Posted tagged ‘iPhone’

HTC is a friend of Android

June 25, 2009

HTC the cell phone maker was the first company to come out with an Android phone with the G1. They now have two more announced. This latest one has no certain date in North America, but it looks good. I think I might want one.

The specifications look good:

Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
Bluetooth® 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g
HTC ExtUSB™ (11-pin mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one)
3.5 mm audio jack
5.0 megapixel color camera with auto focus
Talk time:

*
Up to 420 minutes for WCDMA
*
Up to 470 minutes for GSM

Standby time:

*
Up to 750 hours for WCDMA
*
Up to 440 hours for GSM
microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)

This is certainly going to be a compelling phone. It is no secret that I like Android. This added to the their previous phone leads me to believe that Android could take Apple’s iPhoneOS to task. I’m thinking about jumping into mobile development and Android is looking way better than Apple right now to me.

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Looks like Palm Pre is after Blackberry

June 11, 2009

Looks like bfpower is correct. Ars review essentially says they think Palm pre is more after the blackberry crowd rather than the iPhone. From the looks of it they are right, but I have to say that as an iPhone user they could easily entice me as well.

From the article:

My experience so far with the Pre is that it’s as good a messaging device as the iPhone is a media device. And while it has solid Exchange and push e-mail support, where webOS really excels—at least, for the moment—is in the way that it embeds the Pre seamlessly within the much-hyped “cloud” messaging ecosystem. This cloud messaging integration is most spectacularly showcased in the way that webOS handles contacts and instant messaging.

In all, Palm put as much effort into making the webOS a first-rate messaging experience as Apple did into making the iPhone a first-rate media experience, and with just as much success. So if most of your communication consists of Twitter, email, SMS, and IM with the people in your Facebook network and/or Gmail contacts list, then the Pre will do for your personal messaging what your work BlackBerry does for your business messaging.

Now if Pre can come out on a different network than Sprint.

Should Apple worry about iPhone competition?

June 3, 2009

Wired ran this story, “Why Apple Can Afford to Phone It In With the Next iPhone.” It basically reads that the next iPhone, expected to be announced next week, will likely be a minor upgrade. Of course this is all based upon rumors, but as much as Apple tries to be secret typically the rumors aren’t that far off. Aside from the fact that this is all based upon rumors I am inclined to agree with the analysis with one word of caution.

Recently I have been writing about the Android rumors. I really am excited about it, but I have mentioned that my excitement is when they mature and that this is a good indication of what will be when my current iPhone contract runs out. Let me back up. When the iPhone first released the blogs were all abuzz and people lined up for days to get their hands on the first, worthless IMO, iPhone iteration. I largely ignored the first iPhone, not because I didn’t see the bright future, exactly the opposite, but because I knew the future held much more promise than their first release. Apple tested the waters and they were good. So good that they quickly released the iPhone 3g. It was at that point that the hardware was complete enough, though they could have done much better, and the software was complete enough, app store anyone, to grab my attention. Indeed, with that launch Apple sealed their prominence that every other hardware maker aspires to have now. But what this shows is that everyone must go through the growing pains. When Apple released the original iPhone they probably never imagined that the app store would take off like it did. They may not have imagined how people would eventually use or want to use the hardware. The initial released was the baby stage for what would blossom into a powerful teenager. It was and is at this point that I decided it was ready for my use, and it has proven up to the task. With the release of version 3.0 of the software Apple will finally mature the iPhone into adulthood. Where we are now with all other smart phones (Palm pre, G1, Android, Storm) is still infancy. It took Apple over a year for each stage to mature so it only makes sense that all others would follow a similar path to maturity if not slower. So as I see it Apple owns the smart phone market. All other competitors fail on multiple levels, but not for lack of trying. In this way the Wired author is correct. Apple can release a minor upgrade to the iPhone and not worry about losing market prominence or superiority.

With all that said my word of caution is this. Now that Apple is an adult it stands out from the rest, but it is now perched on a ledge waiting to be pushed off. Like I said all the other competitors are still in infancy, but they are showing good signs for quick maturation. For Android there is already a robust API it just needs better hardware. Palm Pre could shake up the industry, but as of yet hasn’t launched, and will likely face problems being tethered to Sprint. The Storm with all of its hardware advantages loses on apps and development platform. These are the same problems Apple faced and overcame. They may have made it look easy, but soon enough competitors will figure things out. Just give them time. Apple may not need to launch a hot new iPhone this time around, but they better have something good coming or else they may find themselves mediocre, compared to the competition, in the not so distant future.

