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19 Jun 12 Is Samsung looking to leave Android?



The
Galaxy S III from Samsung.
(Credit: Samsung)

Samsung Electronics’ new CEO called for the company to
redouble its focus on software, which could hint at a move away from
Android and toward its own
proprietary operating system.

Samsung has long desired to push its own integrated hardware
and software experience, investing in its Bada operating system and
selling devices in select markets. But the popularity of Android, which
powers its most successful smartphone and
tablet
devices, including its flagship Galaxy
S III
phone, means the company can’t exactly quit the
platform.

Samsung has been steadily investing in its own proprietary
software, an initiative that new CEO Kwon Oh-hyun fully supports.

In his inaugural speech, Kwon said the company needs to have
particular focus on serving new customer experiences by strengthening
its software capabilities, user experience, and design, according to
the Wall
Street Journal
.

A completely integrated product would allow Samsung to have
full control over every detail of the device, and wouldn’t leave it so
dependent on an outside company for the latest software. In addition,
its own platform would allow it to stand apart from a sea of devices
running on the same software.

The ideal scenario for such a model, of course, is Apple,
which builds its own hardware and software with iOS. On the flip side,
companies such have Research In Motion, Palm, and Nokia have struggled
with their own proprietary software. Palm has largely disappeared,
while Nokia switched to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system,
with the struggling RIM the only one attempting to stand apart with its
BlackBerry operating system.

The pressure is likely on for Samsung to develop its own
operating system now that Google has officially acquired Motorola
Mobility, which means its partner will also be a competitor with the
potential to access earlier versions of Android. Google has said it
would continue to be neutral when it comes to Android, while Samsung
has said it is looking forward to the legal cover Motorola would bring
to the Android community.

Privately, Samsung executives have said they expect to compete
with Google on the device front, making it increasingly important to
differentiate. While Samsung already customizes Android a bit with
TouchWiz, the company could do more to veer away from the standard
Android user experience.

Whether that’s a good thing is unclear. Many Android fans
prefer a “stock” experience, which leaves the software alone. But
handset manufacturers believe they need to set themselves apart to
avoid getting lost in the sea of generic-looking devices.

Samsung could take it a step further and move toward its own
operating system. As the largest smartphone manufacturer in the
world–outselling even Apple–it certainly has the heft and reach to
pull it off.

Via CNET

Article source: http://asia.cnet.com/is-samsung-looking-to-leave-android-62216762.htm

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18 Jun 12 Would Samsung ever leave Android?


The Galaxy S III from Samsung.

(Credit:
CNET)

Samsung Electronics’ new CEO called for the company to redouble its focus on software, which could hint at a move away from
Android and toward its own proprietary operating system.

Samsung has long desired to push its own integrated hardware and software experience, investing in its Bada operating system and selling devices in select markets. But the popularity of Android, which powers its most successful smartphone and
tablet devices, including its flagship Galaxy S III phone, means the company can’t exactly quit the platform.

Samsung has been steadily investing in its own proprietary software, an initiative that new CEO Kwon Oh-hyun fully supports.

In his inaugural speech, Kwon said the company needs to have particular focus on serving new customer experiences by strengthening its software capabilities, user experience, and design, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A completely integrated product would allow Samsung to have full control over every detail of the device, and wouldn’t leave it so dependent on an outside company for the latest software. In addition, its own platform would allow it to stand apart from a sea of devices running on the same software.

The ideal scenario for such a model, of course, is Apple, which builds its own hardware and software with iOS. On the flip side, companies such have Research In Motion, Palm, and Nokia have struggled with their own proprietary software. Palm has largely disappeared, while Nokia switched to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, with the struggling RIM the only one attempting to stand apart with its BlackBerry operating system.

The pressure is likely on for Samsung to develop its own operating system now that Google has officially acquired Motorola Mobility, which means its partner will also be a competitor with the potential to access earlier versions of Android. Google has said it would continue to be neutral when it comes to Android, while Samsung has said it is looking forward to the legal cover Motorola would bring to the Android community.

Privately, Samsung executives have said they expect to compete with Google on the device front, making it increasingly important to differentiate. While Samsung already customizes Android a bit with TouchWiz, the company could do more to veer away from the standard Android user experience.

