Monday, April 30, 2012

Microsoft Invests $300M In New Barnes & Noble Venture

Looks like Microsoft and Barnes and Noble are hooking up in a bit way that could pave way for the brick-and-mortar bookseller to stay in the ebooks game.  The obvious aim is to blunt Amazon's Fire, which runs on a specialized Android OS.  The question is what does Microsoft get out of this?

Well, for the $300 million, Microsoft and BN commits to a Nook reader app for Windows 8.  However, that really would have happened anyway, right?  The two also worked out their patent differences.  So, BN will likely have to pay Microsoft for each Nook hardware sold.  Unless, of course, something is worked out so that BN would support Windows more.

I'm sure more details will come out soon.  I'm curious if this means a Windows 8 running on a Nook or if BN is still free to run the Nook on their Android version with their own app store.

And kinda related to this, will Microsoft possibly go after Amazon as well over the Kindle Fire.

Source:  CNET.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nokia: Another Mobile Lesson For Companies - Don't Be Arrogant and Be Mindful of Unassuming Threats

When the iPhone came out on the scene, I didn't get wild about it until I saw the smooth pinching demo by Steve Jobs.  I knew at the time that the iPhone would be a work in progress.  That the iPhone 2G was a beta device with much much greater things to come from Apple.

But what was amazing to me was the quick dismissal from incumbent players like Palm, RIM, Microsoft, and Nokia.  Each had something unkind to say about Apple's entry into the phone market.  Even Motorola, once an Apple partner in the ROKR phone, said the iPhone would not go anywhere.

All I can say is that had these guys grew up watching anime like I did, they would know that the world was ready for a device that could do everything we can on a laptop.  The Palm and the Treo at the time was among the most enticing device for me.  I even got a wireless modem running on GPRS.  It was awesome.

Today, Nokia offers another lesson.  The thing is that Nokia, despite its "beleaguered state" doesn't seem to think it's in trouble.  And here's the lesson for anyone running a business or is involved in the mobile struggle now, don't assume that just because you're at the top that you'll stay there.

I think that was the main concern for Steve Jobs.  He helped usher in a music revolution and now a mobile revolution.  He redefined digital distribution with Apple.  And what is next now that Tim Cook has drove Apple to the height of the corporate and mobile world?  Certainly, Tim Cook's Apple would not be considered to be arrogant at all.  His personality just doesn't seem to suggest it.

Meanwhile, bashing from rivals continue from time to time.  The most recent is Samsung's mock protest in front of an Australian Apple store.

The key for Samsung (forget the rest of the Android market) is that it relies on Google's Android.  Innovation will only occur as fast as Google is.  Hardware will be on par with everyone else but other designs could suffer.  The Galaxy Note is a pretty good take and there is a huge market for it.  So, Samsung will be fine for a while.

Nokia is in a lot of trouble and I can't decide if it's better or worse than RIM's situation.  At least for RIM, it's got a corporate market that it can draw from at least for a while.  Nokia's debt was downgraded twice last week (Wired).  In the Wired post, it made a very distinct difference between Nokia and Samsung.  At the time, Samsung had the Bada OS, which it continues to work on and improve, but it was willing to turn on a dime and embrace Android.  Bada was not going anywhere (still probably won't) and it had more to gain from the Google-backed brand.

Nokia and RIM had their own successful platform and did not feel Apple could possible gain any kind of meaningful foothold in the mobile market.  The difference between someone like Apple and someone like Microsoft is that Apple had the feel of a startup.  And the difference between Apple and a regular startup is Apple has tens of billions in the bank.  And of course, Apple had Steve Jobs.

Today's Apple will no doubt continue to build on the momentum Steve created and it'll be up to Tim to make sure Apple continues on that path or even take a risk and go on a different path.  What Apple cannot afford to do is to believe that no one can out-innovate it or that the Apple brand cannot be tarnished in any way.

As for Nokia, I don't think it's too late.  Luckily, I think it picked the right partner with Microsoft.  And Nokia remains a strong global brand, much more than RIM.  I really like to see Nokia success with Windows.

As a mobile fan, we don't want this to turn into another two-horse race, Apple and Samsung.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Movie: World War Z

It's back to zombies.  Actually, we don't post many scary or supernatural stuff for our Friday movie clips/trailers.  We went with the Living Dead game trailer a couple of weeks back but most of the time, it's been scifi or cartoony stuff.

If you don't know, World War Z (wiki) is a book by Max Brooks that chronicled a zombie outbreak origin in China and how humanity dealt with the aftermath of an undead horde hunger for, what else, flesh.  It's written in the style of a documentary.

Here is the official website for WWZ at Random House.  It has been made into a movie starring Brad Pitt.  Unfortunately, the film won't be released until mid-2013.  Meanwhile, if you can't wait and havent' read the book, go get it.  And if you have like I did, reread it again.  It's that awesome.

Now, the video. And have a great weekend!

This second video is Max Brooks' zombie survival trailer.  In this day and age, who doesn't need to prepare for the undead?

Campaigns Should Use Mobile To Make Difference In 2012

We know President Barack Obama's election team in 2008 made very successful use of social media to get their messages across and really got their base excited, particularly the youth vote. So you know team 2012 will continue that tradition and top even their successful effort.  Meanwhile, the GOP with Mitt Romney will at the very least try to duplicate that effort and may even have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Mobile and social media roles in political campaigns are just in their infancy.  The successful Tea Party movement that toppled the arrogant Pelosi regime in the House of Representatives in 2010 showed just that.  Now, the Democrats and its allies will do the same to the rigid and impotent Bohner era.  As you can see, I don't like either parties much.

In going through the presidential campaigns on the web, I tried to see how they compare on the mobile devices like the iPhone.  Not surprisingly, both the Obama and Romney campaigns wisely have their own mobile sites.

Here is President Obama's mobile site and here is Governor Romney's mobile site.  What's interesting is how generic they both appear to be.  The Romney campaign decides to go with the menu on its front page while the President's webmasters went with the direct appeal to voters.  It makes sense.  The President's reelection is virtually assured if he can get the voters who who voted him in to believe he has done as he promised.  Surprisingly, there is nothing in the Romney site that played up his supposed economic strength.  

The Obama site played up Clooney. I'm not sure what that will accomplish. Oh, right, the woman votes.  I learned nothing about what a second Obama term means.  With Romney's blogs, it's attack, attack, where he's been, and attack.  Both campaigns offered little red meat.  However, President Obama did offer some of his accomplishments (though the GOP/conservatives/Fox News would beg to differ) so far in his first term.  

As far as webapps, I think it's a tie with a slight edge for the President.

I also did an app search and found it difficult to see if either campaigns have their own mobile apps.  I had to do a Google search to confirm whether an app was truly the official campaign app.  There is obviously the White House app.  Then on the President's desktop site, I found a link for apps for his campaign.  It's for the iPhone and iPads only.  No Android.  Why?

And the Mitt Romney apps?  Nothing.  There is an app in the iPhone app store called Top Conservative 2012 with Mitt Romney's picture and that's as close as it gets.

For mobile apps, clearly, the Obama camp is leading here.  However, the lack of Android apps is clearly a mistake.  

What I also see is the lack of efforts on both sides beyond meshing social and mobile with a clear strategy to convey their messages and maneuver into advantageous positions.  I like to see points and counterpoints for each move by the campaigns. Maybe a section ready for users to follow on debates.  

Mobile is already huge and will have an even bigger role than radio and television.  I hope in the next couple of months, we'll see both sides take mobile warriors more seriously.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act Passed By House: Perhaps, We Are Moving No More Online Privacy

Source:  CNET

This is kinda scary, no?  The House just passed by an 80 votes margin the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, CISP.  It awaits voting in the Senate.  President Barack Obama has already threatened to veto it.

Still, the day will come when we will not be as vigilant and with a president, who isn’t too concerned with basic sense of privacy, will sign a similar legislation into law.

