Samsung has confirmed that the official follow-up to its popular Galaxy S II smartphone, which the tech media are dubbing the "Galaxy S III," is on the way.
But just when the next top-of-the-line Samsung smartphone will arrive is still unclear. The company issued a statement Wednesday, first reported by the website TechRadar, that the new Android handset won't make its debut at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain (Feb. 27-March 1), as the rumor mill had been predicting.
Instead, Samsung said it will hold its own event for the new phone. Here's the statement, as reported by TechRadar:
Samsung is looking forward to introducing and demonstrating exciting new mobile products at Mobile World Congress 2012.
The successor to the Galaxy S2 smartphone will be unveiled at a separate Samsung-hosted event in the first half of the year, closer to commercial availability of the product.
Samsung stays committed to providing the best possible mobile experiences for customers around the world.
So, what will the next Galaxy S phone look like? Many of the rumors surrounding the device have speculated that a larger screen, better camera and faster processor (maybe even a quad-core processor) are on the way.
The Galaxy S II -- which was my personal favorite Android phone until the Samsung-built Galaxy Nexus arrived late last year -- was offered in multiple variations for multiple carriers and sold in either 4.3-inch or 4.5-inch screen sizes, matched with 8-megapixel cameras, 4G connectivity and dual core processors.
Lets hope that Samsung launches the "Galaxy S III" on the latest version of Google's Android operating system, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, whenever the phone does arrive.
Samsung's patent lawsuits with Apple and other rivals are bringing the South Korean tech giant a bit of regulatory scrutiny in the European Union.
On Tuesday, the European Commission, the E.U.'s antitrust agency, said it had formally launched an investigation into whether Samsung had broken any competition laws by not allowing rivals to fairly license patents relating to 3G technology.
"The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to assess whether Samsung Electronics has abusively, and in contravention of a commitment it gave to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules," the commission said in a statement. "The opening of proceedings means that the Commission will examine the case as a matter of priority. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation."
Central to the investigation is determining whether Samsung has lived up to a pledge the company made 14 years ago to license patents it owned that are "essential" to 3G technology in mobile devices such as phones and tablets.
"In 2011, Samsung sought injunctive relief in various Member States' courts against competing mobile device makers based on alleged infringements of certain of its patent rights which it has declared essential to implement European mobile telephony standards," the E.U. agency said. "The Commission will investigate, in particular, whether in doing so Samsung has failed to honour its irrevocable commitment given in 1998 to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The Commission will examine whether such behaviour amounts to an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU)."
Samsung officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday on the commission's investigation, but the agency said it would work to "guarantee undistorted competition and to reap the positive economic effects of standardisation" of technologies such as 3G wireless connectivity. "It is important that FRAND commitments be fully honoured by the concerned undertakings," the commission said.
Samsung was dealt a loss in its ongoing patent battle with Apple as the South Korean electronics maker's request to overturn a ban on the sale of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Germany was denied.
A Dusseldorf regional appeals court upheld the August 2011 sales injunction of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and said that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 8.9 also should be banned from being sold, according to a report on the website FOSS Patents by patent expert Florian Mueller.
Although the decision hurts Samsung, the ruling may also be a setback for Apple. The reasoning behind the court's decision wasn't because of Apple's claims that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes on the design patents for the iPad tablet. Rather, "the appeals court based its decision on a violation of German unfair competition law," Mueller reported.
The injunction against Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales in Germany cited Apple's design patents as the reasoning for pulling the Samsung tablet off store shelves.
In an effort to not miss out on the growing tablet market in Germany, Samsung redesigned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and then re-released a new German version called the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, which is allowed to be sold, though Apple has requested a sales ban on that product too.
The Dusseldorf appeals court ruling is the latest in an international fight between Samsung, Apple and their respective teams of lawyers. Last week, Apple was denied a requested sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the Netherlands, where the two companies are locked in a patent battle.
Earlier this month, Apple filed two new patent suits against Samsung in Germany, seeking a ban on 10 Samsung phones and five tablets. Last month, a U.S. district court in San Jose denied Apple's request for a ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 before a July trial on Apple's lawsuit against Samsung in that court.
In December, a temporary ban on the Samsung tablet in Australia expired in a related suit between the two tech giants. The Australian dispute is set to go to trial in March, and other suits have been filed acrossEurope and Asia.
While the two companies are rivals and suing to block the sales of one another's products, Samsung and Apple are also business partners. Samsung, for example, manufactures the Apple-designed A4 and A5 processors found in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iPod Touch, among other components, such as flash memory, inside of many Apple devices.
Samsung's much-anticipated Galaxy Note will be available at AT&T on Feb. 19 for $300 with a two-year contract.
The 4G LTE smartphone can be pre-ordered online or in stores beginning Sunday for delivery by Feb. 17, the company said.
Samsung has been hyping the Galaxy Note as a new device category geared toward the creative-minded set, although most consumers will likely view it as a combination of a smartphone and tablet. The device features a large 5.3-inch touchscreen -- one of the largest on a phone -- and a stylus, called the S Pen.
