Orange San Diego Launches
Although both Orange and Intel have been showing off preproduction versions of the Santa Clara smartphone for months, this week saw the official launch of the new handset. Despite the longstanding Santa Clara moniker, at the launch it was revealed that the official name for the phone would be the Orange San Diego - the marketing bods didn't have to look too far for inspiration, given that the two cities are only a few hundred miles apart.
The new name wasn't the biggest surprise of the launch though, that honour went to the official pricing of the new phone. Orange announced that the new handset would be available contract-free on pay-as-you-go for £199, and if you look around a bit, there's some cash-back to be had on that price too.
The San Diego might not be a headline grabbing, flagship handset in the same mould as the Apple iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy S3, but considering either of those will cost you £500 without a contract, the San Diego looks like a real bargain.
Of course the stand-out feature is the fact that the San Diego has in Intel platform inside it. These days it's something of a novelty for a smartphone to ship with anything other than an ARM variant CPU, so the Intel Medfield platform inside the San Diego will bring some welcome variety to the marketplace.
Make no mistake though, despite the Intel hardware, the San Diego is a mid-range smartphone, so if you're looking to impress your iPhone or Galaxy S III touting friends, you might want to look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for a fully featured and fast smartphone at a great price, off-contract, the San Diego is well worth a look.
Next week I'll be meeting with a couple of Intel engineers who worked on the Medfield platform, so check back for the full lowdown on the latest smartphone hardware, and what Intel has in store for the future.
Watch out MacBook Air!
With the annual Computex technology show just days away, some of Taiwan's biggest manufacturers decided to unveil new products in advance of the show. One such company was Gigabyte, which clearly couldn't contain itself and had to tell the world about its new X11 Ultrabook.
Gigabyte held a press conference on Tuesday, and of course, ITProPortal was there to report from the event. Gigabyte's X11 Ultrabook has a carbon fibre chassis, which not only makes it strong, but also makes it the lightest Ultrabook in the world. The company quotes the X11's weight at 975g, but our man on the ground slapped an X11 onto a set of industrial scales and was surprised to see a reported weight of only 973g. It's not often that you find a manufacturer's claim bettered, but in this case, it looks like the X11 is lighter than even Gigabyte thought.
Unsurprisingly, the X11 is an 11.6in Ultrabook, and that screen sports a resolution of 1,366 x 768, just like Apple's MacBook Air, which must be the X11's main competitor. There's an Intel Ivy Bridge CPU, backed up by 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD - pretty much what you'd expect.
There's no doubt that the X11 looks like a very nice bit of kit, and when you consider that Gigabyte also manufactures the Orange San Diego smartphone, it looks like the Taiwanese company is trying to follow in Asus' footsteps and build a portfolio of desirable consumer electronics products.
Price estimates indicated something between $999 (£650) and $1,299 (£845), but as always, those should be taken with a pinch of salt. There's no definite word as to whether the X11 will make it to the UK, but if it does, it will need to be noticeably cheaper than a MacBook Air, if Gigabyte wants to steal sales from Apple.
I'll be badgering Gigabyte for a review sample over the coming weeks, so check back to find out just how the X11 stacks up to the MacBook Air and all the other Utrabooks out there.
Congratulations to Martin Lewis
I get quite tired of seeing companies sold at ridiculously inflated prices. When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, I couldn't help but feel that the former was trying to justify its own impending valuation by valuing Instagram so highly. Seeing how things have played out, I feel somewhat vindicated in that opinion, as Facebook's share value has dropped considerably since its initial offering.
I was therefore very happy to see that Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert website had been purchased by MoneySupermarket for a not insignificant £87 million! I know that seems like a lot of money, and, quite frankly, it is a huge amount of money, but I also feel that MoneySavingExpert is worthy of that valuation.
First and foremost, MoneySavingExpert is a great website. As someone who's worked in online publishing for a very long time, I know that a massive amount of information on the Internet is badly presented, badly written and often downright wrong. But MoneySavingExpert is one of those rare sites that I have used again and again over the years, and one that I have recommended to countless individuals.
When Lewis created his financial advice site, he knew that there would always be people looking for clear, unbiased information about savings, tax, borrowing and just about anything else in the personal finance sector. He was also smart enough to embrace the user-generated-content stream that grew within his forum, whereby the majority of questions are actually answered by other regular readers. Community is a term that's thrown around too freely when it comes to websites, but MSE has one of the most helpful and prolific communities I've seen anywhere.
Obviously, as with anyone who tries to build a business, Lewis wanted to make money. But it was his total transparency that made users of the site want to help him earn cash - on every page where there's a link that earns money for MSE, Lewis offers a second link that doesn't - it's up to the reader to choose whether to help the site or not.
Clearly most readers were happy to help, since MoneySavingExpert was pulling in just under £16 million of annual revenue. That revenue came courtesy of the 39 million unique readers that the site receives per month, which in itself is an amazing achievement for any website.
Lewis has already announced that he will be donating £10 million of the proceeds to charity, with £1 million going directly to Citizens Advice - an organisation designed to give consumers free, unbiased advice on almost any subject. He will also continue to run the site for the foreseeable future, with MSE remaining a completely separate entity from MoneySupermarket.
What this deal does prove is that you really can become successful by trying to help others, and that the entrepreneurial spirit can still reap big rewards in the UK. Well done Martin and try to keep MSE as unbiased and helpful as it has always been.