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Monthly Archives: September 2011

$199 Kindle Fire: Android 2.3 with specific UI layer and cloud services

Follow-up: Kindle Fire with its $200 price pushing everybody up, down or out of the Android tablet market [Dec 8, 2011]

Suggested preliminary reading (although the 7″ Kindle Fire has an IPS screen, the 10″ coming in 2012 may have the FFS?):  Amazon Tablet PC with E Ink Holdings’ Hydis FFS screen [May 3, 2011]

Updates: Chimei Innolux to Supply Panels to 2nd-Gen. Kindle Fire [Dec 21, 2011]

Chimei Innolux Corp., the largest maker of thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels in Taiwan, recently won Amazon`s order for panels used in its Kindle Fire second-generation tablet PCs.

The company is already a panel supplier to Apple`s iPad 2, and the new order from Kindle Fire would further consolidate Chimei Innolux`s leading position in Taiwan in supplying tablet-use panels.

Industry sources said that tablet-PC panel is one of a few panel models still generating profits now for panel suppliers, so the new order is expected to have positive effects on Chimei Innolux`s operation.

The first-generation Kindle Fire was contract assembled by local Quanta Computer Inc. using panels supplied by Korean company LG Display and Taiwanese maker E Ink Holdings Inc. (formerly known as Prime View International Co., Ltd., who contracted local Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd., or CPT to produce the panels).

Hon Hai Group of Taiwan reportedly won the contract-assembly order for the second-generation Kindle Fire, allowing its affiliate Chimei Innolux to supply the panels.

Data compiled by market research firm iSuppli showed that Chimei Innolux ranked as the world`s No. 3 supplier of tablet-PC panels, trailing only LG Display and Samsung. With the new order from Amazon, Chimei Innolux`s market share is expected to rise further, industry sources said.

Jeff Bezos Owns the Web in More Ways Than You Think [Wired, Nov 13, 2011]

Bezos doesn’t consider the Fire a mere device, preferring to call it a “media service.” While he takes pride in the Fire, he really sees it as an advanced mobile portal to Amazon’s cloud universe. That’s how Amazon has always treated the Kindle: New models simply offer improved ways of buying and reading the content. Replacing the hardware is no more complicated or emotionally involved than changing a flashlight battery.

Competing Visions

The Kindle Fire isn’t just a rival to the iPad. It represents an alternate model of computing: It’s Apple’s post-PC vs. Amazon’s post-web.

Apple: Post-PC

Amazon: Post-Web

Device-centric

Cloud-centric

Own the OS

Forget the OS

Specialized apps

Specialized browser

Hardware is king

Content is king

Downloaded media

Streamed media

How Amazon Powers the Internet

It began as a way for Amazon’s engineers to work together efficiently. Now Amazon Web Services hosts some of the most popular sites on the web and is responsible for a significant amount of the world’s online traffic. Here’s a look at some of the companies that rely on Amazon’s cloud computing platform.

Customer

What it uses Amazon Web Services for

Foursquare

3 million check-ins a day

Harvard Medical School

Vast database for developing genome-analysis models

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

Processing of hi-res satellite images to help guide its robots

Netflix

Video streaming service that accounts for 25% of US Internet traffic

Newsweek/The Daily Beast

1 million pageviews every hour

PBS

More than 1 petabyte of streaming video a month

SmugMug

Storage for 70 million photos

US Department of Agriculture

Geographic information system for food-stamp recipients

Virgin Atlantic

Crowdsourced travel review service

Yelp

Data storage for its 22 million-plus reviews

Levy: You’ve leveraged Amazon Web Services by making use of it in your new Silk browser. Why?

Bezos: One of the things that makes mobile web browsing slow is the fact that the average website pulls content from 13 different places on the Internet. On a mobile device, even with a good Wi-Fi connection, each round trip is typically 100 milliseconds or more. Some of that can be done in parallel, but you typically have a whole bunch, as many as eight or more round trips that each take 100 milliseconds. That adds up. We’ve broken apart this process. If you can be clever enough to move the computation onto our cloud platform, you get these huge computational resources. Our cloud services are really fast. What takes 100 milliseconds on Wi-Fi takes less than 5 milliseconds on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud. So by moving some of the computation onto that cloud, we can accelerate a lot of what makes mobile web browsing slow.

Levy: Was it difficult to turn yourself from a retail company into a consumer electronics company?

Bezos: It’s not as different as you might think. A lot of our original approaches and techniques carried over very well. For example, we’ve always focused on reducing the time between order and delivery. In hardware, it’s the same principle. An example is the time between when we take delivery on a processor to when it’s being used in a device by a customer. That’s waste. Why would we own a processor that’s supposed to go into a Kindle Fire that’s not actually in a customer’s hands? That’s inventory management.

Levy: By the way, how many Kindles have you sold?

[Bezos gives a long, loud example of his famous laugh.]

Levy: You don’t even answer!

Bezos: I know you don’t expect me to.

Levy: For years you’ve been touting e-ink as superior to a backlit device for reading. But the Fire is backlit. Why should Kindle users switch?

Bezos: They should buy both. When you’re reading long-form, there’s no comparison. You want the e-ink. But you can’t watch a movie with that. And you can’t play Android games. And so on.

Levy: And you now are selling a new version of the basic Kindle for $79. At this point, why not give it away—offer a deal where if people buy a certain amount of books, they get a free Kindle?

Bezos: It’s an interesting marketing idea, and we should think about it over time. But $79 is low enough that it’s not a big deal for many people.

Levy: Speaking of pricing, I wanted to ask about your decision to include streaming video as part of Amazon Prime. Why not charge separately for that? It’s a completely different service, isn’t it?

Bezos: There are two ways to build a successful company. One is to work very, very hard to convince customers to pay high margins. The other is to work very, very hard to be able to afford to offer customers low margins. They both work. We’re firmly in the second camp. It’s difficult—you have to eliminate defects and be very efficient. But it’s also a point of view. We’d rather have a very large customer base and low margins than a smaller customer base and higher margins.

Media Powerhouse

Amazon has stealthily become a major player in the competitive content business, with a major footprint in every medium. Meanwhile, its web services division owns one-fifth of the cloud computing market.

Amazon increases Kindle Fire orders [Nov 10, 2011]

Amazon has recently increased its Kindle Fire orders to more than five million units before the end of 2011 as pre-orders for the machine remain strong, according to sources from upstream component suppliers.

Amazon already raised its order volume once in the middle of the third quarter, up from 3.5 million units originally to four million units.

Since the company estimates that demand for Kindle Fire will become even stronger at the end of 2011, Amazon has further increased its orders. Amazon’s upstream partners including Wintek, Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT), LG Display, Ilitek, Quanta Computer, Aces Connectors and Wah Hong Industrial will all benefit from the short-term orders.

UMC Becomes Exclusive Supplier of Kindle Fire’s Processors [Nov 10, 2011]

Benefitting from the launch of Amazon’s tablet PC Kindle Fire, Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), one of world’s largest semiconductor foundries, has landed orders from Texas Instruments to exclusively supply ARM processors for the devices, becoming part of Amazon’s supply chain.

With some 215,000 Kindle Fire tablets sold in the first week of launch, the device, ranked in the top-10 gifts for Christmas, is regarded the biggest challenger to the Apple iPad. Optimistic about its constantly growing popularity, market researchers have also raised fourth-quarter sales projections for the Kindle Fire to 5 million units.

Hot sales of Kindle Fire bodes well for UMC as the Taiwanese company is to exclusively supply Texas Instruments OMAP4430 through the 45-nano process. The OMAP4430 is a dual-core 1GHz processor based on ARM architecture, and is widely adopted in a variety of smartphones and tablet PCs, including Motorola’s Droid 3 and Droid RAZR, Fujitsu-Toshiba’s Arrows Z, Panasonic’s Lumix and Toshiba’s Regza.

UMC’s business ties with Texas Instruments have increasingly grown recently, reflected in the influx of orders for the new OMAP4 series processors, contrasted against TI’s erstwhile reliance on mainly Korea’s Samsung Electronics for its older OMAP3 series processors.

Industry insiders indicated that UMC’s capacity utilization rate at the 12-inch wafer foundry will improve significantly in the fourth quarter, thanks to TI’s increasing orders.

Amazon.com Management Discusses Q3 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript – Q@A – Seeking Alpha [Oct 25, 2011]
HEAVY Amazon investments into the future:

We’re seeing the best growth which we’ve seen since 2000, meaning in 2010 and so far over the past 12 months ending September.

1. And so with this strong growth, we’re investing in a lot of capacity … we had announced 15 new fulfillment centers this year that’s on a basis of 52 from last year. And then we’d likely open one or two more. We are actually going to be opening 17 new fulfillment centers. …

2. We’re investing to support retail growth fulfilled by Amazon growth, fast-growing AWS business, as well as infrastructure to support our retail business.

3. We’re investing in our Kindle and Digital business. … if you take a look at our Kindle business, for example, we’ve launched 4 new products at the end of September, and we’re very, very excited about those products. They’re at great prices, and they are certainly premium products. And so we’re very excited about those. And we think about the economics of the Kindle business, we think about the totality. We think of the lifetime value of those devices. So we’re not just thinking about the economics of the device and the accessories. We’re thinking about the content. We are selling quite a bit of Special Offers devices which includes ads. We’re thinking about the advertisement and those Special Offers and those lifetime values.

Because according to Amazon.com Management Discusses Q3 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Oct 25, 2011]:

North America segment operating income decreased 23% to $144 million, a 2.4% operating margin. … Consolidated segment operating income decreased 35% to $260 million or 2.4% of revenue down approximately 290 basis points year-over-year. … For Q4 2011 … We anticipate consolidated segment operating income, which excludes stock-based compensation and other operating expense, to be between $0 and $450 million or between 100% decline and 28% decline.

End of Updates

Amazon Kindle Fire Official Presentation [Sept 28, 2011]

Check out the official presentation of the new Amzon Kindle Fire tablet.

Kindle Fire [product site]


Fast, Dual-Core Processor [1GHz TI OMAP 4, 512MB RAM]

Kindle Fire features a state-of-the-art dual-core processor for fast, powerful performance. Stream music while browsing the web or read books while downloading videos.

Amazon Whispersync

Like Kindle e-readers, Kindle Fire uses Amazon’s Whispersync technology to automatically sync your library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across your devices. On Kindle Fire, Whispersync extends to video. Start streaming a movie on Kindle Fire, then pick up right where you left off on your TV – avoid the frustration of having to find your spot. Learn more

Free Month of Amazon Prime

Experience the benefits that millions of Amazon Prime members already enjoy, including unlimited, instant streaming of over 10,000 popular movies and TV shows and Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items. Learn more

Technical Details

Display 7″ multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors.
Size (in inches) 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″ (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm).
Weight 14.6 ounces (413 grams).
System Requirements None, because it’s wireless and doesn’t require a computer.
On-device Storage 8GB internal. That’s enough for 80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.
Cloud Storage Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Battery Life Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as web browsing and downloading content.
Charge Time Fully charges in approximately 4 hours via included U.S. power adapter. Also supports charging from your computer via USB.
Wi-Fi Connectivity Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.1X standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
USB Port USB 2.0 (micro-B connector)
Audio 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers.
Content Formats Supported Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.
Documentation Quick Start Guide(included in box); Kindle User’s Guide (pre-installed on device)
Warranty and Service 1-year limited warranty and service included. Optional 2-year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Kindle is subject to the terms found here.
Included in the Box Kindle Fire device, U.S. power adapter (supports 100-240V), and Quick Start Guide.

Amazon launches Kindle Fire [The Telegraph, Sept 28, 2011]

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos shows off the Kindle Fire, a tablet device designed to build on the success of the company’s e-reader and to challenge the dominance of Apple’s iPad.

… Decked out in jeans, white shirt and a jacket, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, told an audience in New York that “this is unbelievable value. What we’re doing is making premium products and offering them at non-premium prices.”

Mr Bezos also claimed that the ability of Amazon to store all the content users download on the internet will prove a key selling point. “All of the content on this device is backed up on the cloud,” said Mr Bezos. “The model where you have to back up your own content is a broken model.”

Live from the Amazon Kindle Fire Launch [Mashable, Sept 28, 2011]

Mashable gets up close with Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet at the official unveiling event in New York City.

The Fire’s interface bears no resemblance to any Android tablet (or phone) on the market. Its home screen looks like a bookshelf, with access to recently accessed content and Apps (books, movies and music) and another shelf to pin favorites or frequently used items. At the top of the screen is search and menu accessto Newsstand (for magazines), books, music, movies, apps and docs.

… There are no ports to connect the Fire to your HDTV, but if you have a device that supports Amazon Prime connected to your TV, you can switch from watching a movie on the Fire to your TV. Whispersync will ensure that the movie starts just where you left off.

… The biggest innovation of all may be Amazon Silk, the company’s home-grown browser that uses the power of Amazon’s own cloud servers to offload Web page building duties. It can even, Amazon promised, prefetch the next page it thinks you’ll view.

Kindle Fire Tablet: The 3 Biggest Disappointments [Sept 29, 2011]

… the Kindle Fire lacks three really important features that a tablet needs to have.

#1. No memory expansion. There are no memory card slots, and no USB host (it has a mini USB port for transferring files). No matter what you are stuck with the 8GB of storage that it comes with. Sure, the Kindle Fire comes with free cloud storage, but that only applies to Amazon’s content.

#2. No HDMI port. I can’t believe the Kindle Fire with it’s access to 100,000 movies and TV shows doesn’t have an HDMI port. Even crappy sub-$150 tablets like the Pandigital Starhave an HDMI out port for connecting to a TV.

#3. The Kindle Fire runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but it is closed off. It’s not like a regular open Android tablet with a customizable homescreen, widgets, Android Market, or any of that. It has Amazon’s customized interface and the Amazon appstore. The Kindle Fire may run Android but it is an Amazon tablet, not an Android tablet (hackers will fix that in about 2 days after its release).

Don’t get me wrong, the Kindle Fire is a good starter tablet for Amazon. It has a lot of nice features, especially the IPS screen and dual-core processor, and will compete with the Nook Color very well, but it certainly isn’t breaking any new ground in the tablet world.

Amazon: The Kindle Fire Will Get Rooted [Sept 28, 2011]

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet has a great user interface, but many of our readers already want to get rid of it. That’s OK. Amazon isn’t doing anything special to prevent techies from “rooting” and rewriting the software on its powerful yet inexpensive new tablet, Jon Jenkins, director of Amazon’s Silk browser projectsaid.

“It’s going to get rooted, and what you do after you root it is up to you,” Jenkins said.

(Curious about rooting? Check out our Concise Guide to Android Rooting, which explains what the fuss is about.)

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is powered by the cloud [GigaOM, Sept 28, 2011]

The Kindle Fire also taps into Amazon’s cloud infrastructure to offer free cloud storage and backup of all content, so users don’t have to worry about irrevocably deleting something from local storage. And there’s also simple wireless syncing and integration of Amazon’s Whispersync technology in movies and TV shows, so users can keep their places in videos when they switch from one device to another.

Amazon has built its own interface layer that hides the Android underpinnings. It’s an approach that Barnes & Noble also undertook with its Nook Color. The interface on the Fire looks great and seems extremely snappy. Users get a search bar at the top and then a selection of books, music, video, docs, apps and the web. There’s a carousel of recently added content and then a shelf for favorites.

UPDATE: Here are some more details on the Kindle Fire. It will ship with its own email application that supports IMAP and POP3, but the Fire will rely on third-party apps to provide Exchange support for email. The device will also ship with contacts, shopping and gallery apps but no calendar app. Users will be able to sideload their own content, including photos and videos, with most of the popular formats accepted.

Amazon will go through its Appstore for Android, which has more than 15,000 apps, and filter out those apps that won’t work on the Kindle Fire for users who visit the store from a Kindle Fire. The company is approaching app developers to build new apps and optimize existing titles for the Kindle Fire, but it’s not putting out its own SDK. Instead it will encourage them to use Google’s existing tools. Amazon has started talks with Twitter, Facebook, Pandora and Netflix to optimize apps for Kindle Fire, but it’s too early to say what will happen.

Kindle Fire Live Demo [Sept 28, 2011]

A very detailed 4:39 long demo video with a lot of details.

Introducing Amazon Silk [Amazon Silk blog, Sept 28, 2011]

Today in New York, Amazon introduced Silk, an all-new web browser powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and available exclusively on the just announced Kindle Fire.  You might be asking, “A browser?  Do we really need another one?”  As you’ll see in the video below, Silk isn’t just another browser.  We sought from the start to tap into the power and capabilities of the AWS infrastructure to overcome the limitations of typical mobile browsers.  Instead of a device-siloed software application, Amazon Silk deploys a split-architectureAll of the browser subsystems are present on your Kindle Fire as well as on the AWS cloud computing platform.  Each time you load a web page, Silk makes a dynamic decision about which of these subsystems will run locally and which will execute remotely.  In short, Amazon Silk extends the boundaries of the browser, coupling the capabilities and interactivity of your local device with the massive computing power, memory, and network connectivity of our cloud.

We’ll have a lot more to say about Amazon Silk in the coming weeks and months, so please check back with us often.  You can also follow us on Twitter at @AmazonSilk.  Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about career opportunities on the Amazon Silk team, please visit our jobs page.

Amazon Silk—Amazon’s Revolutionary Cloud-Accelerated Web Browser [Kindle, Sept 28, 2011]

The web browser on Kindle Fire introduces a radical new paradigm — a “split browser” architecture that accelerates the power of the mobile device hardware by using the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services Cloud. The result is a faster web browsing experience, and it’s available exclusively on Kindle Fire.

Amazon Silk: Bridging the gap between desktop and mobile web browsers [ExtremeTech article, Sept 28, 2011]

… Silk is WebKit-based, uses Google’s SDPY HTTP-replacement protocol, supports Flash 10 — and no, despite what it sounds like, Silk is not comparable to Opera Mini.

If you’ve used Opera Mini — an existing browser that you can use on almost every phone platform — Amazon Silk certainly sounds similar, but it’s important to note that Silk does not send out images of the content; all of the assets arrive on your Kindle Fire tablet, so you get a full browsing experience. With regards to video content, we are told that Amazon Silk doesn’t transcode content — but presumably the dual-core processor in the Kindle Fire and Flash support is enough to handle most YouTube videos.

By leveraging EC2 and S3, Amazon can also do a few other clever things with Silk. For a start, Amazon can cache static files in the cloud — images, CSS, JavaScript — further speeding up page load times on the Kindle Fire. Amazon says that EC2 keep permanent connections open to popular sites like Facebook and Google, too, reducing latency by a few more milliseconds — and if that wasn’t enough, Amazon EC2 will also use predictive algorithms to pre-download the link that it thinks you will click next. Finally, the use of SPDYinstead of HTTP between Kindle Fire and EC2 should result in Silk being much, much faster than comparable Android or iOS browsers.

With regards to privacy, because all of your web requests will go through the cloud, your surfing will effectively be fully anonymous — target websites will see Amazon’s IP addresses, not yours. If you’re worried about Amazonsniffing your data, though, you can turn off “EC2 acceleration” in the browser’s settings.

All in all, then, Amazon Silk will be faster than the competition, it will save everyone (except Amazon) bandwidth costs, and it will even provide a little more security. One important fact is unknown, though: what version of WebKit is Amazon Silk using? Is it closer to desktop versions of Chrome and Safari, or is it like Android 2.3′s stock browser? Has Amazon designed the Kindle Fire to be a first-rate device for HTML5 web apps, or merely a content-consumption machine? We probably won’t find out until we receive a review unit for some real hands-on testing and benchmarks — which will hopefully be in the next few weeks.

Opera: Amazon’s Silk Browser is Flattering, But Five Years Late [Sept 28, 2011]

According to Mahi de Silva, executive vice president for Consumer Mobile at Opera Software ASA, however, the concept of rendering a complex Web page in the cloud and sending an optimized version down to the client is already in several Opera products today. Opera Mini applies compression to most interactions with the Internet while on a mobile device, and Opera Mobile refines this for the Web. Opera’s desktop browseralso has a “turbo mode” that allows the optimization to take place on the desktop, as well.

In all, Opera already does the sort of cloud optimization that Amazon Silk claims to do, deSilva said. OnLive’s Steve Perlman, who runs a cloud gaming service, has also talked about how easy it would be to provide a cloud-based browser, given the fact that it can push an entire remotely-rendered video game down to the client. However, de Silva endorsed the Silk concept.

“It’s very helpful for the consumer because you get a snappier, consistent quality, and also a less expensive experience,” as well as a boon to operators to reduce their own network congestion, de Silva said.

“We’re very flattered that Amazon chose to replicate something that we’ve had in the marketplace for a long time,” de Silva added. “It’s a good reflection of sort of that value proposition of having cloud-based browsing solutions, and also having the ability to switch full featured version – for example, [within Opera] if you want to support full HTML 5 interaction, Javascript, and Flash, you’re in a native browsing mode, but if you don’t encounter a lot of that content, you can be in [an optimized] browsing mode, and you can overlay that to some extent.”

“We’ve been doing this in mobile for five years as a key feature, and with the Opera browser, even longer,” de Silva said.

The performance of Silk is accelerated by the fact that users who need to wait for a browser to connect and download to dozens of Web objects, many of them relying on different domains, Amazon engineers said. The portion of the Amazon Silk browser that lies on the Amazon EC2 infrastructure can quickly negotiate and fetch those objects, connecting to the Web through Amazon’s “fat pipes”. Those who wish can also surf in “off-cloud” mode, somewhat anonymizing the experience.

“I’m sure you’ve had the experience, where you’re on a page, and you’re hanging, and you’re saying, I wish I was on a better network,” said Peter Voshall, a distinguished engineer for Amazon. “We’re on a better network. Our back end has some of the fattest pipes you’ll ever find, and we do all the heavy listing on the back end.”

Still, de Silva said it was doubtful that users will ever see a marked difference in performance between Opera’s implementation and what Amazon offers, based on its infrastructure connections alone. Opera also caches data that’s frequently accessed by many users in a content delivery network (CDN) close by, so that all of Opera’s users don’t have to ping cnn.com to constantly download the logo graphic.

De Silva called Silk a “smart move” for Amazon, one that will provides an always-on, connected experience. Consumers will have to decide for themselves what the effect of Silk will be on their browsing experience, and whether or not it will differentiate it from other manufacturers.

