Editorials

With Mobile You, the final week of Talk Mobile 2013 done, it's time for another survey, because we just love quantifiable data here. These surveys have helped us learn more about you and how you use your devices, as well as giving us the data to build awesome infographics for gaming and keyboards. Bringing together everything we from across all of Talk Mobile, Mobile You week was just full of awesome - from how to pick your device, what's best for you, what they can do for you, and how we truly make these devices our own.

So here is the Mobile You week survey - it's only a few dozen questions so it shouldn't take too long. Plus they're all multiple choice questions, and being a survey there's no "right" answer (so we better not catch you cheating off your neighbor). And because we love you, completing the survey will enter you for a chance to win a $100 Best Buy gift card. Bribery, incentive, cash-for-data, call it what you want, it's potentially gadget money you didn't have before, so that's cool, right?

Click here to take the Talk Mobile - Mobile You Survey!

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It really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but PlayStation 4 is beating down the Xbox One in consumer polling. Reuters asked 1,297 people how likely they were to purchase an Xbox One or PS4 – and the results for die hard Microsoft fans – are disappointing.

According to the poll, 26% of individuals reported that they are likely to purchase a PlayStation 4 from Sony; this is in contrast to the 15% of individuals who reported that they are likely to purchase an Xbox One from Microsoft.

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Yesterday, we reported on a collection of special holiday deals for consumers looking to pick up an Xbox 360 in India.

Today, the official Xbox 360 Holiday Value Bundles have been announced by Microsoft and are said to be available “around the world”. In addition purchasers in the United States will receive $50 off their purchase.

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Our interview with Microsoft Behavioral Scientist Matt Wallaert to set the record straight on the Bing versus Google controversy

Yesterday, we published an editorial questioning whether or not Microsoft’s “Bing It On” campaign and its claims are a sham or fair play.

Yale law professor, Ian Ayres, conducted a study with a collection of 1,000 people who were asked to take the “Bing It On” challenge and report their results. The outcome of Ayres’ experiment was nowhere near Microsoft’s claim that people prefer Bing 2 to 1 causing a media storm of accusations and negative press.

We spoke with Bing Behavioral Scientist, Matt Wallaert, to help clear up the situation.

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UPDATE: Please see our interview with Bing scientist, Matt Wallaert, here.

Recently, a law professor from Yale claimed that Microsoft’s famous “Bing It On” campaign is no more than a collection of lies. Ian Ayres, stated in Freakonomics that the company’s Bing ads are misleading and deceptive. To prove his point, Ayres set out on a “Bing It On” challenge using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk marketplace.

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Today it seems everywhere you turn in the financial media, there is a story about how Nokia’s chairman screwed up in disclosing information about Stephen Elop’s bonus package to the media. Some of the reporting on it is a bit wonky, so I thought I’d clear things up.

Long story short, Nokia’s chairman was initially quoted as saying Elop’s contract was essentially the same as that of the prior CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. When a Finnish newspaper, “Helsingin Sanomat”, dug into his employment contract, which is published to the SEC website, they discovered one important major difference. Elop stands to have his stock compensation vested in an accelerated manner should he resign following a change of control. The prior Finnish CEO didn’t have this clause. The difference amounts to about $25 million, according to various other folks who did the math (I didn’t, and I’m assuming their math is correct).

People love to complain about these things. A Forbes article even went so far as to say that Elop gets paid specifically because he managed to get the stock to go down, and then sharply up again on a takeover bid from Microsoft. The Forbes piece made it seem like this roller coaster action was a requirement to trigger the bonus.

That’s not true. Here’s what is true:

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We've closed out mobile creativity week of Talk Mobile, so it's survey time! Yep, another Talk Mobile week, another Talk Mobile survey, and another chance to win some money in exchange for giving us some quantifiable data! Mobile creativity week touched on photography, videography, mobile business, and more, and it was just great.

So, without further ado, here's the mobile creativity week survey - it's not too long, tackling photos and video and business and the like. And it's multiple choice, so don't feel like you have to study or cheat or anything. And as a bit of incentive, completing the survey enters you for a chance to win a $100 gift card from Best Buy. Sounds like a good deal, eh?

Click here to take the Talk Mobile State of Mobile Creativity Survey!

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When it comes to reviews or opinion pieces, especially for gadgets, there’s some "science" involved but a lot of it comes down to the critic's biases. The notion that a journalist is impartial is derisory, though many still feign the notion that it exists. Just like how history can’t be objective since what the historian deems important (and not important) drives the narrative, the same applies to tech articles explaining devices and giving opinions.

