Books written by Ray Sullivan

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Apple Rattled by Samsung Release

In the seemingly never ending saga between Apple and Samsung there have been many developments, twists and turns in the last week or so.

On the legal front Apple have persuaded the US judge presiding over the long running patent arguments that a separate lawsuit related to the voice control software Siri should be heard.  Previously she had ruled that they would complicate the whole issue and detract from the current lawsuit; now she has agreed they can start arguing the toss concurrently.  Parallel processing seems a nice touch to this dispute.

Apple did start some legal actions in an attempt to stop Samsung releasing its new Galaxy smartphone but that appears to have faded away, especially as the phone has now been launched, not before Apple made an unprecedented public swipe at it.  Apple historically have let their products do the talking for them and have maintained their dignity when lesser companies might have engaged in negative advertising (or slagging off the opposition as it is known over here in the UK).  But there was a change in Apple's strategy and they stood up to warn potential Samsung purchasers that they would be buying a one-year old operating system with their phone and would need to wait until the next Android software update.  Or, looked at another way, the phone would be shipped with a stable operating system that hasn't needed to be pulled off to have its maps re-jigged and battery draining capabilities updated.  There is a rational reason why Apple have had frequent software updates in the last four months and that is because they got at least one horribly wrong.

But I suspect the real reason Apple resorted to name calling, an uncharacteristically juvenile activity, because they knew Samsung had something better than Siri up its sleeve and decided that this release could be the one to see light of day for it.  Let's be honest here about Siri - while on one hand it is a wonder of technological achievement it still leaves you wondering what the hell it is all about at the same time.

Perhaps it isn't too optimised for British accents - I can understand that, half the time I struggle with some of the regional variations.  Or perhaps it's the idiom; we do have a few quirky ways of saying things; after all, there's owt as queer as folks.  See what I mean?  We play with Siri at home when there's nothing better on the TV, asking it to send an email, set an alarm or play a track.  Often it gets the instruction completely right, but when it gets it wrong! Suffice to say, we're still a way away from the Star Trek 'Computer - find me all the entries related to medieval arm wrestling contests' moment.  Or maybe we're not - perhaps Samsung have cracked the problem.

I'm not picking up any hints that the new Samsung phone does beat the pants off Siri, but I do note that it has made inroads into optical tracking, the technology all the big players are looking (no pun intended) at.  The way the tracking works on the new phone is that when you are looking at an application that reasonably requires an eyes on approach - watching a streaming movie, for example - then if you take your eyes off the screen it pauses.  It'll make watching a movie on the phone while driving safer as you can keep your hands on the wheel.  Samsung's personal contribution to road safety.

Meanwhile Apple are continuing with their claims in the courts - they have made the allegation that Samsung have cost them money with each and every smartphone sold - no mention of the vultures on Wall Street who   pushed the share price up and then sold, causing Apple shares to shed 25% of their value.  At least the lawyers will be happy and I reckon they will be calling each other on their iPhones/Samsung GalaxyS4s to compare fees for some time.


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