Microsoft’s efforts to build out the app ecosystem for Windows Phone 8 appear to be reaching a plateau. Buried in today’s announcement of the Nokia Lumia 928 for Verizon was the fact that the Windows Phone Store now has 145,000 apps, up only slightly from the 120,000 apps announced in October. The figures suggest momentum has slowed after the Windows Phone catalog doubled in size over the first half of last year. And it raises the question of whether developers are shying away from a platform that is still struggling to catch on in North America.
Microsoft has announced a sweeping international expansion of Surface Pro availability. To this point, Microsoft’s top-tier Windows 8 tablet has only been for sale in the US, Canada, and China. But by the end of next month, that’s going to change in a big way; Microsoft says Surface Pro will reach the UK, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland by the end of May. In June, the international tour will continue with availability planned in Russia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. The company’s base Surface RT product has already seen much wider availability overseas, but Microsoft plans to…
Roku just announced via its blog that it has sold 5 million of its streaming Internet media players since its launch back in 2008. The devices have managed to stream a total of 8 billion pieces of content in that time, impressive for a device that started out as essentially a dedicated Netflix box. Roku recently introduced its third-generation hardware to market with the Roku 3, which went on sale in March.
The milestone is significant, since it indicates that there’s a very real and growing market out there for a device that essentially just acts as a service layer for bringing web-based content to televisions, independent of what TV manufacturers themselves are doing with their own built-in Smart TV services. Roku announced that it reached 2.5 million streaming devices in sales back in January of 2012, after having sold 1.5 million during all of 2011. That means it managed to sell somewhere close to 2.5 million devices in the U.S. between then and now, which is a marked increase from its previous yearly high.
We’ve seen how this 5 million milestone compares with Roku’s performance to date, but how about vs. the rest of the market? Despite the fact that Apple still isn’t driving massive amounts of sales with its Apple TV products (especially when compared to its iOS devices), it still sold 2 million in total during the holiday quarter last year, up from 1.3 million in the quarter before that, and up from 1.4 million year over year.
Apple’s sale totals are global, but that still adds up to more than 10 million sales since the device’s introduction, and it sold as many devices as the Roku did in a whole year at home in the U.S. in a single quarter. Still, for a company without Apple’s marketing clout and ecosystem of devices, Roku is definitely holding its own.
The Roku 3 is receiving high praise so far, and has simplified things on the product side, as well as narrowed Roku’s product line to a single device, which is probably best in terms of helping it focus its marketing efforts and avoid consumer confusion. But it will face new competition from Panasonic, which introduced two new streaming media players this week, both of which plug into the popular new Miracast tech, essentially AirPlay for Android, being built into many of today’s smartphones.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates took to Reddit today for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session. After describing Windows 8 as a “huge advance,” Gates also revealed he has “tried all of Apple [sic] products.” According to Gates he’s currently using a Surface Pro and an 80-inch Windows 8 display, the same used by CEO Steve Ballmer. In fact, he even used the device to reply to Reddit comments.
Other highlights include Gates describing WinFS, a file system that was supposed to debut in Vista, as a program or product that he wished had made it to market. “We had a rich database as the client/cloud store that was part of a Windows release that was before its time,” said Gates. “This is an idea that will remerge since your cloud store will be rich…
There’s no doubt that Samsung’s holding its juiciest bits for the stage in Vegas, but the company has been letting a few items slip on by, with an update to its robotic vacuum line representing the latest pre-CES tease. The Smart Tango Corner Clean maintains a traditional circular design, but includes the “world’s very first pop-out brush,” which enables the bot to whip debris out of corners and otherwise inaccessible spots along its mapped-out path. On the navigation front, the new cleaner appears to include Samsung’s camera-equipped Visionary Mapping System, with a front-mounted lens. There’s also a built-in LCD for programming and error code readouts, along with a handful of controls on the top and a standard removable dust bin in the rear. There’s no hint of pricing or availability — or even a model number to speak of — but if you’re in the market for an autonomous vac, you might as well hold out on your purchase for one more week.
Source: Samsung Tomorrow (Flickr)Related Posts:
Induction charging seems ready for its time in the spotlight, with the Nexus 4, Droid DNA and Lumia 920 all shipping with wireless charging based on the Qi standard built-in. Now a concept design that offers solar-powered wireless charging cleverly hidden inside a futuristic looking bonsai tree hopes to become a reality with the help of Kickstarter.
The electree+ began life as a concept by French designer Vivien Muller, which he originally unveiled in 2008. Then, three years later, Muller tried to bring the device to market, kicking off pre-orders for the device beginning at $ 370. She was aiming for 400 pre-sales, but the device eventually shipped to just a small group of 200 pre-order customers.
Now, the electree+ has been redesigned to maximize its solar efficiency, and to be manufactured in the USA at much larger volume, and for less money. The redesigned electree+ boasts a 14,000mAh internal battery, which when fully charged can fill an iPhone 5 up to and over nine times. It features 27 solar panels at the tips of branches, which are adjustable to capture maximum light. It requires 36 hours in sunlight to build up a full charge, but it also only needs around 4 hours to build up enough juice to fully recharge your standard smartphone.
