There’s Going To Be a Casualty in the Smartphone War…

The Smartphone War has been brewing on for a couple of years now, with Apple, Google, Microsoft, and RIM duking it out to be the top competitor. As our mobile world continues to grow, and more people get away from their PC’s and spend more time on smartphones and tablets, it’s important to provide the most functionality possible to ensure your customer base stays loyal. That being said, there’s about to be a casualty in the smartphone war, and a significant one at that.

Research in Motion (RIM), until just a few short years ago, was the undisputed winner of the smartphone war when it was just between them and Microsoft. Blackberry phones featured an intuitive, easy to use email service that was met unrivaled. It had an amazing, exclusive messaging system that worked similar to instant messaging, with other Blackberry users. Blackberry phones were the thing to have at one point. And then came Apple’s Blackberry killer, the iPhone. Featuring it’s slick design and easy to use touch screen, the iPhone put a massive target on RIM, and up until recently, RIM has done just fine in competition. But now, it can’t keep up.

RIM announced yesterday that it was laying 2,000 of it’s near 20,000 employees off, citing that it was restructuring the company to better compete with Apple, Microsoft, and Google, it’s three main competitors. Not a good sign of a business that’s trying to create and sell quality phone products, if you ask me. It looks as if RIM is on the verge of losing the smartphone war, and bowing out very ungracefully.

Let’s take a look at two of the products that RIM has released in the past year. There’s the Blackberry Torch, which was the spiritual successor to the semi-popular Blackberry Storm, the first touchscreen device from RIM that was met with very mediocre fanfare. The torch featured a brand new version of Blackberry OS, which, according to sources that have used it, is miles better than the previous version…but still not all that great. The Torch featured a unique slide-up keyboard that was new to the Blackberry line, but also featured all of the functionality of a touchscreen phone.

Then theres the Blackberry Playbook, the seven-inch tablet that RIM released earlier this year. The tablet features everything you like in a tablet, with the Blackberry OS right on top of it. The Playbook has been met with some pretty terrible reviews, leading consumers to believe that they are better off using an Android tablet, or better yet, an iPad. In my time with the Playbook, I had a very hard time getting the device to even turn on, and when I did turn it on, I found it to be a little sluggish and not worth the hype. One cool feature that is being implemented into the Playbook is the Android Market, allowing users of the tablet to play games and use software that’s written for Android.

20110726-125148.jpg

With the mobile industry constantly evolving, RIM has definitely made some mistakes. Without it’s own proper app store (or market, or portal, or anything that won’t get them sued by Apple), they won’t get very far. Yes, they have one, but it doesn’t have the support of developers, which leads to consumers not having much interest either. Without superior build quality (let’s face it, some of RIM’s phones haven’t been built all that great, as of late), and superior customization options, RIM is doomed to exist as a smartphone manufacturer. There has been talk that the Blackberry Messenger will be developed for Android and iOS devices. The functionality of that would be superior to text messaging, and easy to use, as well. If only they could port over their superior email client, as well, then RIM could exist better as a software manufacturer, and let their three competitors steal the show completely.

It will certainly be interesting to watch the future of RIM unfold over the next few months. With these layoffs, and the lack of innovative hardware (the company is reportedly announcing a new phone today), it just appears that they are doomed to exist.

Netflix Announces New Pricing Structure

Netflix announced today a new pricing structure that is sure to turn some of their customer base away from having a combination plan. Effective immediately for new subscribers, users can have one DVD out at a time for $7.99, digital streaming for $7.99, or have both for $15.99 per month. To put it into perspective, customers can currently get both for $9.99 a month plus tax. That’s roughly a 60% increase! For existing subscribers, you have until September 1st before the new structure goes into place.

Why is Netflix doing this? While the streaming collection on Netflix continues to grow, it seems as if it doesn’t make financial sense to offer both services at a discounted rate. The current pricing structure went into effect not even a year ago, and it appears as if they aren’t making as much money as they would if they offered them separately.

In my opinion–this kinda sucks for Netflix customers, and probably Netflix themselves, too. The customer database is probably in the process of deciding which service is better (I’ll likely be going streaming only). Netflix probably won’t see as many people utilizing both services as much as they’d probably like, and we may head towards cheaper pricing again as a result. I think the ultimate goal here is to expand their streaming collection and get more people to stream. I guess only time will tell.

20110712-063212.jpg

Digital Lust Daily Feed: July 7, 2011

Slow news day today! No breaking news or anything like that. Heres just a couple of quick stories that we saw today:

Wii U Will Launch After April 1, 2012
Nintendo spokesman Reggie Fils-Aime said today that the Wii U will not launch any earlier than April 1, 2012. He did not specify any other details about the new console, which features new HD graphics and a touch screen controller. He did mention, however, that the console will sell alongside the DSi, the Wii, and the 3DS.

