Archive for October 2009
InStat today put out a report on the worldwide smartphones trends. According to this report, smartphones of future will have a different user experience than today’s smartphones. InStat expects that this new user experience driven smartphones will increase competition and shipments will increase to 412 million in 2014.
One key feature that InStat survey respondents would like in their future smartphones is accelerometer. According to InStat, of the 412 million shipped in 2014, 340 million smartphones will have accelerometer in them.
Another observation in the report is that 52% of the cost of building a smartphone goes towards the display, baseband and app processors, and software & licensing. Though one pecularity about this observation is that InStat feels it is unjustified. However, to me, that is the cost of developing a smartphone, in other words, that is the cost of putting “smart” in the smartphone.
This report is available for sale at InStat for $3,495.
Verizon today announced the launch date for RIM’s Blackberry Storm2 with Blackberry OS 5.0 as October 28. The phone will be available for sale through its stores, online and through other channels for $179.99 after $100 mail-in rebate.
Just to recap, the key features of this phone are:
- 3.25 inches touchscreen with capacitive touch
- 3G support using EV-DO Rev A, UMTS, HSPA & Quad-band GSM network support.
- 3.2 Mpxl camera with autofocus, image stabilization and video recording
Though, the one big miss on Verizon’s part is that they have not provided an easy upgrade plan for the existing Storm users, like what Apple & AT&T did for iPhone. However, they have provided software upgrade for existing Storm users via a update site starting today.
RIM is apparently working on their next generation mobile devices and one such path is following Sony Ericsson. Rumors are floating that RIM is working on a new bluetooth supported watch to go with its devices. To prove it, Evan over at Crackberry was able to get some images. Now, it remains to be seen if these are truly the images of the RIM watch or fake. Also, RIM has not made any announcement on it yet so we don’t know when it will be launched if at all.
You might recall that RIM was rumored to be following down Sony Ericsson’s path of branded Bluetooth watches to accompany its phones, and now, it looks like we might have the first real renderings of the final product before our eyes. This here wrist candy is possibly called the “inPulse” (not to be confused with Verizon’s similarly-named prepaid offering), featuring an OLED display, real-time message preview, and presumably some sort of glanceable caller ID to make needlessly pulling your Tour out of its holster a thing of the past. Interestingly, it seems like the watch isn’t being developed in-house — instead, work has been farmed out to some company dedicated to the BlackBerry aftermarket with an official announcement expected “soon.” As far as we know, Sony Ericsson’s watches — which arguably look nicer on account of their analog / digital hybrid design — haven’t been hot sellers, but who knows, maybe RIM’s got some neat tricks up its sleeve with this one.[Thanks, Evan]
Acer announced its long-awaited Liquid smartphone (previously known as A1) with Snapdragon heart and customized face on the Android 1.6 guts. It supports 800X480 VGA, HSPDA, 5Mpxl camera with auto-focus, ISO control, geo-tagging and self-timer. It will be available in red, white & black colors when it is released later this year. Acer has not yet announced the price or the carriers it will launch on.
Starting all the way back in December of 2008, Acer let it be known that it was working on a self-branded smartphone. Then, this past June, Acer up and joined the Open Handset Alliance and said that it would release its first Android device by Q4 of 2009. Well what do you know. Q4 is here and Acer has actually put its money where its mouth was with the announcement of its first Android-based, Snapdragon-powered smartphone, Liquid.
Acer is touting its new Liquid mobile (previously known as the A1) as “the world’s first Snapdragon and Android 1.6 smartphone” and who are we to disagree. Along with its powerful 1Ghz Snapdragon mobile processor and Android 1.6, the Liquid features a “high definition” 800×480 wide VGA capacitive touch screen display and comes in either red, white, or black. According to Acer:
[The Liquid] is the ideal solution for users demanding the best from their devices, and in particular outstanding multimedia, web browsing, social media integration and video streaming. It also brings smartphone product design forward with its unique and modern style.
This platform brings to market unique benefits for the end users and paves the way for a new wave of innovations from the developer community:
* With its High Definition capacitive touch screen (Wide VGA), Acer Liquid offers today an unparalleled experience when watching pictures or videos. But it also holds a promise for the future: the promise of an abundance of new applications on Android™ Smart Handhelds – games, professional applications and web applets that will enrich the end user experience. Now developers can be assured that their investment will build upon a standard resolution for the years to come;
* Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon™ processor, Acer Liquid provides instant access to web pages, smooth streaming of videos or music , and instant response from popular mail, maps and search applications. The high-speed processing capability and high-speed internet access (HSPA) of Snapdragon™ brings to life the Android™ experience: no idle-time, almost instant uploads of web pages and downloads of rich multimedia contents. The developer community can now take full advantage of these capabilities to bring to market innovative applications that demand raw computing power and superior handling of 3D graphics.
