Monthly Archives: May 2010

Mobomo Mobisphere Roundup — May 24, 2010

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There’s been yet another “leak” of a possible prototype of the 4th-gen Apple iPhone. A photo (above) shows both a black and a white phone with larger screens. Given all the rumors and SDK evidence, it seems obvious that the OS 4 iPhone will have video calling and the larger screen resolution necessary to pull that off.

Fortunately, in just 2 weeks, all the speculation will be put to rest when Apple’s 5-day WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) kicks off on Jun 7th. Steve Jobs will start the event off with a keynote address to over 5,000 developers at the sold-out event. There’s an email circulating around the Web that’s supposedly from Jobs telling someone that “you won’t be disappointed,” in reference to what he’s probably planning to announce at the conference. I.e., probably the new iPhone, other features of the new SDK, and a mention of the countries where the iPad will by then be available.

What Jobs might not know is the new but celebrated iPad hasn’t only been banned in some countries but also in New York’s Yankee Stadium of all places. Apparently the stadium’s security policy considers the iPad to be in the laptop category, and laptops are not allowed in the stadium.

Has anyone told Yankee Stadium security that even the TSA (Transportation Safety Authority) differentiates between iPads and laptops? That’s actually a very disappointing fact. If more venues ban iPads, then carrying a tablet computer around might not become a common practice. I carry my iPad with me wherever I go, almost without fail. Now if I’m driving, I could always leave my iPad hidden somewhere, but if I’m walking or taking public transit — which is very likely in New York — then what am I supposed to do with it? Considering London will have full Wi-Fi access for the 20102 Olympics, I’m guessing they won’t be banning the iPad at venues there. Well, given that many Apple stores are sold out of the iPad, especially the 3G model, I’m guessing not a lot of people are going to be worried about this sort of ban, at least for now.

Is Apple stealing the market? Google announced last week that they were shutting down their online store and now Nokia is closing their flagship New York store. The Chicago store, on the other hand, is not closing. Wait a minute; doesn’t New York have a larger population than Chicago? Wouldn’t it make more sense to do the closing the other way around?

AT&T just got the Palm Pre Plus, but they’re charging $150 for it despite Verizon’s lower price. However, if you’re a new AT&T customer, you can get the phone for $50, but without the free Palm Touchstone charging dock. AT&T’s Pixi Plus will be available Jun 6th, to join the new AT&T Palm Pre Plus. The free Touchstone charge deal doesn’t apply to the Pixi Plus [Engadget]. If you get any smartphone from AT&T, be forewarned that they’ve increased the early termination fee from $175 to $325, effective Jun 1st — whether you’re a new subscriber or renewing your service.

The U.S. FTC finally approved Google’s purchase of mobile ad network AdMob Inc. While it took them six months to approve, the decision was partly to do with Apple’s own purchase of ad network Quattro Wireless. If I’m not mistaken, Apple’s purchase will result in their iAd network, announced at the same event earlier this year where Steve Jobs revealed some of the features that iPhone OS 4 would have.

The iPad might have a very long lasting battery but most smartphones seem to fizzle out in just a couple of hours of use. For example, the Palm Pre Plus I bought for it’s Mobile Hotspot feature (to power my WiFi-only iPad), has a battery that dies long, long before the iPad. But Google’s Larry Page recently said that if your Android-powered device isn’t lasting a day, there’s something wrong with your apps.

Mobomo Mobisphere Roundup — May 21, 2010

This is a stream-of-consciousness roundup of news in the mobile platform space from the past week. It covers Apple, Palm, Android and the mobile platform in general.

iPad sales in 2010 in the U.S. might hit 8M units, up from a previous estimate of 5M units [MacRumors]. Obviously, the international release is going to play a big factor in this, but at least iPad apps are now available internationally [Engadget]. Tablet devices in general could go from 7.6M units in 2010 to 46M units in 2014, according to IDC research [IDC]. To qualify as a “tablet” in IDC’s research, a mobile device must have a 7-12 inches in diagonal screen size and have no physical keyboard. IDC compares that figure to the nearly 400M portable PCs that they expect will ship in 2014. Also noteworthy is that while U.S. Mac sales were up nearly 40% [Fortune] in April 2010, iPads are outselling Macs [All Things Digital], are nearing iPhone sales levels, and are taking away iPod sales [Silicon Alley Insider].

