Apple and Google Crunching the Activation Figures to No Avail

Oops, Steve Jobs did it again. Stating the obvious, Apple and Google are pitted against each other head-to-head and shoulder-to-shoulder. However, this time, Steve Jobs has declared the war formally with his good five minutes rant against Android and Google.

Steve Jobs had his moment against Android in a rant which went on to targeting everything Android, from the openness to the fragmentation and tablet experience. As usual, Apple friendly stats followed and all this because Google did it first.

We all remembered how Jobs responded when Google revealed some figures last time. They were prompt enough to blame Google for counting upgrades in the activation stats to which, Google responded with clarifications that they count only activations. Seemingly, apart from dressing as a schoolboy, Jobs also has the competitive spirit of one.

Google’s last claim stands at 250,000+ activations and Apple has topped that with 300,000 activations. It is only time before people get bored with this stat and mouse game. Another thing that Jobs did not mention was that they were counting all iOS devices in these activation figures whereas Google has clarified that they are not counting devices that do not use Google services, even though Android. Clearly, no one is winning the stats battle and no matter what, Apple fanboys will still buy an iPhone and Android fanboys will still sport an Android.

(Source)

Phandroid Gives an Exclusive and a Blurry Picture on Gingerbread

Android fans and haters alike are well aware that the next release of the fast growing mobile platform has been codenamed Gingerbread. Rumors are that some Googlers are already testing it on their Nexus Ones and Phandroid just got their hands one such device that was out in the wild and have revealed some specs.

As expected, the biggest change is a major graphical changeover and Matias Duarte joining the company to beautify the user interface has accelerated this. There have been particular improvements in icon sets and Matias Duarte and his team have done a good job in shedding the 8-bit look that made some critics call the Android interface ‘ugly’.

Detailing in on the changes, the notification bar has gone gray from white and the carrier branding is more prominent this time. The homescreen layout has not changed much. However, these changes cannot be termed as a UI (user interface) freeze and more changes will definitely be made before the final release. With all the UI improvements, there is no expected lag. However, we need to consider the powerful processors powering Gingerbread before running into that assumption.  The radio button, the check boxes and everything else has changed enough that custom UIs will take a backseat.

Behind the scene changes, include addition of SIP for Google Voice that will allow you to use it in Wifi or Cellular Data connections. Gingerbread is expected around the first quarter, next year. Until then, let the rumors prevail.

(Exclusive by Phandroid)

Marissa Mayer Resigns as Head of Search, Now Heading Location and Local Services

Google is defined by one primary product: its Google Search. Undoubtedly, the most important face and persona at Google, therefore is the one who heads the search team. Marissa Mayer has been the head of the Search team and has held the position of Vice President of Search Products from the birth of Google.

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Marissa, who was the first female engineer at Google and has been extremely popular (notorious sometimes) for her micromanagement skills. However, recently, she will change over to the head of Location and Local Services and will no longer head the Search team.

Google puts this change in role as,

Marissa has made an amazing contribution on search over the last decade, and we’re excited about her input in this new area in the decade ahead.

While others see this as a demotion for Marissa, I think this is another big challenge. Marissa has established Google Search as the brand name in this business and as evident from the current trend, the next big thing is Location and Social services. Given her experience and skills, Marissa is the most deserving candidate to manage this venture and pave the path for yet another Google success story.

The initial coverage on this change was done  by Bloomberg. Mayer is credited with introducing over 100 features to Google Search and we expect to see the same growth with her now position.

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Amazon Launching Android App Store This Month, Best Buy Planning One for the Future

Android apps are channeled primarily through the market and while this has been beneficial for some, it has limited the choice of developers who want to reach out to the world. Recently, Google has changed things by including more countries in the supported list of app stores. This decision has been beneficial for many developers as they can expect more app installs now.

Seeing the profit in this business now, Amazon and Best Buy are planning to join the Android app store business by opening their own app stores. The advantage with these alternative app stores is that they will reach out to many other countries that are not supported by Google Market, allow other payment methods and thus, add some flexibility to the buyers end.

