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In the early days of the App Store, search wasn’t really that important. With relatively few apps (and very few good apps), the directory/browse experience was ideal. For those of you who were around/pubescent during dotcom #1, that might remind you of a nimble upstart at the time– Yahoo. They proposed to categorize and organize all of the worthwhile content on the internet and did a truly outstanding job– for a while. Eventually, the web got too big and Yahoo Directory collapsed under it.
Enter: Apple. Proposing to categorize and organize all of the world’s apps. You can see the cracks forming. So what will Google do?
Mark my words, Google will onebox mobile app results. Hell, it might (should?) add an “Apps” vertical. If it did, it’d almost instant eclipse the App store in importance for most developers.
I know, I know. It’s a bold prediction. Hear me out.
Google has been working on search innovation for a decade and they’re getting damn good at ferreting out intent from your search queries. In recent years, they’ve done what’s called oneboxing. If they can confidently guess what information you want (or at least what search vertical you’re interested in), they tack it onto the top of the search results. You’ve seen it thousands of time now. Search for “weather seattle”, a stock ticker symbol like AAPL, or append the word “video” to any search. Despite their brutal campaign against the folks in the world of SEO, Google is still better at search than anybody.
You’re probably as disgusted with App Store search as I am– it’s fine for brand searches (like “Angry Birds”) but painfully bad for category searches. The App Store is using ridiculous algorithms, forcing developers to stuff keywords into titles and giving us the equivalent of meta-keywords to help our cause. Hell, the App Store even uses the developer’s company name as a meaningful factor (congratulations, Currency Converter, Inc., your shot at ranking for that search term just went up!).
What it should do (which would require a Google-sized index of the web) is the same thing that Google does– rank based on number of links (to the app store page), the quality of those links, and the anchor text used for those links. It could also layer in social data, ratings, active usage data, and other things that only Apple has at their fingertips. But they probably won’t– Apple is not a search company.
But Google is. They could be a better way to find/buy apps almost overnight. And it’d be a huge boon to app developers for all platforms.
The big problem here, of course, is that Google will be helping Apple sell more apps (at least when people are viewing onebox results on an iPhone). And Apple will still be hauling in their rapacious 30% (a fair fee if Apple is bringing the customer to the table– less so if all they are doing is handling the purchase/update process). So even if Google includes a paid spot or two in their onebox, is there enough revenue room for Google make a buck? With game developers paying $3-5 per install on the marketing front, I think so. Outside of games, it’s a little less clear.
So what do you think. Will Google do this? If they do, would it be the right move? If Apple manages to do something productive with their Chomp acquisition, will it matter?
BY BOB HOLT
With the expected unveiling of the iPad 3 next week, the status of the iPhone 5 has been pushed to the back burner for a time. But latest reports say the smartphone’s release will follow the patterns of its previous iPhones’ launch cycles.
T3 reports that Japanese Apple blog Macotakara said, “According to a reliable Asian source, the next iPhone will be released in September or October.”
The launch of the iPhone 4S in October 2011 was the first time Apple varied from releasing its devices in the summer, and users waited 15 months for a new phone instead of the company’s standard 12.
As far as its specs, the iPhone 4S contains a dual-core A5 chip, but reports are saying the next generation model will have an A6, a quad-core processor. And according to cmvlive.com, the new phone is expected to offer Near Field Communication technology, whose most useful function lets users pay for items and services just by tapping the phone on a phone reader.
The new phone is also said to feature a 4-inch display, up from the current 3.5 inch retina. The Samsung Galaxy S2 and the HTC Sensation XE both have displays of more than 4 inches.
According to Northern Voices Online, a Morgan Stanley report indicated that the iPhone 5 will be slimmer. Also, the device will most likely be 4G LTE compatible.
And the International Business Times reports that Apple plans to replace the traditional dock connector with a smaller micro dock. The regular dock connector handles transferring of movies, music, backups and other media. The change to the smaller dock is expected to make room for extra components.
According to iphone5now.com, reports say the name of the new device may not even be iPhone 5, based on the previous version’s name change from iPhone 4 to 4S. The site said a name change would indicate major changes coming for the device.
Unlike the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 where Apple Inc. moved a little later than some had anticipated with the iPhone 4S announced and launched in October (versus expectations of a month earlier), the iPad 3 release is set to come earlier. With an event set to be held on March 7, this will raise investor visibility for second quarter 2012 iPad shipments.
