January 28, 2009
Competition is fast heating up in the handset space as touchscreens become all the rage. Apple this week came close to declaring all out legal war on the gadget maker community after it was awarded a patent for the game changing touch screen interface found on the iPhone.
During its recent investors call, Apple chief Tim Cook warned rivals that the company would vigorously defend its Intellectual Property and “go after” anybody that rips it off. The recently awarded patent covers aspects of Apple’s multi-touch and gesture-based user interface such as the pinching and spreading zoom feature.
Only days before, Palm had introduced its own touchscreen, web-centric operating system, WebOS, which boasts many features similar to those found on the iPhone. The first device to support the webOS platform is the Pre, which will be available exclusively from Sprint in the first half of 2009. Palm’s idea, it seems, is to tap into the vast developer ecosystem already being pillaged by web companies and handset vendors who were more ahead of the game.
Also playing catch up to some degree, Finnish handset vendor Nokia has just launched its first full fledged touch screen gadget, the 5800 ‘Tube’ handset. The Tube is the first device to be based on Symbian S60 5th Edition, which finally includes support for touch input and tactile feedback, while enhanced display resolution with a widescreen mode make for a more engaging visual experience.
Meanwhile, demonstrating the benefits of an open source community, an enthusiast coder has developed multitouch functionality for the Android platform. Luke Hutchison has made the necessary changes to the software stack to allow Android to support multitouch at the kernel level, giving the HTC G1 pinch and spread zoom capabilities.
Unfortunately, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion’s (RIM) recent forays into the touchscreen market have not been going so well. Reports are coming in that the Storm, which launched in November, is not being well received by consumers, supporting telecoms.com’s suspicions that the “sure press” interface is a little clunky. Rather than the light touch feel of the iPhone, or the stylus friendly experience of Symbian, the Storm’s entire screen depresses when pushed, allowing you to ‘click’ on items.
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