“Over 200 million unique users per month use this,” de Silva said of the Opera cloud browser technology. “Will Amazon ship 200 million devices anytime soon? Probably not.”

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is powered by the cloud [GigaOM, Sept 28, 2011]

The Kindle Fire also taps into Amazon’s cloud infrastructure to offer free cloud storage and backup of all content, so users don’t have to worry about irrevocably deleting something from local storage. And there’s also simple wireless syncing and integration of Amazon’s Whispersync technology in movies and TV shows, so users can keep their places in videos when they switch from one device to another.

Amazon has built its own interface layer that hides the Android underpinnings. It’s an approach that Barnes & Noble also undertook with its Nook Color. The interface on the Fire looks great and seems extremely snappy. Users get a search bar at the top and then a selection of  books, music, video, docs, apps and the web. There’s a carousel of recently added content and then a shelf for favorites.

UPDATE: Here are some more details on the Kindle Fire. It will ship with its own email application that supports IMAP and POP3, but the Fire will rely on third-party apps to provide Exchange support for email. The device will also ship with contacts, shopping and gallery apps but no calendar app. Users will be able to sideload their own content, including photos and videos, with most of the popular formats accepted.

Amazon will go through its Appstore for Android, which has more than 15,000 apps, and filter out those apps that won’t work on the Kindle Fire for users who visit the store from a Kindle Fire. The company is approaching app developers to build new apps and optimize existing titles for the Kindle Fire, but it’s not putting out its own SDK. Instead it will encourage them to use Google’s existing tools. Amazon has started talks with Twitter, Facebook, Pandora and Netflix to optimize apps for Kindle Fire, but it’s too early to say what will happen.

Introducing the All-New Kindle Family: Four New Kindles, Four Amazing Price Points [Amazon press release, Sept 28, 2011]

  • New latest generation Kindle – world’s bestselling e-reader now lighter, faster, and more affordable than ever – only $79
  • New “Kindle Touch” with easy-to-use touch screen – only $99
  • New “Kindle Touch 3G” with free 3G – the top of the line Kindle e-reader – only $149
  • New “Kindle Fire” – the Kindle for movies, TV shows, music, books, magazines, apps, games, and web browsing with all the content, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, Whispersync, Amazon’s new revolutionary cloud-accelerated web browser, vibrant color touch screen, and powerful dual-core processor – all for only $199

… and Kindle Firea new class of Kindle that brings the same ease-of-use and deep integration of content that helped Kindle re-invent readingto movies, TV shows, music, magazines, apps, books, games, and more.

… said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “Kindle Fire brings together all of the things we’ve been working on at Amazon for over 15 years into a single, fully-integrated service for customers. With Kindle Fire, you have instant access to all the content, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, the convenience of Amazon Whispersync, our revolutionary cloud-accelerated web browser, the speed and power of a state-of-the-art dual-core processor, a vibrant touch display with 16 million colors in high resolution, and a light 14.6 ounce design that’s easy to hold with one handall for only $199. We’re offering premium products, and we’re doing it at non-premium prices.”

New Class of Kindle–“Kindle Fire”–Only $199

All The Content–Over 18 Million Movies, TV Shows, Songs, Apps, Games, Books, and Magazines

Kindle Fire puts Amazon’s incredible selection of digital content at your fingertips:

  • Over 100,000 movies and TV shows from Amazon Instant Video, including thousands of new releases and popular TV shows, available to stream or download, purchase or rent – all just one tap away. Amazon Prime Members enjoy instant, unlimited, commercial-free streaming of over 11,000 movies and TV shows at no additional cost. Kindle Fire comes with one free month of Amazon Prime.
  • Over 17,000,000 songs from Amazon MP3, including new and bestselling albums from just $7.99 and individual songs from $0.69.
  • Over 1,000,000 Kindle books, including thousands of bestsellers, children’s books, comic books and cookbooks in rich color.
  • 100 exclusive graphic novels, including Watchmen, the bestselling – and considered by many to be the greatest – graphic novel of all time, which has never before been available in digital format, as well as Batman: Arkham City, Superman: Earth OneGreen Lantern: Secret Originand 96 others from DC Entertainment.
  • Hundreds of magazines and newspapers – including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Wired, Elle, The New Yorker, Cosmopolitan and Martha Stewart Living – with full-color layouts, photographs, illustrations, built-in video, audio and other interactive features are available from the new Kindle Fire “Newsstand.” Kindle Fire customers will enjoy an exclusive free three-month trial to 17 Condé Nast magazines, including Vanity Fair, GQ and Glamour.
  • All the most popular Android apps and games, such as Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, Cut the Rope and more. All apps are Amazon-tested on Kindle Fire to ensure quality and Amazon offers a new free paid app every day.

Cloud-Accelerated Web Browser – “Amazon Silk

The Kindle Fire web browser Amazon Silk introduces a radical new paradigm – a “split browser” architecture that accelerates the power of the mobile device hardware by using the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services Cloud. The Silk browser software resides both on Kindle Fire and on the massive server fleet that comprises the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). With each page request, Silk dynamically determines a division of labor between the mobile hardware and Amazon EC2 (i.e. which browser sub-components run where) that takes into consideration factors like network conditions, page complexity, and cached content. The result is a faster web browsing experience, and it’s available exclusively on Kindle Fire. Additional technical details are available in the Amazon Silk press release, released today at www.amazon.com/pr. To see a video about Amazon Silk go to www.amazon.com/silk.

Simple and Easy-To-Use

Amazon designed the Kindle Fire user interface from the ground upto make it easier than ever to purchase, manage, and enjoy your digital content. Just like with Kindle e-readers, Kindle Fire comes automatically pre-registered to your Amazon.com account so you can immediately start enjoying your digital content purchased from Amazon or shop for new content. All of your digital content is instantly available to enjoy and manage with a simple, consistent experience across all content types.

Free Cloud Storage

Just like Kindle e-readers, Kindle Fire offers free storage for all your Amazon digital content in the Amazon Cloud. Amazon digital content is automatically backed up for free in the Amazon Cloud’s Worry-Free Archive where it’s available for re-downloading anytime.

Amazon Whispersync Now for Movies & TV Too

Just like Kindle e-readers, Kindle Fire uses Amazon’s popular Whispersync technology to automatically synchronize your Kindle library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across the widest range of devices and platforms. With the introduction of Kindle Fire, Amazon is expanding this technology to include video. Start streaming a movie on your Kindle Fire, and when you get home, you can resume streaming right where you left off on your TVavoid the frustration of needing to find your spot.

Easy to Hold in One Hand

Just like Kindle e-readers, Kindle Fire was designed to disappear so you can lose yourself in the content. Weighing in at just 14.6 ounces, Kindle Fire is small and light enough to hold in just one hand and carry everywhere you go. The lightweight, compact design makes Kindle Fire perfect for web browsing, playing games, reading and shopping on-the-go.

Brilliant Color Touchscreen

Content comes alive in rich color on a 7-inch full color LCD touchscreen that delivers 16 million colors in high resolution and 169 pixels per inch. Kindle Fire uses IPS (in-plane switching) technologysimilar technology as used on the iPad, for an extra-wide viewing angle – perfect for sharing your screen with others. In addition, the Kindle Fire display is chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, which means it is incredibly durable and will stand up to accidental bumps and scrapes.

Fast, Powerful Dual-Core Processor

Kindle Fire features a state-of-the-art dual-core processor for fast, powerful performance. Stream music while browsing the web or read books while downloading videos.

Free Month of Amazon Prime

Right out of the box, Kindle Fire users will experience the benefits that millions of Amazon Prime members already enjoy unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of over 11,000 movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video and the convenience of Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items from Amazon.com.

Only $199

The all-new Kindle Firewith all the content, Amazon’s revolutionary cloud-accelerated browser, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, Whispersync, 14.6 ounce design that’s easy to hold with one hand, brilliant color touchscreen, and a fast and powerful dual core processoris only $199. Customers in the U.S. can pre-order Kindle Fire starting today at www.amazon.com/kindlefireand it ships November 15.

For high resolution images and video of the all-new Kindle family, visit www.amazon.com/pr/kindle.

Introducing “Amazon Silk”: Amazon’s Revolutionary Cloud-Accelerated Web Browser, Available Exclusively on Kindle Fire [Amazon press release, Sept 28, 2011]

Amazon’s cloud computing infrastructure and eight years of cloud computing expertise come together in new web browser for Kindle FireAmazon’s new Kindle for movies, music, books, magazines, apps, games, and web browsing

Amazon Silk introduces a radical new paradigm – a “split browser” architecture that accelerates the power of the mobile device hardware by using the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services cloud (AWS). The Silk browser software resides both on Kindle Fire and on the massive server fleet that comprises the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). With each page request, Silk dynamically determines a division of labor between the mobile hardware and Amazon EC2 (i.e. which browser sub-components run where) that takes into consideration factors like network conditions, page complexity and the location of any cached content. The result is a faster web browsing experience, and it’s available exclusively on Kindle Fire, Amazon’s new Kindle for movies, music, books, magazines, apps, games, and web browsing.

“Kindle Fire introduces a revolutionary new web browser called Amazon Silk,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “We refactored and rebuilt the browser software stack and now push pieces of the computation into the AWS cloud. When you use Silk – without thinking about it or doing anything explicit – you’re calling on the raw computational horsepower of Amazon EC2 to accelerate your web browsing.”

Modern websites have become complex. For example, on a recent day, constructing the CNN.com home page required 161 files served from 25 unique domains. This degree of complexity is common. In fact, a typical web page requires 80 files served from 13 different domains. Latency over wireless connections is high – on the order of 100 milliseconds round trip. Serving a web page requires hundreds of such round trips, only some of which can be done in parallel. In aggregate, this adds seconds to page load times.

Conversely, Amazon EC2 is always connected to the backbone of the internet where round-trip latency is 5 milliseconds or less to most web sites rather than the 100 milliseconds seen over wireless connections. In addition, EC2 servers have massive computational power. On EC2, available CPU, storage, and available memory can be orders of magnitudes larger than on mobile devices. Silk uses the power and speed of the EC2 server fleet to retrieve all of the components of a website and deliver them to Kindle Fire in a single, fast stream.

In addition to having more horsepower than a mobile processor, AWS has peering relationships with major internet service providers, and many top sites are hosted on EC2. This means that many web requests will never leave the extended infrastructure of AWS, reducing transit times to only a few milliseconds. Further, while processing and memory constraints lead most mobile browsers to limit the amount of work they attempt at any one time, using EC2 frees Silk from these constraints. If hundreds of files are required to build a web page across dozens of domains, Silk can request all of this content simultaneously with EC2, without overwhelming the mobile device processor or impacting battery life.

Traditional browsers must wait to receive the HTML file in order to begin downloading the other page assets. Silk is different because it learns these page characteristics automatically by aggregating the results of millions of page loads and maintaining this knowledge on EC2. While another browser might still be setting up a connection with the host server, Silk has already pushed content that it knows is associated with the page to the Kindle Fire before the site has even instructed the browser where to find it.

A typical web request begins with resolving the domain names associated with the server and establishing a TCP connection to issue the http request. Establishing TCP connections for each request consumes time and resources that slow down traditional browsers. Silk keeps a persistent connection open to EC2 so that there is always a connection at the ready to start loading the next page. Silk also uses EC2 to maintain a persistent connection to the top sites on the web. This approach reduces latency that would otherwise result from constantly establishing TCP connections. Further, Silk’s split architecture uses a pipelined, multiplexing protocol that can send all the content over a single connection.

Finally, Silk leverages the collaborative filtering techniques and machine learning algorithms Amazon has built over the last 15 years to power features such as “customers who bought this also bought…” As Silk serves up millions of page views every day, it learns more about the individual sites it renders and where users go next. By observing the aggregate traffic patterns on various web sites, it refines its heuristics, allowing for accurate predictions of the next page request. For example, Silk might observe that 85 percent of visitors to a leading news site next click on that site’s top headline. With that knowledge, EC2 and Silk together make intelligent decisions about pre-pushing content to the Kindle Fire. As a result, the next page a Kindle Fire customer is likely to visit will already be available locally in the device cache, enabling instant rendering to the screen.

“Silk”

The name “Silk” is inspired by the idea that a thread of silk is an invisible yet incredibly strong connection between two different things. In the case of Amazon Silk, it’s the connection between the Kindle Fire and Amazon EC2 that creates a better, faster browsing experience. For more information on Amazon Silk, visit www.amazon.com/silk.

Exclusively on Kindle Fire

Silk is available exclusively on Kindle Fire. To pre-order Kindle Fire, visit www.amazon.com/kindlefire.

About Amazon Web Services

Launched in 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides Amazon’s developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon’s own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. As one of the world’s most reliable, scalable, and cost-efficient web infrastructures, AWS has changed the way businesses think about technology infrastructure–there are no up-front expenses or long-term commitments, capital expense is turned into variable operating expense, resources can be added or shed as quickly as needed, and engineering resources are freed up from the undifferentiated heavy lifting of running onsite infrastructure – all without sacrificing operational performance, reliability, or security. AWS now offers over 21 different services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and Amazon SimpleDB. AWS services are used by hundreds of thousands of enterprise, government, and startup customers in more than 190 countries around the world, powering everything from the most popular games on Facebook to NASA’s Mars Rover project to pharmaceutical drug research.

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Amazon increases Kindle Fire orders

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How Amazon Powers the Internet

It began as a way for Amazon’s engineers to work together efficiently. Now Amazon Web Services hosts some of the most popular sites on the web and is responsible for a significant amount of the world’s online traffic. Here’s a look at some of the companies that rely on Amazon’s cloud computing platform.

Customer

What it uses Amazon Web Services for

Foursquare

3 million check-ins a day

Harvard Medical School

Vast database for developing genome-analysis models

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

Processing of hi-res satellite images to help guide its robots

Netflix

Video streaming service that accounts for 25% of US Internet traffic

Newsweek/The Daily Beast

1 million pageviews every hour

PBS

More than 1 petabyte of streaming video a month

SmugMug

Storage for 70 million photos

US Department of Agriculture

Geographic information system for food-stamp recipients

Virgin Atlantic

Crowdsourced travel review service

Yelp

Data storage for its 22 million-plus reviews

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Pixel Qi’s second investment round concluded by the 3M investment

Preceding information (essential reads):
Pixel Qi’s first big name device manufacturing partner is the extremely ambitious ZTE [Feb 15, 2011, latest update: June 3, 2011]
Pixel Qi and CPT alliance for sunlight readability [Dec 22, 2010, latest update: June 2, 2011]
Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75 [Nov 4, 2010, latest update: July 20, 2011]

3M Invests in Pixel Qi Corp. [Sept 12, 2011]

3M, through its 3M New Ventures organization, has invested in Pixel Qi Corp., a developer of next generation LCD panels with operations in Taiwan and California. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded by LCD pioneer, Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen in 2008, Pixel Qi designs unique, innovative LCD screens that solve problems not addressed by conventional screens. Its first products are sunlight-readable, low-power LCD panels aimed for mobile device applications.

As consumers increasingly rely on connected, mobile devices in their daily lives, there is a growing, unmet requirement for display devices that offer portability, connectivity, long battery life and excellent indoor/outdoor readability in one device. Current displays are not able to solve all of these challenges simultaneously. Pixel Qi’s unique technology platform eliminates the need for trade-offs and enables high quality, outdoor or sunlight viewing with excellent battery life and portability in one device. The combination of its technologies with those of 3M will create excellent new opportunities for both companies.

“Pixel Qi’s full-function color screen technology, for the first time, gives consumers an outdoor-readable video display with exceptional battery life, usable anywhere, anytime. It’s a first in the industry. In our collaboration with 3M, we have the ability to accelerate this into mass adoption,” said Mary Lou Jepsen, co-founder and CEO of Pixel Qi.

The funding led by 3M New Ventures will play a key role in enabling Pixel Qi to develop its product offerings into volume consumer markets as well as digital signage and touch applications. The investment, which successfully concludes Pixel Qi’s second (series “B”) investment round, will also allow Pixel Qi to build and to strengthen its engineering and sales capabilities.

Stefan Gabriel, president of 3M New Ventures said, “Pixel Qi’s technology enables displays of such lower power and high usability that the vision of ubiquitous displays comes much closer to realization. In combining Pixel Qi’s disruptive display technology with our technology platforms, we can create new business opportunities in the consumer and commercial markets for 3M.”

3M’s Optical Systems Division is a world leader in the specialized films used inside liquid crystal displays to optimize the light throughput. Pixel Qi’s innovative LCD designs use such film technologies, and other advances, to create novel displays and enable the best outdoor readable, power efficient displays available on the market. “By addressing the energy consumption and sunlight readability challenges in one package, Pixel Qi provides a ground-breaking solution for the next generation of displays,” said Jim Bauman, vice president, 3M Optical Systems Division. “The combination of Pixel Qi’s low energy, reflective display technology with 3M’s innovative technologies will create exciting products for the mobile, handheld, tablet and other display markets.”

About 3M New Ventures

3M New Ventures is based in Munich, Germany. This business identifies highly innovative companies and future technologies. These opportunities include investments in the strategic sectors of display, energy, water, architecture, media, healthcare and safety and security, with linkages to 3M. Recent investments made by 3M New Ventures include minority stakes in Perceptive Pixel Inc., a developer of advanced multi-touch solutions; Printechnologics GmbH, a printed electronics specialist providing innovative solutions for electronic circuitry on paper or foil; and txtr GmbH, an innovative eReading technology company. 3M recently received the ‘Best Innovator’ award in Germany for its best-in-class innovation management and corporate venturing.

About Pixel Qi Corporation

Pixel Qi Corporation, is based in San Bruno, California and with principal offices in Taipei, Taiwan, and aims to design innovative LCD screens which solve problems not addressed by conventional screens. Its first products are sunlight-readable, low-power LCD panels aimed for mobile device applications. Operating as the industry’s first fabless display house, Pixel Qi designs all layers of the LCD, including each and every mask, the liquid crystal mode and material, the optical films, the driving scheme and the backlight. Pixel Qi, is a spinoff of One Laptop Per Child, the creator of the $100 laptop, where Pixel Qi CEO and founder Mary Lou Jepsen was chief architect and chief technology officer.

The “qi” (pronounced ‘chee’) in the firm’s name, refers to the circulating life energy that in Asian philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things.

SOURCE: 3M

3M US: 3M Optical Systems [site]

Future Technology Today

Portfolio of Key 3M Optical Display Films

  • NEW! Collimating Multilayer Optical Film (CMOF): the latest optical film innovation, offering a nearly perfect balance and mixture of light, for the ultimate viewing experience.  Enables LCD integrated optics.
  • Enhanced Specular Reflector Film (ESR): The most reflective surface available today, for brighter, and more energy-efficient displays.
  • Dual Brightness Enhancement Films (DBEF): Reflecting polarizers that enhance brightness and widen the viewing angle while maintaining color and picture uniformity.
  • Brightness Enhancement Films (BEF): Optical film that collimates light to control viewing angle and increase brightness.

3M Business Units: Optical Systems Division

The Optical Systems Division has global responsibility for the following businesses:

Electronic Display Lighting, Computer Filters, 3M Touch Systems and 3M Precision Optics. OSD provides display enhancement products for all market segments of the electronic display lighting industry that includes computer and television displays, handheld displays, computer filter and specialty displays, touch screens, rear projection screens and lens systems for projection displays.

Electronic Display Lighting

The Electronic Display Lighting business offers multiple Vikuiti™ Display Enhancement solutions for the electronic display industry including transmissive displays, reflective and absorbing polarizers for LCDs and kiosk applications, high contrast projection screens and anti-reflective solutions. Vikuiti™ Display Enhancement Films improve the visual appearance of electronic displays and offer a variety of solutions for improved readability, increased brightness, excellent contrast and color uniformity, glare reduction, privacy, and portability. Maximizing readability, the Vikuiti™ brand signifies superior performance for notebook PCs, liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors and TVs, automotive displays, rear-projection TVs, cell phones, PDAs and other handheld devices.

Major Markets: Electronic display (aftermarket and OEM).

Distribution: Vikuiti™ Display Enhancement Films are sold directly to the LCD and backlight manufacturers or display integrators.

Computer Filters

The Computer Filters business unit concentrates on aftermarket products addressing Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) and Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) needs for light control, privacy viewing, glare reduction and reduction of ELF/VLF E-field radiation. Typical applications include desktop and notebook computer monitors.

Major Markets: Consumer; electronic (OEM and retail); office; transportation (aftermarket and OEM).

Distribution: Computer filters are sold by direct sales through data and office supply distribution.

3M Touch Systems

Created in 2001 through the acquisition of two established touch screen manufacturers, MicroTouch Systems and Dynapro, 3M Touch Systems is a worldwide business group of the Optical Systems Division of 3M. Innovative touch technology complements the Vikuiti™ line of polarizer and brightness enhancement optical films and filters that are offered by the Optical Systems Division. 3M Touch Systems develops and manufactures innovative touch screens, touch monitors, and industrial touch products with a commitment to ease of integration, unparalleled responsiveness and simplicity of use.

Major Markets: Primary touch markets include gaming/entertainment, point-of-sale (POS), industrial, self-service kiosks, financial, portable and consumer products.

Distribution: Touch screens sold primarily through direct sales. Touch monitors sold through direct sales, manufacturing representatives and distributors. Other products are sold through direct sales and resellers.

Internet Web Sites

3M Demonstrates Innovative Display Film Solutions During SID Display Week 2011 [May 17, 2011]

Taking energy efficiency in electronic devices a step further, the 3M Optical Systems Division today provided a sneak preview of its energy efficiency exhibit highlights that will be featured during SID Display Week 2011, to be held May 16-20 in Los Angeles, Calif. Demonstrating how the company’s films make today’s electronic devices more efficient, without sacrificing display performance, 3M will showcase its latest energy efficiency films for tablets, handheld devices, notebooks, monitors and LCD TVs. In addition, the company will debut several new demonstrations including its proprietary integrated optics technology, uniformity tape and 3D handheld displays using collimated films, with and without glasses. The company’s energy efficient solutions can improve energy efficiency in electronic devices by up to 30 percent.

“The display and electronics supply chain is continuously reinventing electronic devices,” noted Jim Bauman, vice president of 3M’s Optical Systems Division. “Our optical films, and unique technology solutions enable display and device manufacturers to create thin, bright and energy efficient electronic devices, with endless possibilities. The demonstrations at our booth provide a sneak preview as to what the future holds for display-centric electronics, made possible by 3M’s technology innovation.”

