Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Apple Arms For Mobile War - Apple Maps and Search On the Way?

The alliance between Apple and Google has been splintering for a while now.  Google really fired the first shots.  Android.  Chrome.  Chrome OS.  Then Apple, probably unwisely, retaliated by rejected a couple of Google's apps for the iPhone.  All that lead to some attention from the FCC.

Still, Google continue to sit prominently on the iPhone.  Youtube.  Maps.  But it appears Apple may be offering its own mapping services.  Word has leaded that Apple quietly bought PlaceBase, a mapping service, back in July.  Why no one has seen this, well, that's not the point.  

The point now is Apple has its own mapping services.  Something will come of this but no one knows for sure what this is going to lead to.  The website for the mapping company is down but the former CEO, Jaron Walman, describes himself as a member of the Geo Team at Apple on his Linkedin page.  

Back to the mobile war.  Love it or not, Apple has done some pretty amazing things with the iPhone and it's going to be a thing of beauty to see what Jobs and Co. will come up with using their own mapping software.  It will be a total letdown if Apple merely supplements Google Maps without taking a step or two forward.  

Jobs' reality distortion field, while pretty strong, doesn't necessarily extend to the mainstream mobile warriors who aren't fanboys.  People continue to adopt the iPhone because of Apple-style innovation.  Apple will need to do some real convincing with this new mapping service.

On top of that, what will be the next step?  My guess is search.  Today, there are over 50 million iPod Touch and iPhone users.  Who knows how many more there will be in a year's time or five years from now.  And there are tens of millions of Mac users.  It's quite an ecosystem for apps, mobile, and OS for a company like Apple to drawn from.  It would not be too much of a leap for Apple to jump into the search business.  

Don't think so?  Apple has been in the search business on the Mac for years now.  Maybe they're nowhere nearly as good as Google or even Bing but disrupting the market is what Apple is very good at.  

As a gadget fan, I hope I'm right.  Be it Apple, Google, or Microsoft fighting it out with their billions in the bank (more than 80 billion in cash between them) and push more innovations on us, we all stand to win at the end of the day.

Note:  I like reading comments from readers on exciting new mobile developments.  Many Mac folks are excited about the prospects of Apple integrating more mapping features into iLife or iWorks.  Maybe there is an outside chance that Apple bought PlaceBase merely to offer more features for its core consumer softwares.  3D mapping anyone?  

More at Computeworld, 9to5Mac (has a video of the mapping service demo'd), Macrumors

Walled Garden Not Enough To Safeguard Mobile Platforms

As much as Apple would like to control how users use their iPhones, like denying them Google Voice or Podcaster, or protect users from viruses, it's never enough and someone will always find a way to get into the walled garden or fortress.

I suppose it's about building a better mouse-trap thing.  Still, always someone who can get around it as in the case of an European app that found a way to gain access to iPhone user's telephone number whereby iPhone users then started getting unsolicited calls.

This first came up at a site called Mac4Ever when they successfully tested the incriminating app, mogoRoad.  (More about iLounge)

Here's where it worries me.  What's to keep this app and others like it from accessing even more information in your iPhone's database?  Supposedly, this ability was available to developers since iPhone 2.1, oh, more than a year ago.

And another thing that worries me about this.  Apple is pretty anal about the app approval process so what about the less anal competitors out there?  Android users like myself.  Feeling good right about now?  And BB users.  Feeling safe too?

No matter what Apple or anything else tries to "protect" us, we're really the only ones who can decide what apps to install and what information to give out.  So far, this situation has been benign but highly irritating for the folks who received unwanted calls.  Still, it is quite alarming.

And since more folks are now frequenting 3rd party app stores, this problem is likely to crop up again and again.

Clouding Around - Still, There Are Pitfalls For Cloud Computing

As more folks get used to the mobile computing life, we need to be reminded that the data we access with our mobile devices and smartphones don't always sit quietly in storage waiting to be accessed when the time came.

And recently, Pre owners were given a pretty harsh lesson of that when the Pre profile server crashed, leaving Pre owners without access to their data.  But don't think this is an isolated incident.  Remember when Apple debut push mail for the iPhone?  Yeah, Apple had to apologize multiple times and provide MobileMe users two extra months of free service.

Is that Google fans laughing I'm hearing?  What?  Don't remember the Gmail outages?  A couple of times if memory serves.

This reminded me of an argument with a friend who worked at Yahoo.  I told him it's important to me that I always have a copy of my data and e-mail on my laptop when I don't have access to the Internet.  No Internet access, no webmail or files stored in the cloud.  Right?

So, I'm telling my fellow mobile warriors this:  pitfalls and trials by fire are to be expected as we move boldly forward in shaping the mobile market.  There will be servers that crash.  Services taken down for maintenance that turn into outages.  Denial of services.  Natural disasters.  I'm sure you can name a few other types of incidents that will leave you without your precious mail, contacts, schedules, and wireless Internet.

For mobile users, it's always good to find a way to back up your information.  MobileMe allows you to storage in your information with the Mac or Outlook while Google offers off-line access to data including Gmail.

For folks who rely on cloud storage, it's good to use services like MobileMe and Dropbox that synchs a copy of files to a local folder.

Anyway, Pre owners got their data back and things are fine again.  But it is a sobering experience for everyone.  Cloud services will continue to grow and mature.  Perhaps, we'll one day have enough redundancy with our wireless services that we'll never truly have to worry about losing access to our data.  But until then, it's always good to practice some old school computing.  Keeping a copy of your data locally if you can.

Mobile Apps With Movie And TV Tie-Ins

In what's considered a couple for the Palm Pre, CBS has released an app based on it's highly-rated reality show, Survivor.  It offers streaming episodes, clips, and other information about the show.

Unlike some routes taken by the movie industry, this not a game.  It's actually tied into the show.  

Right now, with the studios and networks are trying to figure out their place in Web 2.0 and the great beyond.  First, they signed onto iTunes, albeit more cautiously than the music folks.  Then more recently, Hulu, Netflix, and individual network websites also offer streaming videos and full episodes.  

Still, there's a lot of content out there for us to watch. That means a lot of competition for eyeballs.  I think a lot of folks will be watching to see how the Pre Survivor app will do in drawing in eyeballs and keeping folks updated with the show.

Similarly, CNN began charging $2.99 for their iPhone app, a first from a news network.  

It does make sense that mobile apps are the next step for TV shows to take.  After all, more people are on the go and may not be home to watch the show when it is actually broadcasted by the TV network.  This way, the mobile app allows folks to catch up with the show whenever they want.

One idea is to also offer materials, comments on the app while the show is going on.  This may get more people to sit in front of their television to watch the show when it's on rather than catching it later on Tivo, Hulu, or the tie-in app.

After all, I know many folks who'll sit in front of their TV with their iPhones or Blackberry, easily accessible.  You know, offer a sort of bonus material in the form of comments or something else.

Perhaps this will help stem the losses in rating somewhat.  At least, it may provide networks more time to figure out what they ought to be doing for the television of the future.

More at MocoNews.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

T-Mobile And Android Cliqing

T-Mobile will allow existing T-Mobile users the opportunity to pre-order Motorola's Cliq on October 19th. For Google and its mobile platform, Android, things are looking up even as mobile competition continue to heat up.



But with Cliq sporting the similar specs as the one-year old G1 but sporting a new social skin, MOTOBLUR, potential slugginess and low battery life might be issues that users aren't going to be happy about.  I know, I know.  There I go again with the battery life.

