Microsoft offering minimum $200 trade in for your iPhone towards cost of a new Windows Phone

iphone trade in windows phone microsoftCan’t fault them for trying.

Similar to their iPad trade in, if you’re carrying an iPhone, but you’re really curious to see how the other side lives, Microsoft is offering a minimum trade in of $200 for your “gently used” iPhone 4S or newer handset. Those folks I saw at Social Media Week rocking smashed iPhones need not apply (but seriously, how do people use phones like that without slicing their thumbs open).

While this promotional offer is  surely convenient, you’re apt to do better on the open market. The iPhone 4S is currently selling for around $250 on ebay, and if you throw in those accessories you don’t need anymore, like cases and old dock connector cables, some are even hitting $300.

Still, if this is your jam, the offer is good until November 3rd.

Microsoft iPhone Trade In Offer

Windows Phone hitting double digit market share in Europe

nokia lumia 920 windows phone 8 smartphone homescreen live tiles somegadgetguyI keep telling you people, the actual gadget matters less than the ecosystem of customers+hardware+software+accessories. You can’t fake that. Customers will not be impressed by one new handset no matter how good it is. Every manufacturer wants to jump into this market and sell as well as the iPhone does. It’ll never happen, and people forget that the iPhone didn’t just waltz into the smartphone market without some teething pains. Anymore, a company needs to show us at least three years of steady growth, refinement, and support before they’ll start to crack into consumer awareness.

Well wouldn’t you know it, Microsoft is getting to that three year point, and I’m starting to see the occasional Windows Phone out in the wild. Here stateside, MS is a distant third place competitor growing to only around 3% of the smartphone market, stealing the third spot from Blackberry. Recently announced by analysts at Kantar World Panel however, Windows Phone is cracking into double digit share in Europe. WP is within one percent of the iPhone in Germany, makes up 10% of the French market, and stands at 12% in Great Britain. Averaging the five largest European markets Windows Phone is currently at 9%.

The Nokia brand still counts for a lot in those markets, especially the blend of unique design and bleeding edge camera technology. Unfortunately Nokia somewhat abandoned us here in the States, so they’re pretty much rebuilding their consumer base from scratch. We do get to see some very general trends though, and from my anecdotal experiences, the push into entry level devices is serving Nokia very well. Doesn’t hurt that outlets like CNET can’t figure out the difference between a phone which costs $100 out the door, and a phone which costs $100 on contract. Surprisingly, Nokia’s 520 does a remarkably good job of competing against phones which cost four times as much.

Plus with a two faction war between Apple and Samsung, those consumers who want something a little different only have Microsoft to turn to. Never underestimate someone’s desire to go a little hipster. We live in an age where new smartphone consumers will know Apple like people from my generation saw Microsoft.

Read the full write up at Kantar World Panel.

(Video) Looking back at the Jawbone Jambox – Review and Audio Quality Test

jawbone jambox bluetooth wireless speaker audio quality test somegadgetguyMoving forward, I’ll be testing more accessories like I do smartphones.

You can find a collection of videos where I test the speakers on phones for example, using the same audio and video clips, so you can see and hear the differences between different phones. Bluetooth speakers are becoming very popular, and now I’ll be building that same audio test into my reviews. Starting with a speaker which really helped to popularize wireless audio, the OG Jawbone Jambox.

Coming soon, reviews on the HMDX Jam and Nokia Play360
Shop for the Jambox on Amazon.

Steam Unveils radical new Game Controller design for Steam Machine and OS

steam controller game pad steamos somegadgetguyHow crazy does this thing look?

Unveiled today, this is one of the major announcements coming our of Steam as they make a push to compete in the living room arena currently occupied by game consoles. Following the reveal on SteamOS and Steam Machine program, now we know how you’ll control and interact with your games from the couch.

This owl-like pad features two clickable high-resolution touch sensors in lieu of traditional analog joysticks. Traditional triggers and buttons flank the sensors, and new haptic feedback sensors should improve upon the current force rumble we’re used to today. Valve claims that this setup should be more sensitive and accurate than current controller tech, and should close some of the gap between controller gamers and the advantage that Mouse+Keyboard gamers enjoy.

A screen in the middle of the controller feeds info to the player, and the entire surface is one large button. Instead of a touchscreen which could be accidentally brushed by the player, to engage with single functions, the entire surface requires enough force to click it.

Lastly, Valve is touting a high degree of compatibility and  hackability. It’s currently compatible with any version of Steam, and will obviously work with SteamOS and Steam Machine products released in the future. A new set of APIs will be made available to developers once the controller leaves BETA. Plus Valve will make select tools available to consumers allowing them to participate in hardware hacking and design.

The design is already proving somewhat controversial in discussion online. I’ll be curious to try it out as I feel dual analog sticks slow me down (WASD FOR LYFE!), so if Valve as found the trick to smooth out that experience then sign me up!

(via Steam)

Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine buy Beats Audio back from HTC

dr dre jimmy iovine billboard beats audio

What we do know, is Dr. Dre and Mr. Iovine are looking to seriously expand the reach of the Beats brand to include more pro gear, speaker systems, in-car audio, and more consumer electronics. Maybe we could see Beats branding on other phones, tablets, and tech like we did back during their HP partnership.

What we don’t know, is why the pair of producers parted ways with HTC. We can speculate that the Beats brand is becoming a vanguard for a new crop of consumer designer audio, developing consumer mind share that rivals companies like Bose. Unfortunately HTC hasn’t been able to boost its own image in the world of smartphones. While delivering critically acclaimed handsets, they still haven’t cracked the consumer nut yet, with sales of their flagship and mid-range phone lagging.