The Liquid also includes HSPA connectivity, a 5MP camera with auto-focus, geo-tagging, ISO and a self-timer, and “a slim body shape…that fits well in the hand, and displays a smooth finish.” Oh, and we cannot forget the Liquid’s “unique software enhancements” including:
* Improved power management to help achieve longer battery autonomy for intense users;
* A new user interface with easy access to entertainment and web bookmarks;
* An optimized camera with geo-tagging, ISO, self-timer options and accelerated auto-focus performance;
* Exclusive Spinlets™ application providing free streaming of worldwide music and video, that can be shared with friends and family through web-posting or e-mail;
* Smart integration of Facebook™, Twitter™, Youtube™, Picasa™ and Flickr™ in the address book, with realtime notification of status or content updates.
Acer conveniently left out all the juicy pricing and availability details. But hey, they said they’d drop a ‘droid in Q4, and gosh darn it…they meant it!
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Here is a great analysis of Google’s challenge in Mobile Search by GigaOm. Clearly, the paradigm shift required for moving from PCs to mobile phones is going to create a serious headache for all players in the mobile search arena. However, mobile might be a small opening for some other player to make their mark and challenge Google’s dominance in search market.
Google’s dominance on the Internet is unquestioned, but its mobile search offering will have to address four major factors if it is to dominate wireless the way it rules the online world. There’s no denying Google’s momentum in mobile: Its Android operating system is attracting handset manufacturers and carriers at impressive rates, its developer community is showing growth, and thanks to a deal with Verizon, the OS will soon enjoy the reach of America’s largest mobile network operator.
That momentum will help Google’s mobile search business nearly triple over the next two-plus years, Jefferies & Co. is predicting, surpassing the $500 million mark in 2011. And that figure seems almost modest, as mobile search is expected to help fuel $4.2 billion in ad revenues in the U.S. alone by 2015, according to new figures from Coda Research Consultancy. But mobile search is still a wide-open space teeming with competitors, including pure-play search providers that sometimes understand the pros and cons of wireless better than their Internet counterparts. So Google’s offering will need to address four key issues if the company is to retain its dominance as mobile search gets legs:
- Consider the device. People look for different things from mobile search than from traditional online search, so results should automatically differ based on the device being used. Just as Google uses device-detection technology to format web pages accordingly, it should deliver different results to mobile phones than to computers.
- Tie the PC to the phone. Google has moved effectively in this direction with new features that integrate Google Maps on the PC, enabling users to flag specific sites on computers then access information about them later from their handsets, and it has introduced a feature that keeps users’ mobile and desktop histories in sync. It must continue to tie the two devices together to help usher its online users into mobile search.
- Deliver results based on context. Search histories and filters are a start, but Google and its competitors must do a better job of considering factors such as time of day and location when returning results, minimizing the need for users to scroll through screens to find what they’re looking for.
- Expand its search categories. A quick look at search apps for Apple’s iPhone indicates a demand for information regarding specific topics like baby names, medical documents and song lyrics. I think there will always be a need for such niche apps, but Google could compete against downloadable search apps by building out its mobile web search to include a host of categories.
Google’s invaluable brand and massive footprint on the web give it huge advantages as it builds its mobile business, and Android is gaining traction in a big way. As the company tries to recreate its online success in mobile, it must increasingly consider the differences between phones and computers. And because handsets may eventually overtake computers as a search platform, this is a game Google must play to win.
Last week, Nokia handed out pre-release units of its upcoming N900 smartphone to about 300+ attendees at its Maemo Summit. Today, we have our first in-depth review of the phone, courtesy of the UnwiredView. They have done a pretty good job of evaluating this phone and are holding out the carrot by promising multiple posts on the features of the phone. You can read their first impressions below. Then stop by and let me know what you think. Is it a true competitor for the iPhone? Will you buy it based on the first impression (after all, as they say, first impressions are the last impressions)?
Yesterday, around lunchtime, my test model of Nokia N900 arrived at the door.
And, with a few hours of sleep interrupt, I’ve been playing with it ever since. For about 15 hrs. now. So I think it’s time to put it away for a while, and share some first impressions I got from playing around with Nokia N900.
