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Archive for May, 2010

Google unveils its ‘multimillion-channel’ TV

May 22nd, 2010 No comments

Saying it will “change the future of television,” Google on Thursday rolled out Google TV — the internet giant’s venture into web-TV integration.

The application, run by Google’s Android operating system, lets users search for content from their television, DVR and the web.

“Here we are folks — the multimillion-channel TV,” said Google project director Rishi Chandra during a two-hour keynote on Google’s Android operating system at the company’s annual I/O conference in San Francisco, California.

Even as sites like Google-owned YouTube have emerged as viable entertainment options, the move is a nod to a basic truth of leisure time: The estimated 4 billion television users worldwide is still a much bigger customer base than those using the internet.

“There’s still not a better medium to reach a wider and broader audience than television,” Chandra said.

The platform will let users search for content, from the name of a TV show to the name of a network, in much the same way a Google search works. They’ll get results from TV and the web and be able to watch either on their TV screen.

It also will have voice recognition, letting users speak the name of a show or other content and have it pop up on their screens.

“Videos should be consumed on the biggest, best, brightest screen in your house,” Chandra said. “That’s your TV.”

Devices for Google TV will be sold at Best Buy and on the market this fall, in time for the lucrative holiday shopping season. No prices were announced on Thursday.

The system will allow Android smartphone applications to be displayed on television screens and such integration as being able to watch a show on TV and a Twitter stream of people talking about that show at the same time.

A Google TV home screen will let users organize their content, like shows they’ve recorded on their DVR, and integration will let users view photos from such sites as Flickr and Picasa on their TV screens.

In addition to Best Buy, other partners include Sony, which will launch a line of TVs that optimize the Google service, Intel, Logitech and DISH Network — which also will offer features specifically for Google TV.

Developing for the system will be open, a fact that let Google’s top brass take several shots at Apple’s iPad and iPhone. They pointedly noted that Adobe’s Flash media player will be integrated into the system’s Web browser.

Adobe and Apple have been feuding publicly, and loudly, over Apple’s refusal to run Flash on its products.

“We’re thrilled to be part of the Google TV initiative with other industry leaders who share a common vision of enabling access to the best web experiences possible,” said Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, who attended the event.

Googleisn’t the first company to meld web and TV content.

In March, TiVo rolled out TiVo Premiere, which lets subscribers pull internet content, music and movies onto their televisions more easily.

The Boxee Box, a cubelike device that shares internet content with your TV, was awarded the title of “Last Gadget Standing” at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

And California-based company Roku also offers a digital video player that integrates television, Web content and a video library. It retails for about $100.

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iPad is on pace to outsell Macs

May 22nd, 2010 No comments

Sales of the iPad are already outpacing those of the Mac in the United States, according to an analyst’s calculations.

Apple is selling more than 200,000 iPads per week, says Mike Abramsky, an RBC Capital Markets analyst. That’s almost twice the rate of Mac computers, which average about 110,000 units sold each week.

The iPad isn’t outselling the iPhone, though it’s coming close. Apple was selling about 246,000 units of the iPhone 3GS per week during its first quarter of launch.

“Checks indicate that U.S. iPad sales remain strong post-launch, driven by rising consumer visibility to iPad’s user experience, sustained PR/word-of-mouth marketing, 3G iPad launch, and broadening iPad apps/content,” Abramsky said in a note to clients.

Apple announced in early May that it sold one million iPads after only one month. In light of his calculations, Abramsky estimates the company will sell 8 millioniPads in 2010, up from his previous projection of 5 million.

The iPad has only been selling for a month and a half, and it’s difficult to tell whether the 200,000 figure will hold steady in the coming months. However, it’s still significant that early signs suggest the iPad is growing quickly.

After all, the Mac category consists of several models of multiple computers, including the Mac Mini, iMac and MacBook Pro. So it’s surprising to see that early sales of the iPad, which comes in six different configurations, have already outpaced the sales of all those Mac models combined.

What’s more, Apple has not marketed the iPad as a computer replacement, but rather a new device category sitting in between a smartphone and a computer. It’s possible the iPad is tapping into the enormous audience that was interested in netbooks, which sit in the same “in-between” category.

Add to that the media-hungry customers choosing the more versatile iPad over the iPod, along with the grandmas who have never owned a computer before buying an iPad, and it becomes clear why the tablet is selling so quickly.