However, Android is a mobile platform and we need to expect modern devices to demonstrate some sort of stamina when it comes to supporting our mobile computing needs.

As a mobile user, I'm excited by the competitive mobile landscape.  Over at On Android, I get a word about the Motorola Cliq.  If you're in the market for an Android device, head over and see if the Cliq is right for you.

More Robust Streaming On the Way? Good For Streaming Videos Wirelessly

The summer, aside from headlines dominating the release of the iPhone 3GS and Pre, Android devices flooding the market, and Microsoft's ineptitude to mount any kind of comeback in the wireless world, is FCC's interest in exclusive deals such as the one between Apple's iPhone and ATT.

The side-effect of that interest is the FCC asking questions about why Google Voice app for the iPhone was rejected.  This likely came about from the attention bloggers gave to the few developers whose apps were also rejected by Cupertino.  Justify or not, Apple's actions is in the crosshair of the government.

Perhaps, it's why a flood of apps that we might perceived as threats to Apple (their favorite line for rejecting apps is duplication of iPhone functions and anything that might confuse iPhone users) such as those from Rhapsody and Spotify (which I enjoy immensely thanks to Dave the Mobile Warrior) were allowed into the iTunes app store.

And perhaps it's why flood of apps approved today such as CNN's app that allows live video stream, mSpot's movie rental app (more at On Apple) that also allows streaming video, and EyeTV app into the app store.

Of course, we'll never know if attention from the FCC has anything to do with approval of above mentioned apps.

But I like to offer another theory.  Perhaps, ATT's network might be more robust now.  After all, they spent the summer beefing up their network for the flood of MMS service, not to mention that they'll have to gear up for the inevitable wireless tethering service as well.

And whatever reasons we believe ATT, Apple, or other app stores and providers might reject this app or that app, the direction we're headed is clear.  Apps that provide streaming video cannot be hindered for competitive reasons and wireless providers have no choice but to continue to beef up their networks to satisfy this particular need of their users.

Over on Apple, I'm especially excited about mSpot's app being approved because it bolds well for two video streaming services that I know millions of mobile users are particularly interested in:  Hulu and Netflix.

To be sure, talks between these Netflix and Hulu and Apple have taken place and development on these respective apps are going forward.  How do I know that?  For the same reason I mentioned above.  Streaming video services are coming to wireless devices.  No amount of feet dragging will stop that from happen.

And if for some reason, Apple is bold enough to keep Hulu and Netflix apps from being approved, I'm sure RIM, Palm, Nokia, Android (Google's wireless OS) and Microsoft will be happy to welcome those two apps into the ranks of their app store.

Back to wireless networks.  WiMax continues to be built and introduced into new markets by Sprint and Clearwire.  Verizon Wireless will follow up with their LTE network while ATT and T-Mobile beef up their 3G networks.  As wireless capacity expand and come online, there really is no excuse that streaming video from services like Netfix and Hulu should be allowed on them.

More about mSpot and chances of other apps that offer streaming videos at On Apple.

Newspapers: Pay For Wireless News

Murdock wants us to pay for WSJ access via the iPhone and Blackberry.  Now, CNN appears to want to do that same as well.

Are the days of free access to news over?  Not necessarily.  Unless the news outlets restrict even access to news via the browsers as well, we'll simply find other ways to read the news we want.

For instance, WSJ and Barrons restrict their articles only to paying subscribers online through the browsers.  However, CNN hasn't done that.  It makes little sense for CNN to be going this route.  

An app directly accessing CNN is convenient but it isn't as if mobile warriors are too lazy to get the same information through the browser.  

The only way I see this working for newspapers and other news outlets is if there is added value for paying for apps or subscribing to the papers.  

What do you think?  Will this work?  I want to support the newspapers as much as the next fellow but I'm used to get things for free now.  I freely acknowledge that.  Suddenly, I'm told I need to pay for it.  Fine, tell me why. Convenience won't work.  

Suppose if CNN also offers free live streaming to their broadcast, then I'm in.  

More at MacDailyNews and here.  CNN's app is $1.99.  CNN believes we'll pay for the app simply because it's app is better than the rest.  We'll see.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Apple's Answer to Pre's WebOS, Sense, and MOTOBLUR

When Apple offered the original iPhone, there was no app store.  There were no apps to speak of other than those offered by Apple and selected partners.  But we always knew that apps were coming.  Instead of coming clean, Jobs told the masses that the apps were available via Safari.


Simply develop for iPhone via Safari and that was it.  And in deed, many mobile developers did just that.  Webapps continue to make their way onto Apple's directory for weapps.  And maybe that's a good thing for iPhone users.


One of the things that's noticeably absent from the iPhone is seemingly cool accessible social and contact webapps that Pre users love. Apple has not provided an answer to HTC's Sense or Motorola's MOTOBLUR in offer cool looking widgets for offering quick access to social sites like Facebook and microblogs like Twitter.  In fact, I'm not sure the developers for Android that offer products in this category are happy about being supplemented by the phone developers.  But that's another issue.


However, I think I've figured out what Apple may be offering that will seem more innovative than anything offered on the market to date.  And it won't be anything new at all.  It'll just seem new because it's from Apple and Steve Jobs will sell it to us as something... well, you know...his reality distortion field will be on full-power.


So what will it be?  Dashboard.  Ah, I see those familiar with the Mac and Mac OS that has Dashboard know exactly what I'm talking about.  Basically, Dashboard is Apple's answer to micro-applications that are small, faster, and simple that ran under an environment like Yahoo's Widgets or the sidebars we started seeing in great numbers in Vista and Windows 7.  





To access widgets in Dashboard in OS X, you can assign a hotkey or drag your mouse pointer to a corner in your Mac or Macbook and the widgets would appear.


Why do I think this is where Apple is headed?  First, it is an easy implementation for Apple's iPhone team because it is an existing feature.  How will it work?  That's up to Apple of course.  But in my limited experience with user interface, perhaps there is an icon for Dashboard.  Or Apple can start the iPhone in Dashboard mode and allow users to switch to the current classic format we've got today.  A third method of implementation is that uses can tap on a corner or swipe with a gesture to implement Dashboard.  Once Dashboard is activated, the screen is replaced with widgets added by users.  The user can swipe between windows for access to their widgets just like they do now with their apps.


The second reason I think Apple will offer Dashboard for the iPhone is obvious for Apple.  There are already widgets for the OS X that can be migrated over to the iPhone.  The fruit of hundreds of developers already exist and some may even work on the iPhone without much change.  For those that needs to be modified to work on the iPhone, I'm sure Apple will make it worth their while to made the changes as painlessly as possible.


The third reason is no competitor on the market can make the following claim:  develop for the iPhone, you also develop for the Mac.  Perhaps in the development kit, be it for the iPhone or the Mac, Apple may even offer an one-click option for widgets to be generated for the iPhone when developing for the Mac.


Here are examples of what Yahoo and Microsoft offers.  



For the record, these are just what I think Apple will likely offer and merely my thoughts on this issue.  Not based on rumors or secret moles from deep within Cuptertino.  Because while I wish I have sources, I don't.

It has been noted via Wiki that there was a demo showing that is it possible to install widgets on jail-broken iPhones and that an update to the iPhone SDK allow for creation of widgets.  Perhaps Apple is waiting for more robust Web standards like HTML 5 is approved and the next version of Webkit (the framework on which Apple's browser, Safari, Google's Chrome, and Android browser) with HTML 5 support is shipped.  The new Web standard will offer richer Web experiences currently only possible through plug-ins like Flash.

