Thursday, 4 June 2009

Nokia’s Ovi store launch didn’t go well

Nokia has desperately waited for the day when it can launch its Ovi store thus envisaging that it would provide a direct competition to the apples App store.

Rather what I have found out is that Nokia's worldwide launch of its much touted Ovi Store proved to be an utter disaster and didn’t go as planned.

For those of you whoc don’t know, the Ovi Store is Nokia's direct response to Apple's App Store, serving as a central content store for applications that can run on Nokia phones.

This was supposed to be a glorious day for mobile phone giant Nokia . The Finnish company got out-innovated by Apple a couple of years ago with the introduction and subsequent success of the iPhone and the iTunes App Store, and has been desperately trying to catch up with Cupertino’s disruptive initiatives ever since by launching a couple of new devices on one hand, and consolidating its software & services business on the other hand.

While users who entered through the Ovi Store device client encountered no issues, it appears that web users were experiencing a intermittent or extremely slow response.

I too went to Nokia Ovi Store website and have been trying to browse the selection of apps to select 10 that users should download to start off. I found that the store was down most of the time I was trying to snoop around, pages often didn’t load, and if they did they nearly always did extremely slowly. Despite the fact that I constantly needed to refresh and hope for pages to load, I figured that the service must be getting pounded from all the press it’s getting and was willing to forgive the slowness and regular downtime for the time being. But this has been going on for hours on end now, and there’s no sign of improvement.

To add insult to injury, i hear people with an Ovi account are unable to use their credentials for logging on to the new service, but that they are being told that there’s already a profile with their username when they attempt to register for a new account. That means Nokia is basically blocking registered users from using its new service at this point.

It seems that a large spike in traffic resulted in performance issues. An apology posted to the company's Ovi Blog confirmed the situation: "We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused Ovi Store users." According to Nokia, it was able to make "intermittent performance improvements" by adding extra servers. Hopefully, everything will run smoothly in the next few days.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

"Has Japan lost its fizz?"

Interesting article from the Independent, not related to mobiles though...

Walkman, compact disc, VCR, DVD, PlayStation; It reads like a roll call of the coolest gadgets of the last three decades, and Japan is responsible for making the bulk of them. From the Sony transistor radio in the 1950s to today's global megahit, the Nintendo Wii, the technological prowess of Japan's corporations has been a key engine of its economic success since its rise from the ashes of the Second World War.

But is the world's second largest economy a spent technological force? This concern has been sharpened by the brutal balance-sheet realities of Japan's once all-conquering consumer electronics sector. Hitachi leads the pack, filing a record annual loss of £5.3bn this month after announcing worldwide job cuts of 7,000 employees. Panasonic, the brand name of appliance giant Matsushita, has posted its first net loss in six years and will slash 15,000 jobs and shutter 40 factories. In the late 1980s, Matsushita was turning out two-thirds of the world's video recorders, but now finds itself in a battle for market share with cheaper rivals.

For Sony, a company synonymous with Japan's postwar resurrection, the plunge from greatness may be steepest of all, with the posting of a £141m operating loss for the final quarter of last year and the planned slashing of 16,000 people from its global payroll. The company that brought the world the Trinitron TV, quietly slipped to third place in the global television market this year, behind South Korea's Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. Even the PlayStation 3, touted as Sony's comeback product, has been outperformed by the Wii. More than three years after being appointed president, British-born Sir Howard Stringer is said to be deeply frustrated at his apparent inability to pull the company out of its death dive.

Almost wherever one looks, the picture isn't pretty. Toshiba and NEC's consumer electronics divisions are also in trouble; embattled Sanyo has just become a subsidiary of Matsushita. One of the few bright spots is the Wii, which has sold over 50 million units worldwide. But is that simply the fading light from a burnt-out star, wonders Jonathan Allum, Chief Japan strategist at KBC Asset Management in London.

"I think its fair to say that Japan's big brand names have lost some of their preeminence." The key question is whether this loss is cyclical or terminal. While much of the recent red ink can be blamed on plummeting global demand that will presumably recover, the Japanese electronics industry faces "historic challenges" that threaten the survival of its most famous brands, warns Tim Hornyak, author of Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots. "The 20th-century appeal and market share of Japanese brands has eroded amid the IT revolution and new rivals in electronics." True, Japan still sells over 60 trillion yen in consumer electronics every year. The profitability of finished products is slumping, however, with competitors in China, Korea and Taiwan increasingly churning out cheaper flat-screen TVs, DVD players, mobile phones and digital cameras. Analysts say Japan has clung to its hardware strengths even as the world around it has been transformed by the digital and Internet revolution.

