Documents on the Federal Communications Commission web site provide a peek at an unannounced handset from Motorola. The XT 1058 was certified with AT&T's unique LTE bands, in addition to 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC -- all hallmarks of a high-end smartphone. Motorola has not released a handset for AT&T since last year's Atrix HD. The most recent batch of high-end smartphones made by Motorola were all sold by Verizon Wireless under the Droid brand. The FCC documents provide a rough sketch of the XT 1058, but no other specific details beyond the wireless certifications.
The European Commission today published the preliminary results of an antitrust investigation against Google's Motorola Mobility unit and found the company went too far. Motorola sought to block Apple from selling certain products in Germany by claiming Apple infringed on its standard essential patents. Apple argued that Motorola was seeking unfair terms for its patents, and eventually European courts agreed with Apple. Motorola's actions, however, sparked an investigation into its patent licensing practices and that is what led the European Commission to today's findings. "I think that companies should spend their time innovating and competing on the merits of the products they offer - not misusing their intellectual property rights to hold up competitors to the detriment of innovation and consumer choice," said European Union competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia. The findings could lead to formal antitrust charges against Motorola, but the European Commission has yet to say what steps it will follow next.
Microsoft has emerged the victor in the first of two patent trials between the Redmond-based company and Google-owned Motorola. Motorola was seeking $4 billion per year in royalty payments from Microsoft over use of its wireless and video technology. Microsoft argued that the patents were worth much less at $1 million per year. U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle agreed with Microsoft. He set the royalty payment at $1.8 million. Microsoft lauded the decision as one that's good for consumers. The second trial between the two companies is scheduled to take place during the summer months, and will determine whether or not Motorola is asking fair and reasonable rates to license its patents.
Sprint today indicated via its user forums that the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update is now ready for the Motorola Photon Q. The system update adds a wide range of new features to the Photon Q, including Google Now, Voice Search improvements, bug fixes, and camera enhancements. The update is being rolled out over the air in stages. Photon Q owners will be notified when their device is ready for the update.
Microsoft has struck another smartphone patent licensing agreement, this time with Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE. Microsoft has similar deals already in place with companies such as Samsung, HTC, LG, Hon Hai, and 20 other companies. Microsoft maintains that its patent portfolio covers certain core technologies that are built into the Android platform. Microsoft is still attempting to get Google's Motorola unit to sign a similar agreement, but has been forced to resort to litigation to do so. Terms of the deal with ZTE were not disclosed.
The U.S International Trade Commission today upheld an initial ruling that determined a patent held by Motorola pertaining to proximity sensors used in cell phones to be invalid. The decision means Apple is free of guilt in the case brought against it by Motorola, which accused the iPhone maker of violating said patent. This particular patent was the last in a long series brought against Apple by Motorola. The ITC dismissed the case.
Verizon Wireless today announced that the Motorola Droid Bionic will begin to receive the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update starting April 15. It will be delivered over-the-air in phases.
Verizon Wireless indicated that the Motorola Droid 4 smartphone will begin to receive the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update today. The update will be pushed over the air and adds a number of new features, such as Google Now.
Sprint has started selling an intrinsically safe (IS) version of it Sonim XP Strike rugged Direct Connect phone. IS devices are designed for environments with flammable gasses or dust. Such devices have extra protections to ensure that - even in the event of a component failure - the device cannot be a source of ignition. IS devices are required in places that handle large amounts of fuel, mines, and even some large bakeries. The last IS phone offered by Sprint was the Motorola i365IS, an iDEN phone introduced in 2008 and discontinued in June 2012. The Sonim XP Strike IS has a special IS battery that protrudes from the back, making the phone 1.2" thick. The battery and other IS changes also bump the price up to $600 on contract. The XP Strike IS is available now.
Google subsidiary Motorola has internally announced about 1,200 layoffs, 10% of its current workforce. The cuts follow layoffs of 4,000 last year. The cuts will be in the U.S., China, and India. According to an internal email obtained by the Wall Street Journal, company executies reasoned that "our costs are too high, we're operating in markets where we're not competitive, and we're losing money." After pumping out around 20 phones each year in the U.S. for most of the last decade, the company announced just ten in 2012.
