February 27, 2011

Motorola Xoom review -- Engadget

As we put rubber to road on our Motorola Xoom review, it's important to note that it was only a matter of time before the Android army delivered a proper iPad competitor. Moto's partnership with Google (and use of the 3.0 version of its mobile operating system, Honeycomb), has made that assumed inevitability a very serious reality. There can be little question that the Xoom is certainly a contender for the hearts and minds of potential tablet buyers in the market. Besides boasting that fancy new software (a completely redesigned experience masterminded by the man behind webOS, Matias Duarte), the Xoom is equipped with formidable hardware. The 1GHz, NVIDIA Tegra 2-based slate boasts a sizable 1GB of DDR2 RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 capacitive display, 3G connectivity (Verizon on our review unit), along with front and rear facing cameras, HD video capability, and loads of wireless options. Not only is the Xoom clearly competitive (and frankly, more stacked) than most of its competition, Motorola has attempted to futureproof the device by offering a free hardware upgrade down the road which will give the tablet access to Big Red's 4G LTE network. Of course, all this power comes with a cost... literally. With a list price off contract of $799, the Xoom is quite a pricey piece of technology to own. Still, with all that's packed inside -- and more importantly with what Google has done on the software side -- the Xoom could represent the next stage of tablet evolution. Is it time to take the plunge? Read on for our definitive answer in the full Engadget review!


Hardware

The Xoom is a handsomely built tablet, though at a glance, you'll think you've seen this before. Maybe it's that little can be done within the constraints of the tablet form factor (or Motorola isn't really trying), but the general shape and build of the Xoom comes off looking just a teensy bit like the iPad's longer, more dangerous cousin. The back and sides of the device are a similar, machined metal (though Verizon's version is painted a matte black, which is a real fingerprint magnet), the corners are similarly curved, and the front is, of course, all screen. That's not to say the Xoom isn't good looking -- it is -- but there isn't much original going on with the general industrial design that's at play here. And that's okay by us.

At 9.8 inches wide by 6.6 inches tall (with a thickness of a half inch), the device isn't massive (albeit a little unwieldy when held in portrait), and its 1.5 pound weight gives it heft without killing your arms -- though it still strains your muscles a bit if you're holding the tablet up for an extended period of time.

The Xoom is clearly meant to be used in landscape mode more than portrait (though it can be rotated any way you prefer). If you're holding the tablet in that orientation, you'll find the front facing camera sitting dead-center between the Motorola and Verizon logos along the top of the glass display. On the left side of the device, there are two volume buttons; along the top is a slot for a future LTE SIM and microSD card (more on that in a moment); on the bottom you'll find a Micro USB and mini HDMI jack, along with dock sensors. Around the back of the device, Motorola has weirdly chosen to place the power / sleep button next to the camera lens and flash -- and those components are flanked by stereo speakers. We had a lot of issues with both the volume buttons and power button on the device; we found the volume keys difficult to find and use as they're extremely shallow and placed right next to a notch in the casing of the device. The power button was even worse; we didn't mind the placement so much, but like the volume buttons the single, small circle is extremely shallow -- and worse, it got stuck a number of times when we were using it! Instead of waking the device up or putting it to sleep, we were prompted to shut down the Xoom. Hopefully this is just a random issue with our unit, but it didn't give us warm and fuzzy feelings about the build quality.

Internals / display / sound quality / battery life

As we said in the intro, the guts of the Xoom are more than competitive -- and performance on the device was really quite brisk. We did experience some slowdown when transferring files from our computer or jumping quickly between lots of apps, but we were blown away by the robustness and speed of applications like the browser and some of the included games. The general responsiveness of the UI and touch reaction was inline with the best the iPad exhibits. Besides that Tegra 2 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage, the device is equipped with WiFi 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A, along with GPS, a light sensor, and an accelerometer. As we said in the intro, the device can be upgraded to use Verizon's LTE network. That upgrade will come in the form of a hardware swap which either Verizon or Motorola will have to do, meaning your tablet will go into the shop at some point (at least, that's what Motorola reps told us). Strangely, there's a microSD slot present on the device, but it's non-functioning at this point. When we pressed Motorola, the company made it sound like it was waiting on a software update from Google to enable the slot. Very strange stuff. What that means for right now is that you can buy a 32GB tablet... and that's it.

