Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is Microsoft is going Mobile again?

The past two years have not been kind to Microsoft. The company has struggled in the smart phone market. The latest Microsoft based phone the Kin was quickly pulled from the market earlier this year and rumor has it that Microsoft's board docked Steve Ballmer's bonus for the last fiscal year in part because of those missteps.

Microsoft also mismanaged its mobility position with Google Android which has gobbled the majority of its market share. The Windows Mobile 6.5 software released last year was poorly received and the expectations of is new Windows Phone 7 are unclear. To combat Google, Microsoft has recently filed a lawsuit against Motorola Inc., alleging the handset maker is infringing Microsoft patents in its Android phones.

So is Microsoft in the mobile game?

CEO Steve Ballmer says his company finally has a compelling story and has invested more than $500M on its new launch.

Microsoft will announce the initial wave of handsets that will use Windows Phone 7 on October 11th. Ballmer believes the new software will compete more effectively against Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

Microsoft originally planned to launch Windows Phone 7 with eight manufacturers, only three have confirmed investing in the technology. HTC, Samsung and LG. The other manufacturers Dell, HP, Sony-Ericsson, Garmin-Asus, and Toshiba have all declined to comment about the launch.

Where are the Apps?

Microsoft's biggest challenge may not be in the device market, but convincing third-party developers to create applications for the platform. To drive development, Microsoft has been rumored to offer cash incentives to Windows Phone 7 developers. They plan on having several thousand applications ready for the launch. The Windows Phone Developer Tools have been downloaded over a half a million times in more than 200 countries. Microsoft claims to have trained 20,000 developers in preparation for the launch.

Does it compete with the IPhone?

The handsets are reportedly set to become available around November 8 exclusively on GSM cellular networks, with CDMA devices to follow in 2011. The latest report is based on discussions with people familiar with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch plans, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft anointed AT&T its premier Windows Phone 7 partner in the U.S at the World Mobile Conference and the Wall Street Journal reported that the carrier will sell the three Windows Phone 7 handsets at launch.

Is it too late in the game?

Expectations are high for the debut of Windows Phone 7 and some critics believe its Microsoft's last chance to capture any action in the current Smartphone wars. During the second quarter of 2010, Microsoft's worldwide market share dropped from 9 percent to 5 percent compared to the same period in 2009, according to Gartner.

Gartner predicts in 2012, Symbian as the leader in smartphone devices with 39% of the market. Android second with 14.5% of the market. iPhone third with a 13.7% market share and Windows fourth, with a 12.8% share of the market. BlackBerry OS will get fifth at a 12.5% share, Linux devices at 5.4% market share in sixth place and lastly Palm webOS about 2.1% of the market, in seventh place.

Only time will tell whether Microsoft reclaims its position as a mobile leader and its devices grab market share. A good place to start researching Microsoft's strategy is to check out the demo site for the Windows Phone 7 at http://www.windowsphone7.com/ . After using the demo and checking out the operating system, this device might get them back into the game.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Microsoft drops below 60 percent browser market share

In a recent browser market share report conducted by analysts NetApplications and StatCounter it shows Microsoft may be losing its dominance of the Internet browser market.

The research report indicates usage of the Microsoft IE browser dropped from 77.63 percent in April 2008 to 67.77 percent in April 2009. Since June 2009, Internet Explorer has seen a decrease in market share each consecutive month for a low of 59.95 percent. Competitors, including Google Chrome, Firefox and Apple Safari saw an increase in market share during the same period. Firefox currently enjoys about one quarter of the market with 24.59 percent market penetration, according to NetApplications. Google Chrome ranked third with 6.73 percent, a .6 percent increase from last month. Apple Safari came in fourth, with 4.72 percent, a .07 percent increase from the previous month.

Microsoft once dominated the browser market with over 90 percent market share and essentially monopolized the industry between 1996 and 2002. Firefox was the first major browser to offer some significant competition to Internet Explorer.
Once Google launched Chrome in September 2008, it took 1 percent of the global browser market in one day, according to StatCounter.

