One year ago, March 6, 2012, Google renamed Android Market, and nothing is the same sense. The rebranded Google Play pushed forward a transition started in November 2011, with the broad expansion of content beyond apps. The name change also represented something bigger, shift in emphasis away from broader Android to the search giant's siloed services and brands. Google sought to imitate Apple while tackling wild Amazon.
On Play's first birthday, Google Android -- not the skinned software Amazon, HTC, LG, Samsung and others ship -- is a 98-pound weakling gone super steroids. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company sells apps, ebooks, gift cards, magazines, music, movies, TV shows and devices through the online store. There were no devices available a year ago, but now accessories, Chromebooks, smartphones and tablets. Three different computers are available, including the new and Google-branded Chromebook Pixel. Also: Two different Nexus 4 smartphones and Nexus 10 tablets and three Nexus 7 slates -- four if counting 32GB HSPA+ models twice, with different cellular SIMs.
The concept of Canonical taking a stab at the mobile market eludes me. Unless we want to split hairs, which I know will happen, Android already is the Linux ambassador across the globe, so why would the world need Ubuntu Touch? Furthermore, any new player starts out with a clean slate, which means many consumers will be skeptical at purchasing devices running the new operating system and therefore developer interest does not surpass a low threshold.
The PC market is not what it used to be a couple of years ago when people rushed out to buy new computers, rather than tablets or smartphones first. In some ways Canonical right now is Microsoft before Windows Phone and Windows 8 -- an important player further heading into obscurity down the road unless the boat steers in the right direction. Ubuntu Touch is supposed to give the world a breath of fresh air, the X factor that would sway enough people into switching from Android, iOS, Windows Phone or a feature phone, even.
Valentine's Day is all about romance, but whom -- or what -- do you really love? The stereotypical geek fawns over his or her gadgets and spends hours on PC (smartphone or tablet) instead of being with family or friends. Surely that describes you, and me, for that matter.
On this day of Cupid's arrows, I confess where they struck gadgets and other goodies and bound us in everlasting love. Take my wife, please, but leave my tech toys. She'll understand -- ah, right?
Google Nexus owners, unlock your devices and start checking for updates because Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is now rolling out. The latest software version is reportedly hitting Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 devices, with no word at the moment relating to the Nexus 4.
The Android 4.2.2 update bumps up the build number to version JDQ39 and mostly appears to contain minor fixes. No official changelog has been provided by Google at this moment, but users are reporting improvements for Bluetooth streaming which now presents "less hicups [...] but still not perfect" with apparent disconnects when switching from Wi-Fi to cellular data.
Investors rewarded Google today, pushing shares up close to 6.5 percent soon after the opening bell and staying in that range. At 12:09 PM EST, the stock traded at $748.23, up 6.45 percent. Google opened at $735.83, up from yesterday's $702.87 close.
After the closing bell, on January 22, Google delivered fourth quarter and 2012 results that clearly satisfy someone. For the year, Google revenue reached $50.18 billion, up 32 percent from $37.9 billion in 2011. Motorola contributed $4.14 billion. Net income: $10.74 billion or $32.81 earnings per share. Average analyst consensus was $41.41 billion revenue and $39.73 earnings per share. Oh, the wiles of investors. Yearly EPS missed the Street, as it did for the quarter.
Today, I formally begin covering Google earnings, as I have done for Microsoft (a decade) and Apple (about six years). This first report won't be as thorough as the others, as I get my head around the financials, which share little in common with APPL and MSFT other than money. Today's earnings announcement is refreshing respite from third quarter's, when an incomplete press release pushed out early and while the market was open.
For calendar fourth quarter, revenue rose 36 percent to $14.42 billion, year over year; net revenue, excluding Traffic Acquisition Costs, was $9.83 billion, up from $8.13 billion. Net income climbed to $2.89 billion up from $2.71 billion. That's $8.62 earnings per share, including costs associated with discontinued operations. Operating income was $3.39 billion, down from $3.51 billion year over year.
Keeping up with recent CyanogenMod tradition, the team behind the popular green droid custom distribution unveiled the first monthly release based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The build is designed to offer users a stable experience, more suitable for daily use compared to the usual nightly builds.
CyanogenMod 10.1 M1 is currently available only for a limited number of devices, including the Google Nexus lineup (Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7 including the 3G variant, Nexus 4 and Nexus 10), the US variants of the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Samsung Galaxy S (codename "galaxysmtd" and "galaxysbmtd"), the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (versions P3100 and P3110), the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (versions P5100 and P5110) as well as the Hardkernel ODROID U2 open development platform.
What interesting timing. Earlier today, I wrote about my very good experience exchanging a defective Nexus 7 HSPA+ at Google Play. My unit came with an AT&T SIM, but I pointed out the device also supports T-Mobile's data network. Either I missed, or Google Play added later today, an option to get a T-Mo SIM, too. Price is same for both: $299 plus tax (if applicable) and shipping.
Nexus 7 by far is my favorite tablet, by just about every measure: Performance, comfort in the hand, portability and all-around usefulness for consuming content and communicating (my preferred device for email social networking).
