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Posts Tagged ‘Mobile Platform’

Verizon plans big Windows Phone push for the holidays

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Verizon Wireless chief financial officer Fran Shammo said the company is looking to market a third mobile platform to help develop a strong competitor to Apple and Google. That operating system will be Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 8. “We’re really looking at the Windows Phone 8.0 platform because that’s a differentiator. We’re working with Microsoft on it,” Shammo said in an interview with Reuters following the company’s earnings call on Thursday. The carrier expects to have Windows Phone 8-powered handsets in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season. The executive suggested that Verizon could play a similar role in helping Microsoft’s platform to grow as it did with Google’s Android OS.


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Conflicting reports question Windows Phone 8 upgrade plans

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Following reports of a Windows Phone developer evangelist claiming that every Windows Phone 7.5 device currently on the market will receive an upgrade to Microsoft’s next-generation Windows Phone 8 operating system, doubt has been cast over the accuracy of his claims. In an interview with Portuguese technology news site Zwame, Microsoft developer evangelist Nuno Silva stated that all current devices would eventually be updated to the ”next major version” of Microsoft’s mobile platform. A subsequent report from The Verge contradicts Silva’s claims, however, and cites an anonymous source in stating that devices running Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” will not be upgraded to Windows Phone 8 “Apollo.” Microsoft would not clarify its upgrade plans. ”We have stated publicly that all apps in our Marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. “Beyond that, we have nothing to share about future releases.”

Read [Zwame] Read [The Verge]

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Angry Birds Space won’t land on Windows Phone, Redmond gets no stars

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

While no doubt swathes of Android and iOS users have experienced massive productivity slumps since Angry Birds Space came out this week, Windows Phone owners will be left staring at their spreadsheets. Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer, at Rovio has told Bloomberg that there are no plans to release the latest iteration of the popular time sink on Microsoft’s mobile platform. Despite the original game still being the most popular app in the Marketplace, Vesterbacka claims that “…it’s a big undertaking to support it, and you have to completely rewrite the application.” So, until a Series 40 version is confirmed, you bird slingin’ Nokia fans will just have to wait.

Angry Birds Space won’t land on Windows Phone, Redmond gets no stars originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 23 Mar 2012 07:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Angry Birds Space won’t land on Windows Phone, Redmond gets no stars

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

While no doubt swathes of Android and iOS users have experienced massive productivity slumps since Angry Birds Space came out this week, Windows Phone owners will be left staring at their spreadsheets. Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer, at Rovio has told Bloomberg that there are no plans to release the latest iteration of the popular time sink on Microsoft’s mobile platform. Despite the original game still being the most popular app in the Marketplace, Vesterbacka claims that “…it’s a big undertaking to support it, and you have to completely rewrite the application.” So, until a Series 40 version is confirmed, you bird slingin’ Nokia fans will just have to wait.

Angry Birds Space won’t land on Windows Phone, Redmond gets no stars originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 23 Mar 2012 07:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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ComScore: More than 100 million smartphone users now in U.S.

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Market research firm comScore on Tuesday released the results of a three-month study on the U.S. mobile phone industry. Android and iOS continued to grow between November and January, gaining 2.3% and 1.4% respectively. Google’s mobile platform topped the charts with a total market share of 48.6%, while Apple managed to capture a 29.5% share. Research in Motion and Microsoft, however, continued to tumble, falling 2% and 1% in the same period. After surveying more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers, comScore found Samsung to be the top handset manufacturer with a 25.4% market share. The company was followed by LG with a 19.7% share, Motorola with 13.2%, Apple with 12.8% and RIM with a 6.6% share. The research firm also found that the number of U.S. smartphone subscribers increased 13% since October and surpassed 100 million users for a total of 101.3 million. ComScore’s press release follows below.

comScore Reports January 2012 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share

More Than 100 Million U.S. Mobile Subscribers Now Use Smartphones

RESTON, VA, March 6, 2012 – comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released data from the comScore MobiLens service, reporting key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three month average period ending January 2012. The study surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers and found Samsung to be the top handset manufacturer overall with 25.4 percent market share. Google Android continued to grow its share in the smartphone market, accounting for 48.6 percent of smartphone subscribers.

OEM Market Share

For the three-month average period ending in January, 234 million Americans age 13 and older used mobile devices. Device manufacturer Samsung ranked as the top OEM with 25.4 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers, followed by LG with 19.7 percent share and Motorola with 13.2 percent share. Apple continued to capture share in the OEM market with 12.8 percent of total mobile subscribers (up 2.0 percentage points), while RIM rounded out the top five with 6.6 percent.