The display on the Xoom is slightly larger than the iPad's 9.7-inch screen, and higher resolution (1280 x 800 to Apple's 1024 x 768). The aspect ratio is substantially different as well, meaning that the Xoom feels a lot longer (or taller) than the iPad. In general, we felt portrait use was slightly uncomfortable given the size, but not in any way a dealbreaker. Though the screen does look nice, pixel density seemed to suffer -- a situation that was particularly evident when using the Google Books application. Still, the Xoom's display is more than capable at making game and video content look clear and crisp. One note, however -- Motorola's auto-brightness controls seem a little extreme to us here, forcing us to manually adjust the brightness most of the time. Hopefully a software update will come along which softens the severity with which it dims the screen; it was simply too dark for our tastes.

On the sound side of things, the Xoom could produce reasonably clear audio at a mid-level volume, but cranking the tablet up created some pretty nasty distortion on basic sounds, like the email notifications. We had to reduce the volume a number of times when we felt that the levels were actually doing damage to the speakers; we're all for loud, but it seems like Motorola (typically very solid in the audio department) might have bitten off more than it could chew here.

Battery life on the Xoom was excellent. Beyond excellent, actually -- some of the best performance we've seen on a slate. Running a video on loop with the screen set at 65 percent brightness, we were able to get playback for nearly eight and a half hours (8:20 to be exact). Motorola claims up to ten, so we weren't far off the mark at all. We had a few background tasks going on, and both WiFi and 3G radios were active. We could easily see maximizing this if you're in airplane mode with a slightly lower brightness setting.

Battery Life
Motorola Xoom8:20
Dell Streak 73:26
Archos 1017:20
Samsung Galaxy Tab6:09
Apple iPad9:33

Cameras

There's no question that it's nice to have a 5 megapixel camera and LED flash on the back of the Xoom, but we found little utility in actually having a decent shooter on a device of this size. It's hard to imagine a scenario where you're using the Xoom as your main camera. Besides looking ridiculous, it's not all that convenient to handle something this large when you're trying to snap away. Another issue is the sheer glare of the screen -- shooting in daylight proved to be a challenge, and sometimes we couldn't even see the display well enough to snap a photo.

That said, the rear camera produced relatively good looking photos -- about the quality we've been seeing with the company's Atrix 4G -- though the interface in Honeycomb is about a million times better looking and more pleasant to use. Again, it is somewhat difficult to hold something of this size and take really steady shots, so we found the use of the Xoom as a camera almost completely impractical in most situations.

Video turned out well, and it's nice to be able to shoot 720p with a display of this size, though we did experience a few instances where the recording video stuttered or stopped completely -- and those defects were present during playback. The included Movie Studio software allows you to fairly easily edit your creations -- though it's by no means perfect -- but it was good of Google to include the package with this device (more on that in the software section).

As far as the front-facing camera goes, you should expect pretty standard stuff. We doubt you'll be using this for fashion shoots, but for hairstyling and video chats, it does the trick. Just the fact that it's there is pretty cool, really.

Software

While the hardware of the Xoom is notable, it's not the real story. The real story is all about Android, and the next stage of its evolution -- namely Honeycomb. Version 3.0 of the mobile operating system represents a significant change for just about every aspect of the user interface, and some notable alterations under the surface as well. As we've extensively covered, UI wunderkind Matias Duarte left Palm to work for Google less than half a year ago, and seems to have immediately dived into the work that he does best -- reinventing user interfaces and user interaction for mobile devices.

The Honeycomb look and feel certainly has the work of a single mind written all over it -- while we know this is very much a team effort (something we discussed with Matias in our interview at CES), it's also clear that someone is steering the ship with far more resolve than ever before witnessed in this OS. From a purely visual standpoint, Android 3.0 comes together in a far more cohesive manner than any previous iteration of the software, and the changes aren't just cosmetic. Much of the obscurity in the OS and arcane functions of this software have been jettisoned or drastically changed, making for an experience that is far more obvious to a novice user... though we wouldn't exactly describe it as simple.

