Tuesday, May 17, 2011

T-Mobile Launches Bobsled by T-Mobile — A New Communications Brand to Bridge the Traditional Telco and IP Worlds

T-Mobile today introduced Bobsled by T-Mobile, a new brand aimed at bridging traditional telecommunications and Internet-based voice and data services to enable people to stay connected in a simple and cost-effective way. The first product available under the new Bobsled by T-Mobile brand is the Bobsled application for Facebook, which provides Facebook’s more than 500 million users worldwide with free, one-touch calling to their Facebook friends from a personal computer and through the social platform’s chat window.

In addition to making live voice calls across the globe, users will also be able to send voice messages to their friends either privately or via their “walls.” The Bobsled application for Facebook is available today as a free download for all Facebook users and is not exclusive to T-Mobile customers. This captures a unique opportunity for the brand, as a recent survey found that 88 percent of Facebook users surveyed want voice chat capabilities within the site.

“T-Mobile’s focus is to innovate to provide simple and affordable communications for customers, enabling people to stay connected wherever they are,” said Brad Duea, senior vice president, T-Mobile USA. “Bobsled by T-Mobile takes our communications services innovation to a whole new dimension, bringing simple and cost-effective connections to more than half a billion people overnight, allowing people on Facebook to more easily connect and giving voice to social networking. Our new Bobsled brand will evolve in the coming months to provide even more ways for people to connect, no matter what platform, device or mobile provider they are using.”

Once downloaded, customers can use the Bobsled application for Facebook to place voice calls to their friends through Facebook Chat with just one click. This is one of the first voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) applications seamlessly integrated into Facebook Chat, which makes it quick and simple to place an impromptu call to a Facebook friend. The application eliminates the need for dialing — users simply click on a friend’s name to start the conversation. There’s also no need to remember screen names or to input numbers. With the new application, customers also can leave a voice message for friends when they’re not available. Anyone on Facebook can receive a call; no application download is required to receive a call via the Bobsled application for Facebook.

As the way people communicate transcends networks and devices, Bobsled by T-Mobile positions T-Mobile as a provider of cloud-based communications services over the Internet. In addition to providing Facebook users with one-touch calling, Bobsled by T-Mobile also powers the Group Text™ and Cloud Text™ applications on the new T-Mobile® Sidekick® 4G. Bobsled Group Text lets customers create, name, manage and participate in reply-all group text conversations, enabling them to lead their network in conversation and social planning. Bobsled Cloud Text provides the option to text with friends or groups across platforms, whether from the comfort of their PC’s large screen and keyboard, or from their new Sidekick 4G.

In the near future, T-Mobile plans to evolve Bobsled by T-Mobile to include video chat, to create the ability to place VoIP calls to mobile and landline U.S. numbers and to offer applications on smartphones and tablets across various mobile platforms, regardless of the carrier that powers such devices.

The Facebook application for Bobsled by T-Mobile is powered by Vivox, Inc., the No. 1 integrated voice platform for the Social Web, offering high quality, best-in-class voice capabilities for clear and crisp calls.

Internet Amazon sacrificing profit for growth drive

Internet Amazon sacrificing profit for growth drive

The world’s largest online retailer Amazon is investing billions and take this into account, to annoy the stock market with falling profits. In the first quarter of the U.S. company still earned $ 201,000,000 – a third less than in the previous year.

At the same time, sales soared by 38 percent to 9.9 billion dollars (6.8 billion euros) is high, such as Amazon announced after U.S. market close on Tuesday.

Amazon attracts customers with low prices and innovative offers. In addition, the dealer puts a lot of money into advertising, into new product areas, the expansion of its logistics centers and the business with cloud computing, providing data and software from the net. In this business, Amazon is a leading player.

Amazon has grown up with books and CDs, and now sells almost everything from televisions to man’s suit. The Group also operates Web hosting, offers movies in the online rentals and sells apps for booming Android smartphones. Amazon recently launched in the U.S. also has a cloud-music service. When he could come to Germany, leaving open Germany boss Ralf Kleber.

"We were never enthusiastic about the long-term opportunities," said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and company tried to win in the investor for its growth. The post-trade share declined slightly.

Even Germany boss adhesive defended the level of investment. Now is the right time for that, also in view of the competition. Amazon in Germany open two new dispatch warehouse and a warehouse previously occupied temporarily operate continuously. "We create thousands of jobs in Germany," said Kleber.

The high costs are also introducing new product groups necessary: "For with the launch begins work on first." Among other things, would have won brands and collection will be collected. Amazon is building this country, among other things his business with fashion and footwear, and consumer goods. With the launch of the German E-book publication in recent days, glue was satisfied. "The Kindle readers have made it debuted at # 1 in the electronics category – and that’s saying something with our offering in the area."

Bezos wants to continue to invest heavily in new products and services. In the current second quarter is expected to present image repeat so. The CEO predicted a sharp rise in sales and falling profits. In previous quarters, had the Spendierhosen Bezos, and so angry shareholders.

Amazon must be careful – the online marketplace eBay is sitting the market leader in the neck. Both companies have now built a small empire. Amazon to include not only the shoe seller Zappos.com and the baby products specialist diapers.com and the online drugstore soap.com. Ebay had the German online-shopping club brands4friends taken and, with his daughter to Paypal and pay services on the web. Even Amazon does not exclude, at some point in financial services to get in, but currently there are no concrete plans, "said Kleber.

In the important Christmas trading Ebay grew considerably slower, but it deserved more. Ebay wanted to present the results for the first quarter late Wednesday evening.

T-Mobile USA Supports Customers Affected By Southern Storms

In the wake of the storms that devastated the southern United States this week, T-Mobile USA has announced efforts to keep customers connected to loved ones, as well as provide relief to those directly impacted by the disaster.

Despite wide-spread power outages affecting more than one million people, T-Mobile voice and data services remain available for customers in the affected areas. “As soon as the storms had left the area, T-Mobile engineers and technicians were onsite to restore crucial communications for our customers,” said Brian Jones, vice president and general manager at T-Mobile USA. “We are working in conjunction with local power companies as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority during the power restoration process. In the meantime, we have deployed generators across the region to ensure our customers are served during this crisis.”

Although the T-Mobile network is up and running, the company continues to take precautionary efforts to safeguard the network. Since commercial power outages have been widespread, T-Mobile has backup generators and additional fuel in place and ready to continue powering the network, if needed. The company’s critical network operations centers have backup and redundancy plans in place and rapid response engineering teams are focused on keeping service up and running for T-Mobile customers.

T-Mobile does not charge for text messages sent to mobile giving campaigns

T-Mobile customers who are interested in helping can text “REDCROSS” to “90999”. Please follow their instructions so that your donation of $10 will be given to the American Red Cross to help with relief efforts. Your donation will be charged to your T-Mobile phone bill, and one hundred percent of this donation goes directly to the Red Cross. T-Mobile does not charge for text messages sent to mobile giving campaigns and customers who do not have a messaging plan will not be charged, nor will the text messages be deducted from messaging plans.

“During this difficult time, we remain committed to working with our customers directly impacted by this disaster,” said Jones. “Our T-Mobile customers have a long history of giving during times of crisis. Working with our partners at the American Red Cross, we have made it even easier to give.”

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition Review

The second generation of Samsung's Galaxy Tab has been longer in the making than the company anticipated. Reportedly, after the launch of Apple's iPad 2, Samsung felt that the planned (and already shown-off) Tab 10.1 was "inadequate." Now they've revamped the Tab's design to make it thinner, lighter, and more of a direct contender to the iPad, not to mention every other Honeycomb tablets on the market. However, design alone does not a great tablet make. Read on to see how the Tab 10.1 stacks up against Apple's tablet and the rest of the Android field.

