By The Associated Press - Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 0 Comments
MENLO PARK, Calif. – With its new “Home” on Android gadgets, Facebook is trying…
MENLO PARK, Calif. – With its new “Home” on Android gadgets, Facebook is trying to prove that a company doesn’t have to make a smartphone or operating system to define how people interact with mobile technology. The audacious move will provide further insights into how pervasive Facebook has become, testing whether people want to be greeted with content from the social network every time they look at their phones.
When people start downloading the Home software upon its April 12 release in the U.S., Facebook will become the new hub of their Android smartphones.
Switch on your phone and you’ll see friends’ photos, overlaid by status updates, links and eventually, advertisements in Facebook’s quest to bring in more revenue and restore its stock price to where it stood when the company went public nearly 11 months ago.
About 80 per cent of what currently appears within a Facebook user’s News Feed will automatically be transferred into the “cover feed” of the Home service. For instance, a sibling’s status update might be featured prominently on the phone’s home screen when it’s unlocked. Swipe a finger and there might be a photo posted by one of your best friends. Want to like what you see? Just tap on the home screen twice. Comments can be posted directly from the home screen, too.
If other friends happen to send you a message, their Facebook photo will pop up as a notification.
Other Facebook features, such as video, will be added to Home in future months. A Home version for Android-powered tablet computers also will be coming later this year.
Once they have had their fill of what Facebook is feeding them on the Home service, users can just swipe a finger on the screen to get to all the standard Android apps to listen to music, watch videos or send email.
At first, Home will only work on some Android devices, including HTC Corp.’s One X and One X Plus and Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 2. For now, Home isn’t compatible with the Nexus phone designed by Google, a fierce Facebook rival whose pliable Android software is being modified to accommodate the new service.
A phone from HTC that comes pre-loaded with Home will be available starting April 12, with AT&T Inc. as the carrier. The HTC First will sell for $99.99 with a two-year data plan from AT&T.
Home is debuting after several years of speculation that Facebook intended to make its own phone or mobile operating system to drive more traffic to its social network. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the speculation never made sense to him because he believes a company-produced phone might only end up in the hands of 10 million to 20 million people. The Home service gives Facebook a chance to take control of the main screen of every phone running on Android, the leading mobile operating system. In the U.S. alone, about 64 million people will be relying on Android-driven phones this year, estimated the research firm eMarketer.
“Just building a phone isn’t enough for Facebook,” Zuckerberg said Thursday during Home’s unveiling at the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters.
The idea behind the software is to bring Facebook content right to users’ home screens, rather than requiring them to check various apps to see what their friends are up to, or to chat. Down the line, Facebook will integrate its existing camera app and other features. Though cameras and calls won’t be built into the initial version of Home, Zuckerberg promised the software will be updated at least once a month to add more features and fix bugs.
“Home” comes amid rapid growth in the number of people who access Facebook from phones and tablet computers. Of the social network’s 1.06 billion monthly users, 680 million log in using a mobile gadget. As a result, the money Facebook makes from mobile advertising is also growing. Taking over the entire screen of smartphones and, eventually, tablet computers will provide Facebook for a larger canvas for selling mobile ads.
Zuckerberg, already a multibillionaire, didn’t dwell on Home’s moneymaking potential Thursday. Instead, he depicted the software as a noble attempt to put a higher priority on personal relationships than utilitarian apps.
“Why do we need to go into all the apps in the first place to see what is going on with the people we care about,” he asked.
“We think this is the best version of Facebook there is,” he said.
That statement implies that using Facebook on Apple’s iPhone and other smartphones may become a less enriching experience. Apple Inc., which rigidly controls how apps work on the operating system built for the iPhone and iPad, has ingrained more Facebook features into the most recent versions of its mobile software
Apple had no immediate comment about Home.
Zuckerberg said users can have an experience on Android phones unavailable on other platforms because Google makes the software available on an open-source basis. That allows phone manufacturers and software developers to adapt it to their needs.
