Fighting Talk: Kickstarter isn’t a store, so Pebble shouldn’t treat it like one

Fighting Talk: Kickstarter isn't a store, so Pebble shouldn't treat it like one

The maker of the Pebble smartwatch took to Kickstarter again this week, successfully pulling in enough money to fund a new version of its wearable hardware (The Pebble Time), with enough spare cash left over to pay for a fun mission to Mars for the original team members.

Problem is, it's done all this before. Pebble was one of the first wave of super successful Kickstarter fundees, with its first big win helping to launch the smartwatch boom while also going some way toward establishing the crowdfunding model as a valid way for the masses to back risky and artistic ventures.

But should previous winners be allowed to return to the trough for seconds?

There's nothing risky for Pebble in making a new version of its amazingly popular watch. The only risks it faces now are not being able to convince its factory in China to make them fast enough to meet rabid demand from tech nerds, or any negative publicity caused by people getting trampled underfoot in the stampedes to buy the updated model.

It shouldn't really be back on Kickstarter, ironic knitted hipster cap in hand, pretending it has no idea if its latest iteration will be a success or not, begging, please, for money to fabricate products, money that it promises it won't just immediately spend on alcohol for the launch party.

Kickstarter itself said, back in 2012, that the site shouldn't be used as a shop window, but that's surely exactly what Pebble's doing with its latest seven-figure global currency raid.

"Here, we've done a new version, you can order it if you want one" is what it's saying, turning the Kickstarter portal into one massive pre-ordering service for a hugely successful existing company.

Pebble is being given a free safety net by its chums at Kickstarter, which is letting it guarantee a number of sales, have the money in advance, then swan off without worrying about the dangers of capitalism and the whims of consumers that affect other tech manufacturers. Pebble wins, Kickstarter bags an almighty commission, and we get a new thing to play with.

This doesn't seem particularly fair on the the likes of Sony, LG, Samsung and the others, that, although enormous and minted, can't use a global pre-ordering basket to accurately gauge demand for their next-gen products.

It entirely removes the risk. It's not, like any other company out in the real world, taking a gamble on making 200,000 of a thing, only to discover that only 4,800 people want them, like Microsoft did with those crappy tablets, or like Microsoft did with those crappy Kin phones, or like Microsoft did with those crappy MP3 players.

Please empower us to be as rich as Mark Zuckerberg

Pebble explains the need for its latest cash-grab as if it's doing it for the benefit of the world, saying: "We're back on Kickstarter to give you - the community who cares the most - an opportunity to support our vision for wearables and get exclusive access to our newest product."

Which makes it sound like a charity, bringing the gift of being able to tell the time and dismiss some useless notifications about the weather and cinema times to the world.

But it's not a charity, it's a business that's selling a small screen for $179, with reward tiers designed to make sure people bought the early limited edition colours for a bargain price to guarantee it'd hit the funding limit in quick, newsworthy time. Like it did last time.

As for the "Risks and challenges" section, a compulsory element Kickstarter demands is added to make things sound like they're not already a shoe-in for getting made, Pebble says: "Pebble Time is nearly complete. All watches shown on this page and in the video were built on our production line."

So it's done. It's being made. What's the money needed for, then? Surely Pebble should be brave enough to go it alone, leaving the amateur venture capitalists to fund things a bit more innovative than the redesign of a popular existing product?

What's to stop Unilever and Procter & Gamble popping up on Kickstarter and Indiegogo next year, claiming they need public funds to take the risk out of road-testing new fabric conditioner scents?

"We need your help to see if the world is ready for the lemony freshness of new Funky Fruit Daz liquitabs," said A.G. Lafley, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Procter & Gamble, ahead of the launch of this week's crowdfunding campaign.

"We only took $84.17 billion in revenue in 2013," Lafley added. "Your $150,000 could help pay for one social media viral marketing campaign to ensure Funky Fruit Daz liquitabs get to the people who need them."

