Friday, June 29, 2012

RIM Could Open Up BlackBerry Network To Others

The Q1 earnings news from RIM of layoffs and a delay in its next generation of handsets has unsurprisingly led to some rumors from the usual "people familiar with the situation," according to Reuters. The options reportedly being considered by the board probably also won't shock you, like the possibility of following former co-CEO Jim Balsillie's plan to open up its network to others and / or sell it outright. 

An alternative path comes from Microsoft and Steve Ballmer, who has reportedly been putting a full court press on the folks in Waterloo to pull a Nokia and bring their arms to the Windows OS camp. That choice is reportedly less attractive because it would mean giving up technology independence, but we'll see how long that feeling lasts if future earnings projections remain similarly dismal.

Adobe Confirms It Won't Support Flash On Android 4.1

Adobe Flash Platform
Adobe was very public about dropping mobile Flash last fall. In case that wasn't clear enough, the developer just drew a line in the sand: Android 4.1 doesn't, and won't ever, get certification for Flash. The company is stopping short of saying that Flash won't run, but it's evident that Adobe won't help you if the web browser plugin doesn't install on that Nexus 7. Just to underscore the point, the firm is also halting new installations of Flash from Google Play as of August 15th. Security updates and other vital patches will continue on for existing users. Any fresh downloads after that fateful day, however, will have to come from Adobe's mausoleum for old versions. The company had already said that HTML5 was the way forward on phones and tablets.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Google Now, Google's Android 4.1 Siri Competitor

In my eyes, one of, if not the single best feature announced by Google yesterday during the day one I/O keynote was the introduction of Google Now. Google’s new card-based system will personalize your life, learn your habits, searches, today’s weather needs, anticipate your traffic concerns, guess your local transit direction needs and so much more.
Google’s official landing page for their Now service is now live and you can head on over to get the complete rundown on the service. Google Now is easily one of the standout features in Jelly Bean and we can only hope we all get a chance to test it out soon. Please be sure to leave your comments, and let us know what you think.
Check out the official Google Now webpage

Research In Motion Reports Q1 Results

Research In Motion has just reported their results for the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year. We kind of knew what to expect after a business update was issued only a month ago, but it will be interesting to hear what RIM CEO Thorstein Heins has to say during the conference call. The CORE (cost optimization and resource efficiency) program still aims to save $1 billion by the end of fiscal 2013. RIM has faced a few challenges over the last few months but we're hoping that things pick up speed as we head toward the releae of BlackBerry 10. It's noted here that it's still "our number one priority" however the updated release date for BB10 devices is now Q1 of 2013.

You can check out our full coverage and follow along with our live podcast and webcastduring the call. Be sure to stick around after to hear our thoughts on it all. We'll be following up shortly with a breakdown of just what it all means, so be sure to check back later.

Press Release:

Research In Motion Reports First Quarter Fiscal 2013 Results

WATERLOO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 28, 2012) - Research In Motion Limited (RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM)(TSX:RIM), a world leader in the mobile communications market, today reported first quarter results for the three months ended June 2, 2012 (all figures in U.S. dollars and U.S. GAAP, except where otherwise indicated).

  • Cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments increased to $2.2 billion at the end of the first quarter
  • Cash flow from operations was approximately $710 million in the first quarter
  • Revenue of $2.8 billion in Q1, down 33% from $4.2 billion in the prior quarter
  • GAAP net loss in Q1 of $518 million or $0.99 per share diluted; adjusted net loss of $192 million or $0.37 per share diluted
  • Shipments of BlackBerry smartphones were 7.8 million and shipments of BlackBerry PlayBook tablets were approximately 260,000
  • BlackBerry 10 smartphone launch now scheduled for Q1 of calendar 2013
  • Restructuring efforts underway that will include a workforce reduction of approximately 5,000 employees as part of RIM's efforts to realize over $1 billion in cost savings, based on RIM's Q4 FY2012 run rate
  • Launched World Tour BlackBerry Jam developer sessions in 23 countries resulting in strong adoption and support by application and developer partners for BlackBerry 10 platform
  • BlackBerry App World continues to grow with over 89,000 applications available
  • The overall BlackBerry subscriber base continued to grow, and the subscriber base grew in all regions except for North America
  • RIM names Steve Zipperstein, former General Counsel of Verizon Wireless, as Chief Legal Officer

Update: Google Chrome Coming To iPhone And iPad

Google announced that it is releasing Google Chrome for iOS on Thursday during the second day of Google I/O. The new version of Chrome will work on both the iPhone and the iPad and will be able to sync bookmarks, open pages and passwords across all iOS devices that have Chrome installed. The browser is designed to work on versions of iOS 4.3 and higher. Google says that the iOS version of Chrome will be rolling out sometime on Thursday on the App Store.

