Monday 9 March 2009

Joggler or Post-it?

O2 has recently released a family friendly touchscreen tablet which can act as a replacement for the post it notes many of us leave on the fridge door to communicate with our family members.

The following is from O2's website:

Managing family life can be a struggle. Introducing the O2 Joggler, a new device designed to help organise your family life a little better. Think of it as your new fridge door.

The fridge door has always done its best to organise family life. From birthdays to sports days, from pianos lessons to parents' evenings - it's all there. Somewhere.

The O2 Joggler works with an interactive online calendar and your mobile phone so every family member will know who needs to be where by when. O2 numbers even get text message reminders. Much more than an interactive calendar, the O2 Joggler runs a number of family-friendly applications to support family life and keep your family in the loop, including:
  • Includes up-to-the-minute news, sport, traffic and weather updates
  • View and load music, videos and photos
  • Let everyone in your selected family group know what's going on and who's doing what with your shared O2 Calendar. Set up and update events and, if you are on O2, you can send text reminders to your chosen O2 phone numbers.
  • View and load your photos from a USB memory stick which can be inserted into the side of your O2 Joggler. You can save your favourite photos on your O2 Joggler and display them as a slide show on the screen.
  • Challenge yourself to a game of Japanese Sudoku.
  • Store and watch your favourite videos.

The seven-inch touchscreen device connects wirelessly or via Ethernet cable to home broadband, meaning no SIM is required – and therefore there’s no additional monthly cost. It features a calendar to store appointments and deadlines, and will send text messages as reminders.

While the device can be used by anyone regardless of which network they’re on, the Joggler will only sent info to O2 mobiles – so Junior won’t get the reminder if he’s on Orange, T-Mobile or any other network. For O2 customers, their Joggler will be able to send 50 free text messages a month.

The oddly-named Joggler will be available from early April, for £149.99 or free for O2 customers if taken instead of a handset upgrade. Corporate customers will not be allowed to upgrade to the Joggler, so they'll have to pay out to get one.

Somehow I am not convinced if this device will be popular big time though its failure can easily be blamed on the current financial crisis. Somehow the features remind me of Femtozone services and maybe the Femto application developers can include some features from this into their Femtozone apps :)

Saturday 7 March 2009

LTE can get us out from the current recession

Hello everybody. Just in case you guys thinking where I am then I can tell you that I just returned back from my holiday last week.

Everybody is aware how the market situation is getting worse and there is no doubt it has started affecting the telecomm companies as well.

One of the major doubts I have been carrying from the past few weeks was, what will happen to LTE now after seeing the worsening state of the economy.

As I have mentioned in my previous blogs that the companies are toying with idea of considering HSPA+ as one of the option in case they can’t afford LTE in the current climate.

However I firmly believe that the success of LTE is very important not only for people like me but for the industry as well.

I think with WiMax loosing its grip it’s a very good opportunity for the telecomm giants to leapfrog the competition and work feverishly towards the launch of LTE.

The early signs are that LTE is getting a go ahead from most and the mobile industry is really pushing LTE

It is estimated that there will more than 50 million mobile users by the end of 2013. With the no of users growing at a rapid pace in India and china and other Asian countries these numbers sounds reasonable enough.

This growth rate would be remarkable given that the original standardization and specification process for Long Term Evolution (LTE) aka '4G' only envisages commercial deployment in the 2011-2012 timeframe. It would appear that the mobile industry is once again doing what it does best, overhyping new technology whilst it is still in development.

I suppose in the current climate the only excitement is that the announcements about LTE are arriving almost daily, each more positive than the next.

CDMA operator Verizon Wireless has already announced its intention to migrate its network to LTE, Motorola plans to focus on LTE, perhaps at the expense of WiMAX and so it goes on.

Recently T-Mobile step up the pressure on equipment vendors, when it stated it will not deploy HSPA+ to further boost its mobile broadband throughput but will instead skip this technical evolution and invest in LTE.

And now the news is that Nokia is affirming it’s commitment to LTE and says that it would have device for LTE networks by 2010.

