This week I'm writing from a special place: from the perspective of a Google Glass owner. Well, to be honest I'm not wearing them this exact moment -- I'm actually at 30,000 feet, making the most of a Gogo connection, and when your phone is in airplane mode there's not much point in wearing the headset. Unless, of course, you're looking for a conversation starter. In that role, the headset performs impeccably even when turned completely off.
It's been an interesting couple days wearing the headset around, days I'll continue to chronicle on the site because I know many of you are eager to know what Glass is like. I know this because I've had dozens of strangers come up to me and ask, "What's it like?" Suffice to say, Glass is very interesting and the potential is compelling, but right now the thing is somewhat frustrating in its limited functionality. That'll change real soon as more developers get to grips with the Mirror API.
But enough about the excitement in my life, let's get on to the news. The buzz leading up to the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles has been immense, but it did get muted somewhat this week. First, Microsoft announced that it would, as expected, have a pre-E3 event in which the next Xbox would be unveiled. To assuage any doubt about that, the invite boldly states "A New Generation Revealed," a statement that cynics might see as a cheeky slight to Sony, who of course chose to not physically reveal its PlayStation 4 at an earlier media event. I, however, am no cynic.
Microsoft will surely still have a big pre-show event at E3 itself (Sony, too), but rather tragically Nintendo announced that it would not. For as long as I can remember -- and I've been going to E3 since 1997 -- Nintendo's pre-E3 event has been a highlight, and I'm honestly a bit sad to see it go. Nintendo will host a few smaller events, one for investors and one for media, but these seem much more focused on getting hands-on time with upcoming software rather than going up on stage and making charmingly boastful statements whilst Miyamoto waves a sword around.
To be frank, Nintendo doesn't have a lot to boast about at the moment. In its quarterly financial results, Nintendo indicated it has shipped just 390,000 Wii Us in the past quarter, a figure actually beaten by the previous-generation Wii, which shipped 470,000 units. That's obviously far fewer than the company had expected, with net profits of 7 billion yen being about half of estimates. That is, however, a huge improvement over the 40 billion yen loss the year before and the company hopes a strong stable of upcoming games will improve things substantially this year.
Apple, meanwhile, is holding its own event at the same time as E3, but a few hours' drive north. WWDC was confirmed for June 10th to the 14th. Expecting some amazing new hardware to launch? Don't get too excited. After Apple's Q2 financial results were posted (a healthy $9.5 billion in profit on sales of 37.4 million iPhones and 19.5 million iPads), Tim Cook indicated that we shouldn't expect any major new products until sometime in the third quarter. He also downplayed speculation about a larger iPhone, saying that bigger displays come with compromises like resolution and app compatibility. Apple will not make such a phone "while such trade-offs exist," says Cook, which could certainly be seen as a cheeky setup for Apple coming up with solutions for said problems.
One final bit of financial good news: Netflix posted a $2.69 million profit and picked up 3 million subscribers worldwide, two-thirds of those in the US. That pushes its US subscribers over the 30 million mark, meaning it now has more paying users than HBO. With any luck, HBO will see this writing on the wall and cut its cable ties soon.
A pair of important phones had their US details announced this week, starting with Samsung's Galaxy S 4. (Yes, that's Galaxy S 4, not S IV or SIV.) Verizon finally gave us a date and a price, saying the phone will launch on May 30th for $200 (after a $50 rebate). Many US carriers had planned on launching much sooner, including T-Mobile and Sprint, but are suffering from demand issues. Samsung says it'll ship phones "as soon as possible" and expects to have enough supply to meet demand "in the coming weeks."
A premium price for a premium keyboard, perhaps
That's a problem we're guessing BlackBerry would love to have, with its Q10 also getting launch details this week. The Canadian market (seemingly all major carriers) will get the phone on May 1st for $199, but American carriers will be at least a few weeks later, and we're told to expect a price of $249. A premium price for a premium keyboard, perhaps.
In this week's Distro we're giving you our review of Samsung's latest, the Galaxy S 4. We also have reviews of Nokia's latest, the Lumia 720, and the funky little ASUS Cube set-top box. Brian Heater dives into the new industrial revolution at TechShop, where, for $125 a month, you can build whatever you want. We have a new Switched On, Modem World, IRL and an immersive Q&A with Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. It's all here and it's all for you, and if someone asks you what it's like, we sure do hope you say something nice.