During Display Week, 3M will show the following:

Uniformity Tape Allows LCD Manufacturers to Reduce Number of LEDs Required for Edge-lit LED LCD Panels at a Low Cost without Sacrificing Brightness or Efficiency
3M’s Uniformity Tape is a clear tape, which has adhesive on one side and a micro-replicated optical pattern on the other side. It is adhered to the edge of the light guide, which faces the LED light sources. The tape is designed to increase the spreading of light in the light guide from each LED, which greatly increases the allowable LED spacing. The optical pattern is spatially uniform, meaning that no positional registration of LEDs is required along its length. The Uniformity Tape keeps the edge of the display closest to the LEDs uniform in brightness when the spacing of light sources is increased. This allows panel manufacturers to save money by removing unnecessary LEDs. Uniformity Tape can also increase LED spacing by up to three times the current spacing, while maintaining edge uniformity for a given bezel size.

3M’s Collimating Multi-layer Optical Film, Air Guide and Unique ‘Light Mixing’ Approach Enables Non-incremental Improvements in Cost and Simplifies LCD/System Supply Chains
3M’s new class of integrated optical films, known as ‘Collimating Multi-layer Optical Film’ (CMOF), can eliminate all free-floating films, as well as the light guide from LED LCD backlights. The continued use of the traditional, multi-film backlight architecture has resulted in constraints that limit innovation in cost, performance, form factor, weight and the supply chain. 3M’s ‘integrated optics’ approach leveraging CMOF and Air Guide technologies addresses these challenges head on—significantly improving the overall environmental profile of these systems and presenting a rare opportunity for collaboration across the supply chain.

Glasses Free 3D Films Deliver True Auto-stereoscopic 3D without Impacting Display Color or Resolution
3M’s latest advances in 3D Enhancement Films include a handheld auto-stereoscopic device demonstration with full resolution 3D and full resolution 2D viewing off-axis and no view reversal. In addition, the company will show its new, 9-inch auto-stereoscopic tablet displays, also featuring full resolution 3D and 2D, with no view reversal, as well as a 400mm viewing distance by leveraging 3M’s advanced 3D Enhancement Film.

3M Tablet Film Increases Battery Life, Reduces Device Thickness and Weight, Without Sacrificing Display Brightness or Quality
3M’s tablet demonstration will leverage four key optical films: APF-V3, an extremely thin, 26 micron, high brightness reflective polarizer; LBR-160, a high efficiency back reflector; as well as BEF4-GMv2 and BEF4-GT, thin, high brightness, Brightness Enhancement Films (BEF). By combining the films, tablet battery life can be extended without sacrificing display quality or brightness. This one of a kind film combination can also be used to increase display brightness by more than 50 percent, enhancing the outdoor viewing experience, in addition to reducing the overall thickness of backlight films by 30 percent*.

Front Light Display Technology for e-Paper Displays Gives Uniform, Energy Efficient Lighting
3M’s new front light display technology provides highly uniform and energy efficient lighting for e-paper displays, while maintaining image quality and thin form factor. The technology creates a display that has all the advantages of e-paper displays in bright and normal lighting and still can be used conveniently and comfortably in dark environments.

Leveraging 3M’s Light Enhancing Films To Enable Energy Savings Without Compromises
This series of demonstrations depicts the innovation that 3M has and is continuing to deliver to the LCD backlight industry. From the current industry standard utilizing 3M’s Dual Brightness Enhancement Film (DBEF) to the future where all that is needed is a back reflector and a new 3M multi-function reflective polarizer that is integrated with the panel, 3M has and will continue to deliver energy saving solutions without any compromises.

Wider Viewing Angles without Sacrificing Brightness
This unique exhibit highlights high-brightness, wide viewing angles and unparalleled picture quality from all directions that are made possible by the benefits of the company’s DBEF solution.

Extended Battery Life (EBL) for Mobile Devices
3M will demonstrate backlight solutions that improve the efficiency of mobile displays and devices—enabling higher brightness and/or longer battery life in high use-modes. Paired comparisons of cell phones running 3M’s Display Monitor Application will demonstrate the improvements in estimated display-on, gaming, movie and Wi-Fi browsing battery life by optimizing the display using 3M’s backlight solutions.

Advanced Structure Optical Composite (ASOC) Makes Thinner Mobile Displays Possible
3M will show prototypes of its 97 micron Advanced Structure Optical Composite (ASOC) film, which will is 3M’s thinnest backlight stack film solution for mobile displays while meeting current crossed prismatic film brightness performance and robustness.

3M Demonstrates Optical Films for Tablet Applications at SID Display Week
2011
[May 16, 2011]

Company’s Tablet Film Increases Battery Life, Reduces Device Thickness and Weight, Without Sacrificing Display Brightness or Quality

3M’s Optical Systems Division today announced that it will debut its new optical film solutions for tablet applications during SID Display Week 2011, taking place in Los Angeles, Calif. May 16-20, 2011.

Specifically, the company’s Display Week tablet demonstration will leverage four key optical films: APF-V3, an extremely thin, 26 micron, high brightness reflective polarizer; LBR-160, a high efficiency back reflector; as well as BEF4-GMv2 and BEF4-GT, thin, high brightness, Brightness Enhancement Films (BEF). By combining the films, tablet battery life can be extended without sacrificing display quality or brightness. This one of a kind film combination can also be used to increase display brightness by more than 50%, enhancing the outdoor viewing experience, in addition to reducing the overall thickness of backlight films by 30%*.

According to DisplaySearch, the global Tablet PC market is forecast to grow 154% Y/Y to 52.4 million units in 2011 and to reach 140 million units by 2013—providing significant growth opportunities for the flat panel display and tablet PC supply chain.

“With this accelerating segment poised for strong growth, 3M continues to develop unique solutions that meet the technical demands and drive the creation of future innovative designs for tablets,” noted Jim Bauman, vice president of 3M’s Optical Systems Division. “The key challenges in the current supply chain are to extend battery life and enable more thinner and lightweight devices. 3M’s advanced optical films meet these requirements and deliver superior performance to meet our customers’ needs.”

3M Ushers in a New Era of Light Management with a New Class of Integrated
Optical Films
 [May 12, 2011]

Company’s Tablet Film Increases Battery Life, Reduces Device Thickness and Weight, Without Sacrificing Display Brightness or Quality

Advancing light management for LCD backlights, 3M’s Optical Systems Division today unveiled a unique solution to address long-standing constraints in LCD backlights. Specifically, the company’s new class of integrated optical films, known as ‘Collimating Multi-layer Optical Film’ (CMOF), can eliminate all free-floating films, as well as the light guide from LED LCD backlights.

“Technology advancements in LEDs have led to exciting developments, such as edge-lit LED LCD TVs,” noted John Wheatley, Division Scientist for 3M’s Optical Systems Division. “Despite this, the continued use of the traditional, multi-film backlight architecture has resulted in constraints that limit innovation in cost, performance, form factor, weight and the supply chain. Our ‘integrated optics’ approach leveraging CMOF and Air Guide technologies addresses these challenges head on—significantly improving the overall environmental profile of these systems and presenting a rare opportunity for collaboration across the supply chain.”

Collimating Multi-layer Optical Film “CMOF” Solution Enables Unique “Light Mixing” Approach

CMOF is based on 3M’s multi-layer optical film technology platform that is used to make current display films such as DBEF reflective polarizers and ESR reflector films. By leveraging CMOF, 3M has demonstrated how to reduce the amount of light management material in an LED LCD backlight by an order of magnitude—significantly improving the overall environmental profile, while enabling non-incremental improvements in cost, as well as the simplicity of products, display systems and supply chain. The company’s ‘integrated optics’ solution also enables a unique, new light management approach, consisting of ‘light mixing’ to addresses fundamental problems to LED displays. As a result of this technology, 3M has developed a new backlight architecture called Air Guide.

Integrated Optics On-Panel: Air Guide

3M’s ability to integrate the light management directly on the panel in the manufacturing process enables a one-step assembly process—making the supply chain even more efficient. Device manufacturers who use LCD panels with 3M optics integrated, can simply place it on the appropriate chassis, made with an integrated ESR reflector. In addition, by leveraging Air Guide, LCD manufacturers will have display systems that are more tolerant to LED binning variations of brightness and color associated with LED manufacturing. This is important since costs associated with binning can account for up to 30% of overall LED manufacturing costs. Monitor, TV, and LCD signage are all potential markets for Air Guide.

“The continuous improvement in LED output and efficiency has created a situation where many displays are now at or will soon approach their uniformity limit. This means that even if LEDs continue to improve, a system cannot use fewer lamps, since it would result in non-uniformity due to the widely spaced points of light,” Wheatley added. “Light mixing changes this, enabling systems with very few, widely spaced LEDs. In fact, a monitor illuminated with a single LED, or a TV with 5 LEDs is not out of the question in the near term.”

Carbon footprint is of increasing importance in assessing environmental impact of products. Carbon footprint includes not only energy efficiency of device power draw, but also the impact of the entire supply chain in making, shipping and packaging required for a device’s manufacture. 3M works with its customers to find ways to continually improve in this area, and integrated optics for LCD is an important part of that effort.

Open Cell Business Model

Lastly, the industry is increasingly moving toward adopting an open cell business model where panel makers will make openly available LCD panels for purchase. 3M’s ability to integrate the light management directly on the panel in its manufacture is well suited to this, and results in an even more efficient supply chain. Device manufacturers would just need to purchase a panel (with 3M optics integrated), and place it on the appropriate chassis.

60.1: LCD Integrated Optics [SID Symposium Digest of Technical Papers — June 2011 — Volume 42, Issue 1, pp. 878-881]

John Wheatley, Tao Liu, Matthew E. Sousa, Stephen Etzkorn, Ellen Bösl, John Van Derlofske, and Quinn Sanford
Optical Systems Division, 3M Company, St. Paul, MN, 55144-1000, USA

C. David Hoyle and Gilles Benoit
Display and Graphics Film Laboratory, 3M Company, St. Paul, MN, 55144-1000, USA

A new class of optical film is demonstrated which addresses fundamental and longstanding constraints in LCD backlights. These films enable displays with highly integrated optics and no free-floating films. Both unitary polarized solid light guides and edge-lit hollow systems without guides are shown. The non-incremental impact on multiple LCD value propositions including waste stream is discussed. Film development has been done on manufacturing scale.

LCD Integrated Optics Presentation in PDF [May 25, 2011]

3M’s Uniformity Tape Allows LCD Manufacturers to Reduce Number of LEDs
without Sacrificing Display Image Brightness or Quality
[May 11, 2011]

Unique Uniformity Tape Enables 3X More LED Spacing, reducing LCD Panel Manufacturing Costs

In an effort to meet LCD manufacturer design flexibility demands, the 3M Optical Systems Division today announced that it has developed a unique solution called Uniformity Tape that will allow LCD manufacturers to reduce the number of LEDs required for edge-lit LED LCD panels at a low cost, without sacrificing brightness or efficiency.

LEDs are becoming brighter and even more efficient—requiring fewer bulbs to achieve target brightness for a given display. Until now, there have been limitations as to how far LEDs can be spaced apart at the edge of an LCD panel because of dark areas that appear between LEDs when they are too far apart. This scenario is commonly referred to as ‘head-lighting’ because it looks like the dark space on the road between the headlights of a car.

3M’s Uniformity Tape is a clear tape, which has adhesive on one side and a micro-replicated optical pattern on the other side. It is adhered to the edge of the light guide, which faces the LED light sources. The tape is designed to increase the spreading of light in the light guide from each LED, which greatly increases the allowable LED spacing. The optical pattern is spatially uniform, meaning that no positional registration of LEDs is required along its length. The Uniformity Tape keeps the edge of the display closest to the LEDs uniform in brightness when the spacing of light sources is increased. This allows panel manufacturers to save money by removing unnecessary LEDs. Uniformity Tape can also increase LED spacing by up to three times the current spacing, while maintaining edge uniformity for a given bezel size.

“As LED technology continues to improve and becomes even brighter, some backlight designs are currently using more LEDs than needed for a brightness specification in order to avoid head lighting or thick bezels. Uniformity constraints have also prevented manufacturers from removing LEDs to save on cost,” noted Gilles Georges, 3M global marketing manager. “By spacing LEDs further apart for edge-lit LED LCD panels, 3M’s Uniformity Tape allows light to travel inside the light guide at wider angles—allowing manufacturers to design wider spacing between LEDs without any dark areas.”

When combined with 3M’s Dual Brightness Enhancement Film (DBEF), Uniformity Tape allows display manufacturers even more design freedom to innovate and use less LEDs to create a backlight that not only meets energy standards, but also remains competitive at a low cost. Furthermore, Uniformity Tape helps device manufacturers meet the growing number of energy efficiency standards around the world.

Windows 8 Metro style Apps + initial dev reactions

With this style of apps there is a clear platform diagram:windows-8-platform-tools
but there is no similar kind of diagram for the structure of the applications themselves, although that structure is absolutely different from the ones we are familiar with in the existing Windows applications of different kind.

First I will present the current confusion in that regard and then SOME answers to that from current MSDN documentation. Some because an equally important part, the contract mechanism is not described in the “answer excerpts” that will follow after the “introductory confusion part”. For the contract mechanism I will include here just this simple paragraph from the Fact Sheet:

Apps are part of a web of apps, not a silo of unrelated apps. Apps can communicate with one another in Windows 8. Rather than switching apps to share information, you stay immersed in your app and share the information to another app right in that context, never losing your place. So if you want to share a photo from a social network app, you just swipe the share charm and share to the app. No burdensome and baroque cut and paste.

Other missing information in brief from the published short guide:

Adding Metro style to your apps
Your apps get a predictable, Metro style UI that’s tailored to the device by using Windows 8 controls. The controls are designed for both touch devices and for mouse and keyboard. By default, your apps convey the Windows personality, which is a familiar user experience that customers understand. Here are the three kinds of controls that you can use.

Standard controls: these include everything you need to display, enter, and manipulate data and content. Control families include view, text, pattern, overlay, media (audio and video), content, collection, and basic.

Collection controls: These help designers to create rich content experiences in consistent, touch-friendly ways. They include built-in support for drag-and-drop operations, and they let you customize display modes by using styling and templates. Examples are the simple list, grid view, grouped grid view, flip view, and semantic zoom.

Intrinsic controls: These are available in the Windows Library for JavaScript (WinJS), and they go beyond the limitations of CSS3 box-type controls, if you need more flexibility in your interface design or you want to integrate your own brand into your customers’ experience.

Creating immersive user interfaces with adaptive layout

Windows 8 gives you creative options for adapting an app experience dynamically to the size of the screen area, changes in orientation, and different display capabilities using CSS3. These features enable you to give your customers a fluid, natural-feeling experience in your Metro style apps. Here are some examples.

Animation: Create smooth, animated experiences and elements with HTML5 and CSS3 that embody the Metro style. Take advantage of a comprehensive set of pre-defined animations that are lively and unique, yet familiar to users.

3-D transformations: Add smooth, fluid visual experiences, such as perspective transforms and flipping elements on and off the screen. In the past, you’d have to create these effects using native code, but now you can create them with HTML5 and CSS3.

Flexible box layout: Create flexible containers that expand proportionally to fill any remaining space in an HTML5 layout. This is great for designers to use to create key components of apps, such as toolbars or navigational elements.

Grid layout: Position and size content elements into cells on a grid structure that you define with fixed, fractional, or automatic units.

Multi-column layout: Mimic newspaper and magazine layouts by creating a single column of HTML5 content in multiple parallel columns with equal width and height.

A typical confusion about Windows 8 Metro style apps:

Re: Windows 8 apps going html5, wtf – part 2 [Sept 15, 2011]

I just watched this BUILD speech by Jensen Harris: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/BUILD/BUILD2011/BPS-1004 [although it is the most detailed video “answer”, [1:33:05] long, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BTW]

I must admit that all those concepts regarding the metro touch UI appear to be really thought through. They actually looked at how people hold und use tablets, and the optimization to the “two hands, use thumbs”-method seems quite sensible (the split up touch keyboard was a little odd though … c’mon! … typing with your thumbs?).

Next I browsed the Windows Runtime Reference, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/br211377(v=VS.85).aspx(thx to jackbond for the link), and I was relieved to find lots of familiar stuff in there like XAML of course, Dependency Properties, Control Templates etc.

So I’d be willing to change my former “do not want!” attitude to a more excited “Lots of work coming up, but it’ll pay off” one if … well, if all of this was covered by “BUILD – the conference solely for handheld device developers”. As I said before: I might be too stubborn to grasp all this visionary stuff (I guess there’s a reason it’s not me working at the top of win dev ;-), but I simply cannot seeANYof this apply to the desktop environment.

I absolutly disagree for example with Harris’ statement that in the near future we will all unbelievingly remember that there once were screens without touch. I still don’t see me working (yes, Mr Harris, I actuallyWORKwith my Computer rather than spend my whole time looking at beautiful RSS-Feeds, weather forecasts, tweet@rama and stuff like that) here at my desk by pawing my monitor.

And when he showed how to operate Metro UI with a mouse I ultimately thought “Hey, you cannot be serious about that”. So instead of having a context specific pop up menu at the very position of my mouse pointer when I righclick I now get the ususal app bars at the top and bottom of the screen which forces me to move my mouse pointer a much greater distance to achieve the wanted result. This is not “fast and fluid”, but its sheer opposite.

So I’ll try a new evaluation of where this leaves me as a developer. We now have a new UI that (in my opinion) is awesome for handhelds, but doesn’t make any sense on the desktop. We finally(!) have a true replacement for the WIN32-API (“YES!!”) that unfortunatly only works with Metro UI (“D’oh!”). We still have the traditional desktop, but it is clearly labeled as “NOT modern, NOT immersive, NO WinRT” (I still don’t understand why). We have Silverlight that doesn’t run in the Metro UI Browser because its own creator(!) thinks that this plugin only disturbs the indeedily-doodily HTML5 experience.

I stand here scratching my head in disbelief, and I cannot resist the impression that this whole show is about “Heeeyyyy, we developed an AWESOME solution! Wait, it gets better: for a problem that didn’t even exist!”. I think it’s hilarious to read posts like this http://dougseven.com/2011/09/14/i-know-what-youre-thinking-and-youre-wrong/ (thx to jrboddie for the link). So while Mr Sinofsky is still on stage at BUILD trying to sell Metro to the crowd as the next big thing, developers are wiping the sweat off their foreheads in relief to hear people like Doug Seven say “My advice…keep doing what you are doing [with WPF and Silverlight], and invest 20% of your time in learning about Windows 8 and the Metro style app models“. There’s something going very wrong here, and I wonder if anyone at the top of Microsoft does take notice.

Short Answers:

Windows 8 Previewed Today at BUILD [Sept 13, 2011]

Build: More Details On Building Windows 8 Metro Apps [Sept 14, 2011]

Jensen Harris Walks Us Through the Windows 8 UI [only 10 minutes long Channel 9 video, Sept 14, 2011]

A great example: Metro style browsing: one engine, two experiences, no compromises[Sept 14, 2011]

A great number of Metro style app samples

Answers from Metro style app development:

[Roadmap for creating Metro style apps using C#, C++, or Visual Basic]

Touch is an important part of many Metro style app [they are touch first!] using C++, C#, or Visual Basic apps. But the mouse remains a primary means of interacting with these apps on some devices. Learn how to make your apps work with both means of input.
>> Quickstart: Touch input

[Primer for current Windows developers]

With the Windows desktop, the shell is static. Icons can be colorful and pretty, sure, but they really just sit there. A running app is also often surrounded by visual noise that has little to do with the app itself—noise that comes from other apps and from Windows itself. Even an app’s own menus, ribbons, and other command structures often consume a noticeable portion of screen space and can distract the user.

In contrast, Windows Developer Preview is designed to help Metro style apps engage and re-engage the user much more deeply:

  • Apps typically run full-screen and the Start screen disappears after an app is launched. System UI also appears only as needed in response to specific user interactions. As a result, users are completely immersed in the foreground app by default, and you don’t need to implement a special full-screen mode.
    • The exception to this is that two apps (and only two) can run side-by-side. One occupies the majority of the screen and the other, a smaller portion to the side. This keeps multi-tasking focused on the user’s most important apps.

     

  • For all but its most essential UI, apps can use the app bar and flyouts to reveal secondary operations when needed, in response to specific interactions.
  • Live tileshelp apps dynamically display their most important content on the Start page, providing users with essential info at a glance. This way, users don’t have to open the full app to engage with it.
  • Users can create content tiles [secondary tiles] that link directly into specific parts of an app. This makes the interaction with an app both highly efficient and meaningful, in contrast to the user wasting their time simply navigating the app structure.
  • Apps can use notifications to surface events to the Start page in a way that feels natural to Windows. Such consistency increases the likelihood that a user will take notice of the event and re-engage with the app.

In addition to having two side-by-side apps, Windows Developer Preview introduces a new means of multitasking— apps can now work together to perform common tasks such as searching, sharing, and managing contacts:

  • Instead of having the user switch between apps, as in the classic Windows shell, portions of other apps that help fulfill a task, like sharing, appear directly in the foreground app.
  • In the classic shell users often must switch between apps because the data they want is accessible only within a particular app. In Windows Developer Preview, such apps can act as sources for searchable data, sharing services, contacts, and files. This means that selecting and sharing a picture that’s managed in an online service like Flickr is as easy as picking a file that’s on the local hard drive.

With all this aliveness and active integration, it is also important to optimize battery life and maximize the responsiveness of the foreground app. Here is what’s new:

  • Windows Developer Preview automatically suspends background apps once those apps have an opportunity to save their state and finish long-running tasks.
  • Suspended apps remain in memory and can be quickly resumed if the user switches back to them, they’re needed to fulfill a task (like providing search results or a sharing service), or they’ve asked to be awakened in response certain events like a timer or network activity.
  • If the system needs to free memory, it can unload suspended apps, knowing that the app can reload its saved state when it starts up again to bring the user right back to where they left off.
  • Selective app features, such as music, voice-over-IP, and data transfer, can continue running in background mode (subject to user approval).

