More Details Surrounding the New iPhone Emerge

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(Originally published on notable.ca)

This past weekend was a doozy for Apple PR. In the span of 48 hours, alleged “final prototype” images of the new iPhone leaked out online, and then to add fuel to the fire, the dreaded announcement and release date information leaked out shortly thereafter.

How much validity does this new information actually hold?

Over the last few months there have been umpteen leaked images, rumours of design, spec inclusions, and on and on. Apple, of course, remains extremely tight-lipped about it and we (the consumers) are left to sit, blog, and of course, ponder.

What if the images do prove real?

Simple. The website that posted them will be given the hat-tip for breaking (correctly) what is easily the story of the year. The famed “new iPhone”; the alleged “last” phone design that the late Steve Jobs had involvement with before his untimely passing last September.

Fall is not too far away.

The purported announcement will come at the beginning of September (the 12th to be exact), with the actual release date just 9 days later on the 21st. This falls exactly a month earlier than last years’ iPhone 4S release, which was announced at the beginning of October and launched on the 14th. The reasoning? Apparently the production of this year’s iPhone has gone better/smoother than expected and Apple feels that releasing it only 11 months after the 4S is a good move.

What is known is that iOS6 is coming to the masses this fall; and historically speaking, a new OS ushers in a new phone. Truth be told: iOS6, for those who have been using it since dev launch, is only on beta3. This means either Apple is doing very well in regards to timelines and hasn’t needed to release updates as frequently…or they severely have their work cut out for them.

Regardless of what is going on behind the scenes, September 12th is just over six weeks away; yup, just 6. So start saving and expect a lot more information to come to light in the coming weeks.

What do you think of the new iPhone? Leave your thoughts below!

Credit iMore for the scoop; photo credit: iLab Factory

Is the iPad Losing Canadian Tablet Market Share?

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(Originally published on notable.ca)

Say it ain’t so; is Apple losing some of its overwhelming tablet dominance this side of the pond? According to Solutions Research Group (SRG), they are indeed. Word has it the 9.7-inch tablet is losing market share to smaller tablets such as RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook and Asus’ Transformer, etc.  In SRG’s quarterly Digital Life Canada study they state that Apple’s Canadian tablet Q1 2012 market share is sitting around 56%, a huge drop from the over 80% in Q1 2011.

The study went on to point out that Canadians, as a whole, are shopping around with portability and price point in mind, rather than size and overall power. The numbers show that RIM’s PlayBook has captured 19% market share (up 4% from their last report), while tablets from Acer and Asus have 6% and 5% respectively.

Personally, and I could be an anomaly with this one, I have never actually owned a full-size tablet, or found the need to for that matter. I feel that carrying around a MacBook Pro and two powerful smartphones fulfills my needs to get things done, when I need to. Truth be told, while many Canadians take their smartphone with them almost everywhere they go, the study found on average Canadians only took their tablet with them 28% of the time when leaving the house. From a personal standpoint, carrying around a smaller tablet is just convenient; I mean, you try entertaining a 3-year-old in a restaurant for more than 20 minutes.

As of recent, though not officially confirmed, rumours have swirled that Apple has intentions of launching a smaller iteration of their famed (and game changing) iPad tablet. They have set their sights on the 7.5-inch market, with a rumoured name for the tablet being the “iPad Mini.” But, with all rumours, you can take that with a huge grain of salt.

What is foreseeable, however, is that when (and if) the aforementioned smaller iPad launches, it’ll do exactly what Apple wants it to do: take back ownership of the market, while of course blowing the competition out of the water, and that’s kind of a sad truth – I mean, there are some really good, powerful, and cheap tablets out there that do everything that iPad does and more, for a fraction of the price; but of course, popularity will always win.

What do you think? Does size matter when it comes to tablets? Could you not care less? Let us know in the comments!

Is a 2013 Q1 BlackBerry 10 Release Too Late for RIM?

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(Originally published on notable.ca)

Oh, RIM.

This year has been, and will continue to be, an emotional rollercoaster for the struggling tech giant. Seems like they can’t do much right in the eyes of critics and pundits. It’s generally a tough time, but one I do believe, strongly, that they will pull through. I won’t go over the numerous blunders they’ve had to brush under the rug – you can Google them – but I will say, all things being equal, that Canada needs RIM to pull through this, as disgruntling as it seems, and I have their back as much as I can.

Being said, this last week a personal friend and very respected mobile journalist, Al Sacco of CIO.com, had the chance to sit down intimately with the now notorious CEO. They discussed, of course, RIM, its future, when the devices will finally come to market and why he is using Android over iPhone currently.

Below is a notable excerpt from their conversation:

Al Sacco: “But how long do they [users] have to wait for RIM to prove it is still in the game? Will BlackBerry 10 solve all of RIM’s problems?”

Thorsten Heins: “I’m not happy with the situation at RIM either. Who can be happy and satisfied with where we are? What I am satisfied with is that I know we have a path to the future with BlackBerry 10, because I see it. In January with the full touch device and the QWERTY coming, I think we will reinstall faith in RIM. That’s what we’re working on…I have faith in the future. My team is working relentlessly to create that future.”

So there you have it, January 2013. Do you think you can wait?

