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Enjoy the Superman reference? If not, I meant Phantom Zone, which means that Microsoft have killed the Zune, officially. Microsoft have removed all references to the Zune HD from its Zune site on Monday and later claimed that the removal was "a mistake". I don't think so, Microsoft. It looks as though they might have removed them early, and the removal was pushed mistakenly. A new support article on Microsoft Zune's support pages makes it very clear:
We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players. So what does this mean for our current Zune users? Absolutely nothing. Your device will continue to work with Zune services just as it does today. And we will continue to honor the warranties of all devices for both current owners and those who buy our very last devices. Customer service has been, and will remain a top priority for us.
This confirmation is the arrow to the heart of Zune, as they've failed to prove popular against Apple's iPod. Microsoft did kill off their original Zune-based devices earlier this year, which was the beginning of the inevitable end. Microsoft urged customers to purchase Windows Phone 7 devices for the Zune experience.
We're on the verge of something we've been eagerly wanting to drench our eyes all over for many months; some concrete substance straight from the horse's mouth - that being Apple's next generation iPhone 5! - Rest assured, we'll have our full scoop on that for you as soon as Apple winds things up (less than few hours away from the time of this post).
In the meantime, we can get a bit of a jump and form at least part assumption on it thanks to a new advertisement posted via Facebook from Apple accessories partner, LUXA2. Their newly posted advertisement shows off a bunch of differing themed iPhone 5 cases they have readied up ahead of launch to help give your iPhone 5 some added character.
Sprint is currently the number 3 wireless carrier in the US and to try and turn this around, they've ordered an astonishing $20 billion worth of next-gen iPhones. Sprint are hoping that the next-gen iPhone is that good, as this is a matter of do-or-die. Currently, Sprint have 52 million subscribers who are mostly pre-paid, but with $20 billion worth of next-gen iPhones, I'd be willing to wager that they want to get those customers off pre-paid and onto contracts.
This move allows Sprint to subsidize the $500 cost of each handset and should give Sprint a running start. 30 million-plus iPhones sure is a lot of iPhones...
Nokia's low-end phones account for 47 percent of the company's device-and-services earnings in the second quarter, so it would make sense that they'd design their own OS for the low-end phone market. The OS codenamed "Meltemi" is meant to cement Nokia's top dog status in emerging markets, where feature phones still remain king. Nokia of course still hopes that Windows Phone will round out a "three-horse race" against Apple with iOS and Google with Android.
Meltemi is a Linux-based operating system, with Meltemi the Greek word for "dry summer winds that blow across the Aegean Sea from the north".
Apple seem to change their mind quicker than most companies, and this news is no different. It looks as though Apple might be working on its own GPU technology which would see an Apple-based GPU that would power more than just desktop systems, but quite possibly any future iteration of their iOS-based devices. It might seem like a stretch, but the smartphone and tablet industry is moving more and more away from CPU-based designs to GPU-based designs.
As we see the industry move away and we have companies like NVIDIA making strides in the market, Apple will obviously want a piece of this pie. Apple would obviously not want to create its own CPU as that is quite the engineering effort, and it would be a copy cat design of another company like Intel, AMD or Arm. Graphics allows innovation in new and unusual ways - plus production can be offloaded to places like TSMC.
We have NVIDIA and AMD fighting in the DirectX corner, but an open graphics platform allows for much more flexibility - if you can be certain of what kind of hardware you're targeting. With Apple, there is no option, so it would be a very fixed/stable environment - this is perfect for introducing a slew of new and unusual features and methodologies in a GPU. It would be very different to anything else on the market, because of Apple's very tight grip of its environment.
Samsung has expanded its Galaxy Tab range with the introduction of the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. From the name, you would obviously guess its a 7-inch tablet, but it sports a PLS (Super Plane to Line Switching) display with a 1024 x 600 pixel display, running Android 3.2 Honeycomb and a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, which is looking to be the Exynos 4120. Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus also sports quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support and tri-band 3G with 21Mbps HSPA as well as two cameras.
First up there's a 2-megapixel, front-facing camera and a rear-facing 3-megapixel camera capable of taking 720p video. We also see 1GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery that is standard on all models. Honeycomb gets Samsung's splash of TouchWiz UI wonder, and size wise we get options of either 16 or 32GB. Both include dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS and Bluetooth. The 7-inch tablet is quite small, measuring in at 192.65 x 122.37 x 9.96 mm and weighs in at only 0.76 pounds, or just 12.16 ounces.
JK Shin, President and Head of Samsung's Mobile Communications Business chimes in with:
Samsung pioneered the seven-inch tablet market with the launch of the GALAXY Tab, marking an innovation milestone in the mobile industry. Building on the success of the GALAXY Tab, we're now delighted to introduce the GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus reloaded with enhanced portability, productivity and a richer multimedia experience.
Amazon has finally unveiled their Android-based tablet, which is now known as the Kindle Fire. The 7-inch, 1024x600 device will feature a heavily customized interface tailored around Amazon's services and starting at a surprisingly low price of just $200. In order to get to the sub $200 price point, Amazon have had to cull a few features from the Kindle Fire such as 3G access, a microphone and front/back cameras. Kindle Fire does however include Wi-Fi and a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, which is normally $79 per year.
What that means is, you'll get a taste of Amazon's collection of streaming video content and free or discounted shipping for your purchases at Amazon.com. Not only that, but you'll also gain access to the Android Appstore, Kindle books, magazines, and more - all stored for free through the Amazon Cloud Storage and synced between devices invisibly in the background. Whispersync now works with video content, so you can pick up where you left off in a movie or TV show even after switching devices.
Our Deal of the Day today is the woot.com - Motorola Xoom 32GB Tablet for $349.99 with $5 Shipping.
Offer: Factory refurbished, get one for just $349! While supplies last so hurry while it's still available.
MeeGo lives on! It breathes another day thanks to the Linux Foundation with their announcement that it'll be replaced with Tizen, a Linux-based, open-source OS. Samsung and Intel are collaborating to lead the development of the platform, with the LiMo Foundation - a consortium of companies including Panasonic Mobile Communications, NTT DoCoMo and SK Telecom among others. Tizen is said to support HTML5 and WAC-based apps and will be designed to run across a wide spectrum of devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-car infotainment systems.
The MeeGo project, seems to be on-board with the initiative, promising to "make sure that users of MeeGo can easily transition to Tizen", while assisting Meego developers as well. Tizen is expected in Q1 2012, with the first Tizen-powered devices set to hit the market in the middle of 2012.
Samsung is holding an event on October 11 that could be used as the unveiling for Google's Ice Cream Sandwich Android OS. Not only will Samsung executives be attending, but AllThingsD are reporting that Android chief himself, Andy Rubin, could be making an appearance at the event. The event is taking place in San Diego and features Samsung Mobile's standard "unpacked" name, but notes that it is the "Google Edition".
The obvious conclusion from this would be that we'll see the new version of Android shown off, and with Samsung doing the best in the market out of all Android smartphone makers, this would just make perfect sense. Ice Cream Sandwich is set to unify the phone and tablet versions of Android into a super-powerful, take-on-the-world mobile OS.