In an effort to curb crime, the Mexican government has been mandated that all mobile phones users must register their identities with federal authorities. Individuals can do so by sending the necessary information via text message. Mexican officials have been scrambling to get users to register by the deadline this Saturday. If people fail to do so, the law says their lines must be disconnected.
The goal of the law is to avoid the anonymous number that many organized crime syndicates utilize to commit crime. Most of Mexico's 84 million mobile phones are prepaid handsets that can be purchased cheaply and require no contract. Critics of the law say that the criminal element will simply register phones under other people's names.
As of today, 30 million lines remain unregistered. It is unclear if the government will extend the deadline, or proceed with disconnection. The country's largest mobile carrier America Movil is urging lawmakers to hold off. How would you feel if you were subject to this law?
Two new J.D. Power surveys have shown that consumer satisfaction is highest among those that use touchscreen smartphones. On a scale of 1000 points, touchscreen phones scored 771. Traditional feature phones weren’t far behind though, with a rating of 756. Apple’s iPhone is obviously included in the touchscreen category, and its 810 rating pulled up the smartphone average. In fact, Apple came out first in overall satisfaction. Though, RIM did well too with a score of 741.
Participant in the survey were asked to rate their phone’s ease of operation, operating system quality, features, design, and battery power. Feature phone users did not have to answer questions about their phone’s operating system, because – well, none of them are very good. The survey also found that people are sharing media at ever increasing rates. Over 50% of respondents with smartphones said they share pictures, music, or video with friends on their phone.
When it comes down to it, is it really that surprising that people spending significantly more money on phones are happier with them? It seems likely that at least some feature phone users are hankering for a smartphone. If you have a smartphone, how do you feel about it?
It’s the dream we dare not hope for: buy any phone from a carrier and be able to put a different carrier’s SIM card in it. It’s a dream that the good people of Japan may soon be living. The Japanese government is looking into the SIM lock system in that nation. Three of Japan’s major cell carriers prohibit customers from swapping SIM cards. This can be a major pain when changing networks, or traveling.
NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile carrier, responded frigidly, saying "careful discussions" would be needed. A NTT DoCoMo spokes person stressed that their “unique” services are dependent on their “unique” handsets. He was mainly referring to special data services NTT provides on their network. The communications minister seems serious about this review, so before long the Japanese could have an entirely different cell phone market. Carriers may feel threatened enough to raise fees, however.
What would it be like in world without carrier locked phones? It could either be a paradise of phone choices, or a nightmare of increased carrier fees. What do you think?
The launch of the Google Nexus One had its share of mishaps, with poor customer service, unexpected fees, and spotty 3G. As the weeks passed the superphone was selling, but not very fast. We recently heard that the Nexus One sold only 135,000 phones in the time it took the iPhone to reach 1 million. Many used this to declare the Nexus a flop. HTC CEO Peter Chou disagrees with that.
Chou points to the new ground broken by the Nexus One. It was sold by Google in a new way, bypassing the carriers. It was also the first to run Android 2.1. Chou believes the phone’s launch gives his company more clout, which is good considering the legal situation they find themselves in. When speaking about the numbers, Chou explained, "[Google's] goal with the Nexus One was to really show how good Android can be."
HTC believes that the recognition they got from the Nexus One can serve them well, even as they also move ahead with Windows Phone 7. Have you ever owned an HTC phone? How did you like it?
In January 2009 Vodafone made what seemed like a good investment buying mapping software maker Wayfinder for about $30 million. A year later it’s looking like a pretty awful deal in the wake of free navigation solutions from both Google and Nokia. Facing the inevitable, Vodafone is closing Wayfinder saying, “We could not charge for something that others gave away for free.”
Vodafone has also invested several million additional dollars in Wayfinder, so it can’t be easy to walk away. It’s unlikely they’d do so without being sure they could not compete with Nokia’s Ovi Maps. This really isn’t much of a surprise, especially considering Nokia’s huge presence in Europe. Google Navigation isn’t even available yet in Europe, but clearly Vodafone wasn’t going to sit around and wait for two free solutions to start eating their lunch.
This may be the eventual fate of all the carrier branded navigation apps. Considering the poor quality of many of them, that might not be a bad thing. Would access to a free navigation app from Google or Nokia sway you in your next phone purchase?
Get ready to toss your gaming console out a window. Well, maybe not, but according to Imagination Technologies you might be carrying a phone as powerful as a PS3 in three years. Imagination makes the PowerVR mobile graphics chips found in phones like the iPhone and the Droid among others. The chips are licensed to hardware makers that must incorporate them into hardware. This takes about three years from start to finish. That bit about the PS3 level graphics? They know because they’re developing that chip right now.
