In each issue of Distro, Executive Editor Marc Perton publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.
In the US, Labor Day traditionally marks the end of the lazy days of summer, and the beginning of the busy fall season. While this summer was hardly quiet -- it included, you might recall, major product launches from the likes of Motorola, Google, LG, HTC and others -- the fall started with a bang, with Microsoft's surprise announcement on Labor Day that it was buying Nokia's devices and services division for $7 billion. The deal gets Microsoft a guaranteed hardware partner for Windows Phone, and quite possibly a new CEO, as the company has all but admitted that Nokia's Stephen Elop is first in line to replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. It might also be considered a bargain. Just two years ago, Google paid over $12 billion for Motorola; that same year, Microsoft made another expensive telecom acquisition: it bought Skype for $8.5 billion.
Before we even had time to digest Microsoft's news, Apple announced -- somewhat anticlimactically -- that it would indeed have a major event next week, where the company is expected to launch an upgraded iPhone 5, as well as a lower-end model, along with lots of new colors. Meanwhile, Amazon announced an upgraded version of the Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader, and Google's Android KitKat became the first operating system with a name licensed from a candy company. And this was all before the week's real news started rolling in from IFA.
If you're not familiar with it, IFA is Europe's largest consumer electronics show, with as many as 200,000 attendees packing the Messe Berlin exhibition center. This week's Distro features some of the more interesting products our team saw there, including Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 smartphone (we refuse to call it a "phablet"), Galaxy Gear smartwatch and updated Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet; Sony's Xperia Z1 smartphone; and Lenovo's Yoga 2 Pro laptop. For more, be sure to check out our IFA hub, which includes dozens of posts about all of the major products we saw in Berlin, archived liveblogs from the week's key launches and hands-on videos of some gear that may not make it to the US for months, if ever.
Google's KitKat (aka Android 4.4), while not necessarily the week's biggest news, may well be the most unique. While we've seen candy companies go after the tech crowd before (anyone remember Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups' CES launch a couple of years back?), the idea of tying a candy brand to an operating system seems a bit far-fetched. Nevertheless, the non-cash deal, which merges Google's dessert-themed naming scheme with Nestle's marketing might, will result in a worldwide promotion with 50 million candy bar wrappers featuring Google's robot mascot, and a contest with prizes that will include Nexus 7 tablets and Google Play credits. Be sure to check out Distro's look at the sweet deal, and let us know what you think Google's next sugar-laden code name will be (remember, they're in alphabetical order; we're betting on Lemon Meringue Pie, given that KitKat took Key Lime's slot).
This piece originally appeared in Distro #106.
- Key specs
- Type Smartphone
- Operating system Android (Jelly Bean [4.3])
- Screen size 5.7 inches
- Internal memory 32 GB
- Carriers (US) AT&T
- Dimensions 6 x 3.1 x 0.33 in
- Weight 5.9 oz
- Released 2013-10-01