More about Apple's Dashboard at Wiki.  Apple's own Dashboard on the OS X page seems to be missing.

T-Mobile Seeks Spectrum For Next Gen Network; Clearwire Software Upgrade Allows WiMax to LTE Switch

Last week, the telecom and wireless industry collectively lifted their eye brows and took notice of a piece of rumor that T-Mobile USA is interested in Sprint.  Immediately, folks started dismissing the notion and began to

However, more reports surfaced that T-Mobile USA was interested in spectrum for 4G deployment and the gov and Clearwire had the goods.  Perhaps a strategic partnership is what T-Mobile may be seeking but a complete buyout isn't necessarily out of the picture

In fact, as dedicated to WiMax Clearwire seems to be to the 4th generation wireless standard, the curious statement is that Clearwire isn't married to the standard.  It's stance has always been provide network neutral solution as its CEO Bill Morrow made clear.  And this is the interest part:   it is possible for wireless provider to switch from WiMax to LTE with a switch.

Alright.  Not as simple as a switch.  All they need to do is to update the software in the towers.  That's it.  Well, I'm guess that's not "it" since it will also take time for that to happen should Clearwire decide to go down that path.  I am guess that's because by the time they decide to do that, they would have thousands if not tens of thousands of subscribers.  I doubt those WiMax mobile warriors will be happy to suddenly have their services cut off.  I'm sure that won't happen.

However Clearwire makes that wireless standard switch if at all, such a partnership between T-Mobile and Clearwire could have immediate impact on mobile warriors.  Clearwire will have the resources of a big partner in T-Mobile USA's German parent company and T-Mobile users will be able to sleep better knowing T-Mobile has a roadmap to 4G.

More in Clearwire's option to switch from WiMax to LTE via software upgrade at PreCentral.  This fact came as a surprise to us but a welcoming one.

Just as there are issues with a T-Mobile-Sprint marriage, there will also be issues to deal with should Clearwire decide to make the switch from WiMax to LTE.  There are current subscribers they have to deal with.  My guess is any upgrade to LTE will allow for current WiMax users to made the lateral switch (I hesitate to use the word "upgrade) to LTE access.  That would mean upgrading handsets, access cards, and other devices.

One other complication is Sprint, which owns 51% of Clearwire.

But the benefits of this is clear for all mobile users.  And T-Mobile potentially leapfrogs over its other competitors, Verizon Wireless and ATT.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Voting Online Or By Mobile

Turnout is always an issue with the electorate.  In the US, there we've had a revolution and civil war.  We gone through turbulent histories over suffrage and civil rights, voter turnout is generally pretty pathetic compared to other nations.  Voter apathy is one thing but deciding the future is one of the greatest responsibility a citizen in a democracy can make. Voter cynicism ought not be an excuse for staying at home on election day.  Still, things can be easier for voters to register and cast their votes.  Why we have our election on a Tuesday is something I'll never get.  Wait, let me rephrase this. Why are we still holding elections on a Tuesday? I'm in the early stages of researching online voting.  Wouldn't you want to be able to cast your vote through your laptop or on your train ride to work via your iPhone or Pre? After all, you log into your eTrade accounts to check your retirement fund.  You also made payment via the Internet through secured links to the banks.  Why not voting?  Voting requires a great amount of security but does it need a beefier link than online banking? In addition to online voting, what about a phone system that allows people to dial in their vote?  None of these are any less secured from tampering than early-voting via the post.  The only reason I haven't voted by mail is because I enjoy waiting in line along with other folks who doesn't believe their votes won't count.  It's a day when you're defined by your political leanings and differences but overshadowed by the stronger bond that we're all Americans (for US readers). Apathy and cynicism are just excuses for not wanting to take the time to go to the poll stations.  So, bring the voting experience to the voters.  Instead of investing in voting machines prone to fraud, why not create a robust voting systems where voters can go online or use their mobile devices to cast the future of the nation? Any who wishes to "take back their country" should remember whether they voted on that day or not.  Anyone who aren't happy should know we've got mid-term elections in 2010 and another Presidential election in 2012.  That's for the conservatives.  For liberals, I happen to like your guy in the White House even if I don't agree with everything he's doing.  But if you don't get excited, your agendas will quickly be supplemented.  And for the youths, your votes matter in 2008.  It'll always matter. Of course, all that would be easier if elections weren't held on a Tuesday and online or mobile voting was possible. Note:  Because of agrarian America, elections have traditionally been held on a Tuesday in November.  But things are different now.  Personally, I like to see it held in November on a Saturday.  Neighbors get out on Election Day. Parents taking their children and pets with them to the polling stations.  BBQ.  Festivities.  Fairs.  It can work!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Waiting Is Hard: This Time, It's eBook Reader

We had our first book club meeting about a month ago. I've mentioned this before. I finished the book finally and I went to start looking for the next book to suggest for the club at Borders.

When I walked in, there was a while table displaying Sony's Reader. A whole table. Previously, the reader is tucked in the corner of the store where it's hardly seen and if you happen to come across it, it's by chance and for the most part, it's a dummy model.

Now, the table full of eReader boxes and accessories (the boxes are empty) demonstrates how serious bookstores like Borders and Barnes and Noble are getting into electronic reading. As I've previously mentioned, I've been reading books on a Palm for years and more recently on my iPhone and iPod Touch. But upon see the display, it got me thinking about getting a reader again.

For a full looking at ereaders, factors to consider in deciding which is best for you, and what the future may hold in the market at Onxo Mobile Goodness.

Hot Weekend, Need More Battery Life

I'm trying to hide from the heat this weekend by going to the mall, bookstores, and coffee shops.  Turning on the air conditioner in my home is just too much of a waste.  In my previous day trip a few weeks ago to avoid the heat, I took my laptop, iPod Touch, and G1.

The pressing issue is the battery life with my three mobile devices.  I've got the previous generation Macbook without the long-ish new battery scheme Apple gave to all of its new Macbooks so my battery life trails the current ones.

Therefore, rationing battery use is going to be the mobile behavior for the foreseeable future.  Even with extra batteries, that isn't going to really allow me to go through a full day of mobile use.  As you probably understand, when you're working and you're on a roll, you hate to stop so you can hunt for an outlet or stop working altogether because your device ran out of juice.

Hence, I'm forced to sit at a bistro table on a had chair near an outlet and not in one of those comfortable soft chairs with a nice view of the promenade with a nice pond.  Still, I'll be cool and comfortable while the temperature outside is over 100 degrees.

Perhaps, in six months or so, Apple or someone else will come out with that iTablet with a day long battery life that allows me to work as a heavy computer user wants to.  Otherwise, I may be looking at getting a reader like the Kindle with wireless access and put up with the slow speed and awkward design but pretty decent battery life.

Ah, the trade-offs a mobile warrior must make today.

How Google Can Get Back At Apple: May Google Voice For the Mac

For Apple, it's about the users.  In recent years, it's about the mobile users.  But with the recent flap over Google Voice, ATT, and Google, Apple seemed to be on the defensive, this is especially true in light of the fact that Google's letter to the FCC demonstrated on the surface that Apple rejected Google's iPhone app for Google Voice.

This is still being sorted out by the FCC and the interested parties and there is no telling where it's headed.  While hopeful, I'm a bit concerned as well.  I'm not sure everyone has the mobile warriors' best interests at heart.  Perhaps the FCC has good intentions but we all know what good intentions really are.