But don’t take my word for this.  You should try to learn more about CISP and privacy on your own.  However, when President Obama and Ron Paul agree on this issue, it is worth it for us to take note.

It doesn’t matter if you’re politics is right or left of center, the far right as well as the far left are so extreme that should they ever come into power, the powers granted by CISP is simply too tempting not to abuse for their own political gains or agendas.

And while amendments were passed to make sure that there would be enough support for its passage, none of what I've seen suggests that the threat to privacy and basic rights won't be violatd.

The issue of cybersecurity is a very important issue.  And in the name of national security, we do need a cohesive reponse against cyber attacks.  However, let’s not let fearmongering do away with basic privacy and civil rights.   When both liberal and conservative groups band together out of fear that CISP could be used by the government to spy on its own citizens, that is a very scary thing.

Another measure supported by the White House and some in the Senate gives Homeland Security the directive to protect the US from cyberattacks. However, regardless who's in charge, considerable oversight and common sense is required.

Here is a very good FAQ on this matter from Paid Content.

Can The Kickstarter Model Work For Local and Even State Programs Like Parks and High Speed Trains?

It’s a lazy Thursday afternoon, so it’s as good as any to put this out there.  I was trying to find out my Amazon password so I can support a couple of Kickstarter projects.  While I wait for Amazon to send me the email to reset my password, I started doing a very dangerous thing: thinking.

And I got to think about how the Kickstarter model can apply to many things, not just for iPhone accessories.  And so I thought how about public projects and social programs?  I’m not thinking anything big like trying to get Kickstarter folks to chip in for the high-speed trains in California.

Something smaller.  More local.  Like parks or stadiums.

Supposed a local city needs a new library or renovate its park.  The city can then put this out there and see if there are interests to make this happen.  As an incentive for supporting this, there will not be a need for property tax or sales tax hikes.

It could work.  Cities already do this to some extent.  They put up tax measures that gets voted whether to fund local programs like buying new fire engines or police cruisers.  Some cities forgo that and go right to fundraisers.  So, a Kickstarter for cities would be more like fundraisers.  The difference is that supporters could get benefits because of their willingness to support the project monetarily.

In a local city near where I live, there is a park that is only available to residents of the city.  The residents all pay an annual fee from their property tax to support the park.  It’s a very nice clean park that is very family friendly.  Also nearby is the Huntington Library that requires paid access. Two different approaches.  The park is only available to residents of the city but free in the sense that beyond what’s in the property tax, access is free.  Meanwhile, Huntington Library isn’t free but anyone can pay for the annual membership to enjoy it.

Huntington Library was started by Henry Huntington in 1919 while this local park born out of a special measure sponsored by the city.

Suppose another city wanted to build a park with a lake that is exclusive to its citizens but not everyone wants it.  Instead of creating a measure to be voted in, potentially creating a division within the city, supporters of the project can put it up as Kickstarter-like project that will only go forward after a funding threshold has been reached.  Once built, only those who helped with the funding and continuing support will be allow access to the park.  No one else will have access to it.

After the park is built, anyone else, those who missed out or refused to take the risk and fund it in the beginning, will have to pay extra to access the park.

I got to think about this because it is an election year and we'll be bombarded with a lot of taxing measures. And some of it doesn't make sense for everyone.  On top of that, these measures are worded in such a way that allows the state or city government to divert funds away from its intended use.

Some local projects can work better than others while others won’t work with the funding model I’ve suggested.  However, such semi-privately funded projects can require a more stringent oversight than most public programs that are simply ripe for abuse.  

So, what do you think?  Should local projects bypass new taxes and get funded only by its supporters?

I simply would love to see a city do something like this on Kickstarter.  I don't care what such a city would want but I'd support it just to see how far it gets and if it works.

This Display of Obsession with Apple Showed Samsung Gone Off Deep-End

Source:  Droid-Life Via Android & Me.

This is sad on so many levels.  Samsung hired a marketing group to stage a protest outside Apple’s Australian store, completely with a mob and shouting.  The purpose, if you can it that, is to get the Apple fanboys to wake up – but to what?  That Samsung devices are superior?  Or that owners of Apple products are being “cultitized” (I just made that word up)?

Sammie, your devices can stand on their own against Apple’s iThings.  No need to do this weirdness.  This would just turn people off.  I know this is just a play on those commercials you ran last year but this is a bit far. It'll only turn people off.

Just recently, analysts are beginning calling the mobile war not one between Apple and Android but rather between Apple and Samsung.  That kind of attention is good for competition.  This ain't.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Google's Mobile Domination & Apple's iPhone Success Means A Facebook Phone Makes Zero Sense

Apple may have achieved nearly 60% of total smartphone share in the US.  This news coupled with the talk that HTC and Facebook are working together to bring a phone that focuses on all things social within Facebook’s realm.  The question for Facebook is why brother and if it insists anyway, which OS will Zuckerberg use?

I’m not sure that Apple can sustain this level of domination in the long run.  Nor am I saying that it won’t.  These things have a way of playing out and Android’s appeal does not seem to have diminished despite the iPhone 4S success.  The threat to Android comes from execution, not the OS itself.  Forking, delays in updates, and social issues like security and privacy are what could make things difficult in the long run.  It has nothing to do with what Apple is doing.

However, the iPhone 5 is coming out in six to seven months.  While that seems like a long time away, the above mentioned issues for Android isn’t going to get solved in that time.

Now comes to Facebook’s smartphone.  I don’t know what to call it.  fPhone?  fbPhone?  How about zPhone for Zuckerberg?  Yeah, let me go with the zPhone.

Facebook has a close relationship with Microsoft.  Microsoft is both a source of resources and an investor.  Forking Android is the obvious solution but I wonder if Redmond might try to get FB to try out Windows 8?  It would certainly be a huge boost for Microsoft.  I mean let’s face it.  The whole Windows Phone market is Nokia’s Lumia, nothing more and it has not yet caught fire on the scale both Microsoft and Nokia had hope for.  I know that the mobile war is about the long game but you’d at least want signs that things are promising.

So, forking Android is the obvious choice for Facebook to use in the zPhone.  And if Microsoft and FB can work out a deal to use Windows 8, it would mean forking Windows to some extent as well.

But why bother with the zPhone at all?  Does FB believe that it can persuade its legions of users to abandon iOS and Android in favor of its own device?  With FB’s track record regarding security and privacy, it’s highly doubtful that it can appease both users, marketers, and regulators all at once.

And if FB does really come out with its own phone, it needs to continue onward to developing its own music and video store.  It’ll need an app store.  Oh, why stop at the zPhone.  It’ll need a zTablet to compete with the iPad.  And with Apple possibly releasing its own television, FB is going to need its zHDTV as well.

Oh, and there already was a Facebook phone from HTC.  It's called the Status.  And the current status of the Status is not so good.

iTunes Sales Bigger Than iPod For Apple's Latest Quarter

Check out this graph from Macrumors.  There is more info at there on Apple's latest financial call.  I'm not going over it much because not all of it matters to the regular mobile users.  However, this graph is telling.

iTunes sales has iPad sales beat by 2% in the overall revenue pie for Apple. That's a 40% advantage iTunes enjoys over iPod sales.  Not long ago, iPod was king.  It was the single device that saved Apple and launched Apple's domination in mobile.  

More importantly, iTunes content could be future drivers at Apple.  Right now, all the focus is on the iPad and iPhone but it'll be content accessibility that will help Apple's iOS hardware make further inroads into education and enterprise.  Not only that, should Apple finally unveil what Steve Jobs meant when he said he cracked television, the whole iTunes ecosystem is going to be key.  

In a few years, we might see iTunes break beyond 10% of Apple's revenue.  And should mobile payment become available, regardless of Apple's own take and implementation, watch out.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google Drive: It's Real and It's Live Now!

It's official:  Google Drive is live now.  You get 5 GB free.

