In an interesting move, superpower Google bought the consumer-oriented arm of Motorola known as Motorola Mobility for a cool $12.5 billion (at a price of $40 per share) on Monday. In a press release the pending acquisition is explained:
The acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a dedicated Android partner, will enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. Google will run Motorola Mobility as a separate business.
Google CEO Larry Page says, ”Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.”
This is a huge move made by Google. Like Microsoft and Nokia, Google and Motorola are going to take advantage of their partnership by harnessing the power of Android software and the might of Moto’s hardware to create amazing products for consumers. Keep in mind that the Mobility division goes beyond smartphones and also includes other consumer devices like set top boxes; no doubt Google will work with Motorola to ensure the growth of products like Google TV. And on the business end of things, the acquisition ”will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies,” says Page.
As the acquisition takes hold, a few questions remain. What will happen to Moto’s custom Android skin called MotoBlur? Will all future handsets built by Moto come loaded with the latest version of plain vanilla Android? Will the next Nexus phone come from Goog’s new partner? Time will tell.
One thing’s for certain: even though Google and Moto are tied to one another, the Android platform remains open for all hardware manufacturers to utilize; healthy competition is here to stay. Full PR after the break.
Samsung Galaxy Tab coming to Verizon Wireless November 11 for $599.99 [Update: Sprint & T-Mobile details]
If you’ve been hunting for an iPad alternative to satisfy your tablet needs, look no further than here. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab will be sold through Verizon Wireless for $599.99 come November 11. You want specs? Oh, I got specs. The Tab sports a 7-inch (1024×600, WSVGA) multitouch display, 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor, rear-facing 3 megapixel camera with LED flash and autofocus, front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, 2GB of onboard storage with 16 GB pre-installed on a microSD card (expandable memory up to 32GB), 802.11n WiFi, A-GPS, and a headphone jack. It weighs 13 ounces and is 12 millimeters thin; Sammy says it can “easily fit into a jeans’ backpocket”, but I’m not so sure about that. The display supports full HD 1080p video playback and the rear-facing camera can shoot up to 720p at 30 fps. The browser supports Adobe Flash Player 10.1.
The Tab runs Android 2.2 (aka Froyo) with a tweaked version of Samsung’s TouchWiz skin on top. Google Maps Navigation and Google Goggles come preinstalled, along with Swype keyboard functionality. Apps like Qik and Fring are available to download in the Android Market and can be used for video chatting over a WiFi connection. In addition to its custom skin, Samsung is throwing in some of their own apps they think will be useful for users. The Media Hub offers a ”vast lineup of critically acclaimed films and TV programs for rent or purchase.” Samsung has partnered with MTV Networks, NBC, Paramount, and Universal Studios Home Entertainment to bring media content to Tab owners. Purchased content can be shared with up to five devices that carry the Media Hub application. The Social Hub “works with the user’s Messaging and Contacts to initiate the sending and receiving of information, whether it is e-mail, instant messaging, social network updates or SMS messages.” Also, calendar information from portal calendars like Google Calendar and social networks can be unified into one calender view. There’s also a Document Viewer & Editor that can open and make changes to any Word, Excel, Powerpoint or PDF document, AllShare DLNA Technology can stream content to DLNA-compatable devices, and Daily Briefing gives you access to updated weather, news, stocks, and schedules. Accessories will be sold separately: keyboard dock ($99.99), desktop dock ($49.99), car/GPS dock ($99.99).
The Tab will eventually be sold through all major US carriers (including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile), but it’s coming to Verizon Wireless first. The Tab on VZW will sell for $599.99 with no strings attached, meaning there’s no required 2-year contract obligation. You can access the Internet on it using WiFi, and if you so choose you can add an optional 3G plan and pay $20/month for 1GB of data. Users can access V CAST Apps, Verizon’s mobile storefront for apps, and the Tab will come preloaded with V CAST Music, V CAST Song ID, VZ Navigator, Slacker Radio, Kindle for Android, BLOCKBUSTER On Demand, and a game called “Let’s Golf.” Text, picture and video messaging is supported, but voice calling is not. I repeat, the Tab is not a cell phone. It may look like an oversized Android handset, but it cannot make and receive calls in the U.S.
Look in the gallery below to check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab from all angles, and jump after the break to watch a 10 minute “official demo” of the Android tablet.
Update (10/25): Today Sprint shared pricing details for their version of the Galaxy Tab. Sprint customers can purchase the Tab for $399.99 with an obligatory two-year contract and they’ll need to cough up $29.99/month for 2GB of data or $59.99 for 5GB. Preorders start today and it releases November 14.
