Vizio Releases $299 Android Tablet in Time for School

  • Vizio has released an 8-inch Android tablet priced at a mere $299. It features Adobe Flash, a three-speaker configuration and a MicroSD slot for expanding to 32GB.
  • The Wi-Fi tablet is being promoted by Vizio as an affordable back-to-school option and as a media device designed to interact with TVs.
  • According to the press release: “The VIZIO Tablet features VIZIO Internet Apps Plus which combines the latest technologies with a unified, easy-to-use and fun user interface across select future VIZIO HDTVs, Blu-ray players and other devices — further differentiating the sleek VIZIO Tablet. In addition, the new Tablet is able to control nearly every element of a user’s home theater with a universal remote app and includes a built-in HDMI port with HDCP support for content protected HD playback on the big screen.”

Archos Tablet Features Hard Disc Tweaked to Perform Like Flash Drive

  • French CE manufacturer Archos announced it is getting ready to launch an Android Honeycomb 3.2 tablet with 250GB of internal storage capacity.
  • The Archos G9, expected to hit shelves in September, will be available in 8- and 10-inch models ($370 and $470, respectively).
  • The new tablet will feature a Seagate Momentus Thin 2.5-inch hard drive modified to include 4GB of flash storage.
  • “Another marquee feature is the 1.5GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 dual-core processor,” CNET reports. “This is the same processor that Google has approved for upcoming Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices. That means consumers can expect to see a new wave of tablets and smartphones built around the TI 4460.”

Time Inc. to Offer its Magazines on Multiple Platforms

  • Time Inc. announced it will offer all of its 21 magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated, People and Fortune on just about every tablet platform.
  • Look for Time’s publications on iTunes, Android’s store, HP’s new tablet, Next Issue Media, and Nook by the end of this year. (There is no mention of RIM’s Playbook or Kindle yet.)
  • To date, Time’s digital magazine and content apps have been downloaded more than 11 million times.
  • “Note that while the release mentions ‘digital subscriptions,’ what that really means is ‘digital-only subscriptions available everywhere but iTunes,’ reports the Wall Street Journal. “Apple and Time Inc. still haven’t come to terms on subscription rules, so right now the only way to get a digital subscription for the iPad is to buy a subscription package that also includes print.”

Google Rolls Out Ambitious Plan to Acquire Patents

  • Google has purchased more than 1,000 patents from IBM, its most recent step in what the Los Angeles Times describes as “an arms race for patents.”
  • The acquisition is part of an effort to strengthen its intellectual-property portfolio and avoid legal assault.
  • It may also bolster the legal buffer surrounding its Android mobile OS court showdown with Oracle set for October.
  • Google has some 700 patents (mostly for search engine technology) while its competitors, especially those in the mobile industry, have thousands.
  • “Patents are instruments of war. Companies are acquiring patents to both defend their market share and to countersue competitors,” suggests technology patent valuation specialist Alexander Poltorak, chief executive of General Patent Corp. “Google neglected patents for many years because it did not realize that they were essential business tools. It can no longer neglect them.”

Lenovo ThinkPad to Ship This Month, Targets Business Users

  • Lenovo’s ThinkPad Honeycomb tablet (starting at $480) will offer a stylus for taking on-screen notes, security features, detachable keyboard, Netflix compatibility and a variety of business features.
  • The new tablet is expected to ship by August 23.
  • Lenovo does not seem to be concerned with entering the Android tablet price war, since most of the other competitors are angling toward $400 and below. Instead, the company is positioning the tablet as a business-savvy device.
  • Digital Trends reports: “Lenovo is also launching a few accessories alongside of the ThinkPad. You can buy a folio-style case that has a built-in keyboard, which might mean the Asus Transformer might finally have some keyboard competition. Lenovo has been making some of the best laptop keyboards for several years, and if this keyboard can rival those it might be a game changer in the Honeycomb tablet war.”