iPad and general tablet device sales might be up, but DisplaySearch says that 376M touchscreen phones shipped in 2009 [Mobile Entertainment News]. Gartner Research says that mobile phone sales worldwide grew 17% in just Q1 2010 [Gartner]. With this rapid sales growth, it’s a bit refreshing to know that an extensive study does not conclusively tie cell phones to cancer [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]. Though unfortunately that doesn’t mean they don’t [Mobile Burn]

The number of Android-powered devices that Google is activating daily has increased from 30,000 last year to 100,000 now [TechCrunch]. Other news: there are now over 50K apps in the Android Marketplace, and with Google officially announcing Android 2.2 (Froyo) [MobileCrunch], that will increase. A couple of welcome changes with 2.2 include Internet tethering for carriers that choose to support it, and the ability to install apps on the SD card [PC World]. Google’s Android 3, aka Gingerbread, will be released in Q4 2010 [MobileBurn], thought it might actually be numbered as 2.3 or 2.5.

Adobe has revealed Flash 10.1 for Android-based mobile devices [Mashable], with the intent of showing Steve Jobs he’s wrong, that Flash can work smoothly on mobile phones [BusinessWeek]. Jobs’ issues with Flash is that it’s slow, power hungry, not touchscreen-enabled, and would cause mobile apps to crash. Now if they succeed in proving their point, and Jobs’ does rescind his ban, it still might be a year before iPhone OS devices get Flash, if ever. (Rumor is that Apple Mac computers will also stop supporting Adobe Flash, which is a serious disappointment to me as an Apple products owner and tech evangelist. While the fact is that Flash does crash regularly on both my PC and Mac, I’d still like the choice to view Flash-enabled Web sites, considering Hulu has yet to adopt the HTML5/ H.264 video format.)

Google’s Sergey Brin: Web and Native Mobile Apps Will Converge

logo-Google-io2010logo-300wGoogle is one of those few companies who can play the field when it comes to positioning themselves with apps for both Web and mobile platforms, but still believes that the two will converge and that essentially the Web will win. Hence, the company is putting efforts into not only their Android Marketplace but their new Chrome Web Store.

While some people feel that Google is competing with itself by promoting both the Chrome and Android app stores, the company said at Google I/O this week that it believes it’s keeping an open mind about the future. Google Co-founder Sergey Brin admits that right now the market wants native mobile apps, though with the progress of the HTML5 standard in terms of display graphics, and with Web apps capable of going offline, he feels that Web and native mobile apps will converge in the not too distant future.

Ultimately, at least for Google, Android will morph into Chrome OS. But before this can happen, it’ll take more powerful smartphones with larger resolution screens and the fleshing out the HTML5 standard.

Want to discuss a mobile Web or native mobile app for your business or projects? Feel free to contact us to discuss your app or mobile campaign needs.

Mobomo Mobisphere Roundup — May 17, 2010

flickr-globe-300w-croppedAccording to an ABI Research report, one billion people will have 4G cellular coverage by 2012. That’s compared to the just under 500M people who had coverage by year end 2009. [Via Softpedia]

It’s happened: According to the New York Times, cellphones are now used more for their data connection than for phone calls. Now that’s very interesting, considering that other statistics show that cellphones outnumber home phones, at least in the USA. So how are people making phone calls these days? Is anyone still talking, or does everyone chat through IM apps?

If you’re a TV fanatic to the point that you have a Hauppauge TV tuner card or external box for your computer, you can now use their WinTV v7.2 app’s Extend feature to stream TV content to your iPhone/ iPod Touch/ iPad device. Note that the app is not free, checking in at a price of US$9.95. [Hauppauge via SolSie] I have used an older Hauppauge external box to grab TV via coaxial cable, but not their newer devices which can capture analog (NTSC) and digital (ATSC, QAM) over-the-air channels. Hauppage devices also work with the Orb content streaming Web service, which allows you to watch live and recorded TV anywhere from almost any web-enabled device. Though you will have to leave your computer on. Note: Some Hauppauge TV tuners only work on Win PCs.

