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    Friday, October 1, 2010

    The Clash of the Tablets..

    Locally speaking, if you ever wanted to buy a Mobily-Guaranteed iPhone anytime around next Salary, you're out of luck.. The September 25th release was almost over flooded all over Major cities in the kingdom (except the unknown Mobily shops in smaller cities), reaching high sales of 7000 iPhones on just day one.. Not a big number compared to the rest of the world, i know, but i won't be surprised if that's all the iPhones they had in stock..

    Anyways, join my Crying-over-iPhone couch any time between 5 and 8 pm, daily, and we'll comfort each other with jokes about TwitPic pictures of harsh rub-in-your-face Saudi unboxing.. We should stick together..

    That being said, and wept on, let's dive into last week..

    [Notice: It's been a very busy week, so expect a long one this week.. Now that you're warned, make the jump.. I DARE YOU ]

    A note that needs to be, well, noted *stupid pun smirk*, it seems that VoIP is another sensitive issue we share in common with other in GCC countries.. According to the sad iPhone owners who updated to iOS 4.1.0, FaceTime won't be seeing any faces in any time (i should really stop, i know)..

    It has been confirmed that FaceTime does work with iPhone 4 units sold by Mobily, there is a catch however.
    Do not upgrade to iOS 4.1 as it disables FaceTime (this message as well as this one as well as many others confirmed it). We are talking about iPhone 4 units sold from MOBILY showrooms. -SaudiMac
    And the UAE are no different..
     DU, one of the largest cell phone carriers in the Middle East, today confirmed (via Saudi Mac) that parts of the Middle East (Specifically the UAE) won’t be seeing FaceTime functionality on their iPhone 4s. DU also states that the situation is out of their control meaning this is either a government restriction or something to do with Apple. The announcement came via their official twitter page along with some other notes on their iPhone 4 launch plans. -9to5mac
    Of course, this left room for our trusted conspiracy theorists to let loose of their imagination on the many social/political/sexual reasons why this feature is not working anymore.. Of course, the prohibition of the service wasn't confirmed, until Mobily stepped up to "cast the first stone" (i swear, i'll stop.. soon)

    Dear Respectable Colleagues,

    Reference to the below mail, we would like to inform you that Facetime app (???) will not be available in iPhone 4 devices.
    In case of receiving inquiries from customers, please follow the below script:
    “Due to complying on Communication of Information Technology Commission (CITC) regulations, Mobily apologizes for not having the Face Time app (again with app???) now”. -Mobily via SaudiMac
    I wasn't a big fan of the service, but i don't think that it deserves to be banned? Yet again, the joys of living in the Middle East has its way to sneak in to your pockets.. (shoot me)

    On other tech news, yet vaguely related, the same old company is taking the headlines again, and it's Apple (not to be mistaken by the fruit we all love/hate).. If it's not product releases, some controversial law "gossip", or suspicious rumors, this company keeps on landing on news headlines.. More rumors are on the rise, so get your "wishing" super powers ready.. Because it seems:, a site that follows China's technology industry, has posted a rumor to the effect that Apple's next tablet will resemble "an oversized iPhone 4" rather than a smaller iPad. Shanzai says that they have "ears to the ground in Shenzen," the home of Apple contract manufacturerFoxconn, and that loose lips have stated that the 7" tablet is a "finished product." -TUAW
    Wait, there's more.. Apple's patents pave the way to show the company's almost-fetish of adding Multitouch to anything they make..
    a "handheld device" that uses capacitive sensors to recognize your identity just by the way you hold it, and subsequently personalize the device's buttons and settings to your hand based on your user profile. That's all that's actually been patented here, but the general idea is a little more grand -- you could theoretically grip a handheld with either hand, and it would automatically generate "button zones" under each finger using sensors (or disappearing buttons, perhaps) baked right into the chassis, making cries of "you're holding it wrong" hopefully fade into obscurity. -Engadget
    Even more chances for Steve to shun us saying "You're holding it wrong" i guess..

