Microsoft's new Kin phones are heavily integrated with social networks and Redmond's new cloud service. The story that Microsoft was really pushing at the event was that the Kin phones will allow users to stay in touch by pulling in all their social networking notifications. But after further clarification from Microsoft, it looks like those notifications will be delayed by as much as 15 minutes.
Microsoft claims that battery life and poor API support from social networks are to blame. While we can certainly see that as a possibility, something just doesn't sit right. According to Engadget (and we agree), this could have something to do with Verizon and their 3G pricing. Big Red recently institute a $10 per month data fee for most non-smartphones. This move could be meant to get a sweeter deal from Verizon, thus keeping the Kin One and Kin Two financially in reach for teens.
Microsoft points out there is a manual refresh button to update all that social whatnot. At this point there are no other 3G restrictions we're aware of. However, these phones have passable web browsers, so perhaps Verizon still intends to limit them to a 25MB monthly cap like seen in the $10 plan. maybe these phones will even be subject to that charge, and the notification compromise was just to avoid the requirement of a full data plan.
Two new J.D. Power surveys have shown that consumer satisfaction is highest among those that use touchscreen smartphones. On a scale of 1000 points, touchscreen phones scored 771. Traditional feature phones weren’t far behind though, with a rating of 756. Apple’s iPhone is obviously included in the touchscreen category, and its 810 rating pulled up the smartphone average. In fact, Apple came out first in overall satisfaction. Though, RIM did well too with a score of 741.
Participant in the survey were asked to rate their phone’s ease of operation, operating system quality, features, design, and battery power. Feature phone users did not have to answer questions about their phone’s operating system, because – well, none of them are very good. The survey also found that people are sharing media at ever increasing rates. Over 50% of respondents with smartphones said they share pictures, music, or video with friends on their phone.
When it comes down to it, is it really that surprising that people spending significantly more money on phones are happier with them? It seems likely that at least some feature phone users are hankering for a smartphone. If you have a smartphone, how do you feel about it?
Flurry Analytics offers real time data to developers about how consumers use their mobile applications. Any application that uses Flurry Analytics rats out its user to an app developer, and at the same time provide some data about the smartphone community. Working their magic on the data they’ve received, Flurry says the Motorola Droid is one very popular phone.
Flurry says that 80 percent of all iPhone OS and Android devices use these reporting analytics. From this Flurry is able to make some educated guesses about the nature of the smartphone marketplace. And in that marketplace Flurry says Motorola’s Droid’s first 74 days moved more units than Apple’s iPhone did during that same period of time 1.05 million to 1.0 million. Flurry uses 74 days because that’s when Apple reported the iPhone’s reaching the 1 million units sold mark. While better after 74 days, the Droid has a ways to go to catch up to the 42.5 million iPhones sold.
Bad news here, though, is that not all Android phones are being as well received. During its first 74 days (actually 70 plus some extrapolation), Google’s Nexus One has move only 0.135 million units. Flurry ascribes the poor showing of the Nexus One to “unconventional choices in marketing, pricing and distribution.”
There’s a lot of other issues involved here, which make a precise comparison difficult. Flurry readily acknowledges such issues. However, what does seem apparent is Nexus One, despite the hype and anticipation, isn’t catching on--at least not just yet.
Can’t have a smartphone OS these days without a companion app store, and Windows Phone 7 is no different. There’s no date for the opening of Windows Phone Marketplace, still Microsoft has been busy rounding up partners with wares to sell once it does.
On the list are Fandango, Sling Media, AP, Foursquare, Shazam, and Pandora. And they’ll present their apps in a Marketplace designed to sell: “The Marketplace features a panoramic design and active merchandising to increase the discoverability of games and applications, and supports one-time credit card purchases, mobile operator billing and advertising-funded applications.” A nice feature: customers will get to try before they buy.
See what you can accomplish if you whine about something enough? Even the mighty Apple, which lords it above consumers with it’s ‘my way or the highway’ software approach, will capitulate and give the customer what he wants: the iPhone is getting multitasking.
Not right away, mind you. And, if the sources AppleInsider uses are not as reliable as they claim, maybe not at all. But, should it come to fruition, it will be in version 4.0 of the iPhone OS, for which there is no projected release date.
Between now and then Apple has some issues to contend with, as adding multitasking to the iPhone (and by extension the iPad), will be both a simple and a complex task. Simple because version 3.x of the iPhone OS has fully preemptive multitasking. Apple, for security and technical reasons, blocks all but a select few applications from running in the background. None of these select few are among the thousands of third party apps that populate the iPhone App Store (and which help bolster the iPhone's popularity).
