Friday, October 30, 2009

Pandemics And Mobility

Pandemics and mobile warriors.  It doesn't seem like it has a lot to do with regular mobile users or any folks who rely much on Internet.  We're probably thinking about those CDC agents in bio-suits in staging areas working on their laptops in the field, much like what we see in movies.  However, I'm talking about every mobile users like you and me. 

Macworld posed an interesting piece asking if an H1N1 pandemic could slow the Internet to a crawl.  I think it's an issue we need to think about in depth.  And if there was ever a time for the government to prepare for it, now is likely the time.  As far as pandemics and the modern age, we're kind of new at this.  

The United States Government Accountability Office, or GOA, has looked into this matter and given it an enough consideration for it to issue a report.  I'll sort through it and come back later today or this weekend to summarize it for ya and consider a few options on how we can protect ourselves or at least make any potential problems that may arise less of a pain.

More at Macworld.  It's a must read.

Meanwhile, any recommendations our worldwide mobile warriors can offer would be terrific.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Microsoft Needs To Say "Enough!"

Microsoft Needs To Say "Enough!"  No more screwing around.


It's time for Redmond to start changing rules and find another way to become relevant in the mobile sphere.  If you spend any amount of time on the Internet going through tech and gadget blogs, virtually everything you've read about is Android, Apple, Google, more Android, and iPhone.


I've read a few Windows Mobile mentions but mostly about how irrelevant WM has become in light of the surge of iPhone and the Android platform.


That's not to say that RIM should be fine with it.  Two main topics regarding the No. 1 smartphone maker in North America did not put the Canadian company in a positive light.   One was about how Storm 2 has failed even before it is out as Verizon Wireless concentrated on the Droid launch with Motorola.  And what's the other one?  Oh, it's just that the Apple is within striking distance of overtaking RIM as the number one device maker in the US.  Both negative and competing platforms still manage to get attention in the posts.


But back to Microsoft.  What's Redmond to do?  I don't have a solution but I do know that this cannot continue or else, desktop or office suite dominance, it will not matter in a few years as more folks rely on their mobile devices to conduct their personal and business affairs and continue the march away from desktops, laptops, and even netbooks.  (Chrome OS will likely gain a lot of attention in the netback segment even as Microsoft is trying to get folks to upgrade to Windows 7).


One example to look at is what Palm has done with Pre. While Palm came out with a good competitor to just about anything that was on the market.  But it lacked many things that others on the market had like its own music and app store.  At least at the time when it debuted in June, the app store was virtually nonexistent.


For Microsoft, Zune HD was a move in the right direction but it was mere a piece of a complicated puzzle.  With Danger, Zune, and the forthcoming WM 7 in the right mix, it can be a force to be reckon with in the mobile landscape.


However, Microsoft cannot afford to simply copy of what Apple has done with the iPhone ecosystem.  The fact that Apple can create a walled garden is uniquely an Apple experience.  Microsoft will likely be looking to partners to help flesh out the hardware as it offers the software (including games) portion.


I think this debate has not be settled and continues at Microsoft.  Can they continue to rely on partners or go at it alone, at least, in the initial part of their roadmap to reclaim relevancy in the mobile market?  It has demonstrated that it can make a first rate mobile device with Zune HD.  So don't be surprise when Zune HD continue to evolve with more functions and software.


And don't be surprised if Zune component of the mobile strategy gains a more robust gaming ability.  With the Tegra chip power the ZHD, it is a powerful system that so far is largely under utilized.


At the end of the day, Microsoft needs to provide an unique experience only Microsoft can provide.  It has an arsenal of impressive technologies and a very deep pocket.  But the window of opportunity is closing and it better hit it out of the park with when Windows Mobile 7  is launched.


WM 7 has been delayed more than a year.  I am hoping it was a year well spent.  I simply sensed that the old thinking about mobility at Microsoft has to be thrown out and something new be reborn.  Maybe Microsoft needs to let something go or break any mold they've been using so that something new can be reborn.  


Note:  Something new at Microsoft.  Hmm...here's my honest opinion about Steve Balmer.  Get rid of him.  He's no good for Microsoft and as a shareholder, I cringed every time he speak and then proven wrong weeks or months later about competitors or prospectives of Microsoft's own product.  Dude has got to go.  He's still living in the Windows 95 era.  

