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Showing posts from August 17, 2014

PS4 and Xbox One Have Sold 15 Million - Apple Could Beat That In A Weekend

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Sony and Microsoft have been engaged in a bitter battle for the next generation console gaming market - since launch the PS4 has outsold the Xbox One by about two to one, however Microsoft's deeper focus on integrating the console into the living room (rather than just building a games console) may pay dividends in the long run.

Between the two consoles sales have reached about fifteen million units - not a bad effort given that many have written off high end consoles in the past. The release rate for new games is accelerating and at least one games publisher has stated that it sees and end to third gen publishing (Xbox 360 and PS3) by mid-2015.

Sony has announced that it's been rather surprised by the number of consoles it's selling. I'm not, the PS4 is a gamer's dream - powerful, slim and rocking better gaming specs than the Xbox One. In making a play for not just the gamer's market, but also grabbing for a foothold in the home entertainment battle Microsoft…

F1: Rossi Replaces Chilton At Marussia

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American racer Alexander Rossi will become the first American to drive in F1 since Scott Speed when he replaces Max Chilton at Marussia this weekend.

It's not clear why Chilton has lost his seat or whether this is permanent or temporary, but either way it's a great opportunity for the 2008 Formula BMW World Champion. Chilton's management are saying that the Englishman stepped aside voluntarily to allow the team to re-sell his seat, however the team categorised the change as being the result of contractual issues.

Rossi has only recently joined the Marussia team as test driver, having previously filled the role for the Caterham team, for whom he drove in FP1 at the Canadian Grand Prix. The opportunity to drive the Marussia at a challenging circuit like Spa is something of a double edged sword - the long lap makes for a much longer acclimatisation and as a renowned driver's circuit will expose any unfamiliarity between driver and car viciously.

Still of Rossi takes this…

Why RWD Only Is Wrong For Alfa Romeo

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Following Fiat's purchase of Chrysler new plans have been announced for Alfa Romeo - eight new models in the next five years, a move upmarket and a switch to rear wheel drive only. For those who look at Alfa Romeo as a competitor to BMW that sounds like a good move, but if Alfa Romeo is to hit it's target of selling 300,000 new cars a year it's a risky decision to take.

For most people espousing the benefits of a rear-wheel drive platform Alfa Romeo means cars like the 4C, SZ and a succession of beautiful coupes and spiders of the sixties and seventies. And there's no denying that the essence of the Alfa DNA is most visible in these cars.

However in terms of sales and success the most popular Alfa Romeos have been the more middle of the road family saloons. The best selling Alfa Romeo ever? That would be the 33. Followed by the Alfasud. Neither of these cars were humdrum or in any way boring. But they were aimed at the family car buying who was prepared to pay a small…

Carrier Appstores - Verizon Wants Some App Action

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Ever since Apple turned application code into gold with the launch of the iTunes App Store the mobile carriers and OEMs have coveted a piece of that very profitable pie.

Only Amazon have managed to get anything like a foothold on the app market, with its Android store getting onto a good number of devices in competition with Google Play.

Now Verizon is looking at doing the same - although its intention is to deliver a global carrier app store, by working with other wireless carriers around the world.

There are just two problems though. One, it will only ever be able to get its app store onto Android phones and two, it will always have to play second fiddle to Google Play, unless it works with OEMs to build AOSP devices which don't get Google Play, or any of the other Google apps that are the main selling point for Android.

This would only be a success of the Verizon App Store offered benefits when compared with Google Play. There's nothing to suggest that Verizon or indeed a…

Nokia Lumia 930: Quick View

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The Nokia Lumia 930 has officially landed in New Zealand, and I've had an opportunity to play with the new Windows Phone flagship - and I came away impressed.
Aside from the gigantic Lumia 1520 (which isn't officially available in NZ) the 930 is far and away the most powerful Windows Phone device currently available, packing a 1080p screen, quad core Snapdragon 800, built-in wireless charging and a 20mpixel PureView camera - it is the first Windows Phone to take on Android phones spec for spec.
The design of the 930 is conceptually closer to the 925 than most other Lumia handsets thus far, with a metal band and polycarbonate back panel. In the all-black version that I tried this looked very classy - with the deep blacks of the OLED screen meaning that the device has an almost Sentinel like look, black blends into black blends into black drawing your eye to the black. If black doesn't float your boat then one of the very colourful other options will probably be a better ch…

Does This Change Everything? HTC One M8 for Windows

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HTC formally announced its latest handset today, a version of the One M8 running Windows Phone 8.1 rather than Android KitKat. The existence of the Phone made possible by changes made by Microsoft specifically for this reason. It's HTC's first Windows Phone since the 8X (and follows the precedent set by that handset for awkward naming of devices). and the first phone to give customers the choice of OS on identical hardware.

The One M8 is a highly praised handset but that in itself isn't going to present a reason for buying the Windows Phone version - especially when the Android one has better app selection and makes better use of the unique Dot Cover.

No the importance of this handset is that it demonstrates how easy it is for OEMs to convert existing Android hardware to Windows Phone.

And whilst there is no evidence of either Google or Microsoft allowing dual booting of handsets between the OSs, I'm sure some bright spark will deliver that sooner rather than later.

