Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nokia Buys Out Symbian consortium and Give It Away For Free

What's the impact on mobile warriors? Well, giving Symbian away for free is not likely going to lower the price of the mobile device by much.

However, Nokia will position Symbian as a strong alternative to Windows Mobile and try to fight tide of Blackberry dominance and upstarts from little known companies like Apple (yeah, a company named after a fruit).

Overtime, we may see greater competition which will likely lead to better software, higher quality phones, accelerated research developments, and potentially lower prices.

For software developers, look for a SDK along the line of what Apple did for the iPhone and Nokia digging into its pocket changes for millions in development help for anyone who wishes to create software for the Symbian.

For consumers, the prospect of greater competition is what a free market is all about. I agree with the conventional thinking that the smartphone market can have many winners and the consumers ought to be one of them.

Personally, this is the rabbit that I have been expecting from Nokia. But it's only a bunny they've got. They need to create excitement the way Apple did with their SDK.

Potentially great news for mobile users.

Here's a list of the major players in the mobile smartphone arena (let me know if I missed anyone):

  • iPhone (OS X) - Look out. Apple has a vision and they look deep into the future. I'm very excited. Cost of OS is neglible.
  • Palm - new OS due in 2009, this century.
  • Window Mobile - Mobile 7 is going to be make-or-break
  • Android - also free
  • OpenMoko (I'm hoping they'll be a major player) - promised new phones in July, OS is free.
  • Blackberry - with a target on its back, it has to innovate quickly. They don't have the deep pocket Nokia and Microsoft has. I see them having the same problem Palm had if they rely only on e-mail.
  • Symbian - OS now free.
  • Linux (I think Nokia has a winner with the N tablet series)


One question I've got is what will the N800 platform be like?

Importance of Voice Commands for Smartphones

I've never really appreciated voice commands for mobile devices like smartphones until recently when I took up the bike to save the environment and some gas money. Okay, mostly gas money. But I have cut down on carbon emission to the tune of $28.77 in gas saved since taking up biking again.

This is what it's about. It's about riding the bike and having some sense control over the phone. I have a Motorola bluetooth headset that I'm fine with it for the most part. With my iPhone or just about any other Bluetooth phones, you already know that I can answer or end calls. With my old Sony phone, there was a not so great option for voice dialing. The ability to issues call commands, no matter how one decides if it is a necessary feature, is not available on my iPhone or the new iPhone 3G. I had always thought it unnecessary until now.

Then again, the question is, should one even try to navigate the treacherous roads of Los Angeles on a moving vehicle while talking? Suffice, to say, I'm going to be extra careful when California's hands-free law goes into effect on July 1.

But whether you're biking or driving, having a smart phone that responds commands beyond just calling or ending calls would be great. Say you're on your way to work and you want to know what kind of day you're going to have, it would be cool to have the smartphone read your days schedule for you. Even better, the ability make dictations for notes or e-mails can save a lot of time. After all, I'm sure you've seen people try to text or e-mail while driving.

More than that, it would be nice to be able to navigate the Internet through speech and have the smartphone read you stock prices or the day's headlines.

I have no clue how advanced voice-command are these days. It's been a while since I've owned anything that takes vocal input. Regardless, here's a wish list of voice features for the not-too-distant-future smartphones I love to see in the next Blackberry, gPhone, or anyone else who's willing to go a step further than anyone else.

  • voice dialing. It is the basic must have for all phones.
  • checking calendar events, to do lists and read back events within your specified time period.
  • ability receive command to check e-mails and tell speaker who the sender is, subject, and possibly body of the e-mail. You can also issue replies or ability to forward e-mails.
  • GPS commands. While riding, I was looking for a Jamba Juice. Be nice to be able to find the closest one and be directed there. Nice to able to request traffic conditions
  • ability to do dictations. I suppose if e-mail is possible, dictation will be as well.
  • rudimentary Internet access via voice - stock quotes, weather, RSS feeds all read to you depending on what you ask your smartphone to do.
  • car mode - let callers know you are driving/biking so they don't call like fifty thousand times if you don't feel like answering. I know people who answer phones while they are driving because they felt it was rude to ignore calls.

Note that the fatures I've listed are not Star Trek-like features. I dare not ask . But something more than just asking the smartphone to call voicemail is not asking too much. Perhaps some of the features I've asked for are already available in some fashion or another but it's not easy to use.

Given the depth of the OS smart phones use and the processing power, everything I've requested is possible. I just takes an effort on the part of a giant like Google or Nokia to make it happen.


By the way, there is a distinction in the CA law for drivers over 18 and minors (maturity is not taken into account). Drivers 18 and over will be allowed to use a hand-free device like a Bluetooth headset. For those under 18, stow away that phone. CA will be just the 5th state in the Union to adopt such law.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Openmoko: Don't Forget About Us!

OS X. Windows Mobile. Symbian. Android.

