Windows RT to cost OEMs $85 per device in licensing fees?

According to VR-Zone, Microsoft’s Windows RT – the iteration of the Windows OS for ARM powered devices- will cost OEMs willing to load the software onto their devices between $85-$90 per device in licensing fees. According to the site, initial estimates were that Redmond would charge $35 but “the reality is that Windows RT will cost staggering USD$80-95 dollars, with $85 being the most commonly quoted price.”

At this price, we should expect to see Windows RT (sounds like retweet to me, really) tablets are going to be at par with the iPad rather than Android devices. With expected prices to range between $500-$900 for a device, it’s going to be interesting to see how Microsoft plans to take on both Android powered tablets and Apple‘s iPad.

A late to comer to the raging table battle, one would have expected a more overwhelming strategy from Microsoft to take on Android instead since it cuts across both the high and low spec’d spectrum, but instead they chose to go after the iPad. The next year is going to be really interesting in the tablet market for observers and consumers alike. 

Google acquires Quickoffice

Quickoffice, the popular mobile office productivity suite has been acquired by Google. Alan Warren, Engineering Director at Google wrote on the official Google blog regarding the acquisition

We’re happy to announce that we have acquired Quickoffice, a leader in office productivity solutions. Today, consumers, businesses and schools use Google Apps to get stuff done from anywhere, with anyone and on any device. Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we’ll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite.

Clearly this is part of Google’s strategy of making the use of Google apps seamless regardless of device or platform. It does not come as a surprise seeing how the battle for domination has shifted over the last few years to the mobile terrain. Google naturally is bolstering its mobile arsenal, chiefly Android, in the face of increasing competition from the other platforms.

Desktop – Android’s Next Frontier

                     Android, soon in a desktop near you

The Android operating system is an indisputable success. A few weeks ago, it was with an average of 400,000 activations per week.

But not only that: Tablets, E-readers, portable gaming devices, everything seems to go in the direction of Android (and ARM).

And as a natural evolution, the ARM architecture is slowly entering the server room.

And, it  seems inevitable.

ARM on the server? What a joke …
Yeah, all the critics cite that the ARM architecture is only 32 bits, can not do mult threads effectively, and besides, what operating system would run on this architecture?
Even more as a server …

But several factors are driving the development of servers with ARM architecture: ARM chips  are much cheaper than Intel ones, and much more efficient in terms of power consumption and heat dissipation, the so-called Green Computing

So, after this information, is not  surprising the announcement that ARM would be working to launch 64-bit versions of their processors, targeting the server’s market

But what does the expansion of ARM processors and their journey towards the server’s room has to do with the Android desktop? Many things, since the expansion of the ARM chips is forcing Intel to move…

Android on the desktop – Increasingly close …

The growth of the ARM architecture, and therefore, the entire Android ecosystem is pressuring Intel to do something.

After years and years making  more powerful processors (and therefore) more expensive and energy hungry, Intel is trying to leapfrog in the mobile sector , feeling the pressure of the ARM chips  closer and closer, and watching its influence being undermined. Not that Intel has not tried, it tried, with Meego (thanks to the Nokia / MS deal, it went down the drain) and now with a new attempt, the Tizen. But these efforts are still timid.

The power of x86 fades…

Even Microsoft, Intel partner for many years, is failing to become relevant in this new mobile market (phones, tablets, netbooks), and their new systems are greeted with yawns (at the best).

Intel is cornered, feeling that the legacy software (which always helped Microsoft & Intel) no longer has so much importance (nor relevance). And Microsoft’s attempt at the ARM architecture  begins already flawed
The new ARM platform, however, already has Linux as one of its traditional operating systems (Debian Arm has existed for a considerable time).

If you build it they will come

Exactly, and since Intel can not depend anymore on its largest  partner (Microsoft is also going to the ARM side of the force – has become a licensee, to produce its own ARM processors), it is working to improve Android in the x86, and of course, making mobile x86 chips to compete with ARM ones.

So, Intel is pushing Android to run on x86 architecture very well, even releasing  SoC x86 chips, that rival  ARM chips capabilities.