This is why I am so optimistic. There are so many uses for smart phones. I don’t know that I could ever go back, but I am not sold on Apple or the iPhone. Right now I think I purchased the best there is, but the horizon looks good for some serious competition once it is time to upgrade.

Android news

June 1, 2009

This would be quite welcomed by me. Ars is reporting that up to 20 Android phones may be released by the end of the year. I am a huge fan of Android…at least I want it to succeed. Currently I am an iPhone owner, but honestly if the G1 had been a little compelling at the time I might have switched. I am hoping that as more Android phones are released more developers will create compelling apps for the system. There is no word on the “who, what, when, or where,” just yet. The article seems to suggest at the end that this may be more over in Europe with the America following next year:

He also pointed out that, because of the highly competitive handset market in the US, carriers here wouldn’t be as likely as those in Europe to jump on the new devices unless they are distinctive. That means Android fans in the US who aren’t keen on switching to T-Mobile for the G1 may have to wait a little longer than our friends on the other side of the pond, but if Google is on a roll with its distribution agreements, it undoubtedly won’t be long before more phones pop up.

I think it is a bit of a misnomer to say that we have a “highly competitive handset market.” Mainly because that would suggest that other economies don’t. The reality is that we have a highly competitive service provider market who artificially create scarcities to try to lure customers to their service. ATT makes pennies off of the sale of an iPhone, but the data charges and 2 year contract mixed with the sexy appeal of being the only iPhone provider give it a competitive advantage. There are people who would die to get an iPhone but won’t touch ATT. In other countries, particularly Asia, you purchase your phone first and get a service provider second. I think it is fair to say that they have a much more competitive handset market where we have a “highly competitive” service provider market. in Asia the handset makers actually have to do marketing work to lure you into a purchase. Personally I like the Asian way. Back when cell phones were brand new technology it made sense to subsidize phones based upon a 2 year contract. People were skeptical of the service already fearing high prices, and cell phones that comparatively do little cost exorbitant amounts of money. At this point, however, I would be more than willing to purchase a phone outright to avoid a contract. In theory this is possible (though not with an iPhone), but in practicality it isn’t. Given the two major carriers, verizon and ATT, a phone purchased for one would not necessarily transfer to the other giving little reason not to subsidize your phone.

So other than that slight tangent I believe this is good news. I think my timing will work out just right that when my iPhone contract ends I’ll have a couple of compelling choices to choose from as an alternative.

mp3HD or FLAC

March 26, 2009

When Apple’s iPod became mainstream and the most popular portable music player with came the standardization of the mp3 file format. In some ways this format has served us well. It simplified things so we didn’t have to worry about compatibility. Despite other formats that are open or better mp3 makes for a universally positive experience. One key feature of mp3 is that it compresses the music file and takes out “unneeded” data. This is why mp3 is dubbed a lossy file format. This is good because file sizes remain small while the whole of the music remains the same. The bad part is that certain aspects, particularly ranges of music, are dropped to save file space. There is great debate about how noticeable or serious this is, but nonetheless mp3s are lower quality than cds. At the time giving up quality for quantity was needed with the small file capacity of most audio players. Even our HD based computers were limited. Today this isn’t so much the case. You can easily get cheap 500GB and even 1TB drives, external or internal, and flash memory is increasing in capacity and decreasing in price. I’m fairly certain I would fill up my 8GB iPhone, but in a few years iPhones will likely have 3-5X the capacity at the same size and price. So we may be at a turning point. A turning point where we can take back quality and still have quantity. This leads to lossless file formats.

Ars ran a good article discussing mp3HD. On the surface it would sound like a good thing. Take the popularity and universality of mp3 and make a lossless “HD” version. There are a few problems in the details as Ars points out. First the basic premise is to have both the mp3 compressed version and a compatible HD version. That is essentially doubling the file size and while capacity is growing the last thing you want to do is add extra burden during the transition. There are few other details, but you can read the article for that. What I want to point out is there is already a gold standard in lossless file formats. It is FLAC. Now yes I am an open source nut, but here me out. FLAC is currently already support in most every audio “mp3” player out there with the exception of Apple’s line of mp3 players. Most people already recognize that if you want a lossless library FLAC is what you use…as such the few store fronts that sell digital lossless files do so in FLAC already. Since FLAC is open source there is no licensing, regional, patent, or development limitations. Basically I am arguing that FLAC is already the platinum standard for lossless formats and because it is open source it becomes a win win situation. Believe it or not mp3 is not an open or free codec. You have to license your product to play the files. When you buy Windows or Mac you are paying to play your mp3s. Now all of that happens in the background, but it is still happening. Now I am not a purist, in fact, my library is mostly made of mp3s. I see no reason to switch to the open OGG format because it isn’t universal. But if FLAC is already well supported and is the non-stated lossless file format why muddy the waters with another closed and licensed product? Believe me when I say that if the world starts heading towards lossless distribution of music Apple will come around.

