Almost a year ago, Microsoft announced its plans to expand Windows Azure to Asia, with data centers in China, Japan and Australia. Today, the company announced that its two regions in Japan (Japan East and Japan West) have now hit general availability,…
More proof, if proof were needed, that Android won the smartphone OS wars: Nokia, the former world No.1 smartphone maker and, nowadays, the primary OEM for Microsoft’s third-placed Windows Phone platform has just announced a new family of smartphones built upon the Android Open Source Project — confirming a slew of earlier rumours that Nokia was cooking up an Android device strategy. The first device in Nokia’s Droidy new family was unveiled today at its Mobile World Conference press conference in Barcelona, with both the forthcoming family and this its debut member known as the Nokia X (Update: Nokia also announced the Nokia X+: the same handset but with additional memory, (coming early Q2, for €99/$136); and the Nokia XL, a larger handset with a 5-inch display, also coming in early Q2 for €109/$150). The twist is it doesn’t look like the standard icon-filled Android that the market is used to, being dressed up in a new Nokia UI. “The Nokia X software platform is built upon AOSP, Android Open Source Project,” said Nokia’s marketing director for its mobile phones division, Neil Broadley. ”What we’ve done is we’ve built the Nokia X software platform on standard Android open source, and then on top of that we’ve built the Nokia user experience layer — so the Nokia UI — so Fast Lane and the homescreen. “The homescreen is tile-based, so it’s similar to a [Windows Phone-based] Lumia. It incorporates some elements of that — some limited live information into the tiles. We’ve also put in Nokia and Microsoft services.” “The sub-$100 price range is a massive opportunity for us,” said Nokia’s outgoing CEO Stephen Elop, describing the range as a “different but complementary opportunity to introduce a new family that strengthens our affordable [devices] family”. “The Nokia X takes people to Microsoft’s cloud, not to Google’s cloud,” he added. The 4-inch wVGA, dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon handset, which comes in Nokia’s now familiar spectrum of eye-arresting colours (including bright green, red and yellow) and also packs a 3MP camera, costs €89/$122 (excluding taxes & subsidies) — and is launching immediately, shipping as early as next week. Nokia said it is planning a global rollout for the X but the initial focus will be on “key, fast-growing emerging markets” — including India, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Russia. Aka, markets where low cost Androids are already well established. The Nokia X’s price-point undercuts the affordably
Microsoft recently announced a number of changes to its Windows 8.x and Windows Phone platforms that underscore it is doubling down on Windows. Breaking Friday was the news that Microsoft will lower the per-device cost to OEMs to ship Windows 8.x on less expensive devices. Bloomberg’s Dina Bass wrote that for devices that sell to consumers for $250 or less, Microsoft will charge $15 for use of Windows 8.1, a 70 percent decline on previous rates. This allows OEMs to enjoy far stronger margins on low-cost Windows devices, making the Windows world more attractive to the ever margin-strapped device manufacturer world. Also, this brings the cost of Windows on cheap tablets more in line with the cost of Windows Phone on smartphones, an important change given the coming unification between the two core Windows platforms. Microsoft is still coy on the matter, but its executives have essentially laid the plan bare publicly. This morning at Mobile World Congress Microsoft announced a sheaf of new product changes to both Windows 8.x and Windows Phone, including improvements to the core desktop experience of Windows proper, and aggressive moves to extend the capability of OEMs to build Windows Phone handsets. In addition to a ready-to-go template, and work to allow Android handsets to run Windows Phone more simply, Microsoft listed off a grip of new OEMs that are on board to work on Windows Phone itself; if the platform is to live and die by partners, as it has thus far (both flavors of Windows), making the lives of those partners easier is simple calculus. The announced Windows 8.x changes — detail remains light, expect more at Build in a few months — and the Windows Phone platform improvements continue the company’s bet on both Windows, and its ability to grow a platform of its own. This means Microsoft is wagering that it doesn’t need to retrench to lean on Android, for example, an idea that some externally have floated. What you need to keep in mind is that work Microsoft does now to improve Windows Phone is work proper to its strategy to unify that platform, and experience with Windows RT. So, the work that the company is doing to better support keyboard and mouse users is almost separate; that work is in a different use-case silo. Lowering the cost for Windows on low-cost devices could help the company foster a new cadre of
Last October, Microsoft announced that it would roll out an LTE-enabled Surface 2 for AT&T’s network. Sometime. The announced time frame was early 2014, and, sure enough, the device has just been found in the public FCC database, which means it’s nearing release. This will be the first Surface tablet that ships with built-in cellular connectivity.
Happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds. We’ve got quite the treat for you.
This week, rumors spread that Nokia and Microsoft are working on an Android phone, to be released later this month. Meanwhile, LG has been making waves with the new curved-screen LG G Flex. And finally, we all returned from a super fun, 7th annual Crunchies award show, where Kickstarter won best overall startup.
Rumours that primary Windows Phone OEM Nokia has been two-timing Microsoft by keeping an Android phone project on its backburner have been doing the rounds for a while now. But the WSJ has tipped more fuel on this fire, citing sources saying Nokia will unveil an Android-powered device later this month.
The Gillmor Gang — Robert Scoble, John Taschek, Kevin Marks, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor — seem perfectly willing to predict the futility of the next Microsoft CEO, and even perhaps the next Bill Gates. But we can only successor-surf so long before returning to the more heady war of the social stream.
You can decide for yourself, but this feisty show was supercharged by @jtaschek’s minority report on the heir apparent and never really let up. From @kteare’s posit of Facebook devolution to everybody’s fascination with the mirage of brand loyalty, the emerging point is still elusive. Namely, that we’ll know it when we see it, and reward each and every app that fits into the puzzle with a notification seat at the table.
Yahoo could be getting back into the search game. Its long-suffering deal with Microsoft has underperformed, making recent revelations that the company is working on building new search products hardly surprising.