Editors' Note: The Galaxy Tab we tested was a special limited edition given to attendees of Google's I/O conference. The general consumer version will have a different back, slightly different hardware, and will come with Samsung's TouchWiz interface and an updated versions of Samsung Apps. When that version is available, we'll post another full review.

IPhone 4S Coming to Sprint, T-Mobile, Rumor Says

Months after breaking exclusivity with AT&T, rumor has it the new Apple iPhone 4S will be available on all four of the largest wireless carriers in the U.S.

The newest iPhone is expected in September and will expand from being available on AT&T and Verizon to being available on Sprint and T-Mobile as well, according to a research note from Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek. The note adds China Mobile will possibly be added as a fifth carrier within a year.

If it's true, having the latest iPhone available on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will inevitably help sell more phones and up to competition with Android models.

Android phones are available on the "Big Four," too, meaning for the first time wireless users wouldn't have to switch carriers to make the choice between buying an iPhone or buying an Android model.

This may be just the help Apple needs to win in the battle against Google's increasingly popular line of smartphones. Android first surpassed the iPhone in sales last year, when the iPhone was only available on AT&T, a carrier many were ready to abandon because of poor call service.

Bringing the iPhone to Verizon gave Apple record first-day sales when pre-orders for existing Verizon customers began February 4. The iPhone 4 sold out in two hours that day, proving existing Verizon subscribers wanted to get their hands on the coveted phone, even when they had access to the Droid.

Gaining T-Mobile and Sprint may help iPhone sales the way Verizon did and it makes sense to include both since AT&T has agreed to acquire T-Mobile and this would set the tone for a scorned AT&T to keep the iPhone after the merger.

But sales may not flourish as much with T-Mobile and Sprint, as those carriers together only made up about 24 percent of the U.S. mobile market, as of December, less than AT&T, at 26.6 percent, or Verizon, at 31.3 percent.

Google News Goes Mobile

Google's "News Near You" function for mobile browsers promises location-targeted news that could both nurture and challenge local news publishers.

Android and iPhone users are now given the option of sharing their location when visiting the mobile Google News page, which provides news stories that are relevant to wherever they are. Location-based filtering has long been available on the desktop version of Google News, but not the mobile site.

The service goes beyond simply linking to stories from local outlets, instead including articles about the reader's location that may come from media sources far away.

"We do local news a bit differently, analyzing every word in every story to understand what location the news is about and where the source is located," said the company in a blog post.

With a minor tweak to its mobile portal, Google has jumped easily into the hyper-local news market. It could piggyback on other efforts to address demand for local information like AOL's Patch by providing links to that content.

This could prove to be a symbiotic relationship: a lot of potential readers who know about Google News but have never heard of Patch, for example, could discover the hyper-local news service through Google. The new feature could also bring fresh readers accustomed to national news back to local newspapers.

But content producers have always had an uneasy relationship with Google News, which some see as simply scraping headlines and story summaries for its own gain. Yes, some readers click through to the original story, but others just skim the Google News front page. And when readers do click through, they may not form a connection with the source site.

The next time the reader wants news, they are likely to return to Google News rather than the content provider's site.

Of course, sharing location is required for the new function to work, and the recent controversies surrounding mobile location data may leave potential users thinking twice about opting in.

Technology Improving African Lives

Mobile phones and social media are greatly improving Africa's struggle for human rights, according to Amnesty International.

Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty said that Africa's springtime revolutions, which have continued to oppose entrenched and oppressive dictators, demonstrate the grassroots power of technology.

Free-flowing information on the Internet and mobile phones, he says, are becoming vital in changing the lives of Africans, even those in heavily restricted countries.

As an example, Shetty notes WikiLeaks' effect on the Tunisian revolutions. WikiLeaks published secret government documents that acknowledge Tunisian torture of detainees. Such information led to revolt against President Ben 'Ali in December.

"Support for activists from outside the country may have been strengthened as people scrutinized the WikiLeaks documents on Tunisia and understood the roots of the anger," Shetty said. Tunisia erupted into turmoil against its dictator President Ben 'Ali, throwing him out after 23 years of rule.

Other African countries have experienced similar transformations as a result of technology. After Iran's live Twitter feeds on its controversial elections in 2009, Egypt used Facebook to organize its citizens against ex-President Hosnai Mubarak.

News of Egypt and Tunisia's success spread via phones and the Web to Libya, where a besieged government is now restricting Internet and mobile phone control. This clampdown prompted activist organizations to create the "Free Libyana" mobile network, opening up airwaves for those in the country to talk freely with each other.

Rebels even used Skype chat to communicate with U.S. university students recently, spreading their message to the outside world as well.

African governments are worried and unplugging digital communications to prevent organization of protestors. Turkish authorities are planning to black out the Internet, leading to activists taking to the streets to protest the move.

Censorship may slow down what may only be inevitable, however. As Shetty says, this year "repressive governments faced the real possibility that their days were numbered."

But Shetty also warns people not to rely solely on technology to bring down dictatorships or create peaceful governments.

"There is nothing magical or deterministic about the Internet and other communications technologies. Technology neither respects nor undermines human rights," Shetty said. "It is and will continue to be a tool used by both those who want to challenge injustices around the world and those who want to control access to information and suppress dissenting voices."

Sony Finally Back Online

Sony's PlayStation Network is finally back online, after a massive security breach forced the company to shut down in an increasingly embarrassing and costly debacle.

U.S. subscribers can now access the PlayStation Network as well as Qriocity music streaming services, although restoration may be slow for certain areas and customers can't yet use the PlayStation Store to purchase online games. Users will need to download a software update and change their passwords before resuming an online connection.

The Americas, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand are now online, but Asian countries like Japan and Korea will have to wait until their governments approve Sony's heightened security measures. Sony estimates it will achieve complete restoration worldwide within a month.

Sony's second-in-command Kazuo Hirai once again apologized profusely to angry customers on Saturday night, adding, "We are taking aggressive action at all levels to address the concerns that were raised by this incident, and are making consumer data protection a full-time, company wide commitment."

This renewed commitment to security comes after hackers broke into Sony's network from April 16 to 19 and stole around 100 million users' personal information. Major credit card companies have not yet seen unusual activity, though nearly 23,400 credit and debit card numbers were lifted.

Sony has blamed hacktivist group "Anonymous" for the attacks. While the hacker group did aim a number of "denial of service" attacks at the company, they deny tampering with credit card information. Sony says their April 16-17 attacks distracted the company from handling the much more severe break-in one day later.

Sony won't recover from this blow anytime soon, especially considering their inept handling of an already-embarrassing data breach. The company knew of the breach starting April 19 but did not tell the public until six days later, prompting lawsuits from disgruntled consumers and demands for explanations from government officials around the world.

This silence has done nothing to bolster consumer trust in the besieged company, whose allegedly weak security systems put millions of customers at risk for credit card fraud and identity theft.

Sony will have a long way to climb before it emerges from this hole. Since the network shutdown, its shares have dropped nine percent, though they rose slightly today as the company clawed its way back to functionality.

After its delayed response, the gaming giant has made a series of "peace offerings," like free games, as well as credit card monitoring and identity-theft protection up to $1 million for affected U.S. customers. Whether these efforts are enough to regain trust among customers after such a high-profile breach, however, remains to be seen.

