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11.12
11

Minuscule Mobile Presence Puts IE Market Share Below 50 Percent

by [email protected] ·

If you look at the numbers a certain way, it appears that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser has fallen to below 50 percent of the overall browser market, according to figures from Net Applications. That figure, however, takes into account mobile market share, and mobile is area in which Microsoft could soon grow thanks to its ties with Nokia.

Net Applications’ browser market report for October continues to track Internet Explorer’s steady decline, from 60.99 percent in October 2010 to 53.39 percent in September 2011 to 52.63 percent in October 2011.

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Some caveats must be included in these numbers, though. For starters, these figures just refer to desktop use. Some 6 percent of the browser marketplace is now mobile — where Internet Explorer doesn’t have much of a presence at all.

Here, Safari reigns, holding a 62.17 percent share of the mobile market. Android’s browser follows with 18.65 percent.

Add these numbers together and the end figure is not pretty for Microsoft: It holds just under 50 percent of the total browser market.

Two Different Beasts

That is not how Net Applications calculates it though, EVP Vince Vizzaccaro told the E-Commerce Times.

“We track desktop market share versus mobile market share, and on the desktop Internet Explore is still at 52 percent.”

It is not wise to count Internet Explorer out even though its market share is in a decline, Vizzaccaro added, for several reasons, starting with the fact that the mobile market is still very much in play.

“With Windows Phone starting to get out there, especially with the deal with Nokia (NYSE: NOK), I believe there is significant room for growth for Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) IE.”
Business Versus Consumers

Another reason why Internet Explorer has staying power, he added, is that it is a staple of the business community.

“The browser market is still very much a dual-user community, divided between consumers and businesses.”

Oftentimes the same user who wouldn’t think of deploying Internet Explorer at home — preferring instead to use Firefox or Chrome — can’t use anything else but IE at work.

The reason for consumers’ preference for Chrome and Firefox are obvious, Vizzaccaro did acknowledge: Both Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Mozilla have taken a rapid upgrade, rapid feature-enhancement approach to their respective products.

“That plays wonderfully at home but in the corporate world it falls flat,” he said.

Businesses want to see a much longer deployment cycle, want to know that there was a lot of testing done, want to make sure that the browser is completely safe for business machines, he said.
Usability on Par

Internet Explorer does suffer from a perception problem, Vizzaccaro added, which is unfortunate because all of the browsers are on par with each other in terms of usability and features.

“Because Chrome is the new kid on block, it is gaining some mind share but I don’t see a big difference in usability in any of the browsers,” he concluded.

Not that Net Applications is reflective of that. Besides Internet Explorer’s decline, the research firm’s monthly stats also chronicles Google’s Chrome Web browser ascending star. It has cracked 17.6 percent market share after jumping 1.4 percent month-over-month from September and is closely gaining on Firefox’s 22.5 percent. Indeed, Chrome could well pass Firefox by early 2012.

11.6
11

2 million iOS 5 users choose Hotmail

by [email protected] ·

According to Microsoft, some 2 million iOS 5 devices are connected to Hotmail, and that number is growing by some 100,000 every day.

With the release of iOS 5 it became easier for user to configure their iDevice to send and receive email via Hotmail because Apple added it as a default option in the Add Account … screen. And it seems that users have embraced this option enthusiastically.

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Microsoft also offers up an interesting breakdown of Hotmail users based on which iDevice they use.

40% of those connecting to Hotmail use an iPhone 4, but remarkably a massive 24% are using iPhone 4S handsets. This is particularly amazing considering that the 4S has only been available for three weeks.

11.2
11

Google unveils Gmail app for the iPhone

by [email protected] ·

iPhone users with Gmail accounts now have a dedicated app to help them manage their mail.

Out today, the free Gmail iOS app is geared toward iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch owners. Though Gmail users can already access their mail via the Web, through a mobile site, and by setting up an account on their iOS device, the new app tries to borrow from all those sources to offer a host of helpful features in one single place.

Like its web-based counterpart, the new app helps you organize your email by offering a priority inbox, which acts as home to what it considers important messages. You can follow a full trail of related e-mails by viewing conversation threads. And you can manage your mail by starring or labeling individual messages so that Gmail knows what’s important and what’s not.

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You can set up push notifications so that you’re alerted each time a new email comes through. A search option lets you find e-mail by key terms, though unlike the new Gmail Web page, the app offers no advanced search option.

