in Order to Add New Features - Wired News

Google’s Nexus Q won’t go on sale in July as previously promised, but the delay is actually a win for would-be fans of the streaming media device.

The team behind Google’s first independently engineered and manufactured hardware is delaying the public product launch to add new functionality to the device. But there is a silver lining for those who’ve already committed to a life with Nexus Q. While Google isn’t providing any information on exactly when the hardware will launch, and has also stopped accepting pre-orders, those who’ve already pre-ordered a Nexus Q from the Google Play store will still be getting their devices in the next few weeks.

What’s more, instead of paying $300 for a device that’s still in a process of becoming, Google is going to ship Nexus Qs to pre-order customers for free. In essence, Google will be treating all its general-public pre-order customers just like the thousands of developers (and journalists) who received Nexus Q for free at the Google I/O conference. Nice move, Google!

After Nexus Q was revealed at I/O, the hardware itself received much praise, but the general consensus was that the streaming media sphere supports too few services. In its current iteration, it only plays streaming audio tracks from Google Music, and video from Google Play and YouTube. Like our own reviewer, most technology critics gave the Q lackluster marks.

Those who pre-ordered a Nexus Q on Google’s Play storefront were notified of the delay via email on Tuesday. The message, with the subject line of “Status of Your Nexus Q Pre-Order,” reads:

We have an important update about your Nexus Q pre-order.

When we announced Nexus Q at Google I/O, we gave away devices to attendees for an early preview. The industrial design and hardware were met with great enthusiasm. We also heard initial feedback from users that they want Nexus Q to do even more than it does today. In response, we have decided to postpone the consumer launch of Nexus Q while we work on making it even better.

To thank you for your early interest, we’d like to extend the Nexus Q preview to our pre-order customers and send you a free device. If you had other items in your order, your credit card will be charged for those items only.

Your Nexus Q will be on its way soon and you will receive a notification and tracking number from Google Play when it ships.

The Nexus Q Team

So what features will Google be adding to the Nexus Q? Google declined to comment for now, but told us that the Android team is hard at work adding more functionality.

We, however, have some ideas on what Google should add. Why not load up Nexus Q with a graphical user interface, such as Android or Google TV (which is built on Android), and give the hardware the ability to run Android apps? Right now, the Q’s audio functionality is entirely tied into three Google services, and that’s way too limiting. Hackers have already shown us that the Nexus Q can handle Netflix just fine, but the $100 Apple TV already does Netflix and Hulu Plus. Allowing the Nexus Q to easily run any Android app could push the gadget beyond these lower-priced set-top boxes.

Adding full Android support would also allow us to play back music via Rdio and Spotify, as well as play games such as Angry Birds, Canabalt and Shadowgun.

Another welcome addition would be the ability to stream audio from Nexus Q to wireless speakers via Bluetooth or AirPlay. While the Nexus Q’s wonderful, built-in 25-watt amp paired with a set of $400 speakers is a beautiful sound system for those who can afford it, the orb should be able to stream to a Jambox and other wireless speaker hardware as well.

What would you like to see the Nexus Q do? Sound off in the comments below. Maybe Google’s listening.

Apple, Samsung Point Fingers as Patent Case Begins - Wall Street Journal


A courtroom sketch of Apple attorney Harold McElhinny, center, delivering his opening statement to jurors.

SAN JOSE, Calif.â€"Lawyers for Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. delivered opening statements Tuesday in their high-stakes patent case, with Apple promising to prove that Samsung comprehensively copied the iconic iPhone and Samsung disputing the originality of the device.

The patent trial pitting Apple against Samsung that kicks off today could help bolster or refute Apple's contention that Google's OS illegally copies software features. Andrew Dowell reports on digits. Photo: Getty Images.

The companies' 90-minute statements kicked off a trial whose evidence features troves of internal emails, secret design plans and wonky technical discussions about the innards of smartphones and the growing importance they play in consumers' lives.

Patent attorneys for the two companies squared off in a debate over smartphone innovation that they traced back to before Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007.

Later in the day, Apple called its first witness, one of company's veteran industrial designers Christopher Stringer, who described various iterations of the iPhone design and said Samsung had "ripped off" Apple.

Documents: Lawsuit and Counterclaim

See annotated versions of Apple's lawsuit and Samsung's counterclaim in the case.

Documents: Trial Briefs

See Apple's and Samsung's trial briefs, filed days ahead of the trial.

Photos: What's at Stake

See some of the products at stake in the case.

Park Jae-Hee/Xinhua/Zuma Press

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet

Timeline: Tablet Tiff

See major events of Samsung's legal woes in patent infringement cases versus Apple.

