MediaFile

Google steals CES spotlight, and a page from Apple

When it comes to blockbuster product introductions, Apple is king. So it’s not surprising that Google, which is looking to challenge Apple’s iPhone dominance, is stealing a page from the Steve Jobs & Co. playbook. Reuters

Reuters

Google emailed invitations to reporters on Tuesday for “an Android press gathering” that will take place at its Mountain View, California headquarters on Jan 5, as rumours continue to swirl that the company is preparing to release a Google-branded smartphone.

Yes, that’s the same week as the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Sony, Microsoft, Samsung et al will dutifully convene to show off their latest doodads.

Wresting the spotlight away from CES with a better fireworks display is classic Apple: Jobs gave the world its first peek at the iPhone in January 2007 at San Francisco’s Macworld, instantly vaporizing any value in the press releases and preparations of every hapless gadget maker that had trudged to Vegas that week.

And if Google ends up introducing the much-anticipated, Nexus One phone next week, the announcement could suck the oxygen out of all other technology products, as some commentators have noted.

Dell tablet rumored for CES

dellThe latest buzz online is that Dell is planning to unveil a tablet PC, possibly using the gala Consumer Electronics Shows in Las Vegas next month for its debut. The details provided by gadget site Pocket-lint are a little bare, but the technology zeitgeist is tablet-obsessed at the moment, so the rumor is raising plenty of eyebrows.

The device is supposed to sport a 5-inch screen (not exactly tablet-esque dimensions) and run on Google’s Android platform. The report said the gadget will be introduced in the U.K. next year.

Dell declined to comment.

Dell recently announced its entry into the smartphone market with its Mini 3 smartphone in China and Brazil. It has also formed a new business unit to focus on developing mobile and communications devices of “various screen sizes,” including mobile Internet devices (or MIDs), as a spokesman said last week.

Google Chrome OS coming next week…maybe

It’s been four months since Google dropped a bombshell with its announcement that it is getting into the PC operating system game, in a direct challenge to Microsoft and Apple.

Now the world may get the first glimpse of Chrome OS, the PC operating system as envisioned by the folks in Mountain View, California.

According to a report in TechCrunch citing “a reliable source,” a version of the Chrome operating system will be available for public download within a week.

Not the Droid you’re looking for?

After a few weeks of mysterious adverts promising a better alternative to iPhone, Motorola’s $200 Droid phone finally hit the shelves in Verizon wireless stores on Friday. Unsurprisingly, the launch failed to attract anything like the frenzy of an iPhone launch, which had people camping out for days at its peak.

Still, all the advertising, and the positive reviews from bloggers and gadget gurus including David Pogue and Walt Mossberg, did help to lure some customers to Verizon stores.

Tech website Cnet’s Marguerite Reardon said that she found about 100 enthusiasts lining up for Verizon’s special midnight opening in New York under what could hardly be described as balmy weather conditions. This morning, in a follow up story, her headline read “Slow start for the Motorola Droid?”.

Apple iPhone China debut underwhelms some

Apple’s iPhone launched in China last Friday with plenty of fanfare, but the sales numbers so far appear a little light. China Unicom, the iPhone’s carrier in the country, said Tuesday it has signed up 5,000 iPhone subscribers since the launch, below what some analysts were expecting.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster called the China launch a “disappointment.” He was expecting something in the range of 30,000 units. “We believe that eventually China will emerge as a major market for iPhone sales but it could take a year or two to gain meaningful unit traction as it did in the U.S.,” he wrote in a research note Tuesday.

The iPhone is Apple’s biggest growth story, with more than 30 million units sold worldwide since its launch in 2007. China represents a huge market opportunity for Apple, which is starting with about 1,000 places selling the iPhone.

Motorola faces iPhone with Droid army

Verizon Wireless and Motorola have unveiled what could be their best shot yet in the battle against Apple Inc’s iPhone — the long expected Droid. Motorola says Droid is the most technically advanced smartphone out there. Its promises:

    A speedy Cortex A8 ARM Processor and a Texas Instruments OMAP application chip that it says makes the device run 30 percent to 50 percent faster than other smartphones, including iPhone. First dibs on Android 2.0, the newest version of Google’s mobile software. A new free navigation service to battle dedicated GPS makers like Garmin and TomTom. A higher resolution screen that’s better than iPhone

“Once they see the display I think they’ll be hooked,” Motorola Chief Executive Sanjay Jha told Reuters.

Verizon’s Chief Marketing Officer John Stratton promised to spend more money advertising this device than any phone in its history. He said that it could be seen as a ”big risk” for Verizon,  which started working with Motorola a year ago, to bet on a handset maker that had been steadily losing ground.  But he said his company liked working Motorola so much that it plans to sell more Motorola Android phones in 2010.

Microsoft shows off Windows 7 touch-screen features

Microsoft highlighted new multi-touch features on the range of new PCs as it launched Windows 7 in New York on Thursday.

Here’s a clip of a photo managing program, which allows you to sort through snaps and manipulate them manually, and a shot of the new Kindle application from Amazon, which lets people read a book onscreen, if that’s what they want to do.

The Windows 7 launch event was quieter than previous versions, focusing on slick new hardware and consumer-oriented features such as watching TV on the PC, creating home networks, making videos and playing music.

In latest green move, Apple quits U.S. Chamber

Apple, which made news in environmental circles recently with its new approach to environmental accounting, took another high-profile action on climate change Monday when it resigned its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the group’s environmental policies.

Apple became just the latest defection from the business lobbying group. And given that Apple’s every move generates buckets of publicity, the action may serve to thrust the climate change issue into greater focus for the buying public.

Last month three big power utilities — Exelon Corp, PG&E Corp and PNM Resources Inc — said they were leaving the Chamber over its stance on global warming legislation. Nike last week resigned from the board of the Chamber, which has pushed for public hearings to challenge the scientific evidence of manmade climate change.

Did Apple buy mapping company Placebase?

Although the company isn’t saying anything, it appears as if Apple has purchased a small Web mapping service called Placebase.

The loose ends were tied together Wednesday in a Computerworld blog post.  When asked to confirm whether it had indeed purchased the company, an Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Word of the buy cropped up briefly back in July but failed to attract much notice. But Computerworld noted that the LinkedIn pages for both the founder and the CTO of Placebase now show them as Apple employees.

Apple’s new OS off to strong start

Apple’s new Snow Leopard operating system has hit the ground running, according to research data released Thursday

Sales during the first two weeks of Snow Leopard’s release “far exceed those of the last two Apple operating systems,” market research company NPD said. The group tracks U.S. retail sales. Snow Leopard launched Aug. 28, available as an upgrade at an affordable price of $29.

According to NPD, Snow Leopard sales were more than two times higher than those for the initial release of Leopard back in 2007, and almost four times higher than the Tiger OS in 2005.