If the idea of watching your favorite movie on a mobile phone titillates you, mSpot’s new streaming movie rental service is right up your alley. The Palo Alto-based mobile entertainment company will begin providing streaming rentals of a particular flick a few weeks after its DVD release. The service can be accessed from 30 different phone models, including the iPhone, Palm Pre, Blackberry Tour and Storm. mSpot plans to charge $5 for every movie rental.
Each title will remain available for viewing for anywhere between 24 hours and 5 days after it is rented. Film buffs can also opt for one of the monthly subscription plans. “With so many people watching TV episodes and movies on their iPhones, mobile phones are now viewed as an entertainment device,” said Daren Tsui, mSpot’s CEO. Its film catalogue currently features 350 titles from Paramount Studios, Universal Pictures and the Weinstein Company.
Microsoft and Adobe have been duking it out on the desktop to become the definitive platform for rich media content, and now it looks like that fight is going mobile. We'll file this one under the rumor category, but BoyGeniusReport (BGR) says it has "pretty much confirmed" that Research in Motion is planning on integrating full Flash and Microsoft Silverlight support into the Blackberry browser.
You might be wondering how today's Blackberry devices can pull off the power needed for full Flash (not Flash Lite) and Silverlight support, and the answer is, they won't. BGR says we won't see either one until next summer when RIM will release more powerful handsets along with a major overhaul of the software.
The next summer release gives the competition plenty of time to catch up. As it stands, just a few Nokia devices boast Flash support, and Flash Lite at that, along with the HTC Hero. As for Silverlight, we don't know of any smartphone that supports the platform, but come next summer, we can't imagine Blackberry will be the only one.
According to Gartner, Inc., a business technology research company, cell phone sales totaled 286.1 million units during the second quarter of this year – a 6.1 percent decrease over the second quarter of last year. But, smart phone sales picked up considerable steam surpassing 40 million units in sales, a 27 percent increase from the second quarter of last year.
“Despite the challenging market, some devices sold well as consumers who would usually have purchased standard midrange devices either cut back to less expensive handsets or moved up the range to get more features for their money,” stated Carolina Milanesi, a research director at Gartner. “Touchscreen and qwerty devices remained a major driver for replacement sales and benefited manufacturers with strong, touch-focused midtier devices. However, the decline in average selling price (ASP) accelerated in the first half of the year and particularly affected manufacturers that focus on midtier and low-end devices, where margins are already slim.”
A great deal of this is credited to Apple’s expansion to a larger number of countries, which has had a clear effect on volume. Still though, companies like Nokia with their N97 and Research In Motion (RIM) with their popular BlackBerry line continued to dominate the number one and two positions respectively.
In the movie Braveheart, there's a pivotal scene involving Mel Gibson and a Scottish battalion where, as William Wallace, he tries to muster some courage from his ragtag company. Face painted blue and half-hysterical, he rallies them with a memorable speech about freedom and love of country. Then, the army proceeds to completely destroy the foreign oppressor in a fight to the bitter end.
In some ways, the current war on smartphone devices could be just as pivotal...and bloody. Companies such as Palm and Nokia have everything to lose if their platforms do not thoroughly crush the competition. Meanwhile, Apple has taken a strong lead with the iPhone, and BlackBerry devices do not appear to be losing any momentum, at least in the business sector. Google has entered the fight with their Android OS, attracting legions of developers to the platform in record time.
All of these operating systems support touch control, rudimentary multi-tasking, rich media, desktop-like Web browsing, and advanced messaging. Yet, only one OS is superior and will ultimately emerge as the victor. It might seem like Apple has already had their Braveheart moment, and maybe there is room for several companies at the top of the pile, but if Windows has taught us anything, it's that a single operating system can become so dominant that every other desktop OS becomes inconsequential. Developers lock into a platform, users get accustomed to it, and that OS wins the war.
We set out to put the major contenders to the test and find out which could become the most dominant. Really, it's too early to call Apple the victor, even though it would be easy to do so with 50,000 apps available and over a million iPhone users. As any technology analyst can tell you, there are actually significantly more Nokia and BlackBerry phones in use today than the iPhone, especially in Europe. The surprise is that the OS that seems to be winning the battle (the iPhone) may not eventually win the OS war in the long run.
Stalking your friends and family (and others?) just became a lot easier thanks to Google’s latest app for your mobile device, Latitude. The app simply works by using location-based technology built into one’s cell phone to track their every movement, so you can know exactly where they are, at all times.
Currently Latitude is available for Google’s G1, color-screen BlackBerrys, most Windows Mobile devices as well as other assorted smart phones. Google has mentioned that they’re working on a version for the iPhone, iPod touch and Sony Ericcson phones.
Sadly for Google, they’re a tiny bit late to the party, as other applications such as Loopt and Where are already following people on plenty of devices. But, given the name-power of a company such as Google (as well as the admittedly good work they do), there’s little doubt that this will catch on to be as popular, if not more, than the other guys.
Sound a little creepy? Well, truthfully it is. But, when you think of it as a tool for weary parents to keep track of their kids, or weary kids keeping track of their elderly parents it does make a little bit of sense.
Research In Motion, maker of the Blackberry, is in a bad way. The recent economic crisis has seen their stock fall from $148 to $60 in just 4 months, Reuters reports, leaving the company on shaky footing.
At the same time, Microsoft is looking to strengthen its presence in the handheld market, an arena recently invaded by two of the Redmond giant’s key rivals: Apple and Google. There have been rumors of Microsoft’s interest in RIM for years, but the Blackberry maker’s present financial situation has renewed and reinvigorated talk of a Microsoft takeover.
Peter Misek, an analyst with Canaccord Adams has said “RIM is a massive strategic fit [for Microsoft]. I’m fairly certain they have a standing offer to buy them at $50.”
It’s unknown how strongly the co-CEOs of RIM would oppose such a deal. If they resisted strongly, it’s considered unlikely that Microsoft would attempt a hostile takeover.
Ostensibly designed for business users who can’t have a cameraphone in the workplace, the BlackBerry 8820 is, in fact, a consumer-friendly device that includes one major upgrade over its predecessor, the 8800: Wi-Fi. And while this addition allows for speedier web browsing and better connections in spotty coverage areas, it comes with one major caveat—AT&T has chosen to allow Wi-Fi to carry only data, not voice, so VoIP, isn’t a possibility. That said, the inclusion of Wi-Fi is welcomed, particularly because RIM has made searching for and logging onto a network so simple.