Thursday, August 19, 2010

Will Google Drop a Chromlet on Black Friday?

Months ago, Google promised a mini-computer running the Chrome operating system would hit the market by the 2010 holiday season, and the Download Squad may have uncovered new details about the device. It will supposedly be a tablet with 2 GB of RAM and 3G abilities. However, Google's other OS, Android, is the one with the app momentum, and both are under the cloud of Oracle's litigation.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) will launch a Chrome OS tablet on the Verizon network Nov. 26, know to retailers as "Black Friday," according to the Download Squad.
The device is being built by HTC, a company that's made several Android devices in the past.

If true, the move will fulfill Google's announcement earlier this year that it would launch Chrome OS tablets in time for the holiday season.

However, it's not yet clear how Chrome OS tablets will coexist with those running the Android operating system, which is also offered by Google. Will they be targeted at different markets?

Also, could Oracle's (Nasdaq: ORCL) lawsuit against Google hamper sales of Chrome tablets?
Suggested Chrome Tablet Specs

The rumored Chrome OS tablet will likely be based on Nvidia's (Nasdaq: NVDA) Tegra 2 platform, Download Squad speculated.

The Tegra is Nvidia's low-power HD processor for mobile devices. It has eight separate processors, including an ARM (Nasdaq: ARMHY) CPU and separate graphics and HD video processors.

The Chrome OS tablet will reportedly have a 1,280-by-720 multitouch display, 2 GB of RAM, at least a 32 GB solid state drive, GPS, a webcam and possibly expandable storage through a multi-card reader. For connectivity, it will reportedly have WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G capabilities.

Back in December 2009, IBTimes listed the specs of a Google Chrome netbook it said was in the works. This would have a 10.1-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) multitouch display which would be HD-ready, a 64 GB solid state drive, 2 GB of RAM, a webcam, a multi-card reader and WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth and Ethernet capabilities as well as USB ports, according to IBTimes.

Speculation was that this netbook would be offered at less than US$300.

"I expect the product to be very raw, more of a late beta than a true final product for some time, but for some, and I'm likely in that group myself, that can actually be OK, given that we like being the first to try stuff out," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

"This is a taste of a product that won't really be ready until mid-2011," Enderle added.

"It would be better if Google launched the tablet earlier, but people are buying later now than they did in the past, so Google could still do well as long as the tablet's available for shipping after the launch," Maribel Lopez, principal analyst and founder of Lopez Research, told TechNewsWorld.
Keeping Promises

Google first announced plans to build a netbook running the Chrome OS back in November of 2009 when it opened the source code for the operating system to developers.

At that time, Sunder Pichai, vice president of product management of Google, said the Internet giant would have these netbooks ready for the 2010 holiday season.

The first batch of these netbooks would be offered as companions to users' existing PCs, and would focus on entertainment. Pichai said owners would be able to play videos and games on them, as well as read books.

At that time, Pichai also said the Chrome OS would be tweaked before it was put on devices going to retailers' shelves.

Last week, Google tweaked the Chrome OS twice. On Aug. 11, it unveiled a beta release that included new features such as Autofill and the ability to let users sync Chrome extensions and Autofill data through their Google accounts.

Google also tweaked the Chrome browsers user interface. The new beta release is faster than its predecessor, Google said.

On Aug. 12, Google announced a new Chrome to Phone extension that lets users send the current Web page, map, YouTube videos, selected phone numbers or text from their PCs to mobile devices running Android 2.2, also known as "Froyo."

Google declined to elaborate on the reports of an upcoming Chrome tablet launch.

"We do not comment on rumor or speculation," spokesperson Gina Weakley told TechNewsWorld.
But What About Android?

Manufacturers are racing ahead with Android-based tablets. For example, Samsung will reportedly show off the P1000 Galaxy Tab Android tablet at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin next month.

Dell's (Nasdaq: DELL) Android-based Streak tablet hit retail shelves Aug. 13, and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced its Cius Android tablet back in June. Archos has offered an Android tablet, the Archos 7, since March.