Whether that’s a good thing is unclear. Many Android fans prefer a “stock” experience, which leaves the software alone. But handset manufacturers believe they need to set themselves apart to avoid getting lost in the sea of generic-looking devices.

Samsung could take it a step further and move toward its own operating system. As the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world — outselling even Apple — it certainly has the heft and reach to pull it off.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57455054-94/would-samsung-ever-leave-android/

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18 Jun 12 Wolverton: New BlackBerry software could be sour fruit for RIM …


Click photo to enlarge

Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry software looks cool, but I don’t have high hopes for it.

BlackBerry 10, which is slated to start showing up on RIM smartphones later this year, has some innovative new features that will set it apart from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

But the update is years late, and the new software is not far-and-away superior to iOS or Android. Perhaps worst of all, RIM is ignoring the needs of current BlackBerry customers by failing to provide them with an easy transition.

We’ve seen this play before, and we know how it ends: In disaster.

The BlackBerry software has long needed an overhaul. Compared with Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, RIM’s OS is ugly and difficult to use. It was designed before touch-screen phones were the norm and, though modified to work on those devices, looks and feels jerry-built.

By contrast, the new OS, which I got a glimpse of earlier this month at a meeting with RIM representatives, looks and feels contemporary. It’s designed from the ground up for large-display, touch-screen devices, with large icons and full-screen, well-designed applications. Taking a page from Microsoft, it includes program tiles that can act like widgets, showing updated information such as the current weather or stock price.

One neat feature, called Flow UI, allows users to view alerts, such as new email messages, by swiping from one corner. By swiping

further, they can directly switch to the application that sent the alert. Flow also allows users to switch back and forth between their inbox and an individual message by simply swiping. The system is intuitive to use and an improvement on similar features found in iOS and Android.

BlackBerry 10 has other compelling features. Notably, its camera application allows users to instantly improve photos of friends or family members whose eyes are closed. The app both recognizes faces and starts recording images before you press the shutter button. If the face in your photo doesn’t look right, you can replace it immediately with the same face captured instants before.

But as innovative as these features may be, I don’t think they’ll save RIM, which has seen its market share and sales slide sharply in recent years thanks to competition from Android and Apple.

Partly that’s because BlackBerry 10 is really late to the party. It’s been five years since Apple released the first iPhone and revolutionized the smartphone market. It’s been nearly four years since the first Android phones hit store shelves.

RIM should have come out with a revamped BlackBerry software three or four years ago, before Android and iOS took over the market. Now, at best, its going to be scrounging for third place with Microsoft, whose own updated phone software still hasn’t caught on with the general public despite coming out nearly two years ago.

BlackBerry 10 is not just too late but also too little; it isn’t a big enough advance in the fast-moving smartphone market. Apple’s iOS and Android took off in part because they were vast improvements on what preceded them, the first-generation of smartphone software from the likes of Nokia, Palm and, yes, RIM.

BlackBerry 10 is a big improvement on the old BlackBerry software, but isn’t revolutionary or compelling enough to lure consumers back to BlackBerry from their iPhones or Android devices.

So that leaves RIM with trying to retain its existing BlackBerry customers. With some 77 million active BlackBerry users worldwide, that’s a significant customer base. But RIM isn’t making it easy for them to stick around.

Despite sharing a name, the BlackBerry 10 is unrelated to previous versions of the BlackBerry software and won’t run older BlackBerry apps. Consumers who have invested in BlackBerry programs face the prospect of buying all new ones if they upgrade to a BlackBerry 10 phone. And companies that have designed a suite of BlackBerry applications for their employees could soon find those being obsolete.

In either situation, current customers are almost certainly going to ask if it’s worth it to switch to BlackBerry 10. If they are faced with the prospect of changing to a whole new platform anyway, they almost certainly will consider switching instead to one of the market leaders: iOS or Android.

It’s amazing to me that RIM is forsaking its older BlackBerry customers in this way, especially after seeing what’s happened to Palm and Nokia. Like RIM, both of those companies replaced their aging smartphone operating systems with new and improved ones that were years late and incompatible. The result: Their older customers abandoned them. Palm ended up in history’s dustbin, and Nokia, which last week announced it was laying off another 10,000 workers, is in danger of heading the same way.

