RIM’s Upfront Payment To Nokia In Patent Dispute Settlement Totals $65M


RIM responded to Nokia’s request to have its devices removed from sale following a patent decision in the Finnish company’s favor by working out a settlement, and now we’re beginning to get a sense of the specific terms of said arrangement. AllThingsD has uncovered an SEC filing that details RIM’s first lump-sum payments, which amounts to €50 million (or around $ 65 million). Following that initial exchange, RIM will have to make royalty payments on the sale of each device.

Nokia and RIM announced their new patent license agreement on December 21, sharing only that it would settle all patent litigation between the two telecommunications companies, and that it would include both a one-time payment (the $ 65 million alluded to in the new SEC documents) and ongoing payments from RIM to Nokia. Specific details were said to be confidential at the time, though Jeffries analyst Peter Misek told AllThingsD in the weeks leading up to the eventual settlement that the royalty rate RIM was likely to pay was somewhere in the $ 2 to $ 5 range per handset sold.

If those numbers are accurate, RIM could come close to essentially paying out roughly the same as the $ 65 million lump sum per year to Nokia in royalty fees. That may seem steep, especially for a beleaguered company like RIM, but it is actually in line with the payment structure Nokia has extracted from companies who settled past patent litigation with broad licensing agreements, including Apple.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Early Apple Computer And Tablet Designs Reveal The iMac And iPad That Might Have Been


Apple worked closely with Frogdesign during the eighties, creating Apple’s early design language and charting the visual path of Apple computers from the Apple IIc to the Macintosh. Frogdesign founder Hartmut Esslinger’s fingerprints are all over those early, iconic designs, and in a new book called Design Forward, he reveals some concepts for Apple computers and tablets that never made it to market, but that would seem perfectly at home in evolutionary charts depicting the design history of the iPad, iMac and other modern Apple products.

Esslinger’s designs show off a tablet-type device called the “macphone” from 1984, which boasts a corded handset for calling as well as a stylus-based touchscreen for handwritten text entry and a software keyboard, which in some ways resembles the early Newton Apple tablet. Another, the “tablet mac” from 1982, depicts a more simple slate, which can support a corded keyboard for text entry and an external floppy disk drive that’s actually much bulkier than the device itself. These designs show that Apple was thinking about ways to make the computer a tablet long before it introduced the iPad in 2010.

There are also computers inspired by Sony, a company whose industrial design tastes Steve Jobs famously admired, as well as a concept called the “baby mac” from 1985 that has all the hallmarks of later iMacs in a package with a tilting base and low profile keyboard. Some of these concepts are a little more far out, like a two-screen workstation with a tower in the middle, but overall, it’s clear from these designs that Esslinger and Frogdesign didn’t just define the early Apple aesthetic, but also set the stage for later innovations to come.

Click to view slideshow.

Check out the full gallery over at Designboom for more.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Raspberry Pi Hack Turns The Ultra-Affordable Computer Into An AirPlay Receiver


What can’t the Raspberry Pi do? Well, it definitely can operate as an AirPlay receiver for Apple’s Wi-Fi audio streaming protocol, it turns out. Cambridge engineering student Jordan Burgess managed to convert one of the $ 25 open computers into an AirPlay receiver along the lines of Apple’s AirPort Express, using open source software, a USB Wi-Fi adapter, an SD card, a micro USB cable and the Pi itself.

The process for setting up the Pi once you have all the hardware ingredients is fairly simple, especially if you’re comfortable working with Terminal and with the basics of installing an operating system onto the Raspberry Pi. Still, this isn’t for users who aren’t comfortable outside of their computer’s standard GUI. But if you’ve got the time and the skills, you can save a fair amount using this version vs. others. Burgess estimates that the total build cost is around £30 ($ 48 U.S.), vs. $ 100 for the Apple TV or AirPort Express. Speakers with the tech built-in also cost well in excess of that on average.