LG has announced plans to release an Android tablet in the fourth quarter of this year, and several other manufacturers have plans to release Android tablets.

What will happen to Android tablets now that Google is offering Chrome devices?

"I'm not sure about the difference between Android and Chrome and how they intersect," Andrew Eisner, director of community and content at Retrevo, told TechNewsWorld. "Will Android apps run on Chrome?"

Apps are the key to success in the mobile market, and Chrome's compatibility with Android apps is a make-or-break issue, he said.

"Android seems set to get a critical mass of apps, and that makes Android smartphones very attractive," Eisner pointed out.
To Have and Have Not

More Chrome and Android tablets are likely to hit the market. However, that market may be roiled by the shadow of Oracle's lawsuit, which hangs heavy over tablets running Android and Chrome. Oracle is suing Google claiming that the Java engine used in Android infringes on the patents it picked up in its acquisition of Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA).

"Be aware that, just like Android, Chrome is likely to infringe on Oracle's patents and that could prove problematic," Enderle warned.

Bogus Dislike Button Plagues Hapless Facebook Users

Facebook users are on the horns of a dilemma: Blindly give away their personal information to any third-party app that interests them, or hoard their personal information and steer clear of all third-party apps. Facebook either can't or won't tell users which apps are safe and which are scams, so it's apparently a case of Networker Beware.
How many times have we all seen comments like this on a Facebook status update: "Not like, but dislike," or "I'd press Dislike if there was a button." It's a common complaint about the social networking site's comment options; one can press the "Like" button to give a thumbs-up to a friend's post, but there is no analogous "Dislike" button.
Now, enterprising scammers have taken advantage of that desire and built a Facebook app that not only lures users with the prospect of adding a Dislike button, but also gleans personal information and even uses a fake survey to add a US$5-per-month surcharge to unsuspecting users' mobile phone bills.

The app eventually links to the apparently innocuous and legitimate Firefox add-on Dislike button distributed by FaceMod. For its part, FaceMod says that it has no part of the survey or mobile phone surcharge scam.
Charging for Free Add-On

The app, one of the many termed "rogue" by the security community, uses the temptation of exclusive or eye-popping content to trick Facebook users into permitting access to their profile data. It then posts a spam status update to the user's page advertising the scam, with this wording: "I just got the Dislike button, so now I can dislike all of your dumb posts lol!!"

Before that post appears, though, users are asked to fill out a marketing survey with seemingly legitimate questions, such as what they like to do for fun. They then are given the opportunity to provide a mobile phone number. If they don't read the very fine print, they are then slapped with that $5 charge per month for the app.

Many don't know that the FaceMod Dislike button app actually is available for free through the Mozilla add-on tool.
Who's at Fault?

The question for many is what Facebook chooses to do when such scams take the viral route through its user community -- and why. A post to the Facebook Security page states, "beware of the fake Facebook 'dislike' button. As always, we advise you not to click on suspicious links on Facebook."

Of course, it can be difficult to determine what exactly is a suspicious link when experts at malicious social engineering go to great lengths to make such links appear to be on the up-and-up.

"Facebook's primary concern has not been protecting users," Jennifer Golbeck, assistant professor of information studies at the University of Maryland, told TechNewsWorld.

While people who venture onto social networking sites need to be more aware of privacy issues and how to monitor who has access to their information, she noted, it can be very difficult in the context of a site such as Facebook that itself changes privacy settings frequently.

For example, the recent switch to the "Like" button for groups, versus joining a particular group, exposed a great deal of information about people's personal interests by displaying those groups on a person's "Like" list automatically, she pointed out.

However, Facebook may be doing the best it can without creating a bottleneck in app development, Beth Jones, senior security analyst with Sophos, told TechNewsWorld.

"In my opinion, it seems a bit of a no-win situation for Facebook," Jones explained. "If they started checking every application's code, they would get extremely bogged down, and they would lose their competitive edge. Apps would be very slow to roll out, and users would get frustrated and leave."
We Have the Technology

Still, Facebook does have -- and always has had -- the ability to block third-party applications from its site. It takes a strong stand against some particularly egregious efforts to glean information, such as the data torrent that security consultant Ron Bowes aggregated from Facebook profiles recently.