Smartphone Platform Market Share

The number of U.S. smartphone subscribers surpassed the 100-million mark in January, up 13 percent since October to 101.3 million subscribers. Google Android ranked as the top smartphone platform with 48.6 percent market share (up 2.3 percentage points) followed by Apple with 29.5 percent market share (up 1.4 percentage points). RIM ranked third with 15.2 percent share, followed by Microsoft (4.4 percent) and Symbian (1.5 percent).

Mobile Content Usage

In January, 74.6 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 2.8 percentage points. Downloaded applications were used by 48.6 percent of subscribers (up 4.8 percentage points), while browsers were used by 48.5 percent (up 4.5 percentage points). Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 3.4 percentage points to 35.7 percent of mobile subscribers. Game-playing was done by 31.8 percent of the mobile audience (up 2.6 percentage points), while 24.5 percent listened to music on their phones (up 3.3 percentage points).

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Nokia PureView technology confirmed for Lumia Windows Phone family

Monday, March 5th, 2012

During Nokia’s press conference at Mobile World Congress 2012, the Finnish smartphone maker introduced the Nokia 808 PureView. The handset is equipped with a jaw-dropping 41 megapixel camera, a 1.3GHz single-core processor, 512MB of RAM and the dated Symbian Belle operating system. The high resolution 41 megapixel sensor features Carl Zeiss optics and new pixel oversampling technology that allows you to zoom in without any loss of clarity when taking pictures at low resolutions. Nokia’s VP of Marketing, Jo Harlow, confirmed to Finnish newspaper Aamulehti that its PureView technology is heading to the Windows Phone mobile platform as a part of the Lumia series of smartphones. Harlow said that “it will not take very long” for the feature to come to its Windows Phone handsets, although he didn’t give a precise timeframe.

[Via WPCentral]


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Steve Jobs used patents to pressure Bill Gates into 1997 investment in Apple

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was no stranger to legal battles involving the patent system. Apple is currently waging war on a number of Android vendors and the company’s former CEO vowed to crush Google’s mobile platform before his untimely passing last year. ”I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography of the Apple boss. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.” But more than a decade before the iPhone even existed, Apple was locked in patent battles with Microsoft that would end up saving the company from the brink of bankruptcy. Read on for more.

Microsoft’s 1997 investment in Apple is now a major bullet point in Apple’s history that is known the world over. As Apple struggled to stay alive, Jobs and his team managed to secure a $150 million investment that ended up helping to keep the company afloat long enough to begin a climb that would eventually see it become the most valuable company in the world.

An important piece of the story that often isn’t discussed, however, is that Jobs used the legal battles in which Apple and Microsoft were engaged at the time to convince Gates to work out a new software deal and, ultimately, to make a $150 million investment in Apple. From Walter Isaacson’s Jobs biography, as quoted by Forbes:

I called up Bill and said, “I’m going to turn this thing around.” Bill always had a soft spot for Apple. We got him into the application software business. The first Microsoft apps were Excel and Word for the Mac. So I called him and said, “I need help.” Microsoft was walking over Apple’s patents. I said, “If we kept up our lawsuits, a few years from now we could win a billion-dollar patent suit. You know it, and I know it. But Apple’s not going to survive that long if we’re at war. I know that. So let’s figure out how to settle this right away. All I need is a commitment that Microsoft will keep developing for the Mac and an investment by Microsoft in Apple so it has a stake in our success.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

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Welcome to the post-post-PC era: A review of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Apple’s iOS platform seemed to come out of nowhere and take the world by storm in 2007. The introduction of the first-generation iPhone set in motion a chain of events that lead up to the holiday quarter in 2011, when Apple recorded the most profitable quarter in technology history thanks mainly to unbelievable iPhone, iPod touch and iPad sales. No platform is selling as quickly as Apple’s mobile platform right now, but iOS is still in its infancy and the fact remains: as hot as iOS is right now, and as popular as smartphones and media tablets are, no platform installed base on the planet even comes close to approaching the size of Windows right now.

The Future

Microsoft said this past December that there are now more than 1.25 billion PCs running the Windows operating system. Billion, with a “B.” Smartphones are the hottest segment in consumer electronics right now and people are buying Apple’s iPad in droves, but even still, more people around the world rely on Windows than ever before. This is because the software that powers countless businesses from the ground up is built on Windows. From web browsers to accounting software to point-of-sale systems to 3D animation software to word processors to custom proprietary solutions and far, far beyond… Entire industries are built on Windows.

The future is anything but “post-PC.”

