[News] Google’s Nexus 7 tablet reported sales about 1 million per month

Asus executives are reporting some substantial growth in the Nexus 7 tablet area, according to their quarterly earnings call.  While Google does not discuss sales figures for their products, Asus apparently doesn’t have any such qualms…the call indicates that the first few months after launch about 500,000 units were sold, then steadily grew to 600,000 and then 700,000 in the months after that.  Currently that sales figure is just south of 1,000,000 – an impressive feat considering this device has had a handful of television commercials, a 1 day stint on Google’s homepage, and word of mouth marketing.  While these numbers pale in comparison to the numbers of iPads sold each week, it demonstrates the Nexus line from Google and partners is making headway in the Android tablet market.

With the Kindle Fire HD it’s only real competition, and with the upcoming release of larger storage and 3G connectivity options in the Nexus 7 (as well as the soon to be released Nexus 10 model) Android tablet sales as we head into the holiday season may well yet be even further on the rise.


[Op-Ed]Windows Phone 8 is D.O.A. due to puzzling choices by Microsoft and Nokia

Microsoft officially released Windows Phone 8 (WP8) yesterday at an event in San Francisco.  When it was originally announced way back on June 20th I thought it held a lot of promise.  The newer software supported multi-core processors, higher resolution screens, and maintained the speediness associated with the “modern UI” (or the artist formerly known as Metro for anyone outside of Microsoft).  Carriers were vocal about backing WP8 even though many of them had barely supported Windows Phone 7 (WP7).  It sounded like all the pieces were in place for a strong WP8 launch and Microsoft seemed to have an excellent chance of solidifying the third place position in the smart phone OS war behind Android and iOS.

While WP7 never exceeded 5% market share in the United States, I thought WP8 might make it to the high single digit/low double digit range.  As it finally launches more than four months after it was announced however, some puzzling decisions from Microsoft and Nokia have already condemned Windows Phone 8 to a slow, painful death.

On June 18th Microsoft unveiled their Surface tablets.  The Surface with Windows 8 RT features a quad-core Tegra 3 ARM CPU and a 10.6 inch 1366 x 768 screen.  The Surface with Windows 8 PRO features a dual-core Intel i5 and a 10.6″ 1080p screen.  Both tablets have 2 keyboard options, a USB port, and access to the Windows Office suite of  apps.  The Surface seemed like a viable laptop replacement.  Other tablets like the Asus Transformer had offered keyboards before, but access to the Office suite of apps, a USB port, and the option to get an Intel powered Surface made it feel more like a real computer than a tablet.  No release date or pricing information was given but speculation was it would be announced at the June 20th kickoff event.

Publicly WP8 partners supported Surface, but privately it was rumored many of them were unhappy with Microsoft’s decision to enter the hardware market.  Many of the partner OEM’s were also readying WP8 tablets and now they had to compete directly with Microsoft.  When Google produces a Nexus product they choose a partner to make it.  That way Google isn’t directly competing against the manufacturers they rely on.  They also spread the wealth around as Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung have all gotten a chance to produce Nexus products.  This keeps the partners happy while allowing Google to give users the pure Android experience.  Microsoft’s decision to compete directly with its OEM partners during WP8’s infancy seemed ill-advised.

Two days later on June 20th Microsoft officially announced Windows Phone 8 without a release date.  The Surface also didn’t get a release date or pricing.  That information would have to wait four months until October 16th to be revealed.  The WP8 release date wasn’t officially announced until yesterday. 

It’s unbelievable that companies make this mistake over and over.  When Apple announces a product it’s typically available for pre-order that day, and ships a week or two later.  They create buzz and then immediately take advantage of it with a product launch.  Meanwhile companies like Google, Microsoft, Motorola and Samsung hold product introduction conferences and don’t announce release dates or prices.  By the time the product comes out months later the excitement from the announcement is long gone.  Why not wait to announce until shortly before consumers can actually buy the product and take advantage of the positive press?  The answer is unclear, but I’m positive the vast majority of people have forgotten all about those first WP8 and Surface press conferences back in June.