The event filled much of a gray federal building here as part of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. A crowd of lawyers in suits, Silicon Valley bystanders and reporters packed a courtroom as well as an overflow room equipped with two TV monitors.

The two technology powerhouses are battling to protect their leadership in the cutthroat smartphone business, in which Samsung has surpassed Apple as the market leader. A ruling of patent infringement by either company could force costly technical changes to keep their products on the shelves, not to mention financial penalties. Apple is seeking more than $2.5 billion in damages, and Samsung is seeking a percentage of the costs of Apple's mobile devices.

The case could also affect the course of many other battles contesting which companies can claim title on key smartphone innovations.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh signaled that she'll keep both technology giants on a tight leash during the weekslong trial ahead.

She admonished Samsung lawyers for leaving and entering the courtroom during Apple's opening statement and expressed frustration with lawyers' desire to raise objections to evidence she claimed had been put to rest.

The day pitted Harold J. McElhinny, an attorney representing Apple, against Charles Verhoeven, for Samsung. The experienced patent lawyers approached the nine-member jury with different styles.

Mr. McElhinny, confident but relaxed, cracked a joke about his age and made references to how his grandchild could easily use an iPad. Mr. Verhoeven, who at times sat on a stool due to back problems, was more serious and straightforward, urging jurors not to be swayed by Apple's arguments or commercial success.

Starting first, Mr. McElhinny, of Morrison & Foerster LLP, described what he said is voluminous evidence that Samsung deliberately copied the iPhone.

He discussed a September 2007 internal Samsung "Feasibility Review" which dissected the iPhone. The document referred to the iPhone's "beautiful design" and "easy to copy" hardware.

"At its highest corporate level, Samsung decided to simply copy every element of the iPhone," Mr. McElhinny said, repeatedly contrasting Samsung's designs before and after the iPhone.

Charles Verhoeven, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, countered later in the day that the reports were typical "benchmarking" used for competitors and said Samsung will provide evidence that Apple conducts similar research.

Mr. Verhoeven said that Samsung's designs changed as phones became more powerful and to meet consumer demand. Samsung isn't "a copyist," he said, arguing that the iPhone is less original than Apple claims.

"Apple didn't invent the rectangular shape form-factor you keep seeing," Mr. Verhoeven said, adding that Apple has no right to claim a "monopoly on a rectangular shape."

The Samsung attorney also told the jury that they would find no evidence that a consumer would mistake a Samsung device for an Apple one, addressing a key point the jury will need to consider in deciding whether patents were infringed. Samsung is also asserting that Apple violated several patents it holds related to wireless standards and other features.

Both sides tried to bolster their arguments with plenty of show and tell. Mr. McElhinny displayed images of Samsung's Galaxy phone and ticked off their similarities to the iPhone. Mr. Verhoeven presented his own set of more diverse designs that he said were more representative of Samsung's full lineup.

The arguments largely rehashed contentions both sides have made in thousands of documents in this high-profile patent suit, which Apple fired at Samsung in April 2011. It is one of more than a dozen cases in which Apple is suing the makers of smartphones that run Google Inc.'s Android operating system around the globe, seeking to remove the competing devices from shelves and recoup damages.

But the trial also rewound several years to the beginning of the smartphone industry in order to impress upon the jury how innovative the new devices were. Lawyers tried to make technical arguments more accessible, by pointing to the innards of the phones to show where the technology resides.

Mr. McElhinny referred to the late Mr. Jobs's announcement of the iPhone, painting the device as revolutionary and risky.

"What the world really needed, what it didn't have was a phone that had the capabilities of a computer," he said. He said Apple designers built a phone "the world had never seen before."

He painted the move as a big risk for Apple. "They were about to enter a field dominated by giants," he said, citing Samsung and Nokia Corp. as rivals. "They were literally betting their company."

Write to Jessica E. Vascellaro at jessica.vascellaro@wsj.com

Microsoft's Outlook.com may be one-two punch against Google - Computerworld

Computerworld - Microsoft's new email service, Outlook.com, is more than an update to its free email offering. It's also a one-two punch against major rival Google.

On Tuesday, Microsoft took the wraps off its new webmail service, which eventually will replace the highly popular Hotmail. The updated service is a big redesign that allows Outlook.com accounts to be synchronized across a range of devices, and includes integration with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

"While many people, particularly younger people, rely more on social messaging than email, email is still the preferred method for long-form communication," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "Microsoft wants desperately to run away from Hotmail.... Hotmail got very stale with its feature set and needed to be replaced for this decade's use of richer media, like photos and video, social connected accounts, video communications and chat."