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Apple spurred police in lost iPhone probe

May 16th, 2010 No comments

Apple pressed local police to investigate the loss of a next-generation iPhone a day after Gizmodo published photographs, telling investigators that the prototype was so valuable, a price could not be placed on it, according to court documents made public Friday.

In response to arguments made by CNET and other media organizations, a San Mateo judge unsealed documents that provide a detailed glimpse into an April 20 meeting between Apple lawyers and executives, and law enforcement.

They also highlight a madcap dash for evidence that evening that led a police detective to a gas station, a church, and a bush in Redwood City where a thumb drive and a 1GB Lexar Media compact flash card were allegedly hidden.

During the meeting with law enforcement, Apple attorney George Riley told detectives that the publication of evidence of the device by Gizmodo–part of Gawker Media–was immensely damaging.

“People that would have otherwise purchased a currently existing Apple product would wait for the next item to be released, thereby hurting overall sales and negatively effecting Apple’s earnings,” Riley said, according to an affidavit prepared by a police detective made public on Friday.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs personally contacted Gizmodo editor Brian Lam to request the prototype’s return the day the story was published on April 19, but Lam refused to do so, unless the company provided “confirmation that it is real, from Apple, officially,” according to an e-mail message that was also made public.

“Right now, we have nothing to lose,” Lam wrote. “The thing is, Apple PR has been cold to us lately. It affected my ability to do my job right at iPad launch. So we had to go outside and find our stories like this one, very aggressively.” (Gawker Media had offered to pay anyone who gave it or lent it an Apple prototype.)

Brian Hogan, a 21-year-old Redwood City, Calif., resident, found the phone in a bar. But the affidavit prepared by detective Matthew Broad in the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office reveals that an important tip came when Hogan’s roommate, Katherine Martinson, called police on April 21 to let them know that he had examined it.

Hogan told her that Gizmodo had offered him $10,000 for the phone, and showed her a camera box containing $5,000 in $100 bills, according to the affidavit. It says: “Martinson said Hogan also told her that he will receive a cash bonus from Gizmodo.com in July, if and when Apple makes an official product announcement regarding the new iPhone.”

Broad, the San Mateo County detective, began to prepare a request to search the apartment on Farm Hill Blvd. the following day when, he said, he received an urgent phone call just before midnight from Martinson, saying Hogan and their roommate Thomas Warner were removing any evidence about the iPhone from the apartment and leaving in two separate cars. Broad said he tracked Hogan down at his father’s house, also in Redwood City, and learned that Hogan’s computer had been left at a nearby church.

Warner showed up the house at 1 a.m. and was arrested on two outstanding misdemeanor warrants. Warner claimed that a prototype sticker from the iPhone fell out of his wallet at a Chevron station, and later said a 512MB thumb drive and 1GB Lexar compact flash card were under a bush on Harding Avenue, the affidavit says. Police say they recovered all the discarded hardware.

A First Amendment Fight

In a response to a motion from a group of media companies that included CNET, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, the Los Angeles Times, and Wired.com, Judge Clifford Cretan reversed his earlier ruling and ruled on Friday that circumstances had changed, and now secrecy was no longer necessary.

“It appears appropriate to me at this time to unseal the affidavit,” Cretan said. “I can no longer say there is an overriding interest in sealing.”

On Friday, San Mateo County District Attorney Chris Feasel told the judge that there is no precedent that gives “the court the authority to unseal the search warrant at this time.” Feasel had argued that until charges were filed and there was a criminal defendant, news organizations had no right to access the documents.

Cretan ordered that the affidavit to search Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s home and his April 28 order sealing the affidavit be made available to the public no later than 2 p.m. PDT Friday.

“It’s gratifying that the judge was willing to reconsider his decision and recognize that circumstances have changed,” Roger Myers, the San Francisco attorney who represented the media coalition, said after the ruling was made.

Background

The story began in March, when Gray Powell, a 27-year-old Apple computer engineer, forgot what may be a 4G iPhone phone at a German beer garden in Redwood City, Calif., after a night of drinking.

With the help of friends, Hogan allegedly approached multiple tech news sites before finally selling the handset to Gizmodo for $5,000. (Sage Robert Wallower, a 27-year-old University of California at Berkeley student, was allegedly one of those friends who contacted technology sites.)

