February 10, 2009

Venture Beat is reporting that Apple asked Google nicely not to implement the multi-touch technology that makes the iPhone and iPod touch easy to use.  Google complied (was this just Eric Schmidt talking to himslef?).  The G1 doesn’t have multi-touch although third parties have implemented it (video below).  The Android developer who made the revelation to Venture Beat is glad Google didn’t so they don’t have to concern themselves with the legal posturing that is going on now between Apple and Palm over the Pre’s multi-touch usage.

Is this yet another smart move by Google?


February 6, 2009


We went on a Google News strike yesterday (every day more Apple-Google news!!) but this one is a bit too good to pass up.  Google Mobile Book search is now available for iPhone (and Android).  We’ll let Google go from here:

Over 1.5 million public domain books in the US (and over half a million outside the US) are now available for perusing on iPhone and Android devices. Just go to books.google.com/m in your mobile browser. You can search for a title, author, or subject. Or you can browse the list of "Featured books" and various categories like business and economics, the classics, science and math, travel, and more. Once you’ve picked out a book or two, you can easily get back to your selections by clicking on the "Recently viewed books" under the "My books" section.

Read more about the launch and Optical Character Recognition from the Book Search team on the Inside Google Book Search blog.  We wish there was a place that covered all of this Google news…



The news these days seems to go back and forth.  Adobe says they are moving on Flash for the iPhone.  Meanwhile Apple’s Webkit team are working on ways around Flash using new CSS standards

Apple, of course, has been silent on the matter.  Last we heard, Steve Jobs said last year that Flash in its current form doesn’t run well on the iPhone hardware and Flash Lite wasn’t a compelling offer.  Adobe plans to have Flash running at full speed on newer ARM hardware in the second half of this year, about the same time everyone expects some new iPhone hardware to come out.  That means Android and Windows Mobile will probably support Flash.  Maybe Blackberry and Palm Pre too.  Can Apple afford to wait on the very new CSS/HTML standards to develop?  So, what do you think?  Will iPhone 3.0 allow Flash?




January 29, 2009

Prepare to avert your eyes.  Dell is planning on entering the Smartphone space with a little gem they might call the MePhone, according to SAI.  People they’ve chatted with (as well as the Wall Street Journal) say Dell has two models coming our way.  One running Android a la the G1.  The other running Windows Mobile.  How will Dell differentiate itself?  That remains to be seen.  They are entering a very crowded market currently dominated by RIM and Apple’s iPhone.

The move isn’t surprising as mobile phones are rapidly catching up with computers as the preferred way people access the Internet.  Dell, coming off a pretty bad quarter has to be gazing over at Apple’s earnings sheet with a bit of envy.  Dell’s been rumored to be working on a mobile phone since the iPhone was announced.

According to SAI, we aren’t going to be graced by these beauties until September 9th but Shaw Wu (our fav Mac Analyst) told the Wall St. Journal that they might be coming (or announcing) as early as 3GSM in Barcelona next month. 

This wouldn’t be Dell’s first forray into the wireles space.  Dell has also been moseying up the the telecoms carriers lately striking deals to sell their Mini 9 w/3G with two year plans in Europe

January 25, 2009

You know that Bluetooth chip in the iPhone is capable of doing wonderous things, right?  It is able to do A2DP stereo wireless and EDR Bluetooth file transfers.  For some reason (battery?) Apple has decided to leave these features out of the software. 

Never fear, MeDevil has found a way around Apple software limitations and is building a hack that will allow file transfers called iBluetooth.  It will be in your Cydia iSpazio repository "soon".

As with all hacked applications, we urge caution when installing, you don’t want something like "this" to happen.  (This = Android app that erases memory and installs spyware.)

Frankly, we’d more like to see Stereo Bluetooth but we’ll take what we can get.  (via Giz)


October 13, 2008

Microsoft has a secret weapon to take on Apple in the smartphone sector – buy someone who already does, and it appears BlackBerry manufacturer, Research In Motion (RIM), is in Ballmer’s sights.

Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek points out that RIM shares are in decline and warns that Microsoft appears to have a "standing offer to buy them at $50 a share," he told Reuters.

Like Apple, RIM offers hardware, software and services and already plans to launch its own App Store. Microsoft is in a similar business, yet its Windows Mobile software, while widely used isn’t particularly liked by handset owners.

With Apple and RIM clearly involved in a two face confrontation, the analyst’s speculation suggests Microsoft could buy its way into direct competition with Apple in the smartphone market, assuming such a deal goes ahead.

