Monday, March 30, 2009

Verizon Selling Netbooks This Year

Others have done it. In Britain. ATT with Radio Shack. Now Verizon.

Dave the Mobile Warrior King has informed us that Verizon will begin selling netbooks that will be subsidized with monthly data subscriptions.

Last year, we predicted that 2009 will be inundated with all sort of mobile deals between wireless providers and netbook makers. In fact, Orange is in negotiation with Apple in providing Macbooks with wireless plans. Things are moving along.

So far, no one knows how popular these deals are but I think this will be very popular with folks who are true mobile warriors and need these tools for their livelihood. However, this is not for everyone.

While I applaud these moves, keep in mind I'm on the side of the mobile folks, such as you, myself, and Dave. Let me tell you this right off the top. At rate of $60/month, this is a deal killer. Look, I promote such a combo but I'm not about to recommend it to regular mobile users who don't absolutely need wireless connections.

A two year contact with taxes will take you what I believe to be $1700. In this economy? Kudos to the wireless providers for finally getting into the market but they'll need to do something about the monthly rates before they see armies of mobile users get in on this.

To put this in perspective, ATT and Verizon subsidizes the iPhone and Storm about $400. They charge users a monthly fee of about $80. $35 Of that is the data plan for two years. The wireless netbook deals are almost twice the rate of these mobile plans. Doesn't make sense. (My numbers are very rough estimates.)

And another thing. Here's another estimate. Netbook prices have come down quite a bit. I'm estimating it to be $250-300 each. Not even close to the $600-700 unsubsidized iPhones. The wireless guys can do much better on the plan.

I'm still excited about the move by the market but for now, I'll pass. We'll be keeping an eye on this for ya!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Virus Alert: Conficker

I've got a couple of computer viruses in the past. The worst one I got, I was forced to reformat my drive and then later find out that I didn't have to. We've got anti-virus software on all PCs running Windows but we managed to get an infection anyway. Now, there's the Conficker.

According to 60 Minutes and Symantec believes its one of the worst computer viruses out there. So, take notice. Protect yourselves. I'm on a Mac so I'm not too concern but a large majority of my fellow mobile warriors are on Windows.

According to Daily Wireless, there are online help:
I suggest everyone running Windows (heck, anyone with a computer) to pay attention. From what I'm able to gather on the Web, it's an April 1 event. That means you've got about to days to do something about this.


UPDATE: MICROSOFT HAS A PAGE DEDICATED TO THE CONFICKER VIRUS.

Note: Some day soon, we'll look back at this and end up talking about the same thing with our mobile devices.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Battery Life In Mobile Devices - Game Changer

I was reading an article today about upcoming battery changes to the iPhone. It's a rumor piece. I love it even as I avoid talking about it here.

But it did get me thinking. Any advantage that Blackberries might have or the iPhone UI advantage it might enjoy over other mobile devices and smartphones will be less apparent as those who are unable or incapable of innovating simply copy enough of leading features and user interfaces that mobile warriors will almost find but a few devices that truly stand out.

So, it will have to be hardware that drives the differentiation. Specifically, I'm talking about battery life in today's mobile world. The iPhone 3G is one of the worst on the market. It's hard for me to say that. And worst still is the Android G1. I'm good during the day as I'm near an outlet or plugged into a computer where I can charge with the USB cable. But on weekends, I've had to learn to ration my use (usually, I carry and iPod Touch with me to entertain me when the G1 is about to die on me).

I can't say if 2009 will be the year where battery life makes any sort of meaningful leap forward but Apple's new battery technology currently being employed in their high-end Macbook Pro (17") looks promising. No word other than wishful thinking by many Apple fans that the technology will trickle over to the iPhone researchers in Cupertino.

For others like Sony and Samsung, they might try to compensate with new screens or chips. But that really doesn't matter. It'll always come down to the battery.

Note: Busy second half of 2009. Pre, iPhone, G2, new Blackberries. We'll be watching closely not what the new features are but how long these devices and smartphones last on a day's charge.




Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mobile Search

Yesterday, Apple unveiled the forthcoming iPhone 3.0 (san the hardware) that will be available this summer.

