Archives for posts with tag: HP

It was a hell of a week in the mobile world.

Google + Motorola = ?

Google announced the purchase of Motorola Mobility for a whopping $12.5 billion and now finds themselves in the hardware business. Ironic given HP’s announcement in the same week declaring that they were getting out of hardware. Google’s story to the press is primarily about patents. They have been priming the pump four a couple weeks by making public statements to the effect that Apple is choosing to litigate, not innovate.

While valuable, you can be fairly sure that the acquisition is about more than just patents. It’s generally agreed that the Android user experience is not as good as Apple’s. Much of that has to do with the concessions Google must make to carriers and manufacturers and to the lack of control Google has in what happens to their OS once it leaves the Google firewall. My guess is that Google realizes they need to control the end-to-end user experience in order to make devices that are more competitive with Apple on the engagement front. While there are a lot of Android devices being sold, those users aren’t as active in consuming apps and data as users on iOS devices. A more seamless user experience may be the key to getting Android users more engaged. After all, Google is in this game to increase traffic to its cash cow, advertising.

RIP TouchPad, Pre and PC Says HP

Post-PC era indeed. Once again, Steve Jobs has proven prescient when it comes the direction of technology markets. Perhaps that’s because Apple pretty much controls technology markets. Just a couple months ago at WWDC 11, he was demoting the PC to just another device and once again declaring this the post-PC era (first declared in June 2010).

This week, HP helped make Jobs’ pronouncements a reality. In a somewhat shocking move, HP announced that it was getting out of the hardware business entirely and would now focus on services. A casualty of the change were the TouchPad and Pre devices built to run the recently acquired WebOS mobile operating system.  As of now there are no devices being manufactured to run WebOS, but if you hurry you might be able to get a really great deal on the devices that remain on the market.

In response to the announcement, Microsoft is trying to get WebOS developers to switch to WP7 by offering them free phones. My guess is they will just get tech savvy users looking to score a free phone.

What happens to WebOS remains to be seen. While most presumed WebOS was dead, HP says it just isn’t so. But what will they do with WebOS? Put it in printers (yawn)? Hang on to Palm for the patents? License the OS to other manufacturers like Samsung and HTC?

Skype Buys GroupMe Messaging Startup

Skype was busy this weekend. They bought GroupMe for an estimated $85 million. GroupMe is a group messaging service built on top of the Twilio platform. It allows users to quickly spin up groups by dynamically assigning them phone numbers and allowing them to communicate by SMS or the GroupMe app. That means it works even if you don’t download the app and even if your friends or co-workers don’t have a smartphone. It’s a great service for communicating with teams or groups of friends. I used it a ton at the last SXSW. It seems like a logical fit for Skype who, like everyone else in the tech industry, sees their future firmly planted in mobile devices.

PayPal Acquires Zong

PayPal has definitely been benefitting from the mobile explosion and is now planning to extend their mobile payment services to include Zong, a company I had never heard of until yesterday. Zong reduces the friction of making payments online by saving users the trouble of entering all their credit card and contact information when ordering products. Instead, Zong just sends an approval code to the user’s mobile device. Pretty clever.

Nokia and Microsoft

Definitely the biggest story of the last week was Nokia. Following new CEO Stephen Elop’s burning platform memo to employees, the company sealed a deal with Microsoft to drop their own smartphone OS efforts in favor of Windows Phone 7. This is a huge coup for Microsoft who can now ensure that there will be a lot of phones shipping Windows Phone 7 across the globe. IE9 mobile can’t come fast enough!

RIM May Run Android Apps

RIM’s Playbook tablet device has yet to be released, but it looks like they are already concerned about having enough of a developer community for the Flash-based UI. According to Bloomberg, RIM is planning to have Android apps run on the Playbook. Building apps for Blackberry has never been easy and many of the top apps for Blackberry such as Facebook and Twitter were actually developed by RIM. Having access to the much larger and more robust Android library seems like it could be a good move for RIM even if it is effectively an admission that there may not be much interest in developing native apps for the device. Interestingly, the article makes no mention of Honeycomb, the tablet-optimized version of Android due out soon.

HP Announces One Tablet, Two Phones

This week HP held a fancy press event, a-la Apple, to announce two new smartphones and a promising new tablet, all powered by webOS. The most interesting product in the lineup is the tablet, dubbed the TouchPad by HP. From PC Mag:

The 9.7-inch TouchPad includes a 1,024-by-768 capacitive display. It will run a 1.2-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and comes with a 1.3-megapixel webcam that supports video calls, Beats Audio technology, and stereo speakers.

From a user experience perspective, the TouchPad looks to be the best tablet released since iPad and I’m actually excited to get my hands on one to see how it performs. The big question is whether or not HP can get developers to build apps for their platform. Fortunately, webOS runs WebKit meaning that Web-based apps built for tablet devices should work on webOS as well. HP did not provide a specific release date or a price, but rumor has it that the TouchPad will be priced at about $699.

Apple Planning to Release Smaller, Cheaper iPhone (WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple plans to release an inexpensive version of the iPhone. Confusingly, they say it is about 1/2 the size of the iPhone 4. Hard to know if that means a smaller screen, thinner phone, or both. If the screen were half the size, I have a hard time believing it will run any of the existing iPhone apps and I doubt they will introduce a third form factor to build for. But who knows?

WSJ also says that Apple is considering making Mobile Me free and moving storage and sync into the cloud. I, for one, would love to be able to fire up my next iPhone or iPad without having to plug it into my Mac. Google has a significant advantage when it comes to cloud storage and sync right now. More details from WSJ:

The person who saw the prototype of the new iPhone said the device was significantly lighter than the iPhone 4 and had an edge-to-edge screen that could be manipulated by touch, as well as a virtual keyboard and voice-based navigation.

The edge-to-edge screen has me wondering if Apple will eliminate the home button as has been speculated after the introduction of new 4- and 5-finger gestures.

HP and Adobe have been making some noise today in the tablet space. They’ve been careful to point out that the HP device offers users “the full Web” by which they mean Flash and AIR. In the screenshot below, we see the Slate running Pandora on the AIR platform.

HP Slate

HP Windows 7 Slate running Pandora

What’s striking to me is the amount of complexity crammed into the screen. App windows, backgrounds, toolbars, floating notifications, menus, files and folders. In other words, it’s Windows 7. Contrast this with the iPad, below.

iPad

iPad running iTunes

The iPad becomes a single purpose device when an app is launched. There’s very little chrome and nothing extraneous to separate you from your content. In other words, mono-tasking at it’s finest.

I’m sure HP will sell a few of these Slate devices, provided the price is well below $1000, but they really aren’t even in the game if they haven’t yet understood the importance of simplicity on a tablet device. Windows 7 is simply not well suited for tablet devices.

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