We are now entering the post-post-PC era, and its focus is the PC. A new, smarter, more versatile PC. A PC that lets users browse the web casually in bed and work with massive databases in SQL Server. A PC that can run a $0.99 news reader as well as it can run proprietary $99,000 CRM software. A PC that is as ideal for playing Angry Birds as it is for running a modeling environment that allows its user to build schematics for a skyscraper. This is the future of computing.

That is not to say Windows 8 is an “iPad killer” or that media tablets are going away. Far from it. While their functionality may overlap in a number of areas, light-duty tablets and full-fledged PCs serve different purposes and will continue to coexist for some time. What we will see, however, is media tablets becoming more capable and more powerful as PCs become better suited for touch input. At some point down the road the two categories may merge, but neither will “win” or “lose.”

The OS

I’ve spent the past week playing with and working on a Samsung tablet powered by Microsoft’s new operating system. It’s nice to be able to work and play on the same tablet.

While Windows 8 is not quite in a state where it is ready to be released to the public, it is a completely different beast than the Developer Preview Microsoft released more than five months ago. During a meeting with Microsoft executives, I was told that the Consumer Preview version of Windows 8 includes tens of thousands of changes compared to the version that was released to developers in September. Thousands of changes are system-level items that I’m sure I didn’t notice, but thousands more are user-facing changes that have helped improve the user experience dramatically.

One of my favorite features is the implementation of swipe gestures. As can be seen in the second and third images within our Windows 8 screenshot gallery, Microsoft has tweaked the main menus used to navigate the OS and perform a variety of key functions. While using a touchscreen to interface with Windows 8, these menus are opened using gestures.

A swipe from the bezel around the screen in from the right opens the start menu, which includes a search button to search for files and apps, a share button to share the current page via email or using other services, a start button, a devices button that lists devices connected to your PC, and a settings button that provides quick access to basic settings such as brightness and speaker volume, as well as a link to more system settings. A swipe in from the left switches between open apps, and a swipe in from the left and back out to the edge of the display opens the app-switcher. Within an app, a swipe down from the top or up from the bottom opens app-specific menus.

While using a keyboard and mouse, gestures from the sides are replaced by keyboard shortcuts or mouse touches to the corners of the screen. A touch to the top-right or bottom-right corner mimics a swipe in from the right and opens the start menu while a touch to the top-left or bottom-left corners opens the app-switcher.

There are countless other great features new Windows 8 Consumer Preview; from picture password, an enhanced security feature that lets the user unlock a PC by tracing preset patterns on an image of his or her choosing instead of using a simple alphanumeric password, to “roaming,” which automatically syncs settings, apps and other data between different Windows 8 computers. While one convertible slate can handle duties as a tablet, notebook and desktop computer, Windows 8 is all about choice. Some users may opt for a single device while others will want a lightweight 7-inch ARM-based tablet in addition to an eight-core beast of a desktop PC.

In terms of performance, Windows 8 exhibited the smoothness and stability we’ve come to expect in a post-Vista world, and this is just a preview version. There were hiccups, of course, but overall the experience was vastly superior than it has been with any other version of Windows. The setup is remarkably fast and easy, touch responsiveness is iPad-like and I was quite impressed with the versatility of this platform. To understand the concept of one device for work and for play is one thing. To sit in bed hopping around lightweight apps and then walk over to your desk, dock your tablet, and have desktop-grade productivity software running on the same device is something else entirely.

The machine I tested Windows 8 on is a pre-release dockable Samsung tablet with a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. Yes, it’s a tablet with a fan. It’s also a tablet that can run your existing desktop-grade enterprise software, consumer software and lightweight Metro-style apps. Get over it.

The Endgame

Windows 8 gives us a glimpse at the future of computing, but it’s not quite there yet. While the version I spent time with is merely the Consumer Preview and not the release build of Windows 8, it gives us a very good idea of what Microsoft’s new operating system will look like when it launches. The concept is fantastic and I very much like Microsoft’s execution thus far, but it still feels like a marriage of two completely different operating systems rather than a fusion of two experiences.

This is by design, in part. Because the function of a true PC varies so greatly from the function of a media tablet (as we know this category of devices today), Microsoft has created separate experiences for each category. There is a tablet experience with the fantastic Metro UI, a desktop experience reminiscent of Windows 7, and a bit of overlap with each, intended to create some amount of cohesiveness. The end result, however, is not a consistent experience.

There is a disconnect that can be felt across Windows 8. Again, this is mostly by design. In what I call “tablet mode,” the user is presented with an interface that is quite clearly built to be touched. It is characterized by a cascade of large tiles that display live data and can be poked to open apps. The Metro-style apps that are revealed house nice big buttons and a touch-friendly design. Metro-style apps also take up every last pixel of the display, which is a fantastic canvas on which developers can paint terrific experiences.

