Out of the Shadow of the iPhone

Samsung Galaxy BeamAt this time of year the technology circus does its tour of the world….CES in Las Vegas, MWC in Barcelona and CeBIT in Hanover, Germany. Interspersed are product launches by major companies like Apple.

When Apple and subsequently Microsoft decided to move away from the industry events and do their own mini-shows, many commentators noted that it was disappointing that the market leaders weren’t going to be attending and predicted the death of the big show. From all the evidence I see, it’s been the best thing that ever happened.

Take Mobile World Congress last week – it was a great show with Samsung, Nokia, HTC, RIM all putting out great phones and tablets. With the figures showing Android well ahead of iOS in the US new handset market and the absence of Apple at the show, it really felt like smartphones had come out from under the shadow of the iPhone. Companies were daring to innovate and be a bit different because the competition is no longer simply about being better than the iPhone, it’s about being better than Android competitors.

HTC’s One line-up might not be earth-shattering but there’s a progression from entry-level to top-end. Samsung continues to produce different sizes and integrate other technologies, such as pico projectors (Galaxy Beam), and Nokia supports its long-term plans in the Windows Phone market while still introducing a bonkers megapixel camera on the older line.

In comparison, Apple would have produced largely the same phone as the last one, only a bit faster, yet would have stolen all the headlines. Great products for sure, but Apple isn’t innovating, it’s perfecting.

The smartphone market is in rude health and it’s great to see genuine innovation and competition rather than the predictable progression of a near monopoly.

Tablets that Failed in 2011 (But Could Come Back in 2012)

Every year, we get new hype of electronics that are suppose to rock their niche. This year, we saw tablets galore. At CES 2011, I personally saw around 8 tablets that disappeared quicker than a fake Apple store in China.

But those tablets that stayed to try and take the market had to deal with the 500 lb gorilla in iPad2. Some did ok, while others failed miserably. That is what were going to look at today.

Cisco Cius

Cisco Cius

Cisco Cius

Knowing that Cisco didn’t want to deal with the consumer market, they decided to go for the business professional. Why not? It worked for Blackberry all these years. Only problem, it still couldn’t cut it.

Cisco Cius is an Android-based tablet that ran 720p, with Wifi, 4G and Bluetooth. It contains Cisco AppHQ, which is Cisco’s business app store. The seven-inch screen had an optional HD media station that could connect USB peripherals, Ethernet access and a handset, turning the Cius into a landline phone.

There is still hope for the Cius, especially in the office that wants to buy $1000 phones. Maybe in 2-3 years, this device will become more utilized.

 

HP TouchPad

HP TouchPad

HP TouchPad

There is no way to sugar coat this, so I am going to say it. HP shot themselves in the collective foot. The HP TouchPad started out just fine. Using HP’s acquired Palm software, the WebOS system had a companion phone in the Pre3. The big feature was the ability to transfer items from the Pre3 to the TouchPad by setting the phone on the tablet.

This tablet was prematurely killed when CEO Leo Apotheker stopped production of WebOS devices in October. It also brought us the first viable $99 tablet, as stores were liquidating.

WebOS has been since deemed Open Source. Maybe the TouchPad will make a resurgence as a collectors item. ITM – HP will most likely come out with a Windows 7 tablet in the future.

 

RIM BlackBerry Playbook

Blackberry Playbook

Blackberry Playbook

RIM has been hurting as of late. Once a staple in business, they seemed to lose a lot of momentum to Apple lately. To really get into the tablet market, they decided to put out the PlayBook, which in all reality, was a pretty impressive tablet.

1 GB of RAM, dual-core 1 GHz processor, Dual HD cameras, and it also worked well with a Blackberry smartphone. The tablet does have a lot of strengths, but the market did not bode well. If it can stand the water, the Playbook might emerge in a year and really show

 

Motorola Xoom

Motorola XOOM

Motorola XOOM

The Xoomtablet was hit hard on specs vs. iPad2. The Xoom’s 10.1 inch display was deemed “Low end”. Resolution is not the only thing about a display. color depth, brightness and contrast are also big factors.

Still, this tablet, which now can be upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) could make a comeback with Xoom2 and a better display. It also has Bluetooth, micro USB and GPS.

Overall, all four of these tablets are still in production. They have some great features and – if a little work goes into them – they could shake up the tablet market in 2012. HP TouchPad would be the only exception.

With the Kindle Fire and Color Nook out in the tablet market, as well as some low-cost tablets ( like the  $99 MIPS Novo7 tablet that came out), 2012 might have some viable alternatives in the tablet market.