Update: Google Chrome for iOS is now available for download in the Apple App Store by following this link

Google Makes The Nexus 7 Tablet Official

Google has officially taken the wraps off of the Nexus 7, its first reference-grade tablet. The 7-inch slate is the first and currently only device shipping with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and takes advantage of its optimization for smaller tablet screens, magazines and movies it's also the first to ship with a finished Chrome for Android. Like what was widely suspected, the tablet is built by ASUS and mostly draws our attention in terms of what we get for the money: that quad-core Tegra 3, 1.2-megapixel front camera, NFC and 1280 x 800, IPS-based LCD are traits we'd normally look for in a pricier tablet. Google is asking just $199 for a 8GB model and $249 for a 16GB version that's a lot of speed for the money, especially with a $25 Google Play credit and a slew of bundled content. There's no SD card slot, however. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

webOS 3.0.5 'Community Edition' Released To Open Source

As promised back in March, HP today released to open source some large chunks of webOS 3.0.5 as the new "Community Edition". The Community Edition of webOS is meant for, well, the homebrew community and will enable homebrew developers even deeper (and more legal) access to the webOS source code to make alterations and improvements.

As a sign of how serious HP is about the community aspect of the webOS Community Edition, they actually worked hand-in-hand with the WebOS Internals homebrew group to make this happen. WebOS Internals has put together a team named WebOS Ports dedicated to working with the Community Edition, led by Tom King - though you might know him from his work as ka6sox.

So just what can we expect out of the Community Edition? HP's code releases come from webOS 3.0.5 and as such are geared towards the TouchPad. Among the things the WebOS Ports team (and anybody else, it is open source after all) will be able to tinker with are notifications, the app launcher (hello custom pages), Just Type, and even card view among other things.

We're excited about the potential for the webOS Community Edition. There's a lot of low-hanging fruit in webOS could be fixed, updated, or added thanks to the newly open-sourced code and the WebOS Ports team. Yeah, we're psyched. Just imagine... a TouchPad with a zoomed-out card view, or Just Type with multi-choice actions, or built-in Twitter and Facebook sharing across all apps, or... the possibilities may not be endless, but they are many.

It's worth noting that the webOS Community Edition release and Open webOS are two separate projects. Open webOS is going for the 1.0 version and is an active and ongoing project for HP, while the Community Edition is more of a code dump for the benefit of the community.

Google Spills The Jelly Bean At Googleplex

We knew it from the beginning that Google will launch the next version of Android OS at the Google I/O 2012, but we still didn't know the final name of it. Though Google cleared the air today when they spilled some huge jelly beans in their front lawn, literally. And it's right in front of all the other Android statues,  Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and now it's time for some delicious Jelly Bean.
Hopefully, Google will rock the show this year by launching their first ever branded tablet, and also it will be the first tablet to feature Android Jelly Bean. This year Google I/O will come with so much surprises, so stay tuned with us and we will keep you up to date with every move.
And don't forget to share your thoughts about Jelly Bean in the comment below.
Source: Google+

Apple Reveals Dedicated “Podcasts” Application For iOS


Apple on Tuesday officially unveiled its own dedicated podcast application for iOS devices dubbed “Podcasts.” Earlier this month, developers noticed that the podcast button was missing from iTunes in the iOS 6 beta, which hinted that this app was on the horizon. “Podcasts app is the easiest way to discover, subscribe to and play your favorite podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch,” Apple says on the Podcasts product page. The application supports video and audio podcasts, includes a top stations option, the ability to stream or download full episodes, sync with iTunes and much more. Here’s the complete list of features:

Apple Podcast iOS App Features
• Enjoy all of your audio and video podcasts in a single app
• Explore hundreds of thousands of podcasts including shows in over 40 languages
• Try the innovative new Top Stations feature to find new podcast series in a variety of topics, including arts, business, comedy, music, news, sports, and more.
• Browse by Audio or Video podcasts, or see what’s most popular in Top Charts
• Tap subscribe for your favorites and automatically receive new episodes for free as they become available
• Stream episodes or download to listen while offline
• Skip forward and back using simple playback controls
• Turn on Sleep Timer to automatically stop playing a podcast while listening in bed
• Share your favorite episodes with friends using Twitter, Messages and Mail
• Optionally sync your favorite episodes from iTunes on your Mac or PC
• Sync your episode playback for seamless transition between devices

The free application is available now and requires any iOS device running iOS 5.1 or newer.

The free application is available now and requires any iOS device running iOS 5.1 or newer.

Apple App Store download link

Zynga With Friends Announced

During today’s “Zynga Unleashed” press conference, the massive social games maker announced a new platform for their products: Zynga With Friends.

