September 21, 2010

The Hottest Games of the Tokyo Game Show [VIDEOS]

Last week was the 2010 Tokyo Game Show (also called TGS 2010) and the games on display came from some of the brightest minds in the industry. Here you’ll find 12 trailers from the hottest games at the show, including The Last Guardian, Devil May Cry and Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

TGS 2010 was the most attended TGS yet, but that didn’t prevent some Japanese developers and pundits from bemoaning the quality of Japanese games as compared to titles produced by Western studios like BioWare, Bungie and Blizzard.

Capcom’s Keiji Inafune, who had a hand in creating both Mega Man and Dead Rising, said at the show that Japanese developers are “at least five years behind.”

The man might have a point. Looking at some of these trailers, the core developers outside the Nintendo world are definitely not making an effort to break barriers or challenge stereotypes about video games and gamer culture.

Nintendo, however, is in another class. That company’s Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS consoles have outsold the competition from Microsoft and Sony at every turn and expanded the audience for video games far beyond the 20-year-old males who traditionally form the core market. But these games and consoles belong in a different world from the industry that makes graphics-intensive and complex games for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

The Games
There are some stand-outs. The art-house development studio that made Ico and Shadow of the Colossus for the PlayStation 2 showed a trailer for PlayStation 3 title The Last Guardian, and it looks absolutely beautiful. It turns out the game will be playable in 3D. The studio is also releasing a bundle for PS3 that includes remastered, high-definition versions of the two PS2 classics.

RPG developer Level 5 teamed up with master animator Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli (best known for films such as Princess Mononoke, Sprited Away and Ponyo) to make a PS3 game titled Ni No Kuni. It looks gorgeous and touching, capturing the look and feel of the animated films, but it hasn’t been confirmed for North American or European release yet.

Also notable was the lineup for the Xbox 360’s Kinect motion controller and camera. The games and developers Microsoft featured at the show sought to demonstrate that traditional gamers will enjoy games with the new interface, not just families looking for play-and-forget party experiences.

Here are the trailers. Most are Japanese games, but a few Western games made appearances at TGS — most notably Deus Ex: Human Revolution.


























by Samuel Axon Mashable Entertainment September 21, 2010

September 19, 2010

Intel aims to ease life with new chips, products

A new generation of computing microprocessors, connected wirelessly to the Internet, soon will revolutionize everyday life, creating smarter, more-efficient products.

Homeowners will be able to cut their energy bills because an electronic device on their kitchen countertop will suggest the cheapest times to do the laundry.

Doctors may be able to carry ultrasound machines in their lab coats.

Department-store shoppers will discover the most popular shirts to go with those pants thanks to an image on a screen attached to the checkout register.

Workers will find the office vending machine now makes suggestions. It processes that you're a woman, 6 feet tall, about 32 years old. It suggests the diet Sprite.

This wave of new devices, which promise to reach into nearly every corner of people's lives, could have Intel inside.

With most personal-computer users now owning their own machines, leaving Intel with less growth potential for its signature chips, the company is aggressively seeking a greater share of the market for microprocessors used in increasingly sophisticated everyday products.

The Atom microprocessor at the heart of Intel's effort is designed, sold and manufactured at a division based in Chandler. Doug Davis, the executive leading the charge, is based in Chandler as well.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel, with 9,700 workers in Chandler, is a bedrock employer in the Valley's technology industry. If Atom flourishes, so, too, might Intel's presence in the Valley.

The chip, which incorporates graphics, sound, and memory all on one circuit, costs less than its Core and Xeon big brothers, so it's appealing to makers of video-game consoles, medical equipment, cars and factory-automation equipment.

For years, Intel's business tied to such products with "embedded" microchips stayed in the background as the company focused on faster, more powerful and pricier microprocessors for personal computers. Now, it could be one of Intel's strongest engines for growth.

Getting the connection

Intel estimates prepared in 2008 indicate that 15 billion devices will connect to the Internet by 2015, including cars, vending machines and parking meters.

The explosive growth of Facebook and Twitter, the launch of tablet computers and the growth of laptops, which overtook desktop PC sales more than a year ago, signal overwhelmingly that consumers want to be online and socially connected.

Beyond that, Intel projects that everyday devices will evolve from static, single functions to being able to talk to one another and the Internet. The advance will offer millions of opportunities to tailor experiences for users and new ways to perform jobs.

Take the lowly vending machine, for example. Instead of a person getting into a truck and driving to a site to see if the machine needs more products, Internet connectivity will make it possible to know exactly when it, and millions more like it, need to be refilled. The technology will make the job easier, more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, Intel executives said.

Intel saw billions of dollars of future business in its Atom microprocessors, the relatively low-cost, low-power chips launched in April 2008 that can drive these everyday devices.

Before the launch, Davis said Intel conducted extensive market-segment research to determine where it wanted to focus its efforts with Atom. Some ideas were offbeat but were identified as opportunities, so Intel is in talks with companies about them.

