Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bringing smart phones to the masses

Smart phones, or phones that enable Web access and e-mail, are heading for the mass market.

Palm's new $99.99 Centro, the sleeker, hipper update to the business-centric Treo, is the latest example of a phone that provides all the data-centric features of a business device with the price point and design of a consumer phone.

"What we've known as the smart-phone market is quickly becoming just the cell phone market," said Iain Gillott, founder of iGillottResearch. "These phones used to cost $500 and $600. Some still do, but we're seeing more and more of them come down in price and targeted for consumers."

Traditionally, in the United States, the smart phone market has been dominated by Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices and Palm's Treo line of phones. Initially, these devices were thought of as corporate productivity tools allowing people to send and receive corporate e-mail.

While the corporate market is humming along quite nicely, carriers and cell phone makers also see huge potential in the mass market where teen-agers and even soccer moms, who want e-mail access and Web surfing on the go, could benefit from smart phones. Of the 213 million cell phones operating in the United States today, only about 4 percent of them are smart phones, according to market research firm M:Metrics.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nokia to sell $25,000 Ferrari phone

he luxury unit of Nokia has started selling a phone designed jointly with Ferrari for about 18,000 euros ($25,400) at its stores in London, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore, it said on Thursday.

The Vertu unit produced the Ascent Ferrari 60 phone to celebrate Ferrari's 60th anniversary.

"We worked very closely to develop this limited edition of 60 phones. Detailing on the phone is inspired by detailing on a number of Ferrari cars," said Vertu spokeswoman Elizabeth Maragh.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Apple to zap hacked iPhones

Apple has warned iPhone owners who have used unauthorised programs to unlock the cellular service feature of their handsets that they may end up with a phone that doesn't work after the company's next software update for it.

Since the iPhone debuted in June, hackers have posted a number of methods online to make it possible to use the iPhone on cellular networks other than AT&T, which is the exclusive official carrier for the iPhone.

The news will come as a blow to scores of Australian iPhone enthusiasts who have brought the $US399 phones out to Australia and hacked them so that they can work on local mobile networks.

Apple executives say they have discovered that many of those unauthorised unlocking programs cause some software damage to iPhones.

Now, a software update that Apple plans to issue later this week that will add features such as accessibility to the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store may end up making the touch-screen mobile phone completely inoperable if it has been hacked into.

"This has nothing to do with proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in an interview.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nokia 6301 handset

Nokia 6301 handsetNokia recently launched the Nokia 6301 handset, which allows seamless use between GSM and WLAN networks through Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology.

The candybar form factor phone weighs 93 grams and measures less than 13.1mm. It features a 2-megapixel camera with 8x digital zoom and full screen viewfinder.

The handset has a 2-inch QVGA screen, 30MB of internal memory with support for up to 4GB microSD cards in addition to an integrated hands-free speaker, MP3 player and FM radio functions.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Orange to Sell Apple's IPhone in France

France Telecom will start marketing Apple Inc.'s million-selling iPhone in France through its wireless arm Orange.

Thursday's announcement came days after Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs visited Britain and Germany to unveil similar deals with mobile operator O2 and Deutsche Telekom AG.

The iPhone, a combined cell phone-iPod media player that also can wirelessly access the Internet, will go on sale in all three countries in November — in time for the holiday season.

The latest deal was announced by France Telecom CEO Didier Lombard during a conference in Hanoi.

Apple said last week that it had sold 1 million iPhones in the United States in the first 74 days it was on sale, shortly after slashing the price by a third. The iPhone debuted in the United States on June 29, with service exclusively through AT&T Inc.

France Telecom will be counting on the popular iPhone to raise sales, boosting its share of the cell phone market. Jobs said Tuesday his goal was to sell 10 million iPhones in 2008, representing 1 percent of the global handset market.

Officials with Orange would not say how much the phone will cost in France.

Consumers in Britain will pay 269 pounds ($536) for the 8-gigabyte model — or about $139 more than what Apple charges in the United States. In Germany the phone will cost 399 euros ($553). Both European price tags include value-added tax.

The company cut the 8-gigabyte iPhone to $399, from $599, and discontinued the $499 4-gigabyte version. It apologized to those who had paid full price and offered $100 credits to early buyers.

Nokia Unleashes First Unlicensed Mobile Access Cell Phone.

Nokia, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones, on Thursday unveiled the world’s first phone that can provide voice calls both over conventional GSM networks as well as via wireless local area networks (WLANs). While the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology deserves applauds, its wide adoption is under question as it does not has obvious benefits to end-users.

The new Nokia 6301 cell phone can boast with stainless steel frame, 2” 320x240 pixels screen, 30MB of internal memory, built-in MP3 player, FM radio, microSD card slot, support for GSM 900, 1800 and 1900 networks and other peculiarities of a business-oriented cell phone. The Nokia 6301 weighs 93 grams and measures less than 13.1mm thin. The Nokia 6301 comes with an attractive desk stand, the Nokia Desk Stand DT-23, to hold the phone and keep its battery charged while connected to WLAN. The main feature of the device is support for the so-called Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology.

UMA technology makes it possible for users to seamlessly roam and handover between wireless local area networks (Wi-Fi) and wide area networks (such as GSM) using the same dual-mode device. Instead of constantly communicating with a base station, UMA allows the phone to also make calls through WLAN internet networks, provided that those networks are capable of establishing secure IP connection through a gateway to a server called a general access network controller (GANC) on the carrier’s network.

Nokia claims that with UMA technology ensures excellent indoor coverage both at office and home as WLAN/UMA provides excellent coverage and sound quality even in areas where mobile phone reception has previously been poor. Besides, UMA benefits operators as well, allowing them to deliver voice and data services to subscribers over WLAN, substantially increasing mobile service availability while decreasing the costs related to network deployment.

Orange will be one of the first operators to offer the Nokia 6301, as part of its Unik/Unique portfolio.

“The Nokia 6301 is a stylish new addition to our Unik range of converged fixed and mobile phones. Orange’s Unik offer brings together the convenience of a single phone and tariff at home and on the move and the widest range of UMA handsets. The Nokia 6301, with its sleek candy bar design and attractive stainless steel exterior adds to the appeal of Unik for Orange customers,” said Yves Maitre, senior vice president of devices, Orange.

The Nokia 6301 is expected to begin shipping to select markets in Europe during the fourth quarter of 2007 with an estimated retail price of €230 before subsidies or taxes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Google Gphone still on the way, say sources

Google will definitely launch its own-brand handset but has yet to finalize the handset's specifications, OS, production contractor and operating partners, according to sources at Taiwan handset makers.

Although market rumors previously stated that Google is likely to use an EDGE solution developed by Texas Instruments (TI) for its planned handset, recent developments indicate that Google is also evaluating the possibility of launching a 3G handset initially.

TI's handset chipsets will find their way into the Google phone should the company decide to roll out an EDGE-compliant handset, but Qualcomm could turn out to be the winner if Google decides to bet on a 3G model, the sources noted.

However, the choice of a 3G platform might force Google to postpone the launch of the so-called Gphone to the first half of 2008 instead of the latter half of this year as expected due to the change of platform and problems related to licensing of patented technologies, the sources indicated.

High Tech Computer (HTC), meanwhile, is being marked as the manufacturing contractor for the Gphone due to the company's expertise in ODM and brand business and its mutual cooperation with a number of telecom carriers worldwide, said the sources.

Google may also try to launch a handset running on a self-developed OS, to compete with Windows Mobile and Symbian platforms, the sources speculated.