I Feel Stupid

Windows Phone 7Over the break, there’s been a bit of discussion by some of the big names regarding the reasons why Windows Phone 7 handsets haven’t been flying off the shelves this holiday season. Charlie Kindel started the debate with “Windows Phone is Superior; Why Hasn’t It Taken Off?” and largely faults the relationship between the OEMs, Microsoft and the carriers.

MG Siegler responded with a fairly weak response largely citing the mantra of “too late and not enough apps” but as can be seen from today’s news of 50,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, the latter argument really isn’t that valid.

As usual, Robert Scoble hits the nail on the head. People buy Android or iOS because it’s a safe bet and they don’t want to look stupid or uncool by buying something else. Microsoft Windows Phone 7 and RIM’s Blackberries simply don’t have the gold-plated appeal of a sure-thing.

And he’s right. I was a big Palm fan and look how that turned out. I do feel stupid. After spending years waiting for Palm to move from PalmOS to WebOS and then HP promising to do big things. I bought in with a succession of Pre phones and pre-ordered a TouchPad. Maybe I shouldn’t be so shallow and have a less of an ego, because WebOS is a great operating system and even with the smaller app selection, it does 99% of what I need a phone to do. But when everyone else is, “Have you got this app and that app” on their Galaxy S IIs and iPhone 4Ss, you do feel a bit of a chump.

So thanks, HP. I feel stupid.

GNC-2011-11-14 #721 CES Ramp Up!

Great to be back in Hawaii and in the Studio. The hard work begins over the next 6 weeks in getting ready for CES 2012. For the first time ever we are going to ask for additional listener / viewer support in helping us for CES 2012. We have produced 1000’s of videos for you and the operation has grown to the point that we want to take care of our support team in a bigger way. I have set a fund raising goal of $5000.00 and hope you will support our endeavor with a $25.00/$50.00/$100.00 donation which will 100% be used to pay our support crew.

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Couple must Give Facebook Password to each Other!
Kindle Fire Review.
Holiday Photo Tips.
NASA Time Lapse Earth!
Intel Announces 4004 Processor 40yrs ago!

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Credits:
Jack Ellis – Executive Producer
Mike Baine – Associate Producer

GNC-2011-11-07 #719 On the Road!

I want to thank the Gadget Professor Don Baine for stepping in while I was in Los Angeles. Many of you asked how to get more of Don’s show, well you can subscribe to The Gadget Professor here at GNC in the second column of the website.. Ok lost of tech and I get you all caught up on the past week.

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FoxCon to build Robot Factory.

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Credits:
Jack Ellis – Executive Producer
Mike Baine – Associate Producer

GNC-2011-10-24 #716 Back to Basics

Back to basics on this show and, I tighten up the timeline. Lots of tech as always and a huge number of comments have come in pre-show… Today I try pulling unique articles from Google+. Hope you like the new sources.

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Tele-Coils
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Tsunami Debris & Hawaii.
Hard Drive Shortage.
Really See Through Walls.

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Credits:
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Windows Phone 7 Data Usage Rising

Mobile data usage has been rising for quite some time now.  But, with the release of the latest Nielsen report on cell phones, there’s some interesting data.  The fastest rise is Windows Phone 7, which has shot up 89% since it’s launch.  As of the November launch (4th Quarter 2010) data usage was at 149 MB, but now, as of the first quarter 2011 (March 2011), data usage has climbed from to 317 MB.

While it is the fastest riser of this time period, WP7 still lags far behind iPhone and the industry-leading Android.  iPhone has risen steadily to 492 MB, while Android has risen to 582 MB.  By contrast, RIM’s Blackberry OS has flat-lined and Windows Mobile, which is now on life support, has slowly trailed off.  Web OS unfortunately did not garner a mention in the report.

This seems to indicate that the field is narrowing to a 3 platform race between iOS, Android, and WP7.  While Blackberry remains popular with corporate customers they are falling behind overall, despite their recent efforts.

So what are all of you using, and why?  What do you like and dislike about your mobile OS?  Which mobile OS do you think will come out on top in the future?  Give us your thoughts in the comments.

Microsoft Endorses “Walshed” Tool for Updating ChevronWP7 Devices

It was a bit of a surprise when Microsoft didn’t have a problem with developer Chris Walsh’s ChevronWP7 to “fix” NoDo installs that weren’t working, even inviting him to visit their headquarters.  It now comes as less of a surprise that Microsoft is endorsing Walsh’s latest tool, especially since it helps to get those “hacked” phones back on the official update path.

