Over at Salon, Katie McDonough reminds us of a recent study “that found smartphone users exhibit actual withdrawal symptoms when forced to abstain from using their devices. The study also found that many subjects felt physical discomfort after not checking their phone for extended periods of time.”
As someone with a New Year’s resolution that no laptops, phones or tablets can enter the bedroom, I’m glad to be able to put a word and idea to it. — Michael
Yesterday we noted the case of a voice recognition startup called Vlingo that was sued for patent infringement and — even though exonerated — eventually had to sell itself to the very company that sued it.
The anecdote is from a long, frustrating and very important investigation by the New York Times into our very broken patent system.
Here, a visualization by the Times shows who’s suing who among the big players in the smartphone industry. If you select the image to enlarge it, you’ll see that just about everyone is suing everyone. Just follow the orange arrows as each “represents a lawsuit involving a mobile patent. In some cases, when multiple firms are plaintiffs or defendants, a single suit is represented with multiple arrows.”
The number of patent lawsuits filed in United States district courts each year has almost tripled in the last two decades to 3,260 in 2010, the last year for which federal data is available. Microsoft has sued Motorola; Motorola has sued Apple and Research in Motion; Research in Motion has sued Visto, a mobile technology company; and in August, Google, through its Motorola unit, sued Apple, contending that Siri had infringed on its patents. (Google dropped the suit last week, leaving open the possibility of refiling at a later date.) All of those companies have also been sued numerous times by trolls.
And as you read, keep in mind that software patents are often “aspirational” rather than attached to a tangible product. That is, they describe broad concepts of an interface system, or a way to calculate payment, before they’ve ever been created. Another way to put it, they’re patents on ideas. In a weird analytical disconnect, Malcolm Gladwell once celebrated this practice in a New Yorker piece about a company called Intellectual Ventures.
"As a result," the Times notes about the current smartphone wars, “some patents are so broad that they allow patent holders to claim sweeping ownership of seemingly unrelated products built by others. Often, companies are sued for violating patents they never knew existed or never dreamed might apply to their creations, at a cost shouldered by consumers in the form of higher prices and fewer choices.” — Michael
The findings, conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Economist Group, were presented Monday at an advertising week event in New York. They showed that news was the second most popular activity after email on smartphones and tablets, and that people who used both types of devices were likely to consume more overall news than before.
In practice, this means that publishers are adapting to what Denise Warren of the New York Times calls the “multi-platform news user.” Warren says this user is likely to read the Times on a tablet in the morning and in the evenings, and to use their phone as an “interstitial” news device during the day.
Warren added that these trends have led the company to increase its engineering team by 40% in an effort to produce an optimal mobile experience for roving news consumers.
FJP: Another interesting finding studying news consumption trends, also from Pew, shows that for American adults under 30, social media has surpassed newspapers and equaled TV as their primary source of daily news.
The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Phone Video Network
Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal launched WorldStream, a video feed of short, raw clips taken by its reporters with their smartphones.
Each video comes in under a minute and, as Poynter reports, the goal is to create a type of reporter “status update” of where they are and what they’re reporting on.
Audiences have shown that they like short form, raw video — especially if it’s of the breaking news variety — and WorldStream will create a large library of it. For quality control, only WSJ reporters submit to the site (unlike, say, CNN’s iReport) and even then editors vet the submissions.
While individual videos can be linked to, right now there doesn’t appear to be a way for third parties to embed them on their own sites.
A future, interesting move could be for in-house editors to start mixing and matching submitted videos to create larger packaged stories.
On the business side, video commands much larger ad dollars than display advertising against article content but I’m not sure how or where you’d integrate pre, post or overlay advertising on videos that run so short. Still, publications such as the WSJ sell out of their video inventory and here’s a relatively quick and easy way to expand their offerings while also providing audiences a more intimate look at a news story. — Michael