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Showing posts from September, 2012

A New LADA You'll Actually Want?

This is the Lada Xray, the car that could be rolling off AutoVAZ's production lines to replace the now terminated Lada Classic.

Its a fine looking thing, with styling by former Volvo design head Steve Mattin, and if it gets to market in this form will compete well with other design leaders Kia and Hyundai.

Its amazing to see how, whilst former design leaders from Germany, Italy and Japan are turning out flat dull styling, former backwaters Korea (Hyundai-Kia AG), India (Jaguar-Land Rover) and now Russia (Lada) are delivering cars that excite with their design language.

If the Xray and other new Ladas look this good turning their reputation around won't prove to be a problem.

Who Won In September?

Its been a big month of smartphone product launches, with Windows Phone 8 devices making up the bulk of new announcements. Samsung were first out of the blocks (Galaxy Note 2 and Ativ S) closely followed by Nokia (Lumia 820 and 920), Motorola (Droid Razr M, HD, Maxx HD and I), Apple (iPhone 5) and finally HTC (8S and 8X).

Microsoft will have been pleased to grab so many column inches with a plethora of new WP8 devices - although the absence of key data - launch dates, networks and price crucially - will mean that by the time the phones get here (probably November) there'll be little market left to win over.

Samsung already have the Galaxy S3 stealing sales left, right and centre. As a result the hugely unexpected success of the Galaxy Note hasn't gained many column inches, yet 10+ million sales since launch is an incredible figure. The Note 2 adds some of the headline features of the S3 and should sell even more.

Motorola's new phones looked remarkable tame compared to ev…

Five Years On!

Just realised that this blog is now five years old... as of this time last week!

Interesting to look at those early posts and see how those issues have developed.

In that first month I hit the mark quite well: posts about the way that Palm was being badly managed into an early grave and about the damage Apple was going to do to Windows Mobile. The iPod Touch has also become wildly popular with people who can't or won't run to an iPhone, again as predicted and although its not called a PDA by anyone, it is fulfilling the same role we used a PDA for in the past.

I spotted that the original iPhone wouldn't be as successful in the UK as the US due to its lack of 3G and a decent camera. When Apple rectified those omissions with the 3G that really marked the explosion of UK iPhone sales.

Lastly I moaned about the loss of big screens - the trend at the time was towards 2.8" screens and the iPhone was considered a big screen phone at 3.5". I asked for big screens becaus…

No iPod Out On Lightning Connector

Apple's new standard connector may or may not come with an old style dock connector adapter included in the package (currently Apple says not) but even if it does it won't support iPod out functions of the dock.

Not a huge problem, unless you're connecting to an accessory that requires iPod dock compatibility - most cars which take track info for displays for example - but worth knowing before shelling out your hard earned on Apple's proposterously priced adapter.

You might also want to consider the load bearing properties of the adapter before plugging it into any devices which physically support your iPhone...

The iPhone 5 Deconstructed

For such a tiny product the iPhone 5 has certainly polarised opinions this week. Even in the context of the smartphone market war it seems excessive. But actually it's very easy to see why this has happened.

iPhone change has to be evolutionary, if Apple were to stir the mix too much it would introduce significant risk into its business model. Why? Asking customers to accept radical change will prompt those customers to consider an even more radical change to a different ecosystem and once they start thinking outside the Apple box there are a lot of excellent phones out there.

For current or former iPhone users this is the perfect upgrade, not too challenging but enough to create perceived value. Important when you're committing to spend somewhere north of £500.

That group of buyers are currently rushing to pre-order the new iPhone and be deliriously happy with their new phone when it arrives. I would suggest that the group will be almost exclusively made up of previous i…

How Cloudy Do You Like It?

No, I'm not ranting about the weather (alright then: how come we've had about 10 sunny days this year? Its not what I'd call a summer!) but remote storage of your files.

The abundance of cloud storage available right now is amazing. Even as file sizes are growing the capacity to absorb them is outstripping that growth. My original cloud service (although that's not what it was called at the time) was HoTMaiL - 2MB was on offer at the time. When Google launched Gmail with a whole 1GB of mail storage it was mind-boggling and changed the game. Workarounds were developed that allowed the use of Gmail as a virtual drive on your desktop and from there Cloud storage was born. By the time that Google officially launched Drive competition had sprung up all over the place.

In terms of available cloud storage I have 10GB in my Gmail-box, 21GB in Picasa and 25GB in Drive - that's nearly 60GB of online storage just with Google! Add in the 28.6GB in Dropbox, 25GB in Windows Liv…

iPhone 5 - Can Apple Raise Its Game

Apple does incredibly well out of the smartphone - in fact more than half its income comes from its one product line. Or to quantify that more vividly, if Apple floated iPhone off as a separate company it would be bigger than Microsoft!

