January 29, 2014

The New Frontier: Looking for the Next Big Thing in All the Wrong Places

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Consumer technology has a problem. It’s an issue that’s been brewing for years, a natural consequence of time and success.

Everyone is looking for the next big thing, but no one can seem to find it. Companies would like you to believe that wearable technology is the new frontier, while others will argue that it is converging laptop-tablet hybrids, and some would like you to believe that your TV can be smarter. But these are all manufactured solutions to problems that don’t need to exist.

The proverbial well is running dry, and companies are scrambling to find what’s next.

Google Sells Motorola Mobility to Lenovo

Well you just have to feel for Motorola right now. After being bought by Google in a blockbuster purchase nearly 3 years ago, Motorola Mobility is once again being dealt to another company. Lenovo has reportedly agreed to purchase Motorola for $3 billion, a major devaluation of the assets that Google bought for more than $12 billion in 2011. The acquisition never quite paid off for Google, as the Motorola’s patent trove lacked the utility and power that Google would have liked, a Motorola Nexus device was never released, and Motorola was a rare sign of red ink in Google’s earnings reports. Lenovo’s plans to expand beyond computers will be aided by the acquisition, but there is little doubt that the Google-Motorola acquisition was a bit of a mulligan.

SOURCE: TechCrunch

 

January 15, 2014

Quick Read: Spotify’s Web App Now Supports Unlimited Streaming

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After unlocking its mobile tablet apps on iOS and Android, Spotify is now bringing unlimited music streaming to the web. The ad supported service no longer restricts the amount of hours allowed for streaming after a set time period. The move places Spotify competitively against its competition, where limits and mobile streaming abound. As the music streaming scene floors with new competitors almost monthly. Spotify seems to lead the pack in name recognition and features. Whether the competition can compete is a different matter, however.

Source: The Verge

November 17, 2013

Nearly a Year Later, the Nexus 4 Has Redefined the Cellular Industry

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In a marketplace filled with high end competition, Google had no choice but to sink lower.

Of course, I am referring to Google’s bold decision to price low with the Nexus 4, a move that not only has reinvigorated an industry dominated by competing high price flagships but also influenced competitors to do the same. Affordable is the new normal.

November 16, 2013

Hands on with the Surface Music Cover



I cannot drop a sick beat.

Yes, it’s true. My musical prowess is lacking, leaving me unfit for house parties, Italian discotecas, and occasional night raves at Community colleges. So it may surprise you, then, when I  say that I have had the luxury of owning the Surface Music Cover. Coupled with a Surface 2 and a DJ app, this Music Cover will supposedly allow even non-DJ’s to bust a move. That’s all good in theory, but what does that mean in practice? Will I ever remix the next hot Nickleback song? All these pressing questions are answered after the break.

October 27, 2013

Basking in the Afterglow: Reflektor is a Messy, Inspired Album from Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire was in a position they had never been before. After winning a Grammy in 2010 for The Suburbs, the indie rock darlings from Montreal had entered the general public consciousness. People began to ask “who is Arcade Fire?” That answer has arisen with their new album Reflektor: “Let’s find out.”

 A deviation from previous efforts, Reflektor is by far the flashiest and most ornamental of Arcade Fire albums. Whereas entries like Funeral and Neon Bible were defined by relatively simple rock albums with guitars, violins, and pianos, Refektor is very much a disco record, featuring synthesizers, warbling filters, and sounds akin to distorted tunes from the 1970’s. It is a far cry from anything Arcade Fire has ever done before, a necessary evolution borne out of popularity. But with a succesful established formula, is the change any good?

October 4, 2013

For Microsoft, HTC Licensing Deal Just Makes Sense


Finally.

After news today that Microsoft was considering removing Windows Phone licensing fees for HTC, Microsoft is now making the moves that it should have a long time ago. Windows Phone 8 is not in particularly high demand at the moment, and with Microsoft acquiring Nokia, few OEMs such as HTC will like to play Microsoft at its own hardware-software game. HTC is in a similarly bad position, struggling with its Android phones next to an increasingly dominant Samsung. If Microsoft wants to succeed with Windows Phone, Microsoft should drop the licensing fee that it charges for the mobile OS.
As it stands today, Microsoft earns about $30 through licensing the Windows Phone to manufacturers. Outside of Nokia, however, their handset support for Windows Phone has all but evaporated, and Microsoft's "signature partner" HTC has only produced three Windows Phone devices since last year's September launch. Simply put, Windows Phone isn't in demand enough to justify a licensing fee. Something has to change.