So, if I'm Google, I'll create an Google Voice application or Dashboard app like this one (not an official Google app) for the Mac.  Make it work the way it was meant to on the iPhone.  Show the world, the iPhone users, what Google had intended for the iPhone users.

Integrated with Growl or other Google applications.

This will push pressure on Apple and its partners on GV.  I'm convinced Apple isn't alone in all this though it has no problems diminishing Google's growing mobile penetration.

Friday, September 25, 2009

TheStreet.com Said Verizon Wireless Dropped Pre; Maybe

I think TheStreet.com is trying to be like the Fox News of the Internet financial sites.  It's been going off on things that doesn't make sense and caters to a fringe group of readers.  By all accounts, they just rip rumors from other sites.  At best they make stuff up because they're wrong so often!

See when we speculate here, we tell you.  For instance, we tell you what we like to see in the next iPhone or iTablet.  Speculation.  Wishlists.  We tell you.  Anyway, just to be fair, as right as Fox News is, MSNBC is pretty much to the left as well.  So, I'm sure they're just as entertaining if not newsworthy.

When the possibility of Verizon Wireless dropping the Pre was brought to my attention, I had to go and see, even if it's from TS.com.

Any truth to this?  So far, Palm has continued to back their views and no blog sites like Engadget or Gizmodo are saying anything about it.  And in tech, their words are pretty good in my book.

I believe it's possible that there might be something of a leak from VW to these guys to pressure Palm into dropping their prices.  Renegotiation.  Perhaps, they like what they see from Motorola's Android phone and doesn't feel the Pre has anything additional to offer.  Perhaps it is also because Pixie would be the second phone to by-pass VW and they're not to happy about that.

TS did provide reasons for this potential move from VW.  Pre not selling well.  And independent app store contrary to VW's closed network policies.  Makes sense.

Still, I'm inclined to attribute this to corporate intrigue or speculations being treated rumors.  If there is any truth to this, here is my own speculation for this coming out now.

Verizon's Blackberry deals has done well but barely enough to stunt mass exodus to other carriers.  They really want the next iPhone but aren't' sure they'll get it.  ATT is speculating that if the iPhone goes to VW, the might bring in something like the Pre (so far, there is no Android devices on ATT's wireless network).  With all these moving parts behind the scene, VW it offers the best devices on the market and right now, that's the iPhone.  

Dropping the Pre might be a a concession to Apple, but likely, VW probably doesn't want to have too much on its plate.  In six months, it'll be dealing with RIM, Windows Mobile, Android, and Pre.  Then in about 6-12 months, the iPhone.  

Of these players, Palm is the smallest.  Pre, while successful, hasn't quite lit the market on fire many, including myself, had been hoping for.  While the iPhone has been steadily selling out, the Pre started out selling for $299 ($199 after a $100 rebate) has dropped to $150 with Sprint, and $100 on Amazon (not linked to Onxo).  Perhaps, VW is seeing this and wants a pay a lower price.

Impact:  It's hard to say because we don't even know of TS story is even true.  But what we're really talking about here is choices and demands.  Whether Pre does make it onto the VW network today or when LTE goes live, it's always good to have many players fighting for our hard earned dollars through competition and innovation, not locking one device to another for multi-year contracts.  

Thursday, September 24, 2009

White Spaces - $100 Billion Over 15 Years; Wide-Area Broadband Closer To Reality

Microsoft commissioned a study finding that white spaces technology will yield a worth of $100 billion in the next 15 years.  Is that a large figure?  Well, these days when federal deficit is over a trillion, it's a pretty small number.

But the $100 billion figure is nothing compared to the potential economic and scientific advances that can result from the use of white spaces.  here are some advantages of white spaces:
  • As an alternative wireless network for mobile warriors, it frees users to venture further than current Wi-Fi access points allow.
  • Because of the greater range, it may be cheaper to deploy broadband access in rural areas or provide better wireless coverage
  • A potential competition to existing mobile networks.
  • Education
  • Research and development
  • Enjoys the support of the FCC, Google, Microsoft
  • Encourage greater innovation
  • white spaces range is 3 times better than Wi-Fi.  I'm sure that range will increase over time.  I need it go be about 150 meters for me to use a white spaces access point from home to my local coffee shop, who does offer Wi-Fi access.
When you figure in the economic and educational benefits, you can potentially double or triple the benefits of white spaces if it works out as expected.  At $200-300 billion, you're starting to talk about big money.  

Currently, engineers and, likely, attorneys are working over how the specs should work for white spaces and there is no telling when their hard work will bear fruit.  But I'm optimistic.  

Right now, I see two potential uses for white spaces.  It can replace traditional Wi-Fi access points.  White spaces equipment will cost more but the added benefits will quickly sell itself.  

The second use, and this is where it is more speculation than anything I've heard, is if you can hook up a bunch of these white spaces points and link them together, you can potentially blanket a whole region and offer open Internet access.  

I've spoken this with friends in the know previously about this and their arguments have always been about range.  Perhaps, white spaces is the answer for a virtual open network.  Such a deployment call challenge the DSL and cable companies and offer an alternative to broadband access altogether.

More information from daily wireless.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Starbucks Apps and Payment Come to The iPhone - Legitimacy For Phone Wallets

Say what you will about Starbucks, a vast majority of mobile warriors like it and I'm one of them.  And I'm loving them even more with their two new apps for the iPhone.  But it is more than just Starbuck apps that I'm excited about.  It is the legitimacy of mobile payment they represent for us.

More than a year ago, Onxo talked about mobile payment in other countries like the phone wallet in Japan.  It's often perceived that the Japanese are at the forefront of mobile technology.  And rightfully so.  But in the US, there is still a lot of resistance to the kind of change that would be required for wholesale adoption of something such as mobile payment.

But like Apple or not.  Like Steve Jobs or not, you have to admit that Apple's command of a loyal throng of followers allows it to move markets.  Millions will download the Starbucks app and may even opt to use the virtual Starbucks card to pay for their drinks from then on.

I'll certainly try it.  Right now, the payment app is being tested in selection locations in Northern California.  Payment would take place wireless through Bluetooth so this can be quickly expanded to other mobile platforms like Android and Windows Mobile.  I'm sure Starbucks started with the iPhone because of its Apple users more willing to adopt new tech uses than others.  Plus, Starbucks has had a long amicable relationship with Apple for years.

Starbucks will expand their pilot program for wireless payment in the coming months but in the meantime, iPhone and iPod Touch users who use the app to load up their Starbucks card will receive an additional $5 of credit.  

What's not to like?  Go download it now!  More about Starbucks iPhone apps at MacRumors.  There is another app called myStarbucks that allows you to find store locations and see the menu.

I'm sure more retailers and food places will offer their own apps.  Chipotle already offers an app for ordering. Even more offer some sort of apps that act as a virtual storefront for their products.  Amazon has apps for the iPhone and Android devices to order products directly.  And don't forget Apple's 100 million iTunes accounts.  I'm sure Apple will be looking to find a way to capitalize on that.

I do worry, however, that things might get messy quickly if every company and store goes off to do their own payment system.  Issues will quickly arise.  Not the least, security.  If anyone should be pursuing the matter of using mobile devices and phones as a mean to make payments, it ought to be the banks and credit card companies.  

