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HTC: Phasing Out Or Phoenix?

Posted by wicked March - 24 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

HTC sinking

It was announced recently that Cher Wang would replace Peter Chou as CEO of HTC. Chou has now taken up a role in the Future Development Lab, as a drastic shift was almost inevitable considering HTC’s recent performance in both share price and market share. However this could be a case of too little, too late.

Employees of HTC spoke to us recently at a conference and when asked about the future of the company with Wang as CEO, they stated that in their personal opinion there would be no remarkable changes or fundamental shift to the company which would carry on its current path. This must be a case of hubris, it is clear from the figures that the company does in fact need to turn itself around and adapt. During the first quarter of 2014, BNP Paribas placed the market share at just 1%. Whilst they managed to claw back their share up to 1.6%, according to the Marketing Intelligence & Consulting Institute and DigiTimes Research, even this brief respite is expected to drop to just 1.4% this year. This is even more disappointing considering they had a 2.6% market share in 2013 as reported by Gartner. We were told that Cher has been increasingly working with many of the employees and various aspects of the business over the last two years and there is an air of optimism over the change in leadership.

HTC has big things planned for this year, but so far they seem beset with problems. Their VR headset, the Vive which has been developed in conjunction with gaming company Valve, is due to ship to developers this spring. Due to the 90HZ refresh rate, the device is still required to be connected to the PC in control via wires making it less than perfect for the freedom of movement they originally intended. They still hope to have a commercial model ready before the end of the year, which would make sense if they wish to target the winter holiday market. Another issue would appear to be the price tag. In an interview with MCV, Jeff Gattis, head of marketing for HTC, said “Starting with the premium experience, even if it has a slightly higher price point, is the right thing to do from a strategic point of view.” The price tag is set to decrease eventually but as we know initial sales can make a big difference as to how a product is perceived by the masses.

The company has also recently announced their “Uh Oh” service, whereby they will offer new users a one time replacement in the first 12 months of purchasing a new HTC One M8 or M9. The service will cover you for cracked screens, water damage or even a change of carriers.  If you do not need to use this service, they will gift you $100 off your next HTC One device. This excellent offer is currently only available in the US and when asked about the service coming to Europe, we were informed that they are not announcing or supporting “Uh Oh” in the rest of the world yet, due to  the requirement of factoring this service in to build costs of the devices. However at the same conference, Huawei owned Honor discussed their own replacement service which will cover the UK in a trial before moving to other countries, where upon damaging your device Honor will ship you a replacement the same day and pick up your old. With this expected emulation of the service from other OEMs, HTC may find that outside of the US their market share will decline as consumers who are attracted to this offer seek out other manufacturers (we expect more companies to follow) who will stand by them when they need it.

The One M9 was recently discovered to reach a cozy 132 degrees Fahrenheit during the GFXBench benchmark test when run by Dutch company Tweakers. After getting the chance to use one of the devices yesterday, we were informed that benchmarks were not allowed due to the device not being a final commercial product. Whilst an OTA update has been said to cool the device, the damage may have already done. In just five minutes around the HTC booth at March Of The Droids, we heard plenty of quips about the device. Instead of being known for its exceptional audio, 20MP camera or larger battery this device seems fated to go down in history as the device you could cook a steak on. This is unfortunate as research by Pew shows that the majority of Americans perform research on a product online before purchasing, it is not long before any one searching for information about the M9 on Google runs into a wall of articles and sites about this issue.

HTC is now trailing behind many Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi who are rapidly expanding, with many of these companies offering high end devices for less. These companies are adapting to the current markets much faster and as such we may eventually see them take on the US and European markets to the same affect. If Wang hopes to bring the company back to the position they once had, they will have to make quick changes.

HTC has a long history of creating exceptional devices and also has a strong and long lasting development backing, starting with the first commercially available Android phone the HTC G1 which even had a working version of CM10 Android 4.1.1 released. They are not disappearing anytime soon and if they can establish their new products and services we could see them become the power they once were. The recent change of power could be just what the company needed, allowing for a new strategy and change of direction. Even without large changes in the immediate future, Peter Chou and Cher Wang surely can now focus their efforts on the parts of the company that will benefit most.