Google Docs Gets Refresh, New YouTube in Testing
Ever since the launch of Google+ last week, Google has been working to give it’s different services a new, uniform look that matches the new social network. Gmail got the refresh a few days ago, and now, Google Docs has gotten the treatment, making it easier and cleaner than ever. It’s also been reported that a new interface for YouTube is currently in testing. More details as they become available!

Google+ Giveaway Sees Biggest Day Ever!
Thank you to everyone who participated in today’s Google+ Giveaway. Anyone who posted a comment today received a shared story, which will get you an invite. The giveaway will continue tomorrow, but as I will be away from my computer all day tomorrow, I will not send those until late tomorrow night. Again, all you have to do is leave a comment on the blog(make sure that your Gmail account is in your profile before submitting!), and I will send you one!

Honestly, thats it for today. I will be taking tomorrow off for the (hopeful) launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, maybe returning tomorrow night for a couple of quick things. Enjoy your Friday!

Digital Lust Daily Feed: July 6, 2011

Interesting news day today–not too many stories to share tonight, but definitely a couple of big ones in the social media world. Lets get right to it:

Facebook Announces Chat Revamp
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that beginning today, a new partnership between the social powerhouse and Skype has formed, giving Facebook an all new video chatting service in-browser. Zuckerberg also announced a new group chatting feature, as well as an easier to use chat interface. The changes went into effect today.

Google+ Goes Live For All With a Gmail Account
As long as you are the proud owner of a Gmail account, Google+ is now open for you. Various media are reporting tonight that the site has opened it’s hypothetical doors to everyone. Of course, we’ve been covering the launch of Google+ all week, and even kicked off a new Google+ Giveaway. With this new level of operation of the new social network, however, the contest has become irrelevant, and has been discontinued. Be sure to check out Digital Lust tomorrow for a rundown of the Google+ Android app.

And Speaking of Google+, No Privacy for You!
Google announced today that at the end of this month, any private Google+ pages will be deleted. The purpose of Google+ is to provide users complete access. You should still be able to hide some aspects of your profile, however, and any content that you do not want shown to the public can just be shared with specific people.

Angry Birds Movie in Development for 2014
David Meisel, the former head of Marvel Studios before the company was bought out by The Disney Corporation, will begin developing a new project based on the epic mobile game of the same name. This is pretty significant for the mobile world–this is the first time that a movie will be developed based on a mobile game. Should the project get the green light and proceed with development, it will release in 2014. Hopefully the Angry Birds franchise will have enough lasting power to make it still relevant in 3 years. Perhaps a Alfred Hitchcock style “Birds” plot will be appropriate for this movie?

Sony Announces PSN Pass
Sony has announced that starting this fall, in order to gain online access to new games, a PSN Pass will be required to be input before playing. This appears to be a new security feature that the company is putting into place following the recent hackings that kept the Playstation Network offline for a month. It was mentioned that if you buy the game preowned, you would have to purchase a Pass on the Playstation Store in order to gain access.

iPhone 5 to Launch in Q3, On Sprint too??
Sources indicate that the next iteration of the iPhone, reportedly titled the iPhone 5, will release sometime in Q3 (which is this quarter, by the way). Other rumors indicate that the phone will also launch on Sprint on the same time as Verizon and AT&T. This could get interesting, seeing as how Sprint is now the only major carrier left with an unlimited data plan. Will the AT&T faithful flock away from the network and head towards Sprint for the cheaper plans and unlimited data? Only time will tell…

And that about wraps it up for tonight’s edition of Digital Lust Daily Feed. Tomorrow on Digital Lust, I’ll be going in depth with the Google+ Android App in an all new App Attack. I’ll also be talking about the increasing popularity of net casting, specifically with Twit.TV. We’ll see you tomorrow!

Facebook Announces New Chat Services

20110706-020826.jpg

Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced some new changes to the popular social networking site, thanks to a new partnership with Skype. In the new partnership, Facebook will provide it’s users with a new video chat service, powered by Skype. Also announced were a new interface to make chatting even easier, as well as a much-anticipated group chat feature. Let’s take a look at exactly what went down with today’s announcement:

1:15pm: Zuckerberg talking about where social networking is 5 years ago compared to today.

1:19pm: Talking about the next 5 years and where social networking is going.

1:20pm: The next five years is not just about active users. It’s about the value, time spent on the network, and how it affects the economy.

1:23pm: Now he’s talking about exponential growth and something about paper going to the moon?? Also mentioned 750 million users on Facebook.

1:26pm: Now talking about the growth of Sharing on Social Network.

1:27pm: 4 billion things shared every day on Facebook.

1:28pm: Group chat announced for Facebook. New design for chat coming, as well as video calling.

1:29pm: Zuckerberg talking about the new design. “Buddy list” style way to chat online is coming.

1:30pm: Announcement of partnership with Skype for video chatting.

1:36pm:
Group chat being demo’d.

1:37pm: Group chat rolling out today. Now discussing new sidebar for chat. Video calling will also roll out today.

1:38pm: New call button to begin showing up on profiles for video calling.

1:38pm: Video calling being demo’d. Video calling already launched to “millions of users.”

