Microsoft says "We got nuthin!" buys Danger/Sidekick platform

Microsoft should really be scaring its shareholders and partners these days.  First it throws almost $50 Billion at Yahoo! for a portfolio that largely mirrors the functionality (or supposed fuctionality) of its MSN properties and an advertising division that has the same issues that it does.  That and everyone in the Tech world is wondering what value Yahoo could offer Microsoft?

Today it puts its Windows Mobile line in question by acquiring Danger.  Danger built the Sidekick device platform that is very popular with the consumer smartfphone public, but has faltered recently because of the superior Symbian and iPhone operating systems and the Sidekick’s tier 2 hardware made by Sharp and Motorola.  The Sideckick OS has very little in the way of multimedia to offer consumers.

One thing that sticks out like a really sore thumb is that the Sidekick platform has absolutley nothing to do with Windows Mobile.  It is built on Mobile Java and exists entirely outside the Windows ecosystem.  Does Microsoft plan on using Java and the basis for its consumer mobile platform?  Or will it kill just about everything that Danger has built and try to jimmy Windows Mobile-like OS on those popular Sidekicks?

Apple certainly stands to benefit from all of this shakeup and uncertainty in the market.

If I am HTC, Samsung, or any of Microsoft’s other WM6 partners who make consumer phones, I am on the phone with the Google Android people, stat.  (Oh wait HTC already is)

Seriously, we don’t get it.  Can anyone help us out?  Are they that desperate to battle the iPhone, Symbian and Android in the consumer space?

(Microsoft Stock Owners? Selllll! Winthorp, Sellllll!)

Apple Trademarks Games – iGame?

UPDATE: Woops, Apple is hiring game developers.

Maybe that third Touch OSX device that was spied wasn’t a 3G iPhone or a Tablet…maybe it was a gaming machine?  Apple, last week, filed a trademark in relation to:

“hand-held units for playing electronic games; hand-held units for playing video games; stand alone video game machines; electronic games other than those adapted for use with television receivers only; LCD game machines; electronic educational game machines; toys, namely battery-powered computer games”

Hints of an Apple gaming device have been around for awhile, but for Apple protect their name in relation to games means it is more a "when" rather than an "if".  Could when be February 26th?

Via Trademonk

Sony introduces 'iPhone killer' Xperia X1

You almost have to feel sorry for ol Sony.  They make some of the world’s best hardware, no doubt.  The TZ Vaio for instance, and now this new phone look extremely cool and have the specs that you wish Apple would throw into their products.   But their software is always a train wreck.  We’re not just talking about putting a rootkit on your computer – we’re talking about the design interfaces being a nightmare.  Now you can also add their Product Naming division to the mess.

Xperia – somewhere between "expire" and "XP-Diarrhea" is the name of their new phone, touted as an iPhone killer.  It has impressive specs…

  • 720×480 WVGA screen (nice!)
  • GPS
  • Very nice QWERTY keyboard slideout
  • 3G HSDPA – 5 Band high upload speed built for next gen networks
  • Windows Mobile 6…

CRASH!  Yeah Sony is going away from market-leading  Symbian OS and jumping on the Windows Mobile train for this puppy.  The same Windows Mobile platform that is hemorrhaging market share to the iPhone.  Ouch.  Here’s some advice, install Opera Mini and make it the default browser.

We aren’t sure that ‘iPhone Killer’ is going to be added to the final list of nicknames of this device.

Via Electronista

$100 price drop on iPhones and iPods coming in the next two months

We just got a tip that Apple is planning on dropping the prices again on the iPhone and iPod Touch line within the next month or two – perhaps at the late February event, perhaps as late as mid-April.  Our tipster says that Apple will drop the prices by $100. 

Also, the 8Gb iPod Touch will be dropped from the lineup according to the source.  It might also make sense that the 8Gb iPhone would get phased out as well, but it wasn’t mentioned in the tip.  Inventories will likely be a big factor in the timing so we’re keeping an eye out for shortages. 

The price drops are likely to make some price spacing for the newer 3G iPhones that are expected to be released later this year – perhaps with the tablets.

The price cuts will also likely spur on iPhone sales which have either been good or bad depending on the week and the source.  iPod sales have been brisk but Apple’s forcasts have been cautious.

Prices on memory have been plummeting significantly since the current pricing model was revealed to mixed reactions in September – six months ago.  Also, admittedly inferior devices like the 32GB Creative Zen have been dropping in price ($299).  While not really comparable to the iPod or iPhone, it does illustrate the  falling prices of flash storage – the only differentiator between iPod and iPhone models.

