Samsung confirms pricing of Gear 2 and Gear Fit as it creates video boasting design skills

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Photo: thestar.com.my

Samsung has finally confirmed pricing for the Tizen-based Galaxy Gear 2 and Gear Fit smartwatches, though still no word on pricing for the camera-less Gear 2 Neo. The Gear 2 comes in at almost the same price as the original (and widely panned) Gear at $295, while the Gear Fit can be yours for $197 when both devices go on sale next month.

Samsung made SDKs available for the Gear 2 watches a few days ago in the hope that third-party apps will be available by the time the devices go on sale …  Read more

Google abandons plans for new data center in Hong Kong due to lack of land


Google’s proposed data center (red icon) location in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate in Kowloon, next to a golf course.

News that Google was building new data centers in Hong Kong have circulated since the beginning of the year. Google has, however, now decided to cancel the project in Hong Kong. The company blames real estate acquisition issues as the reason for the decision. It isn’t immediately apparent if Google’s contentious relationship with the Chinese Government is to blame or if Honk Kong’s operation costs were at issue. It was reported in September 2011 that Google had already acquired  2.7 hectares of land n the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate in Kowloon which was expected to employ 25 full-time Googlers by this year…

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HTC announces Butterfly S with 5-inch display, UltraPixel camera

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HTC this morning announced the Butterfly S, the successor the the Butterfly flagship that launched in the fall of 2012. The device carries many of the same traits as the HTC One, however. It is packing the same 4MP UltraPixel sensor as the One, but has a slightly larger Super LCD 3 5-inch display with a 1080p resolution. It’s using the same front-facing Boom Sound speakers as the One that were praised so highly. The device is powered by a 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a microSD card, and a rather large 3200mAh battery.

The Butterfly S was announced at a localized event in Taiwan (via Engadget), so U.S. availability still remains up in the air. In the local market, the device will sell for NT $22,900, which is about $765 USD, and be available sometime in July. Assuming Verizon at some point releases its One variant, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Butterfly S come to Big Red as a successor to the DROID DNA.  Read more

New Google data centers to bring 30 percent speed increase to areas worldwide

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According to a report from the Economic Times, new data centers in Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are set to bring more speed to Google’s services for many areas. Construction on these data center sites began in 2011 at the sum of $300 million, and, according to today’s report, they are pegged to bring a 30 percent speed increase to Google services for neighboring regions. The Singapore facility is expected to go up in the next few months, while the Taiwan is pegged for the second half. No timetable has been given on the Hong Kong facility.

As an Internet-relying company, one big focus area for Google is speed. The new data centers are going to hopefully bring more speed to areas that normally aren’t as fast. Lalitesh Katragadda, head of product at Google India, explained: “Internet connectivity speed in India is not very high. These data centres will be crucial to this market due to its proximity.” Outside of Asia, Google has seven other data centers across the world. Several are in the U.S., with one each in Finland, Belgium, and Ireland as well. [Economic Times via TNW]

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No Ice Cream Sandwich for Nexus One, says Google. Nexus S owners will get it “within weeks”

Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system meant for both smartphones and tablets, will support the previous-generation Nexus S smartphone in addition to the forthcoming Galaxy Nexus device manufactured by Samsung for Google, the search giant confirmed. However, owners of the original Nexus One smartphone, which had been manufactured by Taiwan’s HTC Corporation as Google’s showcase Android phone in January 2010, will be left out in the cold because that device is not powerful enough to run the latest Android software, The Telegraph reported today.

Google’s Hugo Barra told the paper that Ice Cream Sandwich will drop as a free software update for the existing Nexus S handset “within weeks”, shortly after the latest Galaxy Nexus device lands on store shelves in November. Realistically, there are some limits as to which software can perform well in a satisfactory manner on older devices. MG Siegler pointed out that the iPhone 3GS is seven months older than the Nexus One and yet it runs the iOS 5 software. However, it should be points out that Apple is routinely leaving out older-generation devices with its mobile operating system revisions.

iOS 5, the latest version Apple released for public consumption earlier this month, does not run at all on the original iPhone or iPhone 3G. Even though it does run on iOS 5, it should be noted that some high-end features are not supported on that handset because the hardware is just not up to the task. Apple also intentionally limits some software features to the latest hardware for marketing purposes. Search assistant Siri, for example, is an iPhone 4S exclusive.

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HTC zooms past Acer and Asus to become Taiwan’s leading tech brand

Quite an accomplishment, but not unexpected given HTC’s popularity on its home turf. According to Taiwan Economic News, Taiwan’s External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and the Bureau of Foreign Trade named handset maker HTC the country’s leading technology brand, surpassing even computer maker Acer.

In just twelve months, the HTC brand gained $2.23 billion in value and is now worth an estimated $3.6 billion. Acer and Asus trail behind HTC with their respective brands valued at $1.94 billion and $1.36 billion. Here’s how their CEO  Peter Chou commented the accolade:

You have to make an investment, spend time, and stay patient. Even if we failed, the process would help to produce positive results for Taiwan. We are not content with our current achievements, but will work harder to better compete globally, especially at this time of increasingly intense global competition.

HTC yesterday issued unaudited quarterly earnings, with revenues and net income up in the third quarter 80 and 68 percent, respectively. The company is shooting for shipments of 13.5 million smartphone units during the second half of this year. HTC is ranked the fourth smartphone maker globally. In the June quarter, they were the leading Android vendor and the second-best smartphone maker in the United States.

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Android achieves Windows-type monopoly in Taiwan as HTC overtakes Nokia in sales volume and value

Android is the dominant smartphone platform pretty much everywhere, but nowhere is Google’s lead more evident than in Taiwan, the country traditionally on the bleeding edge of technology. According to the Asian trade publication DigiTimes which cited the latest data from IDC, the 990,00 smartphones accounted for half the 1.97 million cell phones shipped in Taiwan during the second quarter of this year.

Taiwan will probably become the first country where all phones will eventually become smartphones as shipments of feature phones dropped 17 percent sequentially and 32 percent annually: As for Android:

Android-based smartphones accounted for over 70% of all smartphones sold in Taiwan in the second quarter, followed by iOS and Symbian models, the data showed.

Mind you, this isn’t the Android-iOS monopoly any more, this is a Windows-type monopoly and it’s unfolding in Taiwan before our very eyes. Makes you wonder if that’s a sign of things to come elsewhere in the world. The gap between Android and iOS in Taiwan is unheard-of. And with just 30 percent of smartphones divided between iOS and Symbian, Apple’s platform is likely far behind Android in Taiwan. Of course…

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