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Gadgets Mobile

What’s Your BB PIN?

blackberry babes“What’s your BB pin?”

The question is the ultimate social status badge for many young, urban Nigerians. Standing in front of a row of gleaming BlackBerry handsets in a Lagos phone shop, sales assistant Remi Olajuwon explained: “The average Nigerian has a very healthy interest in status and luxury. So if somebody asks for your BlackBerry pin and you don’t have one …” she trailed off with a dismissive flick of her false eyelashes.

Retailing at between $200 (£126) and $2,000 in a country where most live on less than $2 a day, the cost alone made it a status symbol, she added. “People come in to buy one just to show they’ve been promoted.”

Amid sagging sales in Europe and North America, developing markets offer a ray of hope for Research in Motion (RIM), after the maker of BlackBerry posted a $235m loss for the latest quarter. In Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, Africa’s three biggest economies, BlackBerrys outsold smartphone competitors this quarter. Kenya and Ghana also had buoyant sales, officials said.

Around one sixth of Africa’s 620 million active phone subscribers come from Nigeria. Half of Nigeria’s 4 million smartphone owners use BlackBerrys, and use among the wealthiest segment of society is forecast to increase sixfold by 2016.

“There’s a misconception Africans only want cheap phones [but] Nigeria is a key market for us. We’re seen as an aspirational product,” said RIM regional director Waldi Wepenerlast month, after the company opened its first Nigerian store in Lagos’s computer village, a sprawling haven for tech junkies.

With its image increasingly outdated elsewhere, RIM hopes to capitalise on Nigeria’s twin obsessions with status and communication. BlackBerry-related dramas flood newspapers’ agony aunt pages. On social websites, debate rages as to whether a bride photographed using her phone during her wedding ceremony was reading an e-Bible, or was merely a BlackBerry addict. The Nollywood film industry, whose clunkily named movie titles are a good cultural barometer and include delights such as the “Fazebook Babes” series, has recently spawned the hit multisequel “BlackBerry Babes”. The comedy follows a group of scantily clad university girls obsessed with getting the latest phones.

The popularity of BlackBerrys in Nigeria is partly born of necessity. Erratic internet services and a nonexistent landline network are plugged by unlimited data bundles, costing about £12 a month. Unpredictable phone networks force those who can afford it to own two handsets.

“I already have another smartphone, but I need a BlackBerry pin number to socialise with friends and get babes. BlackBerry has an edge because of the pinging,” George Emeka, a university student said, using the colloquial term for its instant messaging service.

Others are getting more bang for their buck. Yahya Balogun, who lives in a Lagos slum, used eight months of savings to buy a secondhand model. The taxi driver has caught on to the growing number of high-end businesses who advertise and communicate using BlackBerry pin numbers as well as traditional means. “All my clients in [upmarket district] Victoria Island own BlackBerrys. It is a good investment,” Balogun said.

In his rundown district where extended families squeeze into single rooms, neighbours frequently browse on his phone. “My daughter can use the internet [for schoolwork],” said neighbour Tosin Alabi, his face lit by the screen’s blue glow during a recent powercut. “Personally myself I can never pay 1,000 naira [£4] every week for internet. And the battery is terrible when I can go for two days without charging my own phone,” he added, indicating a battered Nokia feature phone.

Nokia’s low-cost phones remain the top overall sellers across Africa, though affordable mid-range mobiles could also erode RIM’s top-end dominance, analysts say. Last year, Chinese manufacturer Huawei gobbled up almost half of Kenya’s smartphone market with the launch of its $100 devices powered by Google’s Android software. RIM has felt the heat in South Africa, where, unlike Nigeria, mobile carriers offer packages with Apple iPhones. “You’re only with it if you have an iPhone, preferably the iPhone 5, or Samsung Galaxy SIII,” said Khayakazi Mgojo, based in Pretoria.

A three-day loss of service across Africa and parts of Europe last year was the final straw for some. “I switched because BlackBerry was frustrating me with all its constant freezing at the most inconvenient times, short battery life and the daily reboots,” Mgojo said. Nevertheless she added: “I still use it for social network because it’s cheap compared to buying data bundles.”

RIM hopes to bat away growing competition in its most important African markets by releasing its jazzed up BlackBerry 10 software in South Africa and Nigeria at the same time as other global markets next year. “At a time when Nokia is strengthening its distribution arm in Nigeria and Apple has recently appointed its first official distributor … the opening of the first BlackBerry-branded retail store is a logical step [to remain] the country’s No 1 smartphone vendor,” said Nick Jotischky, an analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media.

