Category: Google

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Legalizing piracy and enabling better content creation through a Global Licence

Posted by Charbax – February 8, 2011

I was at this workshop at Lift11 where we brain-stormed the http://dontmakemesteal.com project which has been gaining media attention during these past few days on wired.com, heise.de, rawstory.com, gigaom.com, sueddeutsche.de, news.ycombinator.com and more. I was on the team in charge of writing the pricing model for this manifesto.

Here is what needs to happen for piracy to dissapear:

Everyone pays $5 per month to access everything. Everyone is then allowed to watch, download, stream any movie, tv show, music, ebook, blog post, download, install and use any application.

This has been called the Global Licence by French socialist party in 2005 when they tried to pass it through the French Parliament (but the law was then cancelled by Chiraq's Government). I was since then a strong supporter of the Global Licence model and I even campaigned through video-blogging 450 videos for Segolène Royal's presidential election campaign in 2007 in France to try to get this law passed in one major European country, which would likely then trickle over to be the standard online content law, the copyright/piracy fix for the world, a foundation allowing for the creation of much better content and a solution allowing for development of much better technological solutions to more easily consume all the best content.

The Netflix model may seem great on the surface, but the reality of a technology provider having to sign content distribution deals with all the content creators in the world is just not a sustainable model. There will be plenty of content creators who will have demands that Netflix cannot meet, and that means a lot of content is then not going to be available in certain markets. Having many separate and closed subscription plans is not a sustainable model.

The only true solution is a Government mandated blanket licencing pricing and redistribution model, thus the global licence tax, where everyone pays a small tax to legally access all contents.

$5 per month paid by everyone in the USA and Europe means $60 Billion per year in revenues through this model, that is probably largely enough to finance great content creation. The redistribution of this wealth would happen through decentralized and multiple measurers of popularity and quality of content. For example, Google can measure exact popularity and quality of YouTube videos, last.fm can measure how many times people listen to songs, Razorback and other p2p statistics systems can measure popularity of files on p2p networks. More such models of measurement of popularity and quality/ratings can be implemented once having such more precise statistics and ratings will be demanded.

The advantages of this model:

- The money can be distributed directly to content creators, skipping all intermediaries. The content creators thus are in control of their budgets, content creation is thus less influenced by the intermediaries.

- Technology providers can focus on providing better technologies instead of having to worry about acquiring rights for content. Technology providers can sell or monetize their solutions based on the cost of bandwidth and storage rather than having to monetize through complicated models.

- Consumers don't have to think about where they can find which content based on who has the rights to distribute it. Consumers can just make a search for what they want, and they can download or stream it through any number of technology and solution providers.

googleartproject.com – this is why we need Quad HD screens and projectors

Posted by Charbax – February 1, 2011

Here's a new project from Google, to digitalize all the worlds art from all the worlds art galleries and make it freely available in ultra high resolution online: http://googleartproject.com

Picasa, YouTube and now also Google Art Project, all cloud services that are ready for Quad HD and beyond!

The usage scenario is something like this, have a slideshow of your favorite art from around the world displayed in Quad HD resolution in your living room sub-$1000 46" Quad-HDTV.

Anyone with a 3megapixel photo camera or higher creates photo content suitable to be viewed on a Quad HD screen.

Anyone filming with upcoming RED cameras or other consumer camcorders to come that record 2K, 3K, 4K, 5K or more, all those deserve to be seen on Quad HD screen, and can be streamed from YouTube even!

Screen and Projector industry, please take this advice: Give up on 3D as soon as possible and make us some Quad-HD, 4K2K screens and projectors at the same cost as 3D!!! All it takes is a new faster processor to process the higher resolution!

Here are some of the Quad HD screens I saw at conferences during the past few years, every time I see content on a Quad HD screen, I am blown away:
JVC 4K2K Camcorder and TV at CES 2011
Samsung 3840x2160p 82″ LCD HDTV at CeBIT 2008
JVC 4K2K HDTV and Projector at IFA 2008

What to expect from Mobile World Congress

Posted by Charbax – February 1, 2011

After the awesome CES last month, I expect an even better Mobile World Congress, from February 13-18th, I will post at least 50 videos here on http://ARMdevices.net showing you the best ARM Powered devices shown at that show. Here are some of the fascinating topics that I expect to film:

- Samsung's ARM Cortex-A9 Orion processor with ARM Mali-400 graphics in Samsung Galaxy S2, Samsung Galaxy Tab2. Is it a 32nm process design already?

- Freescale to show first i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 reference board or even announce actual devices using it?

- Texas Instruments OMAP4 in actual products, more than just RIM Blackberry Playbook. I expect several phones and tablets will feature the 1Ghz OMAP4430 to be released by end of Q1 and they will probably show and announce devices with 1.5Ghz OMAP4440 for later availability.