However, D:All Things Daily observes such a merger could fall foul of competition authorities. "Leaving aside for a moment the fact that Microsoft already has a mobile OS in Windows Mobile and the fact that RIM’s client architecture is, you know, based on Linux, wouldn’t a merger between two of the largest players in the smartphone market invite antitrust scrutiny?" writes John Paczkowski.

These rumours have been in circulation since August 2007, when CBC News indicated, “Microsoft has been mentioned as a possible buyer," Frederic Ruffy, an analyst at options education firm Optionetics said. "According to speculation, the software giant might be interested in RIM in response to Google’s recent announcement that it is interested in making its own mobile phone operating system, which would compete with Windows Mobile."

The G1 Google Android phone is claimed to have sold 1.5 million units so far.


October 2, 2008

 It really is only a question of time before your iPhone becomes an electronic wallet – after all, on Android, it’s already almost there.

We’ve mused on this before, but things have taken another step forward with news of Mitek’s Mobile Deposit (read, banking) application for the iPhone. 

In brief, what the ImageNet Mobile Deposit application for the iPhone does is quite interesting – while also being a simple concept..essentially, the software allows banks to accept paper check deposits from merchants and customers via camera-equipped mobile phones.

To make a deposit, the user initiates a mobile banking session, keys in the deposit amount, and snaps a photo of the front and back of the check. Mobile Deposit’s advanced image preprocessing ensures the check images meet Check 21 accepted image quality standards. Once the bank’s system receives the deposit, it sends the customer a confirmation text message. The entire transaction takes less than a minute.

The application is available to financial institutions or mobile banking software vendors looking to add Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) to their mobile banking platform. 

Now, we’d like to look at this the other way round. Apple CEO Steve Jobs touched on this briefly during his September ‘Let’s Rock’ keynote, when he mentioned the iTunes Store now has the banking details of 65 million users. Imagine if those 65 million users could pay and receive money using their iPhone and their iTunes account? 

Essentially you’d buy what you liked and charge the payment to your iTunes account, saving you the risk of carrying a credit card, and subject to dark shrouds of logarithm-jamming UK military-grade security,

Look – we’re not imagining the situation: Apple has patented the notion of using your iPhone as a device to access and purchase food in restaurants and more…

And there’s been a trial of mobile payment services in the US in which Procter & Gamble, The Clorox Co., Del Monte Corp. Kimberly-Clark, and General Mills Inc. have been testing just how well consumers get on when using their phones to hand over discount coupons while shopping.

As final proof that this theorem is taking a march toward prime time, consider this: Visa has already confirmed plans to develop a mobile payments-related services for Google’s Android platform. This will let users check their accounts, make payments, and more, all using your Android phone.

September 30, 2008

 Warning: Even if all you want are new socks and a pair of comfy slippers, the crystal balls and tea leaves are warning us to expect a smartphone-focused Christmas – that’s assuming Wall Street’s money-men haven’t greedily invoked the world’s poorest holiday season in 50 years through their mendacity…

Expect the most competitive market yet as handset makers tousle for pre-eminence. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Apple, Research in Motion, Palm, Android, Google – looks like all the tech firms are making it to this party. (Sadly, Microsoft couldn’t really make it this year, and plans to ship its most advanced Windows Mobile 7 late next year, or something.)

So what’s on? Well, all the analysts (in between checking their in-tray for a pink slip) right now are pointing to new music and handheld services, such as Nokia’s ‘Comes With Music’ or Sony Ericsson’s ‘PlayNow Plus’ as battle points to take on Apple and its iPhone – and each other…

By the way – Strategy Analytics thinks these services have a strong chance of undermining iTunes, at least a little. In a recent consumer study by Strategy Analytics, 84% of respondents indicated a willingness to pay for a subscription-based music service where they were allowed to keep the music at the end of the term. 34% indicated they would pay $10 per month or more, the analyst said.

David MacQueen, Director of the Strategy Analytics Wireless Media Strategies service, noted, “While subscription-based services have not performed well to date, our consumer research shows clear latent demand for subscription music, demand which is not being filled by current services.”

“The digital music industry will change significantly over the coming months and years as services such as PlayNow Plus, Comes with Music and others launch. We expect rollout to be relatively slow, and it may take some time for the impact to be felt in the US in particular, but existing services cannot afford to rest on their laurels,” he added.

