"Perhaps there are a lot of patents because (shock) there is a lot of actual innovation in this area, with new ideas, new systems, and new ways of doing things coming out every day?"
Sure, but a lot of the patents in the smartphone space are just obvious, and follow even a robotic algorithm:
1) Take something done on computers over networks
2) Design method to do same thing on computers over wireless networks
3) Patent the method, and sue.
4) Kaching $
Poster child for above, NTP. But the same can be said for mobile search, mobile advertising, mobile video streaming, etc, etc. There's patents for all this stuff, even though it is completely obvious that all stuff done on computer networks should be tried on mobile networks too.
Each of these comprises a "new way of doing things" as you mention, and each adds value to society. But almost none is inventive or worthy of granting a monopoly.
Nevertheless, don't forget that LTE is not some cheap, old 56k baud dial-up modem. This is the latest wireless wide-area technology. It isn't cheap. There's a reason handset vendors haven't put LTE in every phone yet, you know.
Of course, the price depends lots on volume of order, etc. Only 15% of current tablets are connected to cellular. Amazon must know their volumes of these LTE models will start out low.
Also, the radio Amazon is using attaches to many, many bands so that the Fire can be sold around the world. That costs more in modem/antenna costs, but saves Amazon in logistics costs.
Don't forget that this is not just an "LTE upgrade" of an existing 3G product. This one starts with NO cellular radio, no antenna, baseband, etc. So the incremental costs are bigger than a phone.
We have to wait for iSuppli or some other group to tear one of these down to get a good idea of BOM costs, but I'd bet Bezos didn't mark up the modem very much at all.
People need to put 250MB in perspective. This is a tablet that will often be used in a "portable" context, that is at home or work. These are wifi locations. It will be used in a fully mobile context less than a smartphone.
Now, in comparing it to smartphones, people should note that the average iPhone used less than 250MB a month up until last year (monthly usage is growing). And people take their iPhones with them every time they go out, and use them more often in places with no wifi.
So, while 250MB a month isn't going to be useful for music or video while on the go, most users will be hard pressed to use up their LTE data cap even if they do everything they want on the LTE Fire connection, except music and video. In a world of hundreds of thousands of apps, that still leaves a lot you CAN do.
In the case of this jury, we have 12 people, none of which ever owned a smartphone, evaluating whether two smart phones are too similar. How are they qualified to know? How are they "peers" with the product makers?
How odd, too, that none have smartphones. In the USA, 54% now have them, and I would suspect that number to be higher in San Jose. So what filter removed all smartphone users from the jury in favor of luddites?
If I asked two cavemen to evaluate a claim between a steam locomotive maker against an electric locomotive maker, I'm pretty sure they would see both locomotives as pretty much the same thing, despite the vast differences. From a primitive perspective, they both produce pretty much the same result. Just as this jury could not see the vast differences between the Galaxy UI and the iOS UI.
And what legal team failed to teach them the differences?
2. You are right that Apple develops similar code in iOS for all their carrier partners. But what you don't seem to know is that in the iOS are "permission requests", when certain functions or apps are launched. If Facetime is launched on a iPhone, the phone uses the SIM card as a subscriber ID, and calls the cellular network over the secure SS7 control channel to see what features of Facetime should be enabled. If the carrier's systems reply "ok", then Facetime launches with cellular enabled, if the carrier replies "no", then Facetime launches as WiFi only.
An iPod would not have a cellular radio or SIM card, and would not make the check, and so launches as WiFi only, which makes sense on a non-phone.
If you have an un-locked, full-price, unsubsidized iPhone, franky, I'm not sure what it will do. I'll have to see what iOS 6 reveals on this when it gets out.
If you Jailbreak and hack your iPhone, you may be able to get different behavior out of it, where it does allow cellular even if the carrier doesn't respond "OK". A Jailbroken phone could be hacked to not even ask the cellular network if it can use cellular for Facetime, or the hacker could spoof an "ok" response from within the iPhone itself.
