Research in Motion’s sinking stock price

It’s a sad, sad state of affairs to see an early pioneer of the modern day smartphone in such a slump.

Over the past 24 hours, we learned that RIM was in some level of acquisition talks with two parties: Microsoft/Nokia and Amazon. And as is probably apparent by now, both of the acquisition talks petered out. 

Above these fine words you’ll find RIM’s falling stock price, starting from when the original iPhone was released until just a few days ago. This is what a downward spiral looks like in two dimensions. 

Developers choose iOS over Android

According to Flurry Analytics, the iOS platform is chosen over Android about three-to-one.

Surprising? It shouldn’t be.

However, Eric Schmidt feels that this is going to change in six months. Initial reviews of Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.0 are overwhelmingly positive, so if Google and its partners can find a way to get the latest version of Android onto devices, they could swing things their way. The proof is in the pudding.

understatementblog:

The announcement that Nexus One users won’t be getting upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich led some to justifiably question Google’s support of their devices. I look at it a little differently: Nexus One owners are lucky. I’ve been researching the history of OS updates on Android phones…

Very interesting piece by Michael DeGusta. Worth a read if you haven’t done so already.

Ice cream sandwiches are tough to deliver

Sony Ericsson and Motorola have both weighed in on the process of getting Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to their respective devices. The conclusion: it’s going be a while.

1. Merge and adapt the new release for different device hardware architecture(s) and carrier customizations

2. Stabilize and ‘bake’ the result to drive out bugs

3. Submit the upgrade to the carriers for certification

3.5 Perform a Customer pre-release

4. Release the upgrade

What’s even more ridiculous than a step number 3.5 is the amount of work that it takes to get all of the Android devices to the current. Software development is no easy task, but there’s something fundamentally wrong when the majority of devices released can’t keep up with the release schedule.

Google just got screwed by Verizon

Once upon a time, Google fought tooth and nail to keep the 700 MHz spectrum “open,” which has been the company’s mantra since Android’s release, only to be outbid by Verizon. While they didn’t necessarily “win” that auction, they did get the open access they so coveted. The two later got together and released the Droid, which turned out to indisputably solidify Verizon as the premier carrier for Android. So when news breaks that Verizon and Google are planning to sell the Galaxy Nexus without the Google Wallet service, it reeks of an irony so thick not even Archer can overlook. The Galaxy Nexus runs on Verizon’s 700 MHz LTE network — the same 700 MHz network Google tried so hard to keep open.

One of the open access rules that Verizon must abide by states that applications can’t be blocked from being used on the network. For better or for worse, Verizon is in the clear on that one. Dan Frommer states:

But the reality is that even if Verizon technically isn’t blocking the app from being installed, it is using its commercial leverage over Google to prevent Google from distributing it. I’d be willing to bet that Google would rather distribute its new flagship “Nexus” phone with Google Wallet preinstalled than without it. So, in effect, Verizon is using its influence over Google to prevent the app from being distributed. Call it “blocking without blocking”.

That is a problem. Google pretty much needs Verizon. And what’s even worse, Verizon knows that.

Verizon set out a statement concerning the buzz surrounding the purported lack of Google Wallet.

Recent reports that Verizon is blocking Google Wallet on our devices are false. Verizon does not block applications.

Google Wallet is different from other widely-available m-commerce services. Google Wallet does not simply access the operating system and basic hardware of our phones like thousands of other applications. Instead, in order to work as architected by Google, Google Wallet needs to be integrated into a new, secure and proprietary hardware element in our phones.

"Does not block applications." That phrasing is interesting. Verizon doesn’t feel like Google Wallet is an "application" but rather something that goes beyond, "integrated into a new, secure and proprietary hardware element."

The reason as to why Verizon is asking Google not to include the app is still up in the air, but we do know that Verizon is “continuing our commercial discussions with Google on this issue.” I’m hoping I’m wrong, but that’s pretty much code for, it’s probably not coming.

MG Siegler puts it in a few short words:

You get in bed with the devil, the devil fucks you.

Basically.

AT&T’s got 99 (minus 97, but probably more than 99) problems but a b**** ain’t one

Consumer Reports:

"In the newest satisfaction survey of Consumer Reports online subscribers, a provider called Consumer Cellular topped the Ratings—and AT&T found itself at the bottom of the Ratings for the second year in a row."

Poor AT&T. It doesn’t look like they’re going to get that big merger with T-Mobile to go through, and they’re still grasping at air when it comes consumer satisfaction. Can you guess which one of their problems they really care about?

Consumer Reports

Verizon isn’t really trying to sell these Motorola tablets

Today, Verizon announced the the Droid Xyboard tablets, the latest foray into Android tablet realm. The Xyboard comes in the 8.2- and 10.1-inch varieties, LTE connectivity, Gorilla Glass display, dual-core 1.2 GHz processors, front and rear cameras, and mobile hotspot. The Xyboard tablets are shipping with Android 3.2, but Verizon is promising a 4.0 upgrade later on with not much of a committal on a time frame.

