Friday, February 29, 2008

Samsung-built, Google-branded Android phones due later this year?

Per Robert X. Cringely via Engadget, Samsung is readying two Android-based phones, one due in September, another around Christmas. Both will be released as Google-branded gPhones. The model to be released in the Fall will be a high-end Blackberry Pearl-type model but with a screen that flips and "a keyboard for texting." The second device will be a cheaper model (under USD100), and will likely be released after the holidays.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lenovo X300 vs MacBook Air Mossberg Bitchfight

Still on the Lenovo X300 vs MacBook Air comparison -

From Gizmodo -

Here's the summary of Mossberg's comparison:

• Is thicker than MacBook Air. Winner: MacBook Air.
• Is heavier than MacBook Air. Winner: MacBook Air.
• Has less battery life in both tests and normal use (so much for SSD.) Winner: MacBook Air.
• Has way more ports. Winner: Lenovo X300.
• Has built-in DVD possibility. Winner: Lenovo X300.
• Has SSD drive built-in. Winner: Lenovo X300.
• Has WiMax connectivity. Winner: Lenovo X300.
• Has USB Wireless. Winner: Lenovo X300.
• Has GPS location-finding. Winner: Lenovo X300.
• Has higher screen resolution. Winner: Lenovo X300.
• Has a screen that stands up higher, leaving less viewing angle while travelling on plane. Winner: MacBook Air.
• Has slower processor. Winner: MacBook Air.
• Doesn't use Mac OS X Leopard. Winner: MacBook Air.
• Is more expensive at $2,476 with half battery and without DVD. It has SSD, but it doesn't add any advantage. More popular configuration is $3,000 with full battery and DVD drive. MacBook Air base model is $1,799. Winner: MacBook Air.

If you are counting, it is 7 wins each.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Who Will Control the Heart of Handsets?

From Businessweek -

Photo shows Google's Android platform for mobile phones in a prototype demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress

At the recent 2008 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the center of attention was the software inside phones that most consumers don't ever think about. Interestingly, the companies that grabbed the most attention were newcomers - Apple with its iPhone and Google with its Android platform. The two are now crowding Nokia for the future of mobile communication—and, by extension, of the Internet.

The shift on focus to mobile phone operating systems can't be more timely. After years of tolerating proprietary OSs from Nokia, Motorola and other manufacturers, games and application developers are now fed up with having to separately develop, test, and support hundreds of versions of every app or game they make due to the lack of software standards in mobile phones and differences in operator network configurations. They now want to narrow the selection from 30 to 40 different OSs down to a handful that could power mobile phones in the future.

Undoubtedly, one of the strongest contenders is Symbian, whose OS is already used in nearly half of the smartphones sold today. But to stay in the game, the company is scrambling to move its software onto less expensive midrange devices of the sort now powered mostly by proprietary homegrown operating systems.

It will face far stiffer competition there. Microsoft and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion are looking at the same opportunity as they try to move beyond business-oriented devices into the consumer market. And the elephant in the room is Google, which is spearheading an initiative called Android that seeks to create a Web-friendly software platform, based on open-source software, for midrange phones.

The grassroots Linux software community, which has long coveted a role in mobile phones, is trying to coalesce around a new organization called the LiMo Foundation. The group launched new LiMo-compatible handsets from Samsung, LG Electronics, NEC, and others.

And then, of course, there's Apple. While it showed no intention of licensing its iPhone software to other companies, it has raised the bar for all other handsets with its revolutionary user interface and ease of use.

For now, Symbian remains unperturbed by the competition. More than 200 million phones around the world currently run its software, and the company says 77.3 million Symbian-based phones shipped in 2007, up 50% from the year before.

To get there, Symbian engineers are shrinking and speeding up the software engine behind the user interface to help handset makers produce devices closer in look and feel to the iPhone. The company is also working closely with hardware partners to create phones that appeal to a wider audience—everyone from businessmen to soccer moms. Four of the world's five biggest handset makers—Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, and Nokia—announced new Symbian devices at the Barcelona show.

But archrival Microsoft is slowly gaining ground. Some 35 million devices around the world now run Windows Mobile and its user base grew by 14.3 million last year. To move beyond business customers, it has bought startup Danger, maker of the popular Sidekick, a consumer-oriented phone, organizer, and wireless Web browser. The move signaled Microsoft's desire to reach a hipper, younger mobile audience—the sort who want to use Web services such as Facebook on their handsets. It also scored a coup by signing up Sony Ericsson as its latest Windows Mobile licensee. A co-founder and heavy investor in the Symbian consortium, Sony Ericsson saw the move as a way to grow its U.S. market presence. But it's unlikely Microsoft ever will win over Nokia, which holds 40% of global handset market share and has a controlling stake in Symbian.

LiMo's sudden ascendance could pose an unexpected challenge to the Google Android program. The LiMo Foundation announced in Barcelona that mobile operator Orange had joined the group, as well as Japan's Access, a mobile Linux pioneer that now owns the Palm operating system used in some Treo handhelds.

The growing operator and handset manufacturer support for LiMo will put pressure on Google's Android project to join forces with it. Whether Android remains independent or joins with LiMo, industry players say it's now clear that at least one Linux-based mobile operating system will be among the platforms competing to be installed in the billion-plus mobile phones sold every year.

It's unlikely, though, one single operating system will prevail, as it largely has on Windows-based personal computers. At least not if operators can help it.

Complete article can be read here.