The new tool, called “Walshed Phone Support Tool” solves the issue behind the “80180048” error code in the Zune app, and an equivalent one in the Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac app, that has prevented the upgrade from even starting.

The ChevronWP7 tool was used by Windows Phone 7 users who wanted to receive the NoDo update before it became available.  The patch was delayed several times due to a variety of issues.  Unfortunately, ChevronWP7, while working flawlessly, rendered devices as “unofficial” and not eligible for future updates.  The new “Walshed” tool will fix that and put those devices back on the right track.  So, Microsoft’s endorsement of both has become a win-win for them.

Perhaps the next platform update, known currently as “Mango” will go much smoother.  Given that this was their first update I can grant some slack, but if they want to make a real dent in the mobile market they will need to get it together.

GNC #667 Big Media wants a Fight!

Ohana, over the past month I have been entertaining an offer that would have resulted in new owners of Geek News Central, and the Geek News Central Podcast. The offer was a darn good one and while I would have remained the host of the show it boiled down to I am not done yet. While I am sure I will question my decision for a while, as it was a “really” good offer and the team that was looking to acquire the show was top notch it just did not make sense to do it. Some more insights in the show today, but I just want to assure all of you I am not going anywhere.

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All Aboard!

Show Notes:
UBL Death set Twitter Record.
Twitter CNN Moment?
News Vs Social.
Firefox 5?
Sony Bleeding Credit Card Data.
Android Tethering Crackdown.
AT&T kills the Party.
Can Google TV be Saved?
Radiated Cars?
SETI True Costs.
Judges figuring out IP Pitfalls.
Is Facebook a big Spy site?
Wanna work at Google 16 versus 5 Interviews.
Sony declines Congressional Invite?
New Twitter Ad Units.
New Windows 7 API.
Do you own your Location Info?
Don’t waste your money!
Bigger Pockets for Bigger Devices nerd Alert.
Retro iPhone Charger.
Reduce the Volume Automatically.
Google App Changes.
Dropbox Tips.
Jailbreak Pros and Cons.
Shuttle RSS Retract.
Asteroid Collision.
Endeavor New Launch Date.
Righthaven gets another bloody nose.
NHL has lost their minds.
No fair use in the UK?
Whitehouse 301 Report has IP Wacth List?
Measure your Bandwidth.
Some people get good Genes.
VPS Seedbox.
One Lucky Dude.
AT&T deals?
Twitter buys Tweetdeck.
Google Voice Search.
Measuring the White iPhone.
Hackers hit Pakistani Twitter User.
Another Nuclear Leak.
IOS 4.3.3 to plug Tracking.
Firefox 4.0 hits 10%

Microsoft Kinected Technologies Evening for Techsumers

Back with Microsoft for a more consumer oriented evening. This time it’s going to be Windows Media Centre, Home Server, Xbox, Kinect and more on the phones.

First up is Microsoft Home Server 2011 – every house should have one. As standard it’s a media server, dishing out photos, music and videos. Usual DLNA stuff.

Microsoft provides a remote site which in turn can connect to the home server across the Internet. Great if you travel and you need to get at your stuff.

But when you are at home, any PC can connect to the Home Server to configure. Normally the Windows Server works headlessly i.e. without a monitor, so this is how the Server is manager.

Great news – the Drive Extender feature is going to return in 2011 courtesy of a community plug-in which appears to be endorsed by Microsoft.

Not sure if this new news, but they’re saying here that a Nokia running Windows Phone 7 will be out before Christmas, perhaps in October.

A quick demo now using Sonos to play music.

Now it’s the turn of the Xbox and Kinect. He’s playing Kinect Sports. Everything’s been done waving his hand. Ok so it’s a game but the possibilities are there in say, sterile environments. No touch, no cross-infection.

They’re now showing off a Kinect controlling the cursor on a PC instead of a mouse. Flicking through a Powerpoint presentation with your hands rather than a controller.

A video of win&i is being shown – it’s a product from a German company which shows the Kinect interacting with various apps including Media Center and Google Earth.

Microsoft sees Kinect being built directly in TVs and monitors. Several OEMs already have plans (allegedly).

Windows Phone 7 integrates with Xbox Live, pulling in avatars, badges and messages.
The next generation of games will bring the phone together with the Xbox and Kinect. Imagine a game where one player is on the phone flicking footballs at a goal and the other player is on the Xbox and is the goalkeeper. He’s saving the footballs as seen by the Kinect. Tres cool.

That’s it for now! Goodnight.