Saying that, neither subscription nor mobile music services have really hit a nadir, and while there has been much talk as to how these are the future of music, to be deadly honest the only people primarily saying this are analysts. Apple competitors and people at the labels. The fate of these two new mobile music services is bound to be closely watched. Also it must be worth considering if consumers will be prepared to sign-up for another monthly bill when they aren’t entirely sure what the economic future is likely to bring. These moves could see ‘Fail’.

Beyond the mobile sector, Research In Motion’s making its plan, too, plotting its Blackberry Storm 9350 touch-sensitive handset as its very very own ‘iPhone killer’. (There’s been some reports that final development of this has hit some obstacle or other, but the company is still expected to ship its answer to Apple in Q4). RIM holds the enterprise mobile space, but may have too much hope invested in its newest system, warned Needham & Co analyst Charles Wolf last week.

Not all analysts agree. "There is a hairball in the supply chain but RIM doesn’t screw up and they don’t put out junk," Michael Finneran, analyst, dBrn Associates, told InternetNews.com. "This is their shot at the iPhone," he said, adding he expects Storm to arrive in November.

Expect more from the Google  Android OS, too, Motorola is looking to boost its Android OS development team from a current team of 50 developers to 350 in response to the arrival of Google’s G1 HTC handset, the Washington Post has explained.

The future seems pretty dark for Palm, despite the presence of Apple alumni Jon Rubinstein on its team. That company faces more innovation in the mobile device industry than it could have expected and still hasn’t revealed a great deal about its own promised smartphone system,

All this competition is driving smartphones into the consumer sector, an analyst explained. "From a vendor point of view, we expect to see RIM continue to be clear the market leader, but also expect significant volumes from Apple," Peter Cunningham, Canalys analyst, told InternetNews.com.

September 28, 2008

We’ve fielded a couple of tips (some more sketchy than others) about EVDO iPhones floating around Cupertino in the past, but today’s tipster seems a little bit more sure of himself.  Besides having some Verizon insider credentials, he seems to know way too much about Verizon-Apple politics.  According to him, Apple will be announcing iPhones for Verizon Wireless in 2009, perhaps as early Macworld 2009.  Negotiations between Apple and Verizon are ongoing but they expect to hammer out agreements by the end of the year. 

This isn’t a huge surprise for a number of reasons:

  1. Apple has been scouting out EVDO and CDMA Engineers for months in their online iPhone job postings (here, here, here and here).  Yes, some of these skills overlap with UTMS and CDMA can also refer to the broad swath of 3G Technologies…but come on…don’t put "EVDO" on the job description if it ain’t true.. (BTW, WiMax is also littered throughout Apple’s Job postings…interesting/digress)
  2. No matter how big AT&T is and how much range they cover, leaving out Verizon and to a lesser extent Sprint, will be eliminating a broad swath of the US wireless market.  If Apple is serious about competing with Blackberry, Symbian and Android, they will have to broaden their carrier footprint.  One carrier does not a platform make.  Apple will need a way to grow its market after AT&T is saturated.
  3. LTE technology won’t be mature until well into 2010.  Apple can’t afford to wait that long to broaden its carrier footprint
  4. Who is happy with Rogers in Canada (*crickets*)?  EVDO opens up to new carriers there as well.
  5. Verizon wireless is a partnership between Verizon communications and Vodafone.  Vodafone, you’ll recall, has contracts with Apple for iPhones in around 15 markets around the world.  Apple has a working relationship with Vodafone (and Tmobile obviously).
  6. Apple has just started going "Open" in a few markets, including Hong Kong. This will likely increase the number of unlocked 3G iPhones on the world market (South Africa is also open).  While this won’t benefit Verizon directly, it certainly shows that Apple is considering being more "carrier agnostic."
  7. Tim Cook, famously said that Apple wasn’t married to the one carrier/country model.  As Apple expands, it is going more and more open.
  8. Verizon’s iPhone Cheat sheet was weak and their arguments about Stevo getting old were silly.  They’d rather play ball with Apple than try to defend itself against it.
  9. Apple originally wanted to go with Verizon for the iPhone.  Some of the original disagreements included "not carrying the iPhone at Best Buy and hardware reliability" – see quote below.  AT&T was a second choice.  When Verizon balked, Apple went to AT&T…Think Verizon is happy about that decision (no) or willing to reconsider Apple’s overtures (yes)?

According to Verizon, Apple CEO Steve Jobs insisted that he have hard control over iPhone distribution.