One idea includes a shopping cart with a screen that could offer customers coupons or specials for products in the departments they're wheeling through. Customers could use the screen to place orders for the deli while shopping in the produce aisle. If it were connected to the Internet, the screen also could allow comparison shopping between stores.

Ultimately, Intel identified 20 to 30 different markets for Atom.

For example, one is in-vehicle infotainment. The system will provide 3-D navigation, track where the vehicle is going and find points of interest along the way. The driver and passengers also can get real-time traffic updates and access to the Internet and television.

Other major markets for Atom include smart TV, which combines big-screen televisions in many living rooms with broadband Internet access so users can watch YouTube videos, download Internet applications and surf between channels and websites.

Manufacturers of exercise machines see the potential of Atom. People want to listen to music and watch TV shows via websites while they work out. Gym owners, in turn, can program the machines with advertisements.

Intel has received 4,000 inquiries from product designers and manufacturers about using the Atom chip in their products. To date, about 1,200 customers plan to use the chip in their devices.

The push to make chips for the multitude of devices is creating intense competition in the semiconductor industry.

Intel's biggest competitor for years has been Advanced Micro Devices, but other companies see potential in the embedded market. Among them are Cavium Networks; Nvidia, a leader in computer graphics; and Freescale Semiconductor, which has a large presence in Phoenix. Intel and Freescale are dueling to create navigation systems for cars.

A move into new products

It is ironic that a small, long-overlooked division of the massive computer chipmaker now carries a big share of the company's future hopes.

Intel has about 81,000 employees worldwide, about 9,700 of them in Chandler. Its embedded division has about 1,500 employees worldwide, not counting sales and engineering teams or local manufacturing technicians that work on behalf of the entire company. About half of the 1,500 are in Chandler. About half of those are tied to Atom.

Atom has ramped up faster than any product in Intel embedded history, with more than 2 million shipments since it was launched in April 2008.

"What Atom does is it opens up all kinds of new applications that we really didn't have the right product for in the past," said Davis, vice president and general manager of the company's embedded and communications group.

Employees have embraced the efforts behind Atom, Davis said.

"It was always kind of this obscure kind of business even though it was growing fast and doing really well," he said.

The myriad applications outside the PC arena is causing Intel to retool its thinking, said Tom Franz a former Intel vice president who ran the embedded business group for several years until he retired more than two years ago. While the company experimented in new markets before, it's now a focus, he said.

"Some experiments go phenomenally well," he said. "Sometimes it's the second guy to get it right. MySpace lost out to Facebook in terms of the Internet. People are going to keep experimenting with these different kinds of technologies to figure out, 'Will people buy?' "

Looking for opportunities

The potential of Atom has Intel re-thinking its classic role as a chip supplier and embarking on a buying spree for technologies that can help it expand and diversify its product offerings in the market for everyday devices.

Intel began a series of purchases last year, including buying the largest software maker for smartphone and in-vehicle entertainment.

In new devices like home energy smart meters and digital checkout kiosks, Intel now is offering mock-ups of some of its devices. This gives Intel the opportunity to offer its customers a chip and software and supply them with a vendor to help put the device together.

"We can set you up for pretty much the whole thing, and you just slap your brand on there," said Bill Kircos, an Intel spokesman.

Intel is trying to adopt a different business model, said Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat, a Scottsdale-based technology research firm.

"You can't just walk in there with a chip," he said. "You've got to walk in there with a complete solution, and you've got to provide engineering resources, you've got to provide support. . . . They're learning from that, and they're trying to do that."

Intel also has spent upward of $10 billion since mid-August on companies it expects will complement its new strategy.

The company plans to spend $1.4 billion in cash to acquire the wireless communications unit of Germany's Infineon Technologies AG. Infineon has chips and licenses for a host of Internet devices, and Intel will be able to take advantage of Infineon's long-range wireless networks for consumers.

The company also announced it would buy security-software maker McAfee Inc. for $7.68 billion, making it the largest acquisition in the company's 42-year history if regulators approve the deal. Intel sees McAfee as being capable of supplying more software and security to its chips for Internet-connected devices that need secure transactions.

Intel also recently signed an agreement to acquire Texas Instruments' cable-modem product line, a purchase that enhances the company's focus on the cable industry and related consumer electronics such as set-top boxes.

Challenges and potential

The company's strategy to expand from its dominance in computer microprocessors is one it tried unsuccessfully before.

During the dot.com boom, Intel bought a number of businesses while on a multibillion-dollar spending spree in an unsuccessful effort to enter the cellphone market.

The company's most recent purchases haven't impressed some analysts, who argue Intel doesn't have a great track record outside its core business.

"We feel like we have seen this movie before," analyst Craig Berger of FBR Capital Markets wrote in a research note to investors.

But moving into products outside its normal expertise gives the company potential for new business if the PC business slows. It also could mean a boost for the Chandler operation.

"It's safe to say Arizona in a lot of ways is at the center of what's going to be an explosive growth in these Internet-connected devices," Intel spokesman Kircos said. "And as that business grows, you'll see more capacity for factories, maybe even more future investment in Arizona-based factories and more employees.