Zynga has published several games on platforms like Facebook, Google+, Android and iOS. Users playing those games were relegated to socially connecting with users on the same platform. That fragmentation has been a constant problem for the publishing and developing company.

Zynga With Friends will eliminate device barriers and create one single, cross-platform network so that any user can play with any other user, regardless of their preferred method.

The newly announced service will also allow for immediate multiplayer (rather than the current turn-based formula), social streams and cross-platform chatting.

The service has not been launched yet, but it will be available on, Facebook and mobile devices later this year.

RIM Considering Splitting Business

According to a new report, RIM may be planning to split its handset and messaging divisions up. This rumor originated from U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times. The publication claims that RIM is considering breaking off its device business into a separate company or straight up selling it, with both Amazon and Facebook named as possible buyers. As for the messaging side of things, RIM could decide to open its platform up to competitors like Apple and Google to help raise some income. It's also said that another option for RIM could be to keep the company together but to sell a stake of it to a larger firm, like Microsoft.
This certainly isn't the first time that we've heard that a big change for RIM may be in the works, and there's even been rumors claiming that the company may open up BlackBerry Messenger to iOS and Android, although that's something that we recently heard won't be happening. We do know that the BlackBerry-manufacturer has hired JP Morgan and RBC Capital Markets to help explore its strategic options, but so far RIM hasn't shed any light on what it may end up doing. I'm sure that RIM is weighing all of its options, though, and it'll be interesting to see what route it ends up taking. What do you all think RIM should do? Should it sell off its handset business or open up BBM to other platforms? Or should it just keep doing what it's been doing?

Firefox For Android Updated With Flash Support

Mozilla announced on Tuesday that it has updated its Firefox for Android browser with a new user interface, performance tweaks and support for Flash. I typically use Chrome on my Android devices because it’s lightweight and super smooth, plus I like that it syncs up with my bookmarks in my Chrome desktop browser. I decided to give Firefox a whirl this morning on my Samsung Galaxy S III and like that it also offers a sync option for Firefox on the desktop (although I don’t use that browser). I like the default option to search Google, Amazon, Twitter or Wikipedia for whatever you enter into the browser’s search box and it quickly and accurately loaded each web page I visited. It’s also super easy to add new tabs by tapping a “+” button to the right of the search bar and the tabs can be displayed in a drop down menu, each website complete with its own thumbnail. I’ll certainly be using Firefox for Android for the next few days as it appears to be a bit quicker than Chrome for now. The update is free and is available from Google Play now. Let us know what your favorite mobile browser is, and why, in the comments below.

Google Play Store download link

Microsoft Yammer Acquisition Gets Official

Microsoft Yammer Acquisition $1.2 billion
The rumors were true: Microsoft is indeed buying business-centric social networking site Yammer for $1.2 billion, or $200 million more than early rumors indicated. A presumably pleased Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a prepared statement that “the acquisition of Yammer underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love” and that “Yammer adds a best-in-class enterprise social networking service to Microsoft’s growing portfolio of complementary cloud services.” Buying Yammer gives Microsoft a strong social networking component to its ubiquitous Office suite since Microsoft now inherits more than 5 million Yammer users across more than 200,000 different companies. In fact, Microsoft is strongly touting Yammer’s ability to mesh with its other services, noting that it “plans to accelerate Yammer’s adoption alongside complementary offerings from Microsoft SharePoint, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics and Skype.” 

BlackBerry 10 BBM Images Leak

BlackBerry 10 BBM Images Leak
Purported images of Research In Motion’s next-generation BlackBerry Messenger application have been leaked online. N4BB, which has been on a roll lately with BlackBerry 10 scoops, has obtained some images showing what RIM’s BBM app will look like on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system. Among other things, N4BB notes that the new BBM will feature a darker theme and colors that will save battery life on BlackBerry 10 devices by an estimated 25%, while “optimization to take advantage of the OLED screen… could decrease upwards of 75% battery consumption.” The website on Monday revealed images of the first two BlackBerry 10 devices as well, showing one with just a touchscreen and one with a physical QWERTY keyboard.

Specs For Google Nexus Tablet Leak

Our friends over at Gizmodo Australia got some the leaked specs for the Google Nexus Tablet. According to Gizmodo Australia, it will be built by ASUS, and debuted at Google I/O.... As far as the complete specs:
  • 7-inch 1280×800 IPS Display
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (not confirmed to be 5.0 just yet)
  • 1.3GHz Quad-Core Tegra 3 CPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB / 16GB Internal Storage
  • 1.2MP Front Camera
  • 8 Hours Battery Life
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
  • NFC

T-Mobile And Verizon Ink Spectrum Deal

T-Mobile and Verizon have formally entered into agreement which will see the nation's largest wireless carrier licensing spectrum to the fourth largest. Following regulatory approval, T-Mobile will gain improved AWS spectrum in 218 markets, including 15 of the top 25 U.S. markets, covering around 60 million people. Verizon, for its part, will receive spectrum that covers another 22 million people and some cash as well.  While the application has been submitted to the FCC, it could be some time before anything happens in the consumer eye.

