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Next, a Kin: Microsoft to try new consumer phones

The new KIN 1 is seen at a Microsoft news conference in San Francisco, on Monday.

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The new KIN 1 is seen at a Microsoft news conference in San Francisco

Microsoft Corp. unveiled two cell phones on Monday that are meant for social networking-savvy teens and twenty-somethings, in an attempt to revitalize its mobile business and regain ground on iPhones and BlackBerrys.

Microsoft said its new touch-screen phones – a short, square-shaped handset called Kin One and a longer, more rectangular one called Kin Two – will be sold exclusively in the U.S. by Verizon Wireless. They are being made by Sharp Corp., which has produced Sidekick cell phones, whose software comes from Microsoft-owned Danger Inc.

In the past, Microsoft has mostly sold its mobile software to other companies to put it on phones they make. This will be the case with its recently announced Windows Phone 7 Series software, which is expected to be on handsets by the holidays. The Kin phones mark a departure, as Microsoft has sway over the creation of their software and hardware.

Verizon said it will start selling the Kin phones online in early May and in stores shortly thereafter. In the fall, carrier Vodafone Group PLC – which owns Verizon Wireless in partnership with Verizon Communications Inc. – will start selling the Kin phones in Italy, Spain, Germany and the U.K. Microsoft has not yet announced prices.

Microsoft needs help in the cell phone market. Its software has been losing share while Apple Inc. and Google Inc., which makes the Android operating software, have gained. Microsoft software ran on 13.1 percent of smart phones sold in the U.S. last year, according to research firm In-Stat. That put Microsoft in third after BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. and Apple.

Roz Ho, leader of the Microsoft team behind the Kin, said the company has been working on the Kin devices for several years, trying to create a handset for people who especially want to connect with others over social Web sites such as Facebook. The phones are also meant for people who want a handset that works simply, without forcing them to hunt through menus and icons, she said.

That setup could also present a risk. Unlike most popular smart phones, the Kins won’t have access to application stores that let customers download add-on software programs. Ho said her team studied consumer habits and then built the activities they used most often into the Kin phones.

For instance, in a demo for The Associated Press, the Kin’s home screen showed a live stream of updates to social networks and Web sites that can be clicked on and responded to. Users can send photos and other material to people by dragging it onto a little circle at the bottom of the screen. A finger swipe across the screen can then bring up a page with applications such as photos and music.

The music player will be based on Microsoft’s Zune software, which also will be incorporated into the Windows Phone 7 handsets that multiple manufacturers will be able to use. That software was announced first, at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, in February, but will hit the market later. Microsoft and Verizon said they don’t think consumers will get confused.

The Kin handsets will not be obviously branded as Microsoft products. They will sport a sizable “Kin” logo on the back and, in smaller type, an indication that they are Windows phones from Verizon and Sharp.

Gartner Inc. analyst Ken Dulaney doesn’t think the lack of a dedicated application store will hurt the Kins’ chances. Instead he’ll be watching how Verizon prices the devices and accompanying data plans. He’s hoping to see the Kins cost $49 or be given free with a Verizon contract.

“By pricing it properly, they can give themselves some room to grow and differentiate themselves from Apple. If they put themselves in the same ballpark, I think they’re going to get hurt,” he said.

Both Kins are black with screens that respond to multiple finger gestures, similar to the “multitouch” technology on the iPhone. The shorter Kin One has a full QWERTY keyboard that slides out from the bottom, while the Kin Two has a full QWERTY keyboard that comes out from its side.

Both include Wi-Fi access and cameras capable of taking higher-resolution photos than most handsets: The Kin One will include a 5-megapixel camera, while the Kin Two will have an 8-megapixel camera. The Kin Two will also be capable of shooting HD-quality video.

Neither has a memory card slot; instead, the phones will upload content such as photos and videos to a Kin online storage service to free up memory.

Microsoft already does something similar with the Sidekick phones – it stores phone numbers, photos and other personal data on servers it runs. This resulted in an embarrassing incident late last year, when a server meltdown caused data to disappear from some users’ phones. T-Mobile temporarily stopped selling the phones, and some customers even sued.

Microsoft managed to restore most of the missing data, and gave $100 gift cards to affected customers.

The Kins’ arrival doesn’t signal the end for the Sidekick. T-Mobile, which owns the brand, said it will introduce new hardware and software and consumers should look for updates “in the months ahead.” But those new units will not use Danger’s software.

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April 20, 2010 Posted by | My Gadgets | , , , , , | Leave a comment

People’s addiction to networking sites(Facebook, Twitter) on rise: study

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A Facebook login page is seen on a computer screen in Chicago. File Photo: AP

People’s addiction to social networking sites is fast on the rise, according to a study which said an increasing number of Facebook and Twitter users check their accounts first thing in the morning while some look at their social media messages even while having sex.