Complex because Apple has to tweak the user interface to make access to multiple applications intuitive and easy. As most applications are shut down when a user goes to the home screen, such interface needs didn’t have to be address. Since Apple is obsessive about such things, this could take a while. And, of course, there’s all those funky technical issues over resource allocation that have to be resolved, so running apps play nice with the OS and with each other.
Once multitasking is implemented, then iPhone users can start whining about slow performance and battery life, like the rest of smartphone users.
It’s a challenge trying to parse what a company might be up to. It’s obvious, for example, that Amazon will need to respond to recent events in the tablet PC market to keep its Kindle competitive. But what exact path it might take for this endeavor isn’t necessarily obvious. Unless, of course, you happen to be a keen observer of the want ads.
Michael Calore, at webmonkey, thinks Amazon is working to improve the browser engine of the Kindle, which he likens to “taking a step backwards in time.” According to Calore, a job posting for a “browser engineer” at “Lab126” is a dead giveaway that an upgrade is in the works. Lab126 is the Amazon division that develops the Kindle, and it is on the hunt for a person to “develop “an innovative embedded web browser” for a consumer product.”
Calore suggests that once the iPad hits the market, allowing for a fuller web browsing experience (and the HP Slate not too far behind it), the Kindle will look pretty lame. Looking lame is no way to hang onto market share.
Panasonic’s campaign will start in 300 Best Buy stores in major U.S. cities (with 1,000 stores by the end of the year), where special 3D video sections will be constructed to show off Panasonic’s wares. Panasonic will also sweeten its deal with consumers by undercutting Japanese MSRP by 30% or so. A 50-inch 3D TV is expected to go for about $2,500. Unfortunately, these Panasonic models will lack the web access functions commonplace on their Japanese versions.
Panasonic reports a goal of selling one million 3D TVs globally during this fiscal year, with half of those being sold in the United States. Panasonic figures this will give it a 50% share of the global market for this new product niche.
External validation is a funny thing. Without it the events in our lives, no matter how significant, have less meaning, if they have meaning at all. The birthdays we remember aren’t those which were emotionally special, but the ones we can relive because they were captured on video. Now, it seems, we can’t even experience place without external validation. Sure, you’re ‘here,’ but you still have a need to validate your being ‘here’ before being ‘here’ becomes real.
Simple things like Google Earth, just for starters, cater to this need for external validation of place. Smartphones, such as Apple’s iPhone, allow triangulation for approximation of location. And AT&T has just widened the options for PC users with the introduction of the new USBConnect Velocity modem from Option--AT&T’s first to offer GPS. Plug it in; connect to AT&T’s 3G wireless network; and watch yourself wander about the map.
AT&T says the Velocity “opens the door to location-based applications making it easier than ever for customers to get to their desired destination.” In addition, enterprise customers can add TeleNav Track LITE and Xora GPS Locator for tracking and location awareness. The Velocity also has a microSD card slot, letting it perform double-duty.
The Velocity, along with the USBConnect Turbo from LG, will be available at AT&T stores nationwide on March 7. The Velocity will be cost $29.99, after mail-in rebate and a new two-year DataConnect contract of at least $35 a month.
Gizomodo Gizmodo says the documents in hand only contain promotional plans--no information about the smartphone’s hardware or software specifications. It appears that Windows Phone 7 isn’t part of the pink plan, and that social networking will be the phone’s forte.
Gizomodo Gizmodo, relying on additional inside information, says that two phones will be introduced, and that the end of April is the most likely launch time.
The direction of robotics is something of a puzzle. On the one hand, the most successful robots are those designed for a single, repetitive function. On the other, there’s this insistence to create a human replicant: something “more human than human,” in the words of the Tyrell Corporation, despite the distinct limitations for success.
Take for example Engineered Arts’ RoboThespian. It has an impressive range of expression ability, all of which is controlled through a touch screen interface programmed in Adobe Flash AS3. It’s presently employed in science exhibits, as a teaching aid--where the repetitive strain can take a toll on a regular human. (And where it’s multi-lingual ability is a plus.) As a bonus, it has a better acting range than some from Hollywood that come to mind.
But will anthropomorphic robots every break away from their puppet-like qualities? They are cute, in their own way, but fundamentally limited in ability, and decidedly non-human in their comportment. If RoboThespian is the current state-of-the-art, then it may be a while before they acquire Asimovian characteristics--which is when they become really interesting.