In “desktop mode,” Windows 8 has the look and feel of Windows 7. In fact, it basically is Windows 7. There are some elements of Metro that spill over into desktop mode — such as the app-switcher and Windows Phone-like lock screen, which displays notifications from up to five apps — but they are effectively completely separate platforms.

Desktop mode has not been optimized for touch at all. In fact, tapping in a text field while no physical keyboard is attached to the tablet doesn’t even bring up the virtual keyboard. Instead, the user must tap on a small keyboard icon in the task bar to open the keyboard, and then he or she must tap another two buttons to close the keyboard once finished typing. And while typing in desktop mode, by the way, I found that the keyboard often obscured the text field in which I was typing.

Perhaps I can better illustrate my point about the disconnect with this simple example:

Windows 8 ships with two completely separate web browsers. One is called “Internet Explorer”. The other is called “Internet Explorer.”

Internet Explorer is a fantastic Metro-style browser that is designed with touch in mind. Controls are large and easy to poke, menus retract and let web pages occupy every inch of the display, and pages load lightning-fast in this lightweight tablet browser. Then, in desktop mode, users can browse the web using Internet Explorer, the same robust web browser hundreds of millions of people currently use around the world on their Windows PCs.

Confused yet?

Microsoft’s inclusion of two completely different web browsers that share the exact same name is indicative of the separation present in Windows 8. One tablet OS and one desktop OS, together on the same machine.

In the end, this disconnect is probably a good thing for now. Windows users come in all shapes and sizes, and millions of people who will upgrade to Windows 8 in the coming years will be terrified of doing so. They are used to Windows as we know it today, and the look and feel of Metro is a complete departure from the Windows they currently rely on day in and day out. After the initial shock wears off, these people who are so scared of change will find themselves eased into the new Windows because desktop mode is so familiar, and because “tablet mode” is so separate from it.

But this is not the future of post-post-PCs.

Windows 8 is the tip of the iceberg. The start of a shift that will eventually see the “tablet” UI and the “desktop” UI merge into one comprehensive user experience. Apple is taking a different approach; as we’re seeing in OS X Mountain Lion, Apple is slowly readying its desktop user interface for a touch environment by taking some of the elements from its gorgeous mobile UI and adapting them for desktop computers. This varies dramatically from the path Microsoft is taking with Windows 8, but the endgame is the same: one experience that is as capable as it is versatile, and as user-friendly as it is beautiful.

This is the future of computing.

Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview will become available to the general public on Wednesday as a free download with an initial cache of more than 100 apps in the Store, all of which will be free during the preview period.

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Apple’s iOS accounts for 35% of mobile ad impressions in January, passes Android

Friday, February 24th, 2012

InMobi, the largest independent mobile advertising network, on Friday announced its “Mobile Insights Report: North American Edition” for the month of January, reports AppleInsider. Thanks to the launch of the iPhone 4S, Apple’s iOS mobile platform surged 12 points to surpass Google’s Android operating system in North American ad impressions. Apple’s share of 23.2% in October of 2011 increased to 35.3% in January, with Android losing 3.2% in the same time frame for a 32.7% share in January. Research in Motion’s BlackBerry mobile platform dropped 8.9% from October to January to an 11.6% share. “The iOS growth we are seeing may be attributed to the tremendous success of iPhone 4S and iPad in the ecosystem,” said Anne Frisbie, vice president and managing director for InMobi’s North American operations. “Overall, we are excited to see InMobi’s available impressions exceed 55 billion in North America, and look forward to continuing our rapid growth through 2012.” The data comes from InMobi’s advertising network, which serves more than 93.4 billion ad impressions around the world each month.


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Android 5.0 ‘Jelly Bean’ could push fragmentation to new heights

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Despite the fact that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is only found on a handful of Android devices — Ice Cream Sandwich penetration currently sits at 1%, just as it did more than one month ago — a new report suggests Google is preparing to launch the next major build of its mobile platform as early as next quarter. Citing unnamed sources within Taiwan-based component suppliers, DigiTimes on Thursday reports that Google is likely to launch Android 5.0 (Jelly Bean) in the second quarter. While details are still limited, the report claims Android 5.0 will again focus on tablets and introduce an interesting new feature. Read on for more.

Seemingly wary about the potential threat from Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform, Google’s next-generation Android OS will feature a new dual-boot function according to DigiTimes. Jelly Bean will reportedly be optimized for tablets and it will “integrate [Google's] Chrome system functions to push dual-operating system designs.” Google is supposedly planning to encourage vendors to build dual-boot devices, which would be able to run both Android 5.0 and Windows 8.