The market for this is huge.  Perhaps, we'll see folks like Apple, Google, and eBay also release guidelines for this as well.  Should Starbucks' effort take off, others like supermarkets should look into this with their store cards and for payments.  I'm always losing my Ralphs and Albertsons cards.

Intel To Increase Integrated Graphics Performance, Says To Forget The Past

950.  X3000.  Now, X4500.  Those are the designations for Intel's IGP that occupies millions of desktops and laptops.  And to be sure, it's nothing to write home about.  For the record, I've got a 950 in my first generation Mac Mini.  Needless to say, it was not the whopping red hot graphics performance that I bought the Mini for (I'm being sarcastic about the graphics performance).

I've held of getting another Mac until Apple put the powerful 9400M in the Macbooks on the low-end.  It took three years of waiting but it was worth it.  Now, Intel is saying that they're getting back into the race and unlike previous promises, this is one they intend to keep about performance.

I like how Reg Hardware put it:  the faint praise of critics saying it sucks less than the previous one did.  So what makes Intel so confident this time around?  Well, perhaps it's because we mobile warriors are always pulling for the underdog.  Yes, in this segment of the market, Intel is considered the underdog.

  • Called "Arrandale"
  • CPU+GPU combo, duo-core
  • 32nm processor; GPU still 45nm
  • New feature called Graphics Turbo - can overclock without overheating
  • Support for Intel's Clear Video HD, allow for picture-in-picture in HD
  • Support for DirectX 10 but no 11
  • Arrives in the 4th quarter
So, there you have it.  There's more meat for you to chew on at Reg Hardware.  I'm taking this with a grain of salt and seriously hope Intel can light up the integrated graphics market on fire.  Watching Nvidia and AMD duking it out is getting old.  Intel's not even in the mid-range to high-end market.

There are discussions over at Netbook Review forums about how Intel's new design will fare.



Intel promises we'll see results by 4th quarter.  Anandtech has the whole story.

Note:  I'll be back later once the dust clears and I'm able to put it in terms on Intel's 4th quarter mobile plans for us.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wireless Providers Want To Sell You Micro Cell Towers To Do Their Jobs

The way I see it, microcell towers are very good for businesses or small venues where there is going to be a lot of mobile traffic.  The need for them ought to be a controversial one but there isn't a lot of ruckus being created about them.

The wireless carriers offer them in one form or another.  The most recent news is that ATT is offering their own 3G MicroCell to its mobile customers.  I suppose having your own mini tower is a pretty cool thing to have.

But if the wireless providers did their jobs, is there a need for them?  Especially in the cities?  Luckily for me, I live in an area where most of the networks have pretty good coverage except for Sprint so there isn't a need for something like this in my home or office.  

It goes back to coverage and whether you feel the need to pay for a microcell for coverage when you've already paid for it once already.  ATT offers their tower for $150 so you can do their job and you still have to use up your minutes for access.  And here's the part that gets to me:  you have to use your existing Internet connection.

I get the feeling that over time, we'll get used to this sort of treatment.  One more thing, ATT is charging extra for this, $20.  T-Mobile's @Home service,  offers unlimited calling via Wi-Fi, charges only $10 and their equipments cost less than $50.  

I'm sure your ISP will love this very much.  The funny thing is ATT is advertising better 3G connection.  But it appears that while you're connected to it, your iPhone apps like Slingplayer will not work even though you're connected to your own Internet access.  So you'd have to switch over to Wi-Fi to get it work.  

More rant about this at Gizmodo (great read). They ranted but I'm just pointing out the facts.  See, I'm trying to stay positive to neutral about the wireless providers given past negative posts about them.  You know, trying to maintain positive outlooks on mobile life.

Net Neutrality - Everyone In the World Should Care

It's not unexpected for the wireless carriers to want the government to stay away and are against the proposed FCC regulations regarding net neutrality.  Let's be clear.  FCC for.  Carriers are against it.

The FCC have a duty to make sure the carriers allow every media on the Internet, video, music, or just print, to have access to the end users and end users to the Web properties.  

I think it's too early to have the government come in but there is still a lot of concerns that wireless carriers will attempt to be anti-competitive or impose fees on content providers for services.  

Whether you're Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, or don't live in the US at all, this is an issue that we all need to watch out for.  There are governments who see the Internet as a means to advance national interests.  Education being one of them.  A better educated population means a competitive edge in science, engineering, medicine, and other areas that generally lead to a higher standard of living.

The other view is that we let the market make the decision.  If that was the case, I'm all for it.  But then the scale gets tilted in favor of the carriers.  That means they get their lobbyists and politicians to create laws in their favor.  That doesn't exactly work either.  

So far, the GOP are dead against this.  I know all about the free market concept.  Hey, I'm for all that but I'm also aware of the need for American competitive edge in this new era where education and proliferation of personal tech and broadband is very important in Asia.   

I know I'm oversimplifying matters but if net neutrality, which by the way, I'm for, is not enforced by the government or the market and carriers are allowed to be the gatekeepers they want (they claim we need their protection), innovation will slow.  At least in the US, you can look for folks to start training their innovative energies else where.

This is why I'm keeping track of promising technologies like white spaces that are being pushed by rivals Google and Microsoft.  This is why I'm especially excited by the prospects of 3G providers that are pushing data plans, thus changing how the wireless business models are currently being followed.  And lastly, this is why I'm somewhat excited and optmistic about the small lead Clearwire has taken in the 4G market.

Bottomline is that net neutrality will impact a lot more than how we access the Internet.  It impacts standard of living.  National interests and security.  Commerce.  Free flow of information.  There is a balanced way to get this done with a huge fight between national parties for political dominance or epic battles between the big guys versus the little guys.  

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting Used To Reading eBooks

We formed a book club earlier this summer.  I always wanted to do something like that since getting out of school but it was always held back for one thing or another.  Finally, one in our little group took the initiative, picked a book, and we started reading it.  

There is a Kindle.  iPod Touch, iPhone, and a real book.  When we met for the first time a few weeks ago, we only went over the first half of the book.  Over the weekend, I finished the 2nd half.  I had some time so I went to Borders to thumb through the actual book to look up some thing that I had a question about.  I was using the iPhone version of Kindle and to my knowledge, there isn't a search or note-taking function.  That's an entirely shortcoming that's Amazon's fault, not the whole ereading experience.

As I was thumbing through the book, there was a tinge of nostalgia that I kind of missed from not being able to flip through the book page after page.  I guess I'm still old-school even though I've been reading ebooks since the Palm V days.

And then there's the whole taking notes in paper that is different from doing it on Kindle or Fictionwise's mobile app for the iPhone.  Actually, in my case, the notes I took for the first half of the book was taken on the back of a couple of receipts I had in my pocket when I started reading.  

I don't think books will go away.  Well, at least not in our life time.  I think it's entirely possible we'll see a whole generation grow up reading only electronically.  Meanwhile, I don't expect to give up buying books on Amazon or locally any time soon.  Perhaps as I get more and more used to reading electronically, I will end up buying less physical books.  Still, the whole experience of going to a bookstore, walking up and down isles, and find what I want or just happened to come across a new novel isn't something I'm willing to give up even if ebooks may be cheaper or convenient.  

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Word About Wireless Access In Public Venues

I'm be going into a local hospital today to provide some platelets.  It is something I do when a close friend of mine got sick a year ago and it doesn't cost me anything.  Well, just wish there wasn't a needle involved.