The success of Google's Chrome browser has been due to five factors according to Jeff Bertolucci of PC World, "It's Fast, It's Simple, Security, Runs well on old hardware and Google's ad campaign".

Microsoft isn't about to sit on its laurels. They are busy at working on the Internet Explorer 9. The company released a preview of IE9 for beta developers which demonstrated speed gains and standards improvements that align with Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can these Ipad competitors beat Apple? The seven tablets that could..

The Apple iPad is the first tablet to sell over 300,000 units in its first day. Industry analysts estimate that the Ipad will sell between 3 and 4 million units in 2010. A huge success, by any accounts.
So can the Ipad take off and change the industry? Or do we have another stalking horse tablet that will dominate and make the Ipad take a turn like the betamax?

The Ipad

The IPad is a tablet computer meant for internet browsing, media, gaming, and light content creation. Unlike many older tablets, it uses a touchpad instead of a stylus. Released in April, the Ipad bridged the gap between between smartphones and laptops.

Like the iPod Touch and iPhone, the iPad runs the iPhone OS. It runs iPad applications as well as those written for the iPhone and iPod touch, including e-book readers. The iPad uses WiFi or Wireless WAN to browse the Internet, stream media, and install software. The Ipad comes equipped with a custom designed 1GHz Apple A4, high-performance, low-power chip processor. The unit comes equipped with either a wireless or broadband version. The Wi-Fi model has 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology. The broadband Wi-Fi and 3G model has UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), Data only3, Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

You can purchase the Ipad in 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive versions and has a 9.7-inch (diagonal) 1024×768, 132 ppi LED display. The built in 25 watt rechargeable lithium-polymer battery provides up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music or 9 hours of surfing the web using 3G data network (3G model). You can charge via power adapter or USB to computer system.

Size: 9.56 x 7.47 x 0.5 inches
Weight: 1.5 pounds Wi-Fi model, 1.6 pounds Wi-Fi + 3G model
Price: $499 to $829

Pros: Long Battery life, Applications, Iphone and Ipod user base, Apple R&D
Cons: No Flash Support, Iphone Operating System, No Camera, No External Battery, Apple R&D - (You will need to upgrade)

Apple may have been the first to market and they do have an advantage in this year’s tablet war. But you do have a choice. We have put together 7 potential tablet competitors that will give Steve Jobs a run for his money.
These devices are either available or about to launch. So here is a look at some of the upcoming devices that could compete with the Ipad.

1. HP Slate

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off the Slate HP tablet prototype briefly at CES this year. The rumors are that Best Buy will have Slate on April 30th.
The HP Slate will run Windows 7, setting it apart from the field of tablets running Android. The Slate features a larhe 8.9 inch WSVGS 1024X600 display with pen, touch and digitizer support, the graphics card is an Intel UMA for 1080p playback.
The Slate comes with either a 32GB or 64GB flash drive upgradeable via SD card reader. The processor is a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Menlow 2530 processor with 1GB RAM.
It offers 802.11 b/g wifi and built in bluetooth combo and optional 3G WWAN. It comes with SD, SDHC, SDXC, 3.5mm headphone/microphone port, 1 USB 2.0, power, audio in/out, and HDMI out ports.

The Slate has a VGA webcam (inward facing) perfect for low use video conferencing and a 3 megapixel camera (outward facing). Its main drawback is the power pack, it offers a non-replaceable battery with up to 5 hours of charge time.

Size: 9.21 x 5.70 x 0.57 inches
Weight: 1.49 pounds
Price: $549 to $599

Pros: Flash Support, Windows 7 Home Premium, Camera, HD Support, USB Port, Price $ 549 (32GB)
Cons: Battery life, Microsoft Operating System, RAM

2. Dell Streak aka Dell Mini 5

Dell announced the Streak during the CES 2010 keynote. They said they are working on multiple “upcoming slates,” including one prototype called the Streak. This particular screen is only 5 inches wide, which puts it less in the direct path of the iPad and makes it more akin to the existing line of mobile internet devices.
The Dell Streak's 5 inch WVGA screen offers 800 X 400 resolution, Qualcomm's fast 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 256M RAM, 4GB Flash Storage, a 5 megapixel camera and a microSD card slot (maximum 32GB), and a 30pin docking connector.