While Microsoft plans to replace Hotmail with Outlook.com, the company also is hoping that it will replace Google's Gmail service for a lot of people. And that would be a blow to a company that has become one of Microsoft's main rivals, competing on several different fronts, including free email services, search, browsers, operating systems and cloud-based enterprise apps.

"This is certainly a competitor to Gmail and, from what I can tell, a very solid competitor," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "Hotmail still has more users than Gmail, although the gap is closing. And Microsoft wants to maintain that lead, if not expand it."

However, that isn't Microsoft's only goal here, according to Olds.

The second blow in Microsoft's one-two punch is to beef up its suite of cloud-based apps for the enterprise, which is a major point of competition with Google and its Google Apps.

For now, Microsoft is billing Outlook.com as a consumer tool. But Olds said not to be fooled by that. Google's Gmail has been billed as a consumer service but it's acted as a gateway into the company's own enterprise apps for a lot of firms.

Olds also noted that Outlook.com could be upgraded to become a full-fledged enterprise app in the not-so-distant future.

"What's interesting is how this new email platform will help to draw attention and act as a springboard into Microsoft's emerging cloud offerings," he added. "A revamped Outlook.com should help Microsoft convince more users to add cloud functionality to their current Microsoft Office installations and thus convert a significant percentage of them to paid subscribers."

Microsoft and Google have been sparring over the enterprise cloud-based app market for a while. There's a lot of money to be made selling to corporate customers and both companies want a piece of that pie.

Microsoft has had an advantage because its Office suite of locally installed work tools have long been the dominant player in that market worldwide. However, Google came to the cloud party earlier than its rival, giving it a head start.

With both companies trying to pull in enterprise users, a socially aware, advanced email service like Outlook.com could be a good entry point for companies.

"Over the long haul, Outlook.com is designed to take customers away from Gmail, but Microsoft needs to first establish that they are in the game," said Moorhead. "I do think Microsoft is in the game with Outlook.com and if the company can promote its independent social features it could pull people from Google."

covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter @sgaudin, on or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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Twitter's breach of trust - CNET

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo

Twitter has been mostly forgiven for its various outages and other growing pains. Instigating the suspension of Guy Adams' Twitter account, however, crosses a line that is less forgivable. The concern is less about a users' account suspension, and more about the way that Twitter has handled the Adams affair over the last few days.

For those keeping score, Adams' Twitter account was suspended on Sunday over a tweet that carried the corporate email address of Gary Zenkel, NBC's top Olympics executive. It also happens that Adams, a Los Angeles-based reporter for The Independent newspaper, has been a harsh critic of NBC's Olympics coverage and that Twitter and NBC are partners in a Twitter site promoting the network's London Olympics coverage. 

Adams' Twitter account was reinstated on Tuesday, due to the "complainant retracting the original request," but the damage was done. In an article published following the return of his Twitter account, Adams wrote:

"For a company whose very raison d'etre is communication, Twitter seems remarkably reluctant to talk. I've been trying, for 24 hours now, to speak with an employee about their decision to suspend my account. But they won't return emails or calls.
"I'd like to ask, for example, how exactly I am supposed to have broken their "privacy policy." Not least because that policy states that: 'If information was previously posted or displayed elsewhere on the internet prior to being put on Twitter, it is not a violation.'"

Whether Zenkel's email address was private or public is a bit fuzzy. Search guru Danny Sullivan contends that the address was not widely available, and therefore supports Twitter's suspension for a rule violation. On the other hand, Zenkel's NBC email address was previously published online and not difficult to surface through a search engine.

But wait, it gets more complicated and less transparent. It was presumed that NBC got fed up with Adams and alerted Twitter to the violation of its terms of service in a tweet. For what became a public incident and subject of debate, Twitter was mostly silent on the matter for 48 hours.

On Monday, Twitter spokespeople said the company cannot comment on individual accounts. An NBC spokesperson stated, "We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives. According to Twitter, this is a violation of their privacy policy. Twitter alone levies discipline." 

The Daily Telegraph added another wrinkle to the story Tuesday, reporting that Christopher McCloskey, NBC Sports vice president of communications, said that NBC's social media department was first alerted by Twitter about Adams' tweet and then filled out and submitted the proper form. 

Twitter has a policy that it is not in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content.

For reference, in some other high-profile incidents that appeared to violate Twitter's policy, accounts were not suspended. In 2010 Justin Bieber tweeted the phone number of someone who was not among his friends to his millions of followers. His account was not suspended. Perhaps nobody filed a complaint.