Nokia affirmed its commitment to Long Term evolution (LTE) technology and said it would have devices for LTE networks in 2010, according to a company executive. By doing this Nokia in my view is dismissing WiMAX as a 4G standard. I believe one of the major reasons why Nokia might be thinking that way is because of WiMax’s lack of backwards compatibility and an unclear roadmap.

I hope all this news regarding LTE materializes and kicks off a nice decade ahead. However only time will tell whether the LTE hype is justified or if the mobile industry is about to get another dash of cold reality.

Blog: Advanced C++ with examples

This has nothing to do with Mobiles or 3G and 4G but for lots of people who get involved in different C++ coding and reviewing, etc. Here is the link to the blog:

Friday 6 March 2009

SMS hailed as enablers of next-generation offerings

Text services make money and complement new rich services, says new research.

The study, conducted by Direct2Mobile found that mobile operators believe SMS will become the enabler that underpins next generation offerings, with all those surveyed claiming they are developing their messaging infrastructure in order to introduce new value-added services.

Of all the services cited, mobile social networking and mobile applications lead the way with 75 per cent of operators expecting to invest in them over the next 12 months. Mobile broadband is not far behind with 65 per cent expecting to make investments over the next 12 months, closely followed by location-based services, IM/presence and the mobile internet (which 50 per cent of operators stated would be a priority for the 12 months ahead).

Jay Seaton, CMO at Airwide Solutions, said: “Revenues from SMS have become a substantial and strategic income stream for mobile operators worldwide. However, recent market changes are placing an ever greater pressure on operators to deliver new and richer services that will not only complement voice and text services but also boost ARPU and help improve market share.”

Thursday 5 March 2009

Networks may have to bundle Femtocells along with contract phones

"Tom Prescott, 32, took Orange to court after they refused to cancel his 18- month contract, even though he could not get a signal either at his Richmond home or in his office. "I felt bullied by the company, and dealing with Orange was awful. I hope people who have the same problem now realise they can do something about it."

Tom Prescott took his phone network (Orange) to court and won £500 for "lack of signal" in his home, there will be a sense of greater urgency in the industry.

The attitude of other mobile operators wasn't likely to be very different - before the lawsuit, anyway. If you complain that a call got dropped, and expect to be taken seriously, then you're mad. Most companies would have taken Orange's attitude: "Coverage is outside our control."

The Court disagreed. It said that if you sell an 18 month contract to a victim who neither lives nor works in an area where you can provide coverage, then it really is your problem, not theirs.

The trouble is, 3G phone technology simply doesn't work well enough for them to be able to fix the problem. Very simply, if the phone mast is blocked by brick or concrete walls, then very little of a 3G wireless signal will get through.

That was Prescott's problem: he couldn't make calls, and he couldn't receive calls. So naturally, he asked for his money back. Orange took the view that if the phone worked, and the network was in place, and if he could actually use the phone out in the street, then they'd done all anybody could expect. So they refused - an error of judgement commercially, but a complete disaster in PR terms.

And all operators are staring at the same disaster, if they don't change their business habits.

Not just one or two phone users have the problem; in some areas, claims of providing coverage are close to fraudulent. They can get away with it if the old 2G GSM network provides backup coverage, of course. But after this, even that may be called into question.

We know how to solve the problem. Simply, 3G operators have to put a private mast into your home. These are very small mobile phone cells. Smaller than microcells, smaller even than picocells, they are called femtocells. They are limited to short range: inside the building, and perhaps the gardens.

Question: who will provide your femtocell? Orange? Cingular? Clearwire? France Telecom?

Wrong Answer: "If I provide the customer's femtocell, they'll have to use my service! They'll never be able to switch! Muhahahaha!"

Better answer: "'s going to cost us, but we have to make sure that this mini-mast works with any phone. Otherwise, nobody is going to see any point in using it."

Best Answer: "We have to change roaming regulations! The whole business model needs radical reform, so that we do NOT create logjams for our customers."

Here's the problem, rather neatly summarised by consultant Dean "Disruptive" Bubley: "These operators are living in a dream world of one operator per household. It isn't going to be true even of single people living alone."

