As predicted, Palm is losing ground fast to iPhone and Android handsets like Droid. The handset maker shipped 960,000 smartphones to the stores in the quarter ended Feb. 26 (23% year over increase). However, the number of actual handsets sold dropped by 29% to 408,000.
The company which pioneered the smartphone segment suffered a loss of $22 million. Following the disappointing results, the value of Palm’s shares dropped by nearly 15%. However, Jon Rubinstein – Palm’s CEO, believes that the situation would have been drastically different had Palm gone on sale at Verizon before Motorola Droid. “If we could have launched at Verizon prior to the Droid, I think we would have gotten the attention the Droid got. And since I believe we have a better product, I think we could have even done better”, said Rubinstein.
It is a pity that the original smartphone innovator is struggling to sell a million handsets, while Apple managed to sell in excess of 8 million handsets in the same quarter. The big question is – can Palm reverse their fortunes? The substantial stockpile of Palm handsets already present with various distributors makes a quick recovery unlikely. Only time will tell if Palm can find back their winning ways. But for the sake of consumers, let us hope that they do.
You have heard the rumors before, but now it is official. Microsoft has announced Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
As expected, Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 would be a minor upgrade. It will mostly be a collection of previously released updates rolled into a single deployer. The only significant new feature would be provided through an updated Remote Desktop client, which would take advantage of RemoteFX.
Speaking about RemoteFX, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 would be a fairly major update and will introduce two new features – RemoteFX and Dynamic memory.
The previously mentioned RemoteFX will be the latest addition to Microsoft’s desktop virtualization stack. It will allow remote workers to enjoy the same rich user experience over a network as with a locally executing desktop. This will include audio, video, rich media, Silverlight and even 3D graphics.
Dynamic memory is an enhancement to Hyper-V which will enable higher consolidation/VM density ratios suitable for servers and VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) deployments.
Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc refused to specify any dates, but promised to reveal more details once we get close to the milestone release. Windows 7 is a fairly polished and a mature product, hence big updates were never expected. In fact, “Don’t wait – go ahead and deployâ€¦ you know you want to!”, was LeBlanc’s advice to corporates waiting for the first service pack.
Since last week, rumors that Google has made up its mind to quit China have been getting stronger and stronger. Now a Chinese newspaper is reporting that Google may cease operations in China as early as April 10. Reportedly, Google will announce the departure date on Monday – the day after the Google employees will receive their annual year-end bonus.
The row started when Google publicly announced that they had been victim of sophisticated hacking attempts originating from China. In an aggressive move, Google promised to serve uncensored search results in China and even threatened to pull out. The ensuing controversy worsened diplomatic relationship between China and USA and succeeded in bolstering Google’s “Do No Evilimage.
Google may not be the largest search engine in China, but it does command a significant market share. Google has officially declined to comment on the speculations. However, if it indeed decides to quit China completely, there would be widespread ramifications due to the sheer number of various Google products and their respective users.
As expected, the browser choice screen (also known as the browser ballot) is having a significant positive impact on alternate browsers. Norwegian browser maker Opera Software has revealed that they are experiencing a 130% increase in browser download rates as a result of the choice screen. In fact, the choice screen now accounts for as much as 53% of the total downloads from Europe.
The effect is most pronounced in Poland where the browser choice screen has led to a three-fold increase in the download rates and now accounts for 77% of all downloads. Downloads from Spain, Italy and Denmark have also increased significantly. Surprisingly enough, Norway is one of the countries least affected by the browser screen. Perhaps, this is because awareness about the homegrown browser is already high in Norway.
Although, Apple and Google have declined to share any statistic, both Opera and Firefox have confirmed that they are experiencing significantly increased download rates. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see if the browser choice screen manages to have a significant effect on browser market.
Earlier this week, several media outlets reported that Google might have already decided to cease operations in China. While Google hasn’t officially reacted to the speculation, MSNBC is reporting that Google has begun serving uncensored search results in China.
Google had promised uncensored search results in their original missive. However, at least til earlier this week, search results were censored as usual in China. However, now it appears that at least some users in China are getting uncensored results for search queries related to the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre and Xinjiang independence.
Google officially denies making any changes. “We have not changed our operations in China,” said Google spokesman Scott Rubin. In fact, it is quite possible that this is simply a case of the filters malfunctioning. However, if the results have indeed been uncensored, then two things are certain. Firstly, the Chinese government will not be pleased with this development and secondly they will not hide their displeasure.
Sputnik test itself is still in its infancy and will undoubtedly continue to evolve and mature with time. However, a standard test suite like this will definitely help browser manufacturers discover bugs and inconsistencies. Let us hope that browser manufacturers like Microsoft and Mozilla will take this test seriously and help in the evolution of a truly Open Web.
Today Opera Software hosted its fourth Capital Markets Day in Oslo, Norway. You can download the excerpts of the event from here. Although, the document doesn’t provide any detailed information about their future plans, there are quite a few interesting revelations:
- Opera Mini Widgets: Opera has been tirelessly promoting widgets, which are essentially tiny applications developed utilizing web standards. Widgets are currently available only in Opera Mobile and Opera for desktop. However, Opera will soon be introducing widgets to Opera Mini. This is a significant announcement, as this would allow even basic phones to run web-applications (widgets) such as eBook reader and Twitter Client.
