Tag: windows phone 7

HTC 12 megapixel 'Mango' smartphone leaked

HTC is to release a smartphone with a professional-level 12 megapixel camera that supports the RAW file format, supported by the latest Windows Phone 7 software.

A video was posted by renowned leakster Eldar Murtazin, which shows the phone he has dubbed the HTC ‘Mazaa’ in action, says Digital Trends.

While it is not necessarily the first smartphone to ship with a 12 megapixel camera, it is a rarity among handsets as it is a specification that professional snappers use. The ability to shoot in the RAW format is usually only available in dedicated cameras.

Another interesting point is that the leaked phone appears to be running on Windows Phone 7 ‘Mango’ operating system, the latest update from Microsoft that is yet to hit the market.

The new fruity flavoured update, which Microsoft has been twiddling its thumbs over for some time now, will also feature on handsets being made by Acer, Fujitsu, Samsung, LG and ZTE.

It has also been noted that Mango would be the operating system on which the much anticipated Nokia/Microsoft handset collaboration will debut later this year.


Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 tells Ballmer where you are

Desperate to prove that Apple is not the only fruitcake which spies on its users, Cnet thinks that it has found proof that Microsoft does the same thing.

Apparently the Windows Phone 7 transmits to a miniature data dump including a unique device ID, details about nearby Wi-Fi networks, and the phone’s GPS-derived exact latitude and longitude, directly to Vole HQ.

Well, Cnet claims this, but a Volish spokesperson could not confirm it. Nor could the SpokesVole say how long the location histories are stored and how frequently the phone’s coordinates are transmitted over the Internet.

Microsoft could confirm that location histories are not saved directly on the device, which is much different from Apple’s practice of recording the locations of visible mobile towers on iPhone and iPad devices. Google only records the last few dozen locations on Android phones.

Also unlike Apple, Microsoft has been fairly clear about what its device does.

According to the “Help and How-To” section of the Windows Phone site, Microsoft has a database with the “location of certain mobile cell towers and Wi-Fi access points” so a mobile device can determine its location more quickly, and with less battery drain, than if only GPS was used.

So when Cnet says that Windows Phone 7 sends data, to Vole it is not really saving tracking details in an easy to access package. The user transmits their data to a server which gives them the data for the region.

Microsoft says that in the case of Windows Phone 7, location information is transmitted to its servers only if Wi-Fi and location services are turned on. It also points out it offers a global switch to turn off all location-based services. Which would kill the GPS functions.

Vole said that the MAC address of the Wi-Fi access point, signal strength, a randomly generated unique device ID retained for an unspecified limited period of time, and, if GPS is turned on, the location and direction and speed of travel. But it only happens when the user asks the server for information.

Apple has admitted that the data is stored on the phone for up to a year and “intermittently” collected and “transmitted to Apple” every 12 hours. It has not said what it does with the information. 

Video shows high number of Android activations

Android’s developer channel on Youtube posted a very nice visualisation of Android device activations from October 2008 to January 2011. Whilst London and San Francisco are seen laser-beaming the night sky, South Korea becomes a hotbed of activity coinciding with the release of Android handsets from local manufacturers and global powerhouses Samsung and LG Electronics.

Android has been gaining a lot of traction since last year. Symbian OS still accounted for a 37.6 percent market share last year, yet back in 2009 it held 46.9 percent. In the same timeframe, Android grew from 3.9 percent to 22.7 percent in 2010, coming in second place. Apple’s iOS, by comparison, just grew slightly from 14.4 to 15.7 percent, whereas the Blackberry OS fell from 19.9 to 16 percent. Microsoft just isn’t important in the mobile arena, dwindling from 8.7 to 4.2 percent

Nokia, Lord of Symbian, is seeing its empire being sacked and is losing its lands to rival makers with rivalling mobile OSes. Giving up MeeGo and deciding against Android in order not to become just another Android phone maker, Nokia opted to become just another Windows Phone 7 company, hoping to reconquer what it has lost with a new army not this, but next year.

By the time Nokia is able to ship smartphones running Windows Phone 7, competitors will have had Android-based devices on the market featuring 3D screens and multicore SoC’s, such as Nvidia’s Tegra 2 3D, Tegra 3 or TI’s OMAP5.