Apple developed this "request approval" code to appease and work with their carrier partners. Why does Apple do things that appease carriers but aren't what customers want? Because carriers by millions and millions of iPhones. End users buy a few each.
If you don't understand me still, consider the case of wifi tethering from the iPhone. It's pretty much the same as this Facetime over cellular issue. The iOS checks with the carrier network to see if tethering is allowed. If user pays for tethering, or if the carrier simply allows it for all users, then it will work, otherwise it returns a pop-up suggesting you ask your carrier for a tethering subscription. That's a limitation WRITTEN BY APPLE into their iOS, not some blocking by the carrier. I don't have to like it, but it's not illegal nor against FCC rules.
Next: You seem to make up a lot of what you perceive to be FCC rules. That's not how FCC rules work. There is a more elaborate rule-making process. Examples include:
"FCC regulation, you are only supposed to measure data downloaded to the device and not the throughput or bandwidth used to make a connection to another phone"
That's just wrong. There is no such limitation, and in fact, the FCC doesn't specify at all how carriers count data consumption.
As for how carriers DO count consumption, it is the following:
Data down to your phone + data sent from your phone + some network overhead = your consumption
There has been a fair bit of rightful complaining that we users are charged for network overhead, but it is more or less a steady, small percentage of total, so not a inflammatory issue.
You say it is, but Facetime is nothing like a normal phone call. "Normal phone calls" are circuit-switched legacy connections that are not packet-based. You said that in limiting Facetime, Apple and AT&T are blocking what is "considered by the FCC a normal phone call." No, the FCC has not taken any position on whether it's a normal phone call, and if they did, I would guess that they would conclude it is not.
Next, your assumptions are terrible. In 2010, AnandTech (respected tech blog) measured FaceTime's video chat data use, and found consumption between 100 and 150 Kbps each way. So let's assume 125 Kbps. Which would make data consumption 250 Kbps for uplink and downlink = 1.8MB per minute. http://www.anandtech.com/show/3794/the-iphone-4-review/9
So, we have a measured Facetime consumption of between 1.8 and 3 MB per minute.
Next, your math is all over the map...and wrong. You wrote
"3,600 seconds per hour x 6 hours = 129,600 seconds"
Run that through a calculator, please. It's 21,600 seconds.
So, using correct assumptions and accurate math skillz, I'll just jump to the answer:
You would use between 660 and 1080 MB in a six hour Facetime video chat. Let's assume worst-case and say 1 GB.
Now, you bring up an interesting point, that if you are talking to your wife, and she is on the same shared plan, you would instantly be doubling the amount consumed in the plan for the one six-hour call. So, then 2GB. (You were only off by a factor of 15.)
Sample AT&T pricing is $90 for a 6GB shared plan, making the cost for 2GB around $30.
So, there you are. You can do a six-hour video call with another person anywhere on the other side of the the USA, and you can both be moving around, in cars, in the park, and the cost is $30. Why does that seem so ridiculous? In 2005, most people couldn't look up sports scores on their mobile phones, now $30 for a 6-hr video call has people raging mad? (Look up "Louie CK airplane Wi-Fi" on youtube.)
Bottom line, Facetime wasn't meant for six hour calls on cellular networks. That's why it has historically been disabled.
BTW, since your wife and you had your long calls, AT&T and most other carriers have switched to plans that offer unlimited voice. Unlimited! Talk all day if you want. Anywhere in the country. So that call that cost you hundreds of dollars just a few years ago is not basically free/included. But I suppose nobody here wants to talk about what an awesome value that is, and how what we can do and the associated prices just seem to keep steadily dropping.
There's all kinds of things that get me really angry at AT&T:
- charging separately for tethering
- warrantless wiretaps a few years back
- some anti-competitive behavior and lobbying
- roaming rates
- requiring a data plan on an iPhone, even if you bought the iPhone for $650 from the Apple store, unsubsidized
- forcing me to pay the normal rate, even if I bring my own phone and don't take any subsidy (T-Mo doesn't)
- terrible web site, customer service
Why is everyone all up in arms over something innocuous like Facetime limitations. Jeez. Just use Skype.