- Google shows Honeycomb. Not just videos as they did at CES, but they actually allow everyone to play around with the UI. They should announce Google Music, an expansion of Google Voice for worldwide free VOIP usage. Honeycomb should bring open Google Marketplace for all tablets, for all devices, even laptops. I am hoping Google even announces Honeycomb for Rockchip, Telechips, MSM7227 as well. Honeycomb may be synchronized with the launch of Google TV on ARM as well, or at the least, Honeycomb Google Marketplace should work for Google TV screens. First showing of Chrome OS for ARM Powered laptops would be appropriate as well, full hardware acceleration demonstration for HD web browsing on all the ARM Cortex-A9 processors would be appropriate.

- Texas Instruments nHD Pico Projector could be demonstrated in several upcoming smartphones. Adding a built-in projector will be one of the coolest features of a modern smartphone.

- ST Ericsson U8500 ARM Cortex-A9 ready in Nokia's next generation smartphone and tablet devices running Meego. But I also expect Nokia to announce and show a whole range of Android devices which I expect have been under development for a year.

- Nvidia to launch Tegra 2 1.2Ghz 3D edition with full 1080p all codecs high profile playback, faster multi-tab HD web browsing processing and they'll announce and show some Tegra3 stuff as well.

- Qualcomm MSM8660, 8260 to be launched in range of new smartphones and tablets. This is Qualcomm's big Dual-core Snapdragon processor design push. It may be huge and Qualcomm may dominate Dual-core smartphones as well.

- Marvell 628 Tri-core demonstrated in devices. May be the appropriate timing for them to show demos? Marvell in any case is powering the best example of ARM Powered laptop in OLPC XO-1.75 that should be shipping mid-year, and they certainly have some ambitious Marvell Armada XP ARM Powered server projects going on.

- Rockchip's partners launch more RK2918 devices. Suitable for low-cost ARM Cortex-A8 tablet designs.

- New Telechips TCC8803 ARM Cortex-A8 designs for other low-cost tablet designs.

- It would be nice to test some Windows 7/8 ARM demonstrations. Microsoft can do a good job porting all the apps and fixing up all the necessary drivers. Let's see what they have! It would be a nice surprise, but I don't expect Microsoft to precipitate things too fast.

- Motorola releases Atrix 4G and Xoom by the show start. First Tegra2 phone that does it all and first Honeycomb tablet, so it will be fun.

- HTC releases their next generation Android phones and a tablet. It's their replacement for Nexus One/HTC Desire/Droid Incredible. My wild guess is it could be based Qualcomm MSM8660 dual-core and include a HTC Tablet as well.

- RIM Blackberry demonstrates support for Android apps on the Playbook tablet. This way, they skip the need to start a whole new app marketplace from scratch.

- HP launches WebOS devices. Let's see what it can do. I think HP will probably have to use Android though eventually. Hey, competition is always nice, but sometimes when a good open-source platform is free, everyone can just as well contribute to that same ecosystem and if anyone thinks they can make things better, they can fork it or demand the improvements implemented at the level of the Open Handset Alliance. HP did a beautiful ARM Powered laptop before in Compaq Airlife, I'd like to see them upgrade that with Qualcomm MSM8660 Dual-core platform and Honeycomb software.

- I'll be looking for any demonstrations of platforms such as the Broadcom BCM2157 to enable cheaper Android phones. Sub-$100, how soon, how good.

What do you expect from Mobile World Congress? What would you like me to film in priority? Which questions should I ask to whom? You can also send me tips on what I should film at MWC to my email: charbax@gmail.com Do you agree or disagree with any of my expectations? Post in the comments.

Android has already won

Posted by Charbax – February 1, 2011

The smartphone OS wars are not about functionality or design, they are about the business model. Consumers or tech blog reviewers don't get to chose which smartphone OS wins and looses.

Today, the carriers decide

The main reason Android dominates today is that carriers pay about $200 less per customer on an Android phone compared to an iPhone (about $400 vs $600). The other aspect of Android that carriers like is the customization of it to make more money on extra services. For example, Google provides the carrier with a share from app sales in the Google Marketplace. Carriers can pre-load the devices with apps for on-demand music and videos and other services. Apple does not give carriers any share of revenues from the App Store or iTunes.

The actual bill of materials and manufacturing cost of today's high end Android smartphone or iPhone is less than $150. Amazingly, the average US smartphone consumer pays above $2400 for his smartphone on contracts, for example, Verizon's Average Revenue Per User is $105/month. ARPU is lower in Europe, and much lower in developing countries. The carrier economic aspect of Android winning is only how things are today. Even as there is competition with very good high end Android smart phones provided to the market by Samsung, Motorola and HTC, consumers still pay about the same for these phones as they would with an iPhone.

