10 October, 2011

Microsoft: Sit tight for dual-core, LTE Windows Phones

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 09:53 AM PDT
Even though all of the upcoming Windows Phone Mango devices are sporting single-core CPUs, Microsoft says dual-core devices are on the horizon, as well as those sporting fast LTE 4G support, reports All Things Digital.
But that doesn’t mean the new crop of Windows Phones will be slouches. “…I suspect that they will be faster in usage than any dual-core phone that you put against it, and that's the point," Windows Phone head Andy Lees said in an interview with All Things Digital. He added that Microsoft is waiting to make sure its software is ready to take advantage of multiple cores.
By relying on single-core CPU for its next batch of phones, Microsoft’s platform is well behind Android, which has been including dual-core CPUs since earlier this year, and the upcoming iPhone 4S, which sports Apple’s dual-core A5 chip. While chip cores aren’t something most consumers will notice, the lack of decent dual-core solutions gives enthusiasts yet another reason to look down on Windows Phone.
Lee said that the company is hoping to build volume and market share with its upcoming Windows Phone Mango devices. Microsoft started offering the Mango update, also known as Windows Phone 7.5, to existing customers two weeks ago.
As for LTE, Lee said that Microsoft and its hardware partners were waiting for LTE solutions that were less power-hungry. He declined to say whether we’ll see the first LTE phones this year or next.
Speaking about Microsoft’s recent cross-licensing deal with Samsung, Lee said we’ll begin to see signs of that partnership next year. "I think that the agreement that we have with Nokia, it's obviously a particularly special one, they're exclusive to us, and we have a very, very deep partnership, and I think that Samsung is not quite as deep a dependence as the Nokia one, but it's certainly in that vein," he said.
To entice more customers to adopt Windows Phone, manufacturers will be stepping up their marketing and sales incentives, Bloomberg reports. Both Samsung and HTC will be increasing their marketing budgets, Lee said.
While dual-core and LTE Windows Phones are way off, Nokia reiterated last week that it plans to launch its flagship Windows Phones this quarter.

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Posted: 10 Oct 2011 08:13 AM PDT
Business phone callTired of carrying multiple mobile devices just to appease your job’s IT department? With AT&T Toggle, you’ll soon be able to use your personal Android phone and tablet to access work data.
Announced today at the CTIA conference in San Diego, AT&T Toggle allows your Android devices to securely separate work email, calendars, apps and more. Best of all, the platform isn’t just limited to AT&T devices — the company says Toggle will work across any mobile carrier.
A platform like Toggle is beneficial to both business IT departments and their users: Companies won’t have to deploy as many devices and will have a better way of managing workers who only use their personal phones. And mobile workers won’t have to deal with the headache of managing multiple devices — their work life will be just a tap away from their personal life.
Toggle gives IT administrators a web portal for managing employee access to resources, as well as adding, updating, and deleting business apps. Once an employee leaves the company, or if a device gets lost, IT admins will be able to wipe devices of confidential data easily.
Toggle also shows how new ideas within AT&T can quickly become a reality. In a blog post today, AT&T Chief Technology Officer John Donovan said Toggle started out as a post from one employee on the company’s Innovation Pipeline crowdsourcing engine. From there, the idea evolved and eventually got funding and business support. The company tapped a developer to create Toggle through its Fast Pitch program, and a team at AT&T’s Foundry pushed it forward from concept to reality. In the end, AT&T was able to announce Toggle only a few months after it was conceived.
AT&T Toggle works on devices running Android 2.2 and higher. The company says it’s expected to debut before the end of the year.
Photo via Alex Proimos

