You know what the best part of mobile technology is? You can access your emails, apps, and websites pretty much anywhere. That is what makes it possible for you to read this, your favorite column on your favorite website, right from your hospital bed as you recover from being repeatedly trampled over during Black Friday. While you bask in your deal finding and slight buzz off of pain meds, mobile companies are trying to hold things together – and some are doing better than others. All that and more in this weekend wrap of mobile stories for November 25-30, 2012.
Windows 8’s ups and downs
Calling the existence of Windows 8 a roller coaster ride would be rather cliche. Perhaps specificity would improve the analogy. Windows 8 has been like a roller coaster and everyone on the ride hates roller coasters. Let’s take a little walk through the ride. Earlier this week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that Windows Phone sales have quadrupled over the course of 2012 (going up). To make that climb go smoothly, the Windows 8 store has more than 20,000 apps available. Microsoft is still trying to figure out how to make those apps profitable, but that’s just a slight bump in the track. Nothing to worry about. Even the other little nerve-wracking clicks on the journey to the top are being taken care of, as a bug fix will be available for Windows Phone 8 in December. Heck, Microsoft is even bolstering its old OS with a Windows 7.8 update in early 2013, which is the equivalent to the carnival games for people that decide not to get on the big rides. This is where everyone that usually hates roller coasters is thinking, “Well this isn’t that bad. Maybe I’ll actually enjoy it.” Then comes the drop.
We all know the internal memory debacle that killed some of the Surface RT’s momentum, but the full effects of disappointment across the board started to sink in. Microsoft has halved its Surface RT order thanks to lower than expected sales. While the Surface Pro appears like it’ll be a sizable upswing when you approach it, turns out it may just be an even bigger drop. Reports show the Surface Pro will have half the battery life of the RT tablet offerings and a consumer startling $900 starting price upon release. When can we get off this ride again? On the plus side, Microsoft is offering a new feedback program for Surface owners so maybe it will address all the troubling information laid out above. To maintain the roller coaster comparison, this is like when they take your picture at the end of the ride and then try to charge you for it like it’s some sort of memory you actually want to keep. It’s not. Let’s move on.
Blackberry might want stop hyping, start working faster
There’s no denying that Blackberry 10 appears to be rejuvenating everything and everyone with interest in Research in Motion. It’s the most promising product the company has come up with in years and every time a new piece of information leaks, excitement seems to flair up. The biggest problem is it’s not here yet. As consumers wait for the release of this savior of an OS from RIM, they are biding their time by buying other products. Android and iOS moved ahead of Blackberry as the top enterprise devices for the first time in ever. The iPhone is being bought by so many business people that Apple is starting to offer an iPhone 5 and tie bundle. The sooner the Blackberry 10 launch happens, the better. Even developers are getting anxious as the development phone, the Dev Alpha C, is in limited supply and Research in Motion appears to making random, nervous changes before the launch. Keep it together, RIM.
Apple is losing control
The entire future of Blackberry may be in the balance, but Apple seems to have reached new heights and gotten completely lost. It could have to do with its Maps app, which was bad enough to lead to the firing of its manager. The new and sure to be in demand iPad Mini and iMac will be facing shortages during this holiday season, meaning tons of missed sale opportunities. This will come to a huge disappointment in China, as the country is just about to get access to the hottest Apple devices this December. Granted, China’s Foxconn workers built the devices so once you’ve seen the inside of them already. Apple’s not totally directionless, of course. It’s landed the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile – supposedly – and made unlocked iPhone 5‘s available for purchase on its online store. Apple also topped Microsoft in tablet sales this Black Friday, but Android’s tablet bombardment is making the top spot a hard one to hold on to. Apple has fallen into the hare role, napping on the side of the road once it established a sizable lead, but there are tons of tortoises that would love to play spoiler.
We spend a lot of time talking about phones and their features, discussing the specs and the hypothetical performance of each device as its peak operating status. Everything changes once you factor in carriers though. For example, AT&T subscribers using the iPhone 5 have the ability to browse the web while talking on the phone. The trade off, though, is they have to put up with AT&T. That’s something not a ton of people are pleased about doing, as AT&T managed to place last in a nation-wide survey by Consumer Reports. Verizon topped the heap in quality despite AT&T’s sizable 4G network that trumps all others. Sprint held its own in a few cities, and appears to hope to make that true in a few more as it expands its 4G LTE coverage. Even if Sprint isn’t successful, it can revel in the fact that it isn’t AT&T.