New Week, Old News
Don Scansen posted on September 10, 2012 |
ChipsChips in hand
Photo credit:  Don Scansen

With the commentary and conjecture only beginning to wane from the Apple v. Samsung jury decision, last week was already a time when speculation and rumor began to ramp up in anticipation of this week's Apple press event on September 12.

Starting with Apple, the most personally interesting bit was the assumption that Apple will drop the iPhone 3GS from the line. This will push me into obsolescence at least in terms of the phone I carry. I've written before that the 3GS is struggling to keep up, but at least it was a model that you could still buy, in a way. After all, the 3GS has already been relegated to "free with contract" status. It's always a short ride to the scrap heap from there.

The announcements getting the most airplay for mobile products will be powered by processors built around ARM cores. So far more mobile devices = more ARM sockets. Other news related to Intel and its attempts to build an X86 based processor to suit mobile platforms. I will need to see Windows 8 and RT tablets along with the Surface to see where ARM and X86 devices are positioned, but this may also require some definition of what we define as mobile in the tablet-centric world of today. As Paul Boldt pointed out, there is some foreshadowing of lower power for Intel. The light of the IDF this week should eliminate those shadows clearing up what Intel has in the works for the coming months.

Amazon held a major media event last week where it launched tablets and e-readers. According to a headline in TechCrunch, "Amazon Doesn’t Want To Be More Like Apple, It Wants To Be More Like Amazon.com." Since most Amazon hardware acts as a store front for its online retailing, surely that's true. But looking at the new Kindle Fire HD, one may wonder as Megan Lavey-Heaton at TUAW did, reckoning Amazon was "throwing down the gauntlet to Apple."

Amazon continued to blur the lines between tablet and e-reader with their Kindle Paperwhite. As a recent convert to e-readers (Kobo Touch), I look at these trends with more interest. The higher contrast new ereader displays offer one more feature that gets at the one advantage general purpose tablets claimed with their conventional back-lit LCD displays. You could read them in the dark. That seemed like fair staking of territory since e-ink displays were a joy to read in daylight where an LCD fails miserably. For a technology analyst, this might seem like too much column space to devote to the concept since there is no breakthrough here. The Paperwhite and other models are simply incorporating a reading light obviating the need for one of those old-school clip on book lights. But then again, those are truly cross-platform. They still work with physical books.

There was some other lower key news on the ereader front with a Kobo event in Toronto. There is a good summary of both events that provides details of the guts inside the gadgets provided at the Good EReader Blog.

Unfortunately, there was more than new "stuff" in the news last week. There was more about the new reality for proud old companies. More bad news in Japan as another technology giant - Sharp - has fallen on extremely hard times, finding itself scrambling to pay the bills. Engadget reported that mortgages were taken out on its real estate assets, and its relationship with Chinese contract manufacturing giant Hon Hai (aka FoxConn) is not helping at this point as it attempted to renegotiate its deal to buy a stake in Sharp. David Manners provided more details of Sharp's financial woes, and it is not a pretty picture. Going back to the end of August, Junko Yoshida posted a very thoughtful piece in EETimes about Japanese corporate culture focusing on Renesas that is certainly worth reading.

Even with new Amazon devices, Intel pushing onto the press stage prior to its developer forum (IDF), and the unraveling of the Japanese semiconductor industry, it was just another week where Apple dominated the news cycle. And that was just a warm-up for this week. I can already feel the glow from the blogosphere.

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