Just a couple of years ago, few would have believed that Google would soon become a major force in the mobile OS market. But that's exactly what has happened since the launch of the Android platform in late 2008, and there's been no sign of the mobile OS slowing down. On the contrary, IDC says Android is on track to become the No. 2 mobile OS by 2013.
"Mobile operating systems have become the key ingredient in the highly competitive mobile device market. Although the overall look and feel of the device will still play an important role in the buying process, the wrong choice of operating system coupled with an awkward user interface can mean the difference between success and failure," says Stephen D. Drake, vice president, Mobility and Telecom.
We're still waiting for that must-have Android device, but even though there doesn't yet exist an Android-powered handset we can't live without, there are several we could live with. And by 2013, there will be some 68 million Android-powered units in the wild, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 150 percent, IDC says.
The latest numbers from market research firm Futuresource Consulting demonstrate just how important mobile app stores are to driving the mobile content market. In 2009, smartphone owners downloaded some 3.6 billion apps from app stores, and that's expected to nearly double this year to 6.6 billion. But by 2013, app stores will be pushing out 16.2 billion mobile programs worth $15 billion.
"More than 85 percent of app store downloads are currently free to users, and we expect this percentage to remain stable for the next few years," says Patrik Pfander, senior market analyst at Futuresource. "Despite this glut of free content, the market will still experience vigorous consumer spending, and the paid-for market has already developed beyond the established gaming segment. Our forecasts are showing global revenues of $4.6 billion this year, rising to nearly $15 billion in 2013, which includes payments for direct pay-per-download and indirect value-add services like in-app payments and subscriptions."
And that's really just the tip of the iceberg. Once you factor in content revenue from outside of app stores, like direct downloads from gaming companies, ringtones, music, and other goodies, Futuresource says it will all add up to a $38 billion in 2013.
Sometimes it can be difficult sifting through the speculation and figuring out what's real and what's not, so we're always pleased as punch when a company bigwig spills the beans on an upcoming project. During a recent interview with Bloomberg, Jim Wong, senior corporate vice president and president of IT product business group at Acer, did just that by confirming earlier reports of an impending Chrome OS netbook.
And not just one notebook, but one million of the them. That's how many Chrome-based laptops Acer will try to ship in 2010, which would account for about 7-8 percent of all notebooks the company plans to ship, Wong said.
According to Wong, Acer will begin shipping Chrome-based notebooks in the third quarter, but he stopped short of offering up any other details, such as what kind of CPU will be used.
The third quarter's shaping up to be a big one for Acer. In addition to the upcoming Chrome laptops, Wong said the company will also release its e-book reader in Asia and Europe, coinciding with the launch of Acer's upcoming app store.
The new Core i5 and Core i7 mobile CPUs are already finding their way into some products. Panasonic has announced that the Japanese version of the Toughbook laptops, known there as Lets Note, will be getting some speedy new Nehalem-based processors. The new rugged (and a little ugly) offerings will come in four flavors.
The S9, N9, and F9 will have a Core i5-520M CPU. Screen sizes range from 12.1 inches (S9 and F9) up to the 14.1 inch screen on the F9. This screen will probably look quite nice with a resolution of 1440 x 900. The real gem here is the R9 model which will have a Core i7-620M, 250GB HDD, and 2GB of DDR3 RAM crammed into a chassis the size of a netbook. A 10.1 inch screen with that kind of power makes for a desirable ultraportable computer.
A Japanese launch is scheduled for February 17th. No word on if these PCs will find their way here. If you were able to get one of these, what would you pay for it?
Don't try yelling out a string of obscenities at your Nexus One, because if you do, all you're going to see are a bunch of pound signs. And do you really want to try and figure out later on what you meant when you said '####### #######, #### you!'?
This foul-mouth filter is a feature of the Nexus One's built-in voice recognition, and according to a Google spokeswoman, replacing curse words with # symbols has little to do with teaching manners and everything to do with making sure offending terms don't appear in transcriptions.
"We filter potentially offensive or inappropriate results because we want to avoid situations whereby we might misrecognize a spoken query and return profanity when, in fact, the user said something completely innocent," Google explained. "Ultimately our goal is return results that show exactly what you said, and we're constantly working to improve the technology to better fit our users' needs.
So there you have it--blame the current state of voice recognition technology, and not the the smartphone. Don't like it, little Johnny? Too ####### bad.
