Google Unveils New Nexus 7 Tablet

Google Inc on Wednesday showcased a new-generation, slimmer Nexus 7 tablet that the Internet search company hopes will expand its presence in consumer hardware, and ensure that its online services remain front-and-center on mobile devices.

The latest Nexus 7, featuring a Qualcomm Inc Snapdragon processor and a higher display resolution, on July 30 will be priced at $229 for a basic version with 16 gigabytes of storage. The original year-old tablet started at $199 for an 8 gigabyte version.

Sundar Pichai, head of Android and Chrome software, said on the sidelines of an event to launch the tablet that the Internet company would make a profit off the new product. The first-generation Nexus 7, which marked its initial foray into mobile electronics, was financially a break-even product for the company, analysts have said.

“The new Nexus 7 is designed so that it’s profitable for all the people involved. Retailers, us, everyone included,” Pichai told Reuters.

Also on Wednesday, Google revived an earlier attempt to get into online video streaming with the introduction of the “Chromecast” — a two-inch $35 gadget that will plug into the back of televisions and let users stream YouTube and Netflix videos via their smartphones.

The announcements come a week before Google’s Motorola division is expected to unveil the Moto X smartphone in New York. The Moto X represents the first phone Motorola has developed since it was acquired by Google for $12.5 billion in May 2012, and is central to relaunching the venerable brand into a highly competitive mobile market.

Google and other traditionally non-hardware companies such as Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp have begun making inroads into mobile devices as consumers increasingly access the Web on the go. It introduced its first tablet in June 2012, hoping to replicate its smartphone success in a hot market presently dominated by Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Apple Inc’s iPad.

Google, which gets the lion’s share of its revenue from online and mobile advertising, wants the aggressively priced Nexus tablets to be a hit as more users would mean increased exposure for its ads.

Its Nexus line, which include smartphones and tablets made by partners like Samsung Electronics and HTC, also serve as references for manufacturers across the globe adopting its Android mobile software system.

THE NEXUS Q RETURNS?

On Wednesday, Pichai told reporters that, since its launch, the Nexus 7 line alone has accounted for greater than 10 percent of all Android tablets sold.

The company was on track to see 70 million total Android tablet activations in 2013, versus a pace of about 10 million at the end of 2012, he said.

Its new Chromecast gadget, however, will employ a stripped-down version of the Chrome operating system, now used primarily for laptop computers.

The device, which will be sold from Wednesday, invited comparisons to the short-lived “Nexus Q”, which also promised to stream consumers’ digital music and other content directly to their home entertainment systems. But Google indefinitely postponed the launch of the Q before it went on sale last year, following a spate of negative reviews.

Chromecast will allow users to employ their smartphones almost like remote controls, letting them play and control video applications without using a traditional remote.

“The Nexus Q was part of our effort to do the same thing. We didn’t launch that, but a lot of learnings,” Pichai told Reuters after the event. “Nexus Q was all about how you send content, so that was an inspiration for this.”

Secondary School Students Get Free Computer Tablets In Osun

The government of Osun state on Tuesday commenced the distribution of free computer tablets otherwise known as ‘Opon Imo’ (tablet of knowledge) to students in the state’s Senior Secondary Schools.

The distribution kicked off at Ataoja School of Science in Osogbo, the state capital, where about 387 students in SS 2  were given the mobile device.

The ‘Opon Imo’ contains apps such e-book library, integrated test zone and 17 virtual classroom subjects to enhance e-learning for the students.

The tablet with its technology enhanced learning platform  is expected to complement efforts of the teachers and students for better performance in learning and teaching.

Opon Imo also contains past questions and additional traditional subjects, as well as the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) syllabuses.

Speaking to Channels Television, elated students and teachers admitted that the Opon Imo will go a long way in preparing the students for external examinations.

The government has said the learning device would be given to students in SS 1 to SS 3 in all its secondary schools.

Google and LG launch Nexus 4 and larger Nexus tablet

Google in conjunction with South Korean company LG has added another feather of achievement unto what they had in terms innovations as the companies unveiled officially, the much talked about Nexus 4 smartphone and a larger version of the 7-inch tablet that the company began selling in July under the Nexus brand on Monday, despite the cancellation of the Google event due to the hurricane Sandy plaguing the United States.

The Nexus 4 smartphone is being made by LG Electronics and features an update to Google’s Android 4.2 system, also known as Jelly Bean.

The larger Nexus tablet is being made by Samsung Electronics Co. and features a 10-inch display screen, about the same size as Apple Inc.’s top-selling iPad.

The Nexus 10 tablet with 16 gigabytes of storage will sell for $399. That’s $100 less than the comparable version of the latest iPad.

