Latest industry insights

Blackberry Z10

So, it’s finally here, the saviour which BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM), hope will signal a turn-around in company fortunes. There’s no denying the Z10 packs an interesting feature punch, however for those of us ex-Blackberry phone holders who remember the prolonged service black outs of the past 12 months, technology is no good if you can't use it. Not underestimating the size of the task which faces RIM, it will be interesting to see how RIM’s, sorry Blackberry’s, corporate client user base (now Blackberry has clearly stated their strategic focus lies in the Business consumer market) react when it comes to all important contract renewals. The Q10 with its hybrid touch and button keyboard should suit those executives who are wedded to button based format factors and could help ease them into the world of gestural and touch UI. But, the question on everyone’s lips is surely is it enough and who will stand to benefit OS wise if its efforts prove to fall short of that required; Apple, Windows, Android? What’s certain is that there’s going to be a steep learning curve for existing Blackberry users as the new Blackberry10 OS is substantially different from its predecessor OS7. The Z10 has also done away with the physical buttons found on iOS and Android phones opting for a gestural based system as its primary navigation method. In terms of stand-out features, the Z10 sports a decent pixel resolution of 720 by 1280; partitioning of work and personal content and horizontal swiping to access/peek the Blackberry hub, a universal inbox pulling in multiple communication forms; texts, emails, BBMs and social updates. Whilst we await to see what impact Blackberry’s latest offerings will have on its commercial future, check out the Z10 in further detail.

CES showcase

Last month I reported on the upcoming CES (Consumer Electronics Show) taking place this year in Las Vegas. So, it’s logical, to my mind at least, to look at some of the stand out products and applications on display at the show. Unsurprisingly, 3D printers featured heavily at this year’s show, but with starting models in the low thousands, this really is a market for the serious enthusiast and professional user markets currently. If you’re not familiar with the concept, I recommend checking out the excellent PC Pro blog for further detail. Pebble watch, a digital timepiece which can synch to iOS or Android phones to display income messages and caller information proved also to be very popular and if you get bored with the face, you can simply download an alternative. And, when it comes to ubiquituous computing automotive companies are really taking this ‘on board’, if you’ll pardon the pun. Chevy are no stranger to this, having showcased an editable screen (to feature in its 2014 Impala model). The icons cover everything from navigation to phone to apps such as Pandora. For quick access to functions such as navigation, drivers will be able to save up to four icons to an upper strip on the interface. Those icons will remain static as the driver goes into different functions, such as music playback menus. And yes, for the more practically orientated amongst us, this includes being able to saving a specific point of interest (e.g. a petrol station presented as a graphic visualisation!).

iPad5 rumours

Barely a week goes by without a rumour about a new Apple product, but this one’s a bit more exciting (at least as far as I am concerned). Speculation currently abounds as to when the ipad5 will hit the shelves and what new features it will sport. For some, it could be appearing as early as next month. After all it’s no secret Sharp have been scaling down their production of full-sized ipad screens in the last 2-3 months. For others a mid-year e.g. June or October launch appears more likely to enable Apple to ride the pre-Christmas sales curve. Comparatively more certain is what the new tablet will look like and contain. This ‘new generation’ tablet is almost certainly going to incorporate a number of significant component and form factor changes. For example, a thinner device, more closely aligned to the current ipad mini, a IZGO display (that’s Indium gallium zinc oxide to you and I) which will not only allow for a higher screen resolution due to smaller pixel sizes. Sharp, who is believed to behind the new screen technology has cited that the new IZGO screens can cut power consumption by upto 90%, an efficiency not likely to go un-noticed by current ipad users. We can also expect its release to be accompanied by a successor to the highly successful ipad mini, with the ipad2 almost certainly likely to include Retina display ‘as standard’. Exciting times indeed.

Google coming to a high street near you?

First, I’m not talking about Google street view cameras roaming around the local vicinity, but a physical retail outlet to sell and showcase Google’s physical products, e.g. Glass (Google’s interactive glasses). For those this side of the pond, Google has actually been operating pop-up stores within a number of Best Buy locations across the US and feedback has been so successful, that a move into physical stores is very much in Google’s ‘line of sight’ so to speak. Given the educational challenges Google has flagged in terms of teaching members of the public how to use Google Glass technology, a physical retail presence has a lot of merit. Coming to a high street may be a bit of an over-exaggeration, unless you live in one of 4-5 of the major UK conurbations, but this is Google that we’re talking about! Watch this space (or maybe that should be vacant retail spaces near you!).