PC makers have been decrying the impact of low margin netbooks on their bottom line for over a year now, but Intel is trying to calm their fears by making new predictions for the future of mobile computing. Numbers posted at the end of March peg netbook sales at around 16 per cent of all portable computer purchases, but Intel claims the steadily decreasing cost of ultra-thin laptops will help to keep that number from growing. The ultra-thin category is traditionally dominated by new ultra low voltage CPU’s, which offer better performance than both Celeron, and Atom processors, with an increasingly more reasonable price premium. According to Intel’s marketing chief, Sean Maloney, "Atom is eating into Celeron. And we're quite fine with this".
Maloney predicts that ultra-thin laptops will start offering stiff competition for high end netbooks priced above $400, primarily because the price difference has shrunk in some cases to as little as a $200. Intel’s internal projections released during the May 12th presentation shows sales increasing exponentially near the end of the year, and clearly, this is where they expect to see the bulk of their growth in the portable PC market.
Intel predicts that future growth markets for netbooks will be children and cellphone providers who bundle 3G service with the computer to further subsidize the price to consumers. Do you think people only buy netbooks because they are cheap? Or are some people just looking for a good ultra-portable?
If Google's prediction turns out to be correct, this could very well end up the year of the Android smartphone. According to the search giant, at least 18 mobile phones rocking the open-source OS will be released on the global market before 2010, and maybe as many as 20.
Andy Rubin, senior director for Mobile Platforms for Google, said the devices will be made by eight or nine different manufacturers, but stopped short of saying which manufacturers or which wireless carriers. As it currently stands, there are two Android smartphones on the market - TMobile's G1 in the U.S., and HTC's Magic available in Europe.
The summer looks to sizzle with heated competition in the mobile market. In addition to more Android phones, other contenders include the new Palm OS for the Pre, a new version of Microsoft's mobile version of Windows, and of course Apple's iPhone.
Starting later this year, AT&T will begin upgrading its 3G network to High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 technology, the company announced this week.
"AT&T's network infrastructure gives us a tremendous advantage in that we're able to deliver upgrades in mobile broadband speed and performance with out existing technology platform," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "With the array of smartphones, laptops, and emerging devices taking advantage of AT&T's 3G network today, e know that customers are excited to experience higher mobile broadband speeds, and we are deploying the right technologies at the right times to help them get the most from that experience."
Once the upgrade is complete, AT&T says its network could theoretically peak at 7.2Mbps, however its quick to clarify that real-world downstream and upstream speeds will be less than the theoretical ceiling, dependent upon location, device, network traffic, and other factors.
Intel's ultra-low-powered CULV family of processors are becoming popular choices for many forthcoming ultrathin notebook computers in the $700-$900 range, like MSI's new X-Slim series we told you about in April.
However, you can also use CULV processors in standard-thickness notebook computers, and according to Digitimes, that's exactly what Hewlett-Packard plans to do. It will roll out ultra-thin models with CULV processors in the fourth quarter, but its first CULV-based products will use standard chassis and will thus be available earlier.
CULV processors are designed to fit between Intel's Atom and its faster Core 2 Duo processors in performance. Will the market put up with a full-sized notebook with a battery-sipping, but slower processor, or should prospective HP CULV buyers wait until late in the year for the new ultraslim chassis? Join us after the jump and sound off.
We don't know if this will become a trend, but accident-prone gamers have little to fear with iBuyPower's new Battalion 101 CZ-10 gaming laptop. The release kicks off the company's new accidental damage protection plan, which comes standard on the Battalion and has gamers' backs in the event of spills or drops.
"We felt it was time to refresh our mainstream gaming notebook line," said Darren Su, VP of iBuyPower. "We are excited by the features and exceptional coverage we are able to offer with the CZ-10 Premium at a very competitive price."
Less exciting is the 15.6-inch Battalion's mishmash of both high and lower end components. Starting from the top and working our way down, the 101 CZ-10 comes equipped with Intel's Core 2 Duo Mobile T9550 processor (2.266GHz, 6MB L2 cache, 1066MHz frontside bus), 4GB of DDR3-1066 RAM, AMD's ATI Radeon HD 4650 graphics, 8X DVD burner, and a 500GB hard drive spinning at 5400RPM.
Other features include four USB 2.0 slots, HDMI, 3-in-1 media card reader, finger print scanner, and 6-cell battery.
The Battalion is available now starting at $1,235.
Some 50 million Nokia owners have reason to rejoice, as the company has now gone live with its Ovi app store, however U.S. residents will have to wait a little longer. So far, Australia, Singapore, Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia, Ireland, the UK are the first countries to gain access, with U.S. availability expected later this year.