AT&T is now offering a Palm Pre Plus phone that’s very similar to Verizon’s, with the exception of a SIM card slot for AT&T’s version. (Verizon runs on CDMA and thus their Pre Plus has no SIM card.) Not sure yet if AT&T will offer tethering via the Mobile Hotspot ability that Verizon now offers for free (which used to be $40/month). They don’t offer tethering for the iPhone — which is what led me to buy the Palm Pre Plus in the first plus — but if I’m not mistaken, do offer it for select Android devices. Now while the AT&T version is more expensive than the Verizon version, you do get a Touchstone charger for free. PocketNow has a video review of the phone.

Image: Flickr.

iPhone As Car Remote

The Nissan Leaf is an electric car that’ll be getting an iPhone app with two initial features: letting you know when it’s all charged up, and allowing you to control the in-car climate. It’ll be interesting to see what comes next for the app, but there are a whole host of possibilities, including using paying for parking, finding the car easily in large parking lots, and much more.

Now if Apple goes ahead and adds NFC (Near-Field Communication, a close cousin to RFID) chips to the next generations of iPhones — which some recent patents hint at — there are additional possibilities, including being able to lock and unlock your car with your iPhone, and maybe even remote starting, for those colder days.

In short, the iPhone becomes a car remote control unit. Unfortunately, all the computerized features in cars today mean hacker attacks on your car might increase in the future, and smartphone integration aids the proces.

Nissan is not the only car maker with iPhone integration in the works, though Ford was recently told it’ll have to wait a year to get the necessary communications chip from Apple, for it’s Sync system.

[Via: MobileCrunch]

Hybrid Smartphones: Android on iPhone Devices?

Sounds crazy, but a couple of mobile developers have managed to successful port the Google Android mobile OS to iPhone devices. One of them even has a dual-booting system, and should be releasing a version for iPod Touch. The only drawback is that you’d have to do something to your mobile device that Apple says is a no no: jailbreak it. But the experiments developers have been doing on iPhone OS devices, including iPad, just goes to show that Apple is dumbing down the capabilities, but for what purpose, I’m not sure. Why have a device with certain features that most owners will never access? Or is it a way for Apple to test what people might want in the future, since jailbreakers tend to be extremely tech savvy power users, whose activities hint at desirable features?

[Via: The Next Web]

Send in the (Apple iPad) Clones

Apple-iPad-300wEven if you have no interest in Apple’s new iPad tablet computer, you probably can’t get away from news about it, so you probably already know that it’s pretty hard to get your hands on one, even in the United States. International availability will be done in phases, and it seems the date keeps getting pushed forwards, making a longer wait. But if you’re not sold on the iPad, there’ll be a number of competitors offering similar devices, and probably fairly quickly.

Currently, no less than Sony, Google, Nokia, RIM and BT (British Telecom), are considering releasing an iPad competitor, according to various online sources. Dell’s Streak tablet (5″, 7″, 10″ versions) will be out fairly soon, especially in Europe. HP just bought Palm and seemingly scrapped their Windows 7 tablet project shortly afterwards. I wouldn’t be surprised if they soon have a tablet with Palm WebOS out in the future. And of course there are a while slew of other companies with tablet devices already out, including Fusion Garage’s JooJoo and Aigo’s N700.

Get Ready For A Mobile App Usage Explosion

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The NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics), a CDC sub agency that uses telephone surveys for data gathering, has determined that nearly 25% of American homes have no landline, only wireless phones. As well, 15% of American homes have landline phones but don’t usually use them. These and other related mobile statistics are available in a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report [PDF, 17 pgs; via Reuters].

Now as early as 2006, there have been reports about how many N. Americans were tending towards wireless phones over landlines. What this essentially means is that smartphone ownership will continue to increase as “dumb” mobile phone usage decreases. Thus, too, the number of people using mobile applications will increase — which is in line with predictions that the mobile platform in general will become the predominant distribution channel for software applications. With tons of new smartphones offering great new features, like the rumored next-gen iPhone, that’s even more likely to be true.