Recognizing that text messaging is one of the most important tasks on a mobile phone, Facebook programmed Home to include a feature called “chat heads.” This lets users communicate with their friends directly from their home screens — without opening a separate app.
“What Facebook wants is to put itself at the front of the Android user experience for as many Facebook users as possible and make Facebook more elemental to their customers’ experience,” said Forrester analyst Charles Golvin.
While the Home service probably makes sense for Facebook, Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin thinks the company is overestimating “the extent to which this is something their users want.”
“I’m sure there are people out there whose lives revolve around their social network and for them it makes sense to have it front and centre,” Golvin said. “But this doesn’t describe the majority of consumers.”
Google Inc. is among the companies hoping that Golvin is correct. The Internet search leader gives away its Android software for free, in the hope that it will steer phone users to ads sold by Google. With Home, Facebook will be muscling its way in between Android users and Google, creating an opportunity for Facebook to seize the advertising advantage.
This is not the first time a big Internet company has co-opted Android: Amazon.com’s Kindle Fire tablets run a version of Android that strips out all Google services, replacing them with Amazon’s equivalents. Google responded by releasing its own tablet to compete against the Kindle Fire last year.
The mobile advertising market is growing quickly, thanks in large part to Facebook and Twitter, which also entered the space in 2012. EMarketer expects U.S. mobile ad spending to grow 77 per cent this year to $7.29 billion, from $4.11 billion last year.
Facebook, meanwhile, is expected to reel in $1.53 billion in worldwide mobile ad revenue this year according to eMarketer, up from $470.7 million last year.
Facebook’s stock rose 82 cents, or 3.1 per cent, to close Thursday at $27.07. That’s 29 per cent below its initial public offering price of $38. Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has surged by 20 per cent since Facebook’s rocky debut.
By Tamsin McMahon - Friday, February 1, 2013 at 1:13 PM - 0 Comments
RIMBlackBerry has launched its new smartphone, the BlackBerry 10, this week to largely positive reviews, the Internet is rife with lists promising consumers “Everything You Need to Know” about the new device.
Rather than add another review to the mix, we’ve put together our own top five list of “Top Five” lists about the new BlackBerry 10:
1. CNN offers its take on the five coolest features about the new BlackBerry 10.
2. Not one to get too caught up in the hype of the phone’s release, the Toronto Star offers five ways in which RIM screwed up in the past.
3. Android OS fan site Androidauthority.com found five things about the new BlackBerry 10 that should leave Android users quaking in their boots
4. Gizmodo offers five videos of stupid things people did to win a free BlackBerry 10 from fan site Crackberry.com (Hint: they involved bikinis, tattoos and paper cranes.)
5. Following on its hugely successful Nov. 27 post entitled “20 Things You Didn’t Know About Baby Carrots,” The Huffington Post honoured the BB10 launch with its top things you didn’t know about blackberries. (The fruit, not the company/phone.)
Apparently, blackberries are also known as thimbleberries and lawers. Also, if your blackberry plant turns orange, it’s dying of an incurable fungus and should go in the garbage. (No word on whether the same advice applies to BlackBerry 10.)
By Jesse Brown - Monday, October 22, 2012 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
I bring you big news on Apple tablets, a full day before the official announcement of the iPad Mini:
Yes, $250, the expected starting price of the new iPad Mini (or Air), is also the going Craigslist rate for used 1st generation iPads. It’s tomorrow’s price today, and as a bonus you’ll get a full-sized screen. If it’s scratched, you can probably haggle it down to $230. You’ll meet an interesting new person, and you won’t pay taxes.
Hate me yet?
Sorry everybody, but there’s no better time than right before a Cupertino product announcement to
troll Apple fansquestion society’s troubling devotion to the Apple cult. I’ve been called a partisan for suggesting Android tablets as an alternative to the pricey and constraining iPad, so let me clear the record by stating definitively that the iPad remains, by a small margin, the best tablet computer I’ve used. The problem is, none of the advancements since the first iPad have improved the experience much, while the sticker-price has yet to rationalize.
