Tag Archives | Smartphones

Full-Fledged Flash on Smartphones. Most of Them, Anyhow…

Mobile World CongressIt’s tempting to crack a joke about “Skip Intro” coming soon to a smartphone near you. But seriously, this is good news: Here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Adobe is announcing that it plans to bring Flash Player to phones running the Windows Mobile, Android, and Symbian Series 60 operating systems, as well as Palm’s upcoming Web OS, in 2010. This is supposed to be full-fledged Flash, not the slimmed-down “Flash Lite” technology that’s been on phoned for years and which has failed to make any impact at all.

Say what you will about Flash, it’s unquestionably a significant component of today’s “real Web,” and I’ve spent enough time being frustrated by its absence that I’m anxious to see how it translates onto a tiny screen. Even though the one significant platform that isn’t part of Adobe’s announcement today is the one I use most often: Apple’s iPhone. [UPDATE: Er, one of two–BlackBerry isn’t part of the announcement either.] Adobe still says it’s working on Flash for the iPhone, but that it’s really up to Apple to decide whether we get it. Which it is, as long as the App Store is the only viable iPhone distribution channel…


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Do You Think This is Sony Ericsson’s Answer to the iPhone? Idou!

iDou

I’m in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest show on phones and other things wireless and portable, and while the conference doesn’t get underway until tomorrow, the town is already bristling with parties and product launches. I attended Sony Ericsson’s bash, at which it unveiled a new Walkman phone called the W995 and a “just one more thing” which is code-named Idou. The latter (which I keep wanting to spell iDou) won’t show up until sometime in the second half of this year, and it’s an iPhone-like critter with a 3.5-inch touch screen, an emphasis on entertainment, and–this feature isn’t the least bit iPhone-like–a 12.1-megapixel camera with flash.

The Idou (which will be called something else when it appears) runs the next-generation open-source version of the Symbian OS, and part of an initiative Sony Ericsson calls “Entertainment Unlimited”–the details of which it was vague about, except to say that it represents “the true fusion of communication and entertainment.” Other than that, the company wasn’t talking much about specs and features tonight. (No word on whether the interface is multi-touch–a S-E rep called it “full touch.)  After the jump, one photo by me of a Sony Ericsson exec onstage, just to prove I was there, and some beauty shots provided by the company.

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Nokia Cuts R&D, Production

Singing the macro-economic woes, Finnish telecommuncations giant Nokia has decided to cut production and to close one of its R&D sites. Ultimately, the company has failed to capitalize on the strength of the smartphone market.

Nokia is reducing production at its plant in Salo, Finland, and has begun to phase in furlough days that will affect 20 to 30% of the plant’s 2,500 employees, on a rotational basis. The company is also shuttering its facility in Jyvaskyla, Finland, costing 320 people their jobs.

Nokia told investors in January that it expects cell phone demand to fall 10 percent in 2009. However, it managed to increase its share of the worldwide mobile market in 2008 even while demand was weakened by lowered consumer confidence, according to a September 5 report by Nordic Business Report. It experienced a 69 percent drop in its 2008 fourth-quarter net profit.

In many markets, Nokia’s sales grew–it’s the U.S. market that has remained its albatross. RCR Wireless News reported in July that Nokia claimed 40% of the market in 2008, and its sales were particularly strong in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, and Middle East.

The company is relying upon high-end smartphones to help them cope with economic crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported in a December interview with Jonas Geust, vice president of Nokia Nseries unit. The smart phone market is growing, but Nokia is not a benefiting much. It is losing out to fierce competition from Apple and Research In Motion.

It seems counterintuitive for Nokia to cut its expenses when its most advanced devices are failing to sell. The 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia’s initial answer to the iPhone, lacked multitouch capabilities. That should have been an indication that it needed to invest more, not less. I don’t see how a move away from innovation is good for customers.


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5Words for February 10th, 2009

5wordsNot that much happening, apparently….

Windows 7 beta getting yanked.

The Dalai Lama wasn’t tweeting.

Google wants to read meters.

Another prediction of $99 iPhones.

iTunes gets digital Marvel comics.

Apple nixed Android multi-touch?

Microsoft’s ten thousandth patent granted.

Kaspersky’s customer database gets exposed.

Archos announces Android Internet tablet.

Sega cuts jobs, closes arcades.


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A Zune Phone? Yes, Apparently. But Not From Microsoft

Zune LogoZune phones are likely on their way, but don’t expect them to be produced by Microsoft, Mary-Jo Foley is reporting. Instead, Microsoft will be attempting reproduce the success of its PC business by providing devices makers with reference designs to use to build their own devices

In November, I wrote that rumors that Microsoft was planning to announce a Microsoft-branded, enterainment-centric phone at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona were plausible. My rationale was that its acquisition of Danger Inc. and positioning of executive talent into its Entertainment and Devices division was an indication that it had something up its sleeve. While I still refuse to rule out that Microsoft could release its own device, that “something” is probably far less ambitious than I originally conceived.

