Canonical unveils Ubuntu for Android at #MWC

Canonical has introduced the next step in Ubuntu’s expansion beyond the desktop, Ubuntu for Android. Although the name suggests it could be an OS within an app (mind  boggling), it’s actually a concept device that brings a full desktop PC experience and functionality to the smartphone use. In short, it’s a smartphone that can be used as a full desktop PC.

Ubuntu for Android

The device will be demoed for the first time at Mobile World Congress next week. It’s the latest example of Canonical’s plan to bring Ubuntu to a wider range of devices, first announced by Mark Shuttleworth in October, and follows closely on the heels of the Ubuntu TV demo device shown at CES is January.

A device running Ubuntu for Android will enable users to access and manage their mobile data, contacts and apps as usual on a mobile device running the Android OS. However, plug the device into a docking (with access to a keyboard and monitor) and Ubuntu for Android launches a full fat desktop version of Ubuntu – complete with full desktop applications and interface.

Aside from consumer appeal, according to Canonical, the device offers handset manufacturers an opportunity to fully exploit the capabilities of the multi-core ARM processors that are increasingly commonplace in smartphones from a range of manufacturers using Android as the mobile OS of choice.

It’s early days, but Canonical is already well into discussions with hardware manufacturers about bringing a fully fledged version to market in the not too distant future.


Disclosure: My company, Racepoint, is Canonical’s PR consultancy.

Smart money on smartphones?

panasonic eluga

With less than a week to go before #mwc12 kicks off, both Fujitsu and Panasonic have played their hand and announced that they’re breaking out of the Japanese smartphone market to conquer Europe. It’s possible that both companies were emboldened by the record quarterly profits announced by Samsung last month, which were driven by its smartphones division, and Cisco’s recent projections that there will be 10bn handsets globally by 2016.

Android-based smartphones are clearly the product category to be in at the moment. HTC’s rise a few years ago and its subsequent decline in the face of Samsung’s dominance shows that, as technological development continues apace and people adapt to new interfaces, no one has really cornered the market just yet.

It’s worth keeping an eye on the margins though. Apple makes a 37.4% operating profit on its iPhone. In comparison, Samsung makes just 11% on its handsets. As volumes grow, it’s reasonable to expect component prices to fall. There is a danger that the companies that only make handsets will rapidly fall down the value chain and see their profits squeezed.

The situation may not be too dissimilar to that currently being witnessed in the market for TVs, where manufacturers are operating on slim margins and many are losing money. Still, that’s no reason not to make money while it’s there and, unlike 3D TVs, smartphone technology looks to be something consumers can’t get enough of at the moment.

IMAGE CREDIT [Panasonic]


New HTC Handsets at MWC

This is a guest post from Vicky Woollaston, staff writer on Web User magazine

Patent wars and falling sales had left mobile giant HTC behind the likes of Apple and Samsung – the company’s CEO, Peter Chou, even likened its rivals’ devices to ‘nuclear weapons’ – but  the Taiwanese firm is expected to come back fighting at this year’s Mobile World Congress with three new handsets.

The HTC One Series is set to comprise the HTC One V, the HTC One S and the HTC One X.


The smaller and less powerful of the trio, the HTC One V is also known as the HTC Primo.  It’s rumoured to have a 3.7 inch Super AMOLED screen, a dual-core 1Ghz processor, 512MB of RAM and a 5MP camera that records up to 720p video.  A dual-shutter on the camera will also let you take photos at the same time you’re recording video.

Like all the phones in the One Series, it’s expected to launch with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).


Rumours began about the HTC One S, which was previously leaked with the name HTC Ville, back in November. It’s slightly more powerful that the One V, running a dual-core, 1.5GHz processor and it’s slightly bigger, with a 4.3-inch. The camera is expected to be an 8MP version and will record full HD.


Also known as the HTC Endeavour, this is the handset causing the most excitement among HTC fans. It’s almost a given that the first quad-core smartphone will be shown off at this year’s event. So, HTC would miss a trick if one of its handsets didn’t follow suit.

The HTC One X is, therefore, expected to run the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip with the ARM Cortex A9. And it sounds like it’s going to need it, what with its 720p resolution display, an 8MP rear camera, a 1.3MP networking camera, Dropbox integration, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 plus Beats Audio software.

And on top of these, there’s also rumours about a fourth handset, although no details have been leaked as exactly what this will be.

At the end of HTC’s fourth quarter, its net income dropped 25 per cent – its first profit drop in two years. It currently sits in fourth place behind Nokia, which is popular in the sub-continent it seems.

Chou said at the announcement, HTC is going to slash the number of smartphones it releases this year, concentrating on giving its customers ‘something special’.