After a decade of technological innovation, Apple is now coasting on fumes, offering minor upgrades or pointless variations in increasingly transparent efforts to keep the product cycle spinning. Whereas once their products changed our lives, they are now marketed in Apple-speak as revolutionizing only themselves. iPhone 5, as the slogan goes, is ”the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.” Not since the Smurfs smurfed us very much has a product degenerated into such nauseating solipsism.
So: is the world clamouring for smaller tablet computers? Not really. But there exists a huge untapped market for cheaper tablets, which Apple doesn’t want to surrender to Android or anyone else. Without cannibalizing their own top-tier iPads, they are set to offer a down-market product in the form of the iPad Mini, which it seems Apple is slashing its profit margin on.
It’s an aggressive move to bring new markets (educational and developing nations included) into the Apple fold, where they will be constrained from buying music, apps, movies and books that are not sold by Apple.
As an independent critic who doesn’t get kickbacks (or even product loans, for God’s sakes) from any tech company, far be it for me to advertise for the competition by suggesting that an open alternative like Android might be the way to go.
Instead: if you want a cheaper iPad, by all means, buy an old iPad. It’s the best iPad to iPad iPad since iPad.
Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown
By Chris Sorensen - Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 5:15 AM - 0 Comments
Research In Motion is still near death, but has one last shot at redemption
It’s just before 10 a.m. and Andrew MacLeod, the Canadian managing director for Research In Motion Ltd., is sitting in a diner in downtown Toronto. For the first time in recent memory, he has some “good” news to talk about. A day earlier, the beleaguered BlackBerry-maker reported a quarterly loss of $235 million—less than many had feared. It also added about two million new subscribers, mostly in developing countries. RIM’s battered shares, which have traded as low as $6.22 in recent weeks, shot up 13 per cent.
While none of that means RIM is back from the brink—far from it, in fact—it does suggest the Waterloo, Ont.-based company may still be around in early 2013 to launch its long-overdue BlackBerry 10 smartphone, which seemed far from certain just a few weeks earlier. “We’re entering lab testing with our carrier partners next month,” says MacLeod. “Then we’ll be gearing up for a series of really big commercial platform launches. It’s a really exciting time for us.”
BlackBerry fans, a dwindling crowd, seem cautiously optimistic. Developers at a recent conference reacted positively to demo phones running BlackBerry 10, despite first being treated to a bizarre music video featuring Alec Saunders, RIM’s head of developer relations, singing a nerdy, BlackBerry-themed version of REO Speedwagon’s Keep on Loving You. Unlike Apple’s iPhone, or devices running Google’s Android software, BlackBerry 10 allows users to slide back-and-forth between applications (without the need for a “home” button) and check their inboxes by swiping away the screen they’re viewing. “It fundamentally changes the paradigm of how a smartphone should be used,” says independent tech analyst Carmi Levy. “The problem for RIM isn’t developing unique technology. It’s convincing people to at least give it a try.”
By Peter Nowak - Friday, September 28, 2012 at 9:27 AM - 0 Comments
In light of yesterday’s post about how the expensive iPhone may be counter-productive to societal goals, I thought it might be prudent to also touch on the other side as well.
When the first device powered by Google’s Android software was unveiled in 2008, it was intended to shake up how phones were made and sold and also how the mobile Internet would be used.
Four years later, Android is on the cusp of global domination and Google is well on its way to accomplishing those goals. While it’s customary to fear a rising power, this may just be a positive development for phone users, especially those in poorer countries.
“It’s about being better connected with the knowledge of the world and democratizing forces,” said John Lagerling, director of global partnerships for Android. “These are people who have never had a computer.”
Google’s foray into the phone game, however, isn’t exactly altruistic. In the early 2000s, the company realized that the computer-based Internet it dominated was quickly shifting onto mobile devices. Not wanting to cede its command of the online advertising market, it offered Android, an operating system on which Internet-enabled smartphones could run, to any device maker that wanted it.