Thanks to Moore’s Law, low-end phones running Android will also be appearing and punters will flock to them, turning their backs on Symbian OS. Apple knows this, which is why the company is reportedly preparing entry-level iPhones before being stuck in its Walled Garden and nowhere to run with a single, very expensive mobile phone.

One thing is for certain – this time next year, any visualisation of Android device activations will be even brighter.


Nokia shareholders start rebellion and plan a company coup

In the wake of last week’s news that Nokia has entered a partnership with Microsoft, a group of nine Nokia Shareholders has published “Nokia Plan B”, a manifesto “to challenge the company’s strategy and partnership with Microsoft”.

On their website, the currently anonymous nine shareholders outline an agenda and a series of actions, which include ousting current CEO and President of Nokia Stephen Elop.

Since Nokia and Microsoft announced their partnership late last week, Nokia’s community of die-hard fans and developers have been lamenting over feeling “betrayed” by the Finnish phone giant. As part of the announcement, Nokia said they would continue their hardware innovation, while using Windows Phone 7 – Microsoft’s new mobile phone OS – as the primary software platform. Groups such as Intel, the Linux Foundation and more which had been supporting development of Nokia’s previous effort, MeeGo operating system which is based on Linux, have expressed their “disappointment” at the decision.

The Nokia Plan B team have raised some significant points in their post outlining how they wish to see the company managed. They want to return control of Nokia devices’ software to Nokia themselves; overhaul their recruitment strategy to bring in new young engineers to re-ignite their operating system efforts; and eliminate “outdated and bureaucratic” research and development management systems. Following Elop, the Microsoft partnership would be next for the chop, by being scaled back just to North American territories and based on sales performance of Nokia Windows Phone 7 devices; MeeGo would re-take its place as Nokia’s main mobile OS.

The post also says a lot about Nokia’s current research and development practices. Research and development outsourcing and geographical distribution has brought the Nokia engineers’ efforts to their knees; they say a shift to 90% research in two key locations, at least one in Finland, will help re-focus the engineering effort. They also cite multiple Nokia management levels above outsourced R&D efforts to be causing up to 90% management overhead in engineering projects.

Whether or not this small team will have any impact on the future of Nokia remains to be seen. For now, they represent the hopes of numerous individuals and organisations who had pinned their hopes on MeeGo and Nokia software and devices. The Plan B team already claim to have other Nokia shareholders interested in what they’re doing, but whether nine small shareholders can take over the entire Nokia board will be something else.

IE9, multitasking goes head to head with Windows Phone 7

Steve Ballmer takes to the stage at the Hotel Somethingorother here at Mobile World Congress. We don’t even attempt to make it and sit on the floor at the MWC booth – watching on with increasing leg cramp as the shy and retiring salesman of Redmond tells us, mostly, what we already knew.

Ignoring the going forwards and the ecosystems, which Ballmer has a bad case of, here is what we can expect from Windows Phone 7 at an unknown date this year. 

The much lauded Internet Explorer 9 is coming to Windows Phone 7. There’s a demo. It looks good. Microsoft shows as the usual fish in a barrell to demonstrate – a metaphor for something, we’re sure, but no idea what.

While your fish swim around on your Windows 7 Phone, you can exit super quick and do something else too. That’s because there’s now multitasking. It too is demo’d and it looks good: third party music apps are able to keep running while you can switch, seemingly effortlessly, between games and even run two at once, if you’re mad. Jumping in and out isn’t instant but near enough in the demo. You can hold down the “back” button and it’ll bring up all your running apps, supposedly while being mindful of power. 

Hubs are getting a new coat of paint. Now there will be Twitter and other third party integration so you know more about your friends with less time and effort. As the speaking developer suggests, you can now put your wife on your home page – it’s stalking made easy.

Other stuff: essentially it’s Microsoft continuing to push its cloud service. Taking photos go up to the cloud real quick and likewise with a small overhaul of Office on the phone. 

Swingin’ Stephen Elop popped up towards the end to re-hash everything he said at his own conference yesterday evening. Microsoft doesn’t have us bent over, this is mutually beneficial! And a third ecosystem.

Ballmer was a little more forthcoming, citing the Windows Phone 7 updates as a great step in helping Microsoft’s partnership with the many many manufacturers involved – adding Nokia, at the end, as an afterthought. Perhaps.