Finally, because many users spend the majority of their computing time in a web browser, with Windows Developer Preview an app can specify itself as the primary handler for certain internet domains. This means that navigating to those domains takes the user to a typically richer app experience rather than a generic browser experience. Developers can also use header markup in web pages to identify a handler app, which improves app discovery both through the browser and through Bing search.

[What are Metro style apps?]

Your Metro style apps engage users with the info they are interested in and the people they care about. Live tilesupdate users at a glance and draw them into your app.

The Start screen is about showing off what apps are great at. App tiles are alive with status and activity updates, encouraging your users to dive into your app. When designing your tile, you need to:

  • Highlight your brand. Your app tileis a chance to visually define your brand for your users. It should be attractive and distinct.
  • Showcase the info and activities your users are most interested in. You want your users to keep returning to your tile, looking for updates, checking in. You want those updates to pull your users back into the app itself. The more thoughtful you are about the kinds of info and activities you showcase, the more likely users are to engage.

For more info on designing and creating an app tile, see Guidelines and checklist for tiles and Guidelines and checklist for notifications.

[Creating and managing tiles, toast, and Windows push notifications]

In the new Windows Developer Preview Start screen, tiles are the primary representation of an app. Users launch their apps through those tiles and tiles can display new, relevant, and tailored content to the user through [tile] notifications. This makes the Start screen feel vibrant and allows the user to see at a glance what’s new in their world.

An app can also communicate time-critical events to the user through toast notificationswhether the user is in another app, in the Start screen, or on the desktop. The methodology to design and deliver toast closely parallels that of tiles, lowering the learning curve.

Tile notifications, toast notifications, and badge updates [or notification badge] can all originate either from a local API call or from the cloud.

Tiles and tile notifications

Tiles represent your app in the Start screen. They are the primary method for the user to launch your app, but can also surface information and notifications directly through tile itself, making it a dynamic representation of your app even when your app is not running. This contributes to making Windows feel alive and connected. An interesting and useful tile can give a user incentive to launch your app and this aspect of your app development should not be slighted.

Tiles are available in two sizes. Which of the two sizes is displayed is entirely controlled by the user.

  • Square: This tile size can contain application branding—either an application icon or name—as well as potential notification badges. Because a square tile contains only basic information, only one template is available to create them.
  • Wide: This tile size can contain any of the content of a square tile plus richer, more detailed, and more visually compelling content as well. A broad choice of layout templates is available at this size to allow the additional content. Any app that uses a wide tile must also provide a corresponding square tile because the user can choose to shrink the tile at any time as they personalize their Start screen.

The content of a tile is defined in XML, based on a set of templates provided by Windows. To define a tile’s contents, the developer simply retrieves one of the templates and provides their own text and images.

A tile can contain text and images, depending on the template selected, and can also display a badge and either a logo or short name. The badge is displayed in the lower right cornerand the logo or short name in the lower left. The choice of whether to show the logo or the short name is declared in the app manifest.

Cycling

Up to five update notifications can cycle repeatedly through the tile if the developer declares the tile to have the cycling capability. Notifications can be given a tag to use as a replacement ID. Windows examines the tag on a new notification and replaces any saved notification with the same tag. Notifications cycle until they expire, are pushed out of the queue by newer updates, or are replaced in the queue with an updated version of themselves.

Default tiles

When your app is first installed, it is represented by a default tile. This is a simple, static tile defined in your app manifest; generally just a representation of your logo or brand. This tile is replaced only when you send your first tile notification. It’s a significant concept to grasp that the only time you technically “create” a tile is when you define it in your app manifest. All further changes are tile notifications.

Your tile can revert to the default when there are no notifications to be displayed on the tile; for example, when the user is offline or all tile notifications have expired.

As with any tile, if you supply a wide tile, you must also supply a square tile.

Default tiles are rendered on top of the app color, so if there is any transparency in the default tile image, the app background shows through.

Secondary tiles

Secondary tiles provide the ability to create tiles pinned to the Start screen that launch directly to a specific location or subexperience in a parent app. The app decides which content to offer as a pin option, but the user has the final say in whether the secondary tile will be created or deleted. This allows users to personalize their Start screen with the experiences they use the most.

This tile is independent of the main app tile and can receive tile notifications independently. When the secondary tile is activated, an activation context is presented to the parent app so that it can launch in the context of the secondary tile.

Toast notifications

A toast notification is a transient message to the user that contains relevant, time-sensitive information and provides quick access the subject of that content in an app. It can appear whether you are in another app, the Start screen, or on the desktop. Toasts are an optional part of the app experience and are intended to be used only when your app is not the active foreground app.

For your app to be able to receive a toast notification, you must declare that it can do so in your app’s manifest file.

A toast notification can contain text and images but secondary actions such as buttons are not supported. Think of toast as similar to a Windows balloon notification arising from the taskbar’s notification area. Like those notifications, a toast appears in the lower-right corner of the screen. When a user taps or clicks on the toast, the associated app is launched in a view related to the notification. It is the only mechanism by which one app can interrupt a user in another app. Toasts can be activated, dismissed, or ignored by the user. The user can also choose to disable all toasts for an app.

A toast notification should only be used for information considered of high interest to the user, typically involving some form of user opt-in, therefore it is a good choice for incoming e-mail alerts, IM chat requests, and breaking news. However, it is extremely important that when you consider using a toast notification, you realize that, due to its transient nature, the user might never see it.

Raising a toast notification is very similar to sending a tile notifications: a developer creates an XML payload based on a provided template and passes that payload to a manager object to display. Toast is visually distinct from a tile but the markup structure is nearly identical.

There are two types of toast notification:

  • Standard toast: Most developers will use the standard toast. This toast remains on the screen for 7 seconds, playing a brief sound to alert the user when it appears. This toast is best for notifications such as a new e-mail, an IM contact sign-in, or a new social media update.
  • Long-duration toast: This toast looks the same as a standard toast but stays on the screen for 30 seconds and can play longer, looping audio. This is used in situations where developers want to grab the user’s attention because there is a human waiting on the other end of the connection. This type of toast is appropriate for person-to-person communication like instant messages and VOIP calls.

Scheduled and recurring toast

A toast notification can also be scheduled to appear at a specific time. Use this feature for alarms, calendar reminders and notifications that depend on precise timing. These notifications do not depend on the app’s state or the computer’s network connection.

A scheduled toast notification can also display multiple times within a short period to increase the user’s chance of seeing it. For instance, you might want to show important meeting reminders three times, five minutes apart.

Scheduled toast notifications specify the date and time when Windows should raise that toast notification. In the case of a recurring scheduled toast it is the first time that the OS will display the notification.

Badges

A tile can display a notification badgewhich conveys summary or status information concerning and specific to the app. Badges can be displayed on either the square or wide tile. They can be numeric (0-99) or one of a set of Windows-provided glyphs. Examples of information best conveyed through a badge include network connectivity in an online game, user status in a messaging app, number of unread mails in a mail app, or number of new posts in a social media app.

The system provides a set of glyphs for use with a badge. These glyph values are available:

  • none
  • activity
  • alert
  • available
  • away
  • busy
  • newMessage
  • paused
  • playing
  • unavailable
  • error

[Guidelines and checklist for notifications]
  • Use what you know about the user to send personalized, tailored notifications to them through the tile. Tile notifications should be relevant to the user. The available information about a user on which this relevance is based is largely internal to the individual appand may be limited by a user’s privacy choices.For example, a television streaming service can show the user updates about their most-watched show or a traffic condition app can use the user’s current location to show the most relevant map.

     

  • Send updates to the tile frequently so the user feels that the app is connected and receiving fresh, live content. The cadence of tile notifications will depend on the specific app scenario. For instance, a busy social media app could update every 15 minutes, weather every two hours, news a few times a day, daily offers once a day, and a magazine app monthly. If your app would update less than once a week, consider simply using a square tile with a badge.
  • Provide fun and engaging tile notifications to help users make an informed decision about when to launch your app. For instance, if you provide a shopping app, tell the user when a sale is going on.
  • If your app is not connected to cloud updates, use the tile to display local content or recent activity, updated each time the user launches or exits the app. For instance, a photo viewer tile could display photos from a recently added album. A video streaming service could show a static image to represent a video the user recently watched but didn’t finish.
  • Don’t use relative time stamps or dates (for instance, “two hours ago”) on tile notifications because those can become out of date. Use an absolute date and time (for instance, “11:00 A.M.”).

[How to Create the Best User Experience for Your Application [April, 2006]]

Aa468595.humanux_10(en-us,MSDN.10).gif

Figure 10. Custom toast window with graphics and multiple controls

“Toast” windows (see Figure 10), made famous by instant messaging clients like MSN Messenger, are a great solution for informing the user of something without annoying or disrupting his or her work flow. There is a great article by Bill Wagner on creating Toast windows. It is good policy (and manners) to not disturb any other application’s toasts. Obstruction of such windows can be annoying and unproductive. One solution is to use the ToastSemaphore Mutex provided by the OS to avoid toast collision.

Sometimes you may need to show multiple items by the toast. Popping up 3 or more toasts would not really be advisable. Instead, cycling through each by popping/fading one toast after the other would be better. Microsoft Outlook implements a similar solution when notifying the user of incoming e-mails.

[Guidelines and checklist for notifications]

Toast notifications

  • Consider that the user might not see the toast. If the information is important, you may want to retain related information on your tile or within your app views.
  • Notify the user of something personally relevant and time sensitive. Examples include:
    • new e-mails in a mail app
    • an incoming VOIP call
    • a new instant message
    • a new text message
    • a calendar appointment or other reminder
    • notifications that the user has explicitly opted-in for
  • A running app can hide a toast notification if it is no longer valid, such as an incoming call where the other party has hung up or the user has already answered on another device.
  • Do not include text telling the user to “click here to…” It is assumed that all toasts have a click/tap action with a result made clear in the context of the notification.
  • Combine multiple related updates that occur within a short period of time into a single toast. For instance, if you have 3 new e-mails that arrive at the same time, the app or app server should raise a coalesced notification.
  • Don’tuse toast to notify the user of something that must be seen, such as a critical alert. To ensure the user has seen your message, notify them in the context of your app with a flyout, dialog, app bar or other inline element.
  • Don’t use toast to notify the user of transient failures or network events, such as a dropped connection.
  • Don’t notify the user of something they didn’t ask to be notified about. For instance, don’t assume that all users want to be notified each time one of their contacts appears online.
  • Don’t use toast for anything with a high volume of notifications, such as stock price information.
  • Don’t notify the user of something that is not user-initiated, peer-to-peer, or explicitly enabled by the user.
  • Don’t use toast notifications for non-real time information, such as a picture of the day.
  • Don’t use toast to notify the user of routine maintenance happenings, such as the completion of an anti-virus scan.
  • Don’t raise a toast when your application is in the foreground. Use PushNotificationReceivedEventHandler to intercept push notifications when your application is running.
[Working with templates]

A badge is used to provide status on a tile, such as the number of new e-mails received or the status of a network connection. There are two variations: a number and a glyph. Badges are also defined as an XML document and its elements are defined in the badge schema.

[Guidelines and checklist for tiles]
  • Tile designers should attempt to create an appealing tile for their app that presents new, tailored, and engaging content that the user will want to check in the Start screen and that invites them to launch the app.
  • For a suite of apps, create one tile for each unique app in the suite.
  • Don’t create multiple tiles that open subexperiences in the same app. There should only be one tile for each unique app. Instead, consider whether secondary tiles [content tiles] would be a better option for those scenarios.
  • Don’t clutter the user’s Start screen with tiles for extras or accessories along with the app’s main tile. Only create multiple tiles when the product is truly a suite and each tile represents a separate core app in that suite.
  • Don’t create a tile for a configuration or troubleshooting experience within the app. That functionality should be provided to the user through the app’s Setting charm.

  • Don’t use tiles for advertisements.
  • Avoid the overuse of loud colors in tiles; simple, clean, elegantly designed tiles will be more successful than those that scream for attention.
  • Don’t use images with text on them; use a template with text fields for any text content needs.
  • Don’t rely on tiles to send urgent real-time information to the user. For instance, a tile is not the right medium for a news app to communicate an immediate earthquake evacuation message. Toast is a better medium for messages of an urgent nature.
  • Avoid image content that looks like a hyperlink, button, or other control. Tiles do not support those elements and the entire tile is a single click target.
[Creating and managing secondary tiles]

Secondary tiles [content tiles] enable users to promote interesting content and deep links—a reference to a specific location inside of the pinning app—from Metro style apps onto the Start screen. Secondary tiles enable users to personalize their Start screen experience with playlists, photo albums, friends, and other items important to them.

The option to create a secondary tile is seen most often in UI as the Pin to startoption. To pin content is to create a secondary tile for it. This option is often presented as a glyph on the app bar.

Selecting the secondary tile through a touch or a click launches into the parent app to reveal a focused experience centered on the pinned content or contact.

Only users can create a secondary tile; apps cannot create secondary tiles programmatically.Users also have explicit control over secondary tile removal, either through the Start screen or through the parent app.

Secondary tilesare associated with a single parent app. They are pinned to the Start screen to provide a user with a consistent and efficient way to launch directly into a frequently used area of the parent app. This can be either a general subsection of the parent app that contains frequently updated content or a deep link to a specific area in the app.

Examples of secondary tile scenarios include:

  • Weather updates for a specific city in a weather app
  • A summary of upcoming events in a calendar app
  • Status and updates from an important contact in a social app
  • Specific feeds in an RSS reader

Any frequently changing content that a user wants to monitor is a good candidate for a secondary tile. Once the secondary tile is pinned, users can receive at-a-glance updates through the tile and use it to launch directly into the parent app to reveal a focused experience centered on the pinned content or contact.

[Adding a splash screen]

A splash screen is requiredfor all Metro style apps.

.Hh465332.ux_splash_intro(en-us,VS.85).png

Your default splash screen displays when users launch your app, providing immediate feedback to users while your app initialized its resources. When your app’s first view is ready for interaction, the splash screen is dismissed. Good use of a splash screen can improve how the user perceives the performance of your application.

You can customize your application’s loading display by specifying the splash screen image and background color, and by using the Splash Screen API to display your splash screen for longer, and/or to notify your app when your splash screen is dismissed.

Extending the length of time that your splash screen is displayed enables your application to complete additional startup tasks and display additional loading information. For example, your app might need to load resources from the network. You would extend your splash screen by retrieving the coordinates of the splash image in order to construct your own splash screen (which is the first view in your app) that mimics the default splash screen, but can also provide the user with additional loading information. Mimicking the default splash screen in this way ensures that your app is in full control of its loading process while also maintaining a clean, consistent, loading experience for users.

If you have entrance animations, detecting when the splash screen is dismissed lets you know when to begin your app’s entrance animations.

[Choosing the right UI surfaces]

You have a number of surfaces you can use in your Metro style app, like the app window, pop-ups, dialogs, and bars. Choosing the right surface at the right time can mean the difference between an app that is a breeze to use or a burden.

The app window, or canvas

The app window, sometimes called the canvas, is the base of your UI. The canvas holds all of your content and controls. Whenever possible, you should integrate your UI elements into this base surface. For example, instead of using a pop-up to display an error, you can smoothly show, hide, or shift the error message on the window with the built-in animations. Presenting your UI inline lets users fully immerse themselves in your app and stay in context.

The app bar

Outside of the app window, the app bar is the primary command interface for your app. Use the app bar to present navigation, commands, and tools to users. The app bar is hidden by default and appears when users swipe a finger from the top or bottom edge of the screen. It covers the content of the app and can be dismissed by the user with an edge swipe, or by interacting with the app.

Hh465304.app_bar1(en-us,VS.85).png

The charms bar

The charms bar presents a specific and consistent set of buttons to users in every app: search, share, connect, settings, and start. We believe these are core scenarios that every user wants to do in almost every app they use.

  • SearchUsers can search for content located your app or in another app, and they can search your app’s content from another app.
  • ShareUsers can share content from your app with people or services.
  • ConnectUsers can connect to devices and send content, stream media, and print.
  • SettingsUsers can configure your app to their preferences.
  • Start Users can go directly to the Start screen.

Context menus

The context menu, sometimes called a popup menu, shows actions that users can perform on text or UI elements in an app. You can use up to five commands on each content menu, like cut, copy, or open with. This limit keeps the context menu uncluttered, easy-to-read, and directly relevant to the text or object that the commands act on.

Hh465304.ux_contextmenus(en-us,VS.85).png

Don’t use context menus as the primary command interface for an app. That’s what the app bar is for.

Message dialogs

Message dialogs are dialogs that require explicit user interaction. They dim the app window and demand a user response before continuing. Use message dialogs only when you intend to stop the user and to demand response.

Hh465304.message_dialog1(en-us,VS.85).png

In the example above, the app window is dimmed, and the user must tap one of the two buttons to dismiss the dialog. That is, the message in the dialog cannot be ignored.

Flyouts

Flyouts show temporary, dismissable UI related to what the user is currently doing. For example, you can use flyouts to ask the user to confirm an action, to show a drop-down menu from a button the app bar, or to show more details about an item. Flyouts are different from message dialogs in that you should show a flyout only in response to a user tap or click, and you should always dismiss the flyout when the user taps outside of it; you should show a message dialog only when you need to interrupt the user and demand some kind of interaction.

Hh465304.flyout_command(en-us,VS.85).png

In the example above, the app stays active, and the user can tap the button or tap outside the flyout to dismiss it. That is, the message in the flyout can be ignored.

Toasts

Toasts are notifications that you show to users when your app is in the background. Toasts are great at updating users with information they want to know in real-time, but it’s ok if they miss. Users tap on the toast to switch to your app and learn more.

Errors

Errors within an app can be communicated to the user through three main surfaces. The right surface for an error is chosen by the app developer based on the content and consequences of the error. See also Guidelines and checklist for error messaging.

To show: Use this surface:
A non-critical error specific to an element in the app. Your app cannot fix the problem, but users can.User interaction: Users can continue to interact with the app, system components, and other apps without dismissing the error.

Example: The user enters an invalid string in a text box and then retypes it.

Text inline on the canvas· Text only

· Dismissed by app

· Appears inline near the source of the error

A non-critical error that applies to the whole app. Your app cannot fix the problem, but users can.User interaction: Users can continue to interact with the app, system components, and other apps without dismissing the error.

Example: Mail cannot sync at the moment.

Text at the top of the page· Text only

· Dismissed by app

· Appears at the top of the page

A significant but non-critical error that applies to the whole app and your app can suggest a solution.User interaction: Users can respond to your prompt or continue to interact with the app, system components, and other apps without dismissing the error. Error and warning bar· Text, two buttons

· Dismissed by user

· Appears near the top of the page

A critical error that applies to the whole app and prevents the user from using the app.User interaction: Users cannot continue interacting with the app unless they dismiss the error. Users can still interact with system components and use other apps. Message dialog· Text, 1 to 3 buttons, title (optional)

· Dismissed by user

· Appears centered across the app

Do not use flyouts, toasts, or custom UI surfacesto display errors.

Errors: Inline text

In general, the inline error is the first choice of surface. An inline text error delivers messages in the context of the user’s current actions or the current app page itself. An inline error does not require an explicit user action to dismiss the message. The message goes away automatically when it no longer applies.

Do
Align the message with the control or element that the message relates to.

Lay out the message with ample surround space to increase its focal strength.

The following example shows an inline error message associated with a specific text box.

Hh465304.error_inline(en-us,VS.85).png

Don’t
Include actions or commands in the message.

In the following example, an Error and Warning bar would be a better choice.

Hh465304.error_inline_incorrect(en-us,VS.85).png

Errors: Error or warning bar

Use a Error or Warning bar to notify users of important errors and warnings and to encourage the user to take action. Error messages inform users that a problem occurred, explain why it happened, and provide a solution so users can fix the problem. Warning messages alert a user of a condition that might cause a problem in the future.

Do
Position the bar at the top of the screen, encouraging the user to notice and take action.

Color the bar with a color from the app’s palette.

Use the same color and layout for all your error and warning bars.

Hh465304.error_bar(en-us,VS.85).png

Don’t
Display bars with different colors or glyphs (such as a shield or exclamation point) based on perceived severity.

Use an ‘X’ glyph to close the bar; instead, use a labeled Close button.

Use an error and warning bar for information-only message.

The message in the example below is purely informational and no action is required. In this case, an inline message at the top of the screen should have been used.

Hh465304.error_bar_incorrect(en-us,VS.85).png

Errors: Message dialogs

Use a message dialog only if a modal message is required, blocking the user from interacting with the app.

Do
Use a message dialog if the user must take action before using the app any further.

The following example is an appropriate use of an error message dialog because users cannot use the app unless they have an active account.

Hh465304.error_dialog(en-us,VS.85).png

Don’t
Use a dialog if the user can ignore the message.

In the following example, there is nothing about the error that would require you to block users until they address it. An error or warning bar would have been a better choice.

Windows 8: the first 12 hours headlines and reports

After  A too early assesment of the emerging ‘Windows 8’ dev & UX functionality [June 24, 2011] we came to an as full disclosure as possible by the keynote of the BUILD conference. Here are the very first (12 hours) reactions to that:

Windows 8 debuts at Microsoft Build (live blog) [cnet, with keynote liveblog replay embedded]

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Powering Windows 8 Prototype PCs [PCMag.com]
At the Build conference, in Anaheim, Microsoft demonstrated a number of prototype PCs running its Windows 8 development platform. And if you expected Intel or AMD guts in most of them, you’d be wrong.

Qualcomm Powers Next Generation of Windows 8-Based Prototype PCs Previewed at Microsoft BUILD [Qualcomm press release]

The next generation of Snapdragon processors is a family of all-in-one chipsets with the option for integrated multimode 3G/4G, differing numbers of CPU cores and the ability to support a range of device types.

Shown for the first time, Qualcomm’s Gobi solution provided the 3G/4G LTE connectivity of a Windows 8-based prototype PC. Qualcomm’s Gobi mobile Internet connectivity solution is a pre-certified multi-mode 3G/4G LTE module that makes it easy for OEMs to certify the connectivity of any Windows 8-based PC. By integrating a Gobi-based module into Windows 8-based PCs, Qualcomm will provide a fast, easy-to-use global connectivity solution for an untethered, productive user experience.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon family of mobile processors also delivers dual-band Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth and FM radio connectivity through Qualcomm Atheros’ WCN3660 combo chip. The WCN3660 is an integrated solution optimized to work with a broad range of mobile operating systems and will be the first in a series of 802.11n wireless LAN solutions to fully support Windows 8.
[see also:
Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs with a new way of easy identification [Aug 4, 2011]
Next-gen Snapdragon S4 class SoCs — exploiting TSMC’s 28nm process first — coming in December [Aug 9, 2011]
Mobile Internet (Aug’11) containing a lot of information about Qualcomm’s truly leading edge capabilities in that space
]

Hands-on with Windows 8: A PC operating system for the tablet age [ars technica, pre-written with full knowledge already, but published just as the keynote began]

It’s not finished yet, and Microsoft still has plenty of work ahead of it, but one thing is clear: Windows 8 is a genuine, uncompromised tablet operating system.