The problem? While Apple and Verizon stores would have it, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and other Verizon distributors could have been left out. "That would have put our own distribution partners at a disadvantage" to Apple and Verizon stores, Gerace said.

Customer care was another hitch: If an iPhone went haywire, Apple wanted sole discretion over whether to replace or repair the phone. "They would have been stepping in between us and our customers to the point where we would have almost had to take a back seat … on hardware and service support," Gerace says.

The number one reason people think AT&T is the only US carrier that Apple will visit is because a couple of falsely reported rumors by USA Today that "revealed" Apple has signed exclusivity deals with AT&T.  Depending on whether you trust the original article which said it would be five years or the latest article which says two years, or any of the other speculation out there (CNN says 2009), nothing public has ever been uncovered that has specified the length of AT&T-Apple exclusivity deals.  At the original iPhone announcement at Macworld 2007, Cingular’s CEO Stan Sigmund indicated that Apple and Cingular had signed a multi(2?)-year deal.  A Macworld 2009 launch would put the AT&T-Apple exclusivity at 18 months from mid 2007 launch, WWDC 2009 would be 2 years from launch.  Add 6 months for time since the announcement.

There is no reason why Apple wouldn’t also be chatting with Sprint and T-mobile about possible deals as well.  We welcome some carrier competition in the US iPhone field. 

The sooner the better.


September 25, 2008

Apple’s culture of secrecy and control around iPhone development may mean we now have a series of University courses preparing to spring up to train new developers – but continues to thwart more informal means to bring knowledge to the developer community – there’s not even a book – but there was going to be.

Publisher Pragmatic Programmers has a complete book on iPhone development ready and waiting. The title will be a huge boost to many iPhone developers, particularly one-person shops who crave a little help in what they are trying to do. The title seems likely to be very successful – except it will never make it to print.


Here’s why – and Apple’s culture of secrecy and control around the iPhone is squarely to blame, as the publishers explain (and thanks to John Gruber for the eagle eyes)

"We’ve had the iPhone book ready to go beta for some months, but were prevented from publishing it because of the iPhone SDK’s Non-Disclosure Agreement (which affects all publishers regarding this material, regardless of whether the reader is a member of the ADC or not).

"Normally, pre-release NDA’s such as this one are lifted when the product finally ships. We expected that this NDA would be lifted when the iPhone 2.0 software shipped, but it wasn’t. The September announcement came and went, and still the NDA remains in place.

"It now appears that Apple does not intend to lift the NDA any time soon. Regrettably, this means we are pulling our iPhone book out of production. But all is not lost: we are actively looking at alternative ways of getting this content to you. It probably won’t happen anytime soon, but know that we are doing what we can."

This news is only going to add to the huge furore surrounding the way Apple has recently begun rejecting applications with ever-increasing enthusiasm. Seems an application only has to slightly duplicate one of Apple’s core functions for a rejection to take place. And that’s annoying many developers, as clearly described in Jason Snell’s report here

Delicious Monster developer, Will Shipley, believes Apple needs to remove its control over shipping apps – beyond ensuring security, protecting against scams and preventing illegal content – he argues that the market should decide which apps succeed or fail. And developer Brent Simmons says Apple’s insistence on maintaining control is "a mistake," calling the behaviour "definitely beneath the company".

There’s another complaint: Developers have been complaining that the terms of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) Apple demands they keep to are so onerous they can’t even properly discuss what they are working on between different dev firms – even when developers concerned have all signed that NDA. The situation seems to be becoming ever more frustrating, driving some developers to quit iPhone and shift to Android.

And that is no good thing.

Should Apple open up here? Is it taking a wrong path? And sure, we know there’s lots of money to be made in App development, but is Apple over-playing its custodial role? Is it acting as a curate of opportunity, or a camp commandant of discipline and control? Choose your position in our poll, or spare your few cents worth in comments below….



September 2, 2008

August 31, 2008

My Computerworld colleague Mike Elgan found a little bit of interesting news in a job posting online.  Looks like Microsoft is hiring that certain someone for a new App store type of thing called "Skymarket" (I guess Sky Mall was taken?).

According to the ad, the service/store plans to debut in 2009 on Windows Mobile 7.  Google announced a similar service for Android phones last week.  It seems the iTunes App Store is kinda a big deal…

From the Job posting:

Job Title: Senior Product Manager – Skymarket
This is a unique opportunity and time of rapid change in the mobile industry for a Senior Product Manager in the Mobile Communications Services team to drive the launch of a v1 marketplace service for Windows Mobile.

