Showing posts from August, 2011

Strategy to gain market share with low cost tablets

After deciding to end support for the webOS software, HP dropped the price of its TouchPad tablet to $99 for the 16GB version and $149 for 32GB and within a short span of time, the existing stock was sold out. Now, the company plans to manufacture at least one more limited run of tablets to meet the overwhelming demand. When it was priced competitively to the iPad there were no takers, but at the new price, people are apparently prepared to invest, even without the promise of a future ecosystem. Efforts are on to release an Android port for the TouchPad, which would link it to the Android marketplace, and that would make the TouchPad an attractive buy. But the story of the TouchPad makes an interesting case study about how to fuel mass adoption for a new alternative platform. Discount the hardware, create a large user base in a short time span, and then automatically the developer community will step in to build applications. It's a viable market strategy for a company with long t…

BlackBerry's 2011 line up

BlackBerry is currently in the thick of a huge launch and re-vamp of its product line - a measure that the company must be banking on to stem the eroding mind share and market share in the smartphone segment. India is a important market for BlackBerry, and one where the company has lost less momentum compared to the US, so we can surely expect the latest releases to land early on our shores.

First of all, the new BB range debuts with BB 7 OS, the newest RIM mobile software. Preliminary reviews suggest that it represents in terms of user experience modest upgrade over OS 6, though not changing the way the operating system looks and behaves - that's probably a good thing. But BB 7 still lags behind iOS and Android in two critical areas - the browsing experience and the app ecosystem. This should not be of concern to loyal BlackBerry users, who will be welcomed to a new OS that runs way faster (especially on the top-end Bold), offers NFC, HD Video recording, better graphics support a…

The handy must-read guide to buying a Nokia phone (Symbian only)

Nokia has been off my radar for sometime now, but they have gotten my attention again with a slew of launches. While most of us are pre-occupied with the world of Android and iOS, the Finnish phone maker has quietly been adding budget handsets and mid-range smartphones to their vast range, offering great functionality and solid build quality as always. The dropped prices make the purchases a little sweeter.

So I spent some time poking around Nokia's new launches and here's the deal - the current Nokia range is bafflingly complex to figure out. Full of nomenclature like C5-03, X1-01 and stuff like that - you get the idea. There is a mix of touchscreen, 'touch and type' and QWERTY/physical keyboard across price points. So this is an attempt to present my own categorisation, based on my understanding of the prices and features on offer. It would be handy to read this if you are considering buying a Nokia phone right now.

This post will only deal with Symbian phones, which…

The real future of tablets

As far back as 2001, Bill Gates predicted that tablets would become the most  popular form of PC sold in America. It's not yet happening, but the tablet segment is poised to grow rapidly - research firm In-Sat estimates that 250 million tablets will ship in 2017, with the number reaching 100 million by end 2012. It's perhaps a little ironic that the pace of growth is driven by not by Microsoft but by arch rival Apple.

Today, it seems like everyone has a theory about the future of tablets. And these predictions have value as a measure of the decisions that companies will take, which will ultimately shape the future of the market. In that sense, the tech sector is similar to the fashion industry. It decides what will will be the 'next big thing' and we as consumers just follow it. Today we have a choice between Android and Apple, but that's just a fallout of the industry leaders' decision that mobile phones would become mini-computers and browsing devices rather …

The mobile landscape is changing rapidly, but not through innovation

The last month and especially the last week, have been eventful for the world of mobile devices. The hot topic today is Steve Job's resignation as CEO of Apple, but several other top business stories have been foreshadowing the shape of things to come.

The big shocker was HPs decision to move out from its Web OS (tablets and smartphones) business - just 16 short months after purchasing Palm and just a few months after launching the HP Touch Pad, Veer and Pre 2 smartphones. WebOS received a lot of positive feedback from the tech community - a rare occurrence in a world ruled and defined by iOS and Android. But sales did not inspire confidence : until HP discounted the TouchPad to prices starting at $99 two days later. HP did not wait or persevere but inexplicably decided to give up. And what's more, the company has also announced that it will move out of the personal PC business. Horace Dideu beautifully analyses the demise of HP in this post on Asymco.

Then there was the annou…

Budget Android Phones in 2011 : part 2

As the buzz about Android grows bigger, more and more people are keen to sample it. The good news is that Android handsets are getting cheaper and more accessible thanks to initiatives by HTC and Samsung. And there's more good news - you are getting more bang for your buck with the latest flavor of OS available on at least a few phones.

There are some disclaimers for budget Android phones. Today top-end smartphones today are becoming like powerful mini-computers with dual core (and soon, Quad Core) processors, huge RAM and large displays. You can think of budget smartphones as being like netbooks in comparison. They will be underpowered, the interface will be slow and gaming may be a less enjoyable experience. The display will not be the best. To the best of my knowledge, these phones will also not play Flash video due to lower processor speed and performance. You could get a workaround for YouTube videos, but you might have to forego other sites with flash content.

 If you are pr…

threebudget ultraportable notebooks - finally

(This post has been edited to include a new ultraportable entrant, the Dell Inspiron 13z)

Sometime ago, I was struggling to find a decent ultraportable at a reasonable budget, and now it seems that there are three available in the market. The heartening news is that they carry the latest specs, and have been launched pretty much in line with international launch dates. Maybe Sony and Dell will inspire Asus and Toshiba to follow suit and launch their top of the line ultraportables in India too!

1. Dell V131 (13.3 inch)

The Dell V131 is a successor to the one year old V130, a slick ultraportable which suffered from poor battery life, underpowered ULV processor and finally a non-replaceable battery which drove the last nail into its coffin as far as I was concerned.

This time round, Dell has refreshed the V131 with a large 6 cell removeable battery promising upto 9 hours of battery life, and given options of a second generation (Sandy Bridge) Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processor. Overall, …

Are BlackBerry and Nokia truly dead?

The writing on the wall keeps getting bigger. Till last year, the doom and gloom predictions for Nokia and RIM were restricted to the tech publications. For Nokia, it all started after the launch of Nokia N8 featuring Nokia's upgraded Symbian 3 experience, which was touted as a response to iOS and Android. And for RIM, the launch of BB OS 6.0 on the Torch heralded the beginning of the end. The hardware of  both devices was excellent - critics found the operating system and user interface to fall behind iOS and Android.

And now, what was restricted to critic's remarks has spilled over into consumer sentiment in a big way. For the fist time, iPhone sales (at 20 million) have overtaken Nokia's smartphone sales in Q2 2011. Yes, the iPhone outsold Nokia's entire smartphone range in this period. This is not such surprising news considering that Nokia has been scaling down their smartphone portfolio and has had few major smartphone launches after the N8. But it's still a s…