Liveblog: Microsoft previews Windows Server 8 at BUILD [ars technica, with keynote liveblog replay embedded]

Hands-on with Windows 8: it’s good stuff on the PC, too [ars technica, published (?written?) after the keynote quite probably because the keynote was mostly Metro/tablet oriented]

[summarized opinion in the end of the article:]
Windows 8 is a usable touch-screen tablet operating system, and it certainly has some compelling features when used on that kind of machine. The look of the software is different from what traditional Windows users are used to, but the operating system remains true to its PC roots: you can use it on a tablet, but you won’t need to.

//Build/–Windows 8 Thoughts [the below summarized opininion of a blogger already got 49 votes “for” vs. 1 vote “against” on DZone]

Game on. After going through the Day 1 keynote for the Build event, I should say I’m pretty much convinced that Microsoft has got the equation correct. They corrected the Tablet part of the equation, and got the entire Cloud <-> Tablet stack in place, with proper platforms and a nice set of developer tools. And with out doubt, Windows 8 devices are going to be a definite competitor for iPad/iOS, and Microsoft has officially entered the post PC era.

Windows 8 can run on an Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM [engadget]

We highly doubt it’s enjoyable, but at least you (probably) won’t be forced into an upgrade if you don’t want to be.

Microsoft launches Windows 8 developer preview, downloads are live! [engadget]

everything from “10-inch tablets to laptops to all-in-ones with 27-inch HD screens” will be able to ingest Win8 with ease. That’s a markedly different take than the folks in Cupertino have expressed, with an (admittedly limiting) mobile OS being chosen to run the tablet side of things. Only time will tell which mantra proves more viable, but we’re guessing the both of ’em will find varying levels of success.

Windows 8 for tablets hands-on preview (video) [engadget]

Wrap-up

With the introduction of OS X Lion, Apple gave us a glimpse at what a post-PC operating system might look like, and now Microsoft’s gone and pushed that idea to the limit. If Cupertino’s latest was a tease, than Windows 8 is full frontal. And we have to admit, we like what we see. Sure this may not be the final build, or anywhere near it, but for whatever flaws it may have, the UI being offered in this developer preview is really something special. Time will tell if the “one ecosystem to rule them all” approach will catch on, but for now it’s time to give props where props are due — at least until we can get our hands on a final build.

Windows 8 Store to sell both Metro-style apps and conventional Win32 programs [engadget]

Oh, sure — you’ve already started digging into the upcoming Windows Store (or, at least what it’ll deliver), but Microsoft just revealed a cute little nugget about its future functionality here at Build 2011. In keeping with its mantra of making Windows 8 a one-size-fits-all affair, the Store will be home to both Metro-style apps (useful for tablets and desktops alike) as well as traditional Win32 programs.
windows-8-platform-tools

Microsoft demos NFC-based tap-to-share for Windows 8 devices (updated) [engadget]

There’s not a ton of details on this just yet, but Microsoft confirmed during its Build keynote today that Windows 8 devices equipped with an NFC chip will be able to use a tap-to-share feature to either send content from one device to another, or simply receive content from something like an NFC-equipped card.

Update: NXP Semiconductors has now confirmed that it “worked closely” with Microsoft to develop an NFC driver for Windows 8, and that it’s also supplied the NFC solution used in the Windows 8 tablets given out at Build. According to the company, the NFC support in Windows 8 includes things like device pairing (simply tapping to pair a Bluetooth headset, for example), data sharing, and the ability to transfer control from one device to another (such as during a video call). And that’s all to say nothing of the usual fare like interacting with an NFC-enhanced advertisement, not to mention other applications that will surely follow once it’s actually put into practice. The company’s press release is after the break.
[NXP’s NFC Solution Supports Windows 8]

Microsoft shows Windows 8 on existing Ultrabooks, acts like it’s never seen a thin laptop before [engadget]

Microsoft gives Samsung Windows 8 developer PCs to Build attendees, AT&T throws in 3G service [engadget]

… that PC comes complete with a second-gen Intel Core i5 processor, an 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 Samsung Super PLS display, a 64GB SSD, 4GB of RAM, and a dock with a USB, HDMI and Ethernet ports.
[Super PLS (Plane Line Switching): see A Beautiful Display [Anandtech, June 13, 2011] from which the below photo is copied here to explain the improvement of Super PLS over previous S-IPS and I-IPS: 
]

NVIDIA opens Windows 8 developer program with support for Kal-El tablets [engadget]

… it’ll embrace not just x86-based PCs, but Tegra-powered tablets as well. Specifically, that means support for its forthcoming quad-core Tegra platform, codenamed Kal-El, along with PCs packing GeForce, Quadro and Tesla cards.
[NVIDIA [press release] Helps Transform the PC With Windows 8 Developer Program]

Windows 8 details: new features, UI enhancements and everything in between [engadget]

Staying true to its roots, the new OS implements the familiar keyboard commands users have become accustomed to over the years — you know, like CMD and Ctrl+F. And as for its update to Internet Explorer, MS has imbued its tenth iteration with the ability to switch between the much-hyped Metro-style UI and plain old desktop view — all according to your whimsy. Of course, Redmond’s instituted other sweeping changes across the platform, and you can check some of the highlights after the break.

  • All Windows 7 applications will run natively on Windows 8
  • Security update notifications have been minimized to the lower right of the log-in screen
  • Refreshed Windows Task Manager suspends apps when they’re not running on-screen
  • New “Reset and Refresh PC” functions enable simplified system wipe and restore
  • HyperV virtualization software comes pre-loaded on Windows 8
  • Multi-monitor support now enables a single background across screens, as well as monitor-specific task bars
  • Multi-touch support enabled for Internet Explorer 10
  • Magnifier function enhanced for desktop manipulation
  • Optional thumb-by-thumb input mode
  • SkyDrive storage support integrated into all cloud-based apps
  • Metro-style refresh for Mail, Photos, Calendar and People apps with Windows Live ID
  • Settings roam allows for preferences to sync across a user’s Windows 8 devices
  • Continued update support for Windows 8 Developer Preview Beta
  • Even a Lenovo S10(first-gen Atom + 1GB of RAM) can “run” Windows 8
  • There’s “no overlays” with Windows 8; Metro-style goodness is baked into the core
  • Both Metro-style and conventional Win32 apps will be soldin the Windows Store
  • Windows 8 devices equipped with an NFC chip will be able to use a tap-to-sharefeature to either send content from one device to another, or simply receive content from something like an NFC-equipped card.
  • Logins will use a photo-based system
  • Apps will be able to natively connect and understand one another (if written as such)
  • Built-in antivirus software will ship in Windows 8
  • There will notbe a different edition of Windows 8 for tablets, and presumably, not for Media Centers either
  • It’s unclear how many “editions” (Home, Professional, Ultimate, etc.) of Windows 8 there will be
  • ARM devices will be supported, but not in the developer preview

Windows 8 developer preview: when and where to download (update: right now, here!) [engadget]

… you’ll be able to download a copy of the Windows Developer Preview to your 32- or 64-bit x86 machine (no activation required) from dev.windows.com. Sorry, ARM hopefuls!

Microsoft launches Windows 8 preview [Computerworld, ]
Microsoft will post the first developer preview beta of Windows 8 late on Tuesday, the company announced as it showed off the new OS running on a Samsung tablet.

5,000 Microsoft developers get Samsung preview tablets [Computerworld, ]
Microsoft on Tuesday gave the 5,000 developers attending its BUILD conference preview units of a Samsung tablet running a version of the upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

Windows 8 on ARM to open up for developer scrutiny  [Computerworld, ]
Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS running on ARM prototype tablets and other devices will be open for developer scrutiny at the software giant’s Build conference this week.

Microsoft opens Windows 8 preview to all [Computerworld, ]
Taking a different tack than it did three years ago, Microsoft has made a preview of Windows 8 available to anyone who takes the time to download it.

Microsoft leaves Windows 8 questions unanswered [Computerworld, the headline on the homepage of the Computerworld after the day earlier demonstration for journalists and analysts, while the article headline is a more natural one: “Windows 8 steps beyond the desktop”]
On the Windows computer of the future, live tiles will replace icons, touch-based gestures will replace mouse clicks and semantic zooming will replace the arduous traversal through nested menus and folders.

Microsoft leaves Windows 8 questions unanswered, say experts [Computerworld, the same thing reiterated now with quoting analysts to support the Computerworld headline]
Today’s long-awaited look at Windows 8 left analysts almost as perplexed as they were before Microsoft’s top Windows executive walked onto a California stage.

But if Microsoft was hoping to generate excitement about the upgrade, it succeeded, if only because of the fast-paced presentation by Steven Sinofsky, the president of the Windows group.

“It all looks great,” said Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland-Wash. research firm that specializes in tracking Microsoft’s moves. “If the goal was to get everyone excited, they did that. I was impressed by what they showed, by what they’ve done, but it’s too much to digest. I think I’ll have to watch the keynote [webcast] two or three more times to get it all.”

During the keynote, Sinofsky and other Microsoft executives spent most of their time showing off what they called the “Metro experience,” a tile-style, full-screen interface borrowed from Windows Phone 7 that’s intended to address the company’s lack of a true touch-based operating system.

“This is interesting for consumers,” added Michael Silver, a Gartner analyst who attended the keynote. “Certainly, Microsoft has to catch up on tablets [with Apple and Google] and get consumers excited about Windows again. I think this was a good effort at trying to do that.”

But for Cherry and Silver, who spend most of their time scrutinizing Windows for corporate clients, not consumers, there were tons of unanswered questions.

“We still don’t know when this will be shipped,” noted Cherry. “And we don’t know how stable Windows 8 is. Remember, these were all demos, and demos are carefully rehearsed.”

Silver echoed Cherry.

“They haven’t made the case yet that enterprises will want this,” said Silver. “I expect that they will have [enterprise-specific features] to show later, but at this point there are still lots of questions that haven’t been answered.”

Tops on his list: Can Microsoft successfully pitch Windows 8 as an upgrade for businessesthat have just recently migrated to its predecessor, Windows 7?

“Microsoft has implied that [Windows 8] would not drive an upgrade cycle,” said Silver, talking about corporations purchasing new computers to replace outdated machines and operating systems. “After all the work on Windows 7 deployment, organizations will think twice before deploying this everywhere,” said Silver. “They’re looking for a little respite, and planning to take a break because of migration fatigue.”

But Cherry was taken with the apparently smooth integration of the two interfaces: Metro and the traditional desktopfamiliar to users for decades.

“It appears that they will coexist well,” said Cherry. “I don’t envision a lot of problems for businesses there, although we’ll have to see how they handle group policies.”

Even so, he was hesitant to applaud Windows 8 until he knows more.

The story they’re trying to tell — that they’ve re-imagined Windows — is a good story, but when I hear that they’re making major changes, I remember that changes lead to instability.”

Later today, Microsoft will distribute Samsung tabletswith a developer preview of Windows 8 to attendees at the BUILD Windows conference, which Sinofsky kicked off with the two-and-a-half hour presentation.

Microsoft has not said anything about when it will release a Windows 8 beta that will be available to the general public.

Windows 8 BUILD conference – The best reviews

Microsoft is currently previewing Windows 8 at the BUILD conferenceand the web goes crazy. It appears the interest in Windows 8 is even bigger than it was for Window 7. Of course, this is due to the fact that Windows 8 is the biggest overhaul since Windows 95.

I compiled a collection of the best Windows 8 reviews that have been published today. I divided the link list into two sections. The first part covers general reviews, and the second part specific Windows 8 features.

The first blog post is from Steven Sinofsky (President of the Windows Division). Most interesting is that everyone will be able to download the developer’s prelease of Windows 8 later today.

General Windows 8 reviews

Windows 8 feature reviews

On the spot responses

Windows 8 Shines at Build Keynote

Microsoft Build: Windows 8 will scale from tablets to PCs to servers

Top 10 Features of Windows 8: Will Microsoft Outshine Apple?

Build 2011: What Is WinRT, and Is Silverlight Dead?

Microsoft BUILD Event: Three Top Priorities for Windows 8

Windows 8 and Office 365: Microsoft’s Killer Cloud Combo?

Windows 8 boots ‘faster than monitor’

Microsoft Touts Windows 8, “Reimagines” Computing

Microsoft blows up Windows with Windows 8

Microsoft Build conference starts with Windows 8 demo, talks on programming apps and hardware platforms

Microsoft’s BUILD Conference Windows 8 Blowout

Sinofsky Spotlights ‘Fast and Fluid’ Windows 8 in Build Keynote

Microsoft Gives BUILD Attendees Copies Of Windows 8

Build 2011: First Glimpse of the Windows 8 App Store

Microsoft shows off new Windows 8 tablets, notebooks and more

Microsoft Demoes Windows 8 Features At BUILD Conference [SCREENSHOTS]

Developers receive Windows 8 tablets; Windows 8 DP build coming

Microsoft BUILD: Windows 8 developer preview now available

BUILD 2011: Windows 8 keynote highlights

Microsoft Build conference 2011: Windows 8 round up

Microsoft launches Windows 8 and details new features at Build 2011

Microsoft Demoes Windows 8 Features At BUILD Conference [SCREENSHOTS]

Microsoft showcases Windows 8 at BUILD

Microsoft’s Build Windows 2011 [Windows 8 info]
The Build Windows Conference has initiated, I would quickly give you a foreword : The Windows 8 OS Showcase seems outstanding in terms of interface. It seems as if your big computer screen is going to have a interface as competitive as Android or iOS.
Windows 8 Build Windows 2011 [Update 2]
Windows 8 Build Windows 2011 [Update 3]

Samsung Windows 8 tablet revealed at Build 2011

Microsoft Previews Windows 8 at BUILD Conference

Windows 8 Details Emerge at Build Conference Demo

Microsoft unveils Windows 8 – New features and screenshots

Tuesday Keynote @ Build Windows 8 [quite good notes]

Keynote started with a video of developers, designers etc. working on Windows 8 giving their favorite features in Win8.

  • ~450 million copies of Win7 sold (1500 non-security product changes seamlessly delivered)
  • Consumer usage higher than XP
  • 542 million Windows Live sign-ins every month

Lots of change in Windows

  • Form factors/UI models create new opportunities (touch)
    • “People who say touch is only for small or lightweight devices are wrong. As soon as you use touch on a tablet, you’re going to want to touch on your desktop & laptop.”
  • Mobility creates new usage models – e.g. use while reclining on a couch
  • Apps can’t be silos – “customers want a web of applications”
    • Apps to interact easily
    • Services are intrinsic

What is Win8?

  • Makes Windows 7 even better – everything that runs on Win7 will run on Win8
  • Reimagines Windows from the chipset (ARM work) through the UI experience
    • All demos shown today are equally at home on ARM and x86

Performance / Fundamentals

Kernel Memory Usage

Win 7 RTM
540 MB
34 processes

Win 7 SP 1
404 MB
32 processes

Win 8 Dev Preview
281 MB
29 processes

Demos

User Experience (Julie)

  1. Fast and fluid – everything’s animated
  2. Apps are immersive and full screen
  3. Touch first – keyboard/mouse are first-class citizens (“you’re going to want all three”)
  4. Web of apps that work together – “when you get additional apps, the system just gets richer and richer”
  5. Experience this across devices and architectures
  6. Notes from Julie’s demo
  • Picture password – poke at different places on an image (3 strokes) to login
  • Tiles on the home screen – each is an app – easily rearranged. Pinch to zoom in/out
  • On screen keyboard pops up
  • Swipe from right side to bring up Start screen – swipe up from bottom to get app menus (“app bar”) – relevant system settings (e.g. sound volume/mute) also appear
  • Select text in a browser – drag from right side to see “charms” – these are exposed by apps. One is “Share” – shows all apps that support the “Share contract”.
    • Think of sharing as a very semantically rich clipboard.
    • Target app can implement its own panel for information (e.g. login, tags, etc.) for sharing when it’s the target.
  • Search
    • Can search applications, files – apps can also expose a search contract to make it easy for search to find app-specific data.
  • Inserting a picture
    • Shows pix on computer
    • Social networking sites can add content right into picture file picker
  • Showed settings syncing from one machine to another machine she is logged in on that is an ARM machine.

Metro-style Platform/Tools (Antoine)

  • Current platform a mixed bag – silo of HTML/Javascript on top of IE, C#/VB on top of .NET & Silverlight, and
  • Metro apps can be built in any language
  • Reimagined the Windows APIs – “Windows Runtime” (Windows RT).
    • 1800 objects natively built into Windows – not a layer.
    • Reflect those in C#/VB.Net/C++/C/JavaScript
    • Build your UI in XAML or HTML/CSS
  • Launch Visual Studio 11 Express – new app to build Metro apps.
    • Pick the language you want – pick the app template you want.
  • Enable millions of web developers to build these apps for Windows.
  • Code you write can run either locally or in a browser from a web server – just JavaScript and HTML 5.
  • New format – App Package – that encapsulates
  • Use mouse or touch seamlessly – no special code.
  • Modify button to bring up file picker dialog…
    • Also allows connecting to Facebook if the app that connects FB photos to the local pictures is there – every app now gets access to FB photos.
  • Adding support for the “Share” contract is 4 lines of JS
  • Use Expression Blend to edit not just XAML but HTML/CSS.
    • Add an App Bar – just a <div> on the HTML page.
    • Drag button into there to get Metro style where commands are in the app bar
  • Uses new HTML 5 CSS layout as Grid. Allows for rotation, scaling, etc. Center canvass within the grid.
  • Expression lets you look at snapped view, docked view, portrait, landscape.
  • 58 lines of code total
  • Post app to the Windows Store
    • In VS Store / Upload Package…
    • Licensing model built into app package format. Allows trials.
    • Submit to Certification
      • Part of the promise of the store to Windows users is the apps are safe and high quality.
      • Processes can be a bit bureaucratic.
      • Does compliance, security testing, content compliance.
      • Will give Developers all the technical compliance tools to run themselves.
    • The Store is a Windows app. Built using HTML/JavaScript
  • Win32 Apps
    • Not going to require people to rewrite those to be in the store.
    • Don’t have to use Win8 licensing model.
    • Give the Win32 apps a free listing service.
  • XAML / Silverlight
    • Using ScottGu sample SilverLight 2 app.
    • Not a Metro app – input stack doesn’t give touch access.
    • How to make it a Metro app?
      • Runtime environments between SL and Win8 are different.
      • Had to change some using statements, networkin layer.
      • Reused all the XAML and data binding code – it just came across.
      • Declare it supports “Search” and add a couple of lines of code.
    • Also can use same code on the Windows Phone.
    • “All of your knowledge around Silverlight, XAML just carries across.”
  • If you write your app in HTML5/CSS/XAML, it will run on x86/x64/ARM. If you want to write native code, we’ll help make it cross-compile to these platforms.
  • IE 10 is the same rendering engine as for the Metro apps.
  • Can roam all settings across your Win8 machines – including you app settings if you want.

Hardware Platform (MikeAng)

  • 8 second boot time – win7 pc.
  • UEFI
  • New power state called “Connected Standby”
    • Windows coalesces all the timer and network requests, turns the radio on periodically to satisfy them, then goes back to very low power consumption.
    • But because app requests are getting satisfied they are up to date as soon as you press “ON”
  • USB 3 ~4x faster at copying a 1 GB file than USB 2
  • Can boot Win8 from up to 256 TB drive.
  • Direct Compute API – can offload compute loads to GPU
  • Every Metro app has hardware acceleration UI baked in.
  • Doing work with OEMs on testing sensitivity of touch hardware
    • Windows reserves only one pixel on each side for the Windows UI, so sensitivity important.
  • Down to 1024 x 768 for Metro apps. If 1366 x 768, get full Windows UI (side-by-side snap in). Any form factor – about resolution.
  • Have a sensor fusion API – accelerameter, touch.
  • NFC – near field communication – business card can have a little antenna built in to send data to Win8.
  • Integrating device settings (web cam, HP printer, etc.) into Metro UI rather than as a third-party app.
  • Ultra Books
    • Full core powered processor in a super-thin and light package.
    • Some are thinner than legacy connectors – RJ45 and VGA – they are bumps.
    • These things are mostly battery.
  • Samsung PC giveaway – to all BUILD attendees
    • 64 GB SSD
    • 4 GB RAM (Steven: “so you can run Visual Studio”)
    • AT&T 3G included for one year (2GB/mo)
    • Windows tablet + development platform.
    • 2nd generation core i5
    • 1366×768 display from Samsung – amazing
  • Refresh your PC without affecting your files
    • Files and personalization don’t change.
    • PC settings are restored to default
    • All Metro apps are kept – others are removed.
    • Command-line tool to establish base image for this for pros.
  • Hyper-V in the Windows 8 client
  • ISOs get mounted as DVD drives.
  • Multi Mon –
    • Screen background extends
    • Task bar customizes to multi-mon – can have identical across two mons or have per-monitor task bar (show only apps running on that monitor)
    • Ctrl/PgDn to switch Metro start screen between the two monitors – develop on one, test on another.
  • Keyboard works the same – type “cmd” from Metro Start screen and are in search for CMD.

Cloud Services (ChrisJo)

  • Windows Live mail Metro client connects both Exchange and Hotmail.
    • Full power delivered by ActiveSync.
  • Windows Live Metro calendar app.
  • Bring together all the Friends through Linked In, Facebook, Windows Live.
  • Photos
    • Connected to Facebook, Flickr, local photos.
    • Written as a Metro app.
  • SkyDrive – 100 million people.
    • Every Win8 user, every Win Phone has a SkyDrive.
    • Also accessible to developers – access the same way as you would use local store.

Wrap

  • Used college interns to develop sample apps included in dev preview build.
  • 17 teams (2-3 devs per team).
  • 10 weeks.