There are some caveats, however, and the biggest may turn off audio quality enthusiasts hoping to set some of these up and running in their own homes. Burgess notes that the Raspberry Pi lacks a good digital-to-analog converter (DAC), meaning that you’ll get background noise and distortion when you plug the Pi directly into the 3.5mm output of a set of speakers. A USB sound card is a possible fix for this limitation, however, and some home theater receivers act as DACs if you’re using it as a way to add AirPlay functionality cheaply to your existing living or media room setup.

With a few more refinements to help increase audio quality, this could be a cheap way to help wire an entire house for sound, Sonos-style, so long as you’re already committed to using Apple devices and iTunes.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

When Kickstarter Delivers: Thanks To Simple, Effective Design, Supr’s Slim Wallet Exceeds Expectations


I’ve backed an embarrassing amount of Kickstarter projects, almost all of them in the hardware/gadget categories, and I’ve been disappointed more than I’ve been delighted. The Slim wallet by Supr however bucks the trend, delivering a front-pocket wallet that finally and truly deserves the honor of actually being carried in that place.

Minneapolis-based Supr Good Co. initially launched the Slim in August, with a funding goal of just $ 10,000 and an estimated shipping date of September for their minimalist wallet design, which essentially is just an elastic sheath measuring only 3mm thick. The U.S.-made wallet still boasts classic good looks despite its simplicity, however, thanks to a striking contrast-stitched “X” front-and-center where the two ends of the elastic material used in its construction meet.

Because of the wallet’s simplicity, a reviewer like myself doesn’t need to mince words: this is pretty much a perfect slim wallet for those who want just the basics in a lightweight, convenient package. I carry just four cards and some bills, all of which tuck in to the Slim snugly in a way that leaves me confident nothing is going to accidentally fall out or go missing. It manages to be slimmer than the Fossil front pocket wallet it replaces, and a lot lighter, too. I’ve also varied the number of cards I’ve had in there over the past week, and so far, the elastic shows no sign of excess stretch or an inability to return to holding fewer cards securely.

Supr missed their original shipping target by a fair margin, but they were very transparent about their reasons for doing so, and they did also eventually deliver a terrific product. The online shop hasn’t officially opened yet, but you can register your interest for the Slim when it does start to ship to the general public. Kickstarter may not have the security of ordering gadgets from established companies, but when it works, it results in some amazing stuff that you aren’t likely to be able to pick up elsewhere.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

OUYA Ships 1,200 Development Consoles, Shows Off Its Pre-Release Android Gaming Hardware On Video


OUYA, the Android-based affordable gaming console that inspired a wide range of reaction from tech watchers and gamers alike when it debuted on Kickstarter back in July 2012, today reached an important milestone: shipping product. Admittedly, it’s just the developer-specific consoles for now, but 1,200 units are now winging their way to actual people, and the company put the pre-release gaming console on video to prove it.

This OUYA unboxing video gives us a glimpse at what the thing looks like in the flesh – albeit in a transparent plastic casing for both controller and console that doesn’t reflect its anticipated shipping fit and finish. The design isn’t quite final either, as founder Jules Uhrman explains on the video alongside an Ouya designer that the d-pad will change, as will shoulder pad positioning and a number of other internal controller components. Also newly shown off in the video are a micro USB port on the console itself, and an internal fan in the device to keep it cool during intense gaming sessions.

The console looks an awful lot like early renders we’ve seen (minus the limited-edition transparent plastic finish) and Uhrman even goes so far as to actually plug in the console and power it up on video, although we don’t see anything beyond a boot screen as the device loads up with the “OUYA” branding. At the very least though, we know it turns on, and that it’s shipping in some capacity, which in itself might be enough to quiet those who were skeptical about OUYA’s ability to deliver any kind of working device at all.

Shipping development consoles today also means that OUYA has indeed kept its initial hardware ship date promise – a rarity among any Kickstarter projects, and impressive given the popularity of this one in particular and the amount of scrutiny it received. On-time delivery of these units bodes well for OUYA’s anticipated March 2013 shipping date for consumer units. But there’s still plenty of work to be done on software, and refinements are needed on the hardware side, too, so nothing’s set in stone at this point. Still, it’s great to see OUYA even reach this point, and here’s hoping they make that March launch.

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