Most households have phones from several operators.

The teenagers have friends on the same network, so that they can have free SMS texting chats together. Tell them "use another network" and have your face eaten off. It's not the money (they'll say) - "That network isn't cool."

The parents often have phones provided by employers (no choice there). And
there are "private" lines which they use because they always have. "Everybody knows that number," they say.

Yes, you can move a number from one network to another. No, it isn't a picnic. And anyway "why should I?" is the common response.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

More mobile broadband ... with WiMAX this time

An interactive, online map by the WiMAX Forum and Informa Telecoms & Media’s World Cellular Information Service (WCIS) offers information on the many WiMAX deployments across the globe. Click here to access the map.

With investments already made into WiMAX, the wireless broadband technology will be able to withstand the current economic downturn in a year that will see some additional network deployments, according to the WiMAX Forum.

Because of the current economic climate, WiMAX providers are not being as aggressive with network deployments, but the forum estimates at least 100 more operators will launch commercial services this year.

The Forum says WiMAX now covers 430 million people or POPS, globally and are on a path to nearly double to 800 million people by end of 2010 and explode to 18 million by 2012. In-Stat forecasts LTE will have 23 million subscribers by 2013, but nearly 82 million mobile PCs with WiMax will ship in 2013.

So far, Mobile WiMAX is being offered in just two cities, Baltimore and Portland, Ore. On March 5th, Clearwire will announce which cities will be added next in the United States. Another nine cities are expected to roll out this year.

According to research firm In-Stat, WiMAX will continue to outpace LTE over the next few years and the technologies will take different paths. Verizon Wireless is expected to launch LTE commercially sometime next year but most operators will wait until 2011 or 2012.

Meanwhile, the WiMAX forum says there will be 100 certified products on the market this year, growing to 1,000 by 2011. The forum also expects growth to continue in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa.

More than half the world now uses mobile phones

A UN report this week showed that more than half the global population now pay to use one.

The survey, by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the UN, also found that nearly a quarter of the world's 6.7 billion people use the internet.

But it is the breathtaking growth of cellular technology that is doing more to change society, particularly in developing countries where a lack of effective communications infrastructure has traditionally been one of the biggest obstacles to economic growth.

By the end of last year there were an estimated 4.1bn mobile subscriptions, up from 1bn in 2002. That represents six in 10 of the world's population, although it is hard to make a precise calculation about how many people actually use mobile phones.

Africa is the continent with the fastest growth, where penetration has soared from just one in 50 people at the turn of the century to 28%.

Much of the take-up is thought to have been driven by money transfer services that allow people without bank accounts to send money speedily and safely by text messages, which the recipient - typically a family member - can cash in at the other end. Vodafone's M-Pesa money transfer service was launched in Kenya in 2007 and now has 5 million users.

The ITU report points to the Gambia, where mobile subscriptions have rocketed amid stiff competition among mobile operators. Out of almost a million telephone subscribers, there are more than 800,000 mobile subscriptions but only about 50,000 fixed telephone lines in service.
Developing countries now account for about two-thirds of the mobile phones in use, compared with less than half of subscriptions in 2002.

The adoption of mobile technology has outstripped the growth of fixed-line connections, which rose from 1bn to 1.3bn over the same period, with market penetration stuck just below 20% for some years.

The figures demonstrate that many people in the developing world are bypassing the older technology altogether.

In the developed world, many people use more than one mobile device, with subscriptions exceeding population by 11% in Europe.

On the other hand, a single mobile phone may have several users in poorer countries, where handsets are sometimes shared or rented out by their owners.
The report also recorded a marked increase in internet use, which more than doubled from 11% of people using the net in 2002 to 23% last year.

Here the report identified a clear gap between the rich and poor world: fewer than one in 20 Africans went online in 2007, for instance, and less than 15% in Asia, whereas Europe and the Americas recorded penetration of 43% and 44% respectively.

Across the world just 5% of people have broadband internet at home, although this rises to 20% in the developed world.

Sweden was the world's most advanced country in the use of information and communications technology, in an index of 154 countries that took various factors into account such as access to computers and literacy levels.