Ustream Launches iPad App, Supports AirPlay Wireless

  • Ustream launched its first iPad-optimized app this week. According to TechCrunch, the app “allows users to view live and recorded content streaming through the service — and to stream their own footage direct from their iPad 2.”
  • The company released its Android app on Honeycomb two weeks ago. There is also an iPhone version available.
  • The free Ustream app supports AirPlay, which means users can stream whatever they are watching on their iPad 2 to bigger screens.
  • “The AirPlay support is especially nice because while the video is projected onto your TV you can still use your iPad for chatting and social stream,” writes Gizmodo.
  • Ustream will also allow users to broadcast their own videos using either of the iPad 2’s cameras.

20th Century Fox will Offer Movie Downloads for Android

  • Twentieth Century Fox has announced a new service that will offer Fox movie downloads on Android devices as early as October. This is a first for the Google Android OS.
  • Due largely to the lack of playback and copy-protection technologies, Android has so far taken a backseat to Apple’s iPhone and the convenience of the iTunes store.
  • These issues should be addressed now that Google has acquired rights-management company Widevine.
  • Digital Trends points out that the service won’t enable downloading directly to phones: “Customers will need to initially buy a physical Blu-ray disc of a Fox movie. Afterward, they will be allowed to download a digital Android-friendly copy of the movie from Fox’s website to a computer, which can then be side loaded onto the Android device.”

Three Weeks After Launch, Google+ Now Available for iPhone

  • Google launched its new Google+ social network June 28th, and an Android app was made immediately available.
  • Three weeks later, Apple finally approved the official Google+ app for iOS (until Tuesday, iPhone users had to access a mobile Web version in Safari).
  • Similar to the Web version, Google+ for iPhone includes Circles (stream of updates from a user’s contacts) and Huddle (for group messaging within a user’s circles).
  • Google+ for iOS works on the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 (running iOS 3.1 or later). A dedicated iPad version has yet to be announced.

Apple Spin-Off Hosts Private Label App Stores

  • Apple spin-off Apperian is hosting private-label iOS app stores for Cisco, Procter & Gamble, Estee Lauder and others.
  • Smarter Technology reports: “Apple’s over-the-air protocol enables any enterprise to bypass iTunes and create its own private-label application store, with complete IT control of provisioning, with Apple spin-off Apperian Inc. providing the necessary cloud-based hosting services.”
  • Apperian was spun off with Apple’s blessing in 2009. One year later, Apple’s over-the-air protocol became available.
  • Apperian CEO David Patrick says the service will also be adding Android apps in the future.

Electronic Arts to Purchase Award-Winning PopCap Games

  • Videogame maker Electronic Arts announced this week it would acquire PopCap Games, maker of games like “Bejeweled,” “Zuma” and “Plants vs. Zombies.”
  • According to the deal, Electronic Arts is expected to pay $650 million in cash and $100 million in new shares.
  • EA has long been a dominant player in the console gaming market; this acquisition plans to strengthen its presence in mobile and causal gaming.
  • Mobile games, like those played on Android and iOS devices, are the fastest-growing segment of the gaming market.
  • “EA’s global studio and publishing network will help PopCap rapidly expand their business to more digital devices, more countries and more channels,” explained Electronic Arts chief exec John Riccitiello.

Android OS Could Prove Big Business for Microsoft

  • Android is the global leader in smartphone platforms with over 500,000 daily activations, serving as an obvious advantage for Google.
  • However, Android’s success is also becoming a boon for Microsoft, which has negotiated agreements with several Android licensees to settle patent infringement claims, providing $5-10 for each device shipped.
  • With the potential of 500,000 activations per day, this could amount to $1 billion in value to Microsoft.
  • This amount would exceed the value of their Windows 7 and Bing businesses currently.

iPhone Users Lead the Charge in Mobile Gaming

  • According to a recent Nielsen study, the average iPhone user commits twice the average amount of time to playing mobile games as compared to other mobile gamers, suggesting that iOS may have the most engaged gaming audience.
  • The study also indicates that 93 percent of app customers have paid for games in the last 30 days.
  • The average iPhone owner spent 14.7 hours playing games during the month, while the average Android owner spent 9.3 hours (the overall average for smartphone gamers is 7.8 hours/month).
  • The report explains that consumers are typically more willing to spend money on games than other types of apps.
  • Nielsen breaks down the leading categories of most popular apps for Q2 2011 in the following order: Games, Weather, Social Networking, Maps/Navigation/Search, Music, News, Entertainment, Banking/Finance, Video/Movies, Shopping/Retail, Dining/Restaurant, Sports.

