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Google, HP shift mobile market for Apple (Apple Talk Weekly)

CNET's Josh Lowensohn recaps the big Apple news, which this week means the big Google-Motorola and HP-WebOS news. Also: A rundown of the latest rumors, and answers to your Apple-related questions.

Welcome to the third edition of Apple Talk Weekly, a roundup of some of the week's top Apple product news and legal happenings, along with answers to your questions.

While this week was a quiet one for Apple on the product front, it was a big one for some of Apple's main competitors, one of which invested, while another divested, in businesses that Apple is involved in. Both moves are going to have a long-term impact on the mobile device and PC landscapes.

The week started out with Google making a surprise announcement that it was purchasing Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The move gives Google a big chance to strengthen its legal ground with Android. That's important given the litigation Apple has going against companies like HTC and Samsung and their devices that run on Android.

Just days later, HP dropped the bombshell that it plans to spin off its PC business, as well as discontinue its efforts with WebOS, the operating system it bought as part of its acquisition of Palm. While WebOS was no Android in terms of market share, or momentum, it's one less competitor in the mobile device market--something that opens the market up to Apple and others.

Read on to get the full week's highlights, and the answer to a reader question on where those free app cards are at Starbucks.

Apple news of the week

Mac OS X 10.7.1 released
Apple gives Lion its first update with this release. You can read more details about it in our post, but the long and the short of it is that it fixes a handful of bugs. Mac users with a new model MacBook Air, and Mac Mini users, got a slightly larger version of the update, which fixed system-specific bugs.

iOS 5 beta 6 released to developers
Apple released another beta of its iOS 5 software to developers yesterday. This one was mostly a bug-fix update, but it also turns out it brings the phasing out of unique device identifiers (or UDID). That's basically the serial number that could be read by applications, and what was used by third-party analytics and advertising networks. TechCrunch spotted the note about it in Apple's NDA'd release notes.

You can now get Lion on a $69 USB stick. Note that this is the recovery stick Apple used to ship with the MacBook Air.
You can now get Lion on a $69 USB stick. Note that this is the recovery stick Apple used to ship with the MacBook Air. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Lion on a $69 USB drive goes on sale
For those without broadband, or without a thumb drive to make their own Lion recovery tool, Apple's now selling its own. The $69 stick, which is more than twice the price of buying a $29.99 copy of Lion from the Mac App Store, effectively takes the place of buying the software on an optical disc.

More renderings of Apple's new campus surface
Following the renderings of Apple's new headquarters released in June, the City of Cupertino released new renderings, including floor plans. Especially noteworthy is the subterranean theater, parking, and research and development lab. Oh yeah, and the whole thing is bigger than the Pentagon.

3G MacBook prototype pops up on eBay
OK, so this isn't an official Apple release, but over the weekend a MacBook Pro with a built-in SIM card slot and magnetic 3G antenna was briefly on eBay. The buyer posted pictures and a highly detailed description of the notebook, which was pulled down at Apple's request, right around when bidding was north of $70,000.

Apple's iAd chief to leave
Apple's vice president of mobile advertising for the iAd platform, who joined the company with its acquisition of Quattro Wireless, is leaving. The news comes at a time when Apple is said to be stretching out its iAd efforts by leasing additional space in New York.

Apple legal news of the week

HTC sues Apple, again
Taiwanese handset maker HTC filed another lawsuit against Apple this week, accusing it of infringing on two of its patents. The company is seeking to halt the importation of Apple products into the U.S., along with damages.

Apple's Samsung injunction partially suspended
That high-profile ban that kept Samsung from selling its Galaxy 10.1 tablet in Europe was temporarily lifted this week. With the exception of Germany, that means Samsung can once again sell its tablet in the region. Separately, a complaint filed by Apple in the Netherlands seeks to get an injunction against both Samsung's tablet and a number of its phones.

South Korean lawsuit aims at Apple over iOS privacy
A lawsuit seeking class action in South Korea is looking to get about $25.3 million dollars in damages from Apple. Some 27,000 members named as part of the class say Apple's location cache was a violation of their privacy. That works out to about $932 a person. A previous suit in the country managed to get $945 out of Apple over the same thing.

Apple once again said to be eyeing InterDigital patent portfolio
A report this week said InterDigital was pushing back plans to sell its patent portfolio so that buyers could take a closer look at its contents. One of those buyers was once again said to be Apple.

Apple suit targets counterfeit stores in New York
Apple sued two stores in Flushing, N.Y., for allegedly counterfeiting Apple goods, including cases for iOS gadgets, and the company's signature white headphones. The suit also seeks a name change for one of the stores, which is called "Apple Story."

Rumors of the week: iPhone in October (again), and LTE?

Building on rumors from earlier this month that theiPhone 5 is slated for an October release, 9to5Mac this week narrowed it down to an October 7 or October 14 launch, with an unveiling of the device at the very end of September. Additionally, a story by Boy Genius Report yesterday said an AT&T executive told employees things would be getting "really, really busy in the next 35 to 50 days, so prepare your teams accordingly." AT&T, of course, was the first carrier to offer the iPhone in the U.S., followed by Verizon earlier this year.

Besides the October rumor, one other iPhone-related tidbit came in the form of two separate reports about LTE, the next-generation wireless network that's faster than 3G. The first, from Boy Genius Report, claimed at least one carrier was testing an iPhone with support for LTE networks. Engaget then posted a shot (which was later pulled) of what it claimed was LTE equipment that had been hooked up inside a major Apple Store, despite the gadget maker not offering any LTE-equipped hardware.

Patent of the week: Augmented reality camera viewer

US Patent and Trademark Office

A patent application thatcropped up this week, entitled "augmented reality maps," details using the iPhone's camera and onboard sensors to pull up information about what's nearby. This is combined with a way to search, similar to what users can currently find in the maps app.

The mysterious free app card at Starbucks.
The mysterious free app card at Starbucks. CNET

The end result is a system that lets you point your phone around where you are to pull up landmarks and search results, then see where they are in relation to you, something Apple describes in its patent as a good system for helping tourists, or people who might be bad with directions.

Of course, this is just a patent application, and not a feature that's guaranteed to come to the iPhone anytime soon. But it very well could, which is what makes this one interesting. Also, I could be wrong on this, but I'm guessing this is the first time Apple has included depictions of Vespa scooters in one of its patent applications.

Reader question of the week

Robert W. asks about those free Starbucks iPhone app cards, one of which CNET got a hold of earlier this week:

"Starbucks apps not available in Clearwater, Fla.; they know nothing about it."

Well, Robert, turns out we got ours ahead of any official announcement or roll-out, which is why you didn't see any in your store. According to a commenter on Starbucks-focused blog Starbucks Gossip, the cards will be put out next Tuesday, and the app that will be offered following Shazam Encore is Firemint's yet-to-be released game Spy Mouse.

Got questions you want answered in next week's edition? Send them to me using the e-mail link below this post.