On Tuesday afternoon, Alex McGillivray, Twitter's general counsel, finally published a response to the Adams incident, acknowledging that Twitter employees working with NBC on the Olympics partnership did flag the Adams tweet with Zenkel's email address and encouraged NBC to report a violation to Twitter authorities:

That said, we want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up. The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter Rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation, as has now been reported publicly. Our Trust and Safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other.
As I stated earlier, we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us. We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is -- whether a business partner, celebrity or friend. 

On the issue of whether Zenkel's email address was public or private information, McGillivary wrote:

There are many individuals who may use their work email address for a variety of personal reasons -- and they may not. Our Trust and Safety team does not have insight into the use of every user's email address, and we need a policy that we can implement across all of our users in every instance.

Now Adams is free to tweet as long as he remains within the bounds of Twitter's terms of service, just like the rest of Twitter's estimated 500-plus million users, if you can figure out more precisely what those rules entail and whether you can break through Twitter's wall of silence. There is an upside for Adams. In the few hours since his Twitter account has been turned back on, he has added more than 10,000 followers. 

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo need not worry that his users will abandon the service or mount protests over the Adams incident. They just won't trust Twitter as much.

iTunes, beware! Samsung launches new Music Hub service - Fox News

  • bgr-galaxy-s-iii-music-hub.jpg

Samsung on Tuesday announced the immediate availability of Music Hub, the company’s new streaming music service for the United States market that wraps iTunes, Spotify and Pandora into one great package.

Initially available on the wildly popular Galaxy S III, Samsung’s mSpot-powered Music Hub brings a massive catalog of more than 19 million songs to users’ Samsung smartphones and to desktop Web browsers thanks to an HTML5-based companion site.

Like iTunes, Music Hub allows users to purchase tracks and download them or store them in the cloud for streaming; like Spotify, Music Hub can stream an unlimited amount of on-demand music to smartphones or computers; and like Pandora, Samsung’s new service offers custom radio stations that provide endless streaming and help users discover new music.

I've been using Samsung’s Music Hub service for more than a week now and I must say, I’m impressed. Because Music Hub tries to be everything to everyone, it takes some time to get used to compared to a service like Pandora, which has a much sharper focus. Once I learned my way around the UI, however, the service was a pleasure to use.

I found almost everything I searched for in Samsung’s catalog of 19 million songs, which is powered by 7digital. The app’s settings allow users to select high-quality streaming or standard quality that comes in the form of 64kbps AAC+ files, and the latter is more than sufficient when data is at a premium. Purchases are downloaded as 320Kbps MP3 files.

Samsung offers two versions of its new Music Hub service, a free version that provides a music store, cloud locker and Web player, and a premium version for $9.99 per month that adds a scan and match feature to make your current music catalog available online, streaming radio and on-demand streaming, and customized recommendations that learn your taste and get better the more you use the service. Users can tap a light bulb icon while playing a song to access the recommendations function.

In a phone interview, Samsung executives made it quite clear that the company realizes it is not a leader where content services are concerned, but it is looking to change that. A comprehensive offering that combines a digital music store, a cloud locker, a streaming radio service and a music discovery engine is absolutely a solid start.

Samsung is offering a free 30-day trial of its premium service to U.S. Galaxy S III users.

This content was originally published on BGR.com

More news from BGR:
- Samsung ripped off the iPhone’s design? Not so fast…
- September 12 iPhone event confirmed â€" but where’s iPad mini?
- Samsung’s ‘Retina’ tablet finally begins to take shape

Opening statements underway in Apple patent trial - Fox News

  • Apple-Samsung Trial.jpg

    Aug. 25, 2011: An attorney holds an Apple iPad, left, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at the regional court in Duesseldorf, Germany.AP Photo/dapd, Sascha Schuermann

Apple has started making its case to a jury that a bitter rival owes it billions of dollars for copying its iPhones and iPads.

Apple's lead lawyer Harold McElhinny began his opening statements Tuesday to a jury of 10 people who will decide the closely watched patent trial between the Cupertino-based company and Samsung Electronics Inc.

Apple alleges in a lawsuit filed last year that Samsung's smartphones and computer pads are illegal knockoffs of its iPhone and iPad. Samsung denies the claim and has countered that it's Apple that's doing the stealing. Samsung is demanding its own damages.

Opening arguments in federal court will be followed by Apple calling its first witness, a company designer. The witness lists of both sides are long on experts, engineers and designers and short on familiar names. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, is not scheduled to testify.

Apple filed a lawsuit against the South Korean company last year alleging smartphones and computer tablets made by the world's largest technology company are illegal knockoffs of Apple's popular iPhone and iPad products.

Apple is demanding $2.5 billion in damages, an award that would dwarf the largest patent-related verdict to date.

