September 25, 2011 9:27 PM
Posted by: Ed Hardy
I know that much of the average iFan’s attention is on the iPhone 5, but the release of iOS 5 deserves at least as much attention. I know a large percentage of iPhone 4 users won’t be upgrading, but if you are in this group then this new version of Apple’s operating system will do a lot to tide you over.
An admittedly very unscientific poll that ran recently in Brighthand‘s Apple forum reminded me that there is a large percentage of iPhone users who are still in the middle of two-year contracts with AT&T and Verizon. This means that, for these people, the imminent launch of the iPhone 5 is entirely academic. They can’t afford to pay an unsubsidized price for this smartphone, as starts at $450 and goes up from there.
But, if this is you, that hardly means that there’s nothing to look forward to this fall. The upcoming introduction of iOS 5 is going to make your current smartphone easier to use in a number of ways.
Apple announced the details of iOS back at the beginning of the summer, but since then has been quiet about when it is going to be released. That hasn’t stopped or even slowed the rumormill, which now indicated that the iOS 5 upgrade will be available in the second week of October.
If you want to judge the evidence for yourself, click through to this news article on Brighthand:
Apple iOS 5 Might Be Headed for the iPhone 4 and iPad on Oct. 10
This article includes a description of many of the features that are going to debut in the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system.
September 15, 2011 8:07 PM
Posted by: Ed Hardy
Nokia has committed to releasing its first handset running Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system before the end of this year, but I can understand if some of you are wondering if the company will meet that deadline. Moving ponderously is one of Nokia’s trademarks, and the search for a replacement for the Symbian OS has been a slow and painful one.
As a bit of reassurance, here’s CEO Stephen Elop telling a Chinese news source (in English) that everything is going along well in this project.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/m99X2Xe1WDA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
If you haven’t been following this story closely, Nokia announced early this year that it is is giving up Symbian on all it’s high-end devices, and dropping its plan to move to the MeeGo OS. More recently, an unconfirmed report indicates that this company’s initial Windows Phone will be the Nokia 703. This will supposedly have a 3.7-inch WVGA (480 x 800) touchscreen, 8GB of storage, and a 5MP camera.
You can read more about Nokia’s move into the Microsoft camp in these articles on Brighthand:
August 25, 2011 10:49 AM
Posted by: Ed Hardy
Steve Jobs, one of Apple’s co-founders and the CEO for most of its existence, is stepping down. This has caused a great deal of concern in some quarters — Apple’s share price opened sharply lower today — but as far as I’m concerned it’s not the beginning of some kind of inevitable slide into obscurity.
I wrote my thoughts up in an editorial for Brighthand this morning. You can find it here:
Apple Will Survive Without Steve Jobs
If you just want a quick summary, Apple has a lot of experienced, intelligent employees who will keep the company going. We can look forward to the iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 7, each better than the last.
My co-worker Jamison Cush has written an editorial on this same general vein for TabletPCReview:
Jobs Out, Cook In, But for iPad, Nothing Changes
In short, don’t panic. Everything is going to be fine at Apple, and it will continue to be a power in the smartphone and tablet markets for years to come.
August 22, 2011 8:30 AM
Posted by: Ed Hardy
Whenever a company releases a new high-end smartphone, there are usually complaints that it would be perfect if it just included one more feature. The upcoming Motorola Droid Bionic might be an exception to this rule, though.
Let’s take a look at another smartphone that’s undoubtedly going to make a big splash in the U.S. this fall, the Samsung Galaxy S II. Despite all its other high-end features, including a dual-core processor, the latest version of Android, an 8 megapixel camera, etc, it has a WVGA (800 x 480) screen, not a qHD (960 x 540) one. Another almost perfect handset.
But take a look at the specs for the Droid Bionic:
- Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread): CHECK
- 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-core Processor: CHECK
- 4.3-Inch, qHD Touchscreen: CHECK
- 4G LTE: CHECK
- HDMI Video-Out Port: Check
- microSD Slot: CHECK
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, etc: CHECK
Motorola delayed the release of the Droid Bionic from Spring to Fall, and I’m starting to think this wasn’t because it had some kind of flaw, but because it otherwise would have crushed its competition, reducing sales of such devices as the the Motorola Droid Incredible 2 and Droid X2 to nil.
I’m basing my comments on the specs for this model as they were when it was first announced in January. As Motorola took this smartphone back to the drawing board in the Spring, we don’t know what its exact specifications are going to be when it is released. I’m assuming these are going to be at least as good, and maybe even better.
The Motorola Droid Bionic is definitely going to hit Verizon’s store shelves next month, and the debut could be on September 8. The price is expected to be $300 with a two-year wireless contract.
