Nokia to target first time smartphone users in US

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Oct 312011
 

NokiaWhen Nokia enters the North American market with its new Windows Phone devices in early 2012, it faces the difficult task of rebuilding its brand and market share here. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Chris Weber, President of Nokia Inc. (US) Head of Markets, North America, shed some light on the strategy the company will use to reestablish itself so that customers think that “Nokia + Windows = cool.”

The strategy will rely on heavy marketing and re-establishing partnerships with the North American carriers. The promise of “significant” marketing dollars in 2012 suggests that there will be heavy promotion when devices hit our shores. Nokia will launch a number of devices with multiple carriers, taking a broad approach rather than focusing on one or two carriers. It is also looking at pushing down the price of Windows smartphones, making them more accessible.

Nokia also recognizes that Android and Apple are well established. Rather than taking them on directly, Nokia will focus on entry-level smartphones aimed at first-time buyers. “We have to be additive to their business,” Weber said in reference to offering the carriers a business model that does not detract from their Android and Apple sales. He argues that many first-time smartphone buyers are overwhelmed by the complexity of Android. Windows Phone come with many commonly used apps such as Facebook preinstalled, making them easier to use out of the box.

Bottom line, “The company is committed through and through to the U.S. market,” Weber said.

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Barnes & Noble to host Nook event on November 7th

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Oct 312011
 

Barnes & Noble will be hosting an event on November 7th where it is expected to unveil a successor to its Nook Color tablet. Little is known about it but it is expected to keep the 7-inch display of its predecessor.

November 7th 2011 Barnes and Noble event

It will be interesting to see what Barnes & Noble unveils in terms of features and pricing given the competition from new devices such as the Kobo Vox and Amazon Kindle Fire.

Barnes & Noble is also expected to refresh the design of its stores to give more space (and more marketing attention) to the Nook.

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AT&T announces first LTE smartphones to launch November 6th

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Oct 312011
 

AT&T today announced that it will launch its first LTE smartphones on November 6th. The HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket will be available the same day that AT&T launches its LTE network in Boston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Athens, Georgia.

“The two LTE-powered superphones will be our 20th and 21st Android devices in 2011, adding to an outstanding year of Android success,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “We’ve far exceeded our commitment to offer 12 new Android devices this year –now including our first 4G LTE smartphones. We’re delivering an incredible amount of innovation to our customers, which is a huge reason why more than half our post-paid subscribers are using a smartphone.”

HTC Vivid specifications:

  • Processor: 1.2GHz dual-core
  • Operating system: Google Android with HTC Sense
  • Cellular connectivity: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSPA+/LTE
  • Display: 4.5-inch qHD *540×960)
  • Storage: 16GB internal and microSD cards up to 32GB
  • Rear-facing camera: 8MP with 1080p video capture

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket specifications:

  • Processor: 1.5GHz dual-core
  • Operating system: Google Android 2.3.5
  • Cellular connectivity: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSPA+/LTE
  • Display: 4.5-inch SuperAMOLED Plus (480×800)
  • Storage: 16GB internal and microSD cards up to 32GB
  • Rear-facing camera: 8MP with LED flash and 1080p video capture
  • Front-facing camera: 2MP

The HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy S II will be available for US$199.99 and US$249.99 respectively with a two-year contract.

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Sony Canada announces PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle

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Oct 312011
 

Sony Canada today announced the PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle. It will consists of the PS Vita (Wi-Fi) System as well as a 4GB memory card, a limited edition case, and the Little Deviants game. It will sell for CA$299.99 and will be available a week before its official launch (which will miss the 2011 holiday season).

Sony PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle

The PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle will sell for CA$299.99. Retailers where it will be available include Amazon.ca, Best Buy, Future Shop, Toys’R’Us, and others.

The Sony PlayStation Vita will be released in Canada and the US on February 22nd. The Wi-Fi only model will sell for CA/US$249 and a 3G/Wi-Fi model (availability in Canada still undetermined) for US$299.

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HTC ships 13.2 million handsets in Q3 2011

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Oct 312011
 

HTCAs part of its Q3 2011 financial results, HTC announced that it shipped 13.2 million handsets in the quarter. This is an impressive 93% increase over the same quarter a year ago. This translated into NT$136 billion (US$4.5 billion) in revenue (a 79% increase over the same quarter a year ago) and after-tax profits of US$624 million (a 68% gain year-over-year).

“We aim to lead the way as the smartphone market continues to expand and change rapidly,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC. “We pride ourselves on anticipating market and consumer needs and addressing them before they are realized. We are growing rapidly and responsibly around the globe and continue to expand our leadership in new areas, such as LTE.”

HTC’s growth is set to continue in Q4 thanks to “the continued success of the smartphone market.” The company expects to ship another 12 to 13 million handsets in Q4 2011 (representing a growth of between 31% and 42% year-on-year). This forecast falls below the Q3 numbers, suggesting that it could be expecting a tougher quarter.

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Exclusive EA games headed to Nokia Windows Phone devices

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Oct 312011
 

Electronic Arts announced last week that it will bring some 20 “of the world’s best games” to Nokia devices powered by Windows Mobile. According to the Nokia Developers blog, Barry Cottle, Executive Vice President and GM for EA Interactive, promised that “we’ll be designing our games for an awe-inspiring experience on Windows Phone for Nokia.” There will be 10 games from EA, seven games from the Hasbro line-up, and some from Chillingo, their indie publishing arm.

EA Windows Phone 7.5 exclusives for Nokia

Among the games expected are FIFA 12, Dead Space, Madden 12, Bejeweled 2, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour. From the Hasbro line-up will come games such as Monopoly, Risk and Trivial Pursuit.