Microsoft Attempts Comeback With "Mango" Software

Microsoft announced its "Mango" Windows Phone 7 update will contain many new business features, as the software giant tries to catapult itself back into relevance in the smartphone market.

At its TechEd 2011 conference today, Microsoft said the Mango update will include cloud-connectivity via Windows Live SkyDrive, as well as integration with its Lync unified communications product.

Users will be able to save documents on Office 365 in addition to taking advantage of pinnable e-mail folders and improved data encryption. Mango will also allow business people to see e-mails in conversation view, plus search old messages on back-end servers.

This hefty dose of updates is Windows' attempt to catch up in the smartphone market, especially on the business end, where it once flourished before BlackBerry and others came along. Microsoft's Windows Mobile enjoyed brief popularity with its 2002 release, but according to analytics firm ComScore, the company now owns only 7.5 percent market share in the smartphone business.

The picture still looks bleak for Microsoft, with the Android platform now dominating the U.S. smartphone market, the once ubiquitous RIM steadily sliding second place, and Apple's iOS in a gaining third. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and its fledgling app store have not exactly rocked the market, as many see the design of both as a pale reflection of Apple's streamlined iPhones and App Store.

But there is good news, too. Even the thinnest BlackBerry yet has failed to produce an enthusiastic consumer response, not to mention the PlayBook's lukewarm reception. Microsoft's new Windows 7 Phone, though it received similarly uninterested reviews, could scoop RIM's dropping customers with its new business-oriented Mango updates and that me the target its gunning for.

Also, Microsoft is set to install its Windows OS on Nokia phones within a year. Nokia, still the world's largest handset maker by volume, has seen profits decline ever since failing -- like Microsoft -- to recognize the importance of app-centric, touch screen phones. But though individually neither is doing terribly well at the moment, a partnership between Nokia and the Redmond-based company may put a large dent in the smartphone market.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play game sales disappoint

New figures suggest that PlayStation certified games on Android are not selling at quite the rate most expected.

Currently it is only the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play that can access PlayStation certified games, which does limit how many can be sold, but a month after launch and some of the titles are selling in their hundreds or very low thousands.

PlayStation Lifestyle has published sales figures for a variety of the games available in the store and they are as follows:

  • Cool Boarders 2: 100-500
  • Destruction Derby: 500-1,000
  • Jumping Flash: 50-100
  • MediEvil: 100-500
  • Syphon Filter: 100-500

Revolutionary device

All of these games are available through the Android Market, where the number of installs are shown, and they all have a price tag of £3.99 – which is quite pricey for Android.

Sony Ericsson is putting a brave face on the sales, saying that there are no concerns about the low numbers at the moment.

"There's no concerns, it's a revolutionary device, it's shaking up the market, we're very pleased with it," said Dominic Neil-Dwyer, Head of Market Development at Sony Ericsson.

"In terms of getting the PlayStation Certified program out, generally, we're very happy. I think we'll make a full assessment of if it has achieved our expectations fully, further down the line, so we're very happy."

It will be interesting to see how well the PlayStation certified games do when more compatible handsets are released.

We're hoping it will be better news, as we don't think Sony can handle much more bad news at the moment, what with the PSN hack problems still on-going.

Apple to release iPhone 4S - with 'minor updates'? Read more: http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/apple-to-release-i

The new iPhone from Apple looks set to only be an incremental upgrade after an analyst noted the new model will likely be called the iPhone 4S.

In a similar move from the iPhone 3G to the 3GS (which saw only a slight processor improvement, video camera and compass added) the iPhone 4S will only feature slight spec upgrades, according to Jefferies and Co. analyst Peter Misek:

"According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support," he wrote.

This is the tale of a new iPhone

These claims of 'better cameras' have been corroborated by leaked images of the new cameras from Apple.pro to be used in the next version of the phone - the iPhone 4S will reportedly have a separate flash from the main sensor.

The iPhone 4 has the flash built directly into the camera unit, so the new design could herald an even thinner iPhone 4S with that larger screen so many have been harping on about for months.

The relocation of the flash makes sense given the leaked images of a possible iPhone 4S case... but we've been down this rumour route so many times we've got loyalty cards for service stations on the Apple Highway.

Read more: http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/apple-to-release-iphone-4s-with-minor-updates--956098#ixzz1MbeSv1BD

iPhone 5 to take over September iPod event? Read more: http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/iphone-5-to-take-over-sep

Supply chain rumours are still rumbling that Apple's iPhone 5 will be subject to some kind of delay.

The latest chatter comes from Avian Securities, where analysts are saying that production on the new iPhone won't start until September.

A note from the firm reads, "Conversations with yet another key component supplier indicates that production for iPhone 5 will begin in September.

"This is consistent with Avian findings in the supply chain in recent months and we believe the consensus view is moving towards this scenario."

Mega iPod v Giant iPhone

An iPhone 5 UK release date of September would put the iPhone 5 squarely into what has traditionally been iPod territory; Apple has always launched its iPod range refreshes at a music-themed event in early Autumn.

New iPhones are usually revealed at WWDC, but given that the focus of this year's event is set to be software rather than hardware focused, a September iPhone release date is suddenly sounding more viable than ever before.

iPhone 5 UK release date: 21 November?

Phones4U has let slip that the fifth generation iPhone will hit the shelves on 21 November 2011.

This new date thrown out by Phones4U's anonymous representative while speaking to TechRadar BFF T3 ties in quite nicely with speculation that Apple is delaying the next iPhone launch until September; usually new iPhone hardware is revealed in June.

We're still around 99 per cent sceptical of Phones4U and its mooted date, however; we're fairly confident that Apple wouldn't go around telling retail staff details of the next iPhone when it's a secret guarded as closely as who reallyshot JFK and just what did happen at Roswell, particularly when we're still a good six months away from the supposed release.

Questions also remain as to what we'll be calling the next Apple smartphone – will it be the iPhone 5? Or the iPhone 4S, as mooted by an analyst earlier today? Or perhaps something else entirely. The excitement on this issue is palpable.


The iPhone 4S is rumoured to bring small updates the iPhone 4, bringing a better processor, cameras, "minor cosmetic changes" and HSPA+ support.

Despite the apparently negligible upgrades which you might think suggest a June release, Apple appears to be having supply issues following recent events in Japan, and could delay the next iPhone until things are back on an even keel.

While iPhone 5 rumours have been milled to the point that we could probably make bread with them if we wanted, Phones4U's spurious proclamation still gives us no clear answer to the question of whether we'll see a new iPhone launch at WWDC next month, and probably won't be until that thrilling 'one more thing' moment.

Samsung introduces forum to help Android developers

Samsung has just announced the debut of a new forum for Android developers that will provide support and help with Samsung specific development platforms.

The new site, which can be found at developer.samsung.com, will provide technical support as well as news and updates regarding Samsung's development platforms. Development tools will be made available to aid programmers in creating Augmented Reality and Location Based Services apps. There is also a Theme Tool, Sensor Simulator, and Remote Test Lab to help developers test their apps on real devices.

Toshiba to show off 367dpi displays for mobile devices

Toshiba has announced that it will reveal a slew of new display technologies this week, including displays for mobile devices with resolutions of up to 367 dots per inch (dpi).

The new displays will be shown at the 2011 Society for Information Display (SID) International Symposium later this week. Screens with sizes of 3.3 inches up to 4 inches, and resolutions ranging from WVGA (480x 854) on up to HD (720 x 1280) will be on display. Toshiba claims these new displays also offer extremely wide viewing angles and high color gamuts.