Access Everywhere

This is what the competition offers:

  • iCloud: 5 GB
  • SkyDrive:  7 GB
  • Dropbox:  2 GB (but you can increase this if you get friends to sign up)
  •  5 GB (though some like Touchpad users have 50 GB)
Which do you prefer and does standalone companies like Box and Dropbox have a shot against the mobile giants?  

Google Lets You Have The Galaxy Nexus Can Be Yours For Only $399 - Unlocked

Source:  Google

This is one of the better news coming out of the Android camp in a long time.  Google is now selling the unlocked Galaxy Nexus for $399, unlocked.

This is nothing short of amazing.  This is the text from the blog:

We started shipping Nexus phones more than two years ago to give you a pure Google experience and access to the latest Android updates. Today, we’ve started selling Galaxy Nexus (HSPA+) from a new Devices section in the Google Play web store, so you can quickly and easily purchase an unlocked version of the phone. We want to give you a place to purchase Nexus devices that work really well with your digital entertainment.

Galaxy Nexus by Samsung runs the latest Android software, Ice Cream Sandwich, with Google mobile services, Google Play and new features like Android Beam and Google+ mobile hangouts. It also offers a 4.65” HD Super AMOLED display that’s perfect for watching movies, playing games or reading books on the go.

First available in the U.S., Galaxy Nexus costs $399 and arrives at your door unlocked, without a carrier commitment or contract. You can use it on the GSM network of your choice, including T-Mobile and AT&T. It also comes pre-installed with the Google Wallet app which lets you easily make purchases and redeem offers with a tap of your phone. Best of all, we'll give you a $10 credit to get you started with your new mobile wallet. 

We’ve come a long way since the first Android devices started hitting shelves three and a half years ago and since the launch of the first Nexus device. More than 300 million Android devices have been activated globally. We’ve worked with developers and content partners to launch Google Play, offering more than 500,000 apps, millions of songs and books, and thousands of movies. And we’ve implemented new customer support services to improve the purchasing experience on Google Play. We’ve taken all of this into consideration in designing Devices on Google Play. We hope to bring it to more countries soon.

Let's recap some of the specs of this GSM version:

The question on your mind is will this work with only AT&T's 3G network?  It appears that it'll work with T-Mobile's network as well.  Now, I'm considering pairing the Nexus with T-Mobile and Walmart's $30 plan which gives you "unlimited data" with 100 min of calling.  Since I don't call all that much, I don't care too much about that.  

And as mentioned above in Google's blog, you get a $10 credit from Google Wallet so the device only really cost $389 before tax.  

Oh, man.  I am so glad I left my wallet at home.  I can see myself with this soon.  But if you have your wallet now...

Dropbox Facing More Competitive Heat, Strong Enough To Stay Independent?

Dropbox, a cloud-based storage that provides 2 GB of free storage to anyone who wants it.  It's a great solution that many mobile warriors, on just about any platform, Android or iOS, can appreciate.  However, in the last six months, it has had to face a mounting number of deep pocket competitors like Apple and Microsoft.  Looks like Google will soon join the cloud storage war with its own 5GB free solution.

The question for me is how long does Dropbox have to show that it can stand alone or will it face so much competition that it will eventually be a takeover target.  Dropbox offers 2 GB of free storage while competitions offer around 5 GB.  So, it's not difficult to conclude that we Dropbox users can see an increase in free storage pretty soon.

Unlike its competitors like SkyDrive and iCloud, Dropbox doesn't have a lot much else to offer.  It's early lead in mobile integration with both Android and iOS apps should give it a large head-start in the cloud storage race but if we learn anything from the last couple of years in mobile, it's that things are changing quickly.

Android came out of nowhere and took the mobile market by storm, taking more than 50% of the global smartphone OS share.  iOS users are embracing iCloud with well over 100 million users.  While I don't have any hard numbers for Microsoft's SkyDrive adoption, you can bet uptake of Google Drive will be fast and furious among savvy hundreds of millions of Android and Google users.

Dropbox's hope hinges on new features, like URL-based links it introduced yesterday.  During its beta-testing, I played with the photo-upload feature that I like very much.  Such new features are greatly appreciated.  However, I doubt they are enough over the long run to fight off more patient competitors like Microsoft and Google.

Maybe Dropbox will surprise us.  But I can't help but feel that it could soon be looking for a buyer.  All I know is that it best not be Facebook.  Yeah, I know that you know that I know you know how I fee about Facebook.  Unlike Instagram where its users are fine with sharing, I fear someone like Facebook buying Dropbox is just scary.  Hopefully, if Dropbox does become a takeover target, it would not be a company that depends on selling user information to make a buck.

We'll have to see just how this cloud storage front of the mobile war plays out.  I plan on using all of the above mention services, including  In all, I have a total of 60 GB of cloud storage.  65 GB as soon as Google releases its drive.  I'm loving it all.

Apple, Foxconn, And China Event - Manufacturing Really Ain't Coming Back To The US, But Clean Tech Is Key To US Future

Last night, I attended an event put on by KPCC, a public radio, in Pasadena that featured Marketplace's Rob Schmitz, the man who helped exposed Mike Daisey's lies about Apple, Foxconn, and details about the Chinese workers he met.  It was an excellent event with a packed house.  And I'm grateful to be living so close to such great organization.  And Mr. Schmitz was a great and accessible guest.

This morning, I read this post from The Daily Beast on manufacturing.  And it got me thinking about manufacturing and whether we can really bring back some of these factory jobs that Apple and others have been exporting for more than a decade now.

I spoke a bit with Mr. Schmitz about it.  From the Steve Jobs biography, we knew that President Obama asked Steve Jobs how he could bring these jobs back and Steve pointedly told him they're not coming back.

For a while, I thought if companies like Apple can invest in high tech consumer goods, they can also investing in high tech manufacturing that would require less labor.  We do know that Tim Cook is investing some of Apple's billions in securing a supply chain, insuring Apple will have ample supplies to satisfy demand.  While I won't get into the details of the conversation we had from last night, the point made to me was, no, those jobs ain't coming back.

However, the future couple be more American ingenuity and our ability to think out of the box.  Clean tech could be something that we can export to the rest of the world.  I happen to agree that clean tech is going to be where the future is at, including renewable power.

Hopefully, whoever is in the White House come 2013, we will continue to put more of our eggs in the green industry.  Anything about green seems to be just as much a dirty word to the right as anything carbon-based is to the left.  So, it's understandable that tech and green entrepreneurs are growing increasingly frustrated and disenchanted with Washington.

LTE Matters And Android Sales Could Be In Trouble If iPhone Gets LTE

When Verizon reported its earnings last week, I was surprised by just how well the iPhone held.  And today's earnings release from AT&T has me thinking that the gains made by Android over the last couple of years before AT&T lost iPhone exclusivity isn't holding well.

I won't be editorializing here but just to present the fact.  A little more than a year ago, Verizon Wireless began carrying the iPhone, albeit CDMA version while the HTC Thunderbolt began making waves as one of the first LTE device.  Later in the year with the introduction of the iPhone 4S, Sprint joined AT&T and Verizon in carrying the iPhone.

We don't know Sprint's results yet but we know those of the two biggest US carriers.  With AT&T's 5.5 million smartphones sold, the two biggest carriers sold a total of 11.8 million smartphones.  Apple accounted for 7.5 million of those devices, or 63.55%.  While Sprint has not reported their earnings, there is no reason to believe that the iPhone will account for at last half of its smartphone sales.

There are many ways to read into these numbers.  Both fans of Apple and Google's platform can go all "Democrat and Republican" on this and spin this their own way.  However, as a mobile fan, it is trouble to see Google's Android, armed with Android 4 and LTE, has yet to make a significant pushback against a 3G device.

But as a whole, we can conclude a couple of things.  First, LTE matters and the 4G branding that AT&T and T-Mobile are so fond of pushing doesn't.  This is why LTE devices can hold their own against the iPhone at Verizon while the lack of LTE at AT&T has the iPhone walking all over the competition.  Second, the average mobile warrior is very savy.  We didn't buy into 4G marketing crap and this means if Sprint and T-Mobile doesn't pull their LTE acts together, they're in a lot of trouble.