Monday, October 26, 2009

Verizon Needs The iPhone (As Well As Other Providers) Now

ATT is the exclusive partner to sell the iPhone in the US.  To give some perspective, 1.2 million new subscribers were added by Verizon Wireless (VW).  It's a good feat.  That is 200,000 more users than the 1 million expected;  20% MORE THAN ANYONE EXPECTED.  

Now, think 1.3 million.  That is the number of new iPhone subscribers that ATT gained and ATT gained 3.2 million new users in the last quarter.  someone smarter than I am ought to look into the non-iPhone users and see what kind of halo-effect Apple's mobile device had in helping ATT achieve this feat in the midst of a recession.

Imagine the effect it would have had on VW's numbers had VW had the iPhone in its arsenal.  For that matter, Sprint and T-Mobile as well.  

Plus, time and time again, I've expected new products from Apple's rivals to dethrone the iPhone.  First it was the new Blackberries from RIM.  You know, the whole thing about the iPhone not having a physical keyboard and all.  I kind of bought that argument.  Well, that didn't work out.  RIM is still the top dog in the smartphone market but the iPhone is cleaning RIM's clock.

Then the Storm came out.  What a disaster that was.  And now, Storm 2, which VW isn't giving a lot of hoopla it did last year, will be out this Wednesday.  Does it looking promising?  It might keep Apple on its toes but nothing more.  

And then there was the Pre.  I thought "this is the one".  Well, it went from $299 to $99 at Best Buy (at times) and while it has helped Palm's bottomline, it didn't not solidify Palm's comeback in the mobile arena as I had hoped.  

Then there's Microsoft's Windows Mobi...ah, I'm not going to be there.  

How about the G1?  Right.  There was a report out last week that collectively, Android will be the number two mobile platform in a few years.  I think it'll be more like number one eventually.  But so far, Android devices have been great but they're still no iPhones.

Now, VW is teaming up with Motorola with the Droid.  Can this stunt the iPhone momentum?  A year ago, six months ago, I might have said it has a good chance of doing just that.  Today?  I am not so sure.

While many smartphones and mobile devices can do more than the iPhone (such as apps running in the background) the iPhone ecosystem is something that has yet to be duplicated and Apple competitors will have issues dealing with it.

Collectively, the Symbian, Blackberry OS, and Android will likely be at the top in terms of market-share but the iPhone will continue to be the disrupting factor in the mobile market.  And this is why VW needs the iPhone.  

And for the same reason, last week, ATT CEO prepared analysts for the day when ATT will cease to become the exclusive iPhone seller.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

BN's Nook - Worth Reader But Not For Everyone

I ordered the Nook today because I do a lot of reading on my iPhone and having a dedicated reader will let me save battery power on the iPhone.

Still, why did I not get the Kindle 2? Well, for a number of reasons one of which being that I did not like the design and feel of the Kindle 2 even if it was a great improvement over the original Kindle. I'm not saying the Kindle 2 isn't a good reader. It's just not one for me.

The Nook, while not perfect, is closer to what I want. And the Nook running Android help as I have experience with the OS, owning a G1 and all.

Still, I want to be honest with the mobile warriors who read this journal. The Nook has some severe limitations. One that quickly comes to mind is the limitation BN puts on wirless access (no browsing) despite running on Android. As such, it is a feature the Kindle 2 users can brag about.

I've left the meat of the matter about the Nook, Kindle, and ereading at Mobile goodness. BN brought a lot to the ebook market with Nook. I only hope that BN will unleash the Android power within and let Nook serve as a part-time tablet.

More at Mobile Goodness. Perhaps, we'll see another Android reader in the near future without BN's artifical limitation. Even better is if Apple give us the iTablet already.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nokia And Sony Ericsson - Can They Return To Prominence?

My initial intention was to try talking about Nokia and Sony Ericsson with the mention of the you-know-what that has a fruit for its corporate symbol.

Nokia just recently posted a loss of nearly $850 million while Sony Ericsson faired a bit better but still doesn't seem to have an answer to get back into the black. The public line is the economy. And while Sony Ericsson did fare a bit better than what analysts were expecting, it was still not the same thing as actually announcing a positive earnings.

