Many people want Microsoft to die, and the sooner the better. I’m not in that group, although I understand that years upon years of letdowns through viruses, DLL hell, BSODs (Blue Screens of Death) and a myriad of other problems lead many in the tech world (and consumer world, too) to walk away from everything Microsoft. Add to that the growth of the Internet and mobile devices as well as slumping PC sales, and you can see why so many wait with baited breath to see the company go away for good.
Nevertheless, quarter after quarter Microsoft continues to prove that it still has life and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, in 2011, CEO Steve Ballmer explained how the company intends to reinvent around devices and services. Seeing that the growth of mobile devices and the services that support them represent the future of computing, Microsoft responds yet again to the changing world of computing.
Here's a question for you: Is a company-provided device a benefit? You don't pay for hardware, software or service but might get older gear as hidden personal cost. I ask, because if Gartner is right, you'll soon pay, whether or not you want to. A survey of CIOs finds that 38 percent of companies plan to stop providing employees with devices by 2016. Wait a bit before reading on and think about what that really means.
"We're finally reaching the point where IT officially recognizes what has always been going on: People use their business device for nonwork purposes", David Willis, Gartner vice president, says. As someone working from home full time since May 1999, I must confess to rarely using company-issued computers or other devices. But that was my choice, and one often not supported by IT departments. Now, for many workers, there will be only choice of bringing their own.
After a year-and-a-half on an iPhone 4S, I'm now on the current cutting-edge of smartphonery: Samsung Galaxy S4. I've used the phone for almost 3 days now. It's good. I'm excited. Are there any ball games on tonight?
Where was I? Oh yeah, the phone. I'm so excited that I could...do something that excited people do. Honestly, it's a phone. It's a very nice phone with some great features, a great physical design and a lot of bling features that I'll probably never use. I can believe it's the best of the Android phones, but I haven't tested all the others.
Four days after the smartphone surfaced at UK retailer Selfridges, the BlackBerry Q10 is now also available through UK mobile operator Vodafone. Die-hard QWERTY fans in Canada are able to purchase the handset starting tomorrow.
At Vodafone UK, the BlackBerry Q10 is available with no upfront costs alongside two-year contracts, starting at £37 per month. Customers who are willing to shell out £129 upfront can get the smartphone on a two-year plan with less costly £33 monthly payments.
If you want to buy a Galaxy S4 and are a clumsy person then you might want to invest in an aftermarket case (or rethink your decision). According to SquareTrade, a company that provides protection plans, Samsung's latest Android flagship smartphone is easy to break, more so than the Galaxy S3 and the Apple iPhone 5.
SquareTrade pits the three smartphones against each other in eight key areas including front panel protection, grip, water resistance and drops. The Galaxy S4 scored badly in the slide and drop tests, grip-ability and size, giving it the highest breakability mark of seven out of 10 (lowest scores are best).
"Windows strength appears to be the ability to attract first time smartphone buyers, upgrading from a feature phone", Mary-Ann Parlato, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst, says about the U.S. handset market for the three months ended in February. "Of those who changed their phone over the last year to a Windows smartphone, 52 percent had previously owned a feature phone".
End of story, or could be, if not for something else. Fifty-five percent of iOS buyers, and 51 percent for Android, are repeat smartphone purchasers. The two more popular platforms, while growing because of their larger bases, sell more to existing customers, which make up a more finite market. "With over half of the U.S. market still owning a feature phone, it’s likely that many will upgrade over the coming year, which will ultimately contribute to more growth for the Windows brand", Parlato emphasizes.
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.
On Monday, South Korean manufacturer LG announced a new Android flagship smartphone called the Optimus GK. The handset shares its underpinnings with the previously-introduced Optimus G Pro that is designed for the Japanese market.
The Optimus GK comes with a 5-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1080 by 1920 and a 440 ppi (pixels per inch) density, similar to other devices like the Sony Xperia Z. There is a 1.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor inside, backed by 2GB of RAM and a large 3,100 mAh battery. So far, so good, but what about the rest of the specs?
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.
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 can still buy phones running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), even though Google released the last distribution, version 2.3.7, in September, 2011. In the meantime, numerous security flaws have been discovered in Gingerbread and users are vulnerable to them.
For this, the ACLU blames AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. The logic in their plea to the FTC is so shoddy that I have to suspect an ulterior motive. In whose interests is the ACLU operating here?
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.
Even though BlackBerry unveiled the BlackBerry Q10 smartphone in late-January, prospective customers around the world are still waiting to get their hands on the device. But if you live in the UK the handset is available today from Selfridges. The BlackBerry Q10 will also arrive next week, starting May 1, in Canada.
At Selfridges, the BlackBerry Q10 is available to purchase outright for GBP579.99 which is quite expensive for any smartphone, let alone one with a QWERTY keyboard. For the money you get a 3.1-inch display with a resolution of 720 by 720 and a 330 ppi (pixels per inch) density, 8 MP back-facing camera with 1080p video recording, 16 GB of internal storage and 4G LTE cellular connectivity as the main features.
This is a question that I never thought I'd ask -- Is the hardware leaving Windows Phone 8 behind its fierce competition? In September last year, I asserted that "Windows Phone 8 is the best idea Microsoft has had in phone tech" after analyzing the new hardware requirements imposed by the software giant for its smartphone operating system. But as we all know eight months is a long time in the tech world.
This is a tough question to answer. After all, in January, BlackBerry unveiled the BlackBerry Z10 with pretty much the same hardware that was available for Windows Phone 8 at launch. Apple's iPhone 5 is also not far away in terms of specifications. So should Microsoft rest on its laurels and send the engineers on vacation? Well, no. As a smart man once said, "You can never have enough power". And even Windows Phone needs better hardware, although some die-hard fanboys would beg to differ.
Samsung unifies its PC line under the ATIV brand, rolls out two new Book models and SideSync software
Samsung has announced it will be expanding its ATIV brand name to cover all of its Windows PCs, not just its convertible PC devices. The aim is to create a single cohesive brand for all its Windows 8 products, in a similar way to how the Galaxy brand unifies all of its Android smartphones.
In addition to the rebranding, Samsung has rolled out two new ATIV Book models -- the ATIV Book 5 and ATIV Book 6.