Wow, another week has come and gone, just like that! By this time next week, the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show will be winding down in Las Vegas and we’ll all be giddy about the new stuff to look forward to later this year (or alternately, seriously depressed that we can’t afford it). But before you get a full-on dose of CES fever all next week, it’s time to hunker down and ingest some of the tech news that’s making waves on this fine Friday, January 6, 2012.
Yawn: Rumor Claims iPad 3 in March, iPad 4 in October
It would seem that the Apple rumor mill is ready to go into repeats of last year’s successful season prematurely. According to DigiTimes — whose track record with these things is spotty at best — Apple will apparently ship the iPad 3 we all want in March, including “a full HD display,” while saving an even better model they’re calling the iPad 4 for October to compete with Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch, which will be offered on a wide variety of tablets. This is almost exactly what the rumor mill called up last year, with claims that the iPad 2 would be released last March and an HD iPad 3 later in the fall, so you’d do well to take this with a heaping grain of salt to be sure. According to Taiwanese component makers, the iPad 3 “will come with a QXGA (1,536×2,048 pixels) display and longer battery life,” although little is said about the rumored iPad 4. The one thing in the DigiTimes report that does make sense is that Apple will keep the iPad 2 around at a lower price point (9) when the iPad 3 is introduced, which makes total sense to us.
Free iPhone 4S? China Unicom Has Them
Americans are used to free mobile phones when they sign a two-year agreement, but a brand-new iPhone 4S is just crazy talk… right? According to BusinessWeek, not really — assuming, that is, that you live in an area of mainland China covered by China Unicom, the country’s second-largest carrier. Beginning January 13, China Unicom is offering a free 16GB iPhone 4S for customers who sign up for a two-year agreement which costs as little as 286 yuan () per month. High rollers can also opt for a 32GB model, but you’ll need to commit for three years instead. Any way you slice it, that’s a pretty amazing deal, especially considering China Unicom is the only one of the country’s three wireless carriers to offer the iPhone — so it’s not like they have to compete with anyone on price.
Steam Closes 2011 with Seventh Year of 100 Percent Unit Sales Growth
The Mac|Life crew loves them some Steam, so we were encouraged to hear word from online gaming company Valve today that we weren’t alone. According to their press release, 2011 was a banner year for the Steam platform on the Mac and PC, with more than 1,800 games served up to more than 40 million accounts. For the seventh straight year, units sales increased by more than 100 percent, and during the company’s year-end Holiday Sale, Steam had more than five million simultaneous users playing at once. So how much data does all of this activity amount to? Steam doubled the amount of data served between 2010 and 2011 for a whopping 780 petabytes of data tossed all over the world. Thankfully, the company also doubled its service capacity at the same time, making tweaks to improve user download rates at the same time. The company is now looking ahead to 2012, when it undoubtedly hopes to top last year’s boffo figures.
Report: Target May Get Apple “Store Within a Store” This Year
Apple has apparently had success with their “store within a store” concept at Best Buy, with AppleInsider now reporting that Cupertino may introduce the idea to “select Target locations later thus year, enabling the company to expand its retail reach into smaller metro areas.” According to the usual “source familiar with Apple’s plans,” the mini-stores would launch in 25 larger Target stores “in locations which can’t support a standalone Apple Store.” Needless to say, that’s a drop in the bucket considering Target has 1,752 stores across the United States, but Best Buy currently has 600 locations with so-called “Apple Shops” out of its 1,000 total stores, so the concept could expand quickly if successful.
Study Shows Siri Doubling iPhone Data Consumption
A new report from Reuters is claiming that iPhone 4S data consumption is on average double that of the iPhone 4, with a study from “telecom network technology firm” Arieso pointing most of the blame in Siri’s direction. It’s no big stretch to assume that data use on a new smartphone is on the rise, with the research firm claiming that iPhone 4S users “transfer on average three times more data than users of the older iPhone 3G model.” That’s kind of a skewed metric if you ask us, since there were far less data-hungry apps when the iPhone 3G — and the shiny new App Store — were first introduced in July, 2008. But for whatever reason, Siri is taking the brunt of the study’s blame for sucking down bandwidth. “I use the iPhone 4 myself and when I first heard of the iPhone 4S features I was not compelled to rush out and get one. However, the data usage numbers I am seeing make me wonder what I am missing,” said Arieso’s chief technology officer, Michael Flanagan. Needless to say, the problem is only going to get worse as more and more smartphones are sold…
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