MediaFile

Tech wrap: Facebook friends Google exec

The Facebook logo is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry RogeFacebook signaled an increased interest in deals, poaching a member of Google’s corporate development team to lead its fledgling merger and acquisition efforts and underscoring the rivalry between the social networking company and the search engine giant.

AOL hired Twitter co-founder Biz Stone as a strategic adviser for social impact. Its newest addition, The Huffington Post, also announced several hires. AOL announced last week that it was firing 20 percent of its global workforce and editor in chief for AOL’s Engadget Joshua Topolsky quit over the weekend. Still unclear was the fate of AOL freelancers.

Sales of Apple’s iPad 2 eclipsed that of its predecessor on its debut weekend, with around 1 million units being gobbled up. One analyst sees the iPad 2′s early success as a warning sign of a global tablet bubble, where supply could outpace demand for tablets by about 36 percent. While a glut might not make tablet makers happy, consumers aren’t likely to complain about the price drops that could result.

Did your iPhone wake you up on time this morning? Daylight saving time went into effect on Sunday in the U.S., but at least one person was late for work on Monday after his iPhone, having updated to DST on Sunday, reverted back to standard time on Monday, writes Engadget’s Sean Hollister.

GigaOM’s Ryan Kim thinks the deal between Angry Birds developer Rivo and Amazon.com to offer the sequel to the hugely popular game exclusively at the online retailer’s Android app store shows Amazon.com is serious about supporting the smartphone platform and highlights the importance of third-party app stores.

Apple’s Steve Jobs unveils new iPad with a clenched fist and jabs aplenty

JobsIpad2Steve Jobs may be on medical leave from Apple, but he was brimming with vigor, and seemingly itching for a fight, when he took the stage to unveil the new iPad 2 on Wednesday.

Clad in his customary turtleneck and blue jeans, Jobs came out swinging. His target: the slew of “copycat” tablet PCs that are beginning to flood the market, impudently challenging his beloved iPad.

The competition was “flummoxed,” by the iPad, Jobs declared, and they have proven unable to match his creation’s low price or desirability.

from Environment Forum:

Green apps that can save you money

Media members try out the new "iPad" during the launch of Apple's new tablet computing device in San Francisco, California, January 27, 2010. REUTERS/Kimberly White

As the market for applications running on mobile devices like Apple’s iPad and iPhone grows, so do ways to save you money and cut your carbon emissions.

Among them is Avego, a ride-sharing app for the iPhone that lets you offer vacant seats in your car to others and search for free seats if you’re car-less, all in real time. You receive updates on how far away your ride is, so you don’t have to wait around. And it even calculates how much gas-money each passenger should pay. Users create a publicly viewable Avego profile and their reputation can be rated by other members. Paul Smith of Triple Pundit calls the service “brilliant” and an example of “what can be done to reduce traffic, right now, at no additional cost and disruption to our current transportation infrastructure”.

3rdWhaleMobile’s FindGreen app gives GPS-equipped Android smartphones, BlackBerry, and iPhone owners a guide to local retailers and services listed in GenGreen’s Green Business Directory. TechCrunch's Matylda Czarnecka thought the iPhone version was one of the "top ten apps to make you more green". But some users in Google's Android Marketplace complain of few or no listings in their area.

Nokia and Microsoft? Just maybe

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (left) and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer address the Senior Leadership Event before they announce plans for a broad strategic partnership to build a new global mobile ecosystem . Nokia and Microsoft plan to form a broad strategic partnership that would use their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new global mobile ecosystem.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (left) and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Credit: HO

Before there were smartphones Nokia made smart phones. Sleek. Colorful. Attractive. Sporting a distinctive, trademarked ring that, because there are so many Nokia handsets in the world, may actually be heard 20,000 times a second.

Nokia’s phones never made a huge splash in the United States, but worldwide they are to this day the market leader with some 300 million in use. In Q4 of last year, Nokia’s flagship Symbian mobile phone operating system boasted more than a third of the world’s market share. At nearly 37 percent, that was 10 percent more than the range of devices running Google’s Android, and more than Apple’s iPhone and Rim’s Blackberry combined.

But Nokia is losing, by leaps and bounds. The handwriting is on the wall. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who joined the company only last September, minced no words last Wednesday when he said the company was standing on a “burning platform.”

Closer look at Google’s Honeycomb

Google stole the show from Verizon at the opening keynote at CES, showing off its new Honeycomb software, the first version of the Android operating system specifically designed for tablets.

Android developer Mike Cleron wowed a packed hall with a quick spin around its features, including a new-look home screen, pixel buttons, multitasking, smooth video and an eye-catching 3-D mapping tool that lets you ’tilt’ the view to get a better idea of what you are looking at.