Update 2 (10/27): T-Mobile will sell the Tab for $399.99 on a two-year contract. A $35 activation fee is required. Goes on sale November 10.
Update 3: The Tab is also coming to U.S. Cellular, but price and a release date have not been detailed yet.
Apple reports 2010 Q4 earnings: “highest revenue and earnings ever”; Steve Jobs calls out Google & RIM
As 2010 nears its end, it’s time for companies to share how well (or poorly) they performed during the fourth quarter of the year. As is the norm for Apple, Inc., Q4 has been another record breaker for them. Apple posted a record revenue of $20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion. Compare this to one year ago, that’s up from a revenue of $12.21 billion and profit of $2.53 billion. Says CEO Steve Jobs: “We are blown away to report over $20 billion in revenue and over $4 billion in after-tax earnings-both all-time records for Apple. iPhone sales of 14.1 million were up 91 percent year-over-year, handily beating the 12.1 million phones RIM sold in their most recent quarter. We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of this calendar year.”
Now let’s break it down by product category. Apple sold 3.89 million Macs during the quarter (representing a 27 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter); 14.1 million iPhones (representing a 91 percent unit growth); 9.05 million iPods (representing an 11 percent unit decline); and 4.19 million iPads were sold, succeeding the number of Macs sold! That’s some crazy stuff right there. And as for Jobs’ “hobby” that is Apple TV? The new model sold 250,000 units over the course of its first 18 days on sale.
Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2011, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer expects revenue of about $23 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $4.80. Saying this was a tremendous quarter for Apple is a huge understatement.
Normally this is where the Apple quarterly earnings post would conclude, but El Jobso couldn’t contain his excitement over the record breaking numbers so he decided to jump onto the conference call (listen to it here) and share some thoughts. Charged thoughts on the competition. Some choice quotes:
On RIM’s business model: “[iPhone] handily beat RIM’s most recent quarter. We’ve now passed RIM and I don’t see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future. They must move beyond their area of strength and comfort into the unfamiliar territory of trying to become a software platform company. I think it’s going to be a challenge for them to create a competitive platform and to convince developers to create apps for yet a third software platform, after iOS and Android. With 300k apps on Apple’s app store, RIM has a high mountain ahead of them to climb.” “I think at least now it’s a battle for developers, and a battle for the mindshare of developers, and a battle for the mindshare of customers, and I think right now iPhone and Android are winning that battle.”
On Google’s Android “openess” & fragmentation: “Google wants to characterize Android as open, and iOS and the iPhone as closed. We think this is disingenuous. Unlike Windows, which has the same interface on every machine, Android is very fragmented. Compare this with iPhone, where every interface is the same.” “Twitter client TwitterDeck recently launched their app for Android. They reported that they had to contend with more than 100 different version of Android software on 244 different handsets. The multiple hardware and software iterations presented developers with a daunting challenge.” “We think this open versus closed argument is a smokescreen that hides the real question: What’s better for users, fragmented versus integrated?” “We are very committed to the integrated approach, no matter how many times Google characterizes it as closed, and we believe that it will trump the fragmented approach, no matter how many times Google characterizes it as open.”
Google intros Voice Actions, Chrome to Phone; updates Gmail UI and contacts section, enables multiple account sign-in
On Thursday Google introduced a new app for Android devices called Voice Actions. “Voice Actions are a series of spoken commands that let you control your phone using your voice.” Sounds simple and yet it is extremely helpful. There are a total of twelve voice actions you can perform by speaking into the device’s mic. Including the already implemented method of performing a Google search with your voice, other actions include:
Here’s how a number of them work. You can complete a text message or email without touching the (physical or on-screen) keyboard simply by saying “send text to Bill Will” or “send email to Bill Will” respectively. The phone will take a second to understand your speech input and then present your message all ready for delivery. Tapping send will shoot your message off. Speak and send, it’s that simple. Voice actions extend beyond text messaging and emailing. Say there’s a restaurant you want to call to make reservations for dinner. You know the name and location of the restaurant, but you don’t have the business’ phone number handy. You could bring up the browser and find the number that way, but with voice actions you can more quickly and efficiently obtain and dial the restaurant’s number. The voice action “Call Sarabeth’s in NYC” will prompt your device to quickly search the Internet (using Google Maps) for the restaurant’s phone number by pinging the name and specific location. Within seconds of your voice action you’ll hear your phone ringing the restaurant or place of business. You can even use voice actions to find and listen to music. When you say “Listen to The Decemberists” your phone will search across your music library and any number of related apps (Pandora, last.fm, etc.) to start playing music from that particular band. “Note to self”, as cliche as it sounds, serves as another interesting voice action that’ll likely come in handy from time to time.