HTC announced the sale should be finished by end of year, and that Beats will still be a valued partner, but we don’t know what this new relationship will resemble. While Beats is a popular brand, HTC has partnered with other audio companies in the past, like Dolby for the HTC Surround.

(via, pic via Billboard)

Google celebrates 15th Birthday with Piñata Doodle game and new Hummingbird Search Algorithm

google 15 birthday doodle pinata search hummingbirdHappy Birthday Google! Why didn’t I get a B-Day reminder on G+?

The present to open is an entirely new Search algorithm dubbed “Hummingbird”. This is a complete departure from their previous search updates. Instead of focusing on keywords and meta-data, the things SEO gurus always push, Hummingbird is Google’s first attempt at semantic search. Good SEO will still matter, but good content will matter more.

It’s an ambitious undertaking as computers aren’t always great at judging what we mean by what we say, but ranking content by what its made up of, instead of its keywords, should mean that organic search terms should provide more meaningful results. Users should get better hits now simply by asking the questions they would ask other people. Real live humans don’t like having to parse terms. Now typing “Where can I find the best pie in San Francisco?” should get us closer to eating good pie than before where keywords would’ve been pulled out of that query.  Hopefully in execution it should start to resemble the way IBM’s Watson is able to make meaningful responses to conversationally asked questions.

Get the full scoop at Inside Search, or hit up to try it out, and while you’re there play the Piñata Doodle Game! BIRTHDAY!

New York State converts “Rest Areas” into “Texting Zones” – #ItCanWait

bbabf52b-0b5a-40ae-b99f-1bac04c00162_9898528395_03f2fc134a_oIt’s nothing more than a change of branding, but it helps get the word out.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that the state will be placing some 300 signs on highways and roads directing motorists to “Texting Zones”. These 91 zones around the state are already established Rest Areas, where drivers have pulled over for years now. For those who might not have considered the possibility, any place you can pull over and stretch your legs, would also make for a good spot to use your smartphone.

Even though New York has laws on the books against texting while driving, the state saw a 365 percent increase in citations this year over the same period of time in 2012. Making something illegal isn’t always enough to get someone to change their behavior. We have to make a behavior socially unacceptable, and New York’s Texting Zones should help raise a little awareness.

People don’t seem to be impressed by the statistics regarding distracted driving, and we here in LA see some despicable behavior during our commutes, so the more we can do to curb this behavior the better.

(via Elizabeth Harris on FB, via Yahoo)

Do we need mid-range phones anymore?


Nailing pricing in the mobile industry is a delicate and necessary balance. We accept $50 tiers separating the highest of high-end premier phones all the way down to the cheapest off contract entry level affair. Where a phone lands on that spectrum can make or break a device. Premier phones typically make sense. You put the most cutting edge gear into a slab and we expect it’ll be around $200 on a two year contract. Ditto the low end, slide in well known low power hardware and a price between $100 and $200 off contract can be compelling. The mid-range is a lot trickier. Which leads me to wonder, do we even need mid-range phones anymore?

It’s around that $100 on contract price point we start really running into issues. Purpose building a phone for that price point is becoming an increasingly dicey proposition. Manufacturers can still make a nice device at that price, usually with very few compromises, but you still need to ask your consumers to accept a “lower end” experience while paying more than the entry level kit. Often those compromises involve less storage, lower resolution screens, and reduced processing power. All those things which make using a phone nicer.

htc one mini synthetic benchmarks somegadgetguy video reviewAlso there’s a certain cachet to using a premier phone. Geek is chic. It’s fashionable, and we recognize the difference between Galaxies and iPhones like we do the difference Audi and BMW.

Outside those image concerns, we also have a timing problem. Tech devalues fast. If you need to exist at the bleeding edge, you pay a tax not unlike buying a new car. If you can wait a month or three, what was once a premier expensive handset can usually be purchased at a mid-range price. For example, at $100 on a two year contract you can get a perfectly acceptable HTC One Mini. Not a bad buy by any means. I’m really enjoying it. However, for that same $100 on contract you could also get an LG Optimus G Pro phablet. I just sat through a commercial offering a promotional deal for the Galaxy S4 for the same price too. Is the HTC One Mini as “good” as the GS4? Probably not.

We also see around a two year lifespan for phones. Apple popularized this with the iPhone. When a new iPhone is released the current iPhone drops in price. At carriers you can often find phones like the Galaxy S3 still kicking around. The GS3 still gives phones like the HTC One Mini a run for its money in terms of specs and it’ll carry more of that fashion statement. To continue a bad metaphor, people will be more impressed by last year’s Lexus than this year’s Toyota.

iPhone5c_34L_AllColors_PRINTLastly, manufacturers could save a little money by purposely pushing older premier phones into the mid-range. Releasing a phone comes with its own unique design, quality assurance, and support issues. Bug fixes, software updates, warranty issues, a company goes through that once for their top of the line gear, then they could purposely ride that investment for several years after. It would also be a boon to third party accessory manufacturers, knowing that their R&D will have a longer tail to recoup. That can only improve a company’s ecosystem when customers know they can count on accessories, replacement parts, and service for a while after they purchase, even if they purchase late.

I’m usually the first person to celebrate more choices and options, but right now we’re in an era where even successful companies are trying to manage consumer and stock holder expectations against risk. Unless I’m missing something glaring (and please point it out in a comment if I am) releasing a phone into the mid-range seems like the riskiest move a company can make…