I'll get into a little of that here on Onxo and more at On Apple. However, I do want to stress one of the features that was stressed but hasn't really been picked up by the bloggers is search. Specifically, I'm talking about Apple's search feature for the iPhone called "Spotlight".

For those who have Macs, you use it very often. It's fast and easily one of the most indispensable features on the Mac OS. Now, it's available for the iPhone.

What struck me was how seamless it was to use as far as I can see from the demo. More significantly, it what Apple said Spotlight will do beyond searching on the iPhone. It'll go into the servers to get you the information you want.

That might not be too significant right now or even with 3.0. It might be a feature we'll be more familiar with when Apple's next OS, Snow Leopard, is available, also around summer.

The fact that search will go beyond the mobile device into the servers may be code for something larger. Could Apple be looking at search and testing out its own mobile searches? There is precedent for this from Apple.

The iPod Touch. ATT certainly did not see that coming. At least not so quickly after the original iPhone went on the market. Then last year, Apple added "recording" capability to the iPod Touch. When pressed, Apple execs said VOIP is certainly a possibility. Then again yesterday, we find out that 2nd gen iPod Touch will gain full bluetooth capability with iPhone 3.0.

As an Apple watcher, this gets better and better by the moment. As a mobile warrior, search by Apple opens up another front in the mobile war against Android, Nokia, WM, and RIM, which is a good thing for mobility in general. And how would these companies respond?

Google and Microsoft. Google has a lot to offer in search already. It's ahead of what Apple can bring to the market. Still it can't simple sit around. Google should at least be uncomfortable with what Apple might be planning. I'm sure it doesn't sit well with Cupertino as far as Android is concerned. Honestly, what's Google without search?

Microsoft has a great Windows Mobile 7 coming but I wonder if they'll need go add search just because of this. Redmond is still looking at Google and doesn't see the iPhone as a threat. Priorities are a bit different here.

For the rest of the market, they need to be concerned. They've got smartphone OS trying to be a mobile platform. That's a lot of work and requires a lot of resources. Apple and Microsoft can move a lot of their desktop weapons to the mobile war. That can't be said of Symbian or Blackberry OS.

It's just one front of the mobile war. Still, it may be a significant one.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Preview of Apple's Preview of iPhone 3.0

Over at On Apple, we got into a bit about what to expect at Apple iPhone 3.0 event tomorrow (less than 24 hours away).

As always, we've kept out the rumors but provided some analysis and our own speculations on how the event will unfold.

It's an interesting read if we don't say so ourselves.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wireless Capacity - What Enough?

The wireless companies set up their network with what I believe to handle the minimum traffic at any given time. Just enough to handle peak usage. And if a few calls get dropped, so be it. It's a harsh assessment but, seriously, this is business after all.

I'm just going to through this out there and see what mobile warriors think. Is this right?

Say you're traveling through downtown San Francisco or Manhattan and need to make a call. You find yourself with a bricked phone because you're unable to make a call or send or receive data. It's not a daily occurrence but it happens enough.

And if you happen to pass through areas where there is heavy wireless usage during various peak times on certain days, you probably might not notice. Still, does that make it right?

I like the fact that the Verizon guy is all over television checking on network signal but rather have him working on install new cell towers. And this goes the same for any other companies claiming to have to the "most reliable network".

I started this post after reading about folks not happy with ATT at the South By Southwest conference. Now, I can say that ATT can be forgiven in this case (somewhat). Who would have expected this many iPhones in one place?

So, what's enough?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Palm Pre Voice Plans Unveiled

Spring has announced their plans for the Palm Pre. 
  • $70 - 450 minutes
  • $90 - 900 minutes
  • $100 - unlimited
  • family plan:  $130 gives Pre folks 1,500 minutes, $170 comes with 3,000 minutes, $190 with unlimited
Unfortuately, the two key pieces of information that most users (maybe switchers from the first gen iPhone) want to know was not unveiled:  availability and how much the Pre will cost.  But judging from the pricing of the device, I have to believe that it's possbile it'll remain competitive with current mobile offerings from competing device makers and wireless providers.  

