Apple overtakes Microsoft as biggest tech company

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Apple Inc, Microsoft

Apple Inc shot past Microsoft Corp as the world’s biggest tech company based on market value on Wednesday, the latest milestone in the resurgence of the maker of the iPhone, which nearly went out of business in the 1990s.
Apple’s shares rose as much 2.8 percent on Nasdaq on Wednesday, as Microsoft shares floundered, briefly pushing its market value above $229 billion, ahead of its longtime rival.
Both stocks ended down after a late-day sell-off, but Apple emerged ahead with a market value of about $222 billion, compared with Microsoft’s $219 billion, according to Reuters data.
Apple shares closed down 0.4 percent at $244.11 on Nasdaq, while Microsoft fell 4 percent to a seven-month low of $25.01.
Shares of Apple are worth more than 10 times what they were 10 years ago, as it has profited from revolutionizing consumer electronics with its stylish, easy to use products such as the iPod, iPhone and MacBook laptops.
The last time Apple had a higher market value than Microsoft was December 19, 1989, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.
Microsoft, whose operating system runs on more than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers, has not been able to match growth rates from its hey-day 1990s. Its stock is down 20 percent from 10 years ago.
Apple, which struggled for many years to get its products into the mainstream, resorted to a $150 million investment from the much larger Microsoft in 1997 in order to keep it afloat. At that time, Microsoft’s market value was more than five times that of Apple.
Microsoft still leads Apple in sales. In the latest quarter, Microsoft reported $14.5 billion in revenue compared with Apple’s $13.5 billion.
Cupertino, California-based Apple is now the second-largest company on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index by market value, behind energy behemoth Exxon Mobil Corp.

Microsoft ‘Project Pink’ slider phones revealed: Kin One and Kin Two

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Facebook, Google Buzz, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Social Networking, Technology, Twitter, YouTube

Turns out all the leaked photos of Microsoft’s “Project Pink” phones were real. Targeted squarely at young “social” chatters looking to share their every waking moment with the world, the Kin One and Kin Two boast slide-out QWERTY keypads, Zune media players, multi-touch displays, and more social networking tools than you could shake a stick at. No app store, though.
Set for release in the “beginning” of May exclusively on Verizon Wireless (no pricing details or exact release dates yet), the Kin One and Two look like a combination of the T-Mobile’s old Sidekick sliders (which were developed by a company now owned by Microsoft) and Motorola’s new Motoblur service, which pushes an endless stream of Twitter, Facebook, Windows Live, and MySpace updates to Moto’s Android phones.
While the two new Kins run on an OS that’s based on the “same core elements” as Windows Phone 7, they’re not actually Windows Phone 7 handsets; instead, they’re both powered by a custom, pared-down OS that emphasizes social networking, music, and content sharing.
Both Kins are slider phones, but their respective form factors are slightly different. Kin One is shaped more like an oval, with a compact QWERTY keypad, a 5-megapixel camera, an LED flash, and SD video recording; the Kin Two has more of a traditional rectangular shape with a larger keypad and display, an 8MP lens, and full-on 720p video recording.
main event, though, is something called the Kin Loop: a tiled mash-up of status updates from your Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter pals (similar to the stream of updates you’d see on Motorola’s Motoblur-enabled phones), contacts, email and SMS alerts, recent photos and videos, you name it.
Sitting at the bottom of the display is a little green dot, called the Kin Spot, that lets you quickly share photos, videos, Web pages, and location info with any of your contacts; basically, you just tap and drag the content you want to share onto the Spot, then tap again to choose one or more contacts, or just tap to share with all your Facebook, Twitter, and/or MySpace buddie.
Another cool feature reminiscent of the old, cloud-based Sidekick is the Kin Studio, a snazzy personalized Web page that automatically backs up all your Kin contacts, photos, videos, and messages online, complete with a timeline that lets you “relive” your Kin events for any given month, week, or day. Of course, Microsoft will have to be careful to prevent any of the online meltdowns that plagued Sidekick users in October.
Gizmodo fills in several of the details missing from the Microsoft press release, such as storage capacity (4GB for the Kin One, 8GB for the Two, not expandable), processor (Nvidia Tegra for both handsets), and the inclusion of Wi-Fi support. But note, you won’t be able to install any apps on the Kins whatsoever. Huh.
Of course, the crucial detail we’re missing here is a price tag. Speculation is that the handsets won’t cost any more than $150 with a two-year Verizon contract. But given the fact that the Kins won’t have an app store, I’m thinking more like $99 for the Kin Two, $49 for the One. (The phones will also arrive in Europe this fall via Vodafone.)

