It may be time for Steve Ballmer to crank up his famous “Developers, developers, developers!” chant again if it will get software developers more excited about Windows Phone 8. Sameer Singh at Tech-Thoughts has charted the growth history of the three major mobile app stores and has found that Windows Phone’s app store is lagging behind where iOS and Android were 30 months after their initial launches. What’s more, he’s found that the additions of new apps to the Windows Phone 8 app market have markedly slowed over the past six months, whereas iOS and Android both saw significant rises in app additions over the same periods after their initial launches. Singh speculates that the slowdown in interest from developers is due to “limited install base, low user engagement, monetization challenges and regional developer restrictions,” among other factors.
As someone who admires the innovations that Microsoft made with Windows 8 while at the same time recognizing the platform’s glaring flaws, I’ve found it encouraging that the company has decided to own up to some of its mistakes and dial back some of the big changes it made to its operating system with the release of Windows 8.1. The new update, which Microsoft announced Tuesday would be available as a public preview starting on June 26th, will reportedly bring back the Start button as an option and give users the choice of booting up their computers in desktop mode. But the feature that really has me excited about Windows 8.1 and that makes me think Microsoft is serious about listening to its customers is that it’s providing the update free of charge for all Windows 8 users. More →
Are you fed up with paying an $80 cable bill every month for dozens of channels that you never even watch? Not to worry, says National Cable and Telecommunications Association chief Michael Powell: You’re actually being given “unparalleled choice” in your programming. Variety reports that Powell, speaking on Tuesday at a Senate subcommittee meeting to discuss the benefits of “a la carte” cable programming, said that it’s a “very serious question mark whether consumers would have lower bills or cheaper service as a result of a la carte” because consumers may end up having to pay the same amount for fewer channels. Powell also said that it would be a mistake to make significant revisions to the 1992 Cable Act because it “could even be counterproductive by introducing uncertainty and displacing or skewing the marketplace rivalries” that offer “unparalleled choice” to cable subscribers. More →
One of BlackBerry’s biggest challenges after the release of its initial high-end BlackBerry 10 smartphones was to launch a lower-cost device capable of shoring up the company’s market share in key emerging markets. The company did just that on Tuesday by announcing the BlackBerry Q5, a fully QWERTY keyboard BlackBerry 10 device that will launch in July in select markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. The device features a 3.1-inch touch display and comes in multiple colors including black, silver and red. BlackBerry has not yet disclosed the device’s full specifications and pricing information.
As we’ve mentioned before, Samsung is a force to be feared in the smartphone industry. The latest numbers from Gartner show that Samsung absolutely mowed down the competition in the first quarter of 2013 by selling 64.7 million smartphones, good for a 30.8% share of the global smartphone market and a 59% increase from the 40.6 million smartphones it sold in the first quarter of 2012. These numbers are particularly impressive because they came before Samsung launched its new flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone, so it’s likely that the company will further expand its lead over its rivals in the second quarter. More →
If you don’t see the point of keeping data you have stored across assorted Google services separate then you’re in luck: The company agrees with you. Google announced on Monday that it is giving users “15 GB of unified storage for free to use… between Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos,” thus giving them more flexibility to use their data space as they see fit. Users who want more storage across multiple services can pay $4.99 a month for 100GB of additional space as well, the company said. The new unified data plan will give a particular boost to Google Drive since the cloud storage service will act as the hub for online storage across all Google services.
Given that smartphone users seem increasingly drawn toward larger displays, Apple could be feeling some pressure to come out with its own “iPhablet” to offer its users a larger alternative to the 4-inch iPhone 5. But Barron’s points us to a recent Bloomberg TV interview with Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who says that we shouldn’t get our hopes up for a larger version of the iPhone anytime soon. Misek says that based on his firm’s “research on Apple’s technology, we don’t think they can produce a larger screen iPhone until the middle of next year” at the very earliest, by which time Samsung will likely have already released new versions of both its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines of devices. Misek also says that “pressure for a larger-screen phone will continue to mount” in the coming months, especially if Samsung’s 5-inch Galaxy S4 sells as well as early projections have indicated.
Whether or not Google has really pulled out of its “X Phone” project with Motorola, it seems that the device will still be making its way to AT&T sometime in the near future. AndroidGuys has spotted a filing at the Federal Communications Commission showing a new Motorola phone called the “Motorola XT1058″ that looks very similar to leaked pictures of the X Phone that we saw earlier this year. The FCC filing shows that the new device will be supported by AT&T’s network, although it doesn’t give any technical specifications for the phone other than that it will support LTE, HSPA+ and Wi-Fi connectivity. Late last week we started hearing rumors that Google had backed out of its role in developing the device and would leave Motorola to finish up the project alone, which could very well reduce interest in the new phone when it’s finally released.
Microsoft’s admission last week that it would need to make changes to its Windows 8 operating system to address a steeper-than-expected user learning curve has sparked two very different reactions from media and analysts. On the one side, Microsoft’s backtracking on Windows 8 is seen as a sign of humiliating defeat that could even point the way toward CEO Steve Ballmer’s exit from the company. The Telegraph takes this particular angle with a report that focusses on the “hostile reception” to Windows 8 and that quotes an analyst who says that “investors think Ballmer’s the wrong guy” to run Microsoft because “he missed tablets and he missed smartphones, and that these are the two areas of technology that really count.” More →
Google, like Apple, Samsung and just about every other big tech player today, has been long rumored to be working on its own “smartwatch” that will bring smartphone-like capabilities to the wristwatch form factor. An unnamed source has now told Android Authority that Google’s version of the smartwatch will be manufactured by Motorola and will feature a Google Glass-like user interface that will include a series of digital “cards” that users swipe through to give them updates on times, events and other key information. Android Authority’s source says that Google may not be ready to release its watch at Google I/O this week, however, because it still needs to be tethered to a smartphone and isn’t a standalone device capable of receiving data on its own.
When Google announced that Chrome chief Sundar Pichai would also be taking over the company’s Android division from former Android boss Andy Rubin, speculation naturally turned to whether Pichai had plans to merge the two operating systems together. For the time being, however, this doesn’t seem to be in the cards. In an interview with Wired, Pichai says that the plan going forward is to keep Android and Chrome separate because they each perform distinct functions that serve different purposes and thus shouldn’t be seen as small variations of the same platform. Pichai did concede that “the picture may look different a year or two from now,” but emphasized that in the current environment Google was more than happy to keep plugging resources developing two separate operating systems. Plenty of other interesting tidbits were covered in the interview, which can read by following the source link below.
Nokia has released a tantalizing new teaser ad for its latest Lumia flagship phone that shows off both a shiny metal casing and a new camera that the company is betting will set it apart from the iPhone and high-end Android devices. The tagline on the teaser is “More Than Your Eyes Can See,” which strongly hints that Nokia will place a lot of emphasis on the device’s camera at its big launch event this week. The new Lumia device will apparently be different from the Lumia 928 that Nokia announced for Verizon last week, which features a 4.5-inch ClearBlack display with a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels, a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and an 8.7-megapixel PureView rear camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. The full teaser video is posted below. More →
Although Microsoft recently touted having sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses this week, careful observers noted that selling all those licenses doesn’t mean vendors have actually sold 100 million Windows 8 devices over the past half-year. ComputerWorld this week talked with Patrick Moorhead, a principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, who estimates that the actual number of Windows 8 devices being used out in the wild is closer to 59 million, since the most recent data from Net Applications shows that Windows 8 is being used on around 4.2% of all Windows PCs. More →