When the original Galaxy Note was unveiled back in August of 2011, I’ll admit: I was one of the naysayers. Nay, I was more than a naysayer – I was a hater. The idea of the “phablet,” I thought, was absurd. Who would possibly need – or want – such a ridiculous piece of form-factor experimentation? Like much of the tech media world, I looked on and fully expected Samsung’s newest Galaxy product to be a total failure. It was the kind of device that people just wouldn’t be willing to take a risk on. Memories of 2010’s Dell Streak (a phablomination, if you will) only reinforced such thinking.
I understand that there have already been dozens of rants in regard to Google's "launch" (and yes, that requires ironic quotes) of the Nexus 4. And I understand that sitting here whining about it doesn't help anyone - so I'm going to avoid that. Really. I mean it. Mostly. But I am going to be critical.
From day one, the Nexus 4 has seemed - essentially - cursed. Victim to some dark techno-magic that has ensured nearly every step of the way that Google's flagship $300-350 phone would be delighting as few consumers as possible in the critical holiday sales season.
It's coming. Black Friday (and Cyber Monday), an event so important to retailers in the US that the physical trampling retail employees to death hasn't stopped it. People go nuts for this stuff. And, when you see the "$100/$75/50%/3-hour-only sale" sign plastered onto something, bleary-eyed and over-caffeinated at midnight, or frantically deciding what to put in your digital cart on Monday morning before heading to work, making a bad decision can be all too easy. It's something that we've all probably done with a product of some kind at some point - it's too good to pass up.
And that's how good, honest people end up with ancient Toshiba Thrives, or some off-brand Chinese tablet no one's ever heard of.
In case you haven't heard (and how could you not?), Google has sold out of pretty much every new Nexus they've launched. If you head to the Play Store as of this writing, you cannot buy a Nexus 4 or Nexus 10. Even the 3G-connected Nexus 7 was unavailable for a while. As if that wasn't enough, customers started receiving emails saying their shiny new Nexus 4s were going to be delayed as much as three weeks.
So, what do we do now? Call up customer service and yell and complain? Vent on the internet and talk about how much Google screwed up this launch?
I can't say I'm the biggest student of Gandhi, but that whole "an eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind" bit sure came to mind this morning when I read that Samsung's head of mobile, Shin Jong-kyun, said the company "[does not] intend to (negotiate) at all" with Apple. This came on news of HTC's settlement with Apple on Saturday, which I contend is objectively good for the industry and consumers, no matter how you spin it.
First, let's look at the backstory. Apple and Samsung are involved in probably over a dozen various legal entanglements across the world.
On Saturday evening, HTC and Apple issued a joint press release indicating the two companies had settled their ongoing legal slapfight. Under a confidential 10-year licensing arrangement, they have agreed to what essentially amounts to a rigid patent ceasefire. Even future patents are covered under the deal (there obviously will be exceptions to any deal, but that's the gist).
Immediately, most people assumed HTC was getting hosed. Then, HTC rep Jeff Gordon issued a slightly cryptic but factually vital statement, saying HTC "does not expect this license agreement to have any adverse material impact on the financials of the company."
Now, whether that means the cost of the license and the savings of not keeping 300 attorneys on retainer will cancel out, or if the settlement basically cost HTC nothing, is not clear.
Pictures. If there is one thing we love to share on the internet, it's images.
And I think that's because it's kind of difficult to communicate what we see in life without them - you need that visual aid. Printing or developing photos is time-consuming and inconvenient, and so when digital cameras began to catch on in a big way, right around the same time as broadband internet, people went absolutely mad sharing photos on the web. It was two technologies coming together at the perfect moment. It was a leap forward.
Since then, digital photography has gone from being a disruptive force to the norm.
Yesterday my colleague and fellow Android fanatic David Ruddock took a long look at what was revealed in the leaked Nexus 10 images, examining what will almost certainly be the Android tablet interface for Jelly Bean 4.2. I have a lot of respect for David, but in this case I think he's wrong. And since there's little doubt at this point that the Samsung Nexus 10 will have the same basic UI structure as the Nexus 7, I'll go so far as to say that Google is wrong too.
Having used my fair share of Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich tablets, I've come to love the user interface, which puts both navigation, status and settings all along the bottom bar.
After BriefMobile leaked what appear to be the first shots of a near-production-build of Android 4.2 running on a Samsung Nexus 10 tablet this morning, the response from many people has been absolutely vicious: the new UI looks like a giant phone, it doesn't look it's meant for a tablet, the pull-down notification bar doesn't make sense, the centered navigation buttons are going to be harder to reach, etc.
I think, though, that this is reactionary. It's kind of what I expected, honestly. Not the reaction, but the look - because Google never really said whether or not they were keeping the old tablet UI, which inherently put its future in peril.
Let's start with a disclaimer, shall we? Analysts are generally full of it. When we hear a claim that says, with undeserving certainty, that come 2016 there will be 2.3 billion Android and 2.28 billion Windows devices, we're a little skeptical. The likelihood that anyone knows exactly how many units of a particular platform will sell to that level of accuracy is almost none.
However, as we approach what might just be the single biggest week for Microsoft in decades, it's worth asking the question: are Android and Windows gearing up for a battle over the next few years? The question of smartphone dominance between iOS and Android is settled (Android won).