Author Archive | Ed Oswald

The Windows 8 Logo Defines Microsoft’s Future

There you have it, Microsoft’s new logo for Windows 8. It’s a dramatic departure from the logos of the past, where color and flashiness took an increasing role, and it looked less like a window and more like a flag. But why so minimalist? It accurately portrays Windows’ future.

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Kindle Fire: Not A iPad Killer, But…

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is making its mark on the tablet sector, grabbing a 14 percent share of the market and skyrocketing into second place in the market after you-know-what, IHS iSuppli has found. Amazon’s success came at the expense of Apple, whose share of tablets fell to 57 percent, however the company says it was the iPhone 4S that may have put a crimp in iPad sales.

Consumers who may have otherwise snatched up the iPad during the quarter instead opted for the iPhone 4S, causing shipments to fall short of the company’s estimates. “The rollout of the iPhone 4S in October generated intense competition for Apple purchasers’ disposable income, doing more to limit iPad shipment growth than competition from the Kindle Fire and other media tablets”, tablet analyst Rhoda Alexander says.

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Here’s More Evidence Why Mac OS Means Less to Apple

The anti-Apple crowd loves to point out that Apple’s Mac market share, while up dramatically over the past few years, still pales in comparison to the overall PC business. What many of them miss is the simple fact that the Mac platform is less and less important to Apple as it continues to post strong sales of iOS devices.

iOS is the future, and that future is now if you believe statistics released by advertising analytics company Chitika Insights on Friday. Its data shows that for the first time, Web market share for iOS surpassed that of Mac OS. This shouldn’t be surprising considering the 133 million-plus iOS devices sold during the year.

Since September of last year, Mac share has fallen about 25 percent to 7.96 percent of Web traffic, while iOS has exploded 50 percent in the same period to 8.15 percent of the market. Where did that growth come from?

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Google’s Dickens Doodle Gives Google Books Top Billing

Google is using its Google Doodle Tuesday to commemorate the 200th birthday of novelist Charles Dickens. While the Doodles in the past have traditionally linked to search results based on the illustration’s subject, this one does it a bit differently: top billing is given to free e-book results from the Google Books service.

Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 and over his 58 years penned some of the most well known literary works of the 19th Century. Google’s doodle is a collage of some notable characters within his books, including Great Expectations and Oliver Twist.

“Our Google Books editorial team curated a collection of free and featured Dickens classics available in the Google eBookstore in Dickens’ native land (United Kingdom) and some Commonwealth countries (Canada, Australia) as well as the US”, Google eBooks Associate Ariel Levine writes in a blog post describing the doodle, and its move to promote Google Books.

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Which Phone OS Crashes More? It’s Not Android

The argument that iOS is a much more stable operating system than Android has been repeated on the blogs and even in the comment threads of stories about the two operating systems. There’s a problem, though: the data indicates that is untrue.

Mobile app monitoring company Crittercism released data Friday on crash reports from the period December 1 through December 15, and saying iOS has stability issues is putting it nicely. By a 2-to-1 margin, iOS crashes much more frequently than Android, according to Crittercism’s report. The biggest offender is iOS 5.0.1, accounting for 28.64 percent of all crashes.

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The Lumia 710 is Free, But Don’t Panic

The tech blogosphere’ collective head is spinning as Wal-Mart has dropped the price of Nokia’s first commercially available Windows Phone device in the US — the Lumia 710 — to free. Immediately, people began swing that this was a sure sign that the release is a bust: surely a device selling well wouldn’t be available for nothing so quickly? Or would it?

Look, it’s Wal-Mart were talking about here. Land of “Always Low Prices, Always.. Something tells me that we shouldn’t make judgements on the success of a device merely on this retailer’s pricing strategy. It could simply be that Wal-Mart wants to sell more phone. Let’s also consider the competitive landscape.

With the absolute glut of Android phones out there, there are quite a few devices on the market at that “free” price point. Wal-Mart has many of these devices because they fit into the demographic of their consumers: budget-conscious. The Lumia 710 is a great midrange phone, and is similar in functionality to those free devices.

Also look at Best Buy and T-Mobile: both still sell the device for $49.99 with a two-year contract. While Wal-Mart’s decision may accelerate their plans to discount the phone, they certainly are in no rush to join Wal-Mart in the race to the bottom. Nokia has only offered that these phones are selling “well”, so we really have no clue how things are going.

So take a breath, and let the market judge whether Nokia’s gamble was a smart one.


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Facebook Pumps Up The Volume

In Facebook’s never-ending quest to get you to stay on its site even longer, the site has rolled out a new feature for music services on the social networking site. Now, when those music statuses appear on your newsfeed, clicking on their name will pop up a window with a button to “Listen With” that friend. Making it even more fun, you’ll start the music at the exact same point, essentially allowing your friend to play DJ.

The listen feature will works in both individual and group settings. Those friends listening to music will show a music note beside their name. Initially Spotify, Mog, and Rdio are supported, although Facebook says other services are on their way.

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The Big Winner of CES 2012 Is… Microsoft?

For a company whose CES swan song is this year, and whose CEO gave a pretty boring keynote address, Microsoft seems to have had an uncommonly successful CES. Windows Phone went into the show a struggling also-ran mobile operating system, and very well may have come out of it a contender.

Why’s that? Two phones made their debut at the show, the Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC Titan II. Both have been getting glowing reviews from the press for their form and function. Finally it appears Microsoft has devices that look compelling. It couldn’t do much worse: there’s only one way and that’s up!

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The Slippery Slope of Android Differentiation

I know I’ve been piling on Android as of late, but I just can’t ignore comments from Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha. Speaking to the Verge at CES on Wednesday, Jha says that phone makers will continue to skin Google’s operating system with their own interfaces, making the possibility of a purer Android experience seem more remote than ever.

Motorola “has to make money” he says, and “the vast majority of the changes we make to the OS are to meet the requirements that carriers have”. Wait, haven’t we heard this before? On Monday, I wrote that Google no longer has any control over Android, ceding most of it to carriers and it seems, the manufacturer as well.

The problem is that there are just too many Android phones. That makes phones from different manufacturers awfully similar, which makes it hard for any one model to sell well based on sheer distinctiveness. So carriers layer their own user interface tweaks over Android in an attempt to be different.

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Ads Get More Intrusive on Facebook

Users of Facebook are reporting that Sponsored Stories are moving from their original position interspersed with standard Facebook ads to the news feed itself, a change that is sure to ruffle the feathers of many. While the ad cannot appear unless the user likes the advertiser’s Facebook page, it certainly feels quite intrusive.

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You may not realize you’re even being hit with an ad unless you read the timestamp closely: Facebook marks the sponsored post as “featured”. Rolling over the tag shows the text “You are seeing this because you like (insert company name). A sponsor paid to place it here”.

Other types of Sponsored Stories allow advertisers to hit up your friends even though they may not like the page, but this type will not. Facebook is smart enough to realize that sticking an ad in the face of somebody who may not care to see it wouldn’t be such a smart idea.

According to Inside Facebook, which looks to be the first to find out about the new ads, the social networking company is performing a gradual rollout. Initially the sponsored news feed posts will be limited to one per day, and won’t be shown on mobile devices. It’s not clear where Facebook plans to take the sponsored stories from there, though.

Either way, I’m not happy about this. My news feed is to find out about the things I care about, not to be pestered with ads. Add to this the fact that it may not be clear that they are ads, and it really bothers me. The only reason Facebook is doing this is because these ads will be worth a lot of money, and on top of that likely have a higher click-through rate as a result of their prominence.

Where does it end?


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