Motorola set for Linux smartphone barage in 2005
The Linux Smartphone is, by the look of it, about to happen in a large way - Motorola have just announced thier intention to put out 8-10 linux Smartphones this year - although no linux based phones are available in the US right now, it's sure to follow as the light slowly dawns that linux = cheap and linux = good
According to the DigiTimes, Linux smartphones already account for more than 10 percent of Motorola's sales in China. China is the world's largest market for mobile phones, and Motorola is a top mobile phone vendor there.
Motorola Linux smartphones available in China today include the E680, A768i, and A780. Jim Ready, the CEO of MontaVista, which supplies the Linux-based OS used in smartphones from Motorola, NEC, and Panasonic, said in an interview in May, "[Motorola's] ability to pop out three phones based on the same OS is making people in the industry say 'Oh sh*t, how'd they do that?'"
Nice. Being a linux enthusiast it warms my cold black heart to think that by the time i get round to actually getting some kind of decent phone i might be able to get a decent OS on it heh..
I posted on embedding skype into mobile earlier today, now thanks to slashdot i find techworld have the scoop details released by BT on the fabled "bluephone" - BT's infamous WiFi roaming handset:
How does Bluephone work?
The original idea for Bluephone was to have a normal cellphone which can send calls via a special Bluetooth base station when inside the house or office. BT chose Bluetooth for the job, because it supports cordless telephony, is less power-hungry than Wi-Fi, and is almost universally available in mobile phones.
Bluephone is a consumer service, and BT intends to deliver it on absolutely standard cellphones.
However, since the project was announced, Wi-Fi has been moving fast, and BT can see which way the wind is blowing. "In 2006, when Wi-Fi makes its way into standard mid-range phones, we will have a Wi-Fi version," says Ryan Jarvis, director of mobile products and partnerships at BT. Future versions will use WiMax, he says.
But, even when the Wi-Fi version arrives, this will not be the converged Wi-Fi/cell phone that we have been waiting for, because it will not do voice over IP, and it will not be a SIP phone.
Bluephone calls use the GSM network. When they transfer a call to use the Bluetooth link, they just transfer the first few yards of that call. The call stays under the control of the GSM network. All indications are that it will still be priced as a mobile call: Jarvis would not be drawn on pricing, but offered the possibility of "a discount" for calls using Bluephone.
Handling several million queries a month for O2, T-Mobile and Orange, Motionbridge have now launched a PPC service.
As james at MoCoNews notes, there is no information available (that i can find) on how paid listing will be identified to users but it's certainly an interesting step regardless of a serious lack of details heh..
Added: Danny S reported on this today and he managed to find a press release i'd missed...
Calling Without Cellcos
Peggy Anne Salz write a compelling piece over at the Feature predicting embedded Skype and similar technologies in Mobile handsets this year - if it took off in a big way, it could kill the cellular carrier biz model:
With 52 million downloads and counting since its commercial launch in August 2004, Skype has clearly fuelled consumers' passion for free voice calls over the Internet. Estimated to carry 25% of annual VoIP traffic (as counted by TeleGeography), or the equivalent of 4% of total international traffic worldwide, the impact of Skype and other VOIP applications could put a serious dent in mobile operators' revenues.
The scenario for the mobile industry turns from bad to worse when Skype is embedded in a 3G phone or Wi-Fi-enabled device, and falling data prices offer users a much cheaper alternative to cellular voice. Indeed, one eager Taiwanese handset manufacturer recently wrote an open letter to Skype asking for the privilege to be the first to embed the technology in its 3G phones, leading many to believe such handsets will appear this year.
RFID Cell Phones? Maybe In 2007
Here's what vangorilla has been talking about so much in the TW mobile section
The Ministry of Information and Communication of Korea is exploring new business models combining mobile infrastructure and RFID. Their goal is to push the mobile RFID to commercial service in 2007.
Once RFID receivers are built into cell phones the possibilities are endless. For instance; buy a product off the supermarket shelf, the RFID tag will identify itself, and your phone can download the recipes associated with the product. It is a great technology; the only thing that worries me is the human branding implications. Remember 1984?
