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Friday, September 30, 2011

To Beat Apple, Amazon's Trying To Be Apple

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pitches the Kindle Fire tablet at today's unveiling.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pitches the Kindle Fire tablet at today's unveiling.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
commentary The long-awaited Amazon tablet is finally here, or at least will be when it ships out to consumers in early November.
Make no mistake about it, the 7-inch Kindle Fire--which was announced at an event this morning--has its sights set on Apple's iPad, as well as the bevy of other tablets that have hit the market. It lets users browse and buy touch-based applications, while tapping into any and all of Amazon's services, including the company's Web store. Amazon is also luring in buyers with a $199 price tag that comes in lower than most tablets.
But where Amazon is really trying to differentiate itself, and potentially get a leg up on Apple is by pulling a trick or two from the same playbook. In other words, to beat Apple, it's trying to be Apple.
The new tablet represents a total package of what users can get on other platforms if they were to add all of the company's apps together. On Android for instance, you can download Amazon's store application, its music player, and apps that tap into other Amazon services. With the Fire, you get them all when you first turn on the device.
Yet Amazon's also trying to create a custom user experience by including its own application store and Web browser called Silk. The Web browser is one of the key areas where Amazon can differentiate itself from Apple and other rivals, making use of its Elastic Compute Cloud technology to speed up browsing for tablet users by pre-loading some content ahead of when a user visits that page. By comparison, Apple's Safari uses a traditional browser design that makes its own direct connections to sites on the Internet.
Related stories:
Read how the event went down 
Amazon unveils trio of Kindle e-ink readers 
ZDNet: Amazon's Kindle Fire just nuked the tablet market: Winners and losers
The browser makes up just a part of Amazon's larger Web strategy though. To ease buyers into buying digital goods, Amazon is making use of its cloud services, letting tablet users store their content on Amazon's servers free of charge.
For the past several months Apple's begun offering something identical as part of its iCloud service, letting users re-download digital content they've purchased from its stores and sync things up between devices. There again, Amazon's competing with that strategy using its Whispersync technology, which can sync up downloads, bookmarks, notes highlights, and a user's place in books and video content.
Media is another area where Amazon has taken a page from Apple's playbook, working out deals with media companies to deliver it to users through its various stores. Just last week, for instance, the company signed a streaming deal with 20th Century Fox to bring its programming to Amazon's streaming video service, one that Fire users will have out of the box. All told, that adds up to 17 million songs, 1 million books, and 100,000 movies and TV shows. The Fire also represents the first device from Amazon itself offering magazines in full-color.
Where Amazon continues to be different, however, is how it's approaching its presence on other platforms. While users must buy an Apple product to get Apple's software (short of the company's Safari Web browser), Amazon continues to offer its software and experience on other platforms, including other Android tablets. The Fire is the company's first effort to really make that experience its own. Something to watch for following the Fire's release is if Amazon chooses to take another page from Apple's book, and begin building an experience others can't.

Samsung To Launch Flexible Phone Next Year

London, Sept 27 (ANI): A mobile phone with a screen that bends and can survive the hardest blows, even a strike from a hammer, might sound fairly futuristic, but you could soon own it.
In the first of its kind, Samsung is reportedly poised to release a revolutionary phone that will be so flexible that you can even roll it up.
According to International Business Times, Samsung's 'Galaxy Skin' - unveiled as a concept earlier this year - could be on sale as early as Spring 2012, reports the Daily Mail.
The phone will offer a high-resolution 800x480 flexible AMOLED screen, eight megapixel camera and 1Gb of RAM as well as a 1.2GHz processor.
The technology relies on atom-thick layers of 'graphene' sandwiched together, protecting a layer of liquid crystal 'screen'.
Phones using Graphene screens would be practically unbreakable, and offer an instant advantage over every other smartphone on the market.
"AMOLED is already the mobile screen technology to beat, so if it's as good as promised, flexible AMOLED could put an end to smashed smartphone displays - and tablets, which are even more fragile," Will Findlater, editor of Stuff magazine, told the Daily Mail.
"The potential for tablets that can fold to the size of a smartphone is especially exciting - you could have two gadgets for the price of one," he added.
Samsung, however, has made no official announcement regarding the product. (ANI)