And some say that Intel will dismantle the reign of ARM in the mobile

And there’s more: The Android kernel is being inserted back in the Linux mainline kernel.

What this might mean?

As Mr. Pogson wrote, this means a whole ecosystem now quite mature (all Android Apps) becoming available for Linux, yes, that common Linux (Ubuntu, Debian., etc…) could run Android applications. And thus, the Android would go the opposite way of what Microsoft intends with windows 8, making a mobile operating system run on the desktop.

But, What About Chrome OS?
Despite being a radical concept, having an operating system that only works “in the cloud” is something that is not ready to happen yet. Not now, we do not have the infrastructure that such a system requires. And besides, who will rely on storing files in the “cloud”? Sensitive files ? Webmail services(a cloudy example) have already given many evidences that they may fail, and fail badly.

What to expect …?

The strengthening of the Android platform on the desktop will be a great evolution for Linux. The operating system that was received with contempt by some IT companies, as a hobbyist’s toy. It will bring more applications to the Linux ecosystem (that are now exclusive to the Android platform) and  will certainly make Linux very popular.

However, two companies, Microsoft and Apple are not being able to compete with Android in the market, and are resorting to lawsuits to stop the growth of the platform, how will they  react when  Android begins to appear on the desktop?

Windows Phone 7? 5 Reasons Why I Have no Faith in it

In my last and final goodbye to Nokia, a commeter asked the question, “what about Windows Phone 7?” Indeed, all throughout the post, there was not one mention of Microsoft’s answer to both Android and iOS. Is it because I think WP7 is no match for the two dominant OSs? Or that because it’s from Microsoft? I don’t think so. WP7 for me, is not a viable contender for the following reasons

1. Lateness: I really don’t know what Redmond was doing when Google bought Android Inc back in 2005 or when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone back in 2007, but somehow they chose to turn a blind eye to the then budding ultra smartphone market and instead concentrate more on their desktop offering. As the adage goes, the early bird catches the worm, and both Google and Apple were those early birds. If Redmond had thrown down its gauntlet at that time with the introduction of WP7 then, at least they would stand a chance today.

2. Miscrosoft bullying: Rather than focus time and resources on marketing and making WP7 attractive to both developers and those who don’t want either iOS or Android, Microsoft prefers to spend its energy on  bullying Android OEMs into paying so called royalties for infringing never-shown Microsoft patents. But there’s no surprise here, it’s one of Microsoft’s hallmarks to use the bogus patent system as a trump card if it cannot compete. 

3. Nokia: Perhaps the biggest reason why WP7 will find it tough on the market is the unholy alliance with Nokia. For years, Nokia had been a company known to make profits by selling high volume, low cost “dumb” phones to hundreds of millions of people across the world. Now with WP7, it will have to focus on the highend spectrum of the market. With Elop giving Symbian just a few years more for “harvesting,” Nokia is left with WP7 as its primary OS. We don’t know when Meltemi will finally take the place of Symbian, but for now, we can safely assume Nokia is going to alienate its core market. 

To also hammer home the point of Nokia being a disaster for WP7, take a look at the press coverage the release of the N9 and N950 MeeGo powered devices enjoyed and compare them to the Nokia Lumia, even Engadget, an ultra Apple centric blog was drooling over the N9. The Lumia? Yawn. The market logically expected Nokia to overhaul Symbian and fire up MeeGo, not sell out to Redmond.

4. Apps, apps and apps: The Apple App Store and Android Markets both have hundreds of thousands of apps available for download. Think of anything and you’re likely to find an app for that in those two markets. WP7 is yet to catch up, and with Microsoft busily suing other OEMs rather than go all out to attract developers, it’s going to take an eternity for WP7 to reach the scale of Android and iOS in terms of apps. 

5. The OEMs just love Android: Why? Because it gives them the power to differentiate themselves completely from their competitors. Given its open nature, it is always easy and safe to model Android into anything one can think of, an example being what Amazon did with it on its Kindle Fire tablets. Which company would not love such an offering? It’s little wonder that even the home pages of almost all the device makers  readily feature Android phones, with WP7 a few clicks down the menu. I don’t know the extent of customization Microsoft allows the OEMs, but it sure will not be on the scale Google gives them with Android. 