From a visual standpoint, we could most easily explain that Android 3.0 looks very much like the world of Tron. Think soft focus neon and cold, hard digital angles. A homescreen which phases between panels with a blue, ghosting glow that represents your last and next page. When you place items on the homescreens, you see a distant patchwork of grid marks, and a vector outline of where your icon or widget will eventually land. Even in the app list, you see electric blue representations of your icons before the icons themselves. The effect is angular, but the feel is still very human -- like a cross between the "chromeless" environment of Windows Phone 7, and the photorealism of webOS or iOS. It absolutely works. From the overall look and feel down to the method in which you get widgets onto your pages or change the wallpaper, everything is new here.

Unlike Apple and it's single-minded iOS, however, Android is still filled with variables and choices which make general navigation a learning process, and even though Honeycomb has made huge inroads to making that process simpler, it's not 100 percent there. The general vibe of Android is still present here -- you have a series of homescreens which are scrollable, and can be loaded up with a variety of application shortcuts, folders, shortcuts, and widgets. Unlike most mobile OSs, Honeycomb places the status bar along the bottom of the device, and then fills the left side of that bar with the constant pieces of navigation you'll use to get around the OS.

Yes, gone are the hardware buttons of yesteryear -- 3.0 replaces the familiar home and back buttons with virtual incarnations, then adds a couple of extra pieces for good measure. Along with those two main buttons, Honeycomb introduces a multitasking icon which pops open a list of recently used apps along with a snapshot of their saved state. The back button is also a little more dynamic in 3.0, shifting between a straightforward back key, and a keyboard-hider when necessary. If your app utilizes the menu key on Android phones, you get an icon for that as well. The home button will take you back to your main views, but it can't get you to your apps. Instead, Honeycomb introduces a new (and somewhat confusing) button -- an "apps" icon which lives in the upper right hand corner of your device. You might think that comes in handy, but you can only access your app pages from the homescreen of the tablet, meaning that you have to use a two step process to get to your app list. We're not totally clear on why this isn't another button that lives along the bottom of the device with the rest of the navigation, and frankly it proved confusing when we were trying to get around the Xoom quickly.

On the right side of that status bar are your battery and time indicators, along with a pop-up area for notifications. The whole structure of the status bar feels weirdly like Windows. When you get a new email or Twitter mention, you're alerted in that righthand corner with an almost Growl-like box, which fades away quickly. When you tap on that space, you're given a time and battery window where you're also able to manage notifications (though strangely there's no option to clear all notifications). A settings button present there will also allow you to change your brightness and wireless settings, orientation lock, or jump to the full settings of the device. In all, it's a tremendously convenient piece of this new OS, but not a new OS trick by any means. The desktop feels alive and well in Honeycomb.


In applications like the browser -- which is now far more like a desktop version of Chrome (with proper tabs and all) -- you also get the sense that Google is taking a lot of cues from familiar places. Besides just offering bigger views and more real estate, there are drop down menus (located in the upper-right hand corner) and far more of the navigational items exposed. In fact, in all of the new native applications, there is no menu button present. All of the key elements of navigation are front and center, usually along the top of the app's display, which should make for an easier time when it comes to getting things done, but can create confusing situations. For instance, in Gmail, your items in the upper right of the app change based on the context; that's good for managing messages in one view, but creates some head-scratching moments in others. Worse, the back button (which you use frequently) is in the exact opposite corner, meaning that your gaze is constantly shifting between two places on the tablet -- two places that are furthest apart. The experience encourages a lot of eye-darting, which makes quickly managing tasks somewhat of a chore. We wish that Google had somehow combined the app navigation and tablet navigation into a more closely related space, so that instead of jumping from corner to corner, you were able to focusing on one place for operation of the app, and another for its content. We found ourselves having this same experience all over the Xoom.

On the plus side (and it is a big plus), the Xoom feels much more like a real netbook or laptop replacement. Being able to multitask in the manner Google has devised, having properly running background tasks, and real, unobtrusive notifications feels really, really good in the tablet form factor. Additionally, the fact that Google has included active widgets that plug right into things like Gmail makes monitoring and dealing with work (or play) much more fluid than on the iPad.

One other big note: a lot of the new software feels like it isn't quite out of beta (surprise surprise). We had our fair share of force closes and bizarre freezes, particularly in the Market app and Movie Studio. Most applications were fine, but there definitely some moments where we felt like the whole device was teetering on the brink of a total crash.

That said, there are some significant changes to stock applications and new additions to the family that we thought were worth a slightly deeper look, so here's a breakdown of what you can expect -- both old and new -- when you open the Xoom box.