T-Mobile will gain spectrum covering 60 million people  notably in Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Minneapolis; Seattle; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Milwaukee; Charlotte, N.C.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Greensboro, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Rochester, N.Y. — in exchange for spectrum covering 22 million people and certain cash consideration. The agreement also includes exchanges in a number of markets in which the companies will swap licenses to create more contiguous blocks of spectrum and re-align spectrum in adjacent markets. These intra-market swaps will enhance T‑Mobile’s network performance and data throughput in key locations. This agreement is in addition to T-Mobile’s previously announced $4 billion 4G network evolution plan, which includes modernization of 37,000 cell sites, launching 4G HSPA+ services in the 1900 MHz band and deployment of LTE in 2013.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Samsung Brings iTunes And iOS Data To Galaxy Devices

Samsung has announced that it's partnered with developer Mushroom Media to bring the company's Easy Phone Sync application to owners of Galaxy smartphones and tablets. As the name suggests, Easy Phone Sync is allows phones to transfer content from their PCs over a USB connection, with the particular focus being on importing music and other media from iTunes, and contacts and messages from iOS. The app, which will presumably be available for a fee at some point in the future, can be downloaded for free on Google Play if you've got a Galaxy device.
The app release and partnership with Mushroom Media is likely part of Samsung's plans to give iOS users an easy path from Apple's ecosystem to its own. Samsung has made no secret of its efforts to establish itself as a equal competitor to Apple, and the Korean manufacturer will be hoping to lure upgrading iPhone users to its Galaxy S III with apps like this. While Easy Phone Sync isn't anywhere near as polished as an Apple app, it's fast and functional enough to be of use to iOS converts making the switch to a Galaxy phone.
We've given Easy Phone Sync a quick test on the Galaxy S III, and it seems to work well enough. Inexplicably though, the phone app seems to run persistently in the background, leaving an unsightly notification in place at all times.  The phone all only serves to install a license key though, and after that it can be uninstalled. Regardless, persistent notifications are annoying, and make for a sub-par user experience -- on an officially-sanctioned app like this, there's no excuse.

Google Play Easy Phone Sync download link
PC/Mac Easy Phone Sync download link
*Easy Phone Sync is available to download now for both PCs and Macs in conjunction with an app for Samsung Android devices.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Google Said To Be Launching IaaS Cloud Services At Google I/O

Sources at GigaOm state that Google will be releasing their own IaaS (infrastructure aa service) cloud solution next week at Google I/O. This move would extend their current cloud services, like app engine, cloud connect, and storage, and allow users to rent virtual servers from the folks in Mountain View, bringing them in close competition with cloud giant Amazon.
In this scenario, two things come right to the front of our minds ChromeOS and Google Docs (Drive). Both services could be great front-ends for a cloud infrastructure that's set up by the user, especially in the enterprise. Imagine a corporate portal that you connect to as soon as you fire up your Chromebook, and your own IT department manages it all. Then imagine you can also connect with your Android phone. This could be a really big deal™.

Mozilla Teases "Something BIG" Coming

Firefox for Android
The folks at Mozilla have taken to Twitter to tease us all about a big​ update in Firefox for Android next week. The details are sparse only promising something fast, smart, and safe. Firefox development for Android has been steady, but slow, with small and frequent updates to their beta builds. This has many Android users less than interested in their offering, but the old adage "good things come to those who wait" comes to mind when talking about Mozilla. 
We're excited any time a big player makes a splash in the Android pool, but Mozilla is pretty near and dear to our hearts. All of us want to see something spectacular, and the furry-necked part of me wants to see them hit it out of the park and blow everyone away, smack dab in the middle of Google I/O. We're watching things closely here, and you'll know just as soon as we do.