Ok, let’s talk about pricing. Spoiler: it’s not good. The tablets start at $429.99. Not only is that more pricey than the WiFi-only models available elsewhere, Verizon requires a 2-year contract. You know, there’s another 3G tablet on the market you can buy that it doesn’t require a contract. Call it luck, but I think it’s sold more than a few units.

One percent of minors sext, says study

1. CD9 – code 9 parents are around

2. P911 – parent alert

3. PIR – parent in room

4. 8 – oral sex (or ate)

5. GYPO – get your pants off

6. GNRN – get naked right now

7. RUH – are you horny

8. CU46 – see you for sex

9. IWSN – I want sex now

10. GNOC – get naked on camera (webcam)

Ostensibly, only one percent of minors sext. I thought it would be higher than that, but I guess not. According to the study by the Pediatrics journal:

"Only 1 percent of kids aged 10 to 17 have shared images of themselves or others that involve explicit nudity, a nationally representative study found. Roughly the same number said they’d shared suggestive but less graphic photos"

Also, they use just the worst text language.

London Free Press via Gizmodo, CBS News

Amazon Kindle Fire to hold 50 percent of Android tablet market in 2012, says analysts

According to the analysts at Evercore:

"While Amazon’s Kindle Fire has come out of the gates strong, as expected, we see Apple maintaining its competitive lead, if anything accentuated by what now looks like the only tablet to so far mount any credible iPad challenge apparently needing to do so by selling at cost; not to mention Amazon’s success may just vaporize other "for profit" Android tablet OEM roadmaps (e.g., we est Amazon 50% of all Android tablets in CY12)."

I don’t think it’s any surprise that, barring any groundbreaking move from Google and its partners, that the Amazon Kindle Fire could be dominant Android tablet.

CNN

What does Carrier IQ know about you?

A few days ago, the tech blogosphere more or less blew up after learning that software company Carrier IQ sent a rather nasty cease-and-desist letter to an XDA developers member. The grounds ? The XDA member in question, Trevor Eckhart, had discovered and exposed Carrier IQ’s tracking software residing in Android handsets. If you have never heard of Carrier IQ, it’s quite all right, few have. The pre-loaded code is ostensibly able to track everything that happens on your device, without the user being able to opt in or out, remove or disable. If you were curious of what it can track, here’s a quick list: keyboard keystrokes, receiving / sending a text message, button presses, whether your screen is on or off, and calls. Scary, isn’t it?

Carrier IQ later retracted their cease and desist letter and put out the following statement:

"Our action was misguided and we are deeply sorry for any concern or trouble that our letter may have caused Mr. Eckhart."

Now, I made that distinction above that it “can” do all those things for an important reason: the software has the capability to indiscriminately track and log what one does, but it doesn’t, according to the company. They stressed that their software “does not record keystrokes” and “does not provide tracking tools.” Fair enough. Even more interesting is the wording in this line:

"[Our software] does not inspect or report on the content of your communications, such as the content of emails and SMSs"

Notice that Carrier IQ doesn’t refute the fact that their software handles a user’s text message; only that it “doesn’t report on the content.” That could very well be the case, but we now know that the Carrier IQ software does, in fact, know what the contents of the text messages are. (Jump to 12:27 http://youtu.be/T17XQI_AYNo)

Since the whole kerfuffle, carriers have come out left and right, revealing their association with Carrier IQ. Nokia, Verizon, RIM, Microsoft, and HP have all denied any affiliation with Carrier IQ. Meanwhile, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, HTC, Samsung, and Apple all admit to have it installed touting maintaining good network performance as their basis. Apple, however, stated that they stopped supporting Carrier IQ pre-iOS 5 and “will remove it completely in a future software update.”

As far as Android goes, the tracking software is found on many of the handsets, but Google has put out an official statement and said that they have “no affiliation with the company” — none of the “pure Google devices like the Motorola Xoom and Nexus devices ship with the software pre-loaded.

According to HTC:

"Carrier IQ is required on devices by a number of U.S carriers."

So at least one among Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T require their devices to ship with Carrier IQ.

And if things couldn’t get any more gripping, a class-action lawsuit was filed on Friday against the likes of Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ in the Delaware Federal Court. Of course, it’s way too early to tell which way this case will swing — or even if it’ll advance past this preliminary stage — but I’ll certainly keep an eye on it.

The bigger question her is how much does it track? At first blush, it seems like a lot, but the carriers are standing their ground and saying it’s only tracking data for “network performance.” Grab your popcorn, folks, because this will only get more interesting. Just ask Sony.