And if you want to go further, the mobile war is far from over.  Competition is intense and market share in terms of units sold and profit coming out over the next month or so will show that. It means that Microsoft and Nokia, despite the lukewarm reception of the Lumia line, may yet have an opening if they can push Windows 8 out on time with hardware that is on par with competition.

That means Apple and Google will need to continue to bring their A-game with iOS 6 and Android 5.

Monday, April 23, 2012

At KPCC in Pasadena, CA

I am live tweeting from the Crawford Family Form in Pasadena, CA. The subject will be about Apple, China, This American Life and the behind the scenes.

Interview with Marketplace's Rob Schmitz who exposed Mike Daisey's lies.

You can follow at @paul_onxo.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone Shows How To Provide Bad Service And Shot Self In The Foot

Source:  WP via Dave the Mobile Sage

Many of us have our own website.  We register our URL and likely host them with the most reliable reliable hosting company we can find.  For the most part, it works great and is flawless.  But what if one of your customer is hated by one of the most draconian and certainly the most populous country in the world and that country sends you a threatening letter?  Well, if you're, you tell your customer, Boxun, the victim in this case to move along because it is scared of China.

The gist of the story is that Boxun has been reporting on an internal power struggle that many in China access via proxy servers.  Obviously, you're not going to get the straight story from Beijing.  Well, China sent a threatening letter.  Obviously, China denies it but we know that they know that we know it's them.

Name panicked and tell Boxun to move along.

Right now, GoDaddy, previously hated for supporting SOPA, is pretty happy that voluntarily stepped up to be the most hated domain registrar.  You can read Name's cowardly blog post on this matter here.  Apparently, the CEO of CloudFlare, a Name competitor, has made the services of his company available.

People, would you want to host your site with someone who can't stand a little denial-of-service heat?  And if you want to provide crappy service and let the world know about it, just provided you with a classic lesson.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

iOS App That Allows User To Watch Paid Channels - Likely To Be Yanked Soon

This morning, I woke up to this 9to5Mac post on this app called TV Premium. It advised the ability to allow users to watch live premium channels. Well, there are not many but enough for my to give it a try. And for the most part, it works.

The question is how did this get through Apple's legendary app censors? Well, first, Apple's app approval process has not been what it was billed to be by the media. And with more and more app submissions, it's likely things aren't getting get better and apps like this will get through.

Back to the app. I started using it at Starbucks' par wifi network. It is free and bless Starbucks for it but it's to as robust as what you're likely used to at home. With that said, the video playback was spotty. Again, I am using a public network shared by many people.

Should you get this? Probably not because I figure it won't be there in a few hours. And even if you managed to keep this in your iPhone or iPad, you probably won't be able to use it much longer as these servers that are providing the feeds are probably going to be taken down pretty soon.

It is curious that this is happening. The legal issues and what the media companies and Apple will do aside, this is a glimpse into mobile video viewing. And as soon as the media companies stop fighting this, the better.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Movie: Brave (From Pixar)

That time of the week again.  I know I've featured Brave before.  That was a long, long time ago.  Since then, there have been a few new trailers and clips released.  And wow, I think Disney/Pixar could have another hit.  And I think this time, it's on par with Nemo's success.

I know, despite being a dude and have no kids, I'll be there for opening weekend just the same.  The graphics and art are just that amazing.

So, enjoy and have a great weekend.  I'm off to a Game of Thrones marathon this weekend.

And here is Merida, her heroine.  Yeah, after this summer, expect a bunch of baby girls with that name.  It's not a bad name.  There'll be a bunch of babies born in 2012 and 2013 with that name is all.

What Is It That Made These Koreans Line Up?

You guessed it.  In the following video, these Korean mobile warriors are lining up for the new Galaxy Tab.  Whoops, I mean the new iPad.

What's be interesting is what kind of reception this'll get in China.  Or for that matter, how the next iPhone will go up against Samsung's flagship device, the Galaxy S III.  Remember, the iPhone 4S was poo-poo by many in the media because Apple didn't call it the "iPhone 5".  Still, it went on to break the iPhone 4's previous records.

What can we take away from this?  Make no mistake that the Galaxy S II and probably the III are top-notch devices that appeal to a large segment of the mobile market.  Just ask HTC, Motorola, and LG how they are faring against Samsung, let alone Apple. If you're not into the iOS frenzy, I certainly would recommend the Galaxy.  However, there is still that secret sauce that Apple provides that has yet to be matched by anyone else on the market.

Just this week, Verizon Wireless reported their earnings and sold over 6.3 million smartphones.  Of that, more than half at 3.2 million were iPhones.  More than half.  And that's not all.  The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are going up against the heavily marketed LTE devices.  Perhaps its the horrible battery life that the LTE devices that is well known and customers were simply opting for the best 3G devices that Verizon carries with longer battery life.

To mean, tha tmeans customers care about battery life.  That also means come this fall or winter when Apple releases the LTE iPhone (I'm guess that they will), This near 1:1 ration of iPhone to other smartphones could tip overwhelming in Apple's favor.

So, yeah, LTE is a big deal.  LTE with long battery life would be an even bigger deal.

Apple's Effort To Secure Supply Chain Should Go Beyond Mobile Market; Chance To Change The World of Manufacturing

I had similar thoughts about this Forbes post said about Apple using its cash to finance it’s future growth by acquiring and securing its own supply chain. Obviously, I cannot claim credit for this kind of thinking because Apple had been doing this for years with memory chips. The next step for Apple may be about changing the world of manufacturing and in ways that would leave its competitors gasping for air trying to keep up and really disrupt not just any one industry but a whole host of markets with new innovative processes.

Obviously, what Tim Cook is having Apple do with its money in trying to own its supply chain and keep competitors out is brilliant.  Apple can and will move a few steps even beyond that.  In the past, I had suggested that Apple may even spend R&D money into new ways of manufacturing and patent the whole process.

The initial discussion started when media reports began circulating about what Steve Jobs said to Obama about him being a one-term President and Jobs answered that manufacturing jobs are not coming back to the US when asked how companies can bring those jobs back.

But I think it’s possible.  Robotics and new ways of putting components together.  Think of this as robots building robots or other computer devices like the iPhones, iPads, and Macs.  Impossible?  Anyone thinking that clearly has not clue just how fast tech, on many fronts, is moving.

Not only is it possible but that is where we are headed.  All it takes is the will to make it happen and the financial clout.  And Tim Cook’s Apple has plenty of both.

We Do Banking On Mobile, Why Not Voting?

Are we close to the day when we can vote for our elected officials via our mobile?  After all, we do mobile banking and other types of transactions that has enough security that we can live with.  So, maybe we are closer to being able to vote through an app?

Here's how I see this can work. I am going to generalize this quite a bit.  Every registered voter who wants to sign up for mobile voting would have to go sign up.  Just register for online or mobile voting.  Also, the voter would have to provide a passcode.  Again, this will have to be online.

Then the voter would get a special letter from the government with a special code authorizing online voting. This letter would also have a randomly generated code that the voter must enter along with the passcode they created when they sign up for online voting.  If they match, the voting process can begin.

Okay again, I'm generalizing.  I'm sure you folks out there will have a better scheme for mobile voting and can come up with a better security system for doing this. Right now, each time I sign in to do banking, I am emailed a code by my bank each time I log in from a different PC.  I'm fine when it's on my mobile apps from the bank.

Also, Google has added security layer when you sign into Google accounts. They can text you a passcode that you have to enter after you've entered your login name and password.  Perhaps there are even more robust security measure.  You can be asked a series of questions before you start voting.

But I think it's time we start exploring mobile voting.  Right now, I think this works better than voting on your PC given the greater security risks.  And if we do this in the United States, we would not be alone.  Estonia did it as far back as 2007.