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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Posted: 10 Oct 2011 08:00 AM PDT
De Beers Group, the world’s largest diamond company has set up investment offices in Silicon Valley to find and fund startups that use synthetic diamonds in their business.
The investment group, Element Six Ventures Group, has already funded a number of startups that use synthetic diamonds in the semiconductor industry and other manufacturing processes. Its new office will be in a Santa Clara, Calif. location that will also house an Element Six production site.
Synthetic diamonds have been in production for some time, but diamond experts have been able to tell them apart from geologic diamonds, where pure carbon crystallizes into the hardest known material under extreme heat and pressure. De Beers Group has a vested interest in being able to both mine diamonds in the real world and create them in the labs. Synthetic diamonds have found a number of uses in manufacturing.
"Synthetic diamonds’ extreme properties enhance performance in new technology applications to levels not otherwise possible," said Susie Wheeler, managing director of Element Six Ventures Group. "Locating the Ventures' office in Silicon Valley allows us to connect with new partners who, like us, want to develop these emerging technology investments."
Element Six Ventures has been actively investing since 2006; it is a part of Element Six, the synthetic diamond group within De Beers Group. It specializes in seed to late-stage tech ventures that use synthetic diamonds and other “supermaterials” with commercial potential. The company has invested in seven companies within the cleantech, semiconductor and electronics sectors.
Portfolio companies include: California-based Group4 Labs, which develops gallium nitride-on-diamond semiconductor wafers for communications; Massachusetts-based EOI, which harnesses synthetic diamond-enabled electrodes to generate ozone for chemical-free sterilization and sanitization of water; and United Kingdom-based Diamond Detectors, which makes synthetic diamond radiation detectors that are used high-energy research at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research).

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Posted: 10 Oct 2011 08:00 AM PDT
Consumers have become apathetic about retailer price protection programs. So Pricetector has created a new kind of social loyalty program that works for both consumers and retailers.
The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company has raised $2 million in seed funding for its program, which helps consumers get better deals both before and after they buy, via a mobile app. It also helps retailers target discounts to specific consumers and thereby engender more customer loyalty.
Rob Levy (pictured, on left) and Paul Patterson (pictured, right) started the company in January. Patterson, a veteran startup sales and marketing executive, was out shopping for appliances at Best Buy after buying a new house. A sales assistant told him not to worry about the price tag on some big-ticket items because there was a price-adjustment policy for 30 days after purchase. If the price of the item dropped in the next 30 days, then the store would return the difference to him. But Patterson realized there was no easy way to return to the store on a regular basis to check prices.
“Most consumers were skeptical of the value of the price protection policy,” Patterson said. “It was frustrating on both sides.”
The whole point of the policy was to get consumers to buy something on the spot. Over dinner, he and Levy, former chief technology officer at BEA Systems, started brainstorming how to automate the process of checking such prices. Once they figured that out, they started Pricetector.
To log the purchase, the consumer uses a smartphone to take a picture of the receipt, while the app is open. Pricetector can automatically record the information and cross-check it against the pricing information that it gets from retailers. If the price of an item drops within the time period set by the retailer’s policy, Pricetector will prompt the retailer to issue a promotional branded gift card, which drives repeat purchases, gets the consumer back into the store, and builds loyalty. At the moment, the consumer has to take the receipt to the store to get the discount.
Pricetector also offers a Pick-My-Price option where customers can use the mobile app to set the price they want to pay for a retail item. They scan the item’s bar code and set their price, and the retailer can respond by making that item available at the discounted price. Pricetector notifies the consumer if and when that happens.
The company will use the round of money to build out its team and its platform. Pricetector has been running a beta program with 30,000 consumers since early this year. It has tracked 179,893 retail items to date, with about a third of those eligible for rebates. The total cost of those items tracked is $54 million, and the potential consumer savings from the rebates on those items is $3.3 million, or 6 percent per customer.
This kind of money really adds up. The U.S. Commerce Department estimated that 2010 holiday spending was $380 billion. About 6 percent of that is $22.8 billion.
“We are looking to get consumers to recover that money,” Levy said. “Our objective is to make it as easy as possible.”
Michael Burry invested the $2 million in the company and he will become chairman of the board. Burry is founder of the Scion Capital hedge fund. He said that Pricetector stood out because it attacks a huge market inefficiency in retail. David Allen, former chief technology officer of i365, and Itamar Simonson, professor of marketing at Stanford University, will join the company’s board of advisors.
The company is showing off the loyalty program at Shop.org in Boston. Pricetector has 15 to 20 employees. Competitors include legacy loyalty programs such as Best Buy’s Reward Zone. But the problem with many of these programs is that customers often pay higher prices in order to collect points in the loyalty program.
Levy said the program pays off better for retailers than “daily deal” offers such as those created by Groupon. This is because retailers can precisely target consumers based on what they want to buy.
Levy said the average American household has memberships in 14 loyalty programs, according to research by Colloquy. But only 27 percent of members have received a loyalty program or promotion that made them feel like they were a valued customer. And 85 percent said they hadn’t heard from the loyalty program since the day they enrolled, according to ACI Worldwide. Other rivals include Shopobot and Price!Pinx. But Patterson said Pricetector is unique because it has a social smartphone app.
“We feel that the market opportunity here is very large,” Levy said. “And we think that other apps can be built on top of our platform.”