Last year, Apple launched the iPad 2 nine days after its March 2 announcement in the United States and 23 days internationally. If the company chooses similar timing for the iPad 3, initial sales will fall into its second quarter (ending March 31), notes Mike Abramsky, analyst at RBC Capital Markets.
He believes that Apple may simultaneously lower the price of the iPad 2 by $100 when the new model is released, which is a strategy the company has adopted with the iPhone.
â€œLower iPad2 pricing may expand Appleâ€™s addressable market and head off lower priced competitors,â€� the analyst told clients.
RBCâ€™s survey of 1,100 people between Nov. 30 and Dec. 16 showed that 20% of non-iPad buyers are likely to purchase a cheaper iPad 2 starting at $399.
Mr. Abramsky also noted that the iPad 3 will likely offer a glimpse of possible features and specifications for the iPhone 5, which is expected in the second half of calendar 2012. Like the iPad 3, the analyst suggested the iPhone 5 may include a quad-core A6 processor and LTE.
â€œDespite the success of the iPhone 4S, we believe these features along with a possible larger screen may drive a significant iPhone 5 upgrade cycle,â€� he said.
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Many people have given interest to the mobile operating system of Apple since iOS 5 was launched at the 2011 Worldwide Developer’s Conference. In terms of hardware, iPhone 4S came out with a variety of changes and upgrades, so Apple believes the iPhone 4S was successful because of software improvements in the iOS 5.
However, even if iOS 5 gave way to a platform that is rich in features for users of Apple gadgets, it is also to a certain extent responsible for problems in battery life of the iPhone 4S. Thus, Cupertino developers are releasing new models hoping that they can make the software much more energy-efficient.
It seems that they are planning to launch iOS 5.1 as a solution to the battery life problems. News Sizzle said that the most recent iOS from Apple might be unveiled on March 9 as suggested by iPhone carriers in Japan and Europe.
According to News Sizzle, possibly on purpose, the rumored release date of the iPad 3 will correspond with that of the iOS 5.1. The iPad 3 is anticipated to have 4G LTE, which uses up a lot of battery power, and a lot of improvements in terms of its display. So, if the iOS 5.1 indeed solves the battery life problems of the iPhone 4S, it will allow the iPad 3 to reduce energy consumption.
It is still not known if Apple will go on with improving the iOS 5 before the release date of the iPhone 5, or if iOS 6 will be launched on June.
It was in the year 2007 when Apple released the latest iOS 1. If Apple chooses to use iOS 5.2 in the iPhone 5, then the tradition of releasing the latest mobile operating system during the Worldwide Developer’s Conference would be broken. However, the iOS 6 could still be possible considering the speculations that the Siri and NFC would be featured in the iPhone 5.
At any rate, an iOS 5.1 that answers iPhone 4S’ battery life problems of would be greatly appreciated by the users.
Updated from 11:16 a.m. EST to provide analyst comments regarding Nokia’s product launch in the ninth and 10th paragraphs.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — The Mobile World Congress event, which kicked off in Barcelona this week, is a chance for consumer electronic companies to show off their latest and greatest tablets and smartphones.
As rivals scramble to compete with Apple’s(AAPL) increasingly popular iPhone, companies like Samsung, HTC, and Nokia(NOK) are showing off their newest gadgets.
One key trend at MWC; companies trying to pack more features into their offerings without significantly raising prices amidst a weak global economy. There is, however, innovation on show at this year’s event, as evidenced by Nokia’s attempt to revolutionize smartphone camera technology and Samsung’s buzzed-about “projector phone.”
Here are five of the most exciting products from the 2012 Mobile World Congress:
Not that long ago I was sat at the London iPhone 4S announcement writing a live blog as several of the company’s big wigs went through the phone that wasn’t the iPhone 5 but that did become a truly monumental success for the company.
It was Tim Cook’s first major consumer announcement and yet the whole thing felt muted. Cook himself was typically confident and forthright, and yet he was happy to let his team do the majority of the talking.
A few days later and we found out the sad news of Steve Jobs, and the conference was thrown into stark relief.
