Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is There Room For Web OS In 2011 - Maybe Not

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 (WP7) did not sell one million units its first weekend but Microsoft cannot afford to cede the mobile market to Apple or Google. And it has the staying power and deep deep pocket to win marketshare if not necessarily the hearts and minds of users.

With WP7 already having an app store already rivaling HP's Web OS in terms of numbers of apps, is there room for Web OS in the market anymore?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mobile Manners - Listen To Authority And No Slapping

A man nearly seventy years old slapped a defiant teen who refused to turn off his iPhone as instructed by the flight screw on take off.

I don't understand why people today are so inconsiderate. By that, I am referring to the kid. And belligerent, by that, I am referring to the old man.

Simply put, we are in the cusp of new social norms especially with pervasiveness of social media and mobile communications into our lives. Ten years ago, worries about digital devices like laptops, tablets, and cell phones, let alone smartphones, was not thing that airlines needed to worry about much.

Regardless, hitting under any condition is not acceptable. Sure, the man could be old-school. He'd probably approve of this kid's parents giving him a good spanking. But these aren't the old days and, even so, I'm of the school that spanking or any other physical coercion to change behaviors just doesn't work.

Back to what proper behaviors out to be in this mobile revolution that we are now a part of, we need to understand that we are just at the beginning of what mobile is and what we can do. But there ought to be some decent ground rules.

In this case, if a flight crew, concerned for the safety of a flight, asks nicely to comply with airline regulations (sensible ones such as turning off digital equipment during take off and landing), it makes sense to comply.

But if there happens to be a passenger who doesn't want to listen, let the flight crew deal with it. They are professionals and trained just for this.

As mobile warriors, we do need to be aware of just what kind of impact our mobile activities are having on our immediate surrounding and society at large. Tread light and carefully is what I am saying.

Just know that we live in a society where ever little mishaps could mean regulations, regulations, regulations. Don't let me get into it about politicians...sheesh....

More at CNN.

iSpot Sold Out!

Short and brief.  A couple of friends of mine apparently looked into the iSpot but were unable to find it online.  What happened?

Sold out is what happened.  In fact, there was a special promotion on the iSpot for $20.  Apparently, that was after I bought mine for $100.

Thanks to Dave the Mobile Warrior for clearing up this matter.  So if you go happen to go onto Clearwire's website to look for the iSpot and the great $25 a month access to WiMax with no need to sign a contract, you're out of luck.

If I had an online chat with a Clear rep who said:

Due to the ongoing popularity of the iSpot device, we are currently out of stock indefinitely. At this time, we are uncertain when this device will be offered again. The iSpot is still available for in-hand retail purchases only until the physical inventory is depleted. If you provide me with your zip code, I can locate a store in your area where you can inquire about this device.

So there you have it.  If you want one, your only option is to go a Clear retail store.  I don't know if it'll still be $20 or $100.

Regardless, this is a fantastic deal if you own an iOS device.  You can't beat any mobile access deal.  Even with a smartphone, you're looking at $30 a month from Verizon.  And if you want unlimited access, you can forget about going to ATT.  T-Mobile has fast HSPA+ but it still costs more than $25 and it's limited to what device which you have an account for.

With the iSpot, it's a mifi that allows you to connect multiple iOS devices like the iPod touch, iPad, and the iPhone.  Yeah, that is great if you have an iOS device.  And if you don't, you are out of luck.

Even so, the Clear Spot at $55 isn't a bad deal if you think about it.  In my previous post, I wrote about my experience using the iSpot and my iPod touch.  With a Clear Spot, you can use it with any device.  Beats paying $75 and up for a smartphone access and being locked in for two years.

