Despite what some folks would lead you to believe, sheer numbers are actually meaningless when it comes to app stores. That's just a marketing ploy. It's the quality that matters and not the quantity. After all, if you can't get the software that you need, does it really matter if there are 100,000 more apps out there? I'm inclined to believe that the answer is a resounding "No".
Windows Phone has this very same problem -- 145,000 apps available but major titles are still avoiding its Store (no, I'm not going to mention Instagram). Microsoft tried to fix this issue a couple of times before, including paying developers to beef up the ecosystem. Late-yesterday, the software giant has decided to step in again with the new Porting Challenge.
On Monday, Finnish company Jolla announced its first smartphone running Sailfish OS, called Jolla. The handset, which features mid-range hardware specifications, is available to pre-order for EUR399 and will ship by the end of the year.
So what do you get for EUR399? The company refrains from providing detailed hardware specifications, but says that the Jolla packs a 4.5-inch display and is powered by a dual-core processor. The handset comes with 16 GB of internal storage alongside a microSD card slot, an 8 MP back-facing camera with autofocus, a removable battery and 4G cellular connectivity (only in supported markets). The Sailfish OS is "Android app compliant".
I am not a die-hard Instagrammer, but every once in a while I feel a sudden need to upload a filtered view of the world on the popular photo-sharing social network. That's easy to do with Android handsets and iPhones, but in the Windows Phone realm things are not that simple as there is no official app waiting in the Store. That's not to say there is low demand for one, far from it.
Admittedly, Windows Phone is a smaller market for Instagram than Android and iOS but even so there are likely tens of millions of potential users waiting to grab that official app which never seems to come. Developer Daniel Gary, who is behind a third-party Pinterest app (no official offering available for this one either) called Pinsation, decided to cater to the Windows Phone users' needs for a fully-featured Instagram app and, yesterday, released Itsdagram. The names are quite similar indeed.
Change the rules of the game and you change the hierarchy. Two days ago research company Gartner released its latest report on the state of smartphone market which, based on sales, places Windows Phone in fourth place, just behind BlackBerry in terms of share. Today, IDC also released its latest report for Q1 2013, that measures shipments, and the two smartphone operating systems trade places -- Windows Phone now surpasses BlackBerry for the third spot in the charts.
That switch means Microsoft and Nokia have a reason to celebrate, in spite of numerous barbs coming from pundits. "Windows Phone claiming the third spot is a first and helps validate the direction taken by Microsoft and key partner Nokia", says IDC's Kevin Restivo. But the research company suggests that the operating system still has a long way to go: "Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alternative to Android or iOS".
Verizon customers, it's time to stop feeling envious of folks on AT&T who can get the Lumia 920. Today, Nokia's new Windows Phone flagship, the Lumia 928, is available exclusively at the big red's online and brick and mortar stores.
Verizon's pricing for the Lumia 928 may lead to sales cannibalization of HTC's Windows Phone 8X. The latter finds itself in a difficult spot as it has to compete with a newer smartphone that is available for roughly the same money and with similar, if not better, hardware specifications.
BlackBerry had a pretty busy day at its Live conference in Orlando. The Canadian manufacturer announced the new Q5 smartphone, introduced the updated BlackBerry 10.1 operating system, released Enterprise Service 10 version 10.1 and detailed plans to bring BBM to Android and iOS.
My colleague Larry Seltzer, who was at the BlackBerry Live conference, briefly went through a couple of the announcements, but let's take a more in-depth look at what the new products bring to the table.
Ouch! The latest report from market research company Gartner crushes Microsoft's dreams of Windows Phone breaking away from the smartphone operating system bottom pack. In Q1 2013, with a low market share of just 2.9 percent, Windows Phone battled with BlackBerry for the consolation spot of third most popular platform (and lost), far away from either Android or iOS. The green droid is still the dominant leader, followed from afar by Apple's OS.
"There are two clear leaders in the OS market and Android’s dominance in the OS market is unshakable", says Gartner's Anshul Gupta. "With new OSs coming to market such as Tizen, Firefox and Jolla we expect some market share to be eroded but not enough to question Android’s volume leadership". What he doesn't says is that the future is bleak for both Windows Phone and BlackBerry, which have to showcase their strength to survive the future string of contenders. Let's take a look at the numbers.
On Tuesday, at an event held in London, Nokia announced the new Lumia 925 Windows Phone. The handset shares most of its specifications with the Verizon-exclusive Lumia 928, unveiled four days ago, and represents a slight evolution from the currently available Lumia 920.
