This Week (November 12, 2010)

Here are this week’s interesting stories in the mobile industry…

Smartphone Usage

This week Gartner released it’s report on mobile phone usage and though the numbers aren’t the same as IDC’s report from last week, the trends are the same.  Worldwide, smartphone sales increased 96% in Q3 from the same quarter last year.

A research study of college students use of smartphones revealed some interesting things.

  • 62.7% of US undergraduates surveyed had an internet-capable handheld device.
  • By 2010, 42.6% reported using the devices every day and two-thirds did so at least once a week.

Carriers

Sprint will light up its 4G WiMax service in Los Angeles by December 1.  Road trip for the Evo 4G owners!

AT&T has cut the price of the RIM’s flagship BlackBerry Torch to $99.99 from $199.99.  Poor sales or just starting a holiday push?

Verizon will start selling the Kin again? Nope, not an Onion story.  Why would they do this you ask?  Good question!  I presume it is because there are warehouses full of them that they are trying to dump sell.  One of the (many!) big problems with Kin was that it requiried an expensive smartphone data plan despite the fact it was really a feature phone.  The new release will be without that restriction.  But why would you want one of these phones without a data plan at all?  One day there will be a book about the whole Kin debacle and I’m sure it will be quite interesting.

Verizon has been talking LTE but where are the handsets?  Maybe this is one!  The picture of the rumored Droid Incredible HD (which is really just an Evo for Verizon) is showing 4G in it’s status bar.  So maybe early 2011 we’ll see some Verizon 4G handsets. Now we need to learn if Verizon will charge $10 more per month like Sprint is for 4G service!

Apple

iOS Release Coming Soon

Apple was just about to release iOS 4.2 (the gold master was distributed to developers a week ago) but apparently a problem with WiFi connectivity on iPads was discovered.  Apple has posted a new GM seed to developers today (the 12th) so I would expect the general release sometime next week.  iPad owners have been waiting since July so what’s another few days?

iTunes 10.1 is available and that is required for iOS 4.2 so you can still get a head start.

This release of iOS will be a must have update for iPad owners as it brings multitasking, folders, and all the good stuff iOS 4 brought to the iPhone this summer.  For iPhone/iPod users, it is a must have update because you can FINALLY change the font in Notes to something other than the horribly unreadable Felt Marker!

Carriers promoting Apple products

Two carriers (who are not AT&T) are using Apple hardware to lure customers to their data services.

Verizon has started selling an iPad/mifi combination earlier this fall but they have now launched TV commercials in prime time to promote the bundle.  It will be interesting to see if a two device solution is more compelling with Verizon than a one device solution (the iPad 3G) with AT&T.

Sprint will start selling the ZTE Peel 3G case for iPod Touch on November 14.  In addition to providing 3G data to the iTouch, the case also works as a mobile wifi hotspot like you see with Android devices.  The device costs $79 and Sprint is charging $30 for 1GB per month without contract.  That sounds kind of expensive to me, but carriers do charge more when you can tether other devices.

Android

Gingerbread Release

Android 2.3 (aka Gingerbread) supposedly will be released shortly.  Nexus One owners may see it appear through an OTA upgrade soon.  How long it will take each OEM and carrier to roll it out to existing devices is unknown.

New in Gingerbread is an updated UI, video chat support, and performance improvements.

Android for everyone

Android phones have broken all price barriers.  You can now get a low-end Android phone for free on contract (specifically T-Mobile Comet).  For $30 you can get a decent low-end Android phone (LG Optimus T) from Sprint or T-Mobile.  So this begs the question – why would buy a feature phone these days?

Microsoft

Is Windows Phone 7 already a bust?  Some are speculating that after only 40,000 WP7 phones were sold the first weekend they were available in the US but I think it is kind of early to make that kind of call.  I don’t know how much of the mobile pie Microsoft will end up claiming with WP7, but I think it would be a mistake to discount them yet.  Even though Apple, Google, and RIM own the vast majority of the smartphone market in the US, about 70% of mobile phone users are yet to be converted to a smartphone and that leaves Microsoft a huge market to try to win over.  Millenial Media says that WP7 ties iPad as one of the top platforms that developers plan to target for 2011.

Tablets

PlayBook in Q1 2011

RIM indicated that their PlayBook tablet will ship in US in Q1 2011 and will be priced “under $500″ (i.e. $499).  Depending on how it is marketed, they could have the same problem all 7” tablets have – it costs the same as an iPad but is half the size.

Galaxy Tab is out

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is now available on Verizon and T-Mobile.  Sprint will start selling the device on the 14th.   AT&T will also release the device this month.  The reviews are coming in and they’re mixed.

Gizmodo hated it, calling it a pocketable train wreck.

CrunchGear kind of liked it.  Best quotes:

  • “And if you thought you could give this device to your mom or something, don’t even think about it. Android isn’t for moms.”
  • “This device is what it is: a small, fairly powerful tablet for Android lovers.”

I haven’t played with the tab, but the criticism that seems most important to me is that there is no ecosystem of Android apps for that form factor.  iPad has lots of specialized apps, where the Tab is relying on phone apps scaling up.  What makes the iPad better than just big iPhone is that there are (a lot) of apps customized to take advantage of the larger screen.

Joojoo no more

Fusion Garage has stated that the controversial Joojoo tablet is no longer for sale.  All 90 people who bought one are quite upset I’m sure. Fusion Garage isn’t giving up the tablet business and said a replacement based on Android is in the works.  Whew!

Mobile Commerce

Boku is going to be an option for paying for Facebook credits.  This is interesting as both Apple and Google are looking at buying Boku.

FaceCash is going to be accepted at several Subway location in California.  FaceCash is an interesting POS solution.

 

And that’s the news…  Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!

 

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About Lee J.

Mobile Guy!
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