RIM looks to be following the same path.

Contact Troy Wolverton at 408-840-4285 or twolverton@mercurynews.com. Follow him at www.mercurynews.com/troy-wolverton or Twitter.com/troywolv.

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/troy-wolverton/ci_20857838/wolverton-new-blackberry-rim-software-could-be-sour-fruit-iphone-android

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06 Apr 12 Google’s Page: ‘Android Is On Fire’


10 Everyday Android Apps For SMBs
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
As Google CEO Larry Page took to the Web on Thursday to talk about his first year as the company’s leader, he called out many of the company’s accomplishments. None were as impressive as the traction Google’s Android smartphone platform has gained around the globe.

“Android is on fire, and the pace of mobile innovation has never been greater,” he wrote. “Over 850,000 devices are activated daily through a network of 55 manufacturers and more than 300 carriers.”

Android smartphones are sold by nearly every wireless network operator in the U.S., even those that offer only pre-paid and no-contract services. According to the latest numbers from Nielsen, Android accounts for more than 50% of new smartphone purchases in the U.S. Consumers are hungry for Android smartphones, there’s no doubt about that.

“Android is a tremendous example of the power of partnership, and it just gets better with each version,” Page continued. “The latest update, Ice Cream Sandwich, has a beautiful interface that adapts to the form of the device. Whether it’s on a phone or tablet, the software works seamlessly.”

[ Android's popularity will be a big challenge for Microsoft Windows Phone. See Windows Phone's Big Problem: Google Ignores It. ]

Android 4.0 is a significant improvement over previous versions of the platform, but it has yet to reach many end users. It is available only on a small number of new handsets and has been pushed out to only a few existing smartphones. Most recently, Sprint and Google made Android 4.0 available to the Samsung Nexus S 4G. Once more people get their hands on Android 4.0, I think the excitement for Android will only accelerate.

Page recounts the dark days, too, explaining how painful it used to be to develop mobile software.

“I remember first meeting Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, back in 2004. At the time, developing apps for mobile devices was incredibly painful. We had a closet full of over 100 phones, and we were building our software pretty much one device at a time. Andy believed that aligning standards around an open-source operating system would drive innovation across the mobile industry. At the time, most people thought he was nuts.”

Rubin’s ideas obviously took hold and have spawned a massive ecosystem that has resulted in more than 300 million Android devices sold/distributed in the last 3.5 years.

Looking to the future of its mobile efforts, Page is clearly excited. He references Google’s current bid to acquire Motorola Mobility. (The deal has been approved by U.S. and European regulators but is awaiting approval from Chinese regulators.) Page reiterated the company’s plans to keep the Android ecosystem open with the spirit of partnership, innovation, and growth of paramount importance. “Android was built as an open ecosystem, and we have no plans to change that.”

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Article source: http://www.informationweek.com/news/hardware/handheld/232800413

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05 Apr 12 It’s Big, It’s Blue, It’s Windows, But Can It Beat Rival Phones?


In the lucrative and competitive world of smartphones, Apple’s

iPhone is the most popular device and Google’s

Android—used by phone makers like Samsung and Motorola—is the most widely used operating system. With Palm gone, and the BlackBerry staggering, most smartphone buyers and app developers now think of it as a two-horse race.

However, Microsoft and Nokia, two former thoroughbreds of the smartphone market in the days before the iPhone changed the game, are determined to change that. They’ve teamed up in the hope of offering an appealing third choice. So far, Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system has struggled to attract either buyers or app developers. But on April 8, Nokia and ATT will begin selling the first high-end, 4G LTE, Windows Phone model released in the U.S., the Lumia 900.

The Lumia 900 looks rather different from other smartphones. It’s a solid, sturdy, single slab of rounded blue plastic—yes, blue—with a large, thin, bright screen that appears to lie on top, instead of being inset. (For the less adventurous, it also comes in black, and, in a few weeks, white.)

Plus, for an unspecified “limited time,” it costs just $100, half the typical $200 price of most other top-of-the-line competitors. That price requires a two-year ATT contract whose fees start at $80 a month for a very minimal amount of data and voice minutes, plus unlimited texting. (It’s $60 without the texting plan.)

