Tag: smartphone

Verizon makes some bizarre broadband claims

Freud would have a field day with the chairman of the US telco Verizon.

Faced with figures which show the US was lagging behind in broadband, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg insisted that the nation was the number one in the world. It was not to do with speed, he claimed, it was all to do with penetration.

What? The fact that Hong Kong residents can now get 1Gbps symmetric fibre for US$26, while New York City residents top out at 100Mbps and cost $100? Capping 3Mbps – no the US is still number one.

Seinberg insists that it is nothing to do with ridiculous things like speed. Instead we should be looking at broadband penetration. In that, says Seidenberg, the US is beating the pants off everyone else.

Ah right. This is a normal US thing they do. They can’t play a game, like rugby or football, so they re-write the rules so no one else can play and then they say they are the world’s best.

This would mean that in the days of dial-up the world was a better place we guess. The fact that the people of Korea or  France, seem to be doing more with their faster Internet connections has nothing to do with it.

Seidenberg said that the US service is better than Japan because while they have faster speeds there are more Americans using the Internet.

While everybody says the European system is better, the average American uses their phone four times more.

Isn’t that because Europeans often have more than one phone? Seindenberg claims that people have more than one phone because global roaming charges are so high, so that solves that question.

He also adds that Europeans are envious of the advancements of smartphone technology in the US.

However it looks like Seindenberg is not only a bit dubious about the logic of his facts, he er, appears to have made them up.

Ars Technica dug through the OECD’s most recent broadband dataset, from the second quarter of 2009, and looked at penetration rates in Europe.

The US was getting beaten by most European countries, and in Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark it is getting its bottom kicked.

In terms of raw numbers, the US has the most broadband subscribers due to its size, but when it comes to penetration rate, it was even beaten by Canada

Gartner also released figures about broadband penetration last year and it ranked the US at 14th place a long way behind South Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, and other European countries.

Verizon likes to point out it has laid a lot of fibre in comparison to the all of Western Europe. However most Americans can’t actually get it.

In short it is a classic case of US banging on about how brilliant it is without much evidence. It is probably an insecurity based on the fact that it does not have a royal family, history, was founded by terrorists and the dross kicked out of every country that had all of these things.

Microsoft to bring Natal to PCs, smartphones

Project Natal won’t just be coming to an Xbox near you sometime soon, it will also be coming to your PC, a high ranking Microsoft exec confided to TechEye.

At an exclusive Microsoft event, the exec said Natal would also eventually make its way into mobile phones, but that that was probably a little further down the line, and that Microsoft was currently focusing on bringing the optical sensor technology to ye old PC.

The tech enables users to use their machines without needing to touch a game controller, through a natural user interface using gestures, speech, or presented objects and images.

“It will completely revolutionise the way people interface with their machines,” he told us, waving his hands in a rather good mimic of the film Minority Report. “Mouse, keyboard, really it will all become somewhat redundant,” he continued excitedly.

Realistically, we won’t be seeing PCs enabled with Natal before the end of the year, but the console version, due out is scheduled to be released in time for Christmas 2010.

Facebook, Twitter make life easy for burglars

Facebook and Twitter are gearing up to reveal your exact locations at all times, such as when you’re out of the house leaving your possessions unguarded.

The new features on both sites will allow you to share your location with your friends at any time by working out your location from your updates from your smartphone.

Facebook status geolocation is due to be announced at the F8 developer conference in April, according to The New York Times.

Twitter is expected to roll out its feature even sooner than that with an expected date of ‘any day now’. The site already lets people reveal their geo-location info through third party clients, but the new feature would be directly from the site itself.

Both Facebook and Twitter are pushing their geo-location features as it gives users relevant localised news and advertising and it helps find friends around them. But to us it sounds like another Privacy nightmare, on a Google Buzz level.

There are over 400 million Facebook users, and it is estimated that around 100 million of them update their status regularly from mobile devices.

Last month,  Twitter Users and security folk were falling over themselves to condemn Please Rob Me.com which provides real-time updates on empty homes locations. Although the site was meant as a warning to people who were being too open with their locations, critics felt it was a ‘one stop shop’ for burglars.

“As with all cool new technologies, [these new features] need to be handled with care,” said Carole Theriault, a Sophos Security Consultant. “There are some great strengths to geolocation, but there are also some concerns about who will actually see it. Do you really want others to know where you are at any given time?