Meanwhile, at the top end of the technological spectrum, fleet-footed rivals like Apple have swept Japan's dominance of the market for portable gadgets aside, replacing music and video players with a single device like the iPod. "The consumer electronics business has disappeared as we know it," points out Allum. "There has been a convergence of the computer and consumer electronics worlds; people download music and movies from their PCs now." But Mark Lytle, a tech nology consultant who runs the Japan-based Digital World Tokyo website, calls the convergence notion "patent nonsense."

"Converged things are really all about one core function (e.g. a mobile phone) with extras bolted on (e.g. a camera) as marketing points. It's rare to find one thing that performs more than one or two functions as well as a dedicated device would for each. The combination of iPod and phone in the iPhone is one shining example, which is why it gets so much press."

Many Japanese analysts remain unconcerned at the rise of the Asian tigers, which have been playing technological catch-up for "many years now," says Takuji Okubo, senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "The countries in the middle – Korea and Taiwan – have a much bigger problem than China or Japan. China doesn't threaten Japan directly; it threatens Korea and Taiwan." Many of the lower-end goods coming from China are in any case produced in Japanese-owned factories. Hornyak too believes that talk of Japan's technological demise has been "exaggerated," and that the country will stay ahead of its Asian rivals. As evidence, he cites a list of recent product breakthroughs, including Sony's compact HDR-TG1 high-definition camera and pocket-sized PCs, Nikon's D90 digital camera with video capture, and JVC's ultra-thin LCD TVs. "I believe current aggressive restructuring moves may better position Japanese makers to regain market share and their former leadership position."

Perhaps so. Sony is getting ready to dump about half its suppliers and shrink its electronics factories from 57 to 49. Matsushita and Hitachi are also preparing to swing the axe. But critics say Japan's problems have exposed an old Achilles heel: a lack of truly groundbreaking creativity. The transistor, IC circuit, LCD screen, PC, VCR and compact disc, after all, were invented elsewhere before being miniaturised and mass-produced by Japanese corporations. Once out in front, these corporations floundered in the face of more innovative foreign rivals.

Veteran Japan-based commentator Eamonn Fingleton calls that analysis part of the "creativity conceit" that consistently blindsides America and Europe to Japan's strengths. "In economic terms, probably the most significant form of creativity is the development of new, more efficient manufacturing technologies," says the author of In the Jaws of the Dragon: America's Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Hegemony.

Look beyond the eye-catching market for gadgetry, says Fingleton, and Japan is still the world's leading technological player behind the scenes. Toshiba, for example, manufacturers the mini hard drive that powers the iPod, Japanese companies monopolize the production of semiconductor-grade silicon, and make much of the optical fiber and laser diodes that form the backbone of the internet; Nikon and Canon supply many of the optical machines that print lines on computer chips, and so on.

"Anyone who thinks Japan is out of the game should look at trade statistics," advises Fingleton. "Japan's current account surplus last year totaled $211bn. That was nearly four times the total in 1989, the last year of the great Japanese boom. Japan has achieved this despite rapid growth by other East Asian nations." So down, but not out seems to be the message. Still, the country's corporations have no room for complacency. Falling profits will affect their ability to invest in R&D, and competition, especially from South Korea, is likely to intensify; Samsung has already stolen much of Sony's thunder. China, with about 10 times Japan's population, is an economic behemoth that will easily outpace its rival in the long term, outspending it in research and in trained scientists and engineers. "There is still an awful lot of stuff that Japan is doing technologically very well," says Allum. "But people are catching up."

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

All about latest Mobile Phones

Picked this one up from a Forum Oxford thread. Where to get the latest information and statistics about Mobile phones? Here are some of the links. If you know more please feel free to add them via comments.

Skyfire Browser for your Windows and Nokia mobiles

A complete browser is now available for your mobile phones. Unfortunately its only available for Windows Mobiles and Nokia N and E series phones. Fortunately I was able to download and try it on my ancient Nokia E61. Very impressed but I have to say it seems that when a big website is being downloaded then the phone/browser sort of grinds to a halt. I remember trying to use it when Beta came out but would crash while loading.

The release brings with it a host of improvements, such as improved navigation, zooming and interaction and a faster launch, lower power consumption, and new search functionality.

Also, while the new version of the browser starts up, you can begin typing URLs or search queries into the box at the top, saving time. That's added to existing flash support, so you can peruse your favourite video site.

Check the Skyfire website here.

To download the browser using your mobile, click here.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Is GPS really going to fall over?

The satellite navigation has become one of the staples of modern, hi-tech life. Using satellite navigation tools built into your car or mobile phone to find your way from A to B is one of the most basic things we are used to in our day to day activities.

But experts have warned that the system may be close to breakdown. A recent US congressional report says that the GPS system that could be on the verge of breakdown, thanks to a lack of proper investment.

