Yesterday, when reporting about Nexus 7 32GB showing up on Office Depot shelves, I asked: "Why wait?" Google may have cancelled today's Android event because of Hurricane Sandy, but there are many good reasons to announce anyway -- and stealing thunder from Windows Phone 8's launch is one of them.
Google went ahead, today announcing the long rumored Nexus 4 smartphone, Nexus 10 tablet and Android 4.2. It's no Key Lime Pie but more Jelly Bean. Make no mistake, despite the point-one update and nomenclature, this is a big upgrade.
Just in case you were thinking it was all about the iPad mini and Surface tablets at the moment, along comes Google with a new Nexus range. The company had planned to make a big announcement in New York today, stealing some of the thunder from Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 launch, but Hurricane Sandy decided to put the kibosh on that (how ironic), so instead the search giant has had to make do with a blog post instead.
There are actually three Nexus devices being announced today, the Nexus 4 smartphone, the new Nexus 7 tablet (which my colleague Joe Wilcox talked about here) and the bigger Nexus 10 -- Google’s 10.1-inch answer to the Apple iPad.
Napier & Son was the most successful British manufacturer of aircraft engines in the 1920s and 30s with their 12-cylinder Napier Lion powering 163 different types of aircraft between 1918 and 1935. Over that 17 year period the Lion grew from 450 to 1350 horsepower and was, for awhile, the most powerful aircraft, boat and car engine in the world, holding world speed records in all three venues at the same time. And then the Napier Lion was suddenly gone -- a lesson from which Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer could benefit if he and his company don’t repeat it.
Napier perfected the Lion engine over those 17 years, improving it in every way until it was the best and most efficient engine of its class in the world. Then, seemingly overnight, the class changed as air forces and record setters alike suddenly needed more than the 1,350 horsepower a finely-tuned Lion could deliver. Napier’s Lion gave way to Rolls-Royce’s larger and innately more powerful Merlin and Griffon engines and Napier, for all intents and purposes, was gone.
If you’re the proud possessor of a copy of Windows 8, or you rushed out today to buy a brand new touchscreen device with it pre-installed, the first thing you’re going to need to do is configure it to suit your needs, and install all of your favorite software.
You’ll probably want to make installing a better browser a priority (no offense Microsoft) and Google has designed a version of Chrome especially for the new OS, with some customizations for touch screens, including larger buttons and the ability to keep the browser open next to other apps.
The first Microsoft Surface reviews are beginning to surface and they’re a mixed bag to say the least. Since all my money is going towards a new 4th gen iPad, and Microsoft is happy to send me a copy of Windows 8, but not a Surface tablet (sorry, Surface PC), I can’t give you my own insightful opinion on the device, but I can tell you what the early reviewers are saying.
And that early feedback is good (mostly) but far from being universally glowing. Pretty much all of the reviews point out the one thing we knew was going to be a problem: that there just aren’t anywhere near enough apps at the moment. But there are other issues that we didn't know about, such as that it soon gets very heavy, the cameras are poor, and it can be sluggish at times. Here’s just a selection of what those early reviewers are saying:
Today, during a special media event, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that 200 million devices already have iOS 6. That works out to half cumulative shipments -- 400 million. The company may update that number during its quarterly earnings call in two days.
The number starkly contrasts with Android, where just 1.8 percent of devices are on newest version Jelly Bean. The difference demonstrates the extent of operating system fragmentation of one versus the other. Uniformity offers many advantages to developers and customers using their apps. Consider this: Jelly Bean released in mid-July, iOS 6 last month. So Apple reaches considerably more users with its newest OS than does Google. There is no comparison.
Somebody believes Google's marketing claim that the $249 Chromebook is "for everyone". Just five hours ago, I reported the device's availability. It's not anymore. A spokesperson confirmed this evening that Google Play sold out of the portable during its first few hours of availability "with more stock coming soon".
Google introduced the new Chromebook, which uses ARM processor rather than x86 processor, on October 18, with pre-orders starting same day. What's different today: Google selling the portable direct from the Play store, alongside Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7. Samsung manufactures the portable, which shape, 11.6-inch screen and overall size resembles Apple's MacBook Air. But Google makes a value push, by selling a computer with similar benefits for one-quarter the price.
Great ideas usually take time to germinate into a model that is truly feasible. People are notoriously slow in grasping new paradigms, preferring to flirt with a comfortable present that is more often than not, entirely worthy and sufficient. This consumer mindset is an issue that faces aspiring and radical technology entrepreneurs, it is not sufficient to simply have the chops to think and execute the new ideas, but the right timing is nearly as crucial. To possess the patience and sense to release a radical idea into the wild only when the market is ripe is a factor that can determine make or break.
People discovery is a concept that has floated around the mobile app industry for quite some time. Apps like Badoo, which was founded in 2006 by a Russian entrepreneur and currently has a user base upwards of 150 million, operates around a fundamentally location-based model, by allowing users to see and interact with like-minded people around their specific region. Scores of other location-based apps, such as Banjo and Sonar, have managed to find relative success in their respective niches as location tag aggregators over various social networks and as friend-finding systems.