"Though I'm not an engineer, I can imagine the site can guard against large-scale efforts to capture user data," Greg Sterling, founder and principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, told TechNewsWorld.

In fact, Facebook published very specific policies for app developers earlier this year. Its "Developer Principles and Policies" document was modified in March to specifically restrict apps from publishing a story to a user's Feed without that user's explicit consent, through a checkbox, that indicates that content will be shared.

The spam message that virally advertises the "Dislike" button appears to be in direct violation of Facebook's app policies.

Google Gets Playful With Facebook Rivalry

Facebook has taken on the sheen of invulnerability with its half a billion strong membership, but one company that could possibly mount a challenge is Google -- and it appears to be doing just that. Although unconfirmed, word is out that Google is in serious talks with social gaming companies to collaborate on an ambitious new social networking service.
Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) "Facebook killer" came a step closer to reality Wednesday, when it was revealed that the company has been talking with game makers for potential inclusion of their wares on a new social network.
Originally brought to light by a tweet last month from Digg Founder Kevin Rose, the new "Google Me" offering could include games from Playdom, Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS)' Playfish, and Zynga Game Network, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which cited "people familiar with the matter."

No information was available as to when Google would launch the new initiative, and Google declined TechNewsWorld's request for comment, noting simply that the company does not comment on rumor or speculation.
'They Need New Ad Revenue'

"This is all about ad revenues, nothing else," Lon Safko, social media entrepreneur, consultant and coauthor of The Social Media Bible, told TechNewsWorld.

Facebook claims 500 million members, after all, and "that's a lot of missed ad rev" for Google, Safko pointed out.

"Facebook has figured it out," he explained. "Get the traffic, sell the ads and even-split the ad rev with its members. It's what Google has been doing on the public side."

Google, in fact, recently disappointed Wall Street with below-estimated profits for its last quarter, Safko added. "They need to find a large source of new ad revenue. Where better than to try to tap into the [500 million] member base at Facebook?"
'He Doesn't Need Google'

"If I were Google, I would try to build a strategic alliance with Zuckerberg and provide the ad engine for Facebook," Safko suggested. "Do what each does best: Facebook, build membership; and Google, sell advertising."

On the other hand, "I am sure that Zuckerberg already has a good handle on ad sell implementation, so he doesn't need Google," he added. "If all that is true, then Google has no choice but go head-to-head with Facebook and re-invent the Facebook wheel and directly compete."

To date, however, "Google hasn't been effective at bringing copycat products successfully to market," Safko noted. "Unless Google can offer something astonishing that isn't available at Facebook, then I don't see Google's venture succeeding."
Going Beyond Buzz

Indeed, Google is not exactly a stranger to the world of social networking. Its Buzz product, for example, launched earlier this year, only to be deflated early on by a raft of privacy concerns.

Then, too, there's Orkut, which has gained significant popularity in India and Brazil.

The new social-networking service would "incorporate and go beyond Buzz," The Wall Street Journal reported.
'Project Management Leader, Games'

A heavy emphasis on games, meanwhile, would make developers less dependent on Facebook for reaching the growing masses of interested consumers, the publication noted.

Though it hasn't been announced officially, Google recently invested more than US$100 million in Zynga, maker of the widely popular Farmville game, TechCrunch reported earlier this month.

It also recently advertised a job opening for a "Project Management Leader, Games."
'Maybe Very Smart'

"The report and rumors that surfaced before the WSJ article suggest that games will be a way into a competitive social offering for Google," Greg Sterling, founder and principal with Sterling Market Intelligence, told TechNewsWorld. "That's very interesting and maybe very smart, depending on its execution."