Verizon Wireless today revealed that both the Motorola Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX will begin receiving the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean system update beginning today. The update adds Google Now, Project Butter, the Jelly Bean predictive keyboard and other new features. The update will be pushed over the air, though device owners can pull the update down manually via their device's settings menu.
The U.S. International Trade Commission indicated recently that its six-member panel will review an initial ruling that exonerated Apple from infringing on a Motorola patent. In December, ITC Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender invalidated a Motorola patent pertaining to proximity sensors, and dismissed several claims made by Motorola against Apple. After hearing arguments from Motorola, the ITC has agreed to review the patent in question. It will make a final ruling on the matter in April. The ITC has the power to block devices that infringe on patents from entering the U.S., and is a popular venue for technology companies to air grievances.
Qualcomm today announced that more than 70 Snapdragon-based smartphones and tablets come with a technology called Quick Charge. Quick Charge 1.0 is a rapid-charging technology that Qualcomm acquired when it bought Summit Microelectronics. According to Qualcomm, devices with Quick Charge can reach a full charge up to 40% faster than devices that don't have Quick Charge. The technology is offered by Qualcomm to its hardware partners as an integrated solution with Qualcomm's power management circuits or a stand-alone USB interface controller. Some of the devices that have Quick Charge 1.0 already built in include the HTC Droid DNA and 8X, the LG Nexus 4 and Optimus G, the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD, the Nokia Lumia 920, and the Samsung Galaxy S III among many others. Qualcomm said that it will reveal more details about its fast-charging technology in the coming weeks.
Operating system updates have become available to a number of Android smartphones in recent days. First, Sprint is delivering a small maintenance update to the LG Viper 4G. Though the update does not boost the version of Android running on the Viper, it does fix problems the Viper has connecting to Sprint's LTE 4G network. The update can be downloaded over the air. Second, U.S. Cellular is delivering the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update to the Motorola Electrify M. The update, which is being pushed in phases, adds Google Now, voice search, and improves notifications, among other new features. This update can also be downloaded over the air.
A judge today kneecapped Google's attempts to extract royalty payments from Microsoft over wireless and video patents. U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle ruled that pieces of three separate Motorola patents in question are invalid. Google was seeking up to $4 billion in annual royalty payments from Microsoft, which in turn believed it owed Google only about $1 million. Portions of the three patents are still valid, however, and the judge has yet to make a final decision in the case. Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion last year in part for its 17,000 patents.
Consumer Cellular today announced that more of its devices will be available at Sears retail stores beginning later this month. The Huawei 8800, an Android smartphone, and the Doro PhoneEasy 618 feature phone are among the new handsets being made available for $149.99 and $59.99, respectively. The Motorola WX416 will continue to be available for $34.99, but now in red and black colors. Consumer Cellular's plans start as low as $10 per month.
Google today officially withdrew its attempts to block some Microsoft products from the U.S. market. Google's Motorola unit was fighting Microsoft over a patent pertaining to Microsoft's XBox product. Microsoft did not want to pay Motorola's licensing terms for the patent, so Motorola (and Google) sought to block the product. Late last year, the U.S. Department of Justice said that it didn't think patent infringement claims should lead to product bans. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission settled its investigation into Google's alleged antitrust behavior. Last, the U.S. ITC also found that some of Motorola's patents could not be enforced against Microsoft. Google's move to drop its ITC complaint today is likely a direct result of its recent settlement with the FTC and the ITC's earlier decision. Other legal entanglements between Google and Microsoft are still ongoing.
Google has announced plans to sell the cable box business it acquired with Motorola Mobility to Arris Group for $2.35 billion. Arris is providing Google with $2.05 billion in cash and the rest in stock. The deal gives Google ownership of approximately 16% of Arris. Both Google's and Arris' boards have approved the deal, though it still has to pass regulatory muster. Arris is based in Suwanee, Ga. Motorola had been shopping the cable box business around for several months. Google has recently sold some of Motorola's Chinese manufacturing facilities and closed down its Korean R&D offices. Motorola's mobile phone business continues to operate out of Chicago.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has made an initial ruling in Apple's favor concerning a patent case brought against it by Google-owned Motorola. An administrative law judge with the ITC declared Motorola's patent, which pertains to a sensor that prevents touch screen phone users from dialing the wrong number, invalid. With the patent invalidated, Apple stands to be cleared of Motorola's allegations. The law judge's decision is an initial ruling that needs to be reviewed by the full commission. That will happen early next year.