Yesterday, Google suddenly unveiled, in cooperation with Samsung, the first ARM-powered Chromebook and for remarkably affordable price -- $249. There also is a $329.99 model, that includes 3G. Both are available for pre-order now from major retailers, and Google Play will join stores selling the WiFi-only model next week.
The question: Will you buy? It's the right time to ask, because the price is so appealing. From my initial testing, about 24 hours now, it's hard not to recommend this new Chromebook, if for no other reason than price. But as I'll further explain in my forthcoming first-impressions review, there are plenty of trade-offs for the price -- and benefits, too.
The invitations are out, and rumors proved true. Apple will hold a special press event, presumably for iPad mini, on October 23 -- that's three days before Microsoft launches Windows 8 and Surface tablets. Talk about party crashing. Apple almost surely will steal much of its rival's thunder, splitting media coverage and assuring that most every Windows 8 or Surface blog post or news story will mention Apple and iPad mini.
Anyone who thinks the timing isn't deliberate lives in lala land. Capitalism is all about brutal competition, and if iPad mini debuts next week Apple will heap hot coals through Microsoft's Windows and onto its shiny Surface. InterWeb writers have obsessed about the rumored tablet for weeks. Its arrival will be almost as blah blah worthy as Steve Jobs returning from the dead.
If you can't figure out why CEO Steve Ballmer talks about reinventing Microsoft as a "devices and services company", Jay Chou, IDC senior research analyst, has an answer. "PCs are going through a severe slump". That's being polite in mixed company, when the F-word is so much more appropriate. Third-quarter PC shipments accentuate an already dreadful trend. Analysts expected slowing shipments as the market prepares for Windows 8, but nothing quite like this. The seasonal back-to-school lift collapsed, with even Mac shipments slowing.
Global PC shipments fell 8.6 percent year over year, according to IDC, surpassing the minus 3.8 percent forecast. Gartner's estimate is a more generous 8.3 percent decline. The United States, a region recently in love with tablets, is in free fall, with shipments down 13.8 percent by Gartner's reckoning and 12.4 percent according to IDC. For the better part of a year, analysts excused declining PC shipments as market anticipation for Windows 8. But the slowdown during back-to-school buying season foreshadows weakness ahead.
Yesterday's Steve Ballmer "devices and services company" letter unleashes a torrent of idiot punditry. I can only laugh at the sheer stupidity of writers infatuated with the idea Microsoft wants to be Apple, or putting forth such lunacy to sack pageviews.
Read Ballmer's 1,300-word missive again. Microsoft's focus on devices and services has little to nothing to do with Apple. The cloud-connected device era is here and Microsoft embraces it to maintain computing relevance. The company has been on this course for years. Research and development takes time, and the good ship Microsoft is too large to change course in a few months -- or even a few years. The sheer number of carefully coordinated new (and largely changed) products shipping simultaneously (or soon after) clearly indicates a massive undertaking long planned.
Microsoft has a long history of copying Apple. Back in the early 90s, Bill Gates' company introduced features found in the Macintosh GUI into Windows 2.0, sparking a copyright infringement lawsuit (Apple's taste for litigation is nothing new). Microsoft arguably has pilfered ideas from its rival's OS ever since -- Windows’ taskbar and Aero Peek certainly share clear similarities with OS X's Dock and Exposé. When the iPod became a massive hit, Microsoft introduced the Zune. Apple stores are hugely popular, which is why we’re now seeing Microsoft Stores popping up everywhere. Surface, in a way, copies the iPad, although of course Microsoft has tried (and failed) to popularize tablets since 2002.
And yes, before I go too far into this article, I’m aware the above paragraph could be seen as troll bait, so I’ll point out that Microsoft copies from other companies too -- Google being a major example -- and Apple, in turn, has lifted ideas from Microsoft, particularly from its operating system. Big companies copy from one another, it’s a fact of life. My point, however, is when Apple does something exceptionally well, Microsoft is keen to try and follow suit.
I did something quite shocking yesterday -- talk to my boss on the phone. Yes, we both occasionally get sentimental about such old-fashion communications. Among the topics: iPad mini, which is perennial rumor topic recently. Neither of us could quite fathom why or for what price a smaller Apple tablet makes sense. A new survey makes iPad mini all the more perplexing, and all the less a good idea.
According to an August TechBargains.com survey of 1,332 shoppers, 50 percent wouldn't buy iPad mini, while 45 percent would purchase iPhone 5. Meaningful context: The shopping comparison site conducted the survey before either product was announced, equally gauging sentiment based on rumors. Only 18 percent of respondents would buy the tablet. But that low number only hints at the deep level of disinterest.
MegaCloud is a new, free-to-use cloud storage and backup service (compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, and Mobile) that lets you store, sync and share all your documents, photos, music, videos and more across all of your devices. Unlike some similar services, having a free account doesn’t mean being restricted in any way -- all free users get 16GB of space, divided into 8GB for storage and 8GB for backups.
Well, that’s how much ordinary, everyday free users get. But obviously, as a BetaNews reader you deserve a little extra, so MegaCloud has kindly upped the free storage on offer to 21GB (13GB for storage, plus 8GB for backups) exclusively for us, and all you need to do is click on the link below and sign up for a free account. And if that’s still not enough free space for you, you can get yet more gratis storage simply by installing a mobile app or referring friends to the service.