On a packed day at the CES show, Microsoft showed off the 4G Nokia Lumia 900, BlackBerry promised an email app for the PlayBook next month, while Sony showed off its first solo phone.
Microsoft Reveals Windows 8 Public Beta and new 4G Phone
After the tablet frenzy yesterday, smartphones were the big news at CES, where stories break in the oddest of places. Among Microsoft's tweet-singing choir came news of the Lumia 900, while Sony was bragging about PlayStation and Bravia, it let loose the company's first sole effort, while everyone else was shouting their best specs to grab some attention.
At Microsoft's last big appearance at CES, with a Steve Ballmer keynote, there wasn't a great one-last-thing moment. In fact there wasn't much in the way of major new news, one of the reasons Microsoft is pulling out of the show. However, it did show off the much mooted Nokia Lumia 900, a bigger, 4G network version of the out-in-Europe Lumia 800.
The Lumia 900 goes straight to the top of Nokia's hot list
The Lumia 900 will lead the Windows Phone 7 charge in North America with its 4.3" AMOLED screen and could help push Windows devices back up the smartphone rankings. Among Microsoft's other news was confirmation of a public Windows 8 beta, probably in February.
BlackBerry Finally Joins the Email Game
How ironic it is that the company which largely brought email to the smartphone will be pretty much the last to bring it to the tablet. RIM has promised an OS upgrade to ship in February that will finally add a native email app for the PlayBook.
Sure, it will offer a unified inbox and rich text editing, plus contact and calendar functionality, and can access your Facebook events and other calendars, but it all way looks too little, way too late. As a bonus to suffering RIM users, the PlayBook will be able to access the Android app store, boosting the tablet's utility. Still, with no new next-gen phones on the horizon, RIM will be struggling to remain on anyone's radar.
Sony Breaks Free
After escaping its Ericsson partnership, Sony can now go it along with its smartphone plans. First up is the Xperia S, a high-end phone with a 12 megapixel camera, dual core 1.5GHz processor, HDMI-out and PlayStation certification, meaning it can play classic Sony games.
Sony goes its own way with a sleek smartphone design
This model will initially ship with plain old Android 2.3, but should be well up the line for a quick update to Android 4.0. While Sony might have thought its phone had hot specs, HTC quickly topped that with a Windows Phone Titan 2 device offering a 16megapixel camera and a 4.7" screen.
Specs, Market Shares and Budgets
While the spec war will meet a largely indifferent consumer audience (who really uses ludicrous res smartphone snaps exactly?) Everyone will be trying to shake up the market to dislodge a few percentage points from their rivals.
Outside of phones, Intel has promised its largest marketing budget since 2003 to try and help launch the ultrabook market. In a nod to the old PC market, Samsung is introducing HDTVs with swappable components to allow for hardware upgrades and Microsoft's Kinect motion/voice sensor for Xbox will finally be available for Windows users in February.