South Korea and Denmark were placed second and third in the list, while the UK was ranked 10th.

Mobile phones have changed Congo irrevocably, especially Goma. The country has only about 20,000 land lines after the system collapsed under Mobutu Sese Seko's ruinous dictatorship.

Now traders shipping imports to distant towns, farmers sending produce to the main cities, and those involved in the thriving gold and diamond smuggling trade use their phones to check prices, text quotes and arrange deliveries. Women who once sold roasted corn by the roadside now make a living dealing in mobile top-up cards and recharging flat phone batteries in a town where much of the population doesn't have electricity.

"Everyone but the very poor has a cell phone," said Mukeba. "Even the guy who only makes a few dollars a day picking up passengers on his bike. Even the woman selling things by the roadside. Almost everyone finds the money."

Cell phones have helped transform Goma in other ways. The town's economic boom of recent years has been fuelled by war and plunder, particularly of the rich mines in eastern Congo. Among them are diamonds and gold but also coltan, a rare but crucial element in mobile phones.
The small fortunes to be made by mining it sent tens of thousands digging for black mud and attracted criminal syndicates and foreign armies. "It all came at once," said Mukeba. "War, cell phones, dollars. Some people are getting very, very rich and everyone is making a little bit of money."

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Nokia to offer Netbooks soon

According to Electric Pig:

A Nokia netbook is in the works, Nokia’s CEO has confirmed, ending months of speculation that the mobile giant could be entering the netbook market.

Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo has finally broken silence on the subject of a Nokia netbook, admitting, “we are looking very actively [at] this opportunity,” when asked if Nokia has plans to enter the laptop business.

So, a Nokia netbook is on the cards then, taking what Nokia does best in the mobile arena - cheap, powerful operating systems, tiny technology and net connectivity, and wading in to battle with the likes of the Asus Eee PC range with its own Nokia netbook.

The announcement comes just a week after Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where PC makers including Acer, HP and Lenovo unveiled new smartphone offerings, muscling in on what Nokia sees as its territory.

It is still too early to predict when Nokia will roll out its Netbooks or its UMPC but already news sites have started speculating about the death of Eee PC's and how Nokia Laptops will rule.

ARM’s multi-core Sparrow chip has just been announced last week, and Nokia is already working on it’s first compact mobile computer with some blow-out specs, running Linux OS on this CPU. But don’t get your hopes up – this Nokia device is slated only for 2011 release.

The design of Nokia Sparrow device does not follow the current netbook trend, going more the MID way, with some passing resemblance to Nokia N800 internet tablet.
It will have multi-slide keyboard, with different layouts/keys revealed as you slide it in different directions. The display also slides in several directions for different functions – think Nokia N97 tilting display.

The new Nokia computer has a very interesting keyboard with diamond shaped, elevated keys inverted to each other. At first glance it seems very uncomfortable – the keys are pretty small (about half the size of normal key), actually the device itself is rather small. But when you start typing on it, it works very well. It is very difficult to hit multiple keys with a finger, even on purpose.

The Nokia Sparrow computer has a novel, transparent widget based interface. Each running application gets it’s own semi-transparent widget to put it’s content in. Multiple applications can be stored in memory “for months”. E.g. when you are writing a document or e-mail, just swipe the finger through the screen and semi-transparent panels with active or pre-set applications and their content pop-up. Select one and you can start working with it at once.

There are also rumours that Nokia and Qualcomm are working together on Netbooks based on Qualcomms Snapdragon Chipset.

For a company like Nokia, which is investing heavily in Web and GPS services, it has become crucial to stake out a course that embraces all portable Internet devices. The Nokia N8xx series of Internet tablets are the first proof of that, but the WiMAX enabled Nokia N810 was recently cancelled. However, through the recent, and historical, agreement made with Qualcomm, Nokia is suddenly getting access to Qualcomm's Gobi and Snapdragon technology.