When the debut happens, Brighthand will certainly review this smartphone, and we’ll let you know if it lives up to its promise.
Related Articles on Brighthand:
August 19, 2011 11:56 AM
Posted by: Ed Hardy
In the second announcement to rock the mobile device market this week, HP has announced that it’s no longer going to offer smartphones and tablets running the webOS. This was a sad day for people like me who were fans of this operating system, which was originally created by Palm, Inc.
This was a sad day for me. I started out reporting about Palm over ten years ago, back in the days of the PDA. I followed it through the transition to smartphones, and the rocky switch from the Palm OS to the webOS.
I wrote an editorial for Brighthand on why HP was forced to pull out of the mobile market, and what it means for anyone trying to go head-to-head with Google and Apple.
Read the full content of this editorial at:
With HP Out of the Running, Can Anyone Compete with Android and iPhone?
Jamison Cush, the Site Editor for TechTarget’s TabletPCReview wrote his own editorial about the swift demise of the HP TouchPad, this company’s first and last tablet running the webOS.
You can find his take on HP’s devision here:
The HP TouchPad Obituary
It’s well worth a read. Jamison makes some good points about HP’s failure to truly commit to the demands of the mobile market.
Related News Articles on Brighthand:
August 15, 2011 10:26 AM
Posted by: Ed Hardy
Google shocked the tech world today by announcing that it’s going to acquire Motorola Mobility, the company behind some of the most popular devices running Google’s Android OS. This has left many people wondering what this means — Is Google going into the hardware business? Is it going to block Samsung and HTC from making Android devices?
Doing a bit of reading between the lines, it becomes clear that this deal is going down for one simple reason: Google wants Motorola’s patent portfolio to help defend itself from lawsuits from Apple and Microsoft.
The best evidence for this comes from the other makers of Android-based smartphones. Google must have pre-warned them about this deal and defending this operating system from patent lawsuits must have been at the top of the agenda, as evidenced by this statement from Peter Chou, the CEO of HTC:
“We welcome the news of today‘s acquisition, which demonstrates that Google is deeply committed to defending Android, its partners, and the entire ecosystem.”
The heads of LG and Sony Ericsson also released very similar statements.
It’s a Bad Business
The smartphone business is sees its share of cutthroat tactics, and an increasingly popular one is the patent lawsuit. Rather than competing on who makes the better software and handsets, some companies have taken to seeing who can find the best lawyers.
The basic issue is that the patent system in the United States is about as broken as it can be. The U.S. Patent Office is woefully underfunded and understaffed, so every day companies are given patents that are too broad, or for things that are obvious. The companies than turn around and use these bad patents as the basis for a lawsuit against one or more of their top competitors.
Now that we know the real reason for Google buying Motorola, we’re still going to have to deal with the unintended consequences. When one company makes both the operating system and some of the most popular devices running it, there’s plenty of potential for problems.
The setup that works best is for one company to develop the system software and then license it to hardware makers. This way there’s little chance of favoritism. For example, all that Microsoft cares about is that there are lots of computers sold running Windows, it makes no difference to Steve Ballmer who makes these.
If you want ann opposite of what can go wrong, Palm, Inc. once made the Palm OS and made the Palm line of PDAs. The other companies that licensed this operating system, most notably Sony, frequently complained that Palm gave itself unfair advantages, such as adding features to the OS specifically for Palm’s own hardware.
Google has promised that this won’t happen with Motorola Mobility. It’s new acquisition is going to be run as a separate company which will keep its own name. Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google, said, “Google remains firmly committed to Android as an open platform and a vibrant open source community. We will continue to work with all of our valued Android partners to develop and distribute innovative Android-powered devices.”
But going forward, Google is going to have to be very careful about no showing favoritism to Motorola Mobility. It has to avoid even the appearance of favoritism. If it doesn’t, Samsung, HTC and LG, and others are going to have some serious complaints, and might even stop making Android-based devices if they don’t think they can compete against Google’s own hardware division.
That’s a worst-case scenario I know. But it’s important to think about how events can go wrong some time in the future if you want to avoid them.
Related Article on Brighthand:
July 21, 2011 1:28 PM
Posted by: Ed Hardy
Brighthand was sent a Motorola Droid 3 so we can write a review on it. While I won’t be taking this on, I did get to spend a short time with this cutting-edge Android smartphone while I snapped a few pictures and took some video. I’d like to share a few of my thoughts about this device, based on this brief experience.
I was happy to get a chance to try out the Droid 3 (however briefly) because the original Droid was my primary smartphone for many months last year. I liked it, but I could also see room for improvement. Motorola has included just about all the enhancements I wanted.