The bottom line – I’m impressed. Very impressed. Really, really impressed.
On the other hand, I know understand why Nokia is insisting that N900 is more of a work in progress, “step 4 in a 5 step program”, that it’s a niche device and should be sold mostly to early adopters, who like to push the limits, but won’t mind a bug or two, or some common elsewhere, but missing in N900 feature.
And Nokia N900 is certainly not a phone. While you can feel that most Nokia smartphones are designed as phones, with “smart” functions added on top and around, N900 feels the opposite. Like a small screen computer with a phone functionality added on top.
I will also mention, that the device I have is a pre-release handset, and Nokia is still ironing out minor bugs, so there’s a good chance that quite a few of the bugs/shortcomings I noticed, will be fixed/resolved by the time N900 hits the streets in a week or two.
Nokia N900 first impressions. Starting-up
Just like any new handset, when you boot it up, you are greeted with a screen to enter the things like time, date, language, regional settings, etc. After that, N900 launches, with a screen looking something like this:
and lets you play a “Get started” video, which does what it says pretty well, and quickly takes you through the main features and functions of the device.
Then it’s time to actually start exploring and playing with the handset. The 4 available desktop panels on Nokia N900 are somewhat filled up with the preinstalled widgets and shortcuts. To find my bearings around N900, I just started sliding from panel to panel with a swipe gesture, tapping around and checking out what each shortcut or widget does.
The problem is, I managed to, unintentionally, but very quickly, wipe out all the preinstalled shortcuts and widgets away from all the panels. I did it by simply by deselecting and then selecting again the active panels in “Desktop set-up”–>”Manage views” menu.
Which left me with a screen like this:
Completely empty spaces, without a single shortcut, widget or any other indication what to do. And remember, there is not a single physical or soft key on the front of the device. Which, at first, confused and pissed me off a bit, but then turned out to be for the best.
Filling things back was pretty intuitive and easy. Just tap at the top of the screen a couple of times to get to “desktop settings” menu, and start adding things back. Doing that without any hints and pre-conceptions of Nokia engineers of what’s important to me, allowed me to customize the 4 available desktop panels of Nokia N900, exactly the way I wanted.
Nokia N900 first impressions. Touchscreen, navigation and usability
It’s a conventional wisdom that resistive touchscreen will always be inferior to the capacitive one. Nokia N900 has a resistive touchscreen, so, no matter what, it can not be very good.
And, like most conventional wisdoms, this one’s is also dead wrong. The touchscreen on Nokia N900 is very responsive, fast and easy to use. I did not have any problems with it so far.
Overall phone navigation is pretty well thought out too.
You have 4 desktop panels, where you can place any installed widgets, shortcuts to various apps, functions, or contacts. You can move through panels with a swipe gesture.
At the top left corner of the screen there is an “Applications menu”.
Tap on it once and it brigs up a dashboard where active/running application thumbnails and notification about missed calls, messages, e-mails, etc; are displayed.
Tap twice, and you are taken to the application menu.
In the first open window of app menu, only main default N900 apps and functions are displayed. And the non scrollable area contains only 15 icons, so it can be a bit confusing at first - I got an impression that there’s only very limited amount of apps available. However, when you press the bottom right “More…” icon, another , bigger/scrollable page opens, where various installed and ready to be installed apps are displayed.
Tapping anywhere at the top of “app menu” screen, takes you back to active app dashboard. Taping anywhere outside active apps, takes you to the main desktops panels. Tapping on an active up, of course, brings up that app.
Overall, it took me between 15 to 30 minutes to get used to it, and then I was able to navigate anywhere in the device extremely fast, with a few intuitive taps and swipes.
Next to the “Applications menu” you have a “Status bar” , where relevant connectivity/phone status symbols are displayed. Things like – on-line offline, connected to 3G Networks, Wi-Fi data connection, remaining battery power, time, etc;.
Tapping on a status bar, brings up “Status menu”, where you can quickly adjust things like time/alarms, internet connection options, availability status on IM services, phone profile, Bluetooth, USB, etc;
Tapping anywhere else at the top of the touchscreen, brings up the set up options/menu for the active Window. If it’s the main desktop panel, options to add, delete and move around various icons and shortcuts, change background and themes, appear. If it’s a browser window – you get various options for the browser, in phone app – telephone app set-up and so on.