A Shot of Intense Entertainment
Fox are to put out their next 2 shows via mobile - not repurposed for mobile, but, for the first time, a major Hollywood studio will develop dedicated content for 3G
Verizon will launch its VCast service early next week and is desperate for original content. The two series, Love and Hate and The Sunset Hotel, will consist of 26 one-minute episodes distributed via the VCast service, a new premium-content and video-on-demand platform that will cost Verizon subscribers $15 a month on top of their regular phone bills. It's the first time a major Hollywood entertainment company has committed resources to mobile-phone shows; until now most content available on phones -- such as sports clips or CNN broadcasts -- has been repurposed from broadcast television.
I rather liked 24 so were i a verizon subscriber i might be tempted to shell out $15 a month BUT - with those titles i fear the worst....
What A Single Chip Phone MeansEmail This Entry
Dana Blankenhorn's been talking about the single chip mobile for a little while. Now it turns out that Texas Instruments and Nokia are to build phones based on TI's new single chip cellular solution.
Apart from being damn cheap - and being able, as a result to market to high growth markets like india and china there are other interesting things about single chip cellular:
But there's something else involved here. When cellular telephony is reduced to a simple chip, it can become an ingredient in anything else.
For instance. Let's say you have a golf course. You use a lot of water, but you waste a lot, too. Now, throw some moisture sensors out there and link them via one-chip cellular. The bandwidth needs are modest -- the sensor says "water me" or "turn off the water" as needed. Your hardware costs just dropped to the floor, and the system probably pays for itself on just a few months' water bills.
Anything that needs to be monitored, over a long distance, can now be monitored, and results transmitted, over a cellular link, because remember (in most cities) cellular is ubiquitous.
Imagine what this can do for farmers? They can monitor conditions in their fields in real-time, addressing concerns immediately.
Interesting stuff - can i have a cell phone in my mp3 sunglasses please?
Ask jeeves are to join Yahoo! and Google in providing a mobile search solution sometime in 2005 - Daniel Read, Ask's VP of prd mgmt said:
"In search today you have to offer several access points to provide a good search service for consumers, so we believe we have to be there in wireless search, and we'll be coming out with a mobile product this year,
and that he still believes mobile search to be in it's infancy and thus an open field:
"A lot of search players have put traditional Web search on to wireless devices, but most of the Web pages you want to go to aren't rendered properly on a wireless device screen. So we're looking at rolling out specific search services for the wireless device," he said. For example, likely information Ask Jeeves could make available from its search arsenal to wireless devices includes local business listings and maps
see the full article threadlinked above for a bit more...
A Media Center in Your Pocket
In light of BusinessWeek publishing the article threadlinked above i thought it might be a good opportunity to bring together a few pieces that have been sitting im my FireFox bookmarks.
The BW article talks about the inevitable evolution of the humble(ish) mobile to full Media Center capability and status:
That little cell phone is about to become a viable alternative to some of those other gadgets. This year, the U.S. will see a flood of phones with music, gaming, and video capabilities usually found only in stand-alone electronics devices. For the first time, camera phones' resolution and zoom will become as good as that of low-end digital cameras. And today's sprinkle of phones that double as MP3 players will turn into a flood. The world's largest cell-phone maker, Nokia (NOK ), will double the number of handsets with MP3 capabilities in 2005. Of the 40 phones the company will introduce this year, 50% will feature built-in MP3 players.
This isnt a prediction, it's just the way things are headed.
What about iPod?
The biggest casualty of this could be the iPod and it's little brother the iPod Shuffle, in Dec Engadget proclaimed, along with countless others proclaimed 2005 to be the year of the MP3 Phone. This from Scott Moritz at TheStreet:
The Mobile Dilemma
In December we talked about Targeting Small Screens and took a look at Douglas Bowmans ecellent essay on The Status Quo of Mobile Browsers. As a follow up to that, those interested in targeting mobile should take a look at this post by Steven from a browser vendors perspective. Sorry, i couldn't find any details on him but have asked in the comments on the post.
Among other things he lists some of the common problems associated with web content on mobiles:
There are, however, some problems that plague us, and probably all of our competitors:
bandwidth is awful - even on so-called 3G networks, the browsing experience is reminiscent of dial-up.
screen is small - 480x640 pixel VGA screens are on the horizon, but currently the high-end is 240x320 pixel QVGA screens.
screen orientation is “wrong” - most cell phones and PDAs have “portrait” screens that are taller than they are wide, while most desktop computers have “landscape” screens.
poor user input devices
low power CPU, too little RAM
legacy WAP sites
And a small ray of hope for the future:
The small screen is a huge problem for everybody, and nobody really has a solution that is enviable. This means that we generally don’t have space for sidebars and wide navigation bars, which happen to be two web design mainstays. The “wrong” orientation makes the problem even worse. However, there is hope on this front. As VGA screens become mainstream over the next few years, a rotated display will have 640px across, which should be within reason for web developers to just adapt their desktop-oriented design rather than throw everything away.
