Tech Talk #15: $80 Games Console, Microsoft Buys A ‘Droid & Record Mobiles Sales (Again)

This Issue: Microsoft buys a ‘droid to get into your TV, an $80 gaming console, and what DID you get or give for Christmas…a smart mobile device, perhaps?

Microsoft Buys Media-streaming, Home Automation Tech for Xbox

Microsoft has just purchased startup R2 Studios, which had been developing products for media-streaming and space-age home automation. The deal, which has no published public price-tag attached to it (although it must have been hefty as both Apple & Google were sniffing around too!), will see Gates acquire R2 Studios’ patents for integration into their XBox division. R2 Studios is headed up by Blake Krikorian, who previously built up TV-streamer Slingbox, and is rumoured to have been working on technology for displaying digital media on TVs, as well as home automation such as light control, so it’s anyone’s guess that we’ll see this technology be used in the next XBox?

GameStick – a 2-inch Android Games Console That Plugs into Your TV

Don’t know what to do with all that cash burning a hole in your pocket after Christmas? Then try investing in GameStick via Kickstarter. GameStick has already met its $100,000 goal after just over a day – which is pretty good going by anyone’s standard. Similar to the previously reported-on Ouya, GameStick is another lo-cost ($79!!!) Android-based console to display gaming to a big screen. The design is innovative: a mere 2 two inches long, it slots inside its rectangular controller, making it a very portable to carry around with you on business trips or on holiday when there’s nothing in your native language on the telly. You just plug the console into a TV’s HDMI socket and start playing via the wireless controller. In terms of content, PlayJam (GameStick’s creator) has acquired 200 titles so far including Cannabalt, Shadowgun and Blue Toad Murder Files, and they are also encouraging a network of over 250 developers such as Madfinger, Hutch and Disney to expand there offering; it’s likely that a good share of these titles, will be either free, or near as dammit. And to increase its appeal, GameStick will be open platform, with the developer tools, services and community will be available to manufacturers.

As for the rest of the technical specs, GameStick will consist of:

  • Processor – Amlogic 8726-MX
  • Memory – 1GB DDR3 / 8GB FLASH
  • Content Download Manager w/ cloud storage for games
  • WiFi – 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth – LE 4.0 (compatible with any Bluetooth controller supporting HID)
  • O/S – Android Jelly Bean
  • Controller – Bluetooth, 3 mode controller: gamepad, mouse and keyboard with support for up to four controllers
  • Fill 1080p HD video decoding

According to its Kickstarter, GameStick is 90% complete and should be on the market by April. Investors through Kickstarter who pledge $79 or more will get the console upon release, plus a “founding contributor credit” in the UI and a special “founder tag” next to their username. Pledges of $115 will receive an additional controller, and pledges of $300 gain all of the above plus early beta access to a mark 2 prototype version of the console.

Record Number of iOS, Android Devices Activated on Christmas Day

Well – you weren’t very original in your choice of presents this Christmas were you!?! A record-breaking 17.4 million iOS and Android devices were activated on Christmas day, more than on any other day in 2012. And just to put it in perspective, a report published by Flurry revealed a staggering 332% (!) increase in device activation on Christmas Day over the average of the first 20 days of December. Compared to Christmas Day 2011, which reached 6.8 million device activations, it was more than doubled this year.

And if like me you noticed that the iTunes store was a little slow, that’s because around 328m apps were also downloaded across iOS (and Android) devices on Christmas Day. Again, against the average of the first 20 days in December, Christmas Day downloads increased by 112%. The US was the top downloader, followed by China and then us Brits.

The report also notes that although smartphone activations typically beat tablets by a ration of 4:1, on Christmas Day iPads, iPad Minis and Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablets led the pack.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Kicktarter, Flurry Blog
Reporter: SilverFox

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