The study conducted by consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo said 53 per cent of people surveyed check their Facebook/Twitter accounts as soon as they get up in the morning, even “before getting out of bed”. Nearly 31 per cent say “this is how I get my morning news“.

“What is it about social media that causes people to spend so much of their precious time trading information with friends, family and even giant corporations? Of course, we already know the answer; it is fun and can be rewarding both socially and financially,” Retrevo’s Director of Community & Content Andrew Eisner said.

The Gadgetology study asked consumers how they felt about being interrupted at various times and occasions for an electronic message. While 33 per cent said they did not mind being interrupted by message updates “during a meeting”, 76 per cent said they can take a break from their meal to check their accounts.

Seventeen per cent said they would read a message on Facebook or Twitter during sex, while 63 per cent said they would check out a message while in the toilet.

Thirty-four per cent of the respondents said they would check their social networking accounts first thing in the morning, before switching on the TV. About 30 per cent of those surveyed said they check or update their Facebook/Twitter accounts whenever they wake up in the night.

People under the age of 25 were more likely to lose sleep keeping an eye on their friends’ posts during the night, the study said. iPhone owners stand out in this study as more involved with social media. They use Facebook and Twitter more often and in more places.

“With over 31 per cent of social media users saying checking Facebook and Twitter first thing in the morning is how they get their morning “news”, could we be witnessing the first signs of social media services beginning to replace ’Good Morning America’ as the source for what’s going on in the world?” the study said.

In more evidence that social media is becoming addictive, 56 per cent of its users said they need to check Facebook at least once a day, while 29 per cent said they can go only a couple of hours without checking their accounts.

Thirty-five per cent said they have to check their accounts at least a few times in a day. The sample size for the survey was over 1000 people across the United States.

According to Facebook, it has more than 400 million active users across the world. Some estimates say Twitter ended 2009 with over 75 million user accounts.

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March 26, 2010 Posted by | My Intrests | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twitter users hit 75 million

A file photo of Biz Stone, co-founder and Creative Director of Twitter.

APA file photo of Biz Stone, co-founder and Creative Director of Twitter.

The micro-blogging site Twitter is rapidly growing in the popularity chart, if the humongous rise in the number of registered accounts is any indication – a staggering 1,500-plus per cent growth last year.

“In the course of a year, the numbers of registered Twitter accounts have grown more than 1,500 per cent,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said in a statement here. He further said the number of his staff also rose significantly to 140 during the reporting year.

A study by online analysis software company RJMetrics said the number of Twitter users reached an estimated 75 million by the end of 2009.

Twitter has gone up on the popularity charts with a number of celebrities, including pop star Britney Spears. The U.S. daily The New York Times started using this service, while tens of thousands use it for dissemination of information.

The most notable twitter face in the country is the Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, whose ‘flying cattle-class’ comment following the government’s austerity drive last year created a controversy. Many actors are also regulars on this platform now.

Twitter offers micro-blogging which allows users to send short text messages, among others, on various multimedia platforms.

March 4, 2010 Posted by | My Intrests | , , | Leave a comment

Yahoo Taps Into Twitter

  • By: Geoff Duncan
  • February 24, 2010
  • Yahoo has inked a deal with Twitter to get a real-time feed of every public tweet…and plans to integrate Twitter’s content across its global network of sites.

    Yahoo and Twitter have announced a new global deal that has Yahoo tapping into the Twitter “firehose”—a real-time feed of every public tweet created by Twitter users around the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Yahoo plans to integrate Twitter’s real-time content and “social experience” across its global Web properties, exposing Twitter—and its tweets!—to the more than 600 million people who make Yahoo’s sites and services part of their online lives.

    Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

    “Let me try to capture the enormity of this integration in 140 characters or less: We’re turning the key to the online social universe—you will find the most personally relevant experiences through Yahoo,” said Yahoo consumer products group senior VP Bryan Lamkin, in a statement. “We’re also simplifying people’s lives by bringing their social worlds—and the world—together for easy access.”

    The integration between Yahoo and Twitter means that Twitter users will be able to tap into their personal Twitter feeds within Yahoo’s diverse online sites and properties—this will include not only the Yahoo home page and Yahoo Mail, but services like Yahoo Sports and potentially Yahoo News; users will also be able to post tweets of their own and share content from Yahoo in their tweets. Finally, general interest sites like Yahoo Search, Yahoo News, and entertainment, finance, and sports sites will present real-time public Twitter updates on a variety of subjects, all updated in real time. Yahoo’s integration with search is up and running right now; other Twitter-driven features are expected to launch on Yahoo later this year.

    The deal is intended to put Yahoo’s content and services more at the center of Internet users’ social Web lives; of course, having access to users’ Twitter streams and being able to look at followers, trends, and activity also means Yahoo will likely be able to take a closer look at the online lives of folks who sign into both Yahoo and Twitter…and that kind of information is a gold mine to advertisers.

    February 24, 2010 Posted by | My Intrests | , , | Leave a comment