Heck, Astronauts already do this from space.  Here are more examples of other countries allowing online voting via Wikipedia.  So, this has been done.  If the government is still by the people and for the people, it's time we make this happen.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Forget Day-Long Battery Life, I Want Mobile Devices To Last Months

Today, smartphone batteries are atrocious.  We’re lucky if we can make it half a day without charging up.  So, those con numbers about standby time, talk-times, and hours of use really doesn’t stand up in real world use.  A couple of months back, Intel was talking about all day battery life from devices running on their chips.  It’s likely they’re parsing between light use like checking e-mails, texting, taking a couple of pics and watching some Youtube video.

Now, look at your own use.  You’re probably more a moderate user.  And if you examine how you use your Android or iPhone from when you first go it to today (maybe months or years), you’ll realize that you’ve come to rely on your smartphone a lot more than when you first started using it.

Chances are, your Android LTE device will be running on fumes by late afternoon.  You’re lucky if you can get to an outlet in time or you’re just heading home.  What happens if you’re got a longer work day or are heading out to dinner and a movie?  You’re screwed in what it is.

What’s the solution?  Well, as much as I like the specs race (who doesn’t), maybe it’s time to think about what mobile really is.  And there has to be a balance between performance of the hardware, what we can do with it, and how long we can use devices for.

I keep coming back to my calculators and I’ve gone through many of them over the years.  If it wasn’t for the HP graphing devices (the first mobile devices as far as I’m concerned), it was those Casio calculators that you can use in trig and geometry classes that run on the ambient light in the classroom.  Or even my simple no-name calculator from Office Depot.  That also runs on a small solar cell.

And they run forever.  Even battery ones we use in the offices.  I don’t recall changing batteries on those things yet.

That’s the kind of battery life I want.  As far as I’m concerned, that should be where the next mobile revolution should come from.  I want something that runs on one charge for days.  No scratch that.  I want them running on one charge for weeks if not months.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Social Weapon of Choice For Political Operatives: Twitter

Twitter has grown up.  Not long ago, it was a way to tell your friends when you were going to the bathroom and what you were thinking while you sat on the toilet.  Then it became instrumental in helping people of North Africa get rid of a couple of dictators.  And now, Twitter is the weapon of choice for political machines, specifically, the operatives who are looking to slash their way socially to get their messages and mud across.

Here is a prime example.  In an exchange between David Axelrod (Twitter), the man who is widely credited by the media for getting then Senator Barack Obama into the White House (I know Oprah would beg to differ) and Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom (Twitter), the two got personal and traded jabs.

There more of this at the Washington Post piece.  Something about dogs mixed in with dogs and debates.  It's really quite interesting because, even now, Twitter is a vehicle for influencing the greater voting public because the media and the campaigns are picking up on this.

I'm considering creating just a separate Twitter account just to aggregate these political tweets because the Twitter may be where the winner of the November elections is decided.

And you know what else might be a cool Twitter.  A rap-off, or Twitter-off, between opposing rappers.  I can see it now as they fiercely tap on the smartphones.

Political Tip: Extension Helps You Figure Out Which Blogs Are Biased And Which Way

Source:  Dave the Mobile Sage send me the link to Wired.

I love politics.  Especially national politics where the Democrats and Republicans slug it out with their armies of special interests pumping up the races across the country with their billions.  And the world watches American races closely because the outcomes are always felt throughout every corner of the world.  And if you’re a political junkie like I am, you’re ready a lot of news from news sites and blogs.

But how do you know which one is biased and which ones aren’t?

Here’s a neat little tool that works with Chrome and Firefox for Memeorandum, a political news aggregator. 

Once you install the extensions, each link will show just how left or right leaning they are and the strength of the color (red/blue) tells you how often a site reports on a subject its peers are doing.

In the above pic, see how the left side as it appears without the helpful extensions.  Then on the right, you see the colors appear for the blog posts.

It’s a very interesting tool and I suggest you give it a try. I would have to have this tool on mobile too. 

I can tell you that 2012 will be most expensive and explosive races in history (until 2016).  And it’ll be close.  Very close.  So best you stay informed.

And oh, one more.  Make sure you vote.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Social: Being “Lost” Because Netflix/Hulu Lets Us Be

I just finished watch Lost.  I know, it’s been a couple of years since it went off the air.  I initially did follow season 1 on DVD as soon as it went on sale.  However, I left off the rest of the show because I could not find a good deal for them on DVD.  Hence, I reacquainted myself with Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hugo on Netflix.  And it was then I realized just how video streaming services really change how we watch TV.

And I’m not talking about watching an episode on Hulu, which has more current on-air shows, a couple of weeks after it’s been aired.  I’m talking about years after the show has ended as I am doing now on Netflix.  As it was with 24, which I don’t watch until which ever the current season it was went on sale on DVD, I hate watching shows that I have to wait a week later to find out what happened.

So for years, I purposefully avoided engaging in conversations with friends about Lost or the Internet on what’s going on with the show and reading about the cast out of fear of spoilers.

And that has put me in an awkward position.  After all, a phenomenally popular show like Lost isn’t just isolated to its audience.  Like The X-Files before that, Lost had a huge influence on popular culture that went beyond the core fans.  So, there had been other shows that I’ve seen that had Lost references that completely went over my head.

Even today, there are still plays on the themes from Lost.

Now, imagine any popular shows today.  With the added marketing that social media like Twitter offers, it provides an added dimension to any show, allowing an additional avenue to connect with the readers or viewers.  In fact, social media simply augments the potency of any marketing campaign for any consumer medium in ways that “old media” simply isn’t capable of duplicating.  Imagine if Pottermore with its promised and promising social features came up just as the movies start, allowing the audience to connect with anyone connected with the books.

So, while Netflix has given me the chance to watch the whole series, I am essentially half a decade behind.  You know, kinda "lost".

T-Mobile's First Leather Clad Carly - Schwing!

Source:  Tmo-News.

Here's T-Mobile's first new look at Carly.

Does it make you wanna give T-Mobile a second chance or make a switch from another carrier?  No but it does make for a very interesting pivot by T-Mobile.  I wish them and Carly the best.  We need more competition, not less.

Maybe if Carly is riding with the iPhone 5 later this fall - this could have a bigger impact for T-Mobile.

Carly Gets Leather And Catches Nick Fury Cooking At Home

Source: From Dave the Mobile Sage who sent me the link to Macstories.

It’s spring so it makes sense that people do some cleaning as they come out from under the winter days.  It’s the same for companies.  In this instance, it’s Apple and T-Mobile.  Both are seeking to do something different from what they’ve done in recent years and so far, I’m liking T-Mobile’s rebranding better.  However, Apple is playing on its strength – Siri.

Here, let’s start with T-Mobile.  This is the old Carly.  Me like. Girl I wanna marry.

Carly Foulkes

This is the new Carly.  Me like even more!  Schwing!

Now here are Apple’s ads.  The first one features my other girl, Zooey D.  The second one features Nick Fury himself, aka Samuel L Jackson.

It’s nothing earth shattering but you get what Apple is playing on – the strength of Siri.  And while T-Mobile’s new Carly look may have Kate Beckinsale, my other girl, worry that there is a new Selene to continue Underworld series if she ever decides retire her leather outfits(which I hope she won’t), T-Mobile appealing to the 16-year old in me isn't likely going to sell a lot of devices.

I rather have T-Mobile show me what Android can do for me.  We know Samsung has already taken to doing commercials that try to connect users to their devices.  I think that works better.  But hey, if T-Mobile wanna push more Carly in leather at me, go for it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Did AT&T Force Microsoft To Bring LTE To Lumia 900 For US or For Themselves?

I was running a couple of errands and listening to a Windows Phone podcast.  It was a good podcast in general because the folks running it are very good and I like the information they provide. The kinds of folks you'd wanna have a beer with.