A few months passed and then on September 5th Nokia announced the Lumia 820 and 920 smart phones.  For all intents and purposes, the 920 is the flagship WP8 device.  It features the same dual-core Snapdragon S4 as Android flagships, a 4.5″ “PureMotion HD+” 1280 x 768 screen, an 8.7MP PureView camera, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.  The camera and screen tech were particularly impressive.  It finally looked like WP8 had a device that was different and technologically strong enough to warrant serious attention.  Sadly the press conference once again ended without a release date or pricing.

On October 4th AT&T announced the Lumia 920 as an exclusive.  That’s when I knew WP8 was in trouble.  Look, the Samsung ATIV S and the HTC 8X (announced September 19th) are great smart phones, but they don’t stand out.  The ATIV-S is basically a Galaxy S III in a different case, and the 8X is a hybrid of the HTC Rezound and One X.  Why would a consumer entrenched in the Android or iOS ecosystem switch to either one?  Put simply, they won’t. 
The Lumia 920 is a stand out product though.  The camera is superior to those in other smart phones, the screen is beautiful , and the design is fresh and interesting.  Would the 920 have swayed large numbers of Android and iOS users to switch to WP8?  Probably not, but it had a much better chance than any other WP8 handset.  The exclusivity agreement effectively killed any chance of that happening though. 
Microsoft announced Surface tablet pricing on October 16th and that’s when I knew WP8 was done.  The entry level 32GB Surface is $499 and doesn’t come with the touch keyboard cover.  To get a keyboard you have to step up another $100 and get a bundle, or purchase one separately for $119.99.  The price of entry was officially too high. 
Why would anyone spend that kind of money and switch product ecoystems when they could buy an iPad or Nexus 10 for the same price?  Sure the Surface has some unique features and having Office on a tablet would be useful, but not enough to pay more for an inferior product.  The iPad and Nexus 10 have better CPUs, GPUs, and much better screens.  That’s not even taking into account that a 16GB Nexus 10 costs $100 less than the entry level Surface.
Windows Phone 8 isn’t a bad product by any means.  It actually has some really cool features, it’s snappy, and it’s different.  But it’s also late to the party and doesn’t do anything that warrants switching from Android or iOS.  Getting customers to switch product ecosystems is not an easy task.  The new product must either work substantially better than existing products, be sufficiently different to get consumers attention, or offer the same functionality at a lower price point.   Windows Phone 8 doesn’t do any of those.  Microsoft should have announced WP8 at the beginning of October, aggressively priced the Surface tablets and made sure the Nokia 920 was available on all carriers.  Put that all together and WP8 would have had a fighting chance.  Instead it’s D.O.A.

[News] Apple losing two executives in top tier shake-up

Announced the same day as the Google Event, Apple is going to be losing two top level executives early next year.  Senior VP of iOS Scott Forstall and Senior VP of retail John Browett will be leaving the company, effective Spring of 2013.  The reasons behind the shake-up are fodder for the rumor mill (as usual), running the gamut from Mr. Forstall being “forced out” due to conflicts with other Apple divisions as well as potentially the well known snafu over the iOS 6 Maps app.

In an e-mail from Apple CEO Tim Cook, the real reason was to “encourage even more collaboration between our world class hardware, software, and services teams at all levels of our company.”  Whatever that really means.  Typically, when a big wig doesn’t play nice with everybody, he/she better be bringing something major to the table for what they are taking off of it.  And in this case, if Forstall was really responsible for the junk that was/is Apple’s Maps, he wasn’t long for this world.  Most of the other reports out at the time when John Browett was hired at Apple were met less than stellar enthusiasm.

While I don’t think I’ve made it any secret how I feel about Apple and their idea of what “innovation” is, this is obviously a pretty big deal.  When Steve Jobs passed away, there were many (myself included) who felt like the great driving creative force behind Apple’s success was gone.  What we learned on Monday was that Jobs’s successor, Tim Cook, isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and pull the trigger if he feels people aren’t getting the job done.  Whether this will bode well or ill for Apple’s long term success remains to be seen.

