STLR Link Roundup – July 24, 2013

Moto X Coming August 1

Motorola, the recently acquired mobile hardware unit of Google, is set to unveil its new family of smartphones at a Moto X Event in New York City on August 1.  Android Police provides a complete list of confirmed specs for the Moto X, including a 4.7 inch-display (1280×720 resolution), 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, running Android OS 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.  Other leaked information also confirms that the phone is fully assembled in the U.S., staying true to Motorola’s “Made in the USA” promise. The company has much riding on the media buzz generated by the Moto X’s upcoming release since insiders report that Google will spend close to $500 million in advertising, about half of Apple’s entire marketing budget. The Google division posted a $342 million loss in profits during its fiscal second quarter of 2013.

Microsoft’s Surface Sinks and Stock Drops

Microsoft’s stock took a significant downward hit on Friday after the company’s fiscal fourth quarter earnings fell short of market expectations.  Microsoft reported increases to both net income and sales but the figures were still lower than what analysts had forecasted.  The weak results were in part attributed to a massive $900 million write-down, equivalent to 7 cents per share, of Microsoft’s Surface RT inventory.  This “inventory adjustment” captured the recent $150 price cut to all Surface devices. The Surface RT with 32 GB of storage now sells for $349, down from a launch price of $499. The 64 GB version now costs $449, down from the original price of $599. While many industry watchers doubted the product’s success from the onset, more reports now confirm that the Surface RT was a major flop.

New Mars Rover to Launch in 2020

NASA officials released plans for its new Mars rover, set to launch in 2020.  The Mars 2020 rover will be equipped to find evidence of past, not present-day, microbial life and collect sediment samples to bring back to Earth.  The current blueprint for this rover incorporates the basic framework of NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars last August also to hunt for microbial life. The mission is projected to cost $1.5 billion, plus launch costs. More details on the exploration are provided in the report compiled by the Mars Rover 2020 Science Definition Team.

iPod, iPhone . . . iWatch?

Could Apple’s next product launch be the iWatch? This month the tech giant registered a trademark for “iWatch” in several countries, including Taiwan, Mexico, Turkey, Jamaica, Japan, and Russia.  Rumors of Apple’s venture into the wearable device space surfaced after Apple Insider discovered that it submitted a patent application for a slap bracelet equipped with a flexible touchscreen display with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  However, there’s also the possibility that the term refers to a completely different product or that, given its history, Apple abandons the idea before its release.

Google Glass Explorers Sound off

In April 2013, Google announced the first distribution wave of Google Glass, its highly anticipated wearable computer device, to the 8,000 “Explorers” chosen to purchase a test version before its wide release in late 2013 or 2014.  Together with the 2,000 developers selected to pre-order the prototype, these early adopters are now rolling out with their reviews of the futuristic specs. Danny Sullivan of CNET found the device to be “useful and cool” overall, noting that onlookers stared in amazement at Glass rather than being put off by any privacy concerns. Charles Arthur of the Guardian liked the appeal of “Hands-free Googling” but ultimately expected a lot more from Glass. But at the $1,500 price tag for the Explorer Edition Glass, Robert Miller of Internet Evolution concluded that the money would be better spent somewhere else. Fortunately for the general public, most Explorers agree that the retail price of Glass will be nowhere near the Explorer price but closer to what other Glass-like products cost now in the market. If this gadget wasn’t on your radar until now, this report provides the latest on what you need to know about Google Glass.

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