This week was unfortunately dominated by the launch of the Apple iPhone 5. I say “unfortunately” because this event overshadowed all other news that occurred during the week. And what a packed week that was for technology!
Apart from Apple’s new phone, I also noticed that Google is becoming a bigger threat for some businesses, that Intel has laid down plans at its Developer Forum for the next decade and that the 4G revolution is now well and truly in motion after a few hiccups.
So here we have it, the iPhone 5, Apple’s follow-up to the iPhone 4S and the event that all news outlets were expecting, not because of the news per se, but because of the amount of traffic it generated. ITProPortal.com, like most other tech news websites, saw record a number of visitors lapping up every nugget of iPhone 5-related news.
As for the event and the phone itself, it was, as the French put it, “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose”, literally, “the more it changes, the more it looks the same”.
A sexier, thinner and lighter phone, a bigger screen, a higher resolution, a better camera, better audio, a faster processor, better graphics, better comms (LTE being the biggie here) and a new connector; these are the improvements iPhone 5 brings to the table compared to the iPhone 4S. It will surely sell tens of millions, but will that be enough to fend off the rising threat of Android and soon-to-come Windows Phone 8 smartphones? I'm not sure, especially as Samsung is now on a two-phone a year cycle and Apple is still stuck with an annual product release schedule.
Perhaps the biggest buzz surrounding the iPhone 5, at least for geeks, is the mystery shrouding its new system-on-chip, the A6, which some say contains the first Cortex-A15 core and the first Power VR Series 6 GPU (AKA Rogue), which if true, would be the first product on the market to feature these two ground-breakinhg technologies. Apple, is often seen as a tech laggard, but this would leapfrog its rivals in one generation.
This week also saw the launch of 4G in the UK as Everything Everywhere launched a new mobile phone network, its third one, called EE, which will be dedicated to 4G and will also sell fibre-optic landlines (taking on Virgin Media in the process).
EE also announced a number of 4G compatible smartphones with the biggest of them all launching the day after EE went live. The entity expects up to 20 million people to benefit from 4G coverage by the end of the year with numbers ramping up to 98 per cent of the UK population by 2014.
There are some of unknowns though. First, how much will the service cost and how much data allowance will be offered. Given that 4G is said to be several times faster than current 3G wireless connections, a 1GB or 2GB monthly allowance would look like an insult.
Then there’s the fact that 4G will only be available on a nationwide scale by the end of the year, something that might dissuade some customers, unsure about whether they will get the benefits of 4G immediately. A third aspect is the threat of a legal challenge by the main rivals of EE (Vodafone and O2) who believe Ofcom has handed a virtual monopoly to Everything Everywhere on the next generation of high end smartphones including the iPhone 5.
Google has become a growing threat for a number of businesses across the globe. Publishers, content producers and broadcasters felt the might of the world’s biggest search engine as it widened its portfolio of services. Now there’s another business category which is likely to feel the full force of Google’s growing hunger for results.
The affiliate business which includes everything from price comparison websites, affiliate networks and cashback websites, witnessed the launch of a new service - car insurance price comparison. This follows the credit card and bank account comparison services, which were launched last year following the acquisition of BeatThatQuote.com for nearly £40 million.
It is not the first time that a search engine has dipped its toes in the so-called CPL/CPA market. The previous iteration of Bing, MSN, did offer cashback in the US a few years ago (via a service called Live Search Cash Back) but failed to gain any significant momentum. Unlike traditional pay per click advertising, commissions are only paid when a transaction occurs or a lead is gathered. In the case of car insurance comparison, Google didn’t hesitate to place its own advertorial, bang in the middle of the screen, between the first results on the SERP and the paid for advertising slots.
The search giant, it seems, is gradually moving away from its “do no evil” mantra as its growing girth means that it cannot help but squash much smaller companies in its quest for more revenue streams.
IDF 2012 was attended by our Editorial Director, Riyad Emeran, who provided our readers with invaluable first hand analysis and reporting of the transformation that Intel is going through, not unlike Microsoft, when it faces a new raft of competitors.
Other than the usual hardware stories about new server processors, new features for Ultrabooks or the follow up to the Ivy-Bridge architecture, IDF also allowed us to take a peek at Intel’s vision of the world of tomorrow (hence the tag line, Sponsors Of Tomorrow). Unsurprisingly that future is more reliant on computers than ever before, but these will become extremely small and hardly visible with time.
This is a vision shared by Intel’s Brian David Johnson and he calls it Truly Ubiquitous Computing or Compute Zero, something that he says is likely to happen over the next decade. They will also be inherently connected, something Intel demonstrated via the Moore’s Law Radio, where the Wi-Fi component is integrated on the silicon itself.