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Just six weeks after launch, Microsoft's Kin, the social phone we wanted to love, is dead. Microsoft is ending its short life, sources close to Microsoft tell us. There won't be a separate Kin product anymore. Effective immediately, Andy Lees is shoving the entire Kin team into the core Windows Phone 7 team, so there will just be one big group to focus on Windows Phone 7.

The major reason? Sales. Microsoft never confirmed (or denied) that only 500 Kins were sold, but it's clear that the response has been completely underwhelming. Otherwise, why kill a project that was in development for years after just a few weeks? (And cost millions.)

A major reason it bombed, besides the weird, non-specific faux hipster marketing? Price. Verizon priced Kin's monthly service like a smartphone, even though it wasn't one. Even cutting the device price drastically didn't alleviate the high cost of the monthly plan. (The confusing Kin, a Windows Phone 7 Phone by Microsoft flustercluck branding didn't help.)

The few people that did buy a Kin will still get support from Microsoft, but the future of promised software updates is up in the air. It seems safe to say, though, Kin isn't going to evolve into the things we hoped it would. At best, we have to hope the things we did love—Kin Studio—will make it into Windows Phone in some guise.

Microsoft's official statement on the matter, for what it's worth, is vague but telling:

"We have made the decision to focus on our Windows Phone 7 launch and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones." [emphasis mine]

It's not the first major innovative E&D project Microsoft's slaughtered in recent months, but it's the first that's actually made it to market before being gutted. Verizon, for the record, says "The phone is still an important part of our portfolio."

All in all, still kind of astounding.

 
 
  1. Official warranty and support: Let’s face it, warranty and support count for something. As of now, Kindle is officially supported in India, the iPad is not.
  2. Price: Rs 13,000 officially versus around Rs 30,000 in the grey market. The Kindle takes it here, really.
  3. Data connectivity: We are not even going to debate whether the iPad is a better device for browsing the Net (it is perhaps the best mobile device for doing so), but the fact is that in India, it can work only on Wi-Fi or can be hacked to run on GPRS. The Kindle may not let you browse the Net freely in India, but you can still get the best of Wikipedia with minimum fuss, with no hacking involved and can, of course, browse the Amazon book store and download books over the air.
  4. Portability: At around 290 gms, the Kindle is much more portable than the iPad, which is almost twice the weight. With its relatively more book-like proportions, the Kindle is also a lot easier to read from in bed.
  5. Battery life: Two weeks against about 11 hours – again, the Kindle has a distinct edge here, thanks mainly to the e-ink display.
  6. The display: If you are looking at just reading content, we will have to go with Kindle’s e-ink display. The iPad’s dazzling display is great for reading books too, but heck, the Kindle’s looks much more, well, booky!
  7. Book store: Amazon’s Kindle Book Store works in India, Apple’s iBookstore, as of now, does not. Ironically, you can download books from the Kindle Book Store to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, but we must admit that the Kindle holds the edge here.
  8. Better computer syncing: If the iPad has a flaw, it is the fact that one has to depend so heavily on iTunes to sync data with a computer, even when it comes to books. Kindle is in comparison, a doddle to use.
 
 
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Google is apparently working on a new social service known as Google Me - at least that is what Digg founder Kevin Rose claims. It seems that this will go up head-to-head against Facebook, after their last attempt coming in the form of Google Buzz that never really took off. You just got to love the imaginative wordplay of Google Me being used, considering how the word Google has even entered into every day lexicon for quite a while already.

 
 
Ron Wayne is usually just another gambler at the Nugget Hotel & Casino in Nevada. He comes here a couple of days a week to try his luck on the video poker machine. But on this trip, he drew some curious onlookers, as he was escorted by a CNN camera crew. A gift-shop worker asked him if he's famous. "Well, I'm one of the founders of Apple Computer," Wayne responded.

Wayne, 76, is used to the puzzled looks. He said people assume that he must be living in a mansion.

"I'm living off my Social Security and I do a modest trade in collectors' stamps and coins," he said.

The irony of being inside a casino is not lost on Wayne. After all, if his short-lived career at Apple had gone differently, he would be holding a different kind of winnings: 10 percent of Apple's stock.

Today, that stock would be worth $22 billion.

Wayne left Apple for only $800.

"What can I say? You make a decision based on your understanding of the circumstances, and you live with it," he said.

Wayne's tenure at Apple began on April 1, 1976. His name is signed on the legal document that established Apple -- next to those of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the Silicon Valley giants most people associate with the popular tech company, which makes the iPhone and iPad.

Jobs and Wayne had become friends a few years earlier while both were working for the Atari Corporation.

"We did get fairly chummy, had lunch together, dinner together and had conversations," he said.