And for the consumer there still seems a popular groundswell for RIM’s best known product. Manzo George, a businessman who owns three BlackBerrys, said he had no plans to switch over to an Android phone anytime soon. “When people ask me why not try a new brand smartphone, I tell them there are smartphones and then there are BlackBerrys.”

Outsmarted

The once mighty BlackBerry is no longer a status symbol in western markets, but RIM hopes for a revival on 30 January with the release of its new operating system, BlackBerry 10.

Caught in the crossfire between Apple and Android, RIM has lost market share. Its devices excel at email and instant messaging, making them popular with younger users who cannot afford big phone bills, but the company has been left behind because of its failure to create a smartphone that can efficiently navigate the wider web.

RIM’s worldwide market share stood at nearly 20% in 2009, says research firm Gartner, but has now fallen to 5%. While smartphone sales are booming, RIM’s shipment volumes have fallen 57% in a year, according to IDC resaerch. In June the firm reported its first operating loss since 2004, and set out plans to shrink its headcount by a third, shedding 5,000 jobs.

Source

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Gadgets Mobile

Recent Major Blackberry Outages

Research In Motion (RIM) announced recently that its worst BlackBerry service outage in company history is now over. In light of this event, we have thrown together a quick timeline of the worst BlackBerry outages in recent times with a quick breakdown of each.

In chronological order, starting in the spring of 2007….

1) April 17, 2007

This outage took place on a Wednesday night and lasted into Thursday morning, leaving millions of BlackBerry customers without e-mail. Because the service issue occurred overnight and not during business hours, most North American business people weren’t all that concerned, though many were still frustrated.

Most of the news reports on the outage took a lighthearted stance, and many BlackBerry users joked that the service disruption actually gave them a welcome reprieve from work.

RIM said a data center software update was to blame.

2) February 11, 2008

The BlackBerry outage of February 2008 started in the late afternoon on a Monday and lasted only a few hours, but millions of BlackBerry users across all U.S. wireless carriers were affected. RIM blamed the outage on problems during an expansion of its network infrastructure.

3) November 16, 2009

On Monday, November 16, 2009 a significant BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) outage caused large numbers of BlackBerry users to lose e-mail service for at least a few hours. It’s unclear whether the outage affected regions outside of North America, but BlackBerry customers in the United States on wireless carriers including AT&T and Verizon Wireless reported service disruptions. RIM did not release information on the cause of the outage.

4) December 17 and December 23, 2009

In the wee hours of Thursday, December 17, 2009, millions of BlackBerry users in North American lost BlackBerry e-mail services. RIM didn’t release an official explanation as to why the service was unavailable but around 2 PM, the company issued a statement saying the problem was resolved.

Then, less than a week later, on the night of Tuesday, December 22, RIM was hit with another major service issue that last roughly 8 hours, until early Wednesday December 23. Users in North America and beyond reported issues. RIM said this outage was likely related to a bum BlackBerry Messenger update.

5) October 10, 2011

RIM made it through 2010 without any major BlackBerry outages, but the company made up for it the following year with the most significant and longest lasting outage in its history, beginning on Monday, October 10 and lasting through today, October 13. The outage started outside North America, but by Tuesday, October 11, pockets of North American users were experiencing outages. And on Wednesday, millions of BlackBerry users in the United States and Canada were without e-mail, BlackBerry Messenger and more.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Gadgets Mobile

Blackberry Blues

As a very late adopter of RIM’s Blackberry services, I was just settling down to get high on the proverbial “Crackberry”. Alas, this is not going to be and already, buyer’s remorse is already setting in.

It started out with the usual delay in getting the BIS service enabled on my ergonomically friendly albeit cheap Blackberry Curve 8520. It took calls to a personal friend in Nigeria’s Glo to hasten the process.

Secondly, the grass is definitely not greener elsewhere. Blackberry Internet services is just as slow as other Internet packages. The major reason I settled for the non-3G Blackberry 8520. 3G is almost non existent anyway.

At N2,800 ($18) per month, BIS full monthly subscription on Glo mobile network in Nigeria is still expensive. Unfortunately, the crippled variants of the BIS packages being offered by Glo just do not fit the bill for me. The N1400 ($9) per month “comonth-single email account” option is definitely not good enough.