Microsoft planning management shakeup

Microsoft is planning a management shake-up that will concentrate on replacing many of its executives with fresh people who have an engineering background.

The changes are being sought by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, according to two unnamed sources close to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Ballmer has already been replacing people in the company, last month getting rid of its server division president, Bob Muglia, who had been with the company for 23 years. Ballmer said that the company needed new leadership in this area to focus on cloud computing, an area which is expected to boom over the next few years.

The changes in other key positions are likely to be in the smartphone and tablet sectors, areas which Microsoft arrived considerably late at after the success of Apple’s iPhone and iPad and Google’s Android platform. The appointments are expected to be made this month, although these plans were not intended to be public.

One of the reasons cited by the sources for the shake-up is mounting investor criticism, which has been focused on Microsoft slipping behind main rivals, particularly with Windows Phone 7, which received good critical reception but had a very late market entry. The dramatic failure of the Kin phone also received stern criticism from shareholders.

The focus on finding engineering people to fill the key positions suggests that Ballmer has lost faith in his marketing team. He already replaced Stephen Elop with Kurt DelBene, an engineering chief, instead of a marketing executive, which was widely expected.

The fact that an engineering background is a prerequisite for the positions suggests that Microsoft’s current management lacks this kind of knowledge to a degree, which rivals like Google and Apple have been using to push product lines. 

How about Steve himself? He’ll probably be clinging on.

Analysts advise Nokia to dump MeeGo

Dump Meego and switch to Windows Phone 7 is the message sent to Nokia this week by a number of analysts.

In an open letter to Stephen Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Berenberg Bank’s Adnaan Ahmad said Nokia’s move to Windows Phone 7 would benefit both companies.

The analysts urged the struggling company to ditch the Symbian OS – which has been dropped by the likes of Sony Ericsson and Samsung – as well as the unreleased released MeeGo. They said developing smartphones with Microsoft’s OS would give them a much better advantage.

The recommendations come as Nokia’s newly appointed CEO, Stephen Elop plans to talk about how he will turn around the struggling business next week.

“Get rid of your own proprietary high-end solution (MeeGo) – it’s the biggest joke in the tech industry right now and will put you even further behind Apple and Google,” Ahmad advised Elop.

“Focus your high-end portfolio around WP7, and over time you can take the cost down (that’s Steve [Ballmer’s] job and cost base) to get this into the mid-range market.

“Push your Symbian solutions into the low-to-mid-range smartphone market as quickly as possible to defend market share versus Android’s upcoming lowered cost ecosystem.”

Ahmad claims Microsoft also needs the support of the world’s biggest smartphone maker. “Two million units [of Windows Phone 7] shipped in the last quarter is not really much to write home about, given $500m in marketing programmes (ouch), but with Nokia on-side, you get access to a potential 20-25 percent global share over time – and exclusivity.

The analyst’s advice was echoed by Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair, who said the switch to Windows Phone 7 “would address the key concern we have had about Nokia for the last several years: terrible software”.

MeeGo, which is in joint development with Intel, has already had its fair share of trouble despite it not even being launched. Back in November we heard that developers were none too trusting of the OS. Reasons for this included that it was late to market, it showed no signs of a solid app framework and didn’t have enough to differentiate it from other popular choices. Intel and Co. continue to pin hopes on Meego – showing off with a spendthrift attitude at a conference in Dublin where they rented the entire Guinness brewery.

And it doesn’t seem Nokia’s people have faith in the OS either. In October its MeeGo Devices VP, Ari Jaaksi resigned – leaving the company in the lurch.

Developers flocking to Android tablets – report

Developers are flocking to Android tablets in droves, closing the gap with Apple’s leading iPad, according to a report by Appcelerator and market research firm IDC.

The Mobile Developer Report surveyed 2,235 Appcelerator Titanium developers in January on changing priorities and development plans for the mobile industry in 2011.

The report found that Google is nigh on neck and neck with Apple in the smartphone market thanks to a highly successful year in 2010 and that it is making major moves to repeat its success in the tablet market as well.

Developer interest in Android smartphones was up 5 percent to 87 percent, just 5 points short of the iPhone’s 92 percent developer mindshare. Many iPhone developers revealed that they were torn between choosing Android or the iPad, suggesting that there is no clear loyalty to iOS.