Nokia N900 First Impressions. Phone, SMS, VoIP/Skype and IM integration
Contrary to most of the other traditional smartphones, Nokia N900 is not centered around the phone function. There are no “Answer”/ “Hang up” buttons or menu keys on it, no default/compulsory phone access from the home screen. On Nokia N900, telephony is truly just another application. Not much different from Skype, Google Talk, Jabber and other instant messaging clients.
In fact, Google Voice, Skype, Nokia IM, Jabber and SIP clients are natively integrated in the phone app. For now, I had a chance to try only Google Talk and Skype on N900. But those two worked like a charm inside the main phone/contacts app.
To get GTalk and Skype running on N900, I only had to add them as “New accounts” with my login details. That’s it. All the contacts from both services were imported into my address book and the services are active whenever I am online.
When I want to contact a person, I just select a person and decide how I want to go about that: make a phone call, send an e-mail, send Skype/GTalk instant message or make a Skype call. There’s no functional difference, friction or difference in the telephony/contact app between any of these options. So you just select whichever is the most convenient mode of contact at this particular moment, and do it.
I already see my Skype (both free and paid) usage going through the roof with this, while at the same time reducing mobile phone bills too.
Well, there was one small inconvenience with all those multiple accounts merged into the phone book. Since I’m not too careful or diligent in maintaining contact lists on those services, the merged phone book got kinda messy, and required some manual cleaning and record merging. But it was worth it. And, also, with the option to delegate a desktop panel or two exclusively to the contacts I communicate with the most, I’m now in touch with them much better then I was before.
Nokia N900 first impressions. Internet browsing and multi-tasking.
Internet browsing and multitasking are probably the coolest features of Nokia N900.
For now, I think, the internet browser and overall Net browsing experience on Nokia N900 ,is probably the the best one among the mobile devices of similar size.
It takes a little time to get used to Nokia’s strange clockwise/counterclockwise finger rotation gesture for zooming. But once you get used to it, Internet browsing experience on N900 becomes the best, compared to any other device around (iPhone included). Of course, it is still not a complete desktop experience, there is only so much you can do on a 3.5 inch screen. But it is the next best thing for now.
And Nokia N900 does a true, almost PC level multi-tasking without breaking a sweat. Here’s a screenshot of of Nokia N900 dashboard with 6 open browser windows, 9 active applications (File manager, Phone app, Conversations app, Ovi Maps, E-mail app, Chess and Blocks games, PDF reader with an e-book open, Gallery app) and an mp3 podcast playing in the background.
And, with all that stuff running, there was no significant slowdown in overall speed of the device.
Well, this first impression thing starts running pretty long. I think I’m gonna take a brake for now and will be back tomorrow with part 2. Today was all praises of Nokia N900, tomorrow I’ll talk about the things that piss me off about it and some conclusions.
- Nokia will integrate Skype into its handsets
- Samsung F480 review
- First screenshots of Nokia’s upcoming S60 Touch UI leaked ui
- #CTIA09: Hands-on With Garmin M20 Nuvifone
- Skype for Your Mobile in Beta
Last week at the CTIA, AT&T acknowledged that it is having issues with the bandwidth and how the some users were utilizing lot of data bandwidth and how it was impacting the service. Clearly, AT&T has its hands full satisfying demand for data bandwidth with its existing user base which according to research has increased 5000 times over the last 3 years. Inspite of this, hardware manufacturers continue to launch new products on the AT&T network. We know that Dell is planning to launch its new Android-based mobile phone on the AT&T network. Today, Nokia announced that it will launch its new netbook, the Booklet 3G on the AT&T network for $299.99. Not to mention, RIM launching its new white Blackberry Bold, LG & Samsung continuing to provide additional new products. Given all this, I have just one question: What are they thinking?
From a business sense, it is logical to go where your consumers are. Granted, AT&T has one of the largest customer base in US and have been very successful with iPhone. But, given the bandwidth crunch AT&T is facing, if I am one of the executives making this decision, I would really not want to launch on this network, especially if it is a new product. Ultimately, no matter how good a device, customers buy the complete package: mobile device and the service. And if the customer is not going to have a quality experience on my device because of issues at the service provider, guess what they are going to say: the device is no good, since it keeps dropping the connection. I know this is not the device fault because I am enough of a geek to know what is causing this. Even an average consumer may have heard or know that connection loss may not be the fault of the device. But, if it occurs repeatedly, most consumers will give up on the device, much like I have the iPhone which I use only as a secondary phone. For my business, my primary phone is still a Blackberry 8830 on the Verizon network.
