Sunday, February 06, 2011

Honeycomb Gets Close and New Devices Start Teasing

There is a lot of news to talk about this week, though on many sites you must sort through page after page of notes on the Verizon iPhone. For those not in the United States, the battle between iPhone users and AT&T isn’t that big of a deal, though it is interesting from the standpoint of market share since, as the largest consumer base for smartphones in the world, when something changes in the US it has resounding effects around the world.

That said, I’m intrigued by the slew of recent release dates, rumours and new content additions that have appeared on the radar of late. To start with, no one can quite figure out when the new wave of tablets will arrive this spring. An errant Best Buy Facebook Page accidentally said that the Xoom would be available on February 24 in the US. While this hasn’t been confirmed or denied, it seems more and more likely considering how long Motorola’s been sitting on this device.

Of course, since Honeycomb officially debuted three days ago, the floodgates are starting to slide further open as more people prepare to launch their first Android 3.0 devices. Our first official look at the OS was nice – the same slick interface we’ve come to know and love from Android but optimized for a bigger screen.

At the same time, news is swirling around the perceived announcement of an iPad 2. No one really knows when Apple will officially announce it, but Darrell Etherington at GigaOm doesn’t think it will be in the next week (at the 4.3 unveiling), if only because it’s too far from the likely launch date and Apple needs to be more careful with their announcements now that they have real competitors. To me, if the Xoom really does hit soon, I see Apple laying out their plans shortly afterwards to cut off the likely sales of Motorola’s new device, but it remains to be seen if that will happen. The price point for the Xoom will have an impact as well.

In other news, The Daily was officially announced this week and along with it a handful of competitors like New York Times’ I’m interested to see if this surge to provide an iPad newspaper will cross over to other tablets. It’s obvious that the news media and print industry are playing catch up right now, but at some point, they have to start to thinking ahead – whether for new devices or their admittedly weak subscription plans.

I suppose the message from this week is that we’re in a bit of a limbo phase. While there are some new devices hitting the market (the Dell Streak 7 arrived with a slightly disappointing screen and the first Asus Eee tablet with Windows is finally available), the big boys are still on hold – soon enough though we’ll get our hands on the Playbook, Xoom and iPad 2 and can start really arguing over which is best for 2011. 

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