GVoice Getting Rebranded As SyngerGV, To Integrate With Messaging

GVoice getting rebranded as SyngerGV, to integrate with Messaging
If you're a Google Voice user on webOS, we hope you've at least looked at GVoice. The app, a fine Enyo app originally built to bring Google Voice to the TouchPad and since shrunken down to phone-appropriate dimensions was just updated to version 1.1.0. The update brings a larger font for the blind among us and adds right and left justification to message conversations. Version 1.1.0 also has expanded Text-to-Speech capabilities for users of webOS smartphones.
But what we're really interested in is the upcoming version 1.2.0. The app will be rebranded as SynerGV, and if the synergistic name is dropping any hints, well, it ought be. SynerGV 1.2.0 will offer integration via Synergy Connectors with the webOS 3.0 TouchPad Messaging app. The plan is for the SynerGV Synergy Connector to be offered by the end of July as an in-app purchase, with a secondary companion app to manage things like placing phone calls, setting your Google Voice status, listening to voicemails, and the like. If you're downloading GVoice 1.1.0 onto your TouchPad, you'll have the option to pre-purchase SynerGV at a reduced price of $1.49. When SynerGV launches, it'll cost $4.99.
As for our webOS smartphones, where you're more likely to be making active use of Google Voice, the developer says that "if and when" he makes a smartphone version, the same offer to pre-purchase at a discount will be made. We're a little disappointed by the "if and when" part, but we know that webOS smartphones are a small market and as a lone developer there's only so much time in the day to commit to an increasingly niche app market. Regardless, we're hopeful that the "if" does become a "when", and we wouldn't be above suggesting you comment on this article to demonstrate how much demand for the app there just might be.

HP webOS application download link

Flipboard Officially Launches On Android

Flipboard officially launches on Android, in multiple app stores and for more countries

Popular newsreader Flipboard is finally officially available on Android, coming out of beta and Galaxy S III exclusivity. As seen in the latest test version, it now supports integration of shared articles from your Google+ feed alongside Twitter and Facebook feeds, and has also added support for YouTube video feeds (all of these are now available on iOS as well). Beyond the Google Play app market, it's also available in the Amazon Appstore, Nook Store and Samsung Apps, so give it a try yourself.

Google Play download link

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Microsoft Said To Be Building Its Own Windows Phone 8 Device

Microsoft surprised everyone this week with its own in-house designed Windows 8 Surface tablet and now it looks like the company is set on making its own Windows Phone 8 handset as well. According to Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund, industry sources say that Microsoft is currently working with a contract manufacturer to develop its own device for Windows Phone 8.
Separately, our industry sources tell us that Microsoft may be working with a contract manufacturer to develop their own handset for Windows Phone 8. It is unclear to us whether this would be a reference platform or whether this may be a go-to market Microsoft branded handset. We would not be surprised if Microsoft were to decide to bring their own handset to market next year given that Microsoft has decided to bring to market their own Windows 8 ‘Surface’ tablet/PC products.
Although initially it seemed like Microsoft was pulling an Apple move by reigning in control of hardware, the new strategy may be more akin to Google’s Nexus efforts, which serve more as a model for manufacturing partners. The decision to jump on hardware could also have to do with the imploding Nokia, which was originally intended to be Microsoft’s major hardware partner.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Outed By Google

It seems that a possibly careless listing on the part of Google has just outed the next version of Android. It's outed as version 4.1, as Jell... we're going out on a limb here and saying Jelly Bean and more specifically, that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be the first phone to receive it. Wowzers. 
So, we've all been assuming for weeks upon weeks that we'd be hearing something about the next iteration of our favorite mobile platform. It isn't the biggest surprise in either name or version number, but it is a little surprising it has been outed in this way. 
So, are we going to see some sign of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean next week in San Francisco?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Google To Introduce Siri Competitor For Android

This week it appears that someone at the Wall Street Journal has head from a reliable source that Google’s own Siri competitor known internally as codename Majel, has had its development plans accelerated. 

What this could mean for you, the reader, is that we’ll see said competitor at the next big Google event, that being the developer event known as Google I/O coming up on the 27th of June. For those of you that don’t know, the codename for this project is a reference to Majel Barrett, also known Nurse Christine Chapel in the original Star Trek television series and much more importantly the voice of the ship’s computer as well.

Google+ Integration Is Coming To Flipboard

If you’re a long-time Flipboard for iOS user, or even a new one who just discovered Flipboard for Android on the Samsung Galaxy S III, then you may be pleased to know that the popular news reader will soon be introducing Google+ integration. Flipboard has partnered with Google and taken advantage of its extended APIs which will allow users to view streams, posts, photos, videos, and other data posted to Google+.

Google’s Vice President of Product Management, Bradley Horowitz, announced the partnership at Le Web ’12 in London. He did not, however, confirm a release date though he did say the new featureis “coming soon” and he was “coy” when probed about Google+’s popularity:

Horowitz was coy when asked about the success of Google+, noting that the 170 million user figure was “stale.” However, he did note that with Google I/O just days away, we can expect the company to provide more updates on its services at the event but also on its next earnings call.

Horowitz did reveal that Google+ has gained some users as a result of its newly-revamped Android and iOS applications.