The podcast is from WP Central.  I recommend it if you're even remotely interested in keeping up with what Microsoft is offering on the mobile front.  Having said that, in one of the episodes, they commended AT&T for bring LTE to Windows Phone.  They liked that AT&T convinced Microsoft to make this happen.

Maybe they did but they certainly deserved no praise.  AT&T, even by the podcasters' own admission, never have subscribers' interest at heart.  They don't take in your or my interests when they make any decision whatsoever.

Windows Phone was AT&T's final and only chance to break away from the domination of the iPhone.  Plain and simple.  The Lumia 900, the latest and greatest of Windows Phone devices, was suppose to supplant the iPhone 4S as the flagship device.  And bring LTE over just isn't going to make that happen.

Apple should include LTE in the next iPhone 5-6 months from now and any advantage that AT&T was pushing for in Windows Phone would disappear by then.

If the podcasters want to give AT&T praise for bring LTE to Windows Phone, then they should also blame AT&T for the wireless data issues that Lumia 900 users are currently experimenting, no?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mobile Tip: Tricks To Read Behind Pay-Walls On WSJ, LA Times, And FT (Might Work With Others Too)

Note: This isn't really just a mobile tip because it also works on desktop browsers as well.

Paid walls are going up left and right.  It’s getting ugly out there.  Frankly, I don’t mind it so much because there is still a lot of content out there.  Having said that, it is irk-some when you click through and you cannot access the page without paying.  It’s free-enterprise.  We as mobile readers, or desktop ones, will just have to accept this.  However, it doesn’t totally mean that just because we’re not willing to pay for content, say on the WSJ or the LA Times, that we cannot access here.  Here are a couple of tips that might help.

Let’s go with the WSJ.  See the following pic?

Annoying but manageable.  Simply copy and paste the title of the article and search it in Google and you’ve got this.  The whole enchilada.  Awesome, isn’t it?  Don’t free too badly for News Corp.  Vast majority of their readership pays.  I’m sure like myself, you only read a couple of these articles a month. Hence, it doesn’t justify paying hundreds of an annual subscription.

And if the search option doesn't exactly work for some sites, here’s another option that may or may not work with some papers online.  It doesn’t work with the WSJ but it does with the LA Times.  Get an Instapaper account.  It’s free.  It’s an excellent service you want anyway.  What Instapaper does is allows you to bookmark the text of a post for reading later.  It’s got two tools that you’ll want in your browser bookmark.

One is “Reader Later” and “Instapaper Text”.

Simply go to the LA Times article you want and click on either.  As you can see here, the pay-wall does not even allow a preview of the post.

So be it.  Now go to your Instapaper options. “Reader Later” obviously saves the post for your reading later if you wanna read it at a coffee shop or hit “Instapaper Text” and you get taken to another page with mostly the text of the post, without the trimmings.  Let's say you hit "Instapaper Text", now, you can see the whole article and just the text too.  Even better.

Awesome, isn't it?

How about other pay-walls like the NY Times or Financial Times?  I haven’t hit any limits on the NY Times yet.  Ever.  However, FT isn’t playing ball. Sometimes, doing a search like we can do with WSJ works, Other times, it doesn’t.

Then there’s always the trick of trying to clear your browser data and hope that the paper you wanna read isn’t up-and-up on this trick and you can reload on the number of views allowable by the paper.  And if you really really want to know what’s going on, I’d go search the topic and find probably dozens of other links to other news sources that have not put up a pay-wall.

We are still far from the days when every bit on the Internet will be locked up to those of us unable or unwilling to pay for access.  Again, not saying pay-wall is bad.  I think it’s good if the site provides value beyond what they had previously offered for free.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Placeme App: Awesome Peak Into Mobile Tracking But Potentially Scary Too

I use Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and even a couple of check-in apps like Foursquare.  I'm wary about what the data I share are being used, especially Facebook.  Let's be honest, privacy is still a big deal to a vast major of us despite what Facebook's Zucky and Google's Creepster-In-Chief Schmidt say.  Now comes Placeme.

What is Placeme?  I've included a video, more than 30 minutes long, that is worth watching.  I REALLY REALLY REALLY think you should watch it.  It's an interview conducted by Robert Scoble with the creator of Placeme, Sam Liang, a former Googler.

What Placeme does is use the sensors on your mobile device to track you.  Scary yeah?  But there is a lot of potentially good use from the data that the app can collect and help the user.  It can use the ambient light, accelerator, Bluetooth, GPS, and other services on the phone to keep a log of your daily routine.  It will eventually know how you get to work, when you get to work, where you go next (like a supermarket, bar, gym).

In the video, the creator gave an example of how Placeme was able to track where he walked through Walmart on Black Friday.

Scary? Definitely but I can see a lot of potentially good uses for this.  There is a big debate raging no on Scoble's Google+ page.  I suggest you check out the video and maybe even the app and decide for yourself if this is for you.

eBooks: DOJ's Civil Suit Against Apple and Publishers Is About Collusion To Preserve Compeition

The United States Department of Justice

Does the end just the means?  That is the question in the anti-competitive suit brought on by the Department of Justice against Apple and two book publishers.  As far as I am concerned, that is the legal issue here.  Today, the DOJ sued Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin while Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster backed down and settled with the government.  At issue is whether the seemingly anti-competitive actions by Apple and the publishers to allow the publishers to impose their own prices on ebooks good for the consumer.

On face value, heck no.  However, that is only one part of the picture.  The rest is this big ebook player we all know as Amazon.  And before Apple came along and enter the ebook market when it started selling books in the iBookstore in in January of 2010, books were cheaper because Amazon was selling them at a loss.  However, it was an attempt by Amazon to amass a large market share.

What’s also interesting is that this is a civil case, not a criminal one.  Though no details of the settlements between the government and the three major publishers were unveiled, Macmillan’s CEO remains that they did nothing wrong and acted to make sure that Amazon did not recover its monopoly in the ebook market.

This is the possible that I think Apple took as well.  However, considering that Amazon is “forced” to make a profit on each ebook it sells, it has allowed Amazon to sell the Kindle ereaders at a thinner margin or, in the Fire tablet’s case, at a loss.

And it goes back to the issue of appearance.  The agency model, which allows the publishers to set their own prices, does in fact increase the price of ebooks but it also does seem to drive competition to a certain extent.  Getting rid of it does lower prices but allow Amazon to continue to sell ebooks at a loss in order to consolidate its market position.

Macillian’s CEO quoted this from the Author’s Guild, ““The irony of this bites hard: our government may be on the verge of killing real competition in order to save the appearance of competition. This would be tragic for all of us who value books and the culture they support”.

Other ebook sellers like Barnes and Noble, Google, and Sony have yet to weigh in.  It’ll be interesting to know where they stand in all of this.  And at the end of the case, should collusion be allowable in order to keep one company from gaining a monopolistic position in the market.

Source:  9to5Mac.

VZW Institute Upgrade Penalty, Time To Consider PrePaid

Verizon Wireless will  be instituting a $30 penalty if you want to sign up for a new phone.  Yup, they call it an upgrade fee.  I call it a “penalty”.  This is for obvious reasons.  And leigitimately, there is no reason for VZW or anyone else to charge us for this.  However, it is within their rights to do it.

Having said that, it is within our rights to take our business elsewhere.  That means once your contract is up, tell your carrier you don’t want to pay that fee.  Lie to them if you have to. Tell them that you’ve spoken to T-Mobile and they’re willing to waive that fee.  Maybe they will.  Maybe they won’t.  Honestly, I can tell you that I have never had to pay any such nonsense fees.

Even big bad AT&T caved when I told them we’ll take our family plans elsewhere.

And on top of that, there are now plenty of pre-paid options available to us.  It’s well worth it to explore that route.  Not only will you not have to deal with the Big Four, you may end up with a better deal.  Go to Walmart, Target, or Best Buy to look at those options.  With Walmart’s deal with T-Mobile and Straight Talk, you’re got GSM options now.  That means you’re not stuck with limited CDMA devices.