The post HTC: Phasing Out Or Phoenix? appeared first on xda-developers.

Android phones and tablets news:

Android Central

The BBC has posted an extensive update on its future plans for the BBC iPlayer Android app. In the coming months, the corporation says it's main aims are to reach feature parity with the iOS app, and introduce new, high-quality streams and better support for large-screen devices.

In a blog post, BBC iPlayer boss Dave Price says the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 are now in the top five devices used to access iPlayer content. And in order to give 7-inch users the best experience, Price says a "significant engineering team" will be put behind improving iPlayer playback on Android devices.

Firstly, the BBC will improve video quality for higher-end devices on fast networks. This will start with new, higher-quality streams for Wifi users before Christmas, followed at a later date by additional high-quality streams for playback over 4G mobile networks.

In order to close the gap in functionality between iPlayer on Android and iOS, features like mobile downloads and iPlayer Radio (including background playback) will be brought to Android in the near future. A future version will introduce a new UI, upon which this new functionality will be built in the months ahead.

What's more, Price says a pre-Christmas iPlayer update will enable Android 4.2 support. (Current support tops out at version 4.1.2, though it is possible to install the app on a 4.1 device, then upgrade to 4.2 and use it without issue.) The same update will bring a "richer tablet experience" on devices like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, while future updates will prioritize optimizations for "the most popular devices."

The current iPlayer app has offered a decent but basic experience on Android, so we're pleased to see the Beeb taking a greater interest in optimizing for up-and-coming devices. And of course video quality improvements are always welcome. We'll look forward to trying out the new iPlayer update in the next couple of weeks. If you're after more technical details, the full blog post over at the source link is definitely worth a read.

Source: BBC Blog

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Qualcomm predicts 5 billion smartphones to be sold by 2016, is that even possible?

Posted by wicked November - 17 - 2012 - Saturday Comments Off

Despite TI’s (predictable) retreat from the mobile processor market, the industry’s future still looks rosy, with Qualcomm, Samsung, NVIDIA and Intel all ready to battle it out for a place in our hearts.

But how much further can the mobile market be pushed in a world with seven billion people and six billion subscriptions? A whole lot, according to Qualcomm, who’s predicting a whopping 5 billion smartphones to be sold between 2012 and 2016.

Not impressed? How about if I were to tell you that only 1 billion smartphones were in use in Q3 2012? Now think about a world where that number would be multiplied five times in only four years. Of course, Qualcomm mentioned nothing about the number of smartphones in use in 2016, but we should still expect the 1 billion from now to double or treble.

Qualcomm also thinks that 650 million tablets and laptops will be sold in 2016 alone, and, while we have no idea where they got their numbers, this is a respected company that we don’t think would ever pull outlandish figures out of its officials’ behinds. What do you guys think? Is it even physically possible for that many smartphones to be sold in such a short time frame?

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Motorola phases out Webtop, points to a Lapdock-shy world

Posted by wicked October - 7 - 2012 - Sunday Comments Off

Android phones and tablets news:

Motorola phases out Webtop, points at a Lapdockshy world

When Motorola launched its Webtop concept alongside the original Atrix 4G, it had grand visions of replacing our PCs with a smartphone, a Lapdock and some optimism for a mobile-focused future. Most of us don’t appear to have shared that rose-tinted view, as Motorola has confirmed that devices from the Photon Q 4G LTE and Droid RAZR M onward don’t carry Webtop and won’t get it in the future. The firm is blunt in explaining the cut and says that “adoption has not been strong enough” — we just weren’t buying those desktop- and laptop-oriented docks in the large numbers Motorola would need to devote further attention. As CNET explains, the move isn’t surprising in light of Google’s cost cutting as well as an initial $500 Lapdock price that likely chilled any momentum, even after prices dropped to as little as $200 in the Atrix 2 era. We’d also point to a market that still favors budget laptops and tablets: when $400 will get you an entirely separate Transformer Pad TF300, albeit without a keyboard, it’s hard to justify buying what amounts to an empty shell. At least we’ll still have our PadFone to keep us company while you read the full statement below.