Canon PowerShot G7X Review – the Sony RX100 has a Challenger

Times are changing: when it comes to high quality compact cameras and ILCs, many folks think of Sony first. Indeed the Sony Cyber-shot RX100, now in its third generation, is the compact camera to beat in the under $1,000 price range if extreme pocketability plus image quality are your thing. Canon is trying to grab some of that market ...
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Opinion: MWC 2014 was a nightmare… but I can’t wait to go back

Opinion: MWC 2014 was a nightmare... but I can't wait to go back

MWC 2014 was the first major press conference I went to as a phone journalist, and despite being consistently over caffeinated and under pressure every second, I couldn't get enough.

I don't know why. It could, and should, have been a disaster. I made the rookie mistake of going to the conference severely over prepared, thinking I had to trek through every square centimetre to uncover the 'true' story.

I had a full schedule of meetings with everybody you've never heard of (for a reason), knew exactly where I had to be at each moment of the day and, most importantly, had a bucket full of energy to throw all over the conference floor.

In less than half an hour after the start, every plan had gone out the window.

By 12PM on Day One I'd decided to wing the entire event, crumbling amid the cacophony of shouting journalists and desperate press conference presenters.

When the Spanish sun started to set, I worked out I had done a 16-hour stint - most of it is spent in a conference hall resembling an airport terminal - but with a far worse Wi-Fi connection - and queues for food much like that video footage of Black Friday.

The strangest thing, though? I can't wait to do it all over again.

Mobile World Con-stress

Speaking to some other technology journalists I've noticed a lot of apathy toward MWC, with most associating it with the stress of the big announcements and hating the event as a whole. I even overheard a fellow journalist recently referring to the whole event as the "airport of hell".

And in a way they're right. The main elements in Barcelona during this event are stress, sweat, a little blood and even more tears. But it is also one of the great perks of working in this ever-changing industry.

Maybe it's the fact I've recently joined TechRadar and won't be covering the event all on my lonesome this year, or maybe it's the fact I have a much clearer idea of what I'm doing and what I'm covering this year, but I can't actually wait for March 1 to kick it all off.

We get to spend the best part of a week trying out the latest gadgets, seeing all the next mobile developments early and speaking to the people who've been working on them.

By the time those Fira Gran Via doors open the biggest events of Samsung and HTC will have already taken place – but that's only the beginning. The more unique, interesting takes on the world of mobile technology will be scattered about the conference hall's gigantic nine rooms.

That's where the interesting stuff is really happening, even though I'll likely be weighted down with a mass of tech and running on more caffeine than you'd find in a typical branch of Starbucks.

MWC may nearly kill every journalist trying to cover the mass of events every year – but it brings with it some of the best technology stories we get to share with you guys all year. That has to be worth it.

• Are you up to date with all the latest MWC 2015 details?

BlackBerry ‘Rio’ flaunts its figure in leaked pics

BlackBerry 'Rio' flaunts its figure in leaked pics

We first learned of the BlackBerry "Rio" in 2014, but the latest leak indicates that it might not be the high-end "savior" we originally thought.

Word today from N4BB is that the phone code-named Rio will actually be called the BlackBerry Leap, and that it will have mid-range specs and - hopefully - an affordable price tag.

These alleged leaked images show a fairly stylish device, too.

According to the site, the BlackBerry Leap will rock a 720p 5-inch display, 8- and 2-megapixel cameras, a 2800mAh battery, dual-core 1.5GHz MSM 8960 chip, 2GB of memory, 16GB of storage, and microSD support.

BlackBerry Leap

They don't have any info on the price, but the site says it will be released in April or May.