    In more news (rumors, actually), this one tops the list as the Machiavelli of Apple rumors..
    Sintek Photronics has reportedly sent samples of projected capacitive touch panels to Apple to be incorporated in the latest iMac all-in-one (AIO) PC, according to industry sources. Since current capacity for 20-inch and above projected capacitive touch panels is limited and the technology involved quite complex, Sintek, which is equipped with 5.3G generation production lines, has a good chance of becoming a supplier of the new models. Current iMacs come in 21.5-inch and 27-inch versions. -DigiTimes
    The numbers of times this rumor surfaced, and observing the patents and quality of information coming in, this is probably the most mature Rumor about an Apple product.. Either it's closer to becoming a reality, or a reflection of how rumor-obsessed we're becoming.. Either way, my imagination loves the potential that patent is giving, and i can't deny that it got me drooling (over my well protected keyboard, thank you for asking) 

    One Rumor that seems more Apple like, in ways of disappointing and blowing all other rumors in an event, is a new smaller MacBook..
    Our old friend Digitimes has another interesting tale up today.  They’re forecasting lots of smaller screen MacBooks being sold in 2010.  Yes 2010 is almost over isn’t it?
    Quanta has reportedly landed orders for 11.6-inch MacBooks from Apple. Shipments of 11.6-inch MacBooks are expected to top 400,000-500,000 units in 2010.
    (*Looks at watch*) It is now September 2010 so that would mean that Apple would be updating itsMacBook line in oh, say October, with smaller more bad ass new products, perhaps with external USB3 Superdrives that blur the lines between MacBook and MacBook Air. -9to5mac
    If you didn't notice, the new tech playground is playing around the 7" to 11" area.. It's worth noting that mobility is becoming more and more "mobile" with devices that don't take up that much space.. Yeah, a 70-year-old-like remark on my side, but i can't help be amazed everytime i see those numbers.. Funny how a niche "tablet like" and "too small" market is becoming a regular standard..

    Which brings us to the tablet market in general.. Unless your RSS were more on Bieber than Beijing, it just got some new kids in town.. And gentlemen, the war is ON indeed..

    Let's meet our contenders..

    The second coming of the HP Slate (the one that was shot down almost a year ago, now is back with a Win7 boot)
    HP has done plenty of its own teasing of the HP Slate, but in-the-wild spottings are few and far between. Now our favorite YouTuber and yours, x313xkillax, has a video of an HP Slate prototype. (There's some speculation that this is a fake, but from everything we know about the tablet we're pretty sure this is the real deal.) The hardware looks similar to what we've seen before, though perhaps a bit further along than version "reviewed" back in April. We're pleased with the boot time of the device and seemingly fine Flash performance, and x313xkillax calls the touchscreen very responsive, but as you can see in the video after the break, Windows 7 still isn't really designed for finger operation. Just like HP seemed to realize when it bought Palm and bumped this tablet from a consumer launch to a niche enterprise product. -Engadget
    One day later, the spec drive in..
    Remember that HP Slate prototype video we happened upon just yesterday? The owner, who goes by the name x313xkillax on YouTube, is back with over eight more minutes of footage, including the packaging. According to the back of the box of this self-proclaimed business model, here's the official specs we're looking at: a 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540 with GMA500 and Broadcom Crystal HD Enhanced Video accelerator, 8.9-inch WSVGA screen, 2GB DDR2 RAM, about 60GB storage capacity, Windows 7 Home Premium, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, SD card reader, and a 2-Cell 30WHr Lithium-ion Polymer battery. There are two cameras here, one in front and one in rear. -Engadget
    Samsung chose to focus more on the OS rather than flexing any Hardware muscle with their new GalaxyTab..