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Posted: 10 Oct 2011 07:48 AM PDT
iPhone 4S cameraApple has seen more than a million pre-orders for its new iPhone 4S in the first 24 hours after making them available through its online store and wireless carriers, the company announced today.
Apple debuted the latest model of its iPhone, the iPhone 4S, last week to much anticipation. The new model feature upgrades to the phone's processor and camera and a new personal voice assistant called Siri.
The pre-order numbers for the iPhone 4S are the highest for a launch day Apple has ever had for the iPhone, according to Apple SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller. Previously, we reported that AT&T had exceeded 200,000 pre-orders in the first 12 hours, which would indicate that the company probably had comparable numbers from the other two carriers offering the iPhone (Sprint and Verizon). And now we have confirmation.
The iPhone 4S will make its worldwide debut October 14 in United States, Australia, Japan, Canada, France, Germany and the U.K.
In related news, Samsung and Google said late last week that they would delay the launch of their competing Nexus Prime smartphone, which was supposed to debut tomorrow. The companies said the delay was because the world is still paying tribute to Apple’s Steve Jobs, who died last week, and that the phone would now launch in London on Oct. 27.
Did you pre-order the iPhone 4S? Let us know in the comments.

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Posted: 10 Oct 2011 07:00 AM PDT
Rixty is taking online game gift cards to the next level by making them personalized, branded, and reloadable.
Online game gift cards have become a big market, since they let users get virtual goods inside their favorite online games. But with the Rixty Custom Game Card, you can create a personalized gift card for a friend online. You can, for instance, put a picture of your friend’s avatar, or virtual character, on the paper card.
You can designate the amount of money on the card, up to $999. Then you designate where to send it. The personalized card arrives five days later via physical mail, inside a paper greeting card. The user can keep the card and reload it at the nearest 7-Eleven convenience store.
Ted Sorom (pictured right), chief executive of San Francisco-based Rixty, said in an interview that game publishers can adopt the program as a white-label service. They can put their own brand names on the cards and enable users to order them from the publisher’s own game site.
“You get the card in the mail, Hallmark-style, with a personal message,” Sorom said. “We facilitate gifting in the real world.”
Rixty uses a patent-pending process to add a player’s username and avatar image to the card, which can have a personalized message. Sorom said the cards will help game publishers gain more users through word-of-mouth marketing and better long-term monetization because the cards are reloadable and collectible.
“Traditional game cards are used once and thrown away,” Sorom said. “These custom cards live in a player’s wallet” where you can show them off to friends or top up an account with more cash.
“This meets the needs of the publisher, retailer, and consumer,” Sorom said.
Masaru Ohnogi, chief executive of Gcrest America, publisher of the online game TinierMe, said that gift-giving is huge in his company’s game, so extending gifting into the real world with custom game cards is perfect, making participating in Rixty’s program one of the easiest decisions of the year.
The Rixty Custom Game Card program is available now and will support several big game publishers in time for the holidays. The system helps publishers because it means they don’t have to put so many cards into physical retail stores. And it still helps retailers because the cards are reloadable; when someone reloads a card, part of the transaction fee goes to 7-Eleven.
Rixty was founded in 2007 and has launched an alternative payment system that lets users spend cash and coins for online games, virtual goods and digital content. It thus extends participation in online games to kids and people who don’t have credit cards. Rixty cards are available in 73,000 stores in the U.S. and nearly 500,000 worldwide. For instance, when you take your coins to a Coinstar machine at the grocery store, you can be paid in the form of a Rixty game card. On average, users purchase Rixty cards for $50.
You can take that card home, enter the number on your account and add the currency so you can spend it on your favorite online game. A wide range of online game publishers from Bigpoint to Gameforge accept Rixty payments in their games.
Rixty is expanding overseas and expects to launch in Brazil later this year. The company faces a number of rivals such as Visa’s Ultimate Game Cards and Incomm, but no one has reloadable cards in the market today. The price for a personalized greeting card is $3.99. About a dozen game publishers are expected to participate.
Rixty has fewer than 10 employees. It raised $1.4 million in venture funding from Javelin Venture Partners, First Round Capital, and Softech VC.

