"Israeli start-up TransChip is targeting mobile handset vendors seeking to upgrade cellphones to popular camera phones with a single-chip CMOS image sensor that integrates image processing and compression along with LCD controller functions. Unlike most CMOS image sensor companies who view digital still camera vendors as their primary customers, TransChip is targeting mobile phones as its key customers."
Smart Mobs points to an intriguing possible use of camera phones - barcode scanning! Not just any old barcodes mind you but fancy Semacode ones.
Some people are already dismissing the idea, while reminding us of the CueCat fiasco. I beg to differ and think this could actually take off if it's technically feasible (there's no software actually developed yet!).
The reason is because of the essential difference between camera phones and CueCats - ubiquity! Within a short few years we will practically all (in the developed world) have camera phones. So without even thinking about it we'll have potential barcode scanners in our pockets too. Now all that's needed is the software.
infoSync World tells us that "Reqwireless have announced a new version of their e-mail program for J2ME-supporting mobile phones. The new version carries a number of new features, including Hotmail support, automatic spam filtering, message forwarding ability, signature support, HTML message support and IMAP navigation."
The ultimate IM application for your mobile phone.
Agile Mobile call their new IM application for Series 60, "The ultimate Instant Messenger for your mobile phone". And for one that's not hyperbole. Agile Messenger really does fit the bill.
This is by no means a rigorous review but having tried TipicMe and JustYak I can testify that AgileMessenger beats them hands down. I'd love to have tested IM+ but there's no free trial and Russ wasn't too complementary of it anyway.
Agile Messeger has a simple, clean and intuitive interface. Error messages are helpful. And best of all, it works! And consistenly! In contrast to the other IM pretenders it actually functions very well as an IM client. When an IM buddy goes online, the notification is practically instantaneous. Likewise, messages are transmitted with no noticeable time delay. There is a nice audible notification of new messages too. Finally, did I mention that it's free? All in all I'd thoroughly recommend it.
I wonder how much, if at all, great apps like this are worrying the network operators? Ok, so most 'average' users may not be likely to download, install and setup these programs but if SMS prices stay stubbornly where they are right now, I can see more and more getting around the texting gateways with these Instant Messengers.
"A fierce battle is now raging for control of the mobile gaming space. Operators such as Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile, who have direct access to their customers and an available billing system, are likely to dominate the market.
Vodafone Live! has shown the way. Instead of being the piggy in the middle and just providing the transmission mechanism, the operator has expanded its control forwards - by providing an easy-to-use payment system for downloaded games - and backwards - by fixing the specifications for the phone with the manufacturers. That includes branding the handset as a Vodafone product rather than that of the maker. Orange has done something similar with its SPV smart phone.
This entails a loss of power and branding for the handset manufacturers. Most - including the world's leading manufacturer, Nokia - are loath to play second fiddle to the network operators.
"The manufacturers of the phone may care a little, although most seem fairly agnostic. Open application platforms such as SMS, MMS and Java reduce the cost of caring for content developers. Operators may not have realised there was an operating system there, and anyway why should they care? So that leaves the user. Of course users don't care - unless they are early adopters. ..... PalmSource and Symbian should take comfort from this. The best technologies are those that are invisible or impose no additional complexity on the user. Ask any Mac user...or woman."
"For example people often question why Symbian are so relatively silent – no powered by Symbian stickers on their phones – this is partly because they’re not making the phones, but also intentional. They don’t seem them selves as important at the user end of the market. They are the engine, and people don’t need to know about them or understand them. Their ethos sees users as choosers without being concerned by the underlying technology. This has been well demonstrated in the past in the mobile arena. People may care somewhat about phone brand, but at the end of the day they want their phone to do want they want it to, be it calls, messaging or internet – at the end of the day they don’t care about enabler. Symbian’s attitude here is in marked contrast to others within the market, both Palm, and especially Microsoft, are attempting to build share by emphasizing their OS. This appeals to the geeks, but at the end of the day the mass user market won’t care who powers their phone, so long as it does what they want it to."
"WHILE CAMERAPHONES are rapidly becoming the latest gadget phone for the fashion conscious, there are still huge gaps in the associated standard claims market watchers, Baskerville. According to Tony Wakefield, author of Baskerville ' s recent report on fototext/MMS (Multi-media Messaging Services), handset compatibility – particular with visual display and the fact that even different Nokia handset models are using incompatible audio coding techniques - is a major headache for the mobile phone industry."
"Realistically, it could try a few models that weblog services already use, but they will ultimately be competing against free or nearly free solutions. They will also be competing against far bigger players who can offer more services. For instance, why not integrate email-based posting of images and text into every major weblog application, into AOL weblogs, etc."
I agree. Existing blogging services such as Blogger, Radio and Moveable Type will just integrate photo blogging. Indeed, the new hosted version of Moveable Type, TypePad already does.