With old handheld giants like Intel and Dell aiming to take a bite out of the future mobile market, and with graphics specialists such as Nvidia lurking in the background, it's understandable to see former enemies joining forces against the new competition. If there's one thing nobody can afford right now, it's old battles messing up future product lines that could attract carrier interest.

As such, it comes as no surprise that Nokia, according to Reuters, is looking into expanding its portfolio to include laptops. The only question is what operating systems Nokia will opt for, which actually leads to many questions: Will Nokia boost the development pace of Linux-based Maemo? Could the Symbian Foundation be working on a new netbook platform? Will Nokia offer Windows Mobile 7 netbooks?

In the meantime, the Nokia N97 is a starting step in their Netbooks ambition.

N97 is a high-end smartphone with a 3.5 inch touch display, QWERTY keyboard and social location software to allow people to use Facebook, MySpace and other sites on the go.

For the record, Nokia calls its latest device a “mobile computer.”

Nokia’s N97 has some sweet specs (statement, Techmeme)–it supports up to 48 GB of storage, has a 5 megapixel camera, music support and DVD quality video capture. The rub: The N97 isn’t what you’d call affordable. It has an estimated retail price of 550 euro before taxes and subsidies.

Mobile Broadband Report from UMTS Forum

A white paper from The UMTS Forum charts the technical and commercial path towards a new generation of high-speed mobile broadband systems.

Titled Mobile Broadband Evolution: the roadmap from HSPA to LTE, the white paper takes a holistic view of tomorrow’s widely predicted ‘data explosion’. In the global context of rapid growth in voice and IP traffic over both fixed and mobile networks, the paper paints a compelling case for 3G LTE (Long Term Evolution) as a vital next step for operators to anticipate and exploit the challenges of tomorrow’s data-driven world.

Following the large-scale introduction of HSPA, 3G network operators are already experiencing a massive increase in non-SMS mobile data traffic. Driven by applications such as consumer video, new networks with lower carriage costs per bit will be required to satisfy sustained growth in mobile broadband traffic over the next decade and beyond.

The white paper argues that HSPA+ and LTE technologies – deployed either in new or refarmed spectrum – will deliver spectral efficiencies capable of providing the required performance. The emergence of LTE as the next technology of choice for both 3GPP and non-3GPP networks will also result in unprecedented global economies of scale, further improving the cost per bit characteristics of these networks.

Based on an all-IP core plus a new radio interface based on OFDM, LTE promises downlink peak data rates up to 300 Mbps with increased spectral efficiency and more capacity for simultaneous users in the same cell.

LTE offers exceptional flexibility in the use of operators’ current and future spectrum assets. It can be deployed in either paired or unpaired spectrum: and while its full potential will be realised in bandwidths of up to 20MHz, it is also quite feasible to deploy LTE in far smaller tranches of just a few Megahertz.

A hallmark of LTE is the appearance of an Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network architecture, simplifying connectivity with 3GPP and 3GPP2 technologies as well as WiFi and fixed line broadband networks.

First technical deployments of LTE are expected in the second half of 2009, for commercial service openings between 2010 and 2012. The industry ecosystem that already surrounds LTE displays very strong operator and vendor commitment to LTE.

The phased release approach of 3GPP allows operators to introduce LTE in a flexible fashion, balancing their legacy network investments, spectrum holdings and business strategies for mobile broadband. The combination of multiband terminals with backwardly compatible infrastructure is central to this flexibility, allowing operators to build out service capability in line with device and spectrum availability. The deployment of LTE co-existing with WCDMA/HSPA promises to mirror the success of the deployment of WCDMA/HSPA co-existing with GSM/EDGE.

Industry support for LTE is not limited to the 3GPP community. LTE’s backward compatibility with 3GPP2 networks also raises the possibility of migration from CDMA2000 to LTE – as already signalled by several major operators in North America and Asia.

Looking beyond LTE, new access networks with wider spectrum bandwidths will eventually be needed to support anticipated dramatic increases of mobile traffic. Currently under study within the ITU, IMT-Advanced will support peak data rates of up to 100 Mbit/s for high mobility and up to 1 Gbit/s for low mobility scenarios. 3GPP will address these requirements in an upgrade for LTE networks referred to as “LTE-Advanced”.