But I guess the greatest spoiler is the Blackberry outage that took the best of 3 days to resolve. Expectedly, I was quick in putting all the blame on Glo’s doorstep. Glo was however also quick in dissociating itself with the text message it sent out to its subscribers;

Dear subscriber, RIM is presently experiencing some technical issues which affects all carriers in Europe, Middle East & Africa. This has led to temporary BlackBerry service disruption. Full services will be restored as soon as RIM resolves the issues.Glo!

So much for getting high on crackberry!

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Gadgets Mobile

Berry Blast!

When I first read the official announcement of the Blackberry Playbook back in 2010 I said to myself: great, finally a tablet to take on the iPad. But that was more than six months before the actual retail debut. In the meanwhile Apple released the iPad 2 and we’ve also seen a bunch of good Android Honeycomb tablets, all of which have a say in the tablet market today.

Currently the Playbook, with its QNX based operating system, is one of the four choices you have in regards to software. The others are iOS from Apple, Android from Google and webOS from HP, with the latter being on the verge of extinction as the Touchpad tablet was far from a success.

So you would think that RIM is doing just fine on the tablet market, right? Well, for each Playbook sold Apple sells 19 iPads. That’s a huge difference and there are a few reasons why the Blackberry Playbook is not selling that well, some analysts already saying it’s facing the same fate as the HP Touchpad.


I’ve been fortunate enough to get a Blackberry Playbook for testing so I played with it for a few months already, along with the iPad, later upgraded to the iPad 2. I’m not going to compare those tablets here, but I’m going to make a list of the mistakes RIM did that resulted in the Playbook being so low on consumer’s preferences list today.

The biggest mistake, if you ask me, is that RIM launched the Blackberry Playbook tablet without an email client, calendar, messenger and contacts app, relying on a Blackberry smartphone to provide those services over the Blackberry Bridge software. That’s inexcusable as not all consumers have a Blackberry smartphone and because RIM is known for email. Big strategic mistake.

The second mistake was promising the ability to run Android apps, thus opening the gate to tens of thousands titles. The Android emulator is still in works and the App World portal is still scarce on good apps. Apps matter most than anything on a tablet, and RIM still fails to provide sufficient developer incentives to attract new apps.

Lastly I’m going to talk about price: if you offer a smaller tablet, with fewer apps, fewer operating system features (still immature software) and want to take on the king you got to price it lower, not identical to the iPad and iPad 2. If RIM would have priced the Blackberry Playbook at $300 instead of $500 maybe this article wouldn’t have been necessary.

But enough with complaining and end this post on a happy note by acknowledging the strong points of the Blackberry Playbook: excellent performance, including Flash 1080p playback, great form factor, build quality and innovative touch gestures starting on the screen bezel. Because of all these reasons the Blackberry Playbook is 2011’s tablet that could have been.

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How Are The Mighty Fallen

Mike Lazardis, RIM co- CEO, was convinced of BlackBerry’s superior design and feature focus, that you would hear him unequivocally state time and time again that BlackBerry smartphones would never have MP3 players or cameras in them because it just does not make sense when the company’s primary customers were the government and enterprise. “BlackBerry smartphones will never have cameras because the No. 1 customer of ours is the U.S. government,” Mike Lazaridis would say in meetings. “There will never be a BlackBerry with an MP3 player or camera.”

Mike Lazaridis would say that the most ridiculous idea was to name a phone with a marketing-derived name, like the Motorola RAZR. “BlackBerry will never do that, it will always be a model number,” he said to executives. “A BlackBerry with a name is ridiculous.”

Compare and contrast with Steve Jobs who put sneaker to stage at WWDC 2007 and showed off the original iPhone, a device that eschewed the design of the market leaders of the day, RIM’s BlackBerry and Palm’s Treo line. Unlike almost everyone else at the time, the iPhone dropped the keyboard, and replaced the stylus with the finger and multitouch.


Never mind that RIM eventually, reluctantly backtracked and shipped camera totting, MP3 rocking, Bold-ly branded, devices of their own. They failed to see where the market was going, dismissed where it was, and seemed to only angrily react to where it had long since been.

To their credit, Google rapidly switched Android from a BlackBerry clone to an iPhone clone. To their detriment, RIM just kept making BlackBerrys, the same ones that owned the world in 2006, long after the world had moved post-2007.

Steve Jobs, meanwhile, probably isn’t waiting on anyone to obsolete the iPhone. He likely has all of Apple working on doing that themselves.

(TIPB)

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Gadgets Mobile

Tablet Showdown

We looked at the latest challengers to Apple’s iPad 2, and found some worthy contenders. Which tablet came out on top?