Gaming will not, however, "define the full scope of Google's social ambitions," Sterling opined.
'More on the White Board'

"Google has several social initiatives living side by side, and the company, if it is to succeed, will need to figure out how to integrate or consolidate some of them and where to put emphasis," he explained. "One of the areas of vulnerability identified for Facebook (by Google) was the inability to regulate exposure according to trust circles or groups -- family vs. friends vs. co-workers.

"This 'hierarchy of trust' wouldn't likely be expressed fully in a gaming environment," Sterling pointed out, "so I suspect Google has a good deal more on the white board."

UltraViolet: Light at the End of the DRM Tunnel?

A new streaming standard will allow consumers to access films and television shows stored online for use on a variety of devices, while protecting copyrights in the content. Dozens of producers and tech companies are collaborating in the effort, dubbed "UltraViolet," but Disney and Apple are so far not on board.
The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, a consortium of cable, entertainment and technology companies, has announced more details about a concept that would ultimately give consumers the ability to legally access the digital content of a slew of providers for use on multiple devices -- from smartphones to personal computers to Web-enabled television sets.
The crux of this concept, which DECE has dubbed "UltraViolet," is a cloud-based, account-system digital locker. Consumers would buy the content, register their various devices, and manage their accounts. The content would be protected through a proprietary digital rights management system.

Testing is the next step to realizing this concept, Mark Teitell, general manager of DECE, told TechNewsWorld. By the end of the year, the consortium expects to have delivered a package of tech specifications and licensing agreements for the implementers -- that is, retailers and manufacturers that are supporting the platform.

"We will also make available to them an account authentication hub and rights locker," said Teitell -- what the consumer will think of as a personal account management system.

By Q1 2010, it is likely that some of the early DECE implementers will have introduced their own consumer-facing applications, he added.
Who's In and Who's Not

There are some 60 companies that belong to DECE, including Adobe, Best Buy, CinemaNow, Cisco, Comcast, Cox Communications, Fox Entertainment, HP, IBM, Intel, LG, Lionsgate, Microsoft, Motorola, NBC Universal, Netflix, Nokia, Panasonic, Paramount, Philips, the RIAA, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Warner Bros.

Notably missing are Disney, which is developing its own content management system, called "Keychest," and Apple, whose successful introduction of iTunes helped convince the music industry that consumers would pay for content -- and not download it illegally -- if it were made easily available to them.
Key Requirement

Ease of use will be essential for the successful launch of UltraViolet, Miles Feldman, an IP litigator with Liner Grode Stein, told TechNewsWorld.

"What has been most successful in the past in combating piracy is when consumers have been given a great platform that provides great value -- like with iTunes," he said.

It needs to be convenient and be priced fairly, Feldman continued, and the consumer shouldn't feel limited by when or how or how long the content will be available.

Based on the way UltraViolet is being portrayed, "I think it will be a huge step forward in combating piracy," Feldman remarked.
Any Device, Any Content

How the UltraViolet system will work won't be completely clear until the implementing companies build their consumer-facing ends to integrate with the technology DECE is now developing. Everything, in other words, will depend on execution by the participants.

In theory, the hub that consumers will see will give them controls for family members -- allowing or restricting access to certain content by children, for example. It will also allow the consumer to purchase content from any retailer participating in the network. The hub's registry system will allow users to easily access the UtraViolet-branded content they have purchased for use on a variety of devices. Once those devices are registered, they appear as icons on the hub. From there the content can be dragged to the device icon.

As participating companies get used to the system -- and as more consumers become aware of the UltraViolet logo and understand what it means -- there could be all kinds of integrated purchases, Teitell said.

For instance, a person could use an UltraViolet account to buy content from Best Buy and then buy a television set from the retailer. At checkout, the customer could be prompted to have the television automatically registered as well. The customer could then begin accessing UltraViolet content on the TV.

"It can be that easy," said Teitell.

Droid X Screen Problems Nipped in Bud

Reports of Droid X display problems may have triggered some alarm, having come on the heels of Apple's 'Antennagate' debacle, but there's little similarity between the two. In particular, Motorola and Verizon didn't drag their heels either in addressing or correcting the problem. Apple has taken sharp criticism for its slow, somewhat grudging response.