When the carriers loose control

Things are going to change fast. Soon, the carriers will loose control of the smartphone market, and Android will dominate even more.

As 20 Android smart phone makers compete, there are to be $99 Android phones sold unlocked directly to consumers, such as the Chinese Huawei or ZTE Android phones, there will be alternatives to carriers voice services such as the new VOIP centric version of Google Voice which has become an integral part of Android in Gingerbread.

The next phase of Android means consumers will have choices such as the Archos 28 Internet Tablet at $99, no contracts needed, to do SIP/VOIP/Skype calls on WiFi-only, and depending on the region of the world, there are sub-$20/month even sub-$10/month data SIM cards that will be used to get Data-only experiences of Android. White Spaces could also provide for worldwide free wireless broadband for these devices if setup using the http://fon.com model.

While bloggers analyze smartphone differentiation, fueling a feature war on blogs among constantly improving Android super phone specs, in which new models are represented as destroyers of the ones released the previous week, the fact is brands that sell most don't do it on features, they do it by negotiating the strongest deals with the carriers. If you look at the US smartphone market, it really doesn't matter which high end Android phone consumers buy, they all cost basically the same $2400+ after those compulsory 2-years in contracts. The consumer only really gets a choice once devices are sold unlocked through all retailers. Then, prices for these devices will have a meaning and the best value for feature will clearly win. So if you thought it was fun with all these Android phones coming out through carriers this past year, you haven't seen nothing yet compared to what will happen once phones are sold unlocked directly to consumers.

The next billion sub-$100 Android smartphones

Android smartphones can thus soon be $100 unlocked instead of $2400+ on contract. We are talking about a 24x cheaper Android experiences for the consumer. At that point, the consumer gets to choose who wins the smartphone war. This is happenning. It doesn't matter what Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Nokia and others do. When there are $100 Android phones in every super market, competitors don't get to keep a market share if they don't also provide the devices unlocked for $100 with no contracts needed. You think Apple is looking forward to loosing their 300% profit margins on the iPhone?

What carriers will do to try to keep control

The only ways carriers will try to retain control on their trillion dollar industry will be to block VOIP on cheap wireless data plans, buy out and close down any pre-paid carrier competitors that are offering services that are too cheap on any given market, campaign against unlicensed use of the 700Mhz spectrum for White Spaces, block the licensing of 3G/4G modem technologies in cheap unlocked devices, do anything they can to limit competition in the wireless carrier business. Hopefully all these attempts at keeping control will be defeated by strict regulation and government policies.

The smartphone industry is moving too fast for any Government to regulate it, much too fast even for carriers to adjust and protect themselves against the auto-disruption that is inevitable. Everyone is racing and trying to keep the flow of money going their way for as long as possible.

[I originally wrote this on 16th December 2010 to be published on another blog, but since it wouldn't get published there as is, I decided to post it here, your turn to say what you think in the comments.]

Did Nexus S and iPhone5 NFC implementations forget about TrustZone?

Posted by Charbax – January 31, 2011

The idea as suggested in this computerworld column, is that the next generation smart phones are to replace all passwords, credit cards, car keys and other identification and authentication functions.

The potential problem I see with Nexus S and the rumored iPhone5's NFC implementation would be if they leave out ARM's TrustZone security system. If those NFC chips are nothing much more than some types of RFID tags for near field authentication, that wouldn't be enough. We need devices with 100% secure modes that are built in the hardware and that are not improvised in software.

As you can see in the video below, as far as I understand it, TrustZone uses a hardware mechanism in the phone's hardware to provide for 100% security in authentication, which could be used not only for secure payments, but for authentication with any kinds of online banking and any passwords for any type of website.

The idea is that you need to be able to put your phone in a 100% secure mode from which the authentication happens in some 100% secure way. The secure mode is a parallel OS mode on the phone, which cannot be hacked nor cannot display spoofed authentication screens.

Here's a usage scenario. You click on any website with a login, be it gmail or any other website, instead of typing in your password on the screen, which could have keyloggers and trojan horses, a login prompt automatically displays on your phone with a light indicator elsewhere than on the screen of your phone lights up letting you know you are in 100% secure mode, the secure mode asks you to authenticate for a given authenticated domain login, you type in your 4-number pin code on your phone in the secure mode, that's it, your phone authenticates your browser logon, no matter what site it is. Basically, your phone becomes as secure as those calculator types authentication systems that online banks use. Those are basically unhackable, because encryption can be so strong, it would take billions of years for all the computers in the world to find the key to powerful encryption. The only way for someone to access your online accounts would be for them to steal your phone and to know your pin code.