THIS YEAR SHAPES up as the year of the tablet—for real, this time—as the hugely popular, impressively svelte Apple iPad 2 competes with an array of challengers, most of them running Android.

For this article, I test-drove ten tablets: Acer’s Iconia Tab A500, Apple’s iPad 2, Asus’s Eee Pad Transformer TF101, Dell’s Streak 7, HTC’s Flyer, Motorola’s Xoom, RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab Wi-Fi and Galaxy Tab 10.1, and T-Mobile’s G-Slate.


Most use Google’s Android 3.x Honeycomb operating system; but the Streak 7 and the 7-inch Galaxy Tab rely on Android 2.2, and the Flyer uses Android 2.3. Apple and RIM each have their own proprietary mobile OSs.

Still more slates are on the way: Android 3.1 tablets from Lenovo and Toshiba, and HP’s WebOS-based TouchPad, did not ship in time for us to include them in this roundup.

For creating content, An-droid Honeycomb models—especially those equipped with memory card slots for expanding storage, and USB ports for adding peripherals and USB mass storage—are very strong. For consuming content, including apps, Apple’s iOS platform remains king, with 90,000 tablet-optimized apps to date.

None of the tablets I auditioned hit every mark. Overall, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the iPad 2 received matching four-star ratings. For now, the iPad 2 retains a slim lead, thanks to its display’s more-natural colors and its vast selection of reasonably easy-to-find tablet-specific apps. Several other units offer unique features: The Eee Pad Transformer has a keyboard dock that transforms the tablet into a netbook; the Xoom supports a software upgrade to 4G LTE; the G-Slate captures 3D video; and the Iconia has a full-size USB A port. But all four stumbled on display quality—and primarily for that reason, the Iconia misses our Top 5 list altogether.

Apple iPad 2

With a slimmer profile and less heft than the first iPad, the iPad 2 is an evolutionary upgrade. The iPad 2 comes in 36 variants with different capacities (16GB, 32GB, or 64GB), bezel colors (black or white), and Wi-Fi-only and 3G (AT&T or Verizon) versions. Prices start at $499, and jump by $100 for each increase in capacity; mobile broadband costs $130 extra.

At 0.34 inch deep, it’s one of the thinnest tablets available. Tapered edges make its profile appear even more svelte, and it’s easy to hold. Weighing 1.33 pounds, the Wi-Fi version is the second-lightest 10-inch tablet (to the Galaxy Tab 10.1).

The iPad 2’s bright 9.7-inch screen produces balanced, accurate colors, but its 1024-by-768-pixel display could be even sharper.

The iPad 2’s simple interface is superb, and its vast array of apps tailored for tablet use helps it remain at the top of our rankings.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Wi-Fi

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Wi-Fi is the first Android tablet to mount an effective challenge to Apple’s iPad 2 in the area where Apple does best: design. The Tab 10.1 parlays its de-sign and its Android 3.1 operating system into a tablet that vaults to the head of the Android pack. The Tab comes in two colors (white or gray) and two capacities (16GB for $499 or 32GB for $599); a Verizon 4G LTE version should arrive by the time you read this.

The Tab 10.1 is 0.34 inch thick—nominally the same as the iPad 2, but actually 0.2mm thinner. It weighs 1.25 pounds, 0.8 pound less than the iPad 2. The Tab 10.1 also feels very well balanced, making it comfortable to hold in one hand or two.

The first Honeycomb tablet to ship with Android 3.1 installed, the Tab 10.1 benefits from all of 3.1’s enhancements (better image rendering, resizable widgets, some interface tweaks, and greater stability among them). Samsung also includes Google’s Android Movie Maker and Quickoffice with the tablet, but surprisingly Adobe Flash is not preinstalled.

Like other Android tablets in our Top 5, the Tab 10.1 is an Nvidia Tegra 2 system, with a dual-core 1GHz CPU and 1GB of memory. Sadly, you get no ports on-board beyond the docking port; instead, you must buy $30 dongles to add HDMI, USB, or SD Card functionality.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101

At $399 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model (or $499 for a 32GB Wi-Fi model), the Transformer is the least expensive Android 3.0 tablet yet. Asus’s unique $149 Mo bile Docking Station option turns the tablet into a keyboard-equipped laptop.