The report also suggests Google may be eying the notebook and netbook markets with Android 5.0. Android 3.0 Honeycomb was a tablet-only OS, and Google then unified its mobile platform with Android 4.0, which is optimized for both smartphones and tablets. This new report seems to suggest Google is shifting the focus of Android 5.0 back to tablets and maybe even to notebooks in light of Chrome OS’s slow adoption.

Android 5.0 may already be facing challenges, however, as the report claims Google’s Android partners are “turning conservative about Android 5.0″ due to Android 4.0′s slow adoption thus far. A number of vendors are currently working on updating their recent devices to Android 4.0, and several Ice Cream Sandwich-powered smartphones and tablets will be unveiled later this month at Mobile World Congress.

If DigiTimes’s report turns out to be accurate, Google could be pushing Android fragmentation to new heights with Jelly Bean. Vendors like Motorola plan to roll out Android 4.0 updates for their devices over the course of the second and third quarters, and Ice Cream Sandwich may already be obsolete by the time it finally arrives on these smartphones and tablets.

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Android to overtake iOS and become the top mobile platform for developers

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Over the next 12 months, Google’s Android operating system will become the favorite platform among mobile developers, according to research firm Ovum. Nearly all developers, however, will support both mobile platforms. While Apple’s iOS and Android have long been the favorites, Ovum said there is growing developer interest in both Windows Phone and BlackBerry operating systems. “The growing momentum behind Windows Phone indicates that Microsoft has managed to convince developers that its platform is worthy of investment; its challenge now is to persuade consumers,” said Ovum analyst Adam Leach. The research also showed that developers are moving away from traditional mobile development applications such as Java and Flash. Developers are instead focusing their efforts on the web-based HTML5 standard, which is becoming the preferred approach to building cross-platform applications. “A smartphone platform’s success is dictated not only by the pull of consumers and the push of both handset vendors and mobile operators but also a healthy economy of applications delivered by third-party developers,” said Leach. “Therefore, it is important for all players in the smartphone ecosystem to understand the choices developers are making today and the downstream impact of those choices.”


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Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra hands-on

Sunday, January 8th, 2012
Acer Asprire Timeline Ultra

Ultrabooks aren’t necessarily just for those that want tiny ultraportables — Acer also thinks the mainstream consumer is going to be keen on the extended battery life and slimmer profile afforded by Intel’s latest mobile platform. The Aspire Timeline Ultra series is an extension of the beloved Timeline… line, in the 14- and 15-inch sizes that attract the vast majority of buyers. We got hand on with the two larger ultrabook models which you can check out in the galleries below.


Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra hands-on originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 08 Jan 2012 17:38:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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HTC Radiant and Samsung Mandel Windows Phones leaked with 4G LTE support

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

HTC and Samsung are both preparing to announce new Windows Phone devices with 4G LTE support, and a few details on the phones were leaked Thursday. HTC’s device is currently codenamed “Radiant” while Samsung’s is codenamed “Mandel,” The Verge said. Both phones will reportedly run an “early build” of Windows Phone Tango that offers full support for LTE, a connectivity option that Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) does not support. The Samsung Mandel will allegedly have a screen that’s even larger than the 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display on the Focus S, but its exact dimensions are still unknown. Verizon Wireless has only ever offered a single Windows Phone device to date, so it’s possible that these phones could fill out its Windows Phone portfolio. We wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of them lands on AT&T’s shelves, though, which have been more welcoming to Microsoft’s mobile platform. It’s possible we will hear more information during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show next month, since The Verge says both phones should land early next year.


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IT pros far more interested in Android than iOS for mobile app development

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

IT professionals around the world are collectively more interested in developing and deploying mobile applications for Google’s Android platform than any other mobile OS. A new study conducted by IBM and published earlier this week included data from more than 4,000 IT professionals around the world, offering insights into a number of technology trends in 2011 and beyond. No space is hotter than mobile right now, and IBM’s survey found that 70% of IT pros are planning to develop and deploy applications for the Android platform. Read on for more.

Despite becoming increasingly popular in the enterprise space, iOS development only garnered interest from 49% of respondents. Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform found itself in the sights of 35% of IT professionals polled and the BlackBerry operating system, once the overwhelming leader among businesses around the world, is being targeted by just 25% of respondents.

“Mobile computing is firmly established in the marketplace and offers a means for IT professional growth as more and more organizations build applications,” IBM stated in its report. “Developers looking to increase their mobile skills would be smart to look to Android. With its large and growing global install base, Android is ranked as being the top mobile platform over the next 24 months. This open source platform based on Java and XML offers a much shorter learning curve, and this contributes to its popularity with IT professionals. iOS remains strong in the U.S. and other developed countries.”