Browser

We loved the browsing experience on the Xoom. The included app is (as we said) far more like a desktop version of Chrome, and if you're already using the software on your laptop or desktop, you'll feel right at home. Pages displayed quickly and cleanly on the tablet, though we have to admit that we're more than a little miffed that Flash support isn't present out of the box with the Xoom. Strange considering this is one of the real advantages Android devices have over Apple's offerings.

Despite our enjoyment, there were some maddening issues, like the fact that the browser still identifies as an Android phone, meaning most sites with a mobile view end up on your big, beautiful browser tab. Given how close this version is to the real Chrome, we're surprised Google wasn't a little more proactive about this.

Gmail

Gmail has been completely redesigned for Honeycomb, and it's a big upgrade. We'd love to say that it's all rainbows and butterflies, but there are some nagging problems that come along with the changes, and we're hoping Google will clean it up a bit moving forward. The application seems to generally suffer from UI overload; there have always been a lot of hidden features in Gmail for Android, and now that those hidden elements are brought to the surface, it creates a feeling that you're never in a single place. As with other parts of the OS, we found ourselves jumping to and fro trying to locate UI elements and get work done. Adding confusion to this new layout is the fact that menus now change contextually based on what you've selected, which means that not only are you dealing with scattered navigational items, but those items can change on the fly while you're working.

Maybe we're just too addicted to Gmail as it is now, but this incarnation feels splintered to us.

Music

It's about time... isn't it? The music app in Honeycomb has been completely, mercifully rethought, and it is stunning. As you can see in the above photo, gone is the amateurish and drab Android player. It's now been replaced with a dimensional, 3D interface that isn't just good looking, it's actually useful. There are 2D views when you jump into albums and playlists, but the flipbook navigation is actually not bad for finding your music. Unfortunately, the Xoom seemed to have trouble recognizing all of our album art, and there were some issues with album art doubling up (our Engadget podcast logo seemed to get glued to another album). Minor issues aside, we're impressed with the work Google has done here.

YouTube

Like the Music app, YouTube has gotten a revamp here. Keeping in line with the 3D feel of the Honeycomb interface, you're presented with a wall of videos which you can pan through -- kind of like your own wall of TVs (if TV had nothing but clips of people dancing and / or injuring themselves). If you've always wanted to feel like Ozymandias from the final pages of Watchmen, here's your chance.

Playing videos was pretty much a standard YouTube experience... which unfortunately these days seems to mean watching for stuff to buffer. A lot.

Google Talk

We love the version of Google Talk present in Honeycomb. Not only does it provide clear, seamless integration with accounts you already use, but the way it utilizes both voice and video conversations is terrific.

The app itself is fairly straightforward, but it did take a little bit of head scratching before we figured out exactly how to move between voice, chat, and video. Our callers on the other end of the line said video quality was a bit on the low res side (see the photo above -- Xoom up top, MacBook Pro camera in the corner) even on WiFi. We're not sure why that would be the case, but hopefully it can be cleared up with some software tweaking.

Overall, however, the new Google Talk works in perfect harmony with the Xoom.

Movie Studio

We had high hopes for Movie Studio -- a competitor to Apple's iOS version of iMovie. While the software is quite powerful, our experience with it was less than thrilling. Besides being generally sluggish, clip editing is kind of an obtuse affair. We were able to get some work done with it, but it doesn't seem to be nearly as straightforward as it should. More than once while using the app, we found ourselves waiting around for clips to redraw or playback video that seemed to stall out. We're not saying there aren't uses for the software, but it feels like it needs a revision or two before it's ready for prime time. And that's too bad... since the Xoom is in market right now.

Other apps

There were a handful of applications that we had a chance to play around with which show off the Xoom (and Honeycomb's) capabilities. Google Body (an interactive, 3D body simulator), Pulse (a news reader, which you should know from its iOS incarnation), and games like Cordy all show that the Xoom and its OS are more than powerful enough to pull off iPad like experiences. Unfortunately, there just aren't many of those experiences available to users right now, and it doesn't seem like Google has gotten a big headstart on getting tablet titles into the Android Market.

There is a ton of promise on the software side for tablets running Honeycomb given the new access to 3D tools and system tweaking that Android allows, but right now it's a small island in a sea of phone titles -- and the majority of those titles do not look right on a 10.1-inch screen at this resolution.