While Android enabled web surfing, email and other Internet applications just like its competitors, it was radically different because it was free. Both Apple and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion keep their software to themselves, while Microsoft charges manufacturers to use a mobile version of Windows. Estimates have pegged its licensing fee at $23 to $30 per phone, which in the developing world is enough to make the devices unaffordable.
Manufacturers such as Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson have since run with Google’s free option. As a result, Android is the market leader in the United States and Europe. In developing regions such as Africa, Latin America, China and India, where Android phones can sell for $80 or less on contract, Google either claimed market leadership in 2011 or will in 2012, according to tracking firm Gartner.
The secret, Lagerling says, is that Android has made Internet-enabled phones much cheaper to produce. Not only is the software free, it also drives competition between device makers, which further brings down prices.
By Peter Nowak - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
There’s a war going on for control of the world, in a figurative sense. We’re not talking about nation versus nation or a clash of ideologies (okay, on that one, maybe we are). We’re talking about Google versus Apple. More specifically, the maps that each company serves up on their respective smartphones—the applications that literally guide us around the world in our daily lives.
As almost every iPhone 5 reviewer has noted, including yours truly, Apple’s new device—which goes on sale today—is amazing in almost every way, with maps being a notable exception. For reasons no one is sure of yet, Apple has ditched Google-supplied data and is instead building its app using information supplied by GPS maker TomTom and a few other sources.
So, if you buy an iPhone 5 or new iPod that runs the latest software, iOS 6, or if you download that iOS 6 onto an older iPhone, iPod or iPad, you’ll get the new maps app. If you refrain from updating to the new software, you’ll keep the older version. For how long is another unknown.
App developers have noted that the foundation of Apple’s new maps system is actually quite good, it’s just lacking in data. As I mentioned in my review, there are some glaring omissions. The maps of Toronto, for example, show streetcar stops, but some subway stations are missing. It’s also given me faulty directions and locations on several occasions. And we all know that going to the wrong place because your GPS told you to go there is just about the worst thing ever.
By Peter Nowak - Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
The other day, a friend asked me whether he should buy the new iPhone 5. By virtue of writing about technology and gadgets for a living, it’s a question I get all the time – not necessarily about the new iPhone, but friends generally wanting advice on what smartphone they should get.
There’s never a simple answer, since every person’s needs are different. And it’s not just the device itself that matters, the carriers that offer them also factor into such a decision. My response is therefore always a flurry of questions in return: do you like physical keyboards, what kind of computer do you use, do you want to surf the web a lot, how much do you want to spend, do you travel a lot? Oh, and what are your politics? More on that last one in a second.
From there, we winnow down the options. If the buyer is on a budget, we’ll generally talk Android phones. If they don’t leave their home city much, we’ll discuss discount carriers such as Wind and Mobilicity. If a keyboard is a must, then it’s on to BlackBerry.
By Peter Nowak - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 1:57 PM - 0 Comments
There was a ton of commentary over the weekend on what happens after Apple’s $1 billion win over Samsung, with the likeliest scenario being that the latter appeals. But should the verdict stand, the biggest effect will be on Android phones overall. Apple’s victory could send a temporary chill through the market, with all manufacturers – not just Samsung – giving second thoughts to their Android devices. After all, no one is going to risk releasing a device that has a good chance of getting them sued. Google may have to work some fundamental redesigns into its operating system to avoid this sort of thing happening again, while manufacturers themselves will have to make sure their actual designs are clearly distinct from Apple products.
The more likely scenario is that Android phone makers will have to pay Apple a license fee on the patents. Earlier this year, the company reportedly offered these manufacturers a deal that would have seen them paybetween $5 and $15 on each device. Given the big court win, such a fee could be expected to come in on the high end now. Some critics have said this is going to result in more expensive phones. While that’s true, adding $15 or so to the cost is not going to break anybody’s bank.
Of course, that’s assuming Apple is actually willing to license its technology. If Steve Jobs, who told his biographer in no uncertain terms that he wanted to destroy Android, were still alive, it would be a safe bet that no licensing deals would be offered. This is a company that has resisted licensing its Macintosh operating system for much of its existence, after all. If Jobs’ successors take the same approach, it could indeed be back to the drawing board for Google and its Android partners.