I've long ago given up hope of trying to understand corporate reporting as allowed by regulatory agencies but that's now the issue here. Others in the industry have managed to do well despite the depressed global economy. So, how are Nokia and Sony Ericsson different from say RIM and Apple's mobile offerings?

The main difference I see here is the lack of a cohesive mobile plan on the part of Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Just ask Motorola. It's difficult to see how Nokia plan on turning things around but folks like Sony and Motorola are moving away from Windows Mobile to Android to power their devices and hoping that will solve their problems.

Still, it is difficult to ascertain if that will work as planned. The differentiating factor between Android and Windows Mobile (WM) is that both platforms have different backers and that Android is open source and free while WM is Microsoft's offering and isn't free. And as Android devices flood the market, there won't be much in terms of differentiation among themselves.

In essence, many of these companies using Android will not be able to differentiate themselves other than adding their own proprietary skins to run on top of Android. The underlying operating system remains the same. Not only will Android devices in the future have to contend with Palm, WM 7, Blackberry OS, and others, they will have to compete among themselves.

Sony will need to fend off HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and other Android hardware developers.

However, Nokia stands to have a better chance than Sony Ericsson since it offers its own mobile platform. The only thing that's lacking from Nokia is a mobile vision for its users and prospective mobile users.

Obviously, time will tell. We'll know into 2011 where things stand. By then, Android devices will be in their second or third generation hardware and OS improvements. We'll know if Sony Ericsson and others who chose to back Android was the right decision. And even as the smartphone market continue to grow and adoption accelerates in an improving global economy, it will be interesting to see if Nokia is able to hold its fort against the onslaught of smaller innovative mobile players.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Six-Year Old Trapped In Homemade Balloon

This is on live now.  A 6-year old boy is trapped in a homemade ballon shaped like a flying saucer.

Apparently, he got into the ship and took off.  Authorities are attempt to track it and find a way to bring it down safely.

Prayers go out for his safe return in Earth.

More at CNN.

Trillian Delay In App Review By Apple - Speculations, Open Network

I was going to speculate that perhaps Apple delayed Trillian for the purpose of coming out with its own competing services.  But folks, as you know, there are already a few apps that allow users to aggregate IM services.  Fringe.  IM+.  These two quickly comes to mind.  There are others with varying degree of IM services.

So why?  This may be just a straight-forward dropping-the-ball.  It could be Trillian not complying with what Apple wants.  

A bit of history on these types of IM applications.  In this day, no one has just AIM or any one IM service. More like, folks have two or more.  And suppose you've got four accounts of different types, it's a waste of computer resources to keep all four applications up and running.  And suppose you've got three AIM accounts.  Well, the AOL IM application only allows one account to be logged in at any given time.

This is where applications like Trillian on the Windows come in.  It allows you to create accounts for the major IM services like Gtalk, MSN, and Yahoo.  For Mac folks, think of Trillian as the Adium. As a matter of fact, Adium on the Mac also integrates Facebook.  

With Apple disallowing 3rd applications to run in the background, Trillian and others with push notification and multi-IM support becomes very integral to one's online social life.

A prevail rumor, though I think it's more about hope, is that Apple will enter the social service scene with text, voice, or video.  With all that is possible, Apple should enter the market.  However, it should be mindful that the success of the iPhone and iPod Touch owes largely to the sweat and blood (okay, probably not a whole lot of blood) of 3rd party developers working to provide great apps for iTunes.

Only Apple knows why there is a two month delay in Trillian getting approved.  The fact that it has not been rejected only made me very curious.  Perhaps, Trillian somehow fell into the same category as Google Voice.  

Perhaps with certain apps like Google Voice, Apple has developed a new purgatorial category of "continue to study it".  

Impact on mobile warriors:  I hold firm the belief that an open wireless network is important for social and educational development and, therefore, vital to any nation's security.  For Apple to be doing something weird with their app store approval process is just not acceptable.

Ordinarily, I would put mobile Apple posts over at On Apple but this is bigger than just about Apple.  Though I'm not a big government interference guy, I'm glad the FCC's inquiry into ATT, Apple, and now Google Voice is getting to more serious matters such as network access for devices, apps, and services.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

T-Mobile About To Shake Up Subscription Market?

You pay what? $50 a month? $60? $80 if you've got an iPhone? Over $100 for family plans?

