parallel_prankster writes: NYTimes has an interesting article about how patents are really stiffling inovation in the tech industry. Today, almost every major technology company is involved in ongoing patent battles. Of course, the most significant player is Apple, industry executives say, because of its influence and the size of its claims: in August in California, the company won a $1 billion patent infringement judgment against Samsung. Former Apple employees say senior executives made a deliberate decision over the last decade, after Apple was a victim of patent attacks, to use patents as leverage against competitors to the iPhone, the company’s biggest source of profits. At a technology conference this year, Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said patent battles had not slowed innovation at the company, but acknowledged that some aspects of the battles had “kind of gotten crazy.” It is a complaint heard throughout the industry. The increasing push to assert ownership of broad technologies has led to a destructive arms race, engineers say. Some point to so-called patent trolls, companies that exist solely to sue over patent violations. Others say big technology companies have also exploited the system’s weaknesses. “There are hundreds of ways to write the same computer program,” said James Bessen, a legal expert at Harvard. And so patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology. When such applications are approved, Mr. Bessen said, “the borders are fuzzy, so it’s really easy to accuse others of trespassing on your ideas.” The number of patent applications, computer-related and otherwise, filed each year at the United States patent office has increased by more than 50 percent over the last decade to more than 540,000 in 2011. Google has received 2,700 patents since 2000, according to the patent analysis firm M-CAM. Microsoft has received 21,000.
parallel_prankster writes: NYTimes reports that etched into the base of Google’s new wireless home media player that was introduced on Wednesday is its most intriguing feature. On the underside of the Nexus Q is a simple inscription: “Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.” The Google executives and engineers who decided to build the player here are engaged in an experiment in American manufacturing. “We’ve been absent for so long, we decided, ‘Why don’t we try it and see what happens?’ ” said Andy Rubin, the Google executive who leads the company’s Android mobile business. The project will be closely watched by other electronics companies. It has become accepted wisdom that consumer electronics products can no longer be made in the United States. During the last decade, abundant low-cost Chinese labor and looser environmental regulations have virtually erased what was once a vibrant American industry. Since the 1990s, one American company after another, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Apple, has become a design and marketing shell, with production shifted to contract manufacturers in Shenzhen and elsewhere in China.
Now that trend may be showing early signs of reversing. It’s a trickle, but some American companies are again making products in the United States. While many of those companies have been small, like ET Water Systems, there have also been some highly visible moves by America’s largest consumer and industrial manufacturers. General Electric and Caterpillar, for example, have moved assembly operations back to the United States in the last year. (Airbus, a European company, is said to be near a deal to build jets in Alabama.)
parallel_prankster writes: Anonymous Industry sources have confirmed that Google is developing a low-budget tablet in an attempt to bolster a floundering stable of Android-based tablets. The rumored 7-inch tablet, dubbed the Nexus Tablet, could cost the same price as the Amazon Kindle Fire, $199, or even better — $149. Industry sources say that Asus is working with Google to make a 7-inch tablet loosely based off of the Asus Memo 370T, which debuted at CES 2012. Industry sources say that Asus is working with Google to make a 7-inch tablet loosely based off of the Asus Memo 370T, which debuted at CES 2012. An anonymous source from a U.S. supply chain has told the tech blog Android and Me that the new small-form tablet will cost $149, while the more visited site the Verge has a source that says the new tablet will cost $199.
parallel_prankster writes: Washington Post reports Tuesday it will require users to allow the company to follow their activities across e-mail, search, YouTube and other services, a radical shift in strategy that is expected to invite greater scrutiny of its privacy and competitive practices. The information will enable Google to develop a fuller picture of how people use its growing empire of Web sites. Consumers will have no choice but to accept the changes. The policy will take effect March 1 and will also impact Android mobile phone users. “If you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services,” Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering wrote in a blog post.