Windows Phone 7 also saw some growth from 28 percent to 36 percent developer interest.

In the last report in September 2010 84 percent of developers asked said they were interested in developing applications for the iPad. This month that figure has grown to 87 percent.

In September 62 percent of developers wanted to write apps for Android tablets, but that figure is now 74 percent, a substantially bigger increase than that seen by the iPad, mirroring similar fast growth for Android in the smartphone sector. Part of the reason for this huge rise is likely to be Google’s revelations about Android 3.0, Honeycomb, which caters more for tablets than previous versions.

RIM’s PlayBook also saw some increased attention, up from 16 percent to 28 percent, suggesting that the BlackBerry OS could be onto a minor comeback in the tablet arena. WebOS tablets were also on the radar for some 16 percent of developers.

The leading factor that affects developers decisions to work on Android tablets is cost, with 57 percent picking that option. 49 percent wanted less fragmentation, while 33 percent were impressed with Android 3.0’s capabilities.

Developers wanted several new features to be added to the iPad 2, such as cameras, a USB connector and a better retina display.

82 percent of developers wanted to distribute their apps through the Android Market, but 37 percent were interested in using Amazon’s Android Appstore.

One area that Google and Apple both lost in was the smart TV market, with developer interest falling 11 points to 33 percent for Google TV and 10 points to 30 percent for Apple TV. Clearly both companies need to make major efforts in this area if it is to take off like smartphones and tablets.

Windows 7 to be fastest growing smartphone OS – report

Analysts at Ovum have announced a number of predictions for the telecoms industry in 2011, with expectations that Windows 7 will become the fastest growing platform for smartphones, while the mobile landgrab in emerging markets will begin to slow down with emphasis shifting to broadband.

It is thought that telecoms markets in the emerging markets of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America will see intensified competition that will lead to lower prices, slower growth and indeed lower margins.

It is noted by Ovum analyst Angel Dobardziev that the “land grab phase” which occurred in the last decade will begin to wind down in 2011.  Although it is noted that there are areas of Africa and Asia that still contain potential customers, they are predominantly in rural areas that are hard to reach, and so are not attractive to service providers.

“For service providers all of this will mean that 20-30 percent subscriber and revenue growth rates will become increasingly rare, and single digit or low double digit growth will be the norm, particularly in regions such as Eastern Europe and Latin America,” said Dobardziev.

“Competition will intensify as players increasingly focus on winning market share from each other.”

Furthermore smartphones will increase their proliferation across emerging markets, with significant reductions in device price points expected  combined with the increasing capabilities of mid range devices.

“This will be great for users, who will enjoy bigger, better, and faster devices services and services – mostly at lower prices.  To deliver this and retain their margins, operators will increase their cost efficiency efforts.”

Meanwhile broadband access is forecast to become much more prominent in emerging markets during 2011, with the expectation that will become the fastest and most promising growth engine, amid the rapidly growing coverage of 3G and to a lesser extent wireline, cable, WiMAX , and in some instances fibre, according to Dobardziev.

“There will be parallels with the mobile land grab in the intensity of the battle , but the explosion of data traffic that will ensue will pose a new set of network and financial challenges to telcos – and a massive opportunity for equipment vendors.”

More general predictions for smartphones by Ovum analyst Tony Cripps point to the continued adoption by consumers throughout 2011, though it is a predicted that the focus will begin to be more on the major platform firm’s influence on the ecosystems on which they operate rather than just the number of shipments that they make.

According to Cripps it will be Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform that will make the biggest impact in 2011, with the expectation that it will become the fastest-growing platform.

Cripps believes that it is the “unique and desirable” interface of the platform’s interface, accompanied by a design and user experience that will enable it to begin to rival Apple’s iPhone.

When asked about whether Windows Phone 7 will continue capitalise on the predicted growth, Cripps told TechEye that there are certainly positive signs.

“This is an interesting question, especially in light of what an outwardly attractive package of user experience and integrated service offerings Windows Phone 7 represents. Certainly it has introduced something fresh to the smartphone field among the many iPhone-like approaches we’ve also seen, as well as the scale to make those developments meaningful in the market.”

“With that amount of investment behind it, the success or otherwise of Windows Phone 7 will be something of a bellwether for the future development of the smartphone market, he said.

