Tech Law


Verizon and Google Enter Holiday Party Late and Sulky

The Galaxy Nexus has finally arrived in the United States after showing up in places like Europe and Hong Kong several weeks ago. This is a Samsung smartphone running the very latest and greatest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. And there are no factory-installed tweaks to the OS either — it’s straight Android, no mixer.

Obviously this is good news for those who’ve been excited to see the latest Google superphone firsthand, but the timing for this launch is very unusual. It arrived on shelves Thursday — right at the top of holiday shopping crazy season. In fact, by the time this thing went on sale in the U.S., crazy season may have already peaked.

So why the delay? Actually, it’s not really a delay, since Verizon never promised a specific release date until the day before it actually came out. But the timing is still very odd. One guess is that it all comes back to Google Wallet, the company’s new mobile payment technology. Verizon happens to be a major backer of competing technology, ISIS, and it didn’t want to see Google Wallet on the Nexus. Verizon says the reasoning was purely technical, but it hasn’t exactly been generous with details. Anyway, Google complied with Verizon’s wishes, but the suspicion is that there was a lot of arm wrestling being done over this, thus the late-in-the-season U.S. launch.

It’s hard to say how many sales that situation actually cost Verizon. We’re still in the midst of the holiday shopping season, of course. But as the Nexus had no set date of arrival, some holiday shoppers who wanted to give someone a nice new smartphone this year may have decided it wasn’t worth it to wait until the last minute. So they picked up a Razr, or a Galaxy S II. Or even an iPhone.

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Let My OS Go

For months, the mobile operating system webOS has wallowed in HP’s dungeon as a political prisoner. HP acquired the platform under Mark Hurd when it bought Palm, but a regime change ushered in the leadership of Leo Apotheker, who was no friend of the kinds of consumer-oriented devices webOS powers. Products were discontinued, webOS was sent to purgatory, and the fate of the operating system that lots of people liked but nobody seemed to want was left up in the air.

But Apotheker’s reign at HP was almost comically short, and the new boss at HP, Meg Whitman, has managed to make a decision about webOS: It will live on, it will not be sold to another company, but it won’t remain the possession of HP, either. Instead, it’s

1 Comment

  • Personally, I think this is an Excellent idea. I AM willing to give up the ‘convenience’ of conducting business or chatting about where to go for dinner with friends and family while cruising through traffic.

    I already try to minimize my use of my phone in the car because it DOES distract! I see drivers making boneheaded moves while chatting away (on phone or hands free) and they often seem oblivious to the accident they almost caused. (Naturally I never do this…. unless someone observes it.)

    As for enforcing such rules. There are only two options that I see having any possibility of success:

    1) Make it technically impossible to use a cell phone while the car is moving. The GPS in the phone could be used for this and the circuitry would cost virtually nothing.

    2) Make any driver involved in an accident guilty by default if they were on the phone. You get a ticket and your insurance company only pays off the other guy and then only if they weren’t on the phone in which case both drivers are ‘uninsured’ and the insurance company is completely off the hook. Same thing if they have a ‘single car’ accident where the property damage would be uninsured for both your car and any other person’s property.

    In the first case, technology trumps stupid and in the second ‘money rules’.

    The first would require an FCC ruling that no phones could be used in the US without the disabling feature.

    The second would cost the guilty drivers a small fortune relative to status quo.

    As for not talking to passengers, it is unenforceable in any form despite the studies showing it truly does reduce driver awareness. See the stats where teenage drivers are not allowed to transport friends (other teens) until they have some experience. The accident rates during the restricted period are reduced dramatically and remain below the average for all drivers (in the age groups) even after carrying passengers is allowed.

    Currently 30 states (and 19 countries including Canada) have some restrictions on carrying passengers until reaching a specific level of experience or age. These are far from uniform, but offer some statistical evidence.

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