During an internal Samsung event to mark the 43rd anniversary of Samsung Electronics, a subsidiary of the Samsung Group which is responsible for creating Samsung’s Android smartphones, the company’s CEO called on all executives and employees to find new growth engines to help Samsung succeed during the coming years. Kwon Oh-hyun, Samsung Electronics vice chairman and CEO said to those gathered, “If you are satisfied with what you have achieved so far, then we will fall down suddenly. For a bright future, Samsung shouldn’t stop its vigorous efforts to find the next cash generators.”
In the old days (of like 24 hours ago) companies like Samsung, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments made ARM chips, while Intel and AMD made x86 based CPUs. Simple. Well not any more. AMD have announced that not only will it make x86 based CPUs but it will now make ARM based chips as well.
ARM based processors, which tech companies license from the British company ARM Holdings, are the most widely used 32-bit CPUs around. They can be found in a whole variety of devices including the majority of Android, Apple and Microsoft based smartphones and tablets.
Did you know that you can use NFC to send things like contacts and web page URLs between an Android device and a Windows Phone 8 device? Well you can! In tests between a HTC Windows Phone 8X and a Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean it has been shown that URLs and contacts can be sent between the devices, in both directions. However, using NFC on Android is a little simpler and requires less taps than on Windows Phone 8.
Was there a time when you were a bit envious of iTunes because of the huge number of apps available for iOS devices? Did the words “there’s an app for that’ set your teeth on edge? Well no more. Google has announced that there are now around 700,000 apps available to download from the Play Store. This now means that Google can boast it matches Apple, who recently also stated that its iTunes Store has more than 700,000 apps.
There are two types of ARM based development boards in the world today, the cheap ones like the Raspberry Pi and the expensive ones like the new Arndale board which has just been announced by Samsung. The Raspberry Pi starts at $35 for the basic board while the Arndale starts at $250. Quite a difference. But, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. The Arndale comes packed with power!
The Arndale uses Samsung’s Exynos 5 dual core Cortex-A15 processor running at 1.7 GHz and includes 2GB of RAM. There is also 4GB of internal storage and a whole load of connectivity options. The board supports the use of a touch screen display as well as HDMI, plus there are connections for NFC, USB 3.0, Ethernet, GPS, Wi-Fi, SATA and a camera.
In the good old days, Microsoft did software and everyone else made the hardware, even on the Macintosh platform Apple made the hardware and Microsoft added Office etc. But those days are gone. Today, any serious contender in the post-PC era designs the hardware and the software. Apple do it, Google do it, Amazon do it and now, with the advent of the Surface tablet and Windows 8, Microsoft do it. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, has told the BBC that the Redmond company won’t stop at the Surface and that it has other hardware plans.
Although Nokia has released details of its upcoming Windows Phone 8 smartphones, it is still releasing phones based on the older version of Windows Phone. In this case, the just launched Lumia 510 runs Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. The new Lumia 510 is aimed at the low-end of the smartphone market and really isn’t going to be a threat to anything that Samsung, HTC or Sony are shipping.
The entry-level smartphone does have one thing going for it though, it features a 4-inch display which was unexpected as the Lumia 610 and Lumia 710 both have 3.7-inch displays. All three phones have a screen resolution of 800 by 480 pixels. However, besides the display the phone is definitely low-end. There is no front facing camera and the rear camera, although 5 megapixels, has no flash and can only record video in 640 x 480.
Back in the day Google’s search engine made directory type sites (like Yahoo!) obsolete because now everything could be found using a search tern, but the Google Play Store is essentially a directory of apps. Every time I use it to try and find an app I think I am back in the mid-90s. Surely Google must be able to take the mighty power of its search engine and combine it with some clever technology (like the bits that power Google News) and come up with a better way for Android users to find apps. The fact that services like AppBrain exist means that Google has more it could do.
If Google really is trying to create a budget tablet it will likely start a new “race to the bottom”. Although traditionally used as a socio-economic term to describe the taxation policies of countries or states, the concept can be equally applied to building cheaper and cheaper consumer devices to boost sales. The problem with the race to the bottom is something needs to be sacrificed to reach the low costs. In economics, work force regulations, wages and taxes are offered on the altar to attract businesses to a given area. In consumer electronics what is sacrificed is quality, features and usability.
Assuming Google launch a $99 tablet, it is likely that other big names will try something similar. The problem is that once these devices get into the hands of consumers they will find that their expectations haven’t been met and this will irreparably damage the Android and Nexus brands.
When Google bought Motorola it was hoped that Google would turn the handset and tablet manufacturer into a shining example of how Android can be used in its stock, unaltered flavor and how a smartphone manufacturer should support its customers in terms of updates and upgrades. However, so far, that hasn’t been true.
A good example is the RAZR M and RAZR HD phones which Motorola distribute via Verizon. These phones don’t ship with Android 4.1, the latest and greatest released version of Android and nor do they come with a pure, unadulterated version. Instead owners of these new phones get Android 4.0 with a Verizon skin and extra Verizon software.