Windows Phone 7: An In-depth Look at the Features and Interface

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Technology

Windows Phone 7 adds new social networking and productivity features all within a clean and touch-friendly interface.
Microsoft took the wraps off of Windows Phone 7 Series (the official name for Windows Mobile 7) here Monday at Mobile World Congress. Slated to launch on handsets by holiday season 2010, Windows Phone 7 Series is a complete overhaul from previous versions of the OS.
Slick, Touch-Friendly User Interface
If you’re familiar with the Zune HD’s user interface, you’ll feel right at home with Windows 7. Microsoft hinted that the Zune and Windows Mobile teams were working closely and you can definitely see this relationship in Series 7. The menus and interface have the same fluid animations and clean typeface as the Zune HD’s.
The Quick Launch screen is a far-cry from the old Windows Mobile start screen. Large, colorful tiles serve as shortcuts to your most-used or favorite apps or Web sites. You can also place live tiles on the screen with links to your Facebook profile or friends.
These tiles are live, meaning if the content of the app or site is updated, the tile will update on your screen. So if you have a link to a friend’s Facebook profile on your Quick Launch screen, that tile will update when they change their picture. It is a bit creepy if you don’t know them very well, but cool nonetheless.
With a tap and drag, you can easily move them around in any order you like or press a broken heart icon to remove them from the screen. Swiping right takes you to a list of all of your apps. If you want to move one of your apps to your Quick Launch display, you simply press down on the app and select “add to quick launch.” When you’re in an app, you’ll see a row of other menu options at the top of the display. Like the Zune, you can “pan” through these menu items with a flick of your finger. If you want to go back to the previous menu, you simply hit the arrow key at the top of the interface.
Social and Productivity Hubs
The People Hub aggregates you friends from all of your social networks in three screens: Recent, All, What’s New. Recent will show you friends who have just updated their profiles or statuses while All will show you all of your friends. What’s new quickly aggregates status updates all into a single feed. You can also quickly share your own status update.
The Pictures Hub lets you see all of the pictures on your hub, your most recent pictures and what’s new with all of your friends. The phone will pick the latest pictures you uploaded or have taken with your phone. And, like the People Hub, What’s New in pictures shows your friend’s most recent picture uploads. The Pictures Hub allows you to easily share your own photos with your social networks.
The Office Hub lets you easily sync your documents between your phone and your PC. Office Hub comes with OneNote, for notetaking, Documents, and Sharepoint for presentation collaboration. Users will also have access to an Outlook Mail application which gives similar features, like flagging important e-mail, that you’d find on the desktop version.
Zune Player and Xbox Live Come to Windows Phones
Despite the rumors leading up to the conference, there was no “Zune Phone” announcement, but all Windows 7 phones will ship with the same music and video features as the Zune HD. Users will also be able to manage their music with the Zune PC software. Does this mean the death of the standalone Zune HD player?
If you’re an Xbox owner and want to keep tabs on your friends’ achievements, Windows 7 phones will come with a mobile version of Xbox Xbox LIVE games, Spotlight feed and the ability to see a gamer’s avatar, Achievements and gamer profile. Users will also be able to purchase games and apps easily from the Windows Marketplace as well.
Windows 7 phones will also ship with Bing Maps, which has some unique features that are on par with Google Maps. Bing Maps dynamically update with street-view photos, 3D graphics and directions. It also shows you real-time traffic updates and reviews of local businesses via Yelp.
Microsoft: More Control Over Hardware Partners
According to Microsoft, hardware partners will not be able to replace the Windows 7 UI. So if you’re a fan of HTC’s TouchFLO user interface, which runs over older versions of HTC Windows Mobile phones, you’re out of luck. It is a bit surprising that Microsoft has locked in the Windows 7 interface because one draw of the platform was the number of different flavors you could get it in.
Microsoft is also taking further control over the hardware side. All Windows Series 7 phones will ship with three hardware buttons: Home, Search, and Back. They’ll also all be capacitive touch-enabled with multitouch.
Microsoft’s hardware partners include Dell, HTC, Garmin ASUS, LG, Samsung, SE, Toshiba, HP and Qualcomm. NVIDIA, which provided the Tegra chip in the Zune HD hardware, is noticeably absent. Microsoft had no comment.
Microsoft plans on bringing Windows 7 phones to all four major U.S. carriers, but are working with AT&T and Orange more closely to bring full lines of Windows 7 phones to the carriers. Microsoft plans to have Windows phones in the market by the end of this year for the 2010 holiday season.