Most Popular Smartphone Platforms: Android, iOS, BlackBerry

  • Google’s Android continues its lead over all other smartphone platforms, according to the latest quarterly report from comScore.
  • However, Apple has overtaken Research In Motion’s BlackBerry for second place among U.S. smartphone software providers.
  • Android grew from 33 percent to 38.1 percent, while Apple grew to 26.6 percent and RIM declined to 24.7 percent.
  • Microsoft and Palm both showed declines as well.
  • In terms of handsets, Samsung currently leads with 24.8 percent of the smartphones in circulation while Motorola remains in second place.

Verizon Wireless will Offer PlayStation Phone this Month

The long-awaited Sony Ericsson Xperia Play — or “PlayStation Phone” as it’s been popularly dubbed — will finally be available starting May 26 for $199.99 from Verizon Wireless (with two-year service agreement). Pre-orders for the PlayStation certified smartphone began yesterday.

The Play features a 4-inch 854 x 480 multi-touch display, 5 megapixel camera on the back (plus front-facing VGA camera for video chats), and runs on a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon II processor with 512MB of RAM. The system is based on Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” with some Sony Ericsson customizations. The specs also list support for Google Mobile Services, including Google Maps, Gmail, Google Talk and access to 200,000 apps in the Android Market. The phone will come preloaded with seven games, including: Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior (check out the video demo), Madden NFL 11Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, Star Battalion, The Sims 3Crash Bandicoot and Tetris.

The Play device features a sliding screen that reveals touch-sensitive directional pads, a dual analog touch joystick and shoulder buttons for playing games. Verizon says more than 50 games will be available at launch time from the V CAST app store.

Related Los Angeles Times article (including Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior video demo): “Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, a.k.a. the PlayStation Phone, hits Verizon on May 26” (5/17/11)

Related IntoMobile review (including 11-minute video demo): “Hands-On: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play” (5/20/11)

Related Sony Ericsson press release: “Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY to be the official mobile handset of Major League Gaming” (3/1/11)

Related In-Game article: “Sony’s PlayStation phone is for real” (1/26/11)

Which Smartphone OS will Come Out on Top?

Nick Nero provides some interesting perspective in this month’s Connected World Magazine regarding which smartphone OS will become the dominant global platform by the end of the year. The short answer according to Nick: Google’s Android.

The article provides an interesting overview regarding the progression of RIM’s BlackBerry, Apple’s iPhone, Windows Mobile devices — and the growing worldwide adoption of Android devices. It further points out that Android will continue its dominance throughout 2011 based on several key factors: Open Software Architecture (“arguably Android’s biggest competitive advantage”), Open Marketplace (consumers recognize “the benefit of a free-market approach to smartphone apps and this will continue to push Android to the head of the pack”), and More Partners (Android “is available on devices from practically every carrier in the country”).

Nick offers these final thoughts: “By the end of this year I expect Android to have a very comfortable lead in the smartphone OS market unless Apple begins to open up its model a bit. I wouldn’t bet on that happening given that a very pretty walled garden is essentially Apple’s business model. I don’t feel too sorry for Apple though — it does extremely well in the high-quality experience niche it occupies in the Macintosh space.”

Related CNET article: “Gartner: Android leads, Windows Phone lags in Q1” (5/19/11)

Related ReadWriteWeb article (including videos): “The Future of the Smartphone: Holograms & Folding Screens” (5/18/11)

Related Gadgetbox article: “PlayStation phone coming to Verizon Wireless” (5/17/11)

Related Mashable article: “Smartphone Sales Up 85% Year-Over-Year” (5/19/11)

Related ReadWriteWeb article: “iOS Ad Impressions Up Nearly 50% this Year, says Millennial Media” (5/19/11)

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