“Right now we’d probably bet on it becoming a solid number three behind Android and iPhone in the medium term with the potential to go further. However, as it’s early days as yet it would be a bit much to expect it to overhaul those platforms – or BlackBerry – in the near future.”

Android meanwhile is expected to be the winner with regards to popularity amongst mobile developers during 2011 as it begins to swamp Apple’s installed base.

“Android offers a readymade but also fairly customisable software platform for OEMs that isn’t tied to any particular device manufacturer,” Cripps tells TechEye. “It is readily supported by major chipset vendors and also which offers the potential for an “iPhone-like” experience for users and application developers across a very wide range of price points.”

“In this way Google filled a gap in the market that other platforms – notably Symbian and Windows Mobile – couldn’t completely fulfil, although that’s not to say that there aren’t disadvantages in providing Google with such widespread access to peoples’ mobile phones.”

“This is especially true in terms of advertising opportunities and the difficulty other parties, mobile operators in particular, have in competing with them with their own web-Based apps and services.”

Cripps believes that Android potentially overtaking the iPhone in mobile developers’ affections could lead to a scenario where major content and application providers begin to develop for Android at the expense of iOS.

“If that occurs there could be ramifications for the attractiveness of each platform for consumers or other end users who may begin to choose devices based on what content or applications are available on them as much as they do other factors such as brand, desirability, price etc. That would be more of a worry for Apple than falling behind in the sheer number of apps (although that’s a long way from happening) as it would materially impact on its device sales.”

Is Microsoft considering buying a handset manufacturer?

Microsoft refused to rule out the possibility that it would buy a mobile phone manufacturer, but just how likely is it that the company would make an acquisition in this area?

Rumours have been flying high and low since Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, made some interesting comments in an interview with CNBC

When asked if Microsoft would consider buying a major handset manufacturer he gave a cryptic answer, stating that there is a difference between “bold technology bets” and acquisitions, and that it had done the former, but he would not comment on the latter in the interview.

He said that acquisitions are “a complicated subject” and asked “when does an acquisition make sense?” He had no answer for that question, but that’s likely because Windows Phone 7 is still in its early days.

Windows Phone 7 launched very late in the game, with three rival companies already dominant in the market: RIM, Apple, and Google. This late entry led to many predications that WP7 simply wouldn’t catch on.

And this may in fact be true, as Microsoft refuses to reveal its recent sales figures, which it never does for its successful products. What we do know is that it only sold 40,000 devices on launch day, a paltry figure for a launch day, which usually sees better-than-average sales. While this number may be better than sales of the Microsoft Kin, when we compare this to sales of between 200,000 and 300,000 per day for Android and Apple it paints a very grim picture.

An analyst for NPD Group, Ross Rubin, suggested that things were not going well for Microsoft and that it had failed to build the early momentum that Android did. Of course, Android took some time to really take off, but it filled a gap in the market that isn’t there any more.

Would an acquisition help with sales then? That’s a very big question, as it depends entirely on what exactly the problem is and which handset manufacturer might be bought. 

The problem with Windows Phone 7 is that, while it’s technically not bad, it doesn’t offer anything really new to the world. Apple gained popularity for its user-friendly consumer-orientated experience, while Android won the hearts of open source fanatics and people looking for a cheap alternative to iOS. Windows Phone 7 simply doesn’t have that “something” needed to steal significant market share from either of these big players.

And buying a handset company won’t help, unless it’s a major company like Nokia or HTC. If it were to automatically take the place of Symbian it has a fighting chance, but this is unlikely, as Windows Phone 7 tends to cater for the higher end of the market. While Symbian appears doomed to many, it’s much more likely that Nokia will embrace Android than WP7.

Buying out HTC or Motorola could help eliminate some of the competition, since both of these are big allies to Google, pumping out dozens of Android devices. That may lead to an antitrust probe, however, and will simply mean others will fill the void with many more Android models. There’s certainly no shortage of them.

It will also do little to affect Apple’s figures, since it does much of its manufacturing with Foxconn. Apple’s iPhone growth has been slowing in the face of the swift rise of Android, but it still has a healthy market share and a loyal fanbase. 

Android is also likely to continue its strong growth for some time, which makes it appear that a   Microsoft acquisition might simply be a waste of money.