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LG is making efforts to improve the user experience on its devices after it opened a “Software Upgrade Center” in its native Korea.
The new lab will be focused on “providing customers worldwide with faster, timelier, smartphone operating system and software updates,” the company explained in a brief statement.
The idea is to help get the latest versions of Android out to more users at a faster pace than it does right now.
That’s a genuine problem for Android OEM who are tasked with bringing the latest flavor of Android to devices that already in the market. Issues they have to deal with include different chipsets, Android customization and carriers.
The issue has been pretty problematic for LG. Android Oreo, for example, announced by Google last September only began rolling out to the first handful of LG devices last month.
The Korean firm said that one of the first priorities for this new center is to get Oreo out to Korea-based owners of the LG G6 — last year’s flagship phone — before the end of this month. After that, it will look to expand the rollout to G6 owners in other parts of the world.
Beyond Android updates, the center will also focus on stability update to make sure that the newest features work on devices without compromising performance.
This move is one of the first major strategies from new LG Mobile CEO Hwang Jeong-hwan, who took the top job last year. He came directly from the company’s R&D division, which suggests that he identified the update issue as a fairly urgent one to address.
His bigger challenge is to stop LG’s mobile division bleeding capital. LG Electronics itself is forecasting record Q1 financial results later this month, but its smartphone unit is likely to post yet another loss that drags the parent down.
We’ll find out more when LG’s next flagship is unveiled next month.
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No one would have predicted that the three of us would ever find ourselves on the same side of the corporate patent wars, let alone speak with one voice about how to end them.
That’s because one of us is the patent chief at a global smartphone maker (and an influential critic of patent licensing abuses); another is the former licensing chief at Apple and current chief executive of a non-practicing entity (NPE) patent licensing company that has been a target of criticism from product manufacturers; while the third is president of a patent pool operator, who has criticized companies on both sides of the patent wars for their gamesmanship, lack of transparency, and litigiousness.
We have come together because we see that patent owners and product makers have become trapped in an endless cycle of demands, counter-demands, and unproductive litigation. Unless we find a way out of this conflict, we will almost certainly see a repeat of yesterday’s costly and wasteful smartphone wars in tomorrow’s wireless connected car sector.
Product makers accuse patent owners of threatening lawsuits and using the expense of the legal process in order to demand extortionate royalties for their patent rights. For their part, patent owners say product makers refuse to pay fair compensation for the patented wireless, audio, and video features that give their products value as communication and entertainment devices.
The truth is, both sides have a point. That’s because patent owners and product makers are caught in a classic “prisoner’s dilemma,” in which the lack of transparency and fair ground rules in patent licensing lead companies on each side of a patent dispute to try to game the other. This only ensures that both sides suffer a negative outcome in outrageously-expensive litigation.
Unlike in the real property business, in intellectual property (IP) licensing there is little or no independent appraisal of the assets (i.e., patents) or transparency as to how prices are determined. And because most patent license agreements are confidential, there is little or no information or “comps” on what others have paid for similar patent rights. Nor are there any widely-accepted ground rules for what constitutes fair negotiating practices between buyers and sellers.
This is especially true in regards to standards-essential wireless patents, which are supposed to be licensed on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. But what’s fair or reasonable about the fact that an impossibly-large number of LTE (4G) cellular patents — more than 60,000, in fact — have been declared “standards essential” without any independent evaluation of those patents whatsoever?
That’s right, those 60,000-plus patents have all been self-declared “standards-essential” by companies each seeking their own commercial advantage. What you’ve got is a wireless gold rush — with plenty of fool’s gold posing as real gold.
So the three of us, working with industry leaders on both sides of the patent owner vs. product maker divide, have developed a three-pronged plan for ending the wireless patent wars and creating a more productive and less litigious patent licensing sector.
First, whittle down this ridiculous mountain of self-interested wireless patent claims to the fewer than 2,000 patent families that most experts believe are truly essential to smartphone handset makers. We can do this by excluding duplicative patents, expired patents, patents not in force in major economic markets, and patents for base station, infrastructure, and other innovations not relevant to handset makers. Independent, neutral evaluators will then confirm each patent’s relevance to the LTE standard for handsets.
Second, base royalty prices not on the subjectively-argued value of each individual patent examined in a vacuum, but on the objective value of the entire stack of LTE patents in a phone. A recent court judgment valued that LTE stack at roughly $20 for a smartphone with an average selling price of $324, but with greater price transparency from both sides, the market itself will likely set a rational price for the LTE stack. Royalties can then be paid to patent owners roughly proportionate to each patent owner’s percentage share of the total LTE patent stack.