The Transformer’s 10.1-inch display dominates its front face, while an array of buttons, ports, and slots are distributed along the edges. It weighs 1.5 pounds. Measuring 10.7 by 6.9 by 0.5 inches, the Transformer is 1.2 inches longer than the Apple iPad 2, a bit of extra length that allows the Transformer to connect to the Mobile Docking Station and create a clamshell laptop.

The snap-on docking station approach is a design coup: It provides unmatched convenience and portability. Even better, the 1.41-pound Mobile Docking Station adds an extra battery, a keyboard that’s 92 percent of full size, a touchpad, two USB 2.0 ports, and an SD Card slot.

The Transformer has the same Tegra 2–based guts as other Android tablets here. It ships with Android 3.0.1, but has an over-the-air up-grade to 3.1. Asus tweaked the native Honeycomb interface in minor but welcome ways (improved left-nav softkeys! custom keyboard with bright, clear letters and a number row!) and provided file-management customization for handling USB media. Flash isn’t preinstalled, but you’ll find a link that points to the app in Android Market.

I didn’t like the noticeable flex of the textured plastic back or the minute gaps between the metal frame and the scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass screen. But the port and button locations are well executed. On board you’ll find a Mini HDMI port and a MicroSDHC card slot.

The IPS display looked great in most situations, with a wide angle of view, but our test photos’ colors appeared way off. Still, if you plan to use your tablet mainly for productivity, the Mobile Docking Station makes the Transformer a fine choice.

Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi

The first An droid Honeycomb tablet to launch, the Xoom ($599 for the Wi-Fi version or $800 with a Verizon contract) has held its own against later models, staying in the mix.

Verizon hasn’t announced pricing for its LTE upgrade, but at least it is upgradable if you buy the Verizon version. Still to come: support for the MicroSDHC slot.

With the Android 3.1 up-date, the Xoom delivers consistently good-looking images, though colors tend a tad toward blue. You’ll have to install Flash on your own, though. The Xoom runs on the same Nvidia Tegra 2 platform as the other Android tablets here. At 1.6 pounds, it’s the heaviest model in our Top 5, too heavy for comfortable one-handed use.

The Xoom is optimized for landscape use. The power button is at back (alongside the 5-megapixel camera); along the bottom are Micro-USB and Mini HDMI ports.

T-Mobile G-Slate

T-Mobile’s 8.9-inch-diagonal G-Slate splits the difference between netbook-size slates and the tablet models that feel like oversize phones. The G-Slate’s big differentiator be sides its size is that it has twin cameras for 3D video capture.

The G-Slate’s dimensions are modest (9.6 by 5.9 by 0.5 inches), yet it provides a pleasing amount of screen real estate. The contoured sides make holding the tablet easy, but it felt thicker and heavier (at 1.37 pounds) than I would have liked.

Two speakers run along the bottom edge (when the tablet is vertical), and one is at the opposite edge, next to the small power button. So no matter how you hold the G-Slate, you’ll get stereo audio. The volume rocker sits at the right side (or top edge) of the tablet. Unfortunately, the speakers’ volume is woefully inadequate.

Sad to say, the G-Slate lacks a memory card slot for extra storage, and Adobe Flash is not preinstalled (though a link is available).

Two 5-megapixel cameras at the back are spaced for recording 720p high-def video in 3D, which you can play back on the display. T-Mobile tosses in a pair of anaglyph glasses for viewing. In my hands-on informal testing, the 3D recording worked well if I recorded my subjects head-on. If you’re not recording in 3D, the camcorder captures in 1080p.

The G-Slate ($530 after re bate and with a two-year T-Mobile contract; $750 sans contract) has appealing features, but it’s worth the investment only if you’re willing to lock into a contract.

(PCWorld)

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RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook: A Promising Tablet

RESEARCH IN Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook ($500 for 16GB version, $600 for 32GB, and $700 for 64GB) offers a convenient size and novel navigation, but its software can be frustrating.
In some respects, the PlayBook is the most impressive tablet I’ve seen. But native apps such as its browser have disappointing glitches, and its variety of third-party apps is limited.


The PlayBook is compact and light. Offering a 7-inch display (which is significantly smaller than the 9.7-inch screen of the iPad 2), it can fit into a roomy coat pocket. And its weight is just under 1 pound, which makes it 28 percent lighter than the 1.3-pound iPad 2. The PlayBook is very easy to hold, too.

In landscape orientation, the PlayBook’s 3-megapixel front-facing camera sits at center top. On the back top is a 5-megapixel camera.

The stereo speakers offer the best audio output I’ve heard yet from a tablet.

