An often irreverent look at this week's other, curiously mobile-centric news ...
Not News: Microsoft is Paying Developers to Create Windows Phone Apps
In its latest attempt to dump on tech companies not named Apple, The New York Times reports this week that Microsoft is approaching developers about creating apps for its Windows Phone Marketplace and helping spur development with free incentives such as free phones, app store showcase locations, advertising, and, in some cases (i.e., for the biggest, most important tier-one apps of all) even financial backing. It is, in the words of one particularly clueless blogger, "a nice bit of reporting." And it would be, I guess, if it were actually news or supplied any new information. Back in March, Mary Jo Foley wrote a post describing Microsoft's internal plans to "bridge the app gap" using a $10 million campaign that would extend over three years to "ringfence" apps like Pandora that aren't currently available on Windows Phone. It notes that when the tier-one companies won't comply, they'll simply finance competitors. But here's the thing. Helping developers finance apps isn't new, isn't unique to Microsoft, and isn't even bad business. In fact, it just makes sense. Nice bit of reporting, my butt. The New York Times can't write about technology without skewing the story, and this is just one example from today.
Nokia Lumia 900 Debuts to Positive Reviews
I think it's fair to say that the Nokia Lumia 900 is the first Windows Phone that has debuted to almost universally positive reviews, though of course virtually all reviewers point out the same issues—an exaggerated need for apps when in fact there are more than 80,000 Windows Phone apps, and a need for certain apps in particular while ignoring the fact that alternatives exist for almost all of them—but whatever. In the Windows Phone world, this is as close as we're going to come to "good news" this year, so we'll take it. When Apple backers from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal don't dismiss a Windows Phone handset out of hand—and I'd remind you that we're still waiting for the Wall Street Journal "review" of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview that occurred in late February—then something has indeed gone horribly right. Yes, there are questions, and yes there are concerns about the future (such as, "Will current handsets be upgradable to Windows Phone 8?"), but the Lumia 900, right now, is a shining star in what has otherwise been a void of silence. I'm eager to get my own, and no, Microsoft has still not come through with a promised review unit. But it's fine: I know the device is great, the OS is solid, and the platform is superior. And I'll review the Lumia 900 as soon as I can.
Nokia: We're Playing to Win
For all the doom and gloom talk around both Windows Phone and Nokia, generally by people who, frankly, just like Apple and would like to maintain the status quo, thank you very much, Nokia this week said that the war isn't over yet, sorry. "This industry is changing very fast, and Google and Apple would not be mentioned here four years ago," Nokia exec Hans-Peter Brøndmo said at an industry event in San Francisco this week. "We can’t flaunt a half million apps yet, but there is nothing I can’t find on this phone that I don’t need today. We’re playing to win. This a global market and a global stage. We have a good mix of cultural perspectives and an incredible opportunity to come back." Frankly, if anyone can pull this off, it's Nokia. And I'd also point out that there is a sharp difference in clarity, resolve, and strategy between this company and, say, Research In Motion (RIM) or HP. If you want to talk about spiraling the drain in the mobile market, I'd start with those guys.
Microsoft: Windows Phone 7.x Apps Will Run on Windows Phone 8
While Windows Phone fans are still wondering whether their current devices will be upgradeable to the Windows 8-based Windows Phone 8 system that will debut this October, Microsoft publicly answered one related question: Will current Windows Phone 7.x apps—and remember, there are more than 80,000 of them—run on Windows Phone 8? And the answer is yes, unsurprisingly. Hinted at in that post to the Windows Phone Developer blog is something I've been waiting to discuss for months, however. And that's this: The Silverlight-based Windows Phone developer environment is going away in Windows Phone 8, and is being replaced by WinRT-based APIs like those in Windows 8. Why? Two reasons. First, Silverlight is dead, cancelled internally by Microsoft. And second, Windows Phone 8 is Windows 8 for all intents and purposes. So, no surprise that developers will need to switch over to the WinRT APIs. But here's the thing: Silverlight rocks, and is super easy and elegant. Will WinRT be as good or, more important, as mature and full-featured? It had better be.
Samsung Will Reportedly Deliver Three Windows Phone Handsets This Year
When I exclusively revealed the US-based Windows Phone marketing plans for the first half of 2012 earlier this year, I mentioned a Windows Phone handset called the Samsung Mendel that was supposed to debut on AT&T back in March. That never happened, but a report from a Chinese tech blog called WPDang says it's coming soon. And the Mendel will be accompanied by two other previously unknown Windows Phone handsets, most likely running Windows Phone 8 and thus slated for October or November. The Mendel handset will ship earlier, in June now, and run the current Windows Phone version, the "Tango" 7.5 Refresh.
Larry Page Looks Back on One Year as CEO
Google's Larry Page has completed his first year as CEO of the company he cofounded, and he published an open letter this week looking back. In the letter, he discusses his decision to refocus Google on core services instead of hundreds of tiny side projects and the Google-wide UI makeover that he says makes the sites "cleaner and more consistent." Android, of course, has been a huge success for Google—Page says more than 850,000 new devices are activated every single day, though apparently only 17 or 18 of them are tablets, from what I can tell. And don't get me started on Google+, which I consider to be the bane of the Internet. Or, as Page calls it, "positive impact across the web." Point being, it's kind of a mixed bag. Google's business is still very much advertising, and it's unclear why anyone thinks of the company as anything other than an advertising company that offers other services—email, search, social networking—solely so that they can deliver you ads. When you think about it, that's the opposite of a technology company. In fact, it's arguably the opposite of "Don't be evil."
Samsung Posts Record Quarterly Profits, Sells 44 Million Smartphones
The world's biggest maker of smartphones got even bigger in the most recent quarter: Samsung earned a record profit of $5.1 billion for the quarter ending in March and sold an estimated 44 million smartphones, up 25 percent quarter over quarter. Samsung said the quarter was a "blowout" and that handset margins are now above 20 percent.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
I was down and out with a terrible cold for most of this week, and you can see the evidence of that on the two podcasts I recorded. Andrew Zarian and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast on Tuesday, and with Mary Jo Foley traveling, Leo Laporte and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast together on Thursday. As always, these episodes should be available soon, generally in both audio in video formats, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.
The Paul Thurrott Mobile App: Is That a Paul in Your Pocket?
If you haven't seen them, we're now offering Paul Thurrott: Pocket Tech apps for both the iPhone and Windows Phone, bringing all of my technical content to your favorite mobile device in a fun, on-the-go format. We'll have an Android version available soon as well, I'm told. And who knows? A Windows 8 app would make plenty of sense too.
Download for Windows Phone - Download for iPhone
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