It would make sense for BB to debut the Leap at MWC 2015, but until then these leaked images will have to do.

iPad Game Review: Battle Worlds: Kronos for iPad 3 and Newer Review

Battle Worlds: Kronos is a solid turn-based strategy game that matches the desktop versions feature-for-feature; including price.There's a phrase being bandied about by iOS developers these days: Core Gamers. Based on the wide variety of games and pricing models being used in the same sentence as this phrase, I'm inclined to believe that most of them don't have any ...
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uNu Superpak 10000mAh 3.1A Portable Charger Review

The uNu Superpak is a universal portable battery charger that can work with smartphones and tablets. It's universal also thanks to the included charging cable that offers both a Lightning connector and a micro USB connector. The battery has plenty of power that can fill up a smartphone a couple of times and juice up a large tablet. ...
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HTC One M9 Plus specs may have leaked in full

HTC One M9 Plus specs may have leaked in full

Word is HTC will release an HTC One M9 Plus alongside the standard HTC One M9, and today the (possibly) larger phone's specs appear to have leaked in full.

The specs, revealed by upleaks, include the fingerprint scanner that's rumored to be coming on the M9 Plus and the 5.2-inch display size we learned of previously.

  • The PS4 keeps getting better

The M9 Plus will also reportedly come in two variants: one with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 chip, and one with an MTK MT6795 octa-core chipset for some Asian regions.

Other than the processor both versions will apparently feature the same specs: 3GB of memory, 32GB of storage, voice over LTE support, Android 5.0.2 Lollipop (not the rumored Android 5.1), BoomSound front speakers, a 2840mAh battery, dual main cameras with 20.7 and 2.1 megapixels and a front camera with either 4 or 13 megapixels.

Finally the M9 Plus will also reportedly come in three color variations: one with dark gunmetal on both sides, one with gold, and one with a gold face and a silver back.

Based on the many leaks and teases we've seen recently, the HTC One M9 and HTC One M9 Plus appear to be good and ready for their March 1 debut at MWC 2015.

DeNA Releases Military Masters for iOS and Android

DeNA today released Military Masters, a battle tactics mobile game packed to the brim with real-time strategic PVP multiplayer and intense vehicular combat. In Military Masters, players will build the ultimate army of powerful war machines spanning land, sea, and air to take into battle. Players will form strategic squadrons of tanks, battleships and fighter jets to unleash upon ...
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Updated: iPhone through the ages: just how much has it changed?

Updated: iPhone through the ages: just how much has it changed?

The birth of Apple's superphone


Update: Nine years ago the original iPhone was finally released in stores around the US. To celebrate, we've collected together every iPhone that has ever been released.

It was January 9 2007 when Steve Jobs took to the stage of the Moscone Center in San Francisco to announce the arrival of the iPhone, which went on sale worldwide later that year.

If you find it difficult to remember that far back, Leona Lewis was number one in the UK with A Moment Like This and people were flocking to the cinema to get teary-eyed at Will Smith in The Pursuit Of Happyness.

While our pop music and movie choices may not have improved much, smartphones were changed forever: from that point on, touchscreens, apps and digital media were the way forward.

iPhone 1 (first generation)


Launched: June 2007 (US), November 2007 (UK)

Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone as three devices in one: a touchscreen iPod, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a truly mobile web browser.

Now we take touchscreens, digital media playback and web access for granted, but in 2007 the iPhone was unlike anything that had appeared before. Its 3.5-inch screen had a 320 x 480 pixel reoslution (one of the best displays of the time), with a 2MP camera built in, and up to 8GB of storage.

Third-party apps were not yet allowed on "iPhone OS". In the TechRadar review, we noted that despite several shortcomings, the phone had "changed the mobile device landscape… multitouch will prove to be a model for interfaces in the future".

iPhone 3G (second generation)

iPhone 3G

Launched: July 2008

High-speed connectivity was big news in 2008, which is why the second generation iPhone included 3G in its moniker (rather confusingly, as this was the second generation iPhone). It also brought with it a thinner shape, a plastic back and – crucially – support for the newly launched App Store.

The app store model worked so well you'll now find it replicated in everything from your smart TV to your Windows 8 laptop, and the change helped Apple's phone really start to gain traction.

We said in our iPhone 3G review that buyers would be "amazed by the function and feel of this handset". The iPhone era had begun in earnest.

iPhone 3GS (third generation)

Video recording came to the iPhone with the launch of the 3GS model.

