Apple Enters the 7-inch Space With iPad Mini

The suspense has been gone for some time but now that Apple has officially taken the wraps off of its latest member of the iPad family, the 7-inch iPad Mini we can actually look at the details and see how it compares to its rivals in this space.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook officially unveiled the latest at an event held in San Jose, Calif. today, seven months after its last iPad release. Apple’s iPad Mini is 53% lighter than the last generation iPad at 0.68 pounds, and has a 7.9-inch Retina screen with a 1,024 x 768 resolution, the same resolution as the iPad . Apple said that since the displays are the same resolution there should be no issue using existing iPad apps on the newest tablet. It features a 5MP backward facing camera and is capable of connecting to a 4G LTE network.

The iPad Mini starts at $329 for a 16GB version, $429 for the 32GB model and $529 for the 64GB model and Apple will start taking orders for the tablet on Friday and said that it expects to ship the Wi-Fi version at the end of next week with the cellular version to ship two weeks later.

Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller said that the iPad Mini’s rivals in the 7-inch space were failures. Well Apple will have the chance now to show that it is better since its two top rivals, Amazon and Google, sell their 7-inch tablets at cost with the Google Nexus 7 starting at $199 and the Amazon Kindle at $159, both significantly lower than what Apple is selling the iPad Mini for.

There is no doubt that the company has had tremendous success with the larger iPads since its debut, with over 100 million sold and a dominating, almost 70% market share so far. This might be why Apple had been originally disparaging of the 7-inch market but the success first of Amazon’s Kindle tablet followed closely by Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Google’s Nexus 7 have shown that there was a large demand out there for smaller devices.

Tablet market no longer just Apple vs. Android
It should be noted that while Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google have been getting all of the press for their popular 7-inch offerings, more are expected from additional companies, starting with Acer’s announcement of its Iconia A110. The 7-inch tablet is approximately $30 less than the Nexus 7 at $230 and will have a 1024 x 600 resolution display, but this is another Android-based system.

However the Windows 8 revolution is about to hit us as Microsoft seeks to establish itself as a major player not only in the tablet operating space with its Windows 8 operating system but also as a provider of hardware with its Surface tablets, all of which will be unveiled this week.

Plenty of the Windows 8 hardware OEMs such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Asus and Lenovo have already taken the wraps off of their devices in advance of the official unveiling and Intel has talked about the features that t will bring to the space with its technology and processors. However, so far none of the OEMs, that I am aware of, have talked about 7-inch tablets, although Samsung has offered one in the past. I suspect that just like Apple they will be visiting the space, and soon.

It would not be an Apple event if there was just one center of attention. The company announced a new 13-inch MacBook Pro that features its retina display technology, a notebook that weights in almost a pound lighter and 20% thinner than previous versions. Currently available it has a $1,699 starting price tag. Then there is a Mac Mini at $599 and a new iMac with up to a 27-inch display and an interesting new hard drive/flash combo starting at $1299 for the version with a 21.5-inch display.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Cheap Google Tablet? Apple Map ills

The latest rumor on new tablets comes from the partnership of Google and Asus, which just recently introduced the popular Nexus 7 tablet. Now it is being reported by Digitimes that the t

wo may be looking to break new price point barriers with a $100 offering.

With new Nooks from Barnes & Noble, Kindles from Amazon and systems pending from a host of other OEMs over the next few weeks the competition is getting much stiffer as customers are now being presented with more viable options to Apple’s iPad. It will be interesting to see if this pans out. Others are already claiming that the rumor is false.

Fallout from Apple Maps continues
Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly apologized to customers about the poor shape that Apple’s maps is in. The app, which replaced the popular Google Maps, has some glaring flaws like eliminating landmarks and moving roads.

Cook said that the company was very sorry for the frustration that it caused its customers and he even went so far as to recommend 5 apps that might do as a replacement to Apple’s offering. Speaking of Apple the iPad 3 (not iPad Mini) rumors have started- stay tuned for a growing wave of them as others launch their latest tablets.

Google loses appeal on patent enforcement
Google has been barred from enforcing a German court ruling against Microsoft that would have led to the banning of select Microsoft products on Germany. The ruling came from the US Court of Appeals and it upheld a lower court decision that prevented Motorola from enforcing the ban.

Foss Patents appears to see this as a positive move in getting Google to start licensing its patents on a FRAND basis.

FCC OKs wireless auction
There may soon be more bandwidth available for wireless use as the Federal Communications Commission has given approval to the auction by television broadcasters of bandwidth that they no longer need.

