Newton could have been Apple's first smartphone

03 Jan 2013


Qualcomm chief executive Paul Jacobs pitched the idea of putting a cellular chip into Apple's imfamous PDA the Newton, according to a report by the Verge.

Jacobs claimed he tried convincing Apple to turn the Newton into a full blown smartphone. The disclosure is said to be part of an upcoming interview between Rose and the Qualcomm executive.

Apple shot down the idea but Jacobs eventually found a willing partner in Palm. Qualcomm used Palm's PDA OS to turn out the worlds first smartphone in 1999.

Qualcomm's PDQ ended up failing to garner much love. The PDA suffered from a bulky design and hefty price tag. However, Qualcomm's smartphone eventually ended up giving way to the likes of the iPhone a few years later.

The iPhone's fortune was most likely due to timing. In the mid-1990s the technology for a smartphone just wasn't available. It would take a few years before even the infrastructure for truly wireless data would come into existence.

But Jacobs's news is a good reminder that the iPhone development team wasn't working from a blank canvas. Steve Jobs and friends were not the only ones thinking up ways to create truly mobile communications.

The iPhone may not have even existed if it wasn't for the likes of the Newton and PDQ. You could even say the PalmPilot gave Apple some food for thought when making its line of iDevices.

Manufacturing woes limit Nexus 4 sales to meagre 400,000

03 Jan 2013

Google LG Nexus 4 with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

It's easy to be cynical about sold out smartphones in these days of cutthroat competition – when a mobile maker wants to make their device look popular, it can simply limit supply.

Google, however, hasn't had to resort to such sleight of hand to sell out of its flagship Nexus 4. More gallingly it simply can't get enough of the handsets from manufacturing partner LG to meet demand. 

But until now, it was difficult to estimate what level of demand would give Google such a headache. But now, thanks to a bunch of Android enthusiasts, the picture of how many Nexus 4s have been shifted is becoming clear. According to these estimates, Google has only managed to sell a paltry 390,000 units. To give that a little perspective, Apple sold five million iPhone 5s in its opening weekend sales.

The 390,000 figure was arrived at by members of the XDA Developers forum when the sharp-eyed Android fans there figured out the key to the serial codes on their devices. 

Phone makers typically use International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers to identify individual handsets. As it happens, LG also provides links that helps users that know their IMEI number find new firmware.

The users at XDA Developers realised that if they could use that link to identify a production number for their handset, and set about gathering data on the latest number they could find. Currently, that appears to be around the 390,000 mark.

This is perhaps not a foolproof method of tracking smartphone shipments, but it seems about as sound as any other method for estimating.

However, if it's anything like a ballpark figure, you can bet Android execs at Google are spitting chips: Samsung sold 20 million Galaxy S3 handsets in its first 100 days; the Nexus 4 may have accrued a mere two percent of those sales.

Google's Eric Schmidt planning trip to North Korea

03 Jan 2013

Eric Schmidt will head to North Korea on a personal humanitarian trip, according to the Associated Press.

Schmidt's trip doesn't look to be about Google business. After all, North Korea barely has an internet service. Instead Schmidt looks to be going on the trip in an effort to spread the internet to the oppressed nation.

According to the Associated Press, Schmidt is a major proponent of extending internet freedoms in oppressed countries. He even has a book on the subject set to drop later this year.

Schmidt's mission, however, doesn't look to be an easy task. North Korea is currently struggling to get its people out of mass poverty.

As it currently stands, only the wealthier North Koreans can get any access to the web. Many in North Korea struggle to meet basic human needs, and few have the necessary infrastructure to get online.

During a speech for the New Year the Korean leader Kim Jong Un re-emphasised the importance of stimulating the country's struggling economy. He failed to mention any possibility of increasing the use of the internet to citizens.

Whether Schmidt is able to turn that around is yet to be seen. However, Schmidt will be Google's first executive to ever go into North Korea and his trip could mean an opening of dialogue between the search giant and the impoverished country.

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