Note: I am very excited about the iSpot for more importantly, I am excited about the prospect of this mobile future where wireless data is all that we need and that voice communication are a function of it, not something that we are forced to sign up for.  It's why I support what Clear is offering.  And the cheap $25 access helps too.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Review of iSpot And iPod Touch

I've been using the iSpot for about three weeks now with the iPod Touch.  My goal is to determine whether the combination of these two devices, iSpot providing wireless Internet and the iPod Touch acting as a communication gateway, can effectively replace the more expensive iPhone 4 with its $70 and up monthly plan or other smartphones with similarly priced monthly fee.

In my last update, things more or less worked out as I had hoped.  More than less.  To quickly summarize, I hooked up my Google Voice number to my Whistlephone number.  Whenever I dial out, I use the Google Voice app which then connects to my Whistlephone app.  The iPod touch will notify me of an incoming call, I'd answer it, and the call to whomever goes through. When someone tries to call me on the Google Voice number, the call gets forwarded to Whistlephone (Whistlephone offers free domestic calls in the US).  Great and it's free.

And while it was not intended to be so, this past Christmas weekend was a good test to see how this scheme would work as I drove all over Los Angeles, venturing in Orange County, and visit new spots where I had no prior knowledge if Clearwire has WiMax support or not.

How did it go?

On Saturday, I was Los Angeles and in safe areas where WiMax coverage exists.  Calls went out just fine.  Most calls were received but a few did get missed that was quickly picked up by the Google Voice app on the iPod touch.  The annoying thing is that incoming calls are delayed for a second or two before being connected with me hearing the other party going "hello?  hello?  hello?".  

But it's free. Can't complain really.

What I did notice was that Whistlephone was not picking up during those missed calls  Well, that's fine.  When I got home for Christmas dinner, I downloaded and installed the Whistlephone application for the Mac.  I figured a land-connection would be more robust than WiMax.  Well, the voice quality, for some reason, was worse on the Mac than on the Touch.  Still, free.  

On Sunday, the real adventure began.  We drove to Downtown Los Angeles.  Coverage there was fine.  I was near the Staple Center and I reckon Clearwire would want good coverage where thousands of people gather on a regular basis for sporting events and concerts.  Would not be good for image and business of folks complain about services.

Then we started driving to Orange County.  The freeway coverage ranged from good to moderate.  I tried to stream NPR and I did get cut off a couple of times.  This was much better than when I headed to Long Beach about ten days ago.  Once we got to Irvine (capital of the financial and mortage meltdown west of the Mississippi), coverage was hit and miss. 

Driving to the South Coast Plaza and getting into the parking lot, I noticed very spotty and bad coverage (red or flashing red on the iSpot - weak signal or that it was looking for signal).  I had tried to make a call to my brother but was unable to.  Once I got out of the mall and got back into the freeway towards Tustin, coverage got better once again.  

When I got to my brother's house, the iSpot light indicator was yellow, which means good.  I like the green that indicated strong signal.  Fine.  Still usable until I got into the house.  But my touch quickly switched over the house's wifi coverage so that was good.

When a couple of hours later, I had to drive to another part of Irvine to my cousin's house.  And along the way, I had to pass through some farming fields.  No idea what they were used for.  Oranges?  I saw no trees.  But along the way, I was surprised by the strong signal that was indicated on the iSpot.

But as I got closer to my cousin's house, the iSpot quickly went from green to red.  By the time I got to her street, it alternated between red and yellow depending on where in the car I had placed the iSpot.  

During that time, I missed a few calls.  More than at any other time during the day and more than at any other time when I used the iSpot.  I couldn't understand why.  Instead of telling me that is an incoming call, the push notification would tell me that I had missed a call here or there.  I was concerned.  

My calls were still going through as before.  It was just the incoming calls that was being missed.  

I was not able to tell if this was a connection issue or Whistle issue.  But with other operations such as using the Maps app, emailing, streaming audio, or checking e-mail or updating Facebook, it worked without a hitch.  What was going on?  Was my plan to use free VOIP for mobile in jeopardy?

When I finally returned home, I found the answer.  I think I did.  Apparently, the calls may have been going through the Whistlephone application that was still running on the Macbook  After using Whistle to make a call that lasted nearly an hour, I quit it and subsequent calls came through just fine on the touch.