I'd like to know, does Nexus S or any upcoming "NFC" type implementations include something like the ARM TrustZone to provide for true secure online authentication or do we need to wait for yet another generation of devices before we have true meaningful online security?

Nokia needs Android

Posted by Charbax – January 28, 2011

There are some talks about Nokia CEO giving clues about Nokia announcing the support of another OS soon. I think it definitely has to be Android support.

Nokia is the biggest phone maker in the world, they make about half a billion phones each year, it's insane. The thing is, Nokia makes phones that sell at an average below $20 each, most are being sold in developing countries actually. And even though Nokia makes about 15 times more phones than Apple, they make less than 15 times the profit that Apple does.

Nokia could make the industrys best sub-$100 Android phones, at that price with no subsidy or subscription contracts required. That would completely disrupt the whole iPhone and high-end Android and WP7 market in one swoop. That would focus the market in the area where Nokia is best, at making small margins and large volume.

Nokia could design their own Nokia Android Marketplace if they want, I don't think they should, instead they have to demand custom standard Google Marketplace, as Google does share in App sales profits with the manufacturer.

Nokia could do all kinds of custom Android UI customizations, as Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, HTC, Samsung, Acer, Lenovo and others have done. I don't think they should. They should give up on the urge to differentiate in UI designs and instead concentrate on differentiation in hardware design and smooth support for software features through the hardware design, that is the true purpose of a smartphone manufacturer. Give consumers vanilla Android and let consumers install alternative home replacements if they so wish to. Eventually, design a Nokia home replacement if you absolutely want, have it installed by default but absolutely allow for a full change to vanilla Android home UI in an official, not hidden, one click process.

If Nokia has "better ideas" in terms of things such as integrating Qt development framework with Android, suggest more Native Applications Support (such as faster improvements to the Android NDK) or in terms of pushing Android towards more openness in the development process, then "simply" join Google's Open Handset Alliance and put your full influence on improving the platform for everyone. Be nice.

I am sure Nokia has had a hundred engineers preparing their Android phones for more than a year now, it had probably been some secret projects in their R&D labs that they have been preparing just in case they later find out they need to go the Android route. A big company like Nokia can not afford not to look into Android as the open source releases are released for all to experiment with for free, Nokia could not afford not to prepare some designs just in case, and this is the case for it now.

I think the industry should prepare for the idea that Nokia might make excellent Android phone series to be sold unlocked below $100, below $200, and even some high-end at those below $400 price points. But I think Nokia could aim at the below $200 to feel as good as other companies high-end devices. That is, of course, only, if Nokia is not too much in bed with carriers in a way to prevent themselves from planning to take significant smartphone markeshare overnight by being the mega-disruptor of the Smartphone market, instead of doing like most others do which is to focus on maximizing margins and conspiring with the carriers to trick most consumers into 2-year contracts that are so lame.

What do you think Nokia wants to do and what are they able to do? Post your opinions in the comments.

What Google should do. Now.

Posted by Charbax – January 21, 2011

Larry Page is the new CEO, here's what I think Google should do.

1. Make White Spaces happen. Things are moving far too slowly. I want to see White Spaces deployed to provide free wireless broadband to the whole world as an alternative to the proprietary 3G/4G/LTE networks. It should be deployed using the FON.com model, Google can invest meager $50 million or whatever is necessary to mass produce the first 1 million routers to activate White Spaces sharing all over the world. The idea should be this, users get these routers that may initially cost $50 to manufacture because the White Spaces chipset is new, but could eventually cost below $20 per router. They install it in their homes, connected to whatever ADSL, Cable, Fiber that people already have in the home. This router creates a White Spaces hotspot that reaches much further than within their home, to cover their whole neighborhood with bandwidth. The router is clever in that it can dynamically throttle bandwidth, if you are at home and you need to use your own bandwidth your bandwidth is 100% prioritized for you to use, thus it does not feel at all like you are sharing your bandwidth, that bandwidth sharing is only of the bandwidth which you don't need yourself. The whole global network uses OpenID and such with increased level of verification of every users real ID, to authenticate each user on that network, so this is not used as an untraceable anonymous global Internet access, but where any illegal activity could be traced back by local authorities if needed (obviously, proxies and encryption can always be used if someone really wants to be anonymous).

Listen to Larry Page talk about White Spaces, this is more than 2 years ago. What has happened since?