- Opera “Bream” UI: At the moment, little is known about Bream, but Haavard K. Moen teased that it “covers the entire mobile value chain”.
- Revolutionizing the TV: Opera is already focusing on emerging segments such as Television sets. Opera estimates the number of connected TVs to grow from 14.7 million in 2009 to 87.6 million in 2013. It intends on building a HTML5 based open applications platform for TVs. The development platform and developer tools are expected to be launched later this year.
- Continued Collaboration with Global Operators: Currently Opera has agreements with 11 out of top 30 mobile operators globally. It plans on increasing both short-term and long-term revenues by teaming-up with even more extensively with device manufacturers and mobile operators. Opera will be powering Vodafone’s Android app store client.
- Opera Turbo to Go Mobile: Opera will be introducing Turbo devices (possibly in collaboration with Vodafone). Opera Turbo is a technology, which was introduced in Opera 10 for desktop. In Turbo mode, all webpages are routed through Opera’s servers, where they are compressed to dramatically reduce page load times on slower connections. Exactly what Opera means by Turbo enabled devices is not clear, as Opera Mobile 9.6 already supports Turbo.
- More Than 100 Million Users: Opera currently has 48 million desktop users and more than 50 million mobile users. The total desktop market share is estimated to be 1.73 billion users. This means that Opera’s desktop market share is approximately 2.7 %. Opera estimates its mobile market share to be around 26%.
- Impact of Ballot Screen: After the soft launch (website launch) of the ballot screen, Opera’s daily download rate tripled in several European countries. The impact of the actual launch (on March 1) should obviously be much larger.
As predicted, Opera 10.5 (final) for Windows is here. Yesterday, the Browser Choice screen went live in European Union countries and quite obviously, Opera is hoping to woo new users with their latest offering. However, does it have enough to challenge the likes of Firefox and Chrome?
Opera Software promised to deliver speed and with Opera 10.5, they have managed to deliver it with a dash of panache. Opera 10.5 features a markedly improved user interface (UI), which makes the best use of modern operating systems. The tab bar has been merged with the title bar and all the menu options are now offered through a single O-menu button. Opera 10.5 also makes use of Windows 7 features such as Jumplists and taskbar tabs.
The overall browsing experience is a lot more fluid thanks to the attention paid to minute details. The annoying dialogue boxes used in previous versions of Opera have been replaced with overlay boxes, which don’t get in your way. The address bar, search bar as well as the zoom button has received small tweaks but these minute changes have a big effect on the pleasantness of the UI.
Private Browsing has also been introduced in this version. Although Opera is the last of the major browsers to implement this feature, its implementation is probably the best. Opera supports Private Windows as well as Private Tabs. When you open a Private Tab or Window any browsing activity performed within that specific tab/window won’t be recorded.
Opera 10.5 is an immensely impressive browser. Whether it is the best browser or not simply boils down to personal preferences. Nevertheless, it should please anyone looking for a fast and pleasant web browsing experience.
[ Download Opera 10.5 for Windows ]
Google does not disclose the percentage of revenue that it shares with AdSense publishers. However, Amit Agarwal from Digital Inspiration has come with some clever arithmetic to deduce the revenue share being offered by Google.
Digital Inspiration based its calculations on the quarterly earnings report released by Google. The report has two sections – Google Network Revenues and Traffic Acquisition Costs. While the former reflects the amount Google earned from AdSense, the later tells us how much it paid to AdSense publishers. Digital Inspiration used this information to calculate the percentage share paid by Google to publishers. The share has decreased from 75.0% in Q1 2009 to 72.1% in Q4 2009. If true, this is indeed a worrying trend for publishers. However, the problem is that there is a big hole in this logic.
There is a logical explanation to the declining revenue share, which does not involve “Google is becoming evil”. Google does not completely rely on publishers for eyeballs. AdSense ads are displayed in several major Google initiatives including Google Search, YouTube and Gmail. Obviously, the traffic acquisition cost associated with in-house page views is zero, since Google would be paying itself.
Over the past year, Google has managed to steadily increase page views to various Google projects. Because of this, Google’s reliance on publishers has decreased. Publicly available stats also back this up. For example, YouTube crossed 1 billion page views per day in October 2009.
Rise of YouTube (via Compete)
With Google aggressively expanding its portfolio, traffic acquisitions cost’s percentage will continue to decline. We are not claiming that Google isn’t reducing the AdSense revenue share. We simply believe that we don’t have sufficient data to come to any conclusions.
Facebook grew by 600% last year and is now the most popular mobile social network, according to the latest State of the Mobile Web report by Opera. At second position is VKontakte, which is exceptionally popular in Russia. Twitter was the other big winner in 2009 and saw its usage surge by 2800%. All the listed Social Networking sites, other than Friendster, experienced significant growth in 2009.
Although, Facebook is the most popular social network in the world, it is still trailing Orkut in India. However, even in India Facebook is catching up. Its usage increased by 431% in 2009 and is currently just behind Orkut.
The other interesting data to emerge from Opera’s analysis is the overwhelming dominance of Nokia in South-East Asia. In Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and India each of the top 10 mobile phones were manufactured by Nokia.
As indicated in our earlier reports, Mobile Web itself is growing at a phenomenal pace. In December 2009, more than 46.3 million people used Opera Mini, an 11% increase from November 2009 and more than 159% compared to December 2008. Opera Mini served over 20 billion pages and compressed close to three petabytes of data.