Motorola’s Webtop app helps users extend their smartphone experience to larger screens. While consumers around the world have adopted Webtop and the concept spurred a lot of innovation in the industry, the adoption has not been strong enough to justify continued resources being allocated to developing Webtop on future devices. We have also seen development of the Android operating system focus on the inclusion of more desktoplike features. Beginning with Photon Q and Droid Razr M/Droid Razr HD/Droid Razr Maxx HD, we will no longer be including Webtop on our products moving forward.

Filed under: Cellphones, Peripherals, Mobile, Google

Motorola phases out Webtop, points to a Lapdock-shy world originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 07 Oct 2012 13:20:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Multi-user support shows itself in Jelly Bean, but it’s definitely not finished yet

Posted by wicked August - 3 - 2012 - Friday Comments Off

Android phones and tablets news:

Android Central

Something a lot of us really want to see in Android, is support for multiple accounts on a device. With the ever increasing uptake of tablet use, it would be pretty awesome to be able to have one tablet with a different account for each member of your family. Lord knows, you wouldn't want your kids Justin Bieber apps littering your home screens so being able to give them their own sign in would be positive for all. You do it on your computer, so why wouldn't you want to do it on your tablet. 

Over recent days and weeks since the launch of Jelly Bean, various parties around the interwebs have been diving into the code and really getting into the details. Your average user — and sometimes average Android Central writer — wouldn't even know where to begin or what we might hope to see. Thankfully for us the community is filled with those who are never happier than when knee deep in code, and what has been recently revealed is reference to future multi-user account support. It's clearly not even close to being ready for the prime time — if it was, we'd have it already — but it is there. And, with a little bit of tinkering, you can see it for yourselves on your Jelly Bean device. 

The key word is tinkering, and the key components are root access and a terminal emulator on the device. Heading into the terminal, you have to enter the command for superuser access, "su", and once you're in you can go ahead and create yourselves a new account. The next command you'll need to enter is:

pm create-user (insert account name)

And that's it. When you come out of terminal back to the home screen, hold down the power button and the menu presented to you will look a little bit like that you see here. Upon selecting your alternatively created user account, it'll be as if you've just fired up your device for the very first time. Tutorials and all. 

So, it's pretty cool to try out, and it's great news that it's there — somewhere — because it just reinforces the chances that future builds of Android will be seeing this as a full feature. But, while cool, it's far from usable. For one, any app updates that your main account notifies you of allows a backdoor into the Play Store and all the apps you've already purchased. Hitting the Play Store icon from the app drawer does prompt to add a Google account, but with a hole the size of that you aren't going to want to put much faith into it just yet. And, without passwords to protect each login, you're really better off not bothering. 

But, we need to remember again that this isn't a feature yet, and it is far from finished. The story is, it should be coming in the future. Maybe a future Jelly Bean update, maybe the next version of Android, who knows. They're obviously working on it though. 

Just for a little extra if you want to take a look at this for yourselves, hit the break for a walkthrough video. 

Source: XDA via Slashgear

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Best Buy, Staples and Future Shop Canada now taking pre-orders for the Nexus 7

Posted by wicked July - 8 - 2012 - Sunday Comments Off

Android phones and tablets news:

Nexus 7

At this point, it's no secret that retailers across various regions will be adding the Nexus 7 to  their tablet offerings but now Best Buy, Staples and Future Shop Canada have gone ahead and set up their pre-orders for the first Android 4.1 Jelly Bean tablet. Oddly, it seems retailers are opting to not offer the lower priced 8GB version and instead jumping to the higher priced 16GB version. Whether or not the 8GB version will make an appearance later isn't known but either way, the $259.99 asking price isn't all that bad no matter how you slice it for what you're putting yourself into.

Of course, Google Play ordering is still the better option here considering you can get an additional $25 in apps when ordering direct but when these devices it hit stores, it should help those waiting to get a hands-on before diving in help decide if it's everything they are expecting. Speaking of dates, Best Buy and Future Shops says they'll be arriving in the warehouse on July 10th while Staples says July 14th. We'll be keeping our eye on whom, exactly ends up with them first. In the meantime, have you read our Nexus 7 review yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

Sources: Staples, Best Buy, Future Shop

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The Life And Trials Of Android: A Beautiful Mess That Is Destined To Survive

Posted by wicked May - 29 - 2012 - Tuesday Comments Off

1

First, A Brief Introduction…

If you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention to the tech world for the past year or two, you’re probably well aware that Android has more or less taken over the smartphone scene. Way back in June of 2010, Google revealed that 160,000 Android devices were being activated per day – at the time, that was more than double the combined total of iPhone, Mac, and iPad activations. According to comScore, Android had already conquered 28.7% of the market in December of 2010. In March of 2011 – just a few short months later – comScore’s numbers showed market share had leapt to 34.7%.