Voice Actions require Android 2.2 (Froyo) and they are currently available for U.S. English speakers only. Droid 2 owners will find the app preinstalled on their device. If you have an Android 2.2 device, search ‘Voice Search’ in the Android Market to find the free download.
Google also announced Chrome to Phone, a Chrome browser extention and Android app that communicate with each other to send browser-specific information from your desktop to your phone. Once you have Chrome to Phone installed on your desktop and phone, you can send websites, directions, and phone numbers from your desktop Chrome browser to your Android device. For example, say you’re catching up on national news at The New York Times website but you are interuppted and forced to leave home. Simply tap the new phone icon located at the top right corner of your Chrome browser window and the website will appear on your Android phone. Now let’s say you are planning a road trip using Google Maps in Chrome. Instead of wasting paper by printing out the directions, now you can send the directions from your desktop to your phone. The instant transfer will automatically open up the Google Maps app on your phone and you’re just a tap away from initiating a Google Maps Navigation route using the transferred location information. One more example. You want to make a reservation at Sarabeth’s in NYC and you found the restaurant’s phone number on your desktop. Ready to make the call? Highlight the phone number, tap the new phone button in Chrome, and the transfer will bring up your phone’s dialer prepopulated with the restaurant’s number.
The Google Chrome to Phone Extention is available (in English only) to download today. The free Chrome to Phone app requires Android 2.2 (Froyo) and can be found in the Android Market by searching ‘Chrome to Phone.’
Look after the break to learn about Gmail’s latest updates. There you’ll also find brief video demonstrations for Voice Actions and Chrome to Phone. (Click here for more…)
According to The NPD Group, a market research company, Google’s Android smartphone OS pushed past Apple to claim second place among smartphone operating systems. Here’s the official standings for Q1 2010: #1-RIM (36%), #2- Android OS (28 %), #3- iPhone OS (21%). Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, shares the reasoning behind the shift in dominance: “As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share. In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.” And how do the popular US carriers size up, you ask? #1- AT&T (32%), #2- Verizon Wireless (30%), T-Mobile (17%), Sprint (15%). With the recent HP-Palm aquisition and iPhone OS 4, BlackBerry 6, and Windows Phone 7 mobile OS previews, the smartphone market is asking for a healthy shakeup. As a customer and gadget enthusiast, I say bring it on.
After a flurry of rumors and leaks, Google has finally stepped into the light and shared with the world the Nexus One “superphone,” a collaborative device with HTC. Let’s jump straight to the facts, shall we?
The Nexus One sports a 3.7-inch AMOLED display (480×800), 1GHz Snapdragon processor, compass, GPS, accelerometer, light and proximity sensors, stereo Bluetooth, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, Wi-Fi, 3.5mm headphone jack, and an LED light source under the trackball for notifications. It also comes with two mics (one on the bottom, the other on the back) for noise cancellation purposes. It packs a 1400mAH battery that promises 5 hours of 3G browsing and 7 hours of 3G talk time. When you order the device you have the option to engrave a custom two-line message on the back, just like Apple lets you do with the iPod classic, touch, and iPhone.
For now, the Nexus One is teamed with T-Mobile and sells for $179 with a new two year contract. You also have the option to purchase it unlockedfor $529. It will work on AT&T but without their 3G service because it only supports T-Mobile’s 3G in the US. It is available today for purchase straight from Google. Big news is that it’s coming to Verizon Wireless (and Vodafone) this spring.
Obviously the Nexus One runs Google’ Android mobile OS. What’s so special about it is that it’s the first phone to run version 2.1, a much more polished version of Android 2.0. 2.1 includes live wallpapers, home screen panels, 3D photo galleries, Voice-enabled text fields, and a zippier and more handsome experience. Unfortunately like the Droid, the Nexus One software does not include multitouch, though it definitely could handle it. On a different note, Google promises that a future update will allow users to save apps on external storage devices like SD cards.
So what’s the verdict? After having read many reviews it looks like the Google-HTC Nexus One is the phone to get if you’re all about Android. It is not an iPhone killer, and Google is quick to point out that that is not the phone’s intention. Google supports a large ecosystem of different phones, and they welcome the heavy competition the iPhone brings to the table. So, if you are all for the Android OS, I’d take the Droid on VZ or the Nexus One on T-Mobile. Of course you could always wait for the latter to make its way to VZ this spring, can’t you?