Now, Openmoko. That's right. Four. Now, maybe five. I came across it a year or so ago and did not think it would amount to anything. But that's all changed.

Engadget is reporting availability of Openmoko-based phones next month, mere weeks away. For mobile warriors, you'll have plenty of mobile devices, not to mention platforms, to choose from. So, iPhone, you're getting some company as an e-mail from Openmoko is stating mid-July. But I'm not really going to hold them to it because we have no idea who is making these phones or where they will be made available first.

I'm hoping it'll be picked up by as many carriers as possible. I'm still betting on the iPhone having a blockbuster summer but still, there's always room for a sleeper hit.

Meanwhile, you can learn a bit more about Openmoko if you don't already know about it:

- Wiki about Openmoko.
- Article about android but mentioned a dire prospect for Openmoko. That was then.
- For geeks, I mean hard-core fans, go here.
- Press release from about 17 months ago.

Given that Openmoko allows codes to be run natively (like C++), there could be a lot of developer and software support right out of the gate. We'll just have to see. Could companies like Nokia or others rally around such a platform as a hedge against OS X and Android?

We all know that since Steve Jobs called their multi-touch iPod/iPhone devices a new platform, everyone is scrambling to figure out what he means and what to do about it. Don't be surprised if telecoms and some manufacturers try to maintain status quo by using platforms like Openmoko as a hedge against Apple and Google.

We may also have to see which platforms the developers rally around. It's too early to tell.

With respect to the optimism this news of impending Openmoko devices and given my experience with the G1G1 program and empty promises, I'm not holding my breath though.

We'll know mid-July.

Mobility In During Summers

Malls. Libraries. Starbucks and other coffee shops. Borders and Barnes and Noble. These are the places I've thought of to escape the summer heat in Southern California.

Hope on my bike and just go. Like kids used to do when they want to go to the library, comics shop, or soda pop (I just don't see a lot of that anymore. It's a different world now). It's just easier to ask mommy or daddy to drive nowadays.

With the gas at what it is today (no point in giving a price now because it'll be higher by the time you finish reading this) I have had to think more about going out and how much I hope to accomplish when I do.

Yesterday, I put my XO laptop in my backpack and took off on my bike off to work out, run a couple of errands, and had a relaxing time at a local Pavilion that had a Starbucs, Jamba Juice, and a Panda Express in there. I consider it a hidden jewel in Pasadena as far as a mobile user in concerned.

I was able to get a lot done there on just the XO and the iPhone.

But today, it was quite different. With my mom back, I couldn't simply leave her at home so I decided to take her to the Santa Anita Mall in Arcadia. The problem with the convencience is that you will have to spend money. How much you spend will vary. There's a balancing act involve here. I feel basis I don't do something to support the merchant for allowing me to use their tables, AC, and electricity. One might think it appropriate to just get a small coffee. On the other hand, I usually get more than that. This morning at Borders, I got drinks as well as books.

But the convenience of the cafe at Borders has provided mobile users/workers a place to work on a hot summer day. Today, I am just kicking back and doing some light work but my mom is getting quite a bit out of it.

Having converted her into a mobile warrior, she brings her laptop with her everywhere. Today, she has been working on her designs with Photoshop and watching video on her Slingplayer.

So, is it worth it? The balance of comfort, expenses, added carbon in the air from driving an SUV, and trying to get through a hot day is something you'd have to consider carefully as a mobile user. For the most part, it is worth it. The driving enabled me to run a couple of other errands. Getting out a bit after a difficult week at work is nice. And we were comfortable so far.

I like folks to share how they deal with being mobile and rising monetary and environmental costs. Tips, life styles. Thanks.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Verizon Making Open Network Happen

Gizmodo (through Crave) is reporting Verizon has certified one device for use on their open network, Open Development Initiative (ODI). This is a boon for Google and any mobile warrior seeking to bring their own certified device to Verizon.

So far, there as not been a lot of information provided by Verizon Open Development executive, Anthony Lewis, on what this device is. The lack of information about the device and other fronts could mean ongoing changes and no concrete specifications will be provided until much later.

This is what we do know so far:


1. There are other devices being approved running Android, Windows, etc.
2. No contract will be required but no subsidies on ODI devices either.
3. Will not work with app developers directly.
4. Developers will have to work with device manufacturers.
5. Certification for ODI is more streamline than Verizon's own phones.
6. Verizon will probably have their own phones to maintain control.


So far, we are waiting for pricing (device and plans), what devices are available, and what limitations will be placed on developers, manufacturers, and, more importantly, mobile users. Also, there is no mention of plans for the 700Mhz.

It is entirely possible that Verizon will keep two separate markets, the current one for customers who have not yet realize their needs for an open network and are willing to be locked into contracts and the ODI network.

It is possible though some devices will command a premium than others. The possibility exists that a device maker may be willing to subsidize the handset through app sales and advertisements. This is all speculations at this point but this has been what Google has been pushing for.