By that time, I was on the wifi network at home.  Still, I think it was the two Whistle applications that were competing for the same call that was causing my afternoon calls on the Touch and iSpot to not come through.

So, it was not exactly the iSpot, iPod touch, or Whiste that did not pass my test.  Over all, I remained convinced that I've made the right choice as far as going the nontraditional for my mobile communication needs.  And given more time, this experience will continue to be more robust and additional choices will be available for not only the iOS devices, but for Android and other mobile platforms as well.

I see a future where wireless providers, whether they become dump pipes or not (it's their choices but I'm not optimistic), will be forced to move away from voice plans to providing exclusive data plans and devices like the iPod touch will gain 3G or 4G connectivity and all voice chats will go through VOIP or video solutions

Note:  I am eagerly waiting for Google to make available to Android and iOS apps VOIP capability.  When that happens, I will no have to route my calls through Whistle or any other options.  I believe that will come soon in 2011.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sony Will have Xperia Play, What about Nintendo?

Mario, Zelda, and the Pokemons have entertained us for years. Decades now. But with the mobile gaming landscape changing so far, what should Nintendo do? Should they remain in the hardware business? I think Nintendo has one more chance to get things right and that's the DSi.

But I think more and more, that's looking less likely to keep Nintendo in the game. Consider that fact that decaded gaming devices, consoles or handheld, live for 3-4 years at a time. In an era where the iPhone is updated annually and new Android devices released throughout a given year, Nintendo, or Sony's PSP for that matter, just cannot stay up with the trend.

It is increasingly looking like Sony will bite the bullet and merge PSP with its Xperia phone and call it Xperia Play. For Sony, there is a lot of risks but the rewards could be huge. How about Nintendo?

I see three options. I don't see Nintendo with the staying power to just push out dedicated mobile gaming devices.

  1. Get into the phone business.  Apple did it and I'm sure Nintendo can find a Japanese phone maker who would be happy to help Nintendo with a DSphone.  Is this likely?  No but stranger things have happened.  Perhaps Nokia would a willing partner.
  2. Get out of the hardware business completely.  Do what Sega did after Saturn expired.  Would you like to see Nintendo's starters and deep bench of libraries on the iPhone, Android, PC and Mac, Xbox 360, and PS3?  I see a lot of dollar signs there.  I don't see this happen unless Nintendo really cannot keep technically with the rest of the mobile market.  But it is certainly enticing and I would love to see it happen as a gamer.
  3. Create a platform and license it to developers and hardware makers.  For instance, HTC can license Nintendo's designs to put it on its own phone.  So could Motorola, LG, Samsung, or anyone else who wants to let its users catch Pokemons to battle.  
I think I like the third option the best.  Like Google, Nintendo can come up with a reference device.  It can run on Android, Windows, WebOS or some Linux variant.  Hardware makers can build off that.  Devices would be subject to Nintendo's approval.  Once all conditions are met, Nintendo-approved devices can be manufactured and sold.

In a way, Nintendo would still be in the hardware business as an overseer, allow others to take the risk, and continue to build excellent games for it.  

Is this viable?  I think so.  If you want to play Nintendo games, you still have to buy Nintendo-approved devices.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Samsung Tab Sighted In Public

I saw my first Samsung Tab. And in public. Not at a store but I really should go see one. No, I saw one at Borders in Pasadena where I was trying to get some work done.

And this is how it went down.

I did not notice it at first as I was busy hacking away on my Macbook, trying to promise myself that I would finish my nanowrimo project. For those who know what it is, I know, I know, it's already December 22nd. But better late than never.

But I felt someone staring in my direction. I looked up and saw a father standing in line with her daughter for their drinks. When the little girl walked away from her dad so she can get a better look at desserts, in the father's hand was a tablet.

I noticed that he was staring at the iPad that was on my table. I stared back. What was that thing? It was no iPad because the size of the thing was much smaller. The man was able to hold it like a big-sized paperback. And it had a wider-screen than the iPad.