So if you own a business, you should at least be aware of what mobile marketing or even a custom mobile application can do for your bottom line. Feel free to contact us to discuss your mobile apps or mobile campaign needs.

Image: Flickr.

Does an Apple iPad Replace a Laptop or Netbook?

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For the sake of usability testing alone, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with my iPad, taking it with me whenever I leave the house. Since it’s a WiFi-only model, I also take my Palm Pre Plus phone for it’s Mobile Hotspot tethering feature, in case there’s no WiFi wherever I’m going to be. While I have done “in the field” testing all that extensively since Apr 3rd (the day iPads were first available), I have found that the iPad is definitely not a laptop or even a netbook replacement, but for what it does do, it does quite well.

Yes, there are a number of limitations that the current iPad has, but app and OS limitations will eventually be dealt with, and it probably won’t cost much if anything to upgrade. (Though there are rumors that iPads will only be allowed one free major OS upgrade.) Hardware limitations are a different story, but numerous sites are reporting their findings that the new iPad USB camera connection kit actually supports far more than cameras, including USB keyboards and even external hard drives. So some of the hardware limitations are being handled already, albeit often by third parties, not Apple.

Now until I do some more thorough usability testing, I don’t want to write too much about the pros and cons just yet. However, Michael Gartenberg of Altimeter Group carried just his iPad around for two weeks, and wrote over at Slashgear about his ten iPad lessons learned — much of which I’ve also found to be true. The most prominent feature is that the battery lasts so incredibly long, depending on your usage. (The drawback is that my Palm Pre Plus runs out of juice long beforehand, so I sometimes find myself without a wireless connection for the iPad, if I’m away from home the whole day or an entire weekend.)

While an iPad is not a replacement for a laptop or netbook for most people, it is still an amazing device that lets me take care of running my business while I’m away from my home office. For any tasks that it can’t do well, I reserve for a netbook that my wife otherwise uses, or for my MacBook Pro when I get home.

The iPad also has numerous other uses that just aren’t suited to netbooks and laptops, including being used as an inflight entertainment system, which Bluebox Avionics is doing. In fact, web video browsing was going to be one of the primary personal uses of my iPad, but iPad-enabled video content is still lagging. But for longer flights, with video content already loaded, the iPad could make for a great entertainment system. Sound quality especially via headphones is superb, and I say that even as a long-time audiophile. (It means more airlines could offer this extra without having to upgrade their airplanes, possibly reducing airfares?)

Still, For me, the iPad has been worth every cent, and that’s before I’ve even acid-tested it with my own custom apps — which are still a glimmer in my eye at the moment. It might be a relatively costly device, but for the workflow it offers and what it does well, it’s worth it.

If you’re interested in knowing more about what a custom iPhone or iPad app can do for your business, please contact us.

More iPad-Enabled Video Coming

In Apple’s latest “What is iPad?” commercial, there’s a claim of “all the world’s Web sites in your hands.” Of course, that’s hardly true, despite the big push by some video content providers to switch from Adobe Flash — which Apple refuses to support on iPhones and iPads, and possibly soon on Macs — to HTML5′s H.264 format, which Apple does support. The fact is, it’s not true that you have “all the world’s Web sites” on the iPad because I daily get frustrated at all the free TV shows I can’t watch on my iPad while lounging on the couch.

So how much video online uses H.264? All Things Digital quotes MeFeedia, a video search engine, who say that H.264 makes up only about 26% of online video content. However, TechCrunch quoted Encoding.com, who claim a figure of 66%, and blinkx, who claim 67%.

Eiteher way, these figures put the lie to Apple’s claim, but several TV broadcasters are claiming to be converting their online video content to be iPad-enabled, and other content providers are likely to follow suit. There may only be about a million iPads sold to date, but there mid-double digit millions of iPhones out there, and if a Verizon iPhone does in fact come out, many more millions of iPhones might sell to the increased consumer base. In other words, HTML5/ H.264 video content is a trend that will continue.