Samsung Clones ‘Jet Black;’ HTC May Leave Smartphone Biz; Amazon’s Clarkson Show Has Big Debut; Electric VWs to be Made in USA

In the past, when Samsung has just plain poached Apple ideas and designs, it’s been a big hit for them. (It’s also hit them in the wallet sometimes, as Apple has sued and won.) Now, Samsung is going to clone Apple’s hot “Jet Black” color. According to bgr.com, they aren’t even waiting for the Galaxy S8….they will roll out Jet Black S7 models as soon as next month. Hey, it’s hard to get sued for using the same color!

HTC has made some really cool phones, and I have several friends that have had them and loved them. They haven’t really caught fire…figuratively…not in the Galaxy Note 7 way, however. Digitaltrends.com says rumors are flying now that HTC will bail out of smartphones completely by this coming spring. They have quietly been shopping the division around, but nothing so far. It wouldn’t be out of the question for Google to snap them up, since the success of the new Google Pixel phones.

Yesterday, Netflix snarked that Amazon hadn’t really paid $160 million to produce their ‘Top Gear’ type show titled ‘The Grand Tour,’ saying it was more like $250 million. The show, starring Jeremy Clarkson, and his former Top Gear colleagues, debuted Friday. It was the biggest premiere ever on Amazon Prime Video, according to businessinsider.com, eclipsing ‘The Man in the High Castle.’ Not only that, it was the top rated show on IMDB with a 9.6 and got 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon says it got the second most one day sign ups for Prime ever last Friday. Sounds like a hit!

Volkswagen says they will begin building electric vehicle models in North America,and even the US by 2021. Techcrunch.com picked up a report from Automotive news, citing VW brand lead Herbert Diess. Vee Dub will also build large SUVs and limos here. The Mexico factories will also crank out EVs for the North American market.


Galaxy S8 Rumors; iPhone 7 Models Sold Out in Stores

Battery fire issues on the Note 7 aside, Samsung is pressing ahead with the Galaxy S8 series. According to 9to5google.com, there are now official code names of Dream and Dream2, and it looks like the whole Galaxy line will go to wraparound Edge screens. On the down side, Samsung is probably going to not only ditch the headphone jack like Apple, but roll out their own proprietary port like Apple’s Lightening. That would allow them to charge accessory makers a licensing fee…and irritate all of us, who will now have to carry around Lightening, USB-C, and Samsung adapters everywhere. Since the Note 7 battery fire issue, it’s looking like Samsung will move the rollout up a week or two…maybe even to a month ahead of Mobile World Congress.

Yes, there’s very slim inventory of iPhone 7 models for stores tomorrow. TechCrunch.com says no Jet Black phones are available, and iPhone 7 Plus models are completely sold out. Your best bet is to order online and wait. If you really want one tomorrow, try a phone carrier store or other non-Apple store…they sometimes have a few phones early in the morning.


Chevy Bolt Will Break the 200 Mi Ceiling; Netflix-Caps Are Dumb; T-Mobile iPhone Preorders Explode, Longer Tweets in Days

Chevrolet has announced that the Bolt…the smaller, all electric sibling to the hybrid Volt….will have a range of 238 miles. Engadget.com notes that 200 miles is the ‘sweet spot,’ and cars having range exceeding that seem to ease driver fear of being stranded. Chevy says the Bolt will be in showrooms before the end of the year. The Tesla Model 3 is still about a year away from hitting the roads.

Days ago, Netflix wrote the FCC, imploring the Federal Cookie Company…as broadcasters have loved to call it…to disallow data caps. Bgr.com reports that Netflix argues caps serve no legitimate purpose and ‘are an ineffective management tool,’ really serving as a way for Comcast and TWC to stifle competition…primarily from services like Netflix. The Federal Communications Commission…which generally moves with the speed of an elderly snail…has yet to respond.

For months, the tech media has whined that the iPhone 7 would be SO boring with not changing the case design that sales would tank. According to appleinsider.com, T-Mobile’s CEO says sales of the iPhone 7 are quadruple that of the iPhone 6. So far on T-Mobile, Matte Black is the most popular color…that’s what I have coming. CEO Legere has a Jet Black one on the way.

The wait is nearly over…next Monday, Twitter’s longer Tweets will finally be live. Theverge.com reminds us that media attachments…including images, videos, polls, etc, as well as quoted Tweets, will no longer count towards the 140 character limit. Usernames at the beginning of Tweets will also no longer be counted. Go crazy, Twitterati!


Some iPhone 7 Plus Models Sold Out in Hours; FAA- Advises Against Galaxy Note 7s on Planes

Apple put the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus on pre-sale at midnight Friday morning. In less than 4 hours, according to bgr.com, some models were sold out. The 2 larger capacity iPhone 7 Plus models in the new glossy Jet Black are now backordered until November. Plus models in black or silver, it’s a 2-3 week wait. The Jet Black 128 gig iPhone 7 is also looking at a November ship date. Most of the iPhone 7 models can still be ordered for delivery next Friday. Of course, with Apple, it’s always a question of whether a shortage is from high demand, Apple’s mis-calculating demand, or artificially caused to keep the ‘reality distortion field’ going! I went with black over the Jet Black, which Apple warned may scratch more easily.

The gift that keeps on giving from Samsung. The FAA has strongly advised not to use or charge a Galaxy Note 7 on planes, due to possible battery explosions. Recode.net says it’s not an outright ban. That’s good, since Samsung is recalling the recently released handset that’s been reviewed by many as the best ever Android device. Fliers are also advised not to place the phones in checked baggage. The recall just days before Apple’s iPhone 7 rollout has to have Samsung reeling. Still, it remains the best Android handset, and with the company in the process of replacing 2.5 million of them, the problem should clear up relatively quickly.


Apple’s Event-Dual Cameras and High Gloss and AirPods…Oh, My!

Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to the world yesterday, and generally the leaks were pretty well accurate. They have a faster processor with 4 cores…which, interestingly, work in 2 pairs for either performance or power saving. The Home button now doesn’t move (or leak or break) and uses Haptic feedback to let you know if picked up your touch or presses, the phones are dust and water resistant, and our beloved and venerable headphone jack is gone. Screens are 25% brighter, and produce cinema grade color.

The big headlines, as noted by macrumors.com and others, are new glossy piano black (which Apple calls Jet Black) and matte black colors joining gold and rose gold, and improved cameras. The 7 gets a faster camera with image stabilization previously only available on the Plus, and the Plus gets the dual lens setup…one is wide angle, the other a telephoto.

The latter has a 2 power optical zoom and 10 power digital zoom. All the rear cams are 12 megapixel, with the selfie cam now bumped to 7 megapixel. The zoom is a welcome addition, as is better low light performance. The Plus will also get a software update that will allow portraits with the subject in sharp focus, and a blurred background, like pros have had on SLR and DSLR cameras.

Preorders start tomorrow, and memory has been bumped to 32, 128, and 256 gigs. The 32 gig 7 starts at $649, or $27 a month with the upgrade plan.

The ‘one more thing’, if there was one, was the new wireless headphones called AirPods. They feature internal chips for a claimed 5 hours of use, simpler pairing across Apple devices, tight Siri integration, and a charging case that can recharge them up to 4 times before needing to plug in. Apple will provide a Lightening to mini phone jack adapter for those of us with many sets of wired headphones and other accessories that need one. The $159 AirPods will be out late October, and it remains to be heard if Apple has really solved the issues of drops and noisy audio over Bluetooth to make AirPods truly worthy of replacing high end headphones.