At Windows Phone Central, we write from the perspective of people who are already on board with the Microsoft’s mobile OS—it’s more about the hardware and how it compares to other Windows Phones. That’s our audience. Are we biased? Of course, but at least you know where we’re coming from—we’re not pretending otherwise.  

That’s what makes CNET’s latest video so frustrating. We don’t have a problem with people finding faults with the Lumia 1020, or even not preferring it. This is the predisposition thing rearing its head and if you like Android or iOS more than Windows Phone, then it will drive your opinion. But distorting facts or just getting things plain wrong is inexcusable.

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With carrier week of Talk Mobile done, it's time for another survey, because darnit, we love numbers here. The survey will let us pull together the numbers to put together more awesome infographics like the ones we've done for gaming and keyboards. Carriers week was full of awesome, including lots of sage and common sense advice on how to make the carriers into organizations that don't come across as so consumer-hostile.

So here is the carriers week survey - it's a few dozen questions so it shouldn't take too long. They're all multiple choice, and there's no right answer to any of them, so we don't want you to feel like you should be stressing out on whether or not you're going to pass. To sweeten the pot a bit, we're also throwing in a $100 Best Buy gift card to one lucky survey-taker. We've got your attention now, eh?

Click here to take the Talk Mobile State of Mobile Carriers Survey!

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As if 2013 could not have been a more pivotal year for Microsoft and Windows Phone, news tonight coming from Bloomberg claims that Redmond is still considering buying out BlackBerry.

BlackBerry has publicly revealed that they are seeking “strategic alternatives” for the company, including a merger or selling off the entire company (or pieces of it). In and of itself, that is big news although BlackBerry did do the same in 2012 and nothing came of it. Could this round be any different? Perhaps, as their new operating system, BB10, is not exactly setting the mobile world afire.

Microsoft has always been rumored to be interested in BlackBerry, but they are perhaps waiting for the right time. That may include waiting for Waterloo to shed some of its 17,000 employees and become a leaner purchase, or for BlackBerry to become cheaper and more desperate.  

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Despite the weakness in Microsoft’s stock price today (it’s down about 5%), I think their decision to buy Nokia’s hardware and services business is absolutely the right move. And it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise. When Stephen Elop made the gutsy decision to kill Symbian and bet entirely on Windows Phone, most people correctly had a strong sense that this would eventually happen. 

But Wall Street isn’t too excited at the notion of Microsoft spending over $7 billion in cash to double down on its smartphone bet. And that’s understandable. It’s a lot of money for a potential failed deal. I think it probably will end up being successful for Microsoft. They’ve already climbed up to the #3 position in the smartphone market, having overtaken BlackBerry. If they can achieve this while having to balance the growth objectives of two separate companies, then I think it should only get easier for them as a combined entity.

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Heading into the last quarter in 2013, it is becoming increasingly clear that Windows Phone is now solidifying itself as the third alternative for smartphones (see the latest IDC report). While sales are still miles behind iOS and Android, Windows Phone as a platform is finally being treated more equally by retailers and consumers.

Part of that apparent victory, in typical Microsoft fashion, is due to missteps by Redmond’s competitors. Years ago, BlackBerry (then called RIM) basically owned the enterprise market. Fast forward to 2013 and with BlackBerry 10 on the market with a handful of new devices, it’s becoming clear that it’s just not enough to regain that momentum.

The site IT Wire has performed some store-checks for the new BlackBerry Q10 and Z10—two devices we actually own and occasionally use ourselves. The site tried to get a statement from Australia’s telco’s Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone but received no comment about those BlackBerry sales. Not hindered, IT Wire then spoke with Harvey Norman, Optus and Telstra franchises for their opinions on BlackBerry’s prospects.

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Last week we revealed that Gameloft, one of the largest mobile game publishers in the world would be bringing 15 new games to both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. Since then, a scrappy little site has reported that “future [Gameloft] Windows Phone titles will be released day and date with iOS and Android ones.” Release date parity is something that Windows Phone gamers have long clamored for.

Well, I hate to take the wind out of anyone’s sails, but Gameloft has informed us that the “day and date” story is definitely incorrect. Read Gameloft’s official quote and our detailed analysis after the break!

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Microsoft has been facing a slew of battles with the announcement of its latest Xbox One console. The launch event was riddled with DRM woes, a required Kinect accessory and a higher price tag that Sony’s PlayStation 4. The company has backtracked on its original DRM mission, making players more comfortable with the idea of purchasing games for the unit, but questions about the Kinect sensor still remain.