Google+ will join the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social services, which are already built into Flipboard.

Of course, Google already has its own news reader which is a lot like Flipboard in terms of design called Currents. Whether its new partnership means Currents will now be killed off is unclear, but it’s certain that its partnership with Flipboard will help Google+ grow more than Currents will. Maybe Google just had to bit the bullet and partner will a rival for the sake of its social network.

Will you use Google+ integration in Flipboard?

Google’s Nexus Tablet To Be Unveiled Next Week

Google chairman Eric Schmidt revealed in December that the company was working on its first own-brand tablet, and the Nexus 7 slate will finally be unveiled next week during the Google I/O developer conference, according to multiple reports. The last reaffirmation comes from DigiTimes, which has reported a number of details surrounding Google’s upcoming tablet that will seemingly prove accurate. 

The site’s anonymous supply chain sources have previously stated that Google’s next major Android release, Jelly Bean, would come in the second quarter, and it reported later that Nexus tablet shipments would begin in June ahead of a July launch. As is the case with Microsoft’s Surface tablet, which was unveiled on Monday, it remains to be seen how Google’s own hardware efforts will impact its Android partners, some of which already seem to be exploring different ways to separate themselves from the pack or even ramping up efforts with new platforms. Google I/O begins on June 27th.

RIM's Manufacturing Partner Ends BlackBerry Production

Research In Motion accounted for 19 percent of contract manufacturing partner Celestica’s revenue in its last quarter. By the end of this year, it will account for none at all.

Over the next three to six months, Celestica will cease production of the handsets it has been making for RIM, as the struggling BlackBerry maker streamlines its supply chain. A tough break for Celestica, whose long-running contract with RIM and nearly one-fifth of its revenue is now just another casualty of RIM’s plan to trim roughly $1 billion from its operating costs by the end of fiscal 2013.

And for RIM? A necessity. And an inevitability. Celestica mostly produced BlackBerry components for the North American market, a region where BlackBerry sales have declined dramatically. It doesn’t take an Etruscan haruspex to see that cuts were coming, as RIM’S mound of inventory grew and demand for its handsets fell. Supplier consolidation typically follows declines in volume, and that’s precisely what’s going on here.

“We are making changes to our supply chain as part of wider efforts to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of RIM’s operations to help meet our strategic objectives and to deliver long-term value to our stakeholders,” RIM said in a statement.

Netflix App To Be Available For The Surface Tablets

We overlooked an interesting feature mentioned last night at the Microsoft Surface tablet event. The Netflix app.
Microsoft showcased the Netflix app during last night's presentation saying it supported semantic zoom and that the Netflix app would be ready when Windows 8 launches later this year.
We're guessing that with SmartGlass you could start a Netflix movie on your Xbox console, pause it and resume watching the movie on your Surface tablet or Windows Phone. With the kickstand feature on the Surface, the tablet sounds ideal for mobile movie watching.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Microsoft Unveils Surface Tablet

Microsoft on Monday announced the Surface tablet during a press conference in Los Angeles, California. Rumors leading up to the event suggested that the Redmond-based company had an own-brand tablet in store, and a leaked spec sheet that emerged on Monday pointed to an Xbox-focused slate that would merge entertainment, gaming and high-definition output into a 7-inch tablet that would mark Microsoft’s premiere entry into the market. Bits and pieces of various rumors ended up panning out, and Microsoft unveiled its first own-brand Windows tablet line.

“Surface fulfills the dream of working anywhere,” Microsoft said of the 9.3-millimeter thick tablet, which includes a magnesium case that weighs less than 1.5 pounds and features an integrated stand to prop the device up while watching videos or typing on a Bluetooth keyboard. The 10.6-inch high-definition display on the Surface is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 2, and it includes a magnetic connector to hold a case in place.

The new Surface tablet ships with a number of popular Microsoft apps, including Xbox live, and it includes a native Netflix app as well. USB 2.0 and HDMI-out ports are both on board, as are rear and front-facing cameras. An Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor powers the Surface along with a unique vented active cooling system.

Microsoft’s Surface tablet supports both finger and stylus input, as well as 600 dpi “Digital Ink” for drawing, writing and marking up documents. The device also supports a “Touchcover” with an integrated keyboard.

“This was built as a stage for Windows 8,” Microsoft’s Panos Panay said while on stage at the press conference. “It was important that we have hardware fade to the background so Windows 8 can come to the surface.”

Two Surface tablets will be available at launch, one running Windows 8 Pro and one running Windows RT, and pricing will be “like comparable tablets based on ARM” for the RT model, and in line with Ultrabooks for the Windows 8 Pro version. The Windows RT model will be available with either 32GB or 64GB of storage, and the Windows 8 Pro model will come with either 64GB or 128GB of storage.