By Jesse Brown - Monday, August 27, 2012 at 1:27 PM - 0 Comments
It took jurors three days to decide what an eight year old could have told you in seconds: Samsung copied Apple. Look at an iPhone, then look at a Galaxy. It’s obvious. But so what?
Though Apple was quick to describe the decision as a victory for its core values of “originality” and “innovation,” let’s remember some of the real values Apple is built upon. Steve Jobs, who once quoted (stole?) Picasso’s line about great artists stealing, was himself a wonderfully original thief. All of Apple’s innovations are slick remixes of pre-existing ideas, from the graphic user interface Jobs lifted from Xerox (which Bill Gates later copied from him) to the iPod, which Apple has acknowledged was basically invented by this British guy in 1979. Technology, like all of human culture, progresses bit by bit as we build on each other’s work. Patents are a regulatory system imposed on technology, intended to make sure that inventors get paid for inventing. But they didn’t work out for the British dude who invented the digital audio player, and they aren’t working now.
By Chris Sorensen - Friday, August 17, 2012 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
The leading players in the global smartphone market have very different ideas about what the future should look like
Siri, the iPhone’s voice-activated “virtual assistant,” kicked off this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June by cracking jokes about San Francisco’s weather, Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists and other subjects only software engineers could find funny (“How many developers does it take change a light bulb? None, that’s a hardware problem”). But it wasn’t long before Siri launched a few verbal jabs at Google, as well as the Asian manufacturing giants that now churn out millions of iPhone-esque devices to run on its Android mobile software. “I’m excited about the new Samsung,” Siri deadpanned in her digital twang. “Not the phone—the refrigerator. Hubba, hubba.”
Siri’s gentle ribbing masked a deeper fallout between Apple and Google, once strategic partners. Before he died, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer that Android was “grand theft” of the iPhone concept. “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,” he said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
Many assumed Jobs was referring to the avalanche of patent infringement lawsuits Apple has launched against Samsung, HTC and others. But in recent months it’s become clear he had other plans too. At the same June developer’s conference, Apple unveiled a new mapping application that will replace Google Maps on the iPhone and iPad. Then, earlier this month, Apple revealed that iPhones and iPads would no longer ship with Google’s popular YouTube app pre-installed. Even Siri, though still a beta project, is considered by some to be an eventual replacement for Google’s ubiquitous search engine on future Apple machines. “Apple wants to cut the cord—any ties it has to Google,” says Kevin Restivo, a senior analyst with research firm IDC. “It’s a classic turf grab. The more control you have over the smartphone operating system and the user experience, the more lucrative it is.”
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 10:51 AM - 0 Comments
A Kickstarter bonanza suggests the smartwatch is an idea whose time has come
Once upon a time, you carried your watch in your pocket. Then it migrated to your wrist. Now the same thing may be about to happen to the smartphone. In April, Vancouver native Eric Migicovsky used the crowd-funding site Kickstarter to request start-up money for the Pebble, a wristwatch that will connect to an iPhone or Android and display emails, messages, and apps. The Pebble instantly became a fundraising phenomenon, racking up more than $7 million in contributions, a Kickstarter record.
When it’s ready to ship, the Pebble won’t be the first smartwatch. It won’t even be Migicovsky’s first, since his California-based company, Allerta, already marketed the Inpulse, a watch that told you when your BlackBerry had a message. But according to Wired magazine, smartwatches “haven’t really caught on with mainstream buyers,” so no major investors wanted to put money in the Pebble. Migicovsky, who studied at the University of Waterloo before moving to the States, told the blog Reyhani Law that he went to Kickstarter only because he “tried the traditional route and it didn’t work.” The Kickstarter bonanza was the ﬁrst sign that the smartwatch is going mainstream.
What can a smartwatch do for you that a regular phone can’t? Well, for one thing, it spares you the need to reach into your pocket. Migicovsky said he came up with the idea for the Pebble “when I was cycling and I wanted to not drop my phone while riding.” The apps being developed for the watch are aimed at people who can’t hold a phone in their hands: there’s a GPS app for bike riders and a system for golfers to find their way around the course.
