At Mobile World Congress on Wednesday, Motorola Mobility chief executive Sanjay Jha came to the defense of the company’s decision to price its first Android tablet at $800. The Motorola XOOM will be a flagship Android tablet when it launches in the near future, and Motorola has slapped on a flagship price tag. With 3G connectivity, the 32GB XOOM will be $70 more expensive than an Apple iPad with the same amount of storage. “We felt that our ability to deliver 50Mbps would justify the $799 price point,” Jha told reporters at Mobile World Congress. “It is 32GB with 3G and a free upgrade to 4G. Being competitive with iPad is important. We feel that from the hardware and capabilities we deliver, we are at least competitive and in a number of ways better.” Of note, the 3G XOOM will reportedly also require users to purchase at least one month of cellular data service in order to unlock Wi-Fi connectivity — ostensibly adding another $30 onto the price of the XOOM and making it a full $100 more expensive than the comparable iPad model. The Wi-Fi-only XOOM will be priced in line with the comparable iPad model at $600. More →
In a note to investors on Thursday, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White reiterated a rumor that Apple’s next-generation iPhone will include integrated NFC capabilities. The rumor was essentially confirmed by European carrier Deutsche Telekom at Mobile World Congress earlier this week when the company stated that it will offer an NFC-enabled iPhone in the first half of this year. Interestingly, however, White also noted that his sources indicate the iPhone 5’s NFC capabilities will feature a “twist” that will differentiate the device from its competition. Mobile payments are expected to be the main focus of NFC-enabled cell phones, which are being promoted aggressively in 2011 by cell phone makers, carriers and other companies that will earn revenue from the transactions the emerging technology will facilitate. The idea of a twist in Apple’s NFC implementation could prove to be another interesting selling point for the company’s next iPhone when it launches this summer.
RIM might have the enterprise market squarely in its sights with the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, but the sleek device is hardly all business. At Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, recent RIM acquisition The Astonishing Tribe was on hand to show off two applications built to demo some of the QNX-powered PlayBook’s capabilities. And as can only be expected from TAT-born apps, they’re stunning. The first, Scrapbook, is a scrapbooking app with a playful look and some terrific 3D UI effects. The second, Aura, allows users to control the weather and features some nifty accelerometer-controlled physics. Hit the break for two video demonstrations. More →
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson gave a keynote presentation at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday, during which he shared some interesting thoughts surrounding Apple’s iOS App Store. Stephenson expressed some distaste for the way Apple’s application ecosystem is set up at the moment, saying customers shouldn’t have to lose all of their apps if they switch to a device other than the iPhone. “You purchase an app for one operating system, and if you want it on another device or platform, you have to buy it again,” Stephenson said during his speech. “That’s not how our customers expect to experience this environment.” He went on to essentially call HTML5 the answer to the problem — more specifically, the carrier-run Wholesale Applications Community is the answer to the problem. WAC is a Web-based app store of sorts that houses Web apps theoretically compatible with any device that uses an HTML5-capable browser. The apps within will be limited in function for the time being, since only native apps can take advantage of all of the developer tools available for various platforms. That won’t stop carriers from pitching WAC, however, as they continue to search for ways to make money off of the booming economy apps have created. Each of the four major cellular carriers in the U.S. is a member of WAC, so expect to hear about it quite a bit moving forward. More →
A Google executive on Wednesday shared preliminary details surrounding the company’s next version of its Android operating system. In an interview with Phone Scoop at Mobile World Congress, Google’s Android Engineering Director Dave Burke reiterated that Google’s “I” build of Android will merge features of Honeycomb and Gingerbread in an effort to unify the tablet and smartphone versions of the Android OS. Burke also said this future Android build will likely bring Honeycomb’s “action bar,” which adds customizable functions to individual apps, to smartphones. He noted that the “system bar” at the bottom of the Honeycomb UI would likely not make it to smartphones, though Honeycomb’s overall look and feel with be translated to handsets in some fashion. The next major build of Google’s Android OS is thought to be named “Ice Cream,” but a launch time frame is not currently available. More →
We just swung by the Sony Ericsson booth to get a glimpse at two of the company’s most exciting new handsets, the Xperia Play and the Xperia arc. Although we can’t say we’re too surprised that SE was showing off these two devices at Mobile World Congress — both handsets have been leaking like a soup strainer over the past few months — it is nice to get some hands-on time with both devices. Will the newly announced devices be enough to catapult Sony Ericsson back to mobile handset glory? Read on to find out. More →
Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha on Wednesday confirmed pricing for the company’s upcoming Honeycomb tablet, the Motorola XOOM. Speaking to the press at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Jha stated that a version of the XOOM with cellular data connectivity will be available from Verizon Wireless for an unsubsidized price of $799. Earlier rumors suggested that Best Buy would offer the XOOM for the same price. The tablet will have the option to connect to Verizon’s 3G data network — and later this year, its 4G LTE network as well — for a monthly fee, but buyers will not have to sign a service contract with the carrier. Jha also stated that the Wi-Fi-only version of the Motorola XOOM will be available for around $600. More →
Research In Motion Co-CEO Jim Balsillie on Wednesday confirmed that upcoming new BlackBerry smartphones will contain Near Field Communication chips in 2011. During a keynote shared with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and NTT DoCoMo CEO Riuji Yamada at Mobile World Congress, Balsillie said “many, if not most” of his company’s smartphones released this year would include NFC capabilities. This confirms details from BGR’s exclusive report last month, which revealed several BlackBerry devices slated for release in 2011 and outlined specs that often included NFC capabilities. NFC is being promoted aggressively by cell phone makers, carriers, banks and other companies looking to profit from the new mobile payment systems NFC will facilitate. Google has already begun to show off Android’s NFC capabilities with its Nexus S smartphone, and Apple will soon unveil its next-generation iPhone with NFC capabilities as well.