Well, Sprint has always been pretty innovative about coming up with competitive pricing and how they market it. I've always liked that about them and I'm just sad that they don't command the marketshare I think they deserve. Then again, they deserve to be where they are because of the network they use and the coverage they provide.

However, is T-Mobile about to shake things up even more now? As a long-time T-Mobile subscriber, I have access to a $50 a month plan with unlimited minutes. And that to me is just incredible. Ask ATT what they're charging you and you'll know what I'm talking about. Plus, T-Mobile was the first to come out with the MyFavs features.

However, there is something T-Mobile is working on dubbed "Project Black". No one really knows what it is but there are rumors about it and I don't want to bring them up here. However, being a 4th place wireless providers, T-Mobile with its increasing lineup of Android devices really has an opportunity to shake up the market. Here's what I like T-Mobile to do:
  • Provide a $60 all you can eat plan. I know some folks are asking for $50 on Android and T-Mobile sites but I don't think that's realistic. So for $60, you get unlimited calling, data, texting. You have access to an open network. $15-20 more for tethering.
  • Open network. Do away with limiting voice plans. For a flat fee, it's all data. VOIP support, Google Voice, tethering.
  • Work with Clearwire on 4G network. Sprint and Clearwire need a shot in the arm and T-Mobile clearly can provide that.
  • Bring the iPhone and/or Palm Pre or Pixie to T-Mobile users. One of the things iPhone users grip about is the crappy ATT network. In a limited capacity, T-Mobile can serve as an alternative for iPhone users and as a notice to ATT that Apple has alternatives. One of the interesting thing is that T-Mobile seems to be doing double-time with their network build-out. Does this have anything to do with trying to satisfy a device maker like Apple or Palm. T-Mobile does have a relationship with Apple after all by selling the iPhone in Europe.
  • Tighter partnership with Google to create an open network.
I'm a big underdog fan and T-Mobile and Sprint are now the two biggest underdogs in the US as far as the big four mobile providers are concerned. But there as we wind up 2009 with one quarter left and into 2010, now is the time for T-Mobile to shake up the mobile market.

Future of Smartphones

I've got some thoughts in what I like to see in smartphones and mobile devices of the future. And right now, we are just at the beginning realizing the possibilities of what mobile computing is truly capable of. iPhone is the standard bearer at the moment even though it does not command a big share of the mobile device market.

However, I don't think Apple, Google, Nokia, or Palm has yet to decide on what mobile devices will be like 5 years from now. But these mentioned companies along with Microsoft, RIM, and others are still vying for position and trying to figure out where they all fit in. Clearly, there is no market leader in that sense.

I was listening to the latest Macworld podcast with Michael Gartenberg and I encourage anyone who is interested in the mobile market as a developer, mobile user, or just a tech fan to listen to it. It's a pretty fairly good assessment of where the market is at the moment.

One thing I like to point out about the podcast is the Android topic. They were right on with Microsoft, Symbian, RIM, and Apple but as far as Android, I have a different take on it.

Also, they predicted that there will be three dominant players at the end of the day, 3rd parties will remain critical, support for work and play are critical, and having a tightly integrated ecosystem is important.

More at Macworld:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Google Voice Invitation Soon (Update)

Sorry.  I forgot to provide you with the link to Google's blog page.  Here you go:  Google Voice blog.

Google Voice Invitation Soon

I took this off Google' blog page to save me the trouble.  I'm sure they're okay with it.  I hope...

Since the debut of Google Voice, our early users have shared lots of feedback that has led to some exciting new features, like the ability to receive SMS messages via email and the option to change your Google Voice number. But one of the most frequent requests we've received is for the ability to share Google Voice with friends and family.

Starting today, we're beginning to give out invitations to Google Voice users. If you currently use Google Voice, over the next few weeks, you'll see an "Invite a friend" link appear on the left-hand side of your inbox.


We'll be rolling out these invitations gradually, so don't worry if you don't see your invitations immediately. We're initially giving out three invites to each account, but we're planning to provide more invitations in the future.

If you don't have an account yet, you can request a Google Voice invitation at google.com/voiceinvite.


There you go.  Get an account now and you can start inviting folks in a matter of a couple of weeks.  This is the mobile future and you're better off getting the telephone number you want now..  As a matter of fact, don't be surprised if GV offers a VOIP component.  Bet on it.

