WinInfo Short Takes, February 18, 2011

An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...

Update: Nokia Shareholder Uprising "A Hoax"

In Wednesday's WinInfo, I noted that "a group claiming to represent a small (and young) group of \\[Nokia\\] shareholders" was calling for the company to reverse course and essentially return to "the company's previous, failed strategy." Though this assertion was made as only part of a broader range of issues dogging Nokia in the wake of its decision to partner with Microsoft on smartphones, the group responsible for this plan has since revealed that it was just a hoax. Thankfully, the way it was reported in WinInfo made it clear that the true identity of the group was in fact unknown, so no correction is required. Meanwhile, Bloomberg, ZDNet, and other tech news outlets weren't so discerning. Just sayin'.

Windows Phone App Development Increases in Wake of Nokia Deal

Speaking of Nokia, in the week since the Windows Phone deal was announced between that company and Microsoft, new app development targeting Windows Phone has jumped 400 percent. Which means that the millions of developers who are currently targeting Nokia's Ovi store are now taking a look at Microsoft's offerings and getting familiar with the (superior) tools. In fact, new app development for Windows Phone is now running well ahead of that for Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry and is third only to the dominant players, Google Android and Apple iPhone. If you argue, as I do, that Microsoft is really battling for the crucial third spot in this market, this is good news. And evidence that the Nokia deal might have already had the desired effect on Windows Phone.

Symbian Developers, RIP

On the other hand, developers targeting Nokia's now-pretty-much-dead Symbian platform are going to have to start looking around, and some of them aren't happy with the developments of the past week. I mean no offense, of course, but if you were really betting on Symbian until last Friday, you were living in a reality-distortion field of your own making: Symbian's been on an obvious downward slide for years. Nokia addressed these poor souls in a blog post, noting that it "sympathizes and understands." But it's also not reversing course. So, might I recommend my nicely timed collection of Windows Phone developer resources for your perusal? It's time to brush up on some new skills.

Intel Looking for New Meego Partners

Speaking of mobile platforms that Nokia abandoned this week, let's not forget Meego, which was a joint project with chipmaker Intel. And of course Intel was slated to speak this week about Meego at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which must have been a hoot since Nokia pulled the plug on its involvement in that project with just days to spare. (Audio cue: A cricket chirps.) But Intel says it will plow ahead with Meego, and the company is now looking for some other company or companies with which to partner. Here's my prediction: Intel announces the cancellation of Meego within one year.

Office Exec Downplays Google Threat

Which is like saying "Water is wet" or "In space, no one can hear you scream." By which I mean, obvious. Anyway, Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene this week said that while the software giant is of course watching Google's progress with its online Apps services, it hasn't seen anything to be scared of yet. "Their free offering is where they get the most usage," DelBene said at a San Francisco conference this week. "They probably made more traction in the consumer space \\[than with businesses\\]." The point is, companies that pay for software are still buying Microsoft Office in droves, and with Office 365 launching this year, providing an interesting cloud-based suite of offerings, Microsoft clearly feels pretty good about the future. As it should.

Verizon iPhone 4 Sales Embarrassingly Bad

And you thought Apple goons were so dumb that they'd buy anything. Well, have they proven you wrong! This month's launch of last year's endemically broken iPhone 4 on the Verizon Wireless network wasn't exactly a "slam dunk," if you take my meaning, with sources saying that sales came in way under analyst expectations. And according to Boy Genius Report, citing confidential sources, they came in way under Verizon's own more realistic expectations. Thanks for having an iota of common sense, Apple fans. You don't buy a product that is about to be replaced and is known not to work correctly. You just don't.

Where the Frack is Google Music?

With all the churning and bubbling in the mobile space these days, the one major new announcement that I've expected by now but hasn't occurred involves Google's long-awaited entry into the music service business. Let's call it Google Music because, let's face it, the company has zero imagination and you know that's the name. So where is it? Well, Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha, whose business unit is responsible for the Android-based Xoom tablet, slipped up this week and said that a Google Music service was coming soon. So the guess now is that Google will launch this thing in time for the Xoom and other Android "Honeycomb"-based tablets, which should ship by mid-year. So that's gotta be the timeline. Make it so, Google: We need more choice in this market.

And You Thought IBM Was All Washed Up

IBM's Watson computer was revealed to have defeated human contestants on the Jeopardy TV show as expected—and handily, as it turns out. Although I do enjoy that previous Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings jokingly wrote, "I for one welcome our new computer overlords" as part of an answer (and a funny admission of defeat), this is also a somewhat disturbing step along the way toward the sci-fi future predicted by the Terminator movies. The good news? It's IBM. They'll screw it up.

Borders Files for Bankruptcy Protection

One-time bookselling giant Borders this week filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection, and I have to say I'm left with incredibly mixed emotions about this development. I've spent the better part of two decades hoping and praying that my small town would someday have a decent bookstore, and that hope was fulfilled by Borders last year, actually. But here's the thing: By the time Borders did show up here, it didn't matter anymore, because I almost never buy paper-based books now, preferring instead the Kindle and Audible. And when I do buy real books, I buy them at—you guessed it—Amazon. Which is, of course, the problem for Borders. Many are suggesting that Borders will merge with Barnes & Noble, but I actually think a better outcome would be for Amazon to purchase the company and use the retail locations as places to sell the Kindle exclusively. Either way, this has to be the beginning of the end for the Borders brand, which is a shame.

This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast

Leo is away for week three, so I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly on Thursday with Tom Merritt right before heading off to the airport to go to Spain on vacation. The new episode should become available by the weekend on the Zune Marketplace, in iTunes, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.

But Wait, There's More

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