Launched: June 2009

The iPhone 3GS upgrade was viewed as disappointingly minor at the time, but look at the detail and a different picture emerges: as well as faster performance, the new handset offered a better 3.2MP camera (that could now record video as well as take photos), extra storage options and voice control (the precursor to Siri).

The display was the same 3.5-inch 320 x 480 screen, and the device's appearance remained largely unchanged from the 3G model. TechRadar's take on the unit praised the multimedia and internet capabilities, while still finding niggles with the camera, call quality and battery life – this was the first of the more iterative updates to the iPhone, but did enough to keep users happy.

iPhone 4 (fourth generation)

The iPhone 4 transformed the look and display of Apple's flagship device.

Launched: June 2010

If the 3GS was a minor upgrade, the iPhone 4 was a serious step up – a new, flat design with an integrated antenna (although questions were raised about how you held the device), a high-resolution Retina display (640 x 960 pixels) that showed the rest of the world how it was done and a superior 5MP camera (featuring HD video recording), on top of internal performance improvements.

The competition was catching up, and Apple had responded in brilliant fashion. We were certainly impressed, despite some reservations about the high price, saying "It's intriguing to see record-breaking numbers queuing up to pick up this device – but after playing with it for a few days, you can see why."

iPhone 4S (fifth generation)

iPhone 4S

Launched: October 2011

Apple pulled out the "S" tag again for the fifth generation handset, indicating a minor upgrade rather than a major overhaul.

The design of the iPhone 4S was the same, but inside was Apple's new A5 processor, vastly improved graphics capabilities and an 8MP camera with 1080p video recording. iOS was evolving at the same rate as the hardware, of course, and Siri began life as an iPhone 4S exclusive.

The improvements were enough to persuade us to describe it as "the best thing Apple has ever created" in the official TechRadar review.

iPhone 5 (sixth generation)

iPhone 5

Launched: September 2012

After six handsets, Apple finally decided it was time to tweak the iPhone's screen size and aspect ratio.

Coming in at 20% lighter than its predecessor, the 2012 iPhone adopted a 4-inch screen, running at 640 x 1136 pixels.

Otherwise, despite the usual speed bump and a stronger antenna, it was very much business as usual in terms of the design and capabilities.

Our biggest gripe in our iPhone 5 review was with the aging iOS, but with iOS 7 arriving on September 18 that issue is very much negated, which will please a number of iPhone 5 users who've been holding onto the handset for nearly a year.

iPhone 5S/5C (seventh generation)

iPhone 5S

Launched: September 2013

The big step in the seventh stage of the iPhone's evolution was the arrival of the iPhone 5C, a slightly cheaper, plastic-backed model to help battle Android in the busy mobile middle market. The signs were there already – remember Apple kept the iPhone 4 and 4S on sale during the iPhone 5 era.

Apart from the plastic shell and larger battery, though, the iPhone 5C was, in terms of specs, a carbon copy of the iPhone 5 – which was retired to make way for the two new handsets.

As for the flagship iPhone 5S, it was a case of under-the-hood improvements again: more power, a better camera, and a fancy fingerprint reader hidden under the home button. The bigger changes arrived with iOS 7, the most radical revamp of the mobile operating system since the App Store arrived back in 2008.

iPhone 6/6 Plus (eighth generation)

iPhone 6

Launched: September 2014

After the smaller changes that came with the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, Apple was back to its revolutionary best with the following generation, as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus brought the biggest alterations in design and features since the leap from the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5.

The most striking change the eighth generation iPhones ushered in was undoubtedly the screen size, with the iPhone 6's display leaping from the iPhone 5's 4 inches to 4.7 inches. Apple also upped the resolution from the 1136 x 640 of previous iPhones to 1334 x 750. This meant that the larger screen still had a high pixel density of 326ppi (pixels per inch), so image quality was incredibly sharp and detailed.