Samsung countered that Apple is doing the stealing and that some of the technology at issue -- such as the rounded rectangular designs of smartphones and tablets -- has been industry standards for years.

The case is just the latest skirmish between the companies over product designs. A similar trial began last week, and the two companies have been fighting in courts in the United Kingdom and Germany.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh last month ordered Samsung to pull its Galaxy 10.1 computer tablet from the U.S. market pending the outcome of the upcoming trial, though she barred Apple attorneys from telling the jurors about the ban.

"That's a pretty strong statement from the judge and shows you what she thinks about some of Apple's claims," said Brian Love, a Santa Clara University law professor and patent expert. He said that even though the case will be decided by 10 jurors, the judge has the authority to overrule their decision if she thinks they got it wrong.

'The big part of the case is not Apple's demands for damages but whether Samsung gets to sell its products.'

- Mark A. Lemley, director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology.

"In some sense the big part of the case is not Apple's demands for damages but whether Samsung gets to sell its products," said Mark A. Lemley, a Stanford Law School professor and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology.

Lemley said a verdict in Apple's favor could send a message to consumers that Android-based products such as Samsung's are in legal jeopardy. A verdict in Samsung's favor, especially if it prevails on its demands that Apple pay its asking price to certain transmission technology it controls, could lead to higher-priced Apple products.

Apple lawyers argue there is almost no difference between Samsung's products and Apple's and that Samsung internal documents show it copied Apple's iconic designs and its interface.

Samsung denies the allegation and counter-claims that Apple copied its iconic iPhone from Sony. Samsung lawyers noted the company has been developing mobile phones since 1991 and that Apple jumped into the market in 2007.

Twitter Restores Journalist's Account But Remains at Ethical Crossroads - Wired News

Twitter is in the business of free speech. That’s its product. It provides a broadcasting platform for millions of people worldwide â€" some 140 million monthly users by Twitter’s own count. Twitter famously publishes government data requests, and positions itself as the voice of freedom in oppressed nations.

But now Twitter’s position as a free speech leader is in jeopardy. Twitter has a serious censorship problem on its hands, and how it acts to fix it will reveal much about the company’s future. Because Twitter doesn’t just find itself in the middle of a PR problem. The company’s current predicament demonstrates that its core service conflicts with its own attempts to become a larger media player.

When news broke that Twitter had suspended journalist Guy Adams’ account for violating its privacy rules by tweeting the email address of NBC executive Gary Zenkel, it sent shock waves across the Twitter community. (The account has subsequently been restored but only, apparently, because NBC withdrew its request.) Adams was protesting NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games. Twitter has a partnership with NBC. It even opened a special office in Colorado to work with NBC on its Olympics coverage. That looks like a conflict of interest, and many cried foul, but Twitter was ostensibly just following its own rules.

Twitter’s policy is to automatically comply when someone files a ticket alleging a privacy rules violation, and then works with the user whose account was suspended to bring it back online. That’s a good policy to stop harassment or abuse â€" unless the policy itself is abused, which it seems NBC may have done. But even in that case, if the account can be brought quickly back, there’s little permanent harm done.

Today, however, the Telegraph reported that, according to Christopher McCloskey, NBC Sports vice president of communications, someone from within Twitter itself contacted NBC proactively, pointed out the tweet, and showed the network how to file a complaint. (Wired has reached out to Twitter for a confirmation on this and the company is still investigating NBC’s claims.) If the Telegraph story is true, and there’s no reason to think it’s not, then suddenly Twitter’s actions become an entirely different matter.

Here’s an interesting thought experiment. Imagine that instead of going after an NBC executive, Adams’ target was a dictator. Imagine that Adams tweeted, say, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s email address, along with a call to action to protest his policies. Had Twitter worked back-channel with the Syrian government, showing it how to have Adams’ account taken down on a technicality, it would clearly be an indefensible act of censorship. Heads would roll.

But even though the issues at play are smaller when someone criticizes Olympic coverage, Twitter’s actions are no more defensible. Especially because Adams broke none of Twitter’s rules.

Twitter’s rules state that you can’t post another person’s private and confidential information, and explicitly lists “non-public, personal email addresses.” Adams has argued that the email address was already widely available online to anyone who had access to Google.

While there’s been some debate about whether the address was “widely” available, or whether a corporate email address can be “private,” it was already on the Web. That alone should mean that Adams’ action was not an offense, because according to Twitter itself, that’s all that matters.

Twitter’s policy is remarkably clear on this issue. It says in very clear language that “[i]f information was previously posted or displayed elsewhere on the Internet prior to being put on Twitter, it is not a violation of this policy.” This invalidates any argument concerning whether Adams’ account should have been taken down.