Paper can be downloaded here.

Monday 2 March 2009

The endless world of Mobile Apps is getting bigger

Mobile industry experts have warned the sudden rush of mobile application stores could cause confusion for publishers and advertisers.

Last week Microsoft, Nokia and Orange all announced the launch of app stores, joining the likes of Apple, O2, Samsung and Google Android as the industry bids to drive use of content services.

The move to mobile apps aims to offer consumers a richer experience than can be achieved via a mobile internet site. However, there's a risk that stores with different development requirements, marketing strategies and distribution methods will lead to market confusion.

At a recent CES session, Nick Montes, president of Viva! Vision, noted that people want three things from their cell phones. "They want to communicate, and they want to save time and kill time," he said.

It's probably not a coincidence that nearly every mobile application available can neatly fit into one of those categories. Whether consumers want to communicate with their friends via Facebook Mobile, save time by checking traffic with TeleNav or kill time with an iBeer, these and many other applications are available through a growing list of mobile application vendors. The question developers are undoubtedly asking is: Are they making as much money as they should be?

The world of mobile application stores is an increasingly fragmented one. Apple offers the App Store. Google has the Android Market. Nokia unveiled the Ovi Store. Microsoft will offer the Windows Marketplace. Palm's Pre store is in the works, and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) is building its inventory.

The fact that Handango advertises support for 1,000 devices and eight different platforms should suggest the complexity of the mobile applications market. The proliferation of new platforms and devices certainly doesn't make anyone's job easier.

"It's so inefficient," says Roger Entner, head of Telecom Research for The Nielsen Company. "I mean, there's a reason why retail has a lot of department stores and very few manufacturer stores. Ultimately, you hope device manufacturers and carriers will realize the value in having a more centralized application store."

For developers, the world of mobile apps can be feast or famine, with luck playing a big part in any success. Marketing an application as a single title in libraries that range from Apple's 15,000 titles to Handango's 140,000 can seem like an exercise in futility. Presently, developers are basically left to fend for themselves when it comes to getting the word out about their products.

Although rags to riches success stories are coming out of the App Store (iFart has reportedly sold 350,000 copies), Barnard recently reported that App Cubby only broke even, with $65,000 in revenue and $65,000 in expenses. Still, he's excited about being a part of the App Store and thinks that an open discourse about the store's strengths and flaws can mean better apps as well as better devices. "Besides," adds Barnard, "I never got into this to become a millionaire. What I'm really excited about is that the App Store has allowed me to run an international, sustainable business out of my home. Not to mention, I love doing it."

According to a new study, some smartphone owners spent as much on applications for their cell phones last year as they did on the devices themselves.

Call it the Apple App Store effect, says the ABI Research study on mobile storefronts. Despite having one of the smallest catalogs of all the development platforms -- now around 15,000 app titles compared to 85,000 each for Palm and RIM -- Apple's iPhone App Store has generated significant sales across the board.

As a result, this year more mobile application storefronts will be launched from Nokia, Palm, RIM and Samsung, said Orr.

The study, conducted in November, asked 235 U.S. smartphone users who installed applications on their devices in 2008 how much they had spent in the last 12 months. ABI found that almost 17 percent doled out between US$100 and $499 for mobile apps. The majority spent between zero cents and $100.

Considering how cheap most mobile apps are, starting for as little as a buck at Apple's App Store, that translates into a lot of downloads. There has also been a lot of excitement about mobile apps thanks to Apple heavily marketing its App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Of course, notes Orr, the downside is that Apple has created the expectation that all mobile apps should be as cheap as the ones it offers. On Dec. 31, 96 percent of the 12,000-plus titles in the App Store cost less than $10. That's cheap compared to the rest of the industry, which charges between $7 and $25 a pop.

Not everything in the App Store is truly a bargain, though. While some simple utilities go for less than $1, there are a number of professional apps that go for far more, like a stage lighting app called iRa Pro which costs $900.

ABI projects mobile app sales to rise from "hundreds of millions of dollars" this year to over a billion dollars in 2010.