Mobile Web Development, Kissing Cousins
Threadwatch member Earle Flynn has some thought inspiring commentary on the possible future of apps for mobile:
Another issue is that web developers have not yet conceptualized this new 2 inch mobile Internet. Previously web developers had 17 inches of screen. Any web dev tricks they knew before are now gone. To get web developers thinking of this new small interface I propose a Mobile Web Development KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Mobile KISS would be to think of mobile Internet applications in terms of yes and no, on and off, up and down, left and right, buy and sell, add funds and withdraw funds, and send and receive.
There's a lot in the post so do follow the threadlink above - He also talks about the mobile being keyboardless and the agony of text input on a mobile phone - Im sure this can be overcome and disagree to a small extent with Earle's assumption that yes/no questions and similar on/off switches are the best way to go - well, okay: They are for now.. but im sure we will see usable interfaces for mobile based on standard keyboards before too long.
One idea that struck me was to have a fold away, thin keypad that could just be flipped out of the phone and laid on a flat surface - does that sound stupid? :)
Earle talks about the phone as a destination, and Russell B mentions that here:
Mobile phones still need that killer app which takes out the need for context. They need to get to the point where they are less devices that you use while out and about, and considered more destinations in their own right. In other words, the current crop of apps are mostly created with that "mobile context" in mind. So you could say I haven't looked at my phone lately because I haven't been moving much. This is wrong. It's limiting a platform which can potentially do anything that a small computer with broadband access can do. The person who comes up with the app that compels a person to use their phone without considering the fact that it's a phone is going to have a killer app on their hand. One could argue the opposite, that mobile phone apps *should* only be used in the mobile context, but I think that's too narrow minded.
Hyperlinking the World
There's a facinating interview with Hartmut Neven, the head of the Laboratory for Human-Machine Interfaces at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute who is working on a system involving bringing biometrics to the mobile landscape and hyperlinking the world. The interview, threadlinked above is a killer friday (er.. my wife tells me it's only thursday!) read, here's a few snippets:
On explaining "visual Google":
You take a picture of something, send it to our servers, and we either provide you with more information or link you to the place that will. Let's say you're standing in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. You take a snapshot with your cameraphone and instantly receive an audio-visual narrative about the painting. Then you step out of the Louvre and see a cafe. Should you go in? Take a shot from the other side of the street and a restaurant guide will appear on your phone. You sit down inside, but perhaps your French is a little rusty. You take a picture of the menu and a dictionary comes up to translate. There is a huge variety of people in these kinds of situations, from stamp collectors, to people who want to check their skin melanoma, to police officers who need to identify the person in front of them.
and on seeding such a database project:
The key is to start with well-defined segments where the cost and effort of building the database is not that large. A nice rollout example would be a movie guide. If you see a billboard of a movie on a bus, you take a shot of it and then are routed to a relevant site where you can download a trailer or get show times. All we would need are images of a couple hundred billboards. The same is true with the Louvre example, where a collection of images already exists. With our technology, it doesn't take an expert to train the system to recognize an object.
MM02 changes name and buys back shares
mmO2 is looking to buy out thousands of small shareholders. Staying in touch with so many shareholders is too costly, the cellco says.
Following its spin-off from BT in November 2001, mmO2 has more than a million shareholders who own fewer that 600 shares each. While these 1.04m investors represent 63 per cent of the company's total number of shareholders, they only account for 3.5 per cent of the company.
"The cost of servicing such a large number of shareholders is significant. In many cases it is likely to cost O2 more to send dividend cheques to its small shareholders than the amount of the dividend they are receiving," said mmO2 in a statement today.
In the shake-up, mmO2 is to be acquired by a new company, O2 plc. Shareholders can either opt to exchange their mmO2 shares for O2 plc shares or cash in their small share in the company.