“Given that Facebook and Twitter have been victims of a number of social networking attacks in the last 12-18 months, it does make one raise a security eyebrow.
 
“Some people do have a tendency to sign up to all technology simply because it is all shiny and new. I would urge people to think long and hard about the impact of this technology on their daily lives and weigh the pros and cons rather than blindly sign up for it.”

Nokia falls behind

Beancounter at Ovum have warned Nokia that its smart-phone technology is simply not up to scratch.

In a report, Ovum said that smartphone manufacturers were bringin in more powerful hardware capable of handling advanced graphics and video processing.

Everyone+dog was moving away from ARM11-based processors to ARM Cortex A8 and Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets.  Well other than Nokia.

The report said that Nokia’s flagship hardware is underpowered and needs a little more grunt if the outfit is going to compete.

Only its niche N900 handset has the next-generation chipset but the N97 and N97 mini run on ARM11 at below 500MHz.

To make matters worse it has less memory than a two day old baby which has been binge drinking since its first birthday. Most run  128MB of RAM, dispite the fact that other platforms run more than double that.

The current market high-end is a Snapdragon chipset at 1GHz, with 448MB of RAM and other manufacturers are queuing up to announce handsets with equivalent specifications. 

Ovum points out that Nokia has been quiet and there is little to think that there will be any improvements in the short term.

Nokia’s screen resolution is also pants.  Out of 20 handsets with highest screen resolution, Nokia has just one – again, the N900. 

Its touchscreen handsets use resistive screens rather than the capacitive type favored by most consumers.  It is the only major manufacturer still producing multiple smartphones in the candy bar/numeric keypad form factor. 

Samsung shows off new phone OS

Samsung has lifted the kimono on its new mobile phone platform which it hopes will set itself up as a big player in the smartphone market.

It has been showing of its Samsung ‘Wave’ smartphone during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Samsung is the number two mobile phone vendor behind Nokia. It has just staged an elaborate pre-MWC event to showcase its new Bada based phone – the Wave.

The device is the first to be based on Samsung’s Bada platform, which it is lining up to compete with Google’s Android, Apple’s iPhone, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and RIM’s BlackBerry platforms.

Bada is an open platform, but it will probably need a little bit more than that if it hopes to compete with other smart phone makers. At the moment it is starting to look like there is a shortage of developers who will write code for the new machines. Andriod and the iPhone are getting all the attention.

Samsung was seeking to reduce its reliance on the embattled Windows Mobile platform, which is expected to get a major refresh this week. Bada also enabled Samsung to gain complete control of its handsets’ hardware and software.

Wave uses a new touchscreen technology called Super AMOLED, which Samsung says allows for bright colours and a thinner device.

HTC buys back shares to "maintain its credibility"

Taiwanese smartphone firm HTC – chairwoman Cher Wang – is to spend $1.8 billion to buy back shares because it wants to maintain the company’s credibility.

The company issued a statement on the Taiex bourse after its shares slumped by 19 percent since the beginning of 2010, according to the Taipei Times.

HTC specialises in making phones that use the Android OS or Microsoft Windows Mobile OSes.

Cher Wang, who is also the chairwoman of X86 chip manufacturer Via and married to its CEO, Wen Chi Chen, is one of the richest people in the world, according to Forbes. She is a daughter of YC Wang. He died a while ago but headed up Formosa Plastics.

According to the Taipei Times, between December 2006 and October 2009, HTC has bought back 20.71 million shares on the open market.

The newspaper, quoting Chinese language paper the Economic Daily News, also said that HTC was going to slash prices by 40 percent on phones sold in China, Singapore, and Taiwan. HTC has denied that.

The Taipei Times is here.

Open source Symbian not enough

Reaction to the announcement that the Symbian OS is now Open Source code some four months before plan, has been mixed. Symbian is still seen as struggling against Android and the iPhone.

Under an Eclipse Public License (EPL) and other open licenses, all 108 packages which contain the OS source code can now be downloaded from Symbian’s developer web site here.

Also downloadable are the Symbian Developer Kit and the mobile devices development kit. These kits are compatible with the very latest version of the platform – Symbian^3.

Colly Myers – generally regarded as the father of Symbian – told Techeye: “Coming out four months early is commendable. They’ve done a good job.”

