The birth of a new era
Merely days after getting approval from the United States Justice Department, the EU’s European Commission has just approved the Microsoft/Nokia merger deal, which will see Microsoft merge with Nokia’s handset development and manufacturing business. This was the final large roadblock for Microsoft and Nokia to overcome, which means that the two companies can essentially begin getting to work on completing the merger internally for the projected Q1 2014 completion date.
The Commission had the following to say about the deal in a released statement:
“In 2012, almost 700 million smartphones and 162 million tablets were sold worldwide. The Commission assessed the effects of the acquisition on competition in the field of smart mobile devices (including smartphones and tablets). The Commission found that the overlap of the two companies’ activities in this area is minimal and several strong rivals, such as Samsung and Apple will continue to compete with the merged entity”
Microsoft Lumia Surface Phone 8 “Threshold“? Is that you?
A big win for Nokia
A judge in the Nokia/HTC case taking place in the United Kingdom ruled in favor of Nokia today, claiming that HTC violated several of Nokia’s key patents in the miniaturized version of the company’s flagship phone, the HTC One Mini. The bad news doesn’t end there for Nokia – unfortunately, the judge also believes that the handset’s bigger brother, the HTC One, could be in violation but is giving HTC some lee-way as a response to the company’s declining health in the marketplace as well as for some time to collect their thoughts and formally appeal the decision.
Unfortunately, this means that it is now impossible to purchase an HTC One Mini from any even remotely official outlet if you live in the United Kingdom, as the ban will stay into effect until the conclusion of this hypothetical appeal. The HTC One Mini is considered by many to be a more sanely sized version of an excellently executed smartphone from HTC, which has seen significant trouble in the marketplace from competitors Samsung and Apple.
Sony must be seeing money signs in the sky, because their PlayStation 4 launch has gone off even better than anyone has expected. The company has just released numbers for the month of November via their official PlayStation Europe Twitter account (tweet embedded below), and the result is, of course, staggering – Sony has now sold 2.1 million PlayStation 4 consoles worldwide throughout the month of December. That’s huge for a console that launched just a few months ago, and has already beaten the combined number of units sold for the Nintendo Wii U, which launched November of 2012 - over a year ago.
PS4 has now sold a recordbreaking 2.1 million units worldwide. Thank you! See our launch night video here: http://t.co/OWbknlMHXi
— PlayStation Europe (@PlayStationEU) December 3, 2013
Sony appears to have a slight edge over Microsoft and the Xbox One in terms of consumer interest and reception, however these are the early days – a console generation is not decided in a day, a month, or even a year – but rather closer to a decade. Stay tuned.
A big step closer to Nokia's demise
RIP Nokia. That’s what we should all be muttering to ourselves, afraid that others may hear us today as the US Justice Department has officially approved Microsoft’s Nokia deal, which will see them obtaining Nokia’s handset business and manufacturing as a result of a $7.2 billion deal between the two companies. This comes following an approval from Nokia’s Board of Directors.
A Microsoft representative gave the following statement to The Verge regarding the USJD’s decision today: “We look forward to the date when our partners at Nokia will become members of the Microsoft family, and are pleased that the Department of Justice has cleared the deal unconditionally.”
Now that the United States has approved the deal, the time has come for the EU to make a decision as Nokia is currently operates in Finland. However, given the US approval it is only a matter of time before the EU clears it as well – after that, the merge can commence and Nokia’s smartphone business, along with all of the Lumia goodness you’ve known to love (or love to ridicule), will be Microsoft’s.
Slated for early 2015 release
Windows 8.1, which was originally codenamed “Blue,” is now officially out the door and into the hands of the general public – and you know what that means, Microsoft has already feverishly begun work on the next major new version of Windows. According to the ever reliable Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, that new version is currently dubbed Windows Codename “Threshold” – and it’s coming sooner than you might think, currently slated for a Spring 2015 release.
While details are, of course, quite sparse on Threshold at the moment, Mary Jo believes that the next version of Windows will come even closer towards unifying Microsoft’s big three Windows NT based products – traditional “Windows”, Windows Phone, and Xbox – all of which run on the same codebase as we speak. Threshold could hypothetically unify the three platform’s app stores, allowing developers to create one version of an app that works on your phone, computer, and television.
It’s not yet known what NT version Threshold will carry – it would make sense to assume that Windows NT 6.4 is the most logical choice in order to maintain compatibility with more applications and drivers that already exist in the Windows ecosystem – however Microsoft has been resting on the NT 6 kernel for quite some time now, and it could be time for a more significant upgrade to arise.
We’ll keep you in the know on Windows Threshold going forwards, so keep an eye out.
