Instead of building it's own Wi-Fi infrastruture, "Vodafone plans to use a system that lets its customers get authorized via SMS to use the hot spots. The customers will get billed for the Wi-Fi use on their Vodafone bills."
It seems to me that Vodafone has no real faith in Wi-Fi and believes that 3G, 4G and xG will do all 802.11x can do and more.
This is a great little article in TheFeature where the author reasons that content rights ownership or control may not guarantee success for the mobile carriers. Indeed the author goes so far as to suggest that the carriers may be taken off the field of play (to use a soccer metaphor) altogether -
"There’s no doubt that users are interested in this type of content, but carriers need to be wary until they can figure out how to monetize it. They may not get the chance in some cases: using the EPL [English Premier soccer League] again as an example, experienced TV broadcaster Sky (whose brand is basically synonymous with the league) is rumored to be mulling a bid for the mobile rights, which would possibly take the carriers out of the content loop and back solely into delivery."
Excellent. I'd love to see that. No more walled gardens,.... woohoooo! Anyway, as Douglas Rushkoff says, also in TheFeature, content is not king, contact is. That should be of some comfort to the carriers and they should concentrate on providing the best possible infrastructure for that contact. As I've pointed out previously (just below) there are few content franchises suitable for mobile consumption and the majority of media consumed will be of a homemade variety in a P2P loop, whereby the content is a catalyst for the contact, merely an excuse for social interaction, not the be all and end all.
I recently posted about China clinching a deal to participate in the European GPS system, Galileo. And now comes the news that Israel and India are looking to join up.
The move could provide the EU's ambitious satellite navigation system with much-needed investment as well as making it a formidable competitor to the US, which so far has enjoyed a monopoly in this sector.
Cool, I hate monopolies and would love a choice of GPS system for moblogging.
It's great to see more media companies understanding how best to use MMS. Now FOX Sports is getting in on the action -
"Want to see the comical side of sports? Experience the fun with FOX Sports FUNHOUSE! Each week a new message will be sent to your MMS handset with funny out-takes, text messages and unbelievable images of your favorite sports stars. Delivered weekly for 50 cents a message, FOX Sports FUNHOUSE is your source for the lighter side of sports."
This is the kind of thing MMS was made for as far as I'm concerned, short, easily digested chunks of entertainment. I know some guys who convert DVDs to 3GP for playing on their 3650s but that's madness. If I want to watch a movie I'll do it at the cinema or on TV. But for all the short down-times I experience during a typical day, when commuting, queuing, waiting, etc, etc, short movie trailers, comedy clips, sports scores and family clips are ideal time fillers.
Nokia just keep pushing the limits and have outdone themselves today with the announcement of a raft of new devices. I choose the word 'devices' because besides the amazing looking Nokia 7600 they're launching such nifty items as imaging medallions, picture frames and even a Kaleidoscope! Amazing!
"LogicaCMG says that its MMS solution will be used by ITENOS, a subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Telekom, to launch the country's first fixed-line MMS service. When the fixed-line MMS service is launched later this year, ITENOS will enable customers such as ASPs (application service providers) and content providers to deliver rich multimedia content to fixed-line handsets. Handset manufacturers such as Siemens and Alcatel are currently developing specialised cordless digital handsets to deliver this multimedia content."
Terrific. I've often thought that one of the coolest uses of MMS is sending elderly grandparents regular photos and video clips of their grandchildren living their lives. And while I know that many older people have no problem getting to grips with modern technology I still feel that it would be much better to deliver multimedia to them directly via an 'ordinary' phone rather than one of those 'fiddly mobile thingys'.
The BBC quotes David Nagel, boss of PalmSource, on saying that, "rumours of the death of the PDA are premature". He also has an interesting excuse for the reasons why the European handset and smartphone market is dominated by Nokia and Symbian -
"The interesting thing in Europe is that PCs never took off to the extent of the US," he said. "The US is a pretty nerdy population."