In potentially related news, Strategy Analytics reports that Apple’s loyalty rating is down this year compared to last year in both Europe and the U.S.  Western European iPhone users report only a 75% loyalty rating, down from 88% from last year.  U.S. iPhone users were only slightly less loyal (fanatical?), dropping to 88% from 93%.  While these numbers do not likely have the slightest thing to do with the executives moving on at Apple, it could be a precursor of things to come if Apple continues to rest on their laurels from past successes.    

*Source:  BGR

[News] Google Play Store claims 700,000 apps available for Android devices

Anyone who knows anything about mobile knows that it all boils down to the apps.  Gaming is great, e-readers are nice, but the saying isn’t “There’s an app for that” for nothing.  People want (and demand) quality, usable apps for their mobile devices.  Apple leads the way in this area, but according to Google, as of this week, the Play Store isn’t far behind.  As of December 2010, Google Play noted that they had over 200,000 apps, which means that significant growth has come in Android apps in a relatively short period of time.

Now again, quality and usability come into play here, but with that many apps, it shouldn’t be too hard to find something good.  With quality crossovers from iOS to Android such as Flipboard, Instagram (now owned by Facebook) and the ever popular Angry Birds franchise, one has to search pretty hard to find something on an iPhone that doesn’t have an equally as good counterpart on Android.  Google also announced a deal with Warner Music Group (see details here) to bring even more content to their Play Store.  Things are looking up for Google this week for sure.

*Source:  Droid-Life

[News]Google’s official blog reveals pricing for Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (16GB and 32GB ), Nexus 7 w/mobile data and Nexus 10

A post this morning on Google’s official blog has revealed pricing for all their new Nexus products.

Without further ado, here’s the list:

  • Nexus 4: 8GB for $299; 16GB for $349; available unlocked and without a contract on 11/13 on the Google Play store in U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain and Canada. The 16GB version will also be available through T-Mobile for $199, with a 2-year contract (check here for more details).
  • Nexus 7: 16GB for $199 and 32GB for $249; available in U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Japan, and also through our retail partners Gamestop, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, Walmart.
  • Nexus 7 with 32GB and mobile data: $299 and unlocked, on sale 11/13 in the Google Play store in U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain and Canada.
  • Nexus 10: 16GB for $399; 32GB for $499; available on 11/13 in the Google Play Store in U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Japan.

The 8GB Nexus 4 is set to go on sale for $299, while the 16GB version is $349.  It is compatible with any GSM/HSPA+ carrier, but unfortunately doesn’t support LTE (sorry Sprint and Verizon customers).  The 16GB version in particular is a fantastic value compared to other unlocked flagship smartphones.

The already excellent Nexus 7 (N7) tablet line gets a new 32GB model for the same $249 price that the 16GB used to carry, while the 16GB model drops down to $199.  For those interested in a N7 with mobile data capability, a 32GB will be available for $299.

Finally the Nexus 10 tablet will be available in a 16GB model for $399 and a 32GB model for $499.  The pricing undercuts Apple’s iPad line by $100 for comparable models. The Nexus 10 features a cutting edge cortex A15 1.7ghz Exynos 5250 processor, a Mali-604 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and a iPad retina display beating 2560 x 1600 10.1″ display.  This gives the Nexus 10 a PPI of 300 compared with the 264 of the current iPad. 

The refreshed Nexus 7 tablets are available now, while the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 will be available through  the Google Play Store on November 13th.  The entire Nexus family launches with Android 4.2

Look for updates throughout the day as more information becomes available!
Official Nexus 4 Specs:

LG Nexus 4
Release Date: November 13th
Carrier(s): Unlocked
Price: $299/8GB & $349/16GB
$199 on T-Mobile on contract
CPU/GPU: Quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro/Adreno 320
Screen: 4.7″ IPS+ LCD (RGB) 1280x768p
Camera: 1.2MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 2GB RAM
Storage: 8GB/16GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/2100mah
Pros: Top CPU/GPU available. Flagship specs across the board including ram, camera, and screen. Nexus phone means non-encrypted boot loader and stock Android. Nexus phones get updates as soon as they’re available. 
Cons: No SD card slot. Internal battery. Storage options are very limited.  Won’t work on Sprint or Verizon, and no LTE support for AT&T.
Outlook: The LG Optimus Nexus brings top notch specs, a non-encrypted boot loader and stock Android together in a tidy black package.
Similar phones to consider:
AT&T: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, HTC One X, HTC One X+, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III
T-Mobile: Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