But the facility is in a trailer.  The main campus, supposedly, has Internet access but they've not gotten the wireless kind yet:  Wi-Fi.  So, while I've got 3G access via my phone, there isn't anything I can do with my iPod Touch.

There wasn't the first time where I've stayed overnight in a hospital.  And contrary what my family and friends think, I am not accident prone nor am I on a first name basis with the local ER staff.  Who do they think I am?  Tim Taylor?  (I don't have a tool show on cable.)

In the past, I've had to rig the phone services there for dial-up and that doesn't work everywhere.  However, some of the newer facilities have ethernet connection.  If a long hospital stay in required, I think something like Apple's Airport Express is a good option for providing local Wi-Fi access.

Hey, don't misunderstand, I don't want any of my fellow mobile warriors to be in hospitals for any reason but things happen, you know?  But mobile tech has made it easier to stay connected.  Eventually, majority of mobile devices will be tethered wireless to the almighty 3G or 4G flavors and this might not be an issue.  But we're still years away from that.

As for other places, here's a short progress report on Wi-Fi access.  I was at Borders last night putting some finishing touches on some writing and I noticed Borders lost its T-Mobile access.  I forgot to ask what happened but word is Borders will be offering free Wi-Fi connectivity pretty soon.  Possibly in October.  This is a defensive move, if true, since Barnes and Noble is offering free Wi-Fi to its customers.

Like a tug of war, some places don't like wireless squatters.  I can understand if I were a business owner but traffic is traffic right?  I'll be watching this closely as I hope to have my own tea and coffee shop some day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Did Google Apple For the iPhone Get Rejected? Who Would you Believe? Apple Or Google?

So, did Apple lie when it said it has not rejected the app but it continues to "study" it?  That's the question many folks will be asking and this storm spontaneously spawned out of nowhere.

Today, the whole letter Google submitted to the FCC for the inquiry into phone deals was on display for all to see after certain individuals made it happen through the Freedom of Information Act.  If you recall, portions of Google's letter were redacted and now we know why.  Google essentially said Apple rejected the Google Voice app when Apple had said it was still considering it and working with Google to make it happen.  Apple's reason for the "rejection", depending on who you believe, is that GV duplicated existing functions on the iPhone.

Perhaps in your mind and my mind, Apple isn't being upfront about this but who really knows how Apple perceives this situation.  Apple has never been accused of being conventional.  The fact that Apple sent it back and told Google the GV app duplicates an existing function on the iPhone is loud and clear.  The app got rejected.

I don't see how Apple will study it and find a way for it to work.  And even if Apple does come up with a compromise, it doesn't mean Google will go along with it.

The surprising element to me here is Google's Latitude app rejected.  In the coming months, we'll see how this all plays out.  There will be two stages to watch carefully.  

One is the FCC and the court of public opinion.  The FCC is looking in net neutrality and phone deals.  National politics will in some ways play into this.  The Republican members of the FCC has already come out public in support of exclusive phone deals.  So, we'll see how they feel about Apple's app store policies.  Given the political climate these days in the Beltway, I think I already know where this is headed.

The other stage to watch is the relationship between Apple and Google.  Will there be anymore apps coming from Google?  Android has been gaining a lot of steam of late.  It recently accounted for over 10K apps and has three devices in the market with about five more available this fall.  More in 2010.  Plus, Android already has a tablet in the form of the Archos 5 Internet Tablet.  Can Google afford to stand up to Apple at this stage in the game?  There are 50 million iPhones and iPod Touches in the wild.  That's a huge market.  We are looking at a market with 70-90 million Apple mobile users by the end of 2009.  We'll find out who needs who more.  

there is one additional twist in all this.  Later in the day, Apple fired back with a short statement saying that they didn't not reject the app and continue to work with Google on the matter.  Burrrr...anyone felt the sudden reversal in global warming?

Here is more of Google's statement which doesn't add a whole lot.  CNet here has more on the background of this soap opera.

Did Google Apple For the iPhone Get Rejected? Who Would you Believe? Apple Or Google? I'm not entirely sure that matters at this point. It's be sorted out by the FCC and the lobbyists, some representing the interest of the wireless providers and some for us mobile warriors.

Personally, I'm for more open networks and app use without restrictions. Just not crazy about relying on the FCC to make it happen.

If you want to read more about this, you can go to Macsurfer where they've currently got 15 articles on this matter.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

VOIP Maybe Mobile Market's Future

I've written a few posts on what I hope the future will look like once the wireless providers let go of the old ways (current ways) and embrace new models and open up greater access. For my part, instead of criticizing the gatekeepers for want to hold on to the past, I just assume they're looking for time to prepare themselves for the future. The inevitable.

VOIP is the future once the data plans become dominant. And according to Wireless Week, In-Stat believes this as well. In fact, they dug into something that I had not considered.

First of all, I'm a big fan of Skype and I use it for work and and at home. My hope is that I would be able to use any network and use Skype or another VOIP service instead of what mobile services we're using now which is metered access.

In-Stat believes this is possible. There are 3G operators and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that are free to pick and choose the business model they want to follow. And more over, people are starting to see voice as application to be used over the network, not an extension of their mobile plan.

When will this happen? That really depends on a couple of things in the marketplace. In-Stat believes by 2013, VOIP will being in more than $32 billion and nearly 300 million users. However, there is a lot of work to be done between now and then.

There needs to be a catalyst. Something in the marketplace has to happen to force the issue. Perhaps, it could be the 4G network going live. Maybe a carrier, like Sprint in the US, makes a bold move and moves everyone over to a data-only access with tiered plans much like what the telecoms and cable companies offer now with broadband service.

At the end of the day, we are marching slowly but surely in this direction.

More at Wireless Week.

Exclusivity - Not Wireless Providers Agree

Sprint's head honcho, Dan Hesse, is fine with the government looking into exclusive phone deals.  ATT doesn't.  Now that you know this, suppose you had lived in a cave for the last three years and someone were to present you with an iPhone, and they ask you which of the two networks has an exclusive deal with Apple to carry the iPhone on their network, you probably would go with ATT.

Personally, I don't have a position on this.  It's about money and who's willing to take the risk and if the risk pans out, earn gobs of money.  ATT did.  Verizon and Sprint didn't.  Obviously, not having to pay $600 or more upfront for the Bold, G1, or iPhone 3GS is great.  But someone's paying for it.  It's that mobile providers.  And as mad as I am with them at times (a lot of times), they risk such deals and hope that they can attract subscribers to sign up for lucrative multi-year deals.

However, there is something I don't like.  Even if you were willing to pay for the whole cost of the iPhone yourself, you can't take it and use it with T-Mobile.  I think that's going too far.  

In Electronista's post about this matter, Sprint has its deals.  So what's the problem?  Well, they've got a shorter term agreement with the phone makers.  However, I'm sure had Sprint offered more money, the phone makers like Palm or HTC might oblige.  

And if Sprint were in a stronger financial and market position today, I wonder if Hesse would be singing a different tune about this.  

Perhaps having the FCC look into this matter will help.  I honestly do believe there is a better way to reform the wireless market so that consumers benefit.  But I don't know if the heavy hands of the government is the way to go.    I guess I'm just the middle of the road kind of mobile warrior.  

Here's a solution.  Still have exclusive deals, no limits, but the phone makers has to sell unlocked versions of their phones and sell to those willing to pay for it to use other competing networks.  I'll go even one step further.  The phone makers cannot sell these unlocked devices for the first two or three months of the deal.  

What do you think?