"There's no doubt that any success of Intel beyond or outside the PC . . . benefits Arizona as much as any other U.S. or worldwide site that we have."

In-Stat's McGregor said Intel is not going to win every market.

"But they're at least doing it right, spreading it out. They've got potential in certain segments, especially like the digital home applications and embedded applications. They've got definitely a much tougher row to hoe trying to get into handsets (smartphones). Will they finally get there? Time will tell, but it's definitely a challenge."

Get info on some of Intel's new gadgets

by John Yantis The Arizona Republic Sept. 12, 2010 12:00 AM



Intel aims to ease life with new chips, products

Mobile banking options multiply :: The SouthtownStar :: Business

In the past year banks have significantly expanded their mobile offerings as more customers seek on-the-go services and concerns about wireless security ease.

As with credit and debit cards, banks limit liability for fraudulent transactions reported within two months.

Such security guarantees are helping broaden the adoption of mobile services. Bank of America, the country's largest bank, says 17 percent of its online banking customers already use mobile services such as texting or apps for smart phones.

Here's a look at what's available:

TEXTING

Text alerts to notify account holders about large transactions or low account balances is nothing new. But now customers can also use text messaging to proactively review balances and transactions.

It's the most basic mobile service offered by Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo. Once enrolled, customers can text certain commands to perform common functions.

At Bank of America, for example, customers can text "BAL" to "MYBOFA" to see if there's enough money in an account before they reach the cash register.

To protect against identity theft, the information sent to customers doesn't include names or account numbers. Banks don't charge for the service but standard text rates apply.

APPs

One reason mobile banking is becoming more widespread is the availability of apps, which are downloadable programs designed for mobile devices. Apps are easier to navigate with mobile phones than Web sites that might not be properly formatted.

Bank of America, Citi, Chase and Wells Fargo offer apps for the iPhone. Bank of America and Wells Fargo also offer apps for the Android, BlackBerry and Palm devices. It's worth checking what's available even if you're with a smaller regional bank or credit union, as apps have become so widespread.

Apps let customers do most of the tasks they can perform on a computer, such as viewing transactions and paying bills. Select tasks, such as transferring money to an outside account, generally aren't available on apps.

One app function that may soon become more widespread is the ability to make a deposit by taking a photo of a check. Chase began offering the capability through its iPhone app this summer.

Those who have accounts with several banks may also be interested in the apps for the Android and iPhone from the budgeting Web site Mint.com. As with the online version, the Mint.com apps are for tracking purposes only; users can't pay bills or transfer money.

QUICK PAY

One still relatively rare mobile service is the ability to make payments by passing a phone over a scanner. This is primarily available for Citi credit card holders right now.

Citi card holders can request a MasterCard PayPass sticker to attach to the back of their phone. The idea is that customers won't have to fumble through their wallets to pull out cash or a credit card. They also don't have to sign for purchases less than $50.

The PayPass sticker can be used at about 230,000 stores, including Best Buy, CVS and McDonald's.

PAYPAL

It's not exactly banking but another service that lends itself to mobile use is PayPal. The online payment service lets users securely send and receive money.

PayPal offers apps for the Android, BlackBerry and iPhone. Another option is to check balances and make payments through text messaging.

There's also a site, m.paypal.com, that's formatted for mobile Web browsers.

Setting up a PayPal account is free but payments made from a credit or debit card incur a fee of 2.9 percent plus 30 cents. So the fee for sending $100 would be $3.20. The sender could pay the fee or opt to pass it on to the recipient for personal payments. For purchases of goods or services, the fee is automatically passed on to the merchant.

There is no fee for personal payments drawn directly from bank accounts or PayPal balances.

BY CANDICE CHOI, The Associated Press September 12, 2010


Mobile banking options multiply :: The SouthtownStar :: Business

September 18, 2010

Pocket-Sized Keyboard Lets You Type and Go


With the release of iOS 4, Apple mobile devices finally support bluetooth keyboards. As such, we knew it was only a matter of time before aftermarket products like the Jorno would begin to appear, providing us with a convenient way to crank out long form content when on the go.

The Jorno mobile keyboard features bluetooth connectivity, making it compatible with the latest Apple iOS mobile devices, among many others. Additionally, its keys are just 15% smaller than those of the standard desktop keyboard. This allows the device to maintain a comfortable typing experience, while significantly reducing space.

The Jorno’s unique design enables it to conveniently fold down to pocket size for easy storage and transfer. And its detachable cradle allows portable displays to be held securely in either portrait or landscape mode.

Given its unique features, the Jorno makes for a compelling alternative to products like Apple’s iPad Keyboard Dock. It will be available later this fall and is currently available at $79 on pre-sale until October 31, when it spikes to $99.


Pocket-Sized Keyboard Lets You Type and Go

September 12, 2010

Apple gives software developers guidelines for app approval

NEW YORK - Apple Inc. on Thursday handed software developers the guidelines it uses to determine which programs can be sold in its App Store, yet it reserved for itself broad leeway in deciding what makes the cut.