The Nexus goes on sale in Google’s online store Nov. 13.

Intel unveils 27-inch all-in-on desktop tablet

It was called a developers’ conference by Intel and it was hosted in San Francisco little did the computer world know that it was about to be bombarded with a new invention by the chip-making company as it was used as a medium to unveil a desktop computer prototype that has a display that can double as a 27-inch tablet with a four-hour battery life.

Slate producers like Samsung, with its Galaxy Note II, and Apple, with its expected iPad Mini, are down-sizing the tablet’s classic 10-inch form factor. But Intel must think that there’s room to push the form at the other end of things.

Called the Adaptive All-In-One, the 2.5-inch thick unit has 1080p HD resolution and has the guts of a personal computer, including optical drive, input/output ports and high-performance graphics processor. On the desktop, it plugs into a dock that charges its battery and connects it to peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse. Its touchscreen can be used both on and off the dock.

The display panel weighs 14 pounds. That may have been portable in the days of the Osborne I, but it’s not very portable by today’s standards. Intel recognizes that deficiency and is working with screen and battery manufacturers to slim down the units.

All-In-One computers aren’t anything new, and in recent times they’ve been gaining popularity. Apple has been flogging the form for years with its iMac line and just this week HP introduced a slick new addition to the category, the SpectreONE.

Some tablet makers have also dipped their toes in the detachable screen waters. For example, Asus’ Transformer tablet line has a dock that transforms the slates into a mini-laptop.

With ideas like the Adaptive All-In-One, Intel hopes to pump some excitement into a PC market that seems to get more moribund with each passing quarter. For the quarter ending in June, for instance, Gartner reported that PC shipments declined 5.7 per cent. IDC’s estimates for the period were even worse: a 10.6 per cent drop.

The traditional desktop is a box that’s beige, black, or brown and most likely it’s under the desk but now, the adaptive all-in-one in terms of design will surely change the way that people interact with their desktop PCs.

Galaxy phones power Samsung to record $5.2 billion profit

Samsung Electronics posted a record $5.2 billion quarterly profit as it shifted over 20,000 Galaxy smartphones an hour in January-March, outselling Apple’s iPhone in a duel for the lucrative high end of the mobile industry.

An employee poses with Samsung Electronics' Galaxy phones at a store in Seoul

Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s South Korean group, whose $190 billion market value is 11 times that of Japanese rival Sony Corp, sold 93.5 million handsets in the first quarter – more than one in every four sold – according to Strategy Analytics, overtaking long-time handset leader Nokia.

The total included 44.5 million smartphones, giving Samsung a 30.6 percent share of the high-end market. Apple’s sales of 35.1 million iPhones gave it a 24.1 percent share.

“Samsung and Apple are out-competing most major rivals and the smartphone market is at risk of becoming a two-horse race,” said Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

CLSA analyst Matt Evans said in a recent report that “Samsung’s smartphone success in the first quarter was the flip-side of Nokia’s disappointment.”

The near duopoly in high-end smartphones is unlikely to come under much threat this year or next, according to Bernstein analysts, and Samsung will look to keep that momentum going next week with the launch in London of a third generation of Galaxy S, hoping to boost sales ahead of the summer Olympics, where the group is among the leading sponsors.

“The Galaxy S 3’s specifications are expected to be sensational and it’s already drawing strong interest from the market and consumers,” said Brian Park, an analyst at Tong Yang Securities.

The new Galaxy will be powered by Samsung’s quad-core microprocessor, which the company hopes to see used in handsets sold by Nokia, HTC and Motorola, as well as Apple, its biggest customer for components.

“We anticipate very strong demand for the Galaxy S 3,” Robert Yi, Samsung’s senior vice president and head of investor relations, told analysts. “When there’s strong demand in the market, we don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of marketing dollars to promote sales.”

While Apple said this week that iPhone 4S sales boosted its quarterly revenue in China five-fold, there are more Samsung handsets than Apple phones in the world’s biggest mobile market. [ID:nL2E8FOGMO] [ID:nL3E8FP59X] Samsung said it increased its China smartphone market share to just above its global average, suggesting it took more than 30 percent share of a market where, unlike Apple, it already has deals with all three big telecoms operators.

Samsung’s quarterly handset division profits nearly tripled to 4.27 trillion won ($3.8 billion), accounting for 73 percent of total profit, and operating margins jumped to 18.4 percent from 12 percent in the preceding quarter on strong sales of the Galaxy S and the Note phone/tablet, the surprise consumer hit of recent months.