Nokia's Ovi Store puts the company in position to compete with Apple's App Store, BackBerry App World, Windows Mobile Marketplace, and the Android Marketplace, plus any others we may have missed. At launch, the Ovi Store boasts some 20,000 items, representing a mix of both free and paid apps, podcasts, wallpapers, and ringtones.
The company's upcoming Nokia N97 is expected to work with the Ovi Store, and AT&T has promised to make the Ovi Store available to its customers later this year.
As netbooks continue to grow in size, you might be left wondering where netbooks end and traditional notebooks begin. The answer is 10.2 inches, assuming news and rumor site DigiTimes has been fed accurate information. Citing un-named sources at Taiwan-based ODM notebook makers, DigiTimes says Microsoft and Intel agreed to decrease the screen-size ceiling for netbooks running Windows 7 from 12.1 inches to 10.2 inches.
Should the restriction be put in place, it would spell the end for 11.6-inch Atom Zxx-based netbooks once Windows 7 launches, the sources said. It could also hamper VIA, who doesn't put any restrictions on how vendors use its CPUs and chipsets. VIA-based netbooks larger than 10.2 inches wouldn't qualify for the lower Windows 7 licensing rates, thereby potentially taking away any advantage VIA might have had in the 11-inch and above market.
If you're a budding developer hoping to get rich by submitting a killer application to the iPhone App Store, keep reading. Or better yet, don't keep reading - far be it for us to take a pin to your balloon with silly statistics and likely scenarios.
For those of you still following along (and planning to retire in month or two once everyone buys your app), don't say you weren't warned. The cold reality is you're not likely to make much bank by selling apps, and what little you might make will take a lot of work. How hard can it possibly be? Just ask Rick Strom, one of the many registered iPhone developers with nearly 20 apps under his belt, three of which are on the chart. These include Zen Jar (#34, paid), Spirit Board (#36, free), and Spirit Board Pro (#95, paid).
"With two apps on the paid charts, one would assume I’m rolling in dough. After all, this is a gold rush, right?," Rick Strom wrote in his blog. "The reality is much more startling. In order to place #34 on the social networking charts, you need 30-35 downloads a day. At the standard app store pricing of .99, and after Apple takes its cut, that means your app needs to bring in a little over $20 a day to chart at that position."
By Strom's math, you'll need to make just $4/day to break into the top 100, and the overwhelming majority of the other 36,000 apps are doing "absolutely nothing. They aren't selling at all."
Strom has plenty more to say on the topic right here.
It's official. Now that Lenovo has announced its Ion-based IdeaPad S12, Intel's Atom platform finally has some competition in the netbook arena.
"We've heard from consumers loud and clear about the need for affordable and extremely portable computing devices, and we've responded by introducing our third netbook with a completely new form factor, making mini-computing more usable and redefining value in today's market," said Dion Weisler, vice president, Business Operations, Idea Product Group, Lenovo. "We are pioneering new territory in the developing netbook arena by being the first vendor to give customers high quality video and entertainment capabilities in a netbook with optional Nvidia Ion graphics."
The new 12-inch netbook comes equipped with an Intel Atom N270 processor (1.6GHz, 533MHz frontside bus, 512KB L2 cache), up to 1GB of DDR2-533 memory, up to a 320GB hard drive, and of course integrated Nvidia Ion graphics, the main selling point of the S12.
GottaBeMobile.com has posted videos of the new ultraportable in action, noting that it's "fully capable of being a primary computer for those with basic needs." And we have to admit, the prospect of HD video and serviceable Call of Duty 4 framerates on a sub-$500 portable is mighty appealing.
Lenovo says the S12 will be available in June through business partners starting at $450, with Nvidia Ion-based units "available later this summer."
According to a report from Piper Jaffray, an international middle market investment firm, Apple might be putting itself in a position to release a netbook sometime in 2010.
Apple hasn't stated publicly any plans to release a low-cost notebook, and such a move would seem to go against the company's M.O. However, the investment firm points out the acquisition of PA Semi, several patents Apple has taken out, and the recent hiring of chip designers as evidence that Apple wants to be more active in the mobile world.
"We are anticipating a new category of Apple products with an operating system more robust than the iPhone’s but optimized for multi-touch, unlike Mac OS X," Piper Jaffray wrote. "The device’s OS could bear a close resemblance to Apple’s mobile OS and run App Store apps, or it could be a modified version of Mac OS X."
The reports suggest Apple could release a touchscreen tablet between 7 and 10 inches for anywhere from $500 to $700, which is out of netbook pricing territory, but might find an audience among those looking for a low-cost Mac. Moreover, the firm says Apple may use a proprietary CPU design.