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Verizon Wireless is reportedly planning to open its own app store to try to compete with the Google Play Store on Android-powered devices. Android has around one billion users worldwide, which is why Verizon wants to offer a unique service to its wireless subscribers.
If true, it'd be a curious move by Verizon, as Google and Apple clearly dominate the app market, which is a multi-billion dollar industry. Customers spent $10 billion in Apple's App store in 2013, with Google sales figures unavailable - Google gives device manufacturers and wireless carriers 30 percent of revenue from apps sold, and Apple doesn't return anything to partners.
However, Google is cutting back revenue to carriers and hardware manufacturers, which is why Verizon hopes to step up and have a bigger influence in the app market. Verizon is the No. 1 wireless carrier in the United States and reportedly has the best network quality out of all four major carriers.
Electronics maker Samsung and bookstore Barnes & Noble recently launched the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, a 7-inch device including an HD display. The Nook 4 is available now with a $179 price tag after $20 instant rebate, including more than $200 in free content to help draw in customers.
The device includes a quad-core processor, 8GB storage, 3-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front camera, and runs Google Android 4.4 Kit Kat.
"The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is the most advanced Nook ever, delivering the great Nook experience our customers have come to love, with the high-performance tablet features they've asked for," said Michael Huseby, Barnes & Noble CEO, in a press statement. "We invite reading and entertainment fans to visit their local Barnes & Noble store to experience the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook."
Verizon Wireless has the best network quality out of the top four U.S. wireless carriers, according to a new report released by RootMetrics. Verizon and AT&T are extremely close in the rankings, with T-Mobile leapfrogging Sprint to capture the No. 3 spot.
The RootMetrics report indicated Verizon dominated testing, capturing overall network performance, network speed and network reliability. The company's wireless service seemed to perform well in metropolitan areas and at individual state levels, RootMetrics pointed out.
"Verizon has recaptured the top spot in speed, while AT&T has slipped a little," said Bill Moore, RootMetrics CEO, in an interview with CBS News. "Overall the companies are neck and neck. When it comes to reliability, AT&T is getting closer to parity with Verizon."
Amazon Fire Phone sales are being hampered due to exclusivity to the No. 2 wireless carrier, AT&T, according to a recent study released by Chitika Insights. Instead of directly monitoring the overall number of users, Chitika tracked the amount of Web activity through the phone, studying "tens of millions" of ad views.
Industry analysts noted that limiting itself to just one of the four major U.S. wireless carriers would have an impact on sales. It appears Amazon was ready to make the Fire Phone a long-term project and didn't expect immediate success with its introductory device.
Meanwhile, the LG G3 smartphone saw a rise in sales, especially when Verizon Wireless and Sprint introduced the device to their subscribers. Amazon likes to keep sales figures secret from the media and general public, and it will be difficult to verify Chitika's research, but it wouldn't be surprising to hear Fire Phone sales grinding away.
Apple should unveil the next generation iPhone next month, with expecations of selling over 10 million units in the first week, according to a new RBC note to investors, reports Business Insider.
RBC analyst Amit Daryanani said: "Most supply chain data is pointing towards Apple gearing up to ramp 70-80 million iPhone 6 units across the two form factors (4.7"/5.5"). This is a notable uptick from last year when the supply chain ramped 50-60 million units". Daryanani also believes that Apple will sell over 10 million iPhone 6 units in the first week of its launch, compared to the 9 million iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C units combined when the company launched them last year.
We should expect to see two iPhone 6 smartphones unveiled, the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch versions. The increased demand will come from Apple finally giving users something they've been asking for: a bigger screen, even though it'll go against previous marketing from the company, where it said that the 4-inch screen on the latest iPhones was perfect for the human hand, as a bigger screen would see users not reach the upper parts of the screen with their thumbs.
During an event in New York City overnight, Sharp unveiled its new Aquos Crystal smartphone, which will hit Sprint and its pre-paid Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile brands. It's a mid-range smartphone with some slightly redeeming features, such as its barely there bezel.
