Steve Ballmer, the usually candid CEO of Microsoft, answered a variety of questions in a recent interview with CNet, though was mostly reserved on the topics that really matter. For example, when asked if Microsoft can slim down Windows enough to make a viable tablet that works as well as the iPad, Ballmer was vague and dodgy.
"I think probably the things of tomorrow are best left for tomorrow and the things of today are best discussed today. So today, I will focus on Windows Phone," Ballmer said.
He was equally esoteric when discussing whether or not Windows tablets and Windows Phone-based tablets can co-exist.
"I think when there is something to say we'll say it," Ballmer said.
On the topic of PCs, Ballmer was a bit more forthcoming. According to Ballmer, "Most forecasters have PCs up double digits and that's on a base that's 350 million," adding that "PCs have been healthy; they are growing."
It seems like we've waited forever for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform to launch, and now that it has, the big question is whether or not it can cut into the smartphone market and compete with the likes of Android and iOS. The answer? Probably not, according to some skeptical smartphone makers in Taiwan.
Those whose business it is to make and sell smartphones aren't expecting Windows Phone 7 to be a bust. After all, Microsoft has lined up an impressive collection of companies willing to support the platform, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange, O2, Telefonica, Dell, HTC, Samsung, and LG, to name a handful. But they just don't expect Windows Mobile to be a dominant force. Instead, Taiwan-based smartphone makers predict Windows Mobile will increase its market share from 5 percent in 2010 to 10 percent in 2011, and then level off.
One of the roadblocks, they say, is the high hardware requirements for WP7 devices, which will limit the platform to enthusiast smartphone models.
Do you agree with their assessment, or do you think Windows Phone 7 will finally get Microsoft's mobile business back on track?
It's been all quiet on the Chrome OS front lately, but some recent comments on the Google Code site have some wondering if a release is right around the corner. Google announced Chrome OS last year around this time, and said the product would be available be the end of 2010. So here we are, and it looks like Chrome OS has hit Release Candidate stage. This is usually the final stage of development before software goes gold.
Chrome OS will be based around the Google Chrome browser. All actions in the cloud-based OS will be handled within the browser interface. Many feel that this is a limiting experience, but Google has been working over the last years to create web services that would dovetail nicely with Chrome OS.
Google did issue a statement on the rumor, but it was predictably bland, just reiterating their prviously stated time line. "We are very happy with the progress of Google Chrome OS and expect devices will be available later this year. We’ll have more details to share at launch," said Google of the rumors. Where do you think Chrome OS will fit in with the ever growing mobile space?
It was just back in 2007 when Google launched the GOOG-411 service to consumers. A user would call, ask about the number for a business, and Google's magic computers would spit out the required information. At the time, Google's voice recognition seemed like magic, and it only got better. But today the Google 411 team has announced that, sadly, GOOG-411 will be shut down on November 12.
The 411 number wasn't created as a public service, rather it was a test bed. From all the voice data, Google was able to create excellent voice to text engines that we now enjoy in Android with Voice Actions, Voice Input, and Voice Search. Google isn't abandoning the technology behind GOOG-411, it is just redirecting focus to a new generation of mobile products.
Users without access to Google's smartphone voice features can still get some help. Sending a text to 466453 (GOOGLE) with a location and business, will get you a reply filed with information. We're sorry to see GOOG-411 go, but also excited to see what Google does with voice recognition next.
Amazon wants to take a crack at distributing Android apps and plans to open its own software store for Android smartphones, The Wall Street Journalreports. By doing so, Amazon would become an instant rival to Google and another potentially big thorn in Apple's side.
As things currently stand, the Android Market hosts some 80,000 apps and is the second largest behind Apple's 250,000-strong App Store. What effect Amazon would have on either of those stats remains to be seen.
It's unknown what Amazon's Android store would be called or when it might open, but according to an Amazon document The WSJ claims to have seen, the mega e-tailer would collect a 30 percent cut of all app sales, while developers would rake in the remaining 70 percent.
A California company called Cherrypal announced the availability of a new 7-inch Android tablet, while at the same time underscoring why Apple's going to have a tough time dominating the scene with its iPad well into the future. How so? Cherrypad's tablet costs $188, less than half the price of Apple's magical slate.
The two aren't really in the same category, of course, and Cherrypal acknowledges as much.
"The CherryPad America doesn't compete against the Apple iPad. The CherryPad addresses the sub-iPad market," said Cherrypal CTO Max Seybold.
With all due respect to Seybold, consumers will be the judge of whether or not the CherryPad, and other similar devices, compete against Apple's larger slate. With a 7-inch resistive touchscreen, 800MHz ARM11 processor, 256MB of DDR2 memory, and just 2GB of NAND flash memory, the CherryPad isn't a high-end device, but is it enough to sway users looking for a general purpose tablet? At less than 200 bones, there's a good chance it will find a few buyers.
For the sake of completeness, other specs include a microSD card slot, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, 3.5mm headphone jack, microphone, USB 2.0 (via external adapter), and optional external 3G modem.
Incidentally, we'll be receiving one of these in the Lab for a full-on review, so stay tuned.
The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) foundation just received a $5.6 million grant from Marvell intended to fund the development of an Android tablet for developed territories.
"They [Marvell] have been sponsors all along," OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte says. "But they were one of ten. Now they are the technology partner."
Though OLPC is building the tablet device, Negroponte says it won't relate directly to the XO 3, and it won't even come with any OLPC branding. And other than the fact that it will run Android, there aren't a whole lot details to go on. Negroponte did say that Marvell and OLPC will have something "concrete" to show at CES in January, but was careful not to promise a working prototype.
Sources from Acer told Digitimes that the PC maker is confident of such an approach stimulating demand. It still has a lot of faith in netbooks. Speaking at the press launch of the Aspire One AOD255, Acer Taiwan president Scott Lin cited Gartner's positive sale predictions for netbooks to underpin his confidence in netbooks. Gartner expects global netbook shipments to touch 50 million units by 2014.
Until now, payment options for Google's Android market were slim. Users had to use either Google Checkout, or T-Mobile USA billing. But now sources are claiming that Google and PayPal have signed a deal to allow the payment processor to handle Market transactions. The deal could be announced at PayPal's October 26th developer conference.
Users have cited a number of issues with the Google Checkout system, chiefly that it is not available in many locations. Many consumers also do not have Google Checkout sign-ins when purchasing an Android phone, and the set up process is not very clear. Some developers also tell tales of huge numbers of rejected sales due to problems with Google Checkout.
PayPal integration could bring some uniformity to the system, and it's clear developers and users would benefit from the choice. Have you had issues with Google Checkout on Android? Let us know about it in the comments.
Coinciding with the launch of T-Mobile's G2 smartphone, Wolfram Alpha LLC announced its self-titled Wolfram Alpha app has been ported to Android and is available for download from the Android Market.
"Consumers crave a mobile experience that gives them access to the information they want, wherever they are," said Saj Sahay, director, product management, T-Mobile. "We designed the T-Mobile G2 with this in mind, and we're proud to work with Wolfram Alpha on their entry into the Android space."
Wolfram Alpha is a "computation knowledge engine," as its developers describe it, which can be used to tap into a repository of curated data, including over ten trillion data elements and a library of tens of thousands of sophisticated computation models covering math, science, engineering, health and nutrition, geography, linguistics, sports, and a whole bunch more.
The app runs $1.99 and is compatible with any mobile device running Android 1.6 or later.