Pricing and data

Oh, the Xoom pricing. It sure hasn't been much of a secret (we had over five pricing leak posts!), but it certainty has been the focal point of the new tablet's entrance into the market. So, what will this thing cost you? Motorola has set the price of the 32GB, 3G version at $800. Now, that is unsubsidized, however, Verizon is requiring customers pay for one month of service -- $20 for 1GB of data -- to basically unlock the device. It doesn't seem very fair, but such is life.

Update: Verizon's been in touch to say that customers who purchase the off-contract Xoom will no longer need to be on a month to month plan. That said, we still see "Month to Month" as a compulsory option at the time of updating this post.

The other option at the moment is to buy the same Xoom on-contract from Verizon for $600. That does shave off $200, but you're not exactly saving money, considering you're locking yourself into paying $20 a month for the next two years, which comes out to $1,080. Also, don't forget the Xoom is upgradable to LTE. However, the carrier is still keeping quiet on pricing for the 4G service.

Is that a lot of money for a tablet? Sure it is, and if you opt for the $800 unsubsidized version it comes out to $71 more than Apple's comparable iPad -- the 32GB / 3G iPad rings up at $729. Unfortunately, at this point we don't have any real details on when the WiFi only version will be hitting, but Motorola's CEO has said that it will be also priced at $600. Again, that's in line with the $599 32GB / WiFi iPad.

Wrap-up

Despite the drawbacks that we've outlined in this review, there is actually a lot about the Xoom to like. Besides boasting what we consider to be the most complete and clearly functioning version of Android, the hardware which is packed inside Motorola's tablet is really quite good. The tablet is fast and sleek, and while not exactly being really futureproof, the fact that you've got a path to a 4G upgrade is tremendous (and frankly, something no one else in the industry is offering).

The problem with the Xoom isn't really about the core of the experience or the core of the hardware -- it's about the details. Too much in both the design (like those wonky buttons) or the software (like the feeling that this is all very much in beta) makes you wonder if this wasn't rushed out to market in order to beat the next wave from Apple. Regardless, there isn't much here for consumers right now. The Android Market is almost devoid of tablet applications, the OS feels buggy and unfinished, and the hardware has pain points that we find troubling. And that's to say nothing of the pricing and carrier commitments being asked of first-time buyers.

Is the Xoom a real competitor to the iPad? Absolutely. In fact, it outclasses the iPad in many ways. Still, the end user experience isn't nearly where it needs to be, and until Google paints its tablet strategy and software picture more clearly, we'd suggest a wait-and-see approach. Honeycomb and the Xoom are spectacular -- unfortunately they're a spectacular work in progress.

by Joshua Topolsky Engadget February 23, 2011


Motorola Xoom review -- Engadget

Cox offering subscribers caller ID for TVs

In its latest initiative to blend technology across multiple mediums, Atlanta-based Cox Communications has announced it will soon unveil television caller ID.

True to its name, metro Phoenix customers who bundle Cox's phone and cable services will be alerted on their TV screens when they have an incoming call.

The caller's name and phone number will appear in the upper left-hand corner of the TV, large enough for a viewer to read, but small enough that it won't obstruct the view of the program they're watching.


"The customer's entertainment experience is really starting to blend together," said Josh Nelson, vice president of information and network technology.

Although Cox did not provide a specific rollout date, it said customers who subscribe to its phone and cable services should expect the upgrade to occur in the next few weeks.

The change will be automatic and will require no additional installations, Nelson said. TV caller ID is free for Cox subscribers, he added.

Cox also recently rolled out so-called "zone channels." The channels - 897, 898 and 899 - correspond with a content theme, such as news, sports and kids programs.

When a customer chooses one of the channels, for example, news (897), they are directed to a tiled screen with several windows. Each of those tiles displays live content as it is being displayed by the different stations.

If a customer scrolls over one of the tiles, the volume automatically switches on.

Cox's TV caller ID and zone channels are the latest in several upgrades the company has made to its television services. In late 2010, the company launched a redesigned channel guide.

Nelson said consumers should expect to see additional rollouts of new services in 2011.

by Megan Neighbor The Arizona Republic Feb. 27, 2011 12:00 AM





Cox offering subscribers caller ID for TVs

February 26, 2011

Networking site links golf, business




Trent Moller knows the value of networking. With 13 years of sales experience, he also knows how tough cold-calling can be.