How did I come to this conclusion?  While the Computerworld article deemed the pricing to be competitive, this is a recession.  Which leads me to believe that Sprint is going to try red in an effort to hook subscribers and return to the black with the standard two-year contracts.  We can be looking at a tiered Pre pricing:  From $199 to $299.  (There is an outside chance this may go as low as $99.  It's what some analysts and bloggers have pointed out.  I merely want the readers to know that.  Personally, I doubt it.)

For folks looking for a side-by-side comparison with the iPhone plans, stop there.  The iPhone plan is crazy high compared to the Pre today (Sprint plan comes loaded with many features not available on the iPhone).  But nothing to get exited over for either camp.  The iPhone is still one of the best mobile devices on the market that is constantly being compared to smartphones, which is a slap in the face.  The Pre isn't out yet.  First half of 2009 is all we know.  Until then, we won't really know more about the plans.

Folks on Gizmodo likes this plan but no one is sure if Sprint is saying these are the only plans you're allowed to use with the Pre.  

Impact On Mobile Warriors:  Outside of the "he said, she said" word war on patents, we won't known where the mobile market stands until Palm lets loose the Pre.  And everyone is judging Pre with last year's iPhone, not the one it'll have to go up with in a matter of months (weeks?).  

I want to believe that in the end, we'll benefit because of competition.  And we will.  I am sure Apple has woken up to the possibility that someone else can come up with a very cool new phone.  Advantage is still to Apple but I'm hoping Palm's reentry into the mobile market will force a reset on voice and data plans.  I've always considered Sprint to be the leader when it comes to introducing new voice or data products.  

And in this recession, mobile warriors, regardless of their choice of mobile weapons, can get all the help we need.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Apple Event On March 17: Preview iPhone 3.0

CNBC is reporting Apple will preview iPhone 3.0 next week. March 17.

Google Voice - Like Skype To Go

Twitter was going crazy last night with all manners of tweets about Google Voice.

A couple of years ago (almost), Google bought GrandCentral (GC) and many, including Dave the mobile warrior, thought about its fate. Now we know.

Previously, I had posted about SkypeToGo. You get a number from Skype as a part of a subscription that you can call from authorized phones (you make that distinction yourself) and you can Skype Out without using a computer. Now, Google Voice, available today only to GC users but will be available to other Google users, offers the same feature for free.

Do not underestimate the impact this will have on telecommunication. This is one of those things that has the potential to really screw with the business models of many telecom and wireless companies.

Plus, this is certainly not the end of it. Remember white spaces? Imagine when Google puts Voice on a white space device. Be it Android or other white spaces enabled device, we can literally bypass the traditional phone and mobile providers and call each other directly.

I'm painting a rosy picture here but I simply want you to get an idea of what's possible. Chatters on this is still going on and I'll come back with more when dust clears a bit (or when my crazy cough gives me a break).

Way to go, Google!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Trek-Themed iPhone - Very Cool

Been kind of sick the last week (and recovering now) so I haven't updated much. Lots went on but first let me show you what I found a poster at Gizmodo came up with.

He created a UI based on Star Trek TNG's touch-controls for the iPhone. It doesn't turn your iPhone into tricorder or disrupter but it's awesome how it worked with the iPhone's OS and functions.


This is definitely an area of development I like to see put some effort into developing. I'm sure there are other cool sci-fi themes folks can come up with for the iPhone or other devices.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kindle For iPhone

It's live now for download.

I mean we heard about it when Amazon launched Kindle 2 but no one really thought it was going to happen this quickly. Least of all, Kindle materials would be coming to the iPhone/iPod Touch before G1 or other smartphones.

You can go directly here if you have iTunes installed. I downloaded a couple of free books and bought a Star Trek novel. So far I can say that it works as advertised. You can buy the books directly through Safari on the iPhone. It was quick and easy.

Once you open up Kindle for iPhone, the app automatically sync via Whispersync. You're taken directly to the "Home" page and you will see everything in your library. Simple.