Best Buy CTO Robert Steph said,

We are exploring this concept at this very early stage, but we have no concrete plans at this time. Google, though, is an obvious partner.

While Amazon is seriously planning this move and  will announce the launch soon, Best Buy is yet to work on this plan but has the idea. Moreover, Best Buy is no expert on any related service. It is presumed that Best Buy is going to launch an Android tablet and this app store will be for the tablet specifically.

However, this will not be of benefit to PayPal lovers as PayPal is already going to announce a  partnership with Google this month. This competition for Markets will loosen Google’s hold on the Android market and increase competition, services and options. It is a welcome change we all would like to have.

Google TV Will Have a New Google TV Search Bringing Together Mainstream TV and Web Content

Google is treading gradually into the hardware world with its Android powered devices and the  Google TV. Not surprisingly, both these products are powered by the Android OS. Recently, a new technology has been unveiled which will be in use in the Google TV. The Google TV promises a new search that brings channel surfing and web surfing under the banner of Google TV Search.

Jill Szuchmacher, the business development lead for Google TV commented on the new technology saying,

We have developed something called Google TV Search that draws from a corpus of content, live TV, listings, for example, as well as in the case where there is content available on the Web. We’ve built out what we call a Quick Search Box that drops down a series of search results that are most relevant for TV.

There are some concerns on how the search will rank results and this will be a driving factor behind the growth of related businesses. The search listing will involve both Web content and regular TV content, which do not merge too well either. The ranking system as clarified by Szuchmacher:

There is a lot of secret sauce happening on the back end to connect the user to the best results, regardless of where it comes from.

Now that is not really a clarification. It does not tell us if there will be scope for SEO in Google TV Search.

Currently, Logitech is stealing the show with regard to Google TV. However, another contender Sony is also manufacturing a Google TV lineup with hardware specs as detailed  here.

(Source)

Microsoft Acquires Third Party Service and Previous Partner AviCode

Microsoft has made it’s first acquisition in the year 2010 as an application-performance-monitoring vendor AviCode. The announcement was made two days ago on the 6th of October. AviCode has been a long time Microsoft partner and there is no word on the price details.

The service will be integrated into mainstream products allowing their users to monitor performance of local and cloud applications. While close rival Google is making one targeted  acquisition  after another, Microsoft has decided to lay low until now. However, it kept making acquisitions without making a fuss about them.

The Technet page explaining this says,

Integration of AVIcode technologies with System Center Operations Manager will help customers close the management gapbetween existing, on-premises applications and those delivered via the cloud, providing a comprehensive view of application performance, end user experience and the ability to respond more quickly to business needs.

MS made a recent acquisition of Vivaty without any big  announcements  well. This marks a game acquisition and the virtual world being mutually exclusive, Microsoft surely has some plans for the virtual world.

Microsoft holds a considerable cloud potential and these services it acquires contain technologies that can be used to build a more robust and clean utility with features that people miss in existing solutions.

(Source)

Sony Google TV: Hardware Specs and Price Released [Leaked]

Sony Google TV generates occasional buzz and this time as the launching date is nearing, they have revealed detailed specs.

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The Sony Google TV will be a TV with an Atom processor and the ability to surf the web. Moreover, it is not just a particular TV model. It is however, a family of TV sets that comes in four flavors of 24′, 32′, 40′ and 46′ screen size. Just two days ago, Sony released the TV controller, which looked like a mini-keyboard from a sci-fi movie. This time, the hardware specs add to the details. The specs as leaked by SonyInsider are:

As far as pricing of these Sony Google TV, get ready to shell out $1299.99 for the 32′ (NSX-32GT1), $1499.99 for 40′ (NSX-40GT1)  and $1899.99 for 46′ (NSX-46GT1). Unfortunately, pricing info was unavailable for 24GT1 model, however we assume it should be under one grand. In related news, the widely discussed Sony Internet TV Box, NSZ-GT1, was listed on an internal website and mentions an eject button, WLAN module, and an included HDMI cable. Considering this information, its logical to assume that the eject button is an appropriate mechanism for what we believe is an included Blu-ray player in the device.