AT&T today announced that the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update is available for the Motorola Atrix HD. The update, which adds Google Now, camera improvements, and better notifications, can be downloaded and installed over Wi-Fi.
Google recently announced that Flextronics has agreed to purchase two manufacturing facilities owned by Motorola. Motorola is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Google. The factories in question are located in Tianjin, China, and Jaguariuna, Brazil. The assets and employees of these facilities will be transferred from Google to Flextronics. At the same time, Flextronics has signed a service agreement with Google to manufacture its Android and other mobile devices moving forward. The companies did not disclose terms of the deal, which requires regulatory approval before it can be completed. Google and Flextronics expect the deal to close during the first half of 2013. The news follows Google's announcement that it plans to shutter Motorola's research and design and marketing organizations in Korea.
Motorola has confirmed plans to reduce its global footprint even further by shuttering the bulk of its operations in Korea. The company plans to close a research and design facility there, as well as close down its mobile device marketing organization. In a statement provided to TheNextWeb, Motorola said, "The changes in Korea reflect our plans to consolidate our global R&D efforts to foster collaboration, and to focus more attention on markets where we are best positioned to compete effectively." Approximately 90% of the employees in those facilities will lose their jobs, while the remaining 10% will be offered relocation. Motorola will continue to operate its Home and iDEN business units in Korea, as well as its handset warranty service operations. Motorola, which is owned by Google, has been cutting jobs and consolidating its office locations as it restructures.
Motorola recently revised the customer support page that lists which smartphones will receive updated versions of Android and approximately when those updates will arrive. The RAZR M, RAZR HD, and MAXX HD have all received Jelly Bean. The Atrix HD is next on the list, and should get Jelly Bean beginning this month. Devices slated to receive Jelly Bean during the first quarter of 2013 include the Electrify M and the Xoom tablet. Other devices that will receive Jelly Bean at some point in the future include the Photon 2, Electrify 2, RAZR, RAZR MAXX, Droid 4, and Bionic. As a reminder, Motorola is offering a $100 rebate toward an Android 4.x device to current owners of Motorola smartphones running Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today filed an amicus brief that outlines its position on patent cases and product bans. The FTC believes that products should not be blocked from sale in the U.S. when standard essential patents are concerned. Standard essential patents are supposed to be licensed on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (or FRAND) terms. The FTC, however, thinks that standard essential patent holders can "use the threat of injunctions to distort competition by insisting on high royalties and other favorable licensing terms that they could not have credibly demanded before the standard was set." This can lead to what the FTC calls "patent hold-up," which is what happens when a company is faced with either delaying a product to get around a patent or submitting to the higher licensing terms of patent holder. The end result of all this legal maneuvering could lead to higher prices for consumers, which the FTC wants to avoid. Moving forward, the FTC believes monetary damages are the only proper remedy for standard essential patent cases, and product injunctions -- or bans -- should not be used. Many smartphone patent holders have filed petitions with the FTC seeking bans of competitors' products for just these reasons. The amicus brief was filed pertaining to a patent lawsuit between Motorola and Apple that was summarily dismissed by a judge earlier this year. Apple accused Motorola of abusing its FRAND obligations with respect to its standard essential patents.
Verizon Wireless today provided more information about when it will deliver the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean software update to the Motorola RAZR HD and MAXX HD. According to Verizon, the new operating system will be pushed out in waves beginning next week. The update includes new features such as Google Now, and also enables the Isis mobile payment service on the RAZR HD and MAXX HD. The update will be delivered and installed over the air.
Immersion Corporation today announced that it has settled a patent-based lawsuit filed against Google and its Motorola subsidiary. Immersion alleged that Google and Motorola violated its patents pertaining to haptic feedback as used in Motorola's Android devices and select Nexus-branded handsets. Google and Motorola have agreed to compensate Immersion for past Motorola device shipments and agreed to licensing terms for Immersion's technology moving forward. Immersion has dropped all its litigation against Motorola. Haptic feedback is the micro-vibration feature of many devices that allows users to know when they've pressed a capacitive or software button.