For reference, the Apple iPhone 4's 3.5-inch Retina display has a dpi rating of 326, based upon

Evidence, speculation of Motorola DROID X2 launch surfaces

A number of bits and pieces of information about an upcoming Motorola DROID X2 for Verizon Wireless have surfaced recently. A user manual for the device was found, posted, and then removed. TG Daily even went so far as to definitively say that the DROID X2 was being announced on May 26, though it provided absolutely no information on its sources. We've also seen some indications that the original DROID X was to get a Gingerbread update soon, but that it has been possibly postponed due to the X2 version shipping with Android 2.2 Froyo, though this is all highly speculative.

Samsung postpones May 24 event without explanation

Samsung USA had previously sent out a "save the date" email notice for a planned event on May 24 in New York City. Speculation on what the event was to feature ranged from the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet to Samsung's Galaxy S II smartphone. In any case, the event has been postponed as of this afternoon with no new date provided. We were told to expect more information soon.

BlackBerry PlayBook Review

The tablet war is definitely hotting up now, and it isn’t just a case of choosing a tablet that looks nice. RIM, maker of the BlackBerry, is the latest company wanting a slice of Apple’s pie with its 7-inch screen pad, the PlayBook.

It’s a handsome piece of kit that looks great and feels good in the hand. It has a very wide bezel, but there’s a reason for that. The bezel is partly touch-sensitive, so you wake the screen, for example, by swiping your finger from one edge to another; there’s no Home button as there is on the iPad.

You can also wake it with the power button mounted on the top edge, but the swiping action is a lot more fun!

And you use the same swiping-from-the-bezel movement to switch from one app to another. One stroke from bottom to top shrinks the active window to a smaller image which sits alongside other active apps. This works well and if you were watching a video or playing a game when doing this, the powerful dual-core processor has no trouble continuing to play it in the reduced window until you flip to another program.

This is multi-tasking simply and effectively executed, courtesy of the new operating system RIM is using for its tablet. When you want to close a program or app, you simply flick it offscreen (a similar process used on HP’s upcoming TouchPad, with a lot of ideas taken from the former Palm webOS interface)

It’s a deeply satisfying way of controlling things. Stroke downwards from the top and a full menu drops down. Neat.

The screen is high-resolution and super-sharp, so games and video look very impressive and high-definition. However, it can be a little tricky to see the display (even on full brightness) in the great outdoors on one of the few days where we’re privileged enough to enjoy bright sunlight.

The BlackBerry Desktop software makes it easy to synchronise your music and video collection with your PlayBook, or at least it does if you’re a Windows user. Mac compatibility is coming later, but for now you can connect it by using a micro-USB cable and drag-and-drop content instead.

Next to the USB connector is a mini HDMI-out socket. With this you can mirror the content of the PlayBook on the big screen. This is great for playing your movies back, gaming and it’s equally useful for playing a presentation. After all, the PlayBook isn’t just about playing.

RIM is known mostly as a business company, so it’s no surprise there are strong enterprise capabilities alongside its multimedia skills. And as it’s also a BlackBerry, you would expect exceptionally tight security to play a part in the software design.

So concerned is RIM about ensuring sensitive business data contained in emails is not lost if a PlayBook is left on a plane, say, that it has developed a system called BlackBerry Bridge. This connects the tablet to your BlackBerry phone, via Bluetooth, and lets the PlayBook see and edit (and delete) the emails on your Blackberry. Break the connection and the data disappears from the tablet.

This means that to make the most of the PlayBook, for now, you need a BlackBerry phone as well. For those without one, RIM will release a native email client for the PlayBook in the next few months, along with BlackBerry Messenger, Contacts and Calendar apps that can run independently.

It’s also rather vital to point out that the PlayBook only has a Wi-Fi connection. There’s no SIM card slot, so you’ll either need to tether it with your BlackBerry, or carry another smartphone that can share data via Wi-Fi.

New Sony Ericssons spotted, meet the CK15i and the ST18i

A group of new Sony Ericsson phones surfaced online and though little is known about those, we have their shots all lined up. The two most interesting members of the group are the CK15i and the ST18i.

The CK15i looks to be the first Sony Ericsson non-smartphone, non-Android device of 2011. This small touchscreen handset will apparently support a 240x400 pixel display, run on SE's A200 platform and come complete with a slide-out hardware keyboard. The only other thing we know at this time is a possible name, the Sony Ericsson Txt Pro.

The other mysterious device spotted is the ST18i. Even less is known about this model and due to the fact it sports the 'Xperia' moniker, will as a result probably run some iteration of Android. In the photos above you can see it has an 'HD' camera on the back, a front-facing camera, loud speaker grill and judging by the size of the sim slot, is a little smaller than the Sony Ericsson X8 with the looks of the Xperia Mini, but it's hard to tell. We're sure more information will trickle out soon enough and we'll be there when it does.

Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab to get Gingerbread, officially

Samsung has just come up with an official statement on the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Tab Gingerbread updates. Both are getting some later this month and unlike previous rumors, this one's as official as it gets.

The Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Gio, Galaxy Mini and Galaxy Fit owners are going to rejoice as well, as Samsung are launching Gingerbread for these mid-rangers, too.

The Galaxy S Android 2.3 update has been anticipated since March and it's high-time for Samsung to release it. With this update Samsung promises better performance due to a lower CPU consumption rate and enhanced 3D graphics.

The Gingerbread update will first start rolling out in the UK and Nordic Countries from "mid-May", followed by the rest of Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. If the "mid-May" part is to be trusted, we should see the update in the next couple of days.

Acer Liquid Mini (E310) Review

Look around and you’ll see no shortage of smartphones with huge screens, but what about the people ready to get their first smartphone that don’t fancy something the size of a DVD case in their back pocket?

Sony Ericsson recently told What Mobile that the rapid move by the phone industry from feature phones to smartphones was leaving a large number of people struggling to find something comparable to replace their old phone.

To satisfy this market, Sony Ericsson brought out the Xperia X10 mini and X10 mini pro models. They did exceptionally well too, proving these people existed, prompting two new models that will come out later this year.

Unsurprisingly, it has also prompted other manufacturers to get in on the action with their own ‘mini’ models, including Samsung (Galaxy Mini), HTC (Wildfire S) and now Acer with the Liquid Mini.

The first miniaturised Sony Ericsson smartphones had low-resolution screens and lacked power, and Acer has taken the same approach by using a rather sluggish 600MHz processor, albeit with a decent amount of RAM (512MB). By comparison, the two new Sony Ericsson Xperia mini models will have the latest-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, running at 1GHz, and with the latest graphics co-processor.

This does mean the Liquid Mini is going to find it tough going in a market where anything below 1GHz is going to be associated with being entry level, or for people on a tight budget.

The otherwise impressive five-megapixel camera is fixed-focus (using an Enhanced Depth of Field sensor) and it lacks an LED flash. On the video side, it also lacks HD, but it can record at 720×480 pixels at 30 frames per second. Not bad, but not great either.

If you assumed the Liquid Mini was a smaller version of the latest Liquid Metal, think again. The Liquid Mini isn’t actually that small. It has a footprint that is slightly bigger than a Motorola DEFY, although it is slightly thinner. Compared to Samsung’s Galaxy S II, LG’s Optimus 2X or Sony Ericsson’s Xperia arc it is small, but Acer has perhaps missed the point slightly.

The screen resolution is higher than an Xperia X10 mini, at 320×480 pixels (the same as the new Sony Ericsson Xperia mini) but it has to be given it is 3.25-inches. The X10 mini got away, just, with QVGA (240×320 pixels) because it had a much smaller screen. It was also released a year ago.

