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Research in Motion this afternoon apologized for the outage this week that blocked BlackBerry messages for hours. Company co-leader Jim Balsillie validated earlier reports that the crash was self-inflicted, saying that RIM had 'accidentally' caused the problem and would avoid repeating the mistake.
"There are times when a mistake can happen and you think your processes are designed to handle every eventuality, and every now and then, one doesn't," the executive said. "Of course you take action to ensure it doesn't happen again."
Since many people have neither the space nor the money for powerful tower speakers, a number of companies are producing all-in-one speakerbars; the latest is by Paradigm, who have released their Reference Millenia 20 Trio. Left, right and center channels are combined into the same unit, and because of its horizontal orientation, it can be placed on surfaces like cabinets and mantels, or even the top of a television. There are only two major issues: the Trio does not have its own subwoofer, and it does not do simulated surround-sound, so buying rear-channel speakers will necessary for home theater purists. A Trio costs $1,000. [via Crave]
Opening sales of Windows Vista in China were much stronger than the 244 copies claimed earlier this week, according to a spokesman from Microsoft. Though the company declined to provide an actual figure for the number of copies sold during the new operating system's first weeks on the market, Microsoft said that sales were "double" those of XP during the same amount of time. The corrected number suggests that Chinese sales were proportionate to worldwide sales results that exceeded the XP launch of 2001.
Napster and Circuit City have formed a partnership to start a new music subscription service, Reuters reports. The service launches April 29th, and will cost $15 per month, or 99 cents for individual tracks. The move continues Napster's efforts to acquire more subscribers, the most notable being its absorption of 350,000 customers from AOL's defunct Music Now store. Circuit City was in fact the original creator of Music Now, having sold it to AOL in 2005.
The partnership also reflects increasing attempts by electronics stores to compete with the likes of iTunes, which holds over 80 percent of digital music sales, and represents a direct threat to any outlet with a large music section. In October of last year, Best Buy formed a store in tandem with with SanDisk and RealNetworks.
Motorola is prepping a new special color for its increasingly popular KRZR K1, one of the UK's larger cellphone shops says. Following models such as the KRZR Fire and the quartz-themed T-Mobile version, the MOTOKRZR K1 Pink takes the base flip-phone and covers it in a deeper, glossier shade than for most special-run phones.
Features for the 2-megapixel camera phone are unchanged, but the device should arrive in time for Mother's Day in May and will likely be priced similarly to normal versions. Availability is likely to start with the UK but may expand to North America through providers such as AT&T or Rogers. [via JAMP Blog]
Photos have surfaced today confirming the existence of the Sony-Ericsson P700, according to a Dutch website. The shots all but solidify the features of the device, including a 3.2-megapixel camera equipped with dual flashes, a front VGA camera, and the two-letter keypad buttons for fast text messages.
No additional details about the device have been released other than the P700's internal nickname, the "Nicole." Click through for larger photography. [via UberGizmo]
Microsoft today had a patent published that could affect today's gaming hardware as well as future consoles and handhelds. Dubbed simply a "Multi-component gaming system," the technology would have virtually any device networked with a console share not only its data but its processor resources as part of a single larger system: digital media players, phones, and PCs could offload the work of secondary features in games, such as picture-in-picture, sound decoding, and other tasks.
Updated with new photos T-Mobile this morning added to its BlackBerry offerings with its own version of the BlackBerry 8800. Much like the reference version, this edition includes the same true GPS and media player software of before, as well as EDGE support for the carrier's Internet link. T-Mobile's edition includes the myFaves utility for unlimited calling to friends and multiple IM clients for AOL, ICQ, Windows Live, and Yahoo Messenger chats.
The 8800 will be ready to ship for T-Mobile's online and retail shops by Monday the 23rd. Pricing is unknown but should compare closely to the $300 of the AT&T version when linked to a two-year service plan.
Luxury goods dealer Amosu today released one of the most exotic RAZR models yet, the V3i Stainless Steel Gold. A turn on the already rare Dolce & Gabbana RAZR, the version designed by Peter Aloisson uses the gold-tinted stainless steel of its namesake for the body but also features 855 diamonds amounting to nearly four carats on its outer shell. Each diamond is even hand-placed, Amosu boasts.
Aloisson's specially-crafted version of the phone is already available for just over $10,000. A version without the diamond covering but keeping the stainless steel can also be found through Amosu for $4,000. [via Crave]
The Nintendo Wii continued to dominate next-gen console sales in March, says Newsfactor. According to figures released by the research firm NPD Group, approximately 259,000 Wiis were sold in the US last month, raising total 2007 figures to 1.03 million. Conversely, Microsoft's Xbox 360 sold 199,000 units, and the Sony Playstation 3 trailed behind at 130,000. NPD helped confirm earlier this month that the Wii has remained the next-gen leader since it began shipping November 19th.