Barnes And Noble Event Next Tuesday: Kindle Killer!!!

Alright, here's the gist of it:  BandN will be doing a special media event.  Being that they sell books, it's safe to say that they are offering something about book reading.  And in this day and age, it's likely about ebooks and readers.

More at Gizmodo.  How will this play out given that Amazon sort of soft-launched their Kindles last week with a price drop on Kindle 2 and an international version of Kindle.  Plus, Nothing doing in the DX version so hopefully, competition from BandN will for Amazon to lower their DX prices as well.

$100 lower on the DX to $389, anyone?  Here's also the cool part about having an event in NY.  1, 2, or 3 Hours ahead of everyone else.  So by the time we get our coffee or wake up, we would already have some hard facts about it for you.  Unless you live in the EST zone.  

So, doubt it's about an ereader?  Also remember that Amazon bought ebook seller, Fictionwise, a bit back.  And oh, Fictionwise bought eReader a bit back as well so BandN will already have a large following.

Here's what I want to see and they're simple requests:
  • Try to match Amazon on ebook pricing.  I said "try".  Just try.  I don't mind paying a bit more for it and see next point for the reason why.
  • Don't try to steal books back from us.  We bought it, it's ours.  Let us read it on the reader, Mac or PC, and mobile devices like the iPhone and Windows Mobile.  yeah, BB and Android phones as well.
  • Long-ass battery life, touch input, different sizes.
Again, not unreasonable requests.  

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sidekick Debacles - Cloudy Future For Cloud Computing

By now, you've got a friend or a teenager who has been crying for days over the lost data from their Sidekicks from T-Mobile.  To be more precise, these are not merely lost data that will magically reappear after connection between the devices and the cloud are reestablished.  In some cases, T-Mobile and Microsoft aren't saying much at this time, the data are gone forever.  Poof!

Microsoft you ask?  That's right.  Microsoft bought Danger, the maker of Sidekick, and they're the folks responsible for the services.  Here's what I didn't know until this happens.  Once connection to the cloud is lost, these Sidekicks are almost wortheless without connection.  

And for cloud advocates, this is not what they want to see.  For mobile advocates, this is not what I want to see.  This made me think back to when Apple was tripping all over itself during the MobileMe launch.  Okay, Apple fans, I know.  Microsoft's Sidekick thing here is a lot worse.

Still, it only shows much how further we have to go to really establish true connectivity with redundancies, backups, and alternative means to access data when wireless connection are severed.

This is the latest developments so far on the Sidekick outage:
  • Some data are lost and cannot be retrieved.  
  • A lot of answers are still missing and there is speculation that it was an insider job.
  • T-Mobile is prepared to compensate users for their troubles.
  • T-Mobile has halted Sidekick sales.
More information:

Friday, October 9, 2009

LCROSS Lunar Impact

Alright, you've got 30 minutes to head over to CNN, MSNBC, or NASA to watch live development of the lunar impact to help humanity gauge the existence of water on the moon.

Here are some screen captures from about twenty minutes ago.




There will be a live press conference 10am EST.  Presence of water on the moon can determine whether we will have a permanent lunar presence.  A significant among of water will allow us to "live off the land" as such.  Plus, a lot of lunar experiences will be invaluable as we push beyond to Mars.

As far as tech goes, I love to have 4 to 5 monitors helping me do my work.  I've only got three.  Less than 20 minutes to impact.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

740 Billion Texts Sent; Billions in Wireless Revenue

CTIA, a wireless industry trade group, stated 740 billion texts were sent.  And that's just in the first fix months of 2009.  At ten cents a pop, $74 billion worth of SMS collected by the wireless providers.  Of course, that isn't the case.  After all, many folks buy SMS in bulks based on their monthly plans.  From 400 texts a month allotted in a $25 a month plan from T-Mobile or $35 a month but with unlimited texting.

Nevertheless, the wireless industry gained $76 billion in revenue, also in just the first 6 months of 2009.  Any way why folks in the industry will fight tooth and nail to protect their honey pot?

Still, this is just the beginning.  Data, texts, minutes used will only increase as the industry evolve along with the folks who they service, us mobile users.  We'll be demanding more data and bandwidth and more devices to support use them with.

Hardware makers will have to pump out the mobile devices while others have to make sure there are enough routers, switches, and towers to support  a growing wireless appetite.