…according to their Job posting the candidate will be involved in:


  • "Definition of the product offering, pricing, business model and policies that will make the Windows Mobile marketplace “the place to be” for developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile application
  • Responsibility for the business model and key elements that will drive the optimal experience for developers and monetization of the service by Microsoft
  • Preparation and driving the cross group collaboration for the initial launch of the marketplace offering to the developer community this fall
  • Preparation and driving the cross group collaboration with stakeholders in the commercial launch of the marketplace service with the launch of WM 7
  • Define and mange the consumer, developer and mobile operator value proposition and supporting materials for use by PR, MCB’s developer outreach organization, and other teams across Microsoft
  • Working with multiple stakeholders (product team, product planning, developer outreach, business operations, legal and more) in definition on the process, policies and terms of use through which developers and consumers take part in the marketplace
  • Work closely with product planning on prioritization of consumer, developer, and mobile operator scenarios
  • Support business development on engagements with mobile operators and integration of the marketplace offering into broader Microsoft services offerings or discussions
  • Work closely with the Mobile Communication Business developer outreach organization
  • Management of KPI’s for the service post launch"


July 24, 2008

Google CEO and Apple board member Eric Schmidt is pretty pleased with the iPhone 3G, telling Fortune it "shows the power of a device that is a step forward".

Schmidt was speaking yesterday at the Brainstorm Tech event. He noted, "The iPhone has a fully functional browser. We can show desktop ads, not mobile ads. That’s a huge change from our perspective."

Naturally conversation soon turned to Android, Google’s own mobile phone software. Handset makers will deliver the first Android phones by the end of the year, the report claims. And the success of the iPhone is good news for Google and the Android platform.

"The iPhone’s competitors all have devices or devices coming out. It’s really simple," Schmidt added. "A phone is a GPS, a camera, a computer, and a browser,” he said. Schmidt sees more opportunities for Google as a result.

Schmidt also predicted the best social networking applications will now move to the mobile world, telling of one Android application which will tell users where they are, what’s around them and what businesses are in the local area. “The most interesting social applications will be mobile-based because people are always moving,” he said.


June 24, 2008

This is interesting – Nokia this morning announced plans to buy mobile phone operating systems maker, Symbian. This is significant because it underlines how software is the new battle ground for the smartphone market, with devices and functionality taking second place to ease-of-use and integration.

Nokia paid out over $250 million in Symbian license fees last year, so it makes sense for the company to purchase the firm. Well, that, an imminent competition from Google’s now-delayed Android platform, and the permanent looming threat of Apple with the iPhone. Apple, in particular, lends its proven skills in software design to the mobile phone market.

Mobile phone makers have been slammed in the past for creating user interfaces which don’t sufficiently engage users and lack the level of intuition most of us demand from devices we use every day. Apple’s iPhone raised the bar on this, so Nokia’s investment may also be predicated on that company’s need to bring in leading-edge software development skills. Symbian and its developers hold extensive expertise in the mobile phone software development space.

It’s a joint effort. Also announced this morning was the launch of the Symbian Foundation, which features Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone Group. All members will be able to use the Symbian OS under a royalty-free license. 

"Ten years ago, Symbian was established by far sighted players to offer an advanced open operating system and software skills to the whole mobile industry," said Nigel Clifford, CEO of Symbian. "Our vision is to become the most widely used software platform on the planet and indeed today Symbian OS leads its market by any measure. Today’s announcement is a bold new step to achieve that vision by embracing a complete and proven platform, offered in an open way, designed to stimulate innovation which is at the heart of everything we do."

"Establishing the Foundation is one of the biggest contributions to an open community ever made," said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia. "Nokia is a strong supporter of open platforms and technologies as they give the freedom to build, maintain and evolve applications and services across device segments and offer by far the largest ecosystem, enabling rapid innovation. Today’s announcement is a major milestone in our devices software strategy."

Nokia expects the acquisition to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2008.

A press conference will be webcast live from London today at 11am, and will be available for replay from here.

June 11, 2008

 Apple’s twinning of GPS location-based features with a full-fledged development system underpinned by OS X for iPhone may not be new in some ways (there’s other mobile platforms with developers and GPS), but may well usher in some of the most innovative uses of location-based technologies ever seen in any previous family of devices.