Regardless of how this works out, the rest of you guys (Sprint and AT&T) need to step it up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Net Neutrality, Begged AT&T & Verizon

It's interesting when any giant corporations argue that all is good and there is not a need for the people to worry. That is precisely the time the consumers to start worrying. It is a bit like kids who have already done something bad or is about to do something bad.

AT&T along with Verizon got together to tell the FCC that they already have to tools to enforce net neutrality. Be that as it may, what's wrong with a bit of assurance from Congress? And AT&T getting together with Verizon to make this point? Shocking.

To make the story short, the largest cable provider, Comcast, has been screwing some of its subscribers by slowing down their download speed. It was targeted specifically at bandwidth hogs. P2P kind of things. Or so they said. I'm sure it's not a precursor to the day when folks start to download movies and other media.


The two telecom giants want the FCC to come down hard on Comcast. Keep in mind that no mention of consumers were made of AT&T and Verizon only that less regulation is good for the broadband industry.

This really bare watching as new broadband technology come online in the next few years. A lot of new wireless broadband technology such as Sprint's WiMax and LTE are months of not a couple of years away. Given an increasingly mobile workforce, it would not be inconceivable that one day, users abandon the shackles of today's broadband for tomorrow's faster and mobile services. These are the areas where AT&T and Verizon dominates and they know it.

It's never good when corporations come out against industry regulations and made no mention of consumer welfare. This is an issue we all need to pay close attention to given that it has not registered at all with mainstream Web media.

All mobile warriors, keep an eye on this and let me know if you read any developments.


Update: Here are some links related to this issue.

• AT&T to metering DSL subscribers.
AT&T spokesman Michael Coe says that given the trends the company is seeing, a form of usage-based pricing for those customers who have abnormally high usage patterns is "inevitable.
• Comcast to user: stop using your cable broadband if you want to keep it.
Looks like the Canadians are going through the same thing. And they've got more regulations in general than Americans here.
Webware wonders if Comcast will cut users off. (Only if we let them.) Read the comments by one of the readers, surfyogi2. Way to go, dude. Fight back!
Really sad for Cox users.
Roadrunner too. Rot spreading on the net indeed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mobility Impact from Google-Yahoo Deal

Wired has an article not just about the deal between Yahoo and Google but a bit of analysis.

Here's a quick rundown of potential winners and losers and how the deal impacts mobile warriors.

Potential Winners:
  • Google. Not "potential". They won this round.
  • Yahoo publishers and users. Better ads that is directed at them.
  • Microsoft. Only if they quickly put this distraction behind them and Balmer focuses on other deals for advertisement. Video advertisement is somewhere they are doing better than Google. They need to go out and step up their game. Those are the deals they need because its high profile. No buyout deals for shortcuts.
  • Office equipment manufacturers.
  • Yahoo employees. Expect more letters and cheerleading from Yang. After working so hard, I can imagine a lot of the people who worked so hard on their new ad engine very demoralized. Afterall, it was not their fault for series of delays on the part of Yahoo executives.

Potential Losers:
  • Yahoo shareholders. Oh, those billions. Only Yang and his confessor can really know why he kept declining Balmer's marriage proposal. Even if this deal with Google goes as plan, they will not be looking at those billions any time soon.
  • Advertisers. While Google has not demonstrated a mean streak like Microsoft with their desktop monopoly, it sucks to have only one guy to deal with and not three guys to play them off each other.
  • Search. Less competition. Less innovation. While Google still has to contend with Microsoft, Microsoft really has not demonstrated itself to be threat. Ask a typical user out there if they know the different between MSN and Live. I bet they probably don't know Microsoft operates Live. Microsoft has no centralized strategy beyond buy Yahoo at this point.
  • Microsoft. Balmer seems to be taking this quite personally. More chairs and tables destroyed? Here's the different between Gates and Balmer. Gates is very passionate about Microsoft's technology and impact. Balmer is just very passionate. And with no focus, it's not good for Redmond.
  • Yang. From founder to CEO to potentially being spoken in the same breath as the captain of the Titanic.
For mobile warriors, it really depends on where you're coming from. For users who routinely use the Internet as a part of their work, we are not likely to see any wholesale changes. For our mobile devices, the change will come depending on how the deal helps Yahoo. It's currently doing well in the world of mobility but there will be a lot of distractions within Yahoo for months to come. This can affect innovation and deployment.

Yang will have to deal with a proxy fight with Icahn.
An ugly fight will lead to some Yahoo people leaving the company particularly if the severance plan adopted in the early days of Microsoft's failed takeover is triggered. This will likely impact mobile innovations from Yahoo if they start focusing their attentions else where.

Also, in the recent discussions regarding the 700Mhz auction, Yahoo was not a factor. Maybe that might not be a big deal because I haven't heard Microsoft making a play or their opinions public either. It is likely both companies knew the telecom giants were going to win in the end and simply did not want to antagonize the winner.