More at Electronista.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GoSpoken - eBooks for Mobiles

Meet Gospoken.com, a site that offers ebooks for mobile phones. Alright, there are ebooks already for mobile. For instance, ereader apps have been around in app stores like iTunes for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

However, I just happened on while reading about mobile ebooks. I was like what's that? Ebooks are suppose to be mobile. But Gospoken works differently.

For instance, it support a wide range of mobile phones and devices. You sign up, pay for the book, and download it onto your mobile. Once you purchase the book, you can also read the book on your PC via the browser

Oh, Gospoken also offer audiobooks. Kind of cool, eh? And if you think reading a book on a smallish screen isn't for you, don't tell the millions of Japanese mobile warriors who access novels and stories on their cell phones on a daily basis why they commute to and back from work and during lunch hours and breaks.

So, if you're not ready to jump into the smartphone or mobile device market and crave mobile reading, this could be your answer.

Note: I've got a G1 so I was not able to try it. However, if you're one of the lucky folks who has a phone supported by Gospoken, try it and let me know how it is. They've got free books you can download. In fact, you can download excerpts as for free.

Location, Location, Location

After the app store, I set up Loopt on and called my friend. Well, you know, Dave the Mobile Warrior. Anyway, there were enough of us so we got bored and uninstalled it.

Then there's Google's Latitude, which works on the G1 just fine. The iPhone too except you have to use Safari since there is no standalone Latitude app for the iPhone. See, Apple rejected it.

But I wonder how many folks actually use these geo locators. To put it in a better term, friend locator. I have yet to find a compelling reason to use such services. Tagging pictures and video. I'm okay with that. However, I don't see the need to broadcast to everyone where I am every single moment of my life.

I can see one possible scenario where I might contemplate using Latitude. That's if I go on vacation and I want to folks at home to know where I'm visiting. This allows them to zoom in on my location and, if there is Street View available, they can get a sense of where I am and what I'm seeing around me.

Even so, locations can be spoofed. I've done it while testing Latitude out.

If you use Latitude, Loopt, or any other services, let me know how you like it and how you're using it.

Zune HD Must Do Well

Why must Zune HD do well?  

Competition, competition, competition.  It's that simple.  I've mentioned it  at On Apple and explained to the Apple fans that without the tech consumer giants go for each others' throats, we wouldn't have tech advances today.

Let's see where we would be without market disruptors like the iPhone and competition in genera.
  • Without the iPhone, RIM would still be content with making e-mail phones.  No touch.
  • Palm would still be selling Treos and Centros.
  • There would be be no Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows 7 will already be out but not much better than WM 6
  • No app stores.  Hence, no 99 cent games that would cost $29.99 on the DS and $39.99 on the PSP.
  • Touch-screen would generally mean using a stylus.
  • No integrated device for play and work with 3D capability, great videos, and gaming.
  • Facebook and Twitter might still do well but lock mobile warriors to laptops or desktops.
  • No Android.  Love my G1 more and more.
  • No push towards 4G networks.  And no hurry to beef up 3G access.
  • No requests and demands for open network for wireless access.
  • Obama might not be President.  
  • Battery life sucks now.  Could be much worse.
  • Instead of elegant thin devices in our pockets, the apparel industry might have had to adjust to making jeans and clothes with bigger pockets for the bricks we'd be lugging around.
  • Wi-Fi access would generally be confined to laptops and no free access at Starbucks for ATT users.  
  • No Wi-Fi for most devices as demanded by wireless providers.
  • I'll still be on my Palm Zire and Dell Axim because I'd find no compelling reason to upgrade.
So, I want Zune HD to mixed things up for Apple, Google, and Nokia.  I want it to for Sony to come out with their PSP phone in 2010 instead of 2012 or later to compete. And if iPod Touch, along with Zune HD, continues to challenge the incumbents in gaming, maybe Nintendo will be forced to move up their product timeline DS2.  

So, yes, Zune HD must succeed, either as a standalone product or an integral part of Microsoft's greater mobile strategy.

Anyway, those are a few things I thought up that would not have changed by today if not for mobile innovations driven by competition.  And believe me, competition continues to be fierce.  Right now, Zune, as badly as it has done against the iPod, is the only viable challenger to push Apple's music player.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

iPhone And Blackberry Users: Start Erasing your WSJ App

WSJ is currently free to read on the iPhones and Blackberries.  Enjoy it while you can.  New owner, Rupert of News Corp wants to start charging us for using it.  I guess you and I haven't been click on the ads in the app.

Mobile users will be charged $2 a week to use it while traditional WSJ subscribers will be jacked for $1 a week.  Right on, Murdoch.

Anyway, it's his paper and he can do whatever he wants.  Anyway, WSJ will start charging in "one to two months".  

I'm not bitter about this.  I knew it was coming.  I'm sure other papers are eager to see how this experiment works out.  Personally, I think there are better ways to do this.

I think the best way, my way, is to create a newspaper exchange.  Readers can subscribe to it and papers are paid based on the readership.  This way, we don't have to say $2 here and $2 there.  Honestly, if each paper start charging, which I'm okay with, it will get messy.  

Anyway, if you've installed the WSJ app on your iPhone like I have, enjoy it while you can for free unless you are willing to pay for it.  I don't read enough of it to justify paying for it.  

Will We Be Ready For A Data Only Wireless Experience?

I spent a few moment going over the title of this post.  I was going between "will we be ready for a data-only wireless experience" and "are we going to be ready for a data-only wireless experience".

I'm asking this because of bits of information here and there that Apple may offer an iPod Touch-like device that allows data only without telephony.  Plus, there are rumblings of Android tablets in the work.  They're all going to need data connectivity and for mobile warriors, Wi-Fi only will not cut it.  

So, it make sense that more and more mobile devices will use the wireless networks but lack telephone functions.  Instead, we'll have to rely on VOIP apps.  Perhaps, it is as easy using something like Skype as a substitute for just such services.  

But I'm not so sure it's that simple.  It could be more complicated but in a good way.  We may be offered a plethora of choices.  For instance, Vonage, Skype, and Truphone quickly comes to mind as VOIP solutions on the iPhone and the Touch.

I'm sure the wireless providers will push their own brand of VOIP and other communication services.  In fact, I see the wireless providers compete with each other not only on data networks but against each other's voice offerings as well.  For example, an user might use Verizon's LTE network but opt to use ATT's VOIP service.  

And that's is just the voice services.  How about entertainment?  Now, you have cable or satellite TV.  With cable you are stuck with the monopoly in you neighborhood who, for the most part, only have to compete with the satellite companies.  In some areas, if you're lucky enough, will have fiber optic services for television.

In the wireless realm, it's gets more interesting.  Just about anyone can offer apps and services for music, videos, and other forms of entertainment.  Right now, if you're with Sprint, you get their TV services but if they open up their WiMax network to developers, we can potentially see different networks with their own offerings.

I'm only touch on telephony and entertainment.  There will be other wireless uses as well.  Video conferencing.  Gaming.  Richer media for the Web.  I'm sure you can think of a few other uses.  Now, think of the bandwidth that's going to be needed.

Now think of the number of new mobile warriors who will be joining us.  (Sorry, if you're reading this, I'm assuming you've got an iPhone, Android device, WM phone, or Blackberry or that you are in the market for one.)  

Bandwidth and masses.  It's going to be critical that the network is robust enough to support all the wireless activities that are coming online.  Hence, my earlier minor challenge of coming up with a title for this post.  Are we going to be ready with the network?  And will the mobile users be ready to take advantage of opportunities opened up by being mobile?  

