RIM, Samsung Reveal New Mobile Initiatives while Open Source OS Gains Support from Firefox, Ubuntu

In today’s mobile news roundup: US carriers prepare for BB10 devices; Polaroid introduces two new Android tablets; Samsung announces new chip and flexible screen; Firefox OS sighting at CES; and Canonical launches Ubuntu OS for smartphones.

US carriers prepare for BB10 devices

Research in Motion is expected to release their first two BlackBerry smartphones at the end of this month, already gaining the faith of major carriers in the US, three of which have announced that the devices will be available on their networks.  AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon showed their support at CES 2013.

Additionally, RIM announced that they will be releasing a total of six BlackBerry smartphones in 2013, starting with a full touchscreen device and one with a QWERTY keyboard, available January 30, 2013.  Aside from that, the company stated that the BB10 devices will be released with more than 70,000 applications and is targeting the top 600 apps for their devices.  BlackBerry has a subscriber base of 79 million, and they are positive that with the new BB10 devices, subscribers that have strayed to other devices will be coming back.

“We intend over time as we transition the portfolio to have a full range of devices,” RIM CMO Frank Boulben said.

For more analysis on what this move means for RIM and how the risks will likely pay off, check out this clip from this morning’s NewsDesk segment, where Senior Editor Kristen Nicole discusses the topic with Kristin Feledy.

Polaroid introduces two new Android tablets

At CES 2013, Polaroid announced a number of Android products including a smart camera that features a 16MP camera with built in 3X optical zoom, touchscreen display and Wi-Fi for easy sharing with social networks. There’s also an Android camera with interchangeable lenses.  But what caught the attention of CES attendees are the two Polaroid Android tablets.

Polaroid introduced the M10 and the M7, a 10” and a 7” tablet respectably.  Both tablets feature a 1280 x 800-pixel IPS displays, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, a microSD slot and runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.  The M10 has a quad-core CPU, 16GB of internal storage, HDMI and a 5-megapixel rear camera while the M7 has a dual-core processor and 8GB of internal storage.  M10 will retail for $229 and M7 for $129.

Should be a nice fit with Polaroid’s photo printing initiatives, bringing their efforts to leverage mobile technology full circle.

Samsung announces new chip and flexible screen

Samsung introduced a new processor, the Exynos 5 Octa, which they claim will deliver faster performance while providing a better battery life for users.  The Exynos 5 Octa uses uses ARM’s new big.LITTLE processor technology, which combines a pair of quad-core clusters: the first, for power, running at 1.8GHz with Cortex A15 cores, and the second, for efficiency, running at 1.2GHz with Cortex A7 cores.   News of Exynos 5 Octa first came in November of last year and was slated to be introduced at the International Solid State Circuits conference on February 19, 2013.

Aside from the Exynos 5 Octa, Samsung also introduced a new flexible OLED screen dubbed Youm.  Brian Berkeley, Samsung’s senior vice president of display, demoed the screen’s various capabilities at CES, showing how it can be used in different technologies such as a device with the screen wrapping around the edges and the message is delivered at the side screen, not at main screen.  It can also be used for a tablet that closes like a book, or something that you can roll for portability purposes.

Firefox OS sighting at CES

At a pre-CES event, Firefox OS appeared on an unknown device despite its late 2013 schedule for release.  Though not much is known about the OS and the mysterious device, those who were fortunate enough to tinker with it suspect it to be equipped with ARMv6 CPU and 256MB or more of RAM.  As for the Firefox OS itself, there’s little details to be had.  It will be focused on HTML5, a rather agnostic technology for the mobile space, and a fresh direction as far as mobile OS’s go.  Firefox OS was announced by Mozilla in July 2012, and carriers around the world have pledged support for the upcoming platform.

Canonical launches Ubuntu OS for smartphone

On the other end of the open source spectrum, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth introduced the Ubuntu mobile OS that features an elegant and simple design that makes apps more accessible and immersive.  It has a unique interface wherein “every edge has a specific purpose, making all your apps, content and controls instantly accessible, without navigating back to the home screen every time.”

The race is on between Ubuntu and Mozilla to enhance the open source OS options in the mobile realm, though Ubuntu may have the lead.  We expect their product to launch some time next month on the Google Nexus device.  Ubuntu will be focused on emerging markets with their mobile OS, where they’ve already seen success in the PC sector.  Speed and security are two things Ubuntu will need to develop for their mobile offerings if they hope to seamlessly transition their PC perks to the mobile space.