Which means a new iPhone is real news.

Especially when Apple is no longer seen as the leader in the sector. The iPhone 4S is a solid product, beautiful in the hand and to look at. Functionally though, its five years old. Apple dropped the ball on cloud services, was slow to add social integration and in its last OS update had to resort to cribbing off the competition - a move dripping in irony.

The result has been a massive erosion of the iPhone's market share. As smartphones have moved into the mainstream buyers have been moving elsewhere in droves. Barring the US and UK markets, where Apple has continued to hold its own, Apple hasn't kept pace with Android and now Microsoft are building some momentum behind Windows Phone those sales are goin…

Did Nokia Do Enough?

Nokia finally dropped the final leg of its Windows Phone migration strategy yesterday with the announcement of what would certainly appear to be competitive devices. But with the iPhone 5 just around the corner did the Finnish company deliver a winning product?

The 920 Pureview managed to look good, sport great functionality and pack a solid set of accessories. Yet because of the Pureview branding most of the conversation has been about the missing 33mpx.

Still, there was a good buzz about the 920 and the lower spec 820. Plenty of potential buyers were ready to whip out their credit cards and snap up a new Nokia phone.

Up until the point they saw the price. Or rather, didn't see the price, launch date or network availability.

So in a weeks time, when Apple announces the iPhone 5 will be shipping by the end of September in several countries, where do you think those potential convertees will be going?

There isnt any feature smartphone buyers like more than 'Now Shippi…

Nokia Lumia Sell Off Begins In Earnest

With Nokia due to announce its first Windows Phone 8 devices tomorrow there's a more than usual haste amongst retailers to offload WP7 devices, so if you haven't tried Windows Phone and fancy a cheap second phone here's your opportunity.

The Lumia 800 runs to £195+VAT at Clove - a good deal for a phone that packs a Clear Black AMOLED 3.7" screen, 8Mpixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and a beautiful one piece polycarb shell.

The Lumia 710 is the workhorse phone, although it sports the same speedy processor as the 800, a ClearBlack LCD 3.7" screen and replaceable rear covers. Currently this can be had for £99 from Carphone Warehouse or Asda Direct.

Finally the entry-level Lumia 610 is available for £79 from Asda Direct. Packing a lower-end processor than the other Lumias means its not quite so snappy, but still respectably fast and as a bonus the battery lasts a good two to three days of smartphone duties.

Trusted Reviews Are Hard To Find

The story of two Indian bloggers and their misadventure at IFA has been doing the rounds recently. Whilst there are two sides to every story this one seems to have a third unmentioned angle.

These bloggers were flown to Germany,had their accommodation and living expenses sorted out for them and apparently were giving a lavish handout to keep them going whilst at the show. And yet through some bizarre quirk of naivety didn't realise that there were going to be expected to shill for Samsung.

The shocker here is not so much who was at fault for the misunderstanding, rather how much Samsung were prepared to spend to ensure good reviews from a pair of low level bloggers.

And you can bet that if Samsung are doing this everyone else is too. There have been whispers from many respected and popular sites about limited access to test equipment and review support following a bad review of Apple equipment and both Microsoft and Google are well known for handing out hardware at certain even…

Tap to Pay Comes to UK Courtesy of Samsung and Orange

Samsung and Orange will be offering customers using the Samsung Galaxy S3 the opportunity to start using their phones to make payments courtesy of the embedded NFC chip.

Most UK bank accounts and cards are claimed to work with the new system and payments of up to £20 can be made.

The press release seems to suggest that only new contracts will get access to the technology, but doesn't seem to be sensible - my guess would be that existing S3 owners will be able to gain access to the service by swapping to a new SIM card.

To sweeten the deal new users cho register between September 5th and October 5th get £50 added to their accounts.

The offer is good at Orange stores and on their website.

Samsung Targets Apple Upgraders

Got an iPhone 4 or 4S? Samsung has an offer to tempt you into abandoning the Apple walled-garden and into a Galaxy S3. Send them your iPhone and the IMEI of your new S3 and they'll send you a brand new Galaxy Tab 2 in 7" or 10" varieties.

Its a good offer to grab some headlines, although I can't help thinking that your 4 or 4S is probably going to fetch more than the £199 or £249 that the Galaxy Tab currently retails for.

Still, if you were thinking of going the Galaxy phone and tablet route, it might be worth considering.