On a brighter note (than the post below) is Jim Hughes' (of Mobitopia.com) opinion that the N-Gage will be a knockout gaming device. And he makes a very important reference to a new paradigm for console games -
"Something John Romero didn't mention is the so-called lower end games market; games written in J2ME and OPL might not be quite as sophisticated as the native C games, but they're going to take a big chunk of the market. The "low end" games will be readily available as over the air downloads from many of the operators' portals and sites like Handango. I can see people shelling out for quite a few of these games if they are priced at only 2 to 5 Euros, Dollars or Pounds, they'll almost be disposable games. Download, play, enjoy, play, get bored, grab another."
That's what most critics have missed isn't it. So many people asking what in the hell Nokia is dreaming about with a 'low powered device' like this when they're missing the two key factors of - OTA downloads and Bluetooth enabled multi-player capability.
Diego Doval thinks he has found Symbian's fatal weakness -
"... development for Symbian is incredibly difficult to get started on. Why? One word: Heterogeneity. Each device maker that uses Symbian provides their own development tools. Nokia has one toolset. SonyEricsson has another. Motorola has another. And so on. Even for Java, were it would be expected that there would be more homogeneity."
Read his blog for much more detail. Very interesting and worrying stuff.
"iSnapper is a virtual PC camera. It allows user to “snap” any image on the PC screen, and send it as a MMS message to mobile phones. It works like a digital camera. User could also add text and audio to be part of the MMS message. Unlike MMS photo albums, iSnapper does not require its users to visit a web site. It is a pervasive application that brings instant gratification to users." [via picturephoning.com]
Now this seems like a really neat idea. Digisoft.tv do something similar for TV by allowing viewers to select images, text and sound from their TV screen and send it to a mobile phone via MMS. I can imagine numerous application for these technologies on both the PC and TV. Take, for instance, classified adverts with photos and/or video. How many times have you come across an advert for something that you know a friend would want to see? Well it's going to be beautifully simple to do it with these applications.
"Greg Elin has some smart observations on the future of digital cameras. Among them, that the rise of digital signifies a paradigm shift in the use of cameras away from being image capturing devices and towards data gathering devices"
Follow the link in the heading above for more. This is exactly the kind of paradigm shift I've been talking about now for a while. That's why I suggested to Xeni Jardin that she had the wrong idea about camphones if she thought they should simply be mobile connected cameras.
The important thing is the ability to capture, literally, a thousand words worth of information in a single snap and then publish it to a website, for the whole world to view, in an instant.
I love my RSS aggregator. It allows me to track a huge amount of information in a fraction of the time it used to take me by laboriously clicking from webpage to webpage. In fact, I'm such a fan that I setup an XML/RSS feed for anyone who'd like to keep track of this blog without having to regularly open it up in a browser. You'll find the link over there in the left hand side-bar.
And All About Symbian have now introduced a brilliant RSS feed for tracking new software releases for your Symbian phone (eg. Nokia 3650 or Sony Ericsson P800). All that's left for me to say is... THANK YOU!!
"Fuji is shipping a small color printer that communicates with phonecams via infrared to output mobile snaps. The Battery will hold for 100 prints. The small printer takes 15 seconds for one print. The NP-1 uses standard photo printer film: Fuji film instant color film instax mini (sizes: 86x54mm, 62x46mm). The Printer has a resolution of 10.0 dots/mm(254dpi) and 256 colors."
"European palmtop maker Psion has decided to stop making new devices based on the Epoc operating system. Though never popular in North America, the Epoc OS was quite widely used in Europe, partially thanks to Psion's popular Netbook line. Psion also originated the Symbian OS, a system predominantly geared towards mobile phones. However, it's specialization makes it impractical compared to Windows CE.Net."
"The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) claims to have become the first broadcaster in Europe to show MMS-messages from viewers on TV, with two thousand photos shown on TV this weekend, straight after the service was launched on Saturday, according to Europemedia. The debut took place in the programme Svisj, an interactive show where the viewers vote via SMS on which music video to play next."
"Customers of T-Mobile Netherlands are now able to have their digital vacation pictures be delivered as personal vacation cards. Dutch T-Mobile customers with an MMS mobile phone can have their MMS picture be delivered from 30 different countries as real postcards. On one side the photograph will be printed and on the other side there will be the address and the personal message of the sender. The MMS mail from the Netherlands or from 30 other countries will only cost US$1.70 per item until the end of August."
You have to wonder how many of these new photoblogging services are going to survive for very long. Buzznet is just the latest example of this new craze.
It seems a whole load of people decided to take two of the biggest buzzwords in technology right now - blogs and camera phones - and just meld the two memes together without any apparent master (business) plan. It's got a strong whiff of dotcom mania to me and as big a fan as I am of both blogging and camera phones (obviously!) I'd be quite negative about the future for all but a very small number of these services.
In fact, as much as I hate to say it, I think the only ones that will survive long term are the operator run photoblogging services such as O2 Ireland's Fotoblog. Unless the independent ones can come up with some novel way to make money besides charging memberships.