MOBILE WARNING

In a sign that high-end smartphones are where the mobile action, and money, is, Foxconn International Holdings warned of a deepening first-half loss on weak orders. While its Taiwanese parent assembles iPads and iPhones, Foxconn International mainly puts together handsets for Motorola, Sony and others, indicating a wider gulf between high-end smartphones and other mobile devices.

Samsung, the world’s top technology firm by revenue, is also outmuscling Japanese rivals in TVs and memory chips.

January-March operating profit nearly doubled to 5.85 trillion won and was up from 5.3 trillion won in the previous quarter, sending Samsung shares to a life high of 1.38 million won ($1,200). The shares closed up 2.5 percent.

Tong Yang’s Park said Samsung’s handset earnings growth may slow later this year, with the likely third-quarter launch of Apple’s iPhone 5, “but the recovery of chips and displays will more than offset potential drops, sustaining earnings momentum.”

Samsung competes with Sony and LG Electronics in TVs, Toshiba and SK hynix in chips and LG Display in flat screens.

THE CHIPS ARE DOWN

Profits from semiconductor sales more than halved to 760 billion won, the lowest in nearly three years, hit by tumbling computer memory chip prices. The division also lost some production as Samsung converted a NAND memory chip line to system chips to meet growing demand for mobile processors.

Samsung’s TV and home appliance business boosted profits sharply to 530 billion won from a razor-thin 80 billion won a year ago, as it sold more high-end models such as its LED-backlit LCD flat-screen TVs and Internet-enabled sets.

Samsung, the world’s biggest TV maker, and local rival LG Electronics are among the few global TV manufacturers making money and winning market share on the back of sleek design, crisp displays and new technologies, such as 3D and organic light emitting display (OLED) sets. Sony, Panasonic and Sharp, Japan’s top TV firms, expect to have lost a combined $21 billion in the business year just ended.

Samsung will also merge its Samsung Display liquid crystal display (LCD) unit with its OLED production unit Samsung Mobile Display to create the world’s biggest flat-screen producer. The new unit, which will also take in what is left of a dissolved LCD venture with Sony, will launch in July, and Samsung hopes it will shift focus from to OLED from LCD and maintain a lead over Japanese rivals.

Samsung’s OLED unit contributed around 400 billion won of profit in the first quarter, more than offsetting losses from the LCD operation.

REUTERS

Dell sees room to challenge Apple in tablets

A growing dissatisfaction among office workers with the clunky computers their employers force them to use, in contrast to the sleek Apple devices many have at home, could yet benefit incumbent suppliers like Dell, a top Dell executive said.

As Apple’s third-generation iPad went on sale on Friday, accompanied by the now traditional scenes of fans queuing round the block , Dell’s chief commercial officer Steve Felice said the tablet market was still wide open.

Dell ditched its previous attempt at cracking the global tablet market, the Streak, last year. It was based on Google’s Android operating system software.

Now Dell is planning a fresh assault with the advent of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating platform, which is expected later this year and will have a touch interface that works across desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.

“We’re very encouraged by the touch capability we are seeing in the beta versions of Windows 8,” Felice told Reuters in an interview in London, adding that Dell may also make Android tablets again.

“We have a roadmap for tablets that we haven’t announced yet. You’ll see some announcements.. for the back half of the year,” he said. “We don’t think that this market is closed off in any way.”

Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and possibly Nokia are also planning Windows 8 tablets.

Felice said that Dell’s relationships with its thousands of business customers gave it an advantage over Apple, whose gadgets can cause headaches for IT departments because they operate on different systems.

As iPads and iPhones have become popular from the boardroom down, corporate technology chiefs have been increasingly forced to accept the fact that employees will use their own devices.

“On the commercial side there are a lot of concerns about security, interoperability, systems and device management, and I think Dell is in the best position to meet those,” Felice said.

He added that iPads also left much to be desired in terms of processing power and ease of typing. “When people put their computer to the side and take their iPad with them to travel, you see a lot of compromises being made.”

Dell has also just launched a so-called ultrabook, a high-end notebook that is light and thin but still at least as powerful as a regular laptop. The XPS 13 costs about $995.

“The demand has been excellent since we launched this product just a week ago,” Felice said. “It is a fantastic product and shows our commitment to the PC space. We like the PC space. We are extremely committed to it.”

Dell, the world’s third-biggest computer maker after HP and Lenovo, has also been expanding its services offering to reduce its dependence on sales of computers, where margins are being squeezed and growth is slowing.

Taking Mac and iPad sales together, Apple sold more computers last year than any of the top PC makers.

Asked whether he envied Apple’s ability to produce such coveted objects, Felice said: “We come at the market in a different way … We are predominantly a company that has a great eye on the commercial customer who also wants to be a consumer.”

“In the areas where we come at the market, we think we are a coveted brand.”