The most obvious of these is a larger display. This is a 4-inch qHD touchscreen, up from the 3.7-inch WVGA display in the first two models in this series.
And there’s now a better keyboard. The Droid 3 sports five rows of keys, including a set dedicated to numbers.
Thanks to the dual-core processor, performance on this model is sweet. I had just time enough with this handset to perform my favorite stress test: I tried some Flash video, which worked beautifully.
The downside of the various hardware improvements is size. This is a bulky smartphone — it’s roughly as big as my original Droid is when it was in its protective case.
There wasn’t time for any more testing, as I needed to box the Motorola Droid 3 up and send it off to Adama D. Brown, who will be writing the full review. Keep an eye on Brighthand in the coming days for his thoughts on this cutting-edge smartphone.
July 15, 2011 11:56 AM
Posted by: Ed Hardy
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Sprint’s unlimited data plan is really unlimited. And it’s the only U.S. carrier that can say this.
Sprint clearly agrees with me that it’s worth repeating. It has released a series of commercials with this theme, but in the TiVo world we live I know there are loads of people who never see any commercials, so here’s the latest:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/jphXLfKO2yg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Rivals: “Unlimited” Doesn’t mean Unlimited
AT&T stopped offering its unlimited plan to new customers last year. Just last week, Verizon did the same. Long-time Verizon subscribers who already had such a plan can keep it, but it’s not really unlimited. There’s a soft cap on how much data users can transfer each month. The top 5% of data users on the network can have their bandwidth slowed. T-Mobile does something similar.
T-Mobile and Verizon argue that you’re not cut off after you hit their soft caps, but can continue to transfer data, albeit at a considerably slower rate, so their plans are still unlimited. But this sounds like sophistry to me.
Sprint, on the other hand, has no soft cap. You can transfer all the data you want. Surf the Web to your heart’s content, download all the Netflix movies you want, sign up for Spotify, get a Vulkano, go nuts.
OK, there are a few restrictions: you can’t host a website over a Sprint wireless connection, or hook it to a webcam so that video is streamed 24 hours a day. But these seem reasonable to me.
It seems crystal clear: if you’re a hard-core smartphone user who doesn’t want to be tied to a Wi-Fi network, then Sprint is the way to go.
Related Articles on Brighthand
July 12, 2011 9:42 AM
Posted by: Ed Hardy
The market-tracking company comScore keeps an eye on the battle between the various smartphone operating systems. There was a significant change covered in its latest report: during the March-May period of this year, Apple’s iOS passed RIM’s BlackBerry OS in popularity among U.S. phone users.
Just a year or so ago, Research In Motion (RIM) was on top of the smartphone world. No longer. It’s now in third place and dropping. Google’s Android OS is now the top dog, followed by the iOS.
|Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Avg. Ending May 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
||Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
|Total Smartphone Subscribers
Following the Changes
comScore gave no reasons for these changes, but I think I can supply them. It’s all about new models. The operating systems that have lots of new products are growing, the ones that don’t aren’t.
A number of companies are making Android-based smartphones: HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, etc. These were pouring out new handsets this spring, practically flooding the market. These were noticeably improved over last-year’s offerings, with better screens and faster processors. It’s no surprise that Android is on the rise.
To understand Apple’s numbers you have to keep in mind what comScore is tracking. These figures aren’t for new device purchases, they are the total number of Americans who own a smartphone. That’s why it makes sense that Apple’s share of the market was flat this spring: the company hasn’t put out a new iPhone since the middle of last year, so there’s not going to be any growth, but users of i-products tend to be very loyal, so they aren’t likely to switch to Android.
RIM, on the other hand, also hasn’t refreshed its product line since last year, but its once-loyal customer base is starting to drift away. This is because it is losing the battle for third-party developers. Smartphone shoppers are looking at the huge array of apps available for the iOS and Android and they want access to them. RIM is trying to switch to a new, better operating system but this might be too late.
Microsoft is the exception to this rule. It introduced a new operating system late last year, Windows Phone 7, and a number of new devices were released to run it. But there’s a wrinkle: most of the fans of Windows Phone 6.5 were business users, but the new 7.0 version was built to appear to consumers. And so far, consumers haven’t embraced it. Hence the drop in U.S. marketshare.
Like RIM, Palm needs to get some new smartphones on the market. It’s now a part of HP (and comScore’s report should reflect this change) but this company has yet to introduce any compelling new webOS-based handsets. That’s why it was bad news that the HP Pre 3 has reportedly been delayed until this fall. The webOS is fine operating system, but it’s not going to grow in marketshare based on the models that are available now.