In what is expected to be the final hardware presentation from the company before
joining the Microsoft family, Nokia showed exactly who they are and, more importantly, who they will be after the transition. At their Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi, Nokia showed off 6 new devices while still focusing on the software that will be their future.
We saw 3 new
Asha phones, 2 Lumia phones and the first Lumia tablet. While Nokia might have wanted us to focus on their new software offerings, the hardware certainly stole the stage.
Asha 500, 502, 503The Asha series of handsets are designed specifically for emerging markets. Priced to move, the new additions to the Asha family feature a truly unique design. There is really no better way to describe the look than that of an iPod Touch in its retail packaging, only slimmer. A clear acrylic box surrounds the incredibly colorful body, adding dimensions to the appearance, but not necessarily comfort.
As Nokia has become synonymous with over the past 2 years, these handsets are available in a wide range of Nokia colors: yellow, red, green, white, blue and black. The new
500 features a 2.8" screen with 2MP camera, while the 502 and 503 both feature a 3" screen and 5MP cameras. All 3 models also offer both a single and a dual SIM option, specifically for people who change services by region or use one service for voice and another for data.
Lumia 1520One of Nokia's worst kept secrets, the Lumia 1520 is the first full-HD Windows Phone, thanks to the GDR3 Windows Phone update adding 1080p capability. Sporting the first 6" screen on a Windows Phone, this device is pretty huge and the new WinPho takes full advantage of the extra real estate.
Adding a third column of live tiles, the Lumia 1520 allows for 6 units of width and 11 units of height worth of live tile. If all of your live tiles were small, you could access 66 individual tiles, as well as their individual notifications, from a single screen. Of course, customizing a screen like that would make it feel a little like Times Square, but the idea that you could is pretty exciting.
Following on the heels of the Lumia 1020, the 1520 has a renewed focus on photography, sporting a 20MP camera with ZEISS lens, making for great photos without the bulk of the larger lens on the 1020. Of course, it isn't the quality of the 1020, but you have to give something up in order to get a thinner handset. It also includes 32GB of internal storage, plus an additional 7GB of SkyDrive storage and MicroSD storage up to 64GB additional.
Lumia 1320This one came as a bit of a surprise to me, mostly because I had little to no leaked information indicating it was coming. The Lumia 1320 is the cousin of the 1520, also featuring a 6" screen. That is, however, about where the similarities stop.
The screen, while being 6", is only 720p, meaning less clarity at the same physical size. It also features a 5MP camera vs the 20MP on the 1520 and also gives up the ZEISS lens. With a smaller camera comes smaller storage capacity, coming in at only 8GB, but still supporting 64GB MicroSD and adding 7GB of SkyDrive.
The 1320 also sacrifices performance at its lesser price-point. While the 1520 sports a quad-core 2.2GHz processor, the 1320 comes with only a dual-core 1.7GHz processor. The important thing to note here is that the 1520 has a quad-core processor, something that is also a new addition to the Windows Phone family.
Lumia 2520If the 1520 wasn't the worst kept secret inside of Nokia, then that award goes to the Lumia 2520. This 10.1" Windows RT 8.1 tablet is a first in family for Nokia. While they have been known for wireless phones for many years, this is the company's first, and probably last under that name, attempt at a tablet.
The device will look very familiar to Nokia fans - it looks much like a very large Lumia device. I suppose if this event was about the Lumia family growing, you can't grow it much larger than a 10.1" screen. Sporting the same quad-core 2.2GHZ processor as its smaller cousin, the Lumia 1520, the 2520 still differentiates itself from the rest of the Lumia family, as well as its soon-to-be-family, the Surface 2.
Being the first tablet in the family, it is the first to offer a keyboard option. Nokia seems to have learned from the demands on Microsoft, as the Nokia Power Keyboard adds up to 5 extra hours of power, plus an additional 2 USB ports for extended connectivity. Like the Surface, however, it adds a full keyboard and a trackpad, making it a full computer as well as tablet.
Despite being a Windows RT device with a 10.1" multi-touch screen, the Lumia 2520 stands out from the Microsoft Surface 2 by including the capability for 4G LTE connectivity. Being part of the Lumia family would have been odd without a cellular data option, so it is good that there is an RT device out there offering it.