The move follows more than two years of complaints from developers about the company's secret and seemingly capricious rules, which block some programs from the store and hence Apple's popular iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices.

The guidelines go some way toward addressing those complaints and broadening the discussion about Apple's custodianship of the App Store.

The rules consist of a checklist specifying that "apps that rapidly drain the device's battery or generate excessive heat will be rejected." Also bound to be rejected are "apps containing rental content or services that expire after a limited time."

But some of the guidelines leave much for developers to figure out.

"We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, 'I'll know it when I see it.' And we think that you will also know it when you cross it," the guidelines say.

Earlier this year, Apple forced the creator of a comic-book version of James Joyce's novel "Ulysses" to alter panels featuring nudity, echoing the censorship debate in the 1920s and '30s, when the novel itself was banned in the U.S. for obscenity.

In the guidelines, Apple draws a line between broader expressions of freedom of speech and the App Store.

"We view Apps different than books or songs, which we do not curate. If you want to criticize a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical app," the guidelines say.

Apple also says it will block applications that don't do "something useful or provide some lasting entertainment."

The App Store's chief competitor, Google Inc.'s Android Marketplace, has few restrictions for developers. That has been welcomed by developers but has also led to a flood of low-quality applications and even some that prey on buyers. Security firm Kaspersky Lab said it found one media-player application that secretly sends text-message payments - which get added to phone bills - when installed by Russian phone users.

Despite restrictions, Apple's store has been a runaway success since its launch in 2008 and now has more than 250,000 applications.

by Peter Svensson Associated Press Sept. 10, 2010 12:00 AM



Apple gives software developers guidelines for app approval

'Instant' search result introduced by Google

Search giant Google on Wednesday introduced instant search results that promise to save users time.

Google Instant searches "as you type, not after you type," Marisa Mayer, Google's vice president of user experience, said at a press event at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art.

The new tools are being rolled out Wednesday to Google users in the United States and will spread internationally through the week.

Google's new search feature tries to figure out what a user is searching for as each letter enters the query box. For example, typing the letter "w" causes Google to speculate a user is looking for the weather. It instantly displays a local forecast.

Similarly, typing "the girl" will display instant results to the popular book "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." There's no need to type the entire title and press enter.

Mayer said the average Google query takes 15 seconds to enter and 300 milliseconds to process. Google Instant is designed to cut down on that time.

"We estimate this will help users save two to five seconds per query . . . or 11 hours for every passing second," she said.

The new feature "makes search more interactive. Power users will really appreciate it," said Greg Sterling, an analyst with researcher Sterling Market Intelligence.

Google is developing a version of instant search for mobile devices.

by Jefferson Graham USA Today Sept. 9, 2010 12:00 AM


'Instant' search result introduced by Google

HP sues its ex-CEO over Oracle job

SAN FRANCISCO - Hewlett-Packard Co. is suing the chief executive it ousted last month, Mark Hurd, to stop him from taking a top job at rival Oracle Corp.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in a California state court, came a day after Oracle hired Hurd as co-president to help lead the database-software maker's efforts to steal business from HP. HP claims that Hurd won't be able to perform his job at Oracle without spilling HP's trade secrets and violating a confidentiality agreement.

This type of complaint isn't unusual in the technology world, nor is the confidentiality agreement that Hurd had signed as part of a severance package from HP that could top $40 million.

But the stakes are higher with Hurd than a rank-and-file employee.

The latest lawsuit shows the growing rancor between HP and Oracle. The companies have worked together for 25 years to make sure that their products work well together. But that relationship is straining now that Oracle, like HP, sells the computer servers that power companies' back offices. Oracle got that business through its $7.4 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems last year.

Oracle is mostly known for its database software, which many people use every day but likely don't know it, such as when they're pulling money out of a bank or booking a flight. The software helps companies organize and access their data. Oracle is the world's No. 1 database-software maker, and with the Sun business, Oracle is now among the world's top sellers of servers, as is HP.

by Associated Press Sept. 8, 2010 12:00 AM


HP sues its ex-CEO over Oracle job

September 6, 2010

Going Viral Is Goal As More Ads Target YouTube, Facebook - IBD - Investors.com

The Procter & Gamble (PG) ad campaign of Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa came out smelling like a rose .

Tens of millions of people watched a series of ads on YouTube of a bare-chested Mustafa extolling the benefits of Old Spice Body Wash. Launched in February on TV and the Internet, the campaign brought an Emmy award for the ad campaign's creator, Wieden+Kennedy. It also brought TV show appearances for Mustafa.

"It will go down in the pantheon of great ad campaigns," said Matt Cutler, chief marketing officer of research firm Visible Measures. "It really drove home the idea that we're not in Kansas anymore."

Viral marketing winners: Old Spice's bare-chested Mustafa, Blendtec's demos and Evian's roller babies. AP

Viral marketing winners: Old Spice's bare-chested Mustafa, Blendtec's demos and Evian's roller babies. AP View Enlarged Image

Where we are is in the Internet era, where videos can so quickly go "viral." That is, access to the message quickly multiplies.