The Streak will also have 3G GSM, Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi. The Streak may also be come in nine different colors including black, silver, red, purple, blue green, pink and two multicolored designs called Kaleidescope and Sea Sky.
Dell is anticipated to launch the Streak this summer, likely running Android 1.6 with a September upgrade to Android 2.1.

Size: 6.02 x 3.85 inches approximately
Weight: .48 pounds
Price: $500 to $599

Pros: Small size, docking port, Android operating system
cons: 4GB Hard Drive, poor resolution compared to the Slate or IPad

3. Archos 9

The newest tablet from Archos, which uses Windows 7 as an operating system, has an 8.9 inch touch screen capable of 1080p HD resolution and a 60GB hard drive. The Archos 9 boasts a number of multimedia functions, including streaming music over the internet, internet radio accessibility and options for web and video chatting.
Archos is well known for its portable media players, such as the Android-powered Archos 5 Internet tablet.
The Archos has a 1.1GHz Intel Atom Z510 CPU, 1GB RAM, 400MHz DDR2, 60GB HD, Intel GMA 500 graphics card, 1.3 megapixel webcam, Ethernet port, PCI-E interface, 1 antenna, supports 802.11b/g and a USB 2.0 port making it compatible with most 3G broadband cards. Though we've squeezed decent performance from the N270/N280 Atoms, as well as from the newer N450 version, any product we've tested with the slower Z-series Atom CPU has been slow.

The Archos 9 comes with a 5 Hour removable lithium battery pack. At $549, it's more expensive than the entry-level Apple iPad, but does many things that the Ipad can't, from running Firefox to playing streaming video. The Archos 9 struggles with many basic tasks. If the device offered a better touch screen and a faster processor, it could compete with some of the others in this roundup.

Size: 10.1 x 5.3 inches
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Price: $539 to $599

Pros: Experienced tablet maker, 60 GB hard drive, removable battery
Cons: Slow processer and touchscreen UI

4. Asus T91

Asus is the company responsible for kicking off the entire netbook craze with its EEEpc series. They were also showing off a prototype of a 9-inch tablet at CES this year.
The device has four control buttons reminiscent of the favored layout for an Android-powered phone, leading to the logical speculation that the Asus tablet might well run Google’s mobile operating system.
The T91 looks and feels small and light, even for a Netbook. That's because it's built around a 9-inch screen, rather then the bigger 10-inch displays found in most current Netbooks.
The obvious compromises, besides the smaller display, are the tiny keyboard and touch pad, but the tradeoff is a system that's very svelte and easy to carry. It's smaller even than the original 7-inch Eee PC.

The unit has a Intel's 1.33GHz Atom Z520 Processor and a small 16GD SSD hard drive (plus an additional included 16GB SD card, for 32GB total), 1GB RAM an Intel GMA 500 Graphics card and Windows 7, Wifi b/g/n, Bluetooth, 1 Ethernet and 2 - USB 2.0 ports.
The T91 launched in July 2009 and originally launched with Windows XP but now ships with Windows 7 Home Premium. It also offers a unique 20GB of online storage.

Size: 8.9 inches X 6.5 inches deep X 1.1 inches
Weight: 2.1 pounds
Price: $ 429 to 549

Pros: Its a Full Windows 7 laptop, responsive touchscreen
Cons: Slow processor, lack of storage space.

5. Opentablet 7

OpenTablet is an exciting multipurpose device with all the benefits and flexibility of a wirelessly connected personal computing and entertainment device. The Opentablet is being marketed as an Ipad alternative to launch in 4Q 2010.
The OpenTablet 7 is based on Intel’s Atom Moorestown 1.9MHZ next generation processor, runs a closed Nokia/Intel MeeGo operating system (most likely to change).