Tesla is in the news again this week, and this time it's not for the car that caught on fire. The company has partnered up with AT&T to take connectivity to the next level.
AT&T's SVP of emerging tech, Chris Penrose, announced at GigaOM Mobilize that AT&T services will be available in a Tesla. AT&T will be powering all two-way communications for the vehicle, along with access to the engine's diagnostics and tweaks, and all information and entertainment apps and features. The car will then also be able to actively monitor a driver's habits, speed and other driving information you'd usually only find on a small screen in a car.
On stage, he said,
We believe that our ability to bring total solutions into the space is something that is being demanded, and something that we can excel and differentiate. Not just being a connectivity partner.
For this to work, the Tesla will have to have a built-in modem installed, as well as an AT&T SIM card, which will allow the vehicle to connect to AT&T's towers. The connection will also allow the car to have access to real-time traffic data and the navigation system can adapt to the data and change routes on-the-fly. Active monitoring of the transmission, brake system, engine and more can all take place, letting the driver know the instant the car should be taken into the shop. The same software can also be used to track down the car if it's stolen. Obviously the possibilities are almost endless.
Tesla is already working with the
Qi Wireless Power Consortium to wirelessly charge the vehicle and now, with the addition of AT&T, Teslas are now wirelessly connected to all the information in the world, literally. This is a great step for all types of communication in vehicles, though, not just for Tesla and AT&T. If this ends up working extremely well, we can probably see a Verizon Wireless partnership in the near future. Perhaps they'd like to power Ford cars that already come loaded with a feature-rich Sync by Microsoft system. But until that happens, I'll just be waiting for my phone call from Tesla extending an invitation for me to drive one of these cars.
In the past, we've talked about the
flurry of problems Apple has had with iPhone launches but nobody else seems to talk about. Fortunately, we're here to break the conformity barrier, and with the iPhone 5s and 5c launches, we covered the sensor issues of the 5s and sales failure of the 5c. This week it continues, as it's been reported that Apple has requested a cut in production on the iPhone 5c.
Before the phone even came out, we predicted the phone would be a failure, if not for anything else than Apple bashing Samsung for using plastic, claiming it makes Samsung phones appear "cheap." Well, keeping with the "cheap" moniker, the 5c was apparently no different and the citizens of Appledom did not want to associate with a lesser model of the newer iPhone. For the final three months of the year, Apple has asked one of the company's largest manufacturers, Pegatron Corp, to raise the production of the 5s while sharply cutting production of the 5c.
Pegatron has reported that orders for the iPhone 5c have been cut by more than 20 percent in the past two weeks, which is huge for a company that bolstered this phone as a premium, yet affordable option. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co is another assembly plant for the 5c, and that group has seen orders drop by over
30 percent in the same couple of weeks. However two executives from the company also confirmed that Apple has raised orders for the 5s for the fourth quarter. Analyst Michael Walkley has estimated that sales for the 5s could be up to 2.5 times more than the 5c.
Morningstar analyst Brian Colello even said that Apple's marketing towards emerging markets would have been great, if the iPhone 5c wasn't so expensive.
We're not especially concerned with 5C order cuts at this point because they appear to be offset by strong demand and increased production for the 5S. As far as emerging markets, the 5C is simply not cheap enough to gain traction with customers that can buy $150 Android devices.
As we predicted, the fact that the phone is not much different than the iPhone 5 would prevent adopters from switching over to the 5c, with some owners only being ten to twelve months into their contract. That, on top of the not-so-cheap price point of $649, leaves the Apple iPhone 5c to be but a mockery of a plastic Galaxy S phone trapped in a colorful Lumia shell. Do you disagree? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments section below.
Facebook has made what might seem like a trivial change to their sharing policy, but one that has drawn a lot of fire from various advocacy groups. The change, described by Facebook,
Up until today, for people aged 13 through 17, the initial audience of their first post on Facebook was set to "Friends of Friends" - with the option to change it.
Going forward, when people aged 13 through 17 sign up for an account on Facebook, the initial audience of their first post will be set to a narrower audience of "Friends.
