Honestly, gadget marketing doesn't get much better than this. Brilliant isn't strong enough to describe how fabulous and memorable is the new spot for Nokia Lumia 920. I showed the commercial to my wife, twice, and she laughed to tears both times -- and giggled for half an hour later.
If you watch nothing else today, make this video the one and only. I'm a sucker for good marketing, and this commercial works well on so many levels -- wedding setting, fanboyism and brilliant physical comedy -- I dare not dissect them and ruin the fun.
During the 1980s and 90s, Microsoft embarked on what the U.S. Justice Department refers to as an "embrace, extend and extinguish" strategy. Google revises the approach for the new century, but out of necessity. Many of its products or services entered categories where others dominated, such as email, operating systems, productivity suites and web browsers. The company's business is long about co-opting other platforms, everything from desktop search app for Windows to Google Frame for Internet Explorer, and more.
But there's nothing quite like Google's recent invasion of iOS, where many of the apps are even better than Apple's. Today, a new search app brings one of Android's best features, Google Now, to iPad and iPhone. There's irony here, too. On Android, the feature is only available on Jelly Bean, which makes up about 25 percent of the install base. The majority of Apple mobile device users are on iOS 6, and the app supports version 5, too. In short order then, depending on installations, a greater percentage of iPads and iPhones than Androids may have Google Now.
Gadget geeks love their toys, the more sci-fi the better. Several manufacturers offer wireless charging solutions, Google and LG among them -- for Nexus 4. The idea is simple: Rather than plug in the device, you rest it on something else connected to electricity. My question: If the phone lays down to charge anyway, why not just plug in and save, in this instance, $59.99 before tax and shipping?
I paid Google Play just that in a moment of weakness, and later regret. Don't bother, and that's really good advice. The Nexus 4 Wireless Charger is more than a wasteful, redundant accessory. The design is fundamentally flawed, where form goes before function to ruin. If you read no further, take away this: Save your money for something else.
A decade ago yesterday, Apple launched the iTunes Music Store and changed how we buy music. For those of you too young to remember or so old to have forgotten, Microsoft and Apple engaged in an epic struggle to dominate the fledgling legal digital music market -- all while trading in ripped files soared, despite Napster's closure. You remember it, right?
I was all too glad to pay for music, if only given the opportunity, as clearly were others. iTunes Music Store launched with 200,000 tracks -- a gigantic number at the time -- from five labels: BMG, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal and Warner. Singles priced at 99 cents, albums at $9.99, hit the sweet spot for what consumers would pay, while undercutting physical media prices. Of course, the real competition was free, pirated stuff.
Accessories can make a portable device better. If you own the ASUS-manufactured, Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet, surely there is a case protecting it; sometimes, anyway. Some can prop the tablet, but there's another option. Can a dock improve the user experience and even extend the utility? That's what this quickie review seeks to answer.
The Nexus 7 dock is the official issue, made by ASUS, and sold from Google Play for $29.99. I ordered mine in late January, for $39.99, from B&H Photo, back when only third parties carried the accessory. Since then, the retailer dropped the price by five bucks. B&H took my order when the dock was out of stock, but shipped 8 days later. If you want this thing, don't be deterred by availability elsewhere but forget Google Play, which isn't taking orders as I write. Expect to spend more elsewhere. By the way, I would have waited and paid less, had I known better.
The question is long overdue, particularly since I asked about Samsung Galaxy S4, the other major 1080p smartphone freshly released. After some delays, the One can now be purchased -- well, if you can find the thing -- and HTC is advertising rather aggressively. I've seen commercials in prime time, sometimes two in a row, throughout the week.
This afternoon, I hauled off to one of the two San Diego T-Mobile stores selling HTC One. Both are stocked out, but there was a live phone I could play around with. I toyed with ordering the smartphone from T-Mobile online late last night. Opportunity lost. The One is "out of stock" today. AT&T and Sprint also sell the One. Supplies are limited.
You will reads lots of dribble today about Samsung first quarter phone gains compared to Apple. Most will ignore something fundamental to the numbers: What they represent. IDC and Strategy Analytics separately put out data, for shipments, which mean handsets going to carriers, dealers and other sellers. That's very different from sales to businesses and consumers, Gartner's measure and the more accurate one (that data isn't ready yet).
For few quarters is the difference between shipments and sales likely to be so pronounced, actually even more so in Q2. Apple comes off its second full quarter of iPhone 5 sales and global distribution, and so shipments into the channel, nearly complete. Meanwhile, Samsung ramps up for Galaxy S4's launch, while achieving full global availability for the S III. Second quarter is the more likely bloodbath for Apple, but actual sales will foreshadow much. Still, shipments hint something now, and iPhone faces serious challenges.