Even as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) suffers the continuing pains of its iPhone 4 "Antennagate" brouhaha, it appears at least one competing device is now facing problems of its own: Motorola (NYSE: MOT) and Verizon on Tuesday acknowledged faulty screens on some Droid X handsets and offered affected consumers a free replacement device.

"We are aware of a very small number of Droid X units that have experienced a flickering or banding display," Motorola spokesperson Juli Burda told TechNewsWorld. "The exposure of devices is limited to less than one-tenth of a percent."

Motorola has already resolved the issue, Burda said, and it continues to ship the product.

"Any consumer who experiences a flickering or banding display should contact Motorola's customer support center or Verizon Wireless for a replacement," she added.

Those experiencing issues "will have their phones replaced in a timely manner," Verizon Wireless spokesperson Marquett Smith told TechNewsWorld.
'Most Will Be Pleased'

The Android-based Droid X just hit the stores last week after considerable fanfare, particularly given the iPhone 4's ongoing problems.

Many affected users apparently found the device worked fine at first, and then problems began to crop up, according to reports, in some cases rendering the display useless. At least one user posted a YouTube video demonstrating the problem.

Whereas Apple has suffered sharp criticism for taking too long to respond to the iPhone 4's antenna issues, the quick response from Motorola and Verizon should come as a pleasant surprise, Alex Spektor, a wireless analyst with Strategy Analytics, told TechNewsWorld.

"For those consumers who are suffering from the problem, it can certainly be a frustrating experience, but I think most will be pleased with Verizon's almost immediate offer to replace the device," Spektor explained.

Of course, the alacrity of that response is not too surprising, given that the device is not only still under warranty but within the 30-day return period, he noted. "It would make sense for Verizon to keep those consumers as happy as possible."
'The Best Way to Do It'

Indeed, the companies' response has been "very good," agreed Chris Hazelton, research director for mobile and wireless with the 451 Group.

"In today's terms, with all the other issues out there, they reacted very swiftly," Hazelton told TechNewsWorld.

"I'm not comparing this with the iPhone's antenna issues, but the fact that Motorola and Verizon acknowledged the problem right away and reacted with a solution -- that's the best way to do it," he added. "Acknowledge it, disclose how big the impact is, and offer a resolution."
'There Will Be Devices in the Channel'

Though there were reports as early as last weekend that the Droid X had already sold out online, there are typically always devices in the channel that can be accessed for priority needs such as this replacement program, Hazelton pointed out.

"With the retail channel control that Motorola and Verizon have, there will be devices in the channel that they can prioritize and that may be easily accessible," he explained.

Although this particular problem affects just a very small proportion of buyers, it still "speaks to the pressure that smartphone vendors are under right now to get their devices to market on time," Spektor noted.

"There's a lot of competition for Motorola from Samsung, Apple and HTC," he concluded. "As we've seen with the iPhone antenna issue, and as we've seen with component shortages for other vendors, there's a lot of pressure to get these devices onto the market as quickly as possible in order to remain competitive."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seagate's Hybrid Drive Shoots for Quick-Draw Data Access

Seagate's new Momentus XT internal hard drives are designed to offer some of the benefits of internal SSDs without as much added cost. A standard-sized HDD is accompanied by 4GB of flash memory that provides fast access. Seagate's own software determines what data the user accesses most frequently and divides the work accordingly.

Seagate Monday began shipping its second-generation hybrid solid state/hard disk drive to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and its sales channels.

The Seagate Momentus XT is priced much lower than full solid-state drives.

The device spins at 7,200 RPMs and comes in capacities of 250 GB, 320 GB and 500 GB.
Tech Specs of the Momentus XT

All Momentus XT models come with not only a standard hard disc drive, but also a 4GB solid state flash memory drive.

The drive comes with Seagate's Adaptive Memory Technology software that memorizes users' file access patterns and stores the most-loaded files onto the SSD. Together with the higher spindle speed and the NCQ technology, this speeds up data access.