Along the bottom of the tablet are three ports, for HDMI Micro, Micro-USB, and a magnetic rapid charger connection. (A Micro-USB wall charger is included.)

Powering the tablet is a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of memory. It connects to 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, but a mobile broadband connection must wait until late summer, when RIM will release 4G LTE and WiMax versions. The tablet has no memory expansion card slot.

The PlayBook runs RIM’s new BlackBerry Tablet OS, which has a fresh look and feel; its swipe-based touchscreen navigation is novel and innovative, albeit with a few bumps. While it looks complex, navigation is intuitive and quickly becomes second nature. The PlayBook is also responsive: Screens refresh quickly. On the whole, RIM’s approach to navigation is easier to use and more flexible than that of the iPad 2’s iOS 4.3.

The PlayBook’s handling of video, music, and pictures is a mixed bag. It does some things extraordinarily well. For example, if you leave an app that’s in the middle of playing a video, and then return later, the PlayBook instantly resumes the video where you left off.

You can buy music on a PlayBook through 7digital, the same DRM-free store you can shop via a BlackBerry phone. RIM plans to offer a video store as well.

The on-screen keyboard has some minuses, such as no autocorrection. And it also feels cramped—not surprising, with a 7-inch screen. A bigger issue is that the rows of keys are not staggered as QWERTY keyboards almost always are, throwing off touch typing.

RIM stocks the PlayBook with a solid complement of preinstalled apps, but with some notable omissions.

The strongest software on board is Adobe Reader and the three productivity apps—Word To Go, Sheet To Go, and Slideshow To Go—that stem from RIM’s acquisition of DataViz. These apps provide interoperability with Microsoft Office documents, and allow for document editing and creation.

The PlayBook doesn’t include any calendar, contact, or e-mail apps. Instead, you’re expected to use a feature called BlackBerry Bridge to pair your PlayBook with a BlackBerry phone, viewing your phone data on the PlayBook’s bigger screen. As a substitute for a native mail app, RIM offers four app icons—one each for AOL Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo Mail—that redirect to those Web-based mail sites rather than to an installed mail app.

Businesspeople who already depend on BlackBerry phones should value both the way those phones will interact with the PlayBook and the built-in security of the platform. For that audience, those capabilities will override many of the PlayBook’s other weaknesses.

(PCWorld)

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Gadgets Mobile

So You Want A Tablet?

Scan the headlines, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that everybody had a tablet these days. The iPad broke the market open, and since that point we’ve seen a torrent of rivals each trying to take the touchscreen crown. It’s a tricky segment to judge, and even harder if you’re trying to take your first steps into tableteering. Get up to speed with your options – and advice on which slate to select – after the cut!

 

iOS vs Android (or something else?)

The big battle right now is between iOS, on Apple’s iPad, and Android Honeycomb, on various tablets from Samsung, Motorola, ASUS and others. Apple’s iPad 2 follows the original iPad in leading the consumer tablet market, with a clear and user-friendly UI, competitive prices and that all-important fashion factor. There’s a huge number of iPad-specific apps – Apple suggested over 90,000 at WWDC 2011 – and with dominant market share that figure is only increasing.

Android Honeycomb is neither as instantly-accessible nor as widespread or mature as iOS but, as with Android phones, the range of manufacturers adopting the platform means it’s accelerating fast. Tablet-specific apps are less prevalent in the Android Market, though that’s something else we’d expect to change sooner rather than later.

“You can quite happily be an iPhone user and a Honeycomb tableteer”

Your decision may well be pushed by what software is running on your phone: if you’re already an iPhone user, then iOS on the iPad 2 will feel more familiar than Honeycomb, and vice versa, and you can also reuse apps you’ve already bought. Still, there’s not actually a huge amount of integration between the two platforms’ phone and tablet versions. You can quite happily be an iPhone user and a Honeycomb tableteer, in fact, and the most the two will ever need to play together is if you use WiFi hotspot sharing on your phone.

Some of the tablet outliers will be better integrated. HP’s TouchPad, which will go on sale on July 1, will offer clever tap-sharing functionality with webOS smartphones like the Pre3 and Veer. Decide you want a bit more space for the webpage you’re browsing on your Pre3, and by tapping the phone on the TouchPad it automatically opens up in the webOS slate’s browser. Similarly, contacts and other information can be swapped around.