And I know there is no iPad mini. Steve Jobs said so. No 7" iPad!

The staring ended when it was the father and daughter's turn to order. But after they got their drink, they walked towards my direction. I made a point to burn the image of the device into my mind.

Then there was a bit more staring. And I noticed the 3G signal on the screen as he walked by.

After they had walked behind me and I could no longer see the device, I googled the Tab. Then a couple of the other more well known Android tablets. It was the Tab!

So what do I think? I can't say much about it since I did not get to play with it or have it lay next to my iPad. I don't think the man would have agreed to anyway. Believe me when I tell you that his stares were icy.

But I noticed that he would tap on the screen with one hand. Specifically, with one finger. I tried to imagine myself doing that on the iPad. Easily done. I probably would type on the on-screen keyboard than tap at the keys in landscape model.

Then I imagine trying to type on the 7" screen of the Tab. I could probably do it by using my index fingers just like I already do now on the iPad in portrait model. But whenever I try that, I quickly tire and go back to the landscape model.

That's all for now. Oh, and the man was mostly reading from it. I think it was through the browser and not an ebook reader app or another reading app.

Again, just reporting on what I saw. I really should go into a Best Buy or visit one of the carriers to check it out. Anyway, I just thought I share my first Tab sighting. I'm not saying whether the 7" screen is adequate or not or whether Samsung jumped the gun by using Android 2.2.

Over all, it was pretty cool to see someone else using a tablet that did not have the Apple logo on it.

Plants Inside And Around A Home: Does It Save Energy Cost?

I was reading a CNet article about how building energy management should soar as owners look to cut energy cost for cooling and heating their high rises and skyscrapers.  Then I got an idea.  

For the most part, building owners will try to retrofit or, if they're building from scratch, build their buildings with the thought of energy efficiency.  Like using power during off-peak hours to cool buildings.  Not a bad a idea.

So I thought, hey, how about in door plants.  They can take up a lot of heat during summer months and that might help a bit, right?  

Well just how much I wonder?  Then I got to thinking about it on a smaller scale.  How about inside my own humble little home.  A few small trees here and there might block out sunlight or help insulate house a bit.

Does anyone know if this will help much other than really making the house look more green?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Proper Mobile Etiquette And Holidays

I started this blog just after Thanksgiving but I never finished and Christmas is only days away. And yeah, I'm still paying for eating my customary two dinners-weekend. Yeah, I am one of the fortunate ones. But see, I had dinner with a lot of folks not of the iPod or iPhone generation and they're frankly not used to kids taking out their cameras to take quick photos or videos or tweet or update their Facebook status on what kind of gravy they were having.

So when there was interesting conversations, I was pretty engaged. Two weeks ago, I met a new friend from a family acquaintance who works at Facebook. That was interesting. But when the conversation ended up being about politics in the old country, I got bored rather quickly.

I was tempted to pull out my iPod touch and play with my games. That was before I got my iSpot. Now, I am fully capable of surfing the Internet for intervals of four-hours (the life of the battery).

Still, more options for my mobile device does not make it okay to use during dinner and gatherings. So what is the proper etiquette?

Last Thursday, I went on a late dinner-and-snack run with some college and Internet friends. The last one of the year. There were ten of us. I was the only one with the iPod touch while everyone else had an iPhone. One other did not.

Everyone, except the one who had a regular LG flip phone, was constantly checking Yelp, checking into Places and Foursquare, and looking up the latest sports score. I guess in that setting, it was okay.

But dinner with aunts, uncles, and grandparents who you rarely see probably isn't the place to be seeing what your friends are doing on Facebook or what Twitter is feeding you.