The figure in the $76 billion revenue does include app developers.  So for folks out there who are looking to make extra dough aside from your day job, there are tens of millions of smartphone and mobile device users and that's just the beginning.  I've read projections that tens of billions of dollars will be spent by mobile warriors by 2013 on games and mobile apps.  It's buried somewhere within Onxo.

More CTIA stats at Pulse.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Google Voice Takes Center Stage With Verizon, ATT, and Apple

Google, Verizon, ATT, and Apple.  Mark today's date as the start of a turning point in the wireless war.  At the center, whether Googled figured it to be or no when they bought GrandCentral, is Google Voice.


Short history.  FCC started looking into device exclusive deals between handset makers and wireless providers such as the iPhone deal between Apple and ATT.  Then, Apple rejected Google Voice (GV) And things soured and the FCC decided to looking into why GV was rejected and issues about net neutrality.


Here is where things turn today for all mobile warriors, the wireless providers, handset makers, and the government.  Google and Verizon Wireless (VW) announced their partnership to bring Android devices to Verizon's "open network" where even Google Voice will be supported.


Trust me.  That's significant.  Google has to believe VW will stick to its word or else Google end up looking like a hypocrite. A while back, Google fought VW to make sure that there are open access provisions in the 700Mhz auction.  VW eventually won part of the auction.  But for a while, VW and Google were not on speaking terms.


Hence, today's joint announcement between bitter rivals was significant.  A lot of press and blogger attention was dedicated to this.


Then the second part of this wireless chronicle happened.  Washington Post posted that ATT maybe opening up its network to VOIP and Google Voice around the same time Google and VW's press conference was going on.  A couple of hours later, this was all over blogosphere.   One would figure ATT would be approached about this and a "no comment" would be issued.


Folks were excited.  Then it happened.  In a press release online, ATT confirmed "it has taken the steps necessary so that Apple can enable VoIP applications on iPhone to run on AT&T’s wireless network".  No mention of Google Voice and that is what folks are going to be wondering about.  Does this change anything between Apple and Google?


Meanwhile, Apple has indicated they will amend their developer agreements for the inclusion of VOIP apps while Skype welcomed the move.


Don't think this has anything to do with Google Voice?  GV might not be a VOIP app but the larger issue is whether we will have open wireless networks going forward.


Consider how appropriate this is, I'm watching the first two episodes of Season 9 of The X-Files titled "Nothing Important Happened Today".  The title was a reference to the diary of King George.  Before he went to bed, his entry for the day was "nothing important happened today".  That day was July 4, 1776.


Okay, maybe this isn't exactly like the declaration of independence by the American colonies but in the world of wireless, this significant all the same.

No Apple On Verizon Any Time Soon?

Bell and Telus in Canada are now joining Rogers in selling the iPhone, starting in November.  And we know that there are now three providers selling the iPhone in Britain, or there soon will be.  I had hoped that the same kind of announcement might also be coming for the United States.

Of course, outside of ATT, T-Mobile is the only major network that runs on GSM.  I still believe there is an outside chance of that but it is a way way outside of a chance.  And Verizon Wireless (VW)?  Well, CDMA, right?  Then conventional wisdom is that Apple will start selling the iPhone on Verizon once the next generation, LTE network, goes online.

But now?  Today?  

Former spectrum foes, Google and VW, who sparred over the 700Mhz rules and auctions, will now join forces to develop Google's Android devices and bring them quickly to the market (More at Phandroid).  And in what appear to be a shot at Apple and ATT, which I will now refer to as DA as in Double A (Apple and ATT), Verizon said it will support Google Voice.  It went on to say "either you have an open network or not."

And given the attention and time the FCC is putting into looking device deals like the one between the DA, this is a really loud and not so subtle shot.  

Then, there is also Verizon's commercial referencing Apple's slogan "there's an app for that" by changing it to "there's a map for that" in explaining why Verizon's 3G network is superior.  From that alone, it is difficult to gauge anything that might be going on between Apple and VW.  Though the reference is from an Apple commercial, the jab was at ATT's, to put it mildly, subpar 3G network.

Still, the mobile market is in flux.  Anyone who said a year ago that Google and VW will be working together as close friends as Google and Apple did would have been laughed out of the building.  