But the account takedown itself isn’t even biggest issue at play. The big question is, Who contacted NBC and why? Odds are this was not a top-level decision. It was probably the action of someone on the Olympics media team, looking out for a partner, and acting on his or her own. Yet the Adams imbroglio reveals a tension in the company, and gets at the heart of the recent debate about whether Twitter is a technology company or a media company. Media companies by definition want to control the message. Twitter, previously, has assured us that it does not want to control the message â€" that as long as we do not violate its rules (and Adams very clearly did not) the tweets will flow.

Just because the Adams flare-up revolves around sports on TV, Twitter should take this no less seriously than were it a geopolitical issue. The same principle is at stake: free speech. Although Twitter must comply with local laws, none were broken in this case. Twitter should defend that principle, or abandon it completely. There’s no room for middle ground â€" especially when it involves a corporate partner. Users are right to be distrustful of Twitter after this debacle. Reinstating Guy Adams’ account was a good first step, but Twitter needs to go farther.

It should start by apologizing to Adams and the greater social community. Then it should explain what happened, and put mechanisms in place to make sure nothing like this happens again in order to reassure its 140 million-plus supporters.

Oh, and Twitter should fire the bejesus out of whoever contacted NBC. Like, escorted from the building immediately.

It needs to treat the person who gave special favor to NBC no differently than it would treat someone who gives special favors to the Syrian regime. It must stand by its “tweets will flow” stance in every case if it’s to demonstrate that it stands for principles, and not just marketing.

Or, it can be a big media player, like its partner, Comcast, which owns NBC.

The bottom line is that Zenkel’s email address clearly wasn’t previously unpublished. Which means it wasn’t a rule violation. Which means this is Twitter’s screw up. It broke its own rules. Now it’s time to make it right.

Microsoft's new Outlook mail is a welcome Hotmail replacement - msnbc.com

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If you're one of the millions of people who are embarrassed to admit that you still have a Hotmail address, your day has come. Seriously, you can migrate to Microsoft's impressive new Outlook email service, and start using its smart services to merge your contacts with Facebook and clean out all the newsletter spam that has built up over the last 1,000 years.

OK, OK, yes, you're saying ... "Outlook? But I already have Outlook. It's an app. On my computer." Well, you can blame Microsoft for confusing things by using the name of their popular email and calendar client as the name of their new service that offers ... email and calendar. But don't let it stress you out. At least you can put your Outlook email service into your Outlook app!

As a Gmail, Hotmail and erstwhile Yahoo mail user, I am sufficiently impressed by what Microsoft has cooked up here, a mail service that will soon mercifully replace the aging Hotmail as the default webmail for Microsoft's Live service. It's called Outlook, and that means you can get an @outlook.com address (today, in fact). You can keep your old Hotmail address too, and even add other aliases â€" completely separate email addresses that route to certain folders â€" to hand out to retailers and other would-be spammers.

Some of the top features are available in the current Hotmail and in comparable form on Gmail and other emails, but what makes this whole thing so nice is its interface, and how so much of the smart stuff happens automatically, or at least semi-automatically. 

Right after you migrate your Hotmail account to Outlook, all those machine-generated newsletters, shipping updates and social updates get readily categorized, for your filing or deletion. Anything with attached documents or attached photos is also called out in a special "quick view" category.

You can very easily apply rules by individual address, a selection of them, or a whole folder or "quick view" category. The main filters, under the Sweep menu, are:

  • Move all from… - Puts every received email from sender into a designated folder, and offers to do the same with future emails.
  • Delete all from… - Deletes every received email from sender, and offers to do the same with future emails.
  • Schedule cleanup - Lets you choose how long you want emails from a given sender to sit in your inbox before they're automatically moved or deleted. (As someone who is bad at cleaning out the inbox, I love this option!)

It may come as no surprise to people who have been watching the development of Windows 8 and Windows Phone that your former Hotmail contacts, along with contacts from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, even Gmail, can be merged into a big ole database labeled People. This is the same People database that is accessible throughout Microsoft's products, so users of Windows Phone, for instance, are basically already set up for Outlook mail â€" they just have to log in.

The social integration doesn't stop there. You can quickly jump on a live chat with someone using Facebook (alternatively, of course, you can use Windows Live Messenger). And when you click on an email from somebody you are Facebook friends with, or who you follow on Twitter, their status appears to the right of the note. And if you're not a friend or follower of them? You can quickly remedy that shortcoming with a click.

The interface itself is clean and butter smooth, with very nice contextual menus that pop up when you need them, one-click read/unread buttons that show up on rollover, drag-and-drop contact info and more. I have yet to see an ad, but when they do appear, they will be (for the time being) shoved off to the far right, in a gutter, which alternately becomes the social update display when you are viewing emails of friends, and a messaging window when you're actively chatting with someone.