Most netbooks and other ultra-mobile PCs currently run on Intel’s Atom x86 chips, but according to Analytics firm ABI, they shouldn’t get too used to being on top. In a new report, ABI is claiming that ARM-based chips will overtake Intel by 2013. ARM has been pushing for the opportunity to power non-smartphone devices for some time now. In October they introduced the Cortex A5 MP architecture, which they claim can efficiently power a netbook style device.
Intel is not currently sweating bullets, but they may be gearing up for a fight. Intel has established an Atom developer program to push the platform further. The chip maker has also unveiled plans to sell a version of the Atom intended for smartphones called the Moorestown. This is a direct challenge to ARM on their home turf.
The dominance of ARM is far from a sure thing, though. Rival analytics firm IDC has stated that ARM-based netbooks are unlikely to capture more than 10-20% of the market. They cited manufacturers’ tight relationships with Intel. Also, Windows does not currently support ARM chips. Since Windows is the dominant platform even on netbooks, the future for ARM netbooks is still hazy. If Linux netbooks took off, as Robert Castellano of The Information Network predicted last year, ARM would definitely have an in. Linux just needs to have its year. Hey, it could happen.
Celebrities have been known to sign just about anything, including body parts, so should it really come as any surprise that one of the faces of Microsoft would scribble his name on a Mac? It shouldn't, and that's exactly what Steve Ballmer did.
A student from Trevecca Nazarene University asked Ballmer to autograph his laptop, which elicited a hearty laugh from Ballmer after he noticed it was a Mac.
"It's got Windows on it, I promise," the student quipped.
Like a good sport, Ballmer scrawled his name across the silver casing much to the delight of the onlookers, adding "Need a new one?"
Myxer, the Florida-based website which claims the Internet's largest catalogs of free ringtones, wallpapers, videos, applications, and games, has put together its inaugural report analyzing the download behavior of 30 million Android and iPhone users.
According to Myxer's data, Android users downloaded seven times as many freebie offerings as iPhone users in 2009. During that time, visits to Myxer's mobile site from users on the Android OS grew by 350 percent, compared to a 170 percent growth rate among iPhone users.
So what does it all mean? Myxer doesn't offer an explanation of why it thinks Android users downloaded so much more content than those on the iPhone, but even so, the two demographics combined don't account for the bulk of downloads. Blackberry owners dominate the free download scene, at least on Myxer's site, accounting for almost 70 percent.
Following a series of cyberattacks on Google and 33 other large-scale U.S. institutions suspected to have originated from China, Google earlier this week said it would delay the China launch of a pair of cell phones made by Samsung and Motorola. But if there was any fear that Google would attempt to stop all Android-based smartphones from launching overseas, you can put those concerns to rest. According to Lenovo, the company has every intention of releasing its Android-based LePhone in China this May, The Wall Street Journal reports.
"LePhone uses the Android operating system but we tailor our phones with our own applications. We are cooperating with other major Chinese Internet service providers including Sina, Sohu, and Tencent," said Lenovo Chief Technology Officer He Zhiquiang.
Meanwhile, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said his company remains "quite committed" to staying in China, but how that plays out is anyone's guess. Google last week also vowed to no longer censor its Chinese website, even if it led to halting operations in the country. This was reiterated on Thursday when Schmidt said his company will make changes to its now-censored search results in a "reasonably short time."
Talk about a potential turnaround. As it currently stands, some 90 percent of ultra-mobile devices (UMDs) shipped in 2009 sport a x86 processor inside, leaving little room for other architectures. But according to ABI Research, the introduction of ARM-based systems is set to shake things up, and in a big way. ABI says that by 2013, UMD shipments of netbooks, MIDs, smartbooks, and UMPCs based on the ARM architecture will jump ahead of x86-based devices.
"The important netbook segment of the UMD market is now moving into its second generation, and a growing number of netbooks based on ARM platforms are now appearing in the market, a trend no doubt helped by the perception that ARM-based systems are heavily oriented towards an 'always connected' mode of operation," ABI Research says. "Additionally, ARM-based products are coming out in a growing variety of different form-factors including tablets."
Jeff Orr, a senior analyst with ABI, describes the movement as "not a tidal wave, but a rising tide." He's referring to the growing number of laptops and netbooks with embedded or attached modems, which have contributed to a "significantly greater amount of traffic to 3G networks than smartphones do," a further sign that ARM processors are taking over, he says.