Tag: launch

iPad 2 to launch on February 1

The founder of Digg said that Apple will formally announce the iPad 2 within the next month, with a tentative date set for February 1, just in time to make Christmas and January iPad shoppers feel thoroughly cheated.

Kevin Rose, who established Digg in 2004, sent out a newsletter saying that he had it on “good authority” that Apple was preparing an announcement for the second generation iPad within the next three to four weeks.

He also cited another anonymous source who said that the display will be higher dpi, but that it won’t be a retina display. Rose felt that this was odd, but said he’ll wait and see what happens. If the sources are as reliable as claimed he won’t have to wait long.

The February date seems likely, considering a mock-up model appeared at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, along with extra details about the device, such as there being a 128GB model.

Of course, we warned potential iPad buyers to hold off on parting with their money at Christmas, since the new version will likely be significantly better and the original may get a big price cut, but that warning is unlikely to have stopped many fanboys.

It is believed that Apple was originally planning a Christmas launch for the iPad 2, but that it got delayed. It may be just as likely that Apple wanted to get rid of its iPad stock to un-savvy consumers first.

Google asks TV makers to slow down Google TV

Google has asked TV manufacturers to delay the introduction of internet-capable Google TV sets, marking another setback in the much-hyped, yet much-flopped, launch of Google TV.

Sources close to Google revealed that the company wants to “refine” the software behind Google TV, according to the New York Times. The software has already launched, to poor reception, on Sony and Logitech devices. 

Toshiba, LG and Sharp were planning to unveil their branded versions of Google TV at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, but the planned mega-launch looks set to be missing Google’s well-known logo as it goes back to the drawing board.

January is a big time for shoppers, with big sales driving strong demand. Anything not sold in the pre-Christmas rush is sure to fly off the shelves in January, so missing out on both key months could jeopardise the overall success of Google TV.

The anonymous sources suggested that the TV makers were taken by surprise by this announcement from Google, which is likely to strain relations between the companies, particularly considering January stock is most likely already being produced or shipped.

Some of Google’s partners have yet to comment on the problem, but Toshiba has indicated that it will delay its product launches until Google introduces the new version of Google TV, which is set to bring an app store, a myriad of bug fixes and a number of other features.

This is not the first problem Google TV has encountered. Major stumbling blocks appeared when many of the US‘ leading television networks banned the broadcasting of their shows on Google TV devices, effectively destroying part of its intended purpose. 

Much of that dispute focused on the fact that Google had not negotiated anything with these networks and that copyright infringement could become a major issue. So even when Google TV devices launch there may not be a whole lot of content to access on them.

Google launches eBooks and eBookstore

Google has launched its own e-book store which will initially put over three million digital titles at the hands of bookworms in the US.

Google eBooks and the Google eBookstore are now open, and that means both open to retail and open in approach, as Google wants almost any device to be compatible with the service, not just eReaders. So that includes tablets, smartphones, netbooks and laptops.

The e-books will come with a slew of interesting features, such as the ability to change the font, font size and line spacing. There will also be day and night reading modes, chapter and page selections, and it will remember which page of the book you were on when switching to a different device.

The service even works in the cloud with Google eBooks Web Reader, allowing access to ebooks on multiple devices from any location that has access to the web. Google is offering “unlimited e-books storage” for anyone interested in cloud reading.

Google is also releasing free apps for Android and Apple devices, which will make buying and reading books on smartphones and tablets even easier.

Google partnered with independent booksellers Powell’s and Alibris, as well as a number of members of the American Booksellers Association. There are over three million titles available to choose from, including classics, paid bestsellers, and popular books, and undoubtedly more will be added over time. A number of free titles are on offer as well as archive magazines.

Baidu launches Groupon competitor

Chinese search engine Baidu has launched a Groupon competitor website, setting up some potentially stiff competition for Google should the rumoured acquisition of Groupon take place.

The new coupon and group deals website is called Youa Tuangou, which is Chinese for “Group Buy”, adding to a rapidly growing group buying sector in China which is said to have grown from zero websites to 1,200 over the last year, according to the China e-Business Research Centre.

Baidu is also offering a new service to allow vendors to put up discounts on its reviews website, called Baidu Shenbian. This will work in conjunction with Youa Tuangou, providing advertising for businesses, deals for customers, and a large revenue stream for Baidu.

Baidu is Google’s main competition in China, holding 73 percent of the search engine market share in the region, so it’s likely that Google will be watching this group deals website launch very closely. 