2. Open Google Marketplace to all devices. If there is one point where I think Google might be evil, it's in their policies to hamper innovation with Android. It's been about a year and a half that Archos has put Android tablets on the market, still they are not allowed by Google to install the full Google Marketplace on the device. Google needs to stop now. Open several versions of the Google Marketplace if they want, for different types of devices. Or basically just add a settings menu in Google Marketplace that allows apps to be filtered and highlighted differently in terms of how they have been tested (mostly by users themselves) to work better or worse on every different type of device. Allow in those settings for the user or device to present itself automatically for example "without 3G", "without compass", "without back camera", "without android buttons", "at this specific screen resolution", then filter apps from there, but never block access to all apps on all devices, if some apps don't work correctly on certain class of devices, so be it. I believe 99% of the 200'000 apps in the Google Marketplace work 100% just fine on about 100% of the cheapest Android tablets on the market.

I understand that Honeycomb should be opening up Marketplace for more devices. For tablets it's kind of a certain. But still, will Google allow even the cheapest ARM9 Tablets full access to Honeycomb OS and Marketplace? Honeycomb for Laptops is a possibility. Honeycomb for e-ink e-readers, maybe.

In any case, it's kind of sad that it took Google more than 2 years to open up Google Marketplace for more devices. This has let Apple all alone in the market of iPad and iPod Touch.

3. Campaign for Net Neutrality on wireless networks for VOIP access. There has been a lot of rage on the blogosphere about Google's partnership with Verizon in the USA leading up to a Net Neutrality proposal that exempted wireless networks.

It is understandable that bandwidth on wireless networks such as 3G, 4G and LTE have to be managed because it only takes a few users to download some BitTorrents at full speed on one base station for a whole area of up to 1km in diameter where users might experience dropped calls and the like. As far as I understand, even for LTE, bandwidth is limited, although it could be argued that carriers should then just build more base stations closer to users, if they do spend significant money to expand their networks or not, it's understandable that wireless networks need to be throttled somehow.

But, that should absolutely not allow carriers to block voice-over-IP usage. That is pure evil. Wireless bandwidth shall be used HOWEVER the user wants to use it. If carriers don't like the idea of becoming dumb pipes of data, that is their problem. They should have considered that possibility when they decided to become carriers.

Carriers have made enough trillions of dollars of profit already, not for them to justify that they should be allowed to continue to gouge the consumer of thousands of dollars per year in completely data bandwidth prices. When you consider the price of 1MB of SMS messages sent costs about $10'000 to the consumer. We are in the year 2011, 1MB of wireless data SHALL NOT cost $10'000 to the consumer.

4. Destroy Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Foursquare and other over-hyped social networks and location based services. This is a call from a user who gets tired of these boring, unoptimized, wastefull, meaningless excuses for social networking and location based services. What a waste of time! Google has to fix this now!

Twitter only benefits famous people. That's why they keep talking about it. For 99% of users, twitter is absolutely useless, for anything else than to follow whichever famous person you like following, in lists of garbled, meaningless, unoptimized, spammy, messy 140-character messages. Make it stop, please.

Facebook is the newer type of Myspace that is a trend in high schools globally. It's for not much more than grouping school kids together and have them waste time on farmville, a tool for massive stalking of a bunch of people you never spoke to for 10 years or more. Make it stop, please.

Social networking will be extremely useful eventually. Location based services will revolutionize everything that we do. Just not in those forms. Google needs to make a social network with location services in a way that absolutely makes sense. Make it so people get to do constructive things in the world, people move more, do more things, people get to be more productive, meet more people. End the global era of wasted opportunities, wasted efforts, mutual disdain, rejection and loneliness that can be felt by everyone.

Social networking that makes sense changes organizations, it changes companies, it changes communities, it changes countries. It auto-regulates humans use of global resources and actually makes democracy work.

Yeah those may be high hopes for Google's social network, but who else than a company of the worlds top 24 thousand Phd software engineers can we rely upon to make this work?

5. Merge Android, Chrome OS and Google TV into one ARM Powered software platform. Google needs to focus on bringing the full Chrome browser on top of Android, provide it with full Google TV features, make it all boot on one ultra optimized ARM Powered software OS image. Read my previous post "Recipe for the ultimate ARM Powered device" for more on how this all-in-one software should work.

6. Bring Internet access to the next billion people faster. It's all good how Android is taking over the smartphone market. It eventually does bring cheaper Android devices mostly made by Chinese vendors themselves. Still it is not going fast enough. Google should make it a priority that a $50 Unlocked Android Phones shall become available globally. Google should invest billions of dollars in One Laptop Per Child, have it run open source software that is supported by millions of people. Reaching the $75 Tablet should be a priority. Invest billions of dollars in Pixel Qi to mass produce their screens as fast as possible, make sure all devices can last 10 times longer on a battery as soon as possible.

The thing is western countries have a lot of electrical power so they don't care enough about not having to recharge a 2300mAh battery every night. Consumers in wester countries don't care enough about the price of the smartphone as most are still buying smartphones subsidized by a carrier who charges upwards $3000 in 2-year contracts that for example most Americans feel are natural thing to sign up for when getting a smartphone.