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Series and the iPhones, HTC’s One Series certainly makes the grade, in terms of features and performance, but it doesn’t offer a huge amount that is over and above what its rivals have now, or what they’re expecting to launch soon.

With the Samsung Galaxy SIII announcement delayed and the next big launch from Apple expected to be the iPad – both due in March – HTC may be able to gain some ground temporarily. But, at the moment it looks like it’s offering ‘something similar’, and not the ‘something special’ it would need to rise above.

Follow Vicky and Web User on Twitter: @vickywoollaston / @webusermagazine

Pingit! Your money just got mobile

Barclays is making headlines yet again… and, very deservedly, for launching Pingit – Europe’s first instant mobile money transfer service for UK current account customers.  Early adopters are clearly chuffed about the news, which should also be sweet music for small tradesman and students to collect and transfer money in 30 seconds.  The sceptics aren’t far behind:  Should you trust your mobile with your money?

As with every consumer technology, the success of Pingit lies with the consumer – if only other banks are quick to the punch.  Whether Barclays’ 11.9 million customers will be able to influence their non-Barclays friends and family to demand a similar service from their banking service providers, will be known in the days to come…

Barclays is clearly leading the charge in bringing innovative banking convenience to the consumer.  Barclays/Barclaycard is the undisputed leader in contactless payments, while other banks are still toying with the technology.  I remember when I first used a trial HSBC credit card with MasterCard PayPass technology two years ago at Pret A Manger to buy lunch… a perfect boy-toy moment.  A few months in I was sent a replacement card minus PayPass.  Haven’t seen anything from HSBC since.

2012 is being touted as the start of the ‘wave and pay’ revolution, with London 2012 set to be the first contactless Olympic Games.  Barcelona already has a widespread contactless payment infrastructure.  Will #MWC12 be the launch-bed of real-world mobile banking and contactless programmes for consumers?

[IMAGE CREDITS:  The Guardian, 16 February 2012 | Photograph: Ben Phillips/VisMedia]

[VIDEO CREDITS:  Barclays]


10 billion Smartphones by 2016

According to the global mobile data traffic forecast from Cisco, there will be more smartphones than humans by the end of 2012. If that’s not enough to raise your eyebrows, the report goes on to predict that there will be a staggering 10 billion smartphones by 2016.

Where is all the growth coming from? Cisco predicts that the growth will come as a result of smartphone uptake in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific as shown in the graph below.

What caught my attention was how data usage is set to evolve over the coming years, with two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic to come from videos. An interesting insight into how users across the globe will choose to use their mobile handsets and the type of data they will want to consume.

For a closer look at how these predictions is likely to affect the average consumer, check out this great mobile love story set in Paris, which shows how multiple devices will drive data traffic in 2016.


Who’s winning on the sub-continent?

I recently went to Delhi for a few days. On my way back to London, sitting in the departure lounge at Indira Gandhi International, I noticed a phone charging station and it got my attention for one reason.

docking station - delhi

Take a look at it on the left (sorry for the terrible photo – I was working with very harsh light). What do you notice?

What I noticed is that this docking station in the international airport of the capital city of a BRIC nation is sited in a place only accessed by wealthy Indians (i.e. those who can afford to fly) and foreign visitors, and that Blackberry and Nokia are the dominant brands. They’re the brands that take pride of place and have the most docking points.

Now, this is just a snapshot. The trends might favour Samsung and Apple. I don’t know. What I do know that there’s an Indian elite who still use Blackberrys and Nokias and they haven’t fallen out of love with them yet. This means phones like the Lumia (which I saw heavily advertised in Delhi’s upmarket shopping malls) aren’t perceived to belong to old fashioned brands.

For all the talk of Nokia’s decline and turmoil at RIM, I wouldn’t write off the incumbents just yet.


Windows 8 beta will be shown in Barcelona

So Microsoft’s beta announcement is a little behind Google’s, but will land at the same time as Mobile World Congress. As expected, ahead of the much awaited and debated OS release Microsoft has announced a ‘consumer preview’ of Windows 8 will be released in Barcelona on 29th February.

Details are, apparently, scarce at present – but journalists and bloggers have received invitations this morning to the event at the Hotel Miramar.

Windows 8 invite

Image from Cnet

This set the rumour mill a blaze instantly, with many news sites quoting those ever elusive ‘sources   familiar with the matter’. The Verge has reported a number of Metro apps, specifically designed for all those lovely touch devices in the world, will be included in the free to download beta:

  • Calendar
  • Camera
  • Mail
  • Messaging
  • Music
  • People
  • Photos
  • SkyDrive
  • Video

This may not be all of them, but it’s a likely looking list covering all the basic day-to-day PC operations you’d expect the beta to.

