Weekly wrapup, 11-15 Feb 2008

Here’s a summary of the week’s digital lifestyle action on last100. Note that you can subscribe to the weekly wrapups, either via the special weekly wrapup RSS feed or by email.

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Mobile World CongressThis week saw the Mobile World Congress (MWC) take place in Barcelona, and as a result there was lots of news and announcements related to mobile. The biggest of which is that Microsoft is purchasing Danger Inc., makers of the consumer smart phone known as Sidekick. The move is a clear signal by Microsoft that, perhaps following the success of the iPhone, the company is to enter the consumer smart phone market. Whether this will be through rolling out a software platform for existing hardware partners or involve Microsoft building a device of their own is yet to be seen (Zune phone anyone?).

In more Microsoft-related news, Sony Ericsson announced a very slick looking new smart phone running Windows Mobile. The EXPERIA X1, available in the second half of 2008, is described as a “premium experience of energized communication”, and features a 3-inch VGA touch screen display, full QWERTY keyboard, in a metal-finish “arc-slider” design.

MWC also saw lots of GPhone buzz as a number companies unveiled prototypes of Android, Google’s highly anticipated, open-source operating system. But rather than showing off sleek, sexy cell phones, with a super-fast OS running groundbreaking applications, attendees were treated to reality. Daniel Langendorf writes: “Android, for now, is mostly a bunch of circuit boards, displays, solder, prototype phones, and alpha applications intended to show the mobile world that yes, in fact, Android and the so-called Gphones do exist and, to some degree, work. They’re not vaporware.”

However, somewhat ironically since Apple wasn’t actually present at the event, MWC was, to some extent, dominated by talk of the iPhone. “With the exception of Nokia, we get the sense after the Mobile World Congress that handset manufacturers, the wireless carriers, those working on the Google-led Android initiative, and the others toiling on alternative products (like the LiMo Foundation’s open-source OS project and the Modu modular cell phone) are rushing to play catchup . . .”

In Internet TV news, we reported on two interesting Netflix developments. In a post titled ‘Netflix on PS3, XBox 360 – pipe dream or in the pipeline?‘, we wrote about some very specific market research being conducted by the company with regards to its Internet TV service being delivered on Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s XBox 360.

An online survey asks: “If as part of your Netflix membership you could instantly watch movies and TV episodes on your TV with your PS/3 or XBOX 360, how likely would you/anyone in your household be to do that?”

Our answer: pretty darn likely.

We also reported on the MyNetFlix plugin for the Vista version of Media Center, developed by Andrew Park, that enables many aspects of a Netflix account to be accessed from within Media Center’s “10-foot” User Interface (suitable for viewing on a television). Features include browsing Netflix’s DVD library, editing your Netflix queue, viewing your rental history/DVD recommendations, and accessing the “Watch Now” streaming service.

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This week also saw the arrival of AppleTV Take 2, the previously announced (and delayed) update to Apple’s set-top box. Dan Langendorf takes the new software for a spin:

All in all, the AppleTV Take 2 upgrade is a solid improvement and puts Apple back into the game. But it took an awfully long time to get here, much longer than it should have.

Apple cannot wait another 330 days for the next upgrade, or it will be buried by Microsoft, TiVo, Netflix and others who continue to inch forward on a regular basis. Perhaps the recent patent filing by Apple hints at what’s next for the AppleTV?

That’s a wrap! Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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