The questions about the lack of impact without Jobs on stage fell away. Now we knew that Jobs wouldn’t only not be at the announcements of the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5, but that wouldn’t be around to see the launch of his beloved devices.
iPad 3 launch
Less than six months on and we are only days away from the launch event for what is almost certainly the iPad 3 and all eyes will be on Cook as he kick starts the new post-Jobs era for Apple.
Perhaps that’s overstating it a little. Apple has been beavering away on the iPad 3 for a long time, and yet this is one of the two key launches on Apple fans’ calendars, with the belated iPhone 5 announcement likely to be later this year.
And it is up to Cook and his team to show that Apple is just as confident that it can flourish in the post-Jobs era as Jobs was confident that Apple would flourish in the post-PC era.
One more thing…
That doesn’t mean that Cook needs to take to the stage in a black turtleneck, grandstanding, charming the crowd and closing with “one more thing”.
It doesn’t even mean that Cook needs to take the bulk of the time on stage; it would be entirely understandable that Apple does not want to fill the vacuum of Jobs with another single figure. Instead it will try to share the load across its luminaries: Ive, Cook, Schiller, Forstall et al.
But what it will need to do is prove that the iPhone 4S announcement was not the new Apple; that the figure-heavy presentation and sombre mood was for the perfectly acceptable reason of Jobs’ illness.
Make no mistake, the iPad 3 launch is a massive deal for Apple.
Few would doubt that Apple will continue to go from strength to strength assuming it continues with the perfectionism that marked Jobs’ time at Apple.
But this conference is the time for Apple to show that it can still wow the world, leave the fanboys giddy with glee and convert the cynics with the familiar spellbinding mix of showmanship and gorgeous gadgets.
Apple iPhone 5 is making headlines long before it is launched. Rumors of all kinds are doing the rounds. People are so much fascinated by the Apple smart phone that they are always awaiting the launch of new versions. There is another angle to it. Apple competitors especially Samsung, HTC and Motorola are launching so much improved and better smart phones that Apple fans also expect the Cupertino based tech giant to fast track the launch of the next generation iPhone.
Samsung and HTC have taken the smart phone war to an altogether new level. They are launching smart phones with huge screens, great resolution and processors and different memory options. Apple on the other hand has stuck to the idea of launching one iPhone variant every year.
This is the reason that Apple fans want the next generation iPhone very early. The iPhone brand may be the world leader in popularity and in sales counts. But it is yet to have many necessary features that its competitors have. Get through the rest of the article to see a pick of features that we all crave to see on the next major iPhone upgrade.
Apple fans are expecting much more for their next Apple phone. Besides bigger screen they want the Cupertino based tech giant to add a microHDMI port on its iPhone. Apple introduced full 1080p video output on iPhone 4S. However, users need to spend $39 to buy Apple’s Digital AV to send HD video to a TV monitor. If iPhones come with microHDMI out, one will only have to buy a $5 cable to connect the device with a TV. But Apple currently has a nice AirPlay Mirroring feature for streaming contents. But it should be far great if the device has HDMI out as well.
A latest Morgan Stanley report has given some credible insight into the next generation iPhone. The report hinted that iPhone 5 will be slimmer when it arrives later this year and could include a quad-mode chip from Qualcomm that would allow for 3G and LTE functionality across all “network flavors.” Though the report suggested that Apple will remain impervious to a broader decline in consumer demand throughout the technology industry through the release of its third-generation iPad in the first half of 2012 and the launch of a thinner iPhone later this year, analyst Katy Huberty wrote in a note to investors detailing takeaways from a recent trip to Asia.
One more improvement that Apple fans want to see in the next generation iPhone is NFC. Near Field Communication (NFC) is really making rounds today. Most of key Android tablets come with the NFC technology. It is actually a kind of bar-code replacement feature that helps users make payments at check-outs easily. Data transfer between NFC-enabled devices is also highly efficient.
But the one thing that Apple fans are seeking to see in their new iPhone 5 is 4G compatibility. Most of the top Android smart phones come with 4G compatibility and Apple is expected to follow the suit in this case. Right now, almost all high-end Android phones come with 4G LTE compatibility. But Apple, though named its recent iPhone versions like ‘4’ and ‘4S,’ has not yet implemented 4G antenna inside its flagship smartphone. Most likely, iPhone 5 will be a 4G LTE gadget. Fortunately, Apple has iPhone deals with both Verizon and ATT, the leading 4G LTE service providers in the country.