Available color choices for the Lumia 925 include black, gray and white. The handset sports a "metal design", similar to its Verizon-exclusive sibling. A silver-colored frame, which works as an antenna, surrounds the edges of the device, while on the back a polycarbonate (plastic) cover, in either glossy or matte finish, is used. Nokia calls the design "stunning", although from my point of view the Lumia 920 looks better.
At 10 AM BST, Nokia's highly anticipated press event kicks off in London. Details are scarce at the moment, but what we can tell you for sure is that the Finnish phone manufacturer is preparing the "next installment".
What could that be? Well, yesterday, three days after the Lumia 928 was unveiled, Nokia's UK arm teased a new Lumia Windows Phone which takes some design cues from the Verizon-exclusive handset. Speculation aside, we are looking forward to seeing what Nokia has in store for us.
Tomorrow, Nokia will host a press event in London, where the company says it will unveil "the next installment". And, judging by a teaser released on Monday, it appears to be a new Lumia Window Phone. This comes just three days after the Finnish maker showcased the Lumia 928, which is coming exclusively to US mobile operator Verizon.
The teaser, posted by Nokia's UK arm on YouTube, reveals straight from its title -- "The new Nokia Lumia is coming..." -- that the company will announce a new Lumia device. Although there is no specific date provided (but when is there one with a teaser?), based on timing we can presume that the smartphone will be presented at tomorrow's press event.
On Monday, Sony unveiled a new smartphone called the Xperia ZR. The handset shares some of its underpinnings with the company's current flagship, the Xperia Z, but according to the Japanese electronics giant it features "the highest level of water-resistance for capturing photos and Full HD videos underwater".
The Xperia ZR can be used to record 1080p videos and shoot stills in up to 1.5 meters of "fresh water" for up to half an hour. The smartphone is also dust-resistant and meets the IP55 and IP58 protection standards. This means that the Xperia ZR can survive the usual water encounters, including a drop in the toilet (as long as it doesn't crack at impact) and a coffee spill, as well as keep dust away from its insides.
More than two weeks ago I asked: "Will you buy HTC One?" Preliminary results are in, and many of you express intentions to get the smartphone. Last week, I expressed how much more I like the One than iPhone 5.
The unlocked One is backordered at HTC.com, while T-Mobile can't meet demand. Someone wants this smartphone, and it might just be you. Forty-five percent of respondents say they will get the handset "as soon as available", while another 11.5 percent "within 3 months". Buying polls like this one, and that includes those conducted by outfits like ChangeWave, only measure sentiment -- what people would like to do. What they actually do often varies for lots of reasons. Clearly there is lots of interest in HTC One.
On Friday, Nokia ended days of teases, officially taking the wraps off the Lumia 928 Windows Phone 8 smartphone. The handset, which will be available exclusively at US mobile operator Verizon, showcases a departure in design from current flagship, Lumia 920, while delivering similar hardware and software specifications.
The Lumia 928 packs a 4.5-inch OLED display with a resolution of 768 by 1280 and 334 pixels per inch, protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass. The screen can be operated using gloves or long fingernails (women should love this). Power comes from a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 processor, 1GB of RAM and a 2000 mAh battery. The 32 GB internal storage is non-expandable.
Today, another Galaxy S4 variant goes on sale at AT&T -- 32GB and yours for $249.99 with two-year contract. Buyers looking for commitment-freedom pay $669.99. The S4 joins HTC One as hottest smartphone of the season. Both pack gorgeous 1080p displays. The One is my choice for design; other benefits include booming front-facing speakers and low-light photography. Samsung packs in larger screen and loads more software capabilities.
For the US carrier selling more iPhones than any other, AT&T makes Galaxy S4 quite the priority, jumping ahead of competitors selling the 16GB model and carrying its larger-capacity cousin. Preorders started April 16, with the 16GB phone in stores two weeks later.
On Friday, Finnish handset maker Nokia announced that the Play To app for Windows Phone 8 made the grade from experimental to stable version and is now publicly available to download from the Store. Previously, the DLNA app could only be installed through Nokia' Beta Labs.
According to the company, Play To brings DLNA to all of Nokia's Windows Phone 8 handsets available today like Lumia 920, 720 and 520, among others. Compared to the experimental version that I detailed little over two weeks ago, the stable Play To app ships with a number of bug fixes but without any new features onboard.