The most extreme integration comes with the BlackBerry PlayBook. It runs QNX while RIM’s latest smartphones run BlackBerry 6, but certain core apps on the PlayBook – like email and calendar – don’t just take advantage of but depend entirely on their counterparts on a BlackBerry phone. An update later in the year will enable native apps, but until then there’s a significant penalty if you’re not a BlackBerry phone user but you buy a PlayBook.

Then there’s Windows 7. Microsoft’s OS may be the big player on the desktop, but when it comes to tablets it’s had trouble expanding beyond vertical markets and niche segments. Artists and doctors appreciate the precision and flexibility of an accurate digital stylus, but consumers seem to prefer to use their hands. Unfortunately, Windows 7?s UI falls well short of finger-friendliness, and a reliance on x86 hardware means that while Windows slates may well be fast, they also drain their batteries quickly too.

So which should I buy?

If you’re already heavily invested in an existing ecosystem – whether you have an iPhone full of iOS apps or a DROID packed with Android software – then it makes sense to pick up a tablet running the same platform. That way you can generally keep using what you’ve already paid for. Even if you’ve stuck with free apps only, there are still cases where an iOS title isn’t available on Android or vice-versa, so you may have to spend some time researching alternatives.

For beginners and those who want their tablet to “just work” there’s a lot to be said for the iPad 2. It’s easy to use, offers lashings of third-party software and the stability Apple has become renowned for. Most of our lingering complaints – the absence of wireless synchronization, the janky notifications and other frustrations – will generally be addressed in iOS 5, which will be released this fall.

Android is less mature, though there are still benefits for opting for Google’s platform over iOS. One is the range of hardware on offer: Motorola’s XOOM will soon come with 4G connectivity on Verizon’s LTE network in the US; Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 beats the iPad 2 when it comes to being thin and light; and ASUS’ Eee Pad Transformer can be paired with a clever battery-packing QWERTY keyboard for easier text-input and longer runtimes.

“If you’re looking for unusual features then Android is the platform most likely to deliver”

Alternatively there’s T-Mobile’s G-Slate (aka the LG Optimus Pad) which can shoot 3D high-def video, or the HTC Flyer which – although not yet running Honeycomb – has a clever digital pen for note-taking and sketching. If you’re looking for unusual features then Android looks to be the platform most likely to deliver, as OEMs jostle to find a unique sales angle. The SlashGear favorites are probably the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for general users and the Eee Pad Transformer for those wanting to create and edit documents while on the move.

RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook is interesting, but falls short of mainstream appeal. If you’re an existing BlackBerry user and your corporate IT department is wary about data security then the PlayBook’s reliance on your locked-down RIM phone could prove appealing, and the compact, dual-core 7-inch slate is certainly not short on power. Nonetheless, we’d be reluctant to pick one up until the Canadian company polishes the software experience.

The HP TouchPad could be the wildcard. We’ve long held that webOS is ideally suited – perhaps more than any recent mobile platform – to larger-screen devices like tablets, and what we’ve seen of the 9.7-inch TouchPad so far looks to bear that out. On the downside, there’s even less third-party software out there for the slate, and its clever tap technology depends on users also picking up a new webOS smartphone. We’ll have to wait until review units are available to know whether the TouchPad really is a legitimate iPad/Honeycomb rival.

What’s further down the pipeline?

The most movement will be around Android, especially as Google prepares to launch Android Ice Cream Sandwich in Q4 2011. That will bring together the different elements of Honeycomb as well as Android for smartphones and for Google TV into a single package. Innovative form-factors like the ASUS PadFone – which consists of an Android smartphone that docks into a larger tablet housing – are also expected later this year.

Before then, though, we’ll see a broader range of screen sizes, including the 8.9-inch version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the 7-inch ViewSonic ViewPad 7x and Acer Iconia Tab A100, and – if the rumors are true – larger versions of HTC’s Flyer. ASUS’ Eee Pad Slider will offer a physical keyboard in August, while Toshiba’s Thrive will have more ports than we’ve seen on an Android tablet so far.

The iPad 3 isn’t expected until early 2012, and right now all specifications are just rumor rather than Apple fact. It’s tipped to follow the iPhone 4 and have a high-resolution “Retina Display” and there’s even talk of 3D, while higher-resolution front and rear cameras seem likely. The 3G enabled models could well get an upgrade to 4G, network-depending.

Windows 8 will also arrive in 2012, and promises to be far more tablet-friendly. A new interface will put more emphasis on touchscreen control and carry across some of the UI lessons Microsoft has learned from Windows Phone. Meanwhile, the Windows on ARM project – backed by TI, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and others – will see low-cost, ultra-frugal chips (yet still capable of 1080p video and gaming) more commonly found in Android slates powering Microsoft’s platform.