Over the last several weeks (mainly since the dreadful RIM Q1 conference call) I have noticed something interesting – something that I saw last year this time in New York City: more Android devices in consumer hands than BlackBerrys. (I don’t include iPhone’s because it’s become a standard to see at least 1 in 3 people in a group using an iPhone.) Android, the open source OS that has taken mobile by storm, the same OS that Canada has had a love/hate relationship with since it was announced almost 5 years ago.

Seems as though disgruntled consumers are finally jumping the BBM bandwagon and opening their minds to newer pastures – pastures that aren’t iOS.

This raises a big concern/question from me: how can those customers even be brought back a year from now? Can they even? I strongly doubt it’ll be easy. Hardware pricing aside, the average user’s device, through wear and tear, has about a 1.5 year life span before it’s ready for retirement. In January it’ll be over a year since RIM released a major device. The aforementioned users (the ones who are on Android now) are likely former BlackBerry users who were waiting on baited breath for a Q3 device launch so they could upgrade their phone(s). With that release date pushed back, many threw in the towel and just gave up, opting to finally take the plunge and never look back. Do you think they (customers) will be ‘ok’ with just switching back because RIM is ready for them now? Stay tuned…

[quote taken from CIO.com]

Tim Horton’s to Offer Customers Free WiFi

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(Originally published on notable.ca)

Two years ago, almost to date (July 1, 2010, to be exact), Starbucks had a forward-thinking idea and thus changed the way coffee lovers (and mobile consumers) interacted with their favourite Starbucks location: in partnership with Bell Canada, they’d offer free WiFi access to its patrons. This idea shocked the industry, offering urban freelancers, at no charge, a comfortable, casual, and open-minded place to meet, network and get their work done all for the purchase of at least one snack or beverage (or, at the time, allowing Starbucks access to their information via Facebook).

Their competition didn’t know how to react, and Starbucks loved it. Not only did they have a stranglehold on the now thriving specialty coffee industry, they also had a way to rope in customers and keep them inside the coffee shops.

Fast-forward six months, and 9 out of 10 times walking into a local Starbucks you were guaranteed to see at least one person surfing the web on their tablet while enjoying a bevvy. This benchmarked Starbucks as the go-to for on-the-go professionals who needed a trendy, no charge place to meet their current/potential clients, while also to get their java fix.

Luckily for Tim Horton’s, a solid two years later, things would start to turn around for them. First, at the end of 2011, they would announce that they too would dive into the world of specialty coffee offerings, selling espresso, cappuccinos, etc. Then, the long overdue happened: in partnership with Bell, they too would offer their patrons free WiFi access.

Roland Walton, COO of Tim Hortons, had this to say about the partnership:

“It’s all about convenience and making life easier for our guests. Free wireless Internet at Tim Hortons will help people stay connected on the road in more locations than anyone in Canada and is yet another great reason to visit one of our restaurants to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee.”

But, all good news aside, could this partnership come too little too late?  I mean, everyone loves Tim Horton’s, yes, but how many of you would conduct a business meeting – or, for that matter, sit for a working session – inside a Tim Horton’s? I am not knocking their branding at all, I just think they need to re-invigorate their image in order to win over the next generation of entrepreneurs, who, in the spirit of bootstrapping, would rather work away inside a coffee shop than incur the overhead of office space.

On the other hand, with their significantly lower prices (than Starbucks), offering free WiFi could prove to be just what the doctor ordered to pull urban-dwellers in. We all need to be connected; does it really matter where we are getting it?

Sound off in the comments below.

Photo courtesy Vancouver Sun

The Future of Blackberry Messenger

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(Originally published on notable.ca)

The inception of BBM has forever changed the way we communicate with each other. From its simple beginnings as a quick, secure, and free way for executives to communicate with each other, it has grown into so much more – it has grown into being the benchmark for communication between mobile devices, an idea which paved the way for such popular data-using instant messengers apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, Kik, Hookt, etc.

Not long ago we spoke of the rumor that RIM, in an effort to increase cash flow, was playing around with the idea of licensing out their propriety wonder-child. Design geniuses went as far as leaking “images” of said app already ported to and running on Android; needless to say RIM shot that idea down very, very fast. To paraphrase RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, RIM has no interest in licensing out BBM or any other of their proprietary IPs until, at bare minimum, BB10 is released.

So that answers that question.

Now, onto another lingering question: what does the future look like for BlackBerry Messenger?

Luckily for us, some images leaked online last week showing off BBM for BlackBerry 10, and in my opinion, it looks strangely similar to the previously popular Kik Messenger. Yes, Kik, the same messenger that was abruptly shut down by RIM last year after their meteoric rise to fame. Legal documents claimed that Kik “infringed” on numerous BBM patents. But everyone knows that it’s because Kik was the first app that truly gave BBM a run for its money.

Other than a basic UI change, the two main selling points of BBM10 is the “flow” and ability to change the background color from white to black. RIM states that by simply changing the screen from a white to a black background your battery consumption could be decreased by as much as 25%; changing the color of your BBM messages could see a 75% decrease in battery consumption.

Essentially RIM’s primary focus with BBM10 is improving battery life.

RIM also plans on releasing custom themes to further promote productivity and save battery life throughout the workday.

Honestly, I think it’s interesting what RIM is doing with BBM10. They are taking one of their core apps and primary selling features and just making it better. Will it make a huge difference when it comes to closing someone on the platform? Unlikely.

At the end of the day, RIM has their hardcore users and supporters. Those are the folk who will have the patience and stick around, regardless of a new BBM UI change.

What are your thoughts? Do you like the new BBM? Sound off below.