Prosecutors in the case say they are conducting a felony theft investigation, but no charges have been filed.

On April 23, just hours after CNET reported that Apple had contacted law enforcement officials about the phone and an investigation was under way, police showed up at Chen’s home in Fremont, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco. After breaking down his door, they confiscated three Apple laptops, a Samsung digital camera, a 32GB Apple iPad, a 16GB iPhone, and other electronic gear, according to documents Gizmodo posted.

Apple ranks among the most security-conscious companies, and it has gone to great lengths to prevent leaks about its products. To secure trade secrets, the company has not shied away from high-profile courtroom fights. It filed a lawsuit against Mac enthusiast Web site Think Secret, for example, to unearth information about a leak. A state appeals court ruled in favor of the Web site.

In that case, Apple argued that information published about unreleased products causes it significant harm. “If these trade secrets are revealed, competitors can anticipate and counter Apple’s business strategy, and Apple loses control over the timing and publicity for its product launches,” Apple wrote in a brief.

Under a California law dating back to 1872, any person who finds lost property and knows who the owner is likely to be–but “appropriates such property to his own use”–is guilty of theft. There are no exceptions for journalists. In addition, a second state law says any person who knowingly receives property that has been obtained illegally can be imprisoned for up to one year.

Knowing that an item probably belonged to someone else has previously led to convictions. “It is not necessary that the defendant be told directly that the property was stolen. Knowledge may be circumstantial and deductive,” a California appeals court has previously ruled.

“Possession of stolen property, accompanied by an unsatisfactory explanation of the possession or by suspicious circumstances, will justify an inference that the property was received with knowledge it had been stolen.” A California law says lost property valued at $100 or more must be turned over to police.

And here’s another tidbit from the affidavit, explaining Steve Jobs’ involvement:

“Apple General Counsel Bruce] Sewell told me that after Gizmodo.com released its story regarding the iPhone prototype on or about 4/19/2010, Steve Jobs (Apple CEO) contacted the editor of Gizmodo.com, Brian Lam. Jobs requested that Lam return the phone to Apple. Lam responded via the e-mail address…that he would return the iPhone on the condition that Apple provided him with a letter stating the iPhone belonged to Apple.”

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Facebook launches new security feature

May 16th, 2010 No comments

Facebook has announced a new security feature that aims to keep hackers from tapping into users’ personal information.

The change comes amid rising concerns about privacy and security on the online social network, which has 400 million members worldwide.

The new feature, announced Thursday, makes Facebook a bit more like an online banking site. Users can identify certain “approved” computers and mobile phones that are allowed to access their Facebook accounts. If an unauthorized device tries to log in, the user will be notified of that activity by e-mail or text message, allowing them, in theory, to shut down an attack before any information is stolen.

In order to access a Facebook account from a new computer, or from a friend’s phone, for example, users may have to answer a security question.

Facebook says the feature is unique in the social networking world.

“We’re confident that these new tools and systems will do a lot to prevent unauthorized logins and the nuisance they can cause,” Lev Popov, a Facebook software engineer, writes in a company blog post. “As always, though, the first line of defense is you. We need you to help by practicing safe behavior on Facebook and wherever you go online.”

Facebook users must choose to activate this change. To do so, log in to Facebook and click the “Account” button at the top right of the screen. From that menu, select “Account Settings.” Scroll down to “Account Security” at the bottom of the page and click the link that says “change.”

The site asks: “Would you like to receive notifications for logins from new devices?” If you would like to receive such updates, then click the button by “yes.”

Facebook has come under fire in recent weeks for changes to its privacy policy and its announcement of the “open graph,” which essentially extends Facebook’s social features onto a number of other websites, including CNN.com.

Some users have complained they are uneasy about their personal preferences showing up on sites other than Facebook.com. Recently, an unknown number of people, including some notable tech pundits, have deleted or deactivated their Facebook accounts in response to privacy concerns.

Last month, a group of U.S. senators sent a letter to Facebook asking the company, which was started in a Harvard dorm room and is now valued at billions of dollars, to give users more control of their private information.

The new security features do not address the issues most users have been complaining about, such as whether Facebook will keep their information private. Instead, the latest feature aims to protect Facebook users from external hackers. It does not change company policy.