Google will likely remain vocal as it as a lot at stake with Android-installed phones scheduled to be released 4th quarter of 2008. A clear victory will give Google a bigger voice in the mobile realm. Here, Yahoo and Google are still competitors and an already weakened Yahoo could mean Google gaining more of a foothold onto the screens of mobile devices. This could be more evident with Android phones.

How about Microsoft's plans for mobile users? There's nothing different between the various versions of Windows Mobile that grabs users. Perhaps, in Mobile 7, we'll see a lot of iPhone features simply copied over and Balmer will labeled them as innovations.

So far, everything is speculation. Everyone is in a wait-and-see mode. For mobile warriors, new features and services will still be coming but not necessarily from Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo. Regardless of how ads are implemented, we will not be impacted greatly in the near future.

Posting To Blogspot Via Typepad

Earlier, I wrote about the absence of Blogspot in the realm of mobile devices except the ability to post by linking a specific blog to a gmail account then emailing "go@blogger.com" as the only way to post blogs.

For the most part, the works well enough but this seems a bit awkward. Bring a leading platform on blogosphere, it is not much to expect Blogspot to offer the same or more features as its competitors for mobile warriors.

So I checked out Typepad's mobile offerings and saw the plethora of devices supported and a variety of options for mobile blogging.

In fact, this very post is written on an iPhone through Typepad. Yup. You are reading this correctly.

Repeat: I am writing and posting this through Typepad to onxo on blogspot.

Essentially, create an OpenID (some major web logins like Yahoo and Google supports it). Log into Typepad with the OpenID and link the ID to the specific Blogspot site.

Is this as cumbersome as Blogspot's offerings? Yes. However, there is a "but". But Typepad has the options to link to Twitter, Facebook, and more. With one OpenID, the blogger has the options to post to more than one site.

Cirqo.com is currently linked with Twitter and has allowed me to post to Twitter as well as Cirqo's MeBlog. Typepad offers the same concept with more options.

Back to Blogspot. I am confident Google will not allow Blogspot to languish (ok, I am not sure it has or that Blogspot is languishing at all but it certainly is not the leader as far as mobile blogging is concerned) and it should have quite a bit to offer to stay competitive and mobile warriors pecking alongon their physical or virtual keyboards.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blogspot Missing the Parade

I'm an iPhone user and it's no secret.  One of the things I love about the iPhone is that it in itself is a mobile platform that let's me do 80% of all that I already do in a laptop.

What’s missing is Google's Blogspot.  The only way a blogger can update information from a mobile device is by e-mail the “go” e-mail through a gmail e-mail account.  I find this acceptable at times but it’s it not good enough in my opinion. 

I want something like what Typepad demoed at WWDC on Monday from Blogspot.  And coming from Google, I expect better integration into the rest of Google’s services like news and pictures. 

I think Apple, Blackberry, and Google can help things along with new features to make posting easier (Cut and paste for example.  That’s right, Apple.  I’m talking to you.)

 Here are some screen shots of what Typepad is doing for the iPhone.  The app will be free and released on July 11 (the day the iPhone 3G goes on sale). 


           


Please note also that native apps from Typepad are already available for other devices for mobile warriors to hack away.  

For iPhone warriors, you can go here to do your blogging through Safari.  From the looks and feel of it, it works as advertised.


iPod or MP3 Head Phone Saver (Mobility Tip)

I've been riding my bike quite often lately because of the coming $8 per gallon gasoline that we're going to get hit with.

But I still do listen to my iPod even when I'm riding but only through one ear so I can hear for the insane drivers in my city (I thought folks in West LA were insane with their BMWs.  The peeps in East LA are just as crazy if not more so with the Benz.  I like Torrance more).  I was nearly hit by a LA sheriff duty on Monday.  

But what gets to me is the line on the headset when I take the iPod out of my backpack.  I spent about five minutes try to untangle it before I can use it.  Now alas, there's a solutions.  Check out this video.  It'll save you and me a lot of time and frustration.



I tried it and it took me a couple of practice runs before I got it right.  Best solution until Bluetooth headsets become more common and cheaper.  

Thanks, Gnowk, for the tip.  


____________________________
My bike milage since 6/7:  23 miles, savings:  $13.11  (I'll will be depositing an equal amount at the end of every month.  Half will go towards UNICEF and half towards a new bike!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What To Do With Old Laptops?

Here's a list of old laptops I had.

  • Sony Viao 505
  • Another Sony (I don't know what the model number is)
  • Powerbook 1400cs
  • An HP laptop (again, I don't remember the model number)
I currently have an Aluminum Powerbook G4 1Ghz that I've upgraded to 2GB and 100GB HD.  It's a workhorse that I've had 2004.  About four and a half years.  I have been thinking about upgrading for a while now and I think it's about time.  