Typing the first few characters of your recipient’s name or address brings up an autocomplete list where you can select the right person. You can also upload and attach any photo stored on your mobile device.

The app takes nice advantage of your device’s touchscreen. You can swipe down on your inbox to retrieve new mail and swipe to the right to view and navigate to the various labels and folders for your mail. iPad users can also view both the labels and emails at the same time through a splitscreen view.

Since Gmail is available in several other ways, many users may see no reason for a dedicated app. But this one is well designed and easy to use. Google said that it built the app with speed and efficiency in mind. And of course it’s free. iOS users who rely on Gmail should consider giving the app a spin.

11.1
11

HTC Radar 4G is first Windows Phone Mango device in U.S.

by [email protected] ·

I purchased the T-Mobile HTC HD7 on launch day last year and have been using it and the Dell Venue Pro as my main Windows Phone devices for the last year. This year we see T-Mobile getting another new Windows Phone device, the HTC Radar 4G, and it is one to consider if you are looking for a WP device.

In the box, first impressions, and pricing

The HTC Radar 4G comes in the same type of rock solid box we are used to seeing from T-Mobile with a glossy image of the device on the front and a list of features on the back. Inside the box you will find the device, battery, USB to A/C charger, USB cable, SIM card, and Quick Start Guide.

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The very first thing I noticed after taking the Radar 4G out of the box was that is looked just like a smaller brother of the HTC Flyer as you can see in my image gallery. It has a sleek unibody aluminum design with a white plastic upper piece around the camera and a lower plastic piece at the bottom. The front face is white with silver around the body and it feels and looks great in your hand.

The HTC Radar 4G will be available at T-Mobile retail stores and through select national retailers and dealers on Nov. 2. The HTC Radar 4G is expected to cost $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate card with a two-year service agreement and qualifying T-Mobile Classic voice and data plan, plus taxes and fees.
Specifications

Specifications for the HTC Radar 4G include the following:

* Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) operating system
* 14.4 Mbps HSPA+ radio
* 1 GHz Snapdragon processor
* 3.8 inch WVGA 800×480 pixels LCD display
* Preinstalled 8GB storage with no expansion capability (about 6GB user accessible)
* 1 GB RAM
* 5 megapixel camera with single LED flash and f/2.2 aperture
* Integrated A-GPS
* Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.1
* 3.5 mm headset jack
* 1520 mAh lithium-ion battery
* Dimensions: 4.7 x 2.4 x 0.44 inches and 4.83 ounces

The battery is non-removable and there is no expandable storage capability. I was disappointed to see only 8GB in the device (only about 6GB is actually usable though) and believe that all Windows Phone devices should have a minimum of 16GB, especially given how cheap flash memory is today. I am not that concerned about the 1 GHz processor since Windows Phone has been shown to fly with minimal processor specifications.

I also understand there is no digital compass in the HTC Radar 4G (kind of ironic given the name) and thus there will be limits on some app usage, such as augmented reality.
Walk around the hardware

The front of the HTC Radar 4G has a 3.8 inch WVGA 800×480 pixels LCD with the three capacitive Windows Phone buttons below the display. You will find a front facing camera on the upper right front, but at this time there is no application that can use it so it’s value is a potential value and not something that can be realized now.

There is a large volume button and camera shutter button on the right side with a microUSB port on the left side. The power button and headset jack are found on the top with just a mic opening on the bottom

On the back you will find the 5 megapixel camera, single LED flash, and speaker grille inside a white plastic area that is not removable. The rest of the back has the unibody aluminum finish with HTC branding. The bottom part is also white plastic and can be removed to access the SIM card slot. Every review I read after I finished writing this one confirmed that the back bottom piece doesn’t seem to fit up and in place as securely as it should and could have been better designed. There is no removable storage card or battery on this device.
Daily usage and experiences

Even though the Radar 4G has a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, it still flies like all the other existing devices upgraded to WP 7.5 (Mango) so I am not concerned at all with the processor. The 5 megapixel camera takes much better photos than the 5 megapixel camera on the HD7 and I do not see any of the pink camera problem found on the HD7. It is not as good as the Amaze 4G though and I am thinking I may hold out for a Nokia WP with Carl Zeiss optics.