Google has posted a video of the new system in action on YouTube. YouTube Preview Image

The world wants cheap but stylish phones. Can Android deliver both?

KOREA/Cheap and stylish are more likely to be antonyms when describing mobile phones. But the global market will reward a smartphone that can deliver on both fronts, a goal that Android phones seem best suited to reaching.

That is one conclusion to be drawn from a survey from Nielsen on mobile phone usage by 15-24 year olds around the world. The survey had some interesting insights, such as Italy’s position as the market with the highest percentage of young people owning a smartphone (47%). The U.S. was the only major market surveyed where smartphone owners were more likely to be female (55%) than male (45%).

Only one in six smartphones owned by people in the age group surveyed were purchased by parents, so the results can help shed light on what features appeal the most to consumers under 25. For the most part, those features varied by country.

GlobalMedia-Baseball exec frustrated, but shies off lecturing Jobs

iphone1One of Major League Baseball’s top executives may not think Apple’s iTunes app store is particularly user friendly, but he’s not about to offer advice to the hottest technology executive on the planet.
    
Robert Bowman, the head of MLB Advanced Media, the league’s Internet and digital business, loves apps. He wants his sport’s games and other content to be on every wireless device out there and think apps will begin to shape how websites are designed. 
    
“We actually think it’s going to invade the website. We think people like apps,” he said at the Reuters Global Media Summit. “They’re easy to understand. They’re compartmentalized. It’s a quick way to get information.”
    
That said, the Apple and Google app stores leave a lot to be desired, Bowman said.
    
“The app stores are not well laid out. The app stores are very hard to figure out. Even Apple … they do a great job, but they’re hard to understand. The Android app store is very hard to understand, so it’s hard for people to find the content.”
 
But, when asked what he would do to improve Apple’s app store, Bowman demurred.
    
“I don’t think I’m going to get very far giving Steve Jobs advice,” he said of Apple’s renowned CEO. “He’s done pretty damn well not listening to me for the first 57 years of his life and so I’m just going to continue to let him not listen to me.”
    
Bowman acknowledged that the Android app store leaves him “a little bit more frustrated.”
    
However, the baseball executive is not alone is finding the app stores frustrating.
    
Despite charging $14.99 a pop, baseball has sold nearly 600,000 apps this year between the Apple and Android platforms, he said.
    
Bowman also dismissed questions about the future of set-top boxes or big TVs, saying both are not going anywhere.
    
“I don’t think there’s any history of media dying,” he said. “I still listen to radio in my car.
 
“The big TVs aren’t going to go anywhere. It’s like the automobile,” Bowman added. “We’re a country that likes big TVs. 

(Reuters photo)

The great iPhone-Android battle that isn’t

The great horse race taking place between Apple’s iPhone and the Google-designed Android phones makes for great drama. So much so that it can be easy to overstate how significant this rivalry is.

Case in point: Nielsen released a survey that asked people considering buying a smartphone in the coming year which mobile operating system they “most desired” on a new phone. 30 percent said they’d most desire an iPhone, while 28 percent preferred an Android phone.

The headline on Nielsen’s summary of the survey read, “U.S. smartphone battle heats up”—which is dramatic enough but not necessarily accurate. More telling was another statistic in the survey: Only 30 percent of U.S. mobile phones are smartphones. The rest are those not-so-smart feature phones.

Google and the last days of the credit card

The future is no longer in plastic.

Or such was the message from Eric Schmidt when he was talking at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Credit cards are about to become as obsolete as the Sony Walkman in the age of the iPod. Replacing them will be the smartphone – Android phones in particular.

Next week, Google will release a new version of its Android mobile operating system software, called Gingerbread. Gingerbread will support near-field communication, a technology that marries allows the smartphone to act like a credit card. The technology relies on a chip with a range of several inches that allows wireless payment transactions much more simply and, according to Schmidt, securely than a standard credit card.

The thing with near-field communication is, the whole notion of location takes on a new meaning. Now I can just tap I don’t have to take a picture I don’t have to scan a barcode… We think the overall mobile market which is already exited about these payment systems, will benefit from having this because it’s a secure element that is very hard to steal. And the theory is you can take these mobile devices and walk into a store and it will be able to figure out where you are with your permission. Effectively to bump for everything. And eventually it will replace your credit cards.

New Yahoo app to challenge Apple FaceTime on iPhone

yahoovideochatApple has based a great deal of its iPhone 4 marketing blitz around its so-called FaceTime video calling technology.

But Yahoo is about to challenge Apple for the mobile video calling crown, with plans to brings video chat to iPhones and Android-based phones via its popular Yahoo Messenger instant messaging service.

During a briefing with Reuters on Thursday, David Katz, Yahoo’s VP of Mobile for the Americas region, let it slip that the company will soon be offering mobile app versions of Yahoo Messenger with built-in video calling capabilities.