And third, ensure greater transparency by promoting collective licensing solutions such as patent pools that openly publish their pricing frameworks and offer consistent terms to all licensees. Given the “prisoner’s dilemma” dynamics in patent licensing today, it is unrealistic to expect any one patent owner to unilaterally forego potential business advantage by revealing its pricing strategies. But collective licensing approaches such as patent pools reduce the risks of transparency for everyone.
As the IP journal Intellectual Asset Management recently noted, “There’s a growing sense that a collective approach to licensing could help solve some of the problems of the industry which, in sectors like mobile, has been scarred by long-running and costly disputes between patent owners and potential licensees.”
Our “peace plan” would eliminate many of the incentives and opportunities for gamesmanship in wireless patent licensing. And most importantly, it would help patent owners and product makers avoid a repeat of yesterday’s costly smartphone wars in tomorrow’s connected car, autonomous vehicle, and Internet of Things (IoT) industries.
It’s time for a new realignment in the industry — one in which the conflict is no longer between product maker and patent owner, but between those who license patents on a fair and transparent basis, and those who do not.
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Since the dawn of the internet, the titans of this industry have fought to win the “starting point” — the place that users start their online experiences. In other words, the place where they begin “browsing.” The advent of the dial-up era had America Online mailing a CD to every home in America, which passed the baton to Yahoo’s categorical listings, which was swallowed by Google’s indexing of the world’s information — winning the “starting point” was everything.
As the mobile revolution continues to explode across the world – the battle for the starting point has intensified. For a period of time, people believed it would be the hardware, then it became clear that the software mattered most. Then conversation shifted to a debate between operating systems (Android or iOS) and moved on to social properties and messaging apps where people were spending most of their time. Today – my belief is we’re hovering somewhere in between apps and operating systems. That being said, the interface layer will always be evolving.
The starting point, just like a rocket’s launchpad, is only important because of what comes after. The battle to win that coveted position, although often disguised as many other things, is really a battle to become the starting point of commerce.
Google’s philosophy includes a commitment to get users “off their page” as quickly as possible…to get that user to form a habit and come back to their starting point. The real (yet somewhat veiled) goal, in my opinion, is to get users to search and find the things they want to buy.
Facebook, on the other hand, has become a starting point through it’s monopolization of users’ time, attention, and data. Through this effort – it’s developed an advertising business that shatters records quarter after quarter.
Google and Facebook, this famed duopoly, represent 89% of new advertising spending in 2017. Their dominance is unrivaled…for now.
Change is urgently being demanded by market forces – shifts in consumer habits, intolerable rising costs to advertisers, and through a nearly universal dissatisfaction with the advertising models that have dominated (plagued) the US digital economy. All of which is being accelerated by mobile. Terrible experiences for users still persist in our online experiences, deliver low efficacy for advertisers, and fraud is rampant. The march away from the glut of advertising excess may be most symbolically seen in the explosion of ad blockers. Further evidence of the “need for a correction of this broken industry” is Oracle’s willingness to pay $850M for a company that polices ads (probably the best entrepreneurs I know ran this company, so no surprise).
As an entrepreneur, my job is to predict the future. When reflecting on what I’ve learned thus far in my journey – it’s become clear that two truths can guide us in making smarter decisions about our digital future:
Every day, retailers, advertisers, brands, and marketers get smarter. This means that every day – they will push the platforms, their partners, and the places they rely on for users to be more “performance driven”. More transactional.
Paying for views, bots (Russian or otherwise), or anything other than “dollars” will become less and less popular over time. It’s no secret that Amazon, the world’s most powerful company (imho), relies so heavily on its Associates Program (it’s home built partnership and affiliate platform). This channel is the highest performing form of paid acquisition that retailers have, and in fact, it’s rumored that the success of Amazon’s affiliate program led to the development of AWS due to large spikes in partner traffic.
When thinking about our digital future, look down and look east. Look down and admire your phone – this will serve as your portal to the digital world for the next decade and our dependence will only continue to grow. The explosive adoption of this form factor is continuing to outpace any technological trend in history.
Now, look east and recognize that what happens in China will happen here, in the West, eventually. The Chinese market skipped the PC driven digital revolution – and adopted the digital era via the smartphone. Some really smart investors have built strategies around this thesis and have quietly been reaping rewards due to their clairvoyance.
China has historically been categorized as a market full of knock-offs and copycats – but times have changed. Some of the world’s largest and most innovative companies have come out of China over the past decade. The entrepreneurial work ethic in China (as praised recently by arguably the world’s greatest investor Michael Moritz), the speed of innovation, and the ability to quickly scale and reach meaningful populations have caused Chinese companies to leapfrog the market cap of many of their US counterparts.
The most interesting component of the Chinese digital economy’s growth is that it is fundamentally more “pure” than the US market’s. I say this because the Chinese market is inherently “transactional”. As Andreessen Horowitz writes – WeChat, China’s most valuable company, has become the “starting point” and hub for all user actions. Their revenue diversity – is much more “Amazon” than “Google” or “Facebook” – it’s much more pure. They make money off the transactions driven from their platform – and advertising is far less important in their strategy.
