Sunday, 31 July 2011

All change!

It’s been a funny old week. IBM offering apps for mobile phones instead of sticking strictly to big iron, and Google buying a slew of IBM patents. When the British surrendered to the rebel American army at the end of the war of independence they played a tune called the world turned upside down. That’s what this week feels like.

It seems that Windows 7 smartphones aren’t really up there with the top three yet, because IBM has only made its app available to the app store for iTunes, Android, and the teenagers’ favourite, Blackberry. For IBM, the idea is to make their social networking platform, IBM Connections, available on smartphones – like Facebook and Twitter (and other social media). To be fair, you could access IBM Connections through a browser on these phones, but now there’s a proper app. Obviously there are different processes for making the app available for the different organizations, which will affect how quickly it will be before you can download the app on your device. The good news is that the app is free.

So what is IBM Connections? According to IBM’s Web site: “IBM Connections is social software for business that lets you access everyone in your professional network, including your colleagues, customers, and partners.

“The latest capabilities in IBM Connections, such as Moderation, Ideation Blogs, and the Media Gallery, enable you to embrace networks of people who are engaged and to work in transparent and nimble ways to create business value.”

It seems that the ideation and media gallery modules are natively available in the mobile apps. This allows users to vote on ideas, comment on ideas, and manage the ideas from their phones. In addition, users can take photos and upload them – so they can be shared immediately.

Built in to IBM Connections 3 are ‘moderation’, ideation blog’ and ‘media widget gallery’. Moderation allows users to review content in blogs, forums, and files before lications and approve, reject, or delete as appropriate. There’s a template available for each community to generate ideas, gather feedback, and come to consensus on the best ideas. This is the ideation blog. The media gallery widget is obviously somehwere to upload and share photos and videos.

Meanwhile, Google has confirmed that it bought 1,029 patents from IBM. These include SEO, servers, routers, relational databases, object-oriented programming, and fabrication and architecture of memory and microprocessing chips. It seems that no-one is revealing how much was paid.

Why would they buy so many patents? Perhaps to avoid litigation because they are using someone else’s idea. Or perhaps it’s to stop a rival company using someone else’s idea. It may be little more than synchonicity that Google has recently launched it’s Facebook-like Google plus. The more cynical among you may suggest they are looking for a way to stop Facebook doing something as yet undisclosed that will affect their business! Or it could be to do with the Android versus iPhone smartphone war. Or maybe its because Oracle is seeking billions of dollars in damages and royalties because of Google’s use of Java in Android phones. Or maybe, late in the day, Google has realized how important patents are in the modern business world.

Interestingly, Google was after 6,000 patents from Nortel Networks, but lost out to a consotium including Apple and Microsoft, who paid $4.5 billion for the patents. This could be the year of patent sales.

So there you have it. A week when the king of big iron turns up on the smallest of smart devices, and when Google gets itself a stash of patents. What will next week bring?

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