The Old Spice video campaign's third phase, called "Responses," attracted 5.9 million YouTube views on the first day alone, as friends forwarded the link to Facebook friends, who tweeted the link on their Twitter accounts to followers who e-mailed the piece to their contacts. The three phases in all have attracted 102 million views to date.

And the message struck viewers. In the first six months of the campaign, Old Spice Body Wash sales rose 27% from the year-earlier period, according to Wieden+Kennedy. For the four weeks ended July 11, as the campaign was in full swing on the Web, sales more than doubled from the year-earlier period, according to SymphonyIRI.

The Old Spice campaign, which started with "The Man Your Man Can Smell Like," is an example of viral marketing. It used Web sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to quickly spread the video.

A video ad is informally considered a "viral" hit when it gets at least 1 million views. Big winners get 20-million-plus.

"We're seeing a massive increase among brand advertisers who want to use viral marketing to get in front of a large audience for a modest price," Cutler said.

Easier said than done. Nine out of 10 viral marketing campaigns flop, says Patrick Spenner, managing director of the Marketing Leadership Council.

The trade group studied 300 social media campaigns to see how they boosted brand sales.

"You'd be surprised how low the scores are," Spenner said. "Nine out of 10 do not see business results, or maybe it's driving some business but they don't know it."

Successful ad campaigns, regardless of venue, face challenges. These include how rivals respond, product pricing and availability, and the ability to come up with content that resonates with a distracted, fickle audience.

By BRIAN DEAGON, INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY September 3, 2010


Going Viral Is Goal As More Ads Target YouTube, Facebook - IBD - Investors.com

AT&T's Eyes Opened By iPad's Success; Making Tablet Push - IBD - Investors.com

AT&T (T) plans to make its mark in media tablets.

The phone company will expand the roster of media tablet PCs for which it provides service beyond Apple's (AAPL) popular iPad. And a top executive for AT&T says the carrier will do so even if that slows the growth of other wireless devices, such as netbooks and e-book readers.

Demand for Apple's iPhone and iPad has been a big driver of AT&T's wireless business. AT&T activated 450,000 iPad users on its network in the second quarter. IPad sales began April 3.

The Apple iPad has been good for AT&T, which hopes to sell and provide service to many other media tablets. AP

The Apple iPad has been good for AT&T, which hopes to sell and provide service to many other media tablets. AP View Enlarged Image

AT&T provides wireless data services for a wide range of portable devices, including mini-laptop PCs, called netbooks, and electronic-book readers sold by such companies as Amazon.com (AMZN),Sony (SNE) and Barnes & Noble(BKS).

Because they have multiple uses, analysts say tablet PCs could cut into sales of netbooks, e-readers, GPS devices and more.

But if consumers prefer tablets, AT&T wants to ensure that its wireless network stays in the thick of things, says Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T's emerging devices unit.

He says AT&T is working with a wide range of tablet makers, including startup OpenPeak, which in June said it had raised $52 million from chipmaker Intel (INTC), General Electric(GE) and other investors. OpenPeak and AT&T plan to bring the OpenTablet to market this year.

"They are a close partner," Lurie said of OpenPeak. "They're in an exclusive relationship with us. We're definitely digging in with them.

"We've also got very strong relationships with Dell (DELL), HP (HPQ) and RIM (RIMM)," he added. "We're working with anybody and everybody that is building or talking about a tablet device."

Dell this month rolled out its first tablet, called Streak, with AT&T as its service provider. The device costs $300 if consumers sign up for a two-year service contract with AT&T; or $550 without a contract.

AT&T won't say whether it'll sell the OpenTablet at its own retail stores or subsidize its cost.

OpenTablet Makes Calls

The OpenTablet has been designed for multiple tasks, including managing home energy and security systems. It's also primed for entertainment and multimedia uses.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based OpenPeak says consumers will be able to use the tablet for social networking, downloading books, navigation and sharing video. Unlike the iPad, it's also designed to make phone calls.

Lurie says media tablets could become the Swiss army knife of computing devices. "Bottom line, we're heading toward a computing device that will be all-encompassing," he said.

He says tablets will be used at homes but also at offices, since the device can be hooked up to keyboards.

Lurie says tablets won't put netbook makers out of business. And some users will continue to prefer stand-alone e-book readers, he says.

Still, he expects a wide array of media tablets to emerge, at many prices. The iPad costs $499 to $699, depending on memory size and wireless capabilities.

"There will be a continuum of tablets," Lurie said. "The question is, what do they replace? I don't know the answer, but there will be a ton of innovation.

"A company like us better plan on having a wide variety choices for its customers, just like we do with smart phones today."

Software applications are making smart phones more versatile. Amazon recently made its Kindle e-reader software available on Google (GOOG) Android-based smart phones.

Facing more competition in e-readers, Amazon reportedly is mulling building a tablet and other devices.