The WiFi hotspot function, new to Mango, is in this device and works well. Unfortunately, the “4G” is limited to the 14.4 Mbps speed and not up to the full 42.2 Mbps found in the T-Mobile network in many locations and with the latest Android devices. Unfortunately, I found the RF reception to be a bit disappointing and in areas where I normally have a solid 3G signal I was seeing the words “2G” appear on the Radar 4G, which is something I haven’t seen in a long time.

Phone call quality sounded OK, but also sounded a bit hollow and was not as solid and clear as other phones I have tested recently on T-Mobile. Mobileburn.com also noted there was some hissing noise in calls.

I personally like the form factor and still enjoy using the Windows Phone operating system. However, the limited selection of devices on all carriers, but AT&T, is not a good thing and IMHO is one major factor keeping Windows Phone down in market share figures.

I have only been using the Radar 4G for about 4 days and am finding the battery life to be quite acceptable and much better than the HD7 or Dell Venue Pro I have been using over the past year. It also seems to be beating out my new iPhone 4S.
Will I be buying an HTC Radar 4G?

My wife has been using a blue Nokia N8 since last year and won’t give it up because the camera is fantastic and that is something she values. She doesn’t particularly like the OS though and is tired of lockups, misdialing, etc. I was hoping to see a Windows Phone similar to the HTC Amaze 4G with a great camera since I know she would like WP on a device. The 5 megapixel shooter on the Radar 4G is OK, but as soon as I gave her the device she handed it back and said she did not like the feel of it and wouldn’t consider it.

I love my HTC Flyer Android tablet with very similar form factor and design so I am considering the Radar 4G for myself. However, the limited 8GB internal storage, lack of battery replacement, and camera that is just OK and not super are causing me to hesitate a bit. If I end up being eligible for the full upgrade price of just $100 I will likely pick one up on Wednseday, but I am not going to pay the $450+ that it will probably cost for the unsubsidized phone.

First time buyers who are eligible for the $100 price will like the solid design and form factor and smooth operation, but there are some compelling Android devices on T-Mobile too that do offer more.
Other HTC Radar 4G reviews

The opinions above are mine alone and I always recommend you check out other reviews. You can find a couple others online here:

* Pocketnow.com gave it a 4.5/5
* Mobileburn gave it a 3.8 out of 5

10.31
11

Every Android device now infringes Apple patent: Slide to unlock

by [email protected] ·

Whatever your position is on patent infringement and the never-ending lawsuits in the mobile space, the fact is until the system is overhauled it is the law. I hate that design elements can be patented, instead of actual devices which makes more sense. Apple has been riding the patentability of design elements for a while, and has a number of Android device makers on the ropes as a result. A U. S. patent awarded today to Apple guarantees that every Android phone and tablet ever made infringes Apple’s design.

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Anyone who has touched an Android device has come face-to-face with the slide to unlock feature. The device is inaccessible until a slider or similar control is touched and slid to a boundary, unlocking the gadget. This simple control has now been patented by Apple, removing it from the available design pool to anyone else.

Apple has been picking and choosing its targets for patent infringement litigation carefully, using various patents it owns to go after infringers. This new patent over the simple slide to unlock feature means the company can go after any Android device maker it wants, and likely have success in the courts.

Heck, the control on Windows Phone devices, sliding the lock screen up to access the phone functions, may very well infringe on this patent too. That could extend to the upcoming Windows 8 as early preview versions use this same control to unlock devices.

Apple filed for the slide to unlock patent before the original iPhone was released, and just received confirmation of the patent. That puts every Android device ever made firmly in the infringing category, should Apple choose to get nasty.

10.30
11

Microsoft to eat its own cloud dog food with Photosynth

by [email protected] ·

Microsoft has started moving the 40 terabytes of photo data created with its Photosynth photo-stitching technology to Windows Azure.

In an October 18 post to the Photosynth blog, company officials said the process of moving all Photosynth synths and panos to Azure had begun. Moving the entire 40 terabyes should take a number of weeks, but shouldn’t interfere with users’ ability to view old synths or upload new ones, according to the post.

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Microsoft execs have said since Windows Azure launched in early 2010 that the long-term plan was to host most of Microsoft’s own cloud services on Azure. Most of the company’s new services are hosted on Azure from the get-go these days, but some existing services — like Dynamics CRM, Office 365, Hotmail and Xbox Live — are hosted in Microsoft datacenters, but are not running on top of Azure.