Wrap-Up

It’s tough to recommend a Windows 7 tablet or the BlackBerry PlayBook to regular users. Each have their advantages, but there’s a fair amount of frustration there too. Right now, it’s an iOS/Android battlefield, though the imminent HP TouchPad could well prove to be a wildcard.

Those looking for out-of-the-box reliability and predictability should probably begin their search looking at Apple’s iPad 2. Alternatively, Android Honeycomb tablets like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer offer compelling reasons to consider them: Flash support in the browser, a more open attitude toward third-party apps and greater flexibility in form factor.

 

SLASHGEAR

Categories
Gadgets

Ten Reasons Why BlackBerry Is Screwed

RIM, the maker of BlackBerry, was absolutely destroyed today in the stock market. But that’s just part of the story. RIM is screwed.

1. Subpar Phones

RIM’s current lineup of phones is subpar, to say the least. Worse, basically none of the current models will get the marginally newer and better BlackBerry OS 7.0 update. Yet, RIM says there are going to be “delays in new product introductions into the very late part of August.” Ugh.

2. Upcoming leaked products are boooooooring

Just look what is coming up next, supposedly: Stuff like the BlackBerry Bold 9900. Sure, it’ll run BlackBerry OS 7 and might have a touchscreen! But it’s also the same handset RIM has been pumping out for the last five years.

3. The Playbook

RIM’s jump into the tablet market has been pretty floppy. The PlayBook is impressive under the hood and we liked it, at first. But the lack of basic features like email—something BlackBerry is very known for!—and a basically deserted app store makes it non-buyable. For basically anyone.

4. Blackberry App World is a ghost town

BlackBerry App World debuted in 2009 and had about 26,000 applications as of April 2011. Android had over 200,000 apps and iOS was pushing 350,000. More importantly, the number of quality apps? A barren wasteland.

5. Developers hate making BlackBerry apps

It’s a bad sign when a developer who wants to code for your platform, throws up his hands in exasperation and says “screw it.” It’s even worse when that letter is posted on the Internet, goes viral and many nod in agreement.

6. Financials are in ruins

RIM’s latest quarterly earnings were lower than expected. Terribly so. The expectation for next quarter has been cut 20 percent and serious layoffs loom. Hope you weren’t planning on using your RIM stock to fund your retirement.

7. Leadership is struggling

RIM still has two CEOs, neither of which is a bold, innovative leader, even if Mike Lazaridis is an engineering genius. The pair spent a large portion of RIM’s recent earnings conference call justifying why this co-leadership is a good thing. How about they just prove it with awesome phones and tons of happy users?

8. Even BlackBerry owners don’t want BlackBerrys

A survey from last year suggested more than half of current BlackBerry owners were going to switch to Android or iOS. Enough said.

9. Enterprise interest is falling

This is death. RIM has a stronghold in the corporate world, but its grip is loosening. In the past, everyone from the CEO to the office manager had a BlackBerry on their hip. Slowly but surely, those BlackBerry handsets are being replaced with iPhones and Droids. Even the iPad is gaining ground. Apple’s Tim Cook said recently that “more than 80 percent” of Fortune 100 companies are testing out the iPad.

10. Other companies are eating RIM’s lunch

RIM’s biggest advantage was its push email and BlackBerry Messenger service. Now just about every smartphone platform has push email (in some form) and Apple’s new iMessage is gunning for BBM. BlackBerry OS 7 is already behind, and it’s not even out yet. Just look at the voice control and navigation built into Android.

Co-CEO Mike Lazardis tried to put a positive spin on the company’s “transitional” period when he said, “RIM has taken a unique path, and why we do things might not be obvious from the outside.” Someone needs to tell big Mike that it’s time to do away with this smokescreen and start releasing quality handsets ASAP. If it doesn’t, RIM is going to end up like Palm.

 

Source – Gizmodo

Categories
Articles

Apple closing in on Nokia as top smartphone maker

IDC findings

Despite all the hate (and love) for the iPhone, you gotta admit one thing – it sells. And it sells very well. According to a recent report released by the IDC, it looks like Apple is closing the gap between them and the number one smartphone manufacturer in the world, Nokia. The Cupertino-based company has overtaken RIM (pioneers of the smartphone) to take the runner up position behind the Finnish giants.