Sunday, 3 April 2011

Will Social Media Save WrestleMania 27?

Well, maybe not “save” WrestleMania, but help ensure it does better than last year’s edition,WrestleMania 26, which, at well under one million pay-per-view buys worldwide, was considered a bit of a disappointment. What’s different this year is WWE’s use of social media—that is to say they’re actually using it this time around. But even if this year’s edition,WrestleMania 27, which airs from Atlanta tomorrow on pay-per-view, does better than last year’s, how much of that can be attributed to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and how much of that can be attributed to the return of The Rock? Serious business, etc.
To be fair, it very much is serious businessWWE pulled in $477.7 million in revenue last year (up from $475.2 in 2009), and its flagship TV program, Raw, on the USA cable network,regularly draws [PDF] five million viewers per week. The move to a more family friendly, PG-oriented product may have upset some fans—you can’t visit a pro-wrestling message board without seeing fans clamoring for a return to the late 1990s/early 2000s Attitude Era, what with its edgy content and more adult-oriented storylines—but the shift has enabled the company to strike lucrative deals with the likes of Mattel.
The company has had a somewhat unusual relationship with technology in recent years. While it was quick to move its NXT television program from the SyFy network to, it did so only to make room for another program, Smackdown, which made its SyFy debut last October. (NXT still airs on television networks outside of the U.S.) It made available, on YouTube and, full episodes of some of its television programs last year, but this was long after people had been watching TV shows online on services like Hulu and iTunes.
But the embrace of social media has been a concerted effort. The company’s chief marketing officer, Michelle Wilson, told Multi-Channel News that the company’s increased use of Facebook in particular should help the company achieve its goal of one million worldwide buys. (The company currently has 4.9 million “likes” on the site.) It has promoted its talents’ individual Twitter accounts, who use the platform as an extension of on-air goings-on, as seen here:

Dear John Cena – let’s just hug it out ok? APRIL FOOLS – IN 2 DAYS IM STOMPIN A MUDHOLE IN YOUR FRUIT LOOP PUNK ASS – TEAM BRING IT.less than a minute ago via Who Say
The fact that there are so many things working in the company’s favor this year—not coming the day after a major UFC pay-per-view event as it did last year; the return of The Rock; the presence of Jersey Shore’s Snooki—will make it difficult to pinpoint one particular reason why the show does better (if it does, indeed, do better).
Although, to be honest, we all know The Rock is the real draw here. I’d find it hard to believe even one person would buy the show to see Snooki, who’s regularly on free TV doing whatever it is she does that makes her famous. Incidentally, wouldn’t the Italian feminine diminutive of “guido” be “guidetta” and not “guidette” as Snooki claims? I’m pretty sure the “-ette” ending is French and not Italian. But then again I don’t have a fancy MTV show, so what do I know?
Another wild card: online piracy. We’re all familiar with UFC’s fight against illegal online streams, but there’s but so much a company like it or WWE can do to fight streams that are oftentimes based overseas. It’s not a problem that will go away quickly, or easily. Stream quality will only improve as bandwidth becomes cheaper and more plentiful (“peak bandwidth” notwithstanding); most everybody by now knows that with a cheap HDMI cable you can connect a laptop to a big screen HDTV in order to watch the stream there. How will these streams affect the event’s buyrate, and will UFC’s lawsuits have scared off potential pirates? Tough to say, but it’s not as if piracy is a new thing phenomenon: “black boxes” could illegally tune into pay-per-view channels on analog cable systems in the 1980s and 1990s, and WWE and boxing still had a number of events then with massive buyrates. I’m pretty sure Mike Tyson is still the biggest pay-per-view draw of all time, and he was at the top of his game when these “black boxes” could be pretty easily obtained, as anyone who read the classified ads in electronics magazines will tell you.
Getting one million worldwide pay-per-view buys is no easy feat, and we’ve already seenhow just because something is popular on Twitter doesn’t automatically mean money is being made, so it’ll be terribly exciting to see if WWE’s social media push has any impact whatsoever on WrestleMania 27’s numbers. Again, if the show does do well much of that success will have to be attributed the return of The Rock, whose WrestleMania 17 main event with Stone Cold Steve Austin in 2001 led to an estimated 1.04 million worldwide buys. Outside of Brock Lesnar, The Rock’s the closest thing to a surefire (if short-term) pay-per-view draw you’ll find.

MyTouch 3G Slide FroYo Available

The successor to the MyTouch 3G, the Slide, has finally gotten an official taste of soft serve. The only catch is that it isn’t an OTA and users will need to make the effort to install it manually; though HTC has provided all of the neccesarry tools on their website.
Is this a welcome addition, or too little too late for a device that is closing in on its first birthday?

