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Windows 8: Microsoft’s bet into the computing future

Posted in Mobile Computing, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 30, 2011

What do we make about Windows 8, Microsoft’s biggest Windows refresh since Windows 95. Back then Computers cost a fortune and now… Now, Microsoft wants to update Windows for a consumer technology world that is obsessed with online services and touch-centric devices such as the iPad and Android smartphones.

Here are the 9 features that define the Windows 8 OS, Windows’ bet into the future of computing: Tablets and Smartphones-

• Windows 8 is designed with smartphones and tablets in mind and would run on ARM as well as Intel processors

• It is expected to be designed ground up for the touch interface. Windows 8’s new start screen has large panels that are ideal for touch-screens, but that also can be manipulated by a mouse

• Windows 8 will also have an Apple styled App store

• Windows 8 is expected to drive higher level of service integration between the desktop (Tablet or the smartphone) and Windows online services such as Skydrive, Office 365 and free Office Web Apps

• Expected to support USB 3.0. The USB 3.0 helps with data transfer speeds that are up to 10 times faster than the current USB 2.0 standard, and USB 3.0 also uses less power than its predecessor

• Sports a richer experience Internet Explorer

• HTML and JavaScript will be the primary development language for new Windows 8 apps.

• File management basics such as copy, move, rename, and delete functions, which make up 50 percent of Explorer’s usage in Windows. puts all your basic file management functions into one window instead of having separate windows for each function. This will make it easier and more efficient to handle moving around several large files at once, such as photos and videos.

• Finally from the user perspective, Windows 8 has clubbed the oft repeated actions in file management into intuitive tabs: Home, Share and Views which contextually club actions in and around the browser for more efficient file management, ease of use and intuitive interface usage.

Android Ice-cream Sandwich announced!

Posted in Uncategorized by Manas Ganguly on May 12, 2011

“We want one OS that runs everywhere.” And Android is making a good pace of getting there. So while Gingerbread was a full tablet support one, Google’s latest OS, Icecream Sandwich will be a one stop solution with support for multiple devices like smartphones, tablet PCs and convertible laptops, with just one version. It will have all the features from Google’s earlier operating systems besides a bunch full of newbies. Thus the Ice-cream would not only act as a tie for all screen sizes, those on handsets, tablets, Google TV, and the lot, but that it would make for a much easier world for developers to live in. A single API framework for what may be the easiest Android version to develop for yet. While the version name hasn’t been decided yet (Rumored to be either Android 3.5 or Android 4.0), the best part is that Ice-cream wont have any new hardware requirements. That means it’ll be able to work on older handsets galore! This then is Android’s grand plan to address the issue of platform fragmentation that has been rampant in the OS releases till date. (Read more about Android Platform Fragmentation)

Innovation on the list includes new holographic UI, multitasking UI, launcher, richer widgets, advanced applications, and everything in-between. New components are being added to the Action Bar (the one you see in Honeycomb) that’ll be able to reconfigure themselves to work with whatever space is available to them.

The Android Ice Cream Sandwich is expected to be a step ahead with inbuilt support for 0-click-peer-to-peer Near Field Communications (NFC) sharing along with Augmented Reality facility. The 0-click peer-to-peer NFC sharing allows compatible Android devices to share content (contacts, links, YouTube videos) between the devices by simply placing them in close proximity to each other. No app needs to be run and no buttons need to be clicked – hence the “0-click” moniker.

With 3D being the buzz word today, it is highly expected that the new OS will support it as well. The user interface of the new operating system will be a holographic one, the one which we have seen in movies like Star Trek. Along with that Google plans to do some real hard work with the widgets and has confirmed plans on investing in application framework which in turn will ultimately help the users. This means insulating developers from the differences in all of the different devices Android can be run on, so Google is adding new API to the framework to help all developers out there scale your user interfaces across all the different sized screens and devices toting them.

A new face recognition technology with a 500 frames per second run through will also feature in Ice-cream and will allow better coordination of a video chat/conference session by being able to highlight the speaker over and above the listener. More utilities around this advanced Face-reco app are expected ssooner.

The other “usual suspects”feature round up includes
1. UI inspiration from Honeycomb for Phone form factor.
2. Inherent support for Dual Core processors, built ground up for ARM9 chipsets and other variants.
3. Gaming improvements and optimizations for dual cores.
4. Cloud Music (they hinted that at Google IO 2010)
5. Tight Cloud integration to backup apps, app data, preferences.

And lastly, the Logo for Ice-cream Sandwich is easily the the best amongst all of Android’s OS logos till date, possibly Android Robot included.

Symbian Foundation: Facing Closure

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on October 26, 2010

In an earlier post about a month back, i had written about how the Symbian Foundation was beginning to slide. Call it prescience or call it understatement, the Symbian is crumbling and the rate of developments suggest that it is going down twice as hard and fast.

