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Who says conference calls aren't fun?

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has officially entered into settlement talks with Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930) the top Android phonemaker.  The companies both claim hope for reaching an intellectual property cross-licensing pact, which would preserve their deep $8B USD business relationship, which mostly involves Apple paying Samsung to produce its iPhone and iPad CPUs at a semiconductor factory in Texas.

I. This is the Sound of Settling?

While there's little assurance the pair will be able to reach an amicable agreement and put an end to their expensive international legal conflict, comments by Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterate Apple's claimed optimism about a compromise.

Mr. Cook, who will participate in the settlement talks along with Samsung's CEO, commented on the ongoing litigation during his company's earnings call, in which Apple reported record profits and record global sales of its iPhone 4S smartphone.  He stated, "I've always hated litigation. We just want people to invent their own stuff."

Samsung v. Apple
"Frenemys" Apple and Samsung have agreed to consider settling.
[Image Source: TechnoBuffalo]

That comment seems to offer a very different perspective that late Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs who embraced litigation as a way to destroy his hated competitor.  Mr. Jobs is quoted as saying, "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

While Mr. Jobs indeed escalated Apple's legal war against Android -- dubbed by some as "The Patent Wars" -- to his dying breath, his 2011 passing may have cleared the way for an armistice.

II. No Tablet Hybrids for Apple Users

In the conference call Mr. Cook also took a jab at the Windows 8 tablet-laptop "hybrids" that ultrabook chipmaker Intel Corp. (INTC) and OEMs are pushing.  While he stopped short of criticizing Windows 8, which is expected to pop up in many traditional tablet designs, he argued that hybrids are a pointless form factor.

He comments, "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user."

Oddly Apple's current "Lion" (OS X 10.7) and upcoming "Mountain Lion" (OS X 10.8) operating systems have put much focusing into converging the company's iOS mobile operating system with the personal computer iOS line -- seemingly the same approach Tim Cook is blasting Microsoft, et al. for taking.

Responding to questions of whether Apple might be interested in "converging" its MacBook Air and iPad lines into a hybrid, he argued that such a product would feature too many "tradeoffs" to live up to Apple's high standards.  He adds, "We are not going to that party, but others might from a defensive point of view."

Despite the skepticism, the public seems at least curious about hybrid tablets.  Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992) has received a great deal of attention for its "Yoga" hybrid design, which will join the well-received IdeaPad family of laptops, which Lenovo launched in 2008.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says hybrid tablets like the Yoga will disappoint [Image Source: Lenovo]

Lenovo, which is growing faster than Apple in the personal computer market, is packing the 17 mm thick convertible with high end technology such as an Ivy Bridge processor, a 13-inch 1,600x900 pixel display, up to 8 GB of DRAM, and up to a 256 GB SSD.

In tablet mode, the Yoga's keyboard is merely dormant behind the touchscreen.  Other hybrid tablet/laptop makers have opted for a slightly different approach, going for fully detachable designs.  The highest profile example of this alternate approach has been ASUSTEK Computer Inc.'s (TPE:2357"Transformer" Android tablet/laptop. The first generation model has sold relatively well, albeit not provided much of a serious challenge sales-wise to the iPad.  

By contrast sales of the second-generation model -- the "Transformer Prime" -- have been abysmal.  Asus is expected to launch a third-generation model dubbed "Transformer Infinity" sometime this quarter.  The upgrade model will feature a higher-resolution 1,920x1,200 pixel screen and improved GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth to eliminate the signal issues found in the Prime.

Source: Apple

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He's right
By corduroygt on 4/25/2012 1:46:31 PM , Rating: 1
3.1 lbs is way too heavy for a tablet. Even the new iPad is a bit heavy at 1.4 lbs, iPad 2 was better in that area.

RE: He's right
By RufusM on 4/25/2012 1:52:05 PM , Rating: 5
Just look at the ASUS Transformer model as the new model, or their new PadPhone as the new model. If I could replace my desktop with a tablet/laptop hybrid or a phone/laptop hybrid that would be a big win for portability.

To Cook's comparison, a toaster and a fridge may not make great companions but a fridge and a freezer do!! That's a better comparison.

