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.”

BBC iPlayer Expands Internationally with New iPad App

  • The BBC’s popular iPlayer is an on-demand broadband television and radio service that has been available in Great Britain for four years.
  • As of last week, the service is now available through an iPad app to 11 countries in western Europe (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland) — with plans to launch in the U.S., Canada and Australia by the end of the year as a pilot program.
  • The app will allow users to stream programs over 3G and Wi-Fi, with the option to download for later viewing offline. International users will have access to some content for free, while full access will be subscription-based.
  • Luke Bradley-Jones, managing director of BBC.com, describes iPlayer as a VOD service: “We will have content from the last month, but also the best from the catalog stretching back 50 to 60 years.” He added, “What we’re trying to test in the pilot is the ability to drive exploration and discovery through a programming approach rather than an algorithm-based approach. We’re not trying to compete against a Netflix or a Hulu. This has to be tailored and hand-crafted, so we can create a tone of voice.”

Amazon Sales on the Rise, but Expansion is Costly

  • Amazon announced this week that its revenue increased a staggering 51 percent to $9.9 billion in Q2, with significant help from the highly successful ad-supported Kindle (now the most popular version of the e-reader).
  • Amazon finance chief Tom Szkutak explains this marks the Seattle-based company’s best growth rate in 10 years.
  • However, the growth also comes at a cost; profit declined 8 percent as the world’s largest online retailer continued to invest in fulfillment centers and digital offerings. Additionally, operating expenses rose 54 percent.
  • Amazon also had 5,300 new hires in the quarter, giving the company a total of 43,200 employees, up from 28,300 a year ago.
  • Investors appear unruffled by Amazon’s infrastructure spending; stock rose 5.7 percent to $226.40 on Tuesday.

Unreleased Facebook iPad App Discovered Inside iPhone App

  • Facebook’s iPad app may be closer to launch than earlier reported, since a fully operational version was recently discovered “hidden” inside the current iPhone app.
  • The iPad app reportedly has a more modern look than the “tired old” iPhone version, resembling Twitter’s iPad app. The navigational features are said to be intuitively positioned whether the device is held vertically or horizontally.
  • According to Wired writer Charlie Sorrel: “Facebook has managed to fully port the signature confusion of its website to a tablet app, a not insignificant achievement.”
  • The iPad app has also been described as “spectacular.” For those who can’t wait for the official release, the CNN post includes a link for instructions to get it running from inside the iPhone app.

E-Commerce: Purchasing via Tablets on the Rise

  • Consumers are increasingly using iPads and other tablet devices for mobile purchases, according to a new report by Forrester Research released this week.
  • Tablets might even one day outpace smartphones and PCs in terms of e-commerce volume.
  • The devices already account for 20 percent of mobile sales, even though just 9 percent of online shoppers have tablets. Additionally, 60 percent of tablet owners say they have used the devices to shop.
  • Tablets typically offer richer catalog presentations than those available via smartphones, and applications often produce faster loading times than retailers’ websites.
  • “Everyone thinks that mobile phones and mobile commerce are the next big things, and I think what this data shows is it’s probably actually tablets,” explains Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester analyst. “We have always capped e-commerce at 10 to 15 percent of total retail sales, but this potentially has the capability of really expanding e-commerce much beyond that.”

Lenovo to Launch Three New Tablet Devices

  • Chinese manufacturer Lenovo is entering the tablet fray with three new devices set for release in the coming months.
  • The 10.1-inch devices will be priced comparably to the popular iPad and will target specific users (the IdeaPad Tablet K1 for general consumers, ThinkPad Tablet for business users, and IdeaPad Tablet P1 for home and office use).
  • The IdeaPad K1 and ThinkPad (available in August) will run Android 3.1, while the IdeaPad P1 will run Windows 7.
  • All three devices will initially be Wi-Fi only, with 3G versions expected at a later date.
  • The Digital Trends post includes images and technical specs on all three models.