The expected bidders will use the bandwidth to meet expanding cellular and wireless Internet usage. The FCC is still working out the details of the auctions, according to the New York Times.

Nokia signs mapping deal with Oracle
Nokia will now be providing mapping software to Oracle, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The deal is expected to be announced today at OracleWorld and will allow Oracle’s application users to integrate mapping capabilities.

Android and iOS market shares grow
Android and iOS grew market share during the summer according to a report from market analytics firm comScore. The study, which tracked the operating systems from May to July show that Android represents 52.2% of the US market while Apple’s iOS is now 33.4% of the market. It looks like the Apple win over Samsung might have had an impact as Samsung had stagnant growth, losing 0.3% of its hardware sales.

Barnes & Noble Unveil High Definition Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble has expanded its tablet offerings with a pair of new offerings including the first high definition models as the company is once again going head to head with rival Amazon and its tablet offerings.

The latest from Barnes & Noble is the Nook HD and the Nook HD+, with the Nook HD seeking to stake out the low cost leader in the 7-inch high definition space and the 9-inch Nook HD+ seeking to do the same in the larger screen space.

The Nook HD features a 1440 x 900 display that is capable of 720p HD video playback, with a standard 8GB of storage that is expandable to 16GB, running a version of Android 4.0 operating system and powered by a dual core 1.3GHz OMAP 4470 processor. It does not feature a front facing camera or NFC capabilities.

The Nook HD+ features a nine inch display that has a 1920 x 1280 pixel resolution and comes with 16GB storage as standard that can be upgraded with a microSD card to 32GB. It is also powered by the TI OMAP 4470 processor, this one running at 1.5GHz.

The arrival of these tablets was not that big of a surprise for two reasons. The first was the simple need to keep up with the Jones, or in this case Amazon and the second was that the company had announced its streaming video service and that almost certainly meant having a HD device to view the video. Both tablets are due in late October and the Nook HD will start at $199 and the Nook HD+ will be available at $269.

Barnes & Noble is touting the wide array of content for the devices including its large catalog of digital books. The Nook Store has been revamped and features 3 million books including nearly 3,500 children’s interactive picture books as well as a growing collection of comic books and graphic novels.

The streaming video service will be called Nook Video and will launch in late October. The service will feature TV shows as well as HD movies that can be downloaded and viewed. Among the studios that they have licensed content from are HBO, STARZ, The Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers Entertainment.

The latest generation of Nook devices can also be connected to a television so that a user can view the videos in full 1080p. The content can also be viewed on tablets and smartphones via the Nook video app.

Other areas that it has either added new features or support are in its UltraViolet support enabling the integration of physical DVDs and Blu-ray discs that have the UltraViolet logo from Barnes & Noble with the Nook.

The Newsstand has been revised with a new look and allow you to select only specific sections of a paper if so desired. The Magazine 2.0 allows readers to cut out pictures and just read text if they want and has a feature called Nook Scrapbook for clipping pages and saving them. The Nook Apps offers a range of apps for the tablets, with currently around 6,000 available.

The move comes both in time to help maintain its position as a top provider of tablets at a time when the competition, now from Amazon but soon from others as well, is increasing. It still trails rival Amazon in apps available, as well as Amazon having a huge set of additional services that are well established and familiar with its customers, something that will help propel Kindle HD sales.

Mobile Sports Report Grab Bag: New Tablets from ZTE & Huawei and MNF Flop

Toys 'R' Us Tabeo

Tired of losing your pricey iPad to your kids and then they yell when you try and take it back? Well Toys “R” Us has stepped in with a product that just might save the day with its Tabeo offering. A 7-inch tablet that runs the Android operating system will be available in stores Oct. 21, but will start shipping Oct. 1.

The $149.99 device will feature 4GB of storage that is expandable to 32GB, but the big plus for parents is that it will come with more than 50 books, games and educational apps preloaded including such popular ones as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. The Tabeo is now available for preorder.

Chinese vendors ZTE & Huawei catching tablet fever?
DigiTimes is reporting that both Huawei Technologies and ZTE have both shown a good deal of interest in entering the tablet space. The move is seen as an effort to expand their respective footprints globally as well as take advantage of the huge Chinese market.

First Monday Night Football game of season a flop with fans
The first MNF games have come and gone, and thank goodness if you were forced to watch them. Apparently not that many did as Sports Media Watch reports that the opening game, a Ravens blowout of the Bengals only managed an 8.1 rating.

