Ronnie05's Blog

Google Chrome, Cloud and the new laptops

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on January 22, 2011

Google has been mulling as to how it extends the Chrome browser into a full operating system. A month back, Chrome started shipping a first run of test units so that developers, reporters and analysts could begin to evaluate Google’s efforts. Chrome is part of one of Google’s efforts to develop an operating system for laptops that does just about everything inside a browser window. To put it the other way around the computing experience shifts into the browser and the OS shifts the clouds. Netbooks using the Chrome will not require large 160 GB hard drives since all the OS functionalities and the data is moved into the cloud.

The idea of network computers that deliver all their functionality from somewhere other than the hard drive has been around for more than a decade. Sun and Oracle tried to jump start the market, but it is the power of the clouds, Google and HTML5 which would make this network computing OS a reality. The question is whether Google has created a new environment that will challenge more traditional PC operating systems such as Mac OS and Windows, or whether Chrome will be the latest challenger that ends up with niche success at best.

Booting Chrome OS takes about 15 seconds, and resuming from sleep takes about a second. (We have Apple’s latest MacBookAir performing the same trick with élan)

The magic of HTML5 means there’s a plethora of apps in Google’s Chrome store that work well.
However, its the simplicity of Chrome OS that could make it powerful. Imagine logging on to any computer in the world with your Google account and seeing exactly your own home-screen. This kind of a computing experience has a lot of appeal.
Google is clearly envisioning a future where more and more value for more and more users can be delivered via the Web in a way that makes it all easier to use and manage. While, Chrome OS notebooks aren’t going to take over the market anytime soon, but this platform is going to push things forward as businesses look to simplify the computing platforms they support. The trend that Chrome OS represents will only accelerate as more HTML5 apps deliver richer experiences over time.

Blackberry: Past Perfect, Present Tense, Future Unsure (Part II)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on January 22, 2011

While the earlier post, was a study in factors that led to the slide in BB, this post examines the efforts made by BB towards a more consumer centric product approach.

While Torch was BB’s best effort till date at consumers, BB’s consumer technology compares poorly to other companies’ end-user-focused devices. RIM’s application marketplace trails Android and iOS by several orders of magnitude, and the overall consumer experience is far less polished than the competition.

RIM must find ways to evolve its platform to be more competitive with changing user needs. While recent acquisitions show that RIM is slowly picking up some of the parts that it needs, such as a new kernel and better Web technology, it will need to accelerate the process of integrating those features into a new operating system — as well as a more coherent marketing campaign to better explain RIM’s offerings. To that extent, the QNX OS that BB has introduced in its Playbook tablet is somewhat at par with the expectations in the market. It had to be because tablets are quintessential consumer devices. BB stepping into this space may give the category some shades of enterprise.

Ideally, RIM needs to transition to a new platform entirely rather than attempt to evolve its current offerings. If a modern platform suddenly became available for sale that RIM could use to leverage its core strength, while providing new features, it would be wise to become a bidder. Otherwise, the BlackBerry might become a bit of nostalgia, eclipsed by later entries that were more capable for today’s growing needs. The leaked out features and specs of the 2011 Blackberry, which include the Bold 3 and the Torch 2 have been pretty average on specs and BB 6.0 OS has not really taken the thunder out of the iOS and Android numbers.

Specs: BB Torch 2

Blackberry Storm 3 Spec and Images

Blackberry Storm 3 Spec and Images

Microsoft’s connected Living Room experience

Posted in TV and Digital Entertainment by Manas Ganguly on January 22, 2011

One central console to control content, media and entertainment at home: That has been what the Windows Media Centre along with the Windows Embedded Standard 7 OS is out to deliver to the markets.

Windows Media Centre allows turning TV tuner-equipped PCs into versatile DVRs (digital video recorders) with online program guides, burns some content to DVD, syncs media with various portable devices, and streams recorded content to the Xbox 360 and other Media Extender devices, among other features. That in effect defines the Connected Living Room experience. Inspite of the richness of Windows Media centre, HTPCs (home theater PCs) have been complex, appealing only to hardcore hobbyists. They’ve also been too expensive for service providers to consider supplying them to their customers.

Microsoft has also been lining up its set of partners for the delivery of Connected Living Room experience: Acer (Gateway), Evolve, Haier, Prime Time, and Reycom.

Stating a company release:
These devices work with Microsoft technology such as Windows Phone 7 and Windows Home Server to create a media experience that delivers more than the sum of its parts. By using connected media devices built on Microsoft products together, consumers will be able to merge multimedia content from various sources and locations such as the Internet and broadcast TV, social media portals, and personal libraries of photos, music and videos. All of this content comes together in a centralized entertainment hub that’s accessible by other Windows powered devices throughout the networked home.

The good part of this story is that the experience delivery at this time depends upon the ability of the hardware and the software to do specific things and do them the way they are designed to do. Microsoft has been making embedded software for a long time and they are good at it. Microsoft ported its Media Center software to the latest embedded version of Windows and is giving hardware partners the chance to build a DVR without spending all the big bucks on developing software. The bad news is that embedded also means restrictions, and while some are sure to hack their way to more functionality, it won’t be as easy. The inability to install one’s favorite codec isn’t out of the realm of possibilities, and installing software to automatically skip commercials is almost certainly a no go.

The other good news for Microsoft and this arrangement is that content owners such as Netflix, VUDU, Blockbuster, cable video-on-demand have all been available to embedded devices for some time.

It is an age of embedded devices with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verzion and DirecTV showing their content capabilities across a range of embedded connected devices. So embedded devices and the eco-system that is backing it up doesn’t just mean stability and affordability, it can also mean content.

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