Filed under: games, VentureBeat

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Posted: 10 Oct 2011 07:00 AM PDT
CrowdStar‘s $10 million StarFund investment fund has made investments in six new mobile game startups for about $250,000 each.
The first fruits from that investment program will appear as mobile games in the near future, Jim Mills, a former VantagePoint Capital Partners managing director who is now running the StarFund, told VentureBeat. Social game developers have been busy starting multillion-dollar funds so that they can grab turf in the fast-growing mobile social game market, which some believe could be bigger than social games on Facebook.
CrowdStar and incubator YouWeb — both headed by social games leader Peter Relan — started the StarFund in July as a way to break into mobile games. The attraction proved so alluring that Mills left VantagePoint after a decade as a venture capitalist.
“We’ve had great inbound interest since we announced the fund,” Mills said. “We are focusing on games that have mass-market appeal and multi-platform game play.”
Of the company’s six matching grants to date, some are equity investments and others are traditional publisher game financings. The inbound interest is from all over the world.
Mills said the company is looking for titles that could reach a billion users, as Relan articulated a couple of weeks ago at the HTML5 Dev Conference. Those include HTML5 games that are similar to the kind of titles that CrowdStar already publishes, like Top Girl. That means the investments aren’t likely to focus on titles that appeal to hardcore gamers and have high-end graphics.
“We look at the likelihood of cross-promoting a developer’s game within our network, which is more heavily focused on females,” Mills said.
But he noted that the company is likely to add male-focused games as well. The company is going to the GDC Online show next week in Austin, Texas, to find more developers. Mills said CrowdStar is also considering acquisitions. As a partner, Mills said that CrowdStar offers design expertise and analytics that can help make a game more successful. CrowdStar can also finance marketing campaigns that help get a mobile social game noticed, and it can assist with monetization.
The first couple of games coming from StarFund-related deals will debut in October on both iOS (Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad devices) and the Android mobile operating system.
“We think mobile is an attractive gaming market opportunity, with similar impact to Facebook games,” Mills said.

Filed under: games, VentureBeat

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Posted: 10 Oct 2011 06:31 AM PDT
Netflix‘s controversial plan to split off its DVD rental business as a new venture called Qwikster is no more.
“It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote in a blog post this morning. Hastings went on to call Netflix’s recent pricing changes “necessary,” but added that “we are now done with price changes.”
The move is as much as a surprise as Netflix’s original announcement of Qwikster last month. It’s a sign that Netflix is taking consumer criticism seriously enough to dramatically shift its plans. I argued that Netflix’s handling of the Qwikster announcement was yet another example of how it doesn’t know how to talk consumers. Today’s post, which is short and to the point, is a big improvement.
“We underestimated the appeal of the single web site and a single service," said Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey in an interview with the New York Times. "We greatly underestimated it."
Qwikster wasn’t an entirely terrible idea. It makes sense for Netflix to split off its DVD rental business from its streaming offering at some point. The disc-by-mail business won’t be sustainable for much longer, and Netflix is better off focusing its energy on its more promising streaming video plans. But the Qwikster announcement came too soon after Netflix’s contentious pricing changes, and to subscribers, it appeared as if Qwikster had too few benefits to justify the added confusion of managing queues and subscriptions on two separate sites.
The biggest issue with Qwikster was that it split up Netflix’s DVD rental and streaming queues, which users had grown accustomed to being integrated. That integration had many benefits: for example, adding a movie to your DVD queue automatically added it to your instant queue. And having the queues integrated meant you could rate and review something in one spot — with Qwikster you would have had to write two separate reviews.
By saying Netflix is completely done with pricing changes, though, Hastings may have dug another hole for himself, since it leaves little room for the company to increase prices in the future. But given how long it took Netflix to dramatically increase its prices, today’s statement likely won’t come back to haunt the company for some time.