Wally. I think part of the problem may be that you aren't very clever. You are refuting arguments that I never made. I don't give a rat's arse about your 4th gen iPod Touch, although you seem very, very proud of it.
I'm not talking about any Apple device that wasn't sold through AT&T.
I have written over and over that Apple developed the Facetime app. In fact, that is one of the cornerstones of my argument. So don't try to use it as a point to refute me.
The fact that Facetime is written by Apple, and that a limited version is sold through AT&T, is the indication that it is not AT&T throttling, but rather their partner Apple producing a limited functionality version of Facetime to sell through the AT&T channel.
The fact that this firestorm came to light before iOS 6 hits the market, and before AT&T even offered their shared data plans shows you how it is not a throttling. The public learned about this because they found the limitation in Apple's code. Apples. Therefore, the Facetime app is made by Apple. The limitation is made by Apple. There is no blocking.
The surest way to see if a developers app is being blocked is to ask them if their app is being blocked. What do you think Apple would say about this case?
BTW, did you like being proven dead wrong on the "partnership" issue? Thanks for teeing me up with such a softball, I enjoyed hitting it out of the park.
You're most likely wrong, but it's irrelevant. This isn't about iPods versus iPhones, as you seem to want it to be. Or whether there are front-facing cameras or not. It's about distribution channels and partnerships in the telecom value chain.
What I certainly know better than you is the operations, ecosystems, deal-making, incentives, backroom deals that power the mobile phone industry. Also, app development, distribution, OS ecosystems...basically anything telecom.
PS, where you quoted me above, I may not have been clear, but you misunderstood. When I wrote:
"It is a specific product, and has come with some limitations from the iPod Touch or full-price iPhone ever since the 2007."
What I mean is that the AT&T version of the iPhone is a specific version of an Apple product, and has come with certain limitations WHICH SEPARATE IT from the iPod Touch or full-price (unlocked) iPhone. I never meant your iPod touch was limited.
"Apple developers coded FaceTime into iOS as a functioning part of their product"
And they coded the limited version that they offer through AT&T as well. Apple did that. Not AT&T. AT&T didn't "block" the Facetime app, they asked their partner to produce a different version on their network.
"FaceTime app is a DEFAULT APP INCLUDED IN ALL VERSIONS OF iOS SINCE THE iPHONE 4 and 4th generation iPOD TOUCH"
Perhaps. And Apple has more than one version. The AT&T channel iPhones have limitations that Apple coded in. That's how this whole firestorm was detected, you know...developers found the code that proved this limitation in the iOS 6 SDKs. Upon launch, it will be limited in iOS, not by a blockage at AT&t. Why did Apple write that code in? For their partner, AT&T, of course.
Nah. People need to understand that when they get a subsidized iphone, they are not getting an "Apple iPhone", but rather an "Apple & AT&T iPhone". It is a specific product, and has come with some limitations from the iPod Touch or full-price iPhone ever since the 2007.
It's a Faustian deal, and you have to eat a fair bit of @#$@ in order to get the cheaper iPhone.
I'm not saying I like AT&T's move. But I think the anger is incorrect here.
What's funny is how, once again, everyone is aiming their anger directly at AT&T, but not complaining one bit about Apple.
Apple is fully complicit in this -- to the point of being the company that actually wrote the code that produces the undesired result.
The point here is that there is a partnership between Apple and AT&T. The app that is loaded on the phone is provided exactly as the app developer (apple d app) chooses to load it.
In your example of YouTube, sure, they could do that, too. But so long as you could still go to the app store and get the other version, you are not being blocked.
At which point in the current outrage has AT&T blocked an app of function that the app developer wanted to offer? Heck, the app developer here probably coded up the specific app version, and paid service warning for AT&T.
If you want the subsidized iPhone, this is what you get. It is better than nothing, and worse than some other options. No blocking, no anti-neutrality.