By Peter Nowak - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 5:58 PM - 5 Comments
As many had speculated, Motorola has indeed dusted off the old Razr name for its new smartphone, unveiled here in New York Tuesday. In the U.S., where the handset maker has licensing rights with the Star Wars folks, the phone actually combines two of Motorola’s most successful brands—it’s called the Droid Razr. For the rest of the world, including Canada, it’s just the Razr.
If you’re into specification porn, Mobile Syrup has you covered. For our purposes here, suffice it to say that the phone is ridiculously light and thin, yet still sturdy, fast and powerful. I played with one briefly and was amazed at how light it felt in my hand. It’s got a steel core and Kevlar on the outside though, so it’s made not to break. Sadly, as a Motorola representative told me, it’s not strong enough to stop bullets (vests apparently have many layers of Kevlar while the phone only has one).
What I found most interesting during Motorola chief executive Sanjay Jha’s presentation was the mention of how the Razr will be aimed at corporate customers as well as the every-day consumer. The device can accommodate secure enterprise email systems and has remote wipe capabilities, which means it’ll probably pass muster with many businesses’ IT departments. Continue…
By Kate Lunau - Friday, August 26, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
A new app is saving people thousands of minutes spent on hold
Everybody knows what it’s like to dial a company’s customer service line and get stuck on hold, waiting for a human representative to come on while tinny music plays through the phone. For those who can’t face another interminable wait, there’s some good news: an app can now do the waiting for you.
FastCustomer (available for iPhones and Android phones) offers a list of over 2,500 companies, including customer service lines for Amazon, WestJet, and Canada Post. Those who’ve downloaded the app select which company they’d like to contact; FastCustomer then puts in an automated call, contacting the user when a real-life representative becomes available. This app, which claims it’s already saved people from spending over 280,000 minutes on hold, “keeps me from being subjected to creative versions of Lady Gaga songs in muzak format,” one enthusiastic user wrote on the FastCustomer blog. For some, that’s priceless, even if the app is now available for free.
By Cigdem Iltan - Friday, August 5, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
A competitive smartphone market is resulting in a lot of lawsuits
Smartphone makers have been duking it out in the courts more than they have on store shelves in the past few weeks, and analysts say sales numbers may explain why. Devices that run Google’s Android platform now outshine Apple’s iPhone: first-quarter market-share estimates this year show Samsung has hurdled to 13 per cent from three per cent last year, while HTC jumped to 10 per cent from six. Some analysts believe the results have prompted Apple to lash out with a series of patent infringement lawsuits aimed at HTC, Samsung and Motorola, the world’s top three Android handset manufacturers.
Apple’s market share rose slightly too, but the tech giant’s third-quarter financial results show that nearly half of its revenue comes from the iPhone. Google chair Eric Schmidt last week came out swinging against Apple, accusing its execs of trying to tangle their competitors in a legal web. “They are not responding with innovation, they’re responding with lawsuits,” he said. “We have not done anything wrong.” But it is in Apple’s nature to be a tough litigator, technology analyst Carmi Levy says. “It would be naive of us to think Apple is running scared and is using courts to protect itself,” he says. During an earnings call last month, Apple COO Tim Cook said: “We have a very simple view here. And that view is that we love competition. But we want people to invent their own stuff. And we’re going to make sure that we defend our portfolio fervently.”
While companies that are assertive in the courts run the risk of diverting attention from the marketing of their wares, the manufacturers involved in the ongoing smartphone patent wars are sophisticated enough to focus on both areas, says Levy. Whether court battles impact innovation may be up for debate, but the power of litigation clearly isn’t: after a U.S. International Trade Commission judge recently ruled that Taiwan’s HTC had infringed on two Apple patents, China’s 21st Century Business Herald reported that two Chinese smartphone makers are considering jumping ship from Android to Microsoft’s Mango Windows Phone 7 operating system, raising the question of whether other companies may eventually follow suit.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, July 29, 2011 at 3:22 PM - 79 Comments
First, my job is to talk about what’s going on in the world right now, not to foretell the future. It’s weird how often tech journalists are looked to for their soothsaying powers (it’s also weird how often they’ll play along). We don’t ask, say, business reporters for their stock picks, but somehow anyone who reviews a gadget is deemed capable of prophesying the fate of massive companies and their products.