Amazon’s Kindle Ffire Launched For $199

Bangalore: Amazon launched its much awaited Kindle fire tablet for $199, the latest--and possibly biggest--challenger to Apple Inc.'s dominant iPad.The $199 device that will run on modified version of Google's Android operating system has a 7-inch screen nd can access Amazon's app store, streaming movies and TV shows.
The tablet will go on sale from Nov 15 and the pre-orders will start from today.
Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos said, "We asked ourselves, Is there some way we can bring all of these things together [web service, Prime, Kindle, instant video and its app store] into a remarkable product offering customers would love. Yes there is Kindle Fire," during the launch.
The cheapest new Kindle will cost $79, and dispenses with the keyboard the Kindles have carried since the first model launched in 2007. Previously, the cheapest Kindle cost $114.
Amazon is also bringing out the first black-and-white Kindle with a touch screen. It will cost $99 and is reminiscent of Barnes & Noble's latest Nook. A version with access to AT&T's cellular network for book downloads will cost $149.
Bezos said that most of the content is backed up in the cloud, and that the device features wireless synching. The specifications are however lower when compared to higher end tablets in the category. Though it has a dual core processor and is 3G enabled, it lacks other features like camera and a microphone. Fire includes an IPS display, an ultra-wide viewing angle, and fast dual-core processor
On the e-reader front, Bezos said the Kindle Touch e-book includes an advanced E Ink display, infrared touch interface, extra long battery life, access to millions of e-books, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, Audible integration, and more, including a feature known as X-Ray, which shows the "bones" of a book, or details Amazon thinks a reader would find interesting.
It would be interesting to see how it survives in an already crowded tablet market. So far Apple's iPad has been the most popular tablet for its ease of use, elegant design and selection of over 90,000 apps. The iPad has sold 29 million versions since its introduction, owning more than two-thirds of the market.
So far, iPad rivals like HP's touchpad, Research in Motion's Playbook, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s Galaxy Tab and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.'s Xoom have failed to attract mass audiences

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Young India Hooked To Gaming Like Never Before

Panaji, Sep 27 (IANS) Young India is gaming with a vengeance. An addictive combination of aggressive social networking and advanced mobile technology is taking card gaming in India to a different level, according to a top official of India's biggest casino operation.
Gaming is catching up in India in a big way and the response to a three-day World Gaming Festival (WGF) hosted on board the casino vessel Casino Royale that ended Sunday was a sign of the times, said Narinder Punj, managing director, High Street Cruises and Entertainment Pvt Ltd, which owns the ship.
'Gaming is upcoming in India and there was a clear demand for an event of this calibre,' said Punj, adding that the prize money of Rs.5 crore was up for grabs at the festival, in which 300-odd gamers competed against one another playing blackjack, American roulette, poker, baccarat and Indian flush, some of the most popular games in the casino.
'A lot of youngsters in India are gaming. 'Texas HoldEm' is one of the most popular game with the youngsters in India. Facebook has also made this game popular. You even have casino games on mobile phones now,' Punj told IANS.
'Our average age for young gamers is around 26 years,' he said.
Texas HoldEm poker, also known as the Zynga poker, is a social game application that is immensely popular on social networking sites Facebook, Google+ and Myspace, among others.
Alfred Fernandes is a major Texas HoldEm poker aficionado and invariably looks to Facebook every day to fulfil his cravings. 'You play with people you've never seen and, like with other card games, they always have an on the edge kind of feeling,' Fernandes said.
For Shantanu Garud, another avid gambler, the swirl of a roulette table is seductive. 'The odds are at 36 to one. It's like an addiction. I keep playing it game after game'.
A. Rosario doesn't think playing rummy or poker has everything to do with luck. He thinks there's a large degree of skill involved. And that stimulates him to gun for the game.
'Although all card games involve a good measure of luck, poker, like rummy, entices you because of the intellect involved in judging the probability of striking a winning combination with every hand dealt,' Rosario said.
'It's certainly a mind game rather than a luck game. That's what makes it enticing. If on a given day luck does not favour you, your mind can help cut the losses. And if you are lucky, you might multiply your gains,' he added.
The WGF hosted gamers from across the country, mainly from major towns like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, and Chandigarh, with the highest number of gamers coming in from India's commercial capital of Mumbai.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Now, Park You Car Using Your Smartphone!