But, size aside, the phone doesn’t look bad, with a nice curved design and rounded edges. The mix of black and silver works well, and you can also get other side and rear colours if you prefer – although the front always remains black. It’s minimalist, inoffensive and has a decent balance between the screen and its surrounding bezel.

It’s good to see a dedicated camera button too, making the camera easily accessible even if the lack of autofocus and a flash could discourage you from using the camera very often.

What is a lot less welcome is Acer’s continued use of its custom front-end UI that is completely at odds with the whole way that the Android operating system works.

When using the Acer UI instead of the native Android UI, the menu button toggles between the home screen and the app folder (although it continues to work as designed within apps). The notification bar also requires scrolling to view different information, although one nice feature is the lock screen which conveys useful information like missed calls and messages.

LG to update Optimus 2X this May, fix bugs and stuff

In a Facebook status update LG announced their plans to issue a software update for the Optimus 2X. The device has been on the market for couple of months now, but there's still some time before its Gingerbread update arrives.

According to developers, the Optimus 2X felt kind of rushed, as some of the code wasn't as optimized as it could've been and some occasional reboots occurred. Well, it looks as if LG has listened to the users complaints and the upcoming software update is going to address them.

Some of the fixes include reinforced video formatting, resulting in a better functioning video/music player and prevention of freezes and reboots. The update should be out by the end of May.

Vodafone announces Smart, cheap droid on pre-paid plan

Affordable, carrier-branded smartphones are about the easiest way to jump onto the smartphone bandwagon. Vodafone has a new offering coming, the Vodafone Smart, that they hope will bolster their smartphone sales, which already make up 40% of the phones they sell in Europe.

The Vodafone 858 Smart runs Android 2.2 Froyo and promises the full Android experience. It’s not a high-powered device by any measure – it’s powered by a Qualcomm MSM7225 chipset. Vodafone didn’t specify clock speed, though that sort of chipset has its CPU typically running at 528MHz.

The Smart has a 2.8” QVGA capacitive touchscreen (bummer!) and a 2MP camera. The phone is 3G-enabled with 3.6Mbps HSPA though it only has one 3G band (which is enough for Vodafone’s needs). Also in the connectivity department, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack, USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and A-GPS. The Vodafone 858 Smart supports microSD cards up to 32GB.

The 858 Smart is fairly compact, measuring 12.6mm thick and weighing 104 grams.

The Vodafone 858 Smart will be available in early summer, on a pre-paid data plan (no details on other available plans yet) for about €90 (£80). That certainly sounds expensive as Orange, for instance, has the much more capable San Francisco for only £99.

The phone will be available in the UK, Germany and Italy first and other Vodafone countries later. The phone comes preloaded with Vodafone Music and an app to top up your account.

It will initially launch in black and white color versions, but others will be available afterwards and users will even be able to personalize their phone with custom graphic designs.

In case you were wondering, the Vodafone 858 Smart is based on the Huawei U8160.

FCC dissects Nokia X7, tests only two of its five 3G bands

Sometimes the FCC tears a phone apart and we look on with ghoulish delight. The victim this time was the Nokia X7, which sports AT&T compliant bands even though we last heard that AT&T has lost interest in the handset.

There were even leaked photos of the Nokia X7 sporting the AT&T badge, but the external photos of the X7 unit tested by the FCC had no carrier markings, just the Nokia logo.

It’s curious that the FCC only tested the 850/1900 bands – the Nokia X7 is a penta-band device that should work with the AWS (1700MHz) band just as easily as with the 850/1900 bands.

There’s no hint of the X7 on Nokia’s US site for now, so no info on whether the phone will only be sold SIM-free or if the Finns have also managed to strike a deal with a carrier.

Symbian has never been particularly popular in the US and we suspect even the Anna update won’t help much. Still, a 4” AMOLED screen with Gorilla glass, 8MP camera with 720p video and free life-time navigation with Ovi Maps, uh, we mean Nokia Maps make for an appealing device. Any US citizens interested?

Vodafone Calls On Smartphone Profits

The world's biggest mobile phone company, Vodafone, posted striking annual profits mainly due to its customers upgrading to smartphones.

Vodafone made almost £9.5bn before tax in the ye

ar to the end of March, a rise of 9.5% on last year.

The British mobile phone company posted solid financial results for 2010/11, with revenues of £45.9bn.

It gained or held market share in most of its major markets and said it was leading the switch to higher tariff smartphones.

Strong performance from key emerging markets also helped drive up numbers.

India reported growth of 16.2% and Vodacom, which operates in South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, posted growth of 5.8%.

In the UK, the growth of smartphones and mobile internet bundles helped Vodafone increase service revenue by 4.7%.

Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao said:"Continuing network investment is an important differentiator for Vodafone.

"Improving the customer experience and giving us leadership in smartphone penetration and in customer take up of data plans."

Mr Colao added: "We enter the new financial year well positioned to deliver further value to our shareholders."

Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini and Xperia Mini Pro

Marketing departments can be idiots, something that's plainly obvious when it comes to the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini and Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro, two exceptionally wordy product names that are likely to cause confusion amongst consumers.

These new "Mini" devices are a bit bigger and heavier than their predecessors, but the screen size has had a significant boost to 3" in size rather than the 2.55" previously, and the screen resolution has been improved at 320 x 480 pixels compared with 240 x 320. The new "Mini" is about 4% bigger and 7% heavier than the old one, the new "Pro" is about 10% bigger and 13% heavier, so the trade-off is actually pretty good.

The main difference between the two models is that the Pro comes with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and the ordinary Mini does not. The Pro also sports a front-facing camera for video calls.

Inside is a 1GHz snapdragon CPU. Although these are not dual-core devices, it is certainly enough to make multimedia and applications run speedily on the modestly-sized display. Internal RAM is 512MB, which is a lot more than in the previous version. The Mini and Minipro are HSPA capable devices with WiFi, they also come with a pretty large 1200 mAh battery which is quoted as giving a theoretical maximum of about 4 to 5 hours talktime and 14 days standby on 3G. Bluetooth and USB connectivity are supported.

The new Minis also support DLNA integration with home networks and entertainment systems, have an FM radio and a microSD slot for storing media and applications.

On paper, there is very little that we can fault with these two devices. All mobile phones are a compromise when it comes to design, but Sony Ericsson seem to have done well to fit so much in such a small form factor. If you are looking for a decently specified Android device but traditional ones seem a bit big, then it is likely that the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini and Mini Pro devices will be worth considering when they come to market in Q3 2011.

Vodafone launches £80 smartphone for everyone

Vodafone will launch its own-brand Android smartphone, the Vodafone Smart, aimed at prepay users. The phone goes on sale in the UK, Germany and Italy for £80 (€90) later in the summer.

The handset, manufactured by Huawei, comes with Android 2.2, a capacitive touchscreen display, 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

It will be available in a range of colours, with customers able to further customise the phone with one-off covers produced via the web. The network plans to offer spring/summer and autumn/winter cover ranges so customers can build up a cover collection.

In addition to the exterior Vodafone branding, the handset will also include Vodafone’s ‘prepay manager’ app for quick top-ups, as well as the Vodafone Music app and an ‘Updates’ widget that highlights the latest Android Market apps and other services picked by Vodafone editors.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Apple's iAd Program Reaches 100 Campaigns

As reported by The Loop, Apple has reached a milestone in its iAd mobile advertising push, with its 100th ad campaign having rolled out with content from real estate company Coldwell Banker.

