Google faces new European anti-trust complaint over mobile apps

Microsoft, Nokia and others have accused Google of anti-competitive practices in the licensing terms for its smartphone and tablet apps, reports the NY Times.

A complaint filed collectively to European anti-trust regulators says that Google’s conditions for including its apps on a mobile device amount to “a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today.” The complaint appears to be centred on an requirement to give prominence to any Google apps shipped with a device … Read more

HTC One, reviewed: a standout, breathtaking Android phone for everyone

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I’ve been really excited to get my hands on the HTC One.

The world is chock-full of low-end — and high-end —  Android phones that are plastic and hard to distinguish from one another. So, as an iPhone user primarily, I liked the One’s obvious iPhone 5-like accents—which is seemingly A-O.K. by Apple, at least as evidenced by the global settlement and 10-year licensing deal reached with HTC last year—and entirely aluminum construction.

HTC’s flagship phone in 2012, the One X, earned critical acclaim from reviewers across the blogosphere, but the Samsung Galaxy S III and iPhone 4S overshadowed its launch. Now, one year later, HTC is up to bat again with the HTC One, but this time around, it faces nearly the same challenges in the Galaxy S 4 and iPhone 5.

Check out the full review below to see how the HTC One measures up.

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Google+ message suggests Google Babel launch may be close

A message reported by a Google+ users suggests that Google’s rumored Babel integrated messaging service may be close to launch:

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The screengrab posted by Patrick Dhawaan shows the message All conversations have been moved to the Trash. Because one or more are part of a Babel chat, these messages are still available in other Babel chat applications … Read more

Google rumored to be planning to buy WhatsApp for a cool billion (Update: Denied!)

Update: WhatsApp denies the rumor
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Digital Trends claims that Google is negotiating to buy the hugely popular messaging app, WhatsApp – with the company said to have rejected initial offers and to be holding out for a price said to be close to $1 billion (via Gizmodo).

Google is on record as acknowledging its weakness in the mobile messaging field, with Digital Trends arguing that the acquisition makes perfect sense.

There are rumors that Google Babel will combine Google’s disparate communication services under one roof, but the platform still needs to do something to innovate in this space; mobile messaging has been taken over by smaller apps and Facebook has made a major push as well. Google hasn’t given an answer to this competition. Even Google Product Manager Nikhyl Singhal confessed to GigaOM in June of last year that “We have done an incredibly poor job of servicing our users here.” Messaging is a huge, gaping hole in Google’s mobile strategy.

Google Voice already offers most of the features of What’s App making the acquisition primarily a subscriber play, but we’re not exactly holding our breath on this one. Remember Google already has some Bable thing being cooked up, so adding something huge like this might put a wrench in the works.

Confirmed. Google Fiber’s next stop: Austin, Texas

Update: Confirmed by KVUE

Venturebeat got the word from some invites that went out this week.

On Tuesday, April 9, at 11 a.m., the City of Austin and Google will make a very important announcement that will have a positive impact on Austinites and the future of the city. We anticipate more than 100 community leaders and elected officials to be in attendance to celebrate this announcement. The event invitation is attached for your convenience. Although we cannot share the details of the announcement with you in advance, we know readers will want to learn more, so we encourage you to join us on Tuesday.

I’d move to Austin.

Google cites $30B in patent privateering losses in campaign against patent trolls

Google today announced in a blog post on its Public Policy Blog that it has asked the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate and take a stronger stance against patent privateering and patent assertion entities, aka patent trolls. Google linked to a document submittedGoogle-building to the government agencies mentioned above and noted that BlackBerry, Earthlink and RedHat are among other companies backing the request.

Within its post, Google’s Senior Competition Counsel Matthew Bye cited losses of nearly $30 billion a year in the U.S. due to patent trolls and urged companies to help Google create “cooperative licensing agreements that can help curb privateering.”

Trolls use the patents they receive to sue with impunity—since they don’t make anything, they can’t be countersued. The transferring company hides behind the troll to shield itself from litigation, and sometimes even arranges to get a cut of the money extracted by troll lawsuits and licenses.

Google described patent privateering as companies selling “patents to trolls with the goal of waging asymmetric warfare against its competitors.” While it didn’t name any companies specifically in its blog post or document submitted to the FTC, it did link to an article on Bloomberg that mentions Microsoft, Nokia, and Alcatel-Lucent as companies linked to patent privateering.

In the document submitted to the FTC, Google outlined its stance on patent trolls and recommended the FTC initiate an investigation into patent assertion entities and or expand its broader inquiry to include a number of important areas specifically related to patent privateering: Read more