IBM also found that three out of four survey respondents are currently working on mobile computing solutions in some capacity, and that figure is expected to grow to 85% within the next two years. “As an effective channel in reaching many users and as a means of increasing the productivity and efficiency of an organization’s workforce, mobile is viewed by respondents as the second most ‘in demand’ area for software development,” the report said. Enterprise and industry-specific applications are among the top areas of focus, while entertainment and gaming are obviously at the bottom of the list for most IT professionals.

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HP may decide fate of webOS tonight

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

HP is reportedly holding a meeting Tuesday night during which it may decide the fate of its webOS mobile platform, The Verge reported on Tuesday. The meeting will take place after the market closes and will be led by CEO Meg Whitman at 4:30 p.m. PST. According to Reuters, HP has been toying with the idea of selling the unit and possible suitors include Amazon, Intel, Oracle, Research In Motion and IBM. The potential sale will likely fetch far less than the $1.2 billion that HP paid to acquire Palm in 2010. HP originally said it was killing off webOS hardware in August, and recent reports have suggested HP will soon put the final nail in the webOS coffin and subsequently lay off 500 webOS employees

Read [The Verge] Read [Reuters]

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HTC Titan review

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is in a peculiar place right now. Those who use the year-old mobile operating system typically offer glowing accounts of their experiences, but adoption has been anything but brisk. Carriers aren’t pushing Windows Phones with any effort worth noting — in fact, retail staffers at U.S. carrier shops have been known to steer customers away from the platform according to various reports — and in the second quarter of 2011, Microsoft’s share of the mobile market may have hit an all-time low. Microsoft’s deal with Nokia finally bore fruit this week however, and the second wave of Windows Phones has begun trickling out into the market. Among the Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” devices that have been announced to date, one in particular stands taller than the rest, both literally and figuratively. In this review, we take a look at the AT&T-bound HTC Titan to see if it’s worthy of its grandiose moniker.

The Inside

Ever since Microsoft first took the wraps off its next-generation mobile platform “Windows Phone Series 7″ in early 2010, I’ve been intrigued. Like webOS, Microsoft’s operating system appeared to offer a fresh take on the smartphone user experience. When handsets finally started shipping ahead of the holidays last year, Windows Phone delivered. It was fresh, it was unique and it was a pleasure to use. Unfortunately for Microsoft and its partners, however, consumers didn’t seem to care.

Windows Phone was truly a pleasure to use, but it was also quite clearly rushed. I can’t really blame Microsoft for rushing its new mobile platform out the door, of course, as Windows Mobile had effectively been dead for some time already. Android and iOS were crushing the market and Microsoft needed something to lure its vendor partners away from Android. And so Windows Phone 7 was born, but almost immediately dropped off at the orphanage. Vendors didn’t bother promoting the devices, carriers didn’t bother promoting the devices… even Microsoft fell oddly silent as its new platform was cast aside.

Enter Windows Phone 7.5, code-named “Mango” after a fruit so sweet when it’s ripe, it is almost impossible to resist. This was to be the company’s opportunity to regroup and deliver a series of blistering fastballs after a bases-loaded balk saw its opponents’ lead grow wider. All eyes were on London this week as Nokia unveiled its first two Windows Phones, but HTC’s Titan is already upon us, carrying Microsoft’s latest mobile OS on what is likely the largest display it will ever see.

The HTC Titan is a beast. Its 4.7-inch display gives Windows Phone a canvas that is nearly tablet-like, and the 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor driving the device makes one of the world’s smoothest operating system even smoother. In the two weeks I have been carrying the Titan, I have yet to see a crash, bogging, lag, or anything else of the sort. I can’t even say that about iOS.

Animations flutter about on the Titan, and native apps open into a usable state in the blink of an eye. The user interface is unbelievably smooth, and the UI “sticks” to one’s finger during navigation just as well as iOS. Scrolling in apps is also lag-free, though inertia scrolling is still a bit off. When the user releases a finger following a flick, the scroll seems to accelerate at the same rate regardless of how hard the user flicks. It’s awkward but hardly a major problem.

My biggest performance-related issue is the amount of time it takes most apps to refresh with new data. On AT&T’s HSPA network, data speeds are fast and latency is quite low. I regularly saw download speeds of between 2Mbps and 4Mbps during my tests in and around New York City, and upload speeds hovered between 1Mbps and 1.5Mbps while connected to HSPA. Even still, it can take 5, 6 or even 10 seconds or more for an app to refresh with even the smallest amount of new data. I haven’t quite pinpointed the culprit yet — different developers tell me different things, though everyone I’ve spoken with recognizes the issue — but I suspect that it’s often a combination of the OS and developers’ inexperience with coding apps for it.