Teens are among the savviest people using social media, and whether it comes to civic engagement, activism, or their thoughts on a new movie, they want to be heard. So, starting today, people aged 13 through 17 will also have the choice to post publicly on Facebook.
Now, Facebook's policy about preventing teens from posting publicly has been one of the few things that has gotten the company praise in the security realm. Obviously, preventing teens' posts from being seen publicly is important in preventing bullies and sexual predators from interacting with their posts. Obviously, the responses have been varied.
We'll start with the positive. Many people are excited that the default setting has been changed from "Friends of Friends" to "Friends," which makes sense to me. This allows all posts to default to only those you choose, again helping to prevent bullying.
The ability to post publicly, however, is not being received as well. There are a number of reasons for the response. First is the security issues, which we can all understand. Central Florida has recently been going through the suicide of a 12-year-old girl over cyber bullying by 2 young girls, 12 and 14. With a recent arrest in the case, it is certainly a strange time to make this change, but the problem has become so common, no time would work.
On the other hand, another issue at hand is the purpose for the change. Facebook explains it in the above quote as a way for teens express themselves on topics of importance. But, why does Facebook care about the intended audience for a teen's views? Because, if a post is public, it can be used in Facebook marketing.
Getting everyone to share everything that ever happens to them is very profitable for Facebook. Marketing to the highly impressionable teen crowd could be even more profitable for Facebook, but they have to be able to provide information to their advertisers to do so. Allowing teens to post publicly gives them the ability to do just that.
Emily Bazelon, author of
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy said,
They're hitting kids from a neurological weak spot. Kids don't have the same kind of impulse control that adults do.
That is exactly what advertisers are hoping for. Since Facebook is known for controversial privacy policies and not reversing decisions, all we can do is live in this new world. Maybe this will be the thing that starts the member exodus.
One of the most anticipated titles announced at E3 was
Watch Dogs. Every two weeks or so, the developers at Ubisoft have leaked a bit more information to the masses, including a website, real-time gameplay clips, trailers and more. It felt like the holiday season could have been saved from the unimpressive new consoles with a great title like this. Unfortunately, Watch Dogs will now be pushed back to the first quarter of 2014.
Citing unexpected bumps in the road and some minor setbacks, the
Watch Dogs team said that "In a world of mega-blockbusters we have come to the conclusion that the team needed more time to realize the game's potential. We consider it to be a long term pillar of our future performance, alongside the likes of Assassin's Creed and Far Cry."
That's a pretty big statement for a brand new franchise. The team might have felt like the game was not going to be ready for a while, but was putting off the official message until they knew for sure that it wasn't going to happen in time for holiday season and the new console launches.
Here's the message directly from Ubisoft.
Our ambition from the start with Watch Dogs has been to deliver something that embodies what we wanted to see in the next-generation of gaming. It is with this in mind that we've made the tough decision to delay the release until spring 2014.
We know a lot of you are probably wondering: Why now? We struggled with whether we would delay the game. But from the beginning, we have adopted the attitude that we will not compromise on quality. As we got closer to release, as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune each detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the way you respond on the web, at events, press conferences and other opportunities we have to interact. Your passion keeps us motivated.
We can't wait to see you in Chicago next spring. We are confident you'll love this game as much as we love working on it.
Ubisoft's Communications Manager, Gary Steinman, has been very active and upfront about the decision in the blog this week. Fans have been asking questions and he's been answering. Steinman also reiterating the points above by replying directly to a user with, "The team has been working really hard to deliver a really ambitious game within the original timeframe. We tested the game until the very last minute in order to make the most informed decision."
Obviously a lot of disgruntled fans have come out of the woodwork to berate and demean the product, claiming that many have pre-ordered the game and now that Ubisoft has the consumers' money, the game won't come out. However, in the real world, things like push-backs and delays happen all the time. On the other side of it, the game could've been released for the holidays, most likely it would have been buggy or broken, and fans would've complained there, too. Luckily, Steinman and the Ubisoft team have not given in to the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" fans and have stuck to the spring 2014 timeline. Hopefully we'll see some more news leading up to the new release date, including some notes on what was refined or fixed. This should at least appease the fan who is just upset that he or she can't play potentially the greatest new IP to hit a next-gen console since