Manufacturing smartphones is a competitive game. I'm talking playing StarCraft in South Korea rough. Succeeding in this market is akin to getting into an Ivy League university, then going on to join the NFL. It's not impossible, but neither is becoming president. If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. It must be too hot for NEC, as they're bowing out of the smartphone market. Given that this was one of their latest models, the news doesn't come as too much of a surprise.
It's not much of a surprise at this point, but the Federal Communications Commission has approved the tri-company merger deal involving Japanese carrier SoftBank, Sprint, and Clearwire. The FCC ruling follows Justice Department approval several weeks ago, and some delicious drama that ended with Dish Network being shut out of the deal.
SoftBank is throwing $21.6 billion at Sprint to acquire a 78% stake in the company. Sprint is now also free to buy the remaining 49% of Clearwire it doesn't already own, giving it a big juicy slice of wireless spectrum.
Google Voice is a great service for replacing your carrier's voicemail and texting options. If you need something that's a bit more robust, however, SendHub has launched on Android and allows business-class users to set up a phone number (or set of numbers) and get texting and calling for free or cheap, depending on what class of service you need.
Free users can get 60 voice minutes, 500 messages, and 3 groups of 50 contacts for their first line.
Opera and Skyfire have a lot in common: specialized use cases, small, dedicated populations of users. That appears to be enough for the desktop browser to swallow the mobile one. Opera Software ASA announced via a press release this morning that it is acquiring Skyfire and its assets, in a deal worth $155 million USD. The sale price includes a mix of cash and stock, $50 million of which will be delivered up front.
International trademark, patent, and copyright law is a bit of a legal minefield, and Apple has proven itself to be among the best in navigating it these last few years. But there is one exception to their otherwise impressive track record: the lucrative South American market of Brazil. While Apple iPhones have been sold in the country for years, Apple has never owned the trademark for the name. A regional phone manufacturer, Gradiente Eletronica, registered the trademark for "iphone" way back in 2000.
Believe it or don't, Fourquare has grown beyond hipster urbanites who desperately want to be the Mayor of the 6th Street Starbucks. More than a few businesses - independent or otherwise - are seeing the value in the location-based service. To that end, Foursquare has released its free business app on the Play Store, allowing local managers to update their business status for single or multiple locations.
Within the Foursquare for Business app, you can keep tabs on recent check-ins, set specials for users, and look up in-depth statistics for your business's performance on Foursquare.
Finance radio! Are you excited yet? Good. Bloomberg has released an app for the company's 24 hour network of audio shows discussing economics, business, and investment. Through Bloomberg Radio+ you can either choose to listen to whatever's on the air right now, or pull from a list of on-demand shows. You can even download the episodes for offline listening.
The app actually looks very well made. It's as feature-packed as one would want a streaming radio service to be.
When the Galaxy Note came out, the cynics and skeptics (myself included) scoffed. "Too big for a phone, too small for a tablet" we said. Well, as it turns out, quite a few people bought it. However, as much as some people may have liked the Note, it's hard to disagree that the stylus would feel more at home on a full-size tablet. Which is exactly what the Galaxy Note 10.1, shown in this shiny new ad, aimed to accomplish.
We heard just recently that ViewSonic was launching a 22" tablet/display running Android. Today, we get a look at this display. We've also learned that it's running a dual-core TI-OMAP processor, 1GB of RAM and Android 4.0, and a 1920x1080 display underneath the gargantuan screen. The demo seems to be targeted at being used in a classroom setting, with plenty of child-friendly apps and videos, but that's just bundled software. The display, which starts at $479, could be used by any budget-conscious consumer that wants to try using Android instead of Windows as their primary OS for a shared family device.