I've always been a pretty ardent supporter of gamification, and it'd take a lot to change that. That being said, the addition of achievements to Microsoft Visual Studio via a Windows Phone 7 app authored by Den Delimarsky is weird, but still neat. You wouldn't think that coding is something that you could add achievements too, but you'd be wrong. Achievements are unlocked for feats like writing a class with a certain amount of public and private members, or an enum with more than 30 fields, and the like. The app is currently in closed beta, and looks promising.
Windows Phone 7
The Microsoft Zune is officially dead and will no longer be produced according to a Microsoft posting on the Zune support pages. One might argue (and fairly successfully) that the Zune has been effectively dead for years now and since the iPhone changed the mobile music landscape and took what little weight was on the Zune's shoulders and placed it squarely on Windows Phone 7. What makes it officially dead is that Microsoft seems to have come to that conclusion as well. From Microsoft's statement:
We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players. So what does this mean for our current Zune users? Absolutely nothing. Your device will continue to work with Zune services just as it does today. And we will continue to honor the warranties of all devices for both current owners and those who buy our very last devices. Customer service has been, and will remain a top priority for us.
While it might seem reasonable to assume that Company A makes more money from sales of its own product than from those of its competitor, Company B, thanks to the magic of licensing, it's actually possible for the reverse to be true, especially if Company B has a much larger market share. Spoiler alert: Company A is actually Microsoft, and Company B is actually Google, and the products are Windows Phone and Android, respectively. According to Citi analyst Walter Pritchard, to date, Microsoft has actually made five times as much money from Android as it does from Windows Phone. Here's how the math works:
A rough estimate of the number of HTC Android devices shipped is 30 million. If HTC paid $5 per unit to Microsoft, that adds up to $150 million Android revenues for Microsoft. Microsoft has admitted selling 2 million Windows Phone licenses (though not devices.) Estimating that the license fee is $15/WP phone, that makes Windows Phone revenues to date $30 million.Does that mean Microsoft should just give up and concede the mobile market to Google? Absolutely not: Most analysts agree that the smartphone market will be much bigger five years from now than it is today, so fighting for that market share still matters. (Asymco via BGR. title pic via GottaBeMobile.)
Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft executive who now heads up Nokia, was accused of being a Microsoft Trojan horse last month when Nokia announced that it would effectively be killing off its self-developed Symbian and MeeGo mobile operating system in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. At the time, fans of the spurned Nokia platforms charged that Nokia's crown jewels were being given away for a song. On that account, at least, they were wrong, if Bloomberg's report is to be believed: Per that report, Microsoft is paying Nokia more than $1 billion for Nokia's role in promoting and developing mobile phones that will carry Windows Phone 7.
If it succeeds, the partnership may benefit both sides financially while helping stave off a smartphone threat from Apple Inc. and Google Inc. Nokia shares have dropped 26 percent since the accord was unveiled Feb. 11, reflecting doubts about the move to adopt Microsoft’s operating system, which is less than six months old and has just a few percentage points of market share.But here's the thing: Nokia will still be paying Microsoft a licensing fee for every copy of Windows Phone 7 on one of its phones. Though we don't know what that fee is, that sounds a little outrageous. MG Siegler: "It’s so ridiculous that Microsoft is sticking with this licensing system. You can license Android, the market leader now, for free. Microsoft? There’s a fee. For each phone. Who in their right mind would do that? Wait — let me rephrase. Who in their right mind not getting $1 billion in free advertising/development costs and not run by a recently departed Microsoft executive would do that? Unless this Nokia gamble pays off — and in a big way — the answer will be no one." (Bloomberg via Techmeme)
At a press event in New York today, Microsoft finally unveiled its Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system, a much-anticipated, long-overdue serious push into the smartphone market by a company that admits it's far behind Apple, Google, and RIM.
Earlier this week Microsoft announced that they would be handing a Windows phone 7 device to each of its 90,000 employees, presumably for reasons related to morale and employee familiarity with product, but also probably to reduce the number of pictures taken of Microsoft employees enjoying their iPhones (taken, naturally, with iPhones). One other reason his been revealed in a memo from Microsoft Mobile head Andy Lees to employees:
There is also a lot you can do while we are heading to launch even before you get your phone including... Develop! With the help of the developer division, we just shipped the Final Beta of the Windows Phone Developer Tools. They absolutely rock, and you should download them now http://developer.windowsphone.com/. The package includes everything you need to start building apps. In addition, we’ve introduced a new employee developer program which makes it much easier for you to develop apps for Marketplace in your spare time.The company wants to artificially jump start its app community, using the free time of its employees. Uh, yeeahh...
Adorable young rascals reenact American Revolution (Urlesque)
How to trap lightning in a block (MAKE)
Inmate's secret footage shot in prison coming to HBO (This Is 50)
How to make an arcade cabinet in under 15 minutes (RetroFusion)
Mind-controlled computers coming in the future (Fast Company)
Rumor: leaked Windows Phone 7 specs (BGR)
Twilight craze kills Neil Gaiman's desire to write a novel about a vampire, which would've been awesome (Gamma Squad)
(title image via Friends with You)
Not Apple, and, oddly enough, not Google, but Microsoft. Gizmodo's article says that while the Kin, Microsoft's "smart" phone aimed at the teenage texter, is not a good product, it contains a bit of software, Studio, that is something greater than the sum of its parts. The networking phone uploads everything created with it (photos, videos, texts, etc.) and displays them simply, beautifully, and chronologically on the internet. This Studio can be accessed from anywhere.
Kin Studio bears all the hallmarks of a pilot program, with a limited scope of ambition—there's no outgoing email or SMS component, nor is it particularly powerful as a photo management tool—as well as a severely limited deployment. If the Kin sells at all, it'll be to a narrow slice of the population. A sample group, basically. This sample group will glimpse the future of Microsoft, and without knowing it, the future of how we use gadgets.
Well, Microsoft did tell us they were going to tell us something today. And now they've told us. It was not, as some had speculated, the near-mythological Microsoft Courier, a tablet computer. Instead it was a new line of phones, oriented at the person who is deeply, deeply into social networking. Says The Next Web:
Microsoft are quick to point out that this is a completely different offering from Windows Phone 7. Instead of being a smartphone with hundreds of different applications at your disposal, the Kin One and Kin Two exist to keep you in constant contact with friends whilst your on the move, sharing photos, videos and status updates on the go without an app store in sight.
Yesterday, Microsoft wowed Barcelona with its brand new mobile phone operating system: Windows Phone 7. Now that the dust has settled at CTIA, let’s assess just how big the impact of this announcement will be. Let’s face it: the last time anyone was excited about Windows Mobile was back when a computer that could fit in your “pocket” seemed even more compact than one that could fit in your “palm.” Since then, Microsoft has thrown an increasingly large slew of numbers onto the OS, with seemingly no other changes to accompany the transition that took us from “2000” to “6.5” with about six seemingly arbitrary stops in between.