The obsession with replicating WeChat took the tech industry by storm two years ago — and for some misplaced reason — everyone thought we needed to build messaging bots to compete.
What shouldn’t be lost is our obsession with the purity and power of the business models being created in China. The fabric that binds the Chinese digital economy together and has fostered its seemingly boundless growth is the magic combination of commerce and mobile. Singles Day, the Chinese version of Black Friday, drove $25 billion in sales on Alibaba – 90% of which were on mobile.
The lesson we’ve learned thus far in both the US and in China are that “consumers spending money” creates the most durable consumer businesses. Google, putting aside all its moonshots and heroic mission statements, is a “starting point” powered by a shopping engine. If you disagree, look at where their revenue comes from…
Google’s announcement last week of Shopping Actions and their movement to a “pay per transaction model” signals a turning point that could forever change the landscape of the digital economy.
Google’s multi-front battle against Apple, Facebook, and Amazon is weighted. Amazon is the most threatening. It’s the most durable business of the 4 – and it’s model is unbounded on two fronts that almost everyone I know would bet their future on – 1) people buying more online, where Amazon makes a disproportionate amount of every dollar spent and 2) companies needing more cloud computing power (more servers), where Amazon makes a disproportionate amount of every dollar spent.
To add insult to injury, Amazon is threatening Google by becoming a starting point itself – 55% of product searches now originate at Amazon up from 30% just a year ago.
Google, recognizing consumer behavior was changing in mobile (less searching) and the inferiority of their model when compared to the durability and growth prospects of Amazon, needed to respond. Google needed a model that supported boundless growth and one that created a “win-win” for its advertising partners – one that resembled Amazon’s relationship with its merchants – not one that continued to increase costs to retailers while capitalizing on their monopolization of search traffic.
Google knows that with its position as the starting point – with Google.com, Google Apps, and Android – it has to become a part of the transaction to prevail in the long term. With users in mobile demanding fewer ads, and more utility (demanding experiences that look and feel a lot more like what has prevailed in China) – Google has every reason in the world to look down and to look east – to become a part of the transaction – to take its piece.
A collision course for Google and the retailers it relies upon for revenue was on the horizon. Search activity per user was declining in mobile and user acquisition costs were growing quarter over quarter. Businesses are repeatedly failing to compete with Amazon and unless Google could create an economically viable growth model for retailers – no one would stand a chance against the commerce juggernaut – not the retailers nor Google itself.
As I’ve believed for a long time, becoming a part of the transaction is the most favorable business model for all parties – sources of traffic make money when retailers sell things – and most importantly – this only happens when users find the things they want.
Shopping Actions is Google’s first ambitious step to satisfy all three parties – businesses and business models all over the world will feel this impact.
Good work, Sundar.
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Michigan saw a historic amount of snowfall in 2018. And it’s not done. It’s snowing as I write this and it snowed nearly every day since I took delivery of this burgundy 2018 Lincoln Navigator. Excuse the dirty car shown in the photos. That’s life in the Midwest: half the year it’s impossible to keep cars clean of salt and grime and, to me, that’s the best time to review a vehicle. I’m happy to report the new Navigator is a comfortable refuge from the snowy winter.
I spent a week in the 2018 Navigator running from Flint, Michigan to Ann Arbor to Detroit. I filled up the 23-gallon tank enough to know to take it easy on the lively 3.5L EcoBoost V6. The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is luxurious and confident — but thirsty.
This is a luxury SUV. It’s not a sport truck and it’s not high-tech paradise, though it can play the part of both. The new Navigator was clearly built to be as comfortable as possible, and along the way Lincoln constructed one of the best luxury SUVs on the market.
Winter hit Michigan hard this year and I found my 2012 Dodge Durango R/T in the ditch several times. It started snowing in December and didn’t stop until halfway through March. I grew up in Michigan and still live in the state. Driving in snow doesn’t bother me, though jumping into an unfamiliar vehicle and navigating snow-covered roads can be challenging. But not in this Navigator. I found it handles snow and slush and ice without an issue.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is a full-size SUV. It sits as high as a Ford F-150 and tends to lumber about as such. The ride is confident and stable. There’s little sway on tight expressway ramps and the automatic four-wheel drive quickly activates when a tire starts to spin.
This Navigator isn’t a sport truck, but it gets up and goes thanks to Ford’s fantastic 3.5L EcoBoost V6. This six-cylinder twin-turbo kit has found its way into nearly every full-size platform Ford offers. The Navigator is gifted with an updated version of the engine and it offers ample power across its range. The 3.5L surprises in this massive luxury SUV. It’s lively and powerful and more than enough to make the ride comfortable. During my time with the truck, I never felt at a loss of power, though I tried.