For what it is worth, Forbes is also advising its readers to hold off on buying iPhones as they think the 3G model is right around the corner.  May?

No specifics were given but the iPod Nano line might also be the beneficiary of decreased memory pricing and might see capacities double in size.

The new prices are expected to be:

8Gb iPod Touch  $199    8Gb iPhone – $299
16Gb iPod Touch $299   16Gb iPhone – $399
32Gb iPod Touch $399


3G iPhone codenamed N82? Tablet?

Erica Sadun has been doing some digging around and found an extra platform in the iPod/iPhone lineup.  Along with the current iPod Touch (N45), iPhone (M68) and a "simulator"- which means the SDK will likely contain a simulator), she found reference a currently unknown "N82".   Could this be the new 3G iPhone set to be released later this year?  Or perhaps this could be a reference to a new Apple Tablet or Mac Touch?  Or maybe Apple putting out a Touch OS release (no) for Nokia’s N82 Hardware?

Perhaps we’ll know on the 26th?

(Thank you Jesus for the image)

AT&T rolling out much more 3G goodness. Guess which device stands to benefit?

Yeah the rest of the world is rolling their collective eyes because they’ve had 3G for like 35 years or something… but AT&T has just announced a major expansion of their 3G network in the US.  Their announcement  means AT&T will roll out an additional 1,500 cell sites in the U.S. this year adding 80 more cities – which will bring the total to 350 markets in the US – and all of the top 100 cities.   Just about ubiquitous enough for Apple to do some kind of 3G deal with AT&T, not just in iPhone, but also in iPod, and Mac laptops as well. 

We are still sticking to our Mayish prediction of iPhone3G rollout – about a year after the the original announcement.  Also, this is about the timewhen Japan, who’s networks aren’t compatible with EDGE, and the rest of Asia should start seeing the iPhone.  Also expect the EDGE iPhones to take two price cuts of $100 each before then.  One to eliminate the 8Gb iPhone in 1-2 months.  Another for when the 3G model comes out to clear the EDGE iPhone inventory.  Apple isn’t doing $200 price drops anymore.

As far as we know Apple is also sticking with their exclusivity agreement with AT&T and not going anywhere else.

The talking heads at AT&T have this to say about catching the US up to Europe and Asia’s networks (take it for what it is worth):

"Fast wireless broadband is the foundation for a whole range of new and emerging applications that our customers are adopting, including everything from social networking to sending live video and large business files," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO for AT&T’s wireless unit. "With these aggressive initiatives, we’re expanding the scope and the speed of our 3G capabilities, connecting people with their world and enabling more customers to do more with their wireless devices, wherever they may be.

"We’re also planning for the future by establishing a clear path to a 4G network that will meet the needs of our customers for years to come," said de la Vega.

The deployment of HSUPA this year is the next step in the evolution of AT&T’s 3G network, with further enhancements and speed boosts expected in the near future. This year’s HSUPA deployment will complete the transition of the AT&T 3G network to High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) standards, marking the only full transition by any wireless provider in the United States to this latest generation of wireless broadband capabilities.

As customer needs continue to evolve and grow in the future, AT&T’s global leadership in deployment of GSM technologies positions the company to continuously evolve its network to meet those needs. The evolution towards HSPA+ and LTE technologies will enable the company to continue to deliver higher speeds and capacity in the years to come.

"From the beginning, our wireless network has been designed with the future in mind," said de la Vega. "The capabilities of 3G standards will continue to expand over the next several years, enabling us to stay well ahead of our customers’ broadband needs. And looking even further into the future, our existing technologies provide the ideal platform for a smooth transition to next-generation platforms."

AT&T’s GSM technology also offers customers the largest international roaming footprint. AT&T devices work in 196 countries and regions — accounting for more than 90 percent of the planet. All GSM customers in those countries can roam on the AT&T network in the United States as well.


Battling iPhone's GSM Buzz 3: Behringer MS40 Digital

Edit: This is the third in a series of four articles on Battling iPhone’s GSM Buzz. A solution to this issue is described in the fourth installment.

Here is what I hope will be the final installment of my Battling iPhone’s GSM Buzz series. It has become somewhat of an abiding obsession to outfit my G5 workstation with speakers that don’t go rat-a-tat-tat every time my iPhone wants to talk to a cell tower. You readers have been very helpful with your suggestions, and I hope you’ve gotten some use out of my commentary (even if it’s only Schadenfreude or commiseration).

