Will Intel go Google on Apple?

Intel has just bought the mobile chip-maker Infineon, which has the technology industry abuzz.

Intel is the biggest maker of computer ‘brains’ on the planet, and its x86 architecture has been a successful model running Microsoft Windows on PCs, so far. However, it has become clear that the mobile devices are at the threshold of overtaking the desktop computers.

Intel has developed a low-power Atom processor, but it has not been quite popular in the face of processors that use the ARM based architecture. With the purchase of Infineon, Intel gets its foot in the door of the mobile processor world. Previously, Intel had partnered with Nokia to develop a mobile platform; at that time, this was a move by these companies to counter Qualcomm cornering “…the market on vague- sounding, ultra-mobile device niches…

That project wasn’t too successful, but with the purchase of Infineon, Qualcomm, which makes ARM-based processors, beware: “Intel-Infineon deal goes far beyond handsets, putting new technologies in netbooks, tablets, embedded PCs, and more“; this could make Intel “Mobile’s next Goliath“.

In addition, it mounts a challenge to Apple’s lead of making its own A4 chip based on ARM. “…the Intel (INTC) acquisition of Infineon’s wireless unit has probably changed the balance. The move allows Intel to add an piece of the mobile puzzle that it never had before. Given its expertise in advanced semiconductor construction, the company could create a single package that would offer most of what handset manufacturers need to catch up to the iPhone, at least in terms of size and power, and still be compatible with the Android operating system.

Given Intel’s expertise in putting “…more stuff onto chips and get more chips out of a piece of silicon…“, this acquisition will be synergistic in providing Intel to “…offer bundled packages and potentially make itself economically attractive to handset vendors.

Paul Otellini, Intel’s CEO, told Liz Claman of Fox Business that about his deal, “Steve was very happy…and there were a number of competing companies for it…I think they’re very happy that Intel won the bid.”

Only time will tell if Steve Jobs remains happy about having someone providing aid and comfort to iPhone’s competitors. He has been burnt once by Eric Schmidt sitting on Apple’s Board and then coming out with an Android handset; he has to be carefully watching Intel’s moves, especially since Apple uses Infineon’s chips in the iPhone.

I would not be surprised if Apple ditches the ‘Intel-Infineon’ altogether. It could use AMD (it already uses ATI graphics, now a part of AMD) instead of Intel processors, and ramp up its in-house chip manufacture to avoid dependence on ones made by Infineon.

A case for an unlocked iPhone?

Gene Steinberg laments that AT&T, or any other US carrier, does not offer reasonable international rates, and would not unlock his son’s iPhone to use in Spain, either.
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I had a similar problem when I went overseas for three weeks last October. After a long to-and-fro with AT&T’s international ‘advisor’, she finally told me that under contract with Apple, AT&T cannot ‘SIM unlock’ the iPhone (I had the 3GS then), like they can any other handset when requested. I was forced to use another phone that I bought unlocked from Amazon.com, because I did not want to jailbreak.
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I did use Skype over Wi-Fi since all my contacts were on the iPhone, praying that nobody will place a call to me from the US when I was talking on VoIP. The 3GS did not have a separate disconnect for Wi-Fi and Cellular, and it didn’t occur to me to take out the SIM!
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I did write to Steve Jobs, then, to please issue an unlocked version of the upcoming iPhone. Apple has done so, but not in the US.
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This is indeed preposterous; I know a couple of my friends had their SIM unlocked in other cellphones. Using a prepaid SIM in the country you’re traveling is the best option for voice and data. This is especially true in Asia, where rates are very cheap.
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I had one other revelation: Carry an Airport Express on travels, especially overseas. While ethernet is available in homes and hotels worldwide, a Wi-Fi router is not that common everywhere. If you want to use Skype to place calls, you would need Wi-Fi.

Future of Android? Take 2

A week ago, I discussed the Future of Android and felt that one thing that will come to haunt Google will be the fragmentation of the OS, which will be difficult to correct because each OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) will tweak it differently to make it distinct in the market flooding with Android handsets, and also that this will make it difficult to upgrade to the latest version of the OS.

Well, Dell has just come out with its first handset, the Aero. It runs on version 1.5, which is 16 months old and four versions behind the current Android OS, 2.2. It is the “The ultimate example of Android’s flaws,” says Bill Snyder; “Dell’s new Aero shows yet again that the fragmented Android platform is broken and the carriers still rule idiotically“.