"There are astounding figures for the hours Americans spend on their PC every week," he said.
This dedication to the desktop and the fragmented nature of the mobile phone market in the US led people to choose e-mail, chat and PDAs as their preferred technologies.
By contrast," he said "in Europe you tend to talk."
Seems a bit simplistic doesn't it? And he doesn't really explain what he's going to do about it either!
"BenQ's forthcoming P30 Symbian OS smartphone, which features the UIQ interface used by the Sony Ericsson P800 and Motorola A920, will run on TI's OMAP1510 ARM processor. The P30 will include an integrated VGA digital camera, the ability to record and playback MPEG-4 video and an MP3 audio player. It has a 65,000 colour TFT screen, SD card slot, Bluetooth, Java, tri-band GPRS and MMS. BenQ is also using TI's baseband solution."
A recent study by market research company Zelos Group found that 45 percent of customers who subscribe to wireless phone companies other than Nextel, which for years was the only company to offer cell-phone walkie-talkie service, wanted the feature in the next cell-phone they buy. In the study, researchers asked 1,300 cell-phone users to rank 10 preferred features on their phones. Push-to-talk ranked second only to embedded digital cameras, while Bluetooth wireless finished 10th.
I have to take issue with that last bit (about Bluetooth) though because, while it may be accurate, (a)Bluetooth is just one of those technologies that you have to see/use before you can appreciate it, and (b)Bluetooth will become more and more in-demand more and more data features are added to phones. For instance I can't image having to hook up a cable to download every image and video I capture on my Nokia 3650. What a pain in the arse that would be!
There's news on AAS that IndTeleSoft has announced the availability of its Buzz2Talk Client for Push-to-talk applications. Buzz2Talk is a Mobile Communications Client for 1-to-1 or 1-to-many communication and is currently supported by the Nokia 7650 and 3650.
Good to see alternatives to FastChat in this interesting space.
picturephoning.com links to a story about how MTN South Africa setup a camera on a cellphone tower in Johannesburg in July 2002, enabling MMS enabled mobile users to check on live traffic at 4 major hi-way interchanges, by typing *155# on their mobile phones.
This is brilliant and the kind of service I've often wondered why we're not seeing more of? Surely the Nokia Observation Camera would be ideal for this kind of job? Why are they not yet being deployed on a large scale for traffic monitoring?
"Part of the problem, of course, is my SPV phone - it is a 'smart' phone, the first I've ever owned that crashes, and it has a boot time akin to my old laptop. It was acquired cheaply (for £30) in the summer, but I suspect that I may end up paying for it, in a whole set of ways, right up until the end of the year's contract I had to sign to buy it."
For the first time, sales of cellphones with cameras outsold those without cameras. Camera phones also outsold digital cameras. Sales of camera/phones grew from 4m to 25m since last year (during the first half of the year). Sales of conventional digital cameras grew from 10m to 20m (during the first half of the year). Of course, most of this action is going on outside the US.
Now Intel is backing the Fastap Keypad design and for the life of me I can't imagine why.
"The Fastap keypad does away with the need to press keys several times to scroll through the letters associated with each number."
Well whoopy doo! Hasn't T9 been doing that for years? And in a far less ugly and clunky fashion! Fastap keypads look horrible and for all their 'innovation' they're not even QWERTY. Intel is backing a loser here because it doesn't have a market. The youth demographic who have generally not been exposed to QWERTY keyboards to such a degree, or professional pressure, that they have developed touch-typing proficiency are damn happy with ordinary multi-tap thumb input. And for the rest of us there's T9, add on QWERTY keyboards or innovative designs such as the Nokia 6800, with many new QWERTY alternatives on the way (eg. projected laser virtual keyboards).
"Intel is relatively new to the handset chip market but has ambitions to become a significant provider of the hardware inside the handsets that we carry around."
Well then they need to get a little bit smarter about it.