Friday, January 31, 2014

Tech Retrospect: Lenovo buys Motorola, but Google keeps its patents

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster week, dear readers. T'was expected to be quiet, but a series of fascinating announcements quickly changed that. The biggest? Google's sale of Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9 billion. That's a fair bit less than the $12.5 billion the Googs paid back in 2012, which on the surface makes this look like a terrible deal. But dig a little further and it doesn't seem too bad.
For starters, Google sold off the company's set-top box business, Motorola Home, last year for $2.3 billion. And, more importantly for Google, it's keeping the "vast
majority" of the patents that it acquired as part of the acquisition in the first place. The company certainly still lost money on the deal, but it isn't quite as bad as it seems.
Moto G (Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
As to what happens next, that remains to be seen. Google keeps the patents it says it needs to defend the Android ecosystem. Lenovo gets the North American smartphone leg-up it desperately wants. (The company tried to buy BlackBerry last year, but was shut down by the Canadian government.) And, hopefully, Motorola gets a supportive parent that will provide the resources necessary to thrive. Whether the company will keep its US manufacturing and employees is the big question on the minds of many, including myself, but given that Lenovo already has a major presence in the US, don't be so quick to rule out the possibility.

Microsoft SkyDrive becomes OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive (Credit: Microsoft)
After another painful trademark ruling for Microsoft, its SkyDrive cloud storage service was found to be a little too similarly named to the offerings of British Sky Broadcasting, the company announced an intention to rename it. This week, we learned its new nom de guerre: OneDrive. While sadly ditching the heavenly connotations of the previous name, if anything OneDrive helps to drive home the concept of unified storage across the many platforms that Microsoft currently offers. These days, even a hint of oneness is a good thing.

Satya Nadella tipped as next Microsoft CEO

(Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
It's been a lengthy courting process for Microsoft in finding who would be next to take the reins, attempting to fill the big, boisterous shoes of Steve Ballmer. A Bloomberg report this week indicates that insider Satya Nadella is set to get the nod. Nadella leads Microsoft's cloud computing push, an incredibly vital shift for the company as desktop revenues appear to continue to dwindle going forward. Obviously having a presence on hardware will be an important aspect for Microsoft for some time to come, but it must dominate the cloud if it hopes to maintain its current size.

After disappointing earnings, Amazon may raise Prime $40

Amazon CEO unveils drone delivery concept (Credit: Amazon)
2013 revenues of $74.45 billion for Amazon, up 22 percent from the year before, weren't enough to keep the company's investors happy. The stock dropped 8 percent after the company posted earnings, which led to it quickly pledging ways to rake in even more cash. CFO Tom Szkutak indicated that the company may be losing a little too much on its Prime service, which includes free two-day shipping as well as streaming movies and Kindle book rentals. The $79-per-year service may soon bump to $99 or perhaps even $119 per year. Something tells me impatient buyers will continue to cough up the dough. I know I will.

Appleseed-style exoskeleton set to dominate cosplay conventions


If you're looking to impress at a comic or anime convention, you'd best dress for success -- the wilder the better. You'd also best hope that representatives from Dai-Nihon Giken don't show up. The company, which manufactures plenty of anime-related toys and gear, has created a giant, motorized exoskeleton in the spirit of the Appleseed series. A human being (naturally clad in spandex) can go inside and walk normally, while a set of auxiliary arms provide super strength. In theory. Check out the video above, and then start counting the days from now until Halloween.

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