All drivers agree that parking the car is no cake walk. Now guess what, parking is going to be as easy as using your phone. French auto parts manufacturer Valeo is making waves at the Frankfurt Motor Show with an iPhone app that allows drivers to control their cars.

"Just run the application, connect your smartphone to the vehicle, and from there you start the maneuver," Patrick Reilhac, director of marketing and product at Valeo, said before making a Volkswagen Sharan pull out of a spot with a mere touch of a button. To show the app’s full capabilities, Reilhac then programmed the car to park perfectly in reverse between two vehicles.
Car parks itself thanks to smartphone appA car that parks itself is one of a number of high-tech auto solutions on show at this year's Frankfurt motor Show. Duration: 00:33.
However, the application is available only in select models from Ford, Audi, Volkswagen and Lincoln, although the current system only parks automatically with the driver in the vehicle. There is no projected release date for version that integrates the iPhone app and remote parking capability.

Soon, Google+ Searches To Come With Celebrity Endorsements

London, Sept 20 (ANI): Google will soon introduce a system where its users will be able to see which websites are favoured by their favourite celebrities.
Google's head of social advertising Christian Oestlian said Google would soon allow celebrities to register their endorsement of products associated with them.
For example, if someone searched for the Kardashian family's Kollection, they would find a link endorsed by Khloe Kardashians for the clothing line at US store Sears.
The new addition will work with Adwords, a product that already earns the company its billions.
Only a handful of stars, such as America's Kardashian sisters have so far signed up the deal, the Daily Mail reports.
The basic idea behind the deal is that stars will ensure they are linked to the products, Google earns money, and the internet users are steered clear of 'fake' products.
The new service is part of Google's social networking site Google+, where users can add a '+1' to pages they like, which is just similar to Facebook's 'Like' button.
Here, though, it will be used for stars to '+1' the pages that pay their wages, the paper said.
The endorsement feature, which will appear in the sponsored ads at the top of Google, is about to arrive in the US and will be rolled out in the UK later. (ANI)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

India To Play Major Role In Dell's Networking Plans

Chennai, Sep 13 (IANS) In its drive to become a total information technology (IT) solutions provider, the US-based computer hardware major Dell will double the headcount at its Force 10 Networks centre here, said a senior official.
Dell had recently acquired the US-based $200 million revenue networking company Force 10 Networks.
'India is playing a strategic part in driving Dell's transformation globally into a solutions and services enterprise. Chennai is a critical growth engine for Dell as it has manufacturing facility, services and research and development centres. Further, Force 10 Networks also has its R&D centre in the city,' Suresh Vaswani, executive vice president, Dell Services and chairman, Dell India told reporters here Tuesday.
Force 10 Networks has a 265-people strong R&D centre here and Dell will double the headcount over the next one year, he said.
According to Vaswani, the Force 10 Networks acquisition might result in manufacturing of some networking products at Dell's factory near here.
Force 10 Networks' development centre here meets nearly 75 percent of the company's software needs and, in the case of hardware, around 25 percent work is done in the country.
Vaswani said Dell India is the number one computer company in India across the market segments.
He said the company has a 1.6 million units per annum plant at Sriperumbudur near here and has ample space for expansion.