The thought of the GPS not working itself is scary let alone it's a worrying possibility, not just for the Pentagon, which is having its ability to manage a complex service like GPS called into question, but for the companies that have built businesses on the solidity of the global positioning system.

As you might be aware that GPS data is made free to use by the US government, primarily with the concept of fostering the growth of the system and adoption by a wide range of companies - from the makers of in-car satellite navigation systems to high-end mobile phones, tagging the criminals and even child-locating wristwatches.

But what do they think about the possibility that GPS could fail?

The satellites are overseen by the US Air Force, which has maintained the GPS network since the early 1990s. The study by the US government accountability office (GAO) continbues to argue that mismanagement and a lack of investment in GPS technology means that some of the crucial GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as next year.

The impact on ordinary users could be significant, with millions of satnav users potential victims of bad directions or failed services. There would also be similar side effects on the military, which uses GPS for mapping, reconnaissance and for tracking hostile targets.

Among the companies that could be seriously affected is TomTom, the Dutch satnav maker that was founded in the early 1990s - around the same time as GPS went live.

The contents of the report from the government accountability office suggest that the reliability of GPS will begin to drop drastically, with at least five years of deterioration before things might get better.
However I still believe that GPS is, and remains, an excellent technology for all who use it. Although these report appears to be serious but I’m not overly concerned about this, and there is no reason to believe it will. I’m pity sure that the US government will pledge full support for GPS and will not allow it to falter.

I would be very much surprised if anyone in the US government was actually OK with letting it fail – it's too useful. Instead, the theory which is emerging now is that the worries generated over GPS are merely the push and pull of Washington politics and that the problem isn't really a serious one.The failings of GPS could also play into the hands of other countries – including opening the door to Galileo, the European-funded attempt to rival America's satellite navigation system, which is scheduled to start rolling out later next year.
Russia, India and China have developed their own satellite navigation technologies that are currently being expanded.

For the above reasons US government is taking it very seriously and it appears though are now considering to appoint organizations to monitor the development of GPS, which are good signs in terms of looking ahead to ensure GPS continues to deliver the great quality it has to so many people.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

CS Services over EPS study in Release 9

One of the Release-9 items is "Study on Circuit Switched (CS) domain services over evolved Packet Switched (EPS) access" which is described in 3GPP TR 23.879.

Martin Sauter has already done some analysis on this topic so I would advice anyone interested to read it on his blog here.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Telenor Sweden's LTE Misinformation

It took a long time for the Network operators to educate people about what 3G (and HSDPA to some extent) is. As a result Telenor has taken the bold step in educating the users in advance about how LTE (or 4G?) will be beneficial to everyone. Look at their website photos below.

What they are showing is that with 3G (HSPA) the maximum download speed is 7.2Mbps but with LTE one can get 150Mbps, hurray! A CD that takes 3 mins on DSL will now be downloaded in just 1 min!

As most engineers would know very well that Peak rates quoted for a technology is far from the real speeds. For HSDPA, with the network supporting 3.6Mbps DL, I generally get between 300Kbps to 1Mbps (early morning). With LTE, maybe this will increase but I am not expecting to see more than 10Mbps. The average rates might be still lower.

Setting wrong expectations can lead to increase in sales in short term but will definitely be harmful in the long run. I wont be surprised if they get sued in future for mis-advertisement :)

Check the Telenor's website out here.

Thanks to Agilent guys who pointed this out at the LTE World Summit.

Friday, 29 May 2009

New York Art using iPhone App

Check the Video of how this was drawn:

Portuguese illustrator Jorge Colombo, has graced the June 1st cover of The New Yorker Magazine with art he produced entirely on his iPhone. The original finger painting Colombo created in about an hour standing outside Madame Tussuad's’s Wax Museum in Times Square, has helped the magazine make a quantum leap forward from it's first issue released on February 17, 1925. Colombo's work brings fresh cultural relevance to a tired relic desperately in need of reinventing itself.

Jorge uses the iPhone app Brushes to create works of art he calls iSketches, focused on the city of New York which he now sells online as limited edition prints. Though Colombo has worked for many years as a professional Illustrator, graphic designer and photographer, it's his ultra-modern iPhone paintings that have delivered him into a period of personal renaissance. Colombo's iPhone paintings carry a distinct impressionist style, passionately romanticizing New York City landscapes and architecture like a possessed lover.

Jorge uses the iPhone app Brushes to create works of art he calls iSketches, focused on the city of New York which he now sells online as limited edition prints. Though Colombo has worked for many years as a professional Illustrator, graphic designer and photographer, it's his ultra-modern iPhone paintings that have delivered him into a period of personal renaissance. Colombo's iPhone paintings carry a distinct impressionist style, passionately romanticizing New York City landscapes and architecture like a possessed lover.