Already, living in Silicon Valley, I am reminded daily of the AT&T bandwidth issue on my iPhone. Sure, AT&T is working on fixing this issue and I know that because I got a mailer from them stating that they have improved the coverage in my area. Guess what, inspite of that, my iPhone keeps dropping the calls atleast 3-5 times a day. I am truly dreading what will the impact be on the AT&T network once the new devices are in consumer hands.
So, for those of you who have moved beyond the “any color so long as its black” syndrome for the Blackberry Bold from AT&T, finally, there is some choice. RIM has let the cat out of the bag at last week’s CTIA and today, AT&T confirmed that it will be releasing the preetier, more elegant white Bold this Sunday, October 18 for $199.99.
RIM kinda already spilled these beans last week at CTIA, but just for good measure, AT&T went ahead and officially announced the white version of the BlackBerry Bold today, and it's exactly as we expected: the launch will come on October 18 for the same price as the black version — so unless they cut the black's price between now and next week, we're looking at $199.99 on contract after rebate. That's a lot to pay for a year-old phone when the successor is seeming weeks away (at most), but then again, we’ll admit it, the white accents suit this phone insanely well — so well, in fact, that it almost qualifies as a new model as far as we’re concerned. Are we crazy?
This economy is making companies think in creative ways on how to make money. One such innovative approach in the mobile industry is the new-fangled Mobile Virtual Network Aggregator (MVNA). What is this you ask? Well, it is aggragation of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). Think of it as the WordPress.com or Ning of the mobile network world. Just like WordPress.com provides a common platform to launch multiple blogs, the MVNA provides shared services that its clients can leverage to quickly launch a new MVNO. The first sucn deal was announced today. Orange in Europe has signed a deal with Transatel, one of the first MVNA to help launch new MVNOs. The two partners says that due to this agreement they will be able to cut down the lead time from several months to six weeks. Orange hopes to launch 20 such MVNOs a year once fully operational.
Now, the big question is whether Orange will be able to convince enough brands to fill its 20/year pipeline goal.
Welcome to the world of the MVNA
Orange has signed a deal with Mobile Virtual Network Aggregator (MVNA) Transatel to handle technical details for as yet unborn MVNOs that could now launch within weeks rather than months.…
With the economy slowly on the mend and the industry struggling with bandwidth, there is a merger mania going on in the mobile industry. Orange & T-Mobile over in UK have kicked things off and Sprint-Nextel followed it by acquiring the Virgin Mobile MVNO that operates on Sprint’s network. In addition, Bharti Airtell merger with MTN was stopped by Indian Government. There are more rumors which are making the investment bankers salivate. So what are they pushing?
First up is the perrenial favorite, Microsoft & RIM merger. Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, thinks that Microsoft should buy RIM even though it might be expensive. On paper, this match is made in heaven with Microsoft’s strong engineering, deep pockets and large, loyal commercial customer base and RIM’s strength in enterprise email and hardware. This has been talked about for two years or more now but Microsoft has indicated that they are not interested. It remains to be seen how long it takes the talking heads and the investment types to convince MS otherwise.
This next one is intriguing and if it comes to fruition, this could shake the worldwide mobile industry up and at the same time give some joy to its competitors. There are rumors coming out of UK over the weekend that Vodafone might be considering merging with Verizon Communication so that it can get some benefits from its investment in their joint venture Verizon Wireless. Now, if this were to happen, it could be big news as two of the most popular wireless brands would merge and can become truly a worldwide behemoth. However, there are dangers in this for both companies as the integration could take their focus away from growing and fighting off the competition. From timing perspective, this might be a now or never moment. Given that the industry is slowing and worldwide economy is not expected to expand until after Q3 of 2010, it might be tempting to roll the dice. However, there are significant hurdles to this deal as regulators in Europe, Asia and US will have to approve the deal which alone could take up well over a year. In the meantime, the two companies must keeping moving forward. Vodafone needs to continue to focus on growth in Western Europe and India while Verizon needs to build out its LTE network and not give up ground to AT&T. If the two companies can pull this off with any form of succcess, it would be a significant coup and feather in the cap of the leadership team. But, all this is conjecture until the deal is announced.
Finally, this deal seems to be equally long-shot. Deutche Telecom, is considering acquiring Sprint-Nextel and merging it with its T-Mobile Unit. While regulators should not have hard time approving it, the merger process would be insane with Sprint still trying to clean up after its Nextel acquisition. In addition, Sprint needs to decide what to do with its Clearwire investment.