New Platform Distribution Figures Show More of the Same [Froyo Dominates]

It’s that time of the month again – Google shows us a breakdown of Android versions across all officially certified devices. We last visited this two weeks ago, but much hasn’t changed since then. Without even looking at the numbers, Froyo is still on top by a wide margin, Android 2.1 is still out and about but is slowly dipping, Android 1.5 and 1.6 are nearly obsolete, and Android 2.3 and 3.0 aren’t in enough devices to make significant blips on the pie chart.
We expect to see these numbers change a lot in the next couple of months as the latest round of handsets and tablets are set to be released before and at the beginning of summer. We’re hoping that Honeycomb share will jump a ton, but we won’t be holding our breath. Get a look at the breakdown above

Google Doodles Ice Cream Sundae

if you mouse over the image, you get the true reason why today’s Google Doodle includes Ice Cream:
119th Anniversary of the First Documented Ice Cream Sundae
Indeed, a quick all-knowing Wikipedia entry shows that April 3rd is the Ice Cream Sundae Anniversary:
Supporting Ithaca’s claim, researchers at The History Center in Tompkins County, New York, provide an account of how the sundae came to be: On Sunday, April 3, 1892 in Ithaca, John M. Scott, a Unitarian Church minister, and Chester Platt, co-owner of Platt & Colt Pharmacy, created the first historically documented sundae.[4][5] Platt covered dishes of ice cream with cherry syrup and candied cherries on a whim. The men named the dish “Cherry Sunday” in honor of the day it was created. The oldest-known written evidence of a sundae is Platt & Colt’s newspaper ad for a “Cherry Sunday” placed in the Ithaca Daily Journal on April 5, 1892. By May, 1892, the Platt & Colt soda fountain also served “Strawberry Sundays,” and later, “Chocolate Sundays.” Platt & Colt’s “Sundays” grew so popular that by 1894, Chester Platt attempted to trademark the term ice cream “Sunday.”[6];
But in that very same article, stories from Evanston, Illinois and Two Rivers, Wisconsin claim THEY invented the Ice Cream Sundae in 1890 and 1881 respectively. The Ithaca story is from 1892. The folks from Ithaca have refuted one of the stories and keep in mind that Google states “First Documented” Ice Cream Sundae not the first one to invent the Ice Cream Sundae, so now age old disputes are getting solved here.
It appears as though this is more of a coincidence than anything else. I wouldn’t expect an Ice Cream announcement before Google IO, but when it is announced, I’m now wondering if Google will go with Ice Cream Sundae instead of the previously rumored Ice Cream or Ice Cream Sandwich. Afterall… they’ve got to put SOMETHING in that lawn of theirs!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Do We Even Need Faster Phones?

