Archive for February, 2012


More phones with more cores

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We have seen a rise in the superphone category. The latter-which is somewhat marketspeak- is perhaps a term used to describe devices that are evolving into portable computers.

Mobile World Congress 2012 will see another push in mobile tehnology to quad core processors running what will mainly be the Android OS. Great, more cores, more computing power! That is one school of thought. What about battery life? That is the argument on the other side of the fence.

Theoretically, more cores will allow the completion of more tasks simultaneously reducing power consumption. However, most us have begun to accept the day to day charging ritual required to keep these devices on full charge. We have even begun to accept the loss of the one week battery life device, a throwback to the old Nokia devices.

Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android deal with the management of their mobile OSs very differently. The differences are largely down to the priorities given to multitasking versus slickness of user interface. User interface is king in iOS land and Android gives greater importance to multitasking. However, the choice the end user makes is not dependent on this factor. In reality, it is the device, the ecosystem and the marketing that attracts the end user to a device. Perhaps its the device that attracts the consumer prior to other considerations.

Whichever way one plays it, phones will continue to have more cores with increasingly staggering benckmarks.

Moore’s Law continues.

Further reading:

Quad core will Reign at MWC and Why it Doesn’t Matter

Moore’s Law

Apple threw a surprising announcement today with the announcement of Mountain Lion- Mac OS 10.8.

This update brings together more iOS features into the Mac which includes iMessage, Gamecenter and Notification Center among other things. iCloud integration between devices is a given which closely integrates Apple products.

The focus on a unified ecosystem is something that Apple has been actively working towards in the last few years and OS 10.8 provides clear evidence of this.

Apple, love or loathe them, have created a truly viable ecosystem. The latter is something that most companies have realised later on in the game and are now playing catch-up.

Microsoft intends to do the same with the Windows 8- WIndows Phone ecosystem and the tech world is likely to see a sneak preview of this integration come the 29th of February.

The war of ecosystems is getting more interesting.

Source: The Verge , 9to5 Mac

Around January 2011, the blogosphere was abuzz over the “Burning Platform Memo” by Nokia’s new CEO, Stephen Elop.

The following is an excerpt from that clarion call of a memo:

Nokia, our platform is burning.

We are working on a path forward — a path to rebuild our market leadership. When we share the new strategy on February 11, it will be a huge effort to transform our company. But, I believe that together, we can face the challenges ahead of us. Together, we can choose to define our future.

The burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story. Now, we have a great opportunity to do the same.

Stephen.

This memo set the stage for what was a turning point for Nokia.

Stephen Elop decided to stake Nokia future on the Windows Phone platform and had simultaneously, announced the termination of Symbian.

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I feel something terrible has happened.

The Symbian faithful were shocked and outraged by the announcement. The release of the Nokia N8 and the streamlining of Symbian after its rather protracted “open-source” incubatory period with the ill-fated  Symbian Foundation had given the OS some hope of renewal.
Of course, the new CEO was branded as a trojan horse, sent by Microsoft to acquire Nokia. Detractors felt Stephen Elop’s days in the company were numbered.
Two months post  announcement,the death of Symbian appeared greatly exaggerated as the company announced plans to support Symbian handsets up to 2016. However, the development and support of Symbian was being transitioned to Accenture in a move to focus Nokia’s time and resources to Windows Phone. This was a confusing period for company as mixed announcements were sent out from Nokia’s PR department.

Nokia, towards the 2nd half of 2011 went on an active rebranding exercise. Ovi services were being rebranded as Nokia services(a  logical but belated move) and the upcoming iterations of  Symbian were being christened with names such as Anna, Bella and Carla. The name Symbian was eventually dropped in favour of Nokia. Again, a step in a branding consistency.

The Nokia N9 was announced in June 2011 and marked a new phase in the company’s design DNA. The unibody construct of the Nokia N9 became the basis for the Nokia Lumia 800 and 900 Windows Phone devices. The Nokia N9 became a one-off MeeGo Harmattan device for the company and marked an end of an era.