The venerated non-Apple blog, PC World, gives “3 Reasons to Avoid it“. Besides it being a mediocre hardware and being on AT&T, the third reason is that it has “Really Old Software“. It explains that “Dell has customized heavily the user interface on the Aero, something that would delay the company significantly if it ever decides to give Aero users a software update to the latest version of Android. Because of the old software on the Aero, many applications from the Android Market won’t be compatible with the phone, as they require 2.X version of Android, so you would be stuck with a limited selection of software add-ons to your Aero“.

Dell is not alone with this problem. Motorola has recently unveiled a successor to its Droid, the Droid X. However, in another article, PC World believes that the “Motorola’s Android 2.2 Rollout [is] a mess“, which “…is becoming an exercise in frustration“. The reasons are similar: fragmentation, and uncertainty as to when it will have a full functioning Android 2.2. Ken Segall has made a summary of this article:

• The first Android 2.2 (Froyo) upgrades to Droid failed to deliver Flash. An upgrade to the upgrade will shortly fix that.
• The overseas Droid (called Milestone) gets Froyo in late Q4, but only in Europe and Korea. Froyo is “under evaluation” for Canada, Latin America and Mexico.
• Motorola phones with pre-2.1 versions of Android won’t get Froyo anytime soon.
• The Motorola Cliq, Cliq XT and Backflip are waiting for Android 2.1, but the Devour won’t get it.
• Owners of the Droid Incredible are still waiting for their upgrade.
• The brand-spanking-new Dell Streak was delivered with Android 1.6 and won’t get an upgrade till the end of the year.
• Samsung Galaxy phones are expected to get Froyo, but no one knows when.
• The only company to “ace” the Froyo launch was … Google. Nexus One users got their upgrades back at the end of June.

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I have no doubt that the Android OS will soon become, and remain, the dominant OS. As I showed in my last article, it will populate the plethora of handsets manufactured by a number of OEMs who will fight with each other the on remaining slice of the profit pie left over by Apple and RIM.

Android is the Windows Mobile of the coming decade.

Future of iPad?

Very bright, if you believe iSuppli analyst Rhoda Alexander.

The iPad will account for an overwhelming 74.1 percent of global tablet shipments in 2010, with the remaining 25.9 percent consisting of a mix of older PC-type tablet products and competitive slates. Despite the arrival of the first real iPad competitors in 2011, Apple still will maintain a prevailing 70.4 percent share of shipments, iPad research from iSuppli bears out.  Even in 2012, the iPad will continue to control nearly two-thirds of shipments, at 61.7 percent, as the competition strives to develop ecosystems of tablet apps and content that can match up with those of Apple.

The most likely competitor to the iPad will be HP’s ‘PalmPad’, running on webOS. However, it would not be available until sometime in 2011. Also, Google has to make its ChromeOS ‘touch-enabled’, which it is not at present.

In, addition, “Competitors face some serious obstacles in their efforts to match the total iPad package, most notably competing with the growing suite of iPad-specific applications,” Alexander said.

This challenges the assessment of Acer’s Chairman JT Wang that the iPad’s market share will drop to about 20 percent, maybe less, in the near future.

I tend to believe Ms. Alexander. Matt Burns gives a reasoned analysis at the CrunchGear blog: “Did the iPad prëmptively kill the US tablet market like the Kindle and Nook killed other ebook readers?

iPhones at Target?

Well, old ones.

Target has started a program where you can trade-in your old iPhone.

Apple fanboy’s dream car?

Don’t compute and drive

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Of course, if you can afford this Mercedes-Benz S600, you must be having a chauffeur. To order, contact ZerCustoms.

The appleblog.com gives the details: “Each car comes packed to the gills with outstanding multimedia capabilities, including two iPads in the rear seats with matching Bluetooth keyboards for each. The iPads are capable of controlling every aspect of the S600′s COMAND system, including the radio, navigation system and telephone, in addition to BRABUS’ own custom multimedia functions. Don’t think you’ll be limited to offline or 3G use, either, because the car boasts its own wireless internet via UMTS and HSDPA connections.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a Mac mini in the back seat that uses a drop-down 15.2-inch TFT display, Magic Mouse and USB 2.0 ports accessible to both passengers for real computing power. Finally, because you wouldn’t want to use iTunes on the Mac mini or the iPod apps on your two iPads, there’s a 64GB iPod touch in the center console that also controls the whole shebang using a custom BRABUS iOS application“.

More pictures to whet your appetite for this baby:

What Is It About 20-Somethings?

Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up? Read this if you want to know the answer.

BEWARE, it is a 10-page article in the NY Times Magazine; take this exercise when you have some time to spare.

BTW, the link was email to me by my daughter; she’s 22!