Numerous examples of the potential Apple has harnessed in its iPhone Software 2.0 move are appearing, with one major move set to transform the way we drive.

Dutch navigation device maker TomTom has revealed it already has a version of its navigation software running on the iPhone, and confirmed it intends selling this to consumers, presumably through the App Store.

"Our navigation system runs on the iPhone already," a TomTom spokesman told Reuters after Apple announced the iPhone 3G, but declined to say when it would make the application available.

That follows last year’s move by Maxens Technology to develop its own Navizon GPS system for the first-gen iPhone.

Beyond this, there’s a new breed of social network-cum-music applications set to appear. Take a look at TuneWiki, a social lyric and karaoke service that’s already available for jailbroken iPhones (and soon also for Google’s Android software-powered devices). TuneWiki lets users read lyrics to songs in real-time, so they can sing along, and also harnesses the location-sensing abilities of the iPhone to show users where others using the software are. You get to listen to YouTube tracks submitted by others, and can take a look at what song they’re listening to.

Want more? Then take a look at Geopedia, software which summons relevant Wikipedia place entries for destinations close to where you currently are, which was revealed in March for jailborken iPhones. And, naturally, we all saw the WWDC presentation of location-based social network, Loopt, onstage during the Apple keynote this week.

What other innovative location-based solutions for the iPhone have you come across? We’re interested – let us know in comments below…

May 7, 2008

 The iPhone has revolutionised the mobile web, senior mobile executives agree, and heightened activity in terms of WiMax deployment may offer even more opportunities for Apple ahead.

Peter Cannistra, VP-strategic partnerships for WiMax, Sprint, Nextel, told Digital Hollywood that the iPhone is ““a great first mover; it’ll be improved on and imitated and really will be the catalyst for a lot of devices in the future.”

Cannistra was speaking as part of an experts panel at Digital Hollywood. He shared his space with Michael Ball, account lead, Interpublic Emerging Media Lab; David Shim, Sybase 365 VP-product management and strategy; Larry Berkin, senior director; Access Systems; Brian Johnson, executive chairman, mBlox; and Lee Hancock, CEO, go2.

Others on the panel agreed the iPhone would generate a wave of copy-cat phones, but suggested the future of mobiles will include larger touch screens and the evolution of a truly mobile internet, with iPhone imitators embracing Google’s Android platform for future evolutions.

Mobility requires appropriate networks, and Cannistra is in a top pole position in the new combined Sprint Nextel and Clearwire $12 billion WiMax venture. Nextel and Clearwire are preparing to launch a nationwide WiMax network across the US, offering both traditional voice services as well wireless broadband access using WiMax.

ABI Research analyst Nadine Manjaro said the deal “would be really huge for WiMax”. Why? Because it means enormous capital investment in deploying a US-wide platform for the standard, promising broadband-like internet access speeds even in relatively depopulated areas.

The news is just the latest in a string of recent WiMax-related announcements, as deployments of the standard begin to emerge internationally. Northern Italy, Fiji, Russia, Ireland, and countries across Asia already have major deployments planned, with WiMax networks expected to reach 25 per cent of the population of Malaysia by year’s end.

Sure, but you know what we’re thinking: We know it’s a long shot at this stage of deployment, but with huge investments being made WiMax network deployments across the globe, it’s clear the network ops behind these deployments are eager to find a killer app or device to propel consumer and enterprise users to embrace the new standard. Does Apple have a part to play?



April 9, 2008

 Needham & Co. this morning initiated coverage on Palm and BlackBerry manufacturer, Research In Motion, noting both companies seem likely to take a bounce on strength of the iPhone effect.

Palm seems most exposed to risk, the analysts said, saying the company had "lost its way". Pointing out that Palm hasn’t introduced a major upgrade of its smartphones and the Palm operating system for almost five years, the analysts observe the company to be, "counting on a new operating system and a totally redesigned smartphone to restore its leadership role.

"Neither is likely to be introduced until late in the year. Even then, it’s an open question whether they’ll be successful. We’re initiating coverage with an under perform rating," Needham & Co. said. And the market for personal organisers is shrinking in favour of the smartphone.

The analysts also note the enterprise market could become more competitive with the entry of Apple, while in the consumer market, Palm will have to compete with the likes of Research in 

Motion and Apple, which have the vision and resources to make continued headway in this market.  