In February, I predicted that smartphone sales would surpass feature phones within a couple quarters. Looks like I am likely wrong, as shipments already have, according to IDC. Last month the analyst firm predicted such circumstance this year, which by Q1 is sooner than anyone anticipated.
Meanwhile, something more shocking occurred turn first quarter -- my, God, when will the milestones stop? Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE pushed BlackBerry and Nokia out of the top five. Right Nokia -- the company that invented the smartphone and had, until last year, a 14 year-run as global handset leader. The worldwide phone market undergoes dramatic changes, and they're far from over.
The E3 game expo is just six weeks away and where Nintendo should have big visibility. Instead, today, the company president shares plans about greatly scaled-back presence, less than 24 hours after IDC warned that paying smartphone and tablet gamers will exceed their handheld counterparts this year.
For Microsoft and Sony, which have new consoles coming this year, E3 2013 will be big happenings. But not Nintendo. "We decided not to host a large-scale presentation targeted at everyone in the international audience where we announce new information as we did in the past", president Satoru Iwata says. "Instead, at the E3 show this year, we are planning to host a few smaller events that are specifically focused on our software lineup for the U.S. market".
Well, I didn't receive an invite, but based on the many reports from people who did, Nokia will host a new Lumia-outing event May 14 in London. Oh my, that's the day before Google I/O, where rumored new Nexus smartphone(s) arrive (don't believe everything you read on the Internet).
Nokia unveiled flagship phone Lumia 920 in September, and May would be pretty good time to announce a followup. Assuming the typical manufacturing and various country certification (think Federal Communications Commission) delays, a new splashy Lumia would get some breathing room post-launches for HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, while getting ahead of the next iPhone. During this week's earnings conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said not to expect any new products until autumn.
So, is Yahoo trying to become a media company again? It's question to ask as former Googler and current CEO Marissa Mayer snags an exclusive distribution deal for Saturday Night Live. Late last night, Mayer announced the agreement, with Broadway Video, which starts September 1.
"The partnership gives Yahoo users exclusive access to the entire 38-year archive of SNL content as well as clips from the current season", Mayer says. However, current season, which will be 2013-14 when the deal begins, will be "non-exclusive".
HTC One gets no respect, and that's not right. We've written stories up the river and down to the sea about Samsung Galaxy S4, and little about its rival. My colleague Mihaita Bamburic posts about the smartphone's arrival on T-Mobile USA next week, for example. But HTC One is available there today. We shouldn't mention the one and ignore the other.
HTC One is available in Glacial Silver color for $99.99 upfront, plus 24 $20 monthly payments, or $579.99 outright. For a limited time, buyers get a free car dock with their purchase. AT&T's upfront price is $199.99, or $599.99 outright. Sprint charges the same upfront, or $99.99 for those bringing a number from another carrier. Otherwise: $549.99.
During the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Microsoft set up a countdown clock to the E3 game show in Los Angeles. Major Nelson (aka Larry Hryb) posted the timer, and, being Mr. Xbox, led to lots of speculation that's when the next-gen console would be announced. Apparently not.
Today, the software giant invites you, me and everyone else to a special shindig on May 21. Select press get invites (I'm not among them) for onsite, while the rest of us can watch online or, in the United States, Spike TV. "On that day, we’ll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future", Hryb says.
Back in December, I explained: "Surface RT sales are quite good, you just don't know about it". The Internet Idiocracy called the tablet a failure, while based on sales per store I saw success. Surface Pro shipped the following month. Now there are real numbers, and they're quite good -- for all Windows tablets -- validating touch-focused Modern UI.
During first quarter, Windows captured 7.5 percent global branded tablet market share, according to Strategy Analytics. That's up from zero a year earlier. Unit shipments: 3 million. Right now, Microsoft is the major seller of branded Windows tablets. Granted there are others, like Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Samsung.
Today's closing bell brings answer to a question oft-asked over the past two weeks: "Will Apple profits fall for the first time in about a decade?" Not since 2003, when the fruit-logo company recovered from economic woes that sapped global PC shipments everywhere, has profit receded. Now we know.
For fiscal Q2, Apple reported $43.6 billion revenue and net profits of $9.5 billion, or $10.06 a share. Gross margin: 37.5 percent. A year earlier, the company reported revenue of $39.2 billion and $11.6 billion net quarterly profit, or $12.30 per share.