Republic Wireless today announced the formal launch and availability of its low-cost service and first device. The service had previously been in beta since late 2011. Republic is an MVNO that uses Sprint's network and offers unlimited everything for $19 per month. Republic Wireless uses a combination of cellular data and Wi-Fi to pass VoIP-based calls through the internet rather than through traditional voice networks. It named the technology Hybrid Calling. Anyone interested in using Republic's service can preorder the Motorola Defy XT, which supports its Hybrid Calling technology, beginning today. It costs $249 and requires a $10 start-up fee and first-month's service. Republic didn't say when the device would ship. The company will eventually offer a variant of the LG Optimus, as well.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini will leave his role as executive officer and chairman of the board by mid-2013, the company announced today. Otellini has been CEO for the processor maker for eight years. "After almost four decades with the company and eight years as CEO, it's time to move on and transfer Intel's helm to a new generation of leadership," said Otellini. "I look forward to working with Andy, the board and the management team during the six-month transition period, and to being available as an advisor to management after retiring as CEO." Intel has begun searching for a replacement CEO, but has not yet named anyone. Otellini oversaw Intel's transition from primarily providing desktop processors to mobile processors for laptops and netbooks. The company has targeted mobile devices, too, but has yet to see any real success from its line of Atom chips for smartphones. Intel has launched just three Atom-equipped smartphones this year, including a variant of the Motorola Droid RAZR M for world markets called the RAZR I.
Consumer Watchdog today filed a letter with the Federal Trade Commission requesting that the government file a lawsuit against Google and seek to dismantle Google's separate business units due to its monopolistic behavior. Specifically, Consumer Watchdog wants the FTC to force Google to divest its Motorola Mobility unit, which it finalized purchasing earlier this year. It also thinks Google's Gmail and Google+ businesses, its YouTube business, and its enterprise application units should be spun off. Further, Consumer Watchdog suggests that Google's search business be separated from services where Google provides its own content.
Verizon Wireless has provided details about the upcoming Android 4.1 Jelly Bean system update for the Motorola Droid RAZR M. The update adds features specific to Jelly Bean, such as Google Now and Voice Search, actionable notifications, the new smart keyboard, and resizable widgets. The update includes some bug fixes, and makes improvements across the board to the M's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G, 4G, GPS, and mobile hotspot performance. The update removes the Color application, updates VZ Navigator and QuickOffice, and makes the RAZR M compatible with the Isis mobile wallet service. The update is free and can be downloaded over the air. It will be pushed out in waves starting today. It may be several days before it is available to all devices.
Google today said that one of the patent-related lawsuits filed by Apple against its Motorola subsidiary has been dismissed with prejudice. "Motorola has long offered licensing to our extensive patent portfolio at a reasonable and non-discriminatory rate in line with industry standards," said Google in a statement. "We remain interested in reaching an agreement with Apple." Apple, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, and other cell phone and wireless equipment makers have been battling over smartphone patents for years. In this particular lawsuit, Apple accused Google/Motorola of abusing its standard essential patents and violated the FRAND licensing guidelines. In pre-trial motions, Apple had agreed, in theory, to pay less than $1 in patent licensing fees per device if so ordered by the court. The case was dismissed by federal judge Barbara B. Crabb in the Western District of Wisconsin because in her view it wasn't worth holding the trial.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission staffers have recommended that the agency's commissioners sue Google over its abuse of standard essential patents. The FTC staffers believe Google and its subsidiary Motorola have violated antitrust laws by attempting to prevent competitors (specifically, Apple and Microsoft) from accessing essential patents. Patents that are deemed standard essential must be licensed at a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (or FRAND) rate. Motorola has asked Apple and Microsoft to license its patents at the rate of 2.25% of the retail price of the applicable devices. For many devices, which would cost about $15 per phone. The FTC has been investigating the issue since June, after reviewing formal complaints from Apple and Microsoft. The European Commission is also investigating Motorola's standards essential patent licensing practices. A formal announcement of the FTC suit against Google is likely to be announced after the general election scheduled for November 6.