Google, get on this
If you’ve got either a Nexus 4 or a new Nexus 5 running either Android 4.0 to Android 4.4, you best be weary of any odd SMS messages for a time. According to PC World, a glitch exists in the two latest versions of Android that allows attackers to rapid send 30 “flash” messages to Nexus devices, which causes a system crash that forces a hard reboot.
The issue stems from the fact that Android doesn’t notify users with an audio tone when being sent a flash SMS message, which allows these messages to build up leading to an overflow of sorts, and therefore a crash. Google is said to be aware of the device and has been working n a fix for some time now, however PC Magazine has only just reported the issue.
Source: PC Magazine
Your next, next smartphone?
It may not be your next smartphone, but could it be your next, next smartphone? The first Jolla phone has officially hit the marketplace on Finnish carrier DNA, and so far, the reviews have been relatively positive, both in terms of hardware and – perhaps most shockingly – software, even with the new Sailfish OS that Jolla is betting on. While there certainly appears to be some early kinks and issues that need working out, all in all this seems like a great first effort by an up and coming player.
Interested? The first Jolla phone with Sailfish OS is built on a 1.4GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB of built in storage space expandable via an SD card, a 4.5-inch / 960×540 IPS LCD display, an 8 MP rear camera and 2-megapixel front facing camera. You can purchase yours from DNA now – if you’re in Finland, of course.
But only for a couple of days
The highly successful PlayStation 4 has been perhaps too successful, to the point where us Americans have had to deal with PSN load issues. We’re coming closer to the PS4 launch date in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and to try and help combat these outages, Sony will be shutting off a few PSN features in these countries. Specifically, the features being disabled are the social aspects in What’s New and the Content Information Screen.
These features are only going to be disabled temporarily so as to prevent PSN overloading issues. Once the initial rush is over, the features will be enabled.
iPad to come later
Mega, the cloud sharing service that was born out the ashes of none other than MegaUpload, has released a new application for iPhone that allows you to view and share supported file formats, including videos and photos, right from your iPhone. Mega originally promised that the application would be coming soon to iPhone after previously launching for Android devices not too long ago.
Although the app is rather limited at the moment with no iPad support or file upload support, customers are able to purchase Mega’s premium tier via a $10.99 in-app purchase, for those interested. That’ll remove most of the tangible limits with using the service and will bump your storage up to 500 GB and your bandwidth up to 100 GB/month.
Source: The Verge
$950 and counting
Bitcoin, the decentralized digital currency “of the future,” reached a new record high today on the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox as the price of one bitcoin (1 BTC) reached $950 USD briefly, with the current value fluctuating between $900 to $950. The sharp rise in value comes as Bitcoin supporters have begun hyping “Bitcoin Black Friday,” a new initiative designed to raise awareness and publicity for Bitcoin as a viable alternative to more traditional forms of currency.
Bitcoin Black Friday is seeing increased support from numerous influential businesses, including Coinbase – one of the world’s most popular online Bitcoin wallets, GSM Nation – where customers will be able to purchase unlocked mobile phones at a discount using bit coins, discounted plane tickets at Cheapair.com, OKCupid, and even Reddit.
How do you feel about Bitcoin? Is it indeed the currency of the future like its supporters would have you believe, or a bubble waiting to pop? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Contract-free and SIM unlocked
So a couple weeks ago, Motorola unveiled the Moto G – a budget-minded version of the Moto X that only costs $179 for the base 8GB model. We said a couple weeks ago that the G would start shipping sometime in January of next year but that’s actually not the case. So as to not miss the holiday season, the Moto G is up for pre-order right now and will ship on December 2nd.
The phone can be pre-ordered in two different models: there is a US version of the phone which has been optimized to work on the GSM bands used in the US and there is an international version which works on the GSM bands used elsewhere in the world. Both versions ship contract-free and SIM unlocked. If you’re on Sprint or Verizon however, you’re out of luck as the Moto G won’t be shipping on them until January of next year.
A beautifully low end phone
Prominent leaker @evleaks has just tweeted out an interesting image of a new Nokia phone, pictured above, and if you thought that was a sneak peak of Nokia’s next Lumia phone you would be mistaken – but I wouldn’t blame you. No, according to evleaks that would be the Nokia Normandy (likely a codename), the company’s next Asha phone. You will recall, of course, that Asha is the operating system that most of Nokia’s budget phones tend to run, a modern operating system for the dying “dumb phone” segment of the industry.
Indeed, the Normandy bears a striking resemblance to the company’s Lumia line of smartphone, sans the Carl Zeiss logo on the back and the Windows flag logo on the front. No word on pricing or availability just et, but we wouldn’t expect to see this make its way in the United States – Nokia tends to cater this sort of thing to the global market.