Beyond that, I can’t stress enough how much I’m enjoying Mango. The “tombstoning” feature akin to application state-saving in iOS is implemented quite well, and apps that take advantage of it load from the background almost instantly. Enhanced multitasking features in the next major Windows Phone release will bring even more capabilities to developers and users alike, but the current solution is fast and elegant.

The Outside

The Titan is huge. There’s no reason to beat around the bush.

Supersized smartphones are becoming more popular each month — probably due in large part to the fact that vendors are flooding the market — and there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to carrying a phone this massive.

At 5.18-inches tall by 2.78-inches wide by 0.39-inches thick, the Titan is even bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S II. At 160 grams, it’s also more than 20 grams heavier. I like a heavy phone, and the Titan’s solid build and high-quality materials are more than worth the added heft to me. The majority of the smartphone’s case is comprised of beautiful brushed aluminum, save for a small rubber-feel area near the top of the rear case and a larger one at the bottom where the antenna sits.

Across the top of the phone sits a power/lock/unlock button, a small hole for the noise-canceling mic and a 3.5-millimeter audio jack. The right edge of the device is home to a slim two-stage camera button that sits beneath an equally slim volume rocker, and the left edge sports a lone micro-USB port. The bottom houses only the phone’s main microphone and a battery door release button.

On the rear of the device is a sizable camera lens flanked by a dual-LED flash and a speaker. I’ll discuss the camera more extensively a bit later. The face of the phone is made up almost entirely of smooth, oil-resistant glass. Three customary capacitive Windows Phones buttons sit across the bottom, and a front-facing camera is positioned near the top below the phone’s ear speaker. Voice calling is quite clear on the Titan, and the speaker gets loud enough to be used comfortably in noisy environments.

One thing that should not be overlooked about the exterior of the Titan is the design. Like the Sensation, HTC’s Titan features a unique unibody design that has the rear case of the device wrap around the side and top. The “guts” of the phone then sit inside the case, creating a design that positions all seams directly around the display. The result is not only gorgeous, it also means there are no uncomfortable seams to be felt by the user’s hands.

The Upside

As a complete package, the Titan is easily one of my favorite Windows Phone to date. The build is phenomenal and the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system is like greased lightning. I’m also a huge fan of live tiles.

Microsoft’s home screen UI, for those unfamiliar with Windows Phone, is tile-based. It is comprised of a grid of square and rectangular tiles that cascade endlessly. The result is a tidy home base that provides a welcome alternative to static icons. These tiles, if enabled, provide the user with information dynamically and can be updated frequently.

For example, my favorite simple weather app WeatherLive displays the current temperature, the temperature range for the day, and a graphical representation of the current weather conditions. When it rains, I see a storm cloud and rain drops. When it’s sunny, a big sharp sun covers the bulk of the tile. Another example is my favorite Google Reader-compatible RSS Reader, Wonder Reader. When enabled, the app periodically flashes headlines across the tile to let me know I have new articles waiting to be read. Messaging apps display unread counts, the Photo Hub cycles through images stored on the device, my Xbox Live avatar dances around the Games tile, and so on.

Beyond the tiles, there are a few other new features in Mango that I really enjoy. First and foremost, tombstoning and basic multitasking support are implemented quite well. Enabled apps close in a frozen state and holding down the back button for a second quickly brings up the task switcher UI. Transition animations are subtle but appreciated, and jumping between apps is lightning fast.

I also like that Mango brings Wi-Fi tethering to Windows Phones. The Internet Sharing service on the Titan is buried in the system settings in Windows Phone rather than being granted a dedicated app that I might be able to pin to the home screen, but I still appreciated having one less device to carry while testing the Titan. Wi-Fi tethering is available on a number of smartphones these days, but I typically find it unusable due to the inevitable battery drain. The Titan’s 1,600 mAh battery held up nicely even after about 30 minutes of Internet Sharing, however, and Mango includes a nifty feature: if no devices connect to the phone after a few minutes, tethering is automatically turned off. Also, if you’re tethered and then you disconnect all devices from the phone, Internet Sharing will automatically turn off after a few idle minutes. It’s one less thing to worry about.

The camera on the Titan shocked me. This has traditionally been a very weak point for HTC phones — very, very weak — but the 8-megapixel camera on the Titan captures terrific still images. The color and clarity in photos taken by the Titan is on par with the likes of Zeiss-equipped Nokia handsets and the iPhone 4S, and future Titan owners can certainly plan to ditch their point-and-shoot cameras. It also captures high-quality 720p HD video content, though the lack of an HDMI-out port or even an adapter is something of a disappointment.