Right now, the attention is on this Android partnership between Google and VW.  And in the eyes of the probing FCC, it looks very good.  It sure puts DA in a bad light.  

However, six months to a year from now, things can change once again.  It's just that for folks who are holding out for the iPhone working on another network other than ATT's, you will be waiting for a while longer.

What kind of impact will this have on mobile warriors?  Choices.  More competition.  Innovation?  I'm not sure.  Outside of HTC, Motorola, and Samsung offering their own skins for their Android devices, Google seems to be playing catching or, at the very least, providing features that Android should have had to begin with from day 1.  To be fair, Apple's iPhone 1.0, while awesome, lacked many of today's features (cut and paste, anyone?).  

VW will no doubt integrate Android into more of its own offerings and app store.  The scary thing for an open platform like Android, there is already talk that there will specialized apps that only work on certain network.  Only on certain Android devices.  And as time go on, further fragmentation will accelerate.  Google doesn't mind so long as its apps and mobile search continue to appear on these devices.

The more immediate and dire change will be for RIM.  Storm was VW's darling and Blackberries will have a following, particularly, in the enterprise market.  Folks who want the iPhone will go with ATT.  Folks who want the Pre will go with Sprint.  

However, VW customers who wanted to stay with it because of the network will now have more than Blackberries to choose from.  That's going to be the biggest change coming out of today's VW-Google announcement.  VW will not be pushing RIM smartphones to compete with the iPhone as it once did.

Google And Verizon Set To Make An Announcement

A lot of announcements are likely this week.  New Macs?  Maybe new carriers for the iPhone in Canada.  But keep an eye on this one.

Google and Verizon Wireless will be making an announcement prior to an wireless industry show.  There are speculations as to what this joint news conference will be about.  Search?  Well, that was settled a while back.  Android?  Likely.  I don't expect blue worn jeans and black turtle necks but I hope there will be more than just Verizon Wireless looking forward to carry Android phones.

Frankly, I'm looking for new Android hardware.  I'm talking about faster Android devices.

There is an outside chance that we might see a Chrome OS device outfitted with mobile data plans.  If that's the case, it would mean that Google-backed devices will beat the rumored iTablet from Apple to the market.

That would be something cool to see happen.  We'll know in a few hours.

More at CNet.

Monday, October 5, 2009

WiMax Markets: Why It's Not Coming To You Just Yet

I want WiMax now.  Unfortunately, it's not coming to my neighborhood or does it appear to be in a list of cities Sprint and Clearwire will light up with 4G access.

I've noticed that they seem to be clustered in certain states.  Certain markets.  Northwest, Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

I can think of a few reasons why this is the case.  One reason is cost.  New York, Los Angeles, and the Silicon Valley are not in the list of those cities.  Those are cities with high densities and likely greatest demands in terms of population.  The initial deployment costs will be huge.  

The biggest cities with WiMax so far are Las Vegas, Philly, and Atlanta.  The next major cities to be launched are Chicago, San Antonio, and Chicago.  The cities are bigger this second time around.  In the year it took for the WiMax network to be built out, cost have gone down quite a bit.

The second reason why Sprint brought WiMax to small to mid-sized cities is so that Sprint can more properly gauge interest and test the network.  The cost will be less than trying to start building out the network in major US city like New York.  

Also, by building small to start with, any issues can be isolated, tested, and rectified more easily.  Imagine trying to do that in a city the size of Los Angeles and as spread out.  And then imagine all the complaints and bad press that's likely to result from it.

My fear is that Verizon Wireless and ATT will likely follow this pattern.  However, given the pace of competition, and anywhere between $30-40 billion being spent on wireless networks, the LTE network will launch with more cities than when WiMax started with.  

More Changes In The Mobile Landscape

As more folks get onto the Internet wirelessly and new technologies and business models come into play, the good old days when companies can rely on old ways of reaching out to customers and making money doesn't work well any longer.

Take for example, this deal between Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Fox Sports, and Turner Sports in developing a player that would work with their Internet media as well as Apple's iPhone.  Could this have happened a year ago?

The Internet and mobile has really disrupted traditional media.  Hulu, anyone?  This is just the media company portion.

The other is the wireless and telecom market.  Vonage now has an app for the iPhone and Blackberry.  Skype is doing nicely as an iPhone app.  Still, the wireless providers are being affected the shift and interests in the mobile market.  In the last couple of years, mobile users have gained more freedom than at any other time thanks to Apple wrestle control away from ATT in favor of iPhone users.