Microsoft tells me that the data mined by the Outlook mail service won't go as deep as others, so while ads served will be contextual, they will only be based on the subjects and (name brand) senders of email, rather than on the actual contents of email, which may get more personal. 

At a technical level, smartphone power users may be delighted to know that this new email service is based on Exchange Active Sync which means that when you set it up as a mail account on your iPhone, BlackBerry or other device, you can get push updates, and as more features roll out, treat it as a bonafide Exchange account (but one that's free).

The Outlook mail service is the heart of a major revamp of all of the Live services, and when you sign up for a new account or migrate your Hotmail account to it (by clicking on the Options button), you will see a new People contacts manager and a fresh new SkyDrive interface as well. The Calendar portion of the service is not yet updated, so don't get too mad when it feels a bit crusty by comparison.

Yes, Outlook mail is a work in progress. I've experienced lots of hiccups, particularly surrounding the integration with Facebook and Twitter. It is, after all, in beta and likely to be there for a while. Once Microsoft gets the kinks ironed out, though, and gets a healthy population using it, the plan is to phase out the painfully antiquated Hotmail for good. 

As someone who only touches his Hotmail with the proverbial 10-foot pole, but who has spent an unnatural amount of time over the past few days inside Outlook mail, running smart email filters, watching with glee as a ridiculous amount of old mail gets flushed away, I welcome the change, and applaud Microsoft for doing some real Web innovation here.

Where do you get this new email? Just head over to outlook.com, or log into your Hotmail and click on the Options button. 

Wilson Rothman is the Technology & Science section editor at NBCNews.com. Catch up with him on Twitter at @wjrothman, and join our conversation on Facebook.

Apple V. Samsung: How It Was Explained to the Jury - PCWorld

The 10 California jurors who will decide the rights and wrongs in the battle between Apple and Samsung were sworn in late Monday and alongside instructions on how to proceed during the case, the U.S. judge presiding over the case explained to them the basics of the high-profile battle.

So much has been written in the media -- both factual and opinionated -- about the case that it might seem familiar to many, but the jurors have been told they aren't allowed to read press reports, research it or do their own investigations. The jury members had earlier said they hadn't been following the case, so Judge Lucy Koh brought them up to speed.

Here's how the battle between the two companies was explained to the jurors by Koh, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. (Clicking through the links will take you to the respective sections of the jury instructions document, so you can see the original for yourself.)

Koh began by summarizing the basics of how the case would be run and explaining what is and what isn't evidence, how they should measure the credibility of witnesses, the need to take notes, how the jurors should conduct themselves, and other items that are common to many cases.

She got down to the nitty gritty of the case and provided an overview of the different types of patents at dispute in the case.

"There are two basic types of patents in the United States: utility patents and design patents. In general terms, a "utility patent" protects the way an article is used and works. It also protects a method or process of making or doing something. On the other hand, a "design patent" protects the way an article looks. A design patent protects the ornamental design of an article of manufacture. 'Ornamental design' means the shape of the design and/or the surface decoration on the design."

Though it started differently, the case involves nine utility patents (three Apple and four Samsung) and four design patents (all Apple).

And then it was time to explain the essential elements of the case. So much has been added, excluded, removed and changed in the case through weeks of pretrial arguments that anyone following the case would benefit from reading what Judge Koh wrote to the jurors:

"Apple filed this lawsuit against Samsung, seeking money damages from Samsung for allegedly infringing the '381, '915, '163, D'889, D'087, D'677, and D'305 patents by making, importing, using, selling and/or offering for sale the tablet and smartphone products that Apple argues are covered by claim 19 of the '381 patent, claim 8 of the '915 patent, claim 50 of the '163 patent, and the D'889, D'087, D'677, and D'305 patents. Apple also argues that Samsung's Korean parent, Samsung Electronics Company, actively induced the U.S. Samsung entities, Samsung Electronics America Inc., and Samsung Telecommunications America LLC, to infringe. Apple contends that Samsung's infringement has been willful.

"Samsung denies that it has infringed the claims and patents and argues that, in addition, the claims are invalid. Invalidity is a defense to infringement.

"Samsung has also brought claims against Apple for patent infringement. Samsung seeks money damages from Apple for allegedly infringing the '941, '516, '711, '460, and '893 patents by making, importing, using, selling and/or offering for sale Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod products that Samsung argues are covered by claims 10 and 15 of the '941 patent, claims 15 and 16 of the '516 patent, claim 9 of the '711 patent, claim 1 of the '460 patent, and claim 10 of the '893 patent.