Dave the Mobile Sage has convinced many of us to go that route and I can’t be happier.

Say “no” to these penalties levied against hard working mobile warriors.  Seriously, give prepaid a look.  Currently, Straight Talk's unlimited everything at $45 is awesome.  Plus, if you don't walk much, Walmart's $30 plan with T-Mobile

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Is This The Rage This Week? Texts From Hilliary

Sometimes, it makes you wonder why certain thing gets on a roll and goes viral.  Apparently, "texts" from our Secretary of State, former US Senator from NY, and former Co-President, Hillary Clinton, is gaining steam.  Anyway, came across it from Google+.

Here's my favorite one so far.

Original image by Kevin Lamarque for Reuters.

More here at Texts From Hillary (TUMBLR).

Texting And Moving Is Always A Bad Idea: Here's Why

Here's a 20 second video why the texting should be separate from other forms of physical activities.  In this case, it's as simple as walking down the street.  You never know who or what you'll run into.  As in the case, texting while driving is also a pretty bad idea too.

I'm pretty sure the guy learned a really valuable lesson.

Facebook Bought Instagram To Build Community And Keep It From Google

I’m still trying to figure out why Facebook spent $1 billion on Instagram.  Obviously, they could have just put a team together to build an app or feature into its current Facebook with a bunch of filters, more than anyone else if they wanted to, and put it out there for users.  In speaking with Dave the Mobile Sage, we have come to the conclusion that Facebook wanted the Instagram community.


First, why $1 billion?  That’s a lot of dough even for today’s market.  However, Dave also pointed that in 2006, Facebook nearly took Yahoo’s $1 billion deal.  So today’s $1 billion for a growing and very cohesive photo-sharing community is not really that far of a stretch.  On top of that, there is speculation that there was a bidding war going on for Instagram and Google might have been involved.

Here’s why that’s so.  On Google+, I have included in my circles a lot of people.  Most of them I don’t know personally but boy, can they take pictures.  I spend a lot more time on G+ looking at pics than I do at the pics that my friends post on Facebook.  While I like my friends on Facebook, none of them are all that great at taking pics.

And on Facebook, I’m not likely to friend folks I don’t know at all even if I do come across someone who’s great at taking pictures.

The separation I’ve created for between the community and relationships has made my use of the two social networks very distinct.  Facebook likely recognize that and by adding Instagram, they hope to change that perception.  The question is whether it’ll work.

Facebook is generally for friends.  Google+ for geeks and some professionals.  LinkedIn for pros.  Perhaps, both Facebook and Google recognize the importance of the cool factor Instagram bought.  Only Facebook was willing to fork over more money to get it.

Oh, and let's not forget that Instagram is about mobile and there is a lot of data that does along with this deal as well. The question is whether Facebook, who isn't big on user privacy, will end up mucking up something great.

And to top it off, Android users just got the Instagram app last week.

What Would a 4" iPhone Look Like?

9to5Mac has a post with pics on what a 4" iPhone would look like.  This seems to be the ideal size that many mobile fans are looking for.  Personally, I would love to have a 4" iPhone.  My aging eyes would not only appreciate it but I reckon the additional real estate would allow for more interesting mobileness.

Don't get me wrong.  Even if Apple doesn't come out with a 4" Retina Display on the next iPhone, the one after that, or ever, I would still very content with the current 3.5" display on the iPhone 4 and the 4S.

The question is would Apple be increasing the resolution of this theoretical 4" display?  Perhaps in the beginning, we might not see this.  Apple could still retain the same 960 x640 resolution with lower DPI and still call it a Retina Display because Apple marketing will rationalize that since this iPhone has a larger screen, you'll be holding further away from you and you still would not be able to distinguish the pixels.

I recommending heading over there and check out their pics.  I swipe one as you can see just to wet your appetite.  There more pics and a whole post examining how Apple would go about making this happen.  There is one portion of their speculation that I disagree with.

Care to figure out which one?

Carriers Struggle To Regain Control Over Handset Makers, Starting with the Apple

The future of mobile is about control.  Even as Apple, Google, RIM, Microsoft, and a few others battle for control of the mobile hanset market, it’s only a smart part of the larger wireless domain in which there are dozens of other companies struggle for the upper hand.  We’re talking about control.  With the right control, the winners get to tell not only end-users what they have access to but has the ability to dictate to others how they can interact with the customers.

This is why this post from a Wall Street analyst skews the picture.  A revolt against the iPhone?  Not quite.  Rather it’s an attempt by carriers to wrestle control they previously had over the handset makers.  With the popularity of the iPhone and Android devices like the Galaxy, companies like Apple and Samsung can dictate terms to the carriers.

And this had been a big alignment in the balance of power in the wireless realm that had previously favored carriers.

I’m not advocating that one company win over another.  Too much influence concentrated in the hands of a few isn’t good for us mobile warriors.  However, historically, wireless providers have never been our friends.

So, at the moment, with a due respect to Wall Street analysts, they’ll have to excuse me as I continue to root for Apple, Google, Samsung rather than AT&T.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Non-Galaxy Android Devices Risk Being Irrelevant

LG. HTC.  Motorola. What does the three have in common with each other other than that they make mobile devices based on Google’s Android?

Well, apparently, they’re playing second fiddle to the Samsung Galaxy.  And in this case, branding is a major advantage for Samsung.  Over the weekend, I met up with a friend who had been an iOS fan and he got himself a Android device through Amazon.

Unsurprisingly, he took out of his pocket an Android device with an awesomely vivid screen which I right way recognize was the Sprint’s version of the Galaxy S II.  I still asked him why the Galaxy and not another Android.  It was simple.  He’s heard of the Galaxy but not the other brands.

I’ve long suggested that the other Android competitors need to not only fight mobile devices running on other platforms but those within their own ranks.  I know many had suggested that the Nexus brand from Google would be the one to beat but Samsung has shown that it can overcome that barrier. It has gained a reputation that rivals that of the iPhone.

We’ll see how Motorola answers the Galaxy once Google has competed digesting the merger.  It’s unlikely Google will fold Nexus into Motorola, at least, not right away.  I would like to see Motorola develop the RAZR even more.  And it may have an advantage in that it could manage to ship out updates faster than its competitors.

As for HTC, LG, and others like Sony, they’re gonna have to figure out other ways to overcome the Galaxy brand.  Viao phones,  anyone?

Drop Likely Increase Invite Allotment To 500MB Due To Competition

I got an exciting e-mail from Dropbox over the weekend.  In the past, Dropbox gives us 2 GB of free storage when you sign up for the free account access.  But you can increase that over time if you invite friends, families, acquaintances, or whoever else to sign up.  If they sign up, you get additional storage.

The idea is that Dropbox hopes to convert you or someone else you invited into a paying customer.  So far, I think they're doing pretty well.  There was rumors that Apple considered buying Dropbox.  Now, iOS and Mac users have the iCloud.  Meanwhile, Google should be coming out with its down Dropbox competitor in the next quarter.

So, it's likely due to competition from these tech giants and other cloud storage players that Dropbox increased the invitation allotment from 250 MB to 500 MB.  This is fantastic news.  I was able to create dummy accounts to increase my space in the last (I also use those accounts for photos). What's also pretty cool is that space increases prior to this 500 MB offer will also be getting additional space.

Dropbox has become an indispensable part of my workflow.  I can store files on my Mac and access them at work.  Or I can use a number of iOS and Android apps that have native support for Dropbox.

This is just the beginning.  We are in the infancy of cloud storage.  This is nothing to cloud storage 2.0.  Seriously, 2GB is nothing today.  I can see Dropbox increase the free storage to 10, 20, or even 50 GB.  And for some folks, that still won't be enough because of the coming media storage capability.  Consider what Apple with its iTunes Match and Amazon and Google are offering in music.  We are seriously a skip away from even video storage.

And in today's HD world, 10 or 20 GB simply won't be enough.