Explore Gadgets From The Past

German digital agency Jung von Matt has created an online shrine to fallen gadgets, tools and appliances of yesteryear.

The interactive YouTube site propels viewers on a trip back down memory lane filled with analogue originals and quirky computer voices.
"Although a digital replacement has been found for all these analogue tasks the charm of the originals can never be replaced," explained Jung von Matt on its branded YouTube channel. "Thus we have created The Museum of Obsolete Objects to house and exhibit those fading memories, not only to jog our aging brains but to also show future generations the lost technological marvels of the 20th century."
The Museum of Obsolete Objects is not the only place on the web where you can see how

technology has changed. To celebrate the third birthday of its Chrome web browser on September 1, 2011, Google took web users on an interactive online tour that tracked the Evolution of the Web.
For those of you who have already forgotten what an abacus is or those who need a refresher about how a radio receiver works, stop by the Museum of Obsolete Objects.
Want to know more about the gadgets and technology of yesteryear? Have a look at these online resources

Steve Jobs, The CEO Who Got Fired From His First Job

Inspiring excerpts from the commencement speech by Steve Jobs, at Standord University on June 12, 2005.

Truth be told, I never graduated from college, and this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life.
Best decisions I ever made
The first story is about connecting the dots. I ped out of Reed College after the first six months. Why? Well, it started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption.
She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, but my biological mother found out later that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would go to college.
This was the start in my life. And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. So I decided to out. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms. I returned coke bottles for the five cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.
Let me give you one example: I decided to take a calligraphy class at Reed College and learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. If I had never ped out, I would have never ped in on that calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
Love and Loss
My second story is about love and loss. Woz (Steve Wozniak) and I started Apple in my parents' garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown into a two billion dollar company with over 4,000 employees. We'd just released our finest creation the Macintosh a year earlier, and then I got fired.
I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down. I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me: I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit and I decided to start over.
The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, and I retuned to Apple. I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple.
I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
If today were the last day of life
My third story is about death. When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I've looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I will be dead soon is the most important tool I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors told me this was incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for 'prepare to die.' I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, and was told that it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and, thankfully, I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept: No one wants to die. Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalogue created by a fellow named Stewart Brand and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: 'Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.' It was their farewell message.
And I've always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Indian Tablet Makers Eye Success


When Mahendra Kumar Jain first thought of manufacturing a touch screen device four years ago, the word 'tablet' had only one meaning - it was something the doctor prescribed. He wanted to be in the infotainment device segment, and the touch screen seemed just the right device to make. However, by the time he unveiled his device in mid-August this year, an enormous change had occurred: the tablet had become the gadget of desire for the well-heeled. So much that in the April to June quarter Apple's iPad grew at 183 per cent year on year, while the global PC industry grew 2.6 per cent in volumes.
Apple sold 9.25 million iPads during the period. India, the last of the major global markets to get the iPad, already has six to seven tablets on offer, including Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Research In Motion's PlayBook, apart from the iPad. Yet, Jain, Managing Director of Bangalorebased Laxmi Access Communications Systems, or LACS, fancies his chances of making a dent.
His cheapest tablet costs Rs 4,500, with the price rising up to Rs 36,000 for more costly versions.
The iPad costs Rs 28,000, the Galaxy Tab Rs 26,000 and the PlayBook Rs 27,000. LACS, which was so far into information technology distribution and manufacture of coated paper, is not the first Indian company to try and crack open this market by offering tablets cheap.
Reliance Communication has come out with its own at Rs 12,000 and Beetel, a Bharti company, has launched one for Rs 9,999. Around six months back, HCL Infosystems also came out with a range of India-made tablets, priced at Rs 12,000 onwards.
Will tablets follow the mobile handset pattern? Long dominated by multinationals like Nokia, Samsung and Motorola, and later raided by RIM's BlackBerry, Apple's iPhone, and various HTC models, this market was turned on its head by a clutch of Indian manufacturers who based their operations in countries like China and Taiwan, and pulled off a coup.
As the market share of the Indian manufacturers, led by Micromax, Lava and Spice, climbed from zero in 2008 to more than 20 per cent in 2010, market leader Nokia lost ground, with its share falling from 46 per cent to 35 per cent in the same period.
What gave Indian companies the edge was a rich list of features and long battery life for their products, and low prices. Should we brace for an encore in tablets? "The tablet market is clearly going the mobile handset way," says Naveen Mishra, lead telecom analyst at Cyber Media Research. He believes the market adoption of Indian tablets will speed up once Broadband Wireless Access takes off. Tablets are all about use of data on the move.
The tablet market is at 100,000 pieces a year and expected to grow at 35 per cent, say current estimates. "Beetel is trying to break the affordability barrier," says Vinod Sawhny, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Beetel Teletech. Jain of LACS is trying to do exactly the same, and more forcefully. He believes that many people in India aspire to owning a tablet - make it more affordable and they will come in droves. "At Rs 6,000-7,000, our products will have a much larger multiplier effect," says Jain. More so because he has tied up with finance companies, so customers can buy his tablet on a 12-month instalment scheme.
Sawhny and Jain both believe that there is a large untapped market in the rural and semiurban space. The lowering of the entry price, therefore, would be critical, as will be the world of applications that these companies can open up to the user.
They had better hurry, because Micromax and Lava are getting ready to launch their tablets, too.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