The Photosynth team noted in its post that three years ago when Photosynth launched, Microsoft didn’t have its own general-purpose cloud-based storage and distribution network, so the team used a partner for storage and content-distribution-network (CDN) services.

“But things have changed dramatically in the last few years, and our own  Windows Azure is now among the strongest cloud solutions in the industry,” said the October 18 post. “We’re excited to be ‘eating our own dog food,’ as we say, and moving every last Photosynth pixel to Azure.

As of last week, half of new Photosynth uploads worldwide were being directed to Azure and served using the Azure CDN. If all goes well, Microsoft was expecting to increase this to 100 percent within a few days, and then begin migrating existing content.

In other Windows Azure news, Microsoft is cutting the price of Azure storage, officials said on October 28. For those storing less than a terabyte of data on Azure, the price is going from 15 cents per month to 14 cents per month per gigabyte. For those using up to 50 terabytes, the price is dropping to 12.5 cents per gig. For those using up to 500 terabytes, the new price is 11.2 cents per gig; for those using up to a terabyte, it’s 10.3 cents per gig; and for those using up to 5 petabytes per month, it’s dropping to 8.5 cents per gig. Those using above 5 petabytes per month can call to negotiate their new storage rate.

And on the rumor front, Business Insider is reporting that Kevin Timmons — Microsoft’s former datacenter services general manager who joined Apple to head up its datacenter efforts back in April 2011 — has left Apple to join datacenter solutions vendor CyrusOne. BI says that according to its sources, Timmons didn’t take the post at Apple due topossible non-compete issues with Microsoft.

10.29
11

Google+ Starts Breathing Down LinkedIn’s Neck

by [email protected] ·

With upgrades that cater to business and professional users, Google+ may be causing some raw nerves at LinkedIn. “The professional functionality of G+ combined with search and the new features being added could allow it to surpass LinkedIn as a professional social networking platform and tool in the future,” said William J. Ward, social media professor at Syracuse University.

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Google ( has made a slew of updates to its Google+ social network. It has added new features, provided integration with Google Apps, and made the network available to businesses, universities, and schools that use Google Apps.

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The point behind the upgrades is to continue to drive traffic to the fledgling network and fight the feature wars with other social networks, said Gabe Donnini, lead analyst at Chitika.

“By integrating its popular services into Google+, Google hopes to see its users increase,” Donnini told TechNewsWorld. “It also realizes it has to keep on matching what Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn offer their users — although in just one network.”

Google was unable to respond to TechNewsWorld’s request to comment for this story.

New Features

Among the new features is “What’s Hot,” which shows trending topics on the site and lets users add a particular poster to their Circles from that list.

View Ripples, an experimental feature, lets users see how popular their posts are. It also provides a visualization tool to gauge the activity of other posts. Users can replay activity, zoom in on particular events, and identify top contributors, among other things.

Google+ is also adding Creative Kit, a simplified photo-editing tool, to its menu of options. To promote its use, Google is offering Halloween-oriented special effects and inviting users to submit their creations for a contest. Google will choose the winner on Nov. 3.
Integrating Google Apps

The biggest boost to the Google+ user base will likely come from its integration of Google Apps and the link it is providing businesses and universities. The integration means that users can not only share items within a circle or publicly, but also with everyone in an organization.

Google is getting ready to roll out a tool that will allow existing users to migrate their Google+ profiles to a Google Apps account.

“With this tool, you won’t have to rebuild your circles, and people who’ve already added you to their circles will automatically be connected to your new profile,” Google Product Manager Ronald Ho said in a blog post.
Not So Casual

Bringing Google Apps into the mix lends a certain gravitas to Google+ that Facebook doesn’t have, William J. Ward, social media professor at Syracuse University, told TechNewsWorld.

“The new features and functionality of Google+ and the accessibility of apps is distinguishing G+ as a social enterprise and professional tool compared to Facebook, which is still seen as a casual social tool,” he said.

Then there are the tools themselves, which work well in a corporate environment. “G+ Circles, Hangouts, Hashtags and Google Docs is a powerful combination for organizing information and teams for collaboration, communication and curation,” Ward said.

“The privacy policy and settings of G+ also allow you to create private conversations in your social streams more easily than Facebook,” he pointed out.