It comes only a day after Groupon acquired a number of similar websites in Asia, which means that if Google does buy Groupon it will be competing with Baidu on more than the search engine front.

Groupon has not yet expanded into mainland China, but it looks like it’s only a matter of time before it tries, with or without the backing of Google.

Eutelsat's W3B satellite lost hours after launch

Satellite company Eutelsat Communications said that it has lost one of its satellites, the W3B, after an “anomaly” was detected on the propulsion subsystem after it was launched.

The W3B satellite was launched early this morning by an Ariane 5 rocket and was expected to replace Eutelsat’s Eurobird 16, W2M, and SESAT 1 satellites at 16 degrees East, all of which provide satellite TV and other telecommunications services to homes in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

However, the satellite inexplicably failed to reach its destination, setting back Eutelsat’s operations. The company revealed that the anomaly was a leak in one of the satellite’s two tanks, but it said it does not know what caused the problem.

Eutelsat will now keep the three older satallites in operation until the W3C launches in July 2011, providing, of course, that one doesn’t encounter problems as well. The company said that these satellites should have enough life left to keep things going until the W3C arrives.

A new satellite programme, called W3D, has also been announced in face of the loss, with a planned launch date in the first quarter of 2013.

“The loss of W3B is a disappointment for Eutelsat and for our customers,” said Michel de Rosen, CEO of Eutelsat Communications. “We share it with our partners, in particular Thales Alenia Space and with the insurance community. Our attention is now focused on delivering the W3C satellite to 16 degrees East in mid-2011 and on initiating a new programme to compensate for this loss.”

The W3B satellite was fully insured, which means that Eutelsat will not suffer financially due to the loss, but it does set back the company’s plans for upwards of a year. Luckily for Eutelsat it signed the insurance deal only yesterday, which covers five satellite launches.

Dell launches three XPS multimedia laptops

Dell has launched a family of XPS multimedia laptops which are Skype-certified and 3D TV ready.

They come in three sizes: a 14-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch model. The spec depends on the model, but a wide variety of choices are available, as per standard Dell procedure. For the processor the Intel Core i5 and i7 are available, while one of the Nvidia GeForce 400 series of graphics card can be chosen. They allow up to 1TB of hard drive space and 8GB of RAM.

Dell is aiming the new range at “creative explorers”, which we guess means those interested in art, film, photography, and so forth. The addition of 3D TV capability via Nvidia’s 3DTV Play software will be a major attraction for multimedia enthusiasts or those looking to get the 3D TV experience without forking out a hefty price for the currently overpriced LCD panels.

They will also allow gamers to play 3D PC games and there’s Blu-ray support for 2D and 3D movies as well. 

Sound quality is not being ignored either, as they come with built-in JBL designed and certified speakers with integrated Waves MaxxAudio 3 processing technology. Couple this with 22W peak audio performance and 12-watt subwoofers on the two larger models to get some pretty loud and clear sound.

The range also includes a fully integrated webcam capable of live high definition video streaming. They are also the first laptops to receive Skype certification, making them perfect for Skype audio or video conferencing.

The laptops can also be personalised with one of over 200 designs from Dell Design Studio, but that will set consumers back an extra few bob.

The XPS range are available from today directly from Dell’s website and retail from $899 for the 14-inch, $849 for the 15-inch, and $949 for the 17-inch model.

Google launches Google TV website

Google has launched a new website for Google TV, showing off some of the features we can expect on the devices which are set to launch within the coming weeks.

We took a look at the website and were forced to admit that if the Google TV looks as sleek and operates in such a snazzy fashion, then we’re in for a treat.

In some ways it has an Apple feel to it at first, which is probably a little of what Google was going for, considering Apple’s iOS is known for its user experience. Google is attempting to impove with the upcoming Android 3.0 update, but it looks like it has been hard at work implementing a great interface for its Google TV.

The website prompts you to take a tour of the TV’s features, which are numerous. The first feature we’re greeted with is Google’s latest search engine, which combines the internet, an app catalogue, and your TV channels, effectively merging the lot of them.

For example a search for Futurama will bring up the next showing of it, the IMDB listing for it, and any relavant apps that make use of the characters from the show, meaning you don’t have to search the web and channel surf separately anymore.

Google wants a seamless experience that integrates the internet into your TV. Previously it said it did not want users to be forced to choose between the two, so it even allows you to browse the net and watch TV at the same time. For example you could run a small display of the latest football match in the corner while you look up the league tables online.