If all goes to plan, shares in mmO2 will cease to be traded on the London Stock Exchange on 11 March and begin trading as O2 plc on 14 March
Busythumbs Opens Community Forum
The boys at BusyThumbs.com have been busy, not only have the launched a moblogging blog recently but yesterday launched a full on forum for mobile discussion - including a whole bunch of categories for mobile hardware support, moblogging questions and general discussion of mobile.
If you're into that stuff, it's a neat site and well looked after by it's small team of admins - i'm helping them a little bit with their community efforts so if you moblog, or wanna talk mobile tech, you'll find me over at the forum hanging out with the devs :-)
How does MS leapfrog Google and dominate search and Phase 2?
Bill Gates had the vision to see every PC would need an operating system and elected to get a piece of every pc sold w/ DOS/windows. Let the Hardware guys decide what else to put on the pc and how to market it. Find out how Microsoft could beat Google by following the title link for the full post.
The future of web technologies in the mobile revolution First of all, I want
Pay attention at the back! If you aren't reading all you can on mobile, at some point in the next couple of years you're going to be seriously on the back foot with this stuff - Anita Wilhelm at MG says it's ok, that our skills will be in high demand, but bugger that, i dont want to do the W word for someone else, i want to build neat applications for phones...
If I were a web dev, I wouldn't worry too much about being out of work. In the next few years there is going to be so much going on to make all the different platforms talk, sync, and share data... (and who knows how that will happen)... that your skills will probably be in higher demand than ever. This revolution is not going to do away with web technologies. It's just going to change how they work. It's going to change what they are used for, and who is using them... meaning more work for you to do.
Revolution and change doesn't mean destruction of something old. It usually just means reshifting it, refurbishing, rebuilding... and making it more appropriate.
Im still trying to work out the essential skill set for mobile, any thoughts?
What it really means to design for mobile
MobileGirl, in the threadlink above has some very good, if rather broad points about designing applications for mobile and why thinking along those lines is crucial at this time:
as I learn more, get deeper into the interaction of the phones, and understand more about how these devices are changing our everyday habits, I am beginning to see that it's not even about making a compliment. It's about making a "mobile system", a "mobile interaction", a "mobile application". It's not about extending the desktop. It's not about interacting with the desktop. It's about making the mobile device a central unit and it's about placing a focus on the whole system... the phone and the desktop (maybe even the TV and radio). It's about figuring out when to push, when to pull, when to alert, notify, sync, and require confirmation. It's mostly about throwing out many of the interaction principles we've learned about and creating ones that make sense for that time and space. It's about giving the user the easiest way to access what they are looking for at any time and making it feel like they are in the application... not on one specific device!
Doesn't she write nicely? heh..
Good stuff, the thing that worries me most about the oncoming mobile shift is that right now, it's about applications - and i didnt even get profficient at Python let alone J2ME hehe...
What i'd like to know is just how much opportunity is there for web devs to get in on this without having to program applications, ie. to continue to build websites and market to a mobile audience....?
Verisign to buy LightSurf, a camera phone software company
Acquisition Will Add Picture Messaging Suite and Enhanced Multimedia Messaging Capabilities to VeriSign’s Digital Content Services
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — January 10, 2005 — VeriSign, Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSN), the leading provider of intelligent infrastructure services for the Internet and telecommunications networks, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Santa Cruz, California-based LightSurf for $270 million in VeriSign stock.
LightSurf is a global leader in multimedia messaging and interoperability solutions for the wireless market. The company’s industry-leading technology platform enables mobile subscribers to exchange pictures, video, and other forms of multimedia content.
I can see where Verisign is headed with this. Verisign will also provide the registry for domains for RFID tags. Think of the possibilities.. Mobile marketing getting interesting.
Satellite-based mobile television goes live
I vaguely recall reading some argument that satellite broadcast to mobile was not a viable option but for the life of me cant remember where, what or why - these guys seem to be doing it though...
TU Media Corp. will start trial operations of satellite-based mobile television today and attempt to realize the futuristic notion of watching television on mobile phones while traveling in cars or commuter trains.
The company, which hopes to begin commercial services on May 1, will provide three video and six radio channels during the trial period, featuring programs from leading cable television stations such as news network YTN and music channel m-Net.
Customers of SK Telecom Co., the country's largest mobile operator, can access the television services after purchasing Samsung Electronics Co.'s new SCH-B100 mobile phone that features a 2.2-inch liquid-crystal display and a battery capable of providing more than two hours of viewing time. The model is priced at 1 million won.