CEA Predicts Connected Portable Devices will Steer CE Market

  • The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) predicts that the consumer electronics industry will grow 5.6 percent this year and will surpass $190 billion. This prediction is higher than the estimate that CEA offered in January.
  • Significantly, tablet computers are projected to grow 157 percent in 2011, with more than 26.5 million units being shipped ($14 billion in shipment revenue).
  • “Newer, innovative product categories, like tablets, not only meet consumer demand but also help bolster our industry and strengthen the overall American economy,” says CEA chief exec Gary Shapiro.
  • “One year ago, tablets were a new and unproven market, and now they, along with other mobile connected devices including smartphones and eReaders, are leading the entire industry to positive growth,” adds Steve Koenig, CEA’s director of industry analysis. “The revenue boost from these innovative products is undeniable as a number of other CE segments are reaching maturity and sales are naturally declining.”
  • The trade association also expects the market to reach a record $197 billion in 2012, led by sales of smartphones, tablets and 3D TVs.

Sony to Release its First Two Tablet PCs this Fall

  • Sony offered up some additional details about its first two tablets in a New York press event this week. The S1 and S2 were initially introduced in April in Japan.
  • On Wednesday, the company announced that AT&T will serve as the exclusive U.S. cellular-data provider for the S2 model.
  • The foldable S2 features dual 5.5-inch screens and will operate via Wi-Fi as well as AT&T’s 3G and HSPA+ 4G networks. According to TWICE: “When the S2 is held vertically like a book, each screen can display separate pages from a book downloaded from Sony’ e-book store.”
  • The S1 model will be Wi-Fi only and feature a 9.4-inch screen. Both tablets will include preinstalled Adobe Flash. Sony execs explained that additional technical specs are being saved for the fall launch.
  • Both models are based on the Android Honeycomb OS. Prices, however, have yet to be announced.

Insiders say Amazon Plans to Launch an iPad Rival

  • Amazon may be selling a tablet computer as early as October, report people familiar with the matter.
  • The new tablet is expected to feature a 9-inch screen and run on Android’s operating system (but will reportedly not include a camera). An Amazon-designed second tablet may be available next year.
  • Amazon is still expected to introduce two new Kindles in the third quarter.
  • With its own online retail operation, Amazon is well positioned to compete with Apple. Moreover, one analyst says Amazon can offer a cheaper alternative and make up the difference with movie, music and book sales.

Exclusive Look Inside RIM: Rise and Fall of the BlackBerry?

  • In the wake of recent negative press and pleas to management made public, BGR interviewed “multiple” ex-RIM executives and learned stories about the company’s overall “lack of vision and leadership.”
  • The two CEOs, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, are described as brilliant “irreplaceable leaders” who unfortunately did not listen to the marketplace over time. (For example: “There will never be a BlackBerry with an MP3 player or camera.”)
  • One significant problem involved the three-year roadmap that focused on refining technologies on existing phones, not on identifying or shaping future trends.
  • For example, one executive claimed RIM was proud of how LITTLE data a user would use so there was no R&D done on browsers.
  • Another claim suggests RIM views carriers, rather than the end users, as the customers.
  • In the tablet realm, execs claim the PlayBook was sold to carriers below margin and is not making RIM any money. Moreover, RIM did not reveal that the PlayBook would not have native email until the last minute. “RIM is notorious for dropping these bombshells at the 11th hour on the carriers, and the PlayBook not having native email was a shock to the carriers.”

Tablet-Notebook Convergence: Ultra-Thin, Touch-Sensitive Devices

  • “Tablets aren’t cannibalizing notebooks; they’re converging with them,” writes John Paczkowski in a WSJ article about how fears regarding an iPad takeover of PC sales is overblown.
  • Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi sees tablets and notebooks converging as solid-state storage, low-power processors, app stores, touch interfaces, and lighter weights continue to span both platforms.
  • Sacconaghi predicts there will be notebooks of iPad weight with touchscreens and integrated keypads for under $1,000 which may undermine sales of tablets.
  • Paczkowski concludes: “In other words, the cannibalized becomes the cannibal. And in the end, it turns out that the post-PC era doesn’t mean that the PC is dead, but rather that it’s been born anew as a converged device — an ultrathin, touch-sensitive notebook.”