Imagination claims that this level of performance will be possible with the usage of multiple processing units. In theory, three to four can be added to a phone without causing too much more power draw. Current PowerVR chips have the theoretical potential to do hardware accelerated Flash and GPGPU computing. Imagination say that internal tests have shown a 300% increase in Flash performance when hardware accelerated. Yeah, we’ll take that.
Let’s hope that Imagination Technologies was being straight here. Of course, much of this relies on hardware makers using the chips. But if the near future holds 720p gaming on our mobile phones, flying cars and jetpacks can’t be far behind… right?
An unsuspecting Vodafone customer got quite a nasty surprise when she got her new HTC Magic (MyTouch 3G in the states). Upon plugging it into her Windows PC, Panda Antivirus sounded the alarm. It turns out that the new phone contained several malware programs including an installer for the Mariposa botnet.
This wasn’t just any poor soul, lost in the wilds of technology though. Nope, the victim of this sneak attack works for Panda Security. As you can imagine, her coworkers were terribly interested in the phone. Closer examination showed an autorun.inf and autorun.exe that would load the malware on any PC the phone was plugged into. Panda confirmed that the botnet was active, and when installed the software “phoned home” for instructions. They also found a Confiker variant and a password stealer.
Vodafone recently discontinued the Magic, so after current stocks are sold out no one will need fear the phone baddies. Well, until the next time this happens. So how did a Spanish hacker group get their malware on this phone? And more importantly, are more phones affected? It seems unlikely there was just one infected phone, and that it happened to be sold to a Panda employee.
So AT&T finally has their first Android phone, the Motorola Backflip. Whether or not you like the unusual design and Yahoo search (really?), it runs Android and it’s on AT&T. That by itself is remarkable. Now that the phone is available, users are finding yet another surprise that separates this from all the Android phones that came before it. It turns out that the option to allow apps from non-Android Market sources has been disabled.
It has long been held that obtaining apps from the Android Market was just a polite suggestion from Google. Users could get apps from various third-party stores and websites. Additionally, many beta apps are only distributed in this way. The reason for the change is currently unclear and no one is talking. This leaves the Backflip in much the same place the iPhone is, stuck with apps from only a single source, and in this case, a much smaller source.
AT&T has certainly had their way with Android here. Consider the removal of Google search, the addition of lots of AT&T bloatware, and now the locking down of app installs. This makes us wonder what AT&T’s Android strategy will look like. Will future Android handsets be similarly limited?
It may be a while before the new cell standard known as Long Term Evolution (LTE) comes to your neck of the woods, but Verizon is already deep in testing of the new technology. They’ve been so good as to release some early speed estimates based on their tests in Boston and Seattle. The results are pretty good, but frankly not as good as we’d hoped.
According to Verizon’s PR statement, the LTE network is substantially faster than the current Ev-Do Rev. A network Big Red is running. This certainly doesn’t surprise anyone though. Verizon engineers were able to get an impressive 40-50Mbps down and 20-25Mbps up with ideal conditions. You know, the sort of ideal conditions you will basically never experience. Real world speeds should be around 5-12Mbps down and 2-5Mbps up.
This is nice (really, we’d love to get speeds like that on a cell network), but a little discouraging when you consider the theoretical max for this new LTE equipment is in the neighborhood of 100Mbps down. This is still preliminary, and the network could be stronger than expected when it rolls out to 25-30 markets later this year. With T-Mobile expected to bump up their data to HSPA+ 3G at 21Mbps maximum speed, the initial difference may not be as stark as we thought.
The recent proliferation of Windows versions attests to Microsoft’s love of multiple product SKUs. Until now the company’s mobile products have escaped this sort of segmentation, but no more. Microsoft has confirmed that there will be at least two versions of mobile operating systems sold and supported in the Windows Phone family.
Windows Phone Starter Edition will basically be Windows Mobile 6.5, but slightly more limited. Speculation is that this will mostly be a play for emerging markets like Vista Starter and Win7 Home Basic. According to Microsoft all version of their mobile OS will get access to the new mobile version of Office when it is complete. All OEMs will have access to the new Starter SKU as well.
The odd thing here is that in explaining features, Microsoft claims that Starter will support only 2G GSM networks, but will have support for EV-DO Rev A for CDMA. This seems at least in part to be a ploy to force nations with 3G GSM networks to move to Phone 7. CDMA is less common in other nations, so perhaps Microsoft feels its inclusion won’t hurt. Do you think the multi-SKU strategy can work for Microsoft in the mobile space?