AT&T has a stake in what companies win and lose. One of AT&T's partners, startup Plastic Logic, this month shelved plans to market a touch-screen e-reader.

Netbook sales took off in 2009 but will slow, says market research firm Gartner. In a report, Gartner analyst Raphael Vasquez says media tablets and similar devices priced lower than the iPad " will significantly detract" from netbook sales in 2013 and onward.

AT&T rivals such as Verizon Wireless also are working to bring more tablets to market.

By REINHARDT KRAUSE, INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY August 20, 2010



AT&T's Eyes Opened By iPad's Success; Making Tablet Push - IBD - Investors.com

Valley chosen to test fast wireless network

The Valley will soon become the nation's first and only test site for the fastest wireless technology entering the marketplace, a leap in cellphone and Internet service that could drive down prices for consumers.

Think seamless movie streaming on mobile devices, multiple-player gaming on smartphones and crystal-clear videoconferencing.

Clearwire, the wireless Internet-service provider behind the technology, will start the tests this fall and hopes to offer the service throughout the Valley next year. For months, the company has been seeking permits from cities to put up poles to transmit its microwave signal.

The tests are part of an intense competition in Arizona and elsewhere between Clearwire and its competitors to provide fourth-generation, long-term-evolution, or 4G LTE, technology. The emerging wireless technology is expected to provide download and upload speeds equal to cable Internet and exponentially faster than the third-generation, or 3G, technology used by cellphone-service providers now.

As with any new product that rivals its competition, consumer prices should come down, experts say.

"This could change a lot of things for people," said Retha Hill, director of the New Media Innovation Lab at Arizona State University. Consumers may scrap their cable, phone and Internet service and switch to wireless if the costs are significantly lower, she said.

"When you're paying $135 to $156 a month for bundled cable, phone and Internet service and could switch for $30 or $50 - where can I sign up?" Hill said.

Arizona currently doesn't have access to 4G, which exists under two competing technology standards: LTE and WiMax. Clearwire launched the first 4G service in the United States last year using the WiMax standard, and its service is now in 20 states.

However, every major U.S. cellphone carrier is gearing up to offer 4G. Most will be using LTE, which is faster than WiMax.

Officials from Clearwire and several cellphone companies would not disclose fees for their planned 4G LTE services, but some conceded that the competition and large-scale usage could bring down prices.

Clearwire, based in Kirkland, Wash., is the eighth-largest data provider in the nation. It markets wireless Internet outside of Arizona under its own brand, Clear, and through wholesale relationships with cellphone and cable-TV companies. Sprint, which is part owner of Clearwire, and Comcast deliver the WiMax wireless Internet service in a partnership with Clearwire.

Clearwire spokeswoman Debra Havins said the company will not reveal details about its tests or which cellphone carriers might offer the service but confirmed that the Valley is the only location where the company is trying out its new wireless network.

The ability of any carrier to wirelessly transmit e-mail, photos, video, music and TV shows to smartphones and laptops depends on the speed and reliability of its network. Speed is usually expressed as Mbps, megabits per second. Most 3G networks deliver data at 1 to 2 Mbps. The WiMax technology available in other states delivers speeds up to 12 Mbps. Clearwire's LTE network will be testing speeds of 20 to 70 Mbps, which will be even faster than competitors' planned LTE networks, Havins said.

In practical applications, it takes about two minutes to download a five-minute video on a 3G network; existing 4G networks can do it in less than a minute. Clearwire's speeds promise to do it in seconds or split seconds.

Havins said Clearwire is able to offer data transmission at such high speeds because the amount of broadcast spectrum it owns is "unmatched."

Every broadcast-television station, radio station and cellphone provider operates on its own particular slice of the airwaves, or broadcast spectrum. The larger a share of the spectrum one company owns, the more data it can transmit.

Jonathan Wells, a wireless-technology expert based in Pleasanton, Calif., said that LTE will soon be the dominant network technology and that Clearwire is building a nationwide presence. The Phoenix test, he said, "is an experiment, but a very significant one, because of what we call the iPhone effect: People are downloading massive amounts of data on their handheld devices, and many are using it as their primary connection to the Internet."

The speeds promised by Clearwire are "remarkable," Wells said, and could pave the way for high-speed multiplayer gaming and two-way videoconferencing for businesses.

Chris Conrey, vice president of Integrum, a Chandler software company that develops Web and mobile applications, said he is not convinced Clearwire can deliver the promised speeds.

"4G is going to be great, but Clearwire's numbers sound too good to be true," he said.

AT&T is getting ready to launch its 4G LTE system next year, spokesman Erika Ulring said. AT&T also is embarking on an aggressive plan to build more wireless-transmission poles to improve coverage, she said.

Verizon, the nation's largest wireless carrier, will roll out its LTE service before the end of this year in 25 to 30 market areas, spokeswoman Jenny Weaver said. She would not say if cities in Arizona are among them. By 2013, Verizon will have nationwide LTE coverage, Weaver said.