Filed under: media, VentureBeat

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Posted: 09 Oct 2011 06:03 PM PDT
FarmVilleAs annoying as it is to get Farmville requests from friends on Facebook, now there may be no way to escape the popular game with Farmville in talks to be made into a movie.
Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, writers on the classic film Toy Story and decidedly not classic movies Garfield and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, revealed late last week they have been in talks with Farmville-creator Zynga to write an adaptation.
“We’re in conversations with Zynga to do something with one of their brands,” told IGN on Thursday. “Can’t really say too much on that front yet, but ‘Old MacDonald’ didn’t have a factory, if you get our drift.”
We’re not exactly sure what that quote means, but previous rumors indicated that Zynga had reached out to work on a Mafia Wars film based on the popular game. So it’s no surprise they might be working to develop other content based on its immensely popular games.
Farmville launched on Facebook in June 2009 and became one of Zynga’s first big hits. The game’s a little older now but it still counts more than 35 million users. Comparably, Zynga’s Cityville has has more than 76 million active monthly users after launching in December 2010.
The goal of Farmville is to build a thriving farm by planting trees, harvesting crops and raising livestock. The social aspect of the game comes from having your Facebook friends as “neighbors” and users being able to send supplies and gifts to each other, among other actions.
A movie would most likely use Farmville as a title for branding purposes, but not necessarily feature any farming with friends action. However, it’s not hard to imagine a computer-animated film with talking farm animals coming out of this. If it’s anything like Garfield or Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, however, I’ll happily be skipping this.

Filed under: games, media, social

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Posted: 09 Oct 2011 04:41 PM PDT
Apple TVApple’s next iteration of its Apple TV device will likely add in a dual-core A5 processor, the same powerful CPU found inside the new iPhone 4S and the popular iPad 2, and offer 1080p HD playback for the first time.
The Apple TV device has been referred to as a “hobby” by Apple in the past, but that doesn’t mean Apple won’t continue to slowly update the device with better specs to cater to fans. Apple TV lets owners stream content from their iTunes libraries and videos from YouTube, Netflix and Vimeo directly to a home TV.
A reference to the next-gen Apple TV found deep inside of iOS 5′s coding suggests a new version is on the way, according to a 9to5Mac report. The current version of the Apple TV device is listed as “2,1″ while a new “3,1″ version is listed in the iOS 5 software. A new version would include a dual-core A5 processor because it enables 1080p HD playback, the most noticeable deficiency to the Apple TV device. The current Apple TV’s A4 processor unfortunately only allows 720p HD playback.
It’s possible the new device listing could have something to do with an upcoming Apple-made television that we heard will almost certainly arrive in 2012. That device could easily integrate Apple TV’s best features like applications for streaming video services while providing another type of hardware for Apple fans to purchase. Our own Devindra Hardawar suggests the new Apple television will not replace your big-screen HDTV and will most likely will act as a secondary TV in your home. A television screen under 30 inches in size will be easier to manufacture and be ideal for bedrooms and kitchens.
Are you a fan of the Apple TV device? Would you buy a full-fledged Apple-made television?

Filed under: media

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Posted: 09 Oct 2011 03:49 PM PDT