The Google TV will launch with dozens of apps, such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Netflix. Google is encouraging developers to jump on the bandwagon to create thousands more next year. 

A really neat feature is the ability to use your mobile phone as the remote control. Details are scarce, but a picture shows a mobile with pause, rewind, and so forth, which will most likely come in the form of an app from the Android market. Google is even promising that it will recognise your voice, allowing you to switch channels or search the web via voice control.

Google said that the Google TV is easy to set up and will work with your current TV, satellite, cable, and internet. It will come in two versions, a full smart TV or a box that can be used with your current telly.

If the new website is anything to go by, and we hope it will be, then the Google TV will make Apple’s offering look dated already.

Nokia ships its N8 smartphone at last

Nokia has finally begun shipping its flagship N8 handset to customers.

The troubled manufacturer officially announced the device in April but it was delayed a number of times so that it could fix software bugs that were lurking, it said.

It has now cleaned up and customers who pre-ordered their handsets are finally beginning to receive them. Other customers who want them will be able to get the device within the next coming weeks, apparently.

Nokia’s smartphones have trailed behind Apple and the gang after the company scrapped a prototype smartphone back in 2004. It has since tried to ramp up its offerings by dumping its old CEO and bringing in Microsoft business head Stephen Elop.

The N8 runs on the open-source Symbian 3 operating system, which allows personalised home screens and multitasking of apps. It has a HDMI interface for connection to a TV, an AMOLED touch-screen and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.

Users will also get free satnav via the Ovi Maps tool and access to the Ovi Store for applications to expand the phone’s capabilities.

The N8 will retail for £429, or be offered free on £35 per month tariffs.

Nintendo delays 3DS launch until Q1 2011

Nintendo  announced that it will be delaying the launch of the 3DS, its 3D-capable portable gaming device, aiming now for a first quarter 2011 release in Japan, with European and US dates yet to be decided.

It was expected that the device would be released in time for Christmas, particularly with rivals Sony and Microsoft releasing their Move and Kinect motion sensor systems, late-coming competition to Nintendo’s highly-successful Wii, in the run up to the holiday season. The news today, however, reveals that Nintendo was unable to get the 3DS ready in time.

Nintendo announced a date of February 26 of next year for the 3DS’ release in Japan, with a suggested retail price of 25,000 Yen (around $300). Global release dates and prices were not revealed, but we can probably expect it in the US and Europe some time in March.

The 3DS is the successor to the Nintendo DS, another of the company’s extremely successful gaming devices. Various incarnations of the DS have arrived over the years, such as the smaller DS Lite and the camera featuring DSi, but the 3DS will add a whole new dimension to gaming, quite literally, with its Sharp-licensed autostereoscopic display allowing 3D images at the flick of a switch without the need for glasses. 

Nintendo also issued a profit warning, revising its forecasts downwards to account for poorer performance and the delay with the 3DS release. While it was keen to downplay the delay, it is now looking at significantly less shipments of its products over the April 2010 to March 2011 period. 

Previously it estimated 30 million shipments of the DS, but that is now revised downwards to 23.5 million. Of those, four million are expected to be the 3D units. The Wii is also performing badly, but not quite as bad, with a revised figure of 17.5 million shipments compared to the previous forecast of 18 million.

IBM to launch three European analytics centres

IBM has announced plans to launch three new analytics centres in Europe, aimed at utilising some of the analytics products and services it has acquired recently.

The three centres will be located in Zurich in Switzerland, Budapest in Hungary and Vienna in Austria. They are designed to complement IBM’s existing analytics facilities in seven other locations throughout the world.

Each centre will have a different industrial focus. The Zurich one will mainly focus on financial services and public-sector analytics, particularly in regard to fraud, financial management, brand reputation and traffic management. 

The Budapest centre will be more of a training centre, with IBM planning to recruit a number of students looking for careers in analytics.

The Vienna branch will work on providing analytics for supply chains, smart grids, cities and planning, some of which IBM’s CEO Sam Palmisano will undoubtedly attempt to offer as part of his efforts to get more support for a smart metering system.

The news follows a recent spate of analytics acquisitions, including the most recent buyout of Netezza for  $1.7 billion earlier this week. It also bought analytics firm Coremetrics in June, a company it had previously sold analytics firm SurfAid to, effectively amounting to buying it all back again. It also bought web analytics company Unica in August and it recently started providing resources for an anlytics course in DePaul University, suggesting it is deadly serious about the game.