Magazine article Information Today

Looking beyond the Bytes

Magazine article Information Today

Looking beyond the Bytes

Article excerpt

Although dyed-in-the-wool geeks may not want to admit it, there's more to technology than hardware and software engineering. Business deals, lawsuits, and more artistic areas (such as user experience and interface design) also play key roles. This month, we're taking a look at some nonengineering developments with an impact on the smartphone and e-reader business.

Google Gets Into Hardware

Despite Android's 4-year rise from smartphone latecomer to legitimate Apple-challenger, Google's mobile OS has never managed to supplant the iPhone as the superstar of the smartphone age. Part of that might be because Google has rarely been involved in the messy but essential business of producing hardware. Instead, the company has let other companies such as Samsung and HTC handle the actual design and manufacturing of its Android devices. But with Google's announcement in August that it would be purchasing smartphone manufacturer Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, that strategy looks as though it's about to change.

Motorola Mobility split from parent company Motorola Solutions in January 2011 to separate Motorola's mobile division from the rest of its communications business. Motorola Mobility was an early proponent of the Android OS through its popular Droid series of smartphones. Although it has gradually lost Android market share to competitors, the company will be valuable to Google for its manufacturing acumen and a hefty mobile patent portfolio.

Google CEO Larry Page wrote on the company's official blog that Motorola will remain a separate business from the larger Google empire, but it's a safe bet that the search giant will have a significant influence on the design and functionality of future Motorola phones.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Hitting a European Roadblock

The competition in the tablet market has been heating up throughout 2011 with the release of the iPad 2 and iPad competitors. Samsung's Galaxy Tab has been one of the foremost devices challenging Apple's tablet dominance, but the company has now found itself in legal hot water in the EU over alleged design similarities between the Galaxy Tab and Apple's ubiquitous iPad. In early August, a German court temporarily banned Samsung from selling the latest version of its embattled tablet throughout most of Europe until the lawsuit was resolved. …

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