"Samsung also contends that Apple's infringement has been willful.

"Apple denies that it has infringed the claims asserted by Samsung and argues that the claims asserted by Samsung are invalid, and for the '516 and '941 patents, also unenforceable. Invalidity and unenforceability are defenses to infringement.

"For each party's patent infringement claims against the other, the first issue you will be asked to decide is whether the alleged infringer has infringed the claims of the patent holder's patents and whether those patents are valid. If you decide that any claim of either party's patents has been infringed and is not invalid, you will then need to decide any money damages to be awarded to the patent holder to compensate it for the infringement. You will also need to make a finding as to whether the infringement was willful. If you decide that any infringement was willful, that decision should not affect any damage award you give. I will take willfulness into account later.

"Before you decide whether either party has infringed the other's patents, or whether those patents are invalid, you will need to understand the patent claims. As I mentioned, the patent claims for utility patents are numbered sentences at the end of the patent that describe the boundaries of the patent's protection. The patent claims for design patents are the drawings and descriptions of the drawings. It is my job as judge to explain to you the meaning of any language in the claims that needs interpretation.

"I have already determined the meaning of certain terms of the claims of some of the patents at issue. You will be asked to apply my definitions of these terms in this case. However, my interpretation of the language of the claims should not be taken as an indication that I have a view regarding issues such as infringement and invalidity. Those issues are yours to decide. I will provide you with more detailed instructions on the meaning of the claims before you retire to deliberate your verdict."

Koh's explanation continued to the trade dress part of the case:

"This case also involves disputes relating to trade dress. Apple seeks damages from Samsung for trade dress infringement and trade dress dilution. Samsung denies that its products infringe or dilute Apple's trade dress and contends the trade dress is invalid. To help you understand the evidence that will be presented in this case, I will explain what a trade dress is, and I will give you a summary of the positions of the parties.

"Trade dress is the non-functional physical detail and design of a product, which identifies the product's source and distinguishes it from the products of others. Trade dress is the product's total image and overall appearance, and may include features such as size, shape, color, color combinations, texture, or graphics. In other words, trade dress is the form in which a person presents a product or service to the market, its manner of display.

"A trade dress is non-functional if, taken as a whole, the collection of trade dress elements is not essential to the product's use or purpose or does not affect the total cost or quality of the product even though certain particular elements of the trade dress may be functional. Trade dress concerns the overall visual impression created in the consumer's mind when viewing the non-functional aspects of the product and not from the utilitarian or useful aspects of the product. In considering the impact of these non-functional aspects, which are often a complex combination of many features, you must consider the appearance of features together, rather than separately.

"A person acquires the right to exclude others from using a trade dress by being the first to use it in the marketplace, or by using it before the alleged infringer. The owner of a valid trade dress has the right to prevent others from 'diluting' or 'infringing' it. 'Dilution' refers to reducing the capacity of a famous trade dress to identify and distinguish products or services. 'Infringement' refers to another company's use similar to the owner's trade dress that is likely to cause confusion in the marketplace. Rights in a trade dress are obtained only through commercial use of the trade dress.

"Apple accuses Samsung of diluting Apple's Registered Trade Dress No. 3,470,983. This trade dress relates to the iPhone. Apple also accuses Samsung of diluting two unregistered trade dresses relating to the iPhone. Finally, Apple claims that Samsung has diluted and infringed its unregistered trade dress relating to the iPad.

"For each of Apple's trade dress dilution and infringement claims, the first issue you will have to decide is whether the Apple trade dress is protectable. An asserted trade dress is only protectable if the trade dress as a whole is both distinctive and non-functional.

"For Apple's dilution claims, the next issues you will decide are whether Apple's trade dress was famous before Samsung started selling its accused products, and whether Samsung's accused products are likely to cause dilution of the asserted Apple trade dresses.

"Apple's trade dress infringement claim will require you to resolve different issues. You will need to determine whether Apple's trade dress had acquired distinctiveness before Samsung started selling its accused products, and whether Samsung's accused products are likely to cause confusion about the source of Apple's or Samsung's goods.

"If you decide that any protectable Apple trade dress has been infringed or willfully diluted by Samsung, you will then need to decide the money damages to be awarded to Apple. Samsung denies that it has infringed or diluted any Apple trade dress and argues that each asserted trade dress is not protectable. If a trade dress is not protectable, that is a defense to infringement and dilution.

"I will give you more detailed instructions on all of these issues at the conclusion of the case."

The trial begins on Tuesday and is scheduled to run through most of August. The case number is 11-01846, Apple vs. Samsung, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com