June 26, 2009

Huge weekend for new iPhone; Jobs returns to storm of controversy

The lines for the new iPhone may not have been as long as they were for last year's model, but the weekend tally for the 3GS -- more than million sold, according to Apple -- was no less impressive than the initial three-day total for the iPhone 3G, and easily dwarfed the estimated 50,ooo-odd Palm Pres sold during its June 6 opening weekend. (Sounds like we're talking about summer movie grosses, right?) As I suspected, it looks like the majority of iPhone 3GS shoppers elected to pre-order rather than wait in line at brick-and-mortar Apple and AT&T stores. That said, Apple's weekend wasn't without its glitches; many customers (myself included) complained of activation woes, and Apple ended up handing out $30 store credits to make up for the trouble.

Meanwhile: Steve Jobs was reportedly back in the office this week, but he caught all kinds of flack after his liver transplant was revealed, raising questions of whether he jumped the transplant queue and why shareholders weren't told of his (apparently life-threatening) condition.

Also this week: I finally got some hands-on time with the PSP Go; the online fashion experts at Trunk Club give my closet a much-needed makeover; the first iPhone porn app appears, then gets yanked; HTC makes a splash with its new, Android-powered Hero smartphone; and I chronicle my month with the diminutive HP Mini netbook from Verizon Wireless.

June 19, 2009

The new iPhone's here! The new iPhone's here!

Well, it's not in my hot little hands, unfortunately (I'm still waiting for the FedEx truck to arrive), but the iPhone 3G S -- now with an auto-focus, 3-megapixel camera, digital compass, voice commands, and up to 32GB of storage -- went on sale around the world this morning. According to the latest reports, the lines weren't nearly as long (or chaotic) as last time, and the activation process seems to be going smoothly. Despite the modest crowds, some are saying that the iPhone 3G S launch might actually be bigger than the 3G's last year. Why? Many, many pre-orders, apparently. Update: Finally got my iPhone 3G S from FedEx; check out my hands-on impressions.

Also this week: Attorneys for AT&T and Verizon Wireless went to Capitol Hill to defend their clients against charges of SMS price fixing; the IRS did an about-face, admitting that a 1989 law calling for taxes on the personal use of company cell phones is seriously out of date; the last two Virgin Megastores, already picked clean by bargain hunters, closed their doors; and last week's DTV transition appears to have gone about as smoothly as can be expected.

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June 05, 2009

E3: Microsoft wows with "Natal," Sony delivers PSP Go

This year's E3 conference in Los Angeles turned out to be a blockbuster, starting with a jam-packed Microsoft keynote that featured not only trailers for several hotly-anticipated games (like "Halo: ODST," the newly-unveiled "Halo: Reach," "Left 4 Dead 2," "Modern Warfare 2," and "Final Fantasy XIII," not to mention the news that Metal Gear Solid is coming to the 360), but also word that Facebook, Twitter, and streaming 1080p movies and TV shows are on the way, plus the unveiling of "Project Natal," a motion-sensing camera that'll let you frag bad guys, swipe though Dashboard menus, swat bouncing Brickout balls, and more, all without a controller. Pretty awesome.

Also impressive: Sony, which finally confirmed the widely leaked PSP Go (small and slick, but pricey at $249), along with its own new motion controller (set for release next spring). Sony's motion-control demo wasn't nearly as flashy as Microsoft's Natal demonstration, but those present in the audience appeared bowled over by the level of precision in the bulb-shaped, LED-equipped controller, which managed to map such virtual objects as a sword, flashlight, tennis racket, and even a Japanese fan into the hand of a Sony engineer, all with pinpoint accuracy. Sony also scored the biggest surprise of the show: The unceremonious announcement of "Final Fantasy XIV" for 2010 on the PS3, which left a few hundred jaws hanging open (especially given that "Final Fantasy XIII" hasn't even bowed in the U.S. yet).

In other news: Apple gears up for next week's WWDC in San Francisco (I smell new iPhones in our future); an online personal shopping service for men (like me) who hate, hate, hate shopping for clothes opens for business; a News Corp. exec floats the idea of charging for Hulu videos (now that'll be popular); and a new study reveals that just 10 percent of Twitterers account for 90 percent of the activity on Twitter.
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