"It’s unlikely that Palm can match RIM or Apple on either dimension. In its favor, Palm’s other competitors are currently much weaker, in our opinion, because many, such as Motorola, Samsung and HTC, are saddled with the Windows Mobile operating system, a non-starter in the consumer world," the analysts explain.

Research In Motion (RIM) appears slightly less exposed to Apple’s entry to the smartphone market, the analysts explain.

"Research in Motion, the leader in wireless email services in the business market, has actually experienced far faster growth in the consumer market in recent quarters. However, we believe BlackBerry’s supercharged growth in this market could slow materially when far more versatile applications developed for the iPhone begin to appear in the second half of the year. We’re initiating co

verage with a hold rating," Needham & Co. said, while predicting the company will see healthy growth.

But the risk to all incumbents in the smartphone sector remains iPhone, with Google’s Android platform promising a new level of complexity and challenge.

"The competitive landscape in the consumer smartphone market was totally disrupted with Apple’s introduction of the iPhone in the summer of 2007.  The iPhone is a game changer, weaving together a wide array of computer-like functions.  It runs on the industrial strength and user friendly Mac OS X.  It totally changes the concept and versatility of a smartphone."

"Given the choice between a BlackBerry and iPhone, we believe a material percentage of consumers will opt for the iPhone once exciting applications for the phone begin to proliferate in the second half of the year.  BlackBerry sales should continue to grow but at a materially slower rate than they would have in the absence of the iPhone."


April 3, 2008

AT&T has confirmed a 3G iPhone will be made available within months. (Yes, Steve Jobs and AT&T’s CEO have already mentioned this a few times but one more can’t hurt..)

AT&T Mobility president and CEO Ralph de la Vega let slip the plan in talks this week at the CTIO Wireless conference.

De la Vega said that the much-anticipated 3G iPhone will become available in the next few months. "AT&T’s entire line of smartphones will be available in 3G models within that time frame," he said, as summarised by IDG News Service.

That a 3G iPhone is on the cards is moving rapidly away from rumour into a speculation of when the product will be announced, with analysts speculating a May/June release for the product, which chimes in well with the AT&T executives suggestion.

The AT&T chief also confirmed Apple’s US network partner will offer mobiles based on Google’s Android platform, the report explains.


April 1, 2008

 The smartphone sector is gripped by a struggle for dominance that’s emerging as between Apple’s iPhone and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, according to the latest consumer survey from ChangeWave.

The survey asked 3,597 consumers to share their views on smartphones, and while the research confirms RIM continues to dominate the existing consumer smartphone market, Apple’s iPhone has "huge momentum" for future growth.

In terms of current market share, BlackBerry deployment has slipped one percentage point to 42 per cent. Apple has quickly shot to third place in the market occupying 9 per cent share, just a few percentage points behind second place manufacturer, Palm, with 16 per cent.

Palm’s 16 per cent is significant because it reflects a continuous two-year decline in Palm’s marketshare, ChangeWave claims.

Despite its continued struggle to turn itself around with a raft of recent high profile hirings of former senior Apple managers, Palm appears a victim in what is becoming a two horse race, researchers said.

Customer satisfaction is key to Apple’s iPhone success. The product received what ChangeWave called an "astonishing" 79 per cent Very Satisfied rating from consumers in the survey. 

That’s far ahead of RIM’s 54 per cent and Palm’s 22 per cent, meaning both competing companies will need to make a major move to deliver more compelling customer experience.

iPhone’s future growth opportunity also appears secure, with one-in-three (35 per cent) of respondents who already plan to buy a smartphone within the next 90 days saying they intend purchasing an iPhone. And that figure is up from the 23 per cent preference revealed in the last ChangeWave smartphone industry survey held in January 2008.

“The biggest reasons for the surge are the recent Apple announcements on the iPhone Software Development Kit and the new 2.0 OS,” said Tobin Smith, founder of ChangeWave Research and editor of ChangeWave Investing.  “One-in-ten respondents now say they’re more likely to purchase an iPhone in the future because of the new smart phone software.”

The ChangeWave survey also asked respondents which mobile operating system they’d like to have on the smart phone they plan on buying.  Once again, the consumer market is dominated by the RIM and Apple operating systems.

The number of respondents saying they’re Very Likely to use Google’s Android OS was just 2 per cent, though another 15 per cent did say they’re Somewhat Likely to use the new OS. 

“These numbers do show some consumer interest in the Android Operating System,” said Smith, “but based on the ultra-competitive battle between RIM and Apple, there’s little likelihood of the Android gaining traction on either one’s OS. They’re sucking up all the oxygen in this market.”