At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Motorola gave both journalists and consumers their first opportunity to touch, feel, and experience its soon-to-be-launched tablet, the XOOM. Sure, we’ve gone hands-on with Motorola’s tasty Honeycomb tablet before, but today we got to spend a bit more time with the sleek slate. We sat down with our friends from Moto and got a chance to shoot some video, take some pictures, tap on the tablet, and ask questions. We couldn’t get the electronics manufacturer to comment on pricing, or pin them down on an exact release date, but we did get enough hands-on time to give you an idea of exactly what the XOOM is about. Hit the jump to check out the video, photo gallery, and to read our thoughts! More →
China-based Huawei on Tuesday announced several new smart devices including the IDEOS X3 Android-powered smartphone and the IDEOS X7 Slim Android tablet. The IDEOS X3 will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread and feature a 3.2-inch HVGA touchscreen display along with what Huawei is calling the thinnest case among 3.2-inch display-toting smartphones currently on the market. The phone will launch with SOFTBANK MOBILE in Japan this spring, and availability in other markets has not yet been discussed. The IDEOS S7 Slim is a 7-inch tablet that will feature the Android 2.2 Froyo operating system, Wi-Fi, integrated 3G, 720p HD video playback and a case that is only 12.5mm thick. Most notably, perhaps, the S7 Slim tablet will launch this April and will retail for less than $300. Hit the break for the full press release from Huawei. More →
T-Mobile on Tuesday announced two new entry-level smartphones from Mobile World Congress that will become available later this year. The Samsung Galaxy Mini will serve as an inexpensive smaller alternative to the Galaxy S 4G, featuring a 3.2-inch touchscreen display, a 600MHz processor, 150MB of internal storage, microSDHC support and the Android 2.2 Froyo operating system. Featuring similar specs in an even more compact case, the T-Mobile Move will sport Android 2.2 along with a tiny 2.8-inch 320 x 240-pixel display, a 2-megapixel camera, 150MB of internal storage and microSDHC support. While firm release dates for these budget Android phones have not yet been announced, T-Mobile did confirm that the devices will launch this spring and will each cost between $50 and $75 on contract. More →
Windows Phone 7 fans hoping they might see Microsoft’s reinvigorated mobile OS on Motorola hardware in the near future will be disappointed to learn that this particular marriage isn’t in the cards. Speaking to the press during Mobile World Congress on Tuesday, Motorola’s corporate vice president of software and services product management Christy Wyatt said the cell phone maker is sticking with Android for now. “I don’t envision us using Microsoft. I would never say never but it’s not something we’re entertaining now,” Wyatt told IDG News Service. “We would like an opportunity to create unique value and we don’t feel we could with a closed platform.” Motorola did consider the Windows Phone 7 OS at one time, however it found Microsoft’s timeline to be less than satisfactory in terms of adding features Motorola viewed as key. “There were a bunch of things that we believed about Microsoft that ended up not being true, mostly about what functionality it would have in what period of time,” Wyatt said. Like Microsoft, Motorola recently reinvented itself in the mobile space, finding success with Android after the company fell on hard times not long ago. Motorola plans to stick with what works for the time being, however, and Microsoft will just have to look to the world’s No. 1 cell phone company for solace. More →
With mobile OS battles heating up, it’s also interesting to hear how carriers are reacting and what they’re saying. Going on record at Mobile World Congress, Verizon Communications CTO, Tony Malone, had some words to say about Nokia and Microsoft’s recent partnership and how the deal might impact the market. Malone thinks it’s important for the mobile industry to have more than two choices as far as mobile OSes are concerned, though he doesn’t believe Microsoft’s new smartphone platform can be necessarily be the third. “If you look at our device pipeline for 2011, we have very strong relationships with LG, Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and now Apple,” Malone told CNET. “So I think it would take a really compelling device from Nokia or any new vendor to break in. It doesn’t mean that it can’t happen, but it would have to be really good.” Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, had conversations with Verizon Wireless executives last week before the Nokia / Microsoft deal was announced, presumably in hopes of getting America’s largest carrier to get on board with its upcoming devices. So far, it doesn’t sound like much progress has been made. More →