The campaign began in late March and so far, the results are glowing. [Coldwell Banker chief marketing office Michael] Fischer said the iAd garnered and average of 11 pages viewed per visit; average user engagement time of more than one minute; tap rates 5 times higher than average online banner ad click-through rates; and conversion rates four times higher than online display and search ads.

It is unclear from the report whether the figure of 100 iAd campaigns includes iAds for Developers, a lower-cost option that allows App Store developers to advertise in other apps with a basic ad format, although presumably these are not included in the total.

Apple earlier this year sliced the buy-in fee for major advertisers in half from $1 million to $500,000, hoping to draw in new advertisers as the company has sought to increase fill rates amid exploding device sales and developer adoption that have dramatically increased the number of available ad slots.

Just last month, Apple released an iAd Gallery app for iOS devices, featuring some of the campaigns that have made appearances in the iAd program.

Apple iPad 2 stars in vacation videos

Luckily, Apple’s iPad 2 was packed for this two-week New Zealand trip. It was included to use e-mail and Skype, plan travels, play endless hours of Angry Birds — and shoot and edit high-definition video on the go.

The iPad’s nearly 10-inch sexy screen was a natural for reviewing homemade videos right on the spot. Spectators were amazed when showed newly captured footage of erupting geysers or Kiwi bungee jumpers.

And courtesy of Apple’s $4.99 iMovie app and rival video programs ReelDirector and Splice, you can turn these little productions into mini video postcards. It’s then a breeze to get them right onto Facebook, direct from your motel room. You don't have to wait until you get home. Nor do you have to worry that your creation will forever rot in your camera.

The New Zealand trip yielded four finished iPad-produced pieces. There would have been more had it been possible to include the video clips shot and imported from other cameras into the iPad. But they don’t work in iMovie without going through a serious workaround. More on that in a moment.

First, let’s talk about the iPad 2 as a video-capture device. The pros are big: a huge screen, instant gratification, exceptional video quality in good light. But the cons are many: no flash, no zoom and it’s bulky. It does not fit well into a pocket or tote. There’s no tripod mount for it either, so your finished video could get quite shaky. And the unsteadiness is much more noticeable on the larger screen.

That issue can be fixed by using instant crutches — like positioning the iPad on a fence, a desk, the ground, anything to keep it steady.

On the trip, point-and-shoot cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic were also brought along, to test out for future reviews, and they all had the features the iPad lacks: zoom, flash, tripod mounts, removable memory and better lenses.

In each case, the video quality from the cameras was sharper and crisper, especially on the Canon PowerShot S95.

But none had that huge tablet screen for monitoring the video. Nor the add-on features that people love about the iPad, such as the Web browser and all those apps. And you can’t make a video on a Canon camera, edit it right there on the spot, click a button and send it directly to Facebook.

So let’s get back to the editing process. Apple’s mobile iMovie, introduced for the iPhone 4 in 2010, is a nifty little program that will trim the excess from your clips and put in menus, titles, music and sound effects. You also get the ability to record voice-overs for narration. But it has some shortcomings.

In iMovie, you begin with your raw video footage, and Apple gives you three choices: video — most likely from the iPad — photos from the “camera roll” and music from your iPad.

The bad part is that you won’t be able to access video clips shot on other cameras and imported into the iPad. So if you plan on editing while on vacation, using a variety of video sources, you’re out of luck unless you also bring a laptop — and that’s a pain.

To convert, you’ll need to import the footage to a computer and iTunes, click the Advanced tab, and click the “convert to iPad” tab. Then you’ll need to sync the laptop and iPad to get the video back onto the tablet.

This step was especially frustrating, as the clips from the Canon and Nikon cameras had already been imported and played just fine on the iPad — but were non-existent in iMovie.

Fortunately, the App Store offers other video programs. Yet there are only a few video-editing tools there. Both Splice — which has a free version — but you'll need to spend for transitions, background music and other features — and ReelDirector, which goes for $1.99, were at the top of the list. Both came in handy on the trip by allowing point-and-shoot camera footage along with the iPad footage.

Those programs are bare-bones compared with iMovie, though. ReelDirector is the better of two, but unlike iMovie, you won't get menus, audio-editing controls or one-click uploads here.

Still, after spending time editing with the iPad 2 when it first came out, then in New Zealand on travel videos, here’s what would be nice to see in iMovie: easier trimming of videos, more transitions, manual options on photo zooms, more menu choices, better control of video titles and more fadeout controls.

Let’s face it, though. Most people never get around to editing their videos. So having easy-to-obtain software on a device that lets you edit anywhere, like the iPad, will, hopefully, result in more polished videos. This is a great start.

But just as with games, which bring you in for a small fee then sell you add-ons, Apple might just have a good market for iMovie add-ons, either with tools or a more robust iMovie Pro version.

iPhone 5 Sunday Coffee Break: What If Our Smartphone-inspired Lifestyle Suddenly Disappeared?

Welcome to our second edition of the iPhone 5 Sunday Coffee Break! This is our end-of-week chance to sit back on a Sunday morning with our coffee (or tea for our Brit readers), stop stressing about the iPhone 5, and wax poetic about some ideas and impressions about technology, lifestyle, and culture. We hope you’ll stop in and leave a comment or two.

There’s no doubt that smartphones have completely revolutionized the way people communicate, shop, do business, and have fun. In fact, you can argue that mobile computing has put social networking like Facebook, Twitter and yes, even this blog, on the map by allowing people to keep in constant contact with their network of friends. And given the popularity of blogging and social networking, you can take this thinking one step further and argue that smartphones have contributed to a total redesign of community and society as we know it.

For better or for worse, traditional communities have been replaced by virtual communities, and our iPhones, Androids, and other smartphones are the crucial link to those communities.

With that being said, have you ever considered what it would mean if mobile computing came to a screeching halt?

It’s probably hard to imagine; our virtual lifestyles are omnipresent. Thanks to the 3G — and soon to be 4G — network, our connection to the Internet, email, music, media, voice and video calls are near-instant, seamless, and fluid. Because of this, the iPhone becomes like an extension of our selves — much like what driving a car becomes for many. As a result, if mobile networking was suddenly cut off, it would mean losing a critical aspect of our lives.

Life Before the iPhone

I remember the good old days of pay phones. I remember my 2600 baud modem. I remember my Dad getting that huge cell phone that plugged into you car’s cigarette lighter and came in a small suitcase. Those were the waning days of traditional community and culture.

Those days are long gone.

For my part, I use my smartphone for work, leisure, and keeping in contact with my family. For work, in addition to monitoring and keeping in contact with my clients, I can also easily moderate and track the iPhone 5 News Blog from anywhere — even if I was in the middle of the Gobi desert. I can also keep in contact with my wife throughout the day, share links to interesting articles, make plans for the evening, adjust our ever-changing, kid-centric schedules. And sometimes it’s just nice to have a diversion when traveling for business or waiting for an appointment.

It isn’t as though life without the iPhone is an impossibility; many of us have done it before, and we went without smartphone technology for a lot longer than we have with it. But it might be interesting to share some of the ways that smartphones impact our lives — and what kind of impact it would have on our lives if mobile computing suddenly disappeared.

It could happen. Wikipedia “solar flares” or read about Senate Bill S.773, which, by the way, became law on June 28, 2010.

How about you? What are some of the ways that the iPhone makes a big difference in your life? And how would it impact your life if smartphone technology was shut down?

