Nintendo’s next hot retro console, the SNES Classic, is going to be available for pre-order late in August at a number of retailers, the company confirmed today. It’s good news for people left wondering when the console pre-orders would arrive – including the many disappointed fans who thought they’d secured one from Walmart last week only to have their order canceled.… Read More
Snap — the makers of Snapchat — had confidentially filed for its IPO late last year, but it looks like we’ll be getting a look at the inner guts of the company’s financials and workings as early as late next week. The company will file publicly for its initial public offering late next week, according to a new report from Kara Swisher over at Recode. This is yet… Read More
Apple is said to be working on two curved display iPhone models for the “second half of next year,” according to a source speaking to Bloomberg, with a likely release planned for the third quarter, as well as better touchscreen sensors that introduce fine pressure sensitivity for later devices to be introduced after that.
These new iPhones for 2014 would come in 4.7 and 5.5-inch flavors, according to the report, meaning that Apple would be introducing not one, but two different models at the same time, in theory. We’ve seen reports of Apple working on different models of large-screen devices in the past, including one from the Wall Street Journal that suggests it’s been working on different tests of devices with screen sizes between 4.8 and 6 inches. This is the first time we’ve really heard firm information about a possible release date for said devices, from a source as generally reliable as Bloomberg. A Japanese iOS rumor site claimed a September launch for a large-screen iPhone late in October, however, and two reliable analyst sources predict a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 bound for stores in late 2014.
Apple also introduced precedent for doing two models of new iPhone at once this year with the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, so the idea that it could do so again in the future makes some sense. But two new larger-screened devices at once does seem like a stretch – though if Apple retained an iPhone 5c as its third, budget device and added two more to the mid-tier and high-end range, that might allow it to do so without adding crazy complexity to its product lineup.
The sensor developments are potentially more interesting to those who find the current screen size of the iPhone adequate; true pressure sensitivity (currently, some crude extent of that is possible via the iPhone’s accelerometer) would make drawing and handwriting applications on the iPhone and iPad much, much better. Apple could sell the devices as professional-level artistic devices if it introduces those kinds of features, in addition to just making things better for everyday users who want to jot notes and doodle, for example, or perform minor photo touch-ups.
It’s very early days to make any kind of judgement about the likely accuracy of these claims, but the source gives it some weight. Apple’s iPhone joining the ranks of bigger-screened devices definitely makes sense as a next move for the lineup, but curved glass manufacturing also seems quite expensive at this point for Apple to be considering launching two new devices with that feature at once.
After experiencing a roller coaster pre-production period, the folks over at FormLabs have announced that the Form 1 3D-printer is entering into full production.
The “large majority” of Kickstarter orders set for delivery by the end of April. They’ve purchased enough components to build out over 1,000 Form 1 3D printers.
The company first launched the Form 1 on Kickstarter to an awesome reception, scoring over $ 2.9 million in pre-orders after asking for a mere $ 100k.
But before the company could begin production, it was hit with a patent infringement lawsuit from 3D Systems, which also accused Kickstarter of promoting the allegedly infringing product.
FormLabs pressed on, and is now ready to begin full production of the 3D printer.
FormLabs claims that it can offer better accuracy than competitive 3D printing offerings, like the Makerbot, at a similar price.
According to FormLabs, the team will begin by vigorously testing the first small batch of Form 1 printers. After that, the company plans on setting exact ship dates.
You may have noticed Microsoft is being especially bullish about its prospects in the smartphone market right now — following yesterday’s Windows Phone 8 OS launch. It’s even trying to talk up its current marginal position – spinning that it’s on comfortable, familiar ground here, and even directly comparing the launch of WP8 to the launch of an underdog Xbox in a market dominated by PlayStation and Nintendo.
Speaking at a press briefing in the UK today, UK Microsoft marketing exec Brett Siddons said the Sisyphean challenge facing Redmond — to transform Windows Phone from an also-ran into a serious, top-three smartphone contender — is actually not so unsurmountable after all, because Microsoft has been here before, and thus knows how to walk this path.
Formerly group marketing manager at the Xbox group, Siddons has just moved over to Windows Phone — as the consumer marketing lead in the UK. ”With Xbox when we came into market there were two big well-established competitors: in PlayStation and Nintendo,” said Siddons. “A lot of people said to us when we launched Xbox, you’re coming into this market too late. But of course it gave us an opportunity to look at what was well established and to do something different with Xbox. And obviously now we’re sitting as market lead.”
With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is again leveraging the luxury of being last, said Siddons, and this time the twin peaks it’s hoping to summit are Android and iOS. ”I really wanted to get into Windows Phone… I really feel now is an opportunity for us to deliver something brand new to the market.”
Siddons bypassed the fact that WP8 is not actually a fresh launch: having launched Windows Phone 7 back in 2010, and failing to roll that rock up hill, Microsoft is once again retracing its steps to make a second pass at the mountain range (with its reboot of its reboot).
Ignoring all this recent history, Siddons instead went on to flesh out the advantages Redmond reckons it has this time around, claiming: ”Over the last five years the smartphone really hasn’t changed. If anything, with more and more apps coming on board, it’s actually got more complicated for the average consumer to be able to manage that device. We’re actually asking the consumer to work harder to get that information out of multiple sources and that’s where we think we have the big, big opportunity with Windows Phone — where we actually make the phone work harder for the individual. To be able to give them that information that’s personal and relevant for them.”
Again, though, being different to Android and iOS is not a new thing with Windows Phone 8. So if being different didn’t help ferry the WP7 boulder up the hill the first time around, why should it propel WP8 upwards today?
What is different this time around is the tandem launch of the WP-inspired Windows 8 — which not only looks and feels like Windows Phone, but the two OSes are unified, built on a shared kernel, and interoperable. This is a key difference that will help Microsoft familiarise consumers with the Windows Phone UI through its Windows PCs, apps and services — and effectively do the selling for them.
As Ovum analyst Nick Dillon put it to me yesterday at the WP8 launch, Microsoft now has one story to sell — a story the mobile carriers can buy into and get behind, in a way it never did with WP7. So the coming together of Microsoft’s desktop and mobile narratives looks likely to make WP8 much less of an uphill sales slog.
Microsoft’s UK marketing director also made this point today: ”Windows 8 has launched, and for the first time the interface, the start screen that you had on a Windows Phone is now going to be across millions of devices — so it will become much more familiar to people in a very short space of time. That will be a huge catalyst for us.”
Millions of Windows users tapping away on a Windows Phone style interface — that’s exactly the sort of advantage that could move Microsoft up smartphone mountains.
No wonder Ballmer is feeling bullish.
[Image: Dreaming in the deep south]