Rdio already has a number of stamps in its passport, Canada, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand amongst them. But, the current focus for the streaming music service is Europe, where it’s already launched in Germany, Denmark, Portugal and Spain. While we still don’t have any solid dates, Scott Bagby, the company’s VP of partnerships and internationalization, told paidContent:UK that a pile of new nations are on deck for the coming months, with hopes of covering the entire continent. With licensing deals already struck in the UK, we’re pretty confident England will be part of this next batch of rollouts, but Rdio has no intentions of confining itself to the western world. Bagby said in the interview, “we already have a guy on the ground in Asia,” so look for the service to go live in a few more locales across the pacific. No time frame was given for the Asian launches but, if the company is serious about establishing a foothold there, it should do so sooner rather than later. As Bagby points out, Rdio is “a couple of years behind others in terms of expansion.”
Groupme, the little group messaging service that made a bit of a splash at Google I/O, turns 3.0 today. There are some shiny new features on board, including a simpler way to exchange private messages and “Questions” for sparking conversations when you’re not sure who to talk to. But, the big news — Groupme 3.0 is now platform and nation agnostic. With the latest update, the service will be available in 90 countries and add Windows Phone 7 to its list of supported OSes, alongside iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android. Even if you’re sitting in front of your desktop you can still take part in the mass messaging fun. The website has been overhauled and now sports all of the same features, like photo-sharing and group management, as the mobile apps. Check out the source link to get the latest version for your handset of choice — provided you’re not a Symbian fan — and don’t miss the gallery below.
You know that microSD card slot that’s been laying dormant in your Motorola Xoom? Provided you don’t reside in the US, that’ll be getting activated soon as part of the tablet’s Android 3.1 update, which is starting to roll out now and should have all of Europe covered within the next few weeks. Motorola explicitly identifies this as a firmware update for “non-US” Xooms, so Canadians would be well advised to check their software update utility, though the big question is why didn’t the American 3.1 update include microSD support as well? What tangled web of intrigue lies behind this selective activation?
You know something big is about to go down when you can get the CEOs from two major tech companies to sit down together for lunch. As suspected, today’s Sprint / Motorola event, presided over by Dan Hesse and Sanjay Jha, marked the debut of the rumored Photon 4G. The handset packs a 4.3-inch qHD display, 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in memory, and pre-installed Gingerbread — plus, for better or worse, the latest version of Blur. The skinny new smartphone’s got front and rear facing cameras (the latter of which is eight megapixels), a dedicated camera button, and micro-USB and HDMI ports, which will hook into a soon to be announced docking device.
The handset is the first from a US carrier to offer up global 4G connectivity, and it’s also got 3G support, should you need it (that’s CDMA / WiMAX in the US and GSM internationally). Enterprise functionality, traditionally a bit of an oversight with Android handsets, is present too, thanks to business-minded tools built into Blur and increased security, courtesy of the manufacturer’s acquisition of 3LM (“Three Laws Mobility” to its friends). Sprint’s influence shines through as well, with the inclusion of a built-in active kickstand on its rear, a first for a Motorola device. Flip it open, and the display will automatically switch to landscape mode for optimal viewing.
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Sure, you still may not be able to easily find an iPad 2 here in the US, but you can now sleep soundly knowing that the Japanese pen pal you had in elementary school could be rocking one by the end of the week. Amidst all the hub-bub about location tracking and pasty iPhones, Apple let slip that the WiFi iPad 2 will be available in Japan on April 28th, just as promised, coming to Hong Kong, India, Israel, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates a day later, then hitting China on May 6th. Local pricing is not confirmed, but suggested retail pricing matches US MSRPs ($499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB). 3G models are said to match US pricing as well ($629, $729, and $829), but Apple isn’t confirming when they’ll be available abroad, so at least you still have something over Katsumi.
It’s no secret that Netflix has grand plans to expand its global footprint that now feeds media to some 20 million North American subscribers. Hell, the company was boasting of the “significant dollars” allocated to its 2011 international expansion plans just four months ago. While nothing’s official yet, we’ve unearthed a few tantalizing openings posted to the Netflix job site over the last few days that could point to an imminent launch. Notably, Netflix’s customer service call center in Hillsboro Oregon is gearing up to expand its scope of operations beyond North America. Two new job postings for a Training Supervisor and Quality Assurance Analyst both mention the need to prepare for “rapid” international expansion and “will support a specific country / region outside of North America.” The Training Supervisor is being hired specifically to educate customer service reps in preparation for that future international growth. Neflix is looking for fluency in English in addition to Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), and Spanish (Latin American and European), leaving things pretty wide open with regard to the countries targeted for initial launch.
We do know that Netflix had plans to launch in the UK way back in 2004 — plans that were ultimately scrapped in order to focus on its core US business (and later Canada). But if not the UK then we should at least expect to see Netflix target the European continent first if a statement attributed to CEO Reed Hastings from way back in January of 2010 still rings true: “the big market for Hollywood content (after the U.S.) is Europe…Third is Asia. Fourth is the rest of the world.” Can’t let Amazon have the market to itself now can we Reed?
Earlier this year, HTC allowed its previously Verizon-exclusive brand name out to prowl the globe with the Incredible S, and now it’s doing the same with the heretofore Sprint-only EVO moniker. The EVO 3D, says a tweet from HTC’s French mouthpiece, is coming to the land of baguettes, stylish mustaches and stripy pullovers, though a little bit of mystery remains as to when exactly its arrival shall be. Whatever the schedule (the EVO 3D’s set for a “summer” release in the US), the rest of Europe’s unlikely to be left out, meaning a 4.3-inch superphone with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1080p video recording in 2D and 720p in 3D, HTC’s newest Sense skin and Android’s freshest Gingerbread build, is headed out to the Old World. And that, fellow pilgrims, is a mighty awesome thing indeed.
European dual-core aficionados were promised their fix way back in January from LG, however the Korean company’s delivery schedule evidently slipped a tiny bit as we’re today bidding adieu to the month of February. Good news is that LG will definitely, totally, honestly be releasing its Optimus 2X in “key European markets” this March. It’ll ship with Froyo on board, however a Gingerbread update is expressly promised, which should allay fears of being left with a very powerful but outdated piece of hardware. Last time we looked, Amazon’s German branch had priced this handset, to be known as the Optimus Speed in Deutschland, at just under €500, which sounds about right for its eventual unlocked price.