I’ve been testing the Lumia 900 and found that it provides the best home yet for the attractive Windows Phone software, but still doesn’t measure up to rival smartphones.

The screen is a roomy 4.3 inches—much larger than the iPhone’s—but the phone itself, while larger than an iPhone, isn’t as big and bulky as some recent Android models. I found it comfortable in the hand and the pocket.

When on an LTE network, the phone delivered download speeds of between 10 and 15 megabits per second in my tests, faster than most home Internet connections. Voice calls were clear and reliable, and the rear camera delivers 8 megapixel resolution.

Also, the Lumia 900 features the three biggest advantages of the Windows Phone platform—a handsome, distinctive, tile-based user interface; a mobile version of Microsoft’s Xbox Live gaming network; and a mobile version of genuine Microsoft Office, which allows you to edit documents and share them with PCs and Macs, or store them in the cloud.

But, overall, I consider the Lumia 900 a mixed bag. Unless you are a big Windows Phone fan, or don’t want to spend more than $100 upfront, I can’t recommend the Lumia 900 over the iPhone 4S, or a first-rate Android phone like Samsung’s Galaxy S II series.

I was underwhelmed by the battery life, the browser, and the quality of its photos.

Plus, the Windows Phone platform has only a fraction of the third-party apps available for its rivals—about 70,000, versus nearly 600,000 for the iPhone and more than 450,000 for Android.

It also has a weaker content ecosystem. For instance, there is no way to buy TV shows or movies directly from the phone, and far fewer magazine and newspaper apps are available.

And if LTE—which I consider the only true 4G network in the U.S.—matters to you, bear in mind that ATT offers that service in just 31 markets, versus 203 for Verizon. In most places, the Lumia, like other ATT phones, including the ATT version of the iPhone, delivers a slower version of 4G, which is really just a souped-up version of 3G.

The Windows Phone software itself on this new phone hasn’t changed. Instead of multiple pages of icons, as on iPhone and Android, it offers a scroll of tiles that show information. And it still has “hubs” that combine information like contacts and social-media updates for people you know.

Still, despite its flaws, including the likelihood of a lot of scrolling to get to apps, it remains a refreshing change from the dominant competitors.

My biggest problem was with the Web browser, a mobile version of Internet Explorer.

Back in January, when I tested the same browser on an entry-level Nokia Windows Phone, it worked fine on both the cellular network and on my Wi-Fi network. But the Lumia 900 stalled frequently when rendering websites on my fast, home Wi-Fi network, though the phone did fine on LTE.

To make sure my Wi-Fi wasn’t faulty, I tried some of the same sites, in the same spot, on an iPhone, an Android phone and even an older Samsung Windows Phone. All worked perfectly. Nokia had no explanation for this problem.

I found that, in light use, the battery lasted through a typical day. But in heavier use, including lots of email usage and Web browsing, streaming a one-hour TV show via Netflix, and conducting an hour-long phone call, the battery drained more quickly and was almost gone by late in the afternoon. This was especially true if I was using LTE much of the time.

While the Lumia 900′s processor is single-core, not the common dual-core found on other high-end phones, I found the phone worked smoothly and quickly, and played videos fine.

The screen resolution of 800 by 480 is lower than the iPhone’s, and I found the display generally less sharp than the Apple’s. The screen visibility was a bit better outdoors than most other phones I’ve tested, but not dramatically so.

The camera, despite having the same resolution as the new iPhone, took notably worse pictures of the same scenes in my tests. To my eye, colors were oversaturated, and details were less sharp.

There were a few other issues. The Mac version of Microsoft’s Windows Phone syncing software wouldn’t recognize the Lumia 900, though the PC version did. The on-off button isn’t labeled, or easily distinguishable, from the dedicated camera button.

Bottom line: If you’re looking for a $100, high-end smartphone, or are a Windows Phone fan who has been waiting for better hardware, the Lumia 900 is worth considering. But the phone had just too many drawbacks in my tests to best its chief competitors.

A version of this article appeared April 4, 2012, on page D1 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: It’s Big, It’s Blue, It’s Windows, But Can It Beat Rival Phones?.

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052702304023504577321743416375030.html

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