1:39pm: Small download required to activate video chat. Downloads within browser and launches in under 30 seconds.

And there you have it. The rumors were true. It wasn’t the iPad app that I was hoping for, but hopefully we will see that coming very soon! The new chat features will launch today on Facebook’s website.

Digital Lust Daily Feed: July 5, 2011

Wow, what a day. As you might have known from reading my bio (if you read it), I live in Orlando, FL, and the Casey Anthony trial came to a conclusion today to some shocking results. This led to me getting into some interesting debates revolving the verdict (but since this is not a blog about the law, we won’t discuss that here!). Needless to say–I’m really not too surprised about that outcome.

It was also a big day because of Google+. I finally got in, and I absolutely love it! I’ll be posting my official rundown and impressions of the site tomorrow, so be sure to stick around for that. I also announced my Google+ Invite Giveaway, and I have a few winners to announce! Look for that right after I go over today’s top news:

iPad Web Traffic hits 1%
It was announced today that iPad users are using their iPads so much that it is accounting for 1% of the total web traffic in the world. Interesting fact, seeing as how I have this stance that the tablet market is exploding. The number has grown significantly since the launch of the platform, and is only expected to get higher. It was also announced that iPad web traffic accounts for 2% of all web traffic in the United States.

HTC Sales Waaay Up…HTC Stocks Waaay Down
HTC has announced that their total amount of sales is up 88% over the past year. Of course, devices like the Evo 4G, the Droid Incredible, the HTC Thunderbolt, and the new Evo 3D are amazing devices that have held up well on the market, and the increase only further proves that point. The bad news regarding this however, is the optimism that investors have about the company. Stock prices for HTC have slid 19% in the past month–definitely not a good sign for the company.

Playstation Network FINALLY Concluding Restoration
The Playstation Network is finally returning to the Land of the Rising Sun. Sony has announced that the restoration of the Playstation Network will finally conclude in Japan, after a group of hackers took the service down back in April of this year. Sony has also concluded its Welcome Back program in the United States today, after extending it 2 additional days to help those who were having issues downloading their free content.

Google+ App Coming to iOS?
Maybe this isn’t so much a question as it is a question as to when Google will release their new app for Google+, the new, limited-beta social networking service from the Internet empire. The Google+ app has reportedly been submitted to Apple for submission, hopefully to see release soon. The Android app for Google+ is absolutely stunning, and hopefully the iOS edition will be equally as stunning.

Myspace to Become Social Talent Show?
Last week, Myspace was purchased by Specific Media for a total of $35 million. Actor/Singer Justin Timberlake has apparently obtained some ownership of the site, which lost its dominance as the leading social network to Facebook. Sources indicate that Myspace will be completely revamped as a “talent show” experience, in an attempt to revitalize the site to a new level of popularity.

Hotmail Turns 15 Years Old!
Wow, time flies! Microsoft’s “Hotmail” service has provided quality email service for 15 years today. The service has been immensely widespread over its 15 year course, and continues to grow today through Microsoft’s revamped “Live” service. Congratulations, Microsoft!

Picasa, Blogger to Get Re-branded?
Sources indicate that Google is preparing to completely rebrand and relaunch two of their popular services, to make them fit into the company’s portfolio more effectively. Picasa, the popular photo sharing service, is rumored to become simply “Google Photos,” while Blogger could become something as simple as “Google Blogs.”. With Blogger being the original home of Digital Lust, I don’t really know as to whether or not changing that particular service is a great idea–it’s popular the way it is, and who knows what could happen if it changes.

Google+ Giveaway: Day 1 Winners!!!
Today was the first day of Digital Lust’s first online giveaway, the Google+ Invite Giveaway! The response wasn’t anywhere near the fifteen invites I wanted to give away tonight, so be sure to submit your 50 word comment to any post on our site (and please include your Gmail address!). Tonight’s winners will have their invites sent shortly after this post is published, and hopefully they will have joined the fun soon! Enough rambling! Tonight’s winners are:

-Ron Schoenstein
-Gallucia
-James Mozingo

Congratulations to tonight’s winners, and hopefully I will be able to give more out tomorrow!!!

That about wraps it up for tonight’s edition of The Daily Feed! Tomorrow on Digital Lust, I’ll be continuing my weeklong coverage of Google+ with a rundown of the main site and how it works. I also will be posting the first edition of YouTube Today, a mini-aggregator of a few YouTube videos that catch my attention. And finally, the Google+ Invite Giveaway will continue tomorrow. It’s gonna be a great morning, so be sure to come back and see what’s going on!

EA Games Selling iPad Games for $.99 Each!

EA Games appears to be selling it’s entire collection of iPad games for a mere $0.99 per game this evening. If you’ve been holding out on buying digital versions of your favorite board games like Monopoly or Scrabble because of their normally high price points, now may be the best time to invest!

Not only are the board games on sale, but games such as Dead Space, Nova 2, and NBA Jam are now at the $0.99 price point too. Better hurry, this probably won’t last long!

20110701-104247.jpg