The unit will offer a 7 inch LED backlit TFT LCD display, Multi touch, 3G GSM, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, HDMI and USB connectivity, 5 megapixel camera and a microSD slot.

Size: 9.5 inches X 5 inches deep X .59 inches
Weight: 1.15 pounds
Price: TBD

Pros: Its a Full Windows 7 laptop, responsive touchscreen
Cons: Closed operating system, limited details.

6. Compal Tablet

The Compal features a next generation Nvidia processor that was recently presented at the 2010 CES. The Nvidia Tegra processor has dual core ARM Cortex A9 CPUs which work at a 1GHz clock speed and have 8 different processors.
The Tegra processor can handle 1080p HD video, encoding and decoding videos. The processor also supports Adobe Flash 10.1 and the standard Open GL ES 2.0 specs. You can watch HD videos and movies on YouTube and similar websites without a problem.
The Compal tablet will feature a choice of either a 7 inch screen with 800×480 pixels or a 10.1 inch screen with 1024×600 pixels. It will most likely include 512MB DDR2 RAM, 4 GB NAND flash memory, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS as an optional feature.
Compal’s Tablet will feature 1.0 Watt Stereo speakers and a 3MP camera. Other features include the Android Operating system, HDMI out, an accelerometer, an ambient Light Sensor, and a Micro SD slot.
The Compal is efficient enough to provide roughly 140 hours of MP3 playback and up to 16 hours of HD video on one battery charge. This of course is untested.
The Compal tablet won’t be directly retailed to consumers, and is “being currently evaluated by a number of potential carriers”. Don’t be surprised if it is sold by a wireless carrier near you.
The device was shown running Android 2.1, and Compal has recently announced that Toshiba has partnered with an estimated delivery date of 3Q 2010.

Size: 8.75 inches X 5 inches deep X .65 inches
Weight: 1.85 pounds
Price: TBD

Pros: Small size, fast Processor, Android Operating system
Cons: Will be carrier based and require a data plan

7. Fusion Garage's JooJoo

As a simple Web tablet, the former JooJoo may be the most feature-barren of all the iPad competitors, but it's also the closest to actually shipping. The JooJoo priced at is in the same price range as the Apple iPad.
The Joo Joo has a 1366 x 768, capacitive 12 inch display, 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB of RAM and 4GB solid state drive, WiFi, 1 USB 2.0, headphone and microphone jack.
The Joo Joo has full screen Flash video playback support courtesy the Atom processor coupled up with NVIDIA Ion graphics.

The 2.4 pound device supports 1080p video streaming, with a Linux browser based OS with icon based shortcuts to Youtube, Facebook, Google, etc.
It doesn't help that the JooJoo does not support a card slot for 3G. The JooJoo is available now.

Size: 12.8 inches x 7.8 inches X .75 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Price: $499

Pros: Small size, fast Processor, fast touch screen
Cons: No 3G support, User Interface not easy to use

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is Google ready for the Enterprise?

On April 12th 2010, Google invited 400 CIO's for its cloud computing forum called Google Atmosphere. The Google team assembled some of the most well respected IT leaders for an overview of Google's vision for cloud computing. Google executives presented the Google vision along with industry heavyweights, including Morgan Stanley's Mary Meeker, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Seagate CIO Mark Brewer and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels.

Cloud computing is the most important technology impacting IT in the next few years. The cloud basically replaces tradiitional server based technology and moves to web based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand. Typical cloud computing providers deliver common business applications online which are accessed from another web service or software like a web browser, while the software and data are stored on servers in an off site data center.

2009 Google Atmosphere Opening Video

CIO for the city of Los Angeles, Randi Levin, said "The public battle to switch the city to Google Apps saved at least $5 million in cash up front, and the actual return will be much greater since LA now has disaster recovery services that would have been much more expensive to create on their own".