The online media this week jumped on news, confirmed by CNN content partner CNET, that Facebook called an “all-hands” meeting in response to the swell of concern over privacy issues. Facebook makes no mention of this meeting in its blog post, and it remains unclear whether Thursday’s changes were a result of that meeting.

Thursday’s changes are drawing some skepticism online.

Dan Nosowitz, a blogger at Fast Company, questioned whether Facebook should have made its new privacy setting active by default.

“Oddly, this system is ‘opt-in,’ meaning by default it’s not enabled. You have to dig through Facebook’s labyrinthine privacy settings to turn it on,” he writes. “This might be a mistake, given how complex and intimidating Facebook’s privacy settings already are.”

On PC World’s website, JR Raphael writes that the changes may not do much to ameliorate the concerns of angry Facebook users: “Facebook has just unveiled a new set of user controls, but it isn’t likely to do much in the way of calming anger about the social network’s privacy policies.”

Let us know what you think of the changes in the comments below. What do you think of Facebook’s efforts to integrate into other websites? Do you feel secure when using the site

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Why cars have to go electric

May 12th, 2010 No comments

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since I stood before the audience at one of my favorite forums, TED. But a year later, our vision for an oil-free world where electric cars are more convenient and affordable than gasoline-powered cars remains the same.

It’s been a turbulent year for the global economy and the events of recent weeks only underscore the urgency of our situation as a society and as a planet. We see firsthand the severe damage oil can inflict, not only on our global economy but also on our environment.

Just look at the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. We will soon see the damage of this horrific event in very human terms, as the damage to the industry, the environment and the livelihood of those in the Gulf grows and all struggle to recover in the coming months and years.

My hope is that we will soon get to a point where we see that the cost of oil in human capital is no longer acceptable and that the increasing complexity of finding and retrieving this diminishing resource no longer makes economic sense. The good news is we are already seeing a shift that will ultimately take us from a transportation system based on a volatile oil ecosystem to one based on a more sustainable model based on electric cars that creates a market for clean energy.

The shift to electrification is inevitable and we’re seeing some of the world’s leading countries make strong commitments to electrification. China, France, Japan and Israel are just a few. Motivations vary from country to country, but the end result will be the same: a stronger economy, healthier automotive sector and increased development of clean energy, leading to a healthier society.

We will see new countries emerge to lead the way, and we will see former powerhouses who fail to act, left behind in this new sustainable global economy. While governments have the ability to accelerate the shift, the question remains how quickly we can get there.

My start-up, Better Place, has made great progress in the past 12 months, and we’re moving forward in all of our committed markets. We began the year by raising $350 million in a financing round led by HSBC, and we continue to drive toward a full system test in Israel later this year, followed by our commercial launches in Israel and Denmark in late 2011.

On April 26th of this year, we launched the first switchable-battery, electric-taxi project in Tokyo. With the support of the Japanese government, we’ve partnered with Nihon Kotsu, Tokyo’s largest taxi operator, to show what’s possible in a rigorous environment with cars that drive almost continuously. Tokyo has much to gain from this: The city’s 60,000 taxis may only represent 2 percent of all cars in the city, but they are responsible for 20 percent of emissions. If the switch works for taxis, imagine how it can work for average drivers.

Just two days before our Tokyo launch, Better Place signed a memorandum of understanding with Chery Automobile Co., China’s largest independent auto producer and exporter. You can’t talk about the future without considering China: They get it, they’ll do it and it’s that simple.

Today only 2 percent of China’s population owns a car, but 80 percent of sales last year came from first-time car buyers, presenting a huge opportunity to get it right. The Chinese recognize EVs as a solution to the problem of the oil monopoly and its associated pollution, as well as an opportunity to leapfrog internal-combustion-engine technology and the rest of the auto industry. In fact, recent research from HSBC predicts that China’s share of the global EV market will grow from 2.7 percent this year to 35 percent by 2020.

In late 2011, we’re planning countrywide rollouts of the Better Place model in Israel and Denmark. With the infrastructure deployment under way, both of these countries will be ready when the first EVs from Renault come to market. We are talking about mass market with these cars — as Better Place and Renault have committed to 100,000 electric cars for Israel and Denmark beginning in 2011. This is just the beginning, and we’re seeing clear direction and new visionaries emerge such as Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault Nissan, who sees a future where EVs are mass marketed and make up 10 percent of all car sales by 2020.