We already know all about the Droid by Motorola. Now you can pick it up (or order it online) for $199.99, after a $100 rebate and under the obligatory two-year commitment. Verizon has stated that tethering (connecting your phone to your computer to gain Internet access) will be made available for Droid customers in 2010 and will add an addtional $30 to the data plan.
If that price is too steep for you VZ is giving you the option to select a similar handset with the Droid Eris by HTC. Basically it’s a rebranded Sprint Hero (also by HTC) with a few aesthetic and UI changes. Compared to its older and more sophisicated brother, the Droid Eris runs Android 1.5 (not 2.0), it does not have a physical keyboard, it packs a slower processor (528MHz Qualcomm), and its screen size and resolution is lowered. It does, however, feature a 3.2-inch capacitive display, 5 megapixel camera, WiFi, 3.5mm headphone jack, 8GB microSDHC card (with expansion up to 16GB). It will be the first Verizon phone to run HTC’s personalized user interface called HTC Sense on top of Android 1.5. You can also pick up the Droid Eris now (or order it online) for $99.99, after a $100 rebate and under a two-year agreement. Take a look at the Droid Eris in the gallery below and peek after the break for the full press release.
Here’s the bottom line: The Droid by Motorola is the next best phone on the market after the iPhone. If you are in the market for a new cell phone and you are a Verizon Wireless customer, getting the Droid is a no-brainer. If the Droid’s price and fierce looks are too much for you, saving one hundred dollars and purchasing the Droid Eris by HTC is a worthy sacrifice that can be made. All in all, the new family of Droid phones is a win for all Verizon customers and finally brings some worthy competition to the current king of smartphones, the iPhone.
“What in the world is that?”
I’m really enjoying this super sci-fi viral marketing campaign. Never has Verizon created such a bold and exciting ad campaign. And it’s working; there’s much hype for tomorrow’s highly anticipated launch.
Step aside Amazon Kindle 1, 2, DX and make way for the most innovative and stylish e-reader yet. Barnes & Noble invites us to indulge in what they are calling the Nook, a 11.2 ounce (7.7- x 4.9- x 0.5-inches) e-reader device that will surely change the game in the e-reader realm. Priced at a competitive $259, the Nook features two displays, a top 6 inch e-ink display from Vizplex and a 3.5 inch LCD touchscreen below it. It includes 2GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot for expandable storage (you can load up pictures, music, and personal PDF documents), Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g), a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a microUSB port for charging. B&N claims the Nook will run for up ten days before it needs a recharge (which takes 3.5 hours). And oh yeah, it runs Google’s Android OS.
The Nook allows you to browse the B&N e-book store and choose from over one million titles. Browsing can be done cable-free via Wi-Fi (for free at Barnes & Noble stores, and onlyat B&N stores at launch) and over AT&T’s 3G data service. All books can be previewed for free and most bestsellers and new releases cost $9.99. You can also keep updated with the latest news by receiving newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Nook’s LendMe technology allows you to share your purchased books with others by wirelessly “lending” a copy of your book to their e-reader, PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, select Blackberry and Motorola phones, and soon Windows Mobile phones. All you need is the eReader Software (free) installed on your particular device. A lent copy of a book expires after 14 days.
B&N is taking preorders for the Nook today and the expected ship date is November 30. Look after the break for a video demo; see the Nook in action.
Barnes & Noble deserves a round of applause. After waiting in the shadows as companies like Amazon and Sony pumped out e-reader devices year after year, B&N has gone and surprised us all and rocked the e-reader industry with its latest creation in the Nook. Its dual-screen format looks like a winner; easy touchscreen navigation on the bottom and clear, glare-free reading on the top. It’s simple yet efficient design makes B&N’s Nook a new and worthy competitor in my book (pun intended).
With the Apple iPhone, HTC G1 (the “Google phone”), and Blackberry devices taking over the smartphone industry by storm (no pun intended, Blackberry), it’s time for Sony Ericsson (SE) to step up to the plate and offer a sleek device with updated hardware and a state-of-the-art user interface. And from the looks of it, it seems as if SE has done just that with their new handset code-named Rachael. Although the actual images of the cell phone may be artist rendering (or fakes for all we know), the user interface revealed in the embedded video above is very real and very exciting. The SE Rachael will run of Google’s Android open-source platform, with its own customized user interface layered on top. The polished UI seems to include a “unified messaging interface that displays Facebook, Twitter, email, SMS, and calls all from one screen.” Now all we can do is wait patiently for SE to officially announce the new handset and sleek UI; they better do this quickly because smartphone platforms like the iPhone are not slowing down their progress anytime soon. Look after the break (click “more…”) for images of the Rachael device. (Click here for more…)