Confusion and Skepticism May Impede 4G Adoption
With so many potential 4G customers expressing concerns about cost and performance providers may be in for some disappointment.
What if they built a network and nobody (or one out of 20 people) came?
The Wall Street Journal made an interesting find in the response to a question posed by Deutsche Bank analyst Brett Feldman to Fran Shammo, Verizon’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, at Deutsche Bank Media and Telecommunications Conference. The response is from a transcript from Thomson Reuters StreetEvents:
Yes. Well, the 4G network has a ton of capacity. Obviously, we only have 5% of our customers on it right now. So it’s a promotion to get people to move over to that 4G network. Like you said, Brett, it is very critical for us and we’re playing a very delicate balancing act here that I don’t want to spend any more money on my 3G network.
So we built the 3G network out to handle the iPhone launch, which we did very successfully, but now we really do want to keep that investment to a very, very minimum. Because based on my projections for every dollar I invest in that now, I will never get that dollar in return. So it’s very important for us to move over.
And as far as maintaining these promotional periods, this promotion is only running for I think two months and then we’ll come off of that promotion. There will be more 4G LTE phones out there, so you’re going to see us — we will do promotions here and there, but it’s more critical for us from a cost benefit perspective, spectrum utilization perspective, to move more people to 4G from 3G.
As the third paragraph makes clear, the question that Shammo was answering related to the length of time the company would offer special promotions to get people to switch from 3G to 4G LTE. His stated desire to end those promotions begs the bigger question: Why only 5 percent in a time of heavy promotion and artificially low prices?
It’s too early — far too early — to draw conclusions. The network only has been operational for about a year, and other carriers aren’t changing the plans that previously were made. Gotta Be Mobile calls Verizon’s carriage level “incredibly small,” but thinks Verizon it will do well in the long run:
Combine affordable new phones and cheaper prices on the older 4G LTE phones with the lack of new 3G smartphones and the possibility for a 4G LTE iPhone 5 this fall and Verizon is in a good position.
It is possible to see potential problems down the road. Suppose the carriers, in an era in which it was impossible to go to a news website without hearing about the explosion of iPads, iPhones, Android devices, oversold themselves on the need for 4G? There is an axiom among carriers that customers always fill out the spectrum that is available to them. Cliches are great — and often hold a grain of truth — but they don’t replace solid market intelligence. It just may be that enough people are satisfied with 3G that the basic assumptions underlying the move to LTE aren’t as solid as it is thought.
In any case, it’s overreacting to think that LTE won’t succeed, especially when voice is added to the mix. That said, it isn’t too early to think that Verizon’s results may be a canary in the coal mine.
The company’s planned move to LTE could make it a lot easier for Apple’s next
iPhone to to run on its network, although Clearwire CEO Eric Prusch was silent on whether that would be the case.
BARCELONA, Spain–Apple’s iPhone has been making the rounds at all the carriers. So why not Clearwire?
Clearwire’s planned move to LTE means Apple wouldn’t have any difficulties in building an iPhone that is compatible with its network, according to Clearwire CEO Eric Prusch. In fact, it would benefit Apple to have an iPhone that ran on its kind of network technology, he said.
Such a notion would have been unthinkable even a few months ago, when Clearwire was stuck on its WiMax network and struggling financially. But after some financing and a cash infusion from Sprint Nextel–simultaneously its largest customer and shareholder–the company is back on track. And with Sprint getting the iPhone in October, the door opens for the next version to run on Clearwire’s network, assuming it is compatible with LTE.
A spokeswoman from Sprint declined to comment. Apple wasn’t available for comment.
Clearwire plans on moving to a network standard called TD-LTE, which is slightly different than the FD-LTE variant that ATT, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint are moving toward. But Clearwire is working with Sprint to ensure that the two different versions of LTE would work together, and Prusch said that there already exists a chip that can straddle both networks.
Qualcomm, in fact, has supported both modes in its chips. A Qualcomm executive told CNET that there were three TD-LTE deployments as of January, and 20 ongoing trials.
Clearwire already supplies Sprint with its current 4G service. Many of Sprint’s marquee devices, including the Evo 4G, ride on both its own 3G network and Clearwire’s 4G WiMax network. It wouldn’t be a huge stretch for Apple to sell an iPhone that could run on both Sprint’s 3G network and Clearwire’s 4G network. Sprint is building its own LTE network, but has said it would look to Clearwire to unload some heavy data capacity, particularly in the busiest areas.