By using the pen, Samsung says, "users can easily sketch drawings, jot down notes, or write emails and texts quickly and easily in free-form handwriting."
S Memo, a multimedia app, allows pictures, voice recordings, typed text, handwritten notes and drawings to be combined via a single application, converted into a memo and shared.
"The Galaxy Note brings a new level of efficiency to busy customers who would normally rely on multiple devices," said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of devices for AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "This new breed of smartphone helps consumers accomplish more with a single device than ever before."
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, Samsung devoted a big portion of its floor space to showing off the Galaxy Note and hired artists to use the device to draw caricatures of convention-goers.
The power of mobile technology: Never before have consumers been able to hold so many lawsuits in their hand.
Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. has just thrown another baton in the smartphone lawsuit parade that has stretched to courtrooms across the globe, as phone-makers sue one another over similarities in their mobile devices, which are packed with patent-protected circuits and widgets from dozens of companies.
Motorola has filed suit against Apple Inc., purveyor of the mega-blockbuster iPhone (the device lifted Apple to $46 billion in sales in its most recent quarter). Apple is an increasingly bitter rival of Google Inc., which agreed to buy Motorola in August, a deal that is still awaiting regulatory clearance.
As patent observer Florian Mueller noted, Google probably had to approve Motorola's lawsuit, given that part of the buyout terms appear to forbid Motorola from filing lawsuits without Google's explicit permission. Google has not directly sued or been sued by Apple in this matter -- the two compaies are fighting their legal war by proxy.
Phones that run Google's Android operating system have collectively outsold the iPhone, and Apple is none too happy about that. The Cupertino electronics maker has initiated a flurry of lawsuits against Android phone manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics and HTC Corp., alleging that the companies "slavishly copied" the iPhone's signature look.
Now Motorola is trying to make things even more difficult for its rival. In its second action against Apple in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida, the company wants the court to ban iPhone sales. Motorola alleges that Apple devices infringe on six of its patents, including one for a phone with a "concealed antenna," and another about keeping data on "multiple pagers" synchronized. Motorola, as children of the 1990s will recall, made a lot of pagers -- they still do.
For updates in this saga, make sure to keep your pagers on.
For the second time, a Netherlands court has denied Apple its request for a ban on sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, whose design Apple says illegally copies the iPad's.
The Samsung victory, first reported on the blog Foss Patents run by patent expert Florian Mueller, came Tuesday in The Hague, where an appeals court ruled that the Samsung device -- which runs on Google's Android operating system -- doesn't steal from the iPad's patented design.
The Dutch court's decision, which upheld a lower-court ruling made in August, is another setback for Apple in its worldwide patent battle against South Korea-based Samsung.
Last month, a U.S. district court in San Jose denied Apple's request for a ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 before a July trial on Apple's lawsuit in that court. Also in December, a temporary ban on the Samsung tablet in Australia expired. The dispute is set to go to trial in Australia in March.
Just one day after Research In Motion shares received a boost off news that Samsung Electronics might be interested in buying the struggling smartphone and tablet maker, Samsung came out on Wednesday and said the rumored deal isn't happening.
Samsung, the second-largest cellphone producer on the planet behind Nokia, said it is not considering taking over RIM and that it has "never" been interested in buying the BlackBerry maker, according to a Bloomberg report.
James Chung, a Samsung spokesman, told the news outlet that the Korean company and RIM, based in Canada, haven't had any contact regarding a purchase deal.
Chung also told Bloomberg that Samsung isn't interested in the rumored software licensing deals that RIM has been reportedly exploring as well.
On Tuesday, stock in RIM rose $1.30, or 8.04%, to $17.47 per share after the tech news site BGR ran a story, citing unnamed sources, stating that Samsung was the "front runner" to purchase RIM.
Of course, Samsung hasn't been the only company that has been rumored to be interested in buying RIM. Among the other potential suitors with speculated interest in RIM are Nokia, Microsoft and Amazon. RIM shares jumped 10% in December on news of possible takeover interest from Microsoft and Amazon.
This also isn't the first time that Samsung has come out and denied rumors of its interest in a smartphone property. Last September, Samsung declared its lack of interest in buying the WebOS operating system from Hewlett-Packard.
After months of trying to figure out what to do with WebOS, HP eventually decided to retain ownership, open-source the software and then move forward on developing new tablets (but no new smartphones) running the operating system.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is again at the center of buyout rumors and this time the speculated buyer is consumer electronics giant Samsung.
Among other possible suitors believed to be interested in RIM are Nokia, Microsoft and Amazon, which sent shares in the smartphone and tablet maker up as much as 10% in December when the rumor mill was churning.
On Tuesday, after the website BGR published a story that stated Samsung was the "front runner" to purchase RIM, stock in the Canadian company rose $1.30, or 8.04%, to $17.47 per share.
"Research In Motion is currently weighing every single option it can think of in an effort to reverse a negative trend that is approaching a boiling point for investors," BGR said. "Reports that RIM is currently in talks to license its software to other vendors are accurate according to our trusted sources, though we have been told that RIM is most likely leaning toward an outright sale of one or more divisions, or even the whole company."