RE: He's right
By quiksilvr on 4/25/2012 2:09:19 PM , Rating: 5
A toaster fridge would be awesome. Imagine having your bread in your fridge and with a push of a button, TOAST.

RE: He's right
By kleinma on 4/25/2012 2:05:42 PM , Rating: 5
I like how Mr Cook doesn't consider having to peck on a virtual keyboard like an asshole when you are trying to get some actual work done a tradeoff when using a tablet that is not a hybrid...

Basically his quotes are equal to "We don't do it that way, so it sucks". The Emperor has trained Vader well I see...

RE: He's right
By tayb on 4/25/2012 2:27:23 PM , Rating: 2
They've clearly embraced the idea of physical keyboards seeing as they have keyboard docks for the iPad...

He's just pandering. I guarantee you they've gone through some reference designs of this very thing but they aren't ready for launch yet. It is rumored that the iPad was in the works for 5-6 years and went through dozens of revisions before the final release.

RE: He's right
By GulWestfale on 4/25/2012 3:40:00 PM , Rating: 2
i, a lifelong windows user, have just recently bought a macbook air (13" basic config). i am quite impressed not just by the machine, but especially by apple's software: pages and iauthor in particular stand out for me.

but now, after having used an android tablet to read/browse the web in bed for a few months, i find myself lying in bed, trying to do things on the macbook by touching the screen.

the only reason i got the macbook is because i need to get some writing done on the road, and the android tablet wasn't cutting it (onscreen keyboards suck, and bluetooth ones are a hassle and overpriced). so now i have what i want/need in teh macbook, but i miss the touchscreen for when i'm not typing. it's just so much easier to simply touch something instead of having to use a pointer. i hope mr cook reconsiders his position; simply adding a touchscreen to the macbook air would make it perfect for me. and going from that to adding a hinge that allows the screen to fold backwards so you can use it as a pure tablet isn't a huge step either.

and then maybe apple can start using intel medfield CPUs in its mobile products, and bring the full-fledged OSX to the iphone/ipad, and then they'll finally be able to run flash and stop sucking so hard! ah, i can dream, can't i?

RE: He's right
By kleinma on 4/25/2012 3:42:14 PM , Rating: 5
Bluetooth keyboards are overpriced, so you went out and bought an overpriced laptop from an overpricing company?

RE: He's right
By GulWestfale on 4/25/2012 3:53:13 PM , Rating: 3
i write books, so needed something with a decent keyboard. i fiddled around with different onscreen ones, and then a bluetooth one, and then came to the conclusion that i really need a laptop. i wanted something small and light, and after considering the other options (ultrabooks), i decided on a mac because
a- it didn't seem like a bad deal compared to similar windows machines, and
b- i've never had one, so i thought it was worth trying out.

and i really must say, it was money well spent. pages and iauthor alone make my job a lot easier, and all the other programs seem to be better thought-out than their windows counterparts.

i'm not saying that the mac is better than windows; it absolutely sucks at gaming (both in selection of games and in performance), has less software available overall, and yes, a desktop mac is massively overpriced. but i'm happy with my air.

RE: He's right
By invidious on 4/26/2012 10:31:17 AM , Rating: 3
i write books, so needed something with a decent keyboard
You sound like a used car salemans wet dream. You started with needing a decent keyboard and ended up with a $1200+ laptop. You bought a mac because you wanted a mac and you didn't care about the price. There is nothing wrong with that, but stop trying to sugar coat it.

RE: He's right
By tayb on 4/25/2012 4:19:08 PM , Rating: 4
The Macbook Air is actually competitively priced compared to other ultra-portables. It's not a bad deal at all. A 17" Macbook Pro? Yeah, ripoff.

RE: He's right
By aliasfox on 4/25/2012 4:11:18 PM , Rating: 3
There's clearly some level of convergence - you want to type on an iPad or poke at a MacBook's screen, for instance. But fundamentally, I think he's right.

For example, my basic day-to-day computer use at home is covered by my first-gen iPad - surfing the web, checking email, consuming media. But when I want to edit photos, handle SAS datasets, or things that are more... interactive, a full OS and a larger screen with multiple input options is the way to go.