It is not however the bestselling console overall: that title belongs to the Playstation 2, which in March sold 280,000 systems, despite having been launched in 2000. The platform was also home to the month's top game title, "God of War II," which shipped 833,000 copies. "Wii Play" ranked second at 644,000.
Sharp on Friday made a sweeping update to its Mebius notebooks with a trio of new 15.4-inch models based on AMD chips. Leading the charge is the WT70T: the system is fast enough for Vista Home Premium with a dual-core 1.6GHZ Turion 64 X2, 1GB of memory, and a 100GB hard disk backed by a DVD rewriter. It should also be accompanied by the Vista Home Basic-friendly WE50T and WE40T, each of which relies on a less costly single-core 1.8GHz Sempron, 512MB of memory, and 80GB of hard drive storage and are separated only by the inclusion of Office 2007 Personal with the WE50T.
The Chinese-language site Phone Daily carries word of an unlabelled PDA phone from an unknown manufacturer, which may potentially raise the ire of Microsoft. Known as the 777, it is said to run a version of Windows Mobile, but with a promoted interface that shoddily reproduces Windows XP -- extending to the misspelled name (click below). The phone may otherwise be interesting to Chinese shoppers, since it has a fairly large touchscreen, and can play back both audio and video, including MP3 and MPEG-4 files. A still photo camera is rated at 1.3 megapixels, and the device as a whole weighs less than four ounces. The 777 should already be out in east Asia. [via Akihabara News]
Motorola has begun shipping its first DVR models equipped with CableCARD slots. The DCH series (pictured) gives viewers subscribing to HDTV cable or satellite service the ability to both receive and record protected TV shows at their full quality without a separate tuner or the expense of a TiVO Series 3. Storage and other features are currently unlisted but vary depending on the exact model and TV provider.
Verizon has all but confirmed final launch details for the RAZR maxx Ve by posting the device on its company test site , days ahead of its official debut. Confirming claims by Verizon, the maxx Ve should ship for $200 with a two-year contract and will have all the features that make it a step up from the original RAZR, including a 2-megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth, and a trademark 1.7-inch external LCD for music control.
The phone will officially reach stores of April 24th with immediate support for Verizon's V CAST music and video downloads and assistive GPS for its VZ Navigator and Chaperone parental controls. [via My:Tech]
Likely to make the phone's name more memorable, Motorola has renamed the Moto Q Q9 -- introduced at 3GSM in February -- to the Moto Q 9H. The device is otherwise unchanged, running Windows Mobile 6, and supporting both EDGE and HSDPA broadband, the latter being capable of speeds up to 3.6Mbps. It also boasts a microSD slot and a (fixed-focus) two-megapixel camera, as well as a variety of supported audio and video formats, such as AAC, MP3, H.264 and WMV. [via Unwired View]
iPod accessory maker DLO is already preparing accessories for the iPhone, the company revealed today. The company has released a teaser photo that shows an unnamed silicone skin for the Apple device that would guard all but the screen against impact or scratch damage; the protective layer would be sensitive enough to allow use of the home button.
Color options, prices, and launch details haven't been announced by DLO, though the skin and similar extras are likely to be available shortly after the iPhone becomes available in late June. [via CrunchGear]
Another company making news with e-books is Fujitsu, who who will be displaying its FLEPia e-book readers at the Fujitsu Forum in May. Said to be the first commercial products using flexible color e-paper, the FLEPias are less than half an inch thick, and are made for A4 (8x11) and A5 (6x9) sizes, with screen resolutions of 768x1024. Loading files can be done through one of three methods: USB 2.0, 802.11b/g wireless, or a provided SD slot. Lithium-polymer batteries should provide 50 hours of use. Only corporations and rich individuals, however, will likely be able to afford a FLEPia: according to Gizmodo, the A5 size should cost $12,685, and the A4 size several thousand more at $21,137. [via MobileRead]
With Amazon having got its start in paper books, the company is now preparing to push the e-book concept with its own hardware. The "Kindle" reader has been public knowledge for some time; only this week however has concrete information surfaced on the device. Publishers Weekly confirms that people will be able to buy files through the Kindle itself, and the software will be supplied by Mobipocket, which is owned by Amazon and designed the reader used on the latter's website.