Developer Preview (not Beta).

Learn more:

MSFT will let everyone download the Developer preview starting tonight.

http://dev.windows.com

  • X86 (32- and 64-bit)
  • With Tools + Apps or just Apps
  • No activation, self-support.

Pre-written with full knowledge already:

Microsoft BUILD: Windows 8, A Pre-Beta Preview [AnandTech single multi-part article]

ZDNet’s whole series (mostly pre-written with full knowledge already):

Windows 8 unveiled
This morning, Microsoft officially took the wraps off of Windows 8, unveiling its radically revised new operating system in front af an audience of software developers. I had a chance to get my hands on the new system (literally) last night. Here’s what you can look forward to.
September 13, 2011 | 9:05am PDT

Microsoft to developers: Metro is your future
Silverlight and .Net are not dead (yet). But Metro is really the future for Windows 8, Microsoft is telling developers on the opening day of Build.
September 13, 2011 | 9:13am PDT

Windows 8 will ship with built-in antivirus protection
In a move that is likely to anger the antivirus industry, Microsoft is adding security features from its Security Essentials program to Windows 8.
September 13, 2011 | 2:36 PM PDT

Nvidia launches Windows 8 developer program
Under Nvidia’s Windows 8 developer program, its quad-core Tegra processor, GeForce GPUs, Quadro and Tesla processors will be included.
September 13, 2011 | 12:00 PM PDT

Windows 8 will run on old Atom CPUs and 1GB RAM
Seems like Microsoft’s taken those bloatware claims to heart and has actually been working hard to minimize the system requirements footprint of the OS.
September 13, 2011 | 10:58 AM PDT

Get the Windows 8 Developer Preview – Today!
Want to check out Windows 8? You’ll be able to tonight!
September 13, 2011 | 10:32 AM PDT

Microsoft’s Windows 8: Here’s what we now know (and don’t)
Microsoft’s Windows 8 developer conference kicks off on September 13. Here’s a cheat sheet of what we now know and don’t going into the four-day confab.
September 13, 2011 | 9:05 AM PDT

Microsoft’s big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras
Windows 8 is one mammoth hedge on the possibility that PCs won’t be able to evolve well in a land of Android and Apple smartphones and tablets.
September 13, 2011 | 2:35 AM PDT

Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 ‘Apollo’ OS convergence, Tango1 and Tango2, and more
Is Windows and Windows Phone OS going to converge to form one all-encompassing OS? With Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, code name “Apollo,” it may just happen.
September 12, 2011 | 2:21 PM PDT

Five unanswered Windows 8 questions
By the end of the day tomorrow, we’ll know much more about Windows 8. But some questions will remain unanswered, even after a thorough demo. Here are the top five on my list.
September 12, 2011 | 10:00 AM PDT

winrumors whole series (some pre-written with some knowledge already):

[the indicated hours are relative to September 13, 2011 | 12:00pm PDT]

Windows 8 really does change everything, it’s mind-blowing
Microsoft is welcoming around 5,000 developers to its BUILD conference today to unveil the most significant change in the PC space since Windows 95. “It’s a launch,” explains Windows chief Steven Sinofsky. 15 hours ago

Hands on with Windows 8′s new Metro experience
Microsoft unveils Windows 8 to the world today, a reimagined Windows for the next-generation of devices and hardware. The new Start Screen and immersive Metro experience are designed to make experiences in Windows 8 “totally … 15 hours ago

Windows 8 Metro apps and Windows Store
Microsoft’s new application model for Windows 8 comes coupled with a Windows Store for developers and end users. The Windows Store will play a big role in Windows 8 applications going forward. 15 hours ago

Windows 8: classic desktop features
Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system sees a fresh start for the interface as a whole, but what about classic desktop? Don’t fear if you’re a die hard Windows power user. Microsoft has kept the fundamentals … 14 hours ago

Hands on: Windows 8 input options and pen computing
Microsoft has nurtured pen based computing inside Windows for a number of years, but what’s it like in Windows 8? The Windows 8 developer preview build includes the ability to use pen based devices. Microsoft …
  14 hours ago

Hands on: Windows 8 File History backup
Microsoft’s backup options are changing in Windows 8. The developer preview of Windows 8 includes a File History feature that was previously known as “History Vault” during the early Milestone builds of Windows 8. File …    14 hours ago

Microsoft to release Windows 8 developer preview ISO bits later today
Microsoft is planning to release an early developer preview copy of Windows 8 today. The Windows 8 Developer Preview will be made available alongside guides, tools, samples, forums, docs and other resources to build on Windows. …
   12 hours ago

How fast does Windows 8 really boot? Really fast
Microsoft unveiled its incredible fast boot feature of Windows 8 earlier this month, but how fast does Windows 8 really boot? The answer is super fast. The Samsung Windows 8 developer preview tablet restarts in …   12 hours ago

Microsoft to outline Xbox LIVE Windows 8 support at BUILD
Microsoft’s BUILD session is now live and it reveals an interesting look at Xbox LIVE integration in Windows 8. The software giant currently ships Games for Windows LIVE for Windows 7 PCs which offers a …   11 hours ago

Windows 8 beta and RC on the horizon, updates to developer build
Microsoft’s Windows 8 develop schedule will include one beta and one RC before the RTM and general availability points. Windows chief Steven Sinofsky revealed the schedule in a keynote address on Tuesday.    10 hours ago

Windows To Go: Run Windows 8 from a USB device
Microsoft’s Portable Workspace feature has been renamed to Windows To Go inside Windows 8. The feature allows Windows 8 to boot from a USB device. First discovered in leaked builds, Microsoft looks set to detail …   9 hours ago

Windows 8 Xbox LIVE UI is identical to the new Xbox dashboard [pic]
Microsoft’s new Xbox LIVE integration in Windows 8 is identical to the company’s Xbox dashboard. Larry Hryb (Major Nelson) revealed the interface in a blog post on Tuesday. Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE support in Windows 8 …    8 hours ago

Microsoft captured users fingerprints for Windows 8 touch work
Microsoft’s early research work with Windows 8 saw the company capture a number of consumers fingerprints. The software giant captured fingerprints and handprints to figure out the best interface to suit people’s varied hand size.    7 hours ago

Windows 8 Developer Preview now available to download Microsoft’s Windows 8 Developer Preview is now available to download. The Windows developer center is now live and Windows 8 available to download in the following flavours: Windows Developer Preview English, 64-bit (x64) DOWNLOAD (3.6 GB) …   6 hours ago

WinBeta whole series

Download the Windows 8 Developer Preview
The moment we have all been waiting for has come to fruition. Microsoft has just uploaded the Developer Preview build of Windows 8. Check out the download links at the bottom of this post to grab the 32bit or 64bit versions.

Microsoft to be streaming the BUILD conference live
There has been speculation on whether Microsoft will be streaming the BUILD conference live. Fortunately, Microsoft have confirmed the legitimacy of a LIVE stream starting from September 13th at 9AM PDT time.

Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Screenshots
Windows 8 Developer Preview has only been out for a few hours now but we have some screenshots for you that will give you an idea of what to expect, in case you are not planning on trying it out for yourself or your download is taking ages. Either way, we got you covered with some lovely screenshot action!

Microsoft’s Highlights Windows 8’s New Features
During the Build Developer’s Conference today in California, Microsoft showcased Windows 8 and detailed its new features. “We re-imagined Windows. From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise,” explains Steven Sinofsky. So what are the new features?

Windows 8 Screenshots: Start Screen, Keyboard, and more
We’ve got a few new Windows 8 screenshots for you, directly from the Windows 8 demonstration at the Build developer’s conference. In these screenshots, we get to see the new start screen, the classic desktop, the new onscreen keyboard, and the new Metro-styled applications (mail, calendar, and photo).

Microsoft Reveals the Path to Windows 8 RTM
Microsoft revealed its plans for Windows 8’s release during the Build developer’s conference. We learned that Windows 8 will have only a few more milestones before going final. First we will have a beta, a release candidate, release to manufacturing, and finally, general availability.

Windows 8: Reset PC and Sync Settings
Microsoft is revealing a ton of new information regarding Windows 8. This time, we learn about a feature that will allow you to reset your PC settings and another feature that allows you to sync your settings across all PCs that run Windows 8.

Windows 8: Screenshots of new Task Manager
During the Build Developer’s conference, Microsoft showcased the new task manager in Windows 8. At the demonstration, Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky stated that this new task manager was years in the making.

Silverlight and .Net are not dead, but Metro is the future
During the Build Developer Conference in California, Microsoft revealed that both Silverlight and .Net are not dead. Instead, those two platforms will be utilized to write classic and desktop apps for Windows 8, rather than the new Metro styled apps, which is Windows 8’s primary focus.

Windows 8 Developer Preview available tonight at 8PM PDT
BUILD is live and Microsoft are talking about their new operating system, Windows 8. They have announced many new features and the best bit yet, it will be available today!

Microsoft Reveals the Path to Windows 8 RTM
Microsoft revealed its plans for Windows 8’s release during the Build developer’s conference. We learned that Windows 8 will have only a few more milestones before going final. First we will have a beta, a release candidate, release to manufacturing, and finally, general availability.

Pre-Commerce and the Consumerization of IT

Follow up (very much suggested reading):
Social media based global product management [Sept 13, 2011]

IDC 2011 Video: Closing the Consumerization Gap[July 12, 2011]

In this recording, Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst of IDC, discusses the results of recent Unisys-sponsored iWorker and business research on the “consumerization gap” and what it means for the enterprise.

Then in the second video below, Paul-Henri Ferrand, CMO of the Consumer & Small and Medium Business Division of Dell is talking about a major trend with potential to transform the whole IT industry.

There is a new wave of consumer innovation to businesses. Three factors are driving the consumerization of  IT:

  1. Social media (on which Dell is spending 50% of resources, unlike the typical 100% business related spending on transactions)
  2. Product range
  3. Work and home

This is referred as the coming of “virtual era” inside Dell.

There are 3 well recognized megatrends:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Social media
  3. Consumerization of IT (which is – according to gartner – is the most influential trend in this decade)

The latter is due to the social media, the proliferation of digital devices, and to the blurring of the boundary between home and work (flexible work arrangements, seamless always on connections to social media and their content).

In the last 3 years consumerization of IT is in the center of everything they do in Dell (in 2009: decision to go to social media allowed for all employees).

Now let’s see the video: “Consumerization of IT” – Keynote von Paul-Henri Ferrand auf der CeBIT 2011 [March 17, 2011]

Keynote von Paul-Henri Ferrand, CMO der Consumer & Small and Medium Business Division bei Dell, zum Thema “Consumerization of IT” im Rahmen der CeBIT Global Conferences am 3. März 2011.

It is important to see from the below point in time an excerpt from the keynote in transcribed form as well:

[21:31] But I realized one thing. Your brand is not something you control. It’s controlled by your customers. And your customers are now today in blogs, in forums, in websites … They are just talking about your company, And if you decide not to be there, guess what. Yoi can even not know their site, you cannot even influence what they are doing.

Actually McKinsey came up with a study that says that 20 to 50% of the purchasing decisions are being made today by the word of mouth on the Internet and social websites. And on the other side 56% of corporations today are preventing their workers to access social websites. That’s staggering.

I would make the proposition that you have to decide today whether or not you want to embrace consumerization of IT. But if you don’t want to I think your customers will choose to go to other companies. [22:52]

Now it is easy to talk about social media and what we are doing. I will tell you, it is hard.

Actually in Dell we’ve set up a Social Media Ground Control Center. You can see a picture [of it here]. I wanted to show you a video [of it but] I couldn’t get a video on this one.

We are entertaining 22 thousand global conversations a day. And if you go to the center what you’ll see is just quite staggering. We can find out whenever we are launching a product, whatever we are doing … we could find out around the world what is being said. We can analyze it, we can figure out in which continent, in what country, who is talking about us. And then when we know they are talking about us we can get back to them.

Actually we have 3.5 million interactions with customers daily. I think this really what’s the heart of social media. You don’t do social media in a controlled fashion. You do social media because you want to use it. It’s hard. You have to invest, you have to train your people, you have to setup the policies, and you have to ensure that you have a strategy around it. [24:10]

See also:
Dell at CeBIT 2011 [March 4, 2011]
Consumer Driven Innovation by Paul-Henri Ferrand [Dec 10, 2010]

The brain behind these changes in Dell has been a distinct person.
See now another video with him:
Pre-Commerce: A New Book by Bob Pearson [March 1, 2011]

Chief Technology & Media Officer, Bob Pearson, introduces the context for his new book “Pre-Commerce.”

WCG Announces Publication of Pre-Commerce, New Book By Chief Media and Technology Officer Bob Pearson [March 9, 2011]

The book explains how the exploding use of social and online media has fundamentally changed the way customers make purchasing decisions, how they educate themselves, and why they choose to support certain brands above others.  Pearson demonstrates that the shift from an e-commerce world to one that focuses on pre-commerce means that C-suite executives and marketers must listen to and engage directly with customers and influencers to shape their brand and marketplace success.

“We spend less than one percent of our time online involved in a transaction,” said Pearson.  “On the other hand, 99 percent of our time online is spent learning, browsing, socializing and seeking support.  Companies that develop excellence in pre-commerce will be the ones to drive e-commerce success in the years ahead.”

In writing the book, Pearson drew on his extensive experience providing social media and communication counsel to C-suite executives and interviews with more than 25 Fortune 500 executives and other business leaders from a variety of industries. These include Ray Kerins, VP of Global Communications, Pfizer; David Witt, Director, Global Brand Public Relations and Consumer Engagement, The Hershey Company; Lukas Cudrigh, Senior Director, Digital Solutions, Microsoft; Paul Von Autenreid, CIO, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Yann Gourvennac, Head of Social Media and Web, Orange.

“Tomorrow’s leaders will learn how to become a “relevant peer” in the communities of their customers,” added Pearson.  “Those who embrace pre-commerce will learn new ways to market, recruit and retain employees, shape the reputation of brands and much more.  In many respects, we’re all just getting started in our journey to redefine how we all work together.”

Inside WCG – Bob Pearson And Paulo Simas Discuss The New Book Pre-Commerce [Jan 17, 2011]

Chief Technology & Media Officer, Bob Pearson, and Chief Creative Officer, Paulo Simas, discuss Pearson’s new book, Pre-Commerce, the context for it, how the ideas took shape, and the basic framework behind it.

Bob Pearson’s Experience [LinkedIn]

Key Models: i.e. The 4A’s and The 4L’s (of the Pre-Commerce book)4As
One of the most important core concepts
of the book, namely the 4 A’s (which replace the 4 P’s) are providing ways for businesses to create greater awareness, assessment, action and ultimately ambassadorship for their products and services.

As just one example, if you have recently run a satellite symposium at a congress (which in today’s increasingly challenging environment is a significant drain on the annual budget) then ask yourself:

  • Did you really think about when, where and how your target audience will become awareof your symposium (either as a stand-alone entity, or in the context of your ongoing brand activities)?
  • Did you monitorhow word of your event spread among your target audience, and what was said about it? More to the point, did you actively promote / gain advocates for your meeting at all?
  • What real commitment to actionto you get from the people who attended?
  • Did you monitor and facilitatethe post-meeting discussion of the event (beyond the hastily filled-in questionnaires from the few people in the room who weren’t from your competitors)?
  • Did anyone of your audience go back to their practice and become an advocate for your brand as a result of what they saw? Would you even know if they had?

In summary, our approach is that you need to be pro-actively communicating with your audience all of the time – not just whenever you have some data to present or an issue to manage. If you or your advocates don’t make the first impression, someone else will do it for you, and you may well not like the long-term outcome…

Excerpted from: First impressions count: why you must do more to manage your medical communications [June 14, 2011]

Inside WCG – Bob Pearson and Paulo Simas Talk About The 4 A’s [Jan 14, 2011]

Chief Technology & Media Officer, Bob Pearson, and Chief Creative Officer, Paulo Simas, discuss the new customer driven model called, The 4 A’s, whereby companies will have new ways to understand and engage in what their customers are doing and what is motivation them.

Key Models: i.e. The 4A’s and The 4L’s (of the Pre-Commerce book)4Ls

In today’s environment, the customer drives the success of a brand. WCG’s model  for how we listen, learn, and interact with customers starts with the 4 A’s: the framework for a continuum of communication and decision making that span across all points of engagement.

Hand in hand with the 4 A’s are the 4 L’s: a process that enables us to influence decisions regarding the customer’s relationship with our brand. Collectively, the 4 A’s and the 4 L’s add up to become The Engagement Span(ES).

In this WCG ThoughtLeader podcast, Paulo Simas, Chief Creative Officer at WCG, explains what The Engagement Span is, describes the 4 A’s and 4 L’s and how each element fits together to form The Engagement Span to achieve an impact for clients.

Paulo argues that ES is a dynamic framework for engaging current and future customers. He believes that by merging behavior with insight, we create an effective blueprint for powerful communication.

Finally, he offers advice to companies on what they need to do to prepare and be ready for The Engagement Span.

Excerpted from: WCG ThoughtLeader Interview: Paulo Simas, WCG, on The Engagement Span [Feb 15, 2011]

Inside WCG – Bob Pearson & Paulo Simas Talk About The 4 L’s[Jan 14, 2011]

Chief Technology & Media Officer, Bob Pearson, and Chief Creative Officer, Paulo Simas, discuss taking the philosophy of the customer driven model, The 4 A’s, and making it a reality with The 4 L’s.

WeissComm Group Acquires Common Sense Media Group, Appoints Founder Bob Pearson Chief Technology and Media Officer to Help Clients Evaluate and Optimize Social Media [May 27, 2009]

Before starting Common Sense Media Group, Pearson was vice president of communities and conversations at Dell, where he and his team were responsible for developing an industry-leading approach to social media. His team at Dell built and maintained 25 blogs, forums and community sites in seven languages worldwide with over 200 million page views of annual interaction. Pearson’s team built Ideastorm, the first external idea community for a Fortune 500 company, as well as similar sites for healthcare customers and for employees. He also oversaw the company’s approach to Twitter, Facebook and other major social media sites. His team’s efforts, which have been featured in numerous books, such as Groundswell and Crowdsurfing, were highly targeted and successful at improving customer service and satisfaction online, increasing brand value, empowering customers to solve technical issues, rate and review products and, ultimately, help drive e-commerce.

Before joining Dell, Pearson was head of global corporate and pharma communications at Novartis in Basel serving on the company’s Pharma Executive Committee. Prior to Novartis, he built the global healthcare practice for GCI Public Relations, ultimately becoming president of the Americas for GCI.

Pearson is a frequent speaker on social media, ranging from Salesforce.com’s DreamForce to Inc. 500 to Microsoft’s Software Architects Forum to the upcoming Twtrcon this weekend. Pearson is Vice-Chair of the Emerging Technology Committee for the State of Texas and serves on P&G’s Digital Advisory Board and the advisory board of Uservoice. He is also President of the Blog Council, the only organization for social media leaders in the Fortune 1000to share best practices in a private forum.

Bob is an industry leader and visionary whose 25 years of marketing and communications experience, particularly the last three at Dell, will provide immediate value to our clients, many of whom are looking to us to help them understand and successfully navigate the changing media landscape to impact their business,” said Jim Weiss, Chairman, CEO and Founder of WeissComm Group. “We are committed to consistently innovating and renewing our capabilities and services to ensure we deliver A+ work and results to our clients in real time. Our investment in social media is based on our belief that it will become the centrifugal force of the marketing and communications mix enabling clients to target, learn from, access and connect with customers and key influencers in a cost-effective, impactful way that ultimately improves the way they do business.”

Blog Council Announces Dell’s Bob Pearson to Join as President [April 7, 2009]

The Blog Council, the world’s leading forum for large companies to share best practices in social media, announced that Bob Pearson has left Dell to become its new President. Pearson was previously Vice President of Communities and Conversations at Dell, where he oversaw the company’s social media efforts worldwide.

Social media represents a disruptive set of technologies and techniques that will transform a company’s business practices, improve conversational capabilities with customers and empower employees to learn and share their knowledge in real time,” said Pearson. “In the years ahead, we will see social media evolve into a discipline that companies use throughout their organization — from marketing to technical support to human resources.”

Pearson is widely known as the leader of one of the first major social media programs at a global enterprise. His work at Dell is considered the model for how big businesses should work with blogs, communities, and other social media.

From Idea To Innovation [April 1, 2009]

Companies are using online voting tools and prediction markets to conceive new products. So why are most of them still in testing mode?

… Dell looked to an even broader market for new product ideas, using Salesforce.com’s online voting service called Ideas and launching Dell IdeaStorm, where anyone can submit and vote on new features and options for Dell products. Perhaps best known of these ideas is a Linux-based laptop Dell introduced in May 2007.  …

Dell remains a believer in the community’s intelligence after more than a year of using the voting technology and thinks that of the 200 or so ideas it has implemented out of the process, 4% are “potential game changers,” says Bob Pearson, Dell’s VP of communities and conversations.

Dell’s launch of IdeaStorm about 18 months agowas one of several steps the company took to shake its image of not innovating and not understanding fast-changing consumer markets. With IdeaStorm, people submit and vote on new features and options for Dell products in an online forum, and as ideas gain popularity, a moderator forwards them to product managers for consideration. The company has received more than 10,000 ideas, implementing about 200 of them.

Besides the Linux laptop, those ideas include Dell’s decision to continue offering Windows XP when Vista was launched and to do a Dell-sponsored small-business makeover show, launched last week on the A&E TV network. Six features in the Latitude Series came through IdeaStorm, including business laptops in different colors, battery life up to 19 hours, and a backlit keyboard. “All were on the radar, but from the 130 ideas these were the ones that resonated the most,” Pearson says.

Michael Dell – 2020 shaping Ideas [Sept 27, 2010]

As teenagers, Dell Inc. founder and CEO Michael Dell and his computer-minded friends spent all their time on an electronic bulletin board – sharing information, collaborating and exchanging ideas. Since then, their ideals has been adopted by a whole generation. And when you collaborate, anything is possible.

Lessons from Michael Dell on Continual Innovation and Collaboration [by Bob Pearson, Aug 30, 2011]

In my view, Michael Dell is one of the best “continual innovators” in business today.  He is a real expert in understanding and enabling collaboration that is meaningful to a business.  I had the opportunity to see his skills in action when I worked at Dell, which I talk about in Pre-Commerce.