Seagate has aimed the offering at gamers and other users who need high disk speeds. On Wednesday, Seagate and Asus will unveil the new Asus ROG G73JH system, which is equipped with two Momentus XT drives.

"We could add more Flash memory, but it really isn't worth the trade-off," Seagate spokesperson Michael Hall told TechNewsWorld. "We began with 8 GB of Flash memory but found it doesn't buy you appreciably more performance."

The device has 32 MB of cache and a 3GB/second SATA interface with Native Command Queuing (NCQ). The NCQ technology increases the performance of SATA haRd disks by letting them internally optimize the order in which they execute read/write commands.

The Momentus XT is operating system-independent, so the drive will work with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

"This is a drive you can install in any laptop," Hall remarked. "We thought we needed to create our own algorithm and embed it in the drive."

Seagate launched its first-generation hybrid drive, the Momentus 5400 PSD, or Power Savings Drive, in the fall of 2007 to work with Windows Vista. That drive failed to sell well.

"One of the points with the PSD was that it depended on Microsoft ReadyDrive for Vista to write data to the hard drive," Hall explained. "We were dependent on the operating system, and that was one of the limiting factors of the drive."

ReadyDrive was a technology Microsoft introduced in Windows Vista to give PCs fitted with a hybrid hard disk longer battery life, greater reliability, and better performance.
Pegging Down Prices

SSDs are more reliable and faster than traditional hard drives because they have no moving parts. The technology has been available in laptop drives for years, but due to their high prices, laptop SSDs remain niche products.

Some 250 GB internal SSDs are offered at between US$644 and $1,234 at Newegg.com, for example.

"SSDs' extremely low acceptance can be traced back to their significant cost premium -- the cost/benefit ratio simply doesn't appeal to most consumers," Jim Handy, an analyst at Objective Analysis, told TechNewsWorld.

The Momentus XT drives carry an MSRP of $113 for the 250 GB device, $132 for the 320 GB version, and $156 for the 500 GB one.

Seagate's pricing strategy might work.

"Since a hybrid approach is very likely to bring users 80 to 90 percent of the advantages of an SSD for less than 20 percent of the price premium, this will become the norm for PCs of the future," Handy said. He expects more vendors to offer hybrid drives within the next year or two.
Looking at Tomorrow

Hybrid drives may have a good ride for the next couple of years.

"We don't anticipate SSD becoming really affordable for mainstream use in notebooks before early 2012," Leslie Fiering, a research vice president at Gartner (NYSE: IT), told TechNewsWorld.

Demand for hard drives won't be affected by the storm of Internet-based netbooks that's expected to hit the market soon, led by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Fiering opined.

"I think it's going to be a while before people will trust their secrets to the Web," she explained. "Think about it for a second -- what about all the security breaches we've seen and the vacillation of social networking sites in terms of security policies? Further, can you guarantee that you can get a high-speed connection to the Internet when you need your information?"

"From a business standpoint, designing the Momentus XT so it doesn't depend on support from someone else, as the Momentus 5400 did, is a better recipe for success for Seagate," Objective Analysis' Handy said.

WiGig Aims to Widen the Wireless Road

The WiFi Alliance has entered an agreement with the WiGig Alliance, an outfit that aims to make 7 gigabit-per-second data transmissions on wireless home networks a reality. PCs, mobile handsets, television sets, Blu-ray disc players and digital cameras are some of the devices that may benefit from the technology. The agreement could pose mounting competition for the Wireless HD Consortium.

TV viewers may soon be able to watch videos without interruption over wireless networks as they move from their television sets to their PCs to their handheld devices, with the signing of an agreement Monday between the Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) Alliance, the WiFi Alliance and semiconductor developer SiBeam.

The WiGig Alliance's specifications enable data transmission rates of up to 7 Gbps, more than 10 times faster than the highest speed offered by the 802.11 standard.