Second, guessing at the future of technology is a mug’s game. You will almost certainly be wrong, and therefore you are almost certainly making an ass out of future you. I like future me. I like his hovercraft pants and his metallic beard, and I refuse to embarrass him from this meager past.
That said, I will now break my rule and make a technology prediction. Even worse, I will make a tech prediction that was made by someone else, two days ago.
There will eventually be more Android tablets in use than iPads.
This of course was stated as fact, not prophecy, by a research firm called Informa. Informa should change their name to Obviousa, because theirs is the safest prediction I’ve heard in a while.
The phenomenal growth of Android smartphones illustrates the new normal when it comes to mobile devices: there’s Apple and there’s everything else, and everything else will run Android. Hardware companies have finally got the message that they are hardware companies—consumers don’t want their crappy, proprietary, incompatible software. Android is free, open and good, and as more and more of the unApple world adopts it, it will soon boast more apps than Apple.
But I bet you’d still take an iPad. Fair enough, but consider this: iPads remain expensive toys for grownups in countries like Canada. Teens and kids here would sooner spend that cash on an Xbox, and folks from poorer nations just want stuff that works. Any Android slab—even a lousy one—works. As long as it’s a glowing touchable rectangle running Android, you’ve got the basic functionality of an iPad. Reviewers like to pick at the details—maybe it’s a bit heavier, not as bright, less responsive, whatever. To 91% of the world’s population it’s 91% of the way there, and if it sells for 19% of the price, then that will be the determining factor.
In a sense, Apple has screwed itself by making the iPad so elegant and simple. How can they continue to differentiate it? Change the colour, make it thinner, slap a camera on each side—and then what? Additions will only subtract.
The tablet is a great invention, but it will ultimately be rendered generic. The race is now on price, and Android will win it.
So it is written, so it shall be.
By macleans.ca - Friday, July 15, 2011 at 12:36 PM - 0 Comments
Chart of the week
In the fight for smartphone supremacy, Google’s Android operating system continues to widen its lead over Apple and BlackBerry
By Jesse Brown - Monday, March 14, 2011 at 2:34 PM - 21 Comments
Idiots worldwide rejoiced when news came that the iBoobs app, censored by Apple, had found a home in the Android Marketplace.
For those tragically unfamiliar with iBoobs—how can I describe it? It’s boobs. They jiggle. A settings screen lets you adjust things like “boob weight,” “stifness,” and “gravity factor.” If any of this turns you on, I’d like to introduce you to a killer app called porn.
iBoobs is a Freemium product. If you upgrade from the free ”iBoobs light” app to the $2.10 paid app, you can toss the boobs around with the tip of your finger. Or at least, you could last week. It seems that Google has since followed Apple’s lead (at least partially) and banned the paid version of the app.
What could possibly have been the problem?
The boobs themselves are still available. Google is not anti-boob, per se. No statement has been issued, and so we must speculate: it seems Google’s official policy on boobs is that it’s okay to shake them around really hard, so long as you don’t poke, smoosh, flick or pull them.
Google is such a tease.
Perhaps it wasn’t the touching—maybe Google objected to iBoob’s extras—shake them boobs just right, and you get a peek of nipple.
This feature alone places iBoobs outside of the Android Marketplace’s prohibition on nudity and sexually explicit material. This, you may remember, was not always the case. The Android Marketplace was initially open to all apps—that was its defining attribute. But after Android surged in popularity (and after Steve Jobs sneered puritanically in Google’s direction) the porn was cut. Google retreated to a middling position on sex apps designed to keep them just a bit more risque then Apple; hardcore was out, nudity too, but sexy apps could stay if they identified themselves as not for kids. As Google puts it: “Apps that focus on suggestive or sexual references must be rated ‘High maturity’.”