Personally, I think it'll take time but I think mobile warriors will be ready.  But I think in the coming years and decades, we're looking at a lot of bitching about network reliability and bandwidth.  

Monday, September 14, 2009

T-Mobile Needs 4G and Sprint's Network May Be the Answer

Even as Verizon races to get their LTE network online by 2010 and Sprint is set add more markets to its WiMax network, T-Mobile USA got started on its own 3G network last year.  I know, I was one of the first G1 adopters.  

No complaints but in a couple of years, many dedicated T-Mobile mobile warriors will see compatriots on other networks zipping by on faster and more robust networks.  Hence, the rumors of a Sprint buyout by T-Mobile USA's parent company makes some sense.

With Sprint, T-Mobile gets tens of millions of users, enough to rival ATT and Verizon.  More importantly, in my opinion, is that they get WiMax.  

Sprint claims to know nothing about any overture by T-Mobile Deutsche Telekom, the German parent company of T-Mobile USA.  But seeing the merger between T-Mobile and Orange in Britain, it makes sense.  

CNBC claims this will run into regulatory and financial issues.  These deals always do but they get worked out in the end as far as regulatory issues are concerned.  Financially, T-Mobile has the best customer service of all the wireless providers and some of that will certainly transfer over to Sprint customers.  

I think it's a great deal for mobile warriors if this deal works out.  Instead of two weak competitors, Verizon and ATT will have to deal with a strong rival with a history of pricing innovation and customer support.

Mentioned Link:  CNBC

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mobile Computing (And Texting) At Work

You probably agree with me that we're in the infancy of a mobile revolution, that the coming years will shape how we use our mobile phones and devices.  But even as we move forward, we find how striking our behaviors have changed a long with it.  That goes without saying but there are "yesterday's" behaviors that still apply to today and tomorrow.

Dave the Mobile Warrior pointed this out to me.  While shopping, he noticed many workers whose jobs were to help and serve customers were engaged with activities contrary to what they were supposed to be doing on the job.

In one instance, he stood in line on from of a cashier for a while before she noticed him standing here.  What was she doing?  Texting.  

I've noticed that as well.  Think about this.  If you're a receptionist who happens to be on the phone with a friend when a prospective customer comes up, you'll probably hang up and start doing your job.  

It ought to be the same with texting, checking updates on Facebook, or tweeting (and e-mailing).  However, it's a bit more difficult if the worker's head in lowered and concentrating on the phone.

It was funny when I heard about Dave the Mobile Warrior's experience.  I'm sure there are far worst examples of bad mobile behaviors.  Perhaps in time, we'll all adjust and learn from it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Busy Mobile Week

With the long weekend, it was difficult to get back into the flow of mobile writing.  Mobile life was still lived.

The weekend saw me getting motion sickness on a train, warm weathers, and a lot of food.  But I think I got that out of my system now and just in time for more musing about the mobile world.

I'll get into the Apple event that was really a demo fest but it's Apple.  It's Steve Jobs and no one else can get that kind of press coverage.

Also, we saw movement in the WebOS market, specifically the Palm Pixi that will be introduced later this year.  Many folks contend that it is suppose to compete with the iPhone 3G.  I think Palm released it to stay alive.

And in my continue attempt to stay positive about the mobile providers, ATT is getting into the MyFavs game with their own offering.  Again more on that as things clear up.

I'll start providing more updates perhaps later tonight.  But before I go, I think we're going to see a busy fall with Android.  It's already crossed the 10K apps line.  It also saw a TV app, Facebook app, and a Pandora app.  Plus, Dave the mobile warrior informed me that Google Voice allows the user to be informed of an incoming SMS via Gmail since GV text are not pushed.  Great move, Google!

Friday, September 4, 2009

GPS and Other Mobile Tech Good Ways To Saving Children?

From time to time, we hear about an enterprising owner who uses the GPS on his iPhone on conjunction with MobileMe to find his missing iPhone and capture the thieves red-handed.  Other times, you heard about how a stolen laptop is accessed remotely by the owner to track the IP address and even take photos of the thief when there is a webcam on the laptop.

I love how technology has advanced to a level of sophistication that some low-lives in the criminal world has trouble keeping up.  So, I started thinking about GPS and children.  I posed a question about child safety to a bunch of friends with children recently because of high-profile news about kidnapping.  

Perhaps, one additional features wireless providers and security firms can work together is help parents and law enforcement in an event of a kidnapping or crime that requires location tracking.  I know that are privacy issues regarding such tools and may be misused (though I haven't thought of how that can happen).

GPS is one solution.  Perhaps even a proximity system can be set up when a child strays too far from a location.  In one case last month, three toddlers managed to elude their nannies at a day care and walk onto a train track.  Closer to home, I know of a child who was left on a boat after the child got sea sick and went to sleep.  No one, the teachers or chaperons, had any idea until the ship's crew found him curled up in a corner.  

Of course, no among of mobile technology employed can replaced personal responsibility of the caretakers and appropriate adult behavior when it comes to protecting the innocent.  Nevertheless, I think these tools are very important to aid busy parents and, in a worst case situation, law enforcement.

More recently, I also read about a wrist band that will alert the parent if it gets wet, which may mean a child has fallen into a pool.  Of course, we've got nanny cams as well.  

One that's hotly debated is whether to give a child a mobile phone and when.  And then, certainly what type of phones.  

These are issues that I hope our mobile warriors with children will consider.  Any thought our readers can share with us on child safety technologies would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Does Everyone Need a Mobile Computing Device?

I had a discussion with a friend who is very tech savvy and knows a lot about OS, gadgets, etc, basically a lot what Onxo is about.  

I always enjoyed picking his brain on where things are headed in the mobile market and its impact on society and the things that drives and changes mobile behavior.  What surprised me was the question he posed.

He isn't sure mobile is for everyone.  Well, I tried to laugh it off by saying that sure, I knew a few elder folks who won't appreciate it but then I realized he was talking about himself.

We really got off track in technology and society after that revelation but I still have to wonder if he meant technology in general or just mobile tech.  After all, he mentioned his still will need his iMac and cable Internet so sort of gave me a clue into what he might mean.

I'm guess he was talking more about the iPhone he has.  Perhaps I caught him at a weak moment and I vowed to answer him when I drove home that day.  Then I got distracted by the sight of the mountains twenty miles away going up in flames and I dropped the matter.

But it's one I think we can explore a bit.  Who needs mobile?  And why?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blocking Cyber Bulling?

Well, looks like this may be another revenue source for wireless providers like ATT and Verizon Wireless. O2 of Ireland is instituting a bully filter. It allows users to block unwanted wireless communications like text and video.

Call it bullying as Mobile Entertainment titled their post to be but it is so much more. More than just bullying, it allows the user to block incoming communications by specific numbers.

I think it can be so much more. Perhaps, they should allow people to the option of allowing certain communications to be deployed. For instance, during the last 2008 election in the US, users can opt to receive political messages via their cell phones or mobile devices. But suppose the Obama or the McCain campaign turned around and resold that information to another political entity or marketing firm, they would be able to bother the users with their own texts. I, for one, would like the option of blocking that before it even arrives on my phone.

Plus, at the risk of losing their lucrative revenue on texting, the wireless providers has an opportunity to provide this service for a nominal fee. Think of this as the 21th century version of caller ID and Do-Not Call feature.