As Wayne tells it, Jobs asked for his help in drafting documents and mediating a dispute between Jobs and Wozniak. He also drafted the company's first logo and operating manual. For this work, Wayne was awarded a 10 percent stake in Apple.

"What Jobs had in mind was that he and Woz [as Wozniak is sometimes called] should each have 45 percent and I would have 10 percent as mediator in any dispute that would come up," he said.

That account is backed up by other reports.

In Steve Wozniak's autobiography, "iWoZ," he described Wayne as "one of those people who seemed to have a quick answer for everything."

"He seemed to know all the things we didn't," Wozniak wrote. "Ron ended up play a huge role in those very early days at Apple."

But Wayne had early misgivings. He had been unsuccessful in starting a slot-machine manufacturing business. He racked up thousands of dollars in debt.

With Apple, he was concerned history would repeat itself.

"I could see myself getting into this situation again, and I was really getting too old for that kind of thing," Wayne said, noting that his partners at Apple were 20 years younger than he was.

"The way these guys were going, they were going to bulldoze through anything to make this company succeed. But it was going to be very rough ride, and if I wasn't careful, I was going to be the richest man in the cemetery."

Eleven days after Apple was formed, Wayne removed himself from the company charter. He eventually was given $800 for his stake in Apple, and he let go of that valuable Apple stock, which has exploded in value since.

Wayne said he doesn't let himself wonder how things could have been different if he had chosen to stay with Apple.

"Obviously he [Wayne] didn't have the foresight to know what Apple would become. Like any company in the very early stages, there's a risk associated and you've got to be willing to take it, or you're not," said Ben Bajarin, a technology industry analyst for Creative Strategies.

Wayne, whose net worth is mostly tied up in his extensive coin and stamp collection, said he's as "enamored with money as anybody else."

"But when you're at a focal point of history, you don't realize you're at a focal point of history," he said.

A retired engineer, who has worked at various companies since his departure, Wayne said he never has owned an Apple product.

"I never had a real use for computers," he said. He recently purchased a Dell, saying he's too familiar with Microsoft Windows to want to switch.
 
 
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Today is the grand opening of the Microsoft Store in Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego, California. The San Diego store marks Microsoft’s fourth foray into the retail space and opens later this morning at 10 a.m. PST.The Microsoft Store is just yards away from the Apple Store (), which means it’s competing for attention with the massively long line of people hoping to get their hands on the new iPhone 4.

The grand opening event has been heavily promoted on local radio stations and will feature a performance by Demi Lovato this coming Saturday, June 26. In an effort to draw a crowd, Microsoft is giving away tickets to a meet and greet with Demi Lovato to the first 100 people in line today. The first 1,000 people get “VIP treatment” for Saturday’s show.

In addition, professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek is signing autographs with his Street League cohorts at the store today. Microsoft Store employees are also raffling off electronic devices like the Microsoft Zune, the new Flip camera, miscellaneous laptops and gadgets, and giving away gift cards.

I stopped by prior to the store opening to take photos and videos of the crowd, as well as capture the Apple versus Microsoft commotion. While Apple’s line far surpasses that of Microsoft’s, there’s definitely a sizable showing at the Microsoft Store. It doesn’t hurt that Microsoft employees are using megaphones to drown out the noise from a few doors down.

In the video below I spoke with Nicole Barnhart who — despite gushing over my iPhone 4 — has been in the Microsoft Store line since 12:00 a.m. PST. She tells me that she was approximately the 50th person in line and that the majority of the crowd is waiting to get their hands on the Demi Lovato tickets.

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Consumers around the globe will wait on long lines Thursday to get their hands on the newest iPhone, but far from the sidewalk frenzy, Apple Inc.'s smartphone is making inroads with business customers.

Companies like Bausch & Lomb Inc. are buying iPhones for their employees, in some cases replacing BlackBerry devices. Earlier this year, the eye-care products company made iPhone the standard issue device for its sales force. Now, about 1,200 salespeople have one.

Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry has long been the standard-issue smartphone for businesses, largely because RIM made it easy for corporate technology departments to manage and secure its devices. Information-technology professionals dismissed the iPhone as a toy, and many banned it from their companies outright.

But while BlackBerrys are still the most popular corporate device, with 70% of IT departments currently supporting the gadget, about 29% of businesses now support the iPhone, up from 17% last year and none in 2007 when the iPhone first launched, according to Forrester Research.

One catalyst is that employees are clamoring for iPhones, even if they have to pay for all or part of it themselves. AT&T Inc. CEO Randall Stephenson said in an interview last week that about 40% of its iPhones are sold to companies or individuals with corporate discounts.