There could be even more reasons why it’s going to be a monumentous act for WP7 to climb out of the bottom, but from where I sit, these are the 5 basic reasons I see which work well against Microsoft’s comeback in the mobile spectrum.

A Final Goodbye to Nokia and a Hello to Android

Just a little over a year ago, I detailed why I opted for Nokia’s Maemo powered N900 instead of an Android device. To be precise, I purchased my Nokia N900 on the 4th of Jan 2011, and wow, what an excitement it was to hold such an incredible device. A full blown, Debian based GNU/Linux OS in my pocket.

However, it was not long to be before the groundbreaking, expertly leaked burning platform memo to Engadget and the subsequent Elopcalypse of Feb 11 2011. For long time Nokia loyalists like yours truly, it was like a dream shattered. We’d always dreamed of having MeeGo as the third force in a fiercely competitive arena dominated by the two tech giants of North America: Google with their Android offering and Apple with iOS.
But the all knowing Nokia board knew better. To salvage Nokia from its not so desperate situation, they had to bring in a former Microsoft employee to head a company that was at the forefront of pushing GNU/Linux to millions of people around the world. And as was expected, the inevitable happened: the bringing to its knees of one of the most powerful and recognized technology companies on Earth. 

Using the N900 is an experience worth savoring. But the device was rapidly ageing(aged?) given it only shipped with 256MB of RAM, Nokia had discontinued support for it, leaving only the very wonderful Maemo community on their own, new applications rarely got published among a myriad of other factors. Thus I felt the need for a new device, and quite naturally I opted for Android this time around.

Of course I know of the Nokia N9 and N950 both running MeeGo, but with the frantic effort Nokia’s CEO is making to sabotage the success of the those devices, I logically shunned them, fearing Espoo will pull another N900 on users of those two phones. 

You’re wondering what device I went for right? Haha. I opted for the Motorola Atrix. After a long and careful searching and considering the price range of the various devices on the retail market here in Accra Ghana, I opted to go for the Atrix which is both a good bang for the money.

Retailing at $400 on Amazon, it packs all the goodies of a modern Android device (yea well not considering the slew of devices being announced at CES 2012). Running Gingerbread on an Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 with 1GB of RAM, it’s more than adequate for an intensive mobile user like myself. 

As I’ve stated before, the Nokia N900 was my last Nokia device, until perhaps Elop is fired and the Nokia board wakes up and realizes gallows they’re being led into, it’s a goodbye Nokia and all your offerings and hello Android. It was really nice knowing you, Nokia, for more than 10 solid years of my less than 3 decades old. 

6 Cool Video Streaming Apps for Your Android Device

Android Smart phones are increasingly popular because of their plethora of features and reasonable pricing. One of the best things about them is the variety and quality of the available apps, many of which are developed by the same folk who create apps for the Apple App Store. Video streaming apps are well-represented on Android, and have had a bit of a boom in recent months. 

The relatively large high-resolution screens and powerful processors used by many Android Smart phones make them excellent devices for video streaming on-the-go. It’s likely that in the near future we’ll see more and more apps and video streaming services especially for Android devices. Yet until then, check the following already existing apps.

One of the best live TV streaming websites on the web, TV.com lets you watch your favorite channels either through Wi-Fi or through your phone network. With TV.com you can watch many TV channels live on your Android device, including CBS news, Showtime, and CNET. The app is free.

One of the most important video streaming services on the web, providing tons of full-length movies as well as recent TV shows, Netflix features a free Android app. To enjoy video content with it you first need to subscribe to the service. Although a great app for streaming, Netflix gets thumbs down for being a big eater of resources. The streaming quality, however, is flawless.

The popular ‘How to’ website’s DYI video guides are now available on your Android device. With eHow Mobile you can watch the best ‘how to’ videos on the website, read top rated articles, and play with a few extra features. The app is good to have for all of its features, but it’s especially notable for streaming videos. The app gets a thumb up for working flawlessly with Android Smart phones.