    It actually does a fine job of prove Android as a practical tablet OS. It shows the mobile operating system as responsive, well suited for the tablet format, and overall usable — all items that cannot be said about the HP Slate after watching its video demo from earlier today.
    Of course the demo is probably highly scripted and not likely to show any downsides to to the product. But that’s fine. This video at least shows that Samsung knows that it must show off the Tab’s raw capabilities. That’s what’s going to sell tablets.-CrunchGear
    Next in line, the home-targetting AlessiTab
    Eager to get your hands on that Stefana Giovannoni-designed AlessiTab home tablet first announced back in April? Then it looks like you'll have to wait a bit longer, and shell out a bit more cash than first expected. According to Design Boom, the device is now set to roll out in Italy sometime in November (instead of this month), and it will run €399, or about $535 (a full hundred euros than previously expected). Otherwise, the Android 2.1-based tablet looks to be the same as we've seen before, including a 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen, a DVB-T digital TV tuner, built-in WiFi, and a webcam for video calls. Notably absent, however, is access to the Android Market, but Alessi promises it'll provide a selection of its own apps specifically designed for the home environment.
    Want a more demographic-specific tablet, you're in luck.. meet the Kno..
    Kno, the start-up that is creating a digital tablet for students, said it is also planning on releasing a single-screen version.
    The company–which was started by the founder of Chegg, the online textbook rental service–haddebuted a double-screen tablet (pictured here) at the eighth D: All Things Digital conference in June. -AllThingsD
    And while everyone is trying to come up with a more catchy name for their tech-spawns, it seems that the Sharp Kindle-Killer (supposedly) has a different take.. Literally.. Meet the Galapagos..
    Japanese tech giant Sharp announced it would launch a 5.5-inch and a 10.8-inch tablet named Galapagos, as well as an electronic bookstore in December — but only in Japan.
    Both tablets will feature Wi-Fi communication and are Android-based; the smaller model will have a 1024 x 600 LCD screen, while the larger version will boast a 1366 x 800 pixel resolution. Both devices will be available in red, silver and black. -Mashable
    DELL seems to be persistent to take a slice of that pie, offering their next iteration sooner than you think.. 
    Dell (DELL) has another tablet in the pipeline. And according to CEO Michael Dell, who announced it at Oracle OpenWorld today, it will run on Google’s (GOOG) Android OS, just like its precursor the Streak. It’s going to be a bit larger though–seven inches to the Streak’s five. -AllThingsD
    And finally, the most hyped tablet of them all, the BlackBerry PlayBook (i still can't believe they went with that name)

    Research in Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis had his “one more thing” moment today at the company’s 2010 DevCon conference. Near the end of his opening keynote address, Lazaridis–after making a number of big announcements, including in-app payments for BlackBerry apps, a BlackBerry Advertising Service and the opening of BBM as a social platform–uncrated the PlayBook, RIM’s long-rumored tablet. -AllThingsD
    More on the.. ugh.. the PLAYbook..
    There’s a lot to like here. The PlayBook runs Flash 10.1 and HTML 5 along with supporting 1080p hardware accelerated video. There’s Micro HDMI and Micro USB connections, along with a 3MP front and 5MP rear-facing camera. That HDMI connection can even output video to dual displays. There’s no doubt that the PlayBook rocks some impressive hardware, but that’s only a small part of what makes a tablet great. Its future lies in the hands of what seems to be a totally revamped OS. -CrunchGear 
    - a detailed list of specs can be found here
    And of course, RIM media approach to create a louder buzz on the buzz king (being Apple in this equation)..
    “We are bringing mobility to the Web, not asking the Web to reformat for mobility,” RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told Reuters. “I can’t think of anything more architecturally game-changing that we’ve done, other than the launch of the original BlackBerry.” -AllThingsD
    Personally, i follow those who think that there's something "too good to be true" about this.. I do think that it's a full-fledged potential iPad killer, yet like i mentioned last week, it's the complete package that matters.. If there's any thriving app market, a smooth-as-advertised OS functionality, and an addition of RIM's own BBMessenger, i think we're looking at the best business-tablet there is.. Of course, given that the battery life will last you to enjoy all of its features, all through a single 7-hour or more flight :) 

    a note to Apple..
    I hope you guys are taking notes.. The next iPad to supposedly right around the corner , so get busy, it's crunch time..
    [ just incase you're getting overwhelmed by choices, check this chart out ]