If Microsoft were to disassociate the fee from the phone OS, they stand to gain tangible benefits. Though Microsoft would lose that $30, they could potentially gain more OEMs that seek a free OS alternative to Android. Android has become legalistic nightmare, with patent lawsuits and infringement coming from, ironically, Microsoft. Samsung has come to dominate the Android phone landscape, to the point that everyday people identify Android phones as “Galaxies.” To OEMs barely making a dent on the Android landscape and losing already dwindling profits to Microsoft over patents, Windows Phone could be a great alternative OS that is comparatively low cost and a better value proposition than Android.

With more manufacturers and a wider variety of Windows Phones available, Microsoft could diversify its mobile portfolio outside of Nokia’s range of devices and have manufacturer support previously limited to the Android. This, in turn, could increase Windows Phone market share usage and developer support, as well as introduce newcomers to the Microsoft ecosystem. Simply put, Microsoft has a lot to gain from making Windows Phone free.

That said, the question remains if OEMs would be interested in competing with the Microsoft-Nokia hybrid. Though Android is now overwelming controlled by Samsung, Nokia has similarly come to control Windows Phone, albeit with less competition. That's a big if, but there are a whole lot of positives should Microsoft make Windows Phone free.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

August 13, 2013

With Updated Youtube App, a Temporary Armistice Between Microsoft and Google

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In what might hopefully mean a truce between two warring companies, Microsoft has re-released its official Youtube app for Windows Phone 8 and 7.8 devices. The original app, which lacked support for ads and allowed for the downloading of videos, drew the ire of Google, who requested the app be taken down after violating Youtube’s Terms of Service. Microsoft, in reply, claimed Google never granted advertising access to Microsoft and was intentionally using its market position to handicap Windows Phone. When push came to shove, Google and Microsoft collaborated on this new version of the app, which features ads, the removal of video downloads, and the ability to upload videos. Uploading, however, is restricted while charging and being connected to WiFi.

Either way, it’s good to see just a modicum of partnership between the two companies, where bitter competition has overtaken the best interests of users.

SOURCE: WPCentral, Microsoft

Post Mortem: Remembering Yeah, It’s That Bad

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On one fateful Sunday in March of 2012, a friend and I had the unlucky burden of viewing John Carter in theaters. It was a sci-fi movie that I don’t normally find myself watching, but it was the only viable alternative to The Hunger Games, a film off limits for my friend who had yet to read the book. And as we took our seats and were introduced to several layers of inconsequentiality, I immediately regretted parting ways with my money. In retrospect, we had made the wrong decision. Jennifer Lawrence, star of The Hunger Games, has won Oscars, critical acclaim, and the hearts of countless Americans, while John Carter star Taylor Kirsch has achieved the ability to look like a discount James Franco. Sorry, Taylor.

Still, as I exited the theater on that fateful night, I found one saving grace. One day, I may find John Carter on the Yeah, It’s That Bad podcast.

July 29, 2013

Don’t Worry About It: Google Holds Fundraiser for Vehement Climate Change Denier



Over the years, Google has cultivated an ecologically friendly aura around itself, using environmentally friendly practices, investments, to help reduce its impact on the earth. To quote executive chairman Eric Schmidt, 
"You can hold back knowledge, but you cannot prevent it from spreading. You can lie about the effects of climate change, but eventually you'll be seen as a liar."

So it came to our surprise in reading that Google has held fundraisers for Senator James Inhofe, noted climate change skeptic Republican senator from Oklahoma. Though Google has the freedom to support whomever they like, this particular lobbying seems anathema to every stance Google has taken on the environment. Mind you, Inhofe isn’t shy about voicing his mind, especially when it comes to demonizing climate change as a liberal "alarmist" myth for artificial regulations.


Google has been funding Mr. Inhofe in order to keep on good terms with Oklahoma, home to Google’s new data center. Google was als ofound to have donated the highest bid of $50,000 to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a self-titled “Libertarian think tank” that specializes in demonizing environmental efforts and engaging in lawsuits over the “fraudulent” science of climate change. Other groups, such as Microsoft and Facebook, also contributed.

Understandably, environmental activists are upset that Google has been funding climate contrarians, but the backlash has also been coming from the inside. One Google employee has quit over the matter and many others aren’t too happy over Google's sacrifice of idelogical viewpoints for political influence.

No matter, Jim Inhofe doesn’t care: “Apparently this upset a few liberals ... Join our fundraiser and upset the environmentalists by donating $25

SOURCE: Motherboard