So, we've got Christmas and New Year left. I'm guess Christmas will be spent with families while New Year with the iPhone crowd. Pick wisely. You only have to see some folks a few times a year and it might be wise to spend it, for better or worse, focused on them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mac App Store Coming January 6th, 2011

Apple announced the Mac app store will be available on January 6th, 2011.  Imagine waking up to this this morning.  Apple isn't known for making product or feature announcements without a major press event.  However, we have known for quite some time that the app store was going to open up soon.  But the question remains:  is the Mac app store going to have as big an impact as the iOS app store?

Only time will tell but given some of the chatters, the MAS (Mac app store) will have quite a few restrictions.  No demo.  No in-app purchases.  Kind of a bummer.  But perhaps this is likely because we are merely in the infant stage of the store and Apple will incorporate new features once both developers and end-users have had time to work out the kinks and the bloggers have had their say.  Isn't that what happened with the iOS app store?

And I have questions that I think most users will want answered:

  • Will we need an iTunes account to use it or is the Apple ID enough?
  • If it's only the Apple ID that is needed, I wonder what MobileMe features might be liberated for all and not just paying users?
  • Is the North Carolina data center going to be used for the app store?
  • Is Apple asking for 30% for the fee from developers when developers now can keep 100% of the revenues for themselves if they sell the app through other means?

Those are just a few questions that popped into my mind when I found out this morning about the MAS.  Hopefully, more details will be unveiled throughout the day.  Meanwhile, prepare for Apple to release another OS X update that will incorporate the Mac app store feature.

Despite some questions and the restrictions placed on the apps, I do look forward to this.  I think Apple has another feature that Redmond is likely firing up their copiers to add to their next Windows update.  And I also believe the Mac app store will be a benefit to both developers and users once everything has been worked out.  

Consider the six to nine months of the app store to be a part of the beta period.  Not even Apple can foresee everything despite their experiences with the iOS app store.  Plus, Lion will be available in June.  I think that will also impact the development of the Mac app store as well.

More at Apple.

Green: Volts Arriving At Dealerships

Well, Christmas is almost upon up and the calendar is just an artificial timeline that repeats ever 12 months and 365 days.  I remember for me, Christmas came last April when I lined up at the Apple store for my iPad.  And for some, this will be the GM's Volt that is said to be arriving at dealerships.  And I'm a believer that the Volt will usher in a new era of EV and fuel efficient vehicles in the coming decade.

The Prius and the Insight has done much to help gain attention in the media and the mind set of everyone who wanted fuel efficient cars and to reduce their carbon footprint.  The arrival of the Volt will take that another step.  Able to drive between 35-40 miles before burning any petro is something that most people will be interested in.

Furthermore, Volt is coming at a time of GM's rebirth after being bailed out by the government.  Whether libertarians and conservatives find varying degrees of disgust at government intervention or not, the technology behind the Volt is going to change the dynamics of the auto industry as oil begins another march towards $100 a barrel.

Also imagine a future where individual homes are outfitted with solar panels that can power our cars as well.  The Volt is the first step in that direction.  Together with self-generating homes capable of generating homes, EV can also help out with the power grid during peak hours as well.  

Personally, I can't be more excited about this.  As far as game changers go, folks, you'll want to mark this day.  The Volt is a big deal.

More at Green Prophet.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Microsoft Wants Apple’s iPhone To Win (Over Android)

Given the plethora of posts today about how iPhone along on ATT's network is outselling all of Verizon's smartphone sales, I can't help but wonder if we are on the road to total domination by iOS in terms of sales.  Well, for folks in various camps, the answer is : no.  However, iOS will continue to reap in the major of the media and bloggers' attention.  And this is something that Microsoft wishing for: an iOS rout of Android.  

Here's why.

Even now, the consumer attention is on iOS, Specifically, in the smartphone market, it's the iPhone.  And with Apple likely to sell the iPhone with Verizon in 2011 and possibly other networks in the US, Android's position as the counterweight within Verizon becomes increasingly irrelevant.  

More to the point:  iPhone will take sales from Android and Blackberry and defections from Verizon will likely end.  So why does Microsoft want this to happen?