Cell phone buying guide

Buying a cell phone is more than a matter of choosing a handset--you also have to pick a service provider, or carrier, as well. Each carrier in the United States offers a different selection of technologies and services, so it's important to think about your needs when making a choice. For that reason, selecting a carrier should be the first step in the cell phone buying process.
a closer look at service providers in our Quick guide to cell phone carriers. Besides the major operators, you might also consider Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) carriers that cater to a special demographic or lifestyle. For example, Virgin Mobile is targeted toward younger users while Boost Mobile is centered on urban users who want advanced features. MVNOs do not operate their own cellular network, but they lease network space from national carriers instead.
Ultimately though, you should base your decision on which carrier offers the best reception in your area. Because evaluating wireless coverage requires experience with the network in a wide variety of physical locations, CNET does not rate wireless carriers, but we've partnered with Root Wireless to create a tool for determining the best carrier for your neighborhood, commute, or workplace. Be sure to check it out. Word of mouth also is helpful when selecting a provider. Since reception varies sharply by location, ask your friends and family which carrier they use. Also, since there's no substitute for real-world experience, ask to borrow a friend's phone, and test it in your house and your workplace. Remember that carriers have a grace period during which you can test the service and return the phone without voiding the contract. Yet if you do return a phone and cancel a contract, you may have to pay for calls made during the usage period.

iPhone 5: 20 most-wanted features

I originally posted this column the day after the iPhone 4 launched, which is why you see a lot of comments dating back to June of last year. At the time, I apologized for talking about the next-generation iPhone within hours of the 4's release, but I knew that a lot of iPhone 3 and 3GS owners (like me) were planning on skipping the iPhone 4 and were already looking ahead.

Back in January, we got the iPhone 4 from Verizon. Except for some small design changes, including some tweaks to the antenna design, it really wasn't different from the AT&T version and wasn't considered an incremental upgrade or iPhone 4.5.

Now the iPhone 5 rumors are flying fast and furious, with June, the typical launch window for next-generation iPhones, quickly approaching. Will the iPhone 5 have a completely new design or just be a slightly modified version of the iPhone 4 with enhanced parts and various tweaks? Will the launch be delayed until fall, as several reports are now suggesting? Will there be a smaller, lower-cost iPhone?

All is unknown. But that hasn't stopped me from updating this list of most-wanted features with information gleaned from the arrival of the iPad 2, as well as other new products and services.

As a reminder, the 20 items in the list are ordered from least to most important in a reverse countdown. I've also included what I think are the odds of Apple actually implementing each request. As always, feel free to agree or disagree with me and make your own suggestions (and to post your own ordered wish list). Perhaps Apple's listening.

Microsoft, Nokia Take Apple App Store Battle to Europe

Microsoft, Nokia and two other companies have filed requests to deny Apple the trademark to "App Store" in the European Union.

The battle over “App Store” continues, with Microsoft and Nokia filing requests with the European Union’s trademark agency to invalidate Apple’s trademark claim to the term.

Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB and HTC have joined with Microsoft and Nokia in filing separate counterclaims, according to Bloomberg. Both “App Store” and “Appstore” are in the companies’ collective cross hairs. “We believe that they should not have been granted because they both lack distinctiveness,” reads a Microsoft statement on the matter.

Microsoft is already battling Apple over trademark claims to “App Store” in the United States, where the former argued in a filing before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trial and Appeal Board that “app store” is “generic for retail store services featuring apps and unregisterable for ancillary services such as searching for and downloading apps from such stores.”

Amazon.com has also locked legal horns with Apple over the term, with the two companies exchanging tit-for-tat lawsuits. Apple’s original lawsuit, filed March 18, took the online retailer to task for its Appstore for Android, which exists separately from Android Marketplace, the cloud-based bazaar for hundreds of thousands of applications for Android-based smartphones and tablets.

“Defendants admit that Amazon has not received a license or authorization from Apple to use the term ‘app store,’” read part of Amazon’s response to Apple’s lawsuit, “and contend that no such license or authorization is required because ‘app store’ is a generic term, and Amazon’s use of the term causes no likelihood of confusion, dilution or unfair competition.”

Amazon’s counterclaim reduced the argument down to linguistics. “Based on their common meaning, the words ‘app store’ together denote a store for apps, such as the app stores operated by Amazon and Apple,” the filing read. “The American Dialect Society, a leading group of U.S. linguists, recently voted ‘app’ as the ‘Word of the Year’ for 2010, noting that although the word had been around for ages, it ‘really exploded in the last 12 months.’”

Microsoft used a similar tactic in its own filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, arguing that “app store” is commonly used “in the trade, by the general press, by consumers, by Apple’s competitors and even by Apple’s founder and CEO Steve Jobs, as the generic name for online stores featuring apps.”

In its own response to Microsoft, filed Feb. 28, Apple shot back: “Microsoft, missing the forest for the trees, does not base its motion on a comprehensive evaluation of how the relevant public understands the term APP STORE as a whole.” It followed that with a zinger: “What it offers instead are out-of-context and misleading snippets of material printed by its outside counsel from the Internet and allegations regarding how the public allegedly interprets the constituent parts of the term APP STORE, i.e. ‘app’ and ‘store.’”

Despite all the legal energy expended—not to mention counsels’ billable hours racked up—it looks as if the battle over trademarking two simple words will continue for some time to come.

Apple's iPhone 5 Carried by Sprint, T-Mobile: Report

Apple's iPhone 5 may be called the iPhone 4S, and be carried by Sprint and T-Mobile, according to a new analyst report

Apple’s next iPhone could feature only incremental upgrades, but appear on a broader set of carriers, according to a new research note from Jefferies & Co.

“We believe the likelihood of the iPhone 5 launch in September including LTE [Long-Term Evolution] is now remote,” Peter Misek wrote in the co-authored research note, issued May 13. “According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ [Evolved High-Speed Packet Access] support.”

The note also claims, based on “industry checks,” that Sprint, T-Mobile and China Mobile will be announced as new iPhone carriers in time for the holiday season: “On Apple’s last earnings call, management responded to a question about launching the CDMA [Code Division Multiple Access] iPhone at other carriers as ‘we are constantly looking and adding where it makes sense, and you can keep confidence that we’ll continue to do that.’”

AT&T and Verizon currently offer the iPhone in the United States. Despite AT&T’s plans to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion in cash and stock, however, the smaller carrier has been denying imminent support for the iPhone.

“T-Mobile USA remains an independent company,” read a note posted on T-Mobile’s corporate Website in March. “The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting-edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and, coming soon, our new Sidekick 4G.”

That statement made it seem as if T-Mobile customers hungry for an iPhone would need to wait at least a year, until AT&T finishes digesting their carrier. AT&T’s deal is a positive for Apple, at least according to a March 21 research note from Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White: “The company would gain access to T-Mobile’s 34 million subscriber base, versus the 96 million subscribers at AT&T in 4Q10.”

Meanwhile, Sprint remains close-lipped about any potential iPhone deal. When asked about that possibility during the carrier’s most recent earnings call, CEO Dan Hesse suggested he was unable to comment on “potential discussions” with any suppliers, before joking: “What is it, like the fifty-fifth time I’ve been asked that?”

Nonetheless, the presence of the iPhone on Verizon and some combination of T-Mobile and AT&T would make Sprint the odd person out in the domestic smartphone market. Although Sprint offers a line of 4G smartphones with some unique aesthetics and features, the iPhone has proven a massive bestseller—something that no carrier could easily pass up, even if it’s devoted substantial marketing resources and political capital to establishing its own line of products.

