Not a week goes by without the mention of a rumour about a new Apple iPad. This week brought about rumours of an iPad 5 which would be the successor of the current iPad (fourth generation). It is said to be “inspired” by the iPad Mini, which itself is based on the iPad 2 (yes we know, it starts to get confusing). A Japanese website even mentions that the tablet will be introduced in March 2013. Should that be true, it would mean that three 9.7in iPad models (plus the iPad mini) would have been released in less than one year, an upgrade cycle that will test the nerves (and the pockets) of even the staunchest Apple aficionados. This reminds me of a cartoon by the Oatmeal about what it’s like to own an Apple product. As for improvements, one has to wonder what a new tablet will offer other than a thinner chassis, a processor swap and a camera upgrade. But Apple doesn’t have the choice. The Samsung-built Nexus 10 massively upped the ante by combining some exceptional hardware with a more than decent price tag.
Guess what? Motorola Mobility may finally bring out its first major smartphone following its acquisition by Google in August 2011. All the recent flagship Motorola smartphones, the Razr i or the Razr Maxx, were mere evolutions of the original Razr but a brand new handset shrouded in secrecy and rumoured to be called the X Phone may well put Motorola back in the high-end smartphone race, one dominated by Samsung and its Galaxy series. The phone is said to be launched next year and it will be interesting to see how it will be positioned vis-à-vis the existing LG Nexus 4 and how strategic partners like Samsung, Sony and LG will stomach such a launch especially after the triple whammy that was the Nexus 7, the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10. My hunch is that the X Phone will be the Nexus 5, one which will take the iPhone 5S head on (as well as the Samsung Galaxy S4). The Nexus 4 provides with a formidable platform on which to build; possible improvements include a higher resolution, much better camera features, premium materials, bigger internal storage and a brand new version of Android, v5.0 AKA Key Lime Pie.
“Lies, damned lies and statistics”, an expression popularized by celebrated American author Mark Twain comes to mind when reading an article by one of our peers from Computerworld who found out that Windows 8 accounts for only 1.6 per cent of online usage share by 22 December while Vista accounted for 2.2 per cent of online usage share by the same period of time when it launched back in 2007. There are two points worth noting; firstly, since the launch of Vista, the number of computers running Windows has almost doubled to around 1.5 billion, which means that in absolute terms, Windows 8 installations surpass Windows Vista. Then there’s the fact that NetMarketshare gathers its data “from the browsers of site visitors” to its “exclusive on-demand network of live stats customers”. Which means that results can sometimes be skewed; for example NetMarketshare reports that Apple iOS’ marketshare of mobiles and tablets is more than twice that of Android when in reality, both platforms are likely to be much closer.
I rarely list a deal in the weekend roundup but this one is too good not enough to be mentioned again. Virgin Mobile with Three are the only two mobile phone operators to offer unlimited data allowance and tethering at any price (although technically T-Mobile offers tethering as an add-on for its full Monty for the same rate as its PAYG mobile broadband which is £15 per month). But Virgin Mobile’s SIM-only AYCE+T plan costs £12 per month on a 30-day contract, less than half Three’s cheapest all-you-can-eat data plan that includes tethering. What this means is that in theory, you could pair that that SIM with a low cost Android smartphone (like the £49.95 Motorola Motosmart) and get a versatile hotspot that can do much more than a bog-standard Mi-fi device for the same price. Oh and you get unlimited texts and 150 minutes. Virgin Mobile piggybacks on EE’s network, which should ensure optimum mobile coverage nationwide.