An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...
PC Sales in Q2 2011 Up 2.45 Percent
PC makers sold 85 million PCs in the second quarter of 2011, according to figures from both IDC and Gartner—a 2.45 percent increase over the same quarter from the previous year. But as has been the case lately, PC sales in established markets like the United States and western Europe were actually down somewhat in the quarter, with emerging markets such as Latin America and the (non-Japanese) Asia/Pacific picking up the slack. The top five PC makers were HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, and ASUS, with Lenovo making an astonishing 22+ percent leap to almost overtake Dell for second place. In the United States, PC makers sold about 4.5 percent fewer computers than they did the year before, but not because of rising iPad sales per se; instead, US-based electronics retailers like Best Buy are setting aside space in stores (and thus ordering fewer traditional PCs) in anticipation of an expected "media tablet" sales binge (including the iPad) that may or may not happen in the future. This is something I've witnessed, and I have to be honest: I don't agree with it at all.
Amazon Rumored to Be Plotting Major Tablet Advances
Speaking of tablet sales that may or may not happen this year, Amazon is rumored to be plotting two new Kindle ebook readers, one of which is really an Android-based tablet, as well as a general-purpose Android tablet it will position against the iPad. Apparently, Amazon will deliver an update to its traditional, e-ink-based Kindle devices, but also a multi-touch, color version of the Kindle that's based on Android. And for you tablet fans that can't stand the thought of an Apple logo in your house—and there's a lot of you out there—Amazon will be delivering an iPad-like Android tablet that will tie into Amazon's amazing ecosystem for digital music, TV shows and movies, audiobooks, Kindle eBooks, and Android apps. Amazon is quite possibly the only company that can take on Apple toe-to-toe, and if non-iPad tablet sales this year are any indication, Apple could use the competition. So far, nothing has even come close to denting Apple's lead.
Kate Hudson Names New Son "Bing"
This is kind of an odd one, but actress Kate Hudson last week gave birth to a son, whom she named ... Bing. Well, Bingham Hawn Bellamy, really, but the shorthand name is indeed Bing. Bing as in Bing Crosby? Or Bing as in Microsoft Bing? Hmmm.
Windows 8 and Xbox 360, Sitting in a Tree?
Here's a fun rumor: Apparently, some enterprising hackers have discovered references to Xbox 360 inside a leaked Windows 8 build, leading to speculation that Microsoft's next desktop OS could run games for the Xbox 360. That's fanciful, and would be awesome. But come on. There's no way that's happening. If anything, this is probably just a reference to coming Xbox LIVE services that are going to take over for the now-dying Games for Windows brand. In fact, if you think about how Xbox LIVE works on Windows Phone, I think you'll see the exact model for this. Rumor debunked? I hope not. Xbox games on Windows would be cool.
Microsoft Sued Over Awesome Windows Phone Ads. Which Is How You Know They're Awesome
Remember those terrific "Really?" ads for Windows Phone in which smartphone-using goobers ignored the real world around them because they were so focused on their phones? Well, Microsoft is being sued for them. A novelty company called Cellrderm says that Microsoft ripped off its own ad campaign about cell phone addiction. The Cellrderm ads are pretty terrible, but they do incorporate two bits that Microsoft later used in its own ads—a guy dropping a cell phone in a urinal and a sexy woman ignored by her boyfriend/husband—so maybe Cellrderm has a point. But the Microsoft ads are far better and more professional looking, and they get to the point a lot quicker. And where exactly did the Cellrderm ads appear? On a VHS tape? They look ridiculous.
Western Digital to Release SMB Storage Server
With Microsoft's "Colorado" servers—Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials ("Aurora"), Windows Home Server 2011 ("Vail"), and Windows Storage Server 2011 Essentials ("Breckenridge")—all complete and broadly available, I've been wondering when we're going to see new hardware preinstalled with these products. Last week, we heard about the first Aurora server, and this week we found out that storage device maker Western Digital (WD), appropriately enough, is going to jump into the WSS 2011 Essentials market. The company plans to ship a WSS 2011 Essentials-based server for small businesses later this year. This is a great fit. Now, how about Windows Home Server too?
Google Earnings Top Expectations
Online giant Google announced its quarterly earnings on Thursday, and the results exceeded virtually all expectations. The company earned a net income of $2.51 billion on revenues of $9.03 billion in the second quarter of 2011, the latter of which was up 32 percent from the same quarter a year ago. The quarter is notable because it's the first under the direction of new CEO (and cofounder) Larry Page, and because Google soft-launched its Facebook clone, Google+, though that latter effort doesn't directly generate revenues. But it's also the quarter during which the US government revealed it was investigating Google for antitrust violations. I'm guessing these things are all interrelated.
EA Buys PopCap Games, Makers of Plants vs. Zombies
Video game giant Electronic Arts (EA) this week swallowed up PopCap Games for a whopping $1.3 billion. PopCap, famous for titles such as Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled, is a pretty small operation by EA standards, so this is obviously a huge windfall for them. (And it makes me wonder what's going to happen to Farmville maker Zynga or Angry Birds creator Rovio.) And as the Wall Street Journal points out, the big loser in this deal—wait for it—is Microsoft. Microsoft? Yep. PopCap offered to sell Bejeweled to the software giant for just $35,000 back in 1999, and it would have sold the whole company for next to nothing.
Spotify Finally Arrives in the United States
Remember when Zune Pass arrived in the United States in 2007 and everyone ignored the innovative subscription music service? No? Well, feel free to do it again: The copycat Spotify service, which has somehow managed to rack up both subscribers and music industry support after debuting last year in Europe, is now available in the United States, too. There are three plans: Open (which is free) and the paid Unlimited and Premium offerings, which are $5 and $10 per month, respectively. The free Spotify service is currently invite-only, so it could be a while before you get in, but if you join a paid version you can jump to the front of the line. (The Premium version adds mobile device and offline support, as well as better music quality.) I'm testing Spotify now and will provide a less jaded update next week.
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Leo and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday as usual, and we were joined once again by special guest co-host Mary Jo Foley, who provided a live report from Microsoft's WPC 2011. The new episode 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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