Call it a revolution or an evolution, but this shift is happening today. While we still face a number of challenges, over the past 12 months we’ve seen a new willingness from the global auto industry to change. Two years ago, electric cars were considered a niche market by most automakers, but today we see almost every automaker in the world producing electric vehicles.

As the benefits of a more sustainable transportation model are realized, we will very quickly see a dramatic change in the global economy, the health of the car industry and most importantly in the air we breathe. All of this pointing the way to bigger, brighter future. It’s simply up to us to make it happen.

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Report: Google Android surpasses iPhone in U.S.

May 12th, 2010 No comments

Google’s Android operating system edged out Apple’s iPhone operating system for the No. 2 spot in the U.S. consumer smartphone market in the first quarter, research firm NPD Group reported Monday.

According to NPD, devices running Android accounted for 28 percent of the units sold to U.S. consumers in the first quarter of 2010.

BlackBerry devices made by Research In Motion, which use RIM’s homegrown operating system, took the top spot with 36 percent of the U.S. market. Apple’s iPhone, which had been in the No. 2 spot previously, fell to third place with 21 percent of the market.

NPD’s figures are based on self-reported consumer surveys and they estimate the number of devices sold to consumers. The figures do not include sales of devices to business customers through enterprise contracts.

Android is an operating system that is available on several different models of phones made by different manufacturers, such as Motorola, HTC, and Samsung. Meanwhile, Apple’s operating system is used only on Apple’s own iPhone.

Ross Rubin, an analyst with NPD, attributed the strong growth in Android to the fact that devices using Android software are now available on all major U.S. carrier networks.

Verizon Wireless, in particular, has helped fuel success for the operating system. Verizon launched a major marketing campaign for devices, such as the Motorola Droid, last year. And Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless operator, has also been including Android devices in its buy-one-get-one free smartphone promotion.

T-Mobile USA also features Android phones as its flagship smartphones, and AT&T has begun selling Android phones.

“The wireless carriers in the U.S. are still the king makers in the mobile market,” said Rubin. “Verizon in particular is what is making the Android so successful right now with its promotions and marketing.”

Rubin said that strong sales of the Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris, and RIM’s Blackberry Curve via these promotions have helped keep Verizon’s smartphone sales on par with AT&T in the first quarter.

NPD’s data suggests that smartphone sales at AT&T account for nearly a third of the entire smartphone market, about 32 percent. Verizon Wireless accounted for 30 percent of smartphone sales. T-Mobile made up 17 percent of all smartphone sales and Sprint brought in 15 percent of all smartphone sales.

There is no question that Apple’s iPhone is still very popular. Last month, AT&T reported that it had activated about 900,000 iPhones for new customers during the first quarter. It also sold another 1.8 million iPhones to people who were already AT&T customers. Without the iPhone, AT&T’s subscriber growth for contract customers would have been negative.

But the NPD findings suggest that sales of the phone could be even higher in the U.S. if the device was available on other carrier networks, such as Verizon Wireless. Reports surfaced in March that the iPhone could be coming to Verizon soon. But definite plans for a Verizon iPhone have still not been announced.

“If the iPhone was available today on Verizon, Apple would certainly grow market share,” Rubin said. “But it’s harder to say what will happen in the long term. It’s difficult to know what the feature-set will look like on phones in a year. But it’s clear the iPhone still has enough cachet today to pick up market share.”

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Nokia sues Apple over iPad patents

May 8th, 2010 No comments

Nokia is suing Apple over what it claims are infringing patents in the iPad and iPad 3G.

This is just the latest in a series of escalating lawsuits between the two companies regarding their respective mobile and consumer electronic devices.

This lawsuit — which unlike the others was filed in the Federal District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin — is about technologies related to enhanced speech and data transmission.

In a statement, Nokia described this technology as “positioning data in applications and innovations in antenna configurations that improve performance and save space, allowing smaller and more compact devices.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

Nokia and Apple have been engaged in what we like to call “Patent Lawsuit Theater.” If you haven’t been keeping up with the saga, which began in October, here’s a primer:

* Nokia filed a lawsuit against Apple in Delaware District Court, claiming that the iPhone infringed on many of its patents.

* Apple filed a countersuit against Nokia in December, claiming Nokia is trying to take advantage of Apple by making unwarranted claims in order to try to access Apple’s intellectual property.