When the T-Mobile G1 launched back in 2008 with its 528MHz Qualcomm-made processor, we thought it was fast enough for our needs. I personally went a year and a half without the urge to switch phones and I’m sure there are many who are the same. I even know people still holding on to the G1 to this day and they are some of the most die-hard Android fans I know.
Times change, though. Although Android itself seems to demand less and less resources as each new major version of the operating system is launched, power users beg for more. They want more RAM, a faster processor, a better GPU and the whole nine yards. My question: when is enough enough?
Chipset vendors Qualcomm, Samsung, Texas Instruments, and NVIDIA came to market with 1GHz single-core offerings and we were blown away. Finally, there’d exist a flock of CPUs fast enough to keep up with those who find themselves doing a ton of mobile multi-tasking. Suddenly, even that hasn’t been enough for some folks lately.
All of the aforementioned vendors have come to market with dual-core offerings with NVIDIA being the only one with their technology currently inside of commercially available hardware. (The LG Optimus 2X Motorola XOOM and the ATRIX 4G, of course.) I can understand why you’d want more power in a tablet, but it seemed a bit excessive for a phone.
My feelings changed a bit when trying out devices such as the T-Mobile G2X and LG Optimus 2X, the Motorola Atrix 4G and the HTC EVO 3D however. Navigating the user interfaces on these phones was a buttery smooth experience and I immediately longed to own a device that could finally stand up to the iPhone 4 in terms of speed.
Android’s clear lack of UI responsiveness – even with 1GHz chipsets – compared to Apple’s devices bothers every Android user whether they like to admit it or not. We could wait for Google to implement system-wide hardware acceleration like iOS (something we expect to happen with the release of Ice Cream), but getting a dual-core phone is the next best choice for the foreseeable future.
And while we’re still waiting for the market to be filled with more of these powerful handsets, folks like NVIDIA are already about to ship quad-core mobile chipsets. We’re sure that these will be more tailored to tablets and netbooks starting out, but just as with dual-core there’s a possibility these could come to smartphones as well.
I’m not saying I don’t want to see devices get faster and better, but do we really need them to be? Do we see ourselves using all of that juice to its full potential or do we just want to say we have this many gigabytes of this and that many gigahertz of that? When is the industry going to get to a point where they’re happy with the advancements made in just a few short years?
Chipset optimization is already prominent in the industry as vendors look to improve their current offerings and it’ll continue to be a focal point with dual-core devices going forward, but how optimized can you really get with phones? It’s not like the PC market where you have tons of different needs from different users. Although the market is heading in a mobile-dominated market, a phone can only do so much compared to personal computers.
I know one of many benefits to dual-core technology is improved battery life due to the CPU not needing to work as hard for as long but most telecoms and manufacturers don’t use that advantage as part of their marketing campaigns. It’s usually the promise of faster speeds and batter graphics that they use to pull new customers in. That’s great for the growth of mobile gaming which Nintendo seems to be taking a harsh stance on. What else, though?
I’m personally happy with where we’re at. My 1GHz device – a Samsung EPIC 4G – was more than enough for me for a long time. My EVO 4G before that was also sufficient enough for my needs  - 3D gaming with today’s popular and most graphic-intensive titles  wasn’t even a bad experience on it and it didn’t have the most powerful GPU in the world.
I’m most likely going to move forward with a dual-core device but I don’t anticipate needing another device for a VERY long time after that. I want to know how you folks feel, though. Are some of you happy with the speed of your devices now or are you already itching for the latest and greatest to rest inside your pants pocket?

Canadians with a Clumsy Streak: Rugged Motorola Defy now Available at TELUS for $3

The Motorola DEFY is now available through TELUS in Canada. As a refresher, this is the Android 2.2 device with a 3.7-inch Gorilla Glass display and bevy of other mid-range specs packaged in a life-resistant, military spec casing. You can score the handset for $379.99 without a contract or as low as$79.99 on a three-year contract. See more at the TELUS website

14 New Titles Gain OpenFeint Support

OpenFeint have just announced that 14 new titles are in the Android market with support for their social gaming platform. You should note that all of these aren’t necessarily new (we know Meganoid and Guerrilla Bob have both been out for a while now), but added OpenFeint support is always welcome. Take a chunk of time out of your day to look at all of these. (You’ll especially love Meganoid if you’re a fan of old-style 8-bit classics.) The full list is below.
  • Can Knockdown: 2 Infinite Dreams
  • Doodle Bowling: GameResort
  • Grave Defense Silver Free: Art of Bytes
  • Guerrilla Bob: Angry Mob Games
  • Meganoid: Orange Pixel
  • Ninja Rush Deluxe: Feelingtouch Inc.
  • Pyxidis: Hyperbees Ltd.
  • Return Zero (BETA): We came from Mars
  • Snail Mail for Android: Sandlot Games
  • Speedx 3D free&full: Hyperbees Ltd.
  • Stellar Escape: Orange Agenda
  • Stupid Zombies: GameResort
  • World Series of Poker Hold’em Legend: Glu
  • Tank Hero: Clapfoot Games

Nexus S 4G Launching at Sprint on April 18th?

An image of unknown origin is suggesting the Nexus S 4G by Samsung will be landing at Sprint on April 18th. Wherever this news comes from, it appears training on the device is beginning soon. The Nexus S 4G is just as it sounds, your traditional Nexus S with a 4G (in this case WiMAX) radio. It should launch for $199.99 whether or not this date holds true.

Google Introduces New Mobile Feature ‘Meow Me Now’ for Nearby Cat Location

It’s a pretty common problem: you find yourself in a new area with no idea where to turn for your fix of cuddly wuddly kittens. Thankfully we have Google constantly plugging away at such problems in an effort to make a better world. Where would we be without them? Just go to the Google homepage on your Android or iOS device and search [kittens] or by tapping on the Near Me Now drop-down. Would you look at that, within my range Meow Me Now has located the adorable Pepper, Posh, and Mr. Whiskers.
Obviously, the Google Mobile team didn’t want to be left out of the companies April Fools’ Day shenanigans. You must commend the lengths they go to over there for top-notch jokes. How about Pig Latin for Voice Search?
You’ve probably seen Gmail Motion by now, as well, but have you tried searching ‘Comic Sans’ on Google today? Oh, Google. Such jokesters.