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If there is one controversial area in regards to the stellar Nokia Lumia 1020, it would be its price. In the face of deals elsewhere like on Amazon.com, the $299 contract price is traditionally higher than most flagship devices in 2013. At least that’s the perception, even if erroneous. It’s a bit dishonest when tech sites focus on that subject since the AT&T 32GB iPhone 5 sells for the same $299 (and the 32GB Galaxy S4 runs for $249).

Last we checked, neither come with a groundbreaking 41MP camera.

Some could argue that the Lumia 1020 has no right to command the same price as the iPhone 5, but that seems a little pretentious for our tastes. Still, there’s a feeling in the air that the Lumia 1020 is not selling well or making much of an impact.

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We've wrapped up cloud week of Talk Mobile, and it's time to get the kind of stuff that the cloud lives for: numbers. As with previous weeks of Talk Mobile, we're running a survey so we can put together some of that data that we and the cloud simply adore. Week six of Talk Mobile 2013 was all about the cloud, how we use it, how it's scary, and our forecasts for the future of the cloud.

Here's the survey. It's a few dozen questions and shouldn't take more than a few minutes of your time. And because we know your time is just as if not more valuable than ours, here's an incentive: completing the survey enters you for a chance to win a $100 Best Buy gift card. Incentive? Bribery? A chance for $100 to spend on new gadgets? Your call, your answers. Hit the link below to take the survey!

Click here to take the Talk Mobile State of Mobile Clouds Survey!

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So far the Nokia Lumia 520 has been a sleeper hit. It’s the cheapest Windows Phone to date and it is constantly topping charts for in emerging markets. It seems we hear stories weekly on how the device is selling well in market after market. Here in the United States it’s available for AT&T as a GoPhone and T-Mobile sells a variant called the Lumia 521.

So how’s it going to fare against further attacks in the low-end smartphone market against competitors like Samsung and Apple?

Over at Forbes, Tero Kuittinen outlines a brinkmanship scenario where Nokia comes out on top. Don’t worry, I wasn’t familiar with the term either. Brinkmanship is the situation where you push dangerous events to the verge of disaster in the hopes that your opponents will have to make concessions and/or back down. In this case, Nokia is in a position to own the low-end smartphone market because companies like HTC, Blackberry, and Apple won’t be able to make appealing devices at low prices.

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HTC is in trouble. There’s little disagreement from industry experts on this as the firm is under fire from Samsung (with Android) and Nokia (with Windows Phone), squeezing the manufacturer from both sides.

In fact, a recent IDC report exposed how far HTC has fallen dropping from 8.2% of the Windows Phone market in 2012 to just 4.6% in 2013. That’s after the critically acclaimed HTC 8X and 8S were made available. Today, Samsung is now the number two vendor on Windows Phone with nearly 12% and one million shipments. You read that right.

In a vaguely worded article from DigiTimes this morning, it cites “industry sources” as noting that HTC is “drifting away” from Windows Phone, instead focusing on Android where they recently dropped out of the top five vendor ranking.

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Some good news today for Windows Phone as the latest numbers, based on device shipments from earlier this year, have revealed a steady increase for the third place operating system.

According to the IDC’s latest numbers, Windows Phone has seen a surge of 77% year over year for device shipments (8.7M in 2013 versus 4.9M for 2012). With those numbers, Windows Phone has increased from 3.1% market share to a modest 3.7%. While iOS and Android still dominate with 13.2% and 79.3% market share respectively, Windows Phone maintains the largest year over year increase.

This is the second report from the IDC this year that has shown strong YoY growth for Windows Phone and the second report from the IDC to claim its third place ranking, globally. However, while that 77% year over year change is impressive, it is down from the 150% year over year growth measuring back in February. Some of that though can probably be attributed to a downswing in general sales of technology as the global economy continues to stagnate.

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One area where it’s always difficult to please your audience is in regards to technology. Between hardware and software advancements you have a public who not only yearns but demands frequent updates for their devices. Some of it is rational and some of it resembles the tantrums of children. But somewhere in between, there is the truth.

Microsoft is in a precarious situation with Windows Phone as they have a lot of so-called 'chicken versus egg' problems to solve. For instance, they need more mainstream apps. But in order to get more apps, they have to have enough devices in user’s hands to convince developers to get on board with Windows Phone. But how can you convince people to buy your phone if you don’t have the apps (either real or perceived)?

With Windows Phone 8 build 10327 (GDR2), Microsoft is pushing out their second minor update for their new operating system this year (the first was GDR1 aka Portico). The concern for a lot of current users is GDR2 doesn’t really bring much to the table in terms of new features. Sure FM radio and an improved Xbox Music library are nice to have, but it’s far from the dozens of features people are demanding on Microsoft’s UserVoice forum.

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