Even now, Windows Phone 7 is just starting to pick up steam though it has a long difficult road ahead.  Microsoft believes it will take upwards to two years to mount a challenge against the iPhone.  They made no mention of Android.  Perhaps they believe, just as the data have indicated, the iPhone has a good chance to dominate the US market.

And if the iPhone does take sales away from Android and Blackberry, it makes it easier for WP7 to mount a challenge against one adversary than having to deal with two major opponents.  

How so?  It is not just about sales but what the media and bloggers are talking about and what information trickles down to the consumers.  Should the day come when Android becomes a "has been" in the mind of consumers, it would be easier for Microsoft to position WP7 as an alternative to the iPhone.

And then carriers and device makers will have to change their strategies.

Like Android, WP7 is licensed by hardware makers to use as the backbone for their devices.  Like Android, it is available in multiple forms.  Should Android sales faltered, Microsoft can argue that Android no longer possess the competitive challenge that Verizon, Google, and others have sought.  

If everyone buys this argument, Microsoft can come in and say "WP7 is the answer to their hardware sales woes" to the iPhone.

Now, wouldn't this work the other way around?  Android dominating the iPhone so Microsoft can go toe-to-toe with Google?  No because of the exact same reasons I've laid out above.  If Android sales continue to be strong, why would hardware makers need to push WP7 against its cash cow?  Not only that, Microsoft charges for licensing when Android is free from Google.

For any of this to happen, we'll have to see what kind of iPhone sales on Verizon will have on the whole mobile market.  

Before we go three or more quarters into the future, let's ask this: is demand for a Verizons iPhone, whether it runs on CDMA or LTE, going to impact Android or Blackberry sales to the point that either of these platforms will be sold only to those most dedicated to them?

I doubt it.  There's likely going to be an equalization at some point.  Just as when you add weight to a small boat, it'll rock violently but will eventually stabilize.  

And there are many reasons Android will continue to sell well and expand.  Android 3 is coming and Google knows that its future lies with mobile. Furthermore, let's not forget Google is still about search, which it dominates by a wide market both on the desktop and in mobile searches.

But for Microsoft, it doesn't matter if Android sales continue to do well so long as bloggers and the media start to sing songs of Android's former glory days.

More on iPhone sales and changes for Verizon-Android at Macworld and Asymco.

Friday, December 10, 2010

AirPrint Is Nice But I Don't Need It; Nor Should You

With the arrival of iOS 4.2.1, Apple finally gave us the ability to print from the iOS devices via AirPrint.  And while that is a great feature to have, I am one of those who will not benefit from this new feature.  And today, with new firmware upgrades, 

With Instapaper, iBooks, and Goodreader, I have been able to get just about everything I need from the Web and books without having to print them out to read.  This is especially true when I use the iPad.  Think about it.  Instant access to all the files I need with apps on the iPad.  

Unless a mobile warrior is in a specific job where printing docs is necessarily, I don't see the rest of us who use the iPad to consume information finding all that much use with AirPrint.

And frankly, will Android need this feature?  I am sure Google will have a similar implementation as Android push deeper into enterprise.  HP will most assuredly add direct printing into its future Web OS devices.  

But hey, this is 2010 going on 2011 in a couple of weeks.  We don't need paper any more.  Enterprise should try to wield itself from having to print docs and its own workforces and even customers.  It'll not only save time but cut down on a lot of costs.  Not to mention that the forest will thank you for it.

More at Macrumors on HP firmware upgrades.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Preliminary Impression of iSpot

After some hairy moments with Fedex on the delivery of my iSpot, I finally got in after days of back and forth with more customer service agents than I hope to deal with.

And yeah, I am very happy with this mobile investment. In fact, I was able to get it up and running in less than 5 minutes of opening up the box the iSpot came in.

Apple Should Prepare to Leave China (There Is Still Time To Execute Such A Plan)

At first glance, you might think that the title of this article is a clickbait considering that China is the second biggest economy in the w...