RIM officials were unavailable to comment on the BGR report on Tuesday.
The negative trend mentioned by BGR is a well-documented slide at RIM that didn't relent in 2011. In December, RIM recorded a $485-million loss on unsold PlayBook inventory after the tablet failed to live up to sales expectations since its launch in April. Every model of the PlayBook was also cut to $299 in a move to entice consumers.
With sales of the PlayBook slow, no wireless carriers have stepped up to offer a 3G or 4G version of the BlackBerry tablet as RIM had originally planned.
Photo: Research In Motion's senior manager of brand marketing, Jeff Gadway, discusses new BlackBerry technology in a presentation at the company's "BeBold" event at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 10. Credit: Eric Reed / AP Images for BlackBerry
Apple has reportedly filed another patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung in Germany, this time calling for a sales ban on 10 smartphones it says violate its design rights.
Filed in Dusseldorf Regional Court, Apple's suit -- which calls for a ban on the Galaxy S II, Galaxy S Plus and eight other models -- isn't the only front in the ongoing international patent battle between the two firms, reports said Tuesday. Apple also filed a suit against five Samsung tablets "related to a September ruling" that imposes a sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, according to a Bloomberg report.
Apple alleges that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 copied the design of the Apple iPad in a way intended to confuse customers. After sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 were halted in Germany, Samsung released the re-designed Galaxy Tab 10.1N, which the Dusseldorf court said in December is different enough from the iPad that "it is unlikely to grant an injunction" against the new design, Bloomberg said.
"An appeals court also voiced doubts about the reach of Apple's European Union design right that won the company the injunction against the Galaxy 10.1," the report said.
For now, Apple's new smartphone suit against Samsung is set to "come before the court in August and the case against Samsung's tablets will follow in September," according to PCWorld.
If this all sounds a bit familiar, it is. Apple and Samsung have been suing and counter-suing each another acrossEurope, Asia, the U.S. and Australia for months, each alleging patent infringement over the design and operation of their respective phones and tablets.
In December, Apple failed to win an extension of a temporary sales ban against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, where the dispute between the two tech giants is set to go to trial in March.
According to the news site ArsTechnica, the ongoing patent battle between Apple and Samsung has caught the attention of the European Commission, which is conducting an antitrust investigation with the two companies regarding the suits.
At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we saw a bit of a scramble by TV makers such as Samsung and LG to show off what they working on or releasing in the coming year that would allow us to control our TVs using voice, gesture and facial recognition.
Many technology pundits and analysts have said these sorts of announcements, which also took place at last year's CES, are in response to rumors that Apple is working on an "iTV" that will offer a new way of controlling a TV and maybe even how we pay for or watch channels and TV shows.
But as many video-game lovers out there know, TV voice recognition, gesture controls and facial recognition are already here in the form of Microsoft's Kinect motion-sensing camera, which is an accessory to the Xbox 360 home gaming console.
However, Kinect is just getting started, and currently has a small number of apps. And it's still a device that sells for about $150 and requires an Xbox 360, which starts at $200. Make no mistake, there will be a cost of entry to the future of TV.
At CES 2012, Microsoft showed off a bit of what the future may hold for Kinect, the Xbox and TV with demonstrations of its latest Kinect-enabled app for the Xbox, called Sesame Street Kinect (you can see our demonstration of the app in a video atop this article).
Sesame Street Kinect is what it sounds like, episodes of the long-running children's program tailored to use the Kinect camera. And what Kinect can do is really impressive.
Since 1969, children around the world have sat in front of TVs repeating back the alphabet, colors, words and numbers to characters on Sesame Street (I did it when I was a child). Until Sesame Street Kinect, which is set to release later this year at an unannounced price, the characters on the screen couldn't respond to the viewer's actions. Now, to a limited extent, they can.
The demonstration we saw featured the Grover, Elmo and Cookie Monster characters prompting viewers to interact by either saying certain words or moving in certain ways.
For example, we took part in a demonstration in which Grover drops a box of coconuts and asks that the viewer pick them up and throw them back to him.
I f the viewer stands up and moves in the way that they would throw an imaginary coconut (don't throw a real coconut unless your trying to break your TV) then Grover catches each one in his box, even reacting to how hard the Kinect interprets the viewer's throw to be.
The experience was a lot of fun for a room of four adults, and I imagine kids will enjoy this sort of thing too. Jose Pinero, am Xbox spokesman, said a similarly interactive app from National Geographic is coming this year as well.
Although Microsoft has sold more than 66 million Xbox consoles and more than 18 million Kinect cameras, the tech giant realizes it has something bigger than just video games on its hands with Kinect.
Both Kinect and Xbox Live are headed to Windows 8 later this year. Hopefully, that will mean more interactive "two-way TV" apps like Sesame Street Kinect, and more apps related to media outlets such as ESPN and National Geographic.
There are also rumors that the company is working to get Kinect built directly into TVs, which would very likely place Xbox Live and Kinect in direct competition with Google TV and Apple's expected entry into the TV market. That's a living-room showdown I'd like to see.