The Sharp Aquos Crystal has a 5-inch 1280x720 - or 720p - display, with barely any bezels at the top and sides. Inside, we have a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of flash storage, and a 2040mAh battery. On the back and front we have an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, and 1.2-megapixel camera up front. For the software side of things, we have Android 4.4.2 KitKat.
Sharp has also provided Harman's LiveStage, which "adds dimension to the sound" according to Android Central, who went hands-on with the device in NYC. There's also Clari-Fi technology which "improves digital sound quality by restoring all types of compressed digital music". If you want to get your hands-on the Sharp Aquos Crystal, it'll cost you $0 down on a 24-month contract of $10 on Sprint Easy Pay. Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile will be offering the smartphone for $149.99 plus tax.
Apple is preparing to launch not one, but two new flagship iPhones, with the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone to be announced next month. But what resolution should we expect the 'Retina' display to feature? According to Russian luxury modified iPhone outfit, Feld & Volk, the new 4.7-inch iPhone 6 has a resolution of 1704x960 - not even Full HD (1920x1080).
Feld & Volk took to the purported 4.7-inch iPhone 6 with a microscope, telling MacRumors that it does have a resolution of 1704x960. Then 9to5Mac reported from another reference to another resolution that still isn't Full HD, of 1472x828, in some recent Xcode 6 beta releases. Whatever happens, if these rumors are correct, Apple's flagship iPhone 6 (in both sizes) won't be featuring a Full HD resolution, which will see its competitors' marketing teams going into a flurry.
The current protests in Ferguson, Missouri, related to the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, has led to a rather curious debate: could kill switches help police authorities limit journalists and protesters to stop recording video using their smartphones and tablets?
"If the California bill were in place in Missouri, these officers might deploy the government kill switch alongside tear gas and rubber bullets, using the mandated technology to stop coordination between protesters, cut off access to outside information, and shut down video recordings that can deter police misconduct," said Jake Laperruque, Center for Democracy & Technology fellow, in a statement to the media.
It remains unknown if the police would have a realistic ability to turn off smartphones, as the authorities would essentially need to hack the phones. Instead, it's more likely the police would temporarily turn off wireless service in select areas, which is what the police did during protests in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011.
As expected this week from Sprint, the company unveiled cheaper pricing plans, including data-heavy family plans available for $160 per month. Sprint will also offer $350 to entice users away from rival wireless carriers, following several years that saw millions of customers abandon ship. A subscriber with four lines and 20GB of shared data will spend $160 per month under new Sprint pricing.
"Sprint is offering the best value to data-hungry consumers. Period," said Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO, in a press statement. "We are doubling the high-speed wireless data because today's customers rely so much on their smartphones and tablets. We make it simple and easy for wireless consumers to get the data they need at affordable prices to make their lives easier, more productive and enjoyable."
Sprint's failed bid for T-Mobile left company officials scratching their heads as to what's next - and this latest effort is aimed at better competing with Verizon Wireless and AT&T - while also competing with T-Mobile's disruptive marketing strategies. Four lines with the same data offerings would cost around $310 per month with Verizon and AT&T, and would cost $180 on T-Mobile.
One of the big features that rumors have been claiming Apple will have on the next iPhone is a screen covered with sapphire glass. The big benefit of sapphire glass is that it is nearly indestructible and said to only be able to be scratched using a diamond. However, one analyst is now saying that an iPhone with sapphire glass is unlikely to land this year.
The analyst that thinks sapphire glass is unlikely to land this year is Rod Hall. Hall noted that right now producing sapphire displays is about ten times more expensive than using Corning Gorilla Glass. Gorilla Glass is used to cover the LCD of many of the most popular smartphones on the market, including current iPhones.
Hall believes that Apple might produce a high-end line of iPhones in limited quantity with sapphire glass, but he doesn't believe those will come until next year. The home button for the iPhone 5S is covered with sapphire glass and the lens cover is made of the material as well.