In this post, I would like to share key learning’s that have value to all of us in business today.  Here’s my top 10, based on my experience working with Michael.

#1 – Every customer is important, regardless of size – whether the customer is a teacher in Iowa or a CIO in Paris, we must listen to all of our customers to understand what they are saying, collectively.  We get smarter when we listen well.  IdeaStormwas a great example.

#2 — Innovation is incremental and continual– it never stops.  It is daily.  Most innovation occurs step by step.  It is rarely about the big idea.  Every meeting and interaction counts when you think like this.

#3 – Innovators are their own market research departments– you must become a student of your industry and our world.  With Michael, you can provide some data or insights and he can figure out what is next because he is fully aware of the marketplace.  We all need to  read about China regularly or search trends or smart phones in Latin America so that our “gut”is always ready.

#4 – Collaboration leads to the best ideas– if you ask your customers or employees to tell you what is important, you learn how to make the right trade-offs.    Don’t ask a few.  Ask them all.

#5 – Customers want to help their peers– the most powerful driver of human behavior online is to help your peers.  When companies see themselves as peers, they serve their customers well.

#6 – Don’t decide alone for your customer— participants’ ideas will help guide decisions you have to make about product features and trade-offs.

#7 – Participation is powerful— people get a sense of empowerment when you allow them to participate and recognize their contribution.  Employees can be unlocked in ways we’ve never imagined via technology and good old fashioned effort.  Let go and let yourself become surprised.

#8 – Follow through is the middle name of collaboration— the real action occurs after the idea is received. Reach a conclusion.   Don’t think about it forever.

#9 – Become your own incubator— leaders who nurture ideas create opportunities.  Let go, allow your team to try new ideas, fail occasionally and end up with a great batting average.

#10 – Realize that innovation and collaboration are cousins– you do better when you have a mindset to innovate and a desire to share and learn with others.

The most innovative firms in the future will also be the most collaborative.  I’m convinced.  To hear more from Michael, you can read about his thoughts on the topic  in Pre-Commerce.

In the World of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, Dell’s Social DNA Serves Its Brand Well [Forbes, May 6, 2011]

You don’t have to be a parent to understand that there’s a difference between just hearing and actually listening. This comment, at the beginning of the recent conversation I had with Karen Quintos, senior vice president and CMO at Dell Inc. summed up our shared opinion that a company can think it’s being customer-centric when, in actuality, it’s not. I had called Karen to talk to her about how social media has changed the way companies interactwith customers and whether Dell, being a quintessentially customer-oriented brand from the get-go (as in, tell us how you want your computer built) had evolved, as a result. What follows is a snippet of our very interesting dialog:

Allen Adamson: Dell, as in Michael Dell, came up with the idea of involving customers in the building of their personal computers and, in doing so, built a differentiated brand name, customer-centric from the start – “customer-centric” being a buzz word, but an appropriate description nonetheless. How has Dell kept up with this concept given the advent and exponential growth of social media since your company was launched in 1984?

Karen Quintos: First of all, customer-centricity is and always has been part of the Dell DNA. It’s not something we think about. It’s the way we do business. It’s like the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is passive. You can hear someone say something, but it doesn’t prompt any reaction. Listening, on the other hand, is active. You have a passion for the message and you take accountability to respond to what customers need. Listening is what we do at Dell and social media has made it that much more effective and efficient.

AA: I remember back to my “Mad Men” days in advertising when it was the research department that had the primary responsibility to look and listen and report back. It seems listening is the way Dell operates across the board.

KQ: Absolutely. We have taken listening to a whole new level and we use it in every aspect of the business—from product and solutions development to services to sales to customer support to marketing. A great example of this is IdeaStorm, which we launched in 2007. IdeaStorm is a social community that allows customers to suggest new product and services ideas, and then we refine and prioritize those ideas within our organization. As another example, we have a very active group of storage technology enthusiasts. We leverage their knowledge to help us with new solutions and technical specifications.

AA: With social media, there is almost no option but to get things done in real time. The transparency dynamic prompted by digital technology has really brought to life the notion that “a brand is as a brand does.”

KQ: Without a doubt. That’s why we pay close attention to the conversations we have with our customers. We have what we call our Listening Command Center which monitors conversations taking place about Dell on Twitter, Facebook, across all social media communities. The folks on this team can immediately triage a situation. They’re able to trend data that shows us what issues people are latching onto, positive or negative, and then our teams deal with them accordingly. One of the ways we respond to these conversations is through a program called Dell Cares (@dellcares on Twitter). Dell Cares is overseen by an enthusiastic group of customer support and technology people. Instead of just making note and letting issues fester, this team is on top of addressing problems or questions promptly.

AA: Do you think Dell has a particular advantage over other companies because you started out as a brand with an inherent listening culture?

KQ: Yes and no. There is nothing new or novel about the notion of listening as a way of providing customers with what they want and need. It’s so simple and so basic. But if you don’t do it, you can’t act on it. Listening enables superior customer outcomes. All of us at Dell, including Michael, start every staff meeting with a customer story, and then we talk about how we could have made the customer experience even better. If you fundamentally believe that being customer-centric is the right thing to do, opportunities will follow. But you have to believe in it.

Dell’s CMO on the brand transformation and new campaign [Forbes video, Jan 13, 2011]

Introducing Dell’s Social Media Command Center [Dec 8, 2010]

Michael Dell and Karen Quintos join others for the launch of Dell’s new global social media command center.

Dell opens its Social Media Command Center [Dec 16, 2010]

What’s the big idea

Taking a step back, there are three main reasons for a business to leverage social media (the following is based on a conversation I had with the VAR guy who in turn wrote my ramblings upinto something coherent):

  1. Monitor & Respond:You need to protect your brand. By monitoring FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs (through Google Alerts), you can defend your brand, answer questions and stop misinformation about your company before it goes viral across the web.
  2. Educate and Inform: This is where you take the time to tell customers more about your services, expertise or unique selling proposition. Generally speaking, this involves speaking to established customers or speaking to customers who have needs for your services.
  3. Establish Thought Leadership: This is how you pull new people into the sales funnel. Perhaps a local business owner didn’t realize (A) they had a pain point and (B) you have the skills to solve that pain point. Through pro-active communications, you’re able to describe your expertise and create sales opportunities that otherwise may not have materialized.

While Dell participates in all three of the buckets above, the command center is primarliy focused on bucket 1.

Monitoring and Responding

As reported today in Mashable,  “The center will track on average more than 22,000 daily topic posts related to Dell, as well as mentions of Dell on Twitter. The information can be sliced and diced based on topics and subjects of conversation, sentiment, share of voice, geography and trends.”

VP of Social Media Manish Mehta explained the center’s purpose back in October in a comment on a blog post by Altimeter’s Industry Analyst Jeremiah Owyang:

“Our new ‘Ground Control’ is about tracking the largest number [of] possible conversations across the web and making sure we ‘internalize’ that feedback — good and bad…

“Dell’s Ground Control is also about getting that information to the right people wherever they are in the Dell organization, globally and functionally. It’s also about tracking what you might call the ‘long tail’… those smaller matters that might not bubble to the surface today, but are out there… and deserve to be heard. We want to ‘hear’ them too — contrary to the scenarios about ’squeaky wheels getting grease.’”

Dell The 5 years of social media yourney -- Aug-2011
From Customer Centered Marketing: The Social Media Journey [by Allison Dew, Aug 25, 2011]

Allison Dew is Dell’s Executive Director for Social Media and Community. She is responsible for establishing Dell’s strategies, global programs, best practices, policies and measurement of social media across the company.

In addition to leading Dell’s social media and community efforts, Allison is also responsible for Global Insights based on customer research and analytics. She combines this primary research and marketing analytics function with Dell’s social media listening and engagement initiatives to further maximize how Dell uses customer insights and feedback to deliver business value. At Dell’s recent Worldwide Leadership Meeting she was recognized with the “Inspired Leader” award—one of only 16 leaders across all of Dell to be honored with this recognition by the Dell Executive team.

Before Dell, she worked for Microsoft where she led marketing for MSN, ran brand and advertising for Windows, and worked on Microsoft.com and Windows community efforts. She has spent five years working in Japan with a local advertising firm.

Allison has an undergraduate degree in French and Japanese from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Wharton School.

From: Austin AMA Power Luncheon Series: B2B Social Marketing

Social Media Boot Camp: Best Practices from the Front Lines of Dell [Karen Quintos, May, 2011]

Listening is the first step to any solid relationship. Fortunately for Dell, listening has been embedded in everything we do since Michael Dell started the company more than 27 years ago. Back in those days, he would include a “Tell Michael” card with every system shipped, review the feedback when the cards came back, and then assign action items to his team.

Fast forward to 2010, when Dell established the Social Media Listening Command Center, our global operational hub for monitoring some 26,000 online mentions about Dell that customers post every day. We sort what people say about Dell based on topics, sentiment, share of voice, geography, and trends. We strive to understand the largest possible number of conversations—good and bad—all across the web. From there, we work to ensure that the right teams follow up on these conversations and act on them.

At Dell, we have implemented a model based on a centralized social media team that acts as a hub of best practices, tools, and processes that we incubate and then embed within our business units. It’s these business unit teams that execute social media strategies to align with their specific business goals. These same teams participate in our cross-functional council to keep us all on the same page.

Given the dynamic nature of social media, we also leverage it internally to keep information flowing. One of the tools Dell uses is Chatterfrom Salesforce.com, which gives all 103,000 team members the opportunity to connect, build communities within Dell, and solve problems in real time.

How do we measure the business value of social media? What are the right metrics to use based on business needs? How do you use them to guide investment decisions and optimize social media initiatives?

The key is to start with a measurement platform that aligns with business goals, beyond just social media. For Dell, the measurement platform is Net Promoter Score(NPS), which measures customer loyalty: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” We look at the impact of social media and the word of mouth it fuels as being directly tied to NPS.

How Dell Really Listens to its Customers [July 22, 2011]

On Tuesday, July 19, I attended Dell’s second annual Customer Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting, split this year between the Westin Hotel at the Domain (a swanky, high-end, high-density shopping, dining, and condominium mecca in North Austin) and Dell Headquarters in Round Rock, TX. Though the name of this even doesn’t mention social media, the entire focus of the meeting was to explore, explain and discuss how Dell can provide better sales and technical support, education, and information to its customers using social media.

To that end, invitees included some very well-known social media mavens who focus on the computer scene, including Paul Mooney, Allen Mirales, Connie Bensen, Dave Gartner, Haley Quarles, and Travis Bailey, along with a slew of Dell employees at all levels, including a half-hour encounter with Michael Dell himself.

When the first CAP meeting was held last year, Dell had 10 employees who monitored and deal with social media in a single language — namely, English. Today, Dell’s Social Media organization includes a Social Media Ground Control and Command Center, and there are 70 employees monitoring and dealing with social media in 11 languages (English, plus Japanese, Chinese, Portugese, Spanish, French, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Korean). Dell’s Radian 6 based monitoring and management tools record about 25,000 social media events for the company each day, and they make a serious point of engaging with and responding to those things as quickly as possible. I was informed that most tweets, Facebook postings or other social media messages that request or merit a Dell response receive an acknowledgement or answer of some kind in no more than 24 hours, and that many are handled much more quickly than that.

More information:
Dell’s Story of Listening [July 10, 2011]
CMO 2.0 Conversation with Karen Quintos, CMO at Dell [June 18, 2011]
Listen Up! Dell Lends Its Ear To Social Media [Feb 23, 2011]
Dell’s Next Step: The Social Media Listening Command Center [Dell, Dec 8, 2010]
Social Media Engagement That Works [Dell, Oct 8, 2010]

Dell’s social media support team, a group of 26 employees in the U.S., China and Latin America, now listens to customers across Twitter, Facebook, Renren and other online communities and forums across the Web. Through these interactions, we’ve built relationships with our customers and help solve their problems where it’s most convenient for them. Here are a couple of my favorite listening stories that make me proud to go to work and be part of this fabulous team.

How Social Media Is Changing Customer Service [July 14, 2011]

For Dell, social media has emerged as a critical tool for repairing a brand image that suffered considerably in the wake of some highly publicized product quality and support issues. Now the company has even begun to classify certain social media influencers into people who are Dell “ravers” or “ranters” with an eye of turning those ranters into ravers by providing levels of customer service that exceed anything that was possible before the advent of social media made communicating with customers in real time possible.

In fact, a recent survey of 200 companies conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Dell found that while only 20 percent use social media as part of their marketing strategies, a full 72 percent have plans in place to increase their social media investments. Obviously, most of those investments are going to be tied to lead-generation activities, but many of them are going to discover the critical role social media now plays in customer support.

Supporting Customers in Facebook and via @DellCares in Twitter [Dell, July 23, 2010]

People who have been following Dell’s progression in social media know that we are in the midst of transitioning from a centralized team that carried out all social media efforts to a more decentralized hub and spoke model. It’s really about scaling social media. For us to scale our efforts, we need to make social media a core part of Dell’s business functions. In Dell’s case, it’s clear that providing support for our customers in the digital realm is one of the most vital aspects of our overall social media strategy.

Dell Social Media Ground Control

The image above is one that I’ve discussed for a while. The Customer Service piece (highlighted in blue) is the part I want to focus on today. We are in the midst of growing that team, which is part of members from our Technical Support and Customer Care organizations. Overall, they are responsible for replying to requests for service in a variety of places, from our own sites like the community forumand Direct2Dell. But they also respond to third-party forums and blogs, and help support customers in specific social networks. Two of the most prevalent social networks we’re actively engaging with customers in are in Facebook and Twitter. That’s where I’ll focus the rest of this post.

More information: Importance of Social Media For Customer Service [Aug 22, 2011]

The Evolution of Corporate Social Listening: Adobe, Comcast, Domino’s & Walmart [July 15, 2011]

At Dell, social media is a key pillar of communication and an integral part of Dell’s launch of the new “The power to do more” brand campaign. Here, social media experts talk about how the emergence of social media plays an increasingly important role in the day to day business of their companies.

Dell-Commissioned Study Reveals Companies That Listen Realize Business Results [July 13, 2011]

While making strong progress, businesses are still lagging behind their customers, 80 percent of whom use social media:

  • 50 percent of companies surveyed say their social media efforts are serious but not a core function
  • 16 percent reward customers whose ideas they use
  • Only 6 percent claim that their companies’ listening and engagement initiatives are very integrated

But companies’ investment in listening is on the rise and the benefits are tangible:

  • 64 percent of respondents are incorporating customer feedback into products or services
  • 76 percent distribute customer feedback internally
  • 31 percent are enhancing sales by offering incentive programs for customers who engage online, including deals and discounts

The publication of the “Listening and Engaging in the Digital Marketing Age” study coincides with the US introduction of Dell’s corporate brand platform, “The power to do more.” Dell began as a direct provider of great PC hardware and has long played a key role in pioneering online commerce. In recent years, Dell has been recognized as a social media innovator, using online networks to connect even more deeply with customers. “The Power to Do More” is a fully-integrated marketing campaign focused on helping businesses and technology professionals achieve more in their daily work. In the coming months, Dell business segments will communicate their solutions under this overarching platform. For example, Dell’s consumer business recently previewed its new advertising campaign entitled “More You.”

The high-end Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) marketing

HTC Unveils HTC TITAN And HTC Radar Smartphones [HTC press release, Sept 1, 2011]

HTC Corporation, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today hosted a series of consumer meet-ups in London, Paris, Madrid and Berlin to unveil its new HTC TITAN™ and HTC Radar™ with Windows® Phone smartphones. The HTC TITAN brings your favorite content and multimedia experiences closer than ever with a large 4.7 inch display, HTC’s largest phone screen ever wrapped in an ultra-thin 9.9mm aluminum case. The HTC Radar is designed to keep you close to the people, news and entertainment that matters to you most. Consumers enjoyed exclusive hands-on demos of the new devices and got to try out Microsoft’s next release of Windows Phone, code-named Mango.

“The new HTC TITAN and HTC Radar smartphones raise the bar with new advanced photography, multimedia and social capabilities that enable you to take full advantage of the latest Windows Phone innovations,” said Jason Mackenzie, President of Global Sales and Marketing, HTC Corporation. “With its large, cinematic display, the HTC TITANpacks an amazing amount of power and innovation into a device that is unlike anything you’ve ever held before and the HTC Radar’s aluminum uni-body, compact size and finish will capture people’s attention.”

Picture Perfect
Both HTC TITAN and HTC Radar include a dedicated hardware camera button which enables you to capture vivid images without unlocking the phone while the f/2.2 aperture lens and back-illuminated sensor provide improved low-light performance – making sure you never miss that perfect shot. With 28mm wide-angle lenses you can capture more of the scene in front of you while the new panoramic feature lets you create dramatic pictures of skylines and landscapes. Both devices can shoot bright and vibrant HD (720p) videos, making them perfect companions for family functions or a night out with friends. And with the HTC Photo Enhancer, you can quickly touch up pictures and upload them to Facebook, tagging your friends as you go using automatic face detection built in to Windows Phones.

“Phones were originally designed for communication, but they haven’t kept up with the way consumers are actually communicating today. That’s why we built Windows Phone to put people first, building in all the key types of communication people are already using right out of the box,” said Andy Lees, President of Windows Phone Division. “Both HTC TITAN and HTC Radar bring a sleek, modern design that perfectly complements this people first experience, making sure it’s easy to connect & share with the people you care about most so the message always gets through.”

HTC TITAN
With its large and bright 4.7 inch super LCD screen, an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera and 1.3 megapixel front facing camera for live video calling, HTC TITAN combines high performance innovation with a super-slim 9.9mm curved bodymade from a brushed aluminium shell that fits comfortably in your hand and exudes style and quality.

HTC TITAN is also the perfect portable office that enables efficient multitasking like viewing a presentation while you’re on a conference call or listening to music while compiling an email. With its expansive screen with built in Microsoft® Office Mobile, this super smartphone enables you to create, edit and collaborate quickly and easily. Advanced email features like Linked inboxes makes it easy to manage multiple email accounts, synchronize your to-do list and calendars in one place, group contacts to make communication simpler and faster, and even store your latest ideas and notes in the cloud with Microsoft® OneNote®. Typing on the HTC TITAN is quick and easy with the huge virtual keyboardon the responsive 4.7 inch screen.

HTC Radar
[According to non-HTC data it also has super LCD screen] Elegantly crafted with an aluminium unibody, HTC Radar brings you closer to the important things in life, with the new People Hub from Windows Phone. The People Hub keeps you up to date with your friends’ latest news showing all of your communication history with each person, as well as their recent social network updates and photos. You can also stay in touch using SMS, Facebook chat and Windows Live®Messenger in one conversation, without having to switch applications or disrupt the conversation flow. Alternatively, speak “face-to-face” with new video calling that lets you see your friends’ faces on the bright and sharp 3.8 inch screen.

Entertainment on the move
With HTC TITAN and HTC Radar, mobile multimedia is greatly improved. Both phones include HTC Watch™ – an application and service that puts an entire library of the latest, premium movies and TV shows right at your fingertips, letting people discover the latest video content in an easy and visually engaging way. Utilizing Virtual 5.1 surround sound for a rich audio experience, these phones are perfect for enjoying the Zune® music service. Internet browsing is fast and smooth with HTML5 support. You also get an amazing mobile gaming with Xbox LIVE®, giving you access to a great selection of games for Windows Phone, which include features like Leaderboards and Achievement that connect you with your friends and the Xbox LIVE community around the world.

Availability
HTC TITAN and HTC Radar will be broadly available from October 2011 globally, beginning in Europe and Asia.

About HTC
HTC Corporation (HTC) is one of the fastest growing companies in the mobile industry. By putting people at the centre of everything it does, HTC creates innovative smartphones and tablets that better serve the lives and needs of individuals. The company is listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange under ticker 2498. For more information about HTC, please visit www.htc.com.

Super LCD, Explained [DISPLAYBLOG, Nov 24, 2010]

Super LCD is manufactured by Sony Mobile Display (SMD).

Samsung has chosen to closely guard the Super AMOLED displays being manufactured by Samsung Mobile Display (SMD) and use nearly all of them for its own branded smartphones. The result has been a shortage for other manufacturers like HTC, who has replaced some of its smartphones with Super LCD instead.

Super LCD can be considered a close second to IPS. Although viewing angles are stated as 160/160 Sony is using a more strict rule that requires the contrast ratio at angles to be at least 100:1. Most LCD viewing angle specs are stated with a minimum contrast ratio of 10:1, so the Super LCD most likely has viewing angles that are just as wide as IPS. On the other hand, the threshold pixel format of 800×480 is lower than what is used in the iPhone 4: 960×640, so IPS is already ahead in its ability to pack more pixels into the same amount of space. The 800:1 contrast is equal to the stated contrast of the iPhone 4′s Retina Display, but tests have resulted in contrast of 1000:1 or more.

Infosync:

  • When it comes to the actual viewing experience, the Super LCD technology should produce an experience worthy of a high-end smartphone. It can’t match Samsung’s new Super AMOLED technology on an isolated technological level, but that’s also the case with the iPhone 4′s IPS LCD screen.

There has been a lot of debate as to which is the best display. Super LCD, IPS, Super AMOLED all have pros and cons but when it comes to color fidelity or accuracy on smartphones using these displays IPS and Super LCD come out ahead. Sunlight readability? LCD technology comes out ahead of OLED, even the super variety. The one area that OLED technology spanks any LCD, including IPS and Super LCD, is in black levels: OLED displays are as black as black can be.

HTC Radar: Reveal[Aug 30, 2011]

The HTC Radar is designed to keep you close to the people, news and entertainment that matter to you most. Loaded with the new People Hub from Windows Phone, the HTC Radar helps keep you up to date with your friends’ latest news- showing all of your communication history with each person, and all recent social network updates and photos. Or just stay in touch using text messaging, Facebook chat and Windows Live® Messenger in one conversation, all without having to switch applications or stop the conversation.

HTC TITAN: Reveal[Aug 30, 2011]

The HTC TITAN is packing the largest screen on an HTC phone—ever. With a large and bright 4.7 inch super LCD screen, an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera and 1.3 megapixel front facing camera (for those live video calls), the HTC TITAN combines high performance innovation with a super-slim 9.9mm curved body made from a brushed aluminum shell that fits comfortably in your hand, bringing your favorite content and multimedia experiences closer than ever.