AT&T said its salespeople aren't pushing the iPhone above the BlackBerry or other devices, but the carrier has taken steps to make the iPhone attractive to companies, including providing tools to build iPhone apps for homegrown software.

Bausch & Lomb adopted the iPhone because of the device's ability to access spreadsheets and contact-management software, although getting locked into AT&T's network in the U.S. was a negative, said Simon Woods, vice president for technology and applications.

Apple said in January that 70% of Fortune 100 companies were testing or deploying iPhones. While Apple's marketing remains focused on consumers, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said in January the company has added "sales staff to assist the carrier staff in selling the iPhone in several of the major geographies." Apple declined to comment further.

Microstrategy Inc., which makes business-intelligence software, plans to deploy more iPhones to employees and only replace BlackBerrys when they break. The company has 1,000 BlackBerrys and 400 iPhones, including 200 purchased by employees.

When asked whether it was concerned by the encroachment of other devices like the iPhone in businesses, RIM Vice President Tyler Lessard said, "We see other vendors coming in there but we keep expanding too." He added that RIM, which reports quarterly earnings Thursday, was also rapidly growing its consumer business.

In 2007, the original iPhone was short on security and management features that are important to corporations. But Apple took a major step in 2008 to make the iPhone more business-friendly by adding the ability to connect to Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange email program and to remotely erase an iPhone's content in case it's lost or stolen. An update last year added the ability to encrypt information stored on the device.

The iPhone 4, which goes on sale in the U.S. and four other countries Thursday, will include a few more sops to IT departments, such as the ability to distribute software wirelessly and more security features.

The addition of encryption is what convinced Joe Drouin, chief information officer at staffing company Kelly Services Inc., to offer iPhones to employees. Since January, the company has given them a choice between iPhones and BlackBerrys and more than half picked the iPhone.Setting up and managing an iPhone takes a little more time and effort than a BlackBerry, but not enough to act as a deterrent, said Mr. Drouin.

Business-software makers have also developed apps for Apple's App Store. Salesforce.com Inc., which has 500,000 mobile users for its contact-management software, says iPhone owners outnumber BlackBerry owners three to one.

Separately, Apple said Wednesday that white versions of the iPhone 4 won't be available until late July because it had "proven more challenging to manufacture than expected." Apple said the black version isn't affected, though it is also in short supply for the launch.
 
 
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Apple Inc. has sold more than 3 million iPads just 80 days after the tablet computer's launch in the United States.

The touch-screen iPad blew past analysts' expectations even in its first month when it sold 1 million, and Monday's 3-million mark signaled that it was not losing any steam.

"People are loving iPad as it becomes a part of their daily lives," Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a statement. "We're working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month."

The news came as the prices of iPad's e-reader competitors — Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle and Barnes & Noble Inc.'s Nook — were slashed Monday to under $200. The iPad starts at $499.

But it seems price isn't an issue when it comes to some of the hottest, and coolest, pieces of technology on the market, said Richard Doherty, analyst at Envisioneering Group.

"It's fashionable and it's 'in' and it's less geeky than a keyboard," he said. "It's the new definition of 'it.' "

Doherty said that at this rate he expected iPad sales to far surpass his original prediction of 5 million to 8 million within a year. And if there's anyone who has returned an iPad, he'd like to meet them, he said.

According to Reuters, the iPad also is sold in Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, France and Germany.


 
 
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     The iPhone 4 is no small thing to review. As most readers of Engadget are well aware, in the gadget world a new piece of Apple hardware is a major event, preceded by rumors, speculation, an over-the-top announcement, and finally days, weeks, or months of anticipation from an ever-widening fan base. The iPhone 4 is certainly no exception -- in fact, it may be Apple's most successful launch yet, despite some bumps on the road. We've already seen Apple and AT&T's servers overloaded on the first day of pre-orders, the ship date for the next set of phones pushed back due to high demand, and die-hard fans in line outside of Apple locations a week before the phone is actually available. It's a lot to live up to, and the iPhone 4 is doing its best -- with features like a super-fast A4 CPU, a new front-facing camera and five megapixel shooter on the back, a completely new industrial design, and that outrageous Retina Display, no one would argue that Apple has been asleep at the wheel. So the question turns to whether or not the iPhone 4 can live up to the intense hype. Can it deliver on the promises Steve Jobs made at WWDC, and can it cement Apple's position in the marketplace in the face of mounting competition from the likes of Google and Microsoft? We have the answers to those questions -- and many more -- in our full review, so read on to find out!

Perhaps the most notable change with the new iPhone is the drastic industrial design overhaul -- Apple seems to have completely rethought its strategy on how the phone should look and feel, and the results are nothing if not striking.