* Nokia then filed its motion with the International Trade Commission (ITC), claiming all of Apple’s products violate its patents. This is what the ITC is currently investigating.

* Nokia then filed a second complaint in federal court, this time asking the court and the ITC to ban imports of iPhones, MacBooks and iPods.

* Apple decided it could play the “banninator” card too and filed its complaint with the ITC.

* The ITC started an investigation into Apple’s alleged infringement at Nokia’s request.

Keep in mind, that’s just the Nokia-Apple dispute. That doesn’t even address Kodak’s lawsuit against Apple, Apple’s countersuit against Kodak, or Apple’s lawsuit against HTC.

Mashable anticipate that the next steps will go something like this:

* Apple will countersue Nokia in Wisconsin.

* Nokia will either amend its previous ITC filing or file a new claim requesting bans on U.S. imports of Apple iPad and iPad 3G units.

* Apple will respond with its own ITC filing or amend its previous complaint.

* A new product will get released or a new patent claim will be found and the entire process will start all over again.

What do you think of the latest act in this protracted melodrama between multibillion dollar companies?

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Can anyone compete with Apple’s iPad?

May 5th, 2010 No comments

If you want to buy a consumer-friendly tablet computer today and you don’t want to purchase Apple’s iPad, you’re pretty much out of luck.

The iPad currently has no real competitors, and the touch-screen computer is so far ahead of the market that it has some gadget makers running back to the drawing boards, according to technology industry analysts.

“In essence, what Apple has done is created a wake-up call to the rest of the industry — that they need to look at what they’re offering,” said David Daoud, research director for the firm IDC. “They raised the bar significantly.”

Tech analysts still expect as many as two dozen different tablet computers to go on sale before the end of the year. But they say it’s questionable whether any of the devices will be able to replicate the iPad experience, which includes not only hardware but also a phone-like operating system, a touch-screen interface and a robust app store.

Meanwhile, it appears that some of the most-talked-about iPad competitors may be getting retooled to better compete with Apple’s high-profile gadget.

The HP Slate and the Microsoft Courier — two prototypes of iPad-like devices — were both expected to go on sale later this year. Microsoft has scrapped the Courier, according to the tech blog Gizmodo; and HP is reworking the officially unnamed “Slate” after its acquisition of the phone-maker Palm, according to the blog TechCrunch. Neither of those reports was confirmed by CNN.

Apple’s success is “causing a lot of tablet entrants to rethink what they’re bringing to market and how it’s being used by consumers,” said Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

Baker’s company predicted that, of the 10.5 million tablet computers he expects to be sold this year, the majority will be from Apple. On Monday, Apple announced it had sold 1 million iPads in the 28 days since the gadget went on sale.

Other tablet makers will have to get in the game soon to have any chance of competing with the Cupertino, California, company, which also makes the popular iPhone and iPod, said Ashok Kumar, senior technology analyst at the investment group Rodman & Renshaw.

“You need to have a product on the shelf by fall to make the holiday deadline,” he said. “If you miss that window of opportunity, you essentially give Apple an insurmountable lead.”

Video: Quest reviews his iPad

Leslie Fiering, a researcher at Gartner, said as many as two dozen consumer-friendly tablet computers — also sometimes called slate computers — will debut by the end of the year. It’s unclear who the main competitors will be, she said, but it may take more than a year for other companies to create a product “ecosystem” that is as useful as Apple’s.

“Don’t be dazzled by what it looks like,” she said of iPad rivals. “You’ve got to be looking at overall usability and make sure that the apps are there and that the device really does what you’re buying it to do. It’s not a simple thing.”

Daoud, from IDC, said he doesn’t expect any iPad alternatives this year, in part because the iPad has been so successful.

He expects Apple to come out with a new version of the iPad before another tech company takes its first swipe at the idea.

Despite the positive reaction from analysts, there have been complaints about the iPad.

Some tech writers have bemoaned the fact that the device doesn’t support Flash-formatted video and animation. Others hate that it’s not easy to print from the iPad, and that it doesn’t have a standard USB port for connecting other gadgets. The iPad also doesn’t have a camera, which some said would be useful for video conferencing. Its touch-screen keyboard is tricky.

Some owners of Wi-Fi-only models of iPads, which went on sale April 3, also have reported difficulties getting or maintaining Wi-Fi connections on the devices.