To be certain, if not Apple, and open mobile access is inevitable.  The market forces are just too strong for wireless providers to go up again.  They are simply buying time until they can figure out where they fit.

For instance, all the providers now are attempting to create their own app stores to compete with the likes of iTunes, Blacberry's App World, and Android's Marketplace.  For the moment, I'm at a loss as to how T-Mobile, Sprint, VW, and ATT are going to be able to create compelling alternatives.  But hey, that's what where good old-fashion innovation comes into play, right?

For instance, ATT is putting Opera Mini on traditional mobile phones and charging only $15 a month for access.  And according to CNet, VW also changed wireless data package for non-smartphone phones.  And because of the growing popularity of mobile Internet access, billions will be spent in 2009 alone to built out capability.  ATT will be spending $17 billion in 2009 on next generation networks and improving existing 3G access.

These are just the beginning and what we'll see for the rest of 2009.  There's some suggestions that the next generation of mobile devices may forgo traditional voice plans and completely rely on data for voice access.

Okay, maybe not the next generation.  But it's happening.  The writings already on the wall.

More at MocoNews.  More in ATT mobile access at CNet.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thank The Higher Power, Or Powers, For Mobile Tech

Religious services are something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I've been to just about every kind of known services of the major religions except in a mosque for Muslim services (I don't have any close Muslim friend.  Deficit that is my loss I'm sure).  I've yet to witness an exorcism performed and I would like to see one some day.  Okay, perhaps not.

I've always felt believing in God or deities are fine except I'm not always convinced they want us to take time out just to learn how to be a better person.  I rather think they want us to follow their examples.  They'd want user to be doers.  But I do appreciate the community of religious gatherings such as Christmas services.

But boy, I simply don't want to be there at times.  You know what I'm talking about.  So mobile tech.  Yeah, I've been using my iPhone to surf the web while I'm in a temple or church.  I'm not so rude that I will listen to the iPod where it's obvious to everyone else around me of what I'm doing.

Still, as intolerable as my behaviors might be to some folks, I'm willing to come clean and be honest about it.  And yes, when there is something I deemed interesting, I listen to it and get inspired.  I even type in stuff I learn at services.

All in all, it's perfectly standard behavior to bring tech into religion.  Just make sure you turn off any sound.  The folks there tend to be more touchy than folks in movie theaters and lecture halls.

Note:  Some churches have their own one-man tech department.  Perhaps they might even have Wi-Fi.    Ask and only them for access.  I find them to be more understandable than anyone else in charge there.

Another note:  I wrote this with a tinge of humor.  If that's lost, it's because I suck at this.  Having said that, it's better I look like I'm awake doing something sitting down than dozing off with drool coming off the corner of my mouth.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Recession Watch - We're Getting Dinged By Banks And Govs

This has nothing to do with mobile specifically but I'm just tell all my fellow readers about this: check your bank statements, don't drive if you don't have to, and be mindful of yourself.

I got assessed a late payment on something by my bank.  I made the payment early with plenty of time to spare and yet the payment to my own bank was assessed as being late.  Basically, since banks are being hit by regulations specifically in the credit card market, they're looking for other ways to ding us.  

To me that's fraud.  

Also as for driving?  Well, driving involves parking and especially if you're in a zone where parking time limits and meters are concerned, cities are very stingy about time limits and giving out tickets before meters run out.  

It's what happened to a friend.  In fact, she got a letter saying she was ticketed.  She didn't even know!  There was no stub or anything from the parking guy.  The letter, a legitimate one (I did some checking) basically said their parking guy could issue one at the time but trust us, you violated the parking laws.  

Folks, times are tough.  The poor CEOs need their millions.  You know, yachts and mistresses.  They're gonna need to come to us, not as taxpayers, but the customers to help them with their life styles.

As for the city, I get it.  I happen to live in one as I'm sure you do as well.  Okay, fine.  I'm not as pissed about the ticket but this banking fraud thing I'm hot about.  

I'm definitely going to fight this but I'm also debating about how to go about this.  I'm considering going to the FTC about this.  

Anyway, any suggestion from my fellow mobile warriors would be greatly appreciated.