"It's no fun on both ends," the Peoria resident said.

He believes he has a solution.


This month, Moller launched Green Fairways Networking. It's like match.com for potential business allies, who could tee off on the golf course.

Anyone with a product or an idea to sell can sign up on the company website (greenfairwaysnetworking.com), posting information about themselves and what they're selling. Other business professionals who want more information about the product or idea can also sign up as potential customers.

If the potential customer or VIP is interested in hearing more, the salesperson or host takes the VIP out for a round of golf to talk about the concept and develop a business relationship.

The Republic chatted with Moller about the concept and why he believes it's better than cold-calling to snag a deal.

Question: How did you come up with the idea?

Answer: I was supposed to make cold calls one day and not being excited about the prospect of calling mindlessly for four hours, I kind of just thought to myself, "I'd rather pay for a round of golf and take a potential customer golfing. That would be a better use of my time."

Q: Tell me more about the concept.

A: The hosts and the VIPs can sign up and search for potential customers or sellers. As a seller, I can search the criteria of the person I want to meet, be it someone in the financial industry or hospitality or anything.

I could search for a person by their position in the company or by their location. So, I can tailor my search to fit my needs. The VIPs will only be identified by a user name, so they don't have to reveal themselves unless they want to physically meet a person for a round of golf. But if they do, then the sellers at least know they have a potential customer who's all ears.

As a VIP, by signing up for this, I know the salesperson is more legitimate if they're willing to take me golfing. As a salesperson, I know I have a better chance of selling something if I have that much time with them.

Q: Doesn't golf-course networking already happen?

A: Golf and business is a pretty good marriage, but no one's doing it like this. The kind of networking you see on the golf course typically is where people take those who are already their customers out for a round of golf or do meetings with them. But as far as meeting on the golf course for the first time, that doesn't really happen. This is a more strategic way to meet someone. This is also different from attending networking events because in those you have to sift through a lot of people before hitting the right ones. Through this website, you can network strategically.

Q: What's the miracle of the golf course?

A: Golf is a great sport and a golf course is a great environment to get to know someone. You're together with them for four hours, doing something you enjoy. It's a lot different from being at a Suns game or a concert because there you're more focused on that event.

In golf, you're with someone in a cart, you're enjoying your day outside. And you can get to know someone's character even by the way they play the game.

by Sonu Munshi The Arizona Republic Feb. 26, 2011 12:00 AM





Networking site links golf, business

Apple shareholders nix CEO talk

CUPERTINO, Calif. - Apple shareholders rejected a proposal Wednesday that called for the company to disclose a succession plan for its chief executive.

The rejection came a month after Apple CEO Steve Jobs went on an indefinite medical leave for unspecified problems - an absence that could be related to his previous bout with pancreatic cancer or his 2009 liver transplant. Jobs did not attend the meeting, which was led by Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook and general counsel Bruce Sewell.

Apple Inc. announced the preliminary vote on the non-binding proposal at its annual shareholders meeting at the company's Cupertino headquarters. The company did not provide the voting breakdown.


The Central Laborers' Pension Fund, which owns 11,484 shares of Apple stock, called for a succession plan to ensure "a smooth transition" in case Jobs leaves as CEO.

The proposal didn't ask Apple to name whom it planned to appoint, but it wanted the company to come up with a three-year plan for changing leadership and an emergency plan. The plan would be reviewed annually by Apple, and a report on it would be shared with stockholders.

Like many shareholder proposals, even if this one passed, it would only have served as a formal request that Apple share its succession plan, not a requirement.

Apple, which advised shareholders to vote against the proposal, said it already conducts such planning internally, but warned that its disclosure would reveal confidential information and hurt the company's ability to recruit and retain executives.

Jennifer O'Dell, spokeswoman for the Laborers' International Union of North America, spoke in favor of the proposal, saying Apple has a responsibility to its shareholders to have a clear CEO succession plan in place, whether a transition is "planned in advance or a sudden decision."

After the proposal was defeated, O'Dell said it was likely something that would be presented again in future years.

But shareholders may feel the same then as they do now. Chris Kuhlman, a shareholder from Los Angeles, voted against the proposal. He said Jobs had laid the foundation for Apple, and he trusted that the company would make the right decision about a successor when the time comes.

"Apple will be just fine," he said.