It's still doing pretty much all that I want it to do except for the fact that the screen is not as bright as it once was and the time and electricity I spent processing video (and I do a lot of it) just isn't not worth the trouble.  

But the question is what should I do with the Powerbook or anyone else for that matter who has a laptop that still has some legs left but not quite enough to do today's work?

First the Sony Viao.  I gave it to my aunt but a friend of mine also has one as well.  I think mine is sitting somewhere in her draw or the garage.  The 12" screen might be a tad bit small for her eyes.  It was later I gave her an used HP laptop we used for our family business.

But my friend who also had a Viao 505 turned it into digital picture frame.  As a professional photographer, I'm not surprised the direction he went with his laptop.  If you have any questions on how he did that, please visit camerahacker for more information.

As you can see, it's quite brilliant.  Here are instructions on how you can mount your own laptop and turn it into a picture frame.  (Photo used with permission from Camera Hacker.)


Now, I've thought about it some more, I also gave my other Viao and the 1400 to the same friend.  The 1400 had an issue with the power supply but he fixed it.  I think his baby daughter is using it as a training wheel before she is ready to enter the Mac world when she is a bit older (Uncle Paul will see to that).  

With the 2nd Viao (I bought my brother that when he went to college), he is using it as a Linux machine.  

These are just some examples of I've done with my old laptops (not the giving away part) after they've become somewhat obsolete.  

I have thought about using it as a public web machine for people who come over to my house.  I'm think I'm going to be a bit possessive about my new Macbook in the beginning.  

I have also thought about hooking up a digital camcorder to it and use it as a server to monitor my backyard.  We have had a rash of break-ins in the neighborhood and I feel safer if I can keep an eye on my house when I'm away.

If there are any other ideas, I love to field them and maybe even post them for everyone else.


Monday, June 9, 2008

WWDC: Where was Google today?

It was exciting seeing all the demos that showed what is it that   
iPhone users can expect in the coming weeks. 

As I watched the webcast of the keynote today, I noticed the absence   
of any mention of Google.  Where was Google today?  Were they there   
but given the closeness between the two of the hottest corporations   
that Apple wanted to give others a chance to shine?  Is it because   
everyone knows that Google will automatically develop cool apps for   
the iPhone and there was no need to bring additional attention to   
their partnership? 

At this point, it is anyone's guess but could Google's attempt to   
strike ok their own with their own mobile platform, Android, seen by   
Steve Jobs as a betrayal by Google CEO and Apple boardmember Eric   
Schmidt?  It is hard to say with any certainty but if Google intention   
is only ads and search, Apple should have no problem with that. 

We'll know in time how this will all play out.  Perhaps this really is   
nothing and Apple and Google are secretly cooking the best iPhone apps   
ever and MobileMe is only the first towards true cloud computing. 

That what we are hoping.  Apple and Google has made a great team and   
the iPhone platform should continue to offer Google to develop their   
best works for the mobile warrior. 

AT&T iPhone Page Under Maintenance

When I tried to find out if I can learn more about the pricing, this is what I got:



Will post update if I find out about the contract information.

MacScoop Huge List of WWDC Live Updates

Don't miss today's exciting update from WWDC.

MacScoop has a huge list (in different languages too) for your Mac/iPhone news from WWDC.

I usually follow a couple at the same time just in case some sites crash or information is mistyped.  I have found these to be reliable in the past:
For the first time, I will be getting feeds via Twitter too (I'm also watching to see if Twitter stands up to today's morning load.  C'mon, guys.  It'll only be for a couple of hours.  Hang in there!)  

It's Christmas from Jobs and Apple in June!  Have fun!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

RIM's Competitors

Because of the online media coverage and intense interest the 3G iPhone has been getting and will be getting (millions of dollars of free advertisement for Apple), it is almost impossible to know that out there are other new phones coming out into the market.

And it was natural for the websites that routinely cover mobile devices to make comparisons between the iPhone and Blackberry. However, RIM's biggest competitor will not come from Apple but from Palm, Windows Mobile, and Nokia.

For Blackberry, any kind of comparison will have to take place on its home court: e-mail. No one, not even Apple, is likely to duplicate the ease and success of the Blackberries to help its users stay in touch. Whether it is a technically true assertion or a perceived one is not the point here. The Blackberry is king and anyone know who wants to play will have to do better e-mailing.

A lot of it could be the form factor and additional features that its competitors will have to develop to make sure that they can out Blackberry the Blackberry. E-mail is one thing but in an increasingly mobile society and an even more mobile workforce, the smartphones will have to allow the mobile warriors to do lot more without hindering productivity or increase complexity.

Apple will do what Apple wants to do. Keeping an eye on them makes good business sense. But trying to out-Apple Apple just doesn't make sense and will ultimately prove futile. If anything, the focus will have to be on Blackberry's position as the market leader.