More information about the new Surface Tablet can be found on Microsoft’s website.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Microsoft In Talks To Buy Yammer

Microsoft Hearts Yammer

Yammer is a social network that’s been going strong since 2008, currently being used by more than 200,000 companies across the earth including Ebay and Ford, allowing corporations to speak to one another as well as inside their own collectives. The CEO and cofounder of Yammer, mister David Sacks, has been rumored to be pushing the deal through before he throws himself a 40th birthday party complete with a “who’s who of A-list tech.”

Given that the source speaking with Business Insider on the subject has noted that the supposed party would take place at the Fleur de Lys mansion in LA, that 18-century costumes are required, and that Snoop Dogg will be presiding over the celebration, we’re going to need a big cup of salt to swallow this one. That said, it’s still quite possible that Microsoft and Yammer are indeed working on a deal between themselves.

Check out the Yammer website here.

T-Mobile 4G LTE Trials Start This Summer For 2013 Launch

T-Mobile has provided an update on the progress of its $4 billion 4G LTE buildout today, announcing that the network is on track to roll out in early 2013. The first 400 sites will get LTE equipment installed by the end of June and a total of 2,500 sites will be equipped by the end of July.

T-Mobile senior VP of technology, Dave Mayo, gave the progress report during a conference this morning. He confirmed that trials for its LTE network will begin this summer and that an additional 19,500 sites for its LTE equipment have already been approved.

Besides rolling out LTE, T-Mobile still expects to introduce its 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz spectrum for the iPhone. This service will be available in a large number of markets later this year and small scale testing has already begun.

Microsoft Said To Announce Windows 8 Tablet Monday June 18th

Windows fans who have enviously watched iOS and Android users toting around tablets won’t have to wait much longer. Microsoft sent out a press invitation on Thursday for a “major announcement” slated to take place in Los Angeles on Monday, June 18th, and AllThingsD is reporting that it will center around Windows RT-based tablets. According to AllThingsD, Microsoft is expected not just to show off its ARM-based Windows 8 tablets at the event but also to “highlight some of the kinds of programs and services that will run on the products, according to sources outside the company.” Having tablets in the fold would be a much-needed boost for Microsoft’s mobility brand, especially since Nokia, the company’s major Windows Phone manufacturer, is in such dire straits.

Karma Wants To Make 4G Mobile Hotspots Social

Wireless startup Karma is offering a hotspot that accesses Clearwire's mobile WiMAX network but allows users to open it up to the public.

According to a report from The Verge, the company's model works fairly simply. Users pay $69 to buy a mobile hotspot and then pay $14 per GB of data. The catch is that the hotspot is then opened up to the public, and when a new user joins, that user is taken to a page about the owner of the hotspot. Public users attached to the hotspot then can then sign in with their Facebook account to get 100 MB of free browsing. The key part of the setup is that for every new user who signs in, the owner of the hotspot gets 100 MB of free data credited to their account. Karma calls the scheme "social telecom."

 "Something is fundamentally broken in the market for mobile providers," Robert Gaal, one of the founders of Karma, told The Verge. "We want to give everyone a mobile, 4G hotspot that lives in their pocket. It's open to everyone, and lets you pay as you go. Best of all it works no matter what carrier or what device you're using."

Data sharing has been a hot topic of late, with much commentary this week focused on Verizon Wireless' launch of its Share Everything plans. However, other companies have focused on the issue as well. Ting, a Sprint Nextel MVNO run by Internet domain company Tucows, has offered shared data plans since February. FreeomPop, the forthcoming mobile broadband startup that also uses Clearwire's network, has discussed the idea of its users sharing data as well.

Karma is Clearwire's latest wholesale customer, and another in a long string of small startups.

Nokia Acquires Imaging Firm Scalado

WP Central
This morning, Nokia has announced that it has acquired imaging firm Scalado for an undisclosed price. Nokia will be picking up everything including their specialists, intellectual property and technology from the company and will be incorporating them into the company sometime in Q3 2012.
Scalado has been working with Nokia for the last 10 years but they've also done work with HTC and most recently RIM on their upcoming BlackBerry 10 and it's new camera functions. That is certainly interesting because RIM itself is in dire straits and they just lost what many considered to be a key partner for re-igniting their brand. Of course what RIM already had in motion with Scalado will probably remain but the Waterloo company should start looking elsewhere for future camera development.
The good news here of course is that Nokia is clearly aiming to get some of the best camera functions on Windows Phone. Currently, HTC is in a bit of a renaissance with their ONE series which focuses heavily on cameras and media capabilities, giving Nokia and others a run for their money.
Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how Scalado's know-how pays off on future Windows Phone 8 devices.