As the name suggests, the iPhone 6 Plus went even larger, with a whopping 5.5-inch display, marking Apple's first foray into the phablet market. The iPhone 6 Plus also got a resolution boost to full high definition, 1920 x 1080. With a pixel density of 401ppi, not only does the iPhone 6 Plus have the largest screen of any iPhone ever, but it also has the clearest.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus also benefit from Apple's use of "dual-domain pixels", which along with the 1300:1 contrast ratio makes the screen on the handsets look absolutely fantastic.

Both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus also ditched the industrial and sharp-edged design that had been with the iPhone for four generations, in favour of a more ergonomically-pleasing chassis with a screen that curves into a body with rounded edges and corners.

Both handsets feature metal backs, and as we pointed out in our reviews, they take a lot of design language from the iPad Air, resulting in a product that looks and feels genuinely premium.

Another big change is that the boosted screen sizes and the corresponding increase in body dimensions have meant that the power button now resides on the right-hand side of the devices.

Along with the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Apple, released iOS 8, which kept many of the flat aesthetics of iOS 7 and ushered in some neat new features.

It wasn't a completely smooth launch, however, and after only a few months Apple has already patched it to iOS 8.1.3 in a bid to squash bugs and fix problems.

The rocky launch of iOS 8 was in stark contrast to the assured releases of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with Apple proudly announcing that the two iPhones broke the company's records for pre-orders in the first night they were available.

iPhone 6S/6S Plus (ninth generation)

iPhone 6S

Launched: September 2015

Say hello to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. So what can you expect from Apple's ninth generation smartphone? As the names suggest the 6S and 6S Plus don't exactly ring the changes. Rather they build on the solid base provided by the 6 and 6 Plus from 2014.

The keep the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays, with the same resolutions, and there's nothing new in the design department with Apple sticking with the well received look of its eighth generation devices. There is however a new color, with rose gold joining silver, gold and space grey. Lovely.

Both still sport all metal bodies, but they're now formed from 7000 series aluminum, which Apple says is super tough.

There is a new power unit under the hood, with Apple's new A9 chip boosting performance, while the rear facing camera is now an impressive 12MP offering with a new Live Photo feature which can capture a few seconds of video with each snap.

The big talking point here though is Apple's new 3D Touch technology. This allows the display on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus to monitor how much pressure you're applying to it.

With the ability to measure the force of your finger, the new iPhones can provide additional functionality. Peek at content without the screen it's embedded in by lightly pressing on it, and press firmly to open it in a separate window.

iPhone SE (tenth generation)

iPhone SE

Launched: March 2016

The latest release from Apple is the iPhone SE, which takes a lot of features from the iPhone 5S and brought them into a phone ready to face the market of 2016.

It's the perfect choice for you if you're looking for a smaller iPhone as it comes with a 4-inch screen. The body looks much like the iPhone 5S and while the design may seem a little tired, it still feels premium to the touch.

Plus the iPhone SE comes with a 12MP rear-facing camera, a 64GB storage option and iOS 9 software.

The screen technology on the iPhone SE is a little out of date but the iPhone SE is the cheapest Apple phone you can buy right now and it offers up a better battery life than any other iPhone you can buy today.

Expect us to update this list in the coming months as we expect to see a brand new iPhone coming in September 2016.

  • Everything we want to see from the iPhone 7

Panasonic Debuts Solidly Spec?d Eluga U2

Panasonic is still not a major smartphone name across the globe, but the company does great business in Japan, where it is even above Samsung in terms of market share. The company is looking to expand into other regions, and I am excited to see the high-end CM-1 (with a 1-inch camera sensor) in the US this fall (even if it is $1000). The company has something more affordable lined up too in the form of the Eluga U2.
Read the full story here.

HP Reports Q1 2015 Results with Notebook Units Up and Desktop Down

HP today announced financial results for its fiscal 2015 first quarter ended January 31, 2015. First quarter net revenue of $26.8 billion was down 5% from the prior-year period and down 2% on a constant currency basis. Here's more info:First quarter GAAP diluted net earnings per share (EPS) was $0.73, down from $0.74 in the prior-year period and within ...
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