Martin started me off on a new angle, and I commenced a search for a pair of computer speakers that could make use of my G5’s optical audio out. I found them for a slight premium over my original budget of $100 in the Behringer MS40 Digital Monitor Speakers. American Musical Supply have them for $129 through Amazon. I also picked up an inexpensive digital optical cable from them, since they had free shipping on orders of $50 or more.

I have to say I was impressed with the service of AMS. I contacted Behringer directly about GSM buzz, and received no response. I repurposed my email to AMS and heard a reply within a day. They even responded to a follow-up. Here’s how it went:


I was wondering if the digital coaxial and/or digital optical
interface of the Behringer MS20 and MS40 multimedia speakers does anything to alleviate interference from GSM  mobile phones (GSM Buzz). I currently have a Mac tower and a docked iPhone in my studio, and the phone has caused significant interference with all analog speakers I’ve tried. See discussions here and here.

I did see the below instructions from the manufacturer, and wondered if a GSM mobile phone counted as a high-frequency source. I also have 802.11 wifi at home, and wonder if that would interfere.

IMPORTANT NOTES CONCERNING INSTALLATION: The sound quality may diminish within the range of powerful broadcasting stations and high-frequency sources…


Optical connections use light channeled through a fiberoptic cable and radio/cell phone transmissions should not affect it.  If you are experiencing gsm buzz you may want to check your cables and make sure they have sufficient shielding/insulation.  You may want to make sure the electrical outlets have proper grounding as well.

Well, this was the first I’d heard of checking the electrical outlets for proper grounding. As for the shielded cables, I could see this was leading to a recommendation that I drop another C-note on Monster-branded cables, and all I see on audiophile sites is hate for their price/quality quotient.

As for the Behringer MS40 digital monitors, I was willing to give optical a try. Especially if the risk was only $29.99 over my initial $100 budget (list, for what it’s worth, is $196.49). Sure, the MS20s (20 watt vs. 40 watt) were also on sale for $87.95, but I’m a sucker for the extra power. So I punched the purchase button on a Friday, and got the box the next Monday.

Speaking of which, I’ve been very impressed by how quickly Amazon (and now AMS) has delivered my packages to NYC (every time for free), and also how quickly my returns and refunds have been completed. Both the Klipsch and the M-Audio have been returned and refunded as I write this. Shipping and returning have all beat their time estimates by several days. It might be because I’m in a huge city, or it might be a case of underpromising and overdelivering. Either way, the lesson is that Super Saver shipping is quite sufficient, and all those inducements to pay extra for expedited shipping is usually a waste.

Okay, so this time the box was huge. My mailroom at work wrapped it with string so I could carry it to the train. I’m a big guy, and this tested my upper body strength. I switched carrying arms about a dozen times in the four blocks I had to walk. When I got home, I unpacked two substantial wooden cabinets, 11 inches tall, 9.625 inches deep, and almost 7 inches wide. That’s some serious desk real estate—I won’t deny it.

One thing I want to immediately point out about connecting optical cables to your mac is that the volume controls on the keyboard do not work unless you mute the sound entirely. The volume has to either be controlled through your apps or through the knob on the right speaker.  Maybe there’s some plugin I’m missing and one of you can set me straight.

I tested the speakers on a variety of music, and they’re awesome. All the detail I discovered in the M-Audio Studio Pro 3s was there and more. The high- and mid-frequency sounds are very much in the foreground, and while the bass is strong, it appears to reside more in the background. This is not to say there is a lack of bass here for a 2.0 system—quite to the contrary, it has the most of any I’ve tested—but I don’t want to get the inevitable hate mail about how subwoofers are the only way to get proper bass.

There is so much detail in the sound that I actually found myself nitpicking flaws in the music. On live classical tracks, you can hear the odd cough in the hall. On hip-hop tracks, you can hear where some samples don’t quite connect. I suppose that is because these are proper studio monitors, not consumer-grade "speakers" which may smooth-over some detail in service of a more balanced "mix."

You have to be careful with the volume on the MS40s. I never got any distortion, but they definitely "go to 11." The sound is so enveloping that you could actually endanger your hearing. I had some mild ringing in my ears after testing through my library for an hour or so. I don’t want chronic tinnitus, so I’ll be keeping the volume at a reasonable level from now on.