Google’s Big New Cloud Play: Should Microsoft Be Afraid?

Posted by: flirtations  /  Category: Applications, Google, Microsoft, Technology

Late last week, Google (GOOG) made another aggressive move to stay ahead of Microsoft (MSFT) in the online productivity tools space by acquiring DocVerse, a startup founded by two former Microsoft employees, known for tools that let users collaborate on Microsoft Office files on the Web.
Google nabbed the three-year-old, San Francisco-based DocVerse for $25 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. What Google gets in return is the technology to make Microsoft Office operate more like Google Docs.
DocVerse provides a 1MB plug-in to Office 2007 that allows users to edit and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents online and in real-time with all the features of the Office client versions intact.
Ironically, the acquisition gives Google the authority to let users access full-featured Office files in a Web-based environment before Microsoft does.
Google plans to add the DocVerse functionality to Google Apps for free, but it has not announced when that will take place. Yet one thing’s for sure: Google is giving Microsoft no breathing room in the race to bring cloud-based productivity tools to businesses. Just yesterday, Google unveiled an online store called Google Apps Marketplace, where enterprises can buy cloud-based applications designed to work with Google’s own apps.
A Body Blow to Microsoft
It’s worth noting that Microsoft already provides the same kind of online-collaboration capabilities as Docverse via its free Office Live Workspace service. But this is an offering that Microsoft has barely marketed, likely because with the upcoming Office 2010, arriving in June (May 12 for businesses), Microsoft will include Office Web Apps. These are free, stripped-down online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. If users want the full features of Office 2010 they will still have to buy the full Office 2010 desktop suite.
While Microsoft still has an undeniable lead in the productivity tool space, especially at enterprises, the latest moves by Google turn up the heat. Just as Steve Ballmer anounced Microsoft’s “all in” commitment to cloud computing last week, Google comes along and integrates online collaboration with Office docs through its own established cloud-based productivity suite and opens up a apps store for businesses.
“I’d say this [Google's Docverse buy] was a body blow to Microsoft,” says veteran industry analyst Roger Kay. “Microsoft has to respond as best it can, whether shipping Office 2010 earlier or pushing Office Web Apps more, or both.”
Chasing Google’s Web Apps
Office still remains Microsoft’s main cash cow, along with Windows. It generates 90 percent of the revenue for Microsoft’s business division. However, the Office suite faces a variety of growing threats, not only from Google Apps, but also from IBM (IBM) with LotusLive iNotes and Oracle (ORCL) with its newly announced “Cloud Office.”
“Google is always trying to outflank Microsoft,” Kay says. “There are a lot of benefits to a client-based collaborative system that synchs periodically via the cloud. Having it as an Office plug-in through Google Apps is pretty sweet.”
The Real Problem: Google Incompatibility with Office
Nevertheless, there is a flip side to Google’s purchase of DocVerse: It is an acknowledgement by Google that Office is the king of productivity apps and that incompatibility between Office and Google Docs has been a weakness.
Does DocVerse solve this weakness? No, writes PCWorld columnist David Coursey.
DocVerse is essentially an Office add-on that stores files in Google’s cloud, writes Coursey. This may help convince Office users to try Google Apps, but it doesn’t address the bigger problem of feature and file format incompatibility with Office.
“Limited compatibility with Microsoft Office is a major reason why many Google Apps free and paid customers prefer to use the e-mail and calendar features, but not the word processor, spreadsheet and presentation modules of Google Docs,” writes Coursey.
Still Early Going for Google Apps
For the time being Office still dominates at large enterprises. A November survey of 2,000 IT decision-makers by research firm Forrester revealed that 80 percent of companies surveyed support some version of Microsoft Office, and 78 percent have no plans for implementing an alternative to Microsoft Office.
This could change as Google continues to tighten its focus on online collaboration tools for businesses, says Forrester analyst Sheri McLeish. But, she emphasizes, it’s still early going for Google Apps.
“Yes, businesses are experimenting with Google Apps, but Google is still trying to sort out its apps and enterprise solution sets.”
McLeish adds it’s hard for most companies to make the business case to switch tools when users are comfortable and familiar with Office. “Google realizes this,” she says, “which is why it is resorting to acquiring a company that basically helps people work online with Office formatted documents.”
Clearly Google’s long-term goal is to chip away at Microsoft’s Office desktop suite dominance, but the DocVerse acquisition doesn’t move the ball too far down the field, says McLeish.
“I see this as a complement to Office apps, not a replacement technology,” she says

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