Month: August 2013

Xolo teases launch of its upcoming ‘slim’ smartphone

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Xolo has posted images to its Facebook page feed that strongly suggest that company will soon officially reveal its next smartphone.

The teaser images suggest that Xolo’s upcoming smartphone will have a sleek design and it is accompanied by “Ready to switch to Slim?” and “Flaunt the power of Slim Coming Soon” taglines. Xolo says “The wait will soon be over…”, so one expect to see an announcement soon. The images do not reveal much about the smartphone except that the rear camera will protrude alongside an LED flash and the bottom of the rear panel will feature a speaker grill.

Fonearena speculates that Xolo might launch Q1000S which reportedly is just 6.8mm thick. The site also notes some rumoured specifications of the Xolo Q1000S which may include a 1.5GHz quad-core processor. It is likely to pack a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, much like the Micromax’s Canvas 4, the report says.

Xolo recently launched a new budget smartphone, the Xolo A500S, at a price of Rs. 6,999.

The Xolo A500S features a 4-inch WVGA display that has a resolution of 480×800 pixels and pixel density of 233 pixels-per-inch (PPI). The device is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 512MB of RAM and a Mali-400 MP GPU alongside 4GB internal storage. It includes a 5-megapixel rear camera accompanied by an LED flash and a VGA front facing camera. The rear camera can record videos up to 720p resolution. The Xolo A500S runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire within 12 months

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who took over the helm of the world’s largest software company from founder Bill Gates, will retire within the next 12 months. Microsoft Corp. did not name a successor. The company said it is forming a search committee, which will include Gates, and Ballmer will stay on until a replacement is found.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said in a statement released by the Redmond, Washington, company.

Microsoft shares shot up 8 percent in morning trading following the news. It’s been less than two months since Microsoft announced a sweeping reorganization of its business in an attempt to reignite competition with faster-moving rivals such as Apple and Google.

Response to the newest version of Microsoft’s flagship Windows operating system has been lukewarm. And Microsoft, along with other companies that thrived in the era of personal computers, are scrambling to transform their businesses as people come to rely more and more on smartphones and tablets.

In his statement, Ballmer noted that the company is moving in a new direction and needs a CEO that will be there for the longer term.

Microsoft, he added, “has all its best days ahead.”

Ballmer, 57, met Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 1973 while they were living down a dormitory hall from each other at Harvard University. He joined Microsoft in 1980 to bring some business discipline and salesmanship to a company that had just landed a contract to supply an operating system for a personal computer that IBM would release in 1981. Ballmer, a zealous executive prone to arm-waving and hollering, did the job so well that he would become Gates’ sounding board and succeed him as CEO in 2000. He has worked at Microsoft for 33 years, matching the tenure of Gates, who left the company in 2008.

“It’s a tad surprising, but every other business head has been rotated out,” said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis. “They swapped out all their segment heads over the past few years. The only one they haven’t changed is the CEO.”

Though investors cheered the news on Friday, Gillis cautioned that it could be a “tough 12 months” for the company.

The obvious successor — former Windows head Steven Sinofsky — got booted by Ballmer, he said.

Sinofsky left the company shortly after the launch of Windows 8 last year.

Windows Phone 8 GDR3 update being internally tested, will bring notification centre: Report

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While Microsoft is rumoured to be testing various versions of Windows Phone 8.1 internally for a while now, there’s also buzz that the company is working on a less elaborate GDR3 update. A new report by Nokia Power User claims that Microsoft is testing the GDR3 software update for Windows Phone 8 at Nokia India. The rumoured update is also expected to include the Notification centre, which was expected to be a part of Windows 8.1, notes the report.

The report also suggests that another feature dubbed as Appetite would also be included in the update. However, no details related to Appetite have been revealed in the report.

It is believed that the GDR3 update for Windows Phone 8 will enable support for quad-core processors and full-HD displays on the Windows Phone platform. The Windows Phone GDR3 update is expected to bring an additional column of Live Tiles on the Start screen, rotation lock, minor UI tweaks and a new Driving Mode option. It is not clear if the company will be pushing out the GDR3 update prior to the Windows Phone 8.1 release.

Earlier, a report by Windows Phone Central had cited an app developer who spotted an unrevealed Windows Phone OS version on his server logs. The developer claimed that his app Love Wallpaper HD was installed on phones running various Windows Phones OS versions 8.10.12073.0, 8.10.12086.0, 8.10.12100.0 and 8.10.12102.0. The highest version of Windows Phone that is reportedly available right now is 8.0.10328.78 and a higher version being spotted hinted that Microsoft could be testing the all new Windows Phone 8.1 internally.

However, not much can be said about the features and the time frame of the update as Microsoft has not confirmed anything till now.

Nokia is also rumoured to be working on a phablet code-named as ‘Bandit’ which is expected to include a full-HD (1080p) display and is likely to be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor. However, the device may not be unveiled before Microsoft rolls out the GDR3 update to Windows Phone devices.