I heard no GSM buzz at all from the right speaker, which is the one that has the optical input. The left, however, didn’t take long. Here’s my next note to AMS: 


I’ve installed the MS 40 speakers, and the right speaker has no buzz. The RCA cable connecting the speaker appears to be cheaply made, and I am getting a little buzz on the left side. Can you recomme

nd a good shielded RCA cable in the 3′ range? What should I look for in a shielded RCA cable?


I would suggest the following…–i-MON-I1001M.html

Argh. The dreaded Monster cable recco. I went over to Radioshack, because I didn’t want to pay shipping, and I picked up a shielded RCA cable. I demurred on the Monster for $30, and got a house brand "Gold Series" stereo audio cable for about $17. And it was a waste of time and money. No change in the buzz on the left. I may try the Monster, but I really don’t hold out any hope. If it really could make a difference, I’m sure one of you will weigh in.

Maybe there’s something to AMS’s "Properly-Grounded Outlet" hypothesis. I’ve got a couple of upcoming projects around the house for the local electrician, and I’ll make sure he takes a look. In the meantime, that first attribute of the MS40s that I told you about—the weight—is what will keep them on my desk. They’re too heavy to return. The buzz is certainly a lot less than the Klipsch or Logitech speakers, and maybe a new wall outlet will make everything all right in the end. Plus, my arms are tired.

Election coverage…

OK – this has nothing to do with Apple – but it may be of some use to people outside the US.  We found over at Valleywag – they embedded MSNBC’s election coverage into the website.  Hey – MSNBC isn’t our favorite but embedding and allowing people all over the world to watch on the internet is OK by us.  It even works on Macs.

..or you could get a Slingbox

How much does 8gb of RAM cost in an iPod/iPhone?

8Gb iPod Touch $300      8Gb iPhone – $400
16Gb iPod Touch $400    16Gb iPhone – $500
32Gb iPod Touch $500

It should be $100 for 8GB right?   Memory controllers and packaging design cost money – but for the most part on Apple iPhones and iPod Touches, the only difference is the RAM size.  To go from a 8Gb iPhone to a 16Gb iPhone – $100.  From a 8Gb iPod to a 16Gb iPod.  $100.

But to go from a 16Gb iPod to a 32GB iPod, 16GB of RAM,  it is also only $100.  How can they afford that?  It seems like quite a deal – even at $500.

Just an observation…



32Gb iPod touch, 16Gb iPhone released today.

Apple today released the 32Gb iPod touch and the iPhone at 16Gb.  The sizes of the devices and the feature sets appear to be the same.  The prices for the higher capacities raise the bar to $499 for the top of the line for each model.

Check it

 Apple Press release:

Apple Adds New iPhone & iPod touch Models

CUPERTINO, California—February 5, 2008—Apple® today added new models of the iPhone™ and iPod® touch which have double the memory, doubling the amount of music, photos and videos that customers can carry with them wherever they go. The revolutionary iPhone now comes in a new 16GB model for $499, joining the 8GB model for $399. iPod touch now comes in a 32GB model for $499, joining the 16GB model for $399 and the 8GB model for $299.

“For some users, there’s never enough memory,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPod and iPhone Product Marketing. “Now people can enjoy even more of their music, photos and videos on the most revolutionary mobile phone and best Wi-Fi mobile device in the world.”

Both iPhone and iPod touch feature Apple’s revolutionary Multi-Touch™ user interface and pioneering software that allows users to find and enjoy all their music, videos, photos and more with just a touch of their finger. All iPhone and iPod touch models include the latest software enhancements announced last month including the ability to automatically find your location using the new Maps application*; create Web Clips for your favorite websites; customize your home screen and watch movies from the new iTunes® Movie Rentals. Both iPhone and iPod touch feature the world’s most advanced mobile web browser in the world with Safari™ and great mobile applications including Mail, Maps, Stocks, Weather and Notes.

Pricing & Availability The new 16GB iPhone is available immediately for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) through the Apple Store® (, Apple’s retail stores and AT&T retail and online stores. The 32GB iPod touch is available worldwide immediately for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) through the Apple Store (, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. iTunes Movie Rentals are available in the US only. iPhone and iPod touch require a Mac® with a USB 2.0 port, Mac OS® X 10.4.10 or later and iTunes 7.6; or a Windows PC with a USB 2.0 port and Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (Service Pack 2) or later and iTunes 7.6.

*Availability and precision of Maps positioning features will vary depending on actual location.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.