The meeting was also an opportunity for shareholders to ask questions about Apple and its ailing CEO.

But while the audience peppered management with questions about the health of its supply chain and competition between the iPhone and smart phones using Google Inc.'s Android operating software, there was little talk of Jobs.

Shareholder Kirk DeBernardi said shareholders had respect for the CEO and didn't come to the meeting to "badger management with questions" about his health.

Also on Wednesday, Apple e-mailed invitations to a media event in San Francisco. The company was expected to unveil the second generation of its wildly successful media tablet.

by Rachel Metz Associated Press Feb. 24, 2011 12:00 AM




Apple shareholders nix CEO talk

PayPal opens 2nd Valley site

PayPal, an online-payment service that facilitates nearly 18 percent of all global online commerce, celebrated the grand opening Wednesday of its Price Road customer-service and operations center.

PayPal, which is hiring hundreds for its Chandler operations, occupies the first two floors of Chandler Echelon just south of the Santan Freeway. It plans to grow into the top two floors and ultimately house 2,000 employees by the end of the year. It has 500 now.

The company is hiring people for operations, customer service, training, technology and management. Potential workers can apply at ebaycareers.com.


The building, which houses customer service, operations and technology, serves PayPal customers in North America and Australia.

"Arizona can be a magnet for business expansion," said Gov. Jan Brewer, who cut the ribbon Wednesday with PayPal President Scott Thompson.

Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny described the presence of PayPal as critical boost to the local and regional economy. "PayPal is recognized for its exceptional work environment and commitment to employees and the community," the mayor said. "We couldn't ask for a better partnership."

PayPal since 2006 has had operations in Scottsdale, where 200 employees support the business in product development, infrastructure design, engineering and engineering support. It also has operations in Austin; near Omaha, Neb., and Baltimore; Dublin, Ireland; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Chennai, India; Singapore; and Tel Aviv, Israel.

For his part, Thompson praised Arizonans.

"I've worked with people around the globe, and the state of Arizona and the city of Chandler have been absolutely top-notch from the beginning with us," he said.

PayPal chose Chandler for several reasons, including the quality of the building, the commute for employees, proximity to its other offices in Scottsdale, favorable weather and a time zone to support customer operations, spokeswoman Sara Parker said.

PayPal revenue in 2010 was $3.4 billion, up 23 percent from the previous year, she said. The company has 94 million active registered accounts.

The 188,000-square-foot building received a silver LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for interior construction.

It will have a 5,000-square-foot gym with exterior access so employees can use it even when they're not working. Although the building has some cubicles, many of the employees will sit at workstations on serpentine-shaped counters, which give the illusion of more space.

The building contains what the company calls "fueling stations," with soda machines and Seattle's Best Coffee, and meeting and training rooms, with videoconferencing capability.

PayPal has accounts in 190 markets and 24 currencies around the world.

by Luci Scott The Arizona Republic Feb. 24, 2011 12:00 AM



PayPal opens 2nd Valley site

Pandora + Rdio = Soundtrckr

Want to make your music-listening experience more social, without paying a cent? Well, then, Soundtrckr is right up your proverbial alley.

Soundtrckr, which launched a few months ago and had its official send-off recently, is a service for the desktop, iPhone [iTunes link], iPod touch, Windows Phone 7, Google Chrome and Nokia that marries music discovery with social and geolocation.

Once installing the free app on one’s phone, a user has access to 10 million songs from indie and major labels (that’s comparable with MOG’s offering), as well as the ability to interact with friends.

Music subscription service Rdio‘s major selling point has been its social aspect, allowing users to follow friends and their listening habits. Soundtrckr kicks that feature up a notch — allowing you to chat with friends in-app, share music on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, as well as check out stations created by folks in your vicinity.

Still, unlike Rdio, one is not privy to on-demand listening nor offline caching, which makes the service closer to Pandora or the current iteration of Slacker Radio (although Slacker does have offline listening) when it comes to music itself.

According to founder and CEO Daniele Calabrese, the service will soon be available in eight languages, as well as on Android, BlackBerry PlayBook and the HP TouchPad.

The iPhone app is a little on the crashy side (although the desktop version is super slick), but it’s still a pretty fun way to discover/listen to music. Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the user interface — which is rather clean and simple to navigate.

by Brenna Ehrlich Mashable February 23, 2011


Pandora + Rdio = Soundtrckr

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