HTC could be an acquisition target for Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE: Analyst

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It looks like ailing smartphone giant HTC is being eyed by a number of Chinese device makers including Huawei, Lenovo, and ZTE. Bloomberg cites analyst Sanford C. Bernstein & Co as saying that the three Chinese vendors are looking at taking over HTC with an intent to leverage the $4.2 billion Taiwanese giant’s technological know-how and brand prowess in the mobile devices segment.

“They continue to produce the best phones of the industry,” said Pierre Ferragu, an analyst at Bernstein in London. “They have good brand recognition. From that perspective, they could be an acquisition target for a company with more scale but less product development expertise and weak brand positioning.”

While HTC’s critically acclaimed flagship device, the HTC One showcased company’s skill at making premium hardware, it faced stiff competition from the likes of Apple, Samsung and other Android OEMs. The launch of the device got delayed due to component shortages affecting the company’s net profit. The company’s second-quarter net profit came in at just T$1.25 billion, far below forecasts.

Recently, HTC said it expected revenue to fall as much as 30 percent in the third-quarter of the year compared to the previous three months, citing fierce competition in the mid -to high-end smartphone markets. The company also indicated a weak outlook for profit margins. Rocked by internal feuding and executive exits, HTC is positioned at the high-end of a smartphone market that is close to saturation. Thus, the company has seen its market share slump to below 5 percent from around 25 percent five years ago and its stock price is at an 8-year low.

While Lenovo is a new entrant in the mobile devices segment, it’s riding on the success of its PC business to establish itself in the market, and a big acquisition would certainly help it in consolidating its position. The company recently reported good numbers back on a strong showing in the mobile space. Huawei and ZTE have the scale and produce millions of white labelled devices but their brands are not as well recognised as that of HTC’s.

However, Bloomberg suggests that Chairwoman Cher Wang and her family, who hold a stake in HTC, may stand in the way of a takeover as long as the company has adequate cash.

Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 A240 with 5.7-inch HD display, stylus listed online

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Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 is now official, after being spotted in various leaks and official teaser posts earlier this week. Flipkart has listed the device carrying a coming soon tag, and there is no word yet on availability or pricing of the device. The listing was first spotted by Fonearena.

Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 A240 features a 5.7-inch HD display with a resolution of 720×1280 pixels. The device is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. It packs in a 12-megapixel rear camera accompanied by dual LED flash and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The device includes 12GB of internal storage, as per Flipkart’s listing. The Canvas Doodle 2 runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. There is a 2600mAh battery that can give up to 8 hours of talk time, as per the listing. It is a dual-SIM device (GSM+GSM). Connectivity options include EDGE, GPRS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G. Pre-loaded apps include M! Doodle, M! Live, M! Security, M! Zone, Hike, Spuul, Foneclay and Facebook.

The listing also confirms that the device comes with a stylus, like the original Micromax Canvas Doodle A111. The phablet also includes features like Smart Pause, Skitch and Blow or Shake to Unlock, which were recently seen on company’s flagship smartphone, the Micromax Canvas 4.

Recently, Micromax teased its upcoming Canvas Doodle 2 smartphone on Facebook. A post from Micromax’s official Facebook page displayed an illustration with tidbit of the promotional copy for the Canvas Doodle 2: “Draw, Depict or Doodle and let your thoughts come to life on a bigger Canvas. Canvas Doodle 2 – Coming Soon!”

First 4 million units of Samsung Galaxy Note III to be powered by Snapdragon 800 CPU?

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A published report out of Korea says that Samsung has finally come to a decision about which processor will be driving the Samsung Galaxy Note III. According to those familiar with the situation, Samsung is still having problems with its home grown Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor which leaves the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 to drive the next iteration of Samsung’s phablet.

The report says that the first 4 million units of the Galaxy Note III will have the Qualcomm processor under the hood while 20% to 30% of future production of the device will contain the Samsung Exynos 5420 octa-core processor. Just last week, a report out of Korea listed two versions of the Samsung Galaxy Note III. One model offering 3G connectivity was powered by the Samsung Exynos 5420 octa-core CPU, while the model featuring 4G LTE connectivity had the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 under the hood.

U.S. consumers should prepare for their version of the Samsung Galaxy Note III to come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. Even when Korea based Samsung starts shipping out the 20% to 30% of its phablet containing the Samsung Exynos 5420 octa-core processor, chances are that those units will be making their way to regions outside the U.S.

The Samsung Galaxy note 3 is scheduled to be introduced on September 4th in Berlin, along with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. A couple of days later, IFA 2013 will begin.

BlackBerry Messenger user guide for Android and iOS posted accidentally

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The rumors that have been tossed around have put the release of Blackberry Messenger for Android and iOS sometime in the next month. Blackberry said from the start that the app would be released during the summer; and technically, the summer doesn’t end until September 22nd, exactly one month from today.

But, a bit of a snafu today has some wondering if the app might launch a bit earlier. This morning, the user guides for the Android and iOS versions of BlackBerry Messenger went live on the BlackBerry website, but they have since been taken back down again. There wasn’t much of interest in the user guides though. The guides didn’t have any screenshots, and mostly served to explain things like BBM IDs or BBM PINs to those who haven’t used the service before.

BlackBerry Messenger for Android was released into beta recently, but that doesn’t help with narrowing the release date at all. Still, with just one month to go, there isn’t much narrowing needed.