Just as everyone is saying Kindle 2 is a great improvement over Kindle, I am waiting for Kindle For iPhone 2.0 or at least some sort of improvement over the UI.

After trying out eReader and Stanza, I suggest Amazon take a look at those two apps and see how far they've come on the iPhone. In fact, eReader has years of experience developing mobile ereader applications for the PC, Windows Mobile, and Palm.

Regardless, this an encouraging first step for Amazon as well as Apple. I'm certain Kindle apps for other platforms should be available in no time.

New Terminator Trailer!


Awesome new trailer!

Concept: Mobile Thin Clients - But It's Already Happening

The clouds are forming and I'm talking about the good kind (here in CA, even dark clouds are welcome as Sacromento contemplates water rationing). Cloud computing.

Let's not fool ourselves. That is the future but it's not exclusive. Remember when Larry and Oracle was trying to unseat Microsoft in the Internet booms of late 90s and all he could talk about was thin-clients. Well, I think we're largely here right now but except there's a bit of more than even Larry expected.

We're dealing with cloud and mobile computing. In fact, what escapes most people is that they're already doing it and don't realize it. I'm sure we'll soon be graced with a jazzy name for just such a thing.

Here are some things that are happening that will make cloud/mobile computing even more powerful and ubiquitous than it is today:
  • green tech - energy, better design, costs
  • processor, display, and battery advancements - focus on efficiency, speed, multi-core, and touch/gesture.
  • LTE, WiMax, and beyond.
  • social change - touch is in. Perhaps gestures as well. But that's use the UI. I'm talking about a society that is no longer bound to the desk, office, or home. Plus, with advanced battery technologies, we can pretty much forget about the outlets as well.
  • mobile devices - as advanced as the iPhone is today, what we'll see in the coming years will blow these antiquated devices away.
One of the fastest growing segment of the ad industry is the mobile ad market. And what is generating this growth? Just your average mobile warrior surfing the Web, conducting business, and moving away from traditional means of computing. It's in no small part that these gains made by the smartphone submarket. iPhone to be sure. And in the last six months, we've also seen much growth from Blackberry, WM, and Nokia users embracing this new paradigm in mobile computing. And without the cloud infrastructure and new thought dynamics to support it, no matter how advance the devices or smartphones are, people won't use it.

But one part of the cloud/mobile computing that no one seems to be thinking much about are those mobile devices that have no phone functions. One such device is the iPod Touch. Feel free to lump netbooks into this for now. More mobile tablets will soon join the iPod Touch with similar strengths and shortcomings that will likely be addressed by clouding computing. Storage space comes to mind but with Wi-Fi access points popping up everywhere, people can leave files in the cloud to access from anywhere, leaving the limited precious gigabytes for the OS and apps.

Now, Wi-Fi may be all most of these non-phone devices have access to in order to be connected to the cloud but we will likely see more devices equiped with 3G or WiMax chips to access the Internet anywhere the mobile users want. Onxo has noted and posted about deals wireless providers and netbook makers put together for users to buy subsidized netbooks with 3G subscription. We'll probably see more of this. How much will largely depend on the economy.

To be sure, this is where the direction cloud/mobile computing is headed. The road ahead is clear and there are a few fleeting obstructions that may affect the rate of adopting for this new computing life in the short term. Perhaps when we get there, people will coin this Web 3.0.

Note: mobile cloud computing. MCC. Has a nice ring to it. What do you think?

Monday, March 2, 2009

New Fees From Wireless

Tucked within the Obama administration budget is a proposal for new fees with respect to spectrum licensing.

How much? In the hundreds of millions. That's what Wireless Week is reporting. This is quick. I'm all "investments" in the future. But the article doesn't say what these fees will be used for so I am a bit hesitant to say this is good for mobile warriors. Fees generally aren't good but, in some instances, if the funds used correctly, we can benefit.

Education. Programs and incentives to promote wireless use. Building out mobile infrastructure. Research into wireless and mobile technology. Strengthening security. These are good uses.

Plugging a budget hole. Adding bureaucracy. Funds funneled to pet projects with agendas contrary to public welfare. These are bad uses for funds.

I'll reserve judgement on this until we know more.