Honestly, I hope mp3HD never sees the light of day. We have an industry leader and we should keep it that way…and of course since it happens to be open source I am all the more for it. If you are considering going lossless I hope you consider FLAC as your format of choice.

Apple Netbook?

March 10, 2009

Will Apple release a netbook? That is the word heading around the rumor mill. First lets backup. Apple prides itself in being secretive and keeping people in the dark until product launch. Because of that secrecy it is sort of a game for outsiders to be the first to predict a product before Apple does. So you’ll see many predictions and every once and a while someone gets it right.

Personally I would like to see a true netbook come out of Apple. In hard economic times why not cut the consumer some slack and release a cheaper end portable computer along the same lines of the Mac Mini. They don’t have to pay it too much attention or even make it look that nice, it would just be nice to have an option for a mac under $1000. Hey it could even be above $500 and I would still think it was a deal.

In the article linked above Ars argues that the iPhone serves the gap of no netbook. I couldn’t disagree more. The iPhone is a great device for specific purposes. I carry it with me everywhere I go and it is always on the internet. I can get quite a bit of work done on the iPhone. I don’t “need” a netbook, but my wife on the other hand does. She needs to be able to open, edit, and print documents of various types. She needs to be browse multiple websites at once. She usually needs to do so at school where wifi is readily available. Not to mention that the closed nature of the iPhone is quite annoying (give me flash and let me do video chat). Netbooks are paired down computers, but they are still open computers nonetheless. My wife can watch any streaming video she wants, she can type papers if she needs, she can play some games, and can open any document type she wants. Can the iPhone do that? You let me plug in a keybaord on my iPhone and setup printers and install non-Apple apps on my iPhone and I might consider it a replacement for a netbook.

I don’t want to get into the game of predictions, but as this recession continues and Apple continues to watch their market be eclipsed by the likes of Acer because of netbooks one has to imagine they are considering entering that lucrative market. It is true that Apple sales are steady, but in hard economic times you have to be innovative and the companies that aren’t get left behind in the dust. So while these rumors may be totally baseless, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future Apple releases a low end netbook to the market.

Phones, Phones and more Phones

February 18, 2009

I like to discuss phone technology. I believe we are at a point in time where the price for data plans is low enough and the need for phones to do more than just dial a phone call has been reached. I think the iPhone has played a significant role on both fronts. First they created a phone that allowed people to do all the things they could possibly dream of doing and secondly got, at least ATT, cell phone carriers to create data plans that were affordable and virtually unlimited. Now you know that I settled on the iPhone after seeing the G1. Deep down I really would rather have a more open/opensource phone, but wasn’t too pleased with the G1’s first offering. Now it seems that there are more competitors coming to the market.

First there is now a second Android smartphone announced. One of my problems with the G1 was that it was boxy and ugly, not that I require the sexiest phone out there, but hey wouldn’t it be nice? This Android phone looks to fix some of those problems. Beyond that details are sparse, but as far as the OS goes Google seems to be picking up the pace a little bit. Actually if you take the time to look there are some very cool apps for Android that won’t work on the iPhone, but so far nothing that would justify a switch.

The second phone is the Palm Pre. This phone has been the source of some major buzz, partly because it looks and works about as sexy as Apple’s iPhone, but also because it utilizes the touch interface Apple has been threatening lawsuits. Details are now emerging including the fact that the OS is based upon Linux. The application framework looks to be pretty sleek as well. All in all I look forward to the launch of this phone and hope that Palm’s app store will be a little more open than Apple’s.

Still no word about when the Palm Pre will be released or by what carrier, and the second Android looks to be in Europe right now, but it shouldn’t be too long before there are some very inspiring choices here in the states for smartphones. I’ll keep you posted on my findings. I am still hoping to get my hands on a G1 before too long.