Techzone 360 Week in Review

By Tony Rizzo January 25, 2014

This week certainly had a bit of everything to offer. From the ongoing noise of the NSA and Ed Snowden, to whether or not proposed National Security Agency (NSA} reform falls short of tech expectations to never-ending tech patent stories to interesting earnings reports, there was enough stuff going on to keep many people interested. Our own favorites this week were a variety of patent stories. To begin with, Qualcomm just picked up 2,400 mobile patents and patent application from Hewlett-Packard. Why? We think it is primarily a defensive move, but perhaps Qualcomm's lawyers know something we don't. Will Qualcomm go on the offensive?

Then there is the never ending Samsung and Apple saga. Recently we spoke of Apple and Samsung going to mediation and suggested that neither side held enough leverage to sway the other in such efforts. But, and this is a big but - this week federal Judge Lucy Koh, moving forward on various items ahead of the next trial has already declared that Samsung infringes one Apple patent and that one of Samsung's patents is invalid. Might this be enough leverage to sway the mediation talks? Don't hold your breath, but a betting person might lay some money on things going Apple's way in the long run once the trial takes off.

Finally, we have the 800 pound patent troll gorilla Intellectual Ventures (we're just trying to get your attention - there are some good reasons not to think of the company as a troll) going up against Google, which happens to be an even larger gorilla but definitely not a patent troll. What's at stake? More or less three specific patents Intellectual Ventures claims Motorola Mobility infringes on. Our take on it is that Google is likely to win this one, which would help a related cause - trying to put back some rational thinking behind how the United States Patent and Trademark Office should work. Maybe.

Now, getting back to the NSA, this is the story that just won't go away. Let's leave aside whether or not NSA activity is truly stepping over the bounds or not - whatever you believe is fine. But are the proposals that have now been put on the table by the president enough o really make a difference? We doubt it - the reforms need to balance on a knife's edge between too little and too far. That said, it is pretty clear that the tech community believes the reforms fall short of what is needed. What's your position? Don't be shy - Ed Snowden certainly isn't shy about getting his views out there. In fact this week Snowden went online live to field and answer questions from audiences participating from all walks of life. It was interesting to hear - some of it at least.

Microsoft was in the news this week primarily because the company had its earnings call yesterday. A day ahead of the call we began to hear rumors that we might get the long awaited CEO announcement during the call. We managed to also offer up some thoughts on a very long shot, really out of left field CEO possibility. No such thing was announced, but Microsoft did report yet again stellar earnings for its fiscal 2014 Q2, along with a significant uptick in its devices (Surface tablets) business - a record $24.52 billion in total revenue to be exact.

Before we leave Microsoft, it is worth noting that the company very recently concluded a global survey that looked to measure the impact of personal technology on the world. Wow - that is a truly heady goal and Microsoft reports back that no matter where it looked it is clear that technology is indeed maing the world a better place. Are we surprised? No!

Apple has its earnings call coming up on Monday immediately after the markets close. We are expecting the company to report a monster quarter. We are also expecting to hear that record numbers of iPhones were sold. Nothing out of the ordinary for Apple, but the financial analysts will be looking closely at profit margins to make the final determination on how successful the quarter was.

We'll sign off this week with some words of advice. Security firm KnowBe4 tells us that most security breaches can be stopped with awareness training. Who knew?! Proper training will remove a huge collection of security concerns - its something we all know but never really think about. Well…start thinking about it.

Finally, do yourself a huge favor. When you go to bed tonight turn your smartphone off. Completely. For real. The longer and happier life that will go with it is your own.

Have a great weekend!

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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