RIM To Pay $12 Million To Mike Lazaridis And Jim Balsillie

Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, the co-founders of Research In Motion creator of BlackBerry, will be receiving $12 million for stepping aside as co-chief executive officers, according to a company document filed on Thursday.

The document noted Mr. Lazaridis and Mr. Balsillie “revolutionized the worldwide wireless industry with the introduction of the BlackBerry and forever changed how the world communicates,” the company said in a management circular that it had entered into transition agreements with the two executives.

Jim Balsillie who stepped down to an ordinary director during the management shakeup and later completely left the company will receive an entitlement of $7.9 million. Mike Lazaridis remains as the vice-chair of the board with responsibilities for innovation and still has the use of a dedicated office, as well as a company car with a driver. Lazaridis will receive a compensation of $3.9 million.

Additionally, the filing notes Thorsten Heins financial arrangements with RIM. Mr. Heins, who joined RIM several years ago after a long stint in senior roles at the top of the German conglomerate Siemens AG, received about $1.9-million in total compensation in fiscal 2011. His compensation increased with the promotion to about $10.2-million in fiscal 2012.

Apple’s Failed Social Network Ping To Be Shuttered This Fall

Apple Ping Discontinued
Apple plans to shutter its failed social network Ping later this year, a recent report claims. Apple unveiled Ping in September 2010, and while many Apple pundits seemed enthusiastic about a music sharing and discovery service that might keep iTunes users browsing through iTunes longer and encourage them to purchase music more often, consumers weren’t quite as impressed. After a few attempts to remind users that Ping still existed, Apple gave up on the service for the most part and it has sat idle for some time. With the next major iTunes release this fall, Apple will finally shutter the service completely, AllThingsD reports, and the Cupertino-based company will instead rely on Twitter and Facebook integration for the time being to sate users’ social networking needs.

Sony Xperia Ion To Launch June 24th For $99.99 From AT&T

Sony Xperia Ion Release Date
AT&T has scored Sony’s latest Android smartphone, the Sony Xperia ion, which will hit virtual and physical store shelves on June 24th for $99.99. Sony is especially touting the phone’s 12-megapixel camera that also shoots video at 1080p resolution. What’s more, the Xperia ion will be the first Sony phone in the U.S. able to connect to AT&T’s 4G LTE network. Other spec highlights include a 4.6-inch 720p HD Reality Display screen, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 16GB of internal memory. Sadly, the device is launching with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, although it will likely get upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich in the coming months. Sony’s previous Xperia models have been fairly underwhelming but Sony has provided this phone with relatively decent specs this time around, and a 4G LTE phone with a 12-megapixel camera for less than $100.

My Xbox Live Lands On Android

My Xbox LIVE
Ever since Microsoft’s My Xbox Live app first arrived on iOS, I was dying to get my hands on a version of the app for Android. Today, the good folks from Redmond have made that dream come true.
The launch of the Android version of the My Xbox Live app is bittersweet. While it is nice to see the app finally hit Google Play, it’s missing some key functionality.

After signing into the My Xbox Live app, Xbox Live users can check out the latest game trailers and promotional videos Microsoft has to offer, update their profile and avatar, manage messages with friends and flick through achievements and trophies earned through various Xbox games.
My Xbox Live for Android looks amazing. It’s smooth and intuitive. It just lacks some of the most important features the app has to offer on other platforms, like the ability to tether your device to your Xbox and use it as a remote. With the update made available to the iOS My Xbox Live app, iPhone users are able to browse a list of their most recent activity from the app, and use the remote function with media apps like Netflix.
Microsoft hasn’t laid out any plans to bring remote functionality to the My Xbox Live Android app, and with Xbox SmartGlass right around the corner, it might not be any time soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft waited until SmartGlass to release any major updates for Android users.
Remote control functionality or not, at least I can finally check my Xbox Live messages on the go. To install the My Xbox Live app for Android, use the download widget below.

Google Play download link

Sony Tablet P Gets A Taste Of Android 4.0

The Sony Tablet S was one of the first Honeycomb tablets to be upgraded to the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. But Sony has not forgot about the clamshell-shaped sibling, the Tablet P, has received its own ICS update. In a post on its Developer World blog, Sony announced that Android 4.0.3 is now available for Tablets S and P, with the Tablet P update being limited to "selected markets" for the time being.
In addition to standard ICS features like the improved launcher and multi-tasking menu, Sony's baked in some new stuff for its tablet owners. These include direct SD card access, "small apps" that can run in a window, and a re-vamped photo viewer.
To grab the new software for either device, head to Settings > About tablet > System updates.