Nokia's new E71 is a good start. It is a beautiful phone that has everything an user can ask for today. It appears to be easy to use but that is where it ends. In an attempt to be an alterative to the Blackberry, there is no compelling offer to a mobile warrior to abandon its trusted Blackberry. It is as though Nokia is throwing the smartphone out there because it has to until it figures out its next move.

This is the same for the Motorola Q except the Q seems to try and do it all which is where it can potentially hinder a mobile warrior and complicate his or her life. Motorola is hurting now. Once it finds its footing, it could be very interesting for the smartphone market.

For Palm, its multi-year death spiral has at least temporarily been stunted by the success of the Centro. Despite the age of the Palm OS, its got a winner in Centro. Not just as a form that is please to hold and use, it is doing exactly what it intends to do for it's target market: non-business consumers. It will do even better once the new OS is out. Whenever that is. If it can translate this success and direct it at the mobile warriors, it can reclaim at least a share to the title of smartphone king.

Then there is Windows Mobile. Licensees like HTC has to rely on Microsoft's innovative talents. So far, Redmond has not been very inspiring. Microsoft will be a long-term player owing largely to its desktop success. Windows Mobile will have tough road ahead if it does not figure out a way to break the link between Blackberry and e-mails and offer more. The office suite are adequate but it's Internet experience is horrible. A short cut would be to copy what Apple is doing with Safari. It won't be the first time Microsoft has duplicated Cupertino's best works.

Finally, there is Google's Android. It remains to be seen if it'll have the kind of impact the iPhone has had on the smartphone market. It will be a work in progress for years and it is nothing RIM will have to worry about in the short-term. It could have a disruptive effect on the low-end and consumer segment of the market.

So, while every website that is tracking smartphone movements is make this an iPhone-Blackberry fight, the real focus should be on the battle among the other smartphone makers. 2008 seems to be the year where everyone show their cards and 2009 and beyond is when the real fight for the smartphone market starts.

Pre-WWDC iPhone News

Alright. We're less than 11 hours away from the unveiling of the new 3G iPhone, assuming that is is going to happen at all.

So, here a list of the latest news/rumors on what we can expect:

  • Vodafone employee who has touched the new phone. Allegedly, it has GPS, black case, smaller than the current phone, and unlockable or jail-breakable. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the resourceful marketforce to break/unlock the 3G iPhone in no time. iLounge would agree about the size of the new phone. Their source is highly suspect though.
  • SlingPlayer to debut tomorrow.
  • There are a plethora of fake images of the phone. I'm not bothering posting links for them. If you happen to come across them, marvel at the Photoshop skillz and then move on.
  • List from iLounge of providers who have indicated they will be carrying the 3G iPhone.
  • With subsidies, the new 3G iPhone will be available for only $200 from AT&T according to various rumors. Could be as low as 99EURO in, well, Europe. Makes $200 a bit expensive for us Yankees.
  • A couple of sources (possible that they were quoting each other, one of them being Barron's and since I don't have a subscription to WSJ, I can't be sure) are alleging delays. Their sources are hedge fund managers.
  • Firmware exposed to show details regarding the chip the 3G iPhone uses.
  • HTC Touch Pro and Diamond are joined by Samsung i900 in battling the 3G iPhone. Honestly, the form factors in these touch-based phones (multi-touch in iPhone's case) can't vary too greatly. Some will be thinner or thicker than others. Some will be longer, shorter, wider, or narrower. But the chrome metallic edge. Please, a little orginality, Sammy? Hey, Samsung. HTC. Buy Palm. They're cheap and you guys can use the creative energy Palm possess. They're down these days but I'm still rooting for them.
  • Mysterious boxes arrive from Apple all over the world. Could be fake.
So, there you have it. Specs, software, pricing, and availability. Yeah, people are tracking shipping containers too. We'll know if any of this is true tomorrow.

What Jobs Will Really Announce Tomorrow At the WWDC

While mainstream Mac sites are reporting pretty much the same thing, there are a few dissenters who believe that that things will not be as Apple fans are hoping for.

Plus, it's hard to argue against dissenting opinions when every single line of the iPhone firmware is examined and even every word that is omitted from a banner is scrutinized and debated over.

I love it! But I also think there is also a time when we'd want to come back and take a deep breath and realize that we're not going to get everything we want. Eventually we may get some or all of our wishes by Cupertino but certainly not all at once.

Some realistic announcements. Remember, we're talking about a keynote that is about two hours at most. The bulk of that will be dedicated to reported the great success that OS X Leopard has achieved and maybe a jab or two against Vista. He'll show a new commercial or two with our lovable PC and Mac characters. He'll probably do the same with the new iPhone 2 operating system. He'll probably brought out a couple of high profile geeks, I mean, CEOs whose companies have developed software or games for iPhone 2.

So, it doesn't leave a whole lot of room of different announcements. Like one web pundit who took a leap and ventured to surmised that the new iPhone may not be announced at all. He argument is that this is a conference for developers, not really a forum for new product launches. While I think he does have a point, a very good point in fact, I think it would be a mistake for Apple to talk about the new features for the iPhone without a new iPhone.