New Book on Tablet Impact: iPad in the Enterprise

  • In his new book, iPad in the Enterprise (available this August), Nathan Clevenger examines how the Apple iPad has started to transform the way enterprise IT departments are operating. Some interesting excerpts from the book are listed below.
  • “The day the iPad was introduced we had some discussions about adding them into our environment; 24 hours later, we had 500 devices accessing e-mails,” said Frank Modruson, the CIO of Accenture. “CIOs who resist will eventually be forced to change.”
  • “As we move forward into a world where cloud enabled networks are the norm,” says Art Glasgow, the CTO at Ingenix, “CIOs have to accept the fact that the world has changed. Any device at any time on the network will be the norm and it will have to be done without sacrificing security and manageability. Cool matters and usability rules the day so devices like the iPad have to be not just accounted for, but designed for. The good news is that devices like the iPad aren’t just cool. They are flexible, multifunction tools that are changing the way we work and create and in that sense may very well be not just an innovation themselves, but a catalyst to innovations.”

HP Enters the Tablet Fray This Week with the TouchPad

  • Hewlett-Packard will start selling its new TouchPad on Friday, entering the tablet market currently dominated by the iPad 2.
  • The new tablet, starting at $500, features a 10-inch screen with “a slick, distinctive software interface.”
  • Walt Mossberg likes TouchPad’s UI but downgrades it for poor battery life, a small number of apps, and an operating system that is buggy and requires regular rebooting.
  • The TouchPad will initially be available in two versions (16 or 32 gigabytes of storage) and will only offer Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Mossberg: “At least for now, I can’t recommend the TouchPad over the iPad 2.”

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Takes on the Apple iPad 2

  • International Business Times provides an interesting side-by-side comparison of tablet market leader Apple iPad 2 and the newly available Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
  • For the Galaxy Tab: higher display resolution (1280×800 vs. iPad’s 1024×768); more RAM; 9 ounces lighter and 0.01 inch thinner than the iPad; Adobe Flash playback capability; features new Plane to Line Switching (PLS) panel technology that enhances brightness, clarity and viewing angles; higher megapixel cameras and 1080p video capability.
  • However, Galaxy Tab’s thinness was achieved by excluding USB, HDMI and SD card slot.
  • For the iPad 2: better battery life than the Galaxy Tab (10 hours vs. 6 hours under similar conditions); better speaker sound, particularly at a higher volume; and perhaps most importantly, more than double the number of available apps (425,000 and growing).
  • The Galaxy Tab is powered by Honeycomb 3.1 OS: “And, no matter whichever way you look at it – slice it or dice it – Honeycomb lacks the finesse and elegance of iOS.”
  • Conclusion: “Galaxy Tab is the best Android tablet to be ever released. No doubt about that. But if you’ve made up your mind about getting iPad 2, don’t give it a second thought. The UI of iOS will not make you want to regret your decision.”

Toshiba Releases its Thrive Tablet with Honeycomb

  • Add another new tablet to the growing list of available devices… Toshiba began taking pre-orders last week for its 10.1-inch Thrive Tablet, expected to hit retail shelves in early July.
  • The $430 Wi-Fi-only 8GB tablet runs on Android 3.1 Honeycomb and is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chip.
  • PC Magazine reports there will also be 16GB ($480) and 32GB ($580) models available.
  • Inputs include: USB 2.0, Mini USB, HDMI and SD Card.
  • Features include: Multitouch 1280×800 LED display, front and rear cameras and a replaceable battery.
  • According to a PC World review this week, interoperability may be what makes the Thrive stand out from the pack: “The Thrive is the first Honeycomb tablet to include a full-size SD Card slot. None of this microSD card nonsense for Toshiba; ditto for only having a micro- or mini-USB port. By including the SD Card slot and USB port, the company recognizes the need for interoperability among devices. And only with interoperability can a tablet begin to replace a laptop in your arsenal.”
  • In related news, Hewlett-Packard also recently announced its first media tablet, the 9.7-inch webOS-powered TouchPad. The Wi-Fi-only TouchPad is priced at $500 (16GB) and $600 (32GB).

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