It’s interesting the event is taking place at the same times as MWC. This year’s CES was Microsoft’s last, so the move to a hotel just down the road could be a reflection of Microsoft’s move to launch products when they’re ready, rather than at industry shows. Or it could be MWC ran out of rooms. One of those.


Chrome launches in mobile beta ahead of MWC

When you’re right you’re right, when you’re wrong you’re wrong, and when you’re sort of both it’s a bit annoying.

As predicted last week, Google has launched a version of the Chrome web browser for mobile, following rumours late last year. It’s not clear if the full version will launch at Mobile World Congress, as this is only a beta. There you go, boom! as the narrator in the below video says.

A blog post on Google’s Chrome blog announced the launch, but didn’t confirm the new mobile browser will take the place of Android’s built-in browser. There’s one notable limitation, the beta only works on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) at present, which means a lot of Android users won’t be able to get hold of it just yet. Another shortcoming is the lack of support for third-party plug-ins – most notably Flash.

As you’d expect, search and simplicity are two of the big features inherited from Chrome’s desktop big brother. Search results apparently load “in the background as you type so pages appear instantly.”

The beta also nicks a little trick from Firefox’s mobile version, syncing with a PC’s version of Chrome. When a user signs in to their “personalized Chrome experience” (that’s overly-complex speak for their profile) they can view tabs left open on the desktop, and access synced bookmarks.

Link Preview allows users to zoom in on links, making them easier to tap, and an “incognito” mode allows for private browsing – you know, when you’re buying a Valentine’s Day gift before heading to Barcelona and you don’t want your other half to see, that sort of thing.

So will there be a full fat launch in time with Mobile World Congress? With less than three weeks to go it seems unlikely. Given the restriction to Android 4.0, there’ll probably be something of a bum rush at the Google stand.


Newsmakers @ MWC12

With just 21 days remaining before the who’s who of the mobile world gather in Barcelona, here’s a view of the planned press conferences and media events at #MWC12.  As is tradition, expect lots of new product launches – more Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices, higher resolutions (720p), dual-cores, Tegra…

If you know of more media events happening around #MWC12, then drop us a line and we’ll add to this list.


SUNDAY, 26 February 2012

1. Huawei
When: Sunday, 26 February 2012 at 15:30
What: Huawei to launch Diamond series high-end Android smartphones.

2. Sony
When: Sunday, 26 February 2012 at 18:00
What: What’s next? (expect: Sony ST25i Kumquat, Sony MT27i Pepper and Sony Nypon LT22i)
Invite image (source: Ubergizmo):

3. Nokia Siemens Networks
When: Sunday, 26 February 2012 at 19:00
Spokesperson: Rajeev Suri, CEO, Nokia Siemens Networks

4. HTC
When: Sunday, 26 February 2012 at 20:30
What: In 2011, HTC launched six new devices. At #MWC12 expect HTC’s first Tegra 3 powered HTC Endeavor/Supreme, the Qualcomm S4 powered HTC Ville, the mid-range HTC Primo, and even the HTC Radiant, which will be running on Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform.

MONDAY, 27 February 2012

1. Nokia
When: Monday, 27 February 2012 at 08:30
What: Not known. Rumours of a Lumia 910 announcement.

2. Ericsson
When: Monday, 27 February 2012 at 08:30
Spokesperson: Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson

When: Monday, 27 February 2012 at 11:00
Spokesperson: Jonney Shih, Chairman, ASUS
What: The Quad-Core Tablet / Smartphone ASUS Padfone is presented in detail. Incredibly Mobile. Endless Possibility.
Official invite:

TUESDAY, 28 February 2012

1. Jabra
When: Tuesday, 28 February 2012 at 10:00
What: Wonder if five-time Ironman World Champion, Craig “Crowie” Alexander will bring the sports line-up to #MWC12

2. NGMN Roundtable
When: Tuesday, 28 February 2012 at 14:00
Spokespersons: NGMN and network operators

3. Network Intelligence Alliance
When: Tuesday, 28 February 2012 at 19:00
Spokespersons: Erik Larsson, Chairman, NI Alliance and Antti Romppanen, Head of Packet Core Product Management, NSN


1. LG Electronics
When: TBC
What: Two devices anticipated for launch at MWC (X3 and CX2), running Android Ice Cream Sandwich with optimised resolutions. Two product numbers have recently appeared on the UPnP Forum (1) (2).

2. Research In Motion
When: TBC
What: Demonstration of BlackBerry OS 10

3. Samsung
When: TBC
What: Samsung confirmed that it will not launch the Galaxy SIII at MWC. Latest rumours suggest two new tablets (Samsung GT-P5100 and GT-P3100) Including a super-sized 11.6-inch model with a 2GHz dual-core, 2560 x 1600p resolution, and running the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.