An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
This morning, at 11:11am, I'm going to smile to myself about a long-running inside joke that will mean little to you. But I've always had this thing about 11:11, the time, and about how 11:11pm really isn't the same thing because it's really 23:11. At 11:11 almost every day, I walk by the bottom of the stairs and say "11:11" out loud to my wife. Sometimes I do this when she's not home—which makes this a little weird, I know. But it's a tradition. And I do it at night, to which she will respond, "No, it's not." Anyway, like I said, it won't make much sense to you, and I know I can't explain it properly. But it's 11-11-11 today. And that is very cool. Way cooler than 10-10-10. Way cooler.
Latest Excuse for the PC Industry: Floods. Next Up, Plague of Locusts
Sales of PCs are slower than expected this year, and though they're in fact growing by single digits (a fact you don't see spelled out in many reports), many are still trying to find an excuse for the discrepancy. I mean, after all, those geniuses at IDC and Gartner are never wrong with any of the crystal ball stuff. So we learn that the cause of the slow-down must be iPads, despite the fact that PC growth in 2011 will actually exceed total iPad sales. Then we learn that the reason must be smartphones, despite the fact that the vast majority of smartphone owners in 2011 also have multiple PCs. But this latest excuse is the best one yet. And that's that flooding in Thailand will harm PC sales because many PC makers and component makers (such as the makers of hard drives) have industrial parks there. In fact, IDC is now revising its Q4 numbers to reflect its belief that PC shipments will now, in fact, fall year-over-year in that quarter. How is it that IDC didn't foresee the flooding? Don't these guys own one of the palantír? Pffft.
It's NOT Called Xbox 720
There are a lot of rumors swirling around about the next Xbox console, and many of them contradict the information I've gotten from my sources. So I don't know what to think, exactly. But I will say this—and I'm looking at you, tech bloggers and reporters: STOP calling it the Xbox 720. I have heard explicitly and frequently that this name has never, ever been considered and that the people working on the next console cannot stand this name. So please. Stop.
Microsoft Offers $250 Computers to Low-Income Families. Or, As I Call It, Most of the United States
Microsoft and several PC makers and cable providers are rolling out a scheme by which they can supply 1 million low-income households in the United States with a fully functioning computer that costs only $250, along with inexpensive broadband Internet. The program, called Shape the Future, has lofty and idealistic goals, and certainly I have nothing cynical to say about it. I will say this, however. Given the way the economy is going, Microsoft and its partners might have to soon expand the ranks of eligible US families. I suspect its figures for qualifying families are already a bit out of date.
Rumors Emerge of Nokia "Champagne," a Next-Gen Windows Phone Handset
According to various online reports, Nokia is testing a new Windows Phone handset, currently code-named Champagne, that's running an interim, post-Windows Phone 7.5, version of the Windows Phone OS. (That OS is thought to be code-named Tango, though Microsoft has never admitted to using that name.) It's unclear what Champagne is, exactly, but we do know that Nokia is bringing multiple Windows Phone handsets to the United States, starting in early 2012 (see the next blurb), and via multiple carriers. So it could be a completely new phone. Or it could be the revised version of the Lumia 800 that includes additional features like a front-facing camera. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
My Report About Windows Phone and CES, Reposted Around the Web Without Credit
I exclusively revealed on the Windows Weekly podcast last week that Nokia would announce and launch to retail its Windows Phone handsets in the United States at CES in January, much earlier in the year than many expected. But then, you've probably read about this on various websites and blogs. None of which mention that I reported this first. Grrr.
No Surprise Here, But Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Sets One-Day Video Games Sales Record
I love Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, as you might know. But I'm not alone. In its first day of availability, Activision's new action shooter set entertainment sales records with over $400 million in revenues (up from the $360 million its predecessor, Call of Duty: Black Ops, made last year). And it did so in just two markets: The United States and the United Kingdom, with sales of 6.5 million units in 24 hours. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of all time in any medium, and we achieved this record with sales from only two territories," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said. So all you Titanic and Harry Potter goons need to back down, because Call of Duty is bigger than any movie, or any movie series, ever made. In fact, the Call of Duty series has made more money than any movies series, including Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. That's how big this is. Still not convinced? More than 1.5 million people went to retail stores at midnight on Tuesday to purchase the game as early as possible. Kind of makes your typical Apple event look like an also-ran, doesn't it?
Apple Releases iOS 5.0.1 to Fix Battery-Life Issues ... But Did It Work?
Apple on Thursday quietly released a minor update to iOS 5, which powers modern versions of the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. This release provides these users with their first chance to try Apple's new over-the-air software-updating capabilities, which is fun, but the real reason many iPhone 4S users, in particular, are excited about it is because iOS 5.0.1 allegedly fixes the battery-life bug that some have complained about. (I've not personally experienced this problem.) So. Does it work? According to Apple's support forums, which aren't nearly as deferential to the Cupertino juggernaut as its fans out in the blogosphere, no. Reports describe the update as "useless" or even "worse" than the original. My guess is that this issue is a multi-headed hydra of sorts and that there are different problems or combinations of problems. So, back to the drawing board.
Fed Up with the New York Post, er ah, Times
I've often railed against the lamestream media because of the pro-Apple, anti-Microsoft bias I see regularly—in fact, almost daily. Case in point: A headline in the New York Times today that reads, Will Windows Mobile Woo Developers? Um. Windows "Mobile"? Microsoft announced its intention to replace Windows Mobile with Windows Phone almost two years ago, and those two platforms have absolutely zero to do with each other, technologically or conceptually. But then, you know that. So thanks, New York Times. Thanks for paying attention, and thanks for doing your little bit to implicitly support Apple's products. I bet you never "mistakenly" called the iPhone a Newton in a headline. In fact, I know you didn't.
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Mary Jo, Leo, and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday at the usual time Thursday. It should be available for download by the end of the weekend on iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.
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