The October 12 launch date is awaited and until then, we will probably have more pictures and news like these from Sony, to drool upon.

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Firefox Did not Dump Google Search for Bing, Simply Added it to the List of Available Search Options

Just yesterday,  Robert Scoble announced in a tweet that Firefox would default to Bing search instead of Google. Today, the Mozilla blog has posted an update clarifying the situation, saying the default search will remain Google powered. However, Bing will be added to the list of search services along with the pre-existing ones like Wikipedia, Amazon, Yahoo and others.

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The inclusion is announced as,

The current search options fall into three categories: general search, shopping, and reference.

Google remains the most popular general search and it will remain as the default search option, unless you change it. We will also continue to include Yahoo! as the second option for general search.  Yahoo! has a loyal following and continues to provide a differentiated user experience, even as it integrates the Bing engine for its algorithmic search results. Bing itself offers a user experience that we think users will find valuable, and with its significant rise in popularity over the last year, we will be including Bing as a general search option for English language users.

In spite of the presence of faster web browsers like Opera and Google Chrome, Firefox has still held up in the competition pretty much for the same reasons as that of Internet Explorer, that is, a dedicated user’s base and an awesome base of add-ons.

This makes Firefox a hot target for most search engines. Conversely, Firefox gains every time a custom search is made using the search box. However, now that Google is promoting its own Chrome and Microsoft has a promising IE9 ready for us, Firefox will soon be forgotten when it comes to a battleground for search providers.

Facebook is facing The Privacy Heat Again, This Time for Its iPhone App

Facebook just does not stop upsetting people with privacy issues. An abrupt change in TOS is something people have just come to expect from Facebook by now. However, what has happened this time, goes a step further. Facebook is making phone numbers of personal contacts public on the Facebook iPhone app. This is caused by a technical glitch in the Facebook’s Contact Sync. Whether this is a problem or is a feature is in doubt. However, one thing is for sure. People would not want this to happen.

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The mechanism of this problematic situation is even more amusing. According to Charles Arthur at  the Guardian,

Facebook’s Contact Sync feature links your friends’ Facebook profile pictures to the contact telephone number in your iPhone address book. The app then pushes these private phone numbers onto Facebook’s servers, and publishes them to Facebook’s Phonebook app. The Facebook app also appears to share numbers for contacts that you don’t have, but your Facebook friends do.

Apparently, the bug, which also poses as a feature for advertisers and others, was first sighted earlier this year and has been ignored by Facebook all this long. The Facebook Phonebook is one of my favorite features in the Facebook app. However, I use an Android and am free from this trouble. Nevertheless, I wonder what unexplored features the Android Facebook app has that can create an equal magnitude of dismay.

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StatCounter Reports Internet Explorer Market Share is Dripping Below 50%

Internet Explorer may make a comeback with its latest version 9, which blasts off other browsers in canvas and HTML5 performance but it is still facing the aftereffect of a drip in the user base that started long ago. After providing years of crappy browsing experience and lagging performance, IE is finally ready to change things but its timing is too wrong as people have already started abandoning IE.

StatCounter reports say,

Microsoft IE fell to 49.87% in September followed by Firefox with 31.5%. Google’s Chrome continues to increase market share at an impressive rate and has more than tripled from 3.69% in September 2009 to 11.54% in September this year.

The recent awareness of people about web browsers and an increasing larger section of computer savvy people opting for web SaaS instead of desktop software have led us to become choosy about the web-browser we use.

While Gmail is accessed best using Google Chrome, most government and banking services work best with Firefox and Internet Explorer. In the midst of this, people are becoming aware about using alternatives and are amazed at the level of improvement they can come across using them.

(Source)