Silicon Valley isn’t a place with a long memory. There are plenty of people who migrate here in search of wealth, without knowing much about its history. To them, only the newest technology is important, not the stuff of the past. They race ahead from one bubble to the next, oblivious to the fact that there are such things as boom-and-bust cycles.
But the death of Steve Jobs is a reminder that history matters. We haven’t had to deal with the loss of many of the valley’s iconic leaders because they are still living. Jobs’ passing shows us that the leaders won’t be around forever. We can’t take them for granted, nor can we forget the valley’s own leadership in the world’s technology industry. Leaders matter. They can make or break a company, a region, or a country.
This occasion makes it a good time to reflect on and learn our history, because we’ll need it to figure out where to go. Jobs was the guide to the future of better products and experiences. He was able to imagine a better experience, while most of us can’t do that until we see it working in front of our own eyes. He was a seer, much like Intel’s Bob Noyce, the co-founder of Intel, and David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard.
Jobs himself felt the tug of history. He apologized to Packard and Noyce for failing when he was fired from Apple after founding the company. He later said that failure was one of the best things that ever happened to him because it led to his eventual renewal. In his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, Jobs credited history and an ability to “connect the dots” in order to create something new.
“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards,” Jobs said. “So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
I am reminded of how hard it is for places like the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., to collect artifacts of computer history. That is because most reasonable people threw out aging computers and other obsolete gear. Only the pack rats kept things like the first hard disk drive or the first floppy disk.
"It's one of the top four or five most important inventions in the world, like the printing press and the wheel and the cotton gin," said Len Shustek, chairman of the museum's board and one of the people who pushed for the museum 15 years ago, in a talk earlier this year. "It's happened in such a compressed time. We are living in a time when we are going through a transition from having no computers anywhere to computers in everything we touch."
He added, "We are here with Michelangelo as he paints the Sistine Chapel and we have to record how that happened."
Jobs had a very documented life compared to most people, but we still don’t know enough about him. He was a giant in so many ways, but we didn’t know how important he was to Silicon Valley and the world until after he was gone. We are probably very lucky that Jobs agreed to do 50 interviews with author Walter Isaacson for an upcoming biography on the life of Jobs. Jobs himself was a student of history. As noted in the New York Times, Jobs admired the business giants, but was particularly enamored with the relatively obscure Edwin Land, the inventor of instant photography at Polaroid. While we will learn a lot from the biography about Jobs, there was so much more to him that we all want to know.
The loss of Jobs is a lot like the loss of other towering figures like Noyce and Packard. Jobs’ contributions spanned the beginning of personal computers, music players, smartphones and tablets. My guess is that part of Jobs’ brilliance in his later years came from the fact that he had first-hand knowledge of the early years. He had seen the same movie play out so many times before. Now, nobody holds the mantle of the master of the tech universe.
Without someone like Jobs, there’s a real danger that Silicon Valley may lose its edge. If Apple has no seer anymore, it could fall victim to a thousand different competitors. Foreign giants such as Samsung or big Chinese electronics giants would love to steal a march on Silicon Valley. Since there are so many unproven CEOs running many of the great Silicon Valley companies now, the valley is actually in a vulnerable state.
We have many questions about where to go to find the next big thing. The answers will come easier to those who know their Silicon Valley history. Startup CEOs would do well to visit places like the Computer History Museum, which is preserving old pieces of the computer industry’s history before they are tossed out with the trash.
If there is a silver lining to Jobs’ too-early passing, it is to remind us to think about who built Silicon Valley, what inspired them, where they are now and how we should redouble the investment in innovation and creative thinking in order to ensure a brighter future.

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Posted: 09 Oct 2011 01:28 PM PDT
Although this week will see the release of the hyped iPhone 4S, that isn’t stopping Verizon Wireless from launching the 4G-LTE-enabled Samsung Stratosphere the day before.
One fault many saw with the iPhone 4S was its failure to include a 4G chipset so it could run on the fastest possible data networks in the U.S. If Verizon Android fans want to hold one thing over their iPhone carrying brethren, it’s that many of the latest Android phones have 4G LTE while the new iPhone only supports 3G data speeds.
Still, the iPhone 4S will be a huge seller and has already reportedly sold more than 200,000 units in pre-sales since Friday on AT&T alone. We expect similar numbers have been sold on Verizon and Sprint as well.
But if you’re not in the market for an iPhone, perhaps the Samsung Stratosphere, as first reported by Droid Life, will be up your alley. The smartphone looks much like Sprint’s Samsung Epic 4G, except with Verizon’s blazing 4G LTE speeds.
The phone will offer a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen with 480 x 800 resolution, a single-core 1-GHz processor, a 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of onboard storage and 4GB extra memory from a pre-installed microSD card. The standout feature, like the Epic 4G, is the Stratosphere’s full QWERTY keyboard, which some people prefer to touch keyboards.
The Samsung Stratosphere’s Android competition on Verizon is fierce, however. Not only is there the powerful Motorola Droid Bionic, but there is also the upcoming Samsung Nexus Prime. The Nexus Prime supposedly features a 4.65-inch display and will likely see release in the next month or so.
The Samsung Stratosphere is expected to retail at $149.99 with 2-year contract. Are you interested in picking one up?

Filed under: mobile

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