Facebook has a legacy and reputation problem, Ward continued. At the same time, the networking capabilities of LinkedIn are limited in their use, at least compared with what Google is building with Google+.

“The professional functionality of G+ combined with search and the new features being added could allow it to surpass LinkedIn as a professional social networking platform and tool in the future,” Ward said.
Security Issues?

It seems as though some of Facebook’s legacy issues are rubbing off on Google+, however, with the end result being that large business buyers don’t necessarily trust Google’s security, suggested Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group.

Those concerns are deep enough that the enhancements to Google+ could prove to be a wash, in his view.

“Businesses are particularly concerned that Google apps have become corrupted by malware,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

“They are concerned about Facebook, and most are discussing launching private social networks that are secure but are concerned whether employees will use them,” he said. “In the interim, unless Google can address the security concerns more aggressively, it is unlikely they will be successful in business to a large degree with Google +.”

10.28
11

Microsoft holding Windows Phone ‘backstage’ event Nov. 7

by [email protected] ·

It looks like Microsoft is gearing up for another big Windows Phone event.

The company just sent out invitations for a “backstage” event held in New York on November 7. Microsoft’s Windows Phone team, including Andy Lees and Joe Belfiore, along with other partners will be on hand to discuss the platform.

Interestingly, Microsoft is hinting at a significant announcement.

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“That’s not the only big thing Windows Phone has planned…” the invitation reads.

The event will be held in the New Yorker hotel in midtown Manhattan, with an additional “unique experience” held at Harold Square, which is located right between the Empire State Building and the Macy’s flagship department store.

AT&T will likely also be in attendance, as all three phones displayed on the invite carry its logo.

The invitation comes right after Nokia unveiled its first Windows Phone devices.

Any thoughts on the big announcement? CNET will be there covering the event, so stay tuned.

10.24
11

Another Android and Chrome OS device developer pays Microsoft patent royalties

by [email protected] ·

Original design manufacturer (ODM) Compal Electronics has licensed publicly undisclosed Microsoft patents and is paying Microsoft undisclosed royalties to cover phones, tablets and e-readers it makes that run Android and the Chrome OS.

Microsoft and Compal announced they had signed a patent agreement on October 23.

Microsoft officials said that with the addition of Compal to its patent-protection roster, Microsoft now has “more than half of the world’s ODM industry for Android and Chrome devices … now under license to Microsoft’s patent portfolio.” (Other ODMs who are paying Microsoft for Android and Chrome patent protection include Wistron and Quanta Computer. Quanta is the ODM for the Amazon Kindle Fire and RIM’s PlayBook.)

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“We are proud of the continued success of our licensing program in resolving IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property at Microsoft, according to a statement in Microsoft’s latest press release.

Microsoft has not publicly disclosed which of its patents that it contends are infringed by Android and Chrome. Barnes & Noble officials said earlier this year, Microsoft officials require OEMs and ODMs to sign non-disclosure statements before sharing with them the details about their alleged infringements. (Barnes & Noble and Motorola Mobility are still engaged in legal battles with Microsoft over Microsoft’s claims that their Android-based devices infringe Microsoft patents.)

Speaking of Motorola Mobility, the International Trade Commission — which is investigating patent-infringement complaints by Microsoft and Apple against Motorola Mobility — has extended the target completion date for those decisions by six weeks due to case backlog, according to Florian Mueller of the FOSS Patents blog. (Mueller repeats in his post his disclosure that he is doing a Microsoft-commissioned study on the worldwide use of FRAND-pledged patents, for what it’s worth.) The initial decision on the Microsoft-Motorola case is now slated for December 16, 2011, with the final decision target date now April 16, 2012.

10.19
11

Ballmer: Android users need to be ‘computer scientists’

by [email protected] ·

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says that people need to be ‘computer scientists‘ to be able to use Android smartphones.

Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Ballmer had this to say when comparing Windows Phone handsets to Android handsets:

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    You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone and you do to use and Android phone…It is hard for me to be excited about the Android phones.

He goes on to tear into the iPhone:

Both [the iPhone and a Windows Phone handset] are going to feel very good in your hand and both going to look very beautiful physically … but when you grab a Windows phone and use it … your information is front and centre … and you don’t have to scroll through seas of icons and blah blah blah. A Windows Phone gets things done.