But, as Fiering emphasized, Apple does have a robust app store and tablet ecosystem, which means there are interesting things to do with the iPad, like play games, rent movies and download e-books.

That may not be the case for its upcoming competitors, she said.

Kumar said tablets that run Google’s Android operating system, which is already used on smartphones like the Droid and Nexus One, will have the greatest chance of success.

“You need a credible competitor, but so far there’s not one,” he said. “If there’s one that emerges it likely will be in the Android camp.”

A number of companies, from cell phone makers like Samsung and Nokia to computer manufacturers like Dell and even search giant Google, are working on Android-based tablet computers, according to unconfirmed reports.

HP’s Slate was said to run Microsoft’s Windows 7, the operating system that’s common for PCs, but, according to analysts, may not work well on tablets.

HP recently bought Palm, a cell phone maker, and could use Palm’s quicker webOS platform for its upcoming tablet.

Phone operating systems work better on tablets than standard computer operating systems because people control tablets by touching them, not by clicking icons with a hardware mouse, said Baker, the Gartner analyst.

Windows also boots more slowly than a phone operating system like Apple’s or like Google’s Android. Think about how much longer it takes to start up a desktop computer than a phone.

That’s a turn-off for modern tablet users who’ve seen the iPad, Baker said.

“These devices are sort of impulse devices. You pick it up, you do something with it. You open a book. You want to look up something on a map,” he said.

“And if it takes longer for the system to boot up than it does to do the task you want to do, then it’s kind of counterproductive and people are unlikely to use them.”

It’s unclear exactly what the leading rivals to the iPad will look like, and who will make them, the analysts said.

But one thing is clear: They will have some catching up to do.

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YouTube to let users charge rental fees By Samuel Axon

May 4th, 2010 No comments

YouTube’s movie rental service is still in its infancy, and it still only offers a small selection of films, but that could change quickly. YouTube exec Hunter Walk told MediaPost that the site will soon offer its users the ability to charge rental fees for their uploaded videos.

For the past couple of years YouTube has been focusing on ways for its users to monetize their videos should they become very popular. It launched the YouTube Partnership Program last year, which allows some folks with popular videos (YouTube staff decide which ones are eligible) to share advertising revenue with Google.

However, this new self-service rental plan will be the first opportunity YouTube users have to make money off of their videos by charging viewers instead of relying on advertising. Details on the program are scarce — for example, we’re not sure if just any user can partake, or if the program is only available to industry professionals.

Admittedly, “industry professional” is a difficult term to define in the frontier of web video, which sees content from established companies competing directly with randomly viral videos from unexpected sources.

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BlackBerry OS 6.0 will target consumers

May 3rd, 2010 No comments

RIM has announced a substantial upgrade to the operating system powering BlackBerry devices. BlackBerry OS 6.0 is intended to bolster BlackBerry’s appeal to consumers, with web browsing in particular a focus. The new OS will be released in the third quarter of this year.

Consumers now make up a large proportion of RIM’s sales. Though the BlackBerry platform offers a very strong e-mail experience, the web browsing experience?so important in the consumer market?is much weaker. In February, the company announced that its next web browser would use WebKit, the same browser engine as is found on both Android handsets and Apple’s iPhone.

The new browser includes support for tabs, new-look favorites, and pinch-to-zoom. Indeed, multitouch support will be available through out the OS on suitable hardware.

The browser is not the only part of the OS seeing attention. The handling of multimedia is improved, with a new music player and photo viewer. Both are designed to support touch, with the photo application taking many design cues from the iPhone’s photo browser.

BlackBerry OS’s homescreen has undergone big changes in 6.0. The new homescreen is customizable to allow applications and favorites to be organized however you want.

Speaking of applications, RIM’s App World application marketplace will also be preinstalled in OS 6.0, making application download and purchase immediately accessible to BlackBerry users. The company is also set to include credit-card and carrier billing for applications sold through App World. Making the platform’s application store more readily accessible is a clear response to Android and the iPhone.

Leaked screenshots and a video are also available, showing off the new browser, media capabilities, and home screen. The leaks also suggest a more specific release schedule, claiming a July launch.

The new OS was described as working with current device models?so unlike Android, iPhone, and the forthcoming Windows Phone 7, RIM clearly has no intention of going down the mandatory touch interface road any time soon?but compatibility with older devices is not guaranteed.

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