He added: “However, between 2002-2008 Symbian lost its way. It was driven too much by the handset vendors – particularly Nokia.

By introducing platform security, for example, Symbian made it even more difficult for developer’s to write apps. What’s the point of that?”

Myers felt that instead of expending its efforts on making the OS open source, the Foundation might have done better focusing on making apps easier to write.

Although Symbian’s CEO for four years, when Myers’ latest venture – 63336  – wrote its first app in many years, the company pointedly chose Java not Symbian for its handset client.

Industry watcher, Geoff Blaber from CCSInsight, took a very similar view. He believes that Symbian should have done a lot more to maintain developer interest.

Blaber argues that taking Symbian open source simply added to the complexities of the mammoth task of making the OS competitive.

Symbian was caught out by the handset industry’s transit to touchscreen UIs and the Foundation still has an uphill struggle to make legacy code designed for basic key input ‘touchfriendly.’

As TechEye has pointed out before here, Nokia is acutely aware that Symbian’s major disadvantage is its UI and has even put forward its proposals for a Symbian^4 UI before its own Symbian ^3 handsets have even been released.

SymbianNot everyone is negative about the availability announcement. IDC analyst, John Delaney, is quoted as saying: “It’s increasingly important for smartphone platforms to offer developers something unique. The placing into open source of the world’s most widely-used smartphone platform emphatically fits that bill.”

As one observer put it, though, releasing the code four months before promised still looks like too little too late. Symbian has let the mobile OS mantle slip to rivals such as the iPhone and Android.

Mobile handset markets rebound after the recession

IDC has published a report saying that we’re all buying mobile phones again as vendors started shipping more units towards the end of last year.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, 325.3 million units were shipped in the last three months of 2009, compared to 292.4 million units the same period in 2008.

Strategy Analytics, who also brought out a paper on global mobile handsets shipments today, had the numbers at a slightly smaller 324 million units last quarter, which, it said, represented a 10 per cent gain over the same quarter in 2008.

So either way you look at it good news for mobile makers. In the IDC poll Nokia, Samsung, and LG as the market leaders with Nokia maintaining a 38.7 percent market share, Samsung a 17.1 percent share, and LG with an 8.8 percent share. Poor Motorola and Sony Ericsson both lost market share over the last year.

“The mobile phone market has rebounded in dramatic fashion,” said senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Tracker, Kevin Restivo. “Overall, vendors offered a wide array of converged mobile devices (smartphones) and messaging devices in the seasonally strong fourth quarter, to take advantage of increased user demand.”

So it was all champagne and smartphones in theWestern Europe, APAC and US where sales were back on form, but not so in Latin America, where sales decreased.

However taking the overall view again, IDC reckons the worldwide mobile phone market will rebound from the bad recessionary times of 2009, in the coming year.

2009, it says, marked a contraction of the market due to the financial turmoil that affected the global economics (so basically the R word again), yet the demand for mobile phones has showed slight growth as the year advanced.

This year, as the global economy slowly gets to its feet and starts moving again, the handset market both in developed and emerging markets will improve also. After all, with more money, you get more spending and therefore more smartphones with touchscreens, messaging and converged services sold.

“One area of the market that has consistently shown growth all year is the converged mobile device market,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team.

“IDC believes that the converged mobile device market grew nearly 30 per cent year over year, and that the market will continue to gain momentum as device selection increases and price decreases continue into 2010 and beyond.”

Garmin-Asustek to show off Android smart phones

The alliance between Garmin and Asustek will be showing off the fruit of its labours at the  Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade fair.

Benson Lin, president of Asustek’s handheld device business unit said that the first thing made will be an Android-powered smartphone, followed by four or five new Windows Mobile or Android phones in 2010.

The products are expected to sell a million units, Lin added.

AndroidIn addition to the Android handset, Asustek will also show off its new Windows Mobile 6.5.3-based smartphone, the M10. The M10 is based on a Qualcomm 7224 600MHz processor and equipped with a 3.5-inch WVGA resistive touch panel and a 5-megapixel camera plus GPS functionality.

The M10 will hit the shops in early February with a suggested retail price of $434.4.

The glorious alliance is flat out designing shiny objects for the Chinese market.  It plans its first TD-SCDMA handset for the China market by the end of the year.