    Since we're on an Apple note, i think it's safe to say that despite the buzz around the "guts" of the new Apple TV, business doesn't seem to like the little wonder gizmo..
    Recently, we reported that Warner Bros. was not best pleased with Apple's new TV episode price point. And now NBC has chimed in, too. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Investor conference, Chief Executive of NBC Universal Jeff Zucker said, "We do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content," and continued by saying, "We thought it would devalue our content." As reported by AppleInsider. -TUAW
    “We think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board pretty fast,” Steve Jobs said earlier this month of the TV studios wary of its new 99-cent iTunes TV rentals initiative. And while it’s never wise to bet against the Apple CEO, it’s beginning to look like “pretty fast” was an optimistic choice of words. Because in a flurry of public comments recently, a growing number of TV execs have decried the 99-cent rental model, which they say undervalues their content.  At the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference last week, Viacom (VIA.B) CEO Philippe Dauman said of it, “The 99-cent rental is not a good price point. It doesn’t work for us. We value our content a lot. We don’t think Apple has it quite right yet.”  -AllThingsD
    If the first Apple TV didn't cause the Cupertino office a serious case of PTSD, this one might be the one to do so.. It all depends on how Apple picks up the feedback.. I don't know why they don't focus double as much in promoting the new MacMini (with an HDMI out)?

    Let's switch to the lighter news of tech (not necessarily less-creepy).. Facebook, the website that we all entrust with our most private information and pictures, just became more High Def..
    Things started to improve in March which it boosted the maximum resolution 20% up to 720 pixels. And now the Photos app is getting much, much better: Facebook is boosting the maximum photo size by 8x, up to 2048 pixels. Now you won’t have to squint when you go to relive your memories a few years (or decades) down the line. This may also make the app more attractive to users who have been turning to Flickr for high-quality uploading. -TechCrunch
    It might give the photographers and graphic designer a chance to have a bigger canvas to spread their art work through, but it's also something that you really need to consider.. Before you post those embarrassing pictures of you (or that sleepy friend that you abused for gags), know that if you privacy settings are not set properly, some pervert (me excluded) will gawk on a high resolution epic picture that is easily savable.. Be ware, those who keep tagging my nose..

    On the opposite side of news coverage, Microsoft seems to be too quite in compare to the other tech giants.. However, two news articles landed this week on my RSS reader, none were too bright to show that Microsoft is in touch with reality..

    Firstly, they shut down their blogging service and migrate to WordPress..
    Back in 2006, we covered the launch of Windows Live Spaces, a blogging service for Windows Live users. Today the service is headed in a new direction: Microsoft has teamed with Automattic, the company behind, to transition its users over to the popular hosted blogging platform. The news was just announced at TechCrunch Disrupt by Dharmesh Mehta, Director of Product Management for Windows Live and Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic. -TechCrunch
    Secondly, what many see as "out of the box" thinking, it seems to be more backwards than onwards.. The new WinPho 7 is out, and it's asking you to reformat your brain..

    [update : commercials pulled by Microsoft]

    My beef with the marketing this time, is the narrow minded approach to what the demographic wants (and already knows about the competition).. I mean, smart device mobility has always focused on getting your content online integrated with your life style, merging both together, where you can take from/send to your existence on the web with simple touches..

    Also, putting in mind it's about getting that content available at your fingertips, with minimal need to browse through all your stuff (Apple iOS badges and WebOS notifications anyone?).. So, to suggest that you reinvented the wheel with endless downward scrolling doesn't differ from endless sideways scrolling.. Please, focus and someone hire a hired gun to snipe of Ballmer.. GAWD!

    Speaking of "pissing me off" tech giants, Google had a bit of a Ying-Yang kind of week.. On the bright side, they're appealing to ease browsing by reinventing JPEG formatted pictures..
    According to Google, images make up about 65% of bytes transmitted across the web today. Any way to reduce that would be hugely valuable for easing Google's tremendous network burden. That's a gigantic "would," though—JPEG is deeply entrenched on the web, and WebP files take about eight times longer to encode. There's also no browser support yet—which is why our example above is hypothetical. -Gizmodo
    While on the other hand, as if the online crowd are not blogging about it enough, Google's motto of "Do no Evil" is as fake as Pamela Anderson's.. Fingers?

    a Recent study showed an apparently "Well DUH" fact..
    The results of a study conducted by researchers from Duke University, Penn State University, and Intel Labs have revealed that a significant number of popular Android applications transmit private user data to advertising networks without explicitly asking or informing the user. The researchers developed a piece of software called TaintDroid that uses dynamic taint analysis to detect and report when applications are sending potentially sensitive information to remote servers. -ArsTechnia
    So, point here is, all companies have an agenda.. Sorry to burst your bubbles, people..

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