Other features, like an optional built-in- NFC chip, mean that it can trigger an action when a smartphone is placed on its surface, in order to put it into dock mood or manage smart home connected devices, like light fixtures and curtains. It also has changeable faceplates, if you’re feeling bored by a particular color. Plus, the electree+ is environmentally friendly, since it’s just sipping sunlight to deliver charges to your devices.
The electree+ has two USB ports, including one designed for devices with lower power requirements like smartphones, and one for tablets which feature faster charging powers. As mentioned, because it uses Qi, it’ll work out of the box with the Nexus 4 and other smartphones with Qi inductive charging coils built-in, but it should also work with iPhones so long as they have a wireless charging case.
Pre-orders begin at $ 199, depending on what kind of options you want, and the team behind the redesigned electree+ wants to hit at least 1,000 pre-sales, or a total funding amount of $ 200,000 in order to go to production. It’s an ambitious project, but unlike with a lot of products on Kickstarter, this is one that’s actually been made and shipped, so hopefully the team stands a better chance than most of hitting their May 2013 target ship date.Related Posts:
American bookseller Barnes and Noble is planning to broaden its horizons with a little international travel. At he same time the Kindle Fire HD makes its first tentative steps across the pond, the company behind the Nook has appointed Patrick Rouvillois to spearhead its global domination — starting in the UK. As such, it’s releasing the Nook Simple Touch, Simple Touch with Glowlight and both of its new HD tablets this holiday season to win the hearts and minds of cynical Brits. If you’re a Brit (cynical or otherwise) and curious whether Jeff Bezos and chums have something to worry about (hint: most probably) then join us after the break.
Filed under: Tablets
Nintendo will finally make its Wii U available to customers this November, after having previewed the next-gen console for over a year now, the company announced at a press event today. The Wii U will come in a $ 299.99 Basic version in white with 8GB of onboard storage, and a 32GB Deluxe model in black for $ 349.99. It’ll hit the U.S. on November 18 and Europe on November 30.
The console will ship with one of its signature GamePads, the touchscreen controller that looks and behaves a bit like a standalone mobile console or a tablet, and which gives gamers an added element of play, either via second-screen content or via the ability to play games on the handset instead of the TV.
Early response to the controller device has been lukewarm, with many criticizing its battery life (three to five hours) and how it can’t operate as a standalone device without the Wii U base, something Sony is capitalizing on by making the Vita a second-screen device for some PS3 games. Another concern was that originally, each console only supported one GamePad at a time; Nintendo, however, has since said that the Wii U will ship with support for two GamePads at once. Wii U owners can also connect up to four Wii Remotes at once, and your existing hardware for the original Wii will be compatible.
For Nintendo, this is a huge launch. The company ran into trouble early on with its last hardware release, the 3DS, which started slowly even though it gradually gained steam. But following the blockbuster success of the Wii and Nintendo DS, it was a considerable wake-up call. The gaming giant posted its first loss in three quarters in July, owing to a 3DS that still wasn’t generating income despite an uptick in sales. Some credit the rise of mobile gaming as one of the reasons behind Nintendo’s flagging fortunes.
Depending on how the Wii U fares, we could see drastic changes at the Japanese game company. Shareholders have pushed Nintendo to consider becoming a platform-agnostic game publisher in order to get out of the thin-margin hardware game and bring lucrative brands like Mario to iOS and Android devices. The Wii U could be Nintendo’s last big chance to prove that it can still move hard goods, not just beloved gaming icons.Related Posts:
Forget about the new iPhone. It’s almost time for the next Nexus superphone!
The Galaxy Nexus one was introduced last November so it only makes sense that the next one will launch around the same time period. Codenamed Superior, specs for the next Galaxy Nexus just appeared but don’t get too excited. This next phone, if it really is a Nexus variation, isn’t all that more impressive than the current generation.
As shown by a chart posted by SamMobile, the GT-I9260 reportedly has a 1.5GHz dual-core A9 at the core. It uses the same 4.65-inch Super AMOLED HD screen as the current Galaxy Nexus. The biggest change comes in the form the 8MP/1.9MP cameras. This is a large upgrade from the GT-I9250′s 5MP, 1.3MP front and back cameras. This next model also reportedly sports a microSD card slot.
Pricing and release date wasn’t given, but it’s likely that the next Nexus phone will launch in the coming months — probably shortly after the new iPhone’s buzz dies off but still a before the holiday’s kick into high gear.Related Posts:
Square is most often pitched as heaven for small businesses, but that 2.75 percent cut per transaction is sometimes a problem for stores that are too successful. Enter a new flat rate option. Shops that don’t take more than $ 250,000 a year in Square payments, or charge more than $ 400 in a given sale, can instead pay a flat $ 275 per month regardless of how many swipes they take. The deal makes the most sense for businesses handling more than $ 120,000 a year through the reader, establishing a definite limit to its usefulness; this isn’t exactly for a budding jeweler (or Starbucks). Even so, the simplicity of the rate might be very alluring for companies that aren’t keen on surprise costs or working out the math, and it’s a contrast to the half-steps towards flat rates taken by VeriFone and other, more traditional outlets going mobile.