For months, Clearwire has been secretive about its Arizona plans, declining to answer questions about the spate of permit applications for wireless towers in several Valley cities. Planning and zoning offices in Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Tempe and Peoria have been getting an influx of Clearwire requests, municipal officials said. Phoenix is seeing significant increases in requests for cell-tower permits but could not immediately provide information about which providers were applicants.

City officials said they were not told by Clearwire representatives what the company was planning for the area.

"We knew they were bulking up to do something here," said Steven Philbrick, a technology official for Chandler.

by Edythe Jensen The Arizona Republic Sept. 4, 2010 12:00 AM


Valley chosen to test fast wireless network

Dell loses 3Par bidding war to HP | The Industry Standard - InfoWorld

Dell on Thursday said it would not increase its most recent proposal to acquire virtualized storage vendor 3Par, paving the path for rival Hewlett-Packard to acquire the company.

In a escalating bidding war, HP on Thursday raised its offer for 3Par to $33 per share, or roughly $2.4 billion, from its previous bid of $30 per share. The move topped Dell's latest offer of $32 per share, according to 3Par.

HP's bid constituted a "superior offer," and Dell's final offer to acquire 3Par was not accepted by 3Par's board of directors, Dell said in a statement.

"We took a measured approach throughout the process and have decided to end these discussions," said Dave Johnson, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Dell. Dell is entitled to receive a $72 million break-up fee from 3Par upon the termination of its merger agreement.

Dell initially agreed to buy 3Par on Aug. 16 for $1.15 billion, but HP on Aug. 23 submitted a bid to buy 3Par for $1.6 billion. The bidding process for the company escalated, and on Thursday, the board of directors at 3Par considered HP's revised $33 per share bid as being a "superior proposal" to Dell's $32 per share proposal.

3Par declined comment. An HP spokesperson declined comment.

3Par makes scalable storage platforms with thin provisioning, under which allocation of storage depends on application needs. 3Par's technology differs from "fat provisioning," under which excess storage is allocated to an application to meet future needs.

In 3Par, HP will get a storage vendor that competes with high-end storage offerings from EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and IBM, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

HP already offers high-end storage products, but mostly through a relationship with Hitachi Data Systems. 3Par will give HP a workable alternative to those offerings, King said.

"I think the real thing that HP was looking for here was a greater deal of autonomy for its storage products," King said.

With 3Par, HP will gain a competitive product that it owns in the top-tier storage space, rather than relying on Hitachi partner technology or HP's aging EVA (Enterprise Virtual Array) technology, said Andrew Reichman, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

"They need to focus on retaining customers and key staff, and designing their storage portfolio for the next decade, determining where 3Par fits and how they will proceed in the market," Reichman said.

The high-end storage market can be lucrative as the margins are high, but the sales are mostly to enterprises with high-end computing environments and storage needs. HP is betting that its opportunities in cloud computing could increase through storage products that 3Par offers. HP has a sizeable data-center business and may have customers interested in 3Par's product, Pund-IT's King said.

The desire to acquire 3Par technology was obvious considering how competitive the market has become, but HP's win isn't necessarily Dell's loss, analysts said. Dell has a good relationship with EMC for high-end storage offerings and could continue to build that relationship. EMC offers Symmetrix enterprise storage arrays.

Dell could also evaluate other acquisition candidates, but that is no easy task given that there is no clearly proven option, Reichman said.

Companies such as Compellent or Xiotech are likely the best options at this point, but neither compete directly in the top-tier enterprise storage market today, Reichman said. Dell could also try to acquire EMC or NetApp, either of which could be a tremendously expensive and complicated deal. Or Dell could decide not to expand into the enterprise storage market, and to some extent lose credibility as an enterprise player, Reichman said.

"This is clearly what HP is hoping for by denying Dell 3Par," Reichman said.

Dell spokesman David Frink said that the company already offers a full range of low- to high-end storage products that address all markets. The company has also been adding intellectual property to improve its storage offerings. The company in July bought Ocarina, which makes hardware and software to reduce the amount of storage capacity enterprises need.

Dell will also continue to look at acquisitions in specific areas through which the company can improve its product offerings, Frink said.

By Chris Kanaracus IDG News Service September 2, 2010


Dell loses 3Par bidding war to HP | The Industry Standard - InfoWorld

FOXNews.com - Apple Shows Off New iPods and TV, Unveils Social Network


Apple fans Web-wide tuned in to an annual music-themed event Wednesday, where Steve Jobs unveiled an updated streaming TV device, funky new iPods -- and a social network that's all about music.

The main focus of the event was iPods, ostensibly -- Apple claimed to have sold 275 million of them to date. And at the event, Apple chief Steve Jobs unveiled a slimmer new version of the Touch including "Retina display," the 24-bit high-quality screen that Apple introduced with the newest version of its iPhone.

Jobs called the Touch "the number-one portable game player in the world," noting that over a billion games and entertainment titles have been sold for it. Though the new Touch shares other hardware similarities to the latest iPhone (such as front and back cameras), it doesn't have cellular connectivity, and therefore won't share the radio issues that haunt the new iPhone.