Google is shooting for "the 80 percent solution," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt. "Our applications are not full replacements for the incumbents. Our strategy is to get to 80 percent, we think we can provide some real value."

Google Docs is not exactly perfect, some attendees admitted. Excel junkies in the finance department openly revolted at the thought of moving to Google Spreadsheet at two of the early adopters at the Atmosphere event, but that's a small segment of a larger population within their companies that only needs the basics.

Google did announce that it had improved the underlying software beneath the Google Docs suite, making the existing products faster and better capable of preserving document fidelity from offline versions.
Google Docs Blog

So the question at hand, Is Google ready for the Enterprise?

We can see that Google is assembling a number of solutions that are 80% there and can be made Enterprise ready. Just think; Google Apps, Google Voice, Google Chrome, Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Android. This is just the beginning. It has the likes of Microsoft wondering how it should compete. They are launching a beta of Microsoft 2010 that looks promising but may be too little too late. Google is throwing the full weight of its engineering, talent and resources behind this shift to the Enterprise. Our vote is ..

Yes, Google is coming to a business near you.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wireless Voip is growth engine in 2010

Google Voice, Skype, Vonage, the list is growing with VOIP providers and 2010 may be the year where it hits the masses and the mobile operators start to embrace the technology to protect its users from defecting.

The number of consumers using mobile VoIP will approach 288 million by 2013, according to research company In-Stat. Of these users, well over half will get their service from an online mobile VoIP provider, 30% will use it over 3G through a MVNO or wireless operator, and 11% will use a WiMax or an LTE operator. Another research firm, Gartner, has forecasted that in 10 years more than half of mobile voice traffic will be carried end to end using VoIP.

Verizon and Skype recently announced an application co-developed allowing smartphone customers to make and receive unlimited Skype calls and dial out to local and international landlines or wireless numbers using regular Skype calling rates. The calls, however, will traverse Verizon's voice network where they’ll be switched as normal phone calls and passed to the Skype VoIP network. Verizon, however, will still require all Skype users to have a data plan.

T-Mobile has been offering the UMA (unlicensed mobile access) technology which attempts to preserve the characteristics of a traditional GSM call. The company refers refers to it as "GSM over IP." They launched the technology in June 2007, and was meant to give the mobile user a steady connection while at home, UMA requires an 802.11-compatible device to properly connect.

Sprint has been busy working with Google and they announced some details about how they will allow Sprint users to integrate Google Voice into their Sprint service. Sprint has dropped the call forwarding fees associated with third-party voicemail services. Call forwarding on Sprint would cost $0.20 per minute. For example: if a user has their line set to forward to their Google Voice mailbox after a certain number of rings and the caller leaves a 5 minute message, that call would cost the user a buck. No longer, on Sprint. http://www.google.com/voice/sprint

AT&T was the last to the party and recently announced that it will allow its I-Phone customers access to Mobile VOIP solutions. The reason for the delay was most likely the impact to the network and the additional traffic that would clog its pipes.

VoIP has been driven by the likes of cable companies that wanted to disrupt the incumbent phone companies, but now the cable companies see another revenue stream and a potential quad play.

Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge recently disclosed the company is testing a device that uses the WiFi network and will switch to a cellular network outside of the company's footprint. The company offers free WiFi service to its customers in the New York metropolitan area.

"The test is so far proving to be good and consistent with our view of what is possible, and gives us some hope that we will be able to launch additional products using the WiFi network that will look like what some people think of as cellular telephone," he said. Rutledge added that Cablevision has not made any decision as to whether it wants to build its own cellular network or lease capacity, but that the latter would be "a less capital-intensive, higher-return business."

The carriers had to react and open the networks and allow diversity with VOIP, we can now find that consumers and business will have new options for wireless calls in the coming year and in the future. Wireless voice as we know it will no longer matter, it will be who has the best data network and the capacity to allow VOIP to grow.