EA did not provide details on when the games would be available and whether they would later be offered on other Windows Phones.

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Fully functional Siri ported over to iPhone 4 and iPod touch

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Oct 302011
 

While many were underwhelmed by the iPhone 4S when it was announced, one of its coolest features was Siri, the voice recognition system. Mobile app writer Steve Troughton-Smith and Cydia developer Grant Paul have now successfully ported Siri over to both the iPhone 4 and the fourth-generation iPod touch. To prove their claim, they released a video showing it running on an iPod touch:

Troughton-Smith had earlier ported Siri over to an iPhone 4 but had not been able to get it to talk to Apple’s servers. The new version tricks the servers by using a number of files and a validation token from a jailbroken iPhone 4S.

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Leaked photos show off ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime and its dock

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Oct 292011
 

New pictures of the upcoming ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime have been leaked prior to its official launch on November 9th. They revealed the device’s brushed aluminium back and its matching aluminium dock. Another shot shows Android’s unlock screen.

Rumoured ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Rumoured ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime

The pictures indicate that the Transformer Prime will sport a microSD card slot, a rear-facing camera with flash, and what appears to be a micro-HDMI port.

The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is expected to start at US$499.

Read more about this story (in Italian) [Google translation]

AT&T to launch Samsung Focus S and Focus Flash on November 6th

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Oct 282011
 

AT&T WirelessBack in mid-September, AT&T announced plans to launch three new Windows Phone 7.5 smartphones later this year. It announced today via Facebook that two of these,the Samsung Focus S and the Samsung Focus Flash, will be launched on November 6th.

Introducing two new Windows Phones, guaranteed to satisfy any budget. The Samsung Focus Flash is just $49.99 and the Samsung Focus S is $199.99. Both build on the success of the award-winning and highest-selling Windows Phone in the U.S., the Samsung Focus.

Is it coincidence that Microsoft has planned an event the next day where AT&T looks set to be the guest of honour?

The Samsung Focus S will be powered by a 1.4GHz processor and pack a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, “4G-capable speeds” and both an 8MP rear-facing camera and a 1.3 front-facing one. It will be 8.55 millimeters thick.

The Samsung Focus Flash will also sport a 1.4GHz processor but will come with a smaller 3.7-inch Super AMOLED display, a 5MP rear-facing camera, and a front-facing camera.

AT&T has still not provided availability and pricing details for the upcoming HTC Titan, the third Windows Phone 7.5 device it plans to launch.

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Nokia 500 now available at WIND Mobile

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Oct 282011
 

Nokia 500WIND Mobile has launched the Nokia 500. Aimed at social media users, it comes with a widget that displays networking status updates, tweets, personal messages and events on the home screen.

Nokia 500 specifications:

  • Processor: 1GHz ARM
  • Operating system: Symbian Anna
  • Cellular connectivity: GSM/AWS
  • Other connectivity: GPS/A-GPS, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
  • Display: 3.2-inch nHD (640×360 pixels)
  • Input: Capacitive touchscreen
  • Memory: 256MB RAM, 512MB ROM
  • Storage: 2GB internal and microSD cards up to 32GB
  • Rear-facing camera: 5MP
  • Front-facing camera: None
  • Connectors: microUSB 2.0
  • Battery: 1110mAh
  • Dimensions / weight: 111.3 x 53.8 x 14.1 millimeters / 93 grams

WIND Mobile is offering the Nokia 500 for CA$179 with no contract or CA$29 on the WINDTab.

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HP close to shutting down webOS completely?

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Oct 282011
 

Hewlett-PackardWhen Hewlett-Packard announced that it was getting out of the webOS device business in August, it kept hopes alive that the webOS operating system would be sold off to another company. With a number of companies having now publicly confirmed that they are not interested, HP looks to be running out of options. UK-based The Guardian reports that the company could lay off some 500 employees and simply simply shut down the entire division. Citing “internal HP sources.” it reports that this is what the webOS team now expects. “There’s a 95% chance we all get laid off between now and November, and I for one am thinking it’s for the best,” one webOS employee told the newspaper.

While Samsung and Sony both decided to pass on webOS, rumours suggested that both Amazon and HTC might still be interested. Have these also dropped out? Without a buyer and no hardware strategy, there would be little reason for HP to keep webOS alive.

HP yesterday announced that it would not spin off its PSG division. It also promised a decision in the “next couple of months” to what would happen to webOS.

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iPhone 4S now available at MTS and SaskTel

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Oct 282011
 

Apple iPhone 4SThe “Coming Soon” labels are now off and the iPhone 4S is now available at both MTS and SaskTel.

As you would expect, the pricing for both MTS and SaskTel falls in line with that of other carriers: Three-year contract pricing comes in at CA$159.99 for the 16GB model and CA$269.99 for the 32GB model. Contract-free pricing is CA$649.99 and CA$749.99 respectively.

SaskTel also lists the 64GB model as “coming soon.” It is priced at CA$369.99 with a three-year contract and CA$849.99 contract-free.

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Microsoft to hold Windows Phone ‘Backstage’ event on November 7th

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Oct 282011
 

Microsoft has begun to send out invitations to a Windows Phone event to take place in New York City on November 7th. Called “Backstage”, the event promises that “That’s not the only big thing Windows Phone has planned…” but sheds little light on what it will announce.

Microsoft "Backstage" event

The announcement appears to focus on AT&T based on the fact that all three phones shown feature its logo.

Both Andy Lees and Joe Belfiore of the Windows Phone team will be in attendance.

Could Microsoft and AT&T announce the imminent arrival of the Nokia Lumia 800 and 710 to the US? It seems a bit premature if they are only going to hit our shores (Canada and US) in early 2012.

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