Will another even take place the week after or two weeks from the WWDC? I doubt it. Money's on the new 3G iPhone making a grand entrance.

In fact, I will go as far as to say that Jobs will tease us with all the features he'll give us now and make them better via the reality distortion field. Then behind him will be a slide of the world of the map where he'll list the territories where deals are in place where the iPhone will be introduced (dates optional but not likely. You'll see why in a bit). Then he'll brought out a couple of developers, maybe the same folks. Maybe a couple of new ones.

Then to bring it home, there will be one or two CEO's from a Fortune 100 company whose companies has secretly participated in a limited deployment of the 3G iPhone in the field and crow about how great it is and how much more productive it is than anything else they have ever seen.

He'll thank them. Then he'll thank the iPhone team again if he has not already. Then "one more thing". After a dramatic pause and allowing a buildup of angst from the developers and bloggers providing live text feed, he will say, "it's available now. Including the UK and Canada. The rest of the world next week (or something like that)." (See why he can't bring in the availability dates earlier when he rolled out the map of the world now?)

And as much as I would like for it to happen, we'll not see a Mac tablet. Not until Macworld 2009 if that.

I love to be wrong about this.

I am praying for a "before you go, there's something else I want to show you. Remember how upset some of you were when we discontinued the Newton? Well..."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

onxo's Mobile Convergence

Mobile Convergence

Is the time here yet? It's the same question I asked at Macross-Frontier earlier today. I love gadgets. I've had the Palm III, Palm V, skipped a couple of models and now I've got the Zire 72.

I also took back a Dell Windows Mobile handheld I bought my brother who has long since moved onto other handhelds himself. Currently, I've got a unlocked and jail-broken iPhone that I use with T-Mobile. Personally, I love to hear how others who has Blackberries, Treos, or any other smartphones feel about their mobility.

The few people I know who are armed with Blackberries have said "it does what its suppose to do". You can't get a better endorsement than that. Honestly. For a couple of blackouts a few months ago, the Blackberry service is excellent by most standards. Wish the airlines work that way.

I personally like the iPhone and the Treo because of the user interface both offers. One offers a screen-based keypad while the other uses a standard physical QWERTY layout. The touch-based selections of both phones allow me to avoid scrolling much. I do think touch-based screens are the way devices are headed. However you may or may not like iPhone's onscreen keyboard, it works well enough but the flexibility offers the user to use the screen in full or at half screen when you're typing. It works well enough.

So full touch screen. Isn't that what those pads in Star Trek are like? I have also seen many such devices in anime. After all, the Japanese designers and engineers are very good at miniaturization for many years now.

Some smartphones now have GPS and, soon, it should be in most phones sold on the market in one fashion or another.

To sum it up, the follow are features that the first decade of the 21st Century mobile device should have:


  • Internet
  • GPS
  • Touch-screen
  • Ubiquitous network access
  • Music and Multimedia player
  • Simple office-type document access
  • Better battery-life
  • Access to a cloud system for more storage and processing power
  • Still picture and video capture
  • Video-chat along with the standard messaging systems (SMS, e-mail, IM, etc.)

The screen should be depend on the type of devices. So, let's get into the types of mobile gadgets I'm talking about here.

Phone (candybar, flip) Like today's phone, the screen should be complete touch-screen, perhaps on both sides so that when the user is hold it, the finger in the back can also access features. 2"-2.5" screen would suffice. It's limited to almost text-based information with little or no graphical interface. I've done texting on a keypad. It's no go for me. The screen should offer a keyboard though it'll be kind of cramp and not really for writing a long letter or writing the next screenplay (yes, I know people in Japan have written whole novels on their phones with the numerical keypads. I'm impressed but it's just not for most people).

Smartphones Your standard HTC, Treo, or Blackberries. But more like today's iPhone, it works as we know it but with more connectivity and access to a cloud system for storage and processing power. The screen should be from 2.5" to 3.5". I'd try to squeeze in a 4" screen but you'd need a Jonathan Ives-caliber designer to do it right. It will have all the features I've listed above.

Smartpads Think of the Star Trek pads or those you might see in anime. They've got a 5" and up screen. Of course, the screen cannot be too big or otherwise, it defeats the true nature of real mobility I'm talking about here. How is this different from just being an oversized smartphone? Real estate. As in the size of the screen. It'll function well as an ebook reader. I love to see a full page of text rather than quarter or even half a page.

Plus, you can see with the bigger screen, it'll allow you to create split screens. What do I mean by that? Suppose you're in a video conference with someone working out of her home and another guy in NY (because you're a mobile warrior, you can be anywhere you want to be), you can see both person while at the same time, maybe even be working on a document with them. Or you can be surfing the web while watching a video by splitting the screen in half.

