If you're planning to get a new smartphone on Sprint, you should probably do so in the next couple of weeks. After Jan. 30, data plans for smartphones activated on the carrier will go up in price by $10 a month, the company announced today.
Called "Premium Data," the mandatory charge is added to the Sprint's existing unlimited $70 Everything Data plan, pumping it up to $80 a month. Sprint says the increase is to address its users' "growing appetite for a richer mobile experience." The charge affects only smartphones activated Jan. 30 or later—existing customers will not experience the increase until they upgrade.
This time last year, the tech world was holding its collective breath for the "slate" device Apple was heavily rumored to be releasing. A few weeks after CES, we had the Apple iPad, and a new product category with a clear leader was officially born. Since then, it feels like someone poured water on the tablet category or fed it after midnight. The sheer multitude of tablets seems to multiply like gremlins, and many of the products are equipped with operating systems that have a few gremlins of their own. CES 2011, nonetheless, will be remembered as the opening bell for the year of the tablet. Thus far, only two true contenders, Apple's iPad and Samsung's Android-based Galaxy Tab, have emerged as viable, enviable tablets. In about a week, that will all change…maybe.
At a Rogers TabLife conference this past week David Neale from RIM provided a very interesting first look at their upcoming tablet, the BlackBerry Playbook. As he commented about the media skepticism on whether the recently announced tablet was up to par with the iPad and Android tablets, or if it even existed, he said "it does live!" The video presentation showed the fast processor, 1080p video, flash browser and multi-tasking. He also promised that the unit was not finished too and that it would be even faster. In the questions part of the interview he touched on the fact that the tablet is aimed at the "professional grade" audience. He also said security was a top concern, and that it would securely pair with BlackBerry smartphones via Bluetooth. He stated that 7-inches would be the form factor for the first instance, but that he could see more sizes coming in the future, and even devices with keyboards. Check out the video for more interesting tidbits from the 18 minutes presentation.
Read More | Vimeo
Research In Motion announced today the joining of The Astonishing Tribe, or TAT, to their team. TAT has been involved in many mobile user interface designs, such as the original Android UI on the T-Mobile G1, and will be lending their artistry to the BlackBerry PlayBook and RIM's smartphone platforms. What does this mean for BlackBerry users? Well, judging by TAT’s previous design efforts they’re going to be some happy BBMers.
Read More | BlackBerry Blog
A couple of days ago was the infamous Cyber Monday, where online stores see massive surges in sales, and eBay is one of the prime destinations people go to buy goods. Today they reported that their mobile sales for the Monday after Thanksgiving were up 146%. Also, eBay released a visualization tool that shows mobile shopping trends across 6 countries. The company reported that the use of its mobile platforms went up 3 times since 2009, with its iPhone app leading the way, followed by Android and Blackberry. In the US, cars and trucks were the biggest mobile trends, with cell phones, PDAs, women's clothing and other accessories leading the number of transactions done. It's clear that eBay is pushing its mobile apps, having recently released an updated version for the iPhone which includes a bar code reader, to bridge the in-store and online shopping experience.
Read More | eBay
It's no secret that Android phones are growing in popularity at an amazing rate, with new phones being introduced all the time. In North America, it's already the most popular smartphone platform, beating out iOS and Blackberry. However, in the rest of the world, it's a different story. Phones based on the Symbian system rule the market, but Symbian marketshare has been going down steadily. This week, the research firm GfK reports that in the third quarter, Android overtook Symbian for the first time in Asia.
According to the firm: "Our Q3 report shows that Android has recently overtaken Symbian as the most popular smartphone OS in the context of Asia as a whole, in both value and unit sales. However, it is interesting to note the difference in OS trends when we look at findings in North and Southeast Asia separately."
Definitely nice to see that the mobile OS competition is heating up across the globe.
Read More | GfK
With more than 45 million smartphone and tablet users nationwide and ABI Research predicting that 6 billion mobile applications will be downloaded this year alone, businesses, especially those looking to reach consumers, have been frenzied about launching mobile offerings. In the past several years, much of the buzz surrounding the mobile space has been about the iPhone. With the debut of the iPhone 4 earlier this year, many businesses continue to focus their mobile strategy resources solely on this much-hyped operating system. In fact, a recent Kony Solutions survey of Fortune 500 corporations found that a staggering 85% of respondents ranked the iPhone as their top priority device for mobile support.
However, the current mobile landscape is quite fragmented - given the sheer number of handsets available to consumers - and the market isn’t necessarily dominated by the iPhone. A 2010 Gartner report estimated that the iPhone holds just 2.7% of the mobile market share. Notably, Android has surpassed Apple’s iOS, and comScore recently reported that RIM actually continues to capture the most smartphone market share (although Apple just announced that they've surpassed RIM for Q4 2010.) As such, the true market share of the iPhone doesn’t warrant the resources and strategy being dedicated solely to this device by Fortune 500 corporations, and companies in this position stand to lose more than 97% of mobile customers.
Data acquired by Nielsen in this graph shows the past 8 months of Android‘s steady rise to the top as the most popular OS. While iOS took a major dive around June, and BlackBerry OS continuing to swerve in both directions like a drunk behind the wheel. This puts Android at 32% of new phone purchases, with Apple and BlackBerry closely tailing each other at 25% and 26% respectively. Though, RIM still remains in the overall lead, boasting the most users of their OS in the US market.
Read More | Nielsen
Today RIM (Research in Motion) finally introduced the world to the BlackBerry Playbook. The Playbook is a 7-inch tablet that RIM hopes will be a healthy competitor to the Apple iPad, and runs its own custom version of the BlackBerry Tablet OS.
The insides of this thing sound pretty good as well, and almost put the iPad to shame: a dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM, front and rear facing cameras that both support high definition, Flash 10.1 with hardware acceleration, HDMI out, USB, and HTML5 support. It’s got a widescreen 1024 x 600 display that supports multi-touch, and RIM was proud to announce that the Playbook will connect with BlackBerry enterprise servers right out of the box. Now, on paper this thing sounds powerful, but it’s really going to be the UI and user experience in software that will make or break this thing.
RIM says that the Playbook isn’t just for business, and that its OpenGL support is perfect for gaming. It also has e-reader capabilities, and a full web browser, as previously mentioned. Expect the BlackBerry App World to make an appearance here as well, along with in-app purchase integration that developers will be able to tap in to. RIM also says that the BlackBerry Playbook will be offerred in 3G and 4G models in the future.
In light of their new Windows Phone 7 RTM being sent off for manufacturing, the folks at Microsoft jauntily gathered to pay their last respects to the iPhone and BlackBerry. The faux funeral was fully decked out with life sized mock iPhone and BlackBerry devices driven by hearse through Redmund campus.
Microsoft burying the iPhone and BlackBerry may seem a little far fetched at this juncture, but it sure is fun to watch when the big companies go head to head like this. No matter what side you are on, expect the competition to bring new levels of quality to everyone.
Windows Phone 7 was finished on September 1st, with a release date planned to be announced on October 11th in New York City.