"It was a natural thing to try a new tool, it's a continuation of what I've been doing for years," Colombo told the iPhone Savior in brief phone interview. "The first sketches I did on iPhone were done on the subway but they were not very good, because I had not mastered the technique. iPhone art works better with wider brush strokes. You shouldn't try to do detailed drawings."

I immediately realized that Jorge Colombo is an artist that distills great insight and passion for art though he takes a casual approach to the work he produces on iPhone. The powerful Brushes ($4.99) application he uses as his digital tool of choice allows for his finished iSketches to be exported as QuickTime movies, retracing every finger swipe stroke by detailed stroke. (watch above)

"When I'm doing those drawings I sometimes erase it and do it again until I get it right. The app makes it look like every single brushstroke hits the mark and that's not true." Colombo quickly admitted, as he detailed how the Brushes output only records the finished strokes that the artist chooses.

"It makes me really happy when somebody gets the app on their iPhone, especially when they're not artists. I like that people do art as a hobby," Colombo said, "I hope that this will influence more people to do art with their iPhone."

Once millions of people discover Jorges' iSketches from the cover of New Yorker Magazine, I would expect a flood of artists will find fresh expression through a new medium known as iPhone painting. Unleashing the start of the iPhonian era of modern art. So if you happen to see Jorge Colombo, planted on the corner of some New York City street, remember that he's not just texting friends at a frenzied pace, he's busy fingering another masterpiece.

There’s a companion application, Brushes Viewer, that makes a video recapitulating each step of how Colombo composed the picture. Colombo leans heavily on the Undo feature: “It looks like I draw everything with supernatural assurance and very fast—it gets rid of all the hesitations.”

You can see more iPhone Artists here. You can see some more of Jeorge's New York Photos here.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Innovate now or loose market share

Is it wise to invest in this current economic climate was one of the most intriguing question that was flagged up very often in the past one year.

In a recently concluded Cambridge Wireless international event the above topic was discussed at length. Most of the speakers in the event recommended that now is the right time to invest but innovation is the key behind any success rather than investment alone.

There has never been an urgency like today to innovate in order to get out of the current recession and hence build the success for the future. A sensible investment backed with the right focus and indefatigable innovative ideas will no doubt lead us on the road to success and build the next generation wireless world.

Richard Traherne , Director of Cambridge Consultants’ Wireless Division advised delegates at Cambridge Wireless International Conference to innovate now, or lose market share. While speaking to an audience of international business leaders in the wireless communications industry at the Cambridge Wireless International Conference, Richard Traherne said the following:
“To survive in a market like this, it is not enough to stand still. It is critical to have the confidence to be innovative, by which we mean making business out of creativity.”

Key innovation now will certainly help businesses buck the trend in a recession and gain market share. Mr Traherne continued, “Key to this endeavour is to recognise that customers’ needs change in a downturn and so it’s critical to re-calibrate to ensure that they get what they now need, when they need it. There are plenty of examples of companies that grew out of past recessions: Virgin, Apple, Google, to name but three. We are dealing with companies that are being far bolder in the current recession than they would have been in the past, investing hard in technology despite making cuts elsewhere, to ensure that they grow market share and exit the downturn with competitive advantage.”

Most of the business delegates at the event shared the insights into innovative strategies, gained from nearly 50 years in the business of developing breakthrough technology-based products for clients in the medical technology, consumer, transport, cleantech and wireless industries.

To beat the current recession one of the obvious approaches suggested during the event was to reducing product cost but at the same time insisting on other more technologically innovative opportunities. It is very important that the idea regarding the product to enter the market is clear and well defined focus is a must together with the innovation and creativity. The picture below shows one such process as an example:
A company could, for example, seek to achieve premium price positioning by adding new functionality, or it could introduce a novel new service strategy to carve out market share. Another option is to develop an eco-system of partners in different markets to scale business and share risk.

What we are seeing a lot of today, and what is equally recommend even in a growth market, is the selective re-deployment of existing technology in new product applications. The mobile phone manufacturers are a shining example of this, and continue to be so.

The two day conference on 30 April and 1 May 2009, entitled ‘The Future of Wireless’, was conceived to provide a strategic vision of how mobile and wireless markets will develop over the next five years, looking at what technology is likely to deliver, balanced against customer expectations and real-world economic factors.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

LTE Rollout Commitments as of May 2009

When we hear about LTE Rollouts, we think of Verizon wireless because it plans to rollout the network end of 2009. According to report by 3G Americas, there are 120 operators who have committed to LTE rollouts. You can check the complete list here.