Prusch declined to say whether an iPhone would end up on its network.
But he did note some of the advantages that come with having a device that runs on TD-LTE. There are a number of major international carriers committed to the standard, including China Mobile, India’s Bharti, and Japan’s Softbank, which currently offers the 3G version of the iPhone. In fact, the coalition of major carriers planning to move to TD-LTE outstrips that of FD-LTE. Prusch said 2 billion subscribers will be on TD-LTE by 2014.
For now, Clearwire’s main priority is the planned move to LTE. The company plans to begin its deployment by the end of March, and be at 5,000 cellular sites by the middle of the year. It needs to perform software upgrades and minor equipment changes, allowing for a much speedier roll out than before. Prusch said the biggest cities with the most need for additional spectrum would get LTE early, which hints at crowded cities such as New York and San Francisco getting first dibs.
While Clearwire maintains a streamlined retail presence–selling its service online and through some direct marketing to more tech-savvy customers–its real revenue engine comes from its wholesale model. Clearwire maintains an anchor tenant in Sprint, which represents the bulk of its business, and will continue to do so.
But the company is looking beyond Sprint and toward other wholesale customers. Prusch said the company has signed up customers to its WiMax service, but that LTE brings opens up the possibility for a lot of new customers looking to move to that 4G technology.
Clearwire is sitting pretty after the only other wholesale alternative, LightSquared, was essentially killed off when the Federal Communications Commission revoked its waiver, banning it from building its planned 4G LTE network. The company’s CEO resigned yesterday as the company looks for new leadership. Prusch dismissed the notion that Clearwire benefited from LightSquared’s demise, noting that there has been a steady flow of conversations with potential customers both before and after LightSquared encountered its problems.
Likewise, he didn’t believe Sprint’s plans to work with LightSquared had an impact on its relationship with Clearwire.
“We’ve had confidence in their dependence on us, and us on them,” Prusch said.
Another area for potential customers are the rival carriers. The notion of ATT and Verizon Wireless partnering with Clearwire would be surprising, but Prusch said the company could provide some relief from those in need of spectrum.
“There are a lot of carriers that need a lot of spectrum,” he said.
The hottest phones and tablets of Mobile World Congress 2012 (photos)
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — If you’re looking for cans on the high-end, you can always count on Sennheiser. Their latest headphones, though, are particular nice. Don’t expect just warmed over tech: their new MM 450-X and 55-X Bluetooth headphones can pipe in some of the clearest tunes you’ll hear without a wire.
The key to the new MMs great Bluetooth sound quality is Apt-X tech, which allows Bluetooth headphones to have the full fidelity of digital music with no degradation, the same as if it was being piped to you through copper. The resulting music sounds great, but the rub is it doesn’t work with everything. Macs sold in the last year should support the technology, as well as some Android devices like the Galaxy Tab, but if you want to enjoy the full benefits of the tech, iPhones and iPads won’t work (although Sennheiser expected that the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 would probably be compatible).
It’s a shame the MM 550-X and 450-X don’t work on an iPhone, because they feel great on the head. The 550-X are a beefier set of cans, fully covering the ears and filtering out 90% of ambient sound through Sennheiser’s NoiseGard 2.0 technology. In addition, if you’re listening to tunes and someone speaks to you, you can hear what the person is saying with just the push of a button thanks to the 550-X’s great TalkThrough functionality, which pulls outside noise into the headphones through the mic. And if you like to feel your music in your colon, there’s some great BassBoost technology. The MM 550-X headphones have just gone on sale, and retail for $499.95.
On the slightly lower end, there’s the MM 450-X. These headphones are sportier and smaller, but otherwise have the great sound and features of the 550-Xs. The only thing it doesn’t have is NoiseGard. They cost $449.95.
Both headphones should last about 20 hours on a charge without NoiseGard on, and they feel and sound great. They also allow you to make and receive calls. Even better, if your handset doesn’t support Apt-X, or you just don’t like the way Bluetooth drains your phone’s battery, both headsets allow you to connect a 3.5mm cord to listen to your tunes and answer calls in full analog glory.
We were impressed at first blush by Sennheiser’s latest offerings, and we plan on review these in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
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