Getting mobile computing to the next billion people within 2-3 years should be a priority for Google, and if that risks to disrupt the actual business models of the carriers in developed countries by the availability of $50 unlocked Super Phones, $75 Tablet/E-readers and $100 Laptops in every super market, so be it.

7. Monetize independent web video production and make VOD the worldwide standard through YouTube and Google TV. YouTube has already become the worlds largest bandwidth infrastructure, streaming out more than 2 billion video streams per day, hosting and encoding all the worlds video, it's impressive. Yet, Google now has the opportunity to reach much further and completely monetize YouTube. The YouTube Partnership system is a drop in the bucket compared to what they should do. I'm not allowed to become a YouTube Partner even though I have over 12 million video views (including what I put on other channels and what I had put on Google Video), the reason being Google only allowes residents of G20 countries access to even apply to become a YouTube Partner.

Of those that are conservatively monetizing YouTube video views with overlay advertising, they could do so much more. Why not provide a one-click donation button under every video, on every channel page to allow viewers to sponsor the future productions of their favorite content creators? Why not embed price comparison links with commission payments on one-click sales under every video that talks about a product that can be bought by interested viewers? Why doesn't Google provide a global subscription plan à la Hulu, but where it gives access to much more than just established Hollywood/TV contents, but where it also monetizes ads-free or higher definition viewing of all independent content? Why doesn't YouTube offer pay-per-view solutions worldwide, for example, let viewers choose to pay very small amount of money to get a direct link to download any of the videos as an uncompressed video file or on-demand encoded to chosen codec and bitrate/resolutions?

YouTube needs to become much more than the worlds biggest bandwidth infrastructure project. YouTube has to become Google's biggest source of revenues and profits. It needs to become a tool that changes media and ultimately that improves democracy.

What do you think Google should do now that they have a new CEO? Post in the comments.

Recipe for the ultimate ARM Powered device

Posted by Charbax – January 19, 2011

Android + Chrome OS + Google TV = All-in-one ultimate gadget.

The Motorola Atrix 4G gives us a taste of what's coming. You get one pocketable product, that is, up to 5" for normal pocket (passport sized), and up to 7" for jacket pocket (you'll see, almost every jacket comes with such a pocket), for this summer I think up to 5" is the more likely size but for next Christmas sales the 7" size may win, that device runs full speed Android no slow downs, and when docked to Desktop/HDTV Dock it outputs either Chrome OS for productivity or Google TV for entertainment depending on which mode the user wants to use, and also have this solution power the laptop dock.

Ultimate Pricing

- The ARM Powered brains, basically modular Android Tablet should not cost more than $200 at retail this year. Might add $50 for built-in 3G/4G modem. White Space support this year would be good if built in the FON.com model. If someone could miniaturize a reliable swappable and optional 3G/4G/White Space modem module that could be slided into the back of the device, including easily accessible SIM card reader in there, that could be nice. This way the same product is sold worldwide and the unlocked cellular modem would be an optional accessory that could be purchased for $50 separately.

- Desktop/HDTV Dock should be no more than $50. It's just a bunch of connectors. Full Google TV support could also include HDMI input and IR Blaster in that Dock, as well as the multimedia RF remote. Ports should include at least 3x USB host, 1x HDMI, 1x mini jack input, 1x mini-jack output, 1x optical audio output.

- Laptop Dock should be no more than $100, include super good quality 10.1" Pixel Qi screen, capacitive touch, so this also turns this into a 10.1" Tablet.

Fast enough ARM Processors to do it all-in-one.

The ARM Cortex-A9 powering this device should have fast enough memory bandwidth, fast enough I/O, built in a way that it is fully fast enough to run dozens of tabs at the same time in Chrome OS mode, the overlaying features of Google TV mode should have to support full dual-view with overlays when using HDMI pass-through and support all codecs at fully highest bitrates and highest profiles 1080p 60 frames per second.

This may mean that the current Tegra2 in Motorola Atrix 4G may not be fast enough, but that this ultimate product may need to use the upcoming Texas Instruments OMAP4430 (as in Blackberry Playbook), Qualcomm Dual-Core MSM8660 Snapdragon (as in Asus Memo), Samsung Orion (as potentially in Samsung Galaxy S2/Tab2) and let's see/analyse performance and availability of the upcoming Freescale i.MX6, Marvell Tricore, Nvidia Tegra3. Someone knows how Amlogic's ARM Cortex-A9, Nufront's ARM Cortex-A9 and others may perform comparatively? I'm looking forward to post or find web browsing, video playback, battery runtime and pricing benchmarks testings to be done comparing the performance of all these next generation ARM Processor platforms.