The engine is key to the Navigator’s appeal on several levels. First, 3.5L V6 offers decent fuel economy if driven conservatively while offering a decent bit of excitement if driven with that intent. Second, it allows Lincoln to say the Navigator is able to tow 600 lbs more than the Cadillac Escalade, which features a massive 6.2L V8. While both vehicles can ably pull a pontoon, the Lincoln does so with 510 lb.-ft of torque over Cadillac’s 460 — though without a boat of my own, I’m unable to confirm if the difference is felt in the real world.
The steering is light and responsive, though it’s impossible to forget this is a massive vehicle. It drives like a truck — though not your grandfather’s work truck. The driver sits in a commanding position that makes for good visibility. The vehicle’s suspension lets it cruise over rough roads and most bumps are absorbed. It’s a big SUV and there’s a fair amount of body roll on on-ramps. Parking isn’t an issue. There are plenty of cameras positioned around the vehicle to help maneuver this land yacht.
The interior of the new Navigator stuns. Wood, leather and chrome adorn the surfaces and walks close to the line of bling. It begs the confirmation that it ultimately comes from an American automaker. Take the badging off the interior and it could easily be mistaken as a luxury European SUV — though this Navigator is bigger than anything offered across the pond.
It’s roomy inside. Storage is abundant but cleverly hidden so as not to look like a minivan. There’s plenty of leg room for second-row passengers while the third row is surprisingly roomy.
The seats are something special. Sure, they’re comfortable and supportive like any found in high-end SUVs. It’s their design that sets them apart. The cushions jet out from a large back support making them look more like an Eames lounger than an overstuffed leather recliner. The design is a stark departure from most automotive seats, and I’m a fan.
The back seats are not nearly as comfortable. They’re supportive and offer several seating positions. In this tester, the rear seat is equipped with a center console that sports a small LCD screen that displays the media currently playing. The kids love it and I’m sure Uber passengers would too. As a parent to two kids, I found it annoying to cede control of the radio to the backseat. Thankfully there’s a button above the climate controls that disables the backseat controls, because I can only listen to Radio Disney for so long.
There’s an LCD screen mounted in the center of the dash. It’s large enough to be usable though not distracting. The best part? The screen doesn’t show fingerprints. There’s clearly a coating over the screen that somehow, magically, makes fingerprints invisible. Glare doesn’t seem to be an issue, though, as previously mentioned, it’s been snowing for a week and I haven’t seen the sun at all during my testing.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is equipped with a Lincoln-badged version of the Ford Sync 3 infotainment system. The automaker rolled out this system with 2016 models and it’s a massive improvement over previous Sync versions. It’s not the best infotainment system available, but it’s good enough. Vehicle functions and controls are in logical places and Ford’s AppLink system offers support for some third-party apps now, including Waze .
Android Auto and CarPlay are also available when used with compatible devices. I’ve grown to avoid these systems and prefer to stick with most systems developed by automakers. I was initially a fan of CarPlay, but Apple has yet to advance the platform, and now several years after its launch, it feels dated and unusable.
The Navigator’s smartphone app is clever. Need to put in navigation info? With the Lincoln Way app, drivers can input a destination on their smartphone app before they get into the vehicle and send those directions to the Navigator. It’s much easier than entering the destination through the in-vehicle system. The app also lets drivers start the car, order roadside assistance or service and locate the car.
This new Navigator is in a class of its own. The Cadillac Escalade’s interior is vastly inferior, the Mercedes-Benz GLS is dated and much less roomy. The Lexus LX and Toyota Land Cruiser have better off-road chops, but the platform is over 10 years old and it shows. Land Rover’s SUVs are more expensive and its three-row models are much smaller and less powerful than the Navigator, though new models are coming out soon.
There simply isn’t a more luxurious, roomy six- or seven-passenger vehicle available than the new Navigator.
I’m in the market for a new vehicle and recently test drove several used 2017 Lincoln Navigators. It’s a nice truck, but lacks the “wow” factor of the 2018 Navigator. Where past models were clearly a rebadged Ford, complete with similar plastic trim and equipment, the new Navigator is a fresh departure from its Ford counterpart, the Expedition. Similarities between the two models still exist, though they’re less pronounced, with the Lincoln clearly getting the nod toward luxury.
The Navigator of today is much better than the Navigator of yesterday. Lincoln improved the Navigator in nearly every way. The ride, the comfort, the technology. Everything is better, and that’s impressive and must be noted.
The Navigator is 25 years old this year. It was one of the first American-made luxury SUVs, but it has nearly always been overshadowed by the Escalade — and for good reason. The Escalade has always offered more everything than the Navigator. But not anymore.
The new Navigator sets the bar. It’s luxurious. It’s powerful. The Navigator is wonderful.
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