Will we see a MBA with a touchscreen? yes. Might we see a more full featured keyboard dock for the iPad? I wouldn't bet against it. But touch on a full OS will likely always be an afterthought compared to tactile controls, and typing/multitasking on a truly portable device will always be secondary when weight and battery life are primary concerns.

RE: He's right
By Mitch101 on 4/26/2012 10:13:49 AM , Rating: 3
RE: He's right
By Church of Dirac on 4/25/2012 3:00:21 PM , Rating: 2
When I was an undergrad, a buddy had a Toshiba Portege M200 ( ) hybrid laptop/tablet. That was 8 years ago. Of course, no one cared since it was a Mac product, even though having a digitizer pen is far more precise and faster than a finger. And a real OS with real MS Office (sorry guys as much as I like Open Source, iWork and OpenOffice don't hold a candle to the real deal) instead of a smartphone based toy.

How about a phone/tablet/laptop/gaming console/carputer hybrid? But seriously, I think the convergence devices are the way of the future. I have an original Motorola Atrix 4G phone with the laptop dock and TV dock and although it's a really flawed system (3rd party hacks really improved it) and I rarely use it (especially since it's not supported in CM9), it's wicked cool. The laptop dock is just a USB hub with a trackpad and keyboard plus a HDMI monitor/speaker set and a large battery, which charges the phone. Just slide the phone in and you have Ubuntu on a laptop or on your TV.

With quad core mobile CPUs coming out, dirt cheap flash, and advances in battery technology, I could see a phone with a sized reduced PCIe connector on it, which clicks into a tablet dock or a laptop dock (with additional GPU processing power and batteries). Could expand it to a Xbox dock with a big GPU and HDMI out or a car dock which makes integrates it into your infotainment system, with external GPS and cellular antennas. It could even function as the key to the car and adjust seats, mirrors, climate control to the individual driver (like my BMW keys do). Of course, someone will invent and market it and it will fail until Apple rebrands it and it takes off into the stratosphere.

Wow that's really off topic haha.

RE: He's right
By nafhan on 4/25/2012 3:30:19 PM , Rating: 4
3.1 lbs is way too heavy for a tablet.
Untrue. Specically, your statement is untrue because: it's physically possible to build a 3.1 lb tablet, and Lenovo, at least, thinks there's a market for a larger tablet.

Maybe you meant one of the following things, which are true:
"I am not be interested in a 3.1 lb tablet."
"I do not think 3.1 lb tablets will sell very well."
"3.1 lb is heavier than ideal given what I perceive as typical consumer tablet usage patterns."

...personally, I think there IS a market for tablets in this category, and it's not going to be people who want to lay in bed reading/FB'ing. I do not follow Apple's belief that there's a single (or even a small number of) ideal computing form factors.

RE: He's right
By Tunnah on 4/25/12, Rating: -1
RE: He's right
By nafhan on 4/25/2012 10:55:33 PM , Rating: 3
Would you prefer I said: "Your opinion is dumb and I disagree with it because it's dumb"? Instead, I was giving some reasons why I felt his opinion was wrong, and, yeah, I would agree that some of what I said may be a bit to semantics based.

Also, I'd say this is at least as relevant as sarcastically insulting someone whom you know nothing about...

RE: He's right
By adiposity on 4/27/2012 1:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
Untrue. Specically, your statement is untrue because: it's physically possible to build a 3.1 lb tablet, and Lenovo, at least, thinks there's a market for a larger tablet.

Perhaps he should have said, "3.1 lbs is way too heavy for a tablet, IN MY OPINION". But then, I think the tone of his post made it clear that it was his opinion.

In attempting to take his statement as literally as possible, you are responding to a statement he never made or intended--"it is impossible to make/sell a 3.1 lb tablet."

Technically, however, his statement was not false, just incomplete. He might have meant:

a. "3.1 lbs is way too heavy for a tablet for it to be successful."
b. "3.1 lbs is way too heavy for a tablet to satisfy me."
c. "3.1 lbs is way too heavy for a tablet for it to compete with iPads."

Who knows what he meant? But his statement is not "untrue" just because its meaning is incomplete. It really is fruitless to respond to expressed sentiment with rigid semantic analysis. You shouldn't have to preface all posts with "I think" or "IMO."

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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