Anonymous sources speaking to Reuters April 20 suggested that Apple will ship the iPhone 5 (or iPhone 4S) in September, meaning that production for the device will ramp up sometime in either July or August. Sources have also hinted to other publications that the smartphone will hit store shelves sometime closer to the end of 2011.

Current rumors suggest the next iPhone will include the A5 processor, more powerful cameras and, perhaps, NFC (near-field communication) technology, which would allow the smartphone to act as an electronic wallet. All those features would give Apple the capability to compete more heartily against the higher-end Android smartphones, whose hardware and software are becoming increasingly robust. As with all Apple rumors, however, multiple grains of salt should be taken until the company makes an actual announcement.

iPhone 5 Will Debut in September, Sources Say

The oft-rumored iPhone 5 will hit store shelves in September with a faster processor and a similar look to the iPhone 4, according to reports. The new Apple rumors contradict previous assertions the so-called iPhone 5 wouldn't start production until September for a launch during the holidays or early 2012. Instead, the next iteration of Apple's iPhone would go into production in the summer around June or July to get ready for the big launch in the fall, according to three anonymous sources who spoke to Reuters.

It's not clear what kind of a faster processor the iPhone 5 would have, but most observers expect Apple to use the dual-core A5 chip that debuted in the iPad 2.

Little else is known about the next iPhone, as most speculation has been about when the new smartphone would launch and not what new features the device would offer.

Since the iPhone first launched in 2007, Apple has introduced a new version every year in June during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. But most speculation suggests a 2011 iPhone launch would happen later than usual due, at least in part, to Apple's launch of a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 on Verizon in early 2011.

Apple at WWDC 2011 plans to offer a preview of the next iterations of iOS and Mac OS X (Lion). Current rumors suggest a new iOS, dubbed iOS 5, would include cloud-based features such as online storage, free Mobile Me access for e-mail, calendar and contacts syncing, and possibly new location-based social features. Apple's iOS 5 may also have an improved graphics engine.

There is also some debate about whether the iPhone 5 would have a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip. NFC technology would allow you to turn your phone into a virtual wallet that lets you pay at shops, restaurants and subway stations with just a wave of your phone in front of an NFC reader. Google announced the feature for Android devices in late 2010 and Microsoft is said to be prepping Windows Phone 7 with NFC functionality.

The September Debate

Apple typically uses September to launch new iPods and other music products, but the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch have made Apple's other multimedia devices increasingly irrelevant. There's only so much interest you can muster every year over a revamped iPod Nano or Shuffle and a new version of iTunes. Also, if Apple releases a new version of iOS in the summer and then waits for the fall for a new iPhone, it gives third-party developers more time to get their apps ready for the new device.

Whatever the reason for Apple's rumored launch changeup, without a new iPhone coming in June it will be interesting to see if the company has any other surprises cooking for this year's WWDC.

iPhone 5 prototypes spotted: metal back, larger display, iPhone 4 shape?

A source from Foxconn who we believe to be reliable has provided us with some information about Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone. Most of the information lines up with past reports but we have also learned a few new details. Most notably is that the iPhone 5 has already been seen at Foxconn and is soon going into the normal mass production stages. In terms of design, the iPhone 5 is said to look fairly similar to the iPhone 4 except for two very important differences: materials and screen size.

The iPhone 5 will keep a relatively similar size and shape as the iPhone 4 but Apple has decided to move away from the back-glass enclosure found on the fourth-generation device and move to something similar to the back of the first-generation iPhone from 2007. Although some reports claim the iPhone 5 will adopt a curved metal back, our source says models have been floating around with a flat metal back. The material of this metal is unspecified. Our brains say aluminum but our hearts wonder if this could be Liquid Metal.

In terms of Apple moving from aluminum to plastic in the shift from iPhone 1 to iPhone 3G, if Apple keeps the same antenna design (which was not mentioned by sources) as the iPhone 4 and adds the flat aluminum back, this back should not cause any reception issues. The next major enhancement is said to be a larger display. An enhanced screen for the next-iPhone has been rumored, but an exact screen size has only been pinpointed by Digitimes (4 inches). Our sources do not have precise screen measurements for the iPhone 5 but are certain that it appears to be larger than the one found on the iPhone 4.

Purported iPhone 5 engineering images surfaced last week, which appear to backup some of the information that we have independently heard. Our sources do not have pictures of a fully manufactured device but were able to provide a photograph of the iPhone 5′s charging cable that compares the cable to that of the one found in the iPhone 4. The cable does not look very different than the iPhone 4 version, lending credence to a similarly-shaped device. (Note: iPhone 5 is for iPhone 5, GSM and CDMA are iPhone 4 parts)

We speculate that we’ll be seeing an edge-to-edge screen, like mentioned in other reports, in addition to a faster, dual-core chip to match the iPad 2. For those keeping track we were able to gather correct iPad 2 information prior to its announcement starting with cases, then the screen, finally culminating with the white iPad 2 digitizer. We’re doing something similar here with the iPhone 5, so expect some more iPhone 5-related information here in the near future.

iPhone 5 FAQ

When is the iPhone 5 coming out?

According to multiple sources and the dates of previous iPhone releases, the iPhone 5 is set to be released in July 2011.

Update: Many analysts are now pointing at a later-than-usual iPhone 5 release, with most pointing at a late September/early October 2011 release.

Are there any real images of it out there?

There are no reported authentic images of the iPhone 5 as of yet, but the closest thing we have are some blueprint sketches published in early January. There’s almost nothing more to decipher from these sketches than the fact that the iPhone 5 will be slimmer than previous models. You can see them here

What new features will the iPhone 5 include?

Currently there are many speculated features that the iPhone 5 may include, but many of these are solely based on rumours and patents that Apple has applied for. A few of these include an NFC-chip that would enable paying for things with the actual iPhone 5 itself. Apple has not come out and confirmed any of these, but there is a strong likeliness that many of the speculated features will be featured in the iPhone 5.

Update: Currently, the most legitimate rumours point at the iPhone 5 definitely having a much better camera, increased storage capacity and being released with new iOS 5

Didn’t one just come out last year/Is it worth buying?

Surprisingly, we’ve been getting this question a lot from our readers and we feel as though it completely depends on the person. There are plenty of great smartphones that are coming out in the next year, but we’re mostly excited about the iPhone 5. Why? Because with every new iPhone in the past, Apple has completely redefined and changed the smartphone market and we believe that the iPhone 5 will be no exception to that.

Apple Analyst says No 4G LTE in Upcoming iPhone

Apple’s iPhone 5, expected to launch this coming September, is being quoted as unlikely to include 4G “LTE” technology, according to Peter Misek, a research analyst with Jefferies & Co.

In a recent research article, Misek noted that “According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support.” Misek also claimed that “industry checks indicate Apple will likely announce Sprint, T-Mobile, and China Mobile as new carriers.”

Misek cites the fact that Qualcomm, the supplier for the LTE chipset that Apple would have been using in the iPhone 5, is not achieving the yields necessary to produce sufficient quantities to meet the predicted demand. He also mentioned that Apple had hoped to have these chipsets ready, but since it was unlikely was now planning on releasing an updated iPhone 4 instead.

According to Misek, Apple will announce Sprint and T-Mobile as partners in time for the 2011 Holiday season, with China Mobile being added as a partner within the next year.

Also noted in the research note were trends showing improved demand for the iPad, but “flat” demand for the iPhone as “strength from the white iPhone 4 release and launches on new carriers such as SK Telekom are offset by slowing at AT&T and Vodafone.”

Apple shares were down $3.77 to $342.80 – a drop of 1.1%.