Laptops I don't see why laptops cannot have all the needed features I have listed above. Today, most laptops are tethered to an outlet or places where there are WiFi or ethernet jacks. Unless you have paid wireless access through a wireless mobile provider, you are confined to your work, home, or a Starbucks. A GPS may not be needed but it's good to have. You may never know when you really need it. I see that a lot of laptops today have a wecam built-in but I really would like to see it on all laptops. The keyboard should be done away with and replaced with a flat surface for a true multi-touch experience. I think you can appreciate something like this. It make take a while to get used to only because we have been conditioned to have a physical keyboard on our laptops. It doesn't have to be the case.

So, there you have it. I've created my anime-style mobile device. As you can see, it not too far-fetched. The only thing that maybe hold us back is the battery-life as I have mentioned in the other blog. With new technology like Intel's Atom chip, a brand new mobile platform will be born. It's what the UMPC was meant to be but failed miserably at.

I don't care if it's Apple, Nokia, or Microsoft. Someone freakin' built these things already!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Worldwide Developer Conference

It's that time of the year again for Apple followers, when everything's put on the table. That's everything that we can wish for is put on the table and taken off one by one as Jobs introduces products and services at his own pace and we walk away feeling excited anyway.

This year will be no different. Heck, if Steve Jobs were to give the keynote at a seafood conference, I think most fans will feel the same. iWasabi, anyone?

So, what's on tap?

3G iPhone - surest thing. Anything less than this, well, watch AAPL tank big time.

New iPods - there's no talk or rumors out there on this one. Everyone knows Jobs plays iPod Santa at special events during the October time frame.

New Mac - nothing here either. With Intel delaying their new mobile chips until August, I don't think we'll see anything until September. But if Apple's given first grab, hey, then August it is.

Son of Newton - I really would like to see who coined this. Some sort of multitouch tablets that has been in the works for years, according to rumor sites. Today, Appleinsider is reporting a 50-50 chance of this thing coming out. I see the analyst who came out with this as an attempt to give the stock a little pop.

As I've said before, this is not going to happen. In light of all the other things that Jobs will be introducing, there simply isn't enough time at the keynote to do this. And the possibility of such a device overshadowing the 3G iPhone just doesn't work for Jobs.

And it's not going to happen in the fall/winter special event either. iPods and iPod Touchs are selling well. Look for a Macworld 2009 introduction instead.

Makes more sense right? Remember 2008 when the Macbook Air came out? Remember the disappointment? This Mac tablet/internet device will set things on fire.

So, we'll see the 3G iPhone, a new .Mac, and an introduction to the new OS (set for a Macworld release).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Quick Mobile News

Some quick notes on in the mobility realm:

iPhone Loses Marketshare Because There's Nothing To Sell; RIM and Palm Gained

RIM and Palm gained market shares as the iPhone supply around the world (I said world because of the unlocking) dried up. This is significant because Palm is still alive and breathing. As a long time Palm user (Palm V, Palm Vx, Palm Zire 72), I am hoping it'll make a big comeback (there's enough room in the global market for a multitude of players to succeed).


3G iPhone

3G iPhone Announcement - t-minus seven day-ish. Availability will be difficult to gauge. I'll be leaving work early for this one if it turns out that all the rumors about the 3G iPhone are true (3G, GPS, video-conferencing, Apps Store, solve our reliance on petro, etc). While I haven't heard anything about the amount of memory size, I am hoping for 32GB. It has only been a year since the iPhone has been introduced so there is no pattern to speak of. Apple did release an update to the iPhone with 16GB of memory which I got.

Rumors and speculations are abound pricing and availability. It's safe to say that the US market will see it first. We might see a concurrent launch in Europe. It's more likely we'll see European launches weeks later. That would make sense.

The latest bona fide rumor from a source who may or may not accurate is that the iPhone will be thinner with a longer battery life. Wired seems to think this is important enough for us to know.


gPhone

Lots of demo last week. I will provide summary links for them. Looks alright. Impressive for what they've accomplished in such a short time. I'm looking forward to the first product. Unfortunately, word on the 'net is that it'll be delayed until 2009. It's unclear if this is about HTC variants or specially THE gPhone (assuming there is such a phone; and we all know that there is).

However late yesterday, CNet reported the rumors of the delay are not true. Good to hear. I've got a T-Mobile upgrade coming up. I hope they get a phone or two!


Computex

Wow. Those mini-laptops showing up in great numbers. Some of them with Intel's new Atom chip. Asus' got it's work cut out with competitors all over the floor and some not on the floor.

Along with HP which has already something on the market with the UMPC class goaddies, Dell and Sony are looking into it as well.

There's a shortage the Atom chip. Intel promises things will return to normal in September. It's just a theory but with Apple getting first picks of Intel's new chips recently, I wonder...

Original pictures from Taipei will be forthcoming from a friend who lives in Taiwan. I want to hear from you what you want to see more of in detail.