Waiting for Google's software

The main problem for a platform maker at this point, is that Google has not yet released Honeycomb source code, not yet released Chrome OS for ARM, not yet released Google TV for ARM, thus a gadget maker not having real-time access to Google's software R&D offices, would have to anticipate this evolution and prepare an all-in-one tablet/smartphone solution that would be compatible with integration of these multi-booting software convergence solutions once Google releases them within the next few months. I don't know for sure how such Atrix 4G like solution would have to work, if each of the Android, Chrome OS and Google TV have to boot all at the same time offering instant swapping between one or the other OS in the user interfaces, or if all 3 of these OS have to be merged somehow first for this to work in an optimal way. Please post in the comments if you know how Motorola does it on Atrix 4G and how this using Android+Chrome+GTV has to work.

My favorite size would be the tablet using the 7" Pixel Qi screen, allowing for smaller battery thus 200grams super light weight and thin form factor, the laptop dock should somehow allow for the tablet to be docked on the side of the 10.1", 11.6" or larger screen, thus actually extending the screen surface, you can thus touch the tablet part and work on the laptop screen. Basically the Laptop Dock could be like shown by Motorola where the pocketable tablet is either behind the laptop screen, but should be with a swivel to be positionned upright next to the laptop screen. Thus this device combines Tablet, E-reader, Mobile Phone, Laptop and Set-top-box functionality all into one.

Non-free, non-open-source alternatives to Android+Chrome+GTV? Fine.

- Someone in the industry thinks they can do it better than Android? Fine. They can try to put RIM's Playbook OS, HP's WebOS, Apple's iOS, Microsoft's WP7 or Nokia's Meego on there if they think that is better or they feel they need to differentiate.

- Someone in the industry thinks another browser than Chrome is better? Fine. Like Motorola does Atrix 4G for now with Mozilla Firefox, Opera might have another browser solution, there's Webkit, IE. All that matters is we get a full speed full resolution ARM Powered web browsing experience with flash and support for all HTML5 web standards including offline web apps, the Native Code and WebGL stuff coming out.

- Someone in the industry think they can do better than Google TV on ARM? Fine. They can load another media player UI on there if they want. Just make sure the user can sit back on a sofa, use a full sized RF keyboard on the USB host, and get near-instant access to all the IPTV, all the VOD, all BitTorrent/RSS downloads, with full codecs support up to 1080p60fps full bitrates, with full NTFS/ETX3 usb hard drive support, full Samba/Upnp/Dlna support, full YouTube 1080p leanback playback and more. Easy plugins for Netflix/Hulu and more is obvious as well. All the while, still sitting in the sofa with that keyboard or fancy lean back mouse pointer, and have a full overlay web experience on top of the video as well, launching overlay apps for chatting, finding other videos, looking up informations, tweeting, video-conferencing and all other features that could be imagined to be done in the living room HDTV.

Who invented this ARM Powered ultimate convergence device?

By the way, this taste of ultimate convergence is not a Motorola invention, although they may be the first to show a sleek ARM Cortex-A9 integration, Archos has been crazy about docks for many years and I'm one of the original Archos Fans (see my other site http://forum.archosfans.com). Archos made the first color screen PMP JBMM20 with Camera/DVR Docks and video outputs 9 years ago, the first embedded Linux Tablet PMA400 (then running Qtopia Linux) 5 years ago, the first Android Tablet Archos 5 Internet Tablet with HDMI 720p Android Dock over a year ago. And Archos has always booted their multimedia OS in parallel with the embedded Linux and more recently Android stuff, both in parallel, thus providing the best of both OS in one same device. But now I believe ARM Cortex-A9 provides enough performance and Google's software is maturing fast enough so I think Archos and the rest of the industry is able to work towards this dream of an all-in-one device.

Expectations for CES next week

Posted by Charbax – December 30, 2010

Between January 3rd and 11th, I am going to video-blog from CES 2011, make sure to often refresh my RSS feed and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel, (at last year's CES I published 75 videos), I'll try to feature the coolest ARM Powered devices that I can find at the show.

Have you got any scoop or ideas for what I should video-blog at CES? What questions would you like me to ask the representatives of which specific companies? If you read on any other blogs about any interesting products showing at this CES, please post your suggestions for what I should film here in the comments of this post. You can also send me an email: charbax@gmail.com or you can even sms/call me or leave a voicemail between January 3rd and 11th at my US phone number +1 (702) 238 8630 (only active when I am in the USA).

Here are some of the things I am expecting or hoping to video-blog at CES:

- Lots of Froyo, Gingerbread and Honeycomb stuff. Android in everything!

