2013 is likely to be the year of the new gaming consoles as both Microsoft and Sony have announced that they will indeed start selling the respective successors of the Xbox 360 and the PS3 by the end of the year. Amazon (at least its European representations) has put the PS4 and the Xbox One on preorder for either £600 or 600 Euros.
Since neither Microsoft nor Sony have announced the prices of their next generation consoles, these figures are only indicative and more than likely to move downwards thanks to an expected price war. It is the first time ever than both competitors are putting their gears on sale in the same year. The PS2 went on sale in 2000 and the original Xbox in 2001, while the PS3 went on sale in 2006 and the Xbox 360 in 2005. The two gaming consoles as well come with roughly the same hardware configuration which puts each of the consoles’ USPs squarely on the software (the games) and services.
Motorola (Mobility) has been uncannily quiet since its acquisition by Google in August 2011. The launch of the Razr i smartphone didn’t prove to be a particularly significant financial success (solely judged by the fact that both T-Mobile and Orange are selling the phone for half its original selling price, seven months after it was launched. But out of nowhere, Motorola CEO has now confirmed that its next flagship smartphone would come before November 2013. The phone will have battery-friendly sensor technology and the phone will be one of many to be launched later this year. This couldn’t come any sooner; the company, which was once the benchmark by which other phone makers were measured, is no longer the behemoth it once was. But it leaves Google with a lingering dilemma. Come up with game-changing, mind-blowing products and your partners (Samsung et al.) might criticize you for being too aggressive. Unleash a range of sub-par, also-ran devices and you not only risk enraging some of your shareholders but also endangering your status as one of the brightest tech companies in the world and turning a $12.5bn acquisition into a very expensive mistake.
So, Samsung launched the Galaxy S4 Mini and just like the other three mainstream Minis it unleashed earlier, the Galaxy Mini, Galaxy Mini 2 and the Galaxy S3 Mini, it turned out to be an underwhelming product even if Samsung hasn’t yet announced the suggested retail price. In a nutshell, the Galaxy S4 Mini looks like an improved version of the Galaxy S2 but on closer look, the device has more in common with the Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 than with the Galaxy S4. They share the same screen resolution, the same amount of system memory, onboard memory, camera resolution (front and rear) and thickness, the same Android version and the same number cores. A better name for the S4 mini would have certainly been the Galaxy Mega 5.8 Mini, which in the hindsight doesn’t make any sense. The Galaxy S4 Mini will be formally presented at an event on 20 June in London and we will be reporting from there. In the meantime, you can read our review of the full-sized Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone here.
Windows 8 went on sale last October, just seven months ago and already Microsoft is planning for its first major update, one what is likely to be launched well before its first anniversary and will be called Windows 8.1 (formerly called Windows Blue). In comparison, the first service pack for Windows 7 was announced 16 months after its general availability. Windows Blue will come with some major changes including the re-introduction of the much-maligned “Start” button, a newer SkyDrive application and Internet Explorer 11 with native support for WebGL. We already know that Windows 8.1 will be available as a free update (and uses a similar naming convention to Apple’s MacOSX) and will be available on 26 June just in time for Microsoft’s TechEd developer conference. As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, “We can’t help but wonder whether Microsoft’s decision to identify Windows Blue as a distinct entity from Windows 8 is not a ploy to emulate what Apple has done with Mac OS X and move to an annual product cycle (while maintaining the monthly security updates/patch Tuesdays) with a couple of free major updates between two paid ones.”