"WiFi is a very successful technology and has a wide variety of devices, and we want to leverage that success and extend it into the 60 GHz range," Bruce Montag, a board member of the WiGig Alliance, told the E-Commerce Times.
A Marriage Made in Heaven?

The WiGig Alliance was formed in May 2009 to promote the adoption and use of 60 GHz wireless technology worldwide. It completed its unified wireless specification, which enables high-performance wireless video and audio, in December of 2009.

That standard extends WiFi technology into the 60 GHz range but retains backward compatibility with existing WiFi devices. It can be used on PCs, mobile handsets, television sets, Blu-ray disc players and digital cameras.

Many members of the WiGig Alliance are also members of the WiFi Alliance, which makes the teaming up of the two a fairly straightforward deal. It will also boost adoption of the WiGig Alliance's standard.

The WiGig Alliance will be able to leverage the WiFi Alliance's certification program, which has been place since 2000.

"The partnership will let the Wireless Gigabit Alliance leverage all the tools and structure for industry participation that's available to WiFi and extend that to 60 GHz," the WiGig Alliance's Montag said. "The idea is to bring multi-gigabit wireless capability to a wide variety of devices like PCs, netbooks, cellphones and consumer electronic devices -- everywhere that WiFi is available today."

SiBeam's inclusion in the partnership will further boost the WiGig Alliance's efforts. This company is a fabless semiconductor company that develops high-speed wireless communication platforms.

"Support from SiBeam adds momentum to what appears to be the industry-supported standard," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.
WiGig Version 1.0 specs

The WiGig Alliance on Monday published its specs, which were completed in December 2009.

In addition to supporting data transmission rates of up to 7 Gbps, the specs supplement and extend the 802.11 Media Access Control (MAC) layer and are backward-compatible with IEEE 802.11.

The physical layer enables both low-power and high-performance WiGig devices to ensure interoperability and communication at gigabit rates between the two.

The standards support beamforming, thus enabling robust communications at distances beyond 10 meters.

Beamforming is a signal processing technique used in sensor arrays for directional signal transmission or reception. There are two types of beamforming techniques in the cellular industry: Passive mode and active mode. Passive mode is for WCDMA transmissions, while active mode solutions are for 2G, 3G, 3G evolution standards such as LTE, and 4G and other standards beyond 3G.
Implications of the WiGig Announcement

With its announcement of a team-up with the WiFi Alliance and SiBeam, the WiGig Alliance has ratcheted up pressure on another 60 Hz standard, from the Wireless HD Consortium.

The consortium offers a 60 GHz wireless standard that it says will eliminate the need for HDMI cables. It announced the second generation of its standard back in January of this year.

This latest spec will let high-definition TV sets, Blu-ray disc players, PCs and portable devices transmit, share and display content and let users instantaneously transfer multi-gigabyte media files among various devices.

The WiGig Alliance's goals appear to overlap many of the Wireless HD Consortium's.

"WiGig is networking; WirelessHD is more of an HDMI cable wireless replacement," Enderle pointed out. "They could both coexist for different reasons, but I expect that WiGig may be able to encompass Wireless HD's capability, rending WirelessHD prematurely obsolete."

In addition, SiBeam's joining up with the WiGig Alliance could make things more difficult for the WirelessHD Consortium, of which it was an early backer.
Living Together in Harmony for Now

Right now, however, the two standards may be able to coexist.

SiBeam on Monday announced the availability of the world's first solution that leverages both the WirelessHD Consortium's and the WiGig Alliance's standards. This is the SiBeam sb8110 WirelessHD/WiGig RF transceiver and the associated SK8100 software development kit.

"Upon review of the WiGig specification, we believe that WirelessHD will continue to provide the best solution for wireless video area networking; WiGig can potentially serve as a good platform for support of data and wireless local area network applications," said John LeMoncheck, SiBeam's CEO.

In the long run, the WiGig Alliance's specs may win out.

"WiGig could encompass what WirelessHD does, rendering it redundant," Enderle explained. "It's similar to the fight between printers and scanners -- eventually scanners became part of printers even though the two didn't really overlap."
 

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