I often hear "Apple Store" stated as reason someone chooses iPad over another tablet. The Genius Bar is there for troubleshooting and even replacing defective products. Where do you take Android? It's a valid question, and I can personally attest to amazing Apple customer service. In 2008 and 2011, I had two different MacBook Airs fail. As in dead. I walked out of the local shop with brand new computer each time. That's hella good, eh?
That said, over the last decade, I've only ever exchanged Apple products -- no failures from any other manufacturer (there was fast battery discharge from a Samsung phone, but we kept it). Well, until last week. My 32GB Google Nexus 7 HSPA+ stopped working. No amount of troubleshooting or fancy pressed-key combinations could rivive it. I prepared for the worst, expecting that Google, operating on the Internet, could never give good retail customer service. Was I ever wrong. Apple couldn't have done better.
There is no shortage of new tablets being announced at this week's Consumer Electronics Show -- Acer Iconia B1-A71, Polaroid M7 and M10 and VIZIO 11.6" Tablet PC, among many others. Meanwhile, NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that global tablet shipments will surpass notebooks this year. But what's interesting is a dramatic shift in size preference, which is why I want to know: Which is right for you?
DisplaySearch predicts that tablets with 7-to-8 inch screens will overwhelmingly dominate the market, with 45 percent share. Meanwhile, 9.7 inches -- the size Apple popularized with iPad -- will fall to just 17 percent share. Yet many of the slates debuting at CES are in the larger categories, typically between 10.1 and 11.6 inches. Does size really matter that much, and is smaller better?
Little more than three months since the last build, breaking away from the previous Sunday release schedule, the team behind Android Open Kang Project (AOKP) unveiled Jelly Bean MR1 Build 1. The latest build represents the first official release based on Android 4.2, sporting most of the custom distribution's traditional features.
The work on Android 4.2-based builds started from scratch after Google released the latest green droid operating system, a "tough decision" according to the team behind AOKP. At the moment, Jelly Bean MR1 Build 1 delivers most of the previously known features such as widely customizable navigation bar, including buttons, color or widgets to name a few, custom vibrations, LED Control, lockscreen targets, Quiet Hours and advanced sound settings, among others. However, there are some new features included as well.
I join colleagues Mihaita Bamburic, Alan Buckingham and Wayne Williams recounting what tech I used in 2012. But unlike them, I made dramatic platform changes, more significant than first using Windows over New Years holiday 1994, buying a reburbished PowerBook in February 1999, adopting Facebook and Twitter in 2006 or purchasing Nexus One in January 2010. Each of these marked major platform changes -- and some not always lasting. Consider this: in early 2012, I owned a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7 MacBook Air, iPhone 4S and iPad 3. I end the year using Chromebook and Android smartphone and tablets.
During the year I moved from OS X and Windows running on Intel to an ARM-and-Chrome OS laptop, and after several failed attempts at adopting tablets (three generations of iPads, really), I embraced not one but two Android slates. I store all my data in the cloud -- local storage is now merely a way station between destinations rather than personal repository. This old dog is learning new tricks, and if I make such dramatic platform changes what does that mean for younger users who are more flexible and not as financially or habitually Apple/Microsoft/Intel committed? Look around, the PC era rapidly evaporates around you and its disappearance will be difficult to ignore in 2013.
Jelly Bean may be the youngest member of the Android family, but it’s also enjoying some amazing month-on-month growth, based on the number of devices accessing Google Play during the 14 days ending December 3. It still has some way to go to match Gingerbread though, which is yet again the green droid ruler.
On November 13, the search giant introduced its latest sugary treat, Android 4.2. Three weeks later, the new version of Jelly Bean had claimed a distribution level of 0.8 percent, a number aided by Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 sales, and Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 upgrades. That growth however, pales in comparison to 4.1 Jelly Bean which is now found on 5.9 percent of green droid devices, an increase of 118 percent when compared to the previous figures released in early November.
Just three days ago Google released the Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean update which now recognizes that December and Santa Claus do exist. Today the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation updated the factory images for the Nexus 4, 7, 10 and HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus with the latest version of the green droid operating system.
Using the factory images the four Nexus devices can be directly upgraded to Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, build number JOP40D, without waiting to receive the over-the-air update. In similar fashion, green droid modders can take advantage of the factory images to restore the devices to stock after previously using a custom distribution such as AOKP Jelly Bean Milestone 1 or CyanogenMod 10.
I'm not wrong -- tablets are still incapable of replacing PCs, but I purchased one anyway. Local Black Friday sales got the best of me, and the end result is the iPad 2 that's laying on my couch right now. Before you start calling me names for buying an older product or "betraying the Android army", let me put it like this -- Apple's tablet was cheaper than a Google Nexus 7.
Price is a very strong incentive in any of my buying decisions. Because of it I couldn't even think about purchasing an iPad, as it normally runs for $550 in my area. But that changed when I read the price tag during the Black Friday sale -- it was roughly $285. Suddenly priorities changed and an older, otherwise overpriced, product made sense. I just had to get it, despite what logic may have tried to dictate at the time.