pbahra writes: "It was hard to avoid the message at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that Near Field Communication was to have its day. If you had the right phone you could bypass the entrance queues with an NFC-powered "badge" on your phone. The halls were strewed with NFC-powered "smart" posters that would unlock all manner of hidden secrets if you tapped them with your smartphone, from restaurant information to directions to the nearest restrooms. There were demonstrations that allowed you to play music on headphones, test if products were genuine or counterfeit, or that let you replace your car keys or your house keys with just your phone.
NFC has been a decade in the making, and has always been about to be "The Next Big Thing". It is a contactless radio technology that can transmit data between two devices within a few centimeters of each other. Coupled with a security chip to encrypt data, it promises to transform a wide range of consumer experiences. The key word there is "promise"."
pbahra writes: "Finally, the U.K. is going to get a 4G mobile-Internet service. For a country that was once at the cutting edge of mobile telephony, its lack of a high-speed mobile broadband was becoming a severe embarrassment. Everything Everywhere, Britain’s largest mobile network operator, has been granted permission by U.K. regulator Ofcom to provide next-generation LTE services as early as Sept. 11. Although Ofcom’s ruling is a significant step for the U.K.’s telecoms future, the choice of frequency — 1,800 MHz — means that devices that can take advantage of the much faster data speeds that LTE offers—theoretically up to 100 megabits a second—are limited. Currently the only significant market using the frequency is South Korea. While 1,800 MHz is in use in a small number of European countries, and in Australia, numbers of users are small in comparison to the U.S.. This means devices may be harder to get and cost more. So anyone who thinks their new iPad is going to zip along at 4G speeds is going to be disappointed; the new iPad only supports U.S. LTE frequencies. For the same reason, those hanging on for the new iPhone, expected to be announced on Sept. 12, in the hope that it will be LTE-compliant are unlikely to have good news. Even if there is a new iPhone, and even if it is LTE enabled, will it operate on Everything Everywhere’s frequency?"
pbahra writes: "What’s the difference between a smartphone and a feature phone? According to Mary McDowell, who is leading Nokia's feature phone charge in emerging markets, it's the fact that software applications can be written to run natively on the operating system. It’s a definition that average consumers likely don’t care about. Ms. McDowell is trying to blur that line with feature phones that surf the web and run applications (not natively on the OS) such as Facebook and WhatsApp. When asked why, she says it’s more about getting these consumers to pay a little bit more for their features phones—which help Nokia’s margins—and less about prepping people to trade up to smartphones. Nokia’s effort to “bring the Internet to the next billion” is an interesting strategy that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves."
pbahra writes: "Google Inc. agreed to acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. for about $12.5 billion in cash, a move that would make Google more competitive in the mobile-computing market. The deal, which comes just eight months after the split of Motorola Inc., would give Google control of Motorola Mobility's attractive patent portfolio after the Internet giant recently missed out on a bid for Nortel Networks Corp.'s portfolio. Google, which owns the fast-growing Android operating system used in millions of mobile phones, has a thin portfolio of wireless and telecommunications patents. Motorola Mobility shares soared 60% to $39.24 premarket, approaching the offer price of $40 a share, which is a 63% premium to Friday close. Google shares were down 3.2% to $546.50 premarket Monday. Google will run Motorola Mobility as a separate business that will remain a licensee of Android. Google also said Android will remain an open platform. Google expects to complete the transaction by early 2012, and it has been approved by the boards of both companies."
pbahra writes: Facebook could potentially be accessible by every GSM phone in the world, dramatically widening the social network’s global reach after the release of Facebook for SIM by the Amsterdam-based digital security firm Gemalto. According to the GSM Association, there are more than 5 billion GSM connections in the world. The latest subscriber figures for Facebook put it at over 500 million subscribers. The tiny application runs in the phone’s SIM card, rather than on the phone, and gives users access to all of the text-based services on Facebook, such as friend requests, status updates, wall posts or messages. It also offers unique functions: people can sign up for this service and log-in directly from the SIM application. Interactive Facebook messages pop-up on the phone’s screen so people can always share up-to-the-minute posts and events. Users can also automatically search their SIM phonebook for other friends and send them requests.
pbahra writes: LG Electronics Inc. unveiled the world's first full 3-D smartphone, called the Optimus 3D, as well as a new tablet at an event on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. With the Optimus 3D, consumers will be able to watch 3-D videos without wearing special glasses as well as capture 3-D content themselves via a special double camera on the back of the phone.In order to make it easier for consumers to share 3-D content online, LG said it has struck a partnership with online video channel YouTube, which is owned by Google Inc.The Optimus 3D is powered by a dual core chip—like most of the smartphones launched in 2011—but it also benefits from a dual channel and a dual memory, which LG said would make it faster for users to switch back and forth between tasks and improve speed when loading web pages. The Optimus runs on Google's Android operating system and has a 4.3-inch screen.
pbahra writes: The biggest surprise of the day was not Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s announcement of a love-in with Windows Phone 7, it was the appearance on-stage of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. That was a shock and a reflection of just how much is riding on this for the Redmond-based software giant. Microsoft may not have quite as much riding on this deal as Nokia, for whom this may be the last role of the dice, but they have certainly pinned their hopes to it. The biggest laugh of the day was reserved for the poor journalist from a website called “All About Symbian”. As the One analyst sitting next to me quipped, “better get a new job then”. Actually, the last laugh is his. He has already bought “All About Windows Phone”.
pbahra writes: The smart money was right. Nokia has jumped into bed with Microsoft and will produce phones running Windows Phone 7. The cynics would say that, here, we have two lumbering dinosaurs of the technology world clinging to each other hoping that the other gives them a future. Optimists would point to two companies that need each other, both bringing vital components to the alliance. The big winner is Microsoft. Windows Phone 7, while reasonably well received by commentators, has not set the world on fire. An alliance with Nokia gives it access to the world’s largest phone maker and its huge mindshare—in many developing nations a mobile phone is known as a Nokia. The biggest loser is MeeGo, the ugly, unloved step-child of operating systems.
pbahra writes: Just days before Nokia Corp. Chief Executive Stephen Elop is to reveal his plan for turning around the ailing handset maker, an internal memo penned by the executive describes a company besieged on all sides by competitors and in desperate need of a huge transformation. Comparing Nokia to a man standing on a burning oil platform who jumps into icy waters to escape the flames, Mr. Elop says dramatic action is needed to reverse a decline that has left the Finnish company "years behind" the competition.
pbahra writes: French mobile telephone infrastructure manufacturer Alacatel-Lucent today unveiled technology that shrinks a mobile cell tower to a box the size of a Rubik’s cube, potentially changing the structure of the cellular network, reducing greenhouse emissions and bringing mobile broadband into new areas. According to Wim Sweldens, president of wireless activities for Alcatel-Lucent, by reducing the technology from something the size of a filing cabinet, networks would reduce the total cost of ownership by half, as well as halving the global CO2 emissions from the mobile industry — currently equivalent of 15 million cars a year.
pbahra writes: Nokia looks increasingly alone in its support for the Symbian smartphone platform, even as the global handset market leader is launching new devices based on an upgraded version of the system, which should be better able to match rival software. Apart from Nokia, which builds most of its smartphones around Symbian, phone vendors like Samsung and Sony Ericsson have also made use of the open-source system in their devices. But these two have now put their Symbian development on hold, focusing instead on other platforms such as the ever more popular Android. Is this the beginning of the end for the Symbian mobile platform?