High maturity. iBoobs certainly doesn’t qualify for that.
The fact is, Google is supposed to be busy organizing the world’s information, not jiggling CGI jugs around to determine where they stand on their arbitrary porno-scale. If Android is open, then let it be open. Open doesn’t mean “less closed than Apple,” it means open. Open to any dumb app that any dumb person wants to make or to use.
Kinda like the Internet.
By Chris Sorensen - Monday, March 7, 2011 at 6:13 PM - 11 Comments
BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. has finally lost its crown as the biggest smartphone platform in the United States, according to new data by research firm ComScore. The research shows that phones running Google’s Android software now command just over 31 per cent of the U.S. smartphone market, up from about 24 per cent last October. RIM, by contrast, has dropped to a 30 per cent share from nearly 36 per cent over the same period. Apple, meanwhile, is holding steady around 25 per cent.
In some ways, a changing of the guard was inevitable. Unlike RIM (and even Apple for that matter), Google’s strategy has been to make its OS available on multiple phones, made by multiple manufacturers, sold at a range of prices. But the meteoric rise of Android in just a few years still appears to have taken many in the industry by surprise. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told employees last month in a now infamous memo that the Finnish cellphone giant essentially got caught flat-footed by the competition, citing Android in particular. Elop compared the Finnish cellphone giant’s predicament to a man standing on a burning oil platform in the icy North Sea with two options before him: either stand there and burn to death, or jump. Nokia jumped. A few days later Nokia announced that it was partnering with Microsoft and will use Windows-based software on future devices.
As for RIM, the Waterloo, Ont.-based company still owns the enterprise market, but most of the growth these days is happening in the consumer space. And RIM still seems to be playing catch-up when it comes to slick multimedia devices. It still doesn’t have a worthy iPhone competitor (although its touchscreens have gotten progressively better) and Apple has already come out with the second iteration of its iPad, while RIM’s PlayBook tablet has yet to make it to store shelves. Equally as troubling, at least for investors, is the recent departure of chief marketing officer Keith Pardy, a former Nokia and Coca-Cola executive, for “personal reasons.” Not only is it bad timing, right before a major product launch, but it suggests RIM’s effort to make its brand as loved as Apple’s has foundered. “Mr. Pardy was likely brought on to help with this image transformation given his prior experience at Nokia and Coca-Cola and his departure may signal a lack of success in this endeavour,” wrote Amitabh Passi, an analyst at UBS in a research note.
On the other hand, investors should take comfort in the fact that RIM isn’t afraid to make changes when the market demands it, or when something isn’t working. Because, as Nokia learned the hard way, the last thing you want to do when you’re falling behind in the fast-moving tech business, is nothing at all.
By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 10:12 AM - 0 Comments
In an ad for a new gaming phone, the Android robot mascot is given thumbs
The iPhone’s success hasn’t just rattled rival cellphone companies—it’s also sounded alarms among video game console makers, who fear cute, addictive mini-games like Angry Birds (the most downloaded application from Apple Inc.’s App Store) are rapidly positioning the iPhone as a gaming platform. Now Sony, which makes the PlayStation console, is fighting back with a new Xperia Play phone, which features a slide-out controller and is “PlayStation-certified.” The device is made by Sony Ericsson (partner in the joint venture) and runs Google’s popular Android operating system. A recent Super Bowl ad left little doubt that Sony is indeed targeting gamers, not your average smartphone user. The spot shows a couple of thugs, inside a dirty warehouse, stitching a pair of human thumbs on the green, cylindrical arms of the Android robot mascot—not unlike something you might run into while playing Resident Evil.
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
All-in-one: The new Torch combines an iPhone-like touch screen with a physical keyboard
Research In Motion remains North America’s smartphone leader, even if it’s now widely perceived to be a runner-up behind Apple and its iPhone when it comes to innovation.