In his WWDC keynote, Steve Jobs likened the design of the iPhone 4 to that of a "beautiful, old Leica camera," and as we've said before, he wasn't off the mark. Instead of hewing to the curved, plasticky, silver-bezeled look of the iPhone 3G and 3GS, the company has turned the casing and face of the device into something decidedly more detailed and sophisticated. From the design aesthetic through to the actual build process, Jony Ive and his team have reset what we expect in an iPhone, coming up with something that clearly harkens back to the retro-future Braun designs of Dieter Rams. The iPhone 4 is made up of three basic parts: two pieces of smooth, strengthened glass, and a stainless steel band which wraps around the sides, top, and bottom of the phone. The effect is clean but not simple, and Apple has added little details, like altered volume buttons (what used to be a rocker is now separated into circular clickers labeled + and -), and notches in that metal band which serve to improve radio connections (more on that in a minute). The phone is noticeably thinner than the 3GS at .37 inches compared to .48 inches, but it weighs the same 4.8 ounces, making the whole package seem tighter and denser. It feels great in your hand, with good heft, although it might take a little time to get used to the lack of a rounded back if you're coming from the 3G or 3GS.

We can't overstate how high-end the design of the iPhone 4 is. The 3GS now feels cheap and chubby by comparison, and even a phone like the HTC Droid Incredible -- which just came out -- seems last-generation.

As we said, there are three main pieces of the phone, which together create an effect not wildly dissimilar to that of an ice cream sandwich. You know, but far pricier... and not edible. The face of the device is made up of extremely strong glass which Jony Ive says is "comparable in strength to sapphire crystal, but about 30 times harder than plastic." A small slit for the earpiece and the front-facing camera are embedded in the glass above the display, with the familiar home button towards the bottom -- a button we should note feels much clickier than on our 3GS. On the left side of the phone you've got the new volume buttons, a redesigned mute switch, and a small notch towards the base of the unit. On the right side is the Micro SIM slot and another notch in the band at the bottom, and up top there's the power / sleep button, headphone jack, another notch, and new noise-canceling microphone. Along the bottom is a speaker, microphone, and the 30-pin dock connector port. The backside of the phone is made from the same kind of ultra-strong glass as the front, interrupted only by the new five megapixel camera, its LED flash companion and, of course, the Apple logo.

We're not going to beat around the bush -- in our approximation, the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone on the market right now. The combination of gorgeous new hardware, that amazing display, upgraded cameras, and major improvements to the operating system make this an extremely formidable package. Yes, there are still pain points that we want to see Apple fix, and yes, there are some amazing alternatives to the iPhone 4 out there. But when it comes to the total package -- fit and finish in both software and hardware, performance, app selection, and all of the little details that make a device like this what it is -- we think it's the cream of the current crop. We won't argue that a lot of this is a matter of taste -- some people will just prefer the way Android or Symbian works to the iPhone, and others will be on the lookout for a hardware keyboard or a particular asset that the iPhone 4 lacks -- but in terms of the total picture, it's tough to deny that Apple has moved one step past the competition with this phone. Of course, in the hyper-accelerated smartphone market where the Next Big Thing seems to always be just around the corner, it's anyone's guess how long they keep that edge.

 
 
Apple has become the world's largest technology company as measured by the total value of its shares, passing a major milestone as it overtakes software giant Microsoft.

At the close of trading on the Nasdaq exchange yesterday, Apple's market capitalisation stood at more than $222 billion, while Microsoft's was $219.3 billion.

It was the first time that Apple's total share worth climbed above its rival's.

"Apple's market cap just exceeded Microsoft's for the first time ever, making it the world's largest tech company in terms of market cap," said Brian Marshall, an analyst with BroadPoint AmTech. "It's interesting that just seven years ago, the company traded at less than cash."

A company's market cap is equal to its share price times the number of shares outstanding. A year ago, Apple's shares closed at $130.78; yesterday, the company's shares fell in late afternoon trading to $244.13, a one-year increase of 86.7%.

Microsoft's shares, meanwhile, dropped to $24.99 in late trading, off more than a dollar for the day.

Google, a competitor to both Apple and Microsoft, closed the day with a market cap of $152 billion.

According to BroadPoint's Marshall, both Apple and Microsoft will generate in the region of $65 billion in revenues during the 2010 calendar year.
 
 
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Hot of the heels of the U.K. getting unlocked iPhones, Engadget notes that Canadians will get to share the same privilege. iPhone 4 in Canada will be available on Rogers, Bell, and Telus and this allows users to choose any carrier they like. The iPhone 4 is an international phone so the no-committment pricing allows you to throw in a SIM anywhere you are in the world as well. Just like in the U.K. and U.S. special carrier pricing with a contract will be made available for those who don't want to shell out in return the flexibility of an unlocked phone.

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