A recent report carried by the “A Register” paints a very bleak picture of the Symbian. It cites a few major defections by Sony Ericsson and Samsung to be the root cause of insufficient funding for operations. The UK-based Symbian is understood to have received around $7.8m (£5m) from each of its three biggest manufacturer sponsors – Samsung, Sony Erricson, and Nokia – with Fujitsu and others making up the rest. Symbian’s total budget is believed to be in the range of $28m (£18m). Other members include AT&T, NTTDoCoMo, Vodafone, Adobe Systems, Orange, and Visa. However, Samsung this month said it was puling support for Symbian, and would offer no more applications, software support, or handsets. Sony Erricsson has said it doesn’t plan any Symbian products at the moment – although it remains a Foundation member.That has left Nokia the only major company willing to still fund Symbian.

While there is no official statement on which way Symbian is headed, the official release states “The future business strategy for the Symbian Foundation is still under review by the board. As no decisions have been made, we will not be offering further comment,” That is quite ominous by itself.

The other strong set back to Symbian has been the defection of CEO Lee Williams and his replacement by the CFO Tim Holbrow. According to rumours Holbrow has been appointed to wind down operations and that Foundation employees are being offered redundancy packages.

A few days back, I had featured a post on the rise of Android to No 2 spot on the OS charts. However, the way Symbian seems to be disintegrating, Android could well be up at No 1 by 2011 mid.

Active TV through the Android OS

Posted in New Technologies, Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on April 10, 2010

So how would you expect an Android TV to be different than the IPTVs and Satellite televisions of today? The answer is consumer engagement!

Scandinavia, the first fully interactive Full LED –HD OLED internet TV powered by Android was launched at IFA Berlin by Sweden’s People of Lava in sizes 42”,47” and 55”. Starting this summer selected early users will be able purchase and evaluate the Scandinavia TV through a beta-test program and discussions are already ongoing with potential future partners and developers for content and media. The innovation is seen as the fusion of the Android smartphone capabilities and a full HD LED TV.

So coming back to the first question: Android TV versus IPTV and other Satellite televisions. While Web TV is the future in making, simply replacing the laptop with a TVV screen is not adding any value to the proposition. Researches have pointed out to the fact of multitasking during the (passive) TV experience. The new TV experience is dynamic, reciprocal and certainly not passive, but combining the laptop and TV in media consumption without the burdens/difficulties of usage, can be a relevant middle-way to change TV behavior without being too disruptive.

Thus the People of Lava proclaim: “Watch TV, chat with your friends, play You-Tube clips, surf the net. This becomes a (dynamic) window to the world.”

Android platform and internet capabilities provide a wide range of functionalities, including Android TV applications such as YouTube, Google Maps, Weather, Time, Calendar, and Internet Browser. Users can download Apps, both free and from coming the Android marketplace and the People of Lava App-store. The Android TV provides access to social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and let you send email as well. It allows the user to surf the net, plan trips with Google Maps, It also has USB connections to use external storage and other features. From an application point of view, the Android TV will be interesting if the portfolio of applications is broad. Imagine TV viewing getting active with a thriving community of developers and App makers adding value to the whole equation.

Active TV viewing is here….

Android: Addressing platform fragmentation

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on April 2, 2010

In an earlier post, i had discussed about the fragmentation of the “open” Android platform.The fact that Android gave the ODM the choice of customizing the platform was one of the USPs of Android. However, this then causes the open platform to fragment as ODMs dig deep into parts of the operating system. So then Google Android starts branching out like the Moto Blur or the HTC Sense. This post speaks about Google’s efforts to stem and hold the fragmentation of the Android.

There have been a spate of Android handsets running as many as four different versions of the operating system in the last few months. This complicates life for application developers, who have to either pick a version or two to target with their application or conduct lots of testing to make sure they can run across Android handsets. (That is where the Apple Application store is so hassle free with just one device to contend for). Four separate versions of the Android have been released over the last year –1.5, 1.6, 2.0, and 2.1–as part of Google’s mad rush to improve Android, and it sounds like the company is more satisfied with its recent progress.

Google is supposedly shifting development away from Android’s core to focus on applications and also plans to put more separation between those applications and the core operating system. That means that new applications that arrive along with new operating-system releases could also be downloaded for older phones through the Android Market without having to pass through the handset maker or carrier’s approval process.Google will start to make this happen during the next release of Android codenamed Froyo and take it through to the next release of Android, codenamed Gingerbread

The plan makes sense on several levels: having worked frantically to catch up to the iPhone, Google is in much better competitive shape with the 2.1 release and can start prioritizing developer stability over core features. And, of course, giving users a way to obtain those key applications directly from Google falls in line with its long-term strategy of shifting control from carriers and handset makers to software providers.

Worldwide Q2, 09 SmartPhone and Devices Market Shares: Gartner

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on August 14, 2009

Inventory Destocking Continues with 13.9 Million Units Shed by the Channel

Worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 286.1 million units in the second quarter of 2009, a 6.1 per cent decrease from the second quarter of 2008, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales surpassed 40 million units, a 27 per cent increase from the same period last year, representing the fastest-growing segment of the mobile-devices market (see Table 2).