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Why I Want an Android Brain Implant

Posted by wicked March - 7 - 2012 - Wednesday Comments Off

In this day and age, technology is designed to make our lives simpler. We no longer need to pull over to a rest area to use a payphone. Paper maps are quickly becoming a thing of the past. We can now carry thousands of books with us without requiring years of weight training. The devices we carry with us every day are rapidly becoming indispensable.

So this is why we freak out when we suddenly don’t have access to our smartphones, either through damage or loss. This single point of failure is why we have a growing market of protective phone cases, insurance, and remote wipe software. How can we guarantee we’ll never lose or break our phones? Only one way I see…remove the device from the equation.

If there was no physical device we had to keep track of, there would obviously be no fear of losing it. But the device is what gives us the power to do all those wonderful things. So what if we natively had the same abilities our smartphones have without having to carry anything around? Enter the Android Brain Implant™ (ABI).

Navigation
Imagine a world where you had the power to get directions while driving just by thinking it. The little GPS voice would be in your head telling you exactly when to turn, and no one else would hear it. Your vision would suddenly contain a heads-up-display (HUD) with street names and arrows. Even traffic information could be displayed and you’d never have to take your eyes off the road.

Search
I would like to just think the words “Search: Who invented White-Out?” and automatically know the answer (Bette Nesmith Graham, mother of Monkees guitarist Michael Nesmith). Today, when we need to find an answer to anything, we immediately reach for our smartphones. Barroom debates end early when information is accessible quickly. But taking your phone out at a beer garden doesn’t always end up being a good idea. Beer is spilled, phones are dropped, or phones are accidentally left behind and sold to blog sites (zing!).

But if everyone just knew the answers, or at least had the ability to find the answers just by asking our Android Brain Implant™, we’d simply continue our conversations with no worries. As a matter of fact, our conversations would take on a whole new dimension since everyone would have immediate access to information, essentially making us all super smart. Sure, our current smartphones provide that access, but how often do we actually put it to good use? Just the physical act of having to take it out, perform a search, and parse the results is enough of a barrier that it is only done when absolutely necessary.

Wireless Networking
Of course, the Android Brain Implant™ would need to have wireless access to the Internet at all times, as well as a personal handshake mechanism to be able to connect with other folks with the ABI installed. Easily exchange contact info by fist-bumping. Send a mental text by looking at someone and selecting “mental text” from the augmented reality HUD that pops up whenever you see people you recognize. It’s like you’re RoboCop… and we all know you’ve always wanted to be RoboCop. Who hasn’t?

The one thing we’ll have to work out is the whole carrier situation. To make the commitment to get the technology implanted, I would have to be certain that I would not incur any “mind wandering” fees or “mental overage” charges, not to mention being throttled if we think too much. Who would you trust as the service provider for your own head?

Of course the advertising writes itself: “Sprint a Head”, “Verizon – Rule the Hair”, and “AT&T – Your World, Delivered… To Your Head.” Yeah, AT&T is not that creative.

Camera
Nothing is higher resolution than our own eyes. I want the ability to snap a picture of what I am looking at, including what is in focus and what is in my peripheral vision. Make it a panoramic of my entire field of vision. Save the images from both eyes to get a 3D picture. And save it all automatically to my PicasaHead account, hosted on Google++ (the extra plus is for those who are “augmented” with the ABI).

Gaming
Imagine how cool games on the ABI could be. It would make Xbox Kinect games seem like Pong. Our entire bodies can act as sensors feeding our ABI the data it needs to control the games. Controllers would truly be a thing of the past. A boxing game would be so real we could even feel the punches. Why not? We’re tied into our brain so it’s as simple as stimulating the right spot to simulate the sense of touch… or punch.