U.S. Cellular today announced that it will launch the Motorola Electrify M on November 8. The Electrify M is an Android 4.0 smartphone that has a 4.3-inch display, dual-core 1.5GHz processor, and 8-megapixel main camera with 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera. Other features include a scratch-resistant and water-repellant outer shell, Gorilla Glass, NFC, a 2,000mAh battery, and support for U.S. Cellular's LTE 4G network. The Motorola Electrify M will cost $149.99 (but only $99.99 in LTE markets) after a $100 mail-in rebate. Motorola said the Electrify M will be upgraded to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at some point in the future.
Verizon Wireless today announced that its first Isis-compatible handset is the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE. Owners of that device can activate Isis on their handset starting today by visiting a Verizon Wireless retail store in the Austin and Salt Lake City trial markets. Verizon expects that the Motorola Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD will be Isis-compatible by the end of the week. Once activated, Isis-capable handsets can be used to make mobile payments at select retailers.
Motorola has updated the list of devices that will receive updated versions of Android and is revealing for the first time those slated to get Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The Droid RAZR M, RAZR HD, and MAXX HD are all schedule to receive the Jelly Bean update before the end of the year. Other devices that will be updated to Android 4.1 include the Atrix HD, Photon Q, Electrify 2, and the Droid RAZR, RAZR MAXX, 4, and Bionic. Motorola didn't say when this second group will receive Jelly Bean. Devices not on these lists are likely to be updated only as far as Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Sprint today announced the availability of a new Sprint iD pack that is aimed at making smartphones easier to use for seniors. The Active Senior ID pack includes 20 applications and services that Sprint believes can help to improve the smartphone experience for older users. For example, it includes access to WebMD, the AARP, MedsTimer, and a fall detector, among other services. The Active Senior ID pack is available on select handsets, including the LG Viper, Optimus Elite, and Marquee; the Motorola Photon 4G; the Samsung Galaxy Victory, Conquer 4G, Epic 4G, Galaxy S II, and Transform; the Kyocera Rise; and the ZTE Fury. The Sprint iD pack is free.
Both Chevrolet and Ford Motor Company are facilitating the use of smartphone-based navigation apps in the dashboards of their vehicles. The 2013 Chevy Spark, for example, lets Android and iPhone owners connect their smartphones to the car through a feature called MyLink. Chevy is offering a $50 mapping application, called BringGo, which can be installed on the smartphone and used to deliver navigation content to the car's dashboard. Similarly, Ford has an app called Car Connect that will connect an Android device to Ford's Sync system (an iPhone app is under development). Car Connect costs $25 per year, and can be used with TeleNav's Scout navigation application to push navigation services to the car's dashboard. Both options improve the in-car navigation experience offered by smartphones while still allowing consumers to avoid expensive in-dash navigation systems.
Verizon Wireless today announced that the Motorola Droid RAZR HD and RAZR MAXX HD (pictured) will be available online and in Verizon Wireless stores starting October 18. The RAZR HD will cost $199.99 and the MAXX HD will cost $299.99 on contract. The Droid RAZR HD will be sold in black or white with 16GB of internal storage. The MAXX HD will be sold in black with 32GB of internal storage.
AT&T today announced that the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update is now available to the Motorola Atrix 2. The update can be downloaded via Wi-Fi and then installed on the device. The update is free and adds many new features to the Atrix 2.
Motorola has confirmed that it will no longer develop Webtop software for its Android smartphones, nor will it continue to develop and sell the lapdock accessory. In a statement provided to CNET, Motorola said, "While consumers around the world have adopted Webtop and the concept spurred a lot of innovation in the industry, the adoption has not been strong enough to justify continued resources being allocated to developing Webtop on future devices. We have also seen development of the Android operating system focus on the inclusion of more desktoplike features." Motorola said that the Photon Q, Razr M, Razr HD, Razr Maxx HD, and all new devices moving forward will not include Webtop. The Motorola Atrix HD, which shipped in July, is also lacking Webtop. The software, when paired with the lapdock, extended the smartphone's display and apps onto a 13-inch display and keyboard.