An alternative to eHow, Howcast provides many how to videos, some of which are not only informative, but also downright hilarious. The app works well with Android, and it’s quite fun to use, especially when you explore the available videos. Provided that you have a decent Internet connection, Howcast is well worth checking.

If memory space prevents you from carrying all your videos with you on the your Android phone all the time, then you’ll appreciate TScinema. This free app enables you to view videos not stored in your phone’s memory, after first uploading them online. Supporting many formats, and boasting a sleek user interface, TScinema is a must-check app.

The list ends with possible the best music video streaming app for Android currently available: Vevo. The splendid UI, which has been clearly optimized for the small screen of mobile devices, as well as the perfect streaming make the app a must-have. It runs best with the latest version of Android OS.

The list is by no means exhaustive, many other cool apps being available through the Android Marketplace. However, the apps listed here have all been tested on Android Smart phones and they provide a flawless or almost flawless video streaming on-the-go.

Calvin Scott   is smitten by gadgets and etches to buy one as soon as it’s introduced in the marketplace. He has one room dedicated to all the interesting and unique gadgets at his home. Visit his site for internet and mobiel internet.

Meet Iris – A Siri alternative for Android

Users of Apple‘s iPhone 4s have touted the voice service Siri as a killer feature on the latest iteration of the phone. Though voice support on Android has been around for sometime, it has not quite enjoyed the kind of buzz that Siri is enjoying. That’s what prompted the guys over at Dexetra to develop Iris, a Siri alternative for Android. 

It started out as a lazy Friday with half our team missing, the influx of tweets and posts on the “Awesome Siri” were flying everywhere. Suddenly, I got the urge to do something similar for Android. Since we have been working on NLP and Machine learning for over an year now, I had a crazy belief that I could pull this off. Somehow I managed to write a tiny engine that could answer your questions, digging the results from the web.

The result was Iris, or Siri in reverse. It took them 8 hours to hack together a functional, working Iris albeit currently in alpha mode. “Gone are the days when you “Google searched” for information. Just “ask” Iris. She will talk to you on any topic. Ranging from Philosophy, Culture, History, science to general conversation.”
If you’re an Android user and want to yet another voice service in addition what already comes with Android, Iris, this freely available alternative to the Siri on iPhone 4s is your answer. It’s currently available on the Android Market. You’ll need to have “Voice Search” and “TTS library” installed to use Iris, both of which are available on the Market.

Yes I want the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

With the debut of the latest iteration of the Android OS and the latest install of the Samsung Galaxy family of phones, there’s only one word that comes to mind; astounding. From the screen display to the completely overhauled OS, there is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the one device to rule them all. Let’s hear what Larry Page of Google has to say about the new release.

I’ve absolutely loved using my pre-release Galaxy Nexus phone running the new version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. It is truly beautiful hardware with incredible software. Today in Hong Kong, our partners from Samsung took the stage with Andy Rubin, and introduced the world to the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. Both Google and Samsung spent a lot of time getting everything right, and it really shows! People are at the heart of Ice Cream Sandwich with an amazing new contact manager. We focused on re-inventing sharing on mobile devices. This is what I was talking about when I recently mentioned one way to think about Google+ is that over the last quarter we shipped the +, and now we’re going to ship the Google part. There are ton of other features from super fast camera with amazing panorama mode and 1080p video to Voice Typing which transcribes text nearly instantly as you speak. You can even unlock your phone with just a smile. The screen is unbelievably nice and has 720p resolution and is a gigantic 4.65″. Now that Ice Cream Sandwich is unwrapped, the first Galaxy Nexus phones will ship worldwide starting in November. Sign up to get one, you’ll love it just like I do!

Is there anyone out there who does not like the Galaxy Nexus, please let’s see by hand!

[INFOGRAPHIC] Linux then and now

From Android, to Amazon, to Google to Twitter, Linux has come a long way since the first bulletin board posting by Linus Torvalds some 20 years ago. The infographic below paints a summarized picture of this monumental journey from a hobbyist project to a global, pervasive platform.

Linux, 20 years later.

Image courtesy GigaOM.