Critically, though the Kindle is scheduled for an imminent release, it is expected to cost at least $400 -- more than many customers may be willing to pay. It is also unknown what form of Internet connection the reader will use. MobileRead believes it may be EVDO, but since reliance on cellular networks may exclude too much of the public, WiFi may be more probable.
Magellan ended the week today with the Maestro 3000 series, a new entry into the fiercely competitive budget GPS field. Every model takes the core design of the widescreen Maestro 4000 and puts it into a smaller, 3.5-inch shape that drives the cost down and makes the unit more portable. Storage is still handled through SD cards despite the smaller profile.
Apple is preparing to sit at the bargaining table with the major record labels over the next month, and will likely use its market-leading position to push for DRM-free tracks from the remaining 'big three' music companies. Apple and EMI on April 1st announced that the label would offer its entire catalog of audio tracks without copy protection via the iTunes Store, and the other labels are expected to follow suit in the near future. "EMI struck a deal that puts all of us at a disadvantage," said an anonymous music executive. EMI defends its position, saying that consumers were frustrated with DRM protection. "We believe removing it will boost digital music overall," an EMI spokeswoman said.
Medion this morning revealed its RIM 1000 ultra-mobile PC, marking a slightly different take on the common UMPC formula. Its keyboard is split, allowing for a more comfortable fit and preventing accidental key presses; it also has a 6.5-inch screen versus the more common 7-inch model, reducing the overall footprint in a bag. Reflecting its company's tendencies, it also focuses much more heavily on media playback with Vista Home Premium, a larger default 768MB of RAM, and a webcam.
Minox has debuted a new compact camera, the DC 1022. Already positioned in the coveted 10-megapixel range, the camera does have several other highlights as well, including 6x optical zoom with 62x digital magnification. The view LCD measures an unusual 2.8 inches, and users can set aperture and shutter controls to full manual, in addition to choosing between automatic and various programmed modes. One drawback to the camera is image stabilization, which comes only in the form of software compensation. The camera holds 32MB of internal storage plus up to 2GB on an SD card. No prices or release dates have yet been mentioned.
Chipset maker Via Technologies on Friday introduced Pico-ITX, a new mainboard standard designed for systems where even the small shape of Nano-ITX boards would be too large to fit. The reference VT6047 board measures 4.2 by 2.8 inches -- only slightly larger than a playing card, the company is eager to note. Despite the diminutive size, the board makes room for VGA output and an Ethernet connection to get the system online. Cooling and power are kept to a minimum thanks to Via's lower-power C7 processors such as that used in the HP dx2020.
Details of yet another upcoming Sony-Ericsson phones have leaked, according to Spanish forum sources. The W970, nicknamed "Adriana," should be one of the cellphone maker's most advanced phones with an emphasis on video recording: enhanced software will support both front and rear cameras, and a 512MB Memory Stick Micro will come bundled with the unit to get the owner started. The phone will also rely on an unusually large swivel mechanism to hide a full-length keypad and will support 3G wireless.
Griffin Technology has unveiled a new accessory that makes Apple's second-generation iPod shuffle work with any device that features a Universal Dock. The new Dock Adapter enables iPod shuffle owners to use speaker systems as well as other devices that were previously accessible only to full-size docking iPods, serving as a low profile device that fits in most travel accessory cases. The adapter features a slider switch that toggles between charge/sync and audio play modes, allowing the docked Shuffle to transfer data and sync with iTunes while charging the battery. In play mode the iPod shuffle outputs its audio to any connected speaker system. Griffin's Dock Adapter for iPod shuffle is available for $20, and works with Apple's second-generation iPod shuffle models.
Wal-Mart is about to shake up the next-generation movie business with a new low-cost player, its partners have revealed. TDK and China-based Fuh Yuan have agreed to produce a blue-laser movie player (potentially Blu-Ray or HD DVD) for the American retailer that will use reduced manufacturing costs to drop the price to $299 -- easily undercutting the reduced $400 price of Toshiba's basic HD-A2 HD DVD player.
The player could change the balance of power in the disc standard wars, say sources, and will likely help HD video become a commodity much sooner than expected. No specific timeframe was given for the drive, but over 2 million will be shipped to Wal-Mart by the end of 2008. [via Akihabara]
The large-scale outage in BlackBerry service on Tuesday and Wednesday was caused by an unessential upgrade, Research in Motion at last confirmed today. A newly optimized routine that RIM said hadn't been properly optimized had been installed on its servers, triggering a crash that even the failsafe systems for the network were unable to catch.
Though the company said it was still studying the circumstances that led to the shutdown, it has ruled out hardware failures and security breaches as the cause and said that there was nothing inherent to its software design that could repeat the crash. An official statement has yet to be released.
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