HTC Radar & HTC TITAN: Learn More[Aug 30, 2011]

The HTC TITAN brings your favorite content and multimedia experiences closer than ever with a large 4.7 inch display, HTC’s largest phone screen ever wrapped in an ultra-thin 9.9mm aluminum case. The HTC Radar is designed to keep you close to the people, news and entertainment that matters to you most, thanks to the brand new People Hub from Windows Phone.

HTC Radar – First Look[Sept 1, 2011]

Introducing HTC Radar, featuring a premium unibody aluminum design, advanced F2.2 camera lens and BSI sensor, People Hub for easier connection with your social network, advanced entertainment capabilities with Xbox Live built in, HTC Watch and Zune, and better web browsing experience with IE9, giving you a phone designed so you never miss a thing in life.

HTC Radar – A design that makes you look good Alert icon[Sept 1, 2011]

The HTC Radar offers a premium design. Crafted from a single piece of polished metal, the phone just feels great in your hands and is built to last. The HTC Radar is that friend who will always be there for you. It’ll make the right impression on you and everyone around you.

HTC Radar – Perfect photos in any condition [Sept 4, 2011]

The HTC Radar offers a 5 megapixel camera with an F2.2 lens and BSI sensor and gives you an experience beyond what you’d expect from a phone. You’re always active so no matter the circumstance, you’ll always get a high-quality photo to share real-time with your social network.

HTC Radar – One-for-all sharing for active lifestyles[Sept 1, 2011]

The HTC Radar fits seamlessly with your life and keeps you in touch with your social network. With Windows Phone “Threads” you can easily switch between Facebook chat, text, and Windows Live Messenger and never miss a beat with your world. And the “Me” tile keeps you one-step close to Facebook check-ins and your friends’ updates on your wall. Also, People Hub pulls together your contacts and social networks into one place, so you can easily follow them and stay connected.

HTC Radar – Unmissable entertainment[Sept 4, 2011]

The intuitive HTC Radar knows you will be bored at times, too. The phone has amazing entertainment features that ensure your journeys will fly by. With HTC Watch you can enjoy Hollywood blockbusters at your fingertips. The HTC Radar gives you instant access to millions of tunes at your fingertips with Zune. And you’ll always be in the game with Xbox LIVE built in right on your phone!

HTC TITAN – First Look[Sept 4, 2011]

Introducing HTC TITAN, the phone that makes amazing things happen, featuring a huge 4.7 inch screen with an ultra-slim 9.9mm contoured unibody design, superior web browsing, emailing and multitasking, Microsoft® Office built in, 8MP camera, advanced F2.2 camera lens and BSI sensor, People Hub for easier connection with your social network and advanced entertainment capabilities with Xbox Live built in, HTC Watch and Zune.

HTC TITAN – Unlike anything you’ve ever held before[Sept 4, 2011]

No more squinting at small screens for you. With a massive 4.7″ screen and an ultra-slim 9.9mm unibody contoured design, the HTC TITAN feels great in your hand. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever held before.

HTC TITAN – Entertainment that really comes to life[Sept 4, 2011]

Enjoy entertainment that really comes to life on the big screen whenever, wherever. With HTC Watch you can enjoy Hollywood blockbusters at your fingertips. The HTC TITAN gives you instant access to millions of tunes at your fingertips with Zune. And you’ll always be in the game with Xbox LIVE built in right on your phone!

HTC TITAN – No more point and shoot camera for you[Sept 1, 2011]

It takes a lot to capture your special moments. Rather than dragging your point and shoot camera around, the HTC TITAN offers an 8 megapixel camera with F2.2. lens and BSI sensor that gives you a high-resolution photo under any condition. With such pixel-packed photos, you really can feel comfortable leaving your point and shoot at home.

HTC TITAN – A multitasking machine[Sept 1, 2011]

The HTC TITAN is the perfect phone for multitasking and enhancing your efficiency. It simplifies your email by bringing all your accounts and conversation history by each person together in a linked inbox. And the HTC TITAN lets you easily jump between work mode and play mode. Listen to music while working on a document, or check important emails in the middle of a game without restarting the game.

Notes:
– The Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 Mobile Processor used in both models is the current high-end only for Windows Phone 7.5 (see: Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs with a new way of easy identification [Aug 4, 2011])
– Things highlighted in red in the specifications below are either additions to TITAN or differences between TITAN and Radar

HTC TITAN at a glance

  • Size:131.5mm x 70.7mm x 9.9mm
    5.18″ x 2.78″ x 0.39″
  • Weight:160 grams (5.6 ounces) with battery
  • Display:4.7-inch touch screen with 480 x 800 resolution
  • Screen size: 119 mm (4.7″)
CPU Processing Speed
1.5 GHz [new Scorpion CPU with Adreno 205 GPU, 3G HSPA+ and 1024×768/720 – all integrated in the Qualcomm MSM8255 SoC: Snapdragon S2 Mobile Processor]Storage
Total storage: 16 GB
Available storage: up to 12.63 GB
RAM: 512 MBConnectors
– 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
– micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) portSensors
Gyro Sensor
– G-Sensor
Digital compass
– Proximity sensor
– Ambient light sensorMultimedia
– See photos from your camera, Facebook and Windows Live™ accounts in the Pictures hub
– Music and Videos Hub powered by Zune lets you listen to radio, download music, and more
– SRS enhancement
– 5.1 surround sound for videoAudio supported formats:
– Playback
: .m4a, .m4b, .mp3, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)

Video supported formats:
Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .m4v, .mbr, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9 and VC-1)
Recording: .mp4
(You can only playback a .3gp or .3g2 video if the video is an email attachment or is part of an MMS message.)

Power & Battery
Battery type: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery

Capacity: 1600 mAh

Talk time:
– WCDMA: Up to 410 minutes
– GSM: Up to 710 minutes

Standby time:
– WCDMA: Up to 460 hours
– GSM: Up to 360 hours

Network
HSPA/WCDMA:
– Europe/Asia: 850/900/2100 MHzQuad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE:
– 850/900/1800/1900 MHzPlatform
Windows® Phone OS 7.5Camera
8 megapixel camera with F2.2 lens, dual LED flash, and BSI sensor (for better low-light captures)
Front camera:
1.3 megapixelfront cameraHD video recording:
– 720p HD video recording

Internet
3G
:
– Up to 14.4 Mbps download speed
– Up to 5.76 Mbps upload speed

GPRS:
– Up to 80 kbps downloading

EDGE:
– Up to 236.8 kbps downloading

Wi-Fi®:
– IEEE 802.11 b/g/n

Bluetooth®
Bluetooth® 2.1
– A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
– PBAP for phonebook access from the car kit
– Other supported profiles: AVRCP, HFP, HSP

Social Networking
– Twitter™, Facebook® and Windows Live™
– Share photos on Facebook® or Windows Live™ SkyDrive®

Location
– Internal GPS antenna
– HTC Locations
– Bing™ Maps

Tethering
– Internet Sharing

Recommended Windows System Requirements
– Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, or Windows® XP
– Zune® software

HTC Radar at a glance

      • Size: 120.5mm x 61.5mm x 10.9mm
        4.74″ x 2.42″ x 0.43″
      • Weight: 137 grams (4.83 ounces) with battery
      • Display: 3.8-inch touch screen with 480 x 800 resolution
      • Screen size: 96.5 mm (3.8″)
CPU Processing Speed
1 GHz [new Scorpion CPU with Adreno 205 GPU, 3G HSPA+ and 1024×768/720 – all integrated in the Qualcomm MSM8255 SoC: Snapdragon S2 Mobile Processor]Storage
Total storage: 8 GB
Available storage: up to 6.54 GB
RAM: 512 MBConnectors
– 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
– micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) portSensors
– G-Sensor
– Proximity sensor
– Ambient light sensorMultimedia
– See photos from your camera, Facebook and Windows Live™ accounts in the Pictures hub
– Music and Videos Hub powered by Zune lets you listen to radio, download music, and more
– SRS enhancement
– 5.1 surround sound for videoAudio supported formats:
– Playback
: .m4a, .m4b, .mp3, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)

Video supported formats:
Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .m4v, .mbr, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9 and VC-1)
Recording: .mp4
(You can only playback a .3gp or .3g2 video if the video is an email attachment or is part of an MMS message.)

Power & Battery
Battery type: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery

Capacity: 1520 mAh

Talk time:
– WCDMA: Up to 485 minutes
– GSM: Up to 600 minutes

Standby time:
– WCDMA: Up to 535 hours
– GSM: Up to 480 hours

Network
HSPA/WCDMA:
– Europe/Asia: 900/2100 MHzQuad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE:
– 850/900/1800/1900 MHzPlatform
Windows® Phone OS 7.5Camera
5 megapixel camera with F2.2 lens, LED flash, and BSI sensor (for better low-light captures)
Front camera:
VGAfront cameraHD video recording:
– 720p HD video recording

Internet
3G
:
– Up to 14.4 Mbps download speed
– Up to 5.76 Mbps upload speed

GPRS:
– Up to 80 kbps downloading

EDGE:
– Up to 236.8 kbps downloading

Wi-Fi®:
– IEEE 802.11 b/g/n

Bluetooth®
Bluetooth® 2.1
– A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
– PBAP for phonebook access from the car kit
– Other supported profiles: AVRCP, HFP, HSP

Social Networking
– Twitter™, Facebook® and Windows Live™
– Share photos on Facebook® or Windows Live™ SkyDrive®

Location
– Internal GPS antenna
– HTC Locations
– Bing™ Maps

Tethering
– Internet Sharing

Recommended Windows System Requirements
– Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, or Windows® XP
– Zune® software

HTC unveils their new global lineup of Windows Phones [Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President, Windows Phone Program Management, Microsoft, Sept 1, 2011]

HTC just unveiled two new Windows Phones that will be landing in stores around the world later this year, running our latest version of Windows Phone. A lot of people ask me via Twitter “what phone are you using now”. I’m delighted to say in rotating through various phones and helping our partners finish them with high quality, I’ve spent quite a bit of time carrying one of the prototypes of these HTC phones and it’s terrific. For those of you who haven’t read the press details—here’s a quick recap. HTC introduced the phones in a series of meet up style events in London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid, and they’ll be broadly available from October 2011 globally, beginning in Europe and Asia, with pricing info to come later. In the meantime, let’s dig into what makes these phones awesome.

Eternity_rightHeroFirst up, the HTC TITAN features a big 4.7-inch screen with a slim 9.9mm brushed aluminum shell, and a front facing camera, is a great device for working or for playing. Movies, music and your favorite apps will really come to life on this big screen. Sometimes I hear feedback from some users that “fonts are a little small” on WP7—absolutely not the case on the TITAN! As designers, we love seeing the wide variation of phone sizes so that our customers can find one that’s the perfect fit for them.

The second phone announced today was the HTC Radar. The first thing you notice with this phone is the unique design, crafted with an aluminum unibody shell. The Radar also includes a front facing camera so you can video chat with your favorite people. I am really excited to see phones like the Radar, because it’s a great marriage of beautiful software and great hardware design.

OMEGA_front HTC Start Screen

A lot of you have asked us whether Mango will support front facing cameras—and now that these HTC phones have been formally announced, I can confirm officially that Mango does support these. We’ve included support for “switching to FFC” for photo/video shooting into the native camera experience and we’ve added API support to the application platform so ISVs can build all kinds of interesting apps using the FFC. We’ll have more announcements on some of the specific apps that will take advantage of this capability a little later on.

The announcement of these new HTC phones is a big milestone in our march to Mango, with many more exciting things still to come!

Microsoft Says Windows Phone May Exceed Researcher’s Market Share Forecast [Bloomberg, Sept 1, 2011]

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)said its Windows Phone operating system may capture more than 20 percent of the smartphone market over the next two to three years with the help of hardware manufacturers and increased marketing efforts.

Forecasts by researchers Gartner and IDC, which expects a market share of about 20 percent in 2015, are conservative, said Achim Berg, head of Windows Phone marketing, in Berlin today.

Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, is betting that Windows Phone will retake market share lost to Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone and handsets running Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android software. The company will start offering the enhanced “Mango” version of its operating system, with functions including better social-media offerings, for the first time in Europe on two HTC Corp. phones, set to go on sale by Oct. 1.

HTC and other partners will run advertisement campaigns for the Titan and Radar phones, and the company has joined Microsoft in training “hundreds” of salesmen worldwide to better demonstrate the product, Berg said at the IFA consumer electronics fair. Microsoft plans to build on Windows Phone’s initial success with female consumers as well as with young and first-time usersto win market share, he said.

“We’re seeing an extremely positive response” to the Windows Mobile system, HTC’s President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Florian Seiche, said in an interview. “We’re now thinking that this year is a great time to get that momentum accelerated, to reach out to a broader group of customers.”

The Titan, which has an 8-megapixel camera with dual-led flash and a wide-angle lens, will sell for 599 euros ($855), while the Radar costs 399 euros [$570]. HTC is in talks with retailers and operators, Seiche said, adding that the phones will be broadly available in Europe.

This is a completely new platform, it takes time,” said Berg. “It took time with Android, it took time with Apple. We have to show that we’re very capable and that we have the fastest and easiest phone.”

In April, Gartner forecast that the Android operating system will have the largest smartphone market share during the next four years, rising from 23 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in 2015. Apple’s iOS is predicted to grow from 16 percent to 17 percent, while Microsoft’s share will go from 4.2 percent in 2010 to 19.5 percent in 2015. IDC in June predicted that Microsoft may hold a 20.3 percent market share in 2015.

Notes:
– HTC’s most popular Desire S (announced Feb 15 as a follower to award winner 2010 Desire) is ~$US400 (Amazon) with rather similar specifications as Radar
– 3.7″ Super LCD as well as 1GHz Snapdragon™ MSM8255 processor, dual front and back cameras etc.
– So Radar could cost $US100-150 more even at the best retail shop

Gartner Says Android to Command Nearly Half of Worldwide Smartphone Operating System Market by Year-End 2012 [April 7, 2011]

Worldwide smartphone sales will reach 468 million units in 2011, a 57.7 percent increase from 2010, according to Gartner Inc. By the end of 2011, Android will move to become the most popular operating system (OS) worldwide and will build on its strength to account for 49 percent of the smartphone market by 2012 (see Table 1).

Sales of open OS* devices will account for 26 percent of all mobile handset device sales in 2011, and are expected to surpass the 1 billion mark by 2015, when they will account for 47 percent of the total mobile device market.

“By 2015, 67 percent of all open OS devices will have an average selling price of $300 or below, proving that smartphones have been finally truly democratized,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner.

“As vendors delivering Android-based devices continue to fight for market share, price will decrease to further benefit consumers”, Ms. Cozza said. “Android’s position at the high end of the market will remain strong, but its greatest volume opportunity in the longer term will be in the mid- to low-cost smartphones, above all in emerging markets.”

Table 1
Worldwide Mobile Communications Device Open OS Sales to End Users by OS (Thousands of Units)

OS 2010 2011 2012 2015
Symbian 111,577 89,930 32,666 661
Market Share (%) 37.6 19.2 5.2 0.1
Android 67,225 179,873 310,088 539,318
Market Share (%) 22.7 38.5 49.2 48.8
Research In Motion 47,452 62,600 79,335 122,864
Market Share (%) 16 13.4 12.6 11.1
iOS 46,598 90,560 118,848 189,924
Market Share (%) 15.7 19.4 18.9 17.2
Microsoft 12,378 26,346 68,156 215,998
Market Share (%) 4.2 5.6 10.8 19.5
Other Operating Systems 11,417.40 18,392.30 21,383.70 36,133.90
Market Share (%) 3.8 3.9 3.4 3.3
Total Market 296,647 467,701 630,476 1,104,898

Source: Gartner (April 2011)

Gartner predicts that Apple’s iOS will remain the second biggest platform worldwide through 2014 despite its share deceasing slightly after 2011. This reflects Gartner’s underlying assumption that Apple will be interested in maintaining margins rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy. This will continue to limit adoption in emerging regions. iOS share will peak in 2011, with volume growth well above the market average. This is driven by increased channel reach in key mature markets like the U.S. and Western Europe.

Research In Motion’s share over the forecast period will decline, reflecting the stronger competitive environment in the consumer market, as well as increased competition in the business sector. Gartner has factored in RIM’s migration from BlackBerry OS to QNX which is expected in 2012. Analysts said this transition makes sense because RIM can create a consistent experience going from smartphones to tablets with a single developer community and — given that QNX as a platform brings more advanced features than the classic BlackBerry OS — it can enable more competitive smartphone products.

Gartner predicts that Nokia will push Windows Phone well into the mid-tier of its portfolio by the end of 2012, driving the platform to be the third largest in the worldwide ranking by 2013. Gartner has revised its forecast of Windows Phone’s market share upward, solely by virtue of Microsoft’s alliance with Nokia. Although this is an honorable performance it is considerably less than what Symbian had achieve in the past underlying the upward battle that Nokia has to face.

Gartner analysts said new device types will widen ecosystems. “The growth in sales of media tablets expected in 2011 and future years will widen the ecosystems that open OS communications devices have created. This will, by and large, function more as a driver than an inhibitor for sales of open OS devices,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

“Consumers who already own an open OS communications device will be drawn to media tablets and more often than not, to media tablets that share the same OS as their smartphone,” Ms. Milanesi said. “This allows consumers to be able to share the same experience across devices as well as apps, settings or game scores. At the same time, tablet users who don’t own a smartphone could be prompted to adopt one to be able to share the experience they have on their tablets.”

Note *: An open OS makes a software developer kit (SDK) available to developers, who can use native application programming interfaces (APIs) to write applications. The OS can be supported by a sole vendor or multiple vendors. It can be, but does not have to be, open source. Examples are BlackBerry OS, iOS, Symbian, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, Limo Foundation, WebOS and bada.

Gartner’s detailed forecast is available in the report “Forecast: Mobile Communications Devices by Open Operating System, Worldwide, 2008-2015.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1619615.

IDC Forecasts Worldwide Smartphone Market to Grow by Nearly 50% in 2011 [March 29, 2011]

The worldwide smartphone market is expected to grow 49.2% in 2011 as more consumers and enterprise users turn in their feature phones for smartphones with more advanced features. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011 compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010. Moreover, the smartphone market will grow more than four times faster than the overall mobile phone market.

“Overall market growth in 2010 was exceptional,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Last year’s high market growth was due in part to pent-up demand from a challenging 2009, when many buyers held off on mobile phone purchases. The expected market growth for 2011, while still notable, will taper off somewhat from what we saw in 2010.”

To capture the strong consumer demand for smartphones, manufacturers have unleashed a steady stream of new models and features over the past two years. The battle for mind and market share has also resulted in stiff competition among the smartphone operating systems.

“Android is poised to take over as the leading smartphone operating system in 2011 after racing into the number 2 position in 2010,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Devices Technology and Trendsteam. “For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smartphone strategies, 2010 was the coming-out party. This year will see a coronation party as these same vendors broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers, particularly first-time smartphone users.”

Nokia’s recent announcement to shift from Symbian to Windows Phone will have significant implications for the smartphone market going forward. “Up until the launch of Windows Phone 7 last year, Microsoft has steadily lost market share while other operating systems have brought forth new and appealing experiences,” added Llamas. “The new alliance brings together Nokia’s hardware capabilities and Windows Phone’s differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android.”

Worldwide Smartphone Operating System 2011 and 2015 Market Share and 2011-2015 CAGR (listed alphabetically)

Operating System 2011 Market Share 2015 Market Share 2011-2015 CAGR
Android 39.5% 45.4% 23.8%
BlackBerry 14.9% 13.7% 17.1%
iOS 15.7% 15.3% 18.8%
Symbian 20.9% 0.2% -65.0%
Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile 5.5% 20.9% 67.1%
Others 3.5% 4.6% 28.0%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 19.6%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, March 29, 2011

CEO of Microsoft Germany to become Microsoft Vice President of Mobile Communications [April 14, 2010]

Achim Berg, Vorsitzender der Geschäftsführung Microsoft Deutschland und Vice President International In an interesting move Achim Berg (46), previously CEO of Microsoft Germany, is moving to Redmond to become Corporate Vice President of Mobile Communications Business & Marketing, a newly created position. He will be responsible for all marketing and business development activities for Windows phones worldwideand report to Andy Lees, senior vice President of Mobile Communications.

“Achim Berg will be excellent addition, and brings his excellent management style and his practical sales and marketing experience in the Mobile Communications Business Team (MCB) . His experience at Deutsche Telekom, Fujitsu / Siemens and Dellgives a comprehensive view of our business. Achim will be a major asset to the Leadership Team and will contribute to the Mobility business and MCB to help the team succeed with the important Launch of our Windows 7 Phone, “said Andy Lees.

“The wireless market is essential for Microsoft. Already more smartphones are sold worldwide than PCs. Mobile Internet access has become the standard and is more important than the simple network with other devices. I see a huge opportunity for Microsoft in this innovative market, “said Berg.

Germany has been one of the stronger markets for Windows Mobile, with the Microsoft OS holding a 19.9% market share there, only after Symbian and iPhone and well ahead of RIM’s 5.4%, according to recent Comscore numbers.

Achim Berg, Corporate Vice President, Windows Phone Marketing [Feb 22, 2011]

Achim Berg is corporate vice president of Windows Phone Marketing, responsible for business performance and marketing for Windows Phone software and services.

Berg joined Microsoft in February 2007 as general manager of Microsoft Germany and area vice president Microsoft International. In his capacity as chairman of the Managing Board he was responsible for the operations of Microsoft Corporation in its third-largest subsidiary.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Berg served as a member on the board of directors of Deutsche Telekom T-Com, Europe’s largest telecommunications company, where he was responsible for marketing and sales of the company’s fixed line business since 2002. In addition he was appointed to the supervisory board of T-Mobile and Matav (the largest telecommunication company in Hungary). From 1999 to 2001, Berg held the position of managing director of Fujitsu Siemens Computers GmbH. Between 1995 and 1999, he performed executive sales roles for the computer manufacturer Dell Deutschland GmbH, most recently as director for midmarket customers. Berg made his first career steps from 1989 to 1994, when he worked in various sales positions for Bull AG in Cologne, Germany.

In Cologne, Berg completed his studies in computer science in 1989. He attended the European Potential Management Program at the European Economic School (EAP). Berg spends his free time with his family and participates in sports such as marathon running, skiing and golfing.