Finally, Windows Phone still provides what, in my opinion, is the hands-down best email experience on any mobile platform. The UI in the email app is gorgeous and lightning fast, and it’s simple to drill down to unread items, urgent items or flagged items with a quick flick. On the Titan, the humongous display only makes things better. Productivity is the same story. Microsoft’s mobile Office suite is a joy to use for creating and editing Word documents or Excel spreadsheets, and the SkyDrive integration provides easy access to remote files to ensure that the same documents are available on your phone and your computer.

The Downside

Again, the Titan is huge. While I have gotten somewhat used to the mammoth device over the course of the the past two weeks, it’s just still too big for me.

Consumers love giant smartphones. Vendors keep cranking them out and people keep buying them. While there are numerous and obvious advantages to big smartphone displays, there are also several drawbacks and the negative outweighs the positive for me.

On the one hand, the huge screen affords a great canvas for emails, web pages, images and video. On the other hand, stretching 480 x 800-pixel resolution over a panel that measures 4.7-inches diagonally means clarity and sharpness suffer. Usability suffers as well, and a perfect example is the back button. On Windows Phone devices, the back button is extremely important. There is often no way to navigate back one screen from within the UI, and holding down the capacitive back key also brings up the application switcher. While holding the device in my right hand, however, I cannot reach the back button at all. Not even close.

I also can’t reach the lock/unlock button without repositioning the device in my hand, though this is infinitely less important than the back key. This button is crucial to the operation of the device, and one-handed use is often my preferred method of operation. It just doesn’t work. Samsung solved the problem by repositioning the back button on its giant Galaxy S II smartphone to make it accessible during one-handed use. This of course left the menu key just out of reach, but better that than the back button.

Somewhere around 4-inches lies the sweet spot for me, and a scaled down device like the Titan with a display around that size would likely be my ideal Windows Phone.

My only other serious complaint about the Titan applies to Windows Phone in general rather than to this particular smartphone, and that is the third-party app situation. It’s improving every day, and Nokia’s arrival on the scene will only help accelerate developer adoption. Today, however, things are not where they need to be.

I cannot for the life of me find a decent Twitter app, for example. There are a handful of usable options — I’ve landed on Seesmic for the time being — but they’re all slow and clunky. This goes back to my earlier note that data calls take entirely too long. Microsoft needs to fix this problem because it can be quite off-putting, especially in areas with sparse cellular coverage. The Metro interface is beautiful, but it loses its allure quickly when a data refresh takes 10 seconds.

Today, Windows Phone is often an afterthought for developers and the selection in the Windows Marketplace reflects that. This will change, and Mango introduced new APIs and capabilities that afford developers more flexibility. Right now however, there are many go-to apps that I simply can’t find in the Marketplace, and I suspect many users coming from more established platforms will make the same claim.

The Bottom Line

HTC’s Titan is a smartphone worthy of its name. More importantly, it is also worthy of consumers’ consideration because it really is a fantastic device. The hardware and build are class-leading, the display is bright and clear, the 8-megapixel camera captures gorgeous images, and the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system is a breath of fresh air.

Size matters. For me, bigger isn’t always better and the Titan’s towering stature is a turn off. Many smartphone buyers enjoy large handsets however, and if you fall into that category I sincerely doubt you’ll be able to find a better Windows Phone anywhere in the world right now.

AT&T will launch the HTC Titan some time this fall.

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Millennial: Android usage doubled iOS in Q3, iPad king of tablets with 456% growth

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Usage of Google’s mobile platform across the Millennial network doubled iOS in the third quarter according to new data just released by Millennial Media. After representing 54% of impressions served by the mobile ad network in August, Android finished strong to account for 56% of impressions in the September quarter. That figure doubled iOS in the No. 2 spot with 28% during the quarter, and it dwarfed RIM’s 13% share. Symbian accounted for just 1% of impressions and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Windows Phone platforms combined to also account for 1% of impressions. The iPad dominated tablets, having grown a whopping 456% between the third quarter in 2010 and this past quarter, and impressions across iOS grew 60% over the same period. Apple was the top manufacturer on Millennial’s network in the third quarter with a 23.09% share followed by Samsung (16.48%), HTC (15.5%), RIM (11.05%) and Motorola (10.7%). Apple’s iPhones were also the top handset line with a 12.55% share, more than double the No. 2 device line, LG’s Optimus phones, which accounted for 6.3% of impressions served. RIM’s BlackBerry Curve line was next with 4.7% followed by Motorola DROID phones with 4.35% and the HTC desire with 4.01%. Additional charts from Millennial’s third-quarter Mobile Mix report follow below.


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