The previous version of Agile Messenger connected to ICQ, MSN, Yahoo and AOL through Agile's own servers. But I'm currently beta testing the new version which connects directly to the Instant Messaging services instead. The stated aims are to improve speed and reliability and so far both of those are being met.
On top of that there are some nice little UI tweaks that, as well as making everthing look neater, make it easier to track multiple conversations.
Cliche ahead warning..... the best just got better.
"Mobile handset shipments are still booming in Western Europe, rising significantly in the third quarter of this year, according to new market research. Analyst firm Strategy Analytics is reporting a 23 percent rise in shipments compared to the third quarter of 2002. Shipments were up 7 percent on the second quarter of this year. The firm reported that a healthy demand for colour-screen phones and cameraphones was mixed with a continuing strong demand for low-end handsets."
Extracting the main poits -
Finnish manufacturer Nokia remains top of the pile in Europe, with shipments growing from 13.5 million units in the third quarter of last year to 13.7 million units in the third quarter of this year.
Siemens performed very well, with shipments standing at 5.5 million, up from 2.5 million units in Q3 of last year.
Samsung, meanwhile, enjoyed a period of steady growth, coming in at number three in the table.
Sony Ericsson climbed into fourth position, doubling shipments from 1.1 million to 2.2 million.
The report brought bad news for Motorola, however, which was down to fifth position from third a year ago, having been overtaken by Samsung and Sony Ericsson.
The main surprise for me is the performance of Siemens. I still don't know anyone personally with a Siemens phone but the last time I was in the Vodafone shop I could appreciate just how much they'd improved looks-wise. However, my friends continue to upgrade with Nokias. It's an incredible brand image and reputation that the Finnish manufacturer enjoys.
One of way to know when a new technology has crossed the chasm from novelty gadget to mainstream 'go-get' is when it's very own ecosystem takes root. That's what has happened with cameraphones. We have MMS storage services, postcards services, blogging and now printing. Just like we've seen with the blogging phenomenon vis-a-vis Technorati, Feedster, Blodgex, RSS, Aggregators, Blogshares, Blogstreet, etc, an ecosystem confers a self-sustaining momentum which makes it impossible to put the genie back in the bottle.
"After taking more than a decade to hit its first 1.28 billion mobile subscribers worldwide as at end-September this year, the industry is poised to hit its second billion within the next five years, according to Ericsson."
"T-zones attracted more than 4.9 million unique active users in October, while 15 million MMS messages were sent in the first 10 months of the year, the company said. This includes users in the US as well as across its five European markets: Germany, UK, Austria, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands."
"To forestall Microsoft Corp.'s attempt to dominate cellphone operating systems as well as lower handset prices, NTT DoCoMo Inc. plans to adopt an OS based on the open source Linux software, sources said. At the same time, DoCoMo is also looking into the possibility of developing a standard based on an OS made by Symbian Ltd., a British firm whose OS is used widely in Europe and in some handsets in Japan."
I know that Linux is making some progress in the PC market but isn't it refreshing to see such a hyperactively competitive landscape as we see in the mobile space.
"The interesting part of this field is that phones don't have so much of a legacy in UI terms. We're still at the experimentation phase. We'll see our share of Microsoft Bobs and Mac OS X Docks, but I think the phone designers have been paying much closer attention to what users want to do than OS companies. (Apple Computer, and the late Be Inc. being a noble exceptions) . Whether they get the opportunity to do so, or whether they simply end up crafting static web pages for the carriers' branded services, is the big question."
Indeed that is the big question, and the big fear! It's the main reason I've railed, at length, against the growing power hunger of the operators (such as Vodafone), whose vision of a intelligent UI seems limited to a cartoon web page.
Sometimes its amazing what you come across when aimlessly surfing the web, which I was doing for a time this morning while waiting for a phone call. I'm not quite sure how I got there but boy was I delighted to come across DV4.com.
Among other digital media technologies, DV4 offer a solution for streamed live or on-demand video to mobile phones over GPRS. Unfortunately you need to fill out a form to arrange a demo of their 'traffic camera' on Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin but believe me, if you have a Nokia 3650 or similar phone its more than worth it! What I saw was by far the smoothest and highest quality streamed video I've ever seen on a mobile phone. In fact, it was much better than anything I've ever seen through Realplayer on my PC over a 56kps dial-up! Eye-popping stuff. I never imagined live video could be so good pre-3G.
"European women are particularly interested in mobile services such as e-mail. In all three countries, women are more interested than men in the possibility of sending photos and videos (MMS). "
Well I, for one, am not at all surpised by this finding. Not only do most women I know take way more photos when on holiday, at weddings, etc, than I ever will but they all spend alot more time on the phone too!! Now, take both of those activities and combine them and it's a recipe for gold. Call me a sexist pig but it's true ;-)
"Several leading telecom carriers are planning to launch fixed-line MMS services in 2004 to allow residential customers to send and receive person-to-person MMS messages, reports Telecom Markets"
You know I'm not sure this is going to fly. We've had fixed-line SMS in my household for the last 4 months and have hardly used it at all. Why? Well I think its a combination of two factors -
1)The nature of texting, which tends to be personal. Texting in general tends to be alot of whispered sweet nothings, jokes and howya's. Messages like that are obviously personal in nature and you want to be sure the intended recipient is the only recipient!
3)The age profile of texters. By this I mean that most texters, here in Ireland at least, already have their own mobiles. The main use for fixed line texting then is contacting family members who don't have mobiles, who tend to be older non-texters. Which is a bit of a catch-22 if you think about it.
So it seems to me that adding SMS and MMS to home-based fixed-lines is a bit like adding fax capabilities - a largely wasted effort because of a mistaken understanding of the of device. However, if the user interface can be optimally simplified there will be at least one great use - sending family photos (eg. of grandchildren) to grandparents.