March 19, 2008

Remember those super-fast WebKit specs we told you about a few weeks ago?  Remember how it was going to help Safari 3.1 become a much faster browser?  What about all of the other goodies?   Now you can get them in a final version of Safari.  Apple today unleashed Safari 3.1 using much more recent version of the WebKit engine.  Preliminary results (meaning going to all of our favorite sites) are quite good. 

It remains to be seen if speed increases like this (and iPhone/iPod touch) help Apple’s browser gain marketshare



Review from Computerworld:

Apple released Safari 3.1

on March 18 with an updated rendering engine that makes the fastest Internet browser even faster.

On top of that, Apple’s new browser includes some features that reflect the future of the HTML 5 specification: offline storage, media support, and CSS animations and Web fonts. It also adds some needed compatibility and bug fixes, as well as some other new features that really make it a great everyday browser.

For the uninitiated, Apple provides a great PDF overview of Safari. You can get the upgrade/installer from apple.com/safari/download/ (it’s about a 16MB download for both Mac and PC) or simply update from Software Update. The installation is easy but strangely requires a restart on Macs but not on Windows. By the way, Safari 3.1 is the first Windows version not to carry the "beta" tag.


The interface and the user experience are largely unchanged from those in Safari 3.0. Under the hood, however, Apple has

made some significant changes

that it has pulled from the latest builds of the open-source



WebKit is the framework version of the engine that’s used by Safari. It is also the basis of the Web browsing engine in iPhone’s Mobile Safari, Symbian’s browser, the Google Android platform and Adobe’s new AIR platform.


To check out how well Safari 3.1 handles Web sites, I ran it through some popular standards testing — and found that it leads the pack. In the Acid3 Tests, which were created by the Web Standards Project to test dynamic browser capabilities, Safari 3.1 scored 75 out of 100, significantly higher than the previous version of Safari and other shipping browsers (Firefox 3 Beta 4 scored 68, while the most recent WebKit scored 92).

However, the big news is how fast the new version of Safari is. How fast? I tested Safari 3.1 on my first-generation 2-GHz MacBook Pro with 2GB of RAM. In MooTools’ SlickSpeed speed/validity test, Safari came out on top in almost every category on both Mac and PC.

It also did significantly better than any shipping browser on the SunSpider JavaScript speed tests (although since these tests are hosted at WebKit.org, they are perhaps biased). For example, on the Mac, Safari scored 4430ms, compared with 5048ms for Firefox 3 Beta 4.

While I spend 90% of my time on a Macintosh, I also installed Safari on my Windows XP box to see how it stacked up against Internet Explorer, Opera and Firefox. In short, it worked extremely well for everyday browsing, offering speed and efficiency, especially on a four- or five-year-old machine. It also performed really well with lots of tabs open.

SlickSpeed Test

1.2 Beta 2
Mac OS        
Safari 3.1 91 138 209 272
Firefox 3
Beta 2
142 235 151 282
Opera 9.25 225 431 426 562
Safari 3.1 171 171 250 236
Firefox 2.0.12 286 439 267 398
IE7 335 468 869 1987
All measurements are in milliseconds. Lower numbers are better.

Although Safari 3.1 does perform much better than the shipping version of Firefox, the speed improvements in Firefox 3 Beta 4 are catching up with Safari 3.1 — though Firefox 3 did consume more CPU cycles during my tests.

One of the drawbacks of Safari has been the perceived "over-smoothing" or softening of fonts on the PC. While this hasn’t been completely fixed, Apple’s Safari 3.1 allows Web sites to specify fonts outside the seven Web-safe font families; these new fonts can be downloaded by the browser as needed.

Unfortunately, there are still prominent features that are part of rival browsers that Safari simply can’t match. For example, Safari doesn’t have all of the add-ons that Firefox enjoys, such as the Google toolbar.

Furthermore, if you need to use a site that employs Microsoft‘s proprietary DirectX technology — like Microsoft Exchange’s Outlook Web Access, for example — you’ll find that the experience on Safari leaves much to be desired. In this case, you’re better off using Internet Explorer.

Finally, Opera offers features, such as direct BitTorrent downloads, that aren’t offered in Safari.

With the 3.1 release, Safari has become the fastest browser you can use. If that isn’t enough reason to make a switch, its strong adherence to Web standards and rapid adoption of new technologies might make you think again.

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