Anyway, I encourage you to take advantage of this Dropbox offer.  We have a family account and it helps a lot when we sharing pics and videos.  So invite your friends, families, and people you like or dislike because this is a great deal.

And the best ones are free which this one is.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dismal LTE Battery Erode the Mobile Experience

The uptake of LTE devices, all of them Androids as far as the market is concerned, is fantastic news for carriers and handset makers.  It allows them to charge a premium, as much as $100.  However, it doesn’t come without a price.  Not talking about the $100 premium.  I’m talking about the willingness by all concerned to accept dismal battery lives.

Seidio Samsung Galaxy Nexus SURFACE Extended Combo (2100mAh) : Samsung Galaxy Nexus Extended Battery & Door Bundle

Think about it.  Today’s mobile devices are not anything remotely like yesterday’s smartphones.  To call today’s devices “smartphones” really shortchanges how much more today’s devices can do and how enriching the experiences are for the typical mobile users.  And as with any mobile experience, the battery is, in my opinion, 90% of what devices are about.  Without the battery keeping up with the mobile needs, what good are quad-cores, 16MP camers, 720p resolution screens, or even LTE speed wireless connection?

Unfortunately, we are too willing to accept the fact that earlier LTE adopters have to expect short battery life.  However, that is not necessarily true.  The Motorola RAZR Maxx that has managed to provide much better user experience over other LTE devices including Google’s flagship Galaxy Nexus.

What’s more, more and more devices have adopted Apple’s principle of a built-in battery. That means you’re stuck with whatever size battery the designers want us to have.  And that translates to less than fulfilling mobile experience.

Now, I get that during reviews, the reviewers like to parse the difference between light, moderate, and heavy uses.  Today, there are no light users.  I am sure there are moderate users but the vast major of us are moderate to heavy users.  At the very least, the mobile industry has to design devices for today’s moderate users while knowing that today’s heavy users are tomorrow’s moderate users.

I reckon we are still five years away from having devices that can truly withstand a full day’s use.  And it will become more and more difficult for device makers to keep up the pace of battery advances along with app innovations and the ever evolving mobile society.

I’m not saying this is easy but the compromises that users are willing to make and bloggers making excuses for the dismal battery life will only prolong the rich mobile experiences we all deserve.

Apple: Macs Infected By Malware, Time For Apple To Educate Users More Seriously

First let me see I’m an Apple fan.  I would not go to the point of labeling myself a fanboy because I don’t get everything that is Apple. I like to have a good balance of Apple branded and non-Apple branded tech.  Over all, I’m just a mobile fan.  So, I say this next thing because it needs to be said.

Apple, you have to do more about security for the Mac.  Lately, there have been rumors cropping up about Trojan horses that have infected at least half a million Macs (luckily, my Macs are fine, as are my PCs).  In the past, I would have dismissed such talks as fear mongering by anti-virus app sellers that want to expand their reach into the Mac market.  For the most part, it’s the PCs that needed protection in the past and Mac users have largely require very little protection from viruses and other malware.

That was in the past.  Today, Macs are flourishing in the PC market and it’s a larger and more tempting target for hackers.

In the most recent incident, more than half a million Macs are rumored to be infected by a rojan called Flashback.  According to a Russian virus maker (yeah, yeah, I know…), even Macs on Apple’s campus were compromised. Apple has released a Java update but has yet to say a word about it.

Perhaps, Apple will eventually find a way for sandboxing like they do with the iPhones and iPads that will negate or roll back the need for malware protection.  Until that day comes, which could be as soon as the latest OS X Mountain Lion is released this summer, it’s prudent for Apple to be more active in protecting users.  It could be more frequent updates like they just did with Java, app updates like Safari, or  

Still, I do hope that Apple become more vocal about the seriousness of Internet security and educate its users about it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Apple Using T-Mobile USA As Example To Carriers That Won’t Deal?

T-Mobile still doesn’t have the iPhone even as Apple adds 5 regional carriers that will start providing Apple’s iconic mobile device to their subscribers.  I know that the reason has more to do with the technical GSM deployment rather than Apple simply unwilling to make this happen.  Or maybe T-Mobile simply did not give Apple enough financial incentive to make iPhones that will take advantage of T-Mobile’s 3G network.  For speculation sake, let’s suppose there is another reason why Apple has yet to make the iPhone available on T-Mobile’s network.

Apple wants to show carriers what happens when they don’t deal with Apple on its terms when it comes to the iPhone.

More at On Apple.

Android Verus iOS: Even Regular Mobile Warriors Fight The War

I'm from UCLA and I hate USC.  With a passion.  I dislike everything about them.  Particularly how they cheat in sports.  And we are a better school.  Obviously, this is the duty of every Bruin just as it is the duty of every Trojan to show disdain for all that is Westwood.  At the end of the day, we're all Americans and it's mostly in good fun.

I have seen this behavior with fanboys from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and RIM.  This is particularly true when it comes to the blogging community.  Some of it are in good fun but mostly, it's not.  It reminds me very much of the GOP versus Democrats.  However, I did not expect this bantering to extend to regular mobile warriors.

And this is especially evident in the harsh treatment of iOS users against Android users over the Instagram app. Seriously, some of the comments are just down right nasty (and funny).

I'll leave to them to you over at Cult of Mac and Phandroid.

It's just so interesting that regular users who I never suspected would care about the mobile war seems to regularly fight it out on social media and just about everywhere else as well.

How Many High School Students Have iPhones?

Source:  iMore.

Apparently, a hair-cut more than a third of US high school students have the iPhones.  That's an astonishing high number.  Apple only recently reached 30% of installed base in the US after the release of the iPhone 4S.
There are a couple of comments worth mention.

Could something be wrong with this?  Here's why I believe so.  iPhones are pretty expensive and so are the plans.  I can't do the 200 MB of data per month.  I don't know how these kids are doing it.  If this is true, they've learned a great deal about self-control.

Now, if the information is correct, I reckon it's the apps that are attractive to the students.  After all, app discovery is a pretty important part and so far, Apple does have an advantage here over competing platforms.  Google Play just came out but when it comes to discovering social apps or ones they can use for schools, the students could have a better time finding what they need.

Then there's the issue of peer pressure.  My high school wasn't big on $200 Nike shoes but there were kids that wore them.  But as I understand it, having an iOS device is a status thing in China.  Maybe it's a bit of a stretch but the clique-ish teenage environment like a high school do mean that this sort of conformity.  After all, if high school when we explore who we are and experiment with life, frankly, Android devices are much more friendly for customization than any other platforms.

Last, maybe there is also the element of students using their iPhones to aid in their studies.  I know I use it for studying even now and had I had an iPhone in high school, I'd use it to do everything I can (short of cheating) to put myself ahead in the competitive world of applying for college.

Still, the fact that 34% of high school students is a surprising high number.  I'm sure the free 3GS model and the $99 iPhone 4 helps a lot.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Freaky New Video: Love Molly

I really should not have watched this trailer.  It's from "Lovely Molly" from the folks who gave us the Blair Witch Project.  Granted I saw this in the light of day but I have been jogging at night through an area where it's not particularly well lit.

And it's hilly so if I run out of breath and try to run away from something, not gonna make (shaking my head).  Anyway, I guess there'll be no jogging tonight.

So, I want to now sharing this lovely scary clip with you.

I like how in the video they tagged it as "a new vision of evil". While I am on this subject, I wonder what kind of mind, what does it take, would one need to think up of these things to scare people.

Source: Blastr.

Wall Street: LTE on iPHone Enough To Propel Apple to Trillion Dollars

We previously discussed how Sprint would take us to an LTE world, virtually assuring that the next iPhone would have to have LTE and then we discussed how Apple would get there given that LTE chips are so power hungry.  What I did not anticipate was just how important LTE is until a bunch of Wall Street guys started pricing Apple at $1000 or so a share and calling it a trillion-dollar company.

Why?  LTE.

More at On Apple.

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...