HTC Launches Glasses-Free 3D Smartphone


New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Tuesday launched its smartphone HTC EVO 3D, which can be used without 3D glasses.
Priced at Rs.35,990, the phone features a 3D 4.3-inch display and a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm snapdragon dual-core processor. It also features dual 5 megapixel cameras, which can be used to capture both conventional and 3D images and videos.
'It is the first smartphone available in the Indian market offering a superior 3D viewing experience without glasses. We are confident that it will set a benchmark for 3D viewing and our consumers will make best use of this offering,' HTC-India head Faisal Siddiqui said.
As 3D has become more sought-after in both movie theatres and family rooms, the ability to enjoy glasses-free 3D on a wireless phone will change the way customers interact with their devices, the company said.

Apple To Switch On The TV In Your Living Room In 2012


After taking the smartphone and tablet markets by storm, Apple is planning to dominate the living room with yet another slickly-designed user-friendly device -- an Apple TV.
According to multiple reports Apple intends on revolutionising the TV market in 2012.
"Apple is working on new technology to deliver video to televisions, and has been discussing whether to try to launch a subscription TV service, according to people familiar with the matter," said an August 26 article in the The Wall Street Journal.
"Apple is almost certainly working on a digital television based on its iOS operating system, according to multiple sources in Silicon Valley," reported technology blog VentureBeat after speaking with sources that include Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster and Venture capitalist Stewart Alsop of Alsop Louie ventures.
Steward Alsop told VentureBeat that "Apple will do to television manufacturers what it did to phone makers with the iPhone."
VentureBeat suggested that Apple's vision could "tie seamlessly into other Apple devices, like the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air, giving the company an enviable full-circle consumer product line," and added that the Apple TV might function similarly to the smart devices seen in a promotional video published by Gorilla Glass maker Corning.
Apple has long been rumored to be working on a smart TV. In June 2011 a former Apple executive who spoke to technology blog DailyTech on the condition of anonymity revealed that Apple had teamed up with a "major OEM to sell iOS-powered, Apple branded displays."
Despite the continued rumors, many tech pundits remain doubtful about Apple's entry into the TV market. Skeptics say Apple won't enter the TV market because it has a very low replacement cycle (most families won't replace their TV for between 5 to 10 years) and low margins.
Earlier this year Google tested the waters by teaming up with Sony and other manufacturers to release a line of Google TVs and set top boxes that were designed to disrupt the market. The project was met with a lukewarm response, however Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt recently announced that Google TV will launch in Europe by early next year.