Gartner Findings

  1. Despite the challenging market, some devices sold well as consumers who would usually have purchased standard midrange devices either cut back to less expensive handsets or moved up the range to get more features for their money
  2. Touch-screen and qwerty devices remained a major driver for replacement sales and benefited manufacturers with strong, touch-focused mid-tier devices.
  3. The decline in average selling price (ASP) accelerated in the first half of the year and particularly affected manufacturers that focus on mid-tier and low-end devices, where margins are already slim.”
  4. The recession continued to suppress replacement sales in both mature and emerging markets.
  5. The distribution channel has dealt with lower demand and financial pressure by using up 13.9 million units of existing stock before ordering more.
  6. The gap between sell-in to the channel and sell-through to customers will reduce in the second half of 2009 as the channel starts to restock.

Q2 2009 Market Shares

Nokia maintained its leadership position, but its portfolio remained heavily skewed toward low-end devices. Its flagship high-end N97 smartphone met little enthusiasm at its launch in the second quarter of 2009 and has sold just 500,000 units in the channel since it started to ship in June, compared to Apple’s iPhone 3G S, which sold 1 million units in its first weekend.

  • The right high-end product and an increased focus on services and content are vital for Nokia if it wants to both revamp its brand and please investors with a more promising outlook in ASPs and margins.

Samsung and LG both had a very strong second quarter of 2009 with sales of 55 million units and 30.5 million units, respectively. Samsung’s touchscreen devices, qwerty phones and smartphones drove sales in mature markets, and Gartner expects it will continue to gain market share in the second half of 2009 to close the gap with Nokia. Gartner expects LG to keep moving into lower-tier devices to drive growth in emerging markets and be well-positioned to take advantage of China’s 3G rollout as it can deliver good-value-for-money devices.

Motorola’s sales of 15.9 million units were slightly better than expected, but its presence has rapidly concentrated on the Americas, and it has lost most of its share of the Western European market, where it sold fewer than 1 million units in the second quarter of 2009. Most operators and customers will be waiting for Motorola’s new Android-based products planned for the fourth quarter of 2009.

Sony Ericsson’s market share dropped 2.8 percentage points year-on-year in the second quarter of 2009 but its volume dropped 41 per cent. Although the market environment was challenging, Gartner attributes Sony Ericsson’s poor performance to its uncompetitive range of handsets.Sony Ericsson has neglected to exploit key trends such as qwerty products for messaging and e-mail, internet browsing and navigation.

  • If SE wants to build the presence of its three new products announced this quarter in the channel and capture Christmas sales, the products need to come to market early in the fourth quarter of 2009,

Smartphone sales were strong during the second quarter of 2009, with sales of 40.9 million units in line with Gartner’s forecast of 27 per cent year-on-year sales growth for 2009

Given the higher margins, smartphones offer the biggest opportunity for manufacturers. It is the fastest-growing market segment and the most resistant to declining ASPs.

Apple’s expansion into a larger number of countries in the past year has produced a clear effect on sales volumes, as have the recent price adjustments on the 8GB 3G iPhone. Sales of 5.4 million units in the second quarter of 2009 indicated a 509 per cent growth in shipments and helped Apple maintain the No. 3 position in the smartphone market, where it has stayed since the third quarter of 2008. Apple brought its much-anticipated new device — the iPhone 3G S — to market at the end of the second quarter of 2009, but its full potential will only start to show in the sales figures in the second half of 2009.

At the high end of the smartphone market, HTC remained in the No. 4 position behind Apple, where it has been since the third quarter of 2008. It reported lower expectations for the second half of 2009 due to product delays and now expects 2009 revenue to decline by low- to mid-single digits year-on-year, far below its previous outlook of 10 per cent annual growth.

In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Symbian held 51 per cent share, down from 57 per cent a year ago, while RIM and Apple grew their shares year-on-year. Android’s share was just under 2 per cent of the market and more Android-based devices will come to market in the fourth quarter of 2009, intensifying competition in the smartphone OS market, particularly for Symbian and Windows Mobile. Microsoft’s share continued to drop year-on-year to account for 9 per cent of the market in the second quarter of 2009.

  • Microsoft licensees HTC and Samsung continued to add features to their own interfaces, on top of Windows Mobile, to create more competitive products and make up for the usability constraints of the Microsoft platform.

This quarter also saw the debut of the long-awaited Palm Pre based on the new web operating system.

  • This device attracted a lot of media attention but showed mixed results at the cash register as sales only reached 205,000 units. Palm currently ranks tenth in the smartphone market and Gartner remains concerned about its ability to gain traction outside the US market, where its brand is less strong.

For the remainder of 2009, manufacturers must offer products with the features that consumers and operators are demanding most strongly — like touchscreens, focus on user interfaces and application/content ecosystems — and work hard to keep operators loyal.Competition is expected to intensify in the second half of 2009. Mobile operators are likely to drive competition among manufacturers as they start selling e-book readers and mini-notebooks from other manufacturers to foster mobile broadband subscriptions. Operators are also starting to subsidise e-book readers and mini notebooks on contract and this means that there will be less subsidy available to drive sales of mobile phones and smartphones. In turn, operators will demand lower prices from phone manufacturers, which will be under even more pressure to deliver strong feature sets at the lowest possible price.




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