I…

F1: Sixteen Year Old Gets Toro Rosso Race Seat!

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Sixteen-year old Dutchman Max Verstappen will drive in F1 next year, replacing Jean-Eric Vergne at Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso.

I've always been a strong advocate of the school of 'if you're fast enough, you're old enough' but this may be pushing the limits of what is reasonable. Despite having a lengthy career in Karting - starting at age seven - Verstappen had never even sat in a racing car prior to October 2013. Eighteen months from first getting into a racing car to being on the grid in F1? That seems like an extremely short learning curve. Yes, the Dutchman has a prodigious win rate, but would another couple of years in junior formula hurt? I think not.

F1 is chewing up these young drivers at a ridiculous rate. Verstappen will become the youngest driver to compete in F1 when he starts his first race at 17 years of age - two years younger than the previous youngest starter Jaime Alguersuari. The Spaniard lasted just three seasons before being discard…

Xiaomi Accused of Ripping Off iOS7

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Hugo Barra, CEO of Xiaomi, has spent the last few weeks denying that his company is shamelessly copying Apple's iOS7. Unsurprisingly large sections of the media have been vocally disputing the point following the announcement of the latest version of the company's Android skin - MIUI v6. It's not surprising really, look at the screen shot on the left. Those icons? The look and feel? The whole things smacks of an iOS 7 ripoff.

Shame on you Xiaomi. Wait... what's that? Things aren't as they seem?

Apparently not. This is a screenshot of Xiaomi's MIUI v5 smartphone skin for Android - released in April 2013. And iOS7? That was announced at WWDC in June 2013.

So unless Xiaomi have a secret time machine it's unlikely they're ripping off Apple quite as shamelessly as we're being led to believe. Even so, there's enough iOS6 design cues in there to make it difficult for the Chinese company to claim it's design is in any way novel.

Barra's claims …

If Pay-as-you go Charging Sounds Like A Good Idea You Have The Wrong Phone

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Techcrunch is reporting that Doblet, a new pay-as-you-go and subscription based charging service is due to launch after receiving funding from Y-combinator.

The company is planning to put battery backpacks into a range of public locations, searchable with an on-device app. When your battery is running low you find your nearest location, pick up a battery and plug it into your phone for a quick recharge. The service will support both iPhones with the newer Lightning connecter and Android phones using micro-USB. Other devices won't be able to use the service because the charger needs to paid for through the app. I'm not sure if this indicates some form of control in the app which prevents the charger from supplying the juice when used with a Windows Phone or Blackberry though.

Of course the whole idea that someone couldn't get through to the end of the day on their phone's battery is ridiculous. I guess the fact that the service is launching in San Francisco speaks volu…

F1: de Silvestro In Line To Break Male Domination

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Simona de Silvestro looks like being in with a shout of being the first woman to race in F1 for nearly forty years as speculation grows that she's in line for a race seat as Sauber, as early as next season.

Sauber's current pairing of Gutierrez and Sutil haven't set the F1 world on fire this season and with the team languishing in tenth place in the constructor's championship the arrival of de Silvestro could be the spark the team needs - both in a sporting and financial sense.

Unlike Suzie Wolff, who appears to have her test drive on the basis of her husband's relationship with Williams (Mercedes F1 Team Boss Toto Wolff) rather than her distinctly below average race record, de Silvestro has a proven track record - including Indy 500 rookie of the year (2010) and a podium finish at the Houston race last year.

Sauber can only benefit from the exposure running de Silvestro would bring and following on from her test drive for the team back in the Spring it can only b…

Samsung Buys SmartThings To Further IoT Business

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Samsung is keen to make the Internet of Things happen. Approximately a year ago the company began a global push to make it's fledgling range of internet connected appliances a profitable business line - without a great deal of success it has to be said.

The purchase of SmartThings is a sign that Samsung understands why it's failing and has a plan to remake the market in a way that plays to its strengths - size and speed.

The Korean company is rarely seen as an innovator - even though in the original Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note it created the mini-tablet and large phone market, where everyone (including, ironically Apple) is now going. Instead its ability to fast follow the leader with competitive devices that have allowed it to take large slices of different markets.

The best iPhone competitor? The original Galaxy S. The best iPad competitor? The Galaxy Tab 10".

With the Internet of Things there hasn't been a leader to give Samsung a direction to focus its energies an…

Messaging Has Some Way To Go Before It Replaces Email and SMS

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Facebook Messenger has over 200m users, Wechat has over 400m, WhatsApp has over half a billion and Skype nearly a billion. With all the coverage given to these messaging services, plus the dozens more that arrive every month, it's easy to believe the hype that email is dead and SMS has been replaced.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The problem with each of those messaging services is that they can't talk to each other. Or more accurately, they could but they won't. Which means before you can start messaging someone, you need to know what network they're uisng and be on it yourself. Unless you have a small, or very pliable group of friends you're going to end up installing multiple messaging apps to keep in contact with them all.

In contrast SMS and email are both ubiquitous and completely cross compatible. To SMS another user you need only know their phone number. To send someone an email you just need their email address. This lowest common denominator m…