Apple also unveiled a new version of the diminutive iPod Shuffle, with a square design and 15 hours of battery life; it will sell for $49. Jobs showed off a new squarish version of the iPod Nano as well, one that incorporates a multitouch screen. All three new iPods will be on sale next week, Jobs announced.

iTunes is a key part of the music package, and at the event, Jobs showed off the newest version, iTunes 10. It adds an intriguing new music-discovery function called Ping.

Ping aggregates posts from friends and artists you follow, a function similar to the social-networking features in Twitter and Facebook, and includes a new database with over 17,000 concert listings from those artists. Follow a person and get updates from him, with photos, concert dates, and new music he's bought or added to iTunes. It also creates a custom, top 10 chart of music based on those people you follow.

"It's a social network all about music," Jobs said.

Jobs unveiled a redesigned, smaller version of the Apple TV product too, which he acknowledged had not sold as well as the company hoped. "We’ve sold a lot of them but it’s never been a huge hit. But neither has any competitor product," he said.

The new product has no local storage, instead streaming videos and photos directly from iTunes. With it, you can rent first-run movies for $4.99 or high-definition TV shows for just $0.99, initially just from ABC and Fox.

"We think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board with us pretty soon," Jobs said.

Jobs wrapped up his demonstration by announcing a major price drop for the Apple TV, which will be available "in about 4 weeks," from $229 to just $99.

He began the event by unveiling iOS 4.1, which fixes bugs and adds support for high dynamic range photos, HD video, rentals and more. High dynamic range photos combine images from three pictures taken almost simultaneously into one, incredibly detailed image.

The operating system update also includes GameCenter, Apple's central point for game developers and players.

"If you don't have any friends, GameCenter will automatch you with others," Jobs said. Look for the free download for certain models of the iPod Touch and iPhone next week, he said.

Jobs also gave a preview of iOS 4.2, which brings wireless printing, GameCenter, high dynamic range photos and more to the iPad. Notably, it will also include AirPlay, which lets users send audio, photos, and video over Wi-Fi to other gadgets. Jobs said the update would come in November, and would be free for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPads.

The event was streamed live from Apple's website, though the "open" format Apple chose to use for the live stream (based on the new HTML5 standard) proved choppy, and was only supported in certain Apple devices, such as iPads, iPhones, and the latest version of the company's operating system, MacOS X 10.6.

By Jeremy A. Kaplan FoxNews.com September 1, 2010

FOXNews.com - Apple Shows Off New iPods and TV, Unveils Social Network

Apple - iPod nano - A new design for music and Multi-Touch.


Remixed for fingertips.

iPod nano with Multi-Touch is designed to be easy, and fun - just like music. And it's even smaller, so music can be an even bigger part of just about everything.

Music has a whole new feel.

iPod nano has been completely redesigned with Multi-Touch — the same technology that makes iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch so amazing. Now it’s half the size and even easier to play. And everything you want to hear is just a tap or swipe away.

Google’s Music Service to Launch by Christmas [REPORT]


Apple may get a nasty surprise this holiday season; rumors are swirling that Google’s Andy Rubin is planning on a holiday-season launch for the search behemoth’s new music download service.

According to a Reuters report, Rubin, the Google VP Engineering who oversees Android development, has been deep in talks with record labels and “hopes to have the service up and running by Christmas.”

Google’s service would be an iTunes challenger that would be deeply connected to the Android mobile operating system. As we reported over the summer, it seems the company plans to first launch a music download service and progress to an online subscription service by next year. Ultimately, “Google Music” would be a cloud-based subscription service with the ability to stream directly to Android mobile devices.

An anonymous record label exec confirmed to the newswire that Google was, indeed, in talks with labels about launching such a service and that labels aren’t at all upset about the prospect.

“Finally here’s an entity with the reach, resources and wherewithal to take on iTunes as a formidable competitor by tying it into search and Android mobile platform. What you’ll have is a very powerful player in the market that’s good for the music business,” the source said.

Right now, the ever-more-popular swarm of Android phones have an integration with Amazon’s MP3 store, but it’s not the best-integrated solution. If Google can perfect a music downloading system and include some of the mobile-desktop syncing features we saw at Google I/O, they just might have a killer app on their hands — one that would continue to allow Android to successfully challenge Apple’s iPhone in the mobile market, too.

Google began its work in the music space last year with the launch of a music search feature. When users searched Google for any kind of music, among search results would be streaming audio previews and music discovery features from music-centric companies including Pandora and Rhapsody.

With the recent launch of iTunes 10 and built-in music social network Ping, Apple is aiming for a major revitalization of its music offering. But so far, users’ reactions to the new software has been lukewarm at best.

Do you think Google could emerge in just a couple months with a winning approach to music downloading? How do you think this move might — or might not — affect Apple’s bottom line? Let us know your opinions in the comments.

by Jolie O'Dell Mashable September 6, 2010



Google’s Music Service to Launch by Christmas [REPORT]

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