[News] Monday, Oct 29th, is the Google Android event *Updated*

Just a quick reminder that Monday, October 29th, 2012 will be the Google Android Event, starting at 10am eastern, 7:00am pacific time.  Yours truly will be covering the event as it happens, and will have updates throughout the morning for the Android goodies that come from it.  A quick recap of the rumors so far:  Nexus 10 tablet, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean updates, $99 Nexus 7, 32GB Nexus 7, and a 3G enabled Nexus 7.  Could there be more surprises in store?  I surely hope so.  But if all we get is what’s rumored, I expect it will be a pretty solid day for Google, Android, and the OEMs involved.

UPDATE:  So…that Google Event….not so much.  Due to concerns about travel during Hurricane Sandy, Google has postponed their event indefinitely.  Sad I guess, but best not to have folks be flying with windspeeds of up to 70mph.  Thanks to the good folks over at Engadget for letting us know.

*Source:  Engadget

[News]Nexus 10 pictures leak ahead of October 29th reveal

Courtesy of briefmobile.com we now have pictures of the previously rumored Nexus 10 (N10) tablet:

The leak indicates the Nexus 10 will be running Android 4.2 out the box.  Other specs include a 2560 x 1600 (Super AMOLED?) screen, a cortex A15 dual-core 1.7ghz Exynos 5250 CPU/Mali-604 GPU combo, 2GB of ram, 16GB of internal memory, a 5MP rear camera, NFC/WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0.  As with all Nexus products the N10 does not have an SD card slot.
As predicted the Exynos 5250 CPU/Mali-604 GPU combo is the same one used in Google and Samsung’s new Chromebook and is the first cortex A15 chip in a tablet or smart phone. 
The screen also falls in line with previous rumors and gives the Nexus 10 the highest PPI of any tablet on the market at 299.  This compares favorably with the current market leading iPad which has a PPI of 264.
No word on pricing yet, but Google’s October 29th event can’t get here soon enough!
More pictures of the front, back, and profile:

[News] Nexus 4 device appears for sale on UK retailer website

Carphone Warehouse, a UK retailer, apparently knows something we Yanks here Stateside don’t.  That being the Nexus 4 from LG will be available for sale through them on October 30th, a day after the Google Event on October 29th.  The website showed the phone and link, only to have it subsequently removed, presumably from all the attention.  A screen grab of the site (and phone details) appears below:

Hopefully the site’s removal of the link is because they needed to fix info from one of the rumors we’ve heard about this phone – that it will come with only 8GB of internal storage, with no SD card expansion.  And you can get it an any color you want, as long as its black.  While the design of the device is strikingly similar from the front to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the internals are updated and the devices rear cover plate has a unique tiled look to it.  Since this will most likely NOT be offered on Verizon (no LTE capability is currently reported) will anyone out there on a GSM provider be looking at this as their next phone?

*Source:  Engadget

[News] Best Buy cutting Galaxy S3 price for 1-day only sale

Samsung Galaxy S3

As most of you have probably heard already, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is one of (if not the) best Android flagship phones on the market right now.  Starting and ending tomorrow, October 26, 2012, Best Buy’s retail stores are offering this device at $100 off its normal price of $199.99, making it a steal of a deal at $99.99.  Now a new 2 year agreement is required to get this price, but it work for 3 major carriers: Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.

If you’re considering picking up a new Android device anytime soon, and this one is on your list, head on over to Best Buy early tomorrow and check it out.  Supplies are most likely limited to what they have on hand, so the early bird will get the worm.  If the worm was a 4.8 inch display Samsung smartphone.

*Source: Droid-Life