Mobile Update (January 01, 2011)

I didn’t think there would be much to report this week, but there are some interesting nuggets in the news.  Watch this space for the products and services introduced in CES in early January!

Android

Android MarketPlace is up to 200K apps.  The Apple App Store has 300K, but 200K is quite impressive nonetheless.  As a comparison, webOS and Windows Phone 7 have about 5000 each.

Texting bug in Android? Engadget is reporting that there is a bug in Android that could send a text message to the wrong number without the sender knowing. This bug has supposedly been around for a while, and is still in Gingerbread (Android 3.2).  It is hard to imagine that such a problem has not gotten more press, but if this is true is needs to be addressed quickly. I wonder what the legal implications are here. Could you sue Google if a text message sent to the wrong person cost you your job? or your marriage?

Devices coming out soon include:

– HTC Evo Shift 4G for Sprint.  Essentially an updated Evo with a slide out keyboard.

– HTC Thunderbolt 3G for Verizon.  Essentially an updated Evo with LTE support but important as one of the first LTE phones on Verizon.

– Moto Cliq 2 for T-Mobile.  Low end model that is almost a feature phone.  The first Cliq was one of the first Android devices, but it was really awful.  Here’s hoping they’ve improved with updated hardware and a newer version of Android.

An Android iPod Touch competitor finally emerges. Samsung will be showing off at CES the Galaxy Player, an Android based iPod Touch competitor. It is essentially a Galaxy S smartphone without the 3G radio and, more importantly, without the two year contract. I’ve wondered how long it would be before such a device existed. The iPod touch sells extremely well, providing an iOS device without the need for a data service contract. Android needs such a platform also. One concern is that Android’s media applications are not nearly as well regarded as the iPod software in iOS (or the Zune software in Windows Phone 7 for that matter!). Android also does not have the media ecosystem Apple or Microsoft have, although Google is planning on opening their own music store sometime. Hopefully Samsung will pre-load this with a decent media player and a decent media syncing solution. Pricing isn’t set, but it would have to be the same or less than an iPod Touch. I would think such as device would sell extremely well in the developer community.

Apple

iOS alarms seem to have a problem in 2011. Many users are complaining that non-repeating alarms are just not firing. This sounds similar to the problem with DST earlier this year, but without a simple work around. Apple has commented they are working on a fix for the problem.

Apple is expecting to ship 21M iPhones in Q1 2011 This is up from 19MM they previously were telling suppliers. Speculation that the increase is due to CDMA versions of the device for Verizon. I sure hope they announce the Verizon iPhone in January. I’m getting tired of all the speculation!

Microsoft

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 store has 5000 apps. That’s not bad considering the platform started shipping in October. As a point of reference, the webOS store also just passed 5000 apps and they’ve been open for over a year.

Tablets

It looks like RIM’s PlayBook tablet may be delayed due to battery life issues. The reason is that the QNX operating system is not optimized for battery powered devices and the device is getting two hours battery life.  As a comparison, the iPad gets 10 hours and Galaxy Tab about the same. Delaying the PlayBook’s introduction could be a big problem as iPad 2 and dozens of Android powered tablets are going to be coming out around the same time. Also, this does not bode well for replacing the BlackBerry OS with QNX in handsets.

Color Nook turned into a tablet. The Color Nook is much more of a tablet than a Kindle is.  Not surprisingly, it has already been rooted and standard Android apps are running on it including GMail, GCal, and… Kindle!  Now for $250 you can have a color Kindle reader. 🙂 But seriously, a color 7″ Android tablet for $250 is a great deal.

And speaking of Kindle, although it isn’t really a generic tablet, it is interesting that Kindle 3 became the best selling product ever on Amazon.com as it sales surpassed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Supposedly Amazon has sold 8M Kindles this year.  The $139 price probably helped that a lot. If they get the cost under $100 they won’t be able to make enough of them.

And speaking of publishing, it is looking like the iPad is not the savior of the magazine business that many hoped it would be. The sales numbers of iPad based magazines has dropped for pretty much every publisher from when the titles were first released. From what I’ve heard, there are two big problems with iPad magazines. First is that there is nothing different about them; they are just scans of the paper magazine. A model that takes advantage of the platform may be more compelling, but would take a good amount of work to put together too.  That is on the publishers to solve.  The second problem is that the purchasing models are difficult to work with. There is no subscription but rather the user must purchase each issue.  iOS 4.3 is supposed to have a better model for subscribing to content, so that may help. Maybe magazine publishers can give access (or discounts) to current subscribers to get the digital versions of the content.

Mobile Commerce

PayPal reports a 300% increase in mobile payments this holiday season (Nov 15-Dec 15) from last year. That is over $700MM in total payment volume through mobile. That is up from $25MM in 2008. This article in mobilecommercedaily has an interview with Bill Zielke, senior director of merchant services at PayPal.
See here and here.

Privacy

A class action lawsuit is being filed in California against Apple and several app developers for collecting information that can be used to identify the user.  Other than Apple, the defendants include Apple, Pandora, The Weather Channel, Dictionary.com, and Backflip. The charge is that demographic data plus the UDID (unique iDevice identifier) are enough to identify a person and that information is being shared with advertisers.

And that’s the news! Good night and have a pleasant new year.

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About Lee J.

Mobile Guy!
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