- Several dual-core tablets are rumored. Nvidia's Tegra2 is rumored could be one of the stars of the show, rumored to be the "reference design" for Honeycomb. Sounds great, but I am also looking forward to all the other upcoming Dual-Core ARM Processor platforms and I am wondering if products featuring these will be shown at this CES already.

- How soon are the Dual-Core smart phones and tablets being released and at what prices? Will LG, Samsung, Motorola or other present phones at CES to beat Nexus S already?

- ARM Powered Chrome OS Laptops and Google TV Set-top-boxes, I will be looking for the first clues of these products.

- Tablets, more tablets? Any new design features to allow tablets to be used more for productivity? Are some Honeycomb designs like Archos without the hardware Android buttons? Designs with foldable/swivel keyboards?

- Pixel Qi 7", 10.1", big OEM announcements? Hopefully these LCD screens will be ready for Kindle-LCD, ipad2, samsung galaxy tab2 and more hopefully mass manufactured and everywhere within the next 3 months.

- Texas Instruments next generation nHD pico projector in all kinds of phones, tablets and other devices at CES? Or not to be shown before February at Mobil World Congress? I'd like to see this type of pico projector be used together with sensors to detect when touching in user interfaces projected for example on a table (see my video of a table-pico-projector prototype UI demonstrated at CeBIT 2007), this could turn any ARM Powered device, even pocketable, into a large screen computing device.

- New ARM Powered platforms for cheaper and better smart phones, tablets and laptops? Rockchip may show ARM Cortex-A8 RK29xx, Broadcom may show BCM2157 for sub-$75 Android phones, is it time for VIA and Telechips to show new faster or/and cheaper solutions for new cooler low-cost Tablets, Laptops and Set-top-boxes?

- Are the new ARM Processors capable of full 1080p at up to 60fps with full high profile and full high bitrates of every codecs?

- Nintendo 3DS is coming in February/March, any other manufacturers to mass manufacture products to use that parallax barrier 3D screen from Sharp that doesn't require 3D glasses?

- Are ARM Powered NAS boxes and Pogoplugs/Sheevaplugs going to be powerful enough to download and seed BitTorrents at full speed, allow for full speed gigabit LAN file sharing even on the cheaper solutions?

- How much is going to be LTE, how soon and are anyone showing anything to do with White Spaces yet? How soon could that be deployed and at which cost and with what range and authentication features?

- I'd like to see Sanyo release a HD3000 with WiFi/Bluetooth and optics and sensors closer to that of a DSLR. Or it will be interesting to see more DSLR type optics and sensors in more video camcorders and see how affordable those setups can become. It seems Sony, Panasonic and all other major camera makers are going in that direction for the next generation of best HD camcorders.

Please post your expecations/hopes in the comments or send me an email!

The Dual-Core ARM Powered products are coming

Posted by Charbax – December 22, 2010

Buy a Gingerbread Nexus S now or wait for Dual-Core Android? That is the question early adopters have.

Nearly a year ago, Nvidia unveiled its awesome Tegra 2 platform at CES, I was there and I filmed it (2), (3). It took a while for Nvidia and its manufacturing partners to start bringing actual products with Nvidia's Tegra 2 ARM Cortex-A9 processor onto the market. Possible delays may have been due to manufacturing problems or a wait for stabilized software, new versions of Android and Flash to support this new type of Dual-Core processor.

Other Dual-Core processors are about to reach products in the market as well:
- Texas Instruments OMAP4430 1Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 based products will be introduced in products to the market soon.
- Qualcomm MSM8660 or faster Dual-Core Snapdragon platform may be imminent.
- Marvell Armada 628 Tri-Core platform available in products soon offers upwards 200 million triangles per second.
- Samsung Orion with Mali-400 was unveiled last month (2), will probably show in products within months. Although some rumors also say Samsung may be using the Tegra 2 platform for some products to be shown even earlier.
- ST-Ericsson is working with Nokia to release some Dual-Core Meego devices probably soon.
- Nufront are releasing their Nufront ARM Cortex-A9 for Laptops and Desktops.

Google may focus on Tegra 2 for Honeycomb as some rumors are saying, just as Google prioritized their "Reference designs" like this:
Eclair + Froyo: Snapdragon (Nexus One)
Gingerbread: Hummingbird (Nexus S)
Honeycomb: Tegra 2 (Motorola's upcoming Tablet)

A "reference design" to Google basically means the actual development hardware Google engineers work on to get their new software released. Though I expect Google and the Open Handset Alliance to bring-up Gingerbread and Honeycomb about as fast on all other Single-Core and Dual-Core platforms as well, just as Froyo got ready on all the other platforms relatively fast.

Dual-Core ARM Processors are probably also what we need for Chrome OS and Ubuntu powered Laptops and Google TV Powered set-top-boxes.