“You have taken your first step into a larger world.”

January 2012 led to the introduction of Nokia Lumia 900 series at CES,Las Vegas where it was awarded Best of Show in the mobile phone category. This was a positive response to the company in the United States as the latter has been an elusive market to the Finnish handset maker.
Last week saw the rollout of Nokia Belle to devices such as the N8 , C7 and E7.
Now, there are rumblings of the Nokia 803, the last Nokia Belle( Symbian) device that is possible successor to the Nokia N8. This device is meant to be the last Symbian device from the Nokia.
Thereafter, it is Windows Phone all the way.
In the battle of mobile ecosystems, Symbian lacked the edge in comparison to iOS and Android.
Nokia’s choice of Windows Phone was the best bet the company could make as it has a genuine opportunity to strike a new identity with the flegdging OS. Windows Phone has not gained much traction and Nokia coming on board may  give Windows Phone the attention it needs.Definitive success is something that can only be seen in the medium to long term.  The company from Cupertino still holds sway over consumer mindshare and it is a tough one to beat.

“In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.”

Whatever said and done, there is no denying that Nokia is forging ahead with renewed vigour and a clearer roadmap.

May the force be with you.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus- a point of view

Image Source: Engadget

The Galaxy Nexus (G Nex) – The definitive Android device showcasing the prowess of Googleplex’s latest iteration of the Android – OS version 4.0 aka Ice-Cream Sandwich.

The other highlight of this device is the 4.65 inch 720p screen boasting a retina-displayesque pixel density of 316 pixels per inch.There is also the feature of Face Unlock – a gimmicky “security” feature and Android Beam which intends to take Near Field Communications (NFC) to the next level.

Is this THE Android device to get?

In my personal opinion- NO.

The device, which will likely be the only pure Android device (sans UI skins such as TouchWiz, HTC Sense etc etc etc etc) is special only for the latter point. The G Nex otherwise dumbs down other features such as the camera ( a so-so 5MP unit) and on-board storage (16GB) which is non-expandable. The Samsung Galaxy S2 (SGS2) easily trumps the G Nex on the hardware front.

Why then, does Google bother with the Nexus series?

Unlike Apple, who depend on their hardware sales, Google appears to have a lower vested interest in producing a complete hardware package. Critisms aside, the iPhone 4S has better internal and external hardware than the G Nex or for that matter, the SGS2. There is also, in my opinion, the holding back of sorts by Samsung to reduce the possible cannibalisation of their hardware sales of the SGS2 and the upcoming SGS3 by the GNex.

Android in reality is propagated by the variety of the hardware at a wide range of price points. Google is not interested in hardware sales. It leaves that to it hardware manufacturers. Samsung, HTC and Motorola have been producing headliner devices that champion the Android OS. Plus, these companies can apply their user interface (UI) modifcations of Android as a way of product differentiation. This is boon and and a curse. The latter has become the bane of Android which has led to the term “fragmentation of Android” argued as being good and bad for the platform.

Given the variations of Android devices out there, the G Nex stands out in terms of software. The G Nex and the Nexus S before it ( Nexus One is no longer capable of dealing with the latest version of Android) are the “Chosen Ones” in the Android device portfolio. These two devices will be the immediate recipients of Googleplex’s offerings. It’s owners will on the bleeding edge of Googleplex’s ideas.

In essence, the G Nex and Nexus S will be the devices of choice for the hard core Android enthusiasts and developers.Consumers who wish for a complete hardware should look to the now cheaper SGS2 or invest in the iP4S. Plus, all these device are in similar price points. I know, I know, Apple’s world is a walled garden. But given the fact that a user can get an easy 3 years of software updates(look at the 3GS)  from Apple in a powerful package, the walled garden option is an OK trade-off.

Yes, the latter against the ethos of an open source device.

But are we, in truth, really free?