Foley wrote that Microsoft wants to create a ‘best of breed’ Zune device by pitting smartphone makers against one another. She also reports that Microsoft’s upcomoming Zune-branded services, code-named “Pink,” “Skybox,” and “SkyMart,” will be its contribution to the user experience.

That is a better fit with Microsoft’s existing business model. It acquired the underpinning for its Zune services from Danger, and needs to provide strong Zune-branded services to have any hopes of all at competing with Apple’s iPhone juggernaut. I expect to see the fittest of Microsoft partners showcasing their Zune offerings in the near future.


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Microsoft Patent Transforms Smartphones into PCs

Watchful eyes have caught a Microsoft patent application for a souped-up smartphone cradle that displaces the PC for connecting to networks, peripherals ,and storage. Smartphones have become nearly as powerful as desktop computers were just a few years ago, and it makes sense for Microsoft to leverage their capabilities in an innovative new way.

The docking cradle plays PC and interfaces between smartphones and peripherals, handling drivers on the smartphone’s behalf and interpreting commands sent to and from it. To accomplish that task, the cradle has an embedded operating system, and contains its own CPU and memory.

If Microsoft were to try and turn this patent into a product, has several options to choose from for the cradle’s embedded OS. In one bucket, there is the Windows XP embedded family, and Windows CE 6.0 based offerings in the other. That does not include Microsoft’s .NET Micro Framework, which is developed by a separate product group.

In my view, the cradle could serve as an onramp for the Windows ecosystem, and entice laggards that would otherwise be reluctant to buy a computer to invest in a smartphone. It would also advance portability, because anyone with a compatible smartphone could conceivably dock their devices with the cradle and be up and running within minutes. Personal preferences and files could also be synchronized via Web services.

Should Microsoft follow through, it might create its own cradle, but will probably license the design out to hardware partners. The latter strategy would allow for a variety of phones to be supported.

Microsoft Patent


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Palm Posts Its Pre-View

Palm PrePalm has posted an online video of the press conference it held on Thursday at CES to unveil its Pre smartphone. I’m glad I was able to attend the event in person, but the video is arguably a superior way to get a sneak peek at the Pre: You can watch it in the comfort of your own home, don’t have to spring for airfare to Las Vegas and a hotel room, and don’t have to trudge past 15,000 miles of slot machines at the Venetian before you can see it…


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Eight Random Things I Learned About the Palm Pre Today

Palm Pre

I’m still running around Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, and this time I made time to pay Palm’s meeting room a visit to get a closer look at the company’s radically new Pre phone. It looked at least as good close up as at yesterday’s big press event: It’s strikingly smaller than the iPhone, and more elegant than you’d expect given the need to fit in the slide-out keyboard.

Since I’d seen and enjoyed yesterday’s demo and checked out Palm’s specs page, I mostly used my face time with Palm to ask about questions which neither addressed, as far as I could remember.

Here’s what I learrned:

–It doesn’t have iPhone-style visual voicemail.

–It doesn’t have voice dialing.

–It doesn’t have a voice recorder.

–There’s no compatibility with PalmOS apps, although Palm will work with developers to help them move to the new platform, and it’s not unthinkable that a third party might create an emulator for old apps.

–It provides on-phone access to Amazon’s MP3 download store for DRM-free music purchases.

–It’ll come with a new version of DataViz’s Documents to Go for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF work.

–Only the Web browser and the photo browser support landscape-mode display; the video player is landscape only.

–Like the iPhone, it has a proximity sensor that it uses to shut off the screen when you hold the phone to your ear to make a call.


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Palm’s Spectacular Hail Mary: Pre Smartphone and WebOS Operating System

I’m going to have lots more to say about the demo of Palm’s upcoming Pre smartphone and WebOS that just ended here at CES in Las Vegas in a bit–but for now I’ll just link you to Ryan Block’s coverage at GDGT and share some photos I took. The device looks very impressive and the OS looks exceptional, and neither is an iPhone knockoff. It’s very dangerous to get too excited about a product based on a demo–and Palm is only saying the Pre will ship in the first half of this year (on Sprint). But this is by far the most impressive Palm demo I’ve seen since I first saw the original PalmPilot in 1995. If the Pre lives up to its unveiling today, it’s not hard to imagine being a huge hit and the beginning of a mobile platform that matters as much as the original Palm OS did in its day.

Photos after the jump…

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