Remember Star Trek’s Holodeck? Crap. This is a holodeck IN YOUR FREAKIN’ HEAD. No special room required. Multiplayer games would take on a whole new meaning, connecting to others on a much deeper level. Which brings us to the next point…

Porn
Steve Jobs said that “folks who want porn can buy an Android phone.” I would now amend that to “folks who want to be IN a porn can buy an Android Brain Implant™.” I won’t go into morality or anything like that, but people are people. In a world where VHS beat out Betamax because you could only get porn on VHS, I would say this would be a huge selling point. An Apple Brain Implant would probably force you to submit your thoughts to Apple for curation and only the thoughts it deemed appropriate would provide results.

The image below shows just how real porn can be using the ABI. I bet you want one now, huh?

Schedules, Tasks, Alarms
One of the most common uses of a smartphone is to keep us organized and on time. We depend on calendar reminders and alarms, and we keep track of everything we need to do. This is the bread and butter of smartphones. The ABI would obviously be able to do all these things just by thinking the correct phrases.

For example, I could think “Abbey,” I’ve named my ABI Abbey for obvious reasons, “set alarm for 7AM tomorrow and wake me up to the sounds of the rainforest.” I would then get woken up exactly at 7 by an internal recording of loggers and chainsaws. Hmm, didn’t think that one through. Next time I’ll try whale songs.

Conclusion
By now, it should be obvious that the Android Brain Implant™ needs to become a reality. Besides being practical, it’s just as cool as it gets. Just make sure you get the Nexus model, otherwise you’ll have to wait a long time for updates and you’ll have a manufacturer skin applied. For some reason, I just don’t want MotoBlur or TouchWiz inside me.



Chrome boss suggests full-screen browsing and desktop view coming to Chrome on Android

Posted by wicked February - 21 - 2012 - Tuesday Comments Off

Android phones and tablets news:

Android Central

Google released the first beta version of Chrome for Android a couple of weeks ago, giving Android 4.0 phone and tablet owners the chance to try out the new mobile version of its web browser. Today Google's senior vice president of Chrome, Sundar Pichai, gave the first hints about which features to expect in upcoming releases, in an interview with CNET.

Answering a question on consumer reaction to Chrome for Android, Pichai said that two features in particular had been frequently requested — full-screen browsing and a "request desktop page" option. Both features are present in the stock ICS browser, but neither is available in the current Chrome beta, but Pichai seems to indicate that may change in the future — "both fully make sense", he says, but "we just want to do them correctly and well."

Of course, there've also been a few complaints about the lack of Flash support in Chrome for Android. On that subject, the king of Chrome says that the fate of Flash has already been decided by Adobe — "following their road map, [Adobe] clearly said they'll not support Flash for mobile in the future."

Elsewhere in the interview, Pichai restates Google's commitments to Chrome OS and Chromebooks, despite continuing suggestions that Google's second OS should instead be rolled into a future Android release. He says, "we got a lot of positive feedback, and we are really looking forward to the next generation of Chromebooks."

Source: CNET

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AcerCloud unveiled, bringing free cloud connectivity to all future Acer PCs

Posted by wicked January - 8 - 2012 - Sunday Comments Off

Android phones and tablets news:

Acer’s just previewed its latest entry to cloud computing, aptly titled AcerCloud, allowing users to access multimedia and data files remotely whether or not their main PC is asleep. The feature will be available free of cost on all future consumer Acer PCs. Acer’s latest enlists the outfit’s Always Connect service to wake up PCs from sleep mode, enabling transfer from smartphones and tablets. Among the services included are PicStream, which allows for cloud-based photo sharing, AcerCloud Docs, for storing and accessing (guess what?) documents, and clear.fi that allows for streaming of media from the cloud to almost any device. Compatibility is currently limited to Android smartphones and tablets, but support is apparently in the works for Windows-based devices. The feature will start popping up on new PCs in Q2 2012. For more, check out the full PR after the break.

Continue reading AcerCloud unveiled, bringing free cloud connectivity to all future Acer PCs

AcerCloud unveiled, bringing free cloud connectivity to all future Acer PCs originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 08 Jan 2012 16:03:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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