Monday Night Football

The season opener, shown on ESPN, was down 21% from last year when the Patriots and Dolphins played and down 23% from the Jets vs. Ravens in 2010. It was the lowest rated MNF broadcast by ESPN since it took over broadcast duties of the iconic show in 2007.

However just a few days later the NFL Network, with a much better matchup with the Packers vs. Bears, received the highest rating in its short history. However its numbers, at 6.3, are hurt because it still is not carried anywhere near as much by cable operators as ESPN.

Analysts predict 58 million iPhone sales in 2012
The iPhone orders only start today after the introduction earlier this week with the first phones expected to ship next week but analysts are predicting a tsunami of sales for Apple’s iPhone 5 smartphone in 2012.

According to a survey done by Bloomberg and reported in Mashable the consensus from analysts is 58 million sold this year and FBR Capital Market analyst Craig Berger is predicting 250 million over the life of the device.

Is Samsung’s LTE threat an issue still?

Samsung mentioned that if Apple included LTE in its iPhone 5 there was a high likelihood of Samsung suing Apple. Samsung owns a huge number of patents in this area and has a healthy business in the LTE area that is spate from the smartphone business.

Now so far Samsung has not acted but it might just be that the company is looking at the technology that is used in Apple’s LTE offering to make sure that it has it right. We could always hope that maybe the two are actually talking and can settle things out of court.

Samsung & MLB partner on contest
Speaking of Samsung the company has entered into a contest with Major League Baseball called Photo Hunt. It is a pretty basic game, one I think even I would have a decent chance at. Every week MLB, at @MLB, will tweet out a Samsung Photo Hunt item using the hash tag #SamsungMLB.

All a user has to do is take a picture of the item and share it with @MLB. Winners will get a Samsung S III phone and two free tickets to a game of their favorite team.

Kindle opens to lukewarm reviews
I was impressed by what I saw during the Kindle HD press conference last week, but reviewers with hands-on experience with the device have been less than complimentary. Some seems to be valid complaints, such as the speed apps load and a few issues with software.

Some of the complaints appear to be, well it is not an iPad, and that really is Amazon’s fault for proclaiming it the best tablet in the market. I still like it, but it is obviously what Amazon said it was at its introduction: a device that opens up other Amazon services to customers. It seems to me to make a product like that (in hindsight) that there will be features that are not included that a general purpose tablet user might want.

USA Today to look like iPad?
I have not been down to the local newsstand but it appears that USA Today will be sporting a new look starting this morning. The paper, which in many ways revolutionized the way papers look and how much space they devote to a story, is now taking on a sleeker appearance.

The paper took a lesson from the Web and how many sites present information. It will also feature input from social media users, including comments from Twitter and Facebook. Its web page will function more like an iPad, according to a piece in the New York Times.

Amazon refreshes Kindle Fire as More Competition Looms

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Amazon has come back to the market with its second generation Kindle Fire as well as its lowered prices and enhanced the performance of existing Kindle models. Declaring that the company has decided to go big, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage today to introduce a pair of new Kindle Fire tablets called the Kindle Fire HD including an 8.9-inch device that caught many by surprise. There is also a 7-inch version.

The latest device appears to have something for everybody with enhanced e-mail that will appeal to business users, the ability to limit screen time that will make parents happy and a faster device and wireless capabilities that everyone will like.

The screen on the Kindle Fire HD has a 1920 x 1200 resolution and Amazon has eliminated the air gap in the new Laminated Touch Sensor display, a move that it said will eliminate glare by 25%. The tablet will be powered by a Texas Instruments 4470 OMAP processor.

The company has adopted a MIMO (multiple input-multiple output) dual antenna structure in the devices that help with providing a stronger, faster Wi-Fi signal, operating in the 5GHz band. A key advantages that even with the higher speeds it does not use additional battery power. Amazon said that this is 41% faster that the new iPad.

Additional hardware features a front facing camera and dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus. The storage will start at 16GB, with Amazon saying that 8GB, common in most rival offerings, just would not work with high definition.

There is a range of new software features including Whispersync for voice that enables you to listen to a book and then later start up reading where you were last listening. There is also a version for games so that you can continue on from where you stopped in a game.

For users that view movies on their tablets there is now a feature called X-Ray for Movies that was developed in a partnership with IMDB that allows you to freeze a scene and the app will tell you who is currently on screen. If needed it can go into a great deal of additional detail.

For the corporate user it has an enhanced e-mail that will enable a very tight integration with Microsoft Exchange. There is also a feature called Kindle FreeTime that lets you set screen time limits for kids with different settings for movies and reading.

The entry level price for the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD will be $199 while the 8.9-inch model will start at $299 and a 4G LTE version will have a $499 sticker price. The first model is expected in the next few weeks but the higher end models will not be available unit late November.

Another new offering from the company is its slim and light Kindle Paperwhite, a 7.5-ounch 9.1 mm thick e-reader that will include a front lit display with user changeable fonts and a higher resolution display. Its base price will be $119 while a 3G version will have a $179 price tag. The company reduced its Kindle from $199 to $159 with more memory and a faster processor, available on September 14.

The company first delivered the Kindle Fire last fall and it was one of the hottest products gifts of the holiday season, topping the sales charts at Amazon in its first weeks. However a bevy of competitors have darkened the sheen of the product. Amazon estimates that it now has 22% of the tablet market in the United States.

Barnes & Noble are fighting to get share with its Nook but the bigger competition has come from market leader Apple and its iPad lineup and newcomer Google with its Nexus 7 offering. In the near future we will see a host of tablets based on the two versions of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system

We are already seeing hardware OEM’s such as Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Hewlett-Packard release advance information about next generation tablets as well as new hardware developer Microsoft with its Surface platform. Intel claims that at least 20 tablets will be using its chips in future releases, and it is not the market leader in this space.

That is a reason why Apple’s and Samsung’s offerings cost significantly more; they are looking for profits off of their hardware. Amazon’s Bezos talked about how customers want services not gadgets and that hardware is a service. He noted that most of its rivals in the tablet space have failed because they do not realize this. He said that Amazon does not expect to make money from its hardware but from the content it sells. Despite this he claims that it is not a razor/razor blade situation. However there are dangers to this approach as pointed out here at CNBC.

Amazon has really raised the bar on features and performance with the Kindle Fire HD and it will be very interesting to see how the competition reacts. With Apple’s new iPad expected soon, it will probably be the first to face a drect comparison, followed by the Windows 8 tablets.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Lots of Apple News- NASA uses Android

NASA satellites to operate using Android phones

Gizmodo is reporting that the brains that will operate a set of tiny asteroids that are being built by NASA will use the smartphones running Android. The satellites, called PhoneSats will be made from off the shelf materials and will only cost around $3,500.

The devices will be approximately 4 cubic inches and the next generation is expected to launch next year. NASA already has tested the first generation that uses a Nexus One smartphone for two way communications and other uses.

iPad Mini in October?

The rumor mill has been churning over the features and delivery date for the expected iPad Mini from Apple. The tablet is believed to be a 7-inch tablet, the first from Apple. Now Cnet is reporting that the device will officially see the light of day in October.

Original reports had the device coming to market along side the next generation iPhone, that is expected in early September but apparently Apple had different plans if the most current reports are correct.

IAC has purchased for $300m
Internet conglomerate InterActiveCorp has reportedly purchased from the New York Times in a $300 million cash deal. The Times was probably happy to rid itself of the money losing property, having taken a $194.7 million non-cash write down on the group last quarter.

However the Times originally purchased for $410 million in 2005. is similar to a property that IAC already owns,, and is being positioned as a complementary property by IAC.

Samsung shares drop $12 billion after US Court verdict
Samsung, already stung b

y losing big in its court case against Apple in the US, with as much as $3 billion on the line took another hit after the verdict was read. Its stock dropped like a rock, with shares dropping 7.5%, resulting in a loss of $12 million in the company’s market value, according to a report from Reuters.

Apple still dominates tablet sales according to HIS iSuppli

Apple is slowly expanding its dominate market share in the tablet space according to market research firm IHS iSuppli, and now sells seven out of every ten tablets. Apple's 69.6 percent share in the April-June quarter is up from about 58 percent in the first quarter, helped by the release of a new model just as the quarter began.

HIS iSuppli’s top 5 in the second quarter of 2012Here are the top five manufacturers of tablets in the second quarter, as released by IHS iSuppli:
Apple 69.6 percent share
Samsung Electronics Co. 9.2 percent. Inc. 4.2 percent
AsusTek Computer Inc. 2.8 percent
Barnes & Noble Inc. 1.9 percent
Other, 3 million, 12.3 percent
It will be interesting to see the next two quarters as the Microsoft Windows 8 show as well as the very popular Nexus 7 could have an impact on the standings.